Weekly Wrap-up 27 OCT

Happy Friday! Thanks for checking out Bull-It Points…be sure to send your tips, criticism or compliments to chris@bullitpoints.com let us know what you like or how we can get better. –Chris Servello

Posting Saturday morning, BULL-It Points Podcast Ep4. Timed with the conclusion of Cyber Security Awareness Month, this week’s guest is Mr Joe Gradisher, a retired Navy Captain and current member of the Navy’s N2N6 Strategic Engagements Office. In a phone conversation with BULL-It Points, Joe discusses cyber security…the threat…what can be done to protect yourself and your organization…as well as what the Navy is doing to protect itself against potential competitors.

Now onto this week’s wrap-up…

Key Points:

Russia is pushing to control cyberspace. We should all be worried.

  • The Kremlin’s proposed convention would enhance the ability of Russia and other authoritarian nations to control communication within their countries, and to gain access to communications in other countries, according to several leading U.S. cyber experts.
  • They described the latest draft as part of Moscow’s push over the past decade to shape the legal architecture of what Russian strategists like to call the “information space.”

China Congress: No heir apparent as Xi reveals top leadership

  • The omission cements Mr Xi’s grip on leadership for the next five years, a day after his name and his teachings were written into the constitution. But it raises questions over whether Mr Xi, 64, intends to rule beyond 2022.
  • Mr Xi’s two predecessors have followed the orderly pattern of succession. But since he came to power in 2012, he has shown his readiness to write his own rules.

Time for the US to Stop Losing Ground to China in the South China Sea

  • But the real problem is that there are fundamental differences between China and the United States in interpretation of the relevant international law.
  • Indeed, the U.S.-China struggle for control of the SCS is symptomatic of a much deeper clash of values, national interests, and perceived destinies.
  • So each considers it their right and destiny to dominate and shape the international order to fit their needs.

Find the Root Causes First

  • Ship operations are a complex business, especially at times of heightened alert, elevated operating tempo, and crowded shipping lanes. Understanding the essence of the problem the Navy is trying to solve may not be as easy as it seems. Acting too quickly can create the façade of a solution that can dampen the will, and the necessary curiosity, to dig deeper.

Neither Congress nor the Pentagon have a path to a 355-ship Navy

  • Aside from the congressional hurdles that must be overcome, Trump’s naval buildup aspirations must overcome a seeming lack of coherent vision of what a bigger Navy means or how it’s going to be paid for.
  • Navy leaders have even seemed to put the brakes on their own stated goal of a 355-ship fleet. The new secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, agrees the Navy needs to aim for 355 ships, but wants to understand what kind of ships and technologies the Navy will need in the future before putting lots of money toward the move.

How Democrats and Republicans in Congress communicate differently

  • There’s a general perception on the Hill that when it comes to communications styles, Republicans typically start with the message, while Democrats start with the policy — which carries through to their communications styles.
  • Overall, Pew Research Center found that last year, Republican members were much more likely to post more Facebook messages over press releases than Democrats.

The fake news about fake news

  • Fake news perpetrators have a lot of financial incentives to create fake news that has nothing to do with politics: Any content that caters to emotions is more likely to be engaged with, and thus is easier to monetize from an advertising perspective. BuzzFeed’s recent piece about overseas content farms making money off fake content is a good example.


National Security

Boiling point: McCain frustrations with Mattis, McMaster go public

(Defense News, 22 Oct 17…By: Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — Simmering tension between Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and the Trump administration’s national security team over information sharing, the defense budget and Pentagon appointments boiled into public view last week. Link

Russia is pushing to control cyberspace. We should all be worried.

(Washington Post, 24 Oct 17…By David Ignatius) Russia’s cyber-meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been accompanied by what U.S. and European experts describe as a worrisome Kremlin campaign to rewrite the rules for global cyberspace. Link

Trump’s Nov visit can be his defining moment in Asia

(The Straits Times, 23 Oct 17…By Patrick M. Cronin) US leader’s historic Asian trip will have an enduring impact, but he must confront three harsh realities. Link

China congress: No heir apparent as Xi reveals top leadership

(BBC, 25 Oct 17) China has revealed its new senior leadership committee, breaking with tradition by not including a clear successor to President Xi Jinping. Link

Time for the US to Stop Losing Ground to China in the South China Sea

(The Diplomat, 24 Oct 17…By Tuan Pham) Beijing has reportedly unveiled a new legal tactic to promote, assert, and advance its maritime claims in the SCS. The latest lawfare approach involves shifting away from the so-called (and universally not recognized) “nine-dash line (NDL)” claim to a narrower “Four shas (4S)” (Chinese for four sands) claim that more tightly connects the four contested island groups of Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and Macclesfield Bank.  Link


Fleet and Marine Tracker: Oct. 23, 2017

(USNI, 23 Oct 17)

fleet tracker oct 23 1 1


A Russian Ghost Submarine, Its U.S. Pursuers and a Deadly New Cold War

(Wall Street Journal, 20 Oct 17…By Julian E. Barnes) The Krasnodar, a Russian attack submarine, left the coast of Libya in late May, headed east across the Mediterranean, then slipped undersea, quiet as a mouse. Then, it fired a volley of cruise missiles into Syria. Link

Is the U.S. Navy Weak? The Chinese Seem to Think So.

(The National Interest, 23 Oct 17…By Lyle J. Goldstein)  Chinese military commentators have shared their thoughts on recent U.S. Naval accidents and what they think it means for the larger geopolitical struggle in the Asia-Pacific. Link

The PLA’s Navy Plan for Dominance

(CIMSEC, 24 Oct 17…By Richard D. Fisher, Jr.) Potential modernization plans or ambitions of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) were revealed in unprecedented detail by a former PLAN Rear Admiral in a university lecture, perhaps within the last 2-3 years. Link

Find the Root Causes First

(Proceedings Magazine Oct 17…By Rear Admiral Terry McKnight, U.S. Navy (Retired) and David Silverstein) Four alarming incidents among four ships of the 7th Fleet this year—the collisions of the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), Fitzgerald (DDG-62), and Lake Champlain (CG-57), and the grounding of the Antietam (CG-54)—have triggered understandable and appropriate investigations and calls for prompt action. All of this “prompt action” is designed to solve the problem and restore safe operations within (and presumably beyond) the 7th Fleet. The question it begs is, “What problem are we solving?” Link

Neither Congress nor the Pentagon have a path to a 355-ship Navy

(Defense News, 23 Oct 17…By: David B. Larter) WASHINGTON — The great Navy buildup promised by U.S. President Donald Trump during his campaign is so far all talk and no action, and with progress on Capitol Hill stalled on almost all fronts, the Defense Department seems more likely to eat another round of sequester cuts than cut steel for a bunch of extra ships. Link


How Democrats and Republicans in Congress communicate differently

(Axios, 26 Oct 17…By Sara Fischer) Republicans go straight for the emotional responses of social media like Facebook, while Democrats prefer the more polished press releases. But they do have things in common — like mentioning bipartisanship on social media, even though it rarely actually happens. Link

19 Tips to Immediately Improve Your Writing (Infographic)

(Entrepreneur, 21 Oct 17…By  Emily Conklin) Communication is key when it comes to success in any field, but especially as an aspiring entrepreneur. Getting an idea up and running requires clear and concise writing skills, whether you’re composing emails or creating presentations. Check out the Instructional Solutions infographic linked below to learn how to polish your writing skills today. Link


The fake news about fake news

(Axios, 24 Oct 17) The hype around Russia’s involvement in the elections and fake news is complicated, so here are some truths around the topic: Link

1 crazy thing: 42% of American kids under 8 have tablets

(Axios, 24 Oct 17) A whopping 42% of children ages 0-8 have their own tablet device, up from less than 1% in 2011, according to Common Sense Media’s newest national “Media Use by Kids” census: Link


The Necessity of Questioning the Military

(The Atlantic, 22 Oct 17…By Loren DeJonge Schulman) Honoring the sacrifice of servicemembers requires understanding why they were put at risk, and demanding that those who did so hold themselves to account. Link

The Right Way to Honor the Troops

(Foreign Policy, 25 Oct 17…By Micah Zenko) By instructing the American people in how to properly honor the U.S. military — specifically, by avoiding critique of military policy — the Donald Trump White House has intensified the long-standing bipartisan practice of politicizing the service of U.S. troops. This would be unhealthy in any deliberative democracy. It’s especially so in one like ours, where the military plays such an outsized role in politics and social life. Link

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