31 March 2018

Rare images show Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons that may be used against Indian troops


Pakistan has decided to deploy its tactical nuclear weapons in specially prepared garrisons just about 60-80 km from the international boundary.

New Delhi: Pakistan thinks it has compelled India to abandon the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, i.e. the sudden and swift launch of large scale military action, and has foreclosed all options for a conventional war by operationalising tactical nuclear weapons – nuclear bombs with limited yield that may be used against advancing Indian military columns.

But its calculations may just be flawed.

India has a very clearly drawn out nuclear policy of “No First Use” or NFU. However, details of that policy have been left ambiguous — such as what would be construed as first use. This could be something like Pakistani preparation to launch nuclear weapons, an actual launch of nuclear weapons, or even a crossing over into Indian air space.

Pakistan does not have any written policy on nuclear weapons use, although its leaders have often threatened to use nuclear weapons on the Indian Army’s advancing IABGs (integrated armoured battle groups), either in concentration areas or after crossing the border.

India's healthcare: Private vs public sector

Shakeeb Asrar

In August, at least 386 children were reported to have died at a public hospital in the north Indian city of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. This sudden rise in fatalities at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Hospital placed India's healthcare system under scrutiny. Authorities attributed the increase to a seasonal encephalitis outbreak, but others have placed the blame on corruption within India's public healthcare system. According to the United Nations, in India, about 48 out of every 1,000 newborns die before reaching the age of five. It is one of the highest under-five child mortality rates in South Asia (behind Afghanistan at 91 and Pakistan at 81). In terms of numbers, India has the largest share of global under-five deaths at 1.3 million annually.

India spends a fortune on defence and gets poor value for money

The country’s millions of men and women in uniform wield mainly Soviet weapons

IN FEBRUARY India quietly passed a milestone. The release of its annual budget showed that defence spending, at $62bn, has swept past that of its former colonial master, Britain. Only America, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia lavish more on their soldiers. For nearly a decade India has also been the world’s top importer of arms. In terms of active manpower and the number of ships and planes, its armed forces are already among the world’s top five.

Why India’s Millionaires Are Seceding: Both Pull And Push Effects Are At Work

by R Jagannathan

Despite a quarter-century of deregulation, India has not done enough to make ease of doing business or ease of living a reality. We must reform faster and get the corrupt bureaucracy off the backs of both our businesspersons and our citizens. Recently, Ruchir Sharma, head of Morgan Stanley Emerging Markets, gave us a stunning figure – some 23,000 millionaires have left India since 2014, the year Narendra Modi came to power. Some 7,000 of these millionaires emigrated in 2017 alone. This means some 2.1 per cent of India’s rich left the country for greener pastures, far higher than France’s 1.3 per cent and China’s 1.1 per cent.

India’s Military Budget Challenge

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Despite the rising security threats it faces, India’s defense budget now stands at the lowest since the 1962 Sino-Indian border war, leading India’s Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand, to lash out in the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense last week about the difficulty this causes the Indian Army. The Parliamentary Standing Committee report highlights the continuing deficiencies that the three services face in terms of military modernization, including the “Make in India’ initiative. The Army vice chief, in his unusually candid comments, made a case for capability upgrades by emphasizing the changing threat perception within the country as well as in the neighborhood. In his statement, Chand pointed to increasing “external strife and internal dissidence,” including Doklam. “China has become increasingly assertive,” he stated. On the western border, he pointed to the increased cross-border firing as well as terrorist attacks, asking that defense forces should therefore “get their due.”

Is Trump Ready to Dump Pakistan?


The White House is talking tough, but previous U.S. presidents never managed to persuade Islamabad to fight Afghan militants.

As U.S. ambassador to Pakistan more than a decade ago, Ryan Crocker spent much of his time trying to convince the government in Islamabad to take action against militants moving freely inside the country and plotting attacks on U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

In 2007, toward the end of his three-year tenure, Crocker spoke with the head of the Pakistani army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who explained why Islamabad was not ready to reverse course.

The United States had a short attention span, the general said, according to Crocker. “How long are you staying this time? Because you come and you go,” Kayani told Crocker.

Trump’s ‘Very Soon’ Withdrawal From Syria Is Exactly What Many Troops Feared

What the president said is exactly what some special operations forces worried would happen — under President Hillary Clinton.
Trump just stepped into dangerous waters.

When the president said on Thursday that the U.S. would pull out of Syria “very soon,” in another apparently off-handed (and definitely off-script) quip, it struck to the very heart of why some American troops had said they voted for him — and why they had said they would never vote for Hillary Clinton.
Back during the campaign, more than one special operator said to me privately that they were worried Clinton “would get us killed.” That’s not hyperbole. That’s a quote.
What they meant was that they expected a trigger-happy President Clinton would increase their missions, while the more-isolationist President Trump would not.

On Thursday, Trump said: “We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon … we’re going to be coming out of there very soon.”
That has to send chills down the spines of a lot of Green Berets and other elite coalition forces who have fought, bled, and died to win back that territory — and who are saying the U.S. needs to stay until a peace is settled, just like Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said as recently as January.

US-China trade war will have no winners

By Ajit Ranade

One of the significant global trends these days is the rise of protectionism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had identified this as one of three major global challenges in his speech at Davos earlier this year. The rise of protectionism is closely identified with the trade policies articulated, and now implemented, by President Donald Trump. His government’s latest move to impose high import duties on aluminum and steel is but the latest in a series of protectionist measures, and more may follow. These recent duties are squarely targeted against Chinese exports to the USA amounting to 50 billion dollars. The Chinese embassy in Washington DC instantly reacted by warning that China would not hesitate to defend its legitimate interests, and would not recoil from a trade war. The usage of “war” is purely metaphorical, but does convey the potential impact.

Why Did Kim Jong Un Just Visit China?


For months, China seemed to be a side player as relations improved between North Korea and South Korea. Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, kicked off the year with an address celebrating the completion of his nuclear deterrent after months of boasting about his increasing nuclear capability. In his speech, he also expressed interest in North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics. That, in turn, provided Moon Jae In, the president of South Korea, with the diplomatic opening he sought. What followed: an exchange of conciliatory gestures at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, which set the stage for a meeting in Pyongyang between Kim and a team of South Korean envoys. Those same envoys then presented an invitation from Kim to meet with President Donald Trump, who had threatened North Korea’s total destruction; Trump immediately accepted. Seoul, it seemed, was in control of the fate of the Korean Peninsula.

A Few Words on China’s Holdings of U.S. Bonds

by Brad W. Setser

China’s reported desire to slow its Treasury purchases briefly generated a lot of attention (China subsequently denied the report). China’s Treasury holdings have basically followed its reserves, so if reserves were likely to more or less stay stable in 2018, there was no particular reason for China to be a significant (net) buyer of Treasuries—China’s 2017 purchases reflected, in my view, a desire to rebuild its Treasury portfolio after it had been depleted by China’s need to sell its more liquid assets when its reserve were under pressure in 2016 rather than anything more fundamental.

10 Takeaways from the Fight against the Islamic State

By Michael Dempsey

Nearly three years on from the Islamic State’s high water mark in the summer of 2015, there are several lessons that the United States and its allies can discern from the terrorist group’s meteoric rise to control large parts of Iraq and Syria to the loss of its physical caliphate late last year. The steady decline in ISIL’s fortunes is striking given the palpable fear its rise in the summer of 2014 sparked across Washington, when a common question circulating within the policy community was whether Baghdad itself might fall. Many of these takeaways will be relevant to U.S. policymakers as they attempt to prevent the group from reconstituting itself in the coming months.

Expulsions of Russians are pushback against Putin's hybrid warfare

Patrick Wintour 

The expulsions of Russian diplomats on Monday reflect how widely Vladimir Putin has attempted to wage his brand of hybrid warfare and how many leaders and their intelligence agencies he has angered in the process.

Even before the Salisbury poisoning, many governments had lost patience with Vladimir Putin’s grey war for domestic reasons of their own. Their response is not just an act of solidarity with the UK but a collective pushback.

Their citizens may not have been poisoned, but their elections have been disrupted, their cyber networks attacked and, time after time, their UN resolutions condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria vetoed.

A New Cold War Is Not Inevitable

James Stavridis 

When I served as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO from 2009 to 2013, I developed a friendly relationship with the head of the Russian armed forces, General Nikolai Makarov. He was a short, barrel-chested man with a congenial personal style, and given my own somewhat compact physique, I could at least tell my boss, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, that I literally saw things “eye to eye” with my Russian counterpart. Our meetings occurred both in Moscow and several times in Brussels at NATO headquarters. I also had him over to my official residence in Mons, Belgium, where too much vodka was drank but we continued to have meaningful conversations (at least in the early parts of the evening).

How (Not) to Fight Proxy Wars

C. Anthony Pfaff Patrick Granfield

Iran’s proxies are running roughshod over America’s allies and interests in the Middle East. Hezbollah is dictating the terms of Lebanese politics and preparing for war with Israel. In Yemen, Houthis indiscriminately launch missiles into Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, in areas of Iraq that Iranian-backed militias have liberated from the Islamic State, hundreds of men and boys have disappeared; scores of others have been executed.

U.S. War With Russia Would Leave American Forces With No Air Support in Europe for Weeks, Expert Warns

David Brennan,

U.S. and NATO forces would be without air support for “several weeks” in the event of a European war with Russia, as Moscow’s advanced anti-aircraft systems could close European airspace to NATO warplanes.

Army officials and defense experts told the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium that the U.S. must therefore upgrade its artillery forces in order to degrade Russia’s cutting-edge anti-aircraft capabilities, Military.com reported.

Apple Has Plenty To Lose In Potential Trade War With China

by Felix Richter

Having announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports last week, the Trump administration is reportedly getting ready to has hit China with more tariffs in response to the country's alleged intellectual property theft. According to people familiar with the matter cited by Reuters, Trump aims to impose tariffs on Chinese goods worth $60 billion a year, predominantly targeting the technology and telecommunications sector. Those tariffs were announced today. Experts are certain that such drastic measures would provoke retaliatory action from Beijing which could have disastrous consequences for U.S. industries and companies doing business in China. The agricultural and automotive sectors are just two examples of industries relying heavily on exports to China.

Trump sticks two thumbs in China's eye

By David A. Andelman

David A. Andelman, visiting scholar at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School and director of its Red Lines Project, is a contributor to CNN and columnist for USA Today. Author of "A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today," he formerly was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News in Asia and Europe. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.

The Trouble With PESCO: The Mirages of European Defense

The creation of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in December 2017 crowned a series of recent debates and actions aimed at strengthening the EU’s common security and defense policy. However, Justyna Gotkowska argues that the compromise around PESCO has revealed strategic divergences among France, Germany and Poland related to the perceptions of threats, EU security and defense policy, and trans-Atlantic relations. Further, the debates on PESCO have highlighted the growing gap between European political narratives and the realities of European military capability deficiencies as well as the US’ military presence on the continent. (Image courtesy of the European Parliament/Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Nightmare Avoided: Did Israel's Air Force Stop Syria from Getting Nuclear Weapons?

Robert Farley

On September 6, 2007, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed a mysterious installation near the Euphrates River in the Deir-ez-Zor region. The strike incurred curiously little response from Damascus. A cyber-attack reportedly pre-empted a defensive Syrian military mobilization, and even the diplomatic outcry was muted. No other Arab governments commented on the attack, and even the Israelis did not acknowledge the operation for quite some time. Destroying the facility was not regarded as a slam-dunk decision, either in Israel or the United States. Anxiety over the strength of the intelligence in the wake of the Iraq debacle stayed the hand of the latter, while concern about international blowback, not to mention a Syrian military response, worried the former. What if cooler heads had carried the day, and Israel had never undertaken the strike?

Why Central Banks Could Mint Their Own Digital Currency

Only 8 percent of global financial transactions today involve cash, but that figure will diminish even further as digital currencies gain prominence.

Faced with the growth of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, central banks around the world will continue their research into introducing their own digital currencies.

By entering the market for cryptocurrencies, central banks could pose a profound threat to the commercial banking business model.

NATO's Unified Vision to Exercise ISR Interoperability

When NATO first envisioned a joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability following a 2012 summit in Chicago, alliance members were not at all sure exactly what that meant, says Matt Roper, the chief of joint ISR within NATO’s Communications and Information Agency. “It’s fair to say at that point that joint ISR was an emerging construct for NATO. We all knew what ‘joint’ meant. We all knew what ‘intelligence’ meant. We all knew what ‘surveillance’ and ‘reconnaissance’ meant as individual commodities, but putting them together and calling it “joint ISR” wasn’t necessarily clear,” he says. “I think it would be fair to characterize the efforts in NATO ISR as being truly transformational.”

Why digital strategies fail

By Jacques Bughin, Tanguy Catlin, Martin Hirt, and Paul Willmott

Most digital strategies don’t reflect how digital is changing economic fundamentals, industry dynamics, or what it means to compete. Companies should watch out for five pitfalls. The processing power of today’s smartphones are several thousand times greater than that of the computers that landed a man on the moon in 1969. These devices connect the majority of the human population, and they’re only ten years old. In that short period, smartphones have become intertwined with our lives in countless ways. Few of us get around without the help of ridesharing and navigation apps such as Lyft and Waze. On vacation, novel marine-transport apps enable us to hitch a ride from local boat owners to reach an island. While we’re away, we can also read our email, connect with friends back home, check to make sure we turned the heat down, make some changes to our investment portfolio, and buy travel insurance for the return trip. Maybe we’ll browse the Internet for personalized movie recommendations or for help choosing a birthday gift that we forgot to buy before leaving. We also can create and continually update a vacation photo gallery—and even make a few old-fashioned phone calls. 


Sam Biddle

INTERNET PARANOIACS DRAWN to bitcoin have long indulged fantasies of American spies subverting the booming, controversial digital currency. Increasingly popular among get-rich-quick speculators, bitcoin started out as a high-minded project to make financial transactions public and mathematically verifiable — while also offering discretion. Governments, with a vested interest in controlling how money moves, would, some of bitcoin’s fierce advocates believed, naturally try and thwart the coming techno-libertarian financial order.

How to Fix Facebook

By Adrian Chen, Nathan Heller, Andrew Marantz,and Anna Wiener

Last weekend, a pair of exposés in the Times and the Guardian revealed that Cambridge Analytica, the U.K.-based data-mining firm that consulted on Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, not only used Facebook to harvest demographic information on tens of millions of Americans—something we’ve known since 2015—but also may have acquired and retained that information in violation of Facebook’s terms of service. The harvesting was reportedly carried out in 2014 by Aleksandr Kogan, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Cambridge, using a Facebook app, which was downloaded by about three hundred thousand users. At the time, Facebook’s data-sharing policies were far more permissive than they are now: simply by authorizing an app, users could give developers access not only to their own data—photos, work histories, birthdays, religious and political affiliations—but also to the data of all their friends.



The Trump administration indicted members of an Iranian hacker network on Friday, claiming that the group was responsible for “one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns” the U.S. has prosecuted. Officials said the hackers allegedly targeted dozens of U.S. universities, companies and government agencies—as well as the United Nations—and stole around 31 terabytes of data and intellectual property from entities worldwide. The group was allegedly hired by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a small division of Iran’s military tasked with defending the country’s Islamic Revolution. The IRGC is controlled by Tehran’s most hardline religious leaders, and often collects information on foreign entities. Nine of the 10 people named in the indictment were connected to the Mabna Institute, an Iranian tech firm that allegedly hacks on behalf of the IRGC.

How the U.S. Can Play Cyber-Offense

By Michael Sulmeyer

The United States has been the victim of repeated cyberattacks by foreign powers, and it seems to have little power to stop them. During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Russian hackers broke into the Democratic National Committee’s e-mail servers and made more general efforts to influence the election’s outcome, as detailed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian entities. In February, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials warned that the Russian government would again try to use cyber-operations to interfere with midterm elections in November. That same month, the White House publicly blamed Russia for “the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history,” the 2017 NotPetya malware campaign, which crippled the government of Ukraine before spreading to multinational corporations such as FedEx and Maersk, causing billions in damage.

U.S. Military Admits Its "Helpless" Against a Hypersonic Missile Strike by China or Russia

Asia Times

The United States defense establishment has not stopped ringing alarm bells on what they say are rising threats posed by Russia and China, and their warnings are prompting fear among members of Congress.

Last week, US military officials and lawmakers highlighted hypersonic missiles as a particular area of concern.

“Right now, we’re helpless,” Republican Senator James Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was quoted by The Hill as saying in advocating for more funding for hypersonic missiles.

30 March 2018

Military Power and the Allure of Technology

Lt Gen Prakash Menon

While technological innovation can be a captivating narrative for military superiority, India should not blindly buy into this optical power.

Military power derives its fundamental strength from its ability to threaten or use violence to secure political objectives. In human affairs, military power remains the ultimate determinant of conflict resolution. But nuclear weapons changed this basic assumption as the battlefield no longer offered the prospect of using violence to achieve substantial political objectives.

Saffron Scare: al-Qaeda‘s Propaganda War in India

By: Animesh Roul

Of late, al-Qaeda’s South Asia branch has been proactive and forceful in its campaign against India and its neighbors. A “code of conduct,” released by the group in June 2017, signaled an expanded geographical scope by including Afghanistan and Myanmar into its supposed domain of influence and operation, adding to its core focus on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has since sought to augment this with a series of videos released at the end of last year that purport to depict anti-Muslim policies and atrocities committed by Hindu right wing groups, as well as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The films all employ the phrase “saffron terror,” an allusion to violent Hindu nationalism.

One Morning in Baghdad


One morning in October 2003, I was shaken out of bed by an explosion. I was in Baghdad, leading a platoon of Army Rangers as part of a special operations task force that was hunting down the famous “deck of cards”—the last of the Ba’ath Regime loyalists, and Saddam himself. Because we did all of our work at night, I had only been sleeping for a few hours. When I first felt the explosion, I rolled out of bed, grabbed my M4 carbine, and ran out of the house we were living in on the southern tip of Baghdad’s so-called Green Zone. Improbably, my giant grizzly bear of a platoon sergeant remained asleep, snoring away in the cot next to mine.

Nepal Rewarded For Using ‘China Card’ – Analysis

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.

In an earlier update we had referred to PM Oli’s statement on Indo-Nepal Relations. We had said that what was more troubling was the open, brazen and arrogant declaration of Oli that he would be able to get more leverage from India by getting closer to China. Though we criticised the statement, it looks that Oli was perhaps right in his assessment on relations with India. The Economic Times of 21st March reported that the Centre had decided to hike its aid to Nepal by 73 percent from previous allocation “while expressing concern over increasing Chinese presence in some of the neighbourhood countries.” The heading of the news item was more direct that said that India’s aid to Nepal is up by 73 percent to check China’s infra push. It is also said in the report that the reasons for the hike are because of security concerns on the India- Nepal border.

Saffron Curtain: How Buddhism Was Weaponized During the Cold War


Of the world’s major faiths, Buddhism is often characterized as being a religion of peace, tolerance, and compassion. The Western encounter with Buddhism has largely been distilled through yoga, the beatniks, Hollywood, and Dalai Lama quotes shared on Facebook. But even a cursory glance at the news that emanates from the Buddhist world reveals a more sanguinary state of affairs. In Myanmar, ultra-nationalist monks have fueled a genocidal crusade against the country’s Rohingya Muslim population. In Thailand, the government has responded to a long-running Malay Muslim insurgency in its southern provinces by fostering a Buddhist militarism, encouraging monks in local temples to ally with the armed forces. And in Sri Lanka, the Buddhist-majority Sinhalese were engaged in a bitter civil war against the Hindu-minority Tamils for decades. More recently, Buddhist nationalists there have stoked anti-Muslim riots.

Trump Hits China With the Tariffs We've All Been Waiting For

The United States has launched its first major trade and investment measures against China, but they won’t be the last as the White House looks to make good on its protectionist promises. China will be compelled to respond in kind and may prompt the United States to retaliate in the process. As the United States moves forward with its aggressive trade agenda, the need to minimize the domestic fallout of its policies will restrain the White House.

Emperor Xi Jinping has a vision for China: How it'll impact India


Xi Jinping made it. He can now retain his seat for life. The South China Morning Post reported: “Under the watch of a confident and relaxed President Xi Jinping, nearly 3,000 Chinese lawmakers were nearly unanimous in their approval of changes to the state constitution that included removing the term limit on the presidency. Chinese Constitution The Hong Kong newspaper said that Xi, who had maintained a poker face throughout the opening day of People’s National Congress (NPC), appeared "much more at ease after the vote". Only two of the 2,964 deputies voted against the constitutional revisions; the process was over in just one hour: no debate took place, no discussion and not even canvassing.

China is winning because it can fill a 'black hole' that other countries have left behind


China's influence operations have flourished because the US, Australia, and other leading nations have left a void that Beijing was easily able to fill, according to a former Australian government adviser. President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative to link 70 countries filled a gap of loans and infrastructure to poorer nations, particularly in Southeast Asia. Hundreds of controversial Confucius Institutes, which are run by the Communist Party, also fill a "black hole" of education on Chinese language and culture that countries failed to provide themselves. The influence of these institutes is so large that US legislators announced this week a draft law to force them to register as foreign agents of the the Chinese government 

Shining a Cleansing Light on China’s Dark Secrets


BEIJING — Shen Zhihua, bon vivant, former businessman, now China’s foremost Cold War historian, has set himself a near-impossible task. He wants China to peel back its secrets, throw open its archives and tell its citizens what went on between China and the United States, between China and North Korea, and much more. Even before the hard-line era of President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has acted like a supersensitive corporation, blocking highly regarded historians like Mr. Shen from peering too deeply. Precious documents have been destroyed, stolen or kept under seal by librarians skilled at deflecting the inquiries of even the most tenacious researchers.

Trump Technology Tariffs Designed to Protect U.S. Military Advantage

Ben Werner

The Trump Administration announced tariffs and other restrictions on China's high-tech industry Thursday. The implicit message is the actions intend to guard the U.S. military's technological advantage in a 21st Century battlespace. The new order imposes tariffs on about $50 billion worth of specific products from China, authorizes filing a World Trade Organization case against China, and puts limits on Chinese investment in U.S. technology companies to protect them from being forced to share intellectual property with Chinese partner firms. Trump’s lead trade official detailed the U.S. complaint against China. The nation has a policy of forcing technology transfers between U.S. companies and Chinese partners as part of doing business in the nation and acquiring U.S. technology through cyber theft, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said at the ceremony.

The World Should Take China's War Threats Seriously

Gordon G. Chang

Taiwan’s national-security and counterespionage chief, in a question-and-answer period at the national legislature, this week warned that China might invade the island republic.  “Beijing is prepared to retaliate forcibly once senior U.S. officials touch down on the island,” the National Security Bureau’s Director-General Peng Sheng-chu said, referring to visits encouraged by the Taiwan Travel Act, which recently became U.S. law. Peng’s warning came at about the same time Taiwan’s defense ministry reported that its ships and planes tailed China’s only operational aircraft carrier and its escorts as they transited the Taiwan Strait. The Liaoning group, the ministry announced Wednesday, left Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone on a southwesterly course.

Which Way Forward for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula?

By: Michael Horton

Beginning in February, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its proxies launched sequential offensives against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the southern Yemeni governorates of Hadramawt and Shabwah. The latest offensive, Operation Sweeping Torrent, was launched on March 7 with the objective of clearing AQAP from the governorate of Abyan, a longstanding stronghold for the organization (Middle East Monitor, March 8). The UAE and the security forces it backs in Yemen claim to have successfully cleared AQAP from large swaths of all three governorates.

Central Asian Reset

By: Umida Hashimova

According to President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, 2011 was the last time the leadership of the five Central Asian countries all sat together at the same table to discuss regional issues (Tengrinews, March 15). On March 15, 2018, Nazarbayev, President Shavkat Mirziyaev of Uzbekistan, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov of the Kyrgyz Republic and President Imomali Rahmon of Tajikistan met in Astana. Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow missed this gathering for a visit to Kuwait to sign numerous energy agreements and instead was represented by the chair of the parliament, Akja Nurberdyeva (Turkmenistan.ru, March 14; see EDM, March 20).

Salyukov Confirms Corrections to Armed Forces’ Structure

By: Roger McDermott

Several statements and interviews from Russia’s military top brass, especially marking the fifth anniversary of the appointment of Sergei Shoigu as minister of defense in November 2012, note the effort to reintroduce a number of divisions to the order of battle (OOB). These structural-level changes appear to mark a departure from Anatoly Serdyukov’s (defense minister in 2007–2012) reforms to move the OOB to a brigade-based model. The reappearance of divisions in the Ground Forces has also been interpreted as a sign that the General Staff is preparing to conduct “large-scale” warfare against a conventional enemy. This interpretation seems to fit with the idea that the Russian military is preoccupied with confronting a threat from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, some of the details around the move to reintroduce divisions to the OOB, as well as the locations of these formations, point to Moscow preparing for long-term conflict in Ukraine, replete with a range of escalation options (see EDM, March 6, 2018; TASS, December 22, 2017).

A Gaza seaport: New ideas for conflict management

Ezra Friedman

In January 2006, the radical Islamic movement Hamas won a sweeping majority in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, with an almost outright victory within the electoral districts of the Gaza Strip. This in turn led to confrontation with the secular-leaning Fatah movement, which Hamas would go on to violently eject from the Gaza Strip in 2007, leading to the current splitin which Fatah retains control of the Palestinian National Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization based in Ramallah, and the Gaza Strip is controlled solely by Hamas (which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union). A joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade followed Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip, and has all but stopped the flow of goods and people across land, sea, and air borders. Hamas and Israel have also engaged in several rounds of conflict that have not only intensified the blockade, but have also led to massive destruction of property worth billions of dollars, including critical infrastructure. The ongoing feud between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has led to cuts in Palestinian Authority payments to Israel for electricity in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas has raised tariffs and taxes on Gazans to generate revenue.

Britain’s lost decades

Jack May

It has been a long ten years. When Philip Hammond delivered his spring statement last week, it marked a decade since the last pre-crash budget of 2008, when Alistair Darling delivered rosy forecasts for growth and continued public spending to buoy up services, even as the clouds overhead had already become full-blown grumbling cumulonimbus beasts. Since then, the superlatives have rolled in. Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies sets them out well: the deepest recession since the 1920s. The slowest recovery since the 1920s. The worst decade for earnings growth since the 1860s – if not earlier. The highest deficit since the second world war. The biggest peacetime surge in public debt. The Conservatives – first in coalition with the self-immolating Liberal Democrats and then with renewed vengeance alone – have presided over one of the most pathetic and febrile periods in our economy’s history.

At the Pentagon, theories abound as to why H.R. McMaster didn’t get a fourth star

by Jamie McIntyre

As the news leaked last week that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster would soon be replaced as President Trump’s national security adviser, speculation swirled about whether the storied military officer would be given a four-star command somewhere, a soft-landing after a hard run at the White House. Instead, the only active-duty service member in the president’s Cabinet is ending his distinguished 34-year Army career with an inglorious firing.


Lionel Beehner and Liam Collins

Over the past year, the United States has dusted off its international relations textbooks from the Cold War era and prioritized “revisionist powers” like the Russian Federation and China in terms of reshaping its military strategy and doctrine. The 2008 Russia-Georgia War, nearing its ten-year anniversary, is worth reexamining to understand how these “revisionist powers” will fight in the twenty-first century.

Facebook, Google, your reign may soon be over

By Fareed Zakaria

We might look back on 2017 as the last moment of unbridled faith and optimism in the technology industry. The revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data — mining more than 50 million users’ personal information — came at a time when people were already considering appropriate ways to curb the handful of tech companies that dominate not just the American economy but also, increasingly, American life. As the information revolution took off in the 1990s, we got caught up in the excitement of the age, along with the novelty of the products and their transformative power. We were dazzled by the wealth created by nebbishy 25-year-olds, who became instant billionaires — the ultimate revenge of the nerds. And in the midst of all this, as the United States was transitioning into a digital economy, we neglected to ask: What is the role for government? 

New CYBER MAVEN Column: Why the US is More Vulnerable to CyberAttack

by Warrior Maven

In January of this year there was significant press about how the Department of Defense was considering nuclear retaliation for a cyber attack. The Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed back against this idea stating that the new posture review spoke about strategic level attacks beyond a nuclear scenario and that cyber wasn’t even mentioned. This entire conversation side stepped perhaps the most important point being punctuated by this line of thinking. The United States’ geography has fundamentally shifted. No other country in the world can claim that their continuous territory has remained free from foreign adversaries in the last 200 years while actively engaging in multiple conflicts.[1] Yet today, the United States is further constrained than at any point previously in its history. A nuclear Armageddon is no long the only thing the U.S. military and population need to worry about. Today, cyber attacks are a very real way to bring the war to the home front in a way that noone in two centuries has experienced.

Facebook’s Hate Speech Problem

Chintan Girish Modi

There is a fine line between removing hate speech and protecting free speech. Facebook needs to learn where that boundary lies. Mark Zuckerberg is in the news again. This time he is not receiving an honorary degree from Harvard, selling Free Basics, or donating another chunk of his large fortune towards setting up a charity. Facebook, the company he co-founded, is in troubled waters. The sharp currents are being felt not only in the United States of America, where he lives, but all the way across in India as well. 


Butch Bracknell

Gallons of ink have been spilled since the Department of Defense began exploring plans to permit cyber-qualified information technology specialists to join the military at ranks above entry-level and without undergoing entry level military training. The idea was initially floated in June 2016, with the Army, Navy and Air Force all considering implementation. In May 2017, the internet almost broke when the Marine Corps weighed whether to allow cyber recruits to skip basic training and enter as staff sergeants, not unlike “The President’s Own”—the Marine Band. The debate has centered around whether allowing Marines to skip the time-honored leveling and shaping experience of boot camp and granting them “unearned” rank would be detrimental to the service ethos. But much of the commentary is missing a more fundamental question: Why does the new crop of cyber operations specialists need to be in the military at all? Spoiler alert: they do not. And an elite Marine Corps shows why.

Do You Even OPSEC, Bro?

By John PWN Jones

John PWN Jones is a former surface warfare officer, a lateral transfer to the CW community, and is fine with you proving him wrong. He’ll email you on the “high side” if you make enough stink, and used a pseudonym because not today, ISIS. The opinions here are his own, and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense. Remember when we didn’t do our adversary’s targeting for them? Remember when we didn’t openly acknowledge our personnel’s associations with intelligence agencies? Remember when we didn’t freely put targets on the back of the military? Pepperidge Farms remembers.