6 December 2015

Bill Gates sceptical of solar, wind power


Published: December 4, 2015 2
Suhasini Haidar, Vidya Krishnan
PTI“I can’t comment on climate justice. I don’t know what the definition of that is,” says former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.
Says unless clean energy is made cheaper, countries like India will be in an ‘impossible’ situation.

Lauding India for doubling its funding for research and development of climate change technology, the former Microsoft CEO and co-founder of the world’s biggest charitable foundation, Bill Gates, says technological innovation is the only way to fight climate change. “If we are going to make the cost of clean energy as inexpensive as hydrocarbons, or coal energy today, which will need innovations. That will mean you won’t have to think about this huge trade-off between ‘Should I be clean’ or ‘Should I electrify’?” he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview.

Mr. Gates was in Paris for the COP21 summit, where he launched a multi-billion dollar 20-nation ‘Breakthrough Energy Coalition,’ and has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi twice this week, both in Paris and in Delhi on Friday.
Backing India’s stand on ‘climate justice’ or the need for the developing world to be financed for cutting emissions, Mr. Gates said that unless clean energy was made cheaper, it put countries like India in an “impossible” situation. “I can’t comment on climate justice, I don’t know what the definition of that is. I think while the premium cost of clean energy is very high, you force an almost impossible trade-off between two very important goals. My belief is that if you increase the R&D that will lower the price of energy,” he said.
However, Mr. Gates indicated that solar and wind energy, which forms the bulk of India’s clean energy mix, may not be the most viable sources of electricity in future. In its latest plans, the government has announced it will raise its renewable energy production from the current 38 Gigawatts to 175 Gigawatts by 2022, 100 GWs of which would come from solar energy alone.

** Don’t Make San Bernardino a Victory for ISIS



Washington — I am an American Muslim. I have spent my adult life teaching and advising senior military leaders in the fight against terror. On Wednesday night, as I watched representatives of the American Muslim community in San Bernardino, Calif., denounce the shooters who had just killed 14 people in their city, I recognized in their bearing and words their feelings of humiliation, horror and loyalty to the United States — alongside a great fear that a new round of Islamophobia will now follow.
I know from my own experience that more Islamophobia would be the worst outcome for American efforts to defeat the Islamic State.

As a naval officer I’ve taken an oath to defend the American Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I’ve trained members of the Navy SEAL teams, and my mentors include the former head of the National Rifle Association, the supreme allied commander of NATO, and the commanding general of the war in Afghanistan.
I have been deeply troubled by the anti-Muslim vitriol in our country since Islamist fanatics wreaked havoc in Paris. Fearmongers have already called for registering Muslims and closing mosques. The F.B.I. has warned Muslims about possible attacks from white supremacist militias.

If we don’t want to play into the hands of Islamic State propaganda that America is at war with Islam, we must stand up against Islamophobia. We should separate the few extremists from the vast majority of law-abiding patriotic American Muslims by working with the moderates, not against them.
The Islamic State has little to no support in most Muslim-majority countries, according to a Pew Research Center poll after the Paris attacks. Instead, with more than 60 countries aligned against it, the Islamic State is banking on Western societies to alienate their Muslim populations to increase recruitment.

Pakistan Catch-22 The Trouble With Wars in Landlocked Countries


Sunrise at Transit Center Manas, Kyrgyzstan

Lemar Farhad recently wrote on the relationship of the Pakistani government and the Taliban in “Why Peace with the Taliban Is a Bad Idea”. In it he highlighted specific reasons why Pakistan has been aiding the Taliban against the current U.S. and NATO backed government in Afghanistan. This duplicitous stance by the Pakistan government, which is also our ally in the Global War on Terror, makes the goal of actually defeating the Taliban likely unattainable.

“U.S. policy in particular should be geared at rendering Islamabad either incapable of aiding the Taliban or unwilling to do so.”

While I agree with Farhad’s proposed fix for drying up the support given by Pakistan, the second and third order effects could also cripple our efforts in Afghanistan. His position states that “U.S. policy in particular should be geared at rendering Islamabad either incapable of aiding the Taliban or unwilling to do so. Declaring the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization is the first step. After all, an insurgent force without protected safe-havens, financial institutions, resources, materiel, logistics capabilities, and a host-state will be unable to survive for long.” Such a position would certainly end access to both air and ground routes across the country into Afghanistan.

Since the retrograde of combat forces from Afghanistan in 2013–2014, our footprint in the region has steadily decreased by our own choice and evictions by host nations. This draw-down actually makes Farhad’s suggested course of action more feasible than any time since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). As a landlocked country bordered on the east and west by China and Iran, to the south Pakistan and to the north several former Soviet Bloc states; Afghanistan presents a unique challenge for conducting a war, especially with the current status of U.S. relations with several neighboring countries. 

Map of U.S. Military Bases supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001

The Roots of the Taliban


In a recent article for The Bridge, it was proposed that negotiating with the Taliban is not only morally reprehensible but also a fool’s errand as the movement is a proxy force of Pakistan. So long as Pakistan supports the Taliban, it was argued, a conclusion to the War in Afghanistan will remain elusive; the Taliban will be militarily neutralized only when Pakistan removes its support.

It’s hard to deny that Pakistan plays a substantial role in aiding the Taliban. Through its porous border with Afghanistan, Taliban fighters find sanctuary in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, while accusations that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) aids the Taliban are hardly new. This being said, the article places too strong an emphasis on how forcing Pakistan to end its support for the Taliban will resolve the conflict.
The general impression the article gives of the Taliban is that they are an artificial entity created and controlled by Pakistan, just as the rebels in Eastern Ukraine were created and are controlled by Russia. Such a position ignores the support the Taliban enjoys across various areas of Afghan society through tapping into Afghan culture, as well as the desire of Afghanistan’s population to achieve some degree of security and normality.
Religion and Pashtunwali

Like most of the Pashtuns who make up the bulk of the Taliban, Talibs are followers of Deobandi Islam. This reactionary branch of Sunni Islam was founded in India during the Raj out of fear that British rule was corrupting Islam.[1] With their religious schools (madrassas) being funded in-part by Saudi backers, the attending Talibs of mid- to late-twentieth century Afghanistan and Pakistan were taught an already conservative religion infused with ultra-conservative Wahhabism.[2]



The crocodile-infested shores of Darwin, Australia will soon be welcoming a new, long-term guest: the Chinese. The Northern Territory government signed a 99-year lease valued at US$506 million that will turn the daily operations of Darwin Port over to China’s Landbridge Group. The deal gives the Chinese firm 100-percent operational control of the port and 80-percent ownership of Darwin Port land, facilities of East Arm wharf (to include a marine supply base), and Fort Hill wharf. While Landbridge spends the next five years searching for an Australian partner company to hold the remaining 20 percent, the Northern Territory government will retain local ownership in the interim. The Chinese firm has further pledged to spend $35 million in the first five years to expand the port, and $200 million over the next 25 years.

Given an annual revenue barely in excess of $5 million from the Landbridge project, the Australians have made a risky decision with prospects of only minimal fiscal returns. As home to a rotational force of some 2,000 U.S. Marines (MRF-D), a military component of the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia, Australia is betting Chinese access to the Darwin Port will not strategically endanger the presence and training of Australian Defense Force (ADF) units and their American counterparts. The cost-benefit calculations of welcoming Chinese investment just a few miles from U.S. and ADF forces simply do not add up: Greater risks to national security emerge amid limited economic benefits for the Northern Territory. Speculation about whether Darwin will ultimately transition from a Chinese-managed commercial port to a clandestine hub for Chinese espionage of Australian and U.S. forces, or even more seriously, an impediment to the U.S.–Australian security relationship in use as a Chinese naval logistics facility merit closer examination, given implications for Australian and American security and defense ties.

Experts on both sides of the Pacific have correctly noted the risks of the port transaction, a mistake that opens the continent to longer-term vulnerabilities at the hands of Chinese businesses and government-affiliated actors. Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, wrote for The Australian that the deal “threatens to undermine Australia’s relations with its closest security partner, the U.S., at a time when [Washington] is finally beginning to put serious effort behind its ‘pivot’ [to the region].” Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage expressed his own surprise that the Australian defense ministry agreed to the Landbridge deal, noting that Darwin is a natural “jumping off place” for ongoing U.S.–Australia exercises. Others point to questionable linkages between Landbridge CEO Ye Cheng and the Chinese Communist Party, given his membership in the People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory political body to the CPP dominated by Chinese businessmen. Analysts at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute have also identified close linkages between Landbridge and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Not only did the company form a military affairs office(wuzhuangbu, translated by some as “militia”) in August 2014, but former PLA officers populate key positionssurrounding the CEO.

What Does ‘Defeating ISIS’ Actually Look Like?


How many members of ISIS must be killed before victory can be declared and the mission accomplished?
Albert B. Wolf,  December 3, 2015 

If we defeated the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), would we know victory when we saw it? We often talk about winning and losing without having any idea what these terms mean. As a new coalition of the willing gestates in the wake of Paris, before we speak of sacrifices to be made, we first need to ask what we want to achieve vis-à-vis the Islamic State. Each definition of victory carries separate sets of commitments and sacrifices. However, from brute force to outright surrender, the best way to defeat ISIS is to implode it.

Our definitions of “wins” and “losses” have a chameleon-like tendency to change. After 9/11, our definition of victory changed from removing the Taliban from power and eliminating Al Qaeda’s leadership to building a centralized, democratic Afghanistan. Now, victory means allowing the U.S. to save enough face to stave off a total Taliban victory while holding off new gains from ISIS throughout. Our ability to jump from one lily pad’s definition of triumph to another is a recipe for morass.
One renowned scholar identifies six ways terrorist organizations end: leadership decapitation, incorporating the organization into a peaceful political transition, allowing the terrorist group to succeed, changes in the group’s tactics, crushing the group through brute force, and fostering the enemy’s implosion through undermining its popular support.

Leadership decapitation is most effective when it is difficult for an organization to replace a leader once he’s been assassinated. This is a popular option, but has not met with much success, as evidenced by Israel’s targeting of the leadership of Hamas. Furthermore, ISIS has already formulated succession procedures should Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi be assassinated.

Beyond Paris: Still No Clear Strategy For Dealing with ISIL, Syria


By ANTHONY H. CORDESMAN on December 02, 2015 

It is time to look beyond the tragedy of Paris and the immediate threat of terrorism, and take a hard look at the lack of any meaningful public strategy for the broader fight in Iraq and Syria, and any meaningful measures of progress and effectiveness.
So far, President Obama and the administration have implied that there has been far more progress in defeating ISIL than has occurred, and have only addressed the broadest trends in the current fight against ISIL. They have not provided a clear picture of the real world lack of progress in creating effective local forces on the ground, of how effective coalition airpower has been and could be in the future, or of the massive problems the United States had encountered by relying on Iraqi government and Arab rebel forces.

The president has not indicated how and when a liberation of ISIL-occupied areas could actually take place, or give any hint as to how the United States planned to ensure successful recovery and reintegration of these areas in Iraq and Syria.
More broadly, the President has only addressed something like a third of the full range of issues a truly workable U.S. strategy must address. He has not addressed broader sectarian and ethnic divisions in Syria and Iraq that have led to civil war or near civil war – Sunni versus Shi’ite/Alawite and Arab versus Kurd. He did not address the fact it was their status as failed states in terms of politics, governance, economics, and dealing with population pressures that created the situation ISIL exploited.

More broadly, the President and the Administration have not seriously addressed:
  • The problems in bringing some form of stability or security to either Iraq or Syria —much less both. 
  • The role of the Hezbollah or Iran, problems with Turkey, the different goals of Arab states, or the tensions between Arab and Kurd. 
  • The problems raised in rebuilding a Syria with more than half its population as refugees or internally displaced persons. 
  • How to resolve the fact that the main war in Syria is between the Assad forces and Arab rebels and not with ISIL. 
  • The fact many Syrian Arab rebels are part of other Islamist extremist forces like the Al Nusra Front. 
  • The deep divisions in Iraq, its weak governance, the growing role of Iran. 
  • The problems created by Shi’ite militias. 
  • The fact the expansion of Kurdish controlled areas leaves a legacy of future tension or conflict with the Arabs. 
  • The problems raised by the limits to Iraq’s oil wealth and its inability to properly support its people or develop its economy. 
  • Iraq’s need to make major changes in its security forces, governance, economic, and politics to achieve security and stability. 

ISIS: Oil As A Strategic Weapon

posted on 03 December 2015

I have to admit that I am a news junkie. So my TV was glued to CNN on the day of the Paris terrorist attack. During its coverage, one of the CNN commentators mentioned that ISIS makes about $2 million a day in oil revenue. That piqued my curiosity and decided to find out more about ISIS oil operation.
According to FT, ISIS oil strategy has been long in the making since the group emerged in Syria in 2013. The group saw oil as a funding source for their vision of an Islamic state, and identified it as fundamental to finance their ambition to create a caliphate. ISIS controls most of Syria's oil fields where it created a foothold in 2013. Crude is the militant group's biggest single source of revenue.

ISIS has derived its financial strength from being the monopoly oil producer in a huge captive market in Syria and Iraq. Despite a US-led international coalition to fight ISIS, FT describes a "minutely managed" sprawling ISIS operation akin to a national oil company in just two years with an estimated crude production of 34,000-40,000 barrels per day (bpd).

$1.5 million a Day to Fund The Terrorist Group

The group sells most of its crude directly to independent traders at the wellhead for $20-$45 a barrel earning the group an average of $1.5 million a day. Without being able to export, ISIS brought hundreds of trucks and started to extract the oil and transport it. According to an FT interview of a local sheikh, an average of 150 trucks is filled daily with about $10,000 worth of oil per truck. Most traders can expect to make a profit of at least $10 per barrel.

Son of Turkey's President Is In on ISIS Oil?

The arbitrage had the potential to go a lot more than $10 a barrel when oil prices were high. Russia has accused Turkey of buying ISIS oil (allegedly the son of Turkey's President is involved, and also allegedly the U.S. is aware of it), reselling it to Japan and Israel for huge profits. Smugglers have been using boats, pumps, carrying on foot, by donkey or horse. Some see the oil production from ISIS as a contributing factor to the global oil glut pushing down oil prices.

Jihadism As Nihilism, An X-Ray Of Homegrown Terror In France


This is part of our series: Terror in France. Click here to read more. 
Olivier Roy (2015-12-03) 
French shadows 
France is at war! Perhaps. But at war against whom, or what? The Islamic State (ISIS) isn’t sending Syrians to commit attacks in France in order to dissuade the French government from bombing it. ISIS instead is tapping into a pool of young radicalized French who, whatever happens in the Middle East, are already rebelling and in search of a cause, a label, a great narrative where to leave their signature in the blood of their personal revolt. Crushing ISIS won’t change anything about this uprising.

These youths rallying around ISIS are opportunistic: They were with al-Qaeda yesterday; before that, in 1995, they were acting as subcontractors for the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, or practicing a kind of nomadic and individualistic jihad from Bosnia to Afghanistan to Chechnya. Tomorrow, they’ll fight under another banner until death, age or disillusion empty their ranks.
There is no third or fourth, or umpteenth, generation of jihadists. Since 1996, we’ve been faced with a very clear and stable phenomenon: the radicalization of two categories of young French — Muslim second-generation immigrants and converts whose lineage can go way back in France.

The crucial problem for France is therefore not the “caliphate” in the Syrian desert, which will vanish sooner or later like an old mirage turned nightmare. The real problem is these youths in revolt. And the real question therefore is to know what these youths represent, and whether they are the vanguard of a coming war or rather the soon-to-be-forgotten losers of a passing rumbling in History.



The horrific attacks in Paris on November 13 have increased calls for the United States to take a greater role in Syria. This is not the first time that the question of American involvement in Syria has arisen. Almost a century ago, in the midst of another Syrian crisis, the United States faced pressure to intervene, but managed to resist. Whether it chooses to intervene this time could well become the main foreign policy question of the coming months.

The issue in 1919 revolved around what the American military representative to the Paris Peace Conference Gen. Tasker H. Bliss called “a grand triangular row” in Syria. In exchange for their help during the war against the Ottoman Empire, the British had promised Arabs led by Emir Faisal a large Arab state. In a letter to a friend, available today at the United States Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Bliss noted with a degree of sarcasm, that now that the World War was over, the Arabs “are so unkind as to insist on these promises being fulfilled.”
Standing in their way were French imperialists, who claimed that their ancient connections to Syria entitled them to a voice in the region’s future. Faisal, however, pledged to fight the French if they came to colonize Syria. He told William Westermann, Woodrow Wilson’s Middle Eastern advisor and a professor at Columbia University, that he “was now ready to let the blood run out of his body” rather than turn Syria over to France. The British played a dual game, trying both to limit the size of French claims and to use those same claims to justify their own interventions into Mesopotamia, Palestine, Jordan, and elsewhere.

Faisal and his English advisor, T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) wanted the United States to shield Syria from European imperialism by declaring Syria an American protectorate. From there, Faisal envisioned the creation of a grand confederation of Arab states on the American model. If the Americans would agree, Faisal promised, the Middle East would emerge as a stable region and there would be statues of American leaders in every city in the region. Westermann, the Columbia professor advising Wilson, was taken by the idea. “Voila! Great is Lawrence and great is Faisal. I am a convert,” he wrote.

It’s not the poverty in the Middle East that’s driving terrorism—it’s the politics


Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose data on worsening inequality in advanced economies has captivated the public, makes a compelling—if not original—argument that economic disparities in the Middle East are a key motivation for terror attacks, including the recent ISIL murders in Paris.
“It is obvious that terrorism feeds on the Middle Eastern powder keg of inequality we have largely contributed to create,” Piketty wrote in Le Monde on Nov. 24, building on his research into inequality in the region.

His thinking wouldn’t be out of line with what then-US president George W. Bush told the United Nations in 2002, that “we fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror.”
Such a conclusion affirms a basic intuition we have about people who would perform abhorrent suicide missions in the name of a cause—that they must be desperate—and our hope that throwing money at this problem can solve it.

But empirical studies suggest that poverty and inequality aren’t behind terror attacks. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Alan Krueger, the Princeton economist and future Obama administration official,examined databases of terror attacks to identify trends among the participants. Surprisingly, he found most were well-educated and not poor.

A quick summary:

Studies of lynchings in the United States from 1882 to 1938 show no correlation between economic conditions and where these crimes occurred; contemporary studies of hate crimes in the United States and Germany show no correlation between violence against minorities and economic conditions
A study of Hezbollah fighters in the 1980s and 1990s found that they were likely to be wealthier and better educated than the general Shi’a population of Lebanon at the time.
An analysis of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank between 1987 and 2002 found that the poverty rate among suicide bombers was half that of the general population (15% versus 30%) and they were far more educated than average. A study of Israeli terrorists active in the 1970s and ’80s found that they, too, were wealthier and better educated than their peers.

Islamic State's US Recruits So Diverse They 'Defy Analysis'

William Gallo, Voice of America

Their average age is 26. Eighty-six percent are male. Most use Twitter and other social media to find and spread propaganda. But other than that, there are frustratingly few traits in common among individuals in the United States who support the Islamic State group, according to a new study.
The report, titled "ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa," is an attempt by the George Washington University's Program on Extremism to provide a snapshot of the "small but active" group of Americans and other U.S.-based individuals who are infatuated with the Sunni Muslim extremist group.

But after spending six months going over court records, social media posts, and U.S. officials' statements, the authors struggled to identify a typical profile for an American IS supporter. Instead, they found the group to be "incredibly heterogeneous" and motivated by a wide range of factors.
"The profiles of individuals involved in ISIS-related activities in the U.S. differ widely in race, age, social class, education, and family background," said the report, authored by Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes. "Their motivations are equally diverse and defy easy analysis."

Demographic Makeup

Since March 2014, 71 individuals in the U.S. have been charged with IS-related activities in 21 states.
​In total, there are 900 active investigations into IS sympathizers – some in every state, the report found. Some of those arrested were as young as 15, others were nearly 50.
And although the overwhelming majority were male, the authors found that more and more women are becoming attracted to the group. Females, for instance, make up nearly one-third of the 300 U.S.-linked social media accounts actively spreading IS propaganda, the report said.

ISIL is really a revolt by young Muslims against their parents’ generation

WRITTEN BYEmma-Kate Symons
December 03, 2015

In the search for answers after the Paris terror attacks, French public intellectuals are responding to the question on everybody’s lips: Why did these people, our young people “made in France” (and Belgium) do it?
But as the battle of ideas rages between economists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, psychiatrists and scholars of religion, the voice of Olivier Roy stands out among the crowd.

The world-renowned specialist of Islam and the geo-politics of the Middle East has developed a “third way” of understanding the new globalized jihadism. He believes the underlying cause is a deep generational fracture that has sparked an international jihadi movement from France to Tunisia, and Turkey to Saudi Arabia.
Young men in their 20s and 30s committing mass murder and suicide in the name of Allah, the political scientist argues, are extreme manifestations of a “generational nihilistic radicalized youth revolt” that is “more about the Islamization of radicalism than the radicalization of Islam.”

The Roy doctrine is shifting the debate beyond the familiar face-offs between the “blamers” pointing the finger at colonization, French and Western foreign policy, exclusion and racism, versus the “culturalists” convinced there is a clash of civilizations and religions between Europe and the Muslim world. In the former group, French economist Thomas Piketty sees inequality in the Middle East and Europe as the key driver of terrorism. In the latter, French philosopher Abdennour Bidar has diagnosed a “cancer” at the heart of Islam.
Roy’s argument has profound implications for how Europe should respond to its homegrown terrorist threat, especially as France rushes to shut down extremist mosques, arrest Salafist Imams, and launches “deradicalization” programs.

After the Paris Attacks, a European Anti-ISIS Coalition Comes Together


By Simond de Galbert,  DEC 2, 2015 

Quickly after the November 13 Paris attacks, France’s President François Hollande invoked the European Union’s mutual defense clause and asked its European partners for solidarity. He embarked on a diplomatic offensive to strengthen Europe’s contribution to the existing U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Beyond his trips to Washington and Moscow, President Hollande met with many of his European counterparts to seek greater contributions to the coalition but also to relieve French military forces in ongoing counterterrorism military efforts in Mali, Central African Republic (CAR) and Sahel.

Europe’s response to Hollande’s call for assistance remains fairly incomplete, but the UK and Germany have significantly altered their posture, suggesting that the so-called EU-3 (France, UK and Germany) have risen to this tragic occasion.

Q1: How significant is today’s UK decision to commence airstrikes in Syria against ISIS?

A1: The House of Commons today authorized – by a large majority of 397 votes to 223 – UK military forces to conduct airstrikes in Syria. This is a strong message that the UK is willing to reposition itself as a strong security contributor in Europe and within the transatlantic alliance. This decision must also be read in conjunction with last week’s release of its Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) which secured $269 billion of investment in defense equipment over the next decade and ensured that UK defense spending would remain above the line of 2 percent of UK GDP.

The House of Commons vote also takes place nearly two years after UK MPs refused to authorize the use of force in Syria against the Assad regime after its use of chemical weapons against its own people in August 2013 – by 285 votes to 272. At the time, Prime Minister Cameron’s political miscalculation was a factor in President Obama’s decision not to militarily strike Syria which left President Hollande, who supported airstrikes, alone. The UK joined the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in September 2014 but limited itself to airstrikes in Iraq only – while contributing to surveillance and target-acquisition roles in Syria. Until the Paris attacks, the UK’s contribution to the anti-ISIS military campaign was comparable to the French one (270 strikes as of November 5 for France, 344 for the UK) but France has intensified its airstrikes and is now making a more significant contribution militarily. Today’s vote is therefore a strong political signal of solidarity sent to France and had the added benefit for Mr. Cameron of weakening a divided Labour party whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, opposes the military campaign in Syria.

Russia Pours Hot Oil on Wounded Ties With Turkey


A week after Turkey shot down a Russian jet, Moscow struck back with sharp allegations that Ankara is underwriting the Islamic State’s illicit oil business. What once seemed a beautiful friendship is now increasingly vicious.


Relations between Moscow and Ankara are only getting uglier, a week after Turkey shot down a Russian jet that crossed into its airspace. On Wednesday, a day after announcing a fresh round of economic sanctions on Turkey, Russian defense officials presented what they say is evidence of Turkish collusion with the Islamic State in large-scale smuggling of Syrian oil.
“There is a single team at work in the region, composed of extremists and the Turkish elites, conspiring to steal oil from their neighbors,” said Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov at a briefing in Moscow. “The appalling part about it is that the country’s top political leadership is involved in the illegal business — President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and his family,” he also said.

Erdogan shot back at Russian accusations, saying that “nobody has the right to slander Turkey” by claiming it buys oil from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. While Erdogan this week reiterated that he wants to tone down tensions with Russia, he also has rejected Moscow’s demands for a formal apology for the incident that cost one Russian pilot his life.
Russia’s fiery allegations came just a day after Moscow published the economic sanctions it will slap on Turkey in retaliation for the shootdown. They include bans on importing certain Turkish agricultural products, an end to commercial flights between the two countries, and a freeze on student and tourism exchanges.

“Putin’s regime, with Ukraine and now Syria, has greatly revamped Russian nationalism,” said Morena Skalamera, an expert on Russian energy geopolitics at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Gestures such as the sanctions, the oil allegations, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s refusal to meet with Erdogan in Paris this week “show Russia can snub a big country like Turkey because Russia, of course, is even greater.”
Despite the heated rhetoric, she said, Moscow’s retaliation so far does not affect the biggest pieces of bilateral trade between the two countries — natural gas sales. It also, for now, doesn’t seem to threaten the future of other multibillion-dollar projects, including a gas pipeline and a nuclear power plant. Russian government officials said there are currently no plans to interfere with the already beleaguered Turkish Stream gas pipeline that would run from Russia, across the Black Sea, and into Turkey.




Of Turkey’s near-dozen neighbors, there is just one that Ankara really fears: Russia. This is rooted in history stretching back to the Ottoman Empire. At some point in the past, the Ottoman Turks ruled over or defeated all of modern Turkey’s neighbors from Greece to Syria.

The exception is Russia.

Between the 15th century, when the Ottoman and Russian empires became neighbors, and 1917, the year of the Bolshevik revolution, the Turks and Russians fought at least 17 wars. Russia instigated every single one, and the Turks subsequently lost all of them. With good reason, across the ages Turkish elites have harbored a deeply ingrained fear of Moscow.

In fact, Russian military prowess has often acted as a catalyst in the formation of Ottoman and Turkish policy. As my colleague Akin Unver writes in his Foreign Affairs article, when Russians captured Crimea in 1783 — the first Muslim-majority territory the Turks lost to a Christian power — this triggered Turkish westernization. The Turks felt so humiliated by Russia that they decided to adopt European ways to counter it. That modernization eventually produced Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turkish Republic.

More recently, when Stalin demanded territory from Turkey (such as the Bosporus, in 1946), Ankara made a decision with far-reaching repercussions by opting to side with the United States in the Cold War. It appears that the fear of Russia can force the Turks to do whatever it takes to find cover against Moscow: In 1950, Turkey sent troops to faraway Korea to fight the Communists, proving its commitment to the United States. Washington rewarded Ankara for this move in 1952 with NATO membership.
Russo-phobia has acted as a key catalyst for Turkish political maneuvering for hundreds of years. That is why Ankara’s recent downing of a Russian jet, which only briefly violated Turkish airspace, makes more sense under scrutiny.

The Real Reason to Worry About Turkey and Russia The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.


“This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”
As soon as the news broke about Turkey shooting down a Russian fighter, my mind flashed to a scene in The Hunt for the Red October. I heard Fred Thompson’s character tell CIA-analyst Jack Ryan, “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”
Right now, it seems the situation is not quite so dire, but this is a scenario many defense policy analysts have been dreading since Russia entered the conflict in Syria— confusion in the skies, multiple belligerents bombing all sides in a multi-way civil war, NATO versus Russia, Russian-supplied SAMs fired at American-built aircraft (and vice versa). Then the Free Syrian Army’s First Coastal Division killed at least one of the Russian pilots on the ground and subsequently blew up a Russian helicopter with a US-supplied TOW — on film. It’s the stuff of Tom Clancy and Larry Bond…and not in a good way.

Upon further reflection, though, there is something underlying the whole thing that is even more troubling than these interactions, if that’s possible. That something is a single word being used to describe the rebels under attack by the downed Russian aircraft: Turkmen. By now, after years of hearing conflicts in the Middle East described in binary ethnic terms — Jews versus Palestinians, Arabs versus Jews, Arabs versus Kurds, and Persians versus all of these — it is difficult to doubt the importance of ethnic identity in the region. And while they are often ignored in discussions of Middle Eastern ethnic tension, Turkmen represent substantial minority populations in both Syria and Iraq. What’s more, during some of the darkest days of the Iraq War Turkey threatened to act as the guarantor of security for the ethnic Turkmen population there.

Yet Turkey claims the only reason they shot down the aircraft — which Russia still claims was in Syrian airspace, acting with the blessing of the UN-recognized Assad government — was its violation of Turkish airspace. No mention of ethnicity by the Turkish government thus far. One can’t help but wonder, though.

After the Paris Attacks, a European Anti-ISIS Coalition Comes Together

By Simond de Galbert, DEC 3, 2015 

Quickly after the November 13 Paris attacks, France’s President François Hollande invoked the European Union’s mutual defense clause and asked its European partners for solidarity. He embarked on a diplomatic offensive to strengthen Europe’s contribution to the existing U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Beyond his trips to Washington and Moscow, President Hollande met with many of his European counterparts to seek greater contributions to the coalition but also to relieve French military forces in ongoing counterterrorism military efforts in Mali, Central African Republic (CAR) and Sahel.
Europe’s response to Hollande’s call for assistance remains fairly incomplete, but the UK and Germany have significantly altered their posture, suggesting that the so-called EU-3 (France, UK and Germany) have risen to this tragic occasion.

Q1: How significant is today’s UK decision to commence airstrikes in Syria against ISIS?

A1: The House of Commons today authorized – by a large majority of 397 votes to 223 – UK military forces to conduct airstrikes in Syria. This is a strong message that the UK is willing to reposition itself as a strong security contributor in Europe and within the transatlantic alliance. This decision must also be read in conjunction with last week’s release of its Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) which secured $269 billion of investment in defense equipment over the next decade and ensured that UK defense spending would remain above the line of 2 percent of UK GDP.

The House of Commons vote also takes place nearly two years after UK MPs refused to authorize the use of force in Syria against the Assad regime after its use of chemical weapons against its own people in August 2013 – by 285 votes to 272. At the time, Prime Minister Cameron’s political miscalculation was a factor in President Obama’s decision not to militarily strike Syria which left President Hollande, who supported airstrikes, alone. The UK joined the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in September 2014 but limited itself to airstrikes in Iraq only – while contributing to surveillance and target-acquisition roles in Syria. Until the Paris attacks, the UK’s contribution to the anti-ISIS military campaign was comparable to the French one (270 strikes as of November 5 for France, 344 for the UK) but France has intensified its airstrikes and is now making a more significant contribution militarily. Today’s vote is therefore a strong political signal of solidarity sent to France and had the added benefit for Mr. Cameron of weakening a divided Labour party whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, opposes the military campaign in Syria.

After the Paris Attacks: The Open Society and Its Enemies


Europe has to choose. The murder of 129 people during six separate terrorist attacks in Parison November 13 is forcing governments across Europe to consider how to deal with the so-called Islamic State.
At stake is how to strike a balance between the open society and the defense of citizens. It will require steady nerves from all European governments not to bow to populist, Euroskeptic, and anti-Muslim movements that wish to batten down the hatches. This is precisely what the followers of the anti-Western Islamic State want.
It will also require a major rethink of Europe’s reliance on soft-power tools, which have little use without being underpinned by hard power.
France knows all about hard power. It joined the United States in bombing Islamic State sites in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State retaliated by taking its war against the West to the streets of Paris. French President François Hollande, who described the attacks as “an act of war,” did not hesitate on November 15 to order heavy air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria.

But other European Union countries, notably Germany, will shy away from joining the military coalition, even though they despise the Islamic State and everything it stands for. These countries fear the repercussions on their own citizens. But why should France bear the brunt?
Many European countries are not convinced that bombing is the solution. They see what the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the NATO missions in Afghanistan and Libya brought in their wake. There was no consideration for the day after the operations ended, just as there isn’t today.

France had also become heavily engaged in the Sahel in a bid to stop the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism from reaching the shores of Europe. Having garnered so little—if any—support from other EU countries, Paris is paying the price for that effort too.
And when Russia began its own cynical military campaign in Syria to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by targeting the opposition and not primarily Islamic State targets, the militant group brought down a Russian civilian airliner over Sinai on October 31. All 224 people on board were killed.



Posted on November 30, 2015   by Thomas P.M. Barnett

THE ECONOMIST RUNS A GREAT "BRIEFING" ON CYBER SECURITY in its 28 November issue, asking "how to balance security with privacy after the Paris attacks"? It starts off by noting that the US and UK intelligence services proactively vacuum up the largest amounts of data based on the structural advantages they enjoy - namely, America is home to many of the world's largest Internet firms and Britain sits astride some of the world's biggest undersea fiber-optic cables.

Neither condition is an accident of history, of course, and both should logically be exploited by the nations' respective security agencies, I would argue, trusting that judicial and legislative oversight mechanisms - along with a free press and whistle-blowers - will continue doing their jobs. Yes, bad actors will continue to seek out and/or construct no-go zones beyond our reach, and advancing encryption technologies will enable that, but that shouldn't push free societies into accepting such "Wild West" dynamics ad infinitum.
Privacy, as the Economist notes, isn't the same thing as anonymity. As consumers, we trade privacy for convenience all the time. As citizens, we trade anonymity for security. If you want a truly anonymous, libertarian paradise, try living in a failed state or ungoverned space. Me? The near-certainties that I enjoy on a day-to-day basis justify my transparency before both my private- and public-sector service providers. Heck, if we all want to achieve the "smart" this and that in the emerging Internet of Things, then submitting to such transparency is a given. Simply in terms of long-term environmental sustainability, privacy must and will be sacrificed to network control functions.

For now, the countering IT industry argument is that we need more and stronger encryption technologies throughout our economies, lest we endanger our critical infrastructure. Hard to argue with that. Latest surveys indicate that less than half of our private enterprises consistently apply an encryption strategy (nice Economist chart on that below) - a scary deficiency when you remember that the vast majority of our critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private firms, which collectively are far more targeted by cybercriminals than is the public sector (with energy & utilities and financial services topping the list of those suffering the highest annual losses - according to another great Economist chart below).

Cyber-security The terrorist in the data How to balance security with privacy after the Paris attacks

 Nov 28th 2015 | 

THE final text message from one of the Paris attackers was grim: On est parti on commence, “We’re off, we’re starting”. It was found on a mobile phone dumped in a bin near the Bataclan theatre, where gunmen killed 89 people at a rock concert on November 13th. The phone’s digital trail helped lead investigators to a flat in Paris that was raided by armed police on November 18th; the presumed mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and two others died there during a siege. The spoor of another phone linked an abandoned suicide-vest to Salah Abdeslam, a plotter who fled to Belgium and is now the most wanted man in Europe.

The vast stores of digital information generated by everyday lives—communications data, CCTV footage, credit-card records and much more—are yielding invaluable clues about the attack and are helping guide the hunt for the surviving plotters. Yet it is also painfully apparent that much information that could and should be known is not: France complains that no European country had warned it that Mr Abaaoud, who fled to Syria and was wanted by the Belgian police, had returned to France though he must have passed one or other European frontier (the tip-off eventually came from Morocco). At least two attackers slipped into Europe via Greece, posing as refugees. Yet police forces do not have routine access to the database of asylum-seekers’ fingerprints.

All of which raises troubling questions: should the digital clues have been picked up sooner; do Western intelligence agencies and police forces share information properly; do they need to collect even more data and have greater powers to search it; and should encryption that scrambles data be regulated? In other words, the Paris attacks are forcing Europe once again to weigh the proper balance between security and privacy.

Picking up the pieces

Attitudes to data privacy in the West vary markedly between countries, not least because the debate has been polarised by the revelations of Edward Snowden, a fugitive contractor for America’s signals-intelligence outfit, the National Security Agency (NSA). He disclosed large-scale spying by America on its friends and foes alike. Some see Mr Snowden, who now lives in Moscow, as a heroic whistle-blower; Western spooks are furious about the damage he has caused.

No Money, No Peace The United States made South Sudan’s leaders sign a peace deal — but they can’t make it work without cash.


Currently out of the headlines, South Sudan’s war, which began in December 2013, is a brutal competition for power between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar. This conflict in the world’s youngest state has left tens of thousands dead. In August, African mediators drafted a “Compromise Peace Agreement” to try to end the fighting. The U.S. role was to ratchet up pressure on the warring leaders to sign it. This was difficult enough — but maintaining smart pressure on those leaders for sufficient time to actually implement the deal will prove well-nigh impossible.

The United States’ support for peace in South Sudan offers a lesson in the shortcomings of the dominant American model for fixing countries in conflict: squeeze their leaders until they cry “uncle” and agree to pretend to be democrats. The problem with this is that the pretense cannot be upheld for long. Different, more complex tools are needed to consolidate a ceasefire and establish a workable power-sharing arrangement. To keep the peace, South Sudanese leaders need enough funds, and the discretion to use them, to grease the wheels of their patronage machines and buy a real peace that’s not just on paper. If the U.S. is to involve itself in fixing conflicts — and not just in South Sudan — it needs to recognize this disagreeable truth.

The Compromise Peace Agreement follows the standard template: power-sharing among belligerents; attempts to make security arrangements (a ceasefire and building a national military and security sector); division of national wealth; elections; and a truth, reconciliation, and justice process. It’s attractive on paper, but lacks the fundamental requirements of a working deal. There’s little goodwill, either between the leaders who signed the deal, or between them and the outside parties — their African neighbors and the United States — who imposed it. President Kiir was conspicuously reluctant, and felt insulted when his detailed reservations were unceremoniously discarded. Machar, too, has been visibly skeptical, dragging his feet on filling in the details of the security plan.

Winning the Airwaves: Sustaining America's Advantage in the Electromagnetic Spectrum

The comfort of a post–Cold War advantage has left America lagging.
Bryan ClarkMark Gunzinger, December 4, 2015 

The electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) is one of the most critical domains in modern warfare. While militaries have long used it to communicate, keep track of friendly forces and find and target enemies, emerging technological advances now promise to dramatically change how they will use the EMS in the future. In the same way that smartphones and the Internet are redefining how the world shares, shops, learns and works, new sensors and networking technologies will enable militaries to gain significant new advantages over competitors that fail to keep pace.

Unfortunately, “failed to keep pace” is an appropriate description of the Pentagon’s investments in EMS warfare capabilities over the last generation. In the absence of a peer rival following the end of the Cold War, DoD failed to pursue a new generation of capabilities needed to maintain its EMS superiority. This pause provided China, Russia and other rivals with an opportunity to field systems that target vulnerabilities in sensor and communication networks the U.S. military has come to depend on. As a result, America’s once significant military advantage in the EMS is eroding, and may in fact no longer exist. This does not have to remain the case. DoD has the opportunity to develop new operational concepts and technologies that will allow it to “leap ahead” of its competitors and create enduring advantages in EMS warfare.

A Long-Term Competition:

The ways in which militaries conducted EMS warfare have changed significantly over the last hundred-plus years. We can think of these changes as a series of major phases, each of which placed a different emphasis on the use of active or passive EMS capabilities and countermeasures. Within each phase, incremental improvements to existing EMS capabilities allowed militaries to gain temporary advantages over their competitors. These advantages dissipated as the other side developed the next generation of countermeasures. More enduring advantages were the product of new operational concepts and capabilities that enabled militaries to transition to a new phase of the EMS warfare competition before their rivals.

Preparing IT systems and organizations for the Internet of Things


To accommodate the development and support of smart devices, companies will need to update existing IT architectures and operating models. Here’s a potential road map.

November 2015 | byJohannes Deichmann, Matthias Roggendorf, and Dominik Wee

As the Internet of Things (IoT) gains momentum, many companies are trying to determine how best to update their existing IT architectures and operations to capitalize on this trend.
The Internet of Things refers to the networking of physical objects through the use of embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that can collect or transmit information about the objects. Examples in the consumer market include smart watches, fitness bands, and home-security systems. Examples in the B2B market include sensor-embedded production equipment and shipping and storage containers. Such devices are networked through computer systems and generate an enormous amount of data—information that some leading-edge companies are mining for insights and opportunities that can help set them apart from competitors.

According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, the networking efficiencies and opportunities created by the Internet of Things may have a global economic impact of as much as $11 trillion per year by 2025 across multiple sectors.1 The report also suggests that, although consumer applications seem to be on the leading edge of adoption, nearly 70 percent of the projected economic value will eventually come from the use of sensor technology and swarm intelligence among B2B users.2
The opportunity is huge, but there is a lot of uncertainty for companies, as there is with any emerging trend. Questions remain about how to accurately assess the business opportunities in the Internet of Things, how to build a technology stack (the layers of hardware, software applications, operating platforms, and networks that make up IT architecture) to support current and future Internet of Things applications and devices, and whether companies should invest in open or proprietary technologies.

The transition from a traditional enterprise IT architecture to one optimized for the Internet of Things will not be easy. Elements of companies’ current technology stacks may need to be redesigned so they can support billions of interdependent processing events per year from millions of products, devices, and applications. Because networked devices are always on, companies must be able to react to customer and system requests in real time; agile software development and delivery will therefore become a critical competency. Seamless connectivity will also become a must-have, as will collaboration across IT and business units, which have traditionally been siloed. Moreover, companies must be able to securely and efficiently collect, analyze, and store the data emerging from these refined IT architectures.

Senate pushes overhaul of military promotion system


By Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes, Published: December 2, 2015

Congress approved a historic overhaul of the military retirement system Tuesday, all but ensuring it will become law and the Defense Department will begin the roll out. 

Last January the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission proposed replacing the current triple option Tricare benefit with a menu of commercial insurance options, similar to those offered to federal civilians, but with a break on premiums except for working-age retirees. 

WASHINGTON — Days after passing a retirement overhaul, Congress is already pressing ahead with another round of potentially historic military personnel reforms for 2016, taking aim this week at promotions and the health care system.
The Senate opened the debate Wednesday by criticizing the military promotion system — especially among officers — as outdated and overly focused on schedules compared to merit. A House panel was scheduled Thursday to open a series of hearings on reforming the Tricare health care system.

President Barack Obama signed an overhaul of 20-year military pensions into law before Thanksgiving, which is the most substantial change to personnel benefits in years. But Congress is again searching for ways to trim ballooning troop costs and to modernize the all-volunteer services amid burgeoning threats around the world.
“Promotions are handed out according to predictable schedules with only secondary consideration of merit,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “That’s why even after more than a decade of service, there is essentially no difference in rank among officers of the same age. Is it really because they all perform the same or deserve the same rank?”

The officer promotion system was overhauled in 1980 by Congress to consolidate a variety of conventions used by the military services, but that system has since drawn criticism for being too inflexible, especially in an era of fast-advancing technology that requires servicemembers with specific expertise.
“I think fundamentally it’s not about a particular constraint, it’s about the paradigm that the [defense] department follows that all officers look the same … We are grooming all officers to be chief of staff,” David Chu, former undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the Armed Services Committee.

Officers now almost invariably face a 30-year cap on their service, meaning they often leave service at age 52. It is a rule that “makes no sense” and should be changed to accommodate longer service for a variety of careers such as in cyber warfare, medical, the chaplain corps, intelligence and acquisition, said Bernard Rostker, also a former undersecretary for personnel and readiness and now a senior fellow at the Rand Corporation.
The military’s 70-year-old “up or out” policies that force out servicemembers who do not advance rank might be shunning needed expertise, said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a committee ranking member.

Rethinking Anonymous’ Online 'War' With IS

Doug Bernard, Voice of America

Last month’s terror attacks in Paris spurred Western political leaders to begin crafting a comprehensive strategy for defeating the Islamic State militant group on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
But they also reminded many observers that more needs to be done to attack the Islamic State (IS) group where it has a sizable foothold: online.

The U.S. State Department and non-governmental agencies have been working hard to counter pro-IS narratives or incitements to violence frequently found on social media. But numerous analysts tell VOA those efforts have only produced marginal effects, while IS social media strategies have grown more sophisticated.
Even the shadowy hacker collective known as Anonymous has entered the fray, publicly declaring “war” on IS and vowing to hound the group any place it exists on the web. But these efforts appear to have generated more headlines than actual results.

Despite this, a consensus may be developing on how to take the online battle to IS.
Emotion Equals Virality

“It’s been clear for quite a while now that IS is extremely organized on social media, and they’re extremely aggressive about how they use it,” says J.M. Berger, co-author of "ISIS: The State of Terror" and non-resident fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. “They have some people who have some pretty relevant experience that have worked in these areas, and they have some people very skilled at putting out propaganda content.”

Berger says IS employs several social media strategies simultaneously, each targeting a specific audience and crafted to create a specific reaction.

“They became notorious for extremely violent videos, but they also put out a tremendous amount of content of what they say is ordinary life in their caliphate,” Berger told VOA. “It’s obviously heavily edited and manipulated, but they put out pictures of civic life, people taking out their trash, managing traffic, just doing the things a state would do. That’s part of their recruiting pitch.”

More Special Forces For Iraq and Syria: Tactical Asset or Strategic Tokenism

By Anthony H. Cordesman,  DEC 3, 2015 

On the surface, deploying more Special Forces to deal with the threat from ISIS to Iraq and Syria should be a tactical asset. In reality, however, it is far from clear that they will be able to perform this role – given the overall lack of a credible U.S. strategy and plans to create effective Iraqi and Syrian forces.
There is a serious risk that they will become a political tool rather than effective forces, and potentially a sacrifice pawn in a game that the Administration is not really playing to win.

The Role and Potential Value of the New U.S. “Expeditionary Targeting Force”
Secretary Carter announced in his testimony to the House Armed Service Committee on December 1st that he was sending at least 100 more U.S. Special Forces to Iraq, including support personnel, in addition to the “up to 50” announced earlier for support of the Kurdish and Arab rebel forces in Syria.

An article in the New York Times by Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt dated December 2nd, notes that Carter called this a “specialized expeditionary targeting force” to carry out raids against high-value Islamic State leaders in Iraq and Syria, and suggests the force will be drawn from the Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC.
Colonel Steven H. Warren, the official spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve in Baghdad followed up in a press conference from Baghdad the next day. He noted that the new force would add roughly 100 more personnel to the 3,550 U.S. personnel officially reported to be in Iraq. He also provided an extensive clarification of the mission, size, and tactical role of the force that is critical to understanding its purpose and prospects for success.

The key excerpts from Colonel Warren’s briefing and the press questions that followed are:

“Yesterday, Secretary Carter outlined a plan to deploy an expeditionary targeting force to assist the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga to put even more pressure on ISIL…As he said, these special operators will be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders… we've talked extensively with the prime minister about this. It's something that we exchange information with the prime minister over for the last several weeks. And, you know, and it's important to note inside of that statement, the prime minister kind of lays out the framework for what this is.

5 Key Developments in the History of Infantry

Nov 28, 2015

From the dawn of military history, infantry have provided the backbone of armies the world over.
Mesopotamian Phalanxes

Greek phalanx formation based on sources from the Perseus Project (Wikipedia)

The first step in the transformation of individual warriors into uniformed, disciplined infantry took place in the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia, now Iraq. Around 2500 BC, city states such as Lagash and Ur began to equip their fighting men with matching equipment. Protected by shields and helmets, their spears formed a hedge of deadly points that held opponents at bay.

These Mesopotamian phalanxes set a precedent that would spread outward and be imitated by other ancient civilisations. By equipping their men with identical weapons, the rising nations of the ancient world could ensure reliable armies that fought with the best tools available to them. And for the first time, infantrymen began to emerge as a distinct group.
Roman Legions

It was Rome’s legions that made it great, transforming a small Italian city-state into an empire that stretched from northern Europe to the Sahara, from the Atlantic to the Middle East. This was made possible by a new sort of soldier – the disciplined and well-equipped legionary.

The Roman legion as we remember it was born in the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Under the leadership of general and statesman Gaius Marius, the Roman army began to recruit from the common ranks of society, not just the wealthy elite. This increased both the manpower and the professionalism of the army.