6 January 2017

*** Reclaiming India’s leverage on Tibet

Brahma Chellaney

Central governments come and go in New Delhi but India’s instinctive chariness and reserve on the issue of Tibet still persist, despite an increasingly muscular China upping the ante against it. Tibet’s annexation has affected Indian security like no other development, giving China, for the first time under Han rule, a contiguous border with India, Bhutan and Nepal and facilitating a Sino-Pakistan strategic axis through a common land corridor.

Even as then-independent Tibet’s forcible absorption began just months after the 1949 Communist victory in China, India—despite its British-inherited extra-territorial rights in Tibet—watched silently, even opposing a discussion in the UN general assembly on the aggression. Since then, India has stayed mum on increasing Chinese repression in Tibet. But now, it is allowing itself to come under Chinese pressure on the Dalai Lama’s activities and movements within India.

Consider the recent development when the Dalai Lama attended a public event at Rashtrapati Bhavan and met President Pranab Mukherjee. The government did the right thing by permitting the Dalai Lama to participate in the event, especially since it was organized for children’s welfare by Nobel laureates, a group that includes the Dalai Lama himself.

*** The Internet and the Tragedy of the Commons

By George Friedman

The expectation of anonymity online has become extreme.

The tragedy of the commons is a concept developed by a British economist in the early 19th century and refreshed by ecologist Garrett Hardin in 1968. They were addressing different issues arising out of the commons, an area that is owned by no one but used by everyone. The commons could be a green space at the center of a town, public land used for agriculture or the atmosphere. The tragedy of the commons is that while many benefit from it, no one is responsible for it. Each person’s indifference has little effect. Everyone’s collective indifference will destroy the commons. The tragedy of the commons is that it is vital, vulnerable and destroyed by the very people who need it.

The internet has become the global commons. This has happened with lightning speed. In this case, the commons is not just one place. It is a collection of places where people meet, discuss the latest news and gossip, play games and perhaps do a little business. The internet, with its complex web of connections and modes of communication, from email to Twitter to Instagram, has had a profound effect on society. There used to be private life and the village green, where public life was lived. There is now private life and the lives we live online. We have lost intimacy but have gained access to a vast world.

*** A Presidential Strategy Board: Enabling Strategic Competence – Analysis

By Frank G. Hoffman

(FPRI) — The National Security Council (NSC) staff was once called the Keepers of the Keys, managers of the coordinating process that is central to an administration’s ability to plan and conduct a successful grand strategy.[1] The NSC has had an evolving role, as has its staff.[2] The NSC evolves to the strategic context that any administration faces, and it must also reflect the information processing and decision-making style of the president. The inbound Trump administration will soon face the challenge of integrating America’s diplomatic, military, and economic tools and applying them globally and coherently.

Many have offered advice on how to properly focus NSC staff as well as the “right size” of the group. NSC structures and processes are designed to fulfill the needs of the president and should support his policy and decision-making requirements. These may vary from president to president to fit information processing and decision-making styles as well as the character of an administration’s foreign policy. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the president-elect’s National Security Advisor, will manage the evolution of the NSC team to best support Mr. Trump and establish processes and coordinating mechanisms to tee up presidential decisions and implement the foreign policy initiatives of our 45thPresident.

** What’s driving China’s race to build a space station?

The advantages of developing space capabilities are manifold. Satellites facilitate military and civilian communications. Human spaceflight garners international prestige, while also providing opportunities for cutting-edge research. Experiments conducted in space have resulted in numerous breakthroughs that have been used to address medical, environmental, and technological challenges back on Earth.

China seeks to enhance its capacity for scientific and technological innovation by building a large modular space station. Chinese leaders also hope that research conducted on the Chinese Space Station (CSS) will support their long-term goals for space exploration, including missions to the Moon and Mars. This page offers insight into the development of the CSS, compares China’s space station with those of other countries, and explores how China may use manned space missions to bolster domestic innovation.


More than 60 countries have space programs that engage in activities ranging from the development of dual-use satellites to lunar exploration. Only three of these states have independently sent humans into space. The former Soviet Union and the United States achieved human spaceflight in 1961 against the backdrop of the Cold War space race. Four decades later, China joined this elite group with the 2003 launch of Lt. Col. Yang Liwei into Earth’s orbit on the Shenzhou-5 (“Divine Ship-5”). Yang orbited the Earth 14 times over a period of 21.5 hours.

An opportunity for the chief

by Arun Sahni

With government support, General Bipin Rawat can address critical issues facing the Indian army.

General Bipin Rawat assumed charge as the Chief of Army Staff on January 1, 2017. His appointment, though shrouded in controversy, indicates that he enjoys the support and goodwill of the government. In addition, the image of the Indian army is at an all-time high, after it successfully executed surgical strikes on terrorist camps across the Line of Control, in retaliation to the ongoing belligerent action by Pakistan, waging a proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir.

This restored the dwindling faith of the people that the Indian army was and is resilient enough to meet the aspirations of a resurgent nation. This gives the new incumbent a running start and an unparalleled platform of political support to address the critical challenges faced by the Indian army. This can be ably supplemented by cerebral, soldierly and communication skills which, I am aware, are in abundance with General Rawat.

The first and foremost challenge is to restore the intrinsic strength of unity in the Indian army and to reignite the fervour of oneness in the “rank and file”. It requires a two-pronged initiative. Internally, the existing policies/parameters of the military secretary needs urgent review, which, in the cloak of quantification, is obstructing the primacy of merit. Major policy changes initiated in the recent past, at times without adequate debate and at times, without the consensus of the Collegiate of the Army Commanders, has precipitated a feeling of casteism in the organisation. As if there are two distinct groups of “haves and have nots” in the army. This, in some cases, may be true or misplaced but is being exacerbated by social media.


Shreya Kedia

Had seniority been the only criterion, what was the need for a list of Generals to be prepared?

With General Bipin Rawat taking over as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), one hopes that the criticism over his appointment will come to an end. It does not merit anyone to continue questioning the appointment of a senior personnel in the Armed Forces. 

The decision of the Government to break away from the seniority chain, to make the appointment of COAS on the basis of present-day requirements, besides merit, sparked a controversy, with the Opposition, especially the Congress, and also some Army purists, making a hue and cry not only about the supersession of the two Generals whom then Lieutenant General Rawat went over, but also making a fuss about the implications this appointment would have on the strategic management of the Armed Forces. Some even attributed the appointment to the General’s ‘proximity’ to the Centre for his current posting or the continuation of the Infantry’s grip over top positions in the Army.

On fails to understand what the problem really was. Critics said that the Modi Government appointed Gen Rawat through supersession. Yes, that’s true and the Government has already accepted it. They added that Gen Rawat superseded two senior officers — Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Lt Gen PM Hariz. This too is true. The Government accepted it. Critics said that the two senior officers who were superseded had merit and impeccable credentials. The Government has acknowledged this too. What is the fuss about, then?


In 1983, Lt Gen SK Sinha, who was an outstanding senior officer, was to be appointed as the Army chief to succeed General KV Krishna. However, the then Indira Gandhi Government appointed General AS Vaidya, who was junior to Lt Gen Sinha. The reason given by the Government was that it did not want an officer of Sinha's cadre to be the chief of Army as he lacked active service in operations. However, many believed that the Government was discomforted with Lt Gen Sinha as he had the courage to stand up for soldiers' rights. Eventually, he quit.

In 1991, there was a considerable hand-holding from a newly-installed Narasimha Rao Government for the appointment of Air Chief Marshal Nirmal Chandra Suri. Air Marshal Suri, (number two in the hierarchy) was retiring on the same day as his boss, Air Chief Marshal, SK Mehra. But the latter obliged by demitting office in the forenoon on July 31, 1991. The resultant was that Suri became the Air Force chief, superseding Air Marshal PK De. Thereafter, Suri picked up an additional two years of service which a service chief is entitled to.

More recently, in April 2014, the UPA Government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed Admiral Robin Dhowan as the Navy chief, instead of Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha. The Government came up with a bizarre logic for his supersession: It claimed that under Admiral Sinha as the Flag Officer of Western Command, there had been many accidents, for which he was to be blamed. Admiral Dhowan was six months junior to Vice Admiral Sinha. After facing humiliation, Vice Admiral Sinha opted for voluntary retirement and also suffered a heart attack.

How India's National Green Tribunal Upheld Environmental Protections in 2016

By Padmapriya Govindarajan

The year 2016 was a tumultuous one in terms of the environment across the world and India was no exception to this rule, having spent the final month of the year tackling a devastating cyclone in the country’s south and unbearable pollution levels in the national capital New Delhi up north. In this context, while going green is increasingly an important prerogative for Indian leaders, it is important to understand the role of India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) and its work in 2016.

Under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, the NGT was set up with the specific mandate of handling environmental disputes, particularly multi-stakeholder scenarios. In 2016, it passed impactful verdicts on issues including control of pollution, forest clearance, and wildlife conservation.

In terms of pollution control, when the air quality in Delhi began to deteriorate in early November, culminating in what ultimately was termed an environmental emergency, the NGT’s role was critical in the efforts to restore normalcy. The NGT supported the phased deregistration of 15-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi, placed strict rules on incineration plants, constituted a committee to inspect gas stations, and even pioneered a ban on disposable plastics, in effect from January 2017. It also set an important precedent by banning construction activity in the peak stages of this emergency and stood clearly on the stance that economic setbacks cannot be a reason to ignore wide-ranging environmental problems.

After Building a Media Empire, What’s Next? Lifting One Million From Poverty


NATE, India — Ronnie Screwvala sat cross-legged early last month on the floor of a three-room schoolhouse here in Nate, a village about 100 miles from Mumbai, the city of his birth where he built a billion-dollar media conglomerate. Watching a group of children playing with colorful educational games, Mr. Screwvala, a boyish-looking 54-year-old, appeared as wide-eyed and engaged as the students.

A few minutes later he addressed about 30 teenagers from the Cathedral and John Connon School, a prestigious Mumbai private school that is his alma mater. The students were visiting the school in Nate to witness the work of the Swades Foundation, the nonprofit group that Mr. Screwvala and his wife, Zarina, founded with a large chunk of the money they received from the 2012 sale of his business, the UTV Group, to the Walt Disney Company. The transaction was valued at $1.4 billion.

The foundation’s mission seems virtually impossible. It aims to lift one million villagers in Maharashtra State out of poverty within six years, and then help them build better lives.

The foundation currently concentrates on a cluster of about 2,000 villages in the state’s Raigad District, a total of 110,000 households and more than half a million people. It offers school-based educational support and teaching tools, health and nutrition programs, water and sanitation projects and agricultural and job training.

Pakistan’s Trial Balloon: Is CPEC Offer Trap For India? – Analysis

By Namrata Hasija

The December 20 statement of Lt Gen Aamir Riaz, Commander of Pakistan Army’s Southern Command, at an award distribution ceremony at the Baluchistan Frontier Corps (FC) headquarters in Quetta, advising India to “join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project instead of employing subversive activities against Pakistan” created some ripples in the region.

After this statement, a number of articles appeared both in the English and Chinese medium newspapers in China supporting the offer and asking India to give an answer to Pakistan’s offer.

An article in the Chinese version of Global Times was of the view that “New Delhi should consider accepting the olive branch Pakistan has extended in a bid to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Such an opportunity could be transient. There is a possibility that the open attitude towards India joining the CPEC will quickly be overwhelmed by opposition voices from Pakistan if New Delhi does not respond in a timely manner to the general’s overture”.

China further added that it had no intention of using the CPEC as strategic leverage to intervene in the dispute between Pakistan and India. On the contrary, China is likely to adopt an open attitude towards India joining the CPEC and would be happy to see more friendly interactions between the two South Asian neighbors.

Pakistan Commissions 2 New 600-Ton Maritime Patrol Vessels

By Fradynz-Stefan Ga

Pakistan has commissioned two new Maritime Patrol Vessels into service with the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), IHS’s Jane’s Navy International reported on December 29. The ships, christened PMSS Hingol and PMSS Basol (pennant numbers 1070 and 1071 respectively), were commissioned on 11 December 2016 in Guangzhou, China.

The two new ships are the result of an agreement reached by China Shipbuilding Trading Company (CSTC) and Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) in 2016 for the construction of six new vessels for the PMSA with the former constructing four vessels and the latter two. According to the agreement, four vessels will be of the 600-ton variant, whereas two vessels will displace 1,500 tons. (China and Pakistan will construct one 1,500-ton Maritime Patrol Vessel each.)

Initially, all six new PMSA ships were supposed to be assembled in Karachi. However, KSEW lost the construction bid due its purported inability to keep production costs lower than CSTC. China and Pakistan signed a transfer-of-technology agreement for the construction of the six vessels in June 2015.

The Rise of Taliban Diplomacy

By Ahmad Bilal Khalil

How are the Taliban and Kabul faring in their diplomatic tug-of-war over Afghanistan’s neighbors? 

Since the formation of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG), the regional competition between the Taliban and the NUG has peaked. The Taliban has widened its diplomatic relations with Russia, China, Iran, and some Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries as well as international organizations to counter the influence of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s regional anti-terror proposal.

There are several apparent motives behind the Taliban’s outreach: to decrease misperceptions and concerns about the Taliban and strive to change international opinion, which is currently stacked against them; to get supports for the Taliban’s war against U.S. “occupation”; to negotiate prisoner swaps; and to discuss the Afghan peace process.

Keeping China’s Aircraft Carriers in Perspective

By Eric Gomez

China’s investment in aircraft carriers will take a great deal of time and money to reach its full potential. 

The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, recently completed its first live-fire exercises before sailing from the Bohai Sea to Hainan Island. Additionally, its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is under construction at Dalian shipyard and should be completed in the first half of 2017. In 2015, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reported that a third aircraft carrier is being built in Shanghai. These ships will add a new capability to the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), but the threat they pose should be kept in perspective. China’s aircraft carriers will affect the balance of power in East Asia, but local states have ways to mitigate the impact and maintain deterrence.

China’s rapid carrier buildup represents a major change in its naval acquisition policy. In a 2015 Washington Quarterly article, Yu-Ming Liou, Paul Musgrave, and J. Furman Daniel III point out:

5 Upheavals To Expect Along The New Silk Road In 2017

Wade Shepard

The New Silk Road is a multifaceted, multinational initiative to establish a network of enhanced overland and maritime economic corridors extending between China and Europe, better integrating a region that consists of over 60 countries and 60% of the population, 75% of the energy resources, and 70% of GDP in the world. It's potentially an earth-shaking, paradigm-breaking disruption that would more fluidly connect the economic giants of China, Russia, Iran, India, and Europe into a loosely affiliated geo-economic bloc that could shift the balance of global power.

While this broad endeavor first began informally in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was taken to a new height in 2013 when China announced its Belt and Road initiative (BRI or OBOR). This move towards formalizing and taking ownership of the pre-existing Silk Road project -- along with promises of trillions of dollars in funding -- led to a boom of activity along the entire network, as countries like Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, and Poland began delving into large-scale infrastructure development.

China's Air Force: Just a Paper Tiger (Or Ready for War with America)?

Kris Osborn

China Unveiled its New 5th-Generation J-31 Stealth Fighter in November of 2014.

Tensions in the South China Sea and continued warnings about Chinese militarization of the disputed areas has led many Pentagon planners and analysts to sharpen focus on Chinese Air Force acquisitions and technological advances. 

The U.S. Air Force’s technological air power superiority over China is rapidly diminishing in light of rapid Chinese modernization of fighter jets, missiles, air-to-air weapons, cargo planes and stealth aircraft, according to analysts, Pentagon officials and a Congressional review released several years ago. 

The 2014 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended that Congress appoint an outside panel of experts to assess the U.S.-Chinese military balance and make recommendations regarding U.S. military plans and budgets, among other things.Despite being released in 2014, the findings of the report - if slightly dated - offer a detailed and insightful window into Chinese Air Force technology, progress and development. 

The Commission compiled its report based upon testimony, various reports and analytical assessments along with available open-source information. An entire chapter is dedicated to Chinese military modernization.

Russia to Upgrade Tank Force With Deadly New Fire Control System

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Russian Ground Forces are reportedly slated to upgrade an unknown number of T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks (MBT) with a new automatic target tracker and fire control computer also found on the third-generation T-14 MBT, according to local media reports in December. The T-14 is Russia’s most advanced armored fighting vehicle, based on the “Armata” universal chassis system

The Russian Ministry of Defense intends to field the first upgraded T-72s and T-90s in two to three years, the Izvestia daily newspaper revealed. Russia’s operates around 300 T-72B3s, an upgraded variant of the original Soviet-era T-72 MBT, out of a total T-72 force of roughly 1,900, and around 350 advanced T-90A, and T-90SM, (other designations T-90AM or T-90MS), the latest and most modern version of the T-90, specifically designed for export. Despite the addition of the T-90 (and around 450 T-80s) , the T-72B3, next to other variants of the tank, remains the backbone of Russia’s tank force.

The new world order, 2017

By Robert J. Samuelson

One insistent question that will shape 2017 is whether we’re witnessing the gradual decay of the post-World War II international order, dominated by the economic and military power of the United States. 

After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, it became fashionable to talk of the United States as the only true superpower. Pax Americana would promote peace and prosperity. Globalization and trade would bind countries together. The U.S. economic and political model, mixing markets and government oversight, would be emulated. Higher living standards would bolster democratic ideas and institutions. 

As for raw military power, no country could challenge the United States. The 1990-1991 Gulf War seemed to prove this. Of course, there were fearsome nuclear weapons. But they seemed safely stalemated. Few countries had them, and the largest arsenals, the American and Russian, seemed neutered by a shared understanding that everyone would lose in a nuclear exchange. The stage was set for what one prominent commentator called “the end of history.” 


By Molly K. McKew

The world order we know is already over, and Russia is moving fast to grab the advantage. Can Trump figure out the new war in time to win it?

A little over a year ago, on a pleasant late fall evening, I was sitting on my front porch with a friend best described as a Ukrainian freedom fighter. He was smoking a cigarette while we watched southeast D.C. hipsters bustle by and talked about “the war” – the big war, being waged by Russia against all of us, which from this porch felt very far away. I can’t remember what prompted it – some discussion of whether the government in Kiev was doing something that would piss off the EU – but he took a long drag off his cigarette and said, offhand: “Russia. The EU. It’s all just more Molotov-Ribbentrop shit.”

His casual reference to the Hitler-Stalin pact dividing Eastern Europe before World War II was meant as a reminder that Ukraine must decide its future for itself, rather than let it be negotiated between great powers. But it haunted me, this idea that modern revolutionaries no longer felt some special affinity with the West. Was it the belief in collective defense that was weakening, or the underlying certitude that Western values would prevail?

Months later, on a different porch thousands of miles away, an Estonian filmmaker casually explained to me that he was buying a boat to get his family out when the Russians came, so he could focus on the resistance. In between were a hundred other exchanges – with Balts and Ukrainians, Georgians and Moldovans – that answered my question and exposed the new reality on the Russian frontier: the belief that, ultimately, everyone would be left to fend for themselves. Increasingly, people in Russia’s sphere of influence were deciding that the values that were supposed to bind the West together could no longer hold. That the world order Americans depend on had already come apart.

How Dangerous Is the Islamic State to Israel?

Marcel Serr

The more Islamic State is suffering military setbacks in Syria and Iraq, the more probable terrorist attacks against Israel become.

At the end of October 2015, Islamic State uploaded its first video in Hebrew and threatened that “not a single Jew will remain in Jerusalem.” Two months later, an audio tape of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic States, surfaced. He threatened Israel directly for the first time: “Palestine will not be your land or your home…It will be a graveyard for you.” A few weeks later, in January 2016, Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin stated: “The Islamic State is already here [in Israel].”

The first firefight between the IDF and an Islamic State-affiliated group in the Golan Heights, and a foiled terrorist attack on Israel’s national football team in Albania, both at the end of November 2016, have evoked the question: how dangerous is Islamic State to Israel?

In order to answer this question, one should assess three theaters: (1) Israel’s border areas where Islamic State-affiliated groups are active; (2) the Palestinian territories; (3) Israel.

The Border Areas: Sinai and the Golan Heights

How America Almost Built the Scariest of Weapons: A Nuclear-Powered Tank

Michael Peck

In the 1950s, America was enthralled by the atom. There were plans for atomic-powered cars, atomic-powered aircraft and atomic-powered spaceships.

So why not an atomic-powered tank?

Even by the standards of the 1950s, with its visions of Jetsons-style technology, the Chrysler TV-8 was strange. Almost monstrous, like some mutated mushroom creature out of a 1980s post-apocalyptic nuclear horror flick.

Chrysler's design was essentially a giant pod-shaped turret mounted on a lightweight tank chassis, like a big head stuck on top a small body. The crew, weapons and power plant would have been housed in the turret, according to tank historian R.P. Hunnicut's authoritative "A History of the Main American Battle Tank Vol. 2".

The four-man vehicle would have weighed 25 tons, with the turret weighing 15 tons and the turret only 10. It would have been armed with a 90-millimeter T208 smoothbore cannon and three machine guns, including a remote-controlled .50-caliber operated by the tank commander. "Closed circuit television was provided to protect the crew from the flash of nuclear weapons and to increase the field of vision," writes Hunnicut.

Various power plants were considered, including a Chrysler V-8 engine coupled to electric generators connected to the tracks, a gas-turbine electric drive, a vapor-cycle power plant using fossil fuels, and finally a vapor-cycle power plant using nuclear fuel.

The end of capitalism has begun

Paul Mason

Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian 

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.


Therese Heltberg

Just one final stronghold stands in the way of Roman victory and the promise of peace throughout the empire.

These words appear on-screen in the opening scene of the movie Gladiator. Soldiers are lining up for battle against the barbarian tribes in Germania. Russell Crowe’s character, Roman Gen. Maximus Decimus Meridius, walks along the ranks of the army. The soldiers rise as he approaches, looking at him with respect and admiration. Maximus seems calm and determined as he commands, “At my signal, unleash hell.”

At this critical moment, in this pivotal battle, Maximus moves on to lead the dangerous and decisive part of the tactical maneuver behind enemy lines. In the forest where the cavalry await him, he inspires courage in his men by validating the enduring legacy of their actions that day, linking past, present, and future. “Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.”

The military leader, the commander, is a central figure in our common narratives about war. Gladiator is just one of a large number of popular movies and books that center on great military leaders. But there is a surprising dearth of contemporary academic emphasis on military leadership theory. Recently, I looked through the abstracts of articles published over the last five years in three international scientific journals on military studies (two of which were ranked in the top twenty military studies publications on Google Scholar). Interestingly, I found very few articles related to theorizing on military leadership—i.e., articles that deal with how to understand, conceptualize, or develop military leadership from a theoretical perspective. While a multiplicity of scientific books and articles are concerned with general leadership and management, it seems from this selection of articles that academic attention towards military leadership is rather more scarce. In this selection of articles, military leadership was most often embedded in other central themes such as combat motivation, military operations, unit cohesion, or soldier values and identities. Apparently, literature on military leadership most often takes the form of personal accounts by military officers, for instance, or historical monographs about great military leaders, battles, and wartime strategies.

Obama’s Disclosure About Russian Hacking Is A Cybersecurity Gold Mine

Dave Weinstein

As we begin the new year, most media pundits will continue to focus their attention on the U.S. sanctioning of Russian entities and the expulsion of nearly three dozen of their intelligence agents from the U.S. An even bigger story, however, is the unprecedented steps taken by the Obama administration to shine a light on the tactics and procedures behind Russia’s “malicious cyber-enabled activities.” These were revealed in a 13-page report published jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.

Publicly laying this level of detail out sets a dramatic precedent that could serve a significant blow to Russia’s current and future cyberoperations in the U.S. and elsewhere. The technical details of the report constitute an intelligence windfall for ordinary network defenders who have been starving for rich real-time threat information from the federal government to protect their systems against sophisticated actors. While there are downsides to such a dramatic reveal, it is clearly the right thing to do.

Is This the Accidental Mastermind in the DNC Hack?


The White House’s new list of sanctioned Russians includes a young Moscow-based hacker, much to her professed surprise.

The list of characters that the White House is sanctioning for participating in the “Fancy Bear” DNC hacks reads like a casting call for a James Bond movie (the Roger Moore years.) A quick image search on the names turns up a handful of GRU officers in olive military uniforms, complete with red-piped epaulets, among others. But one company on the list stands out, and the founder, a young woman named Alisa Esage Shevchenko, is suddenly caught in the glare of a very unwanted spotlight.

The White House, along with the Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security singled out Shevchenko’s company, Zorsecurity (a.k.a. Esage Lab), for providing the GRU with “technical research and development.”

Shevchenko denies the accusations. Speaking to Forbes writer Thomas Fox-Brewster, she called them “sick.” On Twitter, Shevchenko claimed that the company went out of business more than a year ago.

Zorsecurity’s site is now blank, though at post time plenty of live HTML remained on the home page. Among other things, it advertises the company’s mission: “to protect Russian companies from professional computer attacks.” That’s the same mission the site listed on April 3, 2015, when the site was archived.

Future Foundry

By Ben FitzGeraldAlexandra Sander, and Jacqueline Parziale

In June 2014, the Center for a New American Security released “Creative Disruption: Technology, Strategy and the Future of the Global Defense Industry.” The paper argued that the United States military risks losing its technological advantage if the Department of Defense and its industry partners do not adapt to widely recognized strategic, technological, and business trends. 

In the two years following that paper’s release, senior leaders in the DoD have sought to arrest the decline of U.S. technological superiority. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has launched high-profile innovation efforts, reaching out to Silicon Valley and creating the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) and Defense Innovation Advisory Board. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work has championed the Third Offset Strategy, which seeks to maintain the United States’ ability to project power against adversaries armed with significant precision munitions capabilities. It is apparent that senior leaders understand the challenges facing the DoD, but their efforts have yet to address the systemic issues outlined in “Creative Disruption.” Empowering new organizations such as the DIUx and the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) is a positive step, but it is ultimately insufficient for the DoD to innovate exclusively outside its core bureaucracy or attempt to force new technology efforts through an outdated system. 

1 2 Previous Next Army Envisions Network of 2040

By Bill Lemons

The service identifies innovations needed now to meet or beat the challenges of the future. 

What will you be doing in 20 years? Have you planned that far ahead? As anyone who thought floppy disks or landlines would stand the test of time knows, predicting that far out is a challenge, especially when it comes to technology. But the U.S. Army has done just that, outlining its vision for an effective, modern enterprise network in the strategic document “Shaping the Army Network: 2025-2040.” 

It might seem foolish to create plans now, knowing the hardware and software of today hardly will resemble their successors in a few short years. Yet that is precisely why government leaders must strategize now. The Army recognizes that waiting until 2025 to design its network would be far too late. In this highly dynamic environment, change is the only constant, and organizations must embrace rather than resist it. The Army’s approach will let soldiers fight in joint, interagency and multinational environments. Its vision identifies five areas where the service needs leap-ahead technologies and network capabilities: dynamic transport, computing and edge sensors; data to decisive action; human cognitive enhancement; robotics and autonomous operations; and cybersecurity and resiliency. It seeks to provide resilient decision-making capabilities and knits together every aspect of the military sphere—from individual soldiers on the battlefield to leaders half a world away.

"Fake News" And How The Washington Post Rewrote Its Story On Russian Hacking Of The Power Grid

Kalev Leetaru

On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials” and continued “While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”

Yet, it turns out this narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.

Military Weighs Expanded Use of Cyber, Space Weapons Against Islamic State

Military chiefs are prepared to give President-elect Donald Trump the options he wants to intensify the fight against the Islamic State, including the possibility of granting commanders greater leeway to use secret cyber-warfare and space weapons, the top Air Force leader said.

"We’ve heard him loud and clear that he’s going to be looking for options,” Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force Chief of Staff, told USA TODAY.

Goldfein said the recommendations may center on permitting field commanders more flexibility to deploy an array of weapons against the militants, who are waging a terror campaIgn beyond their bases in Iraq and Syria.

“If we want to be more agile then the reality is we are going to have to push decision authority down to some lower levels in certain areas,” Goldfein said during a December trip to this air base. “The big question that we’ve got to wrestle with … is the authorities to operate in cyber and space.”

Capabilities in those two areas are among the military's most closely held secrets, and their use now generally requires approval at the highest levels of government.