26 August 2016

*** Increasing Military Aid to Afghanistan

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
24 Aug , 2016

In an article titled ‘A Proxy War Between India and Pakistan Is Underway In Afghanistan’ in Forbes, Charles Tiefler writes that the US command in Afghanistan has asked India to step up military aid to Afghan forces. He goes on to say that while “India provided four attack helicopters to the Afghan national Army (ANA) last year, 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”.

Whether Tifler wrote this by design or default is ambiguous but if India were to fight Pakistan’s proxy war, it would be on Pakistani soil and not Afghan territory anyway, latter being a strategic partner of India.

The hilarious part is Tiefler describing this further by saying, “Every aspect of this cries: Proxy War”.

Now if giving military aid of four attack helicopters and spare parts for military equipment constitutes ‘proxy war’ then all the countries providing military aid to others could be accused of ‘proxy war’, altering the definition of the term altogether. Whether Tifler wrote this by design or default is ambiguous but if India were to fight Pakistan’s proxy war, it would be on Pakistani soil and not Afghan territory anyway, latter being a strategic partner of India.

The Afghan’s have been lamenting past several years that while the launch of GWOT was tom-tommed with much aplomb and Afghanistan invaded by the US, the roots of terror in Pakistan were permitted to stay intact other than some predator attacks inside Pakistan. Pakistan has consistently defied targeting the Haqqani network despite the US asking them to do so.

** Pakistan’s Institutional Turf Wars

By Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh (Retd)
24 Aug , 2016

The recent spiral of violence and bloodshed in the Kashmir valley has a dark dimension beyond the linear and hyphenated Indo-Pak rivalry, it is also symptomatic of the intra-Pakistani slugfest between the troika of institutions that governs and dominates the Pakistani narrative i.e. firstly the all-powerful Pakistani Military, secondly the struggling and defamed political classes and lastly, the clergy and their violent accoutrements and manifestations.

The powers in Pakistan have yo-yoed between these three power axis from time-to-time, with constantly evolving and changing perceptions about each of these three institutions over time. Clearly, Pervez Musharraf’s Military take-over via the coup against Nawaz Sharif’s civilian Government was broadly welcomed in 1999, only to see the nation heave a collective sigh of relief with the restoration of participative democracy with the return of political parties via the PPP government in 2008.

The role and relevance of the religio-clergy had peaked during the President Zia-ul-Haq regime, only to see a strong revival with the resurgence of the global Pan-Islamic wave in the 21stcentury – Laal Masjid crisis, sectarianism and societal violence, regression and curbs of the recent times are reflective of the appeal of puritanical strains, amidst a certain section of the Pakistani society.

** Social Media in the Military: Opportunities, Perils and a Safe Middle Path

August 21, 2016 

Social Media in the Military: Opportunities, Perils and a Safe Middle Path by Brigadier Mick Ryan, AM and Brigadier Marcus Thompson, AM, Grounded Curiosity

Social media has revolutionised global communication and professional discourse. It has demonstrated a capacity for penetration that is historically unprecedented, especially compared to other means of communication. For example Facebook took just 12 years to gain 1.65 billion users globally and Twitter has gained over 300 million users in a decade. Social media are distinct from other forms of media primarily because of two key reasons. First, they are more viral; users are more likely to share content in their social networks. Second, social media users are highly mobile. Social networking has a very high penetration of Australian society. In June 2016, there were 15 million Facebook, 5 million Instagram and 2.8 million Twitter users in Australia.

Members of the Australian Army are no different to other members of Australian society. They have largely embraced the various forms of social media available to them, and they use it to communicate at home, on courses, in the field and on operations. The story of social media is one of opportunity and threat for members of the military. It offers a level of transparency and global interaction that has not been possible before. But is also presents potential threats to our people, units and operations that can materialise without clever, informed use of the various social media available.

This paper reviews the rationale for the use of social media in the military. It does so by examining the benefits and the risks of social media use – by Army’s people, and the institution. The paper then provides an analysis of the most appropriate and effective use of social media, ensuring that individuals, units and commanders are able to exploit this most modern of communication forms in a way that is informed yet interesting, and protects essential friendly information…

Why India’s South China Sea Stand Matters

By Cdr Abhijit Singh
24 Aug , 2016

During his visit to New Delhi last week, Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Minister, held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The agenda for discussion is said to have included a number of sticky bilateral issues – China’s perceived opposition to India’s membership of the NSG, Beijing’s opposition to UN sanctions on Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief, Masood Azhar, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Missing from the list of issues, however, was the South China Sea (SCS) – a subject Beijing had apparently debarred from discussion in any context or form.

Oddly, a day after Wang returned to Beijing, the Chinese media hailed India for being “neutral on the South China Sea” – as if the Chinese foreign minister has secured an assurance from India that if the matter ever came up for discussion in an international forum, New Delhi has promised not to take sides. Meanwhile, Indian newspapers pointed out that, despite never mentioning the South China Sea in his official discussions, the Chinese foreign minister did bring up the issue informally with the media. In response to a question by a journalist, Wang had observed solemnly that India needed to decide “where it stood on the matter of the South China Sea” – a clear indication that support on the vexed territorial disputes in Southeast Asia may have been the real purpose of his visit.

Interestingly, in the run up to Wang’s departure for India, The Global Times, a tabloid widely seen as the Chinese government’s mouthpiece, warned New Delhi that its seemingly inimical posture on the South China Sea was potentially damaging for bilateral ties and could create obstacles for Indian businesses in China. “Instead of unnecessary entanglements with China over the South China Sea debate during Wang’s visit,” an editorial in the newspaper declared, “India must create a good atmosphere for economic cooperation, including the reduction of tariffs…amid the ongoing free trade talks.”

Demography Watch: How Northeast India Was Christianised In The Last 100 Years

August 23, 2016

The Centre For Policy Studies (CPS) has published its latest note on the Religion Data Census of 2011. The note shows how the demographics of the northeast have drastically changed in the last century.

Northeast India forms a major region of Christian concentration in India today. Of the 2.78 crore Christians counted in 2011, 78 lakh are in the northeast (including Assam). This is the largest concentration of Christians in India after the coastal region stretching from southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala to coastal Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.

But unlike other regions, the spread of Christianity in the northeast is almost entirely a phenomenon of the twentieth century. Much of the Christian expansion in the northeast occurred during 1931-51, and more prominently during 1941-51.

This expansion has continued unabated since 1951. The tribal populations of Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland have now become almost entirely Christian.


The earliest part of the northeast to witness the expansion of Christianity was Meghalaya. This was largely because the British administrator handed over the responsibility and the budget for school education to the Christian missions.

Notwithstanding the early arrival of Christianity in Meghalaya, the spread of Christianity there was relatively slow after Independence. But the share of Christians in the population of Meghalaya has continued to rise robustly from decade to decade and has reached nearly 75 percent in 2011. It seems some of the tribes in Meghalaya are still resisting conversion.


Afghanistan's Unity Government Must Actually Unite

August 23, 2016

When the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community earlier this year, Afghanistan earned this assessment: “Political cohesion will remain a challenge for Kabul as the National Unity Government will confront larger and more divisive issues later in 2016, including the implementation of election reforms, long-delayed parliamentary elections, and a potential change by a Loya Jirga that might fundamentally alter Afghanistan’s constitutional order.”

At the time, the leaders of the National Unity Government and their senior officials disagreed with the prognosis of impending divisiveness. In contrast, they emphasized the likely challenges they would face as centering around threats from the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS. The void of regional cooperation, particularly Pakistan’s inaction, brings the Taliban leaders to the negotiating table and denying them sanctuary in Pakistan.

Yet the rising tension between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah that was recently rendered embarrassingly public suggests that Afghanistan is indeed confronting a looming crisis of division. The frustrations of Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah became public after Abdullah went on criticizing Ashraf Ghani in a press conference for not meeting him in the past three months, and calling the president unfit for the job. In response, to Abdullah’s criticism Ashraf Ghani’s office issued a statement called Abdullah’s comments irresponsible and not in line with the standard and spirit of governance.

India Plays the Balochistan Card - With China

August 23, 2016

Last week Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid down the gauntlet to Pakistan, sending a clear indication that India may be prepared to destabilise Pakistan’s fractious Balochistan province in response to perceived threats. While this represents a very significant change in India’s public posture towards Pakistan, it is important to understand the message was also directed at China.

In a carefully worded national Independence Day speech at Delhi’s Red Fort on 15 August, Modi sent his greetings to the 'people of Balochistan, Gilgit [and] Pakistan-occupied Kashmir'. These words caused outrage in Islamabad where they were viewed as an infringement on Pakistani sovereignty, 'confirming' their long-standing claims that India had been supporting insurgencies in Balochistan and elsewhere in Pakistan.

Playing the Balochistan card represents a big shift for India. Initially, Modi’s election in 2014 prompted expectations that Delhi would take a much less conciliatory line with Pakistan. But, to the surprise of some, beginning with the invitation of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Modi’s inauguration, the Modi government appeared relatively open to exploring approaches to reconciliation.

But Delhi seems to have now concluded its efforts have generated few returns. Sharif’s Pakistan Independence Day speech on 14 August, which he dedicated to the freedom of Kashmir, may have been the last straw for the Modi government, ending hopes that a detente could be reached with Pakistan’s civilian government.

Raja Mandala: The Great Wall of China

Written by C. Raja Mohan
August 23, 2016 

Narendra Modi For some decades now, India’s strategic opportunities have been mostly in the east. Yet, for the all the talk of “looking east” and “acting east”, Delhi is easily distracted by the endless provocations on its west. The renewed diplomatic engagement with Nepal last week, following the recent regime change in Kathmandu, and this week’s outreach to Burma’s first democratically elected government in many decades, underline the expansive possibilities in the east. Delhi can’t let its obsession with the west come in the way of realising the full potential of the east. (Before you object to the use of the term “Burma”, do note that Aung San Suu Kyi, who is the foreign minister, state counsellor and the dominant figure in the new democratic government prefers this name to describe her nation. But she also added that she will not object to the use of “Myanmar”. “You are free to use either,” she told the diplomats in the Burmese capital, Yangon, in April, this year).

If there is one factor that is common to both the fronts, it is China. Modi’s remarks on Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir highlighted China’s deeper involvement in India’s unending squabbles with Pakistan. Beijing figures prominently in the great game to the east; China has exercised influence there for long.

Consider the following: The new prime minister of Nepal, Prachanda, whose return to power was seen as a big political gain for India, insists on a “balanced policy” towards Delhi and Beijing. Soon after he took charge, Prachanda dispatched his two deputy prime ministers as special envoys to Delhi and Beijing.

China’s New Satellite Puts Quantum Encryption Into Orbit

AUGUST 22, 2016

It’s designed to literally teleport information nearly 750 miles. 

Last week, China launched the world’s first quantum satellite. So what exactly does this mean?

“[T]he satellite is designed to establish ultra-secure quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground,” Xinhua, China’s state news agency, wrote after the equipment was launched on a rocket from the Gobi desert. “It could also conduct experiments on the bizarre features of quantum theories, such as entanglement.”

Uncrackable keys? Bizarre features? Both true. This satellite is designed to literally teleport information, to distances 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) away.

It’s pretty wild stuff. We asked Spiros Michalakis, a mathematician and researcher at Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, to walk us through it.

Quantum theory: the basics

Here’s a quick refresher in case you haven’t thought about physics in a few years, because this story is cooler when you understand these basics. Skip ahead if you’re already a quantum geek.

Battle looming: Iraqi troops, militia inch toward ISIS-held Mosul

August 23, 2016

Al-Qayyara, Iraq (CNN)The Iraqi Army Humvees barreled across the Nineveh province moonscape toward the town of al-Qayyara, the next front line in the military quest to dislodge ISIS from the sprawling city of Mosul.

ISIS tries to decrease the advancing soldiers' visibility by burning up oil tankers and flooding the air with smoke. But the troops pushed forward despite black apocalyptic skies, street after street of decimated buildings, torn electric cables whipping across the road, and hot searing winds.

Now they're just a couple of kilometers away from the town center and about 60 kilometers from Mosul. By the end of the year, they say, they will liberate Iraq's second-largest metropolitan area seized by ISIS two years ago.

Since we were last here in April, the Iraqi Army made significant advances in their fight to regain Mosul and the choke-hold around the city is tightening.

Over the last four months, soldiers have methodically toughed it out as they pressed north through villages and towns. At one point, they reached the Tigris River and then dropped a pontoon bridge that ISIS tried but failed to blow up with a boat packed with explosives.


On the morning of the 1st of October 1960, Nigerians celebrated their freedom from British colonial rule. Now, 56 years later, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) group hopes to recreate this for the Niger Delta region by seceding from the rest of Nigeria. How they intend to do this remains unclear but, one established fact is that President Buhari will not rest on the country’s oars and watch it disintegrate. Rather, he is prepared to use every single governmental structure available to retain Nigeria’s sovereignty which he swore to protect. Is a repeat of the 1967 Biafran war on the horizon? No one can say, really, until the 1st of October this year. In the meantime, there is a need to understand how the Niger Delta Avengers have since positioned themselves in the oil rich region, and how they can now demand a republic of their own.

What you may not know about the Niger Delta Avengers

The Niger Delta Avengers pride themselves on being “a group of young Niger Deltans who have support from other [western, northern and eastern] parts of Nigeria.” They also call themselves educated and well-travelled, stating that most of them “were educated in eastern Europe.” They do not have any recognised leadership, except for one ‘Brig. Gen. Mudoch Agbinibo’ who signs most of the statements published on their website. Statements and announcements of their attacks are usually made via their website. The Avengers had aTwitter handle before now, but it was shut down by Twitter about a month ago because the account violated some of the social media platform’s rules. According to a statement from the group, they are displeased with the way President Muhammadu Buhari is running the country and will not stop until their demands are met. The militants operate in teams and they have up to nine ‘Strike Teams’ spread across states, including Rivers, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom.

What they claim to be fighting for

What Kurdistan's Anti-ISIS Foreign Fighters Think of All the Attention

August 23, 2016

“BREAKING, 200 Iranian revolutionary guards and 150 Hezbollah have entered to the Syrian city of to [sic] Hasakah to help Assad’s regime against US backed Kurdish YPG, they killed many Kurdish civilians.” This message was posted to the Reece Harding News Agency Facebook page on August 19. Harding, an Australian, was killed in June of 2015 fighting against Islamic State in Syria alongside the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the mostly Kurdish group that controls portions of eastern Syria. He is one of hundreds of foreign volunteers who have gone to aid Kurds in Iraq and Syria since ISIS attacked their areas in August 2014.

Sitting in the command tent of General Bahram Arif Yassin last month, Jonathan Rieth, an American, explained his motivations. “You’re sitting watching this stuff unfold, hoping your government will do more. I have a specific skill I know is needed. . . . For me one of the tipping points was a graphic image of a Christian woman kidnapped by Daesh, raped thirty times a day, beaten, mutilated, that didn’t kill her, they took a crucifix and jammed it in her throat . . . that image is frozen in my mind.” Rieth decided that he had to do something, and relocated to the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq to try to help train the peshmerga to be combat medics. On August 14, his assistance played a role in the battle for Khazir when five thousand Kurds attacked ISIS and liberated twelve villages near Gwer, south of Mosul. He wrote on Facebook, “at one point during the day a car bomb went off injuring six peshmerga.” Along with two others, he was able to aid critically injured peshmerga.

Turkey's Anti-Americanism Isn't New

August 23, 2016

Last month’s failed coup attempt prompted numerous questions about Turkey’s relations with the West, and especially with the United States. At the heart of those questions lies a phenomenon that a New York Times editorialhas dubbed “Turkey’s new anti-Americanism.” This “new” anti-Americanism found its voice in countless articles and opinion pieces recently published in Turkey that hold the United States directly responsible for orchestrating the failed attempt, as well as many government officials who have made comments about U.S. involvement in the failed coup.

Western spectators are caught unprepared. The intensity of the anti-American sentiments have convinced many that the failed coup will eventually trigger a “break-up” between Turkey and its long-time NATO ally, the United States. The narrative is simple. Turkey blames the cleric Fethullah Gülen—who lives in the United States in self-imposed exile, and whose green card application included a reference from a senior CIA official—for the failed coup, asking for his extradition. The United States so far remains unconvinced by the presented evidence that ties the failed coup to Gülen, a denial that in fact fuels anti-Americanism in the country. Widespread and rising anti-Americanism, so the narrative goes, will eventually force the Turkish government to sever ties with the United States, probably pushing Turkey into alliances with Russia and even Iran.

Exactly 500 Years Ago, This Battle Changed the Middle East Forever

August 23, 2016

Five centuries ago, the contours of the modern Middle East were shaped through a series of Ottoman battles. The outcomes of these battles—which shaped the region’s politics, demographics and religious movements—were much more important in the long run than modern phenomena such as the Sykes-Picot Pact. This month marks the five hundredth anniversary of one of the most important of these battles, the Battle of Marj Dabiq, between the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, the Levant and the Hejaz.

Marj Dabiq means the “meadow of Dabiq,” and was fought next to the town in modern Syria where Islamic State believes Armageddon will occur, on the basis of a hadith (a saying attributed to Muhammad). Northwestern Syria is littered with countless battle sites, ancient and modern, as it is situated on the most traversable land route between Turkey and Europe, on the one hand, and the Levant, Egypt and Mesopotamia, on the other hand.

In the early sixteenth century the Ottoman Empire, having already conquered most of the Balkans, shifted its attention to the Middle East. The initial impetus for this was the influence of the rapidly expanding Safavid Persian Empire. The Safavid Empire originated in 1501 in what is today East Azerbaijan Province in northern Iran, and soon expanded to include much of Persia, Afghanistan and Iraq. It wielded enormous influence over many of the Turkish and Kurdish tribes of eastern Turkey, many of which were influenced by the Shia propaganda of the Safavids. In order to counter this enormously destabilizing influence on their eastern flank, the Ottomans moved to confront the Safavids directly. This led to the pivotal Battle of Chaldiran on August 23, 1514, which resulted in an Ottoman victory, aided by its superior artillery. Chaldiran cemented Ottoman rule over eastern Turkey and Mesopotamia and limited Safavid expansion mostly to Persia. This ultimately checked the expansion of Shia Islam and strengthened the association between Iranian national identity and Shia Islam. Sunni Islam, championed by the Ottomans, became permanently dominant throughout most of the rest of the region.

Political/Military Autism

August 21, 2016

“History teaches us that we learn nothing from history.”

- - Hegel 

Foreign policy is often a little like ice fishing. If you pick the wrong companions, the wrong spot, or the wrong time of year, the results can be catastrophic. When the ice gives way, fish in the creel become irrelevant. Unlike sport fishing, American foreign policy does not appear to have a learning curve. A smart fisherman might improve over time, but contemporary policy trolls seem to be immune to the insights or lessons that failure or chaos usually provides.

Modern foreign/military policy praxis seems to be suffering from a kind of pernicious political autism.

“These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.” American policy towards Islamic ideology, jihad, terror, small wars, and the passive aggressive Ummah provide the best evidence of policy autism.

The repetitive behaviors at issue here now include historical amnesia, cooked Intelligence books, appeasement, regime change schemes, nation building fantasies, “humanitarian” interventions, and the kind of cluelessness that characterizes all attention deficit disorders. The national incapacity to focus or prioritize policy and programs is aggravated by denial and threat fantasies; the tendency to anguish about the future at the expense of dealing with the here and now. 

Turkey open to Russian planes at US Incirlik hub

August 23, 2016

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle takes off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in December 2015. U.S. warplanes could soon be sharing the base's runway with Russian bombers. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters during a recent news conference that Russia could use the base, if necessary.

STUTTGART, Germany — Could U.S. warplanes soon be sharing the runway at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base with Russian bombers?

That’s up to Moscow, according to a top Turkish official, whose comments on possibly opening the strategic Turkish facility to Russian personnel comes ahead of a damage control visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

When asked on Saturday whether Russia could use Incirlik for airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim answered in the affirmative. “If necessary, the Incirlik base can be used (by the Russians),” Yildirim told reporters.

The prospect of opening Incirlik to Russia, a move that would likely infuriate NATO allies, would put the U.S. military in the awkward position of working and possibly living side by side with an adversary. In addition to being home to about 2,500 U.S. troops, Incirlik houses about 50 U.S. nuclear weapons, according to various watchdog groups.

For Russia, Incirlik is unlikely to offer much tactical value, since its fighter-bombers and attack helicopters already operate from bases in Syria closer to the actual battlefields, and Yildirim made clear that Moscow hadn’t requested use of the air base. Still, a move into Incirlik could offer Russia an opportunity to chip at NATO unity.

Whether Yildirim was serious about the Incirlik offer to Moscow or floating the idea as a sign of leverage against the United States isn’t clear. But what has become apparent in recent weeks is that inside Turkey, where conspiracies abound about the U.S. having covertly backed the attempted July coup attempt, there is growing frustration with the Washington.

Why the TPP Deal Won’t Improve Our Security

AUG. 23, 2016
President Obama at a town hall meeing in Washington. CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

Washington — With both presidential candidates running on their opposition to President Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, the White House is gearing up for one last, desperate push to get the deal through Congress. The pitch, which will begin in a few weeks, will rely on what President Obama thinks is his ace in the hole: the argument that, regardless of its economic merits, the deal, as a counter toChina’s rising influence, is essential to America’s national security.

This administration, like previous ones, has played this card repeatedly, and it’s one reason the TPP has gotten as far as it has. But the national security case has always been weaker than the president and his allies insist.

In the fall of 2009, I was invited to the White House with a few other think-tank analysts to discuss the deal, then still in its early stages. I pointed out that among the seven other countries then in discussion, we already had free trade deals with all but Brunei, New Zealand, Malaysia and Vietnam, and that these were all tiny economies that didn’t seem to offer much potential economic gain to America. Moreover, all of these countries were members, along with the United States, of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group, which was committed to free trade in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020. What was the point? I asked.

Russia’s Illusion of Influence in the Middle East

By Kamran Bokhari
Aug. 23, 2016 

Over the past several months, media reports have made it seem like Russia’s influence is growing in the Middle East. After all, Russian air support helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime regain the upper hand against the rebels in Syria. Then, Turkey suddenly and intensely moved to improve ties with Russia – at a time when Turkish-American relations have deteriorated. Finally, and most recently, Russian strategic bombers conductedairstrikes in Syria after taking off from an Iranian air base.

Today, however, the serious geopolitical constraints that Russia faces in expanding its influence in the Middle East became quite apparent. The Kremlin’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that Russia and Turkey remained at odds over Syria. Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said that anyone who accuses Turkey of aiding the Islamic State – which Moscow has done quite loudly – is an enemy. Elsewhere, within days of allowing Russian aircraft to take off from one of its bases, Iran rescinded the permission. Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan accused Russia of a “betrayal of trust” for publicizing the deal. These different but definitive signs underscore how uncomfortable Turkey and Iran are with getting too close to Russia.

Russian-Iranian Relations

Russia and Iran are on the same side as far as Syria is concerned. They are the principal allies of the Syrian regime and cooperate closely to ensure that Assad remains in power. Tehran and Moscow also have very close bilateral relations in a number of fields. Russia has helped Iran on the international front with regards to the latter’s controversial nuclear program.

That said, there is a huge debate within Iran on trusting Russia. Here we are not talking about the reformists versus hardliners. The mistrust runs deep within Tehran’s conservative establishment. Just the other day, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a ranking hardline member of the powerful parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, warned that, in recent years, Russia had demonstrated “a different and volatile foreign policy.”

How Hamas Allegedly Embezzles Millions in Christian Charity

August 23, 2016

The arrests of the head of a U.S. charity operating in the Gaza Strip—and of an UN engineer—put the international spotlight on terrorism finance in the nonprofit world.

The allegations leveled against Christian charity World Vision prompted Australia and Germany to suspend their donations to the NGO earlier this month.

Mohammad El Halabi is the executive director of World Vision in Gaza. He was arrested at the Erez Crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip in June and then charged in August by the Shin Bet—the equivalent of the FBI—with funneling tens of millions in donor aid to Hamas. Both the EU and the United States classify Hamas as a terrorist organization. Some of the funds diverted to Hamas were earmarked to help disabled Palestinians.

The Shin Bet alleges that El Halabi joined Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, in 2004, before joining World Vision in 2005. According to the indictment, El Halabi was instructed to join a foreign nongovernmental organization and rise high enough to begin siphoning foreign aid to Hamas projects. In 2010, El Halabi was named executive director of World Vision in Gaza.

El Halabi’s lawyers deny the charges against their client, despite his confession to the Shin Bet. His lawyers asserted that “Israel can link anyone living in the Gaza Strip to Hamas.” It’s an interesting defense. El Halabi’s lawyers are trying to insist that Israel can fabricate connections in Gaza, but that Hamas’s grip on the local NGO scene is absolute. The terror group routinely co-opts foreign charities and organizations. The UK-based charity Islamic Relief Worldwide was banned in June 2014 from operating in Israel because it allegedly funneled funds to Hamas.

British Medal Machine: From Lone Gold In Atlanta To A Spectacular Second Position In Rio2016

August 23, 2016

A raft of medals across various disciplines from sailing, cycling, gymnastics and diving has ensured that the UK has shed the tag of sporting losers.

Veteran UK sports journalist and author Simon Barnes talks in a podcast about how Britain has transformed itself into a major force in Rio Olympics. The days of Britain being a nation of sporting losers is a thing of the past. The country has won 67 medals including 27 golds, 23 silvers and 17 bronzes. It stands second on the medals table of Rio2016.

In historical terms, Barnes said, the success achieved by Britain at the Rio Olympics was sudden. Even though it all started after Atlanta games in 1996 which saw the country finishing 36th in the medals table - one gold among them. It was behind Kazakhstan, Algeria, Belgium and Ireland.

Following the poor Atlanta showing, everything in the UK sport looked very dreadful, Barnes recalls.

So, what turned the tide for the UK?

According to Barnes, the ‘invention’ of the national lottery by former prime minister John Major was the turning point. A fifth for the proceeds generated from the lottery was redirected to sport.

CTC Sentinel - August 2016 Issue Now Online

US Army War College Parameters Summer 2016 Issue Now Online

Special Commentary

Russian Military Power

Challenges in Asia

War: Theory and Practice

Capturing the Character of Future War by Paul R. Norwood, Benjamin M. Jensen, and Justin Barnes

Initial Findings of the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Task Force on U.S. Central Command Intelligence Analysis

August 21, 2016 

Joint Task Force on U.S. Central Command Intelligence Analysis

(U) Executive Summary 

(U) The Joint Task Force was created by the Chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to investigate the allegations of a whistleblower that intelligence produced by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) had been manipulated to present an unduly positive outlook on CENTCOM efforts to train the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Although investigations into the whistleblower’s allegations continue, the Joint Task Force has conducted sufficient investigation to reach certain interim conclusions. Those conclusions are contained in this report. However, the Joint Task Force awaits the completion of the ongoing Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) investigation into this matter. 

(U) Based on its own investigation, the Joint Task Force has substantiated that structural and management changes made at the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate starting in mid-2014 resulted in the production and dissemination of intelligence products that were inconsistent with the judgments of many senior, career analysts at CENTCOM. These products were consistently more optimistic regarding the conduct of U.S. military action than that of the senior analysts. Based on specific case studies evaluated by the Joint Task Force, during the time period evaluated by the Joint Task Force, CENTCOM produced intelligence that was also significantly more optimistic than that of other parts of the Intelligence Community (IC) and typically more optimistic than actual events warranted. Additionally, many CENTCOM press releases, public statements, and congressional testimonies were also significantly more positive than actual events. 

The West Has a Ukraine Challenge, and It's Not Going Away

August 22, 2016

Since the Middle Ages, Kyivan Rus—the loose network of warring principalities whose borders vaguely coincide with today’s Ukraine—has been exposed to waves of invaders from neighboring states. This list of aggressors includes the Normans, Mongols, Poles, Ottomans, Habsburg Austrians, Germans, and Nazis—and not least, Muscovite Russians, the Romanov Russian Empire, and Bolsheviks. Each invasion destroyed political and social institutions, produced staggering human casualties, and delayed the country’s development.

Today Russia’s policy toward Ukraine demonstrates that Russian foreign policy has always been expansionist. Russia is eager to control neighboring states through diplomacy and economic ties if possible (to wit, the Eurasian Economic Union), and through destabilization and force if necessary. The Russian drive for empire is so primeval, it has been in evidence even without an “official” ideological doctrine since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Privatization czar Anatoly Chubais’ “liberal empire” was an early warning that modern Russia had not given up its expansionist impulses. Now the liberal epithet is gone and far more sinister figures play in the imperial sandbox, including the military and the Federal Security Service, or FSB, as well as Alexander Dugin, Alexander Prokhanov, Maxim Shevchenko, and other anti-Western great power chauvinists, ultra-nationalists, and Ukraine-haters.

The dangers of no-first-use

22 AUGUST 2016

Franklin C. Miller is a principal of The Scowcroft Group. He is a retired civil servant, having...

Keith B. Payne is president and co-founder of the National Institute for Public Policy, and professor and department head at...

The Obama administration reportedly is seriously considering adoption of a no-first-use nuclear policy. Such a declaratory policy would tell the world that the United States would never use nuclear weapons other than in response to an opponent’s nuclear attack. To some, such a policy may seem attractive because it suggests a type of symmetry and proportionality with regard to nuclear weapons.

In fact, however, US adoption of a no-first-use policy would create serious risks without offering any plausible benefit.

Why so? There is no doubt that the US nuclear deterrent has prevented war and the escalation of war in the past. For example, there is considerable evidence from the 1991 First Gulf War that the US nuclear deterrent helped to prevent Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from escalating to the use of Iraqi chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction—possibly saving tens of thousands of US and allied lives. A US pledge of no-first-use now would encourage current and future opponents to believe that they need not fear the US nuclear deterrent in response to their potential massive use of military force against us or our allies—including the use of advanced conventional weapons, and chemical and biological weapons.

Can America Share Its Superpower Status?

August 21, 2016 

The United States is in long-term relative decline. In absolute terms, the America of the future will be richer. But because other countries like China and India, and other regions like Africa, are growing more rapidly, America’s share of global wealth will decline. So will America’s share of global military power, which, in the industrial era, is loosely rather than perfectly correlated with relative economic weight.

Primacy, as a concept in international relations, can refer either to polarity (a country’s share of global economic and military resources) or to hegemony (a specialized function within an interdependent international community). Whether defined as polarity or hegemony, American global primacy is coming to an end.

Projections of national shares in GDP in 2050 by think tanks, investment banks and consulting firms tend to converge at the prediction that the world will have three economic poles or cores—China, the United States and Europe—or perhaps four, if India enjoys rapid and sustainable growth. “The World in 2050,” a report by PwC, assigns 20 percent of global GDP (in purchasing power parity) to China, 14 percent to the United States and India, and a mere 12 percent to Europe as a whole in 2050. A 2015 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit paints a similar picture, concluding: “By 2030 the top three economies of the world will be the US, China and India. Such will be the growth of the two latter countries, in particular, that by 2050 they will each be richer than the next five (Indonesia, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and the UK) put together. This will represent a scale of wealth relative to the rest of the top ten that is unique in recorded history.” Indeed, to use PwC’s numbers, China, the United States, India and Europe together would account for around 60 percent of global GDP. Sub-Saharan Africa’s population will explode in the next few generations, but its successful development, if it occurs, will take a long time.

Families of Russian Soldiers Killed in the Secret Wars in the Ukraine and Syria Not Getting Death Benefits and Other Russian Security News

August 23, 2016

Russia: Just A Little Unfriendly Reminder

Families of soldiers killed in Syria and Donbas are complaining that they are not getting the $30,000 death benefit the government insists is paid to the families of troops killed in combat. The government admits to 19 soldiers killed in Syria so far but is less forthcoming about deaths in Ukraine. Because Russia has declared data about combat casualties a state secret, families risk prosecution if they go public, or too public, with their complaints. The news does get out via the Internet, which the government is trying to censor, especially inside Russia. That effort has been only partially successful so far. The government also tries to interfere with bad news getting out via the Internet by employing a growing force of Internet disinformation specialists. These people are popularly known on the Internet as trolls but the professional ones working for a government can be pretty effective. It does it make it more difficult to figure out what is news and what is propaganda or trolling (disinformation). But the stories of soldiers getting killed in Ukraine and Syria and the government trying to hide the details is something that has happened before and proved to be true.

The problem is that it takes months or years for enough evidence to surface to prove or disprove something. Meanwhile the only recourse families have is to report the problem to the Military Prosecutor. The government still plays it pretty straight in going after corruption in the military) because it is generally agreed (based on past experience) that corruption in the military is one of the major problems in maintaining actual (as opposed to pretend) effectivel military power. While the military prosecutor will usually go after the corrupt official who stole the death benefit (not a new problem in Russia) this gets those who complained on a blacklist (of “troublesome citizens”) that can lead to later problems.

Improving Cybersecurity Through Human Systems Integration

August 22, 2016 

Improving Cybersecurity Through Human Systems Integration

Cybersecurity threats represent one of the most serious national security, public safety, and economic challenges we face as a nation.

- -2010 National Security Strategy

On 26 October 2015, Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal observed: [1]

It is only a matter of when before someone uses cyber as a tool to do damage to critical infrastructure within our nation. I’m watching nation states, groups within some of that infrastructure. At the moment they seem to be focused on reconnaissance, but it’s only a matter of time until someone actually does something destructive.

The second trend that concerns me, historically to date we’ve largely been focused on the extraction of data and insights, whether it be for intellectual property for commercial or criminal advantage. But what happens when suddenly our data is manipulated, and you no longer can believe what you’re physically seeing?

And the third phenomenon when I think about threats that concern me is what happens when the nonstate actor, take ISIL for example, whose vision of the world is diametrically opposed to ours, starts viewing the Web not just as a vehicle to generate revenue, to recruit, to spread the ideology, but as a weapons system.

The most common means of compromising systems is the Advanced Persistent Threat employing highly targeted deceptive emails (“spearphishing”) to trick the email recipient into compromising credentials. Commenting on the spearphishing problem, Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, observed: [2]

NSA’s Increasingly Difficult Mission of Protecting US Government/Military Communications

Ian Duncan
August 23, 2016

Suspected leak shines spotlight on the NSA’s conflicting missions

A top National Security Agency official revealed this month that the agency’s staff had rushed to the scene of virtually every major hack of a government computer network in the past two years.

Curtis W. Dukes, director of information assurance at the NSA, was trying to emphasize the Fort Meade-based spy outfit’s lesser-known but growing role of helping to protect the nation’s sensitive data.

But while Dukes was speaking to reporters in Washington, the cyber world was poring over a leaked cache of what appeared to be tools developed by the NSA for its more controversial activity: surveilling, spying and hacking.

The disclosure of the files — the NSA hasn’t confirmed that they’re authentic, but researchers and former NSA employees say they seem to be — underscored once again the tension between the two sides of NSA’s dual mission: breaking into computer networks overseas in search of useful intelligence about foreign governments and terrorists and helping protect America’s networks against foreign spies and other hackers.