18 June 2017

Credible EU Defense Means Rethinking Sovereignty


A wave of defense euphoria is sweeping Europe. It started about a year ago after the UK’s vote to leave the EU and the publication of the EU global strategy, and increased with the elections of U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. The European project could be relaunched via reinforced defense integration, the idea goes. Migration and economic questions are too controversial to broach, but defense matters to all Europeans, especially since Russia and the self-proclaimed Islamic State reminded them that Europe cannot take security and defense for granted.

Over the last year, political rhetoric and ideas on how to improve the EU’s defense setup have flourished. As a result, new acronyms appeared: a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), a sort of European headquarters; a coordinated annual review of defense (CARD); a European defense fund (EDF) to finance developments of prototype military kits; and permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), which allows groups of willing EU members to advance more quickly in defense cooperation.

What is more, the European Commission, traditionally not involved in this field, is tipping its toes into defense, bringing its financial tools to the table and broadening the narrow focus from the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) to a broader idea of EU defense.

*** Winning the War of Ideology: Leveraging Religious Commonalities

By John J. Houser

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it!' But in this exclamation I would have been…fanatical…without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell. - John Adams writing to Thomas Jefferson

Leveraging common principles found in different religions forms a foundation to undermine those using religious differences as a weapon. Expressing a deeper sense of religious understanding paints the U.S. as a pluralist society in a world where “more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group.”[1] Some assert Samuel Huntington prophetically warned about a pending “Clash of Civilizations” citing religiously inspired violence ranging from organized terror groups to “lone wolf” incidents as evidence of a world bound for a cultural collision. Although terrorists represent only a small portion of a religious population, their ability to project global influence indicates the current international framework of nation-states is reaching a tipping point.

*** Xi Jinping’s Marco Polo Strategy

CAMBRIDGE – Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a heavily orchestrated “Belt and Road” forum in Beijing. The two-day event attracted 29 heads of state, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and 1,200 delegates from over 100 countries. Xi called China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) the “project of the century.” The 65 countries involved comprise two-thirds of the world’s land mass and include some four and a half billion people.

Originally announced in 2013, Xi’s plan to integrate Eurasia through a trillion dollars of investment in infrastructure stretching from China to Europe, with extensions to Southeast Asia and East Africa, has been termed China’s new Marshall Plan as well as its bid for a grand strategy. Some observers also saw the Forum as part of Xi’s effort to fill the vacuum left by Donald Trump’s abandonment of Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

** The US Is Due for a Recession

By Xander Snyder

June 14 brought good news and bad for the United States. The U.S. Federal Reserve announced that it would increase the federal funds rate – the rate at which banks borrow from one another in private markets – from 1 percent to 1.25 percent. That the Federal Reserve would raise short-term borrowing rates is not wholly surprising – it started raising them incrementally in December 2015, when rates were still at 0.25 percent. What’s surprising is that the Fed announced it would also begin selling bonds that it had purchased as part of its quantitative easing program – the first time it has done so since the most recent recession ended.

Central banks can manipulate interest rates in a couple of ways. One way is to alter federal funds rates, which lets them control short-term interest rates. Low rates mean cheaper money.

Adjustments in the federal funds rate are accomplished through open market operations. But open market operations can also be used to control long-term interest rates. Quantitative easing, a bond-buying program that the Fed enacted in 2008, was a form of open market operations that targeted debt with a longer tenor. (The results of open market operations on longer-term debt are generally less predictable than are federal funds rate changes.) Through several rounds of quantitative easing, the Fed purchased $2.4 trillion worth of U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities. The additional demand for bonds that this purchasing program generated increased the price of bonds, which drove down long-term interest rates.

** Quest for an AI Revolution in Warfare

Elsa B. Kania


China aspires to surpass the U.S. in artificial intelligence, seeking to take advantage of the unique opportunities that this critical emerging technology could confer to its economic competitiveness and military capabilities. To date, the scale of Chinese research in artificial intelligence, as reflected by the number of papers published and cited, has already exceeded that of the U.S., and China also ranks second in AI patent applications.[i] From speech recognition to computer vision, Chinese efforts in artificial intelligence are cutting-edge and evidently constitute a priority for China’s leadership at the highest levels. Within the past year alone, China has released a series of national science and technology plans that seek to advance artificial intelligence and established a national deep learning lab.[ii] In particular, China’s new national mega-project for artificial intelligence, known as “Artificial Intelligence 2.0,” will advance and direct an ambitious agenda for research and development, including economic and national security applications.[iii]


India’s Space Business Is Ready For Lift-Off

Rudraneil Sengupta

Leaps in technology, the demands of a new global space race, and a rapid increase in ISRO’s satellite launch capabilities are opening up the skies

For the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), this has been a remarkable year. It took two launches to make it so. The first, in February, set the startling record of the maximum satellites injected into orbit by a single launch, 104—a tremendous leap from the previous record of 37.

The second, in June, was the first successful launch of India’s heaviest, most powerful rocket, GSLV Mark III, developed entirely at home, through more than 15 years of patient work. GSLV is short for Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.

Big data, big dangers

Hemant Kanakia

India needs to negotiate the world of big data technology with adequate safeguards

With the Supreme Court turning its gaze on privacy issues associated with Aadhaar, can we take a moment to look to the myriad ways in which our privacy is being assaulted in the digital world? When my neighbour across the street got too curious about my life, I installed curtains to block his gaze. But what about when the invisible drones at Facebook send him a message that one of my colleagues has tagged me enjoying a music festival in Goa and he might want to “like” this picture? How do we draw a curtain around our digital lives?

CPEC: the need for a second look by India

Ranjit Singh Kalha

Most narratives on the subject published in India stress that as the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) traverses through Indian sovereign territory in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) which is a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), India is well within its rights to refuse any participation. This stand is a principled one with considerable merit. While this position meets with the short-term tactical requirements it does not answer what should be India’s long-term strategy on this issue.

When India gained independence in August 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir had an area of 222,236 sq. km. Since then, due to conflict and aggression, Pakistan occupies about 78,114 sq. km and China about 42,685 sq. km, including 5,180 sq. km illegally ceded by Pakistan to China. About 101,437 sq. km remains with India. Thus three states are now in contention in Kashmir, with China denying strenuously that Aksai Chin, the area that it occupies, was ever a part of Kashmir. However, as far as CPEC is concerned, what interests us is the position of GB.

A Flawed Plan for Afghanistan The Trouble With Deploying More U.S. Troops

By Aaron B. O'Connell

In April 2002, in the early days of what would become the longest war in American history, President George W. Bush offered a rousing summary of the United States’ goals in Afghanistan. “We will stay until the mission is done,” he said in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute. “Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government. Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan train and develop its own national army, and peace will be achieved through an education system for boys and girls which works.”

Since then, the United States has repeatedly sent more troops to Afghanistan; by 2011, U.S. force levels topped one hundred thousand. Drone strikes and special operations raids have weakened al Qaeda’s leadership and killed Osama bin Laden. But almost all of Bush’s other goals remain out of reach. Today, the Taliban is gaining ground, the Afghan army is suffering unsustainable losses, and the government in Kabul is corrupt and riven by ethnic divisions. Eleven thousand civilians were killed or wounded in Afghanistan last year—the highest toll since the United Nations started keeping track in 2009.

Mr. Trump, Afghanistan Is Your War Now

President Trump was typically self-absorbed in his tweet on Wednesday celebrating the 242nd birthday of the United States Army. “Proud to be your commander-in-chief,” he proclaimed to the soldiers.

Yet, when it comes to the actual life-and-death responsibilities of the commander in chief — overseeing America’s vast war machine and sending men and women into conflict — Mr. Trump seems more like the delegator in chief. The latest evidence was his decision this week to give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, which could lead to an increase of as many as 5,000 troops, if proposals favored by Mr. Mattis and his generals go forward.

Mr. Mattis has acknowledged to Congress that the United States-led coalition is “not winning” in Afghanistan. It is not at all clear that adding 5,000 more troops — a roughly 50 percent increase over the current troop level of 9,800 — can make a difference, especially when the administration has yet to confront the basic problem of ensuring public safety and the larger political and economic issues that must be part of a comprehensive strategy to resolve the conflict.

What such a decision would do is reverse the drawdown President Barack Obama put in place and set a new policy of expanding involvement in a war that has already dragged on for 16 years, cost thousands of American and Afghan lives and consumed billions of dollars.

Having spent five years in Afghanistan (between 2004 and 2014) I am convinced that the fundamental problem is governance failure.1) Local... 
stu freeman 42 minutes ago

Pakistan is our "regional partner"? Were it not for that country and its security service the Afghan Taliban would have no refuge to plan... 
OSS Architect 46 minutes ago

Where is the diplomatic initiative in Afghanistan? Mr Trump is de-funding the State department, and the generals like Mr Mattis have told... 

Military commanders chafed under Mr. Obama’s tight controls on troop deployments and war making, which some of them saw as micromanagement. Even so, commanders in chief cannot subcontract their most sacred duties; what the United States faces at this moment is not some routine tactical maneuver or choice. It is what to do about America’s longest war. That is, at bottom, Mr. Trump’s responsibility, and at the moment the nation has no idea what he thinks or where he is headed.

Mr. Trump, who has no prior government experience, leaves the impression that he is cowed by the weighty responsibility of sending more Americans into battle, and is looking to put that onus on Mr. Mattis so he has somebody to blame if things go wrong, as he did when he fingered the generals for a botched raid in Yemen in January, in which one member of the Navy SEALs was killed.

That the president may be distancing himself from a complex challenge is only one concern. Another is the absence of an informed, wide-ranging public debate. Discussions about possible troop increases have largely been theoretical and limited to experts, prompting Senator John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to complain fiercely at a hearing on Tuesday that the Pentagon has yet to present a plan to regain the battlefield momentum that could provide a framework for decision making.

There is an urgent need for just such a plan and such a discussion, not least because everything in Afghanistan seems to be going backward. Mr. Mattis says that he may send some additional troops even before the new war plan is completed, perhaps next month, because the Taliban is once again “surging.” (The Islamic State, a relative newcomer to the conflict, has been flexing its muscles in Afghanistan this year.)

Apart from the fact that the need for additional troops has not been cogently debated, much less established as necessary, such a move now would be premature: None of the big questions have been answered. How will 5,000 more troops turn the tide, when the United States was unable to bring stability to Afghanistan when it had more than 100,000 troops there in 2011? What is the core American national security interest — defeating Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban? Stabilizing the Afghan state? All of the above? None?

American civilian and military leaders have long agreed that the goal must be a political settlement with the Taliban. Yet five months into Mr. Trump’s tenure, the well-resourced Pentagon, which is on track to receive a large budget increase this year, is calling the shots — not the State Department, which Mr. Trump’s budget would decimate.

One major hindrance to sound policy making is the fact that there are few experts in place to do the work; many senior national security positions remain unfilled. However capable and respected Mr. Mattis may be, the Pentagon and American military forces cannot alone bring stability, or whatever counts as “winning,” to Afghanistan. To achieve any worthwhile outcome, the president must be committed and involved, as must his entire national security team. So far the Pentagon is running the show, largely by default.

Recent Developments in the Chinese Army’s Helicopter Force

By: Dennis J. Blasko

In November 2016, Chinese internet sources showed photos of a ceremony in the (former) 13th Group Army of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Army accepting the 1,000th helicopter into the force (NetEase, May 23). This nice round number demonstrates the growth of the Army Aviation Corps over the past decade. Along with Special Operations Forces (SOF), Army Aviation is one of the “new-type combat forces” given priority for development. The increase in the number of Army helicopters accompanies the expansion of the force in the latest round of reforms. [1] In roughly a month’s time, half of all Army Aviation units have experienced some sort of organizational change. However, even as the numbers of helicopters rise, the size of the Army Aviation force is still small for a ground force that will probably number around a million personnel by 2020. [2] The recent changes are an attempt to improve and expand a force that underpins a number of important capabilities from tactical mobility and special operations to logistics support.


6 Questions About U.S. Strategy in the Middle East

By Frederick W. Kagan

ISIS ramps up calls for attacks during holy month of Ramadan

The media is abuzz with questions for President Trump, former FBI Director James Comey, and others about various scandals and investigations. Those questions are important and require answers, but our domestic preoccupations are distracting us from other questions of equal import. 

The U.S. is at war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere with ISIS, al Qaeda, and other Salafi-Jihadi groups. Our strategy in that war, particularly in Syria, is incoherent and internally contradictory, however. As people demand answers to questions about domestic scandals, we must also demand answers to six key questions about how America can secure its people and interests against the large and growing threats from the Middle East. 

How will we defeat ISIS? The U.S. military has been briefing steady progress in the war against ISIS. It highlights ground retaken by Iraqi forces in Mosul and by Kurds in Syria. It suggests that ISIS will basically collapse once it has lost Mosul and Raqqa, in Syria. Assessments by the Institute for the Study of War contradict that view. ISIS still controls Deir ez-Zour, a sizable city southeast of Raqqa, to which it has already relocated leadership and resources. Our Kurdish partners cannot drive that far south through Arab lands. Our reliance on Kurds and refusal to fight the regime of Bashar al Assad have severely hindered the formation of an indigenous Arab force against ISIS in Syria, moreover. How does the U.S. imagine that success against Raqqa will lead to clearing the rest of the Euphrates River Valley? And even if the U.S. finds partners to retake the cities, ISIS is already reverting back to the insurgent-terrorist mode it used before it had seized them. What is the plan to continue the pressure on ISIS to stop it from continuing in this mode while preparing its next comeback?

Britain’s electionTheresa May’s failed gamble

HER political career has been defined by caution. So it is cruel for Theresa May, and delicious for her enemies, that it may have been ended by one big, disastrous gamble. Eight weeks ago she called a snap election, risking her government for the chance to bank a bigger majority against an apparently shambolic Labour opposition. With the Conservatives 20 points ahead in the opinion polls, it looked like a one-way bet to a landslide and a renewed five-year term for her party. But there followed one of the most dramatic collapses in British political history. As we went to press in the early hours of June 9th, the Tories were on course to lose seats, and perhaps their majority.

Keine Atombombe, Bitte Why Germany Should Not Go Nuclear

By Ulrich Kuhn, Tristan Volpe

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump last November confounded Berlin. What, German politicians, policymakers, and journalists wondered, should they make of Trump’s vague or even hostile stances toward the EU and NATO or his apparent embrace of Russia? Some hoped that Trump meant to push NATO members to spend more on defense but would, in the end, leave the long-standing U.S. guarantee of European security intact. Others, less optimistic, argued that the days when Germany could rely on the United States for its defense were over—and that the country must start looking out for itself. 

Those fears have given new life to an old idea: a European nuclear deterrent. Just days after Trump’s election, Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said that if the United States no longer wanted to provide a nuclear shield, France and the United Kingdom should combine their nuclear arsenals into an EU deterrent, financed through a joint EU military budget. Then, in February, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, spoke out in favor of the idea of the EU as a “nuclear superpower,” as long as any EU deterrent matched Russian capabilities.

Military Omnipresence: A Unifying Concept for America’s 21st-Century Fighting Edge


The Pentagon should converge its technological and doctrinal efforts towards a perpetual, networked presence that enables operations and awareness anywhere in the world. 

When the Royal Navy’s new steam-powered ships emerged victorious from the First Opium War in 1842, one British newspaper could barely contain itself: “Steam, even now, almost realizes the idea of military omnipotence and military omnipresence; it is everywhere, and there is no withstanding it.” 

One hundred years later, Wernher von Braun, a German engineer who’d been secretly whisked away to the United States, suggested a different approach: an armed space station into low earth orbit. As he put it, “Our space station could be utilized as a very effective bomb carrier, and the nation who owns such a bomb-dropping space station…will have military omnipresence.”

Parameters - Spring 2017 - Now Online



I recently attended a conference where I was asked to speak on the subject of conservative internationalism. I confess that, before the invitation, I was unaware of this concept. Reflecting upon it made me question the utility of all these labels we assign to various foreign policies.

The urge to create these slogans is understandable. Our job as scholars is to provide order and structure to what, in real time, rarely seems coherent or unified. We attempt to identify key themes and principles that tie together what are often disparate, case by case, and highly context specific policy reactions. This exercise is fine, as far as it goes.

Don't Follow the Money

By Peter R. Neumann

In the first days of the “war on terror,” before the United States had launched air strikes against the Taliban or Special Forces raids on Osama bin Laden’s compounds, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13224. The presidential decree, which dates from September 23, 2001, targeted al Qaeda’s money by “prohibiting transactions” with suspected terrorists. “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations,” Bush said at the time. “We’re asking the world to stop payment.” Five days later, the UN Security Council followed suit, calling on states to “prevent and suppress the financing” of terrorism in its first substantive resolution since the 9/11 attacks.

More than 15 years later, the war on terrorist financing has failed. Today, there are more terrorist organizations, with more money, than ever before. In 2015, for example, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIS) had a budget of up to $1.7 billion, according to a study by King’s College London and the accounting company Ernst & Young, making it the world’s richest terrorist group. That same year, the total amount of all frozen terrorist assets amounted to less than $60 million. Only three countries—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States—had seized more than $1 million.


This project documents and identifies activity linked to and inspired by the Islamic State outside of the territory it claims as part of its physical Caliphate. In doing so, the project seeks to provide insights into how the influence, operational reach, and capabilities of the Islamic State are changing in certain locales over time.

To provide a nuanced analysis of the group’s operational activity, the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has created a database that categorizes different indicators of such activity (see methodology overview here for details). The temporal starting point for the data collection is June 2014, when the group’s Caliphate was officially created. Since that point in time, CTC researchers have collected open-source data regarding the Islamic State’s operational activity in select locations outside of the physical territory claimed by the group.

As collection and analysis continues, the CTC plans to release a number of short country and regional reports that leverage the data CTC has collected. All releases will be available on this page.

Outflank China in the South China Sea

By Brett Wessley

Throughout the history of warfare, the advantage has constantly swung between offense and defense, with new technologies and innovative tactics displacing old doctrines and war plans. The defensive advantage of the Greek phalanx was outmaneuvered by the skilled Roman legion. Improvements in fortifications and armor led to castles and iron-clad knights, until the invention of gunpowder made them obsolete. Rapidly maneuvering infantry assaults were favored until the trenches and machine guns of World War I made them suicidal. The French investment in the Maginot Line proved worthless in the face of a combined-arms Blitzkrieg around its flank. In all these examples, the common denominator is that one side’s tactical advantage spawned new ways of military thinking among its opponents, eventually degrading that advantage or reversing it completely.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union faced a dilemma. The United States possessed a large and experienced navy that enabled it to project power overseas, particularly with aircraft carriers. The Soviet Navy lacked a history of excellence in maritime power projection (see the Russo-Japanese War), and Soviet leadership recognized it did not have the resources to compete with the U.S. Navy. Instead, they focused on a strategy of “sea denial”—building submarines, naval mines, and antiship cruise missiles to mitigate the advantages of the maritime opponent. Though the Soviets did not use this term, the modern concept of antiaccess/area-denial (A2/AD) was born. 1

A Multilateral Approach to Cybersecurity

By Hilary Hurd

For the sanguine among us, last month’s NATO meetings were a success. President Donald Trump abandoned his formal charge of NATO’s obsolescence and—however belatedly—acknowledged the US commitment to mutual defense. But for many European leaders, Trump’s stint in Brussels did more to confirm anxieties over American disengagement than it did to assuage them. Speaking shortly after the G7 summit in Sicily that immediately followed the NATO meetings, German chancellor Angela Merkel made clear that America’s reliability could no longer be assumed. And the fight for Europe’s future would not be a shared one. Meanwhile Alexander Stubb, former PM of Finland, tweeted that the United States was “losing ground as a superpower.”

Yet as US pundits dissect what America’s collective responsibility should be, new attacks remind us what our collective vulnerabilities actually are. Infecting more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries around the globe, last month’s WannaCry attack—like the Dyn and Swift attack before it—underscores why, in 2017, borders matter less, not more, to those who threaten us. Should the United States go it alone? In a new book, The Cybersecurity Dilemma, Dr. Ben Buchanan gives a clear and compelling answer: no.

Cyber Power Potential of the Army's Reserve Component

The military services are formalizing and bolstering their contribution to the nation's cyber force, known as the U.S. Cyber Command Cyber Mission Force. As a part of a Total Force approach, the Army is considering using both active component and reserve component (RC) personnel to fill the Cyber Mission Force and other requirements in support of Army units.

This report identifies the number of Army RC personnel with cyber skills, to help identify ways in which these soldiers can be leveraged to conduct Army cyber operations. This report also describes the broader challenges and opportunities that the use of RC personnel presents.

To study this issue, the authors first performed a thorough review of past studies, government reports, and relevant literature. Next, they analyzed data from the Civilian Employment Information database and the Work Experience File database, and they performed analyses of social media data from LinkedIn profiles, which include self-reported cyber skills among reservists. They reviewed and assessed the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) defined for Cyber Mission Force roles in order to determine the percentage of these KSAs that can be acquired in the private sector. Finally, they conducted a survey of more than 1,200 guardsmen and reservists.

CYBERCOM defensive cyber arm adds intel/ops fusion cell

by Mark Pomerleau

U.S. Cyber Command’s defense cyber arm, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Networks, has stood up an intelligence and operations fusion cell aimed at creating better coordination for prioritizing defensive resources.

JFHQ-DoDIN, which conducts global command and control and synchronization for defense of the DoDIN, needs better intelligence associated with the network and particular mission sets to help drive operations, according to Col. Cleophus Thomas, the director of operations J3 at JFHQ-DoDIN, who spoke Wednesday during a panel at the Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland.

Safety on the New Silk Road Assessing Kazakhstan’s Highways

Researchers discover Russia-linked power grid-wrecking software

by Raphael Satter

PARIS (AP) — Researchers have found a troubling new form of power grid-wrecking software, tying the discovery to a recent Ukrainian blackout in two reports published Monday.

The malicious software has the ability to remotely sabotage circuit breakers, switches and protection relays, the reports say, a nightmare scenario for those charged with keeping the lights on.

“The potential impact of malware like this is huge,” said Robert Lipovsky, a researcher with Slovakian anti-virus firm ESET, which first obtained the rogue program. “It’s not restricted to Ukraine. The industrial hardware that the malware communicates with is used in critical infrastructure worldwide.”