26 November 2013

Military: PM's Sterile Monologues,Wasted Task Forces

IssueNet Edition| Date : 24 Nov , 2013

At the recent Combined Commanders Conference, the Prime Minister asked for urgent review of Task Force Reports for indigenous production – another monologue statement egged on perhaps because of approaching elections. Yes the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) 2013 is an improvement from the past as far as private industry participation in defence sector is concerned but ironically the improvement is only ‘slight’. Even the observations by ASSOCHAM and CII on DPP 2013 are yet to be addressed by the government. The little improvement is despite Manibhai Naik, CMD of L&T pointing out the malady explicitly to the Prime Minister through a letter in 2011 saying, “Defence Production (MoD) Joint Secretaries and Secretaries of Defence Ministry are on the Boards of all PSUs — sickest of sick units you can think of who cannot take out one conventional submarine in 15 years now with the result that the gap is widening between us and China and bulk of the time we resort to imports out of no choice.

Secretaries and Secretaries of Defence Ministry are on the Boards of all PSUs — sickest of sick units you can think of who cannot take out one conventional submarine in 15 years now with the result that the gap is widening between us and China and bulk of the time we resort to imports out of no choice.

The defence industry which could have really flowered around very high technological development and taken India to the next and next level of technological achievement and excellence is not happening. “Manibhai also rued to the media stating he had raised one simple question in almost all the corridors of power and asked them what comes first: the honourable existence and sovereignty of our country or constantly feeding the sick public sector units at the great cost to the weakening India’s defence and borders and deaths of lots and lots of our soldiers wherever there is a conflict. He added, his failure lies in the fact that he couldn’t change the mindset of the MoD.

The fact is that the mafia in India’s defence-industrial complex and its nexus with the ministry is well known, monthly pay packets et all – presided over by a ‘clean’ Defence Minister, similar to the ‘clean’ Prime Minister who looks away as his government goes from one horrendous scam to the other. Media subterfuge is too well orchestrated, one example being that while a former Air Force Chief is attacked and tarred in the Westland Helicopter deal, no one dares question who was the DG (Acquisition) in MoD who actually signed the deal, though the latter by virtue of his appointment manages the ‘cuts’ and who they would go to. Any wonder why despite numerous defence scams over the years, no bureaucrat has ever been punished? Any wonder why no one is questioning what about the money ‘already paid’ in the Westland Helicopter deal and what about spare parts of the helicopters already bought?

The Begum's Next Door

25/11/2013

India’s relations with Bangladesh are multifaceted - cultural, civilisational, social and economic. Apart from that, there is a shared history, common heritage, linguistic ties, and passion for music, literature and arts. However, Indo-Bangladesh relations fluctuate with change of government in that country, getting warmer when the Awami League led by Begum Sheikh Hasina is in power and more strained when Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leads the country.

The BNP banks upon a traditional conservative vote base, supported by Islamic organisations like the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. The Jamaat has history of standing against the independence of Bangladesh, opposing the break-up of Pakistan and is vitriolic in its anti-India rhetoric. Begum Zia was Prime Minister (PM) of Bangladesh during the periods 1991-1996 and 2001-2006. During her tenure, Bangladesh hardened its stance towards India and gave support to north-eastern insurgent groups and terrorist organisations such as the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B). United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) military Chief Paresh Baruah was hiding safely in Dhaka at that time. In November 2002, then Deputy Prime Minister of India L. K. Advani stated, "After the change of government in Bangladesh, there has been an increase in the activities of the al-Qaeda and ISI there." Indian government claimed that there were some 99 training camps located in Bangladesh where anti-Indian miscreants and insurgents got trained to operate against India. In 2005, the Khaleda government also called off talks on a pipeline planned to run from India’s Northeast to Mynamar’s gas fields through Bangladesh, leaving India struggling over energy security options to feed its fast-growing economy. On economic front, due to huge trade deficit, Indo-Bangladesh relations were uneasy.The attitude of Awami League government has however been positive towards India. Begum Sheikh Hasina was PM during 1996-2001 and from 2009 until date. In December 1996, India signed Ganga water sharing agreement with Bangladesh for 30 years. Awami League government signed a peace treaty with the leaders of ethnic communities of Chittagong Hills Tract in December 1997. In bilateral border conference held in New Delhi in May 1998, the two states agreed to expedite the process of border demarcation. The Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) was awarded contracts in June 1998 for drilling gas wells and developing six other wells in three gas fields in Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh also tried to enhance people to people contact by starting Calcutta-Dhaka bus service. Sheikh Hasina has also largely delivered on Indian security concerns by cracking down on terrorism directed against India from Bangladeshi soil. Also, the current government is doing its utmost to keep Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh under control, represented by the likes of the recently banned political outfit Jamaat-e-Islami, Hefajat-e-Islam, Jagrata Muslim Janata, and HUJI-B whose links to al Qaeda are well known. Bangladesh took a significant step towards improving bilateral relations with India when it arrested several leaders of the ULFA and handed them over to India.ULFA leader Paresh Baruah has had to exit the safe confines of Bangladesh and now lives a relatively hard life along the China-Myanmar border. Detained ULFA General Secretary Anup Chetia, too, could soon be handed over to India by Dhaka.

The Importance of Bangladesh

Good Indo-Bangladesh relations is beneficial to both countries. To India, it provides the possibility of transit rights to its northeast, bringing development to a struggling region, and could revive the moribund South Asia Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ) comprising India’s north east, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. In addition, improved relations between the two countries leads to better border management, reducing in turn concerns of illegal migration into India and also curbing border smuggling activities. A quiet and peaceful Bangladesh border is an imperative in the current context when both our borders with China and with Pakistan remain disturbed.

Sorry I'm Not Sorry

The Perils of Apology in International Relations
November 21, 2013

This week, reports emerged that during negotiations over a new security pact between Afghanistan and the United States, Kabul demanded that Washington apologize for the U.S. military’s bad behavior. Some administration officials declared that no such apology was ever “on the table”; others suggested that the United States might draft a letter stating that it would not repeat "past mistakes" that led to civilian casualties during military operations.

The prospect of such an apology caused immediate controversy. American conservatives, whose favorite foreign policy talking point during the 2012 election was that President Barack Obama had embarked on a nationally humiliating “apology tour,” expressed outrage that the administration would even consider this gesture of supposed supplication. Liberals wondered why issuing a simple apology was such a big deal, arguing that it would do much to improve U.S. relations with Afghanistan and the United States’ global image. 

Both sides overlook a more sensible middle ground. As I argued in a 2009 Foreign Affairs essay (see below), acknowledgment of past harm -- perhaps more than some conservatives might prefer -- is vital for reconciliation between former adversaries. But whereas acknowledgement is vital, apologies are not. In fact, apologies can do more harm than good, because they often prompt an unproductive nationalist backlash.

The politics of apology are hardly limited to the United States and Afghanistan. In particular, East Asia’s historical controversies have been out in full force recently, thanks to the behavior of leaders across the region. This past spring, senior Japanese politicians visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japanese war dead, including war criminals from World War II; this infuriated China and South Korea, which bore the brunt of those crimes. The mayor of Osaka then made insensitive remarks that seemed to defend Japan’s human rights violations against women during World War II (namely, the keeping of sex slaves by Japan’s Imperial Army).

In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye has taken a strident tone, declaring that an upcoming summit with Tokyo would be “pointless” unless Japan began to truthfully address its history. Park’s predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, had also demanded apologies from Japan. South Korea and China have recalled ambassadors, cancelled summits, and issued numerous criticisms of Tokyo’s perceived failure to atone for its wartime violence. They claim that Japan’s reluctance to apologize for its past continues to stymie efforts at regional cooperation, most notably by scuttling a 2012 security pact with South Korea.

But the United States, Afghanistan, and countries in East Asia should note that apologies are by no means a necessary precondition for reconciliation. The case of Franco-German rapprochement after World War II is commonly thought of as demonstrating the power of apologies. But those countries actually reconciled during a time when West Germany had done little to atone for its past; its remarkable campaign of atonement for its wartime aggression and atrocities came only after France and Germany had dramatically improved their relations. Similarly, Japan and the United States, once bitter enemies, successfully moved on from World War II without apologies. All this demonstrates that the United States and Afghanistan can create a constructive partnership without such gestures if strategic conditions push them together.

Chinese Netizens Applaud Beijing’s Aggressive New Defense Zone

Posted By David Wertime 
November 24, 2013

Beijing has just thrown down the latest gauntlet in a long-simmering territorial dispute with Tokyo -- and China's citizens are cheering. On Nov. 23, China's Ministry of Defense released a map showing the "Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone," a wide swath over the East China Sea, and stated China had the right to monitor and possibly take military action against foreign aircraft that come into that territory. But the area also covers territory currently administered by Japan, including the disputed Diaoyu Islands, which the Japanese call the Senkakus. 

The move sharply raised tensions not only with Japan, but with the United States: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement that he was "deeply concerned" by the "destabilizing" announcement, while Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida warned it could "trigger unpredictable events." But on China's Internet, where much of the country's political expression finds its fullest voice, the reaction is far different: Web users hailed China's move against what they derisively call the "abnormal nation" of "little Japan." And they want the United States to stay out of it. 

On Sina Weibo, China's Twitter, over 200,000 recent posts mention the air defense map; of those sampled, the vast majority lauded Beijing for defending China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. As one user wrote, the map "lets the little Japanese know that our power does not stop at the tip of our tongue." Another wrote it was time for China to "take Japan to school and teach it how to act." Netizens seemed aware that the move will probably raise tensions, but they didn't seem to mind. "The likelihood of conflict from ‘polished guns' between the two armies has just risen," Lin Zhibo, a journalist at the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, wrote, invoking a Chinese term for a serious conflict emerging from a small matter. "This is a danger we must have the courage to shoulder." 

The only complaint most Chinese commenters seemed to have was timing: They wanted this to have happened earlier, as pushback against a neighbor many Chinese feel has "never reckoned" with the history of World War II, when Japan committed atrocities in China. A user called "Silent Majority" wrote, "This is a measure aimed at Japan's remilitarization," a process that seems to have begun in earnest following Shinzo Abe's Dec. 2012 election as Japanese prime minister. If China "waits for others to move before we react," the user continued, "there won't be enough time." Military analyst Yue Gang agreed. "This is the correct direction for China's strategic preparations," he wrote on Weibo. "Clenching its fists together to make a breakthrough."

For global cooperation on climate change

Published: November 25, 2013
Nancy J. Powell

The Hindu“The Partnership to Advance Clean Energy is helping, among other things, to develop cutting-edge technologies in solar energy while enriching the technology base of both India and the U.S.” File photo: V.V. Krishnan

Against the backdrop of the U.N. climate change negotiations in Warsaw, the United States Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, says the U.S. was helping developing countries address climate change by amplifying the impact of public funds by leveraging private investment

Climate change caused by humans is real and it is happening now. Only a high degree of international cooperation can adequately address this global problem. The recently released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reconfirmed the basic facts: Greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels like coal and oil, as well as other gases emitted as a result of human activity, such as methane, black carbon (a major component of soot), and hydroflourocarbons, or “HFCs,” are responsible for an unprecedented rate of warming of the planet. This warming is already causing severe disruptions and harm to communities. Left unabated, climate change will cause increased droughts, rising seas, and a host of other problems.

Collaboration with India

India is the United States’ biggest partner in the developing world on cooperative ventures to address climate change. The U.S. and India are collaborating on a wide range of climate change issues. For example, our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences are working together to enhance capacity for monsoon prediction on a monthly basis for different States in India. This programme delivers quantifiable improvements in forecasting extreme events, therefore improving India’s resilience to extreme and variable events wrought by climate change, such as flood and drought years, and active and dry spells of monsoons. We are also working jointly to protect India’s forests, which store carbon dioxide while providing great value to local populations and ecosystems.

Beyond the critically important goal of improving our understanding of how the climate works, and putting in place preparedness systems to minimise harm, the United States and India are drawing on the creativity and forward thinking of our best scientists, engineers and policymakers to reduce carbon pollution while building a low-carbon future that promotes economic growth. In the United States we have already greatly reduced our emissions from transportation, and, as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, we will reduce carbon pollution from power plants and further reduce energy waste in appliances and buildings. India is also taking important steps such as ambitious measures to improve energy efficiency and expand renewable energy, including one of the world’s largest national targets for solar power.

Why Are Japan’s Apologies Forgotten?

By Robert Dujarric
November 25, 2013

Japan has in fact apologized repeatedly for its wartime past. So why haven’t they resonated?

The “history” debate that constantly attends Japan postulates that the country has never apologized for past aggression within the region. In fact, Japan has provided Asian countries with assistance that was a form of compensation. The Asian Women’s Fund lacked clarity, but Tokyo offered payments to victims of sexual slavery. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama declared in 1995 that Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression (…) caused tremendous damage and suffering,” expressing his “remorse and (…) heartfelt apology.”

Earlier, in 1993, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono spoke of “the involvement of the military authorities” in the “comfort women” issue and added that “Japan would like (…) to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those (…) who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable (…) wounds.” Several prime ministers wrote to surviving sex slaves noting that “with an involvement of the Japanese military (…) [it] was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women. (…) our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past.”

This is far more apologizing and contrition than the world average.

So why has Japan gained so little recognition for these actions? One reason, noted previously, is that its Axis partner, Germany, has performed better on the atonement front. But this is not the only factor.

Another one is international politics. Strategic imperatives dictated that Israel, Western Europe and, after the Cold War, Central European states better their ties with the Federal Republic of Germany. In Asia, however, Japan’s position has deteriorated. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), not wasting much time on the past, wanted Tokyo’s money, which it got in vast amounts. Today, Beijing no longer needs the cash. Japan’s ally, the U.S., has replaced the Soviets as the enemy. Moreover, the CCP now fosters Japanophobia to bolster its chauvinistic credentials.

Typhoon Haiyan and the Philippine Military

By Wu Shang-su
November 25, 2013


A Philippine Air Force crew drops a box containing energy biscuits to Typhoon Haiyan survivors.

The disaster may affect the modernization of the military, with disaster relief favored over external defense.

The disaster inflicted by Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) has the potential to significantly shape the development path taken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Like its counterparts in other countries, the AFP is tasked with the missions of both external defense and humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR), in addition to its counterinsurgency operations. However, with long-term underinvestment caused by economic constraints, domestic politics, insurgency, and an over-reliance on the U.S., the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Philippine Navy (PN) have struggled to maintain their limited number of aging assets, which are unable to successfully carry out either external defense or HADR. The PAF has been without a fighter jet since 2005 and the PN, with vessels of World War II vintage, has severe difficulty defending the extensive territorial waters of the Philippines, as evidenced in recent disputes with China and Taiwan.

When it comes to disaster relief, despite the AFP’s extensive experience in responding to frequent earthquakes and typhoons, its lack of capacity for airlift and sea transport limits its humanitarian capabilities in the archipelagic environment. With just three C-130 transporters, a limited number of utility helicopters and a few landing and logistic vessels, Manila is unlikely to be able to deliver satisfactory quantities of materials and other aid to one or more affected areas among the 7100 islands of the Philippines.

Incompatible Approaches: External Defense and HADR

Thanks to economic growth and territorial challenges from other countries, Manila took a major step toward military modernization with 24 projects this year. These projects imply policymaker concerns about external defense and HADR missions. As the 12 Korean F/A 50 light fighters, two frigates, radar surveillance system, and long-range patrol aircraft are designed to strengthen external defense, amphibious vehicles, multi-purpose assault craft, helicopters and service support ships are geared towards HADR. Unfortunately, given the scale of those projects, either external defense or HADR will not be substantially satisfied and further investment is needed.

Mount Sinabung Eruptions Displace More Than 15,000 Indonesians

Flights cancelled and residents on high alert as volcano spews rocks and ash.
November 25, 2013

After eight violent eruptions that occurred just hours apart on Sunday, Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency has called for the evacuations of more than 15,000 residents who live within a five-kilometer radius of Mount Sinabung. The 2,500-meter-tall volcano, located on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra, has been increasingly active since September. The latest string of eruptions has sent rocks and huge columns of gray ash as high as eight kilometers into the sky.

“People panicked last night as the eruption was accompanied by a loud thunderous sound and vibrations. Then it started raining down rocks,” said Robert Peranginangin, a local government spokesperson, in an interview with AFP. “They ran helter-skelter out of their homes and cried for help.”

Clouds of ash from Mount Sinabung, situated only 88 kilometers from the North Sumatra provincial capital of Medan, is already causing flight disruptions. Kuala Namu International Airport, located just outside of Medan and opposite Mount Sinabung, has seen many flights cancelled or delayed.

Domestic carrier Susi Air has halted all five of its daily flights from Kuala Namu, citing the dangerous plumes of hot ash that are blanketing the region.

“It’s quite thick. All of our planes in Kuala Namu were covered in ash this morning,” Hadi Zulfadi, Susi Air’s operational manager, told The Jakarta Post. “This could be very dangerous if we insist on travel. Thus, we decided to temporarily halt operations.”

Malaysian carrier Air Asia has also delayed departures until further notice.

Indonesian authorities have reported no known loss of life due to the volcanic eruptions – a stark contrast to the country’s deadly 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi that claimed the lives of more than 350 people in central Java. Authorities did, however, raise the danger warning for Mount Sinabung.

“We have raised the status to ‘caution,’ which is the highest of levels for volcanic activity because we anticipate there will be more eruptions and because the intensity of eruptions has been increasing,” read a statement by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Mount Sinabung sits atop the “Ring of Fire,” an earthquake and volcanic eruption-prone area that stretches across the Pacific Ocean due to unstable plate tectonics. It is just one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

The Best Deal with Iran That We Can Get

One that Focuses on the Real Threat and Needs for Arms Control
Nov 24, 2013

One needs to be very careful about the deal the P5+1 has reached with Iran. It is still not clear that the Supreme Leader will accept it or that Iran will put it into practice. It is a preliminary agreement that must be followed up by lasting Iranian compliance, acceptance by the U.S. and other nations, and must be maintained indefinitely into the future. 

Masking the agreement work requires a delicate balancing act by the U.S. and other members of the P5+1. The P5+1 must make it clear to Iran that any failure to honor the agreement will lead to even more stringent sanctions and that the risk of preventive strikes, extended deterrence, missile developments and a massive military build up in the Gulf remains real, all the while showing Iran that a real opening to the U.S. and the world offers it security and significant new opportunities for economic development.

Arms control agreements fail all too often in the course of time if they do not lead to political agreements and improved relations. Time and new technologies can undermine even the best agreements, and the nuclear issue is only one issue that divides the Middle East. Iran’s tensions with Israel have already triggered an Israeli nuclear effort to deter and confront Iran with assured destruction. The Gulf states and many other Sunni Arab state see Iran as a critical threat because of its role in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, and other Arab states and its growing asymmetric threat in the Gulf.

As first steps go, however, this the agreement the P5+1 reached in Geneva offers what is almost certainly the best possible agreement the U.S. and its allies could negotiate, it offers Iran a new path to progress and development, and it offers the region new hope that it can avoid new conflicts and the risk of a massive arms race.

What the New Agreement Actually Offers

Press summaries tell only part of the story, and far too many commentators have already rushed to take certain aspects of the agreement out of context. It can only be judged in terms of its full contents, and the White House fact sheet on the agreement says that it offers the following terms:

A Six Month Interim Agreement Will Role Back the Most Critical Parts of the Threat

The initial, six month step includes significant limits on Iran's nuclear program and begins to address our most urgent concerns including Iran’s enrichment capabilities; its existing stockpiles of enriched uranium; the number and capabilities of its centrifuges; and its ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor. 

This Is Bigger Than a Nuclear Deal

The agreement with the Islamic Republic isn't just a diplomatic milestone—it symbolizes an unprecedented era in U.S.-Iran relations.

Uri Friedman Nov 24 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after a ceremony at the United Nations in Geneva on November 24. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

We have a deal.

After several setbacks, negotiators in Geneva have reached a historic agreement that will place restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for easing some of the sanctions arrayed against the country. In the early hours of Sunday morning in Switzerland, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif broke the news in a tweet:


We have reached an agreement.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) November 24, 2013

The details are still coming into focus, but here are the basics: Iran will stop enriching uranium beyond the 5-percent level (nuclear power plants typically run on 3.5 percent-enriched uranium), refrain from installing new centrifuges for uranium enrichment, and dilute or convert to oxide its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium (a level that allows Iran to quickly enrich uranium to the weapons-grade threshold of 90 percent). It will also refrain from producing fuel for or operating its heavy-water reactor near the city of Arak, which experts believe could produce weapons-grade plutonium. International monitors will be granted expanded access to Iran's nuclear facilities.


In response, world powers will offer Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Critically, the accord appears to be ambiguous on Iran’s right to enrich uranium—a key sticking point in the talks—with Iran and the United States interpreting the text in different ways.

It’s a big deal, though best seen as a temporary, brittle one designed to buy the parties six months to hammer out a longer-term—and far trickier—agreement.

But what’s arguably a bigger deal, and what’s been overshadowed in all the coverage of the haggling over this interim pact, is just how momentous these last several months have been for U.S.-Iranian relations. Since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office this summer, the two countries have engaged in the highest-level talks since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, first through ameeting between Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry, and then through a phone call between Rouhani and President Obama (the two had previously exchanged letters). Zarif has also pioneered a new approach to speaking directly to the American people, turning to social-media outlets like Twitter and YouTube to defend, in English, Iran’s positions at the Geneva negotiations.

The uses of force

Two difficult wars offer compelling lessons
Nov 23rd 2013 

We’re the US Army and we’re here to help


“AMATEURS TALK STRATEGY, professionals talk capacity.” Jeremy Shapiro, who recently left the State Department to join the Brookings Institution in Washington, has put his finger on a central question for foreign policy. For the liberal, open-market system to endure is in America’s interest—and in the general interest, too. America does not yet face a direct challenge from China and Russia. But as the dominant power it must be able and willing to maintain the system, or norms will fray and tensions grow. Does it have the capacity?

The question forces itself on policymakers just now because the demands placed on American primacy have changed. In the cold war, explains John Ikenberry, an academic, America provided security and other services to many countries. But the threat is no longer so great and security is therefore no longer so valuable. For many countries in large parts of the world, the past decade has been not about war and financial crisis but about peace and prosperity. Those countries want more of a say. 

At the same time, according to Moisés Naím of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the old centres of power, including governments, have less room for manoeuvre. Their authority to dictate values and behaviour has been undermined by a profusion of new political actors and interest groups who are mobile and connected.

Some conclude that in such a world dominance is impossible: there are too many actors with the power to block anything they dislike. The rest of this special report will examine how far that is true by looking at the components of American primacy—sharp military power, sticky economic power and the sweet power of American values—before drawing some conclusions about how America should act. In each case, as Mr Shapiro has observed, the starting point is capacity.

Seen from Washington, the main threat to America’s armed forces is to be found not in Helmand or Hainan but in the automatic budget cuts of the sequester. This roughly doubles the savings that will have to come from the Pentagon’s budget in the next nine years, to about $1 trillion.

Industry, Military Emphasize Need for ‘Cyberwarrior’ Training as Attacks Increase

December 2013 
By Yasmin Tadjdeh 

Government and military leaders have for years warned of increasingly pervasive and nefarious cyber-attacks. The network intrusions, perpetrated by nation states, hacktivists and thieves, are growing rapidly, experts have said.

To quell attacks, a premium has been put on so-called “cyberwarriors” — professionals trained to root out and stop network intrusions at some of the nation’s largest institutions and military and government agencies.

At U.S. Cyber Command, based at Ft. Meade, Md., officials said the importance of having a properly trained workforce is essential to stopping attacks.

“There is nothing more vital to our mission of defending our nation’s networks than a trained and ready cyberworkforce. Cyber has become an integral part of our interconnected world and our warfighting capabilities,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Jim Keffer, chief of staff for USCYBERCOM, told National Defense in an email.

Programs that allow trainees to tinker with computers to fix vulnerabilities or stave off attacks from simulated hackers are immensely useful, he said.

“One of the best tools we use at USCYBERCOM for training is our exercise network, not connected to any operational network or the Internet at large, that has been created purely for exercise purposes,” Keffer said. “This tool allows our cyberprofessionals to test their skills in a working environment against simulated, realistic attacks without impacting our operational real-world networks.”

Trainees receive a minimum of 12 weeks of instruction, he said. 

“That’s just to get started. To be qualified at the advanced level in a joint operational environment takes a few years, depending on the particular job,” Keffer said.

As breaches have increased, a wider variety of institutions are being targeted. Last year, the financial sector took a beating when Iran allegedly targeted banks with numerous distributed denial of service attacks.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that called for better cybersecurity protections for critical infrastructure. Many experts see public works, such as the electrical grid, as a sitting duck. 

At Cyber Command, officials said the threat is changing and volatile.

“In the news, we’ve seen the trend in malware shift from DDoS, or distributed denial of service [attacks], which is mostly just inconvenient, to destructive in nature, as evidenced by the Saudi Aramco” attack and other high-profile intrusions, Keffer said.

Military power The uses of force

Two difficult wars offer compelling lessons
Nov 23rd 2013 

We’re the US Army and we’re here to help

“AMATEURS TALK STRATEGY, professionals talk capacity.” Jeremy Shapiro, who recently left the State Department to join the Brookings Institution in Washington, has put his finger on a central question for foreign policy. For the liberal, open-market system to endure is in America’s interest—and in the general interest, too. America does not yet face a direct challenge from China and Russia. But as the dominant power it must be able and willing to maintain the system, or norms will fray and tensions grow. Does it have the capacity?

The question forces itself on policymakers just now because the demands placed on American primacy have changed. In the cold war, explains John Ikenberry, an academic, America provided security and other services to many countries. But the threat is no longer so great and security is therefore no longer so valuable. For many countries in large parts of the world, the past decade has been not about war and financial crisis but about peace and prosperity. Those countries want more of a say.

At the same time, according to Moisés Naím of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the old centres of power, including governments, have less room for manoeuvre. Their authority to dictate values and behaviour has been undermined by a profusion of new political actors and interest groups who are mobile and connected.

Some conclude that in such a world dominance is impossible: there are too many actors with the power to block anything they dislike. The rest of this special report will examine how far that is true by looking at the components of American primacy—sharp military power, sticky economic power and the sweet power of American values—before drawing some conclusions about how America should act. In each case, as Mr Shapiro has observed, the starting point is capacity.

Seen from Washington, the main threat to America’s armed forces is to be found not in Helmand or Hainan but in the automatic budget cuts of the sequester. This roughly doubles the savings that will have to come from the Pentagon’s budget in the next nine years, to about $1 trillion.

During the summer Chuck Hagel, the defence secretary, mapped out a possible first round of cuts: shrinking the army by up to 110,000 troops from its current target of 490,000; and losing possibly two of ten aircraft-carriers, as well as bombers and transport aircraft. The alternative, Mr Hagel said, was to cut spending on modernisation.

Depending on the Right People: British Political-Military Relations, 2001–10

Programme Report
James de Waal, November 2013

Executive Summary

There is a widespread view that Britain’s politicians should bear the main blame for the country’s military difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, they are accused of failing to heed professional military advice and of launching over-ambitious missions with insufficient resources.

Recent evidence, including from the Iraq Inquiry, shows that this view is too simplistic. Instead, Britain seems to have suffered a wider failure of the government system, with politicians, senior military officers and civil servants all playing their part.

Faced with a challenging international and domestic political situation, policy-makers often acted with good intentions but variable results. Politicians and civil servants did not wish to be accused of interfering with military planning, and so did little to ensure that military action supported political aims.

They were also apprehensive of the close relationship between the armed forces and the media, and were therefore reluctant to challenge military opinion. For their part, some senior officers showed little appreciation of the political impact of military action, while others felt their role was principally to support the institutional interests of their branch of the armed forces.

This led to decisions on the use of military force not being taken solely on the basis of national interest, but because of politicians’ wish to maintain good relations with the armed forces. In 2002–03, Britain decided to make a ground force contribution to the invasion of Iraq, with implicit responsibility for post-war security in that country’s southern provinces, primarily because politicians feared they would have problems with the British army if it was left out, and that these problems would find their way into the media. In 2009, Downing Street was not convinced of the military need to send reinforcements to Afghanistan, but agreed to do so because it wanted to prevent hostile press briefings by the military.

Elbit Systems's Mission Training Center goes operational

IssueNet Edition| Date : 25 Nov , 2013

The center incorporates a “Mission Training” system that allows fighter pilots to fly operational and tactical missions 

Elbit Systems announced that the Mission Training Center (MTC) for the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) pilots of F-16C/D and F-16I fighter aircraft is now operational and currently being used by the IAF.

The MTC, operating through a PFI (Private Financing Initiative) concept, successfully completed the development phase and is now operational, with Elbit Systems performing the instruction, operation and maintenance services.

The new operational MTC marks a significant breakthrough in the operational training sector. The system enables training in various mission scenarios in different theaters with the relevant threat environment for each theater. The MTC brings an advanced training capability that was not available to the IAF in the past.

At its core, the MTC is a unique “Mission Training” system that enables coordinated training between the various trainees, both within the IAF and at an interoperable strategic level. It is based on Elbit Systems’ “One sim” infrastructure that incorporates an advanced arena generator for “realistic” virtual environments that are as close to reality as possible, as well as a unique infrastructure that supports the demanding environment used in the MTC. IAF teams are able to train in two-ship, four-ship and even eight-ship formations, with flight inspector’s full supervision that can, as desired, take an active part in each training session by actually flying adversary forces.

The system enables the pilots to train together with operational controllers from the various control units of the IAF. The pilots and controllers receive the mission orders from the MTC team, plan together and afterwards execute the mission with each member of the team training in an operational role.

With its high quality operational training capabilities, the operational MTC allows the IAF to conduct training sorties onboard the trainers rather than actual fighter jets, thus allowing maximized use of existing resources, reducing life cycle costs and enhancing readiness and effectiveness of the IAF and its fighter pilots.

Britain needs to take a page from American civil-military relations

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Posted By Thomas E. Ricks
November 21, 2013

By James de Waal 
Best Defense guest columnist

Much of the story of America's Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- written by Tom and others -- is the story of the relationship between politicians and military officers. Hirings and firings of generals and admirals have marked changes of policy and shifts in the fortune of war.

Britain has been fighting the same wars, but its story is different. In the dominant British narrative, most of its military failures are to be blamed on reckless and naïve politicians, while its generals were reluctant warriors doing their duty in difficult circumstances. And while politicians like Tony Blair have seen their careers blighted by the wars, no senior military officer has paid a similar penalty.

As I argue in a new report for Chatham House, this is too simple a story. While British politicians must shoulder ultimate responsibility for what happened on their watch, it's also clear that senior military officers and civilian officials also played their part. Some key decisions seem to have been the result of military lobbying via the media, or the armed forces acting without or contrary to political direction. For example:
  • In 2003, Britain decided to make a ground force contribution to the invasion of Iraq not for military reasons, but in order (according to a government document) to avoid the "negative reaction of many of our military personnel -- particularly in the Army" which "could find its way into the media."
  • In 2006, British forces sought no political approval before redeploying to the north of Helmand province, changing their mission from stabilization to "fighting for their lives in a series of Alamos," as one general put it.
  • In 2009, the British government was not convinced of the military need to send reinforcements to Afghanistan, but agreed to do so because it wanted to avoid hostile press briefings by the military.
In these, and other similar cases, those involved may have believed they were acting honorably and in the country's best interests. But the way some elements of the British military seem to have felt able to challenge and lobby their political masters suggests something wrong with the way the British took their decisions.

In contrast to the United States, Britain has no equivalent of Goldwater-Nichols, and a much weaker public and academic debate on civil-military relations (beyond the ritual mention of the wartime Churchill-Brooke relationship).