17 June 2015

Going all out for neutrino research

June 17, 2015

India lost its lead in neutrino studies when research tapered off in the 1990s. The India-based Neutrino Observatory can now help it reclaim this advantage and its global leadership in understanding this mysterious particle

Just a few years ago, we witnessed how a national project, the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), which is to study fundamental particles called neutrinos, was subject to a barrage of questions from environmentalists, politicians and others ever since it was cleared. The project, which involves the construction of an underground laboratory, was initially to be located in the Nilgiris but later, on grounds that it was too close to tiger habitat, was moved to a cavern under a rocky mountain in the Bodi West Hills region of Theni district, about 110 kilometres west of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.

Cleaning up together

João Cravinho
June 17, 2015

The EU and India need to act on clean energy programmes. Time is running out.

Climate change presents a global challenge. Extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods and droughts have increased all over the world, in frequency and intensity. Polar ice-caps and glaciers continue to retreat. Eight of the last 10 years have been the hottest in recorded history, and the world is at the receiving end of largescale and devastating climate change impact. India is among the countries most vulnerable to the increasingly unpredictable vagaries of nature.

We all agree that economic growth is vital for development and poverty alleviation, but to tackle the current impacts of climate change, this must be clean and sustainable.
Climate-smart development strategies have to be designed and implemented worldwide. Acting on climate change can help enhance food, energy and water security as well as create economic opportunities. Our window of opportunity to avoid severe social, environmental and economic consequences is closing quickly.

Time for CDS is nigh

S.K. Sinha
Jun 17, 2015

Civil servants have been playing upon apprehensions of political leaders of being overthrown by the man on horseback. It has taken the government 68 years to accept the need for a CDS.

Manohar Parrikar, the defence minister, and Rao Inderjit Singh, the minister of state for defence, both issued statements in February 2015 that India will soon have a Chief of Defence Staff. At long last the government has taken a decision on this issue. A CDS would remove the stifling control of the civil bureaucracy over the military on the plea of the superiority of the civil. This concept applies to the political executive, and not to civil servants. The latter have been playing upon the apprehensions of the political leadership of being overthrown by the man on horseback. It has taken the government 68 long years to accept the need for a CDS, as obtains in democracies.

Arms & women: Just symbolic Nari Shakti?

Prem Chowdhry
Jun 17 2015 
The resistance to women’s recruitment in the fighting units is a desire to preserve the Army as a male domain. Combat by nature is considered a male occupation, the Army is considered a male space and combat the most masculine aspects of war.

Women soldiers march in the Army Day parade in New Delhi. Apprehensions about inclusion of women in combat roles abound. PTI

A seminal utterance of Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has gone unnoticed by both, the electronic and print media. On May 30, he categorically ruled out any “combat role” for women in the armed forces and stated: “The issue of not allowing women combatants has more to do with the consequences they can face in case they are taken prisoners by the enemy in a war.” It was the passing out parade of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, and he was echoing what the Indian Army has held for long. Apart from being reminiscent of the frequent advisory utterances of many politicians who “warn” women about going out of the house after dark as it may have “unspeakable consequences”, this explanation is totally inadequate. 

Indian Foreign Policy: Bangladesh and Beyond

By Neelam Deo and Karan Pradhan
June 16, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh on June 6-7 completes his arc of reaching out to India’s neighbors in South Asia.

But, for now, two exceptions remain—the Maldives, where former president Mohamed Nasheed has been imprisoned, and Pakistan. With both countries, India’s relations are at a low point. Despite these exceptions, the year-old Bharatiya Janata Party government has clearly demonstrated that India’s neighborhood foreign policy is a priority.

This new focus has replaced India’s past reticence in engaging with its neighbors—a holding back that was misplaced, as is evident from the warm welcome given to Modi, both by the people and by the parliaments, in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan.

Restraint No More: India Reassess Its Hard Power

By Harsh V. Pant
June 16, 2015

With its cross-border covert strike into Myanmar, India’s views on hard power come into focus. 

On June 4, tribal guerrillas, using rocket-propelled grenades and detonating improvised explosive devices, killed 20 soldiers and injured several others, in an ambush when a military convoy was traveling to the state capital Imphal from the town of Motul in Manipur. This was one of the most serious attacks on Indian security forces in Manipur for some time. India has struggled to contain the unrest in Manipur despite granting its security forces sweeping shoot-to-kill powers in so-called “disturbed areas” under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).


In the wake of India’s hot pursuit of militants into Myanmar, Pakistan has raised numerous alarms about Indian aggression. It has issued various warnings that no such Indian incursion into Pakistan will be tolerated. As often happens in such circumstances, the international media has raised the tocsin of the potential for yet another “Indo-Pakistan” clash. Unfortunately, much of this coverage of the so-called India-Pakistan conflict is deeply problematic in that writers, perhaps with good intentions, seek to impose a false equivalence on both nations’ conduct, giving the impression that India and Pakistan contribute equally to the fraught situation that currently exists.

This is dangerously untrue and feeds into a policy-process that has failed to come to terms with the most serious problem in South Asia: Pakistan. Such coverage also rewards Pakistan for its malfeasance by attributing blame to India in equal share and thus legitimizing Pakistan’s ill-found grievances. The only parties who benefit from such an

Tajik Border Guards Held by Taliban To Be Released

June 16, 2015

Qatar has reportedly secured the release of four Tajik border guards kidnapped by the Taliban in December. 

Qatar has reportedly secured the release of four Tajik border guards kidnapped by the Afghan Taliban in December. The four men–reported by Asia-Plus in January to be Farhod Kalonov, Mehroj Shodiyev, Siroj Davlatov and Tuychibek Nourboyev–were members of border unit 2610 stationed along the Panj river which forms a majority of the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The Panj river is wide, meandering, and quite shallow at some points. According to a source in the Border Service, quoted by Eurasianet, the Tajik guards were captured on the Afghan side of the river in Kunduz province, which has seen increased militant activity this year.

Confirmed: Sino-Pak JF-17 Fighter Jet Has its First Buyer

By Franz-Stefan Gady
June 15, 2015

“A contract has been signed with an Asian country,” stated Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood, head of sales and marketing for the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft, at the biennially held Paris Air Show yesterday.

Khalid refused to name the country. Nor did he specify the number of planes to be sold, although he stated that deliveries will begin in 2017. He did, however, emphasize that 11 other countries have shown interest in acquiring the multirole fighter aircraft.

Numerous air forces are toying with the idea of purchasing the JF-17, and the media has floated more than a dozen potential export destinations, including Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria (see: “Pakistan and China May Finally Have a JF-17 Buyer”), Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The South Asia Nuclear Equation Recent remarks by a Pakistani general have reopened the debate on South Asia’s nuclear stability.

By Kunal Singh
June 15, 2015

For 15 years, since its inception in February 2000, General Khalid Kidwai served as Director General of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division. Now an adviser to Pakistan’s National Command Authority, Kidwai was a speaker at the recent biennial Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference. Offering a glimpse into Pakistan’s strategic thinking, he explained Pakistan’s shift from a strategy of “minimum credible deterrence” to “full spectrum deterrence.” During his talk, Kidwai justified Pakistan’s induction of battlefield nuclear weapons with operational ranges as low as 60 kilometers on the pretext of anon-existent “Cold Start” doctrine.

Kidwai’s remarks have re-opened the debate over South Asia’s nuclear stability. A Stimson Center essay by Jeffrey McCausland has expanded on the dangers of Pakistan incorporating tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs). For instance, Pakistan’s Army would have

A Year After Pakistani Military Began Offensive Against Militants, Terrorist Attacks at 8-Year Low

Tim Craig
June 15, 2015

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — One year after Pakistan’s army launched its offensive in the country’s northwestern tribal belt, Pakistani deaths from terrorist attacks are at an eight-year low but U.S. officials say more work is needed before the country can reverse its reputation as a top incubator of Islamist militancy.

After a decade of bloodshed that killed more than 50,000 civilians and soldiers, Pakistan’s military finally became fed up last June when a homegrown militant group, the Pakistan Taliban, attacked Karachi’s international airport. In response, Pakistan’s air force and army began pounding North Waziristan, destroying two cities there while also ordering the evacuation of more than a million residents.

Since then, the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan has plunged as the Pakistan Taliban and al Qaeda appear to have fewer havens.

'Active Defence': China’s Body Language is Aggressive

By Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal
16 Jun , 2015

China released its tenth biennial White Paper on National Defence in the last week of May 2015. Entitled “China’s Military Strategy”, this is the first White Paper that focusses on a specific aspect of national security unlike the previous ones that were about objectives, force levels, training and military modernisation.

According to the 2015 White Paper, China will follow a strategy of ‘active defence’. Clarifying the meaning of the term active defence, Senior Colonel Zhang Yuguo, from the General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said at the press conference during which the White Paper was released, “Some countries adopt pre-emptive strategies, emphasising preventive intervention and taking initiative in attack… Being ‘active’ is only a kind of means and ‘defence’ is our fundamental purpose.”

China Plays the Victim in the South China Sea

Graeme Dobell
June 15, 2015

The strategic discussion between the U.S. and China can’t be called a dialogue of the deaf. The talk is loud and each side hears the other.

Yet a lot of mishearing is happening. Perhaps the metaphor should be a security debate shaking on a sea of scrambled semiotics.

Everybody purports to be talking about the same thing when really they’re talking about different things. Same subject, divergent understandings.

Take the subject du jour: the South China Sea. The issue under discussion should be clear and well understood. This is about rocks and reefs, contested ownership and rights in some vital maritime territory. When each side talks about the South China Sea, however, they’re also talking about lots of things that look nothing like rocks and reefs; scrambled semiotics in spades.

China and FIFA: Parallel Worlds of Corruption

By Kerry Brown
June 16, 2015

FIFA and the Chinese Communist Party have handled allegations of top-level corruption quite differently. 

The subject: a man in his 70s who presided over an organization which, during his time as chief, became a global force. According to his detractors, however, he was unable to resist the temptation to convert his power and influence into money and assets. In the space of only a few years, it is claimed that he created and sat in the center of a network which filtered off billions of dollars illicitly.

This description fits both Chinese leader Zhou Yongkang, and Sepp Blatter, current head of the international football body FIFA. The difference, of course, is that while the charges against Zhou have been formally dealt with (up to a point) in a criminal investigation and court case, with the sentence handed out on camera in late May, for Blatter the charges remain accusations.

Report: 'China's Strategic Assertiveness' Fueling Tensions in Asia

By Franz-Stefan Gady
June 16, 2015

The 2015 SIPRI Yearbook emphasizes Beijing’s critical role in aggravating tensions in East Asia. 

Today, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its 2015 Yearbook on armaments, disarmament, and international security, highlighting China’s role in fueling regional confrontation in East Asia.

“A number of significant regional military–security trends emerged in East Asia during 2014. A key aspect of these trends is China’s efforts to actively shape the regional security dynamic,” the report reads.

The 2015 Yearbook emphasizes that regional tensions have been on the rise since 2008, a lot of which can be attributed to “China’s strategic assertiveness,” which manifests itself particularly in maritime territorial disputes.

Why Should China Embrace 'Universal Values'?

By Jin Kai
June 16, 2015

It is hard to avoid hearing about Western “democracy” and “universal values” such as freedom, equality, and justice these days, as the West and especially the United States tend to use these concepts as “weapons” for intended regime or social changes in different regions. The Chinese have been rather vigilant toward such “peaceful evolution” by the West for years, although economic cooperation has mitigated and more or less concealed such ideological confrontations.

The differences still exist, and may have become magnified in some aspects. The enduring split between pan-democratic groups and the pro-Beijing majority in Hong Kong exactly demonstrates how deeply different political views and distrusts may tear a society apart.

Wages, Prices, and Living Standards in China, 1738-1925: in Comparison with Europe, Japan and India

June 15th, 2015 

This is a working paper (from 2009) which examines the comparative data for prices, wages and living standards in China compared to European countries, India and Japan from before the start of the industrial revolution (1738) until the roaring 20s (1925). For wages, the cities of London and Amsterdam were several times higher than other cities which were all rather comparable (Leipzig, Milan, Beijing and Tokyo) from 1738 until the mid 19th century. In the later part of the 19th century and the early part of the wages in all cities studied were growing quite rapidly, northern European cities faster than Milan, which was rising faster than Tokyo, with growth of wages in Beijing lagging all the others.

Central Asia Is a Sitting Duck for Islamic State (Op-Ed)

By Deirdre Tynan
Jun. 14 2015 

The appearance of Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov in an Islamic State propaganda video on May 27 sent a chill across Central Asia. The head of Tajikistan's Special Assignment Police Unit (OMON), a key element in President Emomali Rahmon's security apparatus, had disappeared shortly before. In the video he promised to return to wage violent jihad.

A veteran of brutal Tajik government operations, Khalimov has the qualifications. And Tajikistan, a desperately poor country ruled by a venal elite, is a vulnerable target. As I drove to its capital, Dushanbe, last summer through the ancient city of Khujand and the rickety, fume-filled, Iranian-built Shariston tunnel, I saw poverty and isolation that eclipses the worst pockets of deprivation in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Reasons not to dally in Iraq

Michael E. O'Hanlon
June 11, 2015 

President Obama’s strategy towards Iraq over the last year has been more right than wrong. After the tragic fall of Mosul and other key regions in the nation’s Sunni-dominated northwest in the spring of 2014, Obama used U.S. airpower to help the Kurds fend off ISIL attacks against them, helped engineer an Iraqi political transition that replaced Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with the current leader, Haider al-Abadi, and then introduced modest numbers of American trainers to help the disintegrating and discredited Iraqi Army begin to rebuild. All of these steps were taken in the right order—first, the use of airpower in an emergency mode to stem off further inroads by ISIL, then the necessary political transition that was essential to get Sunni and Kurdish support for the central Iraqi government, and finally the military training needed to begin to repair the damage that Maliki had done over the years to the Iraqi armed forces.

Why Arming Ukraine Is a Really Bad Idea

Paul J. Saunders
June 16, 2015

Renewed fighting in Ukraine has in turn renewed calls to arm Ukraine, including in the United States Congress. Yet there is an enormous and largely unacknowledged flaw in the argument to provide the Kiev government with lethal weapons.

Advocates of this approach assert that sending anti-tank missiles, mortars and other arms to Ukraine will help Ukrainian forces to kill more of the Russian troops fighting alongside separatist forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine. Since Russian president Vladimir Putin and other senior officials have repeatedly denied that Russian soldiers are in the country, they say, he must be trying to hide Moscow’s involvement from the Russian people because he fears political opposition from soldiers’ mothers (a significant political constraint during the first war in Chechnya, not to mention in Afghanistan a decade earlier) and others. If we can only kill enough of Putin’s troops, they continue, Putin will no longer be able to conceal the scale of Russia’s engagement in the conflict and will face public pressure to limit it or even to withdraw.

Why America Should Fear China's Hypersonic Nuclear Missile

Zachary Keck
June 15, 2015

China all but confirmed it tested its hypersonic missile delivery vehicle a fourth time.

On Friday, China’s Defense Ministry seemed to confirm U.S. reports that Beijing tested its Wu-14 hypersonic vehicle on Sunday, June 7. Responding to an inquiryby the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, China’s Defense Ministry said, “The scheduled scientific research and experiments in our territory is normal, and those tests are not targeted at any country and specific goals.”

The statement was eerily similar to the one China’s Defense Ministry issued following the January 2014 test of the Wu-14. At that time, the defense ministry said: “It is normal for China to conduct scientific experiments within its borders according to its plans. The tests were not aimed at any nation nor any specific target.”

The South Asia Nuclear Equation

For 15 years, since its inception in February 2000, General Khalid Kidwai served as Director General of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division. Now an adviser to Pakistan’s National Command Authority, Kidwai was a speaker at the recent biennial Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference. Offering a glimpse into Pakistan’s strategic thinking, he explained Pakistan’s shift from a strategy of “minimum credible deterrence” to “full spectrum deterrence.” During his talk, Kidwai justified Pakistan’s induction of battlefield nuclear weapons with operational ranges as low as 60 kilometers on the pretext of anon-existent “Cold Start” doctrine.

Kidwai’s remarks have re-opened the debate over South Asia’s nuclear stability. A Stimson Center essay by Jeffrey McCausland has expanded on the dangers of Pakistan incorporating tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs). For instance, Pakistan’s Army would have to use this weapon early in any battle, lest the conventionally superior Indian forces intrude

The Military Balance in a Shattered Levant

JUN 15, 2015

The war against ISIL and the civil war in Syria have highlighted the importance of the military balance in the Levant and the extent to which it has an impact on Iraq and the Gulf, the flow of global energy exports and the world economy, and international terrorism. Aram Nerguizian has prepared a comprehensive analysis of the changing military balance in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan that updates our previous analysis and reflects extensive research in the region and work with security experts in the US and Europe.

This report is entitled The Military Balance in a Shattered Levant: Conventional Forces, Asymmetric Warfare & the Struggle for Syria. It provides extensive tables and trend analyses of the balance, and is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/publication/military-balance-shattered-levant.

Wake Up, America: North Korea Is Running out of Patience

Leon V. Sigal
June 16, 2015

While the Obama administration negotiates with Iran, North Korea is giving every indication it intends to attempt another satellite launch this fall. If, as expected, the UN Security Council responds with more sanctions, Pyongyang will take that as a pretext for conducting its fourth nuclear-weapons test. As its Foreign Ministry spokesman put it on May 30, “[T]he only way to prevent a war between the DPRK and the U.S., which lack even elementary trust in each other and have long stood in mistrust and hostility only, is for the former to bolster up its defense capabilities so as to ensure balance of forces.”

To many in Washington, further arming by Pyongyang is a foregone conclusion. That assumption is wrong.

Here's How Republicans Can Fix Obama's Disastrous Foreign Policy

Zachary Keck
June 16, 2015

One (admittedly American-centric) history of the Cold War is that Democrats did stupid sh*t and Republicans cleaned up after them. Whether it was Korea, Vietnam or Jimmy Carter, Republican administrations frequently found themselves fixing the messes of their Democratic predecessors.

The pattern of Democrats doing stupid stuff and Republicans cleaning up after them has largely been absent in the post-Cold War era. This may be changing.

In his new book, The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today, Colin Dueck not only argues that Obama’s foreign policy has been a disaster for the United States, but also outlines a Republican grand strategy to fix America’s foreign affairs.

The Next US President: Asia's Impact on America's Future

By Mercy A. Kuo and Angelica O. Tang
June 15, 2015

The Rebalance authors Mercy Kuo and Angie Tang regularly engage subject-matter experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. rebalance to Asia. This conversation with Admiral Dennis Blair – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and Combatant Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command – is the sixth in “The Rebalance Insight Series.”

Admiral Blair, your strategic thinking at the highest echelons of U.S. military and national security decision-making has contributed to strong U.S. leadership as a Pacific power. The next U.S. administration faces myriad foreign policy challenges, many of which are in Asia. How should U.S. presidential candidates articulate the importance of Asia’s impact on America’s future?

Report: Asian Nuclear Arsenals Continue to Expand

By Ankit Panda
June 16, 2015

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) confirms that Asia’s nuclear arsenals are continuing to grow. 

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its latest Yearbook which, among other things, offers a snapshot of the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles. Overall, the good news is that the world, as a whole, is continuing to disarm. Nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—maintain 15,850 nuclear weapons between them.

Per SIPRI estimates, 4,300 on these are in operational deployment, and 1,800 of these are on “high operational alert.” Overall, disarmament was modest from 2014 to 2015. Per SIPRI estimates, the reduction amounted to just 500 fewer nuclear weapons—a 3 percent decrease. The drop in nuclear arsenals is more discernible over the last five years—stocks fell 29 percent over that period (22,600 in 2010 to 15,850 in 2015).

The Method to Rand Paul’s Madness

Peter Harris
June 16, 2015

For somebody aspiring to occupy the White House, Rand Paul is taking some obviously bold—and, in some quarters, unpopular—stands on foreign policy and national security. Republicans in particular have almost uniformlylambasted Paul over his positions on reforming the National Security Agency (NSA) and how to combat the Islamic State (IS), and most commentators agree that Paul is too contrarian to pass muster in primary season. But is the outspoken Kentuckian really authoring his own political demise or are there sound strategic reasons for Paul’s steadfast refusal to toe the party line?

In fact, a strategy of separation from the Republican mainstream is probably Paul’s best bet for building support for his particular brand of politics. Being different might not win him the mantle of Republican Party nominee (let alone the presidency) but it does not follow that Paul should eschew differentiation altogether. Consider the field that Paul finds himself a part of. There are now around a dozen serious candidates for the GOP nomination, and almost all of them tend to agree with one another on foreign policy—or, perhaps more accurately, they tend to avoid disagreeing with one another on foreign policy.

Free Trade in Name Only

Jim DeMint
June 16, 2015

"If we cannot win a legislative debate on the merits of free trade, the deal wasn't worth making."

When I was first elected to Congress in 1998, South Carolina's Fourth Congressional District was a reliably protectionist vote. In the words of former Senator Fritz Hollings, the entire delegation viewed free trade as “the commercial equivalent of unilateral disarmament."

As a free-market conservative, free trade is in my DNA. It is a trait shared by many of my former colleagues in Congress today, and they are correct that perfection is usually unattainable in the legislative process. That is why I voted in favor of granting President Bush trade promotion authority (TPA) in 2002 even though that bill contained what we now know is an egregiously ineffective welfare program—Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

Irreconcilable differences?

Jun 15th 2015

NEGOTIATIONS over a deal to extend Greece's bail-out, and to free up the money it needs to make repayments on its debt, broke down yet again on Sunday night in Brussels. In the narrow sense, the failure was due to the inability of the European Commission and the Greek team to narrow the gap on European demands for measures to increase Greece's budget surplus, including cuts to pensions and a hike in the value-added tax rate. But behind the technical impasse in Brussels lies a gulf between the political realities back home. In European capitals, politicians and voters who see themselves as having already spent billions to rescue Greece have grown fed up with demands for generosity. In Athens, the government led by the far-left Syriza party was elected on promises to undo EU-imposed austerity, but is being told to accept more of it.

White House Orders Agencies To Beef Up Cyber Defenses ‘Immediately’

JUNE 14, 2015

The White House has directed all federal agencies to take a series of swift measures to lock down government systems, in the wake of a devastating hack that possibly delivered Chinese spies data that could compromise national security.

Aliya Sternstein reports on cybersecurity and homeland security systems. She’s covered technology for more than a decade at such publications as National Journal's Technology Daily, Federal Computer Week and Forbes. Before joining Government Executive, Sternstein covered agriculture and derivatives ... Full Bio

A summary of the steps released late Friday evening does not explicitly mention the data breach, which was discovered in April and made public last week. Records on more than 4 million current and former civilian agency and military employees were leaked during the incident, which struck the Office of Personnel Management.

It is believed a second, related attack may have victimized people holding security clearances and those who have been investigated to obtain such clearances.

To avoid militarising the internet, cyberspace needs written rules agreed by all

Brandon Valeriano

In the world of foreign affairs, there are written or unwritten rules – behavioural norms – under which states operate. But there is little, if any, comparable set of structures governing actions taken in cyberspace. As this becomes a larger and more important part of life and the security implications that arise, this poses a problem.

The US government recently released its strategy for cyberspace, the fourth update since 2010. Britain did the same in 2011 and again in 2013. The aim of the documents aim is to outline the consequences of foreign actions taken in cyberspace in order to provide a deterrent to their use. The problem is, that in order to promote an international norm that could be agreed upon, any global strategy should really be drawn up by a state that hasn’t already launched cyber-attacks.

What the OPM Hack Means for the Future of Warfare

JUNE 14, 2015

It’s not like government officials didn’t see the attack coming. The Office of Personnel Management has faced repeated hacking attempts—including an incident last year when Chinese hackers tried to steal tens of thousands of files about U.S. workers who had applied for top-secret security clearance. But a breach of federal data that was announced last month appears to be significantly worse than the federal government originally let on.

Hackers may have stolen personnel files for as many as 14 million people. That number, much larger than the actual federal workforce, suggests that the hack may have exposed the information about additional categories of individuals, such as family members or government contractors.

It’s also more than three times as many people as original reports suggested,according to The Hill and other outlets, citing officials who claim the attack originated in China.

DISA Likely To Lose Commercial Satcom Role to Air Force SMC

June 12, 2015 

CAPITOL HILL: Who buys the bandwidth? Today the military has two separate, unequal, and inefficient systems for acquiring communications. But Congress is pushing hard to consolidate — probably at the expense of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

“I have been in situations where we needed to have SATCOM [satellite communications] and we didn’t have the right terminal for the right satellite… because the architecture is not integrated between commercial and military,” Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot, said this morning at the Capitol Hill Club. That’s more than inefficient: It’s a potential battle-loser.

“We need a unified acquisition agent to create a unified architecture,” Bridenstine told me after his public remarks. “The way I wrote my provision [in the House draft of the annual defense bill], the DoD would identify who that agent would be.”

The options are either DISA, which leases communication services for the military from the commercial sector, or the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), which buys military satellites.

US manufacturing: What does the future hold?

By Jack Garland
15 June 2015

While the long decline of the city's car manufacturing base has been well-documented, recently something strange has been happening in a place that was once called the "Paris of the Midwest".

The Big Three car manufacturers - Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler - which have long called this area home, have recently stopped shrinking - and have even begun growing.

Along with them, smaller manufacturers, from watch-makers to pickle companies, have sprung up.

That has led to Detroit experiencing something that it hasn't felt for a long time: the sense of possibility, and a renewed belief in the future.

The New Gunpowder

By Lt Gen JS Bajwa
16 Jun , 2015

‘“The crux of the Four Modernisation is the mastering of modern Science & Technology. Without the high-speed development of Science & Technology it is impossible to develop the national economy at high speed.” – Deng Xiaoping at the National Science Conference March 1978.

Gunpowder was reportedly invented in the 9th Century in China, and the earliest record of a written formula for gunpowder appears in the 11th Century Song Dynasty text, Wujing Zangyao.

This discovery led to the invention of fireworks and the earliest gunpowder weapons in China. Chinese military forces used gunpowder-based weapons (rockets, guns, cannons) and explosives (grenades and different types of bombs) against the Mongols who attempted to invade and breach city fortifications on China’s northern borders. The first recorded use of a rocket in battle is said to be in 1232 BCE against the Mongol hordes at Kai Feng Fu.

America's Military Needs a New Retirement Plan

James Joyner
June 16, 2015

While recent proposals are steps in the right direction, America needs to do more to prevent an impending military cost crisis.

After half a decade of study, the Pentagon has proposed to Congress a radical overhaul of the military retirement system. The new plan addresses the unfairness of a system in which most who serve in uniform earn nothing toward their future retirement but makes serving a full career less attractive. More importantly, while the primary incentive for the new plan is to improve military readiness by reducing the cost of retirees, it’s doubtful the plan will actually save money given its reliance on retention bonuses and failure to address the massive issue of healthcare costs.

Japan's Defense Reforms and Shinzo Abe's Image Problem

By Yuki Tatsumi
June 16, 2015

Japan’s prime minister has an image problem — and it stems from his signature national security legislation. 

During his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in April, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked about the national security legislation package that his government was then about to introduce to the Diet. He explained that this legislation aimed to make “the cooperation between the U.S. military and Japan’s Self Defense Forces even stronger, and the alliance still more solid, providing credible deterrence for the peace in the region.” Calling the reform package the “first of its kind and a sweeping one in our post-war history,” he declared that his government intended to enact the legislation “by this coming summer.” That was only six weeks ago. Today, Abe will struggle to get the legislation approved by the Diet this year.

Thailand’s Junta Deals Free Speech Another Blow

By Prashanth Parameswaran
June 16, 2015

On Monday, media sources reported that Thailand’s junta had banned the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) from holding a debate on the controversial lese majeste law.

The FCCT was planning on hosting a panel discussion on Wednesday evening on the law, which has long been criticized for being used to target political enemies of the state. According to Section 112 of Thailand’s criminal code, anyone convicted of defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count – one of the strictest punishments in the world for such an offence.

What Does Indonesia’s New Military Chief Pick Mean?

By Prashanth Parameswaran
June 16, 2015

Late last week, Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo proposed that Army chief of staff General Gatot Nurmantyo succeed General Moeldoko as Indonesia’s next military chief.

In so doing, Jokowi has confirmed earlier speculation that he was going to break with tradition in making his nomination for the post. As I pointed out in an earlier piece, since 1999, the Indonesian military chief position has rotated between the Army, Navy and Air Force in a move to reverse the traditionally dominant role of the army (See: “Who Will Be Indonesia’s Next Military Chief?”). If Jokowi had elected to continue on with established practice, he would have replaced Moeldoko, who was from the army, with Air Force chief of staff Marshall Agus Supriatna instead of Nurmantyo who is also an army man.

When Obama Leaves Office, the Military Will Be Smaller Than It Was Prior to 9/11

James Carafano
June 13, 2015 

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.

A “tiger mom” might go ballistic if her child came home with a “needs improvement” on his kindergarten report card. But most adults wouldn’t panic. They know there is time to get the kid up to standard before the deadline for that Harvard application falls due.

Defending America is different. A sub-par grade for military preparedness ought to be an immediate concern.

Today, despite our multibillion-dollar investment, America’s military is not all that great. That was the finding of a two-year research effort by a team of analysts at The Heritage Foundation.

Army Offers 3-Year Career Sabbaticals to Keep Top Soldiers

Jun 13, 2015
Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army is now allowing a small numbers of soldiers, both officer and enlisted, to take up to a three-year sabbatical from service to pursue educational or other personal challenges to avoid losing top soldiers to the civilian world.

The Career Intermission Pilot Program began as a U.S. Navy effort that Congress authorized as part of the Fiscal 2009 National Defense Authorization Act.

It’s open to all Regular Army and the United States Army Reserve ActiveGuard/Reserve personnel and allows 20 officers – commissioned or warrants -- and 20 enlisted soldiers per calendar year to transition to Inactive Ready Reserve status for up to three years.

“We are not opening this to just anyone; this is a retention program,” said Albert Eggerton, deputy chief of the Officer Division for Army G-1.