4 May 2016

*** India, We Are Fighting Our Own Disabled Soldiers

Major Navdeep Singh

Most nations recognize the inherent stress and strain of military service and its detrimental effect on the health and daily lives of soldiers. India does too, but only in theory, not in practice. Lip service galore, zilch on-ground support.

Not many must be aware, contrary to popular perception, the life expectancy of soldiers is lower than their civilian counterparts. The reason is not far to seek. Living in a regimented lifestyle, most of the year away from their families and at times under the shadow of the gun, 24 hours covered with a tough disciplinary law, soldiers face unique stressful conditions which result in aggravating and accentuating even regular diseases and ailments. It doesn’t take much enlightenment to understand that soldiers face higher stress levels than ordinary citizens living with their families since the former are away from commune living and hence cannot adequately cope up with domestic commitments and stressors, but in a strange and ironic kind of incorrigibility, it is the defence establishment itself which is not ready to accept this proposition which is not rocket science but common sense.

Medical specialists all over the world recognize higher stress and strain in uniformed forces. All democracies endorse this. Disability Rules in India also state the same. The Prime Minister thinks on the same lines too. The Defence Minister also feels so. The apex military medical body also speaks the same. The Courts, including the Supreme Court, have directed thus. But still many of our disabled soldiers are released from service and sometimes even thrown out of service on medical grounds, without pension or disability pension, thereby denying them a life of basic dignity, on the pretext that their disabilities were declared ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by military service’ by military medical boards- a blatant disregard of practical realities to say the least.

The Saudi Vision 2030: How India can make the most of it

By Monish Gulati
03 May , 2016

The Saudi Arabian government this week unveiled a long-term economic blueprint for adapting to a low-oil-price future. The plan, reportedly the brainchild of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is titled ‘Vision 2030,’ and includes regulatory, budget and policy changes that will be implemented over the next 15 years with the aim of making the kingdom less reliant on crude oil and providing it a “prosperous and sustainable economic future.

The vision 2030 will lead to an opening up of Saudi Arabia, not only to foreign investment, but to the world at large.

It is to be noted that the steep fall in oil prices is the main driver for the Vision 2030 to come about, even as it is being claimed that the plan “was not created only” to face this challenge. The Saudi government, which had received 73 percent of its revenue from oil last year, plans to raise non-oil government revenue from 163 billion riyals to 1 trillion riyals ($266.6 billion) by 2030. The first milestone of the vision: “The Kingdom can live in 2020 without any dependence on oil.”

Vision 2030

Lessons from the Brussels Outrage: The Price of Appeasement

By Brig Deepak Sinha
03 May , 2016

Finally, the attack on Brussels, and the earlier ones on Paris, has brought about a glimmer of realization among many Europeans that they are in the midst of a war, which while quite not like the last World War, is likely to be no less prolonged or horrific. It was certainly not the kind of war they envisaged, having earlier been conditioned to expect an assault by Soviet hordes, which they hoped to combat jointly with American help, and the threat of nuclear Armageddon. Fortunately for them, the world’s largest standing army remained standing quietly while the Soviet Union imploded around it.To their utter surprise the armies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were without a job and had to look further afield from Afghanistan to Libya to keep them in business as usual.

…neither the armies of NATO nor the structures that unite Europe are organized to deal with this new existential threat. All of this comes at a particularly bad time as Europe finds itself at the brink of an economic catastrophe after years of recession.

Quite unsurprisingly, their subsequent interference abroad, along with follies from their imperialistic past have suddenly come home to haunt them. That initiative went completely awry and they now find themselves facing an implacable enemy from within, unwilling to give any quarter and wholly bent on the total destruction of life as they know it.

Borrowed knowledge - There is a problem in Indian research in the social sciences

Shubhashis Gangopadhyay 

In a recent meeting on setting a research agenda in an institution, there was a suggestion to find out how, and whether, the top-level bureaucracy, consisting of the national administrative services, affects governance. There was some opposition to this as it was felt that there are less than 5,000 people in the Indian Administrative Service at any point of time, and that it is highly unlikely that so few can affect the lives of a billion-plus people in a highly diverse society. The thing that struck me as odd was that the opposition did not have any evidence either way about it. It was also odd that a number of researchers in foreign universities have recently put out papers addressing this specific issue. These are researchers outside India, not all of them of Indian origin, who think it worthwhile to ask this question but our experts have already concluded that it cannot be an important issue to study.

This is a big problem in Indian research in the social sciences. There is no systematic generation of knowledge that can provide a basis for inputs in policymaking. Almost all funding in social science research goes towards the preparation of policy briefs but very little resource is put into developing the knowledge base on which such policy briefs are based. The government, through its ministries and departments, issues calls for advice on what it should do. Given that the government is always short on time, these outputs are expected in three to six months. It is obviously difficult for researchers in universities, who are also expected to teach, to come out with anything of value in such a short period of time. So whoever gets the funding, mainly so-called 'think tanks', put together something derived from what others have done in other countries and apply them to the Indian context. Most of these 'reports' are no more than literature surveys, with some quickly done empirical surveys, and a set of conclusions in keeping with policies implemented in one, two, or three other countries. Even when the reports go beyond this, they are mostly drawn from the knowledge about India generated by researchers outside India.

India’s Secularism Is Anti-Hindu, BJP Govt Should Remove This Anomaly

May 2, 2016

In India, secularism means the policy and practice of the state discriminating against Hinduism 
Besides anti-Hindu discrimination by the courts, state governments take the revenue gained from Hindu temple offerings and use it for their own purposes, which may include funding minority religious causes 

India is the only country in the world today where the principle of secularism is invoked for regulating the practices and taking funds from the majority religion, while protecting and subsidising minority religions.

Secularism in the West originally refers to a separation of church and state, rejecting church interference with state policies. Churches should not dictate state policies and the state should not dictate religious policies.

In India, on the contrary, the principle of secularism is used to justify state and judicial interference in the religious sphere – yet for one religion only, the Hindu. 

India’s judiciary makes decrees regulating Hindu religious festivals and deciding who is allowed into Hindu temples, but it does not regulate minority religious practices in the same manner. Besides anti-Hindu discrimination by the courts, state governments take the revenue gained from Hindu temple offerings and use it for their own purposes, which may include funding minority religious causes. 

This is in spite of the fact that minority religions inside India represent majority religions outside of India and receive considerable foreign help, including through numerous NGOs. It provides minority religions a financial and political power far beyond their actual numbers.
Secularism in the West

** Lets get something right about Vijay Mallya.


Mallya Of Course, But What About All the Big Sharks Circling the Banks

Let’s get something right about Vijay Mallya. The popular narrative is that he milked the banks for Rs.9000 crores to support his hedonistic lifestyle in India and abroad, and took off when the debt burden became excessive or no more money was forthcoming to evergreen his debts. But we seem to forget that he enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle much before Kingfisher Airlines and he had much money to spread around even before Kingfisher Airlines. 

He lavished money on the Janata Dal’s of Ramakrishna Hegde and Deve Gowda, the BJP of Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani much before Kingfisher. The BJP itself, that is the party and its MLA’s, took over Rs.100 crores from him for his two Rajya Sabha elections, and the Deve Gowda rump of the Janata Dal probably more. The Congress never allotted him votes, surplus or otherwise, but it does not mean that the Congress and other parties did not benefit from Mallya. And then lets not forget MJ Akbar. 

The Rs.9000 crores he is now found owing to the PSU Banks and others is the money he lost on Kingfisher Airlines. I understand the loan money is about Rs.4000 crores and the rest is interest and the interest on interest. The banks just kept lending him money to evergreen its loans. This was not possible without political and bureaucratic support. Even if one little Joint Secretary or one little MP or one little bank manager red flagged the growing stain of red on Kingfisher Airlines debts, the bleeding would have been staunched. Mallya just did not milk the banks to keep Kingfisher Airlines afloat; he also milked his own companies such as United Breweries and United Spirits to support its flight into the deep red. 


MAY 2, 2016

The latest storming of the Iraqi parliament is one of the most significant political events in Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown in 2003. This process, which culminated in the weekend’s dramatic events, began in March of this year when the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr turned a flagging protest movement into a major national force, by virtue of his personal intervention. By the end of March, at the head of this movement, Sadr himself successfully walked into the Green Zone, where security forces welcomed him with open arms. Rather than reprimanding him for what would otherwise be considered trespassing, the Iraqi general in charge of security kissed his hand — a symbolic gesture of submission. Sitting in the Green Zone, he pushed Abadi to pursue a cabinet re-shuffle and set a 10-day ultimatum.

In April, the prime minister failed three times to pass a technocratic cabinet in parliament. With each failure, the protest movement grew increasingly impatient. Following Abadi’s second failed attempt, which was heavily influenced by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Sadr ordered his MPs, who make up the Ahrar bloc, to stage a sit-in inside parliament. This sit-in, which Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish MPs later joined, administered an extra-ordinary parliamentary session and obtained enough votes to sack speaker Salim al-Jabouri. However, Jabouri returned to his seat to administer a third attempt for cabinet reshuffle on April 30. Still, the parliament again failed to pass Abadi’s list of names for a technocratic cabinet and instead adjourned for a 10-day recess. At this point, an impatient Sadr determined it was time for a drastic show of force, resulting in the weekend’s storming of the parliament, where protestors, carrying Iraqi flags rather than guns, were welcomed and kissed by Green Zone security.

Green Beret officer blames ‘moral cowardice’ for Doctors Without Borders strike

April 29 

In this Oct. 16, 2015, photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of the organization’s hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. (Najim Rahim/AP) Declassified military documents released Friday detail not only how the United States mistakenly struck a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan last year but also frustrations among Special Operations troops.

The strike, which killed at least 30 people at the hospital, occurred in the city of Kunduz, which the Taliban had seized in previous days and U.S. Special Operations troops were working alongside Afghan forces to take back.

One officer, whose name, rank and unit were redacted from his witness statement, launched into a diatribe in which he blamed what happened on senior leaders. The officer wrote that he was going to provide unsolicited opinions, and that “these words may well be the greatest contribution of my career for one simple reason: the words I speak are the truth.”

The officer wrote that the enemies of the Kunduz operation were “moral cowardice” and a “profound lack of strategy.” Army Green Berets on the ground in the city at the time asked for guidance “no fewer than three times” during the multiday battle and heard nothing other than crickets — “though those were hard to hear over the gunfire,” he alleged.
“How have we as a force, as a group of officers, become so lost from the good lessons that our mentors taught us,” the officer asked. “I will tell you how. It is a decrepit state that grows out of the expansion of moral cowardice, careerism and compromise devoid of principle, exchanged for cheap personal gain. We owe the man on the ground more than that, because for him, the decisions that he makes hopefully lands him somewhere between the judge’s gavel and the enemy’s bullet.”

Is Bangladesh Lost to Islamism?

By Dr. A Rahman
May 1st, 2016 

Bangladesh may not be a big country, either geographically or economically or even politically, but it is strategically a significant country. 

A mob of Bangladeshi Islamists (Photo: © Reuters)

Bangladesh may not be a big country, either geographically or economically or even politically, but it is strategically a significant country as far as religiosity is concerned. It is significant because it sits more or less in the moderate section of the Islamic religiosity, maintaining its own culture, language and tradition, away from the Arab culture and tradition.

If it verges into the ultra-religious section of Islamism, then the hope of salvaging the country from the depth of Wahhabism will be very difficult indeed. However, as things stand at the moment, Bangladesh is gradually and irretrievably sliding toward Islamic fundamentalism.

The spate of killing in Bangladesh in the name of religion has been accelerating for some time now. Whereas in the whole of 2015, there were four high profile religious murders – Avijit Roy, Niladri Chattopadhyay Niloy, Ananta Bijoy and Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, in April 2016 alone there were four murders - Nazim, Siddique, Xulhaz and Tonoy. There were more than 32 murders over the past three years, all in the name of Islamic fundamentalism.

The ‘Third’ US Offset Strategy and Europe’s ‘Anti-access’ Challenge


Over the last two decades, a number of countries (most notably China, Russia and Iran) have been developing so-called anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, such as ballistic and cruise missiles, offensive cyber-weapons, electronic warfare, etc. The development of A2/AD capabilities by non-Western countries undermines the foundations of US power projection and global military-technological supremacy. In order to overcome, or at least mitigate, the impending A2/AD challenge, the US Department of Defense (DoD) began to roll out its so-called ‘third’ offset strategy in late 2014. The strategy aims to bring about innovative operational concepts and technologies and spur new doctrinal and organisational debates. This article assesses which of the operational concepts and capabilities informing current US discussions on offset may be relevant in the context of the A2/AD challenges Europeans face on their eastern ‘flank‘ and in their ‘extended southern neighbourhood‘, and which may not. Europeans must grapple with the same conceptual puzzle as the US: how to strike the right balance between defeating A2/AD capabilities and hedging against them, i.e. through alternative strategies that are less dependent on unhindered access and resort to asymmetric forms of warfare. However, they must take into account the geographical features of their eastern flank and extended southern neighbourhood, the level of technological maturity of their challengers, and their own military-technological prowess and political limitations. This suggests a somewhat different approach to offsetting A2/AD than that adopted by the US.

Five Years After Bin Laden: CIA Director Says Killing ISIS Chief Would Not Impact Terror Group

May 2, 2016

Five years after bin Laden killing, CIA chief eyes IS head

Washington (AFP) - Ahead of the five-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, CIA chief John Brennan said Sunday that taking out the head of the Islamic State group would have a “great impact.”

US special forces killed Al-Qaeda founder bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

As his agency live-tweeted the events as they unfolded five years ago, the CIA director warned that Al-Qaeda remained a threat and that IS was not just an organization but a phenomenon.

“We have destroyed a large part of Al-Qaeda. It’s not completely eliminated. So we have to stay focused on what it can do,” Brennan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” talk show.

“Now, with the new phenomenon of (IS), this is going to challenge us for years to come,” he added.

Asked if removing IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from action was as important as the Bin Laden get, Brennan, who does not often do interviews, was direct.

“He is important, and we will destroy ISIL; I have no doubt in my mind. We have to remove the leadership that directs the organization to carry out these horrific attacks,” he said, using an alternate acronym for the IS group.

“If we got Baghdadi, I think it would have a great impact on the organization. And it will be felt by them,” he added.

Five Years After Bin Laden: People Not Happy About CIA Live Tweeting Death of Bin Laden

May 2, 2016

Bin Laden death: CIA panned for ‘live-tweeting’ raid on anniversary

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been criticised for live-tweeting the killing of Osama Bin Laden as if it were happening today.

It has shared details of the mission that led to America’s most-wanted man being found five years ago in Pakistan.

But reaction has been largely negative, with one Twitter user calling the move “grotesque and embarrassing”.

Others posted memes and gifs of people rolling their eyes and putting their heads in their hands.

The CIA’s usual tweets mostly concern historical trivia and artefacts.

Image copyright @CIA

The CIA’s first 'live tweet’, hashtagged #UBLRaid, begins: “1:25 pm EDT-@POTUS, DCIA Panetta, & JSOC commander Admiral McRaven approve execution of op in Abbottabad.”

Leave Root Causes Aside—Destroy the ISIS ‘State’

Apr 29, 2016 

Of course it would be daunting to solve the conflicts the Islamic State feeds on. But that isn’t, or shouldn’t be, the mission.

Smoke rises from an Islamic State vehicle near al-Shadadi, Syria. Rodi Said / Reuters 

Stephen Biddle and Jacob Shapiro’s recent Atlantic article, “America Can’t Do Much About ISIS,” advocated containing the Islamic State and questioned America’s ability to destroy the group. The first problem with this analysis is how the authors define “destroy ISIS.” They compare the amorphous fight against al-Qaeda with the one against ISIS, discussing how to get at the roots of its terrorist ideology and fix the ungoverned space that provides its sanctuary. This leads them repeatedly to conflate destroying ISIS in its current form as a quasi-state with the monumental task of resolving the Syrian Civil War and the Sunni-Shia split in Iraq. To the contrary, if the mission is properly defined, America can destroy ISIS, and must.

Defeating ISIS-as-state is not dependent upon solving Syria as a social, historical, cultural, religious, and governance project, let alone doing the same with Iraq. ISIS feeds on the conflicts in both countries and makes the situation in both worse. But it is possible to defeat ISIS as a “state” and as a military-economic “power”—that is, deal with the truly threatening part— without having to solve the Syrian and Iraqi crises or eliminate ISIS as a set of terrorist cells or source of ideological inspiration. Of course, even if ISIS is destroyed as a state, we would still have the Syrian Civil War and Iraqi disunity, but we have all that now, along with ISIS, which presents its own challenges to the region and the West.

NATO Commander Calls for More Intelligence Coverage of Russia

Julian E. Barnes
May 2, 2016

NATO’s Breedlove Calls for Sharper Focus on Russia Ahead of Departure

MONS, Belgium—The U.S. has too few intelligence assets focused on the threat from Russia and should concentrate its technical capabilities on Moscow’s growing military might, NATO’s departing supreme allied commander said.

The U.S. has begun to build up the number of intelligence analysts examining Russia, which stood at 13,000 at the height of the Cold War before dipping to a low point of just 1,000 three years ago, said Gen. Philip Breedlove, the top military commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in an interview.

But Gen. Breedlove said the U.S. needs more technical intelligence assets, the kind of spy satellites the U.S. uses to keep an eye on both troop movements and terrorist training camps, focused on the threat from Russia.

“We see that Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership but has chosen a path of belligerence,” Gen. Breedlove said. “We need to readdress where we’re heading.”

Gen. Breedlove will step down this month after three years in the top military job at NATO, a time in which he has overseen the transformation of the alliance from one focused on expeditionary capabilities, like in Afghanistan, to the defense of Europe in the face of renewed aggression from Russia.

Gen. Breedlove spent a large portion of his military career in Europe, beginning as a young captain and returning as a four-star general to lead first the U.S. Air Force in Europe and then all of NATO’s forces.

Protests Spread Across Kazakhstan

By Lili Bayer
May 2, 2016

Unrest in Central Asia could signal regional destabilization.

Nearly 30 years ago, in December 1986, several thousand young Kazakhs took to the streets in protest over the appointment of an ethnic Russian, Gennady Kolbin, as new head of the then-Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic’s branch of the Communist Party. The protests spread to several towns before Soviet security forces violently cracked down on the demonstrators. The 1986 protests in Kazakhstan are remembered today by outsiders as a relatively minor episode in the lead up to the momentous fall of the Soviet Union five years later. And yet, it was these demonstrations that were among the first signals that a significant change was underway in the Soviet Union.

Large-scale protests in Central Asia today are relatively rare. Most of the region’s regimes use a variety of tools, from crackdowns to patronage networks, to prevent potential unrest. Nevertheless, Central Asia is slowly destabilizing. The region is at the crossroads of several interrelated crises. To the north, Russia is experiencing significant financial challenges. To the east, China’s economy is slowing down. In the south, Afghanistan remains highly unstable, while in the west, the Middle East is rife with civil wars and growing rivalries. Central Asia is reeling from the impact of surrounding crises: the region’s exposure to Russia and China, as well a heavy reliance on commodity exports, have caused currencies to plunge, remittances to drop and Central Asian migrants to return home from abroad, jobless.


2016: Primer

Apr 20 2016 

This year's issue of the ORF Primer discusses eight topics and situations India must continue engaging with in the coming months and beyond as it defines its needs and interests and finds its place in the international order.

Read online here or download pdf from the link provided.

Nota Bene: On Strategies and Moments

Ritika Passi 

Is India Illiberal?

Ashok Malik 

The Return of History

Harsh Pant 

The Middle East: Not (Yest) as Post-Westphalian Order
Sumitha N. Kutty 

BRICS to Rebuild the House

Samir Saran and Abhijnan Rej 

The Lure of RTAs: Will India or Won't It?

German army prepares for cyberwar

By Johannes Stern 
2 May 2016 

Germany’s Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) are massively stepping up their capability in the field of electronic warfare. Last Tuesday, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU, Christian Democratic Union) issued a “general order” that provides for the establishment of a new and separate department in the defence ministry and the establishment of a military organization for cyberwar.

With an Inspector General at its head, the new unit will have the de facto status of a new service within the Bundeswehr. It will be led from a Cyber and Information Command (KdoCIR) in Bonn, with around 13,500 staff (unofficial figures already speak of up to 20,000 cyber warriors).

Its establishment will be carried out in two stages. According to the order of the day, “a new department Cyber/IT (CIT) will be established by the fourth quarter of 2016 with bases in Bonn and Berlin,” and then “by the second quarter 2017, a new and sixth military unit for Cyber and Information Resources (CIR).”

According to the official defence ministry website, the aim is “to gather together the tasks of cyber, IT, military intelligence, geo-information and operative communications.” The plans go back “to the work of an establishment team, which the minister had ordered last year to make the Bundeswehr future-proof in cyberspace.” The team was led by Deputy Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Lieutenant General Markus Kneip, and the Commissioner for Strategic Defence Control, Gundbert Scherf.

While von der Leyen is seeking to justify the establishment of the new cyber department by citing “the protection of Germany and its citizens,” the official “final report on the Cyber and Information Resource” by Kneip and Scherf makes clear what is really at stake: the formation of a powerful department to conduct offensive cyberwarfare.

The Collapse of the Old Oil Order

April 29, 2016

This article originally appeared in TomDispatch.

Sunday, April 17th was the designated moment. The world's leading oil producers were expected to bring fresh discipline to the chaotic petroleum market and spark a return to high prices. Meeting in Doha, the glittering capital of petroleum-rich Qatar, the oil ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with such key non-OPEC producers as Russia and Mexico, were scheduled to ratify a draft agreement obliging them to freeze their oil output at current levels. In anticipation of such a deal, oil prices had begun to creep inexorably upward, from $30 per barrel in mid-January to $43 on the eve of the gathering. But far from restoring the old oil order, the meeting ended in discord, driving prices down again and revealing deep cracks in the ranks of global energy producers.

It is hard to overstate the significance of the Doha debacle. At the very least, it will perpetuate the low oil prices that have plagued the industry for the past two years, forcing smaller firms into bankruptcy and erasing hundreds of billions of dollars of investments in new production capacity. It may also have obliterated any future prospects for cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in regulating the market. Most of all, however, it demonstrated that the petroleum-fueled world we've known these last decades -- with oil demand always thrusting ahead of supply, ensuring steady profits for all major producers -- is no more. Replacing it is an anemic, possibly even declining, demand for oil that is likely to force suppliers to fight one another for ever-diminishing market shares.

The Road to Doha

Germany: Do Terrorists Want to Target Europe’s Nuclear Facilities?

April 29, 2016

German newspapers reported this month that documents about a German nuclear facility were found at the Brussels apartment of alleged Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam. However, German authorities quickly denied the existence of such material. 

According to news service RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND), documents relating to the Jülich Research Center, which sits about 20 miles from the Belgian border in North Rhine-Westphalia, were found in Abdeslam’s apartment in Molenbeek (RND, April 13). Among this supposed trove of documents was a photograph of the nuclear facility’s CEO, Wolfgang Marquardt. Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency—the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV)—briefed politicians in the strictest confidence following the discovery, RND reported. The BfV denied there had been any such meeting or that the documents even existed (The Jerusalem Post, April 14). 

RND, which supplies 30 German newspapers with content, based its report on unnamed sources in a parliamentary committee. However reliable those sources, there is a real fear that Europe’s nuclear facilities could be vulnerable. In the police raids that followed the Brussels attacks, Belgian authorities discovered dozens of hours of secret video footage of the director of Belgium’s nuclear research program supposedly filmed by Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, two brothers involved in the attacks (La Dernière Heure, March 25). Meanwhile, a report from the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation distributed in March acknowledged for the first time that Britain’s 15 operational nuclear facilities are potentially at risk from a terrorist threat (Independent, March 26). 

ARMY Magazine Volume 66, Number 5

By Rick Maze

Listed below are selections from our May 2016 issue. To read all the articles in ARMY magazine, join AUSA and receive a paper subscription as part of your membership.
Visit the ARMY Magazine Archives for online access to previous issues.

Just as the U.S. was turning its attention back to Europe to face the threat posed by Russian aggression, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un served up three reminders why the Asia-Pacific Theater is just as complex and dangerous as the rest of the world.

Cover Photo: A rusty sign in the Demilitarized Zone marks the border between North and South Korea.
U.S. Army/Pak Chin-u

Budget Indecision Leaves a Restless Army
By Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA Ret.

Europe Needs Top-Notch NCOs
By Command Sgt. Maj. Jessie C. Harris Jr.
NCOs, the backbone of the Army for more than 240 years, are having to step up their game in the multinational, multifaceted environment of modern Europe.

Brainstorm: Soliciting Variety of Ideas
Yields Better Results
By Maj. Wayne Heard, USA Ret.
Brainstorming is a valuable technique when an organization must develop the plan for a large-scale or complex project. It helps generate ideas, solutions and action steps to inform the venture.

Army wants to link all UAVs on the battlefield

April 29, 2016 

The Army is conceptualizing an “ecosystem” framework tying all future unmanned aircraft systems together on the battlefield, according to the service’s Training and Doctrine Command capability manager for UAS.

A draft document outlining initial capabilities that establishes what is needed for a family of UAS in the 2020 to 2035 time frame and beyond is circulating through the Army staff, Col. Thomas von Eschenbach told Defense News.

A key piece of the capabilities document would establish what the service is calling “a scalable control interface” that simplifies the coordination of UAS on the battlefield and is easy to use. Most Army UAS types have separate control stations.

The most important part of establishing a family of systems for the future is “how we [are] defining not necessarily what unmanned systems do,” von Eschenbach said, “but it really defines for us how we want to operate unmanned systems from that scalable control interface. I think that was a thing that was missing in the past, what we didn’t really think about.”

Beyond that the Army is still considering what UAS it needs in the battlefield of the future, what it will want these UAS to do to meet its missions in a more expeditionary and access-denied environment and what technology is out there to bring more capability to the aircraft.

ANALYSIS: US declares cyberwar on IS, but what will it attack?

Graeme Baker
1 May 2016
Source Link

The Pentagon has vowed to 'take out' IS on the internet. But analysts say the campaign will be far more nuanced, and part of wider action

It was a bold and provocative statement: Ashton Carter, the US defence chief, told a Senate committee that the US was going to war with the Islamic State group on a new front - cyberspace.

"The objectives there are to interrupt ISIL command and control, interrupt its ability to move money around, interrupt its ability to tyrannise and control population, interrupt its ability to recruit externally," Carter told the Senate armed services committee on Thursday, referring to the Islamic State group.

"We're bombing them, and we're going to take out their internet as well."

The Islamic State group (IS) is infamous in its use of social media for propaganda and recruitment, releasing videos of its victories on the battlefield, its abhorrent treatment of captives and sending its message to supporters and enemies alike through magazines such as Dabiq.

Up until now, the public purpose of US cyber warfare has been dominated by objectives of defence and deterrence. The comments by Carter have brought US offensive operations, led by a new 5,000-strong force, out of the shadows.

But experts have raised questions about what the US's "Cybercom" organisation can do; "taking out" the internet, in the words of Carter, is relatively easy, but doing so would affect nearby allies and civilians.

Nor do all IS communications come from within the areas it controls in Syria and Iraq. The decentralised nature of the internet allows users to mask locations, hide identities, and circumvent direct attacks. Close one account, attack one domain, and they pop up again elsewhere; a game of whack-a-mole ensues.

The Cyber Threat: Cybercom’s War on ISIS

May 2, 2016 

Cyber attacks targets command and control, finances

The Pentagon last week disclosed additional details of its covert program of waging cyber warfare against the Islamic State terror group in Syria and Iraq.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford were asked to comment on the U.S. Cyber Command campaign—the first of its kind—at a Senate hearing Thursday.

“The objectives there are to interrupt ISIL command and control, interrupt its ability to move money around, interrupt its ability to tyrannize and control population, interrupt its ability to recruit externally,” Carter said. “All of that it does in a cyber-enabled way.”

“The overall effect we’re trying to achieve is virtual isolation,” Dunford said. “And this complements very much our physical actions on the ground, and the particular focus is external operations that might be conducted by ISIL.”

Carter explained that the U.S. and allied bombing campaign is being supplemented with the cyber attacks in Syria and Iraq. “And my feeling about that was and is very direct: We’re bombing them, and we’re going to take out their Internet as well.”

“In the modern world, that’s necessary to defeat an enemy, and we’ve got to use every tool that we have,” he said.

Silicon Valley's most secretive startup is scooping up Palo Alto offices

By Marisa Kendall, mkendall@bayareanewsgroup.com

PALO ALTO -- Silicon Valley's most secretive startup is quietly taking over downtown Palo Alto.

While tech giants such as Apple and Uber make a public show of opening new Bay Area headquarters, Palantir Technologies -- a software company known for mining confidential data for the National Security Agency, FBI and CIA -- is leasing building after building with little fanfare.

Ranked as the third most valuable private company in the United States, Palantir rents about 20 downtown Palo Alto buildings. As the $20 billion company expands, it has brought legions of techies to downtown restaurants and coffee shops. But what one local investor dubbed the "Palantirization" of Palo Alto also has sparked concerns that the big-data giant has left little room for smaller startups.

"They own Palo Alto," said local entrepreneur Joe Beninato, founder of Internet startup S8. "There are Palantir people all over the place in Palantir shirts and hoodies. It's kind of like downtown is their office."

Windows zero-day used in targeted attacks

Vulnerability used to download BlackEnergy trojan - as discussed during VB2014.

Today is going to be a busy day for system administrators: they were already on high alert following a rumoured vulnerability in SSLv3, and now they also know that a zero-day vulnerability has been discovered that affects all currently supported versions of Windows. The vulnerability will be patched as part of today's Patch Tuesday, and is alleged to be easy to exploit.

According to research from iSight Partners, the vulnerability (CVE-2014-4114) has been used as part of a cyber-espionage campaign that goes back at least five years. It was most recently used to download the 'BlackEnergy' trojan.

iSight Partners gave the campaign the name 'Sandworm', as well as a neat logo. The name comes from Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel Dune, to which a number of references are made in the malware. Despite the name, however, the campaign doesn't appear to use worms.

Weighing The Good And The Bad Of Autonomous Killer Robots In Battle

April 28, 2016

The robotic skull of a T-600 cyborg used in the movie Terminator 3. 
In his lab at George Mason University in Virginia, Sean Luke has all kinds of robots: big ones with wheels; medium ones that look like humans. And then he has a couple of dozen that look like small, metal boxes.

He and his team at the Autonomous Robotics Lab are training those little ones to work together without the help of a human.

In the future, Luke and his team hope those little robots can work like ants — in teams of hundreds, for example, to build houses, or help search for survivors after a disaster.

"These things are changing very rapidly and they're changing much faster than we sort of expected them to be changing recently," Luke says.

New algorithms and huge new databases are allowing robots to navigate complex spaces, and artificial intelligence just achieved a victory few thought would ever happen: A computer made by Google beat a professional human in a match of Go.

It doesn't take much imagination to conjure a future in which a swarm of those robots are used on a battlefield. And if that sounds like science fiction, it's not.

Earlier this month representatives from more than 82 countries gathered in Geneva to consider the repercussions of that kind of development. In the end, they emerged with a recommendation: The key U.N. body that sets norms for weapons of war should put killer robots on its agenda.

A 'Moral Threshold'


MAY 2, 2016

Last month’s attack by jihadi gunmen in the Ivoirian beach town of Grand Bassam did not come as a complete surprise to West Africa observers. In recent months, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) — which claimed responsibility for the Grand Bassam assault — and its al-Mourabitoun affiliate have shifted their lethal focus to hotels frequented by tourists and Western expatriates. Ostensibly in retaliation against African support of France’s ongoing efforts to counter jihadi groups in the Sahara-Sahel region, this change in targeting patterns already led to last November’sRadisson Blu siege in Bamako and the deadly attack at Ouagadougou’s Splendid Hotel and Cappuccino Cafe on January 15.

Still, the killings in Grand Bassam represent a troubling development. By striking a target approximately 1,400 kilometers removed from its traditional area of activity, AQIM demonstrated its reach. It is also significant that the incident took place near Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan. Previously, the economic hubs along West Africa’s coast appear to have been spared from the violence that AQIM has afflicted in parts of the Sahel. Some security analysts believe AQIM will likely attempt to follow up the Grand Bassam massacre with additional attacks in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as Senegal. A leaked security memo from the Ghana Immigration Service indicates that Accra officials consider the Ghanaian state and neighboring Togo to be also at risk of being violently targeted by AQIM.

America’s Army Can Be Smaller, Cheaper and More Lethal Size doesn’t necessarily mean strength


In the Old Testament book of Judges, the Almighty tasks Gideon with leading the Israelites against their oppressor, the Midianites. In assembling an Israelite army, the Almighty commands Gideon to reduce his numbers. Gideon obeys and ultimately triumphs with the remaining force of 300 men employing an elaborate ruse.

Reducing the size of an armed force seems counterintuitive, but, as the story illustrates, organizational design, and not end strength, is critical to military effectiveness.

In the present day, headlines are replete with the U.S. Army’s leadership warning of risks arising from the reduction in the service’s end strength. Unfortunately, Army leadership indicated the risks could only be addressed by providing the service with more resources, namely appropriation dollars to afford additional personnel and new equipment.

Given the Department of the Army’s record in managing prior manpower increases and modernization programs, Congress is right to be skeptical as to whether simply providing more of both would best minimize the risks raised by the service’s leadership.

The Commission on the Future of the Army, tasked by Congress with an examination of these matters, concluded “in general terms, the Army is appropriately sized, shaped, and ready to meet the strategic guidance it has been given … but only just so.” [Emphasis added.]