29 May 2015

Deflection Won’t Work

25 May , 2015

When the Pakistani Corps Commanders conveyed through an ISPR statement that R&AW was whipping up terrorism in Pakistan, the Pakistani media made an interesting observation; that it was unusual for fingers being pointed directly at R&AW in a Corps Commanders Conference. Pakistani media says it is the second time in three weeks that the military leadership has raised the issue of activities of foreign governments and intelligence agencies in Pakistan.

…there is institutionalized effort to radicalize the populace to prevent them reflecting on the diabolical game being played by the military to remain in power…

Earlier on April 15, Raheel Sharif, army chief reportedly warned “foreign governments and intelligence agencies” agai­nst their involvement in the insurgency in Balochis­tan, but on that occasion he did not explicitly name R&AW. We will come to the Balochistan part later but an article titled ‘More Lethal Than RAW’ by Pervez Hoodbhoy in the Dawn dated 16 May 2015 took the wind out of the ISPR statement wherein he said, “RAW’s alleged antics are pinpricks compared to the massive and irreversible brain damage that Pakistan’s schools, colleges, and universities inflict upon their students”.

'Modi's Kashmir policy is very imaginative'

A S Dulat
May 27, 2015

'I could have never imagined any other prime minister giving time to a separatist leader.'

'I think the Hurriyat should not be ignored. I think like Pakistan, they are being unnecessarily ignored.'
The Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, two most unlikely and most unsuitable political allies, are ruling the state with a mismatched agenda and conflicting goals.

A S Dulat, who headed the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency, visited the Valley recently where he met with important personalities. As a former special director of Intelligence Bureau, India's internal intelligence agency, he is that rare officer with total knowledge of the functioning of both intelligence agencies.

Dulat, image, left, also advised then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Kashmir. His book on his years in the Prime Minister's Office will be published soon.

Securing India from External and Internal Meddling

As the NDA government completes one year in office it would be apt to review its policies towards creating a more robust security structure. It is not too early to comment on the outcome. While the Prime Minister’s tone and tenor had exuded confidence and a steely resolve to deliver after a decade of lackadaisical administration under the erstwhile dispensation it needs to be judged for its deliverables.

Time has come to re-orientate our thinking and consider both external and internal threats as threats to the national security and territorial integrity…

World powers are queuing up to become close to the new regime foreseeing the economic opportunity. All appears very nice and healthy and gratifying. National pride has returned in good measure. The world waits and watches for the promised efficient, transparent, investment friendly and above all a secure and strong India. Many attempts have been made in the past to strengthen the security mechanism of the nation. However, there is a need and also a chance to introspect on our National security with a new outlook.

Modi, Turnaround Artist: U.S.-India Ties Revived After Slump

May 26, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) wave during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi

May 26 marks the completion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first full year in office. Indian and international media have used the anniversary to take stock. In India, Modi has generally gotten high marks for foreign policy but some notches below that for slower than expected economic reform. TheEconomist devoted its cover this week to Modi (“India’s One-Man Band”) and urged more dramatic action to transform India lest the window of opportunity close. 

But in all the retrospection, few analyses have addressed India’s relationship with the United States in any detail. Perhaps that’s why the opposition Congress party’s former information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari had this to say on a popular talk show, The Big Fight

Modi’s Radical Plan to Remake Welfare in India

MAY 26, 2015 

The government says it’s taking “incremental” steps toward reform, but the plan to reshape payouts for the poor is nothing short of a revolution. 

This week marks the first anniversary of Narendra Modi’s right-of-center government in India. He promised thorough economic reform, and many people inside and outside India believed him. Money poured into the country, with foreign direct investment up by more than a quarter in 2014. Now, after a year in office, worries are mounting that his reforms of markets and property rights aren’t happening quickly enough. But the biggest change happening in India is much more fundamental — and it may take much longer to complete.

Perspectives On Global Security And Conventional Military Capability – OpEd

May 27, 2015

The effects of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) consisting all the destructive means like nuclear, chemical and biological and their disastrous consequences persist for centuries, especially radiation and other hazardous effects endure in the atmosphere affecting many other in the neighbouring regions. Moreover, a strapping reality also prevails about the lesser chances of their usage as those being merely for deterrence purposes, therefore, for many experts, the conventional weapons would again become a preference of many great powers in the coming future.

In certain circumstances when the military apparatus becomes a pertinent means of protecting the vital national interest, the conventional means only turn out to be the ultimate option because WMDs mostly serve tactical purposes of deterring the enemy and controlling its actions to prevent it from any possible aggression. Any use of WMDs will only mean falling into a situation of catastrophic destruction because in such wars, neither side will be victorious. At present, the conventional military supremacy has become penchant move of many nuclear powers, since they realize the fact that their nuclear weapons only serve a political goal and a long-term pursuance of such goals will cost as a huge burden on their economy however, except as a means of last resort, the nuclear weapons have no valid or persuasive military role.

Warplanes: Pakistan Receives The Gift Of Gunship From China

May 25, 2015: Pakistan has apparently received the first three of twenty Chinese WZ-10 helicopter gunships. Pictures of two of them together have appeared. These first three were announced as a gift and were quickly delivered so Pakistan could try them out. This appears to have led to an order for 17 more. Or not, as the WZ-10 sale has been kept quiet. If Pakistan does buy 17 more WZ-10s it would be the first export customer. The sale is apparently a done deal as Pakistan is to receive two more WZ-10s by the end of the year.

China has been developing the 7 ton WZ-10 helicopter gunship since the 1990s. After 14 years of development there were several prototypes and a lot of unresolved problems. Attempts to buy or steal helicopter gunship technology from Russia and South Africa failed. In 2010 some of the prototypes were sent to Chinese Army aviation units for field testing. While not a failure, there were problems and at one point the WZ-10 was in danger of being abandoned. The Chinese persevered and fixed most of the defects by 2012 and put WZ-10 into production. The WZ-10 is armed with an autocannon (23mm to 30mm) and has four hard points that can carry 16 HJ10 laser guided missiles (similar to Hellfire) or even more unguided rockets.

Afghanistan: It Is All Just Business

May 21, 2015: The “Taliban peace talks” are not just about eliminating Islamic terrorist violence but legitimizing the drug business that religious zealots (the Taliban and others) and a few tribes (mainly Pushtuns in the south) depend on. Most Afghans are aghast at the corrupting influence of all the drug money but are not surprised that those getting most of the cash want to keep getting it. The Taliban also take advantage of the fact that Afghanistan has no tradition of a strong (or very capable) central government. By concentrating forces in a few key (to the drug trade) areas the drug gangs can fight the much larger security forces on more even terms and at least intimidate most of the locals into letting the drug gangs go about their business unmolested (despite the anger of those families with addict problems). Meanwhile the government has begun a new round of peace talks (in Qatar) with some Taliban factions. Less publicized is the growing incidence of unofficial negotiations. That’s another way of describing the growing number of politicians who take money from drug gangs. It’s had to be an honest government employee in Afghanistan. If bribes don’t work there’s also intimidation or assassination. The “gold (bribe) or lead (a bullet)” offer is also applied to journalists, businessmen and anyone else the drug gangs feel they need some cooperation from. 

If Only US Leaders Read This Book On Pakistan That Was on Bin Laden’s Shelf

MAY 26, 2015

While the U.S. draws down in Afghanistan, there's still time to hold Pakistan to account as the hostile state it is, rather than the challenging ally so many delude themselves into believing.

Last week, I learned that the introduction of my book, Fortifying Pakistan (co-authored with Peter Chalk), was part of Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad library. While some other members of the Bin Laden book club were amused to be included, I was incensed. Our book is about Pakistan’s unwillingness to avail itself of American assistance in order to be a more effective partner in combatting terrorism. We argue that Pakistan’s recalcitrance is rooted in its commitment to using terrorism as a tool of foreign policy in India and Afghanistan. One has to wonder why Bin Laden would be interested in reading about that. After all, by the time the book came out, he was already in Pakistan. He, of all people, knew full well the practical implications of our research. He was safely ensconced in a Pakistani sanctuary, a leisurely stroll down the road from Pakistan’s premier military academy, at Kakul.

If Only US Leaders Read This Book On Pakistan That Was on Bin Laden’s Shelf

MAY 26, 2015

While the U.S. draws down in Afghanistan, there's still time to hold Pakistan to account as the hostile state it is, rather than the challenging ally so many delude themselves into believing.

Last week, I learned that the introduction of my book, Fortifying Pakistan (co-authored with Peter Chalk), was part of Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad library. While some other members of the Bin Laden book club were amused to be included, I was incensed. Our book is about Pakistan’s unwillingness to avail itself of American assistance in order to be a more effective partner in combatting terrorism. We argue that Pakistan’s recalcitrance is rooted in its commitment to using terrorism as a tool of foreign policy in India and Afghanistan. One has to wonder why Bin Laden would be interested in reading about that. After all, by the time the book came out, he was already in Pakistan. He, of all people, knew full well the practical implications of our research. He was safely ensconced in a Pakistani sanctuary, a leisurely stroll down the road from Pakistan’s premier military academy, at Kakul.

Be the first to receive updates. 

Revealed: Where Japan is Pushing Back Against China's Rising Influence

Japan held its 7th meeting with Pacific Islands Leaders (PALM7) on May 22-23. All members of the Pacific Islands Forum were represented, including Australia and New Zealand. For the first time since his coup in 2006, Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was invited and attended.

There was particular interest in whether Japan would expand its foreign aid to the Pacific Islands region in light of evidence of an increased Chinese presence over the last few years and the possibility that China might soon overtake Japan as the region's third-largest donor.

At the meeting, Japan promised ¥55 billion (approximately US$450 million) to the region over next three years. Prime Minister Abe declared that Japan had fulfilled a pledge to spend more than US$500 million over the last three years (2012-14). Because of the fluctuating exchange rate, the amount of Japanese aid has in reality been fairly constant over the past decade.

The Ultimate Irony: Is China the 'America' of Asia?

May 27, 2015 

Beijing’s claims in Asia look extravagant, however, they are as valid as those made by the United States against Mexico and Great Britain in the mid-19th century.

The rising nation was full of self-confidence and determined to expand. Its neighbor refused to negotiate in a bitter territorial dispute, convinced there was no legitimate issue to discuss. The new entrant to the international order also challenged the world’s greatest global power, which was forced to decide whether war could be justified against a country thousands of miles from home. The upstart’s territorial claims were excessive, but no one desired a rerun of past conflicts.

Are America and China Spiraling toward War or Peace?

May 27, 2015 

For those who hold out the possibility of a cooperative and mutually beneficial U.S.-China relationship, the new book Meeting China Halfway will be a welcome shot in the arm.

Long gone are the days when the West’s most eminent scholars could debate whether or not China “matters” for world politics and U.S. foreign policy. China does matter—a lot. From those who argue that China is destined to “rule the world” to those who caution that China’s global influence will be limited in important ways, almost all experts agree that China’s rise will be one of the defining features of world politics in the twenty-first century. It follows that the question of how to respond to China’s rise is currently an animating puzzle of the U.S. foreign policy community. Should Washington pursue a strategy of containment towards Beijing or should the United States extend an olive branch to the world’s most powerful rising state?

China’s Military Blueprint: Bigger Navy, Bigger Global Role

MAY 26, 2015 

In its first defense white paper, China's leadership paints a muscular vision of how it will defend its newfound place in the sun. 

China laid out its military strategy in its first-ever defense white paper, promising not to hit first, but vowing to strike back hard if attacked in a world full of what it sees as potential threats.

The paper, released by China’s State Council, the chief administrative body of the Chinese government, is especially noteworthy at a time of heightenedtensions with the United States over China’s aggressive behavior in disputed areas of the South China Sea. On Monday, Chinese state media spoke of war with the United States as “inevitable” if the United States keeppressing Beijing on its illegal activities; in the United States, meanwhile, the consensus over accommodating China’s rise seems to have given way to a more hawkish stance on the need to contain the rising Asian giant.

China Warns of ‘Inevitable’ War with US Over South China Sea

China’s State Council just announced a new 'active defense' military strategy in a white paper criticizing 'external countries…meddling in South China Sea affairs.' 

After Chinese state media warned that war with the United States may be “inevitable,” Beijing has published a policy paper detailing how the military will shift its focus from land and coastlines to the open seas. China’s State Council released a white paper today that criticizes “external countries…busy meddling in South China Sea affairs” and sets out an “active defense” military strategy for the country.

Lily Kuo is a reporter at Quartz covering emerging markets. She previously reported general news for Reuters. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and the China Post in Taiwan. She holds a dual master’s degree in international ...Full Bio

‘Iron Silk Road': Dream Or Reality? – Analysis

By Selçuk Çolakoğlu and Emre Tunç Sakaoğlu
May 27, 2015

A majority of the projects introduced by China within the scope of the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ vision have yet to reach maturity. Nevertheless, the draft outlines prepared for these projects promise great potential in the eyes of many regional countries including Turkey, which have received relevant proposals with great enthusiasm. A combined budget worth nearly $40 billion will be allocated to these projects through which China is planning to boost its influence over Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East in particular. Another objective set by Beijing when introducing the projects in question was to promote China as a leader country which is deemed indispensable for regional stability, development, and integration.

Sunglasses are off. What about your blinkers, Raman Singh?


From an understaffed police force, to unabated civilian deaths and overcrowded jails, the situation in the Bastar region is in shambles.

It took me a while last week to digest the message I had just received. When I did, I was left impressed.

After all, it speaks about the efficiency of an administration when it spots and decides to pull up its senior staffer (that too an Indian Administrative Service officer) for wearing inappropriate clothes and keeping his sunglasses on while receiving someone as up the order as the prime minister.

No sooner did I sit back, feeling good, something else hit me. It was my duty, I felt, to inform such an establishment of what I knew, since my editors have been liberal in allowing me opportunities to report from the conflict zone that the Bastar region is.

So here is my effort to help them.

Assad Strikes Back

MAY 27, 2015

The Syrian regime is gearing up for a counteroffensive that relies on Iran’s money and Shiite foreign fighters from as far away as Central Asia to push back against the Islamic State.

Both rebel forces and the Islamic State are on the march in Syria. Islamist opposition groups have advanced in the south near Daraa and in the north in Idlib; the Islamic State, meanwhile, last week conquered the central city of Palmyra. President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is clearly under strain, but rumors of its impending demise are greatly overstated.

While Assad and his Iranian allies are increasingly struggling to field enough forces to protect strategically important areas, they have nonetheless moved aggressively to prevent regime collapse. Using cash and coercion, Assad has launched new efforts to bolster troop levels and engender further loyalty. Just last week, the Syrian regime announced its hope for a $1 billion credit line from Tehran to continue the fight. More importantly, Iranian-backed foreign-fighter recruitment and deployment have increased dramatically. With these efforts, the wheels are now in motion for the regime not only to contain rebel advances, but also to push them back.

Why Are the Islamic State’s Commanders so Much Better than the Iraqi Army?

MAY 26, 2015

Shiite militias and Iraqi government forces have started to move into place around the Islamic State-held city of Ramadi in preparation for a highly-publicized but hastily-planned push to wrest the city from the fighters who chased the Iraqi army out earlier this month.

U.S. military officials believe that the militants had been carefully planning the city’s conquest for weeks, slipping fighters into the city to isolate severalgovernment buildings, then surrounding and isolating the Iraqi forces trapped in those pockets. They also battered Iraqi positions with dozens of captured Iraqi armored vehicles and bulldozers packed with explosives — 10 of which have been reported to be as large as the 1995 Oklahoma City blast. With scores dead and wounded, the exhausted and demoralized Iraqi forces were ordered to pull back to defensive positions outside of the city. U.S. officials said that dozens of armored vehicles, along with tanks and artillery pieces, were abandoned by government forces.

Kobani's Lesson for Ramadi: Victory Against ISIS Won't End Bloodshed

May 27, 2015

A new report documents the grisly realities of moving back into territory formerly seized by the Islamic State group.

Iraqi security forces and paramilitaries near Baghdad deploy for an operation aimed at cutting off Islamic State group jihadists in the Anbar province before a major offensive to retake the city of Ramadi.

The Islamic State group is an enemy that doesn't see battlefield defeat as the end to its ability to kill.

Just this week, a hopeful Iraqi government claims its forces have launched a massive offensive to retake the critically strategic Anbar province, that soldiers have surrounded its largest city ofRamadi after the Islamic State group chased out the Iraqi military just last week, and that they can retake it within days.
May 26, 2015

For months, the advance across Iraq and Syria of the brutal terrorist group known as ISIS has dominated U.S. and world headlines. In the past two weeks, ISIS militants have seized two more major cities: Ramadi in Iraq, and Palmyra in Syria.

But less than a year ago, U.S. officials had underestimated ISIS’s strength.

In fact, when ISIS overran Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul in June of 2014, many of them were blindsided — including Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Despite the fact that Fallujah had fallen to militants six months earlier, and that the Pentagon had been repeatedly warned that ISIS was on the march, Dempsey admits to FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith in tonight’s new documentary, Obama at War,that the Pentagon was unprepared when Mosul fell.

Is Russia's Lethal PAK-FA Fighter Stealthier than America's F-22?

May 26, 2015 

Russia’s fifth-generation Sukhoi PAK FA fighter jet, which is also known as the T-50, is like a flying robot with greater stealth capabilities than its American counterparts, according to Russian state media.

On Tuesday, Sputnik outlined some of the specifications of the PAK FA, which is currently undergoing the testing phase and will enter into production next year. 

“The PAK FA is already to some degree a flying robot, where the aviator fulfils the function not only of pilot, but is actually one of the constituent parts of the flying apparatus,” Vladimir Mikheyev, deputy head of the Concern Radio Electronic Technologies [KRET] unit of Rostech, which helps manufacture the plane, is quoted as saying. "That is, the reaction of the aviator is a part of the control loop."

An unnamed KRET official is also quoted in the article as saying that the PAK FA may be stealthier than American fifth-generation fighter jets like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

North Korean Nuclear Diplomacy Worked

May 27, 2015 

"The fundamental logic of the Agreed Framework was sound."
In 1994, the Clinton administration reached a deal with North Korea to halt its plutonium production. That deal eventually unraveled, and North Korea ultimately acquired nuclear weapons. Many have cited this as evidence that diplomacy with Iran won’t work. It is in this context that we present the latest from our friends at 38 North, where this piece first appeared, who ask the question: Did the 1994 Agreed Framework actually fail?

Throughout the debate over nuclear negotiations with Iran, many commenters have referred to 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Usually, these references are made in passing, conveying the idea that the Agreed Framework is, like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, broadly understood to have been a failure. (A nice exception to this rule was this piece by Barbara Slavin.)

Lessons in Lousy Leadership

May 27, 2015

"Both the military and the private sector should be seeking out, encouraging, and growing team-of-team leaders."
Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal has penned a revealing book—but its revelations are not intentional. The combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and his team of co-authors intended to author a guide on how to use small teams to infuse organizations with dynamic and adaptive leadership. Instead they deliver an accidental expose of what is wrong with the modern major general.

McChrystal's book, “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World” (2015) has, not unexpectedly, grabbed a fair amount of attention. McChrystal was a distinguished combat commander with a reputation for being tough, courageous, smart, brave, innovative and successful. Since retiring, he has been teaching leadership at Yale University, serving on corporate boards and running a consulting group. He also authored an account of his military career in “My Share of the Task” (2013). A resume like that is bound to create interest in a tome on leadership.

Iran Claims US Attempted Cyber Attack On Oil Ministry

May 27, 2015

Iranian security experts have thwarted an industrial espionage attempt on Islamic Republic’s oil ministry, cyber police chief announced, claiming the attack originated in the US.

Speaking at a cyber crime forum in Tehran on Tuesday, the head of Iran’s Cyber Police (FATA) Brigadier General Seyed Kamal Hadianfar announced that Cyber Attacks Emergency Center had defended the oil ministry against hackers. The alleged attack took place during a four-day holiday on March 21-24.

“These hackers were from the US” Hadianfar said, as cited by FARS news agency. “The IP address for these hackers was in America.”

The chief of cyber police said that Tehran had already informed Washington via an official letter and issued an “international judicial order” as FATA passed the issue to the foreign ministry.


May 27, 2015

China’s new strategy attempts to leverage growing military capabilities for regional advantage. While it speaks of balancing rights protection with regional stability, it is a subtle blueprint for slow motion hegemony. In focusing on China as a maritime and not just land power, it speaks of moving from offshore defense to open seas defense: that is, it looks forward to a full blue-water capability, thereby effectively placing the PLA Navy on a par with the U.S. Navy, at least in the near seas and Western Pacific that are most significant for China. The implicit warning to the neighbors is not to bother with building capacity and confronting a reemerging China ready to capture its central historic role. Despite this unbridled military manifesto and China’s official brimming confidence, real Chinese strategy consists not in direct confrontation, still less in conflict, but in a never-ending search for a more favorable position.

The Coming Crisis Between Britain and the EU

MAY 26, 2015 

As David Cameron enters his second term, the Conservatives will have to soothe Euroskeptic voters and continental allies at the same time. It won't be easy. 

Britain’s uneasy relationship with the European Union may finally be reaching its inevitable crisis point. On May 7, David Cameron scored an unexpected victory — at least to most pollsters, and to me — and secured a full majority for the increasingly Euroskeptic Conservative Party during his second term in office. Will he now deliver on his promise to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership and put these new terms to the voters in a referendum, without triggering Britain’s exit from the European Union?

Cameron’s plans for his time in office suggest that he still has a multitude of uses for the European Union. His government intends to engage its EU partners on a number of reforms, from reducing the red tape on many EU regulations and curbing benefits for immigrants from poorer EU-member states to restoring powers to national parliaments and avoiding the creation of a two-tier Europe of countries in and out the monetary union.

Spain's Two-Party System Makeover

It could be in for a long-overdue democratic renewal.

Spain woke up on Monday to confirmation that its relatively stable two-party system of the past thirty-five years had been fundamentally transformed. In last year’s European elections, the center-left Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the center-right People’s Party (PP) saw their joint vote share reduced from close to 80 percent to just about 50 percent. This Sunday’s elections for all of Spain’s municipalities and thirteen of its seventeen regional governments produced a similar shift: a devastating loss for the governing PP (down from 37 percent to 27 percent) combined with big gains for the hard left of Podemos and the good-governance centrists of Ciudadanos.

Navy's new laser weapon: Hype or reality?


In December 2014, the US Navy made a great show of their test of a laser weapon in what it called the “realistic threat environment” of the Persian Gulf. Video from the test, made available to the press, showed theUSS Ponce firing the Laser Weapon System to burn some holes through the sides of some speedboats, causing the boats’ contents to explode. Other tests apparently shot some drone replicas out of the sky.

To an old hand in the laser research industry such as myself (as a graduate student I worked at the Avco Everett Research Laboratory in Everett, Massachusetts, a pioneer in gas dynamic lasers, and later as a member of its senior staff), the tests were underwhelming. They reminded me of an old cartoon in which someone shot an arrow at the side of a barn, then painted a bulls-eye around the spot where the arrow landed. Similarly, after years of false promises, boondoggles, and an enormous waste of taxpayer money going back to the early years of the Reagan era, the military laser lobby came up with these tests. When they couldn’t get a laser lightweight enough to fit on a ship while still being powerful enough to burn through the metal skin of an incoming nuclear missile, they simply changed their goal to something akin to puncturing the side of an Iranian rubber dinghy. 


At an 18th-century mansion in England’s countryside last week, current and former spy chiefs from seven countries faced off with representatives from tech giants Apple and Google to discuss government surveillance in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

The three-day conference, which took place behind closed doors and under strict rules about confidentiality, was aimed at debating the line between privacy and security.

Among an extraordinary list of attendees were a host of current or former heads from spy agencies such as the CIA and British electronic surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Other current or former top spooks from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden were also in attendance. Google, Apple, and telecommunications company Vodafone sent some of their senior policy and legal staff to the discussions. And a handful of academics and journalists were also present.

Hacking threats delay Modi's plans for paperless cabinet meetings


Government is proceeding cautiously after techies warn of potential problems.

After months of trying to make union ministers tap into tablets to make cabinet meetings paperless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has realised that just as using paper runs the risk of information being leaked to the media prematurely, a shift to digital devices would make confidential information susceptible to hacking.

This has made the government cautious about the much-hyped project, which has so far been presented as an innovative move by Modi to make decision-making more efficient, in addition to blocking any information leaks on critical issues.

“There are several safety issues involved in it, given the massive increase in number of hacks and cyber crimes,” Union Minister for Steel and Mines Narendra Singh Tomar told Scroll.in. “After all, a lot of confidential information would be at the risk if there is even a small chance of the system getting hacked,” he pointed out.

Congress minister who put surveillance system in place warns against its 'lawful but malicious' use

Congress minister who put surveillance system in place warns against its 'lawful but malicious' use

As Modi government puts the Central Monitoring System on fast track, Milind Deora says that without a strong privacy bill, it could be misused.
The National Democratic Alliance government is reportedly placing on the fast track a project to intercept phone and internet communication. Called the Central Monitoring System, it was conceptualised in 2011 a few months after the infamous Radia Tapes controversy hit the headlines and created a furore. Embarrassed by the leakage of the tapes, the United Progressive Alliance government swung into action to create a system that could safely intercept phone calls, emails and other forms of communication without the telecom or internet service provider getting to know about it.

A Call for Collaboration: Data Mining in Cross-Border Investigations

May 19, 2015

Over the past few years we have seen the huge potential of data and document mining in investigative journalism. Tech savvy networks of journalists such as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have teamed together for astounding cross-border investigations, such as OCCRP’s work on money laundering or ICIJ’s offshore leak projects. OCCRP has even incubated its own tools, such as VIS, Investigative Dashboard and Overview.There is enormous duplication and missed opportunity in investigative journalism software. We need to do better.

Will India Purchase German Stealth Submarines?

The German Defense Minister is visiting India lobbying for the purchase of German and European military hardware. 

Today, German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, began an official two-day visit to India with the aim of promoting stronger bilateral defense cooperation.

While in New Delhi, she held talks with top Indian officials, including her Indian counterpart. Von der Leyen offered Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar German submarine technology as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighter, manufactured by a consortium of European defense contractors, Der Spiegelreports.

“I wanted to send a clear signal that the [German] federal government will support this,” von der Leyen told Der Spiegel. The German defense minister also noted that “there is Indian interest in industry cooperation for the construction of submarines.”

India accounts for almost 15 percent of global defense imports and German arms exporters are looking to profit from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” defense procurement initiative.

The Specialist Speaks A #Review of “Thank You for Being Expendable”

Angry Staff Officer is a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard. He commissioned as an engineer officer after spending time as an enlisted infantryman. He has done one tour in Afghanistan as part of U.S. and Coalition retrograde operations. With a BA and an MA in history, he currently serves as a full-time Army Historian. The opinions expressed are his alone, and do not reflect those of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. 

In the Army, there is a term called the “E-4 Mafia.” This refers to those who hold the rank of Specialist and who are, for better or worse, the barometer of a unit’s climate. They are sometimes team leaders or hold positions of more authority in the enlisted ranks. Most E-4’s have the particular quality of excelling at their given tasks while at the same time viewing the entire system of the military through a sardonic and skeptical lens. If non-commissioned officers are the backbone of the Army, the E-4’s are the legs. And if there actually was an “E-4 Mafia,” Colby Buzzell would be the Godfather.

Special Operations: Satcom In A Backpack

May 21, 2015: U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has sponsored work on lighter and more powerful portable satellite dishes for decades. What SOCOM operators need the most are back packable gear that can send video, especially during a stakeout (a common activity for Special Forces operators) of a target for missile armed warplanes or UAVs overhead. The latest breakthrough is GATR, a 26.3 kg (58 pound) 1.2 meter (47 inch) satellite dish in an inflatable sphere. This gear can upload 2 mbps (one million bits per second, about 100,000 bytes per second) and download 5 mbps. This is the lightest back packable dish with that kind of bandwidth. SOCOM has bought nearly a hundred of these so far. Most of the time SOCOM operators can get by with lighter satellite communications, with much lower bandwidth.

For example in 2012 SOCOM bought $170 million of new satellite communications gear with a max download speed of 1 mbps. What was most important about this gear was that it was portable (via hummer or backpack) and provided Special Forces operators with high speed satellite communications using 60 cm (24 inch) satellite dishes. Special Forces operators need these communications tool for when they are out in the hills, out beyond cell phones and most wireless forms of communication. Satellite phones have been used for over a decade but these devices have limited data capacity (about 25,000 bits per second).

Why the One Rank One Pension scheme is so terribly important for the Indian military

The scheme implies payment of a uniform pension to personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

There’s talk once again of the One Rank One Pension scheme for the armed forces in the country’s news pages. Once again, political parties are wrangling over it as more than 2.5 million veterans who have been waiting for the scheme for three decades watch from the sidelines.

One Rank One Pension, or OROP, implies payment of a uniform pension to personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. At present, pensioners who retired before 2006 draw a lower pension than their counterparts and juniors who retired afterwards.

The disparity between past and present pensioners has grown with every successive Pay Commission. It became most visible after the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations in 2000s. A sepoy who retired before 1996 gets 82% less pension than a sepoy who retired after 2006. Among officers, a major who retired pre-1996 gets 53% less pension than a major who retired post-2006.


May 27, 2015 

Bullets pelted the armored plating of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle as insurgents surrounded the small convoy. A rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) ravaged the lead vehicle, forcing the occupants to dive for cover from the flames and shrapnel. The convoy was outgunned and outnumbered by the well-coordinated insurgent attack. A Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) sprang from his vehicle and scrambled behind a nearby boulder. Over the commotion of the firefight, he relayed the convoy’s position with a request for close air support (CAS). Minutes later the unmistakable sounds of two low-flying A-10 Warthogs caused the insurgents to pause and look warily to the skies. With the help of the JTAC, the A-10s began a series of devastating strafe attacks on the insurgents. The guttural sound of the A-10’s 30mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun was a source of great comfort to the pinned-down soldiers, and a cause for alarm to the assailants. In less than 30 minutes from the moment the JTAC requested air support, the battle was over, and the few surviving insurgents fled the scene.