2 December 2019

Reviving Higher Education in India

Shamika Ravi, Neelanjana Gupta, and Puneeth Nagaraj

India has seen a dramatic increase in the capacity of its higher education sector in the last two decades. Enrolment in higher education has increased four-fold since 2001. With a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 26.3% (AISHE 2018-19), we are close to achieving the target of 32% GER by 2020. However, many important questions such as the quality of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and employment of graduates merit further examination.

In this report, we address these questions by examining the enrolment trend and patterns; graduation and employment patterns; and the quality assurance framework for HEIs in India. We also track the policy shifts that enabled this expansion. We offer context to India’s expansion by comparing it to other countries. We also compare the growth of India’s higher education sector to that of China over the last 25 years.

Despite the increasing number of professional colleges, three-year degrees in arts, commerce and sciences remain the most popular programmes as evidenced by high enrolment rates.

Pussyfooting around the truth

by Bharat Karnad

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar skirted around the truth with his professional diplomatic flummery in the Rajya Sabha yesterday. Asked about India’s chances about securing a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, he said ” “Well, I will hope soon.” But then realizing he had gone too far in raising hopes, quickly corrected himself in the very next sentence. “I am realistic enough to know”, he added, “that it is a long and patient effort. We are not lacking in patience and not lacking in our perseverance and we are not lacking in our aspirations. We will get that one day. I am very confident and it is progressing step by step.” Ah,”one day”. He should have been honest and replied “never”, certainly not if India under Modi (persisting with the policy of his predecessors) continues enthusiastically to subscribe to and support the current world order.

Why? Because it is mightily inconvenient to slice up the international power pie six ways, when the existing 5 powers have each a fifth of the pie. Which country among the present permanent five members — US, Russia, China, UK and France — is idiot enough to want diminution of its power and authority that the permanent UNSC status endows them with? Pleading pitifully for the sixth seat in the UNSC — a glorified talk shop, displaying “patience” and “perseverance” and seeking “to progress step by step” in this regard, won’t do it, and hurts India’s self-respect and amor propre, not that the Indian government seems to care, won’t do it.

The China-India Double Helix In The Reemergence Of Asia As World’s Dominant Power – Analysis

By Manish Uprety F.R.A.S. and Jainendra Karn *
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It has been posited that in the 19th century, the world was Europeanized. In the 20th century, it was Americanized. Now, it is being Asianized. But is the story of the Asian success as blossoming as it looks.

There are immense challenges across the contemporary world. Merkelisation has caused a social crisis in the European Union which has been exacerbated by BREXIT, and Francis Fukuyama, the noted author of The End of History expresses his fears for a U.S.-China war.

From an underdeveloped country China has grown into America’s foremost economic competitor. Since 1992, China’s share of global GDP has grown from less than 1 percent to 16 percent. During this period, America’s share of global GDP has slightly declined from 26 percent in 1992 to 24 percent in 2017. On the other hand, there is a significant decline in the share of Europe and Japan.

The U.S. and China are world’s leading economies where U.S. is world’s largest consumer and China is the world’s largest manufacturer. China’s rise in economic power has been accompanied by an increase in U.S.-China bilateral trade. The United States overall goods and services trade deficit with China in 2018 was $378.6 billion.

Modi And The Indian Diaspora – Analysis

By Parama Sinha Palit*
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The diaspora has been challenging traditional approaches to foreign policy which emphasised bilateral state-to-state relations. The diaspora is increasingly being regarded as an instrument of soft power with immense strategic value. The Indian diaspora has been no different.

The Indian leadership has been strengthening its links with the diaspora while engaging them. For example, in 2003, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said “people of Indian origin are extremely important sources of support for the Indian Government in the execution of its policies through the influence and respect they command in the countries in which they live”.

Diaspora in Independent India

In fact, their cultivation during recent times established the diaspora as probably the most effective mechanism of India’s soft power. Historically, efforts to engage the Indian diaspora for influencing overseas public opinion was underway even before India attained its independence in 1947.

Assessing The 35th ASEAN Summit – Analysis

By Rajiv Bhatia*
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The first week of November saw Bangkok turn into a summit venue, playing host to some important conferences: the most prominent of them was the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), besides others, such as the East Asia Summit (EAS). What were the outcomes of these summits and where does the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) stand today in relation to its key partners?
ASEAN summit

The chairman’s statement on the 35th ASEAN Summit, which was held on November 3, with a detailed report on the grouping’s activities and plans made clear that the ASEAN countries will continue to secure the region with “lasting peace, security and stability, sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and social progress”. For this ambitious goal to be achieved optimally, ASEAN’s community-building efforts will continue. In a changing geostrategic landscape, with the U.S., China and other powers pursuing their own (often conflicting) interests, the need to assert “ASEAN centrality” and “ASEAN’s role as the primary driving force in the regional architecture”, was emphasised[1].

In this context, ASEAN’s actions to strengthen its three pillars – political-security, economic and socio-cultural – become as important as its dialogue mechanisms with its external partners, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) and the EAS. Apart from its valuable diplomatic and political role in the region, ASEAN continues to be a significant economic player. As its economy grew at 5.2% in 2018, reaching a combined GDP of $3 trillion, it retained its position as the fifth largest economy in the world.

Democratic Leadership in a Populist Age


MELBOURNE – In most airport bookshops, you will see rows of titles offering business travelers advice on leadership. I should not disparage them. It is doubtless possible to rise in the marketing department by learning a lesson or two from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

And, to be fair, some airport books on leadership are thoughtful, and draw on a variety of examples. The investor and philanthropist Michael Moritz, for example, has written very well about business leaders like Steve Jobs and Lee Iacocca, and co-authored a highly readable book on leadership with Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary former manager of Manchester United.

You also may be able to draw lessons in leadership from the careers of great military commanders. In The Mask of Command, the military historian John Keegan notes the inevitably different requirements demanded of leaders at different times and in different technological environments. But the two things I took from his essays on Ulysses S. Grant and the Duke of Wellington were the importance of knowing what is happening (easier for Grant because of the telegraph) and the ability to explain clearly what you want to do.

Report: Iran likely to buy Russian and Chinese arms

Jack Detsch 

Tehran will likely look to Russia and China to purchase advanced weapons when a UN arms embargo against the country expires next year, a senior defense intelligence official said Nov. 19.

A missile made by the IRGC is mounted on a Chinese helicopter during the sixth exhibition of the aviation industry in Tehran, Iran, Nov. 25, 2015.

Iran is likely to seek out Russia and China to purchase advanced weapons systems such as tanks and fighter jets when a United Nations arms embargo against the country expires next year, a senior defense intelligence official said today, amid rising tensions in the Middle East.

In a report released on Tuesday that unveils the Defense Department’s public assessment of Iran’s military capabilities, the Pentagon’s top intelligence agency expressed concern that “modern conventional capabilities” will be available to Tehran when the UN embargo expires in 2020, allowing the country to become “a more traditional military force.

Space War Threats From China, Russia Getting New U.S. Assessment

By Anthony Capaccio

The U.S. intelligence community is updating its assessment of space warfare capabilities of Russia and China as military commanders express concerns about advances in the adversaries’ ability to jam, ram or destroy satellites in orbit.

Air Force General John Hyten requested the National Intelligence Estimate before he left his prior command at the U.S. Strategic Command, and it “is being worked by the IC at this time,” said Lieutenant Colonel Christina Hoggatt, an Air Force spokeswoman. Hyten is now the U.S.’s No. 2 military officer.

The new U.S. Space Command will use the updated intelligence estimate “alongside current operations and critical information from our international, civil, and commercial partnerships, to identify and drive” future “training and acquisition requirements,” Hoggatt said.

Hong Kong Says No to the China Dream


LONDON – At the beginning of his satirical novel China Dream, which has a cover designed by the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Ma Jian expresses his gratitude to George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm. Orwell, he says, “foretold it all.”

Today, too many politicians offer facile answers, mutually incompatible promises, and a return to purportedly simple and exclusive identities. Instead, the world's democracies need leaders who are able to counter the populist narrative in three main areas.

Ma, whose work is banned in China and who lives in exile in London, is of course reflecting on Orwell’s warnings about the threat of a totalitarian future in which dictatorships brainwash people. Today, in China’s Xinjiang region, the regime is incarcerating about a million Muslim Uighurs in “re-education” camps.

The target of Ma’s book is the Communist Party of China (CPC), which, he argues, has “imprisoned the minds and brutalized the bodies of the Chinese people.” In particular, his satire targets President Xi Jinping’s signature “China Dream.” A communist official in the novel believes the policy will “go global”; the CPC will become “the ruling party of humanity.”

China Has Hugely Outgrown The US Under Trump – OpEd

By Dean Baker
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This is one in the “whose is bigger?” category; which country has added the most to their GDP over the last three years. There is not any particular reason anyone should care about this, except that Donald Trump has made a big point of touting something about how no one says China will soon be the world’s largest economy anymore.

In fact, China’s economy surpassed the U.S. economy in 2015, using the purchasing power parity measure of GDP. This measure, in principle, uses a common set of prices for all goods and services for all countries’ output. Most economists consider it the best measure of the size of a country’s economy for most purposes.

China has continued to grow much faster the United States, meaning the gap between the economies is growing. China’s economy is currently more than 25 percent larger than the U.S. economy.

The graph below shows the growth in the two countries’ economies since 2016.

China has overtaken US as world's largest diplomatic power, think tank says

By Ben Westcott

Hong Kong (CNN)China has overtaken the United States as the country with the most diplomatic posts across the world, a stark indication of Beijing's growing international ambitions, a new report published by an Australian think tank has revealed.

Published by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute Wednesday, the Global Diplomacy Index is an analysis of the number of embassies and consulates maintained by countries worldwide.
According to the report, China now has 276 diplomatic posts globally, three more than the US. While they have an equal number of embassies, Beijing has more consulates around the world than Washington.

"Broadly speaking, consulates facilitate economic cooperation between countries, whereas embassies nurture political relationships," said lead researcher Bonnie Bley from the Lowy Institute.

"(The results) suggest that, on a practical level, China's network of overseas consulates can support the rollout of Beijing's economic ambitions."

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been building his international profile since coming to power in November 2012, seeking to put Beijing at the center of global affairs.
One of Xi's signature policies has been the Belt and Road Initiative, which offers huge infrastructure funds to partner nations to create new capital projects and trading corridors for China.

Protests in Iraq Represent a Significant Challenge to Shia Militias

By: Rafid Jaboori
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Dozens have been killed and hundreds injured in the ongoing wave of street protests in Baghdad and the predominantly Shia provinces of southern Iraq. Protesters are demanding jobs, reform, and a real shake-up of the political system. The political ruling class is undoubtedly unsettled by the nature and identity of the leaderless—yet energetic—protest movement (Aljazeera, October 24).

At the center of the predominantly Shia protesters’ anger is the Iran-backed Shia militias. Several bloody clashes have occurred as protesters attacked local branches of the militias and other Shia parties in predominantly Shia cities in southern Iraq. Militiamen were accused of being heavily involved in the shooting of protesters in Baghdad. This wave of protests represents the most daring and serious challenge to not only the powerful Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq, but to the whole Iranian domination of Iraqi politics since 2003. In post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, the political system has centered on the sharing of senior positions and resources among the three main sectarian factions—Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds. Shia parties allied with Iran, however, received the lion’s share. Iran also has historic influence over the Kurdish parties, and more recently some Sunni groups. The protests demand an overhaul to the whole political system, which would likely destabilize the power sharing arrangements that benefit Iran’s interests.

Against Iran

How To Commit War Crimes And Get Away With It – OpEd

By Vijay Prashad
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U.S. President Donald Trump sacked his Navy secretary on Twitter. The main reason is that the Navy secretary did not follow Trump’s advice regarding Navy Special Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher. Trump wanted Gallagher to retain his position as a Navy Seal. Gallagher was accused of stabbing to death a wounded fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in 2017; he was also accused of other incidents of murder (of a schoolgirl and an elderly man), and then of obstruction of justice. In July 2019, a military court acquitted Gallagher of most of the charges but found him guilty of posing with the body of the fighter who had been stabbed to death.

Gallagher’s situation emerged onto the front pages only because of the intervention of Trump. Otherwise, these accusations of war crimes or “misconduct” emerge, they are sometimes investigated, and then they just dissipate. Report upon report has accumulated over the past 16 years of war crimes committed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S.-NATO war on Afghanistan began in 2001, while the U.S. war on Iraq began in 2003. Hardly a day goes by in these countries where their combatants aren’t committing war crimes.

How the Iranian Government Shut Off the Internet

Amid widespread demonstrations over rising gasoline prices, Iranians began experiencing internet slowdowns over the past few days that became a near-total internet and mobile data blackout on Saturday. The government is apparently seeking to silence protesters and quell unrest. So how does a country like Iran switch off internet access to a population of more than 80 million? It's not an easy thing to do.

Though some countries, namely China, architected their internet infrastructure from the start with government control in mind, most don't have a central set of levers they can pull to influence countrywide access to content or connectivity. But regimes around the world, including those in Russia and Iran, have increasingly been retrofitting traditional private and decentralized networks with cooperation agreements, technical implants, or a combination to give officials more influence. In countries like Ethiopia, Venezuela, and Iraq, along with disputed regions like Kashmir, government-led social media blocking and more extensive outages have become the norm.

“This is the most wide-scale internet shutdown that we’ve seen in Iran,” says Adrian Shahbaz, research director at the pro-democracy group Freedom House, which tracks internet censorship and restriction worldwide. “It’s surprising to see the Iranian authorities block all internet connections rather than only international internet connections, because the latter is a tactic that they’ve used in the past. It could mean they are more fearful of their own people and worry that they cannot control the information space amidst these economic protests.”

Why China Would Never Help North Korea Make a Deal with Trump

by Anny Boc
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With every new North Korean missile – such as the one launched on Tuesday November 28 – or nuclear test, all eyes are on China. Like previous American presidents, Donald Trump believes that the road to a diplomatic solution on North Korea runs through Beijing. He holds the view that, of any country, China has the most leverage over North Korea and therefore could “quickly and easily” solve the problem with the Kim Jung-un regime – but is just not willing to do so.

For Washington, North Korea has become a top national security priority, in particular because of Pyongyang’s unexpectedly fast progress in developing intercontinental nuclear capabilities that may be able to reach the US mainland. Since assuming office, Trump has made North Korea the main focus of US-China relations. His main strategy has been to use trade issues as a bargaining chip to pressure China on North Korea, convinced that exerting enough economic pressure on Beijing will eventually force China to do what he wants.

America's Chemical Warfare Tour: How Agent Orange Destroyed Vietnam

by Jason von Meding
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In the end, the military campaign was called Operation Ranch Hand, but it originally went by a more appropriately hellish appellation: Operation Hades. As part of this Vietnam War effort, from 1961 to 1971, the United States sprayed over 73 million liters of chemical agents on the country to strip away the vegetation that provided cover for Vietcong troops in “enemy territory.”

Using a variety of defoliants, the U.S. military also intentionally targeted cultivated land, destroying crops and disrupting rice production and distribution by the largely communist National Liberation Front, a party devoted to reunification of North and South Vietnam.

Some 45 million liters of the poisoned spray was Agent Orange, which contains the toxic compound dioxin. It has unleashed in Vietnam a slow-onset disaster whose devastating economic, health and ecological impacts that are still being felt today.

This is one of the greatest legacies of the country’s 20-year war, but is yet to be honestly confronted. Even Ken Burns and Lynn Novick seem to gloss over this contentious issue, both in their supposedly exhaustive “Vietnam War” documentary series and in subsequent interviews about the horrors of Vietnam.

Vietnam’s half-century of disaster

Can open source intelligence combat Russian disinformation in the Baltics?

By: Nathan Strout   
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Utilizing open source intelligence will be essential to combating Russian disinformation in the Baltics, according to a new report published Nov. 14 by the Atlantic Council.

The report focuses on how NATO joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations can help Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — three ex-Soviet states that face the most direct threat from Russia of any NATO member. While there are limits to what military assistance the alliance can provide to the region without prompting a Russian response, the report notes that using the alliance’s networked system of sensors, collectors and analysts to provide situational awareness and early warning remains a low risk way to help out the embattled states.

“One of the things that our alliance can do with far less controversy than any of its other activities is gain intelligence — understand the situation as it exists at any one moment,” said retired Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper, who co-chaired the task force that authored the report.

The Billionaire Problem

WASHINGTON, DC – Our billionaire problem is getting worse. Any market-oriented economy creates opportunities for new fortunes to be built, including through innovation. More innovation is likely to take place where fewer rules encumber entrepreneurial creativity. Some of this creativity may lead to processes and products that are actually detrimental to public welfare. Unfortunately, by the time the need for legislation or regulation becomes apparent, the innovators have their billions – and they can use that money to protect their interests.

Today, too many politicians offer facile answers, mutually incompatible promises, and a return to purportedly simple and exclusive identities. Instead, the world's democracies need leaders who are able to counter the populist narrative in three main areas.

This billionaire problem is not new. Every epoch, dating at least from Roman times, produces versions of it whenever some shift in market structure or geopolitics creates an opportunity for fortunes to be built quickly. Writing in the 1830s, as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, Honoré de Balzac anticipated the broader social concern: “The secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a crime that has been forgotten, because it was properly carried out.” Or, in the more popular paraphrase: behind every great fortune lies a great crime.

Climate Change Is also a Health Crisis


GENEVA – The climate crisis is also a health crisis. The same emissions that cause global warming are also largely responsible for polluting the air we breathe, causing heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and infections, and affecting every organ in our bodies. Air pollution is the new tobacco, causing as many deaths as cigarettes do. And though it threatens us all, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and adults with weakened immune systems are the most at risk.

Today, too many politicians offer facile answers, mutually incompatible promises, and a return to purportedly simple and exclusive identities. Instead, the world's democracies need leaders who are able to counter the populist narrative in three main areas.3Add to Bookmarks

It is now common knowledge that smoking tobacco severely harms you and those around you. That is why the tobacco industry’s lobbying and advertising campaigns have been strictly regulated around the world. Globally, we have taken steps to safeguard existing health policies, and to force these companies to tell the truth: that their product kills.

Home Urine Test For Prostate Cancer Could Revolutionize Diagnosis

A simple urine test under development for prostate cancer detection can now use urine samples collected at home – according to new research from University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Scientists pioneered the test which diagnoses aggressive prostate cancer and predicts whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods.

Their latest study shows how the ‘PUR’ test (Prostate Urine Risk) could be performed on samples collected at home, so men don’t have to come into the clinic to provide a urine sample – or have to undergo an uncomfortable rectal examination.

This is an important step forward, because the first urination of the day provides biomarker levels from the prostate that are much higher and more consistent. And the research team hope that the introduction of the ‘At-Home Collection Kit’ could revolutionise diagnosis of the disease.

The US And The Black Sea: A Troublesome Year Ahead – OpEd

By Emil Avdaliani
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The US is increasingly looking inwards as internal political problems, coupled with the ongoing election campaign, shifts Washington’s attention away from some regions in the Eurasian continent. One such region is the Black Sea.

Being under considerable pressure from Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Georgia looked to the US and NATO for security considerations. Though there was no direct military help in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia and recognized the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions as independent, several agreements on military cooperation (one signed just a few days ago) and economic aid have been signed between Washington and Tbilisi.

Many in Georgia criticized the Obama Administration for initiating isolationist policies and looking away from the Black Sea. However, it is in recent years that the US policy has grown more inward-looking, which is having a continuous impact on vulnerable Tbilisi.

Impeachment hearings in the US are also shifting Washington’s attention from the Black Sea region. US’ ties with Ukraine are also being harmed and Georgians have already started asking “if the 40 million population strong Ukraine could be left alone, so can a tiny 4 million Georgia”.

DR Congo crowd burns UN base and Beni town hall

Media captionThe torched buildings, and protesters confronting peacekeeping troops

Protesters have torched a UN military base and the town hall in Beni in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The protesters were furious that UN and government troops had failed to prevent an attack by an Islamist militia.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) had killed eight people during a raid on the town on Sunday night.

The UN has an 18,000-strong force in DR Congo, but its troops and those of the government have battled to curb instability in the mostly lawless east.

The ADF is one of many militia groups operating in eastern DR Congo, a mineral-rich area which borders Uganda and Rwanda.

Here are the problems offensive cyber poses for NATO

By: Mark Pomerleau 

NATO has declared cyberspace a domain of warfare it must operate in and called on the integration of cyber alongside operations. However, as a defensive alliance, it has declared it won’t seek offensive cyber capabilities itself, instead relying on the capabilities of voluntary member states.

This approach, while not insurmountable, poses significant challenges to operations, experts claim.

The head of the alliance has said NATO members must be willing to use cyber capabilities.

“The idea of sovereign cyber effects provided voluntarily by allies is good. But … that will not fall under the command and control of the actual NATO commander,” David Bailey, senior national security law advisor for Army Cyber Command, said Nov. 19 at the 2019 International Conference on Cyber Conflict U.S. (CyCon U.S.) in Arlington. “It will still fall under the command and control of the country that contributes. In my mind, it’s going to be difficult to achieve that level of coordination that we’re used to in military operations, even in a NATO context.”

Can a tweet be a lawful order? Yes, but not always…


The case of Navy Chief Eddie Gallagher took another twist when the Navy’s announced that it intended to initiate an administrative personnel process for a “forced conversion” of Gallagher’s occupational rating. Translation: this could remove him from the Navy’s elite SEAL organization. If that happened it would mean Gallagher could no longer wear the SEAL’s coveted Trident badge. However, in a tweet the President said “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!” Was that an order to halt the effort?

The AP reported that former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer “did not consider a tweet by Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop the Navy review board, scheduled to begin Dec. 2, that would determine whether Gallagher is allowed to remain in the SEALs.” Was he right?

Corps issues new IED detectors more capable of identifying buried command wires

By: Philip Athey   

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group use compact metal detectors to clear a road during urban motor transportation operations lane training as part of integrated training exercise 5-19 on Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Aug. 5. (Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins/Marine Corps)

During the nearly two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan improvised explosive devices have been one of the main threats U.S. troops have faced.

The devices were easily hidden along roads and routes frequented by deployed forces who had limited means of identifying them, often left to look for disturbed earth or other markers giving away the hidden devices or wires.

As of September, all explosive ordnance disposal Marines have been supplied with the Buried Command Wire Detector, designed to locate command detonation wires, the Marine Corps said in a news release on DVIDS.

One way for the Pentagon to prove it’s serious about artificial intelligence

By: Mark Pomerleau
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Department of Defense officials routinely talk about the need to more fully embrace machine learning and artificial intelligence, but one leader in the Marine Corps said those efforts are falling short.

“We’re not serious about AI. If we were serious about AI we would put all of our stuff into one location,” Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, said at an AFCEA Northern Virginia chapter lunch Nov. 15.

Smith was broadly discussing the ability to provide technologies and data that’s collected in large quantities and pushed to the battlefield and tactical edge. Smith said leaders want the ability to send data to a 50-60 Marine cell in the Philippines that might be surrounded by the Chinese. That means being able to manage the bandwidth and signature so that those forces aren’t digitally targeted. That ability doesn’t currently doesn’t exist, he said.

Normally Hush-Hush NSA Opens Doors of New Cyber Directorate

Alyza Sebenius,

(Bloomberg) -- The National Security Agency is normally so secretive that its creation was classified, leading to the nickname “No Such Agency.”

But in a move that surely caused hand-wringing and murmurs among the nation’s longtime spies, the agency opened its doors to journalists. But just a crack.

Reporters were welcomed into the agency’s Fort Meade, Maryland headquarters last week for a carefully curated tour. The occasion? The NSA wanted to show off its Cybersecurity Directorate, a newly minted organization that began operations this month to protect the U.S. against emerging cyber threats.

“This is a little bit of a different approach for us from the traditional No Such Agency approach,” said Anne Neuberger, the head of the new cyber directorate, who was among the handful of NSA officials who spoke to journalists during the two-hour event.

The tour took place on Oct. 10 amid a recognition that U.S. enemies are rapidly developing cyber tools that threaten national security and the private sector alike, according to agency officials.

Black Box

A War By Other Means?

Jack Bowers

“How, when, and why was it noticed or imagined that what is going on beneath and in power relations is a war? When, how and why did someone come up with the idea that it is a sort of uninterrupted battle that shapes peace, and that the civil order...is basically an order of battle?...Who saw war just beneath the surface of peace; who sought in the noise and confusion of war, in the mud of battles, the principle that allows us to understand order, the State, its institutions, and its history?”

—Michel Foucault[1]

What if, just for the sake of argument, we were to reverse Clausewitz’s famous maxim? What if, say, we considered that war is not the continuation of politics by other means, but instead that politics is really the continuation of war? What would this say about war? Or politics? One of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault, speculated in just this way, simultaneously turning Clausewitz on his head and questioning the very nature of the relationship between war and peace. What does it mean, then, for war to be the default strategy?

Simulation: Security Escalation on the Northern Front

The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conducted a simulation to examine various scenarios dealing with the State of Israel’s northern front, titled: “Between a Third Lebanon War and a First Northern War.” Participating in the simulation were INSS researchers, including former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (ret.) Gadi Eisenkot, who recently joined the Institute as a Senior Research Fellow. The simulation focused on Israeli security cabinet discussions, which included the top military leadership and the political echelon, in the course of two combat scenarios: a “Third Lebanon War” – a confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon; and a “First Northern War” – a wider confrontation also involving Syria and additional theaters such as Iraq. Similarly discussed was the prospect of a preventive war on Hezbollah, and specifically, against the organization’s precision missile project. 

The Ayatollah Comes for the Internet

By Mahsa Alimardani
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Authoritarian governments have increasingly sought to use internet disruptions and blockades as weapons to crush dissent. Reports of internet shutdowns have recently come from Hong Kong, Iraq and Indian-controlled Kashmir, where access to the internet has been cut off for more than three months now.

Now it’s Iran’s turn. Over the weekend, the government imposed a nationwide internet blackout to suppress news of anti-government protests. The country’s internet access was disrupted during the protests in 2017 and 2018 — but this almost complete shutdown sets a new oppressive benchmark.

On Saturday morning, I spoke to a relative in Tehran who was trying to beat the city’s notorious traffic, looking for the best route to run an errand. She went on Waze, a popular navigation app that crowdsources traffic information.

Within moments, she realized that a number of Tehran residents were using the app to coordinate “car protests” — where Iranians park their cars on the city’s roads to create roadblocks — against the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices by 50 percent. Protests erupted across the country.

U.S. Army Develops a Robot Brain for Controlling Armored Vehicles

By Kyle Mizokami
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The U.S. Army has developed a standard set of hardware and software that, once installed in a human-vehicle, allows the vehicle to be operated remotely or even in a semi-autonomous fashion. The Army’s goal is unmanned fighting vehicles that can operate along manned fighting vehicles, and convoys of unmanned vehicles that can travel routes autonomously or following the lead of a human driver. The service faces significant challenges, however, as the two-dimensional aspect of unmanned ground is more difficult than unmanned air.

In an exclusive to Breaking Defense, the U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicles Systems Center revealed it has a suite of hardware and software capable of transforming manned vehicles to unmanned ones. The Army has tested it on more than 20 different vehicles, from Humvees to aging M113 armored personnel carriers. It has even installed the kit on German trucks used by the British Army that had the steering wheel, brakes, and other controls on the left hand side.