28 October 2016

*** Budgeting for Defence

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
27 Oct , 2016

Defence Budget for FY 2017-2018 will be announced in few months from now. The usual pattern will likely be followed: the three Services will work out their wish lists; HQ IDs will put the lists together, undertake examination as possible and send it to MoD perhaps with some extra emphasis to the Service that the CISC is from; MoD will do their own best and forward it to the Ministry of Finance (MoF), and; MoF will simply say the pre-determined figure – this much and no more. Mind you all this will happen in absence of a cohesive national security strategy (NSS) and comprehensive defence review (CDR).

Defence Budget 2016-2017 amounted to a ‘negative budget’ over the previous year, merely cut-pasting the previous year’s allocation.

The Finance Minister’s speech in Parliament for Union Budget 2016-2017 on February 29, 2016 placed on the net contained less than 12 lines on defence that read, “Defence of every square inch of our mother land comes before anything else. So far, we have been over dependent on imports, with its attendant unwelcome spin-offs. Our Government has already permitted FDI in defence so that the Indian-controlled entities also become manufacturers of defence equipments, not only for us, but for export. We are thus pursuing the Make in India policy to achieve greater self-sufficiency in the area of defence equipment, including aircraft. Members of this august House would have noted that we have been both transparent and quick in making defence equipment related purchase decisions, thus keeping our defence forces ready for any eventuality. This year too, I have provided adequately for the needs of the armed forces. As against likely expenditure of this year of 2,22,370 crore the budget allocation for 2015-16 is 2,46,727 crore.”

Thucydides Trap In Asia: The Sino-Indian Conflict – OpEd

By Abir Chattaraj 
OCTOBER 26, 2016

At the battle of Pylos (Seventh year of the Peloponnesian War, ), the Athenians won a major victory over Sparta. In consequence of their loss, Sparta sent envoys to Athens to offer a peace treaty. The Spartan envoys enjoined the Athenians to “treat their gains as precarious,” and advised that “if great enmities are ever to be really settled, we think it will be, not by the system of revenge and military success… but when the more fortunate combatant waives his privileges and, guided by gentler feelings, conquers his rival in generosity and accords peace on more moderate conditions than expected.”Unfortunately this age old wisdom pervades the Chinese in Asia.

The Greek historian Thucydides theorised that when an established power encountered a rising power, a conflict between them was inevitable. Today China, Asia’s established power and India, a rising power are heading towards this very own Thucydides trap.

China today perceives India as an adversary. Its very actions are geared towards this objective. One-third of Chinese naval power is being deployed to the Indian Ocean Region. The Chinese are building a ring of alliances under the “String of Pearls” doctrine with countries around India’s periphery: from Myanmar to Pakistan. It has interposed itself in India’s land disputes in Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan; accused India of propagating the Tibetan movement, covert attacks and espionage and human rights violations; excluded India from the China-sponsored Maritime Silk Road and the Quadrilateral Dialogue with US on Afghanistan, blocked India’s NSG bid and openly supported terrorist Masood Azhar in the Security Council.

Chinese military moves to contain India has become more robust and overt in recent months.

When Modi Flies To Japan: Bleak Chances For Long-Pending Nuclear Deal – Analysis

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan 
OCTOBER 26, 2016

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Japan in mid-November for a bilateral annual summit, he will carry a baggage of expectations about a long-pending India-Japan nuclear deal and possible agreements on defence cooperation, particularly the US-2 amphibious aircraft.

The nuclear deal has been straddling the fences, certainly, not for lack of political will but a variety of domestic factors at play, particularly in Japan.

In December 2015, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart announced an in-principle decision to cooperate on civil nuclear matters which would facilitate export of Japanese civil nuclear technology to India.

The joint statement stated that the two Prime Ministers welcomed the agreement “for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and confirmed that this agreement will be signed after the technical details are finalised, including those related to the necessary internal procedures.”

But why haven’t both the countries yet put pen to paper?

Japan and India have been strengthening their partnership against the backdrop of the Asian geopolitical churning. China’s growing might and aggressive posturing are a problem not unique to India and Japan. Many Asian countries in the neighbourhood and beyond have responded in different ways — from engaging in beefing up their defence and military capabilities to major diplomatic manoeuvring.

How to Save U.S.-Pakistan Relations from the Brink of Disaster

October 25, 2016

War between the United States and Pakistan is imminent, if one goes by the talk in DC at every other forum on the subject. There is a strange tendency in think-tank and policy circles to sensationalize U.S.-Pakistan relations, at times giving the bilateral relationship far more significance in U.S. foreign policy discourse than what it deserves. In the midst of the frenzy in U.S.-Pakistan relations, there is a serious need to ask what exactly has gone wrong beyond the over-discussed and obvious “trust deficit,” “Haqqani network” and the “transactional” nature of the relationship—all of which is the product of the underlying problem, not the root cause.

The answer might be less sensational, and have more to do with bureaucratic failure in the relationship. Based on my experience in the government of Pakistan, and through interviews with key civil and military officials in Pakistan and discussions with American officials, I have been able to flesh out what drives U.S.-Pakistan relations to the edge—those little bureaucratic things that don’t come to the surface and are not so interesting to discuss at forums.

The first issue is ruptured communication and messaging on both sides, which leads to misplaced expectations, double-talk and unneeded suspicion. It almost appears that U.S.-Pakistan relations suffer from a chronic oversized bureaucracy that is unable to coordinate messaging—not just between the two countries, but also between the institutions within the two countries, driving relations to the edge over every strategic or ideological clash in the war on terror. Officials on the Pakistani side complain of receiving mixed signals from the United States, with the State Department saying one thing and the Pentagon saying another. Officials cite how within the span of a single day, different branches of the U.S. government have a different take on Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, fluctuating anywhere from “appreciation” to “do more” and “backstabbing.” Moreover, lack of clarity on America’s Afghan peace strategy, according to senior Pakistani military officials, also creates a communication gap that quickly escalates into suspicion. Lack of clarity on aid is also a concern, where the U.S. Congress takes Pakistan to task for taking so much money and not delivering enough, without going into the details of how much aid actually gets delivered to Pakistan and what really is its effectiveness. Too much talk on aid and pressing Pakistan on the subject is another irritant that constantly puts Pakistan on edge while raising expectations in the United States.

East Asia Summit, Phase II: Back To Confidence Building? – Analysis

By John Pang* 
OCTOBER 26, 2016

The EAS started with a community building vision. With US participation and rising strategic tensions, it has become a regional confidence building and conflict-prevention mechanism. This is a realistic role for the EAS that ASEAN should embrace and sharpen.

The function of the East Asia Summit (EAS) has evolved from community building to the pressing role of conflict prevention. A forum that draws the United States and China, but also includes Japan, India and Russia in this period of global uncertainty is potentially of enormous value. ASEAN should embrace “EAS Phase II” and drop the piety that the EAS bears any relation to community building.

That long-term task could be left to sub–regional groupings like the ASEAN Plus Three forum and its offshoot, the Northeast Asian forum (China, Japan and S Korea). ASEAN should instead streamline the EAS agenda and actively frame the region’s most important security discussions. It should strengthen its public communications to better convey the EAS’s role to the ASEAN public and the international community.
Multiple-Track Role

This may mean having multiple-track discussions to formulate current issues ahead of time capped by the EAS. It may mean some level of integration with the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) so that it more directly supports the EAS on security issues. ASEAN can do more to shape the conversation while ensuring that the meeting remains open to the outcomes of personal interaction among the leaders. The EAS can play a crucial role if ASEAN retains enough coherence and clout to move regional discussions forward in a positive way.

The EAS has its origins in the project of an East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC). When Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed first proposed an East Asian Economic Grouping (EAEG) in the 1990’s, the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and the European Union were being formed and it seemed urgent that East Asia must form one of its own. In the 1990’s it could be taken for granted that Japan would lead a prospective regional bloc for East Asia.

South China Sea: Vietnam Perceptibly Betrayed by the Philippines

By Dr Subhash Kapila
27 Oct , 2016

More than the United States it is Vietnam that stands perceptibly betrayed this week on South China Sea dispute solidarity against China, with new Philippines President Duterte declaring his strategic and political illogical tilt to China.

China perceptibly again seemed to have exploited the mercurial impulses of President Duarte and lavishly feted him in Beijing to induce him to declare his strategic preference for China and the wish of the Filipino President to reach out to President Putin of Russia. More significantly, the Filipino President asserted in Beijing that he was “separating” with the United States which has recently been subjected to intemperate remarks against US President Obama by President Duterte.

It needs to be highlighted that it was the Philippines which went to The Hague International Arbitration Tribunal challenging China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea. In a landmark judgement, The Hague Tribunal ruled against China’s sovereignty claims over the South China Sea.

Implicit in this ruling was also the reality that China’s occupation of the Paracel and Spratly Islands was illegal and so also the construction of artificial islands to extend China’s military sway over the South China Sea. While China refused to abide by The Hague Tribunal judgement, an assertion that China had so made even before the judgement was announced, China’s international image as a responsible stake-holder in global security and stability stood not only dented but shattered.

South China Sea: Vietnam Perceptibly Betrayed By The Philippines – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila
OCTOBER 26, 2016

More than the United States it is Vietnam that stands perceptibly betrayed this week on South China Sea dispute solidarity against China, with new Philippines President Duterte declaring his strategic and political illogical tilt to China.

China perceptibly again seemed to have exploited the mercurial impulses of President Duarte and lavishly feted him in Beijing to induce him to declare his strategic preference for China and the wish of the Filipino President to reach out to President Putin of Russia. More significantly, the Filipino President asserted in Beijing that he was “separating” with the United States which has recently been subjected to intemperate remarks against US President Obama by President Duterte.

It needs to be highlighted that it was the Philippines which went to The Hague International Arbitration Tribunal challenging China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea. In a landmark judgement, The Hague Tribunal ruled against China’s sovereignty claims over the South China Sea.

Implicit in this ruling was also the reality that China’s occupation of the Paracel and Spratly Islands was illegal and so also the construction of artificial islands to extend China’s military sway over the South China Sea. While China refused to abide by The Hague Tribunal judgement, an assertion that China had so made even before the judgement was announced, China’s international image as a responsible stake-holder in global security and stability stood not only dented but shattered.

It is therefore shocking that the Philippines under its new President should be seen as bac-tracking from its firmly-held positions on Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

In the backdrop of the above reality-check strategic analysis begs the questions that what does the Filipino President’s assertions in favour of China against the United States and also implicitly isolating Vietnam on the South China Sea issues in favour of China amount to? Was the Filipino President’s assertion against the United States and in favour of China was a personal decision? Did the Filipino President’s such assertion was a national decision endorsed by the nation’s Parliament and the Armed Forces who have been battling Chinese violations of Philippines maritime sovereignty and also China-inspired insurgencies? Lastly, was the Filipino President resorting to some bargaining with the United States? Was the Filipino President mindful of Vietnam’s sensitivities with which the Philippines was coordinating till recently joint responses on the South China Sea dispute against China?

Duterte’s Double Play With China And The US – Analysis

By Scott N. Romaniuk, Amparo Pamela H. Fabe and Tobias J. Burgers* 
OCTOBER 26, 2016

A new dawn for Philippine-China relations was said to have taken place nearly six months ago when Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte met with China’s Zhang Jianhua in Davao in early June 2016. Their talks represented a major departure from the attitude taken toward China by the Aquino government, which steered the country for six years. Jianhua recently spoke of the sun “shin[ing] beautifully on a new chapter of bilateral relations.”

Before Duterte whisked his way into office, the Philippines filled the spot for the fastest economic growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. Then, nobody really knew what to make of Duterte’s economic policy and his economic aims for the country. That course become much clearer during the second half of 2016, most notably over the past week given Duterte’s trip to Beijing to cozy-up even further to Xi Jinpiang like a lovestruck schoolgirl.

Like a petulant child, Duterte renounced Washington, calling Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” and describing America’s ambassador as a “gay son of a whore.” Washington, among others sharply criticized Duterte’s nasty “kill them all” style war on drugs throughout the Philippines. Duterte’s statements and attitude coincided with calls for ending joint American-Filipino military operations and training, and a ban on US warship maneuvers and patrols in the Philippines’ territorial waters.

So, what is Duterte up to? His alleged pivot seems inherengly disingenuous, an attempt to play both ends against the middle. His aims strike one as remaining staunchly economic with military goals, rather than principally military in purpose. There is also reason to question the substance of Duterte’s pronounced “seperation” from the United States (US).

China Energy Gain Based On Doubted Data – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld 
OCTOBER 25, 2016

China has won high praise from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for its efficiency efforts despite continuing concerns about the accuracy of its claims.

In a study released this month, the Paris-based IEA commended China for its progress in improving energy efficiency, crediting the country with a leading contribution to global gains.

“Progress in the People’s Republic of China … over the last decade has made it the world’s energy efficiency heavyweight,” said the IEA in its 142-page Energy Efficiency Market Report.

Between 2000 and 2015, China reduced energy intensity—the amount of energy used per unit of gross domestic product (GDP)—by 30 percent, the study said.

The measure of energy savings or waste is seen as a key to controlling pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

In 2015 alone, China improved its energy intensity by 5.6 percent, beating the country’s average annual reduction of 3.1 percent over the previous decade, the IEA said.

The strong performance in a year of low energy prices and economic transition was seen as a critical factor in limiting climate impacts.

In a press release, the IEA noted that last year’s improvement in world energy intensity had increased from 2014 “in spite of lower oil prices, which generally dampen the enthusiasm for energy savings.” Much of the credit went to China.

Battle For Mosul: Can There Be Respect For The Laws Of War? – OpEd

By Rene Wadlow*
OCTOBER 25, 2016

A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin howitzer conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Paladin teams denies safe havens to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant while providing Iraqi forces with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht

To prevent and alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health, and to ensure respect for the human person – these are the core values of humanitarian law. These values may get lost in the “fog of war” of the battle for Mosul. Therefore, there needs to be a wide public outcry in the defense of humanitarian law so that violations can be reduced. As the tanks move ahead, the time for the defense of humanitarian values is now.

On Monday 17 October 2016, the battle of Mosul began as the troops of the Iraqi army started moving toward the northern Iraq city of Mosul. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the effort to take Mosul, a city of over one million people which has been held by the forces of the Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh in its Arabic initials) since July 2014. The Iraqi troops are assisted by Turkish troops and tanks, by US Special Forces who have also been training the Iraqi troops, and by the Kurdish pesh merga militias who have attacked surrounding villages but who, for political reasons, are not likely to enter Mosul.

There are estimates that there are some 4,500 ISIS troops facing some 50,000 on the Iraqi government side. ISIS has been aware that an attack on Mosul was in preparation for a long time and has responded by mining buildings and roads as well as building tunnels. It is likely that some ISIS fighters have slipped away, but it is also likely that the remaining majority of ISIS will fight to the bitter end, preferring death to surrender. In a situation that is confused by the number and nationalities of the groups in combat as well ad the very ethnically and religiously mixed population of Mosul, what possibilities exist for respect of the laws of war?

Trump Calls Iraqi Offensive to Capture Mosul a ‘Total Disaster’

Felicia Schwartz and Paul Sonne
October 25, 2016

Trump at Odds With Pentagon in Calling Mosul a ‘Total Disaster’

Donald Trump doubled down on his critique on an American-backed Iraqi military offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State, calling the effort “a total disaster” and saying that American leaders are “stupid.”

Mr. Trump’s assessment of the Mosul operation is at odds with that of U.S. military officials and the White House. A week into the effort to retake Iraq’s second-largest city and Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq, U.S. officials say that the Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces are making inroads, encircling major towns as they push toward Mosul in a campaign that is expected to take months.

“The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster,” Mr. Trump tweeted late Sunday. “We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN!”

Mr. Trump continued on that theme Monday. “Now we’re bogged down in Mosul, the enemy is much tougher than they thought,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in St. Augustine, Fla. “It’s a horrible, horrible situation.”

In his remarks at the rally Monday and the earlier tweet, Mr. Trump repeated his criticism that the U.S. gave Islamic State militants in the key city “months of notice.” He told the Florida rally that America’s current leadership “is stupid, these are stupid people.”

The Pentagon has said the campaign to retake Mosul — which began a week ago and is expected to last weeks or months — is proceeding on schedule and as planned.

Is Mosul ISIS's Alamo?

October 25, 2016

Last Thursday, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi shared the good news about Mosul. “The fighting forces are currently pushing forward toward the town more quickly than we thought,” he began, “and more quickly than we had established in our plan for this campaign.” Such statements, while encouraging to his nation, are deceptive. The real fighting has yet to start. It is also vitally important to realize that if ISIS chooses to fight to the death in Mosul—like the Texans’ historic Alamo fight—it is not inconceivable that ISIS could achieve strategic victory even if it is eventually defeated in Mosul.

It is important to understand that Islamic State fighters, while frequently derided as mindless thugs, heartless terrorists and common criminals, pose a formidable tactical threat. They benefit from fifteen years of lessons learned during insurgent operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Many of their leaders have significant experience battling against traditional military forces and are experts in the conduct of guerrilla operations and city fighting.

ISIS has experience of fighting in Kobani, Raqqa and now years in Aleppo. Its forces are the most experienced and expert urban fighters in the world right now. ISIS’s members have become masters of crafting elaborate defenses, digging interlocking tunnels, and sowing complex and multilayered minefields. The attacking Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) also have experience in city fighting, as they’ve ejected ISIS from Fallujah, Tikrit and Ramadi. But in each of those battles, ISIS has fought what is essentially a fighting withdrawal.

It has created improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mines and other booby-traps, which it’s hidden in buildings, cars, roads and under sidewalks. ISIS has avoided becoming decisively engaged in its previous city fights, withdrawing when the situation got too hot and it was in danger of being cut off. Whether that was an intentional strategy or not is hard to determine, as reports following the Fallujah battle claimed that ISIS executed scores of its fighters who escaped. This time, however, early evidence indicates that Islamic State leaders have decided to make a fight-to-the-death stand in Mosul.

The Building Blocks of a Truly Conservative Foreign Policy

October 25, 2016
Source Link

If there is a distinct American conservative political tradition, which there certainly is, there is also modern foreign policy tradition that grows from it. Far from anything resembling the policies of American-first Republicans of the 1930s—and since then allied to the Republican party only though circumstance of history—it is characterized by commitment to peace through strength, the primacy of national sovereignty and support for liberty under law.

Peace through Strength

This age-old adage was used to best effect by President Ronald Reagan to give context to America’s military modernization in the 1980s. In today’s world, armed force remains the final arbiter of American interests. For this reason, it provides indispensable context for American diplomacy. When security issues are discussed in Asia, or Europe, or the Middle East, the United States has a seat at the table, because as a last resort, it has the capability to impose our will, and failing that, impose costs on our enemies.

This is not as Hobbesian as it sounds—for two reasons.

One, the use of American military power is mitigated by the U.S. Constitution. The president’s powers as commander-in-chief are not the sole factor in determining the use of that power. Congress funds the military. It has oversight, legislative power over the military bureaucracy and confirmation powers. It ratifies security treaties. And it has the power to declare war.

How Congress exercises its powers in relationship to the president ebbs and flows over time. Generally, during times of grave, imminent threat, Congress errs on the side of deference; in more peaceful times, it asserts itself. The relationship also varies according to the confidence Congress has in the president’s leadership.


OCTOBER 26, 2016

Americans have not paid much attention to the war In Yemen. With all eyes on Syria and the neo-Cold War rivalry there with Russia, Yemen did not come up at all in the presidential debates. Yet according to UN figures, the war has left 10,000 dead and 900,000 civilians displaced — and it arguably implicates the United States even more than the Syrian conflict.

The Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen, which began in March 2015, has been aided and abetted from the beginning by the United States. U.S.-supplied military aircraft, refueled by U.S. tanker planes and directed by U.S. intelligence assets, are bombing Yemen almost daily with U.S.-made weapons.

America’s responsibility was brought into stark relief earlier this month, when Saudi planes mistakenly bombed a packed funeral in the Yemeni capital, killing 140 and wounding over 500 people. It was only the latest in a series of Saudi attacks that have killed civilians, leading U.N. experts to condemn Saudi actions in Yemen as war crimes. In the aftermath, the White House announced that U.S military assistance to Saudi Arabia does not amount to a blank checkand that it would begin an immediate “policy review” of this aid to Saudi Arabia.

The “policy review” is an old and established Washington technique for avoiding tough decisions. Faced with a choice between unpalatable alternatives, the government initiates a review to study the question in depth. The hope is that by the time the review is finished, the political pressure to take action will have passed. The purpose of a review is often to buy time and create space for an administration to keep doing what it has been doing, not to create clarity or to change policy.

Iran’s new challenge: The Islamic State in Persia?

Author Ali Hashem
October 24, 2016
Source Link

Iranian soldiers participate in military maneuvers in response to possible attacks by armed groups such as the Islamic State, on the outskirts of Torbat-e Jam town, near Mashhad, Iran, Nov. 17, 2015.
When Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced on June 29, 2014, his self-styled caliphate, its borders were only about 20 miles from those of Iran. IS-controlled territory extended to the Iraqi border province of Diyala, posing a serious threat to Iranian national security. Tehran wanted to keep its borders far from the direct reverberations of the IS phenomenon, therefore hundreds of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) troops poured into Iraq to fight their first battle in Jalawla alongside Iraqi Kurdish forces and members of the Iraqi Badr Organization, which is known for its close ties to the Islamic Republic.
Summary⎙ Print Though Iran has announced that it has killed the Islamic State’s "emir" in the country, it continues to face serious security threats from a variety of militants.

The fight to eliminate IS has continued in Iraq, with ever more Iranian involvement. Yet it seems as if the group has managed to find its way into Iran. On several occasions this year, the IranianIntelligence Ministry has announced that terrorist plots within the country’s borders have been foiled. Two major announcements were made in June and August revealing, according to Iranian security officials, plans to attack the capital Tehran and other cities.

On Sep. 27, Pars News reported, citing unnamed sources, that security forces had killed the new leader of IS in Iran, code-named “Abu Aisha al-Kurdi." The news website wrote, “Some time ago in one of the border cities of Kermanshah, an individual who was supposed to be announced as the emir of Daesh [IS] in Iran was killed in a complex and massive operation with the hard work of the unknown soldiers of the imam,” in a reference to Intelligence Ministry agents.

Exclusive Look at the US Forces Aiding the Fight Against ISIS

Oct 24, 2016

As Iraqi troops move within just a few miles of Mosul, ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz got an exclusive look at some of the U.S. outposts supporting the mission to defeat ISIS.

“What we’ve seen is the enemy is really disrupted, they are on the offensive,” Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, told ABC News. “They are trying to do some spoiling attacks, but they’re not working.”

Those spoiling attacks have often been carried out by ISIS militants in suicide vehicles speeding towards Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga troops on the front lines, and in villages and towns where ISIS militants have been able to conceal themselves.

With U.S. ground forces advising and assisting, and the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes from above, the Iraqis and Kurds have been able to repel the resistance, U.S. officials said.

“What’s different this time than what was here the last time when you and I were here,” Volesky told Raddatz, referring to a trip the pair made to the region in 2009, “is this isn’t the same Iraqi army. They have been trained to do a decisive action, conventional operation against conventional forces, and they are gaining confidence. You can see it.”

One of the small outposts Volesky and Raddatz visited was built only a few days ago, and is manned by less than 200 U.S. and Iraqi personnel.

Another was originally built only 3.5 kilometers from the front lines, but as the Iraqis have advanced, it is now 22 kilometers away. But the posts were built to be movable, and when the time is right, they will move to follow the Iraqi forces toward Mosul.

Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t – OpEd

OCTOBER 26, 2016

I would not rank Vladimir Putin high on a list of leaders. If I lived in Russia I’d be working for major reforms in my government, just as I’m doing where I do live, in the United States. I regularly go on Russian media and criticize the Russian government. Russia is illegally and immorally bombing people in Syria, just as the United States is doing in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

But there are Putin Halloween masks for sale in U.S. stores. Time magazine has Putin on the cover accusing him of trying to damage U.S. elections. A Google search for “Hitler Putin” brings back 11 million results. This demonization of a foreign leader should frighten us more than that leader himself.

Wars do not only kill, if they kill at all, a foreign leader. But they do kill large numbers of children, grandparents, mothers, and fathers. They enrage people, endanger us, damage the natural environment, justify the removal of our rights, and divert unfathomable resources from areas where they could have done a world of good.

The actual Adolph Hitler had no plans or ability to invade the United States and was defeated primarily by Russians who lost at least 27 million lives in the process. For over 70 years, since the end of World War II, the United States has bombed dozens of nations, and in every case that I am aware of U.S. officials have labeled a targeted individual “Hitler.”

Japan: A Serious Setback To PM Abe’s Nuclear Energy Program – Analysis

By K. V. Kesavan 
OCTOBER 26, 2016

In Japan, the recently held governor’s election in the Niigata Prefecture attracted national attention for understandable reasons. Gubernatorial elections carry considerable significance in the country as they act as a barometer showing the pulse of the people across the country. While they do not exert any immediate impact on Tokyo, they do point to the political wind that blows across at a given time. Another important aspect of the prefectural governors’ elections is that major political parties are not always setting up their own party candidates. More often they endorse and support influential independent candidates.

In the Niigata Prefecture governor’s election, held on 16 October, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was keen to have a cooperative governor with strong inclinations to restart the long languishing nuclear plants in the prefecture. After the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s energy goals have been hit seriously as the nuclear energy — a major source in the country’s energy calculus — has been almost stopped. At the time of the Fukushima crisis, Japan had about fifty nuclear reactors accounting for almost thirty percent of the total national energy output. But very soon after the tragedy, almost all of them tended to go idle and the popular sentiment against nuclear energy has almost made it impossible for the government to revive the operations of the reactors. Five years since the 2011 crisis, only one reactor has resumed its service and that too against intense popular resentment.

PM Abe is keen to implement his new energy policy with nuclear power as a key element. But for this, PM Abe would like to have friendly prefectural governors who would work in tandem with the central government in carrying out its policies and programmes. In this sense, Abe would have preferred a friendly governor. But the victory of Ryuichi Yoneyama as the governor of Niigata Prefecture came as a great disappointment for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party/Komeito coalition. Pitted against him was Tamio Mori, a more experienced politician who had served as mayor of Nagaoka in the same Niigata Prefecture. Mori was supported by both the LDP and Komeito. Abe and his party thought that if Mori won the election, it would be easier for them to place the idle reactors back on service.

Russia’s Ultra-Secret Spy Sub Ready to Go to Sea

Dave Majumdar
October 25, 2016

Russia’s Super Secret Spy Submarine Returns to Sea

Earlier this month, a Russian ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) calledPodmoskovie slipped out of its pier at Severodvinsk for the first time in 16 years.

But BS-64 Podmoskovie—which was commissioned in 1986 as a Project 667BDRMDelfin-class (NATO: Delta IV) SSBN designated K-64—is no ordinary boomer. Over the course of nearly two decades, the massive submarine was modified to conduct special missions. But exactly what those missions might be remains somewhat of a mystery.

Podmoskovie was photographed leaving the shipyard for contractor sea trials on Oct. 22 by Oleg Kuleshov, who writes for the BMPD blog—a product of the Moscow-based Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

Podmoskovie and her sister BS-136 Orenburg—a former Delta III SSBN—are roughly analogous to the U.S. Navy’s secretive USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23)—which is a highly modified Seawolf-class boat. Carter is roughly 100ft longer that her two Seawolf-class sisters with the addition of a Multi-Mission Platform (MMP), which allows the submarine to launch and recovery of various unmanned vehicles and support special operations forces. Podmoskovie is thought to be similar in concept—but the Russians are not exactly keen on sharing those details for obvious reasons.

What is known about Podmoskovie is that the massive vessel entered the shipyard in 1999 under the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Project 09787—which ostensibly performs deep-sea research. By 2002, the boat had its missile tubes removed and the special compartments similar to those on Orenburg were installed. Indeed, externally, Podmoskovie looks very different from a standard Project 667BDRM boat aft of the sail and she appears to have had her hull lengthened.

Who Congress Should Really Listen to on Foreign Policy: Voters

October 25, 2016

Think the public doesn’t care about foreign policy? Ask Barack Obama, who built his 2008 campaign on a foundation of popular anger over Iraq. Yet, Congress—the people’s representatives and the branch closest to the mood of the country—routinely cedes foreign policy decision-making to executive branch bureaucrats. 

Like everything else, the Founders subjected foreign policy power to checks and balances, but Congress routinely leaves its most powerful tools fallow. Now and then, the House of Representatives threatens to withhold funds for a significant foreign policy issue (e.g. Iraq), and, occasionally, the Senate will block an ambassador about whom nobody cares. But otherwise, the Congress seems to throw its hands up and give the executive free reign.

Syria presents a looming civics lesson. All indicators point to a Clinton presidency, which means a push for no-fly zones in Syria. Congress had better be careful. Voters may not support a no-fly zone, and if Congress becomes complicit in pushing one forward, the country's politics will look far Trumpier than even now.

Unless Congress relearns how to influence foreign policy, the country will sleepwalk into Hillary Clinton’s proposed half-baked military solution just because the think tank community wants it and because it appears to be the opposite of President Obama’s Alfred E. Neuman approach to Syria. If public opinion gels against it, the GOP will pay dearly at the polls. Congress needs to do its political due diligence. Be wary of following experts over a cliff.

The first thing Congress should do is knock off the nonsense that resistance to no-fly zones means someone is an isolationist, pro-Russian or okay with genocide. Those are infuriating arguments for opponents (i.e. voters) whose concern typically revolves around a no-fly zone’s efficacy—why are we doing it?—or mission creep.

Beyond Ender: Amplified Intelligence and the Age of the School Wars

October 23, 2016

Beyond Ender: Amplified Intelligence and the Age of the School Wars

Erik Richardson

Innovation. Black Swans. From Welsh longbowmen to the Enigma machines to the Stuxnet virus. The race to make the next giant leap first has always been critical, and in an era when networks and cybersystems can implement and advantage on a global scale within nanoseconds, the risk of being second is worse than ever. This is a first sketch of an initiative that will help to make sure we keep on being those precious few nanoseconds ahead of our opponents.

In the same way that the nuclear arms race depended on the control of plutonium and enrichment facilities, we must look to our supply chain. We must look to the research and development labs where our most powerful weapons are being programmed, tweaked, and tested. In short, we must look to the classrooms of our primary education system.

Given the kind of mental focus and agility that will be required to successfully pilot centaur-like interface systems, as one example, and any number of black swan innovations that we are not yet able to even foresee, what are the foundational skills and meta-skills teachers should be building and how?

Here is laid out a brief sketch in broad strokes of an initiative to make sure we have, effectively, the most-enriched plutonium. The first section will lay out a brief case for why human-technology integration will be the fastest, best advantage. The second section will offer some particularly promising examples that would serve as a starting point for improving the enrichment of our neural plutonium. Then the third section will offer a suggested starting point for what we would need to do to leverage the potential outlined in the first two sections.

The Central Importance of Interface Capacity: Why Centaurs Will Always Beat Pure AI

Why Putin is unleashing his only aircraft carrier

LONDON – Somewhere in the autumn gales and squalls of the North Sea, Russia’s only aircraft carrier is heading south to war.

According to TASS news agency, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and seven more vessels sailed Saturday from the Northern Fleet’s Arctic headquarters of Severomorsk. It’s the eighth time the ship and its escorts have made the journey to the Mediterranean, a trip that has become a key part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to reassert Moscow’s naval strength and reach.

This deployment, though, is very different. Moscow has spent considerable resources over the last decade developing the ability to conduct operations from the carrier, launched in the dying days of the Soviet Union. But unlike its U.S., French, British and Italian counterparts, it has never used the ship in anger. That’s about to change. Perhaps within as little as two weeks, its SU-33 and MiG-29 jets will be slamming ordinance into Aleppo and other parts of Syria.

On one level, the Kremlin has no particular need to use carrier-mounted aircraft. If it wanted to increase the number of aircraft operating over Syria, it could simply send more ground-based jets to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s airfields. Sending the carrier and its escorts is in many ways a much more expensive and complex way of achieving the same thing. Nor is it without risk — in the past, Russia’s warships have sometimes shown an alarming tendency to break down, often traveling with their own oceangoing tugs.

Moscow clearly wishes to show that it can emulate Washington by sending a task force thousands of miles and then conducting weeks or months of military activity — an exercise that will highlight Russia’s renewed military capability. It will further complicate the political calculus for the U.S. and others when it comes to finding a way forward in Syria. And, of course, it offers a neat opportunity to remind a host of countries in northern Europe that Moscow cannot be ignored.

Is Russia Killing Off Eastern Ukraine’s Warlords?

OCTOBER 25, 2016

Arsen Pavlov was no stranger to extreme violence.

This Russian commander, better known by the nom de guerre “Motorola,” was a veteran of Moscow’s ruthless campaign in the Second Chechen War and later became a prominent figure in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, leading a battalion of Moscow-backed separatists. He soon emerged as one of the region’s most famous warlords, an effective fighter who took part in major offensives at the Donetsk airport and Ilovaisk. He was also ruthless, known to boast about executing captured Ukrainian soldiers.
Volkswagen to Pay Billion for Diesel Emissions Cheat

The German car maker still faces a U.S. criminal investigation as well as inquiries in Europe.

On Sunday, Oct. 16, Pavlov’s brutal methods finally caught up with him.

The 33-year-old mercenary was assassinated in Donetsk by a remote-controlled bomb planted on his apartment building’s elevator. Pavlov and his bodyguard were both wearing full-body armor, but bloody remains and a jumble of ammunition were all that was left of them.

Pavlov is the latest separatist commander, and among the most prominent, to die in mysterious circumstances since the conflict first erupted. As the war in eastern Ukraine drags on, with the death toll at around 10,000 and no real end in sight, leaders of the areas known as the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) have been meeting their demise in apparently safe surroundings, far from the dangers of the battlefield.