12 September 2015

1965 War: Lessons Learnt

By Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh
11 Sep , 2015


Although we did succeed in whittling down PAK’s fighting potential, especially armour, and occupied chunks of her territory, most of our offensive actions, however, fizzled out into a series of stalemates without achieving any decisive results. With the exception of the HAJIPIR offensive, none of the remaining thrusts were pushed to a successful conclusion. This to my mind was due to a faulty strategic concept of the campaign which resulted in a number of ineffective jabs instead of a few selected thrusts in force. In consequence, there were fierce slugging matches spread over a vast area in which we destroyed each other’s potential but reached no strategic decisions.

Our strategy for war should have been confined to the concentration of effort on a few, well-defined offensive actions on narrow frontages to achieve rapier like thrusts deep into enemy territory and aimed at objectives of military and political importance. The momentum of the offensives should then have been maintained by continual regrouping of forces to ensure the required superiority of effort along the chosen thrusts. In this lies the essence of higher direction of War.

Fifty Years Since Haji Pir: Where did we go wrong?

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
Issue: Vol. 30.3 Jul-Sep 2015 | Date : 11 Sep , 2015

50 years have gone by since the capture of Haji Pir Pass by India and its return to Pakistan under the Tashkent Agreement. Where did we go wrong? We have had Parliament resolutions that Kashmir is an integral part of India, and rightfully so because the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir was acceded to India by the then ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh through an Instrument of Accession signed on October 26, 1947, post massive Pakistani infiltration. The CFL had been drawn under the 1949 Karachi Agreement under aegis of the UN Commission. It was Pakistan (not India) that breached the Cease Fire Line (CFL) through massive infiltrations by her Gibraltar Force and ‘Op Grand Slam’.

Foreign Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto convinced Ayub Khan that Pakistan was in a position to dislodge the Indians from Kashmir…

Private equity and India’s economic development

by Rohit Kapur, Vivek Pandit, and Toshan Tamhane
August 2015

Our new survey determines if India’s emerging private-equity sector has helped or hurt the country and its companies.

Private equity has injected more than $100 billion of capital into India in the past 13 years, providing scores of companies with a vital new funding source. Yet the sector continues to be considered a mixed success. Has private-equity capital helped bring new skills and capabilities to investee companies? Or has it simply pushed companies to sweat assets, take on excessive leverage, and strip nonessential components to benefit a few?

The much bigger and more useful question is whether India has benefited from the contribution of private equity. We examined data and surveyed dozens of stakeholders, including key regulators, and found that it has played a pivotal role in the development of small and medium-size enterprises and critical industries, spurred job growth, and facilitated the development of strategic capabilities. And while it has shortcomings, we are optimistic about the role it can continue to play in India’s economic development.
What we found

Al Qaeda Fighters Capture Air Base in Northwestern Syria

September 9, 2015

Insurgents Capture Army Air Base in Northwestern Syria

BEIRUT — Insurgents led by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria captured a northwestern army air base Wednesday after a two-year siege, leaving the entire province of Idlib free of government forces, state media and an activist group said.

A state television report said government forces at the Abu Zuhour air base “have evacuated their positions and moved to another point.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said insurgents, including members of the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, captured the base under the cover of a sandstorm and forced government forces out of their last post in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

The local Coordination Committees posted a photo on its Facebook page it said showed Nusra Front fighters standing in front of warplanes inside the base. Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Observatory, said militants were aided by a Mideast-wide sandstorm that reduced visibility.

The capture of Abu Zuhour is the latest in a series of setbacks for government forces in Idlib province. Earlier this year, militant groups captured the provincial capital, also named Idlib, as well as other towns and villages.


SEPTEMBER 10, 2015

In a number of civil wars, the final, decisive mistake of the incumbent government occurred when it decided for reasons of prestige or strategy to overextend its military to hold exposed positions, thus inviting the destruction of key military assets. This was the case of Chiang Kai-shek’s post-WWII attempt to hold Manchuria, which ended in the destruction of the elite American-trained and American-equipped Chinese Nationalist armies and other formations leading directly to the end of the Chinese Civil War. In 1975, the South Vietnamese attempt to hold too far forward doomed its Army’s 1st Infantry Division and the Marine Division, thereby initiating the South Vietnamese collapse along the coast. The mechanisms of defeat were not just the tactical loss of units through combat, but also the wider demoralization of commanders and soldiers upon realizing that they were caught up in a debacle.

Rethinking nuclear Pakistan

September 09, 2015 

The report, A Normal Nuclear Pakistan, published by Carnegie Endowment and the Stimson Center, begins by asking: Can Pakistan truly be considered a ‘normal’ nuclear state in the global nuclear order?

The short answer should be ‘yes’, if the international community led by the US is ready to understand that Pakistan’s security compulsions don’t permit open-ended support of WMD nonproliferation goals. But at the same time, Pakistan’s nuclear security managers have to recognise that our rapidly growing nuclear arsenal adds nothing to strengthen our deterrence capabilities.

Despite the fact that the report does not provide any concrete evidence to support claims of Pakistan setting to become the third largest nuclear arsenal within a decade, our nuclear establishment has moved away from the policy of ‘credible minimum deterrence’. After 1998, Pakistan maintained the policy of minimum credible deterrence but the adoption of a ‘full spectrum deterrence’ posture, after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has sparked concerns throughout the international community.

The Second Fall of Musa Qala: How the Taleban are expanding territorial control

Author: Thomas Ruttig
3 September 2015

While Afghanistan’s northern provinces – mainly Kunduz, Faryab and Sar-e Pul – have been in the media’s focus on this year’s Taleban offensive, fighting in their southern Afghan strongholds has geared up too. Within one month the Taleban were able to capture two district centres in Helmand, Musa Qala (still contested) and Nawzad. This combines with an increase in the number of districts falling under their control all over the country compared to previous years. AAN’s senior analyst, Thomas Ruttig, looks at the new fighting around Musa Qala, zooms out to countrywide developments and sees the Taleban making headway – not dramatically, but more stealthily, as most district centres are relatively quickly recaptured by Afghan forces. But district control and keeping hold of the district centres is not the same – for both sides. The Taleban seem to be continuing a long-term strategy by increasing the strain on the Afghan armed forces.

Wondering Why China Held Its Parade? Here Are 5 Things Beijing Accomplished.

September 08, 2015

China’s highly anticipated military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japanese surrender in World War II was successfully held on September 3 in Beijing, with a perfectly blue and clear sky as its background. The event was a rousing success because it achieved precisely what the Chinese government wanted it to achieve from its own perspective. This is true even though international observers and some countries might have certain concerns. The major achievements for the Chinese government include the following:

First and foremost, the successful military parade, once again, shows that Xi Jinping is the undisputed leader in China. He firmly controls China’s powerful military, despite some recent speculations that his position has been weakened by a struggling stock market and slowing economy. Other former state leaders also appeared alongside Xi, including Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, but the message is very clear that Xi is in firm control today. This is particularly important because Xi will push for some serious organizational reforms within the PLA in the near future, thus making the PLA a truly modern military that is capable of defending China’s national interests.

China's Premier Defends Economic Health at Global Meeting

September 10, 2015

The Annual Meeting of the New Champions, a World Economic Forum conference hosted each year in Dalian, China, opened on Wednesday. It’s become something of a tradition for the meeting, more often known simply as the “Summer Davos,” opening with a speech from China’s premier defending the basic health of his country’s economy.

Last year, Prime Minister Li Keqiang used his keynote speech to underline that China’s economy was healthy, despite easing into a “new normal” of slower (but more sustainable growth). This year was much the same: with the Summer Davos coming soon on the heels of a sharp downturn in China’s stock markets, Li spent much of his time on the opening day of the meeting trying to convince global economic leaders that China’s economy is in good health.

China’s economy is “turning for the better while stabilizing,” Li said, while acknowledging that “difficulties remain.” He also insisted that China’s leaders “will not be swayed by short-term fluctuations of economic indicators” – almost an exact quote from his 2014 speech as well. In both cases, Li’s goal was to convince leaders and investors alike that China will continue to promote structural economic reform rather than being spooked by slowing growth.

Why China's 'Retired' Leaders Don't Leave Quietly

Under mainland China’s long-standing institutional system, having elders interfere in government has been a serious problem. Some veteran cadres worked conscientiously all their lives, never turning crooked. They retired at 60 – but then found that they can no longer easily supplement their meager salaries. After retirement, it’s hard for them to go out, to see a doctor, or even to live. So in the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of the “59-year-old phenomenon”: some leading cadres, just before retirement, turned especially corrupt in order to provide themselves with a “retirement fund.”

The Chinese idiom that “when a person leaves, the tea gets cold” doesn’t refer literally to tea. Instead, the tea stands for power. Some leading cadres, especially the top local leaders, use the cadre appointment system to promote their own people before retirement. Then, these leaders officially retire but don’t actually retire — they rule from behind the curtains and continue to interfere in politics. It’s almost enough to make one think that China’s 2,000-year-old tradition of dynasties has returned.

Massive Kazakh Corruption Case Targets 21 Former Officials

September 10, 2015

A witness in former Kazakh Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov’s corruption case has recanted his testimony, claiming now that authorities pressured him. According to AKIpress, Zhanarys Kabdoldayev, who was chairman of StalTsink Trading house and Astana Dorservisplus LLP, said, “I was forced. They gave a prepared crime plot with specific sums and dates, they fill it out and told me that everything had already been found out without me.”

Akhmetov is one of the highest ranking former government officials in Kazakhstan to come under the heel of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s anti-corruption push. As Tengrinews put it, in November 2014, Nazarbayev said “there would be no exceptions in the fight against corruption in Kazakhstan.” A few days after saying that Kazakhstan would prosecute “high-ranking officials in spite of their posts” Akhmetov was placed under house arrest.

U.S. Policy Towards China: Imposing Costs Doesn't Mean Ending Engagement

September 10, 2015

Discussing U.S.-China relations is almost a recipe for misunderstanding, even among people who ostensibly speak the same language. Some misunderstandings are deliberate to discredit the advocate; some are simply inadvertent because of the emotional charge of the issue. The United States and China once cooperated and saw each other as useful strategic partners, but much of that changed after end of the Soviet threat and Beijing’s violent crackdown on demonstrators in 1989. The desire to return to that kind of camaraderie, to prevent the emergence of another Cold War, and to find some way to avoid history’s repeated and tragic tale of great and rising powers coming to conflict necessarily makes the public discussion heated. The potential consequences are catastrophic.

U.S. Poised to Indict China’s Hackers for Cyber Blitz

After months of passivity, the Obama administration is on the cusp of bringing criminal charges against Chinese cyberspies in retaliation for wreaking havoc on U.S. networks.

The Obama administration is debating whether to issue financial sanctions and potentially criminal indictments against Chinese people and businesses engaged in hacking of American companies, U.S. officials and China analysts told The Daily Beast. It’s a sign of escalating tensions between the United States and China over cyberspying.

Indictments on their own would be largely symbolic, since the accused would almost certainly never see the inside of an American courtroom. But pairing them with economic sanctions would constitute the administration’s strongest public response to a years-long campaign of Chinese cyber espionage that officials say has stolen billions of dollars in trade secrets and intellectual property from companies in practically every sector of the American economy.

UK Government Now Has Its Own Drone “Kill List” of British Jihadis

Nicholas Watt
September 9, 2015

The ‘kill list’: RAF drones have been hunting UK jihadis for months 

Unmanned RAF aerial drones armed with Hellfire missiles have been patrolling the skies over Syria for months seeking to target British jihadis on a “kill list” drawn up by senior ministers on the UK National Security Council shortly after the election. 

As the defence secretary Michael Fallon said ministers would not hesitate to approve further strikes against jihadis who have their own kill list, Jeremy Corbynled a cross-party group of MPs who raised doubts about the change in strategy.

Corbyn said: “There has to be a legal basis for what’s going on. This is war without parliamentary approval. And in fact parliament specifically said no to this war in September 2013.”

Senior Liberal Democrats suggested that the RAF drone strike, which led to the killing of two British Islamic State members on 21 August, went beyond anything that would have been approved when Nick Clegg sat on the NSC. “The hawks have been let loose and are trying to test the boundaries of what is possible,” one former Lib Dem coalition source said.

Iran Has Granted Russian Transport Aircraft Permission to Fly Over Their Territory On Their Way to Syria, Report

September 9, 2015

Russia Said to Get Iran’s Clearance for Syria-Bound Flights

MOSCOW — Iran has granted permission for Russian planes to fly over its territory en route to Syria, Russian news agencies said Wednesday, a bypass needed after Bulgaria refused overflights amid signs of a Russian military buildup in Syria that has concerned the U.S. and NATO.

The news agencies quoted Maxim Suslov, spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Tehran, as saying it has received Iranian permission for Syria-bound flights. After Bulgaria rejected Moscow’s overflight request for Sept. 1-24, a path via Iran and Iraq appeared to be the only one left, as Russia apparently sought to avoid flying over Turkey, which in 2012 grounded a Syria-bound plane carrying radar parts from Moscow.

There was no immediate confirmation from Iran.

The controversy over the Russian flights comes amid signs of increased Russian military presence in Syria. Moscow, which has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the nation’s 4½-year civil war, said its military experts are in the country to train its military to use Russian weapons.


SEPTEMBER 10, 2015

May and June of 2015 brought a welcome streak of positive news from the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their allies, including international coalition air support, made rapid gains in the countryside and villages of northern Raqqa,including Tel Abyad, the major settlement under ISIL control at the Turkish border. Coming weeks after ISIL’s seizure of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, the campaign to retake Tel Abyad demonstrated that ISIL’s aura of invincibility means little in open terrain against a disciplined ground force. Beyond merely demonstrating the potential for successful ground operations against ISIL, however, events in Raqqa also presented an important opportunity to consider the challenges and opportunities for post-liberation reconstruction and the mobilization of local forces against ISIL.

How China and India’s Noisy Nuclear Subs Contribute to Instability in Asia

September 09, 2015

While U.S. and Soviet missile-carrying ballistic submarines (SSBNs) with their invulnerable second-strike capability have helped maintain nuclear deterrence – and as a consequence peace – during the Cold War, Chinese and Indian subs in Asian waters today could trigger instability and conflict for the simple reason that they are just still too easy to detect.

This is the argument put forward in a new paper by the Lowy Institute, which states that Chinese and Indian ballistic missile submarines are not yet technologically advanced enough and too few in number to provide their respective countries with an invulnerable nuclear arsenal that would deter an aggressor from launching a nuclear attack for fear of retaliation.

With both China and India modernizing their submarine fleets this, of course, may change in the long-run once Chinese and Indian SSBNs have reached a certain operational maturity level. Until then, however, strategic stability will be hard to come by given geopolitics and the noise created by Chinese and Indian subs patrolling in Asian waters.

Budget Insanity: America's Self-Inflicted Defense Drama

September 9, 2015

As Congress and the President return to town, Washington is sleepwalking towards another budgetary showdown that could result in sharp cuts in defense and other government spending or even another government shutdown. At a time when the nation has real crises and other urgent, weighty matters to consider—from the Iran nuclear deal to the fraying ceasefire in Ukraine to the upcoming visit of President Xi of China and climate change—we do not need a self-inflicted wound.

To be sure, everyone is aware that the federal government may be headed for the brink. But few seem to think it within their power to step back. As things stand, the Budget Control Act of 2011 will sharply limit defense funding—reducing FY 2016 funding by about $34 billion compared to the President’s request, coming on top of a several years of decline in defense accounts—unless a new law is passed to soften the constraints. The law also limits non-defense spending. The Murray-Ryan compromise of 2013 has now run its course and no longer will apply to the 2016 budget year, which begins October 1. Without the added $34 billion, the Department of Defense will not be able to improve military readiness and modernize adequately to produce the force it needs in a world populated by ISIL, a mercurial North Korea armed with nuclear weapons, a Russia enamored of adventurism, an assertive Iran, a rising China, and more.

Houston Man Pleads Guilty to Being an Agent of Russian Government and Trying to Illegally Export Microelectronics to Russia

September 9, 2015

Russian Agent Pleads Guilty to Leading Scheme to Illegally Export Controlled Technology to Russian Military

Alexander Fishenko, 49, of Houston, and a dual citizen of the United States and Russia, pleaded guilty today to acting as an agent of the Russian government within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General, conspiring to export and illegally exporting controlled microelectronics to Russia, conspiring to launder money and obstruction of justice.

The plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie of the Eastern District of New York.

“Alexander Fishenko illegally acted as an agent of the Russian government in the United States and evaded export laws by sending microelectronics and other technology with military applications to Russia,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “By purposefully circumventing U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act, the defendant jeopardized our national security. I would like to thank the many members of law enforcement whose tireless efforts led to this guilty plea.”

“Fishenko lined his pockets at the expense of our national security,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Currie. “This prosecution highlights the importance of vigorously enforcing United States export control laws.”

Russia Sends More Troops, Ships and Warplanes to Syria, US Officials

September 9, 2015

Russia sends ships, aircraft and forces to Syria -U.S. officials

(Reuters) - Russia has sent two tank landing ships and additional aircraft to Syria in the past day or so and has deployed a small number of forces there, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in the latest signs of a military buildup that has put Washington on edge.

The two U.S. officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the intent of Russia’s military moves in Syria remained unclear.

U.S. officials have not ruled out the possibility that Moscow may be laying the groundwork for an air combat role in Syria’s conflict to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad, a longtime Russian ally, has seen the area he controls whittled down to a fifth or less of Syria’s territory after more than four years of grinding civil war.

An official with the Russian defense ministry declined to comment.

A traditional arms supplier to Damascus, Moscow has supported Assad throughout the war that has fractured Syria and has said it strongly opposes Islamic State, a militant group that is also the target of a U.S.-led air campaign.

One of the U.S. officials said initial indications suggested the focus was on preparing an airfield near the port city of Latakia, a stronghold of Assad.

Satellite Imagery Shows North Koreans Building New Facilities at Yongbyon Nuclear Complex

William Mugford and Jack Liu
September 9, 2015

North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Facility: New Activity at the Plutonium Production Complex 

Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates new activity is underway at two areas in the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center–the 5 MWe Reactor and Radiochemical Laboratory complex–that are key to the production of plutonium for building nuclear weapons. Specifically:

• Imagery from August 22 indicates a high level of vehicle activity not previously observed in front of the 5 MWe reactor hall. Vehicle tracks extend into the ground level of the building beneath an overhanging four-story annex on the east end of the reactor hall out to a road where large trucks can easily maneuver. Also, a large truck is seen in position apparently awaiting a load. The level of track activity indicates that this is not the first truck to be loaded with material from the hall.

7 Middle East crises that are a bigger problem than Iran’s nuclear program

September 9 

An undated image allegedly shows smoke billowing from the Baal Shamin temple in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra going up in a plume of smoke. (Welayat Homs/AFP)

The Obama administration secured vital support for the Iran deal this week, after it emerged that at least 42 senators endorsed the proposed agreement, announced in July in Vienna at a summit between Iran and world powers. The White House likely won't have to veto a congressional bill aimed against it, meaning the pact's smooth passage is now more or less a fait accompli.

That, of course, doesn't mean the rancorous debate over the rights and wrongs of the deal will end. The threat of Tehran's nuclear program has seemingly sucked up all the foreign policy oxygen in Washington in recent months and will stalk the election campaign in the months ahead, beginning with a Donald Trump-Ted Cruz rally on Wednesday in the capital.

LTGEN (Ret.) Flynn and the Iranian Nuclear Agreement

September 9, 2015

Following the announcement of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, Lieutenant General (Retired, U.S. Army) Michael “Mike” Flynn was interviewed by Jason Criss Howk, a former colleague that worked with him in Kabul and Washington D.C. The interview took place by phone and email from 15–16 July 2015.

Mike Flynn is the former DIA Director, Senior Intelligence Officer for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the Joint Staff, and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He worked extensively with security leaders throughout the Middle East and has dealt closely with the effects of the Iranian Regime on both Iraq and Afghanistan.

LTG (Ret) Flynn recently returned from 1 of 3 trips in the last four months where he met with government, business and religious leaders in various, traditionally American-leaning nations. Here are his thoughts on the current Iranian Nuclear agreement and how it will affect the broader Middle East.

Shifting tides: Global economic scenarios for 2015–25

by Luis Enriquez, Sven Smit, and Jonathan Ablett
September 2015

Are we in for a bumpy ride? How bumpy? And for how long?

At the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March 2015, China’s Premier Li Keqiang announced a growth target of 7 percent, acknowledging that “deep-seated problems in the country’s economy are becoming more obvious.”1 Three months later and thousands of miles away in Washington, the World Bank lowered its growth forecasts across the board and asked the US Federal Reserve Bank to delay any contemplated rate hikes. The World Bank’s chief economist said that it had “just switched on the seat belt sign. We are advising nations, especially emerging economies, to fasten their seat belts.”2 So it’s going to be a bumpy ride? How bumpy? And for how long?

Day-to-day developments in the world economy have become increasingly complex and global in their implications. Economic shocks, from Greece to China to Russia, are now of greater concern because around the world, traditional policy tools have already been used and financial resources depleted to help economies recover from the last downturn. Strategic decisions have become correspondingly more consequential. Shocks are inevitable, but strategists must find ways to extract the signals from the noise to understand what’s over the horizon.

Six building blocks for creating a high-performing digital enterprise

byDriek Desmet, Ewan Duncan, Jay Scanlan, and Marc Singer
September 2015

Digitization affects almost everything in today's organizations, which makes capturing its benefits uniquely complex. Here are the most important aspects that winning companies consider.

Few companies need to be sold on the benefits of digitization. McKinsey research shows that companies have lofty ambitions: they expect digital initiatives to deliver annual growth and cost efficiencies of 5 to 10 percent or more in the next three to five years.1 Yet despite the often-substantial investments companies have made in digital initiatives, few see that kind of growth.

That’s because getting the engine in place to digitize at scale is uniquely complex. Since digital touches so many parts of an organization, any large digital program requires unprecedented coordination of people, processes, and technologies. A strategy to increase revenue from high-value customer segments, for example, requires analytics-based insights into which purchasing journeys generate the most value, a clear vision and plan for how to capture that value, and technologies and tools to digitize interactions with customers. New capabilities and teams are also needed to manage and coordinate the delivery of those journeys across the organization.2

El Nino: An Inconsistent Geopolitical Agent

The defining characteristic of El Nino is sustained above-average temperatures in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Traditionally, Peruvian fishermen recognized the phenomenon when the catch would decline as weak trade winds led to warmer waters around the west coast of South America, decreasing the nutrients in the water and thus the number of fish it could support. Now, a much more regimented system takes measurements of ocean temperatures throughout the Pacific. The Oceanic Nino Index looks at temperature anomalies in the region known as Nino 3.4 - between 5 degrees north and 5 degrees south latitude and between 120 degrees and 170 degrees west longitude. El Nino is declared if the average sea surface temperatures there are at least 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal for five consecutive overlapping three-month periods.

The El Nino in 2015 was widely anticipated but was considerably delayed. A weak El Nino was first announced in March, after which it gradually strengthened as sea surface temperatures continued rising during the next several months. Currently, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center give a very high probability (greater than 90 percent) for El Nino lasting through the end of 2015 and a high probability (85 percent) of it lasting into spring of 2016. Forecasts show that the strength of this El Nino will remain high through the winter.

Russia Has a China Problem, Too

September 4, 2015

Russia Has a China Problem, Too

Chaos in China’s financial markets could have dire implications for the Kremlin’s plans.

During Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing this week, he will be at pains to downplay the ongoing chaos in Chinese financial markets, drop in global crude prices, and lackluster Sino-Russian trade figures. Taken together, these developments are a huge disappointment for a Kremlin that just a few months ago was betting on China to serve as an economic lifeline for the Russian economy in the wake of Western sanctions. 

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After being frozen out of Western capital markets by waves of sanctions, a great many top Russian government and corporate players had loyally heeded the Kremlin’s directive, “Go east, young man!” The Kremlin’s pivot to Asia was intended not only to form a Russia-Chinese alliance of likeminded authoritarian states, but also to re-orient the Russian economy toward the East. This effort was intended to provide Vladimir Putin with financial means to sustain himself in office and his current foreign policy course. Securing “a stable Chinese” alternative to Western capital markets was the key element in this game plan. 

What Foreign Policy for the US?

September 9, 2015

Washington has always done too much or too little; been too pushy or failed to consult. That goes with the territory of being the world’s major power.

The following article by Jessica T. Mathews will appear in the September 24, 2015 issue of theNew York Review of Books, which goes on sale next week. 

“The incoherence in American foreign policy has been growing for twenty-five years,” asserts Ian Bremmer. That’s a considerable overstatement, and from an expert in the field, but there is no question that, at home and abroad, American policies (from long before the current administration) evoke widespread angst, uncertainty, and criticism. Judging from a flurry of recent books, the most basic features of the US role abroad remain in question. How much should we try to do in rapidly changing circumstances? What are we actually able to do? How much should we spend abroad? Can’t a single principle be found to impose greater consistency on foreign policy? 

NSA Director Says Russian Cyber Attack on JCS Email System Was Sophisticated

Damian Paletta
September 9, 2015

NSA Chief Says Cyberattack at Pentagon Was Sophisticated, Persistent

WASHINGTON—A recent breach of the unclassified network for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff was persistent and evolved quickly from a failed attack just a week before, the head of the National Security Agency said Tuesday, offering a window into the barrage of cyberattacks that the U.S. military confronts daily.

The Joint Staff includes some of the nation’s most senior military officials. The email server for 4,200 of the Joint Staff’s accounts was taken offline several weeks ago after officials discovered a hacker had penetrated part of the network. Officials described the breach as an elaborate phishing attack, which essentially lures an unsuspecting email recipient into opening a link or attachment that is laced with malware and allows an intruder to seep into a network. It is an old but effective maneuver.

Officials are investigating whether Russian hackers were behind the breach, people familiar with the probe have told The Wall Street Journal.

Adm. Michael Rogers, who heads the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command, said at an event hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., that security officials were quickly able to contain the breach and “develop an immediate set of workarounds” to allow officials to send secure emails. Still, he said the sophisticated design of the attack surprised even him.

Kremlin's 'Shadow Power' Tarnishes Its Image (Op-Ed)

Sep. 08 2015

Russian "hard power" is evident in regular Kremlin parades and the highly irregular war in the Donbass. Its "soft power" is distinctly limited: Surveys show that the country is generally neither liked nor trusted worldwide and certainly not seen as a model to follow except by a handful of would-be "strong men" admiring Putin's macho poise and tight grip on power.

But there is another kind of power, covert and negative, but this "shadow power" is something Moscow still possesses.

This was highlighted last week by the release of the annual report of the BIS, the Czech security service. It notes the continued high levels of Russian intelligence activity throughout the country. (Western nations pretty unanimously report intelligence activity and penetration at Cold War levels.)

However, according to the BIS, these spies and networks are not so much gathering intelligence as using agents as active instruments of policy, from continuing to fight for a share of the Czech Republic's power industry through to spreading propaganda.

The BIS warns that "Russia continued its attempts to exert influence over the Russian community in the Czech Republic, or more specifically [tried] to establish pro-Kremlin organizations and individuals." To this end, it claims "Russia is creating a structure in Europe drawing on the concept of the [Soviet] Comintern (the Communist International)."

11 proposals for DoD's future cyber workforce

Aaron Boyd
September 9, 2015 

The Department of Defense is looking to develop a force of the future that will be able to defend and retaliate in cyberspace, as well as deliver the technology infrastructure to support troops in the field. In doing so, DoD will need to recruit and train a larger civilian workforce, according to a draft reform package currently under review by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Along with more resources and better training for the troops, the "Force of the Future" plan includes creation of a Defense Digital Services (DDS) modeled after the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) teams working to improve citizen services at civilian agencies.

If the plan is approved, DoD would seek to build two teams — one at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and another in Silicon Valley. Combined, the teams would start with 50 term appointees in the first six months, building up to 100 people within the first year.

Similar to the USDS and other similar civilian programs, the DDS would consist of a rolling temporary workforce designed to bring fresh, innovative people in for brief terms of service. Team members would initially be appointed to two-year terms, with the option for a single two-year extension.

Afghans See American General as Crucial to Country’s Defense

SEPT. 10, 2015 

Gen. John F. Campbell, center, visiting soldiers last Christmas in Afghanistan's Laghman Province. CreditLucas Jackson/Reuters

Lately, Afghans are inclined to describe the American commander by yet another: minister of defense of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

It is a recognition not only that there is no confirmed nominee for the post, but also of what Afghan officials say is General Campbell’s strong influence within the highest levels of the Afghan government.
No other American commander in recent years has had as much power within the Afghan military establishment and top government echelons, according to interviews with senior Afghan and Western officials, and it is a role that President Ashraf Ghani has welcomed and encouraged.

But at a time when Afghan forces and officials are supposed to be running the war, and eight months after the official end of the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan, General Campbell’s prominent role is also being widely taken as a sign that the fight against the Taliban is not going well.

Anti-Submarine Operations in the Indian Ocean

By Abhijit Singh
September 09, 2015

As India and Australia prepare to embark on theirfirst-ever bilateral naval interaction in the Bay of Bengal this month, reports suggest the exercises willfocus on anti-submarine warfare (ASW). This is being seen as evidence of a growing regional consensus on the threat posed by Chinese undersea operations in the Asian littorals. Australia is reported to be sending a Lockheed Martin’s P-3 anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft, a Collins-class submarine, and ASW frigates, while India will be deploying a P-8 long-range anti-submarine aircraft, along with other surface assets.

Over the past two years, China’s submarine deployments in the Indian Ocean have been a source of worry for Indian analysts. Since May this year, when a Chinese Yuan-class submarine visited Karachi, there has beengrowing unease in New Delhi over the possibility of greater Chinese submarine presence in India’s maritime neighborhood. Indian analysts say the sudden rise in submarine visits suggests a larger game-plan for the expansion of the PLA-N’s operational footprint in the Indian Ocean. In the garb of anti-piracy operations, Chinese submarines have been performing specific stand-alone missions – a process, China skeptics contend, meant to lay the groundwork for a rotating but permanent deployment in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Why is Indonesia Set to Cut its Military Budget for 2016?

September 10, 2015

Indonesia is planning to cut its defense budget next year for the first time in five years, raising further doubts about the Asian power’s ability to transform its military.

Despite being the world’s largest archipelagic state and its fourth most populous country, Indonesia has significantly underinvested in its military relative even to its smaller Southeast Asian neighbors. Even with sharp increases in recent years, Indonesian defense spending as a percentage of GDP was the lowest in ASEAN at 0.8 percent in 2014, well below the regional average of 2.2. percent. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had come into office pledging to increase that figure to 1.5 percent of GDP and even double the budget in 2016 as Indonesia seeks to develop a Minimum Essential Force by 2024.

Beware the Rhetoric of Both Koreas

September 10, 2015

North and South Korea have agreed to back away from deadly confrontation for the moment. But both sides’ rhetoric bodes ill for the future.

Seoul claims its firm brinkmanship forced Pyongyang to back down. And North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has told his Central Military Commissionthe agreement "was by no means something achieved on the negotiating table but thanks to the tremendous military muscle with the nuclear deterrent for self-defense."

The rhetoric on both sides is likely a sop to hardliners at home. But if the leaders believe their own bluster and their militaries act on it, the two sides may go over the brink the next time tensions rise on the peninsula.

Kim Jong-un’s motives are misconstrued by those in Seoul who believe him to be moved by economic desperation. Yet his economy has been growing over the past decade, and he needs calm on the peninsula to deliver on his pledge to improve his people’s standard of living by reducing military spending.


SEPTEMBER 10, 2015

The dust has now settled after William C. Bradford, a newly hired West Point law professor, made headlines for a controversial essay published in the little-read student-run National Security Law Journal. The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reported that Bradford was denied tenure a decade ago from the Indiana University School of Law for wildly misrepresenting his military service and that, in the law review article in question, he seems to have misrepresented his affiliation with the National Defense University. These offenses made his employment by a military academy whose honor code is central to its mission untenable. It was therefore not surprising when Bradford resigned.

So that’s the end of it, right? We can all just forget about this sorry episode? Wrong.

While I wholeheartedly reject not only Bradford’s outrageous argument but most of the premises from which it flows, I rise to a qualified defense of the article on a number of fronts and I think we owe it to ourselves to keep talking about it.