30 November 2017

A War Between India and Pakistan: Nuclear Weapons Could Fly (And Millions Die)

Sebastien Roblin

India possesses a smaller number of nuclear weapons, estimated in 2015 to range between ninety and 120. However, New Delhi recently acquired a full nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nuclear platforms when it deployed its first home-produced nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant. The Arihant is capable of launching a dozen K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles. However, these are limited to a range of 750 kilometers, and are thus incapable of reaching the major inland cities of Pakistan or China, a shortcoming India is attempting to address with new K-4 missiles, derived form the land-based Agni-III. New Delhi intends to produce three more nuclear submarines over the years, while Pakistan is considering building one of their own.

Inside Pakistan’s Biggest Business Conglomerate: The Pakistani Military


Retired military officers are profiting from private security contracts around some of Pakistan's most contested regions, stoking new fears of nepotism and corruption. 

In July 2016, the Pakistani senate was informed that the armed forces run over 50 commercial entities worth over $20 billion. Ranging from petrol pumps to huge industrial plants, banks, bakeries, schools and universities, hosiery factories, milk dairies, stud farms, and cement plants, the military has a finger in each pie and stands today as the biggest conglomerate of all business in Pakistan. 



In 2015, the U.S. Congress decided it was time to take a public accounting of the U.S. government’s war against al-Qaeda. In that year’s National Defense Authorization Act, Congress mandated: The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall provide for the conduct of an independent assessment of the effectiveness of the United States’ efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Qaeda … since September 11, 2001.

The End of the End of History

by Klaus Brinkbäumer

The collapse of coalition talks in Berlin are far from a national crisis. But it is symptomatic. It is time for German politicians to realize what is at stake for their country and the rest of the Western world.

Sometimes we in the West forget that our view of the world is just one among many that are possible. And that neither our understanding of human rights nor our adherence to liberal democracy are attractive across the globe. Is the Western way of life morally superior? And even if it were, is it the most constructive or effective way of organizing human societies?

Why Does ISIS Kill Muslims?

by Raymond Ibrahim

At least 305 civilians were killed on November 24 when ISIS bombed a Sufi mosque in the Egyptian Sinai village of al-Rawdah and opened fire on the panicked crowd. On Friday, November 24, some 30 gunmen carrying the Islamic State flag bombed and stormed a Sufi mosque in Egypt's North Sinai, about 125 miles northeast of Cairo. They managed to massacre at least 305 people, 27 of whom were children. "The scene was horrific," said Ibrahim Sheteewi, an eyewitness. "The bodies were scattered on the ground outside the mosque. I hope God punishes them for this."

Putin Nukes Trump

By Mark B. Schneider

On October 27, 2017, the Kremlin announced that “Vladimir Putin took part in Strategic Nuclear Forces’ training.”[1] Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declared, “During the training, its participants practiced interaction between the RVSN [Russian Strategic Rocket Forces], nuclear submarines of the Northern and Pacific Fleets and long-range aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces.”[2] He emphasized the fact that Putin personally gave the launch order.[3] The Russian Defense Ministry gave some details about the exercise. It stated:

Units of Strategic Missile Forces control centres, crews of nuclear missile submarines of the Northern and Pacific Fleets as well as long-range strategic bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out training missions.

NATO ‘not ready for FUTURE WAR’: Fears over rising threat from Russia and North Korea


A group of experts warned the military alliance “risks falling behind the pace of political change and technological developments that could alter the character of warfare”. The panel, put together by security NGO Globsec, set out a raft of recommendations that leaders should adopt by the organisation’s 70th anniversary summit in 2019. They include enhancing security forces and building relationships with influential rising powers like the Chinese. It warned: “To maintain its credibility as a defensive alliance NATO must embark on a more far-reaching process of adaptation. “NATO must ensure it has the capacity to fight a future war if it is to deter and prevent such a war. 

Egypt mosque attack: New level of horror in decades-long struggle to control Sinai

The bomb-and-gun attack in Egypt’s north Sinai on Friday November 24 is now known to have killed more than 300 worshippers at a Sufi-affiliated mosque, making it the deadliest attack in modern Egyptian history. Carried out by terrorists claiming links with the so-called Islamic State (IS), the attack exposed just how weak a grip the Egyptian state has in Sinai – and by extension, just how dangerous this piece of pivotal territory is for the rest of the region.Though the scale of Friday’s attack is unprecedented, Sinai has been unmanageable for years, if not decades. Many security experts agree that large parts of it fit the definition of an “ungoverned space”: the monopoly of force that the Egyptian state should exercise there is weak or nonexistent, while government services to citizens are extremely poor. This makes Sinai ideal territory for violent jihadist militant groups.

Providing Access and Growth

Energy has played, and will continue to play, a pivotal role in the economic development of the world’s major emerging economies and other developing countries. Increasingly, these countries will serve as the centers of energy-demand growth and energy investments. As such, the decisions they make about how to develop their energy sectors will be important to not only their own development but also in determining future levels of energy consumption, fuel choices, patterns of trade, and other factors. These countries are influenced not only by their own domestic priorities, policies, and regulations, but also by the international investor and donor communities. Several major shifts are taking place in the energy and development landscapes that warrant increased attention from policymakers, academia, and the private sector.

Interview: Col. Kaupo Rosin, Estonia’s military intelligence chief

By: Aaron Mehta  

WASHINGTON — In September, Russia and Belarus ran the latest version of the biannual Zapad training exercise. While training against an incursion from the fictional nation of Veshnoriya, the exercise was widely viewed as practice against NATO allies, with particular concern from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Among those closely watching Zapad was Col. Kaupo Rosin, Estonia’s chief of military intelligence. During a recent visit to Washington, Rosin sat down with Defense News to discuss lessons learned from Zapad and what Russia may do next.

Libya Is a Failed State (and It's America's Fault)

Ted Galen Carpenter

When the Obama administration led a 2011 NATO military intervention on behalf of rebels seeking to overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, there was considerable optimism that the move would produce a much better country. Although U.S. officials and their media cheerleaders acknowledged that significant challenges remained for a post-Qaddafi Libya, they argued that the outcome could scarcely be worse than the oppressive status quo. Events over the past six years have proven their assumptions spectacularly wrong. Libya is now a cauldron of turmoil and Islamic radicalism.

Why NATO's European Members Can No Longer Expect America to Pick Up the Bill

Valbona Zeneli

For nearly seven decades, NATO has created and strengthened the bonds of the transatlantic relationship, generating a sense of shared identity of the West. It is the essential organization for defense and security for 66 percent of Europeans and 62 percent of Americans. Views of NATO have generally improved over the years. After the fall of communism in Europe, the objectives and priorities of NATO have changed and multiplied in many areas. However, one legacy from the Cold War era still remains, the imbalance in burden sharing among allies.

Is the US behind in cyber-enabled info operations?

By: Mark Pomerleau 

Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Jacquelyn Jose, left and Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Aubrey Diehl, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) set up administrator accounts on a virtual server during a network training course provided by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). Within the broader realm of cyberwarfare, the prospect of data and information war is becoming much more prevalent.

Tech company alliance gives critical infrastructure cybersecurity a boost

By: Michael Peck 

Defense contractor Raytheon and digital communications company MetTel are teaming up to provide cybersecurity for government agencies and private companies. “The companies will provide a range of cybersecurity offerings and support the migration from legacy technologies to ensure cybersecurity is designed into the government’s telecom infrastructure,” said a Raytheon and MetTel news release. “This alliance is well-positioned to support the administration’s IT modernization and cybersecurity priorities, including the emerging security challenges posed by internet-connected devices, including computers, routers and security cameras.”

Venezuela and Russia Teamed Up to Push Pro-Catalan Fake

Here’s a chilling fact: At the height of the Catalan separatist crisis, analysis of more than 5 million messages about Catalonia posted on social networks between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5, shows that only 3 percent come from real profiles outside the Russian and Venezuelan cybernetworks. These are the conclusions of a report prepared by Javier Lesaca, visiting scholar at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.

Net Neutrality and the Transatlantic Relationship in the Digital Age

Amy Studdart

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its plans to revoke net neutrality — a series of policies that require Internet service providers (ISP) to treat all Internet traffic equally. Without those policies, an ISP like­ Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T will be able to charge consumers more for access to certain websites and charge websites for preferred access to consumers; make some sites faster or slower, potentially privileging, for example, their own streaming services over Netflix and YouTube; and block access to some sites altogether. It will also eliminate FCC authority over data privacy. In essence, it will give telecommunications companies the power to control how Americans use the Internet, undermining Washington's claim that its technology policies are geared toward protecting entrepreneurship, defending freedom of speech, and prioritizing consumer choice.

Inside The Wargame: The Challenges Facing Air Force’s MDC2


The Lockheed Martin MDC2 exercise was designed to look at the challenges facing the military as they try to create an “integrated tasking order” similar to a traditional Air Tasking Order. An ATO assigns missions and schedules sorties for every aircraft in a theater, the integrated tasking order would assign tasks to all space and cyber forces as well. Building a weapons system is complex but there can be even more daunting challenges when you’re in the early stages of designing and building a command and control system such as MDC2. Culture, training, language and even nationality can pose challenges as large as — or even bigger than — the technology.



Recently, Dan Helmer, a West Point graduate running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, released a list of eight retired generals and admirals he calls his “National Security Advisory Committee.” At the top is retired Lt. Gen. Dan Christman, who formerly served as superintendent at West Point (akin to a college president) while I was a cadet. I looked up to him then.

Is the U.S. Army on Verge of Creating 'Super Soldiers'?

Kris Osborn

Developed by Lockheed with internal research and development funds, FORTIS is designed to help soldiers run, maneuver, carry injured comrades and perform a wide range of combat tasks while preventing hyperextension of the knee.
Engineers report that FORTIS reduces the amount of energy required to perform a task by nine percent, using on-board AI to learn the gait of an individual soldier. The system integrates an actuator, motor and transmission all into one device, intended to provide 60 Newton Meters of additional torque, Maxwell explained.

Why Leaders Must Fail to Ultimately Succeed

Maj. Timothy Trimailo

Sgt. Gregory Padilla (second from left) gives a status report to 2nd Lt. Randy Jozwiak (left) during a live-fire exercise 20 July 2015 as part of Northern Strike 15 on Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, Michigan. Padilla is a team leader and Jozwiak is a platoon leader assigned to the 1st Battalion, 126th Cavalry Regiment. (Photo by Sgt. Seth LaCount, U.S. Army)

When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail a thousand 

29 November 2017

Use of Technology in Counter Terrorism Operation Part II

I had the privilege of serving in OP - RAKSHAK in Punjab in 1990-1991, OP – RIHNO in Assam during 1991 – 1992 and three tenures in J&K. After my tenure as Chief Signals Officer, Chinar Corps at Srinagar I wrote a paper on Leveraging Technology In Counter Insurgency Operations which was published at in The PINNACLE, The ARTRAC Journal in its Jun 2008 issue. The same in available at :https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7lCgXHBh1PaTlQ3VVZYbFRWbXM/edit?usp=sharing

After 10 years, on 26/11 I thought of revisiting the topic.

Here is my take on Use of Technology in Counter Terrorism Operations.
                                                                                                                   - PKM

Use of Technology in Counter Terrorism Operations
                                                                - Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Cyber Warfare

Dealing with terrorist groups, many experts fear their hacking capabilities, part of the security community considers the ISIS a serious menace to the security of Western critical infrastructure.

The availability of tool and exploits in the criminal underground makes it easy for terrorists to hit computer networks and infrastructure worldwide. The IS has the offensive capabilities to hit its adversaries; this is the opinion of many cyber security experts, including the popular Mikko Hypponen.

“The Islamic State is the first extremist group that has a credible offensive cyber capability,” said F-Secure Chief Research Officer Hyppönen, speaking last week at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. “Clearly, this situation isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse.”

A terrorist could attack a critical infrastructure to sabotage, or computer systems to steal sensitive data to use in other attacks.

The use of cyber weapons is a novelty in the terrorism landscape; it is a concrete risk with some advantages including

· The pre-attack phase is stealth, the organization of a cyber attack present low risks respect conventional terrorist attacks.

· The use of a zero-day vulnerability provides a real advantage to the attackers that minimize the risks of failure of operations and maximize the efficiency of the cyber weapon. Zero-day exploits could be acquired in the criminal underground and could be used in targeted attacks.

· The costs of a cyber weapon are very cheap compared to the one related a conventional weapon (explosive, weapons, vehicles for the commandos, etc.).

· The choice of cyber weapon allows the terrorists to remain under the radar until the attacks.

· Cyber weapon could have similar effects of a terrorist attack.

What are the objectives of cyber weapons?

The list is very long and includes almost every strategic infrastructure of a country such as Industrial control systems, communications networks, and defense systems. Despite groups of terrorists haven’t the time and the knowledge necessary for the design of a new cyber weapon, there is the concrete risk that threat actors in the wild can conduct a reverse engineering of the code of other nation-state malware circulating over the Internet. The ISIS is trying to recruit hackers and experts to involve them in the hacking campaigns.

Social Media 

Social media is not the cause of violent extremism, but a powerful amplifier and accelerant. Digital platforms and increased access to smart phones and internet connectivity help facilitate radicalization and recruitment. Violent extremists’ exploitation of digital platforms allows would-be terrorists to seek inspiration and information online—and rally around a terrorist group as a brand, an idea, or a methodology—without ever leaving their homes. The widespread use of social media has also made violent extremists’ plans more difficult to disrupt. Security agencies have to track a much larger number of potential plotters, giving terrorists more space to plan large, complex operations against a higher background level of activity.

A special report by the US Department of Homeland Security listed various terrorist uses of Facebook: 

• As a way to share operational and tactical information, such as bomb recipes, weapon maintenance and use, tactical shooting, etc.

• As a gateway to extremist sites and other online radical content by linking on Facebook group pages and in discussion forums. 

• As a media outlet for terrorist propaganda and extremist ideological messaging. 

• As a wealth of information for remote reconnaissance for targeting purposes

The technology firms have faced increasing pressure from governments across the globe to stop the spread of extremist propaganda. Last year, White House officials met with Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft to discuss the subject. The British prime minister, Theresa May, has recently renewed her campaign against the technology companies with a crackdown meant to punish platforms that fail to take sufficient action against terrorist propaganda. At a recent bilateral meeting in Paris, May and French president Emmanuel Macron said they would explore new legal liabilities for tech companies that don’t remove inflammatory content, including possible fines.

While governments have urged companies like Facebook to do more, the social network has also faced backlash for ethically questionable censorship of non-terrorist content under the guise of countering propaganda. 

The tech firms have long struggled to balance their missions of supporting free speech with the need to remove and prevent the spread of terrorist content. The companies have faced intense scrutiny over the way terrorist groups have used the site for recruitment and for spreading hateful and violent messages. On Jun 25, 2017 Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube and Twitter collectively announced a new partnership aimed at reducing the accessibility of internet services to terrorists. The new Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism adds structure to existing efforts by the companies to target and remove from major web platforms recruiting materials for terror groups. Together, the four tech leaders say they will collaborate on engineering solutions to the problem, sharing content classification techniques and effective reporting methods for users. Each company also will contribute to both technical and policy research and share best practices for counterspeech initiatives.

As part of the new forum, the companies said they would share best practices regarding content detection and classification techniques using machine learning” and “define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals”. Back in December of 2016, the same four companies announced the creation of a shared industry hash database. By sharing hashes with each other, the group was able to collectively identify terror accounts without each having to do the time- and resource-intensive legwork independently. This new organization creates more formal bureaucracy for improving that database. Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube and Twitter will be teaching smaller companies and organizations to follow in their footsteps to adopt their own proactive plans for combating terror. A portion of this training will cover key strategies for executing counterspeech programs like YouTube’s Creators for Change and Facebook’s P2P and OCCI.

Privacy vs Security. Law enforcement and security agencies have claimed that encrypted platforms built for commercial purposes to safeguard privacy—where only the sender and receiver hold the keys and devices to decipher the message—are a gift to terrorists and criminals to help them communicate in a way that puts them beyond the law’s reach. In January an ISIL follower provided would-be fighters with a list of what he determined were the safest encrypted communications systems. Soon after the list was published, ISIL started moving official communications from Twitter to Telegram.

Both in the US and in the UK there has been a push for technology companies to either ban encryption on the grounds that we’re paying too high a price in terms of security, or at the very least request that companies like Apple, Google and Facebook build ‘backdoors’ that allow law enforcement access into their encrypted tools.

Tech companies have resisted any push to hand over to law-enforcement the keys to their customers’ encrypted data. Privacy advocates have, post-Snowden, defended the technologies as a protection against government snooping. But tech companies, are arguing that there are real risks of going along with government requests to access encrypted messages. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, recently warned that ‘any back door is a back door for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a back door can have very dire consequences.’

When it comes to privacy and security, we need to find the right balance in not allowing new encryption technologies to obstruct our counterterrorism efforts. We need secure encrypted systems for commerce, government and the protection of personal information (our digital identity). Banks and telcos are using those products to safeguard our data. Deliberately weakening encryption solutions would arguably weaken key infrastructure, with the ultimate beneficiaries being criminals, cyber activists and rival nation states. A cooperative solution with our police and security agencies working with relevant companies to identify the problems would be better than trying to introduce laws to restrict encryption. Indeed, there’s no guarantee that by banning the use of encryption solutions, as recently proposed in the UK by David Cameron, can be effective. Users and companies might migrate to other countries, solutions, products or servers.

Latest Technologies in Counter Terrorism Operations 

Big data plays a vital role in the war on terror. In order to fight the enemy, it is critical to get an in depth understanding of that enemy, how they operate, what technology they use. Nothing gives us better insights than big data. The data can be used to get an understanding of backgrounds, motives, modus operandi, methods of communication. Once these elements are understood, the information can be leveraged to learn about terrorist networks; who finances them, who supplies them, who supports them and who are the informants. Big data can also be used to establish patterns and make predictions on which population groups or what type of person would be most likely to join a terrorist organisation.

In a project, big data was used to scrutinise and analyse social media such as Facebook and Twitter in order to locate the origins of supporters of terrorist organisation ISIS. Over a period of three months, researchers monitored and analysed three million tweets. They managed to pinpoint important characteristics and patterns among tweets that showed support for ISIS and terrorism, as well as those who opposed it. Using these findings, the researchers created algorithms that were able to group users as pro- or anti-ISIS with an accuracy of nearly 90 percent. It is clear to see the value of being able to identify which people would be most likely to join ISIS as this could help limit the proliferation of extremist groups.

Surveillance data from drones gathered in areas where suspicious activity is taking place can also provide valuable information, especially when this real-time information is combined with other data sources. Information like this can help establish connections between people and events and identify the location of terrorists and even make predictions of the where they may move to in the future. 

Toy-sized battle robots with grenades and assault rifles. At the World Robot Conference in Beijing, China recently unveiled toy-sized battle robots with grenades and assault rifles. These robots have been designed in three versions: an attacker robot – armed with grenade launchers and rifles that minimise recoil – a reconnaissance robot capable of detecting hazardous gases, and a bomb disposal robot. The reconnaissance robot is apparently designed to be able to fit into a soldier’s backpack. Another robot used in the war against terrorism is the PackBot – a machine that locates and diffuses bombs. The PackBot will eventually carry out complex tasks without any human interference and will be very effective in detecting terrorists and explosives. PackBot can gather information from devices such as streetlights, bus shelters and sensors and combine it with its own data to make decisions. Various countries are developing autonomous robots that are able to eliminate terrorists and free hostages. These bots will be outfitted with biometric recognition technology and connect with sources that supply image data and location information to help identify potential terrorists.

Dfuze and Predictify Me – predicting the unpredictable. The use of prediction software in the fight against terrorism is also referred to as ‘predictive policing’. This form of counterterrorism has been on the increase and the ISS (Intelligent Software Solutions) behavioural analysis tool Dfuze is already used in over forty countries. Dfuze was used at the 2012 Olympics in London to pinpoint high risk areas to enable police forces to increase security presence. The software was also used to investigate the Boston bombings in 2013. The Dfuze system is a database which holds information on all terrorist attacks that have ever taken place. Governments can access this data to analyse previous attacks and share information, leading to more efficient methods of communication between nations. With the Dfuze system, specialists are able to establish and analyse trends and patterns, future attack hotspots, the types of explosives, modus operandi and help them predict, prepare for or even prevent any future terrorist attacks. In the past, this type of work was done by analysts trawling through mountains of information, initially in paper files and later on computers.

Another predictive solution, launched in 2014, is Predictify Me. The technology is simple to deploy, can help predict an impending terrorist attack and secure areas against it. Predictify Me uses 200 indicators, such as public holidays, the weather, attacks in nearby countries, sports or other events and even video releases on social media to predict whether and when a terrorist attack is likely to happen. Predictify Me have indicated that it is able to predict an attack within three days with an accuracy of over 70 percent.

With the Internet of Things, every device has an IP address. With more and more devices connecting to not only the Internet but also to each other, the Internet of Things enables increased convenience, efficiency and energy conservation. With internet connectivity moving away from the traditional laptops, tablets and smartphones and migrating toward wearables and household devices such as fridges and washing machines, the IoT can also easily be used for monitoring, location tracking, identification, surveillance and gaining access to networks. Every device will have an IP address and security experts have indicated that surveillance services will able to intercept signals of networked devices in much the same way as they intercept cell phone signals. Information from speeches, satellites, videos and news is all collected and used to monitor and analyse activities, enabling intelligence services to close in on terrorists.

New colour-changing sensors can detect multiple explosives within seconds. In December 2015, scientists developed a new colour-changing sensor that is able to identify and quantify multiple explosives such as DNT, PETN, tetryl, RDX and TNT within ten seconds. The fluorescent sensor gives out information about the type of explosive and how much of it is present in a sample. PETN and RDX for example, have been used in terror plots because they are hard to detect by sniffer dogs. The colour-changing sensor is made from light-emitting nanomaterials or ‘quantum dots’ to which receptors that target the explosive are attached. Each explosive that binds to the quantum dot emits a different colour. These are then analysed in order to generate a unique ‘fingerprint’ for each compound. This makes it possible to detect multiple explosives with one single test.

Way of the Future

Could the internet eventually be used to cause physical attacks? So far, jihadists and others practicing "cyberterrorism" have mainly cracked the passwords for online accounts to collect information for target lists. These efforts have caused a great deal of fear, but not damage or death.But this is something that's coming. The United States and Israel reportedly caused actual damage to the Iranian nuclear program through malware such as Stuxnet. Russia has conducted cyberattacks against physical targets such as the Ukrainian power grid. With Stuxnet being reverse engineered by hackers, and other National Security Agency hacker tools made available through groups like Wikileaks, it won't be long before jihadist or other terrorist hackers are able to cause real world damage by simply accessing the internet.

Other technological tools that can be used for pre-operational surveillance, propaganda purposes and attacks have become prominent as well. For jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, it's small commercially available drones. Much has been made of the threat of using drones to launch attacks, but to date, drone strikes by the Islamic State have used altered conventional munitions such as 40mm grenades or military-grade explosives placed in locally manufactured munitions. Hezbollah likewise has used drones in attacks, but they similarly have relied on military ordnance provided by Iran. Consequently, even if militants elsewhere attempt to use drones, it will be difficult for militants to reproduce these attacks outside of active war zones. They simply don't have the weaponry. Such drone strikes in domestic settings will remain limited in their capability for now.

As technology advances, terrorists and counterterrorism forces will continue to use it to their advantage. It just depends on who picks it up from the table first.

Challenges Ahead

Research and Development Trends. Most of the cutting-edge research in related areas, particularly with regard to information technology and biotechnology, is in the private sector where development pro­grams are largely driven by potential markets and the profits to be made in the security sector seem to pale in comparison with other commercial opportunities. This challenge can be addressed by mak­ing the counterterrorism community a more attrac­tive customer for the private sector. A significant next step would be initiating a serious dialogue to determine what a future inter­national counterterrorism security technology development regime might look like. 

Barriers to Innovation. Even if private research and development can be better teamed with gov­ernment efforts and focused on the terrorism chal­lenges of the 21st century, the traditional barriers to innovation in law enforcement technologies will remain. These challenges include four areas.

Cost. The expense of new technologies includes both the cost of procuring a technol­ogy and the opportunity cost of adopting that technology as compared to other uses to which resources might be put.

Technology Risk. This includes the ever-present risk that "big bets" will fail. The tech­nology may not perform as expected or ade­quately address the tasks for which it was adopted.

Human Factors. New counterterrorism tech­nologies can face a plethora of obstacles that have nothing to do with fiscal costs or technical specifications. For example, data mining and biometrics have raised an array of concerns about the protection of civil liberties and safe­guarding of proprietary commercial informa­tion. Non-lethal weapons face legal barriers. 

Unanticipated Costs. Any new technology will bring unintended consequences. The introduction of nanotechnologies, for example, has raised concerns about the potential conse­quences of unintentionally introducing new compounds into the environment. New tech­nologies can also bring unexpected liabilities and adverse public reactions.


The terrorists are proving more and more adept at using sophisticated technology. The terrorist threat against the free world is seri­ous and enduring. We need to stay one step ahead and keep developing new, improved technology. We need to jointly develop the means and the technologies needed to meet this threat. The obstacles to creating an arsenal of counter-terrorism technologies that are practical and afford­able and overmatch the threat of 21st century ter­rorism are daunting. Creating a vision of these future technologies, implementing initiatives that broaden the market and make it more predictable and dependable, and developing policies that will help to overcome the barriers to innovation are essential steps to harnessing technology to the future needs of law enforcement.

The Caliphate Is Destroyed, But the Islamic State Lives On

Source Link

The fall of the town of Abu Kamal in Syria and recent victories by Iraqi security forces in Qaim and Rawa in Iraq mark the collapse of the Islamic State caliphate. With the loss of these towns located along the Iraq-Syria border, the terrorist group no longer controls any major population center in either country. This represents quite a reversal for the Islamic State from its heady days of only three years ago, when it controlled vast swaths of territory, routinely extorted taxes from local businesses, exploited the region’s natural resources (especially oil), and governed a large percentage of the population of both countries. Those days are thankfully done — at least for now — and that’s a development worth celebrating.

Hafiz Saeed is a metaphor for Pakistan dysfunctionality

by T.C.A. Raghavan
Source Link

Individuals and particular situations often dramatically illustrate processes in the India Pakistan terrain. The cases of Dawood Ibrahim and Masood Azhar chronicle the troubled 1990s and the early years of this century. Since the Mumbai attack of 2008 Hafiz Saeed has become a metaphor for all the lows in India-Pakistan relations. His release from preventive custody just two days before the ninth anniversary of those fateful days of November 2008 symbolizes the structural limits within which the India- Pakistan interface operates.

Afghanistan’s opium production is through the roof—why Washington shouldn’t overreact

Vanda Felbab-Brown
In 2017, opium cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record high, with multifaceted impacts on the country. Yet Afghan heroin is not fueling the deadly U.S. opiate epidemic to any significant degree. And there is very little the United States or other countries can do about the opiate production in Afghanistan. Given the precarious security situation there and the intensification of violent conflict, most policy tools are either ineffective or highly counterproductive. Solutions to the global problem of drug addiction lie within consumer countries themselves.

Tehran Is Winning the War for Control of the Middle East

Source Link

Saudi Arabia appears to be on a warpath across the Middle East. The Saudi-orchestrated resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Saudi officials’ bellicose rhetoric after the launch of a ballistic missile targeting Riyadh from Yemen, appear to herald a new period of assertiveness against Iranian interests across the Middle East.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s sudden moves on a variety of fronts may superficially have the feel of Michael Corleone’s swift and simultaneous strikes at his family’s enemies in the closing frames of The Godfather. Unlike in the film, however, the credits are not about to roll. Rather, these are the opening moves in an ongoing contest — and it is far from clear that the 32-year-old crown prince has found a formula to reverse Iran’s advantage.

China: Enlisting Cities in the Fight for Reform

By Matthew Massee

Two cities in China’s Inner Mongolia region recently canceled planned mass-transit rail lines, and several other cities are struggling to get approval for projects of their own. These cancellations and delays mark the latest step in Beijing’s efforts to rein in local government debt. But Beijing will face problems implementing these measures because the interests of the central government are often misaligned with those of local governments. 

Towards China’s A2/AD 2.0

By Malcolm Davis

China’s military modernisation remains a key concern for the U.S. and its allies. Crucial in that regard has been China’s development of forces geared towards preventing uncontested access to its air and maritime approaches by potential adversaries. Such ‘anti-access and area denial’ (A2/AD) capabilities are designed either to prevent an adversary’s access to a particular region (anti-access) or to contest its freedom of movement within that theatre (area denial).

The End of the End of History

Will Hutton

This was a case in point. Chancellor Merkel’s attempts to build a coalition government fell apart. Eurosceptic liberals and green ultras could not agree a programme for government with her Christian Democrats. The British right gloated at the prospect: this was the moment to exact better terms in the Brexit negotiations from a mortally wounded Germany now suddenly brought to earth. It was thinking far removed from any reality. Germany is neither politically nor economically mortally wounded. Yes, there is a major political crisis following a hung election, but Germany will find a way through, rather more satisfactorily than stuffing a tiny minority party with a billion-pound bribe, as the Tories did with the Democratic Unionists. Its political system requires its principal parties to keep on talking to each other if none can command an overall parliamentary majority; they have their ideologies, but tempered by the necessity of dialogue to form a potential programme for government. A resolution will be found, or another election called, with the electorate more keenly aware of the choices they are making. It is democracy by grownups.

The China Challenge Calls for US Leadership

By Brian Carlson for Center for Security Studies (CSS)
According to Brian Carlson, Chinese President Xi Jinping has not only strengthened his domestic authority, he also appears to be discarding Deng Xiaoping’s foreign policy of restraint. At the same time, US President Trump’s policies have weakened the US’ ability to respond to China’s rise. So, does the US still have the upper hand over China? Yes, says Carlson. However, to preserve its global leadership role and its position in Asia, Washington must put its own house in order and adopt a clear strategy towards Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has strengthened his domestic authority and offered an expansive vision for his country’s global role. To address the rise of China, the United States must think beyond “America first”. 

EU and China find common ground in Naypyidaw


While a coherent US foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region is yet to take shape, the European Union and China found common ground on three key issues at the 13th Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which concluded in Naypyidaw on Tuesday. Reiterating that multilateralism, peaceful resolution of conflicts and diplomacy are the cornerstones of their foreign conduct, the European bloc and the Asian giant focused their attention on Myanmar, North Korea and Iran. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met ahead of the meeting’s plenary session, with the Rohingya crisis topping their agenda. More than 600,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh since last August, when the local military launched a counterinsurgency operation against the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.



“The overseas troops will engage in regular military exercises just like troops serving [in China]. But their practice should soon have a different focus, rather than basic shooting training, because their mission in Djibouti is to protect China’s interests in Africa, as well as peacekeeping,” Zhou said. China’s overseas military expansion was the focus of a July Pentagon report, which said that Beijing may soon seek to establish a network of similar facilities around the world.

Saudis Set to Launch Counterterror Coalition Commanded by Ex-Pakistan General Sharif

Ayaz Gul

A Saudi-led Muslim military coalition, commanded by a celebrated former Pakistan army chief, will be officially launched on Sunday when Riyadh hosts defense ministers of the participating nations at its inaugural meeting. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia, will open the meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition or IMCTC, said an official statement issued on the eve of the event.

Saudi prince vows new Islamic alliance 'will wipe out terrorists from earth'

Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince vowed to "pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth" as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance. "In past years, terrorism has been functioning in all of our countries ... with no coordination" among national authorities, Prince Mohammed bin Salman+ , who is also the Saudi defence minister, said in his keynote speech at the gathering in Riyadh.

Recognize the Real Possibility of Conflict in North Korea

By François Godement

In a hurricane, there is a peaceful lull when the eye of the storm arrives, but it is just an illusion. This is where we are with North Korea. We think we have been seen the worst: Pyongyang tested an H-bomb and launched missiles over Japan; America has flown its bombers off North Korea’s coast; and both sides have traded insults and threats. Now the eye of the storm has arrived. We hear that American and North Korean diplomats are in contact, and Trump is talking up China’s positive but unspecified role. 

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Why Democrats Must Regain the Trust of Religious Voters


Democrats ignored broad swaths of religious America in the 2016 election campaign and the nation has suffered because of it. Yet calls for a recommitment to faith outreach—particularly to white and other conservative or moderate religious voters—have been met in some corners of liberal punditry with a response as common as it is unwarranted. Some quarters of the Democratic party would rather maintain rhetorical and ideological purity than win with a more inclusive coalition. For the sake of the country, the party must turn back to people of faith.

Is the U.S. serious about countering Russia’s information war on democracies?

Thomas M. Hill

Long before the 2016 presidential elections in the United States, Russia was engaged in an effort to subvert European democracies through the tactical deployment of “weaponized information.” A seminal 2014 report by Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss (published by the New York-based Institute of Modern Russia) accurately described how the Kremlin sought “not to convince or persuade, but to keep the viewer hooked and distracted, passive and paranoid, rather than agitated to action.” By exploiting existing societal fissures—race, class, ethnicity, immigration status, etc.—the Kremlin has successfully created political instability in Germany, Estonia, France, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere.


By Christian Davenport 

Largely a preoccupation of hobbyists and experimenting companies, the vehicles are beginning to become a menace on the battlefield, where their benign commercial capabilities have been transformed into lethal weapons and intelligence tools. Instead of delivering packages, some have been configured to drop explosives. Instead of inspecting telecommunications towers, others train their cameras to monitor troops and pick targets. Instead of spraying crops, they could spread toxic gas, commanders worry. Military strategists envision the day when they will be deployed in robot armies capable of swarming defenses in kamikaze raids.