15 May 2017

North Korea Crisis: Neither Gone nor Forgotten

By George Friedman

The crisis with North Korea has quieted down. Or, to be more precise, the major media outlets have drastically lost interest in it. In truth, the situation is the same as it was while the headlines were filled with foreboding. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has reached a point in its nuclear and missile programs that it appears either to have deliverable weapons or to be near that point. The United States appears to be uncertain of which it is but finds both unacceptable. Its policy, stretching back many administrations, is that the United States cannot live with a nuclear North Korea because it cannot be certain of Pyongyang’s intention. Nuclear weapons in North Korea’s hands could threaten Tokyo and Seoul immediately and, later, as the North’s missile program matures, the United States.

The United States continues to maintain a carrier battle group, along with at least one reported submarine, near the Korean Peninsula. U.S. strategic aircraft based in Guam remain available for a strike. North Korea still has masses of artillery, guarded by air defense systems, in place to threaten Seoul. Nothing has happened in the past few weeks that ought to have calmed the situation, yet here we are.

The U.S. government is the reason for that. Administrations know how to promote or demote a foreign crisis. They do this simply and inexpensively by using the media’s short attention span. The threats that President Donald Trump’s administration was issuing against North Korea generated focused and intense interest. By halting the alarming statements, or repositioning them so they are issued by someone outside the White House, the media’s attention drifts elsewhere. The media, regardless of its feelings toward an administration, still has its attention controlled by the administration. This is a paradox we should all ponder. If there is no White House announcement, there is no “crisis.”

** Russia Regains Its Momentum Across Eurasia

The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union will soon gain more clout across Eurasia.

The region's precarious security environment and Europe's persistent divisions will force the blocs' members to cooperate more closely with Moscow.

But membership in the CSTO and Eurasian Economic Union won't expand in the near future, limiting their use to Russia as a means of wielding influence in its periphery.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has worked hard to rebuild its influence in its former states. But the buffers the country once had, stretching from the Baltic states to Central Asia, have become more independent as time has passed. Though some have remained allies, others have formed new ties, more often than not with the West. For Russia, securing these borderlands is imperative, and it has used the tools at its disposal — including military cooperation and economic blocs — to do so. Until now, these organizations intended to bind Eurasia closer to Moscow haven't quite hit their stride. But the region is changing, in a way that may directly help further the Kremlin's goals.
From One Union to Another

The first institution Russia built to succeed the Soviet Union was the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It comprised all of the former Soviet republics with the exception of the Baltic states, which sought out partnerships with the European Union and NATO after gaining independence. Though the CIS was meant to replace the political, economic and security cooperation that existed before the Soviet Union fell, the group became largely symbolic, and its members developed domestic and foreign policies on their own. Eventually, Georgia, Ukraine and Turkmenistan left the bloc as tensions with Russia rose, leaving only nine official members behind. (Ukraine and Turkmenistan, however, remained associate members.)

** How will the Belt and Road Initiative advance China’s interests?

On May 14-15, Chinese President Xi Jinping will host the leaders of 28 countries and representatives from several other countries at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Announced in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (also known as One Belt, One Road or OBOR) aims to strengthen China’s connectivity with the world. It combines new and old projects, covers an expansive geographic scope, and includes efforts to strengthen hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure, and cultural ties. At present, the plan extends to 65 countries with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $23 trillion and includes some 4.4 billion people.

The below map traces China’s infrastructure projects. It covers all Eurasian states and other countries that are attending the Belt and Road Forum. The shading of each country is determined by the intensity of its bilateral trade with China. Secondary filters – such as Chinese investment and the Human Development Index – can be selected from the scrollable panel to the right of the map. Infrastructure data provided by Reconnecting Asia.

Supporting a diverse array of infrastructure projects throughout Eurasia and beyond could serve to strengthen China’s economic and security interests. China’s economic prowess has been the primary driver of its growing international clout. If China is successful at leveraging its economic resources towards supporting foreign infrastructure projects, China could stand to make significant political gains. For example, Chinese influence over strategic infrastructure, such as pipelines and ports, could serve a dual purpose of providing a means for securing China’s interests abroad and guaranteeing reliable transportation of critical resources to China.

* Sending More Troops to Afghanistan Won’t Win the War


The Trump administration recently announced that additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan. The move is a mistake and fails to recognize that the foundational problem of the ongoing conflict is political and diplomatic—and will not be solved by the military.

Trump has yet to recognize this reality and is already falling into the same pattern that afflicted previous administrations. In April, the president ordered the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal to be dropped on a target in Afghanistan. The “mother of all bombs,” is a 30-foot-long, GPS-guided munition that weighs 21,600 pounds. 

As impressive as the impact appeared on photographic images, and even though successful on the tactical level, the massive bomb strike will have no strategic effect on the outcome of the war. The last two presidents, covering 16 years of operations, also tried—and failed—to end the war by using progressively more combat power.

Shortly after his inauguration, President Obama expanded the number of troops in Afghanistan by nearly 20,000, and he ordered an additional 30,000 just months later. By the summer of 2011, there were more than 100,000 U.S. combat troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Despite repeated optimistic statements from U.S. military commanders, however, the Taliban and other insurgent groups were not defeated. This outcome was predictable and shouldn’t have taken administration officials by surprise—though many call for the same policies today.

Typology of internet shutdowns in Kashmir

Pranay Kotasthane

Three methods of varying intensity have been tried over the last two years

Suspension of internet services has become an integral part of the toolkit for preventing large-scale violence. In India, it is the conflict-ridden Jammu & Kashmir state where this strategy has been deployed with highest intensity over the last two years.

the valley has seen network shutdowns 28 times in the last five years.. India saw 14 cases of internet shutdown in 2015. This number rose to 30 in 2016. This year has already seen 17 cases of Internet shutdowns so far — and five of them have been in Jammu and Kashmir [Mint, May 4, 2017].

War on drugs: Challenges for the Punjab government


Most analysts agree that a dangerous mix of demand, supply and currency is responsible for Punjab’s drug menace. Punjab is both a transit point and a market for the drugs smuggled from the so-called Golden Crescent that is Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. While the heroin produced in Afghanistan is smuggled through the 553-km-long, porous India-Pakistan border, the opium, poppy husk, charas and hashish, among other drugs, come from the neighbouring states. This paper looks at the various challenges confronting the new Congress-led Punjab government in rooting out the state’s drug problem. It offers recommendations to stem both the supply and demand, as well as specific measures that can be undertaken by the government.


When a strategy fails to achieve its objectives, a visionary and courageous political leadership must change course, adopt new strategic approaches to minimise dangers and increase the prospects for success. Given the significant shortcomings of the existing strategy in countering the alarming proportions of drug addiction in Punjab, the state’s new political leadership was expected to look for new strategies that did not rely on political gimmickry or quick-fixes. However, while it may seem that Captain Amarinder Singh’s government in Punjab is making all the right noises, there remain huge obstacles in the way of finding solutions to the drug menace in the state.

Drug trafficking and rampant drug abuse have become one of Punjab’s most significant socio-political challenges, even threatening the entire country’s national security in many ways. The magnitude of the problem, especially in such a sensitive border state, makes it necessary to wage an all-out battle that may take many years to succeed, if at all it will. The drug problem has only gotten worse over the years, and was a major issue in the assembly elections that concluded in early 2017. During the electoral campaign, the then Congress Party’s chief ministerial candidate, Amarinder Singh, promised to eradicate the drug menace within four weeks of coming to power. It was a bizarre promise at the outset; rooting out a widely prevalent and deep-rooted problem in less than a month is an uphill task. However, as the election results demonstrated, the people of Punjab have entrusted Singh to undertake this fight.

Urban Naxalism: Strategy And Modus Operandi – Part 1

Vivek Agnihotri

The war in the jungles is fought openly. The war in cities, clandestinely.

Urban naxals are the ‘invisible enemies’ of India, some of them have either been caught or are under the police radar for working for the movement and spreading insurgency against the Indian state. One common thread amongst all of them is that they are all urban intellectuals, influencers or activists of importance.

A quick look into the accomplishments of all the urban naxals suggests that they have indoctrinated the youth by pretending to be concerned about social issues. However, my observation is that they never tried to find a solution to social problems. Dictated by the politburo strategy, they just exploit the situation by organising protests and mobilising masses which can be used for party building. They encourage students to take admission in different colleges and fail so that they can continue longer on the college campus.

For a student, from a poor or marginalised background, a subsidised stay in a government hostel, in a big city, is a luxury which he laps up without questioning the ulterior motives of his mentors. With the help of these students they attract new students and organise 'boot study camps'.

After killing militant commander, Afghan forces push deeper into Islamic State territory

By Pamela Constable
KABUL — Seeking to capitalize on the death of a top Islamic State commander, Afghan forces have surged through districts in eastern Afghanistan long held by the radical Islamist group as warplanes have pounded militant hideouts in the past week, officials said Monday. 

The offensive in Nangahar province is targeting Islamic State fighters at a time when their numbers are down and their leadership is in disarray after a U.S.-Afghan commando raid in late April killed the group’s senior regional leader, Abdul Hasib. 

It also underscores the intensifying focus on Nangahar, where on April 13 the U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on a complex of caves and tunnels used by the Islamic State, reportedly killing 36 militants. Nangahar, on the border with Pakistan, is a main route for militant fighters and supplies. 

As Afghan forces have advanced into some villages for the first time in months, Islamic State fighters are pushing back amid heavy fighting in several adjacent districts, officials said. 

Afghan officials said at least 34 militants had been killed by Afghan airstrikes since Sunday but gave no figures on Afghan casualties. The role of U.S.-led coalition forces in the latest phase of the offensive was not immediately clear. 

With major powers cosying up to the Taliban, should India shed its antipathy for the Taliban?

In the rapidly changing quicksand of Afghanistan, New Delhi faces some stark choices. As many countries reach out to the Taliban, should it jump in and start exploring options for engagement? Or should it wait for the proposed peace processes to take their own course and deal with the situation as it evolves? Will the ‘wait and watch‘ policy be strategically suicidal? Or is it the best course as Afghanistan traverses a difficult process of transition (inteqal)?
The new great game and proxy war

Arrival of the Islamic State (IS-Khorasan or IS-K) in Afghanistan, with its local battles against Taliban for area domination, would be complication enough for the security situation. Added to this, though, is an intensification of competition for influence between regional countries, each operating through proxies in order to maintain position. Ironically, some of the attempts to neutralise the IS-K have now been directed at making the Taliban more amenable for negotiations, a throwback to the time of 'good boys versus the bad boys' distinction. Infighting may have weakened the Taliban leadership, but efforts to undermine the IS-K has emboldened it and strengthened its negotiating potential.

Nepal joins China's 'One Belt One Road' initiative

Nepal on Friday inked a deal with China to join Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative to link Asia with Europe, a move that may worry India.

The decision to sign the agreement comes ahead the OBOR forum in Beijing on May 14 and 15.

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong and Nepal’s Foreign Secretary Shankar Bairagi signed a memorandum of understanding at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singhadurbar, Kathmandu.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat were present during the signing ceremony.

“The MoU is an important moment in the bilateral relation between the two countries. Roads and railways connectivity is important for us and we want investment in this sector,” Mahat said.

Yu said that the Belt and Road initiative will bring new opportunities for China-Nepal cooperation and South Asia’s development.

“To promote Belt and Road initiative, we are committed to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit are the defining features of the initiative. The Initiative is not only open to the countries in the region, but also open to the countries outside the region who are interested in it,” said Yu.

(Mis)construing China’s threat to the South China Sea


Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) operates in the South China Sea as part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) in the South China Sea on October 13, 2016. Diana Quinlan/US Navy via Reuters.

When reporting on the South China Sea, it has become commonplace for media around the world to draw upon think tank research detailing China’s developing military capable facilities in the region.

Some use the information to bolster campaigns to convince the US Trump administration that China presents an imminent threat to the country’s interests, including freedom of navigation. But the deepening drumbeat for the US to militarily confront China in the South China Sea should be considered with a healthy dose of scepticism.

One report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies describes China’s latest construction projects in the South China Sea, concluding that it “can now deploy military assets including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers to the Spratly Islands at any time.”

The rise of China’s tech sector: The digital great game

BY John Lee

Part two of this two-part series looks at how the outside world shaped China's internet firms, and how they are now shaping the international economy. For part one, click here.

The rise of China's internet firms was not a result of autarkic industrial policy from Beijing. It was achieved through entrepreneurial initiative to leverage what the outside world could provide in order to tap China's growing markets. Like all private firms in reform-era China, tech companies had to survive in an environment of 'structured uncertainty', in which government institutions did not provide the protection and predictable support needed to foster novel product innovation that could compete with foreign technologies. Instead, Chinese private firms became competitive by adopting and adapting foreign technologies, supported by local authorities happy to ignore Beijing's 'indigenous innovation' directives in the interest of economic growth. The tech sector's ruling triumvirate of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) built their success on technologies developed overseas, including the internet itself.

Like firms across China's wider information and communications technology (ICT) sector, the success of internet companies was greatly aided by returning Chinese expatriates who had gained knowledge through study and work abroad. Taking Baidu as an example, the firm's co-founders, chief operating officer and former Big Data Lab director all received their postgraduate education and foundational work experience in the US. From 2000-2006, Beijing's Zhongguancun technology park (the heart of China's ICT sector) registered an average of two firms established each working day by such returnees.

Exclusive Opinion Piece: To Be Or Not To Be With One Belt One Road (OBOR)

By Lt Gen S L Narasimhan (Retd.)

On 07 September 2013, President Xi Jinping made a speech titled “Promote People-to-People Friendship and Create a Better Future” at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University wherein he outlined the One Belt and One Road Initiative. He proposed that, “In order to make the economic ties closer, mutual cooperation deeper and space of development broader between the Eurasian countries, we can innovate the mode of cooperation and jointly build the “Silk Road Economic Belt” step by step to gradually form overall regional cooperation.”

He further highlighted five tenets of the initiative.

First, to strengthen policy communication. Countries in the region can communicate with each other on economic development strategies, and make plans and measures for regional cooperation through consultations.

Second, to improve road connectivity. To open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea and to gradually form a transportation network that connects East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.

Why liberating Mosul won't lead to the end of IS

BAGHDAD — Although Islamic State (IS) fighters in western Mosul are cornered within a steadily shrinking area that is expected to be retaken soon, analysts warn that the fight against the group in the country is far from over.

Hisham al-Hashimi, one of Iraq’s most widely respected security and terrorism experts, told Al-Monitor that the transnational terrorist group “has not yet fought at its maximum strength” and has left only a “hindering” force in Mosul, which was previously known as the group’s capital in Iraq.

He claims that many IS members are unknown by name to Iraqi intelligence and that documents found in recaptured areas of Mosul show that IS’ “hidden” men are referred to in their own records using only numbers and no names, making it likely that many have simply melted into the population and will not be flagged during screening procedures.

Moreover, in commenting on an Iraqi military announcement in mid-April that IS currently held less than 7% of the country — down from an estimated 40% in 2014 — Hashimi scoffed, noting that “this is only counting the populated areas. They actually still hold 18% of it.”

Europe’s Migration Dilemmas

By Michael S. Teitelbaum

Over the 60 years since the creation of what is now the European Union, the aspirations of its founders have mostly been achieved. No disasters akin to the catastrophic violence and political collapses of the first half of the twentieth century have occurred within the EU, which has instead enjoyed decades of stability and prosperity.

Since around the turn of the century, however, the union’s problems have been growing: sluggish overall economic growth accompanied by deep recessions and high unemployment in some member states; instabilities in the euro; and growing criticism of the alleged democratic deficits of EU institutions. These and other challenges have given rise to anti-EU forces across the continent, exposing the conflict between many Europeans’ hopes for deeper integration and many others’ aspirations toward national identity, sovereignty, and independence.

In early 2015, as the European migrant crisis emerged, most EU leaders failed to understand how their responses to it would add to the bloc’s existing problems. Few anticipated that razor-wire fences would reappear along Europe’s internal borders; that the Islamic State (ISIS) would take advantage of chaotic refugee flows to send some of its militants into Europe; that polarizing cultural clashes would follow from such episodes as the mass sexual assaults in German cities committed in December 2015; or that a leading cause of the 2016 British vote to exit the EU would prove to be the union’s immigration entitlements for non-British nationals. Migration and the policies used to address it have widened the fissures afflicting the European project.

The Cost of Fixing Russia’s Economy

By Xander Snyder

Russia is facing an economic crisis, and the search for palatable solutions has come up empty. Low oil and natural gas prices have hamstrung the Russian economy, which depends on the sale of hydrocarbons. President Vladimir Putin knows the status quo must change, but he has put off a decision on the path forward as long as he could, reluctant to face the negative political and social consequences of action. Details of a plan are now on the table, but if he isn’t careful, it could cost Putin the support of rich and poor alike.

A Man With a Plan

Last year, Putin tasked Alexei Kudrin with devising an economic plan for the future. Kudrin served as deputy prime minister from 2000 to 2004 and finance minister from 2000 to 2011 but has been out of government ever since. A well-known advocate of liberal economic policies, Kudrin will present his plan, known as Plan K, to Putin later this month. From what we know, the plan is meant to invest more government money in areas that are more likely to produce greater economic growth – namely, technology and education – without unduly increasing the budget. This would entail cuts in other areas, specifically pensions. The extent of those cuts was laid out last week in an article by Russian newspaper Vedomosti, which said Kudrin’s policy includes reducing the number of pensioners by 9 percent.

Three 'Black Holes' Facing NATO: Strategy, Russia, Weapons

by Harlan Ullman, United Press International

Black holes are not merely matters of physics. Strategic black holes may be even more confounding than those found in deep space. NATO, thus far history's most successful military alliance, currently must deal with three of them. The likelihood that this venerable alliance will do so is far from certain.

The first black hole regards strategy. Russian intervention into Ukraine and seizure of Crimea were chastening and frightening. So too, Russian "active measures" are roiling politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Russian engagement in Syria has sustained the diabolical regime of Bashar al-Assad. And Russia has become far more visible in Libya and the Persian Gulf.

While NATO has created new strategic concepts to deal with the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union, its last real strategic revision was the Harmel Report of 1967. Led by Belgian Foreign Minister Pierre Harmel, his commission was charged with confronting the threat of Soviet increases in both nuclear and conventional weaponry and Charles De Gaulle's decision to eject NATO from Paris, leaving the military side of the alliance. The result was a shift from reliance solely on nuclear deterrence to a strategy of flexible response to deny Moscow advantages at all levels of the conflict spectrum…

The Power of a Strong State Department


President Trump clearly admires America’s military. He has put generals in charge of the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, and he has called for a big increase in military spending. He was quick to order missile strikes after chemical weapons were used in Syria, and he plans to send more troops to Afghanistan.

At the same time, Mr. Trump appears to have little regard for traditional diplomacy. He made Rex Tillerson, a foreign policy neophyte, his secretary of state. He has left key diplomatic posts unfilled and proposed slashing the State Department’s budget by some 30 percent. Mr. Tillerson, who also wants to shake up the department, has already suggested eliminating 2,300 jobs there. Morale has plummeted, so Mr. Tillerson gave an in-house speech on May 3 that sought to convince his employees that their work was still important. But a pep talk is unlikely to restore the State Department’s sense of diminished status.

America’s armed forces are undeniably impressive, but Mr. Trump’s veneration of military power and disregard for diplomacy is mistaken. Many of America’s greatest foreign policy successes were won at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield: Think of the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country in 1803, or the formation of NATO and the Bretton Woods economic institutions, equally farsighted acts that enhanced American influence. Similarly, the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty slowed the spread of nuclear weapons and made it easier to monitor states with nuclear ambitions.


The panel should present its unclassified report within 180 days of the bill’s passage.

The intel committees come close to calling for the separation of the jobs of NSA Director and the head of Cyber Command.

They want a briefing from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis just three months after passage of the Omnibus Bill considering the “impact of the dual-hatting relationship, including advantages and disadvantages.”

It wants to know timelines for ensuring that no damage is done to national security should the arrangement change, any legal changes that might be needed and say “a larger organizational review of NSA should be conducted with respect to the eventual termination of the dual-hatting relationship.”

To that end, they also want a report from the DNI “on options to better align the structure, budgetary procedures, and oversight of NSA with its national intelligence mission in the event of a termination of the dual-hatting relationship.”

The Rise of the Global Novelist

Siddhartha Deb, New Republic May 4, 2017

How to read fiction from around the world in an age of xenophobic populism.

Read Full Article »

House Panel Set to Reform Military Space Operations

The House panel focused on national security space activities is set to explore reforms how the military uses space and could call for the creation of a new command or agency as early as next year, legislators said during a Tuesday hearing.

As Rep. Mike Rogers, (R-Ala.) and chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, said, “Far too many people are in a position to say no” when it comes to developing and buying needed space assets. “There is no clear leadership below the Secretary of Defense” as to who in the Pentagon is responsible for the department’s space activities.

John Hamre, a former undersecretary of Defense, said, “Candlemakers have to think in a different way” about what they are trying to do: provide light.

“We [in the Pentagon] need to break out of the tyranny of thinking we’re the only ones that can do it,” i.e., build, launch and maintain satellites.

Retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Ellis Jr., a former commander of Strategic Command, said current thinking about space assets is to ensure they are hardened against electromagnetic pulse attack and provided with protective devices for optics. Yet, “there’s robustness and resilience in having a lot of nodes,” private sector practice.

The political and military vulnerability of America’s land-based nuclear missiles

Jon Wolfsthal

The current plan for US nuclear modernization would replace the nation’s aging Minuteman III missiles with next-generation missiles known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, at a cost of $100 billion or more. As part of the agreement that resulted in the Senate’s approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty nuclear agreement with the Russian Federation, the Obama administration agreed to a nuclear modernization plan that includes retaining and upgrading the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). But from a military standpoint, these missiles are the most vulnerable and least essential components of the US nuclear arsenal. As part of its comprehensive nuclear posture review, the Trump administration should take the time to determine whether ICBMs fit into America’s nuclear deterrent strategy, and to consider options such as reducing or even eliminating them – which could be done with little risk to the overall security of the United States or its allies. 

“The nuclear stockpile must be tended to, and fundamental questions must be asked and answered,” retired Marine Corps General James N. Mattis advised the US Senate Armed Services Committee in January 2015. “Is it time to reduce the triad to a dyad, removing the land-based missiles?” he asked. “This would reduce the false alarm danger” (Mattis 2015Mattis, J. N. 2015. “Statement of James N. Mattis before the Armed Services Committee.” January 27.https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Mattis_01-27-15.pdf. [Google Scholar]).

The Military Needs Modern Ways to Attract and Manage Talent

The Military Needs Modern Ways to Attract and Manage Talent by Leon Panetta and Jim Talent, Wall Street Journal

Aboard the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier in early March, President Trump vowed that the United States “will have the finest equipment in the world—planes, ships and everything else.” But what good will this equipment do if the military lacks the personnel to use it?

People are the vital ingredient to America’s military edge, but increasingly they are in short supply. “The Air Force has a shortfall of almost 1,500 pilots,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford testified before a House committee in March. Similarly, the Army is offering bonuses to convince soldiers to extend their enlistments, the Marines cannot produce enough snipers, the Navy is straining to keep officers who operate its ships’ nuclear reactors, and all branches have struggled to build new cyber units.

These examples portend larger difficulties ahead. Even with the U.S. being threatened by enemies near and far who are evolving strategically and technologically, our military still operates with a personnel system designed in 1947 to fight the Soviet Union. Unchanged since then, this one-size-fits-all system for recruiting, retaining and promoting troops, treats nearly every service member as an interchangeable cog…

Multi-Domain Battle Will Require a Totally Different Type of Leader

By A.J. Shattuck

The strategic challenges posed by resurgent global powers have largely escaped the headlines of major news publications. Most citizens do not realize that Russia and China possess the technology capable of denying US forces the ability to operate uncontested in the western Pacific Ocean or eastern Europe. Given that preserving the current rules-based international order is a key security interest of the United States, this issue poses significant problems for the US military. Fortunately, members of the defense community are formulating ways to solve this new challenge.

Planners and strategists within the institutional Army are underway developing the much-publicized concept known as Multi-Domain Battle (MDB). This concept attempts to mitigate recent gains by near-peer (soon to be peer) competitors by leveraging rapid joint execution. In order to succeed, the United States must create temporary windows of superiority in a given domain of battle by using cross-domain fires, and then exploit that window to create temporary footholds with which to create further gains. Dedicated professionals remain hard at work creating new doctrine and even new task forces to optimize military efforts in line with this future warfighting concept. However, they are failing to make advances in one key area: leader development. Until the US Army develops leaders with the means, authority, and education to properly execute MDB, it will fail to adapt to an increasingly rapid pace of battle.

Trump’s latest draft cyber EO focuses on risk management, modernizing legacy IT

by Brad D. Williams

An updated draft of President Donald Trump’s pending cybersecurity executive order was published on Wednesday, providing a glimpse into the administration’s cyber policies and goals for the next four years.

Paul Rosenzweig, the founder of Red Branch Consulting and a senior advisor to The Chertoff Group, posted a copy on the Lawfare Blog.

The draft EO mandates a comprehensive review of cybersecurity across federal networks — both the civilian .gov and the defense .mil domains — as well as the nation’s critical infrastructure.

In a section entitled, “Cybersecurity for the Nation,” the EO outlines policies for “promot[ing] an open, interoperable, reliable and secure internet” and “support[ing] the growth and sustainment of a workforce that is skilled in cybersecurity.”

Like earlier draft EOs on cybersecurity and IT modernization, which were leaked in January, the draft published on Wednesday directly links cybersecurity to federal IT modernization, while emphasizing risk management, critical infrastructure resilience and “cyber capability advantage.”

Hill Intel Committees Order DNI, NSA/CyberCom Review


Ever since the day of its creation, critics have slammed the Office of Director of National Intelligence as an expensive and unnecessary bureaucracy, a threat to the longtime primacy of the Director of Central Intelligence and a toothless tiger.

Much of that changed during the joint tenures of DNI Mike McConnell and SecDef Bob Gates (former DCI) when they agreed to give the DNI budgetary teeth in a March 21, 2008 memo. It gave the DNI acquisition authority over any program that received 51 percent of its funding from the intelligence community’s National Intelligence Program pool. Up til then, the Pentagon controlled an intelligence program if even one dollar of its money funded it.

But some Republicans have continued to press for a diminution or dissolution of the DNI. The 2017 Omnibus Spending Bill includes what would have been the 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act, which orders the new DNI review. It “directs” President Trump to create a five-person panel of experts “with significant intelligence and national security expertise to review ODNI’s roles, missions and functions…”

A North Korean Nuclear EMP Attack? … Unlikely : 38 North : Informed Analysis Of North Korea

By Jack Liu

Recent press articles warn about the possibility of the North Koreans launching an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States, and there are even suggestions that the recent missile test failures may represent a thinly veiled EMP threat. However, such an attack from North Korea is unlikely, as it would require the North to have much larger nuclear weapons and the missile capability to deliver them.EMP Concerns

The Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the US from EMP Attack[1] states:

When a nuclear explosion occurs at high altitude, the EMP signal it produces will cover the wide geographic region within the line of sight of the detonation. This broad band, high amplitude EMP, when coupled into sensitive electronics, has the capability to produce widespread and long lasting disruption and damage to the critical infrastructures that underpin the fabric of U.S. society.

The effects of the pulse can be transferred directly to sensitive devices or as an electrical surge over power lines.

Commentary: As cyber warfare turns 10, the West risks falling behind

When Estonia became the first nation on the receiving end of an overwhelming cyber attack 10 years ago last week, government and other critical websites and systems such as banking collapsed in one of the most internet-connected countries of the time. Widely blamed on Russia, the assault prompted Western nations – including the United States – to plow billions into improving their own cyber defenses. 

If something similar happened today, it could be even more disruptive and dangerous – and also more complex. Western states, militaries and companies have made strides in building the technical ability to guard against cyber attacks. But as often with new technologies, developing the doctrine and expertise to know how to use them inevitably lags behind. 

That points to a broader problem. A decade after the Estonia attack, the West’s potential enemies still have a better sense of what they want to achieve in cyberspace than the United States or its allies. 

For the West, “cyber” remains a tightly defined concept, a matter of protecting nationally vital systems, keeping secrets or finding them out from potential enemies. For countries like Russia and China, however, it has become something much broader. 

National Counterterrorism Center chief says org is sharing intelligence with technology companies

Laura Kelly
Washington Times

The National Counterterrorism Center is incentivizing technology companies by sharing intelligence with them to battle terrorist-recruiting strategies on the web, NCTC Director Nicholas Rasmussen said Wednesday.

The director highlighted that the companies “become burdened with the knowledge” of how certain platforms are being used and exploited by foreign terrorist organizations.

He made his comments at an event discussing new terrorist threats and counterterrorism strategies hosted by the Center for a New American Security.

Short of sharing classified information, the NCTC is looking at ways to make information accessible to people outside of this community, Mr. Rasmussen added.

“We’re leaning forward pretty dramatically in this area to try and share that information,” he said.

“Again to incentivize these partners, these companies to take steps that are in their capacity to take and not to do so

Marines: ‘The First One Through the Door Should Be a Lethal Robot’


OCEANSIDE, California — The beach assault began not with a bang but the whirring of drone propellers overhead, a grumble of gears, and the low sweep of the ocean. Frisbee-sized quadcopters raced ahead of enormous, self-driving amphibious assault vehicles. Satellites peered down as robotic submarines probed outward and up. With gigabytes of data flowing between these interconnected machines, it seemed — misleadingly — like a war that did not need humans at all.

From April 19 to 28, the United States Marine Corps put its ideas about the future of amphibious warfare to the test, along with a menagerie of drones and bots. During a ship-to-shore demonstration on Camp Pendleton’s Red Beach, an amphibious assault vehicle, or AAV, crawled out of the ocean like something from a 1950s Japanese monster movie and disgorged a MUTT robot tank armed with a .50-cal machine gun. Another MUTT, a product of an ongoing effort to create piggyback drone teams, launched a small quadcopter. Overhead buzzed the V-Bat, a drone that takes off like a helicopter but flies like a plane, while seagull-like Puma drones fed targeting information to explosives-laden, cannon-fired Switchblade UAVs. After several minutes, with the beach “conquered,” Marines marched in quietly from the north.