13 August 2018

The Dilemmas of Kargil

Lt Gen Prakash Menon

Had India and Pakistan not been nuclear powers, Kargil would have played out differently. What are the lessons it holds for the nuclear age?

This is Chapter 6 (‘Kargil: Deterrence Perspectives’) of Lt Gen Prakash Menon’s book, The Strategy Trap: India and Pakistan Under the Nuclear Shadow.

‘Pakistan’s military establishment had entertained ideas of deterring Indian nuclear and conventional capabilities with its nuclear weapons and carrying out a brash, bold strike to liberate Kashmir which would go unchallenged if the Indian leadership was weak and indecisive.’ —The Kargil Committee Report

Kargil is separated from the Kashmir Valley by the great Himalayan range and is accessible through National Highway 1-A (NH-1A) via the Zoji La pass, which is snowbound from December to April. The Line of Control (LC) comes uncomfortably close to NH-1A as it emerges out of Zoji La and dips southwards close to Drass at a height of 5,353 m, from where it runs almost parallel to the NH-1A, till Kargil town. In mid-1999, the LC in proximity to Kargil played host to a limited India–Pakistan conflict.

India's Strategic Roadmap

by T. V. Paul
Source Link

In recent years, India has developed multiple strategies to deal with China’s rise and threatening postures on both its land border and in the Indian Ocean. They include limited balancing based on asymmetrical arms buildups and informal coalitions with like-minded states and regular diplomatic engagement with Beijing both bilaterally and through multilateral forums. But the most significant non-traditional soft balancing efforts have been in building limited strategic partnerships with the United States and Japan as well as participation in ASEAN Forums, along with other regional groupings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The strategy is also based on institutional denial by not agreeing to China’s membership in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and, most prominently, refusing to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). There have been some efforts at creating counter economic cooperation initiatives with regional states as alternatives to BRI. The Africa Growth Corridor with Japan was planned in 2017 as a limited alternative to BRI, although it is yet to take full shape.

China-India 'Cooperative Competition' In Iran

by Zoe Leung 

Making inroads into Iran has become a priority for both China and India, with both nations seeking to expand influence in their respective regions. Located at a critical juncture, Iran links Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. Furthermore, Iran’s abundant resources provide a significant amount of energy to China and India. These factors have always influenced Tehran’s relationships with Beijing and New Delhi, which have always fallen somewhere in between transactional and strategic. While the Sino-Indian relationship has been fraught with various challenges, the manner in which the two nations manage their differences in Iran—employing a mix of cooperation and competition—sheds light on their relative power and underlies the changing nature of their relations. Unlike traditional, binary inter-state strategic competition, the China-India rivalry in a sanctioned Iran likely will evolve into a long-term coexistence indicative of what may lie ahead for their strategic relationship in other, non-neighboring countries.

U.S. Sanctions Threaten India's Importation of Iranian Oil

by Rauf Mammadov 

When the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May, it told countries trading with Iran that they would have to stop soon or face American sanctions. As the first ninety-day wind-down period for ceasing trading with Iran comes to an end, Washington is ratcheting up the pressure on the main importers of Iranian crude oil. However, most of the other countries that signed the nuclear deal —including many in Europe—continue to support it. But companies, not governments, import oil—and they are likely to buckle under the U.S. pressure. A key exception is Chinese companies, which collectively amount to the world’s largest buyer of Iranian oil. They remain defiant against the U.S. sanctions threat, a stance which their government obviously supports. The defiance comes as tension with America already increasing due to a trade war that Washington started.

Ladakh: The third, and most overlooked, part of J&K


Over the last year, and for the first time in its thousand-year history, the village of Sumda Chun in Ladakh gained access to a motorable road. Only a handful of families inhabit this tiny hamlet, nestled at an altitude of almost 4,000 meters on a tributary of the azure Zanskar River.  Thanks to the new motorway, the approximately 60 kilometre journey to the Ladakhi capital of Leh — which would have earlier begun with a two-hour trek to the nearest paved highway — is now just a 90-minute drive. The village has already begun to reap the fruits of this new development, sometimes quite literally. Watermelons, once a rare delicacy that had to be transported by pack animals across high-altitude desert terrain, are now proudly served to guests.

Counterproductive Counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Yemen

by Paul R. Pillar

Fighting terrorism has been the most commonly invoked rationale for U.S. involvement in overseas military conflicts during the past two decades. But much of that involvement has sustained and strengthened, rather than weakened, international terrorism. Recent news from two places, Yemen and Afghanistan, illustrates one dimension of the problem. The principal player in international terrorism with a role in Yemen is Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. This branch of Al Qaeda has come closer than any other since 9/11 to pulling off a successful high-casualty attack against U.S. targets. Within the current Yemeni civil war, AQAP operates on the side of the line dominated by the U.S.-backed coalition of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Supposedly that coalition has devoted some of its effort to attacking AQAP, rather than what it considers its main adversary, which is the Houthi force that holds much of northern and western Yemen. But a remarkably detailed piece of investigative reporting by a team of Associated Press journalists tells a different story.

Wanted: A Strategy for the Indo-Pacific Region

by Scott D. McDonald

Four months ago, Singaporean foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan stated that Singapore would not be joining the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) because he did not know what the strategy entailed. In fact, the United States has not released a formal FOIP plan. At the time of his statement, public descriptions of the developing strategy had been confined to President Trump’s speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEOs Summit and a press event at the State Department. At the time, the world knew only that the United States was pursuing an international rules-based order built around the centrality of ASEAN (Association for Southeast Asian Nations) and defined as free and open. Congressional testimony on May 15 provided a more refined statement of the principles “free” and “open,” but did not speak to the manner in which FOIP would achieve them.

China's Belt and Road Initiative Finds Shaky Ground in Eastern Europe

As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, China will work to build economic and security ties with Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova in the coming years. A variety of factors, including insufficient infrastructure and competition in the region between Russia and the West, will complicate China's expansion in these states. Forging deeper relationships with China will give Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova more leeway for negotiating the standoff between Russia and the West, though Beijing will be careful not to encroach on Moscow's interests in the region.

Trump’s Tariffs Are Changing Trade With China. Here Are 2 Emerging Endgames.

By Keith Bradsher

BEIJING — The United States and China have sparred repeatedly over trade, in a tit-for-tat skirmish that has shown little sign of abating. High-level talks have stalled, while both sides have been threatening further tariffs in recent days. But beneath the acrimony, two potential paths for China seem to be emerging, according to participants in the trade negotiations and their advisers. Both would deliver trade wins for President Trump and his more moderate advisers, while also letting President Xi Jinping of China push ahead with his ambitious industrial plan to build national champions in cutting-edge technologies.

Daily Memo: On Cease-Fires, Sanctions and Sensitive Negotiations

All the news worth knowing today.

Israel and Hamas came to blows on Wednesday. Hamas fired nearly 200 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, and Israel responded by striking 150 Hamas targets in Gaza. So far, the signals coming out of Israel are hardly encouraging. A senior official for the Israel Defense Forces said that Israel and Hamas were “rapidly nearing a confrontation.” An IDF spokesman said additional forces had been deployed to the area and preparations to evacuate southern Israel were in place. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene his security Cabinet to discuss next steps. The main thing to watch is whether Israel calls up reserves. Right now, war doesn’t appear to be imminent, but the past 24 hours have shown that things can change at a moment’s notice. So much for the cease-fire Egypt was believed to be brokering.

The Path to Renewed Oil Sanctions on Iran

By Peter Harrell

On August 5, the Trump administration reinstated a first set of U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been suspended under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. But the bulk of U.S. sanctions on Iran will not come back into force until November 5, 180 days after Trump’s initial May 8 announcement that Washington would withdraw from the agreement. On that date, all of the U.S. sanctions suspended by the JCPOA will be reinstated, including the most important of all: the sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.

The Missile Arsenal at the Heart of the Israeli-Iranian Rivalry

Iran and Hezbollah will continue efforts to enhance their missile and artillery capabilities by threatening Israel where it is most vulnerable; in the economic realm. In response, Israel will seek to lobby Washington and Moscow to restrict Tehran's activities in Syria. In the event of a war, Israel will seek to take a load off of its missile defense system by launching a ground incursion into Syria or Lebanon to destroy possible launch pads for Iranian or Hezbollah missiles as well as the projectiles themselves. Following a string of recent successes, Syria's government is in a dominant position as the Syrian civil war transitions to a new phase. Meanwhile, the two largest outside powers involved in the conflict — the United States and Russia — are looking to make an exit as their primary foes lose ground. But even as the war appears to be winding down for some, it's beginning to ramp up for one key player: Israel.

Trump wants a bigger, better deal with Iran. What does Tehran want?

Suzanne Maloney

This is the way the most significant instrument of U.S.-Iran diplomacy in 40 years ends: not with a bang, but with a whimper. In accordance with President Donald Trump’s May decision to walk away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the administration on Tuesday re-imposed most of the sanctions originally suspended by the agreement. While the move produced a flurry of new headlines, for the most part the economic impact had already unfolded, and Iranian leaders took the opportunity to demonstrate cautious resolve, as they struggle to devise a viable strategy for managing an increasingly risky path forward.

U.S. to Restore Sanctions on Iran, Deepening Divide With Europe

By Gardner Harris and Jack Ewing

WASHINGTON — The United States said Monday it was reimposing economic sanctions against Iran that were lifted under a 2015 nuclear accord, ratcheting up pressure on Tehran but also worsening relations with European allies. The sanctions are a consequence of President Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from an international deal that sought to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing pressure on the country’s shaky economy. The Trump administration is betting that backing out of it will force Iran to shut down its nuclear enrichment efforts, curb its weapons program and end its support of brutal governments or uprisings in the Middle East.

Don’t Give Up Yet: There’s Still a Chance to Salvage Eastern Syria

The Issue

The U.S. ability to shape high-level outcomes in Syria is limited; Russia and Iran have outmaneuvered the United States. Eastern Syria still offers leverage to salvage a marginally but meaningfully better outcome for U.S. interests and the Syrian population. The United States must determine its sources of leverage, articulate its goals, connect those goals to a stabilization framework, and operationalize burden sharing under an eastern Syria framework. Failing this, the Assad regime will likely take over the east, which has proven to be the ultimate driver of instability and extremism in the country, with effects that will inevitably draw the United States back into the region. 

A Bleak National Picture

Terrorism: U.S. Strategy and the Trends in Its “Wars” on Terrorism

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The United States has now been at war in Afghanistan for some seventeen years and been fighting another major war in Iraq for fifteen years. It has been active in Somalia far longer and has spread its operations to deal with terrorist or extremist threats in a wide range of conflicts in North and Sub-Saharan in Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. In case after case, the U.S. has moved far beyond counterterrorism to counterinsurgency, and from the temporary deployment of small anti-terrorism forces to a near "permanent" military presence. The line between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency has become so blurred that there is no significant difference.

The Strategy Delusion

By Jeffrey W. Meiser, Sitara Nath


Strategy is a theory of success. If you do not have a theory of success, you do not have a strategy. If you do not have a strategy, you are unlikely to achieve your goals.[1] These are straight-forward, and perhaps even obvious principles. However, judging from what passes as strategic analysis and strategic thought, these principles are not obvious; in fact, these principles are consistently violated.

In Alarming New Study, Nuclear Lab Scientists Question U.S. Weapons' Performance

This is important. In today's nuclear weapons era, America's existence depends on our nuclear weapons stockpile. The instant readiness of these weapons for launch by our deployed submarines, bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the absolute, unquestioned ability of the weapons themselves to perform meticulously to their certified military characteristics, are our nation's only guarantee of survival. This is what the Cold War was all about, avoiding global thermonuclear war. For 46 years, the Soviet Union and the United States each had tens of thousands of high-yield nuclear weapons poised for instant launch. If there had been any hint of incipient U.S. weapons failure, our nation would have ceased to exist. Our Strategic Air Command used to say that their mission was to ensure that the Kremlin's daily morning meeting ended with the leader saying "Not today, Comrades."

Covert Action, Military Operations and the DoD–CIA Debate

By J. Robert Kane

Covert action is making its name again. Back on the strategic foreign policy stage, covert action is a way to achieve diplomacy without direct military confrontation. Kinetic operations by way of targeted killing have become a hot (and disputed) topic. Even though Presidents Ford in 1976, Carter in 1978 and Regan in 1981 signed Executive Orders to ban political assassinations, the U.S. has engaged in targeted killings through drone strikes to kill enemy combatants on the battlefield. Signature strikes that target behavior patterns and personal networks often result in increased collateral damage, namely to civilians. Some of these actions are overt while others are covert, or at least clandestine in some nature.

So, who does these things? Is it the military, CIA or even both?

Water Wars on the Nile

By Daniel Benaim and Michael Wahid Hanna

In Ethiopia, Africa’s largest-ever dam and hydroelectric power plant is inching closer to completion. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River has the potential to transform Ethiopia’s economy and revolutionize the agricultural sector of its northwestern neighbor Sudan. But further downstream in Egypt, where 95 percent of the population live on the Nile’s shores or along its delta, many object to the dam, which they see as a fundamental threat to their way of life. As Ethiopia prepares to operationalize the dam and divert Nile waters to fill its massive reservoir, the international dispute over the river has reached a make-or-break moment. In the coming year, Egypt and Ethiopia will either set their differences aside and forge a cooperative path forward together—an outcome that is technically feasible but politically fraught—or face a diplomatic downward spiral. 

How long is too long for a cyber operation? NSA has an idea

By: Justin Lynch 
Source Link

Research conducted by the National Security Agency has found that after five hours of cyber operations, performance drops and frustration begins to increase among staffers. Those longer missions caused roughly 10 percent more fatigue and frustration compared to operations that lasted less than five hours, Celeste Paul, a senior researcher at the NSA, said during the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. The reason? Extended operations are more tiring and mentally demanding, the research found. Hacking is stressful because it is complex, unpredictable and operates in a high-risk and high-reward environment, Paul said. In addition, NSA cyber operators are highly motivated and “they put success of the mission above all else, even themselves,” Paul said.

Read what Mattis said about election security and offensive cyber

By: Staff Report 
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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis acknowledged Aug. 7 that Russia made attempts to influence the 2016 election and outlined ― more or less ― how the Pentagon is helping states bolster their election cybersecurity efforts. The text below includes lightly edited excerpts of the official transcript from a press conference Mattis held at the Pentagon. Q: On the election security, you have spoken recently about the efforts of the Pentagon to provide support for election security for the midterms and beyond. As you have looked at this issue, can you offer any more specifics about what you think the Defense Department could do to help states and governments assist in election security with active measures that you’ve spoken about?

DARPA wants to give commanders more CONTEXTS

By: Adam Stone
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“What happens next?”

That’s a fundamental problem facing military leaders every day, often followed up by “what are the repercussions of a given action?” and “if our unit makes this move, how will that play out?” These are the big picture dilemmas that defense technologists believe they can begin to answer. “We are not building tools that will predict the future,” said Steve Jameson, a program manager in DARPA’s Information Innovation Office. “But we are building tools that will give a range of likely outcomes, that will allow the user to explore their options and will give some explanation: Here’s why this particular approach will yield this outcome.”



The bulk of the world’s Internet traffic is carried by a network of cables that lie on the ocean floor. Security officials around the globe have recently expressed concerns that a cyberattack on these cables could result in catastrophic economic impacts. While these concerns may be overstated, there are some circumstances in which cable breaks could be particularly disruptive. Though companies can’t control the risk of attacks on undersea cables, there are steps that they can take to mitigate the potential business impacts. 

Why officials are worried about hacking on the high seas

Silicon Valley should stop ostracizing the military

By Palmer Luckey and Trae Stephens

Palmer Luckey is the founder and chief technology officer of Anduril Industries and the founder of Oculus VR. Trae Stephens is Anduril Industries’ chairman and a partner at Founders Fund. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are right: A global leader in artificial intelligence will emerge, achieving enormous international clout and the power to dictate the rules governing AI. As Americans working in the technology industry, we disagree with those leaders only about which country that should be.  The world is safer and more peaceful with strong U.S. leadership. That requires the U.S. government to maintain its advantage in critical technologies such as AI. But doing so will be difficult if Silicon Valley’s rising hostility toward working with Washington continues. In June, Google — acceding to a protest letter signed by about 4,000 employees — announced that it would not renew a Pentagon contract for an AI program called Project Maven when it expires next year. 

Is Russia’s Military Better Than America’s?

By John Ruehl

The U.S. will devote $700 billion to its budget for 2018, dwarfing Russia’s $66 billion effort, a trend that has been consistent for more than 25 years. Yet Russia’s military has been relatively successful in recent conflicts, while the U.S. armed forces have not. American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq became multi-year quagmires, in comparison to Russia’s rapid victories against Georgia and Ukraine. Russia’s military is certainly weaker than that of the U.S., but ill-fated decisions across multiple administrations have steadily undermined American power. The short-lived U.S. intervention in the Libyan civil war was also another mistake, whereas Russia’s long-term intervention in the Syrian civil war is expected to eventually pay for itself. Russia’s military is certainly weaker than that of the U.S., but ill-fated decisions across multiple administrations have steadily undermined American power.