20 August 2017

*** Calling the Chinese Bully’s Bluff


The more power China has accumulated, the more it has attempted to achieve its foreign-policy objectives with bluff, bluster, and bullying. But, as its Himalayan border standoff with India’s military continues, the limits of this approach are becoming increasingly apparent.

The current standoff began in mid-June, when Bhutan, a close ally of India, discovered the People’s Liberation Army trying to extend a road through Doklam, a high-altitude plateau in the Himalayas that belongs to Bhutan, but is claimed by China. India, which guarantees tiny Bhutan’s security, quickly sent troops and equipment to halt the construction, asserting that the road – which would overlook the point where Tibet, Bhutan, and the Indian state of Sikkim meet – threatened its own security.

Since then, China’s leaders have been warning India almost daily to back down or face military reprisals. China’s defense ministry has threatened to teach India a “bitter lesson,” vowing that any conflict would inflict “greater losses” than the Sino-Indian War of 1962, when China invaded India during a Himalayan border dispute and inflicted major damage within a few weeks. Likewise, China’s foreign ministry has unleashed a torrent of vitriol intended to intimidate India into submission.

Doklam Crisis: Testament To India’s Strategic Confidence, An Exclusive Piece

By Vidya Sagar Reddy

India is celebrating its 70th Independence Day. The nation has come a long way since 1947 when doubts about its very survival were making a run. It was dependent on food aid from the United States (US) and security assurances from the Soviet Union. However, the evolution of Doklam crisis signals that India is now a matured, assertive nation capable of defending its national values and interests by relying on own capabilities.

Immediately after the partition, Pakistan had initiated decades long conflict over the Kashmir issue, leading to wars. India also had to face an adversarial China in 1962 destroying the optimism about their friendly relations and common development. In 1971, India faced its worst military situation as it was confronted on all sides by Pakistan and its international supporters. Only the presence of Soviet Navy helped de-escalation from possible global nuclear showdown. This explains the dominance of Soviet equipment in India’s defence arsenal.

The military-strategic reality during that period compelled India that its security is best guaranteed only by nuclear weapons. Even as existing nuclear powers decided to stop this process, India tested a nuclear device in 1974 but stopped short of declaring itself a nuclear power. With missile technology development in an advanced stage, India decided to go nuclear in 1998 becoming a de-facto nuclear power. India’s scientific community was able to develop indigenous technologies for these purposes and therefore making India self-reliant for its security.

India’s lethargic approach to national security

Raghu Raman

India’s severe dependence on foreign suppliers for defence equipment and munitions was highlighted in the aftermath of the 1971 India-Pakistan war. The then cabinet committee on security (CCS) decided that India needed to indigenize weapon platforms, such as the main battle tanks, which were being imported, mostly from the erstwhile Soviet Union.

The indigenous manufacture of the main battle tank Arjun got the green light in 1974. Four decades later, this bloated project has overshot its timeline by decades and cost overruns by several quanta, but so far barely two of India’s 64 armoured regiments have been equipped with this tank. For all practical purposes, this entire project is decades away from the Indian armoured formations being fully indigenized, because even if the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) somehow managed sufficient tanks immediately, the entire ecosystem of mechanized warfare, which includes railway transportation, bridges en route, tank transporters, dimensions of tunnels, roads, etc., will have to be upgraded to accommodate this lumbering giant, which is much heavier than the current Russian T-90 that forms our armoured fist.

Also millions of manhours and dollars will have to be invested to sustain the supply chain of two weapon platforms in the same arena during the changeover period. These are the primary reasons that the end user of Arjun—the Indian Army—has consistently expressed major concerns about the indigenization pace.

For past 70 yrs, India’s fauj has been its strongest shield


Seven decades later, this security challenge over contested territoriality remains intractable if the current developments apropos Pakistan and China are taken into account.

India at 70 is a special punctuation — three score and ten — and the very symbolism of attaining ‘azadi’ or freedom from colonial oppression has a resonance that the younger generation may not quite appreciate. Yet, this nascent sovereignty and territorial integrity was threatened very soon — in October 1947, over Kashmir.

Seven decades later, this security challenge over contested territoriality remains intractable if the current developments apropos Pakistan and China are taken into account. However, India has faced the many complex challenges that have come its way over the last 70 years with a resolve and tenacity that is admirable and the role of the Indian military and the soldier merits attention.

If the last 70 years are disaggregated in slivers of 14 — the first phase till 1961 was one of heady optimism under then PM Nehru. India occupied a politico-diplomatic perch that was unprecedented on the global stage, and the concept of non-alignment found ready acceptance in large parts of Asia and Africa. The wresting of Goa from colonial rule in 1961 seemed to indicate a certain steely resolve where the core national security interest was concerned.

Twice-decorated Army war veteran decodes Doklam standoff


For over 60 days, Indian and Chinese troops have been facing each other at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, in combat readiness! The Chinese are at their belligerent and ballistic best (worst) - both in their unprecedented, (un)diplomatic language calling our foreign minister a “liar”, asking India “to come to senses”, reminding us of 1962 - and issuing threats of war.

Where is Doklam?

Doklam, or Donglang as the Chinese prefer to call it, is in the eastern Himalayan mountain ranges at an altitude of about 16,000 feet, where due to lack of sufficient oxygen troops need acclimatisation for survival, and carriage of heavy arms and fighting at these heights is extremely strenuous.

Location and topography

Doklam plateau, about 80-85 sqkm in area, is Bhutanese territory, connects with Chumbi valley in the north with Tibet (China) and in north-west with Sikkim (India). Hence this plateau has strategic significance for Bhutan, India and China. 

Historical perspective

China claims that Doklam (Bhutan) was under the Quing dynasty’s rule in the past, and Bhutan used to pay taxes to them. China follows the policy of “once mine, always mine”, and as the famous historian Dr Majumdar said: “There is, however, one aspect of Chinese culture that is little known outside the circle of professional historians. It is the characteristic of China that if a region once acknowledged her normal suzerainty even for a short period, she should regard it as part of her empire forever and would automatically revive her claim over it even after a thousand years whenever there was a chance of enforcing it.”

Talk Point: Does border infrastructure determine India’s military posture towards China?

Over the last decade, China has invested in strengthening the infrastructure along its border areas. The Chinese army began building a permanent road in Doklam this year in an effort to boost its military capabilities in the region. Analysts say, with regards to infrastructure, India woke up late, tried playing catch up, but still lags behind.

Has the infrastructure mismatch between India and China determined the two nations’ military postures? We ask experts.

A paucity of infrastructure explains India’s manpower-intensive approach at the border — Iskander Rehman, Senior Fellow at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy

A glaring infrastructural disparity persists along the LAC.

For decades, Indian military planners deliberately eschewed the development of border infrastructure, fearing it would facilitate Chinese ingress deep into the Indian plains and lowlands. Only in the mid-2000s did a consensus emerge on the pitfalls of this approach. The lack of solid infrastructure along the Indian side of the LAC had rendered large tracts of contested land acutely vulnerable to Chinese probing and creeping forms of encroachment.

India’s road and rail construction projects have been delayed for a variety of reasons, ranging from bureaucratic inefficiency, lack of funding, manpower, heavy machinery and airlift capabilities for the Border Roads Organization. The terrain along the Indian side is often considerably more rugged than along the Chinese side, rendering construction projects more challenging. As of last year, India had completed only 21 out of 61 strategically designated border road projects. The government sanctioned 28 strategic railway lines in 2010. Seven years later, not one has fully materialized.

A new strategy for Afghanistan: change course, quit the fight

It has been reported in recent days that President Trump has angrily rejected the latest recommendation from his national security staff for a new Afghan war strategy. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in other venues, has claimed the reason for the delay is that forming strategy is “hard work.” Carrying out any plan involving the use of lethal military power is unquestionably hard to carry out, but despite the secretary’s protestations to the contrary, forming a strategy on the long-running, failing war is not as challenging as claimed. There is, however, a solid option for the commander in chief, which apparently no general has offered: military withdrawal.

During a Pentagon press conference, Mr. Mattis responded to questions on the delay of the Afghan war strategy by stating, “Seriously, this is hard and anyone who says otherwise is someone who has not had to deal with it.” The argument was a straw man. No one would ever suggest it was easy.

Mr. Trump has said he intends to pursue “a foreign policy based on American interests, [and] will embrace diplomacy. The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.” That is the approach American voters chose last November, and it’s the right course of action. If Mr. Mattis wants Mr. Trump to approve his plan, it must embody the spirit of the president’s declared foreign policy.

How Jinnah's ideology shapes Pakistan's identity

By Secunder Kermani

In 1940 in Lahore Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man who founded Pakistan, gave a seminal speech setting out the need for a separate state for Muslims on the subcontinent.

Prior to the division of India in 1947, Hindus and Muslims had lived together across the country. But Jinnah described them as two separate nations.

"It is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality," he said.

"Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literary traditions. They neither intermarry nor eat together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions."

This "Two Nation Theory", as it came to be known, has become the official Pakistani narrative for the creation of the state and key to how Pakistan defines itself.

Pakistan was perhaps the first country to be formed on the basis not of a common ethnicity or language, but religion. Yet at the same time it is not, and never has been, a theocracy.

Sri Lanka's Debt and China’s Money

By Umesh Moramudali

Faced with difficult choices, Sri Lanka has to hope China’s Belt and Road can bring prosperity. 

Recently, the Sri Lankan government signed a concessionary agreement for a joint venture between the China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited (CMPort), China’s state-owned port company and the Hambantota port, which is the second largest port in Sri Lanka. According to the agreement, 70 percent of the Hambantota port will be owned by the Chinese company while the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) owns the remaining shares.

The port deal, which has led to many controversies, was not the most favorable choice for the government but it was perhaps the only choice.

By now, Sri Lanka’s situation in terms of managing the external debt is quite distressing. As Sri Lanka was upgraded to a middle income country, most of its concessionary debt was cut off and this scenario forced the government to obtain commercial debt. In addition to the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) loans taken at a higher interest, funds were raised through sovereign bonds at commercial interest rates.

As a result, over the last decade the composition of the country’s external debt has changed dramatically, with a shift toward costlier, non-concessional debt from previously available concessionary debt. Accordingly, in 2006, only 6 percent of external debt was commercial debt, but by 2012 it exceeded 50 percent of the external debt. This has resulted in a drastic surge in interest paid on external debt, leaving the country rather vulnerable to an economic crisis.

Modernize the South Asia Nuclear Facility “Non-Attack” Agreement

By Toby Dalton

On January 1, 2017, Indian and Pakistani diplomats exchanged official lists of the nuclear facilities located in their respective countries. According to news accounts at the time, this was the 26th such annual exchange of lists, pursuant to a 1988 bilateral confidence building agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear installations.[i] The fact that this exchange has been implemented without interruption, during periods of both calm and military crisis, makes it the most enduring nuclear confidence-building measure (CBM) on record in South Asia. At the same time, the banality of this exchange suggests that the agreement has little practical contemporary meaning for peace and security in the region.

When the non-attack agreement was originally negotiated, both countries’ nuclear weapons enterprises were relatively small and secretive, and fears (in Pakistan, at least) of a surprise attack on nuclear facilities had been rampant for several years.[ii] The agreement in theory helped allay concerns that nuclear facilities could be attacked purposefully, either by surprise or during a conflict, thus mitigating the potential humanitarian or environmental consequences that might result.

Over time, however, the agreement has proven to be merely symbolic and its potential as a building block for enhanced confidence has remained limited. It was never backed by verification provisions, for example. During the period prior to 1998, in which neither state had openly declared its nuclear weapon status, it was widely assumed that both sides omitted nuclear weapons-related facilities from their respective declarations.[iii] It is almost certainly the case today that neither side declares sites associated with nuclear weapons storage and operations, and perhaps other facilities as well. Any stabilizing influence the agreement contributed in the past has long since dissipated. [iv]

A Triangular MIRV Restraint Regime in Southern Asia

By Sitakanta Mishra

The advent of multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) in Southern Asia can be quite consequential in terms of the unfolding triangular nuclear competition involving China, India, and Pakistan. The three nuclear-armed neighbors have demonstrated their MIRV capabilities, with China being the earliest entrant, having reportedly placed them on its DF-series missiles.[1] In decades ahead China’s MIRV programs would be sure to mature. In the absence of confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures (NRRMs), the advent of MIRVs will exacerbate concerns for the respective national security policies of all three countries and for the regional strategic balance. Although the presence of MIRVs in Southern Asia will not be as pernicious as it was during Cold War [2] they will have ripple effects in threat-perception, doctrine, and the perceived need for counter-measures.[3] The complicated nuclear interactions among China, India, and Pakistan are about to become even more complex.

As was evident during the Cold War, MIRVs undermine strategic stability and invite an intensified nuclear arms race. President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, opposed a ban on MIRVs during the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. He came to regret this soon afterward, when he said, “I wish I had thought through the implications of a MIRVed world more thoughtfully in 1969 and 1970 than I did.”[4] Reiterating his stand during the debate over the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said: “In retrospect, I think if one could have avoided the development of MIRVs, which means also the testing of MIRVs by the Soviets, we would both be better off. What conclusion then I would have come to I don’t know.”[5] With the passage of time, Kissinger became more conclusive. Writing in Time magazine in 1983, he opined that, “there can be no doubt that the age of MIRVs has doomed the SALT approach.”[6]

Create a Channel for a U.S.-China Dialogue on South Asia

The real danger of an explosive conflict and potential nuclear war lingers in South Asia. Relations between India and Pakistan remain distrustful, confrontational, and highly volatile as the result of decades-long hostility. War plans are being refined on both sides – a war that could be triggered by terrorist attacks launched by Pakistan-based groups. Escalation control seems to be assumed by both sides, but miscalculation of intentions and reactions could ignite a catastrophic nuclear war.

Despite these risks, the United States and China do not regard crisis management in South Asia as a top priority in their bilateral foreign policy agendas. Cooperation on crisis management in the past has been ad hoc. The level of attention, dialogue, and preparation devoted to the proper management of a potential crisis between India and Pakistan is highly disproportionate to the risks and stakes at hand. Therefore, the United States and China might well consider the establishment of a routine dialogue at the sub-cabinet level that could become a crisis management mechanism to enhance preparedness for and effectiveness of crisis management to prevent a nuclear disaster in South Asia.

The Problem

The nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan has accelerated in recent years. Both countries possess well over 100 warheads and credible missile delivery systems.[i] Pakistan’s rising nuclear stockpile is widely believed to be the fasting growing in the world.[ii] Pakistan has continued to develop tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield that it threatens to deploy in the event India implements its “Cold Start” doctrine.[iii] India has completed its nuclear triad by inducting a strategic nuclear submarine into service.[iv] India’s aim is to reduce the gap between its nuclear capabilities and China’s.[v] The nuclear arms race in the region reflects the geopolitical competition between China and India and between India and Pakistan.

China’s Intellectual Property Theft Must Stop


President Trump on Monday instructed the office of the United States Trade Representative to consider an investigation into China’s sustained and widespread attacks on America’s intellectual property. This investigation will provide the evidence for holding China accountable for a decades-long assault on the intellectual property of the United States and its allies.

For too long, the United States has treated China as a developing nation to be coaxed and lectured, while tolerating its bad behavior as merely growing pains. There has been an expectation that as China’s economy matures, it will of its own accord adopt international standards in commerce, including protection for intellectual property. There has also been a tendency to excuse mercantilist behavior, including industrial espionage, as a passing phase, and to justify inaction as necessary to secure Chinese cooperation on other, supposedly more important, issues.

Chinese companies, with the encouragement of official Chinese policy and often the active participation of government personnel, have been pillaging the intellectual property of American companies. All together, intellectual-property theft costs America up to $600 billion a year, the greatest transfer of wealth in history. China accounts for most of that loss.

Chinese Double Standards in the Maritime Domain

By Tuan N. Pham

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) transits the South China Sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Izumo (DDH 183) in May 2017.

Beijing clearly understands its maritime rights, but does not necessarily tolerate and accept the same rights for others. 

Last month, China deployed two People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) intelligence-gathering ships (AGI) off the coasts of the United States (Alaska) and Australia (Queensland). China was speculated to be observing the United States’ first-ever interception test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile by the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in the first instance; while in the latter Beijing was believed to be observing a major joint military exercise between the United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy (Talisman Sabre 2017). Both AGI apparently operated for several days well inside the American and Australian exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

While not unprecedented and not in violation of international law, the deployments nonetheless remind the region, the United States, and the world that China is a rising power (and major maritime power) willing to fully leverage its maritime rights as “interpreted” under UNCLOS. That, in turn, underscores Beijing’s “double standards,” in terms of selectively choosing parts of UNCLOS that it likes and ignoring (or reinterpreting) parts that it does not like or find incongruent with its national interests. While Washington and Canberra tolerated, exercised restraint, and even downplayed the presence of the AGI within their respective EEZ; Beijing has more-often-than-not admonished the offending nation(s) for violating its territorial sovereignty and sometimes even harassed the such ships from other nations.

‘Drive Russians Bananas’ With Rockets In Boxes: CSIS On Hidden Missiles


“All warfare is based on deception,” Sun Tzu wrote 2,500 years ago. It’s a lesson the US military largely forgot after the Cold War, when we got in the habit of building huge, easily targeted bases. Now we must relearn deception as Russia, China, and other adversaries field, not only their own precision weapons, but the satellites, drones, and other sensors to find targets for them.

But what does deception mean in the 21st century? Once it required recruiting courtesans as spies and camouflaging troops with tree branches and green facepaint. Now it involves putting out fake news on Facebook and concealing missile launchers in commercial shipping containers.

“It’ll drive the Russians bananas,” said Tom Karako, missile defense director at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. CSIS made the video above to illustrate how a Patriot launcher might be removed from the standard-issue trailer and installed in a CONEX container. The Russians are already working on a similar concept for their Klub-K cruise missile.

Israel girds for next round of battle in Gaza Strip

By: Barbara Opall-Rome 

TEL AVIV, Israel ― Israel on Thursday released detailed intelligence on how Hamas is using newly constructed residential buildings in the coastal strip to disguise the expansion of underground tunnels and command centers from which the Jewish state says the group plans to wage urban war against it.

Israel released the intel to make its case for what it insists is an unwanted, yet potentially necessary new round of combat in Gaza.

Briefing reporters here, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, described two homes carefully mapped out by military intelligence ― complete with geolocation target coordinates ― that he insists prove “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.”

During the highly unusual briefing aimed at bolstering Israel’s case should it need to destroy the structures built in heavily populated residential neighborhoods, Zamir insisted Israel possesses “many more such targets beyond what we’re showing you.”

He repeatedly referred to the structures ― one a six-story building and private parking lot with access to a tunnel network, and the other a family home with an entrance to a tunnel that connects to a nearby mosque ― as legitimate targets. “I say these are legitimate military targets, and whoever is endangering himself and his family needs to hold Hamas responsible for what happens,” he said.

North Korea’s Dangerously Rudimentary Nuclear Command-and-Control Systems

Conventional wisdom tells us that because North Korea’s elites are rational actors, they will conclude that the benefits of employing nuclear weapons will be outweighed by the costs. Regime extinction is identified as the most compelling cost, and Kim Jong-un’s instinct for self-preservation is said to override all other considerations.

But the prospects of North Korea using nuclear weapons during crises, or in the initial stages of a conventional (that is, non-nuclear) conflict, are greater than generally acknowledged. This is not based on any assumption about the rationality or otherwise of the Kim Jong-un regime; rather, that nuclear first use may itself be seen as a rational option if a US first-strike is regarded as inevitable.

History shows that states in the process of building up their nuclear forces see themselves as vulnerable to preventive or pre-emptive first strikes because of the incipient nature of their command and control systems, coupled with the small size of their nuclear inventories. Yet instead of inducing caution, this vulnerability can encourage risk taking. Notably, the Soviet Union’s propensity to take risks during crises was strongest in the 1950s and 1960s when it was most susceptible to a disarming US first strike.

The Profexer: FBI Has Interviewed a Malware Expert in the Ukraine Who Wrote the Code Used by Russian Intelligence to Penetrate the DNC Computers

KIEV, Ukraine — The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the Dark Web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”

It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the D.N.C. hack and the heated debate it has stirred. The Ukrainian police declined to divulge the man’s name or other details, other than that he is living in Ukraine and has not been arrested.

Korean War 2.0? The Signs To Watch


After threatening to rain four missiles around Guam, North Korea’s pudgy leader, Kim Jong-un appeared to back off today. The (spoof) official North Korean News Agency issued a fabulous tweet describing it, declaring: “Esteemed General Kim Jong-Un reprieves US colony of Guam, citing concern for ocelots and sea turtles. Fate of Los Angeles remains unclear.”

Given that LA may remain under threat (not every much, but…), we decided to run this excellent piece by Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies describing the indications and warnings of war. Read on! The Editor

The duelling words between President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea has led to much speculation about whether war is looming.

War does seem unlikely, given that several observers have noted that the US forces in Korea and the Pacific remain in a peacetime posture, but what would be the tells that war is coming?

The Intelligence Community, our frontline observers, watch for indications and warning (I& W), specific actions that warn of an attack. What would I&W look like applied to our side to allow outsiders without security clearances to anticipate a possible conflict? The following list is based on preparations the United States took in conflicts over the last quarter century—Desert Storm in 1991, the bombing of Serbia in 1999, and the invasion of Iraq 2003— as well as what we know about the main Korean war plan, called OPLAN 5027.

America's Darwinian Nationalism

Robert D. Kaplan

While other states have survived and even prospered by a ruthless realpolitik of sorts, America, because it was born as a geographic bounty and also as an ideal, is nothing without both.

THE UNITED STATES, Russia and China are all losing, or have lost, their ideological and spiritual purpose. This is clear in the case of the Russian and Chinese regimes, which no longer possess their communist ethos and whose legitimacy is based on ethnocentrism and anxious economic pacts with their own people. But even the United States has less of a moral purpose. It is questionable whether Americans are willing to continue to provide upkeep for a liberal order in Europe and Asia, as they did for over seventy years. While American democracy thrived and was a shining example to the world in the print-and-typewriter age, it is uncertain whether that will continue in the digital-and-video era. Indeed, of late, American democracy has been less an inspiration than a tawdry spectacle. Congress has seen a degree of partisan dysfunction unknown since nineteenth-century frontier days. The president, by any account, simply lacks the decorum of all former modern presidents. The monied classes essentially run Washington, a process that has been maturing and abundantly commented upon for decades. Despite the quiet dedication of an often-maligned, policy-driven bureaucratic elite, America is less and less the “city upon a hill.” In all of this, keep in mind that it is less important how Americans see themselves than how others see them.

A Global Fish War is Coming

Nearly two decades into the 21st Century, it has become clear the world has limited resources and the last area of expansion is the oceans. Battles over politics and ideologies may be supplanted by fights over resources as nations struggle for economic and food security. These new conflicts already have begun—over fish.

Hungry World

The demand for fish as a protein source is increasing. The global population today is 7.5 billion people, and is expected to be 9.7 billion by 2050, with the largest growth coming in Africa and Asia. Fish consumption has increased from an average of 9.9 kilograms per person in the 1960s to 19.7 kilograms in 2013 with estimates for 2014 and 2015 above 20 kilograms. The ten most productive species are fully fished and demand continues to rise in regions generally with little governance and many disputed boundaries.

In 2014, there were 4.6 million fishing vessels on the world’s oceans: 75 percent were in Asia and 15 percent in Africa. High seas fishing capacity has grown significantly, and there are now 64,000 fishing vessels with lengths in excess of 24 meters, and Asia’s distant water fishing nations continue to add newer and larger ships.

The wild marine fish harvest remains steady at 80 million metric tons (MMT) while aquaculture or farmed fish now equals 73.8 MMT, with China responsible for farming 62 percent of that total. 1 Farmed fish is predicted to exceed wild capture as early as 2018, but the inputs to these farming operations require massive amounts of fish meal. 2 As a result, fishing vessels will scour the oceans going deeper and farther than ever before to try to feed the world.

The Ongoing Challenge of Irregular Warfare: Thoughts on Responses and Intelligence

by Noah B. Cooper

The range of irregular warfare challenges faced by the United States in the future will be extensive (e.g. non-state actors – terrorists, violent extremist organizations, drug traffickers – and state actors that adopt asymmetric tactics to negate U.S. military power – Iran, North Korea, and Russia). Currently, defeating the “hybridized” threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and eliminating its geographical span of control in Iraq and Syria is the priority of U.S. counterterrorism actions. As the U.S., the coalition of forces, and local allies, regain territory lost to ISIS and drive the group out from its urban redoubts, the sinking morale of foreign fighters is encouraging them to repatriate their home countries. Considerable portions of these fighters originate from nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, namely the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia and Malaysia. As they return, the sharing of their experiences, their promotion of the ISIS ideology, and their proliferation of irregular warfare tactics presents a serious concern to the security and stability of the region.

The Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a second front in the battle against not only ISIS, but also other transnational violent extremist organizations (VEOs), local separatist groups, insurgencies, and criminal organizations. Not surprisingly, the study of this area is lacking, but several facts are worth emphasizing to illustrate the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. First, the region has the world’s largest population of Muslims (approaching one billion) and, as noted by Admiral Harry Harris (Commander, U.S. Pacific Command), “If a very small percentage of the Muslims in the USPACOM AOR [Area of Responsibility] are radicalized, there could be deadly results.” Second, a negative consequence of the successful counter-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria is the return of foreign fighters originally from the Asia-Pacific to their home countries and the corresponding security implications for the region. The dangers of returning jihadists are manifold and include such activities as the proliferation of advanced terrorist practices, the spread of the volatile ISIS ideology, and of central concern, the coordination and launching of attacks in their home countries. Moreover, the growing association of VEOs in the Asia-Pacific with ISIS presents a threatening dimension for counterterrorism. These disparate groups are working together, often with deadly results.



It was the day after Suzy died. Congressman Ike Skelton’s dearly loved soulmate was gone, and Ike’s call to me that night was heart-rending. Our annual House Armed Services Committee battlefield staff ride was the next day so I assumed Ike was calling to cancel. After offering my condolences, I suggested that we might put off the event until the next year. Ike said no. We’d meet as usual in front of the Russell Building at 8 AM sharp. Then off to Antietam. At the time I wondered why.

Suzy died in the summer of 2005, a time when Ike became, by his own admission, a tortured soul. He was fearful that his signature military reform, the Goldwater-Nichols act of 1986, was failing. Ike’s passion for educational reform in the 1980s was born in the belief that the military had performed so poorly during the invasion of Grenada in 1983 because the services had not learned to fight together. To use the vernacular, Ike was convinced that the services had to learn to fight “joint.” He agreed that individual services were competent at fighting in their respective domains — land, sea, and air — but they failed when brought together to fight as a multi-service team. While others in Congress sought organizational solutions to the problem, Ike believed that true “jointness” could be achieved only by changing military culture and culture could only be changed by reforming how the officer corps was educated.

Air Force CISO says innovation key to future cyber defense


Securing cyberspace at the edge of the fight is not just about compliance, it is about agility and innovation, according to Peter E. Kim, Chief of Information Security Officer for the Air Force who spoke at the 2017 FCW Cybersecurity Summit. 

This new way of looking at cybersecurity implementation has been called the Cybersecurity Initiative, explained Kim. Essentially, it dictates that in the defense of cyber space, the Air Force wants to see its personnel thinking for themselves and innovating solutions, not simply checking boxes. This is particularly true for the airmen who are actually in the field, at the edge of the fight. 

“Compliance is necessary, but it’s okay if you can’t get through the 800 controls. It’s okay if you miss a patch. It’s good enough. Slap it on a network and let the warfighter conduct the mission,” said Kim. “What we are trying to tell the airmen…is think about and innovate how you secure your mission in, through, and from cyberspace.” 

However, while encouraging cyber warriors at the edge of the networks to think for themselves, the initiative does prescribe five strategic pillars. 

The first is situational awareness. 

“Attacks will be constant…and they are becoming more sophisticated,” said Kim. “If you don’t have rudimentary situational awareness of…the information, the data, the mission computers, the things that enable the Air Force, then we need to get there. We need to have situational awareness of the cyber battle space.”

The Weaker Foe – Part 3

By Jim Greer

The Finnish success in the Winter War case study suggests that it is possible to win as the weaker foe, but not if we fight in the same way as the stronger enemy. Since we don’t know we will remain the strongest military power, the U.S. Army must develop the attributes necessary to win as the weaker foe, as the near-peer. The good news is these attributes—cunning, risk-taking, problem-generating, and asymmetrical operations—are those that effective military organizations ought to practice anyway. Our challenge has been that because we have thought, acted, prepared, and resourced as the superpower that we are, those attributes have gradually atrophied out of our organizations, individuals, and culture. Still, all is not lost, and it is not too late to change.

Previous articles in this series explained how the U.S. Army must transform in order to win if confronted with a war in which we are the weaker foe. Part One of this analysis focused on the necessary characteristics a force must have to win as the weaker foe. Part Two followed with a historical case study of Finnish success in the Winter War to reinforce those characteristics. This article will explain how––if we take steps now––in the physical, mental, and cultural domains we can develop the leaders, organizations, and personnel needed to win future wars whether we are the stronger or the weaker foe.

Adarsh Committee Report: Oddities Galore

Major General Mrinal Suman

Adarsh Society has come back to haunt the services, causing severe damage to the standing and reputation of the higher leadership. Reaction of the environment varies from incredulous scepticism to outright condemnation of the concerned officers.

The inquiry committee, set up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), in its voluminous report of 199 pages, has blamed two former Army Chiefs, three Lt Generals, four Maj Generals and several other military and Defence Estates Office officers for various acts of omission and commission. The report also calls former Naval Chief Admiral Madhvendra Singh and Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh as beneficiaries but does not hold them accountable, as all land-matters in Mumbai are dealt-with by the army.

The enquiry committee has also recommended appropriate administrative action against the named officers to include conveyance of displeasure and debarring them from any future employment or contract with the government, or any of its bodies and committees.

As regards the genesis of the inquiry committee – it was set up by MoD pursuant to the orders of the Mumbai High Court. Vide Para 118 of the order dated 29 April 2016, the Court observed, “As noted earlier, building (Adarsh) is on the neck joining Colaba island. The petitioner has contended that GOCs between 1999 and 13 July 2010 and their family members were allotted flats in Adarsh building. We do not intend to comment on the role of these officers as they are not made party to the petition. It is, however, necessary to find out as to why the petition was not instituted at the earliest available opportunity. MoD is, therefore directed to hold an in-depth inquiry for finding out whether these GOCs compromised with the security of Colaba Military Station in lieu of allotment of flats in the building.” 

Thunder Drone: Best Name Ever, But What Is It?


HOLLOMAN AFB: We first heard about ThunderDrone from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who told a mystified audience that the Air Force would take part in an event none of us had ever heard of.

“In two months, we’re going to have a big competition. They’ve rented out a big warehouse,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said here during her Wednesday speech kicking off the Light Attack Experiment. “It’s a rapid prototyping event, and basically it’s to investigate swarms and platforms and effects and data science of small unmanned aerial vehicles. There’s even one (event) that says, ‘Ok, bring your stuff, we’ll see who the last drone standing is.’”

Wilson obviously considers ThunderDrone another example of the service’s pursuit of disruptive and useful technologies. So we kept asking three and four-star generals at the Light Attack Experiment here, what is ThunderDrone? They all deferred to the secretary.

Luckily, the Internet revealed all. OK, at least a bit. It’s being managed by an organization called SOFWERX on behalf of Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

SOFWERX was created by the Doolittle Institute, a Florida nonprofit with a license to use Gen. Doolitle’s name. The five-year-old institute was clearly created to help SOCOM push the technology envelope “and find solutions to the toughest Science and Technology challenges while championing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for all levels of society.” The goal of SOFWERX is “to assist with collaboration, innovation, prototyping and exploration with industry, labs and academic partners.” They’ve got two facilities in Tampa. One is a 10,000 sq. ft. facility “designed for collaboration, innovation and modest rapid prototyping,” and the other is a 4,000 sq. ft. “garage designed for rapid prototyping with modest collaboration and innovation capabilities.”

Big Data enters Indian policy

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha

Economists have now begun to use machine learning to extract information from satellite images

The second volume of the Economic Survey released by the Union finance ministry last week shows that innovative use of images has begun to make its overdue presence felt in India as well. Photo: iStock

The view from above as your plane lands in Mumbai during the monsoon months is a revelation. Some parts of the city are a sea of blue tarpaulins. Home owners apparently use them on terraces to prevent rainwater from seeping into living spaces. I often wonder whether the presence of tarpaulins is a proxy indicator of the poor quality of housing stock in Mumbai.

Economists have traditionally used numbers in their work. They have now begun to use images as well. The use of such satellite images is part of a broader shift towards the use of newer types of inputs for policymaking. There seems to be some change in India as well.

The second volume of the Economic Survey released by the Union finance ministry last week shows that innovative use of images has begun to make its overdue presence felt in India as well. 

The eighth chapter uses satellite data to see whether India is more urbanized than most traditional indicators suggest. There are two sets of traditional indicators. The administrative metric to define a town depends on whether it is governed by an urban local body such as a municipality. The census uses three metrics to identify a town—the population should be more than 5,000, the density of the settlement should be at least 400 people per sq. km, and more than three out of every four residents should have employment outside agriculture. Satellite images show that India is far more urbanized than metrics other than the traditional ones suggest. 

Defensive cyber teams take on more missions under new model

By: Mark Pomerleau 

Given the obfuscation afforded to actors in cyberspace and the low barrier of entry, cyber protection teams within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility were conducting no more than two missions a year, as they were becoming bogged down in preparatory intelligence for defensive operations.

In turn, CENTCOM developed a cyberthreat prioritization model to resolve the issues surrounding intelligence preparation of the environment, otherwise known as IPE, which is the work that comes before a cyber protection team, or CPT, heads out on a defensive mission.

A threat prioritization model serves as an analysis tool, combining information from cyber defenders and managers, said to Marlene Kovacic, a cyberspace branch senior intelligence analyst at CENTCOM and defensive cyber operations team lead, who spoke at the DoDIIS Worldwide Conference on Tuesday.

Moreover, these models are an “intelligence driven analytical matrix from a structured data model to characterize and prioritize adversary groups,” according to a slide from her presentation. “It is used in order to determine the weight of each intrusion set, enabling defensive operations to make planning decision on how to protect critical infrastructure with defensive cyberspace operations.”

Strategy Considerations Across the Spectrum of Warfare

By Vincent Dueñas

Today, warfare is characterized by low-intensity conflicts, nuclear deterrence, and emergent cyber conflicts, yet the United States military must engage in all three while simultaneously remaining prepared for high-intensity conflicts. For the U.S., the main character of conflict post-World War II has been in limited warfare. For example, the U.S. has not committed all its resources, such as nuclear weapons, into any specific conflict because a total war with a nuclear country would obliterate entire populations. The modern era has also seen the rise of compelling and effective non-state actors who have become influential by using social media to organize and resource their activities.

As a global superpower, the United States is forced to confront the entire spectrum of conflict. The U.S. government and the American people promote a free and democratic way of life, yet attract ever-increasing hostility as a result of extensive economic and military concerns abroad. In order to protect its interests, the U.S. government may need to engage in conflict as matter of policy. As the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted, “war is the continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means.”[1] Where diplomatic, informational and economic solutions have been exhausted, when leveraged, warfare remains a legitimate option that will need to be clearly articulated to the American public.