2 August 2016

*** When will India stop rewarding incompetence in the military?

Outstanding officers with a strong individuality and intellectual curiosity get culled by the stubborn seniority system.

In his seminal On the Psychology of Military Incompetence Norman Dixon poses the questions: "How, if they are so lacking in intelligence, do people become senior military commanders? And what is it about military organisations that they should attract, promote and ultimately tolerate those whose performance at the highest levels brings opprobrium on the organisations they represent?"

Fortunately we have not had a major war in recent times to test the mettle of our commanders. But even in peacetime, many have, unfortunately, managed by their acts of omission and commission to bring opprobrium on our military.

The upper echelons of India's military are now visibly dense with incompetent and uninspiring leaders, who simply managed to get good ACR's year after year with bland obsequiousness.

They then go about expecting the same from their subordinates, and get it in plenty. Outstanding officers with a strong individuality and intellectual curiosity get culled by the stubborn seniority system, adopted from the bureaucracy.

“I Didn’t Want Pakistani Stray Dogs Eating My Dead Body”

By Lt Gen HS Panag, PVSM, AVSM (Retd.)
01 Aug , 2016

In 1971, Sepoy Baldev Singh survived against all odds. This is his story.

In 1971, 9 Sikh was manning the Cease Fire Line (CFL) — as the Line of Control (LOC) was known then — along the Shamshabari Range, extending from Tutmari Gali to Nastachun Pass in Jammu and Kashmir. Both these passes are more than 11,000 feet high. It was tasked to attack across the CFL and capture the Kayian Bowl – ‘bowl’ in military jargon implies a small valley surrounded by steep mountain ridges – which was 3,000 feet below to the south west of Tutmari Gali. Kayian Bowl was defended by a company of Tochi Scouts which held five tactical features dominating the bowl.

Winter had set in and night temperatures were below zero degree when 9 Sikh launched its operations on the night of December 5-6, 1971. Due to paucity of resources and no road communications to Tutmari Gali, 9 Sikh had no artillery support. The unit was raised in 1963. It had some of the most dynamic young officers of the Sikh Regiment led by their equally dynamic Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Sam Chengappa. To make up for lack of fire support, 9 Sikh adopted German tactics of infiltration attacks, which were based on the concepts of ‘reconnaissance pull’ and ‘surfaces and gaps’ — an attacking force is led by the reconnaissance patrols that locate the gaps between the defences.

The ‘surfaces’, i.e. the defences, are avoided and the weaker defences in the rear are attacked first, cutting off the routes of logistic maintenance and withdrawal. The stronger main defences are then attacked from the rear.

Through a series of spectacular attacks, the enemy was routed and an area of 46 square kilometres was captured. Then, 9 Sikh launched raids and set up road blocks in the Lipa Valley to assist the operations of other units attacking Lipa Valley West from the direction of Tangdhar. On the night of December 14-15, 48 hours before the ceasefire was declared, the Commando Platoon of 9 Sikh led by Captain Karam Singh Virk, was going for one such raid to establish a road block at Brithwari Gali.

Not Many Understand ‘Jammu and Kashmir’

By Ayushman Jamwal
01 Aug , 2016

The crisis continues in Kashmir and the narrative is no different. In the imagination of the mainstream, the region continues to be a distant, mystical land, a poetic setting of conflict and beauty, with no dearth of horrifying and tragic stories. Every terror attack and political crisis is underscored by the specter of Kashmiri nationalism and the insensitivity and brutality of the Indian state. The mainstream’s understanding of Jammu and Kashmir has consistently been confined to the valley. It has all the material to feed a 24-hour news cycle and for armchair intellectuals to test their rhetorical mettle. 

However, the regions of Jammu and Ladakh, which are actively affected by the upheaval in the valley, are brazenly ignored in the Kashmir conversation. 

In every evening news show one will see Kashmiri politicians and activists, many of them based in New Delhi, rubbing shoulders with ‘senior journalists’ who regurgitate pre-historic bylines on the situation in the valley.

The Kashmir conversation is nothing more than a rhetorical boxing match seldom based on the organic truth, where in the words of Isaac Asimov, “one’s ignorance becomes as good as another’s knowledge”. Not even a politician or an activist from the Jammu or Ladakh region is included in the discussion in order to present a broader socio-political perspective of the situation in the state.

Jammu and Ladakh’s politically inert nature tends to make them less interesting candidates for the national news as compared to their neighbour. This may be the reason why whenever I say that my family hails from the Jammu region of J&K, literally everyone’s first response is “Are you Kashmiri?” 

Aircraft Induction: IAF’s Predicament

By Gp Capt PK Mulay
01 Aug , 2016

Indian Air Force’s aircraft acquisitions attract worldwide attention mainly due to the order size and the costs involved. It is thus quite natural that its acquisition plans would be discussed threadbare with many articles and analyses, some being very critical of the final choice. The same has happened after the announcement of the purchase of a limited number of Rafale fighters and the more recent induction of LCA, Tejas.

The future induction plans of the IAF are at a crucial stage where its fleet strength is fast dwindling and the replacements are either not matching up to its expectations or are proving very expensive.

Numerous articles have been published some for and others against these moves. Most of the discussions however, focused mainly on the platform per se, its generation, costs and at times fleetingly touching on the capabilities.

The IAF currently faces a dilemma of sorts. The aircraft of its choice, the Rafale, is turning out to be excessively costly, while the indigenously developed LCA is not measuring up to its expectations in terms of the status, performance, time delays and limitations. The future induction plans of the IAF are at a crucial stage where its fleet strength is fast dwindling and the replacements are either not matching up to its expectations or are proving very expensive.

Many answers have been suggested. But somehow the discussions have focused on a limited number of issues. Many important or crucial issues have not been highlighted. The aspects which seem to have been overlooked and which merit consideration need to be brought on to the table. Only then can a holistic view be taken.

The Government’s Burden of Military Security

By Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee
31 Jul , 2016

It needs no revelation that there is widespread consternation within the strategically committed community, the intelligentsia and the media over the growing obsolescence and declining operational capability of the ultimate cutting instrument of national power – the military force-structure. Thus in spite of maintaining the third largest military force in the world, there is imposition of only a fractional deterrence upon the perennial adversaries while they keep jabbing hurtfully at rib of the Indian nationhood. The new political leadership is apparently intent on remedying that undesirable situation. Therefore, to turn its rhetoric into action, the NDA government has to acknowledge that there are two distinct aspects to the amelioration of that undesirable stage, and tackled these on priority if its political pronouncements are to gain respectability from the citizenry.

‘Salus republicae suprema lex’ (Safety of nation is the supreme law) —Latin proverb

The previous government’s pusillanimity against neighbourhood bullying had caused deep consternation among the nation’s strategic fraternity…

A New Agenda for National Defence

Inter-State Council and Internal Security

By Shashank Ranjan
31 Jul , 2016

Chairing the 11th meeting of the Inter-State Council (ISC) on July 13, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that “[t]he nation can only progress if the State and the Centre work shoulder to shoulder.” And with reference to internal security, he observed that it was not possible to strengthen it if intelligence exchange was not improved. He, therefore, requested States to focus on intelligence-sharing in order to help the country stay “alert” to, and “updated” on, internal security challenges.1 The meeting, held for the first time after 2006, had internal security as one of its main agendas.

The ISC has met ten times so far. Its first seven meetings mainly discussed the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, which had been established in June 1983 to review the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and the States. In the eighth meeting, the emphasis was on optimal utilization of the ISC to sort out, and reach consensus on, emerging issues of national importance, especially in socio-economic sectors, so as to facilitate cooperation between the States and the Centre, leading to concrete implementation. At the ISC’s ninth meeting in June 2005, the emphasis was on good governance, while the tenth meeting held in December 2006 focused on implementation of SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.2

The ISC is a recommendatory body with the following duties:3
Investigating and discussing such subjects, in which some or all of the States or the Union and one or more of the States have a common interest.
Making recommendations upon any such subject and in particular recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action with respect to that subject.
Deliberating upon such other matters of general interest to the States as may be referred by the Chairman to the Council.

US war hawks’ Eurasia goal: Prevent Russo-German coalition, China’s OBOR project

US wants to stop a coalition between Germany and Russia because the combination of German capital and technology with Russian natural resources and manpower can counter American dominance. Its move to destabilize and throw countries “off balance” in Eurasia threatens China’s “One Belt, One Road” project that would help Eurasian economic integration and reduce ungoverned space for terrorist organizations to thrive. The world now waits to see if the US November election can usher in a new era of a multi-partner world to confront global challenges

It seems the American people and US allies from Europe to Asia are increasingly disenchanted with Washington war hawks’ policies that are threatening global stability.

At the Democratic National Convention, angry delegates shouted “no more war” when former CIA director and defense secretary Leon Panetta began to criticize Trump.[1]

Although Panetta appeared to be surprised and taken aback, the delegates’ frustrations should be understandable. After the Beltway war hawks wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars in endless counter-productive wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria that have destroyed their countries and empowered Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, and mortgaging the prosperity of America’s future generations with a $21 trillion debt burden, Americans have had it.

A Death Knell for the National Military

Atul Bhardwaj
30 Jul, 2016

The Indian soldier is in a state of stupor. The civil–military relations in the country are in crisis. The government’s policies are aggravating the situation, alienating the armed forces by lowering their status and salaries in comparison to other arms of the state. Neo-liberal forces are using the crisis as an opportunity to introduce military transformation that would splinter the national military and replace patriotism with profi teering.

The Indian armed forces are in a state of shock. The irony is that the nationalist political party considered most sympathetic to their cause is administering the shock therapy. The expectations of the military on pay and pension have been belied. In 2015, the veterans were forced to take to the streets demanding the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP). The government unleashed the police on protesting veterans.

After vacillating on the issue, a distorted version of the OROP was announced in November 2015. Contrary to the accepted understanding of the annual revision and equalisation of pensions, the government fixed equalisation to once in five years. Initially, officers who sought premature retirement after completing the 20-year mandatory pensionable service were precluded from the OROP scheme. Later, the government relented and all officers who had taken premature retirement up to the date of issuance of the government notification were included in the OROP scheme. However, the future premature retirees are denied the OROP benefits.

The deliberate attacks on the dignity of the armed forces did not stop after the OROP fiasco. The latest Seventh Pay Commission award has further enraged the armed forces community. The government has conveniently ignored the long-standing grievance of the armed forces on the issue of “non-functional upgradation” (NFU). The military has once again been denied NFU pay, which is enjoyed by the Group A central services. The military has been deliberately lowered in protocol terms. This reshuffling of the order-of-precedence in the government has aggravated the feeling of alienation among the armed forces. The seething rage is strewn all across social media.

That inept 'Saint Antony'

July 29, 2016

'It was almost as though there was widespread relief that the defence bureaucracy, and the minister, could find someone willing to shoulder the blame for everything that had gone wrong with the services under Antony's charge -- the poor preparedness of the forces, slow acquisitions caused by indecision, cancellation of contracts and whimsical blacklisting of defence contractors over the tiniest suspicion that they may have paid speed money or kickbacks.'

Ravi Velloor, associate editor at Singapore's Straits Times, reveals what went on at the defence ministry under A K Antony's watch in his riveting new book, India Rising: Fresh Hopes New Fear.
An exclusive excerpt from the must-read book.

IMAGE: Admiral D K Joshi, then Chief of the Naval Staff, briefs then Defence Minister A K Antony about the sinking of the INS Sindhurakshak submarine following an explosion, in Mumbai on August 14, 2013. Photograph: Press Information Bureau

Expenditure on Modernization of Defence Forces

Jul 30, 2016 

Modernization of Defence Forces

The details of the total amount spent on modernization of defence forces during the last three years are as follows:

(Rs. in crore)

Financial Year Total allocation Actual Expenditure on modernization

2013-14 73,444.59 66,850.30

2014-15 75,148.03 65,862.38

2015-16 77,406.69 62,341.87

The budgetary provision of Rs.69,898.51.00 crores for the financial year 2016-17 made for the Defence Services Estimates is 27.45% less than the projected requirements (Rs.96,343.03) of the various Services / Departments. The funds allocated are adequate to meet the contractual commitments and some fresh modernization schemes for the present. Additional requirement of funds as necessary will be projected depending on pace of utilization of allocation, progress of ongoing and new modernization schemes and other priority requirements.

Modernisation of Ordnance Factories

Jul 30, 2016

Modernisation of Ordnance Factories

Performance of Ordnance Factories is being regularly reviewed by Ordnance Factory Board. Some of the major steps taken in this regard are as follows:

(i) Modernization of Ordnance Factories to keep pace with the latest technology and to maintain the production capacity in tandem with the requirement of Armed Forces. As compared to an expenditure of Rs.2927 crore in the 11th Plan, already an expenditure of Rs.4239 crore has been incurred during the first four years (2012-16) of the 12th Plan. In 2016-17, an expenditure of Rs.1169.67 crore is envisaged.

(ii) To improve upon the production planning in Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Army has started placing 5 years roll-on indents for ammunition items.

(iii) Quality Audit Groups (QAG) have been formed at 10 centers as an independent authority for giving impetus to and ensuring quality in Ordnance Factories.

(iv) 13 Ordnance Development Centres (ODCs) with identified core technologies have been created to take up product development and improvement in core product areas.

Ministry has been delegating powers to Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) from time to time for providing operational freedom and expedite decision making process by them.

This information was given by Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Shri E. T. Mohammed Basheer in Lok Sabha.

Strategic Partners for Domestic Manufacturing

Jul 30, 2016 

Strategic Partners for Domestic Manufacturing

The Government is committed to the goal of achieving self-reliance in our defence capabilities. Accordingly, the concept of ‘Make in India’ is a focal point of the current defence acquisition policy and procedures. The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) focuses on giving boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government through indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment, platforms and systems. A new category viz. ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)’ [Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured] has been introduced as the most preferred category of Procurement. The ‘Make’ procedure has been simplified to ensure increased participation of Indian Industry. There is provision for Government funding of upto 90% in cases involving design and development systems / equipment which necessitate harnessing of critical technologies and which may involve large infrastructure investment. Provisions for involving private industry as Production Agencies and Technology Transfer Partners have been incorporated. The role of MSMEs has also been enhanced in the defence sector.

The V.K. Aatre Task Force was constituted by Government to lay down criteria for selection of the Strategic Partners for various platforms from the Private Sector Industry. It has presented its Report to Government.

This information was given by Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Dr. Bhola Singh and Shrimati Poonamben Maadam in Lok Sabha. 

Boosting indigenous defence production

Jul 20, 2016 

Boosting indigenous defence production

The Defence Production Policy promulgated by Government of India aims at achieving substantive self-reliance in the design, development and production of equipment, weapon systems, platforms required for defence in as early a time frame possible; creating conditions conducive for the private industry to take an active role in this endeavour, enhancing potential of SMEs in indigenisation and broadening the defence R&D base of the country.

In pursuance to the aforesaid policy, progressive development of competence level of Indian public and private industry and in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Government has taken several policy measures to give a boost to indigenous production of defence equipment requirement, which inter-alia, include preference to ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)’, `Buy (Indian)’ and `Buy & Make (Indian)’ categories of acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ category in defence procurement; liberalisation of Foreign Direct Investment and Industrial Licensing Policy; level-playing-field between private sector and public sector through removing anomalies in taxation in Customs / Excise duty etc.

HAL is an autonomous entity and therefore based on the available opportunities, it takes decisions for diversification into other areas of aerospace sector which includes manufacture of commercial aircrafts also. However, such diversification plans are contingent upon financial viability of the projects and the requirements of Indian Armed Forces.

This information was given by Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre in a written reply to Shri CP Narayanan in Rajya Sabha today. 

China: The People’s Fury

Chinese protesters outside the US Consulate in Hong Kong, following an international court ruling against China’s claims to the South China Sea, Hong Kong, China, July 14, 2016

It has long been routine to find in both China’s official news organizations and its social media a barrage of anti-American comment, but rarely has it reached quite the intensity and fury of the last few days. There have been calls from citizens on the country’s social media platforms to boycott KFC, Starbucks, and the iPhone 7, accusations against the US of waging a new “war” against China, and threats that the Philippines, a close US ally, will be turned into a Chinese province. All of this is in response to the July 12 ruling against China by the Law of the Sea Tribunal in the Hague, which found Beijing to be engaging in a host of illegal actions and violations of international law as it has pressed its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The five-member panel, set up as part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, had been asked by the Philippines to arbitrate its dispute with China. The tribunal declared that China’s exclusion of Filipino fisherman from the area, its building of half a dozen artificial islands, and the damage it has done to coral reefs and endangered species are violations of the law. 

Immediately after the decision, some one hundred of China’s most famous actors, musicians, television personalities, and other celebrities furiously denounced the tribunal on social media, reproducing a map of the disputed area and declaring, “China’s territorial sovereignty is not a matter for arbitration.” An image of a poster made its way around the Chinese web, showing one of the artificial islands and airstrips that China has built on disputed territory with the legend: “South China Sea: Our Beautiful Motherland; We won’t let go an inch.” Much of the comment about the tribunal’s decision has been explicitly, angrily, even frighteningly anti-American. The United States and the Philippines, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, “have conspired for a long time to blackmail China,” and they are doing that now “through a tribunal that tramples on international justice.” 

Interview with Daniel Pipes: 'The Battle against Islamism Has Not Yet Started'

July 25, 2016

Global Review: Mr. Pipes, what do you think of Samuel Huntington's book Clash of Civilizations? Are religions the defining moments of culture, despite the Enlightenment and globalization? Where was Huntington right and where wrong?

Daniel Pipes: Huntington made some very major mistakes which have become increasingly evident in the two decades since he aired his thesis. For example, he thought U.S. tensions with Japan in the 1990s resulted from civilizational differences; a decade later, those tensions disappeared, replaced by far more severe problems with Europe, even though the United States and Europe form part of the same civilization. The real divisions, as always, remain political, not civilizational.

GR: Many people say that Islam is not a religion but a reactionary, totalitarian and repressive ideology comparable to fascism and communism; and that Islam cannot be reformed. Other people say that Islamism had nothing to do with religion and Islam. What do you say about relations between Islam and Islamism?

DP: Both these statements are silly. Of course, Islam is one of the major religions of the world; what is there to argue about? Islamism, a modern movement, however, shares much with fascism and communism. Islamism is a form of Islam. Denying this would be akin to saying that the Jesuits are not Christian.

GR: Some experts compare Islam with Confucianism and Hinduism. They note that in the 1950s, Confucian societies were thought unable to develop economically and socially, and that Confucianism was seen as an obstacle to progress; same with Hinduism in India.

The third wave of Jihad begins. We will soon see its power.

Summary: Jeremy Harding at the LRB looks at the next big step by jihadists, and the amazing oddity of the West’s response.


Modern jihad has gone through several phases, each stronger and more virulent than the predecessor. First came Afghanistan’s Mujahideen, who burned out in internecine conflict (defeated by the Tailiban). Al Qaeda came next, destroyed in the years after 9/11. Then came ISIS, now being destroyed after its premature shift to phase three insurgent operations (per Mao’s schema: holding territory and waging conventional warfare). Now jihad takes a new step, resuming phase two operations (terrorism) — but expanding their operations into Europe.

We can only guess at what form this will take, and what jihadists learned from their previous failures. Here Jeremy Harding explains this stage in jihad’s evolution, and the great oddity of the West’s response. Red emphasis added.
By Jeremy Harding. Excerpt from London Review of Books. 15 July 2016.
Posted with the author’s generous permission.

Gilles Kepel, a specialist on ‘Islam and the Arab world’, wrote last year in Terreur dans l’Hexagone – a study of French jihadism – that the Charlie Hebdo killings were ‘a sort of cultural 9/11’. The jihadism that we’re now confronted with, he argued, is a third wave phenomenon, superseding the mujahidin in Afghanistan (the first) and emerging in the long twilight of al-Qaida (the second).

Backgrounder on the Upcoming Battle for Mosul in Iraq

July 31, 2016

Retaking Iraq’s IS-held Mosul likely to prove tricky, costly

BAGHDAD (AP) – It promises to be the biggest and perhaps last major battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Iraq’s government is setting its sight on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city that has been under IS control since June 2014, as its next major target in the fight against IS. The assault is likely months away, but fierce fighting has already been raging as Iraqi forces try to clear the militants from villages and towns south of the city.

The goal is to protect the Qayara air base, which was recaptured from the militants on July 9 and is to be a main hub for the final move on Mosul. Some 560 American military personnel, mainly engineers and logistics, security and communications experts, are due to deploy at the base to upgrade its facilities to prepare for the Mosul attacks, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

But that can’t happen yet because Qayara base has come under frequent rocket fire from IS fighters in the area. Around two-thirds of the surrounding towns and villages are controlled by IS fighters. Iraqi forces need to clear a 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius around the base and to retake the key nearby towns of Qayara and Shirqat, several Iraqi military officials told The Associated Press.

Iraqi forces already have driven the Islamic State group out of the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah, Tikrit and Beiji west and north of the Iraqi capital, rolling back the jihadis’ dramatic blitz in the summer of 2014 that captured nearly a third of the country and linked with their territory in neighboring Syria.

Asia-Europe Meeting: Getting Two Regions Together Will Take More Than Just Talks

By Monish Gulati
31 Jul , 2016

Mongolia hosted the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit of Heads of State and Government (ASEM11) in Ulaanbaatar on 15-16 July 2016. The presidents of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Myanmar, South Korea, and Switzerland were among the 10 heads of state in attendance. Delegates from over 51 countries, as well as the EU and ASEAN, travelled to the Mongolian capital for the Summit. The 10th ASEM Summit (ASEM10) had been held on 16-17 October 2014 in Milan, Italy. 

Mongolia – which celebrated Naadam, its annual summer festival from July 10 to 13 – had organised nine side events leading up to the main show, including the 8th Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) Editors Roundtable, the ASEM Consultative Meeting on Food Security, and the 15th Asia-Europe Business Forum.

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) 

The ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 28 European Union (EU) member states, 2 other European countries, the EU secretariat, 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN secretariat. The ASEF is the only permanently established institution of ASEM. The ASEM11 also marked the 20th Anniversary of the Asia-Europe Meeting dialogue process which was inaugurated on 1-2 March 1996 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The basis for creating ASEM was the simple realisation that ‘Asia matters – for Europe. And Europe matters – for Asia.’ ASEM’s current 53 partners (more than double from the original 26 in 1996) represent nearly 60% of the world’s GDP and more than 60% of the world’s population. Business is at the heart of the EU-Asia relationship, which has been constrained by trade disputes.

ASEM Dialogue

Which Europe Now

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, House of Lords shadow leader Angela Evans Smith, Prime Minister David Cameron, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at a memorial service for Labour MP Jo Cox, St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, London, June 2016

Political drama on television is finished. No fictional version could match the vicious infighting in both main political parties in Britain that followed the vote on June 23 by the British people to leave the European Union. 

What the vote revealed—and the winning margin was larger than in three of the past four US presidential elections—is a growing and dangerous divide between the political class, often a metropolitan elite, and a large number of people who feel left out of the economic prosperity centered on London and disenfranchised by “political correctness.” Among the latter, insecurity has been growing for years, the result in part of the impact of globalization on real wages and of high levels of immigration.1 It is a problem afflicting many industrialized countries. 

Yet the political class, still in a state of shock and disbelief, shows few signs of recognizing the cause of its undoing. The campaign was not a reasoned discussion of the case for the two options but a propaganda war, the likes of which I cannot recall before in Britain, with both sides calling each other, and with some justification, liars.2And both sides continue to believe passionately that the other was the worse sinner. 


Russia’s Futuristic Military Plagued by Old Problems

July 29, 2016

As Russia’s military operations continue unabated in Syria, despite an earlier order to commence withdrawing deployed forces, the conflict has certainly succeeded in changing how the Russian Armed Forces are perceived both at home and abroad. Indeed, the intervention in Syria, marking Moscow’s first experience of expeditionary warfare beyond the former Soviet space since its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, permitted the top brass to test and showcase some of the advances in modern military hardware and weapons systems. This has been by no means a cheap exercise in the use of hard power. And yet, Russia’s operation in Syria has promulgated a one-sided view of the transformation of its Armed Forces: that of Moscow making significant progress toward developing 21st century warfare capabilities. However, this oversimplified assertion is challenged by ongoing problems linked to military manpower (Voyennya Mysl, No. 1, 2016). 

President Vladimir Putin has revamped the assertion that Russia retains “one million” men under arms, despite evidence of undermanning in the Armed Forces. In December 2015, the Ministry of Defense confirmed that it is on schedule to achieve its aim to recruit sufficient numbers of contract personnel (kontraktniki) based on annual targets and boasted that it passed the milestone of possessing more contract personnel than conscripts. The defense ministry’s official figure for the number of kontraktniki serving in the Armed Forces was 352,000, noting that the target for 2016 was set at recruiting an additional 31,000 and proclaiming that its units were 92 percent manned (RIA Novosti, December 24, 2015). 

NATO Aspirant Georgia Still Defenseless After All These Years

July 29, 2016

It was a summit of modest expectations and modest results for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Warsaw on July 8–9. These results are of an interim nature: building-blocks for further decisions at upcoming ministerial meetings, not waiting until the next summit. The Warsaw results do not, as yet, correlate with the growth in Russia’s capacity to threaten, intimidate, or subvert the Alliance generally and its eastern—now “frontline”—member countries in particular. 

NATO’s political pronouncements and official documents recognize that Georgia has contributed to Allied operations far more than any of the countries that were invited to join the North Atlantic Alliance during the last ten years—and more indeed than most of the “old” NATO member countries. NATO’s recent summit in Warsaw again acknowledged Georgia’s contributions (see EDM, July 27). 

Georgia spends more than 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, year after year—a NATO benchmark that only five NATO member countries (out of 28) actually meet. This effort places an additional burden on Georgia’s impoverished population. And much of this spending supports Georgia’s participation in NATO operations outside Georgia’s own territory (see above). Georgian public support for the goal of joining NATO stands at 68 percent, according to the most recent opinion survey (NDI press release, April 11, 2016)—a level of support that has persisted through the years, and actually exceeds the pro-NATO sentiment in many NATO member countries. Georgia has successfully protected itself and the neighboring countries from terrorist activities; it guarantees the security of international oil and gas pipelines that cross Georgia’s territory; and it has made its territory unconditionally available in the last 15 years for expeditionary operations led by the United States. 

Moscow ‘Bypassing’ Armenia to Reach Azerbaijan, Iran and India

July 19, 2016 

Perhaps the most important geopolitical development of mid-July 2016 was not the continuing conflict in the South China Sea, the failed coup in Turkey, or terrorist violence in France—all of which attracted considerable international attention—but rather the quiet signing, in Moscow, of an agreement by Russian, Iranian, Azerbaijani and Indian officials to open a north-south rail line in the Caucasus. That accord will not only link those three countries, but ultimately tie together rail systems from India, by ship to Iran (see EDM, December 4, 2015), and on to Europe, via Azerbaijan and Russia. This will have profound consequences for the states and territories along its route. However, the country most immediately and negatively affected by this new rail system will be Armenia, which is not a party to these arrangements (Rusarminfo.ru, July 11). 

The Russia-Iran-Azerbaijan-India railroad accord represents Moscow’s ongoing efforts to reach an agreement with Baku. These Russian efforts include closer consultations on a range of foreign policy issues as well as an agreement to train Azerbaijani military officers in Russian military academies after a break of two decades. Furthermore, there are indications that the Russian government is now prepared to push harder for a two-step solution to the Karabakh conflict (see EDM, May 2, July 7) by pressing Armenia to withdraw its forces from five (of the seven) regions of Azerbaijan other than Karabakh and then later to negotiate about some future autonomous status for the separatist Karabakh territory after that happens (Haykakan Zhamanak, July 14). That is something most Armenian political leaders and the Armenian public more generally oppose, but now their country may not be able to block such a resolution of this “frozen” conflict. 

Russia in Decline

The Project 

The French historian Alain Besancon observed long ago that understanding the USSR required us “to remain mentally in a universe whose coordinates bears no relationship to our own.” The same holds true for post-Soviet Russia. If we do not appreciate the mentality that animates and informs the actions of the Russian state, and the distinctive peculiarities of the state itself, we must forever be surprised or confounded by its behavior. Taking the Russian state for what it is, then, rather than what one would like it to be, is the precondition for appreciating the risks it may pose to itself, American, Western, and even global security in the years and decades ahead. 

For a decade or more, Russia has sought to be viewed and treated as an ambitious power on the rise. The ambitions of Moscow’s ruling circles have been of course real enough—but the perception of Russia itself on the rise is, or has been, largely an illusion. It has now become increasingly clear that the underpinnings of Russian power are unraveling, and the Kremlin’s aggressive, increasingly risk-tolerant international posture and domestic performance are actually hastening the moment of truth when Russia is revealed as a power in serious decline. 

This project sets out to investigate alternative futures for Russia posed not by its ascent, but rather by a Russia in decline. Paradoxical as it may sound, a weakening, decaying or even failing Russian state will still possess the capability (and may very well also possess the desire) to threaten Western interests and global stability profoundly. 

Now Available -- Eurasian Disunion: Russia's Vulnerable Flanks

Publication: Volume: 0 Issue: 0
July 28, 2016

Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the dismemberment of its territory is not an isolated operation. It constitutes one component of a broader strategic agenda to rebuild a Moscow-centered bloc designed to compete with the West. The acceleration of President Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperial project has challenged the security of several regions that border the Russian Federation, focused attention on the geopolitical aspects of Kremlin ambitions, and sharpened the debate on the future role of NATO, the EU, and the US in the Wider Europe. 

This book is intended to generate a more informed policy debate on the dangers stemming from the restoration of a Russian-centered “pole of power” or “sphere of influence” in Eurasia. It focuses on five vulnerable flanks bordering the Russian Federation – the Baltic and Nordic zones, East Central Europe, South East Europe, South Caucasus, and Central Asia. It examines several pivotal questions including: the strategic objectives of Moscow’s expansionist ambitions; Kremlin tactics and capabilities; the impact of Russia’s assertiveness on the national security of neighbors; the responses of vulnerable states to Russia’s geopolitical ambitions; the impact of prolonged regional turmoil on the stability of the Russian Federation and the survival of the Putinist regime; and the repercussions of heightened regional tensions for US, NATO, and EU policy toward Russia and toward unstable regions bordering the Russian Federation. 

U.S. Gives RAVEN Surveillance Drones to the Ukraine

Daniel Wasserbly
July 29, 2016

US delivers Raven UAVs to Ukraine

The United States delivered 24 AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven unmanned aircraft systems to Ukraine on 27 July, the US Embassy in Kiev said.

The package included 72 hand-launched Raven intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft and associated equipment, which was transported to Boryspil International Airport.

“Several dozen Ukrainian soldiers have already completed training on Raven unmanned aircraft system in Huntsville, Alabama,” the embassy said. “[The] Raven system is part of the European Reassurance Initiative [ERI] package and on-going security assistance efforts in Ukraine.”

The White House in fiscal year 2016 (FY16) received USD789 million for the ERI and in FY17 requested USD3.4 billion, a four-fold increase to fund such projects as well as add another US Army armour brigade presence in the region.

After removing force structure and armour units from a peaceful Europe, President Barack Obama over the last few years has sought to sooth fears in Eastern Europe that tensions with Russia could escalate to conflict, as happened in Ukraine.

There have been frequent calls from Kiev as well as some in the US Congress to send more potent offensive weaponry to Ukraine, but the Obama administration has mainly favoured communication and ISR assets (for example, AN/TPQ-49 Lightweight Counter-Mortar Radars began arriving in 2014).

DNC Hack by the Russians Shows Cyberespionage Is the New Battlefield in the Global Spying Wars

James Rosen
July 28, 2016

The DNC email hack is just the newest skirmish in a growing cyberwar

The accusations and counter-charges flying between Russia and the United States over a massive leak of Democratic Party emails recall stranger-than-fiction episodes from the Cold War, but now the high-stakes espionage game is taking place in cyberspace and features digital malware instead of dead drops.

The release by WikiLeaks of 19,252 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee sparked an FBI investigation and prompted the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz from her party’s chairmanship due to alleged bias shown in the emails toward Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Under fire over the contents of some leaked emails, DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., greeted the Florida delegation at a breakfast, on July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pa., during the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Matt Slocum AP 

Senior campaign aides to Clinton, under political fire for her mishandling of emails while she was secretary of state, quickly blamed the release on two Russian cyberspook groups nicknamed Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear that are believed to have close ties to Moscow’s intelligence agencies and military services.

The alleged motivation of Fancy Bear and Cozy bear? The Kremlin is said to favor Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has spoken admiringly of Russian President Vladimir Putin and just last week criticized NATO, the trans-Atlantic alliance formed after World War II to counter Soviet expansion. Putin, for his part, had called Trump “a very bright and talented man.”

The evidence of Putin support for Trump is at the moment merely circumstantial – the Russian president has criticized Clinton previously for what he said was her interference in Russia’s 2011 disputed election results, and some members of Trump’s campaign staff have worked with Russia before.

President's Cyber Response Directive Gets Mixed Reviews

July 27, 2016

Security experts disagree about whether a new presidential policy directive on how to coordinate response to a large-scale cyber incident is well-designed. 

While some say its far too complex to work, others say it reflects current practices. 

Richard Stiennon, chief strategy officer at Blancco Technology Group, a provider of mobile device diagnostics, sees the directive as being "overly complicated" with "too many moving parts. It calls on many new and relatively unvetted components of the federal government to work together in a quick and efficient manner." 

But Phil Reitinger, chief executive of the Global Cyber Alliance, doesn't see the complexity getting in the way of executing the directive. "I don't think it's a huge lift for implementation; I suspect this is the way the government already works," says Reitinger, a former DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and onetime chief information security officer at Sony. "I think it's more a likely description of the way things now generally work and ought to work as opposed to a notional thing to work toward." 
Assign Roles to Agencies 

The new directive, announced July 26, gives specific roles to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to coordinate three lines of effort: threat response, asset response and intelligence support activities. 

U.S. Wrestles With How to Fight Back Against Cyberattacks

JULY 30, 2016

President Obama during a visit to a government cybersecurity center in Arlington, Va., in 2015.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

ASPEN, Colo. — It has been an open secret throughout the Obama presidency that world powers have escalated their use of cyberpower. But the recent revelations of hacking into Democratic campaign computer systems in an apparent attempt to manipulate the 2016 election is forcing the White House to confront a new question: whether, and if so how, to retaliate.

So far, the administration has stopped short of publicly accusing the Russian government of President Vladimir V. Putin of engineering the theft of research and emails from the Democratic National Committee and hacking into other campaign computer systems. However, private investigators have identified the suspects, and American intelligence agencies have told the White House that they have “high confidence” that the Russian government was responsible.

Less certain is who is behind the selective leaks of the material, and whether they have a clear political objective. Suspecting such meddling is different from proving it with a certainty sufficient for any American president to order a response.

Even if officials gather the proof, they may not be able to make their evidence public without tipping off Russia, or its proxies in cyberspace, about how deeply the National Security Agency has penetrated that country’s networks. And designing a response that will send a clear message, without prompting escalation or undermining efforts to work with Russia in places like Syria, where Russia is simultaneously an adversary and a partner, is even harder.

Defence Research and Development (R&D) in Israel: An Overview

Author: Vishakh K. Valiathan 
July 27, 2016

As history has shown us time and again, technological advances have had a huge impact on the conduct of warfare. This can be traced back from the adoption of saddle and stirrup for the cavalry, to the invention of gunpowder, to the present day automatic machine guns and development of nuclear weapons. Realpolitik demands that in order to survive in an anarchical world, a state needs to build up its military and economic power.

Technological prowess therefore is crucial in giving the country that slight edge over its adversaries. This has been the reason that countries and companies have relentlessly pursued development (R&D) of newer technology and invested time and money into research and development in the security sector. Innovation is important for sustainable development and it brings in new processes, services and systems that show the essential investment in any area. Israel’s investment into R&D has catalysed the growth of its civilian and defence industries which have in turn complemented its emergence as a technologically modern and prosperous nation. It can be noted that countries view spending on Defence Research and Development (R&D) as an investment for the future and a guarantor of their security.

Israeli Spending on Defence

From the time the state of Israel was created in 1948, it has experienced various security challenges. The geo-political situation in Israel’s neighbourhood has been hostile to say the least. The country from its experiences acknowledged that its continued existence could be secured only through a strong military, economy and pursuit of technological prowess. Israel’s small geographical and demographic footprint – as compared to other countries in the region – also resulted in Israeli political leadership giving importance to technical education and achieving technological superiority. Israel, in the present era, is known for its R&D in defence equipment and products. Some of the companies of Israel are the best in developing hi-tech innovative products for the defence sector complementing the civilian sector.

Pavel K. Baev -- Military Force: A Driver Aggravating Russia’s Decline

By: Pavel K. Baev
June 27, 2016

Publication: Russia In Decline Volume: 1 Issue: 1

Looking into the remaining years of the 2010s, it is only too obvious that decline is set to be the dominant trend in Russia, and it is easy to predict that the trajectory will be neither smooth nor agreeable for this diminishing power and its neighbors. This decline was certainly not initiated by the sharp drop in oil prices in the middle of the decade—nor can it be arrested by the potential recovery of this volatile commodity to a more sensible plateau of $40–50 per barrel. It can be argued that Russia’s “resurgence,” which appeared so robust in the 2000s, contained and nurtured many causes of the forthcoming decline, which is a complex phenomenon combining a range of factors from demography to infrastructure to corruption. A key element in the erosion of Russia’s trajectory toward gaining strength was the authoritarian mutation of its political system, which had already begun in the course of Vladimir Putin’s first presidency and reached the stage of complete degradation with his return to the Kremlin in 2012. One institution that stands out from the general picture of corrupt decay is the Armed Forces. This analysis will look into the very particular combination of modernization and dislocation of the Russian military machine: specifically, how political abuse of the military is aimed at compensating for the lack of other components of state power—which then leads to an acceleration of the general decline of the country. 

The Contorted Combination of Military Reform and Rearmament 

The week-long war against Georgia in August 2008 convinced the Russian leadership that a direct application of military force was a highly effective instrument of policy—and that its force at that time was too feeble. This proven need to upgrade led to the launch of military reform in autumn 2008, which turned out to be the only meaningful undertaking in the much-trumpeted project of “modernization” advanced by President Dmitry Medvedev to establish his leadership. The reasons for his failure are too many to be evaluated here, but what is relevant is the determined execution of reorganizations and cuts in the Armed Forces. In hindsight, it is clear that the lack of any coherent design for reforms associated with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was seriously detrimental: some changes were pushed too fast and too far, while some crucial parts were left completely unreformed.