14 June 2016

*** The East India Company: The original corporate raiders

William Dalrymple

For a century, the East India Company conquered, subjugated and plundered vast tracts of south Asia. The lessons of its brutal reign have never been more relevant 

The Mughal emperor Shah Alam hands a scroll to Robert Clive, the governor of Bengal, which transferred tax collecting rights in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company. Illustration: Benjamin West (1738–1820)/British Library 

One of the very first Indian words to enter the English language was the Hindustani slang for plunder: “loot”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word was rarely heard outside the plains of north India until the late 18th century, when it suddenly became a common term across Britain. To understand how and why it took root and flourished in so distant a landscape, one need only visit Powis Castle.

The last hereditary Welsh prince, Owain Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn, built Powis castle as a craggy fort in the 13th century; the estate was his reward for abandoning Wales to the rule of the English monarchy. But its most spectacular treasures date from a much later period of English conquest and appropriation: Powis is simply awash with loot from India, room after room of imperial plunder, extracted by the East India Company in the 18th century.

*** The Mistrust of Science

By Atul Gawande 
June 10, 2016

The following was delivered as the commencement address at the California Institute of Technology, on Friday, June 10th.
If this place has done its job—and I suspect it has—you’re all scientists now. Sorry, English and history graduates, even you are, too. Science is not a major or a career. It is a commitment to a systematic way of thinking, an allegiance to a way of building knowledge and explaining the universe through testing and factual observation. The thing is, that isn’t a normal way of thinking. It is unnatural and counterintuitive. It has to be learned. Scientific explanation stands in contrast to the wisdom of divinity and experience and common sense. Common sense once told us that the sun moves across the sky and that being out in the cold produced colds. But a scientific mind recognized that these intuitions were only hypotheses. They had to be tested.

When I came to college from my Ohio home town, the most intellectually unnerving thing I discovered was how wrong many of my assumptions were about how the world works—whether the natural or the human-made world. I looked to my professors and fellow-students to supply my replacement ideas. Then I returned home with some of those ideas and told my parents everything they’d got wrong (which they just loved). But, even then, I was just replacing one set of received beliefs for another. It took me a long time to recognize the particular mind-set that scientists have. The great physicist Edwin Hubble, speaking at Caltech’s commencement in 1938, said a scientist has “a healthy skepticism, suspended judgement, and disciplined imagination”—not only about other people’s ideas but also about his or her own. The scientist has an experimental mind, not a litigious one.

** Open DoD’s Doors To Cyber Talent, Carter Asks Congress

June 09, 2016
Source Link

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Ashton Carter today asked Congress to help the Pentagon’s quest for talent in specialized areas such as cyber warfare. Among many other reforms, this latest iteration of Carter’s “Force of the Future” initiative requests changes to existing law to:

Let cyber and other technical experts join the military at higher ranks than fresh-faced second lieutenants right out of ROTC, something only doctors can do today;

Let DoD hire talented graduates as Pentagon civilians fresh out of school, without going through the usual civil service rigmarole of USAjobs.gov;

Let military officers take non-standard assignments, such as going to graduate school, without being penalized for it when they’re up for promotion;

Let Carter and future secretaries waive provisions of the landmark Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) to address shortages in crucial skills.

None of these ideas is new, and none is as radical as many reformers have called for. But they all face an uphill battle against bureaucracy, tradition, and long-established statute. Carter has struggled for years to improve the Pentagon’s access to high-tech talent. He created a Defense Innovation Unit (Experimental), DIU(X), in Silicon Valley — but felt compelled to replace its founding leaders, who were civil servants and military officers, with Valley insiders. Carter’s protégé and the chief of Strategic Capabilities Office, William Roper, comes from an accelerated-hiring program for Highly Qualified Experts — but across the Defense Department there are just 90 such hires.

“For each of these changes, we’ll need Congress’s help,” Carter said of his proposals today. “We know some on Capitol Hill already agree with us… Over the past year, Congressional leaders have expressed support for reviewing DOPMA.”

** South Asian dynamics

Shehzad Chaudhary, Retd Air Vice Marshal, Pak Air Force

Narendra Modi addressed the US Congress this Wednesday. He is not the first Indian prime minister to do so but at a moment when India’s own profile is rising for the better in South Asia, it could be propitious for India’s global status.

In a month’s time the Nuclear Suppliers Group will convene to consider both India and Pakistan’s requests for membership. Despite the technical and resource facilitations that such membership accrues to a nation pursuing a nuclear programme, civil and military, it is more a reflection of aspiration for global recognition; and the competitive nature of things between India and Pakistan.

The US supports India’s membership but 47 other members, including China, must also agree before India can accede to the mantle of de jure acceptance of its nuclear status, however indirect. Pakistan holds a certain influence over the Chinese vote which may be its saving grace. The US does not as vividly support Pakistan as it does India but it has been at the US’s bidding that Pakistan too has applied with the understanding that NSG members will consider each application on merit. With American domination of most international security and economic regimes, the chances of the merit working in India’s favour are far greater.

Pakistan will again fall back on China, but till when? One day China too will submit to the international consensus. Even if India fails to rise to the NSG this time round, it will have gained significantly greater space in moving towards that objective. Modi has agreed to begin the process of acquiring six American nuclear reactors giving meaning to why the Indo-US nuclear deal between the two was first signed.

Technological And Strategic Implications Of MTCR For India – Analysis

JUNE 13, 2016

India last Monday qualified to become member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), when the deadline for objection to Indian application expired without any member raising objections, in what is being termed as “silent procedure”. Under the silent procedure lack of objection automatically qualifies applicant to be a member.

MTCR is one of the four non proliferation regimes, enacted by group of nations controlling sensitive technologies as part of global non proliferation effort. The other three are the Wassenaar Arrangement dealing with export control of conventional arms and dual use technologies. Australia Group focuses on export controls on technologies with regard to chemical and biological weapons. Lastly is the Nuclear Supplier Group a grouping of 41 countries that seeks to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons

The MTCR was essentially created to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons in particular delivery systems with a minimum payload of 500 kg at a range of 300 Km. subsequently with the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles including combat aerial vehicles these were also inducted with the ambit of the guidelines. In terms of prohibited materials these are divided into two Categories, which are outlined in the MTCR Equipment, Software, and Technology Annex.

India’s Air Defence: Is it Capable?

By Maj Gen AK Mehra
13 Jun , 2016

Modern technology has brought about two major changes in the air defence segment of the modern battle milieu. These changes described below, have transformed the very nature of the air defence engagement warranting a change in the rules for conduct of this battle. With advancements in technology in the fields of aviation, missilery, rocketry and unmanned aerial systems the modern aerial threat has undergone a total makeover in which fighter aircraft are not the only objects to threaten the objects on ground. Unmanned constituents of this threat cannot be deterred and have to simply be destroyed, to prevent them from performing their tasks, and some of them can be engaged only by ground-based air defence weapons.

Our hostile neighbours have the capability to seriously threaten our airspace as well as assets anywhere on the ground…

India needs to keep its eyes open, lest it loses Myanmar to China

By Amitava Mukherjee
13 Jun , 2016

China is now all set to gain a major advantage in the strategic scenario of South Asia as Myanmar has awarded contracts to a China-led consortium for constructing a deep-sea port and a special economic zone (SEZ) in a place called Kyaukphyu which is situated right on the Bay of Bengal. The above mentioned six member consortium will be led by the Citic group of China and the only non-Chinese member of it will be the Charoen Phokphand of Thailand. 

The entire project is worth $ 280 million and apart from the deep sea port it will also comprise of a 978 hectare industrial zone and a housing project of 494 hectares. Of all the ongoing foreign funded projects in Myanmar the Kyaukphyu SEZ is strategically the most important one as it will give China a direct overview of the Indian Ocean’s busy shipping lane through which passes most of China’s energy supplies.

India will make a costly mistake if it does not take into account several interesting equations now metamorphosing in Myanmar; a country which is vital for the successful implementation of its Act East policy. Aung San Suu Kyi, the foreign minister and state counselor of Myanmar who had a large part of her education in India, is now clearly showing a propensity of turning towards China while the Tatmadaw or the Myanmar army, a very powerful institution of the country, had started moving slowly away from Beijing since 2011.

Kargil Controversy: Army trashes IAF perspective

By Lt Gen Mohan Bhandari
12 Jun , 2016

While Air Marshal Bedi in his article ‘KARGIL-AN IAF PERSPECTIVE’ has tried his best to educate readers, in his words, “inadequate understanding of fundamental percepts of air power… and hopefully set the records straight in the interest of inter service bonhomie”, he perhaps has also taken recourse to sift inputs from plethora of material available on Op VIJAY. Even after ten years, controversies keep on erupting on the conduct of this operation. These will continue in the future as well because certain facts have not come out in the open.

Bedi has written: “Apparently, it was the American Ambassador John Galbraith who advised Prime Minister Nehru not to commit the Air Force.” It is astonishing to note that the Service Chiefs, and the Air Chief in particular, were mute spectators in the 62 Sino–Indian conflict. He later goes on to say, in his own words: “The Chinese did not have any significant capability then.” Did the Air Chief at that time give his professional advice to the Government or did he go to the Prime Minister seeking employment of air power? Do you depend on a diplomat’s advice for professional employment of a particular service? Why then have the Service Chiefs?

“At the time of the Chinese invasion of India last year, one of the aircraft carriers of the US Seventh Fleet was ordered to the Bay of Bengal to help defend the Calcutta Zone if the need arose”, informs the Times of India of the 19th December 1963. It goes on to say, “The Chinese withdrew because they feared that the West would retaliate.” Did the Service Chiefs especially the Air Chief know this? Who was directing the military operations? Certainly not the Ambassador! It was a failure in the Higher Direction of War. Where was the jointmanship or bonhomie then? Obviously, there was a total lack of inter service understanding and planning.

Perception matters against Left Wing Extremism

By Dr Mathew Sinu Simon
12 Jun , 2016

In 2006, the Government of India declared a ‘four pronged strategy’ to deal with the menace of Left Wing Extremism (LWE). This strategy has, in fact, evolved over a period of time. Its four prongs include: security related interventions, development related interventions, ensuring the rights and entitlements of forest dwellers, and better public perception management. Winning hearts and minds through the Civic Action Programme (CAP) and the Media/Perception Management Plan is an important element in combating LWE propaganda. This article focuses on the government’s civic and media components of the strategy for dealing with LWE.

CAP in LWE affected states was initiated in 2010-11. Over the last few years, CAPs have also been initiated in the insurgency-affected North East and Jammu & Kashmir. Under this scheme, funds are provided to the central armed police forces (CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB) at Rs. 3 lakh per company per year for conducting welfare activities in their deployment areas in LWE affected States. The aim of the scheme is to bridge the gap between the security forces and the local populace. An amount of Rs. 99.22 crore has been released to Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) under the Scheme up to December 31, 2015.1

Integrating Defence Plans with Niti Aayog’s Long Term Vision

June 06, 2016

A new dimension has been added to the many challenges already being faced by Indian defence planners. In an interesting development, Niti Aayog is thinking of integrating defence and internal security with the new 15-year vision it is developing as an alternative to national five-year plans.1 This long-term vision will be based on broader social objectives and take into account changes in the world economy while setting sustainable goals. A 7-year National Development Agenda (NDA) will also be drawn up to flesh out the vision. This will require the Aayog to specify targets, fix milestones, ensure financial support, steer programmes through inevitable roadblocks, and monitor the outcomes, perhaps jointly with the ministries and other departments responsible for implementation. 

Integration of defence plans with an overarching national framework is bound to pose serious challenge both for the Aayog and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on all these counts. But this challenge can be overcome if proper groundwork is done before taking the step. 

To begin with, there has to be absolute clarity about the objective, advantages and feasibility of such integration. Considering the difference between the orientation of the national framework and the defence plans – the former focused on socio-economic development and the latter on defence preparedness – even conceptualisation of their fusion requires enormous intellectual effort. 

The current Long Term Integrated Defence Plan (LTIPP) 2012-27 is due to be reformulated to cover the period from 2017 to 2032. The thirteenth 5-year defence plan and the corresponding Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) for 2017-22 are also due for revision, along with the Annual Acquisition Plans of the three services. All these plans are to commence from the next fiscal year. The exercise to revise these plans must have already started but it may not be in tune with what Niti Aayog has in mind, as there seems to have been no exchange of ideas between the two so far.

Why Realizing China-Pakistan Partnership May Be More Complicated In Reality – OpEd

JUNE 12, 2016

China recently announced big-ticket investments in Pakistan (in power, economic corridor and infrastructure) after a serious drought of foreign investments into Pakistan. However, economic relations, be it of any country, are largely based on own-interests. China’s interest in Pakistan may be an opportunity to lend its surplus capital and export input products. It is up to Pakistan to ensure its people get a fair deal.

There are few reasons why realizing the China-Pakistan partnership may be more complicated in reality. Pakistan and China are in different stages of economic evolution and have different priorities. Pakistan needs to ensure that its main priority, i.e. improvement in its peoples’ standard of living and job opportunities, gets realized “on-ground” and not merely in “announcements”.
Power Projects:

Pakistan’s real challenge in its energy-crisis has been its circular debt, ahead of capacity shortfall. Pakistan largely has electricity generation capacity in line with its demand, at ~20-22,000 MW. However, it produces only half of this capacity since its circular debt often impacts the smooth flow of production. Estimates suggest the government pays electricity companies ~Rs 15/KWH while it charges people ~Rs 10/KWH. However, it receives only ~Rs 4.5/KWH due to rampant evasion. The shortfall of ~Rs 10.5/KWH leads to delayed payments to electricity companies, which then leads to delayed payments for fuel supplies, which then circles back to impact the flow of production. The government cannot increase tariff beyond a point since it is a sensitive issue with voters. The ruling party (PML-N) has a large voter base in Punjab province, which is also the largest consumer of electricity. Forcing defaulters to pay has constraints, since the main defaulters are often companies owned by the elite, many of whom have significant presence in its politics. Capacity-addition is not the primary answer to answer Pakistan’s energy crisis. The real fear for any power project in Pakistan remains payment delays/suspension, unless the Pakistani government can close the gap between what it earns and what is pays.

Pakistan Military Establishment Geopolitically Cornered

By Dr Subhash Kapila
13 Jun , 2016

Emerging geopolitical power- play in which Pakistan finds itself in the vortex and the resultant “reality-bites” seem to have overwhelmingly stung the Pakistan military establishment which may generate implications for India.

The Pakistan Army Chief in particular and the Pakistan military establishment in general who primarily determine Pakistan’s foreign policy formulations pertaining to the United States, China, India and Afghanistan cannot in the ultimate analysis wash their hands away from the stark reality today that Pakistan stands geopolitically cornered. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or his civilian set-up cannot be blamed by the Pakistan Army Chief for the onset of Pakistan’s likely geopolitical isolation.

Pakistan’s military establishment conditioned by decades of strategic fawning by both the United States and China and more patronised by Saudi Arabia find themselves in mid-2016 being virtually forsaken by the United States and Saudi Arabia and left with its concubinage relationship with China as the mainstay of the future foreign policy directions of Pakistan.

The most stinging geopolitical “reality-bite” for the Pakistan military establishment turns out to be the Chah Bahar Tripartite Agreement signed on 23 May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan in Tehran and which stood analysed in detail in my previous SAAG Paper No.6120 Dated 30 May 2016 “Chah Bahar Tripartite Agreement Signals New Power-Play” and I had reflected that it would rattle both China and Pakistan. Pakistan military establishment certainly seems rattled as manifested in the recent three- day workshop on “National Security, Deterrence and Regional Stability” in Islamabad organised by the Strategic Vision Institute.

Why Realizing China-Pakistan Partnership May Be More Complicated In Reality – OpEd

June 12, 2016 

China recently announced big-ticket investments in Pakistan (in power, economic corridor and infrastructure) after a serious drought of foreign investments into Pakistan. However, economic relations, be it of any country, are largely based on own-interests. China’s interest in Pakistan may be an opportunity to lend its surplus capital and export input products. It is up to Pakistan to ensure its people get a fair deal.

There are few reasons why realizing the China-Pakistan partnership may be more complicated in reality. Pakistan and China are in different stages of economic evolution and have different priorities. Pakistan needs to ensure that its main priority, i.e. improvement in its peoples’ standard of living and job opportunities, gets realized “on-ground” and not merely in “announcements”.
Power Projects:

Pakistan’s real challenge in its energy-crisis has been its circular debt, ahead of capacity shortfall. Pakistan largely has electricity generation capacity in line with its demand, at ~20-22,000 MW. However, it produces only half of this capacity since its circular debt often impacts the smooth flow of production. Estimates suggest the government pays electricity companies ~Rs 15/KWH while it charges people ~Rs 10/KWH. However, it receives only ~Rs 4.5/KWH due to rampant evasion. The shortfall of ~Rs 10.5/KWH leads to delayed payments to electricity companies, which then leads to delayed payments for fuel supplies, which then circles back to impact the flow of production. The government cannot increase tariff beyond a point since it is a sensitive issue with voters. The ruling party (PML-N) has a large voter base in Punjab province, which is also the largest consumer of electricity. Forcing defaulters to pay has constraints, since the main defaulters are often companies owned by the elite, many of whom have significant presence in its politics. Capacity-addition is not the primary answer to answer Pakistan’s energy crisis. The real fear for any power project in Pakistan remains payment delays/suspension, unless the Pakistani government can close the gap between what it earns and what is pays.

China, The EU And The Middle East – OpEd

By Fraser Cameron* 
JUNE 12, 2016

As the United States reduces its engagement in the Middle East, a process that could accelerate dramatically with Donald Trump in the White House, both the EU and China have been increasing their engagement. Some experts consider that there could even be scope for cooperation as the EU and China share a number of interests.

First among these interests is regional stability and security. For the EU it is stabilising the situation in Syria to try and stem the mass movement of refugees to Europe. For China it is ensuring the continuing secure supply of oil from a region that provides over 40% of Chinese energy requirements. There are also common interests in combating piracy, terrorism, and the provision of development and humanitarian assistance to many of the fragile states in the Middle East.

The EU and China cooperated closely on the Iran nuclear deal and China has provided a ship in the EU-led anti-piracy naval operation in the Gulf of Aden. The EU has shown interest in China’s One Belt, One Road project that could open up prospects for European and Chinese companies to work together in major infrastructure projects. Iran is likely to be a major hub for OBOR and needs huge investment in its roads, airports, ports and outdated telecommunications networks. Both the EU and China had substantial interests in Iran before the sanctions regime was imposed. It is not too fanciful to think there could be major opportunities for both to work together in Iran as Teheran looks to modernise.

The Eagle, The Dragon, The Elephant and The Bear

By Col Anil Athale
12 Jun , 2016

Indians indeed have never been more confident of their future in history and that is reflected in every field. The elephant is more sure-footed than the Chinese Dragon or the British Lion. This is of course, an analysis, confined to geo-political issues. While all of this may come to naught if say, a San Andreas fault were to open up and swallow the state of California or we continue to rape the environment and ensure that the polar caps melt leading to the ‘Great Flood’. Is it any surprise that all ancient civilisations have their end due to a great flood or ‘pralay’. But short of these events taking place, one is certain that the world would move in the direction of making the 21st century India’s century, if not by design, then by default.

Globalisation as we know it today really began in the 17th century with the growth of sea trade and naval power…

As the world enters the sixteenth year of the 21st century, trends, forces, countries, communities and issues that were barely discernible at the end of the last century are becoming clearer. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Indians have never been as confident about the future of their country as this year. Despite this optimism, internal issues that may pose a danger of regressing into a morass of conflict are noticeable of late. A note of caution is however warranted. Futurology is strewn with the debris of failed prophets such as Fukuyama of Rand Corp. (an important US think tank) who some years ago predicted “The End of History” or his more illustrious predecessor at Rand Corp., Herman Kahn, who had predicted perpetual food riots in India in the year 2000 (‘The Year 2000’ MacMillan Press, 1968, page 300) while in reality India has a buffer stock of nearly 19 million tonnes.

China's Message to Asia (And America): We Own the Air and Seas Off Our Shores

June 10, 2016 

For the second time in a month, a Chinese fighter jet has made an unsafe approach to an American military aircraft.

This time, a Chinese air force J-10 fighter intercepted a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the East China Sea. The Chinese fighter approached at high speed at the same altitude, and reportedlyclosed to within a hundred feet of the converted airliner.

Not only did the Chinese intercept occur in the wake of last September’s much-ballyhooed “Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air-to-Air Encounters” between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China, but it also occurred even as Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew were in Beijing as part of the Strategic & Economic Dialogue talks.

The Chinese are likely stepping up their activities in expectation of a ruling in the coming months from the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Chinese claims over the South China Sea.

The Philippines has filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding Chinese claims over almost the entire South China Sea; Beijing has rejected the legitimacy of the court to rule, and made clear it will ignore any findings by the court. In an interesting redefinition of “unilateral,” Beijing has condemned Manila’s filing with the international court as a “unilateral act,” exacerbating tensions in the region.

Recent Transitions in the Leadership of the PLA Rocket Forces

June 06, 2016

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Forces (火箭军) (previously the Second Artillery) has been witnessing leadership transitions and adjustments in its organisation, especially in the year 2015. The leadership transitions were prepared in the light of an eventual upgrade into an independent service, which was finally announced on 31 December 2015. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by President Xi Jinping had approved a number of promotions and transfers in the Rocket Forces, especially among high-ranking officials. While it is notable that some positions in the Rocket Forces had to be filled as the officers were placed under investigation for graft, the leadership changes point to broader concerns about the Rocket Forces’ party loyalty, their training standards, personnel organisation, and efficiency of integrated command and control. The Chinese leadership understands that the commitment of the Rocket Forces’ leadership is necessary for structural reforms to mitigate the challenges. 

These changes point to the leadership’s priorities for the Rocket Forces amidst military restructuring in the PLA and the role of high-ranking military officials and their rise in the organisation. The Rocket Forces have been consistently improving the accuracy and penetration capabilities of missiles. In response to these changes, they have begun to concentrate on scientifically and technically capable personnel to handle equipment as well as competent maintenance staff. Not only has attention been given to improving training standards,1 but integrating equipment systems has also emerged as a significant challenge. Since training methods are moving towards the conduct of joint operations or towards performing integrated training, it was not surprising that as early as 2014 the then Second Artillery Commander asked to implement Xi Jinping’s tasks of improving integrated and joint command (that is, robust, integrated, highly trained in responding to emergencies, and responsive command system).2 In particular, changes have been proposed as the Rocket Forces have also been plagued by invisible formalism (隐形的形式主义).3 It is clear that recent changes not only reflect the need for reform but cannot be only attributed to a strategy by Xi Jinping to increase his political control over the military.4
Importance of the Rocket Forces

India : US :: China : US – Cyber and Bilateral Visits

June 09, 2016

Cyber has been one of the key discussion items during both Prime Minister Modi’s just concluded visit to the United States and President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US some nine months back. After Xi’s visit, China and the US signed a Cyber Agreement in October 2015. India and the US will ink a cyber agreement in the next sixty days. Notwithstanding these similarities, the intent of and expectations from these two agreements are fundamentally different; the former is an attempt to manage insecurity and the latter is a quest for security. An analysis of the joint statements issued at the end of the Modi and Xi visits to the US highlights the contrasting differences in India and China’s bilateral ties with the United States in the cyber realm.
China : US - Cyber and State Visit

Xi Jinping’s state visit to the US took place in the shadow of a massive cyber-attack on the Office of Personnel Management (December 2014), which compromised the fingerprint records of 5.6 million people and Social Security numbers and addresses of around 21 million former and current government employees. 1 The US has been accusing China of theft of intellectual property targeted against its defence industries, private sector and key governmental functions; amounting to economic espionage. Accusations in this regard go back to 2004, when a series of coordinated attacks – dubbed as Titan Rain – targeted the computer networks of Lockheed Martin, Sandia National Laboratories, Redstone Arsenal, and NASA. Cyber espionage featured in every high-level talk and security report. The issue became more complex when the US Department of Justice indicted five officers of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) on the charges of hacking and economic espionage directed at US entities in the nuclear power, metals, and solar products sectors. This was the first time that the US judicial system had accused state actors of hacking and hurting the national interest in the cyber domain. 

Oil Politics: Saudi Arabia And Iran Take Opposite Positions On OPEC Oil Output Targets – OpEd

JUNE 13, 2016

Saudi Arabia and Iran, even while fighting each other for dominating the West Asia region, seem to have decided to take their fight forward regarding effecting changes in oil output targets.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is one of the forums where both could coordinate their action to stabilize West Asia. But unfortunately they continue to orchestrate their enmity even there. Tensions between the Sunni-led kingdom and the Shi’a Islamic Republic have been the highlights of several previous OPEC meetings, including in December 2015 when the group failed to agree on a formal output target for the first time in years. This time around, strains were less acute, however, as new Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih showed Riyadh wanted to be more conciliatory and his Iranian peer Bijan Zanganeh kept his criticism of Riyadh to an unusual minimum.

OPEC is pumping 32.5 million barrels per day (bpd), which would give Iran a quota of 4.7 million bpd – well above its current output of 3.8 million, according to Tehran’s estimates, and 3.5 million, based on market estimates.

Why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group

April 23, 2015

The expected growth of Islam around the world is perhaps the most striking finding in the recent Pew Research Center report projecting the future of religious groups. Indeed, Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2010 and 2050 and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group.

While the world’s population is projected to grow 35% in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 73% – from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.8 billion in 2050. In 2010, Muslims made up 23.2% of the global population. Four decades later, they are expected to make up about three-in-ten of the world’s people (29.7%).

By 2050, Muslims will be nearly as numerous as Christians, who are projected to remain the world’s largest religious group at 31.4% of the global population.

The main reasons for Islam’s growth ultimately involve simple demographics. To begin with, Muslims have more children than members of the seven other major religious groups analyzed in the study. Each Muslim woman has an average of 3.1 children, significantly above the next-highest group (Christians at 2.7) and the average of all non-Muslims (2.3). In all major regions where there is a sizable Muslim population, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility.

Mossad Mutates To Survive

Mossad Mutates To Survive

June 11, 2016

Since 2014 Israel’s main intelligence agency, Mossad (Hebrew for Institute) has been a lot more active in recruiting new agents. This is because the chaos following the 2011 Arab Spring plus the continuing threat from Iran and the radicalization of more Moslems in the West (where the left has declared Israel the “new Nazis” and actively support Islamic terrorist groups) has given Mossad more work. Not surprisingly Mossad has applied the imagination and inventiveness they practice in their work by developing new recruiting methods. Some of the new ideas are updated versions of that worked in the past. For example, during World War II Britain recruited suitable new intelligence operatives by posting word puzzles in newspapers and asked those who could solve them to send their answers to a seemingly non-government address. There was actually a series of puzzles and those who managed to decode them all were asked to join. Mossad recently used the same basic concept, with the puzzles revealing clues for what was described as a simulated espionage mission where the puzzles had to be correctly decoded and interpreted to advance. Those who completed all the puzzles were asked to apply for a job in Mossad. It was later revealed that many of those who completed the puzzle were not interested in a job in intelligence but just enjoyed solving puzzles. 

Mossad began the new recruiting effort with a series of impressively produced videos released in 2014 on their redesigned recruiting web site. The Mossad let be known that they needed all the highly talented recruits it could get to continue its work. Many Mossad victories are still classified, but they are known to have won many such classified (or little known) victories that have saved the lives of thousands of Israelis. Mossad admitted that this was done with a few carefully selected and intensively trained operatives. 

Ukraine, Unexpected


Andrew Wilson, The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 366 pp., $29.95.

Ukraine's political demagogues are squandering its benign strategic circumstances. They are doing neither well nor good for their unexpected country.

OF ALL the weak, corrupt, semi-independent semi-states that emerged, willingly or not, from the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine is both the most important and the most disappointing. It is also the most troubling, with the reckless waste and selfishness of the last decade bringing Ukrainians to compare their venal leaders to those of the Congo, and to charge them with undermining the very independence they were elected to preserve and enhance.
Belarus, with little tradition or history of independence from Moscow, is the most ludicrous of the successor states, unless one happens to be a Belarusian; the Baltic nations, moving with all the speed they could muster, have been the most successful. But from Georgia through the Caucasus and the five "stans", there is little to admire from those politicians who promised a free democratic future, with open markets and transparent justice, allied to the values of the West. Crippled and failing states litter the post-Soviet landscape. The preservation of independence itself, in the face of Russia's intermittent reach for renewed empire, has been their single great triumph. But they have had historically unusual help, for Russia itself has been hopelessly confused about what kind of state it wants to be, and within what borders. Luckily, Moscow's flickering ambitions have been restrained by poverty and weakness. But for how long?

Digint Narrative

How to define cyberwar

By Jed Babbin
June 8, 2016 


One of the things that keeps our intelligence and military leaders from sleeping soundly is the problem of cyberwar and its subsets, cyber-espionage, cybersabotage and what most people call “hacking,” which isn’t something that only teenagers do from their parents’ basements.

For years, there has been a continuous string of attempted penetrations of U.S. military, intelligence, defense contractor and related networks. It now occurs literally thousands of times a day. The Chinese “Titan Rain” computer attacks began in about 2003 and continued for at least three years, penetrating networks and stealing valuable defense secrets.

This kind of attack has at least two purposes. The first is espionage. Cyber-attacks — let’s not use the term “hacks” because the term sounds innocent — have penetrated unclassified Pentagon email systems. One attack, probably by China, reportedly succeeded in stealing all or part of the design for the F-35 fighter. Knowing what our intelligence community knows, without being detected, would be a huge advantage to any opponent (and even some friends).

The second is to disable or even take control of anything the attackers can penetrate. The computers in most cars can be penetrated and controlled so that the brakes can be jammed on or the engine turned off. So can power companies and everything else that is computer-controlled.

Bruce Schneier: governments have a 'stark' lack of expertise in IoT security

But government involvement in IoT policies is inevitable, says security expert

Governments lack the expertise to define security policy when it comes to the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT), according to Bruce Schneier, security technologist and a member of the Infosecurity Europe Hall of Fame.

Schneier explained that that governments approach topics such as the IoT and cyber security without the technical knowledge to understand the challenges.

“It’s surprising how stark the lack of expertise in tech is in these debates,” he said at Infosecurity Europe in London.

“Expertise in large correlation data bases, algorithmic decision making, IoT, cloud storage and computing, robotics, autonomous agents; these are all things that the government is going to run headlong into and needs to make decisions about.

“A lack of relevant expertise is really going to hurt us. There is a fundamental mismatch between the way government works and the way technology works.”

Yet despite this gap in expertise, Schneier warned that government involvement in cyber security is going to happen anyway.

“I think that more government involvement in cyber security is inevitable simply because the systems are more real. I think we are going to see more cyber war rhetoric, more cyber terrorism rhetoric, more calls for surveillance, more calls for use control, more trusting of the government,” he said.

“Governments are going to get involved regardless because the risks are too great. When people start dying and properties start being destroyed governments are going to have to do something.”

Indian CISOs need to build a wartime mindset towards security: Bryce Boland, CTO, FireEye

07 June 2016

In an interview with ETCIO.COM, Bryce Boland, CTO, APAC, FireEye discusses the types of threats that FireEye is seeing in India, factors that elevate vulnerability levels and best practices for the enterprise security landscape in India.

India is fast evolving into one of the most attractive targets for targeted threat actors globally. according to a recent survey by security firm, FireEye India has a threat exposure rate of 24% - compared to the global average of 15%. Indian organizations across the public and private sector are ill-equipped to detect, leave alone deal with, advanced cyber attacks.

In an interview with ETCIO.COM, Bryce Boland, CTO, APAC, FireEye discusses the types of threats that FireEye is seeing in India, factors that elevate vulnerability levels and best practices for the enterprise security landscape in India.

What is the reason behind the high threat exposure of Indian organizations? Can you state the factors that elevate vulnerability levels in India?

Hope is not an effective security strategy. Far too many businesses in India are hoping that their cyber security strategy is working - that's not a good strategy.

God forgives, would Google?

June 06, 2016

For the last couple of years, France has been fighting a ‘battle’ with a private enterprise that operates in the virtual world called Google, an American technology company with a global footprint specialising in Internet-related services and products. During the last week of May 2016, the French police raided Google’s Paris headquarters due to suspicions about tax evasion and money laundering. Google could be asked to pay around 10 million Euros in fine, if found guilty. 

In addition, the French government is also at loggerheads with Google over the issue of ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ or RTBF. Some French citizens want some information available about them in the Internet to be expunged. This particular issue has global relevance because it is not only about French or European citizens having the right to be forgotten in the cyber world, but also about people in the rest of the world. In March 2016, French authorities have given a decision against Google in this regard and imposed a fine of 100,000 Euros for the company’s failure to remove ‘right-to-be-forgotten’ requests from its global search results. This fine is minuscule: probably Google makes that amount of money every hour; some say the amount is equivalent to less than what Google generates in sales in 10 minutes (Google approximately earns around USD 75 billion a year). Yet, a few days ago, Google took this fight against France’s privacy watchdog to the country’s highest administrative court. Google contends that it is in full compliance with the laws of countries in which it operates and does not want those laws to force it to decide its global business strategies. What France is asking is to delete the links (which are to be forgotten) globally. But Google is refusing to delete links globally because it would indirectly indicate that French law applies throughout the world. Google fears that if it complies with the French demand then many other states could start insisting that their laws regulating information also have a global reach.

Carter’s new ‘Force of the Future’ tweaks current personnel policy, but no more. Let’s just hope we don’t have to mobilize.

June 10, 2016 

Best Defense task for chief for DoD personnel policy

The Force of the Future announcements made Thursday by SecDef Carter — and, if I understand it correctly, the entire Force of the Future initiative — are more significant for the assumptions that underlie them rather than for what they propose to do.

Force of the Future is basically the Force of the Present, tweaked a little bit to make it work better. It emphasizes current force capability, almost to the exclusion of any mobilization capacity. It assumes that future wars will be like the ones we fought from 2001 to 2014 (of course, we’re still doing things in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the numbers of U.S. military personnel involved is quite small). That is, Iraq and Afghanistan, as COIN/irregular warfare/synonym of the month, were almost entirely low-intensity, small-unit, and (thankfully) low casualty-rate conflicts. Because we were fighting among the people, highly experienced cadres were needed to minimize the potential for abuses against the local population that can result from troops’ frustration with the ambiguities of a guerrilla conflict. Ditto for continuing to emphasize high quality rather than quantity of manpower. Indirect fire and close air support were of course employed by our forces, but at a much lower rate and intensity of fire than would be the case in a conventional war, or even a hybrid one involving substantial COIN as well as conventional elements. Most of this, I realize, applied to ground forces. OIF and OEF (and their various acronymic follow-ons) were ground-force heavy wars. We faced few threats to command of the sea and the air, which made the absolutely essential tasks of the Navy and Air Force infinitely easier than they might otherwise have been. The programs Secretary Carter enumerated will support these kinds of things.

As with the previous Force of the Future specifics announced earlier, such as family-related matters, there is an overwhelming emphasis on career retention and increasing the experience level in the force. There’s a tacit belief that the more the military services moves in the direction of career flexibility, and equally flexible and changeable compensation and benefits — that is, making a military career more like a civilian one — the better off the services will be.

Reflections on Mentoring and #Leadership

The U.S. Armed Forces are in for lean times ahead. Budget cuts, continuing operational demands, and ongoing attempts to re-learn the core competencies of conventional warfare will all come together to make resources scarce. Unit-level leader development efforts will have to function with minimal outside resources and assistance; even the minimal assistance higher echelons provided in the past is likely to look luxurious by comparison. At the same time, we should view this period as an opportunity to re-embrace some skills we’ve allowed to atrophy - or at least lay fallow - over the last decade of intense operational activity. The deliberate practice of professional mentoring is one of these skills that, if thoughtfully applied, can pay great dividends for military leaders in the immediate future.

A word about terminology is important here. The term mentoring gets misused a great deal, both in military and civilian professional circles.[1] A simple definition is a voluntary and mutual developmental relationship between persons of differing experience. Voluntary and mutual are critical aspects of mentoring, primarily because those two characteristics carry a sense of trust and respect between two individuals that isn’t necessarily present in other developmental processes. Anytime someone talks about having a mentor “appointed” to them, you can safely assume that while there may be a developmental benefit, the relationship is not a mentoring one. The differing experience aspect is vital simply because it drives the imperative for learning; without differing levels of experience, a mentoring relationship is nothing more than a friendship.

Sometimes, There Is a Military Solution

June 10, 2016 

Miltary means alone aren't sufficient to stabilize the Middle East, but sometimes they're necessary.

Since 9/11, the United States has undertaken two major and one significant but much smaller military interventions that resulted in regime change: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In each case, postwar planning and execution proved inadequate. The high costs and outcomes that fell short of our aspirations have produced a backlash against state- and nation-building, and, more generally, against the entanglement of U.S. military forces in local and regional conflicts particularly for protracted periods of time.

The notion, however, that there is “no military solution” to the civil conflicts raging around the world cannot form the basis of policy or strategic planning. The enduring problems of regional rivalry, sectarian conflict, and state collapse—and the associated threat of extremism and terror—pose some of the most difficult and immediate challenges facing the United States. Solutions cannot be achieved solely by military means, but they also cannot be addressed through diplomacy alone.

The key is to find ways of carrying out effective political and military strategies—and this will often require state and nation-building in order to solve an underlying strategic problem. No doubt we will strive to avoid state- and nation-building of the magnitude of Iraq and Afghanistan—particularly doing two large ones nearly simultaneously. Therefore, it is important to learn lessons from recent interventions to avoid or minimize the mistakes made and to address the shortcomings. Also, these lessons should be taken into account in decisions about the military and diplomatic capabilities and skills that should be retained. Because of the risks that are incurred in state and nation-building, we will throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Being a Go-Getter Is No Fun

May 22, 2015 

New research suggests that competent employees are assigned more work—but they don't always like it.
The phrase “shit hits the fan” has uncertain origins. Some claim it’s a descendant of a World War II adage “the garbage hit the fan.” As the Online Etymology Dictionary has it, it derives from an old poop joke. The Yale Book of Quotations doesn’t have a say on the phrase at all (though “shit happens” is attributed to Connie Eble of Chapel Hill).

In any case, people have probably heard the phrase in reference to something gone awry at work or in life. In either setting, when the shit does hit the fan, people will tend to look to the most competent person in the room to take over.

And too bad for that person. A new paper by a team of researchers from Duke University, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado looks at not only how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers, but how those people feel when, at crucial moments, everyone turns to them. They find that responsible employees are not terribly pleased about this dynamic either.To begin, the researchers began by establishing that people do, in fact, assign more tasks to those they perceived as more competent. In a survey, participants read statements about a fictional employee “Sam”—different groups read different statements about Sam indicating how much self-control he had (self-control was used as a proxy for competence). When Sam was presented as someone with great self-control, participants expected much more of Sam’s performance at his manufacturing job. In a separate experiment, undergrads were asked to delegate essays for proofreading to other students with varying levels of self-control. Unsurprisingly those with more self-control ended up with more work assigned to them.