17 May 2015

Modi talks to China looking Straight into Her Eyes

16 May , 2015

Days before the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to leave for China on a three-day state visit, India formally registered a protest against the recently signed $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Chinese envoy in Delhi was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and an objection was lodged over the project.

India has also expressed its concerns about China routing its corridor through Kashmir, but President Xi Jingping had dismissed these objections, describing the economic corridor as “a commercial project.”

Going by the past record this was a little unusual. It appeared India was more confident and well prepared to negotiate all aspects; bilateral, regional and multilateral issues from a relative position of strength.

Mr Modi has been the only Prime Minister of India to visit Arunanchal so many times in over a year and the February 2015 visit being the latest in the series. Narendra Modi government has also extended overt cordial gestures to Tibetan Government in exile unlike any other Prime Minister in the past irking the Chinese. This prompted adverse comments in Chinese media virtually highlighting the nervousness, somewhere, arising out of an assertive and a strong Indian Prime Minister.

Will Afghanistan and Pakistan Jointly Fight the Taliban?

May 16, 2015

A recent high-level bilateral meeting might indicate that Islamabad and Kabul have put their old differences aside.

This week, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to deepen cooperation on defense and security issues during a bilateral meeting that took place in Kabul.

Ever since his inauguration in September 2014, Ashraf Ghani has worked hard to improve relations with Pakistan. It was his initiative to invite a senior-level Pakistani delegation to Kabul that, aside from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, included Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar, the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The main topic of discussion was the possibility of joint operations against Taliban insurgents and deeper cooperation in combatting regional terrorism. Pakistan’s Prime Minister was at pains to emphasize that both countries are fighting the same enemy. “I assure you, Mr President, that the enemies of Afghanistan cannot be friends of Pakistan,” he told reporters during a press conference in Kabul, according to The Guardian. “Any effort by any militant or group to destabilise Afghanistan will be dealt with severely and such elements will be outlawed and hunted down.”

Rana Banerji: Pulls, pressures and the Pakistan Army

Rana Banerji 

The recent postings and promotions of three-star generals in the Pakistan Army have propelled some of former chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's favourites to traditionally important positions

The recent promotions of three-star generals in the Pakistan Army went almost unnoticed, except for a small disclosure on the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) website on April 9, 2015, but they indicate an interesting course correction that may alter the succession stakes when General Raheel Sharif's term as chief concludes in November, 2016.

Sharif's first reshuffle of senior lieutenants general last year had seen Lt General Zubair Mohd Hayat, an artillery officer being sent to replace the famed Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Kidwai as director-general, Strategic Plans Directorate (SPD). Earlier chiefs had not disturbed Kidwai, as he enjoyed great prestige in the West as someone who had introduced a fairly secure system of checks and balances in Pakistan's nuclear control hierarchy, a welcome respite from the lax days of A Q Khan.

There may have been a design to this move. Hayat was perceived as Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's choice to head the army down the line. He had been Kayani's director-general of staff earlier. When Sharif moved him out of the 31 Corps, Bahawalpur command after he had done barely 10 months there, many believed he was being side-tracked to make way for Sharif favourites, Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt General Ishfaq Nadeem and newly promoted Director-General, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Rizwan Akhtar, in the succession stakes for next chief.

Pakistani Military Launches Offensive Against Taliban in North Waziristan

May 15, 2015

Pakistani troops on Friday began a “massive” offensive to try to push the Taliban from their last major stronghold in the mountainous northwestern region of North Waziristan, moving in from north and south, officials and residents said.

The heavily forested ravines of the Shawal Valley are pockmarked with Taliban hideouts and the valley itself is a key smuggling route into neighbouringAfghanistan.

Pakistani jets began bombing the valley in the early hours, killing between six and 15 militants, four intelligence sources told Reuters.

“It is a massive military action against the Taliban militants and their allies in the Shawal mountains,” said a government official who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about military operations.

The Pakistani Taliban controlled almost all of North Waziristan until troops launched a long-awaited offensive there in June. The Taliban still maintain control of Shawal Valley and have used it as a launching pad for attacks on Pakistani forces.

Bin Laden, War Crimes and Gray Areas

By Noah Feldman

We'll probably never know the accuracy of all the details in Seymour Hersh’s alternative account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. But Hersh’s version has enough verisimilitude that it calls for reconsidering what has always been the most troubling legal question, even under the official version of the event: Was the shooting of bin Laden proportionate and therefore justified under international law? Or was it, to put the matter bluntly, a war crime?

Recall that, when the White House first broke the story, it incorrectly stated that bin Laden had been reaching for an AK-47 when he was shot. Were that true, the killing would have been legal under the U.S. interpretation of international law. Since Congress had declared war on al-Qaeda after Sept. 11, bin Laden was a combatant -- and it's permissible to shoot an armed combatant in wartime. True, you have to accept that the struggle against al-Qaeda is really a war, and that the battlefield extends to the whole world -- propositions that many non-American international lawyers dispute. But at least within theofficial U.S. version of the laws of war, the killing would not have been problematic.

Karachi’s Deadly Unrest

Despite considerable rhetoric and months of effort, the operations Pakistani paramilitary forces have been carrying out in Karachi still appear to be far short of bring peace to the port city. On Wednesday, six gunmen armed with sophisticated weapons gunned down at least 43 people and wounded 13 others in a busy market in the city. The attackers were able to flee unhurt from the scene.

The attackers opened fire inside a bus carrying members of the Ismaili community, a sub-sect of Shiite Muslims known for their liberal views. In the wake of the attack came chaos, as mobs took out their anger on local police.

Hundreds of men, women and children took to the streets, blaming Pakistan’s paramilitary forces and police for not targeting Jundullah, which claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. Jundullah is a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, allegedly based in a Pakistani tribal area and Quetta. According to senior Pakistani journalist Umar Farooq, Jundullah has very strong links with the Islamic State (IS), pledging allegiance in a November 2014 video message.

US embassy cables: Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists raise funds in Saudi Arabia


2. (SBU) In May 2009, legal representatives for 1267-listed entity Jamaat-ud-Dawah (identified by the UN 1267 Committee as an alias for Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, permanent reference number QE.L.118.05) and its leader, Muhammad Saeed (permanent reference number QI.S.263.08) petitioned on their clients behalf for delisting via the UN focal point. The focal point, which was established in the UN Secretariat pursuant to UNSCR 1730 to allow listed individuals/entities (or their representatives) to petition directly for de-listing, forwarded the de-listing request on behalf of JUD and Saeed for review to the USG (designating state) and to the Government of Pakistan (state of citizenship/residence/incorporation). The USG and GOP have had three months to review the de-listing petition. We have completed our review and plan to notify the UN focal point on August 25 of our opposition to de-listing. Before doing so, we would like to take this opportunity to: -- share the results of our review of the de-listing petition for JUD and Muhammad Saeed with Pakistani officials; -- seek GOP views on the request; -- underscore our ongoing concern over the threat posed by LeT/JUD and Saeed; -- ask Pakistani officials to update us on actions taken to impose UN 1267 sanctions on LeT/JUD and Saeed.

Budgets and Bullets: Taking Stock of Afghanistan’s Security Forces

By Anthony H. Cordesman, John Sopko 

Statement for the Record: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko 

On May 13, 2015, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Mr. John Sopko, spoke at CSIS for the roll-out of the new Quarterly Report to Congress on the Status of the U.S. Reconstruction Effort in Afghanistan. The event was hosted and moderated by CSIS Alreigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Anthony Cordesman.

With a $62 billion investment in the development of Afghanistan's security institutions, and billions more expected to be appropriated every year for the foreseeable future, Special Inspector General Sopko discusses the current capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces and their prospects for long-term sustainability. His discussion focuses on SIGAR observations and audit work that call into question certain long-standing assumptions about Afghan forces, including whether current ANSF personnel numbers are accurate.


May 12, 2015 

ISLAMABAD: Two former senior Pakistan military officials told AFP on Tuesday that a ‘defector’ from country’s intelligence agency did assist the US in its hunt for Osama bin Laden but denied the two countries had officially worked together.

The officials’ accounts came after the publication of a controversial news report by US journalist Seymour Hersh in which he claimed to have uncovered a ‘secret deal’ between Washington and Islamabad that reportedly resulted in the killing of Al-Qaeda chief in 2011.

The White House has flatly rejected Hersh’s claims that Pakistan was told in advance about the May 2 special forces raid in Abbottabad.

A source – who was a serving senior military official at the time of the raid – told AFP that the defector was a “resourceful and energetic” mid-ranking intelligence officer whose efforts were critical to the operation’s success.

Hersh’s report quoted a senior US source as saying a “walk-in” approached the then-Islamabad station chief for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2010 promising to lead them to bin Laden, who according to the journalist had been imprisoned by Pakistani authorities at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.

A People on the Brink

Driving through Sittwe, the dusty provincial capital of Rahkine state in northwest Burma, you notice a small poster affixed to nearly every shop and home. In English these signs read “white card,” and they alert anyone passing by that the building’s occupant sides with recent government efforts to prevent Burma’s most threatened ethnic and religious minority group, the Rohingya, from participating in the upcoming national elections. Most of Burma’s Rohingya are, in fact, stateless, and “white card” refers to the special identity documents issued to them by the government in lieu of the papers held by Burmese citizens. A few months ago officials decided that white card holders would not be allowed to participate in the national vote scheduled for this fall — effectively excluding the overwhelming majority of Rohingya.

As you drive on, the cacophony of bustling markets and careening tuk-tuks gradually gives way to the quiet of unpaved jungle roads and, eventually, a makeshift barbed wire roadblock that now separates nearly 150,000 Rohingya from the outside world. My Buddhist driver, from the state’s majority Rahkine ethnic group, refused to take me past the fence line into one of the world’s largest collections of internment camps — an implicit acknowledgement that he didn’t feel safe proceeding into a Rohingya community. Similarly, on the other side, my Rohingya guide refused to try to leave, too fearful of the consequences of being found outside the camps. “They just want us all to go away,” was the best explanation one camp dweller could give for his three years of internment.

Dredging For Disaster

BEIJING — Tensions are rising in the South China Sea. On May 16, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Beijing, for talks which will likely focus on the territorial disputes. But China’s controversial effort to assert its sovereignty in the South China Sea is not only antagonizing its neighbors and the United States: it’s destroying the a precious coral reef ecosystem, and the Chinese agency charged with protecting it seems curiously unmoved to stop the damage.

Since 2014, Beijing has been engaged in a series of “reclamation” projects in the waters of the South China Sea, expanding islands and constructing landing strips on the coral reefs and rock formations that make up island chains, like the contested Spratly Islands. Through this so-called “great wall of sand” operation, Beijing hopes to assert a permanent claim to these specks of rock and coral and, ultimately, the vast majority of the sea itself. And the project is picking up speed. In April, Foreign Policy reported on a set of new satellite images showing that China had built out roughly 3,000-feet of a 10,000 foot runway on the Fiery Cross reef, a part of the Spratlys in the sea’s southern reaches.

Indian Prime Minister Modi visits China

Tanvi Madan | May 13, 2015

Later this week, when Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet in China, they’ll be representing more than one third ofhumanity. The countries they lead have two of the largest economies and militaries in the world, are among the fastest growing global energy consumers, and have economies that are expected to grow at about 7 percent this year. There’s a reason the two are called Asian giants—and whether or not they get along, and how they do, has implications beyond their region.

Their relationship has had elements of cooperation, competition and, potentially, conflict. And, as Modi goes to China, his attempt will be to enhance cooperation, reduce asymmetries, manage competition, and deter conflict. This piece lays out the following: 
India’s relationship with China 

The Modi government’s approach towards China over the last year 
The forthcoming visit 

A ‘New’ Philippine Naval Base Near the South China Sea?

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the Philippine armed forces chief had said in an interview that the construction of a new naval base opposite the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea was “a top priority.”

Plans for constructing a base in Oyster Bay in Palawan – located around 100 miles from the Spratly Islands – date back years and were first publicly announced back in 2013. But the renewed urgency recently expressed by General Gregorio Catapang, Jr., the head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), makes sense given Manila’s alarm about China’s behavior in the South China Sea. China is currently carrying out rapid land reclamation activities in seven reefs and recently warned Philippine air force and navy planes at least six times to leave areas around the Spratlys in the past week. It has also refused to participate in the case the Philippines filed against it with the arbitral tribunal at The Hague. As Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario recently put it in remarks earlier this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, from Manila’s perspective, “we must do something quickly.”


Doug Bernard

WASHINGTON -As the World Wide Web has evolved and grown more complicated, so have the tools and techniques of cyber-espionage and military action.

Perhaps nowhere is this evolution more clearly seen than in China’s recently disclosed “Great Cannon” and its similarities to a tool reportedly possessed by the United States known as “QUANTUM.”

Depending on how they are wielded, both can serve as a high-tech tool for spies, intimidating weapons of cyberassault, or a combination of both, analysts say.

In March, the operators of GitHub – a popular site among software developers – noticed something unusual. Two open-source project sites on GitHub, both aimed at circumventing Chinese censorship of the Web, were under a heavy and sustained DDoS attack.

The attack itself wasn’t all that surprising: the hosted sites GreatFire and a mirror copy of the New York Times in Mandarin had long been irritants to Chinese cyber officials. What was different this time is that much of the traffic appeared to be coming from computers outside the Great Firewall – many within the U.S., they said.

ISIS's 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War

Daniel R. DePetris
May 16, 2015

From a pure military standpoint, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has taken a significant pounding from the air over the past nine months. Indeed, ever since President Barack Obama authorized U.S. military airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria on August 8, 2014 — a decision that was originally justified by the White House on the grounds of saving the ethnic Yazidi community from being wiped out in an act of genocide — the terrorist group has lost considerable military hardware and manpower. As of May 8, according to Central Command headquarters, U.S. and coalition aircraft havedestroyed 6,278 ISIL-related targets— a full nine months since the air campaign was initiated.

These targets include, but are certainly not limited to: heavy weaponry captured by retreating Iraqi and Syrian government soldiers on the battlefield; ISIL fighting positions, checkpoints, and convoys; transportation; communications infrastructure; leadership; and oil refineries used by the organization to sell stolen Iraqi oil on the black market. Over 77 tanks alone have been taken off the battlefield by coalition aircraft, an achievement that has no doubt diminished ISIL’s ability to expand into new territory against opponents who may find themselves outgunned and undermanned.

Why Are Chinese and Russian Ships Prowling the Mediterranean?

MAY 15, 2015

Why Are Chinese and Russian Ships Prowling the Mediterranean? 

On May 11, nine ships from the Russian Navy and China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) kicked off 10 days of combined exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, for their first joint naval war games in European waters. What does this nautical confab, dubbed “Joint Sea 2015,” entail? “Maritime defense, maritime replenishment, escort actions, joint operations to safeguard navigation security as well as real weapon firing drill,” according to Sr. Col. Geng Yansheng, a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry. The aim of the exercises is to “further deepen friendly and practical interaction between the two countries,” maintained the Russian Defense Ministry. Moscow added that the drills “are not aimed against any third country.”

The strange trip of China’s first aircraft carrier: And what it says about Beijing’s naval ambitions.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia: Why the Saudi King Snubbed President Obama

Robert W. Jordan
May 13, 2015

Robert W. Jordan is Diplomat in Residence and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003. His memoir, Desert Diplomat: Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11, will be published by Potomac Books in July 2015. 

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has declined an invitation to participate in President Barack Obama’s Gulf summit meeting in Camp David this week. Both the United States and Saudi Arabia are working to minimize the fallout from this decision, but from the Saudi standpoint, this summit does not hold much attraction. Only two other heads of the Gulf states are attending. Two are in poor health, but the other non-attendees may be following Riyadh’s lead. Some of this reticence may derive from a festering series of policy disagreements that contribute to seriously frayed relations with the Gulf monarchies. 

Why Shell Won’t be Producing in the Arctic Anytime Soon


Obama's decision to open Alaskan waters to oil drilling infuriated environmental groups, but low prices and high costs could push back operations for years.

The Obama administration’s decision to let Shell back into Alaskan waters opens the door to eventual full-scale Arctic oil exploration. But it also opens up the White House to howls of anger from green groups concerned that Obama’s move poses serious potential risks to the environment despite the president’s repeated promises to mount a serious fight against climate change.

The decision Monday to authorize Shell to search for oil in the Chukchi Sea, off the northwestern tip of Alaska, marks a return to icy waters for a company whose last polar foray in 2012 ended in fiasco. If it can overcome a host of economic, technical, and logistical challenges, Shell could find huge rewards in the oil-rich Arctic — with potentially big implications for other companies and countries, such as Russia, who are banking on offshore Arctic production to offset declining output at onshore fields.

What Is Left of the Ukrainian Navy Gathers Rust in Odessa Harbor

May 14, 2015

Odessa (Ukraine) (AFP) - A clutch of rusty old naval boats bob about mournfully in the Black Sea off the harbour of Ukraine’s southern city Odessa near an ageing missile boat.

“The only way to get those pieces of junk moving is to get some paddles and start rowing,” an officer says derisively.

Close by floats the remaining flagship, the Getman Sagaidachniy frigate named after a 17th century military leader – where sailors live cheek-by-jowl in cramped living quarters.

These are the sad remnants of Ukraine’s navy.

Already in a sorry state after years of corruption and neglect, the force was eviscerated when Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March last year.

Moscow snatched the pride of the fleet which was moored in its strategic ports, and convinced thousands of sailors to jump ship.

“It was a tragedy for our navy”, officer Vitaliy Martynyuk, who was studying in the Crimean city of Sevastopol at the time of the annexation, says dejectedly.

What Would You Do to Save Paris?

Imagine you found out that a plague was going to wipe out the entire population of Paris tomorrow—all 10 million people. Obviously you would want the world to do everything possible to save their lives.

The stakes are just as high in global health. Over the next 15 years, for example, the world can prevent 10 million people from dying of tuberculosis:

Although it is on a different time scale as saving Paris tomorrow, morally it is the same.

After the Swaggering Celebrations, a ‘Now What?’ Moment for Russia

The Victory Day parade on the Red Square in Moscow last Saturday (May 9) was a glorious and perfectly smooth affair, which duly filled the hearts of millions of Russians with habitual pride for the military might of the country. President Vladimir Putin basked in the role of Commander-in-Chief but was unusually soft in his address, mentioning only briefly the “attempts at building a unipolar world.” He expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom, France and the United States for their contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany and pointed to the historical meeting of the Soviet and US allied troops on the Elbe (Newsru.com, May 9). Nevertheless, the tense militaristic atmosphere of the celebration was quite different from ten years ago, when Putin warmly greeted the veterans while standing together with US President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.

Protecting US Security By Minimizing The Role Of Nuclear Weapons: A New US Nuclear Policy

May 14, 2015

Nuclear weapons remain the most potent destructive force known to humanity. Yet, US nuclear policies and doctrines remain encumbered by Cold War beliefs in the potential utility of nuclear weapons, even though the United States enjoys a dominant geopolitical position in the world, underpinned by a conventional military superiority greater than any ever known before. These false hopes that nuclear weapons can play a range of political and military roles in US security policy cause the United States to mistakenly pursue a nuclear strategy that is costly — not only in material terms, but also in geopolitical terms. In the worst case scenarios, this strategy could be catastrophic in terms of human lives and the nation’s future. The overarching goal of US nuclear policy and strategy should be to seek to minimize the roles played by these weapons, both in our own policies and in the policies of all other nations.

The United States enjoys conventional military superiority over every other nation in the world. As a result, in all situations in which military instruments are relevant means of defending American interests, conventional armed forces are the preferred means of protecting those interests. For the United States, the only role of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on the US and its allies. These weapons provide no military or political advantage for the United States against any other threat. In addition, any use of nuclear weapons, no matter how limited, would end the longstanding taboo on their use and make devastating nuclear wars more likely. Consequently, US political and military strategy,



In terms of warhead numbers, the nuclear arms race may
 be over. But massive weapons upgrades now underway challenge the entire disarmament regime.

In the early decades of the Cold War, NATO made arrangements to bury what were known as atomic demolition munitions (in essence, nuclear mines) at key points in West Germany, to be detonated if Warsaw Pact forces ever invaded. Although this plan, if enacted, might have slowed the enemy advance, it also almost certainly would have turned vast West German territories into radioactive wastelands littered with corpses and smoldering buildings—the stuff of hellish alternative-
history scenarios. The West viewed such tactical nukes—NATO fielded 7,000 to 8,000 of these shorter-
range, smaller-yield weapons for most of the Cold War—as tripwires in anticipation of the Soviet Union’s own Strangelovian plans for its thousands of tactical weapons. That is to say, the forward positioning of these nukes was a signal: If the Soviet Union invaded Europe, confrontation would escalate quickly to the nuclear realm, and the United States would intervene. 



70 years after Hiroshima, scientists still don’t truly understand the health risks of radiation.

At 6:45 a.m. on March 1, 1954, the earth rumbled beneath 10-year-old Jalel John’s feet as she stood on Ailuk Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Above her, half the sky turned strange colors. She remembers, in particular, the reds—the uncanny shades of red. 

Within six minutes, a mushroom cloud reached 130,000 feet overhead, pulling with it the pulverized coral of islands. Left behind was a crater that measured more than a mile wide and 250 feet deep, vast enough to be visible from space. Some 350 miles away from the blast, John experienced the largest thermonuclear explosion that the U.S. military would ever detonate, a test known as Castle Bravo. (It reached a yield of 15 megatons; in layman’s terms, that’s 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped over Hiroshima.) 

Then came the fallout. 

At around noon, a white, powdery substance began to drift down from the sky—first onto Rongelap Atoll, some 100 miles east of the explosion, and then onto Utirik Atoll, 300 miles away from the blast. On Ailuk, where John lived, a fine fog filled the air, finally settling on the earth and the atoll’s enclosed lagoon. 

Nukes Or Conventional Weapons? Buy The Ones We Use


As the House and Senate gear up for votes in the coming days to fund the Defense Department, lawmakers are set to support a bow wave of costly nuclear weapons programs increasingly at odds with the needs of U.S. troops and the future threats that dominate their agenda.

Notably for a president who famously championed nuclear disarmament, the Obama administration’s plans to beef up the nation’s nuclear arsenal exceed even that of President Reagan’s. But the cost does not come without compromise. Lawmakers must consider the very real choice between additional nuclear weapons spending and conventional weapons needs. Because the Pentagon cannot plan for every contingency, it must plan for the most conceivable future. In this case, that might mean a step back from nuclear weapons toward greater focus on those weapons we might actually use.

Decisions, Secrecy and Sclerosis: Why Email Is the Single Greatest Threat to National Security

To: Admiral X, CINCSTUFF
From: LTJG Kat Dransfield
BCC: North Korea, Iran, Google, Russia, Boris in Belarus
Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Subj: Decisions, Secrecy and Sclerosis: Why Email Is the Single Greatest Threat to National Security

Today, information is all around us. The proliferation of digital technologies and resultant data explosion does not simply affirm the efficacy of digital systems over their analog predecessors like letters, the telegraph, and carrier pigeons. Rather, the data revolution mandates a shift towards a world permeated and enabled by data in a whole new way. This requires a mindset shift that will have significant consequences, many of which are not readily apparent even to experts. From the emergence of digital currencies such as bitcoins, to personal technologies like Fit Bit, the intimate fusion of the digital with our physical and social experiences is an increasingly salient aspect of culture. We have a level of connection to data the like of which historically has been reserved for spouses and significant others.

Data and the digital world are nearly ubiquitous in the military and broader society. With so much data now readily available, data and the digital world have fundamentally altered and enhanced how humans arrive at evidence-based decisions. To adapt to this, conventional military decision-making models and technological practices should have been re-examined to leverage the untapped military potential hidden within our data stores. Although the growth in complexity and quantity of data analytic packages and modeling platforms HAS altered decision models in realms as disparate as weight management and finance, the Navy faces a glaring deficiency in this arena.


The Dumbing Down Of U.S. Intelligence; And, Why Metadata, And The ‘Haystack’ Matter — In Combating Terrorism And Protecting The U.S. Homeland – ‘You Need A Haystack….To Find A Needle’

The above is the title of an Op-Ed by Gordon Crovitz in the May 11, 2015 edition of The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Crovitz begins by noting that “FBI Director James Comey warned last week that the American Islamists who tried to assassinate free-speech advocates at a cartoon exhibition near Dallas, Texas…..are not alone. There are “hundreds, maybe thousands” of potential terrorists in the U.S. being inspired by overseas groups.” “The haystack is the entire country,” he said. “We are looking for needles; but, increasingly the needles are unavailable to us.”

“The needles will be even harder to find, if Congress weakens the Patriot Act, by reducing the intelligence available to national security,” and law enforcement agencies. “With the rise of the Islamic State and its global recruiting tools, intelligence agencies should be allowed to join the “big data” revolution,” Mr. Crovitz wrote.

“Edward Snowden’s data theft raised privacy alarms; but, by now — it’s clear that no one working for the National Security Agency (NSA), leaked confidential data — other than Snowden himself,” Mr. Crovitz correctly observes. “He evaded the 300 lawyers and compliance officers who monitor how NSA staff use data.”

The Accidental Counterinsurgent

A SWJ discussion with Emma Sky, the author of the just published book “The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq”, Public Affairs, 2015.

Octavian Manea

SWJ: What prepared you for this Gertrude Bell kind of journey, for the role of the accidental counterinsurgent operating in a field where 80% is about politics (as Galula would remind us), doing a job where you had to “be more of a missionary than a soldier” (as one officer said)?

Emma Sky: When I went out in Iraq, the first time in 2003, I was not at all read or versed in counterinsurgency. It was not something that I was interested in or thought about, I had never worked with militaries. My background was in development and I had spent a decade working in Israel and Palestine and when you work in development and conflict mediation, people are very much at the center of what you do. The way I framed things had more to do with how the environment shapes people’s behavior. I think we are all products of our environments. If you change the environment, people’s behavior will change. This is the background that I came with. Everybody you meet, how you treat them, will affect whether they are your friend or your enemy. This is generally my approach to life.

No Need to Sweat a Chinese Military Base in Djibouti

By Kevin Wang
May 16, 2015

A recent report that China is negotiating the opening of a military base in the East African country of Djibouti is certain to prompt speculation among Western nations, particularly the United States, which already have troops in the strategic regional hub. The move is certainly worth attention, but any alarm is premature.

The news, if true, is a good indication of China’s growing confidence in projecting its military – particularly its fledgling navy – beyond its Pacific comfort zone. It is also an indicator of the Asian giant’s ambition to expand its presence in a region that is at the forefront of global conflicts and interests, where great powers jockey for influence.

At a Monday press briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not directly confirm the news, but said China is willing to contribute more to protecting regional peace and stability along with Djibouti and other countries.

Here's What Makes Rogue Nuclear States Really Dangerous

May 16, 2015

The North Koreans may have just executed their own defense minister for “disloyalty,” which in North Korea can mean anything. Whatever his crime, the regime must have wanted to make a point, since the minister was shot with an anti-aircraft gun in front of hundreds of spectators. (Think of what a weapon meant to down a plane does to a human body.) On the other hand, some claim that he may not have actually been killed as all. As usual, then, no one seems to know what’s going on in North Korea. Was the defense minister a proponent of peace, or an advocate of war? Was he in the nuclear chain of command? Who knows?

“Who’s in charge here” is never a question anyone should have to ask about a nuclear-armed state. The issue of command and control is central to the question of what to do about a nuclear-armed rogue state like North Korea (and soon, Iran). When it comes to war and peace, international stability relies on a certain amount of transparency, especially when it comes to authority over the use of nuclear weapons.

B-1 ‘Misspeak’ Highlights Australia’s China-US Balancing Problem

By Helen Clark
May 15, 2015

The U.S. walks back a bomber basing announcement, but it still underscores Australia’s tricky diplomatic position.

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed the U.S. will not be stationing some of its B-1 aircraft in Darwin, where U.S. troops are based. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Shear told a Congressional hearing Wednesday that the nation would be sending its B-1s to Australia to counter China’s effect in the region. The Pentagon has since said he misspoke. China’s reaction has been predictably swift.

Chinese Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a conference in Beijing, “We demand the relevant side talk and act cautiously and not take any actions that are risky or provocative to maintain regional peace and stability.” China asked, she said, for a “clarification about this.”

Doctrine in Civil-Military Relations

16 May , 2015

Supervision of doctrine making is one way by which civilian control is exercised over the military. Military doctrine writing is largely done within the military. However, it is to be in close coordination with the Ministry and national security institutions. This is clear from the fact that, firstly, military doctrines are based on the government’s strategic doctrine; secondly, the civilian part of government has to have a sense of ownership of the doctrine by being part of the process; and, finally, military doctrines must receive ministerial imprimatur to signify that they are outcome of a shared process and responsibility.

Since conventional military doctrines have to be cognizant of the civilian led nuclear doctrine, they cannot be without reference to civilian expertise in the national security establishment.

As for the first, the fact that India does not have a strategic doctrine in the form of a white paper or an open-domain strategic defence review is well known. While the National Security Advisory Board does undertake defence review, it is not within the pail of government. As seen when it released the Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, the government indicated that it is merely advisory. As for the second -civilian participation in doctrine making – it is not self-evidently the case in India. And, the last – governmental ownership – can be assumed from the press statements that accompany release of doctrine.

SASC Pushes Bold Changes To Buy ‘Game-Changing’ Weapons Faster


CAPITOL HILL: In a bold attempt to fix the Pentagon’s creaking system to develop and buy weapons, the Senate Armed Services Committee today introduced broad changes to who controls weapons programs and tried to encourage Silicon Valley and other non-defense industries to help maintain the country’s global technological and military dominance.

This is the beginning of a major push by the committee that will extend over several years at least. Sen. John Mccain signaled just how important are the proposed changes at his press conference about the markup . “It’s a reform bill,” he said. “The major provisions in this bill, very frankly, are not about how much we added or subtracted to a given weapon system. It’s all about reform, and we’ve got to reform: Otherwise we will lose whatever little confidence remains on the part of the American taxpayer that their tax dollars spent on defense are spent wisely.”

Mattis: U.S. Suffering ‘Strategic Atrophy’

By: John Grady

Because the United States lacks a global strategy, “volatility is going to get to the point that chaos threatens,” a former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander told a Heritage Foundation audience Wednesday.

Speaking in Washington, D.C., retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said, “the perception is we’re pulling back” on America’s commitment to its allies and partners, leaving them adrift in a changing world. “We have strategic atrophy.”

He said Russia’s military moves against its neighbors—taking Crimea and backing separatists in Ukraine is “much more severe, more serious” than Washington and the European Union are treating it.

The nationalist emotions that Russian President Vladimir Putin has stirred up will make it “very, very hard [for him or his successors] to pull back from some of the statements he has made” about the West. At the same time, Putin faces problems of his own with jihadists inside Russia’s borders that threaten domestic stability.

Russia’s Road to nonlinear war: Cold War, 1979-Present

“Unrestricted war is a war that surpasses all boundaries and restrictions. It takes nonmilitary forms and military forms and creates a war on many fronts. It is the war of the future.” — Colonel Qiao Liang and Colonel Wang Xiangsui, Unrestricted War, Beijing, 1998.

The “Gerasimov Doctrine” contains particular similarities to the Chinese doctrine outlined in Unrestricted Warfare, published in 1999, and historical roots in previous Russian doctrine. Both strategies involve using proxies or surrogates to not only exploit vulnerabilities in low intensity conflict, but to also prepare for future operations that may involve high intensity conflict. Other strategies involve applying both low- and high-tech asymmetrical means, and also engaging in several forms of warfare. For example,Unrestricted Warfare describes 13 forms of “total war”1 and methods to consciously mix “cocktails” on the battlefield, or to employ combinations of forms of warfare to find innovative and effective approaches. In Ukraine, the notion of consciously “mixing cocktails” to produce effective nonlinearstrategies highlights the unpredictable effects that these approaches may have on the organs of government. Regardless of the particular nonlinear strategies applied, destabilization and exploitation of vulnerabilities are the result. Therefore, the assessment tool for this article is the effective application of warfare combinations in four categories to reach specific long-term political outcomes.

The Human Dimension: Taking Innovation to the Individual and Leader Level

By Aaron W. Childers

In January, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work discussed the necessity of innovation to counter three major challenges to American security: the rise of ISIS, the Russian incursion into Ukraine, and the military growth of China. The deputy secretary’s discussion comes at a time when, by summer 2015, the US Army will be at its lowest troop level since before World War II. 

Given current adversaries and the changing nature of the world we live in today, the US Army needs to embrace Secretary Work’s advice on the need for innovation.[1] For the US Army, the answer is not a new piece of equipment, but a renewed focus on education and leader development. The US Army already has a blueprint for how to improve innovation in its leadership—the “Human Dimension” program, which involves novel research on how humans think and learn, developing better training for Soldiers and leaders.[2] If funded, the projects in the Human Dimension will constitute a complete shakeup of Army education, leader development, and unit training. This is not another combat system; it is an innovative process for getting the most out of leaders that are already struggling to do more with less.

The Human Dimension addresses three main concerns. First, the talent developed during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is bleeding out of the force. If troop cuts are inevitable, then we should downsize the right people and train others to fill the void. Second, building adaptive leaders requires smarter training and education. This goes beyond current practices and focuses more on individual cognitive ability. Third, leader education must evolve to produce innovative leaders.

We know how to strike, but can we achieve victory? A Primer on the American Way of War in the 20th & 21st centuries

Iraqi T-54A destroyed during Desert Storm coalition airstrike, Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons 

Diane Maye is a former Air Force officer, defense industry professional, and academic. She is a member of the Military Writers Guild, and a PhD candidate in Political Science at George Mason University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author. 

The U.S. military has been, without a doubt, innovative during the past century of warfare. Advances in technology have allowed the U.S. armed forces to become the most expeditionary, precise, and lethal force in the world. During the Cold War, the bulk of defense spending went towards countering the Soviet threat. In the end, the strategy was a success; the Soviet Union fell without direct confrontation. In the meantime, the U.S. military’s culture adapted to the political and economic realities of the Cold War. Although the Cold War has technically been over for 25 years, elements of that era’s defense culture have proven extremely resistant to change.

This essay analyzes the U.S. military’s evolution towards a predilection forlimited strike operations during the latter half of the 20th century and early 21st century. It then examines why American forces have proven so resistant (institutionally) to the complex requirements of “small” wars. This essay argues that the U.S. military has shown an institutional bias for limited strike warfare since the Vietnam War, which has negatively affected the U.S. armed forces’ ability to conduct counterinsurgency, counterrevolution, and stability operations on the ground today. Furthermore, it will seek to show that during the 1990's, recollections of the U.S. Air Force’s overwhelming victory over Iraq’s conventional defenses during Desert Storm, in conjunction with ‘revolutions’ in military technology provided the impetus for a military culture that believed airpower served to offer quick, decisive victories through strike operations.

The U.S. Navy Just Announced The End Of Big Oil And No One Noticed

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

Curiously, this doesn’t seem to be making much of a splash (no pun intended) on the evening news. Let’s repeat this: The United States Navy has figured out how to turn seawater into fuel and it will cost about the same as gasoline.

This technology is in its infancy and it’s already this cheap? What happens when it’s refined and perfected? Oil is only getting more expensive as the easy-to-reach deposits are tapped so this truly is, as it’s being called, a “game changer.”

I expect the GOP to go ballistic over this and try to legislate it out of existence. It’s a threat to their fossil fuel masters because it will cost them trillions in profits. It’s also “green” technology and Republicans will despise it on those grounds alone. They already have a track record of trying to do this. Unfortunately, once this kind of genie is out of the bottle, it’s very hard to put back in.

MAY 13, 2015 - 10:49 AM 

Just when you think that you’ve heard it all: I learned from General McChrystal’s new book that in early 2003, when McChrystal was on the Joint Staff, that Central Command, then led by Gen. Tommy R. Franks, “initially prohibited the Pentagon staffs from viewing their internal Web site out of a (common) fear of giving ‘higher headquarters visibility into unfinalized planning products.” 

McChrystal comments that, “Such absurdities reflect that most organizations are more concerned with how best to control information than how best to share it.” 

A book release with a more promising premise is hard to imagine: the inside story on the military’s elite Joint Special Operations Task Force adaptation in the War on Terror, reversing the outcome from failure to success. Moreover, the lessons learned from that experience can be applied to the leadership and management of any organization struggling to address the dynamic, complex environments of our globalized lives.