21 December 2019

INSTC vs. BRI: The India-China Competition Over the Port of Chabahar and Infrastructure in Asia

By: Syed Fazl-e Haider


The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the central component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in South Asia, has been a source of significant attention and controversy (China Brief, January 12, 2018; China Brief, February 15). Parts of South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe, however, are also host to another ambitious infrastructure program: the “International North-South Transport Corridor” (INSTC), a transportation development plan first established in 2000 by Iran, Russia and India. The INSTC envisions a network to connect Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf ports and rail centers to the Caspian Sea, and then onwards through the Russian Federation to St. Petersburg and northern Europe. [1]

INSTC is the key to India’s strategic plans for regional political and economic connectivity—and in turn, India’s operational control over Iran’s southeastern port of Chabahar is key to India’s ambitions for the INSTC. Chabahar is strategically located as Iran’s largest port outside the Gulf, offering open access to the Indian Ocean. India’s role in Chabahar stands in competition with plans by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to develop the port of Gwadar, just over 100 miles to the east in Pakistan’s southwest province of Balochistan. The competing plans for these ports on the Gulf of Oman highlight both the competition between CPEC and INSTC, and the broader geopolitical competition in South Asia between India and China.

The Importance of INSTC and the Chabahar Port for India…

Strategic Implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

James Schwemlein
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Great power politics is resurgent in South Asia today. China’s growing military ambition in the region is matched in financial terms by its Belt and Road Initiative, the largest and most advanced component of which is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. What remains unclear is how the United States should navigate the new dynamic. This report, which is based on research and consultations with experts worldwide, addresses the question of how the India-Pakistan rivalry will play into the emerging great power competition.The Karakoram Highway connects Pakistan and China through the Khunjerab Pass, the highest altitude border crossing in the world. (View Stock/Alamy Stock Photo)

China’s changing role in Pakistan offers an opportunity to examine China in a learning mode, in a challenging environment, and as an actor in the decades-long rivalry between Pakistan and India.

China’s long-term investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can be explained in at least three ways: to demonstrate China’s attractiveness as a partner; to prove that China’s development model can be exported; and to use Pakistan as an element of its strategic competition with the United States and India.

Analysis: How the US arrived at this critical crossroads in Afghanistan


Decades of deceit and mistakes have led us to the brink of a major foreign policy failure. The Trump administration is reportedly on the cusp of cutting a shameful deal with the Taliban that will provide the US military cover to withdrawal from Afghanistan. In order to help sell that deal, the US will disregard and obfuscate the Taliban’s generations-long, steadfast alliance with al Qaeda.

“U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress,” The Washington Post reported today. “They were not, and they knew it.”

The Post report will not be shocking to longtime readers of FDD’s Long War Journal. Over the past decade, we have documented the lies and deceptions from presidents, senior officials and high-ranking military officers.

The Post’s analysis is based on more than 2,000 interviews compiled by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Ironically, some of those interviewed who are critical of US efforts in Afghanistan are the very same officials whose failed policies and ideas somehow remain promoted to this day.

Analysis: Taliban continues to lie about presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan

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On Dec. 4, FDD’s Long War Journal reported on a new video released by the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an al-Qaeda-affiliated group that is loyal to the Taliban and fights under its umbrella in Afghanistan. The video shows TIP members training and and fighting in Afghanistan. Overall, the video is a pretty typical example of jihadist messaging.

But the Taliban, which seeks to negotiate an American and Western withdrawal from Afghanistan in exchange for its supposed counterterrorism assurances, wasn’t happy that we noticed the TIP’s video.

Earlier today, the Taliban released a statement attributed to its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, who claims there “are no foreign nationals present in Afghanistan.” The Taliban’s mouthpiece insists that “all foreign Mujahideen and nationals that had arrived in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet Union left” after the U.S.-led invasion, “returning back to their country of origin and others taking refuge in other Arab countries.”

Hizb ul-Ahrar: Pakistan’s Cross-border Taliban Problem Remains Critical

By: Animesh Roul

Following a notable lull in militant activity, Pakistan is now facing a unique militant escalation targeted against its security forces in the North Waziristan area and bordering regions. Despite the Taliban force largely being subdued following the concerted counter-terrorism efforts by Pakistan’s military, such as Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, a resurgent faction Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) has been carrying out targeted attacks in regular intervals. Although these incidents are downplayed by the Pakistani military as being sporadic and low-scale violence, several Pakistani soldiers and police officers have been killed by HuA in daring targeted assaults in the past year.

HuA, a violent offshoot of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), claimed responsibility for at least four attacks in November 2019. On November 29, at least fourteen people were injured when a bomb planted in a stationary rickshaw detonated near Chauburji on Multan Road in Lahore (Dawn, November 30). On November 12, three Pakistan Army soldiers were killed in North Waziristan’s Miranshah. On November 14, a senior police official, Ghani Khan, was killed in the Mian Gujjar area of Peshawar city (Dawn, November 15). In early November, HuA also claimed responsibility for killing four Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan’s Razmak area (Gandhara, November 4).

Taliban Legacy/ Offshoot

Self-Delusion and Forgetting History in Afghanistan

By Paul Behringer, Nathaniel Moir

On December 9, the Washington Post released a six-part investigative report dubbed the “The Afghanistan Papers.” The articles were meant to evoke the infamous Pentagon Papers, which showed that the U.S. government, across multiple administrations, lied to the American people about progress in Vietnam. Once again, the American people were informed of progress even as U.S. officials voiced doubts behind closed doors. Even worse, the American public was informed there were no other options but to stay the course.

The fact that the war in Afghanistan has not been going well, despite assurances by military and civilian officials over a decade, is not new information. “The Afghanistan Papers” detail the ways in which U.S. leaders failed to learn important lessons from Vietnam. To paraphrase Karl Marx, we might be tempted to view repeating Vietnam’s tragic mistakes as a farce—if it weren’t so infuriating.

The Post’s investigation reveals two substantive problems: (1) progress in counterinsurgency operations cannot be quantified, and (2) money and military power cannot compensate for lack of cultural intelligence or ill-considered foreign policy formation. Throughout the report, officials anguish over their inability to measure progress that never existed. Readers learn that the United States sunk more cash into Afghanistan than allocated for Western Europe’s reconstruction under the Marshall Plan.

China developing new fighter aircraft

Andrew Tate

China is developing a new fighter aircraft that is expected to make extensive use of advanced composite materials and have low-observable characteristics, according to a report published by the state-owned Global Times newspaper on 14 December.

If correct, this would be China's second stealth fighter aircraft after the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-20 'fifth-generation' multirole fighter, which officially entered service in 2018.

The report states that a joint development team was established by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in September 2018, with personnel from the structures department of AVIC's Shenyang Aircraft Design and Research Institute (also known as the 601 Institute) and the military projects department of AVIC's Manufacturing Technology Institute.

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Cronies Everywhere


WASHINGTON, DC – “Western market capitalism” is generally defined as a system in which many economic agents interact and compete in decentralized competitive markets, with the state’s role confined to enforcing property rights, regulating markets, ensuring competition, and providing basic public goods financed by taxes. Obviously, this is an idealized version of what actually exists. But many political economists find it useful to contrast market capitalism with “state capitalism,” wherein the state directs investment decisions and owns/controls large segments of the economy, while still allowing for private ownership of the means of production.

Crony capitalism, by contrast, represents a category of its own. It is usually defined as a system in which private business actors and powerful political players forge close “insider connections” to secure large material benefits for themselves. Because the state always plays some role in the economy (either at the national or subnational level), there will always be some potential for cronyism, such as through the capture of public procurement spending, regulatory agencies, subsidies, and land zoning. And generally speaking, greater state involvement implies more opportunities for such abuses. Ultimately, though, neither market nor state capitalist systems are immune to crony capitalism.

US-China trade deal: 3 fundamental issues remain unresolved

Penelope B. Prime

While few details have been disclosed, the agreement principally seems to involve the U.S. calling off a new round of tariffs that were slated to take effect on Dec. 15 and removing others already in place in exchange for more Chinese purchases of U.S. farm products.

Good news, right? The end of the trade war is nigh? Don’t get your hopes up.

While business leaders in both countries will be temporarily relieved, the underlying tensions between them will not end easily.

As an economist who closely studies the U.S. relationship with China, I believe there are fundamental issues that won’t be resolved anytime soon.
Doing it in phases

Tariffs and other trade issues have received most of the attention during the trade war, but the more fundamental – and difficult – challenges are with lax intellectual property protection and China’s industrial policy.

The Middle East and China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Lisa Watanabe writes that China’s presence in the Middle East is on the rise, particularly in the framework of its Belt and Road Initiative. As the US draws down its commitments in the region, Europe will need to consider what greater Chinese involvement in the region means for its interests. 

Xi Jinping’s annus horribilis

Minxin Pei

China’s strongman leader can’t seem to catch a break. From the trade war with the United States to the crisis in Hong Kong to international criticism of his human rights record, President Xi Jinping suffered major setbacks in 2019, and his prospects for 2020 appear even worse.

China could have ended the trade war with the US last May, thereby giving its flagging economy a significant boost. Yet, at the last minute, Chinese leaders backtracked on a number of issues that American negotiators had considered settled. With the US also incurring high costs from the trade war, President Donald Trump was furious, and took his revenge.

Beyond imposing new tariffs, Trump escalated his efforts to limit China’s access to vital technologies. Less than two weeks after the trade agreement collapsed, Trump signed an executive order barring US companies from using telecoms equipment from manufacturers that his administration deemed a national security risk. The most prominent of these is the Chinese tech giant Huawei, which Trump had already been targeting for months.

Five Myths About Protest Movements

BY: Adam Gallagher; Maria J. Stephan
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This year saw protests across the globe, as citizens bridled under what they consider the tyranny of their governments. From Iraq to Zimbabwe, Hong Kong to Chile, demonstrators even in places with ample surveillance and retributive regimes have worked to make their voices heard. But alongside these movements, misconceptions about how they work persist—and plague our understanding of their goals, their methods and their outcomes.Protesters fill Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Oct. 30, 2019. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)

Myth No. 1: Social media has made popular movements more effective.

A dominant theory during the Arab uprisings in 2011 held that the rise of social media would help popular movements. “Through social networking sites, Arab Spring activists have not only gained the power to overthrow powerful dictatorship, but also helped Arab civilians become aware of the underground communities that exist,” said a 2012 article in Mic. A Wall Street Journal story about demonstrations in Sudan this year against Omar Hassan al-Bashir said, “Activists whose street protests precipitated the military overthrow of Sudan’s longtime leader relied on social media.” This year, Iran’s government shut down the Internet in response to mass protests—after slowing it significantly during similar events in 2009 and 2011—and protesters said it damaged their ability to organize. A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found 67 percent of Americans believed that social media was an important tool for “creating sustained movements for social change.”

The China Challenge

By Martijn Rasser, Elizabeth Rosenberg and Paul Scharre

The United States and China are strategic competitors, and technology is at the center of this competition, critical to economic strength and national security. The United States benefits from collaboration with China—including student and tech expert exchanges, certain Chinese investments and interlinked supply chains, and bilateral trade flows. However, the United States is vulnerable to Chinese threats in the technology sector that would compromise U.S. security, privacy, and a competitive tech industry. The U.S.-China tech relationship requires a recalibration. Congress and the administration can advance U.S. national security and competitiveness by undertaking major investments in the U.S. tech sector, establishing new rules for technology development and trade, and increasing collaboration with allies.

Promote American Innovation

Increase research and development (R&D) spending. The United States should increase total national R&D spending from 2.8 percent to 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and federal R&D spending from 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent.

Increase science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and training. The U.S. government should invest in improved STEM education and professional development for teachers. Congress should incentivize private industry workforce training in STEM.

Burkina Faso: Jihadists’ Ethnic Strategy and the Koglweogo Problem

By: Nicholas Lazarides

The Sahel has quickly become an epicenter of terrorism, with the once relatively stable Burkina Faso on the verge of replacing Mali as a focal point of jihadist violence. Instability from the prolonged conflict in Libya has been emanating into Mali and beyond since the fall of Ghaddafi in 2011 and the subsequent influx of weapons and fighters. This influx, coupled with the lack of effective state control and flexible narratives espoused by terror groups in the region, allowed militant groups to gain a strong foothold in southern Mali. The violence inevitably began to spill across the border into Burkina Faso and Niger as militants expanded operations and found haven near the Sahel Reserve, a protected wildlife area that straddles the borders of the three countries.

The primary jihadist groups responsible for attacks in Burkina Faso are Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), and the locally grown Ansaroul Islam. The dramatic increase in terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, however, is not solely indicative of a newfound support base and is as much a reflection of the ease in which these groups can exploit and operate in areas characterized by ethnic diversity and a lack of basic services and state control, particularly by police or security forces. Jihadist groups have been responsible for a staggering number of attacks over the past three years, but the second order effect of widespread communal violence has been equally devastating and, if unchecked, could outlast the existence of these jihadist organizations and become a lasting fixture of Burkinabe society.

How Aramco And Millions Of Saudis Proved IPO Skeptics Wrong – OpEd

By Faisal Faeq*

Brent crude has averaged about $64 per barrel in 2019, a relatively low oil price backdrop for the initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Aramco. That makes the success of the share sale all the more significant.

If we take a few steps back to when the prospectus was being prepared, an independent third-party audit of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves revealed that the Kingdom’s proven low-cost conventional oil reserves were far more valuable than other reserves globally. It also showed that Aramco’s profits of $111 billion were more than the net profits of the top five oil companies combined, and also higher than Apple’s profit in 2018.

Impressive stuff, but not, it seems, for some industry analysts who were skeptical about the Kingdom’s national oil company justified a $2 trillion valuation. 

The mid-September attacks on Saudi Aramco gigantic oil facility in Abqaiq were seized on to show, incorrectly as it turned out, that the country’s oil infrastructure was fragile.

Pentagon Advances New Technology to Destroy Hypersonic Missile Attacks

By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

(Washington, D.C.) Carrier strike groups, mechanized armored columns of ground vehicles and sensitive ground sites can all be destroyed in a matter of several minutes by fast, maneuverable hypersonic weapons traveling at five-times the speed of sound.

Now - the Pentagon wants to stop them with new space sensor layer technology designed to give U.S. commanders a chance to knock hypersonic missiles straight out of the sky.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is now entering Phase IIa of an emerging sensor technology specifically engineered to establish a continuous “track” on approaching hypersonic missiles. It’s called Hypersonic Ballistic Missile Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS).

“HBTSS will become a primary part of a hybrid tracking layer within the National Defense Space Architecture, which consists of systems in different orbits that provide the capability to detect and track both conventional ballistic missiles and emerging threats,” Missile Defense Agency spokeswoman Maria Njoku, told Warrior in a statement.

Chained to Globalization

By Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman 

In 1999, the columnist Thomas Friedman pronounced the Cold War geopolitical system dead. The world, he wrote, had “gone from a system built around walls to a system increasingly built around networks.” As businesses chased efficiency and profits, maneuvering among great powers was falling away. An era of harmony was at hand, in which states’ main worries would be how to manage market forces rather than one another.

Friedman was right that a globalized world had arrived but wrong about what that world would look like. Instead of liberating governments and businesses, globalization entangled them. As digital networks, financial flows, and supply chains stretched across the globe, states—especially the United States—started treating them as webs in which to trap one another. Today, the U.S. National Security Agency lurks at the heart of the Internet, listening in on all kinds of communications. The U.S. Department of the Treasury uses the international financial system to punish rogue states and errant financial institutions. In service of its trade war with China, Washington has tied down massive firms and entire national economies by targeting vulnerable points in global supply chains. Other countries are in on the game, too: Japan has used its control over key industrial chemicals to hold South Korea’s electronics industry for ransom, and Beijing might eventually be able to infiltrate the world’s 5G communications system through its access to the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Effects Of Natural Gas Assessed In Study Of Shale Gas Boom In Appalachian Basin

Natural gas has become the largest fuel source for generating electricity in the United States, accounting for a third of production and consumption of energy. However, the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of natural gas have not been considered comprehensively.

A new study estimated the cumulative effects of the shale gas boom in the Appalachian basin in the early 2000s on air quality, climate change, and employment. The study found that effects on air quality and employment followed the boom-and-bust cycle, but effects on climate change will likely persist for generations to come. The study, which also considered how to compensate for these effects, provides insights for long-term decision making in this field.

The study, by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Princeton University, and Stanford University, appears in nature sustainability.

“While gas development has boosted aspects of the regional economy, private firms have not faced the full costs of natural gas development,” explains Nicholas Z. Muller, Associate Professor of Economics, Engineering, and Public Policy at CMU’s Tepper School of Business, who coauthored the study. “In our work, we sought to evaluate the cumulative and disparate impacts of current energy systems to inform policymaking.”

How Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren Are Channeling Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez – OpEd

By William L. Anderson*

A decade ago, Democrat politicians and their cultural and academic allies were singing the praises of Hugo Chávez and his “economic miracle” in Venezuela. From Bernie Sanders to Salon, to Joseph Stiglitz and Sean Penn, Chávez’s version of socialism had transformed Venezuela, lifted up the poor, and set an example for the United States and Latin America.

Today, Venezuela takes its rightful place with the left in the Orwellian memory hole. Sanders no longer brings it up on the campaign trail, Stiglitz has not made a public comment on the Venezuelan economy or Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro. The Left either claims that Venezuela never really tried real socialism (Yahoo Finance) or simply pretends that the country and its brutal kleptocracy are nonexistent or, at best, irrelevant to the latest collectivist policies being thrown out by Democrat politicians.

Yet neither Venezuela nor its policies are irrelevant in US politics; on the contrary, they are the staple of some candidates running for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Their proposals are much closer to the Chávez/Maduro variety of socialism than any of them or their media allies are willing to admit. While they insist that they want to create a New Denmark, what they are fashioning is a domestic version of the latest Latin American tragedy. To understand why this is so, we first need a refresher course on what has happened in Venezuela.

New Technologies for Border Controls in Europe

Author Julian Kamasa
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Julian Kamasa writes that rapidly increasing mobility, especially with regards to air traffic, poses new challenges for the border agencies in Europe. New technologies may help to manage the movement of people and ensure security. As a Schengen member, Switzerland can benefit from these developments. However, Kamasa notes that a number of adaptations are required 

Red Sea Geopolitics: Six Plotlines to Watch

By Zach Vertin 

Editor’s Note: Many of the countries bordering the Red Sea suffer a mix of violence, corruption, instability and tyranny. Compounding the problem, outside states are meddling more in an attempt to increase their influence while the Trump administration stands by. My Brookings Institution colleague Zach Vertin offers six areas to watch in the months and years to come, ranging from potential great power competition to the growing role of Gulf states in African politics.

The Red Sea has long represented a critical link in a network of global waterways stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean to the Pacific—a strategic and economic thoroughfare one U.S. defense official dubbed the “Interstate-95 of the planet.” Prized by conquerors from Alexander to Napoleon, the Red Sea’s centrality to maritime trade and its chokepoints have for centuries made it a subject of keen geopolitical interest. But a new kind of rivalry has emerged in recent years, sparking a season of unprecedented geopolitical competition astride the Red Sea, as the boundaries of the two regions it enjoins—the Arabian Gulf and the Horn of Africa—are fast disappearing.

Deadly blaze hits Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier

At least two Russian navy officers were killed after a fire broke out at Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's sole aircraft carrier, on Thursday morning. At least 11 more people were injured.

The blaze reportedly started while workers were conducting welding operations in the vessel's engine room, while the ship was docked in Murmansk. It was only extinguished a day later.

One of the servicemen lost his life after heading towards the area to "ensure the safe evacuation of workers," Russia's Northern Fleet said in a statement.

Images from the scene showed thick smoke billowing from the vessel. Russia's federal investigators were looking into the incident.

According to Russia's Kommersant paper, the fire started when melted metal fell down a shaft and landed on an oily cloth. The fire then reportedly spread to the electric cables.

Last Soviet aircraft carrier

Would Trump drive NATO exit? Congress works on roadblocks.

By: Joe Gould  

WASHINGTON ― Amid uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s intentions toward NATO, Congress is taking bipartisan action to stop him from withdrawing from the alliance.

In recent weeks, lawmakers in both chambers have taken steps to reaffirm its unwavering support for the military alliance and make it tougher for Trump to unilaterally withdraw from NATO ― all to counterbalance the president’s sometimes antagonistic rhetoric and, reportedly, his openness to a withdrawal.

The House last week passed a sweeping defense policy bill that would reaffirm strong congressional support for NATO and prohibit the use of U.S. funds to withdraw from the alliance. The Senate is expected to send the bill, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, to Trump, who has said he will sign it into into law.

"The NDAA ensures that America not only is a reliable partner in NATO, but that NATO remains the cornerstone for peace and prosperity throughout the world,” the author of the language, Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., said in a statement last week.

Charting Convergence

Ongoing geopolitical shifts are placing increased pressure on the rules-based international order that has facilitated decades of growth and development across the Indo-Pacific. The United States and Taiwan have responded by redoubling their respective commitments to the region. Leaders in both Washington and Taipei recognize that securing freedom and openness across this vast geographic space is essential for maintaining peace and promoting prosperity across the region.

The United States has advanced its vision for the region through the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy, which is founded on—and aims to protect—common principles that have benefitted all countries in the region. Taiwan upholds the same principles and has a similar vision for the Indo-Pacific. To this end, Taipei is implementing the New Southbound Policy (NSP), which seeks to leverage its cultural, educational, technological, agricultural, and economic assets to strengthen Taiwan’s relations across the Indo-Pacific.

This report was made possible by the generous support of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Development Beyond the Joint Qualification System: An Overview

By Dina Eliezer, Theresa K. Mitchell, and Allison Abbe 

Pararescueman with 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa, participates in static line jump from 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130J Hercules near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, May 11, 2019 (U.S. Air Force/Chris Hibben)

In 1986, Congress passed the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act, leading to substantial reforms in joint officer personnel policy and management. Goldwater-Nichols requirements were based on concerns that the Department of Defense (DOD) had paid insufficient attention to joint officer management and on a perception that there were disincentives to serving in joint assignments. Twenty years after Goldwater-Nichols, continued congressional interest in joint officer development resulted in the 2007 requirement for DOD to establish different levels of joint qualification and supporting criteria for each level.1 In response to this congressional requirement, DOD evaluated the state of Joint Officer Management (JOM) and the Joint Specialty Officer designation process and implemented the Joint Qualification System (JQS) to support a more strategic human resource approach to JOM.2

The JQS is a system of progressive career development steps intended to prepare officers for unified action at the operational and strategic levels. Under the current JQS, officers become credentialed as Joint Qualified Officers through a combination of education and experience, and this designation is required for promotion to general officer/flag officer. The experience requirement can be met either through standard joint duty assignments (S-JDA) after service in a Joint Duty Assignment List (JDAL) position or through joint experience points obtained from experience in non-JDAL joint duty assignments and experiences that demonstrate an officer’s mastery of knowledge, skills, and abilities in joint matters (experience-based joint duty assignments, or E-JDA). For both S-JDA and E-JDA, the preponderance of duties must involve joint matters as defined by statute.

Six Takeaways for the Next Decade of People Power

BY: Shaazka Beyerle
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2019 is being called “the year of protest.” A nexus of corruption, inequality, and unaccountable and unresponsive governments has galvanized citizens across the globe. “People are saying ‘pay attention to us, you are there to serve us,’” observed Nancy Lindborg, USIP president and CEO. This year’s wave of people power shows that governments—whether they are democratic, semi-democratic, or authoritarian—are not immune to collective civic pressure.Thousands of people protesting corruption and the government's inability to provide basic services in Beirut on Oct. 23, 2019. (Diego Ibarra Sanchez/The New York Times)

We’ve witnessed nonviolent movements oust longtime, brutal dictators in Algeria and Sudan. In both Lebanon and Iraq, citizens overcame sectarian divides to force their prime ministers to resign. In other nations, like Chile and Colombia, nonviolent demonstrations are forcing leaders to backtrack on price hikes and make concessions. And protests have rattled authoritarian and backsliding governments in Egypt, Georgia, Poland, Russia, Zimbabwe and numerous other countries around the world.

Closing a Critical Gap in Cybersecurity

By Christopher C. Krebs 

Last year, faced with rising threats in cyberspace, Congress established the nation’s first civilian cybersecurity agency—the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). We serve as the nation’s risk adviser, which means we’re the agency responsible for working with partners throughout government and industry to improve America’s cybersecurity. One of our main responsibilities is protecting critical infrastructure by sharing information about vulnerabilities on networks that—if left unmitigated—leave them susceptible to attack, putting our national security and economic prosperity at risk. CISA analysts work around the clock to identify and address these vulnerabilities and, ultimately, share this timely risk management information with our partners.

Unfortunately, too often we come across cybersecurity vulnerabilities sitting on the public internet and are unable to act because we cannot identify the owner of the vulnerable system. One key area of concern involves industrial control systems and other networks that operate the nation’s critical infrastructure. Among many examples, CISA is currently aware of a system that controls water pumps, one controlling an oil and natural gas facility, and one controlling emergency management equipment that can be accessed without a password and modified by anyone with an internet connection. Unless Congress acts, systems that support critical functions that everyday Americans rely upon could remain wide open to attack, but there’s little we can do to protect them.

Lines, Flows and Transnational Crime: Toward a Revised Approach to Countering the Underworld of Globalization

Alan Bersin
In this article, we develop a new framework for combating transnational criminal activity. We argue that global illicit flows, perpetrated by organized crime, in the interstices of lawful trade and travel, embody a critical and debilitating non-state security threat in today’s world, one that the Westphalian international system of sovereign states remains ill-equipped to confront. Accordingly, we seek to generate a wider discussion in the field regarding a revised approach to this threat that is situated within a global framework of collaborative law enforcement which incorporates, in appropriate fashion, certain military and counter-terrorist strategies.

The propositions we advance in support of a revised approach to countering transnational crime and its globalized web-enabled criminals include: (a) terrorism is one species of transnational crime; (b) the criminal justice model of arrest, prosecution, conviction and incarceration is a partial and insufficient response to transnational crime; (c) national security and law enforcement functions should be viewed analytically as a “public security” continuum rather than disciplines separated by bright lines; (d) countering transnational criminal organizations effectively may require development of a hybrid law enforcement/military capacity and new strategic and tactical doctrines, including safeguards against abuse, to govern its deployment; (e) joint border management within nations and between them, coordinated with the private sector, is required and inter-agency cooperation and multilateral institutions must be strengthened in accordance with new international norms and (f) North America, a region construed as extending from Colombia to the Arctic and from Bermuda to Hawaii, could develop in the future, together with the European Union, as an initial site for a model pilot of the new approach.

The Pensacola Attack and its Implications

Last week Royal Saudi Air Force 2LT Mohammed Alshamrani killed three people and wounded eight others in a terrorist attack at Pensacola Naval Air Station. He was killed by a sheriff’s deputy in response. The gun he used was legally purchased using a hunting license. The FBI had previously warned about this loophole for foreign nationals. He had been in the United States since 2017, receiving both English language and flight and weapons training, with brief returns to the Saudi Arabia for leave.

Why was he here? While Saudi Arabian military personnel have been receiving training in the United States since at least 1991 (I attended the Armor Officer Basic Course with a Saudi officer in 1994), they and other foreign soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines receive training through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. (IMET training is approved by the State Department and administered by the Department of Defense.) The Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s site lists the aims of such military training for foreign nationals as:

How Chávez Broke Venezuela's Military

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Chavismo imposed deep changes to many areas of the Venezuelan government, but the transformation in the armed forces — and more broadly in civil-military relations — stands out as a particularly extreme case. The basis of this shift was the blurring of lines between security and defense institutions under the “Bolivarian Revolution.” During the governments of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, the military turned away from protecting the state and its citizens and toward defending the chavista regime.

In theory, defense institutions deal with preserving the territorial integrity of the state “from the borders out,” while security agencies protect individuals and their property “from the borders in.” This distinction is important for defense and security institutions’ ability to fulfill their missions and cooperate with peers across borders.

The defense-security distinction was clear in Venezuela for a long time. The armed forces were a professional institution made up of four branches, three of which were similar to the U.S. army, air force and navy. The fourth branch, the National Guard, was a gendarmerie force charged with working at the intersection of defense and security, taking on roles such as border patrol and protection of state-owned land.