15 August 2015

Medals minus usual boast


Nishit Dholabhai

New Delhi, Aug. 14: The 21st Special Forces who pursued Northeast militants along the Myanmar border in June have won a bagful of Independence Day honours, including a Kirti Chakra, a Shaurya Chakra and six Sena Medals for gallantry.
But the government has downplayed the reason for awarding the paras, keeping in mind sensitivities at a crucial stage of the Naga peace talks and the diplomatic tensions triggered in June by claims that the operation had crossed into Myanmar.

Although the citations do not become public so early, defence ministry officials are ever eager to brief journalists on the details of the major gallantry award winners. They did so today about all except the paras.
The current circumspection contrasts with the chest-thumping in June, when defence minister Manohar Parrikar and junior I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore had publicly claimed that the Indian troops had entered Myanmar, forcing the neighbour to issue a public denial.

Overall, two Kirti Chakras --- the second-highest peacetime gallantry award --- have been awarded, both to the army. Of the 10 Shaurya Chakras --- third-highest among peacetime gallantry awards --- five have gone to the army, one each to the air force, navy and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, and two to Jammu and Kashmir police.
A total of 49 Sena Medals for gallantry (as opposed to Sena Medals for distinguished service) have been announced for the army, two Nao Sena Medals for gallantry for the navy, and three Vayu Sena Medals for gallantry for the air force.

Lt Col Nectar Sajenbam has won the Kirti Chakra for the courage shown under his leadership during the operation along the Myanmar border.
The other Kirti Chakra has been awarded posthumously to Naib Subedar Rajesh Kumar of the 30 Rashtriya Rifles, 14 Mahar, who died fighting terrorists last year in Handwara, Jammu and Kashmir.

One of the Shaurya Chakras has gone to Havildar Tanka Kumar Limbu of the 21st Special Forces, whose commandos received combat training in Himachal Pradesh and Vairangte, Mizoram.
Among the other Shaurya winners is Commander Mohan Milind Mokashi of the navy who led the INS Sumitra into the Aden port on March 31 despite the presence of armed rebels along the harbour. Mokashi carried out five evacuations from the Yemeni cities of Aden, Ash Shihr and Al Hudaydah.

Another is Wing Commander Sandeep Singh, awarded for evacuating 22 slain CRPF personnel and five wounded after a battle with Maoists in Chhattisgarh last November.
The Myanmar border operation of June 10 yielded Sena Medals for Major Prashant Yadav, Lt Krishan Kant, Havildar Chanar Singh, Havildar Ram Bahadur Tamang, Naik Manoj Kumar and Naik Bhupinder Singh.

Unofficially, sources said the paras had crossed into Myanmar and raided shelters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), the People's Liberation Army (of Manipur) and the United National Liberation Front of West South East Asia, a grouping of Northeast rebels including Paresh Barua's Ulfa.
The operation came after cross-border raids by the militants had killed 18 army soldiers in Manipur on June 4, months after Khaplang's group had "unilaterally" scrapped its 14-year-old ceasefire agreement with the Centre.

But the government, which signed a "framework of agreement" with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) on August 3, now hopes to bring all Naga outfits including Khaplang's on board for the sake of a lasting Naga peace.
With Ulfa and the Manipur outfits active, too, the northeastern insurgency theatre has been on the boil this year. The Assam Rifles, India's oldest paramilitary force, which is officered by the army, has won one Bar to Sena Medal and five Sena Medals for gallantry.
Wishing all a very happy Independence Day.

The clincher that was the n-deal

August 15, 2015 
ReutersOf all his achievements in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr. Singh will be remembered for the nuclear deal. File Photo

The India-U.S. nuclear deal signed 10 years ago is an exemplar of India’s recognition of strategic patience and the importance of building partnerships and has brought in handsome returns

As India celebrates yet another Independence Day, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on another foreign visit — this time to the United Arab Emirates, intending to sign a clutch of agreements, including one on counter-terrorism cooperation — it might be worthwhile to ponder over how far India has progressed on the world stage. Members of the younger generation would be unfamiliar, for instance, of the kind of trials and privations that India confronted during the last quarter of the twentieth century. This was the period following the 1974 peaceful nuclear explosion and the 1998 nuclear tests, when India was ostracised by many countries and faced a host of sanctions. From this dark period, India could emerge into a new dawn thanks to the efforts of Indian policy-makers during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-Manmohan Singh years. India has since been transformed into a major global power, and a candidate for permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC). M.K. Narayanan

The Iran-India contrast

Building The FBR

12 Aug, 2015

Jaideep A. Prabhu is a specialist in foreign and nuclear policy; he also pokes his nose in energy and defence related matters. 

Nuclear energy has the potential to change India’s future. And a few bold scientists are quietly building our first fast breeder reactor (FBR). This is the story of a how a chain reaction could be set off.

Tucked away in the tiny, nondescript village of Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu is one of India’s little islands of excellence, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (Bhavini). Established in October 2003, Bhavini is a nuclear power utility company wholly owned by the Government of India under the Department of Atomic Energy. Tasked with the construction and operation of advanced nuclear reactors such as the Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR), the company till date has no operational reactors and works on a modest budget. However, the first reactor, the Prototype FBR or PFBR, is scheduled to go critical this month. The average age of its technical workforce is 35 years.

Mullah Omar, We Hardly Knew Ye

AUGUST 4, 2015

No, seriously: We have no idea what’s going on in jihadi-world.

Mullah Omar, We Hardly Knew Ye

So Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead, and apparently no one noticed for two whole years. His death is a good thing, insofar as it saves American taxpayers the $10 million bounty the United States was offering for his capture. Still, if I were to drop dead, I’d like to think that someone might notice a bit more promptly, if only because my kids might wonder why no one was cooking dinner anymore. But perhaps that explains the delay: Mullah Omar hadn’t been making dinner for anyone in the U.S. intelligence community.

Nonetheless, Mullah Omar’s belatedly recognized demise suggests several lessons for the United States.

1. We don’t know what’s going on.

How the Uighurs keep their culture alive in Pakistan

By Shumaila Jaffrey
12 August 2015 

Insa Khan was only a few years old when she left Xinjiang, and has profound memories of the journey she made with her parents in 1949.

It took them about 50 days to walk through snow-capped mountains with donkeys carrying their luggage.

"My prents decided to leave Kashgar after Xinjiang officially became part of communist China," she said.

"I was too young to understand politics at that time," she added, as she served tea in the traditional Uighur way, with everybody sat on mats in the kitchen.

Insa is now 71 years old and has spent most of her life living in Gilgit in the north of Pakistan.

As a Muslim, she has religious freedom.

To Fight Extremism, the World Needs to Learn How to Talk to Women

AUGUST 12, 2015

From Iraq to Pakistan to Nigeria, groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram are winning the war for women's hearts and minds — and it's time to stop it.

About three years ago while traveling in Pakistan, I met with a prominent female civil society activist who described how some women in northwest Pakistan were supporting militants by donating their most precious gold and jewelry and endorsing their sons’ radicalization.

We had been having a conversation about engaging Pakistani women to de-radicalize youth, and she warned me that extremists were speaking more effectively than moderates to women, leveraging their influence in the home, family, and the community. Women could be engaged to potently combat violent extremism, but it would require a focused, concerted effort to reach out to, counter-message, and actively engage the vital female constituency.

Her message was clear: As violent extremist movements have strengthened, the international community needs to engage more intentionally with women in countering violent extremism, or CVE.

Think Again: Islamism and Militancy in Bangladesh

August 13, 2015 

"It is easy to get Bangladesh very wrong. Dangerously wrong."

Islamist militancy in Bangladesh rarely draws the attention of scholars and policy analysts for a number of reasons. First, South Asia programs in the United States produce very few Bangladesh experts. In fact, most South Asia programs in the United States focus upon North India as well as a smattering of South Asian languages (e.g. Tamil). Second, most students of those programs who study the Bengali language will do their language training in India’s state of Bengal rather than Bangladesh.

Within the U.S. government, expertise on Bangladesh is even thinner. The U.S. Department of State, which does not have a South Asia cadre, has few Bangladesh experts because such expertise has little reward in the bureaucracy. Think tanks similarly entertain very little focus upon Bangladesh, with few exceptions because their funders typically find little interest in the ostensibly obscure South Asian state. Finally, few scholars and analysts travel to Bangladesh and when they do, they rarely venture beyond the confines of the country's capital, Dhaka. These reasons have combined to ensure that Bangladesh has not garnered the scrutiny it merits.

In fact, as both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in South Asia have locked their sights on South Asia, Bangladesh deserves special attention.

Reasons Not to be Insouciant about Bangladesh


AUGUST 13, 2015

The United States must get over this idea that Pakistan can be a force for good in the region when the preponderance of evidence speaks to the contrary. Once the United States rids itself of this preposterous notion, perhaps it can finally fix its approach to Pakistan.

Economics of Influence: China and India in South Asia

Authors: Ashlyn Anderson, Research Associate, India, Pakistan, and South Asia, and Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia
August 7, 2015

India has enjoyed substantial regional influence across South Asia due to its size, comparative economic might, and historical and cultural relevance to the region. China’s history of involvement in South Asia is limited in comparison, though its long-standing ties to Pakistan are a notable exception. But over the past decade, China has become a significant economic partner to countries throughout the region, forging particularly strong ties with smaller states through trade, diplomacy, aid, and investment. 

China’s increased involvement in South Asia poses a challenge to India as the regional economic and diplomatic heavyweight. Yet this is not a simple story of regional displacement. Despite recent headlines proclaiming India’s eclipse by China, several threads of economic interaction continue to link India with its neighbors quite deeply. China has not eclipsed India across South Asia, but it is catching up in its trade and investment, and in some cases, its economic diplomacy has been accompanied by expanded strategic cooperation with India’s neighbors. As China steps up its engagement with the region and promotes Asian connectivity, largely through its Silk Road “belt and road” vision, it can marshal extensive resources on initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bankthat will likely outpace other financial sources. With an eye on India’s own regional position, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has doubled down on his outreach across South Asia, stressing infrastructure development, people-to-people connectivity, and a “lift all boats” approach to help India’s neighbors gain from its own rise. 

Has China’s War With America Already Begun?

Aug. 7, 2015

One of the hottest reads among Washington national security experts this summer is not the latest White House policy document or a big report from an influential think tank, but a novel by two of the national security community’s own: Peter Singer and August Cole. Their book, “Ghost Fleet,” is a riveting thriller in the Tom Clancy tradition. Much of the attention it is getting is due to its explanation of cutting-edge military technology, but it is also captivating—and important—because its core scenario is one that every policymaker and policy expert fears: a major war between the United States and China.

To anyone closely watching China’s rising power and growing assertiveness, history—in particular, America’s last major war with a rising Asian power—holds ominous warnings. For while Americans believe that their war with Japan began with the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Tokyo laid the groundwork for the outbreak of hostilities years before the surprise raid, establishing a network of bases and expanding its military’s power-projection capability. Pearl Harbor simply made Americans aware of a conflict that, in Japanese eyes, had already begun. Yet Washington and the U.S. military had missed the signs of just how close war was. Could this also be true of China today? Has the war with China already begun?

One Belt, One Road, One Asia?

by Marlena Luhr
August 07, 2015

As China’s GDP growth slows, its proposed One Belt, One Road Initiative—part economic stimulus, part foreign policy strategy—has the potential to change the balance of Asia’s geopolitical and economic environment, with global implications.

Although a 7.4 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in 2014 would indicate a boom for most nations, it represents the most disappointing growth since 1990 for China, and falls short of the state’s lofty 7.5 percent growth target. The slowdown has prompted new strategies from the governing Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as China seeks to recalibrate both its model for economic growth and its model for regional and global engagement.

China’s economy grew at an unsustainably rapid pace during the past three decades, resulting from developments in technology lowering transaction and market entry costs (allowing China to take advantage of its labor resources) and high government investment. This growth strategy, however, has shown signs ofrunning its course, with the working-age population shrinking after its peak in 2012, government investment plateauing at 49 percent of GDP, and a narrowing technological gap between China and developed countries. This shifting environment has prompted a transition toward a more balanced economic approach—a slower, more sustainable “new normal”—with an increased focus on global integration. The Belt and Road Initiative (or One Belt, One Road; OBOR), composed of the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the sea-based 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is a pillar of this change. OBOR aims to alleviate China’s domestic economic slowdown, build infrastructure to connect Asia for trading, and strengthen China’s regional influence. 

China Yearbook 2014

An annual publication from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), the China Yearbook is a round-up of events and issues of significance that occurred in China during the past year and covers important developments in the domestic and foreign policy spheres.

The fourth of the series, the 2014 Yearbook comprises twenty-three chapters spanning diverse yet important events that have occurred with regard to China in the year 2014. The chapters are arranged in five sections. The first section reviews internal issues regarding legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule, problems and issues faced by Chinese society, issues pertaining to Tibet’s future, and lack of the media freedom in China. The second section reviews China’s relations with the great powers. The third section focuses on China’s participation in the UN and its participation in global governance. The fourth section covers themes and issues of China’s relations with various regions across the globe. The fifth section exclusively spans China’s relations with countries of South Asia.

The Yearbook seeks to promote a deeper understanding of contemporary issues affecting China and its interactions with India and the region. This publication would be useful to scholars, researchers, journalists, and policy makers who have an interest in China. 
About the Editor

Forget Sykes-Picot. It’s the Treaty of Sèvres That Explains the Modern Middle East

AUGUST 10, 2015

Ninety-five years ago today, Europe carved up the Ottoman empire. That treaty barely lasted a year, but we're feeling its aftershocks today.

Forget Sykes-Picot. It’s the Treaty of Sèvres That Explains the Modern Middle East.

Ninety-five years ago today, European diplomats gathered at a porcelain factory in the Paris suburb of Sèvres and signed a treaty to remake the Middle East from the ashes of the Ottoman empire. The plan collapsed so quickly we barely remember it anymore, but the short-lived Treaty of Sèvres, no less than the endlessly discussed Sykes-Picot agreement, had consequences that can still be seen today. We might do well to consider a few of them as the anniversary of this forgotten treaty quietly passes by.

Where in the world is al-Qaida's leader?

Bruce Riedel 
August 10, 2015

The emir of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, has not made any public statements since September 2014. His now 11-month long absence is unprecedented. Next month will be a key test for Zawahri: the anniversary of 9/11—a milestone he has spoken out on for years.

Al-Zawahri was chosen by Osama bin Laden to be his successor. A veteran of 35 years of terrorist plotting, the Egyptian has legitimacy and experience. But he has a lot of other baggage too. He is a poor speaker, prone to ideological fights, and lacks bin Laden's charisma.

Zawahri designated Yemeni Nasir al-Wuhayshi—leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula—to be his successor in 2013. Then this June, al-Wuhayshi died in a drone attack in Yemen. Zawahri did not give a eulogy for his deputy.

Iraqi Stability and the “ISIS War”

AUG 12, 2015 

The events in Iraq over the last month have shown the any success in Iraq require both the Iraqi government and the U.S. to go far beyond the war against ISIS, and makes any partisan debate over who lost Iraq as damaging to U.S. national interests as any other aspect of America’s drift toward partisan extremism.

The war against ISIS is a critical U.S. national security interest. It not only threatens to create a major center of terrorism and extremism in a critical part of the Middle East, and one that could spread to threaten the flow of energy exports and the global economy, but become a major center of international terrorism. It is important to understand, however, that ISIS is only one cause of instability in the region, and only one of the threats caused by spreading sectarian and ethnic violence.

Iraq is a key case in point. No defeat of ISIS can bring Iraq security or stability, and give it the unity and independent strength to resist pressure from Iran and threats based in Syria and Turkey. No military course of action can—by itself – create a stable regime and economy and reduce the tension between Iraqi Sunni and Shiite and Arab and Kurd to workable levels. Like Syria, Libya, and Yemen; military action must be joined to political and economic action and the creation of some form of viable governance.

Why Turkey Is Fighting the Kurds Who Are Fighting ISIS

AUG. 12, 2015

Our future as two sides of the coin

By William S. Lind

William Lind describes 2 visions of America’s future 

Summary: What will America look like in in 2025, after another decade of our long war? In the second of this series William Lind describes two scenarios, failed and successful responses to risks regarded as likely among paleoconservatives. Seeing visions of the future like this can help you decide how to vote in November 2016. Perhaps the fears of each group are what most clearly distinguishes Left and Right in America.

Our future as two sides of the coin

The first toss of the coin: a dark vision

How much longer for the “long war”? Who will win?

Summary: In this first of a multi-author series about the next decade of our long war, Chet Richards gives some provocative answers about its next phase. The long war is the key geopolitical issue for America. It will affect our affairs, both domestic and foreign. Post your thoughts in the comments. 

What is the future of the “long war”? Here are a few guesses for the next 10 years. By “long war,” I mean our attempt to eliminate large-scale political violence by non-state groups, originating in other countries but presumably directed at us, if not now then sometime in the future. Just call it the “LW.” So here goes:

My big guess: Our attempts to eliminate international political violence will be as successful as any other attempt to eliminate such violence since 1945 or so. (Shocking, I know) Groups come, groups go.

Despite this, the LW will continue because it serves useful domestic political purposes. If we suddenly stopped funding those parts of our national security apparatus (not just DoD) that do not contribute to the defense of the United States, I estimate that we would cut roughly 3/4 of a trillion dollars per year from the inertia provided by the federal budget. Cost, in other words, is not a deterrent to the LW but a strong reason to continue it. At least for a while.

The Lives of Jihadist Leaders Drop in Value

By Scott Stewart of Stratfor, 
6 August 2015

14 years of assassinations: Stratfor describes the result 

Summary: Slowly America’s geopolitical leaders see the futility of the assassination programs which are one of the three tools we rely on to win the Long War that began with 9/11 and President Bush’s imperial surge which followed (bombing and local militia are the other two, also failures). In this article Stratfor describes the meger results achieved by 14 years of assassinations. Perhaps soon they’ll see the Darwinian Ratchet.

The Lives of Jihadist Leaders Drop in Value

Much has been written since the July 30 confirmation that the Taliban’s longtime leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, died two years ago. Most of the discussion has focused on the future of the Taliban movement, the impact of his death on the al Qaeda core — which had pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar as Amir al-Mu’minin, or “commander of the faithful,” — and of course, the Islamic State’s efforts to take advantage of Mullah Omar’s death.


Several weeks ago, something very important in the development of Fourth Generation war happened. On our own soil, the U.S. “military” had to be protected by civilian volunteer militiamen.

The protection of U.S. military recruiting offices by armed volunteer militiamen occurred in response to the Islamic attack on two recruiting centers in Chattanooga. The Defense Department soon asked the militiamen to cease and desist, which they did. The fact that a militia’s defense of the U.S. “military” lasted only briefly does not undo its significance. The sort of thing we are used to seeing in hollow states such as Lebanon happened here.

The militia’s action was not required, let me stress, because the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who man our recruiting stations are incapable of defending themselves. The can do so, and would be happy to do so (well, the men anyway). Accounts of the Islamic attack suggest many of the recruiters behaved bravely, risking and sometimes giving their lives to protect others. They could not defend themselves because they are not allowed to be armed.

Here is where the importence of this incident to the development of 4GW on American soil, something we should greatly fear, is to be found. The reason our military personnel are not allowed to be armed is two-fold. Both point to the essence of 4GW, the emptying out of the state of its content, at the moral level.

Who Threatens America Most?

AUG. 12, 2015 

In what order does the Obama administration rank the biggest external threats to America’s national security? The short answer: It depends on whom and which agency you ask.

Official opinion is all over the lot, a sign of a rapidly changing world, different bureaucratic priorities and confused thinking. Which raises this question: If officials cannot agree on what the most pressing threats are, how can they develop the right strategies and properly allocate resources?

Start with America’s military establishment. Last month, the Pentagon put Russia at the top of its threat list. Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, branded Russia the No. 1 “existential threat” in his confirmation hearings, followed by North Korea, China and the Islamic State, or ISIS. Other top military officials have said much the same thing in testimony before Congress.

There is no doubt that relations with Russia have taken a dangerous turn, given Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and reckless exercises over NATO airspace. The Pentagon is also chafing under budget cuts, and rattling Cold War sabers may be a good way to pry more money out of Congress. But the idea that Russia is America’s top threat is not shared by other important players in Washington, including the White House. General Dunford’s comments reflected “his own view and doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of — or the consensus — analysis of the president’s national security team,” Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said last month.

Why Amartya Sen Is Wrong

12 Aug, 2015

Jaithirth 'Jerry' Rao is the founder and former CEO of IT giant MphasiS, and was head of Citibank's Global Technology Development Division. He is currently the Executive Chairman of Value and Budget Housing Corporation (VBHC), an affordable housing venture 

It is necessary for an intellectual of Sen’s standing to help India, but he can help only if he is willing to illuminate his discussions with his intelligence, not with his prejudices.

Amartya sen is brilliant. About that fact, there is no doubt at all. He is a genius, a scholar and he writes and speaks with superb aplomb. But just because the Swedes have recognized him (after which of course, the Bharat Sarkar duly handed him a Bharat Ratna!), and just because affluent leftists who live in Boston and subscribe to The New York Times admire Sen, it does not follow that he is always right. In fact, sometimes he can be and is dangerously wrong. Dangerous because people end up listening to him and doing foolish things.

He starts off his book on justice (The Idea of Justice, 2009), with a description of a hypothetical situation. There is a violin. And there are three children. One child made the violin; one child plays the violin very well; and one poor child has never had any toys. The ethical quandary: which child should get the violin? How best can the interests of justice and ethics be served?

Russia and Ukraine: Back on the Brink of War?

August 13, 2015 

Just as there are tremors registered before a major earthquake occurs, there are clear warning signs that things could heat up very quickly, very soon.

While the ceasefire in Ukraine has been gradually eroding over the last several weeks, are we on the verge of seeing full-scale hostilities resume? While the position of the major European powers remains preservation of the Minsk peace process at all costs, even to the extent of studiously ignoring the recent flare-ups that make a mockery of the very idea of a cease-fire, both sides in the conflict—Russia and the separatists on one side, and the Ukrainian government on the other—have considerable incentives to stoke up the conflict at this particular point in time in the hopes of delivering a knockout blow that could change the current facts on the ground.

Nuclear Weapons in 1945 and 2015 in Comparison

by Niall McCarthy
August 12th, 2015 

Last Thursday marked 70 years since the US dropped an atomic bomb named "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Last Thursday marked 70 years since the US dropped an atomic bomb named "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Three days later, Nagasaki was also the target of an atomic bomb named "Fat Man". These remain the only wartime nuclear attacks in history. How do those two weapons compare to the most powerful warheads in the world today?

This chart shows the estimated yield of nuclear weapons in kilotons, TNT equivalent.

You will find more statistics at Statista

Russia Is Destroying Its Food


Russia's recent show of strength toward the West may come at the price of its own internal stability. On Aug. 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a crackdown on violations of the Kremlin's food sanctions against the European Union and the United States, during which some illegally imported food was destroyed. The move was very unpopular among Russian officials and the public. Since food imports to Russia fell by more than half within a single day of Putin's order, many criticized the Kremlin for destroying food at a time when Russians are under increased financial and economic pressure. If the Kremlin continues to crack down on those who violate the order, protests will only grow louder.

Russia enacted sanctions on many high-end Western food products on Aug. 5, 2014, in response to sanctions placed on Russia by most Western states because of Russian actions in Ukraine. Even though only certain foods were banned, the sanctions - not to mention currency fluctuations - contributed to an average increase in food costs of 20 percent over the past year. The price of some staple goods, such as cabbage, rose more than 60 percent in early 2015.

Dark Web Poses Challenges for Law Enforcement

AUGUST 10, 20152

The Dark Web is a haven for drug dealers, arms traffickers, child pornography collectors and other criminals -- and also is a bastion of free speech for political dissidents living under oppressive regimes and a sanctuary from government surveillance.

(TNS) — The Dark Web has been at the heart of an ongoing probe into an international drug trafficking operation, an investigation that started in Grand Forks, N.D.

The probe sprung from the death of an 18-year-old Grand Forks resident who overdosed on fentanyl citrate, a highly potent synthetic opioid, in January and has since stretched not only across U.S. borders, but also across the borders of the traditional Internet, into the Dark Web.

But what is the Dark Web and who uses it?

Since February, at least 10 people have been indicted on federal drug-related charges, some of whom are accused of using the Dark Web to buy and sell drugs under a cloak of anonymity. Most recently, officials unsealed the indictment of Daniel Vivas Ceron last month, a Colombian man whom federal prosecutors allege was the leader of the international drug trafficking operation, which did much of its business on the Dark Web.

Acting U.S. Attorney for North Dakota Chris Myers underscored the difficulties technology — like the Dark Web — poses when trying to catch criminals.

"The folks that are distributing these substances are using increasingly more sophisticated technology to remain anonymous, making our job that much more difficult," Myers said.

Pentagon Technology Plans And The Illusion Of A Free Ride

After six years of using military technology accounts as a bill-payer for other things, the Obama Administration has discovered that America’s enemies are catching up. Senior Pentagon leaders are expressing alarm at how rapidly the joint force’s lead in warfighting technology is eroding. They have launched a Defense Innovation Initiative that, to quote deputy defense secretary Robert Work, “will sharpen our military edge even as we have to contend with fewer resources” — partly by making greater use of commercial breakthroughs. The officials say most of the innovation that matters today is happening in places like Silicon Valley, so the military must turn to “non-traditional” suppliers for the war-winning tools of tomorrow.

Against that backdrop, the following prescription set forth in a Pentagon report for how to stay ahead is instructive:

In order to stay on the cutting edge of technology, we must look beyond our traditional defense contractors and sub-contractors. Modern weaponry relies heavily on advanced electronics, software, telecommunications, flexible manufacturing techniques, and other advanced technologies where commercial companies are often making the most significant advances.

Five Digital Forces That Are Changing the Tech Industry

With a market cap of around Rs. 4.9 lakh crore ($77 billion), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the most valuable Indian company. It is around 70% more valuable than ONGC, India’s second most valuable firm, and worth the same as the next four major Indian IT firms (Infosys, Wipro, HCL Technologies and Tech Mahindra) combined.

“Long-term investors look for companies that create sustained value for shareholders, the ecosystem and the community,” says the company’s CEO and managing director, Natarajan Chandrasekaran (Chandra). In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, he talks about how the “digital five forces” – mobility, big data, social media, cloud computing and robotics – are changing the way TCS operates, and how the company is staying relevant to its customers in “a time of exponential change.”

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Why is the market so enamored of TCS?

Why (Almost) Everything You Hear About the Digital Economy Is Wrong

August 12, 2015 

When most people think of the Internet they think of what they use—search engines, social media, online and streamed video and audio services and email. This is undoubtedly a big part of the reason why policymakers think that the digital economy is dominated by these “business-to-consumer” services.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, business-to-business digital commerce is ten times the size of the business-to-consumer space according to the UN Commission on Trade and Development’s Information Economy Report 2015. Seventy-five percent of the economic value of the digital economy goes to traditional bricks and mortar businesses and not Internet companies. This is true worldwide, not just in developed economies.

I’m a proud European so allow me to focus on the tragic discussion of the Internet economy in Europe, where policymakers obsess over the activities of a handful of U.S. multinationals instead of focusing on what really matters. According to the OECD, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, while growing rapidly, only employs three percent of Europeans. Small to medium sized enterprises are critical to every economy and account for more than ninety-nine percent of all businesses in many developed and developing countries and are the primary source of GDP growth and employment—not multinationals.

Focus on Internet's potential more than its problems

By the Monitor's Editorial Board 
AUGUST 13, 2015

In a coming global summit and in trade talks, leaders must not be gripped by fear of the Internet’s issues. Its benefits are still playing out, especially for the world’s poor.

Much has changed since the last global summit on the Digital Age in 2005. Back then the main focus was on the benefits of the Internet. The summit set a goal to bring 50 percent of the world online by 2015. This December, however, when heads of state meet again to consider the emerging “information society,” the focus is expected to be more on what’s wrong with the Internet and how to correct it.

Just scan the news to see all the hand-wringing. Internet fraud is rampant. American tech companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon are too dominant. Cyberattacks, cyberspying, and cyberpiracy are on the rise. More users worry about privacy or government snooping and censorship.

Environmental Considerations in Military Operations

Posted on Aug.11, 2015

The environmental impacts of military operations are increasingly becoming factors in the planning and execution of military activities.

“The military has a new appreciation for the interdependence between military missions, the global community, and the environment,” according to a newly revised and reissued Army doctrinal manual. See Environmental Considerations, ATP 3-34.5, August 10, 2015.

Of course, military operations by their nature are not environment-friendly. “The primary mission of the military is to fight and win wars. Warfare is destructive to humans and to the natural environment.”

Even so, environmental impacts of military action can be limited and managed up to a point, the Army manual says. “Integrating environmental considerations into the planning process helps to identify, prevent, and mitigate potential threats to the environment (including those that affect historical and cultural resources) and environmental threats to personnel.”

This is not a matter of sentimentality or political correctness, the manual emphasizes, but of military self-interest and tactical necessity. “Integrating environmental considerations into operations will benefit FHP [force health protection, i.e. the health of U.S. and allied soldiers]. Environmental degradation jeopardizes the well-being of the local population and can undermine HN [host nation] support for U.S. policies.”

Commentary: Settle the A-10 Retirement Standoff

By John Michael Loh, a retired US Air Force general, a former Air Force vice chief of staff and former commander of Air Combat Command.
August 11, 2015 

The best way to resolve the interminable A-10 retirement debate is to satisfy both sides with a solution that eliminates the operational and economic arguments driving it.

The primary vocal critics of the Air Force decision to retire the A-10 close-support aircraft are Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and freshman Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. All three have strong ties to the A-10. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, is home to the largest A-10 base. Closure of the base would have serious economic impact. Ayotte’s husband is a formerA-10 pilot. McSally flew A-10s in the Air Force.

The Air Force has presented strong operational arguments defending the retirement of the A-10: Other aircraft perform the A-10’s close-support mission today with the same effectiveness, and more survivability. The A-10 can only perform close support whereas other aircraft can perform close-support and other missions, thus offering more value in a smaller Air Force. And with today’s precision weapons and automation, pilots can train for both close support and other roles without sacrificing effectiveness.


By Col. Gregory Fontenot, U.S. Army retired and Col. Richard Swain, U.S. Army retired
July 15th, 2015 2:18 PM

World War II dominated the Army’s identity for most of the half-century that followed the surrender of the Axis Powers. The American armed forces were led by veterans of that war through the 1970s. The decade-long war in Vietnam diminished the apparent value of the model but in the aftermath, the influence of World War II re-emerged through a younger generation of World War II veterans. The last of that breed, they played an important role in reconstructing and reorienting the post-Vietnam Army that closed out the Cold War. The legacy of that influence is felt today.

Because armies are hierarchies including several generations, wars leave a succession of leaders marked by their experience who exert a defining influence on their institutions for decades afterward. The contributions of Gens. Dwight D. Eisenhower and George C. Marshall are sufficiently well-known that they need not be recounted here. Others remained in the Army and grappled with different kinds of military challenges than they had found on European and Pacific battlefields. World War II left a bench of leaders who would direct and inspire the institution through the 1980s and beyond.

2 August 1990

I was not yet twenty one, had big metal-band-era hair and acid washed jeans, along with a night job that left a little time for watching cable television, when I met a guy named Wolf Blitzer narrating the opening of what would become the First Gulf War. I have many friends and colleagues who were part of Operation Desert Storm as military personnel; their reflections and recollections are fascinating and much different than mine. In this post remembering the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, I wanted to reflect on my personal impressions as a college student and civilian, to ask questions about the legacy of this conflict in terms of how civilians now view war, and the implications for the military-civilian culture gap. As a military ethicist now reflecting on those experiences, it is clear to me that this short conflict had profound impact on expectations of current and future conflicts, often in problematic ways that need to be directly addressed moving forward.

It looked exactly as I imagined that modern war in the computer age ought to look, narrated by a young, cool guy named Wolf.

Why Indian Army looks weak in front of China By deferring 72nd Mountain Division, the country has failed to even deliver one at full-strength


General K Sunderji was the first to anticipate that China was the rising threat to India, and Pakistan was the declining threat. This was in the mid-1980s, when China economic miracle had begun. He asked for a major increase in mountain divisions. If memory serves, his objective was 40 divisions: four tanks, eight mechanized, seven RAPIDs (Re-organised Army Plains Infantry Division), two airmobile, and 19 mountain. At that time we had three armoured and mechanised, four RAPIDs, 17 infantry, and ten mountain divisions.

Sundarji also corrected appreciated that on the nuclear battlefield, a mass of infantry no longer served any purpose. The western front had to be mechanised. This was not done; today India has only three armoured divisions, no mechanised, and just six RAPIDs.

Nothing was done in the north, either. India did not want to provoke China by boosting northern forces. As usual in dealing with China, we fell into the trap of believing negotiations could defuse tension, eliminating the need for additional divisions. By the mid-2000s, it became apparent that China saw our peaceful intention as weakness, and began to push farther. Reluctantly, the government agreed that between seven and 11 new China front divisions were needed, something Sundarji had postulated 20 years ago. Also as usual, the government found any number of reasons to be timid, and sanctioned only two new mountain divisions. These were used to restore Eastern Command's depleted strength and were not net additions.


AUGUST 11, 2015

Robots will not replace humans, but will expand and augment their capabilities, helping warfighters to better accomplish their mission — to fight and win.

Will the next U.S. fighter aircraft be manned, contrary to the predictions of technologists and policymakers like Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus? That is the prediction of Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha, who argues against the viability of unmanned fighter aircraft on the grounds that they can never match the abilities of human aviators. I have great respect for Pietrucha’s insightful and often unconventional thinking on air warfare issues, but his conclusions are deeply flawed. In envisioning future unmanned fighter aircraft, Pietrucha falls victim to two common pitfalls in thinking about the role of robotics and autonomous systems in military operations: conflating robots with warfighters and expecting “fully autonomous” systems to replace humans.

Throughout the article runs an implicit assumption of human vs. machine. Numerous times, Pietrucha mentions unmanned aircraft “replacing” humans. But the real future of combat — in the air and elsewhere — is human–machine teaming: physical teaming between “manned” and “unmanned” vehicles, and cognitive teaming that blends automation and human decision-making. Robots will not replace humans, but will expand and augment their capabilities, helping warfighters to better accomplish their mission — to fight and win.

Robots are Not Warfighters