22 April 2016


Here at War on the Rocks, Joshua Rovner has written an insightful and provocative essay about the origin and nature of what seems to be a permanent rift between those who study security and those who study strategy. Many of the differences between security and strategy scholars that Rovner outlines are real; others are more illusory. The path to detente begins when both sides are capable of setting aside false binaries (politics vs. history, qualitative vs. quantitative) and bluntly addressing the real problem: a fundamental difference of worldview about war and peace. Those interested in security want to prevent, control, and regulate war. Those interested in strategy generally see their task as preparing to fight and win wars should they occur. Can there be any middle ground?
Both sides will need to make a stronger effort to see outside of their respective fields’ overarching worldviews and biases. As idealistic as this sounds, we should also be pragmatic about our expectations. The minimum that both sides should do is simply entertain the slight possibility that Joe Security or Jane Strategy might have a point here and there. Neither field has the full answer to the problem of war.
Rovner opens his essay by contrasting Eliot Cohen and Barry Posen’s differing takes on the balance of forces in late Cold War Europe, casting the story as one of a history-minded scholar clashing with a rationalistic mathematical modeler. Cohen argued that the conventional balance forces in 1980s Europe favored the Soviet Union. Researchers had failed to sound the alarm because they relied too much on abstract formal and statistical models. Posen, not one to neglect the importance of coercion and compellence in international affairs, responded with a second strike missile salvo against Cohen’s alleged misunderstanding of both the methodology of military modeling and the purpose of security studies scholarship.

It’s an old story: historically and qualitatively minded strategic thinker vs. abstract and Spock-like political science security specialist, and Rovner suggests that it is indicative of deeper divides between the strategy and security studies fields. And at first glance, why not? Cohen is rare among American researchers in his combination of policy engagement and strategic acumen. Posen, while no slouch in his knowledge of matters military, is more of a traditional American political scientist.
The fact that this scholarly dispute took place within the pages of International Security, one of the few academic journals that both of Rovner’s tribes can publish in, makes the example particularly powerful. But there is something quite odd about this example: Cohen and Posen — both qualitatively inclined political scientists whose careers were shaped by the Cold War-era security topics studied by the academy — are perhaps not really opposites after all.

* American Imperium Untangling truth and fiction in an age of perpetual war

From the May 2016 issueoday on many issues, but they are united in their resolve that the United States must remain the world’s greatest military power. This bipartisan commitment to maintaining American supremacy has become a political signature of our times. In its most benign form, the consensus finds expression in extravagant and unremitting displays of affection for those who wear the uniform. Considerably less benign is a pronounced enthusiasm for putting our soldiers to work “keeping America safe.” This tendency finds the United States more or less permanently engaged in hostilities abroad, even as presidents from both parties take turns reiterating the nation’s enduring commitment to peace.

To be sure, this penchant for military activism attracts its share of critics. Yet dissent does not imply influence. The trivializing din of what passes for news drowns out the antiwar critique. One consequence of remaining perpetually at war is that the political landscape in America does not include a peace party. Nor, during presidential-election cycles, does that landscape accommodate a peace candidate of voter consequence. The campaign now in progress has proved no exception. Candidates calculate that tough talk wins votes. They are no more likely to question the fundamentals of U.S. military policy than to express skepticism about the existence of a deity. Principled opposition to war ranks as a disqualifying condition, akin to having once belonged to the Communist Party or the KKK. The American political scene allows no room for the intellectual progeny of Jane Addams, Eugene V. Debs, Dorothy Day, or Martin Luther King Jr.

So, this November, voters will choose between rival species of hawks. Each of the finalists will insist that freedom’s survival hinges on having in the Oval Office a president ready and willing to employ force, even as each will dodge any substantive assessment of what acting on that impulse has produced of late. In this sense, the outcome of the general election has already been decided. As regards so-called national security, victory is ensured. The status quo will prevail, largely unexamined and almost entirely intact.
Citizens convinced that U.S. national-security policies are generally working well can therefore rest easy. Those not sharing that view, meanwhile, might wonder how it is that military policies that are manifestly defective — the ongoing accumulation of unwon wars providing but one measure — avoid serious scrutiny, with critics of those policies consigned to the political margins.

* Water War: This River Could Sink China-India Relations

The Brahmaputra is the next test for Beijing and New Delhi.
Joel Wuthnow, April 19, 2016
On April 18–19, the Chinese and Indian defense ministers will meet in Beijingto discuss border issues. At the top of the agenda will be how to improve stability along the border, where both countries have overlapping sovereignty claims. Chinese military incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into Indian-controlled territory, most recently in March, have been a particular source of tension between Beijing and New Delhi. At the same time, the two sides should not ignore another point of friction in the LAC region—and a potential source of security cooperation—the transboundary Brahmaputra River.
The Brahmaputra originates in Tibet (where it is known locally as the Yarlung Tsangpo), and meanders across the LAC and into the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. This is one of two major contested regions along the Sino-Indian border, the other being Aksai Chin to the far west (where most of the recent Chinese military incursions have taken place). Chinese troops conducted a major offensive in Arunachal Pradesh as part of a border conflict with India in 1962, before withdrawing pending negotiations. Beijing claims sovereignty over this territory, which it refers to as “southern Tibet,” while New Delhi regards it as rightfully India’s territory under a 1914 treaty. The river then continues through Indian territory and into Bangladesh, where it ultimately flows into the Bay of Bengal.

Among the world’s major international rivers, the Brahmaputra ranks low in terms of institutionalized management. Countries along the Nile, for instance, have formed the Nile Basin Initiative to encourage peace and security, while states in the lower Mekong region have formed the Mekong River Commission(of which China is an observer, but not a full member). By contrast, there is no institution capable of promoting cooperation between the Brahmaputra’s three major riparian states – China, India, and Bangladesh. Even at a bilateral level, China-India cooperation is limited to a modest river data sharing agreement and a joint working group that has apparently not met regularly. The prospects for a larger accord (such as a water sharing treaty) are frustrated by the fact that the river passes through contested territory.

How India Sees the World

The organizational structure of India’s foreign ministry is a clear indication of its priorities.
By Dhruva Jaishankar, April 21, 2016
India’s history of Third Worldism and Nonalignmentand its traditional overuse of the term “strategic partnership” have long created the illusion that New Delhi treats all foreign relations on a somewhat equal footing. But beyond bland public statements marked by diplomatic niceties, a lot can be discerned about India’s worldview by other means. Organizational structures are often an excellent indicator of a government’s priorities and concerns. Mapping the geographical divisionsat India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) paints a rather revealing picture of how India sees the world.

Function over Form
One clear pattern that emerges is that MEA’s geographical organization is primarily functional. Take India’s immediate neighborhood, where whole divisions are devoted to just two or three countries. Landlocked and mountainous Nepal and Bhutan are grouped together, while Myanmar is coupled with Bangladesh, rather than with the rest of Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are considered as part of the Indian Ocean. And Iran is grouped with Pakistan and Afghanistan, indicating how much India sees policy toward those three countries as interconnected. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has only bestowed a name – “Neighborhood First” – on what has clearly been a longstanding approach, although the articulation of that policy may have helped give it momentum and direction.

Figure 1: Map based on MEA’s geographical divisions

There is often a concern – as at the U.S. Departments of State and Defense – that foreign policy becomes uncoordinated because countries fall under different geographical bureaus. At first glance, this appears to be the case for India in the Middle East (or West Asia, to use India’s preferred terminology), where the region’s major actors – Turkey, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia – fall under different divisions. However, this structure also confers certain advantages, allowing India to simultaneously advance various objectives with multiple actors, such as defense and space ties with Israel, energy and infrastructure considerations with Iran, anddiaspora and counterterrorism priorities with the Gulf Arab states.

The imposition of functional interests over neat geographical divisions is perhaps most readily apparent in Africa. Eastern and Southern Africa are areas that are not just more proximate to India, but also enjoy deeper historical and people-to-people ties. Large Indian communities, including merchants and traders, thrived in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, all – like India – former British colonies. By contrast, India had far fewer historical contacts with Western Africa, which falls mostly within the Francophonie. Instead, from India’s standpoint, that region is defined by commodities and resources including energy, of which Nigeria and Angola have become increasingly important suppliers.

The Rajamandala

Just as revealing as how India divides up the world is how much attention it pays to each region. The number of countries in each division offers one point of comparison. The fact that 30 countries in Western Africa receive roughly the same resources and attention at MEA as two Indian neighbors indicates the greater attention that India devotes to its immediate periphery. Another factor is the number of diplomatic missions – embassies, high commissions, and consulate-generals – that India has in each region. Nine missions catering to 25 countries in Western Africa points to Indian diplomatic resources being spread far thinner than, say, the same number in just the United States and Canada. The Lowy Institute’s delightful Global Diplomacy Index, which catalogues and maps the global diplomatic presence of all G20 and OECD countries, helps to generate a pretty clear picture about India’s diplomatic priorities.

** Assimilation is counterterrorism

Raymond Odierno and Michael E. O'Hanlon | April 19, 2016 10:30am
Editors’ Note: We need to do better with the long-term instruments of counterterrorism, write Raymond Odierno and Michael O’Hanlon. That includes efforts within our own societies to promote social cohesion. This article originally appeared onUSA Today.
In the aftermath of the Brussels tragedy, many good ideas are being floated to improve defenses against terrorists who are poised to strike. Belgium needs more resources for police work, including staking out suspects. Europe needs terrorist watch lists that are better automated and integrated. Police forces and national intelligence agencies need to work together more effectively, readjusting the point at which traditional police work ends and counterterrorism raids begin. We need to use technology such as closed-circuit TV, as well as simpler but time-tested methods like bomb-smelling dogs, more effectively in unhardened public places like subway stops and the external lobbies of airports.

The above are immediate and short-term measures. They are crucial. They are also insufficient. We need to continue to go after Islamic State's finances, too, leading a worldwide effort to restrict its sources of revenue and ability to store and move funds around. Beyond these actions, we need to do better with the long-term instruments of counterterrorism. These include the use of social media and other counter-messaging against the so-called caliphate. But they also include efforts within our own societies and especially those in Europe to promote social cohesion. Within many countries the inability to develop programs encouraging assimilation of immigrants, and of the home-born disaffected, has led to substantial pockets of disenfranchised citizens, a large majority being Muslim.

At least on issues concerning Muslim-majority communities, the United States can help point the way. We are fortunate, largely to the credit of our nation's Muslims who join our society in full and pursue the American dream, to have relatively few problems with Islamist extremism. Of course, there are exceptions, but on the whole, Muslim-American communities are our single greatest domestic allies in the struggle against extremism at home. They help provide information on would-be terrorists in their midst; they do not typically shelter, aid or condone the thinking of such extremists. Most of all, acting as loyal citizens, they provide role models and hopeful visions to their young, reducing the odds that the 20-somethings who seem to wind up the main culprits in most attacks abroad will feel the same urge within the United States. Because our own terror watch lists have gotten better since 9/11, and because of the hard work of border and immigration agencies, we are also often able to limit the movements of suspected terrorists to the United States from abroad.
None of this is to sound complacent. More than 70 individuals were arrested on American soil last year on suspicion of interest in supporting Islamic State or otherwise conducting extremist activity, and we suffered the San Bernardino tragedy.

* Defense contractor who sent military info to India sentenced

Associated PressApril 15, 2016

TRENTON, New Jersey. (AP) — A U.S.-based defense contractor who used a church website to send information on military submarines and aircraft to a person in India has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
Hannah Robert was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to exporting military technical drawings to India without State Department approval.

Prosecutors say she ran two New Jersey-based companies that contracted with the Pentagon to supply defense hardware and spare parts. She owned a third company in India that manufactured parts.
She pleaded guilty to sending technical drawings including the parts used in nuclear submarine torpedo systems, military attack helicopters and F-15 fighter aircraft.

Prosecutors say she posted the data on a password-protected website of a church where she volunteered.

One handshake among many

April 21, 2016 ,  NARAYAN LAKSHMAN
The HinduBonhomie: “India-U.S. defence cooperation has witnessed an unprecedented boom for more than a decade.” U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi.
India-U.S. defence cooperation has grown enormously in the past decade — but it should be seen exclusive of India’s outreach to other countries.
On the eve of his visit to India earlier this month, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter indicated that his ambition was to bring the two countries ever closer in the sphere of defence cooperation through a “handshake” that was both strategic in its quality and technology-driven in its accent.
After his three-day stopover in Goa and New Delhi amidst visible bonhomie with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the mutual proximity of the two countries’ militaries appeared greater than ever, and a clear signal of both sides’ cooperative intent came in the form of an announcement that theLogistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) would be signed in the forthcoming weeks or months.
Yet, in the relatively opaque world of government-to-government defence deals, it is sometimes what is not said, or not signed, that is the more eloquent elucidation of where this “defining partnership of the 21st century” truly stands.

Long arc of bilateral defence ties
Lest there be any doubt, India-U.S. defence cooperation has witnessed an unprecedented boom for well over a decade now, rising from being “as flat as a chapati” in 2002, in the words of former U.S. Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, to the present day, with the aggregate worth of defence acquisitions from Washington exceeding $10 billion.
Yet if burgeoning trade volumes have historically represented the upside to growing convergence within bilateral defence ties, then the paucity of actual, production-line-based collaborative initiatives under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) — which in a hypothetical world would tie in neatly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative — is a testament to the need for more trust and willingness to be accommodative towards a partner.

'History in India has been driven by identity': Dipesh Chakrabarty on historian Jadunath Sarkar

The noted subalternist on the life and times of colonial-era historian. Shoaib Daniyal

Born in 1870 in East Bengal, Jadunath Sarkar was an academic and public intellectual who was a pioneer in the art of history writing in India. He was knighted in 1929 and became the first Indian historian to gain honorary membership in the American Historical Association. His comprehensive histories of Aurangzeb and Shivaji greatly shape modern India’s understanding of these two figures even if Sarkar was marginalised by much of academia after 1947 by India’s as postcolonial historians.
Noted subalternist Dipesh Chakrabarty’s recent book The Calling of History examines Sarkar’s career and uses that to understand and discuss the history of Indian history, as it were. Chakrabarty teaches history at the University of Chicago, and is the recipient of the 2014 Toynbee Prize that recognizes social scientists for significant academic and public contributions to humanity.
As history becomes keenly contested in India’s polticial space, Scroll.inspeaks to Dipesh Chakrabarty to understand how the issues and debates from Sarkar’s time can help inform us today.

Why did you write this book? What drew you to Jadunath Sarkar?There were many reasons, actually. One of them was an accident, which is that I chanced upon several excerpts from letters that had passed between Sarkar and Sakharam Govindrao Sardesai, an eminent historian from Maharashtra. And those letters were all about historical research, the meaning of historical truth, what a good historical source was, what constituted a first-hand account, the merits of an eye-witness account versus old secondary accounts, relation between history and identity and that of history and truth. And I found these letters fascinating; found it fascinating that they were debating these issues in the later years of colonial rule, from 1904, the year they started working together, till when Jadunath died in 1958.
And my other reasons were very academic. Historians have stopped discussing these people. Jadunath has become a forgotten person, thought of as a communal historian by many in academia. Marathas thought of him as pro-Muslim in his historical accounts of Shivaji while Muslims thought him pro-Hindu. He did make some remarks against East Bengali Muslims after Partition that today we would regard as communal.

What were those communal remarks?
He thought that East Pakistan would lose terribly by losing all the Bengali Hindus because the Hindus were the educated class. They were throwing their talented “Jews” out, so to say. And in that assumption that East Bengali Muslims wouldn’t be able to do without Bengali Hindus, Sarkar’s biases came out. It is true that East Pakistan did suffer a shortage of good teachers, and other professionals for a while, but they eventually made up for it. Personally, I think the Partition of Bengal was unfortunate but then Sarkar did ally with the Hindu Mahasabha in those years, when it was demanding Partition. And you must remember, his son was killed in Calcutta during the communal frenzy of 1946-'47, stabbed by a stray Muslim guy, as he got off a tram in Dharamtalla, after which he died in the hospital. So, the Hindu-Muslim problem in Bengal had a personal dimension for him.

The letters I mentioned were fascinating, and they projected Sarkar as quite a character. But when I now look back and think about what drew me into the project intellectually, in today’s terms, it was Sarkar’s failure to understand the relationship between identity and history, that people might want to have a past that makes them feel proud of what they were (particularly Dalits or any other people who’d been told that they were inferior because of their pasts). This Sarkar didn’t understand. On the other hand, something he did struggle for is also vital in today’s context. He struggled for a space for reasoned argumentation about what was factually true about the past. Because sometimes in the clamour to have a past that glorifies our identity, not only do we make non-factual or factually wrong statements – like Hindus invented the aeroplane – we also claim them to be facts. Jadunath Sarkar understood that facts are not always given, they have to be inferred, you have to reason them out. He understood that establishing facts required the employment of logic, evidence and inference. And he struggled for that space. And I think thatis a legacy worth remembering.


By Mark Moyar | April 19, 2016
In March 2009, President Obama warned that the region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan was “the most dangerous place in the world.” To confront the problems of extremism in Pakistan, he increased drone strikes and asked Congress to authorize “$1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next 5 years, resources that will build schools and roads and hospitals and strengthen Pakistan's democracy.” During Obama’s second term, Pakistan has become an afterthought, as the nation’s attention, and resources, have shifted elsewhere. Yet this is mainly the result of a worsening world situation, rather than any positive developments in Pakistan. Indeed, the diversion of American attention to other countries has facilitated the festering of problems that pose high dangers to American security.

The Downward Spiral of U.S.-Pakistani Relations
During its first months in office, the Obama administration strove to gain Pakistani cooperation in combating Al Qaeda in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan. President Obama proclaimed that redoubled efforts in Pakistan were “indispensable to our efforts in Afghanistan, which will see no end to violence if insurgents move freely back and forth across the border.” The administration also worried that instability in Pakistan could allow the country’s nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of extremists. Thus, it attempted to woo the Pakistani government with a sizable increase in non-military aid and a proposed strategic partnership.
These efforts proved futile. The most important reason for their failure was Obama’s decision in December 2009 to put an 18-month time limit on the surge of American troops to Afghanistan, which convinced Pakistan that the United States planned to abandon the region as it had in the 1990s. In response, Pakistan felt compelled to ramp up support to the Afghan Taliban as a counter to the pro-Indian government in Kabul. The Pakistani military, which has long dominated Pakistani foreign policymaking, feared that India would use its influence in Kabul to encircle Pakistan strategically.
Doomed from the outset, the Obama administration’s effort at a strategic partnership was dealt mortal blows by popular opposition to the American drone campaign, the unauthorized intrusion of American forces into Pakistan to kill Osama Bin Laden, and several other developments that sent American relations with Pakistan into an abyss. By 2012, almost three-quarters of Pakistanis viewed the United States as an enemy, a perception from which the relationship has scarcely recovered.

A Partial Recovery
U.S.-Pakistani relations are less overtly acrimonious today than they were in 2011, but improvements on matters of substance have been more modest. At the beginning of March, American diplomats met with their Pakistani counterparts as part of the sixth annual U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. According to press reporting, the two sides made little progress on key issues such as the Kashmir dispute, nuclear non-proliferation, or support for the Taliban. In particular, Pakistan refused to consider any of America’s requests to scale back or put limits on its nuclear weapons program. Nothing was said of the Kashmir dispute, at least in public, aside from a bland statement that Pakistan and the United States “emphasized the importance of meaningful dialogue.”

NDU Press Online Book: Understanding War in Afghanistan

SWJ Blog Post | July 12, 2011 

Understanding War in Afghanistan by Joseph J. Collins, National Defense University Press. From the introduction:

This monograph aims to provide military leaders, civil servants, diplomats, and students with the intellectual basis they need to prepare for further study or for assignments in Afghanistan, a nation that has been at war for 33 years. Officers in the Af-Pak Hands Program may also find it a useful starting point, but their intensive studies will quickly take them beyond the scope of this work. Students or scholars may also find it a useful primer for learning about Afghanistan. By analyzing the land and its people, recapping Afghan history, and assessing the current situation, this work hopes to set a foundation upon which leaders and scholars can begin their preparation for more specific tasks. It also will examine the range of choice for future U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and give suggestions for future study.

It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business

by Morgan Smiley, SWJ Blog Post | April 18, 2016 

President Calvin Coolidge once said that “the business of the American people is business”. Given the current strength and global reach of American businesses, from McDonalds to Raytheon, there is much to be said for that. Maintaining and expanding American business is a cornerstone of US dominance. With that in mind, a 2014 publication from the National Defense University discusses “grand strategy” as using power to “secure the state”. If our “grand strategy” involves securing the state from more than simply a military, or narrowly focused strategic, perspective, then one might be able to make some sense of what & why we are doing, or not doing, certain things in various parts of the world. 
Though this may smack of excessive cynicism, our strategy may be interpreted as “securing the state through business”…..pivoting towards the Pacific, with its huge expanses of sea and airspace, means generating business for companies associated with aircraft production and shipbuilding; lifting sanctions against Iran motivates our Gulf allies (Saudis, Emiratis, Qataris…) to go on a buying spree of aircraft and missile defense systems; limiting US response to Russian aggression in Ukraine (and other areas of traditional Russian influence) spurs the countries of Eastern Europe (Poland, Baltic states) to buyPatriot missile systems and armored vehicles; forcing Iraq to deal with ISIS on their own (albeit with minimal US & allied advisory support) impels them to buy more US ammunition and equipment to sustain their fight and preserve their positions in government; yadda, yadda, yadda…..

The post-GWOT period will be our time for “masterly inactivity”. Our foreign policy efforts, if involving some sort of active intervention, will likely see limited-duration “small footprint” approaches consisting of small teams, usually special operations types, providing focused counter-terror/ counter-insurgent training. The bulk of our foreign policy efforts will probably be comprised of passive endeavors, favoring “show-of-force” theatrics designed to reinforce the image of US engagement but with an eye towards exploiting opportunities for American businesses. The latter is what will sustain US global influence in the long run and help “secure the state”.

China's Mediterranean Odyssey

China has bought Greece’s Piraeus port, but how realistic is Beijing’s Mediterranean dream?
By Elodie Sellier, April 19, 2016
“Let the ship sail and bring the Golden Fleece,” said China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) Chairman Xu Lirong on April 8, after the state-owned shipping giant sealed a deal to purchase the Greek port of Piraeus, southwest of Athens. Beyond the romantic evocations of Greek heroes such as Jason and the Argonauts, this “made in China” golden fleece amounts to no less than a 368.5 million euro (around $420 million) deal, signed by COSCO with Greece’s privatization agency, and the promise of another 350 million euros in investment over the next decade.

China is increasingly sailing West, multiplying offers to European partners under its grand strategy of reviving the Silk Road routes. To Beijing’s eyes, the purchase of Piraeus is a major leap forward in its “Belt and Road” project, a sprawling network of infrastructure development and investment that aims at building “a new bridge of friendship and cooperation across the Eurasian continent,” as President Xi Jinping has put it. Ultimately, China aspires to tie together the dynamic economies of the two extremities of the Silk Road, East Asia and Western Europe.
Strategically located at the other end of the Maritime Silk Road, Greece could be China’s “gateway to Europe,” Premier Li Keqiang stated in 2014. But how realistic are China’s projects in the Mediterranean Sea? Can China pursue its “Mediterranean Odyssey” and enter the European market while maintaining a “hands-off” approach to the political and security challenges that undermine the stability of the region?

China’s Piraeus success story

So far, the Piraeus adventure has been a success story for China. Since 2009, when COSCO obtained a concession to operate a two-container terminal for a period of 35 years, its container throughput has increased five-fold and business activity has tripled, laying the ground for the transformation of the port into a major hub in the Mediterranean. In 2014, the Greek port handled no less than 16.8 million passengers and 3.6 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers.

Going Blue: The Transformation of China’s Navy

Chinese naval vessels are increasingly operating father and farther away from their home waters.
By Andrew Poulin, April 15, 2016
China’s Navy is undergoing a transformation that will have ramifications for years to come. Significant military investments and critical changes in maritime strategy have enabled a dramatic shift from a traditionally brown-water force to a blue-water navy. As a result, China’s naval ships are increasingly serving outside of their regional waters, taking part in more humanitarian and international security operations, and seeking and gaining additional access to ports throughout the world. China’s Navy is going blue.
This transformation did not happen overnight. Although the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was founded in 1927, it was not until September 1950 that the PLA Navy (PLAN) was formally established. From the PLAN’s founding through the end of the 1970s, their primary mission was inshore defense. At the time, this helped China focus internally on laying the groundwork for its national growth for decades to come. However, beginning in the 1980s, the PLAN began their first major reformation as its mission shifted to offshore defensive operations.
This trend from brown to blue-water operations continued to mature over the next several decades and in May 2015, China issued a white paper entitled, China’s Military Strategy. The paper outlined the strategy of “active defense,” which is essentially an amalgamation of the concepts of offshore defense and open seas protection. The strategy maintains, “The traditional mentality that control of the land is more important than control of the sea must be abandoned, and great importance has to be attached to managing the seas and oceans and protecting maritime rights and interests.” The ideas articulated in this strategy have already begun to crystallize; China’s ships have progressively been operating away from their coasts over the years and they are going to continue to operate even further and for longer periods.

However, in order to prove its mettle, China has to do more than just operate far from home; they must demonstrate significant operational capability. The Pentagon’s 2015 report on China’ s Military Power noted, “Whereas ‘near seas’ defense remains the PLA Navy’s primary focus, China’s gradual shift to the ‘far seas’ has necessitated that its Navy support operational tasks outside the first island chain with multi-mission, long-range, sustainable naval platforms with robust self-defense capabilities.” China has set out to do exactly that. Their naval fleet has provided an escort for over 6,000 commercial ships; their hospital ship Peace Ark has been frequently dispatched to provide healthcare to countries in need; and their warships are increasingly relied upon for real-world missions from counter-piracy to evacuations of Chinese citizens.

Directed Energy Weapons: The Key to Securing America’s Dominance over Russia and China

Dan Goure,  April 20, 2016
The United States is losing its long-held advantage in advanced sensors, computer-based battle management and precision weapons. These are the key technologies underpinning the so-called Second Offset Strategy which allowed the U.S. military to deter erstwhile adversaries such as the Soviet Union which had by the late 1970s achieved parity with the United States in nuclear weapons and maintained a clear numerical superiority in traditional conventional forces. Now Russia, China and their surrogates are deploying advanced precision weapons systems, both offensive and defensive, integrated with sophisticated sensors and automated battle management systems. The U.S. military needs to invest in new capabilities, in a Third Offset Strategy, to defeat prospective adversaries’ ability to match us in Second Offset technologies.
The leadership of the Department of Defense has identified a number of technologies that they assert are essential to this Third Offset Strategy. These include autonomous “deep learning” machines and systems; human-machine collaboration; assisted-human operations, or ways machines can make the human operate more effectively; and advanced human-machine teaming, where a human is working with an unmanned system and semi-autonomous weapons that are hardened to operate in an electronic warfare environment.

As envisioned, the Third Offset Strategy isn’t really new or different. It is the logical extension of the ongoing revolution in information technology and computing. Super smart computers, robots and autonomous weapons are not revolutionary. In fact, they are rather common place. That is why the automobile industry is investing heavily in self driving cars; the technologies involved are no longer cutting edge. The Department of Defense pioneered the really revolutionary work in these areas years ago through the efforts of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, service research centers such as NRL and AFRL and independent research and development by defense companies.
In addition, there is no reason to believe that the United States has any special advantage in the areas of IT, autonomous decision making or robotics. Certainly not enough of a lead to make these capabilities the centerpiece of a long-term defense strategy which will take years, really decades, to reach fruition. The plain fact is that nations such as Russia and China have caught up or even surpassed this country in many areas associated with the so-called Second Offset Strategy. They are now well positioned to give us a run for our money with respect to the Third.

How China Sees World Order, Can Beijing be a 'responsible stakeholder'?


CHINA’S RAPID ascent to great-power status has, more than any other international development, raised concerns about the future of the liberal international order. Forged in the ashes of the Second World War, that order has enabled a seven-decade period of great-power peace, the expansion of democratic rule and a massive increase in global prosperity. Now, it seems, world order is under threat—not least from China’s rising power. While Beijing has thus far avoided active military aggression and refrained from exclusionary economic arrangements, American policymakers worry quite openly about China’s challenge to the underlying rules of the road. They hope that Beijing will embrace the existing pillars of global order and even work to support them; they fear that China will prove revisionist, seeking to undermine the rules-based order and fashion an illiberal alternative that excludes the United States.

This combination of hopes and fears has driven America’s China policy across multiple administrations. From Bush administration–era exhortations that Beijing act as a “responsible stakeholder” to Obama administration hopes that China would become a “partner in underwriting the international order,” American leaders have consistently called on China to join the prevailing global system. The question underlying the U.S. approach has not been whether the premise is correct, but rather which combination of carrots, sticks and engagement is likeliest to ensure that Beijing firmly embraces global rules and institutions. But at a moment when China is transgressing some of those rules and establishing alternative institutions, it is worth looking closely at the assumptions that have undergirded U.S. policy.
Three propositions support America’s approach. The first is that there exists one more-or-less-unified liberal international order, and that this order is both based on rules and open to any nation that seeks to join it. The second is that if China is brought into this liberal order, the underlying rules and institutions will shape Beijing more than they will be shaped by it. The third is that it is the task of the United States and its partners is to bring China into the existing order, and that if the attempt proves unsuccessful, the seventy-year-old, rules-based global order is headed for the dustbin of history.

How ‘religious’ are ISIS fighters? The relationship between religious literacy and religious motivation Andrew Lebovich, Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations

Roots of the Syrian Crisis By VP Haran Internal Situation | External Environment | Roles of Different Actors | Crisis Trajectory IPCS Special Report #181 March 2016


Is Ukraine's Military Ready for a Fight?

Posted by Samuel Bendett on March 9, 2016
Two years ago, the Ukrainian military found itself badly outmatched and unprepared to fight Russian special forces who quickly took over the Crimean peninsula. They also struggled against Moscow-backed separatists in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine in 2015. While Kyiv is finally getting much-needed training and limited support to its various military and security branches from NATO, its forces are far from reaching the desired degree of readiness to take on its security challenges. Among Ukraine's problems is a lack of modern equipment and professional service capable of dealing with advanced Russian weapons and tactics. Trying to reverse these developments, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov recently stated, during a televised address on Ukraine's 1+1 network, that his country needs to modernize its military in order to return Crimea to Ukraine.

According to Avakov, "Ukraine will have to recreate and rebuild the army, the National Guard and the police, since the country had virtually nothing prior to the start of hostilities. ... and then, by our will, the Crimea will be with us -- in this I have no doubt." He added that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, along with Ukrainian lawmakers, is working on creating a special National Guard unit in order to be "ready for the return of the Crimea." According to the minister, Ukraine failed to defend Crimea two years ago because of the Kharkiv Agreements signed by previous Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych -- the man who was chased out of his country to Russia by the Maidan protests, an event which in turn triggered Russia's military involvement. Avakov criticized the agreements for allowing Russia to significantly increase its military presence on the peninsula prior to the takeover: "We could not do anything when the Russian planes landed at the Crimean airfield, because Yanukovych signed the agreement."

The French Conundrum from STRATFOR

-- this post authored by Adriano Bosoni
France is in the midst of political change. After years of economic decline and shaken by a spate of terrorist attacks at home and elsewhere in Europe, many French voters are disenchanted with traditional political parties, dubious of the country's economic prospects, and uncertain of its role in Europe and the world. During the next presidential election, set for April 2017, voters will reveal the extent of change in France, setting the course of the country's future and that of the European Union as a whole.
In the aftermath of World War II, France built its national strategy on three pillars. The first was to develop a strong alliance with Germany, securing peace on the Continent. Conditions were ripe for accomplishing this goal. Germany was occupied and divided. Meanwhile, Britain was exhausted by its war efforts, and the United States was pumping money into Europe and pushing for greater political and economic cooperation among its nations. Although France had its own postwar reconstruction and a crumbling colonial empire to contend with, Paris found itself in a unique position to lead European integration. What resulted were the European Communities, forerunners to the European Union.

France's second priority was to protect the independence of its foreign policy. As the political realities of the Cold War congealed, President Charles de Gaulle wanted to secure the most leeway possible for Paris. Following this premise, France sought to forge its own relationship with Russia, build its own nuclear arsenal, and protect its interests in the Arab world and its former colonies. At the same time, de Gaulle mistrusted international organizations. Under his rule, France left NATO's military command and opposed British membership in the European Economic Community.
Finally, France aimed to build a strong republic with a solid central power. For almost a century, fragile coalitions, weak executive power and short-lived governments characterized the French parliamentary system. In 1958, as decolonization in Africa and Asia strained the French political system, de Gaulle pushed for reform, introducing a semi-presidential system in which strong presidents were elected for seven-year terms (the term was eventually reduced to five years). The resulting structure featured a two-round voting system whose main goals were to ensure that the president had robust democratic legitimacy and to prevent fringe political parties from attaining power. The system also relied on infinite layers of public administration, a constant attribute of the French state, and on inflation-fueled employment thanks to a fluctuating franc.

Sick of the Ukraine Crisis? Then Arm Ukraine

Building Up Ukraine’s Military is the Counterintuitive Solution to Peace
March 29, 2016, By Alexander J. Motyl 
Western policymakers who believe the Minsk accords would work if only Ukraine made the requisite constitutional and electoral concessions are missing a key point: that they, and Russia, forced Ukraine to make security its priority by violating the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.
Russia brazenly invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine in complete violation of the memorandum. But the United States and the United Kingdom were also complicit in the breakdown of Budapest: their assurances of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity proved hollow. Sanctions are nice, but hardly an adequate response to Russian imperialism.

The violation and non-enforcement of Budapest underpins Ukraine’s approach to the Minsk accords and, indeed, to any peace deal. As constructed, Minsk institutionalizes Russia’s invasion and permanent meddling in Ukrainian affairs. It doesn’t matter whether Ukrainians do or do not make constitutional changes providing the occupied Donbas with autonomy, and it doesn’t matter whether fair and free elections are held in the region. All that matters is that Minsk guarantees that Russia’s proxies will remain in control of the occupied Donbas, and that Russia will remain in control of the Russo-Ukrainian border and will use whatever arrangement exists to infringe on Ukrainian security, stability, and sovereignty.
Needless to say, Ukraine cannot accept such an outcome. It’s one thing for Ukraine to live in the shadow of Russia or to be mindful of Moscow’s security concerns—as it was for the last twenty-five years. It’s quite another for Ukraine’s security and survival to be permanently hostage to an imperialist power that routinely invades its neighbors and has annexed Ukrainian territory.


April 19, 2016 
MIT’s Minority-Report Style Algorithm Can Pick Up Suspicious Behavior

Cheyenne Macdonald writes on the April 18, 2016 website, London’s The Daily Mail Online, that “a new artificial intelligence (AI) system developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) merges human and machine capabilities to hunt potential cyber attacks, and weed out false positives. Called AI2, the platform acts as a virtual analyst and has so far proven its ability to detect 85 percent of (cyber) attacks. As the system presents its findings to human analysts, feedback is incorporated to continually improve its detection rates,” Ms. Macdonald wrote.
Currently, “security systems are typically grouped into one of two categories: human, or machine,” Ms. Macdonald noted. “But, the new platform developed by researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL); and, machine-learning start-up, PatternEx, combines those two world’s. AI2 uses three, unsupervised, machine-learning techniques to narrow down the amount of information it presents to analysts. Then, it creates a supervised model which continually improves its capabilities. The AI2 first combs through massive amounts of data, and clusters these into meaningful patterns. This allows it to detect suspicious activity, which is then presented to the human analysts for confirmation. The feedback is then worked into the model to be applied to the next data set.”

“During the tests,” The Daily Mail Online reports, “the system scored 3.6 billion ‘log lines’ of data; and, was able to detect attacks 85 percent of the time.” “You can think about the system as a ‘virtual analyst,’ says CSAIL research scientist Kalyan Veermamachaeni, who developed AI2, with Ignacio Arnaldo, a Chief Data Scientist at PatternEX, and former CSAIL postdoc. “It continuously generates new models that it can refine in as little as a few hours, meaning it can improve its detection rates — significantly, and rapidly.”
“On its first day of training,” Ms. Macdonald wrote, “the researchers say AI2 presents the experts with 200 of what it deems to be the most abnormal events. In just a few days, the system will be presenting analysis with only 30, or 40 events — thanks to its self-improving capabilities.” 

Robot Brains Where & When You Want ‘Em

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on April 11, 2016
DARPA Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) system by Raytheon
Classic science fiction imagined evil master computers remote-controlling their mindless robot minions. It imagined good-guy droids that were basically humans in tin suits. But as the actual science of autonomy evolves, reality is looking a lot weirder.
The user interface may be in an ordinary Android tablet, but the artificial intelligence itself may reside in a pod under an airplane’s wing, in a ground station directing a distant drone or in a processor strapped to a soldier. Or the electronic brain maybe everywhere and nowhere at once, with the tasks of thinking distributed across multiple locations in a network. That flexibility is central to Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work’s vision of theThird Offset Strategy, in which artificial intelligence and human creativity combine, like acentaur, to create an enduring technological advantage for US forces.
In essence, software is a payload. Once you get the algorithms to work in one place — on an A-10 jet or a V-22 tiltrotor, for example — you can repackage them relatively easily to work somewhere else. That includes the algorithms for autonomy.
We’re “developing different autonomy services that can be hosted at different locations,” said Raytheon senior engineering fellow David Bossert. Using Defense Department open standards and a “service-oriented architecture,” the overall autonomy package consists of multiple optional modules that can be tailored to the mission and the platform. The user gets information and issues commands with an Android, but the interface software on the tablet can be either the Air Force-developed Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) or the Marine Corps KILSWITCH .

That approach allowed Raytheon to port its Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) software from an Air Force jet to a Marine tilt-rotor, an Army helicopter, and ultimately an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, he said. “Even though we had some of the PCAS services on an A-10 and then a MV-22 and an AH-64, we were able to take them and put them on a UAV,” Bossert told me. Now Raytheon is re-repackaging PCAS for the infantry as part of DARPA’s Squad-X program.
On the A-10, the PCAS computer and its communications kit were housed in a pod under the wing. There wasn’t room to do that on the much smaller MQ-1C Grey Eagle, the Army variant of the famous Predator, Bossert said, so “all the autonomy and computing resources [were] hosted in the ground control stations.” In Squad-X, he continued, “each soldier will have a processor,” as well as each Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV).

US Challengers Can Spoof, Dazzle, Cyber Attack US Satellites: DepSecDef


By COLIN CLARKon April 13, 2016 
COLORADO SPRINGS: The work being done at the high-profile Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSPOC) includes live experiments with satellites, in addition to the wargaming that all assumed has been taking place, Deputy Defense Bob Work says.
“There are satellites up there, as you know, that don’t have a lot of useful life left,” Work replied when I asked what he meant by “live experiments.” He said they are actually moving satellites in some cases to mimic real-life responses, much as the services do with major exercises.
When I asked him on the flight out to Colorado Springs if he was comfortable with the level of detailed attribution in those exercises, he said: “We have a pretty good understanding of what our potential adversaries are capable of. It’s across the board. It includes jamming. It includes dazzling. It includes spoofing. It includes cyber attacks. It includes on-orbit attacks and direct-ascent ASAT attacks.”
This is a rare admission of threats to space assets. Dazzling and spoofing are considered especially sensitive areas because telling an enemy that you know you’ve been spoofed or dazzled is important intelligence for them. Because of that space warriors rarely discuss them.

Fixing the Military-Industrial Complex!

Written by Frank Li
It looks more and more likely that the Donald Trump train and the GOP establishment bus will collide at the GOP convention. With more independents and more Democrats jumping on the Trump train, there is no better time than now to address a core GOP problem: the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC). It is totally out of control, it is inherently anti-America, and it's time to fix it with Donald Trump!
1. What is the MIC?
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Military-Industrial Complex:
The military - industrial complex (MIC) is an informal alliance between a nation's military and the defense industry which supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy.[1][2][3][4] The term is most often used in reference to the system behind the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower on January 17, 1961,[5] though the term is applicable to any country with a similarly developed infrastructure.[6][7] In 2011, the United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined.[8]

2. Why is our military so big?
Because the MIC and some career politicians have been bedfellows for decades! Specifically, 
The MIC has been one of the biggest special interest groups dominating American politics over the past five decades, at least! 
Some politicians, especially the war-hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have been using the MIC to enrich their careers! 

3. Is the MIC out-of-control?
Yes, it is, totally! Specifically, 
It spends too much. 
It wastes too much. 
Let me elaborate on each ...

3.1 The MIC spends too much!
The pie-chart below shows our government's discretionary spending in 2015. The military spending was 55% (vs. less than 1% on food stamps)!

Note: if you are concerned about our government's mandatory spending, which is far bigger than discretionary spending, read: Democratic Socialism vs. Democratic Imperialism.

3.2 The MIC wastes too much!

NYT Book Review - Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism

SWJ Blog Post | April 20, 2016 
Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism by David Kilcullen, New York Timesbook review by Rajan Menon

Kilcullen has an impressive résumé. A former officer in Australia’s military with a doctorate in political anthropology, he has served a number of senior American civilian officials (Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice) and generals (David Petraeus in Iraq and Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan). “Blood Year,” a breezy survey of the West’s antiterrorism campaigns, has a message: The strategy Kilcullen helped design has failed, as witness the emergence of ISIS. The Iraq war — ­needless and ineptly waged, he says — was a godsend to Al Qaeda, which used the wrath it provoked to “aggregate” the grievances of militants worldwide. Kilcullen rehashes the standard criticisms of that debacle. But even its vociferous critics will find his comparison of President Bush’s Iraq war to Hitler’s attack on Russia overwrought. And resorting to inferential excess, Kilcullen contends that President Obama’s failure to punish Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria encouraged Vladimir Putin’s land grab in Ukraine and saber-rattling over the Baltic States.

Kilcullen explains superbly the multiple paths to jihadism, the numerous ways in which terrorists can strike, the plentiful targets urban societies offer, and antediluvian ISIS’ savvy use of the Internet and social media to attract and train acolytes. He describes the torture, beheadings and massacres perpetrated by the terrorist “Internationale.” Yet such horrifying acts are not positive achievements, and historically, terrorist movements have never shown the capacity to inflict lasting harm on well-ordered states.

Although Kilcullen’s portraits of Iraq and Afghanistan prove that militarized nation-building makes matters worse, his faith in military means (despite caveats) abides…

The Challenges of the "Now" and Their Implications for the U.S. Army

0.2 MB 
Technical Details » 
Research Questions 
What lessons can the U.S. Army draw from its own recent combat experience and that of other countries facing similar challenges that can help it prepare for the full range of adversaries it is likely to face in the future? 
What are the Army's critical capability gaps relative to potential adversaries? 

The U.S. Army has been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq almost continuously for more than a decade. While this experience has honed the Army's ability to fight irregular adversaries, these may not be the adversaries the Army will need to fight in the future. This perspective reviews the spectrum of military adversaries and operations the nation currently faces, how it has adapted to irregular challenges and the consequences of that adaptation, and the lessons of other recent conflicts. The aim here is not so much to learn about the current conflicts but to help understand battles the United States has not yet fought but likely will in the future — to learn how to address the recurring Army pattern of ignoring potential conflicts while focusing intently on a current one. To counterbalance this focus, the author has synthesized prior RAND research and drawn on personal experience and discussions with current Army personnel. He notes that our country's potential adversaries know U.S. military capabilities and vulnerabilities and are adapting. The Army needs to prepare for the full range of adversaries it is likely to confront, some of whom will be armed with weapons that are now superior to some of its own.

Key Findings

Potential Adversaries Know U.S. Military Capabilities and Vulnerabilities 
These adversaries are adapting. 
The Army needs to prepare for the full range of adversaries it is likely to confront, some of whom will be armed with weapons that are now superior to some of its own.


Forty years ago an intense controversy gripped the intelligence community over estimates of the Soviet strategic threat. Hardliners outside the community had complained that intelligence analysts were routinely underestimating Soviet capabilities and intentions because they relied on social science models that assumed rationality and reduced threat assessment to a bean counting exercise. What they should be doing, said critics, was looking harder at the intangible factors that provided a more comprehensive view of Moscow’s designs. The hardliners demanded that the intelligence community open its doors to outsiders who could form an alternative judgment based on the same classified information.

The Ford administration resisted this proposal for a while, but finally agreed to hold the so-called “Team B” exercise in 1976. Unsurprisingly, the outsiders came to much more worrisome conclusions about the Soviet Union, and the executive summary began with a broadside against what they saw as a narrow quasi-scientific methodology that caused intelligence analysts to go awry. Underestimates of the Soviet threat, Team B concluded, were

due in considerable measure to concentration on the so-called hard data … and the resultant tendency to interpret these data in a manner reflecting basic U.S. concepts while slighting or misinterpreting the large body of “soft” data concerning Soviet strategic concepts.