9 September 2017

*** Revisiting Europe, the Heroic Delusion

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The European Union is what political philosopher Leo Strauss might have called a “heroic delusion.” It is a noble dream, a dream that the only thing necessary for peace in Europe is shared prosperity. And for a time, the EU was living the dream. The hardships of the 2008 financial crisis, however, showed what a flimsy basis shared prosperity was for the EU’s future. Much of the infighting we observe today within the EU is a last-ditch effort by some to give the EU the types of powers it would need to forge an effective and politically sovereign entity. They are unlikely to succeed.

Take the bureaucratic spat between Poland and the European Commission. The two have long been at odds over the current Polish government’s desire to reform Poland’s judicial system in a way that gives it more power to select and remove judges. The latest chapter in the saga began Aug. 28, when Poland’s Foreign Ministry released a statement rejecting the commission’s critiques of Poland as “groundless” and sent a 12-page document of legal reasoning to Brussels to underscore the point. The European Commission fired back Aug. 31, with the deputy head of the commission saying the body would not drop the issue and would seek all means at its disposal to bring Poland to heel. The same day, in an interview with Le Point, French President Emmanuel Macron said Poland’s policies were “very worrying,” saying they call into question European solidarity and even the rule of law itself.

** Destabilizing Northeast Asia: The Real Impact of North Korea's Nuclear and Missile Programs

It is all too natural for Americans to view North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in terms of what seems to be an irrational threat to the United States: From a narrow U.S. perspective, North Korea's action seem almost suicidal. North Korea is creating a threat to the United States that could lead the U.S. into preventive strikes against North Korea and either force it back down or trigger a conventional war that it would lose catastrophically—albeit at immense cost to South Korea. Or, if the United States does not respond with effective preventive strikes or diplomacy, actually North Korea will acquire a nuclear capability to strike at the United States which—if ever exercised—would trigger a level of massive U.S. nuclear retaliation that much—or most—of North Korea would not survive.

There is, however, a different side to North Korea's actions. The key aspects of the military balance involve South Korea, Japan, and China far more directly than the United States. North Korea is the most militarized nation in the world, and any all-out conventional war on the Korean peninsula would do immense damage to South Korea and produce massive civilian casualties.

The Limits to North Korean Conventional Warfare Capability

At the same time, most of North Korea's conventional weaponry is aging, some is obsolescent, and it has a remarkably limited economy and infrastructure that is highly vulnerable to precision conventional strikes, "stealth," and the full spectrum of U.S. SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defense) technology and weapons. South Korea is far better equipped, and its conventional advantage is improving over time.

** Can Ballistic Missile Defense Shield Guam From North Korea?

by Ankit Panda

Attempts by the United States and Japan to intercept North Korean ballistic missiles headed toward Guam could fail and undermine the credibility of missile defense.

North Korea has threatened to test-fire four unarmed intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) that would fly over Japan and land in the waters around Guam, a U.S. territory that hosts multiple military facilities. Pyongyang has never conducted such a test, and it would be among the most provocative actions ever taken by the regime against the United States and Japan.

On August 28, North Korea, for the first time, fired a ballistic missile designed to carry nuclear payloads over Japan that landed in the northern Pacific Ocean. While the United States and Japan did not do so during this launch, they may seek to intercept future launches of this kind with a range of defense systems—especially if the missile appears to be on a trajectory for Guam. There are risks associated with both attempting and not attempting to destroy the missiles.

[Such a test] would be among the most provocative actions ever taken by the regime against the United States and Japan.

* ‘Killer Robots’ Can Make War Less Awful

By Jeremy Rabkin 

On Aug. 20, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and dozens of other tech leaders wrote an open letter sounding the alarm about “lethal autonomous weapons,” the combination of robotics and artificial intelligence that is likely to define the battlefield of the future. Such weapons, they wrote, “will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” and they could fall into the hands of terrorists and despots. The tech leaders urged the U.N. to pre-empt an arms race in these technologies by acting immediately, before “this Pandora’s box is opened.”

Mr. Musk has established himself in recent years as the world’s most visible and outspoken critic of developments in artificial intelligence, so his views on so-called “killer robots” are no surprise. But he and his allies are too quick to paint dire scenarios, and they fail to acknowledge the enormous potential of these weapons to defend the U.S. while saving lives and making war both less destructive and less likely.

In a 2014 directive, the U.S. Defense Department defined an autonomous weapons system as one that, “once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator.” Examples in current use by the U.S. include small, ultralight air and ground robots for conducting reconnaissance and surveillance on the battlefield and behind the lines, antimissile and counter-battery artillery, and advanced cruise missiles that select targets and evade defenses in real-time. The Pentagon is developing autonomous aerial drones that can defeat enemy fighters and bomb targets; warships and submarines that can operate at sea for months without any crew; and small, fast robot tanks that can swarm a target on the ground.

Here’s how India can be the world leader in drug manufacturing

By Junaid Ahmad 

As the monsoon gathers pace, civic authorities are gearing up to deal with the spectre of malaria, chikungunya and an assortment of other maladies. Yet, while two-thirds of the world’s people are at risk from these and other debilitating diseases, no vaccines have yet been developed to prevent them.

Even where vaccines exist — such as for dengue and the human papilloma virus, the precursor of cervical cancer — they don’t target the strains prevalent in India. Or they are prohibitively expensive. Since it costs an average of $800 million to bring a single new drug to market, most R&D budgets focus on developing drugs that fetch high returns. This leaves the diseases that afflict the developing world with few takers.

India is well-placed to fill this gap. Two key strengths have enabled India to reach its pinnacle position as the world’s largest manufacturer of high quality generic medicines and vaccines.

India’s academia has established a strong base in scientific research that helps identify potential new drugs. The private too sector has mastered reverse-engineering drugs and vaccines freed from patent protections.

Drones to the rescue

Rahul Matthan

The use of drones to deliver blood in remote hospitals in Rwanda demonstrates how this technology is capable of being used in a number of alternative practical applications. Photo: Bloomberg

A majority of the 11 million citizens of Rwanda live outside the capital Kigali in areas so remote that getting there by road is a nightmare. Access to most of the nearly 500 health centres and district hospitals outside the capital requires you to drive down unpaved roads, through rugged, hilly terrain made all the more impassable by the twice-yearly rains. Consequently, one of the biggest challenges hospitals in remote locations have to contend with is being able to get blood when they need it. 

To be useable, blood needs to be stored between 2 and 6 degrees centigrade. If the temperature falls below 2 degrees it could result in haemolysis (a condition where the blood cells rupture causing fatal bleeding or renal failure), if it rises above 6 degrees centigrade it could result in bacterial contamination. Once removed from the refrigerator, the blood must be used within 30 minutes, offering a very small window of utility in locations where the infrastructure is poor. This means that, for the most part, patients in Rwanda who need blood stand a better chance of surviving if they drive to a larger city for treatment than wait for the blood to get to them.

The Priority List For Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman’s elevation as the Union Minister of Defence was met with deserved applause for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and, more predictably, a spate of news stories highlighting the “gimme” attitude of the military, with each armed service pitching its set of wants. Television channels meanwhile indulged in symbolism, portraying her – as a strappy, no-nonsense, ‘Durga’, presumably, ready to lay waste adversaries. There are the Mahishasuras to slay, many of them, she’ll find lurking in her own ministry and in the military. That should keep her busy for a long time. But, hopefully, Sitharaman will bring to her job the attributes that high-achievers of her gender are justly appreciated for – practical good sense, capacity for multi-tasking, and natural tact to make the demons smile even as she plunges the Trishul into them.

Firstly, the new defence minister has to inoculate herself against being overwhelmed and beguiled by technical jargon and minutiae and military pressure – all of which can get brains to freeze, as has regularly happened with her predecessors.

Secondly, she needs to set her goal. Does she mean to be transformational, or merely fill a South Block ministerial chair?


Perhaps the most notable part of President Donald Trump’s new Afghan “strategy” has been its treatment of Pakistan, with the president saying out loud what was once largely debated and threatened in private. This has met with predictable glee in India, which was singled out for praise in the speech on Aug. 21, and angry defiance of a “false narrative” in Pakistan.

A number of experts have already weighed in on the viability of this approach. Several observers praised Trump’s willingness to threaten Pakistan in more forthright terms than ever before, potentially forcing it to reconsider the costs of its sponsorship of the Taliban and other groups. Others, including those under no illusions about Pakistan’s longstanding sponsorship of Islamist militants, have been more cautious. Christopher Clary outlined the risks in an excellent essay, concluding that “Pakistani support of groups that have targeted U.S. forces … may well be a moral travesty, but geopolitically it may be less costly than losing Pakistan’s cooperation in other areas.” Stephen Tankel, who has published some of the very best work on how to restructure the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, warned that there was “little evidence that coercion on its own will work.” Both sets of views deserve careful consideration.

Trump Is Treating Pakistan Like a Scapegoat for America's Failures in Afghanistan

Abdul Basit

The Trump administration believes it can kill its way to victory by ramping up the war effort and keeping the Taliban out of power.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” This sums up Pakistan’s perspective of President Donald Trump’s Afghan policy. After sixteen years of war that has cost Americans $1 trillion, Trump has opted for the tried, tested and failed formula of conflict militarization in Afghanistan. At the same time, Trump has called out Pakistan on its duplicity of allegedly “harbouring terrorists” and urged India to play a larger role in stabilizing Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, there is disappointment on Trump’s blame game. Instead of acknowledging Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror that have left sixty thousand people dead and cost over $118 billion in economic losses, Trump has conveniently scapegoated Pakistan for American failures in Afghanistan.  

The United States needs a reality check: not Pakistan, but America’s inconsistent policies and impatient approach have destabilized Afghanistan. Since 2009, the U.S. policy in Afghanistan has changed every year. For instance, in 2009, the Obama administration opted for troop surge arguing there were not enough boots on the ground to win the war. In 2010, the U.S. focus shifted its focus to poppy eradication, which was deemed as the main factor that fueled the Taliban insurgency. Then, in 2011, the United States developed an obsession with rampant corruption in Kabul that undermined the U.S. nation-building efforts.

Soros and Hydrocarbons: What's Really Behind the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar

The Rohingya conflict in Myanmar, which had caught its second wind in August 2017, appears to be a multidimensional crisis with major geopolitical players involved, experts say, referring to both internal and external reasons behind the recent upsurge in violence in the country.

The Rohingya conflict, which erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine state in late August, was apparently fanned by external global players, Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Centre for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RT.

According to the academic, the conflict has at least three dimensions.

"First, this is a game against China, as China has very large investments in Arakan [Rakhine]," Mosyakov told RT. "Second, it is aimed at fuelling Muslim extremism in Southeast Asia…. Third, it's the attempt to sow discord within ASEAN [between Myanmar and Muslim-dominated Indonesia and Malaysia]."

According to Mosyakov, the century-long conflict is used by external players to undermine Southeast Asian stability, especially given the fact that what is at stake are vast reserves of hydrocarbons located offshore of the Rakhine state.

China’s troublesome civil-military relations


NEW DELHI – Has Chinese President Xi Jinping managed to assert full civilian control over the People’s Liberation Army through purges of generals and admirals and other reform-related actions? China’s secretive and opaque political system makes it hard to get a clear picture. Yet recent developments suggest Xi is still struggling to keep the PLA in line.

Take the recent troop standoff with India that raised the specter of a Himalayan war, with China threatening reprisals if New Delhi did not unconditionally withdraw its forces from a small Bhutanese plateau that Beijing claims is Chinese territory “since ancient times.” After 10 weeks, the faceoff on the Doklam Plateau dramatically ended with both sides pulling back troops and equipment from the site on the same day, signaling that Beijing, not New Delhi, had blinked.

The mutual-withdrawal deal was struck just after Xi replaced the chief of the PLA’s Joint Staff Department. This topmost position — equivalent to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff — was created only last year as part of Xi’s military reforms to turn the PLA into a force “able to fight and win wars.” The Joint Staff Department is in charge of PLA’s operations, intelligence and training.

China Begins To Reset The World’s Reserve Currency System

It’s a strategic move swapping oil for gold, rather than for U.S. Treasuries, which can be printed out of thin air. – Grant Williams

A report released by the Nikkei Asian Review indicates that China is prepared to release a yuan-denominated oil futures contract that is convertible (backed by) physical gold. The contract will enable China’s largest oil suppliers to settle oil sales in yuan, rather than in dollars, and then convert the yuan into gold on exchanges in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

This is a significant step in removing the global reserve currency status of the dollar and resetting the the global economic and geopolitical “landscape.” Over the past several years, China has quietly established yuan-based currency exchange facilities, which has set up the ability to implement this new non-dollar trade settlement financial instrument. According to the Brookings Institute, 34 Central Banks around the world have signed bilateral local currency swap agreements with the PBoC as of of the end of September 2016, including the major oil-producing countries. With this new contract, China’s largest oil suppliers will now be able to transact directly with China, and other oil importing countries, using yuan which are directly convertible into gold to settle the trade.

As Alasdair Macleod asserts, “It is a mechanism which is likely to appeal to oil producers that prefer to avoid using dollars, and are not ready to accept that being paid in yuan for oil sales to China is a good idea either.”

Xi gets the generals he wants

Xi Jinping has begun effecting appointments to top positions in the People's Liberation Army in the run-up to the 19th congress of the Chinese Communist party, now officially announced to open in Beijing on October 18, 2017.

The new commanders of the PLA navy and the southern theatre command, both born in 1956, were the first to be appointed with their promotions being simultaneously announced in January 2017.

Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong was appointed PLA navy commander replacing Admiral Wu Shengli while Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, a submariner, was appointed commander of the southern theatre command exercising jurisdiction over the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.

It is for the first time in the PLA's 90-year history that a naval officer has been appointed to head a theatre command.

More recently, on August 26, 2017, General Li Zuocheng, a 'hero' of the Sino-Vietnam war in 1979 and commander of the PLA army (PLAA) (ground forces), was promoted to head the joint staff department of the central military commission, replacing General Fang Fenghui.

General Li will oversee the PLA's combat planning, strategy, logistics and training.

Shu Guozeng, a native of Hangzhou who worked under Xi Jinping when he was party secretary of China's Zhejiang province, was also appointed head of discipline inspection at the general office of the Communist party's central committee as well as the central committee's general office, which report directly to Xi.

Book Review: “Chinese Intelligence Operations”

by James Torrence

In his book, Chinese Intelligence Operations, Nicholas Eftimiades states that the “lucrative field of espionage…is highly suited to the [People’s Republic of China] PRC” (Eftimiades, LOC 1585). Eftimiades’ assertions were developed in 1994 and have continually been proven true in the twenty-two years since he wrote the book. The PRC is highly suited for cyber intelligence operations because of the type of information about which the PRC deems necessary to maintain its position as a regional power, and the use of non-intelligence experts in positions of importance all over the world.

Eftimiades makes it evident that China “has little to gain from intense espionage and analysis activities directed at global political-military alliances outside its region of influence” (Eftimiades LOC 311), and that their “perception of internal and external threats dictates the information requirements levied on its intelligence services” (Eftimiades LOC 311). China does not have a worldwide military which means it has “less interest in the global political military environment” (Eftimiades, LOC 324) than other nations, but that doesn’t mean China isn’t interested in worldwide intelligence operations. Instead of intelligence geared towards worldwide global-political information:

China’s intelligence activities support its policy interests by acquiring foreign high technology (for military and civilian uses), identifying and influencing foreign policy trends (such as bilateral policy and trade issues), and monitoring dissident groups (such as democracy advocates and Taiwanese nationals (Eftimiades, LOC 342).

Building an H-Bomb in Plain Sight


Usually countries build nuclear weapons in secret—but not North Korea. 

North Korea’s latest nuclear weapon test is by far its largest yet. Preliminary analysis of the seismic signals it generated while exploding under a mountain last week suggest it was at least 100 kilotons in strength, and the North Koreans themselves claim it was “hundreds” of kilotons. (The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was 15 kilotons.) This has led many analysts to suggest that North Korea has in fact developed a working hydrogen bomb.

North Korea has backed up its claim—sort of—by releasing photographs showing a peanut-shaped weapon that could fit into a missile nose cone. While an external weapon casing cannot tell one much about what actually is inside the weapon (it might be filled with jelly beans for all we know), it’s the clearest signal yet that the North Koreans desperately want the world to consider them a thermonuclear power.

The North Korean Missile Threat

by Niall McCarthy

In one of its most provocotive acts yet, North Korea has test-fired a ballistic missile over Japan's Hokkaido region, prompting its residents to seek cover. And now Pyongyang has tested a powerful nuclear device 6 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in WW II.

Early analysis suggests the missile was a Hwasong-12 that flew over 2,700km before breaking into three pieces and landing in the North Pacific Ocean approximately 1,180km from the Japanese coast.

North Korea possesses a host of short and medium range systems including rocket-artillery and SCUD tactical ballistic missiles. Its intercontinental ballistic missiles are a whole different ball game and western obervers believe Pyongyang was able to develop that advanced technology under the auspices of its Unha space program.

Using data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Missile Defense Project, the following infographic provides an overview of the key ballistic missiles in North Korea's arsenal. While the Taepodong-2 was probably only used as part of the Unha space program, the Hwasong 14 is notable as being likely capable of reaching the continental United States.

Behind North Korea’s Belligerence, Pakistan’s Complicity

Shaunak Agarkhedkar

How Pakistan played a significant role in the rapid growth of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme

On 3 September 2017, seismologists recorded activity that suggested a shallow, magnitude 6.3 earthquake in North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK). Hours later, the hermit kingdom claimed to have successfully tested what it called “an advanced hydrogen bomb”.

The Government of Japan had initially estimated the yield of the device to be 120 kilotons, but that was soon revised upwards to 160 kilotons as seismologists upgraded their estimates of seismic activity.

The magnitude certainly puts it within the expected yield range of a hydrogen bomb, but until radionucleotides from the explosion are tested, it will be impossible to tell. What is clear, however, is that DPRK’s nuclear weapons programme has evolved rapidly. Coming hot on the heels of testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (Hwasong-14), capable of reaching mainland United States (US), this nuclear test will have significant ramifications for the relations between the US and its allies in Asia. The speed with which Pyongyang has gone from fission devices that fizzled to a possible fusion device will raise questions about whether it is receiving technical aid from an external entity.

In this context, it is helpful to review the technical aid it has already received for its nuclear weapons programme and how that aid has enabled it to indulge in belligerent brinkmanship.


NORTH KOREA CONDUCTED its sixth nuclear test on Sunday, claiming that it had detonated a hydrogen bomb that was small and light enough to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile. Pyongyang has made such claims before without proof that it actually possesses those advanced capabilities. Sensors in South Korea, China, and the US indicated, though, that whatever the Hermit Kingdom exploded underground on Sunday was more powerful than the atomic weapons the US used during World War II—a benchmark North Korea had not definitively topped before.

The blast comes on the heels of an unsettling ballistic missile test last week, in which North Korea flew a mid-range projectile over northern Japan's Hokkaido Island. But both recent tests fit into a larger picture over the last three years of North Korea's increasing determination to become a fully capable nuclear power. The Obama administration, which pursued so-called "strategic patience," began to see the necessity of stepping up pressure on North Korea to stop this evolution in the final years of the second term. Trouble is, there are limited options for attempting to address tension with North Korea, and while President Donald Trump has thus far largely followed established paths, namely by levying sanctions, his trademark inflammatory language seems to have emboldened Kim Jong-un rather than cowing him into any type of compliance.

Brics member states must find common ground to balance Western interests

Arun K Singh 

The just-concluded ninth Brics summit in Xiamen, China, had attracted more than the usual attention because of the preceding month-and-a-half tense standoff between India and China at Doklam, and the sixth nuclear test conducted by North Korea coinciding with its start.

Questions were also raised about continued relevance of Brics since two of its members (India and China) had serious differences, geopolitical rivalries and intensifying competition in the Indian Ocean, South Asia and Southeast Asia; two other members (India and Russia) were seen as somewhat drifting apart with India building closer relations with the United States and Europe, and Russia getting more linked to China and exploring new opportunities, including military, in Pakistan; and two (South Africa and Brazil) bedevilled by political and economic instability. This was a far cry from the beginning of this century when the concept was promoted as an investment marketing strategy by western financial firms, and taken forward by the five countries also as a check on post-1990 western unipolar dominance.

Despite its detractors, the summit and its outcomes showed that the Brics process remains relevant. The five countries--Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa--account for 42% of the world’s population, 23% of global GDP, 17% of international trade, and nearly 50% of growth in recent past.

U.S. Army unprepared to deal with Russia in Europe


A self-assessment by the 173rd Airborne Brigade is called ‘a real eye-opener’ to how some critical capabilities to deter Russia have eroded.

The U.S. Army’s rapid reaction force in Europe is underequipped, undermanned and inadequately organized to confront military aggression from Russia or its high-tech proxies, according to an internal study that some who have read it view as a wake-up call as the Trump administration seeks to deter an emboldened Vladimir Putin.

The Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, a bulwark of the NATO alliance that has spent much of the past decade and a half rotating in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, lacks “essential capabilities needed to accomplish its mission effectively and with decisive speed,” according to the analysis by the brigade, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the unit's paratroopers were the first American troops to reach the Baltic states to deter another potential incursion on NATO’s eastern flank.

But the assessment details a series of “capability gaps” the unit has identified during recent training with Ukrainian troops with experience battling Russian-backed separatists, who have used cheap drones and electronic warfare tools to pinpoint targets for artillery barrages and devastated government armored vehicles with state-of-the-art Russian antitank missiles.

It’s not madness Getting a bomb is insurance, it is North Korea’s strategy. The world will have to live with it

by Praveen Swami

In the spring of 1953, with the war in Korea bogged down in a stalemate, hundreds of soldiers dying in battles of no conceivable tactical gain, 16 men gathered in a room at the Pentagon to discuss what might next be done. “Future Courses of Action in Connection With the Situation in Korea”, prepared by civilian consultants for the National Security Council, wasn’t — as its bland title might have suggested — a road-map for then-ongoing peace-talks, which would culminate in an armistice that summer. It was a radical proposal to break the military impasse, by using nuclear weapons.

General Omar Bradley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, made the case for the use of nuclear bombs, as he had often done during the war. “Because of the casualties that will be involved in any stepped-up ground action”, he argued, “we may find that we will be forced to use every type of weapon that we have”.

There was just one problem: The Soviet Union’s own nuclear bomb, which it might use if its communist allies were attacked. “The Commies, scattered over one hundred and fifty miles of front, and well dug in, don’t present nearly as attractive a target to us as we do to them”, cautioned James Lawton, the US army chief.

The Ugly Rhymes of History? #Reviewing Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies

Thomas McDermott

Insurgency is an old concept. If you were to travel back to Iraq between 2334 and 2279 BC, you would find a man called Sargan. Sargan ruled a vast empire spanning from Southern Iraq to Southern Turkey, enforced by overwhelming military power. His Akkadian hordes, armed with high-tech composite bows and sophisticated logistics, laid waste to all before them. Their strategy was a simple one; ‘mass slaughter, enslavement, the deportation of defeated enemies, and the total destruction of their cities.’ For years their technological edge and brutal strategy allowed the Akkadians to dominate. When they inevitably fell, however, they did not fall to a superior empire. They were victim to a new phenomenon: a tireless, guerrilla-style attack from the unsophisticated barbarian hordes all around them. In 2190 BC the city of Akkad, near modern Baghdad, finally fell.

Max Boot believes that the defeat of the Akkadians was the ‘birth of insurgency’.[1] If he is right, it was the start of an inauspicious history for a style of conflict that continues to thrive today. The places are even the same. Four thousand years after the fall of Akkad, not two hours drive away in the town of Fallujah, a combined force of 10,000 US Marines, British Highlanders, and Iraqi soldiers engaged in a brutal fight against a violent group of insurgents. Since then the counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign in Iraq has expanded into a clash that seems to pit the developed world against an extremist ideology. From ancient beginnings, insurgency now has a global face.

Future Logistician – framing a new approach

By Major General David Mulhall

What do we need of our military logisticians in the future? Or perhaps, what skills, attributes, experiences and education will best prepare logisticians to deliver outcomes in a Joint environment? An environment that is characterised by change; changes in war fighting concepts and capabilities, quantum leaps in our capacity to source and manipulate information, and the possibilities of artificial intelligence to improve our decision-making and management of system performance.

I had the great fortune while visiting the US last September to attend a thought-provoking presentation by the American political scientist, international relations scholar and specialist on 21st century warfare, P.W. Singer. He posed a number challenging questions that day, but four ideas in particular resonated with me: 

How do we prepare our logisticians to think about and develop future requirements beyond what we know currently? 

How do we prepare our logisticians to best enable joint war-fighting in the Digital Age? 

Our logistics enterprise needs to be relevant today and tomorrow in support of the Joint… 

Mission Command and Detailed Command – It’s Not a Zero-Sum Game

By Alan Hastings

Recent debate among military professionals on the subjects of mission command and detailed command has highlighted a common misunderstanding about each’s role in tactical operations. While we cannot expect to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative without embracing the philosophy of mission command, it is not a panacea to every tactical problem leaders are likely to face. Operations often require detailed command and control in order to achieve the overwhelming effects on the enemy necessary to accomplish the mission. Thus, both mission command and detailed command provide value to the tactical leader during operations.

The use of mission orders enables disciplined initiative by the tactical leader to pursue realization of the commander’s desired end state. The tactical leader conducts operations in accordance with his commander’s intent. When he encounters an enemy, he executes a decision cycle and acts in the manner that he believes will result in the most favorable outcome.


A new Army White Paper reveals plans to further integrate character development into careers by requiring a formal certification at certain points of a career that a soldier has shown competence, performance and high ethical standards. This might happen at completion of training, changes of responsibility or promotion, the paper suggests.

Called “The Army’s Framework for Character Development,” the 28-page paper, released in its final form Aug. 28, is part of a continuing effort focused on fostering moral and professional principles through leadership and training. That has always been important but takes on new meaning as the Army considers that future warfare could have units operating alone, without communication with higher commands and left to make their own decisions.

“Changing conditions in the character of war will present new ethical challenges, requiring Army professionals who can effectively exercise disciplined initiative in the chaos of combat,” the White Paper says. “We must anticipate these challenges and be prepared to meet them.”

The Army believes good character can be taught. “While inherited genetic factors certainly contribute to who we are, these are complemented by the full spectrum of psychological, sociological and biological influences throughout our environment over time,” the White Paper says. “The factors that promote honesty, and being respectful, humble and of service to others, among other virtues, are derived from our formal and informal education, training and experiences.”

The Gerasimov Doctrine It’s Russia’s new chaos theory of political warfare. And it’s probably being used on you.


Lately, Russia appears to be coming at the UnitedStates from all kinds of contradictory angles. Russian bots amplified Donald Trump during the campaign, but in office, Kremlin-backed media portray him as weak. Vladimir Putin is expelling U.S. diplomats from Russia, limiting options for warmer relations with the administration he wanted in place. As Congress pushes a harder line against Russia, plenty of headlines declare that Putin’s gamble on Trump has failed.

Confused? Only if you don’t understand the Gerasimov Doctrine.

In February 2013, General Valery Gerasimov—Russia’s chief of the General Staff, comparable to the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—published a 2,000-word article, “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight,” in the weekly Russian trade paper Military-Industrial Kurier. Gerasimov took tactics developed by the Soviets, blended them with strategic military thinking about total war, and laid out a new theory of modern warfare—one that looks more like hacking an enemy’s society than attacking it head-on. He wrote: “The very ‘rules of war’ have changed. The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness. … All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed character.”

The Case for Diplomacy in Cyberspace

Chris Painter

For the last six and a half amazing years I have had the honor to serve as the first Coordinator for Cyber Issues in the Secretary’s Office at the State Department. I am tremendously proud of what we have accomplished during my time as America’s top cyber diplomat, and prouder still of one of the most talented, creative and dedicated teams in government — or for that matter anywhere. My office literally created and advanced a whole new area of foreign policy focus that simply didn’t exist before. As both cyber threats and opportunities have continued to grow, so too have the range of cyber issues — including everything from Internet Freedom and Governance to combatting cybercrime, fostering cybersecurity and advancing international security and stability in cyberspace. These important matters have evolved from being seen as largely niche or technical issues, to core issues of national security, economic security, human rights and, ultimately, core issues of foreign policy.

When then Secretary Clinton created our office, we were the first of our kind in the world. Today, there are over twenty such offices, and growing, in foreign ministries around the globe — a testament to the growing importance of these issues as a foreign policy imperative. We’ve also established other precedents for the international community. For example, we pioneered “whole of government” dialogues with global partners to ensure that we were leveraging all of the capabilities of our governments on these cross-cutting issues, that now are the model for engagement between many countries. More importantly, we made concrete progress, working with other countries and partners, to ensure we maintain an open, interoperable, reliable and secure cyberspace for the future, while responding to growing threats posed by nation states, criminal groups, terrorists and others.

A robot did better than 80% of students on the University of Tokyo entrance exam


At the 2017 TED Conference this past April, AI expert Noriko Arai gave a talk presenting her Todai Robot, a machine that has been programmed to take the entrance exam to Japan's most prestigious university, Tokyo University.

While Arai discovered Todai didn't pass muster to gain acceptance, the robot still beat 80% of the students taking the exam, which consisted of seven sections, including math, English, science, and a 600-word essay writing portion.

But it wasn't necessarily cause for celebration, Arai said. "Instead, I was alarmed."

When Arai thinks about all the evidence claiming machines will replace huge swaths of the global workforce - first in manufacturing and low-skill jobs, and then perhaps in white-collar professions - she sees it as an indication that education is flawed.

Instead of absorbing meaning from their studies, Arai has observed children behaving more like her Todai robot. They ingest facts and spit them back out, without comprehension. The problem is, Todai and other forms of AI will inevitably surpass human memory and cognition at some point, research has suggested. The human brain can never compete with the rote fact-checking power of a computer.

Vulnerabilities to Artificial Intelligence

The tech world hopes that artificial intelligence (AI) will make our lives easier, but are they paying enough attention to its inherent cybersecurity vulnerabilities?

Christopher Zheng is an intern in the Digital and Cyberspace Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently fought over whether artificial intelligence (AI) posed an existential threat to humanity. Musk made the case AI machines could eventually become self-aware and dispose of their human masters, like in the movie Ex Machina, whereas Zuckerberg argued humanity had nothing to fear. It would seem that most of the tech world sides with Zuckerberg given that companies are fast AI applying to fields as diverse as criminal justice and healthcare. With the massive amounts of sensitive data being used by AI to determine the course of individuals’ lives, how vulnerable are AI machines to hackers? There are two ways a malicious actor could own an AI system.

First, machine learning (ML) algorithms—the tools that allow AI to exhibit intelligent behavior—need data to function properly and accurately. While it is possible to make better predictions without ample data, ML algorithms are more accurate with more data. Thus, the primary method for compromising AI so far has been through data manipulation. If data manipulation goes undetected, any organization could struggle to recover the correct data that feeds its AI system, potentially having potentially disastrous consequences in healthcare or finance sectors. In its annual enumeration of threats to the United States, the U.S. intelligence community has highlighted data manipulation as one of its most pressing concerns since 2015.

Options for U.S. National Guard Defense of Cyberspace

Jeffrey Alston is a member of the United States Army National Guard and a graduate of the United States Army War College. He can be found on Twitter @jeffreymalston. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

National Security Situation: The United States has not organized its battlespace to defend against cyberattacks. Cyberattacks are growing in scale and scope and threaten surprise and loss of initiative at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. Shortfalls in the nation’s cybersecurity workforce and lack of division of labor amongst defenders exacerbates these shortfalls.

Author and / or Article Point of View: This paper is written from a perspective of a U.S. Army field grade officer with maneuver battalion command experience who is a senior service college graduate. The officer has also been a practitioner of delivery of Information Technology (IT) services and cybersecurity for his organization for over 15 years and in the IT industry for nearly 20 years.