20 January 2017

*** NATO and the United States

By George Friedman 

President-elect Donald Trump deeply upset the Europeans by raising the possibility that NATO is obsolete and that the European Union is failing. This is not the first time these issues have been raised. Many in the United States have raised questions about Europe’s commitment to NATO and to its relationship with the U.S. Many Europeans also have made the observation that the EU is failing. What Trump has done is simply bring into the open the question of Europe’s relationship with the U.S.

This question has been on the table for 25 years, since the Soviet Union collapsed. NATO was an alliance with a single purpose: to protect Western Europe from a Soviet invasion. That was a clear and understandable goal in the interest of all concerned. The military structure that was created was directed toward that end. And it reflected the relative economic and military strength of each party at the time of NATO’s founding. The Europeans bore the geographical risk. Any war would be fought on their territory, and their forces would face the first wave of an attack. In the long term, American reinforcements, air power and, in an extreme case, nuclear weapons would protect Europe. The foundation of the relationship was that Europe, with the best will, could not afford to build a sufficient defensive force. The U.S. was the indispensable force that could deter and defeat a Soviet attack. 

In this photo illustration, a copy of the Jan. 16 issue of German tabloid Bild Zeitung that features an exclusive interview with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump lies on a table in a train in Berlin, Germany. In the interview, Trump branded German Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal refugee policy a mistake, the NATO military alliance obsolete and threatened German carmakers with 35 percent import tariffs. Sean Gallup/Getty Images 

** How did the US Army’s leadership problem grow so bad?

Summary: The US spends $600 billion on the US military (narrowly defined; almost a trillion broadly), yet repeatedly fails to defeat our poorly trained and equipped foes. In this chapter of our series asking “why”, Don Vandergriff points to ways the Army selects and promotes officers (its problems are usually about people; seldom about hardware). Tomorrow he discusses solutions.

Vandergriff (Major, Army, retired) is a long-time co-author on the FM website and one of America’s foremost experts on ways to reform the military’s personnel systems. See his bio here. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Seeing leadership as Chess: it’s a path to defeat.

The US military has a leadership problem. It’s visible in the deterioration of soldiers’ confidence in the leaders, shown by the 2014 Military Times survey asking 2,300 active-duty soldiers about their lives. Over only 5 years their answer grew much darker.

There is much more evidence. Such as “Pentagon investigations point to military system that promotes abusive leaders” (WaPo, 28 Jan 2014). This article in the Jan-Feb 2013 Military Review made waves: “Narcissism and Toxic Leaders“, Joe Doty (Lt. Colonel, US Army, Retired) and Jeff Fenlason (Master Sergeant, US Army). Also see these two posts about the recent scandals in the officer corps: looking at the scandals and asking why so many.

There is a lot happening in the Army’s culture below the visible surface.
A diagnosis of the problem

I have been writing since 1999 that the Army — in fact, all the services — has an antiquated personnel system, the deep cause of their many disparate problems.

** Trump Might Cause ‘the Death of Think Tanks as We Know Them’

By The Washington Post

For decades, Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments and avenues of influence for sponsors of their research. Donald Trump’s incoming administration is bent on breaking that model.

Trump’s appointments have so far have been heavy on business executives and former military leaders. Transition sources tell me the next series of nominations — deputy-level officials at top agencies — will also largely come from business rather than the think tank or policy communities. For example, neither the American Enterprise Institute’s John Bolton nor the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass is likely to be chosen for deputy secretary of state, while hedge fund manager David McCormick is on the shortlist. Philip Bilden, a private equity investment firm executive with no government experience, is expected to be named secretary of the Navy.

The president-elect favors people who have been successful in the private sector and amassed personal wealth over those who have achieved prominence in academic or policy fields. Those close to him, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors…

** Pathankot attack: Questions that were never asked about the terror strike

By Lieutenant General Prakash Katoch (retired)

Much has been written about the recent terror strike in Pathankot and more such material will be produced. The discovery of US Army military binoculars used by terrorists makes it obvious that they were trained and equipped by the Pakistani army. The discussion in media has veered toward massive deficiencies in equipping National Security Guard (NSG) commandos. Some of these shortcomings stood out during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Following the blasts at Zhaveri Bazaar in Mumbai, and Delhi High Court, the focus was on CCTVs not working.

This time, it is equipping the NSG; will we then forget Pathankot till the next terror strike? Ironically, among the many questions about command and control, coordination and time taken in responding to the Pathankot attack, some fundamental questions were never asked and some systemic deficiencies remain unaddressed.

Following reports of infiltration across the International Border (IB) and indications of terrorists heading towards Pathankot, the Indian Air Force base was correctly assessed as the prime target and the strategic assets moved out before terrorists entered the base on 1 January, which merits high commendation. The mechanics of our response with NSG as the lead force is public knowledge by now but some facts would still be of interest, like:

1. On the fourth day of the operation, a journalist rang up army headquarters to ascertain the ground situation in the IAF base. He was told that he should ring up the Ministry of Home Affairs which controlled the operation through the NSG.

* North Africa’s Next War


TIFARITI, Western Sahara — Uninhabited and less than three miles long, the rocky, flat area known as Guerguerat falls under no formal government rule. It lies near North Africa’s Atlantic coast, some 40 miles north of Nouadhibou, a thriving Mauritanian port city. The main industry — if you can call it that — is smuggling. And it could be the place where Africa’s next war begins.

Since August, this remote area has been the site of a standoff between two enemies that have been at an impasse for more than two decades: Morocco and the Polisario Front. Not since 1991 have they been closer to war.

The United Nations uses the sanitizing term “non-self-governing” to describe the Western Sahara, and has since 1963, when it was still a Spanish colony. When Spain withdrew its territorial claim in 1975, Morocco annexed the territory. After some 16 years of war, the two sides signed a cease-fire and a de facto border emerged. Morocco controls two-thirds of the Western Sahara, which it deems its “southern provinces.” The Polisario Front, a movement of indigenous Western Saharans that first formed to fight for independence from Spain, controls the remaining third, which it calls the “free zone.”

I recently traveled to the free zone. There is no phone service, no GPS and not a single paved road. To navigate, drivers rely on memories of where rocky outcroppings and dried riverbeds stand in relation to one another. The ground is mainly granitic, with waves of petrified forests, meteorites and land mines.

Creating a ‘smart city’ from the ground up in India

By Abhishek Lodha and Subbu Narayanswamy

Abhishek Lodha is managing director of the privately held Lodha Group, one of India’s largest real-estate developers. It is currently building Palava, a 4,500-acre greenfield city near Mumbai. Construction started in 2010, and the first residents arrived in 2014. In an interview with Subbu Narayanswamy, a Mumbai-based McKinsey senior partner who leads the firm’s work in real estate globally, Lodha spoke about India’s rapidly evolving real-estate sector and what it takes to build a city of the future.

McKinsey: How do you see India’s real-estate market evolving? Where is the greatest potential for growth?

Abhishek Lodha: India is among the fastest-growing major economies in the world, but organized real estate has a small base. Any projections on India’s population and likely GDP growth over the next 10 to 15 years automatically imply growth for real estate. No major economy has grown without this happening. Real estate is a feeder to the consumption cycle because it allows wealth to grow on the asset side. As people become affluent, one of the most important things they want to upgrade is where they live and work. If India grows, real estate will do well. The big question is: how fast and sustainably can India grow?

** Pakistan: A Conditional Saudi Ally

Despite the countries' similarities, Saudi Arabia is struggling to persuade Pakistan to increase its participation in the Islamic Military Alliance, a loose coalition of Muslim countries that Riyadh formed in 2015. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have much in common. Each country considers itself to be at the vanguard of the Muslim world, and both are home to predominantly Sunni populations. In spite of their similarities, however, the two countries are struggling to forge closer military ties. When Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced in December 2015 that Riyadh would lead a military alliance of dozens of Muslim nations, most of them Sunni-majority countries, Pakistan was surprised to find its name on the list. Even so, it agreed to participate in the alliance, short of committing its troops to fight for a foreign cause. On Wednesday, Islamabad made a surprising announcement of its own: It was reported that Pakistan's former chief of army staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif, refused to accept his appointment to lead the alliance unless Iran was included in the group. Though Pakistan lies to the east of Saudi Arabia and Iran, over the years it has often found itself caught between the two poles of Islamic power. The country exemplifies the difficulty Muslim nations face in maintaining neutrality between Riyadh and Tehran, and Saudi Arabia's Islamic Military Alliance is just the latest complication in that struggle.

Afghanistan cannot be abandoned to China-Pakistan-Russia Troika in 2017

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Afghanistan seemed to have disappeared from the United States radar in the months to the run-up to US Presidential Elections resulting in a void which the China-Pakistan-Russia Troika has exploited to US disadvantage.

Strategically the United States invested heavily in Afghanistan in terms of billions of dollars and thousands of US soldiers lost to Pakistan Army duplicitous double-timing the United States while professing to be a trusted ally of long-standing. In 2017, the United States would be well-advised not to let the China-Pakistan-Russia Trilateral muscle into what rightly deserves to be called United States strategic turf.

The US incoming Trump Administration’s highest priority task on assumption of office on January 2017 should be not to abandon Afghanistan .On the contrary the United States should ensure that the machinations of the China-Pakistan-Russia Troika by what initially appears only as a ‘pious’ political intervention is not allowed to morph into an eventual some sort of quasi-military Troika intervention.

Let's Face It, China's Military Now Dominates ASEAN

By Peter Layton

Over the last year, there has been a sharp regional strategic shift. In the South China Sea, China has built six large islands, three substantial air bases and three sizeable electronic surveillance installations. China has effectively moved some 1100km closer to Australia, deep into the geographic heart of the ASEAN region. 

Such territorial expansionism is particularly worrying given recent Chinese military developments. Chinese airpower is being rapidly transformed through a major decade-long modernisation program that, as President Xi Jinping directed in 2014, is now accelerating. China’s air force has moved from having obsolete 1950s technology to today operating modern combat aircraft and highly-advanced surface to air missile systems. 

With its new air bases and leading-edge air power, China now has the strategic initiative in South East Asia. Whenever it chooses, China can deploy to its South China Sea airbases an air combat force larger and more capable than any ASEAN air force. 

Of ASEAN’s air forces, Singapore’s is the most capable, operating some 100 modern fighters, albeit many are normally located offshore at foreign training bases. Given typical maintenance processes and adequate warning, some 50-75 fighters could be surged in a crisis. In contrast, China operates more than a 1000 modern fighters and could deploy 75-100 aircraft across the three islands. China has some further advantages in having sophisticated, readily-deployable surface-to-air missile systems for high-quality island air defence while its fighter aircraft operate elsewhere. Singapore is less well equipped and would need to retain a sizeable fighter force for home air defence purposes. Moreover, China has a variety of long-range land-attack missiles; Singapore does not. 

India’s diplomatic moves on Tibet


India recently announced that it will welcome the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has lived in exile in India since 1959, at an international conference on Buddhism in the state of Bihar in March. Ignoring protests from the Chinese government, India will also allow the Dalai Lama to visit the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of its own territory and calls South Tibet. This represents a gradual but significant change in India’s Tibet policy, and it flows directly from China’s refusal to acknowledge India’s security concerns.

When Narendra Modi took office in 2014, his government hesitated to openly acknowledge official interactions with the Dalai Lama, ceding some ground to Chinese sensitivities. But by last month, President Pranab Mukherjee was hosting the Dalai Lama at a summit held in his official residence, the first meeting in decades between a serving Indian president and the Tibetan leader.

China reacted strongly to this meeting, saying New Delhi was disrespecting one of Beijing’s core interests. New Delhi retorted that the Dalai Lama was a revered spiritual leader and it was a nonpolitical event. China has also objected to the planned visit by the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, saying it would damage bilateral ties.

Why India – Vietnam Military Relation Disturbs China

By Bhaskar Roy

The Chinese official newspaper, the Global Times (January 11) in an article entitled “Indian arms same to Hanoi disturbing if aimed at China”, warned New Delhi that India must desist from doing to China what China does to India. 

The Chinese official article was in response to Indian media reports on discussions between Indian and Vietnam on supplying India made Akash surface-to-air missiles to (25 Km range) to Vietnam.

Some Indian media speculated that this agreement could be a reaction to China arming India’s neighbours especially Pakistan which has fought at least three wars with India, and engaged in regular terrorist attacks against India, sometimes with China’s blessings.

China’s propaganda establishment must understand how the free Indian media functions. They attack the government and criticise even the prime minister. In China, this is unthinkable. The print media, television channels and radio have to follow the line laid down by the communist Party and the government. Any perceived misdemeanour is treated harshly. Therefore, the Chinese commentators must listen to what the Indian government says.


By Kelsey D. Atherton 

This artillery crew is providing indirect fire for Iraqi Security Forces as they fight to retake Mosul from ISIS.

The latest bomber to make its debut over Iraq has four engines, no cockpit, and a flight time limited by the length of its battery. ISIS, the radical insurgent group holding territory in both Syria and Iraq, is fighting for its life in Mosul, the large city in Northern Iraq it has held since 2014. Most of the weapons ISIS uses are are familiar, if still horrific: rifles and mortars, artillery and suicidal car bombs. To that arsenal, ISIS recently added commercial drones, converted into tiny bombers.

Previously, we’ve seen ISIS scratch-build drones, and as Iraqi Security Forces retook parts of Mosul, they discovered a vast infrastructure of workshops (complete with quality control) for building standardized munitions, weapons, and explosives. In October, Kurdish soldiers died dismantling a booby-trapped ISIS drone. These drone bombers recently captured by Iraqi forces and shared with American advisors appear to be commercial, off-the-shelf models, adapted to carry grenade-sized payloads.

Why No One Remembers the Arab Spring of 2010

By Ehsan M. Ahrari

The sixth anniversary of The Arab Spring (aka Arab Awakening) has come and gone, but not many people noticed. One of the main reasons underlying this was its utter failure to create either a stable, democratic, or secular Arab world. However, that was not the intent of that movement. In fact, no one really knew what the young Arab protestors wanted when they overthrew President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, and President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, except that they wanted to replace those autocratic rulers. So, it is hard to pinpoint why the Arab Spring failed. However, because it generally failed to change the quality of at least two countries—Egypt and Libya—an informed discussion about its failure may help us get ready for such future turbulent developments in the Arab world.

In the West, the Arab Awakening was expected to spawn an era of liberal democracy (something that was alien to the Arab world). However, there were no established political parties in the Arab world to shape the modalities of future change. There were a few Islamist parties; even they were banned or had an underground existence. Thus, about the only known political group (if it were to be loosely labelled that) were the Islamists. Even they were shocked by the intensity of demands for political change in those three countries, but they had no plan to establish an alternative government. The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and the Ennahda Party of Tunisia were two Islamist parties; yet, each produced starkly different results.



The scandal over Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election is only the latest in a series of geopolitical contests with Russia in which Moscow has often gotten the better of the United States. The “new Cold War” isn’t going all that well for anyone besides Vladimir Putin. Washington certainly has the least to show for it. Following public outcry, the Obama administration released intelligence on the Russian hacking operation, but the clumsily written disclosures only made Vladimir Putin look bigger and badder. Meanwhile President Obama’s ambiguous threats to respond at a “time and place of our choosing” obscured what costs, if any, Russia paid for such chicanery. One suspects that there was little pressure beyond what is publicly known. If anything, this exchange of accusations only highlighted America’s vulnerabilities while encouraging Russia and other states to try harder next time around.

The Russians earned yet another political victory with audiences at home and abroad. Meanwhile, Washington is in the midst of self-immolation. When the next peer adversary comes knocking, the United States must be better prepared. The United States can’t return to the past, but it can certainly learn from it.

As Mark Twain once said, “good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment.” After Ukraine, Syria, and this latest episode, America has been on the receiving end of some good experience. Step one in learning is admitting that Vladimir Putin has been on a winning streak, arguably as far back as March 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Based on observing Moscow’s interaction with our policy establishment, I expect the Kremlin to continue “winning” this year, whether or not U.S. foreign policy changes dramatically in the coming months.


The battlefields in Eastern Ukraine represent part of a new era of warfare, or so we are regularly told. Analysts, pundits, and military leaders point to cyber warfare, hybrid warfare, and the gray zone. But look away from these shiny new concepts for a moment, and it becomes clear the Russian–Ukrainian war’s conventional character is far from new. In fact, it looks a lot like the last century’s World Wars. While the new aspects of this war have generated discussion within the defense industry as to the evolving character of war, an acknowledgement of the conflict’s conventional character is largely missing from the discourse.

To be sure, Russia’s actions in Ukraine have revealed several innovations, most notably the employment of the semi-autonomous battalion tactical group, and a reconnaissance-strike model that tightly couples drones to strike assets, hastening the speed at which overwhelming firepower is available to support tactical commanders. However, even these innovations are being used within a form of warfare that looks strikingly like that of a century ago.

What Do Ukrainians Actually Think?


The war in eastern Ukraine is no longer headline news in Western media. These days, Ukraine gets an occasional mention in projections about the wider geopolitical developments that lie ahead. But here, Ukraine’s role is little more than that of a political football kicked across the world stage. A potential rapprochement between U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would sideline Ukraine further. And if France and Germany turn inward during their respective election years, there will be no international actor left trying to keep up the momentum behind the Minsk agreement, which aims to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

Projections like these reduce Ukraine’s agency and, even more importantly, completely ignore the views, fears, and hopes of Ukrainian citizens. Current publicly available snapshots of Ukrainian opinions are rare, despite the valuable information they can provide in the context of Ukraine’s reform efforts. Such findings therefore deserve close attention.

According to a poll conducted jointly by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center and publicized in early January, only 3 percent of Ukrainians think that the overall situation in Ukraine has improved. Moreover, these improvements are mostly associated with the country’s national defense capabilities.

The results of the poll were more readily available, at least in summary form, in Ukrainian than in English. Continuing a long-lasting trend, this poll confirms that not a single Ukrainian politician or political institution can count on citizens’ trust. The most trusted institutions are the army and patrol units, including voluntary formations. Interestingly, trust in local councils is higher than in national institutions.

What Brexit Means for the World

Global markets responded harshly to Britain's vote June 23 to leave the European Union, but the long-term implications of the decision stretch beyond economic considerations. (THOMAS LOHNES/Getty Images)

Over the coming weeks, the frenzy of the financial markets will dominate the world's attention. But what lies beyond the horizon in a post-Brexit world? Stratfor highlights the areas of the world that will be most affected by the latest phase of the European Union's fragmentation.

Europe's Unraveling

** Trump Might Cause ‘the Death of Think Tanks as We Know Them’

By The Washington Post

For decades, Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments and avenues of influence for sponsors of their research. Donald Trump’s incoming administration is bent on breaking that model.

Trump’s appointments have so far have been heavy on business executives and former military leaders. Transition sources tell me the next series of nominations — deputy-level officials at top agencies — will also largely come from business rather than the think tank or policy communities. For example, neither the American Enterprise Institute’s John Bolton nor the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass is likely to be chosen for deputy secretary of state, while hedge fund manager David McCormick is on the shortlist. Philip Bilden, a private equity investment firm executive with no government experience, is expected to be named secretary of the Navy.

The president-elect favors people who have been successful in the private sector and amassed personal wealth over those who have achieved prominence in academic or policy fields. Those close to him, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors…

Next Steps for Military Personnel Reform

By: Mandy Smithberger

Ten years ago the Center for Defense Information published Raising the Bar: Creating and Nurturing Adaptability to Deal with the Changing Face of War. Written by Straus Military Reform Project Advisory Board Member Major Donald E. Vandergriff, USA (ret.), the book has been used in numerous courses, including in the Department of Military Instruction at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and remains a pivotal reform text. This spring Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s attempts to modernize the military, an initiative called “Force of the Future,” have been largely rejected. We interviewed Vandergriff for his thoughts on the next steps for military reform.

People are key to improving and reforming our national security. History and science prove that if you get the people issues right, everything else falls in place.

People are key to improving and reforming our national security. History and science prove that if you get the people issues right, everything else falls in place. Yet, due to the short-term and zero defects-minded culture we live in and the military practices in, we retain an industrial-age personnel system with complex technology laid on top.

The hope of decision-makers (both in and out of uniform) is that technology will allow workarounds. Ironically, almost everyone acknowledges that the personnel system is antiquated and is the biggest obstacle to the military getting better, but no one wants to lead the reform effort.

General Mattis, save the U.S. military. Ban PowerPoint.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

There are a lot of reasons to support the nomination of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense. He's an enormously respected and talented general. He's a scholar and an impressively well-read man. He supports America's alliances and is clear-eyed about America's challenges, especially Russia and Iran. If anyone has the intelligence and backbone to curb some of Donald Trump's worst instincts, it's Mattis.

But there's another big reason why I want Mattis to get the job: He might be the only man with the legitimacy — and the guts — to take on the cancer eating away at the U.S. military.

What is this cancer? Is it over-reliance on outdated supercarriers and stealth fighters that aren't stealthy? No. Is it poor generalship and a culture of complacency, unaccountability, and uncritical thinking? Nope. It's worse. Much worse.

It's PowerPoint.

PowerPoint has been slowly killing the U.S. military from the inside. As this 2010 article from The New York Times explains, from generals down to frontline officers, America's military staff spend their time making, giving, and listening to PowerPoint presentations instead of, you know, preparing for war.



Over the last decade, would-be adversaries have been busy acquiring and fielding capabilities to preclude U.S. and allied forces from freely operating around the world. This buildup of military capabilities in the Pacific, Europe, and even in Syria and Iran, poses a complex operational problem for U.S. and allied forces across a range of missions, including in the fight for control of the air. Losing the ability to operate freely at the tactical and operational level has strategic-level impacts. If we do not respond to this trend, we will ultimately lose the ability to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries in conventional conflicts. Having a credible ability to attack an enemy – especially those enemy capabilities that threaten our homeland or our deployed forces – is essential to regaining and retaining the ability to achieve strategic success.

The second installment of this series explained how the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team (ECCT) attempted to solve this problem and bridge the air superiority gaps facing the U.S. Air Force in 2030. While none of our original four frameworks would suffice in the face of expected future threats, we did learn several key lessons from our analysis. We learned that while modernization of current forces alone could not solve the 2030 problem, key upgrades could keep this force relevant at the operational level and increase its overall fighting capacity. We learned that increased reliance on stand-off weapons would be technically feasible if we could figure out how to provide the right degree of targeting information. We learned that capabilities with persistence, range, and survivability were key. And, perhaps most instructively, we learned that the Air Force needs to move from an air domain-centric perspective to one that complements our air assets with cyberspace- and space-based capabilities.

The Information Doppelgänger in Psychological Warfare

By Jessica Malekos Smith

The Russian military’s conception of psychological operations is eerily similar to Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky’s 1866 novella, The Double. In fact, this story is an insightful teaching device for anyone who wishes to understand Reflexive Control

Reflexive Control is a psychological warfare technique that was developed by the Soviet military to influence enemy commanders in their decision-making processes. To promote an understanding of this technique across the U.S. armed services, this article offers a creative approach. And why not? According to this Soviet military doctrine, “[c]ontrol of an opponent’s actions is of a creative character.” 

But first, let’s begin with the story

Dostoyevsky was a 19th-century Russian novelist who possessed a remarkable talent for probing the depths of human psychology. His novella, The Double, is about a government bureaucrat, Mr. Golyadkin, whom one day encounters his sinister doppelgänger (“a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person”). Shortly after befriending his double, Mr. Golyadkin is incessantly plagued by him and has difficulty distinguishing between reality and his paranoid fantasies. In the end, he is overtaken by his madness. So how does this relate to psychological operations?

Russian Military Modernization: Everything Old Is New Again

By James Mugg

In a recent article for The Strategist, I showed how Russia’s economic woes are negatively affecting plans to modernise the country’s military. In order to be thrifty, Moscow has, for the most part, been investing in modernised or upgraded versions of existing platforms, rather than waiting for altogether new platforms like the Armata tank or PAK-FA fighter to enter service. Most of the Russian Armed Forces’ equipment is of Cold War vintage, and their priority appears to be an increase in the volume of modern equipment in service, rather than introducing revolutionary new capabilities.

It’s telling that the 2011–20 State Armaments Program’s major benchmarks emphasised the percentage of modern equipment in service: 30% of total by 2015 and 70% by 2020. Their success in that pursuit has been mixed, and exact numbers are hard to find, but the share of modern equipment in service has clearly been increasing.

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister said in April 2016 that the military had received some 1,200 ‘new and modernised aircraft’ since 2013—250 new planes, 300 new helicopters and 700 modernised aircraft. Essentially all the new fixed-wing combat aircraft are modern derivatives of 1980s Soviet-era aircraft: the Su-27 ‘Flanker’ (Su-30; Su-35 and Su-33), Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’, MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ (including the forthcoming MiG-35) and the MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’. These ‘4th generation’ airframes outfitted with modern, digital avionics and sensors are commonly referred to as 4.5 generation fighters, and lack the intrinsic design features of 5th generation aircraft like the F-35.

Terrorists, Insurgents, Something Else? Clarifying and Classifying the “Generational Challenge”

Source Link
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Jacob Zenn 

Editor’s Note: The war against terrorism involves fighting more than terrorists. Some groups use guerrilla war, and still others are proto-states. The post-9/11 struggle has also brought the United States into greater contact with warlords, clans, and other non-state actors. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Jacob Zenn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Jamestown Foundation, respectively, try to bring a sense of order to these many actors, offering a spectrum of "violent non-state actors" as a way to better conceptualize them. 

The Trump administration’s appointments have signaled that it will continue to prioritize the fight against jihadist violent non-state actors (VNSAs)—a broad term that we find far more useful than an exclusive focus on terrorist groups, but a term in desperate need of clarification. In this article we provide a taxonomy of VNSAs that can be used to produce more rigorous discussion of them.

Beyond the challenge of jihadism, various VNSAs are likely to play a greater role in world politics in the coming years. Weakening states, ecological challenges, and rapid technological innovation, among other factors, have allowed non-state actors to challenge the power of nation-states in a way that has not been possible in recent history. As Sean McFate demonstrates in The Modern Mercenary, the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 didn’t end states’ reliance on private armies, but rather marked the beginning of a transition from the dominance of private military force to the ascendance of state military primacy that “was gradual, spanning centuries.” By the 20th century, the world had reached a period of absolute nation-state dominance.

Destination India for Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017

Cherian Samuel

The moribund London Process has acquired a fresh lease of life with India taking on the mantle of holding the next iteration of the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS), after the original host, Mexico, expressed its inability to hold the conference. The conference is expected to take place in November 2017. This would be the fifth in the series, following conferences in London (2011), Budapest (2012), Seoul (2013) and The Hague (2015).
Earlier Iterations

The London Process began as a conference on cyberspace hosted by the British Foreign Office following a proposal by the country’s Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Munich Security conference in 2011 for an international meeting to discuss “rules of the road” in cyberspace. This was in response to efforts by Russia and China to develop an alternative model for cyberspace governance that stressed on national sovereignty in cyberspace and which had culminated in the tabling of an “International Code of Conduct for Information Security” at the United Nations in 2011 by China, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The narrative put forward by the London Process emphasised a cyberspace that was “open, global, safe and secure”, the specifics of which were to be developed through consensus on various principles and norms amongst the various stakeholders. In his opening statement, the architect of the Conference, William Hague identified the objectives of the conference thus: "We want to widen the pool of nations and cyberusers that agree with us about the need for norms of behaviour, and who want to seek a future cyberspace based on opportunity, freedom, innovation, human rights and partnership, between government, civil society and the private sector."1 Accordingly, the themes of the conference were Economic growth and development, Social benefits, Safe and reliable access, International security, and Cyber crime.