15 November 2016

Breaking the back of black money

Shashi Shekhar

Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am writing this piece not with the credentials of an economist, but as the representative of the man on the street gripped by anxiety.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to ban Rs1,000 and Rs500 currency notes has turned people’s lives topsy-turvy. The market systems that were used to following a conventional path have been forced to tread a road less travelled.

This turmoil was expected, but a matter of relief is that the people’s unrest hasn’t yet been expressed through extreme means anywhere in the country. Should we assume that the people born and bred in India are tolerant? Are they prepared to face every circumstance, whether it is a foreign invasion or any other emergency? To assume this will be to insult them. This is the India of the 21st century that has achieved the distinction of evolving from a poor, colonized nation to a rapidly emerging economy in just six-and-a-half decades. Whatever happens, we Indians never let the flame of hope be snuffed out.

When Borders Close

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The age of globalization generated great prosperity. As the flow of goods, money and people across borders surged, millions benefited. But the elite gained the most. And as inequality rose, it stirred pockets of fierce resentment among those left behind. When the great shock came, the discontented turned to nationalist firebrands, who promised to impose controls on free trade, global banks and immigrants. Globalization stalled. A new age of deglobalization hit full stride.

That great shock came in 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, and it ended an extraordinary four-decade period of rising migration and trade. But that era provides clear parallels to the globalization boom that gained momentum in the 1980s and stalled during the financial crisis of 2008. Today globalization is once again in retreat. Populists are on the march, as evidenced by Donald J. Trump’s stunning victory last week. They have already won control of the government in Britain and gained momentum in Italy, France and Germany.

Former Afghan Intel Chief Accuses Pakistan of Militarily Supporting Taliban

Ayesha Tanzeem 


Former Afghan Intelligence Chief Accuses Pakistan of Militarily Supporting Taliban

Afghanistan’s former spy chief has accused Pakistan of helping the Afghan Taliban militarily, as well as providing them with safe havens..

In an exclusive interview with VOA in Kabul, Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the National Directorate of Security, said Pakistan helped create a strike force called the Red Force or Red Brigade in late 2014, and that it started operating in early 2015 when international forces had mostly left and surveillance had been reduced.

Initially, Nabil added, almost 3,000 people were recruited to fight in southern Afghanistan. They were divided into cells of 25 fighters assigned to one handler from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.

China’s sole ally in Asia might get more than it wished for

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When China joined hands with the United States earlier this year at the United Nations Security Council to approve the toughest new international sanctions in two decades against North Korea, it implicitly highlighted that Beijing now is left with just one real ally in Asia — Pakistan. Indeed, China has forged with Pakistan one of the closest and most-enduring relationships in international diplomacy.

Mao Zedong famously said China and North Korea were as close as lips are to teeth. Similarly, Beijing now compares its strategic nexus with Pakistan to the closeness between lips and teeth, calling that country its “irreplaceable all-weather friend” and boasting of an “iron brotherhood” with it.

In reality, this is largely a one-sided relationship that is turning Pakistan into China’s client and guinea pig.

Karachi’s Security Crackdown a Boost for Pakistan’s Islamists

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Farhan Zahid

Political violence and gang wars in Karachi have remained a critical issue for the Pakistani authorities over the years. The situation even became an agenda item in the country’s National Action Plan on counter-terrorism, an initiative that received unanimous approval in parliament following the 2014 massacre by Taliban militants of 145 school children at an army pubic school in Peshawar.

Led by the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force and targeting criminal gangs, terrorist groups and the militant wings of political parties, the Karachi Operation has been under way since 2014 in an attempt to impose law and order on a part of the country that has become increasingly chaotic.

Is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a 21st Century East India Company?

By Abdur Rehman Shah

When a Pakistani lawmaker recently warned in Parliament that “another East India Company is in the offing” in the form of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he certainly raised some eyebrows. This view came from Senator Tahir Mashhadi, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development, who specifically voiced concerns about the exorbitant loans Pakistan will need to pay back to China for CPEC. Mashhadi also objected to China’s demands regarding power tariffs on projects according to Chinese interests. Since the official discourse in Pakistan has presented CPEC in very rosy terms (often calling it a “game-changer”), the “East India Company” analogy merits a proper analysis.

To compare China’s role, within the context of CPEC project, with that of the British East India Company would be hyperbole, though not a totally discreditable argument. There cannot be exact parallels between both the cases. First of all, the method used by the East India Company (EIC) was entirely different. The EIC came to the subcontinent primarily with the intention of doing trade but usurped power through the brutal use of force, which the renowned British historian William Dalrymple described as “probably the most bloody episode in the entire history of British colonialism.” By contrast, China and Pakistan enjoy an exemplary friendship based on mutual trust and respect.

China’s Growing Fleet of SIGINT/EW Aircraft

China has developed and built several new EW (Electronic Warfare) aircraft. While some of these use twin-engine civilian aircraft most use the Chinese equivalent of the American C-130. The latest version of this is the Y-9, which will supplement and replace earlier Y-8 models. As electronic warfare aircraft these are referred to as Y-8G and Y-9G. The first three of the new ones went to the navy as Y-9G ELINT (electronic intelligence.) There are over 20 Y-8G EW aircraft in service and the Y-9G will supplement the Y-8Gs and eventually replace them.

The Chinese Air Force and Navy have about 30 EW aircraft based on the Y-8 and Y-9 aircraft. There are at least eleven used for ELINT aircraft. This includes a growing number of Y-8GX5 AWACS (airborne early warning and control aircraft). Also known as KJ-200, these aircraft are being put to work in the South China Sea and off the coasts.

Chinese EW aircraft are nearly as numerous as the American force but have, for the moment, less capable electronics, less experienced crews and aircraft that, while similar to the C-130, are not as reliable. All these problems are slowly being solved. While details of Chinese EW electronics are kept secret, the development details of their transport aircraft tend to be public.

The significance of the ‘Mighty Dragon’

Bharat Karnad

The Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter aircraft, known as the ‘Mighty Dragon’, flew publicly for no more than a couple of minutes – without pulling any manuevers — at the 12th Zhuhai Air Show in Guangdong province in southern China on November 1st. But it was enough to send worry coursing through the military corridors in the Asia-Pacific region.

The reasons are not hard to see. This aircraft is being developed by China as a stealth aircraft for long range strike, a counterpart of the American F-22 Raptor. With an unfueled range of as much as 1,500 nautical miles, the J-20, depending from where it is launched, can reach deep inside India in the west to farthest points in what Beijing refers to as the “second Island chain” stretching from Japan to Papua-New Guinea and northeastern Australia in the Pacific. Moreover, with a large weapons-carrying capacity, masses of this aircraft that China, with hard currency reserves totaling some $4 trillion, can now easily afford and produce, will be able easily to overwhelm almost any local opposition. While most of its specific features and capabilities are unknown and can only be speculated about, the J-20 is reportedly superior to the only competition in its class, the F-22, in terms of operational radius and the size of its onboard arsenal.

China Moves Into Russia’s Central Asia Turf —By Selling Missiles and Lending Billions


This fall, the Chinese embassy in Bishkek transformed into a medieval stronghold. Beneath its bulky walls, police officers carrying Kalashnikovs patrol ceaselessly. Bustling on the edge of muddy trenches, workers erected a new row of bulwarks.

Inside the compound, a wide crater and smashed windows revealed the brutality of an Aug. 30 attack that struck the Chinese representation in Kyrgyzstan. A suicide bomber crashed a van filled with explosives through the embassy’s main gate, before detonating it in the middle of the courtyard.

Only three employees were hurt, but the shock wave reached Beijing in a heartbeat. It was the first time in recent history China was so violently targeted in Central Asia.

During the course of the last 10 years, China has overshot Russia as the main economic partner for the five former Soviet “Stans” — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. This trend has gained speed since economic sanctions and falling oil prices grounded Moscow’s investment capacity.

British Commando Operations in Iraq and Syria Increasingly Restricted

American commandos (mainly Delta Force and SEALs) in Iraq and Syria are complaining that their British counterparts are increasingly hampered by restrictive ROE (Rules of Engagement) that prevent the SAS or SBS operators from undertaking missions where there is risk that might result in lawsuits for real or imaginary war crimes. This sort of thing usually doesn’t happen with commandos but despite ample recent and historical evidence that these charges are usually baseless or false the British troops have to turn down a lot of joint operations they have long carried out with American and other foreign special operations troops. This problem was created by Iraqis exploiting the British legal system with the help of British media seeking headlines and British politicians seeking votes. It was only in the last few years that evidence was uncovered about how extensive these scams are. But that has not changed British attitudes or, more importantly, government policy.

These scams would have continued longer had there not been so much intelligence collecting innovation (especially biometrics and analysis software) in Iraq and Afghanistan that had the side effect of uncovering details of refugee scams developed in the country the refugees came from and then attempted in Europe where many were given refuge. For example a 2014 British government investigation into claims that British troops tortured and murdered Iraqis concluded that the claims were false in 57 cases and all these accusations were basically scams to obtain money via the British courts. The investigation took years and cost over $40 million.

An Unwinnable War: The Houthis, Saudi Arabia and the Future of Yemen

Michael Horton

Saudi Arabia and its allies are engaged in an unwinnable war in Yemen. The Saudi-led campaign called “Operation Decisive Storm” began in March 2015 with the aim of forcing Yemen’s Houthi rebels to withdraw from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and reinstalling Yemen’s internationally recognized government from exile in Saudi Arabia. Despite 20 months of aerial bombardment and an estimated expenditure of $5 billion by Saudi Arabia alone, the results of the war are anything but decisive (Independent, October 23).

The Houthis retain control of northwest Yemen, and their alliance with Yemen’s ancien régime led by former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has deepened. The Houthis enjoy broader support than ever before. The war has helped the Houthis transform themselves from a parochial rebel movement to a national movement that routinely casts itself as a “defender of the nation” in the face of Saudi aggression.

Who is winning the Syrian digital war

The Syrian war has been, for good and often for ill, an incubator for developing new tools and strategies for digital conflict. OpenCanada asked five experts to give their perspectives on actors that they believe have been successful innovators in cyberspace. Whether any of these actors “win” the Syrian war, their digital strategies will likely be with us for a long time.

Abu Fatima, not his real name, got a visit one day from British law enforcement. They were concerned about his online activity, his pro-ISIS postings and the individuals he was talking with online. They were paying him a kind of courtesy visit – giving him a warning – before he went too far down the rabbit hole. His father, needless to say, was quite upset and demanded that he shut down his Twitter account. It seemed like an easy choice for his father – close your Twitter page or risk going to jail. But when I spoke to Abu Fatima over KIK messenger as part of my research on online jihadism, he explained that the choice was not easy. “Trust me, I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere until I met the brothers and sisters online,” he said. “I want to be around people who are on the same wavelength as me.”

Trump said he'd tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Now what?

Ariane Tabatabai

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump made it clearthat he opposed the nuclear deal reached in July 2015 between six world powers and Iran, which curbs Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. With his election as president of the United States, Iran, US negotiating partners, the broader international community, and US adversaries alike are all wondering what will become of the agreement. At stake is not only the future of the nuclear deal—known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—but also US-Iran relations and America’s credibility and reliability as a leader in multilateral processes.

Trumping the deal. Trump called the JCPOA “the stupidest deal of all time.” He argued that it will “absolutely” give Iran the bomb and suggested that it has transformed Tehran from a state on the verge of collapse into “a big power.” In short, Trump believes that the United States gave up everything and got nothing in return. But despite his vocal criticism, he has failed to outline any concrete shortcomings of the deal. In one of his more outlandish statements, he noted that the JCPOA failed to put pressure on Tehran to “do something with respect to North Korea.” But he has said virtually nothing about the agreement’s actual provisions. Trump’s advisers have said that he would “counteract Iran’s ongoing violations of

Soviet Sub That Sank Off French Coast in 1970 Carried 4 Nuclear Torpedoes

The Bay of Biscay is one of the world’s great submarine graveyards. In late World War II, British and American aircraft sank nearly seventy German U-boats in the Bay, which joined a handful of Allied and German subs sunk in the region during World War I. On April 12, 1970, a Soviet submarine found the same resting place. Unlike the others, however, K-8 was propelled by two nuclear reactors, and carried four torpedoes tipped by nuclear warheads.

The November (Type 627) class was the Soviet Union’s first effort at developing nuclear attack submarines. The 627s were rough contemporaries of the Skate and Skipjack class attack boats of the U.S. Navy (USN), although they were somewhat larger and generally less well-arranged. Displacing 4750 tons submerged, the thirteen 627s could make thirty knots and carry twenty torpedoes (launched from eight forward tubes). Visually, the 627s resembled a larger version of the Foxtrot class diesel-electric subs; the Soviets would not adopt a teardrop hull until the later Victor class. The Novembers were renowned in the submarine community for their noise; louder than any contemporary nuclear sub, and even preceding diesel-electric designs.

Russia's MiG-31 Fighter Is a Mach 3 Monster (Even at 35 Years Old)

Sebastien Roblin

In the last decade of the Cold War, the MiG-31, codenamed Foxhound by NATO, enjoyed a certain mystique in the West. The same grainy photos aerial photos of the high speed fighter would show up in aviation publications, along with ominous speculation over its capabilities. But unlike its peers—the MiG-29 and Su-27—the Foxhound never fully emerged from obscurity after the Cold War.

The reason is simple—the MiG-31 was built to be a home-defense interceptor, and was neither exported nor used in combat. But Moscow maintains hundreds of the fighters in its inventory as parts of its multi-layered air defense network, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Russia's RS-28 Sarmat Nuclear Missile Could Wipe Out an Area the Size of France (But Is it Overkill?)

Michael Peck

“If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce,” warned Winston Churchill. That was in 1952, just two years after America tested the first hydrogen bomb, and five years before the United States deployed the first ICBM.

So what would Churchill make of America’s and Russia’s plans to build new missiles? Probably have a snifter of brandy and mutter about how silly the whole thing is.

Russia is deploying its new RS-28 Sarmat ICBM, a hundred-ton, twelve-warhead behemoth which makes America’s thirty-nine-ton Minuteman ICBM look like a rocket-propelled toothpick.

Meanwhile, the United States is also joining the new missile race with its Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent(GBSD), a replacement for its fifty-year-old force of Minuteman ICBMs. Estimated to cost at least $85 billion, the Pentagon says GBSD is needed because the U.S. land-based ICBM infrastructure dates back to the mid-1960s, while even the current Minuteman III missile was first deployed in 1970.

The Politics of Intelligence

G. Murphy Donovan

Director of National intelligence, James Clapper, appeared on Public Television shortly before the presidential election for an extended interview with Charlie Rose. Mister Rose, like many of his peers these days, swings between hard news at dusk and bimbo chat at dawn. Indeed, Charlie is the very model of a Beltway double-dipper, a celebrity groupie who feeds at public and commercial troughs, PBS and CBS.

On any given day, Rose might be seen fawning over a Hollywood poseur in the morning and then playing soft ball with a political tout in the evening. To give such tete-a-tetes, like the Clapper show, the appropriate gravitas, the Council on Foreign Relations is used like an ad vericundiam blue screen.

The very fact that the Director of National Intelligence spoke publically during the televised election spin cycle says a lot about what the American Intelligence Community has become since Vietnam.

On foreign policy, Donald Trump is no realist

By Robert D. Kaplan

President-elect Donald Trump is being called a “realist” in foreign policy. Don’t believe it. He may have some crude realist instincts, but that only makes him a terrible messenger for realism. Realists like myself should be very nervous about his election.

Realism is a sensibility, not a specific guide to what to do in each crisis. And it is a sensibility rooted in a mature sense of the tragic — of all the things that can go wrong in foreign policy, so that caution and a knowledge of history are embedded in the realist mindset. Realism has been with us at least since Thucydides wrote “The Peloponnesian War” in the 5th century B.C., in which he defined human nature as driven by fear (phobos), self-interest (kerdos) and honor (doxa). Because the realist knows that he must work with such elemental forces rather than against them, he also knows, for example, that order comes before freedom and interests come before values. After all, without order there is no freedom for anybody, and without interests a state has no incentive to project its values.

This retired Army general was a scholar and acolyte of David Petraeus. Now he’s on Team Trump.

Dan Lamothe

Michael Meese, then an Army colonel and professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., introduces Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates during an event in 2008. (Cherie Cullen/Defense Department) 

One of the first senior officials that President-elect Donald Trump has tapped to help guide his administration as it takes power is a retired military officer and highly regarded scholar who actively assisted Pentagon efforts to nation-build in Iraq and Afghanistan — something Trump has repeatedly criticized. 

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Michael J. Meese was a senior adviser to Gen. David H. Petraeus in both countries, and spent nine years teaching at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. He deployed from there to serve as Petraeus’s assistant chief of staff in Afghanistan for a year beginning in July 2010, and to Iraq in both 2007 and 2009 to guide the surge and eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops there that Petraeus led. He also earned a doctorate from Princeton University while serving. 

NATO Has Worse Problems Than Donald Trump

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Donald Trump is president-elect and things don’t look good for NATO. While on the campaign trail, candidate Trump played fast and loose with America’s commitment to the alliance. In the days since his win, he’s reached out to other U.S. allies to ally fears but has yet to reach out to NATO.

That’s bad. The alliance has a lot of problems and a looming threat. It needs America more than ever. A recent RAND Corporation report chided the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for being, well, weak. According to the study, Russia could overwhelm member states Estonia and Latvia in just three days.

NATO lingered long after the Cold War ended and spent the 1990s searching for a purpose. Lately, a resurgent Russia seems to justify the alliance’s continuing existence. But despite the Russian threat, today many NATO members fail to meet their treaty obligations. Only five countries spend the required two percent of GDP on defense.

This week on War College, we sit down with Joseph Trevithick to discuss NATO’s successes — and many, many failings.

Russia’s Spies Are Everywhere. Not Just Online

By Daniel Kochis

Even as Russia’s cyber-attacks have received the bulk of recent attention, the Kremlin regime has ramped up other espionage activities.

In May, Frederico Carvalhão Gil, a senior member of Portugal’s Security Intelligence Service, was arrested for espionage. Accused of passing secrets to Russia, he was reportedly caught handing over materials pertaining to “NATO defense systems, the communication infrastructure between member countries and military bases.”

The United States and our NATO allies are in the crosshairs. Last year, NATO limited the size of non-member state delegations at its headquarters in Brussels. That decision affected only Russia and was driven by a desire to cut down on Russian intelligence officers’ operating inside NATO headquarters. Before the limit was imposed, Russia had two or three times as many delegates as any other non-NATO nation, and most of them were thought to be engaged in gathering intelligence.

Asia’s megacities are running out of water

Brahma Chellaney

Asia’s cities are ballooning, and the accompanying upsurge in the consumption of water and production of waste in urban areas is placing new pressures on the environment.

Home to 53% of the world’s urban population, Asia has the highest concentration of megacities, including Shanghai, Tokyo, Karachi and Beijing. Not only are Asia’s cities big and numerous, they are among the most polluted. The urban explosion has made providing safe water and sanitation a massive challenge for the region.

Historically, the availability of local water resources has determined not only where major cities have been established but how well they have fared. But in Asia, rapid — and often unplanned — urban growth in recent decades has overwhelmed water systems.

Electronic Weapons: The Growing Chinese EW Fleet

November 13, 2016: China has developed and built several new EW (Electronic Warfare) aircraft. While some of these use twin-engine civilian aircraft most use the Chinese equivalent of the American C-130. The latest version of this is the Y-9, which will supplement and replace earlier Y-8 models. As electronic warfare aircraft these are referred to as Y-8G and Y-9G. The first three of the new ones went to the navy as Y-9G ELINT (electronic intelligence.) There are over 20 Y-8G EW aircraft in service and the Y-9G will supplement the Y-8Gs and eventually replace them.

The Chinese Air Force and Navy have about 30 EW aircraft based on the Y-8 and Y-9 aircraft. There are at least eleven used for ELINT aircraft. This includes a growing number of Y-8GX5 AWACS (airborne early warning and control aircraft). Also known as KJ-200, these aircraft are being put to work in the South China Sea and off the coasts.

Chinese EW aircraft are nearly as numerous as the American force but have, for the moment, less capable electronics, less experienced crews and aircraft that, while similar to the C-130, are not as reliable. All these problems are slowly being solved. While details of Chinese EW electronics are kept secret, the development details of their transport aircraft tend to be public.

For example, China began flight testing of its new Y-9 transport in 2011 and it entered service in 2012. The Y-9 design effort began in 2001, but the manufacturer ran into personnel and quality control problems, and put the effort on hold after a few years. It was revived in 2009 and soon completed. The Y-9 is a 77 ton, Chinese designed, aircraft that is powered by four turboprops. It can carry 25 tons (or nine 108x88 inch/2.7x2.3 meter pallets, or 132 paratroopers.) It has a crew of four, a cruise speed of 650 kilometers an hour, and has a max ferry range of 7,800 kilometers.

A battle plan against cyber-war

November 13, 2016 

The world got a glimpse of the future in October when a large-scale cyber-attack prevented access to hundreds of key websites, including Twitter, the online New York Times, and Amazon. The "distributed denial of service" attack against the New Hampshire-based DNS provider Dyn, which blocked access to major online services for users as far away as Europe, fulfilled the direst predictions of technologists and security researchers alike.

The attack exposed the clear reasons for concern about the coming age of an Internet of Things, in which more household devices are connected to the Web. What's less immediately clear is what should be done to ensure the Internet's most likely future iteration remains safe.

To date, the vast majority of disruptive and even destructive cyber-attacks have been the work of militaries, foreign intelligence services, or other state-sponsored hackers. These actors are usually operating under some degree of political direction and interests and tend to moderate their use of malicious code for disruptive or destructive purposes.

But according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, America's top intelligence official, October's attack was likely the work of a non-state actor, and his assessment has been backed up by reports from the private cybersecurity firm Flashpoint.

This marks an important shift. The barriers to entry are becoming low enough that hackers no longer need the backing of a government to carry out crimes or even acts of warfare in cyberspace. These non-state actors are especially destabilizing because they are not subject to traditional means of diplomacy or law enforcement. They operate beyond legal jurisdictions and without regard for geographic political boundaries, so the instruments of deterrence that have largely kept nation-states from projecting disruptive or destructive cyber-force are increasingly obsolete.

The Great Cybersecurity Attribution Problem

Jessica Smith

Rawls's theory of justice as fairness is the most well-balanced in acounting for social justice and security culture needs.

Unlike your creative writing professor, an entreaty for a suspension of disbeliefis not a term of endearment to a cybersecurity practitioner.

In fact, such language in this social clique is downright indecent. But to cyber constructivists like former Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, Mike McConnell, attribution systems prove an exception to the rule.

In a 2010 Washington Post article, McConnell boldly asserted that: “[W]e need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution . . . who did it, from where, why and what was the result – more manageable. The technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies.” Thus, if a new attribution system could indeed be readily implemented, how might it look from a security culture and social justice standpoint?

Islamic State's 'dark universe': cyberwar, killer drones and poison clouds

By Ed Blanche

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- As Iraqi forces tighten the noose around the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in northern Iraq, they face a cun­ning and murderous foe who has had two years to dig in and is fight­ing back with a ferocious campaign of scorched-earth tactics, suicide bombers, toxic sulphur-laced clouds, a morale-sapping cyber campaign and high-grade bombs, some of them assembled by slave labor, that could remain a danger for years to come.

The Islamic State's ordnance production is no longer restricted to a small cadre of bomb-makers, veterans of the jihadist wars, but is run on what military experts say is an industrial scale.

Iraqi and Kurdish officials say this has been achieved through a network of factories using some of the thousands of slaves IS has amassed since 2014 when it seized one-third of Iraq.

The US Military Launches “Hack the Army,” Its Most Ambitious Bug Bounty Yet


VIRTUALLY EVER BIG tech company offers cash rewards to hackers who find vulnerabilities in their software. Not to be left out, this year the Pentagon announced its first bug bounty to try to expand how the government defends its systems. Now the Army is joining in as well, with its inaugural “Hack the Army” bug bounty kicking off this month. 

Announced by outgoing secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, the program asks hackers to vet and find flaws in the Army’s digital recruiting infrastructure. Unlike Hack the Pentagon, which only asked hackers to assess static websites, Hack the Army focuses on recruitment sites and databases of personal information about both new applicants and existing army personnel. The program isn’t open to everyone; it’s invite-only so hackers can be vetted. Any military and government personnel who want to participate, though, get automatic entry. 

Information Warfare: How To Hack A Warship

November 9, 2016: The U.S. Navy recently confirmed that Chinese hackers had tried to hack into the network of an American Nimitz class carrier on July 11 thwhile the ship was in the South China Sea. The network security on American warships is pretty good but the hackers thought they saw an opportunity because foreign officials who visit these carriers are often given Internet access via the shipboard network. In this case the hackers used a spear fishing" (or "phishing") attack against one of the foreign visitors. The attack came in the form of official looking email, with a file attached, addressed to a specific person. This was an email the recipient wasn't expecting but from someone they would recognize. The attachment, if opened, secretly installs malware (a program that sends files and information from the email recipient's PC to the spear fisher's computer). These official-looking emails with attachments often ask for prompt attention. The navy would only say that the spear fishing effort failed but not why. To do so would provide the hackers with useful information. The navy did describe the specific malware used in the attack and what it was designed to do. That was done to let the hackers know that the U.S. Navy was on to them.

Defending U.S. Forces Against Enemy Drones

Steven Aftergood

Enemy use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is a growing threat to U.S. forces because of their low cost, versatility, and ease of use, according to a recent U.S. Army doctrinal publication.

“The UAS is the most challenging and prevalent threat platform to combined arms forces and therefore, a logical choice for enemy use.”

See Techniques for Combined Arms for Air Defense, Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-01.8, July 29, 2016.

As is the case with U.S.-operated drones, enemy UAS can be used to perform a range of functions from battlefield surveillance and targeting to precision strike, the Army document said. “The enemy will use UAS to fulfill multiple attack roles.”

The drone may deliver a weapon or be used as a weapon itself. “As an indirect attack platform, the UAS has the ability to carry the improvised explosive device or become the improvised explosive device.”

Launch Of Instrument Suite To Assess Space Weather

A new satellite mission carrying CU-Boulder space weather instruments is expected to help mitigate damage to satellites and communications systems caused by powerful solar storms. Credit: NASA

A multimillion dollar University of Colorado Boulder instrument package expected to help scientists better understand potentially damaging space weather is now slated to launch aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Designed and built by CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), the instrument suite known as the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) is the first of four identical packages that will fly on four NOAA weather satellites in the coming decade. EXIS will measure energy output from the sun that can affect satellite operations, telecommunications, GPS navigation and power grids on Earth as part of NOAA’s next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites -R Series (GOES-R).

America’s Over-Hyped Strategic Bombing Experiment


In the years after World War I, the brain trust of the U.S. Army evolved two conflicting opinions on how best to apply air power in the next war.

The Army Air Corps’ emerging bomber faction believed directly attacking the vital centers of a country, instead of bombing combat troops, was the best solution. This theory held that destroying an enemy’s war-making capabilities, its will to wage war, would lead to victory without the need to risk soldiers or even spend money on them.

These beliefs were incorporated into the phrase “strategic bombing,” pioneered by Giulio Douhet, an Italian military theorist who in the 1920s argued — horrifyingly — for the widespread use of chemical and biological weapons. Douhet later served as chief of aviation under Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

During the Vietnam War, U.S. Air Force Gunships Blasted Enemies With Old Bullets


In October 1970, American AC-119G Shadow gunships headed out to strike communist insurgents in South Vietnam and Cambodia. This time, the portly aircraft had a surprise — fast-firing miniguns loaded with specially-made incendiary bullets.

More than a year earlier, the U.S. Air Force went looking for ways to quickly add extra firepower to the already heavily armed planes. In 1969, the U.S. Army responded by modifying World War II-era rounds.

The new projectiles were “very good to ignite dry or inflammable material,” one AC-119 pilot said after the field test, according to a 1971 Air Force report. “Recommend we use as standard load.”

Unfortunately, the Army found that the whole exercise had been complicated, expensive and potentially dangerous.

Britain's Centurion: The Best Cold War Tank?

Michael Peck

When someone mentions a list of the best tanks in history, the names are always the same: Tiger, T-34, M-1 Abrams. And always from the same nations: Germany, Russia, America.

But great tanks from Great Britain? Though the British were the ones to develop armored fighting vehicles in World War I, British tanks of the Second World War can generally be described in one word: awful.

There were tanks that could barely move without breaking down. Tanks that were fast but too thinly armored, or heavily armored but too slow. Tanks with radios that didn’t work. Tanks with guns that could shoot armor-piercing shells at other tanks, but not high-explosive rounds at infantry and antitank guns.

The Battle for Mosul and the Future of War in the Middle East

Benjamin Runkle

How unconventional adversaries leverage low-tech solutions.

The campaign to liberate Mosul from Islamic State (ISIL) may still be in its early stages, but it has already revealed several tactical dilemmas that will have significant consequences for future military conflicts in the Middle East. Last month, ISIL used a small drone to attack Iraqi forces participating in the offensive, killing two Kurdish fighters when explosives disguised as a battery were detonated. Although other attempts to deploy “flying IEDs” have been less successful, the U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend acknowledged that this capability represented a “pretty thorny problem” and that, “We expect to see more of this.”