28 July 2017

*** Talk Point: Can Doklam be contained? Will the tensions go beyond Doklam?

Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in their longest border face-off in decades in the Doklam tri-junction area. More than 400 soldiers of the two countries have pitched tents in the mountainous region after the Indian Army says it stopped PLA soldiers from building a road in the disputed region. The diplomatic discourse between Beijing and New Delhi has become shrill with Chinese officials telling India “not to push your luck” and “go out” of the area. Washington has stepped in and urged the Asian giants to speak to each other and resolve the crisis.

As Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval heads to Beijing this week for talks, hoping to end the confrontation, we ask experts if Doklam can be contained, or if these tensions will only escalate.

*** A Different Kind of Reset in Russia

By George Friedman

The U.S. Congress is close to passing a resolution increasing sanctions on Russia, along with Iran and North Korea, and it’s likely that President Donald Trump will approve it. The bill passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming and bipartisan support, revised primarily to give some leeway to energy companies involved in joint ventures with Russia. The bill takes authority away from the president to suspend sanctions except in specific cases. Since any rapprochement with Russia would have to include a suspension of sanctions, this effectively takes a great deal of control over U.S.-Russian relations out of the hands of the president and shifts it to Congress. This is not unprecedented; Congress did something similar over Iran during Barack Obama’s presidency.

The new sanctions primarily tighten existing ones and extend them to joint energy ventures. It should be remembered that sanctions on Russia were put in place in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. At the time, there were demands that the West take some sort of military action in Ukraine to block Russia. Sanctions were adopted as a more modest alternative. In some sense they were merely a gesture, sanctioning individuals and particular companies rather than Russia as a whole. The view in the West was that this signaled the West’s will. What it signaled to Russia was a lack of will. Neither side budged, and the sanctions went from interim step to permanent reality. What this new sanctions bill does, as far as the United States is concerned, is cement them into place, addressing the most sensitive pressure point in Russia: its energy industry.

Why is the Dalai Lama silent?

R K Sinha 

Even as India-China ties touch a new low over a border dispute and war clouds loom large, the absence of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama from the scene is unbelievable to say the least. Not only Dalai Lama, but even the Tibetans living in India are silent.

They are also not visible. Why is the Dalai Lama not attacking China over its imperialist designs and building opinion against the dragon for threatening war against India? He prefers to keep quiet at a time when tensions are mounting. The two Asian giants have close to a 4,000 km long border.

It is a disputed one. It would be an understatement to say that the situation is grave and serious as 6,000 soldiers are facing each other eyeball-to-eyeball.

Amidst all this, the respected leader from Tibet is not seen. This is the time when he could and should pro-actively use his good offices and stature to appraise top leaders of the world about the current situation. Further, he could tell them how brutally the Chinese government is treating people in Tibet.

40 terror shops come under NIA lens in Kashmir, cross-border traders using business for hawala money

Investigations into the money trail coming in from Pakistan-based terror outfits to Kashmiri separatists to fuel violence in the Valley has gone back to the 90s with over a dozen properties, over a score cross-border traders and some 50 WhatsApp and social media groups coming under the scanner of central investigating agencies. 

According to a senior government official, a collective crackdown by agencies is going to have a long-term effect in the Valley in restoring peace as it has cut down the financial links of anti-social elements in Kashmir from their handlers in Pakistan. 

Both the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are separately investigating cases of terror funding and subversive activities. 

While the NIA has arrested seven Kashmiri separatist leaders, who were sent to 10-day judicial custody, ED arrested Shabir Shah - one of the founders of Kashmiri separatism, who was remanded to ED custody for seven days. 

While probing these cases, security agencies have unearthed some faces of stone-pelters, properties of separatist leaders that doesn't match with their income and dirty transactions by Indo-Pak traders. 

Crackdown on terror funding may alter landscape of militancy in Kashmir

Shaswati Das

New Delhi: The arrest of seven separatist leaders, remanded to 10-day police custody on Tuesday, for their alleged involvement in terror funding could drastically alter the landscape of militancy in Kashmir, experts say.

While one of them, Altaf Shah, is hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law, the other six—Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Mehraj Kalwal, Shahid-ul-Islam, Naeem Khan and Bitta Karate—are alleged to have close links to the Hurriyat.

While the Hurriyat and other separatist leaders have been the intellectual and political face of militancy in Kashmir, this crackdown sets in stone the fact that the separatists have links to Pakistan- sponsored terror organizations, security experts said. It also proves that internal trade routes across India too are actively involved in the process, they said.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which made the arrests, has come to the conclusion that the funding was received through “illegal means and hawala channels.” A senior intelligence officer, who did not wish to be identified, stated that one of the main sources of illegal income was the carpets and dry fruits trade route.

“One of the main sources of funds is invoicing fraud during trade deals. If a retailer in another state says that he is buying dry fruits from Kashmir worth Rs25 lakhs, he actually pays the wholesaler in Kashmir Rs1 crore, while the invoice reflects the former amount. The remaining Rs75 lakh is then released in very small instalments of Rs1.5-2 lakh to fund the (protesting) stone pelters,” the officer said.

More than the Doklam issue, Bhutan worried about hydropower deficits

by Tenzing Lamsang

To make it eminently clear, while Doklam is allegedly “disputed” territory between Bhutan and China it has a far bigger impact on India’s security, in the analysis of India’s own experts and commentators.

The Doklam standoff on territory claimed by Bhutan has gone on for a full 45 days and is expected to go on longer. In this short period there has been a profusion of articles from both Indian and Chinese news outlets that supposes many things for Bhutan, including speculation about the impact this crisis will have in relations between Bhutan and India.

The Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) has made its position clear in a demarche issued to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi by the Bhutanese Embassy on June 20, on the road construction being carried out by the Chinese, followed by a more detailed statement issued by Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry on June 29. India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated on June 30 that it moved into the area after “coordination with the RGoB.”

NSA Ajit Doval heads to China: Doklam on the table, but who will blink first?


As National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval heads to Beijing, analysts say that both India and China are expected to stick to their positions.

NSA Doval is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Yang Jeichi for what is being called an informal consultation during his two-day visit for the BRICS NSA Summit. It is more than likely that the standoff at the Doklam plateau will be discussed.

“He is going with the government’s clear mandate that India wants a mutual withdrawal, not the unilateral withdrawal that China is demanding,” says Srikanth Kondapalli, Professor of Chinese Studies at JNU. 


Only a day before, Chinese daily /Global Times/ ran an editorial targeting NSA Doval and how he is the main schemer. It spoke of how no resolution should be expected till India withdraw its troops. 

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi also waded into the debate and said: "The rights and wrongs are very clear and even senior Indian officials have openly stated that Chinese troops did not enter into the Indian territory." 

The people trying to fight fake news in India

By Ayeshea Perera

Image captionFor a majority of Indians, their first point of exposure to the internet is via their phone

Earlier this year, mobs in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand beat seven people to death in two separate incidents that horrified the country.

After the dust had settled, it transpired that the victims had been mistaken for child traffickers.

The trigger was a WhatsApp message that had gone viral, urging people to be careful of strangers as they most likely belonged to a "child lifting gang".

As the message passed on, police say hysteria increased. Villagers armed themselves and began attacking anyone they did not recognise, with tragic results.

Unlike in western countries, most of India's fake news spreads via WhatsApp and mobile phone messages, because for a majority of Indians, their first point of exposure to the internet is via their phone. 

India 3rd Most Terrorism-Hit Country In 2016 With 927 Attacks: US Govt

India has witnessed the third highest number of terrorist attacks in 2016, more than Pakistan that has slipped to the fourth position, according to the latest data compiled by the US State Department.

Iraq with 2,965 terrorist attacks and Afghanistan with 1,340 terrorist attacks, were ranked first and second position respectively, followed by India that recorded 927 attacks and Pakistan at 734 attacks, the department said in its Country Report on Terrorism.

The department said more than half of the terrorist attacks in India in 2016 took place in four states: Jammu and Kashmir at 19 per cent, Chhattisgarh at 18 per cent, Manipur at 12 per cent, and Jharkhand at 10 per cent.

This geographic pattern is relatively stable compared to 2015, with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir, which experienced an increase of 93 per cent in attacks in 2016, it said.

In its annual report, the department said the number of terrorist attacks has increased by 16 per cent and the total number of deaths has increased by 17 per cent in India in 2016.

Sikkim standoff: India, China faceoff in Doklam; here are critical things you may not know

Indian Army and China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) have been locked in a stand off mode on the Dolam plateau in Doklam area. While Bejing resorted to sending fierce warnings, New Delhi has maintained that diplomatic dialogue is the only way to resolve the issue.

Indian Army and China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) have been locked in a stand off mode on the Dolam plateau in Doklam area. While Bejing resorted to sending fierce warnings, New Delhi has maintained that diplomatic dialogue is the only way to resolve the issue. China claimed that it is their own territory. India strongly refuted that by saying Bhutan and the world support New Delhi’s bold move. As the tension escalates, take a look at what this Dolam plateau is and why it has become a bone of contention between these countries.

1. The standoff is at Dolam plateau, which is in the Doklam area as referred to in the statements of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Embassy of Bhutan in New Delhi. However, the Dolam plateau is different from Doklam plateau. The Doklam plateau lies around 30 km to the north east of Dolam plateau. Doklam is called Donglang by China, according to Indian Express report.

How lack of synergy is hurting Indian Army's hunt for weapons


The four lions atop the Ashokan pillar at Sarnath are an awe-inspiring emblem of the modern Indian state - a representation of an omnidirectional government.

But what if the four lions didn't talk to each other? You have what could be called the Ashokan Lion syndrome.

This syndrome comes to play in monolithic organisations with multiple stakeholders, all of them fiercely protecting their own turf.

The government and the gigantic ministry of defence with all its departments are where it could hurt the most.

In the armed forces, this syndrome results in each service gearing up to fight their individual wars. The joint doctrine of the Army, Navy and Air Force unveiled this April - is a joke.

Inter-service rivalry is not a uniquely Indian problem. The US air force, army and navy could not see eye for eye before they were forced to, by an act of Congress in 1986, producing today's jointly integrated US armed forces.

Multiplicity of vision is among the biggest hurdles to the government's Make in India programme which aims to create an indigenous defence industry.

A defence industry cannot take off without significant projects. These projects, in turn, cannot succeed without all stakeholders being on board. When all critical components of an organisation work in silos it leads to time, cost and wastage of national resources.

Fixing Afghanistan's Struggling Security Forces

By Ghulam Farooq Mujaddidi

In order to prevent the increasingly damaging deadly suicide attacks in the Afghan capital and across the country, reduce the unsustainable battlefield casualties of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), and reverse insurgents’ unprecedented territorial gains, Kabul and Washington must rethink their current strategy and address inherent problems in their approach to building the ANDSF. Time has proven that restricting the U.S.-led foreign troops’ role to training and advising in building a professional ANDSF has failed to produce the desired outcome, and ignoring the need to invest in and revitalize the Afghan intelligence agency – the National Directorate of Security (NDS) – has been a costly mistake.

Therefore, rather than solely concentrating on short-term fixes, the Trump administrations and the Afghan government must look for lasting solutions and prioritize reforming the neglected NDS and jointly embark on depoliticizing the ANDSF.

Right now, due to deeply entrenched patronage networks, catastrophic but prevalent nepotism, and rampant ethnic favoritism, endemic corruption and poor leadership are haunting ANDSF institutions and ruining the Afghan forces’ capabilities. Tales of commanders stealing fuel, food, and even weapons are widespread, as are the stories of incompetent commanders failing to lead or at least stay with their soldiers during hard times.

Asia under water: How 137 million people's lives are being put at risk

By Ben Westcott and Steve George

The 28-year-old fled her home country of Myanmar in January with her two daughters, escaping the latest outbreak of violence, and was living in the Kutupalang Makeshift Settlement in Bangladesh when cyclone Mora arrived five months later and displaced up to 500,000 people.

"My house was shattered. It broke the wooden planks supporting my hut and blew away the polythene rooftop. The wind and water destroyed whatever little possessions we had," she told UNICEF workers in June.

Khorsheeda's hut was severely damaged during Cyclone Mora in June 2017.

Several weeks later, across the Himalayas in South China, over 12 million people were forced to flee their homes as flood waters rose for yet another year.

In China's southeastern Jiangxi province alone, flooding this year has so far caused $430 million in damages and economic losses. In neighboring Hunan province, 53,000 homes have been destroyed -- and the flooding has yet to fully recede.

Increasingly severe weather, triggered by climate change, is putting hundreds of millions of people at risk across the rapidly developing countries of southern Asia.

A man using an improvised flotation device in floodwaters in Liuzhou, Guangxi in July 2017.

"In the next 30 years, it is projected that heavy rainfall events will be increasing ... in Asia, by about 20% for sure," climate scientist Dewi Kirono at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) told CNN.

China and India are edging closer to a war in Asia that neither can back down from


Buried in the Himalayas in the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the Chicken's neck, Chinese and Indian military forces sit on the respective sides of their vague borders and entrench themselves for what could become a shooting war between nuclear powers.

Both Beijing and New Delhi see the conflict as a shoving match for dominance in the Himalayas, an age-old struggle between the two states that most recently went hot in 1962, before either state had perfected nuclear bombs.

But now a Chinese construction project aiming to build a road that can support 40 ton vehicle traffic threatens a critical passage in India and risks alienating New Delhi from its ally, Bhutan.

As China asserts sovereignty over the disputed border zone with the building project, Indian troops have entrenched themselves, according toa dispatch from the South China Morning Post .

"New bunkers are being built, the ground is being mined to pre-empt Chinese attack, machine-gun nests are being placed at strategic points, and soldiers are performing battle drills at least twice a day," according to the Post.

Sino-Indian standoff: India needs to be prepared for all eventualities

By Kanwal Sibal 

A few things need to be spelt to have a clearer understanding of the situation created by Chinaon the Dokalam plateau in view of the propaganda barrage from Beijing to portray itself as a victim of India’s high-handedness. 

First, China’s intrusion into the disputed Dokalam plateau follows the pattern of its intrusions into other disputed areas on our border, whether the Depsang intrusion in 2013 and in Chumar in 2014. 

China’s strategy on the border issue is a controlled one, both of not settling it and also negotiating agreements and measures to avoid an actual military clash. This way China keeps India under pressure, exposes the limitations of its political will and military capacity to confront it, keeps large parts of India’s military forces tied up in the north and east with a view to releasing pressure on Pakistan, and through all this pursues its hegemonic ambitions in Asia as whole with diminished Indian resistance. 

Second, China’s well organised psychological warfare against others relies on threatening force and using its state-controlled media to amplify the threat. Its threats are today backed by its increased military power and its intimidatory tactics therefore carry more weight. In India’s case the 1962 episode and our enduring trauma adds to the problem. 

Sri Lanka and China reach agreement on Hambantota port

Colombo, July 24 (newsin.asia): After many hiccups and protracted negotiations, China and Sri Lanka have reached an agreement on the US$ 1.4 billion Hambantota port in southern Sri Lanka.

According to reliable sources, the Sri Lankan cabinet will take up the agreement on Tuesday and once it gets cabinet approval, the two countries will sign the deal within the next few weeks, presumably in early August.

As per the present understanding, the Chinese company, China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort), will get 80% financial stake, and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), 20 %.

But after ten years, the Chinese company’s share will come down to 60% and the SLPA’ will go up to 40%. The 80% stake amounts to US$ 1.2 billion.

In addition two other companies will be formed one to look after security of the port and tackle emergency situations, and the other to run the port on a day to day basis.

The stake in the administration of the port will be divided, with the Chinese company CMPort getting 49.3% and the SLPA 50.7%.

This arrangement to divide the stake on an 80:20 basis was necessitated by the fact that cash strapped and debt burdened Sri Lankan government urgently needed the US$ 1.2 billion which CMPort was to bring as its stake.

After Mosul: Iraq’s Arab Neighbors Must Help Rebuild


Iraqi Counter Terrorism convoy moves towards Mosul 2017

On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, pulling on the same black uniform and jacket that Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces wore throughout the battle for Mosul, declared the final liberation of the city from Daesh’s (aka ISIL) control.

“I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism, which the terrorist Daesh announced from Mosul,” Abadi announced to the nation from the headquarters of the counterterrorism service.

The recapture of Mosul is a moment for Iraqis of all ethnicities and sectarian communities to relish. The Iraqi security forces were more than courageous, as were the U.S. Air Force pilots that provided —and continue to provide— Baghdad with air support, surveillance, intelligence, and training assistance. But even as the major fighting in Mosul winds down and the mopping-up operations begin, Iraqis must answer a fundamental question. Do Iraqi politicians in Baghdad return to the old, destructive way of doing business? Or do they learn from the mistakes of the previous 14 years, adapt, begin governing for the people of Iraq instead of for a specific sectarian agenda, and address the systemic issues that threw Daesh a lifeline? 

Are Russia and America Headed for a Showdown?

George Beebe

What happens when an under-staffed, under-experienced, and under-managed presidency, under siege by domestic opponents, is faced with an escalating crisis with a nuclear superpower? We could well find out soon, because powerful forces in both Russia and the United States appear to be itching for a fight.

On the U.S. side, an unlikely combination of hardline Republicans, Democrats still smarting from their election loss, and warfighters in our military and intelligence ranks all view Russia as a common foe that has not paid a high enough price for its transgressions. Many are convinced that President Trump’s hopes for better U.S.-Russian relations are at best naïve, and at worst a cynical cover for unethical if not treasonous dealings with nefarious Russian government and business figures. The combined opposition of these groups to any effort to seek even the narrowest slice of common ground with Moscow, augmented by a well-orchestrated series of Russia-related media leaks aimed at hastening the demise of the Trump presidency, is exerting enormous pressure on the President to stand aside as intelligence and military operators move to retaliate for Russian misdeeds. The recent announcement that the U.S. Congress has reached near unanimous agreement on a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia and sharply limiting the ability of the President to lift them underscores the strength of these forces.

‘We’re getting nothing done.’ John McCain’s no-holds-barred lecture to the Senate, annotated

By Amber Phillips 

McCain: Senate debates ‘aren’t producing much for the American people’ right now

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on July 25 addressed senators days after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He said the Senate has become too partisan. (U.S. Senate) 

Not even a week after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was diagnosed with a particularly brutal form of brain cancer, he stood on the Senate floor in Washington, all 99 senators and the vice president at his attention, and delivered an indictment of the modern era's hyper-politicized environment, Republicans' secretive health-care process and a wishful look back at the way things used to be. It was an emotional, no-holds barred moment that came right after the Senate voted 50-50 to debate a health-care vote, requiring Vice President Pence to break the tie. We've posted his remarks, as prepared, below and annotated it using Genius. Click on the highlighted text to read the annotations. 

Mr. President: 

I’ve stood in this place many times and addressed as president many presiding officers. I have been so addressed when I have sat in that chair, as close as I will ever be to a presidency. 

It is an honorific we’re almost indifferent to, isn’t it. In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, a bit of a ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority. 

The Coming Drone Wars: A Headache in the Making for American Foreign Policy

Paul Scharre

The widespread availability of drones brings new challenges to international security.

In June, the United States shot down two Iranian-made armed drones used by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. The fact that the shoot down (and the existence of the armed drones themselves) barely registered as a significant news event shows the extent to which drones are becoming a normal feature of international conflicts.

Drones are rapidly proliferating around the globe and are now in the hands of an increasing number of state and nonstate actors. The widespread availability of drones brings new challenges to international security. As more actors have access to drones, they are likely to use them in ways that challenge norms of sovereignty and change conflict dynamics. U.S. policymakers should begin thinking now about how to best prepare for these challenges and, to the extent possible, shape emerging patterns of behavior surrounding drone use.

Over ninety nations and many nonstate actors have drones today. One of the first things that people seem to do once they get ahold of drones is send them someplace they don’t belong. With no person on board, actors can send a drone into hostile areas with fewer costs if it is shot down. Often, the result is that others do fire on drones. Again, because there is no person on board, the threshold for shooting down others’ drones is also lower.

The U.S. Navy's Next Super Weapon: Railguns?

Dave Majumdar

Long a staple of science fiction movies, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is hoping to turn railguns into a practical reality onboard tomorrow’s warships. As part of its efforts, the ONR is ready to demonstrate its electromagnetic railgun technology during field trials at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division's new railgun Rep-Rate Test Site at Terminal Range.

"Railguns and other directed-energy weapons are the future of maritime superiority," Dr. Thomas Beutner, head of ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department said at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo.

"The U.S. Navy must be the first to field this leap-ahead technology and maintain the advantage over our adversaries."

Railguns rely on electromagnets to launch a metallic projective—dispensing with chemical propellants. In the case of the Navy, the service has developed a new next-generation, low-drag, guided round called the High-Velocity Projectile (HVP) that it intends to use in conjunction with the railgun.

The HVP—which can also be fired from conventional cannons—would be able to hit targets at ranges of over 100 nautical miles at speeds exceeding Mach 6.

“That velocity allows projectiles to rely on kinetic energy for maximum effect, and reduces the amount of high explosives needed on ships,” according to the ONR.

Eating Beans Instead Of Beef Can Help Mitigate Climate Change: US Researchers

American researchers have demonstrated that eating beans instead of beef could achieve approximately 46-74 per cent of the reduction needed to meet the 2020 greenhouse gas emission target for the country.

A study by a team of researchers in the United States has shown that making a small and simple change in dietary habit can help America achieve three-fourths of the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target set by the Obama administration.

The research paper, authored by Helen Harwatt, Joan Sabate, Gidon Eshel, Sam Soret and William Ripple, analyses how substituting one food for another – beans for beef – could provide a fillip to achieving the climate change target.

The researchers demonstrate that eating beans instead of beef could achieve approximately 46-74 per cent of the reduction needed to meet the 2020 GHG target for America. Beef is the highest GHG-emitting food item while beans is a low GHG-intensity food. The emissions from the former range from 9kg to 129kg CO2e/kg. Legumes, on the other hand, emit only 12kg CO2e/kg and are a high-protein food.

The substitution will thus not only help cut down on emissions; it will also improve nutrition. According to the US Department of Agriculture, beef provides 332 kilocalories (kcals) and 14.4 grams (g) protein per 100g of raw weight, whereas raw beans provide 341kcals and 21.6g protein per 100g of weight.

Flip-Flop By Ministry Of Defence Delays Acquisition Of Crucial Ammunition For Army

Nitin A. Gokhale

While the Ministry of Defence is still undecided about keeping out the inefficient public sector undertakings (PSUs) from manufacturing vital ammunition, the Indian Army continues to wait for it.

Inexplicable flip-flop by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over a decision to keep out inefficient public sector undertakings from participating in fresh tenders to manufacture vital ammunition for the Indian Army, has dismayed private players in the fray.

Eight Requests for Proposal (RFI) were issued in November last year for the manufacture of different kinds of ammunition needed urgently by the Indian Army. The contracts, once finalised would run into at least USD 5 billion worth of orders over the next decade.

In fact, the MoD had in 2015 recognised the need to augment capacity for ammunition manufacture in private sector since the Indian DPSUs and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) were unable to meet the perpetual critical shortages faced by the Army. Pre-bid meetings were accordingly held with prospective private players in late 2016. In these meetings, PSUs—Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) and OFB — were not invited as the MOD had decided to build additional capacities in the private sector only.

Mattis: Get unnecessary training off warfighters’ backs

By: Tara Copp  

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has ordered a review of all the administrative and training requirements that prevent trigger pullers and pilots alike from focusing on warfighting.

In the memo obtained by Military Times, Mattis on Friday directed the services, the National Guard Bureau and the combatant commanders to determine what changes are needed to give each branch increased flexibility to organize, train and equip more ready and lethal forces.

Notably, Mattis has ordered a review of the “requirements for mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks” – the many hours soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines spend prior to deployment meeting the Pentagon-required tasks that sometimes have little to do with the role they will actually fulfill when deployed.

“I want to verify that our military policies also support and enhance warfighting readiness and force lethality,” Mattis said.

Mattis also ordered a review of the retention or separation of permanently non-deployable service members, the civilian workforce hiring process, and he also has asked for an increased emphasis on counterintelligence training for each of the services’ law enforcement branches.

Army Boosting Laser Weapons Power Tenfold


ARLINGTON: The Army is dialing up its lasers, from 5 to 10 kilowatt weapons that torched quadcopters in successful tests to 50 to 100 kW weapons that could kill helicopters and low-flying airplanes — and, possibly, blind cruise missiles as well. Given rising anxiety over Russia’s Hind gunships, Frogfoot fighters, and Kalibr missiles, the technology is timely.

Army High Energy Laser Tactical Test Truck (HELMTT), formerly the HEL Mobile Demonstrator (HEL-MD)

A truck-fired 50 kW weapon — an upgrade of the lumbering HEL-MTT — will be test fired next-year. A 100 kW weapon on a more mobile vehicle — perhaps an 8×8 Stryker or tracked Bradley — will test-fire in 2022. The Army expects to issue the contract for that demonstrator before the current fiscal year ends October 1.

The 50 kW weapon, will “obviously have a little more range, a little more power, a little better beam control,” Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, chief of Army Space & Missile Defense Command (SMDC), said to an Association of the USA Army breakfast this morning. “(Instead of) small quadcopters… it allows you to engage different or larger types of targets, so potentially rotary wing, fixed wing (aircraft).”

Dickinson was leery of discussing details — it took a couple of pointed questions for me to get that much out of him — but bear in mind the name of his command is “missile defense.” A weapon that can defeat manned aircraft can hurt incoming cruise missiles as well. Ballistic missiles are a tougher target, since their warheads are hardened against the heat of reentering the atmosphere from space.

VCJCS Selva Says US Must Not Let Robots Decide Who Dies; Supports LRSO


WASHINGTON: Admitting there’s a “raucous debate” in the US military about whether humans should allow robots to decide when to pull the trigger, the nation’s Nr. 2 uniformed officer told the Senate today that he doesn’t “think it’s reasonable to put robots in charge of whether we take a human life.”

Gen. Paul Selva, the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has been thinking deeply for years about the issue of what the Pentagon calls keeping humans in the loop, and today he offered a compelling argument for his position:

“I must tell you I’m an advocate for keeping that restriction because we take our values to war, and because many of the things that we must do in war are governed by the laws of war, which say we must take proportional and discriminate action to action against our enemy to achieve our objectives.

Interestingly, Selva made a point of saying that US officials should “publicly” all “be advocates for keeping the ethical rules of war in place, lest we unleash on humanity a set of robots that we don’t know how to control.”

“That’s way off in the future,” he conceded, “but it’s something we need to deal with right now.” As Breaking Defense readers know, Selva first coined the term Terminator Conundrum to describe this issue.



Last week, word began to spread that the Trump administration was considering granting new powers to U.S. Cyber Command. Lolita Baldor of the Associated Press had the scoop, discussing two related but separate steps under consideration: first, to elevate U.S. Cyber Command to the status of a unified command and second, to break the current “dual-hat” arrangement with the National Security Agency (NSA), whereby the commander of U.S. Cyber Command is the same individual as the director of the NSA.

It is worth noting, however, four things: First, these two steps (elevation and separation) have been under consideration for years. Second, there were good reasons at the time why the Obama administration didn’t act on them. Third, elevation and separation should, in theory, operationally empower U.S. Cyber Command, but in practice Cyber Command may ironically find itself with less capability to offer. And finally, Cyber Command has already quietly amassed non-operational power and authority within the Department of Defense, making it one of the most independent commands, second only to the U.S. Special Operations Command. As such, while this weekend’s news is a good sign of the continued maturation of Cyber Command (and the acknowledgment of that maturation by the White House), there’s less here than meets the eye.

Everyone gets breached, so you’ll need an response plan when it happens

Liam Tung

Your organization has just discovered a serious data breach. Does it have a well-oiled plan to respond without ruining forensic evidence, creating a public relations nightmare, or frightening customers?

The last thing an organization needs is hysteria when coordinating a response to a major data breach. There may be unwanted press coverage, questions from regulators and shareholders, and jittery customers and partners. It will require a cool-headed response coordinated among cyber security, legal, communications, IT, business and others.

A bungled response will only make the situation worse, possibly resulting in lost evidence, damaged trust and a waste of critical response time. Poor incident response can include ignoring vulnerability reports from security researchers, suing people who report bugs, and the all too common problem of failing to grasp the full extent of a breach. 

Recent breaches highlight that organizations of all sizes in every sector can be hacked, whether it’s manufacturing firms, telecoms, finance or tech. Yahoo only discovered last year that breaches in 2013 and 2014 affected a billion users. The breaches resulted it a $350 million discount in the Verizon merger, illustrating the risks to finances, reputation, intellectual property, and customer data.

Cyber expert: Israel, West must be ready to counter-hack adversaries

Yonah Jeremy Bob

Israel and Western countries should be prepared to protect their computer systems by cyber attacking rogue adversaries’ infrastructure if necessary, Matthew Devost, a top cybersecurity expert, told The Jerusalem Post.

Devost is managing director of Accenture Cyber Security Devost and a former US defense official.

Back in Cold War days, there was “behavior that you engage in” clandestinely, but some behaviors you would “not expect even from an attacker,” he said.

“We haven’t had Moscow rules in cyber space, there is still no equivalent for the cyber domain,” Devost said, which, in part is what has thrown countries like the US off about how to respond to cyber attacks.

There is a “need to find that balance between avoiding unwanted escalation, but being strategically ready for escalation,” he added.

Devost said in the cyber realm it is important “to be a realist... even if you do not currently have intent” to use an escalating cyber attack on an adversary’s infrastructure, “you need to be pre-positioned for a fullfledged cyber conflict.”

Cyber Deterrence – Left of Virtual Boom


Disruptive and intrusive cyber activity pervades much of modern international relations. The trend towards the jockeying for global influence and geopolitical positioning through cyber means is only going to grow as more countries and non-state actors play out conflicts in the virtual domain.

The responsibility for defending U.S. interests from subversive influence in its domestic politics, theft of intellectual property, and mass disruption of its critical infrastructure rests on company executives, government bureaucrats, and military leaders. How are they seeking to address and prevent these perils of connectivity?

Some specialists talk of deterring cyber adversaries from attacking American networks in the first place. While many use the example of nuclear deterrence during the Cold War, as a practical matter, the two concepts are quite different. Nuclear deterrence is rather straightforward: avoiding nuclear confrontation by vowing nuclear retaliation to any nuclear attack. That’s the meaning of the doctrine known as “mutually assured destruction.”

The idea of cyber deterrence, on the other hand, is that the U.S. would signal that cyber attacks on American networks would result in the imposition of significant costs to the state sponsor, or criminal organization. The prospective attackers would then be expected to change their cost-benefit analysis. This anticipated recalculation is known as “deterrence by cost imposition.”