12 August 2016

*** Islamic State: The New Brand of Terrorism in India

By V. Balasubramaniyan
11 Aug , 2016

Competition among fundamentalist groups could push each of them to outdo others who would evolve in a constant state of ‘one-upmanship’. There are already strong indications of such a threat emerging in India. Incidentally, the Al Qaeda’s first cell in the Indian subcontinent was recently uncovered in Sambhal. Given this discovery, the Islamic State’s growth in India will lead to competition among like-minded groups such as Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, which would spur them on to unleash more violence in different parts of India. Constituted by a literate membership, driven by hardcore ideology, the Islamic State in India has essentially become a new brand of terrorism which is as yet unseen in the annals of political violence.

…the discovery of state-wise modules in 2016 by the National Investigation Agency, has lend credence to the theory that the Islamic State has already made inroads into India.

In September 2015, Western intelligence agencies stumbled across a 32-page Urdu document of the Islamic State in Pakistan. This document, which was obtained from a Pakistani citizen with linkages to the Pakistani Taliban, contained preparations to attack India through a final apocalyptic battle christened Ghazva-e-Hind.1 The prophesized Ghazva-e-Hind, when viewed along with Islamic State’s activities inside India, has certainly set the cat among the pigeons.

The Islamic State’s activities in India had remained largely muted till date. Even the political dispensation has attempted to quell the fears stating that Islamic State does not pose any danger to India only to retract it days later.2 However, the discovery of state-wise modules in 2016 by the National Investigation Agency, has lend credence to the theory that the Islamic State has already made inroads into India. Till 2015, scores have been prevented from going to Syria and Iraq, some hard core elements have been even been arrested in India. And yet this is the first time, local modules focused on terrorist activities have been discovered in India.

In one of the largest counter terrorist operations in the history of India, the National Investigation Agency swooped in and arrested around 20 Islamic State operatives and sympathisers across India in January and February this year. Six operatives namely, Mohammed Ahad, Mohammed Afzal, Syed Mujahid, Asif Ali, Suhail Mohammed, Najmul Huda from Karnataka, four operatives namely Mohammed Shareef, Mohammed Nafees, Abu Anas, Mohammed Obedullah from Telangana, four operatives namely Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, Khan Muhammed Hussain, Imran Khan Pathan, Mohsin Ibrahim Sayeed from Maharashtra, two operatives Rizwan Ahmed Ali Nawazuddin, Mohammed Aleem from Uttar Pradesh, have been either arrested or detained with respect to their links to the Islamic State.

*** Behind China’s Gambit in Pakistan

Daniel S. Markey

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is part development scheme, part strategic gambit. Although Beijing and Islamabad have been close partners for decades, the CPEC is a reflection of intensified and expanded bilateral cooperation at a time of rising Chinese geopolitical ambition and persistent concerns about Pakistan’s security and development. 

The CPEC is intended to promote connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects to address critical energy shortages needed to boost Pakistan’s economic growth. Eventually, the CPEC will also facilitate trade along an overland route that connects China to the Indian Ocean, linking the Chinese city of Kashgar to the Pakistani port of Gwadar. 

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, Chinese President Xi Jinping, andPakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,at Nur Khan air base in Islamabad on April 20, 2015. (Photo: Press Information Department/Government of Pakistan) 

Pakistan and China formalized plans for the CPEC in April 2015, when they signed fifty-one agreements and memoranda of understanding on Chinese investments, totaling $46 billion over the next ten to fifteen years. Some projects are already underway, including highways and energy projects where completion is expected by the end of 2016. 

India-Pakistan De-Hyphenation: It Has to Begin at Home

By Tridivesh Singh Maini
11 Aug , 2016

Successive Indian governments since the 1990’s have worked hard to de-hyphenate India from Pakistan in their dealings with the outside world. A number of factors, such as the upward economic trajectory over the past two decades, the upswing in Indo-US strategic ties since the late 1990’s, 9/11, New Delhi’s decision to focus on strengthening bilateral ties with countries in South Asia and its Look East Policy renamed ‘Act East’, have enabled the same.

The fact that most terrorist attacks even outside South Asia have a Pakistan connection and the duplicitous approach of the Pakistani deep state even with countries considered its ‘strategic partners’ have certainly not helped Pakistan’s cause internationally. It is not just the US, but even the allies of Pakistan which includes Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members like Saudi Arabia and UAE, have sought to upgrade their strategic ties with India. The fact that Saudi Arabia has extradited a number of dreaded terrorists including Abu Jundal to India is a strong reiteration of this point.

The current Chinese leadership has been seeking to hyphenate India with Pakistan; a fact that was evident from its opposition to India’s membership of the NSG (and the tying up of the Indian accession to the group with that of Pakistan) and its statements after the recent violence in Kashmir. Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao was more nuanced and while tilting towards Pakistan, he realized the relevance of a cordial India-China relationship.

Good Terrorists and Bad Terrorists

By Amit Kushari
11 Aug , 2016

Recently our Home Minister made an interesting comment in the parliament. He said that all terrorists are bad terrorists and that no terrorist can be a good terrorist. He also said that Pakistan is not allowing the situation to improve in J&K (yeh padosi hai ki maanta nahi). That terrorism is an unfortunate development in today’s world goes without saying. The terrorism unleashed by ISIS and Al Qaeda throughout the world is well known to everyone. 

The memories of 9/11 in New York and 26/11 in Mumbai are fresh in our minds. The horrible cruelties and inhuman behaviours displayed by the ISIS in Syria, Brussels, Dhaka, Paris are really unforgettable. However, can we say that all terrorists are bad? Terrorists who fight against foreign occupation of their motherland are usually termed freedom fighters—they are not called bad terrorists by the people of that country, although others may think that they are bad terrorists.

On this occasion my mind goes back to December 1930 when a group of young Indians in the age group of 20/22 dressed themselves in European clothes and stormed the Bengal secretariat in Calcutta, which was then ruled by British ICS officers. One Mr. Simson was the Chief Secretary and there were many other British officers present in the secretariat. The young men called Binay Basu, Badal Gupta and Dinesh Gupta, who had the dream of liberating India from the clutches of the British, had a long battle in the corridors of the Secretariat and the corridors were drenched in blood.

The Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary were killed and a number of British ICS officers were injured. Two of these freedom fighters/ terrorists were killed and the third one was captured alive. He was put on trial by the British and in July 1931 he was hanged inside a Calcutta jail. The British judge who ordered the hanging of Dinesh Gupta was attacked and killed by a young terrorist called Kanaiya Lal and he was also hanged later. After India became independent, a grateful India acknowledged that all the four young terrorists were actually freedom fighters and great martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice for their motherland.

Afghanistan's Long Road to Peace

August 10, 2016

THE FIRST significant round of negotiations between the Afghan state and the Taliban essentially came to an end on May 21, with the killing by an American drone strike of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. The Obama administration, it appeared, had abandoned hopes of successful talks with the Taliban in favor of a military-led strategy of decapitating the movement and provoking its fragmentation as a result. Leading figures in the Afghan government and security forces have urged Washington to adopt this strategy.

The death of Mullah Mansour did not fracture the Taliban, as hoped. Its leadership has come together to choose a new titular head, Maulavi Haibatullah Akhunzada, a respected religious figure, with an enhanced role for his deputy, Sirajuddin Haqqani, successor to his father Jalaluddin as effective leader of the formidable Haqqani network. This leadership would seem to be, if anything, even less pragmatic than that of Mullah Mansour. Meanwhile, Washington has emphasized the Haqqani network’s links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Afghanistan will likely endure years more of conflict, and the United States will have to retain air power and special-operations forces to prop up the faltering Afghan National Army and to prevent the country from succumbing to its fissiparous tendencies. America will also almost certainly have to intervene repeatedly in Afghan politics in order to prevent political and ethnic rivalries from tearing the state apart, as they have done so often in the past, and—judging by what I saw and heard during recent visits to Afghanistan—as they are quite capable of doing again, even without the Taliban’s help.

China's Permanent Conflict Strategy Is A Stroke of Genius

August 9, 2016

Tokyo lodged a series of protests over the weekend regarding renewed Chinese activity in the disputed East China Sea. Japan has claimed that China recently installed a radar on a Chinese offshore gas platform.

Japan’s protests occurred after incursions by as many as 230 Chinese fishing vessels and six coast guard ships in contiguous zones surrounding the Senkakus on Saturday, and intrusions by two Chinese coast guard vessels into the territorial waters around the islets on Sunday. On Friday, eight Chinese fishing and coast guard vessels also reportedly entered territorial waters around the Senkakus. Tokyo, which administers and claims ownership over three of the Senkaku islets—Uotsuri, Kitakojima and Minamikojima—has been locked in a longstanding dispute with Beijing over the area, which is also claimed by Taiwan.

Japan’s foreign ministry has also revealed that China had installed an ocean radar system and surveillance cameras on one of the sixteen gas-drilling platforms it currently operates in international waters in the East China Sea. Tokyo has accused Beijing of breaking a bilateral cooperation agreement on co-exploration of gas reserves in the East China Sea by unilaterally developing the area. The foreign ministry said the radar, which Japan claims is similar the type normally found on patrol vessels, was discovered in June and called for the immediate removal of the equipment.

Beijing has refused to comment on the matter.

Chinese PLA SIGINT Collection Operations Against Taiwan: A Profile

August 9, 2016

PLA Eastern Theater Command Army SIGINT Operations Targeting Taiwan

One should assume that any electronic transmission on, into, and out of Taiwan – military or civilian – is subject to Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) signals intelligence (SIGINT) monitoring. The Eastern Theater Command (ETC) Army manages the PLA’s largest enterprise responsible for monitoring Taiwan’s command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, reconnaissance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) networks.

Before 1985, the SIGINT enterprise opposite Taiwan was designated as the Fuzhou Military Region (FZMR) 3rd Bureau. After the FZMR’s dissolution in 1985, the organization was incorporated into the Nanjing Military Region (NJMR) and designated as the NJMR 2nd Technical Reconnaissance Bureau (TRB). The NJMR was dissolved in January 2016, and supplanted by the ETC. The 2nd TRB (Unit 73630) has been reassigned to the ETC Army. It remains unknown if the unit retained its bureau (ju 局) designation. For the purposes of this discussion, the unit will be referred to as the ETC 2nd TRB.


The ETC Army 2nd TRB is a division leader grade organization headquartered in a fairly large compound within Fuzhou’s Cangshan District. Senior Colonel (SCOL) Zhou En (周恩) was assigned as director of the 2nd TRB in 2015, replacing Xu Yonggen (徐永根). SCOL Yang Longxi (杨龙溪; b. 1966) was assigned as political commissar in 2014. He previously served as political commissar of the Jinhua Military Sub-District (2013-2015) and deputy political commissar of 31st Group Army’s 86th Motorized Infanty Division. He replaced Zhai Weiping (翟卫平), who transferred to serve as political commissar of the ETC Army’s Sanjie Training Base.

Partnership Instead of Alliance: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a Mechanism for China’s Growing Influence in Central Asia

August 10, 2016

Partnership Instead of Alliance: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a Mechanism for China’s Growing Influence in Central Asia


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization reached a milestone with its fifteen-year anniversary celebrated at a summit in Tashkent this past June. Going forward, the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will expand its membership with India and Pakistan becoming full members in 2017. The strategic impact that India and Pakistan will bring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization should not go unnoticed by the United States and its allies. Security and economic cooperation in Central Asia have always been the top issues that drives the Shanghai Cooperation Organization into seeking more partnerships. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to explore, in some depth, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the implications of what these strategic partnerships will mean for Central Asia as well as for the United States, who still seeks to leverage influence in the region.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has made significant improvements to regional security and economic cooperation among its member states in Central Asia. This has enabled countries like Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to prosper from their membership. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an economic and politically influential organization considering that currently the full member and observer states possess 40% of the world’s population and have a hold on the world’s largest gas and oil reserves. It is also important to note that two members are nuclear powers.[1] India and Pakistan’s imminent inclusion will now add two more nuclear powers into the organization.

Central Asia has been under the Russian sphere of influence for over two hundred years.[2] The formation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in June of 2001, although welcomed by the member states as new opportunity for regional development, would still be perceived by Russia as a form of encroachment into its sovereign domain. Still problematic to the Central Asian States, however, is the threat of Islamic radicalization. China, experiencing similar problems with separatists in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region would promote security and stabilization in a partnership against terrorism, separatism, and extremism.[3]

Russia as a Partner and Stakeholder

Reinventing the Levant

August 9, 2016

AMERICAN POLICY toward the Middle East has been a dismal failure for the past thirty-five years, if not longer. Officials have approached policymaking in the Middle East without a clear sense of the region’s history, poverty, predominance of authoritarian rule or intraregional relationships. The failure begins with the concept of “separate peace”—the basis of the 1978–79 U.S.-sponsored negotiations between Egypt and Israel—which never led to a broader settlement. It has continued with Washington’s haphazard response to the tumult of the past five years since the Arab Spring, the rise of Daesh (ISIS) and the continuing stream of dislocations flowing from the invasion of Iraq. Each failure has only deepened the sense that the region is beyond repair. Hence, the American public and many elites are tempted by simplistic solutions—draw back from the region even further; deepen support for authoritarian regimes; take extreme measures to end refugee flows; provide Syrian rebels advanced arms; “carpet-bomb.” The sense of frustration is understandable, but doubling down on failed policies will not work.

There is a yearning for a more organic solution, one in which the governments and the people of the region have equal stakes. And, indeed, there is a model rooted in the region’s history that could be a solution. It enabled nearly four hundred years of peace and prosperity in the Levant. At its core is economic integration, with the free movement of goods and people across a broad swath of territory. Such an approach contrasts sharply with the present-day reality, to put it mildly. But the region is approaching a point of exhaustion, and the United States will have a new opportunity, as it did after the first Gulf War, to advance this model. It will find a receptive region. The habits of integration are deeply ingrained in Levantine culture and reside just beneath the surface, waiting to be tapped. A recent experiment suggests that this model is more than a historical artifact and can be successfully adapted to the modern context.

Diplomacy, Not Force, Was the Best Choice With Iran

August 9, 2016

On July 14 of this year, President Barack Obama and his administration celebrated by marking the one-year anniversary of the Iranian nuclear agreement's signing—an accord that has caused as much divisiveness in Washington as the Affordable Care Act. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry both marked the anniversary with personal statements: “the Iran deal,” Obama wrote, “has succeeded in rolling back Iran's nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.” Secretary Kerry made similar remarks: “as of today, one year later, a program that so many people said will not work, a program that people said is absolutely doomed to see cheating and be broken and will make the more dangerous, has, in fact, made the world safer.”

Whether or not one believes the Iranian nuclear agreement (otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was a principled stab at diplomacy or a political exercise that endangered U.S. national security depends on where one sits. Not one Republican lawmaker voted to approve the JCPOA when the accord was debated in Congress, but 93 percent of the Senate Democratic caucus assessed that the agreement was the best that Washington and its allies could do given the circumstances.

Unfortunately, the central lesson of the saga concerning the Iranian nuclear agreement on its first anniversary is being overlooked. And the lesson is this: when chosen as an option and invested by the United States government, good old-fashioned diplomacy is often the only thing standing in the way of further conflagration and armed conflict.

Is Saudi Arabia Pivoting Toward Iranian Radicals?

August 9, 2016

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal is used to being the point man in a difficult situation. In 1979, a group of radical extremists occupied the holy mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi Arabia’s chief spy, was one of the first to arrive in the city. He was nearly shot when a bullet slammed into a door he was opening. In the 1980s, Turki al-Faisal led Saudiefforts in support of the Afghan mujahedeen in their war against the Soviet occupiers. As ambassador to the United States from 2005–07, Turki al-Faisal was the Saudi point man in Washington during a difficult period in American-Saudi relations. During this tenure he visited thirty-seven states advocating for a robust Saudi-American relationship.

Turki al-Faisal appears to be Riyadh’s point man once again. Last month, the former head of Saudi intelligence called for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic at a meeting of the Iranian opposition in Paris. His remarks coupled with recent diplomatic moves signal a new tougher policy toward Iran from Saudi Arabia. Though officially retired from government, no member of the royal family had ever so publicly embraced the Iranian opposition or called for regime change in Tehran.

European Counterterrorism Intelligence Database Goes Online

August 8, 2016

European intelligence database seen aiding fight against suspected militants

A European counter-terrorism intelligence database designed to generate greater intelligence sharing among allies to avert deadly Islamist attacks has gone online after overcoming traditional reluctance by spy agencies to sharing information.

European officials were spurred into setting up the project by the Paris attacks last November by Islamist militants which exposed intelligence gaps. A total of 130 people were killed in those attacks.

Hosted by the Dutch intelligence service in the Hague, the database went live onJuly 1, the German Interior Ministry and the German domestic intelligence agency (BfV) said.

“The intelligence database will make it much easier and quicker to share information about possible threats,” said one intelligence official.

The database enables European intelligence agencies to share real-time information about suspected Islamist militants collected by members of the Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG), which groups all 28 European Union countries, Switzerland and Norway.

Its creation marks a step forward in the fight against Islamic State, which is focused increasingly on orchestrating large-scale and “lone wolf” attacks as it suffers setbacks and loses territory in Iraq and Syria.


August 7, 2016

To stop ISIS recruitment, conduct a Nuremberg-style ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ Trial of al-Baghdadi and his key henchmen — and brand their particular belief/philosophy as pariah & something to be reviled, just as we did the key Nazi enablers of Hitler’s Final Solution against the Jews. R.C. Porter, www.fortunascorner.com

To Stop ISIS Recruitment, Focus Offline

Editor’s Note: The Islamic State emerged as social media was taking off around the globe, and endless news stories and pundit commentary discusses its skill at mastering this new form of communication. While the ubiquity of Islamic State social media propaganda is clear, its effect is more contested. Seamus Hughes of George Washington’s Program on Extremism argues the role of the Internet is real but overblown. If we want to stop terrorist recruitment, it still requires a focus on stopping in-person contact.

Much has been written about how groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have perfected the use of the Internet to radicalize and recruit followers. Recent congressional testimony has warned about ISIS sympathizers “swimming in a virtual sea of jihadist recruits, cheerleaders, and fellow travelers who are available for interaction with him or her 24/7.” Recently, a U.S. Attorney, announcing the sentencing of an ISIS follower, stated, “Terrorist organizations that reach into our nation via social media and other online recruiting efforts continue to pose a grave threat to our national security.”

ISIS Intel Was Cooked, House Panel Finds


A leading U.S. general pressured his intelligence analysts into playing down the ISIS and al Qaeda threats, according to a congressional task force.

A House Republican task force has found that officials from the U.S. military’s Central Command altered intelligence reports to portray the U.S. fight against ISIS and al Qaeda in a more positive light than lower-level analysts believed was warranted by the facts on the ground, three officials familiar with the task force’s findings told The Daily Beast.

A roughly 10-page report on the controversy is expected to be released by the end of next week, two officials said. While it contains no definitive evidence that senior Obama administration officials ordered the reports to be doctored, the five-month investigation did corroborate earlier reports that analysts felt the leaders of CENTCOM’s intelligence directorate pressured them to conclude that the threat from ISIS was not as ominous as the analysts believed, the officials said.

“The investigation is ongoing but the report substantiates the claims” that intelligence reports were altered, one official familiar with the report explained to The Daily Beast. Another official said that the investigation could remain open even after report is released.

Watch Out, NATO: Turkey and Russia Might Team Up

August 9, 2016

As Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan conclude their much-anticipated August 9 “make-up” meeting, comfortable certainties about global politics might be crumbling faster than previously thought. Putin is the first head of state to meet with Erdogan since the failed July 15 coup, demonstrating the Russian president’s skill at being first to the punch and establishing “facts on the ground” while Western policymakers remain mired in contradiction and inaction. Among Turks, Putin has an extremely receptive audience for his platform of anti-Americanism and a recalibration of the existing world order, pushing the West into its usual role of reaction and damage control.

Responses around the world to the coup and to Erdogan’s broad sweep against opposing forces within Turkey following the coup have been mixed. Even so, Turkey’s path towards joining the European Union has taken another tortuous turn. Turkey’s position within NATO, sacrosanct since 1952, may be under scrutiny. Most significantly, Turkey’s relationship with the United States is in desperate straits, with Erdogan and other senior leaders making repeated accusations against America in relation to the coup. This fallout has pushed Turkey further from the West than at any point since the end of the Cold War. The separation represents a major opportunity for Putin to exploit. Two of the world’s most arrogant, aggressive and authoritarian strongmen may realize that cooperation rather than antagonism is their best option. For the West, the difficulties inherent in such a promising partnership are severe, leaving the potential for a dramatic geopolitical reorganization.

How the Pentagon Became Walmart

AUGUST 9, 2016 

Our armed services have become the one-stop shop for America’s policymakers. But asking warriors to do everything poses great dangers for our country — and the military. 

When my mother came for lunch at the Pentagon, I shepherded her through the visitor’s entrance, maneuvered her onto the escalator, and had just ushered her past the chocolate shop when she stopped short. I stopped too, letting an army of crisply uniformed officers and shirt-sleeved civilians flow past us down the corridor. Taking in the Pentagon’s florist shop, the banks, the nail salon, ­and the food court, my mother finally looked back at me. “So the heart of American military power is a shopping mall?”

She wasn’t far off. By the time I started working at the Defense Department in the early years of the Obama administration, the Pentagon’s 17.5 miles of corridors had sprouted dozens of shops and restaurants catering to the building’s 23,000 employees. And, over time, the U.S. military has itself come to offer a similar one-stop shopping experience to the nation’s top policymakers.

At the Pentagon, you can buy a pair of new running shoes or order the Navy to search for Somali pirates.

Russia’s superior new weapons

By Robert H. Scales 
August 5 2016

A Ukrainian soldier, left, and two U.S. soldiers climb on an armored military vehicle as they attend joint military exercises at the Yavoriv training ground, near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, on July 4. 

Robert H. Scales is a retired Army major general, a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College and the author of the forthcoming book “Scales on War.” 

In November, while visiting the headquarters of the U.S. Army in Europe, I received a briefing on the performance of the Russian army in Ukraine. In a perfunctory tone, the young intelligence briefer recited the details of the July 2014 Battle of Zelenopillya, in which a single Russian artillery “fire strike” almost destroyed two Ukrainian mechanized battalions in a few minutes. 

I couldn’t help imagining a U.S. armored battalion subjected to a similar fire strike. I realized then that Ukraine had become Russia’s means for showcasing what might happen if we ever fought a firepower-intensive battle against it. “You know, guys,” I mused in the moment, “this is the first time since the beginning of the Cold War that an American war-fighting function has been bested by a foreign military.” 

This revelation was all the more disturbing because artillery firepower has been a centerpiece of U.S. land warfare for almost a century. At Normandy, the Germans had nothing good to say about the quality of U.S. armor and infantry. But they feared U.S. artillery. The Germans could not mass fire across unit boundaries. But an American invention, the coordinated-fire “time on target,” could bring hundreds of guns to bear on a single target, delivering thousands of rounds simultaneously. The effect on the Germans was devastating. 

Guns Of August: Fears Of Full-Scale War Return As Casualties Mount In Ukraine

Christopher Miller 

MARYINKA, Ukraine -- Framed by a tiny cutout in the fortified bunker, this particular piece of no-man's land is tinted a blood-reddish orange by the setting summer sun.

It's hot as hell, and it's about to get hotter. When the sun goes down, the guns start blazing. And all that separates the men at their triggers is a grassy patch of land the size of a soccer field that is heavily mined. If you're a Ukrainian soldier here, you don't need binoculars to observe the enemy -- you just look in his direction.

It starts with a single shot from a Kalashnikov: Ziiip. Then another: Ziiip. And three more: Ziiip. Ziiip. Ziiip. Each shot whizzes dangerously closer. In the time it takes to boil an egg, the situation escalates as the rifles are joined by .50-caliber machine guns, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades that explode with hollow thuds against the earth or cottages where the soldiers eat and sleep, showering everything with shrapnel. Within an hour, shells from howitzers and tanks -- and eventually surface-to-surface Grad missiles, whose name is Russian for "hail" -- begin pummeling the scarred steppe.

Reload. Fire. Repeat

The "disco," as the soldiers and the few residents left in this forsaken town call it, is in full effect. The relative calm that dawn brings seems a lifetime away. All are at the mercy of the darkness.

Brexit was nothing compared to what's coming

Jim Rogers
Aug. 7, 2016

The last two months alone have seen Britain leaving the European Union, terror attacks, cop killings, Deutsche Bank nearly collapsing, the German long term interest rates set at negative, to name a few.

But over the next couple of years, it’s going to get a whole lot worse. As economies worsen, there will be more social unrest, more angry people, and crazier politicians. Somebody will try to come along on a white horse to save us all, but she usually makes it worse.

Are we at a point right now where it feels like it’s accelerating. People all over are very unhappy about what’s going on. If you read history, there are a lot of similarities between now and the 1920s and ’30s. That’s when fascism and communism broke out in much of the world. And a lot of the same issues are popping up again.

Brexit could be a triggering moment. This is another step in an ongoing deterioration of events. It’s also an important turning point because it now means the central banks are going to print even more money. That may prop the markets up in the short term.

We have a strange economy. Markets look like they’re fine. But underneath the surface, most stocks are not doing well. Most stocks around the world are down. Most stocks in the United States are down. In 2015, when the market averages were flat, twice as many stocks were down on the New York stock exchange as were up. And in the last nine months, earnings are down in the United States. A recession is starting, it is already in place. But if you look at the averages and the bond market, they still go up.

Tensions High Amid Russian Military Buildup In Crimea

August 08, 2016

Crimean Tatar activists have reported armed checkpoints being erected at scattered sites around the peninsula.

Tensions are reportedly high among residents of northern Crimea as long convoys of heavy Russian weaponry continue to be sighted not far from the occupied peninsula’s border with the Ukrainian mainland.

Crimean Tatar activists have reported armed checkpoints being erected at scattered sites around the peninsula, and unusually large concentrations of Russian hardware in northern regions.

The border crossing between Ukraine proper and the Russian-annexed peninsula had been shut for several hours on August 7, causing long backups of traffic.

Photos and videos posted on the website of the Crimean Human Rights Group, a local nongovernmental organization, showed Russian military trucks being transported on trains on August 6 near Kerch, an eastern port town that is opposite Russia’s Stavropol territory.

Vadim Skibitsky, a representative of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s military intelligence division, told the online news portal Ukrayinska Pravda that the movement of troops and equipment appeared related to upcoming a major Russian military exercise called Kavkaz 2016 slated to begin next month.

Largely Unnoticed, Full-Scale War May Be Returning to Ukraine

Aug. 04 2016 — 19:38

A woman inspects debris while standing outside her damaged house, which according to locals was caused by recent shelling, in the village of Staromikhailovka, outside the separatist-held city of Donetsk, Ukraine. Alexander Ermochenko / Reuters

Whilst the world’s attention is focused on Syria, the U.S. election and the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, eastern Ukraine once again teeters on the unthinkable. Last month was the deadliest the region has seen in over a year, sparking growing fears of the conflict re-escalating to its previous intensity.

The conflict has killed 10,000 people since it began in April 2014. While casualties have continued at a much reduced level since spring 2015, in recent months both sides have returned to using heavy artillery, including howitzers and ‘grad’ multiple rocket launchers. In July, the United Nations reported that eight died and 65 were injured.

With escalating violence, it is getting much harder for international organizations to monitor the situation. Humanitarian assistance missions have also been hindered by the military up-tick and political problems with de facto authorities in the separatist statelets of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Just last week, monitors from the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were held at gunpoint by separatist forces. “The escalation of hostilities and the accompanying civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine over the last two months are very worrying,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a recent report.

Imp Papers

· The American Professional Military Ethic: Ephemeral and Unenforceable? http://www.fpri.org/article/2016/08/american-professional-military-ethic-ephemeral-unenforceable/

Final Report of the Cybersecurity Subcommittee: Part II - State, Local, Tribal & Territorial https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/HSAC_Cybersecurity_SLTT_FINAL_Report.pdf

New Spyware System Called STRIDER Has Been Found That Targets Russian and Chinese Companies

August 8, 2016

New spyware detected targeting firms in Russia, China: Symantec

A previously unknown hacking group variously dubbed “Strider” or “ProjectSauron” has carried out cyber-espionage attacks against select targets in Russia, China, Iran, Sweden, Belgium and Rwanda, security researchers said on Monday.

The group, which has been active since at least 2011 and could have links to a national intelligence agency, uses Remsec, an advanced piece of hidden malware, Symantec researchers said in a blog post (symc.ly/2aTHoOm).

Remsec spyware lives within an organization’s network rather than being installed on individual computers, giving attackers complete control over infected machines, researchers said. It enables keystroke logging and the theft of files and other data.

Its code also contains references to Sauron, the all-seeing title character in The Lord of the Rings, Symantec said. Strider is the nickname of the fantasy trilogy’s widely traveled main character Aragorn.

Separately, Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab has labeled the same group using the Remsec spyware as “ProjectSauron” (bit.ly/2b0YtqV).

The newly discovered group’s targets include four organizations and individuals located in Russia, an airline in China, an organization in Sweden and an embassy in Belgium, Symantec said.

U.S. Cyber Arsenal Is Smaller Than Imagined — On Purpose

August 09, 2016

The United States government may be stockpiling far fewer digital arms than anyone expected, according to new research.

The study centers around “zero day” exploits, which are soft spots in product security that companies are not aware of or have not patched. Depending on the severity of a vulnerability, zero days sell on the slightly-more-legal-than-black market known as a gray market for tens of thousands to more than a million dollars a piece.

Governments are the primary buyers of zero days and spend vast resources researching them. Since the U.S. is not short on capital and invests heavily into its offensive cyberwarfare positions, even people in the zero day business assumed it held a few hundreds of these vulnerabilities.

“Today, the best, surest 0-days acquirer is the [National Security Agency], in truth a really insatiable one,” David Vincenzetti, founder and CEO of the military spyware contractor Hacking Team wrote in one his company’s emails leaked last year.

“Today, the largest 0-days producers are U.S. companies, possibly large U.S. defense contractors, selling their stuff directly and possibly exclusively to the NSA.”

But new research shows that might not be the case.

Pentagon Claims Russia Creating Bionic Superhuman Soldiers With Brain Implants

August 7, 2016

Turns out that the Pentagon appears to be speaking about programs they have sanctioned under DARPA in addition to similar efforts by the British military which have pretty close to nothing to do with Russia.

Top American military officials claim that Moscow is working to create “enhanced human operations” technology they say “scares the crap” out of them with the specter of stronger, faster, and more deadly super soldiers on the horizon according to the latest musings from the Pentagon.In the bid to develop a superior fighting force, most countries are looking to weapons based around robotics, lasers and exoskeletons to create a real-life Iron Man, but the US military officials, perhaps in a bout of propaganda, suggest that Russia is focused on also augmenting human biology – think more X-Men than Iron Man – in order to create the most deadly fighting force in the world.

“Our adversaries, quite frankly, are pursuing enhanced human operations and it scares the crap out of us,” said US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.

Australia's Controversial Census in Chaos After Possible Cyber Attack

AUG. 10, 2016

SYDNEY — Australia's first online national census was in chaos on Wednesday after the survey website crashed overnight due to a possible cyber attack, raising concerns over the country's cyber security and criticism of its slow internet services.

"It was an attack and we believe from overseas," Australia’s chief statistician, David Kalisch told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.

Kalisch said that no data from the 2.3 million forms already submitted to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) had been stolen. "We have it at the ABS. No one else has it," he said.

The census provides a snapshot every five years of the living conditions of Australia's 24 million people, detailing incomes, religious and ethnic backgrounds, marital status, etc.

The minister responsible for the survey, Michael McCormack, refused to call the online crash an attack, but rather a "denial of service attempt" when the website was deliberately overloaded.

He said the site was equipped to handle heavy traffic, but there was a spike in visitors so steep that a router overloaded and the website was closed as a precaution.

Fund Israel's Military, Not Its Settlements

August 9, 2016

ON JUNE 19, 2016 the Israeli cabinet approved an additional 82 million shekels (about $20 million) for Jewish settlements in the West Bank. At roughly the same time, it was reported that President Obama was seeking to phase out the Offshore Procurement (OSP) program that permits Israel, unlike any other country, to spend just over 26 percent of its total aid package on indigenously produced weapons, equipment and other military products. That program currently totals $815 million, more than twice what the United States spends on any other country, bar Egypt. It has enabled Israel to become a major international arms supplier, at times even competing with American firms for third-country contracts.

There was no linkage between the two announcements. But there should be. Money is fungible, and the money that Washington provides Israel for domestic defense-industrial spending allows Jerusalem to divert funds from its defense-technology accounts to support its settlement projects in the West Bank.

Estimates of just how much Israel spends to support West Bank settlements vary widely, in part because the Israeli Finance Ministry buries its funding of settlements in a variety of accounts. A conservative estimate of spending on West Bank settlements in the past few years amounts to no less than $250 million annually. It is that sum that is indirectly provided by the United States by means of OSP funding.

Flying Autonomous Robots: The Future of Air Combat?


If a new study is accurate, drones of the future will not need a human controller – and could in fact defeat a human in a dogfight.

“It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment,” said former Air Force battle manager Gene Lee, referring to a recent simulations against battle-AI software, according to Breaking Defense.

Lee, a highly-experienced, retired USAF pilot, has flown thousands of operations and spent more than two decades fighting artificially intelligent opponents in flight simulators.

“It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed,” Lee said, describing his recent test against ALPHA, AI software designed by a company called Psibernetix.

The AI was able to consistently defeat Lee. While the software has not yet been tested aboard an actual aircraft, the results beg the question: Are autonomous, lethal robots the future of air combat?

“The capability described isn’t ready for prime time in a fighter yet, but it is just like any technology, it will advance way beyond current capabilities,” UAV expert Dave Deptula told Breaking Defense.

Tiny Drones Win Over Army Grunts; Big Bots? Not So Much

by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. 

A soldier holds a PD-100 mini-drone during the PACMAN-I experiment in Hawaii.

Tiny drones, no bigger than your palm, were the big stars of an Army experiment in Hawaii, participants told Breaking Defense. Larger groundrobots, however, struggled in the jungle.

Staff Sergeant James Roe told me he was “blown away” by the PD-100 Black Hornet, a commercially available mini-drone used in PACMAN-I (Pacific Manned-Unmanned Initiative, part of the Pacific Pathways exercises). “That was a system that we could actually take right now…on the battlefield,” Roe said. “Some of these other systems, as with any electronics and robotics, there are some things that have to be worked out.”

Army Secretary Eric Fanning checks out a robot at PACMAN-I.

Ground robots got particularly mixed reviews. They helped haul equipment for the chronically overloaded infantry, and some could even fire a remote-controlled machinegun, but the tracked ‘bots couldn’t keep up with foot troops over rough terrain.

“There are numerous places, at least on this island, where that SMET (Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport) cannot go,” said Broc Garner, like Roe a staff sergeant in Bravo Company, 2/27 Infantry. In a mission over rough ground, said Garner, “at a certain point, we’re going to have to either abandon this machine …. or leave two people with it” on guard.

That’s manpower a platoon can’t spare. Indeed, just dedicating troops to operate the remote-controlled machines was a big burden on the small units, Garner said.

A soldier guides a Punisher unmanned ground vehicle during PACMAN-I in Hawaii.