27 April 2017

*** The Naxal attack in Sukma is proof the CRPF has not learnt the lessons of the past

Ajai Sahni

A candle light vigil to pray for CRPF jawans who lost their lives in a Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, in Patna. (PTI)

While sufficient details of the April 24 attack in Sukma that has resulted in the loss of the lives of at least 25 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel are not yet available to make any definitive assessment of the circumstances that led to this latest debacle, there is no doubt that a sequence of negligence and neglect of the basic lessons of the past, as well as, possibly, established standard operating procedures (SOPs), will have afflicted the deployment and actions of this unit, as was found to be the case in the March 11 incident in which 12 CRPF jawans were killed in the same district. In both incidents, the target units were deployed to protect road building parties, and were following a predictable routine in an area of significant and enduring vulnerability. 

*** In the Age of Nationalism, the World Takes a Back Seat

By Ambika Vishwanath

Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.

Editor's Note:

The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's board of contributors, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought. Their opinions are their own and serve to complement and even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.

Last month, India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, voted the nation's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power. The party then selected a deeply divisive figure from within its ranks to serve as Uttar Pradesh's chief: Yogi Adityanath, at best a Hindu fundamentalist and at worst a politician capable of splitting his state and country along religious lines. The appointment doesn't bode well for a nation with a long and bloody history of religious violence. But in some ways, it's also hardly surprising.

*** Has AQAP Traded Terrorism for Protection?

By Scott Stewart

As I've often said before, some of the most interesting stories to come across my desk are those from abroad that the U.S. mainstream media has failed to pick up. A recent article by Norwegian news outlet Verdens Gang (VG) only reminded me of that fact when it reported it had been in contact with an unidentified member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The piece, written by Erlend Ofte Arntsen, raised some interesting points — not least of which was the suggestion that the Yemeni al Qaeda franchise has set aside its mission of conducting attacks in the West.

** Cyber Warfare Beyond Domains


In 2010, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III made a pivotal decision for the future of cyberspace and the U.S. military: He saw to it that the U.S. Department of Defense declared cyberspace a “domain” of warfare.

This decision created the organizational impetus for the DoD to organize and equip forces to defend and attack from cyberspace. Lynn anticipated that the future of warfare would be determined by competitions for information and that without the ability to organize for missions in cyberspace, the DoD would be unable to ensure the digital freedom it needed to win modern wars. Since that time, the DoD has not only developed an overarching Cyber Strategy and stood up an entire Cyber Command with more than 6,000 personnel, and has also brought to initial operating capability 133 teams for its Cyber Mission Force. Under the auspices of the cyberspace domain, the DoD has made huge strides to defeat and deter adversaries in cyberspace.

A First: India Successfully Tests BrahMos Supersonic Land-Attack Cruise Missile

By Ankit Panda

On Friday, the Indian Navy successfully carried out the first-ever test of a supersonic land-attack cruise missile (LACM). A “land attack version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was fired for the first time from an Indian Navy’s stealth frigate, off the eastern coast, at a land target,” an unnamed Indian Ministry of Defense source noted. To date, the only variants of the BrahMos tested by the Indian Navy were the anti-ship variants.

The Indian Navy released a video of the launch that shows the missile’s successful vertical launch ejection from the INS Teg, a Talwar-class stealth frigate, successful directional engine engagement, and, ultimately, successful boost and horizontal flight.

“The land-attack variant of BrahMos provides Indian warships the capability to precisely neutralize selected targets deep inland, far away from the coast, from stand-off ranges at sea,” an Indian Navy source told the Times of India. “The maiden firing significantly enhances the Navy’s prowess and places India in the club of a select few nations to have this capability. Majority of our frontline warships, like the Kolkata-class of destroyers and Teg-class of stealth frigates, are capable of firing this missile,” he added.

Somalia’s Pirates Are Back in Business


NAIROBI — After being all but stamped out by international naval forces following its late-2000s heyday, piracy has made a sudden return to the Horn of Africa. In the past month, there have been six suspected piracy incidents near Somalia, five of them successful, including three in the last week. That’s compared with zero successful attacks in 2016.

Three more murky maritime incidents off the coast of Somalia’s Galmudug state, where suspected illegal fishing vessels paid “fines” that may in fact have been ransoms, suggest that piracy has rebounded on a scale even larger than previously reported.

Unmasking the Unmaskers

What Susan Rice did used to be unusual, but it was encouraged by years of expanding access to signals intelligence.

“Now it’s in the original home of piracy, in an area they thought they cleaned up,” said John Steed, a senior maritime expert at the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime. “It’s very disappointing.”

The spike in banditry on the high seas off the Horn is a blow to the decades-long battle to stem piracy there, and bad news for the international shipping industry, which transports $700 billion worth of cargo through the dangerous corridor each year. It’s also a stark reminder that one of the main drivers of piracy, rampant illegal fishing that depletes local fish stocks and drives some fishermen to take up arms, remains as big a problem as ever.

Appoint GOC-in-C/Corps Commanders on basis of merit, not ‘residual service’: MoD panel

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina

The panel observed that litigation is pending before various benches of the Armed Forces Tribunal related to the non-grant of promotion/pay benefits to senior officers of the Army due to lack of residual service as per rules in vogue.

A panel on military reforms has recommended to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to review the current policy of appointing Army Commanders (GOC-in-C) and Corps Commanders on the basis of their ‘residual service’ in the Army which depends more upon the matter of chance and “fortuitous condition of the date of birth” instead of merit and capability.

The panel has asked the government to consider the feasibility of examining the issue in depth where a deserving officer misses the chance to command a Corps or an become the GOC-in-C of a command just because he falls short of the number of years of service that is left with him before retirement.

Is It Time for America and Afghanistan to Part Ways?

Daniel R. DePetris

It is unlikely that Trump will withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but he should reevaluate America's role in the country.

The war in Afghanistan has been going on for such a long period of time that it’s almost become a ritual for a new administration to take a bottom-up, comprehensive look at America’s war strategy during its first two months on the job. The movie has been repetitively played over the last decade and a half: the generals running the war are ordered by the new president and his national security adviser to assess whether the plan is working; the generals conduct the review, which usually concludes with the commanders requesting more U.S. troops on the ground; and the administration (with varying degrees of resistance) eventually provides the commanders the authority and resources that they have forwarded to the White House. President Obama was a bit of anomaly in this regard. He did, after all, set a timeline for troop withdrawals that the Pentagon wasn’t especially pleased about. But even Obama authorized nearly fifty thousand additional American troops into the conflict during his first year in office.

Pakistan and the Panama Papers Verdict

The long awaited Panama Papers verdict on 20 April, 2017, by the five-judge bench of Pakistan's Supreme Court has stopped short of disqualifying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and given him a temporary reprieve by ordering investigation by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of officials, including those from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), within 60 days, under Court supervision.

The 3-2 split verdict suggests that while there may have been enough substance to justify that Sharif may not have been either `sadiq’ (honest) or `ameen’ (trustworthy), thus meriting disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of their Constitution, this power could not be exercised by the Supreme Court in its `original jurisdiction’ powers under Art 184(3), as it did not relate to a question of public importance related to a Fundamental Right. It purports though, that there were enough grounds to believe that the prime minister and his family members had obfuscated the money trail about the off-shore accounts and especially, the transaction pertaining to purchase of the Mayfair flats in London. 

The JIT has been tasked to work on a `thirteen point’ list of items pertaining to the money trail covering the setting up of the Gulf Steel Mill in Dubai; subsequent sales in Saudi Arabia and Qatar; and details of purchase transactions of the Mayfair flats. The judgment virtually dismisses the veracity of the Qatari Sheikh, Jabbar al Thani’s bailout letters about the money transactions. It also opens up the possibilities of re-opening of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering investigations of the early 1990s by either the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) or the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The role of NAB Chief Qamar Zaman in not challenging the September 2014 Lahore High Court verdict exonerating the Sharifs in the Hudaibiya case has been castigated. The JIT’s would now be `a criminal investigation’, which would have to be placed before a fresh bench of the Supreme Court to finally decide on the matter.

Kabul and the Challenge of Dwindling Foreign Aid

This report offers a comprehensive look at the capital city of Kabul and its unique role in Afghanistan’s transition away from more than a decade of foreign occupation and violence. Social tensions are simmering just under the surface in the capital, even more so than in other Afghan cities, and have the potential to foment serious unrest. Yet, if there is a place in the country that offers the potential for mobilization, technical and intellectual capacity, communication, and acceptance by the rest of the country, it is Kabul. 


Afghanistan’s capital city is a natural focal point for the country’s transition away from more than a decade of foreign occupation. 

Kabul’s economy is foundering. Developing new policies to stimulate investment and reorient production and trade on a more sustainable basis is critical. 

Economic competition over scanty resources has the potential to foment serious unrest in a city already simmering with tensions. Better urban planning and management would help allay tensions. 

Distribution of public services has conspicuous room for improvement. Receipt depends on location but is uncertain: poor households receive the least, health care is inferior, electricity is unreliable, waste collection is a shambles, and water is available but controlled by private parties. 

The Real Risk of US Military Force Against North Korea

By Daniel Amick

Escalating tension between the United States and North Korea has prompted fevered public focus on the possibility of war — even nuclear war — on the Korean Peninsula. The risk is real, and observers are right to emphasize it. Amid the debate, however, another potential scenario remains underexplored: That American use of military force against North Korea might not change much at all. This troubling possibility is not as unlikely as it may seem and would damage U.S. influence in East Asia and around the world. Washington would find itself back where it started, but with a less credible military threat to drive North Korea and other rogue states to the negotiating table.

Washington’s recent posturing aims to force North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to decide once and for all whether his nuclear and missile programs are worth the mounting cost. It attempts to present Kim with a binary — almost apocalyptic — choice: back down immediately and engage with the United States on Washington’s terms, or risk an all-out war that brings down his regime.

To sharpen the decision point, President Donald Trump has prodded China to increase economic and political pressure on Kim and has signaled that he will address the North Korean threat unilaterally if necessary. Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the toughening U.S. stance this week in Seoul, declaring that the “era of strategic patience” is over. He pointed to U.S. airstrikes earlier this month in Syria and Afghanistan as demonstrations of American “strength and resolve.”

China Is Playing Peacemaker in Myanmar, but with an Ulterior Motive


KACHIN STATE, Myanmar — In early March, Myanmar’s government sat down with a coalition of ethnic rebel groups, including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), trying to jump-start peace negotiations that had sputtered out after months of escalating fighting. The meeting had been brokered by China, keen to quell the conflict along its southwestern border.

The Kachin are an ethnic group of about a million people with their own eponymous province, Kachin State, in northern Myanmar. Ever since a coup brought a junta led by the nation’s ethnic majority Burmese to power in 1962, the Kachin have been fighting for independence as part of a constellation of conflicts that observers have called “the world’s longest-running civil war.” The KIA is no paltry guerrilla band — it has about 10,000 men and controls much of the Myanmar-China border — and the fighting has been intense. During the past six years, the conflict has displaced more than 100,000 people, and the military has committed widespread human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture. With refugees spilling across the border, Beijing has repeatedly emphasized the need for peace.

China’s Power Projection in the Western Indian Ocean

By: David Shinn

The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) recently participated in an operation to free the Tuvalu-flagged OS 35 bulk carrier with help from the Indian Navy in the Gulf of Aden (The Hindu, April 9). The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) 24th task force in the Gulf of Aden anti-piracy operation returned in March to its homeport of Qingdao following port calls in four Persian Gulf states (Chinamil.com, March 9, 2017). Since 2008, China has significantly increased its naval presence in the Indian Ocean, giving rise to Indian concerns of potential military encirclement and raising questions in American strategic thinking about China’s ultimate objectives. Both the United States and India maintain a much stronger naval presence than China in the Indian Ocean, but the balance is beginning to shift. Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced in 2013 the strategic “One Belt, One Road” and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” that stretches from the South China Sea across the Indian Ocean to the eastern Mediterranean. This initiative guarantees China will increase its economic and military engagement along Indian Ocean maritime routes. [1] The PLAN’s continuing participation in the anti-piracy operation long after most pirate attacks had ended and the construction of a military base at Djibouti are tangible indications of China’s power projection.

How China has become America’s equal, as showcased at a Harvard forum

Robert Delaney, US correspondent

On the campus of Harvard Business School this past weekend there was little doubt among corporate leaders and investors gathered for an annual conference that China had arrived as an equal to the United States.

Keynote speeches, panel discussions and a business pitch competition at the 20th annual Harvard China Forum convened under the theme “Sharing the Road Ahead” in English

This year’s thematic certitude differs from years past. Consider, for example, “Can China Lead?” in 2014 and “Building Chinese Confidence” in 2008. There were also previous themes suggesting the hopes of a country-in-waiting: “Unfolding the Chinese Dream” in 2015 and “Keeping Up the Momentum” in 2009.

Japan’s Nuclear Moment

By Liubomir K. Topaloff

Geopolitical trends have combined to open a window of opportunity for Japan to become a nuclear state. 

If Japan wanted to develop nuclear weapons, there would be no better moment than now to start. As the North Korean regime grows desperate to get a more generous ransom against its nuclear program, the threat it poses to Tokyo is multiplying. Last week Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, warned that North Korea is preparing the capability to launch missiles carrying the chemical weapon sarin against Tokyo.

U.S. President Donald Trump further added to the turmoil by declaring last week that an “armada” of American military vessels was heading to the Korean peninsula, only to be contradicted by his own military, which broke the news days later that the “armada” was sailing near Singapore, over 3,000 miles away from the Korean peninsula. At the time Trump boasted of the “armada,” it reportedly was travelling in the opposite direction. So much for the credibility of the American extended deterrence, which should guarantee the security umbrella over Japan, a policy in force since 1975. Now, both South Korea and Japan feel cheated and let down, while the U.S. administration was caught red-handed in a bluff. A truly embarrassing situation, indeed.

Syria Changed the World


ISTANBUL — The world seems awash in chaos and uncertainty, perhaps more so than at any point since the end of the Cold War.

Authoritarian-leaning leaders are on the rise, and liberal democracy itself seems under siege. The post-World War II order is fraying as fighting spills across borders and international institutions — built, at least in theory, to act as brakes on wanton slaughter — fail to provide solutions. Populist movements on both sides of the Atlantic are not just riding anti-establishment anger, but stoking fears of a religious “other,” this time Muslims.

These challenges have been crystallized, propelled and intensified by a conflagration once dismissed in the West as peripheral, to be filed, perhaps, under “Muslims killing Muslims”: the war in Syria.

Now in its seventh year, this war allowed to rage for so long, killing 400,000 Syrians and plunging millions more into misery, has sent shock waves around the world. Millions have fled to neighboring countries, some pushing on to Europe.

A Profound Realignment in the Western World

By Daniel McCarthy

The populist Right that seems to be rising throughout the advanced world has two goals. One, obviously, is to win office. But the second, which can be achieved short of actually taking power, is simply to replace the center-right. Marine Le Pen will almost certainly lose to Emmanuel Macron in a few weeks’ time. She and her supporters can count it as a victory, however, that there will be no center-right candidate in the second round of France’s presidential election for the first time since Charles de Gaulle founded the Fifth Republic.

The Left has been undergoing a shakeup of its own. Macron represents a tendency toward the pro-market center that bears some comparison with the direction in which Bill Clinton and Tony Blair took the Democrats and Labour in the 1990s. But unlike Clinton and Blair, Macron does not lead an established party. He was formerly a finance minister in the Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. In picking a nominee earlier this year to succeed the disastrous incumbent Socialist president, François Hollande, the party ultimately faced a choice between the center-left Valls and a left-wing candidate, Benoît Hamon. Hamon won, but so deep is the disaffection with the Socialists that another, independent leftist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, outperformed him in Sunday’s first-round general election.

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) – Volume 9, Issue 04

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) – Volume 9, Issue 04 

Volume 9, Issue 04 (April 2017): ‘Countering Jihadist Ideology: The Crucial Battlefront’ The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group faces setbacks on several fronts as it continues to come under heavy pressure from the US-led coalition forces, the Russians and Syrians. On the military front in Iraq, it is slowly losing western Mosul while in Syria, its de facto capital Raqqa is being surrounded for the inevitable showdown. On the propaganda front, it is experiencing a decline in the output and quality of its media products, such as videos and publications. It fares no better on the religious front where it remains marginalised within the Islamic world and faces continuous denunciations from mainstream religious leaders for its exploitation and misrepresentation of Islam. It has failed to gain legitimacy and has in fact been branded as un-Islamic, deviant, even heretical.

As IS loses its lustre and appeal with the loss of territories and impending collapse of its so-called caliphate, counter-ideology efforts should be intensified to further delegitimise IS’ theology of violence and debunk its misinterpretations of religious texts. IS’ hard-core ideology encompassing violent jihad, suicide bombing, takfirism (excommunication) and hijrah (migration), among others, have to be exposed as unquestionably flawed, transgressing Islamic legal principles and juristic process and methodology. This issue of CTTA features a critical examination of one of the principal tenets of IS’ jihadist ideology – takfirism – by Dr Muhammad Haniff Hassan. His article contrasts IS takfiri doctrine with mainstream Sunni position on the subject, exposing IS’ deceptions and deviations from true Islamic teachings.

Report: Special Operations Forces Want to Do More Than Just Counterterrorism

By Vivienne Machi

Special operations forces and their capabilities could provide a boost in an expanding global competition between the United States and nations such as Russia and China, according to a recent report. 

Seeing situations play out, such as China's militarization of the South China Sea or Russia's 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, has sparked a "vigorous conversation inside the SOF community" about how they can contribute to those types of national challenges, said Jonathan Schroden, director of the special operations program at CNA, an Arlington, Virginia-based think tank.

"They see that as, one, important to the nation … but they also see this special capability that they have and how that could be useful," he said. "They're frustrated … that SOF has been sort of pigeon-holed into the counterterrorism role, and primarily viewed as a capability to address counterterrorism issues that the nation faces, as opposed to having a broader view that SOF can and should also be playing a role in the nation's efforts to try and counter state actors."

The CNA report, entitled "The Role of Special Operations Forces in Global Competition," which was produced in less than nine months, was motivated by a number of conversations with special operators over several years, he added.


by Mark Moyar.

In May 1980, British television was interrupted by a live broadcast of balaclava-clad Special Air Service men storming the Iranian Embassy in London to rescue hostages taken by an Iranian separatist group. Such operations were not perhaps a surprise for the baby-boomer generation. After all, we had been brought up with celluloid heroics in which Dirk Bogarde —it was nearly always Dirk Bogarde—snatched German generals from Crete or raided Rommel’s supply lines in North Africa. But for younger generations of Britons, the embassy raid had an enormous impact, spawning a new fascination with special-operations forces. Their growing mystique has led to a stream of often lamentable books with “SAS” on the cover as well as, more seriously, a misleading confidence in their superiority to conventional forces for many missions.

As Mark Moyar’s “Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America’s Special Operations Forces” demonstrates, there has been a similar trend in the U.S. The various American special forces, which date from the formation of the Army First Ranger Battalion in 1942, now number 70,000 members. They have moved from being a secondary weapon to a primary weapon. Gen. Peter Schoomaker became the first special-forces officer to be Army chief of staff in 2003, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal the first special-forces officer to be given direction of an entire campaign—in Afghanistan—in 2009.


Maj. Amos C. Fox, Maj. Andrew J. Rossow

Russian warfare in the 21st century has ushered in a new paradigm—one in which states are in perpetual conflict with one another in a manner that best operates in the shadows. This model, known to Americans and most Westerners as hybrid warfare, is known to Russians as New Generation Warfare. Hybrid warfare, much like any nation’s or polity’s way of warfare, is

explicitly linked to the country from which it derives its power.

In the case of Russia, the hybrid warfare model seeks to operate along a spectrum of conflict that has covert action and overt combat as its bookends, with partisan warfare as the glue that binds the two ends together. This model seeks to capitalize on the weaknesses associated with nascent technology and therefore acts aggressively in new domains of war—such as cyber—while continuing to find innovative ways to conduct effective information warfare.

However, what is often lost in the discussion of the technological innovation of Russian hybrid warfare is that a conventional line of effort resides just below the surface. The Donbas campaign of the Russo–Ukrainian War (2014–present) highlights this idea. The Donbas campaign showcases innovations in Russian land warfare through the actions of Russian land forces—working in conjunction with separatist land forces—throughout the campaign. Most notably, these innovations include the development of the battalion tactical group (BTG)—a formation that possesses the firepower to punch at the operational level of war—coupled with a reconnaissance-strike model not seen on contemporary battlefields. Furthermore, the BTG and reconnaissance-strike model work in tandem to create siege warfare opportunities for the Russian and separatist forces, allowing them to generate high levels of destruction while operating beneath the notice of the international community.

CNA Report: Special Operations Forces Want to Do More Than Just Counterterrorism by National Defense

By Vivienne Machi, 

Special operations forces and their capabilities could provide a boost in an expanding global competition between the United States and nations such as Russia and China, according to a recent report.

Seeing situations play out, such as China's militarization of the South China Sea or Russia's 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, has sparked a "vigorous conversation inside the SOF community" about how they can contribute to those types of national challenges, said Jonathan Schroden, director of the special operations program at CNA, an Arlington, Virginia-based think tank.

"They see that as, one, important to the nation … but they also see this special capability that they have and how that could be useful," he said. "They're frustrated … that SOF has been sort of pigeon-holed into the counterterrorism role, and primarily viewed as a capability to address counterterrorism issues that the nation faces, as opposed to having a broader view that SOF can and should also be playing a role in the nation's efforts to try and counter state actors."

CTC Sentinel | Volume 10, Issue 4 (April 2017)

In our April cover article, Michael Knights and Alexander Mello examine the Islamic State’s ongoing defense of Mosul. Despite the group’s use of innovative and lethal tactics such as pairing car bombs and drones, it has been outfought by coalition-backed Iraqi forces, which liberated eastern Mosul in January. With Islamic State fighters now engaged in a final fight on the western side of the Tigris, the authors describe how the group continues to prioritize mobile defensive tactics to seize the initiative and mount counterattacks.
Our interview is with Bernard Kleinman, an American defense attorney who has been on the defense teams of several high-profile individuals in terrorism cases, including Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Anas al-Libi, and alleged USS Cole mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Mirroring the global rift between al-Qa`ida and the Islamic State, Kleinman reveals that almost all the prominent alleged al-Qa`ida figures in U.S. custody he has had conversations with since 2014 are disturbed by the actions of the Islamic State, which they view as corrupting Islam and illegitimately targeting Shi`a for death. Kleinman reveals his client Ramzi Yousef, who is being held in the “Supermax” facility in Florence, Colorado, recently finished writing a 250-page treatise theologically repudiating the Islamic State. Kleinman also weighs in on the Guantanamo Bay military tribunal process and the relationship between Iran and al-Qa`ida, which his clients have described as being driven by a “my enemy’s enemy is my ally” logic.

The Case for Synthesizing Electronic Warfare and Cyber


The two separate worlds of electronic warfare and cybersecurity are beginning to overlap, if not collide.

In the U.S. military, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities live in different military domains, delivered by operators who exist in different military units and who largely grew up in different career fields.

The National Security Agency and the uniformed services have rushed headlong to demonstrate leadership in the cyber domain. But they have exerted less energy trying to determine how to use these capabilities in a coordinated way in the highly contested electronic battlefields of the future.

This can’t go on. We need a “sea change” strategy pivot to better prepare for more sophisticated threats that are further along combining their electronic warfare and cyber assets.

Some background: In the 1990’s, electronic warfare became less cool. Gone from the Air Force fleet were aircraft such as the F-4G and EF-111, two Cold War platforms 100 percent dedicated to jamming or destroying adversary radars. The Air Force Electronic Warfare Center (AFEWC) became the Air Force Information Warfare Center (AFIWC).

Blockchain for Development – Hope or Hype?

Hernandez, K.

Blockchain technology has been heralded by many as the next big thing. The potential use of blockchains has attracted widespread attention from the media, the IMF, the UN, and the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor.

Some argue that within 20 years, blockchain will disrupt society more profoundly than the internet has disrupted communication and media. With the reported potential to replace powerful financial institutions with a new form of cheap and secure banking globally, could it also transform development? It has the potential to offer new ways to track aid and tackle corruption, facilitate smart-aid contracts and cut costs for international payments, but experience suggests it is through adding value to existing development processes that it could have the most benefit.

26 April 2017

Govt. plea against military pay upgrade sparks unease

The personnel are yet to get salaries recommended by the Seventh Pay Commission. 

Armed Forces Tribunal cannot take sweeping decisions

Setting off widespread discontent among military personnel, the Centre on Friday moved the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), which grants Non-Functional Upgrade (NFU) to the armed forces.

The Special Leave Petition (SLP), filed by the Centre, came even as the military personnel are yet to receive their new salaries recommended by the Seventh Pay Commission.

According to a Ministry of Defence official, the decision to challenge the ruling of the AFT to grant NFU was prompted by its legal stand that the tribunal has no authority to take such a sweeping decision. The source, in fact, argued that the government was not against NFU for services.

Core anomaly 

NFU has been one of the core anomalies raised by the services in the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, which are yet to be implemented for military personnel. There have been some reports, quoting Army chief General Bipin Rawat, saying that the issues would be sorted out by the end of April. The NFU entitles all officers of a batch, including those not promoted, to draw the salary and grade pay that the senior-most officer of their batch would get after a certain period. For instance, batch mates of a Secretary to the Government of India, who have not been promoted, will be entitled to the same pay after a certain period of time.

The Sixth Pay Commission had granted NFU to most Group ‘A’ officers but not the military and paramilitary officers. Since then, the armed forces had been demanding a one-time notional NFU to ensure parity.



On March 9, 2017, ZT, an underground technologist and writer, read his upcoming novella: Architects of the Apocalypse, to a group of his adherents in the basement of an abandoned bar in Nashville, Tennessee. The occasion was the Third Annual Meltdown Congress—an underground, invitation-only organization dedicated to the survival of the human species in the face of near certain digital annihilation. 

I was present, along with three of my compatriots, plus about 30 gray hat hackers (hackers or cybersecurity experts without malicious intent) who represent the cream of the American hacking community. 

ZT’s novella takes place in the not-too-distant future. It chronicles an age in which artificial intelligence and its adjutant automata run the world—in which humanity is free and is cared for entirely by the automata. 

The artificial intelligence in this novella has organized itself along hierarchical lines, and the ultimate decision-making function is called “The Recursive Decider.” 

Can India replace China as driver of world GDP growth over next 20 years?

Manas Chakravarty

The share of emerging markets in World GDP has improved from 42.3% in 1996 to 58.1% in 2016, according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook database. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

The share of emerging and developing markets—153 of them—in world gross domestic product (GDP) has improved from 42.3% in 1996 to 58.1% in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook database. (See chart 1—The share of global output has been computed by taking GDP on a purchasing power parity basis).

New Joint Doctrine – but who will walk the talk?

ByLt Gen Prakash Katoch

Anything to do with defence, and there is plenty electronic excitement. So this time, the media is agog with headlines of “New defence doctrine to ensure Army, Navy, IAF can tackle entire spectrum of conflicts”.

…who will execute this joint doctrine? Where are the command structures and the organizations that would implement this joint doctrine?

Reportedly, this new doctrine is to be released shortly. The obvious choice will be the Defence Minister to release the 80-page doctrine. Perhaps it has also been signed by the Defence Minister, as was Army’s Sub-Conventional Doctrine signed and released by AK Anthony as Defence Minister few years back even though the latter was quite inadequate; focusing on application of combat power to enhance ‘civil control’ in affected areas, that too on own side of the border – in sharp contrast to meet the borderless settings of hybrid warfare.

As for the new joint doctrine, media quoting MoD sources says it underlines the need for “application of military power” in an integrated manner to enhance operational efficiency as well as optimize utilization of resources for a greater military punch from limited budgetary funds. It also charts out a broad framework of principles for joint planning and the need to build integrated land-air-sea-cyberspace war-fighting machinery, but also “signals” the intent of the military to the world at large.

In the name of God

Sanchita Bhattacharya

The practice of condemning an individual or a particular group for following 'certain religious practices' in the name of blasphemy has intensified acts of violence in Pakistan. In the latest blasphemy case, Mashal Khan, a student, was brutally lynched by his own hostel mates at Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) in the Mardan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in broad daylight on April 13, 2017, after being accused of blasphemy. The deceased was a resident of Swabi and a student at AWKU’s Journalism and Mass Communications department. A friend of the deceased student said that a mob attacked and beat him, before shooting him in the head and chest. The mob then continued to beat his body with sticks.

Some of the recent cases of blasphemy-related crimes include:

April 21, 2017: A mob attacked a man and beat him brutally inside a mosque in Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after he was accused of uttering blasphemous remarks following Friday prayers. The man, who is yet to be identified, is alleged to have pushed the imam of the mosque to allow him to speak after jummah (Friday) prayers. Eyewitnesses claim the man then uttered 'blasphemous remarks' amidst the prayer gathering. As worshippers started beating the man, the mosque's imam, fearing for the man's life, handed him over to the Police. The Police took him to the local police station for his protection, and claimed that they were trying to ascertain the man's mental health. A First Information Report (FIR) was filed against him over charges of blasphemy and terrorism, according to the Deputy Commissioner Chitral, Shahab Yousafzai.

How Could The Taliban Breach A Heavily-Guarded Afghan Army Base?

by Voice of America

WASHINGTON/MAZAR-I-SHARIF - On Friday early in the afternoon, two Afghan Army Ford Ranger vehicles with 10 soldiers on board stopped before the first security check point of the main entrance to 209 Shaheen Corps, in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province.

The soldiers on board were Taliban militants, disguised in Afghan National Army (ANA) uniforms with fake identification cards.

Inside the first vehicle, there was a wounded soldier who was pleading for urgent care.

“The soldier was covered in blood, and when the guard at the first checkpoint communicated with his superiors in the second checkpoint, he was told to let them in,” an Afghan soldier from the military base told VOA on condition of anonymity.

“They were allowed to cross the second checkpoint as well, and when they were stopped and asked for their guns in the third checkpoint, they started firing at the guards,” the Afghan soldier added.

According to the soldier, the security guard at the main gate was convinced that the assailants were returning from a mission from northern Faryab province and that the wounded soldier would die if not taken care of immediately.

“As soon as they gunned down the security guards in the third checkpoint, they spread inside the base, and two of the assailants rushed towards the cafeteria and the mosque detonating their suicide vests,” the source added.

The Benefits and Risks of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor


Traditionally, China and Pakistan have cooperated closely at the strategic and political levels. Now the two nations are making efforts to expand their bilateral collaboration economically as well. The construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a milestone that signifies this shift.

At its core, the CPEC is a large-scale initiative to build energy, highway, and port infrastructure to deepen economic connections between China and Pakistan. This initiative has been well-received in both countries, although it is not without its problems.1 Nevertheless, China and Pakistan regard the CPEC as a new source of potential synergy between their respective national development strategies, which may help the two countries translate their close political cooperation into multifaceted economic cooperation, attain mutual benefits, and achieve win-win outcomes. For the economic corridor to reach its potential, however, there are security and political challenges in Pakistan that must be addressed.

The Other Side of the World: China, the United States, and the Struggle for Middle East Security

As China looks westward for energy security, it finds the United States in a dominant position in the Middle East. China faces fundamental choices as to how it will manage its own rise without either clashing with the United States or creating undue burdens for itself as the largest Asian power. As the United States seeks to commit more attention to the Pacific, it must decide how it will seek to shape the Chinese role in the Middle East and how much of a role it wants to reserve to itself. The challenges for both countries manifest themselves especially in the space between East Asia and the Middle East, a space that, from a U.S. perspective, is truly the other side of the world.

In this Brzezinski Institute report, Jon Alterman considers the ways in which the U.S. and Chinese governments have approached the Middle East and the Asian space leading to it and the implications that potential shifts would have not only for their bilateral ties but also for the future of geopolitics more broadly.

This report is available for download in English, Arabic, and Mandarin.


by RC Porter 

Five years after commissioning its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, China is now primed to launch its second carrier – the Type 001A. Unlike its Soviet-built predecessor, the Type 001A is China’s first domestically built carrier. Both carriers are similar in size and use a STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) system for the launch and recovery of aircraft. Although similar to the Liaoning, the Type 001A features some notable enhancements and represents an important step in China’s developing aircraft carrier program.

Key Facts 

The control tower island of the Type 001A is expected to be 10 percent smaller than that of the Liaoning. 

It will displace roughly 65,000 – 70,000 tons, a few thousand more tons than the Liaoning. 

It will feature the advanced Type 346 S-band AESA radar system. 

Its airwing will be slightly larger than that of the Liaoning, featuring around 8 additional aircraft. 

The Type 001A may have an internal arrangement that is better optimized than the Liaoning’s. 

It is expected to be commissioned around 2020. 

Comparing the Type 001A and the Liaoning

Outlines derived from satellite photos demonstrate the similarities between the carriers.

Key Characteristics of the Type 001A

This Is China’s Biggest Problem With North Korea

By Simon F. Reich,

China’s leadership has repeatedly demonstrated a sophisticated capacity to adeptly wade through awkward diplomatic situations. But since North Korea’s failed missile test this week, China faces a unique dilemma. Despite his seemingly erratic behavior, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has made a cold calculation familiar to enemies of the United States. If his scientists can manufacture a nuclear missile that can hit the continental United States, or at least if he can give the impression that they have done so, then he has bought himself the insurance he needs against any American attack.

As long as he appears irrational enough to be willing to sacrifice millions of his compatriots, then his threat of a reprisal if the North is attacked is credible. But he is taking a grave risk on the way to that point: that the United States and maybe its allies will launch a preemptive attack before North Korea can develop a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the US.

After ISIL: The Conflict Following the War

by Brandon Whitehead

The Middle East has long been a breeding ground for insurgencies and terrorist organizations alike. Groups and organizations spanning from the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Lebanese Hezbollah, Taliban, and nearly an infinite list of splinter organizations have had disputes over everything from religion to territory for years and will likely continue to do so. Most recently, the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) or the Arabic acronym of Da’ish), has burst on scene and made lasting impacts on Iraq, Syria, and throughout the greater Levant.

In June 2014, ISIL seemingly came out of nowhere and has now grown to become a major force in the Middle East, more specifically in Iraq and Syria. The organization became especially prominent following its lightning-swift military advance over northern Iraq, where it encountered an abysmally low level of government resistance (Terrill 2014). With that being said, ISIL’s hold on the region has recently been on the decline with territorial losses mounting in key areas along the Euphrates River Valley, the Tigris River Valley, and Northern Syria, with current operations threatening their capitals in both Raqqah and Mosul. Up to this point in time, the predominance of research and analysis has been carried out to figure out how to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State. Governments of the 50+ Coalition nations from around the world that are participating in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE have seemingly put an infinite amount of time, money, and effort in the overall strategy of how to beat ISIL…which is, if you follow the news, still a plan very much so in the works.

Unmasking the Unmaskers

When then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked for the names of Donald Trump aides who were communicating with foreign officials and being monitored by the National Security Agency, she probably didn’t anticipate igniting a firestorm.

The saga kicked off in February, when the Washington Post reported that key Trump advisor Michael Flynn had been chatting with the Russian ambassador, an article that led to his early resignation from the president’s team.

By March, Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, declared that the Trump team had been seriously wronged. After Nunes’ alleged mysterious midnight run on the White House grounds came to light, his committee’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was thrown into political turmoil, prompting his departure from the investigation.

The next month, Rice was identified as at least one official who asked that the names of Americans who spoke with Russian officials be “unmasked,” though it’s unclear whether she uncovered Flynn’s name. Critics quickly accused her of being a source of the leaks, an allegation she’s vehemently denied.

Is the United States Really Blowing Up North Korea’s Missiles?


The Trump administration has completed a policy review of how to manage the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. The new policy — massive pressure and engagement — is a tepid serving of leftovers from the Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton administrations. I actually created a quiz of similar statements from all four administrations — and then when I looked at it a day later, I failed it.

As so often happens when reality disappoints, people turn to rumor and fantasy. And so, disappointed with the reality that Donald Trump faces the same lousy options on North Korea that hamstrung all his predecessors, the new Washington bedtime story is that the United States is secretly hacking North Korean missile launches.

The root of this particular bedtime story was a bit of reporting by David Sanger and William Broad, asserting that the Obama administration had begun, about three years ago, to launch cyberattacks against North Korea analogous to those against Iran.

While the United States is undoubtedly interested in penetrating Iranian and North Korean computer networks, and is doing a bit of mischief, that’s a long way from the reality of some keyboard jockey in Utah taking command of a North Korean missile and piloting it into the drink.