24 September 2016

*** Target China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

By RSN Singh
23 Sep , 2016

Pakistan began by playing incendiary game in the Valley by contriving Burhan Wani as the spark. India responded by enlarging the geopolitical arena of conflict to PoK and Balochistan. If the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through PoK, do we treat it as fate-accompli? Any government which tacitly acquiesces as such is guilty of betrayal of the resolution of parliament, which in effect is a ‘national resolution’. Such a government will also be guilty of facilitating the transition of ‘two front’ situation in context of Pakistan and China to a new inimical reality of ‘territorial embrace’.

We ought to be clear that the CPEC is essentially a strategic project with military objectives intrinsic to it.

The CPEC yokes PoK and Balochistan to China. It was imperative therefore for the Indian Prime Minister to address our territorial rights with regard to PoK as well as Balochistan, given the illegal strategic link scripted by China and Pakistan. Moreover when such an illegal project plays havoc with human lives and environment in our territory, our inaction and silence would be criminal. We ought to be clear that the CPEC is essentially a strategic project with military objectives intrinsic to it.

Several trips by Raheel Sharif to China with the exclusive agenda of the CPEC under-scores the fact. The exaggerated economic advantages accruing from the project to the two countries is secondary. Nevertheless, it has fired frenzied hope amongst the impoverished people of Pakistan. Both, the people and the military see it as a panacea for accumulated economic woes and insecurities vis-à-vis India. The public hysteria over CPEC in Pakistan is palpable on every conceivable public platform. Any mishap with the project, it seems would drive Pakistan into incurable depression.

** Lies and More Lies : Dissecting Pak PM’s Speech at UNGA

By Brig NK Bhatia, SM (Retd)
22 Sep , 2016

Those who saw live coverage of Pakistan Prime Minister’s live speech at the 71st session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) would have been shocked and dismayed at the candor, demeanor and a straight jacket face displayed by him while making reference to issues that perpetrate out of its territory and as its stated policy that are the root causes of instability in the region.

Pakistan had probably tasted blood and learnt to effectively use non regulars as instruments of its state policy.

Consider the following statements made from pedestal of the highest international organ; United Nations.


“My country has been the principal victim of terrorism including that supported, sponsored and financed from abroad.” “We will not allow externally sponsored terrorism and threats of destabilization to cause turbulence in Pakistan.”

The statement appears to be satirical in the backdrop of clinching and irrefutable evidence that Pakistan is the fountain head and biggest architect of nurturing outfits that use religious indoctrination, violence and use of terrorism as a tool to achieve their stated objectives.

Historically these can be traced back to day when it came into existence. Use of irregulars for invasion of Kashmir in 1947 was the first instance Pakistan unleashed armed intruders on a helpless Kashmiri population. Timely and resound action by Indian Army forced the retreat of raiders until Prime Minister Nehru declared a ceasefire.

But Pakistan had probably tasted blood and learnt to effectively use non regulars as instruments of its state policy.

* Pakistan Army Chief’s Adventurism 2016 and India’s Options

By Dr Subhash Kapila
23 Sep , 2016

Pakistan Army Chiefs have compulsively resorted to Kashmir-centric military adventurism against India based on flawed and misconceived assessments on Kashmir Valley being ripe for secession from India and a misreading of firmness of resolve of Indian political leaders in responding to their military adventurism.

The Pakistan Army supported and facilitated terrorist attacks against the Indian Army have increased for over a year now during the incumbency of the General Raheel Sharif, the present Pakistan Army Chief due to retire in November 2016. In case of General Raheel Sharif what requires to be noted is that his adventurism is not confined only to military adventurism against India but also extended to political adventurism in Pakistan’s domestic politics. For all practical purposes, he had carried out a ‘soft coup’ against Pakistan’s duly elected PM Nawaz—reflected in one of my papers of that time. Having carved a larger than life domestic political image with his disputable counter-terrorism offensive in frontier regions, General Raheel Sharif seems to be having second thoughts on living upto his January 2016 public announcement that he will not seek extension. What better way to get out of his commitment than to escalate tensions with India and thereby facilitating an extension to be thrust on him. Be as it may, what is of concern to India as to what impelled the Pakistan Army Chief to indulge in conflict-escalation with Kashmir Valley-centric contours?

Once again like in 1965 and thereafter, yet another Pakistan Army Chief has grossly misread that the Kashmir Valley is ripe for secession from India based on the intensity of the Pakistan Army incited unrest. Blame for this misreading has to be shared by the Indian policy establishment in its permissive toleration of Kashmir Valley separatists like the Hurriyat leaders openly declaring their loyalties to Pakistan. Greater share of such blame needs to be apportioned to India’s ‘intellectual terrorists’ of Indian opposition parties, media elites and academics propagating ‘dialogue’ with seditionists. Such Indian manifestations seem to have fed Pakistani Army Chief’s perceptions that India was adopting appeasement policies to Kashmir Valley seditionists out of fear of loss of the Kashmir Valley because the people of Jammu and Ladakh hate Pakistan.

‘Offensive defence’ is not the best strategy

K.C. Singh

India needs to wean Mr Sharif away from his Army and Pakistan away from China, into the arms of which it is being driven more deeply. Good strategy, as they say, can tolerate poor tactics...

America’s President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech, with the US presidential elections less than two months away, but Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped the UN General Assembly 71st session’s high-level segment September 20-26 in New York on the theme of “Sustainable development goals: A universal push to transform the world”, and the Chinese only sent Premier Li Keqiang. The other Permanent Five leaders were there, but the razzmatazz was clearly missing.

But unaffected by that, Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif, after some notional references to the theme, launched a tendentious attack on India. Pakistan wants peace but no preconditions were acceptable for talks as the talks are “not a favour to Pakistan”. Jammu and Kashmir was the core of the dispute. The unrest in Kashmir Valley is an “indigenous uprising”. He alleged human rights abuses too, about which he was submitting a dossier to the UN Secretary-General. Finally he reiterated the Pakistani litany about India ignoring the 1948 UNSC resolutions mandating a plebiscite to determine the will of the people.

The shroud of a word

Aakash Joshi

Describing soldiers who died in Uri as martyrs does them a disservice

Flying officer Nirmal Jit Sekhon single-handedly defended the Srinagar air base against an attack by the Pakistan air force during the 1971 war. He is the only member of the IAF to have received the Param Vir Chakra (PVC). Havildar Abdul Hamid also received the PVC for his service during the 1965 war. He took out three Pakistani army Patton tanks, with his gun mounted on a jeep, before he was killed by a fourth. Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla (PVC) went down with his ship, the INS Khukri, in the 1971 war, saving the lives of many of his crew in the process. All three men were honoured for their bravery and their sacrifice. Officially, the armed forces refer to their deceased as battle casualties, “killed in action” and in more sombre moments as simply “the fallen”. Nirmal Jit Sekhon, Abdul Hamid and Mahendra Nath Mulla did not die for their religion. They died doing their duty for their country

Martyr is not the traditional or official term for professional soldiers killed in uniform or civilian victims of terrorist attacks. Yet recently, most notably after the Uri attack, the media, government and even ordinary people have increasingly begun to use the locution for deceased soldiers and, at times, even civilian victims of terror. The misuse of a word as powerful as that is not merely a semantic error — it is also a kind of moral sleight-of-hand that allows the powers that be to obfuscate the complexity of the world we live in and their own negligence in the tragedy of innocent lives lost.

If India is serious about making Pakistan pay, it can't go back to business as usual

A clear and extraordinary focus on addressing the enduring deficits and demands of the defence and security sectors is the need of the hour.

The inevitable cycle that follows each exceptional terrorist attack – the explosion of tired bombast about "dastardly deeds" (the new and improved version is "despicable attack"), promises that they will not go unpunished, sweeping accusations of security failures, with insidious claims about "specific intelligence" having been abundantly provided in advance, and, of course, the noise and violence of media debates – have now almost subsided in the wake of the Uri attack. Soon, it will be business as usual.

This is how it has been in numberless cases of Pakistan-backed terrorist excesses in the past; this is how it will be now. The limited riposte the Army will deliver, at a time of its own choosing, along the International Border or the Line of Control, is also part of this predictable cycle.

How can India break out of this fruitless pattern? Bomb Pakistan? Surgical strikes? Limited war? Diplomatic offensives? The armed forces’ leadership has, by now, already informed the government that the military option is limited, its outcomes uncertain. The government has suitably turned down its belligerent rhetoric. As for diplomatic offensives, they are quite worthless, though they may make some of our diplomats feel even more important than they already do.

For decades, the world did not heed India’s evidence of Pakistani malfeasance. A skeptical West (that really is the "world", in terms of the equations of power) was quite unable to distinguish between terrorists and freedom fighters. Now, since Caucasians, among others, are dying in terrorist attacks across Europe and America, the West has no problem with such distinctions, and is immediately able to recognise terrorists on sight, and is aware that there is a Pakistani footprint to almost every attack on their sacred lands (including the latest serial bombings in New York and New Jersey).

Op Ed : The Uri Fiasco

By Shiv Kunal Verma
21 September 2016

The Uri Brigade, along with the one located at Poonch, are perhaps two of our most vulnerable formations simply because both these Brigade HQs are directly under observation from Pakistani positions. Uri is where the Jhelum River and the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway leave Indian territory and enter POK. 

The Uri bowl is dominated by features that are in the region of 1500 to 2000 mtrs and is clearly visible from Haji Pir (yes, the same Haji Pir that was handed 'back' to Pakistan in Tashkent in 1965) - if I'm not mistaken the distance between Uri town and the pass is barely 6 km as the crow flies. This does away with even the need for HUMINT, for the planners of any attack can literally see everything 'real time'. From the Indian perspective, the overall landscape is a defenders nightmare for the terrain along the LOC is such that there are many mountain streams in the region along which infiltration usually takes place. The noise of the water makes it impossible for ambush parties to detect movement. 

Over the years, the Indian side has spent tons of money deploying specialized equipment like HHTI (Hand Held Thermal Imagers) and a variety of sophisticated equipment including ground sensors. The technology has helped in many ways, for the days when large parties of 100 to 120 men would infiltrate in the early 1990s is now history. However, new equipment means new equations in the changing dynamics of the LOC – for Pakistan then began to send in smaller parties of 10-12 men. This too soon became too large a group and today, the norm is to send in even smaller parties of 3 to 4 men along the traditional routes around Ghikote, Sahora Hathlanla and Gulmarg, which is further towards the north. The north bank of the Jhelum over the years has seen a large number of encounters in the areas of Lachchipura and Maiyan Baihak on the Kazi Nag Dar ridge. It is a well-known fact that Kamalkote, a village situated bang on the LOC, has been a smuggling village. This is also not the first time that the Brigade in Uri has been targeted… 

Uri attack: Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs, why is only India anxious?

Sep 22, 2016 

The Indian mind, living in its opulence of spirituality and self-belief in all things good, refuses to see the harshness of the truth inherent in the order of the nation states. Every Indian is a yoga guru. Every yoga guru, including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, believes that he can engineer the rise of India as a great power without suffering a wound. But the international society of nation-states is a hostile place. This hostility was on display again on 18 September, when eighteen Indian soldiers were killed and dozens wounded in an attack on the Indian Army camp at Uri, planned, sponsored and executed by Pakistan. This is a known enemy. Every Indian is an anti-Chanakya.

The known enemy attacks us in known ways and in known places. We are taught that Mahmud Ghazni launched 17 attacks on Indian cities during 1000–1027 CE, through known means, through known routes, seizing the Somnath temple in Gujarat in the final invasion. But we are not taught that each time we waited for him to do so, we did not go beyond our borders to prevent him, to tame him, to fight him, to eliminate him. In history, you wouldn't find instances when a known enemy torments an entire people so many times and they don't respond. Much like Mahmud Ghazni, Pakistan, the known enemy, torments us in Jammu & Kashmir. Each time, we have prior intelligence input. Each time, we wait. Each time, we do not engineer a response.

The army camp in Uri where the attack happened. PTI

The 18 September attack at Uri is perhaps the worst Pakistani attack since the Kaluchak attack of 14 May, 2002 when three soldiers, 18 relatives of Indian soldiers and ten civilians were killed. On 2 January this year, the enemy stormed the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot, killing seven soldiers. It succeeded because Indian policemen in Punjab were hand-in-glove with the enemies to earn money via illicit drugs routes. Similar attacks have taken place in Jammu & Kashmir regularly. Even after the enemy invaded Kargil in 1999, the largest jihadist war in modern times executed by Pakistan, we chose to serve biryani to General Pervez Musharraf, our tormentor in chief. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs. It is only the Indian mind that feels threatened.

Wikileaks Expose: The whole story of UPA selling Siachin to Pakistan and how Indian Army saved it.

Year 2006-20012

Deputy National Security Advisor Leela Ponappa and Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) T.C.A. Raghavan, in separate meetings with visiting Ambassador Patterson, indicated that the GOI is seized from top to bottom with the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, but is confident that it has the structures in place to address the situation. The Pakistani infrastructure facilitating infiltration and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir remains intact. Extremist groups active in Jammu and Kashmir are becoming indistinguishable from those operating in the northwest of Pakistan and pose a regional threat. The GOI is ready to continue dialogue with the GOP but the Kabul embassy bombing and Pakistan’s support for cross border terrorism is making it difficult for India to sustain its commitment to normalization of relations. In private meetings, the GOP has acknowledged the gravity of the Kabul attack and promised a report. The political drama in Pakistan is drawing attention from the Line of Control. Raghavan and Ponappa said that people-to-people contact between the countries is thriving but there are zero military-to-military exchanges. Raghavan reported little progress on the Siachen dispute.

GOI wanted peace in the valley. And for that it has deployed its team. Programs like ‘Aman Ki Aasha’ were the normal routine those days. Normalizing the situation and bettering the relations with Pakistan was the main priority. Nobody knows that “Aman Ki Aasha” was to woo the minority voters or to better the relations with the neighbors.

Dealing with the next Uri — or Mumbai

SEP 21 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

These are early days yet, but it is still difficult to overcome the impression that the Indian system was not fully prepared to meet the Uri contingency. This is unfortunate and surprising. Considering that Prime Minister Modi has been a strong critic of India’s lack of firm response to Pakistan’s attacks on previous occasion, one would have thought that the Indian system would have deliberated and decided on India’s options under various contingencies, including such a predictable terrorist outrage. But even if India is unable to respond to the Uri attack, there is still time for the Modi government to recover. Pakistan, after all, is not about to stop terror attacks against India. Immediate preparation will allow the government to be ready to respond to a future attack.

It is possible that India’s civilian leaders, including Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, assumed that the military had such plans and they would be made available to the civilian leaders whenever they were needed. This appears to have been the general approach of previous governments, as we know from the high-level deliberations after the Mumbai attack. If so, hopefully the current crisis will disabuse them of such assumptions and demonstrate that they need to take a much more active role in planning for potential military contingencies.

India After Nonalignment Why Modi Skipped the Summit

By Sumit Ganguly
September 19, 2016
Source Link

Throughout the past several decades, it would have been heresy to suggest that India’s foreign policy was based on anything other than nonalignment. The doctrine, which had its origins in the early Cold War and was based on the idea that its adherents could steer a course between the two superpowers and establish a more just and peaceable world order, had an almost talismanic quality for India’s foreign policy establishment. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this sentiment was the publication of Nonalignment 2.0in 2014 by several highly regarded former Indian policymakers and noted analysts, who sought to give the doctrine new life. Even now, the Nonaligned Movement is known for passing hoary resolutions calling for Security Council reform and for a more equitable global economic order.

That is why Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to skip the Non-Aligned Summit in Margarita, Venezuela, last week has elicited a fair share of commentary in New Delhi. The summit, which India has attended annually, is ostensibly meant to address a range of common concerns among the membership. In reality, it is best known for overblown rhetoric and little or no substance.

Most commentators have lamented Modi’s decision. Writing in the widely read online Indian newspaper The Wire, one commentator, Arun Mohan Sukumar, stated that, “the fact is that the Nonaligned Movement is a multilateral institution that still holds promise for Indian diplomacy.” Those who disagree with Modi’s move have sought to attribute it to one or two possible motives. One argument holds that Modi is self-consciously attempting to distance himself from the foreign policy legacy of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the principal architect of independent India’s foreign policy. According to this line of thinking, Modi is charting a different course because he is personally skeptical of Nehru’s legacy, which he sees as much too idealistic and lacking an understanding of the role of material power in international politics, but also believes that the movement is anachronistic.

Why containment of Pakistan is better than war

September 20, 2016
Source Link

'Terrorism is merely a symptom of a deeper disease in Pakistan's body politic,' says Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

The Uri base attack by suicide attackers on September 18 ought not to have come as a surprise to us or the world. A few days before this attack, a similar attempt on the Poonch garrison was foiled by our troops.

That said, no country can afford to continue to turn the other cheek when repeatedly slapped, Gandhian philosophy notwithstanding. For that is to undermine national morale and further encourage terror attacks.

Having been on the ground in Uri several times, one has to appreciate the basic fact that preventing suicide attacks every time on a base close to border is a statistical impossibility. Even a super-efficient State like Israel has been unable to do so.

When the Japanese launched Kamikaze attacks on American ships towards the end of World War II, the Americans had no real answer to it.

The only counter to a suicide attack is to intercept the attackers before they reach the target.

In India, the problem is further compounded by the media and judiciary who label collateral damage as human rights violations. We want to apply provisions of the Indian Penal Code to a proxy war situation where the rules of war prevail.

We have failed to appreciate that the soldier is simultaneously facing an insurgency as well as a proxy war.

China’s Belt and Road initiative: can Europe expect trade gains?

The Belt and Road aims to ease bottlenecks for cross-border trade in Asia, Europe and Africa. This paper measures empirically whether the reduction in transportation costs will have a positive impact on trade flows for Belt and Road countries and for EU countries. The authors also explore the possibility that the Belt and Road may eventually go beyond its current objectives towards the creation of a free trade area.

The Belt and Road initiative, recently embarked on by China, aims to improve cross-border infrastructure in order to reduce transportation costs across a massive geographical area between China and Europe.

The authors estimate how much trade might be created among Belt and Road countries as a consequence of the reduction in transportation costs (both railway and maritime) and find that European Union countries, especially landlocked countries, should benefit considerably. This is also true for eastern Europe and Central Asia and, to a lesser extent, south-east Asia.

In contrast, if China were to seek to establish a free trade area within the Belt and Road region, EU member states would benefit less, while Asia would benefit more. Xi Jinping’s current vision for the Belt and Road, centred on improving transport infrastructure, is very good news for Europe as far as trade creation is concerned.

How to Counter China’s Global Propaganda Offensive

SEPT. 21, 2016

BERLIN — It has been a difficult year for many Western democracies — and China is rubbing it in. As Donald J. Trump rose in the Republican primaries, the state-run Xinhua news agency gleefully described the United States presidential election as “an entertaining drama that illustrates the malfunction of the self-claimed world standard of democracy.” AnotherXinhua article exploited the leak of Democratic Party emails to reassert that “money politics has become an incurable disease of the American electoral system.”

America’s democracy is not the only target. China’s state media also came out swinging after the British vote to leave the European Union. An articlein Global Times put it bluntly: “Brexit lays bare Western democracy’s facade.”

At a time when the West is struggling with the shortcomings of the democratic process, China is seizing the opportunity to promote its own system. Much more so than his immediate predecessors, President Xi Jinping views his country in an ideological competition with the West. No longer content with stopping the influence of democratic ideas at China’s borders, Chinese propaganda experts have decided they need to focus on making China’s political system attractive abroad if the Communist Party wants to stay in power.

Backed by an estimated annual budget of $10 billion, Chinese media organizations are expanding their global presence, heeding Mr. Xi’s call to media organizations to “tell China’s story well.” This means casting the Chinese political system, the so-called China model, as meritocratic, efficiency-oriented rule by well-trained technocrat visionaries that is superior to Western democracy.

Balancing Act: The China-India-U.S. Triangle

Addressing a security conference in India in March 2016, Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, noted “with admiration India’s peaceful resolution of disputes with neighbors in the waters of the Indian Ocean,” while criticizing China for seeking “to bully smaller nations through intimidation and coercion.” It was more than a straw in the wind. Harris also called on India to join the United States, Japan, and Australia to deal with common security challenges in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region via the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or Quad). Although each values its economic ties with China, Washington, Tokyo, Canberra, and New Delhi, all share a common interest in ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region is not dominated by China and the overall balance of power remains favorable to the liberal democracies.

Many believe that Beijing would have been far less aggressive in its “island building” and the other challenges to the status quo in the Pacific norms if the Quad had already been in place. But Harris called for the new initiative in the spirit of better late than never. With media reporting the first-ever trilateral naval exercise planned by the U.S., Indian, and Japanese navies in the South China Sea, the Admiral hoped that in the not too distant future, American and Indian navy vessels steaming together will become “a common and welcome sight” throughout Indo-Asia-Pacific waters. Not surprisingly, China reacted fast and furiously to the prospect of a more robust Indo-U.S. entente, warning both to stand back.

The Origins of the Triangle

An EU Terrorist Finance Tracking System

8 September 2016

A decade after revelations of information sharing between US authorities and SWIFT, policymakers have proposed a terrorist finance tracking system for Europe.

The idea for a European equivalent to the US’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) – an investigative tool for tracing and linking international financial transactions in order to detect terrorist plots and networks – was first proposed by members of the European Parliament and certain EU member states during the 2010 negotiations on the EU–US TFTP Agreement.

This Occasional Paper studies the possible development of an EU Terrorist Finance Tracking System (EU TFTS), which was announced in the February 2016 EU Action Plan to Strengthen the Fight Against Terrorist Financing. It will first recall the history of the US TFTP and the context in which demand for an equivalent in the EU emerged. It will then discuss the previous proposals as well as current ideas for an EU TFTS. Finally, it will provide concluding thoughts to help drive and shape renewed discussions on the creation of an EU TFTS.

In undertaking this study, the paper draws on interviews with individuals within the national ministries in several EU member states, officials from EU institutions (the European Commission and the Council Secretariat) as well as members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and several US experts on the TFTP. It also makes use of official documents, media reports, academic literature and previous research by the author.

The Drone Revolution Revisited

The Drone Revolution Revisited


In 2009, not many people were talking seriously about robots in war. Even though every U.S. armed service operated drones either in the air, on the ground, or undersea, and though numerous initiatives to develop the next generation of advanced systems were already publicly underway, there was very little broad public dialogue on the topic. By 2012, the year that we founded the Center for the Study of the Drone, news stories about unmanned systems technology and its implications were appearing regularly, and a vibrant public debate around the use of these systems was increasingly filling the airwaves.

What put drones into the the public spotlight? One factor was undoubtedly the inauguration of President Obama, whose administration quickly expanded the military’s use of drones. Another significant factor was the book Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by Peter W. Singer. Published in 2009, Wired for War offered a comprehensive portrait of the influx of drones into the U.S. military at a critical time in the history of the technology, and the many ways in which they would transform the battlefield. By presenting the rapidly expanding menagerie of drones in both the sky and on the ground, Singer demonstrated that the field of military robotics had matured to a point where it was disrupting the status quo. He described proliferating technologies that were already presenting significant challenges and opportunities—one example being the psychological impact of remote warfare on drone pilots and sensor operators—as well as programs and fields of research that were likely to yield new transformative capabilities in the near future. One such track was the development of autonomous weapons systems that can identify and engage targets without human intervention.

The book served as a core text in our class “The Drone Revolutions,” an undergraduate seminar held at Bard College in the spring 2016 academic semester. The class sought to lay out a broad overview of unmanned systems technology in both military and civilian spheres, and equip students with the analytical tools to conduct original research on unmanned systems. As a final assignment for the seminar, we asked each student to research two platforms or technologies described in Wired for War in order to determine whether the program still exists, how the system has developed, and how the technology is currently being used (and by whom).

Fighting ISIS with Silicon Valley's Help: How Far Should Government Go?

September 21, 2016 

Making social-media companies enforce U.S. policy is the wrong approach.
During the recent Commander-in-Chief Forum, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stated that we need to wage a war against ISIS “online, in cyberspace.” Defeating ISIS’s cyber power, she continued, required the government to “work with Silicon Valley.” Earlier this year, Clinton also stated that if elected president, she would work with social media companies to “step up” their counterterrorism efforts. To what extent can or should the U.S. government rely on a strategy of engaging with Silicon Valley to defeat terrorist organizations via cyberspace?

Terrorists are increasingly using social media to spread propaganda, plan attacks, raise funds and boast about their deeds. Investigators believe ISIS terrorists used encrypted apps, including WhatsApp to plan the November 2015 Paris and March 2016 Brussels attacks. Earlier this year, for months on end ISIS fighters in the Middle East used Facebook group pages as “weapons bazaars” to sell heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, rockets and heat-seeking missiles. In France, an ISIS-inspired terrorist streamed a part of his gruesome attack on a police officer using Facebook Live. Social media companies have tried to counter such efforts: in May 2016, Facebook quickly suspended an attempt by ISIS to sell sex slaves on its platform, and last monthTwitter announced that it had closed hundreds of thousands of terrorism-associated accounts. But terrorists continue to exploit loopholes in such platforms to wreak havoc: in 2016 alone, through mid-September, there have been over 1,200 terrorist attacks—many ISIS-related, many involving some use of social media—claiming over eleven thousand lives on almost every continent.

While terrorists are using cyberspace, the limits of U.S. government efforts to engage with Silicon Valley remain narrow. Despite the White House’s dialoguewith Silicon Valley on cyberterrorism this past February, there are few laws that give clear authority to the government to compel companies to combat online radicalization or share encrypted data used by terrorists. Notably absent from the dialogue was Apple, and other Silicon Valley companies may similarly push back on government-led initiatives in the future. Congress has been unable to pass proper legislation to tackle terrorists’ use of cyberspace. The fewbills currently in Congress tackling terrorism on social media provide scant guidance on what legal responsibility Silicon Valley firms have in cases when terrorists use their platforms. There are also no legal penalties on individuals using social-media platforms to spread radical propaganda. Lawsuits brought by families of victims of terrorism, alleging that Facebook, Twitter and Googleare partially responsible for ISIS and Hamas attacks, will most likely be dismissed given present U.S. laws.

Backgrounder: Who Leads ISIS?

September 22, 2016

The London-based Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism (CRT) has published a very timely and useful 70-page booklet laying out the organization structure of the leadership structure of ISIS, as well as providing some very helpful background data on the organization’s top leaders and military commanders.

If you are serious about wanting to know who is behind ISIS, this is a must-read. The report can be accessed here.

The Need to Outsource Information Operations: Gramsci and the Ideological Defeat of Islamic Terrorism

September 19, 2016 

The Need to Outsource Information Operations: Gramsci and the Ideological Defeat of Islamic Terrorism

The Communist intellectual Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) developed the theory of cultural hegemony to further the establishment of a working-class worldview. Courtesy Wikimedia

Subject to a twenty-year jail sentence, and dying of exposure and abuse in an Italian prison in the late 1920s, the young communist Antonio Gramsci ruminated on why so many of the common people of Italy had been so resistant to what he regarded as the liberating message of Marxism, the crime of spreading of which was the reason he had been imprisoned. While meditating upon this conundrum, he hit upon an observation that would profoundly change the evolution of modern political thought as well as human sociology. He observed that, in general, human nature seems to impel members of any given society to stabilize the social order in which they live by collectively internalizing as reality certain abstract conceptions concerning what each individual considers the right and proper role each citizen should properly play in society. He further observed that these abstract assumptions concerning citizen roles underpinning society were mainly inculcated by the combined influence of established cultural institutions that reinforced each other in a manner that colluded to keep the structure of the social order fixed.

This process of converting abstractions into a perception that such were reality was a process Marxist theorists had already defined as reification (e.g., abstractions perceived as reality).1

However, by such reification, Gramsci observed, the roles and classes that existed in society came to be accepted by the members of the general populace as the natural and proper social order, even when such acceptance placed many of citizens in the position of being exploited and oppressed.2 And, of course, the prime benefactors of this process of reification and the social stratification that it produced were those economic classes at the top of the class structure. He described this phenomenon of reification that ensconced some at the top and the majority at the bottom of the socio-economic order as ideological “hegemony”.3 This concept is sometimes termed “cultural hegemony” by Marxist scholars.4

Barack Obama: The Great Divider

Even if Obama cannot solve America’s race problem, the power of the presidency ensures that he can make it worse. So far, he has.

Had the Obama years turned out differently, the President’s recent remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus might have been forgivable, or at least forgettable. “I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy,” he informed, if the African-American community “lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election.” In the current state of race relations, however, President Obama’s comments, whatever their impact on the November elections, are likely to aggravate them.

To appreciate the significance of Obama’s remarks, it bears mentioning Obama’s path to the presidency. In the forty years before Obama’s election, a succession of vice presidents and governors ascended to the Oval Office only after decades of scrutiny in the public arena.

Obama was judged by a different standard. The journey from Columbia University to Editor of the Harvard Law Review to an appointment on the University of Chicago faculty is typically littered with scholarly publications, clerkships, and other professional accolades. In Obama’s case, the most conspicuous items on his resume were two autobiographies – both about his racial identity -- and an unremarkable stint in Illinois politics. 

Yet it was on this basis that America gambled on Obama. What reason was there to catapult an anonymous state senator into the President of the United States within a span of four years?

5 Reasons The U.S. Army Will Lose Its Next War In Europe

by Loren Thompson
September 19, 2016

U.S. Army planners believe they may have to fight a “near-peer” adversary within five years. Near-peer in this case means a rapidly modernizing Russian military seeking to regain lost ground along Russia’s border with Europe. There’s plenty of evidence that Russia’s military is on the move in the Baltic region, near Ukraine, and elsewhere. Some observers have wrongly inferred that America’s Army has “only” five years to prepare for such a conflict. In fact, it has five years or less. It is common for aggressors to challenge new U.S. presidents early in their tenure.

If such a war were to occur, it would be mainly an Army show. The fight would be over control of large expanses of land with few geographical impediments to rapid advance. The U.S. Army would likely do most of the ground combat for NATO, because America contributes over two-thirds of the alliance’s resources. Losing such a war would drastically reshape the geopolitical balance in Europe, and reduce U.S. influence there to its lowest ebb since before World War Two. And yet losing is what the U.S. Army is currently postured to do.

This bleak outlook arises mainly because of the aggressive nationalism being exhibited by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but also because of strategic misjudgments by the last two U.S. presidents. George W. Bush removed two U.S. heavy (armored) brigades from Europe during the closing days of his presidency, and then Barack Obama proposed a strategic “pivot” to the Pacific that further reduced America’s military presence on the ground. Putin got the message Washington was focused elsewhere, and proceeded to annex parts of Ukraine in 2014…

CTC Sentinel | Volume 9, Issue 9 (September 2016)


This September marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The terrible events of that day created an urgent need to better understand the threat of global terrorism. This was the founding mission of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, which was established by Brigadier General (Ret) Russ Howard in 2003, and its flagship publication CTC Sentinel, which was launched in 2007 with a mandate to publish the most illuminating research in the field of terrorism studies as well as gain insights from key figures combating terrorism. This 100th issue of CTC Sentinel focuses on the evolution of the terrorist threat since 9/11. It features an extensive interview with CIA Director John Brennan in which he outlines the spectrum of threats and counterterrorism challenges now facing the United States.

In our feature article, Brian Michael Jenkins looks at what progress has been made in the “war on terrorism.” He argues that counterterrorism efforts have made the United States safer, but with Europe facing an acute threat and the Middle East roiling from the fallout from the failed Arab Spring, there is no end in sight to a war that has cost trillions of dollars and as many as 10,000 American lives. There may, however, be an expiration date on the Islamic State’s caliphate project. With the group under growing pressure in Iraq and Syria, Jacob Shapiro argues that the caliphate’s “slow collapse” was predictable from day one given its inability to generate sufficient economic output and revenue to sustain governance and being greatly outgunned by the coalition of states arrayed against it.

While “core” al-Qa`ida has been degraded by counterterrorism operations, the broader network has shown resilience. Charles Lister outlines how Syria has become the new Afghanistan for al-Qa`ida, offering a safe haven in which the group has built up a powerful presence, while Anne Stenersen details how the group is making a comeback in the country from which it launched the 9/11 attacks. The logic behind those attacks was that only by severing U.S. support for “un-Islamic” regimes could al-Qa`ida hope to make any progress toward establishing a new order in the Arab and Muslim world. The opportunities now available in a destabilized Arab world means that the United States is not seen as so large of a roadblock and al-Qa`ida appears to have de-prioritized international attack planning, at least for now. To overthrow regimes in the Arab and Muslim world, Ayman al-Zawahiri has long viewed it essential that jihadis win the support of the Muslim masses, a strategy Lister argues has been embraced by al-Qa`ida’s Syrian affiliate, including in its recent uncoupling from its mother-organization in order to broaden its local support. Stenersen argues that in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region the same imperative has led al-Qa`ida to build up an affiliate focused on the Indian Subcontinent and led and staffed by operatives from the region.

important paper

Henley Putnam University

· Journal of Strategic Security, 2016, Summer 2016, v. 9, no. 3 http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jss/vol9/iss3/

o Drugs & Thugs: Funding Terrorism through Narcotics Trafficking

o Secular States in a “Security Community”: The Migration-Terrorism Nexus?

o Britain’s Approach to Balancing Counter-Terrorism Laws with Human Rights

o Social Media: Insight on the Internal Dynamics of Mexican DTOs

o The Hidden Face of Terrorism: An Analysis of the Women in Islamic State

important paper

Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT)

· Journal of National Security Law & Policy, 2016, v. 8, no. 3 http://jnslp.com/topics/read/vol-8-no-3/

o Law Enforcement Access to Data Across Borders: The Evolving Security & Rights Issues

o 10 Standards for Oversight & Transparency of National Intelligence Services

o The 2014 Sony Hack and the Role of International Law

o How Technology Enhances the Right to Privacy: A Case Study on the Right to Hide Project of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

o Deterring Financially Motivated Cybercrime

o State Responsibility to Respect, Protect, & Fulfill Human Rights Obligations in Cyberspace

o An Essay on Domestic Surveillance

o Trends & Predictions in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance: The FAA & Beyond

o Spying & Fighting in Cyberspace: What is Which?

Win Cyberwar by Playing It Safe

September 21, 2016

Not so long after the now moot declaration of its independence, cyberspace is seen as the “fifth domain of warfare”. But who will be succeeding in this new domain? To identify winners and losers in cyberwar we first need to investigate what the key characteristics of confrontation in cyberspace are. 

Generally, new technologies widen the options for human activity, e.g. by making things possible that were previously unattainable or by facilitating them. This also applies to warfare. New technologies can be applied to enhance known techniques of warfare, e.g. through more efficient engines for tanks. But new technologies also add new possibilities of conducting warfare as well as new threats to (inter)national security. This is also true for the technologies underpinning cyberspace. 

However, there are several key characteristics of cyber-confrontation worth pointing out: first, the number of actors and their diversity increases. Non-state actors and even individuals can play in the fifth domain just as well as nation states. Second, the new tools of conflict, e.g. hacking infrastructure, differ in various ways from other categories of weapons. They are relatively easily available to and usable by actors with the needed know-how. As other goods of the digital economy, malicious software, once produced, is available at zero marginal cost and can thus be spread much more easily and renewed at a greater pace than traditional weapons. 

Cyberweapons are know-how intensive but not necessarily capital intensive. The interconnectedness of cyberspace, as beneficial for us as users as it may be, also means that attacks on this connected system also quickly lead to heavy damages through ripple effects. A third significant characteristic is that the new tools and technologies broaden the scope of warfare. Warfare used to be mostly about securing land, sea or air from clearly defined enemy forces. 

The Innovation Insurgency Scales - Hacking For Defense (H4D)

September 19, 2016 

The Innovation Insurgency Scales - Hacking For Defense (H4D)

Hacking for Defense is a battle-tested problem-solving methodology that runs at Silicon Valley speed. We just held our first Hacking for Defense Educators Class with 75 attendees.

The results: 13 Universities will offer the course in the next year, government sponsors committed to keep sending hard problems to the course, the Department of Defense is expanding their use of H4D to include a classified version, and corporate partners are expanding their efforts to support the course and to create their own internal H4D courses.

It was a good three days.

Another Tool for Defense Innovation

Last week we held our first 3-day Hacking for Defense Educator and Sponsor Class. Our goal in this class was to:

Train other educators on how to teach the class at their schools.

Teach Department of Defense /Intelligence Community sponsors how to deliver problems to these schools and how to get the most out of student teams.

Create a national network of colleges and universities that use the Hacking for Defense Course to provide hundreds of solutions to critical national security problems every year.

How the US Air Force is Rapidly Mobilizing For Cyber War


New ideas about defense and new tables of organization are reshaping the service’s ideas about battle.

“Are we organized correctly to defend our weapon systems from the cyber threats of the future?” asks Gen. John E. Hyten, who leads Air Force Space Command. “The answer is, ‘No, we’re not.’”

The battle domains of space and cyber are divorced, largely, from the raw physical reality of war. To Hyten, these two uninhabited spaces mirror one another in another way. They are fields of data and information and that’s what modern war runs on. “What are the missions we do in space today? Provide information; provide pathways for information; in conflict, we deny adversaries access to that information,” he told an audience on Wednesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference outside Washington, D.C.. The same is true of cyber.

The U.S. wages war with tools that require a lot of information, from live camera feeds from AC-130U aircraft over the rocky hills of Afghanistan to the command-and-control links connecting operators in the Nevada desert to the MQ-9 Reapers circling the plains of Syria and Iraq. Inevitably, more adversaries will eventually employ data-connected drones and gunships of their own. The heavy information component of modern-day weapons, particularly that those wielded by air forces, also creates vulnerabilities. Air Force leaders this week discussed how they are looking to reduce the vulnerability for the United States while increasing it for adversaries.

Shields Up

CYBERCOM not involved in most incidents

By: Mark Pomerleau
September 21, 2016

Despite the fact the U.S. military has a component fully dedicated to cyberspace, this command is typically not involved in the majority of major cyber incidents that occur. 

If you talk about the number of things that happen that you see in the press, “most of those, people always ask: 'Is Cyber Command involved?' Typically we’re not,” Cyber Command’s deputy commander, Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, said at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference on Sept. 20. “We track it all and we pay close attention to it, but the attacks of significant consequence is a threshold. It’s not specifically defined … we want enough flexibility as a nation.” 

McLaughlin was pointing to the threshold in which the military gets involved in cyber incidents that occur within the U.S. border. Under the military’s support to civil authorities, which also transitions to the physical world — especially during natural disasters — Cyber Command will lend a hand only in “attacks of significant consequence,” in line with one of the command’s three mission sets. 

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Thomas Atkin told the House Armed Services Committee in June that the government has a responsibility to defend against attacks of significant consequence, determined by whether there is loss of life, physical damage, an economic impact or an impact on American foreign policy, noting that these factors are determined on a case-by-case basis. 

“As far as an attack of significant consequence, which [the Department of Defense] DoD would respond to in the homeland, we don’t necessarily have a clear definition that says this will always meet it,” Atkin said, noting the decision is based upon the four aforementioned criteria. “There are some clear lines in the road, which we would evaluate any specific cyber act or incident in how we would respond to that.” 

Water Wars: The Next Great Driver of Global Conflict?

September 15, 2015

As much as oil shaped the global geopolitics of the 20th century, water has the power to reorder international relations in the current century. 

We live in an age of great anxiety about threats to global peace and stability. Among these are worries that intense water-related stresses, now showing up in regions around the world, may become all-too-common sources of conflict. Just as often, however, concerns about water wars are dismissed as much ado about nothing. An influential school of thought has long contended future international conflicts will not be fought over this resource. Water, it says, is of such elemental importance to human existence that even long-time adversaries will be forced to accommodate one another’s needs in a water-scarce future. As water is too expensive to transport over long distances, moreover, it is very difficult to steal or plunder. And history gives some comfort to this forecast: as few wars have been fought specifically over water, it is highly unlikely humanity will start engaging in water conflicts now. Or so the thinking goes.

In the case of water, this logic — of the past as predictor of the future — is compelling and comforting. But it also is dangerously myopic, for it fails to consider the possibility that the future may look nothing at all like the past. From nearly any standpoint, the world we live in is a fundamentally different place compared with the past. Over just the last century, for example, the global population has rocketed upward from roughly two billion to well past seven billion. While population growth is hardly the only driver of social, economic, and ecological change at global and regional scale, it has been among the most important. Nor is this process at an end. Current demographic projections forecast a global population of at least nine billion by 2050 — and possibly more.

Water in the Anthropocene: