1 May 2016

Looking For A Way Out Of Venezuela's Crisis


In Venezuela, there are more political moves afoot than the country's political impasse suggests. As Venezuela slouches toward a potentially catastrophic default on foreign debt and wider social unrest appears more and more likely, individuals in the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) are looking for a way out of the crisis, largely motivated by self-interest. After all, if the crisis in Venezuela continues unabated, the country's elites are sure to lose political status, and with it, the security it brings them.

During the first three years of Nicolas Maduro's presidency, Venezuela's economy deteriorated rapidly, causing the PSUV to split into several factions. Of these factions, the ruling clique - represented by Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, legislator Diosdado Cabello, and, to a lesser extent, Aragua State Gov. Tareck el Aissami and National Guard Commander Nestor Reverol - is the most resistant to economic reform and political dialogue with the opposition. For them, political change in Venezuela poses an existential threat, and ceding political ground to the opposition is not in their interests. In light of ongoing criminal investigations of Cabello and Flores, losing political sway in the country could jeopardize their futures. Similarly, swift economic adjustments - no matter how necessary - could threaten Maduro's presidency, further driving up inflation that already totals around 300 percent annually. Consequently, Cabello and Maduro have chosen a path of inaction on the economic front, while continuing to deflect political challenges from the opposition coalition.

Different Factions, Different Goals
Several state governors, ostensibly led by Zulia State Gov. Francisco Arias Cardenas, represent the other major faction to emerge in the United Socialist Party. Based on growing public dissatisfaction with the ruling party, even within the party, the governors in this faction oppose holding gubernatorial elections later this year. They would sooner support Maduro's departure from office, whether by referendum or resignation, than risk holding elections they could very well lose. In removing Maduro and transitioning toward a new government, the governors likely hope to mitigate public anger at the ruling party and avert a major electoral defeat. Among those in favor of holding a referendum to remove the president is former Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres. Rodriguez Torres - whom Maduro ousted in 2014 - has the support of a few unspecified dissident allies, but it is unclear whether he falls in Arias Cardenas' camp.

** Why India’s Own Navigation Satellite System Will Be A Boost For Its Armed Forces

April 28, 2016, 

With the launch of the IRNSS-IG, India is all set to have its own navigation satellite system 
Here’s why its important militarily: 

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is a step closer to reality with the launch of the seventh and final satellite of the system—the IRNSS-IG. With this, India will now have its own indigenously built navigation satellite system. 

ISRO has laid special emphasis in ensuring all segments of the IRNSS- the ground control units, receivers and the space based units are produced in India and remain in Indian control. There has been ample indication that the primary customer of the system would be the Indian military, although there is enough scope for civilian use too. 

The importance of such a network can be understood from the fact that the Chinese built their own positioning system back in early years of this century, and have granted Pakistan access to the same. The system now consists of nearly 20 satellites with likely full global coverage. The Russians and the Americans had built their own versions many decades ago.

The planned completion of the IRNSS comes at exactly the much needed time-frame for the armed services. A number of new platforms and initiatives are beginning to bear fruit - almost all of them could use access to a military grade positioning system that remains in India’s controls.

First, the locally built nuclear submarine INS Arihant is likely to be inducted into the Indian Navy as soon as May. It would carry 12 K-15 medium range (700km) ballistic missiles or 4 K-4 long range (3500 km) ones. While these systems may use other ways of positioning and navigation, an Indian GPS is sure to help and may even be a necessary prerequisite for a full scale deployment. 

*Nuclear security and terrorism

By Maj Gen Harsha Kakar
29 Apr , 2016

Terrorists have always desired to obtain weapons of mass destruction or raw material enabling them to manufacture a dirty bomb, which though crude, would however cause high casualties. Simultaneously they would continue to attempt to strike any nuclear installation. Any single successful action would prompt the world to respond with force against the responsible group, as also lead to mass counter actions against select communities resulting in a mass divide across the world. This could be a worst case scenario for the world. Nuclear proliferation was the agenda of the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

Investigations post the recent attacks in Brussels, revealed that terrorists were tracking a scientist from the Brussels nuclear power plant.

The summit was the last of the four planned, the first being in 2010, post Obama’s Prague declaration in 2009. Its aim was to review progress on actions to enhance nuclear security as also prevent material falling into terrorist hands. Nuclear security has never been the same since AQ Khan, a Pakistani scientist, stole nuclear designs from The Netherlands, helped Pakistan build a bomb and then subsequently, created a vast network that traded nuclear secrets and illicit technology across several continents. It is believed that North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Libya were among those with whom designs were shared. While the nuclear programs of other countries were stalled, North Korea’s continued unabated. While civil nuclear plants can be monitored, military facilities and nuclear weapons security is the responsibility of the nation’s themselves.

The Daily Fix: With launch of its own GPS, ISRO continues to make India proud

The Latest: Top stories of the day

1. New Delhi has approached the British government seeking the extradition of Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter scam. 

2. The Centre has also written to the United Kingdom's High Commission seeking the deportation of businessman Vijay Mallya to India in an alleged money laundering case.
3. The Indian government has barred Tiananmen Square activist Lu Jinghua from entering the country for a meeting of Chinese dissidents, a week after it revoked the visa to an Uyghur-Chinese leader. 

The Big Story: Not-so-final Frontier

Mangalyaan, the plucky little mission that saw India send an orbiter all the way to Mars on a budget smaller than that of a Hollywood blockbuster, set the global narrative for India's space programme. It may not compete with the American, Chinese (and a few paces behind, European and Russia) battle for space supremacy and there may not be much talk of lasers and space wars. But it is successful. And the lack of bombast does not signal an absence of ambition.

The successful launch of the seventh and final satellite of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System on Thursday catapulted India into that select club of countries that has their own version of the US' Global Positioning System. This means India can use its own satellites to map out navigation across an area covering 1,500 km around the Indian borders. It won't radicalise India's cartographical capabilities, but it represents independence and will also bring plenty of incremental benefits.

Bull in the China Shop: The Indian Army vs The PLA

By Brig Deepak Sinha
28 Apr , 2016

One would expect that the Indian armed forces, more than fifty years of their confrontation with the PLA, would be pretty knowledgeable not only about their organisational table, capabilities and weaknesses. Most importantly, since understanding of their operational doctrine, tactics and leadership techniques are absolutely essential there would have been a concerted effort to ensure that the officer cadre would be deeply engrossed in studying those military campaigns that give us deep insight in their handling of large scale forces, apart off course, from their latest writings on evolving strategic, tactical and organisational thought. This becomes particularly important in view of the fact that the PLA can currently support and undertake operations from Tibet with approximately 34 Divisions, as per one estimate.

“Let him who desires peace prepare for war” — Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus

Our inability to place the Henderson Brooks Report in public domain is a clear indication of our attitude of preferring to bury our heads in the sand…

There are many who believe that Sino-Indian relations are, slowly but surely, showing an upswing and it is best for us if we continue with the status quo ante with regard to delineation of the border while concentrating on rapidly enhancing our economic ties for our mutual benefit. There are, however, others who take the position that closer economic ties are only feasible as and when substantive progress has been made on the border issue.

India will have its own GPS with the launch of IRNSS-1G

By IDR News Network
28 Apr , 2016

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty-fifth flight (PSLV-C33), launches IRNSS-1G, the seventh satellite of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) into a Sub-Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO).

The launch took place from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on April 28, 2016. As in the previous six launches of IRNSS satellites, PSLV-C33 uses ‘XL’ version of PSLV equipped with six strap-ons, each carrying 12 tons of propellant.

The ‘XL’ configuration of PSLV is used for the thirteenth time. Besides launching six IRNSS satellites, PSLV-XL has also launched many other spacecraft including India’s Mars Orbiter spacecraft, the multi-wavelength observatory ASTROSAT, Radar Imaging satellite RISAT-1 and the Communication satellite GSAT-12. This apart, PSLV-XL has successfully placed five satellites from United Kingdom into orbit in a single commercial mission.

This is the thirty-fourth consecutively successful mission of PSLV, repeatedly proving its reliability and versatility.

The President, Pranab Mukherjee has congratulated the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on the successful launch of PSLV-C33 carrying IRNSS-1G, India’s seventh and final in the series of navigation satellites of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

Why India’s Own Navigation Satellite System Will Be A Boost For Its Armed Forces

By admin
29 Apr , 2016

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is a step closer to reality with the launch of the seventh and final satellite of the system—the IRNSS-IG. With this, India will now have its own indigenously built navigation satellite system.

The planned completion of the IRNSS comes at exactly the much needed time-frame for the armed services.

ISRO has laid special emphasis in ensuring all segments of the IRNSS- the ground control units, receivers and the space based units are produced in India and remain in Indian control. There has been ample indication that the primary customer of the system would be the Indian military, although there is enough scope for civilian use too.

The importance of such a network can be understood from the fact that the Chinese built their own positioning system back in early years of this century, and have granted Pakistan access to the same. The system now consists of nearly 20 satellites with likely full global coverage. The Russians and the Americans had built their own versions many decades ago.

The planned completion of the IRNSS comes at exactly the much needed time-frame for the armed services. A number of new platforms and initiatives are beginning to bear fruit – almost all of them could use access to a military grade positioning system that remains in India’s controls.

Acting East: Securing the India-Myanmar Border

By Angshuman Choudhury
29 Apr , 2016

Almost a year before 20 soldiers of the Indian Army’s 6th Dogra Regiment were killed in a brutal offensive by Naga-Manipuri militants along the India-Myanmar border in Manipur’s Chandel district, the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj announced a decisive move from India’s earlier ‘Look East’ to a new ‘Act East’ design for Southeast Asia. The assailants were understood to be operating freely across the Indian border with Myanmar – a country that is set to serve as the springboard for India’s entry into Southeast Asia.

While Myanmar is viewed as a proximal partner in improving overland connectivity with the rest of Southeast Asia, Northeast India is meant to serve as a key ‘land bridge’ to the Greater Sub-Mekong Region.

In this context, is it possible to sustain a long-term relationship with Southeast Asia without first securing the 1640km-long unfenced India-Myanmar border? Can India’s Northeast accrue the benefits of the upgraded ‘Act East’ approach without a secure politico-military climate of its own?

No Jobs Nirvana: India May Have Missed The Manufacturing Bus Altogether

April 28, 2016

Even if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India succeeds, it will not bring with it a huge expansion in employment.

Organised manufacturing offers no nirvana, from the way it is playing out all over the world.

With hindsight, and only with hindsight, it can be said that India may have missed the bus altogether on manufacturing and export-led growth. China was probably the last major economy to gain from making itself a manufacturing and export powerhouse, but now the world is simply incapable of digesting another export-led economy like China, even assuming this can be done. India, even if it were capable of China-like policy moves, cannot probably make it.

This is because manufacturing’s golden age is gone. It is going through the same process of huge increases in productivity that agriculture witnessed in the 20th century. When productivity increases faster than demand for long periods of time, an industry has to shrink in terms of job growth.

Eduardo Porter, writing in The New York Times points out that it needed 45,000 workers to pluck 2.2 million tons of tomatoes in California some 50 years ago. Then a new oblong tomato was developed after much research, which could be picked faster with the help of harvesting machines. The unions protested to stop job-destroying research, but even after the state stopped funding research in this area, jobs still fell to around 5,000.

That’s what productivity did to jobs in agriculture. Today, farming accounts for less than 2 percent of total US employment.

Indonesia’s Natuna: South China Sea Joint Development Area? – Analysis

APRIL 29, 2016

The South China Sea’s most significant potential Joint Development Area (JDA) lies around Indonesia’s Natuna Islands.

The JDA would be established to the northeast of Natuna in an area where territorial claims of Indonesia and Vietnam border each other. Across both, China’s ill-defined Nine-Dotted Line adds a confused additional claim.

The Natuna area holds what may be Asia’s richest offshore deposits of undeveloped natural gas. It’s also highly strategic transit way between the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

Known as the East Natuna Gas Fields, development would occur to the northeast and east of Natuna Island itself. The area contains various subfields known as Tuna, Sokang, Belut and other names.

The gas fields would be connected to Natuna through new and existing shallow water gas pipelines. These would be connected to a Pan-Asian Gas Pipeline (PAGP), which is a more extensive version of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) proposed Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline (TAGP).

U.S. Spymasters Swat Their Fly on the Wall

April 28, 2016

The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is the best in the world at determining what individuals are thinking. A global network of spies, phone intercepts and overhead imagery excels at analyzing persons. But it’s terrible at understanding people. This must change.

U.S. national-security priorities are increasingly focused, not on state actors, but on insurgencies, transnational terrorism and other forms of violent extremism. Defeating these groups means understanding and eliminating their popular support. But the IC has not changed much from the Cold War era in which it grew up. That does not have to be the case.

I had the privilege of leading the Consolidated Stability Operations Cell (CSOC), which managed atmospheric intelligence gathering for Coalition forces in Afghanistan. We developed a nationwide network that reported on what their communities were saying about development, governance, security and other pressing issues. The insights from our analysis were far more useful for Coalition resource allocation and international donors than tasked covert collection in Kabul.


APRIL 29, 2016

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, President Obama said that the 2011 Libya intervention was the greatest disaster and worst mistake of his presidency. Obama apologized for the lack of post-intervention planning, but not for the intervention itself, adding that intervening in Libya “was the right thing to do.” As rumors abound that Europe again prepares to intervene in Libya it is worth analyzing the lessons of the last intervention. The intervention in Libya isarguably considered disastrous. It provided a foothold for the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), destabilized an entire coastline only miles from Europe, and rendered the entire region a launching ground for human smugglers profiting on migrant trafficking, not just from Middle East, but from as far away as Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and Pakistan. As a rookie foreign affairs blogger five years ago, I argued that plunging into in Libya would be imprudent. Academics such as Stephen Walt, Micah Zenko, and others repeatedly warned against intervening in Libya.

The reasons were simple.

There was never any doubt Gaddafi was brutal; he was a secular authoritarian leader who ruled Libya with an iron fist. There were complaints about the general well-being of Libyans and the stagnating economy, but overall, Libya was an island of stability especially when compared to countries in and around that state. Libya, was, although, one of the primary rogue states during the 1980s and 1990s. The fate of Saddam Hussein also made him realize he needed the reconsider his hostile approach to the West. As such, Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program and assisted intackling jihadists and intelligence cooperation. Gaddafi’s human rights record was horrifying, but qualitatively no different than other allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. One had to tolerate his rambling, mind-numbing rants in the United Nations, to be certain—but Libya was crucial in securing an entire borderline between the continent of Africa and Europe. Then, a small group of radicals supported by Islamist elements from around the world— including by U.S. allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia — waged a brutal, sectarian, and tribalistic campaign against the state.


APRIL 28, 2016

Even before the dramatic blitzkrieg the Islamic State launched through northern Iraq in June 2014, the group had been focused on expanding its presence beyond Syria and Iraq. The group has by now declared wilayats (provinces) in West Africa (Wilayat Ifriqiyah, the organization formerly known as Boko Haram), in the Caucasus region of Russia, and in countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Though the campaign of expansion launched by the Islamic State (known in the U.S. government by the acronym ISIL, after its previous incarnation as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has been fraught with setbacks, the group also achieved real successes. Its move into Libya, where ISIL controls the city of Sirte, justifiably piqued international fears. ISIL’s ability to attract thousands of foreign fighters — and the significant danger they now pose to Europe — is another success story for the group outside of its Syria-Iraq stronghold. As ISIL seeks to establish new wilayats abroad and pull more foreign fighters into its ranks, one of its most potent weapons is its robust propaganda apparatus.

In every country where ISIL has established a presence, it has drawn on a general propaganda playbook consisting of its most powerful themes and narratives that resonate with its global audience, but ISIL also tailors its message to each new theater. The movement is adept at fitting its narratives to local political and social conditions, and exploiting societal grievances and fault lines. ISIL’s localized messaging helps bolster the group’s legitimacy, fuel recruitment, and amplify (and often exaggerate) its strength in countries where the group is fighting for a foothold.

ISIL’s Global Propaganda Playbook


How to shut down the ‘jihad factories’

April 5, 2016

Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and author, most recently of Water, Peace, and War .

The Brussels bombings, as with the Paris terrorist attacks last year, show that jihadi-minded citizens of European Union states can turn into killers by imbibing the insidious ideology of Wahhabism.

This is the mother of fanatical Islamist groups – al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and Islamic State – all of which blend hostility toward non-Sunni Muslims and anti-modern romanticism into nihilistic rage.

The key to battling Islamist terrorism is to stem the spread of the ideology that has fostered “jihad factories.” The export of Wahhabism by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other oil sheikdoms is the source of modern Islamist terror. From Africa to Asia and now Europe, Arabian petrodollars have played a key role in fomenting militant Islamic fundamentalism that targets the West, Israel and India as its enemies.

No country has contributed more than Saudi Arabia to the international spread of Wahhabism, which is gradually snuffing out more liberal Islamic traditions in many countries. If Saudi Arabia is to be stopped from continuing to export radical Islamist extremism, the United States and Europe will have to adjust their policies to stop the cloistered Saudi royals from continuing to fund Muslim extremist groups and madrassas in other countries.

With Western support, tyrannical oil monarchies in Riyadh, Doha and elsewhere were able to ride out the Arab Spring, emerging virtually unscathed. Saudi Arabia has faced little international pressure, even on human rights.

Syrian Ceasefire on the Verge of Collapse

April 28, 2016

Military Buildup, Fighting Spells End of Syrian Cease-Fire

A military buildup in northern Syria, coupled with heavy fighting and mounting civilian casualties, spells the end of a cease-fire that for two months brought some relief to a war-weary country. The renewed violence is ushering in what could be an even more ruinous chapter in the 5-year-old conflict.

About 200 civilians have been killed in the past week, nearly half of them around Aleppo. There has even been shelling in Damascus, along with a car bomb — both rarities for the capital.

With peace talks in Geneva completely deadlocked, Syrians are regarding the escalating bloodshed with dread, fearing a return to full war and slow destruction.

“There are regime attempts to advance and preparations by (rebel) forces to advance in the other direction. But the truth is that both sides have no capacity to advance,” said activist Ahmad al-Ahmad, who lives in opposition-held areas outside Hama. “It is attrition, except for the planes, which can target civilians.”

Aleppo is likely to be the focus of the next phase of the war, with both sides preparing for a major battle, according to senior rebel leaders and opposition activists who spokes to The Associated Press.

Government forces have been mobilizing soldiers, equipment and ammunition in preparation for a military action in Aleppo, said Maj. Jamil Saleh, leader of Tajammu Alezzah, a Free Syrian Army faction that has received U.S.-delivered TOW anti-tank missiles.

Big Surge in Missile Tests in Russia, China, North Korea and Iran

Bill Gertz
April 28, 2016

Missile test surge

U.S. intelligence agencies that monitor foreign missile tests have been working overtime in the past several weeks keeping tabs on test firings by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The surge in missile tests began April 12 in central China with Beijing’s newest and longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41. The missile carried two dummy warheads that are the latest feature of China’s large-scale nuclear buildup — the addition of multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, to its forces.

The Pentagon was silent on the test, but China’s Defense Ministry confirmed the test on April 21, describing the launch as a “normal” scientific experiment.

Then on April 19, Russia tested a revolutionary new hypersonic glide vehicle that travels at several thousand miles per hour and is capable of maneuvering to defeat missile defenses. The Yu-71 was launched atop an SS-19 long-range missile from a base in central Russia and flew east.
On the same day, Iran conducted the first test launch of what the Pentagon says is a covert long-range missile known as Simorgh. Iran has called the rocket a space launcher. The missile, which is believed to contain North Korean missile technology and equipment shipped to Iran in the past year, was fired from a launch facility at Semnan, located about 125 miles east of Tehran.

Defense officials said the missile landed within Iranian territory and did not send any objects into orbit, as would be expected. Iranian media were silent on the launch, which the State Department said might have violated the U.N. Security Council resolution on the Iran nuclear deal. The resolution calls on Iran to refrain from any rocket development that could have applications for long-range missiles.

Russia’s GRU Says 4,500 Islamic State Militants Now In Central Asia – OpEd

APRIL 29, 2016

Central Asia. Map by Cacahuate, Wikipedia Commons.General Sergey Afanasyev, deputy chief of the GRU, the Russian military’s intelligence service, says that approximately 4500 people in Central Asia have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State and that they constitute a problem for the countries of the region and ultimately for Russia as well.

In reporting his remarks, “Moskovsky komsomolets” asked Azhdzar Kurtov, the editor of the “Problems of National Strategy” journal issued by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI) for his reaction (mk.ru/politics/2016/04/27/v-centralnoy-azii-naschitali-4-500-boevikov-igil.html).

Kurtov expressed a certain skepticism about the number Afanasyev reported. “It is in general strange,” the RISI editor said, “to think about where this number came from because now GRU officers can collect information only in Syria and Iraq but not in Central Asia.” Moreover, it is necessary to make distinctions between loyalists and activists.

That there are ISIS loyalists and activists in Central Asia is beyond question, he continued. “More than that, according to certain parameters, the situation in Central Asia is very similar to the one which preceded the appearance of ISIS in the Middle East” – poverty, brittle authoritarianism, and explosive demographic trends.

The Risks At Play At The Summer Olympics


-- this post authored by Scott Stewart

As athletes and spectators gear up for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, security experts and professionals are also preparing. On April 13, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) issued a report assessing the threat to the upcoming Olympic Torch Relay, which will travel through several European countries and 329 Brazilian cities before arriving in Rio de Janeiro for the Aug. 5 opening ceremony. Among other items,

ABIN's report confirmed that a French Islamic State member named Maxime Hauchard was responsible for a November 2015 tweet threatening attacks in Brazil. Issued in the wake of the extremist attacks in Paris, the message warned, "Brazil, you are our next target." Of the many risks discussed in ABIN's report, the Hauchard revelation garnered the most buzz and made international headlines about the Islamic State's threat to the Summer Games.

Yet despite the heavy media coverage that this threat has attracted, several unrelated and more likely dangers to athletes and spectators lurk in the upcoming Olympics.
The Terrorism Threat

Organizing for the future

McKinsey Quarterly 2016 Number 1 

Explores the implications of workplace automation, the power of sleep and meditation, Ericsson’s recent HR transformation, and more.

Is Cheap Oil Easing China's Energy Fears?

April 28, 2016

A variety of hypotheses have been offered to explain Beijing’s rapid buildup of several large runways on reefs in the southern part of the South China Sea. One analysis appearing in the Chinese naval magazine Modern Ships (现代舰船), the August B 2015 edition, published a translation of a Japanese report pitching the novel theory that these airstrips were necessary for Chinese bombers to strike Australia since US forces will be increasingly basing “down under.” A favorite explanation of most Western China-watchers, to be sure, is the notion that the Chinese government faces problems at home, including the slowing economy, and so is playing the Chinese nationalism card by taking a hardline approach to this maritime dispute.

Not to be forgotten, there is additionally the nuclear-strategy explanation (and I’m not referring to reports of mobile, ship-based nuclear-power plants that seems to me quite far-fetched), which holds that China’s nascent force of nuclear-armed “boomer” submarines requires a potent shield of ships and aircraft to cover their egress into the wider Pacific for deterrent patrols. A closely related argument to the so-called “bastion” explanation, suggest that Beijing seeks more generally to enhance its security by dominating the “near seas.” Then, there is the material explanation—that China simply covets the protein (fish) and hydrocarbons—from the contested sea area. That argument has never been particularly persuasive since the quantity of either fish or hydrocarbons to be gained would amount to a drop in the bucket compared to aggregate Chinese demand.

Thales Delivers Trusted Security for SAMSUNG ARTIK IoT Platform

By IDR News Network
29 Apr , 2016

Thales delivers digital trust across connected devices, applications and platforms

Thales, leader in critical information systems and cybersecurity, announces that the SAMSUNG ARTIK™ platform includes hardware security technology to ensure the authenticity and validity of device firmware. The SAMSUNG ARTIK internet of things (IoT) platform is supported by Thales’s cryptographic solutions to provide cryptographic key generation, verification, signing and key management.

Ultimately, the interoperability of all of these devices – ranging from complex and sophisticated products such as home appliances, mobile devices and televisions, to lightweight and small accessories such as lamps, thermometers, switches and sensors – will allow people to enjoy a smarter, more convenient lifestyle. The open SAMSUNG ARTIK platform provides all of the essential hardware and software building blocks to allow faster, simpler development of new enterprise, industrial and consumer applications. This allows developers to focus on their areas of expertise in designing new applications and services rather than having to build entire systems from the ground up, enabling a faster time-to-market.

Curtis Sasaki, vice president of ecosystems, Samsung Electronics says: “One of the benefits of the SAMSUNG ARTIK ecosystem is the ability to leverage the wealth of expertise available in the market to help bring the best IoT solutions to bear much faster. Thales’s proven track record of delivering best-in-class cryptographic hardware security and key management will benefit our developers and the larger ecosystem by enabling a new generation of IoT products and applications to enter the market with enhanced privacy and security features critical for the broad array of products and services.”

Spear-phishing: A problem on the rise

April 27, 2016 

Each and every day we are seeing newly planned cyberattacks, though perpetrators are giving old threats a new twist. These attacks combine real-world contact to gather, update or confirm information about their target.

I am sure most readers are aware of a type of spear-phishing referred to as whaling, which is when cyberattackers target company executives or those in C-suites. These older techniques have recently increased in usage — up 55 percent from last year — and involve phone calls that attempt to complete an individual’s stolen profile. Once the call is completed, carefully constructed emails are sent that contain malicious links or attachments to all of those that have been investigated, profiled and targeted.

Some cybersecurity experts have expressed concerns that the information gathering may be the precursor to a wave of ransomware attacks. Some attacks are even designed to leverage smartphones to infect their targets.

The FBI recently warned defense contractors about cyber threats, but all organizations should immediately alert their executives, administrative staff and others to phishing and whaling threats. This is particularly needed in the critical infrastructure, military, defense and aerospace industries given the sensitive information that is routinely handled by their executives, as well as most of their other employees.

The Birthplace Of Google Is Now Developing Military Tech

April 28, 2016 

Stanford students are pairing with the military and intelligence community to develop national security technology. 

A group of students at Stanford University in California are coming up with ideas for next-generation defense products.

Part of the university’s Hacking 4 Defense program, the course’s 32 undergraduate and graduate students are broken into eight teams of four, each with their own military liaison, and a plan for a minimum viable product, or MVP. Their goal is to create prototypes of products for use by the Department of Defense and intelligence community.

The idea for the class came from instructor Steve Blank’s previous Lean LaunchPad course, and is an attempt to apply the agility and speed of the startup industry to national security. In the Lean LaunchPad class, students come up with a vision of a product they’d like to create and set about doing just that. In Hacking 4 Defense, the focus is on national security. “I think this class brings all those pieces together,” Blank told Task & Purpose. “The military knows how to do that in wartime, but it defaults to the most bureaucratic organization in the world in peacetime … the problem is that our adversaries are now disrupting us 24/7 in different parts of the world and we need the agility to respond.”

How to Write a Change of Command Speech

Chances are you’ve been in one of the following situations: a member of a formation suffering under a long change of command speech; an audience member embarrassed for the speaking commander because his speech is really bad; or a soon-to-be ex-commander staring at a blank page on the morning of your own departure speech. Sound familiar?

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. The change of command speech is important but it can sneak up on you in the distracted days before the big event. Here are some thoughts to consider as you prepare for the transition. There are sections for Incoming Commanders, Outgoing Commanders, and some general tips.

Maj. Brian Harber, executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, salutes Lt. Col. Jeff Stewart, outgoing commander of the 1-24IN, signifying the Soldiers are ready for inspection during a change of command rehearsal ceremony at Ladd Parade Field here June 29. Lt. Col. Stewart relinquished command of the battalion to Lt. Col. Matthew MacNeilly during a ceremony at Fort Wainwright, Alaska July 2, 2012.

Study: Snowden Disclosures Have Dramatically Affected Internet Usage

Jeff Guo
April 27, 2016

New study: Snowden’s disclosures about NSA spying had a scary effect on free speech

In June 2013, reporters at The Washington Post and the Guardian ran a series of stories about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency was harvesting huge swaths of online traffic — far beyond what had been disclosed — and was working directly with top Internet companies to spy on certain people.

Glenn Greenwald, one of the Guardian journalists who reported the disclosures and a surveillance skeptic, argued in a 2014 TED talk that privacy is a critical feature of open society. People act differently when they know they're being watched. “Essential to what it means to be a free and fulfilled human being is to have a place that we can go and be free of the judgmental eyes of other people,” he said.

Privacy advocates have argued that widespread government surveillance has had a “chilling effect” — it encourages meekness and conformity. If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious.

The problem, though, is that it’s difficult to judge the effect of government-spying programs. How do you collect all the utterances that people stopped themselves from saying? How do you count all the conversations that weren’t had?


APRIL 29, 2016

“I feel the need. The need for speed.”

Whether you love it or just really, really like it, the movie Top Gun has survived as an iconic pop-culture sensation for 30 years. The highest grossing film of 1986 and definitive summer blockbuster captured the zeitgeist of the era through a high-octane mash-up of Cold-War fueled, Reagan-era fighter jets and all the definitive hallmarks of a late-80s classic: infinite cheesy quotes, a highly-synthesized soundtrack, and multiple intense hard-work montages.

Like a time capsule caught on VHS, the movie permanently time-stamped the hottest trends of those years in the minds of the public — Aviator sunglasses, Val Kilmer’s bleached Flattop — but importantly, the movie also introduced millions of viewers to the U.S. Navy and carrier aviation. Through the eyes of the equal-parts handsome and rebellious pilot, Lieutenant Pete Mitchell (call sign “Maverick”) the movie took viewers into a fighter cockpit in the most realistic flying scenes that had ever been produced and awoke many young men and women to the awesomeness of “flying Mach 2 with your hair on fire.”

As well, Top Gun was a ground-breaking, inside look at the F-14 Tomcat and the Navy fighter pilot community, perfectly depicting a culture that viewed itself as indestructible, undefeatable, and unmatched either in a dogfight or at the Officer’s Club Bar. An incredible recruiting tool over the past three decades, the film remains a cultural touchstone inside and outside of naval aviation.


APRIL 28, 2016

The Korean Peninsula is entering a new era. North Korea’s fast developing nuclear capability demands a change to how we communicate with, deter, and prepare for war against it. The U.S.-South Korea alliance now needs to be much more discerning about the types of weapons it wields and the signals it sends, intentionally and otherwise. It should start with swapping out America’s occasional B-52 deployments for the F-22.

Alliance policymakers and military commanders have long been able to engage in muscle flexing toward North Korea with little regard for whether it induced fear in Pyongyang’s ruling regime. Indeed, the hope among most alliance leaders has historically been that military “shows of force”—mostly in the form of exercises and temporary deployments—would induce fear or apprehension in North Korea. And as I capture in my new book on North Korea’s history of provocations, muscular signaling was always America’s principal means of saving face as it showed restraint in the face of North Korean violence.

This line of reasoning wasn’t entirely misplaced in decades past. Sure, it contributed to a pretty obvious moral hazard—doubling down on enmity toward an adversary while also repeatedly backing down when challenged only invites further adversary aggression. But in all fairness, deterrence doesn’t work unless threats are somehow involved. The United States did often need to refrain from retaliating against North Korea for larger geopolitical reasons. And military signaling was as much intended to assure South Korea as it was to deter the North.