4 August 2016

*** How do you solve a problem like Pakistan?

Aug 2, 2016

In Kashmir, there’s an external factor on the other side of the border that needs to be handled diplomatically

Let me at the onset settle the core issue that worries every Indian. Nations with stable democratic governments, professional Armed Forces and nuclear weapons do not part with their territory. The state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is an inalienable and inseparable part of India. It is and will remain central to the idea of India. The only issue before us is to thwart the challenges and threats to this idea. The problem in J&K has an external and an internal dimension. The external dimension is Pakistan and the internal dimension is the insurrection in J&K. Both are interdependent.

Pakistan’s strategy

Pakistan, due to primordial religious emotions, the deprivation of J&K in 1947 and its dismemberment in 1971, considers India an adversary state. It has an unambiguous India-centric National Security Strategy backed by a political, public and military consensus. Its essential features are: 

Wage a deniable Fourth Generation War (4GW) in J&K and hinterland of India exploiting its fault lines. 

Deter/dissuade the Indian threat with conventional and nuclear capability 


AUGUST 2, 2016

Over the last few decades, globalization has created great wealth and brought millions out of poverty. Today, a combination of technology, politics, and social pressures seems to be reversing globalization. While the new technology will continue to create wealth, it will favor developed countries. The increasing regionalization of economies and differences in rates of growth will create instability and challenge international security arrangements.

The Economist defines globalization as the “global integration of the movement of goods, capital and jobs.” The combination of labor cost advantages, efficient freight systems, and trade agreements fueled globalization by providing regional cost advantages for manufacturing. Over the last six decades, it transformed agricultural societies into industrial powerhouses.

Then, the 2008 to 2009 global financial crisis slowed global trade. This led to early speculation that globalization was slowing. Yet global merchandise trade recovered relatively quickly, almost reaching pre-crisis levels by 2011. Speculation about slowing globalization ceased. Unfortunately, manufacturing trade as a percentage of GDP actually flattened and then declined from 2011 to 2014. Services and financial flows followed the same pattern.

*** Keep Your Politics Private, My Fellow Generals and Admirals

AUGUST 1, 2016

We must not compromise our military’s special role in democracy, nor hinder those who come after us. 
The relationship between elected leaders and the military is established in the Constitution and built on trust.

As a matter of law, we follow the orders of the duly elected commander-in-chief unless those orders are illegal or immoral. This is our non-negotiable commitment to our fellow citizens. They elect. We support.

From my personal experience across several administrations, the commander-in-chief will value our military advice only if they believe that it is given without political bias or personal agenda.

Generals and admirals are generals and admirals for life. What they say carries the weight of their professional judgment and the credibility of their professional reputation. 

More than an individual reputation, retired generals and admirals enjoy a collective reputation earned by having been part of a profession. It is therefore nearly impossible for them to speak exclusively for themselves when speaking publicly. If that were even possible, few would want to hear from them. Their opinion is valued chiefly because it is assumed they speak with authority for those who have served in uniform. And their opinion is also valued because our elected leaders know that the men and women of theU.S. military can be counted upon follow the orders of their elected leaders. 

** The millennials have taken over: A primer for the military's generational shift

July 31, 2016 

Are younger service members — so-called ‘millennials,’ born in 1980 or later — soft?

Are they too reliant on technology? Are they buried so deep in social media that face-to-face communication becomes impossible? Are they too busy questioning orders to follow them?

It's not uncommon to hear such complaints from members of the Old Guard, some of whom are quick to stereotype the new breed as too desperate for praise and too ill-disciplined.

Across the services, leaders certainly are scrambling to adapt to the millennial mindset, even as the generation is taking over.

• The Army is looking to expand the role of drill sergeants and insert them back into Advanced Individual Training. This means new soldiers will have more time with tough-talking soldiers, beyond basic. Why?

“The problem that we do have is that right now the generation we have coming in is not as disciplined as we would like them to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, the senior enlisted soldier for the Center for Initial Military Training, earlier this year. "So we have to provide them with discipline over a longer period of time.”

• At the service academies, students have complained the military's rigid career tracks and "up or out rules" discourage continued service. Complaints like these from cadets at West Point helped hasten the Defense Department's current plans to reform the promotion system and allow more flexibility in recruiting, assigning and promoting officers.

** How to Start a Clash of Civilizations

JULY 26, 2016 

If the Islamic State wants to renew the Crusades by attacking churches and killing priests, Catholic France won’t run from the fight. 

With Tuesday’s mid-Mass beheading of an elderly French priest in Rouen, a short distance from Paris, the Islamic State’s malignant devotees have dealt a vicious blow against the West’s all but emotionally neutral campaign to contain the quasi-caliphate. Though the internecine conflicts wracking the Arab world ensure the war against the Islamic State is hardly a war on Islam, the jihadis are bent on a clash of civilizations. And by martyring French Catholics who are Old Christendom’s flesh and blood, they’re one step closer to getting one.

Whatever the extent of Western reluctance or prudence, the truth is there’s no better way to shake Europe out of what many now see as its guilt-ridden paralysis than to assault French Catholicism — the oldest, most ingrained force that transcends nationalism in Europe’s most powerful proud nation.

History has long prepared this seemingly revolutionary moment. If in one sense, postwar French Catholics like Robert Schuman — one of the European Union’s founding fathers and the architect of the European integration plan — were innovators, in another, they simply recapitulated a vision of Continental unity as old as Charlemagne. However vital the force and thrust of political rationalism, mere secularism could never make European civilization as whole as Christian Rome had once made it. Even Napoleon Bonaparte, despite his tyrannical embrace of ancient cruelty and modern statism, recognized the centrality of the Church to France’s unique claim on European leadership by having the pope coronate him as France’s emperor in 1804. Having subsequently snuffed the Holy Roman Empire (long lampooned as neither holy, Roman, nor an empire) in 1806, he cemented Europe’s new Catholic imperium by marrying his defeated adversary’s daughter, Marie Louise. His wife’s parents, Emperor Francis and his wife Maria Theresa, continued to rule the Austrian Empire after the Holy Roman Empire’s dissolution.

** Troubling Signs out of Germany and Saudi Arabia

By Kamran Bokhari 
Aug. 2, 2016 

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

Deutsche Bank and the Saudi central bank released unnerving statements yesterday. 

The global exporters’ crisis is intensifying. Germany’s largest bank has expressed deep concerns about “secular stagnation” in the United States. Separately, Saudi Arabia’s central bank has injected $4 billion into the kingdom’s banking sector in an effort to deal with liquidity issues. Both developments have implications for their respective regions, which are already in turmoil, as well as for the world.

In early 2016, we highlighted the 10 nations that had been hit hard by decreasing global demand for exports and identified those next in line. Following China and Russia, Saudi Arabia was third on the list of countries that were already reeling from the slowdown. Germany topped the list of the five we identified as most vulnerable. The statements out of Berlin and Riyadh yesterday suggest the situation is going from bad to worse.

Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank, is already in deep financial distress. The United States, which is due for a cyclical recession, could be affected by the banking crisis spreading through the European Continent. These two dynamics have come together in the form of a research note issued by Deutsche Bank, which warned the U.S. Federal Reserve that an interest rate hike in September would be a “big policy error.” It is not normal for a bank like Deutsche Bank to insert itself so blatantly into a conversation about U.S. economic policy. So why is the biggest German financial institution worried about a potential recession in the United States when it has plenty of other things to worry about?

** The Human Domain and the Future of Army Warfare: Present as Prelude to 2050

August 2, 2016 

The Human Domain and the Future of Army Warfare: Present as Prelude to 2050

“The ultimate cause of our failure was a simple one: despite all statements to the contrary, it was not due to lack of bravery on the part of our men, or to any fault of the Fleet's. We were defeated by one thing only - by the inferior science of our enemies. I repeat - by the inferior science of our enemies.” – Arthur C. Clarke, Superiority[1]


Much of the current focus on the future of warfare for the U.S. military centers on technology and place, largely at the expense of the actors at the root of conflict. Certainly, the physical environment of the future of warfare will be unlike that of the past—trading large, open expanses of terrain for sprawling, dense urban centers. Likewise, the democratization of technology will enable adversaries to cheaply and effectively counter costly and complex capabilities. The further diffusion of power from a unipolar order to a multipolar order and economic hyper-interconnectivity will continue to compound the difficulty of operating within the future environment.

Warfare in 2050 will be predominantly urban, utilizing advanced technologies and robotics, but remain an inherently human and political endeavor. Warfare in 2050 will not be fought and won by the military alone—it will require joint, interagency, international, and multinational collaboration to succeed. Despite the appeal, the U.S. Army must look beyond the strictly technological solutions offered by the Third Offset to improved methods of understanding and engaging the enemy. Every soldier is taught to “adapt, improvise, and overcome” in order to solve complex problems. Our adversaries do the same: from the development and employment of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) to counter advancements in armor to increases in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan; Hamas’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles in Gaza and the Islamic State use of drones in Syria and Iraq. Our adversaries are using off-the-shelf technologies and simple, cost-effective, locally sourced manufacturing, to great effect directly on the battlefield, and government-sponsored hackers to conduct penetration testing of secure U.S. government networks and “troll armies” to spread propaganda and misinformation. 


Aug 2, 2016

LIMA, Peru (AP) -- It was a national scandal. Peru's then-vice president accused two domestic intelligence agents of staking her out. Then, a top congressman blamed the spy agency for a break-in at his office. News stories showed the agency had collected data on hundreds of influential Peruvians. 

Yet after last year's outrage, which forced out the prime minister and froze its intelligence-gathering, the spy service went ahead with a $22 million program capable of snooping on thousands of Peruvians at a time. Peru - a top cocaine-producing nation - joined the ranks of world governments that have added commercial spyware to their arsenals. 

The purchase from Israeli-American company Verint Systems, chronicled in documents obtained by The Associated Press, offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how easy it is for a country to purchase and install off-the-shelf surveillance equipment. The software allows governments to intercept voice calls, text messages and emails. 

Except for blacklisted nations like Syria and North Korea, there is little to stop governments that routinely violate basic rights from obtaining the same so-called "lawful intercept" tools that have been sold to Western police and spy agencies. People tracked by the technology have been beaten, jailed and tortured, according to human rights groups. 

Targets identified by the AP include a blogger in the repressive Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, opposition activists in the war-ravaged African nation of South Sudan, and politicians and reporters in oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. 

Beyond Cartographic Assertion: A Roadmap on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

By Dr. Priyanka Singh
03 Aug , 2016

Most of India’s geopolitical vexations stem from a contested northern periphery, entailing disputes born either in the aftermath of independence or inherited from British rule. Principal among these is the region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Soon after independence, a huge portion of J&K’s territory was bifurcated from the rest of the princely state as a result of the Pakistan-aided assault conducted in these regions during 1947-48.

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) refers to those parts of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) that continue to be under Pakistan’s control. It comprises the so-called ‘Azad’ Jammu and Kashmir (‘AJK’), and Gilgit Baltistan, which latter was referred to as the Northern Areas by the government of Pakistan until 2009. India stakes a claim on these territories by virtue of the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh on 26 October 1947. 

In consonance with India’s official position on J&K, the Survey of India map, considered the official and by far the most authentic source of determining India’s geographical extent, shows PoK (as it existed during British rule) as part of the Indian state of J&K and thus as an integral part of India. Apart from PoK, the Survey of India map also shows as Indian territory the Trans-Karakoram Tract (previously part of PoK) and Aksai Chin, both of which are currently under China’s control.

The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016

Make in India for Air Force

By IDR News Network
02 Aug , 2016

A seminar on Make in India for Indian Air Force was conducted on 19th April, 2016. Main suggestions received during the seminar are as follows: 

Nurture aerospace Research & Development (R&D) in India through full funding and encouraging incentives to private Indian industry. Establishment of an aerospace R&D centre to identify, design and develop equipment required for maintenance and sustenance of combat platforms. 

Programmes may be conducted through leading academic institutions or in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for knowledge and skill development in the identified areas of R&D, Manufacture, Quality Assurance, Maintenance etc. in military aviation. 

Periodic interaction with Indian industry. 

The major projects planned to be processed under ‘Make in India’ for Air Force are: Light Combat Aircraft, Light Combat Helicopter, Light Utility Helicopter, Basic Trainer Aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Medium and Short Range Surface-to-Air Missiles, Air-to-Air Missiles, Radars, other Avionics, aggregates and ammunition etc.

This information was given by Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Shri Amar Shankar Sable in Rajya Sabha today.

The Government has implemented several policy initiatives to promote ‘Make in India’, such as liberalisation of FDI policy & Industrial Licensing Policy, simplification of export procedures, creating level playing field for Indian private and public sector companies, giving preference to ‘Buy (Indian- Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)’, ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ category in Defence Procurement Procedure.

Visualised Indian Artillery Considering Threats from China and Pakistan

By Maj Gen PK Chakravorty
03 Aug , 2016

The Regiment of Artillery needs to expedite its modernisation process particularly with regard to guns and ammunition. All our guns are more than 25 years old and need to be replaced. The first platform likely to be inducted possibly would be the 155mm M777 Ultra Light Howitzer on a Foreign Military Sales Programme from the United States. These would be about 145 pieces which would enable about eight regiments. These guns would be an asset for the Mountain Strike Corps being raised shortly.

Artillery is a combat arm which has proved its worth in the four wars that India has fought…

Artillery is a combat arm which has proved its worth in the four wars that India has fought as also the Kargil Conflict of 1999. Artillery has also maintained our ascendancy of fires across the Line of Control (LOC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). It spoke volumes when Pakistan undertook a unilateral cease fire in 2003 due to our accurate engagement of critical targets along the LOC. Yet we have to be prepared for a two-front war against China and Pakistan. It is indeed a difficult task particularly to provide firepower simultaneously on both the fronts. To undertake operations under such conditions, Artillery must be prepared to modernise and enhance its force structure to enable preponderance of firepower.

The task of the Artillery regiments would be to provide surveillance, leading to a judicious selection of targets, appropriate engagement of these targets and further undertake Post Strike Damage Assessment to confirm the state of the target and undertake further engagement to ensure destruction of the selected target. This would require surveillance and target acquisition equipment as also guns, mortars, rockets and missiles. It is pertinent to note that China and Pakistan are modernising their Artillery with state-of-the-art equipment. To match their capabilities we need to modernise our Artillery with speed and military precision.

Modernisation of Firepower in the Indian Context

Kashmir: State Must Get the Narrative Right

Rahul Bhonsle 
Aug 2, 2016 

Kashmir: State Must Get the Narrative Right

Terrorism combines politics and security. The security dimension targets terrorists which has to be employed in a nuanced way by counter-terrorist forces to achieve the political objective with a genuine impact on the psyche of the people whose support is essential by the antagonists on both sides of the divide.

The narrative in the battle for the hearts ruled by emotions assumes importance particularly in the era of mass media – both public and social. Thus every action has to be preceded and followed up by a narrative that strikes the right chord.

This story line cannot be manufactured at the spur of the moment but is borne out of entrenched beliefs in the socio-political landscape. However, the narrative can be deftly manipulated for short periods of time playing on the collective emotion of the people.

This phenomenon was more than evident in the Kashmir of July 2016 after the killing of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The security forces and nationalists parties in Jammu and Kashmir hailed the death of a declared terrorist leader who had a reward of Rs 10 Lakhs on his head; however the narrative was usurped by the separatists as well as Pakistani leaders from across the Line of Control (LOC) who declared Wani a martyr.

The plot was further stretched by launching a pre-meditated campaign to expose innocent youth to actions by security forces undertaken to prevent anarchy in the Valley. Where this led to casualties this was further given a spin of violence against unarmed civilians.

India’s Future Is Urban; Our Cities Need Article 370 More Than Kashmir

August 2, 2016

India’s cities need freedom from both Delhi and state capitals to grow and create wealth.

A simple downpour is enough to disrupt traffic in Bengaluru, India’s alleged Silicon Valley. The only valleys one finds are on main roads, and they are called potholes, though they are more like craters. In Delhi, a motorcyclist was killed after he fell into one, and a truck ran over him. In Navi Mumbai, ‎they are building an expensive airport where land sharks made tonnes of money selling pieces of land, but there is no sense of how to cart passengers from there to Mumbai’s city centre.

In all Indian cities, private vehicles and hawkers have occupied public roads for want of parking space and due to high shop rentals elsewhere, even as public transport takes a back seat. In none of India’s major cities can you buy a home without being in an annual income bracket of over Rs 50 lakh.

India is on the road to economic disaster and demographic danger, as it is locked into a rural mindset. India’s urban centres need Article 370, which gives Jammu & Kashmir autonomy from central laws and debilities, more than Kashmir.

J&K: Indian Media Should Focus On Pak Crimes And Pandits, Not Separatist Agenda

August 2, 2016

Is there a conspiracy behind attempts to keep the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on the boil and create the impression that it is ready to embrace Pakistan? 

The Pakistani designs on Kashmir are all too familiar – but all their attempts have failed. 

It is inexplicable that India does not react to the Pakistani propaganda about ‘atrocities’ in Kashmir. 

India cannot withdraw its forces from the state as long as the threat from Pakistan and their local hirelings exists. 

The Indian government has to show more firmness in dealing with the pro-Pakistan militants.

Is there a conspiracy behind attempts to keep the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on the boil and create the impression that it is ready to embrace Pakistan? 

The incidents of violence and clashes are becoming frequent, which help the anti-India propaganda blast from Pakistan reach a crescendo.

Pakistan In Indian Diplomatic Cross Hairs – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila 
JULY 31, 2016

In July 2016, Pakistan suddenly finds itself in India’s diplomatic crosshairs due to its political over-reach on Kashmir by Pakistan’s apex levels attempting to maximise Pakistan-generated unrest in Kashmir Valley.

India has put Pakistan on notice by what amounts to a calibrated downgrade of diplomatic relations with Pakistan. Yesterday, India’s decision to ask Indian diplomats to withdraw their children from schools in Islamabad and send them back to India or abroad obviously indicates that India may be contemplating stronger diplomatic responses Pakistan’s continued vitriolism on Kashmir Valley unrest.

Pakistan currently has politically and militarily over-reached itself on Kashmir Valley unrest orchestrated by it. It even led Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif to grandiosely assert that Kashmir would soon be part of Pakistan. While this assertion may be under Pakistan Army Chief’s pressures or domestic politics compulsions, the fact remains that the Pakistani establishment has miscalculated India’s responses on this issue

China-Pakistan’s all Weather Friendship: Who is CPEC Benefiting Anyway?

By Tridivesh Singh Maini
03 Aug , 2016

Recently, Pakistan sought to internationalize Kashmir, yet again, with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government making provocative statements and declaring July 20 as ‘Black Day’ to ‘protest’ against the alleged human rights violation in Kashmir. It is interesting to note that the Black Day was preceded by what is farcically celebrated as the ‘Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan Day’, falling on July 19. The violence in Kashmir has however, overshadowed some important events which have taken place in the context of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

The first is China’s dissatisfaction with the project due to incessant tossing of decisions between different ministries within the civilian structures of governance in Pakistan, all of which have made Beijing to invite and allow the Pakistani military to take the lead role in this project. Beijing’s faith in the General Headquarters (GHQ) came as no surprise because unlike other countries, it is not really bothered about the civil-military relationship, or the strengthening of democracy in Pakistan.

China knows that the Pakistani army can secure the Chinese workers who are stationed in Pakistan working on this USD 46 billion worth project. In fact, 15,000 troops have already been hired for the security of these workers. In the last couple of years, Raheel Sharif has been calling the shots and Nawaz Sharif has to content himself with this ceding of political space. Perhaps, the latter does not have the appetite to deal with another all out conflict with GHQ.

The second important development is the possibility of some projects in Balochistan and Sindh getting shelved. According to a news report in the Express Tribune, ‘among the projects facing the axe are four Sindh-based schemes, including the Engro surface mine in Block–II of Thar Coal with a capacity of 3.8 million metric tonnes per annum, the 1,320MW Engro Thar coal-fired power plant, the 1,320MW Sino-Sindh Resource Limited Power Plant in Thar Coal Block-I, and the 1,320MW Thar Mine Mouth Oracle coal-fired power plant. The Balochistan-based project includes the 660MW HUBCO coal-fired coastal power plant’.

The Soviet-Afghanistan War: Direct and Indirect Intervention

August 1, 2016

The Soviet-Afghanistan War: Direct and Indirect Intervention

The Soviet (USSR) Intervention in Afghanistan from 1979-1989 was a long drawn out conflict that bled supposedly unending Soviet resources, and ultimately helped lead to a global shift in power. The Soviet defeat changed the course of world politics. To understand how the Soviet intervention came to take place one must look at the Regional Security Complex (RSC). Afghanistan straddles the border between the Middle Eastern complex and the South Asian complex; it acts as an insulator state with little influence over either region, although the regions themselves influence it. It is also helpful to note that the RSC’s in the Cold War were heavily influenced by the Cold War policies of the Superpowers; the USSR did not want to lose influence within the two regions and see the United States (US) begin to dominate them. The most substantial question when looking at the Soviet Afghanistan War is why did the two superpowers of the Cold War era decide, as in the case of the Soviet Union to intervene directly in Afghanistan, and in the case of the United States and her allies ‘delegate’ or use the Mujahedin to fight the Soviet Union. Regan (1998) hypothesizes that governments were more likely to intervene during the Cold War, in a limited time frame, and when certain domestic and international conditions are met. Idean Salehyan’s 2010 article is particularly helpful when studying the American response and why the U.S. and its allies ‘delegated’ responsibility to foreign Afghan nationals, hypothesizing that the reasons include cost-effectiveness, Cold War tensions, and lack of local knowledge. This article will show why the USSR and the US decided to intervene directly and indirectly and how the RSC’s influenced their decisions.

The purpose of this paper is to discern why the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan, and why the United States and its allies delegated to the Mujahedin. However a brief historical context is needed to understand the Soviet-Afghanistan War. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan began in December of 1979. The USSR invaded in order to put down mutinies within the army and to ensure that the pro-Soviet Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) stayed in power. Within the next year the USSR was drawn into increasingly hostile engagements throughout Afghanistan. By 1980 the US and other nations had begun to supply the rebel group known as the Mujahedin. Over the next decade fighting would take its toll on the Afghani population but also the USSR itself, which became war weary. In 1986 the US supplied surface-to-air missiles to even the playing field between the Mujahedin and the USSR airpower. A year later the USSR started a withdrawal of troops, the last Soviet troops were withdrawn in 1989. The primary actors in this conflict were the USSR and the Afghan proxy government that it propped up and the Mujahedin rebels that fought against the Soviets. Secondary actors include the United States, Pakistan, China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, all of which supplied the rebels in their fight against the USSR. In keeping with the aforementioned focus, details of the war are kept to a minimum unless they directly relate to one of the theories that are posited here.

Unravelling China’s state sponsored cyber war with Project CameraShy

1 August 2016 

A new intelligence report claims to have uncovered Chinese state-sponsored cyber attacks against military, diplomatic and economic targets across South-East Asia. Julian Turner talks to Rich Barger of ThreatConnect about Project CameraShy and the fight for supremacy in the South China Sea.

Located at the crux of where the Pacific and Indian Oceans meet, the South China Sea is one of the most hotly-contested geopolitical regions on Earth. A critical thoroughfare for the global economy, five trillion dollars in bilateral trade and nearly a third of all global oil transit the territory every year.

Concerns that the South China Sea could become a military flashpoint have now escalated as China's increasingly aggressive policy strains relationships with the US and its South-East Asian neighbours.

Beijing has drawn a so-called "nine-dash line" over the South China Sea, a huge territorial claim that stretches 200 miles south and east from the province of Hainan, backed by island-building and naval patrols. In October, the US challenged Chinese hegemony by sailing a destroyer within 12-nautical miles of the artificial islands, the first in a series of actions planned to assert freedom of navigation.

The battle for political and tactical primacy in the South China Sea is also being fought in cyberspace; and the publication of Project CameraShy has brought the scale of that espionage into sharp relief.

U.S. Focus on South China Sea Risks Ceding Ground to China in Africa

International tensions continue to mount in the wake of The Hague ruling on July 12 that China’s claims to the South China Sea have no legal basis. Considering what’s at stake, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. U.S. trade accounts for $1.2 trillion of the $5.3 trillion of trade that passes through the South China Sea each year. As the Council on Foreign Relations recently noted, a crisis in the South China Sea would seriously impact both regional economies, as well as our own, increasing insurance rates and necessitating longer transits from port to port. That the South China Sea may, by Chinese estimates, yield 130 billion barrels of oil (more than any area of the globe except Saudi Arabia), only compounds the importance of a peaceful resolution. However, as U.S. focus intensifies in one area of the globe, it wanes in another. It means that, even if we get our way in the South China Sea, we risk losing big in the game of globalization. While the U.S. is busy leading complicated diplomatic processes in Asia, China continues expanding its influence elsewhere, specifically, in the very regions that have moved down the list of U.S. foreign policy priorities.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than in Djibouti, a country situated on the northeast coast of Africa described by U.S. Ambassador Tom Kelly as “at the forefront of [U.S.] national security policy” but one that few Americans understand in terms of strategic value. Though small in size, Djibouti plays a vital role in U.S. national security. It houses our only permanent military base on the African continent and positions us within striking distance of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQIP) and al-Shabaab, in Somalia.

Uber’s Exit Shows China’s Mercantilist Leaning; We Should Follow Suit

August 2, 2016

The simple point to underscore is this: with fair traders we play fair, and with mercantilist players we turn mercantilist and protectionist.

The impending exit of Uber, the app-based taxi services provider, from China shows the difference between how China supports its local entrepreneurs and how India doesn’t. China follows a mercantilist policy when it comes to encouraging investment, with the dice loaded heavily in favour of the local incumbent while in India there is no such indulgence.

Whether it is Amazon or Facebook or Google or Apple or Uber, local champs have used their better knowledge of culture and strong state support to see off their international rivals.‎ China is a huge violator of World Trade Organisation (WTO) fair trade rules - and has benefited hugely from it.

Contrast that with India. Here Flipkart and Snapdeal are losing local market share to Amazon - with Alibaba of China coming next to challenge both Amazon and the local biggies. Now, Uber will come to India with big bucks and a superior platform to challenge Ola.

While we should see this as India’s greater fairness in dealing with global competitors, it is also a testimony to our lackadaisical attitude to supporting our own businesses, where we have been erecting barriers to ease of doing business - as the various state-level roadblocks to taxi aggregators shows. While India may be rising in rank on the ease of doing business, the real improvement will happen when the corrupt bureaucracy is tamed and regulations seen not as another way to make money, but as vehicles to ensure a level playing field between competitors.


AUGUST 2, 2016

An unprecedented display of Chinese strategic systems over disputed territories in the South China Sea reflects China’s efforts to signal its resolve following a diplomatic defeat.

After the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal ruled July 12 in favor of the Philippines’ case, invalidating many of China’s territorial and other claims in the South China Sea, Beijing has sought to demonstrate its military strength in the region. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) long-range strategic bomber, the H-6K, has played a key role in projecting Chinese military power via publicized flights over the South China Sea. Since early May, state-run media have released photos and videos of H-6Ks flying over Fiery Cross Reef, Scarborough Shoal, Mischief Reef and Livock Reef in the southern Spratly Islands, as well as Woody Island in the northern Paracel Islands. “Combat readiness patrols” by H-6Ks and other PLAAF aircraft “will continue on regularized basis,” a PLAAF spokesman said July 18.

The release of the H-6K footage follows an expanding array of PLA Navy aircraft and systems that have been deployed to land features controlled by China in the South China Sea. In May of last year, The Wall Street Journalreported that China had deployed artillery to one reclaimed island in the Paracels. By February of this year, the PLA had deployed surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) on Woody Island, although a recent report suggests the SAMs were removed just before the July 12 ruling. In March, the PLA fired an anti-ship cruise missile from a system deployed to Woody Island. PLA Naval Aviation J-11 and JH-7 fighters were also deployed on Woody Island last October as well as in February and April of this year. And in May of this year, J-11 fighters conducted an intercept of U.S. aircraft above the South China Sea that the Department of Defense characterized as “unsafe.”

Ukraine’s Deadly Profession: Three Journalists Attacked in July

JULY 27, 2016

People stand near the coffin containing the body of journalist Pavel Sheremet who was killed by a car bomb, during a memorial service in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

On July 20, investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet was assassinated in Kyiv. Sheremet hosted a morning show at Radio Vesti and was a top reporter atUkrainska Pravda. A crusading journalist and native of Minsk, Belarus, he had already been expelled from both Belarus and Russia. He was killed by a car bomb.

It would be easy to dismiss Sheremet’s murder as an outlier. Unfortunately, it’s anything but. His death is merely the most drastic example of the steady deterioration of press freedom in Ukraine in recent months.

One day before Sheremet’s murder, Maria Rydvan, the editor of Forbes Ukraine, was stabbed three times in Kyiv; she had been walking in the park of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. Fortunately her injuries were only minor.

On July 25, the head of Business Censor, Sergei Golovnyova, was beaten in the well-to-do Podil section of Kyiv by two men who took nothing from him.

Kristina Berdynskykh, a reporter for the New Time magazine who often writes about Ukraine’s oligarchs, said she has received multiple death threats in recent months. No charges have been brought against any suspects.

Training Ukraine: Turning a Soviet Army Into a Modern Force

By Paul D. Shinkman | Senior National Security Writer
Aug. 2, 2016

YAVORIV, Ukraine – The AK-47 bullets a Ukrainian infantry platoon is using for live fire exercises on this refurbished army base were boxed in 1983. Encased in cumbersome but durable layers of plastic, cardboard and metal wrapping, they still function suitably well

That the Ukrainian military must rely on 33-year-old Soviet-era rifle rounds says a lot about how these forces fight. In many ways, they themselves are also products of a prior era that has found a new purpose in battle.

"We weren't ready for this war," says Danilo, the infantry platoon's assistant commander who asked his last name be withheld. He speaks flatly while taking a break between iterations of this exercise, the chin strap undone on the helmet he wears in his armored command vehicle. He makes exaggerated air quotes as he stresses whom he's here to learn how to kill more effectively: "We were not expecting that from our 'brothers.'"

Danilo has family from Russia, which has made the resurgent power's activities along its border with Ukraine in the last two years that much more troubling for him. His frustration is compounded by his own military's shortcomings.

In the years after the collapse of the Soviet empire, the need diminished in Ukraine and elsewhere for a state-of-the-art army following Western promises it would protect these new allies in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons, through a set of agreements known as the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. Ukraine's military atrophied and fractured into a series of disparate brigades that the central government in Kiev is desperately trying to stitch back together, now with the help of American and NATO support.


AUGUST 2, 2016

When news of the attempted coup in Turkey broke, Russian social media had fun with posts such as a shot of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu grinning, captioned “defense minster learns army can change government.” Of course, thecoup failed, Shoigu is no dictator-in-waiting, and arguably the attempt was a godsend to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now using it as an excuse for a far-reaching purge. Nonetheless, the comparison between the Turkish and Russian situations offers some timely insights into when armies become aspirant and plausible kingmakers and kingbreakers — and how they can be tamed and caged.

Keep Them Apolitical

A happy military is a supportive military. However, one cannot draw a neat connection between material goodies and quiescence. The Russian armed forces are adequately well-paid now, but back in the 1990s and early 2000s, when they were paid a pittance and frequently in arrears, there were still no serious stirrings. In 1993, Russian military units either sat out a brutal brief clash between President Boris Yeltsin and his parliament or else actively backed the Kremlin’s unconstitutional coup against an anachronistic and unpleasant legislature. Conversely, professionals within the Turkish military are pretty well paid (although most are still conscripts), even if conditions are tough. Yet the critical issue for the coup-makers was not material well-being, but political dissatisfaction.

Cyberwarfare a Double-edged Sword for Authoritarian States

The recent and rather public hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton Campaign has been widely attributed to Russia. While Moscow has denied responsibility, the Clinton campaign has blamed Russian intelligence. One of the more concerning elements of the breach is that while being warned of the intrusion in April by the security consulting firm CrowdStrike, the hackers had been inside of the DNC’s servers for a year. While this inevitably raises questions around the cyber maturity of the DNC it also points to the reality that the networks operated by other political and diplomatic actors have also likely been breached. The people who depend on these networks for the carriage of their private communications will now need to develop new capability to detect and mitigate against these sorts of targeted intrusions.

Political parties, diplomats and businesses have all been on the receiving end of targeted and likely state sponsored efforts to compromise communications. This reality, will undoubtedly impact on political, diplomatic and economic events within the countries where these attacks are targeted. North Korea, in one particularly interesting hack, probably impacted the level of free speech within the entertainment industry. Regardless the origin the hack, it has had an identifiable effect seen during the decisions of organizations to pull the release of the movie ‘The Interview’ after the hack. Subsequent to this, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York cancelled the release of the documentary ‘Under The Sun’ due to fear of potential retribution by North Korea. As such, even without direct confirmation of a state sponsored attach, the impact is undeniable.

Securing The Third Offset Strategy: Priorities For Next US Secretary Of Defense – Analysis

By Timothy A. Walton
July 27, 2016

Following a process of examining strategy, scenarios, and assessments, this article identifies for the next Secretary of Defense eight capability statements that merit attention as the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) top new investment priorities as part of the Third Offset Strategy in the fiscal year 2018 budget and beyond. Additionally, this article recommends that reforms to the analytical processes informing force planning decisions in general and the Third Offset Strategy in particular be guided by increased selectivity, transparency, and commonality.

Setting the Course

In November 2014, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new Defense Innovation Initiative, which included the Third Offset Strategy. The initiative seeks to maintain U.S. military superiority over capable adversaries through the development of novel capabilities and concepts. Secretary Hagel modeled his approach on the First Offset Strategy of the 1950s, in which President Dwight D. Eisenhower countered the Soviet Union’s conventional numerical superiority through the buildup of America’s nuclear deterrent, and on the Second Offset Strategy of the 1970s, in which Secretary of Defense Harold Brown shepherded the development of precision-guided munitions, stealth, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems to counter the numerical superiority and improving technical capability of Warsaw Pact forces along the Central Front in Europe.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has built on Hagel’s vision of the Third Offset Strategy, and the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget is the first major public manifestation of the strategy: approximately $3.6 billion in research and development funding dedicated to Third Offset Strategy pursuits.1 As explained by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, the budget seeks to conduct numerous small bets on advanced capability research and demonstrations, and to work with Congress and the Services to craft new operational concepts so that the next administration can determine “what are the key bets we’re going to make.”2