Checkmate: Art of the Possible Moves

With an $816 billion annual budget, the Pentagon has been in a perpetual love affair with the art of the possible concerning national security priorities for a long time. This includes past efforts undertaken in cooperation with eccentric billionaires like Howard Hughes to steal a sunken soviet submarine [Project Azorian], conducting over-the-horizon drone strikes on high value targets like Iran’s Qassim Suleimani, commander of the Quds, and using stealth aircraft with precision guided munitions to destroy an adversary’s entire command and control in one shot (F-117 Nighthawk in Operation Desert Storm). 

The defense department budget plays a crucial role in allowing the military to engage in the art of the possible with new weapons and tactics. The budget provides the funds necessary for research and development, as well as procurement and testing of new technologies, along with creative and rapid acquisition through organizations like the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). This allows the military to explore new and innovative ideas by applying rapidly advancing technology like AI/Deep Learning, Autonomy, Quantum & Block Chain.  

Overall, the defense department budget enables the military to provide the resources and support needed to develop, test, and field new weapons and tactics. This allows the military to remain agile and adaptive in the face of changing threats, and to stay ahead of potential adversaries. 

Checkmate: Ocean Tech 

Poseidon, also known as the Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System, is a military nuclear underwater drone developed by Russia. The drone, which is also referred to as a “doomsday weapon”, is designed to be launched from a submarine and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The drone is able to travel at high speeds and depths, making it difficult to detect and intercept. 

The primary role of the Poseidon drone is to create a radioactive tsunami or radioactive fallout, which would cause significant damage to the coastal areas of an enemy country. The drone is also equipped with the ability to target enemy naval bases and port cities, making it a formidable weapon in Russia’s arsenal. 

One of the key features of the Poseidon drone is its ability to evade detection by traditional anti-submarine warfare systems. This is accomplished through the drone’s ability to travel at high speeds and depths, as well as by using advanced stealth technology. Additionally, the drone’s nuclear propulsion system makes it virtually undetectable by anti-submarine sensors, enabling the drone to evade detection and reach its target. 

Poseidon is considered a game-changer in the field of military technology, as it creates a new way for military forces to conduct nuclear warfare. Its potential for massive destructive power and its ability to evade detection makes it a powerful and ominous weapon in the eyes of the international community. 

The use of drone swarms and unmanned systems is likely to create new options and moves for countries on the battlefield. These technologies could allow countries to be more agile and flexible in their operations, as well as giving them the ability to project power and influence in new ways. Weaponized technology can create new strategic options for nation states and change the balance of power between them. It can also lead to an arms race, as other countries will feel the need to develop similar technology to keep up with adversaries. 

Checkmate: Putin outmaneuvers Biden in the Arctic  

As climate change opens up new shipping lanes and access to resources in the Arctic, Putin has taken advantage of a distracted Biden administration to solidify Russia’s presence in the region. By building new military bases and infrastructure, Putin has effectively checkmated Biden and taken control of the strategically important region. 

The opening of Arctic sea lanes refers to the fact that climate change is causing the polar ice cap to melt, which is creating new shipping routes through the Arctic Ocean. These new routes are shorter than the traditional routes through the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, which means that ships can save time and money by using them. 

As Russia and China work together in their Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to control these new shipping routes, it could potentially checkmate other countries’ access to shipping to Europe. This is because Russia and China would have a strategic advantage in terms of access to the Arctic, and they could potentially charge other countries fees to use the new shipping routes or deny them access altogether. 

By controlling the Arctic shipping routes, Russia and China would also have more leverage in terms of global trade, as they would be able to control the flow of goods to and from Europe. This could give them a significant advantage over other countries and allow them to exert more influence on the global stage. 

The Biden administration has indicated that it will focus on partnering with other countries to develop a global infrastructure and investment strategy that can counteract China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative is a massive infrastructure program led by China that aims to connect Asia, Europe, and Africa through a network of roads, railways, and ports. The initiative has been criticized for lacking transparency and for potentially leaving participating countries with unsustainable debt. 

To counter this, the Biden Administration has enacted a plan to create a coalition of developed and developing nations that would together invest in infrastructure projects that promote transparency, and fair economic practices, as well as to provide alternative options to the BRI. This coalition could also be aimed to finance and construct projects that would reduce the economic and political leverage of China and develop better connectivity and integration within the region. This strategy would involve working closely with allies and partners, such as the EU, Japan, and India, to develop and finance infrastructure projects that promote sustainable development and good governance. 

This strategy of partnering with other countries could enable the United States and its allies to provide alternative options to countries that may be considering participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, and give them the ability to participate in infrastructure projects that are more transparent and economically sustainable, that also align with their national interest. 

Checkmate: Stolen Trade Craft & Trade Secrets 

China has been stealing military trade craft, trade secrets, and intellectual property (IP) from other countries in order to advance its own military capabilities and economic interests at a rate never before seen in human history. This type of economic espionage has been described as a significant threat to national security and the global economy. 

China steals military trade craft and trade secrets through cyber espionage and social engineering. Chinese state-sponsored hacking groups have targeted government agencies, defense contractors, and research institutions to steal sensitive information related to military technology and trade secrets. Additionally, Chinese companies have been known to use a range of techniques such as cybertheft, espionage, and hacking to steal commercial information and intellectual property from foreign firms. 

Another way is through forced technology transfer, where foreign companies that operate in China are often required to transfer their technology and intellectual property as a condition of doing business in the country. Also, through the use of state-owned enterprises, investment, and acquisition strategies, the Chinese Government are known to acquire advanced technologies and intellectual property, allowing the state-owned enterprises to access and build on foreign innovations, rather than having to develop them independently. 

The Chinese Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark (left) based on the Russian Sukhoi Su-33 (right) 

These activities by the Chinese government and companies not only undermines the competitive position of foreign firms, but also puts at risk critical national security assets and the economic welfare of the countries involved. 

Checkmate: Dis-information Advantage 

Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have been known to conduct disinformation and misinformation campaigns in order to influence public opinion and sow discord among foreign nations, including the United States and its allies. These campaigns often involve the use of social media, bots, and other tactics to spread false information and propaganda to influence public opinion and government policies. 

The consequences of this kind of campaigns for the US and its allies can be severe and far-reaching. Misinformation campaigns can create division and mistrust among the population, undermine democratic processes and institutions, and interfere with elections and political decision-making. They can also be used to obscure facts in order to support Russia’s interests and foreign policies, especially in matters related to the geopolitical scenario. Furthermore, it can also potentially put people’s lives in danger by spreading false information on issues like public health and security, leading to misinformation and mistrust among the population. 

“The United States and its and allies and partners now face the most complex array of security challenges since the Cold War”

Former Director of the CIA and Retired Four Star General David Petraeus 

Therefore, the US and its allies have been working to counter these disinformation campaigns by increasing information sharing, developing new technologies and techniques to detect and remove false information, and raising public awareness of the issue. They also have been working together to improve the resilience of their societies against disinformation and strengthen the ability of their media and citizens to detect and resist such campaigns.


Wheel of Increasing Risks

Rapidly advancing exponential technology and geopolitical shifts are creating new options and strategies for nation-states to address security and economic challenges, as well as new ways to exert influence and power. Technological developments are also creating new military options, as well as new domains in which countries can compete or cooperate. 

Changes in the global balance of power such as shifting alliances, the rise of new powers and the emergence of new domains of competition, have also created new moves for military leaders. The intersection of these two trends has resulted in a complex and rapidly changing strategic environment in which countries must partner, adapt and respond quickly to stay competitive. 

A changing world order and complex multi-polar world has also led to more non-traditional nefarious actors and forms of security challenges, demanding more flexibility, adaptation and innovation in solutions that deliver the right war-wining capability when and where needed.


{1}  Tashji, David E., Cover Image, Checkmate; Art of the Possible Moves in an Exponential World, January 08, 2023

{2} Carter, Ashton, Stanford University, Defense Innovation Unit (DIUx), August 2015

{3} US Navy Photograph, Operation Crossroads, July 1946

{4} Wikimedia Creative Commons, Vladimir Putin at the plenary session of the International Arctic Forum, April 9, 2019

{5} Petraeus, General David, Former Director of the CIA and Retired Four Star General, November 14, 2022

{6} Tashji, David E., Wheel of Increasing Risks, January 04, 2023

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