US intelligence warns of ‘ever more diverse’ threats

Traditional adversaries will continue attempts to gain and assert influence, taking advantage
of changing conditions in the international environment—including the weakening of the
post-WWII international order and dominance of Western democratic ideals, increasingly isolationist
tendencies in the West, and shifts in the global economy. These adversaries pose challenges within
traditional, non-traditional, hybrid, and asymmetric military, economic, and political spheres. Russian
efforts to increase its influence and authority are likely to continue and may conflict with U.S. goals
and priorities in multiple regions. Chinese military modernization and continued pursuit of economic
and territorial predominance in the Pacific region and beyond remain a concern, though opportunities exist to work with Beijing on issues of mutual concern, such as North Korean aggression and continued
pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile technology.
Despite its 2015 commitment to a peaceful nuclear program, Iran’s pursuit of more advanced missile
and military capabilities and continued support for terrorist groups, militants, and other U.S. opponents will continue to threaten U.S. interests. Multiple adversaries continue to pursue capabilities to inflict potentially catastrophic damage to U.S. interests through the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which includes biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.
In addition to these familiar threats, our adversaries are increasingly leveraging rapid advances in
technology to pose new and evolving threats —particularly in the realm of space, cyberspace,
computing, and other emerging, disruptive technologies. Technological advances will enable
a wider range of actors to acquire sophisticated capabilities that were previously available only to
well-resourced states.
No longer a solely U.S. domain, the democratization of space poses significant challenges for the United States and the IC. Adversaries are increasing their presence in this domain with plans to reach or exceed parity in some areas. For example, Russia and China will continue to pursue a full range
of anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. military effectiveness and overall security.
Increasing commercialization of space now provides capabilities that were once limited to global powers to anyone that can afford to buy them. Many aspects of modern society—to include our ability to conduct military operations—rely on our access to and equipment in space. Full report here.

Strategy Promotes Integration, Innovation, Partnerships, and Transparency
for the 17 Intelligence Elements


Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats unveiled the 2019 National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) today. The NIS is the guiding strategy for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and will drive the strategic direction for the Nation’s 17 IC elements for the next four years.

The 2019 strategy is the fourth iteration for the NIS and seeks to make our nation more secure by driving the IC to be more integrated, agile, resilient, and innovative.

“This strategy is based on the core principle of seeking the truth and speaking the truth to our policymakers and the American people in order to protect our country,” said Director Coats. “As a Community, we must become more agile, build and leverage partnerships, and apply the most advanced technologies in pursuit of unmatched insights. The 2019 NIS provides a roadmap to achieve this end.”

The NIS is one of the most important documents for the IC, as it aligns IC efforts to the National Security Strategy, sets priorities and objectives, and focuses resources on current and future operational, acquisition, and capability development decisions. Also, the NIS provides the IC with the opportunity to communicate those national priorities to the IC workforce, partners, oversight, customers, and fellow citizens.

The 2019 NIS focuses on:


  • Integration – harnessing the full talent and tools of the IC by bringing the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
  • Innovation – making the IC more agile by swiftly enabling the right people and leveraging the right technology and using them efficiently to advance the highest priorities.
  • Partnerships – leveraging strong, unique, and valuable partnerships to support and enable national security outcomes.
  • Transparency – earning and upholding the trust and faith of the IC’s customers and the American people.

The NIS was developed in response to rapid advances made by our adversaries and the ODNI’s recognition that the IC needs to change to more effectively respond to those challenges.

In his 2019 NIS opening message, the DNI states, “We face a significant challenge in the domestic and global environment; we must be ready to meet 21st century challenges and to recognize emerging threats and opportunities. To navigate today’s turbulent and complex strategic environment, we must do things differently.”

To guide the IC in facing these challenges, the NIS identifies and explains the IC’s objectives – both what the Community must accomplish (mission objectives) and what capabilities the Community must build in order to do so (enterprise objectives).

The seven mission objectives are 1) strategic intelligence; 2) anticipatory intelligence; 3) current operations intelligence; 4) cyber threat intelligence; 5) counterterrorism; 6) counterproliferation; and 7) counterintelligence and security.

The seven enterprise objectives are 1) integrated mission management; 2) integrated business management; 3) people; 4) innovation; 5) information sharing and safeguarding; 6) partnerships; and 7) privacy, civil liberties, and transparency.

“These objectives will allow the IC to continue the crucial work of supporting our senior policymakers, warfighters, and democracy while increasing transparency and protecting privacy and civil liberties,” said Director Coats.

The NIS includes the seven Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community: 1) mission; 2) truth; 3) lawfulness; 4) integrity; 5) stewardship; 6) excellence; and 7) diversity. The NIS also includes the Principles of Intelligence Transparency for the Intelligence Community.

“Transparency will be our hallmark, and I cannot stress this enough – this is not a limitation on us,” said Director Coats. “Transparency will make us stronger. It is the right thing to do, across the board. This is the reason we publish the NIS at the unclassified level.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence oversees the coordination and integration of the 17 federal organizations that make up the Intelligence Community. The DNI sets the priorities for and manages the implementation of the National Intelligence Program, which is the IC’s budget. Additionally, the DNI is the principal advisor to the President and the National Security Council on all intelligence issues related to national security.


Hey Moscow, What About the ‘neuroweapons’ Used in Cuba attacks

General view of the U.S. Embassy in Havana after the U.S. government pulled more than half of its diplomatic personnel out of Cuba in September 2017. (Photo: Ernesto Mastrascusa/Getty Images)


Neurotechnologies as Weapons of Mass Disruption or Future Asymmetric Warfare: Putative Mechanisms, Emerging Threats, and Bad Actor Scenarios

Intelligence agencies investigating mysterious “attacks” that led to brain injuries in U.S. personnel in Cuba and China consider Russia to be the main suspect, three U.S. officials and two others briefed on the investigation tell NBC News.

The suspicion that Russia is likely behind the alleged attacks is backed up by evidence from communications intercepts, known in the spy world as signals intelligence, amassed during a lengthy and ongoing investigation involving the FBI, the CIA and other U.S. agencies. The officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the intelligence.

The evidence is not yet conclusive enough, however, for the U.S. to formally assign blame to Moscow for incidents that started in late 2016 and have continued in 2018, causing a major rupture in U.S.-Cuba relations.

Since last year, the U.S. military has been working to reverse-engineer the weapon or weapons used to harm the diplomats, according to Trump administration officials, congressional aides and others briefed on the investigation, including by testing various devices on animals. As part of that effort, the U.S. has turned to the Air Force and its directed energy research program at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, where the military has giant lasers and advanced laboratories to test high-power electromagnetic weapons, including microwaves.

Although the U.S. believes sophisticated microwaves or another type of electromagnetic weapon were likely used on the U.S. government workers, they are also exploring the possibility that one or more additional technologies were also used, possibly in conjunction with microwaves, officials and others involved in the government’s investigation say.

The U.S. has said 26 government workers were injured in unexplained attacks at their homes and hotels in Havana starting in late 2016, causing brain injuries, hearing loss and problems with cognition, balance, vision and hearing problems. Strange sounds heard by the workers initially led investigators to suspect a sonic weapon, but the FBI later determined sound waves by themselves couldn’t have caused the injuries. More here.

*** Truth be told, this investigation and the details are rather disjointed and weird.

Four scientists, including the first doctor to examine the diplomats reporting symptoms in Cuba, took part in a Pentagon-sponsored teleconference on Friday, where they announced new research results, including what they determined to be the probable use of “neuroweapons” in what they called the Havana Effect.

At issue are the more than two dozen U.S. government officials stationed in Havana, who have described hearing strange sounds, followed by a combination of medical symptoms, including dizziness, hearing loss and cognitive problems. More recently, a similar case has been reported in a U.S. embassy worker in Guangzhou, China. For months, a mix of secrecy and speculation has surrounded those incidents, including an increasingly popular theory that the diplomats were the victims of microwave weapons.

Michael Hoffer, an otolaryngologist at the University of Miami, who was the first to conduct tests on the embassy workers, said on the Friday call that the diplomats are suffering from a  “neurosensory dysfunction,” which is primarily affecting their sense of balance.

The Friday call was organized as part of a study program sponsored by the Pentagon and titled “Probable Use of a Neuroweapon to Affect Personnel of US  Embassy in Havana: Findings, Pathology, Possible Causes, and Disruptive Effects.”

A Pentagon official told Yahoo News that the briefing was offered by the scientific team for interested people in the Defense Department and was to gain “general knowledge” about their findings. “This didn’t have an operational element,” the official said.  Read on from here.

So, What Really Goes in Space to Have a Space Force?

Primer: Did you know there is something called the OuterSpace Treaty? Yup, it covers arms control, verification and compliance. Sounds great right? Problem is it is dated 2002.

Then there is the NASA summary of the 1967 Space Treaty.

GPS is operated and maintained by the U.S. Air Force. is maintained by the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing.

Like the Internet, GPS is an essential element of the global information infrastructure. The free, open, and dependable nature of GPS has led to the development of hundreds of applications affecting every aspect of modern life. GPS technology is now in everything from cell phones and wristwatches to bulldozers, shipping containers, and ATM’s.

GPS boosts productivity across a wide swath of the economy, to include farming, construction, mining, surveying, package delivery, and logistical supply chain management. Major communications networks, banking systems, financial markets, and power grids depend heavily on GPS for precise time synchronization. Some wireless services cannot operate without it.

GPS saves lives by preventing transportation accidents, aiding search and rescue efforts, and speeding the delivery of emergency services and disaster relief. GPS is vital to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) that will enhance flight safety while increasing airspace capacity. GPS also advances scientific aims such as weather forecasting, earthquake monitoring, and environmental protection.

Finally, GPS remains critical to U.S. national security, and its applications are integrated into virtually every facet of U.S. military operations. Nearly all new military assets — from vehicles to munitions — come equipped with GPS.


There is a robust debate within Washington and the Pentagon if whether or not a new branch of Armed Services is really needed. Presently, the Air Force has most exclusive authority of all things space except for research and exploration which is performed by NASA.

There is even a debate within the Air Force which was raised last February.

US Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein predicted it’ll only be a “matter of years” before American forces find themselves “fighting from space.” To prepare for this grim possibility, he said the Air Force needs new tools and a new approach to training leaders. Oh, and lots of money.

“[It’s] time for us as a service, regardless of specialty badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply to air superiority today,” he said.

These are some of the strongest words yet from the Air Force chief of staff to get the Pentagon thinking about space—and to recognize the U.S. Air Force as the service branch best suited for the job. “I believe we’re going to be fighting from space in a matter of years,” he said. “And we are the service that must lead joint war fighting in this new contested domain. This is what the nation demands.”

The USAF and other military officials have been saying this for years, but Goldfein’s comments had an added sense of urgency this time around. Rep. Mike Rogers, the Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman, recently proposed the creation of a new “Space Corps,” one that would be modeled after the Marines. The proposed service branch, it was argued, would keep the United States ahead of rival nations like Russia and China. The idea was scrapped this past December—at least for now. Needless to say, Rogers’ proposal did not go over well with the USAF; the creation of the first new uniformed service branch in 70 years would see Pentagon funds siphoned away from the Air Force. Hence Goldfein’s speech on Friday, in which he argued that the USAF is the service branch best positioned to protect American interests in space.

But in order to protect “contested environments,” the US Air Force will need to exercise competency in “multi-domain operations,” he said. This means the ability to collect battlefield intelligence from “all domains,” including air, ground, sea, cyber, and space. “I look forward to discussing how we can leverage new technology and new ways of networking multi-domain sensors and resilient communications to bring more lethality to the fight,” said Goldfein.

Indeed, the USAF has plenty of work to do make this happen, and to keep up with its rivals. China, for example, recently proposed far-fetched laser-armed satellite to remove space junk, while also demonstrating its ability to shoot down missiles in space. Should a major conflict break out in the near future, space will most certainly represent the first battlefield.

“When you think of how dependent the US military is on satellites for everything from its communication and navigation to command and surveillance, we are already fighting in space, even if it’s not like the movies depicted,” Peter W. Singer, fellow at New America and author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, told Gizmodo. “If we were ever to fight another great power, like a China or Russia, it is likely the opening round of battle would be completely silent, as in space no one would hear the other side jamming or even destroying each other’s satellites.”

To prepare the United States for this possibility, Goldfein said the Air Force needs to invest in new technologies and train a new generation of leaders. On that last point, the CSAF ordered Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, the commander of Air Education and Training Command, to develop a program to train officers and non-commissioned officers for space ops. “We need to build a joint, smart space force and a space-smart joint force,” Goldfein said.

As reported in SpaceNews, the USAF is asking for $8.5 billion for space programs in the 2019 budget, of which $5.9 billion would go to research and development, and the remaining for procurement of new satellite and launch services. Over next five years it hopes to spend $44.3 billion on development of new space systems, which is 18 percent more than it said it would need last year to cover the same period.


Iran to Hit Infrastructure with Cyber Attack

Primer: (Reuters) – Iran has built a factory that can produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, the head of its atomic agency said on Wednesday, upping the stakes in a confrontation with Washington over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work.

Under the terms of the 2015 agreement, which was also signed by Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The other signatories have been scrambling to save the accord, arguing it offers the best way to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb.

The Aspen Security Forum Releases 2017 Agenda - Aspen ...

*** At the Aspen Security Summit on Iran

In part:

ASPEN, Colo. — Iranian hackers have laid the groundwork to carry out extensive cyberattacks on U.S. and European infrastructure and private companies, and the U.S. is warning allies, hardening its defenses and weighing a counterattack, say multiple senior U.S. officials.

Despite Iran having positioned cyber weapons to carry out attacks, there is no suggestion an offensive operation is imminent, according to the officials, who requested anonymity in order to speak.

Cyber threats have been a major theme of the 2018 Aspen Security Forum, with administration officials from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Chris Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein all warning of the pervasive danger from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

In Aspen Thursday, DNI Coats said that Russia was a more active cyber foe than Iran or China — “by far” the most aggressive, he said.

While Russia may be the most aggressive, the U.S. officials said Iran is making preparations that would enable denial-of-service attacks against thousands of electric grids, water plants, and health care and technology companies in the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and other countries in Europe and the Middle East.

“Iran has a penchant for using such tools against the West,” said Ben Taleblu. “The cyber domain permits the Islamic Republic to engage in graduated escalation, a hallmark of Iranian security policy.”

U.S. officials have alerted America’s allies in Europe and the Middle East to the potential Iranian threat and have begun preparing a menu of possible responses, according to both current and former US officials. It’s unclear if the options include a preemptive cyberattack to deter Iran from launching one.

Senior U.S. officials remain divided over the use of a preemptive cyberattack. More here.

Perhaps it is almost important to be reminded about the bomb plot last month in Paris. For a full summary of events at the #FreeIran event in Paris, go here.

Israel’s Mossad spy agency thwarted a terror attack in a Paris suburb last month, giving authorities in France, Germany, and Belgium crucial intelligence that led to arrests of a cell headed by an Iranian diplomat, Hebrew media reported Thursday.

The cell, headed by an Iranian diplomat at the Austrian embassy in Vienna, also consisted of  two Belgian nationals and an alleged accomplice in France. They planned to bomb a June 30 conference organized by an Iranian dissident group, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran.

The operation included tracking the suspects and eavesdropping on them,  Hadashot said.

The Belgian nationals, a husband and wife identified as Amir S. and Nasimeh N., were charged earlier this month with their role in the plot.

The couple, described by Belgian prosecutors as being “of Iranian origin,” carried 500 grams (about a pound) of the volatile explosive TATP along with a detonation device when an elite police squad stopped them in a residential district of Brussels.

The arrests came days before Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met with European nations to try to shore up the 2015 nuclear accord, after US President Donald Trump walked away from the deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to the operation ahead of the meeting.

“There is a meeting this week by the P4 without the United States…” and “the P4 invited Iran’s President Rouhani to attend,” Netanyahu said derisively at an event to mark US Independence Day. More here.


Question China and They Were Uninvited to RIMPAC

The U.S. Navy and allies are drilling in the Pacific Ocean as part of the massive Rim of the Pacific naval exercise. After years continuing to sail alongside China in RIMPAC, even as the peer competitor militarized man-made islands in the South China Sea, the U.S. decided enough is enough and rescinded the invitation. (Andrew Jarocki/Staff)

Twenty-six nations, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 27 to Aug. 2, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971. The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.” Participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counter-piracy operations, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and diving and salvage operations. This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. This is the first time Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position. This year will also feature live firing of a Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from a U.S. Air Force aircraft, surface to ship missiles by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from a launcher on the back of a Palletized Load System (PLS) by the U.S. Army. This marks the first time a land based unit will participate in the live fire event during RIMPAC. RIMPAC 18 will also include international band engagements and highlight fleet innovation during an Innovation Fair. Additionally, for the first time since RIMPAC 2002, U.S. 3rd Fleet’s Command Center will relocate from San Diego to Pearl Harbor to support command and control of all 3rd Fleet forces in 3rd Fleet’s area of responsibility to include forces operating forward in the Western Pacific. The Fleet Command Center will be established at a deployable joint command and control on Hospital Point for the first part of the exercise and then transition to USS Portland (LPD 27) for the remainder of the exercise. Hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2018 will be led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. John D. Alexander, who will serve as combined task force (CTF) commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Bob Auchterlonie will serve as CTF deputy commander, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Hideyuki Oban as CTF vice commander. Fleet Marine Force will be led by U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Mark Hashimoto. Other key leaders of the multinational force will include Commodore Pablo Niemann of Armada de Chile, who will command the maritime component, and Air Commodore Craig Heap of the Royal Australian Air Force, who will command the air component. This robust constellation of allies and partners support sustained and favorable regional balances of power that safeguard security, prosperity and the free and open international order. RIMPAC 2018 contributes to the increased lethality, resiliency and agility needed by the joint and combined force to deter and defeat aggression by major powers across all domains and levels of conflict.


The location of the garrison, confirmed through satellite imagery here, can possibly support a brigade-sized intercontinental ballistic missile formation.

New Delhi: China has built a new garrison in its central Sichuan province for its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) which have the capacity to cover all of India, the Indian Ocean Region as well as large parts of continental America.

On 27 May, the 10th test of the Dongfeng-41 or DF-41 (East Wind-41) ICBM, with a reported range of 12,000-15,000 km, was conducted at the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in Shanxi province. China’s PLARF, or the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, formerly Second Artillery Corps (SAC), claimed it a success.

Vinayak Bhat/The Print

ThePrint has now identified a never-before revealed PLARF location, which may possibly be a DF-41 garrison, with the help of satellite imagery.

ThePrint had in April reported that PLARF had built a garrison in the southernmost Hainan province to store DF-31AG missile.

The location

This is the first time that the new Chinese garrison has been confirmed through satellite imagery (as of 7 May, 2018), although it has been covered by ground human intelligence before.

It is located 15 km east of Yibin town in Sichuan province, away from towns and cities but close to a highway to enable quick deployment. Construction is said to have begun three years ago.

The entire complex can possibly support a brigade-sized ballistic missile formation.

The ICBM is likely to be armed with 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) warheads each with 150kT yield.

Vinayak Bhat/The Print

This new garrison is typically built around a sports track with a football field in it. It also has two basketball grounds and an obstacle course adjoining the sports track.

There are two large highbay garages in the centre of the complex along with two smaller highway garages to the north of the facility. The smaller highbay garages were probably built for warhead assembly.

There are two locations where dugouts are observed. These could possibly be underground DES igloos.

Vinayak Bhat/The Print

There are about 15 triple storied C-shaped barracks, possibly for troops’ living accommodations.

Three large multi-storey buildings connected with each other could be administrative offices. A meteorological station with possible satellite link is also seen to the west side of the complex.

All buildings except central administrative buildings and high-bay garages are provided with slanted box gable roofs.

Vinayak Bhat/The Print

The entire garrison with its support buildings has a very high-walled security with four entrances. The main entrance is heavily guarded with around 200m approach under visual observation with the help of a large convex mirror.

It has typical layout of eight garages with six of them being interconnected. There are 30 smaller buildings (15 on either side of highbay garages) with different dimensions which are difficult to assess.

In the latest satellite image, a large tractor trailer of 22m is seen plying on the highway 400 metre south of the complex, suggesting that DF-41 truck erector launcher (TEL) of similar size can easily manoeuvre in this area.

The vehicle

 The DF-41 vehicle has most advanced technologies incorporated for the smooth ride of the missile. It is an eight-axle, 16-wheeled TEL with possibly a six-axle drive.

The steering mechanism of DF-41 TEL is very uniquely purposed to provide high-speed turning stability and smallest possible turning radius to the behemoth.

Power steering has been provided on the three-front steer axles and the rear three drive axles are probably mechanically coordinated with hydraulic power. Thus making the DF-41 TEL very easily manoeuvrable.

As for the 27 May ICBM test from the Taiyuan Space Launch Centre, it was first reported by Washington Free Beacon quoting Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher Logan who said, “The US was aware of recent flight tests and we continue to monitor weapons development in China.”

The well-known defence magazine IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly claimed that after the latest launch, DF-41 had moved closer to commissioning and deployment. Chinese experts claim that DF-41 is the most advanced ICBM in the world.