21 November 2015

Six charts tell you all you need to know about the Pay Commission recommendations

The essential lowdown: Who gets how much more, which sectors cost us the most and how it compares with rest of the world.

The seventh central pay commission has recommend a 23.55% increase in the pay and pensions of government employees in its report submitted on Thursday evening. Included in its financial bonanza is a whopping 2.5 times increase in the minimum salary of government employees at the lowest level which now begins at Rs 18,000.
According to the new pay bands, a government official at the highest level will have a salary of Rs 2,25,000 a month now while a Cabinet Secretary will take in Rs 2,50,000 as compared to less than rupees one lakh a month earlier.

The pay rise will benefit more than 4.7 million employees and 5.2 million pensioners in the country.
Pay commissions are set up every 10 years by the government to revise and revamp salaries of government employees. The sixth pay commission had raised the minimum basic salary by almost three times and took it to Rs 7,000 which has now reached the Rs 18,000 mark.
The commission this year has recommended a modest 16% increase in basic pay, 24% hike in pensions but allowance payout is set to increase by a substantial 63%.

As the above chart shows, the minimum basic salary of government employees has risen from Rs 35 as recommended by the first pay commission to its current levels in a matter of six decades.

The salary is only one of the parts of the government’s total wage burden as pension and allowances account for an equal, if not a bigger share, of its remuneration budget. Here’s how the components have changed over the years.

Managing expectations 

The total financial implication of the seventh pay commission has far surpassed expectations as it is going to cost an additional Rs one lakh crore to the exchequer.

Myanmar’s Post-Election Future With India

By Tridivesh Singh Maini
November 20, 2015

The November 8 election in Myanmar produced a stunning victory for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who trounced the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

However, a clause in the constitution will prevent Suu Kyi from becoming president, and the military is not likely to relinquish its dominance any time soon. Specifically, the 11-member National Defence and Security Council is the highest body in the government, and is dominated by unelected military personnel who have the authority to declare a state of emergency at any time. Significantly, the military is also constitutionally guaranteed one quarter of the seats in parliament plus the ministries of defense, home affairs, and border affairs.

1971 War: Planning for Operations

By Air Chief Marshal P C Lal
20 Nov , 2015

Two outstanding political leaders were at the helm of affairs in 1971 and any account of the 1971 war would be incomplete without complimenting them. First and fore­most was Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi whose ability to appraise complex situations, identify major problems and define clear-cut lines of action was exceptional. The second was Mr Jagjivan Ram, who held the office of Defence Minister with distinction from 1969 to 1973, who ably supported her.

As Chief of Air Staff during this period, I had the privilege of seeing him work at close quarters: he was a model of what I imagine a Minister should be. He had complete confidence in the Chiefs of Staff and his secretaries; he was unambiguous in making known Government’s aims and intentions and, having done that, left it to the people concerned to get on with the job. He was cool, unflustered, quick-witted, cheerful, with a sense of humour and he did not talk down to people.

Constituents of Strategic Communications of the Islamic State?

By V. Balasubramaniyan & V. Hariharan
20 Nov , 2015

The Islamic State has been making steady progress on various military fronts. Concomitant with this rise, there has been a drastic upsurge in the Islamic State’s propaganda abilities. The Islamic State’s propaganda ability is radically different and aggressive compared to its predecessors, like al-Qaeda. Buoyed by the advent of social media, the Islamic State has used its propaganda machinery to take the battle into its enemy’s heartlands. The impact of such a propaganda war is already felt globally, in countries which are not under the Islamic State’s territorial control. For example, the United Kingdom is presently monitoring 3,000 UK-based extremists who are allegedly linked to the Islamic State.1 Most of these alleged home-grown extremists are based in London, Manchester and West Midlands. The most intriguing aspect about these potential extremists is that none of them have been known to have visited countries under the Islamic State’s control, prompting questions on how these people were motivated remotely. The answer to this lies in the Islamic State’s ability to influence people using its well-oiled propaganda machinery.

Multi-Calibre Assault Rifle: Made in India vs Make in India

By Danvir Singh
20 Nov , 2015

Aping the philosophy of the West, the Indian Army wanted a rifle that would incapacitate a solider instead of killing him thus increasing the logistics burden for each soldier injured. However, as the Army started getting involved in Counter Insurgency especially in the North, the requirement for a gun with a higher kill capacity was felt. The infantrymen now prefer the famed AK-47 rifle over the INSAS.

Braving all criticism of an inefficient INSAS rifle to its credit, unbelievably though, the ARDE has simultaneously developed a Multi-Calibre Individual Weapon System (MCIWS)…

Amidst media reports of the Indian Army scraping the search for a multi-calibre assault rifle from foreign vendors, a team from the Indian Defence Review (IDR) visited the Armament Research Development Establishment (ARDE) at Pune recently. It was an exercise undertaken to understand the efforts made by Indian scientists in developing an indigenous assault rifle; a call unheard thus far. The Indian Army is conducting field trials on various assault rifles of foreign make at Northern Command. The world famous small arms manufacturers have entered the fray.

Stoning to Death, Taliban is Still Alive

By Chayanika Saxena
Date : 20 Nov , 2015

With an exit forced on Taliban in 2001, the world had come to believe that it was finally time when the winds of change would propel Afghanistan on the path of present to a brighter future. But, hardly has the world been wrong in its prophecies as much as it was in this case.
On the one hand where the newly inaugurated Cabinet of Ministers in Canada represent gender balance and diversity at its best, in another part of the globe far from it, a woman was put in a hole and stoned to death. This is the 2015 of Justin Trudeau who says that women need to be in power precisely because it is 2015; this is also the 2015 of those who would deny women the right to life because hey, it is still 2015!

Stoned to death, the bludgeoning of a 19 year-old girl in southern Afghanistan is, unfortunately, not a scant occurrence. While it did certainly shock many, the practice of violence against women continues in one form or the other, with some being as cruel as being stoned to death, and that too on a charge of something as innocuous as being in love. Incidentally, a film was made on ‘love crimes in Afghanistan’ not so long ago; a documentary that lists being in love as amounting to committing a crime to many in that country. The situation in India is no different where in the name of honor, women and men are hacked to death or are killed in the most gruesome ways, and often without shame or even a trace of remorse.

The Badlands Of Meghalaya

19 Nov, 2015

Jayant Chowdhury is an avid observer of and commentator on politics and society in Bengal and eastern, including north-eastern, India.

How five districts of Meghalaya have turned into one of the most dangerous places in the country. 

A little over 10,000 square kilometres of territory in a remote part of north-eastern India has become one of the most dangerous places in the country. Extortions, abductions for ransom, torture and killings of innocents has become the order of the day and the state machinery is powerless, or rendered powerless, to do anything.

So grave is the breakdown of law and order in the five western districts of Meghalaya’s Garo Hills that earlier this month, the full bench of the state High Court asked the Union Government to impose the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 in those districts and deploy the army and Central para-military forces to crush the raging insurgency there. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has listed these districts as among the most lawless districts in the country.

Pakistan's General Raheel Sharif Goes to Washington: Déjà Vu All Over Again

By Michael Kugelman
November 17, 2015

Imagine you’re the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, and you’ve been tasked to draft a cable to prepare American officials in Washington for the visit of General Raheel Sharif, the Pakistani army chief who has arrived in town for a five-day trip.

So what would you say?
First, you’d counsel some conciliatory comments: “We should recognize growing Pakistani casualties in the fight against militants … [and] reiterate the long-term U.S. commitment to support Pakistan.”

Soon thereafter, however, you’d urge your Washington counterparts to get down to business: “We need to lay down a clear marker that Pakistan’s Army/ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s spy agency] must stop overt or tacit support for militant proxies.”

And then you’d get to the heart of the matter: “The single biggest message … is that this support must end. It is now counterproductive to Pakistan’s own interests and directly conflicts with USG objectives in Afghanistan—where [the] Haqqani [network] is killing American soldiers and Afghan civilians,” and in the broader region, where the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 “exposed the fruits of previous ISI policy to create Lashkar-e-Taiba and still threatens potential conflict between nuclear powers.”

The Myth of a ‘Strategic Imbalance’ in the South China Sea

November 20, 2015

Even as the world is facing a clear and present danger in the form of globally mobilized Salafist terrorism and a resurgent and spiteful Russia invading its neighbor, there is a new round of alarmism in Australia about disputes in the South China Sea. With the high profile U.S. freedom of navigation operation behind us, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s hawkish tones less audible for now, the issue of strategic imbalance in the South China Sea is gaining currency in Australia.

Concern about a strategic imbalance in the semi-enclosed South China Sea stems in part from the mathematical comparison between Chinese and U.S. forces normally stationed in or near the South China Sea. China’s order of battle in the area far outweighs that of the United States. This should be no surprise, given that China borders the sea area in question and has legitimate claims to millions of square kilometers of maritime resource jurisdiction based on Hainan Island and mainland territory (Guangdong province has 4,000 km of South China Sea coast). In addition, China has claimed several other island groups there since before 1945. In comparison, the United States is not a littoral state and has no claim on territory or resources jurisdiction in the South China Sea.

This Is Why America Should Fear China's Air Force

November 18, 2015 

Chinese air power is on the rise. If a crisis occured in the skies over Taiwan, could Washington really stop Beijing? 
Want to know just how far Chinese airpower has advanced over the past 20 years? The U.S. might need 15 times as many aircraft to defend Taiwan as it did in 1996.

That's the estimate of a RAND Corporation analysis of trends in China's air capabilities. Researchers examined two scenarios: A Chinese invasion of Taiwan and a Sino-American clash over the Spratly Islands, in four specific years—1996, 2003, 2010 and 2017. Using mathematical air warfare models, they calculated how many U.S. air wings—each of 72 aircraft—would be needed to achieve 24/7 air dominance over Taiwan and the Spratlys in the face of a massive surge of Chinese aircraft. They also looked at attritional scenarios to estimate how many U.S. air wings would be needed to destroy 50 percent of Chinese aircraft over those targets within 7 days and 21 days, which presumably would force China to call off its invasion.

Chinese Websites Produce Intelligence Windfall

November 11, 2015 

Armored personnel carrier dispatched to capture defector Wang Lijun

In February 2012 one of the most unusual political dramas in years played out in southwestern China as a regional Communist leader tried to prevent one of his subordinates from defecting to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, in southwestern Sichuan Province.

Concerned that illegal activities, including the murder a British businessman, were about to be exposed by the defector and implicate the up and coming regional Party chief Bo Xilai, armored personnel carriers and other military forces were dispatched by Bo from his headquarters in nearby Chongqing to capture the defector, Wang Lijun.

Armored personnel carrier dispatched by Bo Xilaito capture defector Wang Lijun

Within hours, China’s active yet heavily monitored Internet lit up with postings by Chinese “netizens,” who posted information and photos that provided valuable early intelligence on what would eventually result in dramatic fall of Bo Xilai, who had been slated to serve on the Standing Committee of the Communist Party Politburo, the apex of power.

Don’t Give ISIS What It Wants

NOVEMBER 16, 2015

Ensure that cooler heads prevail after an attack, resist the urge for retribution, and other ways to make sure the terrorists don’t win.

When a shocking event like the Paris attacks occurs, we know how the world will respond. There will be dismay, an outpouring of solidarity and sympathy, defiant speeches by politicians, and a media frenzy. Unfortunately, these familiar reactions give the perpetrators some of what they want: attention for their cause and the possibility their targets will do something that unwittingly helps advance the perpetrators’ radical aims.

What is most needed in such moments is not anger, outrage, or finger-pointing, but calm resolution, cool heads, and careful thought. What happened in Paris is an untold tragedy for the victims and deeply offensive to all we hold dear, but we must respond with our heads and not just our hearts. Here are five lessons to bear in mind as we reassess the dangers and search for an effective response.

A Weakening Islamic State Still Poses A Threat

19 November 2015

-- this post authored by Scott Stewart

Earlier this month I wrote an analysis asserting that time is working against the Islamic State. I argued that the factors responsible for the Islamic State's stunning rise in popularity last year - the group's territorial gains, its successes against authorities and its propaganda - are starting to wear out. Much of the group's appeal lies in its portrayal of itself as an agent of apocalyptic Islamic prophecy, and as time passes without the prophecies coming true, people will become increasingly disillusioned.

Since that analysis was published, it has come to light that the Islamic State's Wilayat Sinai was responsible for the Oct. 31 bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268. Meanwhile, the Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. In the wake of these incidents, many people are asking me, "How can the Islamic State be weakening when they are conducting spectacular terrorist attacks?" So I thought it would be a good time to discuss where terrorism fits within the spectrum of militancy and how a weakening militant organization can still effectively employ terrorism, even as its capabilities to wage conventional and guerrilla warfare diminish.
Tool of the Weak

14 years of war and we still haven't learned the right lesson: 9/11 Chairmen

Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton
November 18, 2015

Force won't succeed until we defeat the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism.
Speaking to a nation grief stricken after the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil, President George W. Bush declared that “our war on terror … will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” Now, 14 years later, France has been shaken by an all too familiar horror, and President Francois Hollande has similarly vowed to be “unforgiving with the barbarians (with) all the necessary means, and on all terrains, inside and outside.”

The parallels in these responses should simultaneously reassure and give us pause. Absolute condemnation is the only possible reaction to these abominable attacks by those who embrace the universal values of life and liberty. But faced once again with innocent lives taken by a murderous, radical foe, we must re-examine and re-energize our response.

US, ASEAN to Ink New Strategic Partnership

November 20, 2015

The United States is set to elevate its relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by inking a new strategic partnership following upcoming U.S.-ASEAN consultations in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, sources confirmed to The Diplomat this week.

The Obama administration has already significantly boosted U.S. commitment to ASEAN during its tenure, including by appointing the first U.S. resident ambassador to Jakarta and instituting an annual summit between the president and ASEAN leaders. But elevating U.S.-ASEAN ties to a strategic partnership would cap these achievements as U.S. President Barack Obama moves into his last year in office and ASEAN prepares to launch a new community by the end of the year.

Conversations about a U.S.-ASEAN strategic partnership have been going on for years, and actual negotiations on the specifics have been occurring for most of 2015 (See: “US-ASEAN Relations: Advances Made But Challenges Remain”). While U.S. officials had confirmed following the 28th ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue in Washington, D.C. in May that both sides were working towards the “elevation” of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship to a strategic partnership in time for the East Asia Summit (EAS) in November, few other specifics were disclosed up to this point.

The U.S. plan to counter Russia in Syria

Jeremy Shapiro and Laura Daniels 
November 17, 2015

The Russian intervention in Syria launched a new and even more complicated phase in the Syrian civil war. The U.S. response to Russia’s bold move, according to critics and even many allies, has been dangerously listless. Observers have described the U.S. response as “flat-footed” or simply offering “no pushback,” a view which has only intensified since the Paris attacks. President Obama’s own rhetoric has consistently reinforced this sentiment of minimal pushback since the Russian strikes began, taking pains to emphasize that he has no intention of transforming Syria “into a proxy war between the United States and Russia.”

The Paris Tragedy and the End of Strategic Thinking

NOVEMBER 17, 2015 

Peter Isackson is the Chief Visionary Officer of SkillScaper and the creator of innovative solutions for learning in the 21st century. Educated at UCL

Everything indicates that the West has given up on strategic thinking.

The horrendous and carefully synchronized attacks in Paris on November 13 have provided a new occasion to fill the airwaves and pages of the press with the familiar themes, memes and sentiments our skilled rhetoricians in politics and the media are so good at trotting out. The database of scripts to read from is there for all to exploit. Listening in the immediate aftermath to French President François Hollande, who was clearly wondering how best to recycle his ten-month-old “Je suis Charlie” speeches, I couldn’t help hearing the echo of George W. Bush in late 2001. Reuters succinctly summed up the surreal comedy of it in a single sentence. “Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action,” he said, without saying what that meant.

Redrawing the lines

by Karthik Shashidhar 
November 18, 2015 

The demise of colonialism in West Asia and a comparison to India.

At the time of India’s independence there were several doubts about the country’s unity and success as a nation state. A diverse population, partition along religious lines and early external conflicts did not help. Questions were also raised on the political ability of Indians to govern themselves following a long period of British rule. Other nations that became independent around the time suffered from at least one of military coups, dictatorships, colonial interference and secessionist movements. In fact, India almost stands alone (Israel being the other country that comes to mind) in avoiding all of these.

Whole James Barr’s 2012 book A Line in the Sand (Simon and Schuster) is primarily about colonialism in West Asia, it also tells the stories of how Lebanon, Syria and Israel became independent. These provide a contrast to the freedom movement in India, and help us understand how the freedom movement was pivotal in India’s post-independence success.

The Decline of the West Revisited

Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and a fellow of the British Academy in history and economics, is a member of the British House of Lords. The author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes, he began his political career in the Labour party.

LONDON – The terrorist slaughter in Paris has once again brought into sharp relief the storm clouds gathering over the twenty-first century, dimming the bright promise for Europe and the West that the fall of communism opened up. Given dangers that seemingly grow by the day, it is worth pondering what we may be in for.

Though prophecy is delusive, an agreed point of departure should be falling expectations. As Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute reports: “The assumption of an automatically better future for the next generation is gone in much of the West.”

In 1918, Oswald Spengler published The Decline of the West. Today the word “decline” is taboo. Our politicians shun it in favor of “challenges,” while our economists talk of “secular stagnation.” The language changes, but the belief that Western civilization is living on borrowed time (and money) is the same.

Paris Exposes the Limitations of the West’s Approach to Counter Terrorism

November 18, 2015

The ‘notion’ of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) has taken a beating after the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. CIP is about protecting vital infrastructure, which, if attacked, would have deleterious consequences for the state and society. Such infrastructure includes essential services on which the population depends heavily for various routine but essential activities like managing water and electric supply, maintenance of rail and airline networks, etc. For the last couple of years many states have placed a major emphasis upon CIP and have made significant investments to ensure that the architecture for CIP gets appropriately established. However, the recent attacks in Paris and the nature of targets selected there by the terrorists indicate that the ‘process’ behind identifying what is Critical Infrastructure has limitations and terrorists could select many more targets that are outwardly not Critical.

The idea of CIP could be said to have begun when US President Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive [PDD]-63 in May 1998 to set up a national programme of ‘Critical Infrastructure Protection’. Europe too views CIP as an important instrument and has in place the ‘European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection’ (EPCIP). For its part, India has the ‘National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre’ (NCIPC), which essentially handles cyber security related issues.

Anonymous Has Little to Show For Its Year-Long Fight Against ISIS

November 18, 2015

After the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, the hacktivist group Anonymoushas “declared war” on ISIS. As is typical for the group, the declaration was delivered in a dramatic YouTube manifesto by an anonymous figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.

“Know that we will find you and we will never let up,” the figure says in French, according to the video subtitles. "We are going to launch the biggest ever operation against you. Expect very many cyber attacks.”

However, many security analysts and cyber-watchers wonder whether such attacks could accomplish anything significant at all in the struggle against ISIS, as well-meaning though it may be. Is Anonymous’ war on ISIS meaningless, or even potentially damaging to the cause it’s trying to help?

Paris Attacks Reopen Crypto Wars

NOVEMBER 17, 201

From Apple to WhatsApp, tech companies are using sophisticated encryption technologies to thwart government spying. After Paris, top officials want to force firms to lower those walls.

For months, U.S. intelligence officials have warned that the proliferation of strong encryption technologies has hampered their ability to detect terrorist plots — including last week’s deadly attacks in Paris. The question now is whether Washington and its allies will force Silicon Valley to give law enforcement agencies a way around those technologies.

The bloody attacks in Paris that killed 129 have prompted searing questions over how the intelligence services of multiple countries failed to detect what was an organized plot involving multiple individuals and extensive planning in at least three countries. One answer, according to the top law enforcement official in the United States: the ease with which militants can use encrypted messaging tools, such as Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal, that have such strong security measures that Western intelligence services can’t unscramble communications.

Nanotechnology: The Emerging Field for Future Military Applications

IDSA Monograph Series No. 48

Nanotechnology is an area of science and technology that holds highly promising prospects for military applications, considering its wide applicability in defensive as well as offensive operations. Given the research and development (R&D) efforts being made in this field by a large number of countries, new products with much superior properties in terms of performance and durability are likely to be realized very soon. The most important aspect of nanotechnology-enabled products is the miniaturization of devices and the diverse functionalities that can be integrated within a singular system. Accordingly, the most profound applications in the future will be realized for the war fighter. Whether it is a battle suit integrated with sensors for nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons protection, bullet injuries and monitoring of vital body parameters, nanotechnology will find its application in camouflage and concealment, weapons, communication, and situational awareness in the battlefield. This monograph traces the R&D initiatives being undertaken in this field, followed by specific applications which are relevant for the Indian defence forces. It also attempts to foresee how nanotechnology-enabled applications are likely to impact the future battlefield.
About the Author

Sanjiv Tomar, an alumnus of Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, is currently serving in the Indian Army. He was commissioned into the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers in 1989. He has had varied operational and service experience of over 26 years in operational and maintenance management of a wide range of military equipment. Col. Tomar has commanded three Specialized Workshops in various sectors. He has held a Grade I General Staff appointment in Electronics and Mechanical Engineers School, Vadodara and has also served as Joint Director (Planning) at Directorate General of Quality Assurance (Electronics), New Delhi. He is a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), USA.

Marx, Hegel, the Labour Theory of Value and Human Desire

by Philip Pilkington
November 19th, 2015 

Hour-long, by hour, may we two stand
When we’re dead, between these lands
The sun set behind his eyes
And Joe said, “Is this desire?” — PJ Harvey, ‘Is This Desire?

Follow up:

I’ll be honest: I hate discussing Marx, dialectical materialism and the Labour Theory of Value (hereafter: LTV). Why? Because it’s like discussing monetary theory with a hyperinflation obsessed Austrian; they don’t have enough grounding to have a discussion as they’ve only really read their side of the debate. Even those Marxists that have read Hegel come away with an understanding that is so deeply biased by Marx’s perversions of dialectical philosophy that they don’t get what poor uncle Hegel is saying at all.

Reframing The Military’s Junior Officer Retention Problem

November 17, 2015

Junior officer dissatisfaction has less to do with the personnel system and more to do with bureaucratic dysfunction that makes many jobs miserable.

In part one, I discussed the proposition advanced by David Barno and Nora Bensahel that a rigid and anachronistic personnel system is inhibiting our ability to retain our most talented officers. I took issue with their apparent remedy: to give more perks and benefits to individuals who already enjoy substantial perks and benefits. Their analysis of the issue was logically inconsistent in that it identified requirements, but lamented those requirements when implemented. Their analysis was incomplete in that it did not consider opportunities to serve in our civilian workforce, did not consider whether talented officers whom we are losing are actually the most talented among their peers, and it ignored the reality that problems concerning family life, stability, and predictability are improving as deployments have become less frequent.

Reframing The Military’s Junior Officer Retention Problem

November 17, 2015

Junior officer dissatisfaction has less to do with the personnel system and more to do with bureaucratic dysfunction that makes many jobs miserable.

In part one, I discussed the proposition advanced by David Barno and Nora Bensahel that a rigid and anachronistic personnel system is inhibiting our ability to retain our most talented officers. I took issue with their apparent remedy: to give more perks and benefits to individuals who already enjoy substantial perks and benefits. Their analysis of the issue was logically inconsistent in that it identified requirements, but lamented those requirements when implemented. Their analysis was incomplete in that it did not consider opportunities to serve in our civilian workforce, did not consider whether talented officers whom we are losing are actually the most talented among their peers, and it ignored the reality that problems concerning family life, stability, and predictability are improving as deployments have become less frequent.


NOVEMBER 19, 2015

In recent weeks, the relationship between the national security state and the academy has come under increasing scrutiny. This debate is important because universities play an essential role in educating the national security workforce and informing national security decision-making. Some commentators have deplored the apparent inability of the U.S. intelligence community to improve its workforce, leading to what one observer calls theirignorance. In their recent piece on the “most militarized universities in America,” journalists William Arkin and Alexa O’Brien hold that the perceived lack of critical thinking and area studies skills in the intelligence community is indicative of “a crisis in national security education.”

SecDef pulls back on personnel reforms, leaves out big changes for now

By Andrew Tilghman
November 18, 2015 

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday vowed to push forward on an array of changes to the military personnel system, but omitted many of the ambitious proposals that top-level Pentagon officials talked about earlier this year.

Carter announced plans to create a new high-tech personnel management system for matching individual troops with job assignments, an online network he compared to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Other changes he intends to set in motion include streamlining transitions between the active and reserve components and creating a new “chief recruiting officer,” a civilian to oversee forcewide efforts to attract top talent.

The secretary said other reforms -- including those that could impact military pay, benefits and the way officers are promoted -- may be on the horizon.

Speaking to students at George Washington University, Carter outlined a slate of reforms to address his concerns about the military's ability to recruit and retain highly skilled workers and maintain an excellent workforce into the future.


The French way of war Bet on it: Hollande’s counterattack against the terrorists is going to hurt them

France’s military may suffer from a poor reputation in American popular imagination, dating from historical events like the rapid fall to Nazi Germany in World War II and the colonial-era defeat at Dien Bien Phu. This is a mistake: The French airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria are only the beginning of the counterattack against ISIL, as French officials themselves are promising. And as anyone familiar with France’s military capabilities can attest, when it comes to war the French are among the very best.

Moreover, whatever France does probably will not look like anything the U.S. would do. There is a French way of warfare that reflects the French military’s lack of resources and its modest sense of what it can achieve. They specialize in carefully apportioned and usually small but lethal operations, often behind the scenes; they can go bigger if they have help from the U.S. and other allies—which they will probably have in any case and know how to put to good use.

Military leaders dubious of bigger war against ISIL


U.S. military leaders are skeptical about calls for escalating the war against the Islamic State, saying they have watched too many of their troops’ hard-won victories slip away amid civilian inattention in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even as U.S. and allied aircraft step up their bombing campaign against the terrorist group after Friday’s attacks in Paris, senior military officials privately express worries that political leaders in Washington and foreign capitals still haven’t absorbed the lessons of America’s last two big wars. In both cases, the military defeated the Taliban, Saddam Hussein’s regime and the Iraqi insurgents, but civilian leadership failed to do the political, economic and diplomatic heavy-lifting needed to sustain those wins.

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