23 May 2015

Revealed: the British Pakistani brigadier at the centre of new Bin Laden death conspiracy

By Alia Waheed, and Colin Freeman

A UK-based former senior officer in the Pakistan Army has been accused of being a supergrass who sold the secret location of Osama bin Laden to the CIA.

Retired Brigadier Usman Khalid, a British citizen, has been named as the informant whose tip-off led to the assassination of the world’s most wanted man in 2011.

His family have told The Telegraph of their anger that their father - who died a year ago after living in London for 35 years - has been publicly identified as the source of the leak.

Coming to RIMPAC 2016: Taiwan?

Michal Thim
May 21, 2015

Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 that included a reference to a recent issue: China’s potential participation in 2016 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, a biannual multilateral exercise that mostly involves the US and its key allies. Other nations are invited but do not partake in major parts of the program. China was such a guest last year.

The amendment stipulates that if US Department of Defense invites Beijing to participate in RIMPAC, a similar invitation must be extended to Taiwan. Not surprisingly, the news was received well in Taiwan. David Lo, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry spokesperson, welcomed the amendment, and Taiwan-based Want China Times ran the headline ‘House passes clause to invite Taiwan to RIMPAC’.

China's Lethal Bombers Fly Over Japanese Strait

Zachary Keck
May 21, 2015

China’s Air Force conducted its first-ever drill in a strategic strait near Japan on Thursday.

According to China’s Ministry of National Defense, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAFF) conducted its first exercise over the Miyako Strait. PLAAF spokesperson Shen Jinke said that the drill aimed to “level up the PLA Air Force's mobility and combativeness.”

The press release on the Ministry of National Defense’s website stressed that the drill was not aimed at any country, and Shen was quoted as saying—according to the Shanghai Daily— that: “In line with international laws and practices, offshore drills by the PLA Air Force beyond the First Island Chain will proceed in consideration of actual situations.”

PLA Special Operations Forces: Organizations, Missions and Training

By: Dennis J. Blasko

People’s Liberation Army (PLA) special operations forces (SOF) are considered among the “new type” units receiving priority for development (Information Office of the State Council, April 16, 2013). With their roots in pre-existing reconnaissance units, the first PLA SOF units were formed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War (Guangming Online, February 24, 2012). By the end of the 1990s, each of the seven military regions was assessed to command an Army SOF or special reconnaissance group (dadui) with about 1,000 personnel. [1] Over the following 15 years, these units were expanded, additional Army SOF units formed (including a few small units composed of women), and new SOF units established in the Navy, the Air Force and the Second Artillery (PLA Daily, January 30).

No national-level special operations headquarters has been created to oversee all SOF activities, and no dedicated fleet of strategic, special-mission SOF delivery and support aircraft or ships is known to exist. Instead of being considered national-level strategic assets, most, if not all PLA SOF units, are commanded by operational or tactical headquarters. Though small numbers of the most capable SOF units may be tasked with a limited number of strategic-level missions deep behind enemy lines, the majority of PLA SOF operations would likely be conducted relatively close to and in support of larger conventional units in what most often resemble commando or reconnaissance missions.

“One Belt, One Road” Enhances Xi Jinping’s Control Over the Economy

By: Willy Lam

Much of the world’s interest in China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) strategy—a reference to the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR)—is focused on the geopolitical implications of one of the most ambitious initiatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Yet OBOR also has immense significance for the future direction of the economy, especially the partial revival of central planning as well as boosting the pivotal role of state-owned enterprise (SOE) conglomerates. Moreover, the intercontinental megaproject testifies to major shifts in Chinese elite politics. Power has further been concentrated in the hands of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi, as well as his cronies and advisors in the Party-state apparatus. Furthermore, Premier Li Keqiang and his relatively liberal ministers in the State Council, or central government, have been increasingly sidelined.

China and Sri Lanka: In Choppy Waters

Sino–Sri Lankan relations are in a state of flux. Bilateral relations, which had surged significantly during the rule of Sri Lanka’s former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa (2005–2015), are strained today. In January, Sri Lanka’s new President Maithripala Sirisena suspended the $1.4 billion Colombo Port City (CPC) project, a centrepiece of Beijing-Colombo bonding during Rajapaksa’s rule that China’s President Xi Jinping inaugurated just months earlier during his visit to the island in September last year.

In the run-up to the January presidential election, Sirisena had targeted the pro-China tilt in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy under Rajapaksa. He promised to establish “equal relations” between India, China, Pakistan and Japan. Without naming China, he criticized its role on the island over the past decade. Infrastructure projects built with loans from foreign countries were ensnaring Sri Lanka in a “debt trap,” his election manifesto said (Asian Mirror, December 19, 2014). Not surprisingly then, Sirisena’s victory in the election was widely interpreted in the Sri Lankan and international media as a “real setback for China” (Times of India, January 9 and Bloomberg, January 9). The suspension of the CPC project accentuated this perception and cast a shadow on other Chinese projects in Sri Lanka. It triggered debate in the Chinese and international media over the future of Chinese investment in the country (Caixin Online, March 10). Sri Lankan perception of China’s role on the island is changing, but how substantially will Sino-Sri Lankan relations change? Can Sri Lanka afford to antagonize China? Tough decisions lie ahead for the Sirisena government.

Plotting Against Beijing? US Holds Asian Military Summit, Excludes China

As the United States struggles to maintain influence in the South China Sea, it has pushed Pacific nations to assert themselves against Beijing. In that effort, Washington organized a gathering of military leaders from over 20 countries, specifically excluding China.

A first-of-its kind event, the United States hosted the PACOM Amphibious Leaders Symposium in Hawaii for Pacific nation commanders to discuss amphibious military capabilities. In attendance are representatives from Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and many others.

During the event, military leaders were flown aboard the USS Essex and given a demonstration of the US Marines amphibious assault capabilities.

"I don’t think China can match the complexity," said Martin Sebastian, head of the Maritime Institute of Malaysia, according to Reuters.

The Trouble With China's Infrastructure Plans in ASEAN

The governments and people of Southeast Asia must develop a strong sense of ownership and control over infrastructure projects as China increasingly directs its investments towards the region’s infrastructure.

China has pledged US$40 billion for its ‘New Silk Road Fund’ to strengthen transport networks in and between its neighbours. The Silk Road Economic Belt aims to connect China with Europe via Central Asia by land, while the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will facilitate the development of seaports and maritime connectivity in Southeast Asia and beyond. China also wants to make Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, the gateway to Southeast Asia through a high-speed railway network that will potentially extend through Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

India Hardens Stand On Boundary Issue With China – Analysis

By Brigadier Arun Sahgal, PhD (Retd)

There are multiple interpretations of Indian PM recent visit to China. Fundamentally while there has been significant movement on the economic side in terms of trade, investment and opening of markets, there has been little progress on major irritants impacting relations such as the boundary, water issue or the Chinese – Pakistan economic corridor passing through POK which India claims as its territory. There remains an unmistakable shadow of lack of mutual trust and unwillingness on the part of the Chinese to address any of these irritants. In fact during the visit an attempt was made to vitiate the atmosphere by showing an Indian map exclusive of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

The vast gulf in perceptions forced the Indian PM to highlight these differences twice during the visit. Once during the Joint Statement, which specifically states early settlement of the boundary question serves the basic interests of both countries and should be pursued as a strategic objective by the two governments. This was followed up during his address at Tsinghua University, by stressing the need to clarify the LAC as means to maintaining peace and tranquility on the borders. He emphasised that the non resolution of outstanding issues leads to hesitation, doubts and even distrust in our bilateral relationship.

Central Asia: India’s Northern Exposure

P. Stobdan
Monograph No. 44

It is time for India to reconnect with a rapidly-changing Central Asia—increasingly the focus of world attention, and rivalry among the great powers over security and energy stakes. India too has high stakes in Central Asia, and a cogent policy outlook is long overdue. Partition and the subsequent Pakistani occupation of parts of Kashmir led to a direct physical cut-off on India's northern flank. In reviving these links, India will find plenty of competition. Political uncertainty looms over the region, arising from the succession issues of its leaders. With the exception of Kyrgyzstan, the politics of Central Asia are unpredictable. The region is also the northern frontier of the Islamic world, hitherto unaffected by a fundamentalist wave. But behind the secular setting, a shift to a far more religious society is underway, and Central Asia is emerging as the next radical Islamic region. Chechnya, Ferghana, and Xinjiang, with their 100 million Salafi Muslims, could form a new arc of instability. Even the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has heavily recruited from Central Asia. Central Asians had for long considered India a legitimate stakeholder in the region. To move ahead, India needs strategic clarity. It requires out-of-the-box thinking to foster regional economic integration in the North—even if it means cooperating with China to enlarge regional connectivity and trade, rather than struggling to find a model for itself. India must quickly recognise the evolving changes, challenges, and opportunities in this region to avoid being relegated to the periphery of Eurasian politics.

The Iraqi Government Doesn’t Give a Damn About Anbar Province


The capture of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, is by far Iraq’s biggest defeat fighting Islamic State this year.

Local police and Anbari Sunni tribal fighters had long complained that Baghdad wasn’t keeping promises to support them. Islamic State forces laid siege to Ramadi for months, culminating in a May 17 triple suicide bombing and ground assault on the Anbar Operations Command headquarters in the city center.

Fleeing Iraqi army troops abandoned American-made equipment including several tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces. Islamic State carried out on-the-spot executions of suspected Sunni tribal fighters.

On May 19, the National Forces Union, a bloc of Sunni political parties in parliament, issued a statement blaming the government and calling for an investigation into the fall of Ramadi. It’s not in the end of the war by anymeans, but it’s still a catastrophe.

Baghdad’s immediate solution is to send thousands of Shia militiamen into Anbar, further escalating tensions. Many Anbaris — opposed to Islamic State and fearful of Shia militias — have fled to land controlled by the Kurds rather than Baghdad.

The Defeat in Ramadi: A Time for Transparency, Integrity, and Change

MAY 21, 2015 

photo courtesy of wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadi#/media/File:Al_Fateh_Grand_Mosque_June_2004.jpgOn Wednesday, a State Department official did something that the U.S. government has not done in years. They provided a meaningful and in-depth explanation of the course of the fighting in Ramadi. They also provide a realistic assessment of the problems the United States faced, the uncertainties in its plans for reacting, the fact it might take years to succeed, and the risks the United States now faced.

It makes a particularly striking contrast to the constant stream of vacuous spin the Department of Defense has issued on the war against ISIS – as well as Afghanistan and Yemen and had previously issued in reaction to the defeat in Ramada Briefings like “Dempsey: Iraqi Forces Not Driven From Ramadi, They Drove Out of Ramadi” and “ Centcom Officials ‘Confident’ Iraqi Security Forces Will Recover Ramadi.”

Or, the monumental lack of content and integrity in a much broader report by the new Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations called “Operation Inherent Resolve” – assigned to their disgrace by the Inspector Generals of State, DOD, and USAID.

U.S. Shifts Iraq Focus to Western Province

May 20, 2015

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is turning its focus in Iraq away from the northern city of Mosul toward the province west of Baghdad, where Islamic Statecaptured the key city of Ramadi over the weekend.

U.S. officials conceded on Wednesday that any hope of seizing military momentum in Iraq has been stalled by the Sunni militants’ takeover of the capital of Sunni-dominated Anbar Province. That has forced American officials to shift their plans.

“Everybody is focused like a laser on Anbar right now,” said a senior State Department official.

For months, U.S. officials had hoped to mount an offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest. But officials in Washington and elsewhere on Wednesday said that plan would have to take a back seat to Anbar.

Emrah and his Brothers: Germany's Struggle for the Soul of Returning Islamists

By Özlem Gezer

German Islamists are returning from war abroad, some reformed but others more dangerous than ever. Social workers, imams and extremists are fighting for their souls -- and for Germany's safety. Government officials have few answers to the problem.

When Emrah was furious at Germany, he used the name Schmitz and called the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). He said that al-Qaida was planning to attack the Reichstag, the German parliament building in Berlin. It was during the autumn of 2010, and Emrah was often making calls to Germany, his old home, which he had left to fight against. It was a fight for al-Qaida, against the West.

ISIS Captures Syrian City of Palmyra

Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad
May 20, 2015

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Islamic State militants swept into the desert city of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday, and by evening were in control of it, residents and Syrian state news media said, a victory that gives them another strategically important prize five days after the group seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

Palmyra has extra resonance, with its grand complex of 2,000-year-old colonnades and tombs, one of the world’s most magnificent remnants of antiquity, as well as the grimmer modern landmark of Tadmur Prison, where Syrian dissidents have languished over the decades.

But for the fighters on the ground, the city of 50,000 people is significantbecause it sits among gas fields and astride a network of roads across the country’s central desert. Palmyra’s vast unexcavated antiquities could also provide significant revenue through illegal trafficking.

Control of Palmyra gives the Islamic State command of roads leading from its strongholds in eastern Syria to Damascus and the other major cities of the populated west, as well as new links to western Iraq, the other half of its self-declared caliphate.

Here's How to Deal with North Korea

Terence Roehrig
May 22, 2015

Insecurity on the Korean Peninsula has once again spiked and this certainly won’t be the last time security concerns have increased there. Recently, North Korea allegedly tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), there isrenewed tension along the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the disputed maritime boundary between North and South Korea in the Yellow Sea, and Hyon Yong-chol, North Korea’s Minister of Defense was executed for disloyalty and falling asleep during a meeting. This last action, if confirmed, has raised a good deal of speculation on the stability of the Kim Jong-un regime. Once again, these events have generated anxiety in South Korea (ROK) and the United States and have revived the debate on how to “fix” the problem of North Korea.

Avoiding a New 'Cuban Missile Crisis' in Ukraine

Rajan Menon
May 22, 2015

Unlike in 1962, Russia has geography and national will on its side in Ukraine.

Fourteen months ago, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was run out of office by demonstrations sparked by his shelving of the “Association Agreement” with the EU. The accord had substantial support in western and central Ukraine, in particular, and Yanukovych’s decision to opt, instead, for a $13 billion loan from Moscow in exchange for joining the Russian-led Customs Union sealed his already-precarious fate. What the Maidan protestors and Western leaders praised as a people’s revolution, the Kremlin condemned as an “extra constitutional coup.” After Yanukovych’s fall came the (unconstitutional) March 16 Crimea referendum in which over 90 percent of the voters chose union with Russia. (Though the results were widely dismissed, over 80 percent of the respondents in a June Gallup poll opined that the outcome reflected popular sentiment in Crimea.) The Russian parliament then ratified a “Treaty on Accession,” the formalization of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula. That deepened the crisis: determined to emulate Crimea’s example, separatists soon took up arms in parts of Ukraine’s Donbass. Moscow proclaimed itself their patron.

The Economics of Deterring Russia

Ilan Berman
May 22, 2015

The United States and its allies should make it too expensive for Russia to continue its adventure in Ukraine.

When it comes to the prospects of war in Europe, perhaps we simply aren’t asking the right questions. For months now, Russia watchers within the Beltway and in European capitals have been preoccupied with anticipating the next moves of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the year-old conflict taking place in Ukraine.

But achieving a satisfactory answer to the question of what Russia might do has proven maddeningly elusive. This is because much of Moscow’s policies to date have been opportunistic in nature—driven by perceived Western weakness and divisions within the NATO alliance, rather than by a clearly defined end state on the part of the Russian government. Given this state of affairs, Western capitals should focus less on possible Russian actions, and more on how to constrain its potential for aggression.

Russia Prepares for Possible New Summer Military Campaign in Eastern Ukraine

By: Pavel Felgenhauer
May 21, 2015

Summer is the best time for major offensive military action in the Donbas region (Donetsk and Luhansk provinces) of eastern Ukraine. In the spring and autumn, long periods of bad weather turn unpaved roads and plains into a mud quagmire (Rasputitsa), seriously hampering troop maneuverability and logistic support. In 2014, intensive summer fighting in Donbas lasted until early September and ended with the so-called “Minsk One” ceasefire after a massive intervention of Russian regular troops stopped and reversed an offensive by Ukrainian government forces. A wobbly ceasefire, punctured by constant barrages and clashes, lasted until mid-January 2015, when the dirt froze and a full-scale winter campaign began. It effectively ended in mid-February 2015 with the so-called “Minsk Two” ceasefire and after Russia-backed forces captured the strategically important town of Debaltseve, northeast of Donetsk, routing the Ukrainians. A wobbly ceasefire followed, punctured by constant barrages and clashes. Attempts by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to solidify the present ceasefire, mediation efforts, as well as negotiations to revive the Minsk accords seem to have little effect. This week (May 20), Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of supporting the rebels and of direct involvement in the fighting after two wounded Russian special forces servicemen, allegedly from the 3rd separate guards Spetsnaz GRU (military intelligence) brigade, were captured north of Luhansk following a clash with Ukrainian forces. Poroshenko declared: “They are preparing an offensive, we must be ready” (Kommersant, May 20).

What’s Wrong With U.S. Foreign Policy?

Bryan Walsh

In this week’s issue—and at greater length in his new bookSuperpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World—TIME foreign affairs columnist Ian Bremmer diagnoses the drift that has afflicted U.S. foreign policy, and the desperate need for a new direction. Bremmer has a few ideas himself, but he also reached out to major figures in international business and government to ask them to complete this sentence: 

The biggest problem in American foreign policy today is…. 

“The growing trend toward isolationism given seemingly endless frustrations with the world.” —Admiral James G. Stavridis, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University 

“Maintaining domestic support for American underwriting of an open global system.” —Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary 

Pentagon Rhetoric About Ramadi’s Fall Risks U.S. Credibility

Mark Thompson

“We saw this movie—it was called Vietnam,” says Anthony Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general who began his career in that country in 1967, advising South Vietnamese marines. “They are losing credibility. We went through this in Vietnam where we touted pacification and winning all these battles while strategically losing the war.” 

The growing disconnect between what’s happening on the ground, and what U.S. military leaders say is happening on the ground, has consequences. “For the last 13 years, even though we have not done well in either Iraq or Afghanistan, the American people have stayed with the military,” Bing West, a one-time Marine infantryman and former assistant defense secretary, says. “But if the American people now see a gap between the reality and what the military is telling them, then you end up with the corrosiveness that we saw in Vietnam.” 

The Problems Foreign Powers Find in the Balkans

MAY 19, 2015 


Russia, Turkey and the West all share one rival in the Balkans: political instability. Located at the confluence of three historic empires, the strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea has long been the focus of competition among global powers. Now it is just one arena in the standoff between Russia and the West. Yet, with both sides attempting to buy influence with investments and energy projects, and with Turkey struggling to keep pace, internal political challenges threaten to undermine outside efforts to develop and shape the region. As major powers use their financial and political clout to gain influence in the Balkans, weak local governments will continue to balance among competing nations. 

Regional and world powers have paid an inordinate amount of attention to Balkan countries lately. On May 15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Serbia, just a few days after the Chair of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, met with Serbian leaders in Belgrade. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Bosnia-Herzegovina on May 20 — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan have paid similar visits in the past month. Western leaders have also demonstrated an interest in the region, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visiting Bulgaria in January, while high-ranking U.S. officials regularly visit Romania.


Giovanna Di Mauro
May 21, 2015

If limbo is defined as “an imaginary place for lost, forgotten, or unwanted persons and things,” then Moldova is definitely in limbo. At any instant, violent conflict may erupt in this small state at the edge of Europe and Russia. But in the meantime, the country and its people wait for better times. This feeling of uncertainty and neglect has been presented in a collection of works by Moldovan artists in the exhibition “Waiting for Better Times” at the Zachęta gallery in Warsaw. This exhibition presents the work of major Moldovan contemporary artists who show the contradictions of their society through their art. But why do we need to care about these contradictions? Why do we need to care about Moldova, in general?

Massive Rail Networks Made World War I Possible


World War I couldn’t have happened without Europe’s railroads. Trains were the key to operational success and were the only way to supply the unimaginably large armies spread out from Belgium to Switzerland.

As Germany hardened its plans for war, the general staff sent out orders along the chain of command for the initial phase of its invasion of Luxembourg — take the railroads.

At the eleventh hour, Kaiser Wilhelm II postponed the war, but the message didn’t reach one squad of German soldiers who drove into the sleepy town of Troisvierges on the evening of Aug. 1. Germany had invaded Luxembourg 12 hours early.

The troops took up position in the town’s train station. Troisvierges sat on a strategic branch line headed toward Belgium. Germany’s leaders knew that to outflank French forces along the German border, they would have to control the neutral nations of Luxembourg and Belgium.

A German officer stormed into the Troisvierges telegraph office and demanded control of the communications equipment from the station master. Even with an M1879 revolver pointed to his head, the station master smashed the telegraph on the floor.

The New LOGJAM Computer Bug

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries
May 20, 2015

The Wall Street Journal reported that computer-security researchers aredisclosing a new flaw, called LogJam, in technology behind prominent security tools, including the green padlock on secure websites. Here’s a primer on the problem:

What’s the problem?

The flaw could allow an attacker to read or alter communications, including email or traffic to websites, that claim to be secure.

Why is it a problem?

The researchers found problems with some commonly used security “keys,” long random numbers used to encode and decode messages. In general, the longer the key, the harder it is to crack the code.

The type of key in question is called a Diffie-Hellman key, named after the cryptologists who invented it. Researchers found Diffie-Hellman keys aren’t as secure as previously thought.


20 May 20150

Many experts reckon the first cyberwar is already well under way. It’s not exactly a “cold war,” as the previous generation understood the term, because serious damage valued in millions of dollars has been done, and there’s nothing masked about the hostile intent of state-sponsored hackers. What has been masked is the sponsorship.

Every strike has been plausibly deniable, including whitehat operations such as the nasty little Stuxnet bug Iran’s nuclear weapons program contracted a few years back. Cyberwar aggressors like Russia and China officially claim to be interested in peace and security.

The cyberwar could get much hotter soon, in the estimation of former CIA counter-intelligence director Barry Royden, a 40-year intel veteran, who told Business Insider the threat of cyberterrorism is pervasive, evasive, and so damned invasive that, sooner or later, someone will give into temptation, pull the trigger, and unleash chaos.

America Needs an Open Source Intelligence Fusion Center

May 19, 2015

The humanitarian world often has a healthy suspicion of the military. This is understandable. It can be very dangerous for humanitarian organizations and USAID personnel to be conflated with the military, which skeptical locals sometimes consider the same thing as the CIA overseas. However, as a former member of the military I have seen military Civil Affairs units doing good, genuine humanitarian work in dangerous areas . . . winning the hearts and minds. And I have been out in Iraq interacting daily with the local Iraqis, as have many of my fellow soldiers.

The military and humanitarian organizations both deploy to dangerous areas that have severe needs. But they rarely, with notable exceptions, ever share information, leading to an expensive duplication of effort by the military and aid organizations. In 2007, Ellen B. Laipson hypothesized in an excellent pieceon relations between NGOs and the intelligence and defense communities that information sharing was improving, but that “effective communication [still faced] many hurdles.” Nowhere was this more evident than during the recent Ebola crisis.

How a hacker could hijack a plane from their seat

Yijun Yu

Claims that a cybersecurity expert hacked an aeroplane's cockpit might not be as unbelievable as they first seem.

Reports that a cybersecurity expert successfully hacked into an aeroplane’s control system from a passenger seat raises many worrying questions for the airline industry.

It was once believed that the cockpit network that allows the pilot to control the plane was fully insulated and separate from the passenger network running the in-flight entertainment system. This should make it impossible for a hacker in a passenger seat to interfere with the course of the flight.

But the unfolding story of this hacker’s achievement, which has prompted further investigation by authorities and rebuttals from plane manufacturers, means that this assumption needs to be revisited.

A--Request for Information: Please see updated attachment removing Unclassified//FOUO classification.

Source Link

The U.S. Army intends for its subject matter expert cyber team to review submissions to gain knowledge of technology. Proprietary information should be clearly marked. The requested information is for planning and market research purposes only and will not be publically released. In accordance with FAR 15.201(e), responses to this RFI are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. 

The information provided and received in response to this announcement is subject to the conditions set forth in FAR 52.215-3 -- Request for Information or Solicitation for Planning Purposes. 

Questions regarding this RFI must be emailed to: usarmy.apg.acc.mbx.aberdeen-3@mail.mil. No phone calls will be accepted.

The Real Problem with America's Military

Dakota Wood
May 22, 2015

Fear the promise of transformative, leap-ahead, game-changing, and revolutionary technological solutions.

Over the last several years, there has been a noticeable uptick in terribly confused thinking about military matters that extends to understanding the nature of conflict, the role of military forces, and general thinking about military affairs.

Sometimes the confusion emerges in the form of an identity crisis. The U.S. Army seems to have experienced this (and here and here) as it unhitched from protracted operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the Navy and Air Force embarked on Air-Sea Battle (later modified) and the Marines doubled-down on their role as the nation’s “crisis-response force,” the U.S. Army has struggled to explain its continued value.

The Glaring (Ir)Relevance of Ramadi

A. Trevor Thrall, Erik Goepner
May 22, 2015

Ramadi does not spell victory for ISIS anymore than Iraq’s retaking of Tikrit from the insurgents spelled defeat for ISIS.

What does the fall of Ramadi mean? Even as the Obama administration acknowledged that Ramadi was a setback, spokesman Josh Earnest shrugged it off, declaring that the administration won’t “light our hair on fire” every time there is a setback in Iraq. Meanwhile, hawkish critics of U.S. policy have jumped on the defeat to justify their call for a more robust response. The Pentagon first said Ramadi would be a significant loss, but then argued that it wasn’t. Senator John McCain, on the other hand, labeled the defeat an “abysmal failure.”

Rhetorical positioning aside, the fall of Ramadi is essentially irrelevant to the final outcome in Iraq. Though a city of moderate strategic value considering its proximity to Fallujah and Baghdad, Ramadi does not spell victory for ISIS anymore than Iraq’s retaking of Tikrit from the insurgents spelled defeat for ISIS (despite suggestions to the contrary from the Obama administration). The battle for Iraq will depend on the ability of the Iraqi government to mobilize enough effective fighting power to stop the ISIS expansion. Unfortunately for Iraq, despite over a decade of U.S. investment in training and equipment, Iraq’s military appears incapable of mustering consistent fighting effectiveness to deal a decisive blow to ISIS on the battlefield. The only sure way Iraq can hope to defeat ISIS is by encouraging greater external intervention in the form of airstrikes, weapons, and most importantly of all—ground troops.

Defence Preparedness Back on Track

22 May , 2015

A successful foreign policy is predicated to a large measure on a country’s defence posturing. A robust defence posturing in turn is not possible without motivated men complemented by requisite arms and equipment. In the last decade or so, India’s defence preparedness suffered not only on account of lack of material wherewithal but subversion of the military leadership from external and internal vested interests.

Deliberately the three services were made to starve of most critical equipment imperative in conduct of operations during war.

In all the three dimensions, i.e. land, air and sea, India was made to suffer because of sabotage of defence preparedness. Deliberately the three services were made to starve of most critical equipment imperative in conduct of operations during war. The army cannot fight without artillery support, but it was constantly denied 155mm guns. The navy’s submarine fleet dwindled to pathetic levels of 40 percent of the minimum requirement. The fighter squadrons of the air force were allowed to be depleted to nearly 60 percent of the mandatory need.

14 Years After 9/11, The Press Is Finally Becoming More Aggressive In Its Coverage of Secrets and the War on Terrorism

Margaret Sullivan
May 21, 2015

Since 9/11, the United States’ “war on terror” has become the overarching news story of our time.

As the nation’s dominant news organization, The Times deserves, and gets, intensive scrutiny for how it has handled that story. The grades, clearly, are mixed. Its role in the run-up to the Iraq War has been rightly and harshly criticized. Its early reporting on surveillance, though delayed, was groundbreaking. Its national-security reporting has been excellent in many ways and, at times, is justifiably slammed for allowing too much cover for government officials who want to get their message out.

Nearly 14 years after 9/11, a reckoning finally is taking place. The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, has said repeatedly in recent months that he thinks it’s time to toughen up and raise the bar.

Here’s what he told me recently, in the context of a column I wrote about covering drone strikes and the death of civilians:

“We’ve learned the perils of not monitoring and policing warfare” as rigorously as possible, and of too readily agreeing to government requests to withhold information.

Junior Leaders…Success Depends on a Proactive Mindset

Recently, a West Point Cadet asked me what I, as a Troop Commander, expected from a Platoon Leader. I provided four traits that I believe define successful lieutenants: unquestionable integrity, an aggressively proactive attitude, a willingness to engage in open and candid communication, and a commitment to self-study.

I want to highlight the second trait, maintaining a proactive mindset, which in my mind separates mediocre and outstanding junior leaders. Being proactive, especially in the face of potential obstacles and failure, is a key determinant of one’s level of success.

Lieutenants share four common situations that can lead to failure: 
You don’t know how to accomplish a given task. 
You know how to accomplish a given task, but (you think that) you can’t. 
You know how to accomplish a given task, but choose not to. 
You know how to accomplish a given task, but make mistakes or errors that cause you to fail. 

For each cause of failure, there is a proactive response that leads to success. Let’s explore each of the reasons for failure and corresponding reactive and proactive responses.

SOCOM Leaders: We Need More Non-Traditional Technology Partners

By Jon Harper 

TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. Special Operations Command needs to find new partners among industry and academia to meet the challenges ahead, SOCOM leaders said May 19.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of SOCOM, warned that his forces’ technological superiority is increasingly being challenged by state and non-state actors.

“We believe there are opportunities to continue to expand our partnerships with non-traditional and traditional DOD suppliers and innovation leaders. Ultimately the ability to introduce new capabilities to SOF at a rate that outpaces our adversaries will rely heavily on our collective efforts to attract this wide diversity of partners and technologies,” he told attendees at a National Defense Industrial Association conference in Tampa.

The Art of Avoiding War


Why it’s so hard to defeat an enemy that won’t fight you, and what this means for U.S. strategy on everything from the Islamic State to China

The Scythians were nomadic horsemen who dominated a vast realm of the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea, in present-day Ukraine and southern Russia, from the seventh century to the third century b.c. Unlike other ancient peoples who left not a trace, the Scythians continued to haunt and terrify long after they were gone. Herodotus recorded that they “ravaged the whole of Asia. They not only took tribute from each people, but also made raids and pillaged everything these peoples had.” Napoleon, on witnessing the Russians’ willingness to burn down their own capital rather than hand it over to his army, reputedly said: “They are Scythians!”

McChrystal on the Rolling Stone scandal: ‘You’re going to find out who your friends are’

By Dan Lamothe May 19 

Gen. Stanley McChrystal on shaking up the military | On Leadership(1:48)

The retired Army general says we should break down barriers between the military and business world. (Lillian Cunningham, Jayne Orenstein, Jhaan Elker, Kyle Barss and Julio Negron/The Washington Post) 

Fives years ago, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was rocked by a scandal: He and several members of his staff made cringe-worthy remarks published in an infamous profile in Rolling Stone magazine. The most politically incorrect of them — ripping Vice President Biden — were made by an aide, but the situation nonetheless resulted in him tendering his resignation as the top commander of the Afghanistan war. 

McChrystal has settled into retirement since, launching a consulting group and becoming an author. His latest book, “Team of Teams,” lays out a path he says can be helpful in the business world and other environments, but the general isn’t shy about answering questions about the shocking end to his career. 


Michael J. Mazarr
May 21, 2015

Over the last year, leaders of the U.S. defense establishment have offered a helpful new concept to guide defense strategy—the so-called “third offset,” intended to counteract a perception of waning U.S. power projection capabilities. It builds on what proponents have defined as two earlier “offset” strategies(Eisenhower’s New Look and the investment in precision strike technology in the 1970s and 1980s) that helped the United States counteract rivals’ strengths. Yet the challenge facing U.S. strategy is not limited to constraints on power projection. The right way to view the offset concept is as part of a comprehensive vision for competitive advantage—one in which land power, often minimized in offset analyses, can play a central role.

A New Plan to Manage Asia’s Submarine Race?

By Prashanth Parameswaran
May 21, 2015

This week, Singapore co-hosts the Asia Pacific Submarine Conference (APSC) with the United States. Founded in 2001, the APSC has established itself as a major forum dealing with submarine rescue, and this year reportedly saw the highest attendance with 23 navies and organizations.

At the conference, Chief of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Rear-Admiral Lai Chung Han delivered a speech, seen by The Diplomat, outlining how Asia should take multilateral submarine rescue cooperation “to the next bound.” More specifically, given the busyness and shallowness of some of the Asian waters as well as the rapid rise of submarines expected in the region over the next few years, Lai suggested that Asian nations should enhance submarine operational safety and proactively minimize the risk of incidents by developing a regional framework.


MAY 18, 2015 

I recently received a copy of a brilliant after-action report, written by a Marine company commander and based on the lessons his company learned in Afghanistan. I will not name him here, because in the U.S. military no intellectual attainment goes unpunished. But he is clearly a serious student of military theory, especially Col. John Boyd’s work, his understanding of which goes far beyond the usual OODA Loop. His report tells of something; rare and of great value, namely how he successfully translated theory into actions and results.

He wrote his report as part of the Marine Corps Lessons Learned Program. But the name of that program raises an interesting question: have we actually learned any lessons from our defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan?

The answer is clearly yes at the level of procedures and techniques. The U.S. armed forces have large bureaucracies and ranks of overpaid contractors endlessly churning new procedures and techniques. The best almost always come not top-down but bottom-up, as discoveries made by sergeants and lieutenants in direct contact with the enemy. Sometimes those are embraced by the larger service, but in general they prefer those which come top-down, both for budgetary and cultural reasons.