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Emerging Threats and Opportunities


Soldier, waist up, reading a map in jungle environment

Emerging Threats and Opportunities (ETOs) is a regular blog series on the Land Power Forum that collects together blogs, podcasts and articles of interest with the goal of creating discussion on the topic of land power. 


From the National Defence University, a throwback to 2018 and analysis done on the lessons learnt from the counter-terrorism operations conducted in Iraq by TF714. The key lesson from this study is the ‘irreducible minimum’ level of violence within a given society. For example, there were 48 homicides in New York City in 2019, so juxtaposing a similar level of criminality to other societies helps us to understand an appropriate metric for what counter-insurgency success looks like. This matters in the context of previous discussion on this forum about the resurgence of Islamic State attacks in Iraq and Syria, and the needed discussion about whether this level of violence is the new ‘irreducible minimum’ for Iraq/Syria. This author also wrote an extended piece on this task force, published by JSOU here for those interested in this topic.  

The Information/Cyber Domain 

From The Atlantic, ‘The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Re-elect the President.’ This piece is somewhat political in that it is critical of the Trump style of politics but paints a picture that might be adopted more broadly when considering the future of information warfare. Indeed, in the course of the article, examples are provided ranging from Russian activities in the Ukraine, the Filipino election of Duterte and dirty political tricks on both sides of US politics. This article complements an insightful podcast from Ted Talks Daily hosting Chuck Plunkett, When local news dies, so does Democracy, due to the closure of local news outlets. These pieces are worthwhile to reflect upon following the recent announcement of the closure of AAP and what the future holds for the role information warfare plays at the political level.  

Irregular Warfare and Terrorism 

Wrapping up on the focus upon Iraq and Syria, this article from the CTC Sentinel, examines what might be next from the IRGC-QF, Hezbollah and its proxies in the Iranian Threat Network (ITN).  

Major Power Competition  

From the American Enterprise Institute, a short article by Hal Brands, exploring the ‘Dark Art of Political Warfare’. This piece is informative in the context of the speech delivered by CDF, a summary of which is presented by ASPI here.  

Also by the Army Research Centre, a multi-part series examining Precision Strike. This series has significant overlap with discussion about this evolving space with a UK publication on the Future of Fires. This also has linkages to this ASPI post extrapolating from the capability into the policy options presented in the form of deterrence. 

Defence innovation  

A throwback from the Centre for a New American SecurityPatriot Wars, written in 2017, responds to the advocacy within this forum and others, examining the utility of automation in Defence applications. This short article (30-45 min read), examines the fratricide incidents involving Patriot missile systems engaging British and US aircraft in 2003. By examining the human factors of such automation, this article is a cautionary tale to consider deeply how we automate defence applications.  

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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