2 March 2016

The Indian Soldier: A Role Model for the Nation

By Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd)
January 2016

THE INDIAN soldier is a role model for the people of India. Scrupulously honest, positively secular, completely apolitical, with an ethos of working hard, simple needs and frugal habits, he is the epitome of courage and unflinching devotion to duty. More than any other group or community in the country, the Indian soldier embodies and represents the idea of India.

In hail, sleet and snow, in icy blizzards and pouring rain, he stands sentinel over the nation’s borders in the high Himalayas. He maintains a silent and lonely vigil along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). He has held the Saltoro Ridgeline west of the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, for almost 30 years and denied the adversary the opportunity to alter the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). He has repeatedly shown his mettle while meeting the Chinese challenge along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with Tibet.

A Quick Glance at the Defence Budget 2016-17

By Danvir Singh
01 Mar , 2016

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented his third Union Budget. With an eye on supporting the small tax-payer and the small investor, the Minister announced a slew of schemes, and income tax exemptions, reports the Hindu.

Surprisingly the finance minister made no mention of India’s defence allocation for 2016-17 in his Union Budget speech on Monday, 29 February 2016. This raised immediate curiosity, over why, the country’s military spending was not revealed. This is in fact the first time when defence allocation has not been revealed during the annual budget speech.

Interestingly the budget uploaded on the official web site (indiabudgetnic.in) reveal interesting figures which in no way suggest a rosy picture, when, it comes to dealing with internal and external security challenges confronting our nation.

Air Force presses forward with new cyber weapons platform

February 26, 2016 

The Air Force announced in a Feb. 26 release that its Cyberspace Vulnerability Assessment/Hunter (CVA/H) cyber weapon platform now is at full operational capacity — the second cyber weapon system to go online in just over a month.

According to the Air Force, the service is equipping its cyber protection teams with CVA/H as a defensive tool to be used within internal bounds of the cyber system they are defending. Reaching FOC means that CVA/H “is fully capable to serve as the premier enclave defense platform for prioritized traffic in the Air Force Information Network (AFIN). The CVA/H weapon system enables execution of vulnerability assessments, adversary threat detection and compliance evaluations.”

The Air Force is developing its cyber capabilities and personnel as part of broader Defense Department-wide efforts to train and staff the offense and defense teams that will comprise much of U.S. Cyber Command’s operations at the service level. All of the services are charged with developing cyber protection teams as part of CyberCom’s cyber mission forces.

Why installing a tank in JNU to instil patriotism among its students is a half-baked idea

If sheer dedication, obedience and sacrifice were the touchstones of morality, the jihadi suicide bomber would be our ideal.

Facebook is not the best place to get an education, but you can learn something almost anywhere. A recent post came with a quote: “Nationalism teaches you to take pride in s*** you’ve never done, and hate people you’ve never met”, and the comment: “Applies to all the rabid right-wing pseudo-nationalists!”

The writer does not appear to notice that his choice of words would easily allow a variation of his own comment to be used against him, perhaps replacing pseudo-nationalists with pseudo-secularists or, more colourfully, sickulars, or pseudo-liberals or rabid Leftists – rabidity, after all, is not the exclusive domain of the political Right. Indeed, I have often had occasion to be astonished by the verbal violence of many of those who proclaim themselves to be advocates of peace, reconciliation and human understanding.

Playing with stereotypes

Are Doctors in the Army not Doctors?

Hushed tones... A feeling of being let down... Frustration... Bitterness and a diminishing faith in the system arising from a sense of betrayal by the top hierarchy is what the Army Medical Corps (AMC) doctors are facing today. The indignation and anger is simmering within, strongly coated by bitter emotions. It really is a dreadfully sad situation when your own brethren, your kith and kin, your own people and the institution that you selflessly serve, lets you down and that too in a big way. 

The angst dates back to the Sixth Pay Commission. Dynamic Assured Career Progression (DACP) was basically intended as a step towards retaining doctors in the public sector by offering 4 time bound promotions. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH & FW) notified its implementation on 29 Oct 2008 for all doctors in the Central Government. It should have been automatically implemented for the Armed Forces doctors too. However it was shot down by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). While the Air and Navy Chiefs have understood the issue of DACP, and have given their support towards the implementation, it is the Army that is hell bent on not allowing the implementation of the DACP while their demand for NFFU stands rejected by the Government. 

Non-Functional Financial Upgrade (NFFU) was offered to the Armed Forces which was rejected at that time by the senior officers as they said that there would be no charm of senior ranks! I personally believe this was truly a most ludicrous decision, to refuse a benefit offered on a platter by the bureaucrats at that time. Subsequently NFFU was implemented for all Group A services. When the Armed Forces approached the Government for NFFU, it was a firm ‘No’. The Army then tried to link the issue of NFFU with DACP. Efforts of the Chiefs of Staff Committee point to a hilarious way to link NFFU to DACP, with a suggestion to allow Concurrent Grade Pay Scheme (CGPS) to all officers of other arms and services. 

Scratched across Pashtun hearts!

Mohan Guruswamy

The Prime Minister in his infinite wisdom had put Baluchistan on the Indo-Pak agenda. But why stop at Baluchistan? Just as Baluchistan was annexed by Pakistan in 1948, the Pashtun homelands that now make up the, Khyber-Pakhthunwa - North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) were annexed by the British just seventy years before they departed from the sub-continent. It’s a pity few in India know what really Pakistan is all about. Even today they dare not refer to the NWFP and FATA as Pashtunistan or Pathanistan or anything like that that would confer upon them a sub-nationality within Pakistan. As it is in the case of Punjab, Sind and Baluchistan. Now let’s go back a bit into the past before we attempt to undo the present.

In 1886 a Russian army fresh from its conquest of the Oasis of Merv, in today’s Turkmenistan, occupied the Panjdeh Oasis near Herat. It was also the time of The Great Game. Britain immediately warned Russia that any further advance towards Herat would be considered as inimical to British Indian interests. As a consequence of the May 1879 Treaty of Gandamak after the Second Afghan War, Britain took control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs. This treaty also gave Britain control over traditional Pashtun territory west of the Indus including Peshawar and the Khyber Pass. After the Panjdeh incident a joint Anglo-Russian boundary commission, without any Afghan participation, fixed the Afghan border with Turkestan, which was the whole of Russian Central Asia, now Kirghizistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Thus as a consequence of the competition between Britain and Russia, a new country, the Afghanistan we know today, was created to serve as the buffer. 

China Arms Exports Double as Regional Tensions Mount

February 29, 2016

FILE - Paramilitary policemen and members of a gun salute team fire cannons during a training session for a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II, at a military base in Beijing, China. China is now the world’s third largest arms exporter behind the U.S. and Russia, and the country accounted for nearly six percent of arms exports between 2011 and 2015.

A research group says China’s arms exports have almost doubled in five years as the country has moved to become a major player in the global industry.

Chinese exports of major arms grew by 88 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“China is actively pushing for exports. A lot of the exports are going to countries where China has had good relations for a long time, so there’s also a strategic incentive for China to supply weapons. Pakistan for example, Bangladesh, Myanmar,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the institute.

Slowly, Relentlessly, China’s Military Expands Its Global Reach


With military bases and deepwater ports from Sri Lanka to Djibouti, and plans to build new aircraft carriers, China is looking to project power far beyond East Asia.

HONG KONG — On the horn of Africa, as you may have read, the tiny nation of Djibouti, home to American, French, German, Italian, and Japanese military bases, is about to welcome the Chinese as well.

Last November, China and Djibouti reached an agreement to set up a naval base in the Obock region in the north of the country, where an American outpost was evicted last August.

The U.S. base that remains, called Camp Lemmonier, costs the United States $70 milliona year in lease fees and development aid.

For 10,000 Chinese troops to move in to East Africa, Beijing promised the completion of a $3 billion railroad to connect Djibouti with the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and a $400 million investment to expand and modernize the East African nation’s port.


FEBRUARY 29, 2016

The news that China has deployed advanced fighter jets to, and emplaced surface-to-air missiles on, Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Island chain confirms long-held fears that Beijing plans to militarize its possessions in the South China Sea. As Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, testified before Congress in February, China is militarizing the South China Sea, and to think otherwise, “you’d have to believe in a flat Earth.” He stated, “I believe China seeks hegemony in East Asia.”

There has been a prolonged American debate on how to respond to China’s moves in the South China Sea. The positions range from a legalistic stance based on accepted international law to calls for limited military actions, including freedom of navigation operations (ambiguously twinned with claims of “innocent passage”) by U.S. Navy ships and occasionally fly-overs by U.S. planes around China’s claimed territories. Plans for multi-nation maritime patrols in the South China Sea are discussed while observers tote up the acreage of China’s reclaimed islands and observe the construction of military-use facilities on the former reefs.

“JFK’S FORGOTTEN CRISIS. Tibet. The CIA. And the Sino-Indian War.” By Bruce Riedel.


The complex tale of the evolution of India-USA relations is well known. But the close tango by the two for a brief period in 1962 is little known and seldom told. Ever since its birth as a communist state, China and the USA had an intensely adversarial relationship. India’s choice of remaining uncommitted during the age of Containment and Cold War, and Pakistan’s geography making it a frontline state and political choice of becoming a Cold War partisan, largely shaped Indo-American relations, as they do even now. 

In 1950 China entered the Korean War against the US led UN forged alliance, a war that cost the US almost 34000 combat deaths. North Koreans and their Chinese allies together lost over 1.5 million, but it was still considered a Chinese victory. It will be worth remembering that India sent a military medical unit to Korea to serve with the UN forces. India nevertheless served as a conduit between Communist China and the USA that helped them come to the table at Panmunjom to end the Korean War. The USA had also conveyed its threat to use atomic weapons should the PLA continue with its offensive via India.

India and China were never neighbors. India’s northern neighbors were always Tibet and Xinjiang. These two territories have a long history of being alternately under China’s over-lordship and free. In 1947, when India became independent, both these nations were enjoying freedom from China. Xinjiang was an independent Soviet Republic under Russia, and Tibet was enjoying full political freedom. 

Army's Delta Force begins to target ISIS in Iraq

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
February 29, 2016

CNN has learned that Delta Force plans to replicate the strategy that Special Operations forces used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan
Ash Carter told reporters that he fully expects the U.S. to play a greater role in assisting the Iraqi military's effort to retake Mosul

Washington (CNN)The U.S. Army's elite Delta Force operations to target, capture or kill top ISIS operatives have begun in Iraq, after several weeks of covert preparation, an administration official with direct knowledge of the force's activities told CNN.

The official said the group has spent the last several weeks preparing, including setting up safe houses, establishing informant networks and coordinating operations with Iraqi and Peshmerga units. It's the same strategy that Special Operations forces have used in previous deployments to combat zones.

Several Pentagon and military officials declined to discuss specifics of the so-called Expeditionary Targeting Force with CNN.

But Defense Secretary Ash Carter seemed to confirm in comments made at the Pentagon on Monday that the Special Operations forces had begun missions.

Pentagon signals support for expanded operations in Libya

By Andrew Tilghman
February 29, 2016
Source Link

The Pentagon is prepared to expand military operations against the Islamic State faction in Libya, but only after the war-torn county agrees on a national unity government, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday.

“I’m certain they will want help and the international community will help,” Carter said at a press briefing.

“We fully expect that when — which we hope is soon — a government is formed in Libya, it will welcome not just the United States but the coalition,” Carter said.

The U.S. military’s attention on Libya has intensified in recent weeks as intelligence reports suggest that the size of the Islamic State force there has grown to nearly 6,000, roughly double last year's estimates. The extremist group now controls large swaths of the Libyan coast.

Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom

Sarah Chayes and Alex de Waal

February 16, 2016 -- For half a century, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the linchpin of U.S. Mideast policy. A guaranteed supply of oil has bought a guaranteed supply of security. Ignoring autocratic practices and the export of Wahhabi extremism, Washington stubbornly dubs its ally “moderate.” So tight is the trust that U.S. special operators dip into Saudi petrodollars as a counterterrorism slush fund without a second thought. 

In a sea of chaos, goes the refrain, the kingdom is one state that’s stable. But is it?

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or so corrupt as to resemble in its functioning a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S. decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom.

In recent conversations with military and other government personnel, we were startled at how startled they seemed at this prospect. Here’s the analysis they should be working through.

Understood one way, the Saudi king is CEO of a family business that converts oil into payoffs that buy political loyalty.They take two forms: cash handouts or commercial concessions for the increasingly numerous scions of the royal clan, and a modicum of public goods and employment opportunities for commoners. The coercive “stick” is supplied by brutal internal security services lavishly equipped with American equipment. The U.S. has long counted on the ruling family having bottomless coffers of cash with which to rent loyalty. Even accounting today’s low oil prices, and as Saudi officials step up arms purchases and military adventures in Yemen and elsewhere, Riyadh is hardly running out of funds. 

America's Missile Defense Is Stuck in the Past

March 1, 2016

Washington and Seoul are planning to deploy U.S. missile defenses on South Korean soil in response to North Korea’s nuclear and rocket tests this year. The talks come after U.S. and NATO officials announced the completion of a new U.S. ballistic missile defense site in Romania—a key element of a joint NATO system—that aims to protect Europeans against missiles from Iran but not from Russia. The two sites are part of an evolving U.S. global missile defense network.

The United States justifies multibillion-dollar investments in missile defense technology because it believes that the capability to defend against ballistic missiles will, overall, help reduce nuclear risks to the United States and its allies in the twenty-first century. This conclusion is at the core of the current U.S. missile defense posture, known as the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR), and many believe it still holds. But its three basic premises are being challenged by a shift in the strategic environment.

Vladimir Putin, Godfather of Kurdistan?

March 1, 2016

If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thought last November that by downing a Russian Su-24 bomber near the Turkish-Syrian border he could contain Vladimir Putin’s Middle Eastern ambitions, he is certainly regretting that now. An incensed Vladimir Putin vowed that Turkey would come to rue its actions. He warned that Russia would not settle its accounts with Turkey with mere economic sanctions, adding, “We know what we need to do.”

What Putin meant is becoming clear. Earlier this month, in what can only be described as a menacing signal to Ankara, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (or PYD) formally opened a representative office in Moscow, its first in a foreign country. Meanwhile, inside Syria, the PYD’s armed wing has been using Russian arms and Russian air support to aggressively expand the amount of territory it controls along the Syrian-Turkish border. Ankara is alarmed, and rightly so. Despite possessing its own acronym, the PYD is a subsidiary of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistane), or PKK, which is currently intensifying the insurgency it is waging in Turkey’s southeast. There, PKK activists have declared Kurdish self-rule and PKK fighters are holing up in cities, digging trenches and taking on Turkish security forces with everything from snipers and rocket propelled grenades to improvised explosive devices.

Listen Up, America: Don't Get Cuba Wrong Again

March 1, 2016

As President Obama prepares for his historic trip to Cuba, I offer some impressions from my own visit, just completed. During a ten-day trip to four Cuban cities, I found a country impatient for change and anxious for good relations with the United States—a country that has been mismanaged to a condition far below its potential by a government that is way out of its depth, but also one that deserves a better neighbor than the United States has been in the past.

Visit Cuba today, and your first surprise will be the warmth of your reception. Female immigration officers in eccentric uniforms—short skirts and black fishnet stockings—conspiratorially ask if you would prefer them not to stamp your passport; they have heard that coming here might cause you trouble when you return home. Waiters, taxi drivers, ordinary people of all sorts, but government officials too: everyone conveys their relief that the long freeze finally seems to be ending, and their concern that the U.S. election might reverse things (neither Cruz nor Rubio has much of a fan club here).

Russian High-Tech Weaponry Turning the Tide in Syria

Robert Fisk
February 29, 2016

Syria civil war: State-of-the-art technology gives President Assad’s army the edge

You can see the Syrian army’s spanking new Russian T-90 tanks lined up in their new desert livery scarcely 100 miles from Isis’s Syrian “capital” of Raqqa.

There are new Russian-made trucks alongside them, and a lot of artillery and – surely Isis’s spies are supposed to see this – plenty of Syrian soldiers walking beside the perimeter wire beside Russian soldiers wearing floppy military hats against the sun, the kind they used in the old days in the summer heat of Afghanistan in the 1980s. There’s even a Russian general based at the Isriyah military base, making sure that Syrian tank crews receive the most efficient training on the T-90s.

No, Russian ground troops are not going to fight Isis. That was never the intention. The Russian air force attacks Isis from the air; the Syrians, the Iranians, the Afghan Shia Muslims from north-eastern Afghanistan, the Iraqi Shias and several hundred Pakistani Shias must attack Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra on the ground. 

Israel’s Strategic Vulnerability

By George Friedman 
Feb. 25, 2016 

A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics. 

Chaos in the Middle East may serve Israel well now, but any solution will create new tensions. 

The strength of Israel’s position in the Middle East has been the subject of a recent spate of articles. That strength is clear, for the moment. The question, however, is how durable it is. The current situation in Israel’s vicinity indeed makes it appear that Israel has an enormous advantage, but a more careful reading of the situation shows its position to be more brittle than meets the eye.

The argument of Israel’s strong strategic position is persuasive. The joint Israeli-Egyptian hammerlock on Gaza has constrained operations by Hamas and weakened its authority to some extent. This has not markedly strengthened the Palestinian National Authority, which has its own problems holding together a fractious Palestinian community on the West Bank. The recent wave of knife attacks against Israelis does not threaten Israel’s strategic position in any way.

Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel has proved to be among the most durable features of the region, even surviving the 2012-2013 government of Mohammed Morsi, led by the country’s largest Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. The relationship goes beyond neutrality to a degree of collaboration against the major powers in the region. Jordan remains under Israel’s strategic umbrella, an ally. Syria, which had been a major adversary of Israel, is so shattered by the civil war that, regardless of what emerges from the chaos, it will take at least a generation to recover. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has been severely weakened by its involvement in Syria, and is in no position to reopen conflict with Israel.

What Isn't Being Said About Guantanamo

By Jacob L. Shapiro 
Feb. 24, 2016 

A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics. 

The transformation of warfare raises difficult questions when it comes to international laws written in a bygone time. 

Before his term expires in less than a year, it appears U.S. President Barack Obama will try one last time to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Across the political spectrum, heated rhetoric makes Guantanamo appear more important than it is. Certainly, Guantanamo has become a political symbol used to justify various positions. But the significance of Guantanamo lies not in its symbolism, but rather in the more mundane truths it reveals about the weakness of the office of the U.S. presidency and the complexities of international law as applied to 21st century conflicts. 

Closing Guantanamo was one of Obama’s most famous campaign promises in 2008. On Obama’s second day in office, he signed an executive order stating that the detention facilities at Guantanamo should be closed within one year. Within a week, a military judge at Guantanamo rejected the executive order. Six months later, a Congress controlled by Obama’s own Democratic Party passed legislation intended to prevent Obama from transferring Guantanamo detainees either to the U.S. or abroad. Guantanamo remained open.

An Infantryman’s Defense Of The A-10

By Scott Beauchamp 
February 29, 2016
Source Link

The A-10 Warthog is battle tested and soldier approved, this infantryman says. 

I admit it, as a former infantryman, I’m a partial to the A-10 Thunderbolt II. I don’t mind that it’s ugly. I don’t mind that it entered service all the way back in the mid 1970s, making it older than me. I don’t mind that it’s slow, basically a flying 30 mm cannon sheathed in a 1,200-pound titanium “bathtub.” In fact, these are exactly the things that endear the A-10 to grunts like me. It’s our plane. It was made for us and us alone.

The Warthog was, is, and will be for the foreseeable future the premier close-ground support plane. And all the things that I mentioned above — its simplicity and weight — are what make it so effective at its job. The titanium armor encasing the plane makes it impervious to high-explosive and armor-piercing projectiles up to 23 mm. It can even take a few hits from 57 mm rounds. Parts of the cockpit interior is covered with a nylon spall to protect the pilot from fragmentation. In other words, this is a plane meant to fly low and slow, mix it up in close quarters with ground targets that can return fire, and get its hands a little bit dirty. The A-10 is notorious for being able to take damage and keep flying. It’s battle tested and soldier approved.

Return of the X-Planes

By Tamir Eshel
Feb 25, 2016 

NASA is planning to embark next year on a bold and exciting research program aimed to reduce fuel use, emissions, and noise. NASA Aeronautics plans to achieve these exciting goals exploring ‘New Aviation Horizons’, a 10 year research program that will changing the way aircraft are designed, built and operated, in the air and on the ground. Part of the plan is reviving the agency’s “X-planes” experimental aircraft program.

Thanks to recent extraordinary results coming out of six years of technology demonstrations done with other government agencies, industry and academia, NASA Aeronautics feels confident to enter X-plane territory.

The demos included advancements in lightweight composite materials that are needed to create revolutionary aircraft structures, an advanced fan design to improve propulsion and reduce noise in jet engines, designs to reduce noise from wing flaps and landing gear, and shape-changing wing flaps, and even coatings to prevent bug residue buildup on wings. Researchers predict the tech could save the airline industry $255 billion accrued during the first 25 years after being put into service.

Step One in Getting America Back on Track: Tax Reform

March 1, 2016

While this country’s economy continues along its infuriatingly slow growth pace, Washington seems incapable of mounting policies that might improve the situation, actions that might raise living standards generally and, at the same time, narrow income inequality. There certainly are many measures Washington could take. The most promising from both economic and political standpoints is tax reform. If done right, it could address both the growth concerns that occupy thinking on the right side of the political divide and the questions of income inequality that occupy the attention of the left.

Tax reform, amazingly in today’s highly partisan milieu, has considerable hope of bipartisan support. All—Democrat and Republican, left-leaning and right-leaning—agree that the present code, both its corporate and its individual parts, is counter-productive, cumbersome, impenetrably complex, inequitable and growth-retarding. Even more significant, all, whether they prioritize equity or growth, see the remedy in broadening the base, largely by ridding the code of its layers of tax breaks, and reducing statutory rates. And indeed, past reform efforts have rallied bipartisan enthusiasms. They have failed sadly, because leadership, either in the White House or Congress, could not or would not muster the will to compromise over the details. Even so, a fundamental agreement has long been evident.


FEBRUARY 29, 2016

Amid the raging debate on cryptography, Apple CEO Tim Cook insisted, “You can’t have a backdoor that’s only for the good guys.” In other words, security sometimes means denying yourself a capability so that adversaries are less likely to gain it. Some policy options, such as unlocking the phone of a suspect, are blocked in order to preserve a more secure computing ecosystem.

This dynamic is familiar to most who follow the encryption debate, but much less attention is paid to the way it plays out more generally in cyber operations. In a recent academic study in Survival, I offer a framework for understanding the diffusion of cyber capabilities and tactics — how states and non-state actors borrow techniques or technology pioneered by other actors. As several recent examples illustrate, this diffusion is a defining trait of many cyber operations. It will not always be possible to avoid this diffusion, but states should, whenever possible, give preference to operations that minimize the risk.

Diffusion of Capabilities

The President’s National Cybersecurity Plan: What You Need to Know

FEBRUARY 9, 2016 

Here are a few answers to questions you might have about the President's new Cybersecurity National Action Plan.

I’m confident we can unleash the full potential of American innovation, and ensure our prosperity and security online for the generations to come.

Today, President Obama is releasing his final budget proposal of his Administration. It's a strong reflection of what investments he believes will move our country forward and keep our country and the American people safe.

A key part of that involves the strength of our nation's cybersecurity. From buying products, to running businesses, to chatting with the people we love, our online world has fundamentally reshaped the way we live our lives. But living in a digital age also makes us more vulnerable to malicious cyber activity.

We have to adapt to this national threat. That's why President Obama has worked for more than seven years to aggressively and comprehensively confront this challenge. So today, he is directing the Administration to implement a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) -- the capstone of our national cybersecurity efforts. 

So what's the CNAP all about? How will the President's plan help you protect your identity? What's he calling for in his budget? Here are a few answers to some questions Americans might have about the President's plan to strengthen our cybersecurity: 
What are the cybersecurity threats we currently face? 

A Better, Not Bigger, Military Budget

Given recent history, the next president can expect to face an even more unpredictable world than the one President Obama is dealing with. Russia, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, the Islamic State — the list of security challenges is daunting. It will require smart policy choices backed by a powerful military to protect American interests.

So far, the candidates have not sufficiently explained their approaches to military spending which, at $580 billion for 2016, is half of the federal discretionary budget. The toughest talk comes from the Republicans who lean dangerously toward a one-dimensional view of American strength that is over-reliant on an all-powerful military.

“I will make our military so big, powerful and strong that no one will mess with us,” Donald Trump says. But what does that mean? This is the guy who extolled the power of nuclear deterrence in a recent debate, but didn’t know it relies on three types of forces — missiles, planes and submarines.

Like his rivals for the party’s nomination — Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich — Mr. Trump supports lifting the caps on the defense budget. Some of the candidates act as if these fiscal restraints were imposed by Mr. Obama, when in fact they resulted from a 2011 compromise between the White House and the Republican-led Congress. The caps are overly restrictive, but they have helped rein in out-of-control military spending.

Revealed: America's Secret War Plan to Invade Canada

March 1, 2016

The end of a war only rarely settles the central questions that started the conflict. Indeed, many wars do not “end” in the traditional sense; World War II, for example, stretched on for years in parts of Eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

Even as the guns fell silent along the Western Front in 1918, the United States and the United Kingdom began jockeying for position. Washington and London bitterly disagreed on the nature of the settlements in Europe and Asia, as well as the shape of the postwar naval balance. In late 1920 and early 1921,these tensions reached panic levels in Washington, London and especially Ottawa.

The general exhaustion of war, combined with the Washington Naval Treaty, succeeded in quelling these questions and setting the foundation for the great Anglo-American partnership of the twentieth century. But what if that hadn’t happened? What if the United States and United Kingdom had instead gone to war in the spring of 1921?

The Liberation of Canada

The Man Who Punched Christopher Hitchens

27 February 2016
Source Link

Adonis Nasr, the Lebanese facsist who attacked me and Christopher Hitchens on the streets of Beirut in 2009, has been killed fighting for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

Nasr was an intelligence officer in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, an imperialist gang of Assad enthusiasts who brazenly sport a spinning swastika on their flag and wish to conquer Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Cyprus and forcibly attach them all to Damascus.

Here’s my account of what happened when Hitchens and I violently encountered Nasr and his goon squad in Beirut.

A Syrian-sponsored militia once attacked me and Christopher Hitchens on the streets of Beirut.

Yes, that Christopher Hitchens. The famous polemical journalist who went after Henry Kissinger, Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton and even God himself with hammer and tongs. Many considered him the greatest living writer in the English language before esophageal cancer killed him in 2011.

An Infantryman’s Defense Of The A-10

February 29, 2016

The A-10 Warthog is battle tested and soldier approved, this infantryman says. 

I admit it, as a former infantryman, I’m a partial to the A-10 Thunderbolt II. I don’t mind that it’s ugly. I don’t mind that it entered service all the way back in the mid 1970s, making it older than me. I don’t mind that it’s slow, basically a flying 30 mm cannon sheathed in a 1,200-pound titanium “bathtub.” In fact, these are exactly the things that endear the A-10 to grunts like me. It’s our plane. It was made for us and us alone.

The Warthog was, is, and will be for the foreseeable future the premier close-ground support plane. And all the things that I mentioned above — its simplicity and weight — are what make it so effective at its job. The titanium armor encasing the plane makes it impervious to high-explosive and armor-piercing projectiles up to 23 mm. It can even take a few hits from 57 mm rounds. Parts of the cockpit interior is covered with a nylon spall to protect the pilot from fragmentation. In other words, this is a plane meant to fly low and slow, mix it up in close quarters with ground targets that can return fire, and get its hands a little bit dirty. The A-10 is notorious for being able to take damage and keep flying. It’s battle tested and soldier approved.

India Has Almost Completed Building a Nuclear Triad Force

Nc Bipindra 
February 26, 2016 

India Nears Completion of Nuclear Triad With Armed Submarine 

India is close to becoming the world’s sixth country to put a nuclear-armed submarine into operation, a move that would give it a leg up on neighboring Pakistan and intensify a race for more underwater weapons in Asia. 

The 6,000-ton Arihant, developed over the past three decades under a secret government program, is completing its final trials in the Bay of Bengal, according to a senior navy officer who declined to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak about the program. The vessel will be operated by the navy yet remain under the direct control of India’s Nuclear Command Authority headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

The deployment would complete India’s nuclear triad, allowing it to deliver atomic weapons from land, sea and air. Only the U.S. and Russia are considered full-fledged nuclear triad powers now, with China and India’s capabilities still largely untested. 

India’s move may prod China to bolster its undersea arsenal and assist nuclear-armed allies Pakistan and North Korea in developing similar technologies. That risks potentially more dangerous altercations in Asia’s waters, where territorial disputes have contributed to a region-wide naval buildup. 
Tensions Rising 

When the Enemy Is Everywhere: The Rise and Fall of the ‘Kill Box’ in USMilitary Strategy

FEBRUARY 28, 2016

Once a hallmark of state-on-state conflict, simply finding oneself inside of an American kill box in today's counterterrorism wars is enough to be retroactively defined as guilty.

In laymen’s terms, “kill boxes” sound like torture devices. In military jargon, they are almost incomprehensible; as defined in the Department of Defense Dictionary, they are “a three-dimensional area reference that enables timely, effective coordination and control and facilitates rapid attacks.” But despite their ominous name and complicated technical definition, kill boxes are actually relatively simple in concept: They are three-dimensional cubes of space on a battlefield in which members and allies of the United States military are completely free to open fire.

Scott Beauchamp is a veteran and writer. His work has appeared in The Baffler, The Daily Beast, and Bookforum. Full Bio