7 December 2017

Andaman and Nicobar: Vital Islands, Vanishing Tribes

By Sudha Ramachandran

India’s plans for “development” on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are threatening the survival of the archipelago’s already endangered indigenous populations. One of the projects that has been approved for implementation in the archipelago is a railway line linking Port Blair, the capital of the island chain, with Diglipur, the largest town on North Andaman Island. The 240-kilometer-long railway line will cut through a protected forest reserve where the native Jarawa live. This would increase the exposure of the Jarawa to outsiders – mainly non-tribal settlers and tourists – and impact their culture, health, and way of life, even their survival as a group.

Digital China: Powering the economy to global competitiveness

By Jonathan Woetzel, Jeongmin Seong, Kevin Wei Wang, James Manyika, Michael Chui, and Wendy Wong

China, already a global force in digital technologies, is set to experience huge shifts in revenue and profits as businesses digitize, boosting the economy’s international competitiveness. China has become a force to be reckoned with in digital technologies at home and around the world. As a major worldwide investor in digital technologies and one of the world’s leading adopters of the technologies, it is already shaping the global digital landscape and supporting and inspiring entrepreneurship far beyond its own borders. 

New Geopolitics in the Middle East?

By Joshua Krasna

The possible creation of a new geopolitical reality in the Middle East may have snuck under the radar this holiday weekend. The continuing spectacle of the investigations into Russia’s possible involvement in the 2016 Election and the continued naming and shaming of corporate leaders and politicians involved in sexual harassment (as well as Thanksgiving), may have overshadowed the summit in Sochi between the Presidents of Russia, Turkey, and Iran, shortly after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited President Putin in the same city (and thanked him for “saving Syria”).

What is Sufism?

Mubaraz Ahmed

A Pakistani devotee dances at the shrine of a Sufi saint at an annual festival in Lahore, 2014. Sufism may be best described as Islamic mysticism or asceticism, which through belief and practice helps Muslims attain nearness to Allah by way of direct personal experience of God. While there are other suggested origins of the term Sufi, the word is largely believed to stem from the Arabic word suf, which refers to the wool that was traditionally worn by mystics and ascetics.Belief in pursuing a path that leads to closeness with God, ultimately through encountering the divine in the hereafter, is a fundamental component of Islamic belief. However, in Sufi thought this proximity can be realised in this life.

OPEC: Oil Production Deal Still Has Gas in the Tank, For Now

Major oil producers have seen enough success to stick with their current strategy. Where previous meetings of OPEC and non-OPEC nations were surrounded by uncertainty, all signs suggested that the recent meeting in Vienna would lead to an extension of the current deal cutting oil production. That extension would leave two major questions: How long would the extension run and would an exit strategy be put in place. On Nov. 30, OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to extend the deal until the end of 2018, with a review of the duration scheduled for June. The deal will continue, but the strategy for how and when it will end remains murky.

The Story of How South Africa Voluntarily Gave Up Its Nuclear Weapons

Robert Farley
Source Link

The Republic of South Africa is the only country in the world to build a nuclear weapons program, then unbuild that program after domestic and international conditions changed. Why did South Africa decide to build nukes, how did it build them and why did it decide to give them up? The answers are largely idiosyncratic, although they may hold some lessons for the future of nuclear weapons development on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere.

Origins of Program


A new Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report says that ISIS and Israel are temporary allies against Iran.A new report suggests that in the area of countering Iran’s presence in Syria, ISIS and Israel’s interests may converge, which in a way makes them allies. Despite suggesting no formal alliance between ISIS and Israel, an IDF affiliated think tank Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports that interests of both ISIS and Israel align, making them allies against Iran.

What We Really Know About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons

By Siegfried S. Hecker

In January 2004, the director of North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center handed me a sealed glass jar with plutonium metal inside in an effort to convince me that his country had a nuclear deterrent. To make the same point last week, Pyongyang lofted a missile 2,800 miles into space and declared it had a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach all of the United States. Has the country’s nuclear program really come that far? As global anxiety over North Korea grows and the war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un escalates, it is more important than ever to be precise about what we know, and what we don’t, about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and delivery systems. In 2004, nothing I saw on my visit persuaded me that Pyongyang could build a bomb and deliver it. But more recent visits, along with several kinds of open-source analysis, leave little doubt of North Korea’s impressive progress in producing bomb fuel, building powerful nuclear devices, and test-launching a wide variety of missiles—and its determined efforts to integrate all three into a nuclear-tipped missile.

Go After North Korea’s Money!

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

The news last week from the Korean Peninsula about yet another ballistic missile launch was déjà vu all over again. This one had an estimated range of 8,100 miles — long enough to hit Washington, D.C., or anywhere else in the continental United States. President Trump responded with angry tweets, but Kim Jong-un has good reason to be cocky. The strongman knows all too well that a military response is highly unlikely. There are some 8,000 North Korean cannons and rocket launchers aimed at Seoul, in effect holding the approximately 10 million inhabitants of that city hostage. All sides realize that the human and economic costs of another Korean war are simply unfathomable.

Redouble Our Whole Of Government Efforts To Fix Perfect Storm Of Strategy Goobledygook!


Mark Cancian is a former Office of Management and Budget official. Unlike many of that ilk, he sometimes exhibits the ability to write a sentence in clear and simple English. As he and his son, Matthew, looked out across the national security landscape, they saw it pocked with large lumps of nearly meaningless verbiage. In advance of the release of the Trump Administration’s first National Security Strategy, they penned an article modestly titled: It’s Time to Retire These Meaningless Policy Phrases. We like our headline much more, but you get the point. Perhaps this will lead to an exit strategy for this wicked problem. Read on! The Editor.

The Surveillance Operative Lurking In The Living Room

The holiday shopping season is here once again. And this year, surveillance and espionage products have made it to the top of a surprising number of wish lists in the guise of digital home assistants. The devices already have brought microphones into as many rooms of our houses as we're willing to allow. Now, many of them come equipped with cameras as well. Despite concerns about the threat to privacy that earlier generations of the devices have posed - one product from Amazon's Alexa line carried the unfortunate name of Dox - enhanced video capability appears to be the next big thing in digital home assistants.

North Korea’s Military Capabilities, In Review



The United States and its Asian allies regard North Korea as a grave security threat. It has one of the world’s largest conventional military forces, which, combined with its escalating missile and nuclear tests and aggressive rhetoric, has aroused concern worldwide. But world powers have been ineffective in slowing its path to acquire nuclear weapons. The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, sees the nuclear program as the means to sustain his regime. While it remains among the poorest countries in the world, North Korea spends nearly a quarter of its GDP on its military, according to U.S. State Department estimates. Its brinkmanship will continue to test regional and international partnerships aimed at preserving stability and security.

What are North Korea’s nuclear capabilities? 

Mind the Millennial Training Gap

By Margaret S. Marangione

As the need for new analysts continues to grow, the intelligence community is looking to add millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. work force. These young people—born between about 1980 and 2000—bring a new perspective, but teaching them the necessary skills for analysis must be done differently than it was in even the recent past. Their attitudes and thought processes are vastly different from their predecessors, requiring a new approach to intelligence training and education to make the best use of their abundant skills.

Use What’s Known to Get to the Unknowns


The U.S. intelligence community has long considered its mission as the gatherer of secrets. But sometimes insights are hiding in plain sight among tweets, blog posts, online videos, newspaper articles, academic journals and public records. Leveraging such open source information can greatly enhance our understanding of the world and critical events with national security implications. The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey spoke with Jason Matheny, the director of Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the U.S. intelligence community’s over-the-horizon research and development wing, about the value the intelligence community places on open source data.

Securing Cyber in the Sky Layered cybersecurity needed to protect aviation ecosystem

When the WannaCry ransomware warning popped up on the arrival-and-departure signs of Germany's national rail system, experts in aviation security took notice. While the now-infamous attack did not affect travel, it did show how easily malicious code can infiltrate mass transit systems. And with thousands of attacks on aviation systems every month, Raytheon, a company with expertise in both cybersecurity and air traffic management, is taking steps to mitigate cyber attacks in the skies.

As AI and Cyber Race Ahead, the State Department Is Falling Behind


There has been considerable interest in the direction of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s ongoing “reimagining” of the State Department, but for all the conversations about the future of American diplomacy, what has been underaddressed is how our oldest Cabinet agency is preparing to deal with the new, but foreseeable, diplomatic challenges presented by emerging technology.


By Dave “Sugar” Lyle

When you are talking about the command and control of forces that could potentially destroy human society as we know it, you owe it to the rest of humanity to be very precise with your terms and concepts – matters of such extreme importance require the greatest degree of conceptual due diligence that we can collectively muster. But the reality is that much of the debate over future force structure, command and control, and strategy writ large is littered with unexplored assumptions and muddled thinking, often cloaked in buzzwords that members of an organization become obligated to use once their leadership has adopted and promulgated them as guidance. We will always need “bumper stickers” to spread new ideas, but as we do that, we must be very careful which ones we use, and be very aware of their inherent limitations, before they are used to justify dangerous courses of action built on conceptual foundations of sand.

Rethinking Sun Tzu

By John F. Sullivan

The author James Clavell once wrote that if he were ever put in charge of the U.S. military, he would require all generals to take an annual written and oral exam covering the tenets of Sun Tzu—with those scoring below 95 percent being summarily dismissed.[1] Predictably, the proposal never gained much traction within the Pentagon, but the hypothetical exam raises an interesting question. Would we even be able to agree on a common, testable understanding of the principles inherent in The Art of War? The number of prominent Western military strategists who consistently attribute to Sun Tzu phrases never a part of his work suggests the Chinese sage suffers the same fate as his Prussian counterpart.[2] That is, he is the author of a book “well-known but little read.”[3] As a result, we too readily ascribe to Sun Tzu contemporary views bearing little resemblance to the cultural and historic milieu that ultimately grounds the text. In short, we stray too far from the original document we are attempting to interpret for a modern audience.

The F-35 Can Now Fight a Ground War

Dave Majumdar

The United States Air Force is adding the ability to attack moving targets to its new Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter with the addition of the 500lbs Raytheon GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II laser-guided bomb. "Fielding the GBU-49 for use on the F-35A is a key milestone in delivering combat capability to the warfighter," Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, director of the Air Force F-35 Integration Office, said in a statement. 

The U.S. Army Might Just Have a 'Secret Weapon' to Win the Next Big War

Kris Osborn
Source Link

Rapid access to historical databases and sensor information, made available by AI-driven computer automation such as that used by IBM’s Watson, allows commanders to quickly identify and anticipate mechanical failures, equipment functionality and service life details. As a result, wireless connectivity and more AI-driven conditioned-based maintenance expedites analysis and allows for near real-time decision-making, Army developers explained. Army weapons developers recently completed a "proof-of-principle" exercise with Stryker vehicles using wireless devices, faster computer processing speed, cloud technology and artificial intelligence to expedite vehicle health monitoring and anticipate future needs for the platform.