30 September 2017

To ‘Act East’, Act in the North East India First!

By Col Anil Athale

As China rises and acts aggressively on our Northern borders laying claim to the whole of state of Arunachal Pradesh, establishing contact and strengthening our ancient ties with South East Asia is a strategic necessity. South East Asia is China’s soft underbelly. Our North East is a bridge to South East Asia to further our economic, cultural and strategic ties with that region. However despite all this obvious logic, we have been generous with words and short on action.

Special Operations and Intelligence Agencies: India’s Incapability

By Air Marshal Dhiraj Kukreja

Wikipedia defines Special Operations as “military operations that are ‘special’ or unconventional and carried out by dedicated special-force units using unconventional methods and resources. Special operations may be performed independently of, or in conjunction with, conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does not exist or might adversely affect the overall strategic outcome. Special operations are usually conducted in a low-profile manner that aims to achieve the advantages of speed, surprise, and violence of action against an unsuspecting target. Special operations are typically carried out with limited numbers of highly trained personnel that are adaptable, self-reliant and able to operate in all environments, and able to use unconventional combat skills and equipment. Special operations are usually implemented through specific, tailored intelligence.”

The Issue of Rohingyas

By Prakash Nanda
The opposition parties and the habitual critics of the present dispensation have now made the presence of about 40000 Rohingyas in India a political issue. With the usual and unthinking support of the human rights activists and the National Human rights Commission, the issue has now become communal.

In fact, now there are demands that seem to suggest that legal status have to be accorded to these Rohingyas of Myanmar as they happen to be Muslims! In other words, there is now the wider realisation among the NDA government’s critics that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s thesis is right that minorities in general and Muslims in particular have got the “first rights” over India’s resources that include land and jobs.

The Islamic State's Support Base in Pakistan Continues to Grow

Last week, an Islamic State (IS) flag was seen hoisted above one of Islamabad’s main highways. The flag, which sprung the capital’s law enforcement agencies into action, bore the message “The caliphate is coming.” While the capital police have not been able been able to find the people behind the incident, the hoisting of the flag in Pakistan’s capital offers a chilling reminder that support for militant groups such as IS is growing in Pakistan.

China's Presence in Djibouti is Not a National Security Threat—Yet

Erica S. Downs Jeff Becker

On September 22, Chinese troops staged their first live-fire exercises at China’s first overseas military base, which opened in Djibouti on August 1. Ever since Beijing publicly acknowledged in November 2015 that China was building a logistical support facility in Djibouti, the home of the only permanent U.S. military installation in Africa, much ink has been spilt detailing China’s growing involvement in the Horn of Africa nation. 

Why China Will Never Crackdown on North Korea

This has been a potentially momentous week in U.S.-China relations, particularly as they relate to the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

In his address before the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump used unusually direct and powerful language in warning Pyongyang that it would be “completely destroyed” if it precipitates a conflict with the United States or its allies.

How America Is Losing the Battle for the South China Sea

Bill Bray

What a difference a year makes. In late summer 2016, there was some hope the July 2016 UN Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in favor of the Philippine interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal would curtail Beijing’s subsequent activity in the South China Sea (despite China’s refusal to even participate in the arbitration case or recognize the court’s jurisdiction, let alone accept the ruling).

No, North Korea Isn't Dependent on Russia and China For Its Rocket Fuel

By Ankit Panda

North Korea is clearly getting quite good at long-range missile engineering. It’s Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 missiles have made that clear this year with their multiple successful flight tests, demonstrating what is by far the best-performing family of missiles North Korea has ever flight-tested.

Despite this, several observers refuse to believe that North Korea could have achieved this level of performance primarily through indigenous research-and-development. In August, we saw reports that alleged that the RD-250-variant engine that sits at the heart of both missiles’ first stage was likely stolen or imported illicitly from the former Soviet Union.

Trump's Expanded Drone Wars

Daniel R. DePetris

Throughout U.S. history, presidents have been known to blame their predecessors if things in the country aren’t going particularly well. To explain away America’s awful economic outlook in 2009 and the slow economic recovery of 2010 and 2011, Barack Obama pointed to George W. Bush as the main culprit for the fiscal disaster. He told Americans repeatedly in his first year that he “inherited” the worst economic recession since the Great Depression—true enough, but a statement that still seemed to many people in America’s middle and working classes as a passing of the buck.

The Turkish Military Base in Doha

By Md. Muddassir Quamar

Turkey’s reaction to the rift among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries—the June 5, 2017 embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt against Qatar for its alleged support to terrorism—has been significant. Within two days of the Saudi-led quartet announcing the severing of ties with Qatar, Turkey’s parliament approved a bill for deploying troops in the Turkish military base at Doha. The bill had been pending for approval since early May 2017 and its approval was hastened by the surprise developments in the Gulf. 

As the War of Words With North Korea Escalates, So Does the Risk of Real War

In a brief news conference in New York on Sept. 25, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong said that U.S. President Donald Trump's recent statements to the U.N. General Assembly were tantamount to a declaration of war. Therefore, he argued, Pyongyang has a right to self-defense under the U.N. charter and would be justified if it were to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers, even outside North Korean territory.

Will artificially intelligent weapons kill the laws of war?

Herbert Lin

On September 1, Vladimir Putin spoke with Russian students about science in an open lesson, saying that “the future belongs to artificial intelligence” and whoever masters it first will rule the world. “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” he added. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Small Satellites, Big Missions The Implications of the Growing Small Satellite Market for Launch and Key Applications

On June 21, 2017, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a two-panel event on opportunities emerging from new space technologies, particularly small-scale satellites. Panelists discussed the implications of new small satellite technology and small satellite market dynamics, not only for the government space sector, but also for private-sector users of satellite technology and the growing cohort of commercial space systems suppliers. That small satellites will continue to grow—in use, market share, capability, and overall importance—is now widely accepted. Appreciation for the direction, pace, and implications of this growth, however, remains limited. The June CSIS event and the report that follows represent an effort to understand and describe the shape and consequences of the growth ahead. For a complete record of the session, please access the full video file at https://www.csis.org/events/small-satellites-big-missions.

Weapons in Space: Conventional War in the Cosmos?

By Allyson Rimmer

Outer space has been called the last frontier, but could it become the battleground of the future? Warfare in space seems difficult to imagine outside works of science fiction, but the concept and advantages of weapons in space have been under serious deliberation by global powers in the recent past. Though the international community in years past has made great strides in addressing and eliminating the nuclear threat emanating from outer space, additional threats have yet to be addressed. As it stands now there exists an international consensus banning the placement of strategic Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in outer space and on celestial bodies. 

Beyond the Battlefield: Towards a Better Assessment of the Human Cost of Armed Conflict

By Erik Alda and Claire Mc Evoy for Small Arms Survey

For Erik Alda and Claire McEvoy, prevailing methods for measuring conflict deaths are inadequate. They believe that the current understanding of conflict related deaths is too narrow and that mortality measurement methods must change to address this problem, particularly when it comes to deaths among forcibly displaced populations. As a result, they here examine 1) opportunities provided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16.1 to broaden the scope of recorded conflict deaths; and 2) the importance of developing a better understanding of the relationship between direct and indirect conflict deaths.