27 June 2017

*** Likely uranium facility identified in Pakistan in satellite imagery

June 26, 2017

New Delhi Times 

Key Points
Although Pakistan has most visibly expanded its plutonium production infrastructure, the country retains a uranium enrichment capability at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in Kahuta.

Pakistan’s illicit procurement of nuclear dual-use items relevant for uranium enrichment prompted an investigation and identification of a suspected new enrichment facility.
Using commercial satellite imagery, it has been confirmed that new construction at Kahuta is consistent with a uranium enrichment facility.

Pakistanis continuing to broaden its nuclear weapons programme. and expanding activity at Khan Research Laboratories in Kahuta along with a development of a likely new uranium enrichment facility.

As Pakistan continues to refine and enhance its nuclear capability, Pakistani officials insist that such modernisation efforts are the result of indigenous production and that, since the dismantling of the Abdul Qadeer Khan nuclear smuggling network in the early 2000s, the country has had a strong non-proliferation record.

Nevertheless, new analysis suggests that Pakistan remains reliant on obtaining dual-use goods through a global network of front companies and covert overseas agents for at least some dual-use items. New construction at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) site at Kahuta, in the northeastern Punjab province has been examined.

***A Modest Proposal

As my readers will know, I have long been interested in the question as to whether women can or cannot, should or should not, participate in ground combat. Not that I have a personal interest in the matter. If some women, driven bonkers by penis envy, insist on entering the most strenuous activity known to man, who am I stand in their way? They want to go to some of the least congenial, most dangerous, places on earth; so let them go to some of the least congenial, most dangerous, places on earth. Their feminist leaders, whom they follow to the end of idiocy (supposing there is such a thing), want them to get killed; so let them be killed. Since they want it so much, they have my blessing.

Still I want to use today’s post in order to sum up, once again, the various problems that such participation gives rise to.

* Recruitment Problems. As countless students, a great many of them female, have noted, no sooner do women join any group, institution or organization than the prestige of the organization in question starts declining. The outcome is difficulties in attracting first class manpower and a loss of fighting power. And so on in a vicious cycle that points nowhere but downward.

*** A Shake-Up in the Saudi Royal Family

By Kamran Bokhari

Saudi Arabia is facing a number of serious challenges that threaten to destabilize the country. Low oil prices, unrest in the Middle East and a recent dispute between Gulf Arab countries over Qatar are just a few examples. And now, a shake-up in the royal family may make it harder for the country to manage these problems.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced June 21 that his son Mohammed bin Salman will be the new crown prince and first in line to the throne, replacing the king’s nephew Mohammed bin Nayef. The move was expected but could still cause complications in the royal family since 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman is much younger and less experienced than other potential candidates for the role.

New Precedents

Despite having been second in line to the throne behind Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s son was already the second-most powerful member of the royal family before this change. Since he became the monarch in 2015, the 81-year-old king had been preparing his son to take over as crown prince, giving him more powers and making him deputy crown prince in April 2015, despite the fact that he had no previous government role. Meanwhile, Mohammed bin Nayef was being progressively overshadowed by his cousin.

In addition to losing his role as crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef was also removed from his other positions, including interior minister, while the king’s son still holds a number of other titles, including defense minister.

The decision to replace a crown prince would be unprecedented were it not for the fact that Salman removed his half brother from the position two years ago to appoint Mohammed bin Nayef. It is still a risky maneuver that could eventually stir up opposition.

There are many other princes in the third generation of the Al Saud family who are more senior and more experienced than the new crown prince. Mohammed bin Nayef, who is 57 years old, had a long career in the Interior Ministry. He was the counterterrorism czar, earning a great deal of respect in Washington for his efforts to neutralize al-Qaida, and almost lost his life in an assassination attempt.

Other candidates included Prince Mitab bin Abdullah, the minister of the Saudi Arabian National Guard; Prince Turki bin Faisal, former intelligence chief and former ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom; and Prince Khaled bin Faisal, governor of Mecca and a former education minister. All these candidates are much more accomplished than Mohammed bin Salman, but they are also much older.

Riyadh is playing up the new crown prince’s youth, presenting it as a positive change for the kingdom, which historically has been ruled by older monarchs. This may have a certain appeal among the Saudi people, three-quarters of whom are under the age of 35. But it is also a shock to the culture and system of a tribal nation that deeply values seniority.

Inopportune Times

The king realizes this is a risky move, which is one reason he reinstated previously withdrawn benefits for state employees. The government implemented austerity measures last September because of low oil prices and declining foreign exchange reserves. The measures included cuts to salaries and other benefits for public workers. In April, the king reinstated the allowances, likely prompted by a public backlash against the cuts. But on June 21, the king announced that public workers would be paid the allowances they had missed out on since the measures were introduced, probably in an effort to gain public support as his son takes over as crown prince.

The government has been eager to show that the transition to a new crown prince has been smooth. It announced that the new crown prince’s appointment was supported by 31 of 34 members of the Allegiance Council, a body that approves successors to the throne. State TV also broadcast images of the outgoing crown prince blessing the new crown prince. It’s unlikely that this change will result in upheaval in the short term; the royal family would fear that any dissent from within the monarchy could add to the kingdom’s other social and economic challenges. But resentment, coupled with fears that the young prince may not be prepared to deal with these challenges, are likely to cause some dissent among the ruling elite down the road.

For now, the kingdom’s other problems are much more pressing. The biggest threat to the Saudis’ stability is low oil prices, since the country’s economy is so heavily dependent on the energy sector. After having risen to roughly $58 per barrel at the beginning of the year, the price of crude is at a nine-month low at roughly $43 per barrel. In the past few weeks alone, the price has dropped by almost $10 per barrel. The Saudis use oil revenue to pay public workers and maintain social cohesion. But given that oil prices are unlikely to rise to the levels that the Saudis need to pay for their expenses without dipping into their reserves, maintaining domestic stability will be hard.

In addition, a lot of attention has been given to an initiative called Vision 2030. Headed by Mohammed bin Salman, Vision 2030 would introduce major changes to the Saudi economy. But these changes would require a massive overhaul of the country’s political system, and this takes time – something that is in short supply in the kingdom.

The country is also facing challenges beyond its borders. Saudi Arabia has been forced into the impossible position of having to manage the increasing turmoil in the Arab world. It is also struggling with Turkey and the Islamic State for leadership of the Sunni Muslim world. In fact, as the recent dispute with Qatar shows, the Saudis do not even have effective control over the small bloc of countries included in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Arabia is also becoming more and more vulnerable to Iran and its Arab Shiite allies, who want to take advantage of the infighting among Arab states and non-state actors.

This is a very inopportune time for a major domestic shake-up. But as geopolitics teaches us, leaders seldom get to make decisions at opportune times.

Historically, the Saudi kingdom has been resilient. But it has never faced such daunting tests, both internally and externally. The kingdom has reached an impasse where the old ways of managing its affairs are not working, and embracing a new paradigm is extremely difficult. Leadership changes as radical as the one the king is engaging in only make matters worse.

*** Hard Questions: How We Counter Terrorism

By Monika Bickert

In the wake of recent terror attacks, people have questioned the role of tech companies in fighting terrorism online. We want to answer those questions head on. We agree with those who say that social media should not be a place where terrorists have a voice. We want to be very clear how seriously we take this — keeping our community safe on Facebook is critical to our mission.

In this post, we’ll walk through some of our behind-the-scenes work, including how we use artificial intelligence to keep terrorist content off Facebook, something we have not talked about publicly before. We will also discuss the people who work on counterterrorism, some of whom have spent their entire careers combating terrorism, and the ways we collaborate with partners outside our company.

Our stance is simple: There’s no place on Facebook for terrorism. We remove terrorists and posts that support terrorism whenever we become aware of them. When we receive reports of potential terrorism posts, we review those reports urgently and with scrutiny. And in the rare cases when we uncover evidence of imminent harm, we promptly inform authorities. Although academic research finds that the radicalization of members of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda primarily occurs offline, we know that the internet does play a role — and we don’t want Facebook to be used for any terrorist activity whatsoever.

We believe technology, and Facebook, can be part of the solution.

*** What India Could Do with the F-16: Turn It into a 'Viper'

Sebastien Roblin

On June 19, Lockheed Martin announced in advance of a U.S. visit by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi that it had reached a joint-venture agreement with Tata Advanced Systems to move its F-16 production line to India. This deal would be contingent on the Indian Air Force selecting the F-16 to fulfill a new requirement for one hundred to 250 new single-engine fighters, which could total up to $13 to $15 billion. If the agreement does come through—the major competitor remains the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen E fighter—then India would become the exclusive producer of an advanced new Block 70 variant of the iconic fighter jet, and might also export the type to countries such as Bahrain, Colombia and Indonesia.

Entering service in 1978, the F-16 Fighting Falcon—now popularly known as the Viper—is a lightweight, short-range multirole fighter renowned for its agility. More than three thousand of the type will serve in the air forces of twenty-seven countries this year. The Viper has seen plenty of action over the decades, and is credited with shooting down seventy-six aircraft in air-to-air combat in exchange for one or two losses by one count.

**The Art of the US-India Aircraft Carrier Deal

By Bimal Sareen

U.S. President Donald J. Trump has begun leveraged business deals to advance U.S. national security interests during his first foreign trip to the Middle East. These are helping him deliver on his primary campaign promises of more U.S. jobs, advancing domestic U.S. industry, and national security.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has established his foreign policy statesman credentials. He re-oriented India’s historical non-aligned, Cold War-era foreign policy to that of multi-alignment, or strategic balance. Rather than reflecting a tilt towards the U.S., this may actually be India straightening out to strike a balance.

Businessman-President Trump and statesman-Prime-Minister Modi could breathe new momentum into the U.S.-India Major Defense Partner relationship. This could be done with a big deal that becomes a new pillar of the relationship.

A deal at the intersection of common security interests could encourage India to lean towards the United States, as free sea lanes, counter terrorism operations, and China are relevant to both. India could characterize this leaning as maintaining strategic balance for its national-security-based foreign policy thrust. Politically, the same deal could also advance campaign promises of both leaders, which seem to be a reflection of the other.

Would the United States sell India a decommissioned, non-nuclear aircraft carrier for $1?

India needs more carriers to protect 18 choke points around the Indian Ocean, where China is establishing naval bases. The U.S. wishes to partner with India to help maintain free lanes of global commerce and enable humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. A robust Indian Navy can do some heavy lifting with its carrier fleets, and further benefit the U.S. as a regional naval partner for counter-terrorism operations and possibly more.

India has purchased two carriers from the UK. However, its most recent purchase was from Russia with a price of over $3 billion. Significantly, a fighter aircraft purchase for the carrier was added.

The U.S. defense industry, meanwhile, has worked hard to sell fighter planes and other equipment to India; much of this remains a work in progress, notwithstanding a robust U.S. export control regime. With India being called a “major defense partner” of the U.S. since last year, a carrier sale could provide the substance needed to propel these initiatives forward.

Trump will recognize the economic leverage for the United States. The carrier could be refurbished in the United States. It will need a vast range of new U.S. equipment including fighter planes, radars, drones, electronic warfare equipment and aircraft, surveillance aircraft, weaponry, and technology and training. This deal is not military aid and it is feasible as India will pay for it, as it has done for its previous purchases.

The U.S. defense industry would be supportive as well, as a deal would lay down a preferred track for equipment sales for the carrier. Economically, the deal will create substantial U.S. jobs for decades. Trump could also extract benefit, highlighting the creation of jobs from a deal and gaining political leverage.

Modi, too, understands leverage. He could have the United States fundamentally evolve export control rules for India to enable this transaction, opening the door for a lot more national business.

A deal could also advance his Make In India initiative, where U.S. defense manufacturers would collaborate more extensively with Indian industry on manufacturing and technology. India’s defense and manufacturing industry will be supportive as critical domestic industry capabilities will be established and many new skilled Indian jobs will be created. Modi will even add new Indian technologies to this carrier platform.

The United States could extend this to encourage New Delhi to lean further towards Washington. This could be done by upping the ante with a sale of a decommissioned nuclear-powered carrier.

It is notable that Russia has already offered this deal to India, building on its lease of a nuclear-powered submarine to India.

Russia has never built a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier while U.S. carriers are proven in the area and could be an acceptable platform for an eventual U.S.-India deal for an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALs).

To help clinch this type of an ambitious deal, the U.S. could offer flexible payment terms to India. The favorable significance of this offer will be obvious to India, as it will be in stark contrast to the unfavorable price escalation it endured in its Russian carrier deal.

Establishing such a pillar of cooperation could be the defining moment for future deals shaping the major defense partner relationship between the United States and India.

** Is a Buddhist Group Changing China? Or Is China Changing It?


YIXING, China — For most of her life, Shen Ying was disappointed by the world she saw around her. She watched China’s economic rise in this small city in the Yangtze River Valley, and she found a foothold in the new middle class, running a convenience store in a strip mall. Yet prosperity felt hollow.

She worried about losing her shop if she didn’t wine and dine and pay off the right officials. Recurring scandals about unsafe food or tainted infant formula made by once-reputable companies upset her. She recalled the values her father had tried to instill in her — honesty, thrift, righteousness — but she said there seemed no way to live by them in China today.

“You just feel disappointed at some of the dishonest conduct in society,” she said.

Then, five years ago, a Buddhist organization from Taiwan called Fo Guang Shan, or Buddha’s Light Mountain, began building a temple in the outskirts of her city, Yixing. She began attending its meetings and studying its texts — and it changed her life.

* Getting an Edge in the Long Afghan Struggle Trump’s early approach holds promise if backed with a sustained, and sustainable, commitment.

David Petraeus

Can the U.S. succeed in Afghanistan? Not without a sustained, and sustainable, commitment. President Trump’s decision to give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to add several thousand more U.S. troops to the 8,400 currently deployed is encouraging—but only if it is a first step in a comprehensive approach.

Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, should also receive greater leeway in the use of U.S. and NATO air power. And officials should remain open to the possibility of reconciliation with some insurgents, probably just those that break off from the central Taliban.

An intensified military effort could arrest the gradual loss of territory held by the government in recent years—now estimated by U.S. Central Command at only 60% of the country—and to regain battlefield momentum. Congress should enable all this by appropriating the $5 billion or so a year above current levels that such a strategy will require.

America’s leaders should not lose sight of why the U.S. went to, and has stayed in, Afghanistan: It is in our national interest to ensure that country is not once again a sanctuary for transnational extremists, as it was when the 9/11 attacks were planned there. We have been accomplishing that mission since the intervention began in October 2001. Although al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is diminished, it could rebound if given the opportunity. Islamic State could expand its newfound Afghan foothold as well.

* Martin van Creveld: Britain’s smartest leader warned about open borders in 1968. It blew their minds.

Summary: Europe’s leaders have opened their borders to immigrants with radically different cultures. It’s one of history’s largest public policy experiments, made with little or no planning or research about its consequences. In 1968 Enoch Powell, a genius British politician, foresaw this — and warned about its effects on Britain. The generation now growing up will see the conclusion to this story.The Vlora unloads Albanian refugees to the Italian port of Bari on 8 August 1991.

The name Enoch Powell {Wikipedia} is unlikely to strike a chord with most of those who are under 60 years old. Yet at the time I took my PhD in London (1969-71) he was all over, frequently appearing on TV (“the telly,” as people used to call it), radio, and the papers. Today it pleases me to write a few lines about him. My reasons for doing so will become clear by and by.

When Modi meets Trump: Where do U.S.-India relations stand?

Tanvi Madan

Trump’s election brought uncertainties for India. Given the investment it has made in the U.S. relationship, the Modi government reached out swiftly to the president-elect and his transition team. It has since kept up that outreach, including with three phone calls between Modi and Trump.

On visits to the United States, the Indian finance minister, petroleum and natural gas minister, national security advisor, and foreign and commerce secretaries have met their counterparts, as well as the secretaries of commerce, defense, homeland security, and state. U.S. national security advisor H.R. McMaster, in turn, has traveled to India. In addition, Congressional engagement has been more of a priority. Indian officials have been meeting regularly with members of Congress, particularly those in leadership positions, and welcoming delegations of members and staffers to Delhi.

Working-level cooperation has continued in a number of spheres. And while a number of India-related positions await nominees, the appointment of Lisa Curtis as senior director at the National Security Council and the potential nomination of Kenneth Juster as ambassador to India—both familiar faces, who know the region—are welcome in Delhi.

Nonetheless, in the absence of a crisis or of Indian relevance to key immediate U.S. concerns (North Korea, Syria) or of a cabinet member with a keen interest in India, it has largely been off Washington’s radar. When the country has been in the American spotlight, the attention has been of the unwanted kind: related to attacks against Indians, criticisms from Trump himself over climate issues, or reports on the president’s businesses in India. There has been some sense of relief that the country has been missing from presidential tweets, but being missing from the priority list is problematic.

The upcoming trip has been action-forcing to some extent, and brought India some attention; Delhi will also hope it’ll bring greater clarity on certain bilateral, regional, and global issues where there is continued uncertainty—and in some cases greater concern—about the administration’s approach.

The Trump–Modi Summit Big Meeting, Low Expectations

By C. Christine Fair and Bharath Gopalaswamy

On June 26, U.S. President Donald Trump will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At first glance, the two might seem aligned. Modi heads the Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party, which has sustained criticism at home and abroad for its divisive rhetoric about India’s Muslim citizens, who number some 189 million. The Trump campaign was likewise anti-Muslim, which motivated at least some Hindus in India and the United States to support Trump’s bid for the presidency with the expectation that contempt for Muslims would translate into harsher policies toward Pakistan and other Muslim states. Moreover, both Trump and Modi are populist leaders who have capitalized on their polities’ demands for political upheaval. Both also have surrogates who have pushed divisive identity issues to the forefront of politics, and they have been described by journalist Ashok Singh as “theatrical and… narcissistic.” He is not alone in making such comparisons. Yet despite their posited—if contested—similarities, the two have remained at odds for several reasons.

First, Trump ran on the premise that immigrants are “taking American jobs.” (In fact, robots are taking American jobs, and they will continue to do so.) Trump recently signed an executive order that would make it more difficult for Indians to obtain H-1 visas, which are highly sought after and comprise an important source of remittance revenue in India. Modi, in response, urged Washington to keep an open mind on admitting skilled Indian workers, as the Hindustan Times reported.

Second, Trump’s anti-Muslim vitriol may have been greeted enthusiastically by some Hindus, but racists in the United States have also assaulted Hindus and Sikhs. Many Indians now fear for their safety and are reconsidering working and studying in the United States. More recently, Trump snubbed India when he suggested that India’s commitment to the Paris climate accord was motivated by financial incentives rather than dedication to decelerating climate change. India’s Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, retorted that "anyone who says we have

Modi can shape Trump’s views on Pakistan: New colours of the White House

Shashank Joshi 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have an opportunity to shape President Trump’s basic views on Pakistan

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to meet President Donald Trump for the first time, today in Washington, there is a sense that the favourable winds that carried the India-U.S. relationship over the past 10 to 15 years may be changing. In its first six months, the Trump administration’s radical and nationalistic approach to international affairs has already touched India in important areas, from visas for skilled workers, to climate change, to Iran policy. After an era in which successive American Presidents were persuaded to forego short-term pay-offs for longer-term economic and diplomatic investment in India, we now have an incumbent whose foreign policy imperative is to secure a pound of flesh — and to do so in the here and now. “The world is not a “global community’,” noted two of Trump’s advisers in a Wall Street Journal oped this month, summarising the President’s worldview, declaring that they embraced “this elemental nature of international affairs”. This undoubtedly throws up new challenges for India. Yet there are three important things to keep in mind when looking at the path ahead.

Three indications

First, the India-U.S. relationship has its own mass and momentum. While the grand gestures of the past decade may be more difficult to achieve, the relationship is likely to remain robust. While the whims of the President and his most radical advisers will buffet particular areas — such as trade, immigration, and climate change — more pragmatic cabinet ministers are not without influence. Most significant here is the so-called Axis of Adults, comprising Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defence James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.



In 1949, when an Indian prime minister and an American president first met, China was one of the two key items on the agenda. Almost seven decades after that Nehru-Truman meeting, President Donald Trump hosts Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in Washington late Saturday night. And once again, that issue will be on the agenda — explicitly and implicitly. The trajectory and pace of the U.S.-India relationship over the next few years will be shaped not just by whether or not Trump and Modi get along, but on how their governments perceive and deal with China. Convergence on this issue can pave the way for cooperation in a range of areas, strategic and otherwise. Dissonance will have a deleterious impact on the U.S.-India partnership.

The China Factor
During the 2000 campaign, Condoleezza Rice argued that U.S. foreign policy should conceptually connect India with China, emphasizing “India is an element in China’s calculation, and it should be in America’s, too.” This echoed the strategic framework from the first half of the Cold War, when India was in no small part seen through a Chinese prism. The “loss” of China in 1949 had Time label India as the “anchor for Asia.” Similarly, The New York Times outlined the U.S. stake in India, emphasizing it was “potentially a great counterweight to China.” The concept of a “fateful race” between the two Asian giants took hold, laid out most starkly by The Economist’s Barbara Ward in 1953. The Eisenhower administration embraced this view in its 1957 statement of policy on South Asia:

The outcome of the competition between Communist China and India as to which can best satisfy the aspirations of peoples for economic improvement, will have a profound effect throughout Asia and Africa.
Even if India sometimes opposed U.S. positions, this document stressed that a strong India was in the American interest because it “would be a successful example of an alternative to Communism in an Asian context.” Therefore, the United States needed to help India win the race — one of the few things on which presidential contenders Sen. John F. Kennedy Jr. and Vice President Richard Nixon agreed in 1959. This view endured through the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and then, in the 1970s, largely vanished with Nixon’s rapprochement with China, only to reappear in the Bush 43 administration.

What India Could Do with the F-16: Turn It into a 'Viper'

Sebastien Roblin

On June 19, Lockheed Martin announced in advance of a U.S. visit by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi that it had reached a joint-venture agreement with Tata Advanced Systems to move its F-16 production line to India. This deal would be contingent on the Indian Air Force selecting the F-16 to fulfill a new requirement for one hundred to 250 new single-engine fighters, which could total up to $13 to $15 billion. If the agreement does come through—the major competitor remains the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen E fighter—then India would become the exclusive producer of an advanced new Block 70 variant of the iconic fighter jet, and might also export the type to countries such as Bahrain, Colombia and Indonesia.

Entering service in 1978, the F-16 Fighting Falcon—now popularly known as the Viper—is a lightweight, short-range multirole fighter renowned for its agility. More than three thousand of the type will serve in the air forces of twenty-seven countries this year. The Viper has seen plenty of action over the decades, and is credited with shooting down seventy-six aircraft in air-to-air combat in exchange for one or two losses by one count.

U.S. Running Out of Options in Afghanistan


The U.S. war in Afghanistan has entered into its 16th year with no end in sight. With the battle against the Taliban essentially mired in a stalemate and the Afghan government failing to address endemic corruption and countrywide economic woes, there appear to be no good options for moving forward.

“Today the Trump Administration faces the choice of losing quickly by withdrawing from Afghanistan, losing slowly by staying at the current, clearly inadequate levels of commitment, or not losing by increasing that commitment enough to maintain a stalemate on the battlefield,” says Cipher Brief expert and former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Jim Dobbins.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and senior officials in the Trump Administration have readily admitted that for years, U.S. efforts in Afghanistan have not produced a desirable outcome. Earlier this week, the office of Senator John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement saying, “we have no strategy to end the stalemate [in Afghanistan] and achieve victory.”

PLA schools to expand recruitment, help China win information war

Academics to focus on helping China win information war

Eight new military-affiliated academies will start recruiting high school graduates this fall for the first time following the launch of military academy reforms in 2016, which experts said would help China win the information war.

The eight new academies merged with other universities and academies, with six belonging to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) ground force, the Legal Mirror reported.

For example, the Army Academy of Border and Coastal Defense, the PLA's lone border and coastal defense institute, has merged the PLA Border Defense Academy in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the Kunming National Cadres Academy in Southwest China's Yunnan Province and the Urumqi National Cadres Academy in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to the Legal Mirror.

The academic programs of traditional combat forces will be reduced in this year's recruitment plan, with a focus on early-warning, command and control and combat data, the report said.

The reform of military-affiliated academies is meant to reduce both the number of academies and students to be recruited, in line with the comprehensive military reform.

U.S. Strategic Interests and the Rise of Prince Mohammed bin Salman

By Anthony Cordesman

It does not take much vision to predict that making Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the new Crown Prince, and removing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from any position of power, will lead to a flood of new speculation about the possible tensions with the Saudi royal family, the motives involved in changing the succession, and how the resulting changes will spill over into a host of changes in less important positions. 

It takes even less vision – just reading the reporting during one or two prior major changes in succession will provide all the necessary examples – to predict that the vast majority of this reporting will be pure speculation and wrong. Guessing about the Saudi royal family went from a national to an international sport at the time of Nasser, and the game – like all other forms of phantom sports leagues – is likely to continue indefinitely. This is particularly likely because the past shows that the full circumstances and facts behind many shifts within the Saudi royal family never do become fully known, and any really good conspiracy theory can live forever. 

In any case, what is done is done and America has far more serious priorities. What is far less speculative is the fact that Saudi Arabia is a key strategic partner of the United States at a time of great uncertainty, and finding the best ways to serve common strategic interests is already a critical challenge. 

Commando Raids on ISIS Yield Vital Data in Shadowy War

WASHINGTON — One late afternoon in April, helicopter-borne American commandos intercepted a vehicle in southeastern Syria carrying a close associate of the Islamic State’s supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The associate, Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, was a rare prize whom United States Special Operations forces had been tracking for months: a midlevel but highly trusted operative skilled in raising money; spiriting insurgent leaders out of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s besieged capital in Syria; and plotting attacks against the West. Captured alive, Mr. Uzbeki could be an intelligence bonanza. Federal prosecutors had already begun preparing criminal charges against him for possible prosecution in the United States.

As the commandos swooped in, however, a firefight broke out. Mr. Uzbeki, a combat-hardened veteran of shadow wars in Syria and Pakistan, died in the gun battle, thwarting the military’s hopes of extracting from him any information about Islamic State operations, leaders and strategy.



On Saturday, at about 2:30 AM local time, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and the Philippine container ship ACX Crystal collided southwest of Yokosuka, Japan — the home of the United States Navy’s Seventh Fleet. Several crew members were injured (including the commanding officer), and when flooded spaces were accessed pier-side, the bodies of seven sailors were found.

It is difficult to understand how something like this could happen, given the size of the vessels, the well-understood rules that govern the movement of ships, the expanse of the ocean, the technology available to avoid collisions, and the (relatively) slow speed at which ships move. As this tragedy unfolded in near-real time, on Friday night (Eastern time), I participated in a robust exchange on Twitter, trying to offer what little I could to concerned people trying to make sense of the news. Concern for the crew dominated the discussion, but there were many well-intentioned “how does something like this happen?” tweets. It would be premature and irresponsible to comment on the specifics of this collision, because I know nothing of them. What we have are photographs of two ships which give us some idea of the alignment of the vessels at impact, but which tell us little about their relative positions when the error chain began. There will be investigations and they will affix responsibility — such is the way of admiralty law and the practice of the U.S. Navy. Blame and responsibility have no place in this essay.

The (Overblown) Concerns Linking Foreign Fighters, Civil Wars, and Terrorist Campaigns

By Alex Braithwaite and Tiffany Chu

More than 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries have entered ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq since 2011. While the flow of these fighters has decreased dramaticallyover the past twelve months, two important concerns remain regarding foreign fighters. First, foreign fighters could radicalize rebel groups causing an escalation of violence in conflicts, lengthening their duration, and/or reducing opportunities for their resolution. Second, upon the conclusion of their participation in foreign conflicts, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks. In two articles at Research & Politics and Journal of Conflict Resolution, we suggest that both of these concerns are easily exaggerated.

Previous studies present divided evidence as to whether foreign fighters aid or undermine the rebels that they join. On the one hand, data summarizing foreign fighter participation across the period 1900 to 2006 suggest that conflicts involving foreign fighters were more likely, on average, to conclude with insurgent victory than with government victory. On the other hand, in Chechnya, the arrival of foreign fighters perverted the goals of local rebels, negatively affecting their resource and recruitment bases and losing them support within local populations.

The Danger of Mission Creep in Syria

Emma M. Ashford

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy fighter jet shot down one of Bashar al-Assad’s warplanes attacking U.S.-allied Syrian forces, drawing the United States deeper into that conflict. Raising tensions with Russia and potentially placing American troops in danger, this action was just another in a long line of tactical decisions which increase U.S. involvement in Syria without any viable long-term strategy for resolving or exiting the civil war.

Much of the criticism has focused on President Donald Trump’s impulsive and pugnacious personality. While Trump has accelerated this process, he is not wholly to blame for the slippery slope that the United States is now sliding down in Syria. The Obama administration resisted large-scale escalation, but their choices nonetheless contributed directly to today’s haphazard Syria strategy. The Trump administration needs to decide what it wants to achieve in Syria now, or the inevitable logic of mission creep may rob them of the ability to choose.

Obama’s Syrian Wars

They Brushed Off Kamala Harris. Then She Brushed Us Off.


Last week, Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, made headlines when Republican senators interrupted her at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee while she interrogated Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The clip of the exchange went viral; journalists, politicians and everyday Americans debated what the shushing signified about our still sexist culture.

The very next day, Senator Harris took her seat in front of us as a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. We were there to testify about the ideology of political Islam, or Islamism.

Both of us were on edge. Earlier that day, across the Potomac River, a man had shot a Republican lawmaker and others on a baseball diamond in Alexandria, Va. And just moments before the hearing began, a man wearing a Muslim prayer cap had stood up and heckled us, putting Capitol police officers on high alert. We were girding ourselves for tough questions.



IN ONE OF his first public statements on his priorities as president, Donald Trump promised to develop a "comprehensive plan to protect America's vital infrastructure from cyberattacks." That has not yet materialized. And as new evidence has emerged that a piece of sophisticated malware caused a blackout in the Ukrainian capital last December, one group of senators wants answers now about the threat of Russian grid-hacking.

In a letter to the presidentThursday, 19 senators have called on the White House to direct the Department of Energy to conduct a new analysis of the Russian government's capabilities to disrupt America's power grid. They also want an exploration of any attempts the Kremlin may have already made to compromise America's electric utilities, pipelines, or other energy infrastructure, all within 60 days. While they made a similar request in March–to which the White House never responded–forensic reports that surfaced last week about a piece of malware known as CrashOverride, which briefly took out about a fifth of the total energy capacity of Kiev, have given their query renewed urgency.

Australian government invests AU$500m to improve space-based intelligence

Tas Bindi

The Australian government has announced that it will be pouring AU$500 million into Defence Project 799 to enhance space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Phase 1 of the project aims to improve the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) access to commercial satellites, so that satellite data can be used to support defence operations, border protection, and humanitarian missions.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said AU$14 million of the total investment will be spent on building the infrastructure required to collect imagery from commercial satellites.

“Defence’s enhanced access to these satellites will increase Australia’s capacity to maintain surveillance and improve situational awareness for the Australian Defence Force and other national security agencies through the provision of high-quality imagery,” Pyne said in a statement.

“This means imagery from high-end commercial satellites, now in orbit, will be integrated directly into the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation’s imagery dissemination systems, reducing the time it will take for satellite imagery to get to a member of the ADF or the officers of Australia’s national security agencies.”

Reviewing A History of Warfare

Craig Beutel

Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein led the British Eighth Army across North Africa in pursuit of Rommel. In 1944 he commanded the Allied land armies in the invasion of Normandy, eventually leading the 21st Army Group. Despite this experience, few give him the acknowledgment he deserves as a military intellectual and analyst of history, despite his time teaching at the staff colleges in Camberley and Quetta in the interwar years, or his authorship of the British infantry manual.

Nevertheless, A History of Warfare is a reflective and insightful read for military professionals—though admittedly not something to use as an authoritative reference on historical military details. Rather, think of it more as sitting at the feet of a master as Montgomery uses history to demonstrate the lessons of war that he found the hard way. It is a commentary more than a study, ignoring the detail and background in order to cut to the main points that he wants you to take away. In the 1982 edition’s foreword, Lord Carver reminds us that this was a strength of the Field-Marshal—an ability to find simplicity in the complex and act as an iconoclast that was not satisfied with the conventional.

As you might expect from a man that played a large role in the shaping of history, Montgomery’s approach is very much aligned with the great man theory of history, traversing thousands of years of conflict by



The clocks read zero when the lights went out.

It was a Saturday night last December, and Oleksii Yasinsky was sitting on the couch with his wife and teenage son in the living room of their Kiev apartment. The 40-year-old Ukrainian cybersecurity researcher and his family were an hour into Oliver Stone’s film Snowden when their building abruptly lost power.

“The hackers don’t want us to finish the movie,” Yasinsky’s wife joked. She was referring to an event that had occurred a year earlier, a cyberattack that had cut electricity to nearly a quarter-million Ukrainians two days before Christmas in 2015. Yasinsky, a chief forensic analyst at a Kiev digital security firm, didn’t laugh. He looked over at a portable clock on his desk: The time was 00:00. Precisely midnight.

Yasinsky’s television was plugged into a surge protector with a battery backup, so only the flicker of images onscreen lit the room now. The power strip started beeping plaintively. Yasinsky got up and switched it off to save its charge, leaving the room suddenly silent.

Hacked: How Business Is Fighting Back Against the Explosion in Cybercrime

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Jeff John Roberts

Business is under assault from cybercriminals like never before, and the cost to companies is exploding. Here's what you need to know about safeguarding your digital assets. 

1. Under attack 

In the summer of 2015, several of New York’s most prestigious and trusted corporate law firms, including Cravath Swaine & Moore and Weil Gotshal & Manges, found themselves under cyberattack. A trio of hackers in China had snuck into the firms’ computer networks by tricking partners into revealing their email passwords. Once inside the partners’ accounts, the thieves snooped on highly sensitive documents about upcoming mergers. Then, from computers halfway around the world, the cybercrooks allegedly traded on the purloined information, netting $4 million in stock market gains. 

Trump’s cyber deterrence looks a lot like Obama’s

by Mark Pomerleau

The Trump administration’s approach to deterrence in cyberspace and ensuring a safe and secure internet strikes a similar tone with the previous administration.

During a keynote presentation at the GovProtect 17 summit in Washington on Wednesday, Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, provided greater context to the cybersecurity executive order signed by President Trump in May.

The third big pillar of this order, Joyce explained, involves deterrence and international relations.

Not every nation shares America’s values, he noted, or has the same considerations of what is needed for a secure internet.

“This third pillar is really all about understanding what are the levels of deterrence we have in the U.S. government,” Joyce said, adding that along with deterrence, the government must have ways to hold malicious actors accountable to inflict costs for those acting outside of those norms.

Allying Public and Private Forces on the Front Lines of Cybersecurity


Few security challenges muddle the distinction between government and business roles as those emanating from cyberspace. National security issues no longer remain solely under the purview of government agencies, and companies continue to find themselves in the sights of foreign adversaries.

Moreover, attacks against commercial products have geopolitical ramifications. Software and hardware companies are at the root of voting technology, a foundation of modern democracies, and everyday electronic devices – designed by private companies, but used by all – are compromised by hostile entities to steal, destabilize, and misguide. Diplomacy, espionage, business, and war are now ingrained with commercially created and maintained digital technology and the vivid line between private interests and public security is dwindling.

Information sharing between government and the businesses at the frontline of the virtual battlefield has always been a key component of further strengthening a country's resilience to hacking campaigns by foreign governments, criminals, and hacktivists. Combining the forensic evidence of attacks against private companies, particularly those running a country’s critical infrastructure, with actionable intelligence sourced using the relegated powers of government is needed to better manage cybersecurity risks.

Pentagon Cyberwarriors Find Fertile Ground in Silicon

By Sandra Erwin

It is virtually unheard of in government contracting for the Defense Department to be brief and straightforward in stating requirements.

So it was a surprise when a Pentagon solicitation this month for cybersecurity software was summed up in a single sentence: “The Department of Defense is interested in systems to automatically find previously unreported vulnerabilities in software without source code and automatically generate patches to remediate vulnerabilities with minimal false positives.”

The time window to bid on this opportunity also is unusually short. Responses will be accepted only from June 12 to June 20.

This is how business is done at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, known as DIUx. The Pentagon’s two-year-old enclave in Silicon Valley has moved rather quickly to shake up the contracting culture — and to prove that it is more interested in getting results than in forcing vendors to deal with red tape.

Necessity has forced the Pentagon to make innovation a top priority, especially in the cybersecurity field as the U.S. government and military information networks face unprecedented threats from hackers and malware. DIUx is being challenged to find solutions, and fast.

In technology-rich Silicon Valley, it falls on DIUx to spot relevant products, test them and select the ones that best solve problems for the Defense Department. DIUx has 40 people based in Mountain View, Calif., and smaller offices in Boston and Austin, Texas.