19 August 2016

*** Army building command post of the future A changing mission focus has sparked calls for a re-envisioned command post.


The Army’s command post is an unwieldy nest, strung with hundreds of feet of cable, stacked with towers of transit cases and populated by a jumble of computer servers and terminals. It takes an entire platoon of soldiers a day to build one.
As the service envisions a future in which quick-response units perform in expeditionary mode, these hulking nerve centers no longer seem appropriate.
Technology advances might help lighten the equipment load, or clean up the tangle of cables typical of today's command posts.

“It has gotten very large, very difficult to move,” said Mike McCarthy, director of the LandWarNet Division of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Army Capabilities and Integration Center (ARCIC). “They are going to have to be able to move quickly in order to survive. They have to be less vulnerable, less detectable.”
While a changing mission focus has sparked calls for a re-envisioned command post (CP), new technologies simultaneously have emerged to enable the necessary changes. Now a wide-ranging team from across the Army’s acquisition, requirements, operational and research and development communities is laying the groundwork for what the service refers to as Command Post 2025.
In February 2016 Army leadership called for initial investigations. Program Executive Office -- Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) took the helm in May and leaders say they aim to produce a capabilities development document by early 2018, with an eye toward beginning system engineering and development in fiscal 2020.

While much has yet to be determined about the new CP, some things are clear. Officials know, for instance, that planners are looking to create a CP experience that will be consistent for all users.
“When a soldier performs a function in one place, then he goes to a different environment, the tools in that new environment should be very similar if not identical,” said Col. Mike Ernst, TRADOC capability manager, mission command (MC)/command posts.
Another key element for the command post of the future: The computer will be the main driver of transformation.

The brains
The Army says its evolving Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE) will consolidate and simplify command post hardware and software, while simultaneously creating a common user experience.
“It is going to be imperative that we get that right,” said Lynn Epperson, project lead, command post integrated infrastructure. Epperson called CPCE “the absolute heart” of the command post overhaul.
CPCE will provide a user-friendly hub for mission command software and intelligence applications. The systems will deliver a web-based interface with a familiar look and feel, similar to the commercial applications one might encounter on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
The service is looking to the new system to break down silos within CP activities. Today most essential functions within the command post – intelligence operations, fires, logistics, maneuvering – are controlled via independent systems, and operators cannot easily switch from one activity to another.

*** China's Investments Reveal Its Broader Ambitions

-- this post authored by Zhixing Zhang
In November 1979, the Jinghe Share Holding Co. opened its doors in Tokyo, marking China's first overseas investment and the start of the country's transformative economic opening. Today, China has become the world's second-largest investor and biggest supplier of capital. While other markets are in recession, China's economy continues to grow, however slowly. Without question, the gravity of China's economy, coupled with its ever-expanding reach into global affairs, will secure its place of influence in the international system for decades to come.

But the sort of presence Beijing seeks abroad is evolving. For China, as for most countries, investment and acquisition are key components of its strategy for development and, to some extent, national security. Yet as China embarks on the long path leading away from an export-based model of economic growth and toward one dependent on domestic consumption, its investment priorities are shifting. Beijing is gradually replacing its focus on snatching up the developing world's energy and natural resources with an emphasis on acquiring the developed world's value-added industry assets. At the same time, the government's traditional dominance in outward investment is weakening, making room for private enterprises to invest alongside their state-owned peers. Furthermore, China is becoming more careful about its investment decisions, trading a frenzy of hasty purchases for a careful search for quality buys.

By all appearances, China's actions have consistently conformed with these trends for the past two years, even as the scale and size of its investments overseas have steadily risen. But perhaps more important, the new phase of its investment strategy reflects a deeper transformation underway - a change in China's vision of its place in the world.
China 'Goes Out' Into the World
For many years, China's renown as a "global factory" attracted investors from far and wide. Foreign funds were its bread and butter and, in Beijing's eyes, the key to gaining the technology, capital and assistance it needed to build up its fledgling economy. Though China longed to make its mark abroad, Beijing did not begin to systematically invest in or acquire its own projects in other countries until the late 1990s, when it launched its "go out" initiative to expand its economic footprint overseas.
Despite its delayed start, Chinese foreign investment has surged over the past decade. Beijing's insignificant portfolio - worth about $2.9 billion in 2003 and accounting for only 0.45 percent of global investment - climbed to a record-high of $120 billion by 2015 and included many different nations.

POK-ing Pakistan: Why It Must Amount To More Than Just Bluster & Optics

R Jagannathan - August 16, 2016, 

Now that Prime Minister Modi has brought up POK not once, but twice, in recent times, we should look to get both our strategy and articulation right.
Strategy must flow from end-goals, our known or future capabilities and a realistic assessment of the enemy’s capabilities and motivations and so on.
Most important, though, is that we tie J&K inextricably to India’s growth story in such ways as education and job creation.
Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to up the ante with our self-destructive neighbour, it is important to get both our strategy and articulation right. Not once, but twice, including in his Independence Day speech, Modi raised India’s concerns about human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. In the short run, this will certainly worsen Pakistani belligerence and terrorism, and so we must brace for it.
But what exactly is our strategy? If it is mere tit-for-tat simply because Pakistan is creating trouble for us in Jammu & Kashmir, then it will not go far. It may even become counter-productive. Reason: Pakistan has its terror network up and running while we may be all bluster and no plan. For a strategy to work, it must be long-term in nature, capable of being accepted as reasonable by the international community and must have exit options in case things go wrong.
Strategy must flow from end-goals, whether articulated or covert, and also our known or future capabilities, a realistic assessment of the enemy’s capabilities and motivations, and an overarching clarity about why we are taking this position now.

The reason for us to up the ante should be this: you can’t meet the challenge of an unreasonable and rabid, anti-status-quo power by offering compromises and goodwill. You have to defeat it both psychologically and militarily. You don’t win against a fascist force by signing “peace in our time” deals. With Pakistan, which is dedicated to bleeding us with a thousand cuts, peace is not even an option – except for the photo-ops, which have their own value. So far the war has been fought on Pakistan’s terms; it is time to prosecute the war on more even terms.
The first thing to understand is that there is no hurry. This is going to be a long war of attrition, and direction, not speed, will be of the essence. And our first priority must be to protect our flanks and weak spots - which means dealing with the violence in the Kashmir Valley politically and economically. This does not mean more concessions to the “azaadi” stone-pelters. It means engaging with all actors – Kashmiris, including POK residents, Jammu residents, Ladakhis and Pandits – and emphasising that India will never relinquish Jammu & Kashmir.
But we also need to give this positive message: that as India devolves more and more power to states, Jammu & Kashmir too would benefit from this form of “azaadi”. Its future, or that of any Indian state, will not be substantially decided from Delhi.

*** How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers


How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers
A jailhouse interview with a German man who joined the Islamic State reveals the workings of a unit whose lieutenants are empowered to plan attacks around the world.

BREMEN, Germany — Believing he was answering a holy call, Harry Sarfo left his home in the working-class city of Bremen last year and drove for four straight days to reach the territory controlled by the Islamic State in Syria.
He barely had time to settle in before members of the Islamic State’s secret service, wearing masks over their faces, came to inform him and his German friend that they no longer wanted Europeans to come to Syria. Where they were really needed was back home, to help carry out the group’s plan of waging terrorism across the globe.
“He was speaking openly about the situation, saying that they have loads of people living in European countries and waiting for commands to attack the European people,” Mr. Sarfo recounted on Monday, in an interview with The New York Times conducted in English inside the maximum-security prison near Bremen. “And that was before the Brussels attacks, before the Paris attacks.”
The masked man explained that, although the group was well set up in some European countries, it needed more attackers in Germany and Britain, in particular. “They said, ‘Would you mind to go back to Germany, because that’s what we need at the moment,’” Mr. Sarfo recalled. “And they always said they wanted to have something that is occurring in the same time: They want to have loads of attacks at the same time in England and Germany and France.”

The operatives belonged to an intelligence unit of the Islamic State known in Arabic as the Emni, which has become a combination of an internal police force and an external operations branch, dedicated to exporting terror abroad, according to thousands of pages of French, Belgian, German and Austrian intelligence and interrogation documents obtained by The Times.
The Islamic State’s attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 brought global attention to the group’s external terrorism network, which began sending fighters abroad two years ago. Now, Mr. Sarfo’s account, along with those of other captured recruits, has further pulled back the curtain on the group’s machinery for projecting violence beyond its borders.
What they describe is a multilevel secret service under the overall command of the Islamic State’s most senior Syrian operative, spokesman and propaganda chief, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Below him is a tier of lieutenants empowered to plan attacks in different regions of the world, including a “secret service for European affairs,” a “secret service for Asian affairs” and a “secret service for Arab affairs,” according to Mr. Sarfo.

Reinforcing the idea that the Emni is a core part of the Islamic State’s operations, the interviews and documents indicate that the unit has carte blanche to recruit and reroute operatives from all parts of the organization — from new arrivals to seasoned battlefield fighters, and from the group’s special forces and its elite commando units. Taken together, the interrogation records show that operatives are selected by nationality and grouped by language into small, discrete units whose members sometimes only meet one another on the eve of their departure abroad.
And through the coordinating role played by Mr. Adnani, terror planning has gone hand-in-hand with the group’s extensive propaganda operations — including, Mr. Sarfo claimed, monthly meetings in which Mr. Adnani chose which grisly videos to promote based on battlefield events.
Based on the accounts of operatives arrested so far, the Emni has become the crucial cog in the group’s terrorism machinery, and its trainees led the Paris attacks and built the suitcase bombs used in a Brussels airport terminal and subway station. Investigation records show that its foot soldiers have also been sent to Austria, Germany, Spain, Lebanon, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Narendra Modi steadily improving his reforms scorecard
Recent set of reforms are important institutional changes for the long run
Narendra Modi needs to start working on the next set of reforms that may get executed only after 2019. Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint

No Narendra Modi speech is complete without a spattering of alliterative tricks, rhetorical flourishes and strange acronyms that would make a management consultant proud. These are admired and mocked in equal measure.
During his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Monday, the prime minister said that his mantra was to “reform, perform and transform”. He gave an impressive list of achievements to back his claim. For example, easier access to government services, faster approvals of new business enterprises, reducing the stranglehold of middlemen over the appointment of new entrants into government jobs at the lower levels, less harassment of taxpayers by officials, and much more.
This was Modi at his best. His ability as a good administrator is widely recognized. His personal popularity has also given him the political capital to take tough decisions rather than compulsively pander to electoral populism. All but his worst critics will agree that corruption at the very pinnacle of government has been curtailed. In other words, a lot of the focus has been—in terms of the mantra to reform, perform and transform—on performance.

There has been less confidence about the ability of the Modi government to reform—not to work more efficiently within the existing rules of the game but to actually alter the rules of the game. Yet, the record on this front actually looks far better than six months ago, and has perhaps not been adequately appreciated. Since the beginning of the year, the Modi government has pushed through several landmark changes that can be game-changers.
First, the new monetary policy framework legally binds Indian monetary policy to a formal inflation target. Second, the passage of the Aadhaar Bill creates a unique opportunity to ensure that welfare schemes reach the people they are meant to help. Third, the bankruptcy law deals with what has been called the problem of capitalism without exit. Fourth, the introduction of a goods and services tax will radically overhaul the indirect tax system, make it less distortionary and help create a common market across the country. Fifth, a committee has begun work on a new fiscal law that should reduce the perverse tendency of running a pro-cyclical fiscal policy.

** Understanding Pakistan’s Balochistan problem

August 16, 2016 
ReutersA Pakistani security official stands near a burning vehicle after it was attacked in Chaman in Pakistan's Balochistan province, along the Afghan border on May 19, 2010.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to Balochistan in his Independence Day speech signals an aggressive shift in India’s approach towards Pakistan. The Prime Minister, while addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi, said, “I am grateful to the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK who have thanked me in the past few days.” Last week, in an all-party meeting on the unrest in Kashmir, Mr. Modi had said, “The time has come for Pakistan to answer the world, on atrocities against people in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.” The Indian strategy could be drawing the global attention towards one of the oldest internal problems of Pakistan.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest, but least developed province, which is home to over 13 million people, mostly Balochis. The roots of the conflict, like India’s Kashmir issue, go back to the country’s independence. When Pakistan was born in 1947, the rulers of the Khanate of Kalat, which was a princely state under the British and part of today’s Balochistan, refused to join the new nation. Pakistan sent troops in March 1948 to annex the territory. Though Yar Khan, the then ruler of Kalat, later signed a treaty of accession, his brothers and followers continued to fight, triggering the first conflict between Balochis and the Pakistani Army. So far, there were five waves of insurgencies. After the 1948 rebellion was put down, crisis erupted in 1958. In 1962-63 and 1973-77, there were violent campaigns by theBaloch nationalists for independence from Pakistan. The two decades after that was the calmest period in the history of Balochistan.

But tensions started building up after General Parvez Musharraf seized power in 1999. When the military started building new cantonments in Balochistan, it was seen by radical nationalist factions as a bid by the Army to tighten control over the region. The fifth wave of insurgency that broke out in this context is still on. There are several separatist groups in the province. The strongest among them is the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), designated as a terrorist group by Pakistan and the U.K. Islamabad has claimed that India is backing the BLA.

Insurgency and human rights violations
According to a WikiLeaks cable, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the former Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), said in a presentation to parliamentarians (which was later shared with the U.S.) that India, Russia and the UAE are backing insurgency in Balochistan. Mr. Pasha said India had set up nine training camps along the Afghan border, where they were training members of the BLA. The Baloch Republican Party, led by Brahmdagh Bugti, the grandson of Akbar Bugti, and the Baloch Liberation Front are the other two major nationalist groups operating in the province.
The Balochi nationalists accuse Islamabad of deliberately keeping the mineral-rich province poor, while Pakistan’s rulers say the pace of development is slow due to insurgency. But a bigger allegation that the Pakistan is facing, and something which Prime Minister Modi tried to highlight in his Independence Day speech, is the large-scale human rights violations in the region, both by the Army and the militants. Every time there’s unrest in the region, the Pakistani Army used brute force to retain order. Even the Air Force was used against the civilian population many times.

Defence university: Why INDU might end up as just another bureaucratic coup

Prakash Katoch Aug 16, 2016 

The Draft Indian National Defence University (INDU), 2015 has been placed online for public comments. The Ministry of Defence website among other things says that the Bill proposes: to establish a world class fully autonomous institution of national importance under defence ministry; it will be a teaching and affiliating university for the existing training institutions of the three Services, which will develop and propagate higher education in National Security Studies, Defence Management and Defence Technology and promote policy oriented research on all aspects relating to national security, both internal and external. It would also cater for open and distance learning program for service personnel deployed in far flung areas and it will inculcate and promote coordination and interaction between the Armed Forces and other government agencies including friendly foreign countries.

Considering that the idea of INDU was first conceived in 1967, endorsed by the K Subhramanyam headed Committee on the National Defence University (CONDU) in 2002, and the fact that it was to be established in seven years time (by 2008), passage of the Bill will be a feather in the cap of the Modi government, akin to sanctioning OROP notwithstanding controversy whether a single OROP or multiple OROPs was granted. Public comments on the Draft INDU Bill 2015 are reportedly being sought after it has already been approved by the defency ministry, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs. It would have been useful if public comments were asked before approval of these ministries. In all probability, the defence ministry will seek Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approval of the Draft Bill without making any worthwhile changes and then table it in Parliament during the forthcoming winter session. Land for INDU was acquired at Manesar, Gurgaon in September 2012 and infrastructure development has reportedly commenced in December 2015.

The Ministry of Defence would naturally maintain that discussions on INDU have been held with the Services, which is true. But what the public will never know is what was discussed, what the military recommended and how much of it was rejected by the bureaucracy. For example while the National Defence College (NDC) under the defence ministry is to be affiliated to INDU, military wanted the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) also functioning under the ministry also be affiliated to INDU but this was rejected. But then the defence ministry is adept in such stonewalling. The military’s recommendations for the 7th Central Pay Commission were shot down at the defence secretary level. On the behest of the defence ministry the 7th Pay Commission sought recommendations from Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) but used only a miniscule percentage of what IDSA recommended. The service chiefs combined letter protesting acceptance of 7th Pay Commission bringing armed forces below civil services has been palmed off to some committee without ever having addressed anomalies of 6th Pay Commission. These are routine bureaucratic ploys endorsed by the polity by default or design.

** No, Indians Don’t Lack The ‘Sports Genes’ Because There Is No Such Thing

Satyajit Sadanandan - August 16, 2016, 

Our country has produced world-class athletes like Milkha Singh and PT Usha, so any suggestion that Indians are not suited for international sports is laughable and needs to be nipped in the bud.
Dipa Karmakar created history as the first Indian gymnast to secure the fourth position in any Olympics. Her story follows a familiar script of many other Indian athletes, a saga of dedication overcoming severe lack of resources in her sporting journey.
Karmakar caught the nation’s attention after qualifying for the Olympics though she had some success at international events earlier. In coming so close to the medal, she has shown that Indian gymnasts can measure up to the world’s best and there is not so much an issue of lack of talent, as one of lack of facilities and coaching.
The winner of Karmakar’s event, Simone Biles is also rewriting history. And how! This was the 3rd Olympic gold for Biles, the first female gymnast from the US to do so in a single Olympics. Such is her dominance of the sport that many in the field are already proclaiming her as one of the greatest. By virtue of being an Afro-American and dominating the sport that saw a black woman win for the first time only in 2012 (Biles’s teammate Gabrielle Douglas), Biles is shattering long held stereotypes about the genetic ability of coloured gymnasts.
Her compatriot and namesake, Simone Manuel shattered a similar taboo in swimming on day seven by becoming the first black female swimmer to win at the Olympics. Swimming events are globally dominated by White or Chinese swimmers which has led to the stereotype that black swimmers are not good at the sport but Manuel’s success also proves that it is not so much the lack of a genetic ability for swimming among blacks, as much as the lack of access to the right resources and the socio-economic reasons behind it.
This brings me to this familiar coffee-table myth that usually pops up around every Olympics – Indians are genetically not suited to excel in certain sports. My previous article on fan attitudes to Indian Olympians generated the following comment:

Indians are simply not suited to international sports. They are ZERO at athletics (track and field), the prime sports grouping. Can Indians swim at all to acceptable standards? Sports failure is not just due to corruption and political interference. It is also attitudes, diet, stamina.
Attitude is a complex area which has internal (self-drive) and external dimensions and needs to be addressed separately.
Some people criticise the vegetarian diet of Indians and attribute that to lack of success. Not true. If this was the case, we wouldn’t have won medals in a physical sport like wrestling, where quite a few of our wrestlers like Sushil Kumar are vegetarians. The vegetarian diet may lack proteins or some vitamins (like B12) but even weekend runners these days know how to get them through supplements and we have a growing number of good sports nutritionists in India. In any case, many of our athletes are not vegetarian but the point is that this is not a factor in success. The bigger challenge for us going forward is to make sure that our athletes get the right nutritional advice and access from a very young age.

The idea of genes playing a big role in sporting success has been around since ages. It is an offshoot of the longstanding argument that certain ethnic groups are incapable of certain types of work. This theory has influenced history leading to racial stereotypes right upto the Second World War.

It is also a pillar of the eternal nature vs nurture debate that has spawned much research worldwide.
So far all such myths of genetic superiority have been steadily broken in most sports, as in the cases of swimming and gymnastics above with the success of the coloured athletes (and of course Dipa Karmakar). China and Japan have also been fairly successful in both sports, so it is hard to believe that only Indians would be left out by nature.

Google Rules The West, Baidu Top In China

by Felix Richter, Statista.com
-- this post authored by Martin Armstrong
In the USA and Europe, Google absolutely dominates the search engine market with the likes of Yahoo and Bing left to play mere bit parts.
From its Mountain View headquarters in California, Google can also lay claim to predominantly being the search market leader in the rest of the world.
There are, however, some exceptions. In China, Baidu is the undisputed number one. In 2010, Google withdrew from the country due to censorship issues and has since then had no access to one of the largest advertising markets in the world. According to a forecast from the Statista Digital Market Outlook, 26.5 percent of all search engine advertising revenue is generated in China. That adds up to more than 24 billion US dollars.

This infographic shows search engine market shares based on traffic in July 2016

You will find more statistics at Statista.

A Proxy War Between India And Pakistan Is Under Way In Afghanistan


General Larry Nicholson (L) shakes hands with an Afghan provincial official in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. (ANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Important but overlooked news this week: the U.S. command in Afghanistanhas asked India to step up military aid to Afghan forces. India provided four attack helicopters to the Afghan military in Dec. 2015; the U.S. and the Afghans want more, as well as spare parts for Russian-made military equipment, to be used in part against the Islamist network built up by Pakistan called the Haqqanis.
Every aspect of this cries: “Proxy War.” To New Delhi came General John Nicholson, a four-star general serving as the commander in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. When I was in Afghanistan in 2011 while serving on the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, I met Nicholson’s predecessor, and saw his immense scope of military and diplomatic responsibility. Who met with Nicholson: India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, and Defense Secretary G. Mohan Kumar. This is a joint war command for deciding India’s course in the proxy war.

Second, a very ingenious opening wartime mode of supply has been arranged. The Afghan Air Force still uses MI-25 Russian attack copters (among others), because many of their air and ground crews trained on copters inherited in the 1980s from the puppet Russian regime, for which parts are scarce. As General Nicholson said: “The Afghans have asked for more of these helicopters. There is an immediate need for more. When these aircraft come in, they immediately get into the fight.” Note twice the term “immediate.” When the U.S. military commander in charge, the four-star general, says “immediate” twice, he is telling his troops that their butts will be in a sling unless it gets done yesterday, if not earlier.
General Nicholson went on: “We are building the Afghan Air Forces as a critical component of security. That [the Afghan air force] is built on several airframes. Some are older Russian models integrating newer ones. We need more aircraft, and we are looking at how we can meet that need.”

Nicholson also said that military training by India to thousands of Afghan security personnel had helped that country in significantly enhancing its military capability, which is in tune with the objective of NATO and the U.S. I saw the problem, going to Kandahar in 2011 to review training there being done by the U.S.-paid contractor Dyncorp. A large part of the Afghan recruits are, bluntly, illiterate. Training has to be elementary and complete. Do not get me wrong, the Afghan trainees are brave, great armed police and soldiers. Often they have excellent fighting spirit, they know guns like we know cars, and frequently they lost close relatives in fighting that has gone on nonstop since the Soviets took over in the 1970s. But they need an enormous amount of training. It looks like India is shouldering some of that key part of the proxy war.

POK-Ing Pakistan: Why It Must Amount To More Than Just Bluster & Optics

R Jagannathan - August 16, 2016, 
Now that Prime Minister Modi has brought up POK not once, but twice, in recent times, we should look to get both our strategy and articulation right.
Strategy must flow from end-goals, our known or future capabilities and a realistic assessment of the enemy’s capabilities and motivations and so on.
Most important, though, is that we tie J&K inextricably to India’s growth story in such ways as education and job creation.

Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to up the ante with our self-destructive neighbour, it is important to get both our strategy and articulation right. Not once, but twice, including in his Independence Day speech, Modi raised India’s concerns about human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. In the short run, this will certainly worsen Pakistani belligerence and terrorism, and so we must brace for it.
But what exactly is our strategy? If it is mere tit-for-tat simply because Pakistan is creating trouble for us in Jammu & Kashmir, then it will not go far. It may even become counter-productive. Reason: Pakistan has its terror network up and running while we may be all bluster and no plan. For a strategy to work, it must be long-term in nature, capable of being accepted as reasonable by the international community and must have exit options in case things go wrong.
Strategy must flow from end-goals, whether articulated or covert, and also our known or future capabilities, a realistic assessment of the enemy’s capabilities and motivations, and an overarching clarity about why we are taking this position now.

The reason for us to up the ante should be this: you can’t meet the challenge of an unreasonable and rabid, anti-status-quo power by offering compromises and goodwill. You have to defeat it both psychologically and militarily. You don’t win against a fascist force by signing “peace in our time” deals. With Pakistan, which is dedicated to bleeding us with a thousand cuts, peace is not even an option – except for the photo-ops, which have their own value. So far the war has been fought on Pakistan’s terms; it is time to prosecute the war on more even terms.
The first thing to understand is that there is no hurry. This is going to be a long war of attrition, and direction, not speed, will be of the essence. And our first priority must be to protect our flanks and weak spots - which means dealing with the violence in the Kashmir Valley politically and economically. This does not mean more concessions to the “azaadi” stone-pelters. It means engaging with all actors – Kashmiris, including POK residents, Jammu residents, Ladakhis and Pandits – and emphasising that India will never relinquish Jammu & Kashmir.

2016s Tech Billionaires

by Felix Richter, Statista.com
-- this post authored by Martin Armstrong
A report released this week by Forbes has revealed the 100 richest people in the tech world.
The chart below takes a look at the top ten from this list, revealing the sheer scale of wealth being created in this sector - tech, as recently highlighted by Statista, is the new oil.
Sitting on top of the pile is Bill Gates. With a net worth of 78 billion U.S. dollars, Gates is not only comfortably the richest man in tech, but also the richest man in the world. In second place is Jeff Bezos, the man behind Amazon who has according to Forbes now amassed a net worth of over 66 billion dollars. Rounding off the top three is Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, with a total of 54 billion dollars.
While the list is dominated by US companies, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its executive chairman Jack Ma make an appearance at place eight. In 2016, Ma has a net worth of almost 26 billion dollars. Not too far behind him is Tencent CEO, Ma Huateng with 22 billion dollars.
This chart shows the net worth and main source of wealth of the ten richest tech billionaires in the world.

You will find more statistics at Statista.

How To Stop The World's 3.1 Billion Young People Being Left Behind

from The Conversation
-- this post authored by Jo Boyden, University of Oxford
There are more young people in the world than ever before. While some see the planet's 3.1 billion under 25-year-olds as a threat, others see the true potential of this demographic dividend. On International Youth Day on August 12, it's clear that radical action is needed to help disadvantaged young people around the world fulfil their hopes.
Our ongoing study, Young Lives, has been following 12,000 children in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam from childhood into young adulthood since 2001. One of the most heartening things about the project has been hearing from parents about just how much their children's lives have improved since they were young. By the age of 12, for example, nearly every child in the study was in school.

But one of the most disheartening findings has been revealing just how much difference poverty makes to a child's life from the moment they are born. Despite the gains of the last 15 years, the poorest children in all four countries remain much more likely to be physically stunted due to long-term malnutrition, and the poorest children and those in rural areas are still the least likely to have access to safe water and sanitation. Young people from poor backgrounds are also at the greatest risk of leaving school early.
Build opportunity, the ambition is there
At the age of 12, between 75% (Ethiopia) and 92% (Peru) of children in our study aspired to study to a level beyond school, with a high proportion expecting to reach their goal. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds see education as their best chance to live a better life than their parents. Both the children and their families devote energy and resources to getting the education their parents never had. But too often children's hopes are thwarted by poor-performing education systems, family misfortunes like crop failure or illness, and severely limited job opportunities.
According to the charity Solutions for Youth Employment, young people around the world are up to four times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and up to a third of young people who are employed have an income below the national poverty line. Where young people see opportunity, they seize it. Where they don't, they lose heart.
In the words of one young man in urban Ethiopia who our researchers have followed since the age of eight, this means he has ended up "simply counting [his] age". Creating decent jobs, and ensuring these can be accessed by young people and particularly young women, is the challenge of our times.
Too many cliff edges

The years leading up to young adulthood are full of transitions, but for young people from poor families they are rarely straightforward. Work often starts well before adulthood, progress through school is sometimes halting, and many older children are still struggling with early grades late into their school career.

Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless, Kafkaesque Guide to Subverting Any Organization with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944)

December 1st, 2015 
I’ve always admired people who can successfully navigate what I refer to as “Kafka’s Castle,” a term of dread for the many government and corporate agencies that have an inordinate amount of power over our permanent records, and that seem as inscrutable and chillingly absurd as the labyrinth the character K navigates in Kafka’s last allegorical novel. Even if you haven’t read The Castle, if you work for such an entity—or like all of us have regular dealings with the IRS, the healthcare and banking system, etc.—you’re well aware of the devilish incompetence that masquerades as due diligence and ties us all in knots. Why do multi-million and billion dollar agencies seem unable, or unwilling, to accomplish the simplest of tasks? Why do so many of us spend our lives in the real-life bureaucratic nightmares satirized in the The Office and Office Space?

One answer comes via Laurence J. Peter’s 1969 satire The Peter Principle—which offers the theory that managers and executives get promoted to the level of their incompetence—then, David Brent-like, go on to ruin their respective departments. The Harvard Business Review summed up disturbing recent research confirming and supplementing Peter’s insights into the narcissism, overconfidence, or actual sociopathy of many a government and business leader. But in addition to human failings, there’s another possible reason for bureaucratic disorder; the conspiracy-minded among us may be forgiven for assuming that in many cases, institutional incompetence is the result of deliberate sabotage from both above and below. The ridiculous inner workings of most organizations certainly make a lot more sense when viewed in the light of one set of instructions for “purposeful stupidity,” namely the once top-secret Simple Sabotage Field Manual, written in 1944 by the CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

Now declassified and freely available on the CIA’s website, the manual the agency describes as “surprisingly relevant” was once distributed to OSS officers abroad to assist them in training “citizen-saboteurs” in occupied countries like Norway and France. Such people, writes Rebecca Onion at Slate, “might already be sabotaging materials, machinery, or operations of their own initiative,” but may have lacked the devious talent for sowing chaos that only an intelligence agency can properly master. Genuine laziness, arrogance, and mindlessness may surely be endemic. But the Field Manual asserts that “purposeful stupidity is contrary to human nature” and requires a particular set of skills. The citizen-saboteur “frequently needs pressure, stimulation or assurance, and information and suggestions regarding feasible methods of simple sabotage.”

You can read and download the full document here. To get a sense of just how “timeless”—according to the CIA itself—such instructions remain, see the abridged list below, courtesy of Business Insider. You will laugh ruefully, then maybe shudder a little as you recognize how much your own workplace, and many others, resemble the kind of dysfunctional mess the OSS meticulously planned during World War II.

For US Politicians, Overcoming the Fear of Terrorism is Easier Done Than Said

AUGUST 15, 2016

We don’t resign ourselves to car accidents, learning from what went wrong and funneling those insights back into prevention.
In his investigation for The Atlantic into whether America is safer now than it was before the 9/11 attacks, Steven Brill rejects the “fantasy” that the threat of terrorism can be eliminated. And he credits the Obama administration with taking steps not only to prevent terrorist attacks, but also to reduce the damage they cause and enable Americans to rapidly recover when attacks occur. “[T]error is destined to become, yes, routine—a three- or four-times-a-year headline event,” Brill writes. The U.S. homeland will never be entirely secure.
For years now, Barack Obama has differed from most political leaders by saying, in public, that jihadist terrorism is a manageable threat rather than an existential one. The best response to terrorist attacks, he argues, isn’t to panic, which only compounds the problem. It’s to be resilient. “[F]rom Boston to San Bernardino to Orlando, we’ve seen how important it is for communities and first responders to be ready if and when tragedy strikes,” the U.S. president tells Brill.
There’s a reason many politicians don’t say these things. Obama has been ridiculed by critics who claim he is dismissing people’s legitimate fears, underestimating a grave danger, and effectively surrendering to terrorists.

What’s striking, however, is that other world leaders have been echoing Obama in recent months. “The times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after a Tunisian man in a truck plowed into revelers in Nice, sparking debate over whether France’s security services could have done more to prevent or neutralize the attack. “Besides organized terrorist attacks, there will be new threats from perpetrators not known to security personnel,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a series of attacks by asylum-seekers, including an axe-wielding Afghan teenager on a train. Germany wouldn’t stop welcoming refugees just because a few ungrateful asylum-seekers had sought to sow fear, she added, though the government would implement reforms to make such attacks less likely. Germans, she declared, must “live with the danger of terrorism.”
These blunt statements could be interpreted as realistic assessments of the surge in terrorist activity around the world since the emergence of ISIS and the slippery, protean nature of today’s terrorism threat—no longer 19 trained, synchronized assassins who have commandeered Boeing jets, but one guy with access to the internet and an axe. They could also be interpreted as politicians trying to shield themselves from blame for their policies and for future attacks.

Regardless, they may indicate that some governments are poised to embrace a more expansive approach to counterterrorism that pairs efforts to stop terrorist attacks with new initiatives to make societies more resilient to terrorism. National and international authorities hoping to counteract climate change have gradually adjusted their focus in similar ways: Whereas they once prioritized policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions (so-called “mitigation”), they’re now also pursuing policies to help people adjust to a warming world (“adaptation”). Mitigation, for example, produces international pledges to limit global temperature increases and national regulations on cars or coal-fired power plants; adaptation leads to genetically engineered drought-tolerant crops and early-warning systems for natural disasters.

In word and in deed, Obama has emphasized resilience to terrorism more than many other U.S. leaders, said Stephen Flynn, a national-security expert at Northeastern University. But the shift Obama embodies actually began during the second term of the George W. Bush administration, as U.S. officials came to recognize that their overseas war against al-Qaeda had splintered the terrorist threat, rather than defeating it as initially intended. This fragmentation made a 9/11-scale attack less likely, but lesser-scale attacks more likely. And these less-sophisticated attacks are often very difficult, if not impossible, to thwart.

On the subject of human consciousness, there is no better book than Douglas Hofstadter’s cult classic

Gödel, Escher, Bach: When logic flies out of the window
Sandipan Deb
Ever since its publication in 1979, Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (GEB) has been a cult book like hardly any other. For my generation, the one that grew up in the 1980s, it was an endless source of intellectual stimulation—you could dip into it whenever and wherever you liked, and it was like a drug trip. If you were actually on drugs when you opened the book, it was possibly even better.
Hofstadter is an American professor of cognitive science—a discipline that spans many fields, from psychology to neurology to the fine arts to gaming to artificial intelligence. And GEB cuts across all these areas to study human consciousness, in a vastly entertaining and intriguing way, for the layman.
I used the word “intriguing”, because GEB is itself structured as a giant puzzle, with many smaller puzzles cocooned inside it. There are entire chapters which are mind-bending puzzles in their structure, and most of them have no answers, because our brains are not capable of answering them.
GEB deals with the limitations of the mind and logic. Take this old unsolvable riddle: “All Cretans are liars. I am a Cretan.” So, are all Cretans liars? Or consider a card, on both sides of which is printed this sentence: “The statement on the other side of this card is false.” Or change the lines. On one side of the card is printed: “The statement on the other side of this card is false.” And on the flip side: “The statement on the other side of this card is true.” So, what is true? And what is false?
OK, these are playful little conundrums.

"One Belt, One Road" Initiative Will Reshape Asia's Geography

B&R initiative to reshape regional geography
Editor's note:
Parag Khanna (Khanna), senior research fellow at the Center on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, has suggested in his new book Connectography that the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative is promoting regional integration, which will help reshape the meaning of geography, steering the globe into a new form of integration and unification through supply chains. How can the B&R initiative achieve that? Global Times (GT) reporter Li Aixin recently talked with Khanna about these issues in an exclusive interview.

GT: What does the new form of integration and unification look like in your opinion? And why do you think the B&R initiative will play a vital role in it?

Khanna: A lot of people think about integration as governments fusing together, creating a new supra-national entity like the EU or the UN. That's not what infrastructural integration looks like. Infrastructural integration is what I call functional integration. You don't have to bring your governments together, you have to bring your utilities together. 

Supply and demand are the most powerful forces in the world. Supply and demand are what connect China through infrastructure to its neighbors. So it will reshape geography, because geography is a friction, geography is a barrier, geography slows things down. But with functional integration with infrastructure, the things like B&R initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), that friction will become less. 

GT: What influence will the B&R initiative have on geopolitics?

Khanna: Geopolitics is the relationship between power and space. In geopolitics, power can take many forms. Infrastructural and economic reach is a kind of power. The AIIB and the projects of the B&R embody China's infrastructural power and commercial power. So this institution, the more it extends, the more Chinese influence extends at the same time. 

You cannot influence what you are not connected to. The US said Iran must not be connected, we will not trade with or invest in Iran. But other countries like Russia, Turkey, India and China, they will engage with Iran, they will trade with Iran. The more you connect to Iran, the more you will have influence in Iran. So geopolitics changes based upon degree of connectivity.

GT: What challenges do you think the B&R will face?

Khanna: There are two categories. There are post-Soviet countries, like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, where infrastructure is very bad. In those countries there is very little rule of law, so when you do a contract or a project, you don't know whether the deals will be cancelled or not. When I was here in June, Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Why was he there? Because you have to get government-to-government agreement support to make sure that this project will happen. 

The other kind of countries are post-colonial countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are very unstable politically. And the US has a strong influence in those countries. So the challenges are strategic and geopolitical in terms of diplomatic maneuvering. And then there are challenges of security. There are Chinese workers that have been kidnapped or killed, Chinese facilities that have been attacked. The bigger the project, the bigger the risk.

China accused of launching 'cyber war' over contested islands

Security experts and former officials say the attacks on computer networks at airports and government ministries are designed to demonstrate China's cyber power and deter online retaliation.
By Shaun Waterman, AUGUST 15, 2016

China, in pursuit of its territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, is resorting to low-level cyber warfare against the Philippines and Vietnam — the two nations who recently won an international legal case against the Communist government.
Reports in local media and by regional cybersecurity companies have attributed a rash of cyber vandalism attacks in the past two weeks to a Chinese hacktivist group calling itself 1937cn — an apparent reference to the Japanese invasion of China that year.
In the highest profile attack at the end of July, hackers took over the website of Vietnam's national airline and the display screens in the country's two largest airports and displayed pro-Chinese, anti-Vietnam and anti-Philippine messages.
Websites in the Philippines were also attacked, with local security companies saying the hacks were part of a long-running campaign aimed at the computer networks of government agencies and critical infrastructure owners and operators.

Vietnamese sources have blamed China and linked the attacks to last month's ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which denied Beijing's extensive territorial claims in the South China Seas. About $5 trillion worth of shipping trade passes each year through the seas' waters — which abut China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, and are believed to house huge fish stocks as well as vast deposits of undersea oil and gas.
The self-described leader of 1937cn told Chinese state media the group is a patriotic non-government organization, but didn't entirely deny responsibility.
Security experts and former officials in the region say the plausible deniability of using patriotic hacktivists as a cut-out for government-inspired or -directed online attacks is straight out of China's cyber playbook.
"China’s strategic cyber doctrine is the basis of the current [cyber] operations against Vietnam and the Philippines," wrote S. D. Pradhan, the former chairman of Delhi's Joint Intelligence Committee, in a Times of India op-ed.

In Russian doctrine, security analysts have identified cyberwarfare a part of a "hybrid warfare" strategy, in which information operations and deniable military forces (the "little green men" of Ukraine fame) are fused to leverage Russian strategic might and advance national goals.
But in China's military thinking, Pradhan states, cyber-operations are aimed at deterrence and are also seen as potentially part of "no contact warfare" — "winning war without casualties," and projecting power over great distances "to achieve a quick decisive victory by disrupting, denying and destroying the enemy’s war waging potential and its command and control systems through remote delivery of destructive kinetic energy and effective cyber operations."
In China's concept of "‘integrated strategic deterrence,' cyber operations have the central role," he noted, adding, "Deterrence is achieved by projecting its capabilities for infiltration of critical infrastructure of adversaries," such as the computer networks at a major airport.
By successfully attacking the national airline's website and airport announcement systems, Pradhan added, "China has conveyed her capabilities to infiltrate into [an] adversary's ... most critical and secured infrastructure."

*** Inside the Real US Ground War On ISIS

As the US and its allies prepare to launch a major offensive for Mosul, US service members are on the ground in growing numbers — and increasingly in harm’s way. Mike Giglio reports from the bases and front lines where they work around northern Iraq. 
Reporting From Erbil, Iraq posted on Aug. 17, 2016,
ERBIL, Iraq — The Black Hawk helicopter pushed into ISIS territory through the pre-dawn sky. Joshua Wheeler, a veteran master sergeant with US special operations, was taking his men deep behind enemy lines. As the chopper descended on the ISIS stronghold of Hawija in northern Iraq, back in Washington, US president Barack Obama, who had been notified of the mission, waited for word of its fate.
Wheeler and his team were at the forefront of the hidden war US special operations troops are waging against ISIS. With him in the chopper were fellow members of the US Army’s elite Delta Force and some of the local commandos they had trained. Decked in desert camouflage and equipped with high-tech automatic weapons and night vision, the US and local soldiers looked almost identical.

Their mission, carried out on Oct. 22, was more dangerous than most. It called for the men to infiltrate a guarded compound that ISIS had converted into a prison and rescue dozens of men who, according to intelligence reports, were scheduled to be executed that day.
ISIS militants began firing on the helicopter as it lowered toward the compound. Wheeler shot back from the bay, recalled one of the local soldiers who was beside him, a captain with a specialized Kurdish force called the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU), which is run by the security council of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Then — as Wheeler often did, his Kurdish partners said — he led the way.

Wheeler hit the ground first, said the 29-year-old captain, the ranking CTU officer on the chopper. Gunshots and calls of “Allahu Akbar” rang out as the militants tried to repel the commandos, firing with everything they had. The captain said he and Wheeler advanced together, “fighting side by side.”
On risky missions like Hawija, the US commandos often have a simple command, said a CTU lieutenant: “Let us go first.”
By the time the operation was over three hours later, around 20 ISIS militants had been killed and 69 prisoners had been saved. And Wheeler was dead, struck down by an ISIS bullet, making him the first US service member to lose his life in the ISIS fight.

When his death became public, US officials painted the combat role of the US commandos on the mission as an anomaly. The Pentagon’s press secretary called it “a unique circumstance.” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wheeler’s engagement with the enemy “wasn’t part of the plan.” These comments pushed Wheeler’s death into line with the narrative Obama had presented to the public when the new fight began. “I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done,” he said in August 2014 as US airstrikes against ISIS began. “And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.”


AUGUST 16, 2016
In the first of two articles, a Westerner with extensive on-the-ground experience in Syria and Iraq explains how the West’s understanding of sectarian identity in the Middle East is fatally flawed. He reveals new information on these civil wars and their participants.
Editor’s Note: This author is writing under a pen name. I know the author’s identity and while his arguments are surely controversial, I am confident in his sourcing and subject matter expertise. I have decided to allow him to write under a pen name because he can reasonably fear for his safety and professional employment. -RE
In Iraq, the senior Shia leaders of the Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) recently gathered for a meeting. Among them was a leading Sunni P.M.F. commander, who later recounted this story to me. When the men broke for prayer, a Shia leader noticed they were not being joined by their Sunni comrade, who remained seated. The Shia leader asked, “Why don’t you join us?”

He responded, “I don’t pray.”
“What do you mean, you don’t pray?” asked his Shia counterpart.
“If I prayed,” answered the Sunni leader, “I would be with the Islamic State fighting you.”
If you read Western media outlets, including War on the Rocks, you might think that most of the problems in the Middle East can be traced to Sunni disenfranchisement, especially in Syria and Iraq. The broader Western debate about the ongoing civil wars in the Middle East is plagued by a false understanding of sectarian identities. Washington elites imagine a broader Sunni sense of identity that does not exist outside the confines of Saudi Arabia and territories held by jihadist groups. This has the malign effect of encouraging polices that add fuel to the fires consuming Syria and parts of Iraq. Alongside this narrative exists another that portrays Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces as bloodthirsty sectarian militias engaged in constant abuses against Iraq’s Sunni Arabs — but this is simply not the case.

Similarly, these same voices describe the Syrian government as an “Alawite regime” that rules and oppresses Sunnis. However, Sunnis are heavily represented at all levels of leadership in Assad’s government. The territory it controls at this point in the war and at all points past is majority Sunni. And the Syrian armed forces are still majority Sunni. Alawites may be overrepresented in the security forces, but all that means is that they get to die more than others. It if it is an “Alawite regime,” isn’t it odd that includes and benefits so many non-Alawites?
Sunnis not only have political power in Syria, but they also have social power, more opportunities, and a greater range of choices in life compared to other states in the region ruled by Sunni heads of state. At the heart of this negligent misapprehension of what is actually happening in the Middle East is an acceptance and mainstreaming of notions of Sunni identity propagated by the most extreme voices in the Sunni world: Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Number of Refugees to Europe Surges to Record 1.3 Million in 2015

AUGUST 2, 2016
Recent wave accounts for about one-in-ten asylum applications since 1985
A record 1.3 million migrants applied for asylum in the 28 member states of the European Union, Norway and Switzerland in 2015 – nearly double the previous high water mark of roughly 700,000 that was set in 1992 after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency.

Today, Eastern European countries like Kosovo and Albania still contribute to the overall flow of asylum seekers into the EU, Norway and Switzerland, but about half of refugees in 2015 trace their origins to just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Conflicts, both fresh and long-standing, in each of these states have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Some have been displaced within their homelands; others have sought refuge in neighboring countries; and still others have made the often perilous journey to Europe (and elsewhere) to seek asylum.
Since 2012, Germany has been the primary destination country for asylum seekers in Europe, receiving 442,000 asylum applications in 2015 alone. Following Germany, Hungary (174,000 applications) and Sweden (156,000) received the highest number of asylum applications in 2015. Meanwhile, France (71,000) and the UK (39,000) received roughly the same number of applications in 2015 as in years just prior to the refugee surge in 2015.