4 October 2017

India is right in its cautious pragmatism on Afghanistan

By Chayanika Saxena

US President Donald Trump unveiled his much-touted Afghan policy on 21 August 2017. Trump announced to adopt a condition-based policy instead of a calendar-driven agenda, a moderate troop surge (4,000 soldiers), putting Pakistan on the spot for hosting the Taliban and urging India to play a larger economic role in conflict stabilization. New Delhi has welcomed Trump’s Afghan policy with cautious optimism as it does not address all of India’s concerns. 

Reflections on Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

GEN Petraeus: When we were getting ready for what became the invasion of Iraq, the prevailing wisdom was that we were going to have a long, hard fight to Baghdad, and it was really going to be hard to take Baghdad. The road to deployment, which was a very compressed road for the 101st Airborne Division, started with a seminar on military operations in urban terrain, because that was viewed as the decisive event in the takedown of the regime in Iraq—that and finding and destroying the weapons of mass destruction.

Trump Goes to Asia: What's on the Line?

By Ankit Panda

The White House has confirmed that U.S. President Donald Trump is set to make his third large presidential foreign trip. This time, he will travel to Asia for the usual round of November summits, in addition to more than a few tense bilateral meetings with allied leaders who have grown increasingly concerned about U.S. policy towards the Korean peninsula.

China’s First 5th Generation Fighter Jet Is Operational

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has officially commissioned its first fifth-generation fighter aircraft into service, Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said during a press conference on September 28.

U.S. offensive cyber operations against North Korean military intelligence are significant.

By Ankit Panda

The Washington Post broke an important story on Saturday: U.S. Cyber Command has been engaged in offensive cyber operations against North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), the country’s military espionage arm. The action was authorized by U.S. President Donald Trump shortly after North Korea’s first ballistic missile launches of the year in February and March, following the conclusion of the administration’s policy review on North Korea. The Post‘s account outlines the scope of the operation:

How America Is Losing the Battle for the South China Sea

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). In fact, some optimists, like Lynn Kuok from the National University of Singapore, have pointed to small developments—such as China this year permitting Filipino and Vietnamese fishing around Scarborough Shoal for the first time since 2012—as encouraging signs that the Hague’s ruling is having a positive effect. But most observers see it much differently, and developments this past summer seem to support a much more pessimistic forecast.

Former NATO military chief: there’s a 10% chance of nuclear war with North Korea

by Yochi Dreazen

Retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis spent 37 years in the military, including four years as the supreme allied commander of NATO. Hillary Clinton vetted him as a possible running mate. President-elect Donald Trump considered naming him secretary of state. He is a serious man, and about as far from an armchair pundit as it’s possible to be.

The Need For Missile Defense

by Victor Davis Hanson

America’s great advantage when it entered world affairs after the Civil War was that its distance from Europe and Asia ensured that it was virtually immune from large sea-borne invasions.

The Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans proved far better barriers than even the forests and mountain ranges of Europe. At twenty-eight years old, Abraham Lincoln succinctly summed up America’s natural invincibility in his famous Lyceum Address of January 27, 1838: “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.”

How America and North Korea Could Start a Nuclear War

Doug Bandow

The Cold War was marked by hysteria over the potential for nuclear conflict. School kids practiced getting under their desks and families built bomb shelters in case the missiles fell. Although there were moments of acute danger, most notably the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world seemed to enter a new age when the Soviet Union collapsed. Small wars continued, but the famed nuclear doomsday clock finally moved backwards.

4 Ways out of the Korean Crisis

Ken Burns’ exceptional documentary on the Vietnam War reminds us once again that the conduct of U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific region has been less than flawless. The millions of victims of that needless conflict, including fifty-eight thousand American servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice, should never be forgotten. As Ambassador Don Gregg recently wrote in a letter to the New York Times, the Burns documentary and the lessons of Vietnam have much to teach about avoiding “misguided decisions,” in the current Korean nuclear crisis.

2019 Could Be a Very Bad Year for Ukraine

Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Yes, 2019 matters ...

For several years, Russia has been warning—consistently and clearly—that it tends to stop using Ukraine as a transit country for sending its energy to Western markets. If this happens, a major hole will open in the Ukrainian economy which Europe and the United States do not appear to be prepared to fill.

Why??? Hewlett Packard let Russia scrutinize cyberdefense software system used by Pentagon

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Hewlett Packard Enterprise allowed a Russian defense agency to review the inner workings of cyber defense software used by the Pentagon to guard its computer networks, according to Russian regulatory records and interviews with people with direct knowledge of the issue.

The HPE system, called ArcSight, serves as a cybersecurity nerve center for much of the U.S. military, alerting analysts when it detects that computer systems may have come under attack. ArcSight is also widely used in the private sector.

Make No Mistake, Cyber War Is A Real And Present Threat

Alain Frachon

PARIS — Imagine if a foreign entity neutralized the public health system in the Paris region. Or if it went on to attack the electric grid, interfering with the meteorological services, manipulating French President Emmanuel Macron's emails and targeting the military and police communication systems. All from a computer keyboard. Nobody would get killed, at least not directly. No building destroyed. And yet, most commentators, even the most argumentative, would agree: This is an act of war.

Props: Small Planes for Small Wars

War is expensive, especially when using high-end fourth and fifth generation aircraft designed for World War III to bomb handfuls of sandal wearing men armed with rusty AK-47s. While the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DOD) enjoyed the extravagance of seemingly bottomless coffers during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that time has ended. The DOD cannot afford to employ its most advanced high-end aircraft in support of every military operation. The U.S. military is primarily engaged in small-scale overseas contingency operations, characterized by tight budgets and strict force caps. These operations largely involve small teams of special operations forces (SOF) and regionally aligned ground forces deployed to advise and assist U.S. allied and partner-nation forces in irregular warfare (IW), specifically counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense. The deployment of high-end jet aircraft in support of these forces is not only impractical due to robust support requirements but also fiscally irresponsible due to astronomical acquisition and operating costs. Instead, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) requires an inexpensive, light air support (LAS) aircraft as a practical and cost-effective means of providing air support for IW in low air threat environments.1

US, Philippines Launch New Military Exercise

By Prashanth Parameswaran

On October 2, the United States and the Philippines officially began the launch of a newly named bilateral exercise. The holding of the fresh drills speaks to the steps both sides are continuing to take to adapt to the changing context of the treaty alliance under the reign of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.