19 October 2019

China-India Himalayan Divergences Unscaleable by Chennai Connect

By Dr Subhash Kapila
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Geopolitically in 2019 it would be a truism for China to accept that India is no longer a strategic push-over as despite China’s massive asymmetries in relative military and economic power the same cannot be translated into geopolitical power warranting China to continue with its South Asia policies with “Pakistan-Centrality” fixations.

China-India stand divided by Himalayan divergences due to China’s aggressiveness dating back to 1950 and these adversarial stances of China have remained ‘Unscaleable” by India’s reasonableness and no amount of ‘Wuhan Spirit’ and its follow-on ‘Chennai Connect’ can bridge the divide till such time China dispenses with the centrality of Pakistan in its South Asian policy formulations.

China consistently and obdurately has for decades stuck fast to the precept of “Pakistan Centrality” in its South Asia policy and built Pakistan as a “Rogue State” with China-aided nuclear weapons programme and long-range missile delivery capabilities. Lately, China has openly shielded designation of Pakistan Army’s Islamic Jihadi terrorist chiefs from United Nations censure as ‘UN designated Global Terrorists.

All these Chinese adversarial manifestations emerge from a single Chinese foreign policy precept of impeding the emergence of India as global Major Power and to that end Pakistan is China’s cats-paw against India.

India’s road to RCEP laden with China-related obstacles

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When PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Mamallapuram last week, they had another shy at a question that has been confronting Indian policymakers for over a decade now: should India have a free trade pact with China?

Ten years ago, the question was whether India and China should sign a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). Today, it is whether India should join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed trading bloc that brings together 16 countries of the Indo-Pacific region, minus Donald Trump’s United States, that not only constitute almost half the world’s population, but also over 40 per cent of international trade.

Joining the RCEP would effectively mean a free trade arrangement with China because if the members of the bloc agree to eliminate tariffs on imports from other member countries, Chinese goods will enjoy unrestricted entry to the Indian market, and, in theory, vice versa. However, China makes for a highly asymmetric member in the proposed bloc due to the acute export-focus of the Chinese economy, and the loss of the US markets as a result of the trade war.

The Authors of ‘Poor Economics’ on Ending Poverty

The winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences have for years been conducting innovative economic experiments on ways to alleviate poverty that have produced real-world — rather than theoretical — results. The winners are Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer.

Noted the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, “In just two decades, their new, experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field.” Banerjee and Duflo, who are husband and wife, teach at MIT and Kremer is a professor at Harvard.

Some of their experiments have showed, for example, that giving impoverished children textbooks in school did not actually make them better students. Instead, the economists found that achievement improved by providing tutors for low-performing students in India. In other cases, they determined that providing free mosquito nets to reduce malaria or treating children for intestinal worms made them more likely to attend school in the first place and to then eventually work in higher-paying jobs.

Eye on China: Xi in Chennai – Pak’s Push – Nepal Visit – Trade Talks – EU 5G Warning – Tax Reform


Eye on China is a weekly bulletin offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom from an Indian interests perspective. This week we cover Xi Jinping’s arrival in India for the second informal summit; Imran Khan’s visit to China; Beijing’s announcement of major taxation reforms; the US and China heading towards a partial trade deal and much more…
I. Pak Leadership in Beijing

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan led a rather large delegation to Beijing this week. Before he landed, Pakistani Army chief Bajwa was already in China. Khan met with Premier Li Keqiang and Xi. Interestingly, Bajwa reportedly was present as Khan met Chinese leaders. Li Keqiang reportedly told Khan that China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and legitimate rights and interests, in promoting its national prosperity, and in playing a greater role in international and regional affairs. Xi told him that ties remain “unbreakable and rock-solid” and that China highly appreciates and firmly supports Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism, calling on the two sides to beef up communication and cooperation within the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other multilateral mechanisms so as to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability. Think of the bit on terrorism and multilateral organisations in the context of the FATF. This week the plenary meeting is taking place in Paris. Pakistan’s not really done well when it comes to the FATF compliance requirements, but remember China chairs the body for now, so blacklisting might be tough.

The End of Sri Lankan Democracy?

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COLOMBO – One of Asia’s oldest democracies may be in jeopardy. Sri Lanka’s presidential election next month, is expected to bring to power another member of the Rajapaksa family, whose affinity for authoritarianism, violence, and corruption is well known. While Sri Lanka’s democracy survived the last test – an attempted constitutional coup by outgoing President Maithripala Sirisena a year ago – it may not survive a Gotabaya Rajapaksa presidency.

The abandonment of Kurdish forces in northern Syria has reinforced already existing doubts in the region and around the world that the United States remains a reliable ally. Those doubts are well-founded, because the isolationism underlying the move is widely shared by the American public.12Add to Bookmarks

Gotabaya, as he is popularly known, is the current frontrunner and previously served as Sri Lanka’s defense chief under his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sirisena’s predecessor. Mahinda’s decade-long tenure, which ended in 2015, was characterized by brazen nepotism, with the four Rajapaksa brothers controlling many government ministries and about 80% of total public spending. And by steadily expanding presidential powers, Mahinda created a quasi-dictatorship known for human-rights abuses and accused of war crimes.

South Asia Used to Be the World’s Fastest-Growing Region. Now It’s Facing an Economic Slowdown.


Welcome to Foreign Policy’s weekly South Asia Brief. The highlights this week: A troubling new World Bank report, India lifts some communications restrictions in Kashmir, Pakistan’s Imran Khan to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and an effort to rekindle the Afghan peace talks.

South Asia’s Economic Slowdown

South Asia is experiencing a “sharp economic slowdown” because of a drop in domestic consumption, according to a World Bank report released this week. While each of the region’s eight economies is projected to keep growing, South Asia has already fallen from its perch as the world’s fastest-growing region, replaced by East Asia and the Pacific.

Of all the countries in the region, the World Bank slashed India’s growth forecast by the most, from 7.5 percent to 6 percent for the fiscal year that began in April. Bangladesh and Nepal, on the other hand, had their growth projections revised upward, but only slightly. As shown below, every country—barring Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan—is now growing at a rate slower than its recent five-year average.


The title above comes from William J. Holstein’s October 15, 2019 Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Mr. Holstein is the author of “The New Art Of War: China’s Deep Strategy Inside The United States.” 

China has been stealing U.S. intellectual property and sensitive research and development schemata — especially with respect to military weapons and other sensitive technology — for decades. Over a decade ago when I was working, China’s behavior was referred to as ‘The Great Steal Ahead.’ It was said you could get your Ph.D. in engineering six months early in China, if you stole a piece of intellectual property that had not already been stolen. Several years ago, China began to build a cloud full of all this purloined material — enabling those in China to leap ahead in their various endeavors — by utilizing the stolen material instead of having to spend precious time and resources on research and development.

This pattern of theft has only intensified over the years, as the consequences of Beijing’s actions have been practically non-existent until POTUS Trump imposed trade tariffs in an attempt to curb China’s behavior. Mr. Holstein writes that FBI Director Christopher Wray “said in July, that the FBI had 1,000 active investigations into attempted Intellectual property theft in America — mostly involving China.”

Army Launches 16-Year Plan To Tackle Russia, China


Dynetics concept for their Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB)

AUSA: The Army has unveiled an ambitious four-stage plan to modernize itself completely by 2035. That means new technology, new kinds of combat units, and, trickiest of all, a new approach to cultivating its people’s talents.

LRPF: Long-Range Precision Fires. NGCV: Next-Generation Combat Vehicle. FVL: Future Vertical Lift. AMD: Air & Missile Defense. SL: Soldier Lethality. SOURCE: US Army. (Click to expand)

But in the here and now, as many as 118 Army programs are on hold while Congress struggles to pass authorization and appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began two weeks ago. The Pentagon is currently operating under a stopgap measure called a Continuing Resolution, which (with rare exceptions) allows agencies to continue spending at last year’s levels, but not to start any new programs or grow existing ones. (Cuts are banned as well). That could disrupt the plan by delaying development of key weapons, like long-range hypersonic missiles, that the Army wants to field in the next few years.

The Takshashila PLA Insight

I. The Big Story: Bajwa in Beijing

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited China last week. Bajwa met the top military commanders of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). A statement by Pakistan military’s Inter-Services Public Relations said, “General Bajwa met General Han Weiguo, PLA Commander Army and General Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) at the PLA headquarters.” General Bajwa informed them about the consequences of the ongoing Kashmir dispute. India needs to respect UN resolutions and ensure the human rights of Kashmiris. Issues related to Pak-China security cooperation were also discussed in the meeting.

Pakistan Today reports that the Chinese military leadership supports Pakistan’s principled stance on the Kashmir issue. They also appreciated that the Pakistani approach is in the interest of peace. They agreed that unresolved tensions between Pakistan-India would have serious implications for peace and stability in the region. “Pakistan looks forward to peace but that shall not be at the cost of any compromise on principles of honour and dignity of the nation.” Both sides also discussed the developing situation in the Gulf and the efforts for peace in Afghanistan. They agreed on enhancing existing defence cooperation in line with the history of mutual time-tested relationships.

The Complicated Geopolitics of U.S. Oil Sanctions on Iran

by Amy M. Jaffe

It is often said, perhaps with some hyperbole, that Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers was the best hope for conflict resolution in the Middle East. Its architect John Kerry argues instead that the 2015 deal’s limited parameter of closing Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon is sufficient on the merits. The Trump administration is taking a different view, focusing on Iran’s escalating threats to U.S. allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Those threats, which have included missile, drone, and cyberattacks on Saudi oil facilities, are looming large over the global economy because they are squarely influencing the volatility of the price of oil. One could argue that the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iranian deal, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has injected an even higher degree of risk into oil markets, where traders now feel that the chances of Mideast conflict resolution are lower.

But, the Trump administration could argue otherwise. From its perspective, the United States extended to Iran $6 billion in frozen funds, opened the door for a flood of spare parts to be shipped into Iran’s suffering oil and petrochemical sector, and looked the other way while European companies rushed in for commercial deals. In exchange, it’s true, Iran began to implement the terms of JCPOA, but as Secretary of State Pompeo laid out in a major speech on the subject, the nuclear deal has failed to turn down the heat on the wide range of conflicts plaguing the Mideast region.

Putin’s Visit To Saudi Arabia Ends With Various Multmillion Dollar Deals

A multimillion-dollar tranche of deals signed in Riyadh on Monday set the seal on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first official visit to Saudi Arabia since 2012.

The 20 agreements covered oil and other energy industries, space and satellite navigation, justice, health services, tax administration, mineral wealth, tourism and aviation, along with cultural cooperation and the enhancement of trade relations.

The key deal was an agreement to increase cooperation in the OPEC+ group — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, plus 10 non-members led by Russia. Moscow has worked closely with OPEC to limit supply and stabilize prices after a 2014 slump.

Monday’s deal seeks to “reinforce cooperation … and strengthen oil market stability,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said at the signing ceremony.

Prince Abdulaziz said the two countries had begun a new phase of cooperation. “At the Saudi-Russian Joint Committee, we are working together to harmonize the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans with its strategic objectives and Russia’s strategic development plans,” he said.

Exclusive: U.S. carried out secret cyber strike on Iran in wake of Saudi oil attack: officials

Idrees Ali, Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States carried out a secret cyber operation against Iran in the wake of the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blame on Tehran, two U.S. officials have told Reuters.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the operation took place in late September and took aim at Tehran’s ability to spread “propaganda.”

One of the officials said the strike affected physical hardware, but did not provide further details.

The attack highlights how President Donald Trump’s administration has been trying to counter what it sees as Iranian aggression without spiraling into a broader conflict.

Asked about Reuters reporting on Wednesday, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said: “They must have dreamt it,” Fars news agency reported.

The U.S. strike appears more limited than other such operations against Iran this year after the downing of an American drone in June and an alleged attack by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on oil tankers in the Gulf in May.

Trump’s Syria withdrawal is a boon for ISIS — and a nightmare for Europe

Daniel L. Byman

Dan Byman writes that the U.S. decision to withdraw from Syria is likely to increase attacks orchestrated or inspired by ISIS in Europe. This piece first appeared in Vox.

With the surprise withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria and the subsequent — and immediate — commencement of Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces, chaos has ensued. Kurdish forces are claiming that hundreds of ISIS prisoners have escaped at the Ain Issa detention facility while fighting raged nearby, while two officials told the New York Times that the U.S. military had failed to secure 60 or so high-value detainees before its forces departed.

President Donald Trump, however, has assured Americans that his new approach would not prove a threat to the U.S. homeland, saying, “They’re going to be escaping to Europe.”

Europeans, to be sure, will not find this reassuring. Given the thousands of Europeans who went to fight for the Islamic State and the problems Europe has had with jihadist terrorism in general, they should be alarmed by the U.S. abandonment of the Syrian Kurds and the possible escape of large numbers of ISIS prisoners. The good news is that the potential threat illustrates the counterterrorism progress made in the years since 9/11, but the end of the U.S. role in Syria is clearly bad news.

The US Literally Doesn’t Know How Many ISIS Fighters Have Escaped In Syria


For the better part of a year, Defense and State Department officials have been issuing dire warnings about the risk that thousands of captured ISIS fighters could escape from a network of makeshift prisons dotted across rebel-held territory in northern and eastern Syria.

Now, as the United States carries out a sudden and unplanned withdrawal from the country, senior officials across government say that the U.S. has no real idea how many fighters have already escaped amid the fierce fighting between Turkey and Kurdish fighters that Washington previously backed in the fight against ISIS. 

“Nobody does,” a senior government official involved in the issue told Defense One. 

The fear is that large-scale breakouts will allow ISIS, which survives in sleeper cells hidden among the population in Iraq and Syria, will be able to reconstitute itself with the return of experienced fighters to the battlefield. Last month, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ordered his followers to accelerate efforts to free fighters.

Trump Is Sending More Troops to Saudi Arabia

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The Carter Doctrine, which calls for a U.S. military response to any outside effort to threaten or seize oil fields in the Persian Gulf, is dead, and the Defense Department’s announced deployment last week of 1,800 more U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia will neither resuscitate it nor, frankly, reassure the Saudis, who are more worried about the end of their special partnership with Washington than counting how many more American soldiers are arriving to the kingdom.

This new chapter in U.S. military history in the Middle East is fraught with danger. The very thought of the United States either suspending or terminating its role as chief police and protector of the global commons in the region has alarmed the country’s European allies and terrified its Arab partners. It has even confused the United States’ main adversaries, China and Russia, which have worked to undermine U.S. dominance in the Middle East for years but never sought to fully replace it for fear of inheriting the chaos caused by the United States’ departure.

Kurdish Fighters Mount Counterattack Using Network of Tunnels


As Turkey continues its onslaught of northeast Syria, the Syrian Kurds are using a sophisticated network of tunnels and other battlefield tactics to recapture some of the territory seized by Turkish-backed forces, Foreign Policy has learned. 

Four current and former U.S. officials who have worked closely with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirmed that the group built a defensive network of tunnels beneath key towns throughout northeast Syria as a contingency against a Turkish invasion. Now, with U.S. troops evacuating and no U.S. air support, the Kurdish fighters are successfully using the tunnels to defend the border towns.

The Kurdish fighters “are famous for developing innovative ways to fight a more advanced army,” said a senior U.S. administration official, adding that “the Turks have been surprised by their effectiveness.”

Will the Saudis Go Nuclear?

by Peter A. Wilson
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SINCE THE TRUMP Trump administration’s May 2017 decision to terminate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, many have speculated that the Islamic Republic of Iran will soon resume its nuclear weapons program in response to renewed U.S. unilateral financial and economic sanctions. Even so, the current conventional wisdom is that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—enjoying Washington’s fulsome political and military support for its regional strategic objectives—will have little interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.

But what if that assumption is wrong? Under what circumstances might Saudi Arabia, currently being led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), conclude that the clandestine and rapid acquisition of a nuclear arsenal would help address the challenges the country faces? In the following pages, I outline how such a scenario would unfold and detail how governments would likely respond to the emergence of a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia.

Syrian forces enter key border town, blocking Turkish plans


CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (AP) — Syrian forces on Wednesday night rolled into the strategic border town of Kobani, blocking one path for the Turkish military to establish a “safe zone” free of Syrian Kurdish fighters along the frontier as part of its week-old offensive.

The seizure of Kobani by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad also pointed to a dramatic shift in northeastern Syria: The town was where the United States military and Kurdish fighters first united to defeat the Islamic State group four years ago and holds powerful symbolism for Syrian Kurds and their ambitions of self-rule.

The convoys of government forces drove into Kobani after dark, a resident said. The resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, was one of the few remaining amid fears of a Turkish attack on the town. Syria’s state-run media confirmed its troops entered the town.

Syria’s presence in Kobani puts a firm limit on Turkish ambitions in its offensive. The town lies between a Turkish-controlled enclave farther west and smaller areas to the east that Turkey seized in the past week.

Corruption Is Corroding Democracies Around the World

The world is constantly reminded that corruption knows no geographic boundaries. In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma is embroiled in an inquiry into whether he ran a patronage system that drained money from the country’s treasury. A money laundering investigation launched in Brazil in 2008 expanded to take down a vast network of politicians and business leaders across Central and South America. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been plagued by officials who have used their offices for private gain and been forced to resign.

The impact of actual corruption is devastating, whether it siphons money from public use or drives policy that is not in the public interest. The effects can be particularly pernicious in developing countries, where budgets are tight and needs are vast. The United Nations estimates that corruption costs $2.6 trillion in losses every year.

A street cleaner walks past a poster promoting Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra and his proposed reforms aimed at tackling corruption, in Lima, Peru, June 4, 2019 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

The United States Still Needs a Syria Strategy


Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump made a shock decision to not only withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria but also greenlight a Turkish military offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). As the main U.S. military partner in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, the SDF—a multiethnic but largely Syrian Kurdish militia—lost more than 11,000 of its fighters over almost five years of combat. This colossal strategic blunder has already led to the near-complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, apparent war crimes by Turkish-backed forces, and a deal between the SDF and Russia to allow Bashar al-Assad’s regime back into Syria’s northeast.

With no military or civilian presence on the ground and chaos engulfing northeast Syria, the United States now finds itself unable to safeguard its interests or protect against an Islamic State revival there. Indeed, a renewed and rejuvenated Islamic State now appears to be an all but certain outcome of recent events. High-value prisoners, for instance, have escaped as SDF prisons have come under Turkish attack. Likewise, Syria will remain a center of geopolitical competition among regional rivals and global powers that could easily spiral out of control. Israel and Iran have long squared off in Syria, and now Turkey, the Assad government, and Russia find themselves staring each other down in the northeast.

'We are watching you': Russia accused of sending threatening texts to British troops

Bill Gardner

British soldiers have been warned "We are watching you" in texts and Facebook messages suspected to have been sent by Russia, the Telegraph has learned.

UK troops stationed in Estonia have complained of mystery messages appearing on their social media accounts and mobile phones, sources said.

Officials believe the communications are part of a cyber war designed by Moscow to unsettle and intimidate British troops and their allies.

Nearly 1,000 UK personnel are currently deployed in Estonia in a major NATO operation to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

Infographic Of The Day: Largest Acquisitions By Tech Company

The Big Five tech giants, or "FAAMG" - Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google (Alphabet) - have a combined market capitalization of over $4 trillion. This infographic explores the world's most powerful tech companies and their biggest acquisitions to date.

Tech Companies Are Destroying Democracy and the Free Press

By Matt Stoller

Facebook just removed an “I Love America” page, run by Ukrainians, which pushed recycled pro-Trump imagery from the Internet Research Agency, the Russian group that tried to influence the 2016 election. As it turned out, “I Love America” wasn’t state sponsored — the Ukrainians were just running the page for the advertising money. A similar page with falsified content, “Police Lives Matter,” is now run out of Kosovo.

These two phony Facebook pages illustrate the crisis of the free press and democracy: Advertising revenue that used to go to quality journalism is now captured by big tech intermediaries, and some of that money now goes to dishonest, low-quality and fraudulent content.

This is the first presidential election happening after the business model for journalism collapsed. Advertising revenue for print newspapers has fallen by two-thirds since 2006. From 2008 to 2018, the number of newspaper reporters dropped 47 percent. Two-thirds of counties in America now have no daily newspaper, and 1,300 communities have lost all local coverage. Even outlets native to the web, like BuzzFeed and HuffPost, have laid off reporters. This problem is a global one; for example, in Australia from 2014 to 2018, the number of journalists in traditional print publications fell by 20 percent.

Zuckerberg defends Facebook's approach to free speech, draws line on China

David Shepardson, Katie Paul

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the social media company’s light regulation of speech and lack of fact checking on political advertising, while citing China’s censorship as a roadblock to operating in the country.

Facebook has been under fire in recent years for its lax approach to fake news reports, state-backed disinformation campaigns and violent content spread on its services, prompting calls for new regulations around the world.

In a speech at Georgetown University filled with references to the First Amendment and the fight for democracy, Zuckerberg stood his ground, saying social media had introduced transformative avenues for speech that should not be shut down.

“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world. It is a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” he said.

Zuckerberg framed the company’s decisions around that concept, including its recent retreat from years of aggressive courtship of China, an obstacle to his vision of connecting the world’s population.

Germany refuses to ban Huawei from 5G networks

Germany has refused to exclude the Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei from its 5G networks.

The German government’s chief spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, has confirmed that the country is “not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company”, despite US pressure to do so.

The news comes after the European Union warned earlier this month that it had concerns about 5G suppliers from hostile countries, but did not explicitly name Huawei or seek to ban its equipment.

The US has put pressure on its allies to drop support for Huawei’s 5G telecoms kit, amid concerns about the company’s alleged links to Beijing, and Chinese cyber security rules which compel companies to support law enforcement agencies.

The company has repeatedly denied that it would compromise user privacy and claims that it has been a victim of the US-China trade war. In a statement, Huawei said it welcomed the German government’s decision: “Politicising cyber-security will only hinder technology development and social progress while doing nothing to address the security challenges all countries face.

US Army Signals Israel’s Iron Dome Isn’t The Answer


Iron Dome launch

AUSA: The Army doesn’t want to buy any more Iron Dome air defense systems, but if it may have to buy more of the Israeli-made system if it can’t get its own program up and running by 2023.

The purchase of the Israeli system this summer was meant to fill a gap the Army has in defeating shorter-range missiles, but Congress imposed a 2023 deadline in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act for the American service to develop its own system or it would have to buy more Iron Domes. 

The purchase was made, “because we had nothing else out there,” Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson, Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Team director told reporters today. “We needed some immediate capability above the tactical level.”

The Army rebooted its main air and missile defense program, the Indirect Fire Protection Capability to refocus on higher-end threats like cruise missiles and was left without coverage against the sort of shorter-range missiles such as those fired at Israel’s cities. 

The Supreme Combat Tool

Keith Nightingale

With each generation, its soldiers are issued the new cutting-edge weapons to defend or destroy as required. From rocks to spears to nuclear weapons, mankind has progressed in the technology of killing. It has permitted its users to evolve from the highly personal closeup application to the most distant and dispassionate destruction from afar.

However, one combatant tool always remains resident regardless of the evolution of time and generations and that is the power of thought.

Civilizations fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth. Thought is merciless to privilege, position, wealth, education, established institutions, personal and organizational agendas, the wealth and strength of institutions and comfortable habits.

Thought is a fearsome tool as it is, and can be, anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of established norms and social barriers or the imbedded beliefs in the wisdom of the moment.

Weapons Makers Unveil A Herd of Robotanks— As the Army Worries about Battlefield Bandwidth

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The U.S. Army is determined to field a mid-sized combat robot vehicle, but the prototypes are outstripping the datalinks that would connect them.

The show floor of the country’s biggest land-warfare convention was crowded with robot tanks this week, roughly two years after the U.S. Army’s declaration that its core 5-year priorities include a new combat vehicle. Among them, and with the greatest fanfare, Textron unveiled its Ripsaw, a 10-ton, 20-foot electrically-powered treaded minitank that can carry a small aerial drone on its back and can pop a smaller ground robot out of a front compartment. But companies from South Korea and Germany brought their own robo-battle machines to flaunt. Army leaders say that they’ve also been experimenting with battle concepts that combine soldiers, unmanned tanks, and small UAVs.

They’re also worried about getting all of those systems to link up and share massive amounts of data.

“The thing that keeps me up at night — well, nothing keeps me up at night, but the thing I think about often is the network,” Gen. John “Mike” Murray, the commanding general of the Army Futures Command, told reporters on Monday. “It’s not problems within the network, it’s that we’re relying on the network for so much”

Swarm Hell: Can the U.S. Army Stop Hundreds of Drones Armed with Explosives?

by Kris Osborn

(Washington, D.C.) They can form swarms of hundreds of mini, precision-guided explosives, overwhelm radar or simply blanket an area with targeting sensors. They can paint or light up air, ground or sea targets for enemy fighters, missiles or armored vehicles, massively increasing warzone vulnerability. The can instantly emerge from behind mountains to fire missiles at Army convoys, infantry on the move or even mechanized armored columns.

They can increasingly operate with less and less human intervention and be programmed to enter enemy airspace, crossing into well-defended areas with decreased risk. Finally, perhaps of greatest significance, many of them can now fire weapons with little human intervention.

They --- are commercial and military attack drones now proliferating at alarming rates around the world.

This detachment is finding the invisible realms of future Army warfighting

By: Todd South 

The Army’s theater-level detachment that’s testing how it will fight in the unseen realms of warfighting is discovering ways for the service to compete to avoid conflict.

At the tip of that is the exact unit, the Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space, or I2CEWS, commanded by Lt. Col. Derek Bothern, who’s spent the past decade working as an Army space officer.

Bothern is working within the Multi-Domain Task Force that the Army first used in the field during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2018. That was when some of the concepts of MDO moved from theory, whiteboard and tabletop exercises to a network of distributed fires on land and sea and within the cyber and space domains.

It is the most primitive and close combat a fighter may face. Welcome to the subterranean.

His detachment in its pilot phase back in 2017 built to 35 soldiers until it was officially activated in January and has since grown to 178 strong.