4 April 2015

So much to gain

April 4, 2015 

Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran were finally wrapped up after 18 months of intense diplomatic discussion. A final agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions is slated to be drawn up by the end of June. For years, talks between Iran and the six world powers had been in a deadlock because of concerns over the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme.

Years of distrust and suspicion were followed by a raft of economic and financial sanctions against Iran by the UN, EU and other countries.

That state in the middle

April 4, 2015 

Australia is sharpening its focus on Madhya Pradesh. As a partner country to its impressive investment summit last year, I saw firsthand the significant Indian and foreign business interest in a state that has grown around 10 per cent every year over the past decade and whose agricultural growth is touching 25 per cent. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told me recently, MP is at the heart of India, open for business and committed to good governance. I visited the state with my family last week.

The Top 5 Things to Know About the Iran Nukes Deal

APRIL 2, 2015

After days of delays and watching U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry trooping sad-faced through the streets of Lausanne, Switzerland, one could have been forgiven for thinking that negotiations to strike an agreement governing Iran’s nuclear program were on the rocks.

But Kerry’s long face was apparently too pessimistic, and on Thursday, April 2, world powers unveiled an interim agreement — a joint comprehensive plan of action, to use its technical term — that paves the way for a final deal that would see Iran suspend enrichment and open itself to inspections in exchange for sanctions relief.

The terms of the interim agreement are bound to be picked over in coming days, but the information that has so far been released provides a surprisingly comprehensive picture of what we can expect from a final agreement.

A Time for Fist-Bumping

APRIL 3, 2015

The interim Iran nuclear deal is worth celebrating, but it’s just a small piece of a much bigger puzzle.

For those commentators who took issue with U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice fist-bumping a colleague during Thursday’s White House announcement of the interim Iran nuclear accord, I have a word of advice: It is time to up your meds. That the national security advisor might be feeling good following the administration’s tireless and thus far seemingly successful effort to employ diplomacy to defang Tehran’s nuclear weapons development efforts is perfectly natural. Heck, Bill Clinton and his first national security advisor, Tony Lake, smoked a victory stogie after the rescue of a single flier in the former Yugoslavia, an event so comparatively inconsequential that Owen Wilson was selected to portray the pilot in the forgettable movie based on it.

SAM Manekshaw on Leadership and Discipline

03 Apr , 2015

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s Lecture at Defence Services College, Wellington on Leadership and Discipline 11th November, 1998.

Commandant, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am fully conscious of the privilege, which is mine, to have been invited here to address the college. A while ago, I was invited to a seminar where the subject was youth, and people said that the youth of this country was not pulling its weight, that society generally was not satisfied with how the young were functioning. When I was asked what I thought about it, I said that the youngsters of this country are disappointed, disturbed and confused. They cannot understand why all these untoward things are happening in this country. They want to know who is to blame. Not them. If they want to study at night and there is no power, they want to know who is to blame. Not them. If they want to have a bath, there is no water; they want to know who is to blame. Not them. They want to go to college and university and they are told there are not any vacancies; they want to know who is to blame. Not them. They say – here is a country which was considered the brightest jewel in the British Crown. What has happened to this Bright Jewel?

Pakistan: The Most Dangerous Place

02 Apr , 2015

Today, it is well proven and acknowledged worldwide that the roots of Pakistan’s jihadism lie in its obsession with India, born out of the two-nation theory. Crafted by the fear that its powerful neighbour, India wants to dismember Pakistan and undo the Partition, supports the overall design of policies in Pakistan. The break-up of Pakistan in 1971 and emergence of Bangladesh from erstwhile East Pakistan as an independent nation has reinforced national paranoia. Contrary to convincing the country’s Punjabi elite of the need to come to terms with Pakistan’s size and power and finding security within the parameters of reality, the establishment in turn has fanned “India scare” to divert focus from internal challenges.

Watch Out, India: China to Sell Pakistan 8 Submarines

April 2, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, after a visit to India, I wrote an op-ed for the Indian weekly Open with my impressions of the Indian strategic debate. The biggest take-away was how openly suspicious the Indians are about China and its intentions in the Indian Ocean.

That suspicion got another boost yesterday, with Islamabad announcing that it has approved, in principle, the purchase of eight Chinese submarines for the Pakistani navy.

This is big news for a number of reasons. First, it's a large order for a navy that currently only operates five submarines. Second, it will be the first time China has exported its submarines, which says something about the improvements in its military technology (granted, Pakistan is probably buying on price as well as capability, but this is a navy that has previously bought advanced European submarines, so its not an undiscerning customer).

The Dangerous, Delicate Saudi-Pakistan Alliance

APRIL 1, 2015

In October, I met dozens of families huddled in the hillsides around Amerli, a town of some 26,000 people 110 miles north of Baghdad. They had sought shelter there, helplessly watching as their homes burned and exploded in the weeks and months after government-backed Shiite militias took control of their villages, after expelling fighters from the Islamic State.

What they told me bears striking — and disturbing — similarity to what is happening in Tikrit right now, as Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias attempt to retake the city from the Islamic State with the support of U.S. airstrikes. Iraqi forces and militia fighters captured almost the entire city by Wednesday night, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived to cheer the conquest and Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi hailed the “magnificent victory” there.

The Dangerous, Delicate Saudi-Pakistan Alliance

APRIL 1, 2015 

The former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal oncedescribed ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as “probably one of the closest relationships in the world between any two countries without any official treaty.”

The intimate friendship goes back decades. In 1969, Pakistani pilots flew Saudi jets to thwart Yemeni incursions into the kingdom. Islamabad and Riyadh closely coordinated support for the mujahideen in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s; and during that decade, Pakistan stationed upwards of 15,000 troops in the kingdom. Pakistani troops returned to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War to protect it from an Iraqi invasion. And Saudi Arabia reportedly donated oil supplies to Pakistan after Islamabad was hit by sanctions for conducting nuclear tests in 1998.

New US Cyber Order Could Provoke Chinese Retaliation

April 03, 2015

As my colleague Ankit noted, U.S. President Barack Obama just signed an executive order that will permit the government to take financial action (including sanctions) against foreign individuals and groups that commit cyberattacks against U.S. interests. The orderallows the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of entities determined to be responsible for, complicit in, or assisting the cyber theft of trade secrets for financial gain or competitive advantage.

Given that Chinese firms and the Chinese government alike are frequently accused of such cyber theft, the executive order may well face its first major test from Beijing. The U.S. government has already proven willing to publicly charge Chinese citizens with hacking, but the previous indictment of five PLA officers was purely symbolic – the new executive order could mean crippling sanctions for Chinese firms.

The Internet vs. China’s Many Emperors

April 03, 2015

The Internet appeared in China 20 years ago and was introduced to ordinary households 15 years ago. Today China has become an Internet giant with more netizens than any other country. In China, the central government was responsible for the rapid development of the Internet. As early as the 1990s, Jiang Zemin, whose educational background is in science and engineering, was keenly aware of the huge gap between China and Western developed countries in terms of science and technology, industrial production, and commercial trade. To narrow the gap, he knew China must draw support from the emerging Internet, a symbol of the transformation from the industrial age to the information age.

Has China Weaponized the Internet?

Last week, China’s internet censorship apparently began playing offense – GitHub was the target of a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack beginning last Thursday. The attack targeted two specific pages on GitHub’s site: the page for the Chinese-language version of the New York Times and the page for GreatFire.org, a group dedicated to exposing and circumventing Chinese online censorship.

GreatFire.org also said it had been the subject of a major DDoS attack beginning in mid-March, after which GreatFire.org began mirroring content on GitHub. The attack on GitHub came after GreatFire.org began asking users to access the GitHub page directly. GitHub called the attack the “largest DDos” ever launched against the site.

New Chinese Cyberattacks: What’s to Be Done?

Steve Dickinson, Jason Q. Ng, Isaac Mao, Collin Anderson 
April 1, 2015

The Chinese have already weaponized the Internet. They assume that everyone else has done the same thing. China does not see the Internet as a benign force. They see the Internet as a weapon aimed at their heart. It is therefore completely natural that they will respond to what they see as threats directed at China that originate on the Internet.

One method they will use for protection is to create a Chinese sovereign Internet. Within China, the Internet will be entirely in the control of the Chinese authorities. This is a Balkanization of the Internet. The Chinese authorities understand this and welcome the result.

The problem for the Chinese is then is what to do about attacks against China that come from outside of the borders of China. They have a two-prong policy. First, the Great Firewall will block access to China. This is the primary strategy. Second, where the Great Firewall is not effective, China will strike back, using the open Internet as a weapon. This is exactly what is happening in the current GitHub denial of service attack.


By Peter E. Robertson
APRIL 1, 2015

The Soviets matched the US only by spending up to 20% of GDP on the military during the Cold War. This column argues that, in stark contrast to this example, China has the potential to match the US in certain military spheres with similar burden on its economy. Using exchange rates comparisons significantly understates the Chinese military spending. A much more realistic assessment is obtained using PPP terms. If both countries spent the same fraction of their GDP on the military, the relative size of China’s military machine would be more than 90% of the US one.

Navigating Choppy Waters

By Matthew P. Goodman, David A. Parker 
MAR 31, 2015

China’s Economic Decisionmaking at a Time of Transition 

China faces increasing economic headwinds that call into question not only its near-term growth outlook but the longer-term sustainability of its economic success. At a time of leadership transition in Beijing, global markets and policymakers alike are casting an anxious eye on China’s economic decisionmakers and wondering whether they have the plans, skills, and fortitude to cope with these challenges. There is a rising premium on understanding how Chinese economic policy decisions are made, whether the emerging cadre of policymakers has the wherewithal to navigate the more turbulent waters ahead, and what the implications are for U.S. foreign and economic policy. 

Clearing the Final Hurdles in the Iran Nuclear Talks

April 3, 2015 

Today in Lausanne the United States and its partners achieved a major breakthrough in talks to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb. Both sides were able to agree on key principles that will—if the talks succeed—keep Iran’s nuclear program exclusively peaceful and under the watchful eye of international inspectors. This is by far the most promising path to resolving this crisis peacefully.

"Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework" for a nuclear deal with Iran, U.S. President Barack Obama said at the White House. "And it is a good deal."

Confirmed: The Hawks Were Wrong on Iran

April 3, 2015

Peace won. War lost. It’s as simple as that. Make no mistake, the framework agreement that was announced yesterday is nothing short of historic. A cycle of escalation has been broken – for the first time, Iran’s nuclear program will roll back, as will the sanctions Iran has been subjected too.

In 2003, as I describe in Treacherous Alliance - the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US, Iran only had 164 centrifuges. It offered to negotiate with the United States, and, but the George Bush administration refused. “We don’t talk to evil,” Vice President Dick Cheney quipped in response to the negotiation offer. Instead, the Bush administration resorted to threats of war and sanctions.

Analysis: How Iran Is Taking Over the Middle East

By: Riyadh Mohammed
March 19, 2015 

Two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Congress to ensure the U.S. would not be soft on Iran. Then, 47 Republican senators wrote to the Iranian leadership to tell them that Congress will need to approve any deal Obama may make with Tehran over its nuclear program. Finally, we had a senior advisor to the Iranian president saying that Iran has become a Middle Eastern empire whose capital is Baghdad.

As U.S. politicians argue about how best to squelch Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the regime in Tehran is exerting itself in other ways, winning powerful influence in neighboring Iraq and across the Middle East.

Saudis and Allies Planning Major Ground Offensive in Yemen

April 1, 2015

CAIRO — Saudi Arabia and its allies plan an ambitious ground offensive on multiple fronts in Yemen. It may be inevitable if they want to defeat Iranian-backed Shiite rebels but it also carries enormous risks, from the inhospitable, mountainous terrain and a possible guerrilla war to al-Qaida militants waiting in the wings.

The first main objective of a ground assault would be to secure the southern port of Aden and its immediate vicinity to allow the return of Western- and Gulf-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the Arabian Sea city last month in the face of a push south by the rebels. There, the troops would begin the task of building a new Yemeni army, replacing a military fragmented by the conflict.

Judging a P5+1 Nuclear Agreement with Iran: The Key Criteria

MAR 30, 2015 

All too often in the real world, peace is an extension of war by other means. This is certainly the case with the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. The negotiations only have taken place because Iran faced sanctions and the equivalent of economic warfare. There is no evidence as yet that any agreement is going to bring a broader détente, and every aspect of the negotiations has so far left unresolved questions about the nature of Iran’s nuclear programs, created new debates over trade-offs in Iran’s efforts in return for easing sanctions, and involved a continuing propaganda and political battles between Iran and the members of the P5+1.

DARPA’s Vision of Future War — Swarms of Missiles and Drones SoSITE project wants to overwhelm air defense systems


One of the most important jobs for an air force is suppressing enemy air defenses. It means hacking, jamming or otherwise blowing up radars and anti-aircraft missile sites — often during the opening stages of a war.

Now a new project from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency envisions a near-future strategy using a cargo plane converted into a missile and drone-packing mothership — all commanded by an F-35 stealth fighter.


April 1, 2015

Since the death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of elite Navy SEALs, we have learned a great deal about the operation from various tell-all accounts that have scandalized the special operations community. We have also learned a great deal about al Qaeda from documents seized in that raid and released selectively by the U.S. government. But for the first time, I can now confirm a hidden truth about the death of Bin Laden that ties directly to the stunning rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant:

US Marine F-18s Land at Taiwan Air Base, Beijing Protests

April 02, 2015

Two U.S. Marine F/A-18C Hornet aircraft did a precautionary landing at an air force base in southern Taiwan on April 1 after one of the aircraft reportedly flashed a persistent engine oil pressure light warning. Unusual in itself, the incident, which has been widely covered in Taiwanese media, could be more significant than initially thought.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed on April 2 that the two aircraft were from the U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 (VMFA-323). The squadron is under the Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11). Mark Zimmer, the spokesman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the United States’ de facto embassy in the absence of official diplomatic ties, said the two aircraft took off from an airbase in Japan on Wednesday. Major Paul L. Greenberg, a spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps,added that the F-18s were on a routine mission in support of a training exercise. According to the U.S. Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Public Affairs Office, the pair of F-18s was en route to Singapore to participate in the COMMANDO SLING air-to-air joint exercises with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).

Say Goodbye to American Supremacy

April 3, 2015 

“Prices come down,” chanted rioters in Indonesia in May 1998. When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stepped in to rescue Indonesia from near-bankruptcy, they demanded the following: privatization of state-owned enterprises, sharp cuts to government spending, and a tighter monetary policy. Unemployment worsened at the same time prices for essential goods such as fuel and food skyrocketed. Similar scenes could be found in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe as IMF remedies to the 1997 Asian financial crisisonly deepened economic woes.

A New Type of U.S.-Japan Relations

April 3, 2015 

At 9:30 AM on April 28, 1952 the U.S.-Japan alliance stood up as the U.S. occupation of Japan stood down. At the end of this month, the U.S.-Japan alliance will step up as Japan steps out as a more normal state, capable of both defending itself and others.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s address to a joint session of Congress on April 29 should go down in history as a day of glory, not of infamy. Some serious criticswill remain dissatisfied over perceived historical revisionism. Yet the fact will remain that the biggest antagonists in the Pacific War have forged a prosperous postwar system and a vigorous alliance. When the Prime Minister speaks to a full house of Senators and Representatives, he can be expected to offer humble remorse for the past, quiet pride in Japan’s remarkable seven-decade-long contribution to global order, and a roadmap for how the alliance can perpetuate a rules-based system well into the 21st century.


By John Manfreda
Source Link

Recently, Warren Buffett has made headlines by selling all of his shares in Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), the rest of his position in ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), and reducing his stake in National Oilwell Varco. This has people wondering if the glory days of oil investing are over.

Warren’s opinion of oil investments carries a lot of weight, because over a 32 year period, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway portfolio has generated an average annual return of 24 percent. His most famous investments are Coke, American Express, and Gillette (which is now Proctor and Gamble). These investments have made him over 3 billion dollars each. This is why when Buffett buys or sells a stock, everyone takes notice.

Cyberwar and Nuclear War: the Most Dangerous of All Conflations

July 16, 2013.

Former counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke, famous for criticizing the Bush administration’s lax stance toward terrorism before 9/11, and former Clinton administration National Security Council official Steve Andreasen addressed the wisdom of responding to a cyber attack with nuclear weapons in a recent Washington Post op-ed. They wrote:

The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board concluded this year that China and Russia could develop capabilities to launch an “existential cyber attack” against the United States. … “While the manifestation of a nuclear and cyber attack are very different,” the board concluded, “in the end, the existential impact to the United States is the same.”

World body of parliaments highlights cyberwar and nuclear risks


By Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

The Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU), the world body of over 160 parliaments, today adopted a resolution Cyber warfare: A serious threat to peace and global security, following a year of consultations by the resolution rapporteurs with cyber warfare experts and member parliaments.

The resolution, adopted in the closing session of the 132nd IPU Assembly, aims to assist parliamentarians to understand the potential for cyber-attacks, the nature of such attacks, the law that should govern military use of cyberspace, and policy approaches to protect civilian infrastructures from cyber-attacks.

Obama Opens New Front in Cyberwar With Fresh Sanctions Framework

APRIL 1, 2015

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping new executive order handing himself power to sanction individuals and entities responsible for carrying out cyber attacks against U.S. targets. And on a conference call with reporters, one of his key lieutenants admitted that it was the cyberattack allegedly carried by North Korea on Sony that convinced the White House of the need for such a measure.

Big Data Helping to Pinpoint Terrorist Activities, Attacks (UPDATED)

By Yasmin Tadjdeh
April 2015

Tweets ISIL fighter Mark Taylor sent in October revealing his exact coordinates.

When Mark Taylor, a New Zealander who left his country to fight for the Islamic State, tweeted some musings in the fall of 2014, he did not realize he was giving away his exact location in Syria. Once realizing his error, he deleted 45 geotagged tweets, but not before intelligence groups had seen them.

Governments and groups across the globe are using these slip-ups, and other pieces of information gleaned from the internet, to gain a better understanding of what terror organizations, such as the Islamic State, may be planning.

Next Big Thing in Army SATCOM: Tiny Antennas For Combat Vehicles

By Sandra I. Erwin
April 2015

The Army is poised for a breakthrough that would make command armored vehicles less detectable to enemies and safer to operate.

The idea is to do away with bulky satellite communication dishes and replace them with low-profile distributed aperture terminals — several small antennas working together to act as a single large antenna. The Army has been interested in this technology for years but only started a serious push in 2013.

The problem for the Army is that current SATCOM systems are too bulky and cumbersome to fit inside heavy vehicles like the Bradley or the Abrams tank that have turreted weapon systems. The turret has limited space and power available for a traditional mobile satellite terminal.

Army Tactical Radios: The Struggle Continues

By Sandra I. Erwin

Following a decade of fits and starts trying to produce soldier-friendly wireless devices, the Army is seeking bids for two new radios in hopes of opening up the market to newcomers and compelling contractors to lower their prices.

Army officials have long predicted a surge of innovation in the tactical radio market, spurred by vigorous competition and an influx of nontraditional vendors. Yet for all the wishful thinking, the Army’s radio modernization program has yet to get off the ground.

Cyber talk: Dive on in

MARCH 20, 2015

Why don’t Silicon Valley and D.C. get along? Is there a cyber-military industrial complex? How do you staff the military’s cyber corps? And what is a three star general’s favorite depiction of hackers in fiction?

These are some of the questions explored in the first episode of “The Cybersecurity Podcast,” a new venture between New America and “Passcode,” the Christian Science Monitor ‘s cybersecurity section. The hosts are Peter Singer, author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know and Sara Sorcher, editor of “Passcode.” The style of the podcast is conversational, a discussion of new and key trends with cyber thinkers and leaders, who’ll range from business to media to technologists. The guests on the first episode are Shane Harris, author of the book @War , and Lt General Edward Cardon, commander of U.S. Army’s Cyber Command. 

Thoughts On Shaping The Information Age Military: Hackers Cannot Be Mass Produced

APRIL 1, 2015

The U.S. Army Signal Corps is designed according to a traditional military recruiting, training, and manning structure. A foundational assumption is that most Signal work can be performed by semi-skilled Privates, under the supervision of skilled Sergeants, and that the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), Signal Officer, and Warrant Officer plans and supervises operations from the Battalion and Brigade-level. Most Signal tasks are at “Skill Level 1” and can be satisfactorily taught to anyone during Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Gordon, Georgia.


March 31, 2015

Swarming with a large number of low-cost autonomous systems can be useful for a wide range of applications in warfare, and the U.S. military should move to harness the advantages of this approach. But so will others. While swarming provides numerous opportunities to expand U.S. combat effectiveness by enabling greater range, persistence, daring, mass, coordination, intelligence, and speed on the battlefield, it may be enemy swarms that are the real game-changer.

Air Force: We Must Invent the Future

MARCH 31, 2015 

To keep its technological edge, the vice chief says, the service must invest in femtosecond data transfer, Mach-8 aircraft, and more.

During his remarks at a U.S. Air Force Academy commencement in June 1963, President John F. Kennedy said, “For some of you will travel where no man has ever traveled before. Some of you will fly the fastest planes that have ever been built, reach the highest altitudes that man has ever gone to, and lift the heaviest payloads of any aviator in history. Some of you will hold in your hands the most awesome destructive power which any nation or any man has conceived.”

A Strategy for Future Victory: Institutionalizing SOF-CF Interdependence

COL Michael R. Fenzel and COL Joseph G. Lock

Sun Tzu suggested that although it was easy to see the tactics by which he conquered armies, it was substantially more difficult to see the strategy from which his victories evolved. The tactical success of our special operations forces (SOF) and conventional forces (CF) are chronicled by Green Berets and conventional Soldiers alike through well over a decade of continuous conflict from Iraq to Afghanistan. An honest appraisal of where the most significant progress in warfare was made during this unprecedented period in our military history would mark the close interaction between our two warrior communities as one of the largest leaps forward. We conclude that achieving success in future conflicts will demand an interdependent strategy. Yet despite the clear need to move in this direction, there is a growing institutional tendency to return to our “tribes” and train together infrequently as the current wars come to an end. The tactics that are individually applied in combat by both communities must give way to an institutionalized strategy to leverage the other’s inherent strengths and promote SOF-CF interdependence beyond the requirements of our current fight. Continuing this evolution of collaboration demands a more concerted and structured effort.