18 December 2015

Terror and Media Coverage: Who will Bell the Cat?

By K Kunhikrishnan , Published: 15th December 2015

As soon as news ‘broke’ about the Paris terror attacks on November 13, 2015, I was watching international television coverage on BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, C SPAN (France 24 English TV channel available on C SPAN Web) and Russian TV, apart from Indian English news channels. Global TV news channels were doing wall to wall coverage. There was no single graphic image that was gruesome, terrifying and revolting. There was no repulsive visual of scattered dead bodies or bloodshed, but the brutality was clear and the message perceptible: the attack has shaken the world and the ‘shock value’ was achieved through television.

The broadcasts without a single advertisement fulfilled the responsibility of media for accuracy, balance, fairness and decency. Anchors did not lose their demeanour and poise and reporting was professional in tone, dignity, body language and delivery. They were not anguished and emotional and were professionally detached. International TV channels exhibited a rare and remarkable control over the images, text and voice and avoided sensationalising.

Of course, media coverage of events in the West is skewed compared to that of the developing countries. It was the city of Paris, epitome of liberal values, which was under attack! The carnage victims were from 29 countries. The story was tellingly told despite ‘newer’ news and news-making events unfolding minute by minute. Geographic favouritism for Paris, part of the developed world, was obvious as later, the Mali Hotel attack coverage was minimal.

US Media and 9/11

American media coverage during 11/9/2001 was markedly different from the Paris reporting. It was far from being balanced, objective, calm and fair. TV channels oozed hatred and hysteria, calling for action against mainly Arabs and Muslims crying for revenge (as the terrorists would have planned). Major TV channels whipped up patriotic discourse and policies resulting in dramatic change of public perceptions at government and public levels. “9/11 was used by the media and politicians to promote fear related agendas and ideologies,” says a study (Terrorism and Media: A Dangerous Symbiosis, Arda Bilgen 2012).

A conversation with historian Srinath Raghavan

The winner of the 2015 Infosys Prize in social sciences talks about researching history, writing books and the subject of his next book
Sarah Farooqui December 10, 2015
History may be the study of the past. But it is a discipline that needs to be deconstructed and analysed to comprehend the present. Author of two books, War and Peace in Modern India: A Strategic History of the Nehru Years and 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh, Srinath Raghavan is one of India's leading historians. Senior Fellow at Centre for Policy Research, Raghavn is a regular columnist, commentator and essayist.

Srinath Raghavan - 2015 Infosys Prize Winner
Raghavan was recently awarded the 2015 Infosys Prize in the category of social sciences. His next book India’s War: The Making of Modern South Asia, 1939-45 will be published early next year. In this conversation, Raghavan talks about the purpose of historical research, the role of a modern historian, the wisdom of writing books and many other things.
You recently won the 2015 Infosys prize for research in the social sciences. Why are the social sciences, and research in the disciplines they encompass important? Do you think the social sciences in India are ignored? If so, then why?

This is a very large question and, to be honest, I am not sure I can pin-point all the problems with social sciences in India. But I would point out that Indian scholars have made significant contributions by any global standards - especially in sociology, anthropology, economics and history. Where we seem to fall behind is in building high quality research programmes within our universities; the best of our students still tend to go abroad for their doctoral work. There is also a problem with funding research in social sciences. Unlike Britain and other European countries, we don't have public bodies that are adequately scaled-up to financially support bulk of the research in these areas; and unlike the US, we don't have Indian private philanthropic foundations that provide significant levels of funding.

Not A Silver Bullet: Metro Should Have Got Priority Over High Speed Rail

Transport Niti, 15 Dec, 2015

Metros rather than bullet trains would have been a better investment. All the claimed benefits through the bullet train project would have still accrued to us.
Bullets have been flying thick and fast on social media with people taking strong ‘for’ and ‘against’ positions on the proposed High Speed Rail between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. I feel it is important to get two important things straight before taking any stand on this high-profile project:
The Financing Scheme

This is not free money. Japan isn’t giving us a gift as is being misconstrued by a lot of people. Japan is offering us a Yen loan at 0.1 per cent interest which we will have to repay over several years. This is similar to an Apple store offering a 12-month, 0.1 per cent interest loan on iPhone 6S Plus. The iPhone 6S Plus is the best in its class and arguably could boost the buyer’s productivity like HSR. So why do a vast majority of people in India forego such an attractive low interest scheme? Well, because a) it is not free money and b) the marginal utility that an iPhone provides exceeds its cost. The proposed HSR is iPhone 6S Plus of trains, really cool with a great financing scheme but not a ‘must have’ for us at least at this point of time.
Feasibility Study

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is the agency that prepared the feasibility report for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai line. JICA is also the agency that will appoint a Japanese firm to execute this project and this is what I find just a little discomforting. This is similar to asking an Apple dealer to tell you if you need an iPhone 6s Plus. I concede that the appointed Japanese firm will have Indian partners, but most of the loan money will go back to Japan because of riders such as the one that requires 30 per cent of rolling stock to be sourced from Japanese firms. Nothing wrong with that, it is in fact totally expected, but just something to be aware of when you weigh the benefits and costs of this seemingly great financing offer.

Remembering the Peshawar Attack

Twelve months after the slaughter at Army Public School, where does Pakistan stand on terrorism?
By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
December 15, 2015

On December 16, 2014, the Taliban launched the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history, killing at least 148 people, including 132 schoolchildren, at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Mohammad Khorasani, also known as Omer Khorasan, who heads the Jamatul Ahrar, a faction of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Maulana Fazllula, quickly accepted responsibility for the attack. A spokesperson for the Jamatul Ahrar said the assault was in retaliation for the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan. He further claimed that the school had been targeted because “almost all students are the children of army personnel.”

The attack on the Army Public School was unequivocally condemned, nationally and internationally. Even the Afghan Taliban weighed in, calling it “un-Islamic.” Hafiz Saeed chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, whom India accuses of masterminding the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, also expressed outrage. He called the murder of children “cowardly behavior” and said that Islam “never taught us to kill innocent children and women even in war.”
Incidentally, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also home to Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize Laureate. She was reportedly singled out and shot in the head on October 9, 2012 by the TTP as she rode to school in a van with other girls. Malala luckily survived. The TTP was founded in 2007 in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and has links with the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

“I could not control my tears. I cannot explain but I wept. I know it was against the rules of our profession but it was the moment to break the rules.” One of the gravediggers, Mr. Taj Muhammad, at Peshawar’s largest graveyard was speaking to the Associated Press. He added, “I have buried bodies of the deceased of different ages, sizes, and weights,” He told AP. “Those small bodies I have been burying since yesterday felt much heavier than any of the big ones I have buried before.”

Is China's 'Belt and Road' a Strategy?

When is a strategy not a strategy?
By Xie Tao, December 16, 2015

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road) were proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia, respectively, in September and October of 2013. A clear sign of the political significance of the Belt and Road is that it was included in the Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening the Reform, adopted on November 12, 2013. The last paragraph of Article 26, Section VII of the Decision reads:

We will set up development-oriented financial institutions, accelerate the construction of infrastructure connecting China with neighboring countries and regions, and work hard to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a Maritime Silk Road, so as to form a new pattern of all-round opening.
Interestingly, few Chinese scholars and pundits initially seemed interested in Xi’s proposal. One indication of lukewarm domestic reaction to this new foreign policy initiative is that a search of “the Belt and Road” in article titles in the China National Knowledge Infrastructure—the world’s largest digital collection of Chinese language academic resources—generates merely 169 entries in 2014. The same search, however, produces an astonishing 2,735 entries for 2015 (as of December 13). By now the Belt and Road has indisputably become the most discussed and studied topic among Chinese officials, analysts, and journalists. It apparently has overshadowed Xi’s other signature initiatives, such as a “new model of great-power relations” and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Amid this nationwide craze over the Belt and Road, I was invited to attend a conference on the topic. I had written on the subject before, but never been to such a conference, so I happily accepted the invitation. A day of presentations and discussions by some of China’s leading experts on the Belt and Road proved truly enlightening. Here are some critical reflections inspired by that conference.

The Billion-Dollar Caliphate

The Islamic State has gotten rich from extortion, heists, and smuggling. But how long can the extremist group continue to bankroll jihad?
Last month, U.S. fighter jets unleashed airstrikes against oil fields, refineries, and hundreds of tanker trucks near the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. Dubbed Operation Tidal Wave II, the attacks were the latest phase in a campaign to bomb the Islamic State into bankruptcy, striking at the heart of the black-market economy and extortionist tax system that have underwritten the salaries of tens of thousands of extremist fighters.

But the Islamic State has proved resilient, developing a diversified economy to bankroll the costs of its burgeoning caliphate. According to a 2014 Thomson Reuters study, the terrorist group has more than $2 trillion in assets under its control, with an annual income of $2.9 billion.
Much of this money is raised through the “taxes” the group imposes on those who live within its territory. This includes an $800-per-truck levy on vehicles entering Iraq from Jordan and Syria, a 5 percent tax collected for social welfare and salaries, a $200 road tax on drivers in northern Iraq, a 50 percent tax for the ability to loot Raqqa’s archaeological sites, and a 20 percent tax at similar sites in Aleppo, according to the Thomson Reuters study. Additionally, non-Muslims must pay a religious protection fee known as jizya.

“They call it taxes, but we call it extortion,” Hans-Jakob Schindler, the acting coordinator of a U.N. Security Council group that monitors al Qaeda, the Islamic State, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups, told Foreign Policy.

Why Saudi Arabia's coalition against terror might not be all it appears


Saudi Arabia said all the right things in announcing a 34-nation Islamic military coalition against terrorism. And the move could help in some ways. But it could also largely be window dressing.

By Howard LaFranchi 4
A group of Muslim countries announced Tuesday a coalition aimed at doing what the United States and other powers have long called on the Islamic world to do: make the war on the Islamic State and other Islamist terror groups its own.
Saudi leaders announcing the 34-nation coalition and some participants said all the right things in trumpeting the new antiterror alliance. Terrorist ideology is an evil force within Islam that must be confronted first and most adamantly by Muslims themselves, these leaders say, while the war on Islamist terror must be fought and won by Muslims.

Speaking of a “disease” that has “affected the Islamic world,” Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said that the new coalition underscores “the Islamic world’s vigilance in fighting” the scourge of terrorism.
“This is our war and the Muslims’ war,” the government of Jordan said in a statement announcing adherence to the coalition.

Yet as encouraging as the new coalition and the rhetoric around it may sound, the effort may end up as little more than window dressing. The announcement may be aimed at assuaging a world that after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks is demanding action by Muslims against the rising Islamist terrorist threat, some terrorism analysts say.

Why Erdoğan Decided to Shoot down a Russian Plane

Aydınlık, December 12, 2015
The editors of Aydınlık, a Turkish newspaper, asked Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes a number of questions about the shoot-down of the Russian plane on Nov. 24. He sent in his replies on Nov. 27 but did not hear back. We provide these replies here, as he wrote them, in English.

As relations between the Turkish and American governments have worsened in recent years, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sought improved relations with Russia and (to a lesser extent) China. With the shoot-down of the Russian SU-24 warplane, Erdoğan has seemingly thrown away this option. Why?
Erdoğan’s aggressiveness has won him near total-power within Turkey, so he naturally assumes that the same methods will work on the international stage. But they do not. Although he had made some major achievements in foreign policy until about 2011, his record since then has been dismal, featuring worsened relations not only with nearly every state near Turkey but also with the great powers and even with the Turkish administration in northern Cyprus. Shooting down the Russian plane fits within this context of steady belligerence.

Do you think Turkey benefits from the shoot-down that compensates for losing Russia?
No, there are no benefits. I see only disadvantages. This incident marks a major reversal from the Turkish government’s point of view.
Was it really necessary for Turkish forces to shoot down this warplane?

ISIS Is Adapting Its Strategy. Obama Should Too.

"The context of the fight against ISIS has changed, thus requiring another exploration of the strategy’s efficacy."
Alex Ward, December 16, 2015 

Back in June I asked if the United States had an anti-ISIS strategy. The conclusion was straightforward: Yes, the Obama administration has a clear and defined strategy, but it’s not working. Specifically, America’s focus on military operations without fully backing or resourcing a governance plan will ultimately end in failure, regardless of how many bombs fall.

Since that writing, the context of the fight against ISIS has changed, thus requiring another exploration of the strategy’s efficacy. ISIS’s attacks in Egypt, Beirut and Paris have changed the game for many in the West. The United States renewed its pledge to destroy ISIS, vowing to increase cooperation with France, the United Kingdom and Germany. At the same time, a downed Russian plane over Turkish airspace threatens to worsen relations between Russia and the West, which will add a complication to defeating ISIS.

So with all that, plus a refugee crisis continuing to spiral out of control, is the strategy working? It’s safe to say that, if the desired end continues to be “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, then the answer is no. ISIS’s ways have changed over the past year, but the strategy to defeat the enemy has not. How should the strategy be altered?

The Cost Of Fighting ISIS Compared To Iraq Afghanistan

by Felix Richter, Statista.com  -- this post authored by Niall McCarthy

So far, $6.2 billion has been allocated for military operations against the so-called Islamic State, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Most of that, $5.4 billion, was allocated for fiscal year 2015 with the campaign costing an estimated $11 million each day. Even though the conflict in the Afghanistan is winding down, it still cost the U.S. over $35 billion in 2015 while another $30 billion was allocated to a Pentagon "slush fund" not directly related to conflict but used to evade legislated budget caps. Since 2001, a grand total of $715 billion has been spent on the war in Afghanistan while Iraq cost somewhere in the region of $1.64 trillion.

This chart shows total war funding allocated through the Overseas Contingency Operations fund (2001-2015).

Obama’s ISIS Oil Scandal Deepens As Russia Produces Stunning Photographic Evidence

December 3, 2015 by Michael Snyder
How is Barack Obama going to get out of this one? On Tuesday, the Russian military produced an impressive array of evidence that clearly shows that ISIS oil is being smuggled into Turkey on an industrial scale. The evidence included photographs taken by satellite and during aerial reconnaissance missions. What the Russians have shown the world is extremely compelling, and it raises some very disturbing questions. First of all, how involved is the Turkish government in all of this? There is no way in the world that an endless parade of trucks carrying ISIS oil could have marched through Turkish border checkpoints without the cooperation of the central government. Secondly, what did Obama know and when did he know it? The U.S. military has far better surveillance capabilities than the Russians do, and so it seems absolutely absurd to suggest that Obama didn’t know what was going on.

This new Russian evidence was presented to the world by Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, and he says that “thousands of oil trucks” have been going back and forth over the Turkish border…

According to Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, Russia is aware of three main oil smuggling routes to Turkey.
“Today, we are presenting only some of the facts that confirm that a whole team of bandits and Turkish elites stealing oil from their neighbors is operating in the region,” Antonov said, adding that this oil “in large quantities” enters the territory of Turkey via “live oil pipelines,” consisting of thousands of oil trucks.

The geopolitical hub of international maritime challenges

Posted on December 1, 2015
The U.S. naval and air force base at the British-controlled atoll of Diego Garcia is located strategically in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Brahma Chellaney, Nikkei Asian Review
The emerging centrality of the Indian Ocean for global trade and energy flows and for a stable balance of power in Asia is sharpening geopolitical competition in the wider region, home to prominent strategic chokepoints such as the Malacca and Hormuz straits. More than half of the world’s container traffic, 70% of its seaborne petroleum trade and a third of all maritime traffic traverses the Indian Ocean, the world’s third-largest body of water, which connects Asia with Africa and, via the Middle East, with Europe.

No less important, the Indian Ocean Rim may be poised to emerge as the world’s fastest-growing region in economic terms over the next decade, according to a recent assessment by the Center for International Development at Harvard University. After two centuries of Atlantic domination followed by the rise of the Pacific Rim, the Indian Ocean Rim could become the next growth engine, amid relatively slow growth in the mature economies and a relentless slowdown in China.
Meanwhile, as outside and local powers joust for access, influence and relative advantage in the region, the Indian Ocean is witnessing a maritime version of the 19th century Great Game — the rivalry between the British and Russian empires for influence in Central Asia. Four national strategies — China’s Maritime Silk Road project, America’s “pivot” to Asia, Japan’s western-facing approach, and India’s Act East Policy — intersect in the Indian Ocean.
China’s Maritime Silk Road — a catchy name for Beijing’s “string of pearls” policy of advancing strategic interests along its trade routes — is centered in the Indian Ocean, with China employing aid, investment and political leverage to pursue geostrategic objectives. A pet project of President Xi Jinping, its larger goal is to redraw Asia’s geopolitical map by pulling strategically located states closer to China’s orbit. It also seeks to deal with China’s problem of overproduction at home by winning lucrative overseas contracts for its state-run companies to build seaports, railroads, highways and energy pipelines in states located along the great trade arteries.

How not to combat terror

Posted on December 11, 2015
To contain international terrorism, it is necessary to contain its ideology — Wahhabism, which extols violent jihad.

By BRAHMA CHELLANEY, The Japan Times, December 11, 2015
A terror attack by a married, Pakistan-origin couple in California has shaken up American politics and the presidential contest, setting in motion stricter restrictions on grant of some U.S. visas and prompting candidate Donald Trump to propose a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. But the attack and the reactions also raise a larger question: Has the U.S. evolved a clear and credible counterterrorism strategy after spearheading the global war on terror since 2001?

President Barack Obama’s first Oval Office address in five years, while aimed at calming a jittery American public after the California attack, has only widened the gap between U.S. rhetoric and the challenge of effectively combating the international spread of Islamist extremism and terrorism.
Obama admitted that, in recent years, “the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase” and sought to reassure Americans that “we will overcome it.” Yet, as if to underscore his incoherent and ineffectual approach, his Dec. 6 speech was conspicuous by its omission of any reference on how to combat increasing Muslim radicalization, which is spawning violent jihadists.

The radicalization is linked to the role of some Gulf sheikhdoms in spreading Wahhabism, the source of modern Islamic fundamentalism. By exporting this fringe form of Islam, these petrodollar-laden states have gradually snuffed out more liberal Muslim traditions in regions extending from Asia and Africa to the Americas.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two officially Wahhabi states, and the United Arab Emirates still continue to fund madrassas (Islamic schools), mercenaries and militants in other places.

What the nuclear triad is, why it matters

By Kingston Reif, December 16, 2015

Kingston Reif: Obama administration's current nuclear weapons plans are unrealistic
GOP candidates should be prepared to explain how they would pay for modernization, he says
(CNN)National security issues dominated Tuesday night's Republican presidential candidate debate. And while the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino -- and the conflict with ISIS -- took center stage, the candidates also sparred on the under-the-radar issue of nuclear weapons policy. The question is whether any of the candidates fully understand quite how critical this subject is to America's security.
As former Defense Secretary William Perry recently warned, the United States and Russia are on the verge of a new nuclear arms race, and Washington is currently planning to spend roughly $1 trillion dollars on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years without any real national debate.

How did the candidates do on the issue Tuesday?
Debate panelist Hugh Hewitt asked Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio how they would approach the stewardship of America's aging nuclear arsenal. Trump clearly had not done his homework on the subject, ending a rambling answer with "nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me."

Rubio, meanwhile, said that all three legs of America's nuclear triad -- submarines, land-based missiles, and bombers --"are critical" and in need of modernization. Ironically, he recommended the same course of action that President Barack Obama is pursuing: namely, a multi-hundred-billion-dollar plan to rebuild all three legs of the triad and their associated warheads and supporting infrastructure.


Donald Trump apparently was misquoted when he reportedly called for registering all Moslems in the U.S., but the idea is a good one. We are going to have to do it eventually, so we might as well get started now.
Moslems will not be the only non-state element fighting Fourth Generation war on American soil. Other entities, such as gangs, are already doing so. But the spread of puritanism within the world of Islam, which continues to gather strength, means Moslems will increasingly be a source of 4GW, here and abroad. At some point politically correct Washington will be forced by events to acknowledge reality and act.

A registry of all Moslems in America, if properly done, could benefit both the state and American Islamics. How? It would allow the sate to focus on those Moslems most likely to be violent, leaving others alone. For example, any Moslems registered as Sufis could and should be left undisturbed. Why? Because alone among major Islamic sects, the Sufis present no threat of violence. For that sin (the Koran commands violence against “unbelievers”), the Sufis are persecuted by both Sunnis and Shiites.
As is the case with violent crime, most Islamic Fourth Generation fighters are young men. A registry would allow security efforts to focus on them, assuming it asked for both age and sex. Children, women, and older men could be ignored, although many young Islamic women are now acting as suicide bombers.

A registry should indicate what mosque an American Moslem regularly attends. Presumably, the FBI is keeping watch on mosques where Islamic 4GW “jihad” is preached. People who attend such mosques should be prime suspects. On first thought, such mosques should be closed and their imams deported. But second thought suggest we might want to leave them open to serve as candle flames to draw the jihadis so they can be identified.
While political correctness gasps in horror at the idea of registering all American Islamics, the spread of Islamic puritanism suggests that may not be sufficient. The reason the state came into existence was to provide order–safety of persons and property–and if it is to retain legitimacy, it must do whatever is required to that end. If a registry and other security measures are not sufficient to prevent Islamic 4GW on American soil–from the state’s perspective prevention is everything; all first response is too late, because the peace has been broken and the state has therefore failed–stronger measures will be needed, including the option of exile.



In announcing that all positions in the U.S. armed forces would be opened to women, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter lied. According to the December 4 New York Times, he said,
They’ll [women] be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that was previously open only to men.
That statement is false. Women will not be able to do those things. Their bodies are not designed to do many of the tasks those positions entail. So long as realistic standards are maintained for those specialties, women will not be able even to qualify for them much less perform adequately in them. Men and women are different, physically and mentally, and their traditional social roles reflect their inherent differences.
Had the Truth Fairy landed on the SECDEF’s tongue as he was about to make his announcement, he would have said,

We are opening all positions in the armed forces to women. Women will not be able to do many of the duties entailed especially in the combat arms. We–the Obama administration–don’t care about that. Our ideology of cultural Marxism demands we pretend men and women are interchangeable. We will do whatever is necessary to maintain that illusion. In this case, if women cannot meet the standards, we will change the standards. If not enough women make it into the combat arms, we will establish quotas.
If, in combat, women cannot perform the mission, that’s not our problem. If it means lost engagements and unnecessary American casualties, what is that to us? Our ideology comes first. Get with the party’s program–or else.

Mobile mashup: The military's proliferating mix of smartphones and tablets

Mar 23, 2015
The Air Force is using tablets as electronic flight bags to replace bulky paper-based maintenance and flight manuals.
Smartphones and tablets are rapidly making their way into military operations, trimming costs and giving warfighters tightly focused capabilities. But these benefits raise a host of challenges, ranging from security and the need for ruggedization, to requirements for peripherals that link to devices designed for consumers, not soldiers.

Military leaders are endorsing the role of these handheld systems, though their implementation may evolve slowly, as technical specialists grapple with myriad issues. Military electronics have always been designed for specific roles and given to select personnel. Now, technology experts must grapple with the emerging bring your own device (BYOD) movement, in which rapidly-changing equipment from Apple and a range of Android suppliers must all be connected in compatible networks.
The spectrum of challenges is as varied as the systems themselves. Security and reliability are foremost among them. These traits span many fields, from supplying peripherals such as secure GPS receivers to securing equipment and managing apps developed by suppliers and warfighters.

Pentagon Memo: U.S. Weapons Open to Cyber Attacks

The military can’t afford to pay top hackers to seal up its systems. That’s nothing but good news for those looking to penetrate America’s defenses.
The U.S. military’s computer networks and weapons systems are open to attack from hackers. But there aren’t enough skilled experts to help shore up defenses and prepare the military to fight a war in cyberspace, according to U.S. officials.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers worry that the military is facing a dangerous shortfall in so-called “red team” operators, who specialize in simulating the kinds of attacks and techniques that an enemy would use. On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of members of Congress called on Defense Secretary Ash Carter to intervene, noting that military networks, including those used by the Joint Staff, have come under increasing attack in recent months. Hackers in Russia who targeted the White House and State Department have also turned their sites on the Defense Department.

A big reason the Pentagon is so-short staffed: The people with the skills to work on red teams are being poached by companies, where they earn far more than they would ever get on a government salary.
In the past three years, several senior red team member have bolted for better paying jobs outside the military, and those left behind “are not keeping pace” with sophisticated adversaries getting better at overcoming U.S. defenses, according to an Pentagon memo obtained by The Daily Beast.

Army demonstrates injection jammers

Michael Peck, Contributing Writer December 15, 2015
The Army demonstrated electronic inject jammers at the National Training Center earlier this month.
The demonstration, by the Army Threat Systems Management Office (TMSO), showcased small, direct inject jammers, according to an Army news release.

TMSO electronic engineer Curtis Leslie pointed to an advantage of inject jammers for training. A typical jammer transmitter broadcasting live over public air waves require military, Federal Communications Commission or Federal Aviation Administration agency approvals, which often limit jamming to late night and early morning hours. But recent technological advances have allowed the jammers to become smaller in size and require less power, making them ideal for use on military training centers where getting clearance for very congested environments in the wireless spectrum may be problematic."

The jammer box is installed between the antennae and a radio transceiver. It can be programmed to digitally produce different kinds of jamming signals when cued by a simple line-of-sight signal sent remotely by a controller

Controversial Cybersecurity Measure Set for Final Approval

Foreign Policy
By Elias Groll, December 16, 2015
To its detractors, it’s a surveillance bill in disguise. To its supporters, it’s a critical step toward boosting the cybersecurity of American businesses and government. And with its inclusion in a massive federal spending bill unveiled shortly after midnight Wednesday, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act is at last — and all but certainly — headed for final approval.

The bill aims to improve the flow of so-called cyberthreat information — things like bits of code and IP addresses used by hackers — between the government and private sector, and among the government’s many branches. It grants liability protections to businesses as an incentive to pass on that information, through a portal run by the Department of Homeland Security, to the government. The bill also authorizes the federal government, in turn, to share the data in real time with its different parts, including the National Security Agency.
Computer security experts say it is highly unlikely the measure will significantly improve cybersecurity. But amid a series of high-profile breaches of both American government and corporate servers, CISA gained momentum this summer as a way for Congress to take action on the issue, and perhaps bolster security, if even slightly. In theory, better sharing of threat information between the government and the private sector may make it easier to stop certain malware and other attacks. It is highly unlikely that more robust information sharing, however, would have stopped major recent breaches, such as the one at the Office of Personnel Management.

“This is a strong bill that takes an important first step to address a significant drain on our economy and threat to our national security,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. Feinstein co-sponsored CISA with the powerful committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina.

Advanced Research and Development of Mission-Focused Analytics for a Decision Advantage (ARMADA)

Solicitation Number: BAA-AFRL-RIK-2015-0012
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Office: Air Force Materiel Command
Location: AFRL/RIK - Rome
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Original Synopsis Nov 12, 2015
Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Added: Nov 12, 2015 1:55 pm
NAICS CODE: 541712
FEDERAL AGENCY NAME: Department of the Air Force, Air Force Materiel Command, AFRL - Rome Research Site, AFRL/Information Directorate, 26 Electronic Parkway, Rome, NY, 13441-4514

BROAD AGENCY ANNOUNCEMENT (BAA) TITLE: Advanced Research and Development of Mission-Focused Analytics for a Decision Advantage (ARMADA)
BAA ANNOUNCEMENT TYPE: Initial announcement
This Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) seeks to provide research and development for forming a revolutionary approach to information fusion and analysis by leveraging service-oriented architecture, open standards, and cutting-edge fusion and analytical algorithms to provide real-time (or near real-time) intelligence for decision makers. This BAA shall research and develop novel techniques to assist users with discovering the golden nuggets in the data - potential approaches include fusing diverse data sources, filtering noise, and leveraging pattern learning to derive patterns of life. Further, technical capabilities developed under this BAA will minimize user time spent gathering data and reporting data, while preserving and providing more time for analysis. This will be accomplished through several means to include a data framework that can easily and quickly connect to sundry data sources, a rich, intuitive personalized workspace and experience, a variety of user-defined visualization displays, machine learning to assist and automate mundane tasks, and a custom report generation tool.

This BAA will research and develop: (1) Analytic services that provide a greater understanding of diverse data sources to assist decision makers and deliver a decision advantage. This includes multi-INT and all source fusion, correlating data within and across diverse, heterogeneous data sources to determine patterns of life and indications and warnings, and project future activity in the near term;
(2) An enterprise platform that will host analytics, customizable workspaces and visualizations, a data framework for connecting to diverse and potentially heterogeneous data sources, security and authorization components, and provide a software development kit (SDK) and application programming interface (API). The intent is to develop a platform that other third parties (e.g. vendors) can leverage and implement new software components providing a much broader and deeper enterprise experience that is agile and flexible; and (3) Develop evaluation metrics and scenarios, and perform testing to ensure satisfaction of key performance parameters.
Mission Requirements:
The research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) performed under the auspices of this BAA shall address a breadth of mission domains to include Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) for air, space and cyber. Specific applications of this research and development include, but are not limited to:
1) Custom software infrastructure that is deployable, maintainable, and elastic; The software framework shall provide ingestion (discover, access, model), persistence, analytics, visualization, publication/reporting and system management components
2) Mission data file development to inform understanding of mission environment and provide mission decision-making parameters to inform machine observe, orient, decide, and act (OODA) loop
3) Global, user-defined common operating picture for air, space and cyber operations that can support multiple areas of responsibility (AORs) and Multi-INT feeds; custom visualizations and applications for geospatial and temporal analysis
4) Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) exploitation and analysis of social media, news feeds, and other publicly available information
5) Entity extraction and resolution within and across data sources
6) Disseminate fused air tracks and provide alerts for detected anomalies
7) Mission planning of network-enabled weapons and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms
8) Machine-to-machine integration of mission planning and collection management systems across the Air Operations Centers (AOCs) and Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AF-DCGS) sites
9) Conduct gain/loss analysis for collection management
10) Command and control of cyber forces and mission planning
11) Operational level command and control capabilities (bridging strategic to tactical-unit level) to plan, coordinate, and execute non-kinetic capabilities with kinetic means to deliver synchronized global effects
12) Provide systems engineering, integration, training and testing
13) Interface with existing programs of record to obtain access to data sources (e.g. Air Operations Center Weapons System (AOC WS), Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AF-DCGS), Global Command and Control System-Joint (GCCS-J), Modernized Integrated Database (MIDB), Command Post of the Future (CPOF)

The Companies That Make the Most From the World’s Wars

Most arms revenue flows to America and Western Europe, but Russia and China are catching up
Industry December 16, 2015 Peter Dörrie 1
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has published its list of the world’s top 100 arms manufacturers. Overall, the 100 largest defense contractors totaled $401 billion in sales 2014, though the actual number is probably even higher, because the list excludes Chinese companies “due to the lack of data.”
This is a healthy chunk of the total worldwide military expenditure during the same year, which was $1.776 trillion including China.

In other words — of every dollar that governments around the world spent on their militaries in 2014, about 23 cents ended up in the pockets of one of the 100 companies on SIPRI’s list, many of which are privately owned.
However, there are some interesting regional discrepancies. To put it simply, nobody profits from selling weapons nearly as much as U.S. defense companies and even among those, Lockheed Martin is the 800-pound gorilla. The Maryland-based firm sold arms and services worth $37.47 billion in 2014, according to SIPRI, leaps and bounds ahead of its closest rival, Boeing, which still made a cool $28.30 billion.

SIPRI predicts Lockheed Martin’s revenue from defense goods and services to exceed $40 billion in 2015, owing to the acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft, which manufactures the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter among other products, and would be ranked 24th on the list by itself.

Avoid a false sense of cybersecurity by dodging these three pitfalls

More cybersecurity spending does not mean better cyber defenses when technology, people, and strategy aren’t utilized correctly.
By Lockheed Martin December 15, 2015

More than 60 percent of US information technology professionals said their cybersecurity budgets have increased up to 30 percent in the last 12 to 18 months, according to a recent Lockheed Martin survey.
Cybersecurity is being discussed on an unprecedented scale, including in corporate board rooms — thus, the boost in funding.

And while we’re happy to see more resources coming to the problem, the ways in which additional dollars for cyber defense are being spent leave much to be desired. That makes us wonder: Are we being lulled into a false sense of cybersecurity?
A false sense of cybersecurity — three pitfalls to avoid (Lockheed Martin white paper)
Are our misconceptions of three key areas — technology, staffing, and strategy — keeping us from an effective cybersecurity approach?

The Pentagon is Nervous about Russian and Chinese Killer Robots

December 14, 2015 By Patrick Tucker
The Pentagon is rushing to keep up with Russian and Chinese efforts to develop highly autonomous robots — in Russia’s case, ones capable of independently carrying out military operations, deputy defense secretary Robert Work told a Center for New American Security national security forum today. 

Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The ... Full Bio
Work quoted the Defense Science Board’s summer study on autonomy and AI, which said that the human race stands at “an inflection point” in the development of artificial intelligence. Different nations, he noted, are reacting in very different ways.

“We know that China is already investing heavily in robotics and autonomy and the Russian Chief of General Staff [Valery Vasilevich] Gerasimov recently said that the Russian military is preparing to fight on a roboticized battlefield and he said, and I quote, ‘In the near future, it is possible that a complete roboticized unit will be created capable of independently conducting military operations.’”

The Centurion Mindset and the Army’s Strategic Leader Paradigm

December 15, 2015 ·
Strategic Leadership  The Centurion Mindset and the Army’s Strategic Leader Paradigm
Jason W. Warren
Abstract: Army culture does not currently value or incentivize education and broadening for senior leaders, as it did prior to 1950. Various structural factors, such as the creation of a mega-bureaucracy, co-equal service branches, and a fixation with tactics, have contributed to the decline in numbers of educated and broadened leaders in the molds of Generals Pershing, MacArthur, and Eisenhower. The Army’s strategic performance since the Korean War is symptomatic of this cultural decline. 
On October 12, 1972, General Creighton Abrams became Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), a promotion that symbolized the further devaluation of broadly educated leaders in favor of tactically minded “centurions.” Centurions in the Roman legions, combining the command authority of a contemporary company commander with the experience of a sergeant major who directed tactics. Superior legates or generals orchestrated campaigns to achieve Rome’s strategic objectives.1 Abrams epitomized the tactically centered centurion paradigm, and it is no small irony the US main battle tank bears his name. In his mold, well-meaning but misguided Army leaders of the post-World War II era, have championed tactical career progression that stunted officer strategic broadening, and ensured the rise of centurions often incapable of performing as true “generalists.” The institution’s transition from valuing an officer career path that produced sufficiently developed leaders helped birth the so-called training revolution, which Abrams and like-minded leaders enshrined. These men sought to ensure “no more Task Force Smiths” would occur, referring to an untrained and underequipped Army task force that North Korean tanks rolled over in 1950.

The military's real problem: Fewer Americans are joining

When I was a commander in Iraq, many of my men were unfit for the battlefield. My unit needed them anyway.
By John Spencer, 12/15/15 

When President Barack Obama announced that women would be eligible for combat roles in the military earlier this month, he stated “our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens.” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter echoed those thoughts: “Our force of the future must continue to benefit from the best people America has to offer … in the 21st century, that includes drawing strength from the broadest possible pool of people.”

This change is going to help the military in any number of ways: It’s a step toward greater fairness, and it makes a new talent pool available to combat positions. But before we get too complacent, the Army has another challenge in front of it that opening the door to women is just one small step toward solving: It is understaffed for the challenges it faces, and faces an even bigger recruiting struggle ahead.
The number of Americans eligible to serve in the military is dramatically shrinking, leaving the Army at its smallest size in over 75 years and forcing units to rely on unstable and unprepared servicemen. That puts both our military troops and the country at risk.