20 July 2017

*** The India-China War of 1962 and its Political After-Life


India-China relations require a fundamental reset and a new scholarly book provides a useful, if indirect, contribution to how we think about the relationship. 

Amit Das Gupta and Lorenz Lüthi’s The Sino-Indian War of 1962: New Perspectives is a most topical and useful book for two reasons: For one, it revisits a topic that has been relatively neglected in recent Indian scholarship using archival and other material that have become available in the last two decades. With access to (some) Chinese and to Russian/Soviet archives, and to the archives and memoirs of actors in other states, it is now possible to widen the lens from speculation about Indian and Chinese motives, and to attempt a clearer picture of what led to the war, its international context and its aftermath. 

The other reason is that it helps us to understand better how such a brief and limited conflict, in the military sense, had such immense political and other consequences. 

As we know, the political after-life of the conflict, and its continuing effect on Indian thinking and behaviour, has only now begun to be studied and analysed. By getting an international group of younger scholars to examine various aspects of the war and its effects, the editors have done us and scholarship on the war a great service. Coming when India-China relations are in flux and require a fundamental reset – indeed when world politics itself is undergoing a fundamental reset – this is a useful, if indirect, contribution to how we think about India-China’s relationship, which arguably could be the one that most affects our nation’s success in transforming itself. 

*** Pakistan: Forces Under Fire In Balochistan – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*

The Superintendent of Police (SP), Mubarak Shah, and three of his Police guards were shot dead when motorcycle-borne terrorists opened indiscriminate fire at a Police Mobile unit while it was patrolling in the Killi Deba area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, on July 13, 2017. Senior Police Official Abdul Razzaq Cheema disclosed that the attackers opened fire from different directions, killing Quaidabad SP Mubarak Shah and his three Police guards, adding that terrorists managed to escape from the scene of the crime. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction, Jama’at-ul-Ahrar (JuA), claimed responsibility for the attack. Asad Mansur, JuA spokesman, claimed in a message issued on social media after the incident, “We carried out the armed attack on police officials.”

Just three days earlier, the District Police Officer (DPO) of Qilla Abdullah, Sajid Khan Mohmand, and his security guard and driver were killed and over 10 other people, including five Police personnel, were injured in a suicide blast in the border town of Chaman in the Qilla Abdullah District of Balochistan on July 10, 2017. Sources indicated that DPO Mohmand was on an inspection of the Eidgah area of Boghara Road with his team, when the suicide bomber riding a motorcycle blew himself up after hitting the Police vehicle. Mohmand died on the spot as the suicide bomber hit the vehicle on the side where he was sitting. The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

*** China’s Bhutan land grab aims at bigger target

China honed its “salami slicing” strategy in the Himalayan borderlands with India in the 1950s, when it grabbed the Switzerland-sized Aksai Chin plateau by surreptitiously building a strategic highway through that unguarded region. Aksai Chin, part of the original princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, has since provided China with the only passageway between its rebellious regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

Now, the attempt by the People’s Liberation Army to replicate its seizure of Aksai Chin by building a military road through the Doklam plateau of tiny Bhutan has triggered one of the most serious troop standoffs in years between China and India, which is a guarantor of Bhutanese security.

** Online Book - "The Defence of Duffer's Drift"

by Dave Dilegge
The Defence of Duffer's Drift is a short 1904 book by Major General Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton. It purports to be a series of six dreams by "Lieutenant Backsight Forethought" about the defence of a river crossing in the Boer War. The infantry tactics in the early dreams are disastrous, but each time BF learns something until in the final defence he is successful.

Originally published in the U.S. Infantry Journal, now Army, April 1905.


A classic in small unit tactics in the British and U.S. Army, this book is recommended, without qualification, for the modern professional soldier.

What would you do?

Lieutenant Backsight Forethought (BF to his friends) has been left in command of a 50-man reinforced platoon to hold Duffer’s Drift, the only ford on the Silliassvogel River available to wheeled traffic. Here is his chance for fame and glory. He has passed his officer courses and special qualifications. 

“Now if they had given me a job like fighting the Battle of Waterloo…or Bull Run, I knew all about that, as I had crammed it up....”

While BF’s task appears simple enough, the Boer enemy causes a multitude of problems, but you, astute reader, with a sharp mind and quick intellect, will no doubt, solve the problem before the first shot is fired.


Ashok K Mehta 

The immediate task is to defuse the stand-off at Doklam. It may require External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meeting her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to untie the knot

More than a month after the standoff at Doklam, the reading of tea leaves by India and China is different. The latest statements by Xinhua last Saturday said quite a bit: In sum, there is no room for talks till Indian troops who illegally trespassed, withdraw first; there can be no compromise on territorial and sovereignty issues; Doklam is not like previous issues as trespass into Chinese territory across a mutually recognised border line is different from frictions that happened in undefined sections of the boundary; India has lied that it sent troops to help Bhutan but there was no invitation from Bhutan; India will face embarrassment as the situation could get worse.

A live fire exercise involving 5,000 troops was held in Tibet opposite Arunachal Pradesh recently. This could be the escalating psywar and mindgames being played, but it also has a message that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is ready for any contingency. Meanwhile, China has briefed foreign diplomats in Beijing on Doklam, saying its troops are waiting patiently but not indefinitely. Conspicuously Beijing has ignored contents of Bhutan’s demarche and India’s Press release. 

No common ground on the Doklam plateau

M. K. Narayanan

China and India see the stand-off very differently — it’s important for the Special Representatives to meet

The Doklam plateau has become the unlikely scene of the latest India-China imbroglio. The region falls within Bhutanese territory, but this is now questioned by China. The Chumbi valley is vital for India, and any change is fraught with dangerous possibilities. The incident stems from differences between Bhutan and India on the one hand and China on the other as to the exact location of the tri-junction between the three countries.

In 2007, India and Bhutan had negotiated a Friendship Treaty to replace an earlier one. According to the revised treaty, the two countries are committed to coordinate on issues relating to their national interests. The terms of the 2007 Friendship Treaty are somewhat milder than the one it replaced, which provided India greater latitude in determining Bhutan’s foreign relations, but there is little doubt about the import of the revised treaty.

Cartographic aggression

China’s current claims over the Doklam plateau should be seen as yet another instance of cartographic aggression, which China often engages in. It is, however, China’s action of building an all-weather road on Bhutan’s territory, one capable of sustaining heavy vehicles, that has prompted Bhutan and India to coordinate their actions in their joint national interests, under the terms of the 2007 Friendship Treaty.

China briefs envoys on Doklam stand-off: Our troops waiting patiently, won’t do so indefinitely

by Shubhajit Roy

Doklam standoff: This has the diplomatic community in Beijing worried, and some have conveyed this message to their Indian counterparts in Beijing and Bhutanese counterparts in New Delhi.

A month into the standoff at Doklam, China has conveyed to foreign diplomats in Beijing that troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been waiting patiently at the plateau — China claims the Bhutanese land at the trijunction with India and calls it Donglong — but will not wait for an indefinite period, The Indian Express has learnt.

This has the diplomatic community in Beijing worried, and some have conveyed this message to their Indian counterparts in Beijing and Bhutanese counterparts in New Delhi. Last month, Indian troops blocked Chinese road works in Doklam and have since been in a faceoff with PLA troops. Beijing has been insisting that New Delhi back down.

Sources told The Indian Express that Chinese officials, at a closed-door briefing last week, conveyed their version of events to diplomats stationed in Beijing. Some of the G-20 countries have been briefed by the Chinese government separately.

“Our colleagues in Beijing attended the briefing and were given the impression that the Chinese side will not be waiting for an indefinite period. This is quite worrying, and we have conveyed it to our Indian colleagues in Beijing and Bhutanese colleagues in Delhi,” a diplomat from one of the P-5 (permanent members of the UN Security Council) countries, told The Indian Express.

Why 2017 is not 1962

Bhopinder Singh

Structurally also, the independent PLA is a potential threat to its own regime of the Communist Party of China.

When Chinese editorials of its controlled media were baying for Indian blood and suggesting that Indians should “not forget history lessons” of 1962, the sharp rebuttal from defence minister Arun Jaitley that “the situation in 1962 was different, the India of today is different”, was not a political tit-for-tat but a cold reality that needs to be reiterated, stripped of any hyper-nationalistic import.

The defence forces of India are specially guarded and weigh each word thoroughly through the prism of hard facts, as opposed to any political posturing. Herein the underpinning calculus of the Indian Army Chief’s stoic comment — that “India was ready for a two-and-a-half-front-war” — was a further confirmation of the Indian preparedness towards any eventuality. This is a fact, despite the numerical and material superiority that China has maintained over India since the 1962 war, and even during the 1967 border conflict at Nathu La and Cho La, as indeed now in 2017.

It is equally true that China’s military investments are approximately thrice that of India’s ($151 billion as opposed to $51 billion for India in 2017), and that its standing Army is nearly twice that of India’s (2.3 million to 1.3 million), or even that its estimated nuclear warheads are more than twice that of India’s (260 to 110). However, none of these statistics count in a restricted war in an isolated theatre. Intrinsically and perversely, the reality of nuclear warheads at the disposal of both the Chinese and Indian regimes fundamentally alter the dynamics as compared to 1962. It acts as a deterrent against escalation to a full-scale war — no two nuclear-armed countries have ever gone to a full-scale war. Principles of “calculated ambiguity” and “second-strike capability” in nuclear doctrines militates against any unilateral approach to undertake one decisive strike, using both conventional and nuclear arms. So, in essence, the equanimity afforded by the joint nuclear status constrains conflicts between warring nations to be restricted to a limited theatre, like Doklam.

The Bhutan Stand-Off Is an Opportunity, Not a Threat

By Prem Shankar Jha

If Narendra Modi takes the pressure off Bhutan and instead focuses on the legal arguments China is making, he will find he can resolve the Sino-Indian boundary quickly.

History is in imminent danger of repeating itself, and of doing so with uncanny fidelity. All the conditions that had led to India’s crushing, humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 have recreated themselves: we have once more an eyeball to eyeball confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops along a disputed border in the Himalayas. We have a prime minister making one provocative move after another towards the dragon in the north, gambling on it not spewing fire and burning us at some point.

We once more have an army unprepared for battle, whose capabilities are being exaggerated by a hand-picked army chief selected for political reasons after superseding two first-class officers who, the prime minister felt, might prove less amenable to obeying orders that went against the army’s code of conduct. We even have another tri-junction between Sikkim, Bhutan and China, as a flash point for the next war as the Dhola post was for the last one.

Repeating a scripted war?

Employment 4.0: bug, not feature

Manish Sabharwal, Rituparna Chakraborty

In the US, 31% of workers are now self-employed, freelancing or in gig economy work. But India is ahead of the US; about 75% of our labour force meets the same criteria. Uber is in the news for the wrong reasons but platform companies like it have already changed labour markets in rich countries and the model will influence even poor-country labour markets like India in the long run. But we’d like to make the case that a) India’s huge self-employment is not a feature but a bug because not all entrepreneurship is viable and not everybody can be an entrepreneur, b) employment is changing globally but formal employment is not about to go extinct and there is such a thing as bad self-employment, c) policymakers in India should focus on increasing formal wage employment and good self-employment. Let’s look at each point in more detail.

The only reconciliation of our 4.9% unemployment rate with 40% of our labour force being working poor (people making enough money to live but not enough money to pull out of poverty) is that most of our self-employed (50% of our labour force) are not productive enough to make ends meet. This huge self-employment is not some overweight entrepreneurial gene among Indians; the poor cannot afford to be unemployed so they are self-employed. While self-employment is often positioned as a labour market shock absorber for poor countries, it’s time to distinguish between good and bad self-employment.

Beyond Doklam Standoff, How India Can Trump China On Economic Front

India and China are not only neighbours but also rivals. They jostle with one another along the borders in three sectors, over support to Pakistan and terror outfits, in taking global leadership roles on critical issues, over NSG membership, as military powers, as regional leaders, over Nepal and of course, Doklam plateau of Bhutan.

India and China together are home to little less than 37 per cent population of the world and thus are centres of future. They are the biggest emerging powers of the world.

China has achieved more progress and prosperity over the last two-three decades by increasing public investment in its manufacturing industries. India is in catching up game right now, but there are indications that the tide is turning against China and in favour of India.


For better part of the last three decades, China has grown at the fastest rate among big economies. India’s growth rates were dwarfed by the Chinese. The economy of China is about five times bigger than that of India.

China achieved this growth riding on the back of massive investment in urban based manufacturing and infrastructure. The manufacturing infrastructure of China has now reached a point of diminishing returns. There are several reports about crisis in manufacturing sector in China.

TPP and India: Lessons for Future Gains

Harsha Vardhana Singh

Until 2015, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was seen as a game-changer in the evolving international trade regulatory regime. It was evident, as expressed by India’s Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020, that it would not be possible for the country to accept the emerging agreement. The future of TPP is now uncertain, with the US, the largest economy in the TPP, withdrawing from the agreement. This is of some relief to India because the TPP would have eroded India’s access to certain key international markets. The present situation, however, gives more than just relief: it creates several important opportunities for India. The text of the TPP agreement provides a template for potentially helping India with its domestic policy reform, its regional or multilateral collaborative initiatives (e.g. for regulatory coherence), and even with some ideas to mitigate the concerns arising in trade negotiations at the regional or WTO level.

Of particular interest could be, for instance, the good governance principles agreed under TPP, i.e. transparency of procedures and regulations, timely decision, processes to facilitate transactions, standards of review, and support to improve institutional capabilities. The TPP also establishes collaborative and consultative mechanisms amongst different countries, and identifies policies that are used to improve cost-effectiveness and efficiency of domestic production and trade. For regulatory regimes, the template includes provisions relating to the regime in general, as well as for certain specific product areas. Further, in view of the rapid evolution of international trade conditions, it would also be worthwhile to consider both the platform for discussion established by TPP, as well as the specific areas and mechanisms identified for its Committees to address emerging concerns and new issues.

Trump's Afghanistan Strategy Is Simply Old Wine in a New Bottle

Michael Kugelman

If America goes all-in on Afghanistan and fails, it'll be easier to walk away.

Afghanistan has suffered through a harrowing summer, even by the nightmarish standards of a country convulsed by conflict for decades.

On May 31, a truck bomb exploded in Kabul’s heavily fortified diplomatic enclave, killing more than 150 people. On June 2, Afghans, furious about their government’s failure to provide security, took to the streets of Kabul. Security forces cracked down, killing at least five people. One of them was the son of the deputy leader of Afghanistan’s Senate. His funeral the next day, attended by top Afghan political leaders, was rocked by three explosions that killed at least twenty people.

This merciless cycle of violence continued unabated. Two bomb blasts at Shia Muslim mosques, one in Herat on June 6 and the other in Kabul on June 15, killed seven and four people, respectively. On June 18, an assault on a police station in eastern Afghanistan killed five officers. On June 20, eight Afghan guards employed at Bagram, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, were gunned down in an ambush as they headed to the base to work a night shift. And on June 22, a car bomb outside a bank in Helmand Province claimed at least thirty lives.

That’s at least 229 dead in just twenty-three days.

Against this bloody backdrop, the Trump administration plans to send several thousand more soldiers to Afghanistan—even as it continues to flesh out a broader strategy.

Trump's new Afghanistan strategy may draw on old, controversial methods


In keeping with his elevation of military leaders to roles in policymaking, President Donald Trump has delegated the authority to set US troop levels in Afghanistan to Defense Secretary James Mattis, though that power reportedly comes with limits .

But the administration has yet to settle on an overarching strategy for the US' nearly 16-year-long campaign in the war-torn country.

And, according to The New York Times, Trump's advisers have turned to a controversial set of consultants to help develop their new Afghanistan policy.

Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser and son-in-law, called in Erik Prince, who founded the Blackwater private-security firm, and Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire who owns military contractor DynCorp, to create proposals to use contractors in Afghanistan rather than US troops.

According to the Times, Bannon was able to track down Mattis at the Pentagon on July 8 and brought in Prince and Feinberg to describe their proposal to the defense secretary.

Mattis, whom the Times said "listened politely," ultimately declined to include their ideas in his review of the war in Afghanistan, which he and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster are set to deliver to Trump this month.

China to Trim Its Army: What Does It Mean for India and the Region?

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The PLA will increase the numbers of other services, including navy and missile forces, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, reported.

"The old military structure, where the army accounts for the vast majority, will be replaced after the reform. The reform is based on China's strategic goals and security requirements. In the past, the PLA focused on ground battle and homeland defence, which will undergo fundamental changes," the report said.

"This is the first time that active PLA army personnel would be reduced to below one million," it added.

The report said the number of troops in the PLA Navy, PLA Strategic Support Force and the PLA Rocket Force will be increased, while the PLA Air Force's active service personnel will remain the same.

The PLA Army had about 850,000 combat troops in 2013, according to the Ministry of Defence data.

The PLA Daily article also said that China's interests are spread around the globe and needed to be protected.



As China and India find themselves in the middle of yet another military standoffin the high Himalayas, their age-old border problem is back on the boil. Or so it would seem. The underlying causes of the current round of hostilities, which broke out last month in the tri-junction of Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan where China was building a road, run much deeper and are rooted in the deeper churning in the region as a result of the simultaneous rise of two great and proud peoples.

For much of the 60 years that followed the emergence in the late 1940s of China and India from century-long periods of foreign domination, China remained a bit player in the South Asian-Indian Ocean region (SA-IOR). The tyranny of distance imposed on China by the length between its east coast centres of power and the Indian subcontinent combined with the forbidding terrain of the Tibetan plateau and associated mountain ranges separating China and India helped India hedge against China’s thrusts into the region.

A key player in China and the EU's 'third industrial revolution' describes the economy of tomorrow


Jeremy Rifkin is an adviser to the EU leadership and that of the People's Republic of China. He was an adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the third industrial revolution.

He is a principal architect of the EU's long-term third industrial revolution economic vision called Smart Europe and is advising the European Commission on the deployment of the plan across the continent. Rifkin is also a principal architect of China's third industrial revolution vision and an adviser to government agencies on the deployment of the China Internet Plus transformation underway in the 13th Five-Year Plan.

Rifkin is president of the TIR Consulting Group, which works with regions across Europe to conceptualize, build out, and scale third industrial revolution infrastructure. He is also a lecturer at the Wharton School's Executive Education Program.

Business Insider spoke with Rifkin about the challenges and opportunities associated with the "third industrial revolution ," energy, and the sharing economy.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Graham Rapier assisted with reporting.

Why Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal Will Live On

Farhad Rezaei

The Trump administration should focus on pressuring Iran on missiles and support of terrorism.

On July 14, 2015, Iran signed the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement along with P5+1 countries China, France, Germany Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. After an unprecedented lobbying campaign, Congress approved the deal following an acrimonious debate between Republicans who vehemently opposed the agreement and Democrats who sided with the Obama administration. President Donald Trump has been highly critical of the deal, but so far no changes have been made to the situation.

On April 18, 2017, the Department of State certified Iran as being in compliance with the agreement as required by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted that “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism” and that the administration would conduct a comprehensive review of the Iran policy. The review “will evaluate whether the suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national-security interest of the United States.” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently complained that Iran violated the spirit of the agreement by conducting tests of a missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads prohibited under Security Council Resolution 2231. Hailey also noted that Iran violated the JCPOA provision of the arms embargo on Iran, which was further elaborated upon in paragraph five of Annex B of Resolution 2231.

Russia's Next Super Weapons: Big Aircraft Carriers and Nuclear-Powered Destroyers?

Dave Majumdar

Russia is likely to build larger surface combatants in the coming years—with larger corvettes and frigates in the works. However, Moscow is not likely to spend large sums of money to build massive new vessels such as the gargantuan 14,000-ton Leader-class nuclear-powered destroyers or 100,000-ton Storm aircraft carriers. Instead, Russia will likely build scaled up versions of existing warship designs.

“Russia’s corvettes and frigates are set to get bigger in order to accommodate larger magazines and more weapon systems,” Center for Naval Analysis research scientist Michael Kofman wrote in his personal blog.

“The general direction is heavier corvettes and frigates, with modifications in existing designs and some new ‘heavy’ variants afoot.”

Indeed, the Leader-class is unlikely to ever be built. Moscow will more likely build a smaller and more cost effective vessel based on its Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates. The new “Super Gorshkovs” are likely to displace about 8,000-tons, which is about size of a normal destroyer.

“The absence of gas turbines from Ukraine stalled out Gorshkov-class frigate production at two, and created an opportunity for further expansion of the design to the ‘Super-Gorshkov.’ That suggests there will be 2-4 Gorshkov-class frigates in this series, and then something new that’s at least 1000 tons larger,” Kofman wrote.

Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped?

Sometimes it is hard to grasp how quickly the giant tech companies have come to dominate the world economy. Ten years ago, only one of them, Microsoft , was among the biggest companies in the world as measured by market capitalization. These days, the top five usually consists of Apple , Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon , Microsoft and Facebook .
It has been an astonishingly rapid rise for the tech giants, and it’s far from over. The big question for the future is: How will their ever-expanding control affect other businesses and the labor market?

Over the past decade, Google, Facebook and Amazon have wreaked havoc on much of the creative economy—journalists, musicians, authors, filmmakers. In the decade ahead, the tech behemoths will use their dominance in artificial intelligence to overturn much of the service economy as well, including transportation, medicine and retail. With what result? To give just one example, Goldman Sachs recently reported that self-driving cars (a technology that both Google and Apple are developing) could eliminate as many as 300,000 jobs a year in two decades or more.

Will we be ready when the flood of unemployment brought about by the artificial-intelligence revolution is upon us? Politicians are dodging the issue, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently assured Mike Allen of the news website Axios that any big change wouldn’t arrive for up to a century: “I think that is so far in the future—in terms of artificial intelligence taking over American jobs—I think we’re, like, so far away from that, that [it is] not even on my radar screen.” At the Code Conference in California earlier this summer, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen also rejected this “fallacy.” “It’s a recurring panic,” he said. “This happens every 25 or 50 years. People get all amped up about ‘machines are going to take all the jobs,’ and it never happens.”

Terrorist Use of Virtual Currencies: Containing the Potential Threat

Will virtual currencies (VC) increasingly replace traditional methods of funding terrorism, including the halawa system? According to Zachary Goldman et al, extremists in the Gaza Strip have already used virtual currencies to fund their operations and members of the Islamic State have been particularly receptive to the new technology, at least at the local level. To prevent the spread of VC funding on a larger scale, our authors argue that counterterrorism communities should adopt three guiding principles to shape their future policies. Explore them here.


This Is the Story Of General George S. Patton's Only Military Defeat

The road to Fort Driant began for the United States Third Army when it landed on Utah Beach at 3 pm on August 5, 1944. The Third Army had been activated four days earlier in England under the command of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

The four corps that made up the Third Army were VIII Corps under Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton, XII Corps under Maj. Gen. Gilbert R. Cook (later replaced by Maj. Gen. Manton S. Eddy), XV Corps under Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip, and XX Corps under Maj. Gen. Walton H. Walker. Walker was one of Patton’s personal favorites, and he once said of Walker, “He will apparently fight anytime, anywhere, and with anything that I will give him.” That opinion would be put to the test during the Lorraine Campaign that autumn.

Once the army became operational, it did not take Patton long to engage in the hard-driving cavalry tactics that he loved best. The Third Army was able to break out of the French hedgerow country and by August 20 had entered Argentan just southeast of Falaise. The only part of Third Army that was tied down was the XV Corps fighting against the tough German defensive positions in Brittany.

On August 25, the 80th Division began its move to eastern France with an advance of 280 miles in one day. The division then concentrated around Collemieres and two days later crossed the Seine, Aube, and Marne Rivers. By the end of August, the XII Corps had advanced to the high ground east of the Meuse River near St. Mihiel. This place had special significance for Patton because he had been wounded there during World War I. Problems began for the Third Army when Patton was informed by General Omar Bradley, who commanded 12th Army Group, that there would be no more gasoline shipments until September 3. For a highly mobile army like Patton’s, this became a problem of catastrophic

Why America's Army Is Falling Apart

Douglas Macgregor

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that qualified, fresh blood is desperately needed in the Army’s general officer ranks.

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told President Trump's nominee for Army Undersecretary, Ryan McCarthy, a Lockheed Martin Executive and former aid to Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, that “the U.S. Army is facing a crisis.” Senators drew attention to the Army's ever-growing multibillion-dollar acquisition graveyard including the titanic $20 Billion Future Combat System and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, a six-billion dollar failed communications program.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that qualified, fresh blood is desperately needed in the Army’s general officer ranks, as well as, in the office of the Army Secretariat. The Army does not need an unqualified hedge-fund manager, a flamboyant social engineer, or another “revolving door” defense industry executive committed to “business as usual.”

The Army is on track to lose more than money unless President Trump appoints a forceful and informed Secretary of the Army—one who is prepared to impose accountability on his generals and demand sweeping change. It’s going to lose the first battle of the next war. And, in the twenty-first century, Americans may not get a chance to fight a second battle.

The Army’s problems are not financial. Thanks to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Army will receive an annual sum of $137 to $149 billion—a sum that is vastly larger than the Russian National Defense Budget. The failures in Army modernization and readiness are due to the Army generals’ fanatical resistance to fundamental organizational reform, prudent modernization and change in the way the Army must fight in the future.

SOF's Evolving Role: Warfare 'By, With, and Through' Local Forces

by Linda Robinson

The role of U.S. special operations forces (SOF) in the Middle East has expanded steadily since the inception of the counter-ISIS campaign in 2014. In part, this expansion is due to the metastasis of ISIS into Libya, Yemen, and other countries beyond its major land-holding presence in Iraq and Syria. But the most notable feature of the expanded U.S. SOF role in the Middle East has been its work alongside indigenous forces in Iraq and Syria. Conventional and coalition forces provide additional numbers of troops. What makes this campaign so unusual is that U.S. forces are not providing the muscle of the frontline combat troops. Instead, the campaign is conducted “by, with, and through” others, a Special Forces phrase that the CENTCOM commander, General Joseph Votel, has adopted to call attention to this new way of warfighting. If the counter-ISIS campaign succeeds in dislodging ISIS from Iraq and Syria, this approach is more likely to be considered for other, similar conflicts.

During seven weeks visiting Iraq, Syria, and neighboring countries this year, I observed three major changes in how the campaign accounts for its increasing momentum. First, the number of advisers and supporting forces has now reached a level that can provide meaningful support to the variety of indigenous forces fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. That number is hovering around 10,000, including forces deployed in-country on temporary duty. Special operations forces are advising a variety of partners, including the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), tribal forces and Iraqi Kurds. In Syria, they are assisting Kurdish groups, particularly the YPG (Popular Protection Units), and a variety of Arab forces. As in Afghanistan, U.S. SOF count on major support from their closest SOF partners in Britain, Australia, and Canada, as well as the Danes, Norwegians, and French. While SOF are at the forefront of the tactical-level advising, U.S. and coalition conventional forces have been training forces at five main bases and advising at the headquarters level.

Special Forces Soldiers Could Soon Be Deployed In SPACE To Strike Anywhere On Earth In Minutes

SPECIAL Forces soldiers could be stationed in space, the head of the US Airforce said yesterday.

US General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, said space “special operators” would be able to strike anywhere in the globe within minutes from a military mothership in the stars.

Incredibly the scenario – which sounds like something from a sci-fi novel – is already being made possible.

The top Airforce officer – who commands 660,000 airmen and women – said technology developed by British Tycoon Richard Branson was paving the way.

He revealed Branson’s bid to make space open to tourists could create chances for elite Special Forces operations.

He told the Air Power Conference – a summit for leading airforce officers from around the world- in London: “Sir Richard Branson has developed Virgin Galactic.

Please Prove You’re Not a Robot


When science fiction writers first imagined robot invasions, the idea was that bots would become smart and powerful enough to take over the world by force, whether on their own or as directed by some evildoer. In reality, something only slightly less scary is happening. Robots are getting better, every day, at impersonating humans. When directed by opportunists, malefactors and sometimes even nation-states, they pose a particular threat to democratic societies, which are premised on being open to the people.

Robots posing as people have become a menace. For popular Broadway shows (need we say “Hamilton”?), it is actually bots, not humans, who do much and maybe most of the ticket buying. Shows sell out immediately, and the middlemen (quite literally, evil robot masters) reap millions in ill-gotten gains.

Philip Howard, who runs the Computational Propaganda Research Project at Oxford, studied the deployment of propaganda bots during voting on Brexit, and the recent American and French presidential elections. Twitter is particularly distorted by its millions of robot accounts; during the French election, it was principally Twitter robots who were trying to make #MacronLeaks into a scandal. Facebook has admitted it was essentially hacked during the American election in November. In Michigan, Mr. Howard notes, “junk news was shared just as widely as professional news in the days leading up to the election.”

The UN GGE Failed. Is International Law in Cyberspace Doomed As Well?

The fifth edition of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE)—tasked with developing a “common understanding” of how states should behave in cyberspace—failed last week, with several states not agreeing to the final draft report. Still, predictions of the death of international law at the hands of the GGE on cyberspace are greatly exaggerated.

For lack of consensus, the GGE will not submit a report of its recommendations to the UN General Assembly. The GGE failed because it could not agree on draft paragraph 34, detailing how international law applies to the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by states. Some states that refused to endorse this paragraph offered the untenable—and frankly, facetious—rationale that affirming the application of the UN charter principles on the use of force and international humanitarian law would result in the “militarisation” of cyberspace. Others doggedly insisted on including the right to apply “countermeasures” in scenarios that fell below the threshold of the ‘use of force’ in cyberspace, which risks opening the door further for destabilizing conduct. In the end, both sides missed the forest for the trees. The 2016-17 UN GGE had made measurable progress in clarifying certain norms of behavior for state and non-state actors. In the fracas over the paragraph, the participants failed to appreciate that the codification of norms and principles does more for a cyberspace regime than any endorsement of international legal principles.

When The NSA Spots A Crack In Commercial Software – Should It Tell?

One of the only tasks the U.S. Constitution declares that the federal government must do is to provide for the common defense. That is the government’s foundational truth and purpose; to protect American lives, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness from those that would disrupt it. So, the question on whether and when government should disclose digital vulnerabilities should be explored from the perspective of which option does a better job at defending Americans.

First is the emotional argument that government is putting grandma at risk by not immediately disclosing vulnerabilities. In reality, she is already at risk from the metric ton of published vulnerabilities that remain un-remediated for up to a decade across the network. And grandma, with potentially limited technical capabilities, would not be able to shore up her defense even once a patch is released unless a grandchild would come over. Therefore, if the main reason why we should disclose all vulnerabilities is to improve American citizens’ individual defense, more disclosure won’t help. Figuring out how to mandate or automate the patching of devices by default would be the key to individual defense in order to enable a stronger collective defense.

Encrypted Satellite Phone Calls Can Be Hacked In Fractions Of A Second — According To New Research

Why am I not surprised. Nothing digital, or ‘connected’ to the Internet, or network/s should ever be considered ‘safe.’ And, to a more of a degree than you probably think — that goes for encryption as well. Swati Khandelwal had a July 10, 2017 article in the HackerNews.com, warning that “researchers have discovered a new method to decrypt satellite phone communications encrypted with the GMR-2 cypher in “real time” — in some cases, in mere fractions of a second.”

This “new attack method has been [was recently discovered] by two Chinese researchers; and, is based on previous research by German academicians in 2012, showing that the phone’s encryption can be cracked so quickly — that the attackers can listen in….in real time,” Ms. Khandelwal wrote. The research was detailed in a paper published earlier this month, see attachment, Ms. Khandelwal notes, “by researchers at the International Association for Cryptologic Research, focused on the GMR-2 encryption algorithm, that is commonly being used in most satellite phones, including British satellite telecom – Inmarsat — to encrypt voice calls in order to prevent eavesdropping,” or so they thought. 

U.S. Finalizing Plans to Revamp Cyber Command

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation’s military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America’s ability to wage cyber war against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials.

Under the plans, U.S. Cyber Command would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency.

Details are still being worked out, but officials say they expect a decision and announcement in the coming weeks. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter so requested anonymity.

The goal, they said, is to give U.S. Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA, which is responsible for monitoring and collecting telephone, internet and other intelligence data from around the world — a responsibility that can sometimes clash with military operations against enemy forces.

Making cyber an independent military command will put the fight in digital space on the same footing as more traditional realms of battle on land, in the air, at sea and in space. The move reflects the escalating threat of cyberattacks and intrusions from other nation states, terrorist groups and hackers, and comes as the U.S. faces ever-widening fears about Russian hacking following Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 American election.