17 November 2015

New Jihadi Threats to India: Changing Dynamics of Proxy War

By Maj Gen Afsir Karim
Issue: Courtesy: Aakrosh | Date : 16 Nov , 2015

The advent of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Af-Pak has added a new, dangerous threat to Kashmir and contiguous areas. The continuous aggression witnessed at the LOC and daring attacks in J&K and Punjab by Pakistani terrorist groups show a new, aggressive posture of Pakistan. In future, war-hardened elements of the ISIL are likely to join forces with Pakistani terrorist groups to enlarge the war in Kashmir. A new face of local subversive groups, which appear well armed and highly motivated, is being presented to the public in Kashmir through videos and social media channels with a view to motivate the youth to take up arms against the government.

There are indications that a renewed and more vigorous sub-conventional assault by Pakistan in collaboration with ISIL irregulars may commence. India must anticipate the nature of the war that it may face in the near future.

Soldiers: Waste of highly skilled national asset

More than 80 percent soldiers retire at the age of 36/37 years and their yearly number is almost fifty thousand. They do not even get up to the midway point of their pay band, miss out on increments, consequently get pension based on the point in the pay band they are retired, missing out 24/23 years of higher pay, were they, like all civilian government employees, to serve upto the age of 6o years. Consequently they suffer multiple disadvantages. Retired too early, thus missing out on increments and pay for the remaining years ( upto 60 years age ) and given inadequate pension. Loose out on the largesse of atleast two subsequent Central Pay Commissions. Though of late, small monetary relief in their pension has been granted, it does not compensate for the monetary loss due to early retirement etc. After taking the best years of a soldier’s life, we throw him out to fend for himself in the harsh realities of life in the mean street: to find a job at midlife.

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan

By Col Jaibans Singh
16 Nov , 2015

“And that is my definition of democracy, the right to be in a minority and not be suppressed.” —Lee Harvey Oswald

After more than six decades of independence, there are a million plus citizens of India who are languishing under foreign occupation, being suppressed, humiliated and exploited by mercenary forces for economic gains. This statement may come across as ludicrous to all those who are unaware about the state of affairs in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan regions of J&K. These areas were a part of the princely state of J&K at the time when the erstwhile Maharaja of J&K signed the instrument of accession. Due to some misplaced ideals of the then Indian leadership, the region was not liberated by the Indian forces during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947-48. Intervention by the UN led to a ceasefire and a huge mass of land was forcibly occupied by Pakistan.

Ever since, this area has been ruled by Islamabad despite the fact that it is not constitutionally integrated with Pakistan and its people do not have representation in the National Legislature. Having received this bonanza without effort Pakistan set about misusing it as a tool to further its political, economic and strategic objectives; as time passed the covetous Punjabis of Pakistan realised the immense economic potential of the region and let loose massive exploitation to gain control of all assets. Governments and political dispensations in Pakistan changed over time but the policy towards this unfortunate region remained unchanged.

Dhanush 155mm Artillery Gun: A “Make in India” Marvel

By Danvir Singh
15 Nov , 2015

Dhanush as an artillery system has proved to be one of the best amongst its class. A 45 Calibre towed gun system capable of targeting at long ranges incorporating autonomous laying features and having one of the most sophisticated suites of electronic and computing systems in the world.

…the success of 155mm/ 42 Cal Dhanush under trial is of paramount importance for the futuristic ATAGS programme.

A leading Indian daily “The Times of India” quoted the defence minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar when he addressed the parliamentary consultative committee on defence on April 21, that the 155mm/45-calibre Dhanush howitzers had “successfully met all technical parameters” during the winter and summer trials at Sikkim and Pokhran. He also stated that Dhanush incorporates “many improved features” over the Army’s existing artillery guns.

Aftermath of the 1962 War

India’s humiliating defeat was a game changer in three significant ways.

1. It revealed the serious flaws in Nehru’s approach to China and defence, and it revealed the institutional defects in decision-making.

2. It revealed that China had acted out its view of its place in Asia and in the Himalayan sphere, and irrespective of the wisdom of her decision to use war to punish India for her ‘provocations’, the 1962 war revealed China’s strategic calculus in relation to India as well as other South Asian states. It forced India to respond because the war created a clear identification in the Indian public mind that China was hostile to India and Nehru’s policy had failed. Although China claimed victory in 1962, India did not admit defeat other than a loss in a battle, and consequently the die for a prolonged strategic interaction between India and China was cast.

KPS Gill: Khalistan may be an utter delusion, but it remains a lucrative cash cow

More than a ban on 'sardar jokes' what we need is protest against those who denigrate the community within the religious leadership and have made a joke and a business out of the Sikh faith.

The lunatic fringe of Sikh extremists organised a gathering on November 10, which they proclaimed as a "Sarbat Khalsa" deliberative community assembly, where a convicted and jailed murderer and terrorist has purportedly been appointed as the jathedar of the highest seat of temporal authority in the Sikh faith, the Akal Takth. Other extremists have been assigned as jathedars of the other important shrines, the Takht Kesgarh Sahib and Takht Damdama Sahib.

This gathering, organised by prominent Khalistani advocates and sympathisers, reportedly included a significant number of non-resident Indian Sikhs. Khalistani slogans were raised, and Bhindranwale portraits displayed, at the gathering. Inevitably, the tamasha attracted substantial media attention and raised apprehensions in some quarters that a Khalistani revival was imminent.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Posturing Doesn’t Really Make Sense

13 Nov, 2015

. . . because if at all deterrence stability exists between India and Pakistan, why would the latter want to disturb it?

A cursory scanning of newspaper editorials, articles and TV talk shows will immediately lend credence to the fact that there is a peculiar smugness and delusion that exists within Pakistan’s strategic establishment vis-a-vis its “deterrence stability” status with India. It is ingrained in the collective psyche of the country’s military and civilian leadership that it has achieved a parity with India in terms of its nuclear weapons and deterrence posture. One of the key reasons for this line of thought is Pakistan’s belief that its nuclear program/assets is the direct answer to India having developed the “ultimate weapon” and in its never-ending quest for parity with the latter, it has succeeded in developing what it calls the “Islamic Bomb”.
Deterrence Stability – Pakistan’s view

Pakistan believes that the enormous disparity between itself and India in virtually every sphere, particularly military, has been effectively neutralized by it through the procurement, development, and possession of nuclear devices with credible delivery mechanisms/platforms and more importantly by a politico-military posture which declares that it would use them in actual war if the need arises. This is further accentuated by the fact that there remains a considerable amount of ambivalence on the Pakistani side in terms of the so-called nuclear “red-lines” beyond which it will go ahead and put the weapons to use. This posture has had its effects on the Indian strategic thought vis-a-vis Pakistan. In the short-term, the idea of “deterrence stability” between Pakistan and India has worked, or so do the Pakistanis believe. However, it is also important to assess this aspect in a long-term perspective.

As tensions play out at home, powerful Pakistani general heads to U.S. for talks

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik

Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif attends the change of command ceremony …

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Days before Pakistan's powerful army chief was due to visit Washington for talks on regional stability and fighting militancy, General Raheel Sharif engaged in thinly veiled criticism of the nuclear-armed country's civilian government.

A terse statement from the army's PR wing underlined the tension between Pakistan's military and its civilian government, just as the United States prepares to receive Sharif weeks after the prime minister held talks there.

After top generals met to review a major crackdown on extremists, the Pakistani military said it would be "undermined" if the government did not take "matching governance initiatives".

China and India's alarming debt story

November 12, 2015 

The two nations share a problem of corporate debt gone bad that is so large and so opaque that it is difficult to gauge how bad things are, notes Rahul Jacob.

Do China and India have anything in common besides being the only countries with a population in excess of 1 billion?

China may be several decades ahead economically, but on the evidence of the past few weeks, the two nations share a problem of corporate debt gone bad that is so large and so opaque that it is difficult to gauge how bad things are.

A new analysis on China calculates off-balance sheet credit commitments and commercial banks' unconsolidated debt to be almost 50 per cent larger than hitherto reported.

China is the most financially leveraged country in Asia with a debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio of about 340 per cent, not 285 per cent of GDP as earlier reported.

Bend it like Beijing

November 10, 2015

China's increasing willingness to dam up the Brahmaputra in Tibet sparks fears of India losing out in the race for harnessing hydropower.

The Zangmu hydropower station in Gyaca county in Lhoka, Tibet. Photo: Getty images

On October 13, China operationalised its first major dam on the Brahmaputra (known as Yarlung Zangbo in China and Siang in Arunachal Pradesh), a 510-MW hydropower project at Zangmu, 140 km southeast of Lhasa on the river's middle reaches. The project, triggering concern in India about the impact on downstream flows, could, however, be just the beginning of a Chinese plan to build a series of dams to tap the river's fierce waters in Tibet for hydropower.

Zhang Boting, the deputy secretary general of the Chinese Society of Hydropower Engineers, an influential pro-hydropower advisory group, believes the Brahmaputra is the country's last great energy hope. "This river alone," says Zhang, "has the power for two Three Gorges dams," referring to the 22.5-GW mega-dam that China built on the Yangtze river, and is the world's largest.

Tibet’s plea: fix the roof of the world before it’s too late Lobsang Sangay

11 November 2015

My beautiful country is suffering the effects of climate change. To avoid catastrophe, leaders need to act urgently at the UN Paris conference 

The roof of the world. That is what Tibet has long been known as. The phrase conjures up images of summits, with their mountain peaks, glaciers, permafrost and the nomads who live on the land.

But a roof is also symbolic of a home, and is the structure that protects those who live there. And, as we all know, if the roof is structurally compromised, then so is the home.

Tibet’s glaciers are melting, and the world needs to notice. Its permafrost is degrading, and the world needs to care. Tibet is suffering from massive deforestation and damming projects, and the world needs to act.

Why now? Because as world leaders gather in Paris this December for the United Nations COP 21 meetings on climate change, Tibet needs to be on the climate change agenda.

Quest for food security challenges and policies

By Amrita Jash
November 13, 2015

Darwinism believes in the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and thereby, ‘food’ is the essence of the survival of mankind. The lack of availability of food to the rising world population has made ‘food’ a global security concern. In this context, for China, the challenge seems to be grave in terms of meeting the food demands of its rapidly increasing population amidst the gradual decline in its agricultural self-sufficiency with its increasing economic development. The primary challenge for Chinese Government is that of ‘how China can make food a secure commodity’, and so, the top policy priority for the current Chinese Government is that of maintaining food security. China’s policy of ‘Self-Sufficiency’ is thereby, faced with the threat of dependency. In this context, the present article introduces the problem of food security in China based on the available data. It examines the causal factors and analyses China’s concerns and the policies to solve the food predicament.

Will Paris 13/11 make France rethink its foreign policy?

Young people got killed in the name of France’s involvement against ISIS. Young people are also being recruited into jihad by extremists seen to be financed by one of France’s partners.

If there is one thing that terrorists do well, it is symbolism. In 2001, the World Trade Center attacks challenged the American domination. Seven years later, Mumbai was targeted because it stood for a certain inclusive and cosmopolitan vision of India. The Taj was the jewel in this crown. Now, seven years later, Paris was hit for the second time. In January, the editorial team of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was decimated because it embodied freedom of speech and resistance to all religious extremists and because of France’s anti-ISIS foreign policy in Syria.

But why exactly did a concert hall, a couple of cafés and the Stade de France, a very large multi sport stadium, get attacked ? What do they have in common, besides being in or on the outskirts of the capital of a country that is bombing the Islamic State?

The Parisian way of life

Too Weak, Too Strong Patrick Cockburn on the state of the Syrian war

The military balance of power in Syria and Iraq is changing. The Russian air strikes that have been taking place since the end of September are strengthening and raising the morale of the Syrian army, which earlier in the year looked fought out and was on the retreat. With the support of Russian airpower, the army is now on the offensive in and around Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, and is seeking to regain lost territory in Idlib province. Syrian commanders on the ground are reportedly relaying the co-ordinates of between 400 and 800 targets to the Russian air force every day, though only a small proportion of them come under immediate attack. The chances of Bashar al-Assad’s government falling – though always more remote than many suggested – are disappearing. Not that this means he is going to win.

The drama of Russian military action, while provoking a wave of Cold War rhetoric from Western leaders and the media, has taken attention away from an equally significant development in the war in Syria and Iraq. This has been the failure over the last year of the US air campaign – which began in Iraq in August 2014 before being extended to Syria – to weaken Islamic State and other al-Qaida-type groups. By October the US-led coalition had carried out 7323 air strikes, the great majority of them by the US air force, which made 3231 strikes in Iraq and 2487 in Syria. But the campaign has demonstrably failed to contain IS, which in May captured Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria. There have been far fewer attacks against the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the extreme Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, which between them dominate the insurgency in northern Syria. The US failure is political as much as military: it needs partners on the ground who are fighting IS, but its choice is limited because those actually engaged in combat with the Sunni jihadis are largely Shia – Iran itself, the Syrian army, Hizbullah, the Shia militias in Iraq – and the US can’t offer them full military co-operation because that would alienate the Sunni states, the bedrock of America’s power in the region. As a result the US can only use its air force in support of the Kurds.

The Mystery of ISIS

by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan 
AUGUST 13, 2015

The author has wide experience in the Middle East and was formerly an official of a NATO country. We respect the writer’s reasons for anonymity. 
—The Editors 

A still from a video released by ISIS on April 19, which appears to show the execution of Ethiopian Christians by members of Wilayat Barqa, an affiliate of ISIS in eastern Libya

How She Wants to Modify Muslims

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali bluntly declares her intention in the introduction to her new book: “To make many people—not only Muslims but also Western apologists for Islam—uncomfortable.” Discomfort, alas, comes easily when the subject, as in the Somali-born author’s three previous books, happens to be the sorry state of Islam. It takes little effort to raise alarm when Muslim terrorists terrify so effectively, and when scarcely a day now passes without some horror committed in the name of their faith. Bombs and hijackings are passé; today’s jihadists prefer studio-quality, slow-motion bloodletting, or atavistic barbarities such as rape, idol-smashing, mass beheading, and the carting off of virgin sex slaves. 

The opening device of Heretic underlines just how conditioned we have become to such depravities. Hirsi Ali presents a news flash describing a murderous terror attack, but strips it of such details as time and place and number of victims, leaving only the clues that the killers wore black and shouted “Allahu Akbar!” It takes little imagination to fill in the blanks. It is all too familiar, too believable: what she describes could happen in the office of a satirical magazine in Paris, or a boys’ school in Peshawar, or a village in northern Nigeria. 

Kerry’s counterproductive Syria strategy (with addendum)

Michael E. O'Hanlon 
November 14, 2015 

Editors' Note: In the wake of the tragic attacks in Paris, Mike O'Hanlon provided an addendum to this post on November 14.

First, it is important to express my deep sadness and sympathy for the French people, sentiments that I am sure virtually all Americans share at this devastating moment. The French are one of the great multicultural, multiracial, and multi-confessional nations on Earth, and they will find their way through this unspeakable abomination. In the words of a young French friend of mine who wrote me early this morning, "we have got to stay strong, and not let ourselves be scared." Amen.

Second, it is time to stop pretending that the threat in Syria, and now Iraq and beyond as well, is tolerable, or one that we do best to minimize our involvement in. Our current strategy in Syria in particular is an abject failure and is woefully inadequate to the task at hand. The foreign fighter problem is a major threat to Western societies as well as regional societies. Earlier arguments by some that it was not so severe in magnitude have to my mind been disproven definitively by this tragedy, as well as by recent attacks in Turkey, Lebanon, and the Sinai. Of course, the Islamic State (or ISIS) is a huge threat to the peoples it abuses within its area of control as well—as we are learning again, most recently, from reports from liberated Sinjar in Iraq, where Kurdish and Yazidi forces have thankfully just freed a small city from ISIS control. 

Counterinsurgency and Development in FATA: Lessons from US Experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan

By: Hijab Shah, Columnist
Nov 12, 2015 

The Pakistani armed forces claim to have entered the decisive phase in their counterinsurgency operations against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).[1] If Operation Zarb-e-Azb is indeed as close to success as the military says, a window of opportunity has opened for the Pakistani government to plan for post-conflict stabilization in the restive region; as the military phase of counterinsurgency draws down, the government will have the opportunity step in and establish its legitimacy and authority in the tribal areas by means of a development strategy.

A robust plan to develop the infrastructure and augment the economy of the tribal areas could dramatically improve the quality of life of the local population, thus increasing satisfaction with the government, and augmenting its legitimacy and authority. How Islamabad decides to execute the plan, however, is critical to the success of the venture in FATA. Lessons from the US experience in Iraq and Afghanistan could be instructive for the Pakistani government in this regard; understanding the mistakes replicating the successes of the United States over the past decade will help the Pakistani government prepare more intelligently and resourcefully for post-military operation development in FATA.

How to use refugees as geopolitical weapons, brutal but effective

Summary: Today we have another in this series about migrations and their destabilizing effects, with excerpts from the insight works by Kelly M. Greenhill (Assoc Prof of political science, Tufts U). She describes the dynamics of past migrations, and how flows of people can become a powerful weapon.

“If we acknowledge that the new principles of war are no longer “using armed force to compel the enemy to submit to one’s will,” but rather are “using all means, including armed force or non-armed force, military and non-military, and lethal and non-lethal means to compel the enemy to accept one’s interests.”

— From the preface to Unrestricted Warfare (1999) by Qiao Liang (乔良) and Wang Xiangsui (王湘穗), Colonels in the air force of the People’s Liberation Army.

The appearance of so many new forms of conflict (aka 4th generation war) since WWII has produced many surprises. Perhaps none as strange as the mass movements of people, deliberate and inadvertent, spreading the contagion of disorder — the hatreds, enthusiasms, and chaos from unstable regions to stable ones. The US has experienced relatively benign but still politically and economically contentious flows from Latin America. Europe is gripped by destabilizing flows with no end in sight.

Europe: Sliding Towards Civil War?

by Renzo Verwer*

Day by day, thousands of asylum-seekers from Africa and the Middle East are entering the EU in search of their Promised Land. Germany alone expects 750,000 in 2015. Over the first half of 2015 the EU has admitted 400,000. This foreshadows a great increase over the figure for the whole of 2014, which stood at 562,265. To be sure, not all these people will be allowed to stay. Far from it. But many will remain, legally or not.

As any child can understand, this vast inflow, both legal and illegal, will necessarily have consequences for European society. Yet quite a few European leaders claim that nothing will change. Or even that immigration will have a positive effect on the society in question; for instance, by providing industry with labor. Not so. First, the fact is that each immigrant costs the country in which he or she chooses to settle tens of thousands of Euro a year. Second, their arrival often means that religious and ethnic tensions start being imported. Having seen how these things developed in an Amsterdam flat shared by Ethiopians and Eritreans, I can bear personal witness to this problem. Not nice; not at all.

The Clash of Civilizations and the End of History*

Each year at this time, I teach a course about the Future of War at Tel Aviv University. Each year for several years, I look for an alternative to the late Samuel Huntington’s 1994 essay, “The Clash of Civilizations.” And to its progenitor, Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 essay, “The End of History,” to which it was a response. Each year I fail to find anything as well written, as sweeping, as provocative, and as scintillating to make my students break their teeth on. And so it pleases me to devote today’s post to the question, where do those two pieces stand in the contemporary world?


by RC Porter · 
November 14, 2015 

Can France’s Failure To Discover The Terrorist Act Beforehand Be Traced To The Edward Snowden Leaks?

Lots of questions are being asked about why French authorities failed to sniff out that such a major, highly coordinated terrorist attack was about to occur on the streets of Paris yesterday. With their many years of fighting Islamic insurgents in Algeria, the French have more experience than anyone else in the West, in combatting these kind of threats, in highly urbanized, and congested spaces. Developing a network of informants, and keeping a pulse on the alleyways and slums of the urban ghetto is something that the French do well — at least they used to. But, I wonder if part of the French intelligence and security failure can be traced to Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden ‘Has Blood On His Hands’

Paris terror attacks: French anti-terror forces are among the best in the world

By Col Tim Collins
14 Nov 2015

France was as well prepared for this as Britain. The only difference is luck

Police patrol near the Eiffel Tower the day after the series of attacks in Paris, France

Make no mistake: France was not and is not unprepared for the kind of attacks it saw on Friday night. It has a highly effective intelligence service and anti-terror forces.

"Right now, the major difference between Britain and France is luck"

I served with the French counter-terrorist Police RAID – Reaction, Action, Intervention and Dissuasion – when I was an SAS troop commander. I have served alongside the French paramilitary special forces, Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN), in many parts of the world. They are among the most effective anti-terror forces in Europe, if not the world.

Right now, the major difference between our two countries is luck.

Our Terrorism Double Standard: After Paris, Let's Stop Blaming Muslims and Take a Hard Look at Ourselves

By Ben Norton 
November 14, 2015

If the political cycle is not changed, the cycle of violence will continue.

Anytime there is an attack on civilians in the post-9/11 West, demagogues immediately blame it on Muslims. They frequently lack evidence, but depend on the blunt force of anti-Muslim bigotry to bolster their accusations.

Actual evidence, on the other hand, shows that less than two percent of terrorist attacks from 2009 to 2013 in the E.U. were religiously motivated. In 2013, just one percent of the 152 terrorist attacks were religious in nature; in 2012, less than three percent of the 219 terrorist attacks were inspired by religion.

The vast majority of terrorist attacks in these years were motivated by ethno-nationalism or separatism. In 2013, 55 percent of terrorist attacks were ethno-nationalist or separatist in nature; in 2012, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of terrorist attacks were inspired by ethno-nationalism or separatism.

Paris attacks show high level of sophistication, was kept secret

By Guy Taylor - The Washington Times - Saturday, November 14, 2015

Soldiers stand on the tarmac of the Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, as part of a security reinforcements, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. 

The coordinated Paris attacks required a level of operational sophistication that Islamic extremist terrorists have not shown in Europe since the London suicide attacks in 2005 when four separate bombs, detonated in quick succession, targeted civilians on mass transit in the British capital.

Friday night’s attacks unfolded across six separate locations in Paris, killing 129 people and wounding 352, and counterterrorism officials are now scrambling to examine the number of operatives that were involved — along with how they managed to plot and execute the multi-pronged strike without detection by authorities.

A Penny for Your Books

OCT. 26, 2015 

Ever since a university gave me a literature degree certifying that I have read Chaucer in the original Middle English, my taste in books has reverted to very specific, lowbrow stuff. I like murder mysteries, heist books and spy books, preferably from the 1950s through the 1980s. These titles can be hard to find; many of them are out of print, unavailable on Kindle, and their presence in the New York Public Library is hit or miss.

But in recent years, my bookshelves have swelled. Old John le Carré and Donald E. Westlake and Lawrence Block titles are easier than ever to find online, along with pretty much every other book published in the last century. They’re all on Amazon, priced incredibly low, and sold by third-party booksellers nobody has ever heard of.

Fighting terror from Mumbai to Paris

Happymon Jacob
November 16, 2015 

There is a need to put the Paris attack in the proper historical and political context, lest we treat this as a one-off incident and move on

Terror has struck France for the second time this year, this time with even more damage and loss of innocent lives, from soccer fans to diners. The global reach of terrorism is no more a theoretical possibility: it’s right at your doorstep whether you live in Paris, Mumbai, Baghdad or Beirut. The French Republic has decided to view it as an act of war carried out by Islamic State (Daesh) with internal help, and stated that the French response would be merciless.

The January attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the attack on Friday night differ in terms of scale, planning, target and intent. In January, the intent was to teach the Charlie Hebdo journalists a lesson for drawing a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad. The attack did not seem to have a great deal of pre-planning, the targets were specific, and the aim limited. The 13/11 Paris attack is large-scale killing, targeted against the general public; intended to spread terror and to convey that the French would pay for their war efforts in Syria right inside the French heartland — a great deal of planning has clearly gone into its execution.

France on Fire

French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the European Council and former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s Queen Rania and King Abdullah, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi marching to protest terrorism following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, Paris, January 11, 2015

On January 13, two days after millions in France marched to commemorate those assassinated by Islamist radicals the week before, Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls gave a stirring speech in the French National Assembly that was celebrated by socialists and conservatives alike as among the best in recent memory. He was firm and balanced. He first praised the police and expressed the government’s resolve to put in place security measures to win what he was not shy about calling a “war on terrorism, jihadism, and Islamist radicalism.” He then insisted that France was not at war with a religion and must stand firm on its principles of toleration and laicity—that is, the separation of religion and state. He received a standing ovation. Then, to the nation’s surprise, the deputies broke spontaneously and unanimously into the Marseillaise, the first time this had happened since the signing of the armistice ending World War I in 1918. 

Army Puts ‘Cyber Soldiers’ In The Mud

November 13, 2015

A soldier from the Army’s offensive cyber brigade during an exercise at Fort Lewis

ARLINGTON: Pop culture pictures hackers in clean, air-conditioned rooms, working global network magic from a desk. For the Army, though, that’s not enough. If American troops are to prevail against inventive foes in high-tech, close-quarters fights, the hacker elite have to get their boots muddy with the regular grunts. So now the Army’s sending cyber soldiers to its Combat Training Center wargames to figure out how.

“There’s this idea that we could always do it remotely, from protected space. Well, we recognized, no, that’s not true,” Lt. Gen. Ed Cardon, head of Army Cyber Command, told reporters recently. For cyber soldiers to support frontline units effectively, he said, “you’re going to have to have some number — small, but some number — of them forward.”

Putting cyber soldiers in the trenches isn’t simple. To start with, they have to be physically fit and qualified on a range of weapons — not exactly the stereotypical computer geek. They need computer and communications gear light and rugged enough to take into the field, and vehicles to carry it. They also need to communicate clearly with combat arms soldiers, a cultural chasm one general compared to understanding “dolphin speak.”

Army Learning How Cyber Support Plays Role In Tactical Operations

Jen Judson
November 10, 2015 

WASHINGTON — The Army's cyber branch is using pilot programs and training center rotations to show commanders at a variety of echelons what cyber capabilities can be brought to the table and, at the same time, refine how cyber will be a part of tactical operations both on the defensive and offensive side, cyber leaders said Tuesday at an Association of the US Army forum.

And there's room for improvement in how cyber support teams communicate to commanders what tools and capabilities can be used in operations, they said.

"The Army's dependency on networks is increasing significantly, and it's not going to decrease," Maj. Gen. Charles Flynn, the 25th Infantry Division's commanding general, said at an AUSA cyber forum in Arlington, Virginia.

There are a variety of things in which Army cyber is not yet up to speed. "The policies, permissions and authorities are not changing at the speeds relative to the threats; the skills are not developing at the speed relative to threats; commanders' awareness in broad terms remains to be lacking and a big change in command for communications and cyber remain confusing across the force," Flynn said.



It’s not a well-kept secret, either. Just a simple string of characters—maybe six of them if you’re careless, 16 if you’re cautious—that can reveal everything about you. 

Your email. Your bank account. Your address and credit card number. Photos of your kids or, worse, of yourself, naked. The precise location where you’re sitting right now as you read these words. Since the dawn of the information age, we’ve bought into the idea that a password, so long as it’s elaborate enough, is an adequate means of protecting all this precious data. But in 2012 that’s a fallacy, a fantasy, an outdated sales pitch. And anyone who still mouths it is a sucker—or someone who takes you for one. 

No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your passwords can no longer protect you. 

Look around. Leaks and dumps—hackers breaking into computer systems and releasing lists of usernames and passwords on the open web—are now regular occurrences. The way we daisy-chain accounts, with our email address doubling as a universal username, creates a single point of failure that can be exploited with devastating results. Thanks to an explosion of personal information being stored in the cloud, tricking customer service agents into resetting passwords has never been easier. All a hacker has to do is use personal information that’s publicly available on one service to gain entry into another. 

Sell US Weapons Faster Or Allies Will Buy Chinese: LaPlante

November 13, 2015 

Chinese J-31 stealth fighter

CAPITOL HILL: The head of Air Force acquisition, just back from the Dubai Air Show, said the United States must act fast to make it easier and quicker for allies to buy US weapons through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system.

If we don’t, Bill LaPLante said at an event put by on the Lexington Institute, a Washington thinktank, then we have to accept that our allies will buy Chinese weapons, even if they are copies of US gear and don’t work nearly as well as US weapons.

“US stuff is in incredibly high demand. Overseas people are desperate, they are desperate for our stuff,” Bill LaPLante told an event put on the Lexington Institute, a Washington thinktank. “We need to do something about it. It’s urgent.”