Learning to Live with Endemic COVID-19

By Frederic S. Goldstein1, Benjamin J. Ryan2, Deon K. Canyon3

Over the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have increasingly heard the phrase, “we need to learn to live with it.” Often this refers to accepting and dealing with something when a bad situation or adverse life event alters expected outcomes. In the case of the current pandemic, the end and return to normal was the expected outcome. However, humanity has been overwhelmed by repeated surges of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths associated with the Delta variant. Questions are now being asked about the fate of COVID-19. Is this the last surge we are likely to see? None of the experts know the answer, but with continuous reports of emerging mutations and new variants with perhaps greater transmissibility and infectiousness combined with low vaccination rates, policymakers and planners are coming to terms with the fact that they must consider additional surges, a rolling, long-term pandemic, or even endemic COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has repeatedly shown the world that pandemic exit strategies are often ill-considered and unstructured. Despite all their resources and scientific capacity, affluent nations remain vulnerable and exposed due to the emergence of mutations conferring higher transmissibility, and the inability to convince the entire population to take preventative measures. Nations that have locked down their borders for long periods have learned to live with the fact that they remain vulnerable to COVID-19 and need an exit strategy.

Policymakers and planners in some nations and communities are rapidly adjusting course with the aim of learning to live with COVID-19. This includes rethinking their policies as they either give up preventative practices, lockdown harder than ever, or take the middle path. Accepting vaccination is critical for success and at times this may be complemented by mask-wearing, social distancing, and limiting gathering sizes to ensure a smoother path to social and economic recovery. The mindset has changed from zero COVID-19, embracing infection or eliminating the risk of infection to focusing on the middle path of avoiding severe illness and death.

Focusing on the first word “Learn” can be instructive. Learn means gaining knowledge or understanding or skill by reflection, imitation, or experience. As Confucius said, the former is the easiest and the latter the most bitter. This is the key to our ability to successfully adjust to current and future conditions associated with the COVID-19 and future pandemics. We must begin by recognizing that learning is a continuous, iterative, ongoing process. This is the basis of scientific discovery and advancement, and an underlying reality that we all must understand and embrace. As COVID-19 mutations continue to emerge, so must humanity continually update its knowledge about the virus, its epidemiology, ways it can be targeted, and what we can be done to mitigate impacts on societies and nations. Learning to live with the virus is increasingly being seen as the only way forward and the new normal. Integrated options for achieving this are outlined in the following section.

  1. Virology – More resources are required to understand and track this virus. Countless mutations have been observed, however, we do not know the epidemiological impact of each of these mutations. When the Delta variant emerged, it had some mutations that had been characterized, but several new ones that had not been researched before. This information needs to be rapidly researched, shared and made available in a global public health database or something similar using existing infrastructure.
  2. Vaccines – All vaccines possess different levels of efficacy with breakthroughs and boosters being common to most. Research must continue to identify higher efficacy vaccines and to explore new mechanisms for generating physiological immunity. As the virus continues to evolve, vaccines developers play catch-up, as they do for influenza every year.
  3. Medicine – The medical community has learned a great deal about COVID-19 and while there is no treatment, fewer patients are dying due to improved care. While research is still required to improve medical support, we need more data on what this virus does to the human body. In addition to respiratory issues, are there circulatory system impacts? What are the multisystem components and how do they manifest? This will require more research and global cooperation by experts from around the world.
  4. Healthcare – Increased surge capacity and planning is required. Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are consuming limited human and other resources required to treat other ailments. As a result, people are dying due to an inability to access standard care. New strategies and/or extra resourcing, such as insurance coding, for providing in-home care and telehealth are urgently required for all patients.
  5. Prevention – We need to better understand the myriad of non-pharmacological interventions, their individual and aggregate impact, and when, where, how, and why to use them. For example, social distancing, group size, indoor, outdoor, ventilation, cleaning, and face masks in certain situations such as mixed populations of vaccinated and unvaccinated.
  6. Population Health – Governments must focus on the factors that protect and promote health across all sectors of society. Prevention is the priority, which is an anticipatory action taken to prevent the occurrence of an event or to minimize its effect after it has occurred. However, prevention is not always achievable, so we need to understand the population-at-risk and how to reduce exposure to disease pathogens. This requires flexibility and rapid accurate communication. Perhaps now is the time for multi-disciplinary population-based management teams to inform decisions? Decision-makers must come to recognize that no one authority or organization possesses all the expertise or resources required to mitigate COVID-19 risks and allow all aspects of society to continue functioning.
  7. Education – We have information on this virus concerning treatments, medications, vaccines, non-pharmaceutical interventions, and a myriad other things people need to know and understand to make good decisions, but the method by which this information is used to educate the general population is deficient. The pandemic revealed a lack of basic knowledge in science, biology, and healthcare. Further, it exposed our inability to influence through education, certain populations to adopt preventative behaviors.
  8. Behavior – Creating behavioral change in individuals to improve population health remains the most significant challenge for the government. Understanding how to bring about systemic behavioral change is required by both the general population and healthcare providers. As the virus mutates and spreads through communities, we must be as rapid in our ability to change our approaches and influence others for the betterment of all.
  9. Flexibility – The ability to adapt is necessary to embrace the changes required to survive this pandemic. One community or school district may be doing well and then have a large outbreak, while another may be going from a surge to a lower number. Both require flexibility to change the community’s approach.
  10. Tradeoffs – Taking the middle path requires balancing the trade-offs of opening society versus locking it down. Between a fully opened society and a locked-down one. If anything has become clear over the past two years, politicians often have little awareness of the consequences of their decisions. It is not acceptable to have zero deaths and economic ruin, and we certainly do not want preventable death to keep the economy going. Lost in this conversation has been the huge healthcare costs associated with choosing the economy over safety. Is healthcare really what we want to spend our money on as an economic driver, and is it economically better to create more sickness, which impacts productivity? What too of the costs to healthcare personnel, to those suffering mental health issues, and to those experiencing long COVID-19 with a potential lifetime of health issues, loss of education, and social opportunities?
  11. Assistance – The International Monetary Fund said the world faces “a worsening two-track recovery, driven by dramatic differences in vaccine availability, infection rates, and the ability to provide policy support.” COVID-19 highlights an increasing divide between affluent and poor nations, and yet, it has also revealed how close we are all tied together in manifest pandemic destiny. It is high time that all nations turned their attention to adequately resourcing and resolving transnational security threats of this nature.

We have seen the socioeconomic impacts of extremes in decision making that drive national leaders to seek a realistic path that retains the flexibility to adjust as the situation changes. The possibility remains that humanity will encounter a variant that is more contagious, more virulent, and unresponsive to current vaccines. To cope with this possibility, nations and communities need well-resourced, well-structured, and well-integrated options for living with COVID-19.

As humanity continues its bitter experience with the pandemic, it is learning what does not work and what does work against this virus. “Learning to Live with It” does not mean complacency, which only serves to increase global inequities. The warning signs are clear and national leaders must ensure we move through this pandemic without creating additional, unnecessary, long-term generational damage to health systems and economies.

[1] President and Founder Accountable Health, LLC
[2] Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Baylor University
[3] Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu Hawaii

 The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government. September 2021

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Date: 2021/09/21

A Biodefense Fusion Center to Improve Disease Surveillance and Early Warnings to Enhance National Security

By Michael Baker1, Jacob Baker2, Deon Canyon3, Sebastian Kevany3


Intelligence gathering that includes disease surveillance is an important early warning tool that strengthens decision-making capability and national security. U.S. military, medical assets, and intelligence agencies – and those of our allies are crucial for early detection and response in the future fights against emergent disease outbreaks.

It is time to establish a BioDefense Fusion Center. Our intelligence agencies, laboratories, civilian institutions, assets of our allies and partner nations, social media and data mining can be interwoven with technology and leveraged for mutual defense. The basic pillars of an early warning system are already in place and must be better funded and coordinated going forward.

Alliances, partnerships, and interconnectivity need to be improved and coordinated between the U.S. and foreign governments, independent social media data miners, and other assets that can support this mission.  These efforts need increased funding and intensive collaboration efforts to weave their information into an international biodefense shield with our allied security partners.


Zoonotic transmission, lab accidents, or an intentional biowarfare event can trigger an outbreak, and disease can quickly spread globally – as we have recently seen with the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown crucial U.S. national security vulnerabilities and shortfalls in our response capability, and our adversaries have likely taken note.

Military and civilian intelligence agencies that seek foreign source information developed from rapidly ramped-up efforts during World War II. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was established in 1947 and began producing medical intelligence reports focused on Communist Bloc capabilities and trends, while the U.S. Army Medical Intelligence and Information Agency (USAMIIA) handled the related military medical intelligence. The latter evolved into the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Agency (AFMIC), and later was designated the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) to reflect the organization’s wider constituency which now includes the White House, Department of State, Homeland Security, other agencies, domestic customers, and international partners.

NCMI also serves as the lead U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) agency for the production of medical intelligence, responsible for coordinating and preparing “integrated, all-source intelligence” for the DOD and other government and international organizations on “foreign health threats and other medical issues to protect U.S. interests worldwide.”

Given that diseases are transboundary in nature, it is essential the U.S. has the ability to detect them before they reach American soil. The issue is that many closed nations, like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are not transparent about the medical issues that affect their nation and could affect ours especially a disease outbreak. Information about disease outbreaks such as transmissibility, genome data, and virulence statistics are crucial for combatting disease outbreaks but are characteristically difficult to obtain.

The value of these intelligence tools was evident in November 2019 when the U.S. intelligence community and NMCI began to warn about a global epidemic, saying that the Corona Virus outbreak in China could develop into a “cataclysmic event,” while policymakers, decision-makers, and the National Security Council at the White House were repeatedly briefed on the issue. In early January 2020, mention of the novel coronavirus outbreak first appeared in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) of intelligence matters that is placed on the president’s desk every morning. In this current pandemic, therefore, government intelligence agencies and military medical intelligence gatherers were well ahead of the curve in raising the alarm on this growing threat.


For some time now, scientific advances have made possible the development of synthetic bioweapons (SBWs), which are weaponized biological vectors modified through synthetic biology for novel effects, mechanisms, or processes. For example, CRISPR-Cas9 is a precise genetic surgery that has successfully cured diseases in human adults, but it can also be used to create SBWs. In addition, SBWs could enable a brand-new capability — weapons that render threat detection difficult; have no conventional equivalent, and are harder to counter. 

PLA Colonels Qiao and Wang wrote in 1999 that China must be prepared to synchronize all government capabilities at all levels of competition, with all tools considered legitimate. Doctrinally, China has also recognized the critical role unconventional weapons might play, and some Chinese thinkers have already rejected moral limits on SBWs.


The U.S. military, in conjunction with its intelligence resources and a revitalized CDC (along with other global institutions), can provide the initial building blocks for an early warning and rapid response system woven into a national biodefense fusion center. The U.S. DOD has forward deployed bases, forces, labs, hospitals, intelligence assets, and surveillance resources, all of which are backed up by an agency that has demonstrated success in early warning, testing, and response measures. In 1998, five different organizations within the Department of Defense (DoD) were brought together to create the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to better synchronize plans and actions for nuclear deterrence, weapons of mass destruction, and biothreats. DTRA quickly provided subject matter expertise, mobilized portable lab testing facilities, field vaccines, and treatments for the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa.

The U.S. DOD’s network of overseas laboratories perform research on infectious diseases of both public health and military importance. The Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System includes the following agencies, several of which are World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centers:

When it comes to providing early warning of disease threats, these overseas military facilities form the basis for an effective international infectious disease surveillance effort, especially when collaborating with civilian health agencies such as WHO, other partner nations, and non-governmental disease outbreak search platforms.


 Notwithstanding conventional security threats, investment in military and civilian biodefense is critical. We must enhance threat awareness by developing a global Biothreat Common Operating Picture (BioCOP) in coordination with national and international defense, public health, homeland security, and intelligence agencies. Naturally, allied partners need to be part of the early warning and biodefense response; this will not work as a unilateral effort.

A BioCOP must be able to represent and characterize pandemic threats and possible new SBWs through active bio-surveillance in airports, seaports, and urban hubs. These agencies must be able to communicate, collaborate, and disseminate medical intelligence findings rapidly.  Important assets that enable this are in place at this time include Open Source Intelligence Tools (OSINT) – widely used for health surveillance. These must be able to communicate and collaborate rapidly with international partners, agencies, and nations.


The Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS) program is a collaboration between a wide range of public health stakeholders around the globe for early detection, verification, assessment, and communication of public health threats using publicly available information. EIOS is based on the Early Alerting and Reporting (EAR) project of the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI), and the Hazard Detection and Risk Assessment System (HDRAS), as well as work with other global initiatives and projects such as ProMED, the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, HealthMap and the Europe Media Monitor (EMM).

The Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) is a web-based program that was set up in the late 1990s and utilizes a network of multinational and multilingual professionals who rapidly detect, identify, assess, and mitigate threats to human health. GPHIN is a crucial part of a larger platform developed by the WHO, the Hazard Detection and Risk Assessment System (HDRAS), which uses web-based epidemic intelligence tools and collects information from Healthmap and the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED), amongst others. Healthmap uses informal online sources for disease outbreak monitoring and real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats, including the mobile app “Outbreaks Near Me.” ProMED is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID) that was launched in 1994 as an Internet service to identify unusual health events related to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and toxins affecting humans, animals, and plants.

OSINT tools used for health surveillance, such as GPHIN, automatically collect and collate data, thereby evaluating much larger quantities of information with algorithms and producing relevant reports. GPHIN, ProMED, and HealthMap have provided alerts on some of the most serious outbreaks since the turn of the century. For example, despite its earlier experiences with SARS, China did not report a November 2003 human H5N1 influenza case until 2006. Yet by evaluating content from Chinese media and low-level chatter, ProMED provided the first English language alert of SARS and even ‘prompted’ subsequent confirmation by the Chinese government. Similarly, some indicators of the recent Ebola outbreak were detected by HealthMap before any official announcements by officials or WHO.  EIOS picked up the first report of a cluster-type pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan at 03:14 am (UTC) on December 31, 2019.


The United States National Security Strategy (NSS) provides a framework for protecting the nation and ensuring its freedom, security, and prosperity in a rapidly changing, complex world. Consistently and innovatively translating the NSS blueprint into action remains a core function of government.

It is time for the U.S. to spearhead the development of a BioDefense Fusion Center. This initiative is urgently required to meet growing transboundary infectious threats to international security.

National biodefense must not be exclusively reactive. Further research needs to be undertaken by research organizations, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) biotechnology office.  DARPA will need the resources — more funding and personnel — to drive the development of advanced biosensors, diagnostics, countermeasures, and other defenses to keep pace with changes in diseases.  This has become even more urgent now that designer weapons can be created. Another asset is the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), whose mission “enables DoD and the U.S. Government to prepare for and combat weapons of mass destruction and improvised threats” including those of biological origin.

A comprehensive counter-pandemic and counter-SBW plan would look for and respond to clear and present biological dangers while advancing the operating country’s knowledge about disease potential and emerging threats. The U.S. government must develop flexible, rapid, and effective response plans that include well-maintained stockpiles of specialized sensors, protective equipment, and medications. Defensively, we have also learned the challenges of responding with vaccines, even once the threat is identified, as we see in the current pandemic situation.


The U.S. should advance disease surveillance, reporting, and early response with a BioDefense Fusion Center by leveraging its existing security relationships with regional allies and partners in a coordinated approach to improve domain awareness and intercommunication.  Intelligence asset reporting, health and lab information, and social media and big data searches from a wide array of sources need to be collated, validated, and rapidly disseminated to provide biodefense.

Partner nations could help build a disease early warning system, as demonstrated by the Asia-Pacific countries that have a major stake in disease surveillance and early warning. These nations are already significantly aligned with the U.S. through organizations such as the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI-APCSS).

The pillars of health surveillance and security can be quickly interconnected by leveraging the partner states of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad) – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States and the “Five Eyes” – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain and the U.S. who currently share information.  This can form the basic pillars of a BioDefense Shield as information is directed to the BioDefense Fusion Response Center.  Proposals for national and international maritime fusion response centers are being considered to reduce transnational threats in the maritime domain.

Potential partners in a more robust, international Biodefense Fusion Center and Shield alliance could include, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam.  Other partners could be found by bringing in India, Israel, and our NATO-European Union allies into a more global and comprehensive collaborative disease surveillance enterprise. Current events have demonstrated that such alliances are both proactive and successful at mitigating pandemic problems.

The next iteration of U.S. strategy must focus on key collaborative initiatives that collate and fuse data, both from intelligence sources, health assets, and social media web crawlers to tease out new or evolving threats to health and security. Drawing upon the strength and strategic alignment of existing relationships will only be effective with the facilitation of the rapid sharing of intelligence across platforms. Therefore, the U.S. approach needs to be innovative and ensure that critical instruments of alliance power are leveraged quickly to facilitate appropriate responses to health threats with adequate scope and focus.


21st Century global health intelligence is an increasingly important part of national security, strengthens national defense, and requires a greater share of the resources currently committed to conventional warfare. It also, through soft power and health security functions, protects national security both directly and indirectly.

Even in extremely challenging operational theaters such as Afghanistan, the use of medical diplomacy initiatives through military Global Health Engagement has been a highly compelling peacekeeping and nation-building tool.  Medical and disease threat intelligence is thus vitally important to the safety and security of this nation and its people.  Military, health departments and labs, and civilian intelligence agencies need funding and staffing beyond the level that has been seen in this current national and global pandemic tragedy.

Infectious diseases continue to evolve and disrupt nations around the globe at a faster pace. This process is exacerbated by demographic, political, and climate change pressures on populations that push humanity into habitats that were once wilderness or were considered unfit for living. Thus, our potential exposure to novel agents remains on the rise in line with population growth. The next pandemic may yet strike while we remain exposed due to rapid, unsustainable urbanization, climate change, destructive food harvesting and producing practices, globalization, and reliance on other nations for essential items.

It is time to build a global Biodefense Fusion Center for early detection and early response to disease threats. This will promote U.S. primacy and leadership in global security and will provide the groundwork required for the establishment of a BioDefense shield.  Our new 21st Century disease and security threats require us to transition from building tanks, ships, and manned aircraft for the “last war” to deploying better intelligence and surveillance tools; enhancing cutting edge cyber capabilities; and making our labs faster and more efficient. We need to fund DARPA and DTRA, and link them together with civilian agencies, OSINT tools, and military intelligence assets. Strengthening our ability to defend against the next disease threat requires us to collaborate and “war” game future threats with allied nations and partners, and where possible, with civilian agencies such as WHO.

The development of truly effective global systems for managing infectious disease surveillance and health intelligence is challenging, but excellent tools and agencies are available, and new tools are constantly emerging. The goal for our future is to establish a global, collaborative surveillance and reporting mechanism, fund it generously, and staff it with our best talent. This is not a project that needs to be started from the ground up, for many of the assets needed and partnerships required to build a collaboration already exist. The United States just needs to be willing to grasp the baton, reframe military and security thinking and resource allocation in the health security context, and lead the next steps in global early warning and biodefense.

[1] RADM, MC, USN (ret)
[2] Georgetown University
[3] Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu HI USA

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.
September 2021

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Date: 2021/09/20

Military and Private Sector HADR – Now a Sophisticated Tool for Strategic Competition

By Deon K. Canyon [1]
Benjamin J. Ryan [2]


The act of offering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) was initially a selfless one with the United Nations principles focusing on addressing human suffering, not taking sides, giving based on need, and being free from influence. There are, of course, many wonderful outcomes under the cooperation umbrella that result from the provision of HADR, regardless of what nation or agency provides the aid.

The delivery of HADR by the military has become standard practice, especially in the Indo-Pacific. In this region, proactive efforts to enhance military-to-military and military-civilian integration are now maturing and have been primed for the next phase, integration of the private sector. This sector has more local capacity than any other agency or organization combined. Their direct relationship with communities can help ensure aid reaches all areas of society, increasing the likelihood of a rapid response and recovery.

HADR has also emerged as a sophisticated diplomatic tool for strategic competition. The following describes how this had evolved across the military sector and the role the private sector has in providing an economically viable strategic edge in soft power competition.

Military HADR diplomacy

Despite Eurocentric proponents resisting the military’s involvement, claiming that it cannot by its very nature abide by the United Nations principles, the use of militaries to deliver HADR has become standard practice. This is especially true in the Indo-Pacific, where nations have proactively sought to improve military-to-military and military-to-civilian integration to extend this relationship. Demand for HADR is highest in the Indo-Pacific, whose inhabitants experience increased frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters. In these areas, the growing lack of capacity in principle-based, global humanitarian networks to cater for people in need, and reduced resources available to undertake United Nations HADR missions, have forced governments to accept military assets to provide HADR to their populations. The emergence of Multinational Military Coordination Centers (MNCC), designed to coordinate increasing military assistance, and the ASEAN Militaries Ready Group (AMRG), designed to coordinate militaries in a joint response to disasters in the ASEAN region, indicates the permanence of this trend.

While the goodness of aid provision is undeniable, identifying routes to increase goodwill and extend influence is fundamental to human nature. The provision of international assistance has long been strategically used to achieve this aim. The nature of this influence varies depending on who is assisted and the underlying motivation of the assistor. For instance, while the provision of assistance to allies and partners is part duty and part maintaining security cooperation, HADR provision to neutral nations is more about extending security cooperation to be more geopolitically competitive.

It has been argued that these trends reflect a shift towards more advanced and comprehensive approaches to security cooperation. However, when viewed through the current US government focus of “compete, confront when necessary, and cooperate when it’s possible,” it is clear that international HADR is trending towards becoming more of a tool for strategic competition than an act of selflessness cooperation.

Three elements shed more light on how HADR is a form of competition in national security soft power.

  1. Humanitarian disasters expose vulnerabilities and governance gaps in national capacity
  2. HADR proficiency is an indicator of operational readiness in conventional security forces
  3. Military HADR deployment is effectively hard but framed as soft power

Militaries are most often praised in HADR operations for heavy-lift capability, surveillance technologies, and the ability to provide long-distance assets. However, all these “dual-use” capacities are hard power elements framed as benign tools that provide exceptional assistance to vulnerable populations. In reality, international militaries that use dual-use tools can present a coercive signature influenced by national interests.

Private sector HADR diplomacy

The move towards private sector provision of HADR is growing in momentum, but it is part of the same game when orchestrated and supported by governments. The difference being that political motivations are a little lower on the totem pole than making a profit. Recognizing this along with the fact that economic capacity and power largely lies within the private sector, HADR policymakers can move towards balancing public responsibility with outcomes that benefit the entire society. This form of diplomatic competition in HADR could influence the game by leveraging existing diplomatic approaches. This network of networks’ approach harnesses embassies, consulates, international organizations, think tanks, and civil society groups to leverage private sector capacities at all levels. A fundamental rewriting of the institutional structure is not required, and the approach helps shape the diplomatic profile of nations and regions towards a more sustainable approach to HADR.

The Covid pandemic provides a vehicle for the extension of influence through the private sector in the guise of assistance. Companies delivering vaccines around the world are an example of this form of diplomacy. The nations where these companies are founded provide opportunities to promote diplomatic power by showcasing technological prowess and facilitate footholds into new markets. China and India both use vaccines to establish footings in other nations. However, arguably, India has won this round of strategic competition by being able towork in collaboration with vaccine manufacturers from the West. By manufacturing and distributing a superior vaccine, India’s private sector is viewed as more competitive and less dependent on assistance from the state.

Vaccine strategic competition is real. For instance, China donated 300,000 vaccine doses to Nepal a week after India delivered a million doses, and India announced that it would donate 100,000 doses to Cambodia a day after the country received a million doses from China. However, true vaccine diplomacy requires nations to equitably share their vaccine stocks through COVAX. This presents a unique opportunity for the private sector to work with nations and may even be the best mechanism to restore diplomatic cooperation between Russia or China and the US or European nations as part of a multilateral global framework.

The nations that first partner with the private sector in vaccine diplomacy are also likely to continue programs after support has ended. This will be achieved by building vaccine distribution capacity and other elements required for a sustainable and profitable business. The vital role of the private sector has been recognized more broadly by the international disaster community, including the United Nations. This provides a template for how the current military-to-military and military-to-civilian arrangements could be expanded to integrate the private sector into HADR.

Private sector in disaster relief

The private sector is steadily integrating into disaster risk reduction. For example, 150 companies and other organizations in Mexico formed the public-private network Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE). The benefit of this was demonstrated by one of these companies delivering disaster over a thousand relief houses in Oaxaca, Mexico, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Managua, Nicaragua. Also, as access to medical resources became a global issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries mobilized the private sector to provide rapid development, manufacturing, distribution, therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines. For example, in the United States, this included:

  • General Electric, General Motors, Hill-Rom, Medtonic, Philips, ResMed and Vyaire built over 130,000 ventilators
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) engaged 3M to create 10 million N95 respirators
  • The United States Department of Agriculture, working with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty (BCHP), engaged McLane Global and PepsiCo to deliver40 million meals to children affected by COVID-19 school closures
  • The Food and Drug Administration used Emergency Use Authorizations to enable the private sector to develop and deliver medicines such as Veklury (remdesiver) from Gilead Sciences
  • Funding was available to many vaccine manufacturers such as Novavax, Pfizer, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson’s and Moderna, and manufacturing of Regeneron’s COVID-19 anti-viral antibody treatment

Many countries partnered with the private sector to ramp up temporary health care facilities to meet actual and anticipated demand from COVID-19.  Some countries introduced strategies to overcome challenges to ongoing infrastructure agreements. For instance, Colombia and Japan adopted coordination mechanisms between public and private sectors and across all levels of government. The United Kingdom used guidelines to help ensure continuity of services under private finance initiatives. Integrating the private sector into these activities allowed for collaboration in providing infrastructure services and rapid dissemination of information and emergency measures to local communities.

The opportunity presented by engaging the private sector has been recognized by global development banks. For example, the World Bank and the Caribbean Community established the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, which offers member nations exposed to disasters insurance through a liquidity style coverage. The initiative has since expanded to include the private sector with an initial focus on helping electricity providers in recognition of their role in ensuring economic and social stability before, during, and after disasters and other crises.

HADR will continue to evolve

Integrating the military and private sector into HADR activities has begun to evolve international assistance into a sophisticated tool for strategic competition. This approach recognizes the exceptional capabilities possessed by the military and the power of the private sector with its direct relationships with customers, suppliers, and communities, which can better influence and guide HADR activities at local and national levels. It engages people working with local enterprises, businesses, cooperatives, farmer organizations, industry and trade associations, research institutions and academia, and other foundations that have for-profit orientations. For example, in many nations, the private sector employees 82% of the workforce, creates nine of ten jobs and operates most network and infrastructure systems. Consequently, when a crisis or disaster occurs, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquake, or hurricane, the majority of infrastructure and economic losses are incurred by the private sector.

Assistance from both private and military sectors places a higher value on interagency cooperation, restoring infrastructure, protecting vulnerable populations, and promoting human rights. These are all necessary for governments to turn HADR into a diplomatic tool for soft power competition. However, emphasis must be placed on expanding private sector integration into HADR because it is becoming a rapidly evolving element in strategic competition. Unlike the military, the private sector provides a strategic edge in economically viable and sustainable soft power competition.

[1] Dr. Deon Canyon is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA.
[2] Dr. Benjamin Ryan is a Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Baylor University.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government. August 2021

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Date: 2021/09/01

Wargaming Future National Security Threats Posed by Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases

By Deon Canyon DBA PhD MPH FACTM [*]


The year 2020 was notable for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with 83,927,835 reported cases and 1,834,358 deaths, but few people beyond infectious disease experts were aware that in the same year, hundreds of millions were afflicted by vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and Dengue, that killed over 700,000 people.[1]

Vector-borne diseases (VBD) have been a threat to human health for centuries, and while many people consider diseases like malaria to be an African problem, arboviruses such as West Nile virus, Dengue fever, Zika virus and Chikungunya virus have emerged and spread in North America. Virtually all arboviruses have their origins in wildlife transmission cycles, and human infection occurs in three ways. Firstly, a bridging vector, living between wildlife and humans, may become infected by the wildlife cycle and bring a pathogen over to the human side (e.g., Yellow fever). Second, a virus may amplify in domestic animal reservoirs to the extent that humans living nearby become incidentally infected (e.g., Japanese encephalitis). In this situation, humans are an end-point for the pathogen and do not contribute to further transmission. Thirdly, a pathogen may move from a wildlife cycle to a distinct human cycle involving anthropophilic vectors that live in urban settings (e.g., Dengue). This category generates the most human disease and is a critical focus for public health interventions.

Predictability of vector-borne diseases in the US

Pathogen emergence is highly unpredictable because there are many possible causal factors. Humans have become more susceptible to infection through these three possible transmission pathways for two main reasons. Changing ecological contexts due to globalization, climate change, and human modification of ecosystems have resulted in shifting habitats, exposure to new vectors, and the movement of vectors around the world into new habitats facilitated by globalization. Changing social contexts due to evolving population demographics and increasing population movement have increased exposure to new vectors and new wildlife cycles, as well as made it easier for pathogens to spread around the world in human hosts. Long-term behavioral changes in human movement and aggregation due to the COVID-19 pandemic may have a further impact on the way that arboviruses transmit.

For instance, the West Nile virus (WNV) did not exist in the United States before 1999, and nobody predicted that it would become the most common vector-borne disease in the US.[2] The presence of culicine mosquito vectors and many species of avian vertebrate hosts enabled the virus to spread across the country in five years.[3] From its introduction into the US in 1999 to 2017, there have been 7,000,000 infections with 22,399 cases of neuroinvasive disease and 2,034 deaths. Although WNV outbreaks often occur during heat waves, they are otherwise unpredictable.[4],[5] Communities have often failed to implement adequate surveillance and neglect mosquito control due to a lack of skilled personnel, funding, and concerns about pesticide use.[6]

Dengue fever (DF) is the most common arbovirus disease worldwide and has posed an important public health threat in the US since 2009 due largely to several thousand dengue-infected tourists and travelers entering the US annually.[7] During 2010–2017, totals of 5,009 travel-associated and 378 locally acquired confirmed or probable dengue cases and three deaths were reported to ArboNET.[8] The preferred habitat of its primary vector, Aedes aegypti, generally lies between the 10° isotherms above and below the equator. However, it has been known to emerge, totally unexpected, in temperate states such as New York. Further, Dengue is growing in endemic areas, such as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.3

Chikungunya virus made its first surprising appearance when it was locally transmitted in the Americas in the Caribbean in 2013.[9]  Spreading via the same vector as Dengue, this pathogen caused over a million infections throughout Latin America and 2,400 cases in the US within a year.[10] Chikungunya virus is now a health concern in the US, where mosquito vectors exist, and autochthonous transmission regularly occurs in Puerto Rico.[11]

Zika virus is spread by the same vectors that transmit Dengue and Chikungunya, but it sparked great concern when it was found to cause infection by passing from a pregnant woman to her fetus, passing between sexual partners, and rarely passing between non-sexual partners. The common symptoms akin to mild Dengue were expected but the world had never seen an arbovirus that caused fetal infection resulting in brain abnormalities, such as microcephaly.

Traditional forecasting fails when faced with complex, unpredictable crises

As we face these highly unpredictable occurrences of pathogen emergence and effects, we have almost no new vector control methods, very few cures or vaccines for arboviruses and other vector-borne pathogens, drug resistance is growing, insecticide resistance is growing, and scientists with the necessary skills to do these things are decreasing day by day. When WNV emerged in the US, arboviral disease surveillance systems received a boost in support. However, when WNV infection became a “new normal,” attention to and investment in surveillance, research, and prevention all deteriorated and the gap between capacity and ability to respond has grown ever since.[12] Fortunately, large outbreaks of Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika have not occurred in the past few years, but this only leads to diminished resources, complacency, and the loss of workplace skills and trained personnel.

Vector-borne diseases disrupt health security as they are an important episodic cause of death, disease burden, and health inequity. They hamper socioeconomic development and place a strain on health services. Controlling these diseases and gaining insight into how they might behave in the future is vital to health security. However, the constantly evolving, volatile, complex, and changing world often presents challenging impacts to the crisis management community.

The use of mathematical models, the mainstay of forecasting endeavors, is only possible in environments in which curve balls and black swans don’t exist, and where the probability of occurrence is high, when outcomes are well-known, and future trends are dependable. Crisis scholars don’t use them because none of these conditions exist for real crises. Mathematical forecasting fails when major crises are typically one-off events for which there are little data. Every pandemic is different, and every hurricane is accompanied by a unique set of challenges. The solutions to these crises do not exist on a shelf of best practices. If no commitment has been made to proactively think about possible crises, all responses are completely reactive trial and error affairs. Gaining insights into possible future vector-borne events requires not only an understanding of complex biological and ecological interactions but creative and collaborative systems thinking. It requires a commitment to new thinking.

Providing valuable future insights to decision-makers

As our crises grow in frequency, intensity, and complexity, decision-makers are faced with rapidly accumulating piles of data that quickly diminish in reliability and usefulness as a crisis progresses. The challenge for them is how to gain insight into what crises are coming in the short term future (1 to 5 years) when a decision needs to be made now to prepare for them. The question is, when traditional approaches fail, how can we generate sufficient competitive intelligence to make intelligent decisions that address short-term threats?

The need to forecast in uncertain situations and the failure of traditional forecasting tools have driven the commercial sector towards Business Wargaming and the defense sector towards Competitive Security Gaming.[13],[14] These are quite different from strategic foresight, which is a common methodology for gaining insights beyond five years.[15] Competitive Security Games reframe wargaming in terms of strategic, operational, and tactical competition rather than conflict, and their indicators of success relate closely to national security. They can just as easily be used to address the threat imposed by emerging VBDs.

The games for evaluating complex threats have themselves emerged from various sectors as a consequence of the type of challenges they face. Some migrate from the military into business and politics, while most originate in the highly competitive business environment. Succeeding in these games requires systematic, multiple-source data collection, appraisal to collate valid information, fusion to create actionable intelligence, and making sure the decision-makers are informed. In the absence of sound quantitative models, the intent is to develop ‘strategic choices driven by insights rather than by gut feeling, conventional wisdom, or the loudest voice in the room.’[16]

In wargames, natural disasters and pathogens can be injected by game controllers, or they can be played by a person or a team. The former construct typically promotes the implementation of standard, familiar responses, but the latter can result in constant pressure applied by out-of-box, emergent thinking. Providing that the time setting is set for a more strategic game, this pressure drives novel thinking by forcing people to face threats they have never faced, which provides them with the opportunity to devise approaches they have never considered. The game environment is not only safe, it is also cheap, and all imaginable approaches can be trialed and considered.

In the context of vector-borne diseases, a Competitive Security Game would test the behavior and outcomes (strategy) presented by a novel emerging VBD by exposing it to three distinct lines of force (representing different interest groups – e.g., medical, governance, scientific). These forces operate independently and in concert as they challenge the VBD strategy in an environment where various uncontrollable factors may arise (due to player actions, action consequences, and control injects) to render the situation more complex, urgent, and risky. These three forces must be limited to entities that have a direct bearing on the strategy under review.

In addition to control and assessment cells, there are typically four active player cells. One represents the VBD that is “testing its strategy” (Strategist Cell), and three represent competing nations or entities that challenge that strategy (Competitor Cells). Other sub-strategist or sub-competitor cells may be involved if they are essential to testing the strategy under investigation. Figure 1 shows the game flow of a VBD Competitive Security Game.

Figure 1: Cell roles and flow of a Competitive Security Game as it runs in practice.[17]

Success can be evaluated by determining the impact of player actions on the VBD in terms of

1) Protection: Level of threat to national population; 2) Economics: Cost/Level of resources required/available; 3) Stability: in terms of population compliance with medical and scientific advice; 4) Internal influence: in terms of public opinion; and 5) External influence: in terms of the impact of the VBD and national actions on alliances, partnerships, and international reputation.

Benefits of competitive gaming for vector-borne disease forecasting

Competitive Security Gaming reframes the struggle to manage disease pathogens in terms of strategic, operational, and tactical competition rather than man versus non-thinking pathogen. Like business wargames, they can generate high-end, qualitative analytics that ensures quality outcomes and insights. But unlike business games, they focus on higher-level strategy and are not solely focused on financial gain. They also increase the chance of success in many other ways by challenging assumptions; revealing action consequences; allowing the exploration of alternative strategies; stimulating innovative thinking; uniting ideas, people and plans; improve interagency coordination; identifying blind spots; promoting resilience; raising issue awareness; team building; and spotlighting talent.

One of the greatest assets of competitive security games is their ability to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the entity sitting in the Strategy Cell. Fresh thinking on potential pathogen capacities, mechanisms, and blind spots is the highest form of intelligence analysis.[18] Information on faulty assumptions is an added bonus that is particularly helpful when it comes to modifications in VBD management strategies that can correct internal deficiencies and neutralize external threats.

Usefulness of this information to the Defense sector

The evolving socio-ecological environment is likely to require ministries of defense to assess potential impacts of future vector-borne diseases on assumptions, doctrine, and operational constructs.[19] In times of peace and war, nations gain goodwill from crisis assistance operations, and militaries get the opportunity to test various systems and joint service interoperability. Many of these operations take place in disease-endemic areas that have consequences for force protection and level of commitment.

The coordination of international military training exercises will become increasingly difficult as they deal with VBD changes due to climate change and increasing global population movement. Military VBD units will become more integrated with planners as the demand for VBD skills and training increases. Health protection considerations in these training programs will increase. Surges in VBDs will alter the parameters and requirements for exercises, wargames and training for multiple, simultaneous crises.

More Defense personnel will be operating in VBD-degraded environments. The threat of VBDs and their actual spread will require medical care, prophylactics, personal protective equipment, and support for psychological well-being.

Climate change may result in some Defense installations being located in environments that become more attractive to and supportive of disease vectors. Infrastructure and vehicles may require modification to reduce exposure to disease vectors, thus increasing energy footprints and environmental impact. Degradation of infrastructure may also pose a risk if it provides more vector breeding sites.

Ensuring public buy-in is fundamental when disease vectors rely on public behaviors for survival and dissemination. Creating social narratives that enlist public support has always been important in changing people’s behavior and getting them to advocate for more governmental resources and commitment to action. Internationally, nations seen to be taking proactive steps to minimize the threatening outcomes of a changing climate will be able to project more diplomatic influence.

The shrinking number of scientists capable of preparing for episodic VBD outbreaks could be braced by a corresponding increase in personnel, roles and activities for the military. The potential for VBDs to become national crises speaks to the need for a larger skilled civilian force. However, the episodic nature of the threat renders it more suitable for the military, who constantly operate internationally in endemic areas exposed to the same threats.

These endeavors combined with the transboundary threat posed by VBDs require joint-force action, inter-agency collaboration, and international interoperability. Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises and operations have been a mainstay for practicing interoperability, but as nations become more self-sufficient, pathogen response may grow in importance.

Precautions against VBDs may even be useful when it comes to reducing vulnerability to miniature airborne drones.

Ultimately, any VBD wargaming effort should aim to establish the existing level of government knowledge, characterize the context, drivers, and goals of VBD policy, identify and prioritize challenges and opportunities, and suggest policy actions to resolve the issues and their consequences.

Vector-borne diseases continue to evolve and to disrupt nations around the globe, and they are being exacerbated by climate change and changing socio-ecological behaviors and conditions. Resilience depends on our ability to gain insight into how the various driving forces will play out in the years to come. In facing this challenge, governments must develop more insightful and coherent policies that include a role for security sectors. Considering what is coming in the future must become integral to our management practices so that we can demonstrate thought leadership as we strive to mitigate and prepare for prepare for vector-borne black swans.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government. August 2021

[*] Dr. Canyon is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.


[1] WHO, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/vector-borne-diseases.

[2] Curren EJ, Lehman J, Kolsin J, Walker WL, Martin SW, Staples JE, Hills SL, Gould SV, Rabe IB, Fischer M, et al. West Nile virus and other nationally notifiable arboviral diseases – United States, 2017. MMWR. Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 2018;67:1137–1142.

[3] Petersen LR, Hayes EB. West Nile virus in the Americas. Medical Clinics of North America 2008;92(6):1307-1322.

[4] Kilpatrick AM, Meola MA, Moudy RM, Kramer LD. Temperature, viral genetics, and the transmission of West Nile virus by Culex pipiens mosquitoes. PLoS Pathogens 2008;4(6):e1000092.

[5] Healy JM, Reisen WK, Kramer VL, Fischer M, Lindsey NP, Nasci RS, Macedo PA, White G, Takahashi R, Khang L, Barker CM. Comparison of the efficiency and cost of West Nile virus surveillance methods in California. Vector Borne Zoonotic Diseases 2015;15(2):147-155.

[6] Chung WM, Buseman CM, Joyner SN, Hughes SM, Fomby TB, Luby JP, Haley RW. The 2012 West Nile encephalitis epidemic in Dallas, Texas. Journal of the American Medical Association 2013;310(3):297-307.

[7] Mohammed HP, Ramos MM, Rivera A, Johansson M, Munoz-Jordan JL, Sun W, Tomashek KM. Travel-associated dengue infections in the United States, 1996 to 2005. Journal of Travel Medicine 2010;17(1):8-14.

[8] Rivera A, Adams LE, Sharp TM, Lehman JA, Waterman SH, Paz-Bailey G. Travel-Associated and Locally Acquired Dengue Cases — United States, 2010–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:149–154.

[9] Leparc-Goffart I, Nougairede A, Cassadou S, Prat C, de Lamballerie X. Chikungunya in the Americas. Lancet 2014;383(9916):514.

[10] Sharp TM, Roth NM, Torres J, Ryff KR, Perez Rodriguez NM, Mercado C, Pilar Diaz Padro MD, Ramos M, Phillips R, Lozier M, et al. Chikungunya cases identified through passive surveillance and household investigations—Puerto Rico, May 5-August 12, 2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2014;63(48):1121-1128.

[11] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/geo/united-states.html.

[12] Petersen LR, Nasci RS, Beard CB, Massung RF. A9 – Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases in the United States: What Is Next, and Are We Prepared?” National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Global Health Impacts of Vector-Borne Diseases: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21792.

[13] Kurtz J. Business wargaming: simulations guide crucial strategy decisions. Strategy & Leadership 2003;31(6):12-21.

[14] Canyon D. Strategic competition, national security and the need for ‘competitive intelligence’. Security Nexus 2020;21:14 Oct.

[15] Canyon D. Simplifying complexity with strategic foresight and scenario planning. Security Nexus 2021;22:7 Jan.

[16] SCIP. https://www.scip.org/page/About-Us.

[17] Canyon D. Competitive security gaming: rethinking wargaming to provide competitive intelligence that informs strategic competition and national security. Security Nexus 2020;21:24 Nov.

[18] Gilad B. Business War Games. The Career Press: Pompton Plains NJ, 2008.

[19] Cox K, Knack A, Robson M, Adger N, Paille P, Freeman J, Black J, Harris R. A changing climate: exploring implications of climate change for UK defence and security. RAND Europe.

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Date: 2021/08/17

Lessons from India’s Handling of the Second Wave of SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant Surge

By Srini Sitaraman, Professor, DKI APCSS
Sebastian Kevany, Associate Professor, DKI APCSS[*]

The second wave of the coronavirus caused by the mutant Delta variant led to the deaths of 209,182 people from April 15 to June 17, 2021 in India (Data source: Our World in Data). But, some estimates peg the number of COVID-19-related deaths significantly higher (see footnote no. 1). This article assesses India’s handling of the second wave of the coronavirus, and seeks to draw some lessons from India’s experience.

Several causes emerged simultaneously and unfortunately, colluded to surprise and overwhelm public health officials and the Indian government. After the first wave subsided, COVID-19 safety protocols were relaxed because of economic considerations. During the second wave, the Central Government of India stepped back and ceded management to state and local governments. It is as yet unclear as to whether this decentralized management model could be described as successful, compared to the unilateral central government control, as in the case of the first wave.

Today, India has an unenviable task ahead: it has to continue to prevent transmission, increase its vaccine supply, and accelerate vaccine administration while also pursuing various aspects of lockdown, masking, and social distancing protocols to arrest the transmission and mutation of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Tragic Scenes
In early 2021, India witnessed horrific scenes with patients lining outside hospitals desperately seeking a bed and struggling to breathe. Today, such scenes are also appearing in other parts of the world as the Delta variant is leading to a surge in cases across the globe. In February 2021 monthly Indian COVID-19 related deaths were hovering below 3,000, but by March it had increased to over 5,000 and by April it increased 10-fold to 50,000. In the following month, deaths more than doubled again to over 110,000.[2] During the peak of second-wave, India was seeing more than 400,000 cases per day in May 2021,[3] which has currently tapered to about 40,000 cases (JHU, Our World in Data, 7/22/21).

The virulent outbreak of the SARS-COV-2 mutant virus—B.1.1.7, B1.617, B.1617.1,[4] B.1.617.2, and B1.168, also known as the Delta Variant—is the primary cause for India’s monumental struggle to contain the second wave of coronavirus. The Government of India and almost all state governments are battling to contain the rapid community transmission of this mutant variant. Infectious disease experts anticipate that a third wave of infections might impact India later this year caused by newer variants.

Unquestionably, multiple and complex factors simultaneously intertwined to cause this sudden explosion of the Delta variant. India’s first extended lockdown that lasted from March 25 to May 31, 2020 saw a gradual reduction in infection rates. Simultaneously, deaths attributed to the first wave of COVID declined from a high of 33,390 in September to a low of 11,117 in December of 2020. By February 2021, the number of COVID-19 related deaths declined[5] to less than 100, and India began to rapidly re-open. Large gatherings followed, and other normal activities resumed across the country under the assumption that COVID-19 had run its course.

In retrospect, it is presumed that both citizens and the public health authorities became complacent. Elections were conducted in several states, and the intense electoral competition produced mass rallies and huge gatherings that enabled the virus to transmit. People also gathered in large numbers to vote in-person in the phased elections across India, and electoral violence was another major issue during the pandemic that provided ideal grounds for the virus to spread.

Further, phased elections were held in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Kerala. High officials from multiple parties engaged in a grueling campaign in several states across India that attracted large crowds. Due to pressure from different religious groups, worship gatherings were also permitted. In addition, farmer protests in Northern India that continued over several months enabled large groups to assemble.

Vaccine Issues
Early enthusiasm about vaccines subsequently got bogged down in vaccine supply chain issues, production problems, and administration challenges. The Indian government announced the approval of two vaccines—COVISHIELD[6] and COVAXIN—in early January. It began shipping the vaccines to several countries in an effort to showcase India’s goodwill and vaccine manufacturing capacity. Between Jan.16 to April 16, 2021, India shipped over 69 million vaccines to 95 countries.

After the rapid surge in cases in March and April, however, shipment of vaccines were suspended, and supplies were rerouted to domestic vaccination centers. Furthermore, the need to import difficult to procure precursor materials to increase vaccine production also complicated the production and delivery of the vaccines during the second wave. Critically, the sudden parallel surge in COVID infection rates overwhelmed the ability of the local health officials to quickly respond to the crisis. By mid-April, the number of COVID-19 related deaths slowly crept up to 1,000 per day, and by mid-May, the number of deaths leapt to more than 4,000 per day (Our World in Data, 7/24/21).

Correspondingly, rampant misinformation spread through social media regarding vaccine side effects is producing vaccine hesitancy and vaccine skepticism. Importantly, this has generated mistrust against the government vaccination program and led to costly vaccine wastages. Further, many Indians, as in other countries, did not display any great urgency or eagerness to get vaccinated initially, which gave rise to vaccine skepticism. Fear of side effects and rumors of catching COVID through vaccines spread on the Internet, which dissuaded many from vaccination.  Critically, many who took one dose did not show up for the second dose, increasing the risks of vaccine-resistant strains developing amongst those only partially vaccinated.

International politics also played a role in this current crisis.  Because of the conflict with China, India did not demonstrate any eagerness in procuring any of the Chinese vaccines that are being administered in other countries. Instead, the Indian government rush ordered 300 million Russian Sputnik vaccines to stem the tide of the transmission. Yet to fulfill India’s plan of vaccinating at least a billion citizens, the country would need two billion vaccines and a large-scale vaccine supply and administration infrastructure to meet this goal. Currently, India is vaccinating between 3-4 million persons per day; several Indian analysts are urging the government to boost the vaccination to about 4-6 million per day.

Delegation to State-Level Policies
During the second wave, the Indian state governments took the lead in instituting lockdown policies, introducing virus mitigation plans. State government leaders provided regular media briefings; increased bed and ICU capacity in hospitals; began procuring much in-demand medical supplies such as oxygen and life-saving drugs and PPE; issued international tenders for vaccines; and set up emergency treatment centers to meet the need for urgent care.

The merits and challenges of decentralized model of pursuing lockdown and procurement policies need to be further examined, not the least because there were some conflicts among states competing to procure limited supplies of oxygen and essential drugs. Such disputes among different state governments speak to the effectiveness of the centralized versus decentralized models of the procurement. Eventually, the Indian courts had to intervene to address inequities in the supply and procurement of critical oxygen for patients in hospitals.

States also struggled with the mobilization of resources required for testing and vaccine administration. There are some distinct merits to the decentralized approach that India pursued during the second wave, such as setting-up localized policies to address local concerns. However, there are also some important lessons to be drawn in improving inter-state cooperation and effective central-state coordination, particularly in testing, vaccine procurement, and surge testing.

Virus mitigation policies established during the second wave should now perhaps serve as a model for the development of localized policies, respondent to local conditions and without impacting normal activity in rest of the country. More localized policies will also allow for isolating and controlling clusters of infection rather than imposing stringent nationwide policies. But in the area of pricing of the vaccines and vaccine procurement, central government is better situated to issue international tenders and collectively negotiate on behalf of India. However, it is possible that vaccine administration could be delegated to state and local level health officials with central government oversight.

Other Considerations to Inform Future Policies
It is also critical that sustained emphasis is placed on maintaining some levels of COVID protocols, and large private gatherings such as weddings, receptions, religious functions, birthday parties are managed appropriately. Greater efforts to fight fake news and misinformation are also essential. It is going to require enormous determination on the part of the state governments to continue to pursue disciplined lockdowns and specific social distancing protocols; accelerated vaccination campaigns, possibly driven by influential social, sporting, or other national figures, accompanied by active measures to build up the public health infrastructure are therefore also urgently required.

Also of note, a recent national serological study released by a government agency, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), showed that more than two-thirds of the unvaccinated Indian population above the age of six displayed a high level of antibodies or seroprevalence among sections of the Indian population. This finding, along with the slowly increasing rates of vaccination, accompanied by proactive public health mitigation efforts, might prevent another surge of the mutant SARS-CoV-2 in India.[7]

The second wave of the coronavirus has revealed that, as in many other parts of the world, there are some key deficiencies in the Indian public health system.  In the future, public health departments will have to procure and stockpile essential medical supplies in excess in anticipation of future spikes in the coronavirus. In this case, however, the Indian public health care system has to adapt to emergency situations quickly. The government must remain ready to make politically difficult decisions to re-impose restrictions on mobility and large gatherings. Crucially, India has to continue its sustained public health information campaign to ensure that its citizens are educated on the importance of vaccinations.

Like many other countries, India will inevitably learn from the mistakes and missteps of 2020 and the initial national and international pandemic response.  Though such vectors are often beyond human or governmental control, there are many ways in which future epidemics can be mitigated in the Indian context if these lessons are taken on board. This includes more health security borders at the national and international levels; greater concern for the needs of migratory workers; increased attention to public health investment; more respect for the needs of the medical profession (particularly in rural areas) particularly by the government; and much greater awareness of the economic and social toll that low investment in the public health system (as against other infrastructural projects) can result in.


  1.  The authors do not have any competing interests to declare.
  2. This article has not been submitted elsewhere for publication.
  3. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the views of DKI APCSS, Department of Defense, and the United States Government.
  4. Research for this article was done using open-source materials and research databases.

The authors would like to thank Dr. Deon Canyon for his comments and feedback on the earlier versions of this article.

 The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government. August 2021

 [*] Drs. Srini Sitaraman and Sebastian are professors at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

[2] A study released by Harvard University’s Center for Global Development, put the number of COVID-19 related deaths caused by the second wave in India anywhere between 1 million to 6 million overall, with central estimates varying between 3.4 to 4.9 million. According to the authors of this study, that the death toll from the second wave “is likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the official count of 400,000; they also suggest that the first wave was more lethal than is believed.”

[3] On May 6, 2021, India saw a high of 414,188 cases (Our World in Data).

[4] According to the WHO, the B.167.1 is termed the Kappa variant. (https://www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/).

[5] Seven Day average death rates based on calculations from Our World in Data, 7/27/21.

[6] COVISHIELD vaccine is independently produced in India through a licensing arrangement with the Oxford Astra-Zeneca company and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII). COVAXIN is being developed and manufactured domestically in India by the Barat Biotech Company using a sample of the coronavirus, isolated by India’s National Institute of Virology.

[7] India’s fully vaccinated rate (two doses of COVISHIELD or COVAXIN) is about 6.7%.

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Date: 2021/08/06

Combating Health-Related Cyber Security Threats with Health Systems Approaches

By Drs. Sebastian Kevany and Deon Canyon*

Cyber Attacks on Health Systems

A clear overlap between cyber security and public health realms was made evident during the cyber attacks on Ireland’s health system in May 2021.  Through an encryption process, hackers were able to disable the functionality of the Irish health system, putting lives at risk through the postponement of operations and other essential services.

The challenge faced by the Irish government, and the public health system, was to weigh the trade-offs between paying ransom to the hacking group versus risking the release of protected public health information.  At the time of writing, a legal injunction against the use of the information combined with public anti-ransom statements, has been an effective tool against the hacking group, and the feared loss of private data or contamination of medical records has been avoided.

Nonetheless, there are important global lessons in the Irish experience: firstly, that health systems have to be protected by enhanced cyber security in the same way that banks and other key societal mechanisms do; second, the risks associated with the increased reliance on digital versus paper records; and, third, questions around the degree to which privacy in health information should be idealized, or even routinely maintained, in modern society, remain unanswered.

The Contemporary Cyber Environment

Contemporary cyber insecurity and unregulated internet have been described as the modern Wild West – a domain in which conventional rules and laws, even when they can be applied, are almost impossible to enforce.  The extremes of cyber freedom can be seen all around us – from verbal assaults and racism, to enabling extremist positions on political and social issues, to the ease with which pharmaceuticals, pornography, and other extreme or violent content can be accessed with relative ease by all members of society, regardless of age or educational level.

In turn, this collection of threats to both society and public health presents a range of national and international security challenges.  At the present time, however, it seems highly unlikely that the transnational freedom of expression, trade, and virtual movement that the internet represents will be successfully controlled by any one government or surveillance effort.  In the absence of a national or supranational controlling body, the status quo, therefore, looks set to continue.  Even countries that enforce stricter national internet policies are inevitably exposed at the international level, and circumnavigated by the inherently global and non-conformist nature of cyberspace.

The era of extreme cyber freedom, however, may be drawing to a close in the free world – as it has already drawn to a close in some nations where governments have determined social media to be ‘unhealthy’ for their populations.  The exposure of links between cyber liberty and the growth of extremist and terrorist organizations dates back over a decade to the Arab Spring era, but has only more recently been felt in developed countries is the context of electioneering, Brexit, and most recently the January 6 attacks on the Capitol building.

Many, if not all, of the above issues can, in some way, be classified as global public health threats as well as security threats – for virtually every crisis is accompanied by impacts on health.  There may, therefore, be opportunities for a concerted public health response to cyber extremism as part of a broader national and international response to the issue.

The Unique Cyber-Health Nexus

Health systems are particularly vulnerable to hacking, not least because of the sensitivity, and therefore potential ransom value, of the information they contain.  In 2020, a research organization, Becker Health, revealed that of the hospitals surveyed in the US, 82% had experienced a cybersecurity incident in the past year, and yet healthcare cyber incidents account for only 1.5% of data breaches. However, of note, the average cost per breached data record was $408, which is two to five times the costs in other industries.

Further, Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that 2.2% (655) of all reported incidents and 9.0% (472) of all reported data breaches occurred in the healthcare industry. Also of note, the origin of threat actors behind these attacks has shifted from 2019, when actors were predominantly internal, to 61% external. The motivation behind these attacks has been 91% financial, 5% ‘fun’, 4% espionage and 1% ‘grudge’. Cyberattack sophistication is also increasing, with hackers now able to modify medical records and even imaging scans in addition to stealing them.

There are three main causes of losses of confidential information in the cyber environment: malicious and criminal attacks account for 48% of all data breaches, followed by human error at 27% and system errors at 25%. Cyber incidents in healthcare organizations also have a more pronounced impact on customers who bring class-action lawsuits and are more likely to take their business elsewhere.

In response, there can be significant hardware and software costs to healthcare institutions as they may be required to update to new supported software or replace their entire networks. Some attacks, such as the 2017 WannaCry ransomware sponsored by North Korea, targeted medical devices and health services. Motivations behind state-sponsored attacks likely include market manipulation by targeting large healthcare organizations and the theft of intellectual property.

Far more specific motivations may be the aim behind future cyberattacks. Cyber assassinations are now well in the range of the possible as hackers could cease airflow to a patient or a ward; prevent patients from being moved to urgent surgery by freezing elevators; modifying patient scans to initiate emergency surgery; and altering the function of medical devices that keep patients alive.

During the pandemic environment in 2020, cyberattacks against healthcare-related organizations doubled, 28% of them were tied to ransomware. Phishing attacks were high risk, with tactics including: “exploitation of individuals looking for details on disease tracking, testing, and treatment; the impersonation of medical bodies requesting information, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and offering financial assistance or government stimulus packages in exchange for private information.”

Public Health and Cyber Health Parallels

In both public had cyber realms, much of the nomenclature is the same: viruses, scans, bugs, and many other terms in the cyber security realm have been appropriated from the medical.  In much the same way, cyber threats have much in common with infectious disease threats, often following the same arcs of acceleration and tapering off – in much the same way as epidemics.  Further, the global nature of both cyber and public health considerations is now clear.  There may, therefore, be much to learn from public health’s responses to epidemic infectious diseases and viruses (rather than its approach to non-communicable disease) that may help with the conceptualization of a response to current cyber threats.

A Solution from Within Public Health?

Public health campaigns have a long history of success in responding to public health issues. Whether it is prevention messaging regarding HIV/AIDS, health education regarding STDs, malaria or tuberculosis, or the declarations of primary health care accords such as Alma Ata, the world’s population health has been inestimably improved by the efforts of organizations such as the World Health Organization; the World Bank; UNAIDS; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; and bilateral initiatives such as the United States’ Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Integrating cyber awareness messages into public health campaigns, and vice versa, may thus be a meaningful way of promoting education as to the perils and disinformation that is readily available in cyber space.  For example, policy recommendations might include:

  • Health campaigns for HIV and other infectious diseases could be expanded to include warnings about the risk of disinformation on the internet regarding treatment and prevention efforts. Such indirect approaches may result in both health and cyber awareness gains in many countries, with the public being encouraged, in health as in other realms, not to trust everything they read online.
  • There may also be scope for a more direct level of involvement by the World Health Organization and other UN organizations to combat more general levels of misinformation in cyberspace. This might include a generalized set of policies and messaging campaigns that warn against internet ‘facts’ and ‘fake news’ in the realms of extremism, terrorism, and other realms through their distal or proximal relations to public mental or physical health.
  • The primacy of internet privacy should be reviewed when balanced against the functioning of health systems, ransom requests, and hacking threats. The reality that we trade personal privacy for the many instant benefits of internet use may mean that personal data privacy can no longer be held sacrosanct.  Likewise, a reduced emphasis on data privacy will have significant potential benefits in preventing and containing future epidemics.
  • Many of the apps, organizations and companies that allow for untraceable hacking activities are based in the US and Europe. Some of these, such as the Tor Onion Project, allow hackers to operate with complete freedom and anonymity during their ransom efforts.  Though these apps are framed as ways of allowing fee and anonymous communication by dissident journalists and other noble cases via the internet, they also facilitate many dark web activities such as ransom, hacking, and human and arms trading.  There may, therefore, be a need to review policies that allow for such criminal activities.
  • Leadership perceptions of cybersecurity being an IT problem in healthcare must change as this has rapidly become a patient-care threat that requires an enterprise risk management approach to ensure the presence of adequate security controls.

The control of rampant cyber liberty will take time to achieve, in much the same way as speed limits for automobiles came long after their introduction.  However, with a multi-sector national, supranational, and international response, employing the resources of all relevant organizations, progress can still be made in bringing both a thrilling and dark era of extreme cyber liberty to a close.   As a civilization, we have learned – in recent years in particular – that threats to personal health are taken extremely seriously when presented to us by senior national and international health officials.  There is no reason why the same set of principles should not be applied to the continuing and expanding cyber security threat and its nexus with global health.

*Drs. Kevany and Canyon are professors at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

July 2021

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Date: 2021/07/12

Senior Leaders Wargame Insights into the U.S. – North Korea Nuclear Standoff

By Deon Canyon,1  Jonathan Cham,2  Jim Potenza3


On July 28, 2017, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that experts asserted could threaten the mainland United States (Sanger, et al., 2017). This event triggered major shifts in US-DPRK relations. Within an eleven-month period, the two parties moved from threatening kinetic strikes on the other to participating in an unprecedented meeting between the two heads of state. In retrospect, it is easy to place these events within the broader context of US-DPRK relations. However, for decision-makers facing down that pivotal moment, the future seemed anything but certain. It is within this historic context that the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI-APCSS) ran five iterations of its DPRK Matrix Game for senior leaders.

All decision makers face conditions of imperfect information that limit their capacity for fully rational decisions. Upon recognizing the presence of potentially significant unassessed risk, decision-makers attempt to expand the boundaries of the known-knowns by disclosing sensitive or even confidential information, soliciting group feedback, seeking perspectives from multidisciplinary stakeholders, hiring creative thinkers and directly investigating the unknown (Luft & Ingham 1955). Wargaming often combines all these elements.

Matrix games are a type of wargame that builds deep narratives over a relatively short duration, challenges assumptions with open, transparent discussion, and provides clear guidelines for adjudication (Mouat 2017). Players act as strategists, devising innovative moves that advance their interests, but they also act as third-party analysts as they assess the likelihood of each move’s success. Several game iterations are needed to offer a glimpse into different, possible, divergent futures that may stem from a single point.

Matrix games reinforce existing shared knowledge by rewarding good decisions and punishing bad ones in a safe-to-fail environment. For example, the US Army War College used matrix games in their European Region Study Program (RSP) resident course to “reinforce the key concepts of historical, current, or future potential conflicts” (Chretien and Goepfert 2018). For information that is known to exist, but which is unknown, such as in the cyber domain “where constructive discussion is made very difficult because of the security classifications,” matrix games offer a medium for discussing the outcomes of actions without disclosing sensitive technical and operational details (Ashdown 2018). In instances where a particular decision maker is blind to what they don’t know, the transparent and assumption-challenging mechanics of matrix games makes them very useful. This paper discusses one application of matrix gaming, the DPRK Matrix Game, assesses its use in executive education, and reflects on game outcomes generated by senior leaders.

Game description

The DPRK Matrix Game is an executive decision-making game developed by Tim Price in 2018 that explores crisis management in the context of major power competition. Two iterations of the game were run by DKI-APCSS in the latter half of 2018, following some of the most dramatic developments in US-NK relations in the 21st Century. In April 2017, the Trump Administration unveiled its “maximum pressure and engagement strategy” to deter the DPRK from further nuclear weapons development. The DPRK’s nuclear program continued, and by August, the country allegedly miniaturized a nuclear warhead. U.S. President Donald J. Trump warned the DPRK that further provocations would be met with “fire and fury” (Baker & Choe, 2017). That same month, however, DPRK state media announced plans to launch a test missile near Guam; a threat they reiterated in October.

US-NK relations improved in March 2018 when President Trump announced plans to meet with Chairman Kim Jong Un. That month, Chairman Kim made his first official state visit to meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing. In April, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Chairman Kim for the first time in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Then in June, President Trump met with Chairman Kim in Singapore. Their meeting produced a joint-statement committing to four goals: 1) A new relationship aimed at peace and prosperity; 2) Lasting and stable peace on the Korean Peninsula; 3) Complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and; 4) Recovery and repatriation of POW/MIA remains (White House 2018). At the time the wargames were played, these unresolved issues presented a backdrop for the DPRK Matrix Game.

The DPRK Matrix Game (Price 2018) was updated and modified for use in DKI-APCSS courses by the authors in consultation with Price and labelled as “DPRK 2018 Version 2.” Modifications included the removal of most military hardware pages within player instructions. DPRK 2 was run in DKI-APCSS residential courses on security cooperation attended by senior-level military and civilian security practitioners. Around 45% of the participants were 1-3 star generals and admirals from the military, 45% were civilian directors, diplomats, ambassadors, ministers and secretaries, and 10% were senior police. The two iterations of DPRK 2 run in 2018 each included 13 to 14 participants from around a dozen countries. Three additional games, slightly updated with a few developments in US-DPRK relations, were played in May 2019 with 11-12 participants each.

These courses were scheduled across five days, with the game introduced on Monday, objectives prepared on Tuesday, gameplay on Wednesday, and debriefing on Friday. The aims of the game were to explore this complex transnational security issue, develop collaborative approaches to the problem, and develop and strengthen security sector networks in the process.

Gameplay and adjudication

Prior to attending the game, players representing the United States, DPRK, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Russia were provided with a short informational packet describing their assigned nations and a concise situational brief on current events in the Korean Peninsula.

Player actions occurred over three phases: arguments, counter-arguments, and adjudication. First, a team of players representing an actor proposed an action based on reasonable assumptions and established facts. This included a description of the action, its intended outcome, and 1-to-3 clear reasons for why it was likely to succeed. In phase two, other players offered counter arguments pertaining to the likelihood and outcome of the proposed action. The counter-arguments offered in this phase require players step out of their role and respond in good faith as third-party analysts. In phase three, the facilitator adjudicated on the success of the proposed action and determined the extent to which it manifested and if it generated unintended consequences. When a proposed action occurs, it becomes an established fact and a permanent part of the game narrative, which affects the success or failure of future actions. Players may forgo their turn to conduct a covert action that is adjudicated in private by the facilitator and hidden from the other players until it is used.

Facilitators generally have three methods to adjudicate an action: agreement, consensus, and voting. Some arguments, such as the resumption of Six-Party Talks on Korean denuclearization, can be resolved simply by all necessary parties indicating their willingness to participate by a show of hands. If a consensus is reached by all players on an argument’s failure or success, then that argument immediately fails or becomes an established fact. However, if agreement or consensus is not possible, the facilitator takes the matter to a vote and players indicate their opinion on the likelihood of success using one of five cards (10%, 30%, 50%, 70% and 90%). Again, this is an out-of-role vote that is not biased by team interests. The facilitator states the aggregate likelihood of success based on the mode of responses. The team that initiated the argument rolls percentage dice and their argument succeeds if the result is equal to or lower than the percentage required for success. For example, if the group believes an action has a 90% chance of occurring, then any value between 0 and 90 would indicate a success, while values of 91 to 99 would indicate a failure. Based on the roll’s distance from the mode, the facilitator then determines the extent to which the action manifests and if it generates any unintended consequences.

Players propose their actions with supporting arguments in clockwise order of seating. Each round of arguments is followed by a briefing from the Rapporteur, review by a subject matter expert, and a 10-minute negotiation phase in preparation for the next round. Within three hours of gameplay, players generally complete 5 rounds.

Game staff and facility

When the DPRK Matrix Game is played with up to fifteen players, the game requires a support team of three people: A Facilitator, a Rapporteur, and a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Facilitators are responsible for moderating the discussion, adjudicating arguments, and maintaining the flow of the game. Players occasionally belabor a point when they feel they are losing an argument. Recognizing this, skilled facilitators identify when consensus on an issue has been reached and intervene to progress the discussion.

Rapporteurs are responsible for building a narrative from the game. Throughout each round, they record all arguments made, along with their respective outcomes. Then, at the conclusion of each round, rapporteurs brief the group on their notes. Skilled rapporteurs track multiple threads and developments on arguments across multiple rounds and integrate these developments into their briefings.

Following the Rapporteur’s briefing, the SME reviews the round. SME’s provide an invaluable reality check to actions made in-game and help to legitimize the narrative. They draw links between in-game events and real-world events to highlight how the narrative approaches or diverges from reality. Additionally, SME’s may propose one action of their own to add reasonable consequences to any player’s action.


In these five games, there were 193 Actions (Asks) by players (averaging 39 per game) that generated 136 successful outcomes (Gots) after review (averaging 27 per game and 5 per round). Virtually all moves generated one or more outcomes by increasing or decreasing factors in the sixteen categories listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Total player actions in general categories with expected (Asks) and actual (Gots) outcomes.

Categories of player moves Increase Decrease Total Success %
Total Asks Total Gots Total Asks Total Gots
Investment 22 15 0 4 86
Sanctions 1 1 21 16 77
Relations 22 16 0 4 91
Talks 21 7 0 0 33
Aid 9 7 0 0 78
US Mil 2 4 9 4 73
JPN Mil 2 3 1 0 100
PRC Mil 3 3 0 0 100
Exercises 11 5 2 1 46
DMZ 0 1 4 0 25
Missile test 2 1 4 1 33
Nukes 0 0 14 5 36
Inspections 6 2 0 4 100
THAAD 2 1 1 1 67
Reunification 0 1 1 1 200*
Abductees 2 1 0 5 300*

* During the negotiation process between actors, as well as the adjudication process, some actions were awarded additional outcomes without the recipient making an explicit Ask for that outcome, which pushed the success rate over 100%.

The most popular move was improving relations through economic investments (22 Asks) and other means (22 Asks); closely followed by efforts to decrease sanctions in some form (21 Asks). Efforts to increase economic or political relations were fairly successful, with success rates of 68% and 72% respectively. However, in 8 cases, these factors actually decreased as a result of other moves.

Despite there being ample time for players to engage in negotiations between each game round, the third most popular move was attempting to initiate a talk. This included formal bilateral meetings, multilateral meetings, peace talks, treaty talks, and 6-party talks. Many of these failed immediately when the parties did not agree to participate in the talks and only a third succeeded. In cases where a meeting did take place, the expected outcomes of the meeting were often left unstated, requiring further elicitation by the adjudicator.

Military exercises were the fifth most common move and were perceived as an “easy win.” However, players pushed the bounds of exercises, often making them provocative, which resulted in them failing to happen more often than succeeding. The fifth most common move was offering aid, which had a success rate of 78%. Actions providing aid sometimes failed in instances where new conditions added by one party were rejected by the other.

While there were not many efforts to increase or decrease military presence, they were often successful (73-100%). Of note, changes to the Japanese military were only made in one game and changes to the PRC military were only made in two games.

Overall, moves that focused on sensitive areas, such as borders, the demilitarized zone, missile testing and denuclearization had low success rates (25-36%). One reason for this was that players risked the odds and wasted moves by going for total denuclearization or other endpoints rather than proposing incremental steps, which might have had a higher probability of success. Inspections were, by contrast, totally successful as the DPRK used this concession effectively as a bargaining chip. Similarly, moves to increase or decrease the presence of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile systems within the ROK were marginally successful (67%) because the system was seen as non-essential and a useful bargaining chip. Two out of the five games did not attempt actions that made changes to missile testing or THAAD.

Despite the Japan actors being briefed on the need to reclaim their previously abducted citizens from the DPRK, only one game featured this move. In two other games, the DPRK offered abductees as bargaining chips without being asked. No games featured a move to reunify North and South Korea, but this was gained in one game as a consequence of a related Ask.

In four games, the following subversive and covert actions were attempted.

  • In the event that someone tried to restrict the flow of border goods, two separate secret moves successfully ensured that oil continued to flow from China and Russia into DPRK
  • Russia and PRC requested US permission to join US-led sanctions enforcement regime around the Korean peninsula – intention was to deploy naval assets without suspicion. US accepted and Russia and PRC placed naval assets around Korean peninsula
  • Russia attempted to engage in covert trade with DPRK – move was discovered resulting in damage to diplomatic relations
  • Japan conducted a military exercise with ROK and US to demonstrate ICBM interception in a failed attempt to undermine the DPRK leader using a covert psychological operation
  • PRC gained DPRK approval to deploy submarines around DPRK coast to destabilize ROK ally relationships, which nations found very threatening
  • US successfully partnered with DPRK to turn ICBM sites into satellite launch sites with aim of gaining intel

In three games, the following unusual and novel actions were attempted.

  • DPRK moved one of its nuclear missiles to PRC for disassembly and disposal as a gesture of good faith – move failed as the international community saw the move as tokenistic and without substantive value
  • In two separate moves, the PRC and the US tried asking the UN Security Council to take over the management of the DPRK denuclearization process and offered aid to DPRK as part of the deal – both moves failed
  • Russia offered to buy DPRK ICBMs, which was accepted and resulted in Russia demonstrating its capacity to de-escalate regional tensions resulting in boosts to power and economy
  • US successfully partnered with DPRK to turn ICBM sites into satellite launch sites with aim of gaining intel

Reflections on the Matrix Game Format

By their very nature, matrix games oversimplify complex problems. However, in the process, they highlight the challenges of a problem; provide a platform for experimenting with alternative options, reactions and counter moves; provide insight into motivation; and promote thinking outside the box. The format offers a valuable learning experience that assists players to understand different national perspectives by providing an opportunity to think and understand the intractable nature of the situation. This section will offer some challenges observed in the five matrix games that may benefit future game designers. Insights were drawn from post-game participant reflections, participant surveys, after-action reviews, and observations by game designers during their rotations between games.

In any game, certain players appear stronger than others, either because they are more familiar with the rules, act more strategically, or are more persuasive within negotiations. Within the five matrix games we conducted, strong players held a large influence on action outcomes, which directly impacted their success within the game. This phenomenon was particularly noticeable for roles with relatively less leverage in negotiations, such as the ROK and Russia: Games 1 and 5 – ROK and RU dominated; Games 2 and 4 – ROK dominated and RU lost footing; and Game 3 – RU dominated and ROK lost footing. Dice rolls mitigated this issue somewhat by subjecting even the best laid plans to a level of risk and were an excellent way of getting players to think about the unexpected. Perhaps more important though were the contributions of designated SME’s within the game. The SME reviews that occurred after each move kept the scenario from running away from reality by providing context and adding real world consequences to the game.

Within post-game reflections, participants noted the difficulties of getting results from talks and meetings during action phases when trust was lacking or interests did not align. In such instances, it was important for players to make effective use of the negotiation periods between each move.

Players were acutely aware of the impact of personal biases, real-world experiences and gaming experience on their ability to generate options for game play. However, this was viewed as a reflection of reality, rather than a limitation, because in the field the experience of actors can vary. Further, many in-country diplomatic teams experience changes in personnel that require people to quickly acclimate and build new relationships.

For the five games we conducted, players were randomly assigned to their roles. This format is distinct from analytical wargames, where it is always preferable for participants to play game roles that align with their experience and represent countries with which they are familiar. We found that senior level players adapted to their randomized roles by applying their years of experience in new ways. Moreover, the game narratives flowed well precisely because participants were not experts, felt less inhibited to make bold moves, and were unafraid of running into unforeseen walls. Players commented that they gained new perspective from playing in roles they were unfamiliar with.

Players began the game overly focused on their own team’s interests and many found it difficult to understand the moves made by other actors. To address this, players reached out to find common interest and build relationships through continued communication, understanding and patience. While everyone understood that group dynamics and ‘good faith’ negotiations are developed over years of familiarity and socializing, they observed that the game allowed participants to practice collaboration and explore ‘nice’ options instead of focusing on worst-case scenarios.

Reflections on the DPRK

Over the duration of the game all players grew to appreciate the complexity inherent in Korean peninsula dynamics. Many found the instability of DPRK hard to fathom and even harder to manage because of difficulties in understanding DPRK motivations and rationale, and why tensions remain.

On the nuclear front, most players felt that the DPRK will continue to use nuclear power as a negotiation chip, but will never relinquish it completely. Any action to overtly denuclearize would certainly be accompanied by covert retention of nuclear strike capacity because DPRK standing and relevance is enhanced by its nuclear capacity.

The DPRK economy was seen as a clear priority for the DPRK, as well as a negotiating point for give and take. For this reason, the presence of economic sanctions on the DPRK allowed other nations to pose as benefactors by offering sanctions relief or aid. However, on the most crucial issues like denuclearization, these overtures were rarely successful unless they pertained to the DPRK’s survival. DPRK leadership decisions were mostly driven by a desire for international standing, power, and survival.

Diplomatic engagements were often undermined by a lack of trust and clarity. Actions with seemingly good intent, such as humanitarian interventions, were often used as a façade to violate sanctions. Progress between North and South Korea was largely restrained due to a lack of trust. The clarity achieved in negotiations by most parties did not carry over into subsequent actions. Major alliances that evolved in the games came together naturally between DPRK, China and Russia, and between Japan, ROK and the United States. In general, it was hard to discern what a player could influence, but the strong alliance between Japan, ROK and the United States clearly hampered PRC overtures to ‘lead’ the region.

Because Russia’s objectives within the game did not require a specific resolution for the Korean nuclear issue, they had the most strategic flexibility. As such, their actions tended to be less clearly interpreted by other players and often perceived as exploitative of the situation.

Reflections beyond the DPRK situation

Three factors emerged as fundamental to any international crisis situation: complexity, motivation, and trust. Participants recognized that policy-makers need to be informed by a greater understanding of the complexity of the whole region that goes beyond official national interests and includes public interests that can strongly influence government behavior.

Although all players had a good level of awareness of the national postures and strategies of each of the six actor nations, they acknowledged that the perspectives and motivations of each actor were unclear, which added to situational complexity.

Simple moves often generated many unintended consequences that threw decision-makers into a reactive mode. National actions rapidly became global despite efforts to deescalate. In this context, when separated from their real-life advisors, senior leaders commented that they felt isolated while making critical decisions alone within the game.

Players recognized that momentum (snowballing) was extremely important in dialogue and was the key to making progress on difficult and complex issues. It was thus essential to maintain trust to keep momentum.

Adding to complexity was motivation. Participants found that their plans failed when their predictions of what other nations would do were inaccurate. Most players found it very difficult to understand individual actor motivations, and certain discrepancies from their expectations were blamed on the country’s internal politics.

Players found that cooperation became extremely difficult when nations had different or even incompatible desired end-states with regard to motivations, priorities, and perspectives. Therefore, they recognized the importance of taking the time to look through the eyes of others. International cooperation was viewed as one vehicle that could assist in understanding national perspectives.

The development of trust in relationships was viewed as the key to cooperation and success, but the details were murky. It was not clear who to trust, which stakeholders were influencing trust, and how to create trust. Leaders agreed that in-group trust within one’s coalition was essential because it paved the way for external trust.

Important negotiations and deals were made in side meetings, but not all backdoor deals were honored in practice. Personal character was raised as an important consideration. All parties recognized the need to resolve trust issues before problems materialized. Effective preparedness required that leaders take advantage of any opportunity to open dialogue and build trust.


The benefits of competitive gray-zone gaming extend far beyond engaging course and workshop participants or delivering custom learning outcomes. They are a proven method for amplifying “plurality, diversity and multiple perspectives, which are essential for understanding and steering through post-normal conditions” (Sardar 2015). Futurists have embraced games and simulations that permit free and creative-thinking because they “embody some of the core tenets and long-standing practices of futures: systemic, yet playful inquiry; engaged and collaborative curiosity; and anticipatory action learning through experiential approaches” (Sweeney 2017). Through the participatory and transdisciplinary engagement found in wargames, players gain insight into possible futures and open pathways to futures they prefer (Inayatullah 2008).

These DPRK Matrix games were successful in getting participants to think about complex future issues as they struggled to coordinate and lead in an unpredictable environment. The shifting relationships and vacillating allegiances significantly impacted everyone’s ability to achieve their pre-stated strategic objectives as they reactively constructed their own immersive and shared narrative on what the future might hold for the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK Matrix Game provided players with a memorable learning experience that illuminated one of the most consequential ongoing crises in the Indo-Pacific. Through active role-play, players familiarized themselves with the goals and interests of the region’s major stakeholder nations; took advantage of a safe space to innovate and test out new strategies while receiving constant feedback from other players, as well as subject matter experts; and left with a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges on the Korean Peninsula.


Ashdown N. Matrix games provide additional tool for analysis. Jane’s Intelligence Review, 2018.

Baker P, Choe S. Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S. New York Times, 2017.

Canyon D, Cham J, Potenza J. In-stride adjudication during transnational security cooperation wargames, pp. 135-148. In: In-stride adjudication, (eds) Robinson M, Downes-Martin S. PAXsims.wordpress.com, 2018.

Chretien J, Goepfert A. Matrix games for student learning at the US Army War College. PAXsims, 2018.

Inayatullah S. Six pillars: futures thinking for transforming. Foresight 2008;10(1):4–21.

Luft J, Ingham H. The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness. UCLA, Proceedings of the western training laboratory in group development. Los Angeles, CA 1955

Mouat T. Practical advice on matrix games. Version 6.5, 2017.

Price T. DPRK. Version 2, 2018.

Sanger D, et al. North Korea Tests a Ballistic Missile That Experts Say Could Hit California. New York Times, 2017.

Sardar Z. (2015). Postnormal times revisited. Futures. 2015;67. 10.1016/j.futures.2015.02.003.

Sweeney JA. Game on: foresight at play with the United Nations. Journal of Futures Studies, December 2017;22(2):27–40.

The White House. Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit. Sentosa Island, Singapore, 2018.

 1 Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu
2 RAND Corporation, Santa Monica
3 East-West Center, Honolulu

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, the RAND Corporation, the East-West Center, the Department of Defense, or the US Government.
June 2021

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Date: 2021/06/22

China’s Manipulative Use of Climate Change

By Deon Canyon *

In 2014, following a climate deal between the United States and China, President Obama announced his aim to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and President Xi Jinping of China reiterated the Paris Agreement commitment by saying that Chinese carbon dioxide emissions would peak by 2030 or earlier. China’s stance was that the impacts of climate change “pose a huge challenge to the survival and development of the human race” and that China is “one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse impacts of climate change.” By 2016 the results were positive, with China cutting the use of coal by 3.7% and reducing emissions by 1 to 2%. This was attributed to slower growth due to a shift from industrialization to service industries and the use of less carbon-intensive technology.

China has got away with being the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter since 2006 by claiming that it is only fair to view pollution by per capita quantities. Using this flawed logic, Palau, a tiny Pacific Island nation, would rank as a higher offender. The initial positive decreases and claims that China would shortly become a global leader in grassroots green technology took it off the climate change radar.

This clever framing was so effective that China began to be viewed as a global leader on climate change because of these goals and its leadership in solar power and electric car sales. However, 3 short years later, China’s greenhouse gas emissions exceeded the emissions of all developed nations combined. The difference is so marked that the same is almost true even when making a per capita comparison.

Although China made great advances in renewable energy, its drive to industrialize and surpass the U.S. and European Union economically placed its climate and sustainability agenda firmly in the propaganda bin. Even as the world has progressively reduced its reliance on coal for energy, China has taken advantage of the lower demand for coal by increasing its reliance on coal. Half of all global coal development and a quarter of all new coal projects throughout the world are financed by China. At the same time, China has used its manufacturing capacity and failures of governance in western nations to dominate the renewable energy market, basically reaping all the economic rewards that stem from other nations leaving coal behind.

China pledged its desire in 2020 to increase emission reductions to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. However, the lack of details left some with the distinct impression that these targets would not be attained. In 2021, President Xi Jinping continued to spin China as a global leader beating its climate change targets, reporting a 48% reduction in “carbon intensity” compared to 2005 and a 15.3% non-fossil energy consumption rate. From 2021 to 2025, he announced, China plans to control and curb its coal consumption. Latest 2020 results from the Rhodium Group on China’s greenhouse gas emissions show that this is simply not true. While China narrowly met its Copenhagen Accord goals of reducing carbon intensity, it actually increased emissions by 40% since the Accord in 2009! The Paris Agreement is in danger of failing because it basically allows China to “emit with abandon until at least 2030” despite China agreeing to reduce 2030 emissions by 60-65%.

China has always believed that it should be allowed to pollute without restraint until it reaches the same state of development as other western nations. Now that China’s economy has surpassed western nations, it could be expected that it would show some restraint and rapidly curb its emissions. However, now that the new U.S. administration seeks more cooperation in climate change with China, a recent commentator said, “China might say there’s a climate crisis in a non-binding joint statement with the United States, but its real goal is to become the world’s dominant power”. Put bluntly, China has ambitions of expansion that override any reduction in pollution, so why should we believe them again?

China’s economic climate strategy runs deep and has taken advantage of legitimate climate concerns and changes in policies and practices in other nations. Rather than seeking ways to reign China into a sensible global climate agreement, the U.S. and other developed nations should recognize the fact that China is behaving as a rogue state in its use of irregular warfare tactics. Political agreements are only tools for manipulation to nations such as China, with such a strong Machiavellian attitude.

As usual, in their effort to do the right thing, U.S. policymakers are being taken advantage of and are far behind when it comes to counter-Goldilocks Power actions. As China targets U.S. defense, energy, and finance sectors and seeks control of essential materials used related technologies, the priority should be to proactively identify ways to mitigate China’s economic climate engine.

*Dr. Canyon is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government. March 2021

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Date: 2021/05/18

Goldilocks Power and the Reform of Irregular Warfare in a Changing World

By Deon Canyon *

The Irregular Warfare (IW) Annex to the 2020 National Defense Strategy defines irregular warfare as “a struggle among state and non-state actors to influence populations and affect legitimacy.” Irregular warfare is called Hybrid Warfare by NATO, New Generation Warfare by Russia, and Unrestricted Warfare by China. All of these terms place an emphasis on influencing populations, primarily using non-military means below the level of conventional war. Although irregular warfare encompasses a range of activities traditionally dominated by special operations forces, such as counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency, foreign internal defense and stability operations, this revised definition broadens the concept to include non-violent struggle by any actor. Irregular warfare is thus an integral component of strategic competition below the threshold of war, and demands a whole-of-government approach or even a whole-of-society approach.

The term remains controversial because “warfare” refers specifically to conflict and violence. Viewed through the lens of power, irregular warfare contains elements of aggressive, coercive, hard military power and elements of soft power, which works by attracting and co-opting, often through diplomatic means. However, IW has too strong an association with gray zone activities to be considered a midway point between those descriptors.

The term gray zone often includes “hybrid threats, sharp power, political warfare, malign influence, irregular warfare, and modern deterrence.” As such, gray izone activities are a component of IW. IW is multi-dimensional, has many potential stakeholders, and employs any viable methodology to “influence populations and affect legitimacy.” It allows for the use of any type of power. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism Joe Francescon said, “… we’re mixing the full range of our capabilities in creative, dynamic and unorthodox ways.”

Thus, the idea behind irregular, new generation and unrestricted warfare has more to do with the right entity applying just the right pressure of the right type, at the right spot, and the right time to influence the right people and affect the legitimacy or posture of a government or non-state actor. In other words, it’s not expressly about conflict (warfare); it’s about Goldilocks Power and the ability to identify the right approach to achieve a desired outcome, whether it is white, black or gray.

Intent and Approach

Goldilocks Power encompasses the idea of political warfare, which falls well below hard power, but is engaged when soft power fails to achieve desired objectives. Diplomatic efforts by any state department are essentially manifestations of political power that are designed to influence populations and affect legitimacy. As the U.S. Department of Defense says, “Ultimately, IW is a political struggle with violent and non-violent components … for control or influence over, and the support of, a relevant population.” The following strategies of subversion, indicate the intentions, and to a certain extent, motivations behind irregular attacks.

  • Foreign infiltration – E.g., embedding nationals in another nation in influential positions,
  • Penetration and infiltration – E.g., of governing bodies of international organizations
  • Subversion and defection – E.g., maintaining a benign, but corrupting diplomatic presence, or providing scholarships to indoctrinate the future leaders of developing nations
  • Forced disintegration – E.g., supporting radicals to atrophy an existing government
  • Use and misuse of information in support of all the above

Some classic irregular warfare methods and approaches used to achieve these intentions include:

  • Insurgency
  • Counterinsurgency (COIN)
  • Unconventional warfare (UW)
  • Terrorism
  • Counterterrorism (CT)
  • Foreign internal defense (FID)
  • Stabilization, security, transition, and reconstruction operations (SSTRO)
  • Strategic communications
  • Psychological operations (PSYOP)
  • Information operations (IO)
  • Civil-military operations (CMO)
  • Intelligence and counterintelligence activities
  • Transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms dealing, and illegal financial transactions, that support or sustain IW
  • Law enforcement activities focused on countering irregular adversaries

Goldilocks Power also includes the following ways that China has been particularly active, although not always effective. As China seeks to attain its First Island Chain, these practices will naturally expand to undermining U.S. alliances and partnerships, and pushing U.S. military presence further back.

  • Influencing and disrupting international regimes – E.g., UN, WTO, WHO
  • Shifting international norms on freedom, human rights, and democracy
  • Replacing democratic principles with authoritarian ones
  • Reducing the voice of strategic competitors and the U.S.
  • Co-opting existing international organizations to influence global policies and rule-based order – E.g., WTO, IMF, WB, WHO, UN, ICAO
  • Creating new international organizations with a beneficent appearance – e.g., AIIB, NDB
  • Building self-centric platforms for international cooperation – e.g., Belt-and-Road
  • Extending a helping hand that entraps assisted nations in debt
  • Restricting water flow into other nations in exchange for political compromises

Bill Moore, lead strategist and campaign planner for Special Operations Command, Pacific, offered these general approaches to countering Goldilocks Power:

  • Supporting diplomatic and other initiatives to dominate the information narrative
  • Aligning security cooperation efforts to support a range of economic levers
  • Developing discrete options that counter malign activities above and below armed conflict
  • Deter military aggression by supporting partners and friends to develop creative options
  • Gain and maintain supremacy in the information and intelligence domain

Informational Morass

The global information crisis, behaving much like the Covid pandemic, is perhaps at the forefront of irregular activities. Digital viruses infect our technology systems and information viruses infect and influence our populations. Initially, the internet was seen as a tool against oppression for it offered transparency and made information available to previously isolated and uninformed populations. In the beginning, governments used censoring to block this information flow but quickly realized that not all information is bad. Governments and corporations began to selectively filter and thus manipulate available content to influence their populations and markets. As the power of increasingly sophisticated internal and transboundary actions and their ability to shape narratives during significant geopolitical moments became more apparent, some entities took this further by turning up the volume on certain desired information in a process called flooding. Flooding suppresses facts by crowding out independent voices or expertise and can be exacerbated by using armies of trolls and programs that automatically generate posts. Positive results encouraged more overt subversion of social media and co-opting it to enhance the stability of corporations, and both autocratic and democratic regimes.

As governments seek more control over their populations and methods to combat informational Goldilocks Power exerted by competing nations, they focus more energy and resources on these methods. The intent behind these actions range from mild, such as distorting the facts of a particular case, or serious, such as damaging an agency, reducing stability in a nation, and exploiting social, political, or economic vulnerabilities. The internet has become more than a threat; it has become a potent Machiavellian tool for consolidating and legitimizing leaders. In the process, the gap between authoritarian and democratic regimes has become blurred and the truth has become more difficult to ascertain.

Economic Considerations

The US IW Annex to the National Defense Strategy says, “Irregular warfare is an enduring, economical contribution to America’s national security.” Under the irregular warfare umbrella, nations or non-state entities employ legal and illegal economic strategies to improve their own economy and/or negatively impact the economy of a competitor. Damage to opponent resources causes ripple effects that ultimately reduce opponent ability to conduct further operations.

Because most transactions are conducted online, open or covert aggressive economic actions typically take place in cyber and information operations before, during and after actual conflicts. Some of the methods used to enact economic power include “blockade, blacklisting, preclusive purchasing, rewards and the capturing or the control of enemy assets or supply lines.” Further actions, such as tariffs, sanctions, aid reduction, asset freezing, limiting capital flows, ceasing investment, and expropriation may be employed to manipulate the economy by a state actor or other entity.

Military Limitations

It has been said that “population-centric conflicts cannot be fought with military concepts and doctrine designed for the physics of conventional war and instead require approaches that blend anthropology, economics, history, and sociology.” A heavy military focus remains evident in the U.S. 2007 Irregular Warfare, Joint Operation Concept document, in which Figure 3 on page 15 shows relationships between Irregular warfare, major combat operations (MCO), and stabilization, security, transition, and reconstruction operations (SSTR). All IW activities except enabling SSTR, are categorized as “conflict” and there is little recognition that IW may involve a wide array of non-conflict activities.

Unfortunately, “there has never been a deliberate, widely accepted process to codify the lessons from the United States’ misadventures with irregular warfare and to describe how we ought to organize ourselves and how we ought to plan for this form of warfare.” Even until 2020, the officers responsible for irregular warfare in the U.S. military were not provided with the education they required to be effective in this new front, and the U.S. remains far behind the curve in Goldilocks Power compared to China and Russia. In 2021, it was cogently argued that U.S. military culture “diametrically opposes divergent thought”, which means that the turn-around will take longer than hoped.

In 2021, calls came from many areas to improve U.S. Goldilocks Power. Some have called for a more coherent understanding of the concept. Others have called for the focus on counter-terrorism to be expanded to include irregular warfare. Positive steps have been taken with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office in the Pentagon being transformed into the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate, calls for Special Forces to focus on CT as well as on irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, and support for political warfare, and recommending a role for Civil Affairs.

Moving Forward

Global disinformation has changed the face of international strategic competition and must be woven into any future effort on irregular warfare preparedness. It is time for piece-meal actions to cease and for a concerted effort to bring together a cohesive approach to tackle non-traditional geopolitical threats. The personnel and resources assigned to handling irregular warfare simply cannot cope with recent dramatic and massive increases in the global practice of deceit.

In 2019, a report outlined the depth of the global disinformation crisis. Seventy nations used social media to manipulate public opinion and 45 democracies manipulated the media to increase voter support. Authoritarian nations suppressed public opinion and flooded out political dissent. China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela all used social media platforms to conduct foreign influence operations. Corporations are exacerbating the problem by offering computational services to support these activities.

The sooner national security agencies and militaries realize that irregular warfare is much more than conflict, the sooner they will be able to reorganize and deal with the problem in a systemic and systematic, whole-of-government or even whole-of-society manner. As each side in the global struggle for geopolitical and economic ascendance ups the ante, nations are unfortunately being pushed towards Machiavellian thinking to maintain sovereignty. Goldilocks Power is ever-present and all-encompassing. It is not phase zero or “left-of-bang.” It is recognizing latent opportunity in a challenging situation and employing any and every tool necessary to bring about a satisfactory conclusion. It needs to be fluid and flexible enough to respond to acute issues requiring rapid responses, but deliberate and forward-looking to appropriately counter slow-burning, creeping crises with slow, long-term persistent engagement and pressure.

Another comment by Francescon that IW does “not require significant new resources to adapt to great power competition” minimizes the issue and detracts from the attention and resources it requires to be effective. Leaving this incredibly broad and multidisciplinary endeavor in the hands of the military can only limit performance and effectiveness. We need to create a new interdisciplinary center that brings together a group of strategists and policymakers from different sectors with a deep appreciation of Goldilocks Power and the options it can offer to ensure security dominion in the geopolitical sphere. It cannot be a separate isolated unit. It must be systemically interconnected to all other relevant agencies and play an integral role in all Goldilocks endeavors.

Goldilocks Power is bigger than the Special Operations Forces, bigger than defense, and bigger than the USA. Leaving the military to carry this burden and failing to recognize and respond to all facets of this rapidly growing multidimensional threat will render the military a “Papa Bear” relegated forever to sitting on a hard chair, eating porridge that is too hot and sleeping on an uncomfortable bed.

* Dr. Canyon is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government. May 2021

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Date: 2021/05/14

Rebalance U.S. Coast Guard Cutters to Help Advance a ‘Free and Open’ Indo-Pacific

By Lt. Cmdr. Mike Moyseowicz, U.S. Coast Guard*

Keywords: Maritime law enforcement, homeport, Oceania, IUU fishing, maritime domain awareness

We are recommitting to a shared vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, resilient, and inclusive.”[1] U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of the Quad nations, March 13, 2021.

For the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to best contribute toward a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, it needs to shift major cutter resources to the Pacific to meet the mission demands of the future. Currently, the USCG homeports only 33% of its major cutters in the Pacific, with the remaining fleet of cutters in the Atlantic, which severely restricts the USCG’s ability to effectively operate across the diverse mission demands in the vast Pacific Ocean. On any given day, USCG cutters will conduct counter-narcotic patrols in the Eastern Pacific, protect against Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) encroachment in the Bering Sea, and use bilateral fisheries law enforcement agreements with Pacific Island Nations to promote Theater Security Cooperation and protect critical resources. Furthermore, USCG cutters are increasingly used in the Western Pacific to preserve a rules-based international order at sea. Now is the time for the USCG, while in the midst of the largest cutter recapitalization project in the fleet’s history, to reexamine its major cutter force structure in the Indo-Pacific region so that it may better provide the sufficient means to achieve the desired strategic ends.

Coast Guard Presence in the Pacific: The Tyranny of Distance

The area of responsibility for the USCG’s Pacific Area encompasses over 74 million square miles of ocean.[2] Despite its massive responsibilities, there are currently only 10 white-hulled, medium or major cutters homeported in the Pacific whose primary mission set is maritime law enforcement (compared to the 27 homeported in the Atlantic). While smaller patrol craft such as Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) are stationed throughout the Pacific, major cutters such as National Security Cutters (NSCs) and the forthcoming Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs) are most capable of transiting the long distances to conduct the numerous missions occurring far from the shores of the United States.

The USCG is constructing a new fleet of FRCs, OPCs and NSCs to replace its aging legacy cutters (See Table 1 for a comparison in capabilities). Upon completion, the USCG’s major cutter fleet will consist of 11 NSCs and 25 OPCs.[3] If the past force laydown allocation remains the same, only 12 or so of those major cutters will be homeported in the Pacific.

Table 1: Recapitalized fleet of USCG cutters

Type Lenght (feet) Range (nautical miles) Endurance (days)
Fast Response Cutter (FRC)[4] 154’ 2,500 5
Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)[5] 360’ 10,200 60
National Security Cutter (NSC)[6] 418’ 12,000 60-90

The imbalance of cutter homeports, coupled with the vast distances in the region, strains Pacific-based cutters and limits operational effectiveness. To be sure, a significant portion of USCG presence in the Eastern Pacific, one of the Service’s primary operating areas, is provided by Atlantic-based cutters because their transits to that region are actually shorter than their Pacific-based counterparts. This geographic anomaly notwithstanding, Pacific distances make it impracticable and inefficient for Atlantic-based cutters to operate much further west than that. This leaves the 10 Pacific-based cutters responsible to not only patrol the Eastern Pacific, but also the Bering Sea, Oceania, and Western Pacific areas of ever-increasing mission demand.[7]

The USCG has only two NSCs homeported in Hawaii. The rest of the Service’s major cutters in the Pacific are based in Alaska or the west coast of the United States. With increasing calls for USCG engagement with like-minded partners in Southeast Asia and throughout the Indo-Pacific,[8] the constraints of the tyranny of distance in the Pacific cannot be ignored. An NSC out of California has to travel nearly 6,000 miles just to reach Guam. Whether enforcing United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea[9] or conducting at-sea maritime security exercises with the Indian Coast Guard,[10] major cutters are stretching longer and farther to meet mission demands. At the tactical level, the weeks a USCG cutter spends transiting to operating theaters amounts to weeks lost in operations. At the strategic level, those long transits prohibit the ability to project sustained presence. The lack of presence equates to a lack of influence.

IUU Fishing and Oceania

In the Service’s newly-released Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Strategic Outlook, the Commandant of the USCG highlighted that IUU fishing has “replaced piracy as the leading maritime global security threat.” [11] IUU fishing results in “tens of billions of dollars of lost revenue to legal fishers every year”[12] and serves as the gateway to more nefarious transnational crime, including slavery, human and drug trafficking, and resource exploitation.[13]

Oceania was recently reported as “the most vulnerable” region in the world for IUU fishing.[14] This is a security concern for the United States. Composed of thousands of sparsely-populated islands surrounded by a vast ocean, Oceania, including the Hawaiian Islands, is home to 43% of the United States’ EEZ (1.3 million square miles).[15] Furthermore, the region includes the massive EEZs of the Compact of Free Association states (the Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau), whose defense the United States is responsible for. Home to China’s second and third island chains, Oceania hosts the critical sea lines of communication that connect the United States to the Indo-Pacific region.

Despite the United States’ sizable territorial interests and the unambiguous prioritization of the Indo-Pacific, Oceania has become the United States’ strategic blind-spot. As the United States’ maritime law enforcement agency, the USCG can mitigate the gap and best contribute to sustaining a “free and open” Indo-Pacific by combatting IUU fishing in Oceania. Doing so keeps the USCG operating within its primary homeland security missions, will protect marine resources and preserve regional stability. The USCG’s modest footprint of cutters in the Pacific, however, constrains its ability to do so.

Fast Response Cutters

The USCG is increasing its presence in Oceania through the homeporting of FRCs. These FRCs, three in Hawaii and three in Guam, are already playing an outsized role in the region. In December 2020, shortly after arrival to its new homeport, a Guam-based FRC helped apprehend a Chinese vessel illegally fishing within Palau’s EEZ.[16]

Despite improved capabilities, the FRC is still a relatively small patrol craft not originally designed for long-range missions. Recent proof of concept patrols in the region, however, highlight creative ways for the FRC to successfully operate well-beyond its designed range and endurance parameters. In October 2020, an FRC completed a 45-day patrol between Hawaii and Guam that included over 9,300 miles transited.[17] The year before, a Hawaii-based FRC transited to Samoa alongside a USCG buoy tender (which transferred provisions and fuel to the FRC to extend its time at sea).[18]

The operational successes of FRCs prompted a White House announcement in October 2020 about exploring homeporting FRCs in American Samoa.[19] FRCs in American Samoa would certainly increase USCG presence in the region. But to put it in perspective, a fleet of FRCs based out of Guam, Hawaii, and American Samoa is akin, distance-wise, to placing FRCs in Seattle, Miami, and Iceland. Instead of the continental United States between those three locations, it is mostly open ocean between Guam, Hawaii, and American Samoa, with no other USCG assets in between. The waters separating the three homeports are a significant gap for any cutters, let alone FRCs. While proof of concept patrols are encouraging, since the geography of Oceania requires FRCs to routinely operate well beyond typical operating parameters, it lends to concern over the extent to which such expeditionary patrols are sustainable.

Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

FRCs in Oceania also face the challenge of real-time MDA. Without a flight deck to house aviation assets or unmanned aerial systems to enhance tactical MDA, FRCs are limited in their effectiveness. In Oceania, where there are few aviation assets, FRCs are left searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack while trying to locate small fishing vessels.

Recognizing the importance of MDA in tracking difficult-to-detect fishing vessels, a 2019 Report to Congress on “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing: Pilot Program,” highlighted ongoing efforts of using unmanned aerial systems to “maximize the effectiveness of Coast Guard operations” in combatting IUU fishing.[20] After equipping NSCs with unmanned aerial systems, the cutters significantly improved their effectiveness in counter-narcotic operations.[21] In countering IUU fishing in Oceania, the value in aerial assets is significant.

Major Cutter Capabilities

Multiple interactions with overseas partners caused the USCG’s Commandant to call for the Service to “expand our permanent presence and effectiveness in the region through expeditionary capability.”[22] The USCG should use major cutters to expand its permanent presence in Oceania. By doing so, the USCG will greatly expand its operational capabilities.

Longer Reach
The USCG has bilateral fisheries law enforcement agreements with 11 Pacific Island Nations.[23] These agreements allow USCG vessels to embark host-nation shipriders. During at-sea boardings, the shipriders serve as the lead law enforcement agent while supported by USCG law enforcement teams. Such agreements greatly enhance the ability of nations with limited enforcement assets to conduct maritime law enforcement within their waters. With the shortage of major cutters in the Pacific, the USCG does not have the available surface assets to routinely put these agreements to good use. While FRCs are limited by their endurance and range, major cutters are equipped to reach the disparate EEZs spread across the Pacific. Major cutter presence could increase the frequency these bilateral shiprider agreements are used. Persistent law enforcement presence would help detect and deter IUU fishing and help ensure the sustainability of migratory fish stocks vital to Pacific countries.

Additionally, many of the U.S.’ strongest allies and partners have a major stake in the region. With its enhanced capabilities and extended endurance, a major USCG cutter is the ideal asset to operate with partners. In 2020, an NSC became the first surface asset to participate in an annual Pacific Quadrilateral Defense Coordination Group, consisting of the United States, Australia, France, and New Zealand.[24] The next year, that same cutter conducted operations with the Japan Coast Guard and Royal Australian Navy.[25]

Enhancing MDA for Partners
Major cutters can greatly improve MDA. In early 2021, during its patrol throughout Oceania, an NSC used its unmanned aerial system to collect observation reports and then share them with the Forum Fisheries Agency Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center in the Solomon Islands.[26] In 2020, Australia announced the development of the Pacific Fusion Centre in Vanuatu,[27] and France’s Defense Strategy in the Indo-Pacific calls on enhancing MDA in the region.[28] Major cutters working with regional surveillance centers to promote joint information-sharing will enhance MDA among allies and partners, and ensure the rules-based order is upheld in the maritime domain.

Force Multiplier
The optimal laydown of USCG assets in the region is a mix of major cutters and smaller patrol craft. A major cutter working in conjunction with other smaller patrol craft(s) is a force multiplier. When operating with smaller craft, the major cutter can use its enhanced command and control suite to serve as a “mother ship” and direct intelligence-driven operations. With its shipboard aviation and unmanned aerial systems, major cutters receive real-time MDA, and can use it to direct the smaller patrol craft to targets of interest. Partnering a major cutter with a smaller patrol craft is not limited to USCG vessels. Australia’s robust Pacific Maritime Security Program delivers patrol boats in the region.[29] Japan has similar efforts, recently delivering a patrol craft to Palau.[30] Using a major cutter to partner with other patrol craft can significantly expand the scope and effectiveness of joint maritime operations.

The USCG has limited resources and ever-increasing mission demands. The Service does not have the resources to maintain ubiquitous presence across the Pacific. The following will help the USCG optimize resources in the Pacific:

OPC in Guam
The USCG should seriously consider homeporting an OPC in Guam. Even if the overall force laydown of major cutters still favors Atlantic-based cutters, basing an OPC in Guam is the most effective way to spread USCG assets and maintain a permanent presence across the Pacific. Major cutters will optimize mission effectiveness as they can partner with the smaller patrol craft already in the region. Strategic basing in Guam will optimize the placement of major USCG assets, and thus give operational planners greater flexibility when allocating and apportioning resources across the vast distances of the Pacific.

Additional homeporting in Hawaii
The USCG currently only plans for 11 NSCs. In the fiscal year 2020 budget, however, Congress provided $100.5 million for procurement materials in order “to preserve the option of procuring a 12th NSC while the Coast Guard evaluates its future needs.” [32] If a 12th NSC is funded, it should be homeported in Hawaii. If a 12th National Security is not funded, Hawaii should still be considered as a homeport location for OPCs. A west-coast-based cutter transits 2,000 nautical miles just to reach Hawaii. With existing shoreside facilities and engineering teams to support the two NSCs already homeported there, Hawaii serves as an optimal “starting-point” for major cutters in the Pacific.

FRCs in the Atlantic, major cutters to the Pacific
Proof of concept patrols using FRCs from Hawaii and Guam successfully pushed the boundaries of the vessel’s operating parameters. FRCs, however, are mostly concentrated in the Atlantic (of the 42 in commission, only 12 are based in the Pacific). If the Service plans to use FRCs in a more expeditionary role, it should do so with the Atlantic-based ones (a notable exception being not using them for Northern Atlantic winter patrols, due to weather constraints). An FRC patrolling the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Eastern Pacific, or the eastern seaboard of the United States typically operates significantly closer to ports and aviation assets than an FRC operating in the remoteness of Oceania. With 19 FRCs in Miami, Key West, and Puerto Rico alone, using Atlantic-based FRCs in a more expeditionary role could free up the Atlantic-based larger cutters and allow some to shift to the Pacific, where the vast distances require longer-legged cutters to effectively operate.

Other surface assets
The USCG should continue using its buoy tenders in an expeditionary role. Typically focused on the maintenance of maritime aids to navigation, these multi-mission cutters have the endurance, range, and storage capacity to operate at sea for extended periods. Buoy tenders already routinely interact downrange with partner nations in Oceania and should continue to do so. The USCG can also continue exploring proof of concept patrols by pairing buoy tenders with other USCG surface assets (large and small) to enhance mission effectiveness.

Additionally, amidst calls for a 500-ship U.S. Navy (USN),[33] the services should continue and even grow the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI). OMSI optimizes resource allocation: when USN assets transit through Oceania to reach their operating theater, they embark USCG law enforcement detachment teams and host-nation shipriders to conduct at-sea boardings under the USCG’s bilateral shiprider agreements. Optimizing the use of transit periods of USN assets allows for expanded maritime law enforcement and MDA efforts without pulling resources from USN missions.

A holistic approach
Lastly, other USCG capabilities can tremendously bolster mission effectiveness. Aviation assets are critical to USCG missions and face similar constraints by the vastness of the Pacific. Whether as a permanent presence or rotationally-based, aviation assets in Guam or elsewhere in Oceania would enhance the ability of the USCG to conduct multi-mission operations. Furthermore, continued coordination with the Department of Defense (DoD) to use reconnaissance gathered from Maritime Patrol Aircraft can help mitigate gaps in MDA.

USCG Deployable Specialized Forces units conduct a range of missions to enhance maritime security and provide an additional expeditionary capability that is interoperable with the DoD and the interagency. The USCG’s robust intelligence enterprise can integrate with partner nation fusion and surveillance centers to improve information sharing and intelligence networks to drive operations. USCG mobile training teams provide training worldwide, while the USCG Training Center Yorktown provides international courses designed for building partner-nation capacity. Finally, as the USCG increases its number of attaches, liaisons, and maritime advisors in the Pacific, these officers will build partnerships for expanded international operations.


In a resource-constrained environment, the USCG will continue to be challenged by the demand for USCG assets exceeding the available supply. But by better strategic placement of those major assets, the Service can position itself to better meet the growing mission demands in the vital Indo-Pacific region. The time to evaluate this is now, while homeport decisions for the new cutters are still being made. Homeporting major cutters in Guam and/or Hawaii will increase the permanent presence of the USCG in a region with a substantial portion of the United States’ EEZ, and give operational planners the most flexibility for apportionment of cutters to conduct missions spread across the vast waters of the Pacific.

The priority of a “free and open” Indo-Pacific is not fleeting. Given the global trends and geostrategic environment, the USCG will continue to be called upon to help achieve this strategic end for the foreseeable future. If the logistics to rebalance cutter homeporting and provide more major cutters to the Pacific are not worked out today, the USCG will be limited in its ability to contribute to a “free and open” Indo-Pacific tomorrow.

*Lt. Cmdr. Moyseowicz is a military professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government. May 2021

[1] Biden, Joe; Modi, Narendra; Morrison, Scott; and Suga, Yoshihide. “Opinion: Our Four Nations are Committed to a Free, Open, Secure, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/13/biden-modi-morrison-suga-quad-nations-indo-pacific/. The Washington Post. March 13, 2021.

[2] United States Coast Guard Pacific Area. https://www.pacificarea.uscg.mil/. Retrieved May 1, 2021.

[3] O’Rourke, Ronald. “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.” https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42567/135. Congressional Research Service. March 31, 2021.

[4] U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate: Fast Response Cutter. https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Acquisitions-CG-9/Programs/Surface-Programs/Fast-Response-Cutters/. Retrieved April 29, 2021.

[5] U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate: Offshore Patrol Cutter. https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Acquisitions-CG-9/Programs/Surface-Programs/Offshore-Patrol-Cutter/. Retrieved April 29, 2021.

[6] U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate: National Security Cutter. https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Acquisitions-CG-9/Programs/Surface-Programs/National-Security-Cutter/. Retrieved April 29, 2021.

[7] Doornbos, Caitlin. “As One Cutter Departs, Another Deploys to Maintain Coast Guard Presence in Western Pacific”. https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/as-one-cutter-departs-another-deploys-to-maintain-coast-guard-presence-in-western-pacific-1.585949. Stars and Stripes. June 14, 2019.

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[9] Fuentes, Gidget. “Cutter Bertholf’s Indo-Pac Deployment Highlighted Coast Guard’s National Security Role”. https://news.usni.org/2019/07/24/cutter-bertholfs-indo-pac-deployment-highlighted-coast-guards-national-security-role. U.S. Naval Institute. July 24, 2019.

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[12] United States Coast Guard. “Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Strategic Outlook. https://www.uscg.mil/Portals/0/Images/iuu/IUU_Strategic_Outlook_2020_FINAL.pdf. September 2020.

[13] “Fighting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing”. https://www.interpol.int/en/News-and-Events/News/2020/Fighting-illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-fishing. INTERPOL. December 7, 2020.

[14] “The Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Index”. https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IUU-Fishing-Index-Report-web-version.pdf. The Global Initiative Against Organized Crime. January 2019.

[15] Collins, Craig. “Coast Guard District 14 – Securing the Vast Pacific”. https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/coast-guard-district-14-%E2%80%93-securing-the-vast-pacific/. Defense Media Network. January 9, 2012.

[16] “Palau and USCG Bust Chinese Vessel for Illegal Fishing”. https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/palau-and-uscg-bust-chinese-vessel-for-illegal-fishing. The Maritime Executive. December 24, 2020.

[17] “Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry Returns to Homeport After a 6 Week Patrol in Pacific”. https://www.dvidshub.net/news/382145/coast-guard-cutter-oliver-berry-returns-homeport-after-6-week-patrol-pacific. Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. October 30, 2020.

[18] Mahadzir, Dzirhan. “U.S. Coast Guard Mulling More Operations in Oceania”. https://news.usni.org/2019/10/22/u-s-coast-guard-mulling-more-operations-in-oceania. U.S. Naval Institute News. October 22, 2019.

[19] “Statement from National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien”. https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/statement-national-security-advisor-robert-c-obrien-102320/. The White House Archives. October 23, 2020.

[20] “Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing: Pilot Program”. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/uscg_-_illegal_unreported_and_unregulated_fishing_-_pilot_program.pdf. Department of Homeland Security. December 6, 2019.

[21] Jarocki, Andrew C. “With 11 Tons of Seized Drugs, US Coast Guard Asks for More ScanEagle Drones”. https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2018/06/08/with-11-tons-of-seized-drugs-us-coast-guard-asks-for-more-scaneagle-drones/. Defense News. June 8, 2018.

[22] “Telephonic Press Briefing with Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant, United States Coast Guard”. https://2017-2021.state.gov/telephonic-press-briefing-with-admiral-karl-l-schultz-commandant-united-states-coast-guard/index.html. U.S. Department of State. October 21, 2019.

[23] Wright, Warren. “Shiprider Program”. https://ipdefenseforum.com/2020/01/shiprider-program/. Indo-Pacific Defense Forum. January 27, 2020.

[24] West, Matthew. “Coast Guard Cutter Returns to Hawaii After Completing Mult-Country Operation Targeting Illegal Fishing in the South Pacific Ocean”. https://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2350324/coast-guard-cutter-returns-to-hawaii-after-completing-multi-country-operation-t/. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. September 16, 2020.

[25] “Coast Guard Cutter Kimball Returns Home From Expeditionary Patrol in the Pacific”. https://coastguardnews.com/coast-guard-cutter-kimball-returns-home-from-expeditionary-patrol-in-the-pacific/2021/04/09/. Coast Guard News. April 9, 2021.

[26] “Coast Guard Cutter Kimball Returns Home From Expeditionary Patrol in the Pacific”. https://coastguardnews.com/coast-guard-cutter-kimball-returns-home-from-expeditionary-patrol-in-the-pacific/2021/04/09/. Coast Guard News. April 9, 2021.

[27] “Australia to Set Up Pacific Islands Security Centre in Vanuatu”. https://www.reuters.com/article/australia-pacific-security-int/australia-to-set-up-pacific-islands-security-centre-in-vanuatu-idUSKBN2740CO. Reuters. October 18, 2020.

[28] “France’s Defence Strategy in the Indo-Pacific”. https://apcss.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/France-Defence_Strategy_in_the_Indo-Pacific_2019.pdf. Ministere Des Armees, Republic of France. 2019.

[29] “Pacific Maritime Security Program”. https://www1.defence.gov.au/programs-initiatives/pacific-engagement/maritime-capability. Department of Defence, Australian Government. Retrieved May 5, 2021.

[30] Tsuyoshi, Nojima. “Japan Patrol Vessel Donation to Help Palau Counter Maritime Threats”. https://www.nippon.com/en/features/c04802/. Nippon. March 23, 2018.

[31] “Commandant’s Planning Guidance: 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps”. https://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Portals/142/Docs/%2038th%20Commandant%27s%20Planning%20Guidance_2019.pdf?ver=2019-07-16-200152-700. Headquarters Marine Corps. 2019.

[32] O’Rourke, Ronald. “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.” https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42567/135. Congressional Research Service. March 31, 2021.

[33] Eckstein, Megan. “SECDEF Esper Calls for 500-Ship Fleet by 2045, With 3 SSNs a Year and Light Carriers Supplementing CVNs”. https://news.usni.org/2020/10/06/secdef-esper-calls-for-500-ship-fleet-by-2045-with-3-ssns-a-year-and-light-carriers-supplementing-cvns. U.S. Naval Institute News. October 6, 2020.

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Date: 2021/05/13
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