4 August 2018

Faced by rank disparity, Indian Army plans to remove brigadiers


The Indian Army is actively considering abolishing the rank of brigadier as part of its plans to restructure the officer cadre. It reasons that this will provide younger commanders, which is absurd; colonels promoted to major-general (instead of brigadier) but commanding brigades will be at the same age. But the question is, where will all this stop? Will a subsequent cadre restructuring after another decade recommend brigades to be commanded by lieutenant-generals? In the past, colonels in the infantry were directly promoted as brigadiers. Those promoted as colonels commanded regimental centers and went home. Later, the lieutenant rank was abolished, which buried the concept of a senior subaltern. Colonels, instead of lieutenant-colonels, started commanding battalions, while the latter commanded infantry companies.

Is India the Weakest Link in the Quad?

by Derek Grossman

Since the Trump administration's announcement that it seeks a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, observers have spilled much ink on the revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, to achieve this objective. The Quad—an informal consultative mechanism comprising the United States, Australia, Japan, and India—is quietly opposed to China's continued militarization of and attempts to control strategic waterways throughout the region, namely the South China Sea. The group met most recently last November, and again in June, after 10 years of inactivity. But the fate of the Quad is still fragile. Indeed, the first attempt at the Quad died on the vine because then-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd withdrew over concerns that the Quad needlessly antagonized China. Today, however, following a burst of concern about Chinese influence, Australia is all in. So are the United States and Japan. That leaves India, where New Delhi may be getting cold feet.

Imran Khan’s Shine Won’t Last as Pakistan’s Prime Minister


Playing before a crowd of nearly 90,000 people on a pitch in Australia, Pakistan’s national cricket team defeated England to win the sport’s world cup. For the first time in its 45-year existence, cricket-mad Pakistan was the champion of the world. Back home, euphoric Pakistanis poured out of their homes to celebrate. It was, in the words of cricket writer Mohammad Ramis, “the jubilation of their lives.” Pakistan’s squad was led by 40-year-old team captain Imran Khan, a star batter and bowler then in the twilight of an illustrious career. Fast-forward to today. Khan, now a star politician, is poised to become Pakistan’s next prime minister after his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party triumphed in elections last week.

CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Speaks with CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera Today

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: The president during his news conference with the prime minister of Italy said he would meet with the president of Iran with no preconditions. Are you onboard with that? Is that a good idea? MIKE POMPEO: I am, indeed. We-- we've said this before. We-- we-- the President wants to meet with folks to solve problems. If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people-- reduce their maligned behavior, can agree that it's worthwhile to-- enter in a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he's prepared to sit down and have a conversation with him.

Bailing out Pakistan

By Jed Babbin

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is not a model of stability. It just elected a new prime minister after a campaign that featured widespread violence and election day bombings. The apparent loser has alleged vote-rigging in favor of his opponent, who was supported by the omnipresent Pakistani army. That’s one half of the context in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will soon consider another financial bailout for Pakistan, which has benefited from a dozen of them since the 1980s. The other half is the fact that Pakistan’s economy is in shambles due to large-scale corruption and a growing debt crisis. The money it owes other nations and non-Pakistani entities is more than 30 percent of its GDP partly because of the extensive loans it has received from China to build parts of CPEC, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, by which China is building roads, power plants, railroads and military bases in Pakistan.

Afghanistan: Recovering from the Brink of Economic Collapse?

by Javid Ahmad

As recently as four years ago, Afghanistan’s war economy was on the brink of collapse when unemployment soared following the departure of thousands of American and foreign forces that had, in effect, created a parallel economy. At the time, the Afghan government had no functioning fiscal policy, formal corruption and mismanagement beset its taxation and revenue collection efforts, and the national budget was unbalanced and disorganized, spent mostly on white elephant projects. Budgetary shortfalls and economic volatility were especially tough on the most vulnerable—the poor and the unemployed, who make up the bulk of the Afghan population.

All the Prime Minister’s Women


It was a hot day in mid-July when Salman Sufi found out that he had been fired. Until then, Sufi had been a senior member of the Punjab chief minister’s Special Monitoring Unit, where he had, among other things, developed and implemented the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act in 2016. The law was controversial, not least because it allowed for speedy hearings on cases, made special provisions for the development of women’s shelters, expedited procedures that allowed for the removal of abusive men from homes, and sought to implement GPS tracking of abusers. The country’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was committed to getting the reforms through in the province of Punjab, and Sufi was there to help it do so.

PLA's 91st anniversary: Xi Jinping's call for a strong army

By Li Zhao
Source Link

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) marks its 91st anniversary on Wednesday (August 1) amid a far-reaching modernization program. By the mid-21st century, China's army will be "fully transformed into a world-class force," General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commitee Xi Jinping pledged at the 19th CPC National Congress in October. The PLA is not only retaining its dedication to traditional requirements, but also building an elite combat force aided by advanced military technology.

Will Djibouti Become Latest Country to Fall Into China’s Debt Trap?


Djibouti lies more than 2,500 miles from Sri Lanka but the East African country faces a predicament similar to what its peer across the sea confronted last year: It has borrowed more money from China than it can pay back. In both countries, the money went to infrastructure projects under the aegis of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Sri Lanka racked up more than $8 billion worth of debt to Chinese sovereign-backed banks at interest rates as high as 7 percent, reaching a level too high to service. With nearly all its revenue going toward debt repayment, last year Sri Lanka resorted to signing over a 70 percent stake and a 99-year lease to the new Chinese-built port at Hambantota.

The China Threat Cannot Be Ignored

by Gordon G. Chang

The United States is provoking China by supporting Taiwan, at least according to Lyle Goldstein of the Naval War College. Writing on this site , he thinks America’s policy is exceedingly dangerous, even likening the United States to the Soviet Union. He sees a “Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse.” The Naval War College scholar suggests that the Pentagon decrease U.S. forces near China and move away from “offensive doctrines” that could result in escalation and ultimately war. Goldstein raises critical issues. He’s right to tell us war can start over Taiwan. That, however, will almost surely happen if Washington follows his advice and abandons the island republic to an unappeasable Chinese state.

Welcome to the modern military: China’s new combat units prepare for electronic warfare

Minnie Chan

The war games, which started on Monday and test reconnaissance, electronic communication, cybersecurity, air strikes and other battle skills, are aimed at increasing ground troops’ understanding of modern warfare, and fostering new strategic ground force commanders after a sweeping PLA overhaul. More than 50 combat units involving about 2,100 officers are taking part at five training bases. They include airborne troops, special forces and electronic warfare experts from ground forces from the Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern and Central command theatres, according to official social media accounts.

Will Djibouti Become Latest Country to Fall Into China’s Debt Trap?


Djibouti lies more than 2,500 miles from Sri Lanka but the East African country faces a predicament similar to what its peer across the sea confronted last year: It has borrowed more money from China than it can pay back. In both countries, the money went to infrastructure projects under the aegis of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Sri Lanka racked up more than $8 billion worth of debt to Chinese sovereign-backed banks at interest rates as high as 7 percent, reaching a level too high to service. With nearly all its revenue going toward debt repayment, last year Sri Lanka resorted to signing over a 70 percent stake and a 99-year lease to the new Chinese-built port at Hambantota.

Russia, China Are Outmaneuvering US: Generals Recommend New Authorities, Doctrine


China and Russia are outmaneuvering the US, using aggressive actions that fall short of war, a group of generals and admirals have concluded. To counter them, the US needs new ways to use its military without shooting, concludes a newly released report on the Quantico conclave. The US military will need new legal authorities and new concepts of operation for all domains — land, sea, air, space, and cyberspaceFrom Little Green Men in Crimea to fortified artificial islands in the South China Sea, from online meddling with US elections to global information operations and to industrial-scale cyber espionage, America’s adversaries have found ways to achieve their objectives and undermine the West without triggering a US military response, operating in what’s come to be called “the grey zone.” No less a figure than Defense Secretary Jim Mattis took on the topic in his National Defense Strategy and in this morning’s graduation address to the Naval Academy.

Pompeo's Indo-Pacific Speech: Geoeconomics on a Shoestring

By Ankit Panda

Monday was supposed to be a big day for the United States’ Indo-Pacific economic strategy. Ahead of a trip to Southeast Asia, where he will visit Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a break from North Korea diplomacy to show the Indo-Pacific region that the United States was thinking strategically about the geoeconomic future of the region. In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Indo-Pacific Business Forum, Pompeo outlined what is effectively the United States’ alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: the beginning of an attempt by the United States to add economic ballast to its calls to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Mike Pompeo's Plan to Deny China Exclusive Rights to the Indo-Pacific Region

by Salvatore Babones

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Indo-Pacific Business Forum Monday morning, he stressed the strategic importance of maintaining a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region. And he made it clear that when the United States says “free and open,” it means it. “When we say free, it means we want all nations to be able to protect their sovereignty from coercion . . . when we say open, it means we want all nations to be able to enjoy open access to seas and airways.” And he might have added: the internet. Of course, there’s one country in the Indo-Pacific that has a notoriously closed internet. China’s great firewall is a black hole at the heart of the Indo-Pacific internet. Chinese internet companies like Alibaba and Tencent are eager to expand throughout the region, but the Chinese government keeps its home market firmly closed.

China in Africa: win-win development, or a new colonialism?

Nick Van Mead 

As their hand-built wooden dhow approaches the shore, Ibrahim Chamume and his fellow fishermen take in the sail and prepare to sell their catch to the small huddle of villagers waiting on the white sand. He has been making a living like this on the Indian Ocean since he was 14. His father was a fisherman, too. Now in his 30s, Ibrahim says earning enough from traditional fishing is tough, but has its compensations. There is the view across the tranquil lagoon to the mangrove swamps; the unspoiled beaches and bays; the lush vegetation and smallholdings growing maize, cassava, cashews and mango. Such scenes must have played out in the tiny Tanzanian village of Mlingotini for centuries.

Cities of the New Silk Road: what is China's Belt and Road project? Show

CTC Sentinel 11 (6)

The four articles in this CTC Sentinel issue focus on 1) the evolving threat posed by jihadis in Indonesia, including the implications of the May 2018 bombing of three churches in East Java; 2) foreign children fighters who joined the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria; 3) the different experiences of IS veteran fighters in Libya and Afghanistan; and 4) the case of an all-female IS cell that allegedly planned several attacks in France in September 2016. The edition also includes an interview with Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Price, former CTC Director and former Academy Professor at the US Military Academy at West Point.

Trump’s $12 Billion Bailout Is No Remedy for Farmers Caught in Trade War


Trade and agriculture experts are warning that U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned $12 billion farm bailout amounts to a misguided attempt to cushion the damage of the administration’s increasing use of tariffs against trading partners and is unlikely to address the long-term risks farmers face of losing their lucrative export markets. The subsidy, outlined last week, could trigger a challenge at the World Trade Organization, where the United States is already under fire for using questionable justifications to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, the experts said. It has also angered some lawmakers who want protections for industries in their own home states.

What if Brexit Happened Without an Exit Deal?

If the March deadline for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union arrives without a Withdrawal Agreement between both parties, Brexit would happen with no transition period, forcing businesses to immediately adjust to the new rules defining EU-UK relations. Under a "no-deal" scenario, British exporters would face EU tariffs that are low on average, but high in specific sectors like automobiles and agriculture. The strongest economic effect of a no-deal scenario would be felt in the United Kingdom and its close trade partners, like Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Without a deal, London and Brussels would probably arrange temporary agreements to minimize disruptions while they continued to negotiate.

Improving Force Development Within the U.S. Department of Defense

by David Ochmanek

For several years now, in wargames depicting future hypothetical conflicts against the nation's most capable adversaries, programmed U.S. forces repeatedly have failed to achieve their primary operational objectives and suffer heavy losses in doing so. The U.S. armed forces today are, at once, larger than needed to fight a single major war, failing to keep pace with the modernizing capabilities of great power adversaries, poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia, and insufficiently ready and trained to get the most operational utility from many of their active-component units. This did not happen overnight. The U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) failure to adapt to a deteriorating security environment goes back more than a decade. Multiple reasons can be cited for this failure, including a sense of complacency resulting from the success that U.S. forces experienced in Operations Desert Storm (Iraq) and Allied Force (former Yugoslavia); the resources and attention that have been devoted to counterinsurgency and stability operations in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the priority given to counterterrorism campaigns against Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and other Salafist-jihadi groups in the Middle East and globally. Whatever the causes, there is an urgency to the need to modernize U.S. military capabilities and operational concepts, lest we and our allies lose further ground to China and Russia. This Perspective examines how things got to this point and what DoD's leaders should do to ensure that the needs of future warfighters are better represented in the Department's decisionmaking processes.

Donald Trump’s grand strategy

Brahma Chellaney

US President Donald Trump’s inability to think strategically is undermining longstanding relationships, upending the global order, and accelerating the decline of his country’s global influence—or so the popular wisdom goes. But this assessment is not nearly as obvious as its proponents claim. 
America’s relative decline was a hot topic long before Trump took office. The process began when the US, emboldened by its emergence from the Cold War as the world’s sole superpower, started to overextend itself by enlarging its military footprint and ramping up its global economic and security commitments.

Russian Jamming Poses a Growing Threat to U.S. Troops in Syria


American troops deployed in Syria are increasingly having to defend themselves against Russian jamming devices—electronic attacks with potentially lethal consequences, according to U.S. military officials and analysts. Officers who have experienced the jamming—known as electronic warfare—say it’s no less dangerous than conventional attacks with bombs and artillery. But they also say it’s allowing U.S. troops a rare opportunity to experience Russian technology in the battlefield and figure out how to defend against it. U.S. Army Col. Brian Sullivan described one recent episode to reporters at the U.S. Defense Department last week. He said his troops had encountered a “congested … electronic warfare environment” while fighting in northeastern Syria during their nine-month deployment, which stretched from September 2017 to May 2018.

US-Taliban talks could undermine Afghan government

A meeting between US officials and Taliban members in Qatar has raised hopes for peace in Afghanistan, but it also undermines the Afghan government's writ. Is the US willing to pay this price for Taliban talks? Last week, a delegation led by Alice Wells, US deputy assistant secretary of state, held talks with representatives of the Afghan Taliban in Doha, Qatar, in a bid to kick-start peace negotiations and end the protracted Afghan conflict. A Taliban official who participated in talks told Reuters news agency there were "very positive signs from the meeting," which, according to him, was conducted in a "friendly atmosphere."

There Is More to Trump’s Trade War than Meets the Eye

by Heather Hurlburt

The “trade war” has slipped out of the headlines as quickly as it slipped in, after President Donald Trump’s meeting with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker seemed to promise that Washington would stop escalating and go back to the more familiar negotiating—in fact, negotiating in contexts and using frameworks put forward by pro-trade leaders from industry, Wall Street and both political parties for at least a decade. But deciding that everything is back on track would be wrong. Trump’s tariffs and the international responses, which by one estimate will eventually cost half a percentage point of GDP and more than 360,000 jobs, are still in place.

Israel is under massive Chinese, Russian cyber espionage attack

Ronen Bergman

A look at one of the most secretive units of the Israeli intelligence community— the Shin Bet’s counter-espionage division, which was responsible for the arrest of former minister Gonen Segev—one of many cases of Tehran's infiltration attempts. However, it turns out that the Iranians are actually the least of Israel's problems. A few months ago, "Ophir," a senior official with a rich intelligence background turned private cyber security expert, was called back to duty. The mission: Ophir and a team of experts were asked to examine the security of some of Israel's main computer systems. A few systems were defined as "strategic," others of lesser importance. But since less time and energy is spent on protecting these secondary systems, it can make them even more vulnerable to infiltration. The investigation team was put together by one of Israel's governmental intelligence and information protection agencies. 

The spy game is changing. It’s increasingly taking place in the daylight rather than in the shadows

Alex Finley

Mariia Butina wasn’t hiding. The red-headed, gun-toting young woman whom the FBI has accused of being a Russian spy posed with high-level Republican politicians, including Rick Santorum and Scott Walker, and other influential conservative players, like NRA chief Wayne LaPierre. She snapped photos at the National Prayer Breakfast, circulated at gun shows and conservative conferences, claiming she wanted to promote gun rights in Russia. She posed for Russian GQ, hoisting pistols while wearing stilettos, a black leather jacket and not much else. With her flaming red hair, which sometimes switched to blonde, she commanded—and got—attention.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

By William A. Reinsch 

When I was a junior in high school, my history teacher gave me back a test with a grade of C+ and a comment: “You have facility in making much out of little.” That comment has stayed with me for a long time (and some would say defined my career in Washington). The same remark could be made about the president’s trade agreements so far, most notably the one just “concluded” with the European Union. We have learned over the past 18 months that all Trump negotiations are brilliant successes, at least on the day they are announced. What happens after that, however, tells a different story, although the public usually has moved on to a new tweet and is no longer paying attention to the old one. The only negotiation that is more or less finished is the one with Korea, and there the president settled for some less-than-significant but tangible concessions on autos, steel, and pharmaceuticals and abandoned most everything else. I say “more or less” finished because it has not been finalized and is a bit up in the air over Korean concerns about the possibility of additional auto tariffs. 

How You Can Use the Dark Web for Threat Intelligence

There has been much speculation (not to mention exaggeration) over recent years about the fabled dark web. We’ve heard how this shady underworld is the refuge of the cybercriminal elite and even nation state threat actors. But beyond the hype there is the potential for dark web sources to reveal valuable intelligence around data breaches and emerging threats. The real power of the dark web as a source lies in how it can complement open and technical data, to deliver truly contextualized threat intelligence. Download this white paper for:

The Story of an NSA Hacker

George I. Seffers

Millions of times every single day, antagonists search for entry into the U.S. Defense Department’s networks. They come from all over: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran. Some are sponsored by nation-states; others are terrorist groups. “Adversaries approach the perimeter, and that’s where we sit. They test our defenses, and we’re the ones on the front line, mitigating the threat,” says Spc. Alexander Woody, USA, a counter pursuit operator within the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center (NCTOC). “We provide 24/7 year-round support for network monitoring, coordination and crisis response.”

Russian Hacking in the US and the Gulf

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The covert cyberwar that helped spark the 13-month-old Gulf crisis, which pits a Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led alliance against Qatar, may have just gotten murkier with the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller. US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents provided detail on website DCLeaks, which was allegedly registered by Russian intelligence officers. The website initially distributed illicitly obtained documents associated with people connected to the Republican Party and later hacked emails from individuals affiliated with the election campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.