17 February 2020

Creating an Effective CDS for India’s National Defence

VIF Study Group Report

Nearly two decades after submission of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) report in 1999, the Group of Ministers (GOM) Report in 2001 and recommendations of the Naresh Chandra Task Force in 2012, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for the Indian armed forces has become a reality. Implementation was set into motion following Prime Minister Modi‘s announcement to this effect on August 15, 2019. Thereafter, a high-level committee under the National Security Adviser (NSA) set about evolving a framework and charter of responsibility for the CDS. After nearly four months of extensive deliberations, the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS), on December 24, 2019 accorded approval for creation of the post of the CDS.

A surprise but welcome `supplement’ to this was the creation of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) as the fifth vertical in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), (others being the Department of Defence (DOD), Department of Defence Production (DDP), Department of Defence Research and Development (DRDO) and Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW). Finally, following a formal notification regarding revision of retirement age of CDS to 65 years, the outgoing Army chief General Bipin Rawat who was to superannuate on December 31, 2019 was designated as the first CDS. The year 2020, thus dawned with the long-awaited CDS for the Indian armed forces finally becoming a reality.

Beyond Rajapaksa’s Visit, Are India and Sri Lanka Really on the Same Page?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa just completed a five-day trip to India, making it his first foreign trip since his appointment as prime minister in late November 2019. While the trip highlighted some areas for collaboration between the two sides, it also left broader questions lingering about the future direction of ties.

By all accounts, Rajapaksa’s visit appears to have been a successful one. For instance, Mahinda touched the right cords in New Delhi even on sensitive issues by stating that developments relating to Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370 were India’s internal affairs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for his part, said in his press statement that he appreciated Sri Lanka’s importance not only to India but to the entire Indian Ocean Region. He added that “stability, security and prosperity in Sri Lanka” is an essential element in ushering peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

In line with the “Neighborhood First” approach and the “Sagar” doctrine, Modi went on to say that New Delhi attaches “a special priority” to its relations with Colombo, which will no doubt be welcome. Sri Lanka also appears to be satisfied with the comfort level that exists between Modi and Rajapaksa and the pace of the relationship.

Is Donald Trump About to Make Peace with the Taliban?

by Daniel R. DePetris 

Before President Donald Trump scuttled the talks last September, the United States and the Taliban were the closest they had ever been to sign an agreement since the war in Afghanistan began 18 years ago. Now, three months after those talks resumed thanks in part to a prisoner exchange that swapped two western professors in Taliban custody for three of the movement’s commanders, U.S. and Taliban negotiators are really, really close—so close, in fact, that a deal could be announced within a matter of days.

According to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, there is a deal on the table that could decrease the violence substantially and lead to the intra-Afghan political negotiations Washington has been advocating for. "The best if not only way forward is a political agreement,” Esper said as he attended the NATO Defense Ministerial Conference in Brussels. “We have the basis for one on the table...I think peace deserves a chance, but it will demand all parties to comply with their obligations, if we move forward.”

Therein lies the rub: all parties need to actually implement what they signed up to. If that first, crucial step doesn’t happen, the entire diplomatic edifice could collapse as quickly as Trump tweeting about his political enemies.

What’s the True Human Cost of US Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan?

By Catherine Putz

Costs are all-too-often spoken of in dollar signs and bottom lines, rather than an accounting of coffins. And when death is factored in, war-related deaths get the headlines, or sometimes the nigh uncountable number of civilian casualties gets top billing. But the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan have had their human costs, too.

In a report released this week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) noted that the bulk of its work has been in tracking the financial costs of reconstruction and stabilization activities in the war-torn country but that relatively little effort “has been made up to now to track the human costs – the number of people killed, wounded, or kidnapped – to accomplish these activities.”

As SIGAR pointed out, “This has left policy makers with an incomplete picture of the true cost of our efforts in Afghanistan.”

Stuck in Central China on Coronavirus Lockdown

Shiyan, China—Before Shiyan, a city in Hubei province, went into quarantine, the sum of thirty yuan (about $4) could buy two cabbages, enough spring onions for two soups, a large white radish, two lettuces, a potato, and ten eggs. Not any more. Wanting to record the hiked prices, I took two photos of price cards in my local district’s largest supermarket. Immediately, a shop assistant approached. “You can’t do that,” she said. “Please delete them.” Even after I agreed, she stood peering over my shoulder to see my phone, to make sure that the images were gone. “You could report her,” a local resident told me later: national orders have forbidden merchants to raise their prices.

Shiyan may be in the same province as Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak that has so far seen more than 20,000 cases reported in China, but it’s a seven-hour drive away if there’s no traffic. I had planned to spend the Lunar New Year holiday there in Shiyan with my roommate, Ningning, and her family. On the day I took the train from Beijing, where I have lived for the last four years, the coronavirus seemed largely confined to Wuhan; Shiyan had reported no cases. Over our first meal together in Shiyan, I learned that the local government had prepared an order to quarantine the city. There were coronavirus cases already, just not made public.

While U.S. Worries About China, Europe Stays Focused on Russia

by Robert Burns

China and its increasingly sophisticated and far-flung military sit atop U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s list of international security worries, but in Europe a bigger concern is closer to home: Russia.

The Trump administration has been trying since 2018 to reorient its defense strategy toward China, with reduced focus, when possible, on Russia and the years-long insurgency wars in the greater Middle East. Russia remains a U.S. worry, but Esper and other administration officials want the allies to see China as Washington does – as a far more capable adversary.

China was not on the formal agenda when Esper met with allies at NATO headquarters Wednesday and Thursday, but he made a point of publicly expressing American concerns.

“I’ve raised it every time I’ve been here, about the ‘great power’ competition with China and Russia — but China in particular,” he told reporters…

Coronavirus Casualty: China’s Ambitious Belt and Road Plan Is Under Threat

by L. Todd Wood

The Year of the Rat bodes ill for China as the worst public health crisis in decades continues to develop in its backyard. The coronavirus—first discovered in Wuhan—has now infected forty thousand people and killed almost one thousand of them across nineteen countries. These numbers are rising exponentially and impacting the protests in Hong Kong, which are now fueled by the virus outbreak. Thus, this proves for Asian investors an age-old truth that it's never a good thing to put all your financial eggs in one basket. 

The financial flows coursing through Hong Kong, a former British colony, is a lifeline for Beijing and is now in jeopardy; the loss of that prestige comes with a sting.

China’s ambitious Belt and Road plan is under threat because of the epidemic. In fact, the coronavirus may be the worst blow to the precarious economies of China, to the Far East, and beyond. The virus is threatening to trigger a global recession, which is something that terrifies the Chinese leadership. The outbreak, which came amidst China’s Lunar New Year celebrations, known as the largest annual migration of humans in the world, has now shut down factories, schools, and government offices. Beijing is taking extreme steps to fight the epidemic.

The Emergence of a China-Backed Cryptocurrency in the Era of the Digital Yuan

by Hugh Harsono
Source Link

The People’s Republic of China’s Belt and Road Initiative has provided an interesting window into the economic practices of the PRC in developing nations. While the Belt and Road Initiative, often referred to as BRI, promises immense growth potential for those involved in its construction, it has also brought the PRC’s predatory lending practices, also termed debt-trap diplomacy, to light. These actions provide an excellent context to potential future PRC actions in the cryptocurrency market, particularly given the increasing potentiality of a PRC-backed cryptocurrency.

The rise of PRC-backed debt-trap diplomacy

Debt-trap diplomacy can most clearly be seen in the example of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port. The Sri Lankan government eagerly took on multiple loans in the hundreds of millions of dollars from PRC-backed banks to fund the development of the Hambantota Port starting in 2007. However, the increasing amounts of debt and rising project costs surrounding the fledgling port caused Sri Lankan officials to accept an agreement for a PRC State-Owned Enterprise to take a dominant equity share in the Hambantota Port. These actions eventually culminated in the Sri Lankan government handing the port and fifteen thousand acres of land around it to the PRC for 99 years in 2015. Similar examples of debt-trap diplomacy can be seen in other developing countries throughout the world, to include Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and even South America.

Earth just had hottest January since records began, data shows

Oliver Milman

Last month was the hottest January on record over the world’s land and ocean surfaces, with average temperatures exceeding anything in the 141 years of data held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The record temperatures in January follow an exceptionally warm 2019, which has been ranked as the second hottest year for the planet’s surface since reliable measurements started. The past five years and the past decade are the hottest in 150 years of record-keeping, an indication of the gathering pace of the climate crisis.

According to Noaa, the average global land and ocean surface temperature last month was 2.5F (or 1.14C) above the 20th-century average. This measurement marginally surpassed the previous January record, set in 2016.

A pulse of unusual warmth was felt across much of Russia, Scandinavia and eastern Canada, where temperatures were an incredible 9F (5C) above average, or higher. The Swedish town of Örebro reached 10.3C, its hottest January temperature since 1858, while Boston experienced its hottest ever January day, at 23C (74F).

How the Arctic Caught Fire

Janet McCabe 

The World Meteorological Organization labeled summer 2019's arctic and boreal wildland fires "unprecedented." In the first episode of In This Climate, the interviewers explore with scientists and policy experts how and why this circumpolar fire season was so significant and what we can do moving forward.

Germany’s Unwelcome Leadership Gap

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What happens in Germany matters. Not only for the country but for Europe.

It’s not just because Germany is the European Union’s largest and most successful economy. It’s not just because Angela Merkel, as German Chancellor since 2005, had become a symbol of stability during the euro crisis, Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014, and the decision by Britain to quit the EU.

It’s because of how Germany has dealt with its past after World War II.

It is that past that on February 10, 2020, led to the resignation of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as leader of the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. As Merkel’s designated successor, the resignation of AKK, as she is known, is a triple blow.

It’s a blow to AKK’s own credibility as a leader, a blow to Merkel’s credibility in grooming her, and a blow to the CDU over how it deals with the ever-growing popularity of the far-right, anti-immigration, and anti-Semitic Alternative for Germany (AfD). Officially, the CDU has banned any cooperation with that party.

The Middle East Thinks America Is Going Crazy


When I landed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, last week, the United States was in the throes of a bruising debate about Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, and the Super Bowl halftime show. It was either the worst halftime show ever or the best, women were either shamed or empowered, and the kids were forever damaged. The next day, things got more serious with the absurd debacle that was the Iowa Democratic caucuses, whose winner could not be announced until the following Sunday due to “quality control” issues. Almost immediately, the conspiracy theorists kicked into high gear, ignoring the most obvious explanation for the problems Iowa Democrats encountered: incompetence.

On my second morning in the Emirates, I woke up to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address and all the fury that it produced over Rush Limbaugh’s Presidential Medal of Freedom—which surely debases the value of the honor for all past and future recipients—and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up the president’s speech. Before I got on the plane back to Washington, the Senate acquitted Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress. The lone Republican dissenter in the abuse of power charge, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, was promptly disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference because organizers could not assure his safety. Watching these events unfold in succession from 7,000 miles away rather from my usual perch inside the Beltway made America’s apparent crackup feel all the more real.

Irish unification is becoming likelier

For most of the century since Ireland gained independence from Britain, control of the country has alternated between two parties. On February 8th that duopoly was smashed apart, when Sinn Fein got the largest share of first-preference votes in the republic’s general election. The party, with links to the Irish Republican Army (ira), which bombed and shot its way through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, won with a left-wing platform that included promises to spend more on health and housing. Yet it did not hide its desire for something a lot more ambitious. “Our core political objective”, its manifesto read, “is to achieve Irish Unity and the referendum on Unity which is the means to secure this.”

Scottish independence has grabbed headlines since Brexit, but it is time to recognise the chances of a different secession from the United Kingdom. Sinn Fein’s success at the election is just the latest reason to think that a united Ireland within a decade or so is a real—and growing—possibility.

Understanding the Deterrent Impact of U.S. Overseas Forces

by Bryan Frederick

To what extent do steady-state overseas deployments of U.S. forces contribute to interstate deterrence? Do they make militarized disputes or outright wars launched by potential U.S. adversaries more or less likely?

If U.S. steady-state forward posture is inadequate to deter an international crisis, can rapid deployments of U.S. forces to the region prevent further escalation of the crisis? Can such crisis deployments secure better bargaining outcomes?

For both steady-state and crisis deterrence, do different types of forces produce different effects?

In the aftermath of Russian military aggression against Ukraine in 2014, and with increasing tensions in the U.S.-China strategic competition, the question of whether U.S. overseas military presence can enhance deterrence remains central. At the same time, U.S. overseas military commitments are increasingly coming under question at home, both among the public at large and among many foreign- and defense-policy elites.

RAND Report: Are Heavy Ground Combat Units Better Than Light Forces and Airstrikes?

By Todd South

In recent years, the Army has stationed more troops in Europe to balance against Russia and also increased temporary Pacific rotations, while the Marine Corps is throwing much of its weight into highly mobile, distributed units to counter China.

But which approach is more likely to keep either adversary in check?

A recently released RAND Corporation report has found that a combination of heavy ground forces and air defense in theater but not necessarily on the front lines, has had the best effect on deterring conflict.

Its authors looked at the main arguments around deploying forces – keeping most U.S. forces in the United States to deploy only as a last resort versus keeping large numbers permanently stationed in critical regions such as Europe and Asia…

'Mixed Reality' Goggles Will Give U.S. Army Soldiers Super Vision

By Kyle Mizokami

The U.S. Army, using Microsoft’s Hololens, has developed new goggles to help soldiers on the battlefield.

IVAS will put data in a soldier’s field of view, allowing wearers to maintain situational awareness while interacting with the system.
The system will eventually allow soldiers to fire their weapons without seeing the enemy.

The U.S. Army is planning to buy 40,000 pairs of 'mixed reality' goggles, enough to outfit nearly one in ten soldiers. The IVAS goggles, derived from Microsoft’s Hololens program, will allow soldiers to identify friendly and enemy forces and aim their weapons without directly seeing the enemy. Soldiers will be better informed and able to trade fire on the battlefield while benefiting from better cover and protection.

The Landscape of Economic Change: 1990-2018

The Nationwide View in 1990

The U.S. economy has undergone significant changes in the last 30 years. One of the most notable trends has been the decline in manufacturing employment. In 1990, about 17.7 million people in the United States were employed in manufacturing. The map on the right shows the makeup of employment on a state-level in 1990.

The Nationwide View in 2018

By 2018, the United States had shed 5 million manufacturing jobs across the country. The sector now employs 12.7 million Americans. Although manufacturing employment has risen since an all-time low in 2010, the overall makeup of the U.S. economy has changed. Manufacturing occupations now make up a smaller percentage of overall employment in states across the country.

Locating Production in 1990

The Top 200

This Gas Glut Feels Different

By now, everyone knows that the world is flush with natural gas. Commodities go through cycles, of course, and gas is no different—today’s oversupply is tomorrow’s undersupply, and up and down the roller coaster we go. But this glut feels different. For one, it is an unusual glut. There is too much gas in the market, plunging spot prices in North America, Europe, and Asia, but there is also record investment in new supply for liquefied natural gas (LNG). It is, in other words, a downward super cycle, where record oversupply is coinciding with record-level investment in new supply. What exactly is happening, and how might it play out?

The US Fears Huawei Because It Knows How Tempting Backdoors Are

After publicly pressuring its allies to ban Huawei equipment in their 5G networks, US officials are now publicly accusing the Chinese telecom giant of being able to spy on mobile data. The allegations, reported by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, represent the first specific concern the US has articulated about Huawei after months of conceptual arguments.

Sinn Fein Just Upended Ireland’s Status Quo. What Comes Next?

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“THE SHINNERS TAKE IT ALL” blared the front page of the Irish Daily Star on Monday, using a slang term for Sinn Fein supporters, as it became clear that a true electoral earthquake had hit Ireland. As exit polls showed Brexit was a nonissue compared to Ireland’s housing and health crises, voters turned on the establishment parties that have been leading them since the foundation of the state a century ago.

With a plurality of votes going to her party, Sinn Fein’s left-wing nationalist leader, Mary Lou McDonald, declared that Ireland is “no longer a two-party system.” It’s hard to argue with her. Every election since the 1922 founding of what is now called the Republic of Ireland has led to a victory for either of the country’s two large centrist parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Simply put, in the nearly 100 years since the island of Ireland was divided in two, something like this has never happened.

Other records were set, too. In what was meant to be his party’s post-Brexit victory lap, Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar watched as Sinn Fein topped the poll in his multiseat constituency of Dublin West. He eventually won his seat back after the fifth round of counting, but it’s the first time a sitting taoiseach has failed to win the most votes on his own turf.

Trump Policy Tactics that Target Foreigners Put America's Artificial Intelligence at Risk

by Sam Peak
Source Link

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), America is still on top. A major reason for that? America is quite good at recruiting AI students from around the world and retaining them after they graduate from school. But if certain plans proposed by the White House come to fruition, then that could all change very quickly.

America’s increasingly convoluted and unwelcoming immigration system has put the country’s front-runner status in jeopardy, according to a landmark report from Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Technology (CSET). And, if the Trump administration moves forward with its plan to rescind the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, then America’s. leadership position in AI will become even more vulnerable. 

Rescinding OPT, which allows thousands of international students to work in the United States after graduation, notably undermines President Donald Trump’s own plan to protect America’s AI advantage. More than two hundred thousand people are brought into the American workforce each year through the OPT program. Roughly two-thirds of them hold the sorely-needed advanced graduate and Ph.D. degrees that AI relies on. 

The Triangle in the Long Game

Fidel Sendagorta

The author thanks the whole team of the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship Program for their constant support during my year-long fellowship at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Nick Burns, Faculty Chair; Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, Executive Director; Karl Kaiser, Senior Associate; Alison Hillegeist, Assistant Director; Erika Manouselis, Project Coordinator; and Elsa Kudzi, Junior Program Associate.

Attending the regular Belfer Center Director and Board events was always enlightening and valuable and I thank its Director Ash Carter and its Co-Director Eric Rosenbach for their invitation to participate in them.

I am grateful to Victor Pérez García who, as the Research Assistant of this paper, provided useful and timely documentation throughout its preparations.

The paper also benefited greatly from the insights and comments of many Harvard Kennedy School Professors and Fellows and particularly the following: Graham Allison, Philippe Le Corre, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Joseph Nye, John Park, Tony Saich, Ezra Vogel, Arne Westad and Stephen Walt. The author is grateful to all of them but accepts full responsibility for the contents of the paper.

Seizing the Golden Hour

by James Dobbins

Research Questions

What is the evidence for the existence of golden hours? Assuming they exist, what are the key factors that cause them?

What has been the American experience with missions conducted during the golden hour, and how has this experience been shaped by steps taken in the early weeks and months of such missions?

What tasks are essential in the earliest weeks and months of an intervention to take advantage of golden hours to stabilize host nations?

How should the United States organize itself to seize golden hours?

What military capabilities and capacities does the United States require to take advantage of golden hours?

Seizing the Golden Hour: Tasks, Organization, and Capabilities Required for the Earliest Phase of Stability Operations

by James Dobbins

This report analyzes the golden hour—the early phase of a postconflict stability operation—and the actions, organization, and capabilities necessary to seize it and set the conflict-affected country on a path to self-sustaining peace. The report combines a review of the literature in this field and a brief examination of key cases of U.S.-led stability operations. The authors find evidence that the early phases of postconflict operations are, in fact, critical for improving the odds of success and reducing the eventual costs of achieving an acceptable outcome. Both diplomatic and military actions to provide security in the postconflict country, as well as efforts to broker a broad-based coalition in support of the new political order, are essential. The United States must work to improve civil-military coordination in these early phases. There are also several relatively small investments the United States could make now, in a period of relative peace, to prepare for future contingencies so that it will be prepared to seize golden hours when they arise…

Inside Mark Zuckerberg's Lost Notebook

I first met Mark Zuckerberg in March 2006. At the time, I was the lead tech writer at Newsweek and was working on a story about what we were calling Web 2.0—the notion that the next stage of the internet would be a joyful, participatory creation of individuals. I'd heard about a social networking startup that was spreading like kudzu on college campuses. I wanted to learn more about it, perhaps give it a name-check in the story. Luckily, Zuckerberg, its cofounder and CEO, was scheduled to appear that month at PC Forum, a conference I regularly attended, at a resort in Carlsbad, California.

We agreed to meet at the lunch hour on the conference grounds. We sat side by side at one of the big, crowded, round tables set up on a lawn under the bright sun. He was accompanied by Matt Cohler, who had left LinkedIn to join Facebook. Cohler, unable to nab a seat next to us, sat across the table, barely within ear range.