8 March 2017

*** Pakistan: The Indispensable, Unreliable U.S. Ally

By Fred Burton

Editor's Note: The following piece is part of an occasional series in which Fred Burton, Stratfor's chief security officer, reflects on his storied experience as a counterterrorism agent for the U.S. State Department.

When it comes to combating terrorism, Pakistan is an indispensable ally for the United States. But as the two countries' checkered history shows, it is also an unreliable one.

Pakistan seems to be a constant center of terrorism and chaos. The Taliban and al Qaeda have long been present in the country. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden even hid out in his compound in Abbottabad, a stone's throw away from a military training compound, before Navy SEAL Team 6 took him out in a 2011 raid. Pakistani officials have denied that they knew about bin Laden's presence. But for those of us who have spent time in the world of counterterrorism, it's hard to believe that one of the world's most wanted people lived in the city for years without being detected by the Pakistani government or its intelligence agencies.

The raid took place only when CIA suspicions about the terrorist leader's whereabouts were confirmed by a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi. He used a fake vaccine campaign to obtain samples of the bin Laden family's DNA, pointing U.S. forces to the compound. For his role in the affair, Afridi was convicted by Pakistan of treason and is currently serving a long prison sentence. Afridi became a cause celebre after U.S. President Donald Trump made a campaign promise to have him freed. But when Pakistan reacted angrily to the suggestion, it became another bone of contention between uneasy allies.

Pakistan's turbulent history also includes a pattern of violence toward its leaders, who have been targets of numerous assassination attempts. In 1988, the mysterious crash of a U.S.-made C-130 claimed the life of President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq and many of his top generals, along with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Herbert Wassom and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel. Over a decade later, President Pervez Musharraf survived several attempts on his life. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was not so lucky; she was killed in a bombing in late 2007. 

*** More Questions Than Answers in the South China Sea

By Stratfor

The competition over the disputed waters of the South China Sea has heated up over the past few months. China accelerated its defense buildup in the area, installing weapons on its artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago and enhancing its presence on the Paracels. Vietnam followed suit and upgraded its defense in the Spratlys, while the Philippines considered taking steps to shore up its own claims in the island group, including Thitu Island. Adding to the tension, China seized a U.S. Navy drone and intercepted a U.S. P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft flying over the disputed areas.

Yet even as the competition mounted in the South China Sea, diplomatic relations between China and the claimants in Southeast Asia entered a period of relative calm. Now, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are laying aside their differences and heading to the negotiating table. Representatives from the countries met in Bali during the week of Feb. 27 and plan to hold another conference in the Philippines in June. The goal is to formalize a legally binding code of conduct to govern maritime disputes in the South China Sea, the world's busiest and most hotly contested waters, by the end of the year. But despite the temporary lull in maritime tensions between the countries and the cautious optimism of some ASEAN members — including the Philippines, the bloc's current chair — the meeting raised more questions than it has answered.

** Eat Your Spinach

Not since the days of Ronald Reagan has Russia played such a prominent role in US political life. After Donald Trump’s shock victory – greeted in the Russian parliament with cheers and champagne – came accusations of Russian meddling in the US electoral process, followed in January by the leak of a dossier claiming that the Russian authorities had accumulated (even more) compromising information on Trump. More recently there have been alarms over the Kremlin’s connections with and possible influence on the incoming secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and Trump’s now ex-national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The rhetoric emanating from US politicians and media commentators too seems to be drawn from another era. In November, a murky online group called PropOrNot went full McCarthy by releasing ‘The List’, designed to name and shame – or indeed casually smear – websites which it believes ‘reliably echo Russian propaganda’. In January, Fox News rolled back the years by announcing that there was ‘no Soviet source’ for the DNC leaks, and the title of a piece in the New York Review of Books – though it was soon corrected to reflect events since 1991 – asked: ‘Was Snowden a Soviet Agent?’ The Russian official media, in their turn, have been producing waves of anti-Western rhetoric for a few years now, but the Ukraine crisis and the sanctions put in place by the US, Canada and the EU sent them to fevered new heights.

All this makes it hard to shake the feeling that we are living through a deranged re-run of the Cold War. Of course, the idea of a reprise of the superpower stand-off that dominated the 20th century has been in the air more or less since the actual Cold War ended, the stuff of countless think-tank briefings and film plots. But it has gained particular force over the last decade or so, supplying a readymade framework for understanding the mounting tensions between Russia and the West – especially since the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008. For one current of opinion, that conflict provided yet more evidence that Putin’s Russia had reverted to Soviet type, bent on dominating its neighbours just as the USSR and the tsarist empire had been. From this perspective, Russia and the West are locked in the same old geopolitical struggle, an authoritarian power pitted against the world’s democracies.

** ISIS, the Taliban, and the Situation in Afghanistan

In the east (Nangarhar and nearby provinces) the small (about a thousand armed members) Afghan branch (“Khorasan Province”) of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is causing international problems. Pakistan claims Afghanistan is sheltering this group so that it can make attacks inside Pakistan. That is not the case. In fact ISIL initially sought to establish itself in Pakistan and India, not Afghanistan. In early 2015 ISIL sought to attract recruits from the Pakistani Taliban by releasing a video showing the leader of a dissident Pakistani Taliban faction becoming the head of the Pakistani branch of ISIL. The Pakistani Taliban continues to suffer from factionalism and that did not help ISIL which has had little success in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. Afghanistan, because of help from the Pakistani military, was another story.

This remaining ISIL in Afghanistan consists largely of locals (Pakistanis, Afghans and Central Asians) who defected from the Taliban (both the Afghan and Pakistan branches) as well as al Qaeda. While some fifty ISIL members arrived from Syria in 2015 to get the branch started, few of those foreigners have survived the lethal environment ISIL has had to deal with since then. The current ISIL members in Afghanistan were largely locals seeking to be the most uncompromising and scary Islamic warriors possible. In the last year there have been a lot more defectors from the Taliban. Initially most came from the Pakistani Taliban, in part because so many were driven out of North Waziristan by the Pakistani army offensive that began in mid-2014 (and is still not finished). Recently there have been more from the Afghan Taliban because of an internal dispute over who should be the leader or because more and more Afghan Taliban want to concentrate on getting rich by working with the drug gangs. But there are still Taliban members who point out that the strict form of Islam the Taliban (in theory) adheres to forbids the use of opium and heroin or profiting from the production and distribution of this stuff. The Afghan Taliban has long tolerated the drug gangs because they were a source of needed cash and that eventually the drug gangs would be crushed. But now many Taliban factions are seeing that relationship as a permanent one and that has contributed to the current disagreements over who should run the Taliban. ISIL remains uncompromisingly anti-drug and has sustained itself in eastern Afghanistan (and elsewhere in the country) by accepting these Taliban dissidents. That’s why there will occasionally be ISIL attacks in other parts of Afghanistan. That’s because a local Taliban faction, or a large chunk of it, joined ISIL. The senior leadership of the Afghan Taliban try to persuade these defecting factions to return. Sometimes that succeeds and suddenly there’s no longer any “ISIL activity” in an area outside of eastern Afghanistan (where ISIL has long sought to establish a base close to the Pakistani border and North Waziristan). In the last few months there have been several instances of the Taliban offering to cooperate with the security forces to destroy ISIL in a specific area. The government has never officially accepted any of these offers but the security forces gladly accept any information on where a group of ISIL is camping out or planning to be (usually for a meeting). That is believed to be one reason the American airstrikes against ISIL targets have been so frequent, and accurate, in the last year. These airstrikes are often quickly followed by Afghan special forces who are there to identify the dead, capture survivors and collect intelligence.

How India Can Build On Its Africa Ties To Counter Chinese Advances

Keertivardhan Joshi

The benefits of establishing strong bonds with Africa must keep India motivated to take on even the unfair competition that the Chinese offer

The recent visit by Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari to Africa was his second in two years. This had come close on the heels of President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit in June last year and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two visits, one in 2016 and another in early 2015. Starting with the last India-Africa Forum Summit, New Delhi has exhibited a renewed vigour in pursuing its long-neglected ties with the African nations. The primary reason behind these increased engagements has been to counter China, which has also ramped up its own efforts to have a larger footprint in Africa. Albeit India is far behind China in its quantum of trade with Africa, it has been steadfast in making inroads to the African economy.

This race between India and China has also made the world take stock of Africa’s undervalued economic importance in global trade. The attention that Africa received has helped it to take a relook at its partners and drift away from the donor-receiver relationship it has had with the Western powers. The US and Europe have for long exploited the region’s resources without actually helping the Africans set up a sustainable growth model. In this context, Africa also sees India and China as the new development partners, and is equally willing to have long partnerships with the Asian giants while learning from their respective success stories.

The African partnership is going to benefit India in multiple ways. Starting with strengthening energy and food security to gaining a diplomatic backing for its permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, the reaps of establishing strong bonds with Africa must keep India motivated to take on even the unfair competition that the Chinese offer. While China may easily undercut India’s stakes with its huge line of credits and investments, what may work in India’s favour in the long run is its strong Indian diaspora, its deep cultural connect and its proximity with the African continent. Along with these natural advantages, India should look to craft a strategy to mitigate the Chinese competition.

Lawmakers’ Letters Endorse McCain Plan To Reinforce Pacific, Assist Asian Allies By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

Graphic courtesy Sen. Dan Sullivan

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives is urging Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to budget $1.5 billion a year to reinforce US forces in the Pacific to better support Asian allies, stiffening their spines against Chinese intimidation. Known as the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative and endorsed by the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, it’s a proposal first put forward by Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain. You can read the different letters from the House and Senate below.

Both documents warn against the rising power of China. The Senators also cite the threat of North Korea and of Russian forces in the Pacific. For its part, the more detailed House letter explicitly likens the McCain plan to the European Reassurance Initiative, created after the Russian conquest of Crimea to reassure US allies in the region. The representatives add the initiative could fund expanded international exercises, investments in infrastructure and munitions, and increased presence of US forces.

China seeks world leadership role in Internet governance

ByAssociated Press

In Photo: In this April 28, 2016, file photo, a visitor browses a booklet at a social-network company booth that enable people to connect global clients during the 2016 Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing. Chinese officials on Thursday laid out an argument for China to play a leading role in global internet governance as they solicited international support for a new framework based on regulation and order rather than Western values of unfettered access and openness.

BEIJING—Chinese officials on Thursday laid out an argument for China to play a leading role in global Internet governance as they solicited international support for a new framework based on regulation and order rather than Western values of unfettered access and openness.

Speaking in Beijing, foreign ministry and cyber-space affairs officials unveiled China’s first cyber policy paper while stating that China would beef up its cyber-warfare capacities to defend against foreign threats.

“Cyber attacks, cyber espionage, surveillance have become major issues confronting all countries,” said the coordinator for the foreign ministry’s cyber affairs division, Long Zhou.

China has long defended its right to impose own standards in cyber fields, such as censorship, data privacy and business regulation in the name of national security. The new policy paper effectively codified the Communist Party leadership’s claim that countries should wield sovereign authority over all cyber-related matters within their territory.

China Warns Against Cyber 'Battlefield' in Internet Strategy

The strengthening of cyber capabilities is an important part of China's military modernization, the government said on Wednesday, warning that the internet should not become "a new battlefield."

China, home to the largest number of internet users, has long called for greater cooperation among nations in developing and governing the internet, while reiterating the need to respect "cyber sovereignty."

But Beijing, which operates the world's most sophisticated online censorship mechanism known elsewhere as the "Great Firewall", has also signaled that it wants to rectify "imbalances" in the way standards across cyberspace are set.

"The building of national defense cyberspace capabilities is an important part of China's military modernization," the Foreign Ministry and the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country's internet regulator, said in a strategy for global online cooperation on the ministry's website.

China will help in the military's important role in "safeguarding national cyberspace sovereignty, security and development interests" and "hasten the building of cyberspace capabilities", the strategy said, but also called on countries to "guard against cyberspace becoming a new battlefield."

Countries should not engage in internet activities that harm nations' security, interfere in their internal affairs, and "should not engage in cyber hegemony."

The United States has accused China's government and military of cyber attacks against U.S. government computer systems. Beijing denies those claims and also says it is a victim of hacking.

China calls for cyber sovereignty, stronger cyberwar defenses

By Gerry Shih

In this April 28, 2016 file photo, a visitor browses a booklet at a social network company booth which enable people to connect global clients during the 2016 Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing. Chinese officials on Thursday, March 2, 2017 laid out an argument for China to play a leading role in global internet governance as they solicited international support for a new framework based on regulation and order rather than Western values of unfettered access and openness. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File) 

BEIJING (AP) — China, which tightly censors the internet, called on Thursday for a new model for governing the web based on rules and order rather than the unfettered access seen in democratic societies.

Speaking in Beijing, foreign ministry and cyberspace affairs officials made China’s latest argument for being a global leader in managing the internet. Unveiling the country’s first cyber policy paper, they also stated that China would beef up its cyberwarfare capacities to defend against hacking and other foreign threats.

“Cyberattacks, cyber espionage, surveillance have become major issues confronting all countries,” said the coordinator for the foreign ministry’s cyber affairs division, Long Zhou.

China has long defended its right to impose its own standards in cyber fields such as censorship, data privacy and business regulation in the name of national security. The new policy paper effectively codified the Communist Party leadership’s claim that countries should wield sovereign authority over all cyber-related matters within their territory.

China's Quest for Informatization Drives PLA Reforms

By Elsa Kania and John Costello

Informatization is the core of everything the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) wants to accomplish. From high-tech missions in space and cyberspace, to long-range precision strike, ballistic missile defense, and naval deployments abroad, the ability to transmit, process, and receive information is a vital enabler. Yet in the current round of reforms, which were kicked off in late 2015 and are expected to last until 2020, informatization has received surprisingly limited attention, besides the typical lip service paid by the PLA’s top leadership. The Informatization Department itself, the PLA’s highest level driver for information systems modernization, has been renamed and reduced in stature and size. These changes, which could appear to be a repudiation of the concept, actually betray the important role that informatization has played in the reforms. This organizational restructuring of informatization reflects the advancement of this critical mission, demonstrates resounding confidence in the PLA’s progress, and heralds the arrival of newer, more advanced modernization efforts.

The former General Staff Department’s Informatization Department (信息化部) was responsible for an extremely expansive mission. Established in the early 1990s as the Communications Department and then renamed in 2011, the Informatization Department’s mission and functions have evolved along with the concept of informatization, thus growing in scope over time. Although the notion of “informatization” itself is infamously amorphous, this concept alludes to the comprehensive integration of information technology into the PLA and the improvement of its ability to utilize information.

The breadth of the Informatization Department’s purview reached its peak prior to the reforms, which saw the department renamed and downsized, with a number of its units shifted to support other organizations. Although the reforms will continue through 2020 – and details on force disposition are still forthcoming – the informatization corps appears to have been split along functional lines. The Informatization Department’s own successor organization, the Joint Staff Department’s Information and Communications Bureau, takes responsibility for high-level command and control; the Strategic Support Force appears to incorporate information support capabilities; and the CMC’s Equipment Development Department has inherited the research institutes and laboratories formerly under the department.

NATO And EU Need ‘Grand Strategy’ To Resist Putin, Says General

By: Sam Jones in Mons

Nato cannot deter Russia alone and must formulate a “grand strategy” for security in Europe with the EU, the alliance’s highest-ranking operational European officer has warned.

Sir Adrian Bradshaw, a British general and Nato’s deputy supreme allied commander, said in an interview with the Financial Times that Russia would remain a threat for as long as President Vladimir Putin holds power. He said there could be “catastrophic” consequences if the west lost coherence in its response “to a competitor that has his hands on all the levers of power”.

“It’s the responsibility of Nato . . . not only to be the architect and executor of military strategy, but to understand clearly how military strategy is integrated with the other arms of national power and to flag up where action needs to be taken in the non-military domain,” said Gen Bradshaw.

“We need to move in the direction of the ability to formulate in the old-fashioned terms, grand strategy . . . I think it has quite serious implications regarding the relationship between Nato and the EU.”

The threat from Russia is that through opportunism and mistakes and a lack of clarity regarding our deterrence we find ourselves sliding into an unwanted conflict which has existential implications

America Is Facing a Dangerous Enemy. We Just Can’t Agree Who It Is


Our ideological adversary is powerful, authoritarian, and spreading. And it is completely different depending on which government officials you’re talking to. 

America is currently engaged in an epic war of ideas in which the country’s very way of life is at stake. The struggle is reminiscent of earlier clashes against ideologies such as communism or fascism. The ideological adversary of the United States is powerful. It is authoritarian. It is spreading. And it is completely different depending on which government officials you’re talking to.

During the Cold War and World War II, American leaders largely agreed about what ideological battle they were waging, even as they disagreed about how to fight it. Not so today. Among those who believe the U.S. is engaged in an ideological struggle, there is division on the question of which ideology represents the greatest threat to America: ISIS-style radical Islam or Russian-style autocracy.

Donald Trump referenced the first enemy during his address to Congress on Tuesday. In pledging to prevent a “beachhead of terrorism” from forming inside the United States, Trump summarized the threat in three words—“Radical. Islamic. Terrorism.” Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism adviser to the president, wrote that in saying those words Trump had uttered the “key to Victory against Global Jihadism.” Gone were the days of Barack Obama refusing to associate terrorism with Islam and probing the “root causes” of violent extremism, Gorka rejoiced. Here were the days of recognizing ISIS for what it is—“evil incarnate”—and finally committing to eradicate the scourge of jihadism after 16 years of failed counterterrorism policies. 

Want to Win Wars? Fund Soft Power, Trump’s Generals Say


The president’s proposal to boost military spending at the expense of diplomacy and foreign aid won't lead to victory.

“We never win, and we don’t fight to win,” President Trump said this week, unveiling a budget that would boost defense spending by double-digits while cutting the State Department by 37 percent.

But those leading America’s military effort have never been more vocal about the need for development dollars and the indispensability of diplomatic efforts working in tandem with kinetic ones.

Take the new plan to to bring the fight to ISIS, delivered to the president this week. “This plan is a political-military plan; it is not a military plan,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “In the development of the plan, we have been completely engaged at every level with the State Department…Not only will it be a whole-of-government approach,” Dunford said, it’s “about a trans-regional threat.”

“Winning” cannot be simply about the military campaign. It is also about the “and then what?” It is about a solid answer to the question of to whom the military should hand off its stability responsibilities once the fight ends. Right now, the military’s leaders seem to be alone in asking the crucial question of what comes next.

“The grievances of the civil war have to be addressed, the safety and humanitarian assistance that needs to be provided to people have to be addressed, and the multiple divergent stakeholders’ views need to be addressed,” Dunford said. “We do need to have a vision of how our military actions set conditions on the ground that actually then become the platform from which Secretary Tillerson goes to Geneva to come up with a political solution.”

The upside and downside of swarming drones

I. Lachow

The US and Chinese militaries are starting to test swarming drones – distributed collaborative systems made up of many small, cheap, unmanned aircraft. This new subset of independently operating or “autonomous” weapons is giving rise to new strategic, ethical, and legal questions. Swarming drones could offer real advantages, including reducing the loss of both human life and expensive equipment in battle. But they also come with potential dangers. There is already great international concern about deploying weapons without “meaningful human control.” Proliferation is another danger, and a problem that could be particularly acute in the case of swarming drones. The risks posed by swarming drones should be considered sooner rather than later, before their destructive potential reaches maturity.



A senior military official told Pentagon reporters last December that U.S. military efforts helped remove more than 50,000 Islamic State (ISIL) fighters from the battlefield in two years. Two weeks ago, a revised estimate placed the total at over 60,000. With the potential for expanded operations against ISIL, it is worth reflecting on the lack of public response to such a large number. Specifically, why has there been such little reaction?

The answer might be simple – preventing future acts of international terrorism is a major concern of the American people. Polling suggests many Americans believe that military solutions are among the best policy prescriptions. While some might be surprised (or pleased) that the government has been taking the fight to the enemy, others might question whether such operations have become accepted too casually and are symptomatic of an American way of war. Ambivalence toward large-scale military operations have become ingrained in the fabric of American society.

Almost no one will dispute that the United States maintains the strongest military in the world by virtually any metric and that its global reach is astounding. In many respects, it is an apparatus beyond the wildest dreams or nightmares of the framers of the Constitution, whose fears of tyrannical rule by or through the military have all but disappeared from mainstream discourse. Those concerns have gradually been replaced by a host of others including force structure, priorities, and even defaulting to the military as an instrument of national power.

Today’s perpetual state of war, one without clean entry and exit points, has conceivably desensitized the public. As scholar and retired military officer Andrew Bacevich says, “today as never before in their history Americans are enthralled with military power.” Certainly, the Vietnam War was a turning point because that war served as a catalyst for massive policy changes. The seismic shifts, however, may stem from three reforms that occurred in 1973 with Congressional assistance: the Army’s transition to a Total Force Policy, the all-volunteer force, and the War Powers Resolution. While individually well-intentioned, the sum of the parts has arguably facilitated societal ambivalence regarding the use of armed force.


Dan Maurer

During a recent quarterly counseling session with an officer I rate, I found myself waxing poetic about the nature of “success” in our professional field. While we Judge Advocate officers stress that we are members of a “dual profession” (of arms and of law) and are held to account by rules of conduct and ethics of both, having two ways in which to quantify success does not necessarily make it easier to do so. In fact, as staff officers—a population that often feels more like the oxen and less like the plow—it is altogether easy to forget what true success looks and feels like. We are not the “deciders,” and not—usually—responsible for all the good or bad that a unit, command, or organization accomplishes. We do not stand out in front of the formation, accepting the unit colors, and we’re usually not the ones being interviewed or assessed by the historians of our trade.

However, we Mentat-warriors, burning the midnight oil updating slide decks and trackers, cross-planning with organizations to the left, right, below, and above, and interpreting our commanders’ guidance and intent into actionable plans do, nevertheless, have ways and means to gauge success. Whether you are the officer-in-charge for a staff section, or a member of the commander’s special staff like the chaplain or JAG, the place you sit is the source of your value: that is, you bring to the commander’s ears a specialty, a knack, a subject-matter expertise, or conceptual familiarity that commanders either do not possess, have shelved for the time being, or long ago forgot.

While I admit that my perspective is somewhat narrow, as most readers here are not legal advisors, I believe there is a more generic application to what I found myself explaining to my young captain.

Establishing an ‘unequal dialogue’ between the logistician and the commander

By Steve Cornell

‘My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.’

– attributed to Alexander the Great

Logisticians can be a misunderstood lot, which is probably why – if you believe the authenticity of the quote – Alexander the Great was so willing to execute them if he lost. They can also be guilty, at times, of complaining from the sidelines as ‘G3 snobs’ crack on and ignore ‘sage advice’ based on ‘impeccable data’. So how could this situation be imp

Eliot Cohen has described an ‘unequal dialogue’ between military commanders and their political masters.[1] The primacy of the civilian leader is acknowledged and adhered to, but the defining characteristic of the relationship is an honest and robust dialogue that ensures the leader is provided the best possible advice and support. Trust is implicit in this dialogue. I propose that an effective and robust dialogue is just what logisticians need to achieve with their commander.

Why the need? Logisticians must understand the mind of their commanders, and in return, their perspective must be reflected in their commander’s thinking. This applies in peacetime where materiel and personnel must be ready and prepared for operations. However, it should go without saying that the dialogue is even more fundamental during operations. Without an effective dialogue between commander and logistician, operations and logistics planning requirements risk becoming unbalanced, with logistic and combat elements potentially ‘unhinging’ each others operations at a time they should be working effectively together.

The upside and downside of swarming drones

Irving Lachow

The US and Chinese militaries are starting to test swarming drones – distributed collaborative systems made up of many small, cheap, unmanned aircraft. This new subset of independently operating or “autonomous” weapons is giving rise to new strategic, ethical, and legal questions. Swarming drones could offer real advantages, including reducing the loss of both human life and expensive equipment in battle. But they also come with potential dangers. There is already great international concern about deploying weapons without “meaningful human control.” Proliferation is another danger, and a problem that could be particularly acute in the case of swarming drones. The risks posed by swarming drones should be considered sooner rather than later, before their destructive potential reaches maturity. 

Even as debate surrounding the use of autonomous weapons swirls, a nascent subset of the technology is giving rise to new strategic, ethical, and legal questions. Swarming drones, also known as distributed collaborative systems, are flocks of small unmanned aerial vehicles that can move and act as a group with only limited human intervention. Last October, the US Defense Department demonstrated what it said was one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms. It launched a flock of 103 Perdix drones into the sky above California, where they flew in formation and demonstrated collective decision-making without human help (Department of Defense 2017Department of Defense. 2017. Department of Defense Announces Successful Micro-Drone Demonstration. Press release number NR-008-17. January 9.https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1044811/department-of-defense-announces-successful-micro-drone-demonstration).

Swarming drones – which have not yet been used in warfare but are being tested and developed by other militaries – come with a whole range of implications about what armed forces can and should do with the technologies at their disposal. They could have real advantages, including reducing the loss of both human life and expensive equipment in battle. But they also come with potential dangers. The risks posed by swarming drones should be considered sooner rather than later, before their destructive potential reaches maturity.

The Importance Of Teaching Arts And Literature To The Management Students

Sanjoy Mukherjee

Arts and literature can break open the stagnant chambers of management education dominated by linear thinking and binary logic.

Austrian psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor Viktor E Frankl, in his seminal book Man’s Search for Meaning, had identified in clear terms that the real problem of human beings in our modern world is not nothingness but “nothing-but-ness”. The implications of this diagnosis are deep and far-reaching. While it may appear that a kind of purposeless existential vacuum (nothingness) has engulfed the mind and life of people, a deep look at the behaviours, lifestyles and aspirations of jet-setters and go-getters among management students and corporate executives, the so-called torch-bearers of global economic progress, reveals a much deeper malaise. It stems from an uncritical bond signature to a worldview that celebrates and champions the logic of market economy, aggressive competition, linear undifferentiated growth, single-point drive for profits and relentless acquisition of material “goodies”.

The phenomenon of nothing-but-ness consists of systematic bulldozing of alternative models of progress and development in work and life that are still vibrant but beyond the margins. A random sampling of the usual language of conversations in the “educated” mainstream milieu will show an abundant use of such phrases as “great”, “perfect”, “absolutely” and the like. This often amounts to a vulgar display of arrogance that is hollow, distasteful, culturally impoverished - all pointing to a poor understanding of the life-world.

As the voice of the “other”, alternative modes of thinking and living increasingly face the peril of fading into oblivion. We hear the burning question on choosing life from German psychologist Erich Fromm: “To have or to be?” And T S Eliot makes the point sharp and clear in his three profound questions in the poem ‘The Rock’:

Manipur: The Ceiling Of Democracy

Priya Ravichandran

Questioning the legitimacy of state elections is not to cast doubts on the process itself, but to enquire the exigencies under which the state is being made to play this role in the democratic republic of India.

HIn the Shadow of the Gunmen. Image courtesy of Indian Express

Manipur goes to polls on March 4th and the 8th and the elections are important for the state for two principal reasons.

One, for the first time in more than 15 years, the BJP is putting up a strong opposition in the state.

The second, more importantly, Irom Sharmila in August last year decided to end her 16-year fast and use constitutional methods to achieve her objective of repealing AFSPA from the state. She has started the People Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) to contest elections in the state.

The irony is even as the election process in and of itself becomes more democratic, the election and the legitimacy of the elected government in the state seems to be eroding for two important reasons.

One, how legitimate is an election in which the state is essentially isolated from the rest of the country?

Manipur is in its 115th day of a blockade declared by the United Naga Council, which is backed by the non-state group of NSCN — IM, which has signed a framework accord with the BJP in Nagaland.

With Big Red Stamp, Russia Singles Out What It Calls ‘Fake’ News


A screenshot from the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry got into the fake news business in a splashy way on Wednesday.

No, not by creating it. That dark art seems to emanate from other, even more opaque branches of the Russian government.

Rather, Maria V. Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the ministry, unveiled a new section on its website meant to highlight articles that it considers to be fake news, including one by The New York Times.

Just in case anybody missed the point, each article on the Foreign Ministry website carried a big red label reading “FAKE” in English and a line saying that the information in the article “does not correspond to reality.”

End-to-End Email Encryption: Google Pushes Latest Project to Open Source

By Douglas Bonderud

Email encryption is becoming a top enterprise priority. Politico noted that after an increased cybersecurity focus during the election, end-to-end (E2E) encryption is “booming” as government officials race to ensure they aren’t caught unprotected.

The problem is that while tools such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) offer solid security, they can be cumbersome to set up and difficult to use. Google recently backed a Chrome app, E2EMail, to streamline the encryption experience but, according to Threatpost, has now pushed the project to open source communities. What’s next for E2E efforts?

The Email Issue

Email remains a go-to threat vector for malicious actors. Despite the growing use of mobile devices and real-time collaborative tools, email is a corporate mainstay for both its usability and the ability to create paper trails in the event of an audit or legal challenge.

Common email scams run the gamut, from classic phishing hooks asking users to download files or visit compromised webpages to authentic-looking messages from actors impersonating C-suite executives that demand immediate employee action. But cybercriminals are never content with existing options.

As noted by CSO Online, the recent Yahoo breach prompted malicious actors to create a custom-built phishing campaign that claimed accounts had been locked for “failing automated security server update” and prompted users to “update” their accounts. It’s a clever ruse — leverage the fear of an existing breach to compromise corporate email accounts.

Navy Starts Up Cyber ‘Top Gun’ School: Information Warfare Development Center


This month, the Navy will launch the cyber equivalent of its famous TOPGUN course for fighter pilots. The school will teach selected cyber specialists the best tactics to keep hackers our of Navy networks.

Much like TOPGUN, which is now part of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) in Fallon, Nevada, the new Information Warfare Development Center (IWDC) will bring top-notch specialists together to train on and refine the latest tactics, then send them back to the fleet to teach those best practices to the rest of the force. (Kelly McGinnis and homoerotic volleyball are, sadly, not on the real-life curriculum).

Getting the Information Warfare Development Center to Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is “the most important thing we do this year for information warfare,” said Rear Adm. Matthew Kohler, commander of Naval Information Forces. The center will reach Initial Operational Capability by “mid-March,” when Capt. John Watkins arrives to become the first head of IWDC, Kohler said at the recent AFCEA-USNI West 2017 conference in San Diego. As of IOC, Watkins will head a staff of 150 to 200 personnel, a mix of regular active-duty sailors, reservists, and civilians.

Kohler’s Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) command, which includes codebreakers, various intelligence specialists, and meteorologists well as cyber and electronic warriors, is itself less than three years old. Standing up a Warfare Development Center of their own will put information warriors on a more equal footing with the far more established aviation, surface warship, and submarine communities, which already have such centers at which to hone their craft.

India beefs up online defence capabilities with new tri-service CYBER SQUAD as threat from Chinese and Pakistan hack attack gets real

By Ajit K Dubey

The US and Soviet Union had their Cold War from the mid-to-late 20th century, and now, many years later, India now finds itself fighting a Cold Code War with its nosy neighbours China and Pakistan.

In a bid to enhance its combat capabilities in the virtual domain, the defence ministry is working towards establishing a new cyber agency to tackle attempts by Chinese and Pakistani hackers to break into its systems and networks.

'The tri-services integrated defence staff (IDS) is coming up with a unit to tackle the cyber warfare domain and it will be staffed with personnel from all the three services,' senior government sources told Mail Today. 

The head of the unit will report to the chief of integrated defence staff Lt Gen Satish Dua (pictured) who heads the organisation at present 

The IDS is a tri-services organisation that works directly under the defence ministry but has officers and men from the army, navy as well as air force, and is responsible for tasks and projects involving the assets and men from all three services.

'The forces have already started pooling their resources in the cyber domain under the new agency, which would be headed by a major general-rank officer.

NATO cyber exercise incorporates ‘cyber-kinetic’ engagement

 By Tony Ware

Participants in a recent exercise organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence experienced an element of cyber-kinetic engagement during a responsive defense scenario.

Crossed Swords 2017, an early February operation by the Tallinn, Estonia-based international military organization, focused on developing the tactical execution skills of specialists to fill the roll of the attacking team in sister exercise Locked Shields

Penetration testers, digital forensics professionals, situational awareness experts and members of special forces were tasked with retrieving electronic equipment and data storage devices as part of a realistic mission to regain control of a specific military system.

Once prepared, these “opposing forces” for Locked Shields assist in the training of evidence gathering and information analysis for technical attribution as well as identifying and stopping malicious activities.

More information on Crossed Swords 2017 and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence can be found at CCDCOE.org.