27 November 2015

War on ISIS: What’s the Endgame?


Nobody’s focused on winning the peace. That’s a big problem.
A mural in the town of Kafranbel depicts stages of the Syrian conflict.Khalil Ashawi / Reuters
NOV 24, 2015 

In August 1941, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met off the coast of Newfoundland to outline a shared vision for the post-World War II era. The British prime minister was so thrilled to see the American president that, in the words of one official, “You’d have thought he was being carried up into the heavens to meet God.” The two countries issued the Atlantic Charter, which sought “a better future for the world” through the principles of self-determination, collective security, and free trade. The United States hadn’t even entered the war yet, but it was already focused on winning the peace. The endgame was not just the defeat of the Axis powers, but also the creation of a stable global order, in which World War II would be the last world war.

Today, the United States is contemplating a major expansion of its military campaign against ISIS. Driven partly by faith that the end times are imminent, ISIS has stepped up expeditionary attacks outside its caliphate, including the bombing of a Russian jet over Egypt, a suicide attack in Lebanon, and coordinated assaults in Paris.

In the struggle against ISIS, however, far from preparing for the postwar world, U.S. politicians haven’t shown much interest in long-term thinking. Instead, the debate is fixated on immediate tactical questions, or which hill to capture. Who is planning for a better peace?

China Is Setting Up Its First Military Base in Africa


Dave Majumdar, November 24, 2015

The People’s Republic of China is setting up its first military base in Africa as it continues its evolution into a global superpower. Beijing has signed a ten-year leasing agreement with Djibouti to build a logistical hub in that nation, which is located in the Horn of Africa.

“They are going to build a base in Djibouti, so that will be their first military location in Africa," U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Africa Command, recently told defense reporters according to The Hill’s Kristina Wong.

It was only a matter of time before China set up overseas bases in the region. Beijing has enormous economic interests in the region that it needs to protect. China has set up deals to supply its growing economy—which even as it slows down is expanding at close to seven percent per annum—with raw materials.

University suspends yoga class, citing 'cultural issues' that may offend students


Published November 23, 2015

A yoga instructor who teaches at the University of Ottawa says she is fighting to keep her program alive after the school’s student body suspended it over concerns that “cultural issues” relating to the class could offend students.

Jennifer Scharf, who has been offering free weekly sessions at the university’s Center for Students with Disabilities since 2008, told the Ottawa Sun that she was informed in September that the program would not come back for the fall semester.

In an email exchange between Scharf and a representative of the university’s Student Federation -- which was viewed by the newspaper -- a student wrote that “while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students... there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice.

"Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," the email continues, and which cultures those practices "are being taken from."



On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled Britain’s new National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review in the House of Commons. It marked the first time the United Kingdom has undertaken a review of its strategy and security within the new five-year schedule. This edition is also notable in that it combines the National Security Strategy (NSS) and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which were previously two separate documents. True to its name, the NSS outlines the perceived threats to Britain and its vision for dealing with them, while the SDSR details how the armed forces are configured to execute this vision.

These developments point to a realization in the United Kingdom that it must be more flexible and responsive in terms of setting strategy and defense priorities. After introducing the NSS in 2010 in the wake of criticism that Britain “couldn’t do strategy,” the Conservative government clearly feels it now makes sense to present both policies in a single document. Similarly, the overarching tone of the document is one of internationality. Britain clearly believes it will be working with the United States and France especially closely in the future. But what is inside, and what does it mean?

The NSS related-chapters outline the usual myriad of threats commonly listed in the post-Cold War era. Based on the security services’ National Security Risk Assessment, these threats are then classed into tiers. Tier One risks are the highest priority based on high likelihood and/or high impact. Reflecting the impact of threats and hazards, and the development of risks since 2010, the latest assessment includes a greater number of Tier One risks than in 2012. These are listed in order as terrorism, cyber, international military conflict (rising since 2010), instability overseas (Tier Two in 2010), public health (a new addition), and natural disasters. Interestingly, the general erosion of international order and resulting chaos also makes a more significant appearance.

Going beyond the OROP imbroglio

Deepak Sinha
26 November 2015

The watered down version of One Rank One Pension that has been notified not only suffers from grave infirmities, it is not in consonance with the definition approved by Parliament, and earlier promised. Also, the directions of the Supreme Court in the case of Maj Gen SPS Vains (Retd) and Others, that lays down guiding principles required to be observed with regard to military pensions, have not been followed. The utter arrogance with which the Defence Minister defended the notification, imputed political motives and excessive greed on the part of the agitating veterans was completely uncalled for and insulting. These accusations have not gone down well with the veteran community and the Government has lost the trust of, not just the majority of veterans, but also of serving personnel. 

However, Prime Minister Modi can still redeem himself in their eyes if he has the strength of character to be generous, flexible and farsighted and is willing to resolve the OROP fiasco and, more importantly, look beyond it. If he is serious about his developmental agenda, he should consider the potential that can be unleashed if the veteran community of disciplined, literate and skilled manpower is utilised. At present, there are approximately 25 lakh veterans, with another 50,000 joining their ranks annually — most in their mid-30s or early 40s. 

As majority of these veterans spend large portions of their service career away from home and family, they tend to be reluctant to move away from their villages to look for second careers. Given that it is rural areas that face challenges with availability of skilled manpower and last mile connectivity, this resource, if properly harnessed, the veteran community can be a game-changer and the difference between success and failure of Mr Modi's development initiative. 

What to Expect After the Downing of a Russian Fighter Jet

Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet in Syria has raised the stakes in an already crowded and complicated conflict. The Nov. 24 incident will also likely undermine efforts to find a solution to the country's protracted civil war.

Since Syrian air defenses intercepted a Turkish aircraft on June 22, 2012, resulting in its destruction and the deaths of its two pilots, the Turkish air force has maintained an assertive stance toward aircraft that violate Turkey's border with Syria. On Sept. 16, 2013, Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian Mi-17 helicopter that flew into Turkish airspace; about six months later, a Syrian MiG-23 that reportedly strayed into Turkey's airspace met a similar fate.

The number and frequency of incidents in the air above the Turkey-Syria border have risen since Russia's Sept. 30 intervention into the Syrian conflict. Turkey has lodged many complaints against both Russia and Syria, alleging numerous airspace violations (including one confirmed by Russia in which an Su-30 accidentally crossed into Turkey) and the harassment of Turkish aircraft patrolling the border region.

Over the past week, as Russian forces backed several loyalist offensives against rebels in the area, Russia's aerial activity near the Turkey-Syria border has been particularly high. The rebel groups, including the 1st Coastal Division, the 2nd Coastal Brigade and the Sham Brigade, contain a large number of Turkmen fighters and are closely linked to and supported by Turkey, further stoking Ankara's anger over Moscow's presence in Syria.

A blocked path to development


By Raymond Zhong
RAJKOT, India—For nearly half a century, Laljibhai Gajjar ran factories making diesel engines and parts in and around this sleepy industrial city. But after Chinese products began swallowing up the market, he found another calling. He laid off 100 workers and started selling Hyundais.

Behind his bustling car showroom stands all that remains of his manufacturing operations: a crumbling workshop in which two dozen employees now assemble metal-stamping machines. Orders are dwindling. One of these days, Mr. Gajjar said, he’ll shut that down, too.
Mr. Gajjar’s downsizing is part of a phenomenon in India and other poor countries, where the world’s population is growing most quickly, that is alarming many economists.

The U.S. and Europe—and East Asia more recently—first got rich because of their factories. Over time, as incomes rose and their economies became more sophisticated, they shifted into modern services like health care and finance.
But today, parts of South Asia, Africa and Latin America are failing to create thriving manufacturing sectors even though their wages remain low. Manufacturing employment and output are peaking and declining at vastly lower levels of income and development than they did in the West.

Bid to treat OROP issue as trivial is mischievous and dangerous, says navy ex-chief

Full text of a letter to the prime minister, president and heads of political parties from Admiral (retired) L Ramdas.

Bid to treat OROP issue as trivial is mischievous and dangerous, says navy ex-chief

Any attempt to claim that the armed forces are playing politics over the the One Rank One Pension scheme is mishchievous and dangerous, L Ramdas, who served as chief of the Indian Navy between 1990 and 1993, has said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, and the heads of political parties.
"The current impasse over the One Rank One Pension scheme needs to be resolved as quickly as possible so that stability and morale of the armed forces can be restored," the former Chief of Naval Staff wrote, citing recent terror attacks around the world for the need to be particularly alert.

One Rank One Pension, or OROP, implies payment of a uniform pension to personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. At present, pensioners who retired before 2006 draw a lower pension than their counterparts and juniors who retired later.
The long-pending OROP for ex-servicemen was brought into force on November 7, with the government issuing a notification to benefit more than 25 lakh veterans and war widows. However, protesting ex-servicemen rejected the notification, saying their main demands had not been accepted.

Ramdas said that the perception that it is officialdom had intervened to destroy the original spirit and intentions of OROP is now widely accepted. He called for an examination of the “the steady and noticeable erosion of the military vis-a-vis the civilian bureaucracy since independence”.

Here is the full text of his letter:

Honourable President of India, Honourable Prime Minister, and heads of political parties,

Seven years later, India isn't any better prepared to face another 26/11


Seven years later, India isn't any better prepared to face another 26/11
Despite earnest promises from the government, little has been done to improve coordination between intelligence agencies to ward off attacks or the ability of police forces to respond to them.
Ajai Sahni ·
Several commentators writing in the wake of the Paris attacks have claimed that the Islamic State or Daesh has now, abruptly, transformed its purpose and agenda from fighting the “near enemy” to attacking the “far enemy”, and that this constitutes a radical threat across the world. Many in India have followed this argument to proclaim an dramatic threat escalation to this country as well. They have cited as authority a Union Ministry of Home Affairs assessment warning that an Islamic State-backed attack was possible in India (what isn’t?).

The language of the advisory is significant. It warns that the “success in radicalising some youth and attracting certain sections of the local population or Indian diaspora to physically participate in its activities, or the possibility of piggy-backing on terrorist groups operating in India, have opened up the possibility of ISIS-sponsored terrorist action on Indian territory” (emphasis added). States and agencies are consequently called upon to take necessary preventive measures to counter “potential threats, if any”. Officials are reported to have clarified, “There was no fresh input or threat assessed from the outfit. The threat remains at the level as it was before the Paris attacks.” Clearly, the home affairs ministry issued the advisory as a measure of abundant caution, to ensure that intelligence and enforcement agencies are not caught off-guard. There is, however, no specific intelligence suggesting escalating threats.
As regards the “dramatic shift” in Daesh’s agenda after Paris, there is none. Daesh’s objectives were global from the outset. It is, nevertheless, clear that Daesh is now in a position to deploy assets or mobilise sympathetic elements in a wider arc across the world. There have been widely dispersed and tactically varied attacks by, or inspired by, Daesh across at least 17 countries outside the “core areas” of Iraq and Syria – including the downing of the Russian Metrojet aircraft over Egypt on November 4, the bombing in Beirut on November 12 and, closer home, a number of killings of writers and bloggers in Bangladesh in recent months.

OROP: Will this misinformation campaign ever end?


November 26, 2015,  V Mahalingam  TOI

Does freedom of speech bestow on anyone the right to distort facts and spread misinformation by putting out unverified and unsubstantiated information couched in some form of communication to bring about disillusionment against a group of people? That precisely seems to have happened when a media network published a narrative labeling it an opinion.

A query is raised in the article which claims that “a section is beginning to wonder if soldiers are being too greedy if they are totally disgruntled after the government raised pensions that will cost the taxpayer up to Rs 10,000 crore a year to start with and much more later”. Pray tell us how has anyone come to the figure of Rs 10,000 crores as the initial cost of OROP to the exchequer?

The defence minister is on record to assert “Some people say OROP has a huge cost burden, but I would say OROP is merely 2.29% of the total defence outlay.” What does that translate into in real terms? The defence outlay (click Defence under Sectoral Highlights) for the FY 2015 – 16 is Rs 2,46,727 crores and 2.29 % makes just Rs 5650 crores. This is the defence minister’s statement as late as September 5, 2015. Is the author’s source of information more authentic than the Union defence minister? “What does much more later” mean? Does it not imply that the subsequent expenditure would exceed Rs 10,000 crores a year? Are these figures truthful by any yardstick?

Why the IS survives


On Saturday, November 14, Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) claimed responsibility for the attacks on the French capital, indicating that they would be the “first of the storm”.
Written by Frederic Grare | Updated: November 23, 2015 12:49 am

A bullet hole in the window of the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, where attacks took place on Friday. (AP Photo)

On Friday, November 13, France was struck by its second terrorist attack in less than a year. Three teams, including at least seven participants, attacked six sites in Paris, including the surroundings of the iconic Stade de France, where French President Francois Hollande was attending a soccer match; the Bataclan, a popular theatre where a concert was taking place that evening; and the terraces of several cafés where people had assembled on a particularly mild November night. The attacks left 129 people dead and 352 injured.

On Saturday, November 14, Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) claimed responsibility for the attacks on the French capital, indicating that they would be the “first of the storm”. The French president confirmed the IS’s responsibility, calling the attacks “the terrorism of war”. In response to the attacks, he announced the intensification of air strikes against the IS in Syria. Raqqa, the Syrian city known to shelter the IS headquarters, was immediately bombed.

The 26/11 Mumbai Attack: Was it a Preventable Tragedy?

The 26/11 Mumbai Attack: Was it a Preventable Tragedy?
The audacious and diabolic attack by the sea-borne terrorists on the iconic targets of Mumbai on 26 November 2008 stunned the nation like it had never been before. The sixty-hour-long tragic mayhem was witnessed across the world. It was a frontal attack by the terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) which openly declares its avowed objective to disintegrate India. The attack resulted in the tragic deaths of 166 people from India, the USA, the UK, Israel, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Thailan .. 

Read more at:

Is There a Method to ISIS’s Madness?


Why trying to think like the Islamic State is so hard—and risky.

NOV 23, 2015 

In killing 130 civilians in Paris—the worst such attack in France since World War II—ISIS has forced us to contend, once again, with the question of the “rationality” of self-professed ideologues. Since it wrested the world’s attention with its capture of Iraq’s second-largest city in June 2014, the extremist group has prioritized state-building over fighting far enemies abroad. This is what distinguished ISIS: It wasn’t just, or even primarily, a terrorist organization. It had an unusually pronounced interest in governance. As Yale University’s Andrew March and Mara Revkin lay out in considerable detail, the group focused its energy on developing fairly elaborate institutional structures in the territory it controlled within Iraq and Syria. ISIS wasn’t simply making things up as it went along. It may have been mad, but there was a method to the madness.

Yes, ISIS Is Winning the ‘War of Ideas’But why, then, attack France—one of the more militarily aggressive Western powers—and potentially provoke a massive retaliatory response that would threaten the very “caliphate” it had spent so much time building? Care is needed in drawing conclusions from this apparent shift in targeting. ISIS has always had international ambitions; it was more a question of when, not if. Part of the challenge is in divining why exactly ISIS chose to stage these attacks at this particular time. And this raises a difficult set of questions: To what extent, in the wake of the Paris attacks, should ISIS be thought of as rational, and how, in turn, should that inform efforts to understand the group and develop a strategy to counter it?
The attack on France may very well prove to be ISIS’s first obvious, huge mistake, at least from a caliphate-building perspective. That said, while many outside observers might think ISIS made a major miscalculation, the group—or whatever part of it directed the attack—probably doesn’t agree. Otherwise, why would they have done it?

* * * For a remarkably brutal, absolutist, and apocalyptic organization, ISIS had pursued a strategy that was deliberate, insistent, and ultimately successful. It was able to carry out, as Charles Lister writes, “a very methodical and multi-staged strategy of recovery, growth, expansion, and consolidation.” Yet, it was also fond of its apocalyptic fantasies, which featured prominently in the group’s propaganda and even seemed to affect specific battlefield decisions. ISIS’s state-building and messianism coexisted in uneasy tension. There was little to suggest this was sustainable in the long run (although, as ever, it raises the question of how long the long run is). As Will McCants, author of The ISIS Apocalypse, put it to me recently: “The caliphate may require caution but the apocalypse requires abandon.” Can an individual—or, for that matter, an entire organization—be, at once, both cautious and in the throes of reckless abandon?



The jihadist slaughter over the last three weeks seems senseless. The self-proclaimed Islamic State killed 224 on a Russian airliner, 43 in Beirut, over 120 in Paris, and around 20 in Bamako. How could religious people in pursuit of paradise believe it’s acceptable to take innocent life? How could rational people in pursuit of power believe it is smart to create enemies on all sides?

Many of the answers are found in a strategy manual written by an al-Qaeda sympathizer over a decade ago called The Management of Savagery. The book is revered by al-Qaeda and Islamic State operatives, despite their antipathy for each other. It was one of the first jihadist texts I translated, in an effort to enlighten myself and others about the rationale behind the 9/11 attacks. I have turned to it often since then to help me make sense of violent events like those we have seen in recent weeks.

The author, the pseudonymous Abu Bakr Naji, does not spend much time religiously justifying violent revolution. The Prophet Mohammed, he observes, waged a war against the tribal powers of his day to establish a state. The more pressing questions are which kinds of violence are sanctioned by scripture and when are they effective.
Naji initially argues that Muslim revolutionaries cannot fight freely the way non-Muslim revolutionaries can because scripture restricts their actions. For example, Mohammed forbade attacks on noncombatants, which makes it tough to wage a terrorist campaign. But these restrictions are not insurmountable, Naji contends. They can be ignored on Islamic grounds if the situation is dire and the enemy is ruthless. In the end, Muslims can choose whatever tactics they like.

The pretend war: why bombing Isil won't solve the problem


The deployment of our military might in Syria will exacerbate regional disorder – and it will solve nothing
Andrew J. Bacevich, 28 November 2015

Not so long ago, David Cameron declared that he was not some ‘naive neocon who thinks you can drop democracy out of an aeroplane at 40,000 feet’. Just a few weeks after making that speech, Cameron authorised UK forces to join in the bombing of Libya — where the outcome reaffirmed this essential lesson.

Soon Cameron will ask parliament to share his ‘firm conviction’ that bombing Raqqa, the Syrian headquarters of the Islamic State, has become ‘imperative’. At first glance, the case for doing so appears compelling. The atrocities in Paris certainly warrant a response. With François Hollande having declared his intention to ‘lead a war which will be pitiless’, other western nations can hardly sit on their hands; as with 9/11 and 7/7, the moment calls for solidarity. And since the RAF is already targeting Isis in Iraq, why not extend the operation to the other side of the elided border? What could be easier?

But it’s harder to establish what expanding the existing bombing campaign further will actually accomplish. Is Britain engaged in what deserves to be called a war, a term that implies politically purposeful military action? Or is the Cameron government — and the Hollande government as well — merely venting its anger, and thereby concealing the absence of clear-eyed political purpose?

Britain and France each once claimed a place among the world’s great military powers. Whether either nation today retains the will (or the capacity) to undertake a ‘pitiless’ war — presumably suggesting a decisive outcome at the far end — is doubtful. The greater risk is that, by confusing war with punishment, they exacerbate the regional disorder to which previous western military interventions have contributed.

The Refugees & the New War


Egyptians attending a vigil at the Giza pyramids, near Cairo, for the victims of the recent attacks—claimed by ISIS—on Paris, Beirut, and the Russian passenger jet that exploded over the Sinai Peninsula, November 15, 2015

Strategists will tell you that it is a mistake to fight the battle your enemies want you to fight. You should impose your strategy on them, not let them impose theirs on you. These lessons apply to the struggle with the leaders of ISIS. We have applied pressure upon them in Syria; they have replied with atrocious attacks in Ankara, Beirut, and now Paris. They are trying to provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with the Crusader infidels. We should deny them this opportunity. 

ISIS wants to convince the world of the West’s indifference to the suffering of Muslims; so we should demonstrate the opposite. ISIS wants to drag Syria ever further into the inferno; so ending the Syrian war should become the first priority of the Obama administration’s final year in office. Already Secretary of State John Kerry has brought together the Russians, Iranians, and Saudis to develop the outlines of a transition in Syria. Sooner rather than later, no matter how difficult this may prove, the meetings in Vienna will have to include representatives of the Syrian regime and non-ISIS Syrian fighters. The goal would be to establish a ceasefire between the regime and its opponents, so that the fight against ISIS can be waged to a conclusion and displaced Syrians can return home. Destroying the ISIS project to establish a caliphate will not put an end to jihadi nihilism, but it will decisively erode ISIS’s ideological allure. 

Bangladesh Is Taking The Fight To Islamists, Will Bengal Step Up?

Poulasta Chakraborty,  24 Nov, 2015 

Bangladesh has recently executed two leaders convicted of war crimes during the ’71 war. By doing so it has sent out an unambiguous message to Islamists. Will the West Bengal government too gather the courage to take on the Islamist radicals?
Our eastern neighbour Bangladesh is on high alert since Sunday after executing two politicians for war crimes committed during the country’s war of independence in 1971.

Circumstances are such due to threats of violence by the supporters of the executed leaders—Jamaat-e-Islami’s general secretary, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, and Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury.
Both leaders had been found guilty on charges of genocide, conspiracy in killing intellectuals, torture and genocide.

Although at present the Jamaat-e-Islami has been deregistered by the Bangladesh High Court, authorities are being watchful after a spate of killings claimed by Islamist extremists including the murders of four bloggers, a publisher and two foreigners since February this year. All the perpetrators had been associated with Jamaat-e-Islami. The party itself has a very chequered past, as will be explained below.

This Islamic revivalist organization was founded in 1941 by an Islamic scholar from Hyderabad named Maulana Abul Ala Maududi. Known at the time as Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, this organization fervently opposed the Partition of India. But the opposition was not out of secular leanings but due to fear that it would divide the massive Muslim populace of the subcontinent.

The War on ISIS: What’s the Endgame?



Nobody’s focused on winning the peace. That’s a big problem.

In August 1941, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met off the coast of Newfoundland to outline a shared vision for the post-World War II era. The British prime minister was so thrilled to see the American president that, in the words of one official, “You’d have thought he was being carried up into the heavens to meet God.” The two countries issued the Atlantic Charter, which sought “a better future for the world” through the principles of self-determination, collective security, and free trade. The United States hadn’t even entered the war yet, but it was already focused on winning the peace. The endgame was not just the defeat of the Axis powers, but also the creation of a stable global order, in which World War II would be the last world war.

Today, the United States is contemplating a major expansion of its military campaign against ISIS. Driven partly by faith that the end times are imminent, ISIS has stepped up expeditionary attacks outside its caliphate, including the bombing of a Russian jet over Egypt, a suicide attack in Lebanon, and coordinated assaults in Paris.

In the struggle against ISIS, however, far from preparing for the postwar world, U.S. politicians haven’t shown much interest in long-term thinking. Instead, the debate is fixated on immediate tactical questions, or which hill to capture. Who is planning for a better peace?

China Tests New Hypersonic Weapon


China has conducted yet another test of a hypersonic glide vehicle designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses. 
By Franz-Stefan Gady, November 26, 2015

This week, the People’s Republic of China successfully conducted a sixth flight test of its DF-ZF (previously known as WU-14) hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), Bill Gertz of The Washington Free Beacon reports.

The DF-ZF is an ultra-high-speed missile allegedly capable of penetrating U.S. air defense systems based on interceptor missiles.

The launch of the DF-ZF took place at the Wuzhai missile test center in central China’s Shanxi Province. A ballistic missile transported the DF-ZF HGV near the edge of the atmosphere, where it separated from its launcher and then glided to an impact range a few thousands kilometers away in western China, according toThe Washington Free Beacon.

“The DF-ZF flight was tracked by U.S. intelligence agencies and flew at speeds beyond Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound,” Gertz notes. Previous tests of the DF-ZF took place on June 7, January 9, and August 7, 2015, and December 2, 2014.

As I noted in my previous piece, the DF-ZF warhead is carried to the boundary between space and Earth’s atmosphere, approximately 100 km above the ground, by a large ballistic missile booster. Once it reaches that height, it begins to glide in a relatively flat trajectory by executing a pull-up maneuver and accelerates to speeds of up to Mach 10.

The gliding phase enables the HGV not only to maneuver aerodynamically – performing evasive actions and evading interception – but also extends the range of the missile.
Furthermore, I explained:

World War III

NOV. 26, 2015

“Mommy, please tell me again, how did World War I begin?”

“Sweetheart, I already told you, that was long ago. A century is a very long time.”

“But, Mommy, please.”

“Well, it’s complicated. Do you really, really want to know?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“It’s a sad story. The world was organized in one way, and that way collapsed, and in the process millions of people were killed.”

“Wow. How was it organized before?”

“There were things called empires. They controlled vast territories full of different peoples, and some of these peoples wanted to rule themselves rather than be governed by a faraway emperor.”

“The Austro-Hungarian Empire was one of them. It had lots of grand palaces in its capital, Vienna, where people danced at fancy balls. It governed parts of a poor corner of Europe called the Balkans where its rule was disliked. One day in 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife were assassinated in a Balkan city called Sarajevo by a young man, a Bosnian Serb, who wanted the freedom of the south Slavs from imperial rule.”Continue reading the

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

“That’s sad, Mommy. Guess the music stopped. But so what?”

“The empire got really angry. It told Serbia to do a bunch of things or face war. The ruler in Vienna was confident because he had a close friend, a rising power called Germany. Serbia also had a good buddy, a country called Russia, which is big. Anyway, Serbia kind of dithered around, like you with homework, so Austria-Hungary went to war against it.”

“And then?”

Islamic State's Achilles' heel: Its Sunni identity


Sunni volunteer fighters parade through Khalidiya, located 60 miles west of Baghdad, as they prepare to support Iraqi security forces in liberating the city of Ramadi from Islamic State group militants on Oct. 10.
Max Boot

The "Islamic" identity of Islamic State has understandably attracted a lot of notice. There is no question that it is a fanatical group with a twisted religious ideology at the core of its identity. And it is the appeal of that ideology, along with the sheer thrill of adventure, that leads foreigners — in the summer, one estimate was 1,000 a month — to go to Iraq and Syria to join its ranks. It is also responsible, of course, for motivating terrorists to carry out the mass shootings and bombings in Paris, the bombing of a Russian Metrojet airliner and suicide bombings in Beirut.
The Sunni ethnic identity is both a source of strength for Islamic State and a potentially fatal weakness, if it can be properly exploited.- 

But Islamic State has another identity as well, one that is more important for those who actually live under its "caliphate." It is a Sunni Arab supremacist group that champions perceived Sunni Arab interests against those of Kurds (who are also Sunnis), Shiite Muslims, Alawites, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups in Iraq and Syria. Those interests are as much political and ethnic as they are religious.

All of this helps explain why so many former Baathists — predominantly Sunni Arabs — are so prominent in its ranks, especially members of Saddam Hussein's intelligence services. They see Islamic State as the best way to reassert their traditional dominance in Iraq, which they lost with Hussein's downfall. In Syria, Sunnis were sidelined even earlier, with the rise in 1971 of Hafez Assad, father of current dictator Bashar Assad, who, under the cloak of Syria's own Baathist party, instituted de facto rule by his extended family, all Alawites (an offshoot of Shiite Islam).

John Bolton: To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State

By JOHN R. BOLTONNOV. 24, 2015
America is debating how to respond to the terrorist attacks in Paris. Unfortunately, both President Obama’s current policy and other recent proposals lack a strategic vision for the Middle East once the Islamic State, or ISIS, is actually defeated. There are no answers, or only outmoded ones, to the basic question: What comes after the Islamic State?

Before transforming Mr. Obama’s ineffective efforts into a vigorous military campaign to destroy the Islamic State, we need a clear view, shared with NATO allies and others, about what will replace it. It is critical to resolve this issue before considering any operational plans. Strategy does not come from the ground up; instead, tactics flow deductively once we’ve defined the ultimate objectives.

Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan.

Gauging the Many Risks Europe Faces


Posted by Andy Langenkamp on November 24, 2015

Luxembourg's minister of foreign affairs has warned that Europe may only have a couple of months left to prevent the European Union's collapse. He even suggested that we could witness a European war in our times. And that was before the Paris attacks. The tragedy in France shows once again the increasing importance of non-state actors on the international stage. Apart from the human tragedy, the regrettable result will be a stronger trend toward isolationism, nationalism, and populism.

The European Union has until now provided Europe with the necessary ingredients to muddle through an assortment of crises. However, to be successful at muddling through, nations need to be able to strike political compromises. It is becoming increasingly difficult to come up with grand bargains that politicians are willing to take home and sell to their voters. Such bargains will be indispensable to address the challenges the Union is currently facing, including the risks of terrorism, the refugee crisis, Putin's assertiveness, an incomplete monetary union, and populism.

Turbulent closure of 2015

To get a sense of which risks Europe faces, it helps to categorise these risks into three timeframes: the short-term, the medium-term (running through 2016) and the long-term risks (the coming years).




One year from now, somewhere in a small suite of offices at the Pentagon, a team of civil servants, military officers, and a smattering of outside civilians will be hard at work preparing for the arrival of the next secretary of defense (SecDef) and his or her top advisors.

Republican or Democrat, the next SecDef will face a daunting set of challenges. He or she will inherit ongoing operations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, rising military tensions with Russia and China, a global counterterrorism campaign, and other inevitable global hotspots.

The next SecDef will also assume management of one of the largest organizations in the world. The Department of Defense (DoD) employs nearly 3 million uniformed and civilian personnel; spends more than $600 billion a year; contains dozens of huge organizations like the military services and regional combatant commands; and sustains a massive logistics architecture and a global network of military bases — all of which enable the use of American military power. A new SecDef will simultaneously assume responsibility for managing a $50-billion healthcare system, preparing for contingencies ranging from natural disasters to cyber attacks to conventional war, and signing the orders to send men and women in uniform into harm’s way. No preparation will ever be adequate, but preparation is key nonetheless.

TRADOC Commander: Ethics Must Come First as Army Employs New Technology


By Yasmin Tadjdeh

HALIFAX, Canada — As the Army takes advantage of advancements in artificial intelligence, automation and biotechnology, it must keep ethics at the forefront, said the commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

“The first thing we focus on with regards to any capability we give our soldiers … starts actually when they come to basic training,” said Gen. David Perkins. “We give classes on what we call the Army profession and values before they ever go to the rifle range.”

Whether it is artificial intelligence, neuro-prosthetics or unmanned systems, these new technologies “are a way to reduce collateral damage because we can discriminate much better,” he said during a panel discussion at the Halifax International Security Forum Nov. 22.

Neuro-prosthetics are brain implants that can potentially improve the performance of a soldier, said Annie Jacobsen, an investigative journalist and author of “The Pentagon’s Brain,” a book about work being done at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“DoD has been involved in this area, biotechnology, for 25 years. So the people I think are behind the curve and DoD is way ahead of the curve particularly with DARPA,” she said. Brain implants could enable faster reaction times for soldiers, or could help troops recognize targets from satellite photos, she said.

Perkins said he was on board with such technology, but noted that it was all about how it is used. “Quite honestly I’m less interested in putting a chip in their brain than I am making sure the soldier doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder,” he said. “There are lots of ways to improve their cognitive capability. We have a performance triad which is nutrition, exercise, sleep. Those things have nothing to do with microprocessors.”

Battle Staff Made Human


Everything we do in the Army seems somehow dehumanizing. We remove individual identity at basic training, in order to meld individuals into a cohesive group. Individuals are referred to by their rank or just their last name. Our entire careers can be summed up on one or two sheets of paper (usually incorrectly). While this is often best for the team, it can make it hard to relate the military experience to civilians.

This becomes even harder when you are serving on battalion staff, where you can’t even say, “So, you know how in Saving Private Ryan there was the guy with the sniper rifle? Yeah, I was not that guy, but the one who dies in the first five minutes.” Battle staff is complicated and annoying, and that’s just for the folks who are working on staff; explaining the concept to civilians is even more difficult (it doesn’t help that the Army nests headquarters within existing companies, meaning I have to explain to my mom that, no, being the company executive officer does not mean that I’m in charge of the battalion commander, even though he is in my company).

In order to save us all a headache and make comprehension simple, I have developed this handy comparison tool. Share it with your civilian friends if you happen to be on staff. They will immediately understand your pain.

5 Reasons Why Military Spouses Are Badass


By Sarah Sicard, on November 24, 2015

Military spouses, though having taken no oath of service to the government, make a different kind of promise to serve. 

By marrying into the military, these spouses pledge to support their service member for life, through all the deployments, relocations, and transitions. They face everyday hardships head on and persevere in service of their spouses, children, and the country. With inexplicable courage, military spouses rise above the adversity of frequent moves, single parenthood, and self-sacrifice in order to keep hold everything together while their husbands and wives serve.

Here are five reasons why military spouses kick ass.

1. They have patience — extreme patience.

Six-month, 12-month, 18-month deployments? The military spouse has done it all. More than 2 millionAmericans have been deployed overseas since 2001. Their spouses make the effort to schedule late-night Skype sessions, send care packages, and write letters to stay close to their spouses abroad. They know it isn’t easy to be in long-distance relationships, but they support their spouses wherever they serve. Military spouses don’t take the time they have with their husbands and wives for granted — every minute together counts.

2. They are strong.

2015 Global Terrorism Index

A comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 15 years with a special emphasis on 2014.

Four Modest Ideas to Degrade ISIS’ Media Apparatus


Aki Peritz, ON NOVEMBER 23 | 

Greg Miller and Souad Mekhennet coauthored a fascinating article in the Washington Post last week about ISIS’ media wing, making the group the social media juggernaut that counterterrorism professionals have come to both respect and loathe. By interviewing ISIS defectors in a Moroccan prison, they note:

Camera crews fan out across the caliphate every day, their ubiquitous presence distorting the events they purportedly document. Battle scenes and public beheadings are so scripted and staged that fighters and executioners often perform multiple takes and read their lines from cue cards.
Cameras, computers and other video equipment arrive in regular shipments from Turkey. They are delivered to a media division dominated by foreigners — including at least one American, according to those interviewed — whose production skills often stem from previous jobs they held at news channels or technology companies.

Based on the article, here are four ways the U.S. could degrade ISIS’ fearsome media apparatus—right now:

1. Follow the personnel. The U.S. has significant aerial presence over ISIS territory; there are camera crews going out to tape almost every day. Given these crews are identifiable due to the new Toyota Hilux trucks that ISIS issues to them, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one out on a mission. Once the crew has been identified, it should be simple enough to follow them around until they eventually return to a media branch office scattered throughout Syria/Iraq, or even to ISIS’ media HQ in Aleppo.

Then, wait for an all-staff meeting. Like any bureaucracy, ISIS holds meetings. One indicator will be multiple Toyota trucks showing up at a given location at the same time.

Then apply appropriate force. Here’s a model of how it might be done.

Blue is the colour of peace - The UN, now in its 70th year, is still grappling with questions of peace-keeping, reform and representation

Amitava Chakraborty 
"By turning the world UN Blue for a day, we can light the way to a better tomorrow", said the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, on the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Countries across the world honoured Ban's words by bathing their iconic buildings in blue, the official colour of the UN, as a token of gratitude for the UN charter, which continues to espouse the lofty values of the institution since October 24, 1945.

Political analysts have often argued that the UN, much like the League of Nations, has been losing its relevance with the passage of time. It is therefore necessary to critically analyse the institution during its 70th year. Critics are also of the opinion that the UN's ideals have failed to adapt to the changing geo-strategic dynamics. The UN, it is argued, must wake up to the new global realities and mould itself accordingly.

The 'changing nature of warfare' is a case in point. Article 1 of the UN charter clearly states that the UN must take effective measures to prevent and remove any threat to peace. In the modern world, nations rarely confront one another through conventional means. Wars are not only being fought by uniformed soldiers but are also being waged by non-State actors. Therefore, the definition of conflict itself has changed. The absence of war among nations may not necessarily augment the cause of peace. This is because member states, even while they are fighting shadowy insurgent groups, are guided by their self-interests. That the West's campaign in its battle against the Islamic State - supposedly an enemy of humanity - in Iraq and Syria has been seriously compromised by the conflicting interests of the members of the alliance offers conclusive evidence of this fact.

Europe Girds for War

Samuel Johnson once observed that “when a man knows he is to be hanged…it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Apparently, so too does Islamic terrorists killing 130 innocent civilians in one’s capitol and Russian tanks and artillery massing to the East. It turns out that at some point even those most reluctant to consider the use of force – or to pay for the means to defend themselves – have to decide whether it is better to fight on one’s feet or die on one’s knees.

European self defense, once considered by many a lost cause, appears to be making a comeback. The murder of innocents over the Sinai last month and in Paris nine days ago has served to focus the minds of Western politicians on the reality that some threats cannot be avoided, bought off or bribed. Nor, it is now apparent, can they be contained. They must be defeated.

Other factors have also influenced Europe’s decision to seek peace by preparing for war. Clearly, Russian aggression against Ukraine and Moscow’s increasingly bellicose military posturing created fertile ground for the muscular response by European nations to the threat from ISIS. But so too has been U.S. disengagement from Europe and the apparent inability to lead, follow or get out of the way when it came to the collapse of stability in the Middle East.

There may be a no more reluctant 21st century warrior than French President Francois Hollande, who came to power on a platform of fighting the rich, not Islamic terrorism, and increasing spending on social programs. But as he declared in his first speech to the French people after the Paris attacks, “France is at war.” Thus is the mind concentrated.

Executive Summary: North Korea's Cyber Operations: Strategy and Responses

By Victor Cha, James Andrew Lewis, Jenny Jun, Scott LaFoy and Ethan Sohn 

NOV 23, 2015 
North Korea is emerging as a significant actor in cyberspace with both its military and clandestine organizations gaining the ability to conduct cyber operations. However, there is no comprehensive standard literature about North Korea’s cyber capabilities that takes an integrated view of the topic. Existing research is fragmented in pockets of strategic, technical, and policy pieces, though no individual study reaches far enough to create a standard reference document about North Korea’s cyber capabilities. This report aims to fill this void, integrating Korean and English language information sources, existing work in each respective field, and creating a foundation for future deeper research. 



You can never have too much information – knowledge is your best weapon!
November 25, 2015 
Kaspersky Lab 2016 Predictions: Forecasts The End Of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs); Nightmare Of Ransomware To Continue; Attacks On Security Vendors; Sabotage, Extortion, & Shame; APT Actors Down The Road; Future Of internet; Cryptoanalyze

Kaspersky Lab, the Russian-based cyber security firm that first discovered and dissected the Stuxnet cyber virus, has just published their look-ahead at the evolving cyber threat and what they think we’ll see in 2016. Surveying their cyber security experts from around the globe, Kaspersky has some interesting guesses about what the cyber threat landscape may look like next year.

The End Of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

“Before you start celebrating,” Kaspersky says, “we should point out that we’re referring to the ‘Advanced,’ and ‘Persistent’ elements — both of which the threat actors would gladly drop for stealth.” Kaspersky “expects to see a decrease in the emphasis on persistence, placing a greater focus on memory-resident, or fileless malware. The idea will be to reduce the traces left on an infected system and thus avoid detection altogether. Another approach will be to reduce the emphasis on advanced malware. Rather than investing in bootkits, rootkits and custom malware that gets burned by research teams,” Kaspersky “expects an increase in the repurposing of off-the-shelf malware. Not only does this mean that the malware isn’t burned upon discovery; but, it also has the added benefit of hiding the actor and his [or her] interactions in a larger crowd of mundane uses for commercially available RAT. As the shrine of cyber-capabilities wears off, return on investment (ROI) will rule much of the decision-making of state-sponsored attackers — and, nothing beats low initial investment for maximizing ROI,” Kaspersky says.

Can the Military Design a Disaster-Resilient City?


NOVEMBER 23,2015

Cities are incredibly complex, and break in complicated ways. Understanding that complexity will be key to mitigating tomorrow’s disasters.

There’s no such thing as a simple disaster. Take the 2011 tsunami that swept across eastern Japan. As a wall of water moved toward low-lying towns and villages, people attempted to flee in cars — and drowned in massive traffic jams. The floods decimated infrastructure and roads, hindering rescue and recovery efforts. The water also swamped the backup generators of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, leading to a Chernobyl-level meltdown. Planners might have predicted any one of those things individually, yet no one was prepared for what actually occurred.
Be the first to receive updates. 
The current “system of systems” approach to disaster-response planning basically piles up management practices for individual events — say, handling a blackout, managing event traffic, providing mass-casualty medical care, etc. — and generally produces, well, a big mess. The Defense Department wants to improve on that method.

On Friday, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced a new research initiative into the ways important things can break at once. Called the Complex Adaptive System Composition and Design Environment, or CASCADE, the project is meant to help planners make cities, towns, bases, power grids, etc. less vulnerable to devastation.
“It is difficult to model and currently impossible to systematically design such complex systems using state of the art tools, leading to inferior performance, unexpected problems, and weak resilience,” the agency wrote in a release.