Friday News Roundup — January 14, 2022

Greetings from Washington, D.C., where the White House has experienced a week of blows, with most falling yesterday. First, with Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema (re)announcing her opposition to any changes to the filibuster, putting the brakes on any push for voting rights this weekend or next week. Second, the Supreme Court struck down the broader OSHA mandate for workplace vaccination, while it did keep it in place for healthcare workers. Finally, with the drumbeat of war growing louder in Europe, negotiations with Russia appear to have done little to lower tensions.

This week, Mike Rogers Center director, Joshua C. Huminski, reviewed Casey Michel’s “American Kleptocracy” which shows how the United States became a destination of choice for illicit finance and money laundering.

He also published an op-ed in the Hill arguing that the West’s hand in the present Ukraine crisis is weak, and reflects a longer-term trend of poor strategic positions when it comes to Russia.

In this week’s roundup, Dan decries how we find ourselves continuing to relitigate the politics of 2020. CSPC Senior Advisor Andy Keiser and guest contributor Michael Lumpkin, former Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, lay out five steps to secure America’s semiconductor supply chain. Joshua covers U.S.-Russia negotiations, and Wes looks at the dueling approaches to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Ethan addresses the future of the Littoral Combat Ship, as the Navy considers its future force structure. As always, we wrap with news you may have missed. This week, we welcome our intern, Evelyn Jimenez, a junior at the University of California, Irvine, and look forward to her contributions in the coming weeks.

In 2022, turn the page on 2020

Dan Mahaffee

While memes about 2022 simply being “2020, Part Two,” reflect an underlying frustration of the continued frustration with the ongoing pandemic, it also reveals a deeper malaise. Our politics are frozen in the divisions cleaved into our society that fateful year: the pandemic, policing, and the 2020 election itself and its violent aftermath. Overcoming those divisions is vital to addressing the real challenges we face, at home and abroad, while forces, also at home and abroad, seek our further division for their own gain.

While the early signs from South Africa, United Kingdom, and U.S. regions first-hit by the Omicron wave suggest that it will rapidly recede, with fewer hospitalizations and deaths, the impact is continuing to be felt by the healthcare system. As the unvaccinated face a far greater risk of hospitalization and death, many of the vaccinated and boosted are ready for a return to normalcy. The debate and shift towards opening schools — exemplified by the rift between the Chicago mayor and the city’s increasingly recalcitrant teachers’ union — demonstrates this. Colorado Governor Jared Polis has also reflected this in his approach to handling his state’s omicron outbreak, declining to institute further emergency measures and saying severe sickness among the unvaccinated is their “own darn fault.” Former President Trump, this week, called out Republican politicians who decline to say whether they’ve been boosted and fail to encourage their supporters to get vaxed/boosted.

With this wave of omicron and a push to get boosted and vaxed, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There will likely be a need for further boosters, perhaps yearly, as variants evolve and COVID becomes similar to other already circulating respiratory illnesses. Lowering the temperature on the politics of the COVID culture war will take time, and leadership from both sides. What also cannot be lost in the political crossfire are the lessons learned and needed fixes for the next pandemic, from public health messaging and disease early-warning/screening to hospital capacity and surge capacity for healthcare equipment and workers in the future.

Each day also seems to bring continued headlines about crime on America’s streets and another tragic encounter between police and citizenry. This too continues to echo from the unrest of 2020 and the inability of our politicians to find consensus solutions to fix policing and our criminal justice system. Common sense solutions seem to fall apart with sloganeering on both sides, and megaphones being given to the most radical “defund the police” activists and reactionary police union spokesmen. Where are we to turn if we want criminals off the streets, as well as out of our police forces? Perhaps in 2022, it will be interesting to see how New York Mayor Eric Adams, himself an NYPD veteran but an advocate for police reform, approaches this in the news and media market where America gets its sense of “law and order.”

Finally, there is the 2020 election itself, and the “big lie” that the election was stolen, the subsequent changes to election laws, and the Biden administration’s 2022 shift to voting rights. Plenty of ink will be spilled elsewhere about the White House using political capital on this, but these increasingly partisan visions of the state of our electoral system are furthering a cycle of delegitimization of the very foundation of our democratic institutions — the ballot box. The incentives around gerrymandering and campaign finance are deeply politicized, but can there be consensus found on basic standards for voter ID, absentee/early voting in federal-level elections, and protecting the counting of votes and the certification of elections from political interference. What is heartening is that there are initial conversations on reform of the Electoral College Act, with bipartisan discussions. It will also take more courage like that demonstrated by South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds, in stating the truth about the 2020 election and the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.

Frankly, it will take courage from all of us. So many of the 2020 divisions that endure to this day are so deep, that it can be fair to wonder whether we’re dealing with a genie we cannot get back into the bottle. Certainly for the partisans and pundits in our political news media and social media, further dividing Americans has been a profitable enterprise. For our adversaries abroad, sewing division among Americans adds to our strategic weakness and both domestic and global perceptions of American decline and small-d democratic collapse. It is hard to admit when we have been misled, or when we have let political and cultural touch points define our personal and tribal identities.

It can be challenging to doff the red or blue jerseys when we need to don the red-white-and-blue ones, but that is the kind of reconciliation needed if we’re going to tackle the real challenges we face: rising and revanchist adversaries, climate change, technological transformation, and restoring economic opportunity. Our politicians and pundits find the rifts in our society far more fertile ground for votes and ratings, because we are forced to focus on the trees and not the forest. The continued technological transformation of our economy and society, growing divergence between the haves and have nots (in both money and education), and the slow-burn crises we already know, plus the black swans looming ahead, all require thoughtful, competent leadership. In 2020, we faced a global crisis head-on, and the results have not been all that heartening. Are we to learn the lessons and move ahead, or are we stuck in a political feedback loop while faith in our institutions erodes?

Five Things Washington Can Do to Secure the Semiconductor Supply Chain Against Threats from China

Andy Keiser & Michael Lumpkin

If you are one of the Americans on a waiting list to get a new car due to a shortage of semiconductors, you understand firsthand how this tiny component has taken on an outsized role for global economic and national security policymakers.

The importance of protecting the semiconductor supply chain is why we wrote a paper for the Center of the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC) titled: The Race for Semiconductor Supremacy: China Versus an Emerging Democratic Technology Alliance.

Leading nations of the world, including the United States, have identified semiconductor integrated circuits, or “chips,” as a critical national security commodity and are undertaking key actions to secure their own supply chains. The CSPC paper offers our analysis of this critical sector and shares recommendations on how an emerging democratic technology alliance can push back on China’s predatory economics, ultimately protecting U.S. and allied economic and national security interests.

China via the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is marching down a state-directed effort to dominate critical technologies including semiconductors through its “Made in China 2025” policy and scores of other central plans, including its National Integrated Circuit Plan. Some reports indicate that China will be the world’s largest chip maker by 2030. And unlike in the United States, there is little if any separation between industry and government in China. This civil-military fusion is undergirded by law, including the 2017 National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic. As American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Klon Kitchen wrote: “you cannot do business in China without totally capitulation to the CCP — by law.”

Given this, as we begin a new year, we offer the five key recommendations below on what Washington can do to avoid reliance on China for this critical national security commodity found in everything from the phone in your pocket to the most complex military weapons systems.

  1. Add YMTC and CXMT to the Entity List. Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC) and ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT), which have ties to the Chinese Communist Party leadership, should be added to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s trade blacklist. Similarly, China’s Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) was previously added to the entity list in 2020.
  2. Finalize Commerce Department Export Controls, Including on U.S. Toolmakers. The Bureau of Industry and Security should finalize its rulemaking for its export restrictions of foundational technologies to include the listing of high-end semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME) for state-backed enterprises of adversarial nations like China, Russia, and Venezuela. Applied Materials, Lam Research, and KLA/Teradyne ought to be subject to export controls given YMTC’s reported reliance on them as an SME supplier and CXMT as a “Problematic Chinese Company.” The United States should not provide cutting-edge technology to our adversaries who may use it against us on the battlefield.
  3. Multilateral Export Controls/Democratic Technology Alliance. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand should continue to collaborate on ways to share critical technologies amongst each other while working on ways to limit its’ members key technologies — including advanced semiconductors and SME — from falling into the hands of adversaries like China, Russia, and North Korea. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, made up of the United States, India, Japan and Australia, should build on its supply chain initiative announced last month.
  4. Congress Should Fully Fund the CHIPS for America Act. CHIPS for America Act was included in the FY 2021 NDAA and provides for investments and incentives to support U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research and development efforts. As a first step, $52 billion in incentives was included in the legislation approved by the Senate earlier this year called the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA).
  5. Congress Should Increase Federal Funding for Basic R&D. Legislation to do this was also included in the USICA. Federal research should also include diagnostics of currently embedded semiconductors to help identify potential anomalies and threats.

We believe the United States and China are in a multi-generational competition for global leadership. To ensure success, reducing America’s dependence on our foremost geopolitical adversary for such a critical national security component now and into the future is essential.

Andy Keiser is a former Senior Adviser to the House Intelligence Committee. He is currently a Principal at Navigators Global and a Senior Advisor to the Center of Study of the Presidency and Congress. Follow him on Twitter @AndyKeiser

Michael Lumpkin is a former U.S. Navy SEAL; Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy during the Obama Administration; and Special Envoy, U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center.

U.S.-Russia Negotiations & The Ukraine Crisis

Joshua C. Huminski

On Thursday, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, warned that he saw “no grounds” to continue talks with the United States aimed at resolving the crisis in Ukraine. “There is, to a certain extent, a dead end or a difference in approaches,” Ryabkov said, adding “I do not see reasons to sit down in the coming days, to gather again and start these same discussions.”

This dour and potentially alarming forecast followed earlier mild optimism when both sides met in Geneva on Monday. Now, as then, the key sticking point for Moscow appears to be whether or not Ukraine would be afforded the option of joining NATO in the future. At that meeting Rybakov insisted that it was “absolutely mandatory” that Ukraine “never, never, never” join NATO. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, for her part, said ““we will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s open door policy.”

The latest impasse takes place as Ukraine warned that Russia had increased its troop presence to 106,000 soldiers and some 1,500 tanks near the country’s border. Weather conditions in Ukraine are a key factor in any potential operation as, thus far, a mild winter has prevented the ground from freezing, which would create more optimal conditions for military operations. Noted Russian military analyst, Michael Kofman, does not believe the auguries are good and the likelihood of conflict is increasing based on Moscow’s latest military deployments. The Russian state-backed information social media apparatus continues to push stories, posts, and tweets, alleging Ukrainian aggression or perfidy placing the onus on Kyiv and not Moscow. This again should not be surprising as it is all part of the information preparation of the battlefield in the event that a “military-technical response” becomes necessary. It also emerged on Friday morning that Ukrainian government websites were experiencing a significant cyber attack.

The present dynamic is complicated and complex to say the least. On the one hand it is to be welcomed that multiple dialogues at differing levels of seniority are taking place. These are already being parsed and dissected for signs of optimism, pessimism or potential offramps for the crisis. The downside of this is that comments by Rybakov can and indeed are taken at face value, and as an indicator of the inevitability of a crisis. It is too premature to say that this is the case. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia is waiting for a written response to its demands and then “will determine our next steps”.

On the other hand, the problem is that the West finds itself in the midst of a strategic gambit for which it was unprepared, is not fully in command of the pieces at play, and doesn’t really understand Russia’s game — indeed anyone who says they do should be viewed with suspicion. At face value, Moscow’s gambit is to obtain unobtainable security guarantees from the West about the expansion of NATO, ensuring that Ukraine and Georgia can never become a member of the alliance. Ironically, Russia’s behavior may see the expansion of NATO in any case as Sweden and Finland are, at least rhetorically, entertaining the possibility with greater alacrity.

The United States, for its part, has indicated that it will not close the door to future membership to any country, and is only willing to consider force deployment and strategic arms control in these discussions. The Russians are negotiating apples and the United States wants to talk oranges, or so it would appear. The challenge is in finding the middle ground where opportunities for discussion, dialogue, and ultimately resolution can be found, if there are any. Rybakov’s comments and metaphorical throwing up of his hands should be seen as part of this negotiating process. The immediate tantrum matters less than the overall trajectory.

Michael Carpenter, the U.S. Ambassador to OSCE, was absolutely right in saying “If the Russians walk away from these talks, it will be clear that they were never serious about diplomacy in the first place. If they are interested in these topics,…then they are going to find that we are ready to engage.”

The reality remains that the West is attempting to prevent something from happening — an invasion of Ukraine — with very few policy tools at its disposal and a non-credible conventional deterrent. The default response remains, by and large, the threat of sanctions, except this time potentially targeting President Vladimir Putin himself. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “extremely negative, especially against the background of the ongoing series of negotiations, albeit unsuccessful, but negotiations.” Peskov warned that sanctioning Putin would be “an outrageous measure that is comparable to breaking off relations.”

Perhaps ominously, a portion of the conversation regarding Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine has shifted toward turning the latter into a porcupine or planning for a long-term insurgency against Moscow. This is unsurprising, but yet again highlights the paucity of real options for deterring Russia or preventing the invasion from happening in the first place.

The possibility that Russia will invade Ukraine is very real and should not be discounted. Indeed the latest military and cyber developments point to, at the very least, continued preparation for the possibility of war. At the same time the fact that negotiations at multiple levels are taking place is also to be welcomed. These are not mutually exclusive propositions. At a macro-level one would hope that the present situation prompts some reflection in Washington and in European capitals at just how few policy options the West has when it comes to Russia.

Dueling Cruz and Menendez Bills Advocate Strong Reaction to Nord Stream 2, Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Wesley Culp

While American negotiators in Europe have been engaged in high-level dialogue with Russian negotiators to walk Russia back from the brink over its “security demands” regarding Ukraine, the United States Senate has been similarly consumed by legislative action against Russian projects in Europe. While not direct counterparts in the scope of their aims, Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Implementation Act” and Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) “Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022” are both designed to roll back Russian designs in Europe. These competing initiatives threaten to fragment American foreign policy towards Russia at a moment in history where the outcome is far from assured.

Nord Stream 2 is a completed natural gas pipeline backed by Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom through its purpose-made subsidiary “Nord Stream 2 AG” that runs under the Baltic Sea from Ust-Luga, Russia to the town of Lubmin in northern Germany. Critics such as Mr. Cruz have voiced concerns that the operation of this pipeline could allow Russian authorities to reroute gas that currently passes through Ukrainian pipeline infrastructure through Nord Stream 2 instead on its way to Europe, which would allow Russia to deprive Ukraine of significant revenue and one of Kyiv’s only forms of leverage over Russia.

In return for a promise to lift his hold on many of President Joseph Biden’s ambassadorial nominees, Senator Cruz received a guarantee that a vote would be scheduled for his Nord Stream 2 bill, which happened Thursday, January 13. Senator Cruz’s legislation is centered around the imposition of sanctions on any entity involved in the “planning, construction, or operation” of the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which could be target Russian European figures and entities involved in the process alongside their Russian partners. Cruz’s bill ultimately failed to pass the Senate through its January 13 vote by a margin of 55 for and 43 against, 5 short of the 60 vote threshold needed for its passage.

Instead of focusing on Nord Stream 2, Senator Bob Menendez’s “Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022” takes a related focus on Russia’s pressure towards Ukraine. The bill, which was introduced on Wednesday, January 12, includes provisions to impose sanctions on both Russian financial entities and military decision-makers, exclude Russia from international financial messaging systems such as SWIFT, and to order the facilitation of additional security assistance to Ukraine. Unlike Senator Cruz’s bill, Senator Menendez’s bill would only apply its punishment to Russian entities and decision-makers if Russia were to launch a new, overt invasion of Ukraine. Menendez’s bill has found wide support among his fellow Senate Democrats, of whom 38 cosponsored his proposal.

Senator Cruz’s bill has been the subject of significant consternation among Senate Democrats interested in supporting the White House’s foreign policy. Democrats who previously supported the imposition of sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project, such as Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) (who had initially cosponsored the Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill with Cruz), instead came out in opposition of the bill on the grounds that it would fracture transatlantic unity and messaging in a moment of standoff with Russia. As reported by Politico, the State Department also circulated a document which further reiterated a desire to maintain transatlantic unity and also argued that removing the threat of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 by imposing them immediately would eliminate an important element of leverage from the administration’s toolbox. However, counterpoints to the administration’s position were also circulated on Capitol Hill by advisors to Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Naftogaz to convey the Ukrainian position that sanctions should be applied to Nord Stream 2 as soon as possible to prevent its certification.

Germany’s new government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz has expressed interest in working with the United States to secure a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis on the Ukrainian-Russian border over Russian fears of Ukrainian membership in NATO, but has expressed skepticism about attempts to sanction Nord Stream 2 along the lines of Senator Cruz’s legislation. In response to proposals to sanction the project, Chancellor Scholz described Nord Stream 2 as a “private sector project” that should not be linked to negotiations with Russia surrounding Ukraine. While the German Greens led by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock have avoided directly confronting their Scholz and their other SPD coalition partners on the issue, the Greens have expressed interest in applying sanctions to the Nord Stream 2 project in the event of an overt Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While Russia has become accustomed to American exploration of sanctions on its Nord Stream 2 project, the Democratic proposal to sanction top individuals such as President Vladimir Putin in the event of further Russian aggression against Ukraine elicited a strong rebuke from Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the proposed sanctioning of President Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, or Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as an “extreme measure” akin to a “breakdown in relations” between the two countries. Like Chancellor Scholz, Peskov has rejected attempts to link pipeline projects such as Nord Stream 2 to questions of European security. The similarity of these two positions demonstrates the central tension at hand for American policymakers contemplating their opposition to Nord Stream 2.

While these two bills may both represent attempts to calibrate American foreign policy to current national security challenges from Russia, the dual-track approach taken by Senate Republicans on one side, and the White House and Senate Democrats on the other creates a sense of ambiguity which complicates efforts to address such challenges effectively. Even though Senator Cruz’s bill on Nord Stream 2 was not passed, his previously bipartisan effort to sanction the project will need to be discussed and ironed out with Berlin to avoid any festering concerns inside the German government. Since cooperation with transatlantic partners is a significant pillar of American power and influence when addressing Russian challenges, deeper coordination between legislative factions will aid in the crafting of coherent and effective American foreign policy.

Identity crisis for the LCS fleet

Ethan Brown

Not sure if Littoral Combat Ship, or…sub-hunter or…something else… (U.S. Navy Photo/USNI News)

Is the U.S. Navy on solid footing (so to speak) for the next war? If a war broke out today somewhere in the Pacific (or some other crisis in, say…the Black Sea), the reasonable answer is the United States, with some allied help, could indeed still go toe-to-toe with anyone else on blue waters.

More responsible strategic thinking, however, is not concerned with today’s fight, a hard lesson that our previous wars have forced the U.S. defense enterprise to learn in real time. This week, the Surface Navy Association symposium is in full swing which aims to align defense contractors, policymakers, and defense leaders on the vectors for the future of surface maritime defense and money changing. As I like to do periodically in my corner of this column, the issue of equipment, technological development and force posturing will be today’s focus as the topic of naval surface warfare reaches fever pitch. Armed with the critical final step that is President Biden signing the current National Defense Authorization Act into law at the close of the year, let’s look at the current questions facing the maritime DoD for 2022.

Littoral Combat Ships — Why is their role still up for debate?

I covered the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) concept and platform some time ago, mostly as a caution against pushing platform modularity in favor of having a concerted wartime role for such an expensive system ($360 million-ish). Even the F-35 for all its troubles does it’s multi-role work well, in specifically configured roles — the DoD doesn’t ever intend to deploy it’s 5th-gen fighter as an air interdiction, EW/ISR, and Close Air Support platform simultaneously. It does all three roles fairly well, but not at the same time.

This is the issue facing the roll-out of the LCS, a multi-role platform already years behind the original delivery date — the question of what precisely Pacific doctrine aims to achieve in LCS deployment. Three contenders for LCS roles are banging around Navy surface warfare planners: Surface Warfare to enable Amphibious assault — necessary in a future war where island-hopping around a PLA-defense chain could be the frontlines, Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) — worthwhile considering the modernization of the PLA-Navy, and mine countermeasures (MCM).

Only the surface warfare package variant sails the seas today, having dabbled in the mine-hunting role via helicopter deployment as an aside to the panoply of offensive weapons installed on these floating forward bases. I reached out a Navy aviator contact, a highly experienced instructor pilot, who noted (on the condition of anonymity due to their currently deployed status) that both ASW and MCM missions have been limped along, rather than receiving the attention needed, although the anti-sub mission is “in better hands because the MH-60R flying community makes it their bread and butter”. Employing the venerable Blackhawk platforms have underperformed for mine-hunting, also being called a struggle for relevance. This is notable since the much bigger MH-53K is soon arriving to the fleets, although its mine-hunting role wasn’t anticipated by Nayy acquisitions, leaving some flying tribes in a lurch for future platforming. Finally, my source summarized the LCS issue as “the mission module concept hasn’t seemed to have panned out, the surface role is all that the LCS seems barely suited for. [as] The LCS capabilities remain in doubt, there need to be more platforms to protect the battlegroup. It is a numbers game, as much as capabilities”.

I would make the argument (as an academic and policy strategist, not a maritime expert by any means) that building these platforms needs to focus on those three core roles, without further dithering into multi-role’ism. Recall that the Marines are re-organizing their Pacific ground force doctrine around the ability to decentralize assault forces for the very purpose of retaking chain-terrain via amphibious assault, the “Littoral Combat Regiment” employing the Light Amphibious Warship. The LAW and the LCS are package deals, single components to a small flotilla that scales warfare to appropriate size, firepower and survivability for the mission and environment. When the Navy is looking to flail on its commitment to giving our best shock troops a ride to their Pacific crucibles in a future conflict, then the entire point of such a force-projection system is rendered moot, because you don’t send in the amphibious assault without firepower to prep the beach and engage the counter-assault.

That the LCS role remains unclear or up for debate, even when some Fleet Commanders are giving Command of Naval Surface Forces Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener viable feedback: “we weren’t sure the LCS was executing the missions it was designed for. So we went out to the number fleet commanders and asked ‘what do you want it to do?’ What missions do you want to execute based on the current environment?” Those answers include expanded ISR, surface warfare and MCM prioritization.

The LCS is supposed to give scalable Pacific assault forces the smack needed to be a credible deterrence and if necessary, offensive prowess to engage adversaries on the world’s biggest battlefield. So long as this debate rages on, we have very expensive ships burning taxpayer dollars whose calling card is an identity crisis.

2022 efforts

Challenges will always arise when putting out new defense technology, this is simply the reality facing the Navy as the threat from Chinese aggression and other maritime threats continue to compound. The single greatest challenge that the Navy can focus on, which ties all of these systems together, is connectivity and the proficiency of its fleets to operate in a decentralized capacity, something that will be absolutely gospel when thinking about the disparate and wide-spread battlefields of the Pacific.

Moving forward, the NDAA has actually exceeded the Navy planners budget item requests for strike fighters, offensive firepower, a variety of fleet vessels, and support systems of both water and airborne variety. Lawmakers see the need for more resources than the Navy asked for, demonstrating a concerted effort to ready our maritime forces for the future of strategic competition. The Navy, its Surface Warfare thinkers in particular, knows that the next fight will be rife with threats designed to limit our capabilities as they stand today. Those challenges are compounded when warfighters remain inconsistent on how to employ the systems procured to meet the threat.

News You May Have Missed

MI5 Warns of Chinese Agent influencing British Parliament

Members of Parliament have been warned by MI5, the agency responsible for British domestic security, that Christine Ching Kui Lee, a London lawyer, has been laundering and funneling donations to British parliamentarians from clients in Hong Kong and mainland China. Security officials became increasingly concerned over her ties — and attempts to conceal those ties — to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. The United Front Work Department is the organization responsible for promoting the CCP’s interests abroad. Ms. Lee also gave £420,000 to Labor MP Barry Gardiner, who also employed Lee’s son in his parliamentary office. Conservative former Prime Minister Theresa May also awarded Lee, later rescinded, for her efforts to build ties between the UK and China.

Swedish Military Puts Gotland Defenses on Alert

The Swedish military announced on Thursday that it had given the orders to step up visible patrols and other activities on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Gotland is located off of Sweden’s east coast and is located a few hundred kilometers from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which is home to significant contingents of the Russian military. Swedish Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Michael Claesson attributed this shift in posture to the presence of Russian ships designed to land troops in amphibious operations, as well as a wider deterioration of the region’s security environment. While not a member of NATO, Sweden is a close partner of the alliance and is a member of the European Union.

A Moment of Silence for Valentina Orelllana

Evelyn Jimenez

On December 23, 2021, in North Hollywood, the LAPD was in pursuit of 24-year Daniel Elena Lopez who had attacked officers moments prior. A bullet that was intended for Lopez strayed off and hit 14–year-old Valentina Orellana who was in a department store with her mother. She tragically passed away in her mother’s arms. Community members and relatives are now demanding justice for Valentina’s shocking death. They argue that an upscale community would not have encountered such circumstances and reckless behavior. LAPD has attempted to mend its trust with the community by placing LAPD officer William Jones, who shot and killed Valentina, on administrative leave. However, these actions are insufficient and protesters are demanding for Officer Jones to be fired and charged.

The views of authors are their own and not that of CSPC.

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CSPC is a 501(c)3, non-partisan organization that seeks to apply lessons of history and leadership to today's challenges

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