7 March 2016


Lieutenant General (Retd) Baljit Singh. 

Ever since the eruption of mindless violence in Haryana recently, the thought uppermost in my mind has been the one stipulation from Article 51 A of the Constitution of India, namely that “It shall be the Fundamental Duty of every Citizen to safeguard public property and to abjure violence”. I believe that cutting across the “class” divides of our society almost every Indian would spiritedly articulate upon “Hamaara Huqq”, that is, his Fundamental Rights but perhaps not more than ten in a hundred citizens would be even aware that our Constitution has also concisely and explicitly enshrined the Fundamental Duties expected of each Indian citizen. Admittedly, the Article was an afterthought (incorporated in 1976) but the idea was unexceptionable, that every citizen has manifold obligations towards the society at large and the Country in particular to be worthy of the comprehensive Fundamental Rights conferred on him. Had the awareness of the Fundamental Duties been broadcast adequately in the manner of an article of faith, maybe we would have been spared the ugly sorrow that engulfed Haryana.

Inherent in the promulgation and construct of this Article was the hope of inculcating a sense of patriotism among citizenry through a dignified idiom (as distinct from flag waving and sloganeering jingoism) which would inspire a spirit of social responsibility both towards all fellow Indians and the State. Equally, it attempts to suggest a code of conduct intended to “strengthen the Nation, promote ideals of harmony, unity, common brotherhood, religious tolerance ......... It highlights the importance of citizens in the functioning of the State and urges upon them to do their utmost to discharge their duties”. 

No matter how determined the lawless elements were upon arson and worse but if they were challenged by the combined numbers of citizens of Haryana, the mayhem may well have been staunched substantially if not altogether. The retired Army soldier, Naik Hawa Singh Yadav’s conduct in successfully warding off repeated attempts by a mob to plunder the ATM and vaults of the Bank, single handed is a point in case that a determined stand by citizens, in the spirit of the above cited constitutional obligation, is a more potent and desirable weapon than other alternatives available to the State. No matter that Hawa Singh was born and bred in Haryana’s current societal milieu but his reaction towards lawlessness was nobler than most of his kinsmen because in his younger, impressionable years the initiation training of a soldier had motivated him to be a responsible citizen. The officers who had mentored him had learnt at the Indian Military Academy, from the Manual of Indian Military Law that in defending public property one may use fire arms if need be without the fear of inviting any criminal charge.
And so he used the shot gun provided to him with positive effect. I wish one could say the same about the armed constabulary of the State.

It is not my case to suggest that we introduce compulsory military training for our youth but to revisit the philosophy and content of education imparted at our institutions of learning so that we may imbibe among all students, the essence of Hawa Singh like paradigm to duty; that is, my country and the well being of my countrymen, no matter what. Or, that our education systems must sow a conviction among their young wards of the kind that Harper Lee’s protagonist in her classic To Kill a Mockingbird had imparted to his children that courage in adversity is not necessarily to be armed with a weapon but true courage is “....when you are licked before you begin, but you begin anyway, and you see it through, no matter what”. 

Reverting to the Fundamental Duties of Every Citizen (FDC), they are ten in number like the Biblical Ten Commandments. Sadly, unlike the Ten Commandments which find expression often in Church services, the FDC are almost never aired in any public or private discourses in India. Some years ago, during an informal meal with a UT Chandigarh Administrator (cum the Punjab Governor) my conversation drifted to Article 51 A and I was pleasantly surprised to be informed the next day that the FDC will be permanently displayed on a suitable bill board in each Government School, in UT Chandigarh. Perhaps two months later, I had a call from The UT Administrator enquiring as to how far was I from a Government Model Senior Secondary School? And in the next breath I was told to go and see the bill board and “let me know if it is impressive and a prominent display”! The irony however is, that the instructions to read out FDC to the School collectively on suitable occasions each year remain, I believe ignored.

Be that as it may, let me conclude by stating that we need never have been visited by the shame of rapes during the Jat agitation or at any other time past or in the future, had we by personal example at all levels of Indian polity, inspired our countrymen to be true to the spirit of Article 51 A (e), that is: 

“to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women”.

* What China’s rise means for India

Shivshankar Menon | March 4, 2016 
China’s economic achievements in the last three decades of 10 percent-plus GDP growth have inspired awe around the world. We all know the consequences—the accumulation of hard power in all its forms, China as the world’s manufacturing workshop, the trillion dollar foreign exchange surpluses, the ability to determine commodity prices in world markets, the presence of China in most global value and production chains, and so on. The speed and scale of China’s transformation are astonishing. As a rising power, meanwhile, China is determined to have an independent say in the economic, political, and security order around her and in the world.

What does China’s rise mean for India? 
Complicating the scene
Absent drastic modifications in Chinese or U.S. behavior—which I consider unlikely—the rise of China promises an extended period of political and security instability in Asia and the Pacific. There will be no quick recovery for the world economy, and security competition between the United States and China will remain the principal contradiction, as Mao would have said. The assertive China that we have seen since 2008 is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Security dilemmas between China and Japan; China and India; China and Vietnam; and others will intensify. 
The assertive China that we have seen since 2008 is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
In other words, the environment in which India pursues its interests will get more complex. And the very complexity of the situation in the Asia-Pacific gives India a choice of partners and collaborators to work with in the pursuit of its interests.
An assertive China is unlikely to seek an early settlement of the ongoing border dispute with India. Fifty years of stability on the border suggests that give and take on the status quo is most logical. But China’s other interests—its relationship with Pakistan, suspicions about Tibet, and desire to maintain levers in the relationship with India—suggest that a border settlement is not a Chinese priority at present. (Nor, for that matter, does it seem to be a priority of the present government in New Delhi.)

To protect Chinese investment, Pakistan military leaves little to chance

Feb 7, 2016 

A heavy police presence, guarded convoys, new checkpoints and troop reinforcements have turned parts of the southern port city of Gwadar into a fortress, as Pakistan's powerful military seeks to protect billions of dollars of Chinese investment. 
Securing the planned $46 billion economic corridor of roads, railways and pipelines from northwest China to Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast is a huge challenge in a country where Islamist militants and separatist gunmen are a constant menace. 

The armed forces and interior ministry have sent hundreds of extra soldiers and police to Gwadar, the southern hub of the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and more are on their way. 
"Soon we'll start hiring 700-800 police to be part of a separate security unit dedicated to Chinese security, and at a later stage a new security division would be formed," Jafer Khan, regional police officer in Gwadar told Reuters. 
A senior security official in the town of around 100,000 people said a further 400-500 soldiers had been recruited as a temporary measure to protect Chinese nationals. 

On a recent visit, an SUV carrying Chinese visitors was escorted by two police cars and an army vehicle, while police blocked traffic at every crossroad along the route. It was not clear who the passengers were. 
Keeping foreign workers and executives safe in Gwadar, which has expanded significantly over the last 15 years largely thanks to Chinese investment, is relatively straightforward. 
The same cannot be said of the corridor as a whole. 
Its western branch passes north through Baluchistan province, where ethnic Baluch separatist rebels are opposed to the CPEC project and chafing under a military crackdown. 
It skirts the tribal belt along the Afghan-Pakistan border where Islamist militant groups including the Pakistan Taliban and al Qaeda have long been based, and takes in Peshawar, scene of some of the worst insurgent atrocities of recent years. 
The main responsibility for securing the corridor, vital to Pakistan's long-term prosperity, lies with a new army division established in the last few months and numbering an estimated 13,000 troops. 

Wilayat Khorasan Stumbles in Afghanistan

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 15 Issue: 5
March 3, 2016 02:03 PM Age: 2 days
January marks a year since Islamic State announced its official expansion into Afghanistan. On January 26, 2015, Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, Islamic State’s chief spokesperson, released an audio statement in which he declared the establishment of Wilayat Khorasan, a branch of the group “encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nearby lands” (Jihadology, January 26, 2015). Since then, Wilayat Khorasan has pursued a campaign of expansion and consolidation in the region, with most of its activity centering in eastern and southeastern Afghanistan. The group, however, has experienced several setbacks on the battlefield that have raising questions about the group’s staying power and future prospects in Afghanistan.

Collapse of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
The most crushing defeat that Wilayat Khorasan suffered in recent months was the annihilation of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in August 2015. The IMU’s decision to join Islamic State marked a break from the group’s historic relationship with the Afghan Taliban.
In the 1990s, the Taliban provided the IMU with access to training camps in Afghanistan in exchange for a pledge of allegiance to Mullah Muhammed Omar. The IMU also contributed several hundred fighters to the Taliban’s ongoing conflict with the Northern Alliance (Carnegie, August 12, 2014). The relationship between the Taliban and the IMU continued beyond 9/11. Starting around 2010, the IMU collaborated closely with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, facilitating the Taliban’s expansion into ethnic Uzbek areas (Eurasia Daily Monitor, April 26, 2013).
However, declaration of the Caliphate by Islamic State was a game-changer for the IMU. The group began to express support for the Islamic State in September 2014. Then, in August 2015 following a period of flirtation, the IMU released a video in which its emir, Uthman Ghazi, pledged allegiance to Islamic State and announced that the IMU would serve under the command of Wilayat Khorasan.

UN peacekeeping at new highs after post-Cold War surge and decline


MARCH 2, 2016

The number of United Nations peacekeeping forces around the world has peaked in recent months, after falling off in the late 1990s. Today, more than 100,000 uniformed peacekeepers are deployed under 16 different missions – with the highest numbers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and South Sudan.
The first historical mission with a sizable military force was the UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC) in the early 1960s, which sought to restore order in the former Belgian colony that had fallen into violence. About 20,000 peacekeepers took part in the mission, during which then Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash while flying into the region for diplomatic talks.
Peacekeeping activities were relatively infrequent for the next 25 years, but they spiked under the leadership of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who died in mid-February. During Boutros-Ghali’s January 1992 to December 1996 tenure, the number of ongoing missions rose from 10 to 18 – including high-profile operations in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Rwanda – while the number of peacekeeping forces reached a then high of nearly 79,000 in 1994, according to data from the UN, the Stimson Center and the International Peace Institute.

The World Is Stuck With Persistent Stagnation


The United States, Europe and China slowly follow Japan’s economy with low growth and stagnation
Stephen Roach, YaleGlobal, 3 March 2016
Running out of arrows: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised three arrows to revive economy, but missed the target, top; falling world demand leaves factories idle in China

NEW HAVEN: Concerns over global growth were at the top of the agenda for the just concluded G-20 meeting in Shanghai – and with good reason. Seven years after the Great Recession, the world economy continues to struggle. After a wrenching financial crisis morphed quickly into a severe downturn in the global business cycle, the subsequent recovery has been unusually weak, lacking the vigor that normally insulates the world from subsequent shocks. With a multitude of shocks continuing to batter today’s troubled world – from ISIS and a European refugee crisis to a collapse in energy and other commodity markets – the probability of a relapse remains high.

To a large extent, the world is mired in a Japanese-like secular stagnation.
The stage was set with a fractional increase of just 0.028 percent in world output, or GDP in 2009 – the weakest year in the global economy since the end of World War II. On the surface, that might not sound too disturbing – after all, the global economy didn’t actually shrink. But the world economy in the aggregate is more resilient than its individual pieces. Global recessions usually involve contractions in only about half the nations of the world’s 200 economies at any point in time. The others continue to grow – albeit often at more subdued rates.
This global balancing act typically limits the downside of the business cycle. For example during the previous three full years of global recessions – 1982, 1991, and 2001 – world GDP still expanded, on average, by 1.9 percent. That means global recessions are not normally associated with outright contractions in world GDP.
Students of global business cycles have long maintained that the world usually lapses into recession when global GDP growth pierces the 2 to 2.5 percent threshold. Relative to that standard, it’s not too hard to figure out why the 0.028 percent increase in 2009 is now known as the Great Recession.

Give Peace a Chance: Mediating in the World’s Hottest War Zones

Give Peace a Chance: Mediating in the World’s Hottest War Zones

Mar 03, 2016 
The world spends more than $1.6 trillion a year on its armed forces and $600 million to $800 million on conflict mediation, if you include the peacemaking work of the United Nations and of regional and national organizations. The approximately 2,000-to-one imbalance is massive, but sadly not surprising. Outside the milieu of official diplomacy are half a dozen private organizations whose mission is to resolve armed conflicts by bringing together the opposing sides and helping them reach a peaceful settlement.

Among these, the largest is Geneva’s Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue(HD), founded in 1999 and with an annual budget of $30 million and 130 employees. The center has peacemaking activities in eight African countries (plus the Sahel); Syria; the Philippines and Ukraine. It is run by David Harland, a New Zealander and former senior UN official who served in East Timor, the former Yugoslavia and Haiti. Harland describes his type of organization as “a Venus fly trap in the garden of diplomacy,” an exotic species that operates in the shadows. Knowledge@Wharton asked Harland to explain how it goes about mediating in some of the world’s hottest spots.
An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.

Knowledge@Wharton: What is the biggest challenge your organization faces in playing its role, now and in the next couple of years?

David Harland: The challenge is not in finding money to fund operations and is not the physical risk or the legal exposure. The main challenge is always finding a connection that adds value. Our aim is to construct a process in which we can connect parties involved in a conflict in a way that increases the chances of a peaceful resolution.

China's Rebalancing Is Overrated

MAR 3, 2016  By Christopher Balding
The optimists' case for China is fairly straightforward. Yes, the world's second-largest economy is grinding to its slowest pace in decades. But as investment and manufacturing -- traditionally the key drivers of Chinese growth -- decline in importance, domestic consumption and services are playing a bigger role: For the first time, services accounted for just over 50 percent of GDP last year.
This much-desired rebalancing should move China toward a far more sustainable growth model. New economy companies in technology, health-care, finance and retail are more productive and less polluting than smokestack industries. Robust consumption -- rail traffic is growing at 10 percent as Chinese spend more on leisure travel, while mobile Internet traffic has doubled -- is key to weaning the economy off its addiction to investment. As unproductive coal mines and steel factories shed workers, labor-intensive services should pick up the slack.
A closer look at the data, however, paints a different and decidedly gloomier picture. Take travel. While overall rail traffic is up, total passenger turnover, which accounts for the number of kilometers traveled, grew only 3.1 percent in 2015. Moreover, it’s important to remember that only 11 percent of trips are done by rail. (International air travel, which grew 34 percent last year, only covers 0.2 percent of trips.) The vast majority of travel takes place by road and highway traffic actually declined last year. If so many more Chinese are going on pleasure trips, why is hotel revenue flat?
Similarly, sales at the 100 biggest retailers in China, which one would expect to be thriving if the economy were rebalancing, were down 0.1 percent in 2015. Luxury brands have been hit particularly hard (in part because of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign) and sales of even basic consumer durables such as TVs, refrigerators, audio equipment and washing machines are flat or declining.

* Tibet: A Major Source of Asia’s Rivers


4 FEBRUARY 2016,  Madeleine Lovelle, 
Key Points
Tibet is the epicentre of regional food and water security. It is crucial that China and the countries downstream co-operate to ensure freshwater supplies for all.
Climate change, Asia’s rapid urbanisation and population growth rates are placing increased pressure on scarce water resources.
It is difficult to achieve a political consensus on governing Asia’s transboundary rivers when downstream countries do not have equal power over the control of common water sources.
The potential for conflict within the region will increase if agreements are not established to ensure integrated water management among all the countries involved.
Australia can play a role in ensuring water security and averting future regional conflict.

The headwaters of six of Asia’s major rivers begin on the Tibetan Plateau. China, which requires water to meet the needs of 20 per cent of the world’s population, has harnessed freshwater from the plateau to meet its own food and water requirements by building dams, irrigation systems and creating water diversion projects. China is the largest and most technologically-advanced of all the countries in the region, enabling the Asian giant to hold an important position of power over downstream countries. Dwindling water sources in the transboundary rivers of the Tibetan Plateau threaten water security and create a high potential for geopolitical conflict in the region.

Chinese Involvement within Tibet and Downstream Countries

Forty-six per cent of the world’s population depend upon rivers originating in Tibet, including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween and Mekong rivers. Rapid population growth, industrialisation and climate change, however, threaten water security across South and South-East Asia. With China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand all dependent on rivers that have their headwaters in Tibet, predicted water shortages threaten the livelihoods of millions of people living in countries downstream.
In 1950, Mao Zedong annexed Tibet, largely due to its strategic position and its water resources. China is, overall, an arid country and water security is regarded as an important national security issue. Building dams, irrigation systems and diversion projects is considered vital not just for providing water to its 1.3 billion people, but also for ensuring internal political stability. Any alteration to China’s control of Tibet and its water could alter the distribution of power between China and the countries downstream as well as cause heightened internal tensions, a notion that Beijing will be reluctant to countenance.

Climate change is likely to result in elevated global temperatures, rising sea levels, increased frequency of extreme weather events and changing precipitation patterns. Increasing glacial melt in the Tibetan Plateau, combined with changing rainfall patterns across South and South-East Asia, threatens water security for millions of people who rely on the transboundary rivers that originate in Tibet. The annual rate of glacial melt in Tibet is currently seven per cent, which could result in the loss of two-thirds of its glaciers by 2050. Water flows in some rivers like the Brahmaputra have increased due to melting glaciers. River water supply will increase in the short-term but this will only last as long as the glaciers do. Asia cannot rely on increased run-off being a long-lasting phenomenon. Changing rainfall patterns are expected to further exacerbate dwindling freshwater sources.

China’s population currently stands at 1.36 billion people, with an annual growth rate of 0.5 per cent. The World Bank estimates that by 2030, China’s population will peak at 1.4 billion. The fifty-five per cent of China’s population who reside in urban centres have an annual urban growth rate of three per cent. Increasing rates of urbanisation and population growth will increase the demand for water within China and place further pressure on Tibet’s declining water resources downstream.

The Tibetan Plateau has suffered severe environmental degradation. More than 16,100 square kilometres of land was converted to forest between 1949 and 2011 by the Chinese Government. While forests improve soil conditions and purify the air, ecosystems on the plateau already experience competition for water between human consumption and vegetation. Afforestation decreases a region’s river runoff, particularly in arid or semi-arid areas where trees consume significant amounts of water. Such environmental activity exacerbates the scarce supply of water in downstream countries and could contribute to regional conflict over future water security.

The Tibetan Plateau’s rich supply of natural resources has been exploited since the 1960s. Mining threaten the fragile ecosystem of the plateau. Poor environmental regulation has contributed to social tension within Tibet and Tibetan petitions against mining practices have largely been ignored. Protesters concerned about the pollution of Tibet’s streams and rivers have had their protestations suppressed by the Chinese authorities. The government of the Tibet Autonomous Region recently introduced new measures for the conservation of water on the plateau, including regulations to strengthen control over pollution. This development is beneficial for Asia’s water supply, but to further reduce the risk of irreversible water pollution and depletion, China must continue to adopt more sustainable development measures on the plateau.

It's Time We Talked About War With China

March 4, 2016
Whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull intended it or not, his new Defence White Paper has been widely interpreted as sending a clear message that Australia is willing to join our allies in using armed force if necessary to defend the 'rules based global order' from China's strategic ambitions in Asia. Moreover, most people apparently think that's a good message to send.
So it seems wise to ask whether this message is really true. Would we go to war with China over any of the issues which now loom as tests of the future order in Asia - in the Spratlys, or the Senkakus, or even Taiwan?
Most people who approve of the White Paper's message probably do so with complete confidence that the issue will never arise. They assume war won't happen because they are sure the Chinese would always back down rather than risk a clash. Maybe they are right. Confronted with US and allied resolve, Beijing might decide that even Taiwan was simply not worth the immense costs of conflict.
But we shouldn't bet on that, because the Chinese probably think the same about America and its allies. They think a war would be just as costly to us as to them, and they believe the issues at stake matter more to them than to us. So they are likely to assume that, whatever we say now, on the brink we would back off rather than fight. And the more confident they are of that, the less likely they are to back down. It has happened before: in an escalating crisis, both sides assume the other will step back, and so neither does before it's too late. This is exactly what happened in July 1914.

Swarm Wars at Sea: China's Cats vs. America's Dogs

March 3, 2016

In an era in which Chinese hackers have stolen almost every major weapons system from the Pentagon – Aegis, Black Hawk, F-22, F-35, V-22, PAC-3, THAAD -- the Navy brass apparently has decided to just start giving stuff away on YouTube for free, thereby saving Beijing the trouble of stealing or reverse engineering it. 
That was my first thought when I stumbled across a 2014 video from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) trumpeting its development of “autonomous swarm” boats developed to protect American capital ships. As long as ONR has opened up that particular can of swarm boat worms, it might be useful to do a quick strategic comparison of the American versus Chinese swarm boat approach.
In the ONR video, we see a bunch of small and fairly old boats upgraded with a sensor and accompanying software kit called “Caracas.” That’s would seem to be the obvious strength of the American approach: You don’t have to build a bunch of new boats with money the Pentagon doesn’t have – just retrofit the old dogs in the pound with cool new software that moves the human operators to the sidelines.
According to ONR, the autonomous swarming software was adapted from code developed by NASA for the Mars Rover – which is a “name drop” no doubt meant to impress us. On the other hand, how many times has the Mars Rover had to fight off a swarm of Martian bots coming at it at 40 knots? (Did I mention that the ONR video also shows some interesting details about the software and its operation that the Chinese, Russians, and Iranians will no doubt be keenly interested in?)
At any rate, the ONR video demonstrates how a cluster of autonomous swarming boats can quite effectively neutralize a single hostile. That’s all well and good if the goal is to defend against, say, a small fiberglass boat with two suicide bombers like the one that damaged the USS Cole and killed 17 American sailors.

* How China’s transforming military, especially in air, at sea

BEIJING — Even though China says its military is growing at a relatively modest pace of about 7 percent this year, it is clear that the country is marching toward a top-to-bottom expansion and modernization of its forces. Here’s a look at how it’s been changing:
While the land forces still account for about 73 percent of total troop strength, China is shifting resources to the navy and air force. Those services will be responsible for dealing with the main perceived threats to China’s interests — a conflict over control of the South China Sea and a move by self-governing Taiwan toward formal independence that China has threatened to respond to with force. That was a primary motivation behind President Xi Jinping’s Sept. 3 announcement that the PLA would be reduced in size by 300,000 members, drawn mainly from non-combat units and those operating outdated weapons systems.
Seeking an edge in air combat, China invested heavily in Su-27 jets from Russia, eventually copying that technology and producing its own version known as the J-11. Recent years have seen the introduction of an advanced home-made fighter jet, the J-10, and upgraded H-6 bombers capable of longer missions. At least two prototype stealth fighters have flown, although it’s not known what they’re capable of or whether or when they’ll enter service. China has also shot up the global ranks in drone technology, producing unmanned aerial vehicles comparable to the U.S. Air Force’s Predator and Reaper models that are capable of high speeds, sustained overflight and launching missile attacks on ground targets.

Equally dramatic has been the transformation of the People’s Liberation Army Navy from a coastal patrol force to one capable of operating on the high seas far from base. The most eye-catching addition has been the commissioning of the navy’s first aircraft carrier that was purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago then rebuilt, armed and equipped in China. Although the carrier, christened the Liaoning, has yet to take on its full aviation complement, China announced in December that it was already building its second aircraft carrier, this time entirely with domestic technology. China is also adding cutting-edge frigates, destroyers and nuclear submarines and by some estimates has been launching more vessels than any other nation on an annual basis. That rapid modernization is seen as aimed at asserting its maritime claims and extending its power far from its shores, raising tensions with Japan, the U.S. and Southeast Asian nations with rival territorial claims.
China’s missile force, formally known as the Second Artillery, has one of the most potent attack capabilities of any of the world’s armed forces. Along with its nuclear force, China now fields at least 1,200 conventionally armed ballistic missiles, along with an array of land attack cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and — of greatest concern to the U.S. Navy — anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles that may be able to sink an aircraft carrier. China has continued to build its stocks of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles deployed just across the 160-kilometer (100-mile) strait from Taiwan, backing up its threat to attack the island should it irrevocably reject Beijing’s demand for unification.

Along with its gradual shift away from Asian land war preparations, the PLA has been developing systems to prevent outside intervention in contingencies such as a campaign against Taiwan. It’s doing so largely through its use of missiles and submarines, along with cyber warfare efforts to disable opposing forces’ high-tech battle systems. The PLA has also reorganized its structure to better integrate its different services. It’s even shifting some of the longstanding political principles underpinning the PLA’s use of force, moving to set up a logistics center in the African Horn nation of Djibouti that some are calling China’s first overseas base, despite Beijing’s longstanding disavowal of any form of foreign alliance or permanent overseas presence.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

"Why Saudis may take on Iraq’s Shiite militias"

Op-Ed, Al-MonitorFebruary 29, 2016
Author: Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
While the Obama administration focuses its attention on the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, it is ignoring an equally deadly and unchecked terrorist force in the Middle East: the Shiite militias of Iraq. Groups such as Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata'ib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization are the main three of the nearly 40 Shiite militias working under Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, an umbrella organization created, funded and supported by Iran in mid-2014, ostensibly to take on IS. However, as the Saudis and their allies have long known, these militias are in fact a growing terrorist force that has been causing havoc and bloodshed for more than a decade in the name of a sectarian Shiite revolution.

To prepare for the possibility of having to take on these militias in the near future, a massive military training exercise code-named Northern Thunder is getting underway next week in the north of the kingdom. Under the umbrella of the newly announced Saudi-led Islamic anti-terror coalition, joint land, air and naval exercises will take place on the Saudi border adjacent to Iraq. The Saudi National Guard has been conducting exercises and deploying in and out of the theater of operation for the last year, giving it the ability to have around 75,000 troops on the ground at any one time around the Hafar Al Batin military city. The coalition’s first joint exercises will include special forces, mechanized and infantry battalions, as well as air and naval forces from 20 countries, including Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, Sudan, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Mauritania, Chad and all the Arab Gulf states. Overall, between 150,000 to 200,000 troops are taking part in Northern Thunder.

The coalition views these exercises as necessary because Western neglect and a policy of appeasement toward Iran have allowed Tehran to build up these Shiite militia forces such that they have swollen into a disorganized but determined force of over 100,000 men with a substantial arsenal. Many of them have been directly implicated in political violence, torture, murder and terror. A closer look at Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata'ib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization, which are now the primary focus Saudi’s Islamic coalition, gives a clear picture of their violent tactics and direct involvement in destabilizing Iraq and Syria.

Wikistrat Report: East or West — Where Will Russia Send Its Natural Gas?

Posted on January 31, 2016 
Russia’s natural gas policy is at a watershed moment. It still sells most of its gas to Europe, but a slump in demand and accelerated European Union diversification efforts in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea have pushed Moscow to accelerate its quest for market access in the East. Demand there is strong, but Russia does not have the infrastructure to expand rapidly.
In this report, Wikistrat explores Russia’s energy policy, its trajectory and the factors shaping it.
One of our key findings is that Russia isn’t going to make a clear-cut choice between East and West, because it can’t. Moscow must hold onto its European market share and is ultimately willing to comply with legislation — but it won’t do so without putting up a fight.
The Asian market and LNG projects give Gazprom breathing space in the event that Europe’s demand is not strong enough or it sets too many obstacles; however, competition in terms of LNG is fierce, and prices may fall substantially if supply increases or demand softens.

The future size of Russia’s European market share — as well as the likely destination of Russian gas — will become apparent once a definitive deal is reached on one (or several) pipeline routes: 
Nord Stream II (bypassing Ukraine to deliver gas directly to Germany) 
A resurrected Turkish Stream (which was cancelled in December) 
Maintaining the Ukrainian route (the cheaper but politically troublesome option) 
Click here or on the cover image to download the report.

"Putin Hasn't Given Up His Designs on Ukraine"

NATO is wise to bolster its eastern flank, but Kiev needs more defensive armaments right now.
February 17, 2016
Author: David H. Petraeus, Non-resident Senior Fellow
In a clear response to continuing Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO ministers last week approved the deployment of troops on the alliance's eastern flank for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Under NATO's new "enhanced" forward presence, maritime forces will be increased in the Baltic Sea and land forces sent to reinforce defenses in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
While these changes are prudent, none directly addresses the situation on the ground today in Ukraine, which remains a non-NATO member. In recent weeks, Russian-backed separatists have sharply increased their attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk -- a stark reminder that President Vladimir Putin hasn't given up his designs on eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Putin invaded Russia's western neighbor two years ago because he saw its emergence as a stable, democratic country integrated with Europe as a fundamental threat. While he has scaled back overt Russian aggression, this appears to be a temporary tactic designed to win sanctions relief, even as he ratchets up Russia's military intervention in Syria.
In addition to NATO's recent announcement, the U.S. and its NATO allies would be wise to bolster Ukrainian deterrence against further Kremlin adventurism, and to make clear that the price of such adventurism for Russia will be high if deterrence fails. The first step is to provide more effective defensive weapons to Ukrainian forces.

The U.S. and its European partners have done an impressive job imposing economic costs on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine. But they haven't done enough militarily to support Ukraine, which in 1994 gave up the nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union in exchange for trans-Atlantic assurances about the safeguarding of its territorial integrity. These assurances have proven meaningless.
The equipment Ukraine could put to best use in deterring attacks on its territory includes more effective antitank and radar systems. Yet some Western policy makers have been reluctant to provide substantial military support to Ukraine because Russia has "escalation dominance" -- i.e., whatever we give Ukraine, the Kremlin can always do more.

Russia Achieves Tactical Success in the Middle East, But No Strategic Victory


Russia needs good ties with the West more than short-term gains in Ukraine and Syria
Thomas Graham
YaleGlobal, 1 March 2016
Fishing in troubled waters: Syrian President Assad visits Russian President Putin in 2015 before Russian intervention, top; in balancing act, Putin receives Mohammad bin Salman, deputy crown prince and defense minister of Saudi Arabia
NEW HAVEN: Russia is on the march in Syria and Ukraine, defying predictions that it is walking into a quagmire in Syria while economic turmoil at home – exacerbated by Western sanctions – threatens President Putin’s rule. Meanwhile, a divided West objects, but has yet to come up with a coherent response. Perhaps Russian literary classic author Nikolay Gogol was right in likening Russia to a troika roaring along as “other peoples and states look askance and step aside to give her the right of way.” But the galloping troika might soon find that it’s heading in the wrong direction.
From the beginning of its military operation in Syria, Moscow has operated on the now indisputable proposition that the rampant unrest in the Middle East and the mounting challenges to the unity of the European Union are inextricably linked. The wager was that Europe would eventually seize an offer of cooperation in Syria to constrict the migrant flow and contain the terrorist threat and that such cooperation would sap Europe’s aversion to Russian behavior in Ukraine, leading to a decision to ease sanctions, if not lift them entirely. Moscow remains convinced it made a good bet.

In Syria, Russia has secured its military bases on the Mediterranean. Despite initial setbacks, it has rallied the beleaguered forces of its ally, President Bashar al-Assad. In recent weeks, they have consolidated their position in the west of the country, and with Russian air support and Iranian and Hezbollah troops, they are rapidly encircling US-backed anti-Assad rebels in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial hub before the onset of the current conflict. Russia stands at the center of negotiations on a political transition, which provide cover for its actions on the ground while the negotiations falter in large part because of America’s inability to keep united rebel forces and coalition partners at the table. No one doubts any longer that Putin has seized a seat at the table in any future geopolitical reckoning in the Middle East. Cooperation must be looming ahead.

The ISIS WMD Threat

In a town filled with a seemingly endless number of acronyms, none are dreaded as much as ISIS and WMD—especially when put together. Recent allegations that ISIS is seeking nuclear material for a dirty bomb has exacerbated fears that ISIS could inspire a WMD attack outside of the Middle East, but some experts doubt that ISIS and its followers would ever have the technical expertise to pose a real WMD threat.
For a group that thrives off of terrorism, acquiring or developing a weapon of mass destruction—the ultimate psychological weapon—would be ideal. The intent is, therefore, undeniably there. And ISIS would not even need a high-yield WMD to accomplish its goals; rather, any indiscriminate weapon with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) material would terrorize populations to ISIS’ satisfaction.
The U.S. military has already confirmed that ISIS used mustard gas against Kurdish forces, and there are numerous allegations of other attacks involving chemical agents in Syria and Iraq. ISIS has also reportedly stolen radiological material from hospitals in Iraq and Syria.

Although ISIS has proven its ability to acquire and use chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, questions remain about its abilities to pursue other weapons of mass destruction and target outside of the Syria and Iraq. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commanding officer of the UK CBRN Regiment and NATO’s Rapid Reaction CBRN Battalion, believes Russia and France have the highest risks of being attacked by ISIS with a CBRN weapon—Russia because the Chechen jihadists, who claim Russia as their sworn enemy, are behind much of the ISIS WMD development and France because of its proximity to the Middle East and recent threats from radical Muslims within its borders. 
That is not to say, however, that other countries do not have to worry. “I expect the U.S. and UK are already near the very top of the ISIL attack list,” de Bretton Gordon explained. As was the case throughout the Cold War, the large physical and psychological impact that WMD use would have on any given population outweighs the miniscule probability of one being used. 

The End of U.S. Space Supremacy

Space may be infinite, but it’s starting to get crowded around Earth. As more nations have gained the ability to send assets into orbit, a new space race has started to emerge. But rather than focus on merely reaching space, the goal now is to leverage dominance in space into a material advantage on the ground – in terms of both commerce and military force.
There is a growing commercial space industry, and the number of satellites launched into orbit is increasing. The world economy is dependent, at least in part, upon the telecommunications and navigation capabilities that these satellites provide. Although there has been a distinct military component to space since the Cold War, space is now similar to the sea during the age of exploration – it is critical for commerce, but it is also being militarized very rapidly.
For the United States, space assets have become an essential aspect of projecting force abroad. Since the First Gulf War in 1991, the U.S. has focused heavily on developing and expanding its ability to utilize precision-guided munitions (PGM), which require GPS to work. By using satellites to guide munitions to their targets, the U.S. has managed to create a way of waging war that is extremely precise and minimizes both collateral damage and civilian deaths. Satellite based communications have allowed the U.S. to create very nuanced command and control capabilities. And, as The Cipher Brief has reported, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency has made great use of space assets to contribute to intelligence collection efforts.

US tech firms bypassing Pentagon to protect deals with China, strategist says

The US government has an increasingly tense relationship with Silicon Valley, Peter Singer says, yet needs its help to battle the ‘new cold war’ with China
The US Department of Defense has been trying to court Silicon Valley firms with an $18bn budget to invest in next-generation technologies.
Olivia Solon in San Francisco,  Wednesday 2 March 2016 

Silicon Valley companies are shying away from selling cyberwarfare services to the Pentagon to avoid jeopardising their relationship with the Chinese market, a leading geopolitical strategist has suggested.
Peter Singer, an author and senior fellow at the New America Foundation thinktank, said the United States and China are engaged in a new cold war – being fought partly in cyberspace – that “could turn hot”.
Known tactics in this new cold war include Chinese cyber-spies stealing secrets relating to the US military’s F-35 stealth jet to build a clone warplane. Meanwhile, China has complained that the US takes advantage of its power to “unscrupulously monitor other countries” under the pretense of fighting terrorism.
China’s hi-tech military capabilities – including the world’s fastest supercomputer, a soon-to-launch “unhackable” quantum communications satellite, a hypersonic weapons programme and armed ground robotics – have left the United States trying to play catch-up, Singer explained during a talk at the RSA security conference in San Francisco.

Isis: Pentagon launches 'aggressive cyberwar' against Daesh to curb spread of propaganda

By Jason Murdock, February 29, 2016 
The attacks will include efforts to prevent the spread of video and images on Facebook and Twitter.Flickr/Marvin Lynchard
US cyber experts have ramped up offensive cyberattacks against the Islamic State (Isis) in an attempt to disrupt the group's ability to use the internet to spread propaganda and launch recruitment drives, according to US officials.
The operations, led from US Cyber Command at Ford Meade, Maryland, have now been stepped up by high-level government players who have argued the US is falling behind in the ongoing cyberwar, reported the Associated Press. According to those close to the operation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the cyberattacks will now aim to see 'what works and what doesn't'.
While they declined to discuss specific details, the officials said the attacks will include efforts to prevent the spread of video and image distribution on websites like Facebook and Twitter. Other attacks will likely include attempting to curb Islamic State-affiliated targets from conducting financial or logistical transactions online.
The news comes following a meeting at Fort Meade on 27 January between intelligence commanders, defence secretary Ashton Carter and Marine General JosephDunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. The officials close to the meeting revealed the secretary was becoming frustrated that US Cyber Command, which officially started operations in 2010, is not effectivelty blocking the communications and terrorist campaigns, instead choosing to focus its attention on hackers from the traditional hacking culprits of China, Russia and Iran. Now, US cyber-tactics are expected to become increasingly agressive.

We're fighting an invisible war -- in cyberspace

Destructive skirmishes are taking place in cyberspace right now, and http://www.cnet.com/au/news/were-fighting-an-invisible-war-in-cyberspace/increasingly they're spilling into people's daily lives.
Last December, part of the Ukraine saw its power grid suddenly go dark.
No one's claimed responsibility, but the grid had been hit by an online attack that took out the system remotely. Experts agree on a likely suspect: the Russian government, headquartered more than 800 miles away.
It appears to be the first time a cyberattack has knocked out a power grid.
The outage is just one example of the growing threat of cyberwar, a practice that's become a primary focus of governments and terrorist organizations worldwide. Underlining this point, the US has started going public with its own attacks. On Monday, Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that the US is hitting ISIS systems with cyberassaults.
The attacks aim "to cause them to lose confidence in their networks, to overload their networks so they can't function," Rogers said, according to multiple reports. He didn't provide details, and the Department of Defense didn't respond to a request Friday for more information.
If we didn't know it already, the Ukraine attack and Ash's remarks make it clear there are destructive skirmishes taking place in cyberspace right now, and increasingly they're spilling into people's daily lives.
Director of US Cyber Command Michael Rogers: "It's only a matter of the when, not the if, you are going to see a nation state, a group or an actor engage in destructive behavior against critical infrastructure of the United States."Mike Theiler/EPA/Corbis
Cyberattacks can be designed to damage critical infrastructure, like the strike against the power grid in the Ukraine. They can be geared toward stealing important government secrets, like the theft of federal employee records from the US Office of Personnel Management last year. And they can even be about retaliating against private companies for political reasons, like when Sony found its systems hacked just as it planned to release a film mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

NATO developing strategic relations between Turkey and Israel for cyber warfare in Middle East

Mehmet Bildik, March 4, 2016
NATO is implementing a coordinated approach to cyber defence that encompasses planning and capability development aspects in addition to response mechanisms in the event of a cyber attack. To achieve this, NATO is incorporating and integrating cyber defence measures across all Alliance missions. NATO is also developing minimum requirements for those national networks that are connected to NATO information.

Therefore, NATO is identifying its critical dependencies on its allies’ national information systems and working with its allies to develop minimum cyber defence requirements. NATO is defending its territory and populations against all threats, including emerging security challenges through cyber defence. On that point, the NATO policy on Cyber Defence reiterates that any collective defence response is subject to decisions of the North Atlantic Council, which is enhancing NATO consultation mechanisms, early warning, situational awareness and information-sharing among the allies. In this regard, Russian hacker groups affiliated with the Russian government carried several cyber attacks to the computers of Ukrainian administration officials and to agencies in NATO.
Russia has been using a form of hybrid warfare in Ukraine since early 2014 that relies on an element of information warfare that Russia calls “reflexive control”. The primary objective of the reflexive control techniques Moscow has employed in the Ukrainian situation has been to persuade the West and strong NATO allies to remain on the sidelines as Russia dismantles Ukraine. Russia has used force against Ukraine by engaging in “hybrid warfare”. Rather than openly using military power to secure its political objectives in Ukraine, Russia has adopted an approach intended to give the Kremlin “plausible deniability” while reducing the cost associated with engaging Ukraine’s armed force directly. On that point, cyber conflict and cyber warfare present great examples of the use of new technologies within the scope of hybrid warfare. The adversary is usually difficult to locate and to respond to in the cyber domain. Cyber space allows for a great deal of anonymity and attacks can be routed through servers all over the globe to mask its origin. On December 23, 2015 the power grid in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine went down for a reported six hours, leaving about 1.4 million people without power.

Red Alert: The Growing Threat to U.S. Aircraft Carriers

FEBRUARY 22, 2016 

Kelley Sayler 

Confessions of a Hybrid Warfare Skeptic

Journal Article | March 3, 2016 
For nearly a decade I have been aware of the “hybrid warfare” concept. Having read numerous treatments and discussions of the idea, I have frequently been tantalized by the possibility that something genuinely special or different is being captured in the term, something that will change how I think about (or think about responding to) certain conflicts. To date, that possibility remains unrealized, and I join a host of critics in being skeptical of the utility of the notion of hybrid war or hybrid threat.
More recently, a number of other, similar terms haven begun fighting for attention and a place in the lexicon, some new, like “gray zone” and some recycled from the past, like “ambiguous warfare,” and “political warfare.” As I read these offerings I once again found certain aspects of the concepts to be insightful, but ultimately found them wanting, either because they are insufficiently distinct (they cover too many situations that are too different) or because the differences they highlight just don’t seem all that important.

In this short article I review these various concepts and what I view as their shortcomings, but I also try to tease out what I think they contribute that is important: That we are party to a host of conflicts and competitions that take place in the space between peace and war, that they are contested with capabilities all across the range of the diplomatic, informational, military, and economic elements of power, and that we are particularly ill-prepared for such conflicts or competitions when the two sides have mismatched perceptions of the type, nature, character, or intensity of competition. I conclude by recommending that we abandon our strict distinction between peace and war, move away from the conceptual constraints of the joint phasing model, and work to find more precise ways to distinguish between the different kinds of competitions and means of contesting them that will help us detect, recognize, and respond appropriately to different forms of aggression.

Hybrid Warfare: Neither New Nor Unusual
The vocabulary of hybrid warfare and hybrid threat has been adopted fairly widely, including formal use in NATO discussions and across the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Special Operations Command. The concept dates back to the mid-2000s, and has always hinted at something I found interesting, an assertion that we should expect to see more conflicts which blur and mix types of conflict, conflicts that “blur the distinction between war and peace, and combatants and non-combatants...”[i]This hint of novelty has always been swallowed up by something I found more pedestrian, the simultaneity of conventional and unconventional forces and operations. The concept has remained stuck on this blending of conventional and unconventional, with hybrid threat remaining: “Any adversary that simultaneously employs a tailored mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal behavior in the same time and battlespace to obtain their political objectives.”[ii]