28 April 2016

** Fear This Man

April 26, 2016
Source Link

To spies, David Vincenzetti is a salesman. To tyrants, he is a savior. How the Italian mogul built a hacking empire.

As the sun rose over the banks of the Seine and the medieval, half-timbered houses of Rouen, France, on July 13, 2012, Hisham Almiraat opened his inbox to find “Denunciation” in the subject line of an email. “Please do not mention my name or anything,” wrote the sender, Imane. “I do not want any trouble.”

The editor and co-founder of Mamfakinch, a pro-democracy website created in Morocco during the Arab Spring, Almiraat was one of his country’s most outspoken dissidents and someone accustomed to cryptic emails: Moroccan activists faced jail time for their views and risked their jobs, or even their lives, for speaking out against their government. From Normandy’s capital city, where Almiraat was in medical school, the bespectacled 36-year-old spent his time — in between classes and hospital shifts — mentoring, coaching, and editing more than 40 citizen journalists. The group covered the roiling unrest back in Almiraat’s homeland, where he would soon return after completing his studies. (Almiraat contributed to Foreign Policy in 2011.)

Almiraat and his colleagues also trained Mamfakinch’s writers to use encryption software, most notably the Onion Router, so that their online activities remained anonymous and shielded. Tor, as it’s widely known, masks a user’s identity and physical location. “People were relying on us to protect their…reputations, their careers, and probably also their freedoms,” Almiraat says. “All of that could be put in jeopardy if that were made public.” It was precisely this forethought that had earned Mamfakinch the Breaking Borders Award, sponsored by Google and the citizen-media group Global Voices, for its efforts “to defend and promote freedom of speech rights on the Internet.”

India-Taiwan Relationship: Need To Emerge From The Chinese Shadow – Analysis

By Tridivesh Singh Maini and Manoj Kumar Panigrahi*
APRIL 27, 2016

The election verdict of Taiwan which came out on Jan 17, 2016 was significant for many reasons. Tsai Ing-wen from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was elected as the next President; she happens to be the first women president of Taiwan. Tsai has also been a fervent supporter of independence from China. A recent survey conducted by United Daily News shows that almost 3/4th of Taiwanese (73%) consider themselves Taiwanese, and not Chinese . This clearly reiterates the point that the pro-independence sentiment in Taiwan is on the rise.

At the DPP’s 29th anniversary, the President-elect categorically stated that along with neighbours in South East Asia, India too would be on her priority list. Said Tsai, ‘another one of our international priorities is to build up our relations with our neighbors in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent’. I am pleased to announce that a future DPP administration will pursue a ‘New Southbound Policy’ in the years ahead’.

The India-Taiwan relationship has witnessed significant strides in the political and economic sphere. India has begun to de-hyphenate the India-Taiwan relationship from the India-China relationship and taken some steps which have annoyed China. When India permitted the setting up of The Taipei Cultural Centre at Chennai, there were strong objections from the Chinese, but India went ahead. In fact, when the former President Ma Ying-jeou was en-route to Africa, he was granted a 90-minute stopover at Mumbai airport despite the many apprehensions that were being sounded against the move. In 2014, Vice President Wu Den-yih was permitted a transit stop at New Delhi airport on his way to Europe.

Formal talks with Pakistan have resumed, but India maintains the old Kashmir-shaped silence

Now that the ice over Pathankot has thawed, it’s business as usual for India and Pakistan. The foreign secretaries of the two countries met on Tuesday – the first formal meeting since bilateral talks were cancelled in January – on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia summit in Delhi. On the whole, both sides stuck to the old script. India spoke of terror; Pakistan spoke of Kashmir.

Pakistan has shown signs of cooperating in terror probes, recently sending a joint investigation team into Pathankot. But India continues to ignore the elephant in the room that is Kashmir. It is a silence that could prove costly at this juncture.

Everything but Kashmir

Even while the meeting between foreign secretary S. Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry was in progress, a Pakistani spokesperson issued a statement saying, “Kashmir requires a just solution in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people”. A Pakistani diplomatic source said that the dispute had been discussed, both sides had been frank and Pakistan had asserted that Kashmir was a core issue.

But a statement put out after the meeting by the external affairs ministry spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, carefully skirted the issue. It name-tagged Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and spoke of the toll that terrorism was taking on bilateral ties, it asked for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former naval officer allegedly “abducted and taken to Pakistan”, it mentioned humanitarian issues such as the exchange of prisoners, and it agreed to take the relationship forward. Everything but Kashmir.

Beyond the Indo-Pak FS level Talks

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
27 Apr , 2016

Finally the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan met on 26-April-2016 on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia, Istanbul process being hosted by India. Keeping the events of this year starting with the attack on the IAF base at Pathankot by Pakistani terrorists and the Pakistani narrative of yore, there were no surprises.

Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry was obviously well briefed, rehearsed and instructed not to deviate from the script given by the Pakistani military.

Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry was obviously well briefed, rehearsed and instructed not to deviate from the script given by the Pakistani military. Accordingly, Chaudhry emphasized that Kashmir remains the core issue requiring just solution in accordance with UN resolution and wishes of Kashmiri people.

This has also been the main plank of Pakistan at international forums, without mentioning that the UN Resolution on Kashmir, vide which Pakistan still demands, plebiscite, had categorical pre-condition that Pakistan first withdraw all her security forces from territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Boeing awards 777X titanium forging contract to Bharat Forge

By IDR News Network
26 Apr , 2016

Performance on Next-Generation 737 contract earns supplier additional work
Demonstrates Boeing’s commitment to developing Indian supply chain

Boeing announced that it has awarded a contract to Bharat Forge for titanium forgings for the Boeing 777X.

“We are pleased to expand our partnership with Bharat Forge who started supplying titanium forged flap tracks for the Boeing Next-Generation 737 airplane earlier this year. They’ve demonstrated not only a high level of technical expertise, but also an understanding of the need to meet market requirements for affordability,” said Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India. “This contract demonstrates our commitment for building a globally competitive aerospace supply chain in India to realize the full potential of the Make in India initiative.”

The titanium forgings will be developed and manufactured by Bharat Forge using a closed die forging process. The first two forgings are scheduled to begin shipping to Boeing in late 2016, and will be followed by two more forgings in early 2017.

Bharat Forge completed its first shipment of titanium flap-track forgings for the Next-Generation 737 earlier this year. The company will also supply forgings for the 737 MAX, scheduled to enter service in 2017.

Indo-Mongolia Joint Military Exercise, Nomadic Elephant- 2016 Commences at Mongolia

26 Apr , 2016

The Eleventh Indo-Mongolia joint training Exercise, ‘Nomadic Elephant – 2016’ to promote military associations between India and Mongolia has commenced today at Mongolia. The exercise will culminate on 08 May 2016. The aim of this exercise is to develop synergy and inter operability between the two armies to fight in Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment under the United Nation mandate.

A platoon of the Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army alongwith a team of two observers will be taking part in the event. From the Mongolian Armed Forces, a total of 60 personnel will take part in the exercise. The event will culminate in a 48 hours joint outdoor exercise covering specialised operations in Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment.

The Indian contingent will share their practical experiences of Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism operations through a series of classroom lectures and outdoor demonstrations which include aspects like House Clearing and Room intervention techniques in hostage situation, road opening, establishing mobile check posts, intelligence gathering and drills for countering Improvised Explosive Devices. Besides, military training both the contingents will also share their techniques of unarmed combat, specialised rappelling and participate in various sports events during the two weeks exchange.
© Copyright 2016 Indian Defence Review

No Buyers But Realtors Won’t Cut Price: 25-30% Of Price May be Pre-Paid Bribes

April 26, 2016

The only way to fix the problem is to create a supply side revolution on land availability. 

This means steadily bringing down stamp duties and registration charges to not more than 1-2 percent, making more land available in urban areas by raising FSI, building better infrastructure in the suburbs, and by making all building clearances automatic and time-bound to bring down delay-induced bribery.

Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan stated the obvious when he told realtors yesterday (25 April) that if demand wasn’t picking up then, maybe, they should cut prices. The problem may not be the cost of money.

This is actually commonsense. A 15 percent cut in home prices will stimulate more purchases than a 1.5 percent cut in interest rates – something that the Reserve Bank has already done over the last year-and-a-half. But people aren’t buying. Here’s an example to illustrate why this is so: a 15 percent cut in a Rs 50 lakh home is a saving of Rs 7.5 lakh to the buyer; you save on interest automatically, as you now need a smaller home loan. Conclusion: a cut in property rates results in a dual cut – in prices and interest costs. Hence this is what the doctor has ordered.

Why Pakistan feels bold enough to seek 'strategic depth' in Afghanistan once again

MK Bhadrakumar
Source Link

“The international community must keep their attention on Afghanistan,” said Jean-Nicolas Marti, outgoing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, to Reuters last week. “It’s far from being over. It’s not the time to switch off”.

No doubt, that’s sensible advice. But who is there to listen?

The world chancelleries, especially in the West, are hopelessly focused on the so-called hotspots ranging from Syria, Libya, Iraq, and the Islamic State to Ukraine and the “migrant crisis”.

But Marti was spot on when he added, “The security situation has really deteriorated ... and my prediction is a further deterioration. Potentially the 18 months ahead of us will be much tougher.”

However, a western (re)engagement in Afghanistan on the pattern of the famous “surge” of 2009 can be safely ruled out. The “surge” was a Pentagon baby and a reluctant President Barack Obama who was new to the job didn’t assert (probably against his own better instincts).

Looking back, the surge, which ended in September 2012, didn’t make any difference. It leaps out of the myth of Sisyphus.

Obama will not want another futile sideshow at this point in his presidency. Simply put, it is already too late to think of a western reengagement in Afghanistan.

Spring offensive

Pakistan's Game Plan to Check Expanding Indian Footprints in Chabahar

By Brig NK Bhatia, SM (Retd)
27 Apr , 2016

India has been making the right moves with a view to enhance its interests in Persian Gulf, latest being the India –Iran –Afghanistan Trilateral Agreement on Transport and Transit Corridors which was finalised in a marathon meeting between the three sides on 11 April 2016 in New Delhi. This agreement once formalised will become the legal framework for optimum utilization of Chabahar port and establish the vital corridor for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia. As per indicators all three sides are keen for an early finalisation of the agreement, likely to be signed in Tehran within the next two months at the highest levels between the three countries to coincide with visit of Prime Minister Modi to Iran in the near future.

Contours of Pakistan’s design are slowly unfolding and as usual it has tried to play prodigal spoilsport to sabotage India’s expanding footprints in the region by indicating use of Iranian territory for activities against it.

Commenting on the conclusion of event, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, Shaida Abdali said “This is a very, very crucial agreement for Afghanistan. The opening of this corridor will help us to fully reach our potential, give us a new trade route. This is a completely new chapter”.

Time for Pakistan Army to Reconcile

By Brig Anil Gupta
26 Apr , 2016

The anti-India belligerent attitude of Pakistan Army has seen an upswing in the recent days. There is no doubt that all is not well internally in Pakistan and the tussle for supremacy between the two Sharifs continues unabated.

Whenever, the Pak Army is faced with such challenges at home it resorts to its time-tested formula of upping the ante against India and raising the ‘K’ bogey.

The recent terrorist attack in Lahore has completely exposed the hollowness of the Pak Army and its failure to tame Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) despite its much touted all out military offensive in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) codenamed Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

Whenever, the Pak Army is faced with such challenges at home it resorts to its time-tested formula of upping the ante against India and raising the K bogey.

The Pak army believes that its raison d’etre is to “annex Kashmir” its so called jugular vein and unfinished agenda of the partition. Having failed miserably in annexing Kashmir and the people of Pakistan refusing to be stirred anymore by the ‘K’ chant , it has now started blaming India for the rebellion it faces in Baluchistan.

Out-of-the-box thinking needed to ease the pain of Taliban takeover in Afghanistan

“The international community must keep their attention on Afghanistan. It’s far from being over. It’s not the time to switch off”. Sadly, the plaintive voice of Jean-Nicolas Marti, outgoing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan, is unlikely to ring loud in the world chancelleries, especially in the West, which is suffering from donor fatigue and is also hopelessly focused on several ‘hotspots’ ranging from Syria, Libya, Iraq, and the Islamic State to Ukraine and the ‘migrant crisis’.

Taliban began their ‘spring offensive’ with a bang by killing 64 people in central Kabul on April 19

But Marti was spot on when he told Reuters, “The security situation has really deteriorated … and my prediction is a further deterioration. Potentially the 18 months ahead of us will be much tougher.”

The crux of the matter is whether it is not already too late to think of a renewed western engagement in Afghanistan. One primary motivation behind the devastating attack in the heart of Kabul city on April 19 by the Taliban was probably to warn the international community that it is prudent to cut losses and stay away. Over 64 people were killed and 350 injured in the attack.

Asia’s troubled water

26 Apr 2016

Asia’s water woes are worsening. Already the world’s driest continent in per capita terms, Asia now faces a severe drought that has parched a vast region extending from southern Vietnam to central India. This has exacerbated political tensions, because it has highlighted the impact of China’s dam-building policy on the environment and on water flows to the dozen countries located downstream.

Today’s drought in parts of Southeast and South Asia is the worst in decades. Among the hardest-hit areas are Vietnam’s Mekong Delta (a rice bowl of Asia) and central highlands; 27 of Thailand’s 76 provinces; parts of Cambodia; Myanmar’s largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay; and areas of India that are home to over a quarter of the country’s massive population.

Droughts may not knock down buildings, but they carry high social and economic costs. Millions of Asians now confront severe water shortages, and some have been forced to relocate. Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia have had to scale back traditional water festivals marking their New Year. The High Court of Bombay moved the world’s biggest and wealthiest cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, out of the state of Maharashtra. In one Maharashtra county, the local authorities, fearing violence, temporarily banned gatherings of more than five people around water storage and supply facilities.

China: Civilian intrastructure used for military purpose on the plateau

By Claude Arpi
27 Apr , 2016

I have often written about the dual use of the infrastructure in China (andparticularly on the Tibetan plateau).

Yesterday, Xinhua reported that during their bi-monthly session, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) discussed a new law on national defense transport.

The concept behind the new law is that the national defense transport should consider the needs of both peace and war times and vice-versa, when the civilian departments plan for a new infrastructure it should be usable by the PLA.

The legislation will cover the use of railways, waterways and air routes for defense purposes as well as civilian purposes.

According to Xinhua: “The new law is expected to regulate the planning, construction, management and use of resources in transportation sectors such as railways, roads, waterways, aviation, pipelines and mail services, for national defense.”

The idea is to integrate military and civilian resources and make sure that the national defense transport network is compatible “with market and economic development”.


APRIL 26, 2016

Editor’s Note: This piece is adapted from a new report published by the National Bureau of Asian Research. The full report, entitled “U.S.-China Relations in Strategic Domains,” is available online.

With the end of the Cold War, outer space activities lost much of their urgency and hipness. But today space is back, and more important than ever. Modern militaries and the global economy are dependent on space capabilities.Private companies are daring to take on challenges that were once the domain of superpowers. And in national security circles, there is discussion of a renewed strategic competition in space that could pit the winner of the last space race, the United States, against the rising power of China.

The United States and China have identified space as a strategic domain that is critical to their national interests and development. Both nations are dedicating considerable resources to developing their civil, military, and commercial space sectors. Beijing and Washington see their space accomplishments as important to boosting national pride and international prestige. Over time, what happens in space could serve as either a source of instability, or a means of strengthening the U.S.-China relationship.

Ontological Security and India-China Relations: From Border War to "News War"

Author:Lu Yang 

This paper considers the ontologically-based security needs of states in the international system, as illustrated by the India-China border conflict. Note: Ontological security is defined here as the security identity achieved by routinized relationships with others, which states can then become attached to. Based on this definition, the text's author considers 1) to what extent the border dispute between India and China has become part of their interacting identities; and 2) whether understanding the concept of ontological security can help unpack India-China relations and even end their long-standing border conflict? The author further argues that there is a victim-perpetrator/loser-winner relationship between the two countries which has its roots in the 1962 war they fought with each other and that has been routinized in the years since then. 

© 2016 Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) 



China’s Hollow South China Sea Consensus With ASEAN Laggards

April 25, 2016

Over the weekend, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi announced in Laos that Beijing had reached a four-point ‘consensus’ with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos on the South China Sea (See: “What’s Behind China’s New South China Sea Consensus With Three ASEAN States“). While the diplomatic move is notable given the upcoming verdict on the Philippines’ South China Sea case against Beijing, a closer look at the substance of the so-called consensus reveals that it is actually quite hollow even by Chinese standards.

According to Xinhua, Wang said that the four countries agreed that the South China Sea disputes is not an issue between China and ASEAN as a whole and thus should not affect the development of the ASEAN-China relationship. They also agreed on the right enjoyed by sovereign states to choose their own ways to solve disputes; that there should be no attempt to unilaterally impose an agenda on other countries; that territorial and maritime disputes should be resolved through consultations and negotiations by parties directly concerned; and that China and ASEAN should be able to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea through cooperation, with countries outside the region playing a constructive role in that regard.

Japan's Fighter Jets Intercepted Chinese Aircraft 571 Times in 2015

April 26, 2016

The Japan Air-Self Defense Force (JASDF) had to dispatch its fighter jets 571 times during fiscal year 2015 to intercept Chinese military aircraft approaching or intruding Japanese airspace, Japan’s Defense Ministry revealed, according to The Japan Times.

This number constitutes an all-time high since the defense ministry’s Joint Staff Office began to keep records in fiscal year 2001 and also marks a significant increase from 2014 with 464 sorties. Japan’s fiscal year ends in March.

The JASDF has recorded the most Chinese activity in the East China Sea around a group of uninhabited islands there, known in Japan as the Senkakus and in China as the Diaoyus and claimed by both countries. The JASDF Southwestern Composite Air Division also reported an increasing Chinese presence between the islands of Okinawa and Miyako.

As I reported in February (See: “Japan Forms New Air Wing to Fend Off Chinese Advances in East China Sea”), the JASDF recently stood up a new air wing consisting of Mitsubishi F-15J all-weather air superiority fighters at Naha Air Base, located in the capital city of Okinawa, to counter Chinese intrusions. The 9th Air Wing consists of 40 F-15J fighter jets.

I explained:

Deja Vu All Over Again: Why Won’t the War on Terrorism Ever End?

April 26, 2016

Counter-Terrorism: The War On Terror Repeats Itself

The War on Terror that was declared after September 11, 2001 soon evolved into a Moslem civil war between those (mainly Islamic terrorists) who want a worldwide religious dictatorship run by themselves, versus those representing the majority of Moslems who are getting tired of being threatened and murdered by Moslem religious fanatics. The majority of Moslems are not against the idea of a global Islamic dictatorship but that plan has never worked and most simply want a better life in a nation that reflects their own local culture as well as “universal Islam.”

The reality is that the War on Terror consists of many individual wars in which local power struggles, often centuries old, have become more violent because Western forces, seeking to eliminate base areas for Islamic terrorists attacking the West disabled local dictatorships that had long kept the local Islamic terrorists under control. But since the 1990s that traditional control has been breaking down anyway and, as has happened so often in the past, the West sent its own forces to deal with the matter. This is not a new problem for the United States and is an ancient one in Europe. For example in the early 1800s American merchant ships were beset by seagoing Moslem terrorists. These were the Barbary pirates, freebooters who operated out of bases in North African ports. The rulers of the North African kingdoms (the Barbary States) tolerated the pirates (considering it their God given right to do so) for a cut of the loot. Nations could protect their citizens from pirate attacks by paying large sums of money (tribute) to the rulers of the North African kingdoms who would then restrain the pirates. Today, we call this a protection racket. America paid the tribute for a while, but when asked to pay even more, the cry went up, “millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.” In went the U.S. Navy and Marines and that was the end of the Barbary pirates. Thus the Marine Corps hymn contains the line, “to the shores of Tripoli”.

ISIS Spreading in Europe, DNI Clapper

April 26, 2016

ISIS Spreading in Europe, U.S. Intelligence Chief Warns

WASHINGTON — The Islamic State is operating clandestine terrorist cells in Britain, Germany and Italy, similar to the groups that carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the top-ranking American intelligence official said on Monday.

When asked if the Islamic State was engaging in secret activities in those nations, the official, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said: “Yes, they do. That is a concern, obviously, of ours and our European allies.” He then added, “We continue to see evidence of plotting on the part of ISIL in the countries you named.” ISIL is another name for the Islamic State.

Mr. Clapper, speaking to reporters at a breakfast meeting organized by The Christian Science Monitor, became one of the most senior Western officials to publicly acknowledge the Islamic State’s extensive reach into Europe, which has set off growing fears among American and European spy services and policy makers. The Islamic State has vowed to conduct attacks in those three European countries.

Western experts, however, emphasize that it is impossible to know where the next attack might take place.

Spurred by the Paris attacks in November and the assaults in Brussels last month, the United States has rushed to provide allies with intelligence from a variety of technical and human sources, as well as to offer long-term structural fixes to the Europeans’ failure to share intelligence effectively and to tighten porous borders.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Clapper led a group of American intelligence officials who met in Germany with their European counterparts in what he said was an effort “to promote more sharing between and among the nations in Europe.”

“That, right now, is a major emphasis of ours,” he added.

Obama Says Need for More U.S. Troops in Syria Is Essential

April 26, 2016

Obama boosts Islamic State fight, asks Europe to do the same

HANNOVER, Germany (AP) — Evoking history and appealing for solidarity, President Barack Obama on Monday cast his decision to send 250 more troops to Syria as a bid to keep up “momentum” in the campaign to dislodge Islamic State extremists. He pressed European allies to match the U.S. with new contributions of their own.

Obama’s announcement of the American troops, which capped a six-day tour to the Middle East and Europe, reflected a steady deepening of U.S. military engagement, despite the president’s professed reluctance to dive further into another Middle East conflict. As Obama gave notice of the move, he said he wanted the U.S. to share the increasing burden.

Obama discussed the IS fight with British Prime Minster David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.

The president formally announced the new troop deployment in a speech about European unity and trans-Atlantic cooperation — a running theme of his trip. Speaking in Germany, he evoked the continent’s history of banding together to defeat prejudice and emerge from the “ruins of the Second World War.”

“Make no mistake,” Obama said. “These terrorists will learn the same lessons as others before them have, which is, your hatred is no match for our nations united in the defense of our way of life.”


APRIL 26, 2016

Sometimes considered the “junior” member of the WMD triumvirate, chemical weapons actually have a unique place in the pantheon of death dating back to the First World War. The fear and revulsion generated by chemical weapons spawned new concepts of conflict and deterrence and contributed to the establishment of a robust international architecture of laws, treaties, agreements, and norms designed to prevent their proliferation and use.

Chemical weapons are particularly indiscriminate and disproportionately affect the young, defenseless, and vulnerable. Their inhuman effects are painful, stealthy, terrorizing, and horrifying. The world relearned these tragic facts in August 2013 when a large chemical weapons attack on the East Ghouta neighborhood of Damascus killed more than 1,300 people — including over 400 children — using the nerve agent Sarin.

This attack crossed the infamous “red line” against chemical or biological weapons use announced by President Obama in August 2012. It brought the United States to the brink of large-scale military intervention in Syria and prompted the framework negotiated by the United States and Russia to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons program. At the time I was deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering WMD in the Pentagon and, along with many colleagues across the interagency and the world, was intimately involved in the lead up to and implementation of that agreement. These efforts ultimately led to the elimination of the vast majority of one of the largest known active chemical weapons programs in the world — a program that included more than 23 sites spread across an active war zone during a catastrophic humanitarian disaster. This involved the removal and safe destruction of more than 1,200 metric tons of dangerous chemicals and precursors in bulk form. Unfortunately, this achievement did not end chemical weapons use in the conflict. Chemicals, including chorine, continued to be wielded as weapons of war in Syria throughout most of 2014 — even as the removal of chemical weapons materials used by the Syrian government was underway — and continues to the present day. This continued usage dulls any sense of accomplishment among those of us who worked alongside our international partners on a historic effort. We did not destroy those toxic weapons just to stand by as chlorine dropped from barrel bombs or projectiles filled with crude mustard agents continue to terrorize.

25 April 2016 Time Flies And Time Magazine Lies by Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, www.nofica.com

by Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
25 April 2016

Thank you to reader Zen, for sending us this article from Time Magazine.

Rarely, it's due to stupidity. Often, it's just ignorance of the subject. But sometimes it's blatant lying, and I suspect this is one of those times.

Time Magazine and James Grant have collaborated in publishing the most inaccurate, misleading, wrongheaded article I've seen in many years - and that's saying something.

I mean, I've see stuff by such as Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck, so I thought I had seen and heard the worst of the worst. This beats all.

Let me introduce Grant's article with a reminder that a bit more than a year ago, we published, Congress, the media, the economists: The same Big Lie since 1940. What the hell is the problem?

The post reminded us all that way back in 1940, the New York times published an article titled, "FEDERAL DEBT, A TICKING TIME BOMB (Sept 26, 1940, New York Times). Subsequently, through the years, there have been hundreds, probably thousands, of articles using the "Ticking Time Bomb" analogy to describe the federal debt.

At the time of the 1940 article, the Gross Federal debt was in the neighborhood of $50 billion dollars. Today, Gross debt is about $18 Trillion, and that so-called "time bomb" still is ticking. So much for the New York Times accuracy.

North Korea’s Missile Threat: No Longer Crying Wolf

April 26, 2016

North Korea stepped up its quest for nuclear prowess over the weekend with the launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). As could be expected, the move invited international criticism, with the U.N. Security Council condemning the launch as “yet another serious violation” of UNSC resolutions restricting Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

It is impossible not to sense the global exasperation at the repeated North Korean provocations and condemnations that lead to nowhere, only to see the cycle continuously repeat itself. Experts say the United States and South Korea must do more than look down their noses at the North — they must take action to prevent further advances in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

Park Hwee-rhak, a political science professor at Kookmin University, assesses that this week’s showing is about three times more serious than North Korea’s 2013 nuclear test. Despite the country’s weak economy, military progress has accelerated under Kim Jong-un in comparison to the gains made under his late father, the longtime strongman Kim Jong-il. South Korea’s Ministry of Defense predicted the North would have an operational SLBM in three to four years, which it shortened to two to three years after the latest showing, but many experts, including Park, believe it could be one to two years or even less.

An excellent article on the Future of world economy. A view from Stanford University....

Jan 26, 2016 

Governments, businesses, and economists have all been caught off guard by the geopolitical shifts that happened with the crash of oil prices and the slowdown of China’s economy. Most believe that the price of oil will recover and that China will continue its rise. They are mistaken. Instead of worrying about the rise of China, we need to fear its fall; and while oil prices may oscillate over the next four or five years, the fossil-fuel industry is headed the way of the dinosaur. The global balance of power will shift as a result.

LED light bulbs, improved heating and cooling systems, and software systems in automobiles have gradually been increasing fuel efficiency over the past decades. But the big shock to the energy industry came with fracking, a new set of techniques and technologies for extracting more hydrocarbons from the ground. Though there are concerns about environmental damage, these increased the outputs of oil and gas, caused the usurpation of old-line coal-fired power plants, and dramatically reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil.

The next shock will come from clean energy. Solar and wind are now advancing on exponential curves. Every two years, for example, solar installation rates are doubling, and photovoltaic-module costs are falling by about 20 percent. Even without the subsidies that governments are phasing out, present costs of solar installations will, by 2022, halve, reducing returns on investments in homes, nationwide, to less than four years. By 2030, solar power will be able to provide 100 percent of today’s energy needs; by 2035, it will seem almost free — just as cell-phone calls are today.

Important Papers

ATP 3-55.4 - Techniques for Information Collection During Operations Among Populations 

Shaping the Army Network: 2025-2040 

· Operating in the Gray Zone: An Alternative Paradigm for U.S. Military Strategy 

· Starting Strong: Talent-Based Branching of Newly Commissioned U.S. Army Officers 

Open Letter to the President, Part 5

by John Mauldin
April 25th, 2016 

When the next president of the United States walks into the Oval Office on Saturday, January 22, after the heady experience of Inauguration Day followed by numerous balls, he or she will be confronted with significant economic challenges.

Follow up:

This is the fifth and I hope final installment in a series of letters I’ve written to the next president on those challenges. The first three letters in the series dealt mostly with the realities of the economic landscape beyond the the United States. The situations that most of our significant trade partners face dictate that the next US president will have much less room to operate than the candidates have suggested that they’d like to have.

Europe will be struggling not to fall apart. The budgets of most European countries are going to be even more constrained than the US budget will be. China will be lucky to escape a hard landing within the next four years. The same can be said for many other countries that are dependent on global trade in an era when trade is actually slowing.


APRIL 26, 2016

The advent of a new administration and a new Defense Strategic Review will soon provide an opportunity to rethink defense policy from the ground up. The dominant challenge, as it has been for a decade or more, will be matching declining means to rising challenges. And the most intense ends-means mismatch may be something that has so far received little sustained attention: the collision of two fundamental components of U.S. military strategy — presence, with all it entails, and expeditionary warfighting.

The warfighting task has defined the U.S. global military role since World War I. The United States maintains large, ready forces and a reserve in order to gather up a decisive force, rush to the scene of a conflict, defeat an aggressor, and win the nation’s wars. The United States sizes its forces based on some number of these contingencies — at the moment, as noted in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, one war plus an ability to “hold” in a second. The warfighting task calls for a large, mostly U.S.-based force, prepared for major combat and sufficient to defeat peer competitors. It demands strategic lift and mobility to get to the fight, and operational concepts for winning it.

This is where we encounter the first part of the means-ends challenge: The United States faces serious and growing shortfalls in its warfighting capabilities. In terms of pure capacity, taking the Army as an example, the United States would be hard pressed to respond with sufficient force to overlapping contingencies in Europe and Korea, to win one while holding the other. It does not have enough forward-deployed forces in Europe to deny Russian objectives in afait accompli in the Baltics. In technologies ranging from active protection for armored vehicles to long-range fires to short-range air defense, the U.S. Army is falling behind its peer competitors. U.S. concepts for major theater war are dated, and arguably do not take into account potential adversaries’ area-denial capabilities.

Cheap Technology Will Challenge US Tactical Dominance – Analysis

By T.X. Hammes*
APRIL 26, 2016

3-D printed rocket part blazes to life during hot-fire test designed to explore how well large rocket engine components withstand temperatures up to 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit and extreme pressures (NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

The convergence of dramatic improvements in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, materials, additive manufacturing, and nanoenergetics is dramatically changing the character of conflict in all domains. This convergence is creating a massive increase in capabilities available to increasingly smaller political entities—extending even to the individual.

This new diffusion of power has major implications for the conduct of warfare, not the least of which are the major hazards or opportunities that it presents to medium and even small powers. The outcome will depend on the paths they choose.
Historical Case


APRIL 25, 2016

Desert Storm remains the benchmark for a modern air campaign. In 40 days, a diverse assembly of coalition airpower managed to shatter one of the world’s largest military establishments, paving the way for the mere 100 hours it took ground forces to eject the Iraqi military from Kuwait. The air campaign was preceded by the most effective defense suppression effort ever, dismantling the Iraqi air defense system in 72 hours. In the aftermath of this successful campaign, the Air Force doubled down on its commitment to electronic warfare, fielding replacements for the aging F-4G Wild Weasel and moving the mission systems from the EF-111A into a new airframe. The Wild Weasel school, scheduled for closure, was revitalized and staffed with a talented cadre possessing recent combat experience. By 1996, the Air Force had demonstrated that it recognized the reasons for its recent success and prepared itself for the advanced air defense developments sure to follow the unambiguously decisive use of airpower in the Gulf.

No it didn’t.

What really happened was that the Air Force dismantled a wildly successful “Electronic Combat triad,” consisting of the EF-111A, the F-4G, and the EC-130. The EF-111A Raven was an unarmed conversion of the F-111 fighter-bomber capable of jamming air defense radars. The F-4G Wild Weasel was the last of the Air Force Phantom conversions, intended to hunt down and kill radar-directed missile batteries and guns. And the EC-130 Compass Call was a powerful communications jammer. Not a single aircraft was lost to a radar threat in the Gulf War while an armed F-4G Wild Weasel or an EF-111 Raven was on station. F-4Gs alone fired a thousand anti-radiation missiles and took down over 250 radars, a hit rate unequaled before or since.