11 February 2017

*** Investing in Syria's Future


The crippled state of Syria's economy risks weakening the remaining loyalist support for the government in Damascus. 

The international involvement in the country's civil war will leave Damascus with few partners that it can trust to help with its reconstruction efforts. 

Iran's investments in Syria will not yield immediate financial gains but will afford Tehran greater influence in the country.

Six years of conflict in Syria have left its economy in tatters. Since 2010, the country's gross domestic product has shrunk by more than half. The war has devastated Syria's population, killing more than 440,000 people and driving some 6 million more out of the country, a loss that will cripple the country long after the fighting inevitably stops. An estimated 60 percent of Syria's population — what's left of it — is unemployed, and it's hard to say how many more Syrians are underemployed.

Though the government entered the new year at an advantage over its opposition, having just retaken the city of Aleppo, its financial decline has undermined its ability to exert control over the country. When the time finally comes to begin picking up the pieces, the government in Damascus will not be able to embark on the daunting task of reconstruction alone. Several countries have already begun extending their support to help rebuild the battered nation, some more strategically than others.

*** Empire By Other Means: Russia’s Strategy for the 21st Century

By Agnia Grigas

During the first phone call between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on 28 January, both sides agreed on the need to improve the US-Russian relationship. While it’s still uncertain how this new relationship will evolve, the conclusion of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his confirmation hearing that “we’re not likely to ever be friends” is telling. More importantly, Tillerson noted that the Kremlin has “a geographic plan” and that it is “taking actions to implement that plan.”

Russia has much more than a simple territorial plan. In fact, in recent decades Moscow has actively pursued Putin’s long-term vision of reestablishing Russian power and influence in the former states of the Soviet Union and not shied away from redrawing borders and launching military campaigns.

Since the 2000s Russia has shown increasing tendency towards “reimperialization” of the post-Soviet space, especially in regards to the territories inhabited by ethnic Russians, as I argue in my book "Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire." Moscow counts some 35 million Russians and Russian speakers abroad as compatriots concentrated in states such as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia and has repeatedly demonstrated commitment to engage and protect these populations. In other words, broad reimperialization is the end-goal of Moscow’s policies, and Russian compatriots are among the means for Moscow achieving that end.

The concept of reimperialization should not be solely understood in the narrowest sense of the term. An empire does not simply result from acquisition of territories. Rather, reimperialization should be understood as a process allowing a dominant country to have indirect control over the sovereignty of other states.

*** The Relationship Between the Pakistani Military and Islamist Terrorist Groups Based in Pakistan

Doctor Frankenstein

In early January 2017 the United States released another batch of documents captured during the 2011 American commando raid on the Osama bin Laden hiding place in Pakistan. One of the documents contained some explosive material about the leader (Ilyas Kashmiri) of an Islamic terrorist group operating from a sanctuary in Pakistani Kashmir and making attacks inside India, particularly Indian Kashmir. In one mid-2010 letter Kashmiri, who also worked for al Qaeda, asked bin Laden for advice on how to destroy his patron (the Pakistani military and its intelligence branch ISI) after India had been driven out of Kashmir. It was no secret that even Islamic terrorist groups that profess loyalty to the Pakistani military contain many members who see that has a necessary lie because so many officers and troops do not believe in Islamic terrorism and do sinful things like watch movies and drink alcoholic beverages. Ultimately people like this must be punished. This is not an unusual attitude among Islamic radicals. It is confirmed when ISI openly admits to using Islamic terrorist groups as “weapons” against neighbors (especially India and Afghanistan). Many Islamic terrorist groups who accept aid from ISI have already turned on their benefactor because these zealots believed the corrupt Pakistani military and ISI were in need of being “cleansed” as soon as possible. The Pakistani military called the unflattering Kashmiri document a fabrication, which either the United States or even bin Landen may have created to confuse their enemies. But many familiar with Islamic terrorism in Pakistan saw that the letter was probably real.

** The curious case of Chinese troops on Afghan soil

By Franz J. Marty

Overwhelming evidence – photographs, an eyewitness account and several confirming statements of diplomats and observers, among them a Chinese official familiar with the matter – leaves virtually no doubt that Chinese troops have undertaken joint patrols with their Afghan (and possibly also Tajik) counterparts on Afghan soil in the Little Pamir, a high plateau near the Afghan-Chinese border. While the Chinese source insists that such joint border patrols were based on an agreement, and therefore legal, the Afghan government steadfastly denies the existence of such patrols.

Background: China has shown and continues to show an increasing interest in Afghanistan (albeit still low compared to the West and Afghanistan’s other neighbors). One specific focal point of China is the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan that shares a very short (76 kilometers) and remote border with the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang. This interest stems from Chinese concerns about illicit cross-border movements, in particular of alleged Uyghur extremists affiliated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – a group that is said to want to establish Islamic rule in Xinjiang, the homeland of the Uyghurs.

Accordingly, China has increased its involvement in this specific border region. On August 4, 2016, the inauguration of the so-called Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism stipulated a closer military co-operation between Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China and Pakistan; in September 2016 China signed an agreement with Tajikistan, pledging the construction of eleven outposts of different sizes and a training center for (Tajik) border guards along the Afghan-Tajik border; and during five days in late October 2016 China and Tajikistan reportedly held counterterrorism exercises in the Tajik part of the Wakhan Corridor – a narrow stretch of Afghan territory, wedged in between Tajikistan and Pakistan with the short border with China at its very end.

** A View of ISIS’s Evolution in New Details of Paris Attacks


A wounded man was evacuated at the Bataclan concert hall during the Paris attacks in November. Investigators hope the arrest of Salah Abdeslam will shed new light on the assaults.CreditYoan Valat/European Pressphoto Agency

Investigators found crates’ worth of disposable cellphones. All around Paris, they found traces of improved bomb-making materials. And they began piecing together a multilayered terrorist attack that evaded detection until much too late.

In the immediate aftermath of the Paris terror attacks on Nov. 13, French investigators came face to face with the reality that they had missed earlier signs that the Islamic State was building the machinery to mount sustained terrorist strikes in Europe.

Now, the arrest in Belgium on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, who officials say was the logistics chief for the Paris attacks, offers a crucial opportunity to address the many unanswered questions surrounding how they were planned. Mr. Abdeslam, who was transferred to the penitentiary complex in Bruges on Saturday, is believed to be the only direct participant in the attacks who is still alive.

Much of what the authorities already know is in a 55-page report compiled in the weeks after the attack by the French antiterrorism police, presented privately to France’s Interior Ministry; a copy was recently obtained by The New York Times. While much about the Paris attacks has been learned from witnesses and others, the report has offered new perspectives about the plot that had not yet been publicized.

Question The Army, But Try to Know Us First, Says Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda

Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda

It is essential for the government to review the nature of civil-military relations in India to remove some of the distrust and cynicism that marks the relationship today, writes Lt General (Retd) DS Hooda

The military is under increasing scrutiny. I am often asked as to why we shy away from answering questions on organisational and man-management problems, which are now regularly cropping up on social media. Are our standards different from those of our informed citizens? Are we hiding behind a cloak of nationalism, which makes it difficult for someone to criticise us?

I have been somewhat agonising over how to respond to these genuine concerns of the people of India. Incidentally, the concerns are not new. While commenting on the growing politicisation of the Indian Army in 1981, Romesh Thapar wrote about re-professionalism of the Indian Army, failing which “India will find itself with a million-man army that has lost its professionalism, that reflects the worst qualities of Indian life, and that has important parochial interests to protect.”1

I think the best way to respond is by talking to you about how the military is different, and what constitutes the military ethic. The military ethic promotes professionalism among its members and of necessity takes into account their characteristics and history. Samuel Huntington said, “The military ethic is a constant standard by which it is possible to judge the professionalism of an officer corps anywhere anytime.”

The US-India-Japan Trilateral: Economic Foundation for a Grand Strategy

By Hemal Shah

What happens when the world’s oldest, largest, and most responsible democracies meet? 

What happens when the world’s oldest, largest, and most responsible democracies meet? Six years ago, the United States, India and Japan set up their first official trilateral meeting and decided to meet annually. Together, they represent 25 percent of the world’s population and 35 percent of global GDP. Common goals of economic development, managing China’s territorial aggression in South and East Asia, and preservation of the liberal democratic order bind them together. Undoubtedly, they make a compelling strategic logic to come forward and work together to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

But so far, this trilateral has failed to graduate from constructive symbolism to actual substance. The absence of a robust economic foundation is stunting its strategic potential. A deeper economic engagement will enmesh each other’s priorities, giving shape and form to their strategic goals in the Indo-Pacific region.

Skeptics are right when they question the real value of this partnership: The Obama Administration’s “pivot to Asia” is arguably dead and Asian allies and partners are rethinking their reliance on the United States. In a last-ditch effort, despite his unpredictability, hopes are pinned on President Trump’s promise of standing up to China’s belligerence. In India, one wonders if Prime Minister Modi’s “Look East” policy involves the United States, or is a strategy to exclusively strengthen East Asian camaraderie. India is still a developing country, remains uncomfortable with any labels of “alliances,” and its relationship with Japan is largely defined by development assistance rather a trade partnership. Meanwhile, the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership and Trump’s inward-looking trade policies signal a huge blow to Prime Minister Abe’s attempt at addressing Japan’s economic woes.

India Hopes Donald Trump Will Solve the Pakistan Problem

by Alyssa Ayres

For those of us in Washington, the days since President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration have been head-spinning. The executive order banning citizens of seven countries from entry into the United States produced mass protests across the United States. A rejig of the National Security Council has raised questions about its politicization. Angry tweets on Mexico, Australia, Iran, Berkeley, Democrats, Chicago, numerous corporations, and many other targets have ushered in a high-speed news cycle centered on Twitter, and disrupted the more sedate pace of both foreign and domestic policy that many of us had grown used to. (Disclosure: I supported the Hillary Clinton campaign.) 

But not everyone is shellshocked. Some in India hope the tough talk and blunt approach from the White House will deliver results it has long sought on the question of Pakistan. India hopes that Trump’s willingness to overturn the status quo will pay off with a harder American line on Pakistan that forces it to finally deal with the terrorists who find sanctuary on its territory. U.S. Trump supporter Shalabh Kumar, founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition and a major donor to the campaign, has said that he expects Trump to approve a bill to “declare Pakistan a terrorist state.” 

Trump’s unpredictable approach to foreign policy—just take the surprise telephone lambasting of the Australian prime minister, one of the United States’ staunchest allies, for starters—may very well offer a policy opening for India on Pakistan. Trump has declared a high priority for counterterrorism in his administration. Pakistan, as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously declared, has long been an “international migraine,” a policy conundrum important as well as insoluble. Successive U.S. administrations have tried limited sanctions as well as inducements in efforts to incentivize Pakistan to tackle terrorism emanating from its soil and curb its nuclear weapons program. 

What Is A Bad Bank And Does India Need One?

Subhomoy Bhattacharjee 

India has limited experience with bad bank. But, with the recent surge in NPAs, there is a need for a bad bank to take out the bad loans from the books.

What Is A Bad Bank?

Bad bank is not a new concept. One of the early examples of a bad bank was demonstrated in Spain in response to its banking crisis that began from 1978. Corporacion Bancaria was set up with an equal partnership between private banks and the Bank of Spain. It was expanded to become the Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF). The fund acquired the bad loans of banks to sell them off. The DGF was able to clean up its exercise in slightly above a year, but the cost was mostly borne by the taxpayers. The experience was repeated by Mellon Bank in the US that bought up about $ 1.4 billion of bad loans, mostly extracted from the real estate and energy sector. Down the road another entity named Grant Street national bank was carved out of Mellon Bank. This too was wound up by 1995 after its objective was broadly met.

In the process two broad formats of bad banks have emerged. The first is one where a specific bank assumes the assets of a single bank. This was the case for like the one created by Swiss National Bank(SNB) for UBS post 2008, in the form of a fund called SNB Stabilisation Fund. India had a limited experience with this form in the UTI 64 saga. The bad assets of UTI were housed in a separate company. The second option is a national or a sub-national entity to address a broader systemic problem of bad loans. Both can be further differentiated based on whether there is significant government funding or has been generated mostly through private participation. Experience gleaned from the Spanish crisis and later ones show that a system wide problem requires governmental support which in turn means it has to be paid for by the taxpayers. A corollary of that cost is that this can gain public support only if the unsuccessful owners and managers of the distressed assets are removed from their position. The latest Economic Survey discusses several aspects of bad banks but gives this issue a miss.

Trump travel ban, other pressures lead Pakistan to rein in Islamist militants

By Pamela Constable

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — To U.S. and international officials, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is a terrorist who orchestrated a bloody urban siege that killed 166 people in India in 2008. But to his many devout followers in Pakistan, he is a champion of Islamic values and Kashmiri independence from India. 

To U.S. and international officials, Shakil Afridi is a courageous man who helped the United States track down and kill Osama bin Laden in 2011. But to many Pakistanis, he is a traitor who sold his services to a Western adversary of Islam and should remain in prison. 

Therein lies the conundrum facing Pakistani officials today as they scramble to forestall punitive actions by the Trump administration — and ease pressure from other foreign partners, including China — without provoking turmoil at home, especially among Muslim militants the state has long coddled as proxies against India. 

Suddenly confronted with a U.S. president who has declared war against Islamist extremism and has expressed little interest in the long history of political accommodation and security alliances between Washington and Islamabad, officials here are seeking a middle ground that may no longer exist. 

The disarray was evident in clashing public statements by two government officials concerning the draconian travel ban imposed by Trump last week on all visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. 

China: New White Paper, Old Asia Conundrum

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Beijing is getting better at selling Asia a benign vision, but most of the region is still having trouble buying it. 

On January 11, as Asia braced itself for the next four years under U.S. President Donald Trump, China released a new white paper outlining its vision for the region’s security (See: “What Will Donald Trump’s Asia Policy Look Like?”).

More simplistic readings cast the document as either a notable win for China’s quest for regional hegemony or another boilerplate vision from Beijing that deserved little attention. In reality, the white paper captures the more dynamic struggle China faces in selling its neighbors a benign vision that many of them are still having trouble buying.

China: Asia’s “Shaper and Maker?”

Over the past three decades, China’s rising economic capabilities have begun to translate into a growing security role and a greater comfort in articulating its own ambitions as well as its vision for the region.

As a result, rather than just accepting and participating in existing arrangements and institutions, China is now questioning some old practices – such as respect for U.S. alliances or adherence to certain interpretations of international laws – and in some cases inventing its own bodies, like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) or the Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR). As one Chinese interlocutor put it to me at the Xiangshan Forum last October, when it comes to the regional architecture, “China is more and more not just a taker, but [a] shaper and even [a] maker.”

China’s Intelligent Weaponry Gets Smarter


Robert O. Work, the veteran defense official retained as deputy secretary by President Trump, calls them his “A.I. dudes.” The breezy moniker belies their serious task: The dudes have been a kitchen cabinet of sorts, and have advised Mr. Work as he has sought to reshape warfare by bringing artificial intelligence to the battlefield.

Last spring, he asked, “O.K., you guys are the smartest guys in A.I., right?”

No, the dudes told him, “the smartest guys are at Facebook and Google,” Mr. Work recalled in an interview.

Now, increasingly, they’re also in China. The United States no longer has a strategic monopoly on the technology, which is widely seen as the key factor in the next generation of warfare.

The Pentagon’s plan to bring A.I. to the military is taking shape as Chinese researchers assert themselves in the nascent technology field. And that shift is reflected in surprising commercial advances in artificial intelligence among Chinese companies.

Last year, for example, Microsoft researchers proclaimed that the company had created software capable of matching human skills in understanding speech.



From the campaign trail to the Oval Office, Donald Trump has consistently proposed a kind of portfolio reassessment of America’s alliance system overseas. His initial meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May went well. But traditional American allies in Europe are still concerned. And Trump means them to be.

Last spring, the New York billionaire famously said that NATO is obsolete, setting off alarm bells from Washington to Warsaw. Just days before his inauguration, in an interview with The Times, he defended that statement — putting it in the past tense — while adding that “countries aren’t paying their fair share.” Now that Trump is president, there are two common interpretations of how this may play out: The first holds that his prior statements on NATO mean little. The second is that Trump is hell-bent on dismantling the Atlantic alliance. The trouble is, both interpretations are mistaken.

Trump himself has indicated more than once how he prefers to approach this issue. In a speech last April hosted by the Center for the National Interest, he reiterated that “our allies are not paying their fair share,” and that “in negotiation, you must be willing to walk.” At the same time, he stated that he wishes to strengthen traditional alliances. This ambition to “reinforce old alliances” was repeated in his inaugural address. Is there a fulcrum here?

His consistently stated position, over a period going back decades, is that the United States spends a great deal on protecting its allies and that its allies do not spend enough on defense.

For Greece and Its Creditors, the Clock Is Ticking


Both Athens and its creditors want to complete the review of Greece’s bailout program before the European electoral season starts in March, making an agreement likely. 

The creditors will oppose granting Greece substantial debt relief, at least until after German elections in September. 

Greece's fragile political system and persistent social unrest will continue to threaten the country’s membership in the eurozone. 


For Greece and its creditors, time is slipping away. Both sides have strong incentive to wrap up a review of the country's third bailout program by March. But despite the sense of urgency, a recent meeting between their representatives ended without a deal.

The government in Athens has balked at conditions creditors set for it to receive another round of funds, including pressure to introduce labor and energy reforms and to commit to spending cuts and fiscal reforms that would extend beyond the bailout program's end in 2018. The pressure to reach a deal is still high enough on both sides that an agreement is probable, but weeks of negotiations likely lie ahead.

Ideally, Greece and its lenders would like to reach a deal by Feb. 20, when eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to meet next. But their Jan. 26 meeting ended with no date set for representatives from the creditor institutions to return to Athens to assess the status of the bailout program. The Greek government wants the review to end before March so its bonds would be eligible for the European Central Bank's bond-buying program, which would lead to lower borrowing costs for Greece. (Athens hopes to return to bond markets by the end of this year.) But even if Athens and its creditors can strike a deal, the ECB may not include Greek bonds in the program because of its doubts about the sustainability of Greek debt.

In Ukraine, Fears of a U.S. Pivot to Russia

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met Jan. 30 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an effort to solidify EU support for his country. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump had a busy first week in office. Within days of his inauguration, Trump had already begun making good on campaign promises, laying the groundwork to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and temporarily suspending immigration to the United States. Then, during his eighth day in office, Jan. 28, Trump held his first direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During their telephone conversation, the two leaders stressed the importance of "restoring mutually beneficial trade and economic ties" between their countries. They also agreed to work together on foreign policy issues, touching on the Middle East, North Korea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. This last area of collaboration raised concern among members of the Ukrainian government who fear that warmer ties between the United States and Russia could damage Kiev's strategic position and lead to reduced support from Washington. As the Trump administration re-evaluates U.S. policy toward Russia, Ukraine's leaders are reaching out to other allies in the West while ramping up military efforts in Donbas. Still, these measures may not be enough to shelter Kiev from changing geopolitical winds.

The United States has been an important ally for Ukraine since the Euromaidan uprising in 2014. Once Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine, the United States, along with the European Union, imposed economic sanctions on Moscow in rebuke. Washington has also supplied Kiev with economic assistance while bolstering Ukrainian security forces with joint training efforts and non-lethal materiel support.

First on the White House agenda

Jonathan Freedland

Donald Trump doesn’t read books. He leaves that to his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the man rapidly emerging as the true power behind the gaudy Trump throne. Given Bannon’s influence – he is the innermost member of the president’s inner circle and will have a permanent seat on the National Security Council, a privilege Trump has denied the head of the US military – it’s worth taking a good look at the books on his bedside table.

Close to the top of the pile, according to this week’s Time magazine, is a book called The Fourth Turning, which argues that human history moves in 80- to 100-year cycles, each one climaxing in a violent cataclysm that destroys the old order and replaces it with something new. For the US, there have been three such upheavals: the founding revolutionary war that ended in 1783, the civil war of the 1860s and the second world war of the 1940s. According to the book, America is on the brink of another.

You’ll notice what all those previous transformations have in common: war on an epic scale. For Bannon, previously impresario of the far-right Breitbart website, that is not a prospect to fear but to relish. Time, which has Bannon on the cover, quotes him all but yearning for large-scale and bloody conflict. “We’re at war” is a favourite Bannon slogan, whether it’s the struggle against jihadism, which Bannon describes as “a global existential war” that may turn into “a major shooting war in the Middle East”, or the looming clash with China.

US Intelligence Loves the Tendency of Russian Soldiers to Tweet Military Information and Photos

For Russian security officials’ cell phones and social networks are again proving to be major problem when it comes to keeping certain facts out of the news. The latest example is the effort to conceal the movements of elite Russian troops between Ukraine and Syria. A recent example is members of the 137th Guards Airborne Regiment who were mourning the recent deaths of three of their own in Syria. Part of this effort included messages and photos posted online. Comparing this to earlier postings it confirmed that the 137th had indeed been shifted from Ukraine to Syria and was experiencing more combat there than they had in eastern Ukraine.

The Russians also got bit by this intelligence vulnerability in 2015 as more Russian troops and heavy weapons began showing up in Syria. At first the Russians tried to deny it, but they were done in by their own troops posting (on Russian social networks) photos of their presence in (and travel to) Syria. The Russian censors got most of those posts removed but not before they were seen by Western media and intelligence agencies and filed away. All this was good news for the Western intel people and bad news for their Russian counterparts. This sort of thing has been going on since the late 1990s and despite increasingly strenuous efforts to get the troops to be discreet there are always enough who disobey to give the real or potential enemy what they are looking for.

All this is yet another side effect of cellphone cameras, which have become a major source of military intelligence and this is especially true with counter-terrorism operations. For example in mid-2015 the United States revealed how a picture an Islamic terrorist took of himself with his cellphone (a selfie) revealed the location of an ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) headquarters, which was promptly bombed. Such incidents are more common with poorly trained irregulars, but even well trained troops have problems with “cellphone discipline”. This problem is a 21st century one and it has been getting worse.



In On War, 19th century military theorist Carl von Clausewitz differentiated between the enduring nature and a changing character of war unique to each period. Yet contemporary scholars and practitioners often fail to begin their analysis of modern military strategies by answering the question: What is the character of war, broadly defined? How do political actors use military forces to advance their interests? From the use of quadcopters by ISIL to Russian information warfare targeting NATO members, the character of strategic competition and conflict appears to be in flux. States that fail to understand these changes do so at their own peril.

This article marks the first of a year-long series of articles that will survey emergent patterns and trends in political violence, strategic competition, and military innovation. Paraphrasing science fiction writer William Gibson, the future of war is already here, it is just not evenly distributed. Rather than speculate on big structures and large processes, this series will take a relational perspective to examine evolutions in the character of war as a result of strategic interaction. Put differently, I will analyze war as a system and trace the emergence of trends as actors, locked in a clash of wills, combine novel concepts with available capabilities to gain a position of advantage. These actors — be they elites in the Kremlin, military professionals grabbling with the third offset in the Pentagon, or religious zealots adapting to survive as they defend Mosul — learn from each other and change how they fight. The character of war is the sum of these processes of competitive learning and adaptation.

Seven Leadership Lessons From Military History's Greatest Strategists

Toby Rogers

Military strategists can teach you a lot about leading a business team. Before the 1960s, there was no such thing as strategy in business. Strategy was for military historians and the future battlefield leaders being trained at academies like Sandhurst and West Point.

Quoting military strategists in business has become cliched, but it's still relevant; from carrying round copies of Sun Tsu’s The Art Of War in their briefcases, to team-building in the woods with paintball guns, plenty of business leaders have taken the actions of history’s greatest commanders to heart.

But what are the most powerful pieces of advice you can take on board?

Here are seven lessons that stretch back more than two thousand years and are as relevant in the office today as they were on the battlefields of Europe, Asia and beyond.
Lead from the Front

Follow Alexander the Great’s example and become a figurehead for success

He wasn't called Great for nothing. By the time he died at 32, legendary Macedonian commander Alexander had conquered most of the known world; creating an empire that stretched for 10,000 miles and encompassed the Mediterranean, most of Europe and even reached the borders of India.

A High-Tech Call To Arms: Mobilizing The Masses In The Twenty-First Century – Modern War Institute

by Nate Finney

Today, Americans are so accustomed to a large, standing, volunteer-based military that we forget this is an anomaly in the entire sweep of our national history. For decades before the institution of the all-volunteer force in 1973, national security in wartime fell to a large force dependent on a draft. That too was unusual. For well over a century and a half from its founding, the American land power necessary to compete with peer and near-peer adversaries was generated only at time of conflict and through the decentralized mobilization of volunteers into their own units, supplemented with regular and militia leaders. Admittedly, in between significant conflicts our security concerns were managed through the employment of a small core of regulars, and if necessary, state militia. However, when the dogs of war were either unleashed upon our nation or we let them slip to chase national interests, it fell to an evolving system built upon ordinary citizens and local leaders, harnessed by centralized management, to provide the bulk of those fighting for the country.

We could be approaching a time, based on the growing capacity and capability of current near-peer competitors and the greater integration of social tools into society for popular mobilization, when we must again be prepared to rely on mass mobilization in this manner to prepare our sons and daughters for war. This would require a shift in how the military currently conceives and plans for mobilizing its people for war. In short, it may be time to re-assess the military’s current ability for mass mobilization. This includes the ability to centrally control a decentralized process of mass mobilization that must occur in months, instead of years, and that may be required for strategic success against a peer or near-peer adversary.



The tragedy of Aleppo, the annual commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the recent executive order on refugees had social media abuzz with expressions of “Never Again.” Widespread disdain accompanied those stories, conveying a feeling that we have somehow failed to internalize the correct “lessons of history,” assuming for now that such lessons even exist. With those sentiments came a lot of hand-wringing about humanity’s seeming inability to learn properly from the manifest horrors of the past. Speaking out, “liking” a post, or retweeting a thoughtful article may help raise awareness, especially for a generation of young people who may never get the chance to meet Holocaust survivors. But if “Never Again” only means that modern states should never again allow genocide, then social media is only good for the expression of a sentiment with which it is impossible to disagree. If “Never Again” means that states should always intervene to prevent humanitarian disasters or should always open their borders to refugees, then the sentiment runs against the experiences of the past, however painful facing up to that conclusion may be.

The tragedy of the Syrian refugees today now spans two presidential administrations, and its effects have touched the interests of several Western countries. It is unlikely to be resolved soon, nor is it likely to be the last refugee crisis with which the world community will have to contend. The U.N. High Commission on Refugees recently estimated that there are 64,000,000 refugees worldwide, easily the most ever on record. We tend to focus on Syria for justifiable reasons, but there are peoples who have been refugees for much longer. The Palestinian refugee crisis will soon enter its 70th year. It is long past time for strategists and policymakers to acknowledge the long-term, global instability that refugee crises can create. The time to plan for these crises is before they happen. And to do that, one needs to think deeply and analytically about some pretty ugly history.

How to Survive a Russian Hack


Lessons from Eastern Europe and the Baltics. 

In response to Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham issued a joint statement on Sunday arguing that the measure would “do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.” In response, Trump took to Twitter. “The two Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III,” he tweeted

This invocation of World War III, which he also made in Charlotte, North Carolina during the campaign (“You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton”) bears a striking similarity to those aired by Russia’s state-owned media, as Anne Applebaum pointed out in October. Russian state media outlets favor headlines like “Are NATO’s Massive War Games on Russia’s Border a Pretext to World War III?” from Sputnik in May 2016, or “US Bombing Syrian Army Would Start World War III,” from the same site in October, and “Trump’s Victory Prevented World War 3” from November. Lately, Russian state media have suggested that Trump has been battling a coup to remove him from office since before inauguration. “Is the United States facing a coup d’état?” a British RT columnist wrote in December.

Bots, Blockchain & Artificial Intelligence

by Bip Khanal

On 2nd of Feb 2017, Rigotechnology was invited to attain “NYU Unblocking the Blockchain”, experienced an exciting evening.

Organised and presented by blockchain alliance (Presenter Ron Quaranta, Organizer NYU/Gilbert Maddock), CEO-founders (bobbonomollc/Bob Bonomo) and two new start-up (EduDAO & e-bit/co-founder Chris Rufo) for the day in NY.

NY BLOCKCHAIN industry is constantly evolving!!!

Workshop was focused on Blockchain deployment solutions types such as private, public and consortium; AI and Botnet phenomenon were presented as are in high demand, so far what I experienced throughout the industrial interactive session encourage me to observe and to write up my views on present and future advertisement and online trends and technological advancement.

Bytes on Online Media & Malvertising

Online advertisement business is multibillion industry suffering a blow due to concealment of tricky malware injected into advertisement products. Such kind of advertising is an intentional cybercriminal act and mass online pollution, malvertising on rise.

Hunting for evidence, Secret Service unlocks phone data with force or finesse

Aliya Sternstein

FEBRUARY 2, 2017 —On July 20, 2014, a missing Conway, N.H., teenager walked back into her home, ending a heinous nine-month-long kidnapping ordeal.

About a week later, police arrested Nathaniel Kibby at his home and charged him with the abduction. During a warranted search, investigators confiscated several mobile devices that may have contained valuable information in the case.

But there was one smartphone they couldn't crack, a password-protected ZTE. That's when New Hampshire State Police turned to the Secret Service, which has become a go-to federal agency to help police departments with warrants to extract data from password-protected smartphones and other devices for criminal investigations.

The information on the ZTE contained "a huge piece of evidence," says Sgt. Michael Cote, a New Hampshire State Police detective. In May, Mr. Kibby pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape, among other charges. A judge sentenced him to consecutive prison terms totaling 45 to 90 years.

As smartphones are interwoven into daily life – collecting text messages, emails, phone numbers, photos, location data, and chat logs – they can be incredibly important to criminal investigators. And since many of the phones that police confiscate are locked by passwords or contain encrypted data, law enforcement agencies are looking for new and creative ways of getting that evidence out.

MPs and the public are being kept in the dark about Britain's secret cyber war


The Ministry of Defence has launched cyber attacks but refuses to given any more information

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has made a robust and important speech on the dangers posed by Russian hacking.

Moscow, he warned, was “weaponsing information” and trying to subvert democracies through its cyber attacks on Western institutions.

There was also a piece of sabre-rattling: adversaries should know “there is a price to pay if they use cyber weapons,” he said.

The information Sir Michael neglected to tell his audience was we are doing it too.

Britain has put cyber warfare at the heart of its defence policy since 2011 when the Strategic Defence and Security Review set out plans to “ develop, test and validate the use of cyber capabilities.”

In 2013 Philip Hammond, the then Defence Secretary, said that in response to the “growing cyber threat” the UK was “developing a full spectrum military cyber capability, including a strike capability”.

This is not unexpected.

What we don’t know, because the Ministry of Defence is refusing to tell us, is how we are engaging in cyber warfare, the frequency of the offensives and which countries and institutions we are targetting.