21 November 2012

Vikramaditya’s Boiler Problem. How Serious ?

By IDU Analysis on November 18, 2012

Satellite photos coming out of SEVMASH show INS Vikramaditya’s boiler problem is being attended in to by many cranes etc on deck. Is it serious? No official news. Lets hope it is not as ships run on luck too and she is brand new.

The ship suffered a set back as the 44,500 ton Ukraine built aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov transferred to the Indian Navy as a gift and meticulously refitted at Sevmash Shipyard in Severnodnsik Russia for $ 2.3 bill with many ups and downs for the last five years proceeded to the White Sea for sea trials and did 100 days at sea with 41 landings by MiG-29Ks supplied by Russia. India’s first 16 MiG-29Ks out of 45 are reported at INS Hansa at Goa and the squadron is seen flying.

Satellite-Image of INS Vikramaditya
To appreciate boiler working and to understand what could have happened it needs mentioning that the Indian Navy prides its self having run boiler driven ships for all of its 67 years in service of the nation. INS Vikrant and Viraat and all the Leanders are boiler driven and the Indian Navy has done well by them. In 1971 the INS Vikrant did develop boiler problems and her speed was restricted and instead of opening the boilers which can be time consuming, the aircraft carrier was assigned to the Eastern Fleet and with restricted speed carried out full flying duties in the 971 war.

Defense Reforms in India: Slow but Steady Progress

By Gurmeet Kanwal 

Nov 20, 2012 

As an emerging power that the U.S. hopes to look upon as a net provider of security in the Indo-Pacific region, India’s national security decision-making apparatus needs to keep pace with its global ambitions. Despite modest progress in implementing defense reforms, many systemic weaknesses and structural shortcomings remain. In our latest Issue Perspective, Adjunct Fellow Brigadiar (Ret’d) Gurmeet Kanwal examines recent attempts to address some of these deficiencies including the Chandra Committee report. 


U.S.-India Military Engagement--Abbreviated version

Contributor: Foreword by Karl F. Inderfurth 

Nov 20, 2012 

The United States and India have begun to lay the foundation for a defense relationship that could decisively shape stability and security within the Indo-Pacific region. This formal engagement should continue at a pace that is, in modification of naval parlance, steady as they go. At the same time, the challenge for both sides now is to focus on removing bureaucratic and policy obstacles in order to unlock the strategic value of this partnership. Doing so would help set the conditions for a secure environment so that the Indo-Pacific region can achieve its full potential as the economic, trade, and innovation engine for the 21st century. 

Publisher CSIS 


Kokrajhar, Internal Security and Biometrics

The recent Kokrajhar riots were characterized by the fact that Army in the course of aid to civil authorities had to deal with a section of population, both locals and illegal immigrants, with no ethnic, linguistic or religious distinctiveness. The incident threw up numerous lessons for the country at the strategic and operational level, however, It is the operational issues which hold greater relevance for the Army given that it can be called upon to stabilize incidents of similar complexity in the future. The Kokrajhar disturbances, with their genesis in legal and illegal migration, have been extensively analysed. It was suggested, as an aid to deployment of security forces in response to such incidents, to “create up to date and accurate database of people living in the area and analysis of data as also of change occurring over periods of time can give insights into what is happening in the area. Data bases will mitigate fears of fresh illegal immigration; if such immigration does occur it can be detected and checked.” It is an interesting recommendation, regarding which the US experience in Afghanistan provides a fascinating perspective.

In Afghanistan, during its operations against al Qaeda the NATO/ ISAF encountered a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society. The various ethnic groups such as the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, Baloch reflect the ethnicity of all the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan. To complicate the situation, few of Afghanistan's 30m people have a birth certificate, a second name, let alone a national ID documents. The US drew on their experience of biometrics from Iraq where U.S. forces segregated cities like Fallujah and used biometric based ID cards as the only means of access.

HJS Event: On Counterinsurgency: How to triumph in the age of asymmetric warfare with Prof. Martin van Creveld

February 26, 2008

By kind invitation of Bob Laxton MP, the Henry Jackson Society and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy London were delighted to welcome Prof. Martin van Creveld, world renowned military historian and strategist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who provided an analysis of how we can triumph in the age of asymmetric warfare.

Professor Martin van Creveld is one of the world’s most renowned experts on military history and strategy, and a Professor of History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has written 17 books, which have been widely translated; most notable among them are Supplying War, Command in War, The Rise and Decline of the State, and The Transformation of War – the last being the only non-American authored entry on the list of required reading for US army officers.

Professor van Creveld has consulted to the defence departments of numerous governments, including those of the United States. He was the second civilian expert ever to be invited to address the Israeli General Staff, and has lectured or taught at practically every institute of strategic military study.

Spain’s’ only three options for recovery

17 NOVEMBER 2012

Summary: The Euro-crisis began in March 2010, and yet its causes and basic elements remain widely misunderstood — including, based on their public statements, by many of Europe’s leaders. Here Prof Pettis gives a clear explanation of what’s happening, and of Spain’s only three ways out of this crisis.
Excerpt from “Three cheers for the new data?”

By Michael Pettis (Prof of Finance, Peking University)
November 12, 2012
Republished with his general permission.

Spain’s three options

Finally, and to turn away from China, we seem to be experiencing a renewed period of increased optimism over European prospects, but we should refrain from joining in. The optimism will soon fade. In the great debate over the economies of countries like Spain, we sometimes forget the simple arithmetic of economic rebalancing. This arithmetic, like it or not, severely limits the options open to these countries.

For many years, thanks partly to bad policies in Spain but mainly to aggressive attempts by Germany to achieve growth by forcing a trade surplus onto its European neighbors, Spain, and many other countries in Europe, ran enormous trade deficits. It is easy and popular to blame the greed of the Spanish and the stupidity of the government for the mess in which Spain has found itself, but the policies Germany put into place in the late 1990s guaranteed that Germany, a country that had run massive trade deficits in the 1990s, would run equally massive trade surpluses in the subsequent decade.

The first lesson of our failed wars: we were warned, but choose not to listen

19 NOVEMBER 2012

Summary: Although many of our geopolitical experts continue to lie, our defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan slowly become visible to America. This is the failure of the COIN (as in FM 3-24), Petraeus’ baby. The wars were a tragedy, but relying on COIN was folly. Both were avoidable if we had learned from history. And from historians, like Martin van Creveld. This week’s series of posts recalls what we should have known. It’s not too late to learn, and to stop the mad small wars we’re waging around the world.

Eleazar vs an armored vehicle

The first suicide bomber in the first failed counterinsurgency, from the First Book of the Maccabees, 1.6.43

“Now Eleazar saw that one of the {elephants} was equipped with royal armor. It was taller than all the others, and he supposed that the king was on it. So he gave his life to save his people and to win for himself an everlasting name. He courageously ran into the midst of the phalanx to reach it … He got under the elephant, stabbed it from beneath, and killed it; but it fell to the ground upon him and he died.”

Tell Me How This Ends: Restoring American Power in the 21st Century

21 NOVEMBER 2012

Summary: Guest author Mike Few looks at America’s broken observation-orientation-decision-action loop, and proposes a three-program for reform.


Tell Me How This Ends:
…….Restoring American Power in the 21st Century
By Mike Few

Many posts on the FM website speak extensively about America’s Decline and broken OODA Loops. If his assessments are accurate, then what must be done to fix our internal problems?

The answer may lie in the Observe Function of Boyd’s OODA loop, changing the way that we see ourselves and the world. But, changing the broken Observe Function is not easy. It requires brutal honesty and a willingness to change. Above all, it requires us to listen to some hard truths.

Today, we feel a need to “fix” the Syria and Iran problems. Last year, it was Yemen and Libya. Next year, it’ll probably be Mexico and China. Why do we feel the need to solve the world’s problems when they do not directly affect our national security? Why haven’t we had a period of introspection to determine why we lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Allen returns to Afghanistan

The big step for mining in Afghanistan, Panetta: al-Qaida remains a cancer, Why Mullen had a chef, and more. 


John Allen is back in Afghanistan. The ISAF commander returned to Kabul overnight, his first time back since the scandal involving him and David Petraeus first broke. His departure from Washington means that DOD investigators sifting through as many as 30,000 pages of e-mails have what they need from him in person. Gen. Allen's promotion to the top U.S. military job in Europe was put on hold when it was discovered that there might be inappropriate e-mails between him and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. We and others have reported that the actual number of e-mails is far less than the volume of pages suggests; of those, it is thought that there are very few that are potentially inappropriate. People close to the situation believe it will not take long for investigators to finish reading the e-mails between Allen and Kelley and make a determination about what occurred. Allen has maintained that there was no wrongdoing. 

Allen's PAO Maj. Dave Nevers would not comment on the investigation or the form it's taken, but sent Situation Report this statement before he himself boarded a plane bound for Kabul: "The Defense Department Inspector General's investigation into certain communications by Gen. Allen continues. Out of respect for that process, Gen. Allen will continue to refrain from commenting on those matters that may fall within the scope of the investigation. He is happy to be back in Afghanistan, particularly in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his troops." 

Panetta warned of the "cancer" that is al Qaeda and said there are "no shortcuts" to exiting Afghanistan before 2014. In a not-so-uplifting pre-Thanksgiving speech at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, Panetta said the U.S. has beaten back the al Qaeda operation that attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and has held Taliban fighters at bay. "All this sends a simple and powerful message to the Taliban, to al Qaeda, and to the violent extremist groups who want to regain a safe haven in Afghanistan: we are not going anywhere; our commitment to Afghanistan is long-term; you cannot wait us out," he said. 

India China Border Resolution. What Are The Facts ?

By IDU Analysis on November 21, 2012

IDU Reproduction and Comments of Wing Cdr Thomas. The Way Forward.

In war the victors forget, the vanquished do not. India was the vanquished in 1962; and its now 50 years since. Wars teach nations lessons, and change the course of history and borders too

Hence there have been many eye opening articles in the media, introspection and conferences on the India- China war in New Delhi. Another, is to be held on 23rd Nov, 2012 with Gen JJ Singh in the Chair and Gen VP Malik and many luminaries will be speaking. All conferences ask , “Where was the border and why did the war take place and who did what”. The defeat is recorded in many books. Last year Inder Malhotra ferreted Pt Nehru’s two letters written on 19th Nov, 1962 to President Kennedy asking for immediate help of air assets. This shows how desperate India was before the Chinese with drew, despite the IAF being available. Some pilots like F/O Tipnis were ready in Hunter cockpits to hit China and aid the Army but were told to stand down. ….On whose advice, “Ambassador Galbraith’s?”.

Chinese Saying

IDU came across Thomas’s article with some interesting facts reproduced below and IDU has commented on it to let IDU readers decide where the border lay in 1962. It will need historical facts of old times and the crucial Shimla 1913-14 long Conference held with Tibet, India’s direct neighbor then and maps of the time to settle as Tibet was independent and China was an observer at the meet. China was not so rich and powerful, and was wanting to settle in the 1950s after Nehru accepted China’s suzerainty over Tibet despite ‘strategy papers’ left by the British to ensure Tibet’s autonomy. Sardar Patel’s warning letter was timely to Nehru but he passed away and Nehru never needed to reply.

China India’s Nuclear Postures- Chalk And Cheese

By IDU Analysis on September 7, 2012

IDU Analysis Based On Carnegie Report

IDU reported how Indians and Chinese are Chalk and Cheese. So it is on Nuclear issues and China asked India to accede to NPT in track 2 Conference in Beijing.

IDU is clear Chinese leadership with 1.3 bill has never forgotten the Famine that killed over 30 mill in Mao’s time so it knows it has to feed the aspirations and stomachs of 1.3 bill or China will be in turmoil. Hence it has five and rightly so, clear cut goals, one cannot fault as it has through sacrifice built up the world’s largest solvent economy when others are dithering and not willing to sacrifice. IDU means India with corruption and poor Governance and EU with luxuries and feel technology will see them through and financial jugglery.

The West does not wish to give up its right to steer the world so a tussle is on of who will be on the steering Wheel. China aspires for the wheel. India is a stand by Coxswain not knowing what it is to do in this race..Chinese goals look like these five.Regain past Economic, and High Status Glory Befitting its size and population that it lost in 100 years of shame..
Regain the Yellow race superiority through Nationalism which they call and believe is “Love for the Country”.
Regain China’s historical boundaries on land and sea which were snatched away.
And China wishes to Rise with Peace and Harmony till they can change the world order.
Join world institutions on its terms. They worry how to deal with their potentially capable competitor India …… A lovely ‘Conqueron’ in French.

Hence interestingly India’s and China’s nuclear postures, including their stances on minimum deterrence and no first use were discussed with their advancing missile and missile defense programs, and nuclear modernization programs, for strategic stability by by Lora Saalman, Paul Haenle, Li Bin, Arun Prakash, Pan Zhenqiang, P.K. Singh(USI), Srikanth Kondapalli(JNU) , Rajeswari Rajagopalan, Yao Yunzhu, Yang Yi, C. Bhaskar at a two-day Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing in June.

Paper dragon

Worry less about China’s rise than its fall

Current U.S. security policy and the “strategic pivot” toward Asia are rooted in the premise that China’s rise to economic and military power threatens U.S security. This pivot elevates Beijing from strategic competitor to likely adversary. It also justifies the Defense Department’s nascent Air-Sea Battle strategy, whose stated aim is to ensure that the U.S. has the military means to counter a growing Chinese threat, maintain access to the commons and promote regional security.

Expectations of China’s rise may prove accurate. Nothing is certain, however, and like any good business analysis, sound security policy must consider and hedge against a broad range of plausible outcomes. From this perspective, current security policy toward China reflects misplaced priorities and is woefully incomplete. It fails to draw sufficiently on nonmilitary tools of national power. Likewise, the evolving military strategy is immature; it fails to consider China in the context of competing priorities and the most likely threats.

In this context, Air-Sea Battle strategy appears myopic in its overreliance on kinetic solutions and tacitly fails to balance joint capabilities. But its real problem is more fundamental: Air-Sea Battle is flawed because it is based on the prospect of direct military confrontation with China.

Chinese envoys confirm India’s sovereignty over Sikkim


For the first time, a high-level team of Chinese diplomats are in Sikkim on Monday in connection with consular issues, a “reconfirmation” of Beijing’s stance of accepting the State as part of India.

The three-member team from the Chinese embassy here, led by Minister Counsellor Fan Fei, is in the State.

The visit is expected to be seen by the South Block as “acknowledgement and reconfirmation” of changed stance of Beijing, which has accepted India’s sovereignty over Sikkim in last eight to nine years.

China had questioned Sikkim’s accession to India and refused to grant visas on this ground to people from the state, even if they were listed as part of an Indian government delegation.

However, with much persistence from India, the Chinese authorities made official changes that were reflected in the Sino-Indian Memorandum of 2003, which was hailed as a de facto Chinese acceptance of the annexation. China also published a map showing Sikkim as part of India and its Foreign Ministry deleted it from the list of China’s “countries and regions”. Sikkim, with Tibetan plateau in the North, was a British protectorate from 1886 until India’s independence in 1947.

China’s Malacca Dilemma Alternate Routes For Shipping

By IDU Analysis on November 19, 2012

In a thinly veiled reference to the United States, President Hu Jintao of China was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as warning that “certain major powers” might seek to control oil flow through the strait. Analysts say China and some Middle East countries, including Iran, that depend heavily on the strait to supply East Asian consumers would welcome alternative routes and reserve storage facilities.

The above subject was taken up by CMC of China since 2003. If Malacca Straits are closed by any chance China will be without feed to its rapacious appetite for resources but emergency solutions to China’s ‘Malacca Dilemma’ with huge reserves has been worked out by China and IDU offers what these are. India has to think this out and co-operate with China or confront it if need arises, and USA’s pivot is aimed for this and the South China Sea dispute which IDU will unfold soon after the East Asia summit as Indian stance has been ambivalent..

It must be noted in China there are more decision takers than there are decision makers and advisers. This is seen in their CPC central committee and Central Military Commission (CMC) in which Xi Jinping has taken charge with military officers only and his second wife is a service singer. In India we have more decision makers and advisers (Bloated Bureaucracy, PMO full of advisers along with NSA, Planning Commission in A/C offices, over 220 Flag officers in Delhi and no CDS) and lessDECISION TAKERS. Addtionally PM Dr Manmohan Singh’s slow motion committees which are now are running short of houses for themselves and soon funds are more of a burden on decision making. Even strategy is made in our wonderful Jugad fashion in which we excel. China is thinking out its cultural, economic and military challenges for the 21st century and Malacca dilemma is one prime one. At the Zuhai Aero Show PLA showcased the new CM -400 air launched aircraft carrier missile which will go to Pakistan’s JF-17s also.

What lessons will the Army take away from Petraeus? My fear is, the wrong ones

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The lessons of the Petraeus mess, are I think, that people have a breaking point, and that he hit his after four combat tours and many years of stress. Also, I think that retiring from the military after 40 years of service and earning 4 stars is more disorienting than we realize. 

But I fear that the Army -- especially its generals -- will conclude that: 

--Petraeus was too smart for his own good. So don't try for a PhD in a good civilian university, see where it leads? Thinking critically is overrated. 

--So are new ideas. 

--Talking to reporters always will cost you down the road. So hold the media at arm's length. Or more. Don't engage unless ordered to do so. 

--You can be mediocre as long as you keep your pants on. 

That Other War

The bloody conflict you didn't read about this week is in Congo, and it threatens to redraw the map of Africa. 


KIGALI, Rwanda — One of Congo's biggest eastern cities fell to a powerful rebel force on Tuesday, Nov. 20, in a war that may redefine the region but has produced little political action by the United Nations, the United States, and international powers that heavily support neighboring governments -- notably Rwanda, a Western darling and aid recipient -- that are backing the violence, according to U.N. experts. The fighting has displaced nearly 1 million people since the summer, and the battle for the city of Goma marks the latest episode of a long struggle by Rwandan-backed rebels to take control of a piece of the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- a struggle the rebels are now decisively winning. The fighting has also highlighted the ineptitude of the United Nations mission, one of the world's largest and most expensive, charged with keeping Congo's peace. 

Africa's Forever War

Haunting scenes from Congo's ongoing conflict. 

NOVEMBER 20, 2012 

For much of the last 20 years, the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered from conflict and instability -- but until recently, the area had appeared to be stabilizing. In 2009, the main rebel army signed peace accords with the Congolese national army -- the FARDC -- and everyone had high hopes that the region would begin transitioning towards peace. But in April, several hundred former rebels defected from the national army and formed a new armed group known as M23. Within months, the M23 conflict had diverted the resources of the national army away from their regular posts throughout the country into fighting on the Ugandan and Rwandan borders. In the vacuum left behind, a series of tit-for-tat massacres and attacks against the population by various armed groups began, and nearly half a million people fled their homes. Millions of people are now trying to survive in desperate conditions, many of whom remain in isolated locations nearly inaccessible to humanitarian organizations. Unfortunately, it looks as if things are only going to get worse. Early on Monday, Nov. 19, rebels approached Goma, the largest city in North Kivu province, and the U.N. pulled its employees out of the country. By Tuesday, the group had taken the airport and the city in a move that, as Anjan Sundaram explains, could re-draw the map of Africa. 

The myth of Israel's strategic genius

Posted By Stephen M. Walt Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The first Gaza War (aka Operation Cast Lead) took place shortly after I started writing this blog. I thought that operation was "worse than a crime, it was a blunder," and that underscored what I called the "myth of Israel's strategic genius." I argued that although Israel's leaders were often clever tacticians, they had frequently engaged in acts of strategic folly that harmed their victims, undermined Israel itself, and harmed U.S. interests too. Interestingly, even some patriotic Israeli experts have recently offered critical appraisals of Israel's lack of strategic acumen. 

The latest pummeling of Gaza seems equally foolish, as I argued a few days ago. But it's part of a long pattern rather than an isolated incident. And one obvious lesson is that U.S. leaders shouldn't allow U.S. Middle East policy to be overly influenced by an ally whose strategic judgment is often even worse than our own. 

In any case, if any of you want to re-read my original piece from 2009, you can find it here.

The myth of Israel's strategic genius

Posted By Stephen M. Walt Monday, January 19, 2009

Many supporters of Israel will not criticize its behavior, even when it is engaged in brutal and misguided operations like the recent onslaught on Gaza. In addition to their understandable reluctance to say anything that might aid Israel's enemies, this tendency is based in part on the belief that Israel's political and military leaders are exceptionally smart and thoughtful strategists who understand their threat environment and have a history of success against their adversaries. If so, then it makes little sense for outsiders to second-guess them. 

This image of Israeli strategic genius has been nurtured by Israelis over the years and seems to be an article of faith among neoconservatives and other hardline supporters of Israel in the United States. It also fits nicely with the wrongheaded but still popular image of Israel as the perennial David facing a looming Arab Goliath; in this view, only brilliant strategic thinkers could have consistently overcome the supposedly formidable Arab forces arrayed against them. 

War in Gaza = War Over Natural Gas?

By: ZeroHedge | Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We extensi vely documented that the wars in the Middle East and North Africa are largely about oil and gas. (Update: Iran has just started building its gas pipeline to Syria.) 

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky noted in 2009, gas may be a central reason for the war over Gaza as well: 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority. 

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21, 2007). 

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001). 

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine. 

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger. 

Map 1 

Bearing Witness

Exclusive photographs from inside besieged Gaza. 



GAZA CITY -- I left Cairo on Friday morning, trying to get into Gaza by all means possible. Other journalists and I went first to the border, but we were rejected by Egyptian intelligence. So we had to lay low in Rafah and get smuggled in through a tunnel. We were told at the time that Israel was targeting the tunnels -- I mean, they always target them, but during a war you can imagine they do that more frequently. 

The Gaza Disengagement in Hindsight

Max Boot | @MaxBoot11.21.2012 

Bret Stephens had a thought-provoking column Tuesday in theWall Street Journal in which he recanted his previous support for the Gaza pullout. It made me wonder whether I too was wrong to support Sharon’s disengagement in 2005.

Like Bret, I went back to look at what I wrote at the time. In August 2005 I published an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled, “Hamastan? Gaza Pullout Worth the Risk.” As the title implies, I freely acknowledged that Gaza would likely become a breeding ground of terrorism, possibly even of international terrorism. But I nevertheless argued that “on balance” the pullout was worth the risk because it would allow Israel “to regain the initiative — moral and political,” and that “if the Palestinians fire rockets from Gaza, Israel will be free to mount a military response — more free, in fact, when the threat comes from a sovereign Palestinian state than when it emanates from Israeli-occupied territory.”

Obviously I overestimated the extent to which Israel would get credit for its risky pullout. I overestimated, too, the willingness of the international community to support the Jewish state’s attempts to defend itself from terror. Much of the world continues to view Gaza as quasi-occupied territory because of Israel’s attempts to stop the importation of heavy weapons, and it continues to criticize Israel for supposedly “disproportionate” responses to terror. Such, at least, were the cries heard during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009; and they will likely grow louder the longer the current operation continues.

Briefing: Operation Pillar of Defense – An assessment of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas

November 20, 2012

by Michael Weiss

With Hamas-Israel hostilities now well into their seventh day, it’s worth analyzing the political and military conditions that led to this latest outbreak in warfare, what’s different about this campaign from previous ones, and what the likelihood is for an escalation, possibly an Israeli ground offensive into Gaza.

Jabari. Last year’s brokered exchange of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was seen to be a sign of reluctant cooperation between Israel and Hamas, although in retrospect it might have actually enabled the signal strike of Operation Defense of Pillar. Shalit was imprisoned before, during and after Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009, but the key Hamas figure involved in both his capture and release was Ahmad Jabari, the commander of the Qassam Brigade, whom the Israeli Air Force assassinated in a targeted air strike on Wednesday, precipitating the latest barrage of rocket attacks. Israeli columnist Aluf Benn has described Jabari as Israel’s “subcontractor” in Gaza, the man whom military intelligence relied on to ensure a tenuous (and frequently violated) truce. But the recent spate of rocket attacks into southern Israel, coupled with Shalit’s return home, likely impelled the IDF’s decision to target Jabari first in a show of renewed confidence: not only had he now become unnecessary, he had failed to adequately maintain a cold peace.

Israel's killer robot cars

Posted By John Reed Tuesday, November 20, 2012

As Israeli ground forces literally stand on the brink of invading Gaza, they are likely being aided by the world's first operational unmanned ground vehicle, the Guardium, which is already prowling the border between Israel and Gaza. 

Looking like a Smart Car on steroids, the Guardium is an unmanned armored car that carries more than 660-pounds of cameras, electronic sensors and weapons, according to the Israel Defense Forces' blog (notice how the blog says it has built-in protection against denial of service attacks, that's expensive). The killer go-kart can be operated in real time by a driver sitting in distant command center -- similar to the way armed drones are flown by far-off pilots -- or they can be programmed to "run patrol on predetermined routes without human intervention," according to the blog. (Human Rights Watch will love that last bit.) 

Brain-dead on both sides

Posted By Stephen M. Walt Friday, November 16, 2012

As I write this, the latest battle between Israel and Hamas has taken a worrisome turn. In response to Israel's assassination of the Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari and its latest pummeling of the Gaza strip, Hamas has launched missile strikes at Tel Aviv, and more alarmingly, Jerusalem. Here are my initial thoughts, with the caveat that events are moving rapidly and may quickly overtake this analysis. 

On the whole, this latest series of clashes reveals the utter lack of imagination and strategic foresight on both sides. It is a pointless exchange of violence that will not alter the basic strategic situation one iota. The fighting may enhance Netanyahu's chances for reelection, but he was likely to win anyway. It may further enhance Hamas' stature and underscore the impotence of the Palestinian Authority, but the latter's growing irrelevance was already understood, if not openly acknowledged. But it brings neither side closer to achieving its core objectives. 

The More Things Change

Advances in Israeli weaponry haven't led to advances in Israeli strategy. 

After almost four years of cyclical escalation and de-escalation in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas are at it again. And with both sides having conducted hundreds of airstrikes and rocket strikes against one another in the last six days, a major battle on the ground in Gaza is likely if diplomacy fails. 

But despite years of preparation on both sides and the introduction of new technologies -- Hamas's long-range rockets and Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, in particular -- the parameters of the conflict remain essentially unchanged. Israel has broadened its target set inside Gaza, while Hamas has widened the geographic scope of its operations to include the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas. But with preparations for a ground invasion currently underway, Operation Pillar of Defense could very well evolve into a "Cast Lead" redux. 

The Fighting in Gaza: Just “Round Two” in an Endless Series of Future Clashes and Battles?

Nov 20, 2012 

The rights and wrongs that have led to the current crisis between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza are scarcely irrelevant, but almost all of the different arguments on each side have only one outcome. They all help lead to a degree of strategic paralysis that ensures no stable solution is possible to the crisis, that future tensions will rise, that Palestinians will suffer more because they are weak, and that Israelis will not become more secure simply because they are strong. 

At best, a cease-fire will not offer anyone in Gaza a real future or stop some new form of asymmetric attack on Israel. The only question is how long a pause will last and when the new attacks will come. A land invasion and air strike might or might not buy more time. 

German military analysis of peak oil now available

Complete English translation of German military analysis of peak oil now available

by Rick Munroe

Last week the Bundeswehr posted an English version (112 pgs) of their extraordinary analysis of peak oil. The original German document (125 pgs) was approved for public release last November, yet neither the complete German version nor the partial English translation has attracted interest from mainstream media.

Now that a complete translation is available, it is hoped that media throughout the English-speaking world will see the Bundeswehr study for what it is: a comprehensive, realistic analysis of one of the most formidable challenges of this century, the (potentially imminent) peaking of global oil production.

The tone of the Bundeswehr document is consistent with written warnings issued by other military analysts and stands in stark contrast to the disinterest of elected officials, bureaucrats and industry officials. The latter sectors have routinely dismissed the concerns of peak oil analysts, but this thoroughly sourced examination (which was conducted by a team of highly credible military analysts from a leading Western nation and approved by their top brass) gives credence to the view that the peaking of global oil production constitutes a threat which appears to be as serious as it is inevitable.

It is hoped that mainstream media, government officials and civic leaders will now examine this unique study, noting especially the credibility of its authors and the gravity of their warnings. The fact that the Bundeswehr has made the effort to provide an English translation is the latest indication that rather than concealing this worrisome information, the German military continues to make every effort to provide it to a world which urgently needs to consider it.

As the Bundeswehr analysts politely point out, there seems to be an instinctive refusal to acknowledge our unprecedented dilemma (which perhaps explains why their study remains so ignored):

Gaining an illustrative picture of a subject is very much a matter of habit. When considering the consequences of peak oil, no everyday experiences and only few historical parallels are at hand. It is therefore difficult to imagine how significant the effects of being gradually deprived of one of our civilisation's most important energy sources will be. Psychological barriers cause indisputable facts to be blanked out and lead to almost instinctively refusing to look into this difficult subject in detail.

Peak oil, however, is unavoidable (p. 91).

Thanks to the Bundeswehr Future Analysis team for their thorough & insightful study. Credit also to their superior officers for releasing such a potentially controversial document and for now providing a complete translation.

Finally, thanks to researcher Johan Landgren in Sweden for alerting us to the new translation of this unprecedented document.

Five Myths about the Chinese Internet

The Great Firewall is neither great, nor a firewall. Discuss. 


Last week, Xi Jinping's chairmanship of the Communist Party was announced, and collectively, the Chinese Internet breathed a sigh of relief. Netizens rejoiced as the web returned to its normal speed, while censors, government officials, and Internet companies finally allowed themselves to stop fretting about making any missteps during the highly sensitive week-long, once-in-a-decade political meeting -- the 18th Party Congress -- which decided China's new leadership structure. 

Don’t box in the red team

It must be free to truly challenge the organization


Red teaming is a white light that takes on various characteristics as it shines through the prism of different organizations. Some teams focus on physical intrusions, while others strive for projections or emulations; and the cyber realm has ushered in a whole host of new challenges. None is “right” or “wrong.”

But as the community of interest pursues the incorporation of red teaming into joint doctrine over the next year, there is a danger that the concept may be unhelpfully described as a tool best used to emulate and understand an operating environment and its human terrain. If this happens, it will lead to the end of independent red teams, and perhaps the greater idea of red teaming as a whole.

Instead, we must spread the word that red teams serve commanders best when they scrutinize not just adversaries and partners, but also “blue” forces — including their own units. At its core, the red team mission is about challenging the organization to make it better; its motto is “per provocatio roboratus,” or “strengthened through the challenge.”

The cyber terror bogeyman

We have let our fears obscure how terrorists really use the Internet


About 31,300. That is roughly the number of magazine and journal articles written so far that discuss the phenomenon of cyber terrorism.

Zero. That is the number of people that who been hurt or killed by cyber terrorism at the time this went to press.

In many ways, cyber terrorism is like the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” when we obsess about shark attacks despite the fact that you are roughly 15,000 times more likely to be hurt or killed in an accident involving a toilet. But by looking at how terror groups actually use the Internet, rather than fixating on nightmare scenarios, we can properly prioritize and focus our efforts.

Part of the problem is the way we talk about the issue. The FBI defines cyber terrorism as a “premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs and data which results in violence against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” A key word there is “violence,” yet many discussions sweep all sorts of nonviolent online mischief into the “terror” bin. Various reports lump together everything from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent statements that a terror group might launch a “digital Pearl Harbor” to Stuxnet-like sabotage (ahem, committed by state forces) to hacktivism, WikiLeaks and credit card fraud. As one congressional staffer put it, the way we use a term like cyber terrorism “has as much clarity as cybersecurity — that is, none at all.”

First things first

November 20, 2012 

First Published: 22:36 IST(20/11/2012)
Last Updated: 22:40 IST(20/11/2012) 

There are no two opinions about the need and desirability of peace between India and Pakistan. It is the attainment of this that is the problem. Different panels, groups and Track 2s and Track 3s have, over the years, discussed all that can be done to lead to peace and normalcy. But nothing substantial has emerged from such endless talks at various venues. 

Invariably, the Siachen Glacier issue is cited as the one that is urgent, resolvable and doable as an important confidence building measure (CBM). If the two countries could unlock this then there would be a cascading effect on the relationship. The issue seems to have been discussed recently at one of the think-tank meetings where the main participants were from the armed forces of the two countries. A series of meetings had earlier been organised by the Atlantic Council of the US and the University of Ottawa. There are two documents doing the rounds. One on India-Pakistan Military CBMs and the other called the Siachen Proposals. 

Pax Indica: India and the World of the Twenty-first Century

Shashi Tharoor, Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century, (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2012), Pages: 456, Price: Rs. 799.

The title of Shashi Tharoor’s new book, Pax Indica, can mislead an unwary reader. The book does not offer a blueprint for India’s rise to imperial status in the current century. A more modest role is envisaged for India, that of helping to define the norms of tomorrow’s new networked world, write the rules and have a voice in their application. But the book is not really about this either. It is more an overview of India’s relations with its neighbours, South- East Asia, China, the US, the Arab countries, Africa, Europe, and Latin America, with separate chapters on India and the UN and Soft Power and Public Diplomacy, and a final chapter on Multi-Alignment as a “Grand Strategy” for India in the decades ahead. 

Tibet and India's Security: Himalayan Region, Refugees and Sino-Indian Relations


Publisher: Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA)
ISBN: 81-86019-99-5
Price: Rs. 375/- [Download E-Book]
Executive Summary

Task Force report led by PK Gautam( co-authors Jagannath Panda and Zakir Hussain) on Tibet and India’s Security : Himalayan Region, Refugees and Sino Indian Relations is an important contribution to religion and International Relations (IR). Two factors make Tibet important for India in today’s context: (a) the religious and cultural factors; (b) ecological factors. Report supports this with evidence. It argues that Tibet with Tibetan Buddhists provides better security than a Hanised Tibet. Key message is Tibetan refugees do not pose a security threat to India, however more transparent data base and cooperation with exiles on common religious issues is desired. 

India’s Neighbourhood: Challenges in the Next Two Decades


Publisher: Pentagon Security International
ISBN 978-81-8274-687-9
Price: Rs. 995/- [Order now]
About the Book

The chapters in the book take a prospective look at India's neighbourhood, as it may evolve by 2030. They underline the challenges that confront Indian policymakers, the opportunities that are likely to emerge, and the manner in which they should frame foreign and security policies for India, to maximise the gains and minimise the losses. 

The key findings that emerge from this volume are: the geopolitical situation in the neighbourhood is likely to change significantly due to uncertainties in the global economy, chronic instability in the Af-Pak region, increasing salience of external factors in regional politics, continuing anti-India sentiments in some of the countries, demographic pressures, growth in illegal migration, and adverse consequences of climate change. However, there are also signs of greater desire for economic integration, strengthening of democratic institutions in some countries, and emphasis on regional cooperation. While India may face increasing security challenges due to instability in certain countries, there will be an opportunity for it to better integrate its economy with the region. 

The contributors to the volume argue that in order to deal with the uncertainties in an effective manner, India has to fine-tune its diplomatic apparatus to proactively deal with emerging realities in the neighbourhood; systematically pursue policies for inclusive and equitable economic growth at home; build networks of interdependence with all neighbouring countries; significantly improve the quality of the country’s governance; take measures to deal with internal security situation effectively; build domestic consensus on key issues affecting India’s neighbourhood policy; sustain economic growth; adopt cooperative security approaches to deal with regional issues; and at the same time develop appropriate and robust defence capabilities to meet complex security challenges it is going to face in future.