20 January 2018

Modi govt saddling India’s military with more bureaucracy


Recent media reports indicate that India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has decided to allow private companies to manage and operate all Army Base Workshops (ABWs) and station workshops in eight cities across six states. The scheme is called GOCO (Government Owned, Contractor Managed). Ostensibly, the move is part of a major restructuring by the government of India to modernize the military. It claims that this will sharpen the teeth (fighting units), while shortening the tail (logistics). But if one takes a closer look the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, substantial reforms haven’t even taken off. The Modi administration, despite being in charge since May 2014, has not even commenced the process to define a national-security strategy.

China and India: An Emerging Gulf in Infrastructure Plans

By N. Janardhan

As 2017 drew to a close, Beijing made two surprising proposals to further the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): one, extending the China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation (CPEC) to Afghanistan; and two, linking Pakistan’s Gwadar and Iran’s Chabahar Ports. These propositions assume significance because as BRI continues to hog the global limelight, India has been quietly promoting its own North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC). These infrastructure plans not only intensify Sino-Indo competition — even potentially working at cross-purposes — but also risk duplicating partnership opportunities for several countries, including those in the Gulf interested in contributing to the projects.

Is China really building a military base in the northern province of Afghanistan?

By Kemel Toktomushev

Beijing has long refrained from engaging militarily beyond its borders. However, as some recent reports suggest, this situation may soon change. Ferghana News reported that China will build a military base in the northern province of Afghanistan, and, according to the news agency, the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan is already expecting a Chinese expert delegation to discuss the location and further technicalities for the base. If these reports are true, China will fully fund the new military base in Badakhshan, covering all material and technical expenses, including both lethal and nonlethal weaponry and equipment.

Rohingyas and the Unfinished Business of Partition

As Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) celebrated70 years of independence in January 2018, the “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing unfolding in the northwestern part of the country continued. The plight of the Bengali-speaking Muslim population of Rakhine state (formerly Arakan province), which can be traced back to the 19th century, follows the larger pattern of violent ethnic conflicts rooted in religion, language, and mass migration that have plagued the Indian subcontinent immediately prior to and soon after its 1947 Partition.

China Is Hard At Work Developing Swarms Of Small Drones With Big Military Applications


Amass drone attack on Russian forces in Syria has highlighted the very real danger that small unmanned aircraft increasingly pose, even in the hands of non-state groups. At the same time, it underscores how small drone swarms could be a game-changing capability for larger nation states, including the United States’ near-peer opponents, such as China, who are already developing this technology in more structured environments.

As North Korea Goes Nuclear, U.S.-China Relations Sour

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The decision to attack North Korea or to allow its government to acquire nuclear weapons was always a choice between the lesser of two evils. One option brings with it the death and destruction that come with war. The other option brings with it the chance, however remote, that the United States could be nuked by an enemy state. Both options bring an additional consequence that must be taken into account: a worsening of U.S.-China relations. China promised to help with North Korea so that the U.S. wouldn’t have to choose either evil. China has failed, and the U.S. appears to be moving toward a decision to accept a nuclear North Korea. That, in turn, creates yet another decision the U.S. must make: whether to hold China accountable.

As North Korea Goes Nuclear, U.S.-China Relations Sour

By Jacob L. Shapiro
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The decision to attack North Korea or to allow its government to acquire nuclear weapons was always a choice between the lesser of two evils. One option brings with it the death and destruction that come with war. The other option brings with it the chance, however remote, that the United States could be nuked by an enemy state. Both options bring an additional consequence that must be taken into account: a worsening of U.S.-China relations. China promised to help with North Korea so that the U.S. wouldn’t have to choose either evil. China has failed, and the U.S. appears to be moving toward a decision to accept a nuclear North Korea. That, in turn, creates yet another decision the U.S. must make: whether to hold China accountable.

China’s big favor

According to Bloomberg, China is considering whether to slow, or even stop, purchases of U.S. Treasuries. At $3.14 trillion, China holds the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves. It is also the largest underwriter of U.S. debt. Financial experts and political observers have long worried that becoming financially dependent on an unfriendly and rival nation is not good for the U.S. in the long term. In the short term, however, should Beijing choose to pull back its major underwriting of America’s $20 trillion debt, it could force politicians to do something they have heretofore seemed incapable of doing: halt spending and start reforming or eliminating unnecessary and outmoded government programs.

Africa Should Think Twice About Accepting China's Aid

By Ibrahim Anoba

A recent report on Chinese loans and aid published by the College of William & Mary found that Beijing has disbursed $350 billion across the world since 2000. Out of that substantial figure, Africa received $94 billion, including $3 billion in the form of foreign aid. While China remains secretive in most of its dealings in Africa, its financial assistance has increased in a similar way to how U.S. funds to Africa grew in the 1980s, a process that created economic problems for the latter. Much of the continent is still recovering from the burden of U.S. foreign loans, and contemporary Chinese activities could condemn it to carry a new and similar debt load. It also threatens to increase corruption and build African economies dependent on China.


By Peter Pomerantsev

The other week, I was looking at a photograph of a penis-shaped vegetable, wondering about its significance for geopolitics. The picture, and thousands like it, had been posted by a pro-Kremlin Twitter account popular in Germany. But between images of bum-like pumpkins, the handle retweeted horrific photographs of children wounded or killed as a result of the war in East Ukraine, their fates blamed on Kiev and the West. The amusing vegetables were there to pull in followers; the other images to promote a political cause. Later the Twitter feed transformed, instead retweeting Kremlin state media and far-right parties.

I Heard Their Screams, and Then They Were Gone'

By Fiona Ehlers
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Seven Muslim refugees from Africa were recently convicted in Italy of throwing Christians from a dinghy on the journey across the Mediterranean. Prosecutors say it was a crime of faith. But was it? Eight men from Africa step in front of the prison gate. It is a dark night and they look around expectantly. It is their first step into freedom, a moment for which they have been waiting for quite some time - the end of a journey during which they have faced more than human beings can bear: crossing the desert,the war in Libya, fleeing across the sea, people drowning, and then two years locked away in this high-security prison near Palermo, Sicily.

Korea's Place In History

by Rodger Baker
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"In the dynamic world of international relations in which the struggle for power among the great is the basic reality, the ultimate fate of the small buffer state is precarious at best." The approach of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, may bring a respite, however brief, from the perception of imminent war on the Korean Peninsula. Feeling squeezed by the United States and China, the two sides of the 38th parallel agreed to resume talks with each other. Seoul and Pyongyang alike face economic pressure from Beijing, after all, and both fear Washington's military posturing, because while North Korea would be the target of a U.S. preventive war,

While Germany Slept


Many Germans may prefer the modesty and incrementalism that have characterized Angela Merkel’s past chancellorships. But a minority government forced to muster coalitions of the willing to address the critical issues confronting Germany and Europe could escape the constraints of such expectations, enabling much-needed reform. BERLIN – Few people outside Germany are familiar with the caricature of themselves that many Germans hold in their minds. Far from the aggressive bully of twentieth-century war propaganda, the perfectionist engineer of Madison Avenue car advertisements, or the rule-following know-it-all of the silver screen, the German many picture today is a sleepy-headed character clad in nightgown and cap. Sometimes clutching a candle, this German cuts a naïve, forlorn figure, bewildered by the surrounding world.

Here Is What America Should Learn from Hawaii's Missile Scare

Wallace C. Gregson
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Hawaii endured a now-famous false alarm on Saturday. The alarm this time was about an inbound ballistic missile, not a tsunami. Ridicule of Hawaii’s system and management followed quickly, validating the cliché that no good deed goes unpunished. Hawaii’s effort should be applauded, not scorned, but dismissive scorn is easier. Politicians demand action to find cause, and assurance that it won’t happen again. Translation: Fire the poor blighter who pushed the wrong button, fire all the officials in the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s chain of command from the top to the button, and change the system to require more supervisory layers. Washington’s response is “not our problem, this is a state issue.” Perhaps this belated recognition of the nature of our federal system—with states’ rights and responsibilities—will turn out to be a good thing. But now it sounds like disregard.

Europe’s biggest test will come in Poland

Europe’s biggest test will come in Poland The country has become a proving ground for the strength of populism across the west GIDEON RACHMAN Add to myFT Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Share on Whatsapp (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Gideon Rachman JANUARY 15, 2018 189 Poland was where the second world war started and where the Soviet empire began to crumble. Now the country may once again play a crucial role in European history. A struggle between the European Commission in Brussels and the Polish government is shaping up as an existential test for the EU. In December, for the first time ever, the commission started a formal procedure that could strip a member state of its voting rights. 

DISA preps for the ‘terabyte of death’

By: Amber Corrin 

When Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn retires as director of the Defense Information Systems Agency next month, he’ll leave behind a tangle of threats to the agency’s networks and a host of cutting-edge commercial technologies to offset them. Naturally, those networks are a target for attackers and DISA leaders such as Lynn are anticipating a worst case scenario. “We call it the terabyte of death,” he said. “We’re preparing for it, we know it’s coming and it’s just a matter of time before it hits us.” This approach is indicative of the evolution of threats. “When I first took over as director, we’d get a 1-gig to 2-gig attack at the internet access point, and we thought, ‘Ooh that’s a big deal.’ And we did all the things we were supposed to do. Fast forward a couple years, now we get 600-gig attacks on the internet access points. Unique, different ways of attacking that we haven’t thought of before,” Lynn said.

NotPetya: From Russian Intelligence, With Love

Mathew J. Schwartz 

Citing no sources by name, The Washington Post report instead references "classified reports cited by U.S. intelligence officials." It says the CIA concluded last November with "high confidence" that Russia's GRU military intelligence agency was behind NotPetya, aka SortaPetya, Petna, ExPetr, Diskcoder.C, Nyetya and GoldenEye. The CIA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the report. European intelligence agencies also reportedly attributed NotPetya to the Kremlin, which may have been probing how quickly Ukraine could respond to a cyberattack. The Ukrainian government was quick to blame Russia for unleashing NotPetya. The Kremlin has denied those accusations.

Terrorists Could Use Teslas to Kill Us


It's a calm Saturday morning in August of next year. Suddenly, across the nation, 12,000 Tesla Model S sedans start up at the same time. They engage Tesla's vaunted autopilot feature and head out onto the road. Some of them make their way to local gas stations. Some to electrical substations. And then, as they approach, they accelerate to top speed. The explosions are fantastic as the Model S batteries rupture and spark fires, which ignite anything flammable in the area. The power grid in the Los Angeles area is brought down almost immediately. Hundreds of fires rage. America is under attack. This might sound like science fiction. It's not. * * *

Business​ ​Risk​ ​Intelligence​ ​-​ 2017​​ ​Review​,​ ​2018​ ​Flashpoints

by Grace Johansson

China leads the hacking charts with the highest combination of impact factors ticked off on a matrix combining the potential capability and impact of possible attacker groups, thus presenting the highest risk.  China leads the hacking charts with the highest combination of impact factors ticked off on a matrix combining the potential capability and impact of possible attacker groups, thus presenting the highest risk, forming one of three actors with a potential tier 6 catastrophic impact (alongside Russia and the Five Eyes) according to a new report by Flashpoint. The authors say that this Decision Report reinforces the need for decision makers inside the enterprise to incorporate Business Risk Intelligence (BRI) into their risk assessments and strategies.

Cyber-attacks are a top three risk to society, alongside natural disaster and extreme weather

By Danny Palmer

Nations' reliance on the internet and connected services means the potential damage from cyber-attacks is one of the biggest risks facing the world today, according to a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF). The threat of cyber-attacks and cyberwarfare sits behind only extreme weather events and natural disasters in terms of events likely to cause disruption in the next five years, according to the WEF's Global Risks Report 2018. The WEF is an international body which brings together business, political, academic, and other leaders to help shape the global agenda. The report highlights ransomware in particular as a cyber-threat, and says that 64 percent of all malicious phishing emails sent during 2017 contained file-encrypting malware.

A Year After Trump, Davos Elite Fear Cyberattacks and War

Stephen Morris 

The threat of large-scale cyberattacks and a “deteriorating geopolitical landscape” since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump have jumped to the top of the global elite’s list of concerns, the World Economic Forum said ahead of its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The growing cyber-dependency of governments and companies, and the associated risks of hacking by criminals or hostile states, has replaced social polarization as a main threat to stability over the next decade, according to the WEF’s yearly assessment of global risks, published Wednesday at Bloomberg LP’s new European headquarters in London. The Davos forum starts Jan. 23 in the Swiss ski resort. While the economic outlook has improved, nine in 10 of those surveyed said they expect political or trade clashes between major powers to worsen. Some 80 percent saw an increased chance of war.

Planning for Electronic Warfare - The Communication Problem

by Oliver B. Gagne

The purpose of this essay is to generate discussion regarding a new way to incorporate near-peer Electronic Warfare (EW) threats into the operations planning process. In my experience, maneuver commanders have been known to focus less on Electromagnetic Spectrum (EM)[i][ii] considerations in a decisive action environment. The root cause of this often boils down to a communication problem: On one side, the information owner must present information which can be difficult to deliver to decision makers in an impactful manner. On the other side, nearly 20 years of COIN operations and the habit of containing EW to a counter-IED role has created an institutional bias regarding the role of EW that must be overcome. EW is often cast aside during planning with the ever-ready catchall of “well, that’s METT-TC dependent.” In other words, we will get to it if it becomes an issue, but I do not see this as having an operational impact. There is little U.S and NATO experience opposing an adversary capable of employing EW measures against a friendly maneuver element. The operational impact has remained largely theoretical. That being the case, EM considerations have largely remained in the purview of the Cyber, Signal, and Air and Missile Defense communities, receiving much less subject matter expertise in battalion level infantry formations.

What An Artificial Intelligence Researcher Fears About AI

by Arend Hintze

As an artificial intelligence researcher, I often come across the idea that many people are afraid of what AI might bring. It's perhaps unsurprising, given both history and the entertainment industry, that we might be afraid of a cybernetic takeover that forces us to live locked away, "Matrix"-like, as some sort of human batteryAnd yet it is hard for me to look up from the evolutionary computer models I use to develop AI, to think about how the innocent virtual creatures on my screen might become the monsters of the future. Might I become "the destroyer of worlds," as Oppenheimer lamented after spearheading the construction of the first nuclear bomb?

Deception as a Pervasive and Elemental Force

by Chris Flaherty

The purpose of this short review is to present a different concept of deception, from how it is typically formulated in classical military doctrine as a tactical component, rather it should be viewed as a pervasive and elemental force in operations. The key argument will be that the world around us, is universally deceptive, and it is the successful ability of commanders in operations to who can bend this environment to advantage, one in which deception has synergistic effects. This approach is based on much earlier military writing, that pre-date the 20th century military doctrinal approach that identifies deception as part of a hierarchy of components, found in various operational concepts. Current doctrine formulations are not necessarily incorrect, as these represent a traditional 20th century approach that sought to harness the forces that shape operations converting these into guiding principles that didactically direct thinking, and planning. However, the doctrine components approach also represents a fundamental problem, ignoring that deception in military art has always had a fundamentally dualistic-role, it is about what impression is created in the opposing commanders’ mind; but it is also about the how the operational picture is distorted by the ‘fog of war’.

Hawaii and the Horror of Human Error


The Cold War came to an end, somehow, without any of the world’s tens of thousands of nuclear warheads being fired. But there were decades-worth of close calls, high alerts, and simple mistakes that inched world leaders shockingly close to catastrophe.Saturday’s terrifying, 38-minute episode in Hawaii will not go down as one of those close calls: Residents of the state waited for the bombs to fall after receiving text messages that a ballistic missile was on its way. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Sunday said “the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert”—a case of human error, in other words.