17 June 2016

**North Korea Hacked 140,000 Computers in Cyber War Prep

Steve Evans
June 15, 2016

North Korea Hacked 140,000 Computers in Cyber War Prep

North Korea has hacked into more than 140,000 computers belonging to 160 South Korean companies and government organizations, Seoul officials have announced. The hack was part of a long-term plan by the North to launch a huge cyber-attack on its neighbor.

The hack began back in 2014 but wasn’t detected until February of this year, Reuters said. The attackers targeted a vulnerability in network management software that is widely used in South Korea. The South’s cyber investigation unit told Reuters it had neutralized the malware before it could be used in a large-scale attack.

“There is a high possibility that the North aimed to cause confusion on a national scale by launching a simultaneous attack after securing many targets of cyber terror, or intended to continuously steal industrial and military secrets,” an official at the cyber investigation unit told Reuters.

Some 42,000 documents were stolen before the malware was detected, with 40,000 of those being defense-related. This included blueprints for the wings of F-15 fighter jets.

Korean Air Lines and SK Holdings, two companies named by South Korean media as victims of the hack, said the stolen documents were not classified, and a South Korean official added that none of the defense-related documents were top secret.

** Putin's Choice

posted on 14 June 2016

-- this post authored by Lauren Goodrich

Russian President Vladimir Putin stands at a fork in the road. The crises and responsibilities the country faces hang in a precarious balance. As Russia's economic recession drags on, prolonged by Western sanctions and dreary oil prices, inflation has skyrocketed, wages are tumbling and the poverty rate is growing at a pace not seen since the 1998 financial crisis. Limited military campaigns in eastern Ukraine and Syria have stirred up nationalism, enabling the government to maintain its popularity.

Meanwhile, NATO forces are building up near Russia's borders, mounting pressure on the Russian military.

For much of his more than 16 years in power, Putin has remained a centrist, by Russian standards. He sits neither in the radically liberal reformist camp nor among the rabid security hawks, but somewhere in between, cherry-picking policies from each side to suit the situation. Over the years, Putin has employed a variety of strategies that run the political gamut. But in the years to come, this centrist approach - vacillating between strategies while attempting to maintain a balance - will no longer be effective. Polarized camps in the Kremlin, and among the Russian public, are urging the Russian leader to change tack.
A Country, Polarized

Typically, high-ranking officials and advisers do not publicly criticize Putin, nor do they demand overhauls of state strategy. But as Russia's situation grows more precarious, even the Kremlin's elite are expressing concern. In May, one of Putin's longtime financial advisers and two senior officials in the Ministry of Finance published a scathing article in The National Interest. The piece criticized Russia's continued reliance on oil revenue, blasting the government for its failure to implement economic reforms. Although the authors' view is nothing new, the public condemnation from one of Putin's most trusted advisers reveals that dissent in the country has reached the heights of government decision-making. Later that month, Russian daily Vedomosti published a leaked conversation between Putin and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who told Putin that he could choose either political ambitions and stagnation or political modesty and economic growth.

*Social Media Platforms Sued For ‘Helping Terrorists’ Communicate And Plan Attacks

JUNE 16, 2016

Reynaldo Gonzalez, father of American national Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in the 2015 Paris attacks, on Tuesday accused the corporations of “providing material support for terrorism.” According to the plaintiff, the companies “purposefully, knowingly or with willful blindness” allowed militants to use their networks, while preparing for bloodbath attacks in France that killed over 130 people last November.

The lawsuit suggests that Daesh has used social media for the last few years to distribute propaganda, raise money and recruit members.

For instance, the leader of Daesh’ British division, Omar Hussain, was spotted by media recruiting members through Facebook. Google’s YouTube has been used for posting videos of brutal Daesh executions. In another case, Daesh sympathizers posted to Twitter images of murdered soldiers with the hashtag #AMessagefromISIStoUS.

Tech companies are sued often for alleged associations with terrorism. Responding to increasing challenges, the social media corporations consistently attempt to prevent their platforms from being used to promote terrorism. As a result, Facebook, Twitter and Google have tightened their rules regarding the violent and graphic content extremists ordinary post to social media.

India is Building A Missile Defence System - With Russian Missiles!

By Rakesh Krishnan Simha
16 Jun , 2016

A new generation of air defence missiles is coming up with the ability to create an “iron dome” over India that will deflect missiles, aircraft and drones aimed against the country.

In March 2014, the former army chief General V.K. Singh revealed that 97 per cent of India’s air defence weapons were obsolete. It goes without saying that a country that has two nuclear armed neighbours but an outmoded air defence system is carrying a death wish.

But a new generation of air defence missiles coming online is poised to create an “iron dome” over India that will deflect missiles, aircraft and drones aimed against the country.

The decision by the government earlier in October to acquire the S-400 Triumf from Russia is an indication that India is finally getting its act together about something as existential as ballistic missile defence (BMD).

Widely acknowledged as the world’s most powerful anti-aircraft and anti-missile system, the S-400 has impressive DNA – it is a development of the S-75 missile that famously shot down the American U-2 spy plane over Russia in 1960.

Missiles of the S-400 class are a cornerstone of Russian military doctrine. According to military commentator John Greesham-

This mandates that military forces operate, whenever possible, under a 24/7 integrated air defence umbrella anchored primarily by surface to air missiles (SAMs).

The Road to NSG Membership

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
16 Jun , 2016

The preliminary technical meeting of the NSG in Vienna on June 9 discussed the new applications from India, Pakistan and Namibia. The discussions, according to sources, recognized the merit in the Indian application albeit some countries raised the matter of process and criteria. It is not difficult to fathom who those countries would be with China opposing India’s membership despite being herself a known nuclear proliferator, not being member of MTCR (where India is) and flaunting the MTCR guidelines while promising adherence to the same both verbally and in writing. On admittance of India to the MTCR, a significant comment of a senior US administration official was that it (MTCR) “permits India to continue to advance its non-proliferation leadership in the world and contribute to that regime, to limit missile proliferation in the world”.

China has been smart in portraying that she wants NSG entry to be norm-based with no exceptions. This approach is China’s effort to also help Pakistan get NSG membership.

China actually voiced her opposition to India’s membership of NSG quite early by linking it with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which India is not a signatory. Just before the preliminary technical meeting of the NSG last week, John Kerry, US Secretary of State wrote letters to all NSG members to support India’s bid. However, China did not budge. Significantly, when the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal was signed in 2008, US President Bush had stymied Chinese opposition through a telephone call to the Chinese President. The next NSG meeting is scheduled for June 20-24 in Seoul, South Korea, where the Chinese stance is unpredictable with Chinese President adopting an all round more aggressive approach to achieve China’s stated aim of becoming a ‘Great Power’. China has been smart in portraying that she wants NSG entry to be norm-based with no exceptions. This approach is China’s effort to also help Pakistan get NSG membership. By saying so, China wants to garner support of other NSG members to also call for entry only by accepted norms. But then China forgets she already accepted a waiver in favour of India during the Indo-US Nuclear Deal of 2008?

Hillary, Trump and where India stands?

By Dr Mohammed Badrul Alam
16 Jun , 2016

With the long drawn primary election season winding down for the 2016 US Presidential race, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have emerged as presumptive presidential nominees from the Democratic and Republican parties respectively. Although domestic issues have by and large dominated the debate and discourse so far, early indications of both Hillary and Trump point to their respective foreign policy orientations including on issues that matter to India.

On defence engagement, both Hillary and Trump are likely to support enhanced technology cooperation, increased collaboration, and co-development between the United States and India. The Obama administration’s recognition of India as a Major Defence Partner (MDP) is likely to find resonance with both the candidates as India forges an enduring global partnership with the US in the 21st century.

While Hillary Clinton, based on her earlier track record as a US Senator and as Secretary of State, will welcome India’s introduction of Visa-on-Arrival for US citizens and in advancing India’s membership in the US Global Entry Program, Trump might have a more nuanced view as he favours a cap on H1B visa for skilled professionals and would rather prefer a more composite policy on the broad issue of immigration that may not be to the exact liking of potential Indian immigrants and software professionals. Trump’s position is also a hard line approach on immigration in general as he has threatened to create a wall along the US border with Mexico for preventing illegal entry of Mexicans into US in search of jobs and opportunities.

‘I’m ok, but damn tigress took my rifle’

Jun 14, 2016

A trip down memory lane, back to 1954, when 17 Sikh faced a maneater

The year was 1954, 17 Sikh was located at Agra and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Shamsher Singh, whose outstanding leadership and exploits in the 1947-48 war in Jammu and Kashmir were part of regimental lore. The unit was out on a training camp in a forest near Shivpuri, which was to culminate in a test exercise.

One day, Sepoy Fauja Singh, who was part of the officer’s mess staff, went to collect firewood for the mess kitchen. Suddenly, a tigress jumped out from a thicket and pounced on him. Instinctively, he tried to fight her off with his bare hands. After a brief struggle, the tigress caught Fauja Singh’s turban in her mouth and thinking that she had got the kill, disappeared back into the thicket. Fauja Singh was badly mauled and he was evacuated to the military hospital immediately, but more to the point, he was extremely upset about the loss of his turban.

More reports poured in about the tigress with four cubs, who had turned into a man-eater, it seemed. She had killed two persons from a village nearby. True to the Indian Army tradition, this didn’t stop the training, which continued as per plan, and the test exercise was cleared with honours.

At the end of the exercise Lt Col Shamsher Singh proposed to his Brigade Commander, Brigadier Danny Misra, that since the tigress had turned into a man-eater and the area was used by the brigade for training, it would be prudent to kill the tigress. Back in those days, shikar was allowed in the country and a hobby for some. In that spirit, Brig Danny Misra agreed to the proposal, but with a rider. “Shamsher,” he said. “Killing a tiger with rifles is too easy. Can the Sikhs do it with bayonets?” Never one to shy away from a challenge, Singh said, “So shall it be, Sir!”

India’s strategic gambit in Vietnam

New Delhi’s abiding interest in Vietnam is focused on defence and is meant as a pressure point against China

India under the Narendra Modi government has made no secret of its desire to play a more assertive role in the larger Indo-Pacific. As Modi himself underlined in his address to the joint session of the US Congress last week: “A strong India-US partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific. It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas.” Therefore, it should not be surprising that India seems now ready to sell the supersonic BrahMos missile, made by an India-Russian joint venture, to Vietnam after dilly-dallying on Hanoi’s request for this sale since 2011. Though India’s ties with Vietnam have been growing in the past few years, this sale was seen as a step too far that would antagonize China.

Deficiencies in Ammunition Management - CAG Report 2015

Jun 15, 2016 

Deficiencies in Ammunition Management - CAG Report 2015

While the CAD (Central Ammunition Depot) Pulgaon incident of fire on 31 May which led to the loss of 16 lives and tonnes of ammunition which was due for repair may lead to better management of repairable ammunition in the future and other deficiencies that are revealed in the Inquiry, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India Report on Ammunition Management in Army for year ended 2013 No. PA 19 of 2015 (Referred to hereafter as CAG Report 2015) CAG Report 2015 has outlined some of the major grey areas in ammunition management which need to be considered for holistic management of ammunition in the armed forces. These are as follows:-

Shortage of ammunition - CAG Report 2015 reveals that of the War Wastage Reserve scales of 40 (I) days, based on which Annual Provisioning of ammunition was carried out by DGOS, indent for procurement of ammunition by AHQ was placed on the basis of ‘Bottom Line’ or ‘Minimum Acceptable Risk Level’ (MARL) requirements which averaged to 20 (I) days due to budgetary constraints, and inadequate production capacity with OFB. Stocking at MARL was also not ensured with availability of ammunition in March 2013 below the MARL in respect of 125 out of a total of 170 types of ammunition (74 per cent). In com cases critical ammunition was available for less than 10 days (I). Clearly this situation cannot be accepted.

Non fructification of procurement orders placed on OFB – While a five year Roll on Indent on OFB was placed by the Indian Army after discussion with various agencies including the OFB, projections of funds for the Ordnance Factories was below the targets fixed thus the required ammunition could not be supplied to the Army.

Reforming Ammunition Management in the Indian Army: The Pulgaon Trigger

SR Research 
Jun 15, 2016 

Reforming Ammunition Management in the Indian Army: The Pulgaon Trigger

Ammunition Management – Incident Based or Holistic Approach

The massive blaze in Central Ammunition Depot, (CAD) Pulgaon in Wardha District in Maharashtra a State in Western India on 31 May this year has once again brought to limelight necessity for accident free management of ammunition in the Indian Armed Forces. The focus has been mainly on flaws in storage of ammunition; however detailed review of the accident now that adequate information is available denotes necessity for a systems approach with a view to holistic ammunition management in the armed forces and more particularly the Indian Army.

The importance of ammunition management is evident as armed forces annual procurement of munitions varies between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 Crore or US $ 3 Billion each year. Losses impinge on the costs of acquisition thus ammunition well managed is money saved as well.

Ideally the Comptroller and Auditor General of India Report on Ammunition Management in Army for year ended 2013 No. PA 19 of 2015 (Referred to hereafter as CAG Report 2015) should have acted as a trigger for reforms in ammunition management. However, possibly as the report was released just prior to the Pulgaon incident as also since crisis appears to be the best forcing function for reform in India, the blaze in CAD can lead to larger reforms.

Suffice to say the subject head of the CAG Report 2015 is misleading. While the Performance Audit has been carried out of ammunition management in the Army, the remedial measures required involve many agencies ranging from the Ministry of Defence Department of Defence Production, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Director General Quality Assurance (DGQA) amongst others. CAG Report 2015 would reveal that the Ministry of Finance is also a key agency for provision of budget for requirements for ammunition with a persistent shortfall over the years. Future CAG reports on defence hopefully overcome this anachronism which will result in fixing responsibility.

The Pulgaon Incident and SOPs

Recommendations for Transforming Ammunition Management in the Indian Army

Jun 15, 2016 

Recommendations for Transforming Ammunition Management in the Indian Army

The CAD (Central Ammunition Depot) Pulgaon incident of fire on 31 May which led to the loss of 16 lives and tonnes of ammunition is under investigation. The inquiry is likely to bring out a number of recommendations for improvement in stocking and repair of ammunition. In addition the Comptroller and Auditor General of India Report on Ammunition Management in Army for year ended 2013 No. PA 19 of 2015 (Referred to hereafter as CAG Report 2015) has includes many key recommendations in reforming ammunition management for the Army.

Many of these are seen as basic issues which need attention at the appropriate levels to overcome the shortcomings outlined hitherto fore. The recommendations given in the CAG Report 2015 are pragmatic and if undertaken would lead to not only making up the deficiencies in numbers but also quality and upkeep of munitions. These essentially involve putting into place realistic mechanisms for assessing the ammunition requirements and projections for fulfilling the same, modernisation of factories as well as processes, ensuring accountability and fixing responsibility, improvement in quality assurance and computerised inventory management. These are summarised as follows:-

ü Ministry of Defence should evolve a realistic mechanism to ensure ammunition deficiencies are overcome and operational requirement are fully met considering the, “capacity of Ordnance Factories, availability of budget and inescapable requirement of the Army”.

CAD Pulgaon Blaze, Fire Fighting Brave hearts, Unserviceable Stocks

Jun 15, 2016 

CAD Pulgaon Blaze, Fire Fighting Brave hearts, Unserviceable Stocks

The massive blaze in Central Ammunition Depot, (CAD) Pulgaon in Wardha District in Maharashtra a State in Western India on 31 May this year has once again brought to limelight necessity for accident free management of ammunition in the Indian Armed Forces. Preliminary reports of the CAD Pulgaon blaze reveals, disposal has been the main issue and not flawed storage. Lack of timely instructions for clearance of defective mines in the Depot led to the blaze which killed 16 brave hearts including two senior army officers and several firemen who valiantly fought the fire to prevent spreading to other sheds which had high value serviceable ammunition.

While in terms of precious human lives the losses are irreplaceable, this in turn prevented the loss to serviceable munitions in other sheds. Even though in cases of ammunition accidents the first finger is raised on non observation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), it should be noted that the system of ammunition storing, movement etc in Indian ammunition depots is very evolved over many decades and perfected to the extent feasible, Murphy’s Law notwithstanding.

Non adherence of SOP may occur in smaller depots or munitions dumps. In large depots SOPs are well taped up or the Commandants job is on the block. SOPs could also be violated during transit due to inadequate safety standards in transportation.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Centre for Environment and Explosive Safety (CFEES) is the body which prescribes norms for storage of explosives, based on Storage, Transport and Explosive Committee (STEC) Regulations and UN classification.

Stop marginalising the military

Jun 15, 2016 

Apart from marginalisation of the military and the consequent adverse effect on our military potential and neglect of armed forces’ legitimate interests, the syndrome of ‘we’ and ‘they’ instead of ‘us’ prevails in the ministry 

Supremacy of the civil over the military is a fundamental requirement of a functioning democracy. However, subordination of the military to civil authority doesn’t mean the military must be subservient or a service chief has to be denied direct access to the top civil authority. In no democracy does a civil servant act as an intermediary between the armed services and political executive, and what’s more has the last word. This happens only in India.

In 1947, our higher defence organisation had to be modified to meet the requirements of a democratic polity. A committee of three senior ICS secretaries recommended the defence secretary should have a higher protocol status than the service chiefs and the three service headquarters should function like attached subordinate offices of the defence ministry, like other ministries. Lord Mountbatten advised the government to reject these recommendations. The service chiefs kept their higher protocol status than the defence secretary. But over the years, functional superiority of the defence secretary has got firmly embedded, marginalising the service chiefs.

Lord Ismay was Lord Mountbatten’s chief of staff at the time of Independence. He had long experience of the functioning of the UK’s higher defence organisation, and had served as Winston Churchill’s chief of staff during the Second World War. After the war, he was invited to the United States to advise on the Pentagon’s reorganisation. In view of Partition riots, the war in Kashmir, vivisection of military units and junior Indian officers with no experience of working at the national level suddenly succeeding senior British officers, he did not recommend any drastic changes. He suggested setting up a series of committees in the existing structure to ensure supremacy of the political executive, joint functioning and prompt decision-making. There were two types of committees, governmental committees in which political executives presided and inter-service committees, comprising only military officers.

The Benz and the Banjara Benz at 7%, Tractors 15.9%—Loans in Aurangabad


P. Sainath (psainath@ruralindiaonline.org ​) is the founder-editor of the People's Archive of Rural India, and has been a rural reporter for decades. He is the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought.

Tractor loans at 15.9 per cent trapped Aurangabad farmers like Hirabai in debt. But Mercedes Benz loans in Aurangabad were going for 7 per cent at the same time. Yet, sales of both were seen as rural progress

Hirabai Fakira Rathod was talked into buying a new vehicle in 2010 when many banks were on a “tractor loan” spree. “The salesman at the tractor shop had told me that it was very easy to get and repay this loan,” she told us at her rundown dwelling in Kannad tehsil of Aurangabad district. The local branch of the State Bank of Hyderabad also processed the loan swiftly. Hirabai, whose husband is a retired forest guard, is a Banjara Adivasi and her large family held 3.5 acres in the same tehsil. “The idea was we could use it ourselves and also earn a bit more deploying it on other farms,” she says.

Pakistan: A Reluctant Ally In War On Terror – OpEd

JUNE 15, 2016

The US took another scalp from its enemy on May 21 when its drones incinerated the new Taliban chief Mullah Mansour on Pakistani soil. This is another dead leader on Pakistani soil. The presence of its enemies in Pakistan frustrates the US since it pays Pakistan to take action against them.
Americans keep asking Pakistan to ‘do more” against the Taliban leaders and Haqqani Network that has safe havens in Pakistan. In response, Pakistan shows a figure of over 60,000 Pakistanis killed in terrorism related incidents in a desperate bid to prove that it is their war and they are paying huge cost.

The dreadful insurgency that has denied Afghanistan peace and killed and maimed US/NATO troops has its command and control structure within Pakistan. This is no more an allegation, since most of the leaders of Al-Qaeda, Taliban and HN were either killed or captured in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden was hiding near 500 meters of Pakistan’s military academy in Abbotabad. Mullah Omar died in Karachi while his successor Mullah Mansour was killed in Baluchistan.

Pakistan too has accepted the presence of Taliban leaders on its soil. Sartaj Aziz, advisor to the prime minister on foreign affairs, has publicly accepted that Pakistan has leverage with Taliban, since their leadership hide and seek medical help in Pakistan.

The Calculus of Frustration: US Trying Something New In Fight Against Taliban in Afghanistan

June 14, 2016
Afghanistan: A War of Politics, Not Policy

While U.S. efforts in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State wear on, Washington’s other major war in the region is showing signs of deepening. U.S. President Barack Obama granted expanded military authority to the 9,800 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan on June 9. Under the new authorization, U.S. troops serving in a training and counterterrorism capacity can now join conventional Afghan security forces on the battlefield if their presence is deemed to have “strategic effect.” (Previously, U.S. troops assisted only in high-value target missions, carried out more often by Afghan elite fighting forces.) In addition, U.S. forces now have an expanded capacity to conduct limited airstrikes in support of U.S. operations.

In requesting expanded U.S. troop capabilities, Gen. John Nicholson, the new NATO commander in Afghanistan who assumed the post in March, was channeling longstanding frustrations of the U.S. military, which has felt unable to act effectively in an increasingly precarious theater of war. Still, the Pentagon made a second request that Obama did not satisfy: maintaining the current U.S. troop level at 9,800. Obama has pledged to reduce U.S. troop levels to 5,500 by the end of the year, even while the Taliban now control or contest a greater part of the country’s territory than at anytime since the war began.

Calculating the Costs

Obama’s decision is a matter of politics, not policy. It is an election year in the United States, and Obama does not want news of a troop redeployment to become a liability for his preferred successor and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. It is more likely that he will avoid making any such announcements until after the election is over.

Central Asia: The Next Region to Unravel

By Kamran Bokhari 
June 10, 2016 

The instability in Kazakhstan in recent weeks could spread throughout the region. 

While the world is focused on the crises in the Middle East, the European Union, Russia and China, Central Asia – located at the center of these regions – is in meltdown. Central Asia cannot avoid being affected by the chaos in the countries surrounding it and is at risk of destabilization. The largest and wealthiest state in the region, Kazakhstan, is most at risk.

In recent weeks, Kazakhstan has been hit by two types of security challenges: civil unrest and terrorism. In May, Kazakh law enforcement agencies broke up demonstrations across the country, protesting plans to privatize large swathes of farmland.

The government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and its ally, Russia, believe these protests were backed by the U.S. and designed to foment a color revolution. Considering the large area covered by the protests and the fact that this is an authoritarian state that does not tolerate any genuine opposition, the idea that the West was trying to push Kazakhstan into a Ukraine-like revolution is not unreasonable.

While Astana was still grappling with this issue, the country was rocked by a terrorist attack that killed 19 people on June 5. It was carried out by suspected Islamist militants in the northwestern industrial city of Aktobe. The attack, which involved 20 gunmen who struck at three separate locations, appears to have been a fairly sophisticated operation – at least for Kazakhstan, where such incidents are quite rare. Two cells struck at two separate firearms stores, while a third commandeered a bus and used it to ram the gate at a national guard base.

The Slowdown of 'Made in China'

In our upcoming Deep Dive to be published tomorrow exclusively for premium subscribers, we have identified 13 countries that are emerging as successors to China’s dominance in the inexpensive, basic manufacturing industry. In the course of our research, we identified assembly and production of cellphones as an industry of particular interest because it provides a strong base for introducing disciplined industrialization to a society.

Two key trends in the global cellphone market have led companies to relocate production and assembly facilities outside of China. First, the developed world has become saturated with smartphones. Although consumers in the U.S. and Europe still buy cellphones to replace old ones, there is little room for growth in the number of new consumers in these markets because most people already own cellphones.


JUNE 15, 2016

Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them, Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of hell,

Rode the six hundred.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Charge of the Light Brigade

C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre: c’est de la folie.

– Marshal Pierre François Joseph Bosquet, observing the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade” provides a classic example of the subordination of military skill in favor of courage and stubbornness, seasoned with a generous measure of poor leadership and a dash of sheer chaos. The 1854 charge in the Crimean War involved an unsupported light cavalry charge directed against the wrong objective at the conclusion of the Battle of Balaclava, which the British had already won. While the diminished brigade successfully reached the wrong Russian guns and slaughtered the gunners, the only objective that they secured was to ensure that they could retreat at no hazard from the artillery fire they had just attacked through. This illustrates, on the tactical level, the Pentagon’s current vision for dealing with the so-called anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environment. The current view of dealing with a generic A2/AD environment is unnecessarily focused on a tech-heavy widget-on-widget battle fought at the tactical level, devoid of military objectives and with limited support from allied nations. A2/AD is a defensive strategy, focused on an intention to deprive American forces, particularly air and naval forces, of their preferred method of warfighting. The key to overcoming this strategy is to work around it — shunning the hyperactive, close-range, quick-kill strategy that underpins what was once called AirSea Battle and the third offset strategy, and doing something else entirely, enhanced by favorable geography and a long-standing alliance structure. Otherwise we risk repeating the Light Brigade’s experience on a grander scale — meaningless tactical victories gained at unacceptably high cost.

Reality-Basing A2/AD


JUNE 15, 2016

Xi’s the man. Or so the deluge of Xi-centric coverage would lead one to believe. Where many China watchers once examined history to understand strategy, some have become “Xi watchers,” scrutinizing music videos, paraphernalia, and social media accounts on Xi for clues of what he may be thinking. This undertaking, aimed at tracing and explaining Chinese behavior, has led to an obsession with Xi’s personality, endless comparisons between Xi and MaoZedong (and even Chiang Kai-shek), and a singular emphasis upon Xi’s position at the apex of China’s political system akin to the “great helmsman” or as the “core leader.” But a singular focus on his personality and background misses the forest for the trees by mistakenly ascribing strategic behavior to highly subjective interpretations of Xi’s life story and overlooking the preeminence of the Communist Party’s (CCP) mandate. While Xi’s background makes for compelling prose, a preoccupation with the personalities of Chinese leadership — be it Mao, Xi, or leaders yet to come — risks elevating less meaningful correlations between personages and strategy at the expense of understanding the Party’s agenda.

The Orlando Massacre: Tackling Islamophobia In America – Analysis

By Irm Haleem* 
JUNE 16, 2016

The mass murder of 50 people in an Orlando gay nightclub by an Afghan-American in the name of ISIS raises questions about terrorism as a consequence of intolerance. Ostracising Muslims as a suspicious collective dehumanises them and perpetuates radicalism.

The 12 June 2016 Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, which claimed the lives of some 50 individuals, marks the deadliest shooting massacre in US history. Despite speculations as to the homophobic sentiments of the shooter, political conservatives in the United States have homed in instead on his Muslim identity.

That Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old son of Afghan refugees, is reported to have called 911 (the US emergency hotline) to declare allegiance to Islamic State (IS) only lends credence to this conservative assessment. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for US president, took this opportunity to tweet about the timeliness and credibility of his warning against Muslim immigration to the US to legitimise his Islamophobic policy stand.
Not all Muslims are terrorists; not all terrorists are Muslims

Beyond the fact that Trump’s strict policy proposals related to Muslim immigration would have had no impact in this case, given that the shooter was an American-born citizen, a larger problem is present here: intolerance for all those who are different, especially if this difference is demarcated by their Muslim identities. An obvious fact needs to be noted: not all Muslims are terrorists; not all terrorists are Muslims.

Weekly Graphic: The Middle East at Night

This nighttime map of the Middle East, stretching from Egypt to Iran and from the Red Sea to the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, was taken by a NASA satellite in 2012. It is fairly up-to-date given that electricity use and population don't expand very quickly.

The most striking part of this map is Egypt. It has the most intense lighting in the region in an area in the north stretching from Alexandria to the Suez Canal, and then following the Nile River south to the Aswan Dam. The dam delivers much of Egypt's electricity but also limits population growth to its south. It has become the southern limit of populated Egypt.

Why It’s Premature To Call Omar Mateen A Terrorist – OpEd

JUNE 15, 2016
Each time an atrocity takes place in which innocent people become targets of indiscriminate violence, there is a rush to brand the violence as terrorism.

This has little to do with any widely accepted definition of the term and much more to do with a need to voice outrage and mobilize a forceful response.

If on one side everyone’s shouting “terrorism!” while others are voicing doubt, the doubters instantly get cast as being soft on terrorism.

From what we know at this time, I’m inclined to believe that the massacre in Orlando was a mass-murder/suicide disguised to look like a terrorist attack.

It has already been widely reported that Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, said his son got “very angry” two months ago when he saw two men kissing in Miami. This was presented as evidence of the gunman’s existing and strong homophobia.

There are now indications that the foundation of Mateen’s homophobia may have been extreme ambivalence around his own homosexuality.

The Associated Press reports:

The ex-wife of the shooter at a gay Florida nightclub says the man enjoyed nightlife, but she’s not sure if he had any homosexual tendencies.

What To Do About Saudi Arabia – Analysis

By Joseph Braude*
JUNE 15, 2016

(FPRI) — On May 21, the New York Times published an investigative report from Kosovo about the radicalization of local youth by Islamists from the Gulf. It finds that over the past 17 years, mosques, Muslim charities, and imams, funded or trained by “Saudis and others,” used a combination of inculcation, intimidation, and violence to undermine tolerant local Islamic traditions and foment a new jihadist sensibility among the population. It notes that Kosovo has become Europe’s largest per capita exporter of foreign fighters to the Islamic State — and that over the past two years, in a Kosovar security crackdown, 14 clerics were arrested and 19 Muslim organizations shut down. Five Gulf countries and Egypt are fingered as the instigators, but the focus of the piece is Saudi Arabia.

The report was widely discussed in Washington, and became the subject of an article in Commentary by Max Boot. He concludes that Americans should not neglect the Gulf’s continuing role in Islamist inculcation worldwide. In Boot’s view, “Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have done more to crack down on outright financing of terrorist groups” since the September 11 tragedy, but “Saudi Arabia has not, as far as I can tell, made as much progress in decreasing its support for mosques and madrassas abroad preaching doctrines of hatred.” The kingdom nonetheless remains a U.S. ally to any White House committed to struggling against the Tehran regime, he writes. Given that the present Administration has angered Saudi Arabia by coddling Iran, Boot counsels winning back the Gulf’s goodwill by aggressively countering Iran, then parlaying that political capital to apply greater pressure to end the export of Sunni militancy.

To Hack ISIS, Pentagon Is Taking a Page From NSA’s SIGINT Successes Against Iraq Insurgents in 2007

Sean Lyngaas
June 14, 2016

To hack ISIS, Pentagon learns from 2007 surge in Iraq

The U.S. military’s ongoing cyber campaign against the Islamic State has its roots in the 2007 surge of U.S. troops in Iraq and concurrent fighting in Afghanistan, but the tradecraft has evolved considerably since then, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

“We learned some things from there and we can use some of the techniques that we used in Afghanistan and Iraq in those days, but this really is different,” Carter said, referring to computer operations against ISIS that he ordered U.S. Cyber Command to intensify in January. He spoke June 10 at the Defense One Tech Summit in Washington.

The digital assault on ISIS networks “is like never before, which isn’t to say we’ve never done it before,” Carter said. He added, “We’ve really made it a priority.”

The goals of the cyberattacks on ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria have been to make the militants lose confidence in their networks, and for them to not know the sources of the disruptions, Carter and his top general have said.

“I do think you have to recognize that ISIL’s tradecraft in using technology to advance evil objectives, both operationally and ideologically, is unprecedented,” Carter said, using the Obama administration’s preferred acronym for the terrorist group.

“It’s frequently said, and I think it’s basically right: If al-Qaeda was an internet-generation terrorist group, ISIL is a social-media-generation terrorist group,” Carter said.

The 2007 surge of U.S. troops in Iraq was reportedly accompanied by a surge in malware on militant networks unleashed by the National Security Agency. U.S. soldiers also boosted their signals intelligence collection by using cell phone signals to geo-locate insurgents.

Army War College

Army War College

o Making Sense of the "Long Wars" – Advice to the US Army

o Balancing Priorities in America's European Strategy

o Revisiting the Principles of NATO Burden-Sharing

o Modifying America's Forward Presence in Eastern Europe

o The United States as the Reluctant Ally

o State-Building: America's Foreign Policy Challenge

o Nation-Building is an Oxymoron

o Lessons from the Air Campaigns over Libya, Syria, and Yemen

o Does Russia Have a Gerasimov Doctrine?

o Measuring the Effectiveness of America's War on Terror

South America's unique geography, and how it defined its history

By George Friedman 


South America is an island, connected to North America by a land bridge. We all know that. But South America is not a single entity. It is made up of smaller islands, divided not by the ocean, but by impassable jungles and mountains. The Amazon and the Andes create three islands. The eastern island consists of parts of Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, as well as Paraguay and Uruguay. The second island is Venezuela and Colombia. The third is a long, thin island in the west, running from Ecuador through Peru and Chile.

Russian Football Louts In Marseilles Part Of Putin’s ‘Hybrid War’ Against The West – OpEd

JUNE 15, 2016
The attack of Russian football louts against English fans in Marseilles was a well-organized action that was part and parcel of Vladimir Putin’s “hybrid war” against the West and one that has grown out of his longstanding ties with the kind of fans other countries are ashamed of but that Russian leaders celebrate, according to Ilya Milshteyn.

At a minimum, that should lead to Russia’s disqualification from the European Cup competition, to the stripping of Russia of the right to host the World Cup in 2018, and to a realization in the West that the Putin regime is completely contemptuous of all rules of the game in all segments of life and must be ostracized until it changes.

In a commentary on the Grani.ru portal, Milshteyn says that what happened in Marseilles was the logical outcome of the rapprochement of the Russian power elite with Russian football fans. The first to promote that was LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky but he was followed by the sports ministry and then Vladimir Putin (graniru.org/opinion/milshtein/m.252202.html).

Why cyberwar has to step out of the shadows More accountability and oversight of the nation's cyberweapons projects would be a good thing. Steve Ranger By Steve Ranger | June 14, 2016 -- 10:00 GMT (15:30 IST) | Topic: Security cyberwar.jpg It's time for politicians and the public to have more information about cyberwarfare projects. Image: iStock It is time for the shadowy world of cyberwarfare to open up to more oversight from politicians and the public? While the British government has confirmed that it, like many other states, is building the capability to use cyberweapons against enemies if necessary -- and is spending £500m on the project over the next few years -- it has been unwilling to provide much more in the way of detail. Shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry recently asked the government for detailsabout the UK's offensive cyber capabilities, such as when they have been used and whether politicians will be given the chance to debate the use of such weapons, either before or after they were deployed. Cyber war isn't turning out quite how it was expected Protecting the unprotectable: How do you spare the innocent in an online conflict? The impossible task of counting up the world's cyber armies The US Air Force now has two fully operational cyberspace weapon systems ​Bruce Schneier: The cyberwar arms race is on The response from armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt didn't go into specifics: "We continue to develop the ability of our armed forces to deploy a broad range of offensive cyber capabilities as an integrated part of military operations. As with other sensitive defence capabilities, we do not reveal specific details in order to safeguard national security." Mordaunt added: "As we have previously made clear in the context of the war powers convention, we do not propose to define the circumstances in which we would consult Parliament about the use of particular military capabilities." Thornberry told ZDNet it is vital the UK can defend its interests in cyberspace. But she added: "It's important that as governments develop the ability to strike their enemies in cyberspace, the rules of engagement should be as transparent as possible. But the MoD's cyber programme is shrouded in secrecy, with very little oversight or accountability to the public." She added: "An offensive cyber capability may well be necessary in the 21st century, but as with any other weapon the public are entitled to expect reassurance that it will be used in a responsible way." Part of that secrecy is the result of the way cyberwarfare has evolved: rather than being a military development, it has been intelligence agencies that have put the most effort into electronic warfare. Intelligence agencies started off by developing their own digital spying efforts (and methods of defending against foreign hackers doing the same). Offensive cyberweapons have been a more recent arrival. For example Stuxnet -- the package developed (most likely) by the US and Israel to slow the Iranian nuclear programme by making vital centrifuges malfunction -- is generally considered to be the first actual use of a cyberweapon. Secrecy made sense when cyberweapons were part of the shadowy world of spies. It also made cyberwarfare useful because it was deniable -- intelligence services were able to take on missions that would be difficult or impossible to complete with standard military strategies. And there are other good reasons why cyberwarfare operations need to remain secret. From what little we know about them, cyberweapons are hard to build, extremely expensive, and often have to be carefully tuned to be effective against any particular target, which takes long periods of reconnaissance. Because they are often built around 'zero-day' flaws -- previously undiscovered weaknesses in the software used by a target -- they can often only be used once. So if there is to be a debate in parliament prior to every use of cyberweapons, the targets will be forewarned and better protected, making the success of the mission much less likely. But as cyberweapons move from a theoretical to standard part of the armoury, the argument for the levels of secrecy around them becomes harder to maintain. If a cyberweapon can do the same level of damage as a conventional weapon, there's a good argument that the public should have the same level of oversight of their usage. The difference between knocking out communications in a city by firing a missile to destroy a telephone exchange or using a computer virus to crash the computers is only one of method, not of impact. As such, as cyberweapons become part of the mainstream, it will become harder to keep politicians and the public in the dark about their usage. READ MORE ON CYBERWARFARE

It is time for the shadowy world of cyberwarfare to open up to more oversight from politicians and the public?

While the British government has confirmed that it, like many other states, is building the capability to use cyberweapons against enemies if necessary -- and is spending £500m on the project over the next few years -- it has been unwilling to provide much more in the way of detail.

Shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry recently asked the government for detailsabout the UK's offensive cyber capabilities, such as when they have been used and whether politicians will be given the chance to debate the use of such weapons, either before or after they were deployed.

The response from armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt didn't go into specifics: "We continue to develop the ability of our armed forces to deploy a broad range of offensive cyber capabilities as an integrated part of military operations. As with other sensitive defence capabilities, we do not reveal specific details in order to safeguard national security."