12 February 2018

India's New Gateway to Bhutan Northeast India could be Bhutan’s new gateway to the world.

By Nihar R. Nayak

India's New Gateway to Bhutan
Northeast India could be Bhutan’s new gateway to the world. 

Adding another feather to 50 years of diplomatic relations, Bhutan opened its second consulate office in eastern India on February 2, 2018 at Panjabari in Guwahati, Assam. Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay, who attended the Global Investors Summit 2018 hosted by Assam, was present at the inaugural ceremony. The office was inaugurated jointly by Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji and Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal. Later, in the opening session of the investment summit, Tobgay said, in The Shillong Times’ words, that “Bhutan stands to benefit from a prosperous Assam and the country was looking forward to capitalize on the Global Investors Summit.”

India’s Insular Dilemma in the Maldives Political Crisis


One hopes that Indian diplomats and national-security managers are doing some serious soul-searching about how and why events spun, so swiftly, out of control in neighbouring Maldives.

Given India's self-assigned role of regional "net security provider", the Integrated Defence Staff, in New Delhi, must be reviewing their plans for launching what they term an out of area contingency (OOAC) operation, at short notice. Should our military be called upon to render assistance to the Republic of Maldives, this will certainly not be for the first time.

For this newly formed Army unit, the stakes in Afghanistan will be high

By Dan Lamothe 

FORT POLK, La. — The silver bracelet Staff Sgt. Ryan Mathes wears memorializes the life of Sgt. Tanner Higgins, a friend and fellow Army Ranger who was killed in a firefight with the Taliban in 2012. 

Mathes joined the Army in 2009 just days out of high school as the Obama administration surged the number of troops in Afghanistan to more than 100,000. He often faced combat in the following years with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, as troop levels were eventually slashed and secure areas of the country again fell under Taliban control. 

Mapping Taliban Control in Afghanistan

Description: For nearly two decades the government of Afghanistan, with the help of U.S. and coalition forces, has been battling for control of the country against the ever-present threat of the Afghan Taliban. FDD’s Long War Journal has been tracking the Taliban’s attempts to gain control of territory since NATO ended its military mission in Afghanistan and switched to an “advise and assist” role in June 2014. Districts have been retaken (by both sides) only to be lost shortly thereafter, largely resulting in the conflict’s current relative stalemate. However, since the U.S. drawdown of peak forces in 2011, the Taliban has unquestionably been resurgent. 

Meet the Believers: The Afghanistan War’s US Commanders are Ready For a Reboot


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – There’s a new faith among the latest U.S. generals who have come to win the war in Afghanistan, but plenty of old realities. U.S. Central Command’s Gen. Joseph Votel, who is overseeing the Trump administration’s Afghanistan War reboot, came here to see its beginning and its promise of victory, with newly arriving squadrons of attack jets, howitzer cannons, and hundreds of specialized and experienced U.S. troops.

Just hours earlier, the 4-star distinguished visitor had been in Kabul discussing those plans at the Afghan Ministry of Defense when a suicide attacker detonated a massive car bomb disguised in an ambulance. Welcome back to the war.


Steven Aftergood
Secrecy News

Last year, dozens of categories of previously unclassified information about Afghan military forces were designated as classified, making it more difficult to publicly track the progress of the war in Afghanistan.

The categories of now-classified information were tabulated in a memo dated October 31, 2017 that was prepared by the staff of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko.

Maldives Crisis: What Is Wrong With India?


Maldivians regret the knee-jerk reaction of the Indian strategic community and the media, which have neither the time nor interest in their nation and its people unless China or IS or both get a free mention.

Maldivian opposition supporters shout slogans during a protest as they the urge the government to obey a Supreme Court order to release and retry political prisoners, including an ex-president in Male, Maldives.

India and the Maldives Emergency

By Sudha Ramachandran

Doing nothing is not an option, but there are few good choices for India. 

The political crisis in the Maldives is escalating dangerously, with President Abdulla Yameen declaring a state of political emergency in the country.

With the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) calling on neighboring India to militarily intervene to end the crisis, all eyes are on Delhi. Will India intervene militarily in the Maldives, as it did 30 years ago?

China’s Evolving Nuclear Strategy: Will China Drop “No First Use?”

By: Nan Li

The PLA Rocket Force is continuing to upgrade its missile forces and shift its emphasis from a posture of immobile and vulnerable positions hidden deep in mountains to a highly mobile and more survivable mode. A new CCTV documentary also reveals that China’s multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) DF-41 will begin active service in 2018 (PLA Daily, December 25, 2017; People’s Daily Online, November 28, 2017).

MENU Search China’s Fourth Industrial Revolution: Artificial Intelligence


Bottom Line: China’s nationwide pursuit to become the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) is an attempt to not only match U.S. economic power, but to bypass it geo-strategically. While Beijing’s involvement is spurred by economic ambitions, it has made it clear that the development of AI will simultaneously be for military applications that could change the character of warfare and place the U.S. at a geopolitical disadvantage.

How Djibouti Became China's Gateway To Africa

By Dietmar Pieper

Djibouti, one of Africa's smallest countries, has become China's "strategic partner." The Chinese have built a military base and a port, and is currently constructing a free trade zone, fast establishing it as Beijing's gateway to the continent.

A police car appears in a cloud of red dust on the dirt road between the boulders. A young man in uniform opens the window and starts grousing in French. The Chinese men he is rebuking don't understand any of it, but slowly realize where the anger is coming from. They had forgotten to register with the sentry guarding the entrance to the large construction site above the coast.

New Photographs Show China's South China Sea Artificial Islands Like You've Never Seen Them

By Ankit Panda

A look at China’s militarization of its artificial islands in high resolution. 

The Philippines-based Inquirer has gotten its hands on high resolution aerial photographs of China’s seven artificial islands in the Spratly group in the South China Sea. The images are among the best we’ve seen of the remarkable facilities and equipment China has emplaced on these islands, which didn’t exist just five years ago.

How Dutch Spies Were Able To Outwit Russian Hackers


Since at least 2010, the Russian state-sponsored hacking group Cozy Bearhas been implicated in cyber attacks around the world, penetrating networks belonging to the U.S. State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Democratic National Committee, and targeting other systems around the world from Norway to Brazil.

Their targets have often seemingly struggled to keep up with the attacks–the Pentagon in 2015 reportedly took thousands of unclassified email accounts offline for at least 10 days to recover from a hack by the group, and Cozy Bear is said to have had access to DNC systems for about a year before being discovered.

Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? (Op-ed)

In December 2017, Vladimir Putin triumphantly declared Russia’s victory in Syria. Addressing troops during a surprise visit to the Khmeimim airbase, he also announced a partial withdrawal of forces. “The homeland is waiting for you, friends. Godspeed!” he said. 

Although Russia’s intervention on the side of Bashar Assad did meet with marked success, Putin’s declaration was little more than political theater timed for the upcoming presidential campaign in March — Russia has already announced troop reductions in Syria three times.

Russia’s Disinformation Offensive

by Clifford D. 

Just so there’s no confusion: This column is not about Americans conspiring or colluding or coordinating with Russians. That’s a separate controversy about which I don’t have a lot to say at this moment.

What this column is about: Dezinformatsiya, the Russian word that gave birth, in the 1980s, to the English neologism “disinformation.” Understand that disinformation is not a synonym for misinformation. The later implies information that happens to be wrong. The former implies an attempt to deceive public opinion for strategic purposes.

America Needs to Prepare for a Great Power War

Alan L. Gropman

Planning for mobilization is cheap, but failing to do so could be outrageously expensive.

Mobilization of American society for World War II was a major factor in the Allied victory. More importantly, it was the foremost reason for the extreme disparity between American military deaths and those of our enemies. Germany lost ten times more military killed in action than the United States, and Japan lost nine times as many. The raw figures are 292,000 Americans and 2,900,000 Germans—and Germany had a population only 60 percent of that of the United States. The ratio with Japan was similar. The United States also out produced both enemies, building double the combined Axis output. That industrial output (a generous part of which went to our allies) mattered immensely, as the figures above indicate.

Dark Money: How Militants Exploit Hawala to Fund Terror


Bottom Line: For terrorists, moving money covertly through hawala networks to circumvent institutionalized banking systems remains one of their leading methods of avoiding detection. The U.S. has managed to unearth and even sanction certain illicit hawala networks, but terrorists continue to exploit this centuries old, nearly untraceable practice to finance their operations around the world.

Background: Hawala, which means “transfer” in Arabic, is an informal transaction system based largely on mutual trust. 

PACIFIC MONEY What Now for Economic Integration in the Asia-Pacific? Image Credit: Michael Valdon What Now for Economic Integration in the Asia-Pacific?

By Mie Oba

In January, Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese minister in charge of economic revitalization, announced that an agreement had been reached on TPP-11, absent the United States, and that it was set to be signed this March. Several days later, U.S. President Donald J. Trump attracted considerable attention for remarks hinting at the United States returning to the TPP. The evidence took the form of a speech delivered by Trump at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, and an interview with U.S. media outlet CNBC he gave just before his speech.

The Collapse of Venezuela’s Economy and the Growing Potential for Violence


This is not going to end well. Government control in Venezuelan is collapsing along with the economy and much else. The government refuses to deal with political opponents or acknowledge the fact that most Venezuelans would vote the current government out of office if they had the chance. The currency is worthless, most commercial enterprises have been driven out of business or simply shut down by the government. In GDP terms the economy is about half what it was in 2013, when the crises accelerated because of falling oil prices and the death of the charismatic founder of the socialist state in Venezuela.

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality

By Karen Harris

Demographics, automation and inequality have the potential to dramatically reshape our world in the 2020s and beyond. Our analysis shows that the collision of these forces could trigger economic disruption far greater than we have experienced over the past 60 years (see Figure 1). The aim of this report by Bain's Macro Trends Group is to detail how the impact of aging populations, the adoption of new automation technologies and rising inequality will likely combine to give rise to new business risks and opportunities. These gathering forces already pose challenges for businesses and investors. In the next decade, they will combine to create an economic climate of increasing extremes but may also trigger a decade-plus investment boom.

Researchers are sounding the alarm on cyberbiosecurity

By: Brandon Knapp  

Cyberbiosecurity advocates are sounding the alarm about the enormous risks posed by the biotech industry's increased reliance on computer-controlled instruments and networks. 

About two years ago, James Clapper, then the U.S. director of national intelligence, officially added genome editing to a list of threats posed to national security. Clapper’s concern was with genomic editing research “conducted by countries with different regulatory or ethical standards than those of Western countries.”


By Ian Graber-Stiehl

In cramped quarters at Russia’s Higher School of Economics, shared by four students and a cat, sat a server with 13 hard drives. The server hosted Sci-Hub, a website with over 64 million academic papers available for free to anybody in the world. It was the reason that, one day in June 2015, Alexandra Elbakyan, the student and programmer with a futurist streak and a love for neuroscience blogs, opened her email to a message from the world’s largest publisher: “YOU HAVE BEEN SUED.”

It wasn’t long before an administrator at Library Genesis, another pirate repository named in the lawsuit, emailed her about the announcement. “I remember when the administrator at LibGen sent me this news and said something like ‘Well, that’s... that’s a real problem.’ There’s no literal translation,” Elbakyan tells me in Russian. “It’s basically ‘That’s an ass.’ But it doesn’t translate perfectly into English. It’s more like ‘That’s fucked up. We’re fucked.’”

Latest Edition of Special Warfare Magazine

H/T Dave Maxwell - For those with in interest in SOF in the Asia-Pacific Region the latest edition of Special Warfare Magazine from the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School has about 90+ pages of articles.

Here is the TOC


06 | SOCPAC Overview and Map 

08 | In Depth: SOCPAC Commander 

9 Lessons on Power and Leadership from Genghis Khan

On one end of the leadership spectrum, there is Machiavelli–conniving, ambitious and ruthless. On the other there is Cyrus the Great–humble, generous and loyal. Along this spectrum of great leaders and motivators, used so often in business books, speeches and anecdotes, there is one unmentionable: Genghis Khan. A man so evil, unwashed and bloodthirsty that he is impossible to learn from.

Or so the efforts to suppress his influence would have us believe. (The USSR, for instance, cleared out Khan's homeland in Mongolia and forbade any mention of him.) But I'm here to tell you that we can learn more about leadership and getting things done from Genghis Khan than just about any other historical figure. Because almost everything you know about him is wrong...

A Requiem for Vietnam


A friend recently called my attention to a symposium on “The Meaning of Vietnam” that appeared in the June 12, 1975 issue of the New York Review of Books. Just weeks before, Saigon had fallen and the Republic of Vietnam had passed out of existence. The editors of the NYRB considered the moment opportune for some of the paper’s regular contributors—leading lights of the East Coast intelligentsia—to assess the war’s significance and implications. 

In retrospect, we may judge the effort both presumptuous and wildly premature. True, President Gerald Ford had already declared the war “finished as far as America is concerned” and was urging his countrymen to move on. It was past time, Ford insisted, for Americans to “stop refighting the battles and the recriminations of the past.”