31 July 2017

*** Looking Over China's Latest Great Wall in Djibouti

By Stratfor

The delivery of troops and equipment to China's first permanent military base on foreign soil calls for a closer look at the facility Beijing has been building there. Recent satellite imagery, obtained through our partners at AllSource Analysis, provides a clear view of the ongoing construction on the Horn of Africa and China's approach to foreign basing.

One of the most visible elements of the naval base in Djibouti is its extensive security perimeter, which features three layers of defense. The inner layer consists of a large perimeter wall with several two-story towers at the corners for observation or for troop access to the wall. Outside these large walls, a smaller wall or thick fencing with several observation towers spread along the perimeter can be seen. The spacing between the walls and beyond the outer wall provide the third layer of security.

Unpacking the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief’s Grand India Visit

By Angshuman Choudhury

India is deepening military engagement with Myanmar in the hopes of heading off Chinese influence. 

On July 7, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, embarked on a rare, eight-day state visit to India. Personally ushered in by the Indian army’s chief, General Bipin Rawat, at the Buddhist shrine in Bodh Gaya, Myanmar’s top general toured several crucial military and nonmilitary facilities around the country before meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on July 14. Earlier in July, both sides had met at the 7th Delhi Dialogue, where they promised to scale up counterinsurgency and trade cooperation.

A week-long tour by a top Burmese military official certainly stands out in the basket of India’s diplomatic overtures. It’s a far cry from the status quo ante in 2014 when the previous president of Myanmar, Thein Sein, was not invited to Modi’s inauguration. Obviously a lot has changed since then.

Since the visit, coincidentally or otherwise, came at a peculiar time of extremely tense relations between India and China, wherein the armies of both countries remain locked in a taut standoff at the Doklam triboundary in Bhutan, it must be seen in the dual context of evolving bilateral between New Delhi and Naypyidaw and the shape-shifting geopolitics of the extended South Asian region.

Why It's Plain Stupid To Buy A House In India

Manu Rishi Guptha

Just as I was about to tee off at the Milpitas golf course in California this September I heard a "fore" and was fascinated to see a fellow golfer tee off from the backyard of his home. I thought, "What a life/luxury!"

I realised that this 7200 yard golf course is inhabited by a mere 50 families and Zillow (an app that dispenses info on real estate prices) indicated the price of each bungalow was in the range of US$1.1-1.3 million (approx ₹7.5 crore).

'Yes, we do sell affordable homes, if you happen to be Donald Trump.'

One cannot ignore that the US of A was built on the premise that infrastructure (rail, road, bridges etc) are the bedrock of economic activity and the growth of any nation. And the USA has by far the best infrastructure in the world.


The chief accountant of one of the top three builders in Bangalore visited me looking for a job and shared that the builder hadn't sold more than three apartments amongst their entire national inventory in the last four months.

Owning a house at present Indian valuations is likely to make you nervous not confident.

After my four-week sojourn in the US, when I returned to India, it took me a whopping 2.5 hours to travel a distance of 30km from the airport to home, And along the way in a traffic jam, I saw a larger than life hoarding of a top Indian builder offering a four-bedroom apartment "starting at only ₹6.5 crores"—that's about a million USD.

Troop Levels Aren't Afghanistan's Problem. An Increasingly Illegitimate Government Is.

By Noah Coburn

Ordinary Afghans are growing ever more pessimistic about the National Unity Government. 

While the Trump administration continues to debate troop levels in Afghanistan, a rather odd and concerning incident took place last week: a plane carrying Abdul Rashid Dostum, the vice president, was denied permission to land in Mazar-i Sharif. The vice president had recently formed a new political coalition with Governor Ata Mohammad Noor and others who had previously been loyal to the internationally-backed National Unity Government (NUG), headed by President Ashraf Ghani. It appeared that the national government is attempting to undermine this new partnership.

This threatens to throw into disarray the shaky coalition that the U.S. government is hoping will negotiate with the Taliban to bring stability in Afghanistan. It also makes it less clear what the role of American troops would be in supporting a government that has been increasingly perceived as illegitimate by the Afghan public. The decline in legitimacy of Afghan leaders should be deeply concerning to the United States.

Over the past eight years, Anna Larson, a political scientist at SOAS, and I have been conducting regular interviews in a series of districts across Afghanistan in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace. Focusing on how ordinary Afghans view the government, the results of our most recent round of interviews show some troubling trends.

Sharif Disqualification to Worsen Civilian-Military Relations in Pakistan

By Daud Khattak

Pakistan’s former prime minister argued the case against him was a conspiracy backed by the military’s “hidden hand.” 

Pakistan’s fledgling democracy took a new turn on Friday as the country’s superior court disqualified the most popular, thrice-elected prime minister on charges of corruption. In response to the ruling, Nawaz Sharif tendered his resignation on Friday

Sharif, now to be called former prime minister, and his close associates look at the whole saga as a conspiracy against him and his government by a “hidden hand.” The majority of Pakistanis who watch the 24/7 television channels know very well what it means when a political leader or party refers to terms such as “hidden hands” or “conspiracy.”

Maligned, demoralized, and finally disqualified on charges of corruption, Sharif’s removal from the scene is a grim reminder of the democratic era of the 1990s, after military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq was killed in a mysterious plane crash on August 17, 1988.

Four governments – two each headed by late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif – were sent packing on charges of corruption and mismanagement. The developments on July 28, 2017 are different from those of the ’90s in the sense that the previous governments were ousted by the president with the backing of the same “hidden hands” now referred to by Sharif and his party’s leaders.

U.S. Turning Away From Afghanistan?

By Luke Coffey

The Trump Administration will soon make a final decision on its Afghanistan policy. The main question to be answered: Should the U.S. send more troops to help Afghan security forces continue to battle the Taliban?

After 16 years of military intervention in Afghanistan, it is completely reasonable to question the wisdom of increasing U.S. troops. But much of the opposition to increasing U.S. troop numbers is based on an old style of thinking about Afghanistan and the U.S. mission there.

U.S. policymakers have fallen into two traps when it comes to Afghanistan.

The first is that some still see the military mission through the lens of U.S. objectives in 2001. Both Afghanistan and the broader region have drastically changed since then.

The 2001 objectives, focused mostly on counterterrorism, have largely been achieved. No major terrorist attack originating from Afghanistan has succeeded in the U.S. since 2001. And the terrorist-enabling Taliban that rolled into Kandahar in 1994 is a shadow of its former self.

Chinese social media users fume over Indian magazine’s omission of Tibet and Taiwan from ‘map’

Sarah Zheng

Chinese social media users fume over Indian magazine’s omission of Tibet and Taiwan from ‘map’

India Today cover sparked a patriotic backlash among China’s online users, increasing the tensions amid the countries’ protracted border standoff

Chinese social media users were angered by an Indian magazine cover showing a map of China without Tibet or Taiwan, heightening the tension between the regional powers amid a protracted border dispute.

The revised map of China on the cover of the July 31 issue of India Today sparked patriotic backlash from China’s online users, many of whom used strong language to denounce both the magazine and India as a whole.

To illustrate its cover story, “China’s New Chick”, about growing Chinese investments in Pakistan and the resulting concern for India, the magazine used a map of China shaped as a large chicken and Pakistan as a smaller chick.

Each map had the respective country’s flag on it.

But Chinese netizens griped over the exclusion of Taiwan and Tibet from China’s map. The Chinese government claims sovereignty over both places, considering Taiwan a renegade province and Tibet an autonomous region, but there are long-standing political tensions over the government’s control of these areas.


Why Is China Setting Up A Military Base In Africa?

Newsweek published this story under the headline “Beijing's Secret Wish List” on April 31, 1997. In light of recent news involving China's growing military power, Newsweek is republishing the story.

IT WAS JUST ANOTHER WEST COAST FUND-RAISER, THE THIRD in a row that day for Bill Clinton. Guests nibbled on salmon and took turns saying hello to the president of the United States -- all for $ 10,000 a head. Liu Chao-ying's hand was just one among many extended, with a smile and a nod, to Clinton at the dinner in L.A. last July. The real question is, what exactly was she doing there? For, though she looked the part, Liu was not another smartly dressed Chinese-American dealmaker seeking a photo op with the president to parlay into business back in Asia. She is a Chinese "princeling," a daughter of a top Communist Party cadre, and cachet was the last thing she needed. An executive with China's state-run rocket manufacturer, Liu told NEWSWEEK that she was only interested in "a little bit of business" with Johnny Chung, the wheeler-dealer whose name has been linked to Asiagate -- the scandal involving allegations of Chinese money funneled to U.S. election campaigns (his lawyer denies Chung was a conduit for such funds). Liu couldn't legally contribute to the Democratic National Committee, so Chung donated 10 grand in his name, his lawyer says. Maybe that's all there was to it. But Liu has another life as well, which investigators are now examining. Her resume includes the rank of major in the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and U.S. intelligence sources believe she has taken an active role in acquiring technology for China's military. Her father, Gen. Liu Huaqing, 81, is the senior vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission. He is described by China experts as probably the driving force behind Beijing's long-term plan to modernize its armed forces, a stealth strategy that calls for acquiring U.S. "dual use" technology -- supercomputers, for instance, that can either track weather or help target a modern nuclear arsenal on an enemy. Perhaps most tellingly, Liu, 38, is a graduate of one of China's leading spy schools, an elite institute run by the PLA.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin behave like the best of buddies

But suspicion between Russia and China runs deep

ON JULY 21st three Chinese warships sailed into the Baltic Sea for China’s first war games in those waters with Russia’s fleet. The two powers wanted to send a message to America and to audiences at home: we are united in opposing the West’s domination, and we are not afraid to show off our muscle in NATO’s backyard. The war games were also intended to show how close the friendship between China and Russia has become—so much has changed since the days of bitter cold-war enmity that endured between them from the 1960s to the 1980s.

There has been an abundance of such symbolism in recent weeks. On his way to this month’s meeting in Germany of leaders from the G20 group of countries, China’s president, Xi Jinping, stopped off in Moscow. There his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, hung an elaborate medallion around his neck: the Order of St Andrew, Russia’s highest state award. At the G20 (where they are pictured), “only two leaders in the world exuded calm confidence,” Dmitry Kiselev, a cheerleader for the Kremlin, said on his television show in reference to Mr Putin and Mr Xi. “Russia is pivoting to the east. China is turning to the west—towards Russia,” he crowed.


Why Is China Setting Up A Military Base In Africa?

Newsweek published this story under the headline “A Look at China's Army” on January 21, 1980. In light of recent news involving China's growing military power, Newsweek is republishing the story.

During his visit to China last week, Defense Secretary Harold Brown inspected the world's largest army—and one of the least up-to-date. In his party was Newsweek's Pentagon correspondent, David C. Martin, who cabled this report:

Harold Brown got the closest look any American has ever had at the Chinese defense Establishment—a tour of the military college, a display of tanks and warplanes in action and a visit (the first by any foreigner) to a submarine yard. Beneath the spit and polish, Brown saw an army uncomfortably poised between the tenets of the "people's war," which brought the Communists to power, and the demands of great-power preparedness in 1980. For the moment, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) seems stranded in mid-century.

At the PLA's military college in Peking, there is a model of a Chinese Atoll air-to-air missile. It is a copy of a U.S. heat-seeking Sidewinder missile captured from Taiwan in the early '60s. Since then, the U.S. has gone through eight different models, each with more sophisticated electronics than the last. As a result, the top-of-the-line missile in the Chinese Air Force is a twenty-year-old weapon by American standards. What's more, most of China's 4,100 interceptors do not even carry the Atoll, but are armed only with cannon.

12 Regions of China: Xinjiang

By John Lee

China’s ‘new frontier’ is home to the largely Muslim Uyghur ethnic group. 

This article series explores 12 distinct “regions” within China: six “core” regions long dominated by the majority Han ethnic group and six “periphery” regions home to many of China’s ethnic minorities. The series overview is available here. To view the full series, click here.

Xinjiang is China’s biggest administrative division, sprawling across 1.6 million square kilometers of some of the world’s harshest terrain. It consists of the Tarim basin, covered by the world’s second largest sand desert,and Dzungaria, an area of mixed desert, steppe, and forest. The region is defined by some of the highest mountains ranges in the world: the Altai on the Mongolian border, the Tianshan dividing the two basins, the Pamirs walling off Central Asia, and the Kunlun rising from the Tarim basin’s southern rim into the Tibetan plateau.

Meltwater from the mountains supports a string of oasis towns on the desert’s edge along the rim of the Tarim basin. These were stations on the fabled Silk Roads, once inhabited by Indo-European peoples and vibrant centers of Buddhist culture before the region’s Islamicization from the 8th century. Controlled episodically by strong Imperial Chinese states, from the 13th century this region was dominated by the western Mongols, led from the 1600s by Eurasia’s last great nomad confederation, the Dzungars.

China Reveals New Military Technology Agency

By Adam Ni

The new agency is modeled on the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 

China has established a new agency to develop cutting-edge military technologies in the latest step to modernize its armed forces.

The Military Science Research Steering Committee (军事科学研究指导委员会) was launched earlier this year, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV revealed on July 24 in a documentary, “Carrying Reform Through to the End.”

This development is consistent with the idea of “revitalizing the military through technology” espoused by China’s civilian and military leaders. Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized the importance of technological innovation in military reform. On March 12, during a speech to military delegates to the National People’s Congress, he said, “We must have a greater sense of urgency to push for science and technology innovation and advancement with greater determination and efforts.”

The new agency is modeled on the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was set up in 1958 to regain America’s technological lead in the aftermath of the Sputnik launch. DARPA has played an important role in the development of advanced technologies, including the internet, GPS, stealth technology, and laser and electromagnetic weaponry.

Chinese National Media Downplays Indian Official's Visit to Beijing

By Charlotte Gao

Amid China and India’s standoff in Doklam, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval arrived in Beijing on July 27 

Amid the Sino-Indian standoff at Doklam, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval arrived in Beijing on July 27 and had a meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. But while the world had been closely following the bilateral talks, China’s national media was busy playing it down.

On July 27, Xinhua, China’s national news agency, reported the meeting between Yang and Doval, but in a very low-profile manner.

Under the title of “Chinese state councilor meets senior representatives on security issues from S.Africa, Brazil, India,” Xinhua tried to bury the content related to India in the report. The report just simply mentioned that Yang “separately exchanged views with the three senior representatives on bilateral relations, international and regional issues and multilateral affairs, and set forth China’s position on bilateral issues and major problems.”

Although Xinhua didn’t single India out, most observers believed that the so-called “China’s position on bilateral issues and major problems” was referring specifically to the Doklam standoff and was addressed to Doval.

Except for the insignificant mention of Doval’s meeting with Yang in the article above, Chinese national media have made no other reports or comments about the meet so far.

The West need not fear China’s war games with Russia

In fact, America’s navy should co-operate more with China’s, too

RARELY in times of peace has a country acquired naval power at such a rate as China has in recent years. Three decades ago its warships were clapped out, capable of operating only close to shore. Now its shipyards are churning out state-of-the-art combat vessels at a furious pace. Some experts believe it could have as many warships as America within a few years. China’s navy is also developing global range: this week three of its ships have been staging war games in the Baltic Sea with the Russian navy, the first joint exercises by the two countries in those waters. The intended message to the West is clear. China and Russia, united in their resentment of American power, are thumbing their noses at NATO on its doorstep.

China’s naval build-up worries American officials. Hardly a week goes by without some new development that troubles them. In April the country launched its first domestically built aircraft-carrier, and then in June its first 10,000-tonne destroyer—similar in size to the ones America deploys in the region. This month Chinese ships filled with troops sailed for Djibouti to set up the country’s first overseas military base. China’s naval build-up is giving it the wherewithal to seize and hold disputed territory to which it lays claim in the East and South China Seas, and to threaten Taiwan. In the event of a conflict, America could be drawn in. This week’s exercises with Russia in the Baltic, meanwhile, suggest not only a shared enmity towards the West but also mutual admiration of each other’s thuggish political systems. President Xi Jinping has turned a blind eye to Russia’s land-grab in Ukraine, and President Vladimir Putin to China’s in the South China Sea.

Countermeasures to a Real Threat: Thoughts in a Dire Time

By Richard Thieme

The Russians have several advantages in the information warfare game. 

The mind of society is the battlefield in the current global struggle for geopolitical domination. The uses of soft power dominate in this battle and information warfare is the name of the game—not “cyber war” in all the ways it has been described but the influence and ultimately control of individual minds that, like cells in a body, make up the Mind of Society. Then control is used as leverage to achieve objectives that are often hidden.

The recent illumination of Russian operations in this area has received a great deal of publicity. Russian operations of this kind are by no means new or unique but the scale is unprecedented. This is thanks to distributed means of communication, which in turn created distributed digital islands of simulated life as a habitat on which more and more people (some of the time) and some of the people, all of the time, live their lives. The fragmented efforts of the United States and her allies to defend our mindspace and respond with equally effective operations have been less than adequate.

Effective countermeasures require unified, coordinated strategies recognized to have a high priority so that they will in fact be executed. They require clout, funding and leadership to succeed. Once executed, they need to be evaluated to determine their efficacy. Offensive strategies must attack enemies as they attack us, by gaining access to the insides of their hives and securing the queen, not easy to do when the control of the information space in authoritarian and dictatorial regimes closes many of the gaps that in our more open society leave us unprotected.

North Korea's Nuclear Tipped ICBMs Can Now Hit New York

Dave Majumdar

What will Donald Trump do? 

North Korea has tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the continental United States.

Combined with Pyongyang’s miniaturized nuclear warheads—which many analysts believe North Korea already possesses—Kim Jong-Un’s regime now has the ability to unleash nuclear Armageddon on the American homeland. That means America’s policymakers must make a decision—either live with a nuclear-armed North Korea or launch a military response. There is little prospect of coaxing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. 

“The U.S. Department of Defense detected and tracked a single North Korea missile launch today at about 10:41 a.m. EDT. We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement. “The missile was launched from Mupyong-ni and traveled about 1000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan. We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment.”

The Pentagon is already discussing a military response to the North Korean test. “Subsequent to the North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch today, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., and Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris called the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Lee Sun Jin,” reads a statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dead Drop: July 28

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US: This week marks the second anniversary of The Dead Drop. They said it wouldn’t last. Or maybe, shouldn’t. In any case, since the first appearance posted on July 31, 2015, there have been more than 100 editions of The Dead Drop sharing interesting links, newsy items, and gossip from the world of intelligence and national security. Two years seems like a long time. Especially when compared to the recent and likely tenure of Trump administration officials. We’d like to make it to our third birthday – and you can help by providing tips (not the financial kind – just leads on new stories.) We are not asking you to spill the nation’s secrets – just to share items that will amuse and perhaps educate your fellow readers. Send us birthday presents at: TheDeadDrop@theCipherBrief.com.

REARRANGING THE DECK CHAIRS: As of this writing (a VERY important caveat) – the President has not yet fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions – nor has Sessions voluntarily walked the plank. But one of those two occurrences seems inevitable. But wait, that’s not all. If you believe the (“fake”) news, other cabinet-level officials also seem to be lining up on the exit ramp. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made an unannounced trip to Texas for some time off amid reports from friends of his that he has just about reached the end of his rope – and that they expect a “Rex-it” before the end of the year. On Wednesday, however, Tillerson told reporters he planned to stay in his job “As long as the president lets me.” Then there were reports that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster had fallen (further) in disfavor with the President and his days in the West Wing are dwindling down to a precious few. Politico reported on Tuesday that CIA Director Mike Pompeo and John Bolton were on the shortlist of candidates to be the Trump Administration’s third National Security Advisor. Politico immediately let the air out of their own trial balloon, however, saying that Pompeo has let it be known that he is happy where he is and doesn’t want to move any closer to the Oval Office. The question arises – when there are vacancies, who would want to fill them?

Milley: Future wars will be long, they'll be fought on the ground, and spec ops won't save us

By: Meghann Myers 

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley wants the American public to stop fooling itself when it comes to war, so he’s drawn up five ”myths” he says we need to let go of, pronto.

Milley shared his thesis with an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, and his take on it has evolved since he first started speaking about four slightly different myths of warfare back in 2015. The myths: 

1. Wars will be short

“There are wars that have been short in the past, but they’re pretty rare,” he said. Most of the time, wars take longer than people think they will at the beginning of those wars.”

Leaders tend to gloss over conflicts, he said, describing them as a ”little dust-up,“ assuring everyone that victory will be quick.

“Beware of that one,” he said. “Wars have a logic of their own sometimes, and they move in directions that are highly unexpected.”

2. You can win wars from afar

Dropping bombs has become an increasingly popular way for the U.S. military to fight enemies overseas, but in Milley’s view, few wars are decisively ended until troops come face-to-face.

The U.S. Army Needs a New Tank (Maybe Armed with Railguns and Lasers?)

Dave Majumdar

The main battle tank is not likely to disappear into the history books as the horse cavalry units of old did during the early part of the 20th Century, but technological advancements might fundamentally change the nature of future armored vehicles. The U.S. Army is currently conducting an analysis of alternatives on what a future family of armored vehicles might look like.

“Are we sort of at that point in history where armored mechanized vehicles are going the way of horse cavalry?” U.S. Army chief of staff Gen. Mark A. Milley told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t think so, but I’m skeptical, so I’m going to continue to ask that.”

The 40-year-old M1 Abrams main battle tank remains a capable tank, but it is starting to show its age. As Milley noted, the long-serving vehicles have been extensively upgraded over the years and bears little resemblance to their original configurations under their skins. Almost everything on the vehicles have been completely revamped.

But the Abrams is likely at the very limits of its capabilities—the service needs a new tank.

“We do need a new ground armored platform for our mechanized infantry and our tanks,” Milley said.

The Nuclear Spirit of Iran

One almost has to admire Iran’s chutzpah. On Wednesday after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, 419-3, which would impose sanctions on Iran’s ballistic-missile program, its foreign ministry called the legislation “illegal and insulting.” On Thursday Iran made a scheduled launch of a huge missile, which it says will put 550-pound satellites into orbit.

The only people who should feel surprised or insulted by this are Barack Obama and John Kerry, who midwifed the 2015 nuclear-weapons agreement with the untrustworthy Iranians. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert rightly called the missile launch a violation of the spirit of that agreement.

That is as far as she can take it because Iran’s ballistic-missile program wasn’t formally in the nuclear agreement, despite Mr. Kerry’s statements of concern during negotiations. In the end he wanted a deal more than limits on those missiles. We assume Iran’s missile engineers are at least as competent as those in North Korea, which is approaching the ability to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Advocates of the nuclear deal persist in arguing that Iran is in compliance with its provisions. It takes considerable credulousness to believe that over the course of this agreement the Iranian military won’t adapt technical knowledge gained about launch and guidance from projects like its “satellite missile” program. With or without compliance, Iran is making progress as a strategic threat.

Trump's Love of 'Winning' Could Lead America into a Costly War

Christopher A. Preble

A grim reality is sinking into the minds of the average American—“We don’t win anymore.”

This notion doesn’t sit well in a country that bested Nazi Germany and the Empire of the Rising Sun, put a man on the moon, outlasted the Soviet Union in the Cold War and drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in a matter of days. Thatcountry shouldn’t struggle so mightily to defeat insurgent groups whose most lethal weapon is explosives fashioned from common household items and discarded artillery shells or old landmines. 

Our failure to win was a frequent refrain during Donald Trump’s successful campaign. And it resonated. His solution was elegantly simple to say, but devilishly difficult to implement: Fight harder, or stop fighting.

Once in office, the commander-in-chief continued to lament the sorry state of the nation’s military, and hinted that he wasn’t above walking away from a hopeless contest. “We never win, and we don’t fight to win,” he told the nation’s governors in February. And he promised, “We’ve either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.”

But, five months later, Donald Trump is learning how hard it is to leave. That doesn’t mean, however, he has figured out how to win.

The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare

The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare

The U.S. military, and therefore, the U.S. Army, finds itself at a historical inflection point, where disparate, yet related elements of the Operational Environment (OE) are converging, creating a situation where fast moving trends across the Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic (DIME) spheres are rapidly transforming the nature of all aspects of society and human life – including the character of warfare.

In The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare, the first part of this paper describes how technology will impact how we live, create, think and prosper. The authors use this description to make an assessment on the OE and its implication on the future of warfare through 2050, which in their view is a continuum divided into two distinct timeframes:

- The Era of Accelerated Human Progress, 2017-2035, which relates to a period where our adversaries can take advantage of new technologies, new doctrine and revised strategic concepts to effectively challenge U.S. military forces across multiple domains.

- The Era of Contested Equality, 2035-2050, which is marked by significant breakthroughs in technology and convergences in terms of capabilities leading to significant changes in the character of warfare. During this period, traditional aspects of warfare undergo dramatic, almost revolutionary changes which at the end of this timeframe may even challenge the very nature of warfare itself.

Sebi to meet bourses, discuss cyber security, technical glitches

Regulator Sebi will discuss with stock exchanges tomorrow measures that need to be taken to avoid recurrence of 'technical glitches' at bourses, as also steps to bolster cyber security framework, regulatory and market sources said.

Regulator Sebi will discuss with stock exchanges tomorrow measures that need to be taken to avoid recurrence of ‘technical glitches’ at bourses, as also steps to bolster cyber security framework, regulatory and market sources said. The move comes in the wake of a technical glitch at country’s largest stock exchange NSE, which led to halting of trading activities for over three hours on July 10. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) will discuss issues, including the exchanges’ back-up arrangements, disaster recovery plans and what more needs to be done to avoid such recurrences, regulatory sources said.

Among others, the regulator may also review norms pertaining to improve risk management to tackle volume at stock exchanges. Besides, the regulator will discuss measures to strengthen cyber security framework. Recently, slew of dreaded ransomware attacks, like WannaCry and Petya, had impacted the computer systems worldwide. Meanwhile, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) has already submitted its report on the technical glitch to Sebi.

U.S. Cyber Diplomacy Requires More than an Office

By David P. Fidler

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to close the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues and fold its responsibilities into the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs has provoked widespread criticism. Critics often express two arguments. First, the decision signals that the Trump administration is downgrading cyber’s importance in U.S. foreign policy. Second, the decision means the United States will forgo the benefits a cyber-focused unit within the State Department can generate. Neither argument is persuasive, which undermines calls for the Trump administration to maintain the office.

It was clear well before Secretary Tillerson’s decision that the Trump administration was not going to emphasize cyberspace in foreign policy as the Obama administration did. Closing the cyber coordinator’s office is consistent with the Trump administration’s marginalization of cyber issues in foreign policy. Nothing communicates this attitude better than the White House’s refusal to confront Russia’s cyber interference in the 2016 election and, instead, express a desire to establish a joint cybersecurity unit with Russia. Closing the office is also consistent with the administration’s marginalization of the State Department in its “America First” foreign policy.

Army Chief of Staff Milley Meets the Press

By Sandra Erwin

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley came to the National Press Club Thursday to push his case for a bigger Army and to call for greater public support for a larger defense budget.

But it was hard to get that message across in the wake of President Trump’s recent Twitter controversy that engulfed the Pentagon. The president tweeted Wednesday that transgender people would no longer be allowed to enlist or serve in the military.

Milley confirmed what other senior officials told various news outlets: The Pentagon was completely blindsided by the presidential pronouncement. Milley and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff were in reaction mode Thursday; he said he learned about Trump’s order, like everyone else, from the news.

A transgender ban, he noted, is a “complex issue” that requires a thorough policy review that would be led by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Whatever policy is agreed to by the civilian and military leadership would then be implemented by the armed services. “So that’s where I’m at right now,” Milley said somewhat apologetically, knowing that he was going to disappoint an audience that wanted more details.