28 August 2015

Role of Bombers in Contemporary Warfare

By Sqn Ldr Vijainder K Thakur
27 Aug , 2015

No more are bombers used for strategic bombing aimed at crippling an adversary’s war fighting capability, as was the case in World War II. Now, they are used primarily for nuclear deterrence, force projection and attacking aircraft carriers with stand-off missiles. The IAF, the fourth largest air force in the world, currently has no bombers. The IAF’s principal adversary, the PLAAF, has invested heavily in bombers. It has a large fleet albeit of ageing aircraft which it assiduously nurtures and modernizes to steadily increase their lethality.

Since the end of World War II, apart from the use of the bomber aircraft having steadily declined worldwide, its role has changed. Advances in missile and radar technology have eroded the capability of bombers to penetrate contested airspace and consequently raised questions about their relevance in modern aerial warfare. Use of Low Observable (LO) shaping to thwart radar detection presents a solution albeit at a prohibitive cost. Currently, the United States is the only country which operates stealth bombers while Russia has started developing its own.

Role of Bombers in Contemporary Warfare

ISIS group draws more Indians, alarm bells in Delhi

Written by Praveen Swami 
August 26, 2015 

The 17 — all young men, barring a woman who has returned home — were educated, most hailing from middle-class or affluent families with conventional aspirations. Few had known links to Islamist political groups, and none to terrorism.

Early this month, the Ministry of Home Affairs called a meeting of the Directors General of Police and Home Secretaries from 12 states to discuss the cases of young Indians who, intelligence agencies suspect, have either joined the Islamic State or are headed to its strongholds.

This has begun to ring alarm bells in a government that only in November said the threat from the Islamic State was “negligible”.

Lists exclusively accessed by The Indian Express show 17 Indians are now missing, reported by Indian and foreign intelligence services to be active with the Islamic State or rival organisations like Jabhat al-Nusra.

Pakistan and Kazakhstan Look to Increase Cooperation

August 27, 2015

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met in Astana, Kazakhstan on Wednesday to discuss avenues to advance cooperation between their two countries. Sharif and Nazarbayev expressed their interest in deepening trade ties as well as expanding bilateral cooperation in a range of fields, including energy, science, information technology, and defense. The two leaders additionally discussed international issues. Nazarbayev and Sharif most recently met informally on the sidelines of the 2015 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa, Russia—Kazakhstan is an SCO member while Pakistan is expected to gain full membership in 2016.

“Pakistan wants strong economic and trade cooperation with Kazakhstan during his visit to the country,” Sharif noted at a joint press conference with Nazarbayev, adding that he had “invited [Kazakhstan] to join CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and they have kindly accepted.” Nazarbayev framed Sharif’s visit to Astana as the beginning of a new era in ties between the two countries: “In light of new realities, it is time to start a new page in the bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Pakistan,” he said.

Why Afghanistan matters for U.S.

By James B. Cunningham and Ryan Crocker
August 25, 2015

Afghanistan needs sustained U.S., partner support. ex-envoys say 
James B. Cunningham is a senior fellow and the Khalilzad Chair at the Atlantic Council. Ryan C. Crocker is dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Both served as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. The views expressed are their own.

(CNN)We arrived in Kabul in the summer of 2011 to assume the leadership of the American Embassy. The U.S. military surge had been completed and was beginning to reverse from its peak of some 100,000 troops. The U.S. civilian surge had peaked, with more than 1,200 American diplomats, civil servants and contractors throughout the country, working under difficult and dangerous conditions, to help the Afghan people rebuild their country.

We were tasked, along with our incredible military partners, to implement a strategy that would transition responsibility for security to Afghan hands -- where it belongs -- to create an international structure of military and development support based on U.S. leadership, to negotiate and implement a Strategic Partnership with Afghanistan, to help Afghans build the capacity to provide a better and more promising life, and to help Afghans achieve the first democratic political transition from one president to another in Afghanistan's history. All of this while denying the terrorist Taliban insurgency, who enjoy safe haven in Pakistan, the ability to recoup its losses in Afghanistan and to threaten the government itself. Four years later, that strategy is bearing fruit and many of those goals have been achieved in whole or in part.

Asia's Refugee Policy Vacuum

By Dr. Amy Nethery
August 27, 2015

This article is part of “Southeast Asia: Refugees in Crisis,” an ongoing series by The Diplomat for summer and fall 2015 featuring exclusive articles from scholars and practitioners tackling Southeast Asia’s ongoing refugee crisis. All articles in the series can be found here.
The Asian region is host to the largest number of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people in the world. Yet a broad absence of asylum policy at regional and domestic levels means that the region is ill-equipped to effectively respond to this problem.

This Asian asylum policy vacuum is the legacy of a long-standing antipathy towards the international refugee protection regime on the part of many Asian states, and a failure to adopt a regional approach to the issue. In early 2015, the Rohingya refugee crises challenged the region on the matter of this failure, and highlighted the devastating human effects of the absence of effective asylum policy.

Markets Plunge on Less Chinese Government Intervention

August 26, 2015

This past Monday, stock markets around the world fell on fears of an economic slowdown in China and worries that the Chinese government was taking a less active position in shoring up its own stock market. The FTSE 100 lost ₤74 billion ($115.4 billion), while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by more than 1,000 points during the trading day. China’s stock market lost 8.5 percent in a dramatic decline, wiping out its 2015 gains. While global stock markets recovered Tuesday, China’s stock market continued to fall. On Wednesday, the Shanghai Composite index gyrated wildly before finishing another 1.3 percent down.

Official attempts to jump start economic growth have been unsuccessful, and the leadership has simultaneously sought to increase the role of market forces within the financial sector. We think the government is right to take a less active stance in the stock and exchange markets, as China must continue to marketize its economy, slump or no slump. Although the timing is less than perfect, efforts to let exchange and stock markets prevail is in line with China’s reform agenda.

China's Crisis: The Price Of Change

Last week was an eventful one for China. First, the People's Bank of China shocked the financial world when itcut the yuan's reference rate against the U.S. dollar by nearly 2 percent, leading to a greater than 2 percent drop in the value of the yuan in offshore trading. The decline triggered a frenzy of speculation, including some expectations that the Chinese move would trigger a race to the bottom for Asian currencies.

Beijing said the adjustment was designed to fix distortions between the trading rate of the yuan and the rate it should have been at according to speculation, and that subsequent large shifts were unlikely. The International Monetary Fund, however, noted that the move could lead to a freer floating yuan - something the IMF has asked of Beijing before the organization considers including the yuan in its Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies. In comments made on the sidelines of its annual report on the Chinese economy, released later in the week, the IMF also noted that the yuan was not undervalued, despite the decline.

Also last week, Chinese state media issued a warning to retired officials to stay out of politics and not misuse their former networks and prestige. The warning followed reports in state media suggesting that the annual unofficial gathering of current and former Party officials at Beidaihe was canceled and would not serve as a policy-making venue in the future. The reports noted that Party officials had already held several additional sessions in Beijing and that decisions were being made in the open, not in some secretive gathering of Party elders. Other reports circulating in Chinese media warned that former Party and military officials were involved in real estate speculation along with other economic mismanagement and needed to stop.

The Coming "China Decade"

The stock market plunge continues in China this week. Prepare to hear a lot more about China’s slowdown in the days, weeks and months ahead. But don’t be fooled—China’s rise continues in spite of recent stumbles. These five stats explain why we’re still headed for a “China Decade,” when the emerging giant’s international influence crosses a crucial threshold. This piece has been repurposed from my column in TIME.

Rough Summer

It’s been a rough summer for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and most of the world has been caught off-guard by China’s wobbling. By July 2015, exports had already dropped 8 percent compared to the same time last year. Since June, the Shanghai stock market has plummeted almost 40 percent. On July 27, the stock market fell 8.5 percent, its greatest single-day drop in history. Or it was until yesterday, when it again fell 8.5 percent; the slide continued today as the Shanghai dove another 7.6 percent. To put that in perspective, “Black Tuesday,” which kicked off the Great Depression in 1929, saw the Dow plunge 12 percent. In the span of a month, China has experienced three events approaching “Black Tuesday” levels. Two weeks ago, China tried to kick-start its economy by devaluing the renminbi by 4.4 percent--but the move was so surprising that it actually fueled more uncertainty than it quelled. Fortunately for China, its stock market worries are not like America’s or Europe’s. Just one in 30 Chinese own stocks directly, limiting the ability to use stock market losses as a barometer for the health of the broader economy. And the market rose 150 percent before this precipitous fall.

The Future Does Not Belong to China

At least since the rise of Marxism in the 19th century, enthusiasm for “managed” economies has been a peculiar enthusiasm of intellectuals worldwide. From the 1920s to the 1960s, if not later, Fabian socialists were telling us that the Soviet Union, China, and other Communist countries had found a superior model to foster industrialization. 

Then in the 1980s, by which time it was obvious that the future was not to be found in Moscow, we started hearing about a more capitalist version of the “managed” economy — the kind practiced by Japan and its imitators in East Asia. Their “tiger” economies, we were told, would soon not only defeat the United States in economic competition but literally own us, lock, stock, and barrel.

That prediction hasn’t looked so hot ever since the Japanese economy went into a long swan dive starting in the early 1990s after the bursting of a real estate bubble. Yet enthusiasm for Asian alternatives to the “liberal” model practiced in the United States has not waned. It has merely transferred the object of its affections from Tokyo to Beijing.

How a Chinese slowdown will hit global growth

China's slowdown will cast a long shadow for global economic growth from the Americas to Australia.

As China’s markets fall and drag down global equities, the underlying concern is undoubtedly how much a slowdown in the Chinese economy will affect the rest of the world. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, China has notably emerged as one of the twin engines of world growth.

China has contributed as much to world GDP growth as the US in the past decade and a half, and even more than the world’s biggest economy since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the IMF. Indeed, the IMF projects that China will generate around double what the US contributes to world output until the end of the decade. Together, the US and China are expected to generate as much world output as the rest of the world put together.

Rise of Islamic State Reignites British Radicalization Threat

August 21, 2015 
Source Link

Anjem Choudary was recently arrested for his pro Islamic State remarks, but his role as a militant Salafist within the UK is well-known.

During much of the 1990s and 2000s, the United Kingdom was the undisputed hub of much of the jihadist radicalization and activism in Western Europe. This was caused by a confluence of factors, including active and entrenched Islamist and Salafist networks that provided a seedbed for the spread of jihadist ideology, the government’s tolerance of various ostensibly foreign-focused jihadists and the strong familial links between many British Muslim communities and Pakistan, a primary center of jihadist activity during this period. The net result was that British Muslims became involved in a wide range of attacks, including hostage-taking and suicide-bomb attacks in locations as diverse as Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Sweden and the UK itself. Today, up to a thousand British Muslims are believed to have joined jihadist groups fighting in Syria (BBC, May 14). Although much has changed since earlier waves of radicalization in the 1990s and 2000s, the latest wave nevertheless points to important continuing trends.

Islamic State Impact

Hot Issue: Beyond Sinai: Can the Islamic State Establish a Foothold in Mainland Egypt?

August 19, 2015 
Source Link

Executive Summary
The Islamic State, via its Sinai-based branch, Wilayat Sinai, continues to attack the Egyptian military and security services despite a surge in the number of army and security personnel. Northern Sinai is an ideal operational environment for an organization like the Islamic State: state control is limited, much of the population is disenfranchised and dark networks that deal in everything from arms to human beings abound. Many of these same conditions exist to a lesser degree in mainland Egypt. However, the Islamic State’s branch in Egypt may find that it is far more difficult to exploit these vulnerabilities outside of Sinai.


On November 2, 2014, the leadership of Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis swore bayah (allegiance) to the Islamic State’s caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (al-Arabiya, November 4, 2014). In the ten months since joining the Islamic State, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis—now called Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province)—has carried out a series of increasingly complex and audacious attacks on some of the Egyptian military’s most heavily fortified bases. Wilayat Sinai launched its most ambitious operation on July 1, when as many as 300 militants attacked multiple targets in the northern Sinai town of Shaykh Zuweid (al-Jazeera, July 1). Much like a January 29 attack that targeted the fortress-like Battalion 101 headquarters in al-Arish, the July 1 operation made use of suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs), mortars, Grad rockets and RPGs to attack more than 15 different military and security sites in and around Shaykh Zuweid. The attack resulted in at least 21 dead army and security personnel.

Two Chechen Battalions Are Fighting in Ukraine on Kyiv’s Side

It did not come as much of a surprise when the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, acknowledged that pro-Russian Chechens were involved in the conflict in Ukraine. This was something that everybody knew, but no Russian official had previously confirmed. In an interview with the state news agency RIA Novosti, Kadyrov stated: “All Chechen volunteers who fought for the militia of Donbas have returned. There are no more Chechens there” (RIA Novosti, July 31). In his usual ironic way, Kadyrov said that if the Chechens were officially deployed in the conflict zone in Donbas with Russia’s backing, they would aim for Kyiv, rather than the peripheral city of Donetsk. Chechnya’s leader insisted that the Chechen participants of the conflict in Ukraine were volunteers (YouTube, May 26, 2014).

This might have been a plausible explanation had there not been multiple videos on the Internet showing Chechen fighters in Donetsk who hardly looked like volunteers. The equipment and military preparedness of the Chechen “volunteers” clearly indicated that they were members of the interior ministry and the defense ministry units stationed in Chechnya (Zn.ua, December 10, 2014). Kadyrov also noted that the Chechens were withdrawn from Donetsk to honor the truce. “When the truce was announced, we invited our volunteers back home—let them stay home,” he said. At some point, Moscow decided to withdraw some people from eastern Ukraine in order to avoid questions about the involvement of its military in the conflict in the neighboring state. The number of pro-Russian Chechens fighting in eastern Ukraine should not be exaggerated: there were most likely several dozen—at most, 100. That is approximately the number that can be seen in multiple YouTube videos (YouTube, December 14, 2014). It appears thekadyrovtsy were in the Donetsk area from the end of August 2014 until February 2015, when they were called home.

Pentagon IG Investigating Whether Intelligence Estimates Were Altered to Show Progress Against ISIS in Iraq

Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo
August 26, 2015

Inquiry Weighs Whether ISIS Analysis Was Distorted

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations that military officials have skewed intelligence assessments about the United States-led campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State to provide a more optimistic account of progress, according to several officials familiar with the inquiry.

The investigation began after at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agencyanalyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command — the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State — were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.

Fuller details of the claims were not available, including when the assessments were said to have been altered and who at Central Command, or Centcom, the analyst said was responsible. The officials, speaking only on the condition of anonymity about classified matters, said that the recently opened investigation focused on whether military officials had changed the conclusions of draft intelligence assessments during a review process and then passed them on.

Turkish Intelligence Denies That It Tipped Off Al Qaeda That U.S.-Trained Fighters Were Coming

Mitchell Prothero
August 26, 2015

Turkey denies allegations it tipped off al Qaida abductors 

GAZIANTEP, Turkey The Turkish government Tuesday denied accusations by Syrian rebels that its intelligence service had tipped off an al Qaida-linked group that then abducted the commander and 20 members of a U.S.-trained group of Syrian fighters about to confront the Islamic State.

In a statement to McClatchy, which first reported on Monday the allegations from multiple Syrian rebel groups that the Nusra Front had been alerted by the Turkish government, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office said it denied “the allegations in the strongest terms possible. The idea that Turkey, a key supporter of the Train and Equip Program, would seek to undermine its own interests in Syria is ludicrous.”

The statement was attributed to a senior member of the prime minister’s office.

The dispute centers around the arrival into Syria of the first 54 members of a program by a coalition of anti-Islamic State members – including the U.S., Jordan, the United Kingdom and Turkey – to train and equip carefully vetted Syrian rebels for the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The so called “T&E” group is part of a moderate Syrian rebel group known as Division 30, which has drawn members from a variety of units that were once under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. The FSA led the initial military uprising against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad before being eclipsed by a number of jihadist and Islamist groups, including the Islamic State.

Is Academic Freedom Under Fire in Kazakhstan?

August 26, 2015

Nazarbayev University released a statement today pushing back on Professor Marcel de Haas’ allegations that the university terminated his position because of pressure from Russia.
Eurasianet’s Peter Leonard reported on Haas’ situation Monday, writing that the professor–a retired Lt. Col in the Royal Netherlands Army with an extensive academic career before joining Nazarbayev University last year–says he “is being squeezed out of the state-funded university over the management’s displeasure at a planned lecture on Ukraine that it deemed ‘politically sensitive.’”

Shigeo Katsu, the president of Nazarbayev University, wrote in a statement released today that de Haas’ allegations “are entirely without merit, a fact that is readily demonstrable by the record of events. NU has never been subject to pressure from any government to limit the expression of its faculty or students.”

Why Won’t the U.S. Work With the Most Powerful Rebel Group in Syria, Ahrar al-Sham

Ben Hubbard
August 25, 2015

Ahrar al-Sham, Rebel Force in Syria’s ‘Gray Zone,’ Poses Challenge to U.S.

ANTAKYA, Turkey — A powerful rebel group with thousands of fighters, political clout and close ties to key regional powers has emerged as the most powerful opposition force in Syria in recent months. It has vowed to fight the Islamic State and called for engagement with the West.

But despite a long struggle by the United States to find a viable opposition in Syria to counter President Bashar al-Assad and fight the Islamic State, the Obama administration has shown no interest in working with the group, Ahrar al-Sham, or the Free Men of Syria.

The problem for the United States is Ahrar al-Sham’s grounding in militant Islam — a concern that has also dogged previous efforts to find partners in Syria.

Confronted yet again with the reality in Syria — where the government, the Islamic State and an array of insurgents are fighting a complex civil war — some analysts and former United States officials say it is increasingly clear that to effectively challenge the Islamic State and influence the future of the country will require at least cautiously engaging with groups like Ahrar al-Sham.

British PM Orders MI6 to Redouble Effort to Capture or Kill ISIS Executioner Jihadi John

August 25, 2015

Cameron orders MI6 to find ‘Jihadi John’

LONDON, Aug. 24 (UPI) – Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a redoubling of efforts to kill or capture the Islamic State masked executioner known as “Jihadi John.”

The demand that the British intelligence service MI6 find the British-born militant,seen beheading victims in several videos, came days after a man believed to be the unmasked executioner, identified as Mohammed Emwazi, 27, showed his face in an announcement in which he said he would continue “cutting off heads” after he returned to Britain.

“In almost daily meetings now, Cameron first asks what is the latest on the hunt for this Jihadi John character and he has made his feelings known. Months ago intelligence chiefs said they believed they would track down the terrorist and there have been some leads. But this guy has proved very elusive. It is thought that he has been on the move and may have even travelled to a different country from Syria but he has used the chaos of the area to get past the authorities,” a British military source told the British newspaper The Daily Mirror.

“Jihadi john” is believed to be responsible for the beheadings of at least seven hostages in Syria. A pause in the release of videos featuring him led British officials to believe he fled to Libya.

Turkish Intelligence Warned Al Qaeda About Movements of U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels, Report

Mitchell Prothero
August 25, 2015

Syrian rebels: Turkey tipped al Qaida group to U.S.-trained fighters 

GAZIANTEP, Turkey The kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians moments after they entered Syria last month to confront the Islamic State was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence, multiple rebel sources have told McClatchy.

The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State.

Rebels familiar with the events said they believe the arrival plans were leaked because Turkish officials were worried that while the group’s intended target was the Islamic State, the U.S.-trained Syrians would form a vanguard for attacking Islamist fighters that Turkey is close to, including Nusra and another major Islamist force, Ahrar al Sham.

A senior official at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, declined to respond to questions about the incident, saying any discussion of Turkey’s relationship with Nusra was off limits.

Only the Americans and the Turks knew. Rebel officer

We Don’t Need a New Army to Deal with Fourth Generation Foes; We Need a Smart One

August 25, 2015 

We Don’t Need a New Army to Deal with Fourth Generation Foes; We Need a Smart One

One of the primary fallacies regarding Fourth Generational Warfare (4GW) is that the United States must totally retool its force structure to deal with this emerging evolution in warfare; this is not the case. 4GW means that foreign and domestic non-state actors are challenging the monopoly that nation-states have enjoyed on the application of force since the end of the Thirty Years War. That does not mean that war between nation-states has become obsolete.

The fact that the United States enjoys a temporary overmatch against most plausible conventional foes has not made traditional warfighting a thing of the past. Some potential American foes intend to combine a combination of conventional and unconventional warfare in any conflict with the United States in a concept known as hybrid warfare. However, any hybrid war will probably begin with a conventional stage, and only go hybrid if America’s enemy perceives that it is losing.

ISIS demolition of Palmyra temple has lessons for both Left and Right in India

Girish Shahane

The Left views shrine desecration purely in political terms, the Right purely as an outcome of doctrine. But an accurate analysis needs both a political critique and a critique of Islam.

In a world filled with picturesque ruins, Palmyra is among the most magical, its beauty at certain moments so overwhelming that it becomes painful. I was privileged to spend a few days there five years ago, including one night in accommodation within the main complex which meant we had the columns, arches and buildings virtually to ourselves in the fresh dawn. At twilight, as we watched the sandstone acquire a delicate rose glow, I felt like a bridge in time had opened up, and Queen Zenobia might pass through the central avenue at the head of a procession.

I have waited with incipient grief and anger for news of ISIS destroying the carefully reconstructed 2,000- year-old treasure. The group repeatedly vandalised the site after it took control of the region in May, but the scale of its destruction accelerated last week when it beheaded Palmyra’s revered 82 year-old chief curator Khaled Asaad, and later dynamited one of the most important structures, the temple of Baal Shamin.

Shyrokyne ‘Demilitarized Zone’: Russia’s New Idea of Conflict-Management in Ukraine’s East

Russia proposes to turn the Ukrainian stronghold Shyrokyne, key to defending the strategic Azov sea port city of Mariupol (Mariupil), into a “demilitarized zone” under joint or shared control by Ukraine, Russia and the “Donetsk people’s republic” (“DPR”), under the indispensable aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

The Contact Group on Ukraine—a. k. a. the Minsk Group: Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, and the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (“DPR, LPR”)—has recently been debating a proposal to turn Shyrokyne, key to defending the Ukrainian-held city of Mariupol, into a “demilitarized zone.”

Once Ukrainian troops would evacuate Shyrokyne, they and the “DPR” forces would take up positions 2.5 kilometers westward and eastward, respectively, of the demilitarized zone. The zone would be handed over to a mixed observation group comprised of Russian, Ukrainian and “DPR” officers, under the auspices of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC, a group of Russian and Ukrainian senior military officers overseeing the ceasefire in the field, unrelated to the Minsk Group). Reconstruction of war-ruined villages could begin, and internally displaced persons could return. Personnel of Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior and of the “DPR’s interior ministry” would jointly police the zone, armed only with handguns (submachine guns would be banned). As a sine qua non, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM, an unarmed civilian mission) would establish a fixed presence round the clock in the zone. The SMM considered installing two posts in a demilitarized Shyrokyne. This Mission also offered to facilitate joint mine-clearing work by Ukrainian and “DPR” troops in Shyrokyne, preparatory to its demilitarization (Ukraiynska Pravda, July 28; Tsenzor.net, UNIAN, July 29; Donetskoye Agentstvo Novostey, July 31, August 4).

Sri Lanka: A Lesson for U.S. Strategy

By Kadira Pethiyagoda
August 26, 2015

For much of the period since its independence, Sri Lanka attracted scant regard throughout the West. At the culmination of its civil war, some attention did begin to be paid to human rights issues. In the last few years, however, Sri Lanka has begun to feature as a country of strategic relevance to the great powers. For one, it sits at the center of the Indian Ocean, likely to beone of the world’s most strategically contested regions in the coming century. Sri Lanka is also halfway between China and its energy sources in the Middle East, something Beijing had responded to largely successfully until January this year when Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the presidency. Last week’s parliamentary elections were a further blow to Beijing, when Rajapaksa’s party lost to the center-right United National Party led by pro-Western Ranil Wickramasinghe

US Admiral: China 'Very Interested' in RIMPAC 2016

August 27, 2015

Outgoing U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Jon Greenert said that this Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, is “very interested in RIMPAC 2016,” Defense News reported. Greenert spoke with Wu for 90 minutes in a video call on Tuesday morning, then recounted parts of that conversation at a Washington, D.C. luncheon hosted by the Mine Warfare Association, the Surface Navy Association GWC, Association of Naval Aviation, and the Submarine League.

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise, or RIMPAC, is billed as the “world’s largest international maritime exercise” by the U.S. Navy, whose Pacific Fleet hosts the biennial exercise near Hawaii. China was invited to participate in RIMPAC for the first time in 2014, but some have already argued that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) should not be invited back in 2016. The Diplomat’s own Ankit Panda argued in May that excluding China from RIMPAC 2016 “imposes… a very reasonable cost on China for its preference for unilateralism on the open seas.”

Russia Begins Major Military Exercise in the Arctic

August 25, 2015

Russia Launches Military Drills In Arctic

MOSCOW — Russia launched military exercises in the Arctic on Monday as it seeks to bolster claims to the region’s vast hydrocarbon and mineral wealth.

More than 1,000 soldiers, 14 aircraft and 34 special military units are taking part in drills in northern Siberia, weeks after Russia pressed a claim at the United Nations for an additional 1.2 million square kilometers (463,000 square miles) of Arctic shelf.

“These drills are aimed at increasing the security of the Russian Arctic, ensuring our state’s economic freedom in this region, and protecting our territory and targets from potential military threats,” the defence ministry quoted Vladimir Korolyov, the commander of Russia’s northern naval fleet, as saying Monday.

Korolyov also stressed that the exercise was “purely defensive in nature” and was not directed against any third country.

Russia conducted similar military drills in May.

Moscow has been trying to stake claim to more of the region’s vast energy and mineral resources, increasingly accessible due to the receding ice caps, despite warnings from environmentalists.

The Arctic shelf claim Russia made earlier this month includes the North Pole and could potentially give it access to some 4.9 billion tons of hydrocarbons, according to government estimates.

Why Shale Oil is Finished

Written by Andrew Butter
August 25th, 2015 

There are plenty of reasons put-forward for why oil prices more than halved over the past year. But no one's talking about a bubble that bust; seems like the world is wallowing in denial. Likely because if indeed it was a bubble (that bust), it's going to be a LONG TIME before anyone sees $100 again, and just about everybody has exposure to that scenario.

"Blame it on the Saudi's...BOMB THEM" says Donald Trump, well actually he didn't say that; but that's the sort of stupid remark you'd expect from a Republican Party Presidential front-runner.

On a Google Search I found ONE reference to the idea it might have been a bubble (that bust). In January David Rosenburg wrote..."with perfect hindsight, oil was in a classic bubble".

Ah-ha! "Might"... "Perfect Hindsight", sounds like a hedge.

Bubbles do happen, they really do. But like sex in Victorian times, no one wants to talk about them.

Israel: The Case Against Attacking Iran


On Aug. 21, Israeli Channel 2 Television aired a recording of Ehud Barak, Israel's former defense minister and former prime minister, saying that on three separate occasions, Israel had planned to attack Iran's nuclear facilities but canceled the attacks. According to Barak, in 2010 Israel's chief of staff at the time, Gabi Ashkenazi, refused to approve an attack plan. Israeli Cabinet members Moshe Yaalon and Yuval Steinitz backed out of another plan, and in 2012 an attack was canceled because it coincided with planned U.S.-Israeli military exercises and a visit from then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The fact that the interview was released at all is odd. Barak claimed to have believed that the tape would not be aired, and he supposedly tried unsuccessfully to stop the broadcast. It would seem that Barak didn't have enough clout to pressure the censor to block it, which I suppose is possible.

Yaalon, like Ashkenazi, was once chief of staff of Israel Defense Forces but was also vice premier and Barak's successor as defense minister. Steinitz had been finance minister and was vocal in his concerns about Iran. What Barak is saying, therefore, is that a chief of staff and a vice premier and former chief of staff blocked the planned attacks. As to the coinciding of a U.S.-Israeli exercise with a planned attack, that is quite puzzling, because such exercises are planned well in advance. Perhaps there was some weakness in Iranian defenses that opened and closed periodically, and that drove the timing of the attack. Or perhaps Barak was just confusing the issue.

Imp Papers

The Death of Mullah Omar and the Rise of ISIS in Afghanistan http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Mullah%20Omar%20Backgrounder.pdf

· China and South Asia- I - How the Collapse of ‘Chimerica’ Will Affect South Asia http://www.isas.nus.edu.sg/Attachments/PublisherAttachment/ISAS_Briefs_No._385_-_China_and_South_Asia_-_I_20082015163345.pdf

· China and South Asia- II - Growing US-China Military Rivalry: A Danger of Spill-Over into South Asia http://www.isas.nus.edu.sg/Attachments/PublisherAttachment/ISAS_Briefs_No._386_-_China_and_South_Asia_-_II_20082015163056.pdf

The Growing Importance of Open-Source Intelligence in the U.S. Intelligence Community

Jennifer Peters
August 26, 2015

Spy Agencies Are Like Old-School Porn — But That’s Changing

In the fight against the Islamic State (IS), some pretty surprising tools have come to the fore. Teamed up with US forces, Kurdish militias in Syria have been turning to Google-based maps and Android devices to direct US air support. With publicly available tools like these, Kurdish fighters can record the exact GPS coordinates of the enemy and forward a map to their US partners, hundreds of miles away, who can then rain terror — and bombs — on the enemy, and can do so with some measurable degree of accuracy.

This technologically enhanced partnership is only possible, really, because of open-source information and software, like Google Earth. And it marks a gigantic shift in the way the world — and particularly those within the government — views both espionage and this publicly accessible information. As we move further into the 21st century, one of the biggest shifts will be seen in the intelligence community, which is slowly moving toward more open-source information-gathering tools.

Last month, Raymond Cook was appointed the next chief information officer for the US intelligence community — in short, the top IT guy in the free world. In his new role, one of his greatest challenges will be helping the intelligence community find and utilize more tools geared toward finding and synthesizing open-source intelligence.

Despite Its Age U-2 Spyplane Still Flying Secret Missions Today

W.J. Hennigan
August 26, 2015

U-2 spy plane pilot lives on the edge – of space, danger and obsolescence

Maj. David Brill squeezes into a bulky yellow spacesuit, lowers a fishbowl-size helmet onto his head and readies himself for a flight into the stratosphere.

In an hour, he will roar aloft in a U-2, the iconic single-seat spy plane — capable of flying to 70,000 feet, or more than 13 miles high — first built in the early Cold War.

At that altitude, the only humans higher are in the International Space Station. The curving Earth appears like a ghostly vision below and the blackness of outer space looms overhead.

“There are these moments when I can see the sun over my left shoulder and the moon over my right,” said Brill, 36. “There aren’t a lot of people that get to experience that.”

A van takes Brill to the flight line, where he steps into the summer sun, clambers up a stair ladder and stuffs himself into the snug cockpit. His 6-foot frame fills up every bit of space as he tugs down on the canopy and snaps it shut.

Israeli Arrested for Cyber Attack on Overstock.com

August 25, 2015

Israeli arrested for alleged cyber attack on Utah-based Overstock.com 

The FBI has arrested an Israeli man for allegedly trying to take down the computers of Salt Lake City-based online retailer Overstock.com, according to a court case unsealed Monday in federal court.

Kirill Alekseyevich Chudinov was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in early August after arriving there on a flight, according to court records.

Chudinov is accused of violating a federal law that prohibits what are known as denial of service attacks in which computers are bombarded with various commands or requests in order to crash or interrupt them.

He was arrested earlier this month after an investigation by Overstock.com and the FBI revealed Chudinov was allegedly behind the attacks from October of last year into 2015.

The FBI linked gmail addressed to Chudinov and found an article he had written whose title was translated as, “How to bring down every third site from your laptop,” according to court documents. An agent also viewed his Linkedin page that describes him as an independent program development professional from Israel.“

He was arrested on Aug. 6 and released on a $50,000 bond. Chudinov’s passport was confiscated. He is living in San Francisco and a judge ordered him not to travel beyond northern California or Utah without permission.

The US Military Gets A Guidebook to the Cloud

AUGUST 25, 2015

DISA rolls out a collection of best practices for a Pentagon herding its myriad information services toward their cloud-based future.

The Defense Department’s information technology arm hasunveiled a guide for IT shops in the defense and military space planning a move to the cloud.

Frank Konkel is the editorial events editor for Government Executive Media Group and a technology journalist for its publications. He writes about emerging technologies, privacy, cybersecurity, policy and other issues at the intersection of government and technology. Frank also runs Nextgov's ...Full Bio

Released by the Defense Information Systems Agency, the guide is aimed atDOD “mission owners” wanting to migrate an existing information system from a physical environment to a virtualized cloud environment. The framework is based on real-world cloud pilot efforts within DOD.

Army Takes Biggest Hit InOPM Hack

AUGUST 25, 2015

The service will cover 40 percent of the Pentagon's plan to spend $132 million on credit monitoring.

Federal agencies have begun submitting proposals for how they will cover the costs of responding to the hack of background investigation data maintained by the Office of Personnel Management, and for some it is coming with a hefty price tag.

Eric Katz joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 after graduating from The George Washington University, where he studied journalism and political science. He has written for his college newspaper and an online political news website and worked in a public affairs office for the Navy’s ...Full Bio

Last month, OPM notified agencies it would charge them for their share of the protection services being offered to hack victims, proportional to the number of impacted former and current employees, contractors and applicants connected to each agency. Now that OPM has notified each agency of what they owe for fiscal 2015, agencies must shift funds around to make the required payments.

Developing a Proportionate Response to a Cyber Incident

Author: Tobias Feakin, Senior Analyst and Director, International Cyber Policy Centre, Australian Strategic Policy Institute

As offensive cyber activity becomes more prevalent, policymakers will be challenged to develop proportionate responses to disruptive or destructive attacks. Already, there has been significant pressure to "do something" in light of the allegedly state-sponsored attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Sands Casino. But finding a timely, proportionate, legal, and discriminatory response is complicated by the difficulty in assessing the damage to national interests and the frequent use of proxies. Perpetrators have plausible deniability, frustrating efforts to assign responsibility. Past experience suggests that most policy responses have been ad hoc. 

In determining the appropriate response to a state-sponsored cyber incident, policymakers will need to consider three variables: the intelligence community's confidence in its attribution of responsibility, the impact of the incident, and the levers of national power at a state's disposal. 

While these variables will help guide responses to a disruptive or destructive cyberattack, policymakers will also need to take two steps before an incident occurs. First, policymakers will need to work with the private sector to determine the effect of an incident on their operations. Second, governments need to develop a menu of preplanned response options and assess the potential impact of any response on political, economic, intelligence, and military interests. 

Background: Cyber Incidents and Uncertainty