11 April 2015

Shoring Terror - the subterfuge

10 Apr , 2015

Looking at the infinite number of bilateral and multilateral declarations and agreements on cooperation about counter-terrorism over the years, one may surmise that the terrorists must be having a hard time. Yet, behold the US led 40 nation coalition against ISIS and the Saudi Arabia led 10 nation coalition attacking Yemen, with both having strong undercurrents of subterfuge. But then who would believe ‘Games Nation Play’ is misnomer. What does the individual terrorist want; gun power, money, women and a high (most take drugs). And, none of the terrorist organizations are short of any of these albeit some fake the drama of abjuring narcotics.

Netaji: The missing links

8 April 2015

Should the CIA be asked for files pertaining to Subhas Chandra Bose's disappearance? 

A frail scholar’s single-handed effort in India is slowly pushing many to demand an answer to one of the nation’s biggest mysteries: Where did Subhas Chandra Bose disappear?

Anuj Dhar is painstakingly asking everyone to demand de-classification of 41 files on the Cambridge-educated freedom fighter who rejected Mahatma Gandhi's pacifism in favour of violent revolution. The files are holed up in a secret safe in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Dhar’s efforts have not yet borne fruit, with the critics comparing his demand to that of medieval boats that sailed only with a push from the wind, but sank in still waters. But Dhar, who works more than 12 hours a day on his mission, is confident of a hungry tide that will — eventually — push the boat to its destination.

At End of Year One, Modi Fights to Maintain His Image

April 09, 2015

As he celebrates the end of his first year in office, Narendra Modi fights aversion to the economic reforms he championed on the campaign trail. 

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi in tow, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held its annual national executive meeting in Bangalore last week, taking stock of the party’s performance over the last eleven months. But pressing matters also faced the BJP, as it determined how to respond to the Congress Party’s push on land acquisition reform. That debate assumes significance as perceptions of Modi, in contrast to the expectations that the prime minister generated in the run up to last year’s campaign, continue to lag.

PAKISTAN AND YEMEN WAR: PERILS OF JOINING SAUDI-LED COALITION – ANALYSIS

By Abdul Basit

Saudi Arabia’s demand to Pakistan to join its coalition against the Houthi uprising in Yemen has put Islamabad in a catch-22 situation. Pakistan is caught between joining the Saudi alliance and not antagonising its neighbour Iran. Joining the Saudi coalition will have long-term political, economic and security repercussions for Pakistan.

The Pakistani parliament met on 6 April 2015 to debate the merits of joining the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi uprising in Yemen. The session was convened after Saudi Arabia requested Pakistan to join the Saudi coalition. Before that a high-level Pakistani delegation also visited Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have asked Pakistan for aircrafts, naval vessels and ground troops. This has put Pakistan in a catch-22 situation. Pakistan is walking a tightrope balancing its alliance with Saudi Arabia against the possibility of taking part in active combat in Yemen that can antagonise its neighbour Iran.

How Sri Lanka Won the War

By Peter Layton
April 09, 2015

How to win a civil war in a globalized world where insurgents skillfully exploit offshore resources? With most conflicts now being such wars, this is a question many governments are trying to answer. Few succeed, with one major exception being Sri Lanka where, after 25 years of civil war the government decisively defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and created a peace that appears lasting. This victory stands in stark contrast to the conflicts fought by well-funded Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. How did Sri Lanka succeed against what many considered the most innovative and dangerous insurgency force in the world? Three main areas stand out.

First, the strategic objective needs to be appropriate to the enemy being fought. For the first 22 years of the civil war the government’s strategy was to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table using military means. Indeed, this was the advice foreign experts gave as the best and only option. In 2006, just before the start of the conflict’s final phase, retired Indian Lieutenant General AS Kalkat in 2006 declared, “There is no armed resolution to the conflict. The Sri Lanka Army cannot win the war against the Lankan Tamil insurgents.”

Could Japan and South Korea Be Hit by 1,000 Missiles?

April 09, 2015

Yesterday, the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington D.C. published a compelling report entitled “The Future of North Korean Nuclear Delivery Systems,” arguing that North Korea’s missiles have sufficient reliability and range to hit principle targets in Japan and South Korea. The authors of the report, however, are less certain that Pyongyang’s ICBM’s will be capable of hitting the continental United States, given various technical hurdles that would need to be overcome first.

“North Korea’s current delivery systems consist of about 1,000 ballistic missiles and a small number of light bombers able to reach most targets in South Korea and Japan,” the authors write. 

How Powerful Is China's Military Really?

April 9, 2015

Recent publications such as the RAND Corporation’s report “China’s Incomplete Military Transformation: Assessing the Weaknesses of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)” and Dennis Blasko’s article “Ten Reasons Why China Will Have Trouble Fighting a Modern Warmark a significant shift away from the usual narrative that China’s economic rise has led to an increasingly militarized and powerful PLA. While the PLA’s military budget continues to grow at double-digit rates, these reports suggest that the “China threat” has been overhyped. The PLA suffers from institutional weaknesses and vulnerabilities, including a lack of professional human capital with adequate combat experience, rampant corruption, and underdevelopment of non-commissioned officers. As a result, the PLA will face difficulties “fight[ing] a modern war against an advanced enemy.”

CHINESE FOREIGN POLICY SIGNALS FOR 2015 – ANALYSIS


The completion of the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), known as the “Two Sessions”, between 3rd to 15th March, provides a clear picture regarding the nuances of Chinese foreign policy in 2015.

First, the keywords for China’s diplomacy in 2015 will be “One Focus” and “Two Main Themes”. “One Focus” is about the “Belt and Road” initiative in which the Chinese government will be making all-round progress. By further enhancing policy communication with related countries and expanding the convergence of the shared interests, China is going to promote infrastructural connectivity and build overland economic corridors and pillars of maritime cooperation. “Two Main Themes” are those of peace and development. China will work together with international community to commemorate the world’s anti-Fascist war and use the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) to actively participate in the UN development summit and international cooperation on climate change.

A New Way to Resolve South China Sea Disputes?

April 10, 2015

As disturbing trends in the South China Sea continueinto 2015, some interesting proposals have been floated in various circles about how to resolve – or at least manage – the contentious territorial and maritime disputes there. We have explored some of these direct and indirect approaches at The Diplomat, which range from imposing greater costs on Chinese coercion in the South China Sea to leaving the issue to the next generation altogether.

At a recent conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, former director of national intelligence and commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Dennis Blair suggested one such idea. In essence, Blair proposed that an ‘International Conference on the South China Sea’ be convened to work out an international solution to conflicting claims in the South China Sea, and that the results of that conference then be used by these actors as the new reality on the ground.

How China Seeks to Shape Its Neighborhood

April 10, 2015

China has moved from a focus on “great power” diplomacy – emphasizing its relationship with global powers, especially the U.S. – to prioritizing “neighborhood diplomacy” – China’s relationships with its neighbors and near neighbors. That shift, which has been slowly transforming China’s foreign policy since Xi Jinping came to power, has major ramifications for the Asia-Pacific, as well as U.S.-China relations.

Historically, scholars have seen China as placing a premium on the U.S.-China relationship. Getting that relationship right was the “key of keys” (重中之重) for Chinese foreign policy as a whole. It’s no coincidence that Xi took a trip to the U.S. in February 2012 to prove his bona fides before assuming China’s top leadership position. And during that trip, Xi coined his first major catchphrase. Before the “Belt and Road,” before even the “China Dream,” Xi put his stamp on Chinese policy by proposing “new type of major country relations.” 

How China Can Perfect Its 'Silk Road' Strategy

By Xue Li and Xu Yanzhou
April 09, 2015

In 2014, “one belt and one road” (OBOR), a reference to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, were the keywords for Chinese diplomacy. The OBOR strategy has become China’s major foreign policy goal, Beijing will promote this initiative economically, politically, militarily and culturally over the next eight to ten years. In Chinese academia, it’s often said that 2013 marked the conception of the OBOR idea, while 2014 saw its operationalization. In 2015, the main task will be fully implementing OBOR.

In 2014, preparations for the OBOR strategy made remarkable progress. Politically, China made use of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and a dual-track approach; economically, Beijing advanced several economic corridors and upgraded the China-ASEAN free zone, as well as the Asia-Pacific free trade zone. 

Why Iran Needs to Dominate the Middle East

April 10, 2015

On March 7, General Hussein Salami, Deputy Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), claimed that “the [power] of the Islamic Revolution has been stretched to Yemen” and added that “Islamic Revolution has influenced states and people from the Mediterranean Sea to the Bab el-Mandeb in Yemen.”

Later, Mohsen Rezaee, the first IRGC Chief Commander, applauded the Houthis’ fight against the Saudi-led coalition and stated that “the Iran-led ‘resistance front’ is fighting with the ‘invasion front’ of Israelis and Saudis in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and now in Yemen.”

Yemen at War


Yemen is at war. The country is now divided between the Huthi movement, which controls the north and is rapidly advancing south, and the anti-Huthi coalition backed by Western and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies that President Abdo Robo Mansour Hadi is cobbling together. On 25 March, the Huthis captured a strategic military base north of the port city of Aden and took the defence minister hostage. That evening Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign, in coordination with nine other, mostly Arab states, to stop the Huthi advance and restore his government. Hadi left for Riyadh and will attend an Arab League summit on 28 March. No major party seems truly to want to halt what threatens to become a regional war. The slim chance to salvage a political process requires that regional actors immediately cease military action and help the domestic parties agree on a broadly acceptable president or presidential council. Only then can Yemenis return to the political negotiating table to address other outstanding issues.

SAUDI VERSUS YEMEN: SO WHO’S FIGHTING WHOM? THE SHIITES, THE SUNNIES AND ISLAMIC STATE – ANALYSIS

By Esha Meher

One, two and left, the black knight stands before the king, sailing across the black and white chequered board. The white bishop makes a diagonal move. The knight is eliminated. The bishop is now at forty five degrees to the king. One move remaining. Following which, it shall be, Check and Mate.

Yemen is a bloodied battleground today. The Houthi Rebels brandish their swords while the Saudi forces in the name of Allah- the beneficient and merciful, swear to be the protector of the Sunnis preparing their arms. The Government of Yemen? Well, there unfolds the larger story. What has been ensuing on the Yemeni soil for years now are possibly the earliest signs of a civil war.

Europe's Nightmare: Ukraine's Massive Meltdown

April 10, 2015

"Above all, what Ukraine needs today is for the West to lean hard on Kiev in support of economic and political reform."

The Minsk II accord is not a peace deal. It is a cease-fire agreement, and a fragile one at that. Beyond suspending large-scale hostilities, pulling back heavy weapons and exchanging prisoners of war, Minsk can hardly be implemented.

Kiev cannot and will not pay for the Donbass’ rehabilitation, and would not talk to the rebel leaders. Economic ties are not being restored, and human contacts are restricted. Reintegrating Donbass into the rest of Ukraine is only acceptable to Kiev if the rebel forces de facto surrender and their administrative structures disappear, allowing Ukraine to resume control over the section of the border that links Donetsk and Lugansk to Russia. Theoretically, this could only be achieved through Kiev’s military victory, or the Kremlin’s political collapse. Neither of these is realistic at this point. The conflict is currently frozen.

China-US: Avoiding the ‘Improbable War’

By Jared McKinney
April 10, 2015

If the United States is the colossus that bestrides the world, its command to history is simple: Stop. The problem with America’s imperative is, as distinguished Yale historian Paul Kennedy remarked in 2010, “history, unfortunately, has a habit of wandering off all on its own.”

A recent diplomatic episode shows that this is a lesson the U.S. remains uninterested in learning. As readers ofThe Diplomat will know, in 2010, the IMF, with the support of the Obama Administration, passed a series of reforms that would shift member quota shares (and voting rights) to reflect the dynamics of a changing world economy, especially the economic growth of the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). For the past five years, the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify the IMF reform because many Republicans aregenerally dubious about international financial cooperation and because they fear it would give China more influence while decreasing U.S. influence (the second argument is prima facie spurious, as America would still remain the only member state with veto powers). As a result of Republican intransigence on the question of reform, the IMF is becoming less relevant to world economic cooperation. This has led IMF chief Christine Lagarde to proclaim “I will do belly-dancing if that’s what it takes to get the US to ratify.” But not even that threat was able to sell reform to the Republican Senate.

America's Military Is Dangerously Obsolete

April 10, 2015

In a speech on February 18 to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush declared “the next president should launch a strategic review of our military strategy so that we meet 21st century needs with a 21st century defense capability. Then we should fund that strategy.”

We should expect virtually all of the forthcoming U.S. presidential candidates to make a similar declaration. Come January 2017 there will almost certainly be a new leadership team at the Pentagon that will want to implement its views on defense strategy.

A new start after the election will also raise hopes for a resolution to Washington’s budget war, which Bush also called for in his speech.

Russia Nervously Eyes the U.S.-Iran Deal

APRIL 7, 2015

When a group of weary diplomats announced a framework for an Iranian nuclear accord last week in Lausanne, there was one diplomat in the mix whose feigned enthusiasm was hard to miss. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left the talks at their most critical point March 30, much to the annoyance of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who apparently had to call him personally to persuade him to return. Even as Lavrov spoke positively to journalists about the negotiations throughout the week, he still seemed to have better things to do than pull all-nighters for a deal that effectively gives the United States one less problem to worry about in the Middle East and a greater capacity to focus on the Russian periphery.

Russia has no interest in seeing a nuclear-armed Iran in the neighborhood, but the mere threat of an unshackled Iranian nuclear program and a hostile relationship between Washington and Tehran provided just the level of distraction Moscow needed to keep the United States from committing serious attention to Russia's former Soviet sphere.

Obama to Putin: Stop Hacking Me



The U.S. is calling out Russia for a ‘dramatic rise’ in cyberespionage against America. It’s part of a veiled threat to the Kremlin: We know what you’re doing online. 

Ever since the U.S. government hit Russia with economic sanctions last year, Russian hackers have started new cyberspying campaigns to steal information from U.S. government agencies and corporations, according to current and former American intelligence officials and cyber security experts. 

Now, American officials are fighting back—by outing the hackers and issuing what some see as veiled threats to Moscow. 

Can Obama Rescue His Failing Latin America Policy?

April 9, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama has clearly noticed that many in Latin America and the Caribbean have an uncanny affinity for the myth of the Cuban revolution. What he has yet to realize, however, is that the vast majority of the region's citizens would rather live in the Chile built by Augusto Pinochet than in the Cuba destroyed by Fidel Castro. 

As Obama travels to Panama this week for his third Summit of the Americas, he encounters a region that has lost stability and prosperity since the president first attended the summit in 2009. Although he hoped to harvest accolades for his rapprochement with Havana, Obama will instead be greeted by a coterie of hostile counterparts, led by Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro and abetted by Castro, who are determined to sever Washington's remaining influence in a hemisphere critical to U.S. prosperity and security.

Surprising Trends in US Views of China


The Pew Research Center just released the results of a survey on U.S. and Japanese public opinion, particularly how those two countries view each other. My colleague Ankit has already covered the main takeaways from the survey for U.S.-Japan relations; however, the survey also contains interesting tidbits about perceptions of China in the U.S.

First, when asked whether it is “more important for the U.S. to have strong economic ties with” Japan or China, a plurality of Americans (43 percent) chose China, with 36 percent choosing Japan. Interestingly, however, the number of Americans prioritizing strong economic ties with China was substantially higher among young people and minorities. Among the 18-29 year-old demographic, 61 percent of Americans favored economic ties with China, compared to only 28 percent among people 65 or over. 

Russian Nuclear Submarine Goes Up in Flames



The disaster aboard the Orel is just the latest in a string of mishaps aboard Russia’s nuclear fleet. 

It happened again: A Russian nuclear submarine caught fire. Reports said that the blaze was a result of welding repairs on the vessel, christened the Orel, which was parked in a shipyard for maintenance in the Arctic town of Severodvinsk. The rescue operation took hours, as people were evacuated while the Orel continued to burn. Luckily, the Orel’s reactor was shut off before the accident occurred, according to the Tass media agency, which reported that there were no weapons or nuclear fuel on board the sub at the time of the fire.

J.P. Morgan’s Dimon warns next crisis will bring even more volatility

Apr 9, 2015

LONDON (MarketWatch) — You ain’t seen nothing yet, when it comes to market wreckage from a financial crisis, according to J.P. Morgan boss Jamie Dimon.

In his annual letter to shareholders, the bank’s chief executive warned “there will be another crisis” — and the market reaction could be even more volatile, because regulations are now tougher.

He argued the crackdown on the financial sector, added to more-stringent requirements for capital and liquidity, will hamper banks’ capacity to act as a buffer against shocks in financial markets. Banks could become reluctant to extend credit, for example, and less likely to take on stock issuance through rights offering, which would essentially create a shortage of securities.

Whose Cyber Spies Are Better - Russia or China?

Franz-Stafan Gady
April 9, 2015

Russian hackers have breached an unclassified network at the White House and had access to sensitive data such as U.S. President Barack Obama’s schedule, CNN reported yesterday.

However, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor, said that classified White House networks were not compromised.

“We’re constantly updating our security measures on our unclassified system, but we’re frankly told to act as if we need not put information that’s sensitive on that system,” he told CNN. ”In other words, if you’re going to do something classified, you have to do it on one email system, one phone system. Frankly, you have to act as if information could be compromised if it’s not on the classified system.”

According to officials, the attack appears to have been executed by the same Russian hackers, responsible for the breaches of U.S. State Department networks over the past year – a cyber attack labelled the “worst ever” against a U.S. federal agency.

The Army’s Plan To Move to the Cloud

APRIL 7, 2015

This month, the Army released a formal cloud computing strategy that aligns with thePentagon’s evolving policies and will position it to capitalize on disruptive commercial cloud computing technologies prevalent in the private sector.

In a blog post, Army Deputy Chief Information Officer Gary Wang said the transition “to cloud-based solutions and services advances the Army’s long-term objective to reduce our ownership, operation and sustainment of hardware and other commoditized IT.”

In other words, storing, processing and analyzing the growing amount of information the Defense Department produces in the cloud makes more sense than storing it internally nowadays.

OPEN SOURCE ENCRYPTION FOR EVERYONE


In the wake of the revelations that intelligence agencies have been engaged in mass surveillance activities, both industry and society at large are looking for practicable encryption solutions that protect businesses and individuals.

Previous technologies have failed in practice because they were too expensive or not user friendly enough. Fraunhofer has launched an open initiative called “Volksverschlüsselung” with the aim of bringing end-to-end encryption to the masses.

Encryption is the most effective antidote to unwarranted, mass surveillance of people, companies and authorities. Although there are any number of computer programs designed to, say, make e-mail communication more secure, most people find them to be too much of a hassle. This is why the German government made establishing universal and easy-to-use encryption part of its Digital Agenda.

Israeli hackers leak PA population registry in response to anti-Israel cyberattacks

Apr. 8, 2015 

An Israeli hacker group leaked on Wednesday morning details of four million people listed in the Palestinian population registry, a move that was in retaliation to the coordinated anti-Israel cyberattack by the Anonymous hacker collective on Tuesday, codenamed #OPIsrael.

The group, Israeli Elite Force, also promised to publish information on hackers who participated in Tuesday's attack.

The Israeli hacker group, who have in the past already revealed information of hackers suspected of participating in previous OPIsrael attacks, has been very active in recent days in what it named #OpIsraeliRetaliate in response to OPIsrael. The group carried out cyber attacks against websites and organizations in the Palestinian Authority, Syria and other countries, along with the publication of details of businesses owned by Israeli Arabs.

Anonymous targets Israeli sites in annual '#OpIsrael' cyber attacks

08 APRIL 2015

Videos posted in advance of the event claimed that the group would “erase” the country from cyberspace. But the attacks seemed to have little effect, briefly taking down smaller websites and resulting in the release of a small batch of what was claimed to be personal data.

While Anonymous members have launched attacks on Islamist militants and child abusers in recent months, they have had mixed results and often failed to make any of the impact that has been promised.

Twitter accounts and other users associated with anonymous claimed that over 150,000 pieces of personal information related to Israeli citizens had been leaked. They uploaded a Pastebin article about the achievement, and linked to that cache of documents — though none of them has yet been verified.

FBI Still Lagging Behind in Computer-Based Intelligence and Analyses; Bureau Techies Unappreciated by FBI Leadership

April 9, 2015

At the end of March the U.S. FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) released a report on FBI use of Internet and computer based operations. While acknowledging progress in developing Internet based intelligence and analysis capabilities within the FBI it was pointed out these capabilities are not yet fully appreciated by senior leadership. This leads to less use of FBI Internet and software experts than possible. Computer savvy field agents have a hard time getting all the attention they could use when it comes to FBI Cyber War and analysis resources. FBI Internet experts also have a hard time getting all the tools they need because their work is not seen as important as it actually is. As bad as this sounds it is actually good news because the FBI has made a lot of progress in this area in the last decade. 

Since 2000 the FBI has been striving to catch up with the demand for special agents and support staff possessing the computer skills needed to deal with computer based crime and espionage. A 2011 survey found that about a third of the agents assigned to computer crime teams felt they lacked the skills to handle all the demands of the job.

Hezbollah Reportedly Behind Recent Malware Attacks on Israeli Computers

Joseph Fitsanakis
April 9, 2015

A report by a major Israeli computer security firm claims that “a Lebanese entity”, possibly Hezbollah, was behind a cyberespionage operation that targeted companies connected to the Israeli military. In late March, Israeli computer security experts announced they had uncovered an extensive cyberespionage operation that targeted computers in Israel, and to a lesser extent in the United States, Britain, Turkey and Canada. The cyberespionage operation, dubbed VOLATILE CEDAR by Israeli computer security experts, was allegedly launched in 2012. It employed a sophisticated malicious software, also known as malware, codenamed EXPLOSIVE. One Israeli security expert, Yaniv Balmas, said the malware was not particularly sophisticated, but it was advanced enough to perform its mission undetected for over three years.

It is worth noting that, during the period of operation, the EXPLOSIVE malware kept surreptitiously updating itself with at least four different versions, which periodically supplemented the original malware code. Additionally, once the discovery of the malware was publicized in the media, security experts recorded several incoming messages sent to the installed malware asking it to self-destruct. These clues point to a level of programming and operational sophistication that exceeds those usually found in criminal cyberattacks.

NSA and FVEY SIGINT Partners Have Deployed New Antennas at Satellite Communications Intercept Sites

Peter Koop
April 9, 2015

At three satellite facilities, in Britain, Cyprus and New Zealand, there’s a special antenna that allows NSA’s partner agencies a significant increase in their capability to collect satellite communications. 

This antenna is called Torus, and while conventional parabolic dish antennas can only view one satellite at a time, one single Torus antenna is able to receive the signals from up to 35 communications satellites. 

These rare and expensive Torus antennas are used by some television networks, but a close look at photos of the Five Eyes satellite stations has now revealed the locations where Torus antennas are also used for gathering signals intelligence.

A General Dynamics Satcom Technologies Torus antenna with the array of receiver heads clearly visible.

WEEKEND READING: APRIL 10-12 EDITION


Here’s what we’re reading this weekend and you should be too.

What will replace American’s aircraft carriers? “Our submarine advantage gives us the ability to operate inside the A2/AD envelope,” said former Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix, a naval analyst at the Center for a New American Security. “They’re a very potent weapon that can operate with impunity in an A2/AD environment.” — Dave Majumdar explores the options for maintaining America’s future naval dominance as new weapons challenge the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers.

(W)ARCHIVES: MEMORIALIZING THE MOST IMPORTANT SURRENDER IN AMERICAN HISTORY

April 10, 2015

One hundred and fifty years ago yesterday, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. The Civil War was effectively over as a living experience. It immediately transitioned into memory.

For some Americans, the Civil War is almost a non-event, a non-memory. I, for instance, grew up in the Seattle area. For me and my public school classmates, the Civil War was something that happened long ago, far away, and to other people. Today, however, I live in “occupied Virginia,” right outside Washington, DC. Here, as an adult, it becomes obvious that the Civil War is in many ways an ongoing event for many Americans, particularly those who see the Civil War as the brutal destruction of a noble way of life. The Sons of Confederate Veterans case now before the Supreme Court is just the latest evidence of this.

HOW U.S. NAVY INTEL SEES CHINA’S MARITIME FORCES

April 10, 2015

In its first unclassified report on the subject in six years, the Office of Naval Intelligence depicts a powerful trajectory for China’s maritime forces. Titled “The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” the document and accompanying videos also cover the China Coast Guard—precisely the right approach, since the world’s largest blue water civil maritime fleet serves as “China’s Second Navy” and is on the front lines of island and maritime “rights protection” in the East and South China Seas. This focus on both the PLA Navy (PLAN) and the China Coast Guard is also especially appropriate given their role as the principal institutions charged with furthering regional sovereignty claims. The PLAN is also responsible for safeguarding Chinese interests much farther afield, and is gradually developing power projection capabilities to do so.

Adios, Top Gun: The End of the Fighter Jet?

April 09, 2015

Is the old dichotomy between fighter jets and bombers becoming obsolete in air forces across the world? Yes, according to a new study, which argues small and highly maneuverable air-to-air combat planes may indeed be on their slow way out to be replaced by a new multi-role, stealthy, long-range aircraft the size of a bomber.

Yesterday, Breaking Defense reported on a new provocative paper, “Trends in Air-to-Air Combat – Implications for Future Air Superiority,” which analyzed “over 1,450 air-to-air victories” in the last 50 years across the globe. The report concluded that new technology “has fundamentally transformed the nature of air combat.”

The Lord’s Resistance Army Is Collapsing

By PETER DÖRRIE

The Lord’s Resistance Army is a textbook example of the rise and fall of an armed rebellion. The LRA also represents a history of suffering typical to many civil wars where the line between perpetrators and victims isn’t always clear.

Today, the LRA consists of only a few dozen men scattered across three countries. These militants have long abandoned any effort to reach their original political goals. Instead, they now concentrate on staying alive by preying on civilians.

The Lord’s Resistance Army is all but destroyed. Most of its commanders are dead or captured and its leader — the self-styled Christian millenarian prophet Joseph Kony — is the only thing keeping the group together … and he’s on the run.

The Mosin-Nagant Never Stopped Fighting

By PAUL FITCH
If there’s any weapon that deserves the most credit for beating back Nazi Germany, it might be the legendary bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifle.

The Soviet Union made them in absolutely huge numbers — and they’re still available and rather cheap compared to their contemporaries. What’s more extraordinary is that the basic design is more than a century old.

Even now, rebels carry Mosin-Nagants alongside more modern weapons as in conflicts from Ukraine to the Middle East.

But there’s good reasons for that. It’s because of the rifle’s simplicity, ruggedness and a design philosophy summed up as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

After Nearly 15 Years of Nonstop Counterinsurgency Warfare, US Army May Have Been Overtaken by Other Countries In Conventional Military Capabilities

Spencer Ackerman
April 9, 2015

A “proliferation of precision” weapons and the spread of styles of warfare displayed by Russia in Ukraine risks ending “the American way of war that we have grown accustomed to over the last three decades”, the Pentagon’s No 2 official warned on Wednesday.

In a speech likely to be hotly debated in defense circles, US deputy defense secretary Robert Work outlined a vision of ground warfare for what might be called a post-insurgency era, one in which US adversaries cycle between using subterfuge tactics and high-tech precision artillery – “conventional weapons with near-zero miss”, in his warning – to potentially overmatch the US military.

“I tell you now, our technological superiority is slipping. We see it every day,” Work told the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Work’s extended meditation on the future of ground warfare marks a departure for the Pentagon in the Barack Obama era, which has thus far forsworn large-scale land campaigns in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the point where some army officers have wondered if their reward for those grueling wars is irrelevance.

Work Details the Future of War at Army Defense College

By Cheryl Pellerin

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2015 – On stage today at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work summoned up scenes from a future war where soldiers and machines join forces in a multidimensional “informationalized” zone, using advanced tools to fight adversaries from space to cyberspace.

During a keynote address on international security and future defense strategy on Carlisle Barracks, Work described a daunting array of challenges for warfighters.

Perkins: Too much time wasted in meetings

April 3, 2015

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (April 3, 2015) -- One of the most precious commodities a Soldier has is time, and a lot of time is wasted in person-to-person exchanges and group meetings, Gen. David C. Perkins said.

Perkins, who serves as commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, along with other Army leaders, met with and heard the opinions of 84 majors during Colloquium 2015, here, March 30.

The topic of wasted time at meetings came as an aside after Maj. James Gibson told Perkins that it is a challenge for the Army to support Soldiers' self development with limited resources.