29 March 2015

Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida in Syria seize major city

Mar 29, 2015

BEIRUT: Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida's branch in Syria seized almost full control of the northwestern city of Idlib on Saturday, taking over major roundabouts and government buildings in a powerful blow to President Bashar Assad whose forces rapidly collapsed after four days of heavy fighting, opposition activists and the extremist group said. 

Idlib, a major urban center with a population of around 165,000 people, is the second provincial capital to fall into opposition hands after Raqqa, now a stronghold of the Islamic State group. Its capture by the Nusra Front underscores the growing power of extremist groups in Syria who now control about half the country. 

Opposition fighters including Nusra have controlled the countryside and towns across Idlib province since 2012, but Assad's forces have managed to maintain their grip on Idlib city, near the border with Turkey, throughout the conflict. 

On Saturday, Islamic fighters jubilantly swept in, taking over key buildings and tearing down posters of Assad. Videos posted online by activists and the Nusra Front showed a group of heavily armed fighters kneeling down in prayer in the city's sprawling Hanana square as others fired their guns in celebration. 

Nigeria recaptures Boko Haram 'HQ' Gwoza

Mar 29, 2015

ABUJA: Nigeria's military on Sunday announced that troops had retaken the town of Gwoza from Boko Haram, from which the group declared their caliphate last year.

"Troops this morning captured Gwoza destroying the Headquarters of the Terrorists self-styled Caliphate," Defence Headquarters in Abuja said on Twitter.

"Several terrorists died while many are captured. Mopping up of entire Gwoza and her suburbs is ongoing," it added in a separate message.

Earlier this month, residents who fled the town in Borno state told AFP that militants had been massing in Gwoza and killing local people who were unable to flee.

That led to speculation that the group, which has been pushed out of a number of towns in three northeast states in recent weeks, was preparing for a final assault.

India and Pakistan Locked in a Nuclear Naval Arms Race

A new report provides a useful summary of the naval nuclear dynamics in the Indian Ocean.

A while back, I reported on the murky detailssurrounding Pakistan’s sea-based nuclear deterrent. Much of it remains a mystery, including its future submarine force.

Conversely, the Indian Navy still does not have a capable ballistic missile with which to arm the INS Arihant – New Delhi’s only ballistic missile submarine (which only began sea trials in December). India’s submarine fleet is also experiencing difficulties in maintaining its readiness rate, which has dropped below 40 percent.

Out of Afghanistan: US Needs to Rethink its Afghan Policy

March 24, 2015

The visit of the Afghan President and Chief Executive to Washington this week is crucial because it is likely to lay down the framework for future US engagement and involvement in Afghanistan. Reports in the US media suggest that Afghan leaders are going to urge the American President to stall the pull-out of US troops and rejig the withdrawal plan. For its part, the Obama administration has already made some adjustments in the draw-down schedule and has also allowed US troops to engage in combat operations against the Taliban if US interests are at stake or in danger. But whether or not the US will accede to the requests of the Afghan leadership and extend its military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2016 will depend on not just how much the Afghan leaders can convince the Americans about their future plans but also on domestic politics in the US. Moreover, global geopolitics and new hotspots in the Middle East could divert US attention and commitment away from Afghanistan.

Busted Stuff: America's Disastrous Iran Policy


A deal on nukes won't be enough. America needs to change its geopolitical view of Iran.

Stakes in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 couldn’t be higher for the countries involved—especially for the United States. After nearly a decade and a half of disastrously self-damaging wars, “counter-terrorism campaigns,” and military occupations in the Middle East, the dysfunction and incoherence of U.S. policy is now on full display, from Iraq to Libya, Syria, and now Yemen. To recover, Washington must accept on-the-ground realities: U.S. efforts to dominate the region have failed and the Islamic Republic of Iran is now a rising power with which America must come to terms. 

Pakistan’s New Missile Disrupts Nuclear Stability in South Asia

Arka Biswas
March 27, 2015
Source Link

Pakistan recently test-fired a surface-to-surface ballistic missile, Shaheen III. Capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, the missile is estimated to have a maximum range of 2750 km. While it has been claimed to provide a boost to Pakistan’s strategic depth and to deterrence stability in South Asia, a careful examination of how Shaheen III impacts the deterrence equation between India and Pakistan captures the latest Pakistani missile to be instead counter-productive.

Shaheen III is the latest addition in the Shaheen series. The previously developed and successfully tested missile, Shaheen II, is estimated to have a range of around 2500 km. The range of Shaheen II continues to remain a rough estimate. For instance, right after Pakistan tested Shaheen II in March 2004, Pakistan’s National Engineering and Science Commission (NESCOM) chairman, Samar Mubarakmand, was quoted saying that “the full range of the missile was 2,500 km although it was tested only to 2,000 km, the edge of Pakistan’s sea limits.” 

3 Lessons from Lee Kuan Yew

March 27, 2015 

They expected him to fail. But fifty years later while we remember the man, Harry Lee Kuan Yew, who transformed Singapore from a British colonial outpost into a prosperous, global city-state, we must not overlook some of hiskey lessons in leadership.

After separation from Malaysia, the future of Singapore looked bleak. Lee inherited a toxic mix of racial unrest, an unemployment rate of thirty percent, domestic instability, and economic uncertainty. Singapore could have followed the path of some of its neighbors: increasing nationalist rhetoric, racial division, economic instability, communist insurgency, and continued unrest. Lee could have followed the path of Sukarno, Marcos, or even Diem. Lee concluded otherwise.

Lee Kuan Yew fundamentally understood that people are everything. Long before the era of corporate strategists, new age gurus, or smooth-talking politicos, Lee saw that the development of the people of Singapore--its core natural resource--was the key to long-term economic growth, social development, and national prosperity. It helped that Singapore was located in one of the key global maritime choke points but its long-term ability to seize such opportunities rested on the skills of its labor force and ambition of its nascent middle class. Lee and his ministers carried it out by following three general principles.

Indonesia, China Seal 'Maritime Partnership'

March 27, 2015

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is paying a state visit to China this week, marking his second trip to Beijing since he assumed office in October 2014. After meetings in Beijing with Chinese leaders, Jokowi will join other regional leaders (including Sri Lankan Prime Minister Maithripala Sirisena) at the Boao Forum in Hainan Province.

In his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Jokowi noted approvingly that “our cooperation in all fields has progressed” since the two last met, on the sidelines of the November 2014 APEC summit in Beijing. Jokowi assured Xi that “Indonesia is committed to deepening its cooperation with China at the bilateral, regional, and international levels.”

Hidden Dragon: China's 'Smoke and Mirrors' Military Posture

March 27, 2015 

Every year at the beginning of March, China convenes the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference to listen to the premier’s government work report, consider new laws and discuss China’s future. The so-called “Two Meetings” also include a large contingent of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) delegates, who play up the legitimacy of China’s approach to security and justify the security budget. Compared to previous years, the PLA contingent downplayed the military’s deterrent role and avoided any “peace through strength” talk. On policy, President Xi Jinping reiterated the importance of military-civil integration as the way for China’s military to develop the human and technical expertise to achieve the goal of “fighting and winning local wars under informatized conditions.”

Diplomatic Access: South Korea

March 25, 2015
For spring 2015, The Diplomat presents “Diplomatic Access,” a series of exclusive interviews with ambassadors from the Asia-Pacific region. By talking to these diplomats, we’ll give readers a sense of each country’s perspective on various regional economic and security trends — from TPP to the Silk Road Economic Belt; from the South China Sea disputes to the Islamic State. Check out the whole series to datehere.

In this interview, His Excellency Ahn Ho-Young, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the U.S., outlines South Korea’s concerns about and hopes for the Asia-Pacific region, including the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

The Diplomat: From the Republic of Korea’s perspective, what are the greatest threats to regional security?

China, Kazakhstan Sign $23 Billion in Deals

March 28, 2015

China expands its economic ties with an important partner for its Silk Road Economic Belt project. 
If China and Russia are warring for influence in Kazakhstan, as Arthur Guschin argued in a recent piece, then China just upped the ante. With Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov in China in advance of the Boao Forum, he and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang oversaw the signing of 33 deals worth a whopping $23.6 billion.

According to Xinhua, the deals include projects in the “steel, non-ferrous metals, sheet glass, oil refining, hydropower and automobile” industries. Li praised the deals as a sign of the complementary nature of the Chinese and Kazakh economies.

China Slams Philippines For South China Sea ‘Hypocrisy’

March 27, 2015

Beijing turns the tables on Manila for resuming works in the South China Sea. 

China slammed the Philippines for its hypocrisy on the South China Sea after Manila said that it would resume repair and reconstruction works there, news outlets reported Friday.

While the Philippines had halted such activities last year and suggested other countries do so as well because it was concerned about potential effects on its ongoing legal case against China, Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario had said Thursday that it would resume some activities. The move came amid massive Chinese land reclamation efforts there which Philippine officials say is designed to bolster Beijing’s territorial claims and alter the status quo before any legal verdict is even reached by the arbitral tribunal at The Hague.

Is China Secretly Building a Navy Base in Africa?

March 28, 2015

Plus, more on China-Africa relations, China’s anti-corruption tsar, and CCP factionalism. Friday China links. 
Writing for Real Clear Defense, Robert C. O’Brienexplores reports that China is looking to build an overseas naval base in Namibia. O’Brien notes the historical strategic importance of Walvis Bay, Namibia’s sole deep water port, adding that the South Atlantic is generally “below the radar of most policy makers today.” If the PLA Navy does construct a base at Walvis Bay, he writes, “It would have the ability to patrol the critical Cape of Good Hope around Africa and Cape Horn around South America. The approaches to the key North Atlantic sea lanes linking the Americas, Africa and Europe would be nearby.”

Afghans in America: Takeaways from Ghani and Abdullah's US Visit

March 27, 2015

Can Afghanistan’s problem be solved by a shift to a parliamentary system of government? 

This week, both Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, its Chief Executive Officer (yes, CEO — he’s joked about this acronym, recently saying that it was like being a prime minister, but not fully) visited the United States to express gratitude and shore up continued American support for their country. The trip was well received by American politicians and Ghani’saddress to a joint session of Congress was met with multiple standing ovations.

Will Japan Cooperate With China's Infrastructure Bank?

March 27, 2015

As countries line up to join China’s AIIB, Japan has a decision to make. 

On October 24, 2014, 21 Asian nations signed on to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The bank is led and – for now at least – primarily funded by China, and is intended to provide loans for building infrastructure (from roads to mobile phone towers) in under-developed parts of Asia.

For a long time, observers expected AIIB to be a competitor to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the more established bank primarily backed by the U.S. and Japan. The banks would not “compete” in economic terms, as neither of them alone or even working together could finance all of Asia’s infrastructure needs, but there is a sense that the AIIB’s lower standards could undercut local goals that ADB’s more stringent conditions promote. However, on Wednesday, ADB President Takehiko Nakao said that ADB is willing to co-finance projects with AIIB if the latter meets the former’s standards for loans.

Is a Deadly U.S.-China Arms Race Impossible to Stop?


While the chances of a U.S.-China war are thankfully low, the challenges presented by a slowly brewing high-tech security dilemma keep growing. Is there any way Washington and Beijing can change course before such a contest becomes so ingrained in Asia that reversing it will prove next to impossible?

Indeed, just as the brewing U.S.-Sino security dilemma pitting anti-access area denial (A2/AD) against what was formerly known as Air-Sea Battle (ASB) has built in intensity over time, creating, testing and implementing solutions to escape such a dilemma will also take time. While many would look to qualitative or quantitative political science–based theories to solve this dilemma, I advocate an approach that seeks to demolish to some degree the foundations on which the A2/AD vs. ASB “cause and effect” dynamic is built.

ISIS as Cult

March 26, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is the final of four excerpts from the new book, ISIS: The State of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger. In case you missed them, here are Part I, Part II, and Part III.

In a study that is widely seen as among the most important contributions to social psychology, a team of observers joined a prophetic, apocalyptic cult to determine what would happen to the group if the predicted events failed to materialize. Marian Keech (a pseudonym for Dorothy Martin), the leader of the cult, predicted the destruction of much of the United States in a great flood, scheduled for December 21, 1955. She told her followers that they would be rescued from the floodwaters by a team of outer-space men in flying saucers with whom she was able to communicate, she said, through telepathy. When the apocalyptic flood did not materialize, instead of walking away from the cult and its leader, most members continued as loyal followers, and commenced efforts to recruit new followers.

Washington, Riyadh, and the Strategic Importance of Yemen

March 27, 2015

Yemen is a growing reminder of just how important the strategic U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia really is. It is one thing to talk about the war against ISIS, and quite another to realize that U.S. strategic interests require a broad level of stability in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula and one that is dependent on Saudi Arabia as a key strategic partner.

Saudi Arabia has already taken an important lead in Yemen that will need U.S. support. Saudi Arabia and allies are now conducting air strikes in Yemen to try to halt the advance of a Houthi militia, with strong ties to Iran, which is attempting to end President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's efforts to relocate Yemen's elected government to Aden.

Why has the Iraqi Offensive against ISIS Stalled?

March 24, 2015

With much fanfare the Iraqi government led by Haider al-Abadi announced some time ago that a military offensive had begun to ‘take back’ from the ISIS the important city of Tikrit; the hometown of the ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and situated in the Sunni heartland. It was fondly hoped that re-establishing control over Tikrit would open the way to Mosul – the capture of which would be the final nail in the coffin of the dreaded ISIS. But weeks have gone by and there is no news yet that Tikrit has been fully occupied or that ISIS fighters have finally been ousted from that city. It is reported that the Iraqi offensive has stalled just outside Tikrit. What seems to be going on?

Russia Conducts Test of RS-26 RUBEZH Missile System

March 27, 2015

Russia has successfully test-fired an RS-26 Rubezh ballistic missile that can penetrate the sophisticated missile defenses.

The missile’s dummy warhead hit its target at the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan just minutes after takeoff from the Kapustin Yar rocket launch and development site in the southern Astrakhan region on March 18, Kommersant newspaper reported Thursday.

The initial test launch of the RS-26 ICBM from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on September 28, 2011 failed with the missile veering and landing just eight kilometers from the launch site. All subsequent tests in 2012, 2013 and 2015 proved successful.

The RS-26 Rubezh is expected to become operational in 2016.Currently it is unknown whether this missile carries a single warhead or Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs).

Both configurations were tested in 2013. Rubezh is more accurate than current ballistic missiles.

Can US Energy Exports 'Pivot to Asia'?

By Qinnan Zhou
March 27, 2015

U.S. energy exports could shore up Asia’s energy security — if political hurdles are overcome. 
The past decade has brought ground-shaking changes to global energy markets. The unconventional fuel boom has unexpectedly reduced U.S. dependence on oil imports, while in the Asia-Pacific region, energy-constrained nations are increasingly reliant on foreign sources to meet their soaring demand. With the U.S. slated to export liquid natural gas (LNG) to Asia as early as 2017, a new energy era has come.

The shifting landscape is forcing countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China to rethink regional cooperation on energy issues such as strategic oil stocks, and technological and institutional coordination, said Mikkal E. Herberg, senior lecturer at the University of California, San Diego, and research director of the Energy Security Program at the National Bureau of Asian Research, at a Capitol Hill event on February 24.

Russia Ditches Plans for Super Advanced 5th Generation Fighter Jets


The Russian military is scaling back initial requirements for the fifth generation T-50 (PAK FA) fighters to twelve planes, after initially planning for fifty-two. Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said that this was due to economic considerations.

However, Borisov noted that the Defense Ministry reserves the right to determine the number of fifth generation fighters for purchase, so the initial plans may be corrected.

Sorry, Obama: An Iran Deal Won't Save the Middle East

March 28, 2015
“You can dwell on Yemen,” a senior State Department official told Politico’s Michael Crowley the other day, “or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what everyone agrees is the biggest threat to the region.”

“Everyone agrees”—well, not everyone. A radically different interpretation of an Iran deal was front and center Friday at the Center for the National Interest. “Never in our lifetimes,” said David Rothkopf, former Clinton administration official and CEO and Editor, The FP Group, has every single country in the Middle East (with the exception of Oman) been involved in conflict. An analogy to the chaos in the Balkans, he said, would not be over the top. Even the nuclear deal, he suggested, “looks very likely not to be anything like the nuclear deal we sought to get.” The risk of an Iranian nuclear weapon is secondary, Rothkopf argued, to the regional nuclear proliferation that Iranian nuclear gains could provoke, as “that increases the risk that weapons fall in the wrong hands”; the one-year breakout time being held up as a reasonable target in the current talks means that each state feeling threatened “will be put in the position of having to defend itself.” “Thus,” he argued, “the proliferation risk remains.”

Of Catfish Wars and Shooting Wars

Roger Cohen
MARCH 26, 2015

THANH BINH, Vietnam — I drove out through a watery landscape, the rice paddies shimmering, watermelon being planted in muddy fields. There were ducks on the canals, graves and shrines in the light green rice fields, the dead among the living, not hidden but recalled daily. Women in conical hats pushed bicycles over rickety wooden bridges. The breeze was warm, the viscous coffee sweet. Cafes set with hammocks, some advertising Wi-Fi, offered sugar cane juice pressed through small hand-cranked mills. Everything felt liquid, soft, fluid here in the Mekong Delta, an aqueous microclimate.

Yes, the dead among the living: four decades gone by since the war, the bombs and the napalm — twitchy young Americans at the other side of the world wondering what menace lurked in this lush vegetation. America mired in the mud of an unwinnable war.

9 Killed After Al-Shabaab Fighters Attack Mogadishu Hotel

http://www.matthewaid.com/post/114771702996/9-killed-after-al-shabaab-fighters-attack

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Al-Shabab militants blasted their way into a Mogadishu hotel and took positions inside, exchanging fire with security forces seeking to regain control of the facility late Friday, a Somali police official said.

At least four gunmen had trapped an unknown number of people inside the building, Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press.

Al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist group that has carried out many attacks here, claimed responsibility for the assault on the Maka Al-Mukarramah hotel, which is popular with Somali government officials and foreigners.

Some people jumped out of the hotel’s windows, and one who made it safely outside said the gunmen were killing anyone they could find.

Japan Launches New Spy Satellite Into Orbit

Stephen Clark
March 27, 2015

A new surveillance satellite equipped with a high-resolution optical camera blasted into space aboard a Japanese H-2A rocket Thursday, joining a fleet of spy stations in orbit to track military activity in North Korea and other locations around the world.

Owned and operated by the Japanese government, the reconnaissance spacecraft lifted off at 0121 GMT Thursday (9:21 p.m. EDT Wednesday) from the picturesque Tanegashima Space Center situated on an island in southwestern Japan, where the launch occurred at 10:21 a.m. local time.

The satellite rocketed into space aboard Japan’s H-2A rocket, which steered south from Tanegashima to deploy its payload into polar orbit. The launcher aimed to release the satellite in an orbit about 300 miles above Earth.

Yahoo Publishes New Transparency Report on Govt Requests for Customer Data

Rachel King
March 27, 2015

Yahoo published a rather routine update to its bi-annual transparency report on Thursday.

Covering the window between July and December 2014, the document offers a glimpse into the number of requests for user data and content removal demanded by government agencies in the nations where Yahoo operates.

This includes National Security Letters (NSLs) and criminal data requests, including search warrants, court orders, and subpoenas issued in criminal investigations.

Yahoo highlighted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests are on a slightly different time table (January 1 - June 30, 2014) because they are subject to a six-month delay imposed by the U.S. Government. Yahoo also clarified that the U.S. data posted doesn’t include domestic national security requests.

Questions Being Asked About U.S. Intelligence Role in Botched Philippine Commando Operation

Trefor Moss
March 27, 2015

MANILA—The most easterly outpost in the U.S. military’s global war on terrorism was close to signing off in triumph after helping to eliminate one of the last high-value terrorist targets in Southeast Asia.

Instead, after 13 years of operations, the U.S. military deployment on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao is ending on a sour note.

A Philippine-led, American-supported mission succeeded in killing Malaysian terrorism suspect Zulkifli Bin Hir on Jan. 25, but at a dreadful price: 44 Philippine police commandos died in accidental firefighting with Muslim rebels, and a delicate peace process on Mindanao that took years to foster has been left hanging in the balance.

Backgrounder of the Saudi-Led Coalition of Forces in Yemen

March 27, 2015

DUBAI, March 27 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and allies launched air strikes in Yemen on Thursday to stop the advance of the Iran-allied Houthi militia towards President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s southern refuge of Aden.

Saudi Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir said a coalition of more than 10 countries had joined the military campaign to try to protect Hadi’s government, without naming the countries involved.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar signed a joint statement with Saudi Arabia announcing the military action, leaving Oman as the only member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) not to join the coalition.

F-35 Needs a Bigger, More Powerful Engine

March 27, 2015 

Upgraded future versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could replace the stealthy jet’s Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan with a new adaptive cycle engine. The current F135 engine is at the limits of its capabilities and can’t push the jet out to the outer edges of its airframes capabilities—especially at low speeds.

“Our adaptive cycle design architecture is designed around F-35, and we’re designing it somewhat more aggressively than today’s standard F-35 requirements,” Dan McCormick, general manager of General Electric Aviation’s Advanced Combat Engine program, told The National Interest. “They want higher speeds and they just can’t get the heat off the airplane. They’ve told us they want unrestricted flight envelope operation.”

How the Kurds' Power Play Backfired in Turkey

March 27, 2015 

The HDP's attempt to refashion itself as the new, broad liberal force for Turks and Kurds might have done more harm than good.

Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s recent calls for the Kurdish militants to end the armed struggle inside Turkey seemed designed to show that they were on the brink of a peace deal. It didn’t work. The likelihood of a formal peace settlement has never been worse, and for now this may suit both the PKK and the Turkish government.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gambled that Ocalan’s announcement, first delivered by members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in a televised meeting with senior government officials, would give his party a boost before June national elections. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been negotiating with Ocalan since a ceasefire took hold in 2013 and has little to show for it. Turkish soldiers, who have been withdrawn to fortified bases outside city centers in the country’s Kurdish southeast, no longer carry out military operations, giving the PKK de facto control over the region.

ASEAN Connectivity and China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’

By Lucio Blanco Pitlo III
March 26, 2015

Could there be a convergence of interests between these two grand projects? 
The ASEAN Master Plan for Connectivity (AMPC) andChina’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative share striking similarities and parallels. Both envisage transport connectivity as a way to bring member or participating countries closer to one another, facilitating better access for trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people exchanges. Like the “One Belt, One Road” project, AMPC calls for a system of roads and railways to link contiguous Southeast Asian countries with one another, as well as a system of ports for RoRo (roll-on roll-off) vessels and short sea shipping to link insular Southeast Asian countries with one another as well as with mainland Southeast Asia. Given this shared vision, it is interesting to consider how the two could complement one another and what issues could stand in the way.

C.I.A. Officers and F.B.I. Agents, Meet Your New Partner: The Analyst

MARCH 26, 2015

John E. McLaughlin, a former deputy director and acting director of the C.I.A., at a news conference in 2004. “The role of the analyst who puts all the pieces together has become more critical, because there are just more pieces,” he said. CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images

Call it the revenge of the nerds, Washington-style. The gun-toting F.B.I.agent and the swashbuckling C.I.A. undercover officer are being increasingly called upon to share their clout, their budgets and even their Hollywood glamour with the humble, desk-bound intelligence analyst.

Information Warfare: The Key to Destroying ISIS

March 25, 2015 

The worry mongering over ISIS can’t gloss over a telling fact: ISIS foes are defeating the terrorist group in major battles.

In Kobani, ISIS members died by the thousands. A coalition of Shia militias, Iraqi government forces and anti-ISIS Sunni tribesman are making progresstowards ejecting ISIS from Tikrit. What’s needed now is to capitalize on those defeats and complement kinetic action with a cohesive information war campaign driven by a powerful, credible narrative that demoralizes, divides, confuses, and frustrates ISIS members in order to blunt their effectiveness as fighters, and undermine their expectations, destroy their momentum, and quash any hope of victory in creating a sustainable Islamic State or caliphate.

Diplomatic Access: Timor-Leste

March 27, 2015

For spring 2015, The Diplomat presents “Diplomatic Access,” a series of exclusive interviews with ambassadors from the Asia-Pacific region. By talking to these diplomats, we’ll give readers a sense of each country’s perspective on various regional economic and security trends — from TPP to the Silk Road Economic Belt; from the South China Sea disputes to the Islamic State. Check out the whole series to datehere.

In this interview, His Excellency Domingos Sarmento Alves, Ambassador of Timor-Leste to the U.S., talks about the unique challenges and opportunities facing this young country.

The Diplomat: From Timor-Leste’s Perspective, what are the greatest threats to regional security?

Amb. Alves: First of all, if I am allowed, I would like to look at the threats to regional security from two standpoints — the common security threats (external threats) and individual country’s internal security threats.

Great Britain's Defense Drama

March 26, 2015

Heading down the home stretch to Britain's general election on May 7, the question of what constitutes adequate defense investment has emerged as a thorny political issue.

Thrust into the forefront of electoral issues in recent weeks, questions regarding the state of the British armed forces in the face of ongoing fiscal cutbacks have prompted concerns from Britain's leading ally, the United States, as to whether the two militaries will be able to fight side-by-side in the future. Meanwhile, the U.K. House of Commons Defense Committee just published a report stating that the most recent defense strategy document has become a relic in the face of Russian recidivism and Moscow's aggressive stance toward Europe.

Moving Closer to a Joint Arab Military Force

March 27, 2015

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) -- Arab leaders meeting this weekend in this Egyptian Red Sea resort are moving closer than ever to creating a joint Arab military force, a sign of a new determination among Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their allies to intervene aggressively in regional hotspots, whether against Islamic militants or spreading Iranian power.

Creation of such a force has been a longtime goal that has eluded Arab nations in the 65 years since they signed a rarely used joint defense pact. And there remains reluctance among some countries, particularly allies of Iran like Syria and Iraq - a reflection of the divisions in the region.

(W)ARCHIVES: RESCUING TOMMY

March 27, 2015

To mark the centenary of World War I, the United Kingdom’s National Archives has, since last year, been running a fascinating, and addictive (you’ve been warned), website that allows any member of the public to read and contribute to the study of long-neglected records from the Great War.

I refer to “Operation War Diary.” The Archives have digitized and put online an enormous number of war diaries from British tactical units recording the minutiae of their activities in World War I. If you create a free account and go through a ten-minute tutorial, you can then contribute to a crowd-sourced project to tag the records, allowing them to be digitally searchable by future historians.

Is America's Blue-Water Navy Doomed?

March 27, 2015 

With the proliferation of A2/AD capabilities, a forward presence is becoming a liability.

It has been nearly eight years since the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard announced their first tri-service vision, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS21) on October 17, 2007. On Friday March 13, the current service chiefs, Admiral Greenert, General Dunford and Admiral Zukunft, revealed an updated version A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready (CS21-2015) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. As I write, analysts and maritime enthusiasts are already slinging arrows and darts at the document. The criticisms are predictable: CS21-2015 does not conform to one of the classic war college definitions of strategy; it does not pay sufficient attention to the latest headlines, some region or warfighting specialty is inadequately emphasized by the strategy, and on and on and on.

Japan's New Helicopter Carrier: Bad News for Chinese Subs?

March 28, 2015
Japan now has all the building blocks to field a powerful carrier strike group. 

This week, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force commissioned the JS Izumo (DDH-183), a helicopter destroyer, in a ceremony at the JMSDF Yokosuka naval base in Yokohama.

The new carrier’s principal task, although touted as a multi-purpose vessel, will be anti-submarine warfare and command-and-control operations to protect Japanese territories in the East China Sea.

“This heightens our ability to deal with Chinese submarines that have become more difficult to detect,” one Japanese official noted. According to other JMSDF officials, the ship will also be used for humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) operations.