14 December 2016

*** The Insidious Method to the Jihadist Madness

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By Kamran Bokhari

A Dec. 11 bombing at a major Christian church in Cairo killed some 25 people and wounded at least 50 others. The blast occurred at a chapel adjacent to St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of Egypt’s Orthodox Christian Church and home to the office of its spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II. Early reports suggest that a remote-detonated device, rather than a suicide bomber, caused the explosion. This attack comes two days after a bomb elsewhere in Cairo killed six policemen, an assault claimed by a little-known group called Hasm that Egyptian officials say is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in August 2014. However, after the church bombing, Hasm issued a communiqué saying it was not involved in that attack, and that, on principle, it does not kill women, children, the elderly or worshippers.

The target suggests that some form of Islamists likely could be the perpetrators of this latest attack. The Islamic State (IS) has demonstrated the capability to carry out attacks in Egypt and is known for deliberately targeting minorities – mostly religious. Regardless of who is actually behind this bombing on Egypt’s main Coptic religious facility, we have the broader phenomenon of jihadis disproportionately attacking minority communities in Muslim-majority countries. These include non-Muslim citizens (largely Christians), but because the minority Muslim sects (Shiites, Ismailis, Ahmadis, Sufis, etc.) are more numerous, they have been the focus of the jihadist ire.

** Inside China’s Global Spending Spree

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By Scott Cendrowski

“One Belt, One Road,” China’s $3 trillion infrastructure-building campaign, could be a windfall for some Western companies and investors. 

The high-rise coastal city of Dubai plays host to all kinds of luxury oddities: indoor ski slopes, gold-bar vending machines, vast artificial archipelagoes shaped like palm trees. But six miles inland, something just as unusual, if far less gaudy, is taking shape—the first coal-fired power plant in the Middle East. 

The United Arab Emirates, to which Dubai belongs, need to diversify their energy mix. By 2030, Dubai hopes to balance natural gas and solar and get 7% of its energy from coal. Its first step: a massive “clean coal” project. Workers broke ground in early November for a plant expected to be finished in 2023. 

In this petroleum-dominated region, there isn’t much coal-power expertise. But that won’t be a problem for Dubai, thanks to help from unusual sources. The nearly $2 billion project is backed by $1.4 billion in funding from the Chinese government and banks and is being built by Chinese construction crews. 

Why such largesse for an emirate swimming in oil wealth? Because Dubai is one of the nations China is targeting as part of One Belt, One Road, an ambitious foreign-investment project designed to boost China’s trade and diplomatic ties with more than 60 countries in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. China is opening up its checkbook for this group of potential allies: It’s committing $1 trillion through the program in the next ­decade—and as much as $3 trillion over the long term—to huge infrastructure investments, in locations that stretch from China’s coast through the deserts of Xinjiang province and the steppes of Central Asia as far west as Spain and Scandinavia. 

Mystic Mantra: Are you your friend or enemy?

Amrit Sadhana

Your basic stress, the real schizophrenia is that your mind and body are not in tune with each other.

There is a famous oft-quoted line from Bhagavad Gita: Atmaiva atmano bandhu atmaiva ripuratmana (Namely, you are your own enemy and you are your own friend). Like many other popular quotes from great scriptures this one is also half of the shloka circulated profusely. The other half, which completes the statement, is ignored. Probably nobody knows about it. And we all know how dangerous half-truths are. Nobody asks, what it means to be one’s own friend and one’s own enemy. In the outer world the definition is simple: one who fulfils our selfish end is called a friend and one who obstructs our desires appears to be an enemy. But the inner world has its own rules and laws. The next line of the above mentioned shloka defines both words: “One who has conquered his mind and senses is his own friend, and one who lets his mind and body rule himself is his own enemy.”

Here’s why science declined in India

Jayant V Narlikar

The book was translated in Arabic and was highly regarded even by those outside the subcontinent.

A look at the history of science shows that it flourished in India up to about a millennium ago, at which time it languished in Europe. However, this situation changed and one finds that the progress of science slowed down in India while it began to grow faster in Europe. Why did it happen?

There are numerous reasons for this reversal. They have been discussed and debated extensively by scientists and sociologists of science. Many reasons are usually given, but we will highlight one that may also have a bearing on the present question of why science is not a popular subject amongst schoolchildren in India. That reason is the lack of experimentation as part of learning science.

It goes without saying that the growth in our understanding of science is linked up with the role of experiments. A scientist may be stimulated to solve a riddle posed by nature. While observing certain phenomenon he may wish to find out why it progresses in a particular way. What are the controlling factors? What will happen if any of them undergo a change? Experiments give him the clue to these questions and through them he will get a far better understanding of the physical process under observation. Without such studies, the scientist will not get a proper clue to the answer he is looking for.

Damaging arrogance - India's presence was inconspicuous at the Manama Dialogue

K.P. Nayar

Participating last weekend in the Manama Dialogue, which has emerged as a central element in the Arabian Gulf's regional security architecture during the 12 years since its inception, I recalled a conversation among four leaders from three continents in a New York setting many moons ago.

A meeting of foreign ministers of the Brazil-Russia-India-China emerging markets group had just concluded. Pranab Mukherjee from India, Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Yang Jiechi of China and Antonio Patriota, Brazil's ambassador in Washington, who later became foreign minister, were chatting, as they waited for the international media to arrive for their briefing in Manhattan's Millennium United Nations Plaza hotel.

South Africa had not yet joined the group, so it was BRIC without the 'S' at the end, as the group's acronym is now famously known. During four and a half decades in journalism, I have mastered the professional art of eavesdropping on conversations by leaders: so I edged nearer to the four men, close enough to listen to what they were saying, at the same time staying as unobtrusive as possible in order not to attract their attention.

Address by Foreign Secretary at India China Think-Tanks Forum

It is a great pleasure to address the India China Think-Tanks Forum. I had the privilege, along with CASS President Wang Weigguang, of signing the agreement that created this forum in May 2015. It is a source of satisfaction to see the idea become a reality. I also know you have had discussions today on range of subjects – from security architecture and great power relationships to economic experiences and arrangements. Allow me to use this occasion to share with you some thoughts about the evolution of our ties and the broad direction that we hope they take. I understand that your deliberations today were open and conducted in an environment of refreshing candor befitting the stature of institutions engaged in this exercise. It is a good beginning. I hope that this trend will continue as we institutionalize this dialogue mechanism.

It is generally under-estimated how much India and China, as proximate neighbours, have had to do with each other in the course of history. The evidence of our interaction is there in front of our eyes, whether along the Silk Road or at Dunhuang, Luoyang or Datong. There are still older examples – be it in provinces like Sichuan, or indeed, later ones along the Fujian coastline. Yet, a narrative that we have always been distant from each other was successfully constructed by Western powers that had an interest in doing so. As Prof. PC Bagchi notes in his unique work on a thousand years of our cultural history, the accidents of the second world war reconnected two peoples who had almost forgotten their common past. Unfortunately, the border conflict and its political consequences interrupted this process. Although India was among the earliest Governments to establish ties and promote cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, the three lost decades compel us to still play catch up with relationships that came very much later.

Brothers in arms: There is progress in India-US defence procurement

By Pranab Dhal Samanta

India is not a US ally yet. But it’s every bit on the edge of the American circle of trust. The creation of a special category, ‘MajorDefence Partner’ (MDP), signifies this best.

This is not just about perception tags, but about real deals, projects and high-technology access. The defence relationship has been tricky business between India and the US. Even former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh desisted from pushing the envelope on the defence piece for political reasons, despite an exponential rise in military purchases from the US under his watch.

Only for Friends of Friends The nature of military cooperation with a country is at the core of Washington’s definition of an alliance. It’s settled and framed into law and regulatory practices, rules and orders that govern military sales — especially, high-end equipment and technology transfers. This is a tightly-held controls framework, closely guarded and watched over by the US’ vigilant arms control community.

Yes, let’s talk business

It is only the US’ closest military allies who have a passport through this complex framework. Exceptions are often made depending on political exigencies of the day. But those also mostly relate to the sale of whole weapon systems.

Confirmed: Pakistan Air Force now Operates 70 JF-17 Fighter Jets

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The new number was released by Pakistan’s National Assembly in early December. 

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) operates a total of 70 Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defense Production revealed in Islamabad on December 7, according to local media reports.

The PAF now fields about an equal number of JF-17 and U.S.-made F-16 multirole fighter aircraft of all variants. (After U.S. lawmakers stalled financing for an additional eight F-16C/D Block-52 fighter aircraft, Pakistan is now mulling the purchase of eight used F-16s from the Royal Jordanian Air Force.)

The JF-17, first inducted into the PAF in 2011, is a lightweight, single-engine, multirole combat aircraft, powered by a Russian-designed-but-Chinese-built Klimov RD-93 (a RD-33 derivative) turbofan, capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 1.6. The aircraft allegedly has an operational range of around 1,200 kilometers (745 miles).



China's new weapons and rising defense spending make headlines in the Western press, but there are 10 factors that raise serious questions about the China's ability to fight a modern war.

The introduction of new weapons and platforms into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has captured the attention of much of the world for well over a decade. However, new equipment is only one element of the PLA’s long-term, multi-dimensional modernization process. There is much to be done and no one understands this better than the Chinese themselves. Based on what PLA commanders and staff officers write in their internal newspapers and journals, the force faces a multitude of challenges in order to close the perceived gaps between its capabilities and those of advanced militaries.

New weapons, increasing defense budgets, and recently corruption tend to generate headlines in the Western press, but at least 10 other factors raise serious questions about the PLA’s current ability to fight a modern war against an advanced enemy (some of which are discussed in a new RAND report, to which I contributed a collection of sources):

The Dragon’s breath


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With the disastrous foreign and defense policies followed by the last two administrations in Washington, power vacuums have emerged throughout the world, and as we all know, nature (and politics) abhors a vacuum. Europe can no longer even be considered a significant player in the global geopolitical context.

Which leaves only three great powers in the contemporary world: a weakened United States, The Russian Federation and the Peoples’ Republic of China. Last month I wrote about Russia, which is in the process not only of forming a Eurasian empire from Siberia to Eastern Europe, but which in a few years and in the face of a fragile economy and a declining and unhealthy population, has detached pieces of Georgia and Ukraine, turned the Black Sea into a Russian lake, implanted defensive and offensive missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave which effectively turns the Baltic Sea into another Russian lake, established a major presence in the Eastern Mediterranean with naval and air bases on the Syrian coast and which regularly violates the air and sea spaces of its neighbors with impunity. It has done all this using almost exclusively naval and air power and the Western response has been feeble at best.

China: The vanguard of globalisation

Richard Javad Heydarian

As isolationism is sweeping through the West, China is to become the unlikely champion of globalisation. 

Richard Javad Heydarian is a specialist in Asian geopolitical/economic affairs. 

"Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent," Chairman Mao Zedong wrote in a letter to his wife on July 8, 1966. This was the height of the Cold War, as Moscow and Washington vied for global supremacy, and massive protests swept across the West, from Europe to the United States.

The Chinese leader thought that one should embrace a crisis not avoid it, since it is chaos (not stability) that carries in its bosom the seed of radical transformation. This was Marxist dialectical thinking in its finest and most dangerous form.

As the succeeding decade of instability showed, the Great Helmsman's China, engulfed by the Cultural Revolution, would become more of a victim than a victor in those heady decades. Pragmatists, led by Deng Xiaoping, eventually abandoned the ossified ideology of Maoism in favour of turbocharged capitalism with a Chinese flavour.

China Says It Can't End North Korea Nuke Program On Its Own

By Nomaan Merchant

BEIJING (AP) — China responded Monday to calls that it needs to do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear program by saying that American officials were truly to blame for inciting conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

The detection Friday of North Korea's fifth nuclear test brought new pressure on China, Pyongyang's economic lifeline and the closest thing it has to a political ally. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said China had an "important responsibility" in North Korea.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Monday that Carter was "being too modest." She cited a Chinese saying — "Whoever started the trouble should end it" — in calling on the U.S. to "take on its due responsibility."

"I think the U.S. should go over the process of the development of the nuclear issue and earnestly work on a tangible and effective resolution," Hua said.

China has agreed to allow sanctions at the U.N. Security Council after previous tests by Pyongyang, and says it has restricted shipments of jet fuel and imports of certain minerals from North Korea, which otherwise remains in almost total isolation from the world. Critics, however, say China hasn't done enough to tighten economic pressure on North Korea as punishment for its nuclear tests, which the Chinese government has publicly opposed.

Just How Wide-Reaching Are China's Economic Espionage Efforts?

By Robert Farley

Chinese economic espionage was never limited to just the United States or just one industry. 

The 2016 Annual Report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (established by act of the U.S. Congress) includes an unsurprising series of allegations about the course of Chinese military and economic espionage against the United States. Among other items, the report suggested that China had appropriated elements of the F-35 design and incorporated them in the J-20. The United States was not the only target. Individuals and firms in Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, France, Italy, and Norway also came under Chinese scrutiny.

The geographic distribution of China’s espionage efforts isn’t accidental. For decades, the defense industry resisted the otherwise nearly universal increase in geographic distribution of production facilities. This phenomenon resulted, in large part, from the desire of multinational corporations to locate elements of their production chains across borders. This was done to ensure quality control, access to resources, access to low-cost labor, and political influence in emerging markets.

China Cyber: Stepping Into the Shoes of a 'Major Power'

By Bruce McConnell

An analysis of the Cyberspace Administration of China’s Third World Internet Conference. 

In November 2016, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) hosted the third “World Internet Conference,” in the ancient water town of Wuzhen, near Shanghai. The CAC is the organization that staffs the Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Informatization, which is chaired by President Xi Jinping and coordinates Chinese cyberspace policy across the government. This year’s conference was smaller than last years (1,600 vs. 2,000 participants), more focused and substantive, and generally more serious. It included a large expo featuring dozens of Chinese cyber companies and several major U.S. firms.

The conference is the flagship of Chinese cyber gatherings, as evidenced by the substantial infrastructure investment made in the past year, including a new capacious and functional conference center. This “Wuzhen Conference” is here to stay, not least because of the personal attention of Jack Ma, whose Alibaba is headquartered in nearby Hangzhou.

Aung San Suu Kyi Can’t, or Won’t, Rein In Burma’s Army

Feliz Solomon 

Her inability or unwillingness to stand up for persecuted Rohingya Muslims against the Burmese military has chilling implications 

A crisis is unfolding along Burma’s western frontier, and the world is waiting for Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, to respond. Eight weeks since the start of a violent crackdown on suspected jihadists that has sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives, the reach of her authority has been called into question and her credibility as a guardian of human rights is at stake.

While Suu Kyi — a Nobel Peace Prize laureate — has been conspicuously silent, the Burmese army has spent those weeks apparently flaunting its power. The army has allegedly committed serious human-rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Arakan, also called Rakhine. But Suu Kyi has downplayed the seriousness of the allegations and accused the international community of inflaming tensions.

“I’m not saying there are no difficulties,” she said during a rare interviewwith Singaporean broadcaster Channel News Asia on Friday, “but it helps if people can recognize the difficulty and are more focused on resolving these difficulties rather than exaggerating them so that everything seems worse than it is.”

It’s going to be very hard for Trump, or anyone else, to truly defeat ISIS

By Ishaan Tharoor 

On the face of it, the Islamic State is already in retreat. Over the past year, the militant organization lost territory and key bastions in Iraq and Syria, and is being squeezed out of its greatest prize, the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Its ranks are dwindling, its access to illicit smuggling networks have shrunk and its viability as a rogue political project is evaporating. But its capacity to launch brazen terrorist attacks around the world and inspire extremists through the Internet means that it is far from finished. 

Even if the Islamic State loses all or most of its territory, suggests a new study, “ISIS would still be able to exploit Sunni discontent and foment sectarian tension over the next five to ten years in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and potentially beyond.” The report, titled “The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Beyond,” was published Dec. 12 by the United States Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan, federally funded organization based in Washington. (ISIS is another name for the extremist group.) 

President-elect Donald Trump signaled throughout the election campaign his intent to wholly destroy the Islamic State. But as the study reveals, truly quashing extremism would require a level of engagement in the region and policy nuance that Trump has so far not demonstrated

Kaliningrad and the Escalatory Spiral in the Baltics


Over the past twenty-five years, the Kaliningrad exclave has been a thorn in NATO’s side. A Russian military outpost wedged between Lithuania and Poland, it is a critical element of Russian military planning, especially when it comes to anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) systems over the Baltic Sea and Moscow’s ability to project power in the Nordic and Baltic regions.

Since Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea and subsequent escalation of the war in Ukraine, Moscow has been pouring troops and weapons into Kaliningrad, most recently nuclear-capable Iskander missiles and S-400 surface-to-air batteries. Kaliningrad’s primary rail link to the Russian mainland runs through Lithuania, raising fears in Vilnius that Russia may leverage this vulnerability to create a confrontation at will.

The range of weapons deployed in Kaliningrad—the long-range systems there could now reach into the core of NATO—coupled with massive Russian snap exercises in the Baltics and frequent violations of the airspace and territorial waters of NATO and neutral Sweden and Finland has fed an escalatory spiral. Today, the risk is real and growing that a miscalculation on either side may trigger a crisis or spin out of control into a military conflict between NATO and Russia.

How America Can Cut Off Iran's Poisonous Tentacles

Amitai Etzioni
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It is the Shia, not Sunnis, who endanger U.S. interests most.

I join Michèle Flournoy, Hillary Clinton’s would-be secretary of defense, who praised the nomination of Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense. He seems to understand the Middle East, which is the second major threat to U.S. security (second to North Korea). He realizes the merit of confronting Iran directly, rather than contending separately with each of its poisonous tentacles in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The merit of this realization stands out when one compares it to the alternatives: abandoning the Middle East gradually by allowing Iran, Russia and their allies to take over; or engaging in a handful of proxy wars with Iran.

Those who hold that the United States has little reason to remain engaged in the Middle East (now that it no longer relies on oil from this region) should note that when observers refer to Shia and Sunni in the region, they sound as if they are talking about two more or less equal camps. Actually, the Shia in the region are much more aggressive and powerful than the Sunnis. Moreover, the Shia are more united than the Sunnis. Thus, on the Shia side are the government of Iraq, Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Hezbollah (a major army and a fierce force), and the rebels in Yemen. Russia and Iran are pouring billions into supporting these forces as well as sending troops and weapons.

The Case for Optimism

The average person, looking around the world today, might say things are very grim. It’s understandable. Headlines from Syria reveal devastation and human tragedy on an unimaginable scale. Billions of people suffer with too little, lacking basic necessities such as access to food, water, sanitation, or electricity. Terrorists wage their asymmetric wars not just against states but within our psyches. In the United States and Europe, right-wing leaders sell a tale of decline and civilizations at risk—and plenty of voters are buying it. Look no further than Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House on a wave of hateful sentiment. 

It is the worst of times. And yet, reflecting on the 2016 campaign in his newest book—and in many ways his most personal and provocative yet—New York Times columnist and 2013 Global Thinker Thomas Friedman begins with a quote from Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” 

Friedman, who is a friend, goes further. His book is titled Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. So here is a guy who has covered the Middle East and the tribulations of the world for 30 years, and three Pulitzer Prizes later, he is embracing optimism. Why? 

The Only Way Forward

 This year was in many ways one of great-power politics. The resurgence of Russia on the global stage, from Ukraine to Syria to China. The Saudi-Iranian power struggle in the Middle East. China’s assertion of its status as the Middle Kingdom once again, expecting deference from its neighbors in East and Southeast Asia. North Korea’s determined pursuit of nuclear weapons. Even Great Britain’s rejection of the European Union, fueled in part by Tory dreams of Britannia sovereign once again. It is a world of deals and shifting alliances, particularly as Pax Americana seems to wane—a trend that Donald Trump’s stunning election as president threatens to accelerate—and U.S. foreign policy takes a decidedly realist turn. 

It is a world of 21 million refugees and 41 million internally displaced people, driven from their homes by war, famine, and tyranny; a world in which a half-million Syrians have been slaughtered in front of our eyes; a world with a conscience that can no longer be shocked by human suffering, whether from poison gas, barrel bombs, deliberate and systematic rape, or looming genocide. How, then, can one argue that this was a year of humanism? 


Ben Fitzgerald and Alexander Sander have just had their report, by the title above, published by the Center for New American Security (CNAS), December 1, 2016 (see attachment/link to full report). The premise of the report going in was the following: “Rapid advances in mobile computing offer the DoD significant benefits. Leveraging the capabilities of the leading edge mobile devices within DoD, could amplify the positive impact of workforce mobility, enhance information security, and instigate the modernization of aging information technology infrastructure within the Pentagon. Yet, the Department’s risk-averse culture, and intractable acquisition policies, likely will cause it to squander these opportunities in favor of outdated, more expensive, and less effective mobility solutions,” they conclude.

“Early adoption of this next generation of mobile devices would allow the DoD to improve information technology outcomes in the Pentagon and further, reclaim the role it played as a technology leader decades ago, investing in nascent Internet, and global positioning system technologies,” [such as GPS],” Mr. Fitzgerald and Ms. Sander wrote. “Embracing leading-edge mobility will revitalize work-force mobility, modernize information systems, and send a demand signal to suppliers that will shape future commercial road-maps in key technology areas with benefits that extend to the warfighter, such as machine learning, and sensor development.”

Operational Art: How Do You Know If You Are Doing It Right?

by Lincoln Ward

Operational art includes “overcoming ambiguity and intricacies of a complex, ever changing, and uncertain operational environment.”[i] In order to understand the complexities of a modern operational environment an interdisciplinary approach is essential. This includes not only studying military theorists and history, but also understanding aspects of sociology, science, and human and cultural geography. This essay, although not all inclusive, will focus on noteworthy contributions in each field from the aforementioned list, which are essential for the operational artist to “better understand the problem or problems at hand.”[ii] Each section will conclude with several guiding questions to keep in mind as both operational artists and leaders. 

The first theorist that has contributed to the interdisciplinary approach of practicing operational art is Mary Jo Hatch within her work Organizational Theory. Quite simply, her presentation of multiple perspectives provides the operational artist with different ways of visualizing and understanding issues within an operational environment. She asserts, “this expands your thinking and gives you ready access to accumulated knowledge.”[iii] She goes on to stress that by using multiple perspectives you are more likely to thrive in complex and uncertain situations, understand individual and collective motives, and ultimately improve your organization.[iv]

By recognizing and appreciating multiple perspectives some questions that might arise are the following; what is the individual’s point of view, how is there perception affecting their actions, and what biases are they exhibiting as a result of their perspective? Hatch’s ideas logically lead to the next theory that contributes to successfully practicing operational art, which is complexity theory.



The third offset strategy, the Department of Defense’s attempt to refocus on peacetime military competitions, is not supposed to be about future technology alone. Yet when one peeks into the wargames and service studies seeking to capture defense funds linked to the third offset, it’s clear that the current capability-based requirement systemaligning defense budgets has trouble digesting a concept-based strategy. In a recent speech to the U.S. Air Force Association, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work echoed this concern by stating, “offset strategies are not about technology per se, so it drives me crazy when people say, ‘oh, the Third Offset is AI and autonomy.’”

The problem is that, as currently executed, the third offset will fail to achieve its objective: re-establishing a comparative defense advantage and conventional deterrent. Too much time is being spent identifying exquisite technological capabilities absent a unifying concept on how to employ military forces. There is neither a sufficient joint concept nor fully developed service operating concepts to address the future character of war, even if one accepts the premise of the third offset. Moreover, as presently conceptualized, the third offset, tends to overemphasize future capabilities and fails to address technology-enabled irregular threats, the role of civilian populations, or difficulties inherent in urban terrain.



“We had a serious problem,” recalled Frank Kendall, now the Defense Department’s point man on acquisition. He returned to government in 2010 and was vexed by intelligence reports detailing foreign military developments.

American “technological superiority is not assured,” warned Kendall. Potential future adversaries or countries selling weapons to future adversaries, he lamented, “were clearly developing sophisticated weapons designed to defeat the United States’ power-projection forces.”

But is the United States beginning to turn that corner? As Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Kendall is overseeing a new long-range strategic planning effort that seeks to replicate the unprecedented advances associated with the Cold War Offset Strategy discussed in previous Beyond Offset articles. (This new venture was announced last week by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Reagan Security Forum. Read the speech here.)

Kendall is uniquely qualified to resurrect the combination of innovation, program management, and concept of operations development required to replicate the achievements of the Cold War Offset Strategy: He oversaw development of the Follow-On-Forces-Attack (FOFA) capabilities from 1989 to 1994. FOFA aimed to delay, disrupt, and destroy the rear echelons of Warsaw Pact ground.

The beginning of system dynamics

By Jay W. Forrester

Modeling afforded a number of insights about why high-technology companies fail. It is much harder to change decision-making procedures than we realized when system dynamics started. Whether in school or management education, the focus will be on “generic structures.” 

In the last few years, ideas from a field of engineering instrumental to advances in radar, aircraft simulators, and defense systems have increasingly been applied to management problems. Both managers and consultants have used system dynamics and its principles of feedback and secondary effects to think through how a strategy might or might not work, depending on how competitors react, how organizational changes are received, and what kinds of consequences—intended and unintended—emerge. Many believe that system dynamics has helped them become skilled at inventing the future, either by sketching out causal loops on the back of an envelope, or by assembling equations of cause and effect in a computer model. Both approaches work. 

Adapted from a speech given in 1989 by the inventor of system dynamics, Jay Forrester, the following article is both a short history and a helpful primer. Forrester describes how the ideas he used to uncover the real causes of cyclicality in industry could be adopted to explain why low-cost housing has failed to renew inner-city neighborhoods. At the end of the article, a postscript sums up developments that have taken place in system dynamics in the past six years. 

How tech titans plan on fighting terrorism

Nathaniel Mott

DECEMBER 9, 2016 —This week a coalition of some of the biggest tech companies in the world said they were teaming up to fight terrorist propaganda on their networks.

Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, and Twitter announced plans to create a shared database of digital fingerprints – called "hashes" – to help them identify terrorist-related content, create unique identifiers for that material, and share the information among themselves.

For instance, the new plan would let a social media platform such as Twitter, a favorite among Islamic State (IS) supporters and recruiters, share details about terrorist propaganda on its network with YouTube or Facebook, letting those networks quickly find and take down that content.

While Silicon Valley has come under growing pressure from political leaders in Washington as well as Europe to do more to rid their platforms of IS propaganda, they've resisted calls to automatically share information with intelligence agencies.

I’m throwing in the towel on PGP, and I work in security


Filippo Valsorda is an engineer on the Cloudflare Cryptography team, where he's deploying and helping design TLS 1.3, the next revision of the protocol implementing HTTPS. He also created a Heartbleed testing site in 2014. This post originally appeared on his blog and is re-printed with his permission.

Encrypted e-mail: How much annoyance will you tolerate to keep the NSA away? After years of wrestling with GnuPG with varying levels of enthusiasm, I came to the conclusion that it's just not worth it, and I'm giving up—at least on the concept of long-term PGP keys. This editorial is not about the gpg tool itself, or about tools at all. Many others have already written about that. It's about the long-term PGP key model—be it secured by Web of Trust, fingerprints or Trust on First Use—and how it failed me.

Trust me when I say that I tried. I went through all the setups. I used Enigmail. I had offline master keys on a dedicated Raspberry Pi with short-lived subkeys. I wrote custom tools to make handwritten paper backups of offline keys (which I'll publish sooner or later). I had YubiKeys. Multiple. I spent days designing my public PGP policy.

Software policy 2.0: the new paradigm

Sudhir Singh

India desperately needs a national policy on software products to retain the software powerhouse tag

India’s first software policy of 1986 resulted in the Software Technology Park (STP) scheme in 1991. Undoubtedly, the policy was highly successful, with the information technology (IT) industry today accounting for more than 9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, the past few years have seen a serious decline in IT sector growth, owing to the rapid, global transformation in the technology and software industries.

Despite diminishing growth, even after 25 years, the old software policy (1.0) of 1986 still prevails, with its focus on IT services. India’s IT sector is strong enough to face changing technology challenges. But failure to capitalize on the capability built in last quarter century can have serious consequences.

In order to address the relevant global strategic paradigm shifts, a Software 2.0 policy is needed, with a ‘product’ focus.