3 August 2017

*** Latest North Korean Missile Test Fuels New Concern

North Korea's drumbeat of missile tests remains steady. After days of anticipation, the country appears to have test-fired a missile from Jagang province shortly before midnight July 28. Leaks to the media the week prior indicated that South Korean and U.S. officials were tracking preparations for a new test. Speculation swirled that it would be timed around July 27, the 64th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War. The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that it had detected a ballistic missile launch but is still assessing the situation. The Japanese government said the missile flew for around 45 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan, inside Japan's exclusive economic zone. In response, South Korean President Moon Jae In and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened emergency meetings.

Statements and assessments about the test will begin to emerge from the United States, South Korea and Japan in the hours to come. It will be important to monitor early reports evaluating the launch's success, as well as details about the device's range and apogee. But regardless, the new test will lend credence to the United States' calls to take a tougher approach to North Korea.

The specific technical requirements of North Korea's weapons program largely dictate the pace and aim of its missile tests. North Korea has been trying to develop a viable heat shield and re-entry vehicle to enable its missile system to deliver a warhead more reliably on target. The latest launch is the country's first since its landmark July 4 test of an apparent Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which, according to high-end estimates of its range, would be able to hit areas of the western United States. 

** The Plan to Exploit Afghanistan for Its Resources Is a Really Bad Idea

Arif Rafiq

A contractor-led role in Afghanistan would confirm the narrative that America wants perpetual warfare and to rob the country of its riches.

The New York Times reported on July 25, 2017 that U.S. advisors and Afghan officials are trying to use Afghanistan’s mineral wealth potential—once estimated at $1 trillion—to sell President Donald Trump on a war he understandably has little enthusiasm for.

This new sales strategy is dangerous as it aims to exploit Trump’s cartoonish views on global intervention, which meld the minds of a medieval emperor and a modern-day businessman.

Trump has on several occasions said that the United States should “take the oil” in conflict zones like Iraq. His explications have varied in focus, but “take the oil” appears to rest on two basic principles: what is theirs becomes ours once we invade; and foreign wars should at least pay for themselves, if not become profitable ventures.

No Good Strategy

Those who seek a long-term U.S. presence in Afghanistan are now desperate because the president has rejected the war strategy put forward by his bureaucracy and political appointees. According to POLITICO, the National Security Council Principals Committee meeting last week chaired by Trump was a “sh*tshow” that ended with the president sending back the Afghanistan strategy presented to him, further delaying a review that has already been extended twice.

India-China will not go beyond warmongering

Mohan Guruswamy

Kargil was India’s first living room war where controlled electronic feeds lit up emotion in homes nationwide that fostered a groundswell of jingoism.

The nature of war is directly related to the technology of the times and the resources available, but how we can fight and how long we might fight increasingly depends on the willingness of the world as a whole to allow it. War between countries and particularly war between major powers will not be without consequences to the ever increasingly inter-dependent world and hence international pressure to terminate conflicts before they expand and/or spiral out of control is only to be expected, specially when the nations in conflict are armed with nuclear weapons. How many nuclear weapons a country has does not matter, as for the world outside even the use of one will not be without huge collateral consequences. Considering this, this may be a good time and place to ponder over the future nature of war and how this would impact India.

China has many advantages over India along the Himalayan frontier. The benefit of inner lines in Xinjiang, Tibet and Yunnan, much more developed and populated frontier regions, PLAAF airbases within easy reach of Indian population and industrial centres, airbases and cantonments give many advantages, particularly in a war that is limited by time and space. India’s advantages are more seaward.

Number Of Live Births Doubled In Kashmir Valley Between 2001-2011

The average Muslim woman in the Valley can now expect to produce 1.34 extra children over her lifetime compared to what she could have expected in 2001

Affected with Pakistan sponsored Terrorism, Kashmir valley of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state has witnessed a double number of births annually since Census 2001. Fertility Tables published by Census 2011 indicate that there were 85,157 live births in the Valley in the year preceding Census 2001, that number had risen to 1,76,673 in 2011.

“This abrupt rise is restricted only to births in the Valley. In Jammu region, the number of births has increased by only 19.3 per cent, which is somewhat less than the rise in population of that region. In Ladakh number of births has declined by nearly a third,” according to an analysis report released by Chennai based Centre for Policy Studies on Tuesday.

According to analysis, “While Total Fertility Rates (TFR) is declining everywhere else, TFR of Muslim women in the valley has increased from 2.6 to 3.9. This means that an average woman in the valley today can now expect to have 1.3 extra children in her lifetime.”

Explaining how a total number of births in Kashmir Valley has more than doubled in just a decade, Dr J K Bajaj, Director, Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, said, “Such drastic changes in fertility cannot be spontaneous. This can happen only when there is a conscious and concerted effort to encourage women to have more children. This would also require some organised effort by the community to support larger families, especially among poorer people. That is why I wonder whether these unusual numbers point towards another front of the ongoing proxy war in the valley.”

Gorkhaland: Troubles on the Teesta

By Gauri Noolkar-Oak

How water-sharing on the Teesta factors in to the debate over a new Gorkhaland state. 

The Teesta River Basin is widely known for the Indo-Bangladesh water-sharing dispute and the political tussle between the government of West Bengal and India’s central government on “giving” Teesta water to Bangladesh. However, recent events in the basin have cast light on other issues as well, the biggest being the revival of demand for a separate Gorkhaland.

Historically, Darjeeling and the surrounding regions were passed around among the regional powers of Sikkim, the Gorkhas, Bhutan, and the British until 1947, when they became a part of independent India. The British brought tea along with them, and the region, especially Darjeeling, prospered. However, most of the positions of wealth and power were captured by Marwadis and Bengalis respectively, while the local tribes (Lepcha, Limbu etc.) as well as the Nepalis who had migrated to work on the tea estates found themselves on the lower rung of the ladder. With very little in common with the Bengali and Marwadi languages and cultures, it was only a matter of time before the Gorkhas would aspire for a separate state.

India's Uncompromising Stand Against China in the Himalayas Is Backed Up With Hard Power

By Nitin A. Gokhale

India’s military capabilities at the Himalayas put it in a position to bargain with China. 

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is back from Beijing after attending the BRICS national security advisers’ conclave and meeting his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, but there is no sign yet of the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Dolam (Doklam) plateau ending, almost two months after it began. Both sides have chosen not to comment on outcomes, if any, from the talks that Doval held in Beijing, indicating perhaps that a mutually satisfactory solution still eludes them. Or maybe, Beijing and New Delhi want to consult Bhutan, the third party in this unusual spat, before proceeding further.

Whatever the reason for the silence, the world is surprised at the turn of events since late-May when the border spat began at a point where the boundaries of India-China and Bhutan meet. For one, the vehemence displayed by Chinese commentators was out of the ordinary and so was the aggressive tone of official statements made by government spokespersons in Beijing, accusing India of trespassing into Chinese territory. More unusually however, the calm assurance and panache with which New Delhi has handled the crisis so far points to a far more confident India, a point that would be noticed and studied across important world capitals.

The empire strikes back

Rakesh Sood

Pakistan’s deep state always works with a king’s party — as it did for the judicial coup against Nawaz Sharif

Had Nawaz Sharif continued as Prime Minister till 2018, he would have created history by becoming the first Prime Minister to have completed a full five-year term in Pakistan’s 70-year history. As it happens, he still created history, though of a different sort. When he resigned on July 28, he became the only thrice elected Prime Minister who had his tenure cut short each time by ‘the empire’, or the deep state in Pakistan.


The Panama Papers leaks in April last year consisted of more than 11 million documents, from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, containing confidential attorney-client information dealing mostly with off-shore entities and bank accounts. Of these, eight pertained to Mr. Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain and his daughter and political heir Maryam.

These revealed four property purchases by the family in London in the 1990s, hardly a secret in Pakistan. Opposition leader, the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, immediately dubbed it ‘Panamagate’ and demanded Mr. Sharif’s resignation.

The ouster of Nawaz Sharif

by Satinder K Lambah

Pakistan’s judiciary has acted once again against a democratically elected government.

Major judicial verdicts in Pakistan have not upheld democratic values. Ayub Khan’s coup, which was the first military takeover, had been described as a “revolution” by the judiciary. General Zia-ul-Haq’s takeover was legitimised through the “doctrine of necessity”. Bhutto’s death sentence by the Pakistan Supreme Court, through a 4-3 verdict after two judges had been removed from the original nine-member bench, was considered by many as a judicial murder. When Zia dismissed his protégé Muhammad Khan Junejo, whom he had appointed as prime minister, the Supreme Court upheld the dismissal as unconstitutional only after Zia’s death. But even then it chose not to restore the Junejo government on the intervention of the army chief, as later became apparent through the revelation by General Aslam Beg himself in 1993.

General Musharraf’s takeover was justified once again in terms of the doctrine of state necessity. The court decided to ignore the core issue of Article 6 which prohibited coups. In 2012, Yousuf Raza Gillani was dismissed as prime minister on account of a Supreme Court order before he could complete his five-year tenure. In the last seven decades, the office of the prime minister of Pakistan remained abolished for over 30 years during military rule. The general stance of the Pakistan judiciary throughout has been lenient towards the army and tough against civilian governments.

McMaster and Mattis Have Twelve Months to Succeed in Afghanistan

By James Durso
Recently we learned that Erik Prince, founder of the security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Steve Feinberg, financier, and owner of DynCorp International, a leading military logistics, and training contractor, approached the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, with their plan to use contractors instead of American troops to stabilize Afghanistan. The meeting was arranged at the behest of President Trump’s advisors who want to ensure their boss is apprised of the full range of options in Afghanistan.

The Secretary decided to stick with an in-house solution, that is to say, more of the same, for a war we are, in his words, “not winning.” Secretary Mattis is no enemy of contractors, but hopefully, he reflected on what Messrs. Prince and Feinberg said before he briefed President Trump last week on the way ahead in Afghanistan.

Let’s review our progress in Afghanistan: 

Provinces under central government control: according to data from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, “the Afghan government controls or influences just 52 percent of the nation’s districts today [February 2017] compared to 72 percent in November 2015.” 

Opium production increased 43% from 2015 to 2016 and has been on an upward trend since 2001. 

U.S. casualties: 2385 dead and 20,290 wounded military; 1691 dead contractors

Money spent: over $700 billion, though some analysts say the true cost is in the trillions. 

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Has Been Sent Packing. So What’s Next?

Michael Kugelman

The Pakistani military now finds itself in a familiar position—firmly ensconced in the catbird seat.

For Nawaz Sharif, the third time was definitely not the charm.

On July 28, Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified the Pakistani prime minister, thereby preventing him from serving out his full term, which was scheduled to end next year.

Sharif has served as Pakistani premier two other times, and in both cases, he was forced out prematurely. In 1993, he lost his job after the Pakistani president—a largely ceremonial position today, but a powerful one back then—dissolved Sharif’s government. Six years later, he was overthrown in a military coup. This time around, Sharif was dismissed after a long investigation stemming from revelations in the Panama Papers that Sharif’s children harbored offshore assets.

And yet, it’s not the Panama Papers that sent Sharif packing. Rather, the Supreme Court cited Articles 62 and 63 of the Pakistani Constitution—clauses instituted by military dictator Zia ul-Haq in 1985. They stipulate that any lawmaker deemed dishonest or untruthful can be removed from power. In its ruling, the court declared that Sharif had failed to disclose his employment with a Dubai-based company owned by his son when submitting his paperwork to contest the 2013 elections, which propelled him into power for his third term.

As Trump Ponders Afghanistan, Minerals Loom Large

A general view of Mes Aynak valley, 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan. The Afghan government is trying to grab President Donald Trump’s attention by dangling its massive, untouched wealth of minerals, including lithium, the silvery metal used in mobile phone and computer batteries considered essential to modern life. There are also deposits of coal, copper and rare earth elements.

What does a president who campaigned on an "America First" foreign policy do with the longest war in U.S. history? That is the dilemma for Donald Trump as the White House conducts a policy review of Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have fought for nearly 16 years.

With Trump skeptical of committing more troops to what some see as an unwinnable war, one idea has come to the forefront: using Western companies to extract Afghanistan's vast, untapped mineral deposits.

How much is there? A 2010 U.S. study estimated more than $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits, but Afghanistan's violence, corruption and poor infrastructure would make mining extremely difficult.

China’s Military Parade Reaffirms Communist Party’s Absolute Control Over Army

By Charlotte Gao

The theme of “following the Party’s command” dominated China’s massive military parade held on July 30. 

On July 30, China held a massive military parade to commemorate China’s Army Day — marking the day the Communist Party of China (CPC) founded the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1927 — for the first time, in celebration of the PLA’s 90th anniversary. Although China has conducted multiple military parades for various days, this parade is undoubtedly an unprecedented one to reaffirm the CPC’s absolute control over the army. The theme of “following the Party’s command” dominated the whole event.

During the parade, as Xi Jinping, Chinese president, the current general secretary of the CPC, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, was driven past ranks of troops, the troops shouted out loudly: “[We] follow the Party’s command; [we] can win the battle; [we] have excellent behavior!” This is actually the newest goal and slogan for all the military to memorize and “following the Party’s command” is obviously the priority.

The most striking and iconic signal on the day was that — as shown in the picture — the banner team held the flags so that the Party’s flag went right in the front of Chinese national flag, and the national flag was in front of the army’s flag.

China Shows Off Its Military Strength

Chris Buckley

BEIJING — China’s president, Xi Jinping, has opened a public campaign to deepen his grip on power in a coming leadership shake-up, using a huge military paradeon Sunday, speeches and propaganda, along with a purge in the past week, to warn officials to back him as the nation’s most powerful leader in two decades.

Wearing his mottled green uniform as commander in chief of the People’s Liberation Army, Mr. Xi watched as 12,000 troops marched and tanks, long-range missile launchers, jet fighters and other new weapons drove or flew past in impeccable arrays.

Mao famously said political power comes from the barrel of a gun, and Mr. Xi signaled that he, too, was counting on the military to stay ramrod loyal while he chooses a new leading lineup to be unveiled at a Communist Party congress in the autumn.

“Troops across the entire military, you must be unwavering in upholding the bedrock principle of absolute party leadership of the military,” Mr. Xi said at the parade, held on a dusty training base in Inner Mongolia region, 270 miles northwest of Beijing. “Always obey and follow the party. Go and fight wherever the party points.”

The ceremony was broadcast across the country.

Officially, the display was to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Liberation Army. But it was also the highlight of a week of political theater promoting Mr. Xi as a uniquely qualified politician whose elevated status as China’s “core” leader, endorsed by officials last year, should be entrenched at the party congress.

What Happens When ISIS Becomes an Online Caliphate?

Haroro J. Ingram

After the fall of Mosul, devising effective ways to combat Islamic State propaganda will be critically important.

No longer merely against the ropes, the Islamic State is on the canvas. Aftermonths of bloody urban warfare, the Islamic State’s uprooting from Mosul represents the latest and most significant blow in an eighteen-month period of disastrous losses. It seems like only a matter of time before the Islamic State loses its already tenuous grip on the Syrian capital of Raqqa. Yet we have been here before. A decade ago, an earlier iteration of the group had appeared decimated by the efforts of coalition forces and the Sunni Awakening. The difference today is that while the Islamic State is indisputably weaker compared to its 2014–15 boom, it is indisputably stronger than after its 2007–08 bust.

Something else that is indisputable: the Islamic State will deploy its propaganda machine to the frontlines of an epic battle for survival and relevance until, once again, the foundations for another resurgence are set and it is ready to ascend the politico-military phases of its campaign strategy. Craig Whiteside and Daniel Milton have clearly shown that loss does not diminish the importance of propaganda in Islamic State’s strategic calculations but accentuates it. Put simply, devising effective ways to combat Islamic State propaganda will be as important as ever.

After Baghdadi?

By Yossef Bodansky 

Unlike previous reports of Baghdadi’s demise - the current reports seem more reliable given the dynamics within the leadership ranks of the Islamic State/Caliphate. In several places, the Islamic State/Caliphate issued a brief statement announcing that Baghdadi is dead and the name of the “new Caliph.” 

Baghdadi was target-killed by the Russian Air Force in late May in Raqqa. 

Ultimately, the question of whether Baghdadi is indeed dead or not is not the crux issue. The leadership of the Islamic State/Caliphate has endured frequent target-killings and learned to cope with such losses. They established leadership councils and a host of redundancies in senior ranks - all aimed to guarantee continuity even as target-killings continue and escalate. 

The vast majority of the key commanders currently rising in the Islamic State/Caliphate are veterans of Saddam Hussein’s Intelligence and Armed Forces. 

Even if a new Caliph is nominated - he will not be the actual leader. The real leaders are the two-man team of Iyad al-Obaidi and Ayad al-Jumaili - both veterans of Saddam’s military. Obaidi has already moved to assume leadership from his bastion in Hawija, Iraq, where he controls the main forces of the Islamic State/Caliphate. 

Making Victory Count After Defeating ISIS

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This report investigates humanitarian and stabilization needs in Iraq, through a case study of Mosul, and offers recommendations for immediate actions for stabilization after military operations to liberate it from ISIS. The study is based on data collection and review; visits to Iraq; and more than 50 in-depth interviews with a range of key senior officials. The research team examined humanitarian needs, security implications, infrastructure and services, and governance and reconciliation. All of these activities will affect the immediate stabilization of Mosul, and Iraq more broadly, including whether civilians can return home.

Another wave of violence could engulf Iraq in a matter of months if stabilization activities are insufficiently robust. The gains already earned through combat need to be consolidated to secure peace through adequate humanitarian and stabilization measures. The actions needed are in great part dependent on Iraq's national government plans, decisions, and implementation, as well as diplomatic support and funding from the international community. The results achieved thus far demonstrate that success is possible through a moderate but thoughtfully applied set of programs that leverage the will and know-how of local and international actors.

Do Civilian Casualties Cause Counterinsurgents to Fail?

“The thing about counterinsurgency is that it doesn’t really work,” the film’s narrator says. “We tried it in Vietnam. That went well. The British and the French gave it a shot, trying to hang on to their crumbling empires. It just hasn’t worked. To me, it would seem kind of simple why. You can’t win the trust of a country by invading it. You can’t build a nation at gunpoint.”

The film suggests a simple logic to back this message. A counterinsurgent must win over the “hearts and minds” of the civilian population in order to win the war.

However, a counterinsurgent that kills civilians in the course of defeating insurgents can never win “hearts and minds.” Thus, because defeating insurgents hiding among civilians almost always results in civilian casualties, counterinsurgency is impossible

We could brush this assertion off as “just Hollywood.” However, one of the most critical influences on counterinsurgency doctrine, U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24, holds a similar view. With one crucial caveat, of course.

FM 3-24 argues that excessive civilian casualties will cripple counterinsurgency operations, possibly to the point of failure. This is especially the case when the counterinsurgent doesn’t seek popular support by implementing public works projects and rendering other forms of aid, according to the manual.

U.S. needs to stop Russian electoral interference, NSA’s top civilian leader says

By Ellen Nakashima

The U.S. government has not figured out how to deter the Russians from meddling in democratic processes, and stopping their interference in elections, both here and in Europe, is a pressing problem, the top civilian leader of the National Security Agency said.

The NSA was among the intelligence agencies that concluded that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin ordered a cyber-enabled influence campaign in 2016 aimed at undermining confidence in the election, harming Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and helping elect GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“This is a challenge to the foundations of our democracy,” said NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett, 58, who is retiring at the end of April, in an interview at Fort Meade, Md., the agency’s headquarters. “It’s the sanctity of our process, of evaluating and looking at candidates, and having accurate information about the candidates. So the idea that another nation state is [interfering with that] is a pretty big deal and something we need to figure out. How do we counter that? How do we identify that it’s happening — in real time as opposed to after the fact? And what do we do as a nation to make it stop?”

The lack of answers, he said, “as an American citizen . . . gives me a lot of heartburn.”

Ledgett, known as a straight-shooting, unflappable intelligence professional, began his NSA career in 1988 teaching cryptanalysis — how to crack codes — and rose to become the agency’s top civilian leader . The NSA, with 35,000 civilian and military employees, gathers intelligence on foreign targets overseas through wiretaps and increasingly by cyberhacking. Its other mission is to secure the government computers that handle classified information and other data critical to military and intelligence activities.

Push Back Against Russia in Cyberspace

Russian cyberattacks have antagonized, bullied, and supressed neighbors and countered Western influence. The time has come for NATO to adopt a cyber strategy that incorporates active defense.

During the past decade, Russian government cyber actors have pressed the legal and ethical boundaries of cyberspace, testing the limits of what the international community would accept—often finding none. Moscow has pushed to see if there would be a proportional response from its cyber victims, and the answer usually was no, except to repair or limit the damage. If this increased cyber activity and presumed cyber strategy have revealed anything it is this: Russia is emboldened by the lack of international response to its cyber attacks, and it will continue to escalate the sophistication and lethality of this attack vector to antagonize, bully, and suppress Russia’s neighbors and counter Western influence.

There is international reluctance to establish governing rules for nation-states in cyberspace. In the absence of cyber governance, Russia is conditioning the world to its norms. The following cyber attacks have been attributed to Russian actors:

April 2007 – Estonia: Russian distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against government websites as well as the websites of banks, universities, and newspapers in response to the removal of a Soviet war monument in Tallinn.1 This attack is considered the first nation-state cyber attack against another nation-state.

Russia and America Had Plans to Attack the Moon with Nuclear Weapons

Matthew Gault

In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into low earth orbit. It was the planet’s first artificial satellite—and much to the apprehension of the Pentagon and U.S. policymakers, it belonged to the commies. The Space Race had begun and America was losing.

The decades that followed were a parade of Cold War paranoia, technological innovation and bizarre military strategies. Both the East and West wanted to make sure the world knew who was the top superpower. But how?

Being the first to the moon was the top prize. In the early days of the Space Race, both countries thought the best way to prove they’d been to the moon was to nuke it.

Today it seems ridiculous that anyone would try to nuke the moon, but the political and cultural tensions of the 1950s made desperate plans seems sensible. In 1958, the Armour Research Foundation—the precursor to the Illinois Institute of Technology—developed a plan with guidance from the Air Force.

Designated Project A119 or “A Study of Lunar Research Flights,” the ARF’s inquiry looked into the possible effects of a nuclear detonation on the lunar surface between 1949 and 1962. Partly, the studies were a response to growing concern over atmospheric effects of nuclear testing—but not merely.

Russia Showcases Global Ambitions With Military Parades, One in Syria


MOSCOW — Russia’s global military ambition was on display Sunday when the country celebrated Navy Day with large military parades not only in St. Petersburg, but also off the coast of Syria.

The parades of ships, submarines and aircraft were held at Russian naval bases in Sevastopol, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and at Tartus in Syria, where Russia is expanding its military presence.

The main parade took place in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city and home of the navy’s headquarters.

Russian sailors standing on the deck of a small rocket ship during the the naval parade in St. Petersburg, along the Neva River.

Aboard his presidential cutter, Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, greeted crews of five ships and a submarine lined up for him on St. Petersburg’s Neva River. Thousands of viewers filled the city’s granite embankments.

Later, Mr. Putin disembarked onto the Admiralty Embankment to deliver a speech from a tribune.

“Much is being done today for the development and renovation of the navy,” Mr. Putin said. “New ships are being commissioned; the fleet’s combat training and readiness are being perfected.”

An Isolated North Korea Turns to Cyber Coercion


As North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs ruffle the feathers in the United States and regional players in East Asia, there is another, less visible, confrontation occurring in the depths of computer systems around the world.

In the last decade, despite a notable deficiency in global internet access, North Korea has leaped into the spotlight on the geopolitical and criminal cyber stage. Resorting to cyberspace allows Pyongyang, and its leader Kim Jong-un, global reach to coerce adversaries – particularly South Korea and the United States – without the escalatory consequences of conventional military efforts.

“North Korea likely views cyber as a cost-effective, asymmetric, deniable tool that it can employ with little risk of reprisal attacks, in part because its networks are largely separate from the internet, and disruption of internet access would have minimal impact on its economy,” says a U.S. Department of Defense report submitted to Congress in 2015.

“Any use of force in response to a nonfatal attack – and no cyber attack has ever hurt anyone directly – would seem disproportionate,” says Martin Libicki, the Keyser Chair for Cybersecurity Studies at the U.S Naval Academy. “North Korea’s low level of digitization and ultra-low level of connectivity means that cyberspace-only responses would not be something their leaders would fear.”

The Risks and Rewards of Thucydides´ History of the Peloponnesian War

By S N Jaffe 

For a man so long dead, Thucydides is rarely out of the news. A recent Politico article discusses the influence of Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War on the Trump White House, with reference to Graham Allison’s recent briefing of the National Security Council on his new book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? White House Thucydideophiles reportedly include Stephen Bannon, James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and Michael Anton.

Since 2011, the Thucydides trap has been Allison’s tweetable shorthand for the argument that an unexpected war between America and China is more likely than policymakers recognize. The “trap” coinage is drawn from Thucydides’ famous line about the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War — that “the growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm (or fear) which this inspired in Sparta, made war inevitable … or necessary or compulsory” — and is supplemented by Allison’s Thucydides Trap Project, which tracks instances of war between rising and ruling powers over 500 years. The book is making waves and being attacked and praised in almost equal measure.

Is Artificial Intelligence an Existential Threat?

It is not unusual for disrupting technologies to be embraced and feared—and not necessarily in that order. That was and will continue to be true for all technologies that bring both benefit and risk; it is a duality in which many technologies have to exist. Examples throughout history have been the airplane, the automobile, unmanned weapons systems, and now even software – especially the software which powers artificial intelligence (AI).

Last week at a U.S. governors’ conference, Elon Musk, the CEO of the engineering companies SpaceX and Tesla, reportedly told the assembled politicians that “AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization,” sounding the alarm bell. This is not the first time Musk has expressed this concern, he’s done so as early as 2014. Many have branded him a Cassandra, and if he is, he’s not a lone-wolf Cassandra; he’s joined in those views by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and other experts. It is not surprising there is an equal number of experts who question Musk’s concern and believe his alarm bell is tolling for a non-existent threat.

I am not an expert in AI, nor am I an AI practitioner; I’m more of a national security and intelligence philosopher. Therefore, I am not sure I want to debate a man who is one of the foremost entrepreneurs and risk-takers of his time. That said, it may prove useful to unpack the issues a bit and also discuss what we find in the context of AI’s use in defense of the nation.

The fifth domain: Brown on Cyber

Mike Brown: Building cyber doctrine is as important as the organisational structures

Retired US Navy Rear-Admiral Mike Brown has spent a lot of time grappling with Cyber as the fifth domain of warfare, and as a pioneer in developing only operational capability and helping to define doctrine.

Cyber warfare is less conventionally understood than the first four domains of Land, Sea, Air and Space. Outside of military, intelligence and specialist government services, it is only very recently that the mainstream has grasped cyber as a powerful instrument of war.

These days Mr Brown is vice-president and general manager for security specialist RSA’s Global Public Sector Business. It’s a role he is suited to. But on retiring from the military, he spend time in the US federal government, first with the Department of Defence and then with the Department of Homeland Security in the post 9/11 years focused on cyber security issues.

His last active role inside the US Government was as Director of CyberSecurity Coordination for DHS. Mr Brown’s background gives him an excellent vantage point to view global cyber trends.

Army Cyber Education Enlists Field Operations

By Robert K. Ackerman

Electronic warfare joins the digital realm in a confluence of activities to adjust to evolving threats. 

The U.S. Army is consolidating major electronics disciplines in an approach that brings education and operations under a single umbrella. This confluence extends to physical plants as well as organizational charts. For example, the Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, Georgia, is co-located with its operational counterpart to meld the identities of theory and practice.

“Cyberspace is the great asymmetric equalizer,” says Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., USA, commander, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon. “It’s a unique operational environment in which the fight is happening each and every day.”

The key to success is adjusting to the ever-changing threat, the general declares. Over the next 10 years, Fort Gordon will transform completely with state-of-the-art facilities to support the training of cyber, electronic warfare (EW) and signal professionals, he continues. “It’s not just building the new Army Cyber Command complex, [but] it is also building all the facilities on the institutional side that allows us to train the world’s best operators,” he states.

Co-locating the institutional and operational centers allows the Army to operate on the same networks and build lessons learned into both operations and training. “I’m not sure the Army realized how powerful that synergy was going to be when the initial decision was made to move Army [Cyber Command] down to Fort Gordon,” Gen. Morrison offers. “We are already seeing the power of that synergy.”

High Energy Laser Weapon Systems: Evolution, Analysis and Perspectives

By Dominik Pudo and Jake Galuga 

Dominik Pudo and Jake Galuga contend that after decades of research and ‘rescoping,’ high energy laser (HEL) weapons are making their irreversible transition onto the battlefield. To provide an insight into how this has happened and what it might mean, Pudo and Galuga here examine 1) how a shift away from the strategic use of HELs and towards their tactical application could allow for the exploration of this technology at a fraction of past costs; 2) the advantages and disadvantages of using HELs in military operations, and more.

Historical Perspective

From the dawn of military warfare history, nearly every weapon relied upon a rapid transfer of destructive energy onto a target,1 with an ‘intermediate’ consisting of a physical projectile. Technological progress then allowed for the delivery method to evolve from direct hits to ballistic trajectories and propulsion-driven flight, while the kinetic (the speed of the projectile multiplied by its mass) energy delivered on target got augmented by the chemical energy released from explosive warheads. The basic physical paradigm remained unchanged. However, even the sophistication of modern military platforms and missiles do not preclude the fact that the underlying mechanism of neutralization is still based upon a physical projectile which has to reach its objective.2

Here's how cyber service component mission sets differ from CYBERCOM

By: Mark Pomerleau 

This is part two of a series exploring the differences between military cyber forces, capabilities, mission sets and needs.

In addition to the work roles described in part one of this ongoing series that are distinct and separate from U.S. Cyber Command and the cyber mission force, other mission sets include providing capabilities in cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum to get at organic needs for their respective services.

“As you see the spectrum and the network converging, as you see the integration of the spectrum and the network, information and effects, does that argue then that you need to view cyber as an element of something broader and would you as a result build around CYBERCOM or some other organizational construct, the idea of bringing those functions together,” Cyber Command Commander Adm. Michael Rogers said, when asked if Cyber Command should have a role in EW during an appearance at a conference in San Diego in February. “I would argue the most likely answer over time is yes.”

Within the last few years, at the service level, there has been a convergence between cyber and electronic warfare, which both inherently rely on the electromagnetic spectrum and radio frequency. However, according to some, at the top levels of the Pentagon, these are still thought of in their separate bins.

'Big hunt' for Russian hackers, but no obvious election link

By: Howard Amos , Raphael Satter , Aritz Parra 

MOSCOW (AP) — Pyotr Levashov appeared to be just another comfortable member of Russia’s rising middle-class — an IT entrepreneur with a taste for upmarket restaurants, Thai massages and foreign travel.

Then police raided his vacation rental in Barcelona, marching him out in handcuffs to face charges of being one of the world’s most notorious spam lords.

Levashov’s April 7 arrest was one in a series of American-initiated operations over the past year to seize alleged Russian cybercriminals outside their homeland, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.

They come at a fraught moment in relations between Moscow and Washington, where politicians are grappling with the allegation that Kremlin hackers intervened in the U.S. election to help President Donald Trump. Through their lawyers, several defendants have suggested their arrests are linked to the election turmoil. Experts say that’s possible, though an Associated Press review of the cases found no firm evidence to back the claim.

“There is a big hunt underway,” said Andrei Soldatov, an expert on the Russian security services and co-author of “Red Web,” a book about Russian attempts to control the internet. He said the recent burst of arrests made it look like the United States was “trying to understand what’s going on with a very complicated world of Russian hacking and a very complicated relationship between Russian hackers and Russian secret services.”

What's the difference between cyber and IT?

By: Mark Pomerleau  

This is part three of a series exploring the differences between military cyber forces, capabilities, mission sets and needs. For previous installments, see part one and part two.

The delineation between “cyber” and “IT” is generally thought to be operations within a maneuver space vs. the infrastructure that enables that to happen, respectively.

Moreover, Col. Brian Lyttle, program executive officer for cyber at the Defense Information Systems Agency, referred C4ISRNET to the joint publication that governs cyber regarding the delineation between cyber operations and IT/cybersecurity. Speaking after his participation in a recent panel discussion, he noted that the document divides this up into three specific areas: offensive cyber, defensive cyber and network operations, which is where most people would think IT rests, he said. 

“We’re getting a little bit confused on infrastructure versus buying a network weapon for the [cyber protection teams] to use. And we have to make sure we understand when we’re weaponizing the network to do [defensive cyber operations] or [offensive cyber operations] versus maintaining the” network, said Gary Wang, deputy CIO of the Army at the time, now acting, last May. “I mean, it’s the only place where you’re going to run your business [operations] and you’re also going to fight a cyber war on the same infrastructure simultaneously.