11 March 2016

All About Pay and Perks: India’s Defence Budget 2016-17

Laxman K BeheraMarch 03, 2016

“At a time when major powers are reducing their forces and rely more on technology, we are still constantly seeking to expand the size of our forces. Modernisation and expansion of forces at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal. We need forces that are agile, mobile and driven by technology, not just human valour.”
-- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Combined Commanders Conference, December 15, 2015

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the Union Budget 2016-17 to the Parliament on February 29, 2016 set aside Rs. 3,40,921.98 crore (US$ 52.2 billion) for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Mr. Jaitley made a key change in the long-established format of resource allocation among the three defence forces (army, navy and air force) and other establishments under the MoD. The change in format has, however, not changed the skewed nature of growth of MoD’s allocation. Since the implementation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) recommendations in 2008-09, these allocations have been dominated by the increases in manpower cost. The new budget has gone a step further in accommodating the increases in pay and pension at the cost of capital expenditure, most of which is spent on procurement for capability enhancement of the defence forces. The implementation of the defence One Rank One Pension (OROP) and Seventh CPC recommendations set to take effect from next fiscal year brings into stark focus the desirability of manpower-led increases in the defence budget and the long-term sustainability of modernisation expenditure.
Change in Format

The long-used format for defence resource allocation has undergone a change in the budget of 2016-17. As per the new format, MoD’s total allocation is distributed into four Demands, in comparison to eight in the earlier format (Table 1). It seems that the intent is to rationalise the budget-making process and show the allocations provided to the three armed forces separately from the allocations made to other organisations under the MoD. As a result, some of the organisations – such as the Ordnance Factories (OFs), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Director General Quality Assurance (DGQA), Rashtriya Rifles (RR), National Cadet Corps (NCC), Military Firms (MF) and Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) - which earlier shared their budget with the armed forces’ budget, are now made part of the Demand no. 20 of the new format.

US moves to harness India to anti-China “pivot”

Published March 9, 2016

The head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, gave a highly provocative speech in New Delhi last week in which he laid out the “next steps” in Washington’s strategic agenda for India. Claiming to be “a bit moonstruck…by the opportunities a strategic partnership with India” provide, Harris said he envisioned the US and Indian navies jointly patrolling the Indian and Pacific Oceans in “the not too distant future.”
He also urged India to form a quadrilateral security “dialogue” with the US and its closest military allies in the Asian-Pacific region, Japan and Australia.
Later the same day, Admiral Harris proposed that the recently established annual trilateral Indo-US-Japanese naval exercise take place off the northeast shore of the Philippines, just outside the South China Sea—a contested region where the US has been encouraging its allies to press their territorial claims against China.
In sum, Harris urged India to become a “frontline state” in the US drive to strategically isolate, encircle and potentially wage war against China.

By virtually any measure, India is a poor country. But US imperialist strategists, including the Pentagon war planners, have been touting it as a “strategic prize” since the beginning of the 21st century. The efforts to harness India to US imperialism’s predatory global agenda, through a combination of threats and poison-chaliced inducements, have greatly intensified since the Obama administration announced its anti-China “pivot” in 2011.
US strategists covet India for multiple reasons. It is the second largest of the world’s “emerging economies.” It has a huge military, armed with nuclear weapons and a rapidly expanding blue-water navy. From a geostrategic standpoint, it dominates South Asia (the Indian subcontinent), providing a potential base of operations for projecting US power across much of Eurasia, including towards neighbouring China and the energy-rich Middle East and Central Asia.
Last but not least, India protrudes far into the Indian Ocean, providing easy access to the entire northern half of that ocean, which, as a recent US Naval War College-sponsored study notes, “has replaced the North Atlantic as the central artery of world commerce.”
The strategists of US imperialism view dominance of the Indian Ocean as essential to US global hegemony. First and foremost, because it is at the heart of US plans to impose an economic blockade on China through strategic maritime “chokepoints” in the event of war or war crisis. But also because the Indian Ocean is a key staging ground for US military operations in the Middle East and East Africa.

* Who Speaks For India? A Tale Of Three Minds: The Economic Adviser, The Finance Minster And The Central Banker

05 March 2016

Written by Sanjeev Kulkarni
India's Annual budget for April 2016 to March 2017 was presented on February 29, 2016. A few days earlier, The Economic Survey for the fiscal year April 2014 to March 2015 was presented. Both are work products of separate teams in the Ministry Of Finance led by the Finance Minister GOI (government of India). These are complex documents and we will attempt to present some interpretation here.

Economic Surveys are normally drab affairs, as if conspired to glaze your eyes, but with good intention of being sleeping pills for people suffering from Economic Insomnia. One suspects that they are read mainly by the authors, their doting family members and faithful juniors. There is a joke that no one, including the authors, understand these surveys. The findings of the Economic Survey are promptly trashed by the Finance Minister during preparation of the Annual Budget which is presented a few days later.

We will try to come to the rescue of hapless Budget Makers and Finance Ministers.
For example The Economic Survey, published in February 2016 near the end of the current financial year April 2015 to March 2016, is for the period April 2014 To March 2015. The Budget Planners for the next financial year (April 2016 to March 2017) will have been working for two years with unreliable data in the fast paced economic world and subject to political push and pulls. So what do you normally do? Trash the newly published survey!! No wonder budget documents resemble Swiss cheese, full of holes, year after year.

We detect a paradigm shift this time. For the first time in memory, perhaps in the history of independent India, The Economic Survey published on February 26, 2016 is refreshingly different. It is an attempt to accurately capture the State of the Economy and the trends for last couple of years. It makes no attempts to "please the bosses". For a change, the budget proposals announced on February 29 by the Finance Minister, few days later have perhaps not trashed The Economic Survey, which for once seems to stand on its own merit.
In an introduction to the Economic Survey 2014-2015, main author Arvind Subramanian Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GOI says:
"The Survey places a premium on new ideas or new perspectives both of an academic and policy nature. The limitations of time and resources mean that new ideas may not pass the most rigorous standards of the academy. But the approach is to find new data or present old data in a new form, to make connections, and to draw insights wherever possible, all with the aim of shedding light on policy. The aim is to provoke and stimulate debate and discussion, thereby enriching the process of policy-making, and hopefully, improving its outcome.

Security Trends South Asia » India Terrorism » Laser Walls along riverine stretches of India-Pakistan Border

PIB Press Release
Mar 5, 2016 
Laser Walls along riverine stretches of India-Pakistan Border

Border Security Force (BSF) has taken various measures to check the infiltration of the terrorists along Indo-Pakistan border. Installing laser walls is one of the integrated measures taken by BSF. The laser technology developed by BSF has been designed to cover all the shortcomings experienced in the use of laser wall at various places in the past. The present technology has been found working satisfactorily to cover the unfenced riverine stretches.
To check the infiltration across borders has always been a top priority for the Government. The Government of India in tandem with the State Governments, have adopted a multi-pronged approach to contain cross border infiltration, which inter-alia, includes strengthening of border management and multi-tiered deployment along the International Border, monitoring of infiltration routes, construction of border fencing including plugging the gaps through technological solutions, weapons and equipments for Security Forces, improved intelligence and operational coordination.
The places where the laser walls is to be installed along Indo-Pakistan border, depends upon the threat perceptions and other related factors which are reviewed frequently.
This information was given by Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju in written reply to a question by Shri Majeed Memon and Shri S. Thangavelu in the Rajya Sabha today.

Security Trends South Asia » India Terrorism » Preparedness to prevent smuggling of fake currency

PIB Press Release
Feb 26, 2016 
Preparedness to prevent smuggling of fake currency into the country

To prevent the smuggling of FICN into the country, multiple steps have been taken by the Government as under :-

(i) The Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs, Reserve Bank of India, Security and Intelligence Agencies to the Centre and States are working in tandem to thwart the illegal activities related to FICNs. One Special FICN Co- ordination (FCORD) Group has been formed by the MHA to share intelligence/information among the different Security Agencies of State/Centre to counter the problem of circulation of Fake currency notes in the country. The CBI and National Investigation Agency are the Central Agencies for investigation of FICN cases. The Government has also constituted a Terror Funding & Fake Currency Cell (TFFC) in NIA to investigate Terror Funding and Fake currency cases.

(ii) The legal regime has been strengthened by amendments in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) wherein damage to the monetary stability of India by way of production or smuggling or circulation of High Quality Fake Indian Paper currency, coin or any other material has been declared as a “Terrorist” act.

(iii) A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between India and Bangladesh to prevent and counter smuggling and circulation of Fake Currency Notes. The objective of this MOU is to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of preventing and combating, production, smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes, taking into account the applicable laws and legal provisions of the two countries.

(iv) The RBI conducts awareness programmes to make the public aware of the features of Indian Bank notes and to identify genuine Indian bank notes. The RBI regularly conducts training programmes on detection of counterfeit notes for employees/officers of banks and other organizations handling large amount of cash.

To prevent smuggling of fake currency notes in India, staff posted at airports, Railway Stations and border posts have been sensitized from time to time, which has resulted in significant hauls of FICN in these locations.

This was stated by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary in a written reply to a question by Dr. Kanwar Deep Singh in the Rajya Sabha today.

Why Strategic Planning Matters to National Security

Sunday, March 6, 2016, 
Editor's Note: Most national security bureaucracies regularly go through time-consuming reviews and strategic planning exercises. Are these efforts valuable? Jordan Tama of American University argues that they are – at least some of the time and under select conditions. Reviews can change policy when an external crisis or failure challenges existing policy and when the president or other senior leaders are directly involved. In addition, they can help bureaucracies achieve buy-in and otherwise sort themselves out.
The great complexity of most contemporary international challenges – think climate change, the war in Syria, the struggle against ISIS, the refugee crisis, the Zika virus, and cyber threats – means that these challenges can only be addressed if government agencies plan effectively. In an apparent recognition of the need for such planning, strategy statements have become ubiquitous in government.

In the United States, these statements range from the overarching National Security Strategy issued by the president to more tailored strategy documents produced by the White House or individual agencies on specific issues, such as terrorism or cyberspace. Security strategy statements have also become standard practice among many other countries and international institutions, from the United Kingdom and theNetherlands, to Japan and Australia, to the United Nations and the European Union.
Government strategy statements are typically developed via strategic reviews in which officials consider and deliberate over strategic proposals. In recent research, I have evaluated the outcomes of several U.S. national security reviews in an effort to understand whether these reviews generate important changes in government strategy or other aspects of government operations.
Government strategic planning efforts do sometimes result in major strategic changes.

My findings are mixed. Government strategic planning efforts do sometimes result in major strategic changes. This is much more likely when an external shock places pressure on policymakers to change course. In that context, a strategic review can shape the specific character of change by fostering administration deliberation that generates greater consensus regarding the merits of strategic options and policy choices. But in the absence of an external shock, inertia and the pro-status quo bias of bureaucracies tend to make it difficult for senior officials to institute major changes.

The World Has a Problem: Too Many Young People

AT no point in recorded history has our world been so demographically lopsided, with old people concentrated in rich countries and the young in not-so-rich countries.
Much has been made of the challenges of aging societies. But it’s the youth bulge that stands to put greater pressure on the global economy, sow political unrest, spur mass migration and have profound consequences for everything from marriage to Internet access to the growth of cities.
The parable of our time might well be: Mind your young, or they will trouble you in your old age.
A fourth of humanity is now young (ages 10 to 24). The vast majority live in the developing world, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
Nowhere can the pressures of the youth bulge be felt as profoundly as in India. Every month, some one million young Indians turn 18 — coming of age, looking for work, registering to vote and making India home to the largest number of young, working-age people anywhere in the world.

Already, the number of Indians between the ages of 15 and 34 — 422 million — is roughly the same as the combined populations of the United States, Canada and Britain.
By and large, today’s global youth are more likely to be in school than their parents were; they are more connected to the world than any generation before them; and they are in turn more ambitious, which also makes them more prone to getting fed up with what their elders have to offer. Many are in no position to land a decent job at home. And millions are moving, from country to city, and to cities in faraway countries, where they are increasingly unwelcome.
Democratically elected presidents and potentates are equally aware: Aspirations, when thwarted, can be a potent, spiteful force. No longer can you be sure that a large swell of young working-age people will enrich your country, as they did a generation ago in East Asia. “You can’t just say, ‘Hey look, I’ve got a youth bulge, it’s going to be great,’ ” said Charles J. Kenny, an economist at the Washington-based Center for Global Development. “You’ve got to have an economy ready to respond.”
The Youth Bulge 
Percent of total population ages 10–24 in 2013. 

* Will Russian Aggression Ramp Up US Army Focus on Electronic Warfare Needs?

Jen Judson, Defense News, March 7, 2016 
WASHINGTON — The US Army’s Electronic Warfare Division chief for operations likes to say his favorite person is Vladimir Putin.
The reason?
“Vladimir Putin and the things that he has done in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine and starting to do in Syria is getting a lot of attention on what it means to have a modern, ready, [electronic warfare]-capable force,” Col. Jeffrey Church said in a recent interview. “Those actions have gotten more traction for Army Electronic Warfare and the need to do that than anything previous.”
The Army relies on the electromagnetic spectrum for everything from the individual soldier’s communications to precise weapons targeting and situational awareness, but even with this major dependence, the service is slow to develop its electronic warfare capability, Church said.
All of those investments that we make, those billions of dollars of investments that we make in our other weapons systems and other command and control systems, those can be significantly challenged by our adversaries’ investments in electronic warfare,” Church said.
The Russians in particular have continued to develop strong electronic warfare tactics. Just how good the Russians are is highlighted in the war in Ukraine. US Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges has called that capability “eye-watering” on many occasions.
While the Russians never stopped developing EW capabilities, the US has not focused heavily on a serious electronic warfare capability for a long time.
Church sees this changing.

What happened to the Army’s EW capability?
The Army used to have a robust electronic warfare capability during the Cold War, Church said.
Warrant Officer Kilian Jakob, left, electronic warfare technician, and Sgt. 1st Class Juan Aviles, electronic warfare specialist, both from 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, practice using electronic warfare equipment during joint training with the Air Force at the Moorman Space Education and Training Center on Peterson Air Force Base, Oct. 31, 2013. (Photo: Sgt. Jonathan Thibault - US Army) 
The service’s Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence Battalions were equipped and trained to win in a contested electromagnetic spectrum. These battalions had helicopters outfitted for electronic surveillance and attack, they had jamming capabilities, could collect signals, listen to various frequencies and make decisions on whether to keep listening or even attack it, Church explained.
Then the Soviet Union dissolved and the US entered the an era of peace. “Part our peace dividend that the Army cashed in on was we got out of electronic warfare,” Church said.
The Army determined it could rely on the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps’ capabilities instead.
Then the Army found itself back in war in Iraq and Afghanistan where it encountered the radio-controlled improvised explosive device — the number one killer of US forces.
Roadside bombs were often detonated remotely using a basic cell phone. “We said we need to get back into the business of defeating things like these radio transmissions called cell phones,” Church said.

Explainer: China’s One Belt One Road initiative

6 March 2016 
What is One Belt One Road? 
One Belt One Road refers to the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road.” Chinese President Xi Jinping first brought up the concept during foreign visits in late 2013. It is Xi’s signature world economic strategy.
One Belt One Road is not an entity or a treaty. It is a development initiative whose name was inspired by the ancient land and maritime silk road.
The Chinese government aims to connect China with the rest of Asia, Africa and Europe via land and sea. The initiative maps out five areas of cooperation with Belt and Road countries and regions: policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people.

Ancient land silk road (red line) and maritime silk road (blue line). Photo: Wikicommons.
What countries and regions are involved? 
Inside China, the “Silk Road Economic Belt” includes 12 provinces and one municipality, namely Xinjiang, Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Guangxi, Yunnan, Tibet and Chongqing.
The “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” includes four provinces and one municipality, namely Fujian, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hainan and Shanghai.

Outside of China, over 50 countries are along the “belt” and the “road.” They include:
Asia: Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Maldives, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Israel and Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan.
Africa: Kenya, Sudan, Egypt and Djibouti.
Europe: Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Germany, the Netherlands.

The “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road.” Photo: HKFP.

Changing Contexts of Chinese Military Strategy and Doctrine

IDSA Monograph Series No. 49
This monograph identifies the contexts which have shaped China's military strategy and doctrine. It argues that these have evolved through Party-Military relations as well as through the Chinese leadership's assessment of the international balance of power. In this framework, the monograph has traced the PLA's strategic and doctrinal transformation from a defensive one to one of limited offence, having global aspirations, affecting further changes in China's military strategy and doctrine.

Where China Stands

Had I posted this article even as little as eighteen months ago, the answer would have run somewhat as follows. Ever since Deng Xiaoping took over in 1979, China’s star has been on the ascendant. A backward, relatively small, economy has transformed itself. Achieving historically unprecedented growth rates, it is now the second largest in the world (in terms of GDP) and poised to become the first at some time between 2020 and 2030.
As China’s economy expanded, so did its armed forces and its foreign policy objectives. China is developing modern combat aircraft. China has started building a second aircraft carrier. China’s latest cruise missiles have the range to challenge the ability of the American Navy to assist Taiwan if necessary. China is actively seeking to dominate the huge area known as the South China Sea. And so on and so on. Such being the situation, the only question is how to manage Beijing’s spectacular rise; by seeking to “integrate it into the international system” (whatever that may mean) or by actively opposing it by every means short of major war.

A year later, what a change! By the headlines, Chinese economic growth has slowed to “only” 6.9 percent, the lowest in two and a half decades. The stock market is falling. The country’s debts threaten to overwhelm it. Thanks to the (recently abandoned) one child policy, the future of its labor force is in some doubt. China may have reached the point where Japan was back in 1990 (at that time Japan accounted for 10 percent of the world’s GDP; since then its share has been reduced by half). This state of affairs may cause Beijing to slow the pace of armament and moderate its foreign policy. Or else, to the contrary, it may force the leadership to become more belligerent by way of diverting its people’s attention from the country’s internal problems.


By Mohid Iftikhar and Dr. Faizullah Abbasi
From a historical perspective, the term Silk Road was not commonly used until it was coined by German Geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen in 1877. The ancient Silk Road continues to captivate various fields of study including history, sociology, archeology, politics, and international relations. In a general sense, the Silk Road is known as a series of routes that connected Asia, Europe and Africa, both through land and the sea. The 20th Century brought about various debates for the Silk Road and its revival. In 2013, Chinese Presient Xi Jinping advocated for the revival of the New Silk Road under objectives of regional cooperation and harmony. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a revitalized phenomenon under the ancient concept that promotes globalization under the principles of peace, mutual economic benefits, and sustainable development in the maritime sphere. This article aims to offer a comparative view between the ancient and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Ancient Maritime Silk Road

In the book “The Silk Road: Travel, Trade, War and Faith” Whitefield and Williams (2004) argue that some discrepancy exists with regard to names and places associated to the Silk Road. Any form of text relating to the Silk Road is on account of human narratives, where myths play an equally important role. Exchange between civilizations (religion art, trade, etc.) has contributed to this variety of viewpoints. One of the most integral elements of the Silk Road was the maritime domain. The ancient maritime Silk Road emerged as a new economic architecture that was beyond trade, embryonic to social interaction, political dependence, and a shift in power relations. However, counterintuitive arguments have been introduced in the 20th century from scholars that reflect upon dimensions of imperialism.

Is The Islamic State In Its Death Throes Or Deadlier Than Ever?

09 March 2016, from STRATFOR
-- this post authored by Scott Stewart
On Feb. 28, the Islamic State launched a complex attack involving three vehicle bombs and an armed assault against an Iraqi security forces barracks in Abu Ghraib, a suburb of Baghdad only about 29 kilometers (18 miles) from the center of the Iraqi capital. Since the attack, many journalists have questioned whether the Islamic State is really being damaged by coalition airstrikes, and some have even suggested that the group may be stronger than ever.
These viewpoints stand in stark contrast to an article published by the Daily Beast last week, in which a Defense Department official was quoted as saying the Islamic State was "entering its death throes." But neither of these takes on the Islamic State is correct. It is true that coalition airstrikes and coordinated movement by ground forces in Iraq and Syria have diminished the group's manpower, finances, supply of equipment and territorial control. But it will be a long time before the Islamic State is defeated.
Looking Back

When assessing the capability of a militant organization, it is important to remember that military action can be classified on a gradient scale. On the scale's low end is terrorism through guerrilla warfare, and on its high end is hybrid and conventional maneuver warfare.
It takes far more resources to fight a conventional warfare-style battle than it does to engage in hit-and-run guerrilla warfare attacks. Indeed, rather than use the men and resources required to conduct one large conventional battle, a group can reserve them and then dole them out more slowly over time in a sustained guerrilla war. Terrorist attacks require even fewer resources than guerrilla or insurgent warfare. We saw this principle in action after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where, after a perfunctory defense, Saddam Hussein ordered his armed forces to disperse and engage in irregular warfare rather than attempt to directly face the superior firepower of the U.S. military and its coalition partners.
In that case, it was clear that Saddam had lost control of Iraq - and was therefore weaker from a conventional military standpoint. However, that did not mean his forces did not pose a significant irregular warfare and terrorist threat. By 2004, Sunni insurgents had taken over cities including Fallujah and Ramadi and were a significant threat inside Baghdad. But as the insurgency grew in size and scope, Iraqi nationalists lost control, and the insurgency began to take on a more pronounced jihadist character. Known as Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the group first renamed itself al Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers in 2004 and then the Islamic State in Iraq in 2006. The group proclaimed the city of Ramadi to be its capital, but it was not able to bask in the glow of its newly minted jihadist polity for long. By late 2006, U.S. forces had defeated the jihadists in Ramadi, and the pressure of the U.S. surge and the Anbar Awakening began to steadily push them out of the territory they had once controlled.

This Is What Life Is Like For Egyptians Caught In A War

Residents across towns and villages in North Sinai told BuzzFeed News they have become targets of both militant groups and the Egyptian army. posted on Mar. 7, 2016, 
AL-ARISH, Egypt — When ISIS fighters torched 40 cars and trucks belonging to a garbage collection provider in North Sinai, they had a plan — to stop the collection of trash, so they could use the piles of rubbish to plant bombs.
Not long after the attack last month, Care Service was forced to shut down and let go of its 400 employees.
Mohamed Hassan, who worked for Care Service and was among those who lost their jobs, remembers the night when armed men in masks barged into the company compound, told the staff to sit down, and warned them they’d be shot if they so much as moved.
“Then they poured gasoline on the cars and torched them,” said Hassan (not his real name — he requested we use a pseudonym out of fears for his safety). “Then they fired gunshots in the air and fled.”
Just a few years ago, North Sinai was mostly known as a tourist destination, with its pristine beaches attracting visitors from around the world. But in recent years, it has become the battleground for an increasingly bloody confrontation between Islamist fighters associated with ISIS, and the Egyptian army, which has fought fire with fire.
Across towns and villages in North Sinai, Islamist fighters have destroyed the livelihoods of people like Hassan. But the Egyptian army has been equally destructive. Hassan described the moment Egyptian soldiers burst into his brother’s house and destroyed his farm while carrying out a search for militants.
“They could have simply searched the house and left, but they ruined everything on the farm,” he said. “Why do they insist on turning us into enemies?”
Residents of North Sinai who spoke to BuzzFeed News described how they have become the victims of a vicious war, trapped between radical Islamists on one side and the Egyptian state on the other. Today, many parts of the Sinai peninsula are under control of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a radical Islamist group that came to the forefront after the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Since then, the group has pledged its allegiance to ISIS — and changed its name to Wilayat Sinai, which means the State of Sinai — and even though the strength of the group is unknown, it has successfully carried out major terrorist operations in North Sinai.

Stratfor: Iran’s Hard-Liners lose the election. Big changes ahead.

Summary: We tend to see the complex politics of America but assume Iran’s mullahs rule a tyranny. Last week’s elections prove otherwise. Here Stratfor describes Iran’s politics and the election’s results. The new leadership team will have to sail through these troubled waters. Iran’s fragile economy is under incredible pressure from the collapse of oil prices — while the military struggle continues for dominance in the region and the agreement with Obama gives Iran new opportunities. 
Stratfor, 1 March 2016
Over the weekend, 33 million Iranians went to the polls to vote in historic dual elections, and the results suggest that an important change is underway in Iranian politics. According to the latest reports, the country’s parliamentary elections yielded a rough three-way split among reformists, moderate conservatives and hard-liners. Of the 285 seats up for grabs, 70 will be contested in a runoff vote in April. Meanwhile, the Assembly of Experts elections resulted in a landslide victory for allies of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as moderate politicians walked away with 15 of Tehran’s 16 district seats.
For Iran’s hard-liners, these results are discouraging. Hard-line politicians lost ground in both the parliament and the Assembly of Experts. Moreover, substantial wins by reformists and pragmatic conservatives in both elections suggest that moderate candidates’ strategy of cooperating across the ideological spectrum has proved successful. But with no guarantee that unity among Iran’s moderate factions will hold once the final votes have been tallied, the outcome says more about what Iranian voters want than about what the newly elected bodies can actually deliver.

While Iran’s Interior Ministry has yet to release the official voter turnout, it is no surprise that many polling locations had to extend their hours to accommodate long lines of voters in this round of elections. Iran’s reformist factions, which comprise secular and Islamist politicians promising to adapt to an ever-changing world, typically capture many votes, especially in urban areas. However, these factions boycotted elections in 2004 and 2008 in response to the clerical Guardian Council’s disqualification of hundreds of their peers from the elections. As a result, voter turnout was much lower in both years than it was on Feb. 26.
In the face of potential disqualification and tight controls by the highly conservative Guardian and Expediency councils, Iranian politicians tend to form coalitions and secure endorsements before the elections are held to try to ensure seats. However, these marriages of convenience do not always hold up once the vote is over. Before the reformist-moderate coalition can be considered a newly cemented political force that will lead Iran toward pragmatic change, it is important to consider the issues dividing it and the challenges that lie ahead for the country as a whole.

Saudi Arabia Needs a Crisis

March 7, 2016 
How It Will Get One
Even in a year of hyperbole, it is hard to overstate how dire Saudi Arabia’s security situation has become. It is ugly and is getting worse, and Riyadh badly needs a crisis to make it better.
Three events have left Saudi Arabia in this mess. First, Russian military forces have begun operating freely in the Middle East, unchecked by any great power for the first time in history. In the past, Russia’s southern probes have always been balanced by a rival: the United States during Yom Kippur in 1973; the British through the Qajar Shahs in Iran and in support of the Ottomans in the nineteenth century; and the Turks during the wars of 1914–18 and 1877–78 and before. But now, Russia’s only potential rivals in the area—the United States and Europe—are holding back, leaving the much weaker Saudi Arabia to balance Russia on its own.
Second, Saudi Arabia’s rivals are unified to an unprecedented degree across the Middle East. Those unchecked Russian forces are working in the field alongside Iran, and Iran is uniquely strong in the modern era. For the first time in the modern era, it is aligned with Iraq, and Iraq is aligned with Syria. The Iranian nuclear deal has furthermore given Tehran $150 billion in sanctions relief and reintegrated it back into the geopolitical mainstream without the country having had to relinquish any of its regional ambitions. The victory of Iran’s reformists in their March parliamentary elections will further accelerate the process, since it will reassure the West and solidify the deal.

Members of Iraqi security forces are silhouetted while deployed at the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, February 17, 2016.
Third, for the first time in history, Saudi Arabia is without a great-power protector. The United States is no longer tacitly guaranteeing Saudi security, nor endorsing its aims in regional conflicts like Syria and Yemen. The Saudis, effectively, stand alone.
That’s why Saudi Arabia needs something big to happen. A major crisis with Iran could strengthen Saudi Arabia in two ways.
First, there is a chance that it could derail the American-Iranian detente. The Obama administration has not quite reconciled itself to accepting a Middle East that is rebalanced in Iran’s favor. It hasn’t tried to persuade the public, Congress, or Washington’s national security apparatus of the value of a rebalancing, however right it may be. And as such the administration has tried to have it both ways—a rapprochement with Iran and stability—which is an impossibility.
A major Saudi-Iranian conflict could force the United States back toward Saudi Arabia, with which it has a 70-year security relationship. Washington and Riyadh have fought together against communists, Islamists, Saddam Hussein, and, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran. The Saudis must hope that in a crisis, the tradition will continue.

Gerasimov Calls for New Strategy to Counter Color Revolution

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 46
March 8, 2016, By: Roger McDermott

Russia’s top brass has called on leading military theorists and specialists as well as the defense industry and the government to jointly develop a “soft power” strategy to counter the potential threat from “color revolutions.” The annual general meeting of the Academy of Military Sciences (Akademiya Voyennykh Nauk—AVN), on February 27, saw a number of inter-linked presentations addressing the nature of modern warfare and the role of military science in assessing such issues, as well as a keynote speech by the chief of the General Staff, Army-General Valery Gerasimov. Experts supported Gerasimov’s conclusion that in order to counter the possible security threat posed by “color revolution,” Russia must form and develop a range of soft power instruments. It was made clear that a “coup” in the color revolution model is regarded by Moscow as a form of hybrid warfare conducted by foreign powers against Russia’s interests (RIA Novosti, March 1).
Color revolutions were characterized as an essential component in Western “hybrid warfare” approaches, with the underlying message during the conference being that Moscow must now remedy these threats by forming new anti-hybrid capabilities of its own. Gerasimov’s speech has brought full circle the discussion triggered by his controversial article in Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer in February 2013; Gerasimov’s assessment of modern trends in warfare was soon interpreted as evidence of the existence of a Russian concept and doctrine pertaining to “hybrid warfare,” with many rushing to judgement based on the example in Ukraine (Kommersant, March 1; Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, February 27, 2013).

Among the themes covered by speakers were reforming the military-industrial complex, weapons procurement, and the formation of private military companies. Central elements in the military theoretical framework that formed the backdrop to the presentations, especially Gerasimov’s assessments, are found in the work of the country’s leading military theorist—Army-General Makhmut Gareev, the president of the AVN. Indeed, in recent years Gareev has walked a line between traditionalists and modernizers in his articles and speeches, particularly calling for new ideas and approaches to how Russia confronts the challenges of modern warfare. In his written analysis published prior to EuroMaidan, he warned that a color revolution could pose a direct threat to Russian security (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, February 24, 2016; December 4, 2013).

Fighting to Survive Budget Contraction, Kremlin Tries to Fix Oil Prices

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 43
March 3, 2016 , By: Pavel Felgenhauer

On March 1, President Vladimir Putin gathered the CEOs of Russia’s oil majors in the Kremlin to discuss a possible freeze of crude production to boost oil prices. Oil is Russia’s main export commodity and the main source of state revenue. Putin commended the “healthy state of the oil industry”—in 2015, Russia increased oil production by 1.4 percent to some 10.9 million barrels a day, pumping oil approximately on par with Saudi Arabia. Almost half of Russia’s produced oil is exported, with exports increasing in 2015 by some 9 percent. But the price of Russia’s “Urals” standard export crude has fallen “almost three times,” and this is a disaster that must be somehow mitigated. Energy Minister Alexander Novak has been talking to members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), promoting an oil production freeze to boost prices. Putin gathered Russia’s domestic oil producers to obtain assurances that they would be ready to “freeze” oil production through 2016, at the level from January, to balance demand with output and possibly spark an oil price rally (Kremlin.ru, March 1).

During the 2000s, oil prices were growing and Putin’s then–finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, built a tax system that collected most of the windfall revenue from Russia’s oil majors into state coffers. Special “rainy day” sovereign funds were created to balance the budget if the oil price slumped. As a result, the fall in the price of Urals crude from well over $100 per barrel to under $30 (the average price throughout January 2016) affected the balance sheets of Russia’s oil companies less than the federal state budget. According to the Ministry of Finance, to keep the federal budget deficit in 2016 at 3–4 percent of GDP, the price of Urals export oil must be $40 per barrel or more. If the price continues to hover around $30 during 2016, the budgetary deficit may reach 5–6 percent of GDP and the sovereign reserve funds will be entirely spent. Moscow will be forced to severely cut budgetary expenditures, which will be extremely painful, and also massively borrow—something that may not be easy to do. Indeed, international money markets are mostly out of reach for Russia due to Western sanctions over the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, while the internal money market is shallow. Too much credit scooped up by the state to cover the deficit will leave too little for anyone else, further depressing domestic investment and consumer confidence, causing more GDP contraction (Rbc.ru, February 19).

Cyber War Against ISIL Hones Weapons Vs. Russia, China


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on February 29, 2016 

WASHINGTON: The US is waging an outright cyber war against Daesh, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs made clear this morning. While Carter did not say so, we believe this is the first official confirmation by a senior military official that the United States has waged war on an enemy using cyber weapons, as opposed to the already widespread use of cyber for espionage.
“The methods we’re using are new, some of them will be surprising, and some of them are applicable to the other challenges that I described other than ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant] around the world,” Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters this morning. Those “other challenges” which Carter listed at this morning’s press conference — as he does in almost every public statement — are Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China.
Ashton Carter

“Our use of cyber….particularly in Syria [is] to interrupt, disrupt, ISIL’s command and control, to cause them to lose confidence in their networks, to overload their networks so that they can’t function, and to do all of these things that will interrupt their ability to command and control forces there, to control the population and the economy,” Carter said. In brief, it’s an attack on Daesh‘s military, political and fiscal nervous system.
“Overload their networks” sounds a lot like a denial of service attack, when a hacker runs a simple program to ping the target with more requests for contact than it can handle. It could also refer to a simple virus that propagates itself in the target’s computers until they don’t have enough processing power for anything else. Both techniques seem pretty crude for the vaunted US Cyber Command, however. “Cause them to lose confidence in their networks” raises the intriguing possibility that more sophisticated approaches are being used, such as planting false information in the enemy’s system, not just making it malfunction.

Fort Meade-based Cyber Command (part of Strategic Command) is leading the cyber attack on ISIL for Central Command, but it supports all the theater commands. “All of the other combatant commanders are beneficiaries” of the experienced gained against ISIL, Carter said.
Is the cyber campaign against Daesh a “template” for future operations elsewhere, one reporter asked? It’s not so cookie-cutter, replied Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “What we’re building is an inventory of tools that the combatant commanders can employ,” he said, in different ways against different adversaries under different circumstances.

IEDs and Artificial Intelligence: An Overlooked Trend

Posted on March 4, 2016 in Insights from the Wiki 

The biggest — and most overlooked — new trend in terrorism may be “smart” delivery systems. IED detonation has been controlled by mobile phones for some time now, and the detection of these trigger mechanisms has been deployed as a countermeasure. But as advances are made in artificial intelligence, these IEDs could begin to operate on their own to achieve programmed or learned objectives.
A terrorist attacks could be carried out somewhat crudely by programing the target coordinates into an autonomous vehicle and loading the passenger and cargo spaces with explosives. If the car is perceived as arriving to pick up someone, little attention may be paid to the fact that it is empty — and there would be no driver acting suspiciously to tip someone off.
A more sophisticated approach could be that of “teaching” a fleet of cars to bypass certain safety protocols and or to intentionally malfunction in timed but spontaneously dangerous ways that endanger or take the lives of their passengers on a mass scale.

This Wikistrat paper argues that the likely convergence of IEDs and artificial intelligence raises a number of compelling questions: 
What are the likely everyday items that lend themselves to 3D printing and have utility as a “smart” IED host? 
What avenues exist or will develop for violent actors to get access to advanced 3D printing capability? 
How will the auto insurance, autonomous car manufacturing and other related industries adapt to the nefarious use of autonomous cars? 
What types of countermeasures and safeguards (cyber and otherwise) should be developed now in order to get ahead of these developments? 
What other technological convergences that are ripe for misuse by violent actors are being overlooked by industry leaders and policymakers? 
Click here to download the paper.

* The Battle Between Apple and the FBI Is So Heated Because It’s So Unprecedented

Telecom companies have been cooperating with the government for almost a century. 
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
Fred Kaplan is the author of Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, due out in March. 
As Apple and the FBI take their fight toCongress this week, it’s worth noting that the government finds itself fiercely pushing an argument it’s never had to make at all before. In matters of installing wiretaps, intercepting email, and, these days, unlocking cellphones, it has always relied on the complicity of the telecoms.
Apple Chairman Tim Cook’s all-out resistance to letting the FBI look inside San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook’s iPhone threatens to rupture an arrangement dating back to the 1920s—nearly a century ago—when the Code Compilation Company, the cover name for a military-intelligence agency with roots in World War I, persuaded Western Union to provide access to all the telegrams coming in on its wires. By the time of the Cold War, the government—mainly the FBI and, with its founding in 1952, the National Security Agency—were regularly tapping the phones of suspected foreign agents.
In the decades since, corporate restructurings and technological changes have complicated things. When anti-trust rulings forced the breakup of AT&T in 1982, some in the FBI and the NSA worried that their relationship with Ma Bell might not transfer to the scattered new carriers, but the heads of MCI, Sprint, and the regional “Baby Bells” proved happy to accommodate.
As the world shifted from analog to digital—with communications shifting from phone circuits, radio signals, and microwave emissions to digital packets, fiber-optic cable, and the World Wide Web—the NSA suffered its deepest crisis yet; a top-secret congressional oversight panel produced a paper titled “Are We Going Deaf?” Within a few years, though, the agency’s engineers and high-tech contractors devised new methods of interception.

Not only did the new telecom companies have no problem with this, but in fact a new form of mutual cooperation ensued. The Defense Department started buying a lot of these companies’ computers, cellphones, and software, but, before doing so, the wares had to pass inspection by a branch of the NSA called the Information Security Division (later changed to Information Assurance Directorate). When Microsoft submitted its first Windows program, the IAD testers found 1,500 points of vulnerability—1,500 points where hackers could break in. IAD then helped Microsoft patch the flaws—or most of them, anyway: Some “back doors” were left unlocked so the NSA could get in to the computers of foreign powers that had bought the software.
Many years later, in 2008, after the U.S. Air Force rejected Microsoft’s XP operating system on the grounds that it was riddled with security flaws, IAD helped the firm design XP Service Pack 3, which the Air Force deemed secure straight out of the box and which became one of Microsoft’s most successful systems. Similarly, when China launched a major cyberattack against Google, stealing the firm’s source-code software, the IAD helped repair the damage.
So when the NSA set up a program known as PRISM, in which the agency or the FBI tapped into the central servers of nine American software and telecom companies—in order to extract email, documents, photo, audio, and video files, and connection logs of suspected foreign agents and terrorists—those companies went along, either willingly or under the compulsion of a FISA, or Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, court order. (The companies were Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and Paltalk.)

How Technology Is Changing The Game For Skilled Professionals

09 March 2016
from Thumbtack
Thumbtack released a report describing how skilled professionals are using new platforms to find new work and build their business - and their lives. Called "Beyond the Gig Economy: How New Technologies Are Reshaping the Future of Work," the report explores how technology enables buyers and sellers of services to connect, moving the conversation beyond a one dimensional discussion of the so-called gig economy.

Thumbtack empowers over 200,000 active small business owners to connect with new clients using online tools that weren't available to a previous generation of business owners. These tools are supporting skilled professionals by providing a cost-effective, performance-based platform for building their business that simply would not be possible without technological advances made over the past decade.
We believe that as automation increasingly takes the place of routine tasks performed by humans, the types of jobs performed by skilled professionals will be ever more important as a source of income and opportunity in future generations.

Key takeaways from the report include:
The low-skilled gig economy job is unsustainable, whereas skilled professionals have the advantage of being difficult to outsource and resistant to automation.
It is easier and cheaper than ever for skilled professionals to take part in the gig economy. Technology solutions like Thumbtack and new laws like the Affordable Care Act have removed obstacles that previously prevented many people from starting their own businesses.
Skilled professionals report higher job satisfaction. 84% of skilled professionals surveyed "love what they do," versus a Gallup survey of the general working population found that only 29% of Americans said they were "engaged" at work.
Skilled professionals can earn higher pay. Because they are operating under their own brands and negotiating their own prices, skilled professionals can work for rates that work for them. Skilled professionals without a college degree report gross revenues for their businesses that are up to $20,000 higher than the median income of other similarly educated Americans.
Skilled professionals overall have better job opportunities. While the commodity-focused gig economy thrives only in urban areas, skilled professional marketplaces are growing and thriving in every pocket of the country. Moreover, online professional marketplaces such as Thumbtack allow skilled professionals to grow their business more than before (on average 20% more), by connecting them to customers and assisting them with marketing services.
Technology is frequently seen as a threat to humans - either it is taking their jobs away or it is dooming them to a second class status by commoditizing their labor. But for skilled professionals, technology is helping them grow their business and connect with new clients on a daily basis. These platforms stand in contrast to platforms that are offering highly commoditized services like driving a car or delivering groceries. With skilled professionals, it matters who provides the service. Giving consumers the ability to quickly and cheaply choose the professional that is right for them is an important advance enabled by technology.
The full report can be downloaded here.

Is FBI's claim against Apple a bluff? Edward Snowden raises doubts


The former NSA contractor joined the ACLU in suggesting that the US government already knows how to access the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone.
By Ben Thompson, Staff MARCH 9, 2016

Another voice is wading into the controversy over Apple, Inc.’s refusal to unlock the iPhone that was used by one of the terrorists responsible for the December shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.: surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden.
On Tuesday, the former National Security Agency contractor called into question the government's claim that it is unable to access data locked in the phone without Apple's assistance.
Snowden anonymously communicated with and provided classified documents to journalists before his identity was revealed when reports about the information he provided were published, along with interviews identifying him. Following the Justice Department’s move to prosecute him, Snowden flew to Moscow where he was granted asylum and has stayed ever since.
Alternatively labeled as a patriot and a traitor, Snowden’s actions divided public opinion even as he remains involved in public technology and security discourse. Speaking via video feed from Russia at a Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference Tuesday, Snowden dismissed the Federal Bureau of Investigation's claim made in court that Apple has the “exclusive technical means of getting into this phone.”
“Respectfully, that’s horse****,” he said, after discussing the implications of further allowing government access to supposedly private communications.
Via his Twitter account Tuesday, Snowden also shared an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report which states that the FBI’s claim that Apple must unlock the mobile device itself is fraudulent, suggesting the agency hopes to “weaken the ecosystem” of smartphone security in a “power grab.”
“They're asking the public to grant them significant new powers that could put all of our communications infrastructure at risk, and to trust them to not misuse these powers,” according to ACLU technology fellow Daniel Kahn Gillmor.

The Power to Coerce: Countering Adversaries Without Going to War

The Power to Coerce: Countering Adversaries Without Going to War by David C. Gompert and Hans Binnendijk, RAND Corporation
Mounting costs, risks, and public misgivings of waging war are raising the importance of U.S. power to coerce (P2C). Meanwhile, globalization of trade, investment, finance, information, and energy give the United States promising coercive options, especially against adversaries that depend on access to such markets and systems.
The Power to Coerce: Countering Adversaries Without Going to War documents the most interesting of U.S. P2C options: financial sanctions, support for nonviolent political opposition to hostile regimes, and offensive cyber operations. Cutting off access to the global interbanking system can visit severe and radiating economic pain and be calibrated according to the target's response. Support for prodemocracy opposition can be very threatening and offer strong leverage, but this option can be high risk and calls for judicious use.
Offensive cyber operations are also a high-return, high-risk option. Skillfully targeted, they can disturb the functioning and confidence of states and markets and thus have coercive value. However, the risks and costs of collateral damage, retaliation, and escalation are considerable, especially if the target country is itself a cyber-war power. Given its own vulnerabilities, the United States might wish to raise, not lower, the threshold for cyber war.
The state against which coercion is most difficult and risky is China, which also happens to pose the strongest challenge to U.S. military options in a vital region. Russia, Iran, and other states less robust than China are more-inviting targets for coercive power.
The United States should hone its ability to monitor financial assets and flows and to isolate recalcitrant states and banks that do business with them. The U.S. State Department and intelligence community should refine their methods to support nonviolent democratic opponents in hostile and repressive states and assess the risks and benefits of using those methods. More generally, the U.S. government should prepare for the use of P2C as it does for military warfare, including assessment of options, requirements and capabilities, conducting war games to refine these capabilities, and planning with allies. Just as authorities, responsibilities, and command chains are delineated for hard power, so should they be for P2C.

Key Findings
U.S. Power to Coerce Is increasing Even as the Utility of U.S. Offensive Military Force Is Diminishing. 
The state against which coercion is most difficult and risky is China, which also happens to be the United States' strongest anti-access/area denial (A2AD) rival and aims to reduce U.S. hard power options in a particularly vital region. 
Russia, Iran, and other states that are less powerful and prominent than China are more-susceptible targets for coercive power. 
The Three Potentially Most Cost-Effective P2C Instruments Available to the United States Are Financial Sanctions, Support for Nonviolent Political Opposition, and Offensive Cyber Operations. 
Financial sanctions can deliver calibrated economic pain with precision, from targeting individuals, to hurting targeted sectors, to slowing economic activity as a whole. Financial sanctions on China would be more complex, difficult to implement and maintain, and perilous for the world economy than are such sanctions on Russia or Iran. 
Support for prodemocracy opposition can be very threatening and therefore high leverage. This method of coercion is most likely to work against Iran and least likely to work against China. 
Offensive cyber operations are a high-return, high-risk coercive option. They may be regarded as a nonphysical form of warfare, thus as much hard power as P2C. Still, if skillfully targeted and calibrated, with collateral damage avoided, they could be very effective. The risks and costs of retaliation and escalation are considerable if the target country is a "cyber power," as China and Russia are. Iran is more susceptible to cyber coercion. 

Next-generation weapons poised to transform how U.S. fights wars

BY CARL PRINE | Saturday, March 5, 2016, 
If the military must fight another war, the enemy might confront laser-firing jets, wheeled robots shooting tank-melting warheads and soldiers armed with rifles that make each of them a sniper.
Those are just some of the high-tech weapons being designed for the military. If they pan out, they could revolutionize the way the Pentagon wages war — more networked than ever, with bullets that provide the ability to detect and destroy foes with ruthless precision, limiting American casualties.
Critics contend America's high-priced wonder weapons often fizzle, especially when fighting foes who refuse to go toe-to-toe with our high-tech might. They voice concerns that robotic weapons might remove human decision-making from killing, triggering ethical concerns about how war is waged.
In the forefront of military weapons research stands the Virginia-based Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. With an annual budget of $2.9 billion, DARPA funds nearly 250 projects designed to ensure U.S. military superiority worldwide while sparking economic development at home.
DARPA's priorities include finding and fouling enemy radar before it spots American forces; developing navigation systems that don't need Global Positioning System satellites that are vulnerable to enemy missiles; delivering warheads to targets at hypersonic speeds; and erecting an electronic wall to protect America from cyber attacks while simultaneously sifting through trillions of pieces of data for signs of terrorism overseas.

Some DARPA research, such as neural implants that help victims of roadside bombs overcome brain injuries, are at the far edge of science. Other projects use existing technology to fight wars smarter, such as the Upward Falling Payloads program that will pre-position military supplies in mobile pods on or near the ocean floor.
The pods, which are remotely summoned, will start to float to the surface before speeding robotically wherever the supplies are needed. Stashing the material more than a mile below the waves makes it difficult for enemies to find and destroy it.
The program, which was started in 2013, will cost $22 million this fiscal year but could save billions by reducing the need for floating fleets of supply ships. Sea testing on the pods is slated for summer 2017, according to DARPA spokesman Jared B. Adams.