8 October 2015



Thursday, 08 October 2015 | Claude Arpi | i

Even as New Delhi is engaged in tackling the anti-India sentiment that has gripped Kathmandu, China must be enjoying the situation. Pro-China voices in Nepal’s establishment are being more increasingly heard
There is another dimension to the present crisis between Nepal and India: The China factor. Recently, Nepalese Ambassador to India, Mr Deep Kumar Upadhyay, asked Delhi not to “push it to the wall” by blocking petroleum and other essential supplies, otherwise the landlocked country would have to find alternatives. He did not pronounce the ‘C’ word, but said, “…despite logistical difficulties”.

Although India had assured Nepal that the present difficult situation will be resolved “at the earliest”, Mr Upadhyay asked, “They (India) should give a time frame. Does it mean hours, weeks or months?”
Let us hope that the constitutional issues will soon be resolved to the satisfaction of all (and not only a section of the Nepalese population). In the meantime, China is enjoying the situation.

On September 21, Beijing was quick to congratulate Kathmandu on the promulgation of its new Constitution. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei stated, “China attaches great importance to the China-Nepal ties, and is willing to continue the friendly cooperation between the two nations.” He added that China was ready to provide “as much help as it can for the economic and social development of Nepal”. In this atmosphere of ‘Nepali-Chini bhai bhai’, the relations between Nepal and Tibet are upbeat too.



Thursday, 08 October 2015 | Hiranmay Karlekar

New Delhi needs partners to help it counter the Pakistani influence in Afghanistan’s affairs. Iran and Russia should be tapped for the purpose

The Kunduz battle has once again focussed on the situation in Afghanistan and reminded India of its massive security and economic stakes there. A Pakistan-sponsored Taliban Government in Kabul would severely undermine both, as would a nominally-independent Taliban-dominated dispensation. His periodic verbal salvoes against Pakistan and the Taliban notwithstanding, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani remains keen on an Islamabad-brokered peace with the Taliban. To please Pakistan, he has sent officer cadets to train there, shared information with it and helped in ferreting out Pakistani terrorists who had taken refuge in Afghanistan, including six involved in the horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. He is reportedly willing even to undertake constitutional amendments enabling the Taliban to share power, besides empowering its clerics to dismantle the gains in gender justice and human rights made the post-9/11 liberation. He is also a party to excluding India from the present peace process.

His visit to New Delhi on April 30, which yielded little, was yet another indication that Pakistan will dominate any dispensation established in Kabul through the current negotiations, and will whittle down India’s presence in Afghanistan. A section in India, however, remains unconcerned and argues that we should leave Afghanistan alone and concentrate on our own development since we can do little about a process blessed by both the United States and China.

This is a preposterous suggestion. India’s stakes in Afghanistan, to which it has committed assistance amounting cumulatively to two billion dollars — a very large amount for this country— are considerable. It covers a wide terrain including large infrastructural —and small developmental — projects, capacity-building initiatives and humanitarian assistance. Besides, there is the question of Afghanistan’s untapped mineral deposits worth one trillion dollar. The biggest ones are of iron ore and copper while lithium, niobium, cobalt and gold finds are very considerable. A Kabul dispensation that is Pakistan’s proxy will shut the door on Indian firms keen on exploiting these and end or substantially reduce this country’s trade with Afghanistan.


Thursday, 08 October 2015 | Pravin Sawhney

Retired Lt Gen PN Hoon has made the fantastic claim that the Army had planned a coup against the Union Government in 1987. He provides unsubstantiated material in support. His remarks need to be taken with a load of salt and rebutted with vehemence
We now know of the Army coup in 1987 that, thanks to the then Western Army commander, Lt Gen PN Hoon, did not happen. This and other ‘state secrets’ were recently revealed by the 86-year-old General while releasing his book, The Untold Truth in Chandigarh. The good news for the General is that all personalities (except one), involved or in know of the skeletons, are dead. The one living, then Army Vice-Chief, Gen SF Rodrigues, has already contradicted Gen Hoon. I, as the ADC to the high-profile Punjab Governor, SS Ray, in 1987, had a ringside view of events.

Gen Hoon’s ludicrous claim has three problems: An Army coup is impossible in India; the octogenarian General forgot that he had made verbatim claims (on coup, exercise Brass-Tacks and Siachen) in his earlier book, Unmasking Secrets of Turbulence; and he suffers from delusions of grandeur which come alive in his writings. Instead of keeping quiet at such outlandish claims, Army Headquarters should retort forcefully as such claims may affect reforms in higher defence organisations now under the Government’s consideration.

Here are three reasons why, unlike Pakistan, an Army coup is impossible in India. First, unlike the Pakistan Army where homogeneity of troops (mostly from the Punjab Province from where most Army chiefs hail as well) helps them rally around their boss, India has a heterogeneous army.
Second, unlike the Indian Army, the Pakistan Army has deliberately not created the designation of Army commanders responsible for a war theatre. The nine Corps commanders of the Pakistan Army report directly to the chief. Though operationally undesirable, this arrangement is necessary for the chief to maintain a firm grip. An Army commander with three or four Corps commanders under him would become too powerful for the chief’s comfort.

Will it be a frozen Moscow winter?


Posted at: Oct 8 2015 G Parthasarathy
Ignoring India’s concerns, Russia is keen to mend ties with China, Pakistan

PRESIDENT Putin talked tough on Syria in his New York meeting with President Obama. He signalled that Russia was no longer prepared to acquiesce in unilateral US actions in West Asia, despite American sanctions imposed on it, following its actions in Ukraine and Crimea. What has emerged is a more assertive Russian role, to challenge destabilising and disastrous American policies in Iraq, Libya and, most notably, Syria. Ill-advised US actions in West Asia have resulted in the rise of the barbaric ISIS and a massive refugee exodus from conflict zones, which has destabilised Europe. What is now emerging is an unannounced Russia-China partnership backed by Iran, Iraq and the Assad dispensation in Damascus to counter American unilateralism and dominance in West Asia.
Fortify the robust defence partnership with Russia.

Coincidentally, these Russian moves coincided with a visit to New Delhi on September 15 by Russian deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov. The Russian envoy focused on the expansion of membership of the UN Security Council and the situation in Syria. Gatilov paid lip service to support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Moscow, thereafter, chose to join China and Pakistan in seeking to undermine the G-4 initiative in the UN General Assembly, which aimed for an early decision on restructuring the UN Security Council. Interestingly, no meeting was scheduled between Mr Modi and President Putin in New York. Moscow has made no secret of its concerns about the US getting an increasing share in defence acquisitions by India.
Faced with unrelenting US hostility and sanctions, Russia now appears to have taken a decision to respond strongly in West Asia and elsewhere. It will strengthen its partnership with China, even if it involves acting as a junior partner of China in crucial areas like the Afpak Region and in Central Asia, where China has seized effective control of access to energy resources. This has eroded the historical dominance of Moscow in the oil and gas sectors in its southeastern, Central Asian neighbourhood. In Afghanistan, Russia plays a silent partner to Chinese-Pakistani initiatives seeking “reconciliation” with the Taliban. This is happening even as the Taliban, joined by remnants of Chechen resistance and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, seizes control of Kunduz, sending shivers down the spines of neighbouring Central Asian States like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Matter of honour- Orop is a pointer to a crisis in India's civil-military relations

Brijesh D. Jayal
It is rarely that the ministry of defence in South Block hosts a press briefing by the defence minister. So when one such briefing was announced, one anticipated that the mandarins were all set to put their best foot forward and close one deeply unfortunate chapter in a frayed civil-military relationship. A chapter that opened in 1973, when the armed forces' pay and pensions were lowered and those of their civil counterparts increased, thus setting the trend for a progressive decline in their relative status. The origins of this chapter go back to the early years of independence itself, when the prime minister even wondered whether the armed forces would be needed.

The present low in the history of civil-military relations has its origins in the unfulfilled promises made by successive administrations to deliver on the principle of 'one rank one pension'. Why patience snapped this time is difficult to say, but the unfortunate outcome was that a significant section of veterans decided to follow the example of unions and activists and set up camp at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. It goes without saying that this decision was driven by an uncaring political executive that had for four decades systematically downgraded the armed forces both in pay and status and then ignored more recent signals of appeal and the returning of medals to the president. When successive supreme commanders chose not to meet veterans' delegations surrendering medals, the die was truly cast.

The entire world now watches the spectacle of veteran soldiers of the largest democracy on the streets. Just when one thought that civil-military relations had hit rock bottom, we beheld the unholy sight of the police attempting to forcibly evict veterans. To a society used to taking its armed forces for granted, to a Parliament that takes little interest and to a polity that has outsourced the task of handling the armed forces to the bureaucracy, this minor episode may be just an irritant. But to those for whom izzat or honour is more precious than life, this one image has left a deep scar.

On way out, Manmohan gave PM Modi file on hush-hush Kashmir talks with Pakistan


Files recording unsigned documents exchanged by the two sides were personally handed over to PM Modi by his predecessor at a May 27, 2014 meeting

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: October 8, 2015 
Manmohan Singh and L K Advani at the book launch of Khurshid Kasuri in New Delhi Wednesday. 

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf had hammered out a draft framework agreement on Jammu and Kashmir in secret talks, a senior Indian diplomat familiar with the negotiations has told The Indian Express.
Files recording unsigned documents exchanged by the two sides were personally handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his predecessor at a May 27, 2014 meeting, the diplomat said.

The official spoke even as former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri is in New Delhi to release the Indian edition of his book, Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove — the first insider account of India-Pakistan secret diplomacy on Kashmir.
Kasuri’s book quotes General Musharraf as stating that the secret Kashmir agreement envisaged joint management of the state by India and Pakistan, as well as demilitarisation of the territory.
The Indian negotiator said the final draft of the framework agreement in fact spoke of a “consultative mechanism”, made up of elected representatives of the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, as well as officials of the two national governments. The consultative mechanism, he said, was mandated to address regional “social and economic issues”, like tourism, religious pilgrimages, culture and trade.
New Delhi, the official said, had rejected General Musharraf’s push for institutions for joint management of Kashmir by the two states, arguing it would erode Indian sovereignty.

Prime Minister Singh’s hand-picked envoy, Ambassador Satinder Lambah, and General Musharraf’s interlocutors, Riaz Muhammad Khan and Tariq Aziz, held over 200 hours of discussions on the draft agreement, during 30 meetings held in Dubai and Kathmandu.
Lambah, a former intelligence official recalled, was also flown to Rawalpindi on a Research and Analysis Wing jet as negotiations reached an advanced stage, travelling without a passport or visa to ensure the meetings remained secret.

Access at the cost of Net neutrality?


In the Net neutrality debate, there is a conflict between two core values: ease of access and neutrality. The ease of access promised by applications like Free Basics compromises neutrality and may later morph into a method of predatory pricingIf programs that bring access to a part of the Internet in the immediate future were to entrench themselves, it could eventually lead to telecom companies abusing their dominant positionsIn the absence of a specific law mandating a neutral Internet, telecom companies enjoy a virtual carte blanche to discriminate between different applications. Though they have not yet exploited this autonomy fully, they are certainly moving towards that.

Earlier this year, the social media giant, Facebook, formalised a partnership with Reliance Communications that enabled the Indian company to provide access to over 30 different websites, without any charge on mobile data accruing to the ultimate user. The platform, originally known as “Internet.org,” has now been rebranded as “Free Basics,” Facebook announced last month. Its fundamental ethos, though, remains unchanged. It allows Reliance’s subscribers to surf completely free of cost a bouquet of websites covered within the scheme, which includes, quite naturally, facebook.com. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, views this supposed initiative as a philanthropic gesture, as part of a purported, larger aim to bring access to the Internet to those people who find the costs of using generally available mobile data prohibitive.

Neutrality, an interpretive concept

On the face of it, this supposed act of altruism appears to be commendable. But, there are many critics — some of whom have come together to launch a website “savetheinternet.in” with a view to defending Internet freedom — who argue that Free Basics violates what has come to be known as the principle of network (or Net) neutrality.

World Undergoing Major Population Shift with Far-reaching Implications for Migration, Poverty, Development: WB/IMF Report

October 7, 2015

LIMA, October 7, 2015 -- As migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East continue to arrive in Europe in unprecedented numbers, a new World Bank/IMF report says that large-scale migration from poor countries to richer regions of the world will be a permanent feature of the global economy for decades to come as a result of major population shifts in countries.

According to the Global Monitoring Report 2015/2016: Development Goals in an Era of Demographic Change, released in Peru at the start of the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, the world is undergoing a major population shift that will reshape economic development for decades and, while posing challenges, offers a path to ending extreme poverty and shared prosperity if the right evidence-based policies are put in place nationally and internationally.

The share of global population that is working age has peaked at 66 percent and is now on the decline. World population growth is expected to slow to 1 percent from more than 2 percent in the 1960s. The share of the elderly is anticipated to almost double to 16 percent by 2050, while the global count of children is stabilizing at 2 billion.

The direction and pace of this global demographic transition varies dramatically from country to country, with differing implications depending on where a nation stands on the spectrum of aging and economic development. Regardless of this diversity, countries at all stages of development can harness demographic transition as a tremendous development opportunity, the report says.

“With the right set of policies, this era of demographic change can be an engine of economic growth,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “If countries with aging populations can create a path for refugees and migrants to participate in the economy, everyone benefits, Most of the evidence suggests that migrants will work hard and contribute more in taxes than they consume in social services.”

Reflections on India’s Nepal policy


by Pranay Kotasthane on SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 i 

What should India do in response to the protests on the Indo—Nepal border?

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

Creating a new Republic is, at any rate, a gargantuan task. Seldom do states come out unscathed from the process. The task is compounded further in a networked society where failure to reconcile conflicting political demands can quickly escalate into a political crisis.

This is exactly the situation that Nepal’s seventh constitution has led the state to. Failure to accommodate the interests of the people from southern Nepal has led to widespread protests in the Terai region. Because of these protests, the flow of essential supplies into the landlocked country from India has ebbed, leading thepahadis of Kathmandu to label these protests as India sponsored interference. The Indian government has denied any blockade of trade, but has publicly expressed that some sections of the new constitution do not have broad-based ownership and acceptance.

The political protests have shifted the focus back to India—Nepal relations. While many commentators have opined on the hits and misses of the new constitution itself, there’s no assessment of how the latest political upheaval in Kathmandu is going to impact India’s national interests.

Before addressing India’s concerns, a brief review of the geopolitical realities of India—Nepal relations will help understand the situation better. First, Nepal being a landlocked country is heavily dependent on India. Dependence on another nation-state for its own survival is suicidal in international relations. So, it is perfectly understandable that any dispensation in Nepal will seek to reduce this dependence on India by breaking the Himalayan barrier and securing alternate trade and travel routes through Tibet.

How deeply Pakistan cares for Kashmiris was on stark display last week. Television footage from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) bared the tyranny Islamabad inflicts on Kashmiris who have the misfortune to live in PoK.
For the first time, India has changed the grammar of its dispute with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The core issue is PoK, not J&K. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made the point clinically at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on October 1. Responding to Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif's four-point formula for normalising relations, Swaraj placed PoK at the heart of the dispute.

"Vacate PoK" was her blunt message. She added: "None of us can accept that terrorism is a legitimate instrument of statecraft. We all know that these attacks are meant to destabilise India and legitimise Pakistan's illegal occupation of parts of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir."
Pakistan has successfully "gamed" world opinion for decades that it is the victim of both terrorism and Indian perfidy in Jammu and Kashmir. Let's dismantle the lies.

Lie 1: "United Nations resolutions require India to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir."

Fact: The relevant UN resolution dated August 13, 1948, requires Pakistan to vacate PoK before a plebiscite is even considered. Since this is a long-running lie used frequently by both Pakistani leaders and analysts on Indian television debates, it's important to reproduce the relevant UN resolution in full:

PART I: Ceasefire order

A. The governments of India and Pakistan agree that their respective high commands will issue separately and simultaneously a ceasefire order to apply to all forces under their control and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir as of the earliest practicable date or dates to be mutually agreed upon within four days after these proposals have been accepted by both governments.

B. The high commands of the Indian and Pakistani forces agree to refrain from taking any measures that might augment the military potential of the forces under their control in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. (For the purpose of these proposals forces under their control shall be considered to include all forces, organised and unorganised, fighting or participating in hostilities on their respective sides.)

C. The commanders-in-chief of the forces of India and Pakistan shall promptly confer regarding any necessary local changes in present dispositions which may facilitate the ceasefire.

D. In its discretion and as the commission may find practicable, the commission will appoint military observers who, under the authority of the commission and with the cooperation of both commands, will supervise the observance of the ceasefire order.

E. The government of India and the government of Pakistan agree to appeal to their respective peoples to assist in creating and maintaining an atmosphere favourable to the promotion of further negotiations.

Is Pak Power Centre Losing the Script?


Paper No. 6017 Dated 6-Oct-2015

By Bhaskar Roy

When Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif landed in New York for the annual UN General Assembly session, his body language lacked confidence and inspiration. He carried a restricted brief from the GHQ in Rawalpindi – just raise the Kashmir issue and internationalise it. A limited brief, indeed.
No interaction with the Pakistani diaspora in the USA was scheduled. Why? Is the GHQ afraid of the questions they may raise? There was no meeting with the American business community to bring in investments to Pakistan. This road must have been explored but with negative impact. Even the expatriate Pakistani community in the US are both to invest in unstable, turbulent Pakistan where the jihadists ate fast emerging as a power pole.

Even before Nawaz Sharif arrived in New York, the pitch was queered by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ms. Maliha Lodi. On September 9, Lodi wrote a letter to the UN that India was building a 10 foot high, 197 kms long wall along the LOC, against UN resolutions on the Kashmir issue, to seal off Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), to permanently shelve the Kashmir issue.

Lodi is known to be close to the army and ISI. Her inputs and brief were obviously not prepared by the civilian government in Islamabad. The inputs were taken from a declaration by Sayed Salauddin, the chief of the internationally banned jihadi outfit, the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), operating in Kashmir. Salauddin is also head of the United Jihad Council, based in Pakistan and Controlled by the ISI.

The letter became a joke in UN circles. More embarrassing for Pakistan was the fact that Pakistan’s foreign policy was now being dictated by jihadi outfits, otherwise known as state-sponsored terrorists.

The Need for Haste on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir: China Pakistan Economic Corridor Needs a Counter Strategy

P. Stobdan, October 07, 2015

Snubbing Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism and calling upon Pakistan to vacate the portion of Kashmir that remains under its illegal occupation is not new to the Indian policy approach. What is new is the assertion by the Narendra Modi Government on the need to reverse the game by shifting the discourse on Kashmir. New Delhi’s new move is accompanied by the sudden sprouting of videos showing Pakistani atrocities in Gilgit and Baltistan (GB).

While Pakistan has effectively sustained its Kashmir agenda for seven decades, India has been defensive and sporadic in its claim over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Hopefully, the rhetoric this time is not a propaganda stunt and the policy shift will gain traction. As a step to wreck Pakistan’s agenda, India has correctly proscribed the Hurriyat factor from the NSA-level talk – denying Pakistan any leeway on both terror and political dialogue.

While changing the Kashmir narrative is important, India needs to pay serious attention to the changing nature of power play that has brought PoK to the forefront of China’s geopolitical calculations. The region came under spotlight after Xi Jinping announced plans for developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and pledged USD 46 billion for building transport and energy connectivity to link Pakistan with China’s ambitious flagship project ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR). The August 2015 “Karamay Declaration” detailed Pakistan’s role in China’s global scheme. Lately, even Russia has indicated its interest in joining the bandwagon to prop up Pakistan’s strategic significance for Eurasian integration.

Top U.S. Commander: American Troops Need to Stay in Afghanistan

Migrant CrisisIran Nuke Deal2016 RaceThe Islamic State

OCTOBER 6, 2015 
The U.S. Army general leading the 14,000-strong NATO force in Afghanistan made a plea on Tuesday to leave American forces in Afghanistan longer to train the faltering Afghan security forces, a move that would require President Barack Obama to scrap his December 2016 timeline for withdrawing the last U.S. troops from the country.
Afghans still “cannot handle the fight alone” without American close air support and a special operations counterterrorism force to hit Taliban leadership, Gen. John Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It will take time for them to build their human capital” in logistics and managing their forces in the field, meaning Afghan forces will need international assistance “well beyond this year.”

Campbell said he has provided the White House a variety of options on troop strength, but he hedged when asked specifically how many of the 9,800 American troops should remain in Afghanistan and for how long.
The testimony comes just days after a U.S. airstrike in the city of Kunduz hit a charity hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, killing 22 and injuring another 37 civilians. The attack has sparked international outrage, particularly as the American explanation for the tragedy has continued to change. Initial reports said U.S. forces were under fire at the location, but that story changed on Monday, when Campbell said Afghan forces had requested the strike by an AC-130 gunship after reporting that they had come under Taliban fire.
Just before Campbell’s testimony, Dr. Joanne Liu, president of the aid group, released a statement charging the hospital was “deliberately bombed” and that the group is “working on the presumption of a war crime.” The group has maintained that it had provided the GPS coordinates of the hospital to coalition and Afghan officials, as recently as Sept. 29.

On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Campbell took more responsibility, telling the panel, “To be clear, the decision to provide [airstrikes] was a U.S. decision, made within the U.S. chain of command. The hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”
He and other senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter, have promised a full investigation into the incident.

The U.S. cannot afford to forget Afghanistan and Pakistan


Injured Doctors Without Borders staff are seen after explosions at their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Saturday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via Associated Press)

By David Ignatius Opinion writer October 6 
Last weekend’s deadly attack on an international hospital in Afghanistan was a reminder of the terrible war that grinds on there, with Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire. 
Doctors Without Borders, a globally respected group, has charged that the deaths of 22 patients and staff members at its hospital in Kunduz was a “war crime.” The United States has promised to investigate what Gen. John Campbell, the NATO commander in Kabul, says was a mistake

The hospital bombing comes as the United States is quietly exploring some diplomatic options that could reduce the violence in Afghanistan — and perhaps even curb the danger of a nuclear Pakistan next door. As with most diplomacy in South Asia, these prospects are “iffy,” at best. But they open a window on what’s happening in a part of the world that, except for disasters such as the Kunduz incident, gets little attention these days. 

Taliban seizure of Kunduz,

OCTOBER 7, 2015
After months of taking a backseat to numerous other geostrategic hotspots, the recent Taliban seizure of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s sixth largest city, has thrust this troubled country once again into international headlines. The Taliban’s first instance of overrunning a provincial capital comes at an inopportune time for the National Unity Government (NUG), which just completed its first year in office. While it now appears as though the Afghan security forces have retaken much of the city, the incident raises grave questions about the viability of the Afghan state, the U.S. approach to state-building, and U.S. plans to withdraw significantly from the country by the end of President Barack Obama’s term. Before drawing firm conclusions, it is important to understand the specific factors that led to this unfortunate event and place it in the proper national context.

With 2015 designated as the year that the NATO coalition would step back from combat operations, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) faced a tough endeavor functioning wholly on their own for the first time. Regrettably but unsurprisingly, the ANSF have suffered high casualty rates and struggled to deter an increasingly active insurgency. In particularly contested areas, the ANSF have struggled to hold district centers and have been tied up in tit-for-tat engagements that required “tactical retreats” until enough reinforcements could be mustered, oftentimes aided by coalition air support and intelligence. Forced essentially into either a defensive or reactive posture, the ANSF has rarely been able to dislodge the Taliban from locations where they have traditionally held de facto sway.



OCTOBER 7, 2015
 After months of taking a backseat to numerous other geostrategic hotspots, the recent Taliban seizure of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s sixth largest city, has thrust this troubled country once again into international headlines. The Taliban’s first instance of overrunning a provincial capital comes at an inopportune time for the National Unity Government (NUG), which just completed its first year in office. While it now appears as though the Afghan security forces have retaken much of the city, the incident raises grave questions about the viability of the Afghan state, the U.S. approach to state-building, and U.S. plans to withdraw significantly from the country by the end of President Barack Obama’s term. Before drawing firm conclusions, it is important to understand the specific factors that led to this unfortunate event and place it in the proper national context.

With 2015 designated as the year that the NATO coalition would step back from combat operations, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) faced a tough endeavor functioning wholly on their own for the first time. Regrettably but unsurprisingly, the ANSF have suffered high casualty rates and struggled to deter an increasingly active insurgency. In particularly contested areas, the ANSF have struggled to hold district centers and have been tied up in tit-for-tat engagements that required “tactical retreats” until enough reinforcements could be mustered, oftentimes aided by coalition air support and intelligence. Forced essentially into either a defensive or reactive posture, the ANSF has rarely been able to dislodge the Taliban from locations where they have traditionally held de facto sway.

In Kunduz, the Taliban have successfully maintained influence in districts where they have for years enjoyed support and capitalized on a concerted effort to expand their influence to the point where Taliban fighters found themselves on the doorstep of the eponymous provincial capital. The seizure of Kunduz did not develop overnight and removing the threat to the city — and to the country as a whole — will require far more than forceful military operations.

Summary of Taliban Operations in Afghanistan

Institute for the Study of War

October 6, 2015

Afghanistan may again become a safe haven for the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Taliban factions have markedly increased the pace of operations throughout Afghanistan following the September 28 offensive against Kunduz city. The increased tempo of Taliban operations is partly a demonstration of power by Mullah Akhtar Mansour aimed at silencing dissident commanders, as he confirmed in an October 2 interview. Senior Al Qaeda leader Hussam Abdul Raouf urged Taliban dissidents to pledge allegiance to Mullah Akthar Mansour, possibly showing their coordination. A prolonged offensive and consolidation of Taliban control in northern Afghanistan could position elements loyal to Mullah Akhtar Mansour for follow on assaults on several provincial capitals and put Taliban elements within 150 miles of Kabul. The Taliban will likely conduct increased attacks in Takhar, Badakhshan, and Baghlan provinces to extend the Northern offensive. These provinces contain key transit routes that the Taliban were able to blockade during their offensive on Kunduz city, stymieing nearly one thousand ANSF reinforcements sent from Kabul and Badakhshan provinces. The Taliban will likely try to gain and hold a permanent presence in Takhar, Badakhshan, and Baghlan provinces to consolidate their control in the north before attempting to advance on Kabul. The offensives in Jowzjan, Faryab, and Sar-e Pul, and Farah provinces may be follow on assaults by Mullah Mansour’s faction as he continues to consolidate power within the Taliban ranks.

ANSF forces will face a growing challenge to their counter offensive. The ongoing northern offensive by Mansour’s Taliban faction has drawn thousands of ANSF reinforcements previously stationed in other areas. Mullah Mansour’s competitors from rival Taliban factions will likely attempt to launch their own offensives to maintain relevancy and establish legitimacy among the Taliban ranks. Increased attacks by these rival mTaliban factions against ANSF forces are anticipated in Helmand Province, Kandahar Province, and Zabul Province. Meanwhile ISIS’s Afghanistan affiliate conducted an IED attack on ANSF forces in Nangarhar province, killing several civilians. The attack demonstrates the threat ISIS poses to ANSF forces in Nangarhar, a threat highlighted by General John Campbell in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on October 6.

Russia-China Strategic Nexus: How Strategic?

Paper No. 6016 Dated 05-Oct-2015

By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Russia-China strategic nexus and the troubled China-US relations are the most hotly debated topics in global strategic nexus in the 21st Century.

These revolve around the unpredictability of China whose aspirational objective of emerging as the next global superpower impinges heavily on Russian and American strategic interests, and ironically both of these mighty nations tend to appease and aid China’s not so peaceful rise in global affairs.

China has not been steadfast in its loyalty to either Russia or to the United States even when in different periods in the last few decades it has oscillated in swinging its strategic proximities between Russia and the United States. This is all part of recorded history. China more pointedly was never fully loyal even to its ideological mentor and strategic patron of the formative stages of consolidating its nationhood, namely the former Soviet Union.

The Russia-China strategic nexus is an opportunistic so-called strategic arrangement which sprung into existence in the immediate wake of the first few years of the Post-Cold War era in the 1990s. It is difficult to designate it as a ‘Strategic Partnership’ because today there are less of strategic convergences and more of perceptional strategic divergences of their respective neighbourhoods. The Russia-China strategic nexus was a reactive knee-jerk reaction to the emergence of unbridled United States strategic dominance of the last two decades.

Russia and China have divergent views on Japan and the most serious in terms of differing perceptions. China views Japan as an implacable enemy because of its historical experiences and fears that a Japan reorienting its military priorities and security philosophies can in the future again emerge as a security concern for China.

Growing Presence of Russian Spy Planes and Electronic Warfare Aircraft in Syria

Spy Planes, Signal Jammers, and Putin’s High-Tech War in Syria

Elias Groll, Foreign Policy, October 6, 2015

Russia has been sending fighter jets, drones, and bombers to Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, generating concern and outrage among the United States and its allies. Far less attention has been paid to Moscow’s simultaneous deployment of advanced surveillance, signals intelligence, and electronic warfare equipment that could deal a new blow to the beleaguered, American-backed rebels working to oust him.
In recent weeks, Russia has deployed the IL-20 surveillance aircraft, better known by its NATO name “Coot” and roughly equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s P-3 Orion, a mainstay of the Pentagon’s spy tools. The Russian plane is bristling with high-tech equipment like surveillance radar, electronic eavesdropping gear, andoptical and infrared sensors. One of the Kremlin’s premier spy planes, it provides Russian forces with a powerful tool for locating rebel units and assigning targets to its fighter planes. In late September, Syrian rebels posted a video purporting to show the plane flying over a battlefield.

The Russian buildup of intelligence assets and tools of electronic warfare also includes the deployment of the Krasukha-4, an advanced electronic warfare system used to jam radar and aircraft. Its presence in Syria was reported by Sputnik News, the Russian state outlet, which claimed to have spotted the distinctive jamming system in a video report on Russian jets at a Syrian airfield in Latakia. The system and its parabolas are visible at the 6-second mark in the video below.
The deployment of the IL-20, or Coot, is perhaps the clearest indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to ensure his troops in Syria are not reliant on Assad’s forces for targeting information — and that they may be preparing for a ground combat role. On Monday, Moscow said “volunteer” troops would be heading to Syria to join in the fight there, a barely disguised sign that Russian forces could soon be directly battling U.S.-backed rebels inside Syria.

Fighting ‘Terrorism’ Suits Putin’s Worldwide Naval Ambitions


Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during celebrations for Navy Day as it rains in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad region, Russia, July 26. Maintaining naval access has become a centerpiece of Putin’s foreign policy and may shed light on future Russian foreign policy goals, the author writes. RIA NOVOSTI/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN/REUTERS

Considering that he earned his spurs in the culture of the KGB, Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated surprisingly strong navalist tendencies over the past 18 months.
Adding irony to this new focus on the sea, his presidency began with allegations that he mishandled the disaster of the sinking of the “Kursk” submarine in 2000, just three months after he was inaugurated as Russian president.

However, last week’s deployment of Russian military forces to Syria confirmed that maintaining naval access has become a centerpiece of Putin’s foreign policy and may shed light on future Russian foreign policy goals.
Two other recent developments confirm this trend of restoring Russian naval power: the annexation of Crimea in March of 2014 and the release of theMaritime Doctrine of Russian Federation 2020 in July of 2015.

Global Monitoring Report

The Global Monitoring Report analyzes the policies and institutions needed to make progress in achieving global development goals. Produced jointly with the IMF, these reports benchmark progress and present analytical work on issues that will impact global development.

Development Goals in an Era of Demographic Change

This year’s Global Monitoring Report, produced jointly by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, details the progress the world has made towards global development goals and examines the impact of demographic change on achieving these goals.
The report details the decline of those living in global poverty, which is reclassified as living on $1.90 or less a day, to a forecast 9.6 percent of the world’s population in 2015 -- a projected 200 million fewer people living in extreme poverty than in 2012. It also revises world economic growth projections for 2015 down to 3.3 percent on the basis of lower growth prospects in emerging markets.

Inside the Jihadi Mind: Understanding Ideology and Propaganda

Emman El-Badawy, Milo Comerford and Peter Welby
06 Oct 2015


New research from the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics finds a common ideology communicated through the propaganda of three leading jihadi groups. Read our summary of the report's key findings and how these can inform our response.

Understanding Jihadi Ideology
There is increasing recognition from politicians and policy makers, including by both President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, that the ideology of jihadi movements must be countered to undermine the threat. Its combination of theology and political objectives needs to be uprooted through rigorous scrutiny, and sustained intellectual confrontation.

After the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda had approximately 300 militants. ISIS alone now has, at a low estimate, 31,000 fighters across Syria and Iraq. Understanding how ideology has driven this phenomenon is essential to containing and defeating violent extremism.
But violent ideologies do not operate in a vacuum. A fire requires oxygen to grow. A broader political culture overlaps significantly with some of the assumptions of the jihadi ideology, without necessarily being extreme or agreeing with its violence.

The jihadi ideology preys upon those who are sympathetic to some of its aims. Unless we understand how the ideology relates to wider beliefs, we cannot uproot it.
"The single best work I have read on the ideological foundations... of jihadi violence" Professor Bruce Hoffman

The Centre on Religion & Geopolitics has analysed a cross-section of 114 propaganda sources ranging from April 2013 to summer 2015 from three Salafi-jihadi groups: ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Its aim is to identify precisely what ideology is shared by the three groups, as revealed in their propaganda, in order to inform effective counter-narratives from mainstream Muslims, governments and civil society.



One of the biggest takeaways from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent state visit was the announcement thatWashington and Beijing agreed “neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.” The language is straightforward in English as well as in the Chinese version appearing in state media. In addition to the affirmation, Obama and Xi approved a high-level joint dialogue mechanism to fight cybercrime and related issues. The Chinese side includes the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of State Security as well as several other relevant departments. The cyber-related announcements proved wrong the pessimistic expectations of Xi’s state visit. One long-time China watcher, based on his conversations with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers in Beijing, wrote just ahead of the Obama–Xi meeting that no such cyber accord would be possible.

Optimists will see the joint affirmation (agreement is too formal a word) as a turning point in the relationship and the possible end to one of the issues poisoning the U.S.–China relationship. The joint affirmation and the accompanying cyber dialogue mechanisms, however, leave some troubling questions unanswered. Moreover, although it appears China now agrees with U.S. views about acceptable targets for national intelligence efforts, the language — “with the intent of providing competitive advantages” — requires an additional set of changes in thinking that may not be possible amid Sino–American distrust. If the affirmation fails to curb Chinese intellectual property theft — as even Director of National Intelligence James Clapper fears — those words intended to save intellectual property from government theft may become yet another broken promise littering the U.S.-China relationship.

Explainer: Who Are Syria's Anti-Assad Forces?


from The Conversation,  -- this post authored by Natasha Ezrow, University of Essex

When the Arab Spring hit Syria in 2011, few would have predicted that a simpleuprising in Deraa would lead to full-blown conflict with over 250,000 dead and millions fleeing the country.
The original opposition to Bashar al-Assad's regime appeared to be a combination of secular and moderate religious forces committed to democracy, human rights and ridding the country of corruption. But just like the chaos thrown up by the Lebanese Civil War, the Syrian conflict has given birth to over 1,000 different militias, making it devilishly hard to distinguish who's fighting for what.

Provided it has free access to arms, any group can form a militia - and though many of the militias are anti-Assad forces, they also complicate matters by fighting each other.
Though there are an estimated 300,000-plus fighters across anti-Assad forces, these groups are not fighting a united front, and the alliances among them are constantly shifting. Many groups have splintered off after disagreements, and rebel groups have had to shift their attention from fighting Assad to fighting extremists.

So with Russia's recent strikes against what it has opaquely called "anti-Assad forces", it pays to ask just who the main groups opposing the Damascus regime actually are.
Uneasy coalition
Alongside extremist Islamist groups, the opposition includes moderates, secularists and Kurdish groups. The Syrian Revolutionary Command Council (sometimes referred to as the Syrian National Coalition) is the primary secular faction, though it does include a number of Islamist militias. This alliance of 72 factions was formed in August of 2014 to help the anti-Assad forces co-ordinate better. It has received support from both the West and Saudi Arabia.



Wednesday, 07 October 2015 | Gwynne Dyer
If at all there is a US-China war, Chinese win is possible only with a growing economy. With a growth rate of four per cent, China cannot overtake the US any time soon
There is a small but significant industry in the United States that predicts the ‘coming war’ with China, and The Atlantic Magazine is foremost among reputable American monthlies in giving a home to such speculation. It has just done it again, in an article that includes a hearty dose of geopolitical theory. The theory is ‘The Thucydides Trap’.

The author is Graham Allison of Harvard University, the man who coined that phrase. Thucydides, the historian of the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BC, explained what caused the war this way: “It was the rise of Athens, and the fear that this inspired in Sparta, that made war inevitable.” It lasted for 20 years, and at the end of it, the two great powers of the ancient Greek world were both devastated.
Yet, they didn't really go to war over anything in particular, according to Thucydides. The problem was that Athens was overtaking Sparta in power (like China is overtaking the United States now), and just that one fact was enough to send them to war. So are China and the United States doomed to go to war in the next decade?

Mr Allison knows better than to make a hard prediction, but he does point out that out of the past 16 cases, when one major power was gaining in power and its rival feared relegation to the second rank, 12 ended in war.
Does it really matter who's more powerful when China and the United States have no shared border, make no territorial claims against each other, and are separated by the world's largest ocean? Lots of people in each country would say no, but both countries have military, industrial, academic complexes that thrive on the threat of a US-Chinese military conflict.

US braces for WW3 with Cyber Command 'Vision' of integrated cyberops


No mention of Skynet or WOPR as yet
10 Sep 2015 , Alexander J Martin

Cybersecurity friends

As memorandums of understanding continue to proliferate between cybercrime authorities and the private sector, Rogers notes an additional need for Cybercom to partner with industry itself to develop its operational capabilities.
However, unlike cybercrime authorities' collaborations with anti-malware and AV solution vendors, amongst whom there are evidently many shared goals and obvious areas for collaboration, Cybcercom is committed to developing its offensive capabilities, which suggest it may collaborate with a different form of private enterprise.

Rogers offered his intention "that we move forward quickly with our partners to build our military capabilities ... We will build our teams and capabilities to be agile, innovative and accountable as we execute our missions on behalf of our nation."

Cyberspace is a "dynamic domain which changes every time someone connects a networked device", offered Rogers in conclusion.

The only certain feature of this environment is uncertainty, which makes agility a necessity ... Cyberspace is a human construct, so the broad principles of strategy and conflict still apply. Warfighting skills remain critical — they just have to be faster and partnered.

Ultimately, the Admiral added that at "a time when most of DoD is facing budget cuts, the National Security Strategy and its implementation by the Department of Defense call for increased investments in cyberspace capacity because of a belief that the cyber mission set merits new investment."

"The Department of Defense and the nation are counting on us to be there. We must be ready

US Cyber Command floats $460m contract to outsource most of itself WW3 will be fought by mercenariescontractors


Alexander J Martin

The United States' Cyber Command has floated a $460m contract to outsource pretty much all of its duties, as the nation seeks to bulk up its offensive cyberspace capabilities.
114-page draft support contract (PDF), and an 86-page draft task order (PDF), for the US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) were published on 30 September, according tothe Defense One website.
The drafts show USCYBERCOM progressing with Admiral Michael S. Rogers' vision statement, published earlier in September.
At that time, Admiral Rogers, who also heads the NSA and Central Security Service, stated USCYBERCOM must "move forward quickly with our partners to build our military capabilities."
While specifics on the capabilities are not revealed, they are detailed as "providing Cyber Joint Munitions Effectiveness support."
The Cyber Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manual (JMEM), a project to develop the US military's conception of cyber as a warfare domain, was summarised in the Summer 2013 issue (PDF) of theModeling and Simulation Journal.
The summary, which was written by the Pentagon's Dr Mark Gallagher, and an offensive cyber operations bod from USCYBERCOM, Dr Michael Horta, detailed the complications involved in cyberwar and encouraged the use of "equivalent models and data [that] exist for planning nuclear operations."

Outsourcing WW3

A core discipline required of the USCYBERCOM contractor would be in providing cyberspace operational support, which the draft suggested includes “recommending, developing, evaluating, analysing, and integrating cyber weapons/tools/capabilities.”
Specifically, that support is "defined as providing technical expertise to assist in the planning, coordination, and synchronization of [Offensive Cyberspace Operations (OCO)] and [Defensive Cyberspace Operations (DCO)], and operation of the [Department of Defense Information Networks (DODIN)]."
The contractor's "required core disciplines" include ("but are not limited to"):
  • Administrative, logistics, and record management support
  • Cyberspace operational support (As above)
  • Cyberspace planning support
  • All-source intelligence gathering
  • Capability management and development support
  • Training and exercises for the cyber workforce
  • IT and communications support
  • Strategy/Policy/Doctrine development and campaign assessments
  • Engagement activities support
  • Security integrity and compliance
The contractor is also expected to answer to the regular requirements for contractors, which include security vetting. The draft also includes the expectation that the contractor would produce presentations in support of management briefings.
Notably, such presentations that made up the majority of Edward Snowden's leaked documents.

The secrets to going digital


How do leading companies transition to digital, and what role can the chief digital officer play? In this interview, McKinsey’s Kate Smaje explains.

September 2015
The organizational challenges of transitioning to digital are enormous. In this interview, McKinsey director Kate Smaje reveals what leading companies do differently, the qualities required of a successful chief digital officer (CDO), and what organizations must do to make digital change happen. An edited transcript of her remarks follows.
Interview transcript

One of the things I see those companies that are starting to get some momentum on digital transformation do is they’re aiming where the ball should be. They’re not thinking about a big, bold aspiration that just satisfies today, makes me “me too” with my competitor, or is an incremental way of thinking about it. They’re thinking, “Where’s that ball going? What’s the disruption that’s going to hit, or could hit?” They’re challenging themselves to think several years out and to think about a different business model to what they have today: to stress test whether they’re being disruptive enough and big enough in the way that they are looking at their transformation.
What digital companies do well
Companies that do this well are willing to take the tough decisions, and that can take a couple of different forms. Up front, it’s tough decisions about, what do we need to just stop doing today? I had one client that basically did an app amnesty. It said, “Everybody throw in your mobile apps from around the company. We know we’re spending too much money on this. We know we’re not getting the impact. Everyone throw them in. Let’s decide what we really need to do.” The client got rid of most of the apps that it actually had live and just focused all of the investment on two or three. So that’s an example of making some of the hard decisions up front.

I also see those taking the hard decisions fast enough after the fact. So when I’ve had a great idea, and it’s taken hold, but then you find that, actually, you know what, it’s not really working, don’t keep flogging that dead horse. Get rid of it. The creative-destruction process in good digital companies happens fast, and it’s shameless. It doesn’t matter if something fails, you just move on. And I see a lot of legacy companies try and hold onto those ideas for too long. As they do, it takes management attention away, resources away, and stops you from moving on to the next thing—the next pivot on that idea, which might just be a little bit different, but it’s 20 times better.
The ideal chief digital officer

US Should Be More Worried About Russia’s Cyber Capabilities

 October 02, 2015 06:1 

On Tuesday, an intelligence officer from the US warned that Russia is yet to unleash its full cyber capacity on the United States. Admiral Mike Rogers, who heads the US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, says that although China has been behind a major chunk of cyber attacks on US targets but is confident that Russia has even more enhanced capabilities in this arena. However, the only reason that Russia has not entered this new form of warfare is because it has chosen not to.

Earlier this year, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence claimed that a Russian cyber threat is more severe than initially thought. This comes as quite a development considering the fact that most of the intelligence officials have been more vocal about Chinese cyber capabilities. In the last few months, Chinese hackers have hacked into various public and private US targets with an attack on the Office of Personnel Management being the most notable one. That was the largest security breach in US history and resulted in the theft of more than 20 million classified personnel files.

However, this attack would be nothing considering the attacks Russia can carry out at free will. Intelligence officials believe that Russia boasts a central cyber command infrastructure which is similar to that of the US. In past, Russian hackers have hacked into unclassified servers in the State Department, Defense Department and the White House.

Clapper says that although US is well prepared for a large scale attack to destroy US infrastructure, chances of such an even occurring are very slim since most of the hacking incidents in recent memory have been low to moderate level attacks. However, such attacks do affect America’s economic competitiveness and national security.

Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., attributed America's diminished cyberdefenses to the lack of a policy on deterrence. "Our adversaries view our response ... as timid and ineffectual. Put simply, the problem is a lack of deterrence. The administration has not demonstrated to our adversaries that the consequence of continued cyberattacks against us outweigh the benefit."



OCTOBER 7, 2015
In the Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan hilariously, tongue-twistingly, and mockingly described the 19th-century “model of a modern Major General.” If they were alive today, they could find a real model in General John (Jack) Galvin, who died late last month. Today, 23 years after he retired from active duty, national security professionals could not have a better role model for these turbulent times than Galvin. He epitomized the character, devotion to duty, respect for education, and vision that we often talk about and seldom find in our leaders. What made Galvin special?

From working class roots, Galvin began his service in 1947 in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. When good-natured Irish sergeants decided that he was a fine man but that “he would never make a sergeant,” he moved on to West Point and had a number of atypical assignments in Puerto Rico, the Colombian version of Ranger School, U.S. airborne infantry units, and then the Armor advanced course. He then took a Master’s in English at Columbia and taught at West Point. Later, he did two tours under harsh combat conditions in Vietnam. He would never talk about his exploits but he won the Silver Star and various other valor decorations in the storied 1st Cavalry Division. He commanded a heavy brigade in Europe and a division in the United States, and later commanded both Southern Command and European Command, ending his uniformed service with seven years as a combatant commander.

Even though he had a remarkably successful career, this is not what made him a role model for today’s national security professionals. It was not what he did, but how he did it. Galvin always took the broad view and the long-term perspective. He was willing to take unfashionable assignments to learn about the world and his profession. He cultivated allies and coalition partners with strong concentrations of contacts in Panama, Colombia, Germany, and Spain. This came in handy as he organized NATO assets to come to the aid of Central Command in the First Gulf War. Later, he managed the end of the Cold War in Europe, reaching out to the Russians to try to build a better peace. His work and that of his successor, General John Shalikashvili, in helping to create new partners for peace and, later, new NATO allies in East Europe, was a more lasting accomplishment.

‘Transformer in chief’: The new chief digital officer

The CDO role is changing dramatically. Here are the skills today’s world demands.
September 2015 | byTuck Rickards, Kate Smaje, and Vik Sohoni

In the alphabet soup that is today’s crowded C-suite, few roles attract as much attention as that of the chief digital officer, or CDO. While the position isn’t exactly new, what’s required of the average CDO is. Gone are the days of being responsible for introducing basic digital capabilities and perhaps piloting a handful of initiatives. The CDO is now a “transformer in chief,” charged with coordinating and managing comprehensive changes that address everything from updating how a company works to building out
Do you need a CDO?
Given these demands, it’s not surprising that the number of people in CDO roles doubled from 2013 to 2014 and is expected to double again this year.1 We find that companies bring in a CDO for two primary reasons. The first is when they need to approach the complex root causes that must be dissected, understood, and addressed before any substantive progress on digitization can be made. And the second is when the CEO realizes the organization can’t meet the primary challenge of creating integrated transformation within its current construct (see sidebar, “Do you need a CDO?”).

In fact, the true measure of a CDO’s success is when the role becomes unnecessary: by its very nature, a high-functioning digital company does not need a CDO (however, it may want its former CDO to be the CEO). Of course, the vast majority of organizations are not yet at that point. And while there are numerous actions companies can and should take to help these executives work themselves out of a job—such as providing sufficient resources and active CEO support—this article focuses on five areas CDOs themselves must get right if their organizations are to successfully transition to digital.
1. Make digital integral to the strategy

Digital isn’t merely a thing—it’s a new way of doing things. Many companies are focused on developing a digital strategy when they should instead focus on integrating digital into all aspects of the business, from channels and processes and data to the operating model, incentives, and culture. Our analysis of how companies with a high Digital Quotient (DQ) operate shows that 90 percent of top performers have fully integrated digital initiatives into their strategic-planning process.2

Getting the strategy right requires the CDO to work closely with the CEO, the chief information officer (CIO), business-unit leaders, and the chief financial officer; the CDO also needs to be an active participant in and shaper of the strategy. An important foundation for CDOs to establish credibility and secure a seat at the strategy table is providing detailed analysis of market trends and developments in technology and customer behavior, both inside and outside the sector.