5 January 2013

Helicopter as a Combat Platform

Issue Vol 26.2 Apr-Jun 2011 | Date : 05 Jan , 2013 

Boeing Apache 

The Helicopter in Battle: The two widely disparate views cited above on the utility of the helicopter have influenced the use of this versatile platform in military operations. Any discussion on the applications of the helicopter in combat brings back memories of the Bell 47 seen at the beginning of every episode of the popular TV serial M.A.S.H ferrying wounded soldiers to a field hospital in the Korean War, of swarms of Huey UH-1H helicopters landing combat troops in the open fields in Vietnam, of Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters in Afghanistan and downing of two American helicopters in Somalia in the movie Black Hawk Down. 

The first reported use of helicopters in combat was during World War II where they were used in light utility roles including search for submarines. The technology was not refined adequately to bring Allied or German helicopters into combat roles, however American helicopters came under fire for the first time in WW II when they were used to evacuate battle casualties from the front line in Luzon, Philippines to hospitals in the rear. 

The Vietnam War was the litmus test for helicopters in combat. The operational roles of the helicopter were exploited to the fullest and new tactics evolved as the war progressed.

The danger from China

Issue Vol 26.1 Jan-Mar 2011 | Date : 05 Jan , 2013 

The multi-dimensional threat between 2011 and 2014 from China is real. 

Taken aback by screaming headlines in the media that nervous China may attack India in 2012, two former generals who commanded a corps and division respectively on the Sino-Indian borders, went in to war game huddle. 

Both military men concluded that the Chinese couldn’t breach their respective corps or divisional boundaries. Since the Chinese cannot get away by attacking well entrenched corps or division they commanded earlier, the generals ruled out the possibility of China imposing war on India. 

Instead of integration of the citizenry and consolidation of different regions, our shortsighted politicians extend a helping hand to China and Pakistan by dividing Indians internally for vote-bank-politics.

That the Chinese may simply bypass and drop Special Forces to choke vulnerable Siliguri Corridor and cut off the Northeast was overlooked. 

Similarly, another general flaunted borrowed concept of ‘limited war’ with nuclear powered adversaries. He overlooked a simple fact that nuclear-armed neighbors may not be amenable to any such restrictions imposed by India. 

The question: “Limited by whom?” 

The answer: Self-imposed limitation on Indian mind built over centuries. 

A gentleman was invited to Beijing for a period of ten days. He was overwhelmed by the gracious hospitality extended by the Chinese. Subtly, the Chinese conducted ‘psychological-warfare’ on him by repeatedly planting ideas that their country is a developing economy like India. To them, the first task at hand therefore was to remove poverty by developing the whole country. The Chinese sold the notion that this consolidation would require at least twenty years. 

Satellites Spot China’s Mysterious New Warplane

01.04.13

The Y-20 at Yanliang on Jan. 1. Photo: GeoEye GeoEye 1

A week after the publication of blurry photographs depicting what appears to be China’s first long-range jet transport, Danger Room has obtained satellite imagery of the new plane at an airfield in central China. 

The images, acquired by the GeoEye 1 and IKONOS spacecraft — both belonging to commercial satellite operator GeoEye headquartered in Washington, D.C. — corroborate the general layout of the Xian Aircraft Corporation Y-20, the existence of which has been confirmed by Beijing. They also underscore the emerging consensus among Western experts that the Y-20, while outwardly impressive, could lack the performance of even much older American, Russian and European transports. 

The IKONOS image (below) is dated Dec. 25. It shows the Y-20 outside a large hangar at Yanliang airfield, home of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s test establishment. The base is crowded with examples of the PLAAF’s other main transports, including Y-8 medium airlifters and, apparently, tanker versions of the aged H-6 bomber — both types of which could in theory be replaced by the Y-20, ostensibly giving China the same global military reach the U.S. and other advanced nations have enjoyed for half a century. 

The GeoEye 1 photo from Jan. 1 (above) depicts the new transport, which isn’t known to have flown yet, on one of Yanliang’s runways, surrounded by people and vehicles. News reports have claimed the Y-20 is currently undergoing runway taxi tests in preparation for its eventual first flight.

No Red Carpets for PLA Generals


Possibly the first direction that Xi Jinping has issued to the PLA as the Chairman of the Central Military Commission(CMC) is to observe austerity measures and cut ostentatious and frivolous expenditure in every day functioning of the PLA. The list of Do’s and Dont’s include removal of welcome banners, red carpets, floral arrangements, formations of soldiers, performances and souvenirs[1] Others include banning liquor from receptions, a directive which caused one of China largest liquor company to shed $ 2 billion or 5.5 per cent of its stock value in a day on the Shanghai bourse! And ban on ‘luxury banquets’ implying that officers will make do with buffet meals rather than glitzy multi-course banquets[2] That this diktat was meant only for the PLA is not true – it applies to the entire state machinery. But the CMC was quick to take a cue and issue its own set of ‘ten commandments’, some going beyond even Xi’s directive. Aside from the triviality, one needs to read deeper into the message behind this diktat. It was an acknowledgement that corruption is not alien to the PLA that it was time to clean up the stables. A damning indictment of the depth of corruption within the PLA comes from Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Peking University who says, ‘Military corruption is a more “imminent” threat to the PLA than the U.S. armed forces’[3]. 

The PLA last saw action in 1979 against Vietnam and it certainly was not a war that the PLA would like to remember. Despite the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) the PLA has largely been a ceremonial army seen only during resplendent parades held every year on 01 October at Tiananmen Square. The present leadership in the CMC is largely commissioned in the period 1967-70, while Military Region Commanders and Group Army Commanders are of 1970-73 vintage. Barely a handful have war experience and those who did participate in Vietnam in 1979 or in the short air-naval engagement over Paracels in 1974 were at best company commanders/ naval lieutenants with less than 10 years service. No senior officer has ever participated in a tri-service operation. None can boast of setting an example to their junior officers of personal deeds of heroism, valour or gallantry as they lack war experience. In a system where loyalty to the Party is the paramount requirement to rise in ranks, it is but natural that reasons other than merit would be consideration for promotion. The rise of ‘princelings’, those favoured few born with ‘silver spoons’ is well documented and accepted amongst the PLA elite. The selection process for Generals is opaque and little is known about the qualitative requirements or criterion for promotion. Cliques and groupism is common and guanxi or personal relationships matter. The International Herald Tribune carried a report about General Zhang Qinsheng, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA as having “lashed out in a drunken rage against what he believed was a backhanded move to keep him from being named to the Central Military Commission” at a Lunar New Year banquet hosted for the Chinese military leadership, prompting the President Hu Jintao to “leave in disgust” from the venue.[4]Even the appointment of General Fan Changlong, a former Jinan MR Commander directly as Vice Chair in the CMC has been unprecedented, with reports that his claim to fame was his proximity to the corridors of power in the Party. Other reports suggest that General Fang Fenghui, was appointed Director of the General Staff Department for having impressed the leadership with his organizational skills in conducting the 60th Anniversary Parade as Beijing MR Commander. 

Eve of Disaster

Why 2013 eerily looks like the world of 1913, on the cusp of the Great War. 
BY CHARLES EMMERSON | JANUARY 4, 2013 


The leading power of the age is in relative decline, beset by political crisis at home and by steadily eroding economic prowess. Rising powers are jostling for position in the four corners of the world, some seeking a new place for themselves within the current global order, others questioning its very legitimacy. Democracy and despotism are locked in uneasy competition. A world economy is interconnected as never before by flows of money, trade, and people, and by the unprecedented spread of new, distance-destroying technologies. A global society, perhaps even a global moral consciousness, is emerging as a result. Small-town America rails at the excessive power of Wall Street. Asia is rising once again. And, yes, there's trouble in the Middle East. 

Sound familiar? 

In many ways, the world of 1913, the last year before the Great War, seems not so much the world of 100 years ago as the world of today, curiously refracted through time. It is impossible to look at it without an uncanny feeling of recognition, telescoping a century into the blink of an eye. But can peering back into the world of our great-grandparents really help us understand the world we live in today? 

Let's get the caveats out of the way upfront. History does not repeat itself -- at least not exactly. Analogies from one period to another are never perfect. However tempting it may be to view China in 2013 as an exact parallel to Germany in 1913 (the disruptive rising power of its age) or to view the contemporary United States as going through the exact same experience as Britain a century ago (a "weary titan staggering under the too vast orb of its fate," as Joseph Chamberlain put it), things are never quite that straightforward. Whereas Germany in 1913 explicitly sought a foreign empire, China in 2013 publicly eschews the idea that it is an expansionist power (though it is perfectly clear about protecting its interests around the world). Whereas the German empire in 1913 had barely 40 years of history as a unified state behind it and was only slightly more populous that Britain or France, China in 2013 can look back on centuries of continuous history as a player in world affairs, and it now boasts one-fifth of the world's population. Whereas Germany's rise was a genuinely new geopolitical phenomenon in 1913, the rise of China today is more of a return to historical normality. These differences matter. 

CHINESE AIR FORCE TESTS DOUBLE-RUNWAY AIRPORT USING MULTIPLE TYPES OF AIRCRAFT

People's Daily Online 2012-12-28 

   A naval division of China’s Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC) recently conducted a comprehensive double-runway support drill for multiple types of aircraft. Major military powers have all achieved double-runway support, which is a general trend for modern air combat and comprehensive support, said Fang Dianrong, commander of the air force under the Chengdu MAC. 

  The support drill was conducted at a newly built double-runway airport, and warplanes took off and landed around the clock in order to test the Chinese air force’s first double-runway operational mechanism, support model, and combat functions as well as accumulate experience for building similar airports in the future. 

  Just after a transport aircraft and helicopter took off, four new fighters landed on the eastern runway, and two transport aircraft took off from the western runway at the same time. As many as 12 aircraft of various types took off from the two runways in the first 10 minutes of the drill. 

  The simultaneous take-off and landing of various military aircraft was an amazing scene. However, a double-runway airport means more than additional runway as the advanced command system based on information technology doubles the airport’s support efficiency. 

  “Compared with previous single-runway drills involving a few types of aircraft, this drill features more types of aircraft and shorter intervals, thus doubling the commanding and deployment difficulty,” said Jiang Nanbin, director of the Information department of the air force under the Chengdu MAC. 

  When two aircraft from different directions flew too close to each other, navigators immediately sent instructions to the pilots, so the two aircraft could react quickly to keep a safe distance from each other. 

  Many types of aircraft, large fleets, short intervals, and heavy workload require a better support model. When a new aircraft landed in the support area for third-generation domestic aircraft, various support modules concerning power, oxygen, and fuel were quickly connected to the aircraft. Just a few minutes later, it was ready to take off again. 

  “It was like a battle. There were many types of aircraft which took off and landed quickly. Our work is now more demanding, and is accurate to a second rather than a minute,” said Wang Guowei, a logistic staff member who has worked for 11 years at an air station under the Chengdu MAC. 

  According to the commander of the drill, more than 10 research subjects were tested during the drill, including the operational use of comprehensive support bases for multiple types of aircraft, the control tower model at double-runway airports, and the efficiency of aircraft take-off and landing at double-runway airports.

The Disappeared

Even the Soviet Union eventually acknowledged Stalin's Great Famine. Why does China still hide evidence of its own mass starvation under Mao? 
BY FRANK DIKÖTTER | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013


For decades, the Soviet Union hid its horrors behind the Iron Curtain. The worst of them was Joseph Stalin's man-made famine in Ukraine and southern Russia, the result of his program of forced rural collectivization that claimed the lives of 7 to 10 million people in 1932 and 1933. Land, property, livestock, even houses were requisitioned as farmers became state employees forced to deliver ever higher grain quotas. Those who resisted or tried to hide food were deported to the Gulag or executed. Whole parts of the Ukrainian countryside turned into death zones. Millions perished, yet Stalin managed to silence all talk of the famine, sending those who breathed a word of it to labor camps in far-off Siberia. The census data, which would have shown a huge spike in mortality rates, were locked away for half a century. 

But even before the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Communist Party leaders in Ukraine started investigating the famine in their own party archives. They found a wealth of gruesome documentation. Some of the most shocking evidence came from photographs of starving children with skeletal heads, ribs poking through their skin, begging for a scrap of food on the pavement in Kharkov, Ukraine's capital at the time of the famine. One picture showed emaciated corpses piled onto a cart, drumstick limbs akimbo amid a tumble of bodies. These were not a few isolated snapshots -- there were hundreds of images. Leonid Kravchuk, who would later become Ukraine's first democratically elected president, was one of the first to see this evidence. He was so haunted by the faces of the children killed by the famine that he persuaded Vladimir Ivashko, then the first secretary of Ukraine's Communist Party, to approve the reproduction of 350 photographs in a book released to the public in 1990. Today, the famine is officially and universally remembered across Ukraine as the Holodomor, literally "death by hunger." 

TOP 10 MILITARY EXERCISES OF WORLD IN 2012--PART 1

 2012-12-28 

The picture shows that the China-Russia “Joint Maritime Exercise-2012” military exercise is held in April 2012 in the waters of the Yellow Sea off China’s east coast. (Photo by Zhang Lei/PLA Daily) 

The picture shows that Russia holds a large-scale actual-combat exercise in September 2012 in the Arctic Pole area. (Photo by LA Daily) 

  A. China-Russia “Joint Maritime Exerecise-2012” Military Exercise 
  Exercise time: April 22 to 27 
  Participating countries: China and Russia 
  Exercise location: Yellow Sea wateres, China 
  Exercise contents: joint escort, joint air-defense, joint anti-submarine, joint anti-hijacking, joint search and rescue, and joint replenishment, etc. and actual-troop live-ammunition firing against sea, submarines and air, etc. 

  Concern index: ★★★★★ 

  Reason for concern: China-Russia largest-ever joint maritime exercise 

  Military strength committed: the Chinese side dispatched 16 surface ships and 2 submarines and the Russian side dispatched 7 main warships of its Pacific Fleet. The two sides also dispatched 22 airplanes, 9 helicopters and 2 special operation detachments. 

  Expert’s comments: as the first joint exercise between the two navies of China and Russia, the exercise features a large number of participating troops, long exercise duration, high demands for coordination, strong antagonism and practicality. The joint exercise is conducive to deepening pragmatic cooperation between the two militaries and improving their capabilities for carrying out joint maritime military operations and responding to security threats and challenges. By Zhang Guifen, with the Department of World Military Studies under the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 

Policy Brief: Dealing with a Rising China

By J. Stapleton Roy

Washington and Beijing both consider good bilateral relations to be vital, but their growing strategic rivalry has the potential to evolve into mutual antagonism. Top leaders on both sides see building a new type of U.S.-China relationship as necessary to avoid a drift toward confrontation. Yet the competition of capabilities now under way between the Chinese and U.S. military forces in the Pacific does not conform to the strategic goal, articulated by both sides, of striking a stable and mutually acceptable balance between cooperation and competition. Active measures are needed by leaders in both capitals to resolve this discrepancy between policy and action. 

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Defense Forecasting in Theory and Practice: Conceptualizing and Teaching the Future Operating Environment


Journal Article | January 4, 2013 - 4:30am 

Author’s Note: The authors would like to think Scott Gorman and Bruce Stanley for providing constructive comments. The views expressed in this paper are the authors’ own and in no way reflect the official views of the School of Advanced Military Studies, the US Army, or the US Department of Defense. 

Introduction: Toward a new understanding of “defense forecasting” 

“Defense forecasting” is a phrase with multiple meanings, ranging from the prosaic to the strategic. In its traditional usage, defense forecasting generally applies to Department of Defense budgeting processes.[1] Given that much of defense forecasting has taken place in the context of the DoD budget and allocation process, it is no surprise that the process of “defense forecasting” is generally static, linear, and reasonably mechanical. Used in another sense, though, “defense forecasting” is much more interesting: here, it implies foresight, planning and careful consideration of how the future operating environment (FOE) may look. Even more importantly, defense forecasting helps planners at all levels envision the role of US forces within the FOE. 

At all levels of planning, defense forecasting links the realms of policy, strategy and operations together. At the policy level, defense forecasting is useful for understanding and anticipating the potential existential threats to the country, while at the strategic level defense forecasting plays a major role not just in predicting future strategic threats but also in shaping the U.S. military’s procurement and force generation cycles, closing the loop by offering force generation recommendations to policymakers. At the operational level of war, peering into the future is less about policy recommendations or strategic planning and more about the need to anticipate threats and adversaries which will affect deployed US forces. Here, officers work to develop rational scenarios that can be used to hone planning and leadership skills. 

The Mindless Debate over Future U.S. Military Manpower in Afghanistan


Jan 4, 2013 

The growing media and think tank debate over the future levels of U.S. military manpower for Afghanistan is as dangerous as it is mindless. The United States now plans to withdraw virtually all of its military and civil manpower from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It is planning massive cuts in military and civil aid spending but has not made any details public. 

At the best of times, military manpower totals are a largely meaningless metric. The issue is never whether there are 6,000 men and women or 30,000. The issue is what they are deployed to do, what roles and missions they perform, what combat role they will play if any, how well funded and equipped they are, and how they support an overall strategy, plan, and effort to achieve a real strategic result. In an insurgency, and in an effort to conduct armed nation building in a failed state, military manpower is an even less meaningful metric than usual. The issue is the future size of the civil-military effort, not the military effort alone. Any debate or analysis of the future U.S. role in Afghanistan that does not tie the two together is little more than intellectual and media rubbish. 

Totals for military and civil personnel not only do not describe or justify the function of such manpower, they need to be tied to data that show where they are to be deployed and their future level of security. There are unconfirmed media reports that the United States now plans to cut the number of U.S.-occupied facilities in Afghanistan from some 90 at the end of 2011 to 5 major facilities by the end of 2014, and no one is talking about the end result in terms of the future security of U.S. personnel or the ability to perform meaningful missions without being exposed in the field. Moreover, our cuts will take place as our allies—and many nongovernmental organizations—almost totally withdraw from the country and with an Afghan election occurring in 2014 that will produce an unknown future leader of a largely failed government. 

What really matters, however, is that there are no public U.S. plans that show how the Obama administration will deal with either the civil or military aspects of this transition between now and the end of 2014, or in the years that follow. The few metrics that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the U.S. government have made public only cover past combat performance, and they show there has been no meaningful military progress since the end of 2010. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have never issued a remotely credible report on the progress and impact of the civilian surge or any aspect of the civil aid program. (For a detailed analysis of recent combat reporting, see the text, maps, and charts in “The War in Afghanistan at the End of 2012: The Uncertain Course of the War and Transition.”) 

NEPAL: Possibility of Polls in May Fast Receding

Dated 5-Jan-2012 

By Dr. S.Chandasekharan 

The possibility of holding the elections in May 2013 is fast receding with the three main political parties continuing to remain inflexible and by now they have become immune to frequent deadlines being given by President Yadav. 

Having painted himself to the corner, the hapless President continued to give frequent ultimatums to the political parties to come up with a consensus government, not realising that the word "consensus" has become a much abused one in Nepal politics. By sending frequent deadlines only to be ignored, the President is becoming a laughing stock. It is better for him to watch and allow the parties to settle the issues or take action as he is still the custodian of the Interim Constitution under Article 36 A. It is not clear why he had to find an excuse to visit India only to be told that he should try to get a consensus unity government which appeared then and continues to be, out of reach with the political parties remaining adamant as to who should lead and who should not. 

It was clear that despite frequent change of goal posts and declaration of "readiness to give up the government", the UCPN wanted to stay on till the elections and conduct the elections under their leadership. It is not clear what the ‘package deal’ they were talking about but what was clear from their stand from the beginning was that the Nepali Congress should not lead the government to conduct the elections. This was certainly understood by some of the leaders in NC, but surprisingly chose to remain adamant and demanded that PM Bhattarai should first resign and hand over the government ot the Nepali Congress. This, Bhattarai would never have done and it was clear to outsiders like us but not to the NC leaders themselves. 

Strangely, the party took its own time to decide on the prime ministership as all the three top leaders Koirala, Paudel and Deuba were fighting and rallying support for themselves to lead the government! Deuba with his followers continued to nurse hopes of leading the government once again, when he has had three innings as Prime minister and the mess he created not only for the party but to Nepal itself was well known.. 

Stranger still, the Nepali Congress was seen hobnobbing with the breakaway "Baidya" group of the Maoists whose avowed aim was to go back to people’s war or atleast to a "revolution". 

The Madhesi combine in the present coalition- the UDMF led by the Deputy Prime minister Vijay Gachhadar could have acted decisively and forced Bhattarai to resign to form a unity government led by anyone else. Instead, Gachhadar declared his "readiness" to lead the government if and when Bhattarai resigns. No body took him seriously, but he had put to ridiclue his whole Madhesi group by making such tall claims. The other Madhesi group led by Upendra Yadav is getting mor and more irrelevant. 

Social Media Intelligence

Log In, Tune In, Don’t Drop Out 

Journal Article | December 13, 2012

U.S. Government employees who serve abroad representing our nation’s interests perform a critical task that also often puts them at great personal risk. Since World War II, the State Department has had seven ambassadors murdered in the course of their duties. Serving as an ambassador is more dangerous than serving as a general officer in war time and assassination is not their only threat. In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries seized the entire US embassy in Tehran and held its occupants for 444 days. That same year Pakistani militants stormed the US embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan and burned it to the ground, killing two embassy personnel in the process. 

Sadly, other examples abound. The tragic bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 has somewhat obscured from memory the equally tragic, though less deadly, bombing of the American embassy in Beirut earlier that year. That event prompted the Inman report, which called for the creation of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Diplomatic Security Service. The DSS provides embassies with Regional Security Officers who serve as the ambassador’s primary security advisor and also controls an array of assets including local and Marine Security Guards. Clearly, in Benghazi the best efforts of these men and women were not enough to protect the consulate and its occupants given the overwhelming nature of the threat and the horribly inadequate security provided by the host nation. 

The families of the deceased, the Foreign Service and civil servants and the people of the United States deserve a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi. We should let that accounting play out in an objective and thorough fashion, but that does not preclude us from drawing preliminary findings from what happened. 

One such finding is that the US diplomatic presence in Libya, and the Benghazi consulate in particular, was horribly lacking in situational awareness. While there were intonations that something bad was going to happen in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, such as Sean Smith’s forum message that local nation guards appeared to be casing the consulate, there simply wasn’t sufficient signal of a threat to drown out the ubiquitous noise that comes with supporting a diplomatic presence overseas. For all its funding and assets, the vaunted American intelligence community simply cannot be everywhere at once. It does, of course, make its best effort to support intelligence consumers, the State Department among them. But even a decade into the war on terrorism, much of its collection is tied to large stove-piped programs modeled on the Cold War world and unsuited to the State Department’s needs including early warning. 

Will Saudi Arabia Ever Change?


James Hill/Contact Press Images 

Portraits of King Abdullah when he was crown prince (left) and the late Prince Sultan (center), who was heir apparent when he died last year, on the outskirts of Riyadh, September 2003 
It’s a funny place, Jeddah. Nobody knows the half of what goes on.
—Hilary Mantel, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street 



1. 

On September 25, 2011, the aging ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, gave a remarkable speech to the Majlis al-Shura, the formal advisory body to the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh. Beginning in 2013, the king said, women would be allowed to serve on the 150- member body; and beginning in 2015, they would also be permitted to vote and run for office in municipal council elections.

To most outside observers, these moves were hardly worth noting. In 2011, popular revolts were toppling autocratic regimes across the Middle East; even fellow monarchies like Morocco and Jordan were amending or changing their constitutions to show they would be more accountable to the people. By contrast, the Saudi king’s speech conceded no new authority to the Majlis al-Shura, an unelected body with limited powers of consultation only, and Saudis have shown little interest in the largely symbolic local councils, only half of whose members are elected. Moreover, Abdullah’s innovations, such as they were, would only happen in the future: the 2011 municipal elections, which took place a few days after the speech, were, as in the past, open to men only.

Yet in a country whose only written charter asserts the Koran as its basic law and in which women have few legal rights, let alone the right to vote, the announcement struck many as revolutionary. Liberal Saudis and women activists called the decision “historic,” citing it as further proof that their nearly ninety-year-old monarch was a “reformer.” For their part, members of the government rushed to reassure the country’s powerful ulama—the religious leadership, which adheres to the puritanical branch of Hanbali Islam known in the West as Wahhabism—that the new women members of the Shura would not mix with the men. The king himself, in making the announcement, carefully noted that “since the time of the Prophet, the Muslim woman has had valid opinions and [sound] advice that should not be regarded as marginal.” Even so, prominent Saudi clerics suggested that the decree did not have religious backing, and two days later, as if to assert their continuing writ, a court in Jeddah sentenced a woman to ten lashes for driving a car. 

Poor Choice

The International Finance Corporation responds to Cheryl Strauss Einhorn's investigation into the World Bank's investment arm. 
BY BRUCE MOATS | JANUARY 4, 2013 

We are deeply disappointed by your article, "Can You Fight Poverty With a Five-Star Hotel?," which raises an important question about the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) impact fighting poverty in developing countries. It failed to be fair and it failed to fully examine our impact. 

What is our record? 

Every dollar of profit we make is reinvested to support private sector development, increasingly in the poorest countries. Since 2007, our profits have totaled more than $10 billion. Of that amount, we've contributed about $2 billion to the International Development Association (IDA), making us a major contributor to the World Bank's fund for the poorest in recent years. 

The rest has been reinvested in developing countries-creating jobs, modernizing infrastructure, expanding access to finance for small entrepreneurs, and building the conditions for sustained prosperity. This is what our member countries want us to do, and we believe it is the right thing to do.

Since IFC began in 1956, we have invested more than $125 billion in developing countries, improving the lives of millions. In Ghana, for example, IFC's support for KHI Ghana helped create 1,500 construction jobs and more than 300 permanent jobs at the Movenpick Hotel-providing much-needed employment and opportunities for small businesses while also supporting environmental and social best practice. In Egypt, our investment in Orascom Construction Industries is expected to provide more than 2,500 jobs and help boost agricultural production. Those are just two small examples of our impact. In the last few years, roughly half of our projects have been in countries with a per capita income of less than $1,175.

The World Bank Group's recent World Development Report focused on the importance of creating jobs. One of its conclusions was that 90 percent of all jobs in the developing world are created by the private sector. That is the central part of our mission to fight poverty: encouraging private companies to invest in developing countries, which creates jobs in areas that are starved for private investment. In 2011 alone, our investments provided 2.5 million jobs in developing countries.

The Myth of Africa's Rise

Why the rumors of Africa's explosive growth have been greatly exaggerated. 
BY RICK ROWDEN | JANUARY 4, 2013 


Recent high growth rates and increased foreign investment in Africa have given rise to the popular idea that the continent may well be on track to become the next global economic powerhouse. This "Africa Rising" narrative has been most prominently presented in recent cover stories by Time Magazine and The Economist. Yet both publications are wrong in their analysis of Africa's developmental prospects -- and the reasons they're wrong speak volumes about the problematic way national economic development has come to be understood in the age of globalization. 

Both articles use unhelpful indicators to gauge Africa's development. They looked to Africa's recent high GDP growth rates, rising per capita incomes, and the explosive growth of mobile phones and mobile phone banking as evidence that Africa is "developing." Time referred to the growth in sectors such as tourism, retail, and banking, and also cited countries with new discoveries of oil and gas reserves. The Economist pointed to the growth in the number of African billionaires and the increase in Africa's trade with the rest of the world. 

But these indicators only give a partial picture of how well development is going -- at least as the term has been understood over the last few centuries. From late 15th century England all the way up to the East Asian Tigers of recent renown, development has generally been taken as a synonym for "industrialization." Rich countries figured out long ago, if economies are not moving out of dead-end activities that only provide diminishing returns over time (primary agriculture and extractive activities such as mining, logging, and fisheries), and into activities that provide increasing returns over time (manufacturing and services), then you can't really say they are developing. 

Cut out of the Conversation

The important talk we're not having about defense spending. 
BY MICHAEL O’HANLON | JANUARY 4, 2013 


This week's last-minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff was welcome at one level, but it did little to address federal spending -- including defense spending. Had Mitt Romney won the presidential election, we might now be talking about modest increases to the Pentagon budget. As things stand, however, the real debate is over how much more to cut, beyond the mid-sized reductions -- about $350 billion if you measure against standard Congressional Budget Office baseline -- already imposed on core, non-war defense spending by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Sequestration -- like the Simpson-Bowles and Rivlin-Domenici deficit reduction commissions of 2010 -- would cut another $500 billion or so over ten years. 

The Obama administration's current military plan, which incorporates the BCA cuts but not those from possible sequestration -- will scale down the military from about 1.5 million active-duty uniformed personnel to its pre-9/11 total of 1.4 million, or two-thirds the Cold War norm. It chips away at modernization programs but preserves most major ones, with one or two notable exceptions. It levels off various forms of military pay and benefits, but most troops will continue to be compensated better than private-sector cohorts of similar age, education, and technical skill. It also holds out ambitious hopes for efficiencies from various unspecified reforms that would save $60 billion over a decade, and optimistically assumes that weapons systems will be delivered at projected costs. 

Exclusive: McChrystal was shocked by controversy over Rolling Stone article

Posted By Josh Rogin 
January 4, 2013


Stanley McChrystal, the retired general and former head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was shocked by the Rolling Stone article that led to his firing, he reveals in a soon-to-be-published memoir. 

"Sir, we have a problem," McChrystal aide Charlie Flynn told McChrystal upon waking him up at 2:00 in the morning one night in Afghanistan. "The Rolling Stone article is out and it's really bad." 

"'How in the world could that story have been a problem?' I thought, stunned," McChrystal wrote in the memoir, which is set to be released Jan. 7. (The Cable obtained a copy of the book independently from a local bookstore and was not a party to a publisher's embargo on the information contained within.) 

McChrystal was referring to the article "The Runaway General," by Rolling Stone correspondent Michael Hastings, in which Hastings details his time with McChrystal's staff on a stay over in Paris in 2010. In the article, Hasting documents McChrystal staffers insulting top Obama administration officials including Vice President Joe Biden and the late Amb. Richard Holbrooke. Obama recalled McChrystal to Washington and demanded his resignation shortly after the article's publication. 

McChrystal does not mention Hastings by name, but he does describe the Rolling Stone affair as a failed attempt to give the reporter an insight into the brotherhood of his soldiers. 

"I was surprised by the tone and direction of the article," McChrystal wrote. "For a number of minutes I felt as though I'd likely awaken from a dream, but the situation was real. Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine. And its ultimate effect was immediately clear to me." 

Killing the 'Good Taliban'

The death of Mullah Nazir exposes why Pakistan's love affair with jihadis is likely to end in tears. 
BY ARIF RAFIQ | JANUARY 4, 2013 


On Thursday morning, Pakistani militant Maulvi Nazir met his end in a U.S. drone attack on a car traveling in Angor Ada, South Waziristan. It was not first time the United States tried to kill him, nor was the United States the sole entity that wanted him dead. 

Nazir's story displays the complexity of the militant challenge in North and South Waziristan, the mountainous, tribal areas along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. It is a place where jihadist groups opt to fight the United States, the Pakistani state, or even one another, and use the patronage of al Qaeda or the Pakistani military. And it is a place the Pakistani military will face great difficulty in stabilizing, let alone mainstreaming, if and when a political settlement with the Taliban is reached in Afghanistan. Nazir represents the Pakistani military's Catch-22. For three decades, Pakistan has used jihadists to exert influence in Afghanistan and India, consuming thousands of lives in Pakistan and strangling its economy. The military now relies on non-hostile jihadists like Nazir to counterbalance anti-state jihadists, but its proxies all-too-often morph into foes. Pakistan's premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, is unable to wean itself off of the jihadist double-edged sword. 

EXPOSURE MATTERS - It is important that the media exercise the right to ask questions

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray 

The stormy note on which 2013 opened reminds me of the adjustment I had to make in defining news when I returned to India after my initiation in journalism in England. A boat disaster in southern Bengal killing a dozen villagers highlighted the contrast. It would have been headline news in Britain. Here, the nameless dead merited a single paragraph without a heading tucked away at the end of a column, a “filler” in newspaper parlance. 

Suppose the accident had occurred in the area my first paper, the 40-page provincial weekly Stockport Advertiser, covered. Photographers would have fanned out taking pictures while we reporters squabbled over survivors, friends and relatives. Each of us had to fill three or four pages devoted to particular localities and were desperately possessive about people and events with a connection with those areas. One drowning victim might have had in-laws in my district; another may have spent holidays in a fellow reporter’s area. With each reporter claiming proprietary rights over such stories, a victim with connections in two or more districts plunged us into heated argument that only copious quantities of beer in the local pub could dissolve. 

The system had several merits. First, having to fill so many columns meant meticulously scouring our allotted districts and ensuring that nothing, not even a fallen autumn leaf, went unnoticed. Second, since mainly ordinary people — not Stockport’s industrial nobs or the landowning gentry of the surrounding Cheshire countryside — talked to reporters, what we published was emphatically proletarian. Third, dealing with people’s concerns meant constantly asking their questions and ferreting out the answers. 

SECOND SINO- INDIAN STRATEGIC ECONOMIC DIALOGUE: A SWOT ANALYSIS

The second Sino- Indian Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) took place during 26-27 November 2012. The Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China, Zhang Ping and Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, Montek Singh Ahluwalia attended the Dialogue along with their delegations. What has the Dialogue achieved so far? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths

The strength of the Dialogue can be analysed by the success of the first SED held in September 2011 in Beijing (http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/IB184-Teshu-IndiaChina.pdf). Following the success of the previous Dialogue, eleven agreements were signed entailing investment of over USD 5.2 billion. Major agreements signed at the government level were in four areas; the Planning Commission and NDRC signed an agreement to undertake joint studies, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Power, India and NDRC on enhancing cooperation in the field of energy efficiency, the Ministry of Railways, India and Ministry of Railways of China on enhancing technical cooperation in the railway sector, between the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), India and the China Software Industry Association (CSIA) on Enhancing Cooperation in the IT/ITES Sector (http://www.indianembassy.org.cn/newsDetails.aspx?NewsId=383).

Secondly, the Dialogue was conducted by the apex institution of both countries. It was between the NDRC and Planning Commission, which are the policy formulation bodies of India and China, respectively. Zhang Ping was of the opinion, “this Dialogue is not only about speaking but is actually about doing”. The plan behind the Dialogue is to share experiences in economic development and broaden the bilateral relationship. Further, the Dialogue aims to foster greater cooperation and communication between the two countries. Thirdly, the sectors identified in the agreements are the areas in which both countries are facing serious problems and need cooperation.

Carriers of the Indo-Pacific Maritime Great Game

January 4, 2013 By Felix Seidler. 

Less Liaoning 

Nothing has been as over-hyped since August 2011 as China’s aircraft carrier program. After the former Soviet carrier Varyag, fully refurbished by the Chinese and renamed Liaoning, took its first “test drive”, thousands of blog posts, press pieces, and scholarly articles argued about possible regional and global implications. Is this single ship a regional or even global threat? What about the balance in the East and South China Seas? 

Stay calm, people. After a few tests, China’s Navy – the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) – has shown it is in fact still years away from having an operational aircraft carrier, let alone integrated carrier strike group. 

Moreover, if a navy wants to have a single operationally available aircraft carrier at any one time, it needs at least two, and better still three carriers in rotation: the one in operational status, one in the shipyard, and one in training and work-ups. According to these numbers, it is unlikely that the PLAN will be able to sustain a “blue water” carrier presence before 2020 based on projected shipbuilding schedules. 

Even the first flights of a J-15 Shark from Liaoning’s deck were more PR event than step towards a credible carrier force. It’s one thing to launch a single fighter under controlled and planned conditions. Conducting dozens of flight movements per hour in wartime requires a significant increase in capabilities and training. To reach this, China must still walk a long road. 

Eye on India 

However, while most observers were busy with Liaoning, Asia’s only operational aircraft carrier, India’s INS Viraat, has largely been left out of the discussion (sorry, Thailand, but your never-operating carrier is not a serious asset). The first reason why India’s carrier must be taken more seriously than China: operational experience. India has been operating its current carrier since 1987 (the now-decommissioned INS Vikrant began service in 1961), and already has in place the necessary supply chains and logistics that the PLAN lacks. China’s maritime “Long March” could take longer than Mao’s to gain all the experience India already has. And while both China and India could turn to Russia for potential assistance, only the latter would likely receive carrier support – whether logistics or training – from the U.S., France, or the U.K. 

No churning on China

Jan 04, 2013 


Situation awareness is a prime tactical, operational and strategic level military attribute and also, one assumes, a quality equally prized by politicians who need to be sensitive about every fold in an unravelling situation. In the military sphere, situation awareness has hardware and software components. Sensors of all kinds on land, sea and air-borne platforms and satellites, such as radars, infra-red and high resolution photo-imagery, etc. comprise the hardware. Common sense accounts for the basic software and demands nothing more than an awareness of the world around us. The year 2012 ended with evidence of the different levels of this awareness at which the Indian government and the individual armed services find themselves.

But first let’s set the context. In 2009, the defence minister issued an operational directive to the three services headquarters stating, reasonably, that China was the country’s main security threat. The directive thus issued required the military to now wheel their big guns, ships and aircraft China-ward. Three years on this hasn’t happened. The Army and the Air Force continue to concentrate their effort on the Western border; the Navy likewise, but less conspicuously, justifies its “North Arabian Sea” tilt, except it now touts piracy as an operational consideration. In effect, the Indian military’s effort and capabilities are majorly tuned to dealing with the inconvenience posed by Pakistan, which in reality is more a nuisance than a genuine military threat. (True, a militarily inferior adversary can effectively utilise terrorism, but to squash a pestiferous fly an elephant gun may be inappropriate, given the potential collateral damage, when a rolled-up newspaper — targeted intelligence operations — may serve the purpose better.)

It means that the military is willfully ignoring a straightforward order from the government perhaps because it finds it hard to tear away from the rationale that the Pakistan threat provides for the plains warfare-heavy weapons profile — in particular, vast armoured and mechanised formations and an inventory full of short-legged and medium-range aircraft — of the services. But also because when the armed forces look around, they see a government that, far from walking the talk, seeks desperately to placate Beijing, striving at every turn to remove from the official Chinese mind even smidgeons of doubt about New Delhi’s “peaceful” intentions. Zhongnanhai (the complex of building in central Beijing housing the Chinese policy establishment) has only to raise its eyebrow for the Indian government to fall to its knees, ready to kowtow to China. But reality has to be faced and, much as everybody would like to keep bashing the Pakistanis, there’s China to be reckoned with. Rapidly enlarging itself, its political role, its military capabilities, its presence in the extended areas far from its home shores, China now demands attention.

Afghanistan’s IED Complex: Inside the Taliban Bombmaking Industry

By Mujib Mashal / KandaharJan. 02, 2013


Dust kicks off the ground during an operation by US Army soldiers attached to the 2nd platoon, C-Coy. 1-23 Infantry after charges are fired by for safe detonation of IED's on Sept. 23, 2012 in Panjwai district, Afghanistan. 

“I am here in Kandahar on a short vacation,” says the young man, about 27, who we will call Mullah Kalam. His beard is trimmed neat; he is wearing a black leather jacket and a striped beige turban. Kalam has been a student for five years at a religious seminary across the border in Chaman, in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Two years into his studies, as U.S. President Barack Obama ordered a surge of 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, much of it focused in the south, Kalam’s family of 11 left their home in Panjwai district, about 40km from the city of Kandahar, to settle in Chaman. 


But Kalam’s “short vacations” home, at least twice every year, are no innocent excursions. Panjwai is considered one of the most heavily mined areas in the country. The Taliban have been known to place homemade bombs and booby-traps everywhere—on dirt roads, pomegranate trees, and vegetable fields—and have forced a curfew on locals between 8pm and 8am. Besides Kalam’s religious studies, he has been spending time with “Pakistani explosive experts,” he says. Putting that training to work, he has helped orchestrate about 20 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks. 

The U.S. troop surge and the increasing reach of the Afghan security forces have weakened the Taliban as a fighting force in recent years. But the Taliban, known for their tactical flexibility, has turned more and more to IEDs. These are easy to make, largely from fertilizer and simple materials that are easy to transport across the porous border with Pakistan. 

The U.S, government has spent more than $21 billion since 2006 in tackling the IEDs, which it considers a strategic weapon that will remain “an enduring threat.” Marred with questions of inefficiency and mismanagement, the effort is led by JIEDDO, Joint IED Defeat Organization. The group has focused heavily on fielding technologies to address the problem in a three-prongedstrategy: “attack the network, defeat the device, train the force.” But the numbers on the ground suggest it has been a difficult, largely losing fight—and one that is increasingly asymmetric in terms of economic cost. 

12 Events That Shaped Afghanistan in 2012

Monday, 31 December 2012
by TOLOnews.com 


It has been an eventful year in Afghanistan, a year of triumphs and tribulations. From the country's first premier league soccer tournament to progress towards peace, our editors picked 12 events for their potential to shape the country in 2012 and beyond. 

In rough chronological order, here are the 12 events that shaped Afghanistan in 2012. 



1. Taliban open office in Qatar – giving peace a chance? 

The year began with the Taliban agreeing to open an office in Qatar from where they could negotiate with the US. The Afghan government had long lamented the lack of "an address" for the insurgents, but reacted to the office opening dourly: The US had conducted preliminary talks in secret without consulting Afghanistan. Pakistan allowed several Taliban representatives to fly to Qatar, but once there, they didn't have busy office days – they broke off talks with the US because it refused to release five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo. The peace process is limping along again and, after a string of talks and meetings with the Taliban, Afghanistan eventually came around and accepted the Qatar office

2. Strategic partnerships – securing Afghanistan's future 

President Obama flew to Kabul late one night in May to sign the US-Afghanistan Enduring Strategic Partnership, commiting the US to help Afghanistan for 10 years after 2014. Iran voiced concerns over the pact, but Afghan lawmakers slammed it for interference and unanimously ratified the agreement. The partnership leaves out the critical issue of legal immunity for US forces post-2014. But the pact was part of a slew of similar agreements, including those with Germany, China, France, Italy and theUK

3. Security transition – Afghans control 75% of the country 

President Karzai announced the third phase of the security handover in May and the Afghan National Army took over all military operations in the critical South in July. Afghan forces also took over security for provincial centers and, eventually, more than 70 percent of the whole country as Isaf troops closed their bases and withdrew. Afghan troops also started taking the lead in more operations, incurring their heaviest yearly death toll yet in the process. A Pentagon report revealed that although only one of the 23 Afghan army units is capable of operating without help, violence was lower in 2012 than its peak of 2010. 

Afghan War Commander Gives Options for After ’14

Published: January 2, 2013

WASHINGTON — Gen. John R. Allen, the senior American commander in Afghanistan, has submitted military options to the Pentagon that would keep 6,000 to 20,000 American troops in Afghanistan after 2014, defense officials said on Wednesday. 

General Allen offered Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta three plans with different troop levels: 6,000, 10,000 and 20,000, each with a risk factor probably attached to it, a senior military official said. An option of 6,000 troops would probably pose a higher risk of failure for the American effort in Afghanistan, 10,000 would be medium risk and 20,000 would be lower risk, the official said. 

But the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the options, said that a more important factor in the success of any post-2014 American mission was how well — or whether — an Afghan government known for corruption could deliver basic services to the population. 

General Allen’s options offer ascending levels of American involvement in guarding against the expansion of terrorist groups in Afghanistan and advising an Afghan military that has limited air power, logistics, leadership and ability to evacuate and treat its wounded. 

With 6,000 troops, defense officials said, the American mission would largely be a counterterrorism fight of Special Operations commandos who would hunt down insurgents. There would be limited logistical support and training for Afghan security forces. With 10,000 troops, the United States would expand training of Afghan security forces. With 20,000 troops, the Obama administration would add some conventional Army forces to patrol in limited areas. 

Defense officials said it was unclear whether President Obama had studied the options, although they said he was expected to discuss them at the White House next week when President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan visits. About 66,000 American troops are now in Afghanistan. 

Under an agreement between NATO and the Afghan government, the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan is to end on Dec. 31, 2014, when the Afghan Army and the police are to have full responsibility for their country’s security. But in recent months the Obama administration has been debating the size and mission of a residual American force that would remain after 2014 to increase Afghan stability. 

The help is sorely needed, according to the most recent Pentagon report on the state of the 11-year-old war. In an assessment released last month that covers April through September 2012, the Pentagon found that only one of the Afghan Army’s 23 brigades was able to operate independently without air or other military support from the United States or its NATO partners.