4 January 2013

Rising Powers, Rising Tensions: The Troubled China-India Relationship

Posted on January 3, 2013

pp. 99-108 | doi: 10.1353/sais.2012.0030 

Abstract: Half a century after China and India fought a bloody Himalayan war, the two demographic titans have gained considerable economic heft and are drawing increasing international attention. Their rise highlights the ongoing shifts in global politics and economy. This growth has been accompanied by rising bilateral tensions, with Tibet remaining at the core of their divide and India’s growing strategic ties with the U.S. increasingly rankling China. Even as old rifts persist, new issues have started to emerge in the relationship, including China’s resurrected claim to the sprawling northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, almost three times larger than Taiwan. Booming bilateral trade has failed to subdue their rivalry. Although in 1962 China set out, in the words of Premier Zhou Enlai, to “teach India a lesson,” the real lesson that can be drawn today is that the war failed to achieve any lasting political objectives and only embittered bilateral relations. China has frittered away the political gains it made by decisively defeating India on the battleground—the only war it has won under communist rule despite involvement in multiple military conflicts since 1950. In fact, as military tensions rise and border incidents increase, the China-India relationship risks coming full circle. World history attests that genuine efforts at political reconciliation and bridge building can achieve more than war. This essay argues that the future of the Asian economic renaissance and peace hinges on more harmonious relations between the important powers, especially China and India. 

A fast-rising Asia has become pivotal in global geopolitical change. Asian policies and challenges now actively shape the international security and economic environments, while Asia’s rise serves as an instigator of global power shifts. Asia, paradoxically, bears the greatest impact of such power shifts. Consequently, the specter of a power imbalance looms large in Asia. At a time when it is politically in transition, Asia is also troubled by growing security challenges, apparent from the resurfacing of Cold War-era territorial and maritime disputes. 

Against this background, the tense relationship between the world’s two most-populous countries holds significant implications for international security and Asian power dynamics. As China and India gain economic heft, they are drawing ever more international attention. However, their underlying strategic dissonance and rivalry over issues extending from land and water to geopolitical influence usually attract less notice. 

Four Surprises That Could Rock Asia in 2013

Are we paying attention to the wrong crises? 

As the world's center of economic gravity shifts from the Atlantic to the Pacific, it's moved from a region of enduring peace to one of pervasive friction. Last spring, China and the Philippines nearly came to blows over a small shoal in the South China Sea. In mid-December, Japan dispatched eight fighter planes after a small Chinese plane entered Japanese airspace, near a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea. North Korea tested another missile in mid-December, and appears to be preparing for a third nuclear test. Peace between India and Pakistan remains elusive, while Indonesia and the Philippines continue to wrestle with Islamic terrorism. 

But there are quieter threats to Asia, potentially more explosive than a North Korean missile. Here are four underappreciated threats to the world's most populous region: 

Taiwan Independence 

Since President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008, Taipei and Beijing have improved ties and deepened their economic integration: cross-strait trade reached $127.6 billion in 2011, an increase of more than 13 percent from 2010. Some national security experts misinterpret this trend, thinking that growing economic interdependence will overwhelm factors pushing the two sides apart, and that interdependence will provide Beijing with leverage it can use to compel unification. But while Taiwan's businesspeople enjoy closer ties with China, the average Taiwanese voter continues to move toward independence. Over the last 20 years, the portion of citizens of Taiwan identifying as "Taiwanese" has increased from 17.6 percent of those polled in 1992 to a whopping 53.7 percent today; those identifying as "Chinese" has declined over the same period from 25.5 percent to just 3.1 percent today. Support for independence has nearly doubled over the last two decades, from 11.1 percent to 19.6 percent. Support for immediate or eventual unification, meanwhile, has more than halved, from 20 percent in 1992 to 9.8 percent in 2012. 

Daily Times op-ed hits the mark on Pakistani Taliban

December 30, 2012 10:48 AM 
By Bill Roggio

It isn't often that I read an op-ed and say to myself "I wish I wrote that," especially when the op-ed addresses the complicated issues of the Long War in general, and the Pakistani Taliban. The op-ed below, from Pakistan's Daily Times, is remarkable for its clarity and the astuteness of its observations, particularly on the Taliban's gaming of the Pakistani political class, and the relations between the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda. I feel as if the writers picked my brain for this one. Kudos to Daily Times; I can honestly say I agree with 100% of what is written below. Emphasis is mine: 

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) seems to be on a political-strategic offensive these days. Through well timed approaches to the media, first through a letter written by a senior Punjabi Taliban leader Asmatullah Muawiya some days ago, and now a video showing TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud sitting with reportedly estranged deputy Waliur Rehman, the TTP has sought to dispel any notion of differences or splits within the movement as speculated in the media in recent days. Also, the purpose of these initiatives appears to be to pose as an organisation prepared for talks with the government for peace. However, closer examination of the conditionalities attached by the TTP to any proposed talks indicate that the whole exercise is a non-starter and probably only aimed at exploiting the divisions in the polity and society at large on the approach to be taken to the Taliban menace. Hakeemullah Mehsud has said yes to talks, no to laying down their arms unless and until Pakistan's laws and constitution are recast on what the TTP considers correct Islamic lines, i.e., according to their own narrow interpretation of Sharia. Not only that, in a flip on what he considers US diktat that the military and government follow, for which he cites so-called broken deals with the TTP in the past, his own diktat centres on breaking ties with the US, stopping 'interference' in Afghanistan, and concentrating (waging war against?) India instead. The craziness of this diatribe can be demonstrated by reference to the fact that it was the Taliban who consistently violated deals struck with the government and military in the past, using the breathing space provided by these abortive agreements for consolidating and extending their strength. The timing of the release of the video is also something to contemplate. It follows three major actions by the Taliban in recent days: the attack on the Peshawar airport, the assassination of Bashir Bilour, and the kidnapping of 22 paramilitary soldiers after an assault on check posts. These attacks demonstrated the capability of the Taliban to strike high profile well guarded targets even as the territory they control has shrunk over time because of the military and security forces' campaigns. Hakeemullah goes on in the video to say that they assassinated Bashir Bilour because he had made himself a legitimate target by his consistent resistance to the Taliban and all they stood for. He said their struggle was however not against any individuals but the democratic system and all who support it since they consider it is un-Islamic. But the most chilling message in the video is when Hakeemullah asserts that they would follow the lead of the Afghan Taliban after the withdrawal of the US/NATO from Afghanistan by 2014 because the TTP, Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda are one. Then comes the ultimate feather in the terrorist cap. Hakeemullah proudly claims he and his comrades in the TTP are prepared to have their heads cut off for al Qaeda. 

We owe a vote of thanks to Hakeemullah Mehsud for vindicating our long held position that the nexus amongst the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda and its affiliated groups is an undeniable fact of life that can only be ignored at our own peril. Now having been offered this incontrovertible proof of the Taliban on both sides of the western border and al Qaeda being one and the same thing, one hopes the foolishness about 'good' and 'bad' Taliban can be relegated where it belongs: in the dustbin. Unfortunately though, the TTP is playing cleverly on the divisions within our polity and society, proof of which can be found in the divergent reactions to the TTP conditional and unacceptable offer of talks on their dictated terms. Without falling for these diversionary and divisive tactics, it would be in the fitness of things if the elected and other political forces were to unite on a consensus to take definitive action against this existential threat to the state and society. For this purpose, the expected meeting between ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and President Asif Ali Zardari to try to achieve such a consensus will be closely and anxiously watched by all those who want to see the back of the terrorists.

The Plan to Stop Green-on-Blue Violence

The Pentagon’s secret PowerPoint on Afghan insider attacks. 

According to the Pentagon's December 2012 Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, "green on blue" attacks -- incidents in which members of the Afghan security forces attack NATO coalition soldiers -- "increased sharply" last year. At least 52 coalition soldiers died as a result of at least 37 green-on-blue attacks in 2012. A recently declassified set of slides produced by U.S. Central Command, published below and made public here for the first time, illustrates some of the steps that the U.S. military has taken to defeat "insider threats" -- and why "green on blues" are so difficult to prevent. 

The Centcom slides identify four types of threats: "Infiltration," when insurgents join the ANSF with the intent to attack, spy, or create mistrust; "Co-opting," when insurgents use "intimidation, blackmail, or connections" to persuade an existing ANSF member to conduct an attack; "Mimicking," when insurgents use stolen uniforms or forged ID cards to attack ISAF soldiers; and "Destabilizers," ANSF soldiers who (often due to "stress, mental instability, or... drug use") attack ISAF soldiers without having been influenced by insurgents. 

Centcom's ANSF Screening and Monitoring Timeline shows a robust -- if belated -- effort to quantitatively monitor each soldier in the Afghan army. Screening was hampered because a NATO intelligence-sharing agreement with the Afghan government wasn't reached until March 2008, and the ANSF biometrics program was not officially established until September 2009. In response to insider attacks, the Afghan Ministry of Defense began extensively ramping up its counterintelligence program in late 2010. 

Troublingly, some other basic steps were not undertaken until late in the war effort. The document reports that in May 2011, "10,000 ANSF uniforms [were] removed from bazaars," but it does not elaborate on how and why they were there; or how many uniforms remain available for purchase by non-soldiers who might attempt "Mimicking" attacks. 

Obama’s New Year’s Resolution: More Drone Strikes

Air Force technicians perform maintenance on a Predator drone in Iraq, November 2007. Photo: U.S. Air Force

It’s barely three days into 2013, and the Obama administration’s lethal campaign of drone strikes has resumed in earnest. Missiles fired by remotely piloted planes struck targets in Pakistan and Yemen three times in the past several hours, killing several people, including two prominent militant commanders. 

In Pakistan’s South Waziristan province, at least 4 MQ-1 Predators or MQ-9 Reapers operated by the CIA killed a Pakistani Taliban commander, Maulvi Nazir, according to media reports that cite unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials. Nazir had struck a detente with the Pakistani government but, according to drone watcher Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal, maintained ties to al-Qaida and attacked U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The drones fired on Nazir’s vehicle, killing him and at least five others. 

A separate drone strike on a different vehicle in North Waziristan shortly thereafter brought the death toll to 15, CNN reports. The New York Times reports that the identities of those killed in the second attack “were not immediately known.” Thousands of miles away and several hours later, a drone strike in Yemen killed Moqbel Ebad Al Zawbah, a “leading al-Qaida figure,” and two of his allies, al-Jazeera English tweeted

Welcome to 2013, yet another year of the drone. Senior Obama officials recently signposted the indefinite character of the drone campaign: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta heralded further strikes “in areas beyond the reach of effective security and governance,” as he put it in a November speech, even beyond Pakistan and Yemen, probably into destabilized African countries. Those strikes kill an untold number of civilians

The Nudgy State

How five governments are using behavioral economics to encourage citizens to do the right thing. 

In the January/February issue of Foreign Policy, behavioral economist Richard Thaler urges governments to "apply behavioral science to find solutions to persistent problems." Here are five places that are already doing just that. 


United States 

U.S. President Barack Obama gave behavioral policymaking its highest profile endorsement yet in 2009 by appointing Harvard legal scholar and Thaler's Nudge coauthor Cass Sunstein to run the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. As "regulation czar," Sunstein was given a wide mandate to apply cost-benefit analyses to programs including the new health-care law and the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Sunstein, who stepped down last summer, was never popular with conservatives, who saw the "libertarian paternalism" of Nudge as nanny-statism in disguise. 

From a public point of view, the most visible of the reforms championed by Sunstein may have been the transformation of the FDA's food pyramid, dutifully reviewed and ignored by generations of schoolchildren, into a more intuitive plate design, which shows how much of an average meal should be taken up by fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Another program pushed by his office, fueleconomy.gov, allows car buyers to compare fuel costs of a car against an average vehicle -- rather than expressing it in non-intuitive statistics like miles per gallon. Sunstein claims the federal regulations put in place during Obama's first term saved more than $90 billion per year for the U.S. government. 

A New Law of Petropolitics

Sorry, Tom Friedman, higher oil prices don't always mean lower levels of democracy. 

In a 2006 cover story for this magazine, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman proposed what he called the First Law of Petropolitics. "The price of oil and the pace of freedom always move in opposite directions in oil-rich petrolist states," he wrote, noting that "the higher the price goes, the less petrolist leaders are sensitive to what the world thinks or says about them." 

The law makes a lot of intuitive sense. If you look around the world at countries that are highly dependent on oil profits -- Saudi Arabia, Russia, Nigeria, Iran, Venezuela -- many have high levels of authoritarianism and corruption. Dig into the numbers, as University of California/Los Angeles economist Romain Wacziarg did for a recent study, however, and the picture gets murkier. "If you look at countries that have a lot of resources, compared to countries that don't, they do tend to have a more autocratic regime," he says. "But if you look within a country, and if they discover a natural resource, do they then become more autocratic? There's no evidence for that." 

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Wacziarg looked at petroleum-producing countries between 1961 and 2007, comparing their Polity scores -- a commonly used quantitative measure of democratic conditions -- with the price of crude oil. He found no correlation. In fact, in some countries, such as Egypt, Indonesia, and Mexico, the level of democracy markedly improved between 2000 and 2007, when oil prices were skyrocketing. 

He also found no evidence to suggest that low oil prices make regime change more likely. "In fact, the Arab Spring happened just at a time when oil prices were pretty high," he notes, pointing out that under Friedman's First Law of Petropolitics, the autocratic regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in oil-rich Libya would have been the least likely Arab government to fall. Meanwhile, the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain -- which Friedman cited as a country forced to liberalize by its dwindling oil reserves -- has only become more repressive. 

Asked to comment, Friedman argues that Wacziarg's study focuses too closely on the effects of oil prices and "overlooks something that was implied in my article (and is explicit in most academic studies) -- that it also matters how much oil and gas a country produces." 

Al Jazeera in America

Published: January 3, 2013 

Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news network, has long wanted to gain a bigger American television audience, and it may have finally found a way to do that by buying Current TV. But as the deal was being signed, Time Warner Cable announced it would immediately stop carrying Current, a struggling channel partly owned by former Vice President Al Gore. While the cable company has the legal right to cut off Current, the decision is unfortunate and could block access to an important news source. 

Many American policy makers and cable companies have had doubts about the impartiality of Al Jazeera, which is owned and financed by the emir of Qatar. Some have questioned the decision of Mr. Gore and his co-founder, Joel Hyatt, to sell Current, which is available to roughly 60 million American homes, to the Qatari government. 

The emir, though he works closely with Washington on some issues, has interests and agendas that are sometimes at odds with United States interests. Recently, for instance, Qatar along with other Arab nations is believed to have provided arms and other assistance to terrorist organizations operating in Syria. Al Jazeera says its journalism is not directed by the policies and views of its government, but the fact that it is owned by Qatar means that there is no guarantee of its independence. 

Nonetheless, Al Jazeera could bring an important international perspective to American audiences and should be given a chance to prove itself commercially before cable companies remove Current TV from their lineups. If Al Jazeera America, the channel that the company plans to create in New York to replace Current, fails to attract a critical mass of viewers, cable companies would be justified in removing it. On Thursday, Time Warner suggested that it might add the new channel to its systems in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere later “as the service develops.” 

In the Middle East, where good, independent journalism is hard to find, Al Jazeera has distinguished itself by its thorough and smart coverage of many important stories, particularly the Arab Spring. In the early days of the revolution in Egypt, many people in America and around the world turned to it because it did a much better job on the ground than many of its international peers. 

Al Jazeera often brings a nuance to international stories that can be lacking on American networks, because it has more foreign correspondents and overseas bureaus than many established Western networks. Its coverage of the Arab Spring won a George Foster Peabody Award and its English-language service is broadcast to more than 250 million homes in 130 countries, including Britain, South Africa and India. 

Doubts about the independence of Al Jazeera do not justify removing it from cable and satellite systems. With the exception of a few places, like Washington and New York City, Al Jazeera English is not available to most American viewers. Why not let them make up their own minds about the network and its journalism?

The Songs of Angry Men

Can Les Misérables help us understand why some revolutions succeed and others barely get off the ground? 


On a freezing Kansas afternoon, I dragged my mother to a palatial suburban movie theater to see the only holiday event I really cared about -- reliving the tragic tale of history's most musical revolutionaries. Most viewers left the showing of Les Misérables discussing Anne Hathaway (good), Russell Crowe (bad), and Sacha Baron Cohen (ugly) -- but as a student of political violence, something else caught my eye. I was more interested in the structural integrity of the barricades and the poor substitution of tenors for tactics. 

The history of Paris is a history of revolutions -- 1789, 1830, 1848, 1870, 1968. For reasons known only to Victor Hugo, Les Mis is set during the lesser-known June uprising of 1832, an anti-monarchist rebellion that was crushed by King Louis Philippe I. The movie offers more than tragic romance and soaring ballads -- it provides a blueprint for understanding the relationship between cities and violence. 

Means, motive, opportunity 

Why do some revolutions succeed, while others barely get off the ground? Many of the academic debates surrounding civil wars and insurgencies boil down to the relative weight of the opposing factions' resources (means), grievances (motive), and political openings (opportunity). 

The revolutionaries in Les Mis don't lack for grievances. The revolution of 1830 had ended Bourbon rule in France, but disappointed both those who wanted to forge a republic and those who wanted the restoration of a Bonapartist regime. In addition, Paris was plagued by pervasive unemployment, censorship, poor public services, and a growing gap between factory owners and factory workers. But unwashed masses do not a revolution make -- it was comparatively middle class Parisian students who led the 1832 uprising. 

As the street urchin Gavroche makes clear in Les Mis, the students are afforded a compelling opportunity for their revolt: the public funeral of Gen. Jean Maximilien Lamarque, one of the most prominent anti-monarchist figures in France at the time. Co-opting public events and demonstrations is a standard tactic for urban uprisings -- which is why, for example, government censors in China tolerate criticism of the regime but not calls for public gatherings or protests. 

While the students have sufficient opportunity and solid grievances, they lack the means to pursue their revolution. Not only are they short on weapons and ammunition, they also lack broad public support: Few residents donate furniture to their barricades. As a result, the rebellion fizzles -- government troops are able to march through Paris and isolate the rebels after a few short days. Clandestine organizations like the students' secret society may avoid government detection, but wider mobilization is inherently limited -- leaving only empty chairs and empty tables, as the survivors sadly sing. 

Haussmann and Napoleon III were right 

The student uprising may have been crushed, but the physical terrain of the French capital at the time was favorable to armed insurgents -- as shown by the successful uprisings of 1830 and 1848. The narrow streets and confined districts of Jean Valjean's and Marius's Paris provided cover to partisans, repeatedly thwarting efforts of government troops called in to restore "order" to the city. This is partially due to the rigid tactics favored by the governments of the day, where relatively large units marched down the street in formation. 

The French authorities eventually learned their lesson. Following the collapse of the Second Republic in 1851, Napoleon III established the Second Empire. Among his most significant reforms during this period was commissioning Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann to redesign Paris, transforming it into the city we know today. Though aesthetic considerations drove demand for green spaces and new building facades, the desire to exert better control over rioting Parisians played a significant role. One of the central design elements of Haussmann's Paris is wide boulevards -- specifically, the width of a cavalry squadron in extended line. 

This is where urban planning intersects with military plans. In addition to its boulevards, Paris's famous circles are spaced to allow for interlocking fields of (cannon) fire. Haussmann isolated the most rebellious neighborhoods from the 1848 July Days by filling in a canal. He also placed Paris's grand railway stations so that they would be rapidly accessibly by government troops, and designed urban blocks so that corner buildings were set back from the intersections -- making them next to impossible to barricade, while simultaneously bringing light and air into city streets. After 1968, most of the city's cobblestone roads were also paved over to prevent the pavers from being used as projectiles in future protests. 

This isn't just historical trivia from a bygone era: Modern urban planners are still looking for ways to move people and goods through a living city, while still securing it from attack. There are few better examples than Haussmann's Paris. 

Beyond the Battle of Algiers 

While Paris may have a history of revolutions, urban uprisings don't actually have a great history of success. One of the few pieces of received wisdom in counterinsurgency circles is the futility of urban revolts. Concentration of state security forces in built-up areas and the isolation of urban populations from potential sources of support have traditionally made it difficult to organize, recruit, and operate in cities. Urban rebel groups are thus typically detected and suppressed before they can reach a critical mass -- see, for example, how easily Inspector Javert is able to infiltrate the student group spearheading the uprising. 

But this conventional wisdom is changing, driven by grinding urban insurgencies in Baghdad, Ramadi, and Fallujah. It may now be possible to organize and train virtually, allowing networks and capabilities to grow without attracting the attention of modern-day Javerts. Rapidly growing urban spaces like Karachi and Lagos combine weak governance, informal settlements, and choking population density, which offer sanctuary to proto-insurgents. Add to this the ready availability of modern telecommunications, global finance networks, and regional and international transport, and these mega-cities present a perfect storm of means, motive, and opportunity for modern insurgents. 

Having built a counterinsurgency doctrine based on the experience of Frenchmen fighting communist peasants, we may now need to update our framework to address a much more urban and inter-connected environment. Innovations in aerial surveillance, big data, and network mapping provide some tools for modern-day Javerts. But the protagonists of urban mayhem -- protesters, revolutionaries, warlords, and crime bosses -- will likely continue to sing the songs of angry men for years to come. 

Laurie Sparham/Universal Pictures 
Erin M. Simpson is CEO of Caerus Analytics. Follow her on twitter @charlie_simpson or @CaerusUpdates

Army Warfighters' Forums Can Be Innovative and Successful

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The U.S. Army fielded Stryker Brigades to fill the void between heavy forces that were quite capable but took a long time to deploy and light infantry forces that could deploy quickly but lacked punch and staying power. Stryker Brigades provide armored mobility and can deploy faster than the heavy mechanized units. 

The first Stryker Brigade began its conversion in 2000. By 2003, Stryker units were preparing to deploy to Iraq. The comparatively short time between creation and commitment meant that the units had little time to refine their doctrine and warfighting tactics, techniques, and procedures. To help overcome this shortfall, the Army created the Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) Warfighters' Forum, a networked and collaborative means of sharing information that leverages modern computer-based technologies to facilitate the exchange of information. This forum, which has its own staff,[1] includes a website (StrykerNet) with an information repository, Internet-based interactive leader and staff symposiums, and direct response to queries, all of which enable units, including those in a combat theater, to share lessons learned, pose questions, identify problems, and report solutions. The Army is developing additional warfighter forums and asked RAND Arroyo Center to assess how well the SBCT Warfighters' Forum works. 

To make that assessment, Arroyo researchers posed three questions: 
  • How satisfied were those who used the forum? 
  • Did individuals' tactical knowledge increase? 
  • Did units' proficiency increase with theater-based feedback during a combat training center event? 
  • How Satisfied Were Users? 
Arroyo researchers gauged user satisfaction by surveying SBCT leaders about various Stryker-Net elements, surveying approximately 3,000 soldiers in two SBCTs to estimate how many individuals in the SBCT community of practice used various forum products or services, and by having forum leaders and staff complete a communications log. The log recorded elements of email and face-to-face and phone conversations. 

Analysis of the three data-collection efforts indicates that the majority of SBCT leaders sampled were satisfied with the StrykerNet website and would recommend it. Approximately one-third of senior leaders and staff reported that they visited StrykerNet, and one-half of those visiting the site reported using it for training or individual development purposes. Analysis of staff communication logs strongly suggests that customers were satisfied with the direct support they received. Repeat customers were common. The log analysis also suggests that the Warfighters' Forum staff reduced the burden on Stryker units by dealing with requests that would otherwise have gone to units. 

Did Individual Tactical Knowledge Increase? 

The method used to gauge an increase in tactical knowledge was evaluation of the Hundredth House tool, which combines a computer-based reenactment of an insurgent ambush of American forces in Iraq, recorded interviews with the unit members who took part in the ambush event, and a battalion commander-led discussion among trainees that occurred after they viewed the reenactment and interviews.[2] The study involved a before-and-after test given to about 130 soldiers from two battalions that were preparing to deploy to Iraq. The training tool improved the tactical knowledge of most participants. Meaningful gains occurred among three of the four groups analyzed: Officers, NCOs with recent Operation Iraqi Freedom experience, and other enlisted soldiers all scored significantly higher on measures of tactics after completing the training. NCOs who had participated in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom before 2006 showed little gain. The reason for the comparatively small gain in this group is unclear, but two possible explanations are that NCOs who had deployed to Afghanistan or pre-2006 Iraq felt confident in their abilities and therefore failed to pay attention and absorb the knowledge/ training, or that the NCOs consciously decided that their experience was a better model to follow/adopt than the techniques conveyed during the Hundredth House training. 

Did Unit Proficiency Increase with Theater-Based Feedback During a Combat Training Center Event? 

Differences Attributable to the Handbook During a Training Rotation 

To assess improvement in unit proficiency, Arroyo researchers developed an Iraq Common Events Approaches (ICEA) handbook consistent with SBCT Warfighters' Forum techniques and approaches. The handbook reflected the experiences of SBCT soldiers who had recently returned from a 15-month deployment to Iraq. It included information about ten common events that combat units faced, e.g., coming upon a suspected improvised explosive device (IED). Collective responses from deployed soldiers were distilled and, if they occurred frequently enough, were included in the handbook. For example, for a suspected IED, common actions included secure and cordon off the area, place vehicles in an overwatch position, and set up roadblocks. 

Improving Soldier and Unit Effectiveness with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team Warfighters' Forum


This research examined leader-, soldier- and unit-level outcomes associated with the Army's first warfighters' forum, the Stryker Brigade Combat Team Warfighters' Forum (SWfF). Specifically, the study explored leaders' and soldiers' usage of and satisfaction with products and services offered by SWfF; the extent to which a SWfF-offered tactical training tool improved individuals' tactical knowledge; and whether a handbook derived from combat returnees' experiences improved unit-level tactical performance. Its broader purpose was to determine whether and how SWfF products are associated with knowledge acquisition and tactical proficiency, as well as to explore ways in which SWfF, and similar forums, could better support tactical units in the future. The results show that SWfF supports training and preparation for war, and that its methods can help the Army adapt to changing tactical landscapes. SWfF usage and satisfaction levels were high. Training tools provided by SWfF were statistically associated with gains in individual-level tactical knowledge and unit-level performance at the Combat Training Centers. The study suggests that warfighters' forums should continue to be developed, remain focused on providing information as quickly as possible, and continually monitor the views of their communities regarding the products and services they offer. In addition, the study offers two broader considerations for the Army training community. First, embed feedback reports into more training tools. Second, continue to develop and refine the technique demonstrated in this study for converting soldier and leader combat experience into information that can be easily used by units preparing for deployment. 

The Candid Commander-in-Chief

The best behind-the-scenes photos of Barack Obama in 2012 from Pete Souza and the White House photographers. 

JANUARY 3, 2013 

A "Year in Photographs 2012," released by Pete Souza on Flickr Thursday, documents the past 12 months in the life of Barack Obama and the people around him. Souza -- who has been the chief official White House photographer since 2009 -- whittled down tens of thousands of pictures (he and his staff can produce up to 20,000 photos per week) to the most memorable and included some of the stories behind the photos. Here are some of our favorites from the impressive collection. 

In the picture above, taken on May 19 during a G-8 summit at Camp David, Obama reacts to the winning goal in an overtime shootout of the Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich Champions League final along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and French President Francois Hollande. 

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza 

Date: Jan. 24 

Souza: "One of the most memorable moments of the year was when the president hugged Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as he walked onto the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol to deliver his annual State of the Union address." 

Europe in 2013: A Year of Decision

January 3, 2013

By George Friedman

The end of the year always prompts questions about what the most important issue of the next year may be. It's a simplistic question, since every year sees many things happen and for each of us a different one might be important. But it is still worth considering what single issue could cause the world to change course. In my view, the most important place to watch in 2013 is Europe. 

Taken as a single geographic entity, Europe has the largest economy in the world. Should it choose to do so, it could become a military rival to the United States. Europe is one of the pillars of the global system, and what happens to Europe is going to define how the world works. I would argue that in 2013 we will begin to get clarity on the future of Europe. 

The question is whether the European Union will stabilize itself, stop its fragmentation and begin preparing for more integration and expansion. Alternatively, the tensions could intensify within the European Union, the institutions could further lose legitimacy and its component states could increase the pace with which they pursue their own policies, both domestic and foreign. 

The Embattled European Project

It has been more than four years since the crisis of 2008 and about two years since the problems spawned by 2008 generated a sovereign debt crisis and a banking crisis in Europe. Since that time, the crisis has turned from a financial to an economic crisis, with Europe moving into recession and unemployment across the Continent rising above 10 percent. More important, it has been a period in which the decision-making apparatus created at the founding of the European Union has been unable to create policy solutions that were both widely acceptable and able to be implemented. EU countries have faced each other less as members of a single political entity than as individual nation-states pursuing their own national interests in what has become something of a zero-sum game, where the success of one has to come at the expense of another. 

MMRCA and the Indian Air Force

Issue Vol. 26.4 Oct-Dec 2011 | Date : 03 Jan , 2013 

The MMRCA as a first step, will enable the IAF to hold its own against the PAF, and when it reaches its authorised strength, to face the PLAAF. The technical evaluation process has been transparent and gone on without a hitch. The AESA radar that the IAF had specified, will be a game changer not only for air combat but equally well during air-to ground operations. Finally, in the area of potential benefits, transfer of technology will enable India to realise her full potential in designing and manufacturing combat jets. The cost of each of these aircraft will be high, but if the Indian negotiators do their job well, the future is assured for the IAF and India. 

The process of selection of the vendor in the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract is in the final stages with only two contenders, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale remaining in the competition. Which of the two combat aircraft will the Indian Air Force (IAF) finally induct as the MMRCA is the question that is foremost in the public mind? 
Depleting Force Levels 

The MMRCA proposal comes as challenges to India’s national security are increasing in intensity and complexity. IAF’s force levels have plummeted to an all-time low of 29 squadrons on account of normal attrition, retirement of obsolescent aircraft and interminable delay is the procurement of replacements. The currently authorised force level of 39.5 squadrons is unlikely to be restored before 2020. As India’s neighbors are aggressively modernising their air forces, the need to enhance the combat potential of the IAF acquires urgency. 

With U.S. Set to Leave Afghanistan, Echoes of 1989

January 1, 2013


WASHINGTON — The young president who ascended to office as a change agent decides to end the costly and unpopular war in Afghanistan. He seeks an exit with honor by pledging long-term financial support to allies in Kabul, while urging reconciliation with the insurgency. But some senior advisers lobby for a deliberately slow withdrawal, and propose leaving thousands of troops behind to train and support Afghan security forces.

This is a nearly exact description of the endgame conundrum facing President Obama as he prepares for a critical visit by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, planned for early January.

But the account is actually drawn from declassified Soviet archives describing Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s closed-door struggles with his Politburo and army chiefs to end the Kremlin’s intervention in Afghanistan — one that began with a commando raid, coup and modest goals during Christmas week of 1979 but became, after a decade, what Mr. Gorbachev derided as “a bleeding wound.”

What mostly is remembered about the withdrawal is the Soviet Union’s humiliation, and the ensuing factional bloodletting across Afghanistan that threw the country into a vicious civil war. It ended with Taliban control and the establishment of a safe haven for Al Qaeda before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

But scholars who have studied the Soviet archives point out another lesson for the Obama administration as it manages the pullout of American and allied combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

“The main thing the Soviets did right was that they continued large-scale military assistance to the regime they left behind after the final withdrawal in ’89,” said Mark N. Katz, a professor at George Mason University and author of “Leaving Without Losing: The War on Terror After Iraq and Afghanistan” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

Homegrown Militants Biggest Threat: Pak Army

Rezaul H Laskar | Islamabad | Jan 03, 2013

After focusing on the perceived danger from India for decades, the Pakistan Army had made a paradigm shift by describing homegrown militant groups and internal dangers as the biggest threat to the country's security in its new military doctrine.

Eleven years after it became involved in the US-led war against terrorism, the Pakistan Army has introduced changes its operational priorities for the first time, and the new doctrine describes the ongoing guerrilla war in the tribal belt and along the western border and bomb attacks by militant groups as the greatest threat.

The activities of Taliban fighters in the restive tribal regions and unabated terrorist attacks on government installations in major cities are posing a "real threat" to security, media reports today quoted the new doctrine as saying.

Journalists who were briefed on the issue by security officials told PTI that the doctrine is part of the army's efforts to review its operational preparedness and capabilities.

A new doctrine was published recently after a gap of about four years, the journalists said.

The new doctrine, running to over 200 pages, does not specifically link the threat from homegrown militant groups to any sort of shift from the Pakistan Army's earlier focus on India.

However, security analysts like Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood acknowledged that it amounted to a paradigm shift.

The analysts further said the unrest along the western border with Afghanistan had prompted a change in the army's priorities.

Masood said India had always been perceived as Pakistan's enemy No 1 before the publication of the new doctrine.

Pakistan's preparations and weapons were always meant for India but for the first time, Islamabad had admitted that the real threat was emanating internally and along the western borders, he said. 

Masood was of the opinion that the Pakistan Army would now focus on non-conventional warfare and the threat posed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and its allies across the border.

The War In Afghanistan at the End of 2012: The Uncertain Course of the War and Transition

Jan 2, 2013 

History has made it all too clear that there is no easy way to assess progress in counterinsurgency, or to distinguish victory from defeat until the outcome of a conflict is final. Time and again, “defeated” insurgent movements have emerged as the victors in spite of repeated tactical defeats. The Chinese Communist victory over the Kuomintang, the Cuban revolution, the Vietnam War, and Nepal are all cases in point. Insurgencies do not have to defeat government forces in the field; they have to defeat the regime at the political and military level. 

The Burke Chair has reviewed recent official reporting on the progress in the war as of the end of 2012 and found major gaps in unclassified reporting, and serious problems in the limited metrics that have been made available. This analysis is entitled The War in Afghanistan at the End of 2012: The Uncertain Course of the War and Transition. It is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/130102_uncertain_afghan_violence.pdf

It finds critical gaps in the unclassified data available on some of the most critical aspects of the war. Far too much of current official reporting is a repetition of the Vietnam follies: unsubstantiated claims of progress, success, and victory that ignore the real problems in the field, and are contradicted by most unclassified media reporting. 

As in Vietnam, less and less is being said about the real world prospects to sustain the ANSF and civil development effort, the lack of effective Afghan leadership and governance, and speed with which the US and its allies are likely cut their presence and aid before and after 2014. Far too often, what is officially described as a Transition Strategy has become a cover for an exit strategy: The Afghan equivalent of P.T. Barnum’s famous sign, “This way to the egress,” which used to keep crowds moving through exhibits. 

The US had not announced its future troop levels and Transition plans as of the end of December 2012 – with two years to go before most Transition efforts are to be completed. Allied troop levels continued to drop with limited warning. Key agencies charged with economic and aid planning like UNAMA, USAID and the State Department remained unable to issue any meaningful or trustworthy reporting on either the impact of the current aid program or future plans. 

Pak’s nuclear arsenal in safe hands?

An intensified nuclear arms competition between Pakistan and India has troubling ramifications for deterrence stability, particularly within the context of crises sparked by spectacular acts of terrorism by groups associated with Pakistan's military and intelligence services This is the second part of excerpts from the writer’s essay “Pakistan’s Nuclear Strategy and Deterrence Stability” 

Michael Krepon 

AS long as Rawalpindi declines to take sustained preventive action against future attacks by extremist groups, the presumption of continued collusion will remain. Future crises could occur because bilateral ties with India remain badly frayed or, conversely, by official efforts to improve ties that extremist groups wish to stymie. 

The primary reason for escalation control during past nuclear-tinged crises has been that Indian leaders have chosen not to respond militarily to severe provocation. Instead, they have given the pursuit of economic growth a higher priority than the pursuit of the perpetrators of mass-casualty attacks. New Delhi has also been concerned about escalation control in the event of retaliatory strikes. If this calculus of decision remains firm, deterrence stability can withstand future challenges. If not, deterrence stability and escalation control will become increasingly challenging. 

India and Pakistan have signaled resolve during severe crises by increasing the launch readiness of their ballistic missiles and by carrying out missile flight tests. Key indicators of a decision to attack during full-scale mobilisations are well understood. Critical troop movements and preparations can be monitored by human intelligence and by technical means. In addition, the United States has relayed information derived from high-level visits, defence attachés and national technical means to dampen apprehensions during crises by rebutting false rumors and confirming de-escalatory steps. Because authorities in India and Pakistan have wished to avoid major wars, have been familiar with the choreography of full-scale mobilizations, and have mutually agreed to accept a significant US crisis management role, severe crises since 1990 have been managed, albeit with difficulty. 

China Will Become a More "Normal" Economy

Financial Times, January 02, 2013 

2013 will be remembered as the year China became a more “normal economy”. What does normality mean for China? Soon-to-depart Premier Wen Jiabao’s oft-cited quote that China’s growth is “unbalanced, unsustainable and uncoordinated” is a good place to start. 

China was an abnormal economy with its state-led capitalist approach that produced double-digit growth rates, no major financial crises and average wage increases of 12 per cent annually for decades. But the drivers of this impressive economic transformation will no longer be available to the new leadership. Beijing cannot simply open the monetary floodgates to stimulate the economy as was done in previous downturns. 

Senior Associate
Asia Program More from Huang... 
Rates of growth in the 7-8 per cent range will become the norm and the key question is whether growth will be of higher quality – more balanced, sustainable and coordinated?

China is in fact already rebalancing – internally, externally and spatially. Internally, if consumption continues to increase at 9 per cent annually and investment growth declines from over 15 per cent to 6-7 per cent, the consumption and investment shares of the economy will become more “normal”. Externally, the current account balance will also continue to moderate as domestic demand increases with urbanisation and investors diversify by shifting more of their funds abroad. China will also become spatially more balanced as the interior will grow much faster than the coast and urbanisation will accelerate. 

China’s growth can also be more financially and environmentally sustainable with further reforms. Actions to strengthen the banking sector are already underway but its fiscal system needs to be transformed to take on more responsibility for channeling resources. And China’s Five Year Plan provides a platform to achieve environmental sustainability by sharply increasing energy efficiency and curbing pollution. 

In a normal market-driven economy, coordination is less about the state managing all key activities but more about strengthening its regulatory role to give the private sector room to spur innovation and efficiency. 

China's Rules of the Game

January 3, 2013 

The name of the game for the Chinese in the Pacific Island disputes is “Go,” which also happens to be an ancient Chinese board game that involves the surrounding and capture of enemy pieces and positions. White and black stones are placed on a 19-by-19 node grid of lines. A stone is captured when it is surrounded from all sides; it is defended when the enemy is diverted. If we set the

objective as the capture of islands without direct attack or invasion, we see the board-game stones replaced by surveillance vessels, fishing fleets and coast-guard frigates. Each side attempts to surround the island and claim dominion over that space by presence and patient stratagem. 

The dispute is not about seizing the islands but about generating legitimacy through lasting superior presence—surrounding the islands. Once the game of “Go” is initiated it cannot be stopped until one side forfeits or loses. With each side’s national pride on the line, and the bets increasing, it appears unlikely that either side will give up. However, there doesn’t need to be any direct altercation, unless one side cheats. 

Japan may cheat before the Chinese. At least, the Chinese may interpret their moves as cheating. This can be seen in its recent national purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands from a private Japanese citizen. China might eventually adjust the rule-set of a fixed game, in which case “Go” will no longer be the relevant analogous strategic framework. Already, China has made a move to nationalize the Parcels under the jurisdiction of the Hainan’s Sansha with similar occupational tactics that Japan has with Diaoyu/Senkaku. 

If the game of “Go” loses its relevance as the appropriate analogy, then a new game will have to emerge, with new rules. Japan and the other nations seem to view it as a territorial game, more akin to “Risk,” where fast occupation is more important than encirclement and constriction. 

China is cutting off Japan’s economic lifeline as well as interfering with waterborne channels, with one piece designed to counter the other. Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia do not appear to see this as “Go.” To them the conflict is more one of “Stop surrounding my islands, or else!”