24 November 2020

Takshashila Discussion SlideDoc – A Strategy to make India a Biotech Leader by 2025


The biotechnology and healthcare sectors will underpin India’s effort to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, revive the economy and maintain long-term economic competitiveness. However, key internal challenges including regulatory opacity, supply chain friction, and shortage of quality talent need to be addressed.

This document analyses the biotechnology and healthcare sectors in India and identifies opportunities created by COVID-19 pandemic and independent of it. We recommend making strategic public investments for increasing research, future pandemic preparation and talent creation. We also propose the formation of a single life-sciences ministry to increase regulatory efficiency and a safe clinical trials framework to allow medical advancement. We further suggest sector-specific financial and regulatory changes in the fields of Bioagriculture, Bioindustry, Bioservices, Biopharma and Bioinformatics

Failed Reporting and Analysis of the Afghan Peace Process

Anthony H. Cordesman

There is no Pulitzer Prize for the worst media reporting of the year, but then again, there is no prize for the least transparent reporting by a government or a prize for the most serious analytic failure by a think tank. If such prizes were to exist, however, all three prizes should be awarded to virtually every source in each category that has attempted to cover the Afghan peace process. All have failed to provide the coverage and analysis needed to address the present security situation in Afghanistan, the progress in the Afghan peace process to date, and the real world prospects for some kind of meaningful approach to either peace or security.
No Truth and No Transparency from the U.S. Government

It is hard to find any U.S. government statement since the signing of the February peace accords that defines what a successful peace would be; what role – if any – the U.S. would play in funding, supporting and guaranteeing a peace; and what the U.S. will do if no agreement is actually reached. For the last four years, the U.S. has also systematically ceased to report and/or has classified metrics and data that show negative trends in the war or expose the ineffectiveness of military and civil aid. The U.S. has tried to substitute seemingly reassuring – but actually nearly meaningless – metrics but has failed. And since February, it has replaced the natural “fog of war” with an unnatural “fog of peace.”

How Biden Could Clean Up a Mess in Afghanistan That Predates Trump

Candace Rondeaux

If American policy in Afghanistan was a Hollywood thriller, acting Pentagon chief Christopher Miller’s announcement Tuesday that President Donald Trump plans to reduce the number of American troops in the country from 4,500 to 2,500 by the time he leaves office in January might have made for a riveting plot twist. The trouble for White House script writers is that we’ve all seen this movie before, and it never seems to end with a better outcome for the Afghan people. The one hidden benefit of Trump’s drawdown announcement is that it could free up Joe Biden to write an alternative ending for U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

The question of American troop levels in Afghanistan has been a policy bugbear for three successive administrations in Washington. During George W. Bush’s two terms, American troop levels started out at about 1,300 after 9/11, and then progressively ticked up to 25,000 by the time Bush handed the reins to Barack Obama. Although he ran as anti-war candidate, Obama famously capitulated to Pentagon pressure for a huge “surge” in Afghanistan that saw troop levels hit about 100,000 in 2010. In the long deliberations over the surge, Obama overruled his vice president’s push to keep the American military footprint small and limit the U.S. mission to counterterrorism operations. ..

Chinese Security Engagement in Latin America

Evan Ellis

Military engagement is an important and officially acknowledged part of the growing interactions between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Latin America and the Caribbean. The 2008 and 2016 Chinese policy white papers toward Latin America, as well as the 2015 China Defense Strategy White Paper, all define military and other security activities as an important, if not necessarily leading, component of China’s overall engagement with the region.

PRC economic activities in Latin America arguably eclipse military activities, both in terms of the resources and people involved and in terms of the attention given through official government discourse and interaction. This economic focus, along with Chinese leaders’ general avoidance of threatening rhetoric or provocative military actions in Latin America, should not distract from the fact that security sector activities are an integral part of China’s multidimensional engagement in pursuit of its strategic objectives—both in the region and globally.

The PRC’s core objective—as expressed in its own leadership statements, such as President Xi’s “China Dream” speech, and in policy documents such as “Made in China 2025”—is arguably the creation of a prosperous and secure state. In economic terms, achieving this objective involves building a strong and diverse economy, complemented by a robust commercial relationship with the rest of the world.

The Coming NEV War? Implications of China’s Advances in Electric Vehicles

Scott Kennedy

The Issue
China’s economy appears to have sprung back to normal. While the overall growth numbers have recovered and China has put forth an ambitious economic agenda for the next five years, optimism has also returned to the new-energy vehicles (NEV) sector, a good metric for the new economy. At the Beijing Auto Show, held in late September, automakers unveiled a dizzying 785 new models, 160 of which were electrified. There is growing speculation that China’s NEV sector is ready to burst onto the global stage and become an export powerhouse. But despite the glitzy new models, incremental progress on several fronts, and initial signs of expanding business abroad, China’s NEV sector still faces substantial roadblocks. Some are the result of continuing economic troubles, while others paradoxically are a result of gradual success. Consequently, the new wave of enthusiasm is a bit premature.
The Shiny Exterior

China has staked much of its transportation future on the new-energy vehicle sector. Massive state support is meant to drive this industry forward and help the country address three problems: reliance on the West for technology, dependence on oil imports, and air pollution. Yet progress in achieving these goals has been halting, slowed by technical challenges, investment by too many players, and insufficient consumer enthusiasm. This update of CSIS’s work from 2018 and 2019 focuses on the first challenge, industrial competitiveness.

U.S. Hostility With Iran Only Serves Hardliners on Both Sides


In the aftermath of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, U.S. and European think tanks and pundits are flooding the internet with papers about how to fix this or that aspect of U.S. foreign policy after four years of President Donald Trump.

The Atlantic Council and the European Leadership Network, with an assist from the top Iran hand at the European Council on Foreign Relations, just put out a roadmap for Europe to act as a bridge between Iran and the incoming Biden team. The recommendations seek to salvage the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—by returning the United States and Iran to compliance, promoting regional conflict resolution, and reviving people-to-people engagement.

In the longer run, however, U.S.-Iranian relations need a more radical rethink. For about 40 years, they’ve been going in circles, with occasional flickers of détente interrupting longer periods of economic warfare, cyber-attacks, and loss of life from direct and indirect military confrontation. Just last week, Trump reportedly asked for options to bomb Iranian nuclear sites—a reckless escalation that even Mike Pompeo, his hawkish secretary of state, is said to have opposed. The mutual hostility serves hardliners on both sides—and the arms dealers that cater to their respective regional partners—but also hurts U.S. national interests and, most especially, the Iranian people. It also hobbles Iran’s ties with European and Asian democracies.

The US State Department China Policy Paper: Hits and Misses

By Andy Zelleke

The Trump administration’s latest policy statement on China disappoints on prescription, but is a mostly thoughtful step forward on problem diagnosis. It’s also slightly baffling. Authored by the State Department’s Policy Planning staff, “The Elements of the China Challenge” surfaced two weeks after President Donald Trump’s failed bid for re-election.

Despite concerns about a still more hawkish turn intended to constrain the incoming Biden administration, this paper strikes a less uniformly disparaging tone on China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) than previous Trump administration policy statements have done. Bureaucratically, that may seem unsurprising as a State Department rather than White House work product. Then again, this is Mike Pompeo’s State Department, which preserves little daylight between the secretary and the president.

Bureaucratic mysteries aside, what follows are a few observations on the document’s substantive hits and misses.

How Biden can help revive Eastern Europe


President-elect Joe Biden is committed to restoring trans-Atlantic relations because a more united alliance can better handle a plethora of global problems. One of his biggest challenges will be in Eastern Europe, a region that is vital for the continent’s security but faces both internal and external assaults on sovereignty and democracy. This extensive region is not monolithic but includes consolidated democracies, states where democratic norms are under threat, countries with disputed borders, states whose governments are subject to Russian capture and countries whose territories are occupied by Russian forces. An effective U.S. strategy must focus on strengthening national sovereignty and regional security without alienating any ally or partner.

In states where democratic norms are endangered, as in Poland and Hungary, the U.S. administration needs to encourage pluralism and the separation of powers but not to ostracize freely elected governments and potentially weaken NATO. Poland in particular has a strong tradition of resisting autocracy and has become a front line defender of NATO against Russia’s revisionism. The White House may also need to explain America’s own democracy deficits, including partisan based Supreme Court selections, the rejection of the simple majority principle in electing presidents and the problematic transition between administrations.

Everything We Know About The United Kingdom's Big New Defense Spending Plan


The U.K. government has announced plans for a major increase in defense spending, adding a projected total of nearly $22 billion to the budget over the next four years. Details about the complete plan are still emerging, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the U.K. Ministry of Defense have said that the additional funding will help support the acquisition of a new class of warships, known as the Type 32, and the development of the Tempest stealth fighter, as well as the creation of a new dedicated Space Command and National Cyber Force, among other lines of effort. 

Prime Minister Johnson made an initial statement to the U.K. Parliament's House of Commons regarding the defense spending plan on Nov. 19, 2020, and the U.K. Ministry of Defense issued its own statement on the same day. It's worth noting that this additional funding is on top of a previous commitment to add $2 billion more to the country's defense budget, with the combined planned increase being approximately $24.1 billion through 2024. The United Kingdom's total defense spending across this period is expected to be just under $253.3 billion. This will also keep the United Kingdom well above the defense spending target set out for members of the NATO alliance, which is two percent of a country's gross domestic product. 

What does the Nagorno-Karabakh deal mean for Turkey and Russia?

Dimitar Bechev

On November 11, Russian troops took over the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia with the breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Their deployment was the first step in implementing a peace deal reached by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia two days prior.

Under its terms, Moscow agreed to send a 2,000-strong peacekeeping contingent and set up 16 observation points around Nagorno-Karabakh. The deal also confirmed Azerbaijan’s recovery of seven districts around the region, including Shusha (or Shushi in Armenian), its historic capital, following six weeks of fighting with Armenia and the self-proclaimed republic of Artsakh.

Though the agreement is a crown achievement for President Ilham Aliyev, Russia has also made significant gains. Nagorno-Karabakh was the sole “frozen conflict” in the post-Soviet space with no Russian “boots on the ground”. That gave local parties, Yerevan and Baku, greater room for manoeuvre. Azerbaijan was also the only country in the Southern Caucasus without Russian military presence on its soil. This has now changed.

Perspectives | Did Russia win the Karabakh war?

Laurence Broers

With its dramatic brokering of a ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the deployment of peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh within hours to enforce it, Russia has appeared to pull off a spectacular geopolitical coup.

Moscow added Azerbaijan to the list of states where it has boots on the ground in the South Caucasus, shut out the West, put Turkey in its place and made plain that it remains the dominant power in the South Caucasus.

Throughout the six-week war, Russia’s relative restraint had been the subject of avid speculation. Now, with its decisive intervention in brokering and enforcing the agreement cementing its authority in the region, what can we glean about its motives and ambitions for its newfound clout?

Was Moscow really playing a long game all along, circling while the belligerents weakened each other sufficiently for it to swoop in and impose a new regional order? Or was Russia caught unprepared by Turkey’s forceful entry into its backyard and left struggling to define red lines in a conflict that was itself second-tier in Russian strategic thinking but tied to many other, more vital, interests?

Putin Orders a New Nuclear-Proof Command Center

By: Roger McDermott

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the creation of a new nuclear-strike-proof command-and-control (C2) center for the country’s nuclear forces. On November 13, he signed a decree (ukaz) on the implementation of the national defense plan for 2021–2025 (Pravo.gov.ru, November 13). Reportedly, a key element in this planning process is the construction of a nuclear command center. As one commentary in Izvestia noted, its importance cannot be underestimated, as the ability of the Armed Forces to respond to strategic-level threats depends on such systems (Izvestia, November 13). Putin’s initiative, however, seems tied to the ongoing uncertainties around the nuclear arms control regime. Notably, the last major nuclear weapons limitation treaty between Russia and the United States, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), is scheduled to phase out in February 2021, unless both sides agree to extend it. The planned nuclear forces C2 center is thus meant to position Moscow for future talks with the incoming US administration in addition to the natural role it will play in Russia’s ongoing military modernization efforts.

The presidential signing of a defense planning ukaz normally receives scant media attention. However, with almost all of this particular decree’s details hidden from public view, the conspicuous emphasis on a nuclear command center was evidently meant to send a signal to Washington to accept a nuclear arms control deal now because Moscow would be negotiating from a significantly stronger security position in any future agreements.

Beyond Disinformation: Seeing Russia Holistically

By Giselle Donnelly & John G. Ferrari

This election, like the one before it, was being held under a cloud of suspicion. From every corner, shadowy, nefarious actors spread disinformation and outright lies not just to help or hurt individual candidates but to make us doubt the legitimacy of our democratic process. Americans are particularly anxious about Russia and Vladimir Putin. While the ex-KGB officer plays the part of a James Bond villain with panache, part of his dezinformatsia (which translates into disinformation and information warfare) campaign is to divert our eyes from his true intention. The reason that Russia and others attempt to meddle in our politics, to sow partisan and ideological division, is to reduce our power. To decisively deal with this problem, we must not simply defeat the means of influence but deny them the end they seek.

In addition to meddling in our internal politics, Russia is active on many fronts. Russia’s affinity for “grey zone” operations or, as the Soviets used to call it, “political warfare,” is simply part of their overall military doctrine, intended not as a separate effort but one to be integrated with conventional and even nuclear forces. Thus, the fact that the “Kremlin has conducted military exercises in fall 2020 on an unprecedented scale … [with] a pattern of modifying pre-announced activities significantly but presenting them as normal and unchanged" shows us the larger mass of the Russian iceberg, the parts we are not seeing. Russians have more tools than just computer hackers and trolls, and their disinformation campaigns are not restricted to American politics but aimed at the West more broadly.

How Xi Jinping Blew It


Like Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Adolf Hitler or George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Chinese President Xi Jinping has just had an epic foreign-policy failure—he just doesn’t appear to have realized it yet.

Through four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, Xi had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to significantly, and perhaps permanently, expand Chinese influence around the world at America’s expense. By angering friend and foe alike, withdrawing from global institutions and agreements, and failing to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Trump left the world ripe for a new leader to step into Washington’s worn shoes. Some were convinced this was China’s moment. “Sadly, the art of diplomacy has been lost in Washington D.C.,” the former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani wrote earlier this year. “This has created a massive opening that China has taken full advantage of, on its way to victory over the post COVID-19 world.”

A Missing Piece in Japan’s Cyber Defense

By Eugenio Benincasa

Cyber defense in Japan is becoming more and more important due to increasingly frequent and sophisticated threats from China, North Korea, and Russia. Japan’s “exclusively defense-oriented” national security policy forbids the use of force or even the threat of force as a political instrument, imposing limits on its ability to respond effectively to cyber threats. While neighboring states have been building up both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, Japan has focused almost exclusively on defensive ones.

Japan’s efforts on cyber defense have been developing rapidly since 2015, driven by the former Abe administration’s redefinition of Japan’s defense policy in cyberspace and the vision of an interconnected society. In addition, a more militarized response to state-sponsored threats started to emerge following the adoption of the 2018 defense strategy. Japan’s Defense Ministry aims to increase defense unit personnel and to create a new joint cyber unit – with limited offensive capabilities – by 2023, responsible for protecting Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) networks.

Is Silicon Valley Finished?

by James Pethokoukis

California is “America on fast forward,” according to sociologist Manuel Pastor. As he sees it, many of today’s biggest challenges — from climate change to inequality — arrived in the Golden State first. And thus it’s America’s most populous state that’s leading the way in dealing with them. One would imagine that many Californians like to think about their state in such aspirational terms. All the Californians leaving the state — a net 100,000 departures every year since 2015 — probably less so.

Venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale also has had enough of what’s become of the California Dream. “The harsh truth is that California has fallen into disrepair,” the native Californian writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Bad policies discourage business and innovation, stifle opportunity and make life in major cities ugly and unpleasant. … We’re betting that the future of America is going to be built in the middle of the country, in places with good government and a reasonable cost of living. In other words, places like Texas.”

Making finance cybersecure to ensure an inclusive recovery

Tim Maurer, Arthur Nelson, Sean Doyle

Cyber incidents could derail innovations that support the post-COVID economic recovery.

Malicious actors are taking advantage of the rapid digital transformation across the global financial system.

Central banks, financial regulators and the private sector should work together to assign clearer lines of responsibility for protection of the financial system.

A public-private partnership led by the Carnegie Endowment, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, has developed a blueprint for an international strategy to better protect the global financial system against cyber threats.

When did you last pay for your coffee with cash instead of contactless? Have you stepped into a bank branch in the past six months or, like many, done all your banking while sitting at your laptop? The coronavirus pandemic has changed our habits, perhaps permanently, and accelerated digital transformation across the global financial system.

UK's National Cyber Force comes out of the shadows

By Gordon Corera

The National Cyber Force's existence has been publicly confirmed after months of speculation and a decade after the UK first began offensive cyber-operations.

It will counter threats from terrorists, criminals and hostile states.

MI6 officers will work alongside both the cyber-spy agency GCHQ and the military as part of a new unified command.

It has been up and running since April.

But it was only formally made public by the prime minister on Thursday.

The aim is that when UK armed forces go into combat, cyber-operations will be closely integrated with the traditional military.

Factbox: What is Britain's National Cyber Force?

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain on Thursday announced the formation of a National Cyber Force of government hackers to launch cyberattacks against criminals, terrorists and hostile states.

It is part of a pledge by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver the country’s biggest military spending increase since the Cold War.

The hacking unit, which has been operational since earlier this year, is made up of specialists from Britain’s armed forces and GCHQ signals intelligence agency.

The National Cyber Force “brings together intelligence and defence capabilities to transform the UK’s ability to contest adversaries in cyber space”, said GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming.

Officials declined to discuss specific targets or operations, but said the unit’s work could include disrupting terrorist communication networks, taking down organised crime groups and disabling enemy weapons systems.

How Dangerous is China's Short-Range Missile Defense System?

by Mark Episkopos

Here's What You Need To Remember: The FM-2000 looks very similar to Russia's Tor system, but, in fact, was based on a different Chinese system, the HQ-17. 

The 2018 Zhuhai Airshow, held from November 6-11, was headlined by China’s latest demonstrations of its flagship J-10B and J-20 jet fighters. But throughout the show, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) displayed scores of military gear ranging from self-propelled howitzers to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Analyzing the PLA’s extensive ground forces lineup at the 2018 Airshow gives us a better indication of where the Chinese military is focusing its development resources, and can even shed some insight into the PLA’s strategic priorities.

One such bellwether is the FM-2000, a short-range air defense system (SHORAD) unveiled at the Zhuhai Airshow. The FM-2000 is intended to support ground forces or defend infrastructure at a maximum effective range of up to 15 km and at altitudes of up to 1,000 miles.

Swarms of Glory

By Jacob Parakilas

Swarming has been the future of war for decades, but it has not always been the same future. In the early 2000s, military futurists in the United States were thinking about swarming tactics with reference to a potential Iranian strategy of overwhelming qualitatively superior but expensive and rare U.S. Navy vessels in the crowded waters of the Persian Gulf; the use of overwhelming numbers of anti-ship cruise missiles and suicide speedboats was a key element in the controversial and endlessly-studied Millennium Challenge wargame in 2002.

Since then, the rapid growth in capability of computer and sensor systems has changed what a “swarm” could be. Now, swarming mostly refers to the potential for a massed force of relatively simple, cheap robots which could overwhelm traditional defenses by sheer numbers and strike numerous targets precisely and rapidly.

There are, of course, complications. Building robots smart enough to navigate and avoid colliding with each other autonomously, share data with each other, and respond to changing circumstances while resisting jamming and carrying out a mission is hard enough – let alone the challenges of making those machines cheap and durable enough to compare favorably with conventional weapons systems. In other words, the fact that drone swarms have not yet been deployed operationally is not hugely surprising, though developments in China and the U.S. suggest that those obstacles are being rapidly overcome

How the US Space Force Doctrine Paves the Way for Future Warfighting

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The U.S. Space Force, established in December 2019 as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces under the Department of the Air Force, unveiled its first capstone doctrine, entitled “Spacepower,” in August 2020. Building on previous doctrinal publications such as Joint Publication 3-14 and coming only weeks after the Pentagon released its Defense Space Strategy, the new document for the first time defines space as a separate warfighting domain rather than an enabling domain for military operations in the air, land, sea, and cyberspace.

The U.S. Space Force is expected to eventually consist of 16,000 uniformed and civilian personnel. The service’s budget proposal for 2021 is $15.4 billion with an annual increase of $600 million over the next five years. Out of the total, over $10 billion will go into research, development, testing, and evaluation of space systems including funding for new missile warning satellites; $2.4 billion for procurement; and around $2.6 billion for ongoing space operations and training. To date, the force consists of over 2,400 active duty troops (and is about to get its first astronaut), although it reportedly has already 10 units stationed outside the continental United States. In September the service for the first time deployed to the Middle East.

The story of the first special-ops mission deep inside Afghanistan just weeks after 9/11, from troops who were there


In mid-October 2001, just a few weeks after the September 11 attacks, US special-operations forces went deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan.

But the operation — conducted by Delta Force, Army Rangers, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment — didn't go without complexities, danger, and its fair share of controversy.

On October 19, 2001, only a few weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, American commandos struck back in Afghanistan.

A task force composed of Delta Force operators, Rangers, and Night Stalkers conducted two simultaneous raids deep inside the territory of the Taliban, which had hosted Al Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the attacks.For Objective Rhino, two Ranger companies assaulted an airfield, conducting their first combat jump since the invasion of Panama in 1989. Their goal was to destroy any Taliban or Al Qaeda forces and set up an aircraft refueling point.

Cyber Weapons For The Infantry

Vikram Mittal

Quite simply, future wars will be decided through battles in the cyber domain. This forecast was best illustrated in the 1996 film Independence Day, where a war between humans and aliens ended with a cyber-attack on the alien systems. However, a forgettable scene earlier in the film depicted a potentially more powerful cyber weapon. In this overlooked scene, Jeff Goldblum uses his ex-wife’s cellphone signal to determine her position in the White House.

The importance of this cyber weapon stems from another aspect of future wars – they will always require ground forces to find and destroy their adversaries in close combat. As such, cyber technology will soon enter into the arsenal of weapons available to conventional soldiers. The signal triangulation capability depicted in Independence Day has the potential to provide soldiers a much-needed tactical edge in combat.

Signal triangulation will allow soldiers to detect their enemies more rapidly, which is critical in ground combat. The rules of ground combat are rather simple. A soldier wins if they shoot the enemy before being shot. And whichever side detects their adversary first, gets to shoot first.

Army Maneuver Officials Want to Buy Ammo Resupply Drones and Give them to BCTs

By Matthew Cox

Army maneuver officials are testing quadcopter drones capable of carrying ammunition, water and other supplies into battle, a "promising" concept that could eliminate the danger of resupplying infantry units in the middle of a gunfight.

"Normally, you would bring the supplies up once you reach some sort of termination, reorganization and consolidation in the fight," Ed Davis, director of the Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, Georgia, told Military.com. "What this does is allow you to bring emergency supplies forward while you are still in the fight because it's unmanned."

The battle lab kicked off Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) 2021, during which it plans to refine tactical resupply using improved variants of commercial drones that participated in last year's experiment, he said.