7 November 2016

Gazing at a longer horizon

November 7, 2016

A national security doctrine, with political consensus, can prevent the unnecessary politicisation of national security issues. But is the government invested in drawing it up?

New Delhi’s decision to get back at Pakistan by raking up Balochistan in various global fora goes to demonstrate how tactical considerations continue to trump strategic thinking in India. New Delhi, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stewardship, has displayed an exceptional, often admirable, amount of enthusiasm for foreign and security policy, and yet the country’s strategic thinking continues to be guided by bureaucratic ad hocism, tactical considerations, and political expediency.

Mr. Modi’s ‘energetic’ foreign policy has not gone significantly beyond catchy rhetoric and fanfare. Take, for instance, some of the early objectives of this government: neighbourhood first, selling India’s growth story globally, and getting Sino-Indian relations on track. Half-way through its term, most of these objectives lay in tatters. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership continues to argue that having completed over 50 foreign trips in this period, Mr. Modi has energised India’s foreign policy. But how does “energising” become a foreign policy achievement if policy and strategy are to be judged on the basis of outcomes, consistency and follow-up? Beyond these obvious issues, there is, however, a fundamental lacuna inherent in the country’s strategic behaviour and choices today: it functions without a grand strategic blueprint.

Boxed up in South Asia 

**** Explaining Mosul in Five Maps

OCTOBER 31, 2016
The Islamic State captured Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, from the Iraqi government after a seven-day battle in June 2014. The US-backed Iraqi assault to recapture Mosul began with great fanfare on Oct. 18.
This piece will lay out the key things you need to know about the battle for Mosul in five maps.
But one thing cannot be expressed in maps. Already, the battle to take Mosul back has lasted longer than the battle IS fought to conquer it. IS is outmanned and outgunned in this fight, but it has dug in. It occupies a highly defensible position, and it is not going to retreat. This battle is not going to be a rout. It is going to be a bloody example of urban warfare.
The Battle for Mosul Begins

This map reveals three points about the coalition to retake Mosul. First, it shows how far Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters have advanced. In the first few days, these fighters advanced quickly, until meeting stiffer Islamic State resistance roughly 10 to 25 miles outside the city. The coalition forces are still advancing, but their progress, especially approaching from the south, has been slowed significantly.
Second, it shows how far these forces have yet to go to reach the city—the battle will not begin in earnest until they do.
Third, it gives a sense of the anti-IS coalition’s strategy. Although there have been reports of Shiite militias heading west to cut off potential IS retreating points, those are unconfirmed at present, and the militias certainly don’t include the bulk of Iraq’s best fighters. The coalition is hoping that IS fighters will retreat from their positions and melt back into the desert, fleeing to their strongholds in Syria or becoming easy targets for airstrikes. IS is not likely to retreat—if it was going to, it would have done so already.

The second map in this series is a close-up satellite map of Mosul. Two key observations should be taken from this map.
First, you get a sense of just how messy this battle is going to be. Mosul is surrounded by the desert on most sides, and the fighting in the deserts and villages is going to pale in comparison to the fighting in the city once Iraqi troops enter. Mosul’s population is between 700,000 and 1.5 million. Every house and structure on this satellite map is a potential booby-trap, sniper’s den, or obstacle to an enemy’s advance.
Second, you can see how the battle is going to progress if it goes well for the coalition. Mosul is divided by the Tigris River. As Iraqi forces make progress coming from the south and east, IS will eventually retreat across the five bridges that link the two sides of the city. Those bridges will be major chokepoints, and IS could even opt to destroy them to slow the regime’s advance. Iraqi forces will be forced then to alter their approach to a siege and send troops around the other side or else take casualties in getting across those bridges.

*** Pakistani nuclear forces, 2016

Pages 368-376 | Published online: 31 Oct 2016
Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 130–140 warheads and appears to have plans to increase its arsenal further. With several delivery systems in development, four plutonium production reactors, and expansion of uranium enrichment facilities, the country’s stockpile will likely increase over the next 10 years, but by how much will depend on many things. Two key factors will be how many nuclear-capable launchers Islamabad plans to deploy, and how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows. Based on Pakistan’s performance over the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapons deployments, the authors estimate that its stockpile could potentially grow to 220–250 warheads by 2025, making it the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapon state. Pakistan’s deployment of short-range, so-called tactical nuclear weapons is causing considerable concern in South Asia and in the US Government about warhead security and lowering of the threshold for nuclear weapons use.

Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile materials production industry. Analysis of a large number of commercial satellite images of Pakistan army garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be mobile launchers and underground facilities that might be related to nuclear forces.
We estimate that Pakistan now has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 130–140 warheads (see Table 1). This stockpile exceeds the projection made by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999 that Pakistan by 2020 would have 60–80 warheads (US Defense Intelligence Agency 1999US Defense Intelligence Agency. 1999. The Decades Ahead: 1999-2020, A Primer on the Future Threat, in Scarborough R (2004) Rumsfeld’s War: The Untold Story of America’s Anti-Terrorist Commander, 194–223. Washington, DC: Regnery., 38).

*** A fast reactor at any cost: The perverse pursuit of breeder reactors in India

M. V. Ramana
Ramana has a doctorate in theoretical physics and is currently appointed jointly with the Nuclear Futures Laboratory...More
In October 2016, Japan’s science and technology ministry announced that it was going to start decommissioning its Monju fast breeder reactor in 2020. Monju had a troubled history, and the decision to shut it down was in line with decisions in the United States and Western European countries to cancel their breeder reactor programs—which had come to be seen as unnecessary, unsafe, or uneconomical. (When something as expensive as a nuclear reactor is shut down, countries typically do not explicitly use words like “unsafe” or “unnecessary” or “uneconomical” in their official statements. Nevertheless, one can read between the lines of the documents issued by their public relations departments.)
In contrast, in October 2016, the chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission announced that the country’s Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) will be commissioned next year, with six more breeder reactors planned. Projections for the country’s nuclear capacity produced by India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) call for constructing literally hundreds of breeder reactors by mid-century. For a variety of reasons, these projections will not materialize, making the pursuit of breeder reactors wasteful.

But first, some history. The DAE’s fascination with breeder reactors goes back to the 1950s. The founders of India’s atomic energy program, in particular physicist Homi J. Bhabha, did what most people in those roles did around that time: portray nuclear energy as the inevitable choice for providing electricity to millions of Indians and others around the world. At the first major United Nations-sponsored meeting in Geneva in 1955, for example, Bhabha argued for “the absolute necessity of finding some new sources of energy, if the light of our civilization is not to be extinguished, because we have burnt our fuel reserves. It is in this context that we turn to atomic energy for a solution… For the full industrialisation of the under-developed countries, for the continuation of our civilization and its further development, atomic energy is not merely an aid; it is an absolute necessity.” Consequently, Bhabha proposed that India expand its production of atomic energy rapidly.

*** How to reduce South Asia's nuclear dangers

In the near term, prospects for South Asian nuclear disarmament appear dim. Assuming that nuclear weapons won't soon be eliminated from the subcontinent, what measures are available to India, Pakistan, outside nations, and international organizations that might reduce the risk of a South Asian nuclear exchange?
India and Pakistan continuously increase their stockpiles of fissile material. Pakistan possesses battlefield nuclear weapons that it threatens to deploy against India. New Delhi is close to completingdeployment of a nuclear triad. Non-state actors in South Asia pose a perpetual threat of gaining access to nuclear weapons or materials. Artillery fire along the India-Pakistan border is frequent.

For all these reasons, the nuclear situation in South Asia demands attention. But with Islamabad and New Delhi unlikely to slow their nuclear weapons development amid the long-standing antagonism and mistrust between the two sides, can anything be done to reduce nuclear risk in the region? Yes—initiatives of three kinds stand out for their potential to enhance South Asian nuclear stability. First, New Delhi and Islamabad could undertake bilateral cooperation in nuclear security. Second, the two sides could—with international help—seek to improve the region's nuclear cybersecurity. And India and Pakistan could commit, in one fashion or another, to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Improving nuclear security. An ongoing concern in South Asia is that terrorist groups might gain access to nuclear materials, either to use these materials in attacks or to use them as bargaining chips against either New Delhi or Islamabad.

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative and its Nuclear Security Index, both India and Pakistan do a poor job of safeguarding nuclear materials. But in recent months, both countries have taken some promising steps. Ahead of the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, which began in March, Islamabad ratified the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. At the summit itself, New Delhi made commitmentsregarding nuclear smuggling and other issues. And in June, India committed to an important initiative known as the Joint Statement on Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation.

Double-think run wild

Raghu Dayal, | 04 November, 2016
The country is baffled at the strange dichotomy that has come about, of late. In a unique morale-boosting gesture. Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined jawans for Diwali, effusively extolled their bravery, vigil and sacrifices that, as he says, enable countrymen to sleep in peace and comfort. Simultaneously his sarkar appears to be creating fissures and opening chasms between entrenched babus and hapless faujis, distorting the tranquillity and harmony essential for the nation’s security and development.
No doubt, the Modi-led NDA government finally cleared the decades-old OROP imbroglio for military personnel, but only after much dithering and delay that elicited unsavoury agitation by the veterans. The Government avoidably lost the grace. And then what has transpired during the last few weeks by way of a striking mismatch between rhetorical adulation and unabashed political messaging of the army’s bold initiatives, on one hand, and a pervasive perception generated by civil bureaucracy Rs of steady erosion of pay, perks and position of people in the armed forces, on the other hand. In a way, the overtures on the part of babus signify that the PM’s “sandesh for soldiers” on the eve of Deepavali and his personal presence on the occasion among jawans, preceded by Central ministers visiting border outposts such as Siachen for Rakshabandhan tantamount to propitiating only ‘a false god’.

How else would the government explain the outrage by the Service chiefs , firstly, at glaring anomalies in their post-Seventh Pay Commission salary structure vis-a-vis civilian employees, thereafter a substantial reduction in pensions of disabled soldiers, while effecting no cut in the entitlement of civilians or paramilitary forces. Utterly oblivious of the cardinal spirit of Izzat for his company, command, and country that drives a soldier, and for which he never swerves from making the supreme sacrifice, the Ministry of Defence lorded over by the civil bureaucracy hurt him where it mattered most, by verily downgrading his status in comparison with his civilian counterparts. Notwithstanding the Ministry’s avowal that its recent notification, that has raised a storm of protest by armed forces officers, does in no way change the long established equivalence of the service ranks in relation to those of civilian officers, it appears to be a contrived case of sophistry to explain away the act. It is reported that a Pranab Mukherjee-led Group of Ministers had decided the hierarchy in 2009. Question legitimately arises, what then was the provocation for the “functional equivalence” to be “reaffirmed”. 

Dalai Lama: Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded

In many ways, there has never been a better time to be alive. Violence plagues some corners of the world, and too many still live under the grip of tyrannical regimes. And although all the world’s major faiths teach love, compassion and tolerance, unthinkable violence is being perpetrated in the name of religion.
And yet, fewer among us are poor, fewer are hungry, fewer children are dying, and more men and women can read than ever before. In many countries, recognition of women’s and minority rights is now the norm. There is still much work to do, of course, but there is hope and there is progress.
How strange, then, to see such anger and great discontent in some of the world’s richest nations. In the United States, Britain and across the European Continent, people are convulsed with political frustration and anxiety about the future. Refugees and migrants clamor for the chance to live in these safe, prosperous countries, but those who already live in those promised lands report great uneasiness about their own futures that seems to border on hopelessness.

A small hint comes from interesting research about how people thrive. In one shocking experiment, researchers found that senior citizens who didn’t feel useful to others were nearly three times as likely to die prematurely as those who did feel useful. This speaks to a broader human truth: We all need to be needed.
Being “needed” does not entail selfish pride or unhealthy attachment to the worldly esteem of others. Rather, it consists of a natural human hunger to serve our fellow men and women. As the 13th-century Buddhist sages taught, “If one lights a fire for others, it will also brighten one’s own way.”
Virtually all the world’s major religions teach that diligent work in the service of others is our highest nature and thus lies at the center of a happy life. Scientific surveys and studies confirm shared tenets of our faiths. Americans who prioritize doing good for others are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives. In Germany, people who seek to serve society are five times likelier to say they are very happy than those who do not view service as important. Selflessness and joy are intertwined. The more we are one with the rest of humanity, the better we feel.

** The Emerging Political Economy of OBOR

Alexander Cooley
The Challenges of Promoting Connectivity in Central Asia and Beyond
October 24, 2016
This report explores the implications of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative on the politics and economics of Central Asia. The analysis calls into question the underlying assumption that large-scale investments in transport infrastructure, such as those at the heart of Xi Jinping’s signature initiative, can automatically promote economic development without a nuanced consideration of individual sectors, local political actors, and project governance. Scholars and policymakers should instead analyze the unique conditions facing participants, including OBOR’s Central Asian partners, as they develop responses to the initiative and its various challenges, costs, and impacts.

** The PLA Navy

By Anthony H. Cordesman with the assistance of Joseph Kendall
October 24, 2016
The PLA Navy (PLAN) has seen impressive transformation and growth since the 1980s and continues to pursue an ambitious naval modernization program. A “fortress navy” once dependent on land-based support and comprised mostly of patrol craft has shifted towards a force more capable of independent action, comprised of major combatants, and better able to project power along China’s periphery and around the world.
Coupled to China’s improvements in its air and missile capabilities, the PLAN gives China a steadily increasing capability to defend its coasts against any form of attack, project power deeply beyond its coasts, and potentially to limit or deter the U.S. from action in Northeast Asia, the South China Sea, and Taiwan. Over time, it will convert China’s overall mix of naval-air-missile power to a true “blue water” Navy – one capable of operating deep into the Pacific, the Strait of Malacca, and Indian Ocean – as well as launch nuclear-armed missiles from its submarines.

A new report by the CSIS Burke Chair in Strategy provides a detailed analysis of PLAN force structure, and is available on the CSIS website at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/161024_PLAN_Final.pdf 

The economics of CPEC: What are the options for India?

Source : SIFY By : Sumit Walia Last Updated: Sat, Nov 05, 2016 

We have heard enough of US$ 46 billion Chinese investment project in Pakistan – CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). It is the biggest foreign investment committed by China. China has undertaken six such economic corridor projects in Asia under its 'One Belt, One Road' initiate. Under the CPEC project, a deep sea port will be developed in Gwadar (Balochistan), a network of rail/roads will be built from Gwadar to Kashgar in China's North Western autonomous region of Xinjiang and China will set up power projects in Pakistan to overcome the latter’s energy shortage. CPEC – Pakistan’s National Project CPEC has been projected in Pakistan as a magic wand to resolve all the issues in that country as it would bring much needed foreign investment, business and prosperity. Over 30 news channels of Pakistan have been assuring their audience that a golden age is just around the corner. They all have been projecting that India is deeply worried about the immense benefits Pakistan will enjoy from this project. It was even declared on Pakistani news channels that India’s premiere spy agency R&AW has created a special desk with millions of dollars’ budget to destroy the CPEC project! General Raheel Sharif (Chief of Army Staff, Pak Army) has taken a special interest in the project. He has made several trips to China where he discussed CPEC, its progress and security along with other defence related matters. 
The Pakistani Army has raised a 'Special Security Division' headed by a Major General. It is a force of around 15000 soldiers (9 composite infantry battalions (9,000 personnel) and six civilian armed forces (CAFs) wings (6,000 personnel)). There are around 7000 Chinese working on CPEC in Pakistan - Two security personnel for every Chinese worker. Gen Raheel Sharif has said many times that the Army will ensure that CPEC gets completed on time and without any hindrance. Here is what he said recently: “Hostile intelligence agencies averse to this grand project, especially Indian intelligence agency RAW ... [are] blatantly involved in destabilising Pakistan”, and that “we are totally aware of all campaigns against the corridor and I vow that the security forces are ready to pay any price to turn this long cherished dream into reality.” Pakistani federal ministers have been saying that this `Game Changer` project will not only change the destiny of Pakistani but of over 3 Billion people of the area! By 3 billion, they refer to an entire population of India, China, Pakistan & Bangladesh. In a nut-shell, the hype is at an all-time high. Everyone in Pakistan – media, military, politicians, non-state actors (Hafiz Sayeed) – is in love with CPEC.

But a few sane minds are raising their voice in Pakistan about its economic viability. The CPEC project has been shrouded in secrecy since its beginning. The government of Pakistan did not share detailed information with media or public. Anything linked to CPEC project (even the Orange Line Metro Train Project) has been declared as a matter of national security and its details can only be shared with Chairman, Senate.

Economic Aspects of CPEC It is important to understand that (a) CPEC is not a complete USD 46 billion investment. $46 billion is the total cost of the project and Pakistan will have to invest its share in the project. (b) Chinese investment is not a direct investment of Chinese government but it is private Chinese investment funded by Chinese Government. To do so, the Chinese government has instituted banks and funds to provide loans to Chinese companies who will, in turn, invest the loaned amount in different projects. This ensures that Chinese government gets its targeted return on the investment. The 46 billion USD project has two major parts – (i) USD 35 billion investment in power sector, where Chinese companies will lay gas pipelines and set up coal, wind, solar and Hydropower plants and (ii) USD 11 billion investment in Infrastructure project i.e. building a road corridor from Gwadar to Kashgar. Pakistan will have to invest its share in different projects. Pakistan’s share in energy projects is approximately 20 per cent and Pakistan’s share in infrastructure projects is 50-60 per cent. In total, Pakistan will have to manage around 15-20 billion USD. Considering the current condition of the Pakistani economy where `Debt to GDP` ratio is touching 65% and total foreign debt touching approximately 70 billion USD, it will be difficult to arrange an additional loan for CPEC projects. 

** The Myth of U.S. Energy Independence and the Realities of Burden Sharing

U.S. Strategic Partnerships with the Arab Gulf States Remain a Vital National Security Interest
October 26, 2016
The U.S. election is taking place at a deeply troubled time for U.S. strategic relations with its allies in the Arab world. These problems go far beyond the Gulf. Egypt faces a serious crisis in terms of both economics and internal stability. Morocco and Tunisia remain under acute economic strain. Lebanon faces a refugee crisis, continuing internal instability, and the spillover of the civil war in Syria. Jordan faces the same problems with a refugee crisis and the spillover of the civil war in Syria, but is also challenged by the instability in Iraq and Iran, and is effectively part of both the Levant and the Gulf.

It is the Gulf, however, that presents the most serious challenges in terms of vital U.S. security interests. These challenges are coupled to a lack of broad U.S. understanding of the security challenges in the region and the importance of the Arab Gulf states as strategic partners. At the same time, there are growing questions in the United States about the strategic importance of the Gulf and MENA region in an era where the United States is approaching self-sufficiency in oil and gas production and where U.S. economic and federal budget problems put a new emphasis on burden sharing.

The Burke Chair at CSIS is issuing anew analysis entitled The Myth of U.S. Energy Independence and the Realities of Burden Sharing: U.S. Strategic Partnerships with the Arab Gulf States Remain a Vital National Security Interest. This report is available on the CSIS web site at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/161026_Security_in_the_Gulf_Energy_Dependence_and_Burden_Sharing.pdf

Fire, Film, Tweet: The Taliban’s New Way of War

By MUJIB MASHAL, OCT. 30, 2016
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters posed for the camera, their shawls and bandannas covering their identities but not their jubilation, as theycaptured the main roundabout in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz early this month in what could have been called “operation hoist the flag and pull out a smartphone.”
The shaky cellphone video directly contradicted Afghan and American military spokesmen, who were promising that Kunduz was safe from falling for a second time in one year. During the invasion, insurgents live-tweeted their victory and flooded social media with videos, often shot by fighters narrating their movements in close to real time. In the video from the roundabout, one of the many fighters in the background is heard saying into a phone: “I will call you back. The flag is going up. I have to film it.”
It was not an isolated incident. When the Afghan government said the insurgents were far from the southern provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, the Taliban quickly put out a video showing a fighter driving around the city’s outskirts in a seized government Humvee, steering wheel in one hand and microphone in the other.
The video, shown below, was aimed at displaying the ease with which Taliban fighters were moving near the city. But it also rubbed salt on the wound: The Taliban are making constant use of the American equipment they have captured from Afghan forces, including the Humvee the fighter was driving.

Increasingly, the Taliban — who, when they controlled the government, banned television and jailed people for photography — rely on their front-line fighters not only to gain territory and strike at the Afghan security forces, but also to record the moment and share it.
It appears that they are drawing inspiration from the Islamic State’s propaganda-first strategy. In the past, the Taliban released elaborate videos of suicide bombings long after the fact, their material falling far short of the Islamic State’s slick production values. Recently, though, they have been aiming for close-to-real-time updates and have greatly improved on quality. A few days ago, the insurgents released footage filmed by drone-mounted cameras of a suicide car bomb targeting the Nawa district center in Helmand Province.

Elements of a Garrison State Have Begun Encroaching on the Indian Republic

Legitimacy, political respectability and electoral advantage are being sought to be derived from the soldier and his martyrdom, while unthinkingly, new space, new respect and new autonomy are being ceded to the army brass and other security forces.

It is the Diwali day. The text message landed at 9:17 am: “Happy Diwali! Mins of YAS Sh Vijay Goel will celebrate Diwali with Army Jawans today 11.30am Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre, Delhi Cant wid NYKS students. Pl. cover.” At 4:30 pm, there is another text: “Hello Kindly check your mail box for Press Release — “Vijay Goel celebrates Diwali with Army Jawans” along with pictures of the event”.
It is possible to infer confidently that the other 60-odd cabinet members were celebrating Diwali similarly in the conspicuous company of this or that army unit. Nor can any one of them be chided for this PR overkill because they have been commanded to do so. In fact, advertisements had been appearing for days prior to Diwali, drawing attention to aPMO-directed campaign, called ‘Sandesh-to-Soldiers’, exhorting the citizens to remember this Diwali “our courageous jawans who constantly protect our nation. Lakhs of people have already sent their messages, have you?”
A few days earlier, the chief minister of Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal, was reported to have decreed that all officers be appropriately respectful to the soldiers and ex-soldiers whenever they visited a government office. The Economic Times(October 27) had reported how the BJP was preparing to send out Diwali greetings to soldiers’ households in Uttar Pradesh. Both Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are due to have assembly elections in a few months’ time.

* China Unveils New Tank for Mountain Warfare

China’s top armor maker unveiled a new lightweight tank at the Airshow China 2016 in Zhuha.
By Franz-Stefan Gady, November 02, 2016

China’s biggest developer and manufacturer of land armaments, China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), has for the first time publicly displayed an export version of a new lightweight main battle tank (MBT), dubbed VT5, at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuha, IHS Jane’s reports.
According to IHS Jane’s, the new MBT has a combat weight of between 33 to 36 tons, a relatively light weight in comparison to other MBTS such as the 43-ton ZTZ-96 (See: “Meet the ‘Backbone’ of China’s Deadly New Tank Force”). The tank’s weight indicates that it could be used for mountain warfare operations to operate in terrains that are inaccessible to heavier MBTs. Like most other light tanks, the VT5 will most likely be used for reconnaissance and infantry support operations.
The tank can reportedly be fitted with advanced composite armor and explosive reactive armor. “The example being shown at Airshow China is also fitted with bar/slat armor on the turret sides and either side of the hull. This provides a higher level of protection against rocket-propelled grenades and similar weapons fitted with a single high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead,” according to IHS Jane’s.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

The tank is purportedly armed with a 105 millimeter gun fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor. Similar to guns on other Chinese MBTs, the VT-5’s gun may also be capable of firing laser-guided anti-tank missiles, next to kinetic energy penetrators and high-explosive anti-tank warheads. Furthermore, the VT5 is equipped with a state-of-the-art fire control system and features an autoloader like all Chinese tank designs.
The VT5 purportedly is a variant of the so-called ZTQ light tank, pictures of which first emerged in 2010. There is little public information available on the ZTQ tank and it is unclear whether the MBT has already been inducted into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or not. The tank is/will likely be deployed along China’s western border including Tibet. It unclear how many ZTQ are and will be in service with the PLA. Some sources indicate that the PLA intends to field as many as 300.

Exclusive: Chinese security forces caught patrolling deep inside eastern Afghanistan


Chinese-manufactured military vehicles can be seen patrolling in Afghanistan's Little Pamir region. (WIONews)
By: Giles Gibson | New Delhi, Delhi, India | Nov 3, 2016, 
Chinese security forces are ignoring international borders to make regular patrols deep inside eastern Afghanistan, according to sources in the area. 

In exclusive pictures obtained by WION, Chinese-manufactured military vehicles can be seen patrolling in the country's far eastern Little Pamir region. 

The slim finger of Afghan territory borders China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and India's Jammu and Kashmir state. It is a remote, sparsely-populated area home to the minority Shia Ismaili community and little in the way of representation from the government in Kabul. 

WION could not independently verify whether the photographs show Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) or private security vehicles, but eyewitnesses in the region accuse the Chinese military of direct involvement. 
If the reports are accurate, Chinese security forces could be guilty of a serious breach of international law. 
Despite repeated attempts by WION to contact him, a spokesperson for Afghanistan's president did not respond. The Chinese embassy in New Delhi also refused to comment. 
Chinese-manufactured vehicles
Independent military analysts confirmed the images show Chinese-manufactured military vehicles. 
''The pictures show Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and Humvee-type vehicles. Both appear to be Chinese versions of common Western armoured vehicles,'' said Justin Bronk, a Senior Analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London. 

Losing the gamble

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

A fresh awareness appears to be dawning on Indians owing to the formidable wisdom of the Hans of the Middle Kingdom or China. The idea is to create confusion, doubt, a sense of fear and resort to the traditional psychological war to keep China's friends and foes, rivals and competitors alike on tenterhooks. Is it an attempt to follow, nay revive, the strategic thoughts of the 6th century BC soldier-philosopher, Sun Tzu? Is it a continuation of Sun Tzu's "art of war" through other means? What better way to do it than get an enemy's man to rip the enemy?
One can fight a war without actually getting one's hands bloody if one can win over the rival's confidante and get him to spit venom on one's rival through the media. This is a mind game in which the rival is seen to score a same-side goal. This propaganda war can be pursued relentlessly for the sake of the economy and commerce. China is easily a super power when it comes to playing such games.

The Hans of contemporary mainland China appear convinced that they are the 21st century's children of destiny. They believe they have lost precious time. And hence, it is time to act. The faster they act, the better the guarantee of outperforming the rival. The bottom line is, 'We are Chinese. Keep us in good humour. We hail from the banks of the Hwang Ho and the Yangtze Kiang, the cradle of human civilization.'
Now listen to what the Hans have to say about India. As they see it, a section of the people of India think they can compete with the Hans. Hence the rabble-rousing over the boycott of Chinese goods. The Hans' argument: This is a brave idea but an unwise move. Why? This is because such a boycott could never succeed on the ground. Why? This is owing to the lopsided trade balance between India and China. India's exports to China were $9 billion while the imports were a staggering $61.7 billion leaving a trade deficit of $52.7 billion. Products from China have entered every living room in India. From the rest room to the guest room, the bed room to the drawing room, the garage to the pantry, Indians cannot stay without Chinese products. Try to end the dependence. You come a cropper.

** The Real Challenges of Security Cooperation with Our Arab Partners for the Next Administration

November 2, 2016
The next Administration faces serious problems and issues in its security cooperation with its Arab allies that cannot be papered over with reassuring rhetoric. Some problems are all too obvious results of the rise of ISIS; the legacy of the U.S. invasion of Iraq; and the problems in the fighting in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Other problems, however, are less obvious, but equally or more important.

A new report by the Burke Chair addresses these problems, and is available on the CSIS website at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/161102_Gulf_Cooperation_Speech.pdf

One such problem is the need for effective cooperation in the civil dimension. This need is largely ignored or downplayed in the current focus on war and counterterrorism, but is as important as any aspect of cooperation in the military and counterterrorism dimensions.
Events since the beginning of the Arab Spring have shown with brutal clarity that there can be no security without stability. Military and security solutions are only half the solution to bring an end to terrorism, extremism, insurgency, and conflict.
So far, however, all of the civil forces that have shaped the Arab Spring and regional upheavals and violence— failed governance, corruption, failed secularism and the resulting rise of extremism, breakdowns in the rule of law, poor economic development and gross overreliance on the state sector, unfair distribution of income, hyperurbanization and population migration, massive pressure from population growth, and poor youth employmen t—remain key problems. In fact, most have grown steadily worse since studies like the UN’s Arab Human Development Report for 2002 began to warn that they were pushing the region to the crisis point.

The combined impact of extremism and civil war in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Libya are all cases in point. All of the forces that create civil instability and sources of internal anger and conflict have grown far worse since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011.
The challenges in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia have also grown sharply. Moreover, the Gulf and other oil exporting states are now only beginning to fully react to the impact of a nearly 50% cut in petroleum export revenues. Additionally, only a few MENA states have attempted the kind of comprehensive reform program Saudi Arabia has with Vision 2030, and no state has yet shown it can deal with its growing civil problems.

Beyond The Himalayan Barrier: The Chinese Question – Analysis

NOVEMBER 3, 2016

In the Indian chapter on China, the last word may never be written. From a veritably tiny footprint on the global economy and little influence outside its borders, China has today transformed itself into a remarkable economic power, the world’s manufacturing workshop, its foremost financier, a leading investor across the globe from Africa to Latin America, and, increasingly, a major source of research and development. Its government sits atop an astonishing level of foreign reserves and there is not a single business anywhere in the world not having felt China’s impact, either as a low-cost supplier or as a formidable competitor.

Meanwhile, the US, the world’s sole economic hyper-power so far stands much diminished; humbled by its foreign-policy blunders and a massive financial crisis, its credibility after the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is at an all-time low and its economic model is in shambles. The once-almighty dollar today finds itself at the mercy of China and the oil-rich states. Its Syrian adventure today is held to ransom by the increasing belligerence displayed by Russia, not least because of Putin’s aggressiveness to regain the Russian position on the world map.

All of this raises the question of whether China will replace the US as the hegemon of the world, the rule setter for the global economy and the enforcer, and what it would mean for India. Given the variety of reasons for the growing conflicts of interest between India and China, a careful analysis would be in order. In the following paragraphs, an endeavour has been made to outline the key issues that would impact Indian strategic interests and policies.

How China Perceives Itself

US Army Will Have More Robots Than Human Soldiers By 2025

OCTOBER 24, 2016
In the next 9 years, the US Army will have more combat robots than humans, according to John Bassett, a former UK intelligence officer. Basset, who worked for 20 years at the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), told attendees at a counter-terrorism meeting in London that the US is attempting to “stay ahead of the curve” by employing thousands of robot soldiers over the next few years.
Most of the robot prototypes have been developed or funded by the controversial research arm of the Pentagon Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly known as DARPA. DARPA has also researched the creation of so-called “super soldiers,” humans that are cybernetically enhanced physically and mentally. These “improvements” include brain implants, which DARPA hopes could allow the “super soldiers” to communicate “by thought alone.” However, some defense scientists have warned against such research, saying it could lead to “remote guidance or control of a human being.” General Robert Cone, head of the US Army’s training and doctrine command, has voiced his support for the “robotic revolution” in the US armed forces, as it would lower costs and lead to a higher rate of success in US military operations.
During the conference, Bassett pointed to the numerous advances in autonomous warfare that have taken place this year as evidence that the automation of the military is quickly approaching. Just this past March, DARPA launched an autonomous drone ship designed for various missions, such as hunting down enemy submarines. Boeing, a major US defense contractor, launched an unmanned submarine this April with the capacity for exploratory missions as well as warfare. Other companies that are unrelated to the US military-industrial complex are also investing in the autonomous ships. Rolls-Royce announced in June their plans to create “ghost ships,” which would carry cargo and would function specifically in trade. DARPA is also funding other non-military robotics projects, such as the development of tiny, flying robots to replace the endangered bee population.

The World’s Telecoms Are Under Threat From All Sides

AMERICA’S TV AND telecommunications companies are on a buying spree.

This summer, Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo, a year after snapping up AOL. Last month, AT&T signed a $85.4 billion deal to acquire the media giant Time Warner. And now, CenturyLink, the third largest telecom in the US, has agreed to buy Level 3 Communications, a company dedicated to running the backbone of the Internet.
What this shows is that these old-school communications companies are under threat—from all sides. Companies like Amazon and Facebook and Netflix are challenging traditional television with their streaming Internet video services. Smartphone makers like Google and Apple are eating into the power once wielded by the country’s cellular services, with Google even offering its own mobile service. And some Internet companies, including Amazon and Google, are even pushing into home Internet services. So, the old-school companies are looking for ways of fighting back.

Mostly, these telecoms are moving into media. That’s been the trend since cable TV giant Comcast purchased NBC Universal back in 2011. As the power shifts out of the communications networks, telecoms are buying up the media that traveling across these networks: TV shows, entire TV channels, movie studies, web empires. But in acquiring Level 3, CenturyLink is doing something rather different.
CenturyLink is losing its consumer home Internet subscribers. Cord cutting threatens to cannibalize its pay TV customers. And 5G wireless is poised to lure away even more of its customers. So, the company is focusing on business services, where it already makes most of its money. Recently, it has made a move into cloud computing—trying to challenge the Googles and the Amazons in another area. And now, it’s up Level 3, whose Internet-related services are aimed directly at businesses.

On one level, it makes a lot of sense. But while the $34 billion deal may help CenturyLink in the short term, the reality is that businesses don’t need a company like Level 3 as much as they once did—and that’s also because of Google and Amazon and Facebook. In so many ways, the deal shows how the telecom world is changing.
What the Hell is Level 3?

What exactly is Level 3? To understand that, you must first understand how the Internet works. In the 1990s, politicians and media described the Internet as an “Information Superhighway.” But really, the Internet is more like a highway system than a single highway
Imagine you want to send data from a computer connected to the Internet through Verizon in New York to a computer connected to the Internet through Comcast in San Francisco. The series of virtual roads connecting the two cities are what are known as “backbone” Internet services.


NOVEMBER 4, 2016

The United States and Turkey seriously disagree on most major questions on the Syrian Civil War. This divergence has eroded trust and, after Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria, has complicated American war planning to take Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de-facto capital. The two allies are now pursuing two conflicting policies in Syria and Iraq.

But policymakers in Washington should look for opportunities to advantage of the current status quo to advance its own interests. Washington should consider publicly calling on Turkey to return to peace negotiations with elements of Turkey’s Kurdish population, while at the same time being more forceful when condemning illiberal Turkish actions against its own citizens and Americans targeted for domestic political reasons. In doing so, the United States should expect a negative Turkish response, but given the current climate, its unlikely relations could get any worse. Washington, therefore, has an incentive to be more forward leaning on issues that could help to advance American interests in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

The fundamental problem in the relationship stems from American support for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an insurgent group that has fought against the Turkish government since 1980s. The PYD’s militia, the YPG, remains the centerpiece of American military strategy in Syria. With American airpower, the group has seized considerable territory from the Islamic State and is reportedly poised to take part in an offensive for Raqqa.

Turkey’s military strategy in Syria is primarily aimed at preventing the establishment of a unitary Kurdish enclave, spanning much of its border with Syria. This has placed Ankara’s immediate military goals at odds with that of the United States and pitted a NATO ally against an American insurgent partner. The United States has for too long sought to manage Turkish concerns, pretending that the small cadre Arab fighters allied with the YPG – and fighting under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF – could assuage Turkish concerns. Efforts to try and split the difference have failed, with Turkey now threatening to oust American-backed Kurdish forces from Manbij, a city that the United States and its allied forces helped to liberate from the Islamic State a few months ago.

Hidden Warfare 1. Cyber


The UK agency would like to be known as on the front line defending UK interests from cyber attacks, rather than as an eavesdropping agency collecting data on individuals en masse.
Defenceimagery.MOD.wikicommons/Harland Quarrington.Some rights reserved.Hidden warfare, or ‘remote warfare’ as it is often called, is now the driving force behind both armed and unarmed conflict. Cyber attacks, drones, and special forces are front line weapons – in the air, in space, under and on the ground. Their role will increase. Yet in Britain, they have been protected from democratic accountability by official secrecy, sophistry, or sheer pusillanimity.
Britain will not go to war again, ministers assured us after the invasion of Iraq and the tragically hopeless counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, without first consulting Parliament. Yet it has become abundantly clear that this assurance does not cover the new tools of power and conflict.

Let us start with cyber, where GCHQ, hitherto the most secretive of government agencies, have now persuaded ministers that openness is actually a good thing. I will return soon to drones and special forces, both of which, in contrast to the belated debate about how to combat attacks in cyberspace, still remain firmly hidden under the cover of official secrecy.
‘Information wars’
Whitehall, renowned for its collective ignorance of IT, has been extremely slow to recognise the growing threat of cyber attacks and ‘information wars’ attacking worldwide computer networks.
Iain Lobban, former director of GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping and encrypting agency, used his first public speech in October 2010 to call for an aggressive approach to cyber attacks. He warned of the dangers of adopting the sort of defensive strategy symbolised by France's Maginot line, which was supposed to repel the Germans and failed.

The U.S. Military Fears Russia's Electronic Warfare Capabilities. DARPA Might Have a Solution.

Tim Broderick, November 3, 2016
Reliable radar jamming and resistance to hostile electronic warfare (EW) will soon be standard, thanks to a program funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
DARPA has awarded BAE Systems a $13.3 million contract modification for Phase 3 of the Adaptive Radar Countermeasures (ARC) project, which develops technologies that enable airborne EW systems to counter new, unknown and adaptive radars in real time in the field.
Current EW systems struggle because they rely on a database of known threats with predefined countermeasures. In anti-access/area-denial environments, that database is not available. It’s an urgent problem as Russia, whose EW capabilities are impressive, continues to exploit these weaknesses.
Future EW systems will have to isolate unknown radar signals in dense electromagnetic environments and then rapidly generate effective countermeasures. Advanced signal processing, intelligent algorithms and machine learning techniques are the cognitive EW technologies developed for the ARC program.
Phase 3 work includes the planned completion of algorithm development, advanced readiness testing and transitioning the ARC technologies to critical airborne warfare platforms, such as the F-35.

4 Myths About Combat Vehicles, Debunked by Lt. Gen. McMaster

SWJ Blog Post | November 3, 2016 
David Vergun, Army News Service
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- It's a unique situation that the Army doesn't currently have a ground combat vehicle under development, said Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster Jr.
That hasn't happened since World War I.
"At current funding levels, the Bradley and Abrams will remain in the inventory for 50 to 70 more years," he said in his remarks as the keynote speaker Tuesday at a professional development forum for The Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare.
McMaster is the deputy director, Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy commanding general for futures, Army Training and Doctrine Command.
The Army needs to make "clear and compelling arguments" for capabilities that advanced ground combat vehicles will bring to the fight with their effective mobile protective firepower, he said.
Unfortunately, it's sometimes difficult to make the case when there are myths that are still circulating out there, he commented, pointing to four persisting myths.

Existing platforms are already the best in the world and are sufficient for future conflicts.
McMaster swatted this myth down, noting that "our enemies, and even our friends and allies, have not remained static." Potential adversaries, notably the Russians, are integrating new technologies into their vehicles, he said.
Germany's Puma, an infantry fighting vehicle, has a superior suspension and lacks torsion bars. "That's something we might think about having," he said.
Sweden's Combat Vehicle 90, a tracked infantry fighting vehicle, and the United Kingdom's Ajax, a family of armored fighting vehicles, both feature technologies at a high-level state of maturity, he said.
Those vehicles contain high-tech components that are already integrated into the vehicles, "But we just can't fit them in our [own] tanks and Bradleys. You just can't put more stuff in there, it's so crowded," he explained.
The next war won't be fundamentally different from previous ones and will be resolved through long-range, stand-off capabilities.

Next US President: Hillary Or Trump – OpEd

NOVEMBER 4, 2016

The fast changing poll results are creating more confusion, rather than providing a credible forecast about the outcome of US presidential elections being held on November 8.

Around the world Muslims and particularly Pakistanis are anxiously awaiting the official announcement. I wrote on Wednesday exploring the possible implication of the outcome on Pak-US relationship. The bottom line was that whoever wins the election the ‘status quo’ will remain, meaning the relationship will become good if Pakistan’s services are needed, or bad if the US focus shifts to other regions.

Some of my readers asked a funny question, who will win the election? I wondered if they believe I have a crystal ball or I am a fortune teller. Despite knowing my inadequacies, I sat down to explore the probability. Born in a third world country, having witnessed domestic, South Asia and MENA geopolitics for nearly half a century I have also started believing in conspiracy theories. Based on my observations, I tend to say that Hillary Clinton could be the next US president.

The reasons are following:

The US ruling junta has created a history by electing a black and half Muslim President. This time they will create another history by electing a woman as US president.

It is often said that in third world elections are engineered. I tend to say that the elections are also engineered in the US and the active players are part of electoral system. This time the female members of the system will play a decisive role. I say this because often the female members have not played a key role, with some reports saying they have in the past preferred to abstain from casting their vote.

RIP Restraint? Foreign-Policy Insiders' Electoral Hopes

November 3, 2016

Several recent reports suggest that the foreign policy establishment here in DC is looking forward to Barack Obama’s departure from office. Most believe that Hillary Clinton will be elected president, and they “are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy.”

This bipartisan consensus, explains the Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe, “is driven by a broad-based backlash against a president who has repeatedly stressed the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint.”

In a rare moment of agreement, Donald Trump also believes that Obama has been weak and inconsistent with respect to the use of American military power. Trump often celebrates his disdain for the establishment, but, in certain instances, he agrees with them.

It is notable, therefore, when two members of the foreign-policy establishment, individuals who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, counsel caution.

“For decades now,” write Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky, “America has been trapped in a Middle East it cannot transform nor leave, and where bold ambitions and transformational visions more often than not go to die. That calls for a cruel and unforgiving assessment of U.S. interests and the smart application of American power and leadership, mixed with a healthy dose of prudence and caution, to protect them.”

They conclude:

Why Montenegro's Elections Matter

November 3, 2016

Legend has it that Franklin Roosevelt, discussing U.S. relations with Latin American strongmen like Nicaragua’s Anastasio Somoza Garcia, justified supporting brutal autocrats by saying: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch.” The origins of the quote might not be clear, but the statement elegantly captured how Washington handled anti-communist dictators in both hemispheres during the Cold War. With the spike in tensions between the United States and Moscow, a new generation of unsavory leaders is taking advantage of the old patterns.

One excellent example is Milo Djukanovic, who, until a few days ago was Prime Minister of Montenegro. Djukanovic, who came to prominence by bombing Dubrovnik in Croatia in 1991, has incredibly managed to transform himself into the West’s “son of a bitch” in the Balkans. This is a position he embraced over seven terms in office in order to portray any opposition to his rule as Russian interference in the tiny Adriatic state, all the while gaining accolades from European officials for his pro-European stance.

Djukanovic has now resigned, but does this really mean his two-and-a-half-decade rule over Montenegro is coming to an end? Despite Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) winning the most seats in last month’s elections, its failure to secure a majority has left open the possibility that a coalition of opposition parties could form the next government. This would be a first for Montenegro, which has been governed by Djukanovic since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Indeed, he has served as either prime minister or president for almost the entirety of that time, stepping down twice before only to come back and take the reins. The announcement that he would step down on October 25 and make way for close ally Dusko Markovic, all the while retaining chairmanship of the party, suggests that Djukanovic is merely slipping behind the scenes for a spell rather than retiring from the stage.

Checklist for a U.S.-Russia Cyberwar

October 31, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, October 20, 2016

Following the hack of the Democratic National Committee, many in Congress and elsewhere have called on the United States to retaliate against Russia, the country the Obama administration says is the perpetrator.

The administration is reported to be seriously contemplating a response. While doing so may be satisfying and worthwhile, whether and how to respond is hardly a simple matter. Many questions need to be addressed before going ahead.

What Are the Stakes?

Assuming it is the perpetrator, Russia has clearly tampered with the U.S. election process by stealing and revealing political information that was private and had every right to be. That was bad. Be that as it may, keep in mind that leaked DNC computer files are not the only information that has been put into the public domain surreptitiously. (See Trump tax returns and various interviews that have surfaced.)

If the election process can be hacked by Russians, it can probably be hacked by others. Retaliation won't fix that.

Even in the absence of Russian involvement, the political environment would not have been pristine. Regardless, the second argument for a response is that Russia needs to be discouraged from tampering with U.S. voting systems. This is clearly more serious because the U.S. political system depends on (so far well-deserved) trust in the voting system. But if the election process can be seriously hacked by Russians — something most experts remain skeptical about — it can probably be hacked by others. Retaliation won't fix that. Continued careful attention to security would be needed.
What Would the United States Be Saying to Russia?

The United States could be telling Russia: You have angered us, and in our anger, we have retaliated. The lesson, of course, would be not to anger the United States.