27 December 2012

The Benghazi Report and the Diplomatic Security Funding Cycle

December 27, 2012

Stratfor

By Scott Stewart

On Dec. 18, the U.S. State Department's Accountability Review Board released an unclassified version of its investigation into the Sept. 12 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack, so the report was widely anticipated by the public and by government officials alike. 

Four senior State Department officials have been reassigned to other duties since the report's release. Among them were the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security; two of his deputy assistant secretaries, including the director of the Diplomatic Security Service, the department's most senior special agent; and the deputy assistant secretary responsible for Libya in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. 

The highly critical report and the subsequent personnel reassignments are not simply a low watermark for the State Department; rather, the events following the attack signify another phase in the diplomatic security funding cycle. The new phase will bring about a financial windfall for the State Department security budgets, but increased funding alone will not prevent future attacks from occurring. After all, plenty of attacks have occurred following similar State Department budgetary allocations in the past. Other important factors therefore must be addressed. 

Predictable Inquiries 

The cycle by which diplomatic security is funded begins as officials gradually cut spending on diplomatic security programs. Then, when major security failures inevitably beset those programs, resultant public outrage compels officials to create a panel to investigate those failures. 

The first of these panels dates back to the mid-1980s, following attacks against U.S. facilities in Beirut and Kuwait and the systematic bugging of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. These security lapses led to the formation of the Secretary of State's Advisory Panel on Overseas Security, chaired by former Deputy CIA Director Adm. Bobby Inman. The law that passed in the wake of the Inman Commission came to be known as the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986, which requires that an accountability review board be convened following major security incidents. 

US-India-Pakistan: The eternal triangle

Vikram Sood
27 December 2012

American President Barack Obama will soon be sitting with his team to prioritise his to-do-list for his legacy that will be intertwined with how he handles his country's strategic and national concerns. 

Domestically, the most important issue would be the 'fiscal cliff', where President Obama's climb up the hill is being constantly hobbled by the belligerent Republicans. The economic crisis in the US is deeper than one would normally want to admit but 2013 is going to be a difficult year for the US and consequently for the world as well. 

Externally, the Afghan quagmire continues, the deep seas of the Western Pacific have an assertive China, the bloodied sands of the Middle East provide neither solution nor solace, where the Arab Spring seems to have gone all wrong with the Salafists and Sunni Radicals of various hues beginning to take control from Tunisia to Syria. Of these, the two issues that will affect India most closely both in 2013 and later are the US economy and the manner and aftermath of US exit from Afghanistan. 

There have been other economic problems arising from the mismanaged banking and financial crisis following the crash of Lehman Brothers. The financial liabilities incurred after more than ten years of incessant wars in West Asia and Afghanistan adding to the coffers of the military-industrial-intelligence complex but did precious little for the rest of the economy. 

There is another looming crisis - the fate of the dollar. A decade ago, one ounce of gold could be had for US$ 250; today it has soared to $ 1,750 while the cost of silver has gone up from $ 4 to $ 34 per ounce. More people are shoring their assets in these two metals than in the past and globally the gold holdings have gone up from 10.5% in 2006 to 12.8% in 2012, holdings in other currencies have gone up from 38.4% to 44.4% while the dollar holdings have shrunk from 36.6% to 28.7% during the same period as economies have shifted to other currencies. 

If countries decide to settle their international obligations in currencies other than the $, the demand for the dollar would shrink pushing its value down further. Maybe this is a bit of a doomsday prediction but it would be unwise not to take these factors into consideration while assessing the future. Naturally, a continued decline of the world's largest economy will impact on India at a time when ours is finally showing signs of serious market and economic reforms so desperately needed in the immediate years ahead. 

President Obama's primary goal in Afghanistan is to extricate his country with as much dignity as possible. The US today has its foot caught in a trap and Pakistan has the key which it periodically threatens to throw away but desists after it is promised some financial compensation. Only very recently the US promised to release US $ 700 million from the Coalition Support Funds for Pakistan, also absolved the ISI of any hand in the Mumbai Terror and has encouraged Pak backed Taliban for negotiations in Paris even as sections of the Taliban continue to kill and assassinate. The US is the biggest donor to Pakistan and also the country that is disliked most in Pakistan. US munificence, and indulgence, towards Pakistan remains legendary and would be truly inexplicable but for self-induced excessive US dependency on Pakistan for the execution of its war on terror and now, equally, for its withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Stars, stripes and chakras: The future of US-India defence ties

Manohar Thyagaraj
27 December 2012

Two weeks ago, the US Senate passed an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act for 2013, asking the Pentagon to report on an approach for "normalising"the US defence trade and relationship with India, including discussions of co-production and co-development of defence systems. 
Seen in isolation, this is a statement of intent by Capitol Hill, in particular spearheaded by Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn, to provide some ballast on the defence relationship. In fact, this mirrors a quietly ongoing coalescence of the US government's notorious interagency process on the very same issue. 

This coming-together, a revolution of sorts in Washington's India orientation, has been sparked by the Carter initiative - led by Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, with Indian NSA Shivshankar Menon as his interlocutor. When taken together with the interest shown by Capitol Hill, the US now has a superstructure in place to look holistically at issues surrounding defence ties with Delhi, including India's long-expressed concerns about technology release. 

The November 6 election results conferred the blessing of continuity on President Obama's "Asian pivot". While the re-balancing of US strategic priorities in Asia will be happening regardless, India has a chance to shape this debate. 

There is not yet a uniform understanding in Washington as to what military capabilities India might need assistance from the US in developing. This is the kind of discussion that the interagency coalescence encouraged by the Carter initiative is intended to bolster. India could table a discussion on areas it deems national priorities, and has a forum to raise specific export control cases. 

From India's perspective, what it might want to request from the US in terms of co-development possibilities or technical assistance would depend on an in-depth assessment of the out-of-area contingency operations it anticipates conducting on its own or jointly with other countries over the long-term (20-25 years). 

The Role of Independent Civilian Consultants and Think Tanks in the Afghan and Iraq Wars

Dec 26, 2012 

Note: A shorter version of this commentary appeared in the Taking Exception section of the Washington Post on December 22, 2012 

I have long admired Rajiv Chandrasekaran's war reporting, which has consistently provided balance to the relentless "good news" line of public affairs officers and has shown the reality in the field. I was, however, disturbed by his Dec. 19 front-page article "Civilians held Petraeus's ear in the war zone," and how it questioned the role of independent civilian advisers to U.S. military commanders. 

As a civilian who has acted as an informal adviser on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I think it is critical to stress that a wide range of commanders as well as senior Defense and State Department advisers sought advice from a wide range of civilians - many of whom did not support the campaign plans then in use, call for more troops or emphasize military options over civilian options. 

The commanders in the field did so because they realized they needed different perspectives, challenges to conventional wisdom, and help in looking at the political, civil, and economic aspects of the war. They realized they needed constant challenges and outside criticism to avoid becoming trapped into fixed strategies, tactics, and ways of assessing the threat and progress in the war. 

Fred and Kim Kagan may have spent more time in Afghanistan than the rest of us, and may have focused more on military planning and options, but that reflected their deep concern for the U.S. military - whose members they had once taught at West Point - as well as their concern for their country and the Afghans. I have often disagreed with one or both over particular issues, but I never saw them act as ideologues, exploit their role as outside analysts or misuse their access for personal advancement. Nor did I see either exploit their relationship with Gen. David Petreaus or any other senior officer or official. 

They also were only two of a wide range of independent civilian consultants who were invited to come to Iraq and Afghanistan, assess the situation in the field, and provide independent advice. Many others were chosen specifically to focus on the civil side of the war, provide independent assessments of the course of the fighting and the intelligence effort, or challenge the metric and analyses being use by given commands. 

Maritime Capacity of India: Strengths and Challenges

24 December 2012
 Dr. P. K. Ghosh & Sripathy Narayan
The first decade of the 21st century witnessed the phenomena of the swift and significant emergence of Africa on the international scene. Known for over four decades as a continent ridden with poverty, diseases, wars and lack of economic and social development.








US India Pakistan - The Eternal Triangle

Issue Courtesy: MidDay Mumbai | Date : 27 Dec , 2012 


Al-queda cadres giving punishment to the informers 

President Barack Obama will soon be sitting with his team to prioritise his to-do-list for his legacy that will be intertwined with how he handles his country’s strategic and national concerns. 

The US needs Pakistan to withdraw from Afghanistan and Pakistan needs all the money it can get. 

Domestically, the most important issue would be the ‘fiscal cliff’, where President Obama’s climb up the hill is being constantly hobbled by the belligerent Republicans. The economic crisis in the US is deeper than one would normally want to admit but 2013 is going to be a difficult year for the US and consequently for the world as well. Externally, the Afghan quagmire continues, the deep seas of the Western Pacific have an assertive China, the bloodied sands of the Middle East provide neither solution nor solace, where the Arab Spring seems to have gone all wrong with the Salafists and Sunni Radicals of various hues beginning to take control from Tunisia to Syria. Of these, the two issues that will affect India most closely both in 2013 and later are the US economy and the manner and aftermath of US exit from Afghanistan. 

Afghan National Security Forces- Hiccups Continue


An effective Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is the main plank of the ongoing security transition in Afghanistan and critically influences the country’s political and economic transitions. However, the ANSF is struggling with the onerous task of assuming full responsibility for internal security by mid-2013 and overall security of the country post 2014. The current approved end-strength of the ANSF required for an effective security transition – is 352,000 personnel by December 2014, comprising 187,000 for the Afghan National Army (ANA) by December 2012, 157,000 for the Police (ANP) by February 2013, and 8,000 for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) by December 2014. 

As of September 30, 2012, the ANA had reached 182,209 soldiers in training or in fielded units, the ANP reached 147,158 police, and the AAF reached 6,224 airmen. The significant increase in the size of the ANSF has resulted in the fact that Afghans now constitute more than two-thirds of all those in uniform in Afghanistan. Approximately 68,000 U.S. forces now remain in Afghanistan; planning and negotiations continue to determine ISAF force level requirements post 2014. 

The ANSF are being increasingly tasked to assume responsibility for security in districts from which the NATO-ISAF troops are gradually withdrawing. The ANSF as of September 2012, are unilaterally conducting approximately 80 percent of total reported operations and are leading roughly 85 percent of these, although many of these operations are routine patrols. 

Additionally, the ANSF have started to expand security cover in areas where ISAF did not have an established presence; all 34 provinces are now in some stage of transition. While the number of ANSF personnel is growing steadily, they continue to be operationally and logistically challenged. 

At the Chicago NATO Summit and in the run-up to it, ISAF troop contributing nations and other donors had pledged to contribute approximately $3.6 billion annually (period 2015-17) for the build-up of ANSF. The Afghan government agreed to provide at least $500 million per year during the same period, with a commitment that it will progressively increase its contribution over time. 

The establishment of the ANSF as a reckonable force to the threats envisaged has been impacted by several factors other than the availability of external financial aid. Issues as such recruitment rate, insider attacks, ethnic composition, US drawdown policy, and equipment profile continue to impair its development. 

Buddhists Behaving Badly



What Zealotry is Doing to Sri Lanka 

August 2, 2012 

McGowan provides a fascinating account of the war's tragic, mounting equation, and he is doubtful that anything can save this country from its own internal flames. 

A Buddhist monk protesting in Colombo, 2010. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Courtesy Reuters) 

In Sri Lanka last September, a Sinhalese mob led by some 100 Buddhist monks demolished a Muslim shrine in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. As the crowd waved Buddhist colors, gold and red, a monk set a green Muslim flag on fire. The monks claimed that the shrine was on land that had been given to the Sinhalese 2,000 years ago -- an allusion to their proprietary right over the entire island nation, as inscribed in ancient religious texts. 

The Anuradhapura attack was not the only recent incident of Buddhists behaving badly in Sri Lanka. In April, monks led nearly 2,000 Sinhalese Buddhists in a march against a mosque in Dambulla, a holy city where Sinhalese kings are believed to have taken refuge from southern Indian invaders in a vast network of caves almost two millennia ago. The highly charged -- but largely symbolic -- attack marked a "historic day," a monk who led the assault told the crowd, "a victory for those who love the [Sinhala] race, have Sinhala blood, and are Buddhists." 

Such chauvinism is at odds with Western preconceptions of Buddhism -- a religion that emphasizes nonviolence and nonattachment -- but is in keeping with Sri Lanka's religious history. Militant Buddhism there has its roots in an ancient narrative called the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle), which was composed by monks in the sixth century. According to the Mahavamsa, the Buddha foresaw the demise of Buddhism in India but saw a bright future for it in Sri Lanka. "In Lanka, O Lord of Gods, shall my religion be established and flourish," he said. The Sinhalese take this as a sign that they are the Buddha's chosen people, commanded to "preserve and protect" Buddhism in its most pristine form. According to myth, a young Sinhalese prince in the second century BC armed himself with a spear tipped with a relic of the Buddha and led a column of 500 monks to vanquish Tamil invaders. In addition to defending his kingdom from mortal peril, the prince's victory legitimized religious violence as a means for national survival. 

Island Grabbing in Asia

Why the South China Seas are So Tense 

September 4, 2012 

Recently, a group of 34 legislators promised to vote against the UN Convention on the Law of The Seas, ensuring that the bill will not be ratified. Their move will make it harder for the United States to continue to build up a rules-based order in the South China Sea. It could also spell the end of treaties as a tool of U.S. national security policy. 

Recent rhetoric signals that the Japanese government is taking a tough stance on foreign policy. In reality, however, politicians and citizens alike are easily distracted by sideshows and seemingly incapable of crafting a cohesive defense strategy. When it comes to national security, Japan is its own worst enemy. 

A Map of Conflicts in the South China Sea (Sam Pepple / Sample Cartography). Click to enlarge

Last month, Japanese activists planted their country's flag on one of the Senkaku Islands (which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands), a chain claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan. The move sparked protests in China and inspired headlines in the West, but the provocation was hardly surprising. The three bodies of water in East Asia -- the Sea of Japan (bounded by Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Russia), the East China Sea (bordered by China and Japan's Ryukyu Islands), and the South China Sea (surrounded by Borneo, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam) -- are home to hundreds of disputed islands, atolls, and shoals. And in the last few years, the diplomatic and militaristic struggles to assert authority have become increasingly brazen. 

On one level, patriotism is making things worse. Japan's tussle with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, for example, is a touchstone for those in Japan who fear China's growing political and economic might. Likewise, South Korea's assertion of control over the Dokdo Islands (known as the Takeshima Islands in Japan) is viewed at home as a patriotic riposte to Japan's 40-year occupation of the peninsula. 

Changes and Challenges for China in 2013

Authors: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations Yanzhong Huang, Senior Fellow for Global Health Minxin Pei, Director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies, Claremont McKenna 

December 26, 2012 

This October, China's Eighteenth National Congress ushered in a new generation of leaders that will set the agenda for the second-largest economy in the world, provoking myriad questions about what we'll see out of the country in the coming year. CFR's Adam Segal predicts continued international concern for China's cyber policy, while CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy weighs its challenges of keeping "foreign policy front and center" against a heavy list of domestic concerns. Claremont McKenna's Minxin Pei adds that China will be forced to respond to calls for greater political openness, facing a delicate balancing act. CFR's Yanzhong Huang points out that despite China's highly publicized health-care achievements, reform hasn't fundamentally solved the problem of access and affordability. 
Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies

Now that Xi Jinping has been officially installed as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and the other six members of the Politburo Standing Committee have been named, the question is whether the new leadership will embrace a program of reform in the coming year, and if it does, whether it can actually follow through. There have been interesting signals on the domestic front--Xi's visit to Shenzhen, public statements on corruption, and calls for a simpler, less formal governance--that Xi wants to distance himself from Hu Jintao, at least on a symbolic level. There have also been signs that Internet restrictions are gradually being lifted: for the first time in months, Chinese netizens can search for Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and other top leaders' names on Weibo and other social media sites

Yet any dramatic change in Chinese cyber policy in the near term is unlikely. It had to be highly embarrassing that concerns for regime stability forced censors to block searches for China's own leaders during the Eighteenth Party Congress, but authorities see a relatively open domestic Internet as an important source of unfiltered information and a tool to guide public opinion. More than 60,000 officials and government agencies have accounts on Weibo. A more open domestic Internet is essential whether Xi turns out to be a genuine reformer or simply concerned with atmospherics. Besides, restrictions on information from the outside should be expected to remain in place. 

Pentagon Preps Stealth Strike Force to Counter China

12.26.12


F-22s and a B-2 fly over Guam in 2009. Photo: Air Force

The U.S. military has begun a staged, five-year process that will see each of its three main stealth warplane types deployed to bases near China. When the deployments are complete in 2017, Air Force F-22s and B-2s and Marine Corps F-35s could all be within striking range of America’s biggest economic rival at the same time. With Beijing now testing its own radar-evading jet fighters — two different models, to be exact — the clock is counting down to a stealth warplane showdown over the Western Pacific. 

The gradual creation of the U.S. stealth strike force is an extension of the Pentagon’s much-touted “strategic pivot” to the Pacific region, and echoes the much faster formation, earlier this year, of a similar (but only partially stealthy) aerial armada in the Persian Gulf. That team of F-22s, non-stealthy F-15s and specialized “Bacon” radio-translator planes was clearly meant to deter a belligerent Iran, although the Pentagon denied it. 

The announcements of new Pacific deployments of F-22s, F-35s and B-2s have come like a drumbeat in recent weeks. Early last month, 8th Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson, who controls the Air Force’s 20-strong B-2 fleet normally based in Missouri, said “small numbers” of his multi-billion-dollar batwing bombers would begin rotating into the Pacific and other regions starting next year. The rotations would last “for a few weeks, a couple of times a year,” Wilson told Air Force magazine.

For the B-2s, which are being heavily upgraded with new radars and communications, the planned deployments represent a return to form. Beginning in the early 2000s, B-2s frequently deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, occasionally accompanied by stealthy F-22s. But the Pacific rotations were tough on the tiny B-2 force. In 2008 one of the bombers crashed and burned at Andersen; two years later another B-2 suffered a serious engine fire at the remote island base that nearly destroyed the plane. 

The Air Force suppressed news of the second incident and quietly pulled the B-2s from the Pacific front line, replacing them with older B-52s. After a period of rest, the stealth bomber fleet is now ready to get back into the habit of operating overseas. “We’re going to put them into the ‘new normal,’” Wilson said. 

When the network dies

The Army lacks the battle drills that would help it fight on 
By Lt. Col. Michael J. Lanham 

Unprepared soldiers are ineffective soldiers, and the rise of the networked battle space has made this ancient wisdom no less true. 

It is curious, then, that when the Army practices operating in contested cyberspace environments, it does so largely in echelons above corps and not throughout the force. What exercises do take place generally understate the likely effects of network outages and overstate our ability to adapt to them. 

If we continue to avoid rigorous rehearsal for cyber attack, or fail to implement it at all levels, we are training to meet incompetent adversaries and setting the stage for improvised, ill-coordinated and ineffective responses to competent ones. 

Just as the Army has done for every other aspect of combat, it needs to develop a set of battle drills for such environments and work them into the standard training regimen at each echelon of command. These drills must include individual and collective tasks of the sort that would prepare soldiers, commanders and units to face many varieties of cyber events: short- and long-duration, point and pervasive, man-made and natural. To make this practical, we must also give units at all levels the modeling and simulation capabilities they need to hone their defenses, responses and training efforts. 

What We Do 

What are our current capabilities and willingness to conduct rigorous rehearsals of operations in contested cyberspace environments? 

Before addressing that explicit question, we should acknowledge that there are certainly concerns with authority to conduct rehearsals — unlike tankers skirmishing at the National Training Center, cyber warriors often hone their craft on the actual Internet — but I’ll defer such a discussion and presume there are safe, legal, moral and ethical ways of getting better at our jobs. 

We should also properly frame what we wish to accomplish. I’m going to borrow an idea from Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, a past commander of the 24th Air Force, his service’s component of U.S. Cyber Command. His vision of his command was that he and his airmen will provide “mission assurance,” not “information assurance” — that is, that his main goal is not to defend computers per se but rather to assure commanders that they can continue their missions in contested cyber environments. The Army uses different vocabulary, but it’s apparent that these two Cyber Command service components share a view. 

How to Equip the U.S. Military For Future Electronic Warfare

January 2013 
By Rich Sorelle 


As the U.S. military pivots away from counterinsurgency campaigns, it will confront different challenges and strategic environments. 

In Iraq, forces commanded the skies, and forward operating bases and computer systems remained secure. Coalition troops enjoyed freedom of movement. In Afghanistan, the U.S. military outmatches the Taliban. 

But we may lack these advantages in a future conflict. 

The next time around, the nation may see adversaries mining critical waterways or attacking offshore staging areas with long-range missiles, all in an anti-access effort designed to make U.S. power projection very costly. Likewise, area denial tactics, such as radio frequency (RF) jamming, may hamstring U.S. forces already in theater. Taken together, anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) is a serious challenge that must be addressed.

In response, the Navy and Air Force have adopted “air-sea battle.” The concept entails highly coordinated, cross-domain operations designed to “disrupt the adversary’s intelligence collection and command and control used to employ A2/AD weapons systems; destroy or neutralize A2/AD weapons systems within effective range of U.S. forces; and defeat an adversary’s employed weapons to preserve essential U.S. joint forces and their enablers,” according to the air-sea battle office.

Much of this involves employing the right mix of kinetic weapons. But planners also need to appreciate the critical role of electronic warfare, both in how U.S. adversaries have rolled it into their A2/AD strategies and how our military must use it to maintain freedom of movement and force projection. 

Now, it’s tempting, given the current budgetary environment, for defense planners to look to electronic warfare systems to make cuts. But that would be shortsighted. The electronic warfare community, both industry and government, needs to rally and make clear what is at stake. There will be no air-sea battle without the tools necessary to control the electromagnetic spectrum across land, sea, air, space and cyberdomains.

Natural Disasters Uncover Ongoing Emergency Communications Problems

January 2013 
By Valerie Insinna 


Recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and the Washington, D.C., metro–area derecho revealed vulnerabilities in first responder communication networks and equipment. 

Sandy knocked out wireless phone services in major metropolitan areas. As many as 25 percent of people in affected locations lost cell phone service. Agencies in different jurisdictions have long sought interoperable radios, but Sandy showed what happens when the infrastructure those agencies rely on is destroyed. 

Ten years ago, the situation was even worse. First responders struggled with inoperable devices and a lack of interagency communication during the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to develop a National Emergency Communications Plan that established a minimum level of interoperability. 

Although there have been improvements since then, emergency communications remain challenged by commercial outages that sometimes leave the public without a way to call 911. 

Satellite company executives said they are eager to step up and offer their products as an alternative to terrestrial wireless networks and cell towers. They contend that such services would give existing infrastructure added resiliency. 

“In the federal world, I find so many agencies feel they have solved the problem by ordering a circuit from Carrier A and then a circuit from Carrier B,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of government markets for Hughes Network Systems, a satellite service provider. But “Carrier A [and] Carrier B [are located] right next to each other. Completely vulnerable. ... You have no [real] diversity. You have vendor diversity.”

First responders, however, point out that satellite services are prohibitively expensive and have more rigid service plans. 

Special Operations Forces Seek Clarity on Their Future Role

By Sandra I. Erwin 


The nation’s most skilled terrorist killers want policymakers in Washington to acknowledge that a softer approach is needed in the war against extremist groups.

U.S. Special Operations Command leaders believe it is time to move beyond the Stanley McChrystal “speed of war” era, says Linda Robinson, a scholar who specializes in special operations forces and works closely with U.S. SOCOM officials.

Now retired, Army Gen. McChrystal was the former commander of Joint Special Operations Command and head of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. He is regarded as the chief architect of the contemporary U.S. approach to counterterrorism, which is based on drone strikes, and capturing and killing enemies in clandestine attacks.

The hunter-killer approach has worked for the past decade and reached its apex with the Osama Bin Laden raid in May 2011, Robinson argues in a recent essay in Foreign Affairs.

U.S. SOCOM Commander Adm. William McRaven is ready to move forward to a new era of fewer raids and more long-term partnerships with friendly nations’ militaries and civilian agencies, she says. The so-called “indirect” approach to combating terrorists, Robinson says, is more effective in the long term and will help U.S. special operations forces regain some balance after a stressful decade of nonstop fighting.

“Many people in the special operations community tell me there ought to be a pivot away from direct to indirect approach, relying on partnerships,” Robinson says in a Dec. 18 conference call with reporters. “This is a perfect moment in the post Bin Laden era to pivot away from the extreme focus on drones and unilateral raids to let the special operations community use an indirect approach.”

“McRaven is serious about this,” she says. He has become alarmed by U.S. overreliance on drone attacks, Robinson adds. “This is really the fork in the road that Washington faces. Will it take a more balanced approach or not?”

Comparing Harvard apples with JNU oranges


Published: December 27, 2012
Ajay Gudavarthy Nissim Mannathukkaren 

The Hindu While Indian universities seek excellence, treating exercises such as the Times' ranking as sacrosanct is also problematic given vastly different material realities and starting points. The picture is of Madras University. Photo: R. Ragu 

Any ranking of global educational institutions will be problematic if it does not take into account disparities in resources between rich and poor countries 

Indian academe is anguished that not a single Indian university has made it to the top 200 universities of the world in the recent Times Higher Education rankings. However, the debate so far has missed many points. 

First, any discussion of evaluation of global educational standards and rankings cannot ignore the vast disparities in resources between the rich and poor parts of the world. An overwhelmingly large part of global knowledge production is concentrated in the developed world. 

In 2009, Drexel University president Constantine Papadakis was the highest paid university president in America with an annual compensation of $49,12,127. That is around Rs.27 crore for running a university! Even the highest-paid public university president earned nearly $2 million as salary in 2011. 

The endowment of Harvard University is around $31 billion — more than 1/4 th of the GDP of Tamil Nadu. Research support in developed countries runs into hundreds of millions. As Times itself recognises, “income is crucial to the development of world-class research.” 


Most in the U.S. 

Is it then surprising that of the top 200 universities, 76 are in the United States and 196, no less, in the developed countries (two from China, and one each from South Africa and Brazil are the only ones from the developing countries)? [76 from the U.S. and 196 in all from the developed countries. This includes the 76 from the U.S.] The crisis afflicting universities is thus, not an Indian phenomenon alone, but generalised across the “Third World.” 

Second, while resources are crucial, they should not become an excuse for the abysmal standards of Indian universities. Instead the debate has to be extended, from merely technical solutions like establishing comprehensive universities or addressing student-teacher ratio, to the kind of academic culture that we have nurtured. 

The danger to women lurks within us

Published: December 27, 2012
Praveen Swami 

Even as public anger on rape mounts, it is important to understand that policing is a small part of the problem — and can only be a small part of the solution 

“I ripped away at this and that and the other, the others going haw haw haw still,” recalled Alex, the hyper-violent teenage protagonist of Anthony Burgess’ masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, “and real good horror show groodies they were that then exhibited their pink glazzies, O my brothers, while I untrussed and got ready for the plunge. Plunging, I could hear slooshy cries of agony”. “Then,” he went on, “there was like quiet, and we were full of hate, so we smashed what was left to be smashed — typewriter, lamp chairs.” “The writer veck and his zheena were not really there, bloodied and torn and making noises,” Alex concluded. “But they’d live”. 

Following last week’s hideous assault on a New Delhi resident and her boyfriend, few Indians will need a dictionary of the teenage slang Burgess invented to grasp the horror of this passage — without doubt the most searing description of gang rape in the English language canon. 

The text, though, is also of historical significance. In 1962, when Burgess published A Clockwork Orange — in part a working-through of the gang rape of his first wife — feminist campaigns against sexual violence were beginning to garner momentum. Burgess was hostile to efforts to remake masculinity, seeing them through his Catholic ideological prism as assaults on god’s domain and free will; his Alex was redeemed by a quasi-mystical encounter with the idea of fatherhood. 

Battle against sexual violence 

Yet, we now know, sexual violence against women can be successfully fought. Figures derived from the United States Justice Department’s authoritative National Crime Victimization Survey — designed to capture rape cases which do not make it into the criminal justice system — show the incidence fell from 2.8 per 1,000 in 1979 to 0.4 per 1,000 in 2004. 

There are important lessons in this experience. In particular, the limits of solutions that centre around policing need to be clearly understood. The decline in rape in the U.S. has mainly come about not because policing has become god-like in its deterrent value, but because of hard political and cultural battles to teach men that when a woman says no, she means no. 

Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle: Biggest Indigenous Defence Project


The nearly $10 billion Indian Army’s Futuristic ICV project is already the largest indigenous defence programme. The FICV project has been classified under the "Buy & Make” category mentioned in DPP-2011. The vendors for Indian Army’s FICV project will be shortlisted on the basis of technical, functional and commercial aspects, and only local Indian firms can bid. However, local firms can opt for technology tie-ups with foreign companies. It will help develop a whole eco-system of small and medium sized companies as suppliers to the winners of the contract. The FICV development will provide a big boost to India’s pursuance of self-reliance and indigenisation in the form of a robust domestic defence industrial base. 

The backbone of the Indian Army’s ICVs is the Russian-designed BMP (‘Sarath’ BMP-II) series which are being made by OFB since its induction in 1980. Approx, 1900 ICVs BMP-2/2K are in service with the IA and are likely to remain operational till 2017. The IA is worried about its operational capability, particularly in terms of rapid deployment post the 2017 scenario. Thus, the FICV project is a strategic and critical programme which will define IA’s mobility, deployability and lethality in the future to come and its ability to execute its proactive strategy. 

The FICV project envisages 70:30 allocations to the winner and the runners up of the contract with an 80:20 funding distribution by the Govt and industry respectively. The Army has identified a need of nearly 2600 ICVs over 20 years with the following specifications: 

(a) Weight of around 20 tonnes so that it can be transported by air and other means 
(b) Strike power of a 45 tonne MBT including a rapid fire cannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun, grenade launcher and an anti-tank missile 
(c) To be operated by a three man crew consisting of the commander, gunner and driver with an additional capacity to carry seven fully equipped infantrymen 
(d) Fully amphibious and all terrain capability for high mobility to keep pace with armour 
(e) Buy and Make (Indian) category, open only to domestic firms 

The Abhay ICV developed by DRDO will act as a technology demonstrator based on which Future ICVs can be designed and developed. The success of the indigenous Abhay project has led to the creation of technology base and know-how for the envisaged development of FICV in PPP mode. The major sub-systems where the Abhay project has shown remarkable progress are the: Track, Hull and Turret. The FICV project can be touted as the biggest example of PPP to date and has opened the doors for a viable participation from private industry. The MoD needs to capitalise on this great opportunity to involve the private sector and provide IA with the best equipment of its kind in the world. The basic parameters of policy in form of DPP 2011, funding allocation, contract risk-reward mechanisms, proven technology demonstrators and order commitments from the Armed forces are all in place to convert the opportunity into a huge success story. 

Patriotism is a funny word now

Author: R Hariharan 

It didn’t matter if one were a student, journalist or a businessman. When the time came in 1962, we all offered our services to the country. Such was the overriding spirit of nationalism which drove us at that time. Now, things have drastically changed 

The 50th anniversary of the 1962 India-China war this year, roused a lot of passions in the country. Much of it was hot air, interspersed with some critical analyses of the war and its aftermath. The analyses focused on the strategic inadequacies of the national leadership, in handling national security, that continues to this day. Even the national leaders’ suspicion of the Armed Forces’ leadership still persists, as seen in Parliament during the General VK Singh episode. 

But the 1962 war is unique in the way it aroused the feeling of patriotism across the nation. Youths quit their jobs to join the Army by the hundreds when its reputation had taken a beating at the hands of the Chinese Army. I was one of those who decided to do so in a matter of minutes, with a casualness that astounds me to this day. I was then working as a sub-editor at the Press Trust of India in what was then Bombay. Journalism was my chosen career. I had worked for two years to earn enough to finance my study of journalism at Madras University. I had done an apprenticeship with a newspaper and loved the smell of fresh copies of newspaper spewed out of the rotary machines. Working in a news agency had its own challenges as there were deadlines to be met every two hours. 

Our family was steeped in the Swadeshi movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s charisma — with a few relatives, including my father, even courting imprisonment during the freedom struggle. The youthful charm of Jawaharlal Nehru had mesmerised the newly independent nation and I was happy to be a victim. I remember being impressed with the Cheshire cat smile of Chou-en Lai as he paraded in the company of Nehru in Chennai, while shouts of “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai” rent the air. 

I was editing the ticker tape messages as they trickled in at the Reuters desk at the PTI office in Flora Fountain when the Portuguese Army fell to the onslaught of the Indian Army in Goa in 1961. Fifty one years later, I still remember the proudest moment when Reuters beamed worldwide the shortest message in my journalistic career: “Indian Army captures Goa”. The three of us in the graveyard shift toasted the Indian Army with Duke’s Cola (prohibition ruled Bombay those days). 

But when the very same Army failed to live up to its reputation in 1962, we were angry at the national leadership under Nehru for the failure. In particular, then Defence Minister Krishna Menon, the bête noire of journalists of that period, was branded a Grade A villain. Our faith in Nehru’s leadership took a beating along with that of the Indian Army’s reputation. 

The future of US-India defence ties

Stars, stripes and chakras
by Manohar Thyagaraj 

TWO weeks ago, the US Senate passed an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act for 2013, asking the Pentagon to report on an approach for “normalising” the US defence trade and relationship with India, including discussions of co-production and co-development of defence systems.

Seen in isolation, this is a statement of intent by Capitol Hill, in particular spearheaded by Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn, to provide some ballast on the defence relationship. In fact, this mirrors a quietly ongoing coalescence of the US government’s notorious interagency process on the very same issue.

This coming-together, a revolution of sorts in Washington’s India orientation, has been sparked by the Carter initiative — led by Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, with Indian NSA Shivshankar Menon as his interlocutor. When taken together with the interest shown by Capitol Hill, the US now has a superstructure in place to look holistically at issues surrounding defence ties with Delhi, including India’s long-expressed concerns about technology release. 

The November 6 election results conferred the blessing of continuity on President Obama’s “Asian pivot”. While the re-balancing of US strategic priorities in Asia will be happening regardless, India has a chance to shape this debate.

There is not yet a uniform understanding in Washington as to what military capabilities India might need assistance from the US in developing. This is the kind of discussion that the interagency coalescence encouraged by the Carter initiative is intended to bolster. India could table a discussion on areas it deems national priorities, and has a forum to raise specific export control cases.

From India’s perspective, what it might want to request from the US in terms of co-development possibilities or technical assistance would depend on an in-depth assessment of the out-of-area contingency operations it anticipates conducting on its own or jointly with other countries over the long-term (20-25 years).

The immediate future of the defence relationship will be measured along two fronts: first — the health of the defence trade, which includes not just Indian procurements of US defence equipment, but also co-production and co-development as long-term goals.

Made by patriarchy



While women’s lack of safety is a societal problem, the state makes it worse 

The fact that there exists a gender bias in a patriarchal society is beyond contest. Also the fact that it leads to unequal opportunity in all spheres is a foregone conclusion. The debate starts at the point where a perpetual cycle of subjugation begins. The stage is set. From yearning for a male child (which includes, but is not limited to, getting rid of the potential female ones), to giving him more of everything, we raise men to believe they are superior to women. 

The economic might of the male is used as the most powerful weapon against women. It’s an unequal playing field from the word go. Denied equal access to opportunity, women in this society are unable to match men economically, further perpetuating their inferiority complex. Women are okay with being treated as second-class citizens, and put up with everything from domestic abuse to everyday “eve” teasing to being denied equal pay for equal work. Till she is married, a woman bows to her father, thereafter to her husband her son. She goes on to raise daughters, passing on the same inferiority complex to them. At school, the cycle of unequal opportunity continues at the behest of teachers, themselves products of patriarchy. 

One half of our human resource is relegated to the back benches. Certain men (I am trying to avoid generalisation) assume it is their right to tease, grope, abuse and inflict sexual violence on the opposite sex. As they would, and do, to stray animals. The fact that they do this with impunity is where the issue moves into the realm of governance. From being a societal issue of gender bias it becomes a systemic problem of governance and law-and-order. It’s at this point that a patriarchal society turns into a patriarchal state. 

All the mechanisms of the state reflect society’s apathy. The recent Delhi gangrape and its aftermath is a case in point. 

One cannot reason with the mentality of someone bent on committing a crime (pardon the focus on crimes against women, in the present context), but one can and should instil the fear of retribution and punitive action. This is exactly where the state fails. The track record of the police, an instrument of the state’s prevention and enforcement mechanism, is abysmal on both counts. The citizen-police ratio is not ideal, making the prevention mechanism ineffective. Their enforcement of the law (archaic at times) is also questionable and inadequate. An average woman approaches a policeman with trepidation and as a last resort. The policeman, a product of patriarchy, has neither the training nor the will to be gender sensitive. 

STUDY IN CONTRASTS

Democracy has to be redefined to suit the times 
Surendra Munshi 

Tahrir Square: Wait for the moment 

A contrasting situation exists with respect to democracy in the present world. While there is encroachment of politics in different spheres of life in some parts of the world, there is withdrawal from politics in other parts. 

For those of us who live in West Bengal, the manner in which politics exists everywhere is a daily experience. In fact, it has been argued that the reason the Left Front could hold on to power for such a long time in spite of the state having declined economically during its rule is because politics had encroached upon different spheres of life. The economic and the social spheres had lost their autonomy. An increasing informalization of the economy, along with the strong political organization of the ruling party, had contributed to political stability. The situation does not seem to have improved in this respect. A different ruling party is achieving the same result even though it is less strongly organized. 

Contrast this with the retreat of politics from the daily life of citizens in other parts of the world. It has been noted that in affluent societies, the insulation of the people from politics has gone far except for the periodic elections. People seem to be withdrawing from an active engagement with politics in Europe, North America and Japan. Owing to the disillusionment that arises mainly from dissatisfaction with the political leadership, there has been a tendency to find solace in the private world. 

“Politics”, in its original sense in Western thought, is undermined as much by the intrusion of politics in different spheres of life as by its retreat. Politics tends to be associated with the unprincipled quest of politicians for power and personal gains. Originally, “polis” or “civitas” related principally to citizens. Governance of this community was of great importance to both Plato and Aristotle. In Politics, Aristotle begins with the following observation: “Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good.” The present devaluation of politics, now that it has lost its positive meaning, is a significant challenge to democratic societies all over the world. The democratic promise, after all, is the promise of a good life, not for one or some but for people as a whole. 

Mind the pitfalls on this road to peace


Published: December 27, 2012
Radha Kumar 


AFGHANISTAN MON AMOUR: With strong ties with the Karzai government, and good relations with the peace process facilitators, India should seek to be in the consultation mechanism. In this picture, French police guard the entrance of the hotel in Chantilly, 50 km north of Paris, where Afghan officials met Taliban rebels last week. Photo: AP 

Some proposals for an agreement with the Taliban could create misgivings in India as well as among opposition and civil society groups within Afghanistan 

As we approach closer to 2014, negotiations with the Taliban are gaining importance over other tracks, such as reconciliation and regional relations. To some extent this development was predictable: no successful transition/exit, however low the bar was set, would be possible without settling the Taliban question in one way or another. The military route failed: it remains to be seen whether the negotiations route can work. 

Two recent events give an indication of the pros and cons for negotiations: the talks with the Taliban in France a week ago, and a leaked High Peace Council proposal entitled “A Roadmap for 2015,” dated November 2012. The Chantilly talks offered an opportunity for the Taliban to put forward their views publicly, and can be seen as representing a current but not immutable position. On the plus side, Taliban spokesmen, apparently representing Mullah Omar, said they were willing to work with other Afghan parties, might accept the present government structure, and would accept girls’ schools run in an “Islamic way.” On the minus side, they want to rewrite the Constitution, “accept” the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and, most likely, dominate newly established Afghan institutions.