5 June 2016

*Robotisation Of Militaries: Organisational, Policy And Operational Issues – Analysis

By Kalyan M Kemburi*
JUNE 3, 2016

Military organisations world over have to grapple with a range of organisational, policy, and operational issues with the expanding role of robotic systems. This is coupled with increased automation of functions and processes in pursuit of military operations.

Popular media historically has been titled towards portraying ‘robots’ as menacing humanoid machines on a mission to exterminate the human race. In reality, the current robotic systems are more benign—or for that matter sometimes nondescript—ranging from iRobot’s cleaning robot Roomba to iPhone’s personal assistant Siri to drones hunting terrorists and unmanned ground vehicles sniffing IEDs. In fact, robots and the artificial intelligence that runs them have become so ubiquitous that we have lost the ability to detect their presence among us and sustain our normal functioning in their absence.

Similarly, in case of military applications, robots come in all shapes and sizes—from blimps to buggies to bugs—and gradually acquiring capabilities to undertake missions in all domains of warfare. On this road to robotisation, military organisations have to grapple with a range of organisational, policy, and operational issues, some of which deserve closer attention:

Organisational and Policy Issues

Revealed: India's Ambitious New Naval Strategy

June 2, 2016

Recent developments in the Indian Ocean have been a witness to India’s mustering enough political will to advance its regional interests through actionable deliverables, visibly in opposition to mere notional assertions of the past. As India reorients its Indian Ocean policy, a tripartite transformation is underway—a regional outlook that ties together India’s Act East policy, its Look West policy and, most noteworthy, its cooperation with the United States in the regional maritime domain.
Acting East

The transformation from a Look East to an Act East policy has been at the center of India’s maritime recalibrations in the past few years. Such an approach has been accompanied by an improvement in relations with not just the individual countries to its east, but with strong regional organizations such as ASEAN. Countries of specific focus for India have recently included Vietnam, Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia.

The maritime area extending from India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands has also been critical to India’s recent regional maritime calculus. The focus on the Andaman Sea, for instance, has been critical to both India’s developing role in the Indo-Pacific as well as its by now axiomatic desire to be a regional net security provider. In this regard, from April 19–27 in the Andaman Sea, INSKarmuk along with a Dornier maritime patrol aircraft participated in the twenty-second Indo-Thai Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT). CORPAT has been underway since 2005, taking place biannually to ensure the safety of international trade and shipping lines. The twenty-second CORPAT had a clear focus on search and rescue at sea and preventing unlawful activities, furthering India’s regional net security provider agenda. India has also extended naval cooperation with Thailand in other areas, such as training of Thai navy and coast guard trainees. For this purpose, Indian naval ships Tir and Sujata and sail-training ship Sudarshini, along with the Indian Coast Guard’s Varuna, were deployed in Phuket, Thailand as part of an overseas deployment this spring.

India Needs To Stop Being Ambiguous About Taiwan – Analysis

By Namrata Hasija* 
JUNE 3, 2016

In a historic moment, Taiwan’s first female President, Tsai Ying Wen took oath of office on May 20, 2016 in the presence of 700 dignitaries from 59 countries. Her party coming to power with an overwhelming majority and most importantly the position of DPP in the Legislative Yuan can lead to a number of changes in Taiwan’s domestic politics. Taiwan’s domestic politics is intricately tied up with its relationship with Mainland China thus influencing it heavily. The result of the recent Taiwanese elections gives two clear indicators as to why Tsai Ying Wen was elected — first of all, the Taiwanese people want economic improvement and secondly, public opinion rejects the close relations between Taiwan and Mainland China during Kuomintang (KMT) rule. The KMT promised growth in the economy and peace if they had healthy cross strait relations. With the economy crawling at 2 per cent, citizens showed their anger over the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) with China, resulting in the ‘Sunflower Movement’.

Already low in popularity, the KMT was hit again by the history textbook controversy. In both cases there was a strong message that local Taiwanese were not happy with the KMT government’s policy and that most people strongly identified as Taiwanese and not Chinese. The people of Taiwan were more scared after what happened in Hong Kong where pro democracy supporters were assaulted in June and September 2014 and the idea of ‘one country, two systems’ fading away in Hong Kong. Students in Taiwan supported protests in Hong Kong and realized the same could be their fate if integrated with the Mainland. Taiwanese respect their democracy and Tsai in her campaign and inaugural speech stressed on the same.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has 68 seats in a 113-seat legislature for the first time, while the KMT has 35 seats, the new, youth oriented New Power Party (NPP) has five seats, and the People First Party three seats and independents hold two seats. For the first time DPP has a clear majority in the Legislative Yuan which means it can pass the cross-strait agreement oversight legislation which was a major demand of the Sunflower Movement. This agreement requires that decisions like CSSTA should have public inputs. This is one of the major changes that the DPP promised during its election campaign.

Canadian Spies Get Medals for Work in Afghanistan

Justin Ling
June 1, 2016

Canada’s Spies Won Awards for ‘Dangerous’ Work in Afghanistan, but Details Remain Secret

Canada won’t confirm exactly what its spies were doing in Afghanistan, but it has been quietly awarding service medals for their service, according to documents obtained by VICE News. And it was dangerous.

Those medals were pinned on to the spooks’ chests by Governor General David Johnston, who acts as Canada’s head of state, for their work in Afghanistan.

But for much of Canada’s involvement in the war-torn country, the work of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) remained strictly secret. In recent years, CSIS’ work in Afghanistan has slowly come to light.

Even now, the government will only say that that CSIS agents were processing detainees and doing basic interviews with possible al Qaeda or Taliban commanders from within Canadian Forces and Afghan military bases. But these new documents, obtained under the Access to Information Act, reveal that CSIS agents may have been directly in harm’s way.

A photo of the medals. (CSIS)

In 2013, the service created the Operational Service Medal (OSM), awarded specifically for “when the deployment involves a certain level of risk, threat, hardship or operational intensity,” according to the regulations creating the medal.

Pakistan’s Double-Game Stands Exposed Again: Killing Of Afghan Taliban Chief – Analysis

By Jai Kumar Verma*
 JUNE 3, 2016

Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the Afghan Taliban chief who was killed in a drone attack on May 21 in the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan was a hardliner and averse to the idea of any negotiations. He refused to participate in the Quadrilateral Cooperation Group (QCG) constituted to initiate peaceful negotiations. In fact, instead of taking part in peace talks, under his leadership, the Afghan Taliban enhanced attacks on US and Afghan forces.

According to reports, when he was killed, he had a Pakistani passport in the name of Mohammad Wali on him and had valid Iranian visa, along with a CNIC which is issued to ‘bonafide’ citizens of Pakistan. He was entering Pakistan from the Taftan check post on the Iran-Pakistan border from where he was ostensibly headed to the Afghan Taliban headquarters in Quetta. It has been reported that he had travelled out of Pakistan several times, especially to United Arab Emirates and Iran on Pakistani passport. All of this comes to indicate his close relationship with the Pakistani deep state.

Taliban spokesperson announced the appointment of Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, who was the deputy leader of slain leader Mansour as the chief of Taliban on May 25. Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob son of Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani were declared as the deputy supreme leaders of Taliban.

Will Pakistan Dump Taliban – Are You Kidding? – OpEd

By Lt Gen P. C. Katoch (Retd.)*
Leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, as seen in this undated handout photograph by the Taliban. 
There was much speculation post the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, Afghan Taliban chief not only about the possible leadership struggle within Afghan Taliban, but also that Pakistan may turn a new leaf and cooperate to usher stability in Afghanistan. Senator John McCain, Chairman of US Senate Armed Services Committee while speaking about the killing of Mansour said, “I hope this strike against the Taliban’s top leader will lead the administration to reconsider its policy of prohibiting US forces from targeting the Taliban”. He added that “it (Taliban) is the one force most able and willing to turn Afghanistan into a terrorist safe haven once again”. Senator Corker chipped in by saying, “If Pakistan would play a more constructive role, we could destabilize the Taliban far more rapidly.” That is a very big “if” and as deceptive as the size of the two Taliban banded together by Pakistan’s ISI.

Mansour was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in Baluchistan province of Pakistan. The installation of Mansour to head Afghan Taliban last year was carefully orchestrated by Pakistan keeping the death of former Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar in a Karachi hospital under wraps for more than two years. This was a strategic masterstroke by Pakistan as Mansour was the religious teacher of Haqqanis based in Pakistan for over three decades. Haqqanis have been consistently used by Pakistan as their covert arm to destabilize Afghanistan and target Indian establishment and interests in Afghanistan. But that was not all. Concurrent to Mansour becoming Afghan Taliban chief, the Haqqani Network chief, Sirajuddin Haqqani was placed as the deputy leader of Afghan Taliban last year itself. The US media got wise to this important development only recently as a New York Times report of May 8, 2016 indicates.


JUNE 3, 2016

Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from Sen. McCain’s speech as prepared for delivery at RSIS in Singapore before the start of the Shangri-la Dialogue. 

Here in Singapore, we have the largest congressional delegation ever to attend the Shangri-la Dialogue. We have the Secretary of Defense and other members of the President’s national security team. We have the PACOM commander and the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson. This collection of civilian and military leaders speaks volumes about America’s enduring, bipartisan commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.

As a Pacific nation, the United States recognizes that much of the history of the 21st century will be written here in this region. Tremendous opportunities lie ahead. And I am confident we can seize these opportunities together if we stay true to the principles that brought us to this fortunate moment in the history of Asia.

Seventy years ago, out of the ashes of world war, America and our allies and partners built a rules-based international order—one based on the principles of good governance and the rule of law, free peoples and free markets, open seas and open skies, and the conviction that wars of aggression should be relegated to the bloody past. Put simply: These ideas have changed the fortunes of Asia forever.

Nepal Tibet: The Risky Himalayan Crossings For Refugees – OpEd

JUNE 3, 2016

Friendship Bridge between Nepal and China in Kodari Highway (Khasa) and Syaprubesi- Gyorong Highway are the major two point of crossing for heavy vehicles and people between two countries.

The border trading town of Khasa has remained closed following the earthquake. China is preparing to relocate the current residents of the earthquake-ravaged border town of Khasa to Xigatse, 200km to the northwest. The earthquake that hit central and eastern Nepal on 25 April 2015 affected Khasa as well and the residents were moved right after the quake.

Locals claim the resettlement plan is to discourage the illegal trade China believes has grown in the area because of the close ties between Nepalis and residents of the area. Some other say that even though China has security concerns it is also wary of the Tibetan refugees crossing Nepal through highways and passes between two countries..

There are many passes between Tibet and Nepal to cross the Himalayas. The passes are a kind of walking trails. Only a person and an animal like yak or horse can travel at a time due to its narrowness. Only some parts of the trail are in better condition for walking while most parts appear to be difficult to travel for human beings. These traditional, historical and natural trails are considered to be lifelines for the border people of both sides for many centuries.

China’s Aggression Is Killing Foreign Investment

June 2, 2016

Every time China’s military forces advance with a territorial claim in the East or South China Seas or in India’s Arunachal Pradesh or across the Taiwan Strait, foreign direct investment into China retreats. As Senator Everett Dirksen once said, “a billion here, a billion there,” and pretty soon it’s real money.

If a strong economy is key to survival of the Chinese Communist Party, Beijing’s brain trust has made a huge strategic blunder in abandoning its “peaceful rise” in favor of a rapid military buildup and pursuit of territorial claims throughout Asia. Naked aggression by the People’s Liberation Army, coupled with Beijing’s hard, bullying line on a host of disputes, is not just driving most of the rest of Asia into America’s arms. The specter of a new Imperial China is also raising very real questions in corporate boardrooms around the world as to the wisdom of long-term capital investment in China.

Make no mistake about the importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) in China’s economic development and transformation. In the wake of Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 economic “second revolution,” first a trickle and then a flood of FDI transformed China into the world’s largest factory floor and drove double-digit GDP growth for more than three decades.

Today, however, China’s flood of FDI may have reached its high-water mark. In 2015, India overtook it as the world’s top FDI destination, while FDI into China has plateaued since 2011.

Commentary: With Washington looking the other way, Iran fills a void in Iraq

Jun 2, 2016

A member of Iraqi security forces gestures near Falluja, Iraq, May 31, 2016.

On May 30, Iraqi special forces stormed the southern edge of Falluja under U.S. air cover, launching a new assault to recapture one of the last major Iraqi cities under the control of Islamic State militants.

Iraq’s elite forces who are leading the fight have been trained by U.S. advisers, but many others on the battlefield were trained or supplied by Iran. It’s the latest example of how Washington has looked the other way as Iran deepened its military involvement in Iraq over the past two years.

In recent weeks, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi’ite militia members supported by Iran assembled on the outskirts of Falluja for the expected attack on the Sunni city. In the lead-up to the assault, General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the special operations branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, met with leaders of the Iraqi coalition of Shi’ite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Big Win Over ISIS Could Mean a New War

The fight against ISIS is succeeding, but ironically the wins scored by U.S.-backed forces raise tough questions about who exactly will rule when the terror group is gone.

Troops fighting ISIS appeared to on the verge of another victory over the self-proclaimed Islamic State Wednesday, as they moved into a city that has served as the main thoroughfare for ISIS foreign fighters and weapons. But the potential seizure of the Syrian city of Manbij by U.S.-backed forces is only likely to set off a new battle for control—this time pitting Arabs against Kurds.

The battle Wednesday reflected a growing problem for the U.S. and its push to train local fighters, even as those forces take territory from ISIS. Who exactly will govern those towns now? Will it be the Kurds who have led the fight against ISIS? Or will it be what some in the Pentagon have privately called the “token Arabs” trained by the U.S. to accompany them?

Two defense officials told The Daily Beast Wednesday they don’t know. They believe the Arabs would be in charge. But even these officials admit that asking the 5,000-or-so newly-trained Arab fighters to control three or more formerly ISIS-controlled areas—and at the same time move into the ISIS capital of Raqqa—would be difficult.


JUNE 2, 2016

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has endured significant territorial losses since its peak a year ago. Additional coalition deployments, an improving information campaign, a resurgent Iraqi army, targeted financial sanctions, and tireless diplomacy have set the stage for the eventual reduction of the self-proclaimed caliphate. Concurrent with these efforts is a large manhunt to bring Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, its leader, to justice. While this is an important consideration, defeating this movement is a much more pressing and daunting task. The best way to defeat ISIL in the long term is to leave Abu Bakr in place – as the caliph who lost his kingdom.

Don’t take our word for ISIL’s struggles; its spokesman Mohammad al Adnaniadmitted as much last week when he warned that the loss of movement leaders, past or future, would not deter the “soldiers of the state” from continuing the fight as insurgents, much like they did prior to 2013. Adnani, as dramatic as ever in this latest speech, does offer a point that we should consider. The specific targeting of this group’s leadership (via a decapitation campaign) has had mixed results in the past. In fact, it was the killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi that probably saved what eventually became the Islamic State of Iraq in late 2006.

Iran’s Relations With Saudi Arabia: An Inside Look – OpEd

By Mohammad Masjed-Jamei*
JUNE 3, 2016

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have hit a deadlock and it seems that under present circumstances it is neither expedient, nor beneficial for Saudi rulers to adopt another policy other than the current policy of animosity toward Iran. Basically speaking, social and intellectual conditions in this country, in particular, and in the Arab world, in general, do not allow for such a change of policy. In addition, the country’s decision-makers, as part of the general society, think along the same lines as other parts of the society do. This can be deduced from their remarks.

At any rate, continuation of this situation is not in their favor, but it will take time before they understand this and in the meantime, any expression of willingness and probably insistence on Iran’s part will backfire, because Saudis will take it as a sign of our passivity and success of their own policy. However, the consequences of their current policies, especially with regard to their southern neighbor, will finally make them revise the current trend, even if on a small scale. Saudis and their allies started the war on Yemen to gain an absolute victory in a short period of time, but this did not happen in practice and it was clear from the beginning that this will not take place. Vanity over the power of their weapons and some sort of intellectual and analytical poverty were main factors behind this miscalculation.

Let’s not forget that Saudis’ current policy on Iran is part of their large-scale security, military, economic and developmental policy, whose goals they are planning to achieve in the next 15 years. This is a phenomenon special to the Third World that those in power sometimes design a big leap in their policies and the masses welcome that change either upon politicians’ instigation or in a self-motivated manner, but the enthusiasm ebbs after a while and hard realities come to the surface.

The Myth That Empowers Islamic Terrorism

May 31, 2016 

Radicals are exploiting a common misunderstanding of sharia.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a man of mystery. Fascinating as he is dangerous, I contend that the only thing you need to know about him is that he is a religious scholar.

This is because Baghdadi is not alone as a terror leader; the founding or operational leaders of other major terrorist groups in the news—the Taliban, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda—are also religious figures such as clerics or Islamic scholars: namely, Mohammed Omar, Mohammed Yusuf and Abdullah Azzam, respectively.

Why have religious leaders come to play such an important role in violent radicalism, how did this all start, and what is the basis of their support?

For starters, the defining trend of recent centuries is the worldwide embrace of modernity and the socioeconomic advances brought about by science. As science began to replace religion as a source for understanding the world, secularists began growing in influence at the expense of religious leaders.

A manifestation of this trend in the Muslim world is rule by secular regimes and the domination of the public space by moderate elements. Unfathomable as this may seem now, even up until the 1970s, it was common for Kabul women to wear Western clothing and mix freely with men. A characteristic of this era was the absence of Islamist militant groups. Evidently, along with other religions, the forces of modernity were pushing Islam into a reformation.

Beyond Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State’s HR Files Illuminate Dangerous Trends

June 1, 2016

Thanks to the jihadi version of an Edward Snowden data dump, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point now hosts documented evidence of who has joined the Islamic State’s ranks.When compared to other Islamic State foreign fighters estimates or to the last decade’s foreign fighter flows to Iraq, this new data shows thatEurope’s foreign fighter recruitment rate is growing far faster than that of any other region. The dangers of unaddressed foreign fighter facilitators and new foreign fighter currents spell trouble on the horizon.

The Problem with Foreign Fighter Estimates

Foreign fighter numbers to the Islamic State and al Qaeda routinely surface in the media, each larger and more alarming than the last. These estimates are fraught with analytical danger. First, they often focus on raw numbers of recruits heading off to Syria and Iraq rather than the rate of recruitment per capita. These counts, often just guesses, completely miss the point. More populous countries will almost always, and should be expected to have, the largest count of foreign fighters in a sample. Another common misstep comes when analysts calculate foreign fighter recruitment rates using a country’s total population. This too is a deceptive method by which to measure the problem. The most accurate foreign fighter recruitment comes from measuring the raw count of fighters against the Sunni Muslim population of a country, which is often a small subset of a country’s total, especially in Europe. Another set of problems arises when analysts take distinct foreign fighter samples as representative of the entire foreign fighter population. For example, the Sinjar records showing foreign fighters to Iraq provided the best source of data last decade, but it represented only one foreign fighter transit point into Iraq and only those recruits entering during 2006 and 2007. External, open-source foreign fighter estimates prior to the recent Islamic State data dump relied principally on social media aggregation and thus missed pockets of members who were physically recruited or arrived from countries where social media participation is either less common or heavily surveilled (as in Russia).


JUNE 3, 2016

In 2014, following several high-level embarrassments, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered two enterprise-level reviews of nuclear forces. Remarking on their findings, Hagel said, “The internal and external reviews I ordered show that a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces —over far too many years — has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses.” Until now, documented problems with America’s nuclear enterprise have focused primarily on personnel issues— a lack of focus by the missile crews, pilots, technicians, or the leaders of those charged with handling America’s most powerful weapons. However, the persistent lack of investment in the nuclear enterprise suggests that the reasons for lapsed focus are actually structural, and thus require structural solutions. The findings of the 2014 nuclear enterprise reviews were not new. In 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fired Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley for their “drifted focus”away from the nuclear mission. New Air Force leaders spent the next six years refocusing the service on the nuclear mission. The nuclear enterprise’s structural problems require urgent attention, most of all how resources are allocated for nuclear forces.

A Better Way to Fight Modern Slavery

June 2, 2016

The 2016 Global Slavery Index, recently issued by The Walk Free Foundation, estimates there are 45.8 million victims of human trafficking worldwide—nearly 10 million more than estimated in the 2015 report. Andrew Forrest, the foundation’s founder, attributes the apparent increase in victims to improved methodology and to global instability that increases vulnerabilities to human trafficking. According to the Index, Asia remains a hotbed of human trafficking. Fifty-eight percent of all human trafficking victims live in just five Asian countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan. India alone is estimated to have more than 18 million victims, and at least four percent of North Korea’s population is enslaved.

The Index has come under fire for having questionable methodology. The Walk Free Foundation collaborates with Gallup, conducting twenty-five surveys and interviewing over 42,000 people, to compile the data from which it extrapolates to make its estimates. But at the very least, it represents a good-faith effort to quantify the problem. And Walk Free’s work is needed. Despite sixteen years of concerted anti-trafficking efforts—there is still no reliable, comprehensive governmental data source on human trafficking.

You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism – from within

31 May 2016

IMF economists have published a remarkable paper admitting that the ideology was oversold 

‘You hear it when the Bank of England’s Mark Carney sounds the alarm about ‘a low-growth, low-inflation, low-interest-rate equilibrium’. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/AFP/Getty Images 

What does it look like when an ideology dies? As with most things, fiction can be the best guide. In Red Plenty, his magnificent novel-cum-history of the Soviet Union, Francis Spufford charts how the communist dream of building a better, fairer society fell apart.

Read more Even while they censored their citizens’ very thoughts, the communists dreamed big. Spufford’s hero is Leonid Kantorovich, the only Soviet ever to win a Nobel prize for economics. Rattling along on the Moscow metro, he fantasises about what plenty will bring to his impoverished fellow commuters: “The women’s clothes all turning to quilted silk, the military uniforms melting into tailored grey and silver: and faces, faces the length of the car, relaxing, losing the worry lines and the hungry looks and all the assorted toothmarks of necessity.”

But reality makes swift work of such sandcastles. The numbers are increasingly disobedient. The beautiful plans can only be realised through cheating, and the draughtsmen know it better than any dissidents. This is one of Spufford’s crucial insights: that long before any public protests, the insiders led the way in murmuring their disquiet. Whisper by whisper, memo by memo, the regime is steadily undermined from within. Its final toppling lies decades beyond the novel’s close, yet can already be spotted.

Documentary Of The Week: Media Propaganda

Written by John Lounsbury

Noam Chomsky, MIT Professor of Linguistics Emeritus, was interviewed some years ago (in the mid-1990s) by the BBC about the professor's view that the press is a propaganda tool.

The BBC interviewer, Andrew Marr, tries to argue that the media doesn't ubiquitously promote propaganda, or has any type of medium intrinsic bias; he gets well and truly screwed on every point he tries to make. The irony is that Andrew Marr's total belief that he's not spewing out propaganda or is too estblishment leaning is exactly the reason why the BBC gave him his job.

Source: YouTube

Is There A Right Way To Learn To Read?

-- this post authored by Emily Harrison, Birmingham City University

Phonics teaching in UK primary schools is rightly recognised as giving children the essential building blocks needed to become successful readers. Indeed, we are so pro-phonics that little is done to raise awareness about other methods, even those which might be seen as an accompaniment to phonics, not a replacement for it.

Schools tend to stick to what they know and, with more and more demand being put on teachers to raise standards and achieve excellent Ofsted reports, there is little in the way of "free time" to be allocated to testing out new methods, even those aimed at children who have had phonics training but who still have reading difficulties.

Phonics is based on training children's "segmental phonological awareness" (that is, raising their awareness of letters and sounds and teaching them segmenting and blending skills). But there is a second part to phonological awareness known as "suprasegmental phonology". It refers to the rhythmic components of spoken language that accompany the segmental elements, such as stress placement, intonation or pitch, and timing.

Phonics teaching in practice.

Is There A Right Way To Learn To Read?

31 May 2016

-- this post authored by Emily Harrison, Birmingham City University

Phonics teaching in UK primary schools is rightly recognised as giving children the essential building blocks needed to become successful readers. Indeed, we are so pro-phonics that little is done to raise awareness about other methods, even those which might be seen as an accompaniment to phonics, not a replacement for it.

Schools tend to stick to what they know and, with more and more demand being put on teachers to raise standards and achieve excellent Ofsted reports, there is little in the way of "free time" to be allocated to testing out new methods, even those aimed at children who have had phonics training but who still have reading difficulties.

Phonics is based on training children's "segmental phonological awareness" (that is, raising their awareness of letters and sounds and teaching them segmenting and blending skills). But there is a second part to phonological awareness known as "suprasegmental phonology". It refers to the rhythmic components of spoken language that accompany the segmental elements, such as stress placement, intonation or pitch, and timing.

Phonics teaching in practice.

New tech makes tank armor 'see-through'

By Allison Barrie 

June 02, 2016 

What if tank crews could see through the heavily armored walls of their vehicle?

BAE System’s cutting-edge tech, called BattleView 360, lets warfighters do just that. A crew member wearing the helmet-mounted tech can "see through” the tank out to the battlefield around them.

Technology innovation has long been underway to give fighter pilots this sort of capability. For example, the F-35 helmet utilizes cameras and sensors fixed around the outside of the jet to provide pilots with a 360-degree view. In a sense, the helmet lets fighter pilots see through the floor of the aircraft, down to the ground.

The concept with the tank is the same – but on the ground. With BattleView 360, tank crews and commanders will have a complete view of the battlespace around them in real time – no matter how heavily armored the vehicle is.

The heart of BattleView is a digital mapping system. It collates, tracks and displays the position of anything of interest to a tank crew in the surrounding area. And it can do this in two-dimensions, or in three.

Related Image
BattleView tablet. (Bae Systems)

Why use it?

Aside from being very futuristic and cool, BattleView 360 provides a number of key advantages. One example is removing an enemy’s element of surprise.

Should the US Intel Community Give “The Donald” Secret Briefings???

June 2, 2016

Some officials worry about briefing Trump, fearing spilled secrets

Some U.S. intelligence officials are concerned that Donald Trump’s “shoot from the hip” style could pose national security risks as they prepare to give him a routine pre-election briefing once he is formally anointed as the Republican presidential nominee.

Eight senior security officials told Reuters they had concerns over briefing Trump, whose brash, unpredictable campaign style has been a feature of his rise as an insurgent candidate. Despite their worries, the officials said the “Top Secret” briefing to each candidate would not deviate from the usual format to avoid any appearance of bias.

Most of the officials asked for anonymity to discuss a domestic political issue.

Current and former officials said that the scandal over Hillary Clinton’s use of emails also raises concerns about her handling of sensitive information. The likely Democratic nominee is facing an FBI probe into whether security was compromised and laws were broken by her use of a private email server for government business while she was Secretary of State.

“The only candidate who has proven incapable of handling sensitive information is Hillary Clinton,” said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “If there is anyone they should be worried about it is Hillary Clinton." 

But Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience, his volatile style, and his little known team of foreign policy advisers make him a unique case, the officials said.

Book Review: There Will Be Cyberwar

June 1, 2016 

With the increasing demand for the latest and greatest technology, security is more of an afterthought, and thus gives a hacker a head start.

Richard Stiennon’s There Will Be Cyberwar: How The Move to Network-Centric War Fighting Has Set The Stage For Cyberwar highlights the disparity of the speed at which technology emerges with the speed at which security for the technology is developed. Stiennon highlights that the rush of the U.S. military into network-centric warfare has led to the dilemma of playing “catch up” with security to protect the latest technology. What if military technology turns friends into foes, navigation leads pilots and captains astray, or missiles, guns and weapons do not fire when employed. Stiennon brings to light what the future will hold for warfare and the warfighter. Here is chapter 7 from the book, which focuses on threat management.

Chapter 7: Threat Management

Consider if the US president’s morning intelligence briefing was focused on risk management.

It would have to take into account the 40 or so US facilities that are involved in the production of nuclear weapons. Then there may be the 250 or so diplomatic missions around the world, and of course hundreds of US military bases, and maybe a breakdown of the 17 designated critical infrastructure sectors, not forgetting parks and national monuments and yes, movie studios.

Ridiculous, of course, because a true risk management report would summarize all of that information into a simple score. A vast army of risk auditors would be engaged to come up with a uniform scoring system and every “asset” would be given a score which would be weighted and rolled up into a dashboard that gave a single-pane-of-glass view into overall risk every day.

Infographic Of The Day: Eight Things The Ultra Successful Do To Enhance Efficiency

Ever thought about where you were in the last year? Do you think you were as successful as you had pictured yourself to be?

Source: http://infographixdirectory.com/business/8-things-ultra-successful-enhance-efficiency-infographic/

Opinion: Court's location data ruling spells the end of privacy

June 1, 2016 

A US appeals court ruing that the government doesn't need a warrant to track location data is a troubling development that further whittles away privacy protection in an era of pervasive data collection and tracking.

On Tuesday, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government does not need warrant to track the location of more than 200 million Americans with smartphones.

It's an astonishing decision. Basically, according to the court, because the vast majority of us use cellphones and apps that track our locations, we've opted out of 4th Amendment privacy protections. Even more alarming, the court's ruling opens the door for the government to get access to all of our Internet-connected apps and software that have knowledge of our whereabouts.

The court reasoned that since we – the hundreds of millions of cellphone users in the US – have voluntarily disclosed our geolocation to a third party (our cellular providers), the third party can share that information with the government.


JUNE 3, 2016

The Battle of Midway in June of 1942 was one of the most important naval battles in world history and a turning point in the Second World War. Between June 4 and 7, aircraft from aircraft carriers Enterprise, Yorktown, and Hornet of the U.S. Navy’s Task Forces 16 and 17 ambushed and sank the Imperial Japanese Navy’s carrier force that only six months before had attacked Pearl Harbor and terrorized the Pacific. The Battle of Midway is important to memorialize and remember for many reasons. Among these reasons is that it is an inexhaustible source of still-relevant lessons on how to successfully apply intelligence at all levels of war.

Intelligence Collection and Analysis

At the root of the American victory at Midway was U.S. Navy intelligence successfully breaking Japanese codes and discovering the Japanese Navy’s plans to attack Midway Atoll.

Station Hypo was the team of U.S. signals intelligence (SIGINT) analysts led by then-Commander Joseph “Joe” Rochefort. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Station Hypo began attempting to decode messages transmitted using theJN-25 code. By late April, Rochefort’s team assessed that the Japanese were planning major operations against the central Pacific and Aleutians. In a famous trick, Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Chester Nimitz approved a ruse proposed by Rochefort that saw the American garrison at Midway send a fake message “in the clear” (on open channels) regarding broken water evaporator units on the island. Almost immediately afterward, American listening posts intercepted Japanese transmissions mentioning the water shortage and the need to bring along extra water to support the operation. The identity of the Japanese objective was conclusively determined as Midway.

Stretching and Exploiting Thresholds for High-Order War

How Russia, China, and Iran Are Eroding American Influence Using Time-Tested Measures Short of War


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Research Questions 
How have Russia, China, and Iran used measures short of war to exploit and stretch U.S. strategic thresholds for high-order conventional or nuclear conflict in eastern Europe, east Asia, and the Middle East? 
Does the United States apply the most effective theories and practices to defend against strategic threshold stretching and exploitation by competing nation-states? 

U.S. thresholds for high-order conventional and nuclear war are diffuse and dynamic, differ across regions, and are hard to enforce. Since 9/11, three of the primary nation-state competitors to the United States — Russia, China, and Iran — have successfully exploited or stretched U.S. thresholds for high-order war in order to further their strategic ends and, in the process, undermine U.S. interests. Each of these countries has made expert use of some combination of measures short of war, including economic leverage, terrorism, limited military incursions, aggressive diplomacy, and covert action, to enact its strategies. Some argue that these actions constitute a new international order, or perhaps a new way of war. They do not: Use of measures short of war is time-tested nation-state behavior. U.S. policymakers and military service leaders would benefit from additional consideration of these measures, how they are used against the United States, and how they might be defended against and exploited to further U.S. strategic interests.

Key Findings