26 April 2018

Reforming defence planning in India

Source Link
Harsh V. Pant Apr 24 2018.

Finally, a significant change seems to be in the offing in India’s defence planning architecture with the Narendra Modi government deciding to establish an overarching defence planning committee (DPC) under the national security adviser. The aim is to leverage this cross-governmental body—comprising the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, three service chiefs, the defence, expenditure and foreign secretaries—to enhance India’s ability to do some long-term strategizing.
The DPC is being tasked with drafting reports on “national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, road map to build a defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports, and priority capability development plans”. Four subcommittees are to be created under the DPC to focus on policy and strategy, plans and capability development, defence diplomacy, and the defence manufacturing ecosystem.
This decision comes at a time when Indian defence planning stands at a crossroads. The silo-driven approach to defence planning has resulted in the lack of an integrated view. The three services as well as the civilian and defence agencies are often seen to be working at cross purposes. Such an ad hoc approach has meant that more often than not, issues like threat perception and force structure are not managed via a centralized and authoritative overview. Instead, individual services tend to be driving the agenda at their own levels.

India Shelves FGFA Project – Where to Now?

by Dan Darling, 
After years of stalled negotiations with Russia, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is pulling the plug on an 11-year collaborative effort to develop and produce a fifth-generation fighter that would be used by both countries. The IAF opted to walk away from the project due to lingering differences over developmental costs, technology capabilities, and other points of contention – particularly what it feels is a lack of sufficient stealth for a fifth-generation aircraft.
Though Indian officials have stated that they might revisit the project at a later date or simply purchase the aircraft off the shelf once it has been inducted into service with the Russian Air Force, it appears likely that time and cost pressures have combined to push the IAF in a different direction.

The IAF is sorely in need of modern replacements for its aging platforms and seeks a stealth combat aircraft to comprise part of the high end requirement of its multi-role array of jet fighters. Therefore, leaving the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) program – code-named Project 79L Perspective Multi-Role Fighter (PMRF) by the Indian Ministry of Defense – renders the IAF short a declared requirement.
With the IAF in need of covering a lot of ground quickly in order to make up for a shortage of numbers – plus the stated requirement of a stealth fighter with advanced combat avionics, sensors, and radars – there is now a lot of pressure for the service to find a solution within the next 5-6 years as platform retirements begin to shrink an already-stressed fighter fleet.

One Step Forward, One Step Back for PLA Military Education

By Ying Yu Lin,  April 25, 2018

CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s sweeping reorganization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2016 was meant to shake up ossified bureaucracies, boost operational jointness and technical ability, and refocus the PLA on its mission to “fight and win wars” (China Brief, January 12). It is thus unsurprising that military academies and schools in China have seen significant reorganization since the initiation of the 2016 reforms, with some changes modeled on the training systems used in the United States and Taiwan. While some progress has been made towards desired outcomes, including combatting entrenched corruption within the PLA officer corps, significant obstacles remain, particularly in building cooperation across branches within services, and promoting the civil-military cooperation necessary for an effective civilian office reserve corps.

Before and After the Reforms
Prior to the 2016 reforms, PLA military education was jointly controlled by each of the four general departments of the Central Military Commission (CMC). In the 2016 military reforms, the four general departments of the CMC were re-organized and transformed into 15 functional departments and organs. (Xinhuanet ,Dec.18, 2017). After the disbandment of the four general departments in the 2016 military reforms, all military academies and schools have been placed under the joint control of the CMC Training and Administration Department (CMCTAD), and the appropriate service branch (TAKUN, July 29, 2017).

According to open source information, there were a total of 67 military academies and schools in China before the military reforms, with 15 attached to the People’s Armed Police (PAP) alone. With the new military structure in place, the number has now dropped to 43, which were made public by China’s Ministry of National Defense in June 2017 (Xinhuanet, June.30, 2017). They include two schools directly subordinate to the CMC, namely the National Defense University (NDU) and National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), 35 under the control of the services and service branches, and six belonging to the People’s Armed Police (PAP).

New Russian Missiles May Be Aimed East

By Norman Friedman, April 25, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin devoted a March 2018 speech on the state of Russia to a series of five spectacular “new” strategic weapons—though all have been known to the West for years. All five—the Sarmat ballistic missile, the Avangard hypersonic maneuvering reentry vehicle, the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic cruise missile, the Status-6 nuclear-powered autonomous underwater vehicle, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile—have Cold War antecedents. Only the cruise missile amounted to news, though analysts were aware of it even if the media were not. In spite of Putin’s declarations that some are operational—and “invincible”— he illustrated his remarks with paintings on slides, not with photographs of actual hardware. (An anonymous U.S. official told CNN there have been several unsuccessful tests of the nuclear-powered cruise missile, all ending in crashes.)Some commentators see Putin’s announcement as an attempt to force the West to take him more seriously, while others point to his reelection campaign. Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center show that the Russian population blames the West and international sanctions, rather than the Russian government, for the poor state of the economy. Putin’s claim of overwhelming strength is doubtless very popular domestically, where U.S. work on strategic missile defense generally has been taken as a direct attack on Russia instead of as protection against small numbers of ballistic missiles in the hands of rogue regimes, particularly those of Iran and North Korea.

It seems significant that Putin did not unveil some exotic means of defending Russia against Western strategic weapons. Effective large-scale missile defense is the only way the nuclear balance of power can be tipped, but neither Russia nor the United States can buy enough strategic interceptors to defend completely against the quantity of nuclear weapons the other already has. Without a new missile defense shield, Putin merely is threatening the West with what Russia has been able to do for decades. Nuclear weapons are a relatively inexpensive form of military power, made even cheaper if—thanks to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty—they never need to be demonstrated.

Beijing’s Ambitions in the South China Sea: How Should Europe Respond?

By Nicola Casarini, 23 April 2018 

Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea is putting Europe’s economic interests in the area at risk. More than one third of Europe’s external trade takes place with the Indo-Pacific region and any escalation of tensions in this area will undoubtedly have a direct impact on Europe.
China has recently stepped up territorial and maritime claims over large swaths of the South China Sea. These claims are not only based on economic and security considerations, but also on national identity and the renewal of China’s past grandeur. President Xi Jinping’s reiteration of his vision of a “Chinese dream”, as most recently outlined during the 13th National People’s Congress held in Beijing in March 2018, reflects these efforts to rebrand China’s image and polish its credentials as a global actor.[1]

Xi’s closing speech at the 2018 National People’s Congress chimed with an increasingly assertive foreign policy, in particular when he cited China’s island-building campaign in the South China Sea as one of the key accomplishments of his presidency. This implicitly linked his vision of a Chinese dream and the rejuvenation of the country with the idea of restoring the glory of the ancient times, when China presided over a Sino-centric order in East Asia

Blue China: Navigating the Maritime Silk Road to Europe

Policy Brief

China’s Maritime Silk Road is about power and international influence, but Europeans should not overlook the importance for China of further developing its blue economy, which already represents 10 percent of China’s GDP.

The Maritime Silk Road already affects Europe in five main areas: maritime trade, shipbuilding, emerging growth niches in the blue economy, the global presence of the Chinese navy, and the competition for international influence.

On balance, the Maritime Silk Road creates more competition in Europe-China relations, but it also creates space for cooperation in the blue economy and for specific maritime security missions.

Europe should emulate China’s blue economy as an engine of growth and wealth, and encourage innovation to respond to well-funded Chinese industrial and R&D policies.
Europeans should strengthen their contribution to maintaining a strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific region and uphold their vision of a rules-based maritime order.

China in the Pacific: where there’s smoke, there’s mirrors

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/04/23/china-in-the-pacific-where-theres-smoke-theres-mirrors/23 April 2018
Author: Jon Fraenkel, Victory University of Wellington
A Fairfax news report that ‘preliminary discussions’ were held between the Chinese and Vanuatu governments about the establishment of a naval base at a Beijing-funded wharf in Luganville is causing quite a stir in Australia. The US$87 million wharf was funded by a loan from China’s EXIM bank to allow cruise ships to dock on the island. But some US and Australian intelligence analysts fear that it could provide port facilities for Chinese warships less than 2000 kilometres from Australia’s east coast.

While the original Sydney Morning Herald story acknowledged that there had as yet been ‘no formal proposals’, that qualification vanished in The Diplomat’s report that China had ‘formally approached’ Vanuatu about a ‘permanent military base’. ‘Clearly the Chinese are serious about establishing a military base in the Pacific’ claimed Malcolm Davis from the Department of Defence-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute, speculating ‘my guess is there’s a Trojan horse operation here that eventually will set up a large facility that is very modern and very well-equipped’. Even Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed ‘grave concern’ about the risk of a Chinese naval facility in the Oceania region.

Taliban announce the start of their annual spring offensive, dismiss peace overtures

Taliban announce spring offensive, dismiss peace overtures 
Reuters, April 24, 2018

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive on Wednesday, dismissing an offer for peace talks by President Ashraf Ghani but pledging to focus on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The announcement of the Al Khandaq campaign, named after the so-called Battle of the Trench, fought by the Prophet Mohammad to defend the city of Medina in the early days of Islam, marks the symbolic start of the fighting season.
But heavy fighting has been going on in different parts of the country and hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in a series of high profile attacks in Kabul since the beginning of the year, despite Ghani’s offer in February for peace talks “without preconditions”.

The Taliban, in their statement on Wednesday, dismissed the peace overtures as a “conspiracy”.
“Their main effort is to deviate public opinion from the illegitimate foreign occupation of the country, as the Americans have no serious or sincere intentions of bringing the war to an end,” the Taliban said.
The militants, fighting to restore their version of strict Islamic law to Afghanistan, said the campaign was a response to a more aggressive U.S. military strategy adopted last year, which aims to force the militants into peace talks.
“Its primary target will be the American invaders and their intelligence agents. Their internal supporters will be dealt with as a secondary target,” the Taliban said.

Beijing’s Ambitions in the South China Sea: How Should Europe Respond?

By Nicola Casarini

Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea is putting Europe’s economic interests in the area at risk. More than one third of Europe’s external trade takes place with the Indo-Pacific region and any escalation of tensions in this area will undoubtedly have a direct impact on Europe. China has recently stepped up territorial and maritime claims over large swaths of the South China Sea. These claims are not only based on economic and security considerations, but also on national identity and the renewal of China’s past grandeur. President Xi Jinping’s reiteration of his vision of a “Chinese dream”, as most recently outlined during the 13th National People’s Congress held in Beijing in March 2018, reflects these efforts to rebrand China’s image and polish its credentials as a global actor.[1]

Propaganda delivered the Brexit vote but it can’t land more fish

Mon 23 Apr 2018
British skippers weren’t denied fair quotas by the EU, Britain let them sell their fishing rights to foreign boats
Standing on the shingle of Hastings beach beside his fishing boat, Paul Joy says his family have fished these waters since before the time of William the Conqueror. He’s done the research, and the Joys have had boats here since records began. His boat had been out at dawn that morning, hugging the coastline with a skipper, two crew and the “boy” ashore, aged 80, who winches the Kaya up the pebbles with a rusty bulldozer. “My father, Will, born in 1906, made an adequate living with a smaller boat than mine. Now everyone subsidises fishing with other work. I earned the same as a carpenter, now you’re lucky to get a Tesco shelf-stacker’s pay.” Fishing quotas are killing the small fishermen, he says.

Stand here to breathe in the heart of Brexit. Last week, in ports around the country, fishing boats protested – sending up flares to oppose the transition dealthat leaves them in the common fisheries policy (CFP), but without a seat at the EU table sharing out the fish. Protest organisers said: “We are sickened by remainers gleefully peddling the deliberate narrative that fishing doesn’t matter.”
Does it matter? The fishing industry is worth less than 0.5% of GDP. They rightly fear this pinprick to the economy will be traded for bigger prizes – finance, cars, pharma, airline routes. Why else, they ask, is the government’s fisheries white paper delayed time and again? Thirteen Rees-Moggites and one DUP MP swear they’ll vote down any deal unless the UK breaks from the CFP. As these hard Brexiteers want no deal anyway, fishing is their perfect pretext, though no deal would be the fishermen’s apocalypse.

Why should France tolerate Islamic intolerance?


Gavin Mortimer, 22 April 2018
Why has the refusal of France to grant a passport to an Algerian woman who declined to shake the hand of a state official at her citizenship ceremony because of her “religious beliefs” made the BBC website? Picked up by other news’ outlets, including the New York Times, it’s not unreasonable to infer that the subtext is: there go the French again, discriminating against Muslims. If it’s not the burka or the burkini, it’s a handshake.
But why would any western country welcome a woman who shuns one of its oldest and most courteous customs? If she finds shaking hands with a man beyond the pale, one is entitled to suspect she may not look too favourably on gays and Jews. Anti-Semitism is now so profound in France that on Sunday 250 well-known figures, including Nicolas Sarkozy and Manuel Valls, signed a letter warning that the country’s Jews are victims of “ethnic purging” at the hands of “radical Islamists”.

Government posters are a common sight in France, reminding all citizens that it is against French law to cover one’s face in public. They say: ‘La République se vit à visage découvert’ [The Republic lives with its face uncovered]. Nonetheless, a small number of women continue to defy the law, such as the one in Toulouse who refused to show her face to police when asked last Sunday. She theninsulted the police and was arrested, sparking three days of rioting by local youths.

The Shadow War Between Israel and Iran Takes Center Stage

by Ishaan Tharoor – Washington Post

The rumblings of an open conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria are growing louder. When President Trump launched yet another one-off missile salvo against the Syrian regime, it came on the heels of a suspected April 9 Israeli strike on an Iranian facility at a Syrian air base, which drew howls of condemnation from the regime's patrons in Moscow and Tehran.

Though Israel didn't acknowledge responsibility for the attack, it fit a familiar pattern. Since 2012, the Israelis are believed to have launched more than 100 strikes on suspected Iranian-linked positions in Syria . Israeli officials privately argue that these measures are necessary to prevent a permanent Iranian threat on their borders and stymie the flow of weaponry to Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

“No matter the price, we will not allow a noose to form around us,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio over the weekend . But he cautioned against talk of outright hostilities. “I hope not," he said when asked whether war was imminent. “I think that our primary role is to prevent war, and that requires concrete, real deterrence as well as readiness to act." ...

Israel’s Got Its Own Refugee Dilemma: African ‘Dreamers’

By Thomas L. FriedmanApril 24, 2018
ImageA protest in Tel Aviv this month against the Israeli government’s plan to deport African immigrants.
TEL AVIV — It’s been obvious to me for some time that the Israeli-Arab conflict is to wider global geopolitical trends what Off Broadway is to Broadway. If you want a hint of what’s coming to a geopolitical theater near you, study this region. You can see it all here in miniature. That certainly applies to what’s becoming the most destabilizing and morally wrenching geopolitical divide on the planet today — the divide between what I call the “World of Order” and the “World of Disorder.”
And Israel is right on the seam — which is why the last major fence Israel built was not to keep West Bank Palestinians from crossing into Israel but to keep more Africans from walking from their homes in Africa, across the Sinai Desert, into Israel.

So many new nations that were created in the last century are failing or falling apart under the stresses of population explosions, climate change, corruption, tribalism and unemployment. As these states deteriorate, they’re hemorrhaging millions of people — more refugees and migrants are on the road today than at any other time since World War II — people trying to get out of the violent and unstable World of Disorder and into the World of Order.
The Broadway versions are the vast number of migrants from failing states in Central America trying to get into the U.S. and from the Arab world and Africa trying to get into Europe. The Off Broadway version is playing out in Israel, to which, since 2012, roughly 60,000 Africans from Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia have trekked — not to find kosher food, Al Aqsa Mosque or the Via Dolorosa, but stability and a job.

Trump and the North Korean Tipping Point

By ARTHUR HERMAN, April 24, 2018 

The president’s potential meeting with Kim Jong Un would come at a time when American foreign policy is rapidly changing.
The world has been stunned by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s announcement last week that he was suspending his country’s nuclear tests in preparation for the impending meeting with President Trump. Even critics have had to concede that Trump’s bellicose rhetoric since last summer regarding the North Korean threat may have actually paid off — especially when his “speak loudly and wave a big stick” approach to foreign policy is backed by the real use of force, as demonstrated by the recent air strikes in Syria.
How sincere are Kim’s promises? Trump skeptics like to point out that Kim has announced suspensions of his nuclear program before. But Kim made one other concession last week that has gone largely unnoticed but is even more significant for the future: He withdrew his previous demand that U.S. troops leave the Korean peninsula before any discussion of denuclearization. That means any deal struck on shutting down North Korea’s nuclear program may well be separate from the status of U.S. forces in Korea — and America’s strategic role in the region.

Do Israel’s Targeted Killings Work?

April 24, 2018
Mohammed Ayoob, The National Interest

Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman’s Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations is a remarkable work of nonfiction. Written like a fast-paced thriller, it provides a detailed history and analysis of almost all of Israel’s major (successful and unsuccessful) attempts to assassinate its presumed enemies. These include the killing of Abu Jihad, the PLO’s de facto military chief; the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas’s chief ideologue and spiritual mentor; the murder of Imad Mughnieh, the brain behind Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli targets; and many other lesser-known figures.

It also includes accounts of the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, which Israeli intelligence agencies undertook in order to derail Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Bergman even hints at Israel’s complicity in Yasser Arafat’s death, although he refuses to endorse or refute this conclusion. The only major adversary that Israel has not been able to kill despite its best efforts is Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah. Incidentally, the only major botched operation, according to Bergman, was Israel’s failure to kill Khaled Meshal, another leading light of Hezbollah.

By the end of the book, one begins to wonder how and why the Israeli censors, who have often been at loggerheads with Bergman, allowed the publication of this tell-all book, since it portrays Israel in a negative light as a leading perpetrator of state terrorism. In fact, Bergman admits Israel’s culpability at the very beginning of the book when he writes, “Since World War II, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world.”

Technological Innovation and the Geopolitics of Energy

By Severin Fischer for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

In this article, Severin Fischer discusses three of the most important recent and upcoming technological advancements in energy – horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, photovoltaics and batteries – and their potential impact on international politics. Further, he outlines why China and the US will have the biggest impact on future discussions on the geopolitics of energy. This article was originally published in Strategic Trends 2018 by the Center for Security Studies on 13 April 2018. Technological change has a tremendous impact on societies in general, including international politics. This chapter discusses the most important recent and upcoming technological advancements in energy – horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, photovoltaics, and batteries – and their possible influence on geopolitical dynamics. For different reasons, China and the US will have the biggest impact on the way we will discuss the geopolitics of energy in the future.

How will FinTech and digital currencies transform central banking

Eswar Prasad

This working paper will be presented at an event on the implications of digital currencies for central banks. While the advent of decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has dominated the headlines, a broader set of changes wrought by advances in technology are likely to eventually have a more profound and lasting impact on central banks. While it is premature to speak of disruption of traditional concepts of central banking, it is worth considering if the looming changes to money, financial markets, and payment systems will have significant repercussions for the operation of central banks and their ability to deliver on key objectives such as low inflation and financial stability. New forms of money and new channels for moving funds within and between economies could also have implications for international capital flows and exchange rates, which are of particular relevance for emerging market central banks.

Why DoD is starting a new cyber cell on the Korean Peninsula

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Department of Defense is establishing a new cyber planning cell on the Korean Peninsula to in response to the threat from North Korea. The small team, known as a cyber operations-integrated planning elements (CO-IPE), will help better coordinate offensive and defensive cyber tools with traditional military operations. While U.S. Cyber Command is standing up cyber planning cells locally at all the combatant command headquarters, a Cyber Command spokesman said U.S. Forces Korea is the only sub-unified command with a team. “Given North Korea’s activities, the decision to establish a CO-IPE at the sub-unified level was well-advised,” the spokesman said.

Why Israel is Keeping Its Warplanes Close to Home

Israel has withdrawn a squadron of fighter jets from a high-profile multinational military exercise in the United States and given them orders to stay in country. The move highlights Israel's deepinging concern over rising tensions with Iran and its need for greater readiness along its northern border with Syria. Instead of participating in a high-profile U.S. military air combat exercise in Alaska that starts April 30, the Israeli Defense Forces ordered a squadron of its fighter jets — likely the 69th Squadron, equipped with F-15I Ra'am strike fighters — to remain in Israel, while other of its air force assets have been allowed to proceed. Given that the U.S. Red Flag exercises require substantial preparation and confer valuable experience, Israel would not have made the decision to keep its fighters home lightly. The withdrawal, announced April 17, indicates a heightened probability that a cycle of escalation and confrontation between Iran (and, by extension, Hezbollah) and Israel lies ahead.

Has a Bull Oil Market Returned?

Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers may reach their goal of reducing global oil inventories to their five-year average by the next OPEC meeting, scheduled for June. With that part of the strategy complete, Saudi Arabia is seeing other reasons — including boosting the valuation of Saudi Aramco — to support higher prices. But it's not just Saudi Arabia's strategy that has helped bring oil prices to their highest level since November 2014; structural factors that have leaned heavily on oil producers like Venezuela and the prospects for production in Libya and Iran have contributed to the higher prices.


Connor Love and Jeff Hubler | April 24, 2018

It was four years ago that the military began to seriously look at leveraging an expanded range of military technologies to include robotics and autonomous systems. Like any major change in such a large organization, this “Third Offset Strategy” has taken a while to put into action. It was not until last month that the Trump administration revealed a new $686 billion defense budget to fund many of those technological developments. While our military should continue to develop the newest, most lethal and precise weaponry, it should do so with the realization that even increased technological development will not provide decisive victory in US military conflicts abroad. To produce desired military effects, the US military must also focus resources and attention on its most important asset: its people.

Gen. Robert Brown, commander of US Army Pacific, echoed this sentiment in his 2014 Human Dimension white paper: “Material solutions alone will not provide the decisive edge against the complex array of rapidly adapting threats we face.” However, here we are, four years later, with no major changes in the way we develop, train, or enhance the cognitive and social abilities of our soldiers. Furthermore, the Pentagon has emphasized the importance of making the most foundational formation in our Army, the infantry squad, as lethal as possible. Unfortunately, we have approached lethality with an extremely narrow lens, focusing on physical technology like better weapons, optics, and body armor instead of focusing on the soldier who employs those tools.


by David Brennan -Newsweek

The first airstrike ever launched from an unmanned drone was a failure . On October 7, 2001—the first night of the war in Afghanistan—a CIA Predator drone buzzed above a compound where Taliban leader Mullah Omar and his senior commanders were gathered.
But rather than decapitating the Taliban leadership, the strike only blew up a truck parked outside. Alerted to the danger, Omar and his commanders fled into the night.
Despite the outcome, the mission was a watershed moment. Some 16 years later, drone technology has revolutionized the way the U.S. fights wars. Drone technology is used on battlefields on land, at sea, and will soon even be in space.

But drones—or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—are no longer used only by top-tier military powers. The advent of relatively cheap recreational UAVs has made them available to those without the resources to invest in military research and development. According to a report from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) , more than 90 countries and nonstate groups field drones, and 30 have weaponized the
The spread of UAV technology to militants represents the next evolution of warfare by remote control, whereby terrorist groups can build de facto air forces. Weaponized drones are often low-tech but potentially deadly.
The Islamic State military group (ISIS ), for example, was able to import and construct hundreds—if not thousands—of inexpensive and portable drones, using them to terrorize their enemies on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. When ISIS’s Mosul bastion finally fell in the summer of 2017, Iraqi forces found dozens of drone factories

Why Syria may be the most aggressive electronic warfare environment on Earth

By: Mark Pomerleau   
Adversaries in Syria are jamming communications and even disrupting AC-130 aircraft.
Syria today presents the “most aggressive [electronic warfare] environment on the planet from our adversaries,” according to the head of Special Operations Command.
Speaking before an audience at the annual GEOINT symposium April 24 in Tampa, Florida, Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas said adversaries are testing the U.S. every day.
This, he said, has come in the form of knocking down communications and disabling AC-130 aircraft.

While he did not specifically name any one perpetrator, it is well known that Russia not only possesses advanced EW capabilities, but has deployed it on battlefields in Syria and Eastern Ukraine.
“They have used Syria as a testing ground for not just aircraft, but also their munitions as well,” Air Force Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, deputy chief of staff for ISR, said of the Russians at a January event in Washington.
“I would highlight they have fired off cruise missiles; they have fired off air-to-air missiles; they have used long-range aviation; they have conducted really what I could characterize as their first away-game operations in a complete and continuous deployment arena.”

Cyber Week in Review: April 20, 2018

by Adam Segal

Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:

1. Banned! Following a lengthy legal battle, a Moscow court gave Roskomnadzor, the country's internet regulator, the green light to block accessto Telegram, a messenger app with over fifteen million users in Russia. Under a 2016 counter-terrorism law, Telegram is required to maintain the ability to decrypt messages for law enforcement purposes but the company has refused to comply. On Monday, Roskomnadzor ordered Russian internet service providers to block IP addresses associated with Telegram. That prompted the app developers to move to new and unblocked IP addresses, triggering a game of whack-a-mole. By Tuesday, Roskomnadzor had ordered the blocking of over 19 million IP addresses, including those associated with Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Services that host Russian websites and services. The collateral damage was such that small business leaders began pleading with the Russian Attorney General’s Office to reign Roskomnadzor in, and Vladimir Putin's advisor on internet issues suggested the regulator apologize. Roskomnadzor has also ordered Google and Apple to remove Telegram from their respective app stores, though no word yet on whether they have complied. Short of deploying a Chinese-style great firewall, Russia's attempts at blocking the app are unlikely to be successful, especially given its popularity with the elite