9 March 2019

What Pulwama-Balakot proves: A ‘third’ actor can still push India and Pakistan into a war


Pakistan shows there will be no clean victor in a war but finds an international community turned against it; for India, its air power deployment sounds alarm bells.

As the fog of war between India and Pakistan clears, here’s an assessment of the strategic consequences that go beyond immediate tactical gains and losses.

For Pakistan

First and foremost, engaging in terrorism has now become costly. In the past, the Pakistani military did not face direct and overt repercussions for actions of terrorist outfits operating from its soil. With the 2016 surgical strikes and the 2019 air strikes, India has demonstrated that any provocation in the sub-conventional domain will directly hurt the Pakistani army’s image as the ultimate defenders of the ideological and territorial frontiers of Pakistan. This is a massive strategic loss for the Pakistani military-jihadi complex.

The Military Balance Between India And Pakistan

On Tuesday, Indian warplanes attacked targets across the ceasefire line in disputed Kashmir in response to a militant attack that killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistan now claims to have shot down two Indian jets and captured one of their their pilots after a MIG-21 Bison fighter crashed in its territory. India made no comments on those claims but the country’s ANI news agency also reported on Wednesday that a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet was also shot down.

Domestic air travel in major Pakistani cities such as Islamabad and Lahore has been suspended as the crisis between the two nuclear-armed neighbors continues to escalate.

The following infographic shows the military balance between both nations with India firmly ahead in terms of budget, troop numbers and volume of equipment. The figures are primarily based on reporting from the Institute of Strategic Studies and published by Al Jazeera.

Why the India-Pakistan Crisis Isn’t Likely to Turn Nuclear

By Sumit Ganguly

In May 1999, an Indian military patrol stumbled on several groups of Pakistani soldiers who had set up posts in Kargil, in the Indian-controlled section of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Within weeks, India and Pakistan plunged into in their fourth war since 1947. The region’s mountainous terrain made land operations difficult, but throughout the fighting the Indian military exercised a surprising degree of restraint. Indian pilots scrupulously refrained from crossing or firing over the line of control, the de facto border in Jammu and Kashmir, despite coming under punishing fire from the Pakistani side. The Kargil War, as the conflict became known, ended two months after fighting broke out, when the Indian military recaptured the territory it had originally controlled.

Analysts generally point to Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons the previous year as the cause of India’s restraint. Indian policymakers likely feared that crossing the line of control would trigger a wider conflagration, one that could turn nuclear.

'Unlikely Modi will take another swing at Pak'

Seven years ago, in the spring of 2012, Christopher Clary, then a PhD candidate in political science at MIT, forecast What an India-Pakistan war might look like(external link).

Seven years later, Rediff.com's Nikhil Lakshman checked in with Dr Clary -- now an assistant professor of political science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, Albany, New York -- on his assessment of last week's military joust between India and Pakistan. This is what he said:

Will matters now settle down? Or are we looking at a 1965esque lull before an onslaught of serious hostilities?
Do you believe that the situation could easily deteriorate and lead to a conventional war?
Can India and Pakistan still pull back from likely war? How?

It seems more likely than not that the February 2019 crisis is over.

Trump Announces Decision to Revoke India’s ‘Developing Country’ GSP Status

By Ankit Panda

On Monday evening, U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced in a letter to the U.S. Congress that he had decided to end a favorable trade provision for India, along with Turkey. The decision refers to India’s status as a developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The U.S. decision is likely to affect as much as $5.6 billion in Indian goods.

In a letter to Congress, Trump notified U.S. lawmakers of his “intent to terminate the designation of India as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.” The measure can take effect sixty days after Congress and the Indian government have been notified of the U.S. decision.

“I am taking this step because, after intensive engagement between the United States and the Government of India, I have determined that India has not assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India,” Trump added. Turkey’s case was addressed in a separate letter.

Pakistan won’t abandon its proxy war after Balakot, but will find new ways of waging it


If India’s political and public reaction is excessive, it might compel the Pakistani military leadership to escalate in an attempt to save face.

The optimum Indian military response to the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s attack on Indian security forces at Pulwama would be one that falls between two thresholds: high enough to impose costs on the Pakistani military-jihadi complex, but not so high that it would escalate to a higher level of conflict. The Narendra Modi government’s use of air power to strike at the Jaish-e-Mohammed infrastructure in Balakot Tuesday satisfies the first of these conditions. It remains to be seen if it satisfies the second too.

Meanwhile, the IAF strikes that took out targets 80km across the Line of Control put paid to the Pakistani argument that thanks to its nuclear arsenal, India didn’t really have a feasible military option against its proxy war through militants and terrorists.

Islamic Countries Engage with China Against the Background of Repression in Xinjiang

By: Roie Yellinek

Throughout 2018, a steadily growing body of evidence revealed the existence of a vast network of detainment facilities in China’s western Xinjiang Province, in which hundreds of thousands of Uighurs—a Turkic-speaking and majority Muslim ethnic group—are or have been confined for extended periods of time (China Brief, May 15 2018; China Brief, November 5 2018). Many of these facilities function as “transformation through education” centers, in which detainees are made subject to abusive treatment and severe psychological pressure to proclaim loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (China Brief, February 1; Freedom House, February 13). Even outside such facilities, the Chinese authorities have created a pervasive surveillance regime in Xinjiang that is one of the most repressive in the world (Human Rights Watch, September 9 2018;Congressional Executive Commission on China, July 26 2018).

Rivalries and Relics: Examining China’s Buddhist Public Diplomacy

By: Sudha Ramachandran

In October 2018, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) hosted over 1,000 Buddhist scholars and representatives from 55 countries and regions at the Fifth World Buddhist Forum (WBF) in Putian, in China’s southeastern Fujian Province (Xinhua, October 28 2018). First held in 2006, and since convened every three years, the WBF has become a prominent event intended to promote China’s stature and influence in the Buddhist world. Buddhist monks and scholars representing different branches of Buddhism participate in WBF gatherings, and prominent international Buddhist leaders from across the world are invited to participate.

The officially atheist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has adopted religion for diplomatic purposes: Buddhism’s central tenets of non-violence, peace and tolerance make it a rich source of potential soft power, and the cultivation of Buddhist communities is emerging as an important component of the PRC’s initiatives in public diplomacy. In addition to hosting the WBF, China has cultivated Buddhist leaders, sent Buddhist relics on tours through Asian countries, and sought to use Buddhist ties to forge closer social linkages in Taiwan and Hong Kong (see below). The PRC has further promoted Buddhist public diplomacy efforts in countries impacted by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), hoping that Buddhism will soften China’s image in the eyes of local populations, and convince other nations that its rise as a global power is a peaceful one.

China’s Not At All Autonomous Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region – Analysis

By June Teufel Dreyer*

(FPRI) — The northwestern-most area of the People’s Republic of China has fit uneasily into the PRC since the day its leaders bowed to the inevitable and declared their allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Then mostly populated by Turkic Muslims who felt more kinship with Central Asia, the area had been incorporated into China as a province only in 1884, after the Manchu Qing dynasty feared that Czarist Russia had designs on it: the name itself means “New Territory.” The Soviet Union also coveted the area and, despite repeated affirmations of friendship with the PRC, maintained control of several districts in the north of Xinjiang until 1954. When Mao Zedong’s 1958 Great Leap Forward caused the death of millions, the U.S.S.R. was happy to give asylum to refugees, even providing them with a radio station to urge those who remained in China to join them, since life was so much better on the Soviet side of the border.

Only a few years after normalcy had been restored in China, Mao began the disastrous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, whose effort to create a socialist culture aimed to erase the cultures of all the country’s ethnic minorities, including those of Xinjiang. Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kirghiz and others were ordered to dress as Han Chinese, speak mandarin, and memorize the thoughts of Chairman Mao. While the furor eventually abated, memories of it did not. The drive to assimilate continued, albeit in less radical form, meeting both passive resistance and intermittent unrest. The government retaliated swiftly: after one such protest, a historic neighborhood of Kashgar was razed, allegedly to provide residents with more modern accommodations. In light of the shoddy standards that characterize recent Chinese construction, few were convinced that the action was motivated by concern for their welfare.

The Future of China-U.S. Military Relations

Joel Wuthnow

The U.S.-China military relationship has been relatively stable over the past few years. Both sides’ leaders recognize that effective relations between the two militaries help prevent crises and stabilize the broader bilateral relationship.

Events in late 2018, however, demonstrated how easily the military relationship could get off track. On September 20, the U.S. State Department sanctioned the People’s Liberation Army (P.L.A.) Equipment Development Department and its director for purchasing advanced arms from Russia for a sanctions violation. Beijing responded by postponing a military dialogue, curtailing a visit to the United States by the P.L.A. Navy commander, effectively cancelling a visit to China by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and denying a U.S. Navy port call in Hong Kong. Also in late September, a Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur in the South China Sea in what the U.S. Pacific Fleet called a series of “increasingly aggressive maneuvers.” While there have been a number of close incidents involving U.S. and Chinese aircraft and ships in recent years, the near-collision occurring alongside a precipitous decline in high-level U.S.-China military talks raised serious questions about the potential for a clash to escalate out of control.

The Problem With Xi’s China Model

By Elizabeth C. Economy

As China’s National People’s Congress and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, gather this March in Beijing for their annual two-week sessions to discuss the country’s challenges and path forward, President Xi Jinping may well be tempted to take a victory lap. Within his first five years in office, he has pioneered his own style of Chinese politics, at last upending the model Deng Xiaoping established 30 years ago. As I wrote in Foreign Affairs last year (“China’s New Revolution,” May/June 2018), Xi has moved away from Deng’s consensus-based decision-making and consolidated institutional power in his own hands. He has driven the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) more deeply into Chinese political, social, and economic life, while constraining the influence of foreign ideas and economic competition. And he has abandoned Deng’s low-profile foreign policy in favor of one that is ambitious and expansive.

And yet the mood in Beijing is far from victorious. As Xi begins his second five-year term as CCP general secretary and (soon) president, there are signs that the new model’s very successes are becoming liabilities. Too much party control is contributing to a stagnant economy and societal discontent, while too much ambition has cooled the initial ardor with which many in the international community greeted Xi’s vision of a new global order “with Chinese characteristics.”

Are We Seeing the Mekong River's 'Last Days'?

By Benjamin Zawacki

In the introduction to his new book, Brian Eyler cautions that “the reader should not get the impression from the book’s title that the Mekong River is in its death throes.” Yet 320 pages later, he signs off with a warning: “Unless we begin today to see the river and the landscape around it as a connected system and act jointly for its conservation, the Mighty Mekong’s last days are here and now.” Regardless of the impressions Eyler wishes to convey — of the river itself, of China, of the other five riparian nations, of the peoples and cultures within its basin — his final words are the far more convincing. To his credit, Eyler offers an unbiased, balanced, and nuanced sitrep of the challenges facing the Mekong, and one cannot begrudge him a hopeful, if not optimistic, perspective. But his facts, expertly marshaled and managed, ultimately betray him: at every level of elevation, latitude, organization, and politics, Eyler’s “connected system” is being pulled apart.

The Erasure of the Islamic State's Caliphate Won't Ensure Its Defeat

The Islamic State core is losing the final sliver of its self-declared caliphate. State sponsorship, sectarian violence and a power vacuum had allowed the Islamic State to flourish. Unless these external factors are addressed, the Islamic State core could re-emerge as a serious threat, especially as the United States turns its attention elsewhere. 

The U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an operation March 1 backed by U.S. artillery and air support in an effort to defeat the remnant core fighters of the Islamic State in the last sliver of the militant group's self-declared "caliphate," the term it used to describe the territory in Syria and Iraq it conquered and governed under its austere interpretation of Sharia. With the destruction of the so-called caliphate imminent, many have begun to wonder if the jihadist group could ever recover. But this is the wrong question. Instead of asking whether the Islamic State core can recover as many — including Stratfor — did when the group was on the ropes in Iraq in 2010, the proper question is whether the Islamic State core will be permitted to recover again. The difference between these two questions is subtle, but vitally important.

The Big Picture

Like It or Not in Iraq, U.S. Ties Are Here to Stay

As the United States begins to withdraw troops from Syria, maintaining a presence in Iraq will become increasingly important to countering terrorism and Iranian influence in the region. The economic threat of U.S. sanctions because of Baghdad's ties to Iran will continue to spark debate and fracture Iraq's dominant Shiite political elite. Some Iraqi lawmakers have been pushing to legally expel the United States from their country, though such legislation is unlikely to pass. Despite mounting anti-U.S. sentiment in the country, Iraq's pervasive security concerns will solidify its need to keep ties with Washington. 

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Second-Quarter Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments over the next quarter.

In December, the United States abruptly announced it would begin withdrawing troops from Syria, leaving neighboring Iraq to consider how its own political and security situation might be affected. However, Washington has assured Baghdad that it does not intend to change its deployment in Iraq, where it currently maintains more than 4,000 troops. This is partially because Iraq's security and stability depend on its relationship with the United States, and partially because leaving Iraq would force Baghdad to align more closely with Iran.

Maximum Pressure Yields Minimum Results


A much-awaited summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed soon after it began last week when the two parties failed to reach an agreement that would satisfy them both. Both sides had hoped to get their interlocutor to give up a critical lever: Trump sought North Korean denuclearization, and Kim wanted sanctions relief. To get to the negotiating table, the Trump administration had imposed what it called “maximum pressure”—harsh sanctions and military threats designed to force an adversary to change its behavior—around which Trump’s foreign-policy doctrine increasingly seems to revolve.

Trump has deployed pressure campaigns against friends and foes alike. Over the past two years, doing so has brought him some purported successes—for example, the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement on terms his administration believes to be more favorable to the United States and the ongoing trade war with China. But its record in two of the most pressing nuclear nonproliferation challenges today, North Korea and Iran, highlights the strategy’s potential dangers.

Why America is Losing the Plot in Asia


Summary: In recent years, America's leading role in Asia has been challenged by the deepening cooperation among Asian states, and particularly the emergence of Asian-led initiatives and institutions to develop connectivity and foster strategic cooperation.

The United States has long played a leading role in Asia through its network of security alliances and the economic influence of U.S.-led Bretton Woods financial institutions. In recent years, however, this has been challenged by the deepening cooperation among Asian states, and particularly the emergence of Asian-led initiatives and institutions to develop connectivity and foster strategic cooperation. Will the United States be a passive spectator to Asia’s ongoing transformation, or can U.S. policy adapt to a changing Asia?

Join us for a conversation between Evan A. Feigenbaum and Ashok Kantha, as they discuss whether the United States is losing the plot in Asia, and the implications that this will have for the existing global order. The discussion will be moderated by Rudra Chaudhuri, and followed by a Q&A session.

We’ll Soon Learn Whether You Can Post 3D-Gun Plans Online


A proposed export-rules change has snagged over the question: is publishing such designs a boon to U.S. business or foreign terrorists?

It’s approaching high noon for a showdown between the Trump administration and Congress over 3D-printed guns.

The Trump administration notified Congress last month that it intended to move jurisdiction for most commercial firearms exports from the State Department to the Commerce Department, a seemingly arcane bureaucratic move that has ignited a firestorm of controversy. Critics say Commerce’s laxer export rules will allow criminals, terrorists, and human rights abusers access to a host of new weapons — including metal-free “ghost guns” manufactured on 3D printers.

Congress had 30 days to object to the rules change. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on Feb. 26 issued a hold on the proposal, in part, he argued in associated legislation with other Senate Democrats, because it would allow for the “unfettered proliferation of untraceable, virtually undetectable, 3D printable guns that threaten public safety.”

Iran's Syria Strategy: The Evolution of Deterrence

Hassan Ahmadian, Payam Mohseni 

Syria today stands at the crossroads of regional and international geopolitical currents. The Arab uprisings of 2010–11 and the ensuing instability that shook the Syrian regime have created a strategic battleground for regional dominance and Great Power contestation.1 In the seventh year of the war, the conflict shows no sign of drawing to an end, but instead has entered a new stage. This phase is seeing a shift away from proxy war and an increasing risk of direct interstate clashes, with a real possibility of confrontations involving Israel, Iran, Turkey, Russia and the United States.

The partnership between Syria and Iran stretches back over four decades, and the bond between these two very different states raises an important research question for the field. What is propelling this enduring alliance in a region known for its dizzying array of constantly shifting partnerships? Many initially believed the alliance would be short-lived, tied as it had been to exigencies facing Iran and Syria during the Iran–Iraq War,2 or that it would not be strategically significant or durable owing to ‘underlying incompatibilities in their respective interests and aspirations and in the political ideologies underpinning the structure of their respective governments and societies’.3 These ideological differences—between Syria as a secular pan-Arabist state and Iran as a theocratic pan-Islamist power— were considered too fundamental to allow for any genuine long-term partnership even over shared geopolitical interests.

National Counter-Information Operations Strategy

Gabriel Cederberg 


American democracy is under attack. From the daily news to our social media feeds, nation-state competitors target the United States and its citizens, seeking to fuel division and chaos at home while undermining our interests abroad and our will to defend them. It is critical that policymakers and citizens understand these threats and how to counter them. This playbook seeks to ensure that U.S. citizens, not foreign actors, determine the future of U.S. democracy.

While nation-state competitors have employed propaganda and information operations (IO) targeting the United States for decades, in recent years their efforts have changed dramatically. The rise of the Internet and social media as mechanisms for disseminating news has made our country both more globally interconnected and simultaneously more vulnerable to foreign efforts to destabilize our democracy. There is now clear evidence that Russia used influence operations designed to undermine U.S. democracy and citizens’ trust in its integrity in both the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. Adversaries are actively using information as a weapon to attack the United States, our political system, and citizens’ trust in it. 

Russia Goes on a Global Search for Opportunity

As Russia's standoff with the West intensifies, Moscow will expand ties with non-Western countries around the world, from China and Syria to those in South Asia, South America and Africa. Russia will be opportunistic in pursuing its strategy, prioritizing countries that present direct economic and security benefits for Moscow, as well as those that offer leverage to the Kremlin in Russia's broader competition with the United States. Russia will never fully replace its economic ties with the West, but its diversification strategy will grow in scope and breadth so long as the Moscow-West standoff endures. 

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Second-Quarter Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments over the next quarter.

It's been more than five years since the Euromaidan uprising in Kiev — an event which began in Ukraine, but whose consequences have reverberated around the world. In addition to sparking Russia's annexation of Crimea and the ongoing separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, the uprising drove a wedge between the West and Russia, whose relations have plummeted to their lowest point since the Cold War. The United States and the European Union have sought to economically isolate Moscow through sanctions, while both Russia and NATO have angered each other by engaging in military buildups.

Fears Rise in Nigeria as Opposition Leader Moves to Challenge Election Results

Philip Obaji Jr.

LAGOS, Nigeria—The last time a leader of an opposition party in Nigeria rejected the results of the country’s presidential election, nearly eight years ago, hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands displaced in the ensuing violence. Now there are fears of a similar scenario unfolding as Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president long tainted by corruption allegations, heads to court to challenge the outcome of the Feb. 23 election that President Muhammadu Buhari easily won.

Atiku, as Abubakar is widely known in Nigeria, lost by nearly 4 million votes, with 11,262,978 against Buhari’s 15,191,847. He and his supporters dispute the claim by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission that voter turnout was higher in the northeastern states of Borno and Yobe, where Buhari won handsomely, than in any other part of the country, arguing that frequent deadly attacks by the militant group Boko Haram, including on Election Day, would have made it impossible for people to turn out en masse. They are also claiming that the vote totals from Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi and Katsina states, where the president won by more than 2 million votes, were hugely inflated. 

What Scares Russia’s Generals the Most? Russians

Leonid Bershidsky

Modern weaponry plays a big role in these mutual threats. But Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov is now fretting that the U.S. will deploy a “Trojan horse” strategy of fostering a fifth column within Russia and its allies. That the general should be looking so publicly over his shoulder at his own people should trouble citizens.

On Saturday, he talked about the threat in a speech at a conference at the Academy of Military Sciences. He said:

The U.S. and its allies have set an aggressive vector for their foreign policy. They are developing offensive military actions such as a “global strike” and “multi-domain battle,” using “colored revolution” and “soft power” technology. Their goal is to liquidate the statehood of undesirable countries, to undermine their sovereignty and replace their legally elected governments. That’s what happened in Iraq, in Libya and in Ukraine. Currently such action is observable in Venezuela. The Pentagon has started developing a completely new strategy of military action, which has already been called “Trojan Horse.” It’s based on the active use of the “fifth column protest potential” to destabilize the situation along with precision strikes on the most important targets.

Mourning the INF Treaty

By Tom Nichols

On February 1, the Trump administration made official what had been in the offing for some time: the United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Signed in 1987, the treaty banned the United States and Russia from developing or deploying any ground-launched missiles that could travel between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, or about 300 to 3,400 miles. Washington claims—correctly—that Russia is building and testing systems prohibited by the treaty, including a new cruise missile that the United States claims can travel at prohibited ranges. The Russians have responded by announcing their own plans to withdraw and develop new weapons. 

The INF Treaty was one of the few arms control agreements that became an institution in its own right. The first treaty to eliminate an entire class of nuclear delivery systems, it was the foundation for denuclearizing most of Europe. Today, Russia is violating the agreement, and the Trump administration is right to protest. But provocative as Russia’s cheating may be, the U.S. decision to walk away rather than make a serious effort to bring Moscow back into compliance will undermine the long-term security of both Europe and the United States. 

An Overview Of French Colonialism In The Maghreb – Analysis

By Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

In the European race to divide the land of the world among themselves during the colonial era, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria were each separately colonized by the French. As a matter of fact, French colonialism was manifested differently within each country, particularly in Algeria, where the colonial impact was much more dramatic than in either Morocco or Tunisia.


THE NATIONAL SECURITY Agency develops advanced hacking tools in-house for both offense and defense—which you could probably guess even if some notable examples hadn't leaked in recent years. But on Tuesday at the RSA security conference in San Francisco, the agency demonstrated Ghidra, a refined internal tool that it has chosen to open source. And while NSA cybersecurity adviser Rob Joyce called the tool a "contribution to the nation’s cybersecurity community" in announcing it at RSA, it will no doubt be used far beyond the United States.

You can't use Ghidra to hack devices; it's instead a reverse-engineering platform used to take "compiled," deployed software and "decompile" it. In other words, it transforms the ones and zeros that computers understand back into a human-readable structure, logic, and set of commands that reveal what the software you churn through it does. Reverse engineering is a crucial process for malware analysts and threat intelligence researchers, because it allows them to work backward from software they discover in the wild—like malware being used to carry out attacks—to understand how it works, what its capabilities are, and who wrote it or where it came from. Reverse engineering is also an important way for defenders to check their own code for weaknesses and confirm that it works as intended.

NSA-Cyber Command Chief Recommends No Split Until 2020


SAN FRANCISCO — The commander of the nation’s top military cybersecurity organizations, the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, has recommended they split from each other next year, Defense One has confirmed. That’s another delay for an organizational change first planned for in 2016 and since slowed to allow officials time to sort out the authorities for the civilian agency and military command and ensure that both entities can perform well independently.

Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads NSA and CYBERCOM, recommended to former Defense Secretary James Mattis last August that the split be put off until 2020, current and former intelligence officials told Defense One this week. Those officials believe the general’s recommendation will be accepted by Pentagon leaders, though Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s views are not known. A Pentagon spokesman said no official decision has been made. Previous reports have hinted at the timing without confirming a year. In December, Defense Onefiled a Freedom of Information Act request to the command for the information, which was denied on the basis that the information was “pre-decisional.”

Protecting Democracy in an Era of Cyber Information War

Joseph S. Nye 


The early years of the Internet were marked by a libertarian optimism about its decentralizing and democratizing effects. Information would be widely available and undercut the monopolies of authoritarian governments. Big Brother would be defeated. President Clinton believed that China would liberalize and that Communist Party efforts to control the Internet were like trying to “nail jello to the wall.” The Bush and Obama administrations shared this optimism and promoted an Internet Freedom Agenda that included subsidies and technologies to assist dissidents in authoritarian states to communicate. 

DARPA Approaches Massive New AI, Machine Learning 'Breakthrough'

By Kris Osborn 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is pursuing an unprecedented machine-learning “breakthrough” technology -- and pioneering a new cybersecurity method intended to thwart multiple attacks at one time and stop newer attacks less recognizeable to existing defenses.

A DARPA-led “Lifelong Learning Machines” (L2M) program, intended to massively improve real-time AI and machine learning, rests upon the fundamental premise that certain machine-learning-capable systems might struggle to identify, integrate and organize some kinds of new or complicated yet-to-be-seen information.

“If something new is different enough, the system may fail. This is why I wanted to have some kind of machine learning that learns during experiences. Systems do not know what to do in some situations,” Hava Siegelmann, DARPA program manager at the Information Innovation Office and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts.

“Triad” Military Education and Training Reforms: The PLA’s Cultivation of Talent for Integrated Joint Operations

By: Kevin McCauley


The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is currently implementing what it calls the “Triad” military education and training reform concept intended to develop more capable joint commanders and staff officers. This reform effort is critical to the implementation of integrated joint operations, and to the transformation of the PLA into an advanced military force. The operationalization of integrated joint and “system of systems” operations is placing complex requirements on joint officers—to include the command and coordination of dispersed forces, employment of joint modular task forces down to the tactical level, employment of informationized weapons and equipment, and the introduction of innovative operational concepts (Jamestown Foundation, January 2017).

Although military educational reforms began more than two decades ago, the PLA continues to identify numerous and significant problems in cultivating joint talent. Communist Party General Secretary and PLA Commander-in-Chief Xi Jinping has stated that the development of joint command officers is an urgent priority for addressing the shortage of qualified personnel. [1] The PLA has identified numerous problems in its military educational institutions: outdated faculty and courses; fraud and corruption that pollutes the academic environment, and diverts funds and resources; poor coordination between military educational institutions and units; as well as poor planning and management in implementing military education reforms. Xi has accused the military academic institutions of the “four winds” (si feng, 四风)—namely formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and waste—and has asserted that reforms will be a difficult struggle that must be won. [2]

Great Power Failure in the ‘Hot Wars’ of the Cold War: A Strategic Theory Analysis

Euan Findlater

“We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one. We sought physical attrition; our opponents aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla war - the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.”[i]

--Henry Kissinger


In this quote, Henry Kissinger was specifically discussing how the United States was ultimately defeated in the Vietnam War by a guerrilla force. However, Kissinger’s idea can be extended to encapsulate why, during the Cold War, great powers infrequently succeeded in the conflicts they embarked on against seemingly inferior adversaries. As compared to the total war of the Second World War, the ‘hot wars’ of the Cold War were primarily limited conflicts in which big powers fought guerrilla insurgents. This essay will use both theory and case studies to analyze why the great powers failed in the limited asymmetric wars of the Cold War. The theories presented include: Strategic Paradoxes of Asymmetric War Theory, Limited War Theory, Military Organizational Culture Theory and Civil-Military Relations Theory. The case studies that will illustrate the analysis of these theories are the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) and the Vietnam War (1955-1975). These two case studies have been chosen because they are two of the biggest ‘hot wars’ to be fought by each of the great powers of the Cold War – the Soviet Union and the United States – and thus, comparing and contrasting two different conflicts of two different great powers allows for a more substantial overall analysis. Overall, the theories and case studies show that the great powers failed for two overarching reasons. First, was that they failed to balance what is known as the secondary Clausewitzian trinity of the people, the government and the military.[ii] Furthermore, they failed to appreciate the three crucial maxims taught by the infamous Carl Von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu: they did not know themselves, they did not know their adversaries and they did not know the kind of war that they were engaging in. [iii]