Taiwan Set To Cooperate with Turkey on Cost-Effective Drone Technology

Albatross 9733 Display at Gangshan Air Force Base.

Albatross 9733 Display at Gangshan Air Force Base.

“Ukraine has demonstrated [drones’] effectiveness in asymmetric warfare…  It is a lesson that has not been lost on Taiwan.”

Appearing to take note of Ukraine’s success in using Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 drones, Taiwan is considering the value of small and cost-effective drones to protect its own territory in the face of a Chinese attack.[i] The accompanying passages report on Taiwanese drone producers’ efforts to develop indigenous, cost-effective drones, and a recent agreement between Taiwanese and Turkish drone researchers to cooperate and exchange information on doing so. In contrast to numerous countries that are purchasing the Bayraktar TB-2 drones from Turkey, Taiwan wants to develop indigenous drones of its own, based on the lessons learned from the use of TB-2s in different conflicts.[ii] Perhaps the most notable lesson for Taiwan from the war in Ukraine is the ability to achieve overmatch by deploying large numbers of small, cost-effective drones.[iii]

As the first accompanying article from Taiwan’s national news agency Focus Taiwan reports, Taiwan’s domestic drone producers are working on several small and cheap drones, including the Albatross II, which is effectively a Taiwanese TB-2 with a longer range of 250 km. There is also the Flyingfish drone, which reportedly costs less than $3,000, making it cost effective to deploy in large numbers in urban or naval warfare. The passage quotes the drone’s developer as saying, “When the enemy approaches [Taiwan’s] coastal waters, the Flyingfish drones will prove to be a formidable weapon for asymmetric combat, because they are so easy to use and can be used in great numbers.”

The second excerpted article, from Turkey’s oldest secular newspaper, Cumhuriyet, discusses a recent agreement between Turkish and Taiwanese institutions that conduct research and development on drone technology. It reports that Gebze Technical University, which conducts research on drone technology, and Turkey’s Fly BVLOS Technology, which conducts drone pilot trainings and produces world-class drones, participated in the “Taiwan-Turkey UAV Technology Forum” held in Chiayi, Taiwan in August. Chiayi is home to Taiwan’s new, state-run drone research and development center. The two Turkish institutions signed an agreement with Taiwan Formosa University, which conducts academic research in drone technology, to encourage and strengthen academic-technical exchange and cooperation in the field of UAV technology. 


Sean Lin, “Asymmetrical warfare focus has Taiwan drone companies upping the ante,” Focus Taiwan (Taiwan’s national news agency), 10 September 2022. https://focustaiwan.tw/sci-tech/202209100016

Ukraine has demonstrated [drones’] effectiveness in asymmetric warfare as it blunts the advances of more numerous Russian forces, deploying Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones and Switchblade suicide drones donated by the U.S. to attack targets and gain intelligence. It is a lesson that has not been lost on Taiwan, itself threatened by a larger neighbor and committed to a defense strategy centered on asymmetrical warfare.

At the inauguration of a state-run drone research and development (R&D) center in Chiayi County last month, President Tsai Ing-wen pledged to support drone research to strengthen the country’s asymmetric combat capabilities. But it is domestic drone producers, eager to upgrade the first-generation of domestically made drones Taiwan currently possesses, that could offer the quickest shot in the arm to Taiwan’s defenses.

JC Tech President Robert Cheng said his company now has built and tested prototypes of a suicide drone called the Flyingfish… Costing less than US$3,000, the Flyingfish 200 has a much lower price point than cruise missiles or other combat drones, making it cost effective to deploy in large numbers in urban or naval warfare, he said… “When the enemy approaches [Taiwan’s] coastal waters, the Flyingfish drones will prove to be a formidable weapon for asymmetric combat, because they are so easy to use and can be used in great numbers,” Cheng said.

Meanwhile, aviation company GEOSAT, which began developing drones in 2008, has been collaborating with the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) — Taiwan’s state-run weapons developer and manufacturer — on the Albatross II drone… The GEOSAT CEO believed that the Albatross II, which is compatible with locally developed Sky Sword air-to-air missiles and 2.75-inch rockets, could outperform the Bayraktar TB2 drones, which gained fame for sinking the Russian cruiser Moskva in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Su Tzu-yun, an analyst at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said… suicide drones… can be used to great effect when targeting smaller PLA ships during amphibious warfare, and military drones can be used in place of radar stations should the latter be destroyed to keep command centers informed of what is happening on the front lines of combat… Su agreed with Cheng on the power and importance of numbers… The combination of different drones will “allow Taiwan to amass a sizable arsenal of precision strike munitions to counter the PLA’s numerical advantage, greatly leveraging the efficacy of Taiwan’s armed forces in defending the nation,” Su said.

“Türkiye ile Tayvan arasında İHA iş birliği (Drone Cooperation between Turkey and Taiwan),” Cumhuriyet (the oldest secular Turkish daily newspaper), 11 August 2022. https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/dunya/turkiye-ile-tayvan-arasinda-iha-is-birligi-1968257

Gebze Technical University, which conducts research on drone technology and Fly BVLOS Technology [which conducts UAV pilot trainings and produces world-class UAVs]… participated in the “Taiwan-Turkey UAV Technology Forum” held in Chiayi, Taiwan, [and] signed an agreement with Taiwan Formosa University to encourage and strengthen academic-technical exchange and cooperation in the field of UAV technology.  With the agreement, Fly BVLOS Technology became a partner of UAV Technology Center, headquartered in Taiwan and working in the field of UAV technology.  [The sides] will carry out R&D activities together… especially for products such as motors, chips and batteries. In addition, all stakeholders will share their expertise and experience in the field of UAV technologies.  While Gabze Technical University and Fly BVLOS transfer their experience in UAV production to Taiwan, they will also benefit from the work of Taiwan Formasa University, an important technology manufacturer, and its partner UAV Technology Center.

Fly BVLOS Founder Kamil Demirkapu said: “Turkey… has come to an important place in the world with the breakthroughs it has made in various fields from R&D to production. As everyone knows very well, some of the best UAVs in the world are produced by Turkish engineers. Gabze Technical University, together with the logistics and aviation sectors of the future, will change the entire commercial life. … With this agreement, the experience of Taiwan Formosa University, which has carried out valuable academic studies in the field of UAV technology, will also join these two very strong partners from Turkey. With this cooperation, we aim to contribute both to our country’s R&D and production activities in the field of UAVs and to make Turkey’s expertise and experience more visible in the international community by signing important research and innovations in the sector.”


[i] See: Karen Kaya, “Turkish-Made Bayraktar TB2 Drones Play Important Role in Ukraine,” OE Watch, Issue 6, 2022.

[ii] See: Karen Kaya, “Turkey as a Drone Superpower: A Case Study of a Mid-Size Power Driving the Operational Environment,” Foreign Military Studies Office, September 2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/fmso-monographs/421179

[iii] See: “Turkey and the TB-2: A Rising Drone Superpower with Karen Kaya,” Army Mad Scientist Convergence Podcast, September 2022. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/65-turkey-and-the-tb-2-a-rising-drone/id1495100075?i=1000579565167

Image Information:

Image: Albatross 9733 Display at Gangshan Air Force Base
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NCSIST_Albatross_9733_Display_at_Gangshan_Air_Force_Base_Apron_20170812a.jpg
Attribution: Public Domain

Taiwan Testing Satellite Program To Overcome Communications Vulnerabilities

“Taiwan’s network vulnerabilities are very real.”

Over the next two years, Taiwan plans to test a satellite program to ensure its command systems continue to operate should the country lose connectivity through its conventional links. As shown in the first article, according to the Singapore-based Straits Times, in September Taiwan Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang announced the launch of a telecommunication network resilience plan. The article explains that international internet traffic currently relies heavily on fiber optic cables lining the ocean floor. There are 15 submarine data cables connecting Taiwan with the rest of the world. Taiwan would be cut off from the Internet should these cables be cut. According to the article, experts warn that Taiwan’s network vulnerabilities are very real.

As demonstrated in the second article from Chinese state-owned multi-language news source Xinhua, in President Xi Jinping’s speech kicking off the 20th National Congress in mid-October, Xi asserted that the Taiwan question remains an important matter for the China. He asserted that while China would continue to strive for peaceful reunification, it will not rule out the use of force. Such a message, it appears, could put even more urgency in Taiwan’s plans to improve its communications vulnerabilities.


Yip Wai Yee, “Taiwan Plans for Ukraine-Style Back-Up Satellite Internet Network Amid Risk of War,” The Straits Times (Singapore-based daily),22 September 2022. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/taiwan-plans-for-ukraine-style-back-up-satellite-internet-network-amid-risk-of-war

Over the next two years, (Taiwan) is set to trial a N[ew] T[aiwan]$550 million (US$24.67 million) satellite programme that aims to keep Taiwan’s command systems running if conventional connections get cut, Ms. Tang (Taiwan’s minister of Digital Affairs) said. Several Taiwan companies are now in discussions with international satellite service providers, she added, without providing details.

Currently, international Internet traffic is mostly carried through fibre-optic cables lining the ocean floor. Taiwan is connected to the world via 15 submarine data cables. “The Internet used in Taiwan relies heavily on undersea cables, so if (attackers) cut off all the cables, they would cut off all of the Internet there,” Dr Lennon Chang, a cyber-security researcher at Monash University, told The Straits Times. “It makes sense for the government to have alternative forms of communication ready for emergency situations,” he added.

Already, some analysts say that concerns over Taiwan’s network vulnerabilities are very real.

“(CPC Congress) CPC to Unswervingly Advance Cause of National Reunification: Xi,” Xinhua (Chinese state-owned multi-language news source), 16 October 2022. https://english.news.cn/20221016/29113f9cbf3247978534dd1f4aee299e/c.html

Xi Jinping said… the Communist Party of China (CPC) will implement its overall policy for resolving the Taiwan question in the new era, and unswervingly advance the cause of national reunification. “Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese, a matter that must be resolved by the Chinese,” said Xi at the opening session of the 20th CPC National Congress.

“We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary…

Xi said that the wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification…

Provincial Exercises Highlight China’s Whole-of-Government Preparations for Conflict

Emblem of the Chinese People’s Civil Air Defense.

Emblem of the Chinese People’s Civil Air Defense.

“The boundaries between front and rear in modern warfare are blurred, and ground targets are vulnerable to air strikes. We must pay attention to protection and rescue work,”

As described in the excerpted article from official government source China National Defense News, a recent exercise in Shandong Province sheds light on Chinese efforts to ensure that all parts of the government can support combat operations in the event of conflict. Chinese municipalities prepare not only for natural disasters such as floods, typhoons, and earthquakes, but also for large-scale military conflict. To this end, many cities host large, and often intra-regional or inter-city emergency exercises.[i] China has civil air defense offices in most cities, which are intended to act as direct support to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In the exercise described here, associated units practiced providing emergency rescue services and putting out fires from enemy air raids. With support from an expert repair team, the training also tested rapid road repair, quickly restoring a road’s ability to handle heavy wheeled and tracked vehicles.

The exercise was primarily focused on three phases: preparations made before air attacks, including using camouflage and moving critical facilities into underground spaces; how to respond during an air raid, such as using obscurants and aerial barriers (balloons or wires to interfere with low-flying aircraft); and post-strike operations, which involves repairs and emergency response. The exercise also highlighted how newer technologies, such as quadcopters, are being adapted in practical ways to support operations. Accompanying images in the article showed quadcopter drones being used to deliver medical supplies. The report indicated that these drones could carry 10kg (22 pounds) over 10km (6.2 miles). UAVs are regarded as an optimal delivery system as they would not be limited by traffic in a dense urban environment during a crisis.

The article also highlights the fact that cities are also making agreements with local companies to ensure that the latter’s resources can be quickly brought into support in a crisis, following the PLA’s lead in working with China’s major technological and logistic companies under the rubric of the “Military-Civil Fusion Strategy.”[ii] Taken collectively, these efforts likely mean that China will be able to mobilize effectively if a crisis were to strike, and that many aspects of Chinese society may show resiliency during a conflict.


Wang Dongliang [王栋梁] and Chen Maoxin [陈毛欣], “既支援前线,又防护后方——“鲁中支援-2022”国民经济动员保障演练剪影 (Not only supporting the front line but also protecting the rear – ‘Luzhong Support-2022’ outline of a national economic mobilization support exercise),” China National Defense News (official Chinese government publication on defense matters), 14 October 2022. http://www.mod.gov.cn/power/2022-10/14/content_4923396.htm

Recently, the ‘Central-Shandong Support-2022’ National Economic Mobilization Support Exercise was held in Zibo City, in Shandong Province.[i] Breaking with previous exercises, this not only involved support to front-line units but also added new content involving support to areas behind the battle line.

In recent years the city has worked with large-scale enterprises to establish a number of national economic mobilization centers. Combined with statistical analysis of (the cities’ base potential to support) national defense mobilization, it is necessary to determine the potential of each mobilization center, how many are necessary, how many personnel are required, and how to operate in a given situation, laying a solid foundation for rapid and precise mobilization.

“The boundaries between front and rear in modern warfare are blurred, and ground targets are vulnerable to air strikes. We must pay attention to protection and rescue work,” explained Fang Shijun [房施军], director of the Military District’s Combat Readiness Construction Division.


[i] See: Peter Wood, “Civil Air Defense Organizations in South China Sign Cooperative Agreement” OE Watch, February 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/354216; Peter Wood, “Civil Air Defense Exercises Held in Western China” OE Watch, August 2019. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-singular-format/315036

[ii] For more on how the PLA is supported by Chinese companies, see: Peter Wood, “Military-Civil Fusion Cooperation in China Grows in the Field of Logistics,” OEW, February 2019.


Notes Sources:

[i] The name for this exercise, “Luzhong” [鲁中] is derived from 鲁, the shorthand for “Shandong province,” and 中, meaning “central.” Zibo, the city where the exercise was held, is in north-central Shandong, a province on China’s east coast.

Image Information:

Image: Emblem of the Chinese People’s Civil Air Defense
Source: Chinese Government
Attribution: Public Domain

PLA Cognitive Domain Operations: Considering Preemption and Hard Kill

Strategic Support Force Space Engineering University.

Strategic Support Force Space Engineering University.

In order to fight military and political battles well in future wars, we should deeply grasp the characteristics and laws of offensive and defensive operations in the cognitive domain and improve our ability to fight the “five battles”.

Numerous articles in the PLA’s official newspaper PLA Daily examine various soft, or noncombat, aspects of cognitive warfare. An article by an author from the PLA Strategic Support Force’s Space Engineering University diverges from these by advocating the integration of hard kill and preemption with noncombat aspects of cognitive domain operations to help the PLA severely degrade and disrupt an opponent to dramatically shape the battlespace and seize the initiative. The author notes that local wars and armed conflicts have become hybrid confrontations in multiple domains and employing multiple methods. Cognitive warfare attempts to influence the target’s cognitive faculties in the areas of physiology, psychology, and value judgments in a multi-domain battlespace. The author believes that there are five key objectives of cognitive warfare: to systematically restrict and control the opponent’s decision-making, to create chaos in international communications, to attack the opponent’s strategic focus, to actively shape the battlefield, and to seize strategic initiative. To achieve this, however, the author stresses a kinetic, proactive approach. Particularly, the article advocates preemptive strikes to destroy the enemy’s decisionmaking center, communications hubs, reconnaissance and early warning system, and other key nodes.


瞄准未来争打好五仗(Aiming at the Future War and Fighting the Cognitive ‘Five Battles’),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army), 23 August 2022. http://www.81.cn/jfjbmap/content/2022-08/23/content_322554.htm

Recognize that information is the king of combat, expand the field and fight a good supporting battle. Future wars cannot be separated from strong information support, and system integration should be accelerated to gain data advantages. First of all, accelerate the construction of cognitive offensive and defensive combat theory base, databases, talent base, case example base and operational method base, dynamically collect and update the current situation of the enemy’s cognitive offensive and defensive combat capability construction, and provide all-round support for cognitive offensive and defensive combat. Second, we will accelerate the building of a media communication matrix, improve and perfect our own platform system, step up the promotion of network platforms, pay attention to system integration, collaboration and linkage, break through the “barriers” of information connectivity as soon as possible, and achieve cognitive integration, sharing and comprehensive effects. Thirdly, we will accelerate the coupling and linkage of information and cognitive domain operations, vigorously develop core technologies such as neural network systems, artificial intelligence applications, cognitive decision-making and psychological attack and defense, mine and analyze cross domain and heterogeneous cognitive information, improve cognitive means and information fusion systems, and provide for “the faculty of forecasting” and “being omniscient” to win future wars.

Cognitive warfare should be coordinated, and multi-dimensional efforts should be made to fight a good overall battle. The future war is a joint operation in the land, sea, air, space, network, electromagnetic and other fields. We should adhere to the systematic thinking, strengthen the awareness of coordination, and improve the compatibility and coordination of cognitive domain operations and other military actions. For example, it can integrate human intelligence, geographical intelligence and open-source intelligence, rapidly collect and process massive amounts of data, eliminate the false and retain the true, accurately and efficiently seize the cognitive space, and achieve complementary advantages and full coverage to form cognitive advantages. Through the networking of decentralized and multi domain forces, a joint force in all fields with high connectivity, collective action and overall attack capabilities will be established to achieve the effect of “integrated deterrence”. By integrating national resources, strengthening strategic communication, using cognitive momentum to amplify the effects of political disintegration, economic sanctions, diplomatic offensives, and cooperation with the target object by multi-dimensional pressure of military action, we strive to defeat the enemy without fighting.

Image Information:

Image: Strategic Support Force Space Engineering University
Source: https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E4%BA%BA%E6%B0%91%E8%A7%A3%E6%94%BE%E5%86%9B%E6%88%98%E7%95%A5%E6%94%AF%E6%8F%B4%E9%83%A8%E9%98%9F%E8%88%AA%E5%A4%A9%E5%B7%A5%E7%A8%8B%E5%A4%A7%E5%AD%A6

Russia Tests Palantin Electronic Warfare System in Ukraine

Palantin Electronic Warfare System.

Palantin Electronic Warfare System.

The accompanying excerpted article from Russia’s official government newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, describes some of the capabilities of the Palantin electronic warfare (EW) system and how it has been employed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—the first reported use of the system in combat.  According to the article, its most important advantage “lies in the ability to combine the electronic warfare systems such as [of] the “Moskva”, “Zhitel,” and “Judoist” into a “single working network.”  The Russian military personnel featured in the article claim that the Palantin EW system “disables reconnaissance drones of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” and “jams cellular communication and Internet sources at Ukrainian command posts,” but other, more objective open sources have not confirmed how effective the system has proven on the Ukrainian battlefield.

The Russian Ground Forces have a three-tiered system for EW.  At the maneuver brigade and division level, each has an EW company that focuses on tactical tasks.  At the combined arms Army level, each has an EW battalion that focuses on operational-tactical tasks.  At the Military District level, each has an EW brigade that focuses on strategic-level tasks.  At the tactical level, the Borisoglebsk-2. EW system is the primary and latest EW system for maneuver brigade/division level EW companies, while the Palantin EW system is the primary and latest system for combined arms Army level EW battalions.


Yuri Gavrilov, “Видео: Как работает в боевой обстановке комплекс РЭБ “Палантин” (Video: How the Palantin electronic warfare system works in a combat situation),” Rossiyskaya Gazeta (official Russian government newspaper), 4 June 2022.  https://rb.gy/4fjl6

The Palantin electronic warfare system disables reconnaissance drones of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, jams cellular communication and Internet sources at Ukrainian command posts, without disturbing the civilian communications infrastructure…The electronic warfare system independently detects enemy drones, intercepts their control signal, and interferes with them. As a result, the UAV loses contact with the operator on the ground.

The commander of the jamming company, Sergei, says that the specialists of his unit have mastered modern radio-electronic equipment without any problems. “Palantin” is the newest system, it is extremely easy to operate and maintain. The electronic warfare system provides automatic detection and suppression of radio communication lines…

A few words about what the Palantin-K electronic warfare system consists of.  It is mounted on four-axle KamAZ vehicles, and is designed to suppress existing and future radio communication systems, as well as to conduct signals intelligence. The capabilities of the system make it possible to “dazzle” enemy electronic systems in the ultrashort-wave [very high frequency (VHF)] and short-wave [high frequency (HF)] bands.

In addition, the “Palantin” can interfere with navigation systems and disable an air defense radars or a command and control systems…this system can deprive the enemy of cellular and trunking communications. Its most important advantage lies in the ability to combine the electronic warfare systems such as the “Moskva”, “Zhitel” and “Judoist” into a single working network… Experts say that “Palantin” is 2-3 times superior to Russian EW systems of the previous generation and currently has no analogues in combat capabilities in any army of leading foreign states.

Image Information:

Image: Palantin Electronic Warfare System
Source: Russian Ministry of Defense, https://rb.gy/4fjl6
Attribution: CC BY 4.0

PLA Using Cognitive Domain Operations To Achieve Political Aims

“[Cognitive domain operations] can… achieve the political purpose of “subduing soldiers without war” or “fight less but win all.”

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) newspaper PLA Daily recently published an article from the Academy of Military Science analyzing the concept of cognitive domain operations (CDO) in hybrid warfare.  As the Academy of Military Science is responsible for PLA doctrine, the article may provide insight into China’s doctrine on CDO.  The author proposes a new perspective of CDO in the hybrid domain.  The editor’s note prefacing the article explains that CDO is an extension of information operations, similar to how hybrid warfare is an extension of physical domain operations or traditional warfare. 

According to the article, militaries conduct CDO on three levels.  The first is “cognitive deterrence,” which entails deterring the enemy by demonstrating absolute military strength, paralyzing an enemy’s financial systems, conducting economic blockades, and imposing sanctions to deliver a psychological shock to the enemy.  The second is “cognitive shaping operations,” which entail altering the enemy’s values, political attitudes, religious beliefs, and mental state to conform to one’s objectives or cause confusion.  Finally, “cognitive deception” entails using public opinion propaganda, network attacks, and transmission of false information to influence the enemy’s decision-making in a desired direction.

The author posits that CDO can ultimately determine victory or defeat by seizing the initiative.  The author believes that CDO employing multiple means and methods—military, non-military, and specialized—can achieve decisive goals.  The author views CDO as part of the non-military methods to achieve maximum goals with minimum resources and risk.  The key components of CDO are continuous operations during peacetime and war, influencing the opponent’s cognition and disrupting its decision-making process.  The author views CDO as a full-spectrum offense and defense employing political, economic, military, diplomatic, public opinion, and other means in multiple domains during both peacetime and wartime.  While broader in scope, aspects of the PLA’s concept of cognitive warfare resemble the more focused Russian concept of reflexive control developed during the Soviet era.  Reflexive control seeks to insert targeted messaging into an opponent’s collection, analysis, and decision-making process to shape the enemy’s cognition and cause them to act in a desired manner.


“混合战争视野下的认知域作战 (Cognitive Domain Operations from the Perspective of Hybrid Warfare),” PLA Daily (newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army), 6 June 2022. http://www.81.cn/jfjbmap/content/2022-06/07/content_317171.htm

Through the practice of several local wars in recent years, it has been found that hybrid warfare can be regarded as an extension of traditional physical domain operations to a certain extent, while cognitive domain operations can be regarded as a further extension of previous information domain operations. In other words, both hybrid warfare and cognitive domain operations were born out of yesterday’s traditional warfare, and the two are closely related and have different emphases. How to grasp the new characteristics and new laws of cognitive domain operations from the perspective of hybrid warfare is a new perspective for advancing the research on cognitive domain operations.

“On the surface, current cognitive domain operations mainly act on people’s perception, feeling, emotion, morale, thinking, judgment, spirit, belief, and other areas. However, at the practical level, cognitive domain operations are often a full-scale attack and defense in the multi-dimensional field by using political, economic, military, diplomatic, public opinion, and other comprehensive means. If the physical domain operation is the premise and foundation to eliminate the enemy’s effective forces, and the information domain operation is the means and support to win victory in war, then the cognitive domain operation is the key to ultimately determine the victory or defeat of the war, force the enemy to yield, and achieve the war’s objective.

Cognitive domain operations in the perspective of hybrid war start from the conscious level as the principal part of war to act directly on people’s will, belief, thinking, and psychology, etc., and [aim to] achieve the intended goals such as psychological attack, value shaping, cognitive influence, and mental control by maintaining one’s own cognitive advantages and attacking the enemy’s cognitive disadvantages.  Specifically, it can destroy the fighting will of the enemy’s officers and soldiers through cognitive attacks on them; Through the cognitive control of the enemy’s leadership, the purpose of influencing the decision-making and judgment of the enemy’s leaders can be achieved. Through the cognitive shaping of the enemy people, we can achieve the purpose of interfering with the enemy people’s recognition of the value of the country and the government, and finally achieve the political purpose of “subduing soldiers without war” or “fight less but win all”.

Cognitive domain warfare methods and means are mixed and diverse

Cognitive domain operations from the perspective of hybrid warfare, the multi-dimensionality of the space domain and the diversity of participating forces have spawned innovative improvements and enriched development of cognitive domain combat tactics.

In recent local wars, some foreign military combat methods and means in the cognitive domain have also shown a new trend of mixing and diversifying.

One is cognitive deterrence. By demonstrating absolute military strength, paralyzing the financial system, carrying out economic blockades, and imposing trade sanctions, the enemy is given psychological and spiritual shock and deterrence, so as to achieve the combat purpose of making the enemy cowardly, yield and retreat. Another example is to broadcast to the enemy a video of its advanced weapons and equipment accurately destroying the enemy’s important targets, causing it to have a psychological shadow, so as to actively give up resistance, etc.

The second is cognitive shaping operations. Through the induction and agitation of the enemy’s values, political attitudes, religious beliefs, mental states and other ideological fields, gradually make them abandon or form a new specific concept, cause value confusion, shake their will to fight, and thus affect their war. Attitude, etc.

The third is cognitive deception. Through public opinion propaganda, network attacks, thinking induction and other means, false information is transmitted to the enemy, thereby affecting its decision-making and judgment. For example, virtual reality and intelligent audio-visual synthesis technology are used to simulate the commander’s order, making it difficult to distinguish the true and false of the enemy, thereby causing confusion in the enemy’s command, disorder in actions, and failure of combat operations.”

Chinese Observations on the Role and Impact of Social Media in Cognitive Warfare

“Cognitive warfare through social media can directly interfere with relevant government decisions and influence the direction of the war.”

Drawing lessons from the war in Ukraine, Chinese military strategists see social media as a highly effective tool in both warfare and politics.  The accompanying excerpted article published in the nationalistic-leaning Chinese daily Huanqui Shibao notes that cognitive warfare is playing a historic role in shaping the war, which is the first time combatants have incorporated it into a large-scale physical conflict.  The author notes that cognitive warfare tactics such as “deepfakes” and “accelerationism” over social media deliberately manipulated the world’s emotions and collective consciousness to sway public opinion and exacerbate polarization.  He notes that social media has elevated the role and effectiveness of cognitive warfare to new heights.  It has interfered with government decisions and influenced the direction of the war.

According to the author, cognitive warfare extends beyond propaganda and psychological warfare.  It can be carried out in conjunction with both the physical and information domains.  It can be used in wartime or peacetime and on a daily basis.  It can be waged through public diplomacy, academic exchanges, culture and art, or simply hidden in seemingly innocuous areas such as social media.  The author also describes how cognitive warfare has evolved through technological advances.  The digital technology available during the 1991 Gulf War allowed round-the-clock, real-time televised coverage of wartime events as they unfolded.  This play-by-play coverage had a psychological impact on the entire world, which helped to shape the narrative, but not the outcome, of the war.  Three decades later social media is seen as a weapon in the Ukraine conflict.


Sun Jiashan, “俄乌冲突中认知战对我们的启示 (What Cognitive Warfare in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict Teaches Us),” Global Times (daily newspaper known for its nationalistic take on world affairs), 10 March 2022. https://opinion.huanqiu.com/article/477wrRCvjHx

The role and effectiveness of cognitive warfare based on social media in the Russia-Ukraine war has reached new historical heights since the 1991 Gulf War.

More than 30 years have passed since the 1991 Gulf War, but we still have a clear visual image of it because, for the first time in history, television media had followed it every step. The information technology that allowed round the clock digital broadcasting of modern warfare by the American television media had a great psychological impact on the entire world.

The 1991 Gulf War, despite near-live digital broadcasting of the war, (however), only offered a narrative of the war and had no direct impact on the war itself. The biggest difference between the role and effectiveness of the 1991 Gulf War and the Russia-Ukraine conflict is that the advent of social media has affected the media and directly impacting the war. Whether it was the so-called “Ghost of Kyiv,” in which it was eventually revealed that footage had been taken from an air combat simulation game at the beginning of the conflict… or the spreading of rumors such as the Nuclear leak of the Zaporozhye nuclear plant… “deepfake,” “accelerationism,” and other cognitive warfare tactics, which can impact cognition through social media, are now being applied in large-scale situations over the course of the war.

…cognitive warfare can no longer be simply seen as propaganda warfare and psychological warfare (as it was previously)…. Cognitive warfare through social media can directly interfere with relevant government decisions and influence the direction of the war. This has been a historical wake-up call for us by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

PLA Experimenting with Formations To Optimize Combat Effectiveness

PLA soldier participates in a tactical shooting competition.

PLA soldier participates in a tactical shooting competition.

“Precise deployment of forces is an important part of winning future ‘informationized’ wars. Only by continuously improving the accuracy of the allocation of forces and use of firepower can we better unlock the full combat effectiveness of the troops, achieve functional integration and complement each other’s advantages.”

A brigade in northeastern China appears to be experimenting with new combat formations.  In the accompanying excerpt from the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) newspaper PLA Daily, the unnamed brigade, which is under the 78th Group Army based in northeastern China, reallocated units down to the squad level to better suit mission requirements and terrain.  Units under the 78th Group Army appear to have long been at the forefront of the PLA’s experimentation with, and transition to, combined arms battalions (See “New Type” PLA Units Emphasize Mobility, Joint Operations,” OE Watch, October 2018).  In this exercise, the brigade testing the new formation was representing the blue team, or “enemy” force.  This gave the red PLA force the chance to test itself against an unusual and more effective fighting force while experimenting with new ways of allocating forces.  The “mixing and matching” method proved successful in both defensive and offensive scenarios during the exercise.

In the article, the blue team brigade leader notes that allocation of forces will be essential to prevail in “informationized” warfare characterized by high tempos and deep integration of sensors, communications, and precision fires.  Modularity and organizational flexibility will be essential to bringing the maximum amount of combat power to bear while allowing quick responses to new threats.  Currently, the PLA is quickly adopting new command systems and testing new formations and equipment to improve its proficiency in combined arms operations.  (See “PLA Fields New Integrated Command Platforms, Improving Combined Arms Operations,” OE Watch, December 2021).  While new equipment is arguably equally important, finding new ways to use existing or new formations, and adopting a mindset that would allow such innovation, may prove key in future conflicts.


Zhang Guangxuan [张光轩], “第78集团军某旅 ‘按需混编’ 精准释放战斗效能(Brigade under the 78th Group Army ‘Mixes’ Units Correctly to Release Full Combat Efficiency),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the PLA), 11 February 2022. 


On the eve of the Spring Festival, a brigade of the 78th Group Army and a related unit conducted a realistic confrontation exercise. Acting as the opposing force, the brigade used an “on-demand mixing” method to organize its troops and firepower for combat operations instead of the static, pre-allocated method used before, which allowed the unit to optimize combat formations and improve the effectiveness of combat command.

“Precise deployment of forces is an important part of winning future ‘informationized’ wars. Only by continuously improving the accuracy of the allocation of forces and use of firepower can we better unlock the full combat effectiveness of the troops, achieve functional integration and complement each other’s advantages.” According to the brigade’s leader, in this exercise, the opposing force broke up existing units and instead reallocated each squad to a new ad hoc mixed unit to better suit the mission requirements and terrain. Each combat unit has a designated commander and deputy. Compared with the previous grouping method, this “on-demand mixing” mode enables more precise use of force and firepower and more efficient and efficient combat command.

At the exercise area, Zhang Peng, the commander of the opposing force, organized the force into 18 operational units after leading the battalion, company, and platoon commanders to conduct repeated surveys of the defensive positions before the battle. After the battle started, Zhang Peng directly ordered each operational unit to enter the fight in response to the attacking forces. Their reaction speed and the efficiency of the deployment of troops and firepower were significantly improved.

“The opponent’s reaction is too fast!” admitted the commander of the attacking team at the end of the exercise. “The main reason for the failure of our attack is that the opposing team was able to respond quickly, and the coordination of forces and fires is more effective.” In the following iteration of the exercise, the opposing force switched from defense to attack and again ‘mixed’ forces to suit the terrain and mission. The result of the new tactics was clear—another decisive win. 

Image Information:

Image: PLA soldier participates in a tactical shooting competition.
Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/PLA-TACSHOOTER2021.png
Attribution: CC BY 4.0

China Wages Cognitive Warfare To Shape Taiwanese Public Opinion

“…the CCP is adept at using seemingly innocuous political tools to advance its “united front” strategy, and psychological and cognitive warfare offensives against its targets, including Taiwan.”

Amid tensions across the Taiwan Straits, Taiwan media has been reporting about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) use of cognitive warfare to reunite the two Chinas.  One such article was published in the Military Affairs Forum of Taipei Ch’ing-nien Jih-pao (The Youth Daily), a government-sponsored daily that reports on military, government, and general news.  According to the accompanying excerpts, the CCP is using non-military, gray zone tactics to change people’s perception of China.  The CCP uses both traditional media and various forms of internet media to carry out its war of public opinion, legal warfare, and psychological warfare. As an example, the article describes how the CCP will tell the “Chinese story” in an effort to “expand its influence, create controversies, and widen differences and conflicts.”  It transmits false information to various foreign media outlets or “infiltrate social media to disseminate specific messages abroad; and reproduce foreign media reports to shape or embellish [China’s] own image and perception both domestically and abroad.”  According to the article, behind the war of influence is the CCP’s United Front Work Department, which is in charge of propaganda; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Propaganda Department, which focuses on external propaganda and control domestic public opinion; and the Ministry of State Security, which combines both civilian hackers, who launch cyber-attacks, with false information produced on content farms.

The second article, published in Taiwan’s English-language publication Taipei Times explains, “the CCP is adept at using seemingly innocuous political tools to advance its ‘united front’ strategy, and psychological and cognitive warfare offensives against its target, including Taiwan.”  To accomplish this, it resorts to both hard and soft power (i.e. culture, education, sports exchanges, media organizations, and economic means) “to control and manipulate Taiwanese public opinion.”  While none of this is particularly new, this recent spotlight in Taiwanese media shows that the cognitive warfare strategy that China uses to win without fighting is persistent, far-reaching, and controlled by the CCP (as opposed to spontaneous, independent media).


Shu Hsiao-huang, “反制認知作戰 抵禦灰色地帶威脅 (Countering Cognitive Warfare and Resisting Gray Zone Threats),” Taipei Ch’ing-nien Jih-pao (Youth Daily News: Published by the government of the People’s Republic of China), 9 December 2021. https://www.ydn.com.tw/news/newsInsidePage?chapterID=1467725&type=forum

Cognitive warfare is the use of information or various communication platforms to change the mindset of an opponent in order to change his or her behavior. The Chinese Communist Party has been waging a united war against Taiwan for many years, carrying out “The Three Warfares” of public opinion, legal, and psychological warfare.  It uses old wine in new bottles, along with both traditional print and electronic media, as well as Internet media (platforms) and other means to carry out its war of influence.

The United Front Department is in charge of propaganda.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Propaganda Department focus on external propaganda and control internal public opinion, and the Ministry of State Security combines cyber-attacks, carried out by civilian hackers, with fake information produced on content farms to carry the war of influence.

…(The CCP) shares the “China story” to expand its influence, create controversies, and widen differences and conflicts. The modus operandi includes spreading falsehoods and spreading them rapidly across platforms; it uses foreign media or infiltrates social media to disseminate specific messages abroad; and reproduce foreign media reports to shape or embellish its own image and perception both domestically and abroad.

Source: Change Yan-ting and Paul Chiou, “Resolutions to Engage with China,” Taipei Times (Taiwan based English-language publication), 11 January 2022. https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2022/01/12/2003771189

As we embark upon a new year, tensions across the Taiwan Strait continue to heighten by the day.

However, the CCP is adept at using seemingly innocuous political tools to advance its “united front” strategy, and psychological and cognitive warfare offensives against its targets, including Taiwan.

The regime consistently uses soft and sharp power, such as culture, education and sports exchanges, as well as media organizations and economic means, to control and manipulate Taiwanese public opinion.