13 July 2019

Arming without a clear strategic direction

Brahma Chellaney

India’s new national budget accentuates its stagnant defence spending. India’s defence spending figure of $46.3 billion contrasts starkly with China’s $177.5 billion, underscoring the yawning power gap between the two. Indeed, India’s defence budget is smaller than even China’s trade surplus with it, highlighting the extent to which India underwrites China’s hostile actions against it.

To be sure, national security has little relationship with the level of defence spending. Bigger military outlays do not mean greater security. What matters is how the money is spent to boost indigenous capabilities, deter adversaries and project power. As a relatively poor country, India must balance national security demands with pressing socioeconomic priorities.

The government has rightly sought to rein in defence spending. However, military modernization continues to lag due to stalled defence reforms, with two-thirds of the defence budget earmarked just for salaries and other day-to-day running costs. On top of that, pensions cost $16.4 billion, an amount not part of the defence budget. The Army’s spending on modernization, for example, has been a mere 14% of its budget.

Optimizing India's Electricity Grid for Renewables Using AI and Machine Learning Applications

By Jeffrey D. Bean & Kartikeya Singh

India receives a great deal of attention for embracing renewable energy and setting aggressive deployment targets. Nationally, India has over 35 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity from wind power sources with another 25 GW from solar power sources—representing 60 GW of India’s total of 75 GW from renewable sources. India aims to go further in the coming years with a goal to reach 175 GW of renewable energy in the electric power sector by 2022. Adding to this, recent statements made by central government officials at an International Renewable Energy Agency meeting suggest the government would like to rachet its ambition up to deploy 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030. However, states are struggling to use all the power generated from renewable sources despite regulations requiring state utilities to dispatch power generated from those sources ahead of that produced by thermal power plants. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government strives to reach its ambitious target , it faces many challenges in crafting regulations that will shape the market to incentivize and optimize existing and future power generation assets, including allowing renewable sources to penetrate and expand in the power generation mix of various states. One set of tools India’s states and the central government should pursue to address these hurdles lies in artificial intelligence through machine learning applications.

Arming without a clear strategic direction

India’s growing affluence has led experts to predict a major rearmament effort. The second-most populous nation in the world is beginning to wield the economic power expected of such a behemoth. Its border with Pakistan is a tinderbox, the subcontinent remains vulnerable to religious extremism, and a military rivalry between India and China could erupt in the future. India has long had the motivation for modernizing its military—it now has the resources as well. What should we expect to see in the future, and what will be the likely ramifications? In Arming without Aiming, Stephen Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta answer those crucial questions. India’s armed forces want new weapons worth more than $100 billion. But most of these weapons must come from foreign suppliers due to the failures of India’s indigenous research and development. Weapons suppliers from other nations are queuing up in New Delhi. A long relationship between India and Russian manufacturers goes back to the cold war. More recently, India and Israel have developed strong military trade ties. Now, a new military relationship with the United States has generated the greatest hope for military transformation in India.

Raghuram Rajan: How Markets and the State Betray Communitie

This wide-ranging interview by Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel with Raghuram Rajan, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, covers topics ranging from his new book to the economic future of China and India. Joining the discussion, which occurred on Wharton Business Radio’s Behind the Markets show on SirusXM, were Jeremy Schwartz, Liqian Ren and Gaurav Sinha from WisdomTree ETF Investments. Schwartz is also the regular moderator for the show, which features Siegel.

In summarizing his new book, The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind, Rajan explained how the deterioration of support for people from their local communities, themselves left behind by markets and governments, has been the key reason for the rise in different varieties of populism, which he says now threaten capitalistic economic systems.

Trump's Mini-Trade War with India

Chad P. Bown

India has long been a challenging trading partner for the United States. And in the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has wavered between a begrudging participant and a full-scale obstructionist. Successive US administrations have tried to pry open its markets by offering trade concessions to get it to play by the multilateral rules, with limited success.

President Donald Trump is now reversing course, as he has on most trade issues, seeking instead to punish India with tariffs. Since the beginning of 2018, his administration has increased duties on 14 percent of India’s exports to the United States. India has recently retaliated by slapping new tariffs on about 6 percent of US exports to India, including $600 million of almonds from California.

There are key parallels with the Trump-China trade war. The largest is skepticism that Trump’s escalation intends to fix problems in the trade relationship. Despite the obvious differences with China—that it is smaller both as a trade relationship and a tariff conflict—the worry is that this is just another excuse for the self-proclaimed “Tariff Man” to impose even more duties on yet another country.


Two New IS Wilayat in South Asia: IS Reinvigorates Itself in Pakistan and India

By: Farhan Zahid

After the unexpected terrorist attack in Sri Lanka in May, Islamic State’s (IS) Central Shura (council) announced the establishment of two new Wilayat (governorates) in South Asia. The seven simultaneous and well-concerted terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday were orchestrated by National Tawheed Jamaat (NJT), a small cell of radicalized but educated individuals of affluent Sri Lankan Muslim families.

The first announcement by IS’ official Amaq Media was concerning the creation of Wilayat-e-Hind on May 12, followed by Wilayat-e-Pakistan on May 14 (VOA Pakistan, May 15). The new Wilayat are named after countries, which is a break from IS’ previous standards of naming its units after historic regions such as “Khorasan” for South and Central Asia. The move is in fact a departure from its past policy of not accepting nation-states as Wilayat of the self-proclaimed caliphate, especially in the case of Pakistan, a country carved out of British Indian dominions.

More interestingly, the Central Shura did not mention IS-Khorasan (IS-K), implying that IS-K would only be looking after the IS activities in Afghanistan and Central Asia. IS has not yet made any decision to dissolve or merge it with two new Wilayat and it is believed that IS-K would continue to operate under its current Emir Shaikh Aslam Farooqi from its areas of control in eastern Afghanistan. It is pertinent to mention that IS-K was established by IS after the proclamation of the Islamic Caliphate in June 2014. IS-K remains one of the most resilient chapters of IS around the globe as it continues to operate despite the loss of four consecutive emirs to US drone strikes since 2015. [1]

Tell Me How This Ends: Military Advice, Strategic Goals, and the “Forever War” in Afghanistan

When the United States invaded Afghanistan after the attacks on September 11, 2001, and then overthrew the Taliban regime, senior military officers were not predicting that the United States would be militarily involved 18 years later. Yet, after expending nearly $800 billion and suffering over 2,400 killed, the United States is still there, having achieved at best a stalemate. This CSIS report concludes that the mission in Afghanistan expanded from a limited focus on counterterrorism to a broad nation-building effort without discussion about the implications for the duration and intensity of the military campaign. This expansion occurred without considering the history of Afghanistan, the Soviet experience, and the decades-long effort required in successful nation-building efforts. The report makes a series of recommendations: improving the dialogue between senior military and civilian officials about desired goals/end states and the implied intensity/duration of a military campaign; continuing the development of military strategists; revising military doctrine publications to include discussion of choices about goals/end states; and taking more seriously the history and experience of others.

Can U.S. Reach Deal With Taliban by September in Afghanistan?

Hasib Danish Alikozai

With the United States aiming for a potential deal with the Afghan Taliban by September, analysts and Afghan officials are skeptical that a comprehensive deal could be reached when the Afghan government has yet to hold direct talks with the Taliban.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month, during his visit to Afghanistan and the region, that the U.S. is hoping for a peace deal in Afghanistan before Sept. 1.

“I hope we have a peace deal before Sept. 1st. That’s certainly our mission set,” Pompeo told reporters in Kabul.

“We have made real progress and are nearly ready to conclude a draft text outlining the Taliban’s commitments to join fellow Afghans in ensuring that Afghan soil never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists,” Pompeo added.


Afghanistan’s Bloody Peace Process

By Ezzatullah Mehrdad

Rohullah Nabizada, a 30-year old police officer and father of two, had returned to his duty in the provincial capital of Ghazni with the hope that peace talks between the United States and the Taliban would lead to the reduction of violence.

His hope was dashed by an explosive-laden Humvee military vehicle on May 22 this year. Nabizada became the first member of his family to lose his life to the ruthless war, already into its 18th year. Like thousands of others, Nabizada was sent back home to his mother in a wooden box.

Each morning, when the sunlight first hits remote Suka village in the Malistan district of Ghazni province, Khadija, Nabizada’s mother, cannot wash her face without crying. Her son is buried right in front of their house, on the top of a hill dedicated to fallen soldiers. The sorrow goes deep and she falls apart regularly.

Long Awaited Intra-Afghan Conference Brings Peace One Step Closer

By Kathy Gannon

Intra-Afghan talks that brought together Afghanistan’s warring sides ended Tuesday with a statement that appeared to push the country a step closer to peace, by laying down the outlines of a roadmap for the country’s future and ending nearly 18 years of war.

Washington’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, has said he is hoping for a final agreement by September 1, which would allow the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops. He will begin an eighth round of peace talks with the Taliban later on Tuesday also in Qatar’s capital, Doha, where the two-day conference was held.

Tuesday’s statement said that a post-war Afghanistan would have an Islamic legal system, protect women’s rights “within the Islamic framework of Islamic values,” and ensure equality for all ethnic groups. The much-touted conference was attended by Taliban, Afghan government representatives, women, and members of the country’s nascent civil society. It aimed to produce a new level of consensus among Afghanistan’s fissiparous society.

‘Our Duty to Fight’: The Rise of Militant Buddhism

by Hannah Beech 

GINTOTA, Sri Lanka — The Buddhist abbot was sitting cross-legged in his monastery, fulminating against the evils of Islam, when the petrol bomb exploded within earshot.

But the abbot, the Venerable Ambalangoda Sumedhananda Thero, barely registered the blast. Waving away the mosquitoes swarming the night air in the southern Sri Lankan town of Gintota, he continued his tirade: Muslims were violent, he said, Muslims were rapacious.

“The aim of Muslims is to take over all our land and everything we value,” he said. “Think of what used to be Buddhist lands: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Indonesia. They have all been destroyed by Islam.”…

Gibraltar Tanker Seizure, Uranium Enrichment Breach Add New Dimensions to Middle East Tensions

Just when you thought diplomatic efforts relating to Iran couldn’t get more complicated, last Thursday (July 4) British Royal Marines assisted Gibraltar port and enforcement authorities in the seizure of a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker believed to be carrying Iranian crude oil to the Baniyas refinery in Syria. After two weeks of escalating tensions related to Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. sanctions, EU efforts to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and targeted attacks against oil supplies and tankers in the Gulf, the impoundment threatens to reignite discord and catalyze a new round of provocations. Somewhat predictably, in the wake of the impoundment, Iran has both threatened retaliation against the British and moved to exceed the limit on enriched uranium imposed by the nuclear pact. Yesterday the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the uranium breach, further complicating international efforts to de-escalate tension and keep the JCPOA on life support.

Xi Jinping Continues His Quest for Absolute Party Control

By Shannon Tiezzi

“Party, government, military, civilian, and academic; east, west, south, north, and center, the Party leads everything.” So declared the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) after its 19th National Congress in October 2017. While more attention was paid to CCP General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s enshrinement in the Party constitution at the same meeting, the return to a Mao-era mantra of absolute CCP control was even more telling about the Party’s vision for China going forward.

Under Deng Xiaoping, the CCP limited its leadership “mainly” to “politics, ideology, and the organization.” There was more of an effort to separate out Party and state functions, although in practice of course the division was strictly limited. Since the 1990s, the top posts of Party and state have been held by the same individual, and it’s no secret that the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee is the real nexus of power in China.

Now under Xi, the trend toward some, albeit limited, separation of Party and state was reversed. Xi has made it his central mission to consolidate CCP control once again, and not only over the state apparatus but over every sector from entertainment and technology to religion and education. And Xi and the CCP still want more.

Is China Pulling Off Its Own ’Offset’ Strategy?

By Robert Farley

China, it seems, can pull off its own offset strategy. A recent CNAS report by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work and Greg Grant recharacterizes the Third Offset (of which Work is generally recognized as a primary architect) as a strategy for disrupting China’s own offset strategy. The report describes the idea of an offset, and recounts the steps that China has take over the past thirty years to even the field with the United States.

Work and Grant relate a series of arguments that will be familiar to most of those who have followed the Chinese military over the last decade. They note that the size and sophistication of the Chinese economy is unmatched by previous U.S. competitors, and that consequently the United States faces a greater potential threat than it has suffered since the 19th century. However, while China’s potential was evident some thirty years ago, its military rise required careful, long-term planning. As the end of the Cold War disrupted the U.S.-China partnership, the Gulf War demonstrated the effectiveness of U.S. military technology, and the 1996 Taiwan Crisis made evident the tension in U.S.-China relations, China developed a long-range plan for parity, and supremacy.

Where Is Indonesia on China’s Belt and Road Initiative?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Last week, reports surfaced of discussions between Indonesia and China to set up a new special fund under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The reports reflect a broader reality where Jakarta, while wary of the challenges inherent in engaging BRI, still remains open to realizing the opportunities within it as well as the initiative continues to evolve.

As I have noted before in these pages, Southeast Asia in general and Indonesia in particular have been important to the advancement of the BRI since it was first unveiled in 2013 – indeed, the “Road” component was initially rolled out by President Xi Jinping during a visit to Indonesia. In part, China has perceived that it can build on several advantages it has with the subregion that it does not enjoy in other areas to the same degree, be it geographic proximity to its southern provinces or the geopolitical leverage that comes with its growing clout felt in its near abroad.

A Bold Idea for Security Reform in the Indo-Pacific Region

by Bob Jones

Former Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s recent speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue was expected to herald a new approach to the Indo-Pacific region by the United States. But the speech, and the subsequent release of a new Indo-Pacific strategy by the Department of Defense, did not announce any bold new initiatives nor offer specifics about operationalizing America’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). This is unfortunate and represents a missed opportunity. Although America has promoted FOIP and ramped up its Freedom of Navigation Operations(FONOPs) program in the South and East China Seas during the past year, it needs to do more to demonstrate its long term commitment to the Indo-Pacific region to its allies and partners. One way it could do this is by establishing a multi-national Standing Indo-Pacific Maritime Group (SIPMG).

A standing maritime task force of this kind, based on the Standing NATO Maritime Groups (SNMGs), has been proposed for the Pacific theater many times. Unfortunately, the lack of an alliance organization equivalent to NATO in the Indo-Pacific has prevented the easy replication of such a group. Yet a fifty-year old report from the Naval War College provides a blueprint for establishing such a force. By leveraging its treaty alliances in the Pacific, America could establish a SIPMG in coalition with Japan, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and/or Thailand. Then, applying an open architecture concept, participation could be expanded to include any nation that supports FOIP and can provide forces. Britain, France, India and Canada would all be prime candidates to join the group.

That New Consensus on China? It’s Wrong

Susan Thornton

The chorus of U.S. complaints about China has grown familiar and deafening: “China has cheated on trade, stolen our intellectual property and sold us cheap goods.” “China aims to kick us out of the Pacific, undermine our alliances and displace the U.S. as the globe’s preeminent power.” “China breaks international conventions and incarcerates its ethnic minority populations. It aims to export a dystopian model of authoritarian capitalism, weaken our values and undermine democracies everywhere.” 

China’s rise does pose serious challenges to the U.S. and the global order, which need to be addressed. And many of these complaints are longstanding, so naturally it feels good to hit back. 

Thinking About Space Deterrence and China

By Steve Lambakis

U.S. space systems are the backbone of the U.S. economy and national security. Chinese counter-space weapon developments promise to make the satellite protection mission ever more challenging. There are significant challenges to deterring China from aggressive behavior in space, and for this reason U.S. policy makers and defense strategists must start planning now for a possible future military confrontation involving China that also may involve military space operations.


Successful deterrence strategies are, to the extent possible, tailored to the unique characteristics of diverse adversaries and political circumstances.[1] By merely threatening to attack U.S. space systems unprotected by a strong deterrent or defenses, a country might be able to deter, or significantly alter, the U.S. involvement in the region or even its willingness to enter a conflict. When it comes to a possible conflict involving China, space cannot be considered a sanctuary from war.[2]

Global Terrorism May be Down but is Still a Threat In 2019 - Are We Ready?

Robert Muggah

Top-Level Headlines

The absolute number, prevalence and lethality of terrorist incidents has decreased significantly around the world since its peak in 2014. According to the Global Terrorism Index, the trends occurred in four waves: terrorist incidents increased dramatically from 2002-2007, temporarily declined from 2008-2011, and then shot upward between 2011-2014. The ‘fourth wave’ (2015-2019) involved significant declines in incidents and deaths virtually everywhere. While terrorism is still widely distributed geographically, most events are concentrated in a small number of countries, committed by a modest array of groups and disproportionately affect Muslim populations.

Even so, terrorist threats are changing. Over the past decade Jihadist groups have moved away from monolithic ‘mafia-like’ operations and franchised their activities. As was evident in attacks from Mumbai (2008) to Nairobi (2019), they are extremely adept at deploying digital platforms to encourage recruitment, radicalization, and manage operations in real-time. It is not just Jihadist networks such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, or al-Shabaab that have expanded their digital skill-sets. There are also signals that white supremacist/ultra-right individuals and groups are expanding their transnational operations, enabled by digital tools and deepening polarization. These digital drivers are complex and enabling more self-radicalization.

Terrorism and Social Media (TASMConf): International Conference - 25-26 June 2019 - Swansea University, Wales, UK - Radical Islamist Focused Presentations OSINT Listing

Robert J. Bunker and Pamela Ligouri Bunker

The 2019 Terrorism and Social Media (TASM) conference took place on 25 and 26 June 2019 at Swansea University Bay Campus, Wales, United Kingdom. The conference was organized by Swansea University’s Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law and its Cyber Threats Research Centre (CYTREC), with the support of the VOX-Pol Network of Excellence. It brought together a broad range of researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners from a total of 23 countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, France, Holland, Poland, Israel, and Ukraine. It featured three keynote presentations and hosted twenty-five panels with more than seventy-four other speakers over six breakout session sequences each lasting one and one-half hours over the two-day event. The conference utilized the Twitter hashtag: #TASMConf for tweets related to its activities. A selection of these tweets can be viewed here.

Keynotes were provided via the a Conversation with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) panel (Dr. William McCants—Google, Dr. Erin Marie Saltman—Facebook, and Adam Hadley—Tech Against Terrorism) along with traditional presentations provided by VOX-Pol Research Fellow J.M. Berger, author of Extremism (The MIT Press, 2018), and Dr. Krisztina Huszti-Orban, adjunct professor of law and research fellow at the Human Rights Center of the University of Minnesota. An after dinner speech by Lord Alexander Carlile, former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation for the UK from 2001-2011, was also provided. Additional special elements of the conference were a pre-conference event “Advancing Collaborative Research and Understanding of Online Counterterrorism: An Evening with Facebook” and the post-conference “TASM Sandpit: An opportunity to form a team and secure funding for a research project,” supported by Swansea University’s CHERISH-Digital Economy Centre and Facebook.

The Baloch Liberation Army’s New US Terrorist Designation: Why Now?

By Umair Jamal

In an unprecedented development, the U.S. Department of State has declared the Baloch Liberation Army(BLA) a militant organization under the country’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) listing. The BLA is a separatist group that primarily operates in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. According to the State Department’s listing, the “armed separatist group targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan.”

A few months ago, Washington was threatening Islamabad with sanctions. What has changed concerning the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relationship that the bilateral relationship is back on track?

Certainly, the move is the result of a number of steps taken in the bilateral realm between the two countries.

By Other Means—Part I: Campaigning in the Gray Zone

The United States is being confronted by the liabilities of its strength. Competitors are contesting the rules of the international system and U.S. leadership. With the significant costs of engaging the United States in combat, and the growing range of indirect and non-military tools at their disposal, rivals are finding avenues for threatening U.S. interests without triggering escalation. Their approaches lie in the contested arena between routine statecraft and open warfare--the "gray zone." The United States has yet to articulate a comprehensive approach to deterring competitors in the gray zone. A concrete and actionable campaign plan is needed to deal with the gray zone challenge; in order to do so, the United States must identify and employ a broad spectrum of tools and concepts to deter, and if needed, to compete and win contestations in the gray zone.

нефть: The Impact of Russian Energy on Europe

Jeremiah Goodpaster


All year long gas prices have slowly been increasing. First twenty cents, then another thirty cents with rates expected to climb all summer. The cost of groceries has doubled as a result of those increased fuel costs. Your paycheck is not going as far, and expenses just keep rising. Shortages of fuel have caused long lines and wear nerves thin. Worse winter is coming, and prices are expected to be twice as much as last year due to political issues with Russia. Russia continues to threaten to stop energy supplies to the region due to sanctions by the European Union and the United States. Then on the coldest day of January, Russia cuts all energy supplies and halts shipments oil and gas via pipelines to Europe in retaliation to the sanctions. Now, there is no gas coming to your country. It is going to be a long, cold winter. But next year’s elections are coming, and the opposition party to the incumbents are running on a platform to repair relationships with Russia and vowing to reduce energy prices.

While this scenario is fictitious, a very similar event did take place in January 2009. Gazprom, a Russian state-owned company, “halted nearly all its natural gas exports to Europe . . . sharply escalating its pricing dispute with neighboring Ukraine. The cutoff led to immediate shortages from France to Turkey.”[i] Russia was able to use the halting of gas as leverage to force the EU to pressure Ukraine into price concessions. The impact of the cut-off was felt far and wide in energy-dependent Europe. For example, “Schools and kindergartens in Bulgaria closed down because utilities needed time to switch to alternative fuels. In Bosnia, where gas operator Sarajevogas said the situation was close to a humanitarian disaster,”[ii] the EU Commission and European governments were sent scrambling to find a solution. This was neither the first nor the last time Russia used its energy dominance to influence policies or regulations to their favor.

Targeting in Multi-Domain Operations: A Proposal to Update the U.S. Army’s Targeting Process for the Modern Operating Environment

Timothy P. Lewin


New realities derived from Multi-Domain Operations require a different way of thinking about the targeting process. The U.S. Army’s current targeting methodology (decide, detect, deliver, assess) is insufficient to address these realities in an increasingly complex environment. The methodology does not address a proper way to integrate within the Military Decision-Making Process nor provide a method to disrupt an enemy organization across the five domains in a contested or denied theater. A new process adopting Dr. Joseph Strange’s center of gravity approach will provide a way to defeat enemy combat power and provide freedom of action across and throughout the domains. The U.S. Army should adopt Dr. Strange’s center of gravity method and adjust doctrine to update the targeting methodology in the Military Decision-Making Process.


The Russians strode straight to their strategic objective. Intense preparation was conducted to ensure an efficient victory in Crimea. For several months, they manufactured a thick fog of war with cyber-attacks against the Ukrainian government, military, and populace. The Russian forces exploited success in the cyber domain by rendering the Ukrainian military unable to effectively maneuver. The Ukrainians didn’t even know they were in a major conflict. Effects achieved by a relatively smaller force enabled operational success because they exploited success across domains, froze their enemy’s decision cycle and blurred the lines between conflict and peace.[i]

Why America Remains a 2nd-Generation Military

Michael Gladius

War is a human endeavor, and armies of nations naturally match the temperament and attitudes of the civilian population from which they are drawn. This applies to all 4 Generations of Modern Warfare, and while most commentators focus on the warfare aspect, the underlying cultural prerequisites are normally presumed or underappreciated. Since warfare is an extension of politics, and politics is downstream of culture, then a military cannot change unless the culture of its nation changes.

In this article, we will examine each of the 4 generations from a cultural standpoint. Focusing purely on warfare only scratches the surface but understanding culture as the basis of the 4 generations explains why America seems to be incapable of waging 3rd- or 4th-Generation warfare. Any system can use the same tactics, so the actual difference between generations is found the soul of the nation. Knowing the soul of each generation illustrates the real risks of imitating these systems, and why we may inevitably become the monster we wish to destroy.

1st Generation Warfare- Warrior Artisans

Why Doctrine Matters

George Fust

Anyone who has ever purchased furniture from Ikea knows the value of well written instructions. Entire sub-markets have developed to help people put Ikea furniture together. These experts have figured out the patterns and nuances of the company’s model. They have experience and knowledge of their respective task and can therefore perform it efficiently. Even when faced with a chair or table they haven’t assembled before, they under the principles and style of manufacturing and can leverage those skills to accomplish their objective. Military doctrine serves a similar function. It is critical for junior officers to have a solid foundation in doctrine. They must read it and apply it during training. They must commit to memory the most critical components. They must return to it if time permits to guide and shape courses of action (COA).

Unlike the notoriously vague Ikea instruction manual, Army doctrine is as specific as it needs to be without being overly directive. It allows flexibility when circumstances change, which they always will. Army doctrine has also evolved for generations. Hard fought lessons have been inculcated into each iteration. The material builds on previous knowledge and is now synchronized across war fighting functions. Army doctrine is a guidebook for accomplishing your mission. Those who attempt to build the latest Ikea desk without the instruction book may have similar results to those who ignore doctrine. At best, you may have a place to work. But how sturdy is it? Can you replicate the task the same way and achieve the same results in the future? At worst, you are unable to complete the build or mission.

The Mekong in US Asia Strategy: Opportunities and Challenges

By Prashanth Parameswaran

When the next round of Asian summitry kicks off later this month in Bangkok, one of the key areas that will be in the spotlight within U.S. policy will be the Washington’s approach to the Mekong subregion – a shorthand for the area in mainland Southeast Asia through which the Mekong River, one of the world’s longest and largest rivers, runs. While U.S. interest in the Mekong has been longstanding, the subregion’s role will be important to watch within the context of broader developments in U.S. policy, including heightened U.S.-China competition and the Trump administration’s free and open Indo-Pacific strategy.

The Mekong’s significance has long been recognized in U.S. policy. The Mekong River, which runs through China (where it’s known as the Lancang) and into mainland Southeast Asian countries Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, is a critical resource that provides more than 60 million people in the region with food, water, and transportation. And at various points of history, the Mekong has served as a point of either connectivity or conflict between mainland Southeast Asian countries and among major powers engaged there, including the United States during the height of the Vietnam War. The Mekong’s importance in U.S. Asia policy has only been increasing in recent years, with Mekong countries strengthening their economies but grappling with governance challenges and growing Chinese assertiveness. Meanwhile, the Mekong River itself is in peril due to a range of development, demographic, and climate change-related pressures, including the proliferation of hydropower dams.

Shale is Not Forever: Why America Should Continue Protecting Gulf Oil and Gas Flows

by Gabriel Collins

A stout U.S. military deterrent to those who might threaten oil and gas flows from the Gulf does not guarantee stable prices, but it helps reduce the risk of both damaging spikes and the geopolitical risk premium that markets generally price-in during periods of instability in the region.

De Beers tells us that “a diamond is forever.” But the carbonaceous cousin of diamonds, U.S. unconventional oil, may “not be forever.” U.S. energy-security policies towards the Middle East and Gulf region should take this reality into account. Thus, American voters and their elected representatives must educate themselves on the importance of continued U.S. leadership in protecting energy flows out of the Gulf.

Reducing America’s Gulf oil security role is politically tempting. The American public is tired of the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts and oil output in Texas alone is now larger than that of every individual OPEC member save for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco now sendsmore than 70 percent of its crude oil exports to Asia and U.S. direct oil imports from the Gulf region have declined significantly. These factors are already influencing policy. Consider the weak U.S. response thus far to at least six recent attacks on shipping near the Strait of Hormuz—epitomized by Washington’s recent attempt to shovel responsibility for Gulf area maritime security onto allies rather than leading.

Unpacking OPEC+’s Renewed Mission in Five Graphics

Last week, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries-plus (OPEC+) extended its Declaration of Cooperation for nine months until the end of the first quarter of 2020. In doing so, the organization agreed to maintain production cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day, reiterated its goal to reduce inventories to a more reasonable level, and expressed its desire to improve the rate of conformance of individual OPEC+ countries. The charter of cooperation between OPEC and Non-OPEC countries was also formalized and sighted as evidence of the group’s longer-term commitment to monitor and manage markets to ensure balance. Here follows a brief takeaway on the technical issues to emerge from these decisions and discussions.
Creating a New Metric

Probably the most technically consequential announcement made at the OPEC meeting was Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih’s reference to a new metric and target for assessing the balance of the market. Moving to ditch the bloated five-year rolling average, the aim now will be to draw oil inventories into the 2010-2014 range. Al-Falih noted that stocks are currently 240 million barrels above the 2010-2014 average, which implies that the group is once again utilizing commercial oil inventory data of countries from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Taiwan’s Status is a Geopolitical Absurdity


TAIPEI—After nine years of construction, more than 400 American diplomats and staff have moved into new offices here, a $250 million compound built into a lush hill with security provided by marines. Employees will offer American citizens in Taiwan consular services and help Taiwanese obtain visas to visit the United States, just as they would anywhere else in the world.

Yet this is not an embassy, or a consulate—at least officially. Instead it is the American Institute in Taiwan, a name that suggests a research center rather than a diplomatic mission, the result of a geopolitical compromise that, while far from the biggest of Taiwan’s problems, illustrates the ludicrous situation the island finds itself in. It is not recognized as a country by its most important ally, the U.S.; it faces an existential threat from territory it claims as its own, China; and its sovereign status is being gradually erased by companies seeking to preserve access to the Chinese market. As tensions worsen between Washington and Beijing—and with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen due to visitthe U.S. this week—understanding Taiwan’s bizarre situation becomes ever more important.