19 February 2016

India: An Aerospace Power?

By Gp Capt TP Srivastava
18 Feb , 2016

An objective analysis would indicate that India is truly not an aerospace power. We have as yet, not become a substantive aerospace power primarily because of two reasons. Firstly, the lopsided and flawed Defence Procurement Policy and secondly, near total absence of any worthwhile R&D from the 1960s to the 1980s. Merely establishing defence laboratories and ordnance factories was not enough. Had we continued with the HF-24 programme and taken it to higher levels, we might have had indigenous force multipliers, fighter aircraft, heavy lift helicopters, transport aircraft, radars and Surface to Air Missiles of proven operational capability matching in performance with the best systems available.

The Indian subcontinent witnessed exponential growth in the acquisition and/or development of conventional aeroplanes as early as the 1950s. Immediately after independence in 1947, both India and Pakistan began acquiring aeroplanes from the Western nations such as France, UK and USA. China too was busy acquiring vintage but still airworthy variants of the MiG family from the erstwhile USSR.

Moment of Glory

International Solar Alliance: India’s Quest to Emerge as a Global Powerhouse of Solar Energy

By Aniket Bhavthankar
18 Feb , 2016

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) headquartered in Gurgaon during the latter’s visit to India as a chief guest for 67th Republic Day. Modi and Hollande jointly announced formation of the ISA during Conference of Parties-21 in Paris the last year.

The ISA visualizes building a partnership between more than 120 countries situated between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn as they receive sunshine in abundance for around 300 days in a year. Currently, 121 countries across the world are part of the ISA. Renewable and non-traditional energy sources are one of the ways to confront the challenges of the climate change.

India’s ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ has set an ambitious target to scale up capacity of renewable energy from 30 GW in 2015-16 to 175 GW by 2021-22. In this, the share of solar energy is expected to be about 100 GW. Indian government’s goal of ‘electricity to all’ can be achieved chiefly through solar energy and, hence, the government has launched a scheme for development of 25 solar parks, Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects and solar pumps for farmers.

Improving Management of Defence

By Maj Gen Harsha Kakar
18 Feb , 2016

Recent reports that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has been unable to spend almost 40% of its allocated amount for capital procurements once again brings forth the hollowness in the functioning of the ministry and its associated service headquarters. The military has been facing shortfalls in equipment and stores, thus impacting its effectiveness for operations. While it has been rightly said, that it is the man behind the gun which counts, but if there is no gun, nor sufficient ammunition, how would the man be able to perform.

The methodology of defence procurement has regularly been changing. While the previous government in its entire tenure, refused to process procurement plans due to fear of claims of kickbacks, the present government is slow on account of bureaucratic issues. Their concept of government to government deals did initially show a way forward, but lack of progress and slow pursuing has brought them to the stage of status quo with the previous governments. The defence procurement procedure is undergoing a change yet once again, with guidelines yet to be released.

Why did British refuse to trust sole witness to Netaji's death?

Declassified records show Habibur Rahman Khan was the only Indian witness to his leader's reported death on August 18, 1945.

British and Indian security officials who interrogated the main witness to the reported death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose disbelieved his version, Raj-era documents available in the National Archives, New Delhi show. Lt Col Habibur Rahman Khan, Subhas Chandra Bose's fiercely loyal ADC, was the only Indian witness to his leader's reported death in Taihoku (Taipei) on August 18, 1945.

The story of Netaji's death was based solely on the verbal account of Rahman, supported by unsatisfactory supporting statements of a few Japanese.

It turns out that even Rahman's version was doubtful and therefore not believed by the Raj-era officials who investigated Bose's death soon after it was reported by the Japanese.

The investigation into Bose's reported death was monitored by the combined section at the military intelligence directorate in the GHQ, India under the lead of IB deputy director W McK Wright.

India Test Fires Nuclear-Capable PRITHVI-II Missile

February 17, 2016

Prithvi-II missile test-fired in Odisha

HUBANESWAR: India on Tuesday test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile from a test range in Odisha. 

The missile, capable of carrying warheads weighing 500 kg to 1,000 kg, was test-fired as part of a user-trial by the Army from a mobile launcher at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Balasore district, defence sources said. 

The strategic forces command (SFC) of the Army conducted the test as part of a regular training exercise. 

With a strike range of 350 km, Prithvi-II is powered by twin-engines which use liquid propulsion. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target.
Notably, Prithvi is India’s first indigenously-built ballistic missile. It is one of the five missiles being developed under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

The battlefield missile has a flight duration of 483 seconds and a peak altitude of 43.5km, sources added.

The sources said the missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the entire launch activities were carried out by the SFC and monitored by the scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The missile was inducted into the armed forces in 2003. 

The last user-trial of the missile was successfully conducted on November 26 last year from the same test range in Odisha.

An economist’s radical idea for lowering petty corruption

Kaushik Basu

Former Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu’s suggestion led to instant outrage followed by serious debate.
How contentious the law can be, I learned by fire, when I was chief economic adviser in India. Corruption has been a long-standing problem in India that successive regimes and governments have battled or given the impression of battling and mostly failed. One can sense the despair in the classical master of statecraft, Kautilya, when in his magnum opus,Arthashastra, written nearly three centuries before the Christian era, he observed: “Just as it is impossible to know when a fish moving in water is drinking it, so it is impossible to find out when government servants in charge of undertakings misappropriate money.”

Some two thousand three hundred years after those lines were penned the nation was being traumatised by one corruption scandal breaking after another… Anna Hazare’s call to eradicate corruption struck a chord and brought thousands out to protest.

As some well-intentioned individuals in government looked at the vastness of the problem in despair, I spent a lot of time thinking about what we, sitting in the North Block, could do to curb this dreadful menace that inflicts harm on people and, in my view, damages economic development.

The Afghan Taliban Have Become a Full-Fledged Drug Cartel

Azam Ahmed
February 17, 2016

Penetrating Every Stage of Afghan Opium Chain, Taliban Become a Cartel

ZARANJ, Afghanistan — Shortly after sunrise, an Afghan special operations helicopter descended on two vehicles racing through the empty deserts of southern Afghanistan, traversing what has become a superhighway for smugglers and insurgents.

Intelligence showed that the men were transporting a huge cache of drugs and weapons from Helmand Province to Nimruz Province, a hub for all things illegal and a way station on the global opium trail. Hovering above, the troops fired tracer rounds into the sandy earth beside the vehicles, which skidded to a stop.

It was an impressive take for the Afghan forces that day, July 12, 2014. They seized nearly a metric ton of opium in various phases of processing, three AK-47 assault rifles, an automatic handgun, a PKM machine gun, a rocket-propelled grenade, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, four two-way radios and two satellite phones.

But the biggest coup was neither the drugs nor the weapons. It was a passenger who gave his name as Muhammad Eshaq, a 40-year-old carpet seller from Nimruz. After a later inquiry by international officials, the police discovered that Mr. Eshaq was actually Mullah Abdul Rashid Baluch, the Taliban shadow governor of Nimruz Province: a man with blood on his hands and with direct links to the top Taliban leaders in Pakistan.

Chinese Agents Are Kidnapping Critics and Political Dissidents Living Outside China

Barbara Demick
February 17, 2016

Why Did China Kidnap Its Provocateurs?

Last October 17th, Gui Minhai, the publisher of Mighty Current Media, in Hong Kong, returned from grocery shopping to his seaside condominium in Thailand and found a young man waiting for him at the front gate. Gui chatted with the man for a few minutes, and then drove off with the young man in his own white hatchback, but not before asking the doorman to leave the groceries in the hall outside his apartment. The implication was that he would be back shortly. He never came back.

Two months later, Lee Bo, who with Gui Minhai was a co-owner of Mighty Current and ran the company’s Hong Kong bookstore, stayed late at work, preparing a large book order he was supposed to deliver to a client. Closed-circuit footage from the office elevator showed him speaking to a young man in a cap. When he didn’t come home for dinner as expected, his wife called the police.

On January 11th, Li Xin, a Chinese dissident journalist, was on a train in northern Thailand heading toward the border with Laos. He was staying in Thailand while seeking political asylum, and needed to leave the country to renew his tourist visa. “Left the train and heading toward the border,’’ he texted his wife. Then he vanished.

China Has Deployed Advanced Surface-to-Air Missiles to Disputed Islands in South China Sea

February 17, 2016

China sends missiles to contested South China Sea island: Taiwan

China has deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system to one of the disputed islands it controls in the South China Sea, Taiwan and U.S. officials said, ratcheting up tensions even as U.S. President Barack Obama urged restraint in the region.

Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Major General David Lo told Reuters the missile batteries had been set up on Woody Island. The island is part of the Paracels chain, under Chinese control for more than 40 year but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

“Interested parties should work together to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region and refrain from taking any unilateral measures that would increase tensions,” Lo said on Wednesday.

A U.S. defense official also confirmed the “apparent deployment” of the missiles, first reported by Fox News.

Images from civilian satellite company ImageSat International show two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers as well as a radar system, according to Fox News.

News of the missile deployment came as Obama and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations concluded a summit in California, where they discussed the need to ease tensions in the region but did not include specific mention of China’s assertive pursuit of its claims in the South China Sea.

China-Pakistan Corridor: Tightening Noose Around Baloch Aspirations – OpEd

By Sobdar Baloch*
FEBRUARY 17, 2016

I was watching the inauguration ceremony of the Gwadar corridor route passing through occupied Balochistan territory that made me pen down my thoughts on how the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is being hailed as a symbol of undying friendship between Pakistan and China, could very well cause further damage to the already battered Baloch and Pashtun aspirations.

The puppet and toothless ministers from Balochistan and other parts were also present to confirm their attendance and obedience to Punjabi domination on Baloch land. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif repeated the same rhetoric and showed lollipops of the past to Baloch nation. The Pashtun leadership of Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PMAP) leaders Mehmood Khan Achekzai and Iftekhar Hussain were also present during the ceremony. They advised Pakistani PM to hand over the Gawadar to Baloch nation but on the other hand shied away from condemning the daily bases genocide of Baloch and Pashtuns by Panjabi Pakistan army. It is worth mentioning that everyone knows that Gawadar corridor was signed with the Chinese authorities without the wishes of the inhabitants of Balochistan and the Baloch nation does not approve of the Gawadar port treaty with Chinese.

Khamenei's Plan to Manage Iran After His Death

February 18, 2016

Last week the powerful Guardian Council—which approves all candidates for Iran’s political institutions—announced which contenders it had approved for the February election to the Assembly of Experts. The Assembly is itself an influential institution, in charge of choosing, supervising, and even deposing the supreme leader if necessary. The Council’s decision—approving just 161 of an original list of 794 candidates—poured cold water on hopes that last summer’s nuclear would result in a more moderate regime that could re-engage with the international community.

One hundred sixty-one candidates for eighty-eight seats means only 1.8 candidates per each seat. In other words, for some seats there is only one qualified candidate. Given Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s age and health, the current Assembly—whose members serve eight-year terms—will likely be the one to choose the next supreme leader. Khamenei wants to make sure he can control the selection process, and thereby continue to leave his imprint on the Islamic Republic even after his death.

The Return of the Jihadi: Assessing the Foreign-Fighter Threat

February 17, 2016

In congressional testimony on February 9, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper highlighted the threat that foreign fighters within the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) pose to U.S. national security. These approximately 36,500 fighters—including 6,600 from the West—not only have potentially easier access to target countries through their national passports but could leverage the tactical skills they learned on the battlefield to increase the effectiveness of terrorist attacks. In a timely event moderated by JacobHeilbrunn, editor of the National Interest, at the Center for the National Interest on February 16, Bruce Hoffman, the director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, and Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, discussed the true threat represented by foreign fighters, questioning many of the common assumptions held by academics, policy analysts and decision-makers alike.

Arab-Iran Tension And China’s Efforts For Political Solution – OpEd

FEBRUARY 17, 2016

The recent rash of the political crisis and the tension between Saudi Arabia and the Iran has far-reaching consequences for the rest of the region, particularly the Middle East. The respective outrage by both Saudi Arabia and Iran with regard to the pursuance of their respective policies and their interests in Yemen and Syria are issues that seriously undermine the region’s strategic stability.

The current political crisis was instigated through a violent mob storming into the Saudi Embassy and Consulate in Tehran and Mashad. Shortly afterward, diplomatic relations were cutoff between the two states and other Saudi allies in the region like UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait also followed suit. The two sides approach demonstrates the failure of both sides to avoid further escalation, and the increased tension could seriously hamper the efforts for bringing resolutions to regional security issues including the civil war in the Yemen and Syria.

Any further apprehension between the two sides would also involve a number of other countries that would support the agenda of their respective allies. The two oil producing giants have strongly diverse views and policies where each side is proclaiming to be the actual leader and real representative and safeguards for the interests of the faithful in the world. The efforts of the both sides to contain the other portrays a Cold War styled political and ideological containment, particularly, the ambitions where each side is trying to promote its respective ideological views and increase its influence in the region.

The Mess That Is Russia Today

February 17, 2016

Russia: How to Make a Mess Worse

The government controls the mass media and that is why most coverage is about the “war” with NATO and the effort to destroy ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in Syria (as well as rescue the Assad government). Russian leaders now accuse the West of reviving the Cold War. This all began when Russian leaders decided to use nationalism to solve several problems. Back in 2012 Vladimir Putin, who has been in power since 2000 (as president, prime minister and now president again) was seeking to deal with several years of declining popularity. People were upset about the continued corruption and sluggish economic performance. Putin decided to employ an ancient trick; blame all the problems on evil foreigners. It worked, even though in 2012 the urban middle class was largely against him and many rural groups were turning hostile as well. The government had tried taking more action against corruption and more repression of public protests. But what seemed to work best was more propaganda against “foreign threats” (like the NATO anti-missile system). All this did not work out as planned.

In 2012 the government felt confident that the new “blame foreigners” strategy would work. After all Russia was producing 10 million barrels of oil a day, most for export. In 2012 oil was selling for over $100 a barrel. This gave the government a lot of money to play with and time to come up with a solution for the pervasive corruption. Then, unexpectedly, the oil price began a rapid fall in 2014. This was the result of Saudi Arabia and other Arab producers trying to use low prices to weaken Iran and destroy the American fracking industry. Then Russia was hit with sanctions because of its aggression against Ukraine.

U.S. Planned to Launch Major Cyber Attack on Iran If Nuclear Negotiations Failed

David E. Sanger and Mark Mazzetti
February 17, 2016

U.S. Had Cyberattack Plan if Iran Nuclear Dispute Led to Conflict

BERLIN — In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyberattack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit itsnuclear program failed and led to a military conflict, according to a coming documentary film and interviews with military and intelligence officials involved in the effort.

The plan, code-named Nitro Zeus, was devised to disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and crucial parts of its power grid, and was shelved, at least for the foreseeable future, after the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six other nations last summer was fulfilled.

Nitro Zeus was part of an effort to assure President Obama that he had alternatives, short of a full-scale war, if Iran lashed out at the United States or its allies in the region. At its height, officials say, the planning for Nitro Zeus involved thousands of American military and intelligence personnel, spending tens of millions of dollars and placing electronic implants in Iranian computer networks to “prepare the battlefield,” in the parlance of the Pentagon.

The United States military develops contingency plans for all kinds of possible conflicts, such as a North Korean attack on the South, loose nuclear weapons in South Asia or uprisings in Africa or Latin America. Most sit on the shelf, and are updated every few years. But this one took on far greater urgency, in part because White House officials believed there was a good chance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would decide to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the United States would be drawn into the hostilities that followed.


FEBRUARY 17, 2016

If the U.S. government has learned one lesson in Syria, it must be this: Things can always get worse.
Since the beginning of February, more than 80,000 Syrians have massed in Bab al-Salama, across from Turkey’s Öncüpınar border crossing. Following a relentless campaign of Russian bombing, Bashar al-Assad’s regime forcesadvanced in Aleppo’s countryside, cutting supply lines from Turkey to opposition forces in Aleppo and across Idlib province. Anticipating the regime’s favored tactics of siege, starvation, and airstrikes, tens of thousands more are fleeing toward the border. With continued U.S. nonintervention, a generalized humanitarian catastrophe might give way to a new large-scale civilian massacre at NATO’s doorstep.

Meanwhile, U.S. partners Saudi Arabia and Turkey continue to affect — and be affected by — the conflict. The months following Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian jet produced more rhetoric than retribution, but Russia hasreturned to violating Turkey’s airspace, inviting escalated conflict with the Turks. To entice the United States, the Saudis have offered ground troops to fight ISIL — no doubt seeking to support anti-Assad opposition fighters alongside anti-ISIL efforts. In the run up to the failed Geneva process, the Saudis and the Turks — staunch opposition supporters both — counseled opposition groups not to abandon preconditions for negotiations with the regime.

Spin City: America's President-Making Machine

February 18, 2016

SPIN. This sibilant, hissing little word slithered its way into the national lexicon during the 1988 presidential campaign, David Greenberg tells us in his splendid and important new book on the public relations of American politics. Minions and factotums dashed out the vomitoria of the debate arenas to assert victory to the cameras and microphones on behalf of their respective clients, George H.W. Bush or Michael Dukakis. Thus was born “Spin Alley.”

The next election cycle gave us Bill Clinton and the era of “it depends what your definition of ‘is’ is.” (Clinton was a product of a good Jesuit education at Georgetown, we sometimes forget.) Then we had the testosterone-flavored spin of George W. and “Mission Accomplished,” followed by Barack Obama and the Zen-like “spin of no spin.” (Whatever that means.) Those ur-spinners of 1988 triggered a butterfly effect: a quarter century on, the fluttering of their lips has created a hurricane of spin. No one seems able to decide for sure if there really were thousands of Muslims in New Jersey on 9/11, cheering and jeering as the towers came down. Maybe it doesn’t really matter. Donald Trump insists he saw those bastards cheering. On TV! Even if no one else did. And if you don’t agree with him, he doesn’t give a damn. Let the hurricane blow. Hold onto your hats with one hand, and with the other, turn the pages of Greenberg’s book to find out how on earth we got here.

Europe's Political Center Cannot Hold

February 18, 2016

THERE ARE times—and the present moment is very much one of them—when certain great poems, minatory and ominous, force their way into the mind. It might be Cavafy’s “Waiting for the Barbarians,” or Auden’s “The Fall of Rome,” not to mention Kipling’s “Recessional” and “The White Man’s Burden.” Published in 1898, the latter’s subtitle, more interesting than its lurid title, is “The United States and The Philippine Islands,” but might just as well be “The United States and the Middle East” more than a century later, with its warning about “The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard.”

And of course, “The Second Coming.” In that extraordinary, oracular work, W.B. Yeats was not making a trite political statement. Although the lines

“Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;”

The Russian Connection Between Syria and Ukraine

February 17, 2016

For the last fifty-two years, leaders from around the world have gathered inMunich for an annual review of world security problems. This year’s discussion focused on the civil war in Syria. Not only is Syria a political and humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, but the refugee flows from that war are causing a political crisis in Europe. Some observers foresee the unraveling of theSchengen zone for free movement of peoples that has become a major accomplishment of European unity. In contrast, last year the focus in Munich was on Russian aggression against Ukraine. Ironically, it was easier to garner a consensus about a Western response to that threat. Behind both topics, however, lies the question of what Russia wants. At the same Munich Security Conference in 2007, Vladimir Putin had warned of a more assertive Russian policy against the West.

Last weekend, I listened as Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev told the conference that the world has “fallen into a new Cold War” for which he blamed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This came despite the fact that just a few days earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had met with others to try to arrange a ceasefire in Syria. Kerry announced an agreement to send humanitarian supplies to cities and a cessation of hostilities within a week. Lavrov then told the conference that he put the odds of success for the agreement at 49 percent. Russia did its best to dash any sense of optimism.

Moscow Objectives In Syria Exceed An Alawite Canton As West Retracts To Blame Russian’s Policy – Analysis

By Riad Kahwaji*
FEBRUARY 17, 2016

Developments in Syria over the past few months are gradually revealing that the intentions of Moscow are not just to save the regime, but also to achieve a full decisive victory that will go beyond only securing an Alawite canton as widely speculated by Western officials and observers. So are the supporters of Syrian opposition groups ready to give up, or are they now willing to provide fighters with adequate air defense capabilities?

While warring Syrian factions were meeting in Geneva under a United Nations brokered peace conference, Russian warplanes were providing intensive air cover to Syrian regime forces backed by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other Shiite militias advancing on opposition positions in the north, south and other parts in the country – but especially, too, around the capital.

Ever since the Russian intervention in Syria started in late September 2015 under the pretext of fighting “terrorism,” Western officials have taken turns in criticizing it and accusing Moscow of having a concealed agenda that goes beyond fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

George Washington Knew How to Tell a Lie and Spy on His Friends and Neighbors

Stephen F. Knott
February 16, 2016

America Was Founded on Secrets and Lies

ith all due respect to early-American hagiographer Parson Weems, George Washington knew how to tell a lie. In fact, he told a lot of them. Moreover, talent for deception was shared by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, all of whom, to borrow from former Vice President Dick Cheney, worked the “dark side.” And though these Founding Fathers’ knack for the shadows may cut against the image of modern-day saints that has grown up around them, it is difficult to see the American Revolution succeeding without it.

In popular history, clandestine operations, and their control by the executive, are a cancerous growth that began in the 20th century with the so-called “imperial presidency” and the rise of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. This is fiction. Unfortunately, this fairy tale account of American history is gospel in far too many quarters. It was accepted as fact by the Church Committee in the 1970s, resurrected again in the majority report of the Iran-Contra Committee in 1987, and now finds renewed life on the libertarian right. As Jefferson noted, for the founders, the “laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger,” overrode traditional standards of conduct or any written law. Enlisting their legacy in the cause of restricting or banning these operations can only be achieved by either distorting or ignoring their repeated use of underhanded means.

NSA IG Report Indicates That US Telecommunications Companies Are Only Turning Over Emails About Foreign Targets to NSA

Charlie Savage
February 17, 2016

N.S.A. Gets Less Web Data Than Believed, Report Suggests

WASHINGTON — A newly declassified report by the National Security Agency’s inspector general suggests that the government is receiving far less data from Americans’ international Internet communications than privacy advocates have long suspected.

The report indicates that when the N.S.A. conducts Internet surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act, companies that operate the Internet are probably turning over just emails to, from or about the N.S.A.’s foreign targets — not all the data crossing their switches, as the critics had presumed.

The theory that the government is rooting through vast amounts of data for its targets’ messages has been at the heart of several lawsuits challenging such surveillance as violating the Fourth Amendment.

The report, obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, was classified when completed in 2015, and it still contains many redactions. But several uncensored sentences appear to indicate how the system works: They suggest that the government supplies its foreign targets’ “selectors” — like email addresses — to the network companies that operate the Internet, and they sift through the raw data for any messages containing them, turning over only those.

How to Steal Data From Air-Gapped Computers In Another Room

Joseph Cox

February 15, 2016

How White Hat Hackers Stole Crypto Keys from an Offline Laptop in Another Room

In recent years, air-gapped computers, which are disconnected from the internet so hackers can not remotely access their contents, have become a regular target for security researchers. Now, researchers from Tel Aviv University and Technionhave gone a step further than past efforts, and found a way to steal data from air-gapped machines while their equipment is in another room.

“By measuring the target’s electromagnetic emanations, the attack extracts the secret decryption key within seconds, from a target located in an adjacent room across a wall,” Daniel Genkin, Lev Pachmanov, Itamar Pipman, and Eran Tromer write in a recently published paper. The research will be presented at the upcoming RSA Conference on March 3.

“The attack in its current form uses lab equipment that costs about $3000 and, as 
shown in the photos, is somewhat unwieldy,” Tromer told Motherboard in an email. “However, experience shows that once the physical phenomena are understood in the lab, the attack setup can be miniaturized and simplified.”

New Film Explores US-Israeli Development of STUXNET Virus and the Cyber Attack on the Computers of Iran’s Nuclear Plants

Yossi Melman

February 16, 2016

Exclusive: Israel’s rash behavior blew operation to sabotage Iran’s computers, US officials say
“Zero Days,” Alex Gibney’s film premiering at the Berlin Film Festival, explores the joint US-Israeli operation to develop the Stuxnet virus and sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of both the CIA and the NSA, claims the goal of a potential Israeli strike on Iran would be to drag the US into war.

Hayden made the remarks in a documentary film premiering this week at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film also quotes other sources in the US intelligence community who accuse Israel of disrupting a joint covert operation to sabotage computers used in Iran’s nuclear program by acting rashly and in opposition to agreed-upon plans. As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars that were invested in the operation went to waste.

The film, Zero Days, was directed by Alex Gibney, whose film Taxi to the Dark Side won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2008.


FEBRUARY 17, 2016

Congress is eager. A bipartisan commission has laid a path. And the Pentagon has proposed a step in the right direction. Is this the year to institute meaningful reforms to improve military health care?

Major reform could significantly improve the quality of health care for servicemembers and their families. Unfortunately, too often this discussion revolves around saving money in DOD’s budget. Delivering military health care in an efficient and cost-effective manner is important. But let’s be clear: Military health care reform should not be just about saving money; it should first and foremost be about building a better health care system.

Today the military’s medical system has two primary goals, which can at times be in tension with each other: first, to provide medical care and support for military missions at home and abroad, including in combat; and second, to provide peacetime health care to service members, their families and retirees.

Planning for the 'Army of the Future'

February 17, 2016

Last month, the National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) released its report on the Army the United States needs to meet the strategy outlined in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

The QDR recommended the Army be composed of 970,000 to 980,000 total troops, with active-duty personnel numbering 440,000 to 450,000. This active-duty figure is down from 570,000, a decrease based on 2014 assumptions including a stable Iraq, the planned U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and an approach to Russia that increased transparency and reduced the risk of military miscalculation.

The QDR largely repeated the president's guidance from 2012: “U.S. forces will be capable of defeating a regional adversary in a large-scale multi-phased campaign, and denying the objectives of — or imposing unacceptable costs on — a second aggressor in another region.”

The NCFA agreed with these figures, though it recommended the larger 450,000 figure for active-duty soldiers. It notes: “The Army is appropriately sized, shaped, and ready to meet the strategic guidance it has been given, first promulgated in 2012 and reiterated in the Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 — but only just so.”