1 February 2017

*** Prahladan’s The Nation Declassified: A Deep Dive Into Indian Cold War History

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Jaideep A Prabhu 

Vivek Prahladan’s The Nation Declassified should be on the reading list of anyone with a serious interest in Indian foreign policy during the Cold War.

Prahladan, Vivek. The Nation Declassified: India and the Cold War World. New Delhi: Har Anand Publications, 2016. 567 pp.

Diplomatic historians have long complained of the difficulties of doing research on the modern Indian republic due to the lack of proper archival procedures. The Indian government exhibits a strong allergy to the systematic declassification of its files, and oral history has its own pitfalls -- difficult access, passage of time and subjection to the vagaries of memory. Vivek Prahladan, however, has cobbled together disparate sources -- interviews, private papers of Indian bureaucrats, foreign archives and, most importantly, a stash of recently-declassified Indian documents -- to produce an explosive reinterpretation of Indian foreign policy during the Cold War.

The Nation Declassified begins in 1962, a pivotal moment in Indian history. The humiliation of defeat in the Sino-Indian War birthed, according to Prahladan, a realist strain of Indian foreign policy. In his final days, Jawaharlal Nehru tilted drastically towards the United States and initiated a massive expansion of Indian defence. The size of the military was increased, international vendors were approached for armaments, and impetus was given to dual-use technological development. As a result, we see a close parallel in the development of India's nuclear weapons programme and its civilian energy sector, between its missile project and its extra-terrestrial ambitions. Undergirding this was allocation of monies to supporting industries such as electronics.

Prahladan touches on the major events in Indian Cold War history to reframe them in the light of his discoveries. This includes the development of the Indian Air Force, the nuclear programme, the Third India-Pakistan War of 1971 and the balance of power in Asia after the Sino-American rapprochement. In this last section is even an interesting bit about how much Indian intelligence knew about the Pakistani nuclear weapons programme. Each chapter starts from the Indian Stunde Null, 1962, and describes the evolution of policy until 1983-84. However, the longest chapter, the one on the Indian nuclear programme, extends until the Pokhran II nuclear tests in 1998. This allows the author to show the continuity of policy from the late 1960s and early 1970s, culminating in many of the overt decisions after the Buddha laughed.

Prahladan's work weaves an interesting narrative of India's relations with the superpowers. Contrary to the popular, simplistic notion that Nehru was a Soviet "stooge", Prahladan shows the prime minister swing wildly towards the United States during the hostilities with China but gradually recentre the country before it drifts towards the Soviet Union under his successors.

*** The Utility of Torture

By George Friedman
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President Donald Trump has made the case that torture is an effective tool. He is not the first person to make this case, nor is the claim absurd on the surface. It is rooted in the assumption that someone has vital information but won’t voluntarily give it up. By applying extreme discomfort or pain, you can cause him to change his mind and tell you what he knows. In times of war, when the lives of your warriors or citizens are at stake, prohibiting torture means either you value the enemy’s life and comfort more than your compatriots’ or you value moral principles more than moral outcomes. If that were all a discussion of torture involved, it would be simple.

Let’s approach this with the most extreme example. A nuclear device is planted in Boston and set to go off in six hours, which is not enough time to evacuate the city. We know an individual who knows the device’s precise location. However, he wants it to explode and won’t tell us where it is. Would imposing agonizing pain to persuade him to tell us be appropriate? On one side, hundreds of thousands of Bostonians will die in a few hours. On the other, a single man wants them dead. Does the life of hundreds of thousands take precedence over his agony? It would seem utterly immoral to refuse to torture him. The mere fact that he would know such information and hide it places him beyond the limits of humanity. Sparing him while risking others’ lives would seem morally vile.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security with Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 25, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The problem with that example, of course, is that it stacks the deck. You know there is a nuclear device, you know when it is set to go off and you know someone who knows its location. That means you have already deeply penetrated the operation and, in addition to him, you have sources who likely are more useful in locating the device than the one who knows its location. For one thing, how can you be sure he knows? If you torture him, how do you know he will tell you the truth? You have only six hours. Torturing him is not morally objectionable, but it isn’t the most likely solution.

Let’s broaden the discussion. Assume you do not know the person who knows the device’s location, but you know someone, who knows someone, who does. Suppose you do not know the person who knows, or the person who knows him, but you know his mother, who has no idea her son is involved. She wants to protect her son and his location. Would it be appropriate to torture her? And most importantly, would it be the most efficient way to proceed when time is of the essence and there is little of it?

The problem with torture can be stated this way. When you know precisely what you want to know, and from whom you want to know it, and you are certain he knows it, torture is a very efficient tool. But when you are in possession of that much intelligence that you basically have broken the key elements, the likelihood is that less time-consuming analysis of available facts would return you to the source who provided prior information, and it would get you there faster. All that intelligence didn’t fall into your hands by miracle. Go back and look at it again.

*** America Is a Maritime Nation

By Robert Kaplan

Author Robert D. Kaplan’s latest book is "Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World." This piece is part of a special RCW series on America’s role in the world during the Trump administration. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Robert Kaplan on the Sources of American Power

The United States, bordered by two oceans, is a maritime nation. Not only is its Navy the largest in the world by far, but its coast guard would qualify as the 12th largest fleet in the world. The U.S. Navy is America's foremost strategic instrument -- much more so than its nuclear arsenal, which in all probability can never be used. The U.S. Navy is on the high seas around the world in peacetime as well as in wartime, guarding the sea lines of communication and the main maritime choke points. This, in turn, allows for a free global trading regime and guarantees access to hydrocarbons for America's allies. This Navy, by the way, also allows for an inland strike capacity. To wit, America bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo from warships in the Indian Ocean and the Adriatic Sea.

Historically, America is not unique in this regard. Athens, Venice, and Great Britain were all great global maritime powers. So were Holland and Portugal. Maritime powers, with exceptions of course, were generally more benign than land powers such as Germany and Russia. For while armies invade, ships make port visits and facilitate commerce. Navies also do not occupy foreign territory to anywhere near the extent that land forces do. While armies are required for unpredictable contingencies, navies (and air forces) project power on a daily basis. America might have gotten into unnecessary wars in Vietnam and Iraq, but American power is undiminished, largely because of the size of its Navy and Air Force. Finally, the U.S. Navy helps keep America engaged but out of trouble.

If we consider ourselves a maritime nation, chances are that we will make fewer mistakes in foreign policy, since naval power is about protecting commerce and a free trading order more than about having imperial-like possessions and interests. This is why a Navy can deploy anywhere all the time, though sending large numbers of ground troops overseas often involves a debate in Congress.

The United States currently has a Navy with almost 300 warships. This is an important fact, since if America's Navy had only, say, 200 warships, the world would be a very different place. It would be considerably more violent and anarchic than it already is. The U.S. 7th Fleet essentially keeps the peace in East Asia, while the U.S. 5th Fleet helps prevent war between Iran and the Arabian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.

This 300-ship Navy, combined with America's other armed services, gives the United States more power than any other nation in the world. Yet we must keep in mind that this considerable power does not equal overwhelming power. It is in the space between these two concepts that much of the violence and instability in the world takes place. For even a 600-ship Navy, or even an army much larger than our present one, would be unable to prevent the collapse of states across the Middle East. America, in other words, while guarding its interests, must be prepared to tolerate a world where it is not in control.

Let me elaborate on this.

America's ability to influence the world will likely decrease, but the ability of other powers to do likewise will also decrease over time, owing to internal economic challenges in China, Russia, and Europe that dwarf America's own economic problems. Thus our power will increase relative to other major states and unions, even as it decreases in absolute terms around the world. In all this, our Navy will be a barometer for our national health: this is because maritime platforms are frightfully expensive, thus the ability to maintain a Navy the size of ours requires public support through taxes and a healthy rate of increase in the gross domestic product.

***NLiving and dying in the Special Forces

Rudraneil Sengupta

Inside the world of the secretive 9 Para SF, involved in ceaseless battle in the rugged, forested mountains along the LoC

A member of the 9 Para during a training exercise. Photo: Rudraneil Sengupta

On the morning of 26 August, a sunny, warm day, the 9 Para were called in. They had been waiting for this call. Three days earlier, on being tipped off that a group of five militants was moving through the forests of Kazi Nag, high up in the Uri area of north Kashmir, the army and Jammu and Kashmir Police had launched an operation. Moving in a large cordon, the soldiers had closed in on the militant group by 25 August. A gun battle ensued, and one militant was shot down. Four others escaped, moving across a ridge line on to higher, more rugged terrain. They were armed well, and moving fast.

At their base in north Kashmir, members of the 9 Para, the Special Forces (SF) unit of the army trained specifically for quick engagements in formidable mountain areas, got ready. Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami was his usual cheerful self, checking on others in his team, making sure the men were carrying the correct weapons and gear. Self-assured and soft-spoken, Goswami could, in his quiet way, inspire both calm and confidence. Goswami was not tall, but he was big-boned and lean, a trained mountaineer, and, as his commanding officer described him, “a happy mix of humility and deep power”.

Minutes later, a small assault team, Goswami with them, was airborne. They were dropped by helicopter—“hepter”, in army language—to the place where the militants had been last sighted, more than 9,000ft up in the mountain. The army and the police had cordoned off a large circumference around the area, and, according to the army, intercepted a radio call from the militants to their handler in Pakistan saying that they were surrounded. Picking their way carefully through thick forest, and then on to the higher, rocky reaches of the mountain, the team from 9 Para searched for the terrorists. It needed patience and caution. House-sized boulders surrounded them. There were deep caves on the mountain face. You could be ambushed from anywhere.

Siachen glacier: Interesting facts on 'the place of wild roses'

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"Quartered in snow, silent to remain, when the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again." The words are engraved on the stone memorial at the Indian Army base camp in Siachen.

Siachen Glacier, 71km long and one of the world's largest glaciers is situated in the north of the disputed region of Kashmir.

Siachen, which ironically means the place of wild roses, is the highest battlefield in the world. The Indian and Pakistani forces have fought against each other many times in the Karakoram Range since 1984.

Image source:Bytes of India - Broadcasting Platform

The inhospitable climate and avalanche prone area has claimed more lives than any gunfire. In view of harsh weather, Army can deploy one soldier in Siachen for a period of three months only.
Listed below are some chilling facts about the inhospitable climate that our soldiers deployed there face: 

In winters, temperature can fall to minus 50 degree Celsius. At such a low temperature touching any metal object with bare hands can lead to deadly frostbites. The soldiers posted there use guns and other artillery only after wearing anti-frostible gloves 
Machine guns are dipped in boiling water to keep them from jamming 
Every six months deployment of Army unit is rotated 

China's Myanmar Dam Hypocrisy

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By Tom Fawthrop

Workers fix a floating platform used for the construction of a dam on the Nu River, also known as the Salween River, in China's Yunnan province (March 1, 2007). The projects in China proper have since been suspended out of environmental concerns; not so for planned dams in Myanmar.

China is preserving the ecology of the Nu River within its borders. Downstream in Myanmar, it’s a different story. 

Can the U.S. Military Compete With China’s Rooster-Dancing Capabilities?

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The Chinese city of Taiyuan welcomes the new year with a sculpture of a rooster resembling Donald Trump. Jon Woo / Reuters

The Chinese government clearly received the message when Donald Trump pledged to not only rebuild the U.S. military, but also show it off with parades down Pennsylvania Avenue and flyovers of New York City. In response, Beijing has sent America’s new president a signal that it too can play that game. That signal comes in the form of a rooster, which, in Chinese astrology, is associated with people who are hardworking, supremely confident, and demanding of attention. In marking the dawn of each new day, one Chinese scholar observes, roosters are in charge of “time.” The Chinese government’s point—at a time of serious tensions between the world powers over trade, Taiwan, and the South China Sea—is unambiguous: Trump may want to Make America Great Again, but the coming century belongs to China, not America.

That’s one explanation. Another, more likely possibility is that Chinese soldiers were simply celebrating the start this week of the Chinese New Year, which ushers in the Year of the Rooster. The People’s Daily, a newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party, has just posted this gem of a video that I strongly urge you to watch in full:

The Obstacles to China's Bid for Soft Power

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By John Ford

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: A Game Changer for Gilgit-Baltistan

By Seth Oldmixon and Prateek Joshi

China’s Communist Party is worried about rise of Buddhism

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Buddhist Association of China issued a directive calling for the prevention and restriction of ‘illegal’ propagation of Tibetan Buddhism in Zhejiang province.

Indications over the past few months hint at a degree of nervousness in some quarters within the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) leadership about the unchecked spread of Buddhism in China. There is additionally apparent concern about the spread of the Dalai Lama’s influence elsewhere in China—outside the borders of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)—prompting efforts to more strictly regulate the activities of Tibetan Buddhist monks. 

There has been a marked increase in the number of Buddhists in China over the past 20 years, with their percentage in the population rising from 5% to more than 18% by 2015. The increase followed the easing of controls on religion by the communist authorities in 2006-07. Buddhists in China are now estimated to exceed 300 million. The 88 million-strong CCP has been sensitive to the growth of any other organisation not controlled by the Party, viewing it as a potential threat to its monopoly on power. The Falungong, which grew to 100 million members, was ruthlessly eviscerated after a sustained 10-year long nationwide campaign with little trace of it left today.

China’s apprehension that prominent Han Chinese personalities could be influenced by the Dalai Lama became evident when, in February 2016, China’s official media criticised mainland actor Hu Jun, Hong Kong singer Faye Wong and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai, for having sat close to “two core figures of the Dalai Lama group” during a Tibetan Buddhist event in India. The pro-China Chinese-language Hong Kong daily Ming Pao, quoting Tibet.cn, which focuses on Tibet related news, observed that many Western film stars had been criticised for their support for the Dalai Lama and Chinese celebrities should have learned the lesson. Despite these restrictions, since 2014, around 140-160 Mainland Chinese visit Dharamsala each year and many seek an audience with the Dalai Lama. 

Possibly concerned at the spread of the Dalai Lama’s influence, the provincial unit of the official Buddhist Association of China (BAC) issued a six-point directive in November 2016, calling for the prevention and restriction of the “illegal” propagation of Tibetan Buddhism in China’s Zhejiang province. Zhejiang is a major centre of Chinese Buddhist education and training and its Buddhist population outnumbers those of most other Chinese provinces. 

Addressed to all BAC units in the province, the notice was reportedly issued “on the request of the Zhejiang Province Religious Affairs Bureau to thoroughly implement the basic religious policy of the Communist Party of China and other laws and regulations on religious affairs, and to improve religious harmony and social harmony”. While not clarifying these “illegal” activities, it prohibits monks practising Tibetan Buddhism from visiting Zhejiang province to give teachings, conduct empowerment rituals, and conduct other ceremonies without government approval. It states that approval is required for teaching of Tibetan Buddhist texts and scriptures or holding other related activities at Buddhist centres, Buddhist associations or Buddhist universities in the province. 

India, China and Arunachal Pradesh.


The satellite picture below brilliantly depicts the geographical separation of Arunachal Pradesh (called Lower Tibet by the Chinese) and Tibet. The McMahon Line more or less runs along the crest line of the Himalayas.

The Chinese have never been quite explicit on how much of Arunachal they seek. Recently I saw an official map displayed in a travel agents office in Lhasa that showed only the Tawang tract as Chinese territory. In other maps they have their border running along the foothills, which means all of Arunachal.

The Chinese have based their specific claim on the territory on the premise that Tawang was administered from Lhasa, and the contiguous areas owed allegiance to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet. Then the Chinese must also consider this. Sikkim till into the 19th century a vassal of Tibet and Darjeeling was forcibly taken from it by the British! By extending this logic could they realistically stake a claim for Sikkim and Darjeeling? Of course not. It would be preposterous. History has moved on. The times have changed. For the 21st century to be stable 20th century borders must be stable, whatever be our yearnings.

At the crux of this issue is the larger question of the national identities of the two nations and when and how they evolved. The Imperial India of the Mughals spanned from Afghanistan to Bengal but did not go very much below the Godavari in the South. The Imperial India of the British incorporated all of today’s India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but had no Afghanistan, not for want of trying. It was the British who for the first time brought Assam into India in 1826 when they defeated Burma and formalized the annexation with the treaty of Yandabo.

It was only in 1886 that the British first forayed out of the Brahmaputra valley when they sent out a punitive expedition into the Lohit valley in pursuit of marauding tribesmen who began raiding the new tea gardens. Apparently the area was neither under Chinese or Tibetan control for there were no protests either from the Dalai Lama or the Chinese Amban in Lhasa. Soon the British stayed put.

Tibet remained in self imposed isolation and the race to be first into Lhasa became the greatest challenge for explorers and adventurers in the second half of the 19th century. Not the least among these were the spies of the Survey of India, the legendary pundits. The most renowned of these was the Sarat Chandra Das whose books on Tibet are still avidly read today. As the adventurers, often military officers masquerading as explorers began visiting Tibet the British in India began worrying. Reports that the most well-known of Czarist Russia’s military explorers, Col. Grombchevsky was sighted in Tibet had Lord Curzon, the Governor General of India most worried.

How much longer can Oman be an ocean of peace

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The desert country of Oman does not have the most stable of neighbors. To its west lies Saudi Arabia, some of whose citizens have been major contributors to Islamist militant groups. To its southwest is Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are backing different sides of a civil war that has killed at least 10,000 civilians and attracted both Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

Oman has tried to cut itself off as much as possible from these two troubled neighbors. So far, it has managed to avoid being sucked into the sort of conflict that has blighted nearly every other country in the Middle East. Oman has managed to stay out of disputes, maintaining good relationships with Western allies and other Middle Eastern countries, including Iran. And it has managed to fend off threats from ISIS and other extremist groups. In 2015, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at London’s King’s College found that not a single Omani had joined the more than 20,000 foreign fighters battling alongside ISIS.

The country’s efforts at staying out of the region’s wars have paid off. In November, the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace released its annual Global Terrorism Index, which assesses the impact of terrorism on 163 countries on a scale of zero to 10. Just 34 countries scored zero. Oman was the only country in the Middle East among that grouping. (The U.S.’s and the U.K.’s scores hovered around 5.0.) But while Oman’s score on the index was something to celebrate, it’s unclear whether 2017 will be quite as peaceful.
Tolerance for All Religions

The biggest threat to Oman’s stability is the person who helped secure it—the country’s leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The longest-serving Arab ruler still in power, the sultan has governed Oman for 46 years but is now in declining health. In 2014, Omani and international news outlets began reporting that the sultan was suffering from terminal cancer.

Qaboos seized control of Oman from his father, whose repressive regime led to a civil war that lasted from 1965 until 1975. After taking power, Qaboos invested in large-scale infrastructure projects, transforming Oman into a modern functional state. In 1996, he created a new constitution that guaranteed press freedom and promised there would be “no discrimination amongst [people] on the ground of gender, origin, color, language, religion, sect, domicile, or social status.”

Tolerance for all religions has proved crucial to Oman’s stability. Under the constitution, people of all faiths are free to practice their religion, provided that it doesn’t disturb the public order.

Ukraine's Problem is Ukraine

By James D. Durso

Ukraine’s government has hired Washington lobbyists to fix its problems with the Trump Administration, but would do better to fix its internal problems, instead. Ukraine’s problems are in four categories: a structural problem caused by the multiple overlapping entities involved in military strategy and procurement; the absence of a unified strategic vision for ordering equipment and supplies; a “Fifth Column” of pro-Russian officials; and a staggering corruption that divides the self-interest of the elites from the national interest.

A recent Rand study highlighted the deficiencies in the command structure of Ukraine’s security sector. Defense procurement particularly has several overlapping structures with no clear lines of authority or unity of command. The President, Prime Minister, Defense Ministry, General Staff and the infamous state-owned defense company, Ukroboronprom, compete against and undercut one another. Each entity produces its own wish list, driven more by impulse than strategy, and each entity has separate financial controls, opening the door to insider dealing and corrupt sales of government property.

In Ukraine, citizens are played for suckers: local militias fight to preserve home and liberty, while the leaders focus on procedure, personal prestige, and offshore bank accounts. Ukroboronprom is infamous for selling arms to the black market, and domestic contracts are given to factories indirectly owned by President Petro Poroshenko, who still hadn't divested his business interests as he promised to do when he took office in 2014. 

However, Ukraine’s political leaders are not fiddling while their country burns, they are busy stealing their military budgets -- nearly half, in the estimate of a former Ukrainian senior military officer who requested not to be identified. They reason that when the rest of Ukraine is swallowed up by Russia, they will have a well-funded Plan B. 

But it is not just the corruption that’s the problem. The system is plagued with inefficiency and lack of commitment. In 2015, at a time when the Ukrainians were complaining about the cost of spare tires and repairs, the U.S. government was prepared to ship them over 150 Humvees, along with spare parts and training - over $300 million worth of equipment. However, the government of Ukraine refused to spend $600,000 to pay the shipping cost.

Complicating these issues is the presence of the Russian Fifth Column. Many of the senior leadership -- military as well as political -- are loyal to President Putin, and they work actively to undermine Ukrainian independence. For them, corruption is a political tool as well as a means of personal enrichment. (That Plan B, again.)

Journalist: Russia's Interference Is An 'Assault On The Western Liberal Order'

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Pavel Golovkin

A police officer stands guard in Moscow's Red Square.

Journalist Luke Harding has an insider's understanding of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Harding served as Moscow bureau chief for the British newspaper The Guardian from 2007 until 2011. During his tenure, Russian agents followed him, tapped his phone and repeatedly broke into his home.

"I almost feel like I could write the KGB handbook, I lived it for quite a long time," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Harding was expelled from Russia after four years, in part due to his reporting on Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who defected to England and died in 2006 after drinking tea dosed with polonium-210, a radioactive poison. Litvinenko's murder is the subject of Harding's new book, A Very Expensive Poison.

Harding understands how Russia's reach extends far beyond its borders, and he takes very seriously the issue of Russia's interference in the U.S. election. "I don't want to sound too hyperbolic, but it's really an assault on the Western liberal order," he says.

Harding adds that Putin's aim is to disrupt the politics that have dominated America and Europe for the last 70 years. "[Putin] wants to turn the clock back to an age of great powers, to almost an imperial era of the 19th century, where strong sovereign nations didn't talk about values or human rights or anything like that," he says. "They cut deals, they had summits, they made grand bargains ... and they divvied up, they divided the world into spheres of influence."

On Putin's tactics for creating false stories

This is one of Putin's tactics that he first learnt as a junior spy in Leningrad when he joined the KGB — essentially lying, if you're in the KGB. There's nothing wrong about it. It's simply a kind of tactic. It's a kind of operational strategy. And what we've seen, essentially, is that the Kremlin has kind of perfected these postmodern techniques, first of all, by squashing domestic criticism and taking over TV inside Russia, but really, over the last seven or eight years, willing this out to an English language audience through things like Russia Today, the English-language propaganda channel of the Kremlin.


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By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer 

The B-52 is the old workhorse of the U.S. bomber fleet, with an average age of more than 45 years. It can carry a wider range of weapons, and loiter longer without refueling, than any other bomber.

In both Beijing and Washington D.C., nuclear weapons and their delivery systems have become particularly big news lately. In China, the DF-41 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is already driving in the streets of Manchuria. Stateside, President Trump has just received a briefing at the Pentagon on America's nuclear plans.

Here's a quick run-down of the nuclear systems of both countries—and what they are planning to obtain in the next 25 years:

Both nations have intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) buried inside fortified underground missile silos. China's workhorse ICBM is the massive, 183-ton DF-5, which has a range of over 7,450 miles and the capacity to carry 3.2 tons—as either be a 5 megaton "city buster" hydrogen bomb, or, more recently, 3 to 8 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) nuclear warheads, that can each individually strike a different target. While powerful, the DF-5 uses liquid fueled engines, requiring a lengthy fueling process before launch, making it vulnerable to a first-strike attack. The US's LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM, of which 440 are based in Midwestern silos, is much smaller and carries only three nuclear warheads. However, its solid-fueled engines make it far more survivable, since it can be launched in mere minutes.

Mobile ICBMs, carried on dedicated carrier trucks, can be launched in any open space; their mobility makes them more survivable and harder to find compared to their larger, silo-bound brethren. America does not have any known mobile ICBMs, but China has two solid-fueled variants: the DF-31A and DF-41. The three-stage DF-31A, with an estimated range of over 6,835 miles, has a payload of three to five 150 kiloton MIRV warheads, making it powerful enough to strike most of the continental USA from Chinese territory.

The 9,320-mile-range DF-41 ICBM is one of the world's most lethal missiles. Weighing about 80 tons, it is carried and launched by a 12X12 all-terrain truck, and can also be launched from rail. Its payload of 12 MIRV nuclear warheads can be augmented with decoys and jammers to confuse enemy sensors, letting the actual warheads slip past missile defenses. Currently, a Chinese Rocket Force brigade of 10-12 launchers is forming in northeastern China, near the Russian border. (Ironically, the DF-41 poses little threat to Russia there since its large minimum range makes it impossible to hit most Russian territory from its current position)

In the future, the USAF Strategic Command hopes the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) ICBM can replace the Minuteman III, which is likely to remain only silo-based. China is likely to continue with advanced derivatives of the DF-31 and DF-41 missiles; further iterations would likely have increased accuracy, more sophisticated decoys to spoof missile defense systems, and hypersonic gliders.

New Administration May Take Special Operators Back to Roots

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By Stew Magnuson 

U.S. Special Forces soldiers perform drills in Kabul province, Afghanistan 

Barack Obama chose MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to deliver one of his final speeches of his presidency to address his record on counterterrorism.

The home base for both Central Command and Special Operations Command played a key role during the eight years his administration fought the forces of radical Islam.

He gave credit to special forces for beating back the Islamic State in its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

“We took the fight to ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, not with American battalions but with local forces backed by our equipment and our advisors and, importantly, our Special Forces,” he said. 

Special operations forces over the past two administrations have been used mostly as “door kickers” — commandos charged with targeted capturing or killing of so-called high-value targets.

While that is an important part of what special operators do, experts interviewed said the elite forces may find themselves under the Trump administration returning to their roots as advisors and trainers for foreign forces.

The Obama administration relied heavily on special operations forces with a “small footprint” approach to tackling terrorism, said Linda Robinson, senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corp., and author of the book, “One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare.” 

Part of that strategy — especially in Iraq and Afghanistan — involved capturing and killing terrorist leaders in order to take down their networks’ nodes. However, there are limits to this so-called “whack-a-mole” approach, SOCOM leaders have acknowledged.

“There is only so much you can get out of killing and capturing leadership, because they can be replaced, and have been replaced,” Robinson said. There is no end game using this strategy, she noted.

Female Marines to Sleep Next to Male Marines in Field

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By Julie Watson

Female infantry Marines will be sleeping in makeshift shelters next to their male counterparts when out in the field and no special accommodation will be offered to them, a Marine Corps official said Thursday.

Marines in the field stay in everything from a large, single room shelter filled with dozens of cots to sleeping under tarps or nothing at all, said Maj. Charles Anklam III, executive officer for 1st Battalion, 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina — the first gender-integrated Marine infantry battalion.

Female Marines have private rooms and bathrooms in their living quarters, and female bathrooms have been added to buildings where Marines work. But female Marines will be expected to share any living spaces with male squad members in the field to keep unit cohesion and replicate battlefield conditions, he said.

"We're not changing our tactical posture or changing how we operate to accommodate the inclusion of female Marines," Anklam said.

The battalion accepted its first three females in early January, marking the first time the Marine Corps has put three enlisted women in a ground combat unit once open only to men. They will serve as a rifleman, machine gunner and mortar Marine.

Anklam said female Marines deployed to conflict zones have shared tents with their male counterparts at times. But this marks the first time female Marines will be doing so during their regular training with their combat unit.

Their entry into the unit was part of efforts to comply with the Pentagon's directive in December 2015 to open all military jobs to women. That decision also formally recognized the thousands of female servicewomen who fought in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, including those who were killed or wounded.

Army Weapons Developers Assess How Future Enemies Will Attack Forward Operating Bases

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Army weapons developers tested Forward Operating Base protection technology. The idea is to fix vulnerabilities early in the developmental process before weapons are deployed by anticipating how enemies might attack.

Army acquisition leaders and weapons developers are increasing their thinking about how future enemies might attack ---and looking for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their platforms and technologies earlier in the developmental process, senior service leaders told Scout Warrior.

The idea is to think like an enemy trying to defeat and/or out-maneuver U.S. Army weapons, vehicles, sensors and protective technologies in order to better determine how these systems might be vulnerable when employed, Mary Miller, former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Research and Technology, told Scout Warrior in an interview last year.

The goal of this thinking, she explained, is to identify “fixes” or design alternatives to further harden a weapons system before it is fielded and faces contact with an enemy.

“We have taken it upon ourselves to look at early developmental systems for potential vulnerabilities. As we understand where we might have shortfalls or weaknesses in emerging programs, we can fix them before things go to production,” Miller added.

The Army is already conducting what it calls “Red Teaming” wherein groups of threat assessment experts explore the realm of potential enemy activity to include the types of weapons, tactics and strategies they might be expected to employ.

“Red Teams” essentially act like an enemy and use as much ingenuity as possible to examine effective ways of attacking U.S. forces. These exercises often yield extremely valuable results when it comes to training and preparing soldiers for combat and finding weaknesses in U.S. strategies or weapons platforms.

This recent push, within the Army acquisition world, involves a studied emphasis on “Red Teaming” emerging technologies much earlier in the acquisition process to engineer solutions that counter threats in the most effective manner well before equipment is fully developed, produced or worst case, deployed.

Miller explained that this strategic push to search for problems, vulnerabilities and weaknesses within weapons systems very early in the acquisition process was designed to keep the Army in front of enemies.

A key concept is, of course, to avoid a circumstance wherein soldiers in combat are using weapons and technologies which have “fixable” problems or deficiencies which could have been identified and successfully addressed at a much earlier point in the developmental process.

Our sly, stealth-y neighbour

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Lt Gen HS Panag (retd)

Pragmatic approach: The authors believe that it is not possible for India to fight a two-front war and suggest a ‘settlement’ of the Kashmir issue on the lines of the four-point formula worked out in 2007 in order to focus on China

Let alone China, India cannot even win a war against Pakistan. The reason is while Pakistan has built military power, India focused on building military force. In this difference lies the capability to win wars. Military force involves the mere collection of ‘war-withal’, that is building up of troops and war-waging materiel; military power is about optimal utilisation of military force. All this comes under the rubric of defence policy (also called political directive) and higher defence management, which in India’s case is either absent or anachronistic and in urgent need of transformation.

With these blunt words for the currently dominant emotional, nationalistic, jingoistic and rhetoric-riding political class and its followers, begins the prologue of the book Dragon On Our Doorstep by Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab. The authors cover a vast canvas that includes the incremental evolution of our ‘functional’, though anachronistic National Security Strategy; the internal and external threats faced by us, the state of our armed forces, detailed evaluation of our principal adversaries, China and Pakistan’ and recommendations for a ‘winning strategy’.

One may not agree with their analysis and recommendations in entirety, but they cannot be faulted on painstaking research and blunt evaluation. There is no shying away from unpalatable conclusions; no possibilities and probabilities; no political correctness; only professional examination of complex strategic and defence issues and out-of-the-box solutions usually glossed over by most analysts. In this respect alone, this book is exceptional and a must read by the opinion and policy-makers.

The authors contend that China is our most dangerous threat as it continues to change the LAC through military coercion and has no desire to settle the border dispute. China-Pakistan alliance cemented by the ambitious CPEC, the flagship of OBOR, poses a very serious threat to Northern Ladakh. Their active cooperation in the event of war is inevitable. The gap between India and China’s comprehensive national power is so huge that there is no possibility to match it in the foreseeable future. The authors believe that it is not possible for India to fight a two-front war and suggest a ‘settlement’ of the Kashmir issue on the lines of the four-point formula worked out in 2007 in order to focus on China.

How An Old Raag Is Set To Infuse A New Melody In This Year’s Beating Retreat Ceremony

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Sumati Mehrishi 

Packed into 16 beats, sounds of Indian instruments and a percussion ensemble, Raag Yaman shines in a blend of traditional military tunes and a fresh musical thought.

It will be the sound that echoes through Vijay Chowk, on 29 January, at Beating the Retreat Ceremony 2017.

How do ragas and rasas surprise us in their seamless evolution? You may get the answer when you watch the 2017 Beating the Retreat Ceremony, to be held on 29 January, at Vijay Chowk or on your television sets.

Nostalgia for military traditions has found a melody centuries old and arrangement fresh. The melody is Raag Yaman -- associated, largely, with romance, with lovers pining in meeting and separation, fragrance and starlit nights, with bhaktas and devotion, motherly love and many other reasons (and excuses) for the expression of nostalgia and happiness, has taken a brave new turn in the brilliant imagination and performance of our men in the tri-service military band, in "Yaman".

The score, Yaman, has been composed by L B Gurung for the tri-service band, with accompaniment of the Indian instruments. It will be performed in a jugalbandi of sorts (and parts) between musicians at the domes and musicians marching in this marvelous culmination of light, rhythm and tradition, touching, quite appropriately, the time assigned to the raga in its wide and voluminous practice.

Packed into 16 beats, sounds of Indian instruments and a percussion ensemble, Yaman shines in this memorable blend of traditional military tunes and a fresh musical thought. It lingers, between the entry and exit of the buglers, it glows in darkness, between a warming sight of brass in bands and buckles, and ceremonial lights that envelope the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

With Yaman, the score Raag Yaman has bled into another rasa, humbly, perhaps, into veer rasa. Finding a different space, in this spectacular celebration of our Republic and the armed forces, Yaman is a melodious recall, a re-awakening, a musical solace to a memory of service and sacrifice, and memories. It perhaps can be heard as a homage to Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan sahab’s love for Raag Durbari and Ustad Bismillah Khan sahab’s undying faith in the Bhairavis, the melodies, the two great maestros believed, were national heritage and wanted preserved (and protected).

Yaman’s performance is, in a way, an act of musical bravery that leaves the ears and the heart wishing for more (and more ragas). Durbari, Bahar, Pilu, Durga, Hamir -- the list of ragas you’d wish for the tri-service military band to perform in the coming years could (easily) be longer. Well, this is what Raag Yaman does. It makes you crave. And crave more.

What Is the Best Way to Deal with the Problem of Islamic Terrorism?

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Hugo Kirk

The Center for the National Interest partnered with the Charles Koch Institute to host a foreign policy roundtable. Among the topics addressed was: What is the best way to deal with the problem of Islamic terrorism? Watch the rest of the videos in the series “Today’s Foreign Policy Challenges.”

Reducing the threat of Islamic terrorism has been a primary focus of American foreign policy for more than 15 years. The Bush administration declared a global war on terror, seeking out terrorist groups in their own countries and taking the fight to them. The Obama administration extended this strategy to new theaters. In practice, this has meant war in Iraq and Afghanistan, drone campaigns across the Middle East, and local partnerships to disrupt terrorist networks and destroy their safe havens. The global war on terror has been expensive—a new study from Brown University puts the tab at $5 trillion. Surely these efforts have made America safer?

A panel of top international relations experts thinks otherwise. Collectively, these scholars believe that America’s deep engagement in the Middle East has not helped improve American security. Instead, in the words of Boston University’s Andrew Bacevich, “On balance, U.S. military intervention in the Islamic world has made things worse—at great cost to ourselves and, frankly, at great cost to the people we’re supposedly liberating.” The panelists discussed a number of issues relating to the roots of Islamic terrorism and its implications for U.S. policy. They focused on how Western policymakers perceive the problem and how this has shaped our strategic response. Finally, the scholars discussed practical solutions that the United States should adopt and ways that these might differ from current policy.

Bacevich suggests that the Islamic world is experiencing a “civilizational crisis.” He believes that a small minority of Muslims are struggling to reconcile their faith with secular modernity and are lashing out at the greatest symbol of that modernity: the United States. As a result, terrorism cannot be stopped by outside intervention. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago disagrees. He argues that Western policy is responsible for the region’s descent into chaos and the propagation of terror organizations, syndicates, and paramilitaries. He believes decades of deep engagement have stoked the ire of violent subnational groups. From Mearsheimer’s perspective, the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya dismantled institutional barriers keeping those forces in check. The result has been civil wars that are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of millions of people.

Private Sector Plays Bigger Role in NATO Cyber Strategy

By Vivienne Machi 

A Slovenian serviceman takes part in Exercise Combined Endeavor 14, along with over 1,200 participants, including NATO partners. 

As NATO allies train for possible clashes with Russian forces on land, at sea or in the air, the organization’s information technology arm is beefing up its cyber capabilities to defend against potential attacks from state and non-state actors in the digital realm.

With the U.S. military similarly making its network defense a battlefield priority, NATO is investing billions of dollars to refresh its cyber network design and continue training efforts across the alliance, while reinforcing its partnerships with the cybersecurity industry, according to current and former officials.

The organization — which is made up of 28 member nations including the United States, Canada and many European countries — has been investing in cyber defense since the early 2000s, but has made concerted efforts to work with the private sector on the matter only in the last two years, said Koen Gijsbers, general manager of the NATO Communications and Information Agency.

Prior to the 2014 Wales Summit, cyber defense was seen as “a technical solution,” Gijsbers said. But as the threat became more severe, “it was clear that we needed to speed up the relationship with industry” and develop a higher level of cyber defense, both at the NATO level and among individual nations, he added.

NCI Agency — headquartered in Brussels with locations all over Europe and in Norfolk, Virginia — is the information technology, communications and cyber defense arm of NATO, and serves as the acquisition office for those technologies, according to Gijsbers. It is also responsible for managing and operating the organization’s air and missile defense capabilities, and develops technical standards for cyber defense for its members.

Many of those nations have been investing heavily in defense capabilities — including cyber — as Russia boosts its offensive posture with more aggressive tactics. NATO last year announced business opportunities in cyber, air and missile defense worth nearly $4 billion through 2019.

The opportunities include: a major satellite communications contract worth about $1.6 billion and procurement for advanced software, according to the agency.

The capability refresher includes training for the agency’s staff, as well as larger nation-inclusive training events, Gijsbers said. For the first time, NATO held a major cyber exercise in Estonia in 2016 with members of industry and partner nations participating.

“It’s important to have those trainings, because this is how you prepare yourself for things you have not yet seen, you want to be prepared for the worst,” he said.

Silicon Valley Could Upend Cybersecurity Paradigm

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By Jon Harper 

As the Defense Department turns to crowdsourcing to help protect its information networks, Silicon Valley is in a position to revolutionize the way the Pentagon promotes cybersecurity.

The Defense Department recently established a vulnerability disclosure program with the assistance of HackerOne, a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity firm that manages “white hat” hacking initiatives for private sector companies and other organizations.

The program created a legal framework and mechanisms for friendly hackers outside of the department to volunteer their time and find vulnerabilities in Pentagon IT systems.

HackerOne provides the platform for taking an external vulnerability report and tracking it all the way down to remediation, Alex Rice, the company’s chief technology officer, said in an interview with National Defense.

“It’s really a ‘see something, say something’ policy that is very common in Silicon Valley companies,” he said, noting that the Pentagon was the first national defense agency to adopt a similar approach.

By encouraging friendly hackers to probe for and identify vulnerabilities, defense officials hope to better secure U.S. military networks from intrusions.

“If there’s a vulnerability there we want to know about it. We want to know about it before the adversary knows about it,” said Lisa Wiswell, the digital security lead at the Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service. “When you’ve got folks that are willing to help we … [need to use them] to the best of our ability.” 

Embracing the Silicon Valley crowdsourcing model required a change in mindset for a defense establishment that previously viewed all hackers warily, she noted at a CyberCon gathering of government and industry officials in Washington, D.C.

“The cultural shift that has started to happen within the department is pretty impressive,” she said. “Having folks understand that the same kind of communities that we’ve sort of demonized for a long time … are now sort of our friends and we want to benefit from skill sets no matter where they come from, is a tremendously different approach than what we’ve done in the past.” 

Although participants in the vulnerability disclosure program typically won’t receive any financial reward for their efforts, success can still be a career booster, Rice said. The Defense Department created an acknowledgment page to recognize outside cyber experts who help identify and remediate vulnerabilities, he noted.

“There is value in getting an official thanks from the DoD,” he said. “It’s certainly a compelling thing for security professionals to put on their resume.”

But the Pentagon isn’t going to simply rely on those who are willing to donate their time and expertise. Working with partners in Silicon Valley, the Defense Department is establishing so-called “bug bounty” programs that pay successful hackers for each vulnerability that they discover in designated systems.

The U.S. Navy Is Headed Into Rough Seas With Its Computer Network

Loren Thompson , 

I write about national security, especially its business dimensions. 

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. 

Way back in the year 2000, before Facebook even existed, the U.S. Navy launched the biggest IT consolidation and outsourcing initiative in federal history. It integrated the fragmented networks and information services of 28 different commands into a single system called the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. After some initial growing pains, it evolved into the biggest intranet (private network) in the world, with 700,000 shore-based users at 2,500 sites using a quarter-million devices.

The current system works very well, delivering high reliability, diverse services and end-to-end security through a resilient network that the government owns but private contractors operate. Because it is always available, the Navy and its sister service the Marine Corps have come to rely heavily on their intranet to conduct operations. If it were compromised, many of the critical missions performed by the sea services would be impaired.

However, the Navy has decided that it might be able to save money by carving up the system into four segments in which contractor teams would compete separately for work. Its theory is that it can get greater innovation and pricing power by maximizing competition, eliminating the need for a single overarching integrator that makes sure all the pieces mesh seamlessly.

The Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network may be headed into heavy seas if it doesn’t rethink the course it is on.(U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class William H. Ramsey/RELEASED)

This theory is wrong. It is a recipe for instability that violates basic principles of common sense. The problem isn’t the goals that the Navy is trying to achieve, which focus on delivering secure, state-of-the-art functionality to operators. The problem is that there is no apparent connection between the goals the service seeks to achieve, and the strategy it has embraced for getting there.

The new, segmented system is called the Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN. With the existing intranet already supporting over two-thirds of all Navy information services, it is crucial that whatever replaces it deliver world-class reliability, versatility and security. Any degradation in the cadence or continuity of the existing system could have fatal consequences for warfighters.

U.S. Has No Geographic Defenses on the Cyberwar Battlefield

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has long relied on its borders and superior military might to protect against and deter foreign aggressors. But a lack of boundaries and any rulebook in cyberspace has increased the threat and leveled the playing field today.

It’s unclear how President Donald Trump, who has emphasized an “America First” approach to domestic issues, will respond to cyberspace threats, which transcend traditional borders and make it easier and cheaper than ever for foreigners to attack the U.S. Whatever the approach, it will set the tone and precedent for global policies during a critical time when the ground rules are still being written.

At a hearing this month on foreign cyberthreats, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ran through a list of recent operations the U.S. believes was carried out by foreign countries — Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The targets: the White House, State Department, Office of Personnel Management, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy, major U.S. financial institutions, a small New York dam and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.

“Our adversaries have reached a common conclusion, that the reward for attacking America in cyberspace outweighs the risk,” McCain said.

With most of the U.S. critical infrastructure in private hands and Americans among the most connected citizens in the world, the potential attack surface for any hacker is vast and increasing. U.S. officials and lawmakers have argued that because there is no official policy on cyberwarfare, the response to any attack can be slow, politicized and ultimately ineffectual.

The U.S. took two months, after publicly accusing Russian government hackers of trying to influence the presidential election, to respond with economic sanctions and other more symbolic measures.

The reality is that the “nature of conflict has moved to the information space instead of just the physical kinetic space, and it now operates at greater scale and quicker speed,” said Sean Kanuck, who served as the first U.S. national intelligence officer for cyber issues in the Office of the Director for National Intelligence.

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. proposed international cyber rules for peacetime, including that countries should not target another’s critical infrastructure. But otherwise, it has maintained existing international laws and reserved the right to respond to any cyberattack.

The Trump administration is reviewing cyber policies, but it has said it will prioritize developing defensive and offensive cyber capabilities. It has also said it will work with international partners to engage in “cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable (terrorist) propaganda and recruiting.”

Unlike conventional warfare, the costs in cyberspace can have rippling impacts for both the victim and attacker. Malicious software may end up spreading in an unforeseen and unplanned manner, and a hacker who gets into a single computer can cause unpredicted effects to a network.

“Look at what North Korea did to Sony or what China did to us via the OPM hack,” said David Gioe, a history fellow at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and a former FBI agent. “You’ve got all of these aircraft carriers and all of this ocean, and it really doesn’t matter because we’re still feeling effects. They’re not kinetic effects, but they’re surely effects.”

More than 20 million people had their personal information compromised when the Office of Personnel Management was hacked in what the U.S. believes was a Chinese espionage operation.

“Really it’s our geeks versus their geeks,” Gioe said. “In the same way as single combat. It doesn’t matter how good my army is or your army is, it’s me versus you.”