30 October 2018

Indians in the trenches: voices of forgotten army are finally to be heard

Harriet Sherwood

Indian soldiers serving with the British army make camp in 1916. Photograph: Getty

They were the forgotten voices of the first world war: 1.5 million men, mostly illiterate villagers from northern India, fighting under the command of colonial masters who repaid their bravery and sacrifices with brutality and prejudice.

More Indians fought with the British from 1914 to 1918 than the combined total of Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and South African troops. Some 34,000 Indian soldiers were killed on battlefields in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. But the part they played in the war has been largely whitewashed from history.

Could Russia's T-14 Armata Tank Be Headed to India?

by Charlie Gao

The Indian Army is one of the largest operators of Russian tanks in the world. According to IISS, it currently fields almost 2000 T-72s of various variants and nearly 1000 T-90Ss. But the older T-72s are aging, despite efforts to modernize them.

To replace them, India has launched the new Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) program. This program aims to replace the T-72 in Indian service. The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) submitted a Request for Information (RFI) in 2017. The possible value of the FRCV program is very large, India expects to acquire around 1700 of the selected tank.

The requirements for FRCV are listed in the RFI. One interesting requirement is weight: the FRCV is not to exceed 57.5 tons. The report also suggests that the armament be a 120 millimeter or 125 millimeter main gun, which should be able to penetrate 650 millimeter of armor at two kilometers and fire at a minimum rate of six rounds per minute.

Friend with no benefits: Why China is not Pakistan's pal at all

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Pakistan and China define their friendship as “higher than the heights of Himalayas and deeper than the depths of Arabian Sea”. To make it even stronger, President Xi Jinping of China visited Pakistan in April 2015, with a multi-billion dollar investment plan (nay debt-trap) — the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the main plank of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China has always defined BRI as a win-win situation, implying that both China and the host country would enjoy the resultant economic prosperity. The truth, however, is completely different. Basically, “win-win” probably meant that China would “win twice”. Unfortunately, the CPEC has burdened Pakistan’s economy with a lot of debt and trade deficit, and pushed the country onto the brink of total bankruptcy. Neither did China provide Pakistan with industrial technology to help it boost exports, nor did it create jobs in the country — because the project has mostly hired Chinese labourers.

Israel, China: Beijing Tempts Israel With Money for Development

From Asia to Africa, China is challenging the United States. In the Middle East, it is finding ways to exploit the region's need for investment and to build up relationships beneath the dominating U.S. shadow. The Belt and Road Initiative is a means to that strategic end, and in Israel, Beijing is trying to close a key gap in the Levant. But America's close relationship with Israel means that the task won't be easy.

China's relationship with Israel is unlike any other Beijing is pursuing in the Middle East. Israel is the closest U.S. ally in the region and dependent upon American military aid to keep its armed forces on the cutting edge. Yet China is trying to use the heft of its financial investing to make inroads into Israel and the region. On Oct. 25, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan completed a three-day trip to Israel, where he sought to expand the Belt and Road Initiative and undermine U.S. influence. The visit produced few new developments in their relations — only promises of future free trade and cooperation — but it did serve to heighten U.S. concern about Beijing's influence there.

The EU’s new strategy on “Connecting Europe with Asia” could spell trouble for China’s “Belt and Road Initiative.”

By Julian Chan

In September, the European Union released a new strategy on “Connecting Europe with Asia” as its principal guidelines toward connectivity between the two continents. It has been without doubt that for a long time now, the EU has been hoping to work toward an effective response to the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched five years ago but defined in the guiding document “Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road” (referred to hereafter as the “BRI Vision and Action Plan”), released in March 2015.

A US-China cold war isn't inevitable - or even likely

Ngaire Woods
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It is often said that the US and China – superpowers at economic, geopolitical, and ideological loggerheads – are heading toward a new cold war. And the rhetoric – at least from one side – has come to resemble that of Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech, one of the inaugural events of the Cold War. Just this month, US Vice President Mike Pence accused China of predatory economic practices, military aggression against the United States, and attempts to undermine US President Donald Trump.

But despite the media hype, a new cold war is not inevitable – or even likely. To be sure, Chinese leaders, fearing disorder and any weakening of the Communist Party of China’s legitimacy, are determined to prevent the US from forcing changes on China’s political and economic system. China will continue to pursue reforms at its own pace and in its own way. For Chinese President Xi Jinping, a top priority is to merge the CPC with the machinery of government in order to reduce corruption and burnish the state’s ideological credentials. Any attempt to interfere in this process would be crossing a red line.

Who has the real leverage on US Treasuries?


When you owe a bank $100, that’s your problem. But when you owe a bank $100 million, it’s the bank’s problem. That’s a famous quote from industrialist John Paul Getty. Few scenarios would seem to dramatize the spirit of this witticism more than China’s vast holdings of US Treasuries – $1.165 trillion of them. This epic dollar hoard, it’s widely believed, gives Xi Jinping’s government powerful leverage over Donald Trump’s. President Xi does, of course. All it would take is for China to skip a few Treasury auctions and, boom, bond market chaos gets Trump’s undivided attention. In that sense, Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could be excused for fretting over news that Beijing cut its dollar-bond holdings for a third straight month in August.

Israel Could Expand Its Anti-Iran Fight to Iraq and Yemen

Yemen does not present an existential threat to Israel, but Israel could move against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen to foster better ties with Saudi Arabia. Iran's decision to supply militias in Iraq with ballistic missiles could provoke some form of Israeli response. Any strike on Iranian proxies in Iraq, however, would increase anti-American sentiment and potentially push Baghdad even more toward Tehran. Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series. The first part assessed the burgeoning ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Saudi regime doesn’t reign alone – a global network enables it

Nesrine Malik
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Just as it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a network of enablers to empower a tyrant. While domestically the Saudi government’s capital is fear, abroad it is cash and the influence it brings. Not content with Khashoggi’s murder, Mohammed bin Salman dragged one of the journalist’s sons before the cameras to set up some good optics for the royal family. With new details of his father’s brutal death and dismemberment reaching his ears daily, it is hard to imagine what kind of pressure, what kind of threat, compelled him to shake the hands of his father’s murderers.

No Exit From the US-Saudi Relationship

Jacob L. Shapiro 

The grisly murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi has cast a garish light on what is business as usual in the Middle East. In the U.S., many are aghast that their government is working with a country capable of such an act, and specifically with a leader (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) who could be so reckless and cruel. In Saudi Arabia, there is a degree of consternation as to why Khashoggi’s death has set off such a firestorm, considering Riyadh’s dutiful record as key U.S. ally in the region for decades, and even more so in the past two years. The simple fact is that Washington’s current strategy in the Middle East leaves the U.S. with only unsavory choices, and until that strategy changes, it’s stuck with the devil it knows. Riyadh, meanwhile, doesn’t have much of a choice- 

Trump Reverses The Defense Buildup: 2020 Cuts Analysis

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President Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

The good news about President Trump’s $30 billion cutback to defense? The Pentagon still has enough money to execute a national security strategy. The bad news? It’s enough to execute Obama’s strategy. Trump’s plan would undercut the more expansive National Defense Strategy for “great power competition” that embattled Defense Secretary Jim Mattis rolled out just nine months ago.

That President Trump is serious about reversing his much-touted defense buildup caught everyone in Washington by surprise, including the Mattis Pentagon, which had almost completed a $733 billion plan for 2020. Trump’s $700 billion figure would be five percent below the plan for 2020 and a 2.3 percent reduction from 2019, reversing the planned growth.

America’s stockmarket gains evaporate

FRENETIC trading on October 24th ended with America’s leading share-price indices giving up most if not all of the gains of what, only a month ago, had been a good, if not spectacular, year. Expectations had hovered between positive and very positive, and these had hitherto appeared to be borne out by strong third-quarter earnings. The markets regained some ground on the morning of October 25th. But signs of impending problems are clearly attracting investors’ attention. 

Three Reasons Not to Leave the INF Treaty

by Bonnie Kristian

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he intends to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was cast in contractual logic: the U.S.-Russian agreement prohibits land-based short-and-intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles, both nuclear and conventional, which aredifficult to track and make unintentional nuclear war more likely. Washington, withsupport from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, alleges that Moscow has breachedthat ban, and, as Trump put it , “we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”

The Challenges of NATO Nuclear Policy – Alliance Management Under the Trump Administration

By Robert Bell 

Maintaining consensus on NATO’s nuclear posture remains the most demanding aspect of Alliance management in NATO, especially given the fundamentally changed security environment in Europe. Robert Bell writes that it is thus crucial that Allies understand that the benefits of the US’ extension of its nuclear deterrent come with responsibilities. At the same time, the Trump Administration must appreciate that if all Allies are expected to support the enhancements of NATO’s nuclear posture, they will require an equally robust arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation posture on the part of the US in return.

US Navy Successfully Shoots Down Medium-Range Ballistic Missile Target in Test

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy successfully conducted an intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile on October 26, according to a MDA statement.

The test involved the shooting down of a mock ballistic missile target outside the earth’s atmosphere, fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, at Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii, with a SM-3 Block IIA missile launched from the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113).

“Based on observations and initial data review, the test met its objectives,” the MDA said in an October 26 statement. “Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance.”

Big data, AI, and digital technologies: Cambodia’s nascent tech sector is blooming.

By M.G. Zimeta

October 20 saw the launch of KOOMPI, a Cambodian “home-grown” laptop, at BarCamp ASEAN 2018, the annual regional expo for tech start-ups. The laptop is distinctive for running entirely on Open Source platforms so that production costs are kept low and the device is affordable, and so that owners without a background in computing can “hack” the platforms and become “super-users.” KOOMPI is already doing market testing in Myanmar and exploring bringing the product to other regional markets such as Japan, Brunei, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, and the Philippines.

DoD seeks industry input on multibillion-dollar cloud collaboration solution

By: Jessie Bur

The Pentagon and General Services Administration released a request for informationOct. 25 for a new unified collaborative cloud solution that will unite the entire defense apparatus under one enterprise contract. The Defense Enterprise Office Solution is the first capability set of three that the Department of Defense plans to use to capture its enterprise collaboration and productivity needs. The DEOS capability set needs include a productivity suite, messaging capabilities, content management systems and collaboration tools. “We operate pretty much in a disparate environment right now, and predominantly on-[premises] for these capabilities. So DEOS will give us an opportunity to tear down some of those barriers, posture us for increased interoperability while taking advantage of what the commercial community has to offer,” said Essye Miller, principal deputy to the DoD chief information officer, at a press roundtable.


ONE DAY IN the spring of 2010, Kathleen McCaffrey, a sophomore at New York University, received an invitation from a stranger named Arthur Breitman. On the basis of what Breitman had been told about her political persuasion by a mutual acquaintance, he thought she might want to join his monthly luncheon for classical liberals. (­Breitman had also seen a photograph of McCaffrey and thought she was pretty.) McCaffrey, the curious type, accepted.

BREITMAN WAS NOT typically one to overextend himself socially, but he made a “beeline” for McCaffrey, she recalls, when she walked in the door. The luncheon, it turned out, was actually for anarcho-capitalists—people who believe that an absolutely free, self-regulating market will allow individuals, bound to one another by contract alone, to flourish in radical harmony. But by the time McCaffrey discovered she’d been misled, they’d already hit it off. She told Breitman she admired Milton Friedman. Breitman was pleased to report that he was friends with Friedman’s grandson, Patri, and offered to lend her a book about freedom by Patri’s father.

The Real Purpose Of MDMP: Creating Solid Orders When We’re Not Patton Or Rommel


The Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) has always been a fun dog to kick. MDMP can be a laborious process, filled with intricate details, and intense work packed into short spans of time. New staff officers and even experienced commanders bemoan the easy ability to get lost in the details of creating an order before a good order is even created. With all the challenges of the MDMP process, the question must be asked: Is MDMP even worth the trouble?

These criticisms of MDMP are all true, but these criticisms miss the real reasons that make the MDMP so valuable.

Cyber operators get first crack at training platform

By: Mark Pomerleau   

The Pentagon recently concluded the first limited assessment of its persistent cyber training environment (PCTE) with actual users, providing the team with valuable insights. The Army is running the PCTE on behalf of U.S. Cyber Command, which will eventually provide the platform for distributed individual and collective training purposes, as well as mission rehearsal. The joint cyber community currently doesn’t have an immersive training environment akin to the National Training Center for the Army. The Army has decided to take best practices from industry in agile software development, breaking the PCTE program into a series of innovation challenges and prototypes that will help to inform the eventual solution.

Here’s The Pentagon’s Initial Plan For Creating a Space Force


The U.S. Space Force will include uniformed service members drawn from the Air Force, Navy and Army — but it is not expected to include the National Reconnaissance Office mission, according an internal draft of the Pentagon’s plan to create a sixth branch of the military. Defense One reviewed a copy of the 13-page document, which will be further developed in coming months before the Pentagon sends it to Congress in February along with its 2020 budget request. This early draft provides a glimpse into a 21st-century approach to creating a new service branch, an endeavor not undertaken since 1947. Among other things, it reveals divergent views among senior Pentagon officials about how to structure it.

DoD Wants More Hackers To (Legally) Break Into Its Websites


The Department of Defense is expanding its “Hack the Pentagon” program by awarding contracts to Silicon Valley firms BugCrowd, HackerOne, and Synack to run ongoing bug bounty contests in search of vulnerabilities. First launched as a pilot program in 2016 under Secretary Ash Carter, Hack the Pentagon allowed outside cybersecurity professionals to legally attempt to break into its public-facing systems — something that the DoD’s enemies are trying to do pretty much every day. The trial run was a success, which led to thousands of security vulnerabilities being identified and remedied, according to a DoD press release. “Finding innovative ways to identify vulnerabilities and strengthen security has never been more important,” Chris Lynch, Director of the Defense Digital Service, said in a statement.

Here’s The Pentagon’s Initial Plan For Creating a Space Force

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The U.S. Space Force will include uniformed service members drawn from the Air Force, Navy and Army — but it is not expected to include the National Reconnaissance Office mission, according an internal draft of the Pentagon’s plan to create a sixth branch of the military. Defense One reviewed a copy of the 13-page document, which will be further developed in coming months before the Pentagon sends it to Congress in February along with its 2020 budget request. This early draft provides a glimpse into a 21st-century approach to creating a new service branch, an endeavor not undertaken since 1947. Among other things, it reveals divergent views among senior Pentagon officials about how to structure it.

Women in peacekeeping: an operational imperative

By Bintou Keita

Some 8,000 women are currently deployed in our 14 peacekeeping missions across the world, more half of them wearing the police and military uniform. However, as the United Nations strives to reach gender parity by 2030, women represent less than 5% of the total uniformed personnel within our peacekeeping missions. Recruiting and retaining women in the field — including those in uniform — is an operational imperative, says Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, in an interview with Medium UN Peacekeeping.

How important are women to the success of peacekeeping missions across the field?

Military tensions around Taiwan could make it harder to resolve the trade war

Kelly Olsen

Chinese authorities hate the word "independence." But whether spoken by fringe figures in Hong Kong or marchers demonstrating in Taiwan, they are hearing it all the same. Compounding frustrations in Beijing have worsened ties with the United States, which sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday for the second time since July. International criticism has also mounted over a human rights crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang, whom authorities fear want to break away. "The main problem is that the Communist Party of China is paranoid about calls for separatism and independence and continually overreacts to them," Michael Kovrig, senior advisor for North East Asia at the International Crisis Group, told CNBC on Thursday in an email.

China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.