25 June 2016

*** Strategic Reversal in Afghanistan

Author: Seth G. Jones, Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation

PublisherCouncil on Foreign Relations Press


Since 2001, the United States and its international partners have expended substantial resources to secure, stabilize, and rebuild Afghanistan. Recent developments, however, indicate that progress toward these strategic goals is slipping. The Taliban has seized swaths of rural Afghanistan in such provinces as Helmand, Uruzgan, Nangarhar, and Kunduz. Over the past year, Taliban forces have also conducted several offensives against district and provincial capitals. In September 2015, for example, the northern city of Kunduz temporarily fell to the Taliban before being retaken by government forces. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of the National Unity Government continues to be undermined by poor governance and internal friction between President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah, and their supporters. A significant worsening of the political and security situations in Afghanistan over the next twelve to eighteen months is therefore plausible. More specifically, there is a growing risk that the current National Unity Government in Kabul could collapse because of a defection by Abdullah, a severe economic crisis, the establishment of a parallel government, or a coup d’état. There is also a growing possibility that the Taliban could gain substantial territory in one or more cities. These contingencies would amount to a strategic reversal for the United States, since Washington was instrumental in helping create the National Unity Government in 2014. These developments would also likely increase the presence of Islamic extremist groups, including al-Qaeda, and intensify security competition between such regional powers as nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
The Contingencies

** What Borders Mean to Europe

JUNE 23, 2015 

Europe today is a continent of borders. The second-smallest continent in the world has more than 50 distinct, sovereign nation-states. Many of these are part of the European Union. At the core of the EU project is an effort to reduce the power and significance of these borders without actually abolishing them — in theory, an achievable goal. But history is not kind to theoretical solutions.

Today, Europe faces three converging crises that are ultimately about national borders, what they mean and who controls them. These crises appear distinct: Immigration from the Islamic world, the Greek economic predicament, and the conflict in Ukraine would seem to have little to do with each other. But in fact they all derive, in different ways, from the question of what borders mean.

Europe's borders have been the foundation of both its political morality and its historical catastrophes. The European Enlightenment argued against multinational monarchies and for sovereign nation-states, which were understood to be the territories in which nations existed. Nations came to be defined as groupings of humans who shared a common history, language, set of values and religion — in short, a common culture into which they were born. These groups had the right of national self-determination, the authority to determine their style of government and the people who governed. Above all, these nations lived in a place, and that place had clear boundaries.

** India and the Challenge of Autonomous Weapons


June 22, 2016 

The introduction of autonomous weapons will profoundly change the nature of war and will also affect the understanding of laws of war. India is uniquely placed to take a lead in the global discussion about this issue.

R. Shashank Reddy

R. Shashank Reddy is a research assistant at Carnegie India. He is a graduate of the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. His research interests include Indian foreign policy, new technologies, artificial intelligence, and domestic technology regulations.
The introduction of autonomous weapons will profoundly change the nature of war and will also affect the understanding of laws of war. A small but fierce international debate has started over the legality and use of such weapons. India is uniquely placed to take a lead in the global discussion about this issue. India should view development and deployment of autonomous weapons through the prism of its security needs and national interests.

The Emerging Debate

A number of parties, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Pakistan, have called for a preemptive ban on the development of autonomous weapon systems. They argue that these systems would be unable to adhere to the current laws of war and that it is unclear who would be liable in the case of wrongful death of civilians, for example.
Other parties, such as the U.S. Air Force, have argued that autonomous weapons have benefits, including reducing casualties and improving efficiency in defensive capabilities.
Autonomous weapons may help India undertake certain tasks with minimal human loss and in a more effective manner. The country faces threats from both states and nonstate actors, and a substantial portion of its international borders consist of rugged terrain. Unmanned systems could be more effective in such areas.

Indigenous development of autonomous weapons could boost India’s domestic arms industry and export potential.

Next Steps for India

The Unending India-China Dance

By Bhaskar Roy
24 Jun , 2016

India-China relations have come a long way since the 1962 border war, mostly in the positive direction. India has over 4000 Kilometre long border with China, but Beijing maintains it is much shorter because it does not accept India’s territorial claims and sovereignty on sections of the border. 

Neither India nor China can wish each other away. As the two countries continue to rise, with China still ahead of India the gap is slowly narrowing but problems instead of receding are multiplying.

For India, the China policy is not a zero sum game. Successive Indian Prime Ministers have proved it and Prime Minister Modi has done so most emphatically. Mr. Modi’s policy is not to counter China but to promote a shared vision of mutual benefit and developing together. Indian governments, including the present Modi government, have tried to ensure that China is not rubbed the wrong way. In fact, India can be faulted for conceding too much at times.

India’s efforts have been to try and build trust. But trust must be verifiable, not built on thin air. There is a huge problem here.

One would dare say that there is a lack of understanding in the Indian establishment dedicated to China policy, of understanding the Chinese mind and interpreting what the Chinese say and what the Chinese media writes.

Stemming the Rot of Self Inflicted Injuries in the Military

By Brig Deepak Sinha
24 Jun , 2016

Self- inflicted injury, by its very nature and motivation, is considered abhorrent within military circles and dealt with quite harshly, not just in our military but also by other militaries around the world, especially when it impacts ongoing operations or existing operational capabilities. While such opprobrium is understandable, there is a need to differentiate between the actions of an individual soldier and that of military commanders, whose decisions may lead to deleterious consequences in the future, whatever their immediate motivation for taking it. Invariably those in the latter category tend to get away under most circumstances though it is they who are responsible for causing more long term damage.

…on numerous occasions militants have been able to escape after being located by Security Forces because of intervention by the local populace…

One may recall that at the time of the elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, an incident occurred at Chattergam in the Kashmir Valley in which two teenagers were tragically killed by the Army. They died when the car they were in refused to halt at a vehicle check post established by an army unit, which engaged them and forced the car to stop. Subsequently, nine personnel of the unit involved were indicted and both the Army Commander of Northern Command and the Corps Commander in the Valley went on record to state that there had been a failure of command and the troops involved had overstepped their brief. Undoubtedly such a firm indictment must have been arrived at based on facts that were never placed in public domain. However, suspicions remained that the actions initiated by the commanders were more likely at the behest of Mr. Modi, who had just come into power and had made some adverse observations on the incident, despite investigations being in progress at that time.

“Our vision in next 10 years is to become top defence industry in the world...” – Baba Kalyani

By Danvir Singh
24 Jun , 2016

The Defence Expo 2016, held at Goa; a maiden attempt to get the world to see a different destination rather differently. Goa is famous for its sea beeches, sun and sand. Every year lakhs of tourists both domestic and foreign throng the state in the season extending from October to April.

Getting on to the serious business of defence in Goa, was not an easy task as per the Defence Minister, Mr Manohar Parikar. He added that, there was a huge opposition to this initiative initially, but was overcome by winning over the locals.

The Venue for Def-Expo 16 was prepared in a record time frame of 18 days. Speaking to the French and American exhibitors, we learnt that there were apprehensions in their minds initially. However, they were impressed by the setup and infrastructure created. Over a thousand companies participated in the Def Expo 2016. By any international standards Def-Expo 16, can be termed as a success out rightly, contrary to some claims otherwise.

The Russians came in full force but did not appear to have attracted the servicemen and others, as much like the Americans, French and the Israelis did. But the most exciting part of the excitement was presented by the Indian companies.

How pay, pensions and sloth eat up India's defence funds

Jun 21, 2016

(Representative image) The third largest wing of the army accounted for about 1 lakh, or 10 per cent of combatants, and employed about 15,000 civilians at the time of the study.
Defence auditor has repeatedly found that revenue component of defence budget accounts for wasteful expenditure due to outdated processes, lackadaisical mindset. 

The tail that wags the dog 
Despite multiple reports warning of wasteful revenue expenditure crowding out capital spends, little has been done to correct the imbalance in India's stressed defence budget 

AK Saxena spent most of May 30, his last day in office, writing letters. Saxena, who retired as Additional Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) on that day after 33 years of service, wrote letters to the prime minister, defence minister, finance minister and a slew of other top functionaries in the government lamenting the state of affairs in the country's defence establishment. He pointed out that widespread mismanagement, wasteful expenditure and lack of transparency is eating away large amounts of public money allocated to defence annually. 

In his letters, Saxena said that he had submitted some 20 system studies over the past seven years. "The findings and recommendations contained in all these studies have huge potential to achieve economy, efficiency and effectiveness worth several lakhs of crores of rupees," he wrote, adding no action had been taken on them. 

Dear Mr Parrikar, Do Visit Military Training Centres To See Raw Recruits Become Soldiers

June 20,2016

Dear Shri Parrikar, 

It was good to see your photographs interacting with air force pilots under training, in both the print and electronic media; launching the new Trainer HTT 40; and testing the ergonomics of the pilot’s seats in the Trainers! 

It is this news report that set me thinking about your visits to various military units and formations. I was a little perturbed to note that you seem to have neglected visiting units and formations of the army, possibly because the army modernisation continues to languish and hence there is limited scope of inaugurating anything new, for the equipment currently in service was introduced decades back and needs no inauguration in its present state of obsolescence! 

In your nearly two years in office as the Raksha Mantri of our nation, you have interacted with the navy, the air force, as also on a few occasions with the army, in that order, usually at rarefied levels. You have sailed in naval ships, including an aircraft carrier; had ‘a day at sea’ as the navy loves to call it; and have visited at least one submarine. This is good, as a defence minister should make as many visits as he can to units and formations of the field force, instead of only listening to the MoD bureaucrats and ordering committees, whose reports are rarely acted upon. Such visits also add to your image, which is oxygen for all political leaders, especially with photo-ops appearing in the media! 

The Rajan syndrome

June 23, 2016

The outrage following Raghuram Rajan’s decision to leave the RBI in September reflects the degree to which India’s politicians have turned civil servants into note-takers

These are exciting times — and not just for economists. Raghuram Rajan is just governor of the Reserve Bank of India — a satrap sent by the Badshahi of Delhi to rule a colony on the western seashore. It has been doing this for 80 years. Getting rid of a minion, putting another in his place — this game of patronage is being played all the time. There are governors for 29 States and seven Union Territories as well, most of them men and women of little distinction; they are installed in ornate mansions and then removed every once in a while, and no one gives it a thought. This governor, perched in a skyscraper looking out on the Bombay harbour, he has not even been dismissed. All he has said is that he does not want to be reappointed. The entire media have gone crazy about his self-abnegation.

Why the grief?

The other remarkable fact about this incident is the sympathy this man has evoked in the media. Suppose Deepika Padukone declared tomorrow that she was retreating to Madeira to grow camellias; many might like to join her, but I am not sure there would be such lamentation. Mr. Rajan is going to retreat to the shores of Lake Michigan to grow ideas. It is an enviable life for an economist; no one need feel sorry for him. True, Mr. Rajan looks enviably winsome; I do not think anyone else in the government comes anywhere near him. But that is not the reason behind the outbreak of grief; it is that he is by common consensus the best man for the job, and even people who never gave a thought to the exchange rate think that it is a bad idea that he should have been eased out in such an unceremonious manner.

Resolving Pakistan-Afghanistan Conflict – OpEd

JUNE 23, 2016

Afghanistan started a new era of relationship with Pakistan after the appointment of Hamid Karzai as the new president of the country and the fall of Taliban government. Now there is a new president and a ruling junta that does not consider Pakistan as a friend. The situation has lately gotten even more precarious after an exchange of fire in which people from both sides if the border were killed.

One of the prime reasons for Afghan hostilities was the construction of a gate at the Torkham border. Ironically, Karzai’s allegation that Pakistan does not want good relations between India and Afghanistan and wants ‘no bilateral trade and no access to Central Asia for India’ sounds completely illogical.

Historically, Pakistan has offered transit trade facility to landlocked Afghanistan. The situation is likely to change to some extent after the construction of the Chabahar port in Iran by India, which offers an alternate route to Central Asian countries through Afghanistan. Now, there remains no binding force on Afghanistan to use Pakistan’s ports, road and railway links. It is at liberty to undertake its international trade through Chabahar.

Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2016

Created by Bill Roggio 

Since 2004, the US has been conducting a covert program to target and kill al Qaeda and Taliban commanders based in Pakistan’s lawless northwest. The program has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda’s external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states. 

The charts below look at the following: 1) the number of US airstrikes inside Pakistan per year; 2) civilian casualties vs. Taliban/al Qaeda casualties; 3) the distribution of strikes over time by tribal agencies; 4) the overall distribution of strikes, by tribal agencies; 5) the distribution of strikes over time by territories targeted; 6) the overall distribution of strikes, by territories targeted; and 7) the number of high value targets killed in territories managed by individual Taliban commanders. 

The data is obtained from press reports from the Pakistani press (Daily Times, Dawn, Geo News, The News, and other outlets), as well as wire reports (AFP, Reuters, etc.), as well as reporting from The Long War Journal. Given the Taliban’s control of the areas where strikes occur, and a dearth of reporters in those areas, the exact numbers for casualties are difficult to know. The numbers below are estimates based on press reporting. 

For a list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders thought to have been killed in the attacks, see LWJ report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan 2004 – 2015

Why Are U.S. Navy Jamming Jets in The Philippines?


As Chinese forces have become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, the U.S. military has responded by sending more of its own warships and warplanes to the region. Now, U.S. Navy jamming jets are in The Philippines for a training mission that will make a statement to Beijing.

On June 15, 2016, four EA-18G Growlers from Electronic Attack Squadron 138 — having flown from their base in Washington state by way of Guam — touched down at Clark Air Base. The Americans will train with Philippine Air Force pilots.

“The temporary deployment … is another example of sending our most capable, advanced units to the Indo-Asia-Pacific on behalf of regional security and stability,” Navy lieutenant Clint Ramsden, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii, told War Is Boring via email.

“Our operations are not directed toward any particular nation or military, but are designed to demonstrate our commitment to allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” Ramsden stressed.

Our China policy stumbles into cul-de-sac

The frantic diplomatic bid by India to secure membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group – with both our honourable president and honourable prime minister throwing their hats into the ring as crisis managers – is turning out to be a morality play. Today’s remarks by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson must come as a reality check to the South Block, especially External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. (Hindu)

Equally, the Chinese daily Global Times has written not less than three op-eds in the past one week period alone, alerting New Delhi that it is totally misreading the situation. (here, here and here)

The government has only itself to blame if South Block was living in a fool’s paradise as recently as two weeks ago. (See my article in Rediff.com titled India’s NSG debate: No more spin, please)

How come such delusionary assessment of the lay of the diplomatic arena? The answer is simple – the “unipolar predicament” that some of our policymakers suffer from inhibit them from making rational judgment. Our strategists have been pursuing a US-centric foreign policy predicated on the funny notion that Washington is committed to make India a great power. Whereas, the NSG issue exposes that the US, although still a superpower, lacks any such divine powers in the contemporary world situation, as our strategists naively presupposed.

Orlando Massacre And US Foreign Policy – OpEd

JUNE 23, 2016
On June 12, 2016 Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before being killed by police himself. Those are the simple facts of the case. Press coverage in the aftermath has been predictably overheated but rarely enlightening. The torrent of information makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction or to analyze events in any meaningful way. The most important points about Mateen have been obscured because the truth is inconvenient to the government and to its allies in corporate media.

Mateen was motivated by anger over United States imperialism and probably hatred of the LGBTQ clientele of the club. He was also among the population of insane people who found a time and place to act out his obsessions. Mateen was the American born son of immigrants from Afghanistan. He had a troubled personal history including acts of domestic violence and a multitude of threats made against other people. Those threats were frequent and disturbing enough to cause the FBI to interview him twice in recent years.

Mateen made several 911 calls during the attack and claimed to be acting in the name of Islam. FBIredaction obscures some of what he said, but he did invoke Islamic resistance to the United States and demanded that it cease bombing Iraq and Syria.

His father, Seddique Mateen, had his own delusions of grandeur, among other things claiming to be the president of Afghanistan in exile. Media reported that the elder Mateen expressed support for the Taliban without mentioning that the United States government once supported the Taliban with arms and money.

OIR General Says Coalition Pressure Causing Islamic State’s ‘Caliphate’ To Unravel

By Terri Moon Cronk
JUNE 24, 2016

A New Zealand soldier, left, advises an Iraqi soldier adjusting his rifle’s sights at Camp Taji, Iraq, June 7, 2016. Increased training for Iraqi police officers will add to the existing 23,000 trained Iraqi forces, and training will soon expand to the Iraq border security force, British army Maj. Gen. Doug Chalmers, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve deputy commander for strategy and sustainment, told the Pentagon press corps, today. Army photo by Spc. Jessica Hurst

The significantly increased pressure that US-led coalition and local forces are putting on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s fighters is causing the terrorist group’s “caliphate” to unravel and crumble, a senior Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve official told reporters Thursday.

Via teleconference from Baghdad, British army Maj. Gen. Doug Chalmers, deputy commander for strategy and sustainment, updated the Pentagon reporters on the campaign to defeat ISIL.
Harnessing Coalition Power

How Do You Stop a Future Terrorist When the Only Evidence Is a Thought?

JUNE 21, 2016

French soldiers on patrol in Paris in January. For France, a nation that has one of the largest numbers of citizens fighting for the Islamic State, the caseload of potential jihadists to monitor is becoming unmanageable. CreditDmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

MAGNANVILLE, France — The first time Larossi Abballa appeared on the radar of French terrorism investigators, the only act of violence they could pin on him was killing bunnies.

He had joined a small group of men, all bent on waging jihad, on a trip to a snowy forest in northern France five years ago, when he was 19. There, they videotaped themselves slaughtering the rabbits, bought so the men could grow used to the feel of killing.

When he and seven others were later arrested, the authorities found that several of the men had saved the video of the slaughter on their cellphones, alongside footage of soldiers being beheaded, according to French court records. Mr. Abballa was eventually convicted on a terrorism charge and spent more than two years in prison.

Finding Clarity in a Middle East Unbalanced

http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=63791INTISSAR FAKIRSada launches its first eBook, a collection of essays that explores the region’s deep political changes since the Arab uprisings.Monday, June 13, 2016 عربي Comments (5)

In 2011, the political trajectories of many Arab states appeared to converge as protesters across the region revolted against corruption and authoritarianism, demanding dignity and acknowledgement of their basic rights. Yet since that time five years ago, not only has the optimism of the moment faded, but post-revolutionary Arab states have proceeded along diverse paths. This has brought—in varying forms—chaos, unpredictability, stagnation, and perhaps progress. These divergences present challenges for governments, political parties, the private sector, and civil society in the Middle East, as well as for policymakers in the West. With few common themes across the region and little predictability, analytical insights can become outdated quickly and even short-term planning risks being irrelevant. 

With this in mind, rather than trying to produce an analysis of how regional events are a part of a coherent narrative, it is perhaps more useful to focus on the individual circumstances of post-2011 Arab states. To that end, Sada’s first eBook, The Middle East Unbalanced, draws on the extensive research and fieldwork of young authors with connections to the region to provide unique insights into a breadth of challenges and issues in an array of Arab countries.

Whitewashing Islamist Terror

by Tarek Fatah
June 20, 2016

Originally published under the title "West Bowing to Radical Islam."

Almost 10 years ago, Maclean'smagazine published an essay by Mark Steyn, titled "The future belongs to Islam." In it, he suggested, "the West is growing old and enfeebled, and lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it."

It was an extract from Steyn's then best-selling book America Alone, where he concluded, "It's the end of the world as we've known it." Steyn wrote:

We are witnessing the end of the late 20th-century progressive welfare democracy. The children and grandchildren of those fascists and republicans who waged a bitter civil war for the future of Spain now shrug when a bunch of foreigners blow up their capital. Too sedated even to sue for terms, they capitulate instantly.

There was an outcry among Canada's Islamists, who took Steyn and Maclean's to the Ontario and British Columbia Human Rights Commissions. My fellow Sun columnist, Farzana Hassan, and I wrote a rejoinder in Maclean's titled, "Mark Steyn has a right to be wrong."

Today, I recognize, Steyn was right and I was wrong.

Iraq’s Flawed Liberation of Fallujah

Anthony E. Deane
June 22, 2016

Clinton Foundation Said to Be Breached by Russian Hackers

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation was among the organizations breached by suspected Russian hackers in a dragnet of the U.S. political apparatus ahead of the November election, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The attacks on the foundation’s network, as well as those of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, compound concerns about her digital security even as the FBI continues to investigate her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

Clinton Foundation officials said the organization hadn’t been notified of the breach and declined to comment further. The compromise of the foundation’s computers was first identified by government investigators as recently as last week, the people familiar with the matter said. Agents monitor servers used by hackers to communicate with their targets, giving them a back channel view of attacks, often even before the victims detect them.

Before the Democratic National Committee disclosed a major computer breach last week, U.S. officials informed both political parties and the presidential campaigns of Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders that sophisticated hackers were attempting to penetrate their computers, according to a person familiar with the government investigation into the attacks.

Long Nuclear Shadow Could Revive Calls For Abolition – Analysis

By Bennett Ramberg*
JUNE 23, 2016
The 70-year-old Baruch Plan to eliminate nuclear weapons could prevent another arms race.

Seventy years ago this month the United States placed on the global agenda a proposal that would have eliminated nuclear weapons for all time. Drawing on the US State Department’s Acheson-Lilienthal scientific advisory study, the Truman administration turned to the long-time confidant of presidents, Bernard Baruch, to craft a proposal for global action.

In June 1946, Baruch appeared before the newly constituted UN Atomic Energy Commission to present the nuclear abolition plan that would come to bear his name. He called for establishment of an International Atomic Development Authority that would retain “managerial control or ownership of all atomic energy potentially dangerous to world security,” eliminate weapons manufacturing and dispose of all existing bombs while asserting “power to control, inspect, license all other atomic activities” coupled with assured enforcement. Had Cold War politics not intervened – Stalin pressed his scientists to build a competitive Soviet bomb as rapidly as possible – the nuclear Damocles Sword that’s hung over the world ever since might have been avoided.

Marking this anniversary prompts the question whether there still might be a place for a Baruch Plan. President Barack Obama still calls for a world without nuclear weapons and was eloquent in his May 27 speech in Hiroshima. Conceding that nuclear abolition might not be achieved in his lifetime, Obama entreated “we must have courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”


JUNE 22, 2016

As War on the Rocks readers are no doubt aware, Britons go to the polls tomorrow in a national referendum to decide whether the country ought to remain a member of the European Union or leave. The situation is, to put it mildly, confused and extremely strained. No major country has left the European Union before so no one really understands how a vote to leave — a “Brexit” — would in practice play out. On the other hand, the European Union itself is changing, profoundly, becoming in all likelihood a United States of Europe — as it must if it has any chance of saving itself from its current otherwise unarrestable economic decline and associated political turmoil. As best as anyone can tell from opinion polls, the country is more or less evenly split.

On the “Remain” side there is essentially very little passion, instead there is a sort of weary realist this-is-the-best-we-can-ever-get-ism — my friend Patrick Porter, for instance, has managed a “reluctant case for Brexit.” In a nutshell, he says, despite the European Union being objectionable in many ways, we cannot leave for several reasons. We will be poorer as a result, partly because the rump European Union would seek to punish the United Kingdom.It might split the country too because Scotland, which is more Europhile than England and has a strong separatist minority, would seize the opportunity to hold its own independence referendum. Moreover, Europe needs Britain inside in order to reform it and to curb the worst instincts of the continental elite.

OSCE Surveillance Drones Find Russian Electronic Warfare Sites Inside the Ukraine

June 21, 2016

OSCE spots Russian electronic warfare stations in Donbas

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has located Russian stations of electronic warfare in the Donbas combat zone in the eastern part of the country. The high-tech jamming equipment has been spotted by drones 15 kilometres from Donetsk.

In a tweet, the mission stated impediments to its work “must stop.”

The stations R-330ZH Zhitel were located on June 14. These are jamming communication stations in service with the Russian army. It is designed to detect, analyze, and jam satellite and cellular phone communication systems.

Securely Resetting Passwords

JUNE 24, 2016

The number of passwords that each of us has to memorize is continuously on the increase. A password is easily forgotten. But watch out: if a new password is generated after the old one was lost, the information might be intercepted by third parties.

On the whole, losing a password is not a great problem: the Internet user will be sent a new one by email, or he will have to provide a correct answer to a security question to be assigned a new password.

Both methods have certain drawbacks, as Prof Dr Markus Dürmuth, Head of the research group Mobile Security at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), elaborates: “Emails are usually not encrypted and can be easily intercepted. Whereas correct answers to security questions can be guessed with a bit of luck and some research.”
Not discernible at first glance

Together with colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique (INRIA), Grenoble, Dürmuth has developed an alternative to the methods described above. To this end, they use so-called Mooney images. This term refers to black-and-white images that were edited using a special filter.

Information is Power.

Mohan Guruswamy
22 June 2016

In the dictionary, snooping is defined as “to investigate or look around furtively in an attempt to find out something, especially information about someone's private affairs. The word itself derives from the Dutch snoepen, which literally means "to eat furtively."

In common parlance it is intelligence gathering or spying by prying. Wiretaps or eavesdropping on telephone conversations or data transmissions are just a means for gathering information about a real or potential adversary or competitor. In a world where information is power, snooping is quite generic and even friends are not exempted.

The CIA was discovered to be listening in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel among other heads of allied governments. Ironically, when the proposal to set up a departmental intelligence service was first mooted in the USA, the then Secretary of State Henry Stimson, dismissed it with a minute “gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” But soon the World War 2 was overhead and the US set up a dedicated intelligence service, the OSS, the forerunner to the CIA.. Obviously Herr Hitler was not considered a gentleman.

Snooping on other nations is now considered a fairly honorable and glorified profession, with intelligence officers and spymasters projecting a certain cachet of adventure and power. However honorable it may be, spying is nevertheless illegal and even allies do not merit exemption. Take the case of Jonathan Pollard who was apprehended in 1987 while serving at the US Navy’s Center for Naval Analyses, passing on classified information to its closest ally, Israel. Pollard, a contemporary at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, is still in a US jail and despite repeated Israeli entreaties. The lessons of history are clear. Spy or snoop by all means, but don’t get caught. The law is clear. You get caught, you get punished.

Russian Hackers Breach Clinton Foundation Computers

June 22, 2016

Clinton Foundation Said to Be Breached by Russian Hackers

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation was among the organizations breached by suspected Russian hackers in a dragnet of the U.S. political apparatus ahead of the November election, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The attacks on the foundation’s network, as well as those of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, compound concerns about her digital security even as the FBI continues to investigate her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

Clinton Foundation officials said the organization hadn’t been notified of the breach and declined to comment further. The compromise of the foundation’s computers was first identified by government investigators as recently as last week, the people familiar with the matter said. Agents monitor servers used by hackers to communicate with their targets, giving them a back channel view of attacks, often even before the victims detect them.

Before the Democratic National Committee disclosed a major computer breach last week, U.S. officials informed both political parties and the presidential campaigns of Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders that sophisticated hackers were attempting to penetrate their computers, according to a person familiar with the government investigation into the attacks.

Palantir Technologies Going to Court Against the U.S. Army Over Troubled DCGS-A Intel Processing System

Jen Judson
June 21, 2016

Palantir Unleashes Its Lawyers Over US Army’s Intelligence Software

WASHINGTON — Silicon Valley data-integration company Palantir, which has thus far let others do the talking in the fight over the US Army’s planned intelligence software suite against the company’s own product, is putting itself directly into the center of the fray.

The company is breaking its relative silence and has decided to file a protest in the US Court of Federal Claims after losing a case last month that it filed with the Government Accountability Office over the Army’s acquisition plans for the second increment of its Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A).

According to a letter of intent sent to US Army Contracting Command on June 16 from the law firm representing Palantir in the case — Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP, in Washington — a protest will be filed within “approximately the next week.”

The company is aiming for a preliminary injunction, which, if granted by a judge, would require the Army to stop efforts within the program, including awarding a contract for DCGS-A Increment 2.

In the letter, Palantir’s lawyers call the Army’s acquisition efforts for DCGS-A Increment 1 and Increment 2 both illegal and irrational.

The Left's PC Hypocrisy on Islam

June 21, 2016

Partisans of the Left compulsively claim President George W. Bush was an imbecile who couldn’t be trusted on anything. If they’re right, all of us must reflexively and wholly refute every statement he ever made. It would seem very reasonable, then, to first dispense with a sweeping pronouncement on one of the most pressing and thorny issues of modern times, an issue that obviously no Texan troglodyte could hope to grasp: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.” Those words were spoken by America’s forty-third commander-in-chief at the Islamic Center of Washington, DC, just six days after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Lo and behold, if there’s one thing that Bush clearly shares in common with his renowned ideological rivals—Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden—it’s an obstinate belief that the religion of Islam has nothing to do with violence. Obama has defended “the true peaceful nature of Islam.” Clinton hastweeted, “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” And Biden, after listening to activist, author and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali discuss the relationship between ISIS and Islam, reportedly retorted, “Let me tell you one or two things about Islam.”

Don't Send U.S. Troops to Bail Out Allies That Won't Defend Themselves

June 22, 2016 

Americans should deliver salvation, not buy time for others with their blood.

On June 30, 1950, following the North Korean invasion of South Korea, an ad hoc U.S. Army unit was assembled in Japan, thrown on whatever aircraft was available and sent to delay North Korea’s army long enough for a more robust American force to Pusan. This well-led but poorly equipped and inadequately trained group of about 500 American soldiers, Task Force Smith, hastily occupied a hilly area near Osan, covering the North Korean’s approach and were pushed aside by columns of North Korean tanks and infantry. After multiple failures to destroy the enemy tanks with obsolete bazookas, and under effective enemy machine gun, mortar and artillery fire, the groupwithdrew in disarray. They suffered sixty dead, twenty-one wounded and eighty-two captured, several of whom were executed. This vignette of the Battle of Osan has been used for decades by the U.S. Army to remind its leaders of their obligation to never send unprepared troops into combat.

Speedbumps are meant to be run over without completely stopping, and it is as true on asphalt as it is in warfare. The mission to delay is contained under theframework of retrograde operations alongside withdrawal and retirement. All three are necessary to prepare for, however none should ever form the basis of an American security posture overseas, much less constitute the first operation of any planned use of American forces. However, the National Commission on the Future of the Army, along with a large body of contemporary analysts are proposing just that.

Air Power Is Unlikely to Solve America’s Problems

JUNE 21, 2016 

Despite the sorry results delivered by air power over the last 65 years, the US military continues to invest heavily in it.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses the US troops at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey. (AP Photo) 

In the era of the long “war on terror,” Thursday, June 2, 2016 was a tough day for the US military. Two modern jet fighters, a Navy F-18 Hornet and an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, flown by two of America’s most capable pilots, went down, with one pilot killed. In a war that has featured total dominance of the skies by America’s intrepid aviators and robotic drones, the loss of two finely tuned fighter jets was a remarkable occurrence. 

This article originally appeared atTomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com. 

Army Vice Says Yes On Anti-Drone Tech; Maybe On Missiles; No On Iron Man

June 21, 2016 

Gen. Daniel Allyn

WASHINGTON: The Army is developing promising new technology, from long-range missiles to anti-drone defense, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Allyn told reporters today. The problem, of course, is paying for it — which, he said, puts pricey innovations like Iron Man-style powered armor out of reach.

So what’s the most exciting tech that could fix an operational shortfall at a price the service can afford, I asked? That’s when Gen. Allyn brought up the counter-drone system, which he’d seen recently at Fort Bliss Texas, home of the Army’s experimental-tech exercises, theArmy Warfighting Assessments (AWAs) and Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs).

“Counter-UAS is going to be a critical capability,” he said.

How does it work, I asked: by physically shooting down the drone? By shooting it with alaser? By jamming its transmissions? “It brings together all of that,” Allyn answered.


JUNE 22, 2016

As of 2011, 73 percent of active component soldiers in the U.S. Army had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, experiencing firsthand the complexity of getting things done in ungoverned and under-resourced places. A new breed of civil-military structures was born during the wars —including Provincial Reconstruction Teams, the Task Force for Business Stabilization Operations, and the Human Terrain System — to bring civilian knowledge and perspectives to bear on military operations. But as major ground operations wound down, these structures were mostly done away with. The armed forces are left with a paradoxical situation: a generation of service members who have an unprecedented appreciation of the need for civilian knowledge in fragile states, alongside an absence of structures to provide such knowledge at the tactical level. While such expertise is available within USAID and State, these institutions face personnel and budget constraints and focus their support at the strategic level. As natives of the research community, we’ve seen the military reach out to NGOs and academics again and again trying to establish formal liaisons or define universal best practices. But formal, top-down approaches are both high-risk and low-reward for most non-government researchers and practitioners. Effectively tapping into this body of knowledge requires a new strategy: The military should focus on building long-term but informal relationships with intermediaries in the non-governmental development and humanitarian communities who can act as guides to the civilian knowledge base.


JUNE 22, 2016

And the last project I want to highlight is one that we’re calling the arsenal plane, which takes one of our oldest aircraft platforms and turns it into a flying launchpad for all sorts of different conventional payloads. In practice, the arsenal plane will function as a very large airborne magazine, network to fifth generation aircraft that act as forward sensor and targeting nodes, essentially combining different systems already in our inventory to create wholly new capabilities.

– Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, February 2016

Despite obstacles presented by the modern acquisition process, the Department of Defense seems determined to find solutions to its ever-growing list of requirements. DARPA’s endless stream of creative programs teeter on the fine line between science fiction and reality. Defense journals and blogs alike are abuzz with recent projects executed or announced by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), which is focused on technological applications for current military problems. One program of note in the SCO portfolio favored by Secretary Carter is the “arsenal plane” concept, which recurs every now and then. In 1979, the Carter administration proposed a converted Boeing 747-200 as the Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft, loaded with 72 nuclear-tipped air-launched cruise missiles. The concept briefings for the miniature air-launched decoy (MALD) are littered with images showing the MALD being dispensed from a C-130 or C-17. The concept of the “missile caddy,” which was intended to increase the number of air-to-air missiles available to a fighter, has been around at least since the 1990s. In February, the Air Force released an artist’s conception of an arsenal plane – an 8-engined aircraft resembling a cross between the B-52 and a C-5. Like many a Pentagon program, this idea has the potential to run off the rails in short order unless it is made clear that the arsenal plane concept is not a new aircraft. Not only is the idea not new, but, we already have an arsenal plane. It’s called the Stratofortress.