8 October 2016

*****Creating space for a limited conventional response – Part 2


Constructing a conflict escalation framework 

Indian Border Security Force soldiers patrol near the India-Pakistan international border area at Gakhrial boder post in Akhnoor sector, about 48 kilometers from Jammu, India, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. India said Thursday it carried out "surgical strikes" against militants across the highly militarized frontier that divides the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, in an exchange that escalated tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

The first step of constructing an India—Pakistan conflict escalation framework is to understand the conventional and nuclear thresholds for both states. This step will result in identifying the levels at which an eventual conflict might play out. 
Different nuclear thresholds of India and Pakistan 

1.1 Many researchers have previously noted the differences in the nuclear doctrines of India and Pakistan. Though Pakistan has never announced a formal nuclear doctrine, it is believed to have four central tenets: First, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent is India-specific. Second, Pakistan has embraced a doctrine of credible, minimum deterrence. Third, the requirements for credible, minimal deterrence are not fixed; instead, they are determined by a dynamic threat environment. And fourth, given India’s conventional military advantages, Pakistan reserves the option to use nuclear weapons first._

This strategy of potential first use of nuclear weapons — on the battlefield, is in direct contrast to India’s doctrine. India’s nuclear doctrine_ articulates a No First Use (NFU)position, but commits to massive retaliation in the event that a nuclear weapon is used against it (referred to as “punitive retaliation with nuclear weapons to inflict damage unacceptable to the aggressor”). Thus, in the event that Pakistan were to target India with nuclear weapons, it will likely invite a response commensurate with India’s nuclear doctrine, regardless of Pakistan’s strategy around the type of nuclear weapon in question.

*****Creating space for a limited conventional response

By Pranay Kotasthane 

What do the ongoing incidents along the LOC tell us about the India—Pakistan conflict? 

The events over the last twenty days on the sensitive India—Pakistan Line of Control (LOC) have meant that this protracted conflict has once again become an object of attention in the Indian subcontinent.

India’s overt military operation to eliminate terrorist bases across the LOC has been described variously— ‘breaking out of the box’, a ‘calibrated strategic escalation’ or even ‘a new normal’ are just some of the new phrases in use. On the other hand, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes that these strikes are at best “tinkering with strategic restraint”, not abandoning it.

Perhaps, an analytical framework to visualise the India—Pakistan conflict can be instructive for three reasons. One, to explain the nuances involved during times of hostility between the two countries, providing policy makers with the right starting point for designing a de-escalation policy. Two, to investigate if there is an asymmetry in the thresholds of nuclear and conventional thresholds between the two countries. And three, identify if a mismatch in thresholds creates conflict levels that might be preferred by one state but not by the other. Such a framework could then be a good starting point for contextualising the current state of events on the LOC.

The framework

*** A Modi-fied Operational Art against Pakistan’s Hybrid Threat

By Dheeraj P.C.
07 Oct , 2016

The new Modi-fied operational art is an unprecedented change in India’s response to Pakistan’s hybrid threat because India never had an operational art. The absence of it gave Pakistan a tacit approval of its adventurism in India leaving strategic decision making in India nearly impossible.

The Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on the terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LOC) in retaliation to terrorist strikes on an Army base in the Uri Sector, Jammu and Kashmir. Although popular media houses and others have regarded the strikes to be a knee-jerk reaction there seems to be much more than what meets the eye.

…the strikes preceded by the political and diplomatic ground work in tilting international and domestic opinion in India’s favour marks a revolutionised operational art.

The strikes signify a change in the commander’s (Prime Minister) operational art, resulting in the legitimate appreciation of the hybrid threat emanating from Pakistan. To this point, cross border terrorism, jihadi terrorism in mainland India, meddling with Kashmir issue and several other contentions in Indo-Pak bilateral relations were received by Indian political leaders in isolation from one another. What resulted was a lethargic understanding of the hybrid threat that Pakistan was, and an inability to design an effective operational art to address the same. However, the strikes preceded by the political and diplomatic ground work in tilting international and domestic opinion in India’s favour marks a revolutionised operational art.

*** Surgical Strike and its Likely Aftermath

By Col (Dr) Tej Kumar Tikoo (Retd.)
06 Oct , 2016

One of the options available to the Central Govt to avenge the Uri attack, was what was eventually undertaken by troops of 9 and 4 Special Forces Battalions, assisted by the Ghattak Platoons of the two units , 10 DOGRA and 6 BIHAR, which had suffered heavily in Uri. It was, perhaps, the most obvious option. That it succeeded eminently proves that Pakistan had allowed itself to be lulled into a deep complacency because of India’s track record of exercising self-imposed strategic restraint ever since the start of Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in Kashmir in 1989-90.

Any other country in India’s place would have been shaken into action on at least four occasions, i.e., 1999 Kargil operations (India refused to cross the LoC, despite being well within its rights to do so),attack on Indian Parliament in 2001, Mumbai attack of 2008, and finally the attack on our most sensitive Air Force Base at Pathankot, in 2014; A base that is across the International Border and not on LoC.

But India continued to wager its money on the civilian govt in Pakistan, hoping that it will see sense and stop provoking India any further. But those who control the Pakistani deep State, i.e., the Pakistani Armed Forces, particularly its Army, have been brought up on the staple diet of many easy victories scored by the medieval Muslim invaders over ‘Hindu’ India. The staple diet also contains the oft repeated stories of invincible Ghaznis, Ghoris, Nadir Shahs and Ahmad Shah Abdalis, facing little opposition whenever these invaders decided to cross the Indus with the aim of plundering this rich land.

The youth of Pakistan, particularly its young Army officers, have been brought up on the twisted logic dished out by the State patronized historians who continue to peddle the theory that Hans keliyahei Pakistan; Lad kelenge Hindustan (“Pakistan was taken without a fight, and rest of India will be taken after a fight.”). False sense of bravado of Pakistani Army, based on its much touted theory that each Pakistani soldier is equal to 100 ‘Hindu’ soldiers, makes them reckless. This was the reason behind their 1947 invasion of Jammu and Kashmir, or for that matter, of 1965 and 1999 Kargil operations. In 1971, Indira Gandhi made a fool of that whisky sipping Gen, Yahya Khan, whose military honour was provoked into attacking Indian Air Force bases thoughtlessly on 3 Dec 1971, giving Indira enough reason to launch an all out war to liberate Bangladesh.

Pakistan in the margins

Harsh V. Pant

In search of options against Pakistan after the Uri terror attack, India has been putting pressure on Pakistan by using multiple levers of power. Militarily, the Indian army has conducted "surgical strikes" on terrorist bases along the Line of Control with Pakistan resulting in significant casualties "to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them". Politically, New Delhi is reviewing its stand on the Most Favoured Nation status and Indus Waters Treaty. And diplomatically, it is seeking Pakistan's global and regional isolation.

Towards that end, the already moribund regional organization, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, has come in handy. India decided to play the Saarc card, and with a vengeance. India has said, "In the prevailing circumstances", it is unable to participate in the November Saarc summit in Islamabad. This is an unprecedented move in many respects, but a struggling Saarc has finally found some use for India - to signal its disapproval of Pakistan. India's move has found support in the region with three other members - Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan - also pulling out of the meet immediately, leading to its suspension for the time being. Sri Lanka and Nepal also joined in rebuking Pakistan.

Calm down

Rajmohan Gandhi

This is a time of surgical strikes, hysteria, hostility to dissent. Why frankness, debate, questioning must follow

When Uri happened on September 18, I recalled a remark that Gandhi made almost 70 years ago. He was in the middle of what would turn out to be his last fast for amity on the Subcontinent. Learning that an attack on a refugee train at West Punjab’s Gujarat station had killed or maimed hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs travelling from Bannu in the Frontier Province, he said on January 14, 1948: “[If] this kind of thing continues in Pakistan, how long will the people in India tolerate it? Even if 100 men like me fasted, they would not be able to stop the tragedy that may follow” (Collected Works, 98: 234-35).

Eleven days after Uri came the Indian army’s surgical strikes, followed in Pakistan by denial and in India by chest-thumping as well as demands for precise information. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have cautioned cabinet colleagues against creating a hysteria over the strikes.

Surgical Strike and Pakistan’s Options

By Maj Gen Harsha Kakar
07 Oct , 2016

Post the Uri attack, the nation was on the boil, seeking a military response from the government. It did put Kashmir on the backburner, enabling the state and the central governments to enhance force levels to bring the situation under control. This spared security forces for increased deployment against infiltrated terrorists. In his speeches in Kerala, during the BJP conclave, the Prime Minister made conciliatory and contradictory statements. While he advocated strategic restraint, he also stated that loss of lives would not go unanswered. The army in the meanwhile had identified known launch pads and had enhanced surveillance over them.

The diplomatic and economic actions of the government were launched with full media glare. The speeches in the UN, declaring Pakistan as an ‘ivy league of terror’, cancelling attendance at SAARC (which got the support of maximum members of the group, thereby isolating Pakistan in the sub-continent) and announcing the reconsideration of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) were some of the government’s actions. While the others solicited no response, the IWT was the one which hurt them the most. It compelled Pakistan to declare any unilateral action by India on the IWT as an act of war. Before India could even consider and firm its actions on the IWT, a dazed Pakistan ran to the World Bank, in sheer panic. The lifting of the MFN (Most Favoured Nation) was yet to be discussed, when the army launched successful surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads. While diplomatic and economic elements of power were being enforced, the government also unleashed its military power.

For any nation, to admit that such a strike had been launched successfully on its soil, especially when it openly boasts of ‘one being equal to ten’, would be an insult. This is not the first time that cross border surgical strikes have been launched into POK. It has been done before, however sans an announcement. Every time such a strike was launched, Pakistan imposed a media blackout, while India kept it under wraps, to control levels of escalation. This time an announcement was essential for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would convey the message that India’s threshold had been crossed and henceforth India means business. As a corollary, it would convey that India considers terrorist strikes itself, as an act of war. Secondly, it would inform Indian masses, that the nation can and will act tough in the future. Thirdly, is the morale impact on the army and other security forces, which had been bearing the brunt of terrorist strikes. Finally, politically, close to UP and Punjab elections, it would put the opposition on the defensive.

Building on Strong Ties with ASEAN: India Needs to Expand its Maritime Horizon

By Sonam Chaudhari
07 Oct , 2016

India and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries – Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam – have had very close and deep cultural, civilization ties dating back to the ancient times. 

In modern times, relations with ASEAN have become one of the prominent features of Indian foreign policy, in particular after the 1990s. 1990 marked a big transition time for Indian well as world politics. At the start of the decade, India was suffering from the Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis. The global community was experiencing the collapse of USSR. At the regional level, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was showing its failure. It was about the same period when the ASEAN rose as a good model of regional integration. Thus, a prudent Indian foreign policy in the post-liberalization era was devised in which the relationship with South East Asia entered a new era.

The present India –ASEAN relations is the result of the significant changes that have been happening in the political and economic domains of India’s foreign policy since the early 1990s. The ‘Look East Policy’ was launched under the leadership of Prime Minister Narsimha Rao and endorsed by the former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. However, this Policy did not get much momentum at the diplomatic level and was focused largely on trade and economics. ASEAN was seen primarily as a trading zone and less in terms of developing Indian’s foreign policy along strategic lines. Hillary Clinton, the then US Secretary of State, during her visit to India in 2011 said that India should not merely “look” towards the East, but more importantly, “act” and “engage” with the East.

In a major shift in the Indian foreign policy outlook towards the ASEAN region , the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2014 redefined the strategic importance of India –ASEAN relations. India’s ‘Look East Policy’ has now been morphed into a more assertive ‘Act East Policy’.

Re-visiting India’s Northern Frontier

By K.N. Pandita

Home Minister Rajnath Singh led a contingent of parliamentarians drawn from different political parties on a two-day visit to Ladakh. This was in fulfillment of the promise he had made at the end of the parliamentary delegation’s visit to Srinagar and Jammu in July last.

…right from day one of present government assuming the reins of governance at the Centre, the subject of Ladakh’s strategic significance and security importance in the wake of hostile stance by China became more evident.

Ladakh, like Jammu region, has long standing complaint of discrimination by the Srinagar regimes over the years. The Centre never took serious cognizance of their complaints. That has been a recognized facet of Congress government’s policy for J&K.

Modi government is in harness for two years. It, too, did not evince extraordinary interest in Ladakh internal politics though BJP candidate won its parliamentary seat. It was less because of BJP’s activism in Ladakh and more because of long standing disgruntlement of the Ladakhis against biased Congress-NC rule.

During the government of late Mufti Muhammad Saeed and also Mrs. Mehbooba, a united delegation of Ladakh civil society, headed by the Chairman of LHDC called on the State Governor, Prime Minister and the Home Minister in New Delhi. The delegation armed with one brief presented a solid memorandum to top national and State leadership. The crux of their demand was that the LHDC is starved of funds, ignored for infrastructural development and treated discriminatingly.

Security Trends South Asia » India Defence » Surgical Strikes: A Week After - Options for India

Rahul Bhonsle 
Oct 6, 2016 

Surgical Strikes: A Week After - Options for India

Now that a week has gone past the surgical strike operations by the Indian Army on night 28/29 September, there is a need for reflection and envisage prospective options ahead. There is no doubt that the surgical strikes and demonstrated political will to acknowledge the same as a part of the strategic toolkit in countering cross-border terrorism by Pakistan has sent a strong message to the recalcitrant neighbour as well as the international community.

The willingness and capability of India to undertake such operations have been cleared beyond a reasonable doubt despite the voices of cynicism in the political and some media circles.

Largely the nation has unequivocally supported the government’s decision, so what next?

For after all the surgical strikes are not an end in itself but only a step towards achieving the larger goal of peace and stability in the Sub Continent. The hawks in India tend to believe that dismemberment of Pakistan alone can achieve this objective which is a long shot and is debatable.

Serious thought needs to be given to India’s short to medium term goals of preventing cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.

Short of a punitive “war”, a version of the now discarded Cold Start doctrine which was possibly never on the table post-Uri on 19 September, the window for the same is closed. 7 to 10 days is the maximum time within which such an operation can be undertaken before international pressure kicks in. The signs of the same are already there. The Barack Obama government in Washington in the closing stages of its second leg would not like to be burdened with having to pitch in to keep Indo-Pakistan physical conflagration under control. Thus the message seems to have trickled down with the National Security Advisers in India and Pakistan in touch with each other.

India and the NSG Membership: What Lies Ahead

October 05, 2016

In the pre-2005 period, the Indian government as well as most Indian analysts had approached the four export control regimes – the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) and the Australia group (AG) – with suspicion. Such an approach was not unnatural considering the fact that the first two, namely the NSG and the MTCR, had actively worked against Indian interests. The NSG denied fuel for the Tarapur Atomic Power station (TAPS) while the United States used MTCR provisions to prevent the transfer of cryogenic engine technology – a purely civilian space technology – by Russia to India thereby setting back the Indian space programme by more than a decade.

With the conclusion of the India-US nuclear cooperation agreements after July 2005 and the September 2008 NSG exemption for India from some of the restrictive provisions of the group’s Guidelines, the Indian attitude and approach to these regimes turned favourable. India began to positively consider the possibility of becoming a member of all these regimes. This attitude was further reinforced by the November 2010 Joint Statement issued during President Barack Obama’s visit to India, which explicitly endorsed India’s candidature for the four multilateral export control regimes. India had then considered the NSG membership as being the most important. The US “Food for Thought” paper on the question of India’s membership circulated to NSG members for their consideration and feedback just prior to the June 2011 Consultative Group (CG) and Plenary meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, further vetted India’s aspirations.

India is Reevaluating its Foreign Policy and the U.S. Can’t Get Left Behind

Regardless of the outcome of November’s U.S. presidential election, the United States is poised to continue its reengagement in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China’s growing military might and increased belligerency. While Beijing’s brinksmanship in the South and East China Seas and bullying behavior toward U.S. partners like the Philippines, Japan, Australia, and Singapore have most occupied Washington policymakers, there is another important but underused arrow available in the U.S. quiver to fully implement the much-heralded “rebalance” to Asia.

The case for further U.S. strategic and military cooperation with India is clear, and largely grasped by policymakers in Washington and Delhi. As the world’s two largest democracies, both confronting Chinese aggression and threats against key national interests, India and the U.S. have tremendous room for partnership. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi’s strategic culture has begun to slowly shift from the nonalignment of the Cold War to a more forward-looking global perspective. If not yet able to fully embrace Washington, the Modigovernment is beginning to realign Delhi’s hidebound foreign and defense policies in ways that will have a profound impact on the Indo-Pacific region.

The willingness of the Indian public and politicians to think proactively about defense and foreign policy questions has been greatly strengthened by the recent spate of Islamist terrorist attacks against Indian civilian and military targets. India responded by launching a successful raid across the highly-sensitive Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir targeting militant groups, a strike that was highly popular across the Indian political spectrum. The sense that Pakistan is unable or unwilling to curb the support of elements within the Pakistani state for these increasingly brazen attacks inside India is likely to harden the belief, especially across the growing Indian urban middle-class, that the country must be willing to assert itself on the world-stage.

Non-Aligned Movement is dying: India knows it all too well

The 55-year-old Non-Aligned Movement, a once powerful bloc of independent nations, is dying and nobody is sending flowers. Interest has hit a new low with just eight heads of states showing up at Venezuela's Margarita Island for this year's summit. The previous summit, held in Iran in 2012, was attended by 35 heads of state from the 120-nation bloc.

The rump group appearing in Venezuela included Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Iran's Hassan Rouhani and Palestine's Mahmoud Abbas along with heads of state of Ecuador and Bolivia, regional allies of Venezuela.

The most notable absence was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose august predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru was the leading light of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The summit was a lacklustre affair with less than half of the delegations attending, partly due to the domestic political troubles of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The country is on a downward spiral economically with inflation in double digits and chronic shortages of food and other basic supplies and growing demands for a referendum on removing Maduro from office before his term ends in 2019.

Yet Maduro spent more than $120 million on the summit, leading his political opponents to suggest that Venezuelans' money was spent for the "government's ego".

Maduro faces isolation in his own backyard as the Organization of American States has termed his government "repressive and autocratic" and members of the Southern Common Market, or Mercosur, have come together to oppose Venezuela's assumption of the group's presidency.

Surgical Strikes Achieve Tactical Closure, Not Strategic Détente

War may be the continuation of politics by other means, but there are also means other than war that can advance the political aims of our country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his Pakistani counterpart Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May, 2014. Credit: Reuters

Military power is never about the number of troops, tanks, ships or aircrafts. If military power was all a country needed to establish superiority, America would not have been beaten by Vietnam, the Soviet Union would not have been routed by Afghan tribes and the juggernaut that is the Indian Army would not have been held at bay by a few thousand Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

A country’s military power is actually determined by a combination of economic realities, governance frameworks, national will and strategic thinking – which work together to deliver a punch worthy of its weight.

Comparing India’s military power to Pakistan’s from this perspective actually yields a startling conclusion.

In 1999, Pakistan’s army chief at the time was mid-air when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to sack him. Denied permission to land in Pakistan and faced with the option of making an emergency landing on Indian soil, the sacked general decided to land in Karachi anyway. He communicated his orders to his military subordinates through the civilian aviation channel and by the time his plane landed, Pervez Musharraf was firmly back in the saddle while Sharif had been toppled off his. That is the power of the Pakistani military.

The Sorry State of Affairs in Afghanistan After 15 Years of War

Mark Perry
October 5, 2016

Afghanistan 15 Years On: Obama’s Sorriest Legacy

Twelve days after 9/11, on September 23, 2001, CIA Islamabad station chief Robert Grenier received a telephone call from his boss, George Tenet. “Listen Bob,” Tenet told him, “we’re meeting tomorrow morning at Camp David to discuss our strategy on Afghanistan. How should we begin?” Over the next three hours, Grenier laid out the U.S. battle plan in an eight-page paper, then sent it on to Washington. President George W. Bush approved Grenier’s memo and gave the task to the CIA, whose mandate was to destroy Al Qaeda, wrench control of Afghanistan from the Taliban and hunt down Osama bin Laden. Tenet handed ops off to CIA veteran Gary Schroen, who then directed his staff to contact the Pentagon to recruit the help of special operations. “Reach out to these guys,” Schroen told an aide. “Let’s talk to the SEALs. Let’s talk to Delta. … Anybody you know, let’s invite.”

But as it turns out, the U.S. military didn’t seem all that interested in Afghanistan. Schroen’s aide came back to report: The special operations people couldn’t decide on who should go.

And so it was that America’s war in Afghanistan, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom (renamed Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in 2014), began as a strategic and tactical muddle on October 7, 2001, when the air campaign began 15 years ago. It remains a muddle to this day. And a muddle—possibly an intractable one—is precisely what the next U.S. president will inherit from Barack Obama, despite the 44th president’s strenuous efforts to pull out of Afghanistan entirely before he left office.

In all, the U.S. has spent over $850 billion on the Afghanistan war, suffered nearly 2,400 dead and the Taliban are not only back in the field, they’ve made steady progress in wresting control of the country from the U.S.-backed Afghanistan government. The Pentagon would like to convince us that the glass is half full: Two weeks ago the Defense Department announced that “U.S. backed forces control 70 percent” of the country. Another way of saying this is that the Taliban control 30 percent—a not insignificant gain from zero, which was the case only eight weeks after Bush’s air campaign began back in 2001. The Pentagon’s estimate is conservative: The Long War Journal’s Bill Roggio, who tracks the conflict, recently noted that the Taliban have a heavy influence in fully half the country and their power is expanding. 

Is America Going to Turn on Pakistan?

Shivaji Kumar
October 5, 2016

A new bill in Congress would formally label Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Last month Reps. Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher cosponsored a bill in the U.S. Congress known as the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act. Congressman Ted Poe introduced the bill with the following words: “From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it’s not America’s.” If passed, this bill would require the U.S. government to produce a detailed report, weighing whether to designate Pakistan as the state sponsor of terror. In contrast, a day later, Chinaaffirmed its unflinching support for Pakistan’s position on terrorism and vowed to use Chinese membership in all international fora to amplify that position. Whatever measures the United States takes against Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy, one thing is clear: America is rapidly handing over the tools for reining in that country’s terror policy to China.

First, China has emerged as the principal supporter of Pakistan’s longstanding policy of training and equipping terror groups, and it is willing to use its diplomatic resources to defend that policy at all international forums. Although Pakistan justifies its support for terror groups in terms of liberating part of Kashmir from India, the evidence shows that this support extends to providing safe havens to terror groups that have worldwide operations. A Department of State country report for 2015, released in June 2016, concludesthat “Pakistan has also not taken sufficient action against other externally-focused groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to operate, train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan.” In the past, Pakistan has also depended on China to block U.S. efforts to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and other related fronts as terrorist organizations at the United Nations Security Council. It is precisely for this reason that Poe’s statement has particular resonance in Washington: “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years.”

To save CPEC, China Must Act on Terrorism

By Claude Arpi
06 Oct , 2016

For the time being, China has stood by Islamabad. But for how long can it do so? Can Beijing support terrorist activities of non-state actors in Pakistan? It cannot afford it. The price would be too high

China teaches its defence forces that, apart from conventional fighting, there are three warfares — psychological, legal and public opinion warfares, which needs to be judiciously used. Beijing has recently extensively used ‘public opinion’ to scare India.

For example, the Indian Press reported: “China has blocked the flow of an important tributary of Brahmaputra river to construct its most expensive dam in Tibet at a location very close to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.”

Though the announcement was linked to India’s decision to review the use of water under the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan, the proposed dam is far away from Arunachal Pradesh. An Indian agency admitted: “Xinhua article might be intended to only give India a scare…as diversion of Brahmaputra waters remains an emotive, volatile issue in India’s North-East.”

The fact that the Lalho project is located near Shigatse, several hundred kilometers from the border in Arunachal Pradesh and that the power station will have a relatively low generation capacity of 42 megawatts only, was ignored. On the environmental website, The Third Pole, a vigilant journalist rectified the Chinese ‘scare propaganda’; Joydeep Gupta wrote: “The unease in India is due to the fear that the project will reduce the flow of water in the Brahmaputra. …The far bigger problem with the Lalho project is that it will more or less dry up a long stretch of the Shiabu chu (river) in an area that is already suffering from rapid desertification.”

Chinese rank US as 'top threat': survey

by Staff Writers
Oct 5, 2016

Turkey suspends over 500 military staff over coup bid

Istanbul (AFP) Oct 5, 2016 - Turkey has suspended more than 500 military personnel, mostly officers, from the air force and navy for suspected ties to the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen who is blamed for the botched coup, local media reported on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of people have already been arrested or lost their jobs in the relentless crackdown under the state of emergency declared in the wake of the July 15 attempted coup.

A total of 113 personnel from the navy, and 427 from the air force have been temporarily suspended as part of an investigation into the group led by Gulen, Defence Minister Fikri Isik was quoted as saying by the Dogan news agency.

He said 368 of the suspended personnel were officers.

In total, 3,699 military personnel have been dismissed from the Turkish armed forces in the wake of the coup, the minister added. Half Turkey's contingent of generals from before the coup have either been arrested or dismissed.

The announcement comes a day after Turkey suspended 12,801 police officers from duty -- 2,523 of them police chiefs.

Young Blood On Rapid Rise In China’s PLA


AsiaToday is a comprehensive global media group that provides a variety of latest news from Korea and other East Asian countries. 

By Hong Soon-do, Beijing correspondent, AsiaToday - The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is showing signs of being full of young bloods unlike few years ago when there were full of elderly officers. Besides, the PLA is expected to become younger in general as many young soldiers attained the rank of general. This means that the PLA, which was once called "old army", is expected to change completely.

[The PLA generals do close-order drill. Most of them are elderly, yet the average age is lowering due to the recent rise of young bloods./ Source: People's Liberation Army Daily]

According to a source in Beijing familiar with the Chinese military on Wednesday, this assertion is not an exaggeration considering the number of lieutenant generals who have been promoted from major general since Army Day (August 1st). While it wouldn't have been easy before to move up to colonel, many soldiers in their early 50s, or so called "liu ling hou" (post-60s) generation made great advances. It has been found that 5 soldiers out of 27 on the promotion list were "liu ling hou."

[Lieutenant General Liu Zhenli shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the promotion ceremony. Liu became the youngest lieutenant general in the PLA./ Source: CCTV]

It's clear that the Chinese military is getting younger looking at the promotion list . One of the good examples of young bloods would be Liu Zhenli, 52, Lieutenant General and Army Chief of Staff. As the prominent young blood who became a general at the age of 46 in 2010, he has been promoted this time once again and became the youngest lieutenant general in the People's Liberation Army.

Another example is Xiao Tianling, 54, Vice President of PLA National Defense University. Since he became a general at the age of 46 in 2008, he has been promoted to lieutenant general this time. Other promoted young bloods include Zhang Shuguo, 55, Director of the Political Department; Liu Xiaowu, 56, commander of the army under the PLA Southern Theater Command; and Bai Lu, deputy political commissar under the PLA Southern Theater Command. There are many young bloods in the major-general level. Roughly 40 new officers are following close behind their seniors and colleagues who have been promoted to lieutenant generals. Mao Xinyu, 46, grandson of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, and Wang Ruicheng, 49, Major General, are some of the examples.

Currently, "liu ling hou" generals account to only around 10% of the whole army. However, they are considered to surpass their seniors in terms of ability and qualification. Obviously they are likely to be major talents that would lead China's military in the post-Xi period that begins in 2022. We could say that the future of China's military is bright.

U.S. Military Applies 'Incredible Focus' in Digital War Against ISIL

By Sandra Jontz 
October 5, 2016

In this U.S. Army file photo, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, USA, commanding general of Army Cyber Command, testifies before the U.S. Senate in 2015.

Army leads a task force of cyber warriors dedicated solely to the militant group's cyber efforts, general says.

The U.S. Army is fighting fire with cyber fire, applying an “incredible focus” on attacking a primary terrorist threat by creating a task force to concentrate on a single targeted mission, says Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, USA, commanding general of Army Cyber Command.

Responding to a rebuke by Defense Department Secretary Ash Carter that the cyber war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was progressing too slowly, the U.S. Cyber Command launched a unit with the sole task of going after the militant group’s online activity and put Gen. Cardon in charge of that effort.

The unprecedented U.S.-led cyber war, termed Joint Task Force Ares, strikes at the group’s sophisticated use of technology to recruit, make financial transactions and disseminate its propaganda.

“Before, there was no unit dedicated to the ISIL mission side,” Gen. Cardon told reporters Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C. “The beauty about Ares is, we just have one mission to work. We work on ISIL problems. It sharpens options [and] policies, and there’s a lot of discussion about what we should and shouldn’t do. Every mission we do is breaking new ground and setting the way forward.”

Don’t Intervene in Syria

OCT. 6, 2016

The cease-fire in Syria that the United States and Russia tortuously negotiated has, like the one before it, fallen apart.

The trouble began when an errant American airstrike killed some 60 Syrian government soldiers. Then, Russia resumed its disingenuous grandstanding and the Syrian government, with Russia’s support, went back toindiscriminately bombing rebel-held areas of Aleppo. On Monday, less than a month after the agreement went into effect, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States would break off talks with Russia on trying to revive it.

This failure, accompanied by images of suffering in Aleppo, has inspired renewed calls for a tougher American policy in Syria from liberal hawks and traditional conservatives alike. At the vice-presidential debate on Tuesday, both the Democrat, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, and the Republican, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, advocated more aggressive American action.

But the truth is that it is too late for the United States to wade deeper into the Syrian conflict without risking a major war, or, at best, looking feckless by failing to fully commit to confronting Russia and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and then backing down. The goal now should be reducing harm, saving lives and keeping prospects for a political deal alive. Cease-fire talks between the United States and Russia, tormented though they may be, remain the best way to achieve this.

Although Russia has denied it, it is clear that Moscow considers Mr. Assad’s survival crucial to protecting its interests in Syria, which include combating jihadism, preserving intelligence and military assets, and asserting that Russia is a geopolitical player in the Middle East. Russia has unflinchingly protected the Assad government both militarily and at the United Nations Security Council.

Southeast Asia—The Islamic State's New Front?

OCTOBER 4, 2016

Over the past year, as the Islamic State (often referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has suffered multiple losses in Syria and Iraq, the group has clearly been looking to widen its impact, taking the fight to countries outside of the Middle East. Increasingly, ISIS leaders have used social media to call on Islamic radicals to stage attacks in countries in the West like France and the United States, where the Orlando gunman, the San Bernardino gunmen, and the Nice attacker, among others, have publicly identified themselves with ISIS. In most of these cases, the attackers were lone wolves (or duos) who had not received any training or funding from ISIS, and often had not even traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory to train and fight. (To be sure, some recent attackers in Western nations had traveled to ISIS-controlled territory and fought with the group.)

At the same time, ISIS leaders also have stepped up their campaigns to train, advise, and influence potential radicals in South and Southeast Asia, regions which are home to the largest number of Muslims in the world. As coalition forces advance on ISIS centers like Mosul in Iraq and, eventually, Raqqa in Syria, this campaign to win over South and Southeast Asians is likely to intensify.

South and Southeast Asia are home to the majority of Muslims in the world, but ISIS is not looking to the region just because it has a potentially large pool of recruits to draw from. These countries might seem like environments conducive to ISIS for several reasons.

Russians Charge Ukrainian Journalist With Spying

Ukrainian Journalist In Russian Custody On Espionage Charges
October 3, 2016

A Ukrainian journalist is being held in custody in Russia on espionage charges.

Federal Security Service (FSB) officials said on October 3 that Roman Sushchenko was detained in Moscow on September 30.

The FSB claimed Sushchenko is a colonel with Ukrainian military intelligence who has been collecting classified data about Russia’s Armed Forces and National Guard.

Meanwhile, Moscow’s Lefortovo district court announced it had ordered Sushchenko be held in pretrial detention for two months.

The reporter’s employer, Ukrinform, said Sushchenko was in Moscow on vacation.

The news agency said the accusations against its Paris-based correspondent “can only be described as…yet another flagrant and unlawful [Russian] act against Ukrainian nationals.”

Sushchenko’s lawyer, Mark Feigin, said his client had no links to any spy agency.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry demanded Sushchenko’s “immediate release and unhampered return home,” and called on Russia to respect the Ukrainian citizen’s rights.

More Latin American Air Forces Prepare to Resume Shooting Down Narco-Trafficking Aircraft

October 05, 2016

On 20 August 2015, Peru’s Congress passed legislation that would allow its military to shoot down aircraft suspected of narcotics trafficking, thus resuming a policy that was discontinued after 2001 when a tragic mistake led to the killing of a missionary and her daughter.1 With this action, Peru has become the latest in a series of Latin American countries that have opted for this extreme step to curb the endemic problem of aerial narcotics smuggling. Indeed, no fewer than nine countries in the region - Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela have adopted this step though not all have made use of this option.2

As might be expected, this development is extremely controversial, with the United States government temporarily halting cooperation with Honduras after that country shot down two suspected narcotics carrying aircraft in 2012, neither of which was ever subsequently confirmed to have been carrying narcotics. To insulate itself from dependence on US radar coverage, Honduras purchased three new radar sets before enacting new legislation in 2014 to resume aggressive interceptions which once again led to a withdrawal of American support.3

Given the risk of drawing the ire of the United States and the even more daunting prospect of shooting down innocent aircraft, the question arises as to why Latin American countries are so intent on pursuing this course of action. The answer to this question can partly be found in the fact that no less than 20% of all cocaine trafficking within the area is undertaken by air.4However, this, in and of itself, should not warrant such an extreme step.

The fact is that that narcotics traffic from Latin America by air is increasing by the day. as the aerial route has become a preferred method of transport between Latin America and Africa where from it is sent onwards to Europe and Asia. Transport of cocaine between Latin America and Africa was traditionally via sea in container ships or in private yachts. The potential to ship large quantities of cocaine through this method made the maritime route the preferred method of transit.5 However, as interdiction efforts at sea have become more effective, the cocaine smugglers have switched tactics to using second-hand cargo aircraft to deliver cocaine to their West African confederates.6

World War Three will be 'extremely lethal and fast': US Army bosses reveal what could happen if the U.S. took on Russia or China

It is a chilling vision of war - and one unlike any other ever fought.

US military bosses have revealed their predictions for a major conflict, and say war between nation states at some point in the future 'is almost guaranteed'.

Artificial intelligence and smart weapons would be at the fore - with a 'modern nation-states acting aggressively' the likely enemy

Artificial intelligence and smart weapons would be at the fore - with a 'modern nation-states acting aggressively' the likely enemy, Army bosses have revealed.

'A conventional conflict in the near future will be extremely lethal and fast, and we will not own the stopwatch,' said Maj. Gen. William Hix on a future-of-the-Army panel at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, according to Defence One.

'The speed of events are likely to strain our human abilities,' Hix said. 

'The speed at which machines can make decisions in the far future is likely to challenge our ability to cope, demanding a new relationship between man and machine.'

China and Russia are both mustering conventionally massive militaries that are increasingly technological — and forcing the Pentagon to contemplate and prepare for 'violence on the scale that the U.S. Army has not seen since Korea,' said Hix 

Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Army deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and training said the US faces threats from 'modern nation-states acting aggressively in militarized competition.'

'Who does that sound like? Russia?' he said.

Who Will Exit the EU Next?

October 05, 2016

The European Union's future has been up for debate since the Continent's economic crisis began nearly a decade ago. But questions about the bloc's path have multiplied in recent years as Greece came close to quitting the eurozone and the United Kingdom voted to relinquish its EU membership for good. "The bloc's demise is not a matter of if, but when," Euroskeptics insisted, to which their Europhile peers replied, "The union is irreversible."

Yet like all political creations, the European Union is a momentary construction in the vast expanse of history. One day it will disappear, to be replaced by other entities, or it will continue in name only, looking and operating far differently from the European Union of today. It is impossible to know exactly when this transformation will happen or just how long the process will take. There are some clues, however, as to how the new Europe will come about and, perhaps even more important, what the agent of change will be. If anything, the Continent's current crisis is a stark reminder that despite decades of attempts to weaken it, the nation-state remains the most powerful political unit in the European Union. And as it emerges from the rubble of the Continent's latest experiment in integration, it will play a crucial role in charting Europe's course forward.

A Union That's Anything but Uniform 

Not all EU members are created equal. Losing a member that belongs to the eurozone, for example, poses a much bigger threat to the rest of the system than the departure of one that does not. The prospect of Greece quitting the currency area in 2015 was probably more frightening to France and Germany than Britain's decision to leave the bloc a year later. To be sure, both events would have serious consequences for the European Union, but a Grexit would have immediately shaken the financial foundation of the entire eurozone. The consequences of the Brexit, however, will be more gradual.

The Culture of Strategic Thought Behind Russia’s Modern Approaches to Warfare

October 2016

Related: Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs


In September of 1991, I met with Russian general officers in Minsk at a military reform seminar. Our discussions took place against the backdrop of the August coup attempt in Moscow, the subsequent collapse of Soviet power, and the so-called parade of sovereignty by former Soviet Republics. At the same time, President Yeltsin was signaling his intent to change dramatically the national security strategy, military doctrine, and military system the Soviet Union had developed since the 1940s.

A senior Russian three-star general had listened to the discussions on concepts such as defensive defense and preventive defense—recognizing that change to the Soviet military system was on the immediate horizon, one that would probably match the change to the Soviet political system witnessed over the previous weeks. At the end of the conference, he approached me with a puzzled look on his face, as though he had been questioning the basic assumptions of his thinking, assumptions that had driven a lifetime of professional military decisions.

He asked, “Do people in the West understand that Russia has a unique geostrategic position, unlike any other nation in the world? Do people in the West understand that how the rest of the world defends itself, builds its doctrine and strategies, simply won’t work in Russia?”