23 February 2017

*** Why India Succeeded (And Pakistan Failed) In Keeping The Army Out Of Politics

Jaideep A Prabhu 

India’s solution to the potential for a military coup has come at a cost - the army has been unable to function efficiently and its role as a mute spectator in policy planning has left it unable to defend India’s borders as China showed in 1962.

Army and Nation acknowledges the myriad other factors that have flavoured the divergence between India and Pakistan but is nonetheless the study of one institution and the reader’s judgment should be restricted to the topic at hand.

It is not often that a senior government official publicly recommends a book by an academic, especially if the former is in the Pakistani military and the latter at an American university. However, that is exactly what Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan's new Chief of Army Staff, did in December 2016 during a gathering of senior army officers at Rawalpindi Garrison in the General Headquarters. The military had no business in running the government, Pakistani newspaper The Nation quoted Bajwa as saying, and the General asked the gathering to read Steven Wilkinson's Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy Since Independence (Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2015. 295 pp) to understand civil-military relations in Pakistan's arch rival.

*** The Pipe Dream of Easy War


United States troops in Latafiya, Iraq, in 2007, marked the landing spot for a resupply helicopter with green smoke. CreditMichael Kamber for The New York Times

FORT BENNING, Ga. — “A GREAT deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep,” the novelist Saul Bellow once wrote. We should keep that in mind when we consider the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — lessons of supreme importance as we plan the military of the future.

Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past.

We engaged in such thinking in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; many accepted the conceit that lightning victories could be achieved by small numbers of technologically sophisticated American forces capable of launching precision strikes against enemy targets from safe distances.

These defense theories, associated with the belief that new technology had ushered in a whole new era of war, were then applied to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; in both, they clouded our understanding of the conflicts and delayed the development of effective strategies.

Today, budget pressures and the desire to avoid new conflicts have resurrected arguments that emerging technologies — or geopolitical shifts — have ushered in a new era of warfare. Some defense theorists dismiss the difficulties we ran into in Afghanistan and Iraq as aberrations. But they were not aberrations. The best way to guard against a new version of wishful thinking is to understand three age-old truths about war and how our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.

FORTHWRITE Downside of upgrade

Iagine a batch of students appearing for their tenth standard exam and the rule is set that whatever marks the topper gets, the rest of the class would get the same marks, on condition that they wait for two years. Sounds crazy? Well, that is exactly how the Indian bureaucracy rewards itself through something called Non Functional Upgrade, which has become a bone of contention between the civilian group A officers and officers of the armed forces, who have been denied the same by the civilian bureaucracy.

So what is Non Functional Upgrade? As per a circular issued by the department of personnel and training, Government of India, ‘Whenever an Indian Administrative Services Officer of the State of Joint Cadre is posted at the Centre to a particular grade carrying a specific grade pay in Pay band 3 or Pay band 4, the officers belonging to batches of Organised Group A Services that are senior by two years or more and have not so far been promoted to that particular grade would be granted the same grade on nonfunctional basis from the date of posting of the Indian Administrative Service Officers in that particular grade at the Centre.’ This scheme was introduced by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2008 and was extended to 49 organised Group A central services for time bound pay promotions of every officer till the higher administrative grade (thus ensuring ‘one rank, one pay’ for most), irrespective of capability, performance or vacancy.

Therefore, in a country where every prime minister, chief minister, MP, MLA or municipal councillor has to face the electorate every five years, where every student has to compete and work hard for each mark he scores in board exams or competitive exams and where every company chief’s performance is evaluated in three months, our bureaucracy is exempted from such scrutiny. Performance and vacancy be damned, they would get time bound promotions. While barely 1 to 2 per cent of Army officers get to reach the apex scale of lieutenant general and upward, an IAS, IPS or IFS officer is guaranteed to reach the rank of director general of police.

How Congress Is Jeopardising India’s Security Interests By Opposing Modi Government’s Enemy Property Act

Nupur J Sharma 

The Congress and its allies have been opposing amendments proposed to the Enemy Property Act arguing that it hurts Indian citizens.

The opposition should ask themselves why they are willing to sacrifice national security at the altar of electoral politics.

It is said that laws are the cornerstone of a healthy democracy. But often, the very representatives of our democracy, who are entrusted with the responsibility of upholding the law in the interest of the nation, have not only abused the law but ignored essential steps towards the protection of its sovereignty. The Enemy Property Act, 1968, is one such piece of legislation that has been sidelined for decades because of petty electoral politics, until recently.

On 22 December 2016, the President of India re-promulgated the Enemy Property Act (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance for the fifth time. The Narendra Modi government has faced a united opposition against the amendments proposed as well as its decision to re-promulgate the ordinance. The bill passed in the Lok Sabha was repeatedly met with strong opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and if we take a cue from history and revisit the record of the Congress and its allies with regards to this act, it becomes obvious that this bill's passage will be a tall task. A public interest litigation (PIL) was also filed by a Congress Member of Parliament (MP) in Rajya Sabha, Hussain Dalwai, but the Supreme Court refused to entertain the PIL and observed that the matter of enemy property must be addressed by the state.

The Sufi must sing

Written by William Dalrymple

Behind the violence lies a long theological conflict that has divided the Islamic world for centuries. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, the bombing by a female IS supporter of the great Sufi shrine of Sehwan Sharif was an especially ominous development for the future of Pakistan. Sufism, and spectacular Sufi music, are two of the most prominent sources of hope, pleasure and tolerance in that increasingly violent and divided country. Now 72 innocent Sufis lie dead and 150 have been injured. By killing devotees in one of the most celebrated Sufi shrines in the country, IS were attempting to impose their obscurantist reign of fear and their right to shut down voices they disagree with, as well as striking at the heart of Pakistan’s cultural and religious opposition to their takeover of great swathes of the country — even Sindh, the Sufi “capital” of Pakistan and a place which had until recently resisted them.

The rise of Islamic radicalism is often presented in starkly political terms, but what happened in Sehwan this week is a reminder that at the heart of the current conflict lie two very different understandings of Islam. Hardline Wahhabi/Salafi fundamentalism has advanced so quickly in Pakistan partly because the Saudis have financed the building of so many madrasas which have filled the vacuum left by the collapse of state education. These have taught an entire generation of Pakistanis to abhor the gentle, syncretic Sufi Islam, and the music that carries its message, that has dominated South Asia for centuries, and to embrace, instead, an imported form of Saudi Salafism.

Behind the violence lies a long theological conflict that has divided the Islamic world for centuries. Lal Shahbaz Qalander, like Rumi or Nizamuddin, believed passionately in the importance of the use of music, poetry and the Shaivite-derived dammal dance as a path for merging the individual with the divine, as a way of opening the gates of Paradise. But this use of poetry, music and rhythm in ritual is one of the many aspects of Sufi practice that has attracted the wrath of modern Islamists.

A few years ago, on my last visit to Sehwan, I found the battle between these two rival forms of Islam already engaged. The largest madrasa in Sehwan was located in an old haveli not far from the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander. It had been recently renovated at some expense in gleaming marble, but was still only semi-furnished.

Saleemullah, who ran the madrasa, turned out to be a young, intelligent and well-educated man; but there was no masking the puritanical severity of some of his views. For Saleemullah, the theology of the dispute between the Sufis and the orthodox was quite simple: “We don’t like tomb worship,” he said. “The Koran is quite clear about this, and the scholars from the other side simply choose to ignore what it says. We must not pray to dead men and ask things from them, even the saints. In Islam we believe there is no power but God.”

“Do the people here listen to you?” I asked.

“Sadly this town is full of shirk [heresy] and grave-worship,” he replied, stroking his long, straggling black beard. “It is all the Hindu influence that is responsible. Previously these people were very economically powerful in this area, and as they worshipped idols, the illiterate Muslims here became infected with Hindu practices. All over Pakistan this is the case, but Sindh is much the worst. Our job is to bring the idol and grave-worshippers from kufr [infidelity] back to the true path of the Sharia.”

Which Asian Country Will Replace China as the 'World's Factory'?

By Matthias Lomas

Low-cost manufacturing played a huge role in making China the second largest economy in the world by 2010, compared to the ninth largest in 1980. Now China is rapidly moving into medium to high-tech manufacturing as its labor costs have risen.

“A decade ago, China wasn’t even on the map. Now they have the fastest computer in the world, even beating U.S. national labs,” says Michelle Drew Rodriguez, co-author of Deloitte’s 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index.

China’s transition is opening space for other countries to move into low-cost manufacturing, where China until recently dominated. Deloitte predicts that the economies of Malaysia, India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, the “Mighty Five” or MITI-V, will inherit China’s crown for such products. The consensus among industry and regional experts interviewed for this article is that India in particular will be the next top hub for low-cost manufacturing.

Manufacturing is central to a country’s economic development. According to a McKinsey report on the future of manufacturing, it “contributes disproportionately to exports, innovation, and productivity growth.”

China, the United States, and Germany are currently among the most 15 globally competitive manufacturing countries in the world. But in the next five years, according to a survey of industry CEOs carried out by Deloitte, the MITI-V of Malaysia, India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam are set to enter the top 15 most competitive manufacturing countries. They are the “new China,” the top economies for low-cost manufacturing (i.e., labor intensive commodity type products like apparel, toys, textiles and basic consumer electronics).

China Gets a Pay Raise

Manufacturing goods in China is now only 4 percent cheaper than in the United States, in large part because yearly average manufacturing wages in China have increased by 80 percent since 2010. It is in response to this that China, backed by billions of dollars in investment from its government, has vigorously moved into higher value manufacturing.

Dr. Jing Bing Zhang, research director of IDC Worldwide Robotics, agrees with Drew Rodriguez on China’s prowess in advanced manufacturing. “China is very competitive in this area. They are able to produce very complex products. They are able to skill up handsomely and maintain good quality. Smartphones, semi-conductors, robots, advanced manufacturing equipment… they’re even moving into airplanes,” says Zhang. As Chinese manufacturing becomes more high value, and workers’ wages are rising, low-cost manufacturing is moving out.

“This has been happening for a number of years – it’s nothing new. Especially shoe-making [and] apparel are already moving out to Vietnam, Indonesia, and even Bangladesh. China is really focusing on upgrading industry into medium to high tech,” Zhang says.

China Announces Reform of Military Ranks

By: Kenneth Allen

General Zhang Yang (张阳), a member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and Director of the CMC Political Work Department, announced that the PLA would reform its rank system.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not satisfied with its organizational structure and has been trying to adjust it to create a more effective joint war fighting capability. 2016 saw dramatic restructuring of the former four General Departments and seven Military Regions (MR), and the demobilization of 300,000 troops and support staff. The next phase includes reforms of the officer rank and grade systems, which are being implemented to address a number of systemic problems such as corruption. Less clear are the implications for how the PLA trains and fights, though the reforms are clearly part of a broader streamlining of lines of command and control. As China increases its international military engagement, another element—the mismatch between Chinese ranks and those used by most other countries, has become a driver of the reforms. [1]

Speculation about such a move began soon after the initial announcement of the broader reforms in September 2015 (gwy.yjbys, one, two and three, September 2, 2015, Bowen Press, November 24, 2016; MOD, December 19, 2016; 81.cn, December 19, 2016). In November 2016, Bowen Press, citing PLA sources, reported that, effective on August 1, 2017, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Red Army, the PLA would reform its basic unit structure. This will mainly affect the Army by completing the conversion of all remaining divisions to brigades with subordinate battalions and abolishing (取消 / 撤消) all regiments. The Bowen report also stated that the senior colonel (大校) rank would be replaced with a new one-star brigadier general (调整), and all other general ranks would receive an additional star.



After months of halting and costly progress, the Turkish military and allied Syrian rebels are in a good position to take the Syrian city of al-Bab from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). With the capture of al-Bab, Turkey will have accomplished the clearly defined goals of its “Operation Euphrates Shield” intervention in northern Aleppo governorate: driving ISIL from the Turkish border and blocking hostile Kurdish forces from linking their territory to Turkey’s south.

But after al-Bab, Euphrates Shield has nowhere to go, and, if Turkey’s gains are to be sustainable, its forces may be unable to leave. With Euphrates Shield, Turkey may have thrown itself into a Syrian quagmire. It has no clear exit strategy and only a poor set of options for escalation. Turkey seems committed to an indefinite but precarious occupation of a piece of northern Aleppo governorate that, perversely, may further weaken Syria’s political and territorial integrity and strengthen Turkey’s adversaries.

The Syrian regime is poised to take Tadif from ISIL, while al-Bab will likely fall to the Turkish military and Syrian rebels. (SyrianCivilWarMap.com, February 2017)

Russia Has Its Own A-10 Warthog (And It Was Meant to Be a NATO-Killer)

Sebastien Roblin

Like the A-10, the Su-25 was all about winning a titanic clash between the ground forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact by busting tanks and blasting infantry in Close Air Support missions. This meant flying low and slow to properly observe the battlefield and line up the plane for an attack run.

Flying low would also help the Su-25 avoid all the deadly long-range SAMs that would have been active in a European battlefield. However, this would have exposed it to all kinds of antiaircraft guns. Thus, the pilot of the Su-25 benefited from an “armored bathtub”—ten to twenty-five millimeters of armor plating that wrapped around the cockpit and even padded the pilot’s headrest. It also had armored fuel tanks and redundant control schemes to increase the likelihood of surviving a hit. And in their extensive combat careers, Su-25s have survived some really bad hits.

The Su-25 Frogfoot, known as the Grach or “Rook” by Russian pilots, is one of those aircraft that may not be at the cutting edge of technology, but still has seen widespread service around the world because it offers an effective and useful solution to the need to blast targets on the ground.

As such, its obvious stablemate is the American A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane. But while the U.S. Air Force wants to retire the A-10 starting in 2022, the Su-25 is undergoing extensive upgrades to keep with the times.

Also unlike the Thunderbolt, it has been disseminated it all over the world and seen action in over a dozen wars, including in the air campaigns over Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.

Nationalism: Russian Hybrid Warfare

By Cynthia Lardner

“People are bewildered, without anchor or perspective. Too many people have been left behind, creating a deep-felt need for protection. A need for security, not of a military kind, but of a social kind. The populist answer is: exclusion. Shut others out. Not just Muslims. Anyone who disagrees is the enemy. After the British Referendum and the US elections, you could hear: ‘I am the people’ or ‘We are the nation.’ As if the ‘others’ didn’t matter anymore. I reject this solution. Because where exclusion wins, freedoms suffer. As we have all too often seen in our history.”

These were the observations of Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission at the Future Force Conference.

Over 1,200 leaders from over 50 countries attended the Dutch Ministry of Defence’s Future Force Conference 2017 held in The Hague on February 9 and 10. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Dutch Minister of Defence, stated that the conference was organized to bring, “people together in order to create a more secure world.”

Opening the conference General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defence Netherlands Armed Forces, stated that “An uncertain future is looming on the horizon…this affects us all.”

Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert concurred, stating, “Security in the world has seriously deteriorated since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011 and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Unfortunately, there is little likelihood of it improving any time soon. We have to be realistic. We are living in a time of violent change.”

Illusions vs Reality: Twenty-Five Years of U.S. Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia


The U.S.-Russian relationship is broken, and it cannot be repaired quickly or easily. Improved personal ties between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin may be useful, but they are not enough. The Trump administration needs to temper expectations about breakthroughs or grand bargains with Moscow. Instead, the focus should be on managing a volatile relationship with an increasingly emboldened and unpredictable Russian leadership. The real test for any sustainable approach will be whether it advances U.S. interests and values, especially in the wake of Moscow’s reckless meddling in the November presidential election.

Key Themes 

The breakdown in U.S.-Russian relations is a product of long-standing disagreements about the fundamentals of each country’s national security interests and policies. 

The Kremlin’s political legitimacy is increasingly predicated on stoking fears of external threats and anti-Americanism. 

Moscow’s relationship with its neighbors will be inherently unstable due to persistent Russian attempts to dominate their political and economic orientation, and a yawning power and wealth differential. 

Better U.S.-Russian relations are impossible without a major course correction by either or both sides. It is unlikely that Putin will compromise on core Russian interests. Thus, unless Trump is prepared to cave on U.S. principles and interests, relations will remain largely competitive and adversarial. 

Trump Names Army Strategist as National Security Adviser

By Ken Bredemeier 

U.S. President Donald Trump named a new national security adviser Monday, picking Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, a military strategist who has spent his entire career in the U.S. armed forces.

Trump called the 54-year-old McMaster "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience."

The president, making the announcement from his Florida retreat Mar-a-Lago along the Atlantic Ocean, said that retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, who had been his acting adviser, will now serve as chief of staff of the National Security Council.

McMaster is currently director of the Army's Capabilities Integration Center, an Army agency tasked with integrating "war-fighting capabilities into the force" and with other government agencies. Trump selected him over at least three other contenders, including Kellogg.

A much-decorated soldier

McMaster will replace Michael Flynn, the retired Army general Trump fired a week ago after just 24 days on the job at the start of Trump's assumption of power in Washington. The new president said last week it was unacceptable to him that Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about contacts he had with the Russian ambassador to Washington in the weeks before Trump was inaugurated a month ago.

McMaster is a much-decorated soldier, winning a Silver Star early in his Army career leading U.S. troops in their destruction of 80 Iraqi Republican Guard tanks without U.S. losses in a battle against Saddam Hussein's forces during their 1991 invasion of Kuwait. McMaster has held numerous key Army postings over the last 25 years.

Three years ago, Time magazine put him on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world, calling him "the architect of the future U.S. Army."

The immediate reaction from members of Congress was positive.

Sen. John McCain, who has occasionally voiced concerns about Trump's administration, especially over foreign policy and security issues, said McMaster is "an outstanding choice for national security adviser," and called him "a man of genuine intellect, character and ability."

The Wars of Today And Tomorrow: A Conversation With Douglas Lute

By: Will Chim, Reporter

This month, the United States Institute of Peace hosted a discussion event with Douglas Lute to discuss “the wars of today and tomorrow”. Lute, former Ambassador to NATO and retired United States Army Lieutenant General, focused on ways that NATO has adapted after the end of the Cold War and also discussed which threats he felt were paramount in the 21st century, specifically the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), America’s commitments in the Middle East, and US relations with the Russian Federation.

Former Ambassador Lute began the discussion with the emphatic assertion that NATO is not obsolete when asked by event host Robin Wright, USIP fellow. “To say that NATO is obsolete misses 25 years of history,” argued Lute. NATO changed both politically and militarily after the Cold War, expanding to 28 members, reducing its troop levels in continental Europe, and deploying more diversely. Largely due to the resurgence of an aggressive Russia-despite that it was previously a NATO partner-NATO has increased its military spending and is deploying to regions that stand to suffer by Russian aggression. NATO has also stepped up in terms of advanced training and assisting in the fight against the Islamic State. “The only other time that NATO changed significantly since its inception was 1989-1991,” concluded Lute, as he emphasized that right now is almost certainly another moment of change and adaptation for the organization.

“We need to do more of what we’re doing now,” said Lute about NATO’s involvement in the war against ISIS, which the US has identified as a major threat. Lute further argued NATO can assist in institution-building and America’s long-term commitments in the Middle East, but to do so requires improved intelligence sharing between NATO states. While NATO may not be the ideal military solution against ISIS, the alliance itself serves as a bastion for democratic values, argued Lute, asserting that, “we are bound by those values to do something.” Wright followed up concerning issues of intelligence sharing and queried whether there is reluctance among NATO allies to share intelligence, to which Lute responded that there are traditional intelligence sharing protocols for NATO built on small group exchanges that need to change: “we need to open the pipes.” Pressed on intelligence sharing under the Trump administration, Lute deferred, and further emphasized that NATO intelligence protocols are established on a need-to-know basis, making any such conjecture difficult to confirm.

From ‘Dereliction of Duty’ to Trump’s White House


President Donald Trump on Monday named Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security advisor, a seasoned military officer known for his combat leadership in two wars in Iraq, proven counterinsurgency savvy, and a hefty intellect. But while Trump’s choice won universal praise in Washington, it remains unclear whether the president will grant the Army general the authority and access he needs to bring order and discipline to a chaotic White House run by political operatives.

McMaster, whose Ph.D. dissertation-turned-book in 1997 about the Vietnam War won accolades, has gained a reputation for bucking conventional wisdom as an officer in Iraq, and former colleagues say he has never shied away from speaking his mind or telling his superiors what they don’t want to hear. His award-winning book, Dereliction of Duty, indicted the timidity of senior U.S. military leaders who failed to push back against the White House’s political agenda during the early years of Vietnam, sowing the seeds for defeat.

Guards and Detainees Alike Left in Limbo at Trump’s…

Under orders for years to shut the prison down, commanders at Gitmo are now bracing for the new president’s “bad dudes.”

McMaster is also revered for battlefield exploits during both Iraq wars — the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq invasion — especially his textbook campaign against al Qaeda in in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005. With ideological firebrands in the White House with no battlefield experience in the Middle East, McMaster could serve as a counterpoint and a voice of experience in policy debates, experts and former officials said.

But McMaster enters an administration led by a president with a predilection for improvisation and who relies heavily on Stephen Bannon and other political aides that counseled him during his electoral campaign, making it uncertain that the laureled general’s strategic nous will be heard.

A brave new self-help world

Happymon Jacob

While it is easy to laugh off or flatly dismiss U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘un-American’ policies, a closer look at the larger context of his actions, articulations and their potential implications indicates the onset of a whole new world order, one that we may not necessarily like. The unsettling symptoms of a new world dis-order have been around for some time, but the election of Mr. Trump has now made it a near certainty. Are we then witnessing the gradual demise of the post-War world order, one that we often complained about, for a number of legitimate reasons, and yet clung to, especially after the Soviet alternative turned out to be a disappointment? 

The age of uncertainties

We live in an age of myriad uncertainties. Political and geostrategic developments around the world today could potentially dispel some of our age-old certainties, values we hold dear, and potentially throw the international system, as we know it, off balance. Not that international politics was ever a truly virtuous space laden with noble intentions. But we believed that it was possible to “make it a better world” and kept at it: British Prime Minister Theresa May just ended the party announcing that the days of remaking the world are over, without invading other countries to be precise!

A Resolution for a Peaceful Climate: Opportunities for the UN Security Council

In this brief, Camilla Born discusses the actions the UN Security Council (UNSC) might take to address climate-related security risks. She specifically looks at 1) the status of the global approach towards climate-related risk management, as laid out by the 2015 Paris Agreement; 2) the history of climate security debates within the UNSC; 3) the approaches the Security Council has previously adopted towards conflict prevention and how they might apply to climate security, and much more.


Climate change is increasingly viewed as the world’s greatest global security risk. However, the UN Security Council (UNSC) has not consistently or systematically addressed climate-related security risks.

In practice, the UNSC has predominantly focused on crisis management and hard security interventions but more recently the demand for investment in conflict prevention has grown rapidly. Supported by the confidence in global action on climate change generated by the Paris Agreement, there is a window of opportunity for the UNSC to take action on climate security. That is, the management of the direct and indirect consequences of inadequate or mismanaged climate mitigation and adaptation.



For special access to experts and other members of the national security community, check out new the War on the Rocks membership.

Next to a strong country lays a weaker neighbor internally divided by a long-running political struggle. Many yearn for unification with the stronger country, with whom they share cultural ties. But many others are determined to maintain their country’s independence. By overt and clandestine means, the stronger country skillfully shapes political events across the border. As the pro-independence party clings to power in this weaker country, their strong neighbor uses a variety of means — from coercive diplomacy to influence operations and bribery — to undermine democratic institutions. As the situation in the weaker country slips into violence, the stronger neighbor fabricates an official request for military assistance and announces it will send forces to “restore order” with the full consent of its weaker neighbor. Confusion reigns as a misinformation campaign, causing some to believe their head of government has resigned. Recognizing defeat is imminent, the head of the weaker country’s government relinquishes power to a pro-unification politician. The country’s military does not resist when forces enter from across the border. Soon thereafter, news outlets report that a popular referendum shows 99.7 percent favor unification, ratifying the fait acompli. No shots were fired.

At about the same time, far away, a nation of over 20 million people on the Mediterranean Sea is locked in a brutal civil war. Ideologically motivated volunteers travel from afar to join the fight. Major Western powers refuse to provide any direct military aid, but this only benefits the better-armed of the two factions, whose leader appeals to the larger country for support just as it is digesting its smaller neighbor. This leader receives aid in the form of weapons, military advice, and close air support. A long-time adversary of the larger country answers the pleas of the opposing faction, lending similar but less effective assistance. 

Fissures widen in the armed opposition and once allied groups begin to fight one another. They lose.

Along the larger country’s shared border with a different weaker neighbor lives a sizeable population that shares the larger country’s ethnicity. Members of this group genuinely live as second-class citizens. But the larger country’s ministry of information raises tensions by spreading fake news about the minority group’s mistreatment. This group then pushes for political autonomy and organizes pro-autonomy groups with mysterious external support. The leaders of this small country refuse to bow to minority demands, so the larger country threatens military intervention. However, when the smaller country mobilizes its military in anticipation, nothing happens. Recognizing the risk of a war into which they could be drawn, Western powers put pressure on the smaller country to allow their larger neighbor to simply annex those border regions where their ethnic group lives. Later, a different ethnic group on the opposite side of the country also demands autonomy and appeals to the larger country for support. Now under pressure from all sides, the smaller country agrees to come under the “protection” of its larger, demanding neighbor and is effectively annexed.

ICYMI: Discussing the Continuities of War and the Future of Warfare: The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum

by H. R. McMaster

Thank you to Nate Finney for the opportunity to participate again in support of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF). I thought that I might build on the previous essay I wrote for DEF on how to develop an understanding of war and warfare through the study of military history in width, depth, and context. Many of the recent difficulties we encountered in strategic decision-making, operational planning, and force development have stemmed, at least in part, from the neglect of history and continuities in the nature of war, especially war’s political and human dimensions. To compound the difficulties we encountered in Afghanistan and Iraq, we may be missing an opportunity to learn from those experiences. That is because four fallacies about future war have become widely accepted; these fallacies promise that future war will be fundamentally different from those that have gone before it.

The first of these we might call the vampire fallacy. It is impossible to kill this fallacy. It may go dormant for a period, but it reemerges just about every decade. In its last manifestation, the vampire fallacy emerged as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) in the 1990’s. Concepts with catchy titles such as “Shock and Awe” and “Rapid, Decisive Operations” promised fast, cheap and efficient victories in future war. Those who argued that these concepts were inconsistent with the nature of war were dismissed as wedded to old thinking. Technology would make the next war fundamentally different from all that went before it because information and communication technologies had shifted war from the realm of uncertainty to the realm of certainty. US forces would possess ‘Dominant Battlespace Knowledge.’ Under the ‘Quality of Firsts,’ Army forces would ‘see first, decide first, act first, and finish decisively.’ For those familiar with the TV comedy Seinfeld, we might refer to this as the George Costanza approach to war: US forces would deliver firepower onto a transparent, hapless enemy and then ‘leave on a high note.’ The vampire is much older than the orthodoxy of RMA. It goes at least as far back as strategic bombing theory in the 1920s. Today, the vampire myth once again promises victory from standoff range based on even better surveillance, information, communications, and precision strike technologies. The vampire fallacy is based in an important suite of military capabilities, but it neglects war’s political and human dimensions. It equates targeting to tactics, operations, and strategy. And this fallacy neglects war’s uncertainty based mainly on interactions with determined and elusive enemies.


A V-22 and a Marine.

It’s time to focus the Pentagon on warfighting and get it out of the myriad auxiliary activities that distract it from its main purpose. Secretary Mattis made his position clear in his confirmation hearing: “[W]e have to stay focused on a military that is so lethal that on the battle field it will be the enemy’s longest day and worst day when they run into that force.” That commitment, combined with President Trump’s focus on management efficiencies and willingness to disrupt long-standing practices, opens a window of opportunity.

Many commentators have criticized the extensive skein of activities the military does that have nothing to do with fighting, but few get beyond the rhetorical stage. It’s hard. Refocusing the Pentagon and reducing support activities involves painful trade-offs and offending powerful interest groups. Those activities exist for a reason and boast passionate supporters.

Nevertheless, the time is ripe to consider major changes that have been discussed for years. To get a sense of the possibilities, let’s take a look at some options:

Close unneeded bases (Center for Strategic and International Studies, Center for New American Security, Cato Institute, and many others have suggested another round of BRAC). Fewer bases means fewer military personnel doing support activities (and fewer civilians overall). Another round of closures would save an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion per year, once fully implemented. The mechanics are easy. It is been done five times in the past; there is a clear process, an established need, and a track record of actual savings. However, Congress — eager to protect local communities and concerned about future force expansion — refused the Obama administration’s base closure proposals for the last four years running. Senator McCain, Rep. Adam Smith and others recently have signaled a willingness to consider base closures. The Pentagon should move aggressively to take advantage of the opening. This is the easiest and proven way to cut unneeded overhead. If you are not willing to do BRAC, you might as well stop thinking about savings.

Stop medical research unrelated to war fighting (as Senator McCain has argued). Because the Defense Department has deep pockets, Congress has charged it with doing medical research on a wide variety of conditions from breast cancer, to autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Collectively, this research costs about a billion dollars per year. These are real research needs but they are unrelated to war fighting. The research should be conducted by other parts of the federal government, for example, by the National Institutes of Health. Advocates will oppose any effort to shift funding, fearful it might be reduced in the process.

The Former Secretary Of Defense Outlines The Future Of Warfare

By Nicholas Thompson 

To an engineer in Silicon Valley, the Defense Department can look a little old, a little slow, and a little fat. To the Defense Department, the smug confidence of young engineers doesn’t go unnoticed. Is it really better to work on an app for ordering sandwiches than it is to build submarines that can launch nuclear weapons?

Two years ago, Barack Obama appointed a new Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter-a technocrat physicist, an arms control veteran, and a professor at Stanford-to help close this divide. During his tenure, Carter set up a virtual outpost in Silicon Valley. He worked to make it easier for tech companies to sell things to the Pentagon, for their engineers to work there, and for their bosses to offer up advice. He even let WIRED tag along and write a profile of him. He also impressed the local royalty. “He’s been amazing,” Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, told me in an interview.

This week, Carter, who left office along with Obama, agreed to chat with WIRED about his tenure, the challenges facing his successor, and a White House that isn’t entirely beloved by technocrats.

Nicholas Thompson: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Ashton Carter: Sure. It’s good to be back with WIRED.

You put a lot of effort during your tenure into building bridges between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. How well will they survive your departure?

I think the logic behind them is so compelling both for the defense mission and in a different way for the innovative people in the Valley and other technology hubs that this gives me confidence that it will continue. The Defense Department has to adapt and be flexible and be user-friendly for people who have their own particular style of working and who have, quite honestly, some reservations about whether working with the government is a good thing to do.

Trump’s new national security adviser wrote a reading list for anyone involved in military affairs

Kira Bindrim

Facing added scrutiny in the wake of his predecessor’s resignation, new National Security Council chief of staff H.R. McMaster will have to learn from Michael Flynn’s mistakes. Fortunately learning is one of his favorite hobbies.

In 2012, while commander of the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, McMaster did an interview with the management consulting firm McKinsey in which he talked about the evolution of the army, as well as “what competencies our leaders need and…how, where, and at what point in their careers we train and educate them.” One of those strategies, McMaster said, was “to cultivate within our leaders a desire for lifelong learning and to provide them with the tools necessary for informal self-study and collaborative study across their careers.”

To that end, McMaster—a scholar of military history—provided a list of books any professional involved in military affairs should read, covering everything from ancient warfare to modern innovation. Now he’ll just have to convince US president Donald Trump to pick one up.

Here’s the full list (all text below is McMaster’s). It originally appeared here (sidebar a little over halfway down, on the left-hand side of the interview text).
General grounding

There are several essential reads for professionals involved in military affairs:

Carl von Clausewitz—On War

The author uses a dialectical approach to understanding war without being prescriptive.

Michael Howard—War in European History

This book is excellent, as is anything by this author.

Elting Morison—Men, Machines, and Modern Times

The author discusses the limitations of emerging technologies—specifically, he argues that instead of taming our environment, technology has further complicated it.

Williamson Murray—The Making of Strategy: Rulers, States, and War

This book helps connect military action to strategy.

Thucydides—The History of the Peloponnesian War

The Greek historian shows that the drivers of war—fear, honor, self-interest—haven’t changed over time.
Innovation and the world wars

Much has been written about World War I, World War II, and the interwar period—and about how these events changed the nature of war. The following are favorites:

NSA Split From Cyberwar Command Inevitable, Says Former Official

A former senior official at the National Security Agency says the planned split between the nation’s digital spying outfit and its offensive cyber military arm will happen, though likely not for a while.

Prior to the election in November, the outgoing Obama administration had moved to split the NSA, which is focused on espionage and intelligence gathering, from U.S. Cyber Command, which can conduct offensive military operations in cyberspace. Since assuming office in January, however, President Donald Trump has struggled to fill key government positions, like the national security adviser, making any immediate bureaucratic overhauls unlikely.

“I think everybody says it’s inevitable,” John Chris Inglis, the former deputy director of NSA, told The Intercept during an interview in San Francisco.

“The question is whether you do that now or you do that in a year or two,” he continued.

Inglis spoke to The Intercept following a speech he gave on combatting insider threats, entitled “How to Catch A Snowden,” at the RSA Conference, one of the largest annual cybersecurity events. Inglis was at the NSA in 2013 when Edward Snowden leaked a massive trove of documents to journalists on the surveillance programs.

US Military Is Looking to Add AI to Its Cyber Defense


The Pentagon's outgoing chief information officer said the Pentagon has already looked into IBM’s Watson platform. 

Data center consolidation continues to vex the Pentagon’s top technology officer as he prepares to retire.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen told reporters Wednesday. He listed lagging data center consolidation efforts as one of his failures.

Though his tenure has seen success in Windows 10 deployment, cloud adoption and new cyber assessments, he expects DOD will continue to work on data center consolidation and strengthening its own cybersecurity, Halvorsen said.

The department is slated to bring a consolidation plan to Capitol Hill in the next few weeks. And in the next administration, Halvorsen said he expects artificial intelligence to play a larger role in cybersecurity, possibly as soon as in the next year and a half.

“The way people actually individually move the mouse becomes very distinctive,” he said, adding that deviations from a user’s regular pattern could be a sign of a potential intrusion. “We’re going to learn a lot of lessons there … if we don’t have a couple quick failures, it probably means we didn’t cast a very wide net.”

Offensive cyber still in infancy, says Air Force official

By: Mark Pomerleau

Within the multi-domain environment the military is moving toward, the barriers between the domains of warfare should be broken and integrated in a seamless fashion. However, according to an Air Force official, offensive cyber operations from the perceptive of organic service capabilities are still nascent outside of Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

Offensive cyber operations are wholly Cyber Command’s domain right now, Brig. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, director, Cyberspace Operations and Warfighting Integration, said during an AFCEA DC event Feb. 16. “As we look forward the capability doesn’t exist with the services.”

One of the design constructs in the creation of Cyber Command was that it would act as an integrator and coordinator of cyber activities, namely offensive cyber activities, as to properly deconflict operations and prevent individual services from tripping over each other in cyberspace.

Given the joint nature of cyberspace and the fact that cyber warriors and cyber teams are trained to the same standards, the services are coming to grips with the need for an organic capability within their traditional mission sets.

Last year, Kennedy said, the Air Force came to the conclusion that there is an organic capability it needs to retain, not just with the service cyber protection teams, but some organic capability heavily focused right now on defensive cyber operations.

Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. William Bender has described this organic capability revolving around the Air Force’s five core missions — air and space superiority, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike and command and control. This might involve assurance of aerial refueling, assigning crews to planes, ensuring planes take off on time and they deliver their payload or complete their mission, all of which are dependent on cyber-vulnerable systems.

Laser comms from space gets another test


Upcoming NASA missions designed to demonstrate the feasibility of using high-capacity laser communications in space could eventually benefit bandwidth-strapped Defense Department agencies.

The U.S. space agency is preparing the next step in its effort to augment narrower radio frequencies with the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration scheduled to launch in 2019. (The mission had previously been scheduled for as early as this year.) According to mission leader NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, LCRD will demonstrate the data relay using laser and RF communications. It will beam laser signals almost 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) from a ground station in California to a satellite in geostationary orbit, then relay that signal to another ground station.

Meanwhile, Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC), led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is scheduled to launch in 2023 as part of an upcoming NASA Discovery mission. That mission will fly to a metallic asteroid, testing laser communications from a much greater distance than LCRD, program officials said.

In 2013, NASA demonstrated the ability to transmit high-rate data to the moon and back during its Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration. A NASA lunar orbiter, successfully transmitted data at a record rate of 622 megabits per second, or six times the bandwidth of standard RF communications networks now used for space communications.