3 November 2015

India and Pakistan: Vulnerable Border

By Anurag Tripathi
Date : 02 Nov , 2015

On October 26, 2015, a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) of the Army and two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) militants were killed in an encounter in Pulwama District of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Meanwhile, as nearly 3000 people migrated from border villages of Samba Sector finding no let up in heavy mortar shelling and firing by Pakistani Rangers.

Today India’s border with Pakistan has become a veritable gateway for terrorism into India. Despite the fencing across the border in Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan has heightened its proxy war against India by ceasefire violation and infiltration of terrorists.

Through infiltration Pakistani militants sneak across the LoC/IB and then establish contact with an Indian counterpart and attempt to merge with the local population. Thereafter they familiarize themselves with the topography of the area, select a suitable target, plan their attack, and subsequently devise strategies on how to get away from the area to avoid capture.

Book Review in E Mail Format. From My Memory Vault : Reflections of a Veteran Soldier

(From My Memory Vault : Reflections of a Veteran Soldier, Lt Gen Baljit Singh (Retd), Alpha edition, 2/19, Ansari Road, Delhi, ISBN 978-81-93142-25-7, Price Rs. 750/-, 204 page)

1. I was posted at HQ Central Command, Lucknow. I came across an article by Lt Gen Baljit Singh on 1962: Face to Face with the PLA available at :http://www.indiandefencereview.com/1962-face-to-face-with-the-pla/. Since it dealt with Barahoti Bowl , the real estate which was always the fulcrum of any discussion in Central Command, I sent the article via e-mail to all the officers of Central Command, as I have been doing in all HQs I served. Army Commanders do read. My Army commander Lt Gen Anil Chait gave me a ring in the intercom and asked me to find out about the author. That is how I came in contact with Lt Gen Baljit Singh. Since the article was about how he took a company of 14 Rajput to establish an Army post at Rim Kim ridge which dominated Bara Hoti Grazing Ground (BGG), I sheepishly asked him, are you from Infantry? Promptly came the answer, Damn it , I am a Gunner. Some of hie papers published in Indian Defence Review can be read at : http://www.indiandefencereview.com/author/ltgenbaljitsingh/
Articles By Lt Gen Baljit Singh

By: Lt Gen Baljit Singh| Issue: Net Edition | Date: 19 Aug , 2015

A non-combatant who witnessed and filmed the first flight to Leh & Battles For Zoji-La and Namka Chhu. “…the fall of Leh will be a strategic blow to India. It has to be...

Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian sub-continent, Islamic State and India

By Shubhda Chaudhary
01 Nov , 2015

The rise and decay of Islamic movements in South Asia have often been neglected in the organic understanding of history of Islam, especially dealing with the historical literature. The history of Islamic movements in South Asia has often been judged by the prism of preconceived notions of the modern Orientalists. Though, an insightful analysis of the history of Islam in South Asia has been carried out in a commendable manner by historians like Moinul Haq, Khaliq Ahmad Nizami, Ishtiaq Hussein Qureshi, Sulaiman Nadvi, Shibli Nu’mani. Though, merely a tip of the ice-berg has been revealed taking into account the intellectual fertility of South Asia. [1]

Statement by the Defence Minister regarding NEFA enquiry, New Delhi Sep 2, 1963

By Lt Col Gurdip Singh Kler
02 Nov , 2015

Appendix ‘N’ (Refer to Page 471)

The Defence Minister Shri Y.B. Chavan, made the following statement in the Lok Sabha:

1. Sir, I wish to inform the House of the results of the enquiry to investigate our reverses in the operations occasioned by the Chinese aggression across our northern borders during the months of October-November 1962.

2. Though the officers appointed to enquire into these reverse were asked to examine the operations with particular reference to the Kameng Division of NEFA, they quite rightly came to the conclusion that the developments in NEFA were closely .co-related to those in Ladakh and their study of NEFA operation had to be carried out in conjuction with developments and operations in the Ladakh sector. Thus, the enquiry made and the conclusions emerging from it are results of study into the entire operation on our northern borders.

Patel: why he died

By Claude Arpi
Date : 31 Oct , 2015

I am posting today a letter from Sardar Patel to Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary-General of the External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations Ministry.

It is dated November 4, 1950, four weeks after the Chinese had entered Eastern Tibet.

This raises a serious question: very little research has been done on the last weeks of Patel’s life.

It is highly regrettable.

One of the problems that all historical documents of this period remains classified in the MEA.

Why should the Modi Government follow a Congress policy is difficult to comprehend.The Sardar passed away on December 15, two days after being ‘shifted’ to Mumbai (because ‘Delhi was too cold’).

What do we know about the last 2 months of Patel’s life?

Practically nothing, except that he opposed Nehru’s policy on Tibet.

His prophetic letter written 3 days after the note to Bajpai (posted below) raises further questions.

A new liberal Canada will push ties with India

By Reeta Tremblay
Date : 31 Oct , 2015

Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, Canada’s liberal party received a substantial majority mandate on Oct 19th to form a new government, replacing the Conservative party, with his promise to be an agent of change. It is both a historical and a surprise victory for Mr. Trudeau whose party just eleven weeks ago was in third position, with major doubts being expressed over Mr. Trudeau’s ability to lead Canada; the slogan used by the conservatives was, “is he ready?” 

Mr. Trudeau’s election manifesto was one that focused on improving the lives of the middle class through deficit budget financing over three years and by raising taxes on higher income groups in order to pay for all the other promises he made (like, infrastructural investment).

Most significantly, the liberals campaigned against Mr. Harper’s vision of Canada that was rather divisive and was based on politics of fear – fear emanating from external security threats (terrorism) and internal challenges to the Canadian culture (wearing of niqab, etc).

Chinese Nationalist Sentiment After the US South China Sea Patrol

By Nhung Bui
November 02, 2015

On October 27, the Obama administration ordered the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen to patrol the area near China’s man-made islands and sail within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef. The Lassen was followed by a Chinese guided-missile destroyer and a naval patrol ship. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a news conference on the same day that the “illegal” action of the Lassen threatened China’s sovereignty and that China will not “swallow silently any damage or threat to its sovereign rights and legitimate security interests.”

This commentary will focus on the effect of the Lassen patrol on Chinese nationalist sentiment. How did Chinese commentators and the public regard the incident? Could nationalist sentiment influence China’s foreign policies or constrain leaders? Would the Chinese leadership take advantage of this tide of anti-U.S. sentiment to make bolder statements about China’s willingness to defend its “sovereignty” in the South China Sea?

Chinese Air and Naval Forces Have Conducted Live Fire Exercises in South China Sea

Chun Han Wong
November 2, 2015

China Conducted Military Drills in Past Week 

BEIJING—China’s military conducted aerial and maritime drills this past week, its official news portal said, just days after a U.S. warship sailed through disputed waters in the South China Sea in a direct challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims.

Reports on the exercises, which included live firing, didn’t specify where they took place but said they involved aircraft and warships from China’s southern Guangzhou Military Region and the South Sea Fleet, whose primary area of responsibility is the South China Sea. They featured simulations of actual wartime conditions and were aimed at improving combat readiness, according to the reports published on 81.cn, the People’s Liberation Army’s official web portal.

The reports didn’t refer to the Oct. 27 patrol conducted by a U.S. Navy destroyer close to Chinese-built islets in the South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation in the area, the subject of competing territorial claims between China and several Southeast Asian countries.

Beijing responded angrily to the patrol, accusing Washington of acting provocatively and threatening Chinese sovereignty in the region. Pentagon officials have said they expect to conduct as many as two so-called freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea each quarter, including one inside the Spratly island chain. The Defense Department also is encouraging other nations to conduct similar operations on their own.


NOVEMBER 2, 2015

Jinping, Kerching” read one London newspaper the week of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United Kingdom. There is no doubt about it; Xi came with deep pockets and an open checkbook on his recent trip. Unlike his state visit to the United States in September, the splendor of his visit to London and the Midlands focused less upon issues of good governance and the South China Sea. Instead, it was the wealth of bilateral business agreements — “billions of pounds” according to the press release from Prime Minister David Cameron’s office — that stole the show.

Analysts and pundits have been quick to conclude that Britain is selling out to the Chinese. Tom Wright of the Brookings Institution argued that the Conservative Party is sending a message “that commerce and economic cooperation is the only metric that will guide the UK’s policy towards China.” The British Foreign Office rejected such suggestions, arguing that the administration is “committed to engaging with China on human rights.” One must wonder, however, if and in what capacity strengthened trade and economic ties can lead to open, productive discussions on human rights or other issues at the core of China’s ties to the West.

3 Chinese Weapons of War America Should Fear in the South China Sea

October 31, 2015

As the United States continues to reassert its right to freely navigate the seas in the Western Pacific, the specter of a potential confrontation with China looms in the background.

While the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen passed within twelve nautical miles of a Chinese man-made island in the South China Sea without incident, in the future there is always a possibility that such a passage might not end quite so peacefully. The Chinese strongly protested Lassen’s passage, even though artificial islands are not granted territorial status under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Moreover, Beijing has said it will take "all necessary" measures to prevent similar future U.S. Navy operations.

But what could China do? If there is a confrontation—these are three Chinese weapons that could play a role.

Sea Mines:

How Will China Respond In the South China Sea? Ask the Soviet Union

November 2, 2015

The “sail by” of USS Lassen within the 12 nautical mile claim line of the new Chinese facilities on Subi reef in the South China Sea occurred without major incident last week. Despite some fiery Chinese rhetoric, war has not broken outand that is a profoundly good thing. Actually, nothing much has changed at all, so it seems. The tense stalemate persists as before. China will continue to build up its new “bases” in and among the Spratly islets. The U.S. will continue to patrol regularly and exercise with its alliance partners. Perhaps, as Xi Jinping said not so long ago, the Pacific Ocean really is big enough to accommodate the interests of both China and the U.S.?

There has been plenty of grousing in the last few months on the right and within U.S. national security circles about how excessive “kibitzing” and hand-wringing preceded the Lassen’s recent patrol. “Too little, too late” will be the inevitable critique of the Obama Administration. But perhaps the Administration that gave U.S. foreign policy the underappreciated legacy of “Don’t do stupid stuff” – an approach much criticized in the Syrian context – could be forgiven for exercising due caution when it comes to escalating a conflict with another nuclear power in that power’s backyard. Perhaps Obama’s national security advisors understand that what might begin as cutters “blasting away” with water cannons could rapidly transition to anti-ship cruise missiles sinking warships, to missile and air attacks on bases, and even to a nuclear exchange targeting cities. That escalation chain could take hours not days and would certainly constitute “stupid stuff” if such a military conflict was fought over “rocks and reefs.”

An American Hostage in Iran—Again

OCTOBER 30, 2015

The reports of another hostage will almost certainly complicate Iran’s recent overtures to the West, discourage foreign business, and undermine further 

Next Wednesday, November 4th, is the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, which led to a mass hostage crisis that dragged on for four hundred and forty-four days. Thirty-six years later, the Iranians are still at it. For more than two weeks, U.S. media, including The New Yorker, have been withholding information—at the request of the family—about yet another American seized in Tehran. The embargo was broken late Thursday with published reports that Iranian security had detained Siamak Namazi, an American businessman of Iranian descent who was once tapped as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Iran Starts Shutting Down Its Nuclear Centrifuges

November 2, 2015

Iran Starts Taking Nuclear Centrifuges Offline

DUBAI — Iran has begun decommissioning uranium enrichment centrifuges under the terms of the nuclear deal struck with six world powers in July, Tehran’s nuclear chief was quoted as saying on Monday during a visit to Tokyo.

“We have started the preliminary work” on implementing the agreement, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by Japan’s Kyodo news agency, adding that the measures include reducing the number of active centrifuge machines.

Under the July 14 agreement, Iran is to curb its nuclear program under United Nations supervision to ensure it cannot be used to make a nuclear weapon, in exchange for the removal of sanctions that have isolated Tehran and hobbled its economy.

In a separate development that appeared to confirm that implementation work had started, 20 hardline members of Iran’s parliament wrote to President Hassan Rouhani to complain about dismantling centrifuges in two enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

Russia’s Military Operations In Syria – Analysis

By Mohammad Farhadi*
NOVEMBER 1, 2015

Following empowerment of the proponents of “Eurasianism” in Russia, the geopolitics-based approach has gained increasing importance. The importance attached to geopolitics-based approach in Russia’s foreign policy has led to rising security sensitivity, pragmatism, and expansion of Russia’s relations with countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Caucasus. This approach has received increasing attention from leaders in Moscow, especially after revelations about deployment of the United States’ missile defense system in Eastern Europe and close to Russia’s borders and also after escalation of tensions between Russia, on the one hand, and NATO and the United States, on the other.

According to this approach, Russia has formulated its military strategy until 2020 in which it has emphasized expansion of its military activities within framework of this strategy. Of course, this does not mean that Russia seeks to wage war in the region. Despite its heightened criticism of the promotion of Western democracy model in this region, Russia welcomes the possibility of cooperation in European and American economic plans. The war on terror can be considered as a security challenge in the region, which has been used by Washington as an excuse for presence in the Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus.

Australia Facing Heavy Criticism For Nuclear Agreement With India – Analysis

By Neena Bhandari*
NOVEMBER 1, 2015

Though the Australian Parliament has not yet ratified the Australia-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement signed in 2014, civil society, environment and disarmament advocates caution that sale of uranium to India would fuel a nuclear arms race in the region and undermine Australia’s strong credentials as an exponent of nuclear safeguards policies.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Australia has expressed grave concerns regarding the weak safeguards in the Agreement, the poor safety record at Indian nuclear facilities, and the implications of the Agreement for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. This is the first time the Australian Government would be selling uranium to a country that is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Obama's move in Syria reignites war powers debate

By Jordain Carney
October 30, 2015

President Obama's decision to send U.S. troops into Syria is reigniting the debate in Congress over long-stalled legislation authorizing the war. 

The administration announced Friday that it would send approximately 50 special operations troops into Syria in an advisory role, putting U.S. boots on the ground in the country for the first time since the country's civil war began.

Democrats pounced on the decision, suggesting that it underscores the need for Congress to take up and pass an authorization for use of force (AUMF), which could also place boundaries on military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

"Regardless of my views, the War Powers Resolution requires Congress to debate and authorize the escalation of U.S. military involvement in Syria," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said, calling the administration's decision to send troops into the country a "mistake." 

Russia Confirms Jet Broke Up in Mid-Air; Did 2001 Accident Doom It?


The airplane fell apart before crashing, evidently near the tail. That could mean a ‘tail strike’ from 14 years ago was never truly fixed.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated throughout.

The head of Russia’s aviation accident investigation body has confirmed that the Russian Airbus A321 that crashed in the Sinai on Saturday broke up in mid-air. Victor Sorochenko said that the wreckage was spread over an area of eight square miles – not concentrated in one debris field.

This would be consistent with a severe and very sudden structural failure that resulted in the airplane literally falling out of the sky from its cruise altitude of 31,000 feet. (An Egyptian statement that the pilot had reported a technical problem and asked for a diversion to the nearest airport was later withdrawn.) 

The Airbus A321 was 18 years old, and had made 21,000 flights, a relatively low number when compared with the much higher daily frequency of flights made on budget airlines. With a modern airplane like this and regular maintenance its age is not in itself a cause for concern. 

A Solution For Syria and the Kurds That Turkey and the U.S. Can Agree On

November 2, 2015

How to reconcile the approaches of Turkey and the United States over Syria? Both countries seek to depose President Assad while defeating ISIL, and also while reducing the terrible humanitarian plight of the Syrian people which has, among other effects, sent nearly two million refugees onto Turkish soil. But Ankara, wary of its own Kurdish population and particularly the militant PKK, which espouses violence in the pursuit of potential independence, is extremely reluctant to see Syrian Kurds armed and otherwise assisted by Washington. Alas, the Syrian Kurds, mostly aligned with the PKK, appear to be the only element of the so-called moderate opposition gaining any real traction, or showing any real military competence, within Syria. To lose the ability to work closely with them may, among other things, call into serious doubt Washington’s aspirations to help Syrian moderates mount a campaign against Raqqa, the capital of the region now controlled by ISIL. What a mess.

Killers in the Sky: The 5 Most Lethal Combat Aircraft Going to War in Syria

October 30, 2015

The air war over Syria has seen the combat debut of some of the most advanced warplanes from around the world. No less than three new fighter types from the United States and Russia have dropped weapons in anger for the first time. But those new jets are accompanied by their older stablemates, which are often the mainstays of the war on both sides.

Indeed, the bulk of both jets that were developed during the 1970s are flying most of the sorties in both the Russian and American air campaigns. But while tried and true Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoots, Su-24 Fencer, Lockheed Martin F-16 and Fairchild Republic A-10s are doing most of the work, this article will focus on the most advanced jets in the theatre.

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor:

7 Steps to an Effective U.S. Peace Policy

November 2, 2015

A fundamental change is required in the U.S. approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In a region where everything else is falling apart, the so-called peace process has become emblematic of failure—failure by Israelis, Palestinians and Americans to assess correctly the current situation and to arrive at a viable, alternative approach. The old pathways simply will not lead to success.

American policy continues to rest on three pillars: First, that a two-state solution can be achieved through direct negotiations, with minimal substantive input from outside parties. Second, that the political cost at home will be too high and the political repercussions in Israel will be too severe to contemplate a more vigorous effort to curb bad behaviors, such as settlements. And third, that the Palestinians share more than half the blame for the failure of past negotiating efforts, in view of their rejectionist stances at Camp David II and in the Annapolis process, and in light of their repeated resort to violence and terrorism.

Preparing For The Cyber Battleground Of The Future – Analysis

By 2nd Lt Chris Babcock, USAF*
NOVEMBER 2, 2015

For space and cyber Airmen, tomorrow’s fight will be determined largely by the concept of cyberspace dependency. That term, as defined by the author, is the degree to which a military capability relies on supremacy over a portion of the cyberspace domain in order to cause or carry out its effects.1 Cyber dependency is rapidly growing due to the cyberspace domain’s exponential nature, the trajectory of market forces in the civilian world, and the strategic integration by the military of computer technology in the land, maritime, and air domains.2

Unlike employment in the three traditional war-fighting domains, the present employment of capabilities in the space domain cannot be achieved without cyberspace.3 The recognition of this unique relationship between space and cyberspace has profound implications for recruitment; initial, intermediate, and advanced training; and development in the space and cyber career fields. A transition from the current force-development system towards one that acknowledges the unique relationship between space and cyberspace will have the additional benefit of informing the greater operational community as war fighters in the land, maritime, and air domains continue to become increasingly dependent upon cyberspace and space. This article discusses the implications of cyber dependency and proposes six recommendations to ensure that from recruitment to advanced training, space and cyber Airmen are prepared to excel in their interconnected domains.
Space Cyber Dependency

The Campaign for a High and Frustrating Office

November 1, 2015

When Winston Churchill made his remark about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried, the positive side of what he was saying about democracy had as background the Westminster system with which he was familiar and that has served Britain fairly well. As we contrast that system with the current U.S. presidential campaign, the latter exhibits some characteristics that might have led Churchill to conclude that some of those other forms of government could stack up fairly well. One specific contrast is presented by the fact that the two leading contenders for the presidential nomination of one of the two major U.S. political parties, along with a third candidate who has broken into the top tier of contenders in that same party, have absolutely zero experience in public service. Such a situation would not arise in Britain, where prime ministers typically arrive at the top after a political apprenticeship that has included backbench time, responsibilities as a junior minister, and service as a senior minister or shadow minister. (The recent selection of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party is an aberration, although even he has been a member of parliament for three decades. Corbyn will never become prime minister, and British commentators almost unanimously predict that his party leadership will not last long.)

Why the U.S.-China Cyber Spying Ban Will Inevitably Fail

November 1, 2015

On a cool fall day in late September, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping stood together in the White House Rose Garden and pledged “that neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property (IP), including trade secrets, or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantage to companies or commercial sectors.” Obama added that the U.S. government would be watching closely to ensure that “words are followed by action.” In a seemingly strong sign of goodwill, the Chinese government had prior to the announcement already quietly arrested a number of hackers, identified as having stolen commercial secrets from American corporations.

While the Obama-Xi meetings did lead to some notable successes, such as the Chinese purchase of 300 Boeing airplanes, the agreement on cyberespionage is not one of them. Barely a day had passed since the announcement when CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity service provider, accused “Chinese government-affiliated actors,” of attempting to hack into their client’s networks. In a blog post, CrowdStrike noted that the intrusions were against technology and pharmaceutical sectors, which implied they were conducted with the goal of stealing IP and trade secrets.

The Strange Silence Surrounding an Indian Military Exercise

By Ali Ahmed
November 02, 2015

In late September, India’s media reported on a military exercise to be undertaken by one of the country’s three “strike” corps, 21 Corps. Since then, Indian military watchers have encountered only silence on the exercise. This is uncharacteristic of India, on two counts.

One, India has always undertaken such exercises with a flurry of publicity, even if the military details are necessarily kept under wraps. There is sense in publicity in that it reassures the public of a vigilant military; it is good for the government’s image as “strong on defense”; and it sends a deterrence message in the form of military readiness to India’s neighbor, Pakistan. Yet this autumn’s round of exercises is an interesting shift in India’s information strategy.

The silence could well be for a mundane reason: During October the formation moved into an exercise location in the desert sector and is undertaking preliminary training. The exercise proper could build up to its climax in the near future with the relevant publicity and the attendance of high-level officials such as the defense minister and Delhi-based military brass.


NOVEMBER 2, 2015

Why would the United States send a $13-billion, 90,000-ton hulking symbol of military might with nearly 5,000 sailors aboard to a fight in which its survivability was, at best, questionable? Conventional wisdom suggests we wouldn’t, but it may be time to reevaluate that assumption.

The Hudson Institute recently published an exhaustive study entitled Sharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict, and it has created something of a stir within the national security world. Seth Cropsey, Bryan McGrath, and Timothy Walton challenge widely held notions about the effectiveness of the carrier strike group (CSG) and its survivability in an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environment. On the surface, their arguments seem to ignore the “long reach” threats associated with the A2/AD concept. However, through detailed analysis and their own wargaming, the authors make a compelling argument that a CSG (or multiple CSGs) will be an essential guarantor of success in hypothetical high-end fights against peer and near-peer adversaries. Indeed, they insist that the CSG is thebest option for just such a fight.

A Lot of What We Think We Know About World War II Is Wrong

October 31, 2015 

The Second World War remains an enduringly fascinating subject, but despite the large number of films, documentaries, books and even comics on the subject, our understanding of this catastrophic conflict, even seven decades on, remains heavily dependent on conventional wisdom, propaganda and an interpretation skewed by the information available. In my new book The War in the West: Germany Ascendant 1939-1941, first in a three-volume history, I am challenging a number of long-held assumptions about the war, many of which are based on truth by common knowledge, rather than through detailed and painstaking research.

My Damascene moment came some years ago when I was being given a tour of the Small Arms Unit at the British Staff College at Shrivenham. I was glancing at a German MG42, known as a “Spandau” by the Allies. “Of course, that was the best machine gun of the war,’ I commented, relaying what I’d read in many books.

Getting the B-3 Off the Ground

Oct. 30, 2015 
Captain Daniel Welch is an Air Force Academy grad who flies the B-52 bomber, which dates from the Truman years. His dad, Don Welch, was a B-52 aviator in the 1980s. Before that, his grandfather Don Sprague flew the B-52 in combat missions over Vietnam.

This noble Welch family tradition is a tribute to the strategic importance and staying power of the B-52. But it’s also a reminder that America’s bombers—which include the B-1 and B-2—are getting old and tired.

This week the Air Force took a big step toward bringing its fleet into the modern era by signing a contract with Northrop Grumman to build 80 to 100 long-range strike bombers over the next decade. Over the life of the project, the contract could end up being worth $80 billion. So it’s important to get this right.

U.S. Army tests swarms of drones in major exercise

By Martyn Williams
Oct 30, 2015
Source Link

The U.S. Army has for the first time tested swarms of consumer drones during a major military training exercise and determined the low-cost technology is at a stage where it could be used offensively.

Off-the-shelf drones have brought what was previously complex and expensive technology into the reach of consumers, and the military was curious to see how much of a threat that might pose. So it brought consumer quadcopters and octocopters to the Network Integration Evaluation war games that concluded earlier this month at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and Fort Bliss, Texas.

During the exercise, used by the Army to help evaluate new technology, the drones were deployed as a swarm to simulate a threat. Later, the Army expanded the trials to discover whether it might be able to make use of the same technology.

The U.S. Navy Packs More Firepower into Shrinking Submarine Force

David Axe
November 1, 2015
Source Link

The U.S. Navy’s latest shipbuilding plan underscores what service leaders and lawmakers have long known — the Navy is going to have too few attack submarines. To compensate, the sailing branch wants to pack more firepower into the subs it will have.

The Navy’s goal is to maintain at least 48 attack subs as part of a roughly 300-ship fleet. But the 2016 edition of the Navy’s shipbuilding plan, published in April, shows the total number of Los Angeles-, Seawolf– and Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack subs declining from 54 in 2015 to a low of 41 in 2029.

“The decline is the result of the retirement … of Los Angeles-class attack submarines,” Eric Labs, an analyst with the official Congressional Budget Office, wrote in an October report. “Those ships are reaching the end of their 33-year service life, having generally been built at a rate of three or four per year during the 1970s and 1980s. The Navy would replace those submarines with Virginia-class attack submarines and their successors, at a rate of one or two per year.”

There’s little chance of the Navy boosting production of new submarines, which cost more than $2.5 billion apiece. Even the current shipbuilding plan is arguably too expensive. “If the Navy received the same amount of funding (in constant dollars) for new-ship construction in each of the next 30 years that it has received, on average, over the past three decades, the service would not be able to afford its 2016 plan,” Labs wrote.

An Opening on North Korea?

November 2, 2015

In the last few months, shuttle diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program has intensified. This weekend, diplomats from South Korea, Japan and China are likely to discuss the issue in Seoul. Last week’s White House summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hye produced strong affirmations of solidarity on the nuclear issue. Will it be enough?

Until recently, neither administration has had much success in confronting the North Korean threat. In fact, the situation has gradually deteriorated. As North Korea approaches the critical threshold where it could deliver a nuclear warhead by missile, the crises it provokes every few years will become more and more treacherous. The military crisis that dominated the peninsula for the month of August—in which the two Koreas faced off over the injury of two South Korean soldiers by landmines—was the latest in this trend. In the last year of the Obama administration, the allies must look for ways to keep from passing this policy malaise to the next U.S. president.