3GIMBALS

Reflecting on GEOINT and SOF Week 2024: A Pivotal Moment for Innovation and Partnerships

As specialists in analytic solutions and AI within the defense sector, we eagerly anticipate the annual gatherings at GEOINT and SOF Week—key events that set the stage for the year’s technological advancements and strategic partnerships. This year, both events surpassed our expectations, offering unprecedented opportunities to showcase our innovative solutions, engage with future talent, and deepen our connections within the global defense community.

Navigating Troubled Waters: China’s Maritime Aggression in the Asia-Pacific

Amid the ebb and flow of geopolitical currents in the Asia-Pacific, China’s maritime conduct continues to stir deepening tension. The nation’s far-reaching territorial claims, symbolized by its “nine-dash line,” have catalyzed a series of bold maneuvers across the South China Sea. The creation and fortification of artificial islands, the routine dispatch of naval patrols, and confrontations at sea remain hallmarks of China’s growing maritime footprint, directly challenging the sovereignty of nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan, while casting a shadow over the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight that anchor global commerce.

Bargaining with the Beast: U.S.-China Efforts to Curb the Fentanyl Epidemic 

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Over 1 million Americans have died from drug overdoses since 2000, with some 70-80% of these deaths involving a fatal dose of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. In 2023, the U.S. government seized 77 million fentanyl pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder. These record seizures represent enough to kill every American. At the heart of this crisis are precursor chemicals, almost exclusively manufactured and exported from China to the Mexican Sinaloa and Jalisco cartel organizations. China likely views this complex intersection of public health and international relations as a bargaining chip to gain concessions from the U.S. 

Navigating the Waters: China’s Strategic Gambit in Djibouti

China’s investments in Djibouti represent a pivotal moment for U.S. interests in a global maritime nexus. The establishment of China’s first overseas military base, coupled with expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, underscores the tangible manifestations of China’s ambitions in the region. These developments are significant not only for their potential to alter regional power dynamics, but also for enabling China to project its military power more effectively and enhance its intelligence-gathering capabilities near U.S. and allied forces. Moreover, the risk of Djibouti falling into a debt trap, unable to repay Chinese loans, could lead to critical infrastructure falling under Chinese control, compounding the challenges faced by the U.S. in maintaining its influence and safeguarding its interests in this maritime corridor.

From Cyber Attacks to Missile Barrages: Russia’s Evolving Ukraine Strategy

Last winter, Russia attempted to break the will of the Ukrainian people to force a peace settlement through widespread attacks against Ukraine’s energy sector. Having failed, and in the face of an increasingly advanced Ukrainian air defense posture, Moscow likely shifted tactics.

On 29 December 2023, Russia launched the largest barrage of missiles and drones against key cities across Ukraine since the start of the war. Similar large-scale attacks have continued into 2024. These barrages have primarily targeted the front line, striking energy infrastructure with far less frequency than in 2023.

North Korea-Russia Technology Deal Could Mark a Significant Shift in Global Balance of Power

North Korea’s successful satellite launch and advanced weapons tests suggest an emergent technology sharing alliance with Russia. Following Kim Jong Un’s September 2023 meeting with Vladimir Putin, North Korea announced its first spy satellite launch and fielded new solid-fueled ballistic missiles and a nuclear underwater drone. The timing implies a reciprocal deal exchanging North Korean weapons for Russian technical aid. This burgeoning partnership marked by quid pro quo arrangements signals a tectonic shift toward a multipolar order, as Russia and North Korea cooperate to improve weapons capabilities threatening the US and allies. With global conflicts stretching Western resources, informed decision-making is critical. Contact 3GIMBALS to learn how our OMEN solution provides the intelligence needed to remain a step ahead.

Uncovering State-Sponsored Disinformation: Inside a Chinese Influence Campaign

Collaborating with Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub, 3GIMBALS uncovered a widespread Chinese state-sponsored disinformation campaign spreading false narratives about COVID-19’s origins. Using advanced data science techniques, our team discovered over 200 viral memes across 20 online platforms targeting specific individuals. The quality and scope indicated a state-sponsored campaign which we definitively tied to mainland China through studying metadata, technical fingerprints, and geolocation data pointing to an apartment complex in Yulin, China. This enabled public exposure of the disinformation without compromising sensitive government sources. Read the full article to learn more about this analysis and see examples of the uncovered graphics.

Logistical Shift: How New Rail Routes Will Transform Russia’s Ukraine Campaign

3GIMBALS’ OMENTM analysis identified new rail construction in Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories (TOT). When complete, these railroad logistics routes will provide Russian military forces direct and secure logistics options with greater flexibility to transport ammunition, armor, fuel, and personnel. The location of these rail lines will diversify Russian military movement options away from the forward line of troops and vulnerable chokepoints, such as the Kerch Bridge directly connecting Russia to Crimea. Since Russia relies heavily on rail for logistics, this infrastructure project could have significant impacts on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and long-term plans for the region.

Regional Instability Modeling & Migration Analysis: Adding Structure to a Complex Mission

The number of migrants approaching borders around the world remains at record levels. Throughout Eastern Europe, Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia—economic hardship, political unrest, violence, and changing climates drive people to leave home. Drought and storms devastate agricultural productivity, impacting food and water security. Poverty, economic decline, and lack of institutional governance create space for corruption, gangs, organized crime, and extremist influence.