31 January 2018

2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report

This is from ORF website : http://www.orfonline.org/orf-ranked-best-indian-think-tank-asian-region/

Observer Research Foundation (ORF) once again led the Indian think tanks in Asia in the latest Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, released globally today, retaining the leadership in Indian think tanks.

ORF also became the largest ranked institution from Asia with 25 appearances in various categories in the 2017 Index, prepared by the Pennsylvania University.

In the China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea region, ORF has been ranked 5th, ahead of Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (7th), Centre for Civil Society (14th), Delhi Policy Group (16th), Centre for Policy Research (18th), Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations (21st) and Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (26th).

In this category, Centre for Study Science, Technology and Policy came 29th, Development Alternatives 30th, Energy and Resources Institute 33rd, Centre for Land Warfare Studies 37th and the Vivekananda Foundation 41st, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies 46th, Institute of Economic Growth 48th, Indian Council of World Affairs 50th, United Service Institution of India 55th, Hindu Centre for Politics 58th and Council on Energy, Environment and Water 62nd.

Korea Development Institute also retained its position as the number one in this category, while Japan Institute of International Affairs was once again second.

ORF also jumped 16 points in the world ranking list as it finished 114 in the latest index, as against 130 last year. In the ‘Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)’ too, ORF finished 35th. IDSA came 28th. Brookings India was 119th, Gateway 126th and USI 132nd.

Brookings Institution, USA, continued to be world number one while the French Institute of International Relations dethroned Chatham House, UK, from the second rank. Carnegie Endowment, USA, retained the third position.

In the world’s ‘Top Defence and National Security’ category, IDSA was ranked 37th while ORF came 46th, ahead of Centre for Land Warfare Studies (67th) and the USI (104th).

In the ‘Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks’, ORF came 120th, the fifth highest ranked in India. ICRIER came 68th, Institute of Economic Growth 106th, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research 112nd and National Council of Applied Economic Research 119th.

In the ‘Top Education Policy Think Tanks’, ORF came 59th, and the only Indian think tank in the list.

In the ‘Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks’, ORF has been ranked 34th, well ahead of Centre for Science and Environment 38th and Council on Energy, Environment and Water 40th.

ORF also came as the top Indian think tank in the ‘Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks’, coming at 37th, much ahead of IPCS (80th), Delhi Policy Group (105), Gateway House (111), Indian Council of World Affairs (115) and the IDSA (117).

In the ‘Top Domestic Health Policy Think Tanks’, Institute of Economic Growth was the topmost in India (30) while ORF was ranked 53rd worldwide.

ORF was ranked the best Indian think tank in ‘Best Managed Think Tanks’ with a worldwide rank of 51 while the IDSA came second with 71 rank and third Development Alternatives with 74 ranking.

In the ‘Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by a Think Tank’, ORF was ranked second worldwide, behind Resources for Future, USA.

ORF, which organises Raisina Dialogue and CyFy, was the topmost in India in the Best Think Tank Conference category, with a worldwide ranking of 11. It also came on top in India in the Best Use of Social Networks as well as the top think tank to watch in 2018.

ORF was also the best think tank in ‘Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program’. It again topped the category of Indian ‘Think Tanks with the Best Use of the Internet’ as well as the ‘Best Use of Media (Print)’ and ‘Think Tanks with the Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals’.

Global Go To Think Tank Index Report 2017

Think tanks are public policy research, analysis, and engagement organizations. They are organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues that enable policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues. Think tanks may be affiliated with political parties, governments, interest groups, or private corporations or constituted as independent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). These institutions often act as a bridge between the academic and policymaking communities, serving the public interest as an independent voice that translates applied and basic research into a language and form that is understandable, reliable, and accessible for policymakers and the public.

Think tanks devote a substantial portion of their financial and human resources to commissioning and publishing research and policy analysis in the social sciences: political science, economics, public administration, and international affairs. The major outputs of these organizations are books, monographs, reports, policy briefs, blogs, conferences, seminars, web-based reports and commentary, formal briefings and informal discussions with policymakers, government officials, and key stakeholders.

University of Pennsylvania under its Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) every year publishes Global Go To Think Tank Index Report in the month of January.
The Global Go To Think Tank Index is the result of an international survey of over 1,950 scholars, public and private donors, policy makers, and journalists who helped rank more than 6,500 think tanks using a set of 18 criteria developed by the TTCSP.

While think tanks may perform many roles in their host societies, not all think tanks do the same things to the same extent. Over the last 85 years, several distinctive organizational forms of think tanks have come into being that differ substantially in terms of their operating styles, their patterns of recruitment, their aspirations to academic standards of objectivity and completeness in research and their engagement of policy makers, the press and the public. Despite these differences, most think tanks tend to fall into SOME broad categories as per TTCSP.

Today on January 30th, 2018, 160 organizations worldwide in over 100 cities hosted and Why Think Tanks Matter Events for release of the report.

In Delhi the event was held at ORF. There was a panel discussion on “Managing a World in Flux: Policy, Politics and Think Tanks” with the following panelists: 
   Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation (Chair)
   Dr. Shamika Ravi, Director of Research, Brookings India
   Mr. Alok Bansal, Director, India Foundation

The session was designed to explore the relevance of think tanks in managing disruptions in today`s world order. There was a lively discussion.

The organisers do give their criterion of nominations and assessment tools, there is lot of scope of subjectivity while giving rankingto the Think Tanks globally.People talk of lobbying, Think Tanks figuring in the list having hardly anything to show off etc. Be that what may, it does give a fair indication of state of affairs of the Think Tanks.

The results were announced in various categories. However, they are still not available in the net. What I could make out eas that in India ranking in one of the first categories listed are : IDSA(39), Centre of Civil Society, ICRIA(76), TERI(107), ORF(114), DPG(139), CLAWS(166). Rankings vary in different categories.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that CLAWS figures in almost every list concerning Indian Think Thanks. My heartiest congratulations to Lt Gen Balraj Nagal and his team at CLAWS for this achievement. With a tongue in check may I suggest the NMF, CAPS. CENJOWS to pull up their socks!

I have very strong views on Think Tanks which I have stated off and on in my e mails while in service. May be I shall share one of those. Nothing much has changed in Indian scenario.

Watch this space for that.

Six Cyber Threats to Really Worry About in 2018

By Martin Giles

Hackers are constantly finding new targets and refining the tools they use to break through cyberdefenses. The following are some significant threats to look out for this year. The cyberattack on the Equifax credit reporting agency in 2017, which led to the theft of Social Security numbers, birth dates, and other data on almost half the U.S. population, was a stark reminder that hackers are thinking big when it comes to targets. Other companies that hold lots of sensitive information will be in their sights in 2018. Marc Goodman, a security expert and the author of Future Crimes, thinks data brokers who hold information about things such as people’s personal Web browsing habits will be especially popular targets. “These companies are unregulated, and when one leaks, all hell will break loose,” he says.

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2018 From North Korea to Venezuela, here are the conflicts to watch in 2018.


It’s not all about Donald Trump.

That’s a statement more easily written than believed, given the U.S. president’s erratic comportment on the world stage — his tweets and taunts, his cavalier disregard of international accords, his readiness to undercut his own diplomats, his odd choice of foes, and his even odder choice of friends. And yet, a more inward-looking United States and a greater international diffusion of power, increasingly militarized foreign policy, and shrinking space for multilateralism and diplomacy are features of the international order that predate the current occupant of the White House and look set to outlast him.

What’s In Store For The Cyber Threat Landscape In 2018 — Be Afraid…..Be Very Afraid; What Are The Potential Sick & Twisted, Dangerous Cyber Attacks We Might See In 2018

Is 2018 the year that America suffers the devastating cyber attack that many experts have been warning about for the past decade? Maybe…..but, let’s hope not. Like economists predicting the next recession, cyber security and national security experts have been warning that America is ripe for a Cyber Pearl Harbor…that has yet to manifest itself. Are we that vulnerable? I am afraid so. But, this kind of devastating attack has not materialized, likely for a number of reasons; and, hopefully, we’ll successfully avoid that kind of event in 2018. Outside of a Black Swan cyber attack, what does the cyber threat landscape in 2018 look like. We can only make an educated guess of course; but, there are some known knowns about where the cyber threat appears to be maturing and, becoming more worrisome.

Face-off between Asia's nuclear giants raises new fears

By Frank O'Donnell

China and India have a long history of border disputes, most of them reasonably managed until last year’s standoff over Chinese road construction in the disputed territory of Doklam, which prompted an Indian military response.

Both states surprisingly asserted readiness for open conflict, and Beijing told Western ambassadors that its patience "was not indefinite” in refraining

India has forgotten its own realist strategic thought

India’s tradition of realist strategic thought is probably the oldest in the world. Yet India has forgotten its own realist strategic thought, as propounded before Christ by the strategist Kautilya (also known as Chanakya). So, despite growing realism in foreign policy, quixotic traditions from the Nehruvian era still persist to this day. 

Afghanistan On A Slow Fuse – Analysis

The attack by the Taliban gunmen at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul last weekend was a grim reminder of the deteriorating security environment in Afghanistan. The siege at the hotel lasted more than 12 hours and claimed 22 victims, including 14 foreigners, before the gunmen were neutralised.

Days earlier, in an interview with CBS, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had said that Afghanistan is “under siege”, with “21 international terrorist groups operating in this country” and “factories producing suicide bombers”. He acknowledged that without U.S.

Democracy in Peril: Ten Elections to Watch in 2018

By Timothy D. Sisk

Democracy’s resilience into the 21st century is rightly questioned. In 2017, a host of countries worldwide saw threats to civil and political liberties, popular participation, and fundamental human rights. Corruption and state capture by predatory political elites led the news in old and new democracies alike. Verbal and physical attacks on civil society, the press, and minorities were reported in virtually all world regions. And new virulent, nationalist ideologies threaten human rights and the carefully crafted post-World War II international liberal order.

Terabit Army: China Squares up on the Battlefield of Information


The People’s Republic of China has not fought a war since 1979, but the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been a very close student of other peoples’ wars. They have carefully analyzed foreign, especially American, conflicts of the past several decades, and they have assessed the impact of information and communications technologies on overall national capabilities and on war-making. As a result, the Chinese have concluded that future wars—and international competition writ large–will turn on the ability to establish “information

PLA publishes new military training outline, highlights combat

BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has recently published a Central Military Commission-approved outline for military training.

Centering on building a strong army in the new era and building it into a world-class force, the outline focuses on the PLA's combat capability, highlighting military training under combat conditions and joint training.

The Shifting Payment System For Global Oil

by Dan Steinbock

Eroding Petrodollar Versus Rising Petroyuan

In the late 20th century, US petrodollar dominated the world economy. In the 21st century, we are witnessing the rise of the Chinese petroyuan. The former grew on the back of postwar growth in the advanced economies; the latter is fueled by industrialization in emerging and developed economies.

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Hurt China in its soft under-belly

Indian foreign and strategic policies suffer from perennial weaknesses. One of them is the Indian government’s/MEA’s lack of what the great geopolitical theorist, Sir Halford Mackinder, called “the map reading habit of mind”. That’s why India’s foreign policy is usually bereft of a geopolitical frame and undergirding. Further, even when there is a glimmer of geostrategic understanding visible in a stance, it is voided by the tardiness in following up on policy initiatives.

We can't match Russian Might': West falling behind in new Cold War as tensions rise


Last week saw two unusually sombre warnings. 

The first, from the head of the British Armed Forces Gen Sir Nick Carter, warned that Britain’s defences had fallen dangerously behind military, technological and strategic innovations by Moscow. 

The second, from defence secretary Gavin Williamson, told of Russia’s capacity to “kill

Is Venezuela on the Brink of Economic and Social Collapse?

 By Scott B. MacDonald

Venezuela is totally out of sync with most of Latin America and the Caribbean as it has headed in an increasingly autocratic direction politically, marked by stunningly inept economic mismanagement, reminiscent of Zimbabwe under Mugabe and the Congo under Mobuto. The problem is that as Venezuela sinks deeper into socioeconomic misery, many of its citizens are opting to leave. At the same time, the authoritarian regime continues to function as major conduit for illicit drugs in Latin America and the Caribbean, such is the need for cash among the Chavismo political elite. In a sense, the Venezuelan house is on fire and the neighbors are increasingly nervous of the spread of its problems into the region.

Financing Armed Groups during Ceasefires

By Véronique Dudouet and Janel Galvanek

From what sources do non-state armed groups get funding during ceasefires and peace negotiations? Further, do ceasefires represent a fundraising constraint or an opportunity for such groups? In this article, Véronique Dudouet and Janel Galvanek provide answers by reviewing the cases of ETA in the Basque Country, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, the Karen National Union (KNU) in Myanmar, and more.

While the financing sources of non-state

Welcome to Syria 2.0

by Jonathan Spyer

The idea that Syria's civil war is winding down has been repeated so often in recent months as to become a cliché. It has never been entirely true.

U.S. officials recently confirmed Washington's intention to indefinitely retain effective ownership of around 28 percent of Syrian territory, in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. But those plans are increasingly in conflict with the other major international players in the

Targeting Kurds in Syria: Making Turkey Feel Imperial Again

by Burak Bekdil

The Turkish military's General Staff meet to discuss Operation Olive Branch, on January 21, 2018. 

In Turkey these days, there is every sign of collective hysteria in a once glorious nation that fell from grace, then longed for power and grandeur for nearly a century. Turks are dizzy with joy over their army's incursion into Afrin, a Kurdish enclave in neighboring Syria.

Trump's Solar Tariffs Create Far More Losers Than Winners

by Varun Sivaram

Yesterday, President Trump announced the first sweeping tariffs of his administration, enacting tariffs on solar panels and components (as well as washing machines) from nearly every country in the world. The tariffs, which start at 30 percent, are scheduled to ramp down to 15 percent over four years and then expire.

One might generally chalk up tariffs to

Trump and the Future of US Grand Strategy

By Jack Thompson

According to Jack Thompson, US grand strategy is at a crossroads. Washington may continue to pursue internationalism, as most of the country’s conservative national security establishment would prefer. However, Donald Trump’s election and his embrace of populist conservative nationalism could mean that the US will turn its back on the liberal world order. Either way, suggests Thompson, the debates currently raging within the Trump administration will do much to determine which direction the US will eventually take, with significant consequences for the global order.
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 By Kenan Malik

The sun may have long ago set on the British Empire (or on all but a few tattered shreds of it), but it never seems to set on the debate about the merits of empire. The latest controversy began when the Third World Quarterly, an academic journal known for its radical stance, published a paper by Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University in Oregon, called “The Case for Colonialism.” Fifteen of the thirty-four members on the journal’s editorial board resigned in protest, while a petition, with more than 10,000 signatories, called for the paper to be retracted. It was eventually withdrawn after the editor “received serious and credible threats of personal violence.” 

Then, in November, Nigel Biggar, regius professor of theology at Oxford University, wrote an article in the London Times defending Gilley. Biggar saw Gilley’s “balanced reappraisal of the colonial past” as “courageous,” and called for “us British to moderate our

Opportunities amid Disorder: Europe and the World in 2018

By Jonathan Hackenbroich and Jeremy Shapiro

According to Jonathan Hackenbroich and Jeremy Shapiro, the global economic picture seems set to improve dramatically in 2018. However, they also predict that a good year of growth will not dampen great-power competition or increase security or stability in the Middle East. But that’s not all. Find out here what other key economic, security, technological and regional trends our authors think could define 2018, as well as what opportunities could open up for Europe.

The liberal world order staged something of

DHS Cyber Info Sharing Tool to Get a Reboot This Year


The goal is for organizations to use the tool to automatically block cyber threats.

The Homeland Security Department plans to update its system for automatically sharing cybersecurity threat information with companies, critical infrastructure providers and other federal agencies this coming summer or fall, a top official said Thursday.

CTC Sentinel: January 2018 Issue Now Online

During the course of nine hours in August 2017, a terrorist cell carried out two vehicle-ramming attacks in Catalonia, with the first striking pedestrians on the famous Las Ramblas promenade in the heart of Barcelona. In our cover article, Fernando Reinares and Carola García-Calvo draw on judicial documents and interviews with investigators to provide the inside story of the worst terrorist attack in Spain since the 2004 Madrid bombings. Their account reveals the 10-man cell of ‘homegrown’ radicals, led by an extremist Moroccan cleric in the town of Ripoll, had initially planned to carry out vehicle bomb attacks in Barcelona and possibly Paris, but changed and accelerated their plans after they accidentally blew up their bomb factory where they were manufacturing TATP. While it is still not clear whether the cell had any contact with the Islamic State, the authors reveal that the network behind the November 2015 Paris attacks was also plotting to launch a similar attack in Barcelona that year.

: An Uneasy Unpeace

By Graham Allison

In the cyber arena, the same technologies that are creating unprecedented benefits for billions are also democratizing destruction. Graham Allison reviews ‘The Virtual Weapon and International Order’ by Lucas Kello. 

Begin with a quiz. Which best describes the revolution in connectivity, communication and calculation driven by the internet and networked computers? Is it: (a) the transformative
By Scott Stewart

Iran's Islamic Revolution could play out, in part, online. On Jan. 4, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a report describing the country as a "third-tier cyberthreat." The report's authors note that despite Iran's success with cyberattacks

The Overburdened Infantry Soldier

Since there were first soldiers the weight they have carried has been subject to cyclical variation. The upward trend that saw its zenith during operations in Afghanistan is now subject to a realisation that it is both unsustainable and undesirable.
The Recurring Problem of Overburdened Soldiers

None of this is new, the Athenian General Iphicrates was widely credited with introducing a light force (Peltasts) that enabled them to overcome the much heavier armed and armoured Spartans at the Battle of Lechaeum. Increasing the length of their weapons and reducing the weight of their armour resulted in a force with increased mobility and firepower at the cost of protection. During the Thirty Years War, Gustav Adolphus of Sweden often called the Father of Modern Warfare, favoured the use of combined arms where mobility was emphasised.

30 January 2018

Where will our energy come from in 2030, and how green will it be?

Katherine Hamilton
Source Link

How can the energy industry adapt to meet the needs of a growing population while also supporting low-carbon growth? Katherine Hamilton, Director of the Project for Clean Energy and Innovation, and co-chair of the Global Future Council on the Future of Energy, says that this essential transition will not happen without collaboration between large energy companies, entrepreneurs, the finance sector and consumers.

Why should we be thinking about the future of energy?

Life in 2030: these are the 4 things experts can't predict

Alvin Toffler predicted a future in his 1970 bestseller Future Shock that looks much like today’s reality. He anticipated the rise of the internet, the sharing economy, companies built on “adhocracy” rather than centralized bureaucracy, and the broader social confusions and concerns about technology. He foresaw that the evolving relationship between people and technology would shape how societies and economies develop.

How can the government revive manufacturing?

R. GopalanM.C. Singhi

An increased use of ratings, credit insurance, and reasonable choice by creditor committees in the IBC proceedings for MSMEs are necessary. Photo: Mint

After decelerating for five quarters, the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) recovered to 6.3% in Q2 of 2017-18 on account of a rebound in manufacturing. The projected growth at 6.5% in 2017-18 is premised on high growth in services in the next two quarters, though manufacturing growth may remain subdued. Our assessment also suggests manufacturing growth will remain subdued until 2018-19. Achieving 7.5% plus growth after 2018-19 will require a series of measures for manufacturing, which we outline below.

How India’s New Russian Air Defence System Will Force Adversaries To Change Tactics

by Prakhar Gupta

The deployment of the S-400 systems on India’s borders with China and Pakistan would affect the strategy of both countries against India, forcing them to change tack and serving as a deterrent. 

When a Russian Sukhoi Su-24, an all-weather attack aircraft on a mission in northern Syria, was shot down by a Turkish F-16 in November 2015 for alleged airspace violation, Russia responded by deploying its formidable S-400 Triumf air defence system in the region. The move pushed the Turkish Air Force out of Syrian airspace while forcing the United States (US) to change tack. The same could happen in Asia once the S-400 system takes up duty defending the Indian skies.

What is the S-400?

errorism related violence declines in Balochistan


Despite the long standing discontent between the ethnic Baloch and Pakistan’s federal government due to its oppressive policies, terrorism-related violence has declined in the province over the last seven years. However, experts say that the reasons that destabilised the province still exist. 

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), this year till 21 January, Balochistan recorded 26 fatalities out of which seven were civilians, 14 were Security Force (SF) personnel and five were militants. During the corresponding period in 2017, Balochistan had registered 11 fatalities out of which three were civilians, four were SF personnel and four militants.

The myth of the liberal international order

By Niall Ferguson 

The phrase international order reminds me of the phrase Western civilization. As Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi wittily replied when asked about Western civilization, "It would be a good idea." The notion that international order exists or has ever existed seems highly questionable to me. The notion of a liberal international order is even more questionable because it is neither liberal, nor international, nor very orderly.

It is often claimed by political scientists that the liberal international order came into existence in 1945. The argument goes that American and British statesmen, having learned from the terrible mistakes of the 1930s and 1940s, decided to make the world anew by creating a series of remarkable international institutions: the United Nations, the

Will the Liberal Order Survive? The History of an Idea

By Joseph S. Nye Jr.

During the nineteenth century, the United States played a minor role in the global balance of power. The country did not maintain a large standing army, and as late as the 1870s, the U.S. Navy was smaller than the navy of Chile. Americans had no problems using force to acquire land or resources (as Mexico and the Native American nations could attest), but for the most part, both the U.S. government and the American public opposed significant involvement in international affairs outside the Western Hemisphere

Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It


DOHA, Qatar — For the emir of Qatar, there has been little that money can’t buy.

As a teenager he dreamed of becoming the Boris Becker of the Arab world, so his parents flew the German tennis star to Qatar to give their son lessons. A lifelong sports fanatic, he later bought a French soccer team, Paris Saint-Germain, which last summer paid $263 million for a Brazilian striker — the highest transfer fee in the history of the game.

Preventing a Post-Collapse Crisis in North Korea How to Avoid Famine and Mass Migration

Joonbum Bae and Andrew Natsios

JOONBUM BAE is Visiting Assitant Professor of Political Science at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. ANDREW NATSIOS is an Executive Professor at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service and Director of its Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs.




Pudong is a district of Shanghai, home to the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

The Rise of China is over.

Note, by the way, that in saying the rise of China is over, I am not saying that China is on the verge of a collapse—I am not even certain what a collapse would look like. There are many people outside of China, portentously predicting a collapse, who evidently have in mind



The Chinese State Council Information Office published Friday a white paper titled "China's Arctic Policy," a document detailing Beijing's desire to get involved in opening shipping routes, harvesting resources, and investing in tourism, conservation and scientific exploration in the once–largely restricted 5.5 million square miles north of the Arctic Circle. China said it wished to achieve its goals in cooperation with other involved nations, including Russia, which has largely dominated efforts to traverse the Arctic region.

"On the one hand, melting ice in the Arctic has led to changes in the natural environment, or possibly can result in accelerated global warming, rising sea levels, increased extreme weather events, damaged biodiversity, and other global problems," the white paper read. "On the other, with the ice melted, conditions for the development of the Arctic may be gradually changed, offering opportunities for the commercial use of sea routes and development of resources in the region.

Taliban’s New Strategy: Attack the Cities

by Sami Yousafzai

KABUL—The horror continues: Two recent attacks on foreigners in Afghanistan—one on Sunday targeting the iconic Intercontinental Hotel on a hilltop in Kabul, and one on Wednesday against the offices of the Save the Children charity in Jalalabad—are meant to show that the government here cannot protect its people or those who come to help them.

And that, clearly, is the lesson many people in Kabul are taking away from them in an atmosphere of fear that is fed not only by the calculated violence of the Taliban and the so-called Islamic State, but by kidnapping and other crimes linked to warlords, and a deeply corrupt system of governance.

How a nuclear attack order is carried out now

 By Lisbeth Gronlund

If the president is not at the White House or other location with secure communication, he or she would use the so-called nuclear football to order the use of nuclear weapons. The football, or Presidential Emergency Satchel, is a briefcase containing various items, including a book laying out various attack options, from striking a small number of military targets to launching an all-out attack against Russian nuclear forces, military installations, leadership facilities, military industry, and economic centers. This briefcase is carried by an aide who stays near the president at all times.

Turkey’s attack on Syrian Kurds could overturn the entire region

Gareth Stansfield

In whichever state they live, the Kurds endure a perilous existence. In Iran, the Kurdish people of the west have suffered significant persecution at the hands of the Islamic republic, while in Iraq, the Kurds of the north were confronted with a well-organised military operation. They also faced a diplomatic initiative that illustrated that, even in the fractious world of Middle East politics, Kurdish aspirations can manage to unify Iraq, Iran and Turkey in common opposition, following the independence referendum.

Russia Is Poised to Surprise the US in Battlefield Robotics


How? It's a story of leaders' unusual agreement, a focus on fast-and-cheap production, and a decision to field lethal robots for combat. No one would call Russia’s government and budgetary bureaucracy particularly nimble, nor its defense industry particularly advanced. Certainly, it trails Western economies in such key areas as communication equipment, microelectronics, high-tech control systems, and other key technologies. But in certain aspects of the field of unmanned military systems, Russia may be inching ahead of its competition in designing and testing a wide variety of systems and conceptualizing their future use.

Trump Must Issue Executive Order on EMP Defense

By Henry F. Cooper
On page 12 of his National Security Strategy released on December 19, 2017, President Trump acknowledged most urgent threats to our critical infrastructure, including the electric power grid: “Critical infrastructure keeps our food fresh, our houses warm, our trade flowing, and our citizens productive and safe. The vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructure to cyber, physical, and electromagnetic attacks means that adversaries could disrupt military command and control, banking and financial operations, the electrical grid, and means of communication.” You would think that Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, would at least give a nod to the existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat to all we hold dear, but alas no such reference is to be found in his National Defense Strategy summary released a month later.

Controlling the Chief

Charlie Savage

It was August 2004, and the Iraqi insurgency was raging in Anbar province. Major General James “Mad Dog” Mattis of the Marines, who is now the Trump administration’s defense secretary, called a meeting with a group of religious leaders outside Fallujah. His division was coming under daily fire from both local militants and foreign terrorists associated with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and he hoped to persuade the leaders that it was misguided of them to encourage local young men to pick up rifles and shoot at American forces rather than trying to throw out al-Qaeda, whose bombings and beheadings were transforming their province into a hellscape.

‘Never get high on your own supply’ – why social media bosses don’t use social media

by Alex Hern
Source Link

Developers of platforms such as Facebook have admitted that they were designed to be addictive. Should we be following the executives’ example and going cold turkey – and is it even possible for mere mortals? Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t use Facebook like you or me. The 33-year-old chief executive has a team of 12 moderators dedicated to deleting comments and spam from his page, according to Bloomberg. He has a “handful” of employees who help him write his posts and speeches and a number of professional photographers who take perfectly stage-managed pictures of him meeting veterans in Kentucky, small-business owners in Missouri or cheesesteak vendors in Philadelphia.

Opinion The Guardian view on cyberwar: an urgent problem

In the desperate scramble to rearm before the second world war there was always an undercurrent of pessimism. “The bomber will always get through,” Stanley Baldwin warned. In his dark fantasies, destruction and poison gas rained from the skies and obliterated civilisation. That isn’t quite what happened, though the bombers did their best. Today’s equivalent is the feeling that the hacker will always get through, and that attacks on computer networks will become the most devastating form of future warfare.

Lockheed contracted for national cyber range management

By James LaPorta

Senior Airman Zach Wilt, 49th Communications Squadron cyber operator, installs Microsoft Windows 10 to a laptop at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 1, 2017. Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract for the national cyber range capability, which allows potentially virulent code to be studied without compromising live computer systems. The deal, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, is valued at more than $33.9 million and is a modification to a previous contract under the terms of a cost-plus-fixed fee agreement.



Are drones reliable? Would you bet your life on them? In a recent article, Jacquelyn Schneider and Julia Macdonald argued that “the troops don’t trust drones” to protect them in combat with close air support. To understand how the people who actually coordinate airstrikes feel, they interviewed and surveyed Joint Terminals Air Controllers (JTACs) and Joint Fires Observers (JFOs) about their thoughts on working with manned and unmanned aircraft. They find some measure of hesitation about and distrust towards working with unmanned aircraft. In their conclusion, they argue that manned aircraft overhead inspire a “warm fuzzy” feeling of comfort and confidence in ground troops that unmanned platforms cannot provide. Ultimately, the authors recommend that “[p]olicymakers should reexamine their apparent commitment to an unmanned future.”

Google Parent Alphabet Launches New Cyber Security Business Billed As A ‘Digital Immune System’ To Fight Off Hackers

Agency France Presse (AFP) posted an article, January 24, 2018, to the website of the Daily Mail, with the title above. The article begins by noting that “Google’s parent Alphabet’s ‘moonshot’ lab unveiled a new ‘graduate’ which aims to make a business out of preventing cyber attacks. Chronicle, is the latest business unit to proclaim independence from the “X” lab — devoted to ambitious projects,” the publication noted. “Other ‘graduates’ from X include Waymo, the self-driving car; and, life sciences operation – Verily,” AFP noted.

“Chronicle began as an X project about two years ago,” AFP explained, “according to an online post by Chief Executive, Stephen Gillett. “He described Chronicle as ‘a new independent business within Alphabet that’s dedicated to helping companies find and stop cyber attacks before they cause harm.”

$86,000 + 5,600 MPH = Hyper Velocity Missile Defense


Compare that to Patriot missiles, which require special launchers and cost roughly $3 million each. The Hypervelocity Gun Weapon System (which comprises the HVP itself plus cannon, fire control, and radar) won’t replace high-cost, high-performance missiles, but it could provide an additional layer of defense that’s cheaper, more mobile, and much harder for an enemy to destroy.

Today’s missile defenses are “brittle,” “inflexible,” and “expensive,” said Vincent Sabio, the HVP program manager at the Pe

Gen. Holmes Sketches Multi-Domain Warfare; A-10 Wings Funded in ’19


The Air Force and Army couldn’t start an important set of tabletop wargames last week because of the government shutdown. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes revealed the information when he disclosed today that the Air Force was starting multi-domain war games to hammer out how the land and air services would work together in a high-intensity fight with RussiaNow, being forced to reschedule these isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a very good example of the waste and confusion that Congress causes when it fails to pass appropriations bills, especially the one that really matters to the Constitution — defense.

GAO: Fix security flaws or anyone will be able to track a F-22

By: Daniel Cebul  
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WASHINGTON ― Some of the military’s most advanced aircraft could be tracked by adversaries, with greater precision than radar, if security flaws in the latest signal technology aren’t addressed. The risk is associated with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out transponder technology. According to a Government Accountability Office report released this month, a 2010 Federal Aviation Administration rule requires all military aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B Out transponders by Jan. 1, 2020, as part of its program to modernize the air transportation system, but neither the Department of Defense nor the FAA has taken significant steps to mitigate security risks.