26 September 2015

Declassification of all Netaji files is the only way to stop propagation of fantasies as fact

These files do not contain anything of real substance about Netaji and could only reveal a few dishonourable things done by some senior officials in post-Independence governments, writes his grand nephew.

I received a touching email from a young academic friend offering me profuse apologies. He had discovered to his horror from recently declassified files that his grandfather-in-law, a high-ranking police officer in the years after Independence, had been conducting surveillance on my father Sisir Kumar Bose from the Kolkata Intelligence Branch and relaying that information to New Delhi. Sisir had driven his uncle Subhas Chandra Bose during the great escape of 1941 from Calcutta to Gomoh and suffered imprisonment in Presidency Jail, the Red Fort, the Lahore Fort and Lyallpur Jail between 1942 and 1945. I wrote back appreciating my friend’s sentiment and assuring him that neither he nor his wife was responsible for his grandfather-in-law’s deeds. It was the tragedy of colonial rule that the British were able to use Indian agents against Indian freedom-fighters. The post-Independence government unfortunately continued that awful practice. My father became a renowned paediatrician after Independence and also set up the Netaji Research Bureau in 1957. The surveillance on him continued until 1972.

Evolving Dynamics of Indo-US Relations

By Kanwal Sibal
24 Sep , 2015

The pro-US lobby in India prefers to see in Prime Minister Modi’s move to invite President Obama an inclination to strategically lean towards the US, shed “strategic autonomy” and end the phase of missed opportunities with the US that marked Manmohan Singh’s second term. This could be misconstruing the significance of Modi’s move, which may well be to strengthen our strategic autonomy by engaging with all countries to maximum potential, opening up opportunities in all directions and separating the economic from the political as much as possible. Modi may not be thinking of taking sides but working with all sides pragmatically. At the end of the day, India and the US have to find common ground to protect their respective interests. Dealing with the US will always test our diplomacy.

Our interests have actually not been served by US policies in West Asia and towards Pakistan…

Daily chart: Drone attacks and terrorism in Pakistan Drone strikes: cause or effect

Sep 23rd 2015

AT THE beginning of the month, on September 6th, Pakistan’s military executed its first ever drone strike, firing on a 'terrorist compound' on domestic soil. Army officials announcedthat the attack in North Waziristan—located in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), a region synonymous with terrorist strongholds—killed three suspected "high-profile" militants. The strike was launched using Pakistan's first home-made drone, a result of America's refusal to share its drone technology with Pakistan. The ‘Burraq’ drone—named after a heavenly creature that transported the Prophet Muhammad—was first tested in March this year and shares striking similarities with its ally China’s CH-3 drone. 

Asia’s Risky Cities

September 23, 2015

Asia may have dodged an economic bullet from the U.S. Federal Reserve, but the region’s increasingly wealthy and urbanized cities are among the world’s most exposed to disasters, a new study says.

Based on research undertaken by the Cambridge Center for Risk Studies, insurer Lloyd’s “City Risk Index 2015-2025” has identified some $4.6 trillion of projected gross domestic product (GDP) at risk of manmade and natural disasters in 301 major cities over the next 10 years.

Worryingly for the region, the list is dominated by Asian cities, with Taipei ranked top with $181 billion of GDP at risk, followed by Tokyo’s $153 billion, Seoul’s $103 billion and Manila’s $101 billion. Osaka ranked eighth with $79 billion at risk, followed by ninth-placed Shanghai with $78 billion and Hong Kong’s $75 billion, while Singapore (18th) and Jakarta (20th) completed Asia’s dominance of the top 20 riskiest cities.

Cyber Sleuths Track Hacker to China’s Military

Sept. 23, 2015 

The story of a Chinese military staffer’s alleged involvement in hacking provides a detailed look into Beijing’s sprawling state-controlled cyberespionage machinery

Security researchers have linked a Chinese military staffer to a hacker collective called Naikon. Shown, Chinese People's Liberation Army soldiers during training in northeast China earlier this month. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

KUNMING, China—The email attachment would tempt anyone following the diplomaticstandoff between China and other countries in the South China Sea. The Microsoft Word document contained text and photos depicting Thai naval personnel capturing Vietnamese fishermen and forcing them to kneel at gunpoint.

But the attachment was a decoy: Anyone who opened it inadvertently downloaded software that searched their computers for sensitive information and sent it to an obscure corner of the Internet. Manning that corner, according to a new report from U.S. security researchers, was Ge Xing, a member of a Chinese military reconnaissance unit.

The growing reach of China’s army of cyberwarriors has become a flash point in relations between Beijing and Washington that President Barack Obama said will be a focus during Chinese President Xi Jinping ’s state visit to the U.S. this week.

Better To Be Xi Than Bibi

SEP 23, 2015

En route to Friday’s state dinner in his honor, Chinese President Xi Jinping stopped off in Seattle to meet with the heads of America’s great technology firms, from which China denies regularly stealing $300 billion annually in intellectual property, according to the Wall Street Journal. His goal: to lobby them to support his effort to persuade the Obama administration “not to retaliate against China for years of hacking and theft of intellectual property.”

The last national leader who lobbied America to support his country’s position on a matter before the Obama administration was Israel’s prime minister Bibi Netanyahu. Xi’s lobbying will not deter Obama from rolling out the red carpet for his Chinese counterpart, and ordering out a 21-gun salute and a dinner lavish enough to persuade Xi that we really do want to please him. In Netanyahu’s case, Obama was sufficiently annoyed with the Israeli’s efforts to lobby Americans for support on issues his guest deemed vital to Israel’s security that he left their meeting for a private family dinner without inviting Netanyahu or even arranging to have pizzas brought in for the prime minister and his delegation.

China Wants 2 Fugitive Officials in U.S. Extradited Back to China

Bill Gertz
September 24, 2015

China seeks return of 2 wanted officials

One of China’s key objectives for this week’s meeting between President Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping is the return of two Chinese men in the United States who may have access to some of Beijing’s innermost secrets.

According to U.S. officials, the Chinese president is expected to ask Mr. Obama to facilitate the return to China of businessmen Ling Wancheng and Guo Wengui, both of whom are wanted by Chinese authorities on corruption charges.

Mr. Ling is the younger brother of Ling Jihua, who was director of the Communist Party’s General Office under Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Communist Party chief Hu Jintao. Ling Jihua is being investigated for graft involving large sums of money, and the Chinese believe his brother was part of the scheme. Ling Jihua served as the Chinese equivalent of White House chief of staff.

The younger Mr. Ling lives in Los Angeles and is said by U.S. officials to have brought with him a large cache of classified Chinese government documents. He may be trying to seek political asylum.

Remember China's Announced 300,000 Troop Cut? Not Everyone's Happy About It

September 23, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his opening remarks at China’s September 3 parade to celebrate Japan’s defeat in World War II, made a surprise announcement: the Chinese People’s Liberation Army would reduce its troop count by 300,000. Since the 1980s, the PLA has restructured and been cut four times, in 1985, 1997, 2003, and finally, in 2015, with Xi’s announcement.

Xi, in his speech, pitched the troop cut as a gesture of good will and a manifestation of China’s desire for peace. Analysts and observers of China’s military affairs, however, note that the cut allows Beijing to balance its military spending away from infantry and personnel costs toward modernization and its navy — its 2015 defense white paper, for example, says that the PLA needs to abandon “the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea.”

The troop cuts took many by surprise, including many within the PLA, over which Xi, as chairman of the Central Military Commission, exercises absolute authority. Reuter‘s Ben Blanchard reports that the troop cut decision has lead to some bitterness within the officer ranks of the PLA. Even though the PLA will remain the largest military in the world in terms of personnel, with 2 million active troops still standing after the troop cuts, 300,000 is not a negligible portion of the PLA. In economic terms, Xi announced a surprise cut in 300,000 jobs, pulling the rug out from underneath many in the PLA who hadn’t been consulted.

China's State Council Probes the Tianjin Explosions

September 24, 2015

While Chinese President Xi Jinping is touring factories and visiting schools in Seattle, Premier Li Keqiang is staying busy back in China. On Tuesday, Li had a particularly important task: hearing a briefing on the State Council’s investigation into the deadly explosions that took place in Tianjin last month.

On August 12, two major explosions occurred at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin, killing 165 people. China’s state media later reported that the company that operated the warehouse, Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd., had used the political connections of its owners to circumvent safety regulations and inspections. In the wake of the explosion, China announced that 23 people — business executives, including officials at Tianjin’s port, as well as government officials — had been arrested for their roles in the blasts. Beijing also announced that Yang Dongliang, head of China’s State Administration of Work Safety was being investigated for corruption, although that move was not directly tied to the Tianjin blasts.

The State Council investigation team was called to examine the extent of the damage as well as the cause of the blast. According to Xinhua, Li was briefed on both those points – but the story did not actually include the investigation’s findings, as the report has not yet been finalized.

China's 'Silk Road' Initiative Is at Risk of Failure

By Moritz Rudolf
September 24, 2015

The Silk Road Initiative is the major project for Chinese President Xi Jinping. On every state visit and within every diplomatic forum, he has promoted his idea of “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR). Beijing wants to create China-centered infrastructure networks in order to expand its own economic and political influence in Eurasia.

But the time when the country was able to make economically unprofitable investments on the basis of political motives is long gone. Beijing had intended to invest more than $900 billion in infrastructure expansion in Eurasia. However, the money is now needed to stabilize its stagnating economy and nervous financial markets. China‘s currency reserves decreased drastically in August.

Due to financing difficulties a number of infrastructure projects have come to a standstill. For example, the gas pipeline known as “Power of Siberia,” the subject of an agreement signed by Russia and China in May last year, is in danger of flopping. In addition to this, the release of funds for the construction of the Altai gas pipeline to connect western Siberia and China has been delayed indefinitely.

The Obama-Xi State Visit: Any Room for Human Rights?

By Jared Genser
September 23, 2015

With Chinese President Xi Jinping arriving in Washington tomorrow to meet U.S. President Barack Obama, most of the news analysis has focused on the impact of China’s slowing economy, cyber espionage, trade, and flare-ups in the South China Sea. But China’s relentless disregard for the human dignity of the Chinese people must central to their discussions when Obama meets with Xi later this week.

With a domestic security budget estimated at over $130 billion, Xi and the Chinese security state obstructs Chinese citizens’ exercise of free speech, association, and religion. And it persecutes religious minorities, harasses and silences human rights defenders, and blocks the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at every turn. But major world powers have been unwilling to confront China on these issues and to challenge Xi’s repressive actions. During Xi’s upcoming visit to Washington, Obama must speak up and speak loudly.

Russia Continues Inflating the ISIS Threat in Central Asia

September 24, 2015

The past year has seen wild swings in economic prognoses, hydrocarbon futures, and security realities throughout Russia and Central Asia. There seems to have been one constant, though: Russian officials hyper-inflating the threat of ISIS (also known as Islamic State) to Central Asian states. The head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) helped kick off the fear-mongering just over a year ago, describing an “attempt to create some sort of underground extremist state” in Central Asia. Ever since, Russian appraisals of ISIS’s regional threat – from higher-ups to think tanks tied to the Kremlin – have been nearly uniformly overblown.

To be sure, Russian officials are not the lone voices blustering ISIS’s potential threat beyond recognition – regional leaders, and certain Western voices, have contributed to the threat-inflation. And all appearances indicate that ISIS has continued its regional recruitment, especially among itinerant migrant populations working in Russia. But the underground states, the rolling waves of Islamist invaders – these claims would appear to stand far more as a figment of imagination than a reality on the ground.

American Strategy in the South China Sea: Time to Define 'Militarization' and 'Coercion'

September 23, 2015

China’s previous paucity of runways in the South China Sea is leading to a trust deficit in U.S.-China relations. Over the course of this summer, China’s military and civilian leaders have repeatedly insisted that Beijing had finished land reclamation in the Spratly Islands, and that continued construction on the outposts was primarily for civilian purposes. Recently-released satellite imagery appears to reveal an unpleasant but unsurprising truth: neither one of these claims is accurate. China continues to dredge around Mischief and Subi Reefs, and may be constructing as many as three airstrips in the Spratly Islands for a total of four runways in the South China Sea.

The diplomatic picture is no rosier: at the late July ASEAN Regional Forum,China thwarted the United States’ attempt to have all claimants agree to halt land reclamation, island militarization, and the use of coercion in the South China Sea. As the two countries prepare for their presidential summit, it is tempting to resign ourselves to the notion that the United States is out of options when it comes to checking China’s buildup. This would be a mistake. Despite rapid-fire construction and apparent disinterest in dispute management, the United States can contribute meaningfully to the security and stability of the region if it uses the summit to define unacceptable behavior in this crucial waterway.


SEPTEMBER 24, 2015

Death on Base: The Fort Hoot Massacre, by Anita Belles Porterfield and John Porterfield (University of North Texas Press, 2015).

The November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood remains the most egregious example of homegrown jihadist terrorism in the United States. This is not only due to the death toll, but also because the perpetrator, Nidal Malik Hasan, was a serving member of the U.S. military and his victims were his fellow soldiers. His attack continues to feed controversy to this day. The reasons why Hasan killed 13 people and wounded another 30 in his shooting spree are complex, and we may never fully understand how various factors combined to create this mass killer, but a new book, Death on Base,certainly helps to fill in some of the blanks.

While in the last few years our attention has shifted to the flow of Western Muslims joining the self-proclaimed Islamic State, in-depth investigations of people who have committed violent acts in their homelands and in the name of Islam remain relevant. They help us to understand processes which continue to have as significant a bearing on foreign fighters as they do on homegrown terrorists. While the Islamic State has grabbed the headlines, the decentralized nature of the terrorist threat to the West remains as it was after Fort Hood: future attacks are likely to be undertaken by people inspired by the global jihad movement, but with no formal connections to overseas jihadist networks.

Pentagon Denies That U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels Have Defected to Al Qaeda

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity
September 24, 2015

DoD Spokesman: Reports About Syrian Defections False

The Defense Department says there are false reports coming out of Syria about defections among personnel in the Syrian train-and-equip program.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the false reports have been sourced to Twitter from people claiming to be from the al-Nusra front and saying train-and-equip personnel have turned over weapons or defected.

“I just wanted to tell you that we believe those reports to be false. We have no information at all to suggest that’s true,” Davis said in a press briefing today. “All coalition-issued weapons and equipment are under the positive control of New Syrian Force fighters.”

The United States is in contact with the personnel and there is “no indication that there is any truth to the claim that there has been a defection,” he said. 

Some of the photos in the social media postings, “appear to have been repurposed,” Davis said.

In a statement, U.S. Central Command said there are indications the al-Nusra front is "actively” trying to discredit the train-and-equip program and the New Syrian forces by spreading false information via social media.

Indonesia Warns of Islamic State Threat from Malaysia

September 24, 2015

Indonesia’s counterterrorism chief has warned that the Islamic State (IS) is collaborating with people-smuggling networks to bring foreign fighters to Indonesia from Malaysia.

Saud Usman Nasution, the head of Indonesia’s counterterrorism agency, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the IS fighters arrive from Malaysia in Sumatra, after which they are taken to Poso in central Sulawesi, believed to be a training ground for IS fighters.

“We see that some foreign terrorist fighters from overseas come to Indonesia. First they leave Malaysia and head for Pekanbaru (Sumatra) to Puncak (west Java) — it’s all facilitated by asylum seeker networks, then from Puncak they would leave to Makassar and Poso, with facilitation from ISIS network,” he said.

“So we need to stay vigilant, more so because there is information that in Malaysia, there are thousands, a lot of foreign terrorist fighters there who are about to be deployed — we don’t know where to — under the network,” he added.

Nasution characterized the IS threat to Indonesia as “significantly serious,” which is not surprising considering recent developments. To take just one example, in August, as I reported then, Indonesia foiled an alleged plot by IS supporters to bomb a police station and churches in the country during its independence day celebrations (See: “Indonesia Foils Deadly Islamic State Attack”).

Syria May Be Putin's Afghanistan

September 23, 2015

The United States and other Western powers have voiced concern over Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to send combat fighters, sophisticated weaponry, and eventually troops to Syria. That concern is legitimate. Russia's authorities haven't hidden their readiness to come to the rescue of a brutal ally - Bashar Assad - who has not hesitated to drop barrel bombs and use chemical weapons against his country's civilian population.

Yet no one should be more concerned with Putin's move than Putin himself. For Russia's escalating involvement in the Syrian battlefield may quickly turn out to be a geopolitical millstone for the Kremlin.

For sure, Putin's involvement in Syria is likely to be less strenuous and resource-consuming than the Soviet entanglement in Afghanistan in the 1980s. All the same, the problems that Russia's expanding presence in Syria will likely create for Putin's regime are reminiscent of those that brought about the Soviet rout in Afghanistan.

Ukrainian Researcher Confirms that Russian Tank Brigade Took Part in Key 2014 Battle in Eastern Ukraine

Tony Wesolowsky
September 24, 2015

Cybersleuth Points To Russian Tank Unit In Eastern Ukraine

An open-source researcher in Ukraine has become the latest cybersleuth to seemingly add a chink to Russia’s armor of denial about troop and arms deployments to support separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The researcher, who identifies himself as Askai707, details evidence on his LiveJournal blog of alleged involvement one year ago of Russia’s 6th Tank Brigade in a prominent strategic and symbolic battlefield win for the separatists.

Ukrainian forces suffered heavy casualties trying to capture the city of Ilovaysk in the Donetsk region in August 2014. Pro-Russian forces had encircled them, and an agreement was reportedly reached by both sides to allow the Ukrainians to evacuate from inside what became known as the “Ilovaysk Kettle.”

However, that deal was not honored and 366 Ukrainian soldiers, according to the Ukrainian military, were killed by pro-Russian forces while trying to escape in what many described as a massacre. It was one of the Ukrainian military’s most humiliating defeats in eastern Ukraine.

US, India Expand Strategic and Commercial Ties

September 24, 2015

The first U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue wrapped up in Washington D.C. today. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with their Indian counterparts, Sushma Swaraj, the external affairs minister, and Nirmala Sitharaman, the minister of state for commerce and industry. The dialogue resulted in a joint statement outlining a range of new bilateral commitments and initiatives, and builds on the momentum in bilateral ties generated during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s September 2014 trip to the United States, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s reciprocal trip to India in January 2015. The joint statement and related statements and speeches from the two days of talks are posted on the U.S. State Department’s website here.

Opinion Peace in Syria Requires Global Effort

Ed Husain 
22 Sep 2015

ssian fears of domestic jihad linked to ISIS and the presence of Orthodox Christians in Syria who look to Russia for protection means Russia cannot be excluded from peace negotiations, argues Ed Husain.

There can be no peace in Syria without Russia. Alongside Iran, Russia has been the most loyal and steadfast supporter of the Assad regime. No American or other initiative will succeed if the Russian bear is ignored or snubbed. All other options have failed.

For Russia, the Syrian conflict is not a faraway fight. Putin is no shy liberal – he can see the connection between his troubled regions in the Caucuses, the fighting power of the martial Chechens, and the strength of ISIS being a training ground for jihadis who wish to attack Russia, or support separatists. Homegrown terrorism linked to the Middle East is not just a Western concern. Russia has the same fears.

Russia fears Middle East-linked homegrown terrorism.

The Russian relationship with the Syrian government goes back to the 1950s and the Cold War. Russia trained the Syrian military top brass, and many Russian government experts on the Arab world learned their trade in Damascus. To this day, thousands of Russians live in Syria – many are women who married Syrian men while they trained in Moscow. Russia's last naval base outside the former Soviet Union is off the Syrian coast. Syria's religious minorities, Orthodox Christians, see Russia as a protector of their safety and interests.

Exploiting ISIS' Contradictions

23 Sep 2015

A new report from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation identifies four key factors that drive jihadis to defect from ISIS. Exploiting them will help to build counter-narratives.

ISIS' claim to a caliphate has seen thousands lured from around the world to join the ranks of the group in Iraq and Syria. Its propaganda projects an image of a utopian society embodying justice, equality, fairness, and all that is Islamic. But a new report shows how the stories of defectors can help to undermine the group's appeal.

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) has studied common reasons for militants to defect from the group. Victims, Perpetrators, Assets: The Narratives of Islamic State Defectors, released on 21 September 2015, draws on the public statements of 58 ISIS defectors from different countries about their experiences. The study suggests that the rate of defections from ISIS is rising, highlighting that as its infamy grows, so does disillusionment among its members who have not found what they expected.

Understanding the ways in which ISIS, and other jihadi groups, use their propaganda to attract recruits is essential in building counter-narratives, but so is understanding why members of the group wish to leave. The accounts of defectors can be used to reveal the weaknesses, failures and hypocrisies of ISIS, and inform counter-extremism programmes that prevent further recruitment.

The American Century: RIP?

September 24, 2015

On the eve of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s state visit, many American politicians are exaggerating China’s power. But China is not about to replace the United States as the world’s largest power for decades to come.

The United States has been the world’s largest economy since the end of the 19th century. Many economists expect China to pass the United States as the world’s largest economy (measured in dollars), but the estimated date varies from 2030 to 2050 depending on assumptions about the slowing rate of Chinese growth. Even if China someday passes the United States in total economic size, that is not the only measure of geopolitical importance. Power—the ability to influence others to get what you want—has three aspects: coercion, payment and the soft power of attraction. Economic might is just part of the geopolitical equation, and even in economic power, China will still lag in per capita income (a measure of the sophistication of an economy). In addition, China lags behind the United States in military and soft-power indices. Our military spending is four times that of China, and a recent soft-power index published by Portland, a London consultancy, ranks China in 30th place, while the United States is ranked third.

Russia's Su-35 Fighter vs. America's F-16 Fighting Falcon: Who Wins?

September 23, 2015

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon has been the mainstay of the U.S. and allied air forces for decades. Over the years, the aircraft has evolved from a lightweight visual range dogfighter into a potent multirole warplane that flies the gamut of missions ranging from the suppression of enemy air defenses to air superiority. Though it has been operational since 1980, the “Viper” continues to evolve and will remain in service with the U.S. Air Force and other militaries for decades to come. But while the F-16 remains a potent fighter, potential adversaries have caught up—the latest Russian aircraft like the Sukhoi Su-35 can match or exceed the Viper in many respects.

While the Su-35 is more of an analogue to the Boeing F-15 Eagle, Russia is selling many more Flankers than MiG-29 Fulcrum derivatives around the world. Indeed, the U.S. Air Force usually has its “red air” aggressors replicate Flanker variants (usually the Flanker-G) rather than the MiG-29 or its derivatives during large force exercises like Red Flag or Red Flag Alaska. That’s because derivatives of the massive twin-engine Russian jet are amongst the most likely aerial adversaries American pilots might face.

Engineering Humans for War

SEP 23, 2015

Retired four-star general Paul F. Gorman recalls first learning about the “weakling of the battlefield” from reading S.L.A. Marshall, the U.S. Army combat historian during World War II. After interviewing soldiers who participated in the Normandy beach landings, Marshall had learned that fatigue was responsible for an overwhelming number of casualties.

“I didn’t know my strength was gone until I hit the beach,” Sergeant Bruce Hensley told Marshall. “I was carrying part of a machine gun. Normally I could run with it … but I found I couldn’t even walk with it. … So I crawled across the sand dragging it with me. I felt ashamed of my own weakness, but looking around I saw the others crawling and dragging the weights they normally carried.” Another officer told of the effects of “fear and fatigue.”


SEPTEMBER 24, 2015

The U.S. government needs to be clear and credible as to what actions it will not stand for and how it will retaliate.

In recent months, the Obama administration has advocated a strategy of deterrence to combat the growing cyber threat. Released in April, the Department of Defense’s 2015 Cyber Strategy calls for a “comprehensive cyber deterrence strategy to deter key state and non-state actors from conducting cyber attacks against U.S. interests.” Almost concurrently, President Obama signed an executive order giving the Secretary of the Treasury authority to issue sanctions against actors that launch cyber attacks on the United States. And recently, Commander of U.S. Cyber Command Admiral Michael Rogers echoed the policy, advocating deterrence by increasing costs of an attack and decreasing perceived odds of success. The deterrence message is broadcasting on all channels.

Deterrence in Action?

Six easy ways to tell if that viral story is a hoax

“And so it begins … ISIS flag among refugees in Germany fighting the police,” blared the headline on theConservative Post; “with this new leaked picture, everything seems confirmed”. The image in question purported to show a group of Syrian refugees holding ISIS flags and attacking German police officers.

For those resistant to accepting refugees into Europe, this story was a godsend. The photo quickly spread across social media, propelled by far-right groups such as the English Defence League and Pegida UK. At the time of writing, the page claims to have been shared over 300,000 times.

The problem is, the photo is three years old, and has precious little to do with the refugee crisis. In fact, it seems to be from a confrontation between members of the far-right Pro NRW party and muslim counter-protesters, which took place in Bonn, back in 2012. A number of news outlets tried to highlight the hoax, including Vice, the Independent and the Mirror, as did numerous Twitter users.

Cyber Sleuths Are Tracking and Identifying Chinese Military Hackers Deep Inside China

Josh Chin
September 24, 2015

Cyber Sleuths Track Hacker to China’s Military

KUNMING, China—The email attachment would tempt anyone following the diplomatic standoff between China and other countries in the South China Sea. The Microsoft Word document contained text and photos depicting Thai naval personnel capturing Vietnamese fishermen and forcing them to kneel at gunpoint.

But the attachment was a decoy: Anyone who opened it inadvertently downloaded software that searched their computers for sensitive information and sent it to an obscure corner of the Internet. Manning that corner, according to a new report from U.S. security researchers, was Ge Xing, a member of a Chinese military reconnaissance unit.

The growing reach of China’s army of cyberwarriors has become a flash point in relations between Beijing and Washington that President Barack Obama said will be a focus during Chinese President Xi Jinping ’s state visit to the U.S. this week.

Cyberspace is the newest domain in warfare, and China’s relentless testing of its boundaries has flustered the U.S. The story of the Chinese military staffer’s alleged involvement in hacking provides a detailed look into Beijing’s sprawling state-controlled cyberespionage machinery.

Gregory Hooker: The Senior CENTCOM Intelligence Analyst at the Center of the Storm Over Alleged Manipulation of Iraq Estimates

Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo
September 24, 2015

Military Analyst Again Raises Red Flags on Progress in Iraq

WASHINGTON — As the war in Iraq deteriorated, a senior American intelligence analyst went public in 2005 and criticized President George W. Bush’s administration for pushing “amateurish and unrealistic” plans for the invasion two years before.

Now that same man, Gregory Hooker, is at the center of an insurrection of United States Central Command intelligence analysts over America’s latest war in Iraq, and whether Congress, policy makers and the public are being given too rosy a picture of the situation.

As the senior Iraq analyst at Central Command, the military headquarters in Tampa that oversees American military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia, Mr. Hooker is the leader of a group of analysts that is accusing senior commanders of changing intelligence reports to paint an overly optimistic portrait of the American bombing campaign against the Islamic State. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating.

Although the investigation became public weeks ago, the source of the allegations and Mr. Hooker’s role have not been previously known. Interviews with more than a dozen current and former intelligence officials place the dispute directly at the heart of Central Command, with Mr. Hooker and his team in a fight over what Americans should believe about the war.

RQ-20A PUMA Unmanned Surveillance Drone Tested at Sea by US Navy

September 24, 2015

Puma unmanned craft tested on USS Gonzalez

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) – The U.S. Navy tested the RQ-20A Puma (Block II) unmanned aircraft at sea on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez, the Navy announced on Wednesday.

The testing was part of a Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPUTEX), and was used to observe the effectiveness of the second iteration of the all-environment Puma variant. The Puma is designed for maritime use, and can be used in situations requiring greater maneuverability with unmanned craft.

The Puma is notable for its ability to operate under extreme weather conditions, being able to withstand temperatures ranging from -20 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also built to endure wind speeds up to 25 knots, and an inch of rain per hour.

Once launched, the craft can be controlled remotely from inside the ship. During the tests, a two-person team controlled the Puma locally.

The RQ-20A Puma was manufactured by California-based tech developer AeroVironment, and took its first flight in 2007. The product specializes in surveillance and intelligence gathering, and is built to be used from both land and sea platforms. It uses both electro-optical and infared cameras,

The craft has a water-proof body, and is powered by smart batteries, enabling the craft to endure three and a half hours of flight.

Justice Department Releases More Materials From IG Report on Post-9/11 NSA Electronic Eavesdropping Programs

September 23, 2015

The DOJ Releases Additional Information from IG Reports Concerning Collection Activities Authorized by President G.W. Bush After the Attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 

The Department of Justice has released additional information contained within Inspectors General reports on the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP). The additional information concerns the presidential documents that authorized the inception and implementation of the program.

The release today supplements the IC on the Record posting of April 25, 2015, wherein the ODNI posted statutorily mandated, detailed reviews of the PSP by the Inspectors General of five different agencies—DoJ, DoD, NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency, and ODNI—as well as a joint report signed by the IGs of each of these agencies. 

Today’s posting was made in response to requests made by the Department of Justice Inspector General to the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and in response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.

Volume I

Volume II

Volume III

Why is TeliaSonara Leaving the Eurasian Telecom Market?

September 24, 2015

TeliaSonera, the Swedish-Finnish telecom giant, announced last week that it plans to exit the Eurasian market. The company’s President and CEO Johan Dennelind said in a press release, “We realize that this will be a complex task that will take time. We are conducting this process market by market as each country and operation has its unique situation, but the ambition is to eventually leave the entire region.”

The company will be divesting itself of operations in Nepal, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Tajikistan.

TeliaSonera last appeared in The Diplomat in reference to the wide-ranging and ongoing corruption scandal involving, in part, its entry into the Uzbek market, but the company has experienced other difficulties across its operations in Eurasia. That includes, as RFE/RL notes, “troubles repatriating cash, and difficulties identifying who, exactly, its local partners are.”

The Pentagon’s Next Unclassified Email System May Live in the Cloud

SEPTEMBER 22, 2015

The Defense Department’s IT agency is asking industry about setting up a new email system for its 1.6 million users.

The Pentagon’s next-generation unclassified email systemmay exist entirely in the cloud.

Marines Seek to Keep Combat Jobs Closed to Women

September 24, 2015

The commandant of the Marine Corps has recommended that women be excluded from competing for certain front-line combat jobs, U.S. officials said Friday, as the Corps distanced itself from the other military services that are expected to allow women to serve in battlefield posts.

Officials said Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford submitted his recommendation to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on Thursday. Mabus has made it clear he opposes the proposal from and recommended that women be allowed to compete for any Navy or Marine Corps combat jobs.

The developments have raised questions about whether Mabus can veto the Marine Corps proposal to prohibit women from serving in certain infantry and reconnaissance positions. And it puts Dunford, who takes over next week as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the position of defending an exclusion in his own service that the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command have suggested isn't warranted in theirs.

The Battle for the Soul of the American Military, Part 2

September 24, 2015

On Monday, I wrote of how Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, who is running for president, wants a bigger Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. A large part of the solution involves cutting staff at headquarters, and in streamlining management. The corporate parallel is indicated at HP with Fiorina’s successor, Meg Whitman, who is not running for president, but who plans to dismiss 33,300 staff over the next three years, mostly out of the old Electronic Data Systems (EDS) unit. Cloud computing is crushing that business. EDS, of course, was founded in 1962 by H. Ross Perot, who twice ran for president. Perot built that company from scratch when he failed to convince IBM that running computers could be as lucrative as making them. After making a few billion dollars, he sold the company off to General Motors in 1984, around the same time that the car market acquired the Hughes Aircraft Company, in a dream of putting computers and heads-up displays in Oldsmobiles. If that seemed a little ahead of schedule for the 1980s, it says a lot about what’s wrong with the structure of the US armed forces today.