24 November 2015

Impact of Biological Noise on Sonar Performance in the IOR

By Vice Adm DSP Verma And Cdr (Dr) Arnab Das
22 Nov , 2015

The deployment of nuclear powered submarines is a game changer. However, that comes with its own challenges. The deployment of the erstwhile INS Chakra way back in the year 1988, had experienced major operational difficulty, due to Snapping Shrimp noise, while being deployed off the East coast of India. Snapping Shrimps are found in very large groups in the tropical littoral waters and their acoustic signals are high intensity sound that can swamp the sonar display. The vast oceans/seas away and closer to our shores will require massive efforts and mass participation that may not be feasible by only research organisations. The user-academia partnership has been a weak area in India so far, particularly when it involves field experiments, but the requirement of such collaboration is inescapable now.

As the third largest body of water on the Earth, the Indian Ocean is an important resource providing the major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and the Western hemisphere. Driven by Asia’s economic rise, the Indian Ocean is surpassing the Atlantic and Pacific as the world’s busiest and most strategically significant trade corridor. One-third of the world’s bulk cargo and around two-thirds of world oil shipments now passes through the Indian Ocean. An estimated 40 per cent of the world’s offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. South Asia ranks among the world’s most densely-populated regions, containing almost 1.6 billion people – about a quarter of all the people in the world.

Trying Times: IAF’S Avro Replacement Project

By Gp Capt Joseph Noronha
21 Nov , 2015

Till now, India’s defence aerospace industry has been the preserve of HAL. And HAL’s performance has been lacklustre, to put it mildly. Private sector participation will attract foreign manufacturers to form strategic partnerships with local companies. It will introduce some competition for HAL that will hopefully encourage it to pull up its socks. In the long term, it will surely boost domestic aerospace capability and promote exports. The Avro replacement programme seems ideal as an entry-level exercise. Since the foreign OEM must select the IPA and ensure increasing indigenisation, yet assume near-total responsibility for quality and delivery schedules, the success of the project is assured. It is also perfectly timed since no other fixed-wing fleet is expected to fall due for replacement for another decade or more that is within the capability of private industry to manufacture.

A rare letter from the Dalai Lama to Jawaharlal Nehru

By Claude Arpi
23 Nov , 2015

A very rare document, the translation of a letter sent by the Dalai Lama to the Prime Minister of India on March 26, 1959.

The letter is written from Lhuntse Dzong in Southern Tibet where the Tibetan leader had originally planned to take temporary refuge.

To give the background of the letter here what the Dalai Lama wrote in his autobiography, Freedom in Exile:

At first, it was my intention to halt at Lhuntse Dzong, not far from the Indian border, where I would repudiate the Seventeen-point ‘Agreement’, re-establish my Government as the rightful administration of all Tibet, and try to open negotiations with the Chinese. However, on about the fifth day [after he left Lhasa], we were overtaken by a posse of horsemen who brought terrible news. Just over forty-eight hours after my departure [on March 19, 1959], the Chinese had begun to shell the Norbulingka and to machine-gun the defenceless crowd, which was still in place. My worst fears had come true. I realised that it would be impossible to negotiate with people who behaved in this cruel and criminal fashion. There was nothing for it now but for us to get as far away as possible, though India still lay many days’ journey distant, with several more high mountain passes in between.

What Ails the Army's Officer Class?

By Lt Gen SC Sardeshpande
21 Nov , 2015

Of late one increasingly hears and reads about the weaknesses in the Army’s Officer class: Law suits in the Court, statutory complaints, representations, sexual aberrations and so on. If a disciplined, motivated and specifically groomed part of our society is so affected then it is a cause for society’s and nation’s concern. Treating it as a holy cow, an exclusivist organisation not to be touched will only exacerbate the malaise.

Obedience is the sine qua non of the philosphy of soldiering. Brought up in the environment of taking every and any order ‘as a challenge and a task to be successfully tackled officers find it difficult to say no even to an unjust order. Psychologically the soldier’s pleasure of doing his superior’s bidding is great and materially equally lucrative. It satisfied his sense of duty and holds promises of advancement. Habituated to being led or ordered, and inured to that undying dictum “set example”, the officer waits throughout his service for orders and for someone to set example.

The Debacle in Kunduz

By EN Rammohan
23 Nov , 2015

A series of deadly and apparently coordinated attacks in Kabul suggested that the situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces, less than a year ago was no better or simpler than it was during the decade long, large scale western military deployment in the country. Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan had made peace talks with the Taliban a priority since he was elected in September last year. No one guessed then that its culmination would be the attack on Kunduz. It would not be unkind to say that President Ashraf Ghani like the proverbial ostrich had buried his head in the sands of Kunduz.

The weakness of the Afghan State is nothing new. But the latent violence tests the proposition that a consolidated array of Afghan Security forces, police and army would be able to keep the Taliban in check after the withdrawal of western troops. There are echoes of the United States’ withdrawal from Iraq in today’s Afghanistan.

India Tests Supersonic Advanced Air Defense Missile

November 23, 2015

On Sunday, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) tested an indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile: the Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile. The AAD is part of the first phase of India’s Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) initiative, along with the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile. The Prithvi provides exoatmosphermic defense while the AAD is optimized for endoatmospheric performance.

According to Indian defense officials who spoke to the Press Trust of India, “The test was conducted to validate various parameters of the interceptor in flight mode.” Specifically, “The ‘kill’ effect of the interceptor was being ascertained by analysing data from multiple tracking sources,” according to a DRDO scientist. The test was conducted at a testing site on Abdul Kalam Island, which was formerly known as Wheeler Island.

No Surprise Here! Investigation Finds Fall of Afghan City of Kunduz Caused by Poor Leadership

November 22, 2015

Afghan probe finds leadership failure behind fall of Kunduz 

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Weak leadership, misuse of resources and lack of coordination between Afghan security services were the main reasons a strategic northern city briefly fell to the Taliban, the head of an investigative team said Saturday.

Without U.S. air support, government forces would have been unable to take back the city of Kunduz, said Amrullah Saleh, head of the investigating team and a former intelligence agency chief.

Taliban gunmen overran Kunduz, capital of the province of the same name, on Sept. 28. They held the city for three days before a government counter-offensive was launched. It took two weeks for troops to bring the city back under government control.

Saleh’s investigation into Kunduz is the first to release results to the public, in the form of a 30-page summary. The investigators were appointed by President Ashraf Ghani, and submitted their full 200-page report a month ago.

The report says that army, police and intelligence agency soldiers left their posts as the Taliban advanced on the city. The large-scale desertion enabled the insurgents to enter the city almost unopposed.

Managing U.S.-China Relations? Challenging. Picking a Good Guidebook? Easy: The China Challenge

November 23, 2015

Rigorous, measured, readable scholarship is always in insufficient supply generally. It is particularly so concerning the vital issue of U.S.-China relations. The world is awash in books on the twenty-first century’s most important bilateral relationship, but even amid this torrent The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power by Princeton University professor Thomas J. Christensen represents a unique contribution. Given the difficulties inherent in its weighty subject, the volume will remain relevant for years to come. Above all, it offers Christensen’s unique perspective as a leading scholar on the topic who has also served as a high-level diplomat—namely, asDeputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs with responsibility for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia.

A War With China Would Be Bloody—And Stupid

November 21, 2015

Sidney Rittenberg knows a thing or two about China. During World War II, he learned fluent Mandarin as a U.S. Army linguist, worked in China, left the Army and joined the Chinese Communist Party. He became friends with Mao Zedongand spent 16 years in solitary confinement—as Mao’s prisoner.

We recently spoke to Rittenberg about his experiences in Maoist China, his imprisonment and why he became disillusioned with the party. In his 93 years, he’s seen China and America at their best … and their worst.

Now as tensions between Washington and Beijing grow, Rittenberg worries that American officials are returning to old habits of seeing China as a mysterious and hostile power. The former apparatchik thinks this is a grave mistake.

On July 9, Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China—and Russia, too—present the greatest threat to American security.

Redefining AirSea Battle: JAM-GC, China and the Quest for Clarity

November 22, 2015

Word has it the Pentagon will soon release a directive outlining its “Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons” (JAM-GC). JAM-GC is the Joint Staff’s manifesto for managing the “anti-access/area-denial” (A2/AD) problem, principally in waters that wash against the Eurasian rimlands. Anti-access is how the Chinas, Irans, or Russias of the world deploy sea- and shore-based weaponry to make things tough on foes cruising their near seas or skies. Make things tough enough and an opponent might keep clear.

Access denial is an acute problem for U.S. and allied forces operating within reach of land-based airfields or anti-ship missile batteries, to say nothing of missile-toting submarines, patrol craft, or surface combatants. That is to say, A2/AD constitutes a problem all along the East and South Asian periphery. Not just naval fleets but armies and air forces can pummel enemy forces already in the theater, such as the Japan-based U.S. Seventh Fleet or the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. That’s area-denial.

What does China mean when it speaks about militarization in the South China Sea?

November 23, 2015

Speaking at the 10th East Asia Summit in Malaysia on Sunday, China’s deputy foreign minister, Liu Zhenmin, clarified China’s position on the militarization of the South China Sea. Since 2014, China’s activities in the South China Sea have come under close scrutiny after Beijing began a spate of artificial island-building and construction activities on several features in the Spratly Islands at a historically unprecedented pace. Satellite imagery analysis has long shown that China is undertaking construction to facilitate military activities, including setting up new radar facilities, helipads, and airstrips.

In Kuala Lumpur, Liu reiterated China’s long-standing position that the purpose of these islands is to “provide public service” in the region. He noted the value of these facilities for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. “One should never link the military facilities with efforts to militarize the South China Sea,” Liu added. “This is a false argument. It is a consistent Chinese position to firmly oppose the militarization of the South China Sea.” Liu’s language echoed assurances made by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his September visit to the United States. During a press conference with U.S. President Barack Obama, Xi said that China would never militarize the South China Sea.

Next US Navy South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation: Mischief Reef

November 23, 2015

The U.S. Navy may be gearing up for its second freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island. Bill Gertz, at the Washington Free Beacon, citing U.S. officials with knowledge of matter, reports that two U.S. Navy warships will sail within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef. The operation is expected to take place in “several weeks.” The U.S. Navy carried out its first freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island on October 27, when an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS Lassen, sailed past Subi Reef.

The choice of Mischief Reef for a second freedom of navigation operation makes sense and should help the Obama administration assert that it does not recognize any territorial sea claim around these features in the Spratly Islands. As I wrote recently, the October 27 operation left matters ambiguous, causing considerable disagreement among many well-informed South China Sea experts about what precisely the United States asserted with its freedom of navigation operation there. The United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) determines the conditions under which certain features generated maritime entitlements, including 12 nautical mile territorial seas and 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones.

Mali Hotel Attack Yet Another Setback in War on Terrorism Which White House Said We Were Winning

November 22, 2015

Hotel Attack in Mali Reverses Gains in Fight Against Extremism

BAMAKO, Mali — The terrorists chose carefully: There are nearly always French, Russian and even a few American visitors to be found in the hotel restaurant, around the pool, in the health club or on the thin black-leather sofas of the glass-fronted lobby, now shattered by gunfire.

With its marble floors, open atrium and lipstick-red lounge, the Radisson Blu Hotel served as a lifeline to the world, a gathering place where diplomats, contractors and others doing business in Mali, one of the poorest countries on earth, could all be found.

Now, bullet holes pockmark the walls and blood is pooled on stairs. The hotel, once a symbol of the international presence in a country trying to emerge from years of upheaval, is the site of a massacre in which terrorists killed 19 people, storming in at breakfast on Friday as terrified diners sprinted into an elevator whose doors did not close in time to save them.

“For those people who did this, they have no sense of the value of life,” President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta said at the foot of the ransacked hotel on Saturday afternoon.

After ISIS Routed the Iraqi Army Last Year and Captured Mosul, CENTCOM Officials Substantially Rewrote Damning Intelligence Reports on Poor Performance of Iraqi Army

November 22, 2015

Pentagon Expands Inquiry Into Intelligence on ISIS Surge

WASHINGTON — When Islamic State fighters overran a string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at United States Central Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers that documented the humiliating retreat of the Iraqi Army. But before the assessments were final, former intelligence officials said, the analysts’ superiors made significant changes.

In the revised documents, the Iraqi Army had not retreated at all. The soldiers had simply “redeployed.”

Such changes are at the heart of an expanding internal Pentagon investigation of Centcom, as Central Command is known, where analysts say that supervisors revised conclusions to mask some of the American military’s failures in training Iraqi troops and beating back the Islamic State. The analysts say supervisors were particularly eager to paint a more optimistic picture of America’s role in the conflict than was warranted.

In recent weeks, the Pentagon inspector general seized a large trove of emails and documents from military servers as it examines the claims, and has added more investigators to the inquiry.

The mystery of missing Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam

November 22, 2015

The mystery of missing Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam

Among the many mysteries hanging over the Paris attacks, few are more puzzling than the fate and role of jihadist Salah Abdeslam, subject of an international manhunt since the carnage.

He and his brother Brahim played a key logistical role in the wave of terror that left 130 people dead and hundreds injured, renting cars and hotel rooms where the jihadists could hole up.

Brahim, like another five of the assailants, blew himself up after the bloodshed. A seventh was shot by police.

However Salah did not. Instead he was spirited away to Belgium by two other men who were arrested and charged there.

One of the lingering questions is exactly what role the Belgian-born 26-year-old – who used to run a bar with his brother in Brussels – played in the wave of attacks.

Red Flags Missed: Clear Signs of a Huge Intelligence Failure Prior to Paris Terrorist Attacks

November 22, 2015

Authorities missed many ‘red flags’ before Paris shootings

There were multiple chances to stop the men who attacked Paris.

In January, Turkish authorities detained one of the suicide bombers at Turkey’s border and deported him to Belgium. Brahim Abdeslam, Turkish authorities told Belgian police at the time, had been “radicalized” and was suspected of wanting to join Islamic State in Syria, a Turkish security source told Reuters.

Yet during questioning in Belgium, Abdeslam denied any involvement with militants and was set free. So was his brother Salah – a decision that Belgian authorities say was based on scant evidence that either man had terrorist intentions.

On Nov. 13, Abdeslam blew himself up at Le Comptoir Voltaire bar in Paris, killing himself and wounding one other. Salah is also a suspect in the attacks, claimed by the Islamic State, and is now on the run.

In France, an “S” (State Security) file for people suspected of being a threat to national security had been issued on Ismail Omar Mostefai, who would detonate his explosive vest inside Paris’ Bataclan concert hall. Mostefai, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, was placed on the list in 2010, French police sources say.

Competitors In Carnage: Backgrounder on the Historic Rivalry and Schism Between Al Qaeda and ISIS

November 22, 2015

A look at the rivalry between al-Qaida and IS 

CAIRO (AP) — The attack on a Mali hotel claimed by al-Qaida may have been partly aimed at asserting the global terror network’s relevance as it faces an unprecedented challenge from the Islamic State group for leadership of the global jihadi movement.

Both groups are at war with the West and committed to the revival of an Islamic caliphate, but they are furiously divided over strategy and leadership, and have battled one another in Syria.

The attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, which killed 19 people, came exactly a week after the IS group’s carnage in Paris, which killed 130 people in the bloodiest attack on France in decades.

The Mali attack, claimed by al-Qaida and a North African outfit known as Al-Mourabitoun (The Sentinels), may have been aimed at disrupting a fragile peace process with armed groups in the country’s north that had made progress in recent months.

Who Were the Paris Terrorists?

November 22, 2015

Who were the Paris attackers? Many crossed officials’ radar 

PARIS (AP) — French police and prosecutors, friends and families, and journalists have unveiled details about the men accused of carrying out the attacks in Paris. Altogether, authorities say that three teams participated in the bloody assault. At least one suspected participant remains at large.

Here’s what’s known about the suspects:



French investigators identified Belgian-born Abaaoud of Moroccan descent as the architect of the Paris attacks. A U.S. official briefed on intelligence matters said Abaaoud was a key figure in an Islamic State external operations cell that U.S. intelligence agencies have been tracking for months.

After Paris, 5 Big Foreign Policy Questions the West Must Ask Itself

November 22, 2015

It may have been the Islamic State that slaughtered 130 people in last week’s Paris terrorist attacks, but it was Vladimir Putin who emerged triumphantly from the police shields and runny red-and-blue lights. “It is time for the West to stop criticising Moscow and to form a joint coalition,” he crowed on Twitter. Right behind him was foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who declared it “simply unacceptable” to demand Bashar al-Assad’s ouster as a precondition for fighting ISIS.

Their words are grating to Western ears, not only because they’re opportunistic, but because they’re not easily brushed off. The Paris attacks have called our foreign policy into question. Whereas after 9/11 the problem was that we didn’t have a strategy to fight terrorism, after 11/13 the problem is that our strategy doesn’t appear to be working.

Recalibrating it will be a tough task, especially given the seemingly Sisyphean nature of the war on terror. Here, in no particular order, are five questions the West needs to ask itself. Some are peripheral while others cut to the heart of our foreign policy, but all are integral to the fight against ISIS terror.

Russian Military Unveils Their Swanky New War Room

Andrew Roth
November 22, 2015

It could have been a scene straight out of “Dr. Strangelove” when President Vladimir V. Putin stepped into the Russian Ministry of Defense’s brand new, three-tiered, multibillion-dollar control center this week, for a war briefing that had its fair share of movie-like pageantry.

The fortified National Control Defense Center was Putin’s first stop after officials confirmed that the Russian charter jet crash that claimed 224 lives last month was the result of an act of terror.

On movie-theater-size screens, live broadcasts showed long-range strategic bombers taking off from Russian air bases to fly sorties over Syria. Putin instructed commanders in Syria to “make contact with the French and work with them as allies” as Russia seeks a central role in a proposed anti-terrorist coalition.

But the real star of the show may have been the building itself, which is designed to be a new nerve center for the Russian military that will coordinate military action around the world, including ballistic missile launches and strategic nuclear deployments.

The XB-70: America's Mach 3 Super Bomber That Never Was

November 22, 2015

The North American XB-70 Valkyrie was the largest and fastest bomber ever built by the United States, but the massive six-engine Mach 3.0-capable jet never entered production. Only one surviving prototype sits in a museum in Dayton, Ohio, even as the Boeing B-52 it was supposed to one day replace continues to soldier on.

The idea behind the XB-70 originated in the 1950s when it was assumed ever-greater speeds and altitudes would enable American bombers to survive against Soviet air defenses unmolested on their way to delivering their doomsday payloads. At the time, the only effective defense against bombers were fighters and antiaircraft artillery. Even then, anti-aircraft guns were only marginally effective and interceptors were increasingly challenged by ever improving bomber performance.

However, with the advent of surface-to-air missiles (SAM), that began to change—the balance started to tip in favor of the defender. While the U.S. Air Force was aware of Soviet advances in SAM technology, the Pentagon didn’t start to understand the scope of the problem until Francis Gary Powers’ Lockheed U-2 spy plane was shot down while overflying the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960. But development of the XB-70 continued nonetheless.

The Russo-Iranian Missile Deal – OpEd

NOVEMBER 20, 2015

Russia’s S-300 family of surface-to-air missiles is generally acknowledged to include the most sophisticated and effective air-defence systems in the world. There are nearly 30 variations of S-300 in existence, and the PS and PM versions are, it is believed, fitted with nuclear warheads. It was more than mildly disturbing, therefore, to learn on November 9 that Russia has lifted its embargo on supplying Iran with the S-300, and that a firm contract to provide four systems is signed and sealed. What is not yet clear is when they will be delivered.

Speaking at the Dubai Airshow-2015, which ran from November 8-12, Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russia’s Rostec Corporation, the conglomerate that includes arms exporter Rosobornexport, said: “The contract for the delivery of the S-300 to Iran…has already entered into force.”

The Class War Has Already Started

by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

Here's what's obvious, but unacceptable: we need a new system.

Pundits and apologists are quick to chastise anyone who even speaks of class war, as if the words alone might spark what the pundits and apologists fear.

The pundits and apologists dread the words because they know the Class War has already started. The mainstream media's hope is that denial will somehow suppress the broader recognition that the fault lines in American society are cracking wide open.

Last week's entries explained why increasing wealth/income inequality is the only possible output of the current social- political -economic order. All the proposed "fixes"--more regulations, more taxes, more bureaucracies, etc.-- will fail because they are merely extensions of a failed system that optimizes inequality, monopoly, cronyism, stagnation, low social mobility and systemic instability.

Why Defense Acquisition Has a Need for Speed

November 23, 2015

Not since the heady days of the “revolution in military affairs” over a decade ago has reforming the Pentagon been such a central focus of Washington musings. Recently, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) kicked off a series of hearings looking at the roles and missions of the armed forces with an eye toward reducing overlap, duplication and bureaucracy.

The hearings look to build on the momentum to rethink American defense and foreign policy in the post-Obama era. How the military buys stuff will no doubt be a key topic of the debate. If the U.S. is going to outpace pressure from global competitors, the top priority for acquisition reform ought to be figuring out how to get new capabilities into the field faster.

Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees started digginginto the specifics of acquisition practices months ago. Acquisition reform also ought to be one of the next administration’s priorities for delivering better defense.

The Pitfalls of Good Guy/Bad Guy Foreign Policy

November 23, 2015

Americans have always loved the classic battles between good and evil: minutemen vs. Redcoats, the Greatest Generation vs. Hitler, Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker, Redskins vs. Cowboys (I won’t say who’s good and who’s evil). We like the clean lines that allow us to love and support the good guy while hating and opposing the bad guy. No complications, no difficult moral decisions to make. Such is the case in Syria today: we support the “moderate” rebels—the good guys; we oppose ISIS and Assad—the bad guys. What would happen, however, if we discovered the battle wasn’t between good and evil, but rather between one group with bloody hands and another with really bloody hands?

Since Syria’s civil war began major media outlets have routinely reported on the barbaric atrocities committed by Assad’s forces against the civil population. Only rarely, however, do these same outlets report on the war crimes frequently committed by the opposition groups we support. But these crimes are neither minor nor isolated. A few examples:

Operation Morning Light: The Nuclear Satellite That Almost Decimated America

November 23, 2015

If you remember the late 1970s, you'll recall two major events: Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Popular American culture in 1978 and 1979 embraced the now-common tropes of shadowy government agencies, arrivals from space and and tiger teams responding to nuclear emergencies.

Lending credence to these pop culture tropes was a real-life Cold War incident involving crashing satellites, radioactive contamination and some of the worst weather on Earth. A near-disaster created a golden opportunity for nuclear incident response training, and still pays dividends today—while the source of the problem still lurks in our skies.

Both sides' satellites played crucial roles during the Soviet Navy's surge in strength in the 1970s. American satellites tracked Soviet naval deployments, while the Soviets returned the favor. Soviet high-powered low-orbit radar satellites, called RORSATS in the West, used small nuclear reactors to supply the radars' big power needs. The low orbits precluded solar panels, due to drag: even a wisp of atmosphere at those altitudes could pull the satellite down.

Mobile Subscriptions To Outnumber The World's Population

by Felix Richter, Statista.com

The mobile revolution passed another milestone this year.

According to Ericsson's most recent Mobility Report, the number of mobile subscriptions now outnumbers the world's population. You heard that right: there are more mobile subscriptions than people living on this planet. According to Ericsson's estimates, the number of mobile subscriptions stood at 7.3 billion at the end of September and will grow to 7.4 billion by the end of the year. Meanwhile the world's population will climb to 7.35 billion by the end of 2015 according to the United Nations' projections.

The fact that many people have multiple active or inactive subscriptions more than makes up for the fact that many people still live without a mobile phone. Ericsson puts the number of actual subscribers at 4.9 billion, leaving 2.4 billion people disconnected.

France Needs to Push for Activation of NATO’s Article V—Now

November 23, 2015

After the vicious attacks conducted in Paris, France has sought the support of the European Union to intensify the fight against terrorism and, in particular, the self-proclaimed Islamic state known as Daesh. While this is good, it is not enough. Paris should also request the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Three days after the attacks, France invoked Article 42.7 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty. This article states that “if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power.” It is the first time that an EU member state has invoked this clause.

F-35 Too Expensive: US Air Force Might Buy 72 New F-15 or F-16 Fighter Jets

November 21, 2015

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter might not be produced in sufficient numbers to maintain the U.S. Air Force’s current operational capabilities due to budgetary constraints, according to Aerospace Daily & Defense Report. As a result the service is considering filling the capabilities gap with 72 Boeing F-15s, Lockheed-Martin F-16’s, or even Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

“F-15s and F-16s are now expected to serve until 2045, when an all-new aircraft will be ready, and plans to modernize F-16s with active electronically scanned array radars and other improvements are being revived,” the article states.

U.S. Air Force officials and industry officials revealed as much at the Defense IQ International Fighter Conference, which took place November 17-19 in London. The U.S. Air Force “is struggling to afford 48 F-35s a year” for the first years of full-rate production a senior Air Force officer told Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

Rewriting History in South Korea

By Patrick Thomsen
November 20, 2015

There is a storm raging over Seoul’s decision to “unify” history textbooks. This mandate allows only government-sanctioned content, effectively erasing any digression in the interpretation of historical events in South Korea’s development miracle.

The textbook controversy does not surprise many who have condemned the South Korean state’s record on human rights violations in the past. The ushering in of democracy in 1987 promised much for the Korean people, but this promise has failed to extend to many social and political human rights – mostly due to the use of the security threat discourse.

Korea’s perpetual security dilemma has inscribed particular elements to its national DNA. The result is a political system in which politicians seek regime legitimacy and social order at all costs – including at the expense of human rights.