21 August 2017

** It's Time to Make Afghanistan Someone Else's Problem A full withdrawal will force Iran, Russia, and others, to step up.


The Trump administration, as well as its critics, are reportedly wrestling with the question of a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, where the government has shown no signs of being able to turn the tide in the 16-year war against the Taliban. General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,with support from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, has asked for more troops, apparently in service of a strategy that, for the moment, seeks simply to “not lose.” President Trump has granted this request in principle, but these reinforcements have not yet been dispatched, because the president's advisors seem to believe that he is not committed to stay the course. Instead, a strategic review is underway. Meanwhile, Senator John McCain has offered his own strategy for Afghanistan, which appears to be the “old” strategy, with the admixture of a commitment to stay forever and provide the commanders with a blank check for forces and money to do so.

But these approaches, which will reportedly be discussed at a meeting at Camp David on Friday, misunderstand the dilemma. For America, the perhaps-counterintuitive answer in Afghanistan may be that only by reducing its presence, or withdrawing completely, can it advance the full range of its strategic interests.

The Telangana takeover of Naxalism

Mohan Guruswamy

The guerilla movement took off with the forcible harvesting of crops from the lands of rich landlords.

The Indian adivasi homelands have been troubled much before the advent of Naxalism or Maoism, as some prefer it. The Naxalite leadership, which is mostly non-adivasi, has however managed to superimpose its ideological orientation on the long-prevalent disaffection of tribal people. While the Maoists have managed to exploit the tribal unrest over their exploitation and the destruction of their traditional homelands, it would be wrong for the Indian State to tar the adivasi unrest as Naxalism.

When the troubles first erupted in the predominantly tribal village of Naxalbari and began spreading to other areas in West Bengal, a popular slogan then was “China’s Chairman is our Chairman”. It may not have fired the minds of rural masses, but it caught on in university campuses all over the country. Many students of Delhi’s elite St Stephen’s College even went underground to fight for the revolution. Arvind Narain Das ran for president of the college union on a Naxalite platform in 1968 and won. Several others later on became top civil servants. In recent days, Dr Rajiv Kumar has been appointed vice-chairman of the Niti Aayog. But they soon, like their compatriots from Kolkata’s elite Presidency College, discovered that “revolution was not a dinner party or even a seminar”.

If the Stephanians soon came back after discovering they didn’t have it in them to stay the hard course nor an appetite to spill blood, others, more often than not far less privileged, showed they had in them the “right stuff” and the reasons for taking recourse to armed action and the violent overthrow of the State. The Naxalbari uprising in West Bengal in 1967 inspired several young Communists in the remote hilly and forested district of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and they gradually turned to the politics of agrarian revolution.

The logic of India’s response to China


For India, there is only one option regarding the Doklam standoff: standing up to China resolutely to protect its core interests.

Amid the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam area in the Sikkim sector, national security adviser Ajit Doval’s visit to China has come and gone. Nothing much has changed on the ground. Beijing continues to harangue and wage its psychological warfare, sometimes by reminding India of 1962 and sometimes by suggesting that countermeasures from Beijing would be unavoidable if the Narendra Modi government continues to ignore the Chinese warnings. Chinese officials even went to the extent of informing a visiting Indian media delegation that Bhutan has conveyed to Beijing through diplomatic channels that the area of the standoff is not its territory though, of course, no evidence for this claim was provided. Thimphu later denied these claims.

China is also provoking India by asking what New Delhi would do if it “enters” Kalapani region in Uttarakhand or at some place in Kashmir. This is the first time that the issue of Kashmir has been raked up by China at the official level. “The Indian side has also many trijunctions. What if we use the same excuse and enter the Kalapani region between China, India and Nepal or even into the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan,” Wang Wenli, deputy director general of the boundary and ocean affairs of China’s ministry of foreign affairs, said.

From Doklam Standoff to a Trade War? India initiates review of IT imports from China

Munish Sharma

Amid the Doklam standoff, India appears to have opened a whole new front with China which could potentially escalate into a trade war. On August 16, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) initiated a review of the IT products imported from China in the wake of growing concerns over data security.1 The government has issued a notice to 21 such manufacturers including Samsung, Apple and the Indian manufacturer Micromax to file reports confirming their compliance with government laid standards.2 The notice has a direct bearing on big players from China such as Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo and Vivo, who have swept the Indian smartphone market and hold a combined market share at 54 per cent, as of June 2017.3 Such a review could also bring suppliers across the globe in the telecom and networking segment under scrutiny, including Chinese telecom players like Huawei and ZTE.

The government’s decision has to be seen in the context of three issue areas. Firstly, given the deep inroads Chinese electronics and IT products have made in the hardware and telecom market, genuine security concerns have arisen regarding the protection of data and personal information of millions of Indian users traversing over the networking equipment. Chinese products in the telecom segment are also under the scanner in countries like Australia, the UK and the US. The Government of India has already elevated its efforts towards a Data Protection Framework, recognizing the importance of data protection and keeping the personal data of citizens secure and protected.4


By Lt Gen Philip Campose 

Why did China, on June 16, 2017, try to change the status quo in the China-India-Bhutan land dispute, by trying to occupy the strategic Doklam plateau on the Bhutanese side of the boundary tri-junction – an action which triggered the ongoing stand-off with Indian troops? What will be the foreseeable outcome of this ongoing incident, which so far has seen the Chinese media hyperventilating and holding out all sorts of threats against India, ostensibly on behalf of its government?

To understand these issues, one can start by going back into China’s recent history when, in 1990, Chairman Deng Xiaoping encapsulated China’s ‘24 character strategy’ - an interim security policy for China to ‘hide its capacities ………. bide its time ……..maintain a low profile………not claim leadership’ - while it strengthened itself economically and militarily, before claiming its ‘rightful’ place as a global superpower and the ‘second pole’ in a future bipolar world. Since recent times, especially since President Xi Jinping took over reins in 2013, China appears to have moved beyond to the next stage, which includes a more assertive approach to stake its territorial claims, by first securing its core area of interest along its periphery. Thus, China’s neighbours in the East and South China Seas as well as potential rivals elsewhere have been subjected to more assertive and hostile behavior from China, both directly and in concert with China’s proxies North Korea and Pakistan, especially in the last three years. All of China’s neighbours are well aware of China’s propensity to changing facts on the ground and slowly altering the status quo in its favour, as evident from its frenetic island building activities in South China Sea.

For the United States, India's Moves At Doklam Signal Its Willingness to Act

By Richard M. Rossow

India’s moves against China at Doklam reflect its value as a partner to the United States in preserving global order. 

India and China are currently engaged in a significant military standoff on a plateau along the China-Bhutan border. Calling it a standoff, however, somewhat clouds the real story: India sent its troops into foreign territory to stand up to China’s bullying of a much smaller neighbor, and to support peaceful negotiation of border disputes. This marks a significant milestone in India’s emergence as a regional power, and is a strong signal to Washington that India’s ascendance as a major power is underway.

U.S.-India defense ties, largely dormant from the 1960’s until the early 2000’s, have dramatically accelerated in the last three years. Our defense relationship has important new operational and philosophical underpinnings, articulated in key documents like the “Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region,” signed in January 2015, and our renewed “Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship” signed in June 2015. The United States has become India’s largest defense partner, both in terms of exercises as well as equipment sales. And the U.S. Department of Defense has created India-focused offices and programs that do not exist for any other country, including the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the India Rapid Reaction Cell (IRRC).

Doklam crisis echoes loudly in South and South-East Asia

Atul Aneja

Japan’s support to India irks China but countries — from Nepal to Philippines — keenly watching the subtle power shifts without taking sides.

From Nepal to the Philippines, countries in South and South-East Asia are keenly observing the Doklam crisis, wary of taking sides, but also keeping a close eye on subtle power shifts that the unfolding crisis embroiling China and India may reveal.

As expected, Pakistan has thrown its weight behind China, its “iron brother.” During a carefully choreographed visit to Islamabad by China’s Vice Premier, Wang Yang, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence, the Pakistani side backed all positions adopted by China, ranging from Doklam to the South China Sea (SCS), and anything that fell in-between.

Pak rues ‘Indian intrusions’ into China

The Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported that during talks with the visiting leader, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain “expressed concern over the reported Indian incursions into the Chinese territory and said that Pakistan fully supports the stance of China on the issue.” He also lauded Beijing’s “adept handling of the issue and reiterated that Pakistan stands by China on the issues of Tibet, Sinkiang (Xinjiang) and South China Sea.”

On the other end of the spectrum, in the Asia-Pacific, Japan has become the first G-7 country to support India’s position on the Doklam issue. In New Delhi, Japan’s Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu acknowledged that the Doklam area “is disputed between China and Bhutan,” countering Beijing’s claim that the stand-off was taking place on Chinese sovereign territory. His remarks drew a sharp rebuke from the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, who asserted on Friday that she wanted to “remind him [the Japanese Ambassador to India] not to randomly make comments before clarifying relevant facts.”

Asian Security 2017 Endangered by China and its Proxies War-Mongering

By Dr Subhash Kapila

China and nuclear weapons states created as proxies by China, that is, North Korea and Pakistan, have rendered Asian security as explosive in 2017 by their unrestrained war-mongering and sabre-rattling impacting Indo Pacific Asia pointedly.

The United States which is the main intended target of China in 2017 in China’s bid to emerge as the “Strategic Equivalent” of America, needs to awaken to the dangers posed by China and its nuclear proxies not only to Asian security but also to United States more pointedly. Successive American Presidents have failed via their China-accommodative strategies to persuade China to act as a responsible stakeholder in Asian and global security.

The Asian security environment in 2017 presents the sordid spectacle where an aggressive China reminiscent of Hitlerian Germany and totally oblivious to its responsibilities as a “Responsible Power” by virtues of its Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council has unleashed a ‘tsunami’ of war-mongering and sabre-rattling directly against its peer Asian rival India, besides against Japan in the East China Sea and against Vietnam in the South China Sea.

China’s main target, however, is not Asian nations but the United States. China is targeting the United States in a two-pronged strategy. The first prong is war-mongering and sabre-rattling against Asian nations perceived by it to be close to the United States----India, Japan and Vietnam. The second prong is aimed at the United States directly by proxy use of North Korea and its nuclear and missiles arsenal capable of hitting the United States.

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota gambit


Sri Lanka’s pact with China for Hambanbota port may well be a case of strategic deception, and not just a political balancing act between India and China.

Late last month, Colombo inked a revised version of a $1.1 billion deal for leasing the Hambantota port to a Chinese state-run company. The port has been controversial ever since the China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort) signed a framework agreement in December 2016 with Sri Lanka, taking an 80% stake in the project. Following the deal, however, there was much domestic unrest and accusations by Sri Lanka’s opposition parties of a sell-out to China, forcing Colombo to reconsider its position.

Sri Lanka also recognised regional concerns that Chinese control of Hambantota would result in its greater use by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). In particular, Colombo empathised with a growing sense in New Delhi that China’s expanding naval presence in South Asia represented a deliberate violation of India’s strategic redlines.

Sri Lankan leaders say the new deal corrects all that was wrong with the 2016 agreement. Besides restricting CMPort’s stakes to 70% (the lease period remaining at 99 years), Colombo has ensured that the port will not be used for military purposes. The pact limits CHPort’s role in running commercial operations by splitting the administrative functions between two companies. With a capital of $794 million, Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) will run operations at the port and its terminals. Controlled by CMPort, it will hold an 85% stake, with the rest held by Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA). The second company, Hambantota International Port Group Services (HIPS), will have a capital investment of $606 million and oversee security operations, with the SLPA holding a 50.7% stake and CHPort, 49.3%. Colombo says the agreement gives it full control over security matters, as also the right to inspect ships entering the port.

Back to Basics: Pledging Nuclear Restraint

By Manpreet Sethi

China has been a nuclear-weapon state for slightly more than five decades. Beijing has approached nuclear deterrence from a minimalist perspective, eschewing large stockpiles and launch on warning or launch under attack postures even when faced with two antagonistic superpowers. Embracing no first use (NFU) and emphasising the political nature of the weapon, China has maintained a low nuclear profile and a relaxed pace of modernization. Over the last decade, however, Beijing’s nuclear modernization programs have picked up in speed and variety, including operationalization of the new Jin-class nuclear-powered submarines, deployment of multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) and perhaps manoeuvrable re-entry warheads (MARVs) atop its missiles, dual-use cruise missiles, research and development of hypersonic missiles, and the fast-expanding use of space capabilities to improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). How far these developments will take China from its long-articulated minimalist deterrence strategy is unclear.

India is about to complete two decades as a nuclear armed state. This period has been spent operationalizing its nuclear deterrent: building a modest stockpile of an estimated 110-120 warheads, testing and inducting missiles of variable ranges, and moving towards a tentative triad capability with its first nuclear powered submarine, the INS Arihant.[1] These activities are based on a nuclear doctrine that India’s National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) drafted in August 1999, and which was subsequently endorsed, retaining most of its features, by the Indian government in 2003. The doctrine made it clear that India would develop “sufficient, survivable, and operationally prepared nuclear forces, a robust command and control system, effective intelligence, and early warning capabilities”[2] to ensure “maximum credibility, survivability.”[3] Survivability was emphasised through a “combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, dispersion and deception.”[4] Under this plan, India has built a credible arsenal and a set of requisite capabilities to satisfy its concept of credible minimum deterrence (CMD).

Dangerous optimism on Doklam


Military confrontation between India and China on Doklam is showing little sign of abating — China is not in any mood to moderate its words.

The military confrontation between India and China at Doklam is now in its second month. There is little indication that China is in any mood to moderate either its words or its behavior, and it continues to hurl threats at India almost daily. Just a few days back, for instance, a senior Chinese foreign ministry official suggested — to a visiting delegation of Indian journalists, no less — that China could intrude into other parts of the Sino-Indian border.

On the Indian side, both among analysts and apparently even within the government, there is a disconcerting optimism that China will not resort to force. Such optimism is unwarranted, and potentially problematic. China may not attack, but prudence dictates that India’s civilian and military leadership consider the possibility of war much more seriously than they appear to be doing at the moment.

China’s threats should be taken seriously. For sure, a part of the threatening language comes from China’s media, especially nationalistic outlets such as Global Times. There is a general perception that Global Times does not represent official opinion, though there are also some suggestions of official support for the publication. But even if Global Times can be ignored, there is little difference in the substance of the rhetoric between it and the more staid, mainstream, “official” publications such as People’s Daily. Recently, the People’s Dailyeditorialised that India’s thinking was “wishful” and “deluded” in expecting that China would negotiate without India withdrawing its forces first.

China signals a shift in geostrategic goal


The ever-increasing list of 'core interests' involving land and maritime territories indicates an open-ended expansionist drive on the part of China.

Recent events demonstrate China’s emphasis on military power. China has employed its military in carefully selected areas it deems as ‘core interests’. These areas include simultaneous engagement with both friendly and pressures against adversarial countries spanning the land and maritime domains. The implications of these developments on regional and international security are profound.

China organised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit this year but was unable to solicit the level of support President Xi Jinping had expected. Major economic centers such as Singapore, South Korea, United States, United Kingdom, Germany and several others sent ministerial level delegations while India decided to abstain as the BRI undermines its core interests. The European Union member states that attended a trade session during the summit unanimously decided to reject the outcome statement. The reason, as already highlighted by India — the absence of assurances on transparency, co-ownership and sustainability.

With inadequate economic instruments, China started relying on its military for political signaling and coercion. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started constructing a road in a disputed territory with Bhutan, a weaker Himalayan country. However, Bhutan wasted no time in seeking India’s assistance, which pressed its military into action.

China’s Infrastructure development in the light of Doklam Stand-off

By Anushree Dutta 

Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a stand-off in the Doklam area of Sikkim sector for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area. New Delhi has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India's access to its northeastern states. Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

China formed five new theater commands namely Eastern Theater Command, Southern Theater Command, Western Theater Command, Northern Theater Command, and Central Theatre Command last year, 2016. As the tension between the two neighboring countries, which engaged in a war in 1962 over a border dispute, continues, the Western Theater Command (WTC) was formed keeping India in mind. General Zhao Zongqi is the commander of the Western Theatre Command who has around one-third of the 2.26-million strong Chinese military under his command since February 2016.[i]


The Western Theater Command (WTC) is the largest theater and has complex terrain including desert and high mountains, long borders, and challenging social conditions.[ii] The Western Theater has to look after the erstwhile territory of the Lanzhou and Chengdu Military Regions spread over the 4,057-km Boundary cum Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India. Apart from India from the West the WTC in the South looks after the border with Afghanistan, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), India, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The WTC incorporates the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Guizhou, Yunnan, Qinghai, Chongqing municipality and the two largest and most remote regions of Xinjiang and Tibet.[iii] The WTC is responsible for the unresolved borders with India and Bhutan and also responsible for the volatile region of China, Xinjiang.

Chinese SEAD-equipped J-10B emerges at Aviadarts contest

Richard D Fisher Jr 

A SEAD-mission-equipped J-10B fighter emerged for the first time at a display concluding the 2017 Aviadarts international aerial competition at Changchun Airbase in Jilin province. Source: Via Dingsheng web page

China has used the recent ‘Aviadarts’ international aerial competition to reveal for the first time that its Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-10B can be equipped to perform suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions, adding to the number of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) combat aircraft able to perform this mission.

Images of the SEAD-equipped J-10B first appeared on Chinese web pages on 10 August as part of a ground display at Changchun Airbase in Jilin Province, occurring at the end of the Aviadarts competition, part of the larger 2017 International Army Games held from 29 July to 12 August.

For the SEAD mission the J-10B was revealed to carry two Hongdu Aviation Industries YJ-91 anti-radiation missiles (ARMs). The YJ-91 was developed from the Russian Tactical Missile CorporationKh-31 family of ramjet-powered ARM and anti-ship missiles that were first seen in China in the early 2000s. The YJ-91 reportedly requires a separate guidance system pod, which was seen mounted on a fuselage pylon of the J-10B.

China and India are dangerously close to military conflict in the Himalayas

By Annie Gowen and Simon Denyer

NEW DELHI — As nuclear posturing between North Korea and the United States rivets the world, a quieter conflict between India and China is playing out on a remote Himalayan ridge — with stakes just as high.

For the past two months, Indian and Chinese troops have faced off on a plateau in the Himalayas in tense proximity, in a dispute prompted by moves by the Chinese military to build a road into territory claimed by India’s close ally, Bhutan.

India has suggested that both sides withdraw, and its foreign minister said in Parliament that the dispute can be resolved only by dialogue.

Yet China has vociferously defended the right it claims to build a road in the Doklam area, land it also claims.

Since the dispute began, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued an angry stream of almost daily denunciations of India and its “illegal trespass” and “recklessness,” along with demands that New Delhi withdraw its troops “if it cherishes peace.”

Analysts say that this most recent dispute is more worrisome because it comes at a time when relations between the two nuclear-armed powers are declining, with China framing the issue as a direct threat to its territorial integrity. For the first time, such a conflict involves a third country — the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

Remember that the fires we lite in Iraq still burn. Look and learn.

Summary: America led the invasion and occupation of Iraq, overthrowing a secular regime for what became a mostly Islamic theocratic state. It began in March 2003. Iraq is still burning. The news media seldom remind of the the chaos we created. The fighting Mosul is a vivid dot in the long war we irresponsibly ignited.

“You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people {in Iraq},” he told the president. “You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You’ll own it all.” Privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.”

— SecState Colin Powell talking to President George Bush Jr. in the Summer of 2002, from Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack. Bush ignored the warnings.

On 22 May, Ahmed Mohsen, an unemployed taxi driver, left his house in the Islamic State-controlled western part of Mosul to try to escape across the Tigris to the government-held eastern side of the city. He and his mother, along with ten other people, carried rubber tyres down to the river: most of them couldn’t swim, and they planned to tie them together to make a raft. The siege of Mosul was in its seventh month and Ahmed was both desperate and starving: he and his mother were living on handfuls of wheat they cooked, though he said it made him feel sick. His friends believe that lack of food made him light-headed and led him to risk crossing the river. ‘Even if I die in the river,’ he told them, ‘it will be better than living here.’

Five myths about missiles

North Korea’s test launches have brought the possibility of a nuclear strike firmly back into the American consciousness. A recent survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that three-quarters of Americans now consider North Korea to be a “critical threat” to the United States. U.S. intelligence analysts believe that North Korea may start deploying intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as soon as next year. And they think North Korea can fit nuclear warheads onto those missiles. How easy is it to detonate a nuclear weapon on foreign soil? Here are five myths about missiles, threats and deterrence.

Myth No. 1

For deterrence, countries must display functional weapons.

“North Korean missiles may reach US, but lack effective re-entry,” one Fox News article supplied soothingly this month. “Serious questions remain around North Korea’s ability to build vehicles to reenter the planet’s atmosphere through tremendous pressure and friction,” a Business Insider story explained . It sounds as if North Korea can’t be a threat if it hasn’t launched a projectile across the ocean.

But countries have never held their enemies to this standard. Early in the Cold War, nations tested nuclear weapons in a variety of settings, including underwater and underground. The United States and the Soviet Union also launched nuclear weapons on missiles, detonating them in the upper atmosphere or in space. At least once, on Feb. 2, 1956 , the Soviets launched a nuclear weapon into space on a medium-range missile, allowing it to reenter and detonate inside the atmosphere. On May 6, 1962 , the United States did the same from a submarine.

What Kissinger Gets Wrong About Korea

By Joseph Bosco

The physically and intellectually bionic Henry Kissinger is at it again. The former secretary of state recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal casually titled “How to Solve the North Korea Crisis,” perhaps his 12th such piece offering essentially the same advice over the past two decades.

Though the article does not live up to its title, the man himself is amazing. While his talented staff no doubt helps in periodically churning out learned pieces on current world events, Kissinger, now in his 90s, still manages to shuttle between Washington and Beijing to pass messages and offer geostrategic wisdom alternately to American and Chinese leaders. He has done this for nine U.S. presidents and for every Chinese ruler since Mao Zedong.

In his many writings and speeches addressing North Korea, Kissinger always gets the danger right:

"The long-term challenge reaches beyond the threat to American territory to the prospect of nuclear chaos. ... Asia’s nations are already under threat from North Korea’s existing short- and intermediate-range missiles."

And, again with good reason, he invariably laments the failure of the international community to resolve the issue:

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?

Esteemed General Kim Jong-Un reprieves US colony of Guam, citing concern for ocelots and sea turtles.

An ominous how-to for a terrorist attack in America

By Marc A. Thiessen 

The terrorist attack in Barcelona follows a pattern that has left more than 100 people dead and hundreds more injured in Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm and Ohio State University — a terrorist takes a van or truck and plows through innocent pedestrians on a crowded thoroughfare, turning the vehicle into “a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah.”

Those words come from an article called “The Ultimate Mowing Machine” in the 2010 edition of the glossy online al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, which provided detailed instructions for how to carry out vehicular attacks, urging would-be terrorists to “pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control . . . to strike as many people as possible in your first run.”

A Tunisian terrorist followed these instructions when he drove a tractor trailer into a Christmas market in Berlin in December; as did the British terrorists who mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London in March and London Bridge in June; as did an Uzbek terrorist who drove a truck into pedestrians and shoppers in Stockholm in April. And now we have seen this technique used by terrorists in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100. And it is not just Islamist terrorists who are inspired by these tactics. Last weekend, an allegedly neo-Nazi domestic terrorist, James Alex Fields Jr., used a car to mow down a crowd in Charlottesville.

In Latin America, Populism Is Alive And Well

Populism is frequently diagnosed as the root cause of Latin America's greatest political and economic ills. But just as the human body reacts to an infection by entering a feverish state, many consider populism to be the public's response to a society in disarray. By understanding the underlying conditions that enabled the rise of strongmen like Argentina's Juan Domingo Peron or Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, we can more easily spot the early signs of populism flaring in the region once again.

Men of the People

In the centuries following its independence, Latin American history has been marked by economic cycles of boom and bust. Periods of political volatility and upheaval accompanied these ups and downs, further adding to the stress that financial uncertainty places on regional governments. It is little surprise, then, that powerful leaders gained a reputation in Latin America as the glue holding society together in times of great strain.

The first of these strongmen - known locally as caudillos - emerged after the region's decolonization during the 19th century, establishing a trend that was to become prominent in the 20th century. From Juan Manuel de Rosas in Argentina to Simon Bolivar in Venezuela, charismatic rulers proceeded to capture the public's attention and, more often than not, their support - a style of leadership today founded on populism.

Let’s try a defensive strategy in America’s wars, and win.

Summary: So many posts here describe how we are losing. Since we’ve forgotten, I’m reposting explanations of why and how we are losing — and how we can win in the age when 4th generation warfare (4GW) is the dominant mode of war. Step one: adopt a rational grand strategy. The original version was posted in June 2008. Since we have learned nothing since then, it is as true now as then.

“We should cultivate a reluctance “to travel a long distance to kill foreigners at great expense” unless we have great need.”

Can America do a grand strategy? 

First, lose the baggage in our minds. 

Second, some simple recommendations. 

Make more friends and fewer enemies. 

Don’t gamble. Adopt slow but sure tactics. 

Survive until we win. 

More about a defensive strategy for America. 

For more information. 
(1) Can America do a grand strategy?

“The {Athenian} masses voted …to kill every adult male citizen of Mytilene… to spare every adult male citizen of Mytilene… to put Alkibiades in charge of the Sicilian expedition… to put Nikias in charge of the Sicilian expedition. The Athenian demos voted for *everybody* at different times.”

Will U.S. Cyberwarriors Be Ready For The Next Big Hack?

By Sandra Erwin

Hackers around the world see weaknesses in U.S. voting systems, electric grids and other pillars of American society.

Russia’s alleged election meddling and other high-profile breaches have created a heightened sense of vulnerability even as new gee-whiz technologies to keep hackers at bay flood the market.

To deter future attacks, experts warn, the United States needs to shore up its defenses and upend the perception that its systems are easy prey.

“I guarantee the North Koreans and the Iranians saw what the Russians did and they’re going to try things in 2018 and 2020,” said former Pentagon cybersecurity policy chief Eric Rosenbach. “We have to change the perception that they’re going to get away with that,” he said at an industry conference last month.

Intelligence analysts have been raising red flags about North Korea taking a page from the Russian playbook. Cyberattacks are part of the regime’s “nontraditional methods that they can use to both support their own goals and gain some leverage in the international community,” said Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future and a former National Security Agency official.

Military sees dramatic drop in demand for infantry service

Yoav Limor 

Several weeks ago, the IDF published the statistical breakdown of the August draft class. The trend revealed by those statistics, which indicates a clear and fundamental shift in the priorities of young Israelis, has sparked a great deal of concern. 

In previous years, trends among recruits were mainly internal in nature -- the popularity of one infantry brigade shifted to a different infantry brigade. Following the 1997 helicopter disaster (in which two Israeli Air Force transport helicopters collided in mid-air, killing all 73 Israeli military personnel on board), recruits wanted to serve in the Nahal infantry brigade; after the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the number of recruits wanting to serve in the Golani infantry brigade skyrocketed. 

But today, a clear interest in other paths is becoming evident: More recruits want to join the Air Defense Command, the Border Police and the Homefront Command. Together with the rising number of quality recruits seeking technological units, chief among them cyber warfare units, the IDF now faces a predicament regarding its ground forces, the tip of the spear that is supposed to provide the primary response in any future arena of operations. 

Has the Time Come to Replace Manned Combat Aircraft With Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles?

Kishore Kumar Khera

The F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly.

– Ray Mabus, US Secretary of the Navy

Aviation, which started with the Wright Brothers’ first controlled flight of a heavier than air machine on 17 December 1903, has come a long way in the last 114 years. As is true for many technological developments, aviation too quickly acquired a niche for itself in the military matrix. Manned aircraft were first inducted in warfare as high ground observatories to monitor enemy troop movement. Aerial reconnaissance with an observation by the pilot and later with a still camera was the first operational role of aircraft. The next step involved aircrew carrying small bombs and dropping them manually from the cockpit. Thus was born the role of ground attack. In the next phase, aircraft were equipped with guns to engage enemy aircraft in the air and this commenced the aerial combat role. Besides these, the development of bigger airframes and powerful engines enabled the development of transport aircraft, which were subsequently modified with the fitment of radars, jammers and fuel tanks for surveillance, electronic warfare and inflight refuelling, respectively. These roles are being performed by manned aircraft albeit with much better technology and accuracy than was possible during the 20th century.

America’s top 4 cyberspace foes

By: Mark Pomerleau 

Russia, China, Iran and North Korea: These four nations come up often when discussing the top threats facing the United States. These nations also possess advanced cyber capabilities, which are used for achieving a competitive economic advantage, sowing discord, raising money and a whole host of other reasons.

Kevin Mandia, CEO at cybersecurity firm FireEye, broke down these threats and the tactics of each nation in cyberspace during an August 15 keynote at DoDIIS Worldwide 2017 in St. Louis.


Mandia explained that he first responded to a Chinese-attributed breach back in the late 1990s while he was still in the military. The breach occurred at a university. While China’s hacking was not new, per se, Mandia said he discovered for the first time that China had a division of labor among their hackers.

Hackers, he said, were using a still-active account from a former Chinese foreign national who attended the university. The hackers logged in and validated the user ID and passphrase. This process continued as the hackers moved from one user ID to the next once one was compromised. All the user IDs and passphrases were different, Mandia said, meaning they had division of labor in which one set of hackers would test the accounts and another team would to go in and steal things based on the access.

Here’s how the IC’s newest cyber center informs decision-makers

By: Mark Pomerleau

Established in 2015, the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center — the newest of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s four multi-agency centers — seeks to build a better understanding of foreign cyberthreats to U.S. national interest and to enable informed decision-making.

The goal is to facilitate the sharing of that information with a view to integrated community analysis of cyberthreats and supporting interagency planning while pulling information from network defense intelligence and the law enforcement community, said Lt. Gen. John Bansemer, assistant director of national intelligence partner engagement at ODNI, who spoke Wednesday at the DoDIIS Worldwide Conference.

The bottom line, he said, is that CTIIC integrates a whole-of-government approach against cyber adversaries, and it does this in three ways.

First, it provides awareness of adversary threat activities. During the initial outbreak of the WannaCry ransomware, Tom Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, explained that CTIIC was keeping the government informed of the classified insights and the investigation into the cyberattack.

The UN GGE is dead: Time to fall forward

The top down UN GGE process appears dead in the water. International norms and laws for responding to cyber attacks must now be built from the bottom up. 

Rules must be binding, violations must be punished, and words must mean something. The UN GGE failed on all three accounts. 

In 2004, the United Nations established a Group of Governmental Experts with the aim of strengthening the security of global information and telecommunications systems (UN GGE). To date the UN GGE has held five sessions, which are widely credited for successfully outlining the global cybersecurity agenda and introducing the applicability of international law to state behaviour in cyberspace. 

However, during the UN GGE’s fifth session in June 2017, fundamental disagreements emerged between the Group’s 25 members, particularly on the right to self-defence and the applicability of international humanitarian law to cyber conflicts. In the end, the fifth and possibly last session concluded without the release of a consensus report. With no plans to pick up the pieces, the question now is, where do we go from here? 

How military forces are combating the ransomware epidemic

By Nicola Whiting 

Organisations should follow the military's lead by adopting automated tools to combat cyber threats.

With organisations still recovering in the fallout from global ransomware attacks, Nicola Whiting, Chief Operating Officer at Titania explores how militaries have fortified their defences against the epidemic 

The rise of automation across the global economy has impacted every industry from media and financial services to information technology and healthcare. 

Worldwide, industries are adopting automated technologies to improve efficiency across operations and accelerate productivity within the human workforce. At Titania we know the cyber security industry is no different; clients such as leading defence agencies and military forces such as the US Department of Defence, the US Air Force and NATO have been amongst the first to adopt automated technologies within their cyber operations. 

Within the remit of cyber security, these technologies can greatly improve the defensive capabilities of any organisation by auditing vast amounts of cyber-infrastructure for the vulnerabilities often exploited by hackers. From a defensive standpoint, any open ports, unpatched software or vulnerabilities in firewalls can be identified and a full report given on how to fix the problem. 

Ships fooled in GPS spoofing attack suggest Russian cyberweapon

By David Hambling

Reports of satellite navigation problems in the Black Sea suggest that Russia may be testing a new system for spoofing GPS, New Scientist has learned. This could be the first hint of a new form of electronic warfare available to everyone from rogue nation states to petty criminals.

On 22 June, the US Maritime Administration filed a seemingly bland incident report. The master of a ship off the Russian port of Novorossiysk had discovered his GPS put him in the wrong spot – more than 32 kilometres inland, at Gelendzhik Airport.

After checking the navigation equipment was working properly, the captain contacted other nearby ships. Their AIS traces – signals from the automatic identification system used to track vessels – placed them all at the same airport. At least 20 ships were affected.

While the incident is not yet confirmed, experts think this is the first documented use of GPS misdirection – a spoofing attack that has long been warned of but never been seen in the wild.

Until now, the biggest worry for GPS has been it can be jammed by masking the GPS satellite signal with noise. While this can cause chaos, it is also easy to detect. GPS receivers sound an alarm when they lose the signal due to jamming. Spoofing is more insidious: a false signal from a ground station simply confuses a satellite receiver. “Jamming just causes the receiver to die, spoofing causes the receiver to lie,” says consultant David Last, former president of the UK’s Royal Institute of Navigation.