5 December 2016

**** The Student And The Hero

By Lt Gen H S Panag

Jagtar Singh is a soldier whom few remember, but for those who were in his Company, he remains an ideal of loyalty.

In 1969, a fresh lot of soldiers after doing their basic training joined the unit. As per tradition all were interviewed and assessed for their potential in specialised tasks and sports. Pampered army sportsmen may not be the best trained in fighting skills, but were never found wanting in spirit and courage. During the interview, one of the relatively weaker new soldiers – Sepoy Jagtar Singh – volunteered to take up wrestling. Seeing his physique, I suggested that he take up some other game. Jagtar insisted and explained that his grandfather was a renowned wrestler who laments the fact that his son (Jagtar's father) did not pursue wrestling and became a clerk. Not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm, I called Balkar Singh of Bravo Company, 4 Sikh, and told him to take Jagtar under his wing for training.

Balkar was a renowned wrestler. He had a number of podium finishes in the inter-services wrestling championship. Over the years, he had become an arrogant bully – traits which militate against the esprit de corps of Indian Army units. But he was tolerated much to the chagrin of other soldiers as he had won laurels for the unit. Good performance in wrestling meant accelerated promotions and within 12 years of service, he had become a Naik.

***** Army Building 1st Battlefield Cyber/Electronic Warfare Team


WASHINGTON: This afternoon, Army generals gathered to begin designing a new kind of unit, a tactical cyber/electronic warfare detachment, whose first experimental exercise overseas could be as early as next year. For the first time since the Cold War, at least a small part of the Army could have radio and radar jamming capabilities to match the Russians, who’ve used EW to devastating effect in Ukraine. For the first time ever, it could have hackers on the battlefield.

“The mission analysis just starts today,” Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost told reporters this morning. “We’re doing the kickoff meeting today with all the different stakeholders”: program managers, officers from the cyber/signal and intelligence centers, and more. Frost herself heads the brand-new cyber directorate (which also covers EW) of the Army’s headquarters staff in the Pentagon.

There’ve already been multiple wargames with experimental cyber/EW detachments over the last two years, but today’s meeting will begin the analysis to design a deployable, operational unit, using equipment that’s either off-the-shelf or from existing programs of record. “I’m hoping by January/February I can give you more (detail),” Frost told the Association of Old Crows conference here.

*** Deteriorating Security Situation in Afghanistan Opens the Door for the Return of ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban

Mujib Mashal and Eric Schmitt

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s security crisis is fueling new opportunities for Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other extremist groups, Afghan and American officials say, voicing new concerns that the original American mission in the country — removing its use as a terrorist haven — is at risk.

As intense Taliban offensives have taken large portions of territory out of the Afghan government’s hands, those spaces have become the stage for a resurgence of regional and international militant groups. That is despite the extended presence of nearly 10,000 American troops in the country, tasked with performing counterterrorism operations and supporting the Afghan forces that are bearing the brunt of the fighting.

Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the chief of the United States Central Command, said the Afghan government now controls only about 60 percent of the country, the Taliban hold sway over about 10 percent, and the remainder is contested. Which group or groups fill those voids of increasing ungoverned territory in Afghanistan “is something we’ll have to contend with,” he said.

“We have to be concerned about this — about the Taliban pulling together and cooperating and collaborating with other terrorist organizations,” General Votel said at a security forum in Washington this week.

To read the rest of the article, click here.



During the presidential debates, the myriad policy challenges in South Asia were not discussed. Yet it is South Asia where some of the most obdurate and intractable policy challenges reside. In Afghanistan, U.S. troops continue fighting the longest war in American history. Pakistan, formally feted as an ally, continues to behave as an enemy by taking U.S. money while supporting the Taliban who kill U.S. troops and civilians as well as those of our Afghan and international allies. Pakistan also has the dubious distinction of being the world’s worst nuclear proliferator, whether measured in terms of its fissile material production, bomb making, missile manufacturing, or its blatant introduction of battlefield nuclear weapons into its arsenal. Pakistan continues to extort the global exchequer with the ever-present taunt that it is “too dangerous to fail.” India — despite ongoing domestic challenges with religious freedoms, caste-base violence and discrimination, as well as episodic revelations of Indians joining the self-proclaimed Islamic State — remains the most promising country in South Asia. U.S.-Indian relations have deepened and broadened since President Bill Clinton’s opening to India in 1997. However, attention is needed to ensure that these important gains are not reversed.

Making them great again - There is a horrible circularity to events in the old world

Fidel has got out before liberal democracy finally collapses. Not, of course, that anyone could accuse him of being a liberal democrat. The death of one of the most extreme and, one might think, successful proponents of the Left reminds us of the demons of that end of the political spectrum that succeeded the tyrants of the Right. Now just look where we are going again all over Europe and with the clowns about to take over the circus in the United States of America. There is a horrible circularity to what is happening in the old world. In the US, new ground is being broken but it is all part of the same picture in a world that has globalized since the last turn of the wheel.

Why, o why is the quiet voice of moderation and the centre always overwhelmed by strident extremes? Too boring? Moderation doesn't make the trains go on time, the health and education systems work and doesn't really reach the disaffected and poor at all? Democracy has never made up its mind about anything? We all know by now that one-sized democracy definitely doesn't fit all. We, in the so-called liberal West, have tried to cram whole populations and, often, by force, whole populations of other countries as well under too small an umbrella marked liberal democracy. Too many people have been left out to drown in the rain or burn under the sun. Moderate politicians all look the same, act the same and appear, here at least in recent years, to be members of a club that merely casts the crumbs from its table to its subordinates at home and to subaltern states abroad.

Kashmir’s hidden uprising

Jean Dreze
A historic popular uprising is happening in Kashmir, but the Indian public is barely aware of it. I was unaware of it myself before I went there in October and travelled across the Kashmir Valley. I had read, of course, about some sort of “shutdown” happening there since early July, and also about the stone-pelting and pellet guns. But nothing I had read did justice to the situation on the ground.

The first thing that strikes the visitor on entering Kashmir is the massive military presence. Heavily-armed soldiers and paramilitary forces are all over the place. Their number is estimated at 6,00,000 or so, for a population of six million — that’s one soldier for 10 civilians. In sensitive areas such as Sopore, Shopian and even parts of Srinagar, there is a heavily-armed soldier in front of almost every house, at least on the main roads.

Why are these soldiers there? Clearly, they are not there to repel a possible attack from Pakistan — that would require them to be near the border. Nor are they watching for terrorists: Standing at street corners in full battle gear is not the way to hound underground militants. Perhaps the soldiers are there to counter stone-pelters? That makes no sense either, because the simplest way to clear a neighbourhood of stone-pelters is to demilitarise it: The stones are directed at army personnel, not civilians.

Should India Worry About Trump's Climate Change Stance?

By Sanjna Sudan

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” So tweeted an American businessman, Donald J. Trump, in 2012.

Come 2016, and climate change activists around the world shudder at the thought of this tweet, for Trump has been elected the next president of the United States. In early November the Eiffel Tower was lit green to commemorate the Paris Agreement on climate change; just a few days later, diplomats and climate change activists alike were wondering about the future of the agreement with Trump as the president.

In India, where New Delhi’s toxic smog and pictures of toxic foam flowing out of the Yamuna river have made headlines, it is indeed difficult to picture a future without strong commitment and a sense of urgency toward a cleaner and greener tomorrow — both especially important coming from the United States, which was responsible for the highest carbon dioxide emissions in the world for decades before being overtaken by China. Though the United States is a key signatory to the Paris agreement today, it never ratified the previous climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol.

The Problem Of Indian Judiciary Everyone’s Talking But Doing Nothing About—Tribunals

Navdeep Singh 

Away from the real or perceived friction between the executive and the judiciary, it is widespread tribunalisation which is slowly eating away core judicial functions, thereby denuding real courts and imperiling actual independence of the judiciary

The recent statement of the Chief Justice of India on non-availability of chairpersons, members and infrastructure for tribunals again reflects a dangerous obsession with these bodies which have their roots in the emergency era and the 42nd Amendment. While much focus remained on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) verdict, what escaped notice is the irony that the cardinal principle of separation of powers is more under threat via reckless tribunalisation in our country, which tacitly, is not only ensuring the control of the uninitiated over judicial functioning but also curtailing access to justice for the common citizen. Away from the real or perceived friction between the executive and the judiciary, it is widespread tribunalisation which is slowly eating away core judicial functions, thereby denuding real courts and imperiling actual independence of the judiciary. Even the Prime Minister’s very valid and introspective question last year on the desirability of tribunalisation has failed to dent our complacent thought process. And it seems that many in the judiciary and government also are not keen to rock the boat for the concept provides comfortable post retirement sinecure.

JC Bose: Rigorous Scientist, And Profound Thinker In The Indic Tradition

Aravindan Neelakandan 

In Bose we have a scientist-seer who resonates with Indian spirit and values in the most profound sense of the terms

In April 2016, in the renowned journal ‘Frontiers of Psychology’, Anthony Trewavas, a molecular biologist from University of Edinburgh, who has been working on plant perceptions, published a paper in which he stated:

Environmental awareness likely indicates consciousness. Spontaneity in plant behavior, ability to count to five and error correction indicate intention. Volatile organic compounds are used as signals in plant interactions and being complex in composition may be the equivalent of language accounting for self and alien recognition by individual plants.

The paper has 96 references. The oldest reference was the work of JC Bose: ‘Plant Response as a Means of Physiological Investigation. New York, NY: Longmans Green and Co.’ 1906 – 110 years old.

The Great Gamble

V Anantha Nageswaran 

With demonetisation, the Prime Minister has taken a huge risk — both economic and political. He must succeed, because this move could transform both our economy and our society.

As I write this, it is two weeks since America learnt that its next President would be Donald Trump. Large sections of America are yet to come to terms with it. It is also two weeks since Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on television and announced that currency notes with the existing denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 would not be legal tender with immediate effect. India is yet to come to terms with it on the ground, on the air and in print.

In our recently published report “Can India grow?”, Gulzar Natarajan and I wrote the following about the kind of leadership that India needed:

“Leaders can break down resistance with appeasement or with empowerment, combined with accountability. Appeasement buys peace and cooperation in the short term but at the cost of potential long-term damage. At the same time, enforcing accountability is not costless. In the short term, adverse economic consequences are possible, resulting in personal unpopularity. But visionary leaders trade off short-term popularity for long-term national interest. When decisions — choices and trade-offs — are made with the consistent application of values and ethical norms, the credibility of the decisions and that of the leadership will be enhanced. The public will understand and accept decisions better. This takes time, often longer than an electoral cycle. Hence, risks need to be taken. But conviction and communication could make such risk taking electorally rewarding, too.”

An astute and diplomatic chooser

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

In his story of "the making of India's foreign policy", Shivshankar Menon presents a "practioner's view, not a theorist's". He focuses on five specific diplomatic issues from India's recent history with which he was directly involved as a government official. Being a player in the apex echelon of State machinery, Menon needs to weigh seriously each and every word.

'Choice' is the crux of governance, and foreign policy decisions of every government revolve around multiple 'choices' wherefrom to choose. The border dispute with China took an enormously tortuous course that to this day remains unresolved, initiatives and experiments with several choices notwithstanding. For both China and India, there is still 'a prisoner of the past' scenario pertaining to territorial adjustment in which leaders of both sides may be flexible only at the peril of losing their power and position owing to domestic compulsions. After all, it was apparent that there were serious differences between China and India about the line of actual control in several areas.

Taliban seizes cache of weapons after overrunning district in Kandahar


When the Taliban assaulted the district of Ghorak in Kandahar last month, it seized a number of US-made weapons that were supplied to the Afghan security forces from a base that was overrun. Additionally, a number of Afghan soldiers were killed during a nighttime assault that was captured on video.

The Taliban released a video, entitled “The Conquest of Ghorak” on its propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, on Nov. 29. The jihadist group claimed it overran Ghorak’s district center on Nov. 19 however this has not been confirmed in the Afghan press. The video gives credence to the Taliban’s claim.

The Taliban assaulted a base outside of the town of Ghorak that appears to have been manned by a company of Afghan troops during the night of Nov. 18. After heavy fighting, which was captured on a video at a distance through a night vision camera, Taliban fighters entered the base. The bodies of dozens of Afghan troops are seen laying on the ground throughout the base.

China and Russia: Gaming the West

By François Godement

ECFR’s “China Analysis” series provides a window into the foreign policy debates within the country. The short articles in this edition focus on the “axis of convenience” between China and Russia – i.e., they look at the possibility of a newly minted alliance treaty between the two countries; Beijing’s possible role in Moscow’s military strategy; Sino-Russian economic competition and cooperation, and more.

In September 2016, Russia held joint naval manoeuvres in the South China Sea with China, bringing some of its best ships to the party. Two weeks later, China shied away from joining Russia in a veto of yet another Western resolution on Syria at the UN. The discrepancy sums up the extent and the limits of the strategic convergence between both countries.

The “axis of convenience” between China and Russia has, without question, grown larger. And the positive dynamics pushing cooperation forward are largely economic. But there is also a negative dynamic, coming from the West. Both countries have a perception of regime insecurity that emerges from the international promotion of democracy, and the attractiveness of corruption-free and comparably safe Western societies for individuals, be they Chinese or Russian.

Russia’s Military Strategy: China’s Partner, Model, or Competitor?

by Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix

At the time of the Crimean crisis in 2014, an editorialin the Global Times concluded that Russia’s military power is Moscow’s trump card. So, the article suggested that “China should speed up its military modernisation”, because “once the confrontation between the West and Russia goes out of control, it is China that will suffer”. But Chinese authors have various assessments of the real state of Russia’s military strength, and of the degree to which Moscow is prepared to partner or compete with Beijing to achieve its goals.
Is Russia a weak power?

In 2013, China’s Academy of Military Science’s Department of Military Strategy published a third edition of the Science of Military Strategy (战略学, zhanlüe xue). This exhaustive 276-page manual dedicates four pages to a short description and analysis of Russia’s military strategy. In these four pages, the Chinese authors describe the overall transformation of the Russian military strategy since the end of the Cold War. They note a shift from a global military strategy to a regional military strategy focused on the homeland, with new strategic frontlines centred on the restricted corridors of the Baltic and Black Seas.

China warns Singapore

As Singapore confronts difficult choices, it must sound out New Delhi.

It is an open secret that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) train in the Republic of China in Taiwan, and the two countries have enjoyed a quiet, but very productive partnership since the early 1970s. Like how actors in ’70s Hindi movies used to become totally unrecognisable merely by putting on a moustache and a beard, Singapore’s soldiers would become Taiwanese ones when they exercised in that country. The subterfuge was out of respect for diplomatic niceties, to placate the People’s Republic of China. For instance, Singapore service personnel would assume Taiwanese aliases. Sometimes this would lead to hilarious outcomes: like when my friend, an ethnic-Tamil Singaporean infantry platoon commander, had to pass off as Chong Wai-kiong.

Singapore’s defence cooperation with Taiwan (Project Starlight) predates the establishment of diplomatic relations with China. For its part, Beijing was content with this arrangement, even when it came close to war with Taiwan in the mid-1990s. Ian Storey writes that Li Peng, then China’s Premier, said that China ‘should not mind too much’ if Singapore continued its military relationship with Taiwan, but had asked that this be done discreetly.

The Silk Road Goes North: Sino-Russian Economic Cooperation and Competition

by Michal Makocki

President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China in May 2014 was an important milestone in China-Russia relations. Isolated by the post-Ukraine sanctions regime, Russia turned to China not only for political support but also as an alternative to Western markets and investment. The leaders of the two countries touted trade and economic cooperation as one of the key pillars of their comprehensive strategic partnership. Lofty goals were established, including to reach a bilateral trade volume of $100 billion by 2015; to enable China to tap the East Siberian gas fields through the Power of Siberia pipeline; and to allow China to invest in infrastructure in Russia, in particular in the underdeveloped Russian Far East.

Two years since the visit, progress on many of the goals is mixed at best. Despite the rhetoric, the China-Russia relationship continues to suffer from strategic mistrust, preventing the two sides from fully embracing mutual commercial opportunities. This is particularly the case for projects that would lock the two countries into long-term dependency, such as the Power of Siberia pipeline. Bilateral trade has not been going as well as could be hoped, either: with a 28 percent decrease from the previous year, bilateral trade between China and Russia totalled $64 billion in 2015 – well short of the stated target, as Liu Changmin observes. In spite of setbacks like this, the majority of the Chinese research community continues to emphasise the enormous potential of economic cooperation between the two countries. However, some authors disagree, suggesting the possibility of a less cooperative relationship, or even a direct clash, between the two countries, especially in Central Asia.
Russia’s missed opportunity

The NSA-Cyber Command Divorce Is Inching Closer to Reality


Even if the spending-bill provision becomes law, the split may not happen until 2018. 

The final draft of an annual defense policy bill, released Wednesday, elevates U.S. Cyber Command to a full combatant command and sets strict conditions before it can be split from its sister intelligence agency, the National Security Agency.

CYBERCOM has been run in a “dual hat” system by the NSAdirector since its inception in 2010. The Obama administration has long considered splitting the two jobs to draw cleaner lines between the government’s military and intelligence cyber functions, but that move is opposed by many lawmakers, including Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R.-Ariz., who says the military’s cyber defense will be damaged if it can’t rely on NSA expertise.

The compromise National Defense Authorization Act places a number of conditions on splitting the two, including certifying to congressional armed services committees that CYBERCOM’s weapons, capabilities, command and control systems, and staffing are all up to snuff. The split could also not happen before CYBERCOM reaches full operational capability, which is scheduled for 2018.

It Will Take More Than A Wall To Solve Border Crime

Scott Stewart

Nearly a month has passed since U.S. voters chose their next president, and over the past few weeks it has become a little clearer how the policies of President Donald Trump will differ from the promises of candidate Trump. As we have seen since January 2009, when newly elected President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign pledges of change and hope, reality has a way of constraining a leader's ability to effect real change. More often than not, the policies that presidents put into practice look very different from the ideas they put forth on the campaign trail.

The same will probably be true of Trump's vow to seal the U.S.-Mexico border by building a wall. One of the biggest problems with this proposal is that the flow of illegal immigrants and contraband between the two countries is not a simple matter of physical security, international relations, or customs and immigration law. Rather, the cross-border movement of goods and people is driven by formidable economic forces that are powerful enough to overwhelm any barrier - just as they have with walls built for the same purpose in the past.

Anyone who knows me or has read my columns is aware that I love to analyze criminal and terrorist tactics. As a former special agent who spent years investigating bombings, crime and fraud, those subjects get my blood pumping much faster than talk of politics and economics. (Needless to say, I wasn't at all excited when I was forced to take economics in high school and college.) That said, the more I study criminal trends, the more I see the principles of economics at work.

Russia Says Foreign Spy Agencies Preparing Cyberattacks on Banks

Russia accused foreign spy agencies of preparing cyberattacks in dozens of cities to try to undermine its banking system.

Attacks may begin on Monday with the goal “of destabilizing the financial system of the Russian Federation, including the activities of a number of major Russian banks,” the Federal Security Service, the successor body to the Soviet-era KGB, said in a website statement Friday.

The attackers plan to use servers based in The Netherlands that belong to a Ukrainian hosting company, BlazingFast, the security agency known as the FSB said. The plot involves mass distribution of text messages and social-media blogs alleging a crisis in Russia’s financial system including bankruptcies and the removal of licenses from well-known federal and regional banks, it said.

The warning follows accusations that Russia meddled in U.S. presidential elections by hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Russian central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina has pointed to new financial technologies as the biggest challenge for the regulator. Banks themselves are equally at threat: A commercial bank in Ecuador said it was held up for $12 million last year, while a bank in Vietnam said criminals tried, and failed, to steal $1.1 million in what experts say may have been a practice run for Bangladesh. In February, thieves made off with $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh.

Russia Has Created a New Encrypted Internet for Its Military

December 2, 2016

Russia recently revealed that it had created a separate, encrypted Internet for its military. They call it CTDT (Closed Data Transfer Segment) and it was tested in combat for the first time this year in Syria. This is similar to the classified Internet used by the American military. The U.S. Department of Defense has two private Internets (using Internet technology, but not directly connected to the public Internet). NIPRNET (Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network) is unclassified, and the primary network for American military personnel. SIPRNET (Secure Internet Protocol Router Network) is classified, and all traffic is encrypted so you can use it to send top secret stuff. NIPRNET is the largest private network on the planet, with over four million authorized users and over three times as many devices (PCs, and other electronic equipment) connected. If this sounds vague, it is, because NIPRNET has grown steadily, since it was created (from the earlier MILNET) in the 1980s.

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Defense is spent $10 million to have a civilian firm create a roadmap for NIPRNET. This was an admission that that, in effect, NIPRNET had gotten a little out of control and the roadmap program was meant to find out how big it has gotten, and exactly what was in there. The survey also sought to find any instances where unauthorized users had quietly joined the net. This was suspected and the survey was the start of a major effort to clean interlopers out. The survey also looked for weakness in security. The Department of Defense has made several major efforts since 2005 to improve network security. But those efforts also revealed that weaknesses can show up in the strangest places and that was another reason to keep many aspects of the investigations and subsequent fixes secret.

Fidel Castro's Vietnam: Thousands of Cubans Were Sent More than 6,000 Miles Into a Bloody Civil War

Matt Purple
Fidel Castro is still dead. I say that only partway in jest, since the Cuban Americans I’ve spoken to this week are almost uneasy in their jubilation, as though El Comandante’s demise could prove a cruel joke and his hirsute countenance could reappear tomorrow on a balcony in Havana. Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, palled dungeons, concentration camps, squalid collective farms, the abrogation of essential freedoms, the annihilation of an economy, the luxuriant profiting of a regime at the expense of its people, the glazed eyes of useful idiots being shown around Potemkin hospitals and the omnipresent specter of a mushroom cloud.

It’s also one of foreign intervention, though you wouldn’t know it from Castro’s stridently anti-imperialist rhetoric. Cuba readily inserted itself into a number of foreign conflicts during the 1960s and 1970s, usually under the command of T-shirt tactician Che Guevara, whose modus operandi of “internationalism” compelled the fomenting of revolutionary movements towards the realization of a world workers’ paradise. These interventions took Cuban fighters to Bolivia, Guinea-Bissau and Somalia, but Havana’s heaviest investment was in Central Africa. Guevara viewed the Congo, located at the heart of the continent and roiled by violence, as a fulcrum that could be used to leverage revolution throughout Africa. He was both ambitious and naïve, superimposing his ideological vision on one of the world’s most turbulent regions without ever understanding the myriad conflicts that raged underneath.

Why Officers Can’t Easily Become Pentagon Heads


WASHINGTON – Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary, will need more than the usual Senate confirmation before being able to take office.

U.S. law states that a nominee for defense secretary must have been out of the active-duty military for seven years.

Mattis, 66, retired in 2013 after serving as the commander of the U.S. Central Command.

The requirement was originally set by law in 1947, when Congress established a minimum of 10 years out of active duty. It was changed to seven years in 2008.

But there’s a way around that restriction: Congress can approve a law bypassing it. That’s what will have to be done for Mattis.

Why Can’t the U.S. Military Win a War?

Andrew Bacevich

President-elect Donald Trump’s message for the nation’s senior military leadership is ambiguously unambiguous. After winning the election on Nov. 8, 2016, he went on 60 Minutes and had this exchange with journalist Lesley Stahl.

Trump: “We have some great generals. We have great generals.”

Stahl: “You said you knew more than the generals about [Islamic State].”

Trump: “Well, I’ll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they’ve done. Okay, look at the job they’ve done. They haven’t done the job.”

In reality, Trump, a former reality show host, knows next to nothing about Islamic State — one of many gaps in his education that his impending encounter with actual reality is likely to fill. Yet when it comes to America’s generals and winning wars, our president-to-be is onto something.

No doubt our three- and four-star officers qualify as “great” in the sense that they mean well, work hard and are altogether fine men and women. That they have not “done the job,” however, is indisputable — at least if their job is to bring America’s wars to a timely and successful conclusion.

Why Stalingrad Was the Bloodiest Battle of World War II (and Perhaps of All Time)

Daniel L. Davis

Since July 2012, the world has watched in horror as the once-beautiful and vibrant Syrian city of Aleppo has been transformed into a perpetual battlefield. Those killed in Aleppo, as well as throughout the rest of Syria during the civil war, are reported to be approximately three hundred thousand. During the U.S.-led war in Iraq from 2003–11, one study reported that 405,000 Iraqis were killedas a direct result of combat, and from 2001–15, an additional 91,991 people were killed due to war in Afghanistan, for a three-country total, over a fifteen-year period, of 796,991. As staggering as the death toll in these wars have been, it pales in comparison to what remains the world’s most barbaric city fight, the Battle of Stalingrad, in which an incomprehensible 1.9 million German and Soviet soldiers and civilians are estimated to have been killed in six months.

In June 1941 Hitler ordered a surprise invasion of the Soviet Union, and for most of the next year the German army routed the Soviet troops, capturing thousands of square kilometers of their country in the process. In August 1942 the German VI Army had pushed all the way to the banks of the Volga River, near the industrial heartland of the USSR. Once captured, the Nazis could sever the Volga, and potentially destroy Moscow’s ability to continue fighting. All they had to do was take one more city. Stalingrad.

What if Computers Become Smarter Than Humans?

You’re ordering tickets to a play or a big sports event online. You’re almost done when that annoying Captcha screen comes up and makes you type some blurry letters and numbers into a box. This step, as most people know, is to ensure that you’re just a person buying tickets and not a computer program deployed to illicitly to grab up a bunch of seats.

But why can’t a computer that can perform calculations astronomically faster than humans identify the letter B just because it’s in a fancy font with a strikethrough, or the number 5 in a fuzzy photo of a front door? Why is it so easily baffled by something the average second-grader can handle?

The answer lies in understanding the current state of artificial intelligence (AI) — what it’s capable of, what is still beyond its grasp, and how we may be rocketing toward an increasingly intelligent technology without enough thought about the implications for ourselves and our planet. This is according to Tim Urban, author of the quirky, stick-figure-illustrated, popular blog Wait But Why, which counts Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg among its fans. He spoke recently at the McNulty Leadership Program’s Authors@Wharton speaker series.

Advanced tech needed for 'inevitable' high-end conflict

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By: Mark Pomerleau

While initiatives such as the "third offset strategy" — despite seemingly being couched in so-called great power competition and developing tools for overmatch and offense — are actually aimed at ensuring conventional deterrence and peace, there is recognition that these capabilities are necessary to procure and operationalize in case a conflict ensues with another near-peer competitor.

However, a fight in a highly contested environment, which differs from the permissive counterinsurgency environments in which U.S. forces have fought for 15 years, is inevitable. “This future fight — and this is where I’ll say this is my opinion — a future fight that is inevitable, non-permissive operations in high-end contested and degraded operational environment — to me this is not a matter of if but when and we’re not as well prepared for it as we would like to be, which is why the [future] budget does put a lot of emphasis on those high-end technologies,” Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director for defense intelligence (warfighter support) at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, said Thursday at a breakfast hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.

Destructive Hacks Strike Saudi Arabia, Posing Challenge to Trump

Michael Riley

State-sponsored hackers have conducted a series of destructive attacks on Saudi Arabia over the last two weeks, erasing data and wreaking havoc in the computer banks of the agency running the country’s airports and hitting five additional targets, according to two people familiar with an investigation into the breach.
Saudi Arabia said after inquiries from Bloomberg News that “several” government agencies were targeted in attacks that came from outside the kingdom, according to state media. No further details were provided. 

Although a probe by Saudi authorities is still in its early stages, the people said digital evidence suggests the attacks emanated from Iran. That could present President-elect Donald Trump with a major national security challenge as he steps into the Oval Office.

The use of offensive cyber weapons by a nation is relatively rare and the scale of the latest attacks could trigger a tit-for-tat cyber war in a region where capabilities have mushroomed ever since an attack on Saudi Aramco in 2012.

Unlike the Aramco attack or the one by North Korea against Sony Pictures in 2014, the latest was perpetrated by detonating a cyber weapon inside the networks of several targets at once, the people said. Concerns over a broader campaign set off a search in computer networks throughout the Gulf for more traces of the digital bomb.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Calculate Your Car Insurance Premium

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Meeta Sabnis

Confused about why your car insurance premium is different in different places? Don't understand how it is being calculated? Here's a simple infographic to rescue you!

Please Note: The third party rate and service tax has been revised as per the new regulation on 1st April 2016 and 1st June 2016 respectively. We will soon update the infographic as per new mandate.