6 June 2019

The India-France Security Partnership in the Indo-Pacific: Next Steps

By Abhijnan Rej

Judging by social media reactions from Singapore, the French defense minister Florence Parly’s speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue the past weekend hit all the right notes: trenchant, humorous, and combative in her realism-shaped defense of the rules-based order. But Parly, as she noted in the beginning of her speech, didn’t come to Singapore alone. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, complete with a strike group, was docked in the Changi Naval Base during the course of the weekend dialogue, adding symbolism to a substantial speech. But equally notably, her ministry released the latest iteration of its Asia-Pacific security policy in the run-up to the speech, on May 24. Renaming it as “France and Security in the Indo-Pacific” – the document is a new edition of the 2016 “France and Security in the Asia-Pacific” – it accentuates the importance of the Indian Ocean, and therefore of India, for the Élysée Palace.


Sameer Joshi

How the Pakistani state has managed to clamp down on eyewitness accounts, online videos of the crash and initial ISPR flip flops — to obscure the fact that a PAF F-16 jet was shot down by an Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison on 27 February 2019. Interestingly, after over a month post the aerial clash the narrative is being twisted significantly — with a distinguished foreign media house jumping in the fray and claiming that no F-16 was shot down by the IAF that day. Nothing could give more succour to the dirty tricks department at ISPR, led by the infamous Major General Asif Ghafoor of the Pakistan Army, who has been at the forefront of Pakistan’s hybrid war campaign to deny any manner of worthwhile information scrutiny on the matter since the day the PAF lost one of its most advanced platform to a bold and gritty IAF counterattack. While the evidence is right in front of us to sift through its worth; the first indication of a massive coverup by the Pakistani state on this intriguing subject was provided by none other than Major General Ghafoor himself — who it seems, was overwhelmed by the ‘truth of it all’ in those initial few hours post the aerial clash.

Tragically for the Pakistani nation, there is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact and somewhere in between this blatant game of lies and deception — is a F-16 tail number and a dedicated PAF pilot — both of whom having served Pakistan to the best of their ability; now have had their records unceremoniously wiped out from the face of the earth to serve a wider subterfuge of upholding the morale and image of the Pāk Fizāʾiyah, the pantheon of past glory and Pakistan’s best shot at hitting back at India in these times of turmoil.

IAF’s shoots down a PAF F-16

Modi’s Problems at Home Overshadow Trump’s Latest Trade Threat to India

By Vindu Goel

MUMBAI, India — President Trump has made India the latest target in his widening global trade war, but the country’s newly re-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, has bigger problems to address.

On Friday — the first day of Mr. Modi’s second term, and the same day the White House terminated a special trade status for India — the Indian government had reported that the country’s economy was growing at the slowest rate in five years and that unemployment was at a 45-year peak.

Mr. Modi and his new ministers responded with two acts that illustrated their top priority: reinvigorating the Indian economy.

With farmers suffering across the country, the first act of the new cabinet was to extend a program of cash handouts to cover 20 million more farm workers — a sector that Mr. Trump wants to open to more competition from American growers.

Perspectives on Peace from Taliban Areas of Afghanistan

by Ashley Jackson 

Notably absent from the debate around peace in Afghanistan are the voices of those living in parts of the country that have borne the brunt of the fighting since 2001—particularly those living in areas under Taliban control or influence. This report provides insight into how Afghan men and women in Taliban-influenced areas view the prospects for peace, what requirements would have to be met for local Taliban fighters to lay down their arms, and how views on a political settlement and a future government differ between Taliban fighters and civilians.

For noncombatants living in areas of Afghanistan under Taliban control or influence, the greatest desire is for an end to violence. Although many Taliban fighters also are tired of the conflict, they express little desire to lay down arms until their goals are achieved. 

Taliban members consistently articulated two objectives—withdrawal of US forces and establishment of a “truly” Islamic government. However, few had concrete ideas on how such a government would differ from the current Islamic republic beyond strict implementation of sharia. 

Iran gas pipeline deal with Pakistan hampered by US sanctions

Pakistan has backed out of a joint gas pipeline deal with Iran due to the threat of US sanctions. Pakistan could face a heavy financial penalty, as it promised to complete the project in a bilateral agreement with Iran.

Plans to complete a pipeline delivering Iranian gas to Pakistan stalled after Pakistan's energy ministry said last week that it could not continue with the project as long as Tehran was subject to US sanctions.

The pipeline agreement was first signed by Iran and Pakistan in 1995, and the US has repeatedly opposed the deal.

Iran completed its section of the pipeline in 2011, and reportedly offered Pakistan $500 million (€448 million) to help with construction. The estimated total cost of the pipeline is $7 billion (€6.2 billion).

What makes Asia ‘Asian’?

In this second installment of a two-part interview, Parag Khanna, the managing partner of FutureMap, explains what makes Asia stand out, in politics and economics. In the first installment, Khanna discussed the ways the world economy is becoming increasingly Asia-centric. To dive deeper into Asia’s future, McKinsey’s experts and a diverse range of voices will offer their views in a series of publications launching the summer of 2019. The following is an edited transcript of Khanna’s conversation with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland.

Technocratic governance

One of the hardest issues for me to try to tease out and condense into a generalized argument about Asia was to describe or capture what I call the “new Asian values.”

I identified three sets of values that I think Asians loosely—emphasis on loosely—have in common. The first is technocratic governance. And please remember that there are more Asians living in democracies—proper, respectable democracies—than in the entire rest of the world put together. So the notion that Asia is simply Chinese authoritarianism writ large is kind of ridiculous. That said, even in the democracies there is a certain deference to executive authority if it has a long-term vision around national inclusive development.

Why the Trade Arithmetic Favors China


US President Donald Trump’s decision to increase tariffs on Chinese goods risks disproportionately harming the US economy. Besides raising prices for American consumers, higher tariffs will make key production inputs more expensive or scarcer – seriously damaging US productivity and competitiveness in the long run.

It is true, as US President Donald Trump has repeatedly pointed out, that his country runs a large trade deficit with China. In 2018, the US exported goods worth $120.3 billion to China – a substantial amount, but dwarfed by the $539.5 billion of goods that it imported from China. And while firing the latest salvo on May 10, when the US hiked tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%, Trump threatened to impose the same rate on virtually all imports from China. In retaliation, China imposed reciprocal tariffs on $60 billion worth of US exports, scheduled to take effect on June 1.

No one doubts that China has historically flouted many of the global norms of trade and exchange-rate management. But trying to correct this now by raising tariffs on Chinese goods is futile. Worse, it would disproportionately harm the US.

China Threatens To Blacklist U.S. Firms Refusing To Supply Huawei

Zak Doffman

On 31 May, China announced its own "non-reliable entity list" in direct response to the U.S. sanctions against Huawei, its 70 affiliates and other Chinese firms. The language in the announcement suggested companies would be singled out for their discriminatory action against Chinese entities, for example adhering to U.S. sanctions against Huawei.

Announcing the news, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said that "foreign enterprises, organizations or individuals that do not comply with market rules, deviate from a contract’s spirit or impose blockades or stop supplies to Chinese enterprises for non-commercial purposes, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, will be included on a list of ‘unreliable entities'."

Along the same lines, China's Cyberspace Administration issued a draft set of beefed-up cybersecurity regulations for "public" consultation last week, designed "to improve the security and controllability of key information infrastructure and maintain national security," companies purchasing "network products and services that affect or may affect national security" will now need to evaluate the national security risk before doing so.

China Has a Head Start in the New Space Race

By Namrata Goswami

On January 3, 2019, when China landed the Chang’e 4 probe on the Lunar South Pole, a first for humanity, the discourse on outer space shifted forever. For nearly 50 years, since July 20, 1969, we have lived in the Age of Apollo, which enabled humanity’s first steps on the moon. When dawn broke out on January 3, 2019, we entered the Age of Chang’e, focused on long-term settlement of the lunar poles.

Like NASA’s Apollo missions, named for the Greek god, China’s Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) is named after a mythical figure: Chang’e, a Chinese moon goddess. Unlike Apollo, however, China’s Chang’e lunar mission is not a “flags and footprints” enterprise. Instead, like its mythical namesake Chang’e, who made the moon her home, the CLEP is aimed at establishing a permanent presence on the lunar surface by 2036, with an aim to utilize lunar resources like titanium and uranium, as well as iron-ore and water ice for rocket construction and propellant. This in-space manufacturing capability is a vital step to achieve China’s plans for deep space exploitation, to include asteroid mining and build solar power stations in geo-synchronous orbit by 2050.

Confronting Threats From China: Assessing Controls on Technology and Investment, and Measures to Combat Opioid Trafficking

Scott Kennedy, deputy director for Freeman Chair in China Studies and director for Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy, testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on "Confronting Threats From China: Assessing Controls on Technology and Investment, and Measures to Combat Opioid Trafficking".

From Tiananmen to Today: The State of Chinese Activism

By Emile Dirks

On June 4, 1989, the People’s Liberation Army stormed into Tiananmen Square in Beijing. For two months, tens of thousands of protesters had gathered there to call on China’s ruling Communist Party to enact political reforms. Within a day, these hopes lay crushed under the treads of the army’s tanks.

Yet however improbably, in the decades that followed, new forms of activism grew. By turns contentious and cooperative, activists won important victories for individuals and communities across China. Now, at a time of deepening repression under President Xi Jinping, we must have faith that they will continue to do so.

1989 was a watershed year for Chinese politics. The brutal massacre of hundreds – perhaps thousands – of unarmed protestors in June and the passage of the restrictive Law on Assemblies, Processions, and Demonstrations that October revealed the sharp limits of post-Mao reforms. Social controls were lifted and market forces unleashed, but in the realm of politics, no concessions could be made. Since then, no movement has approached the scale and audacity of the 1989 Tiananmen protests. Only the Falun Gong religious sect sought to build a national following outside of the Communist Party’s control. Their brutal repression following protests outside of government headquarters at Zhongnanhai in 1999 reminded the world that the Party would brook no challenge to its power. Many brave individuals continued to speak openly of human rights and democracy, among them Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, and artist Ai Weiwei. The party rewarded them with imprisonment or exile.

Lessons for raising human rights issues with Beijing

Ryan Hass

At times like these, it is tempting to grow jaded about the prospects for change inside China. That would be a mistake. For the U.S. policy community, reflection is warranted, but resignation is not.

Beijing’s increasing heavy-handedness is more a symptom of fear than strength. It is borne in part from anxiety about the global trend of power diffusing from governments to non-state actors, a development that runs against the Communist Party’s desire to keep a tight grip on society. It also arises out of the Communist Party’s deep-seated concern that its legitimacy will come under scrutiny, particularly as economic growth continues to decelerate. Beijing’s endemic challenges in enforcing discipline within the Communist Party, particularly as it relates to corruption, also arouses anxieties. So, too, does latent admiration within Chinese society for values that America has sought to advance, even as popular views of the United States government come under fresh scrutiny.

Change inside China will occur on China’s timelines, not ours.



Chinese tech companies such as search engine Baidu and social media platform Tencent block Tiananmen-related posts and pages to comply with the country’s authoritarian internet rules. Some US companies do their bit, too. Apple and Microsoftcensor information in China as a condition of accessing the country’s lucrative but circumscribed population of more than 800 million netizens.

For Microsoft, that means keeping content the government deems sensitive out of Bing search results and off of its business networking site LinkedIn. Apple polices its app store differently in China than in other parts of the world, at the government’s direction. The company has said that it removes VPN apps that could be used to bypass China’s so-called Great Firewall, which blocks access to many overseas sites. A tool launched in February by Greatfire.org, which monitors Chinese censorship, indicates that anonymity tools and apps about Tibet and Falun Gong that are available in versions of the app store around the world do not appear in China’s.

A Chinese writer in exile chronicles the lives of the “thugs” who survived Tiananmen Square in 1989

By Isabella Steger

Liao was imprisoned in 1990 for four years for publicly reciting his poem,Massacre, which was written on the morning of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989, and dedicated to the victims. After he was freed, he wrote a number of books exploring the lives of the downtroddenin China, all of which are banned there. He continued to be subject to intense surveillance and travel restrictions after his release.

A month before the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, his bookBullets and Opium, a collection of stories of people who survived the incident, will be published in English for the first time. It was previously published in Taiwan and Germany, and will this year also be translated into Japanese and French.

The Impact Of US-China Trade Tensions

by Eugenio Cerutti, Gita Gopinath, and Adil Mohommad

US-China trade tensions have negatively affected consumers as well as many producers in both countries. The tariffs have reduced trade between the US and China, but the bilateral trade deficit remains broadly unchanged. While the impact on global growth is relatively modest at this time, the latest escalation could significantly dent business and financial market sentiment, disrupt global supply chains and jeopardize the projected recovery in global growth in 2019.

Caliphate, interrupted


After being bombarded by four years of U.S. airstrikes, a relentless ground campaign by Kurdish-led U.S. allies, and attacks from Russian, Syrian, and Iranian forces, the Islamic State has lost the last vestige of its physical caliphate.

But that defeat was neither final nor decisive, and policymakers should heed the War on Terror’s lessons to ensure the West doesn’t squander this advantage and enable ISIS, or its copycats and successor groups, to rally.

The history of ISIS itself tells us as much.

ISIS burst onto the scene in 2013 during the height of the Syrian civil war amid a growing insurgency in Iraq. Originally a branch of al Qaeda, ISIS and its leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi attempted to subsume the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

But al Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, rejected Baghdadi’s play and ultimately expelled him and his cadre.

The Iranian Missile Threat

By Anthony H. Cordesman

There is no doubt that Iran and North Korea present serious security challenges to the U.S. and its strategic partners, and that their missile forces already present a major threat within their respective regions. It is, however, important to put this challenge in context. Both nations have reason to see the U.S. strategic partners as threats, and reasons that go far beyond any strategic ambitions.

Iran is only half this story, but its missile developments show all too clearly why both countries lack the ability to modernize their air forces, which has made them extremely dependent on missiles for both deterrence and war fighting. They also show that the missile threat goes far beyond the delivery of nuclear weapons, and is already becoming far more lethal and effective at a regional level.

Iran's Perceptions of the Threat

Confronting Iran: To What End?

By Paul Rogers

Paul Rogers writes that during May, there was a marked increase in tensions between the US and Iran, increasing the potential for a potentially catastrophic new war in the Middle East. In this article, Rogers responds by exploring what’s motivating Washington, and key regional allies including Israel and Saudi Arabia, to run the risk of such destruction. He also argues that, given the risk of war, it is essential for the remaining members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to ensure that this agreement survives.


The escalation of tensions and threats between Iran and the United States during May has increased the potential for a new war in the Middle East with potentially catastrophic social and economic consequences. This briefing seeks to clarify what interests Washington and its key regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, see as worth risking such destruction. And what might be the alternatives?


What’s Left of the Left?

By Mitchell Abidor

For the past 29 weeks, every Saturday in France has centered on the demonstrations of the yellow vests. The left, the right, and the politically unclassified and unclassifiable have participated in these demonstrations, which have at times descended into violence on the part of either the demonstrators or the supposed forces of order. Whatever the politics of the participants, there has been one common denominator: bottomless hatred for French President Emmanuel Macron.

The right believes that Macron is turning France over to European bureaucrats and opening its doors to immigrants; the left views him as the president of the rich. To all who protest, and not only them, he is someone with no understanding of, or concern for, the average French citizen. And so, every week like clockwork, he has been reviled and insulted at weekend marches across France.

The European elections, which took place May 23–26, could not have come at a worse time for Macron. The elections would be a plebiscite on Macron’s rule, and the opposition saw them as a golden opportunity to humiliate him. The situation was ripe for a political turning, and the further growth of the far right seemed certain. A transformation of French and European politics was in the offing.

Czechs Are ‘Wary of Heading Down the Same Path as Hungary and Poland’

Tim Gosling 

PRAGUE—An estimated 50,000 protesters rallied in Prague’s iconic Wenceslas Square in mid-May—the center of 1989’s Velvet Revolution and the earlier anti-communist revolt in 1968—amid rising fears that the Czech Republic could follow neighboring Hungary and Poland in sliding toward authoritarian rule. The mass protest marked a fourth week of growing demonstrations, kicked off by the surprise announcement on April 18 that an ally of billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis would take over as the justice minister, just a day after Czech police had recommended that Babis be prosecuted for fraud. 

The protesters worry that the previous justice minister, Jan Knezinek, was pushed out as the high-profile investigation into corruption allegations against Babis had wrapped up.

Protest leaders insist that the appointment of Marie Benesova as justice minister is a clear threat to judicial independence. She has previously expressed support for Babis’ claim that the investigation is a plot by his opponents among the “political elite.” Benesova is also a longtime confidante to President Milos Zeman, an outspoken populist suspected to have struck a power-sharing pact with Babis in order to extend his own influence.

How the French Turned a Tennis Court Into a Garden

By Gerald Marzorati

If a tennis stadium is a stage of sorts, what should its backdrop be? That’s a question suggested by the new show court at the Stade Roland Garros, where the French Open is under way. It’s called Court Simonne-Mathieu, after a French tennis champion of the nineteen-thirties. She was also the leader of the women’s branch of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Forces during the Second World War. The court named after her is situated in the Serres d’Auteuil botanical garden, which has long been an uneasy Parisian neighbor of Roland Garros, at the southern edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Making your way there from the Roland Garros grounds, you can almost feel your pulse drop as you skirt Court No. 1, the circular “bullring,” and enter the botanical garden along the cobblestoned Allée de l’Orangerie. There’s a sharp diminishment of crowd noise and a glimpse of woods, and the faint scent of blooming thyme. And then there’s a low, curved construction that could, at first glance, be a big, glass-enclosed hoop house. That’s Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Liverpool’s Long Journey to Champions League Victory

By Ed Caesar

Last May, Dan Davies—a forty-eight-year-old writer and editor, and a lifelong Liverpool fan—spent several days and many hundreds of pounds travelling to and from Kiev, Ukraine, to watch Liverpool lose 3–1 in the Champions League final, to Real Madrid. A scarcity of flights and the ruthless profiteering of Kiev’s hoteliers had necessitated some baroque travel arrangements: a flight out via Amsterdam; a journey back via train to Odessa, Ukraine, followed by connecting flights through Central Europe; a makeshift bed on an apartment balcony. It was Davies’s thirty-sixth European away match following Liverpool, and his third European Cup final. It was a long way to go to watch your goalkeeper throw the game away. He told his wife and two young children that the Kiev trip would be his last such adventure.

Trump Is Said to Have Overruled Kushner and Other Aides in Threatening Mexico With Tariff

By Ana Swanson, Maggie Haberman and Alan Rappeport

WASHINGTON — President Trump pushed ahead with plans to impose tariffs on Mexico over the objections of several top advisers, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, opting to side with hard-line officials who were advocating the move, according to multiple administration officials and people briefed on their plans.

For several weeks, Mr. Trump’s top economic advisers have been urging the president not to use tariffs to punish Mexico for failing to stop the flow of migrants into the United States. Mr. Kushner, along with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s top trade negotiator, has warned the move would imperil the president’s other priorities, like passage of a revised North American trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

But in recent weeks, Mr. Trump, whose anger toward Mexico had steadily grown, suggested the idea of using tariffs, and the issue had been raised in a number of meetings on trade or immigration, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The world of espionage is facing tremendous technological


The world of espionage is facing tremendous technological, political, legal, social, and commercial changes. The winners will be those who break the old rules of the spy game and work out new ones. They will need to be nimble and collaborative and—paradoxically—to shed much of the secrecy that has cloaked their trade since its inception.

The balance of power in the spy world is shifting; closed societies now have the edge over open ones. It has become harder for Western countries to spy on places such as China, Iran, and Russia and easier for those countries’ intelligence services to spy on the rest of the world. Technical prowess is also shifting. Much like manned spaceflight, human-based intelligence is starting to look costly and anachronistic. Meanwhile, a gulf is growing between the cryptographic superpowers—the United States, United Kingdom, France, Israel, China, and Russia—and everyone else. Technical expertise, rather than human sleuthing, will hold the key to future success.


Public Attribution of Cyber Incidents

By Florian Egloff and Andreas Wenger

Florian Egloff and Andreas Wenger write that cyber incidents are increasingly being publicly attributed to specific perpetrators. However, the public attributions issued by states and cybersecurity companies often lack both transparency and verifiability. Our authors contends that strengthening trust in public attributions requires institutional mechanisms at the international level as well as the engagement of the state, the corporate sector and civil society.

This article was originally published in the CSS Analyses in Security Series by the Center for Security Studies on 8 May 2019. The article is also available in German and French.

Who did it? Identifying the perpetrators of cyber incidents has long been considered to be among the technically more demanding challenges. This remains true today. Owing to the structure of the internet, it is fairly easy for the attackers to achieve a degree of technical anonymity. This gives the attackers an advantage, since the affected party will often not know at first who carried out the attack. The multifaceted and usually time-consuming forensic search for the perpetrator is known as the attribution process. If the affected party believes they have identified the culprit, it must decide whether, and how, to react to the cyber incident. One possible course of action is public attribution, in which responsibility for the cyber incident is publicly assigned to a specific perpetrator.


by Linda Robinson

The United States faces a number of actors who use a wide range of political, informational, military, and economic measures to influence, coerce, intimidate, or undermine its interests or those of its friends and allies. This brief summarizes a study that provided a clearer view of these adversarial measures short of conventional warfare and derived implications and recommendations for the U.S. government and military. To this end, at the request of the sponsor, RAND Corporation researchers examined the historical and current practices that fall into this realm of conflict short of conventional war. The starting point was the term political warfare, as defined in 1948 at the outset of the Cold War by U.S. diplomat George Kennan: "Political warfare is the logical application of Clausewitz's doctrine in time of peace. In broadest definition, political warfare is the employment of all the means at a nation's command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives. Such operations are both overt and covert. They range from such overt actions as political alliances, economic measures (as . . . the Marshall Plan), and 'white' propaganda to such covert operations as clandestine support of 'friendly' foreign elements, 'black' psychological warfare and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.”

Political warfare is a historical term, but current analogues, such as gray zone, are also used to describe this realm of conflict…

The Army wants to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere

By: Mark Pomerleau   

As the Army moves forward with its multipronged network modernization, the branch has set its sights on servicewide communications capabilities integrated from top brass down to the smallest tactical units.

Army leaders expressed the need for technologies to enable units’ communication from the tip of the spear down to systems in vehicles and at command units.

“The ‘integrated’ part of ‘integrated tactical network’ is making sure we don’t field a set of stovepiped capabilities that do not provide the robust capability that we think we want for the future fight,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, told C4ISRNET.

“We’ve got to field this as an integrated capability. It’s not just about focusing on one piece or the other. We’ve got to work it all together along with network operations tools that help soldiers employ those system.”

Rethinking the Army’s network means rethinking space

By: Adam Stone

Army leaders are putting increased emphasis on satellite communications as they build out their vision for a future battlefield network.

In the past, satellite communications have been a precious commodity, available only to select users and, even then, not always readily accessible. The Army’s emerging tactical network vision would make SATCOM virtually ubiquitous and easier to use.

“We are talking about our entire tactical force, from our theater-level satellite network hubs around the globe all the way down to the handheld devices that a soldier employs on the battlefield,” said Col. Greg Coile, the project manager of the tactical network at the Army’s program executive office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.

The evolving Army network strives for seamlessness across the soldier experience. Army documents detail “a unified tactical network, enabling cohesive mission command at every stage of the joint operational spectrum — from home station to early entry, to the furthest edge of the battlefield.”


Gen. Tony Thomas

Editor’s note: We originally published this advice for new lieutenants from Gen. Tony Thomas last year, while he served as commander of US Special Operations Command.

1. At your first meeting with your first platoon sergeant:

Shut the door, tell him or her, “I think I’ve had a pretty good preparation to be a PL, but before I do anything, how about you tell me what you expect of me?” If they are good, and most of them are very good—and you aren’t the first or last PL they’ll have the privilege of serving with—they’ll say, “Be our leader, make the tough decisions, don’t try to be our buddy (we may eventually like you, but that’s not the objective), enforce the standards.” (And, while they may never say it, you can take to the bank that they will strive to never let you fail). You may be an LT, but you are their LT.

2. Care for people.

They are our most precious resource—the decisive, competitive, comparative advantage.

They are more important than hardware.

If you don’t really know them you won’t really care for them.

Active mentorship: Who are your “12 Disciples?”

Naval Task Groups Are Proliferating in the Indo-Pacific


France’s aircraft carrier is back in the region, leading a small flotilla, and it’s not alone.

Among the larger visitors to Singapore for this year’s IISSShangri-La Dialogue is a 43,000-ton symbol of France’s intention to remain engaged in the Indo-Pacific. 

Currently berthed at Changi Naval Base, the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is making its first trip to the region since the early 2000s, demonstrating Paris’ desire to increase its presence in the region. But as the centerpiece of a four-ship French task group, plus a submarine, the carrier also reflects a shift in the region’s maritime dynamics. As the blue-water capabilities of the main regional naval fleets mature, and other major navies refocus their deployments, task groups are again to the fore as a more potent and flexible means of exerting maritime influence.

There has been much preoccupation in the maritime domain with “gray zones” and the potential for hybrid competition at sea. But in the strategically turbulent waters of the Indo-Pacific, those interested in hard naval power have focused on individual ship deployments and encounters, or small group missions such as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, now on its 32nd deployment.