14 October 2015

OROP - Analysis of Conflicting Perceptions

Being Informed is the Best Weapon.

Friday, 9 October 2015


Full disclosure: 

1. Lt Gen V M Patil PVSM, AVSM (retd), President Akhil Bharatiya Poorva Sainik Seva Parishad (ABPSSP) facilitated a meeting with the Hon'ble Raksha Mantri.

2. This blog author presented the subsequent analysis based on facts & documents (sources as cited below) to the Hon'ble Raksha Mantri ((in hard copy) on 8th October 2015 at 8 am and it was discussed thoroughly. Further developments are awaited. 

3. This blog author made the presentation in his personal capacity and not as a member of any ESM organisation. 

One Rank One Pension (OROP) Issue
Analysis of Conflicting Perceptions & Suggestions for Resolution

References: -

(a) Koshiyari Committee Report of December 2011,

(b) MoD OM No. 17 (4)/2008 (2)/D (Pen/Pol) dated 12.11.2008,

(c) SAI (SNI/SAFI) No. 1/S/2008 and 2/S/2008,
(d) MoD Resolution No. 1 (E) dated 30.8.2008

(e) DP & PW OM F No. 38/37/08 – P & PW (A). Part II dated 3.10.2008 concerning revision of  provisions regulating pension/gratuity/commutation of pension/family pension/disability   pension/ex-gratia lump sum compensations,

(f) DP & PW OM No. 38/37/08 – P & PW (A). pt I dated 14.10.2008, - revised pension based on  revised pay bands and grade pay for posts carrying present scales as per Sixth Central Pay Commission,

(g) Defence Pension Regulations 2008 and Rules for Army, Navy & Air Force available on the PCDA (P) Website,

h) Judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in D. S. Nakara & Others Vs UoI (1982), UoI & Anr Vs Maj Gen S. P. S. Vains & Another (2009), A. N. Sachdeva (deceased) & Others Vs Maharishi Dayanand University (MDU) (August 2015),

(j) PCDA (P) Circular Nos 500, 501, 547 and 548,

(k) Speech of Defence Minister apropos One Rank One Pension (OROP) on 5th September 2015,

(l) Letter from Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd) to Defence Minister dated 18th September 2015.

List of Appendices: -

A - Tables for Pay & Pension w.e.f 1.1.2006 for Officers (Annexure A of PCDA (P) Circular 500)

B- Tables for Pay & Pension w.e.f 1.1.2006 for ORs & JCOs (Tables from PCDA (P) Circular 501)

What Next for the Russian Military in Syria?

The Cost of an Expanded Russian Campaign 


October 12, 2015

Russia’s current position in Syria as well as its naval assets in the Caspian Sea and long-range bombers in southern Russia would accommodate operations against the Islamic State in Iraq, but it could strike more effectively and more frequently using bases in Iraq itself.
Setting up bases in Iraq would cost Russia more money, time and effort and could antagonize the United States.
Through its operations in Syria, Russia is testing its capability to conduct air campaigns. It is a first for post-Soviet Russia and will shape Russia’s future air campaigns.


The start of Russian airstrikes in Syria has given new hope to loyalist forces in their battle against a host of rebel factions, including the Islamic State. Now comments out of Baghdad and Moscow suggest that Russia may expand these operations into Iraq if requested to do so by Baghdad. Indeed, from its position in Latakia, Russia has the range to strike Islamic State targets in Iraq, although further deployment of resources may be required to do so effectively.

Expanding these operations to Iraq would, however, put Russian forces in the same battlespace as U.S. troops — which may well be Russia’s goal. Russia’s strategy, both in the Syria conflict and in planning possible operations in Iraq, is essentially to pressure the U.S. position and force Washington into high-level negotiations. This puts Baghdad — as well as Iran, which has also been active in the Iraqi theater — in a tough spot. Ultimately, Baghdad has a decision to make: reject Moscow’s aid and continue to depend on U.S. military support, or welcome Russia into its territory at the risk of aggravating its Western ally.

Logistical Hurdles

Strictly speaking, targets in Iraq already fall within range of Russian naval assets in the Caspian Sea and of the Su-24 Fencer and Su-34 Fullback long-range ground attack aircraft Russia has positioned at Bassel al Assad airbase in Syria. Though these aircraft would have to spend less time over targets in Iraq than they do in Syria, Russia could conduct aerial refueling operations to remedy that.

Still, these refueling operations, as well as the longer flight times, would raise aircraft maintenance requirements and make accidents more likely. Russian aircraft would have to carry lighter payloads, and diverting planes to Iraq would also mean easing back in Syria. Over the past week Russia has maintained an average of around 20 sorties per day using the 32 aircraft stationed at Bassel al Assad air base in Latakia; reallocating resources for long-distance strikes in Iraq would further slow what is already a relatively moderate tempo of operations in Syria.

Yet Russia has already shown it can strike targets throughout the entire Syrian and Iraqi territory if necessary. The long-range bomber aircraft Russia have allegedly deployed to southern Russian air bases could fly south to strike targets in the Middle East, though so far Moscow has refrained from using them in Syria. Sea-based cruise missile platforms that Russia has already used in Syria could be just as useful in Iraq. Russian ships launched 26 cruise missiles in the Caspian Sea, striking targets across Syria after traveling through Iranian and Iraqi air space. Four of these cruise missiles crashed in Iran, near the town of Takab, as a likely testament to Russia’s limited experience in actually using this type of weapon system in an operational environment. But the strikes still demonstrate that Russia’s naval assets give it the power to hit targets in Iraq.

A Crowded Battlefield

A more effective alternative to flying long-range missions would be to establish air bases within Iraq. There are already many unused runways available to the Russians there, and the recent deployment into Syria has shown Russia is perfectly capable of establishing an effective air base in about a month. This would include Russia bringing in its own people to run the air base, putting in place logistical support systems and providing force protection. Such logistical feats come at a cost, however, and as economic sanctions and low energy prices are already imposing a heavy cost on Russia, the Kremlin may hesitate to invest heavily in Iraq’s security. In addition, deploying air assets into Iraq would put the Russians even closer to U.S. assets and operations in Iraq, boosting the potential for incidents or at the very least compelling both Russia and the United States to cooperate more closely.

The presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is likely to deter Russia from inserting its own ground forces. Without troops on the ground working side by side with Iraqis, Russia will have a hard time coordinating tactically with the Iraqi military, which could make its airstrikes less effective. In Syria, the Russian ground forces present in small numbers among loyalist units act as liaisons between the troops and Russian aircraft, providing intelligence and targeting information. In Iraq, such interaction with Iraqi security forces would be very difficult, and putting Russian forces on the ground in a theater where American troops are already present could create conflict. And while Russia cooperates closely with Iranian forces, there are not huge numbers of them in Iraq.

Setting aside the myriad costs to Russia of expanding its military operations, ultimately Iraq itself has to decide whether soliciting aid from Moscow is worth straining its relationship with the United States. The United States has devoted far more effort to Iraq than to Syria; to risk losing that support, Iraq would have to see enormous advantages to Russian military intervention. Unlike the U.S. military, which uses a vast array of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets to strike targets with precision-guided munitions, the Russians by and large use unguided weaponry to strike more indiscriminately. Then again, Russia is not hindered by the same rules of engagement that limit U.S. operations. By law, U.S. operations have to minimize the risk of civilian casualties and limit collateral damage. Iraq may decide that the Islamic State threat warrants the more heavy-handed approach that Russia offers, despite the dangers it poses to civilians.

Armed Forces Tribunal issues notice to MoD, MoF on petition seeking pay parity with civil services


It has been contended that the armed forces officers cadre meets all the attributes attached to the Group ‘A’ organised service.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Published:October 13, 2015

The Principal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in New Delhi today issued notice to the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance on a petition filed by a serving Colonel who has demanded that the Non-Functional Upgrade (NFU) applicable to IAS officers and other Group ‘A’ services be extended to armed forces as well.

In his petition, Col Mukul Dev, of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Branch, has contended that the morale officers of the armed forces has been lowered by the government by non-grant of the NFU and thus lowering the established status of the armed forces officers since independence. He has also argued that the stagnation in the armed forces is more acute than the civil services and that the denial is in clear violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution “as the equals since independence have been made unequals”.
Arguing the petition before the Principal Bench, Jyoti Singh, Senior Counsel, and Colonel Rajiv Manglik (retd), advocates for the petitioner said that the purpose of grant of NFU is not to equate the monetary benefits or earnings enjoyed by a particular service but it is granted with the aim to remove the stagnation due to the acute shortage of vacancies and grant parity of promotional avenues within the IAS with stipulated lead of two years to the IAS.

The petitioner has argued that the parity established since independence and upheld by the pay commissions in succession between the armed forces and the All India Services/ Group ‘A’ services and IPS in particular has been disturbed and the petitioner has been deprived of the benefits extended to his counter parts in parity in the civil services.
It has been contended that the armed forces officers cadre meets all the attributes attached to the Group ‘A’ organised service. The petition says that the NFU has been denied on the pretext that Military Service Pay (MSP) has been given to armed forces officers. Citing this as a “gross mis-concept” the petition says that the grant of NFU is to alleviate the acute stagnation in service whereas the MSP and other allowances is due to the postings at various difficult terrain and living conditions.

It has also been pointed out that thereare a number of Group ’A services, who do not meet all the criteria for Group ‘A’ services yet they have been given deviation from the norms and awarded NFU. The services mentioned are Indian Legal Service and Indian Trade Service, Indian Statistical service, Indian Economic service and Central Information service.

What is NFU?

Non Functional Upgrade (NFU) entitles an IAS officer and other Group ‘A’ services officers of the civil services to get the pay scale of the highest promoted officer of their batch even if he or she is not promoted to the same rank. This higher grade is given two years after the batchmate achives the promotion. The aim of giving NFU is to alleviate the stagnation in the service due to non-promotion. Due to the steep pyramid of promotion in armed forces hierarchy, a large number of officers do not make it to the next selection rank. However, NFU has not been made applicable to armed forces. The Delhi High Court in its recent judgement has held that NFU is also applicable to officers of the central paramilitary forces.- 

Dear Sir,
There are 20 lakh retired JCOs, NCOs and OR. Another 5.50 lakh widows of JCOs, & OR.
Is it possible for me to collect particulars from all of you?
Pl understand how pension has been fixed for Sepoy, 15 years' service of Group Y. If he retires in Jan 2006 his pay in 6th CPC is Rs 12,000 and his pension is Rs 6,000 which is half of it. But another Sepoy of same service and same group retires unfortunately in Dec 2005 (just one month before) then his pension was fixed at Rs 3550 and now enhanced by circular 547 to Rs 3748.

Do you call this pension fixation just and equitable?
Is it modified parity which aims to reduce the gap in pensions between two sepoys of same rank and same group and same length of service?
Is this justice?
How long will you accept this injustice?
For 10 long years do you know how much you lost in pension?
What I requested is: let one spirited, motivated and hard working retired JCO or NCO or OR take initiative and get me just 100 (and just 100) members and then we in TSEWA will file your case to get justice in AFT Delhi.

Everyone wants some one to do this job.
What does it entail?
Just post a mail in social media to join this just legal battle to get your dues. We are not asking for more pension but only praying for correct fixation of pension as given to some one who retires in Jan 2006.

There are innumerable judgments to support you. Then JCOs, NCOs, OR and widows will come in large numbers. You will get not 100 but 10,000 from you own state. Then send me those particulars in MS Excel. I will send you MS Excel sheet with all details required to be filled up like service no, rank, name in full, postal address, e-mail id, mobile no, date of joining, date of retirement, X or Y gp, classification allowance drawn while in service, pension fixed and paid as from Jan 2006. Pl enter particulars in this MS Excel sheet.
If I get 100 members by 31 Dec 2015 from all over India, we in TSEWA will file a case for correct pension for JCOs, NCOs, OR and widows by January or Feb 2016.
More number of litigants, less is the cost of litigation.

Pl do not be a passenger but be a driver and shoot the goal.
Is it possible for me when I am neck deep involved in legal case of Officers and collect particulars of 1000 JCOs and OR or is it possible for each one of in 29 states and 6 UTs to collect particulars of 100 Ex-Servicemen?
Pl help me to help you.
We have not time to lose.
Don't think January or Feb 2016 is very far. Our D day will appear soon.
None helps JCOs, NCOs,OR and widows except you yourselves.
Min of Def will never accept their mistakes and correct them. Do you think JS ESW would have conceded to argument of PO Santosh Singh when he appraised her problems of JCOs and OR when he met her on 12 Jan 2015?

It is always nice and polite talk and end result: we in Min of Def honour ESMs and did our job correctly. There is nothing wrong in our pension fixation. Sepoy who retires in Jan 2006 will get Rs 6000 as pension and another Sepoy who retires in Dec 2005 will get less pension at Rs 3550 which we have improved to Rs 3748 in Circular 547 and 549. This is going to be the argument of JS ESW.
So wake up my brothers and sisters.
None bothers about you.
No one cares whether you live or die.

But you can make all the difference if you have the will.
We in TSEWA will fight for you if you are willing to join us.
Let me see there should be one NCO or JCO or OR from each state and UT in India becoming a coordinator and helping me in collecting particulars of ESMs who are willing to join in this legal battle TSEWA will launch in January or Feb 2016.
I leave the rest to your better judgment.


filing a case in AFT Principal Bench Delhi for grant of NFFU for Armed Forces Officers.

Dear Sir,
Let us all congratulate Col Mukul Deo and Col Rajiv Mangalik for taking initiative of filing a case in AFT Principal Bench Delhi for grant of NFFU for Armed Forces Officers. 
As all of you know CAPF Officers had already obtained judgment of Hon'ble High Court of Delhi for grant of NFFU. So there is no reason why Armed Forces officers will not get NFFU. How are we degrading ourselves. Bureaucrats will not give us a paisa to us as they are jealous of our life style, integrity and other wonderful qualities.

There are about 45,000 Army Officers and total about 52,000 serving officers in three services.We are about 2 lakh officers retired. All will get benefit when NFFU is sanctioned by Courts of law. Don't go to Govt of India begging them for NFFU. Go to courts of law.
It is moral responsibility of all of us who will benefit from NFFU i.e.Officer class serving and retired class to contribute financially to these two wonderful officers who had the courage to file the case in AFT Delhi.

As and when NFFU is approved by Court of Law then even we the Armed Forces pensioners will also get higher pension i.e Officers with 17 or 19 years' service will get pension of Maj Gen and officers with 30 or 32 years’ service will get pension of Lt Gen. 
We slept all these days. Let us now wake up and support our two brothers who took pains to go to AFT Delhi by sharing the legal expenses. Just imagine if NFFU is granted to Armed Forces officers w.e.f. Jan 2006 how much arrears will each of us will get. You can buy with that arrears a plot in Mars now that planet has water as per NASA.
Can some one give me e-mail id of any one of the two Officers so that I can congratulate them for having real 00s?

Pl remember retired officers have no locus standi to file the case as we are not entitled for NFFU and only serving officers can approach AFT for NFFU. Now it is our turn in our own interest to get higher pension through NFFU. As and when NFFU is granted we will get much higher pension than what we will get in OROP.

Brig CS Vidyasagar (Rtd)


What China’s One Belt and One Road Strategy Means for India, Asia and the World


Since India lacks the resources today to set up competing networks, it may be worthwhile to participate in those components of the OBOR which might improve Indian connectivity to major markets and resource supplies 

Chinese map marking out the important routes and cities involved in the Belt-Road Initiative. 

The well-known geopolitical theorist Halford Mackinder postulated in 1904 that the inner area of Eurasia – characterised by interior or polar drainage and impenetrable by sea-power – was destined to be the “Pivot Area” of world politics. It was his view that the rule over the heart of the world’s greatest landmass would become the basis for world domination, owing to the superiority of rail over ships in terms of time and reach. Russia and China, if they came together, he predicted, could outflank the maritime world. 

The course of the First World War led him in later years to modify his initial perspective. In looking at the shape of the post-World War II order, he foresaw a world geopolitically balanced between a combination of the North Atlantic, or what he termed as Midland Ocean, and the Asian heartland powers. In effect, he conceded that geopolitical dominance required both a continental as well as a maritime dimension. Another important geopolitical theorist, Alfred Mahan, also had a Eurasian centred global perspective, but his emphasis was on maritime power mediating between a two-fold global framework – a Western and an Oriental system. 

Against this backdrop, what we may currently be witnessing is a carving out by China of a continental-maritime geo-strategic realm constituted by its initiative labeled ‘One Belt and One Road’, also known as the Belt-Road Initiative and the abbreviation OBOR. 

J&K: Continuing Deceit


Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

On October 5, 2015, following inputs about movement of terrorists in the Hafruda Forest near the Line of Control (LoC) in the Handwara area of Kupwara District in the preceding days, Security Forces (SFs) launched a search operation in the area. On seeing the Army personnel, the terrorists opened heavy fire, triggering an exchange that resulted in the death of four Army personnel, while the terrorists managed to escape. Reports indicate that the terrorists had infiltrated from across the border three days earlier.
On October 7, 2015, a Police officer was killed in a gun battle in the Gund Dachin area of Bandipora District. Acting on information, a Police team headed by Sub-Inspector (SI), Altaf Ahmed Dar chased a vehicle in which terrorists, including a ‘divisional commander’ of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Abu Qasim, were travelling to receive a group of terrorists in the area. As the Police team opened fire and tried to intercept the vehicle, the terrorists retaliated, triggering a brief gun battle. During the encounter, SI Ahmad sustained injuries and later died. The terrorists, however, managed to escape leaving behind the vehicle. Abu Qasim was wanted by National Investigating Agency (NIA) and carries a head money of INR one million.

On October 8, 2015, an encounter took place between SFs and terrorists in the Koungnoo area of Shopian District. Acting on information regarding the presence of three terrorists, SFs had cordoned off the area. On seeing the troops, the terrorists opened fire, triggering an encounter. No casualty was reported from either side, but the terrorists managed to escape taking advantage of the dense vegetation.
These are only the most recent incidents of offensive engagement between Pakistan-backed terrorists and SFs. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the State has recorded 35 SF fatalities during the current year (data till October 11, 2015), as compared to 31 such deaths during the corresponding period of 2014. The number of terrorists killed in SF operation has also increased from 131 to 140 in the same period, while civilian fatalities have remained more or less at the same level, with 19 in 2015 as against 18 in 2014.

Despite Pakistan’s persistent efforts to create an environment of turmoil, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has managed to sustain the relative peace achieved after a protracted period of turmoil. While terrorism-related fatalities have registered marginal increases since 2013, after a sustained decline since 2002 onwards, indices of violence are only at tiny fractions of the intensity that was recorded between 1990 and 2006, when a high intensity conflict raged in the State, with fatalities over the 1,000 mark each year. At peak, the State recorded 4,507 fatalities (1,067 civilians, 590 SF personnel, 2,850 terrorists) in 2001. 

ISIS Gaining Ground in Afghanistan Against Taliban

Afghan ISIS Branch Makes Inroads in Battle Against Taliban

Mujib Mashal, 
New York Times, October 13, 2015

SORKHROAD, Afghanistan — At least three times a week, Malaika hikes up the mountain, past mulberry and pine trees, to a clearing where she can get cellphone reception. She calls her family to reassure them that the Islamic State fighters have not come for her yet.

Below, her village — Bagh, in the Maamand Valley in eastern Afghanistan — has been gutted by the Islamic State militants who overran it three months ago. Most of the houses have been looted, burned or simply taken over by the fighters, and the 80 or so families that lived there have been forced to seek refuge near Jalalabad city.

Malaika, vigorous in her late 50s, is one of three women who decided to stay behind to try to keep their homes.

“The poor woman is guarding the windows and the planks of the two rooms that remain,” her husband, Mullah Jan, said last month. Mr. Jan was held by the militants for two months until he paid them $500 ransom. “We had 10 goats and one cow. They took all of it.”

When reports began emerging last year that some Afghan militants had shifted their allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, the government and international response remained measured. Experts noted that in Afghanistan, the Islamic State represented more of a splintering of the Talibanthan a major expansion of the core group out of Syria and Iraq.

But even as the Taliban are winning major victories against the government this year, including the capture of Kunduz, they are not exerting monolithic control. The Islamic State has made major inroads in turf battles against Taliban commanders, particularly in places in Nangarhar Province like the Maamand Valley. And the result, rather than weakening the overall insurgency, has mostly been to inflict more chaos and misery for Afghan civilians.

The people in eastern Afghanistan were not sure what to make of it at first. To them, the shaggy-haired militants were largely the same old Taliban under a new black flag.

The Taliban, the Fall of Kunduz, and the Spread Once Again of Illegal Narcotics Trafficking in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: The Kunduz Conundrum

strategypage.com, October 13, 2015

The sudden increase of Taliban activity in northern Afghanistan, especially the temporary seizure of Kunduz (a city of 145,000), is a new aspect of an old problem; Taliban efforts to make the north safer for smuggling heroin out of the country. Charging into Kunduz on September 28 th was unusual, because it was an expensive operation in that it gets a lot of Taliban fighters killed or captured and is soon undone once the security forces send enough reinforcements to the city. And that’s what happened. It got worse when several similar attacks failed to get into the city they were after. Such spectacular attacks are mainly for terrorizing the local population, especially politicians and business owners, into being more cooperative. The basic problem for the Taliban and the drug gangs they work for is that they don’t want to run the country but do need free access to keep the drug business going. This is especially true of the north, where the locals have always been more anti-drugs and hostile to the Talban. 

The northerners must be terrorized into subservience. With the foreign troops gone the drug gangs and the Taliban can operate with a lot more freedom (from interference and heavy losses from air strikes). You can see how the drug gangs are controlling all of this because the locations where the Taliban are most active are the ones most crucial to drug gang profits (which the Taliban share). Thus the smuggling routes to Central Asia, Pakistan and Iran are more frequently the scene of Taliban violence. The official Taliban line is that this is all for the purpose of putting the Taliban back in charge of the country. The reality is that most Taliban are content to make a good living off the heroin trade. That this cripples the economy and hurts the majority of Afghans does not bother members of the drug gangs or the Taliban. This is curse of Afghanistan, where the country has long suffered from a lack of cooperation and efforts to curb the ancient chaos. This is particularly the case in the north, where local warlords (often politicians) is strong and while these guys tend to be anti-drug and anti-Taliban they are definitely not anti-making-money. The impact on Afghanistan can be seen by the fact that unemployment has risen (over a third of Afghans are unemployed) and the number fleeing the country is increasing. About 10,000 Afghans a day are applying for passports, the first step is leaving to legally (or illegally) reaching another country and a new home. Iran reports that about 2,000 Afghans a day illegally enter Iran, often on their way to a more distant country (usually in the West). All this is fine with the Taliban and drug gangs because most of the people leaving are very hostile to the Taliban and drug gangs. 

Normally the Taliban, or local drug gangs only have a lot of control in a few of the 373 districts (each province is composed of districts) in Afghanistan. The Taliban are active in 10-15 percent of districts, mainly in the south (Helmand and Kandahar, where most of the heroin is produced) and the east (where many Pakistan/ISI supported Islamic terrorist groups operate) and increasingly in the north. The north is always a problem because the drug gangs have to deal with the security forces, local warlords and a strong tradition of local defense militias (except in the cities). 

U.S. vs. Russia: What a war would look like between the world's most fearsome militaries


By Andrew Tilghman and Oriana Pawlyk, Staff writers 

Russia has big ambitions,growing capabilities

Early on the morning of Sept. 30, a Russian three-star general approached the American embassy in Baghdad, walked past a wall of well-armed Marines, to deliver face-to-face a diplomatic demarche to the United States. His statement was blunt: The Russia military would begin air strikes in neighboring Syria within the hour — and the American military should clear the area immediately.
It was a bout of brinksmanship between two nuclear-armed giants that the world has not seen in decades, and it has revived Cold War levels of suspicion, antagonism and gamesmanship.

With the launch of airstrikes in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated a proxy war with the U.S., putting those nation's powerful militaries in support of opposing sides of the multipolar conflict. And it's a huge gamble for Moscow, experts say. "This is really quite difficult for them. It's logistically complex. The Russians don't have much in the way of long-range power projection capability," said Mark Galeotti, a Russian security expert at New York University.
Moscow's military campaign in Syria is relying on supply lines that require air corridors through both Iranian and Iraqi air space. The only alternatives are naval supply lines running from Crimea, requiring a passage of up to 10 days round-trip. How long that can be sustained is unclear.

That and other questions about Russian military capabilities and objectives are taking center stage as Putin shows a relentless willingness to use military force in a heavy-handed foreign policy aimed at restoring his nation's stature as a world power. In that quest, he has raised the specter of resurgent Russian military might — from Ukraine to the Baltics, from Syria to the broader Middle East.
90-second explainer: What Russia's intervention in Syria and Ukraine means for the American military.Video by Andrew deGrandpre/Staff
Russia's increasingly aggressive posture has sparked a sweeping review among U.S. defense strategists of America's military policies and contingency plans in the event of a conflict with the former Soviet state. Indeed, the Pentagon's senior leaders are asking questions that have been set aside for more than 20 years:

Russian Jets Conduct 55 Sorties in Syria, Hit 53 ISIL Targets


© Sputnik/ Vladimir Astapkovich

The Russian Air Force has conducted 55 sorties in Syria targeting 53 ISIL facilities, the Russian Defense ministry said Mondey.
Russian airstrikes have destroyed a stronghold of the Islamic State in the Syrian Salma and Latakia. Seven command centers, six training camps and six ammunition depots were also destroyed, the Defense Ministry spokesperson said.

“Russian air and space reconnaissance continues to pinpoint new objects 24 hours a day of the Islamic State’s terrorist infrastructure in the Syrian Arab Republic to be destroyed by Russian air groups,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing.
Russian Su-24M bomber jets have also destroyed ISIL transit center with underground shelter in Latakia.
"As a result of a pinpoint strike of Su-24M bombers near Salma settlement (Lattakia province), fragmentation air bombs destroyed a large ISIS transfer point with underground facilities and ammunition depots detected by means of space reconnaissance," Konashenkov said, "Detonation of munitions caused large fire. The object was completely destroyed."
An ISIL camp used as militant base for fighters coming from abroad was destroyed by Russian Aerospace Forces in Idlib.

"Su-34 bombers attacked a militant camp located in the town of Mastumah, Idlib province. According to intelligence data, this camp was used by the IS group as a gathering point for militants arriving from foreign countries," ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters.

More Chechnya, Less Afghanistan What Vladimir Putin hopes to make of his Syria intervention.


Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30, roughly 36 hours after a rare meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. The timing and targeting signaled Moscow’s determination to directly counter Washington’s Syria policy, as factions backed by the CIA were among the first hit. Moscow’s boasts of combating the Islamic State aside, the overwhelming majority of Russia’s initial strikes have targeted rebel factions opposed to the group. Now, a regime ground offensive with Russian air support aims to regain territory from those anti-Islamic State factions along key front lines in Syria’s northwest, far from areas controlled by the Islamic State.
There are two major takeaways from Russia’s intervention. First, Moscow’s strategy is now more than ever in sync with that of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Secondly, the obstacles to the United States formulating a coherent Syria policy have become even more formidable. With Washington on Friday shuttering its failed attempts to arm the moderate rebels, the regional backers of the opposition, in particular Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, are on their own — and that promises to be messy.

That Moscow is playing hardball should come as no surprise.That Moscow is playing hardball should come as no surprise. Since 2011, Russia has worked to prevent Syria from becoming another example of Western-backed regime change. It has done so not only to protect a long-standing ally and its toehold on the Mediterranean, but also to deter Western interventionism, which it views as undermining Russian power within the international system. Toward that end, Moscow has employed its U.N. Security Council veto and has provided significant political and weapons support to the regime since the beginning of the revolt. Whereas Russia’s abstention in March 2011 on a Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in Libya paved the way for a NATO intervention ending in regime-change, Moscow’s intransigence on the Syria file has preserved its ally while elevating its own global standing.

Yet the Assad regime has lost significant ground in the past year, shifting Moscow’s incentives. The Islamic State gained in central Syria, Islamist factions hostile to it advanced in the northwest, and a mainstream rebel coalition seized new ground in the south. While increased support from Iran and Hezbollah have helped slow the pace of decline, Assad’s regional allies cannot compensate for the regime’s dwindling manpower. Insofar as they have helped, they have done so through empowering militias — thus accelerating the erosion of state institutions and further decentralizing what was already a fractured power structure beneath Assad. In addition, Washington’s blend of verbal backing for the opposition with weak material support may have encouraged Russian escalation by making it appear less risky for Moscow.

Moscow looks at Syria today and sees a messy array of hostile forces on one side and a declining, fracturing ally on the other. Russian officials have shown little interest in the ideological and strategic differences distinguishing transnational Salafi-jihadi groups such as the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front from self-described “revolutionary” factions, which may seek a political future within a pluralistic Syrian state. Instead, they have labeled all the regime’s armed opponents as “terrorists.”

That assessment led to a single conclusion by Russian and Iranian officials: Whatever their complaints regarding Assad, securing his hold on power offered the best chance of protecting their interests in the Levant. The conflict’s trajectory was working against them; beyond the territorial losses, the growing Western focus on the costs of horrific regime air attacks on civilian areas, plus the likelihood of a more hawkish U.S. president in 2017, suggested that the Western policy vacuum that had worked in their favor might not last much longer. From Moscow’s perspective, this was the moment to take matters into its hands.

The result is that Russia has dropped any pretext of serving as a mediator and instead has joined the conflict directly. Its immediate goals are clear: to strengthen and expand the regime’s zone of control in strategically vital western Syria, while weakening opposition groups supported by state backers — in particular, those that could eventually partner with the United States, should it expand its role. Like Damascus, Moscow can be expected to strike Islamic State targets in order to burnish their joint “counterterrorism” narrative, as well as when the group threatens regime control. The focus, however, has been and will likely remain elsewhere.

Moscow may believe that it can help achieve what it eventually did in Chechnya — brutally subduing an Islamist-led insurgency — while escaping the humiliation that befell it in Afghanistan.Moscow may believe that it can help achieve what it eventually did in Chechnya — brutally subduing an Islamist-led insurgency — while escaping the humiliation that befell it in Afghanistan. True, the Syrian opposition enjoys only lackadaisical backers, unlike the Afghan insurgents of the Cold War. Yet Syria doesn’t resemble the Chechnya precedent either. First, there is no prospect of partnering with capable allies in the communities from which the insurgency has grown. Instead, Russia has hitched its battlefield fortunes to a regime that, through collective punishment and sectarian militias, is viewed within opposition-held areas as an external invader — and, where it seizes ground, as an occupying force. The same is doubly true, of course, for the foreign personnel upon which the regime is growing increasingly dependent: Hezbollah fighters, Iraqi and Afghan militiamen, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and now Russians.

Second, while rebels fighting Russia in Chechnya enjoyed little external support, Syrian opposition factions receive substantial (albeit poorly coordinated) backing from their regional allies. Perhaps Russia is betting that by significantly escalating its role and potentially intimidating Washington into diminishing its own support, it can convince the opposition’s regional backers that their efforts are not worth the costs and risks. But while these states have little objection in principle to a deal with Moscow, they are currently unlikely to accept one with Assad and Iran — the very two forces with which Russia is now deepening its cooperation and conflating its objectives. The Russian decision to focus strikes on opposition forces allied with Ankara, Riyadh, and Doha — rather than the Islamic State — is more likely to encourage them to counter-escalate than capitulate.

If left unaddressed, Russian airstrikes and the Iranian-backed ground offensive could do real damage to mainstream opposition forces, upon whose survival any eventual political resolution depends. Beyond the casualties these forces will suffer, they are likely to face increased competition for manpower from groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, which will no doubt use the Russian-Iranian escalation as a powerful recruiting tool. That appears of little concern to Moscow, which is now increasing its investment in a regime-designed strategy aimed at crippling mainstream rebels, so as to leave itself as the lone supposed bulwark in Western eyes against the Islamic State.

That is precisely the scenario the opposition’s regional backers seek to prevent. As a result, they will see clear reason to escalate their own support. To ensure there is a viable opposition at the negotiating table whenever talks occur, these nearby powers should tailor any increased aid to convince non-jihadi factions to be more cohesive and to strengthen their standing relative to Salafi-jihadi groups. Yet given the history of poor coordination and the further deterioration of Washington’s credibility as an intermediary within the pro-opposition camp, there is an obvious danger that additional support will be distributed haphazardly.

If Moscow and Tehran hope to elicit compromise rather than counter-escalation, they need to step back from two key positions: the continuation of Assad’s rule and Syria’s attachment to Iran’s regional axis. That seems highly unlikely, unless and until they find the costs of intervention outweighing the gains. In the absence of such an about-face, Russia is initiating a new phase in this war — one with higher costs and risks for all and offering no greater prospect of a resolution.

ISIS trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble


Oct 12, 2015

West Asia is in a turmoil whose magnitude can undoubtedly compare with that at the height of the Crusades in the Middle Ages. The crisis lies in Syria, where a complex witches’ brew of a multi-cornered, intra-Arab conflict has extended itself over West Asia, eastwards from Libya and is now intruding into Asia Minor and touching the borders of Turkey.

The dimensions are fluctuating and blurred with multiple participants pitched against each other in an expanding confrontation. This includes rival factions of a divided Syrian Army, assorted bands of “fighters” from terrorist groups all over the Arab world, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Kurdish “peshmerga” who are fighting Iraq, Iran and Turkey for an independent tribal homeland of Kurdistan.

Islam is at war with itself. The war in Syria is part of a weaponised “Great Game” raging within its heart — the one between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran. Both are wrestling for domination over the entire Islamic world. Airstrikes by Saudi-led airpower are the primary weapon of fighting wars and “boots on the ground” are unpopular.

The shadow of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) hangs like a pall over the entire strife-torn region. The Isis sees itself as an “army of God” that is on a divine mission to establish a rigidly Sunni pan-Islamic khilafat, owing allegiance to a “Supreme Khalifa”, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, and demanding the allegiance of Muslims worldwide.

Putin’s Military Intervention in Syria Has Reestablished Russia as a Regional Power and Embarrassed the U.S.

Editorial Russia limits U.S. options in Syria 

Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, October 12, 2015

The Obama administration may be right that Russia’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria will backfire against Vladimir Putin. But for now the audacious Russian president has succeeded in altering events in that country’s civil war to his advantage, reestablishing Russia as a regional power and, probably not least from his perspective, embarrassing the United States.

The administration apparently lacked intelligence about Russian intentions or, if it did know that Putin was planning a major operation to rescue Syrian President Bashar Assad, it was unable to dissuade him. The U.S. now must contend not only with the reckless Russian military intervention in Syria but also with a diplomatic offensive by Moscow that has won favor with the government of Iraq, a supposed U.S. ally. Some Iraqi politicians are even inviting Russia to launch airstrikes against Islamic State in that country. Iraq is already sharing intelligence with Russia and Syria.

The depressing truth is that there isn’t much Obama can do to prevent Russia from intervening in a civil war in which the United States also has taken sides. - 

That isn’t all. The administration’s halting and halfhearted efforts to build up “moderate” fighters in Syria to take on Islamic State have made it easy for Putin to argue that the superior strategy for suppressing that group is to shore up Assad. Never mind that Assad’s brutal suppression of peaceful protests helped energize Islamic State and other extremists and contributed to a hemorrhage of refugees.

Russian Airstrikes Have Reinvigorated the Syrian Army

Russian air strikes put spring in step of Assad’s army

Jim Muir, BBC News, October 12, 2015

Since the Russians waded in with air and missile strikes, and Iran stepped up its support on the ground directly and through Shia militias from around the region, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s battered and under-manned army clearly has a new spring in its step.

In the past few days, his forces and their allies have begun offensives clearly aimed, initially at least, at regaining ground they lost to an alliance of non-Islamic State (IS) rebels since early this year.

The main areas currently in the sights of the regime and its allies are the Sahl al-Ghab, a large plain between Hama and Aleppo, and the mountains of northern Latakia province.

The rebels’ penetration into these areas, following their capture of the capital of Idlib province in late March, represented a potentially deadly threat to the core of the regime’s holdings, including the heartland of Assad’s minority Alawite sect along the Latakia coast.

With President Assad publicly ringing the alarm bells - no doubt with an eye on the Russian and Iranian galleries - Moscow and Tehran decided to do what was necessary to prevent a collapse and shore up their strategic ally.

Since the imminent threat was being mounted not by IS but by the new Army of Conquest coalition of mainly Islamic rebel groups, backed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, it is not surprising that it seems to be those factions that are receiving most of the attention of Mr Putin’s air strikes, as he tries to “stabilise the legitimate authorities” as he himself put it.

Chinese Finance Minister’s Advice to U.S. Fed: Keep Interest Rates at Zero


U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and President Barack Obama often lecture their Chinese counterparts about the need to stop propping up their economy through currency manipulation and government stock purchases, both meant to stop a summer rout in Beijing’s weakening economy. A key Chinese official is returning the favor.

In an interview published Monday in the China Business News, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei called on the United States to leave its interest rates near zero, something that makes it cheaper for consumers and businesses around the world to borrow American dollars. U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen and her colleagues on the central bank’s Open Market Committee have repeatedly put off a rate hike, expected since March, amid fears that it could disrupt the fragile U.S. economic recovery. Right now, U.S. Fed rates range from zero percent to 0.25 percent.

In other words, Lou wants to United States to artificially keep the cost of borrowing low, even as other finance ministers from around the world call on the Fed to raise rates, something that hasn’t happened since 2006. The Fed set borrowing cost near zero in 2008 in a move known as quantitative easing. This was a last-ditch effort to flood the market with cash to boost American economic growth as the United States was on the verge of financial ruin. The policy continues to this day.

In August, as China’s stock market fell 40 percent since June, the People’s Bank of China did something similar when it made available hundreds of billions of dollars for Chinese banks to make loans. Now, as its economy continues to sputter, it’s in Beijing’s best interests for free lending in the United States to continue, because an increase in borrowing cost could have negative spillover around the world, including in China. 
“The United States isn’t at the point of raising interest rates … and under its global responsibilities it can’t raise rates,” Lou said. He added the United States “should assume global responsibilities” because the dollar is a global currency.

Update on Russian Airstrikes in Syria

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30 - October 12, 2015

Institute for the Study of War, October 12, 2015

Key Takeaway:

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continued to ramp up its aerial campaign in Syria, claiming to conduct 250 “combat sorties” from October 9-12. This spike in Russian military activity is a notable escalation compared to the 20 “combat sorties” flown on October 8. Most Russian airstrikes continued to concentrate in northwestern Hama province in support of a large-scale regime offensive in the area. In addition, Russian warplanes conducted numerous airstrikes in the western countryside of Aleppo against rebel and Jabhat al-Nusra positions. These airstrikes coincided with ISIS’s largest advance against rebels in northern Aleppo since August 2015, indicating that Russian airstrikes are not deterring ISIS from launching new offensives. Instead, rebels in Aleppo province are currently facing escalated threats from pro-regime airstrikes and ISIS simultaneously. The Russian MoD also claimed airstrikes in the vicinity of Kuweires Airbase east of Aleppo City, likely targeting ISIS, alongside Syrian regime operations near the airbase that led to the death of IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani on October 8. Kuweiris has been under siege by ISIS, such that providing relief to pro-regime ground forces there requires engaging ISIS directly. The Russian MoD also claimed airstrikes in ar-Raqqah, Homs, and Damascus, which would suggest additional strikes targeted a combination of ISIS and rebel positions; however, credible local reporting did not validate these claims.

The following graphic depicts ISW’s assessment of Russian airstrike and cruise missile strike locations based on reports from local Syrian activist networks, Syrian state-run media, and statements by Russian and Western officials.

High-Confidence reporting. ISW places high confidence in reports corroborated both by official government statements reported through credible channels and documentation from rebel factions or activist networks on the ground in Syria deemed to be credible.
Low-Confidence reporting. ISW places low confidence in secondary sources that have not been confirmed or sources deemed likely to contain disinformation.

Turkey is the Next Failed State in the Middle East


by David P. Goldman,  Asia Times Online,  October 10, 2015

From left to right: A Marxist terrorist holds hostage Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz (who died in the ensuing shootout) in March 2015; crowds protesting the government's failure to stop ISIS terror attacks are tear-gassed in October 2015; the June 8-14, 2013 cover of the Economist. 

We do not know just who detonated the two bombs that killed 95 Kurdish and allied activists in Ankara Saturday, but the least likely conjecture is that President Erdogan's government is guiltless in the matter. As Turkish member of parliament Lutfu Turkkan tweeted after the bombing, the attack "was either a failure by the intelligence service, or it was done by the intelligence service."

Betrayed by both the United States and Russia, and faced with the emergence of a Kurdish state on its borders and the rise of Kurdish parties in the parliamentary opposition, Erdogan is cornered. At risk in the short-term is the ability of his AKP party to govern after the upcoming November elections. At risk in the medium term is the cohesion of the Turkish state itself.
In public, Western leaders have hailed Turkey as "a great Islamic democracy," as President Obama characterized it in a 2010 interview. That was the view of the George W. Bush administration before Obama, which invited Erdogan to the White House before his selection as prime minister in 2003.
Erdogan's ability to govern, and cohesion of the Turkish state itself, is at risk. 

A minority of military and intelligence analysts, though, has warned that Turkey may not be viable within its present borders in the medium term. The trouble is that its Kurdish minority, now at 20% of the overall population, has twice as many children as ethnic Turks, so many that half of Turkey's military-age population will speak Kurdish as a first language in fewer than twenty years.

ISIS Against Humanity


The Islamic State has made enemies of most of the world. So how is it still winning?

A fighter with the Kurdish People's Protection Units fires an anti-aircraft weapon at ISIS forces in Syria.Roti Said / Reuters

OCT 12, 2015
Nearly two millennia ago, the Romans built the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, Syria. According to Picturesque Palestine, Sinai, and Egypt, published in 1881, “The wonder in these ancient ruins is not that so much has fallen, but that anything remains.” Last week, ISIS blew the Arch of Triumph, which the group considers idolatrous, to pieces. Such acts of aggression and barbarism have mobilized a vast enemy coalition, which includes almost every regional power and virtually every great power (and notably the United States, often compared to the Roman Empire in its hegemonic strength). Yet, incredibly, this alliance seems incapable of rolling back the Islamic State. How can a group of insurgents declare war on humanity—and win?

One of the basic principles of military strategy is that the attacker needs preponderant force to win. “It is the rule in war,” wrote Sun Tzu in The Art of War, “if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.”

ISIS has thrown this rulebook out the window by declaring war on one adversary after another—and then striking them with inferior numbers of troops.

In 2011, ISIS (then under the name of the Islamic State of Iraq) intervened in the Syrian Civil War and attacked the regime in Damascus, along with its allies (Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah) as well as moderate and Islamist Syrian opposition forces. In 2014, with the outcome of the Syrian conflict still in the balance, ISIS launched a major offensive into Iraq, thereby massively expanding the opposing coalition to include Iraq, Iranian-trained militias, the United States, Britain, and France. Unperturbed, ISIS then struck Kurdistan, and the ranks of its enemies swelled further.

Taliban and al Qaeda were creations of the United States, what about ISIS?


By Ashish Chandra Published: October 12, 2015

An Islamic State group fighter brandishes an ISIS flag and a gun on a street in Mosul, Iraq, June 23, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

After chasing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) out of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown just about 100 miles from Baghdad, ISIS was supposed to be on its way out. The Iraqi forces held their own, as their prime minister famously claimed having won the ‘psychological battle’ against the jihadist group.

But if events over the past few weeks have indicated something, it is that the ISIS is no ordinary foe. For its sheer, brutal efficiency and an unnerving desire for the creation of the caliphate, it is scarier and more strategically organised than any terrorist group that has ever come before it. It has been recruiting people from all over the world, and the lightening quick speed with which it has established its stronghold over the ever-expanding region of Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq, goes on to show that the problem in the Middle East is here to stay.

Merely weeks after losing Tikrit, the ISIS has been able to take over Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar region of upper Iraq. This comes as a massive victory for the group, as they now effectively control both the Tigris and Euphrates, and also the roads that link central Iraq with central Syria. Control of water is critical in deciding the fate of this war, and ISIS now holds a major strategic edge as it can stall everyday life in Iraq at any time it wishes to do so.

Counterterrorism Communications


Rashad Hussain, Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications 
New York, NY, September 30, 2015

MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center. We’re honored today to welcome Special Envoy Rashad Hussain to speak with us today on the Administration and State Department’s CVE efforts. You may remember him from the youth conference a couple days ago, where he gave very interesting remarks.

MR HUSSAIN: Well, thank you so much. It’s great to be with all of you this afternoon. Before we begin I just wanted to highlight at the top the announcements that were made yesterday by the Government of Malaysia and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. The Government of Malaysia announced at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Countering Violent Extremism that they are working on establishing a regional digital messaging center, and we welcome that announcement. And the Organization for Islamic Cooperation similarly announced that they are establishing such a center as well. You may know about the Sawab Center that was established in the UAE, and these are concrete examples of some of the efforts that are being made in the digital realm to counter the ideology and the propaganda that’s being put out by ISIL and other terrorist groups.

For our discussion today, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the CVE challenge that we’re facing, what we’re doing at the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism and Communications to address it, and then talk to you a little bit about some of our initiatives that we’re involved in this week here in New York.

The challenge that we’re facing, including in the online space, is that terrorist groups are exploiting grievances that oftentimes resonate with audiences around the world, and they’re using a warped ideology, particularly a warped interpretation of Islam to recruit disaffected youth by offering them a false sense of purpose, belonging, and religious obligation.

The psychology of nuclear restraint

10/12/2015  Jacques E. C. Hymans

Hymans is Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California and author of...More
In August 1945, the United States dropped two bombs that changed the image of war. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not more destructive than the March 1945 air raids on Tokyo. In Tokyo as well, the loss of life and property was prodigious. But still, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were different. The most important difference was the fact that so few bombs had done so much damage. Hiroshima and Nagasaki thus opened up a new era in humankind’s destructive potential. It was now feasible for just a few individuals, in a few minutes, to commit genocide.

The “orthodox interpretation” among historians is that the United States chose to drop the bombs because it wanted to avoid having to invade the main Japanese islands, which inevitably would have killed thousands of American GIs and an even greater number of Japanese. The contrasting “revisionist interpretation” is that the United States knew that Japan was ready to give up but dropped the bombs anyway, as a stern message to the Soviet Union. Then there is the “compromise interpretation” that the Truman administration was primarily motivated by the goal of winning the war with Japan, but also considered such a display of force as useful for advancing American interests against the Soviets.

In a brilliant book, Five Days in August, Princeton historian Michael Gordin shows that all of these interpretations are guilty of presentism: the tendency to interpret past actions on the basis of current opinions. Gordin asks, did the United States really believe before the event that the bombs were the silver bullets, the war-winning weapons that it came to believe they were after the event? His answer is no.

Gordin demonstrates that practically no one in the US political and military elite believed that dropping one or two of these new bombs would quickly end the war. The bombs were viewed as an incremental improvement over existing weapons, not as a trump card that could overturn the existing strategic situation. There is no evidence that the US military believed it was facing a choice of irradiating Hiroshima and Nagasaki or invading the Japanese home islands. Instead, the atomic bombings were seen as just one more way to soften up Japan for the inevitable invasion. The military therefore continued to launch massive conventional airstrikes even as it launched nuclear ones, and it continued to plan furiously for the ground war to come. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also produced no uptick in the military’s planning for postwar demobilization. These historical facts greatly undermine the standard portrayal of the Truman administration’s decision to drop the bomb as a means of winning the war quickly. I should note that unlike the military and political elites, atomic scientists such as Niels Bohr demonstrated considerably more awareness of the bomb as a qualitative transformation in war. But the scientists were not in command. The people at the apex of the American war effort did not treat the question of “to use or not to use” the bomb as the momentous decision that most historians have assumed they did. 

Poverty in the World and in India


This work looks at how to measure poverty, with a particular focus on the poverty counts in the world, particularly the number of people living on less than a dollar (or two dollars) a day. The world poverty counts are constructed by the World Bank, and there are many issues concerning what they mean, whether they are reliable, and whether they might be improved. There has also been recent debate about why there has been so much growth in the world, and so little poverty reduction. The answer to this puzzle lies in deep contradictions between the data sources used to measure growth and those used to measure poverty.
Indian poverty is measured using a series of household surveys, run by India's National Sample Survey (NSS). The results of these surveys have been subject to intense debate in recent years. There are also significant questions about the appropriateness of the poverty lines used by the Government of India. Finally, the Indian consumer price indexes used in the poverty calculations have also been questioned. A series of papers addresses these issues.

More Information:

Interview with Angus Deaton about poverty in India on NDTV (New Delhi TV) program "BIG FISH" June 22, 2005. Dial- up users version or broadband users version. (This clip is approximately 30 minutes long.)

Papers on Poverty in the World and in India
The following is a list of recent papers and publications regarding Poverty in India and the World. Here's access to a full list of Angus Deaton's working papers and publications.

Price Trends in India and Their Implications for Measuring Poverty - February 2008, Economic and Political Weekly

Measuring Poverty - July 2004

A generally accessible non-technical account of how poverty is measured

Health in an Age of Globalization - Brookings Trade Forum, April 2004 - Revised 7/04

The Review of Economics and Statistics, February 2005, 87(1), pp. 1- 19

Note: A discussion of this paper, "More or less equal?", appears in The Economist, Print Edition,

March 11, 2004.

Journal of Human Development, November 2003, v. 4, iss. 3, pp. 353-378

Is World Poverty Falling?

Finance and Development: A Quarterly Magazine of the IMF, June 2002, v. 39, iss. 2

Note: An accompanying interview with Angus Deaton regarding policy issues appears in the IMF Survey

Economic and Political Weekly, September 7, 2002, pp. 3729-3748

Economic and Political Weekly, January 25, 2003, pp. 362-368

Economic and Political Weekly, January 25, 2003, pp. 322–326

World Bank Research Observer, Fall 2001, v. 16, iss. 2, pp. 125-147

Prices and Poverty in India (with Alessandro Tarozzi) - Revised 7/00