2 June 2015

The challenges ahead


THE first quarter century of the post-Cold War era is drifting away into the chronicles of history and India once again faces the challenge of having to adjust its foreign policy to the new realities in the world order. Comparisons can be drawn with the early 1990s when the Soviet Union was disbanded unilaterally and wholesale adjustment became necessary for its allies and friends, including India. 

The main similarity is that India did not precipitate the emergent international situation 25 years ago or hardly played a role in negotiating an end to the Cold War – and was overtaken by the torrential flow of events – whilst today, once again, it seems lost in thought as a new world order struggles to be born. Truly, India’s political economy is at a crossroads today as it was twenty-five years ago, entering another transformative period. Of course, in a globalized world, such tectonic shifts in international politics are bound to impact the country’s interests. 

Cementing Bangladesh-India ties

Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty
Jun 1 2015 

A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina at the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, last year. AFP

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh is now in the second year of her second term as Bangladesh’s Prime Minister. She has recently been judged the 56th most powerful woman among a hundred listed by the Forbes magazine. After a year in office, Modi too is still riding the wave of support and popularity within India and making a mark globally. So the forthcoming jugalbandi in Dhaka will be watched very carefully in the region. The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who recently hosted Modi in Kolkata, has been bargaining furiously for a quid pro quo to come out openly in support of the Teesta river water-sharing agreement. She has bowled a googly by agreeing to join Modi's delegation and will accompany him to Dhaka, according to her party sources. 

Green signal to Teesta agreement

Make in ‘digital’ India

Jun 01, 2015

In the midst of the debate on allowing foreign direct investment in retail and in e-commerce, it would be worthwhile recalling what Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, early this year said to a group of students at Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, “Yes, I would personally invest in India.” As it turns out, Ms Lagarde is not alone. Year on year investments in Indian tech startups are growing at exponential rates, and our startups have raised close to $3 billion, and that too in the last five years.

With new, vibrant tech hubs popping up around cities like Delhi and Bengaluru, it’s not surprising that investors are optimistic. India currently boasts over 3,100 startups, 800 of which were generated in 2014 alone. We have quickly grown to be the fourth largest start-up nation in the world. If we can keep this pace, we can expect to see more than 11,500 Indian startups by 2020.

The puzzle that is Pakistan


‘A riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma’; Winston Churchill’s famous description of Russia may well resonate with those trying to make sense of contemporary Pakistan. Here is a state that has been locked in confrontation with two of its immediate neighbours for decades – confrontation that has come at a heavy political and human cost to Pakistan itself. At a time when much of South Asia is harbouring visions of rapid economic growth and social mobility, the Pakistani state has little to offer its citizens beyond the rents accruing to it from its geopolitical location. And yet, Pakistan persists in its pursuit of patently unrealistic and disastrously costly policies towards India and Afghanistan. Even the US, principal patron and benefactor, is unable to get Pakistan to adopt policies that could benefit itself and the wider region. 

The default explanation for this state of affairs is that Pakistan suffers from a pathological condition. The trinitarian formula of Army, Allah and America is ostensibly sufficient to unlock the enigma of Pakistan. Throw in a few stock phrases like ‘a nation in search of its identity’ and you apparently have an explanation for the seemingly inexplicable trajectory of Pakistan. The ‘crisis’ literature on Pakistan has now grown to the proportions of a cottage industry. A bulk of this, however, is present-minded and anachronistic – begging more questions than are answered. Conspicuous in its absence is a body of serious historical writing on Pakistan. This is surprising given the importance and relevance of history to the current travails of the country. 

Battlefield Nukes Won't Save Pakistan

May 29, 2015 

History suggests that Pakistan would be better served by focusing on economic development.

Nuclear relations in South Asia cannot be fully analyzed without taking into account the China factor. Strategic relations between China, India, and Pakistan constitute a unique nuclear triangle in which the parties share a history of conflicts and border disputes. Two earlier nuclear triangles — the U.S.-Europe-USSR and the U.S.-USSR-China—provide a framework to analyze how these nuclear triangles are different from each other, as well as what similarities exist.

One commonality is the fear that a small nuclear power is the most likely state to initiate a war. It is, therefore, important to pay attention to the nuclear postures of small states in a triangle. In the first nuclear triangle, Francedeveloped battlefield nuclear weapons. China, in the second triangle, maintained an “assured retaliation” posture. Pakistan, like France, has adopted an offensive nuclear posture with tactical nuclear weapons.

China and America's South China Sea Clash: What Do U.S. Allies Think?

May 31, 2015 

As the ‘war of words’ between China and the U.S. in the South China Sea escalates, questions arise as to exactly what are Australia’s interests in this contested maritime zone. Bonnie Glaser has recently claimed that approximately 60 per cent of Australia’s seaborne trade passes through the South China Sea, and Peter Jennings has suggested that Australia should join the U.S. in conducting freedom of navigation (FON) operations in the area .

These appreciations raise issues about the importance of this region to Australia, economically, politically and strategically. We need to have answers to these questions before determining our future actions.

The Shocking Reason America Can't Stop China in the South China Sea

May 30, 2015 

Hanoi is one of the best settings in which to contemplate the limits of American power. The Vietnam War showed that a determined adversary (with substantial help from two major powers) can resist even a massive deployment of hard power by a more technologically able and much richer foe.

I was in Vietnam last week, and it provided an interesting perspective on current debates about the growing strategic competition between the United States and China, and about the role of American power in the world more broadly.

There’s a popular narrative in conservative circles at the moment that says that the blame for recent setbacks lies squarely at the feet of the Obama Administration. Greg Sheridan made that argument pretty forcefully last week:

Brave New World: China’s Expanding Maritime Strategy

June 1, 2015 

The PLAN is making big moves in the realm of "open-seas protection." How will this shape China's naval future?

China’s White Paper on Military Strategy published by China’s State Council on Tuesday formalizes the evolution of China’s naval strategy from “offshore waters defense” to a new maritime strategy that encompasses both “offshore waters defense” and “open seas protection.” This shift marks the first formal change in China’s maritime strategy since 1993 and has been made possible by significant improvements in naval capabilities that have enabled China to increase reliance on its navy to protect its expanding national interests.

3 Lethal Russian Weapons of War China Needs to Buy

May 31, 2015 

China's defense industry has come a long way, but it could still use a little help from its friend.
Times have changed. Russia, China’s exclusive arms supplier for more than twenty years, is now rumored to be interested in Chinese arms. The visitation of a Chinese naval task force to the Black Sea, including a modern Type 054A frigate, has sparked rumors Russia may buy a batch of the frigates to stave off a ship shortfall.

Such a sale, even if it does come off, may turn out to be a fluke of history. For all of China’s extensive efforts to build an all-encompassing domestic arms industry, there are still blind spots in her weapons production capabilities.

China's military dream

MAY 29, 2015

A member of the People's Liberation Army navy standing guard on a Chinese vessel. China's White Paper released on Tuesday paints a new and expansive view of the country's maritime power, while signalling a shake-up of some traditional combat structures for the armed forces. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

THE release on Tuesday of China's Military Strategy fleshes out for the first time the vision of its leadership, newly installed only 21/2 years ago, for the development and use of the country's military power.

Earlier glimpses were provided in the military sections of the 60-point reform manifesto of November 2013, the declaration in February last year that China would do everything necessary to become a cyber power, and the second-draft National Security Law released earlier this month.

The recent document is highly noteworthy on several levels.

Silk Routes versus Sea Lanes

May 30, 2015

The Chinese strategy is to build rail and road links over the Eurasian landmass to escape the vice-like grip over maritime trade routes exercised by the United States and its allies. An exploration of the possible consequences, drawing on history, for China, the Western powers, India and the global trade and military architecture.

Atul Bhardwaj (atul.beret@gmail.com) is ICSSR Senior Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi.

Grapes from Astana can reach Amritsar in just 28 hours by train through Pakistan—a fact recently reinforced by an economist from Tajikistan1 in his talk about land routes connecting Central Asia to India. A few years ago, the idea itself would have been relegated as impractical to a mind conditioned to think of international trade as synonymous with ships and sea lanes of communication (SLOC). Until, of course, the Chinese proposed their signature idea of “One-Belt-One-Road” (OBOR) which is fast gaining currency.

Modi's China Games

For years, Delhi was labeled as the obstacle to normalizing Sino-Indian ties. Modi has deftly turned the tables on Beijing.

The three-day trip to China by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was rich in symbolism and atmospherics, but did little to remove the basic distrust tied to decades-long border dispute and mutual suspicion about their strategic objectives. Candid talk by Modi not only suggested that, despite growing economic cooperation India remained wary of China and would carry on his policy of balancing the Chinese threat by building close ties with other powers. In a pointed allusion to the reason behind India cultivating relations with the US, Japan or Australia, Modi stressed the need to "ensure that our relationships with other countries do not become a source of concern for each other."

India's engagement with China has become circumscribed by intractable boundary disputes.

A China briefing from one of the West’s best-connected experts

A China briefing from one of the West’s best-connected experts 

Summary: This post provides a deep briefing about China from a major expert. It’s long and somewhat technical, but of the quality that executives and officials pay a lot to get. {2nd of 2 posts today.} 

The depth of the leadership’s intent to reform the country’s financial system, restructure industry and to internationalise the RMB (its currency) is largely unappreciated and/or misinterpreted by the media and investors. 

What is starting to take place is nothing more than reshaping the country and in so doing that of the world. 

To understand how serious and widespread will be this transformation we must have an idea of President Xi’s own philosophiesandobjectives.Theycentre around four dynamics:- 

Why China’s Air Force Needs Russia's SU-35

By Jesse Sloman and Lauren Dickey
June 01, 2015

The PLAAF has a growing fighter fleet, but it needs help on one critical component. 

Last April, Chinese airplane manufacturer Shenyang Aircraft Corporation surprised military observers by test flying its new J-11D fighter jet, an upgraded version of the J-11, China’s indigenous copy of the Russian Su-27. The D-model J-11 is believed to include such advanced features as an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a relocated infrared search and track (IRST) system, and the expanded use of composite materials to reduce the plane’s weight and radar signature. This first flight indicates that the J-11D is further along in its development cycle than many experts predicted and is poised to provide a new and deadly addition to the growing fighter fleet of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).


May 28, 2015

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter did misspeak last week with remarks that caused a firestorm in both Washington and Baghdad. He explained the Islamic State’s takeover of Ramadi by saying Iraqi forces “showed no will to fight.” He just forgot to complete the sentence by adding the words, “for Iraq.”

It’s clear that many people are willing to fight fiercely and bravely in that part of the world — just look at the levels of violence. The Kurds fight ferociously for Kurdistan. The Shiites have been fighting doggedly for their people. The Sunnis of the Islamic State are killing and dying for their cause. But nobody is willing to fight for Iraq. The problem really is not that Iraq’s army has collapsed. It’s that Iraq has collapsed.

The Islamic State is, at heart, an insurgency against the governments of Iraq and Syria. And no insurgency can thrive without some support from the local population. The Islamic State gets that support from the disgruntled Sunni populations of both countries, who feel that they are being persecuted by the Shiite and Alawite governments.

Russia's Eyes Massive Nuclear Submarine Deal with India

May 29, 2015 

Russia may help India build nuclear submarines and stealth warships, according to Indian media reports.

Last week India’s Economic Times reported that the Indian conglomerate Reliance Infrastructure—which owns stakes in numerous Indian defense companies—is seeking Russian assistance for programs to locally produce nuclear submarines and other stealth warships.

According to the report, top Reliance executives were in Moscow last week to meet with Russian defense officials about finding a partner for a joint venture between a Russian defense company and Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering, India’s largest defense shipyard, which Reliance has an 18 percent stake in. Specifically, Reliance is looking for a Russian partner with the “requisite technology expertise for manufacturing warships in India.”

What Obama Really Fears

June 1, 2015 

The president is only interested in combating abstract threats...

Since 2009, everyone has been waiting for a clear articulation of President Obama’s grand strategy. Indeed, careers have been made analyzing what this mysterious thinking might be.

The administration has of course released documents like the 2015 National Security Strategy. But regrettably neither the military community nor the defense civilian establishment takes seriously such generic and abstract documents, which contain polite clichés like: “To succeed, we must draw upon the power of our example—that means viewing our commitment to our values and the rule of law as a strength, and not an inconvenience.”

Last month, clarity finally came.

America's Worst President Ever

May 31, 2015 

Woodrow Wilson. Here's Why. 

If you wanted to identify, with confidence, the very worst president in American history, how would you go about it? One approach would be to consult the various academic polls on presidential rankings that have been conducted from time to time since Harvard’s Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. pioneered this particular survey scholarship in 1948. Bad idea.

Most of those surveys identify Warren G. Harding of Ohio as the worst ever. This is ridiculous. Harding presided over very robust economic times. Not only that, but he inherited a devastating economic recession when he was elected in 1920 and quickly turned bad times into good times, including a 14 percent GDP growth rate in 1922. Labor and racial unrest declined markedly during his watch. He led the country into no troublesome wars.

“The weaker sex”

Summary: A trend goes mainstream when it appears on the cover of the major weekly news magazines. So it is with the end of men. It’s a trend long in the making, now visible to all who care to see. But seeing the past tells us little about the future. What’s the effect of this trend on society? How will men respond to this new challenge? {2nd of 2 posts today.}

They talk about ‘a woman’s sphere’

As though it has a limit;

There’s not a spot on sea or shore,

In sanctum, office, shop or store,

Without a woman in it.

— Anonymous, from Jennie Day Haines’ Sovereign Woman Versus Mere Man (1905).
The Economist, 30 May 2015.

The New World Disorder: better, or worse?

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 19 March 2015

Summary: In today’s post Martin van Creveld, among our time’s top historians and military theorists, looks at the geopolitical state of the world. Are the doomsters right, and it is falling down? Or have we begun a new era of peace with the triumph of western culture around the world? 

“A new world order” is in the making, said U.S President George Bush Sr. as the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union, its limbs broken, was lying prostrate. “The end of history” has come, proclaimed famed political scientist Francis Fukuyama. At the core of World War II, Fukuyama explained, stood a titanic struggle between three ideologies: liberal democracy, fascism, and communism. By 1945 fascism had been destroyed. Fifty-something years later, communism too had failed and would not rise again.

UK Should Maintain Commitment to Long-Standing Grand Strategy

6 May 2015

The United Kingdom and her Western allies must ‘brace themselves’ for the possibility of worsening crises, argues a new RUSI briefing paper.

The paper, entitled ‘A Force for Order: Strategic Underpinnings of the Next NSS and SDSR’ by RUSI’s Professor Malcolm Chalmers, explores strategic choices facing the next government as it formulates the next National Security Strategy (NSS) and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) later this year.

Briefing Paper: Russian Forces in Ukraine

The Russian military operation against Ukraine has revealed some of the constraints on Russia’s exercise of military power; primarily, its limited capacity to sustain an operation of this size.

While the annexation itself of Crimea was relatively peaceful, the actions of Russian and Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine turned into an increasingly fierce fight as the Ukrainian government launched its own ‘anti-terrorist operation’ against the Russian-supported rebels.

In this way, the comparatively bloodless Russian spring gave way to a Russian winter of fierce combat. The first operational successes of Ukrainian forces in late June and early July 2014 first prompted Russian artillery fire from within Russian territory, targeted against advancing Ukrainian troops on their own soil, from mid-July onwards. Direct intervention by Russian troops in combat roles then followed in the middle of August, when the prospect of rebel defeat had become realistic. The presence of large numbers of Russian troops on Ukrainian sovereign territory has, more or less, since become a permanent feature of the conflict.

Watering Israel's Image

May 30, 2015 

Israel is the object of widespread admiration for its economic and technical accomplishments and the ingenuity that went into them—for being a nation that made the desert bloom. Much of the admiration is quite warranted, with Israeli talent and resourcefulness having not only produced blooms on kibbutzes but also a leading high-tech sector today. The comparisons involved, however, usually leave unstated how much of the accomplishment rests on the prerogatives Israel has wrested for itself as an occupying power (not to mention the many billions through the years of U.S. assistance to Israel, which effectively has shifted burdens from Israeli to U.S. taxpayers).

Three years ago presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a speech in Jerusalemthat illustrated the kind of incompletely based comparisons that are typical. Referring to the disparity (which he actually understated) between the per capita gross domestic product of Israel and that of areas assigned to the Palestinian Authority, 

Iran’s Most Important Oil Salesman

June 1, 2015 

Could this man steer Iran's oil back to the global market?

As the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 approaches, the world is eagerly following the fortunes of political moderate figures in Tehran. Can the Cabinet of President Hassan Rouhani overcome any last-minute roadblocks put up by hardliners in either Tehran or in Washington? One member of Rouhani’s cabinet, Minister of Petroleum BijanNamdar Zangeneh, is arguably more vested than anyone else in hoping for a positive result from the talks.

The political baggage

China's YJ-18 Supersonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile: America's Nightmare?

June 1, 2015 

A new challenge emerges for the U.S. Navy. TNI presents one of the first in-depth looks at this deadly weapon.

Entering the Second World War, the United States dramatically underestimated the effectiveness of certain Japanese naval systems and operations. The tendency to look askance at Japanese naval prowess during the interwar period obviously impacted the failure to anticipate the Pearl Harbor attack. But it is less widely understood that U.S. intelligence similarly underestimated the strength of Japan’s primary naval fighter aircraft (the Zero), the dramatic effectiveness of its long-range torpedoes, nor its dedication to mastering difficult, but essential operations such as night combat. Remarkably, these problems in assessment occurred despite a plethora of openly available information regarding Japanese naval development during that time.

NSA boss joins West Point cyber discussion

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Before visiting with the newly created Army Cyber Institute last year, Mark McLaughlin — chairman, president and CEO of Palo Alto Networks — hadn't been back to West Point since his 1988 graduation.

But after meeting with ACI staffers and cadets on their contribution to the service's cyber mission, he made plans to return. And bring friends.

"We have to get this interaction going — public-private, private-public," said McLaughlin. "There are a lot of academy alumni running around that are paying a lot of attention to this cyber thing. If what you want to do as the ACI, or what the DoD wants to do on a broader basis with all the academies together, is to work with industry somehow, there's a tremendous amount of affinity for the mission from folks who've graduated from the academies who are now in positions to assist you.

"So, why don't we have a meeting? And here we are."

Tomgram: Michael Klare, Superpower in Distress

May 28, 2015.

Think of this as a little imperial folly update -- and here's the backstory. In the years after invading Iraq and disbanding Saddam Hussein’s military, the U.S. sunk about $25 billion into “standing up” a new Iraqi army. By June 2014, however, that army, filled with at least 50,000 “ghost soldiers,” was only standing in the imaginations of its generals and perhaps Washington. When relatively small numbers of Islamic State (IS) militants swept into northern Iraq, it collapsed, abandoning four cities -- including Mosul, the country’s second largest -- and leaving behind enormous stores of U.S. weaponry, ranging from tanks and Humvees to artillery and rifles. In essence, the U.S. was now standing up its future enemy in a style to which it was unaccustomed and, unlike the imploded Iraqi military, the forces of the Islamic State proved quite capable of using that weaponry without a foreign trainer or adviser in sight.

The Future of Research and Development in the UK’s Security and Intelligence Sector

Research and development continues to be a national priority for the UK government as part of its long-term strategy to increase innovation and skills within technology and knowledge-based industries. Yet at a time when technological advantage is critical within the security and intelligence spheres, sufficient and targeted investment in appropriate R&D programmes is far from guaranteed.

Ahead of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the aim of this paper is to explore whether there are ways to improve engagement between government and investors operating in this sector, in order to ensure that R&D investment is strengthened, priority capabilities are understood by investors, and critical capabilities are sustained.

Boeing just unveiled an amazing new electromagnetic pulse weapon

MAY 29, 2015

Boeingoeing's "CHAMP" (Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project) is a one-missile, flying blackout
Born into Generation X, I grew up with the threat of nuclear war -- and all its corollaries, from visions of mushroom clouds to "duck and cover" drills in high school to Terminator movies, and of course, the ever-present worry that one day a sneaky Soviet satellite would detonate way up in the sky and fry all of our electronics with an "electromagnetic pulse."

So imagine my surprise when the U.S. Air Force confirmed last week that it's developed an electromagnetic pulse weapon of its own, and that Boeing (NYSE:BA) is helping to build it.
A CHAMP-ion idea

How to Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Power a Career Transition

MAY 28, 2015

Are you raring to change careers? Break into a whole new line of work that makes you leap out of bed, happy to go to work every day? Parlay personal passions into professional endeavors? Or focus on a different clientele, type of product, or service?

We all know the power of LinkedIn for job hunting and networking. But how do we use it to helpchange careers—to make sure we’re found by the right recruiters, hiring managers, colleagues—not ones from our past, but from our future careers?

It’s tempting to create an “everything under the sink” profile that makes you look qualified for both the job you have and the one you want or for a variety of new functions, industries, or roles. But that’ll just confuse your readers and send them running—to others’ LinkedIn pages.

Where the Science is Taking Us in Cybersecurity

May 29, 2015

Science tends to take us places where policy cannot follow. Policy tends to take us places where science cannot follow. Yet neither science nor policy can be unmindful of the other. Here I will confine myself to six points where I see science, including applied science, asking us to look ahead (The following is necessarily short; for a longer treatment of the science of security, per se, see “T.S. Kuhn Revisited,” keynote to biennial meeting of NSF Principal Investigators, February 6, 2015.):
Ownership as perimeter 
Control diffusion 
Communications provenance 
Everything is unique 
Opaqueness is forever 

1. Identity

The Foreign Policy Essay: Just How Effective is the U.S. Drone Program Anyway?

May 31, 2015

Editor’s Note: Drones and their use have long fascinated and frustrated many of us at Lawfare. Part of the fascination stems from the new ground being broken, both technologically and especially at the policy level. The frustration, however, comes in part from the same source: data are often lacking, and it is difficult to make definitive arguments as a result. Rachel Stohl of the Stimson Center argues that the lack of transparency is costing the drone program potential support and calls on the Obama administration to let the sunshine in.

On April 23, President Obama addressed the nation to reveal a tragic mistake that killed two humanitarian aid workers, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. In his remarks, President Obama stated that “Based on information and intelligence we have obtained, we believe that a U.S. counterterrorism operation targeting an al Qaeda compound in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region accidently killed Warren and Giovanni this past January.” The White House press secretary alsoannounced that two additional Americans, Ahmed Farouq and Adam Gadahn, were killed via U.S. counterterrorism operations “in the same region.” Farouq was killed in the same strike that killed Weinstein and Lo Porto and Gadahn was killed in a separate operation. Both Farouq and Gadhan were known as members of al Qaeda, but had not been specifically targeted in either of the strikes.

Emotional Intelligence…Leading SelfEmotional Intelligence…Leading Self

In the post “TOXIC: Understanding The Dark Side of Leadership” the writer makes some great points about toxic leadership and highlights some of the important components of Emotional Intelligence (also known as EI or EQ).

Emotional intelligence is our aptitude for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions effectively in ourselves and those around us to include those we lead. An emotional competence is a learned capability based on emotional intelligence that contributes to effective performance in a leadership position (or any position for that matter). A competency of emotional intelligence is being self-aware and understanding ones impact on others. A lack of emotional intelligence can lead to toxic behavior and one reason toxic leaders burn down organizations is they do not realize the negative impact they have on others and the organizations they lead. Emotional Intelligence is leading self.

The world is a pretty complex place and leading in complex environments requires competence. There are no simple answers, and requires leaders to invest in and develop others, exercise judgment, as well as have empathy, experience and wisdom. Anyone who cannot lead themselves has no business leading others because the results of their impact will most likely be negative.

Integrating defence into strategic thinking


THE NDA government has been slow in coming to grips with the problems of defence policy, in part due to the absence of a full-time minister in the initial months of the government. The appointment of Manohar Parrikar as Raksha Mantri injected a much-needed dose of dynamism to the defence ministry. Parrikar has on several occasions stated that he wants to expedite defence procurement even while adopting transparent processes. In his very first meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council, he gave the go-ahead for the long-stalled procurement of artillery systems. He has also been looking to revise the existing policies in order to give a boost to the indigenous defence industry in India. More recently, he has averred the need for institutional reforms and integration in the three services.1

The fact that the defence minister is seized of these matters is to be welcomed. At least it is a refreshing stylistic departure from the somnolent silence that shrouded the ministry under the previous government. Yet, the scale of the challenges facing this government is little short of staggering. The entire gamut of defence policy – from organization and training of the armed forces to procurement and manufacturing of defence equipment – needs systematic repair. These can no longer be addressed by rhetorical fixes or band-aids. Indeed, any attempt to duck the difficult problems will only set the government up for more dire ones down the road. The prime minister projects an aura of decisiveness: some of this could usefully be directed towards defence policy. 

Why there has never been a military dictatorship in India

Stephen Wilkinson looks at this question in his new book, ‘Army and Nation’.

A true story: In 1957, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, visiting the office of General Thimayya, the Chief of Army Staff, saw a steel cabinet behind his desk, and asked the General what it contained.

The General replied that the top drawer contained the nation’s defence plans. And the second drawer contained the confidential files of the nation’s top generals.

Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?

The traditional view of management, back in 1977 when Abraham Zaleznik wrote this article, centered on organizational structure and processes. Managerial development at the time focused exclusively on building competence, control, and the appropriate balance of power. That view, Zaleznik argued, omitted the essential leadership elements of inspiration, vision, and human passion—which drive corporate success.

The difference between managers and leaders, he wrote, lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in their psyches, of chaos and order. Managers embrace process, seek stability and control, and instinctively try to resolve problems quickly—sometimes before they fully understand a problem’s significance. Leaders, in contrast, tolerate chaos and lack of structure and are willing to delay closure in order to understand the issues more fully. In this way, Zaleznik argued, business leaders have much more in common with artists, scientists, and other creative thinkers than they do with managers. Organizations need both managers and leaders to succeed, but developing both requires a reduced focus on logic and strategic exercises in favor of an environment where creativity and imagination are permitted to flourish.


01 June 2015

While every Pay Commission has raised the salaries of Government servants, the pensions of ex-servicemen has not been changed. Also, unlike civil servants, defence personnel do not get to serve the number of years that are required for optimum pension amounts

The nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten”, said Calvin Coolidge, Former President of the United States. The issue of one-rank-one-pension scheme for retired Armed Forces personnel has once again hogged the national headlines, with some war veterans protesting the delay and the Opposition jumping into the fray to woo ex-servicemen who play a decisive role in many parliamentary and legislative constituencies. Before the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, dying hopes of ex-service personnel were rekindled after Mr Narendra Modi, in his first mega political rally at Rewari in Haryana as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, had demanded from the then UPA Government, a White Paper on the Orop issue which has been one of the major demands for the Armed Forces. He even said that if the Vajpayee Government had been re-elected in 2004, a solution to this issue would have been found.

Stanley McChrystal’s Accidental Exposé About the Military

May 30, 2015

President Obama meets with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, left, and Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010. At the time, McChrystal was commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan. (Photo: Pete Souza/White House/CC BY 2.0) 

James Jay Carafano, a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, is The Heritage Foundation’s Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, E. W. Richardson Fellow, and Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.Read his research.

Retired Army Gen. 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 exposé of what is wrong with the modern major general.

Spineless staff officers are a letdown

01 Jun , 2015

Spineless servility of the staff officers has been the bane of the Indian military. The case of Adarsh Housing Society proves it amply. The land in question was under army’s possession. It was apparent to even laymen that the whole project was ill-conceived and murky. Yet, flats were obtained by three Chiefs and numerous senior commanders by all means, fair and unfair. Instead of cautioning them, compliant staff officers actively abetted the wrong-doing. True to their character, their sole aim was to keep their bosses happy.

It is rare to see a staff officer having nerve to speak the truth and risk his commander’s disapproval.

No Use of Combat Air Power in 1962

30 May , 2015

In 1962 as the war clouds gathered over the Himalayan mountains, Indian Army beefed up its defences. As a result IAF was asked to undertake tremendous surge in air maintenance – nearly thrice the normal amount. The air maintenance flying in Sep 1962 was 1179 hours. It increased to 3263 hours in Nov 1962. However, the inflow at the receiving end of air maintenance was not as spectacular. The dropping zones (DZ) were sub optimum; there was shortage of dropping equipment; there were too few porters to retrieve the dropped load and take it to Army posts; the identification between different items of dropped air load was ineffective or absent. All this resulted in around 80 percent of the drop being irretrievable.1 This despite the valiant effort of IAF transport crew and helicopter crew which continued to provide much needed support. This has been well recorded and appreciated. They are the reasons of not using combat air – that are little known. This article is devoted to this second part.