28 February 2013

Haqqani advice to Pak army: Look at borders, not politics

Feb 28 2013
Shubhajit Roy : New Delhi

Hussain Haqqani, Islamabad's former ambassador to Washington who resigned after the 'memogate' incident of 2011, Wednesday said his country's army needed to concentrate on defending Pakistan's borders, not on telling its politicians what to do inside.

"I want my army to succeed in the areas of responsibility for which they are raised... Armies are raised to defend frontiers... they are not raised to tell their political leaders what to do inside their country," Haqqani said during a talk on 'Democratic Pakistan — Vision and Reality' which he delivered at Jamia Millia Islamia.

Haqqani resigned under pressure from the Pakistani army after he was accused of drafting, along with President Asif Ali Zardari, a memo allegedly seeking US help against a possible military coup in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's killing.

In June 2012, a judicial commission found Haqqani guilty. Haqqani, who has been an adviser to three prime ministers and currently professor of Practice of International Relations at Boston University, denies the allegations.

On Pakistan's approach to terrorism, he said, "When Pakistan is accused internationally of being a country that has been tolerant towards terrorism, people like me argue within our country that this is not a problem others need to address. This is a problem we need to address... in the interest of Pakistan, because we are the victims of terrorism."

"Terrorism," Haqqani said, "hurts our neighbours, the US, affects the international community, that is important but what is more important is that terrorism hurts the people of Pakistan most... and why is that? It is because the policy of nurturing jihadi groups with the intention of creating a sub-conventional capability of influencing the region, that decision was taken by an authoritarian regime under General Zia-ul Haq without any national debate, without national discussion. What benefits it will bring to the people of Pakistan were not subjected to democratic discourse."

"The only lashkar in Pakistan that should be legal is the lashkar of Pakistan army and paramilitary forces subject to civilian oversight. There should not be other lashkars, and there shouldn't be other armies or sipahas. As long as those lashkars and sipahas exist, they are a threat to Pakistan... Radicals need to be combated intellectually, ideologically and politically."

Emerging US policies

The expectations from India

by G. Parthasarathy

One of the key policy initiatives during President Obama's first term was what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described in her article published in October 2011, titled "America's Pacific Century", as a "pivot" the "Indo-Pacific"" region, straddling the Asia-Pacific and the shores of the western Indian Ocean.

This meant that the primary focus of American policies, diplomatically and militarily, would shift to the Pacific Ocean from its Atlantic shores. It was manifested by American participation in the East Asia Summit and a determination not to be excluded from the emerging economic, diplomatic and security architecture in the "Indo-Pacific" area. But the American confusion and uncertainty remain on how to deal with an "assertive" and growingly powerful China, which is not averse to using force to enforcing territorial claims on neighbours ranging from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

Within days of the commencement of the Obama Administration's second term, an ebullient Vice-President Joe Biden returned from the Munich security conference. He turned the entire Asia-Pacific "pivot" on its head by proclaiming: "President Obama and I continue to believe that Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world. It's that basic. Nothing has changed. Europe remains America's indispensable partner of first resort." This was an astonishing U-turn from the earlier emphasis on the 21st century being America's "Pacific Century" and its assertion that the global balance of power was shifting to Asia from Europe. President Obama confirmed the US intention to launch talks for a "comprehensive trade and investment partnership" with the European Union in his State of the Union Address.

This comes at a time when the US is confident that it will not only be a net exporter of gas but also the largest producer of oil in the world before the end of this decade. It has also led to the confidence of re-emergence of the US as a growing industrial power, readying to market its gas surpluses across the Atlantic.

Some things must never be forgotten

Author: Hiranmay Karlekar

A long struggle against daunting odds has kept the values and memories of Bangladesh's Liberation War alive. This is a remarkable achievement

The mass upsurge in Bangladesh, demanding death sentence to those guilty of crimes against humanity during the country's Liberation War in 1971, has erupted suddenly. The legacy of the liberation struggle and memories of the atrocities, mass murder and rape by the war criminals and the Pakistani Army, which galvanised the young demonstrators, had, however, been kept alive by a group of dedicated people working against daunting odds. Many who had collaborated with the Pakistani Army, mainly leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami, its auxiliaries like al Badr, al Shams and the Razakars, had been arrested after Bangladesh's liberation on December 16, 1971. Some had gone underground. A few, like Golam Azam, perhaps the most hated of them all, had fled to Pakistan just prior to it.

While Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's grant of an amnesty to War Criminals in November 1973, had enabled them to return to public life, the military dictatorships running Bangladesh after his assassination on August 15, 1975, promoted them to undermine the influence of the Awami League-led secular and democratic elements. Thus Major-General Zia-ur Rahman, Begum Khaleda Zia's husband, who became Chief Martial Law Administrator on November 19, 1975, and President on April 27, 1977, allowed Golam Azam to return to Bangladesh in July, 1978, on a Pakistani passport and two weeks' visa. Allowed to stay on, he was secretly made Amir of the Jamaat when it was revived in May 1979. Abbas Ali Khan acted as officiating Amir. Islami Chhatra Sangha was rechristened Islami Chhatra Shibir. Both organisations became active as the military dictatorships headed by Zia-ur Rahman and HM Ershad sought to progressively Islamise Bangladesh and wipe out the values and memories of the liberation war including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's historic role.

Counter-efforts began simultaneously. On March 21, 1981, the Chairman of the Central Command Council of the Muktijoddha Sangsad (Freedom Fighters' Council) , Lt-Col (Retd) Qazi Nur-Uzzaman, announced the programme of an anti-al Badr/Razakar week to be observed from May 1, 1981. He demanded the trial of all traitors including Golam Azam, adding that the Muktijoddha Sangsad would try them by forming a People's Court if the government did not. On March 25, 10 opposition parties, including Awami League, expressed concern over the activities of communal parties and met to discuss a programme of action. Awami League leaders said at a public meeting on April 5 that no longer would there be any mercy for Razakars and activists of al Badr. In a statement on April 16, Bangladesh Lekhak Shibir (Bangladesh Writers' Camp) expressed grave concern over the re-emergence of “merchants of religion” like Razakars and organisations like al Shams and al Badr and the Jamaat. Accusing the BNP Government of supporting the criminals, it endorsed the Muktijoddha Sangsad's campaign against the murderous political forces they represented and urged people to carry forward the movement in association with organisations of the toiling masses. An important landmark was the establishment of the Muktijuddher Chetana Vikas Kendra (Centre for Developing the consciousness of the Liberation War) in 1984 to identify the collaborators and war criminals in the administration.

A blast of success, and a whiff of happiness

Author: Claude Arpi
When I got an invitation to attend the launch of PSLVC-20 in Sriharikota, I believed that a successful launch would boost India-France partnership, which had been fortified by French President Hollande’s recent visit to India

In recent months India has been a depressing country to observe. One scan follows another; the latest being the chopper scam for the procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters from the Anglo-Italian firm Agusta-Westland. It is all the more disheartening because before any proof is made available, the Ministry of Defence has already indicated that India will ‘ban’ the British and Italian companies. It is depressing because for the faults of a few, the country is penalised. Remember L’Affaire Bofors? India punished the bribe-giver company and let free the bribe-taker; ultimately, the country suffered due to a lack of spare parts and ammunition.

The choppergate is the symptom of a deeper malady; corruption is increasing by the day. Last week I had to get my driving licence. I was told that to “make it smooth”, some contribution has to be ‘offered’ to the authorities. No way to only put the blame on ‘voracious foreign’ arm dealers. I need not further detail some other curses of modern India such as the way rape victims are treated.

I was in this dark mood when I got an invitation to attend the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-20 in Sriharikota, 100km north of Chennai. Having followed French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India earlier this month, I thought that, if successful, this would be the cherry on the India-France partnership cake. Apart from the Indo-French collaborative effort Saral, to study the ocean surface and environment using two French devices — ARgos and ALtila — the Indian Space Research Organisation was to put into orbit six other satellites, UniBRITE and BRITE from Austria, AAUSAT3 from Denmark, STRaND from the UK and NEOSSat and SAPPHIRE from Canada. Isro had postponed its 23rd launch of a PSLV rocket a couple of times since December due to detected technical malfunctions; this provided a unique occasion for President Pranab Mukherjee to witness the event at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the Sriharikota range.

I had no hesitation to jump at the occasion for another reason: Indo-French collaboration in the domain of space had intrigued me from the time the romantic French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to visit the Satellite Centre of Isro in Bangalore. before taking his wife to the Taj Mahal. Was space collaboration more glamorous than Mumtaz’ mausoleum? It is true that Indo-French cooperation in the domain of space is one of the oldest, even if not the best-known.

Lack of skills haunts young India

Feb 28, 2013
Patralekha Chatterjee

70% of India’s population is below the age of 35. But without the necessary skills and human capital, a lot of this population will not be able to tap into the economic boom.

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” Mark Twain famously said after his obituary was mistakenly published in a New York journal. There are those who would say that the same applies to the India growth story. Is it dead? Is it dying? Is it comatose? Or will it come alive when we least expect it?

Speculation is rife.

India’s slowing annual economic growth has been a major topic of public discussion in the country in recent times. And given the plummeting gross domestic product (GDP) growth, it is likely to stay that way. In the coming days, as the Budget is discussed threadbare and analysts ask each other if politics is destroying India’s growth story or if economics can still triumph, expect more hand wringing.

Amidst all the sound and fury about jobs and growth, populism versus pragmatism, however, there is one vital issue that is not flashing on the policy radar as brightly as it should. Skilled youngsters could be India’s growth serum. So why is there hardly any talk about the need to invest money in skills upgradation? The point came home to me starkly while I was chatting with a man from a village in Uttarakhand last evening. He was in his early 20s, had dropped out of school after the eighth grade and come to Delhi in search of work. With no formal qualifications, no particular skills and barely any knowledge of English, there were not too many options. He had to choose between work in a restaurant kitchen, as a waiter in a hotel or as an attendant in a beauty parlour. He chose the last because it was a reputed parlour and offered the best deal. But after a year on the job, he feels he is stuck. The beauty business is booming. But without vocational training, basic English and social skills, he feels handicapped. There is no money for expensive English classes; so the young man is quick to spot anyone with whom he can practice everyday English.

Which brings me to the core issue — skills. While one has been hearing a lot about how it is imperative to boost investor confidence in order to get back to the growth trajectory so that jobs are generated, there is relatively little discussion about what we are doing to prepare our young for the jobs. The young man I met is part of the India growth story — he moved with his feet to where he thought these very jobs. But having arrived at his destination, he finds himself mired in stagnation, as he does not have the skills to forge ahead.

How does a young man like him relate to the heated discussion about India’s growth story? Seventy per cent of India’s population is below the age of 35. But without the necessary skills and human capital, a huge number among this population will not be able to tap into the economic boom even if investors come knocking and the market surges.

Hounded for being Hazara

February 28, 2013
Isolated and massacred in sectarian violence, the Hazara Shias in Quetta are seeking a military takeover

It is no longer a question whether there will be another attack on the Hazara Shias of Quetta but when and where next. That is how certain everyone is of the terrorists’ agenda. In fact, of all the state and non-state actors who have said anything on the Hazara Shias in the week after their second massacre in 37 days, only the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) is expected to deliver. The LeJ threat is real and assurances of protection from various institutions of the State have time and again proved to be empty promises.

This sense of resignation is not without reason. For over a decade now, the Hazara Shias have been specifically targeted. While Shias in general are under attack, in the case of the Hazaras the task is made that much easier because of their distinctive Mongoloid features. But, their plight never got much attention. Why, even after the January 10 massacre in which over 80 Hazara Shias were killed in serial blasts, it became an issue only after the community took to the streets with the bodies in sub-zero temperature and refused to bury them.

A cursory look at media coverage is instructive. The massacre of 80-plus people in one locality in a day became a footnote rather quickly and the media was literally shamed into taking note of the Hazara Shia protests when civil society came out in support across the country. That was about a day into the protest of the Hazara Shias of Quetta.

Thus named and shamed into reacting, the response was a tad better when a similar massacre took place a month later in another Hazara settlement, killing nearly 90 members of the community yet again though locals insist the number is over a 100. Only their bodies remain untraceable as the impact was such that many were charred beyond recognition or blown to smithereens.

Still, it took another three-day protest with the bodies by the Hazara Shia community to get the government to order a targeted operation against the sectarian outfits. While it helped break the impasse and ensured that the bodies were buried, not many are convinced by the government’s claims of killing four terrorists and arresting 170 others in a day’s operation.

A game of monopoly

Feb 28, 2013
Bharat Karnad

As a workaday politician, the average defence minister, his skills limited to spouting self-reliance in defence, is even more clueless

The military variant of that old saw about India being a rich country with poor people owing to god-awful governance is that there is no real dearth of monies allotted to defence but every reason to doubt these are always spent wisely, or even well.

The sustained downturn of the economy has compelled the finance ministry to warn the ministry of defence (MoD) of a budgetary cut of almost `10,000 crore in 2013-14. Finance minister P. Chidambaram’s forthright statement, that “if the (Budget) is cut for this year, it is cut; you cannot do anything about it,” was in the context of defence minister A.K. Antony demanding `45,000 crore in addition to the `1.93 lakh crore Budget in the last fiscal, and his more recent attempt to talk up the direness of the threat from China, besides Pakistan, now militarily ensconced in nearby Gwadar. The fact that this is unlikely to impress the North Block into loosening the purse strings notwithstanding, the three armed
services will push their separate expenditure priorities.

The Air Force will emphasise, in the main, the acquisition of Rafale for its MMRCA (medium-range, multi-role combat aircraft) programme, four squadrons of the “super” Su-30 for the China front, airborne warning and control systems and tankers, roughly in that order. The Army will push for a mountain strike corps, a combat helicopter fleet to fill its newly formed aviation arm and 155-mm artillery; and the Navy will want the ongoing warship induction schedule to be on track and the import of yet another conventional submarine. This is where things get appalling. The limited resources will ensure the three services remain dissatisfied. But how is inter se prioritisation achieved with the Indian government lacking a mechanism for it?

In the absence of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who, keeping in mind the security threats and challenges, would rank-order the individual service expenditure programmes in a scheme of genuinely integrated procurements, the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) is the only available forum for this task. Ideally, the COSC is where the competing demands and requirements would be professionally debated and discussed threadbare with the three service chiefs at the end of this arduous process agreeing amicably on a single tri-service list of acquisition priorities in descending level of importance. In practice, however, every member of the COSC insists on his service’s needs requiring immediate sanction which, if
conceded, would leave the fighting abilities of the other two services in the ditch.

Being equal in rank and there being no protocol and rank-wise superior CDS in the chain of command, the service chiefs feel no need to reconcile their differing priorities. The traditional Monday morning meetings of the COSC during the budgeting period, therefore, continue to be what they are for the rest of the year — pleasant meetings of military brass engaged in banter and the business of consuming tea and samosas. According to a former service chief who was chairman, COSC, he could devote only 15 per cent of his working hours to consider the demands of the other services, as most of the time was taken up by his own service-related interests and issues. He conceded that as chairman, he favoured his own service, aware that the chiefs of the other services would do the same when occupying this largely ceremonial post held in rotation. The COSC, in other words, doesn’t help in untangling issues or leaving the civilians in the MoD bureaucracy less befuddled.

China Is Not Imperial Germany

By Joseph Nye

Throughout history, the rise of a new power has been attended by uncertainty and anxieties. Often, though not always, violent conflict has followed. As Thucydides explained, the real roots of the Peloponnesian war in which the ancient Greek system tore itself apart, were the rise in the power of Athens and the fear it created in Sparta. The rise in the economic and military power of China, the world's most populous country, will be one of the two or three most important questions for world stability in this century, and some think that conflict with the US is inevitable. But it is a mistake to allow historical analogies determine our thinking, Instead, we should be asking how China and the US can create a new great power relationship.

Many analysts also compare the rise of China to that of Germany at the beginning of the last century. The rise in the power of Germany and the fear it created in Britain was one of the causes of World War I in which the European system tore itself apart. This year China's economy will grow by nearly 7 to 8 per cent and its defense spending will grow even more. Chinese leaders have spoken of China's "peaceful development, " but analysts like John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago have flatly proclaimed that China cannot rise peacefully, and predicted that "the United States and China are likely to engage in an intense security competition with considerable potential for war."

Who is right? We will not know for some time, but the debaters should recall both halves of Thucydides' trenchant analysis. War was caused not merely by the rise of one power, but by the fear it engendered in another. The belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes. Each side, believing it will end up at war with the other, makes reasonable military preparations, which then are read by the other side as confirmation of its worst fears. In a perverse transnational alliance, hawks in each country cite the others' statements as clear evidence. One way to make East Asia and the world safer is to avoid such exaggerated fears and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Moreover, while China has impressive power resources, one should be skeptical about projections based solely on current growth rates, political rhetoric, military contingency plans, and flawed historical analogies. It is important to remember that by 1900, Germany had surpassed Britain in industrial power, and the Kaiser was pursuing an adventurous, globally oriented foreign policy that was bound to bring about a clash with other great powers. In contrast, China still lags far behind the United States, and has focused its policies primarily on its region and on its economic development.

China has a long way to go to equal the power resources of the United States, and still faces many obstacles to its development. At the beginning of the 21st century, the American economy was about twice the size of China's in purchasing power parity, and more than three times as large at official exchange rates. All such comparisons and projections are somewhat arbitrary. Even if Chinese GDP passes that of the United States in the next decade, the two economies would be equivalent in size, but not equal in composition. China would still have a vast underdeveloped countryside, and it will begin to face demographic problems from the delayed effects of the one child per couple policy it enforced in the 20th century. Moreover, as countries develop, there is a tendency for growth rates to slow. China would not equal the United States in per capita income until sometime in the second half of the century, if then.

Per capita income provides a measure of the sophistication of an economy. In other words, China's impressive growth rate combined with the size of its population will surely lead it to pass the American economy in total size at some point. This has already provided China with impressive power resources, but that is not the same as equal power. China is a long way from posing the kind of challenge to American preponderance that the Kaiser's Germany posed when it passed Britain at the beginning of the last century. The facts do not at this point justify alarmist predictions of a coming war. There is time to manage a cooperative relationship. As an important Chinese leader recently told me, "we need thirty years of peace to meet our development goals and come close to the US." During that period we can focus on building a new type of great power relationship.

Some experts worry that Chinese leaders' sense of vulnerability at home will lead them to appeal to populist nationalism to increase their legitimacy and that could cause China to behave rashly in a crisis. The fact that China is not likely to become a peer competitor to the United States on a global basis does not mean that it could not challenge the United States in Asia, and the dangers of conflict can never be completely ruled out. But basically, Bill Clinton was right when he told Jiang Zemin in 1995 that the United States has more to fear from a weak China than a strong China. Thus far, the United States has accepted the rise of Chinese power and invited Chinese participation as a responsible stakeholder in the international system. Power is not always a zero sum game. Given the global problems that both China and the United States will face, they have much more to gain from working together than in allowing overwrought fears to drive them apart, but it will take wise policy on both sides to assure this future.

Joseph Nye is a professor at Harvard and author of The Future of Power. This commentary originally appeared on China-US Focus and has been republished with permission.

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Battles of the Seas

February 28, 2013
by Team SAISA
South Asia risks becoming pawn in geopolitical clash between the two extra regional powers.

 The Greater India Ocean

If the authors of “The Post American World”, “Revenge of Geography” and “Monsoon” are to be believed South Asia , perched on the Greater Indian Ocean, is the next big thing happening to our globe.

Straddling the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal sit two of world’s most dangerous places, Pakistan – the epicentre of terror headed towards a ‘Failed Nation’ status and Myanmar the new found US corner stone for its pivot to the East. Ten years down the line these two states, assisted by US designs on Af Pak and South East Asia could present a perfect recipe for up scaling the
West versus Rest debate to dangerous proportions. America’s desire to control West Asia and South East Asia may take it on the path of multiple disasters, especially as its economic and military power continues to recede in the face of domestic economic meltdown.

As argued in our post ‘West versus Rest’ in October last year , the American decline is most visible in its fatigue to handle the Syrian crisis . It is the same fatigue, more than anything else, that seems to be dictating its restraint in tackling a recalcitrant Iran, (supported by China and Russia) and there is a growing realisation that it may leave AF Pak to the wolves as it scurries to evacuate Afghanistan.

Imagine a world where Iran and Syria become targets of a sunni led wahabi Saudi Arabian onslaught duly supported by US and resisted by China and Russia (largely SCO). Add to this cocktail the Israeli and Turkic desire to contain Iran , for different reasons, and we have a heady mix of a West (primarily Christian , where Israel an eastern state is part of the west) and Rest, (which is largely non Christian, majorly Muslim), at logger heads driving the region towards a virtual anarchy of ethno – ideological dimensions. This when we have not discussed the impact of such a confused West vs Rest contest on the Central Asian Republic (CAR) and South Asia.

The Consequences of Sequestration

February 28, 2013
By Gabe Collins

The stinging cuts of sequestration will have a tremendous impact on America's capacity to protect the world's maritime commons -- with devastating consequences.

The upcoming budget sequester—slated to begin on March 1st—and the recent Defense Department decision to in effect cancel the deployment of the aircraft carrier
USS Harry Truman to the Persian Gulf, are disturbing signals that without a significant change, the United States may be increasingly hard pressed to serve as the primary security guarantor for the world’s key sea lanes.The regions of highest concern for negative security impacts from U.S. defense budget paralysis are East and Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean.

A less formidable U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf—and the message it sends regarding the limits of American naval and military power more broadly—reverberate loud and clear in both friendly and hostile capitals around the globe. Perhaps even worse, the signals are particularly frightening in countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, and Singapore, who see a strong U.S. forward military presence as a guarantee that helps protect them from falling victim to the depredations of powerful neighbors like China.

If more powerful maritime countries like Japan
and South Korea lose confidencein the U.S. ability to serve as an offshore balancer and peacekeeper, they will upgrade their militaries more rapidly, fueling regional naval competition. Meanwhile smaller powers like Singapore will be forced to hedge their diplomatic and security bets in ways that make them less reliable partners for the U.S, with ominous medium and long-term national security implications.

In conjunction with budget pressures, U.S. domestic oil production is rising and reducing U.S. reliance on oil imports. Indeed,
Valero, the world’s largest independent oil refiner and product retailer, expects that by the end of 2013, refineries in the PADD III region (primarily the U.S. Gulf Coast), which account for half of the country’s total refining capacity, will no longer need to import light or medium crude oil because domestic production has risen so quickly. Budget pressures and reduced demand on imported oil in turn further increase the political temptation to treat U.S. forward deployed naval forces as an area ripe for budget cutting.

Doing so would have serious strategic consequences for the U.S. and many other countries with global trade interests. The U.S. has for the past 60 years been a peacemaking force in the global maritime commons because its unquestioned naval power, strong commitment visible to friend and foe alike, and relative diplomatic even-handedness in ensuring the safe passage of global trade–including oil, raw materials, and finished goods–across key maritime corridors regardless of their destination.

Strategic Horizons: The Strategy Behind U.S. Drone Strikes

By Steven Metz, on 27 Feb 2013

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No topic in American security inspires more heated debate these days than the Obama administration's use of drone strikes against armed militants, terrorists and their supporters. While debate and scrutiny of public policy is a good thing, a hefty proportion of this criticism is badly misguided, often mistaking the use of drones as America's strategy itself. In large part this reflects a failure on the part of the Obama administration to develop a convincing narrative to explain the assumptions, logic and ultimate objectives of its strategy. Without seeing the big picture, it is difficult to understand how drone strikes fit in and why they are the least bad option available.

U.S. strategy against al-Qaida and its allies, affiliates and emulators should seem familiar to Americans since it mirrors the strategy used against global communism during the Cold War. At its heart, the
strategy of containment assumes that all people want to live in peace and freedom rather than persistent conflict and repression. This may sound obvious, even trite, but it has very important implications for national security strategy. Because ideologies fueled by conflict and repression like communism or the al-Qaida brand of extremism are so counter to normal human desires, they have deep internal flaws. Given an open choice, most people would reject those ideologies. This means adherents require constant victories to convince the people living under their thumb that eventually things will get better. Success is the oxygen of extremist fires -- without it, the flame smothers and dies.

American strategy grows from these observations. If the United States and its partners can deny an extremist ideology the string of victories it needs, its flaws will undo it. This is exactly what happened with Soviet communism. Today there are signs that it may be happening to the al-Qaida brand of extremism as well.

Unfortunately, denying success to al-Qaida, its partners, affiliates and emulators is tricky. Soviet communism defined success as taking over entire nations. Victories had to be large-scale and tangible. While violent Islamic extremists would like to take over a nation or at least part of one, they can be sustained by symbolic victories in the form of major terrorist attacks. This means that the containment strategy employed against them must be more active and offensive than the Cold War-era containment of communism. Understanding this can help elevate debate on drones to the strategic level.

Simulating a Cyber Attack

February 28, 2013
By Robert Farley

Last week the Patterson School simulated a cyber attack against U.S. defense contractors. The results were not encouraging.

Last week, cyber-security concerns burst onto the stage with a series of articles linking the People’s Liberation Army to
hacking of various U.S. institutions. The source of these articles was a report from Mandiant, which detailed a selection of Chinese cyber-espionage efforts. These efforts included attacks on nearly 150 firms and institutions, most often with the object of gaining access to valuable intellectual property.

While international espionage is nothing new, this manifestation of espionage is the result of several trends, including the information revolution, the growing importance of intellectual property to the international economy, and the increasing capacity of NGOs and substate organizations to conduct major,
independent intelligence gathering operations. Indeed, some doubt remains as to the extent to which the activities of the “Unit 61938” can be directly attributed to the Chinese government, as opposed to parochial business interests within the PLA. In any case, the Mandiant Report has sparked a vigorous debate about the appropriate U.S. response to cyber-criminal activity, whether Chinese or not.

Coincidentally, my institution (
the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce) ran a simulation last week on a cyber attack against U.S. defense contractors. Although the simulation abstracted a great deal from reality, it nevertheless provided some policy lessons. The attackers in our simulation (representing a Russian criminal organization rather than the PLA) shied away from directly assaulting U.S. government institutions, instead focusing their efforts on a law firm associated with several contractors. The attackers hoped to gain access to intellectual property, including patent applications and trade secret information, as well as patterns of communication between the firm, the government, and the contractors.

In our simulation, the attackers substantially succeeded in most of their goals, although they did run into some difficulty selling the information. The most important lesson we learned is that poor communication between government and private organizations can doom cyber-defense efforts. In our case, the law firm only reluctantly relayed its concerns about a breach to the government and to its clients, leaving the attackers with ample time to conduct their theft. This reluctance was hardly irrational; the perception that secrets could be at risk would prove devastating to the firm’s business prospects. Although our simulation did not subdivide the U.S. government (by creating different teams for different departments), similar dynamics surely complicate interagency responses to cyber-attacks.

As noted, the Patterson School simulation abstracted from reality in several critical ways, and in any case concentrated on accomplishing goals other than realistically portraying a major cyber attack. Nevertheless, the simulation described a series of events more likely to characterize the experience of soldiers, sailors, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and the leaders of non-governmental organizations than the various “hot war” scenarios that often occupy organizational time and effort. Not all future conflict will occur in digital space, but many will, and developing the proper human and organizational capital for managing such conflicts is a critical task for government and academia.

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Chinese Cyber Attacks: Robust Response Needed

By Dean Cheng
February 23, 2013

After a multi-year investigation, the computer security firm Mandiant announced this week that it had tracked a cyber group back to its Chinese roots.[1] Even more explosive, it had concluded that the group is, in fact, a Chinese military unit, the Second Bureau of the Third Department of the General Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with the Military Unit Cover Designator 61398.

Mandiant’s report confirms what has long been suspected around the world: Not only are there Chinese engaging in various cyber espionage and hacking activities, but many are acting at the direction and with the approval of the Chinese government.

Chinese Military Organized Differently
The PLA is organized along different lines than other militaries. Although the PLA has different services (including the PLA Navy, PLA Air Force, and the Second Artillery), it is mainly organized under four “General Departments,” which have responsibility across service lines:

The General Staff Department (GSD) is responsible for military planning, intelligence, and operational implementation;
The General Political Department is responsible for political oversight, morale, propaganda, and military law enforcement (e.g., judge advocate general activities);
The General Logistics Department ensures the smooth flow of spare parts, food, ammunitions, etc.; and
The General Armaments Department is responsible for weapons development, mans the various Chinese space facilities, and oversees the nuclear test sites.

Because of this different organizational approach, the PLA has likely concentrated its cyber assets into a handful of units and organizations, rather than the more dispersed, service-centric approach of the United States, which runs the risk of greater duplication of effort.

At the same time, certain functions that are managed by civilians in the U.S. are also part of the Chinese military. The GSD Third Department, for example, is the counterpart of the U.S. National Security Agency, monitoring communications, managing cryptography, and the like. But the American agency is a civilian one, whereas the Chinese entity is part of the military. Overall Chinese cyber efforts are therefore potentially more centrally directed; key targets and objectives may be attacked in a coordinated fashion from a variety of sources.

These targets, however, may not all be military or even oriented toward national security . Mandiant indicates that this organization has apparently engaged in corporate espionage. Unit 61398 reportedly collected information on such companies as Coca-Cola when the latter was attempting to purchase a Chinese beverage maker.
[2] In this regard, there is no parallel with the U.S., since American government agencies are not authorized to engage in industrial or financial espionage in order to support commercial entities.

The Cacophony of The World

Project Syndicate
Dominique Moisi
25 February 2013 -- In his masterpiece Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger describes, probably too idyllically, the international balance-of-power system that, following the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815, produced what came to be called the “Concert of Europe.” As Kissinger describes it, after the Napoleonic Wars, “There was not only a physical equilibrium, but a moral one. Power and justice were in substantial harmony.” Of course, the concert ended in cacophony with the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914.

Today, after the brutality of the first half of the twentieth century, the temporary bipolarity of the Cold War, and America’s brief post-1989 hyperpower status, the world is once again searching for a new international order. Can something like the Concert of Europe be globalized ? Unfortunately, global cacophony seems more probable. One obvious reason is the absence of a recognized and accepted international referee. The United States, which best embodies ultimate power, is less willing– and less able – to exercise it. And the United Nations, which best embodies the principles of international order, is as divided and impotent as ever.

But, beyond the absence of a referee, another issue looms: the wave of globalization that followed the end of the Cold War has, paradoxically, accelerated fragmentation, affecting democratic and non-democratic countries alike. From the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia’s violent self-destruction, and Czechoslovakia’s peaceful divorce to today’s centrifugal pressures in Europe, the West, and the major emerging countries, fragmentation has been fundamental to international relations in recent decades. The information revolution has created a more global, interdependent, and transparent world than ever. But this has led, in turn, to an anxious, balkanizing quest for identity. This effort to recover uniqueness is largely the cause of the international system’s growing fragmentation.

In the Concert of Europe, the number of actors was limited, and they were mostly states, whether national or imperial. Essential values were widely shared, and most actors favored protecting the existing order. In today’s world, by contrast, the nature of the actors involved is no longer so clear. Transnational forces, states, and non-state actors are all involved, and their goals are complex and sometimes contradictory, with no universal commitment to preserving the status quo.

The US may be intent on creating a transatlantic trade-and-investment pact with Europe, which would make a political statement to the world that the West writ large constitutes the universal normative reference point. But does such a West exist? In our era of fragmentation, there is a more powerful and dynamic American West, a globally more problematic European West (itself fragmented between a prosperous north and an economically lagging south), and even a British West and, in Japan, an Asian West.

Census That Revealed a Troubling Future


Ignored: Gordon Brown's attitude to Mrs Gillian Duffy represented the political class's attitude to voter's reasonable concerns

Imagine yourself back in 2002. The census for England and Wales, compiled the previous year, has just come out, showing the extent to which the country has changed. You decide to extrapolate from the findings and speculate about what the next decade might bring.

"The Muslim population of Britain will double in the next ten years," you conclude. "White Britons will become a minority in their own capital city by the end of this decade."

How would those statements by your younger self have been greeted? The terms "alarmist" and "scaremongering" would certainly have been used, as most likely would "racist" and (though the coinage was in its infancy) "Islamophobe". Safe to say, your extrapolations would not have been greeted warmly. Readers inclined to doubt this might recall that when the then Times journalist Anthony Browne made far less startling comments in 2002, they were denounced by then Home Secretary David Blunkett — using parliamentary privilege — as "bordering on fascism".

Yet that widely abused younger self of 2002 would be proved utterly right. The 2011 census, published at the end of last year, revealed the following facts and more. It showed that the number of people living in England and Wales who were born overseas rose by nearly three million in the last decade alone. Only 44.9 per cent of London residents are now white British. And nearly three million people in England and Wales live in households where not one adult speaks English as their main language.

The religious make-up of Britain has altered as well. Almost every belief other than Christianity is on the rise. Only Britain's historic national religion is in freefall. Since the previous census in 2001, the number of people identifying themselves as Christian dropped by 13 per cent, from 72 to 59 per cent. The number of Christians in England and Wales dropped by more than four million, and the number of Christians overall fell from 37 million to 33 million.

And while Christianity witnessed this collapse in its followers, mass migration assisted a near-doubling in size of the Muslim population. Over the last decade the number of Muslims rose from 1.5 million to 2.7 million. These are the official figures. Illegal immigrants make the real numbers far higher.

Greece and Spain helped postwar Germany recover. Spot the difference

27 February 2013

Sixty years ago, half of German war debts were cancelled to build its economy. Yet today, debt is destroying those creditors

People exchanging food for tickets in 1923 Germany. 'Many, including Keynes, argued that [reparations imposed on Germany following the Versailles treaty] led to the rise of the Nazis and the second world war.' Photograph: Keystone/Corbis

Sixty years ago today, an agreement was reached in London to
cancel half of postwar Germany's debt. That cancellation, and the way it was done, was vital to the reconstruction of Europe from war. It stands in marked contrast to the suffering being inflicted on European people today in the name of debt.

Germany emerged from the second world war still owing debt that originated with the first world war: the
reparations imposed on the country following the Versailles peace conference in 1919. Many, including John Maynard Keynes, argued that these unpayable debts and the economic policies they entailed led to the rise of the Nazis and the second world war.

By 1953, Germany also had debts based on reconstruction loans made immediately after the end of the second world war. Germany's creditors included Greece and Spain, Pakistan and Egypt, as well as the US, UK and France.

German debts were well below the levels seen in
Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain today, making up around a quarter of national income. But even at this level, there was serious concern that debt payments would use up precious foreign currency earnings and endanger reconstruction.

Needing a strong West Germany as a bulwark against communism, the country's creditors came together in London and showed that they understood how you help a country that you want to recover from devastation. It showed they also understood that debt can never be seen as the responsibility of the debtor alone. Countries such as Greece willingly took part in a deal to help create a stable and prosperous western Europe, despite the war crimes that German occupiers had inflicted just a few years before.

27 February 2013

Afghanistan’s partition might be unpreventable

by Brahma Chellaney
Feb 27, 2013 

NEW DELHI – America’s unwinnable war in Afghanistan, after exacting a staggering cost in blood and treasure, is finally drawing to an official close. How this development shapes Afghanistan’s future will have a significant bearing on the security of countries located far beyond. After all, Afghanistan is not Vietnam: The end of U.S.-led combat operations may not end the war, because the enemy will seek to target Western interests wherever located. 

Can the fate of Afghanistan be different from two other Muslim countries where the United States militarily intervened — Iraq and Libya? Iraq has been partitioned in all but name into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish sections, while Libya seems headed toward a similar three-way but tribal-based partition, underscoring that a foreign military intervention can effect regime change but not establish order. 

Will there be an Iraq-style “soft partition” of Afghanistan, with protracted strife eventually creating a “hard partition”?

Afghanistan’s large ethnic minorities already enjoy de facto autonomy, which they secured after their Northern Alliance played a central role in the U.S.-led ouster of the Afghan Taliban from power in late 2001. Having enjoyed autonomy for years now, the minorities will resist with all their might from coming under the sway of the ethnic Pashtuns, who ruled the country for long. 

For their part, the Pashtuns, despite their tribal divisions, will not rest content with being in charge of just a rump Afghanistan made up of the eastern and southeastern provinces. Given the large Pashtun population resident across the British-drawn Durand Line that separates Afghanistan from Pakistan, they are likely sooner or later to revive their long-dormant campaign for a Greater Pashtunistan — a development that could affect the territorial integrity of another artificial modern construct, Pakistan. 

The fact that the ethnic minorities are actually ethnic majorities in distinct geographical zones in the north and the west makes Afghanistan’s partitioning organically doable and more likely to last, unlike the colonial-era geographical line-drawing that created states with no national identity or historical roots. The ethnic minorities account for more than half of Afghanistan — both in land area and population size. The Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities alone make up close to 50 percent of Afghanistan’s population. 

After waging the longest war in its history at a cost of tens of thousands of lives and nearly a trillion dollars, the U.S. is combat-weary and even financially strapped. The American effort for an honorable exit by cutting a deal with the Pakistan-backed Afghan Taliban, paradoxically, is deepening Afghanistan’s ethnic fissures and increasing the partitioning risk. With President Barack Obama choosing his second-term national security team and his 2014 deadline to end all combat operations approaching, the U.S. effort to strike a deal with the Taliban is back on the front burner. 

Withdraw and Win: “Go” for Victory in Afghanistan

by Joshua Thiel and Douglas A. Borer
February 25, 2013 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the official policy of the US Army, US Navy, DOD, or Government of the United States. This article was submitted for internal review in October 2012. It has been approved for release by USASOC, USASFC, 1st SFG(A), SOJTF-A, and CJSOTF-A. All information is from unclassified resources or from the authors’ experience. All maps are from open source websites. Research for this article was made possible by the Combating Terrorism Archive Project (CTAP) at the Naval Postgraduate School. 

The war in Afghanistan can still be won. There, we have said it. Let us begin by answering the skeptics’ question: what does “victory” mean? Victory is defined by Afghanistan becoming a territorial entity from which terrorists cannot gain sufficient safe haven to organize, train, equip, and launch attacks against the USA and its allies. This means the Taliban must be denied the opportunity to return to unchecked power in Afghanistan. If the Taliban return to unilateral power, sooner or later Afghan soil will again be used by al Qaeda or similar violent radicals to strike the both the West and neighboring South Asian states. The pre-9.11.01 status quo will have been recreated and the last ten years will be wasted. This must not happen. Although we are sympathetic to those who define “victory” as meaning democracy, human rights, and other western liberal notions of individual and economic freedom, our definition of strategic victory does not require these things. 

Now we are going to explain how to win by presenting an operational level plan called “Go” that will help the Afghan government maintain enduring control over key nodes in the geo-political space. Doing so will set the conditions for the eventual evolution of a viable Afghan state. Again, the goal of this plan is to deny terrorists the ability to launch 9.11-like attacks from Afghanistan after most US troops leave the country in 2014. We are not offering a new grand strategy; however, we are offering focus and synchronization to create optimal synergy for the approach that is now working, Village Stability Operations. The benefits include: a reduction of US resources, the elimination of terrorist basing, and mitigating the loss of US prestige if the war is judged as lost. Our approach does not require a new "surge" of forces or a delay in the present draw down. However, as occurred in the wake of the last time the United States witnessed a surprise attack in1941, our plan may require that some US personnel remain deployed to the theater for a long time. 

After 10 years in Afghanistan, America stands at a critical historic juncture. We believe re-energizing the allied Village Stability approach is important because it is the best approach on which to build a clear plan for victory. Some people may think that the primary American interest is simply to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as politically possible, and hope that things turn out. We agree that hope is a good thing, but it is a poor strategy. If indeed the intent is only to withdraw, without also trying to win, then we believe most combat operations should stop, and all personnel should work to reduce risk by focusing almost unilaterally on force protection. Of course doing this would mean leaving our Afghan allies to fend for themselves. Doing so would enhance instability in South Asia and foment further unrest by violent radicals in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. Additionally, an immediate pullout out would mean abandoning the initiative that the Village Stability approach has invigorated. We call a complete and rapid withdrawal a "hope without a prayer" strategy, and categorically reject it as being unnecessarily defeatist. Afghanistan, America, and the international coalition can still win. 

Knowing Where and How Criminal Organizations Operate Using Web Content

by Robert Bunker
February 26, 2013

Very significant work with SWJ El Centro counter non-state OPFOR (opposing force) implications. Presented at the 21st ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2012) October 29 to November 2, 2012 in Maui, Hawaii. The MOGO (Making Order using Google as an Oracle) discussed in this paper is highly cost effective and provides very significant OSINT (open source intelligence) analytical capabilities via a web crawler approach. See the trafficker distribution figures, politician-municipality significant relations, and cartel migration patterns for applications. Also note the acknowledgement section re institutions supporting this project. 

Knowing Where and How Criminal Organizations Operate Using Web Content

Michele Coscia and Viridiana Rios

KddLab - ISTI CNR/ Department of Government - Harvard University

We develop a framework that uses Web content to obtain quantitative information about a phenomenon that would otherwise require the operation of large scale, expensive intelligence exercises. Exploiting indexed reliable sources such as online newspapers and blogs, we use unambiguous query terms to characterize a complex evolving phenomena and solve a security policy problem: identifying the areas of operation and modus operandi of criminal organizations, in particular, Mexican drug trafficking organizations over the last two decades. We validate our methodology by comparing information that is known with certainty with the one we extracted using our framework. We show that our framework is able to use information available on the web to efficiently extract implicit knowledge about criminal organizations. In the scenario of Mexican drug trafficking, our findings provide evidence that criminal organizations are more strategic and operate in more differentiated ways than current academic literature thought. 

Pentagon Wants a ‘Family of Devices’ as It Makes Big Move Into Mobile Market

By Spencer Ackerman

A U.S. Army paratrooper takes a picture with his cellphone while waiting to board an Air Force C-17, December 2010. Photo: U.S. Army
The next big customer for smartphones and tablets? The U.S. military. Finally.

The military has begun talks with device and mobile operating-system manufacturers, as well as the major carriers, to supply troops with secured mobile devices. The idea is for the manufacturers to offer the Pentagon an already-secure device and OS, rather for the military to laboriously build a bespoke mobile suite that inevitably won’t keep pace with commercial innovation. 

And the military has a significant amount of purchasing power on its side: hundreds of thousands of customers for the winning bid. 

The architects of the Pentagon’s new Commercial Device Mobile Implementation Plan, unveiled Tuesday, want to be clear they’re not talking about soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines all buying, say, an iPhone 5 — and being stuck with it for years after the companies come out with improved, upgraded mobile products. And they’d prefer to let the troops pick from a selection of secured, approved smartphones and tablets, not issue everyone a mobile device like they issue rifles. 

“We’re device-agnostic,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, the Pentagon’s deputy chief information officer, told reporters. “What we’re looking for is a family of devices that are available depending on the operator. … And we’re going to continue to update as they update.” 

That’s going to be a significant change from the top-down way the Pentagon often buys hardware. The Pentagon plan calls for giving security guidelines to the mobile companies, from secure to classified — data-security standards that have been worked out with the National Security Agency — and then shopping around for the best family of products that can meet the standard. It’s going to publish those security guidelines, for both devices and for the mobile applications they’ll run, within 120 days. 

Hard National Security Choices

By Gregory McNeal
February 25, 2013

Kill-Lists and Network Analysis

In my previous post I discussed how law creates three broad categories of potential targets (AUMF targets, Covert Action targets, and Ally targets). Those broad categories mean that many individuals may be targetable based on their status as members of an organized armed group. Working from these broad legal categories, the U.S. next relies on multiple levels of bureaucratic analysis to sort out the persons worth adding to a kill-list from the universe of potential targets. The goal is not merely killing people, but to kill those persons whose elimination will have the greatest impact on the enemy organization. I briefly described a systems based approach to targeting that looks at potential targets, their value to enemy organizations, their ability to be replaced, and their contributions to the enemy’s warfighting effort. In this post I dive a bit deeper into the targeting bureaucracy to discuss network based targeting analysis. (Internal references have been omitted in this post but can be found in the paper once it is available). 


To outside observers, some targets such as senior operational leaders are obviously worthy of placement on a kill-list, while the propriety of adding other persons to a kill-list may be more hotly disputed. While it may be clear that killing a bomb-maker (to draw from the example in my last post) is an obvious choice as it can create a gap in an enemy organization that may be hard to fill, removing other individuals (even if they are quickly replaced) may similarly pressure or disrupt terrorist organizations. As CIA director Hayden stated in 2009: 

By making a safe haven feel less safe, we keep al-Qaeda guessing. We make them doubt their allies; question their methods, their plans, even their priorities… we force them to spend more time and resources on self-preservation, and that distracts them, at least partially and at least for a time, from laying the groundwork for the next attack. 

When personnel within the targeting process are developing names for kill-lists, they will look beyond the criticality and vulnerability factors (described in my prior post) and will supplement that analysis with network based analysis. Networked based analysis looks at terrorist groups as nodes connected by links, and assesses how components of that terrorist network operate together and independently of one another. Those nodes and links, once identified will be targeted with the goal of disrupting and degrading their functionality. To effectively pursue a network based approach, bureaucrats rely in part on what is known as “pattern of life analysis” which involves connecting the relationships between places and people by tracking their patterns of life. This analysis draws on the interrelationships among groups “to determine the degree and points of their interdependence.” It assesses how activities are linked and looks to “determine the most effective way to influence or affect the enemy system.” 

Deploying an Army of Smartphones to Stream Images of Everything

By Sarah Mitroff

Koozoo’s suction-cup camera mount attaches an old smartphone to your window so you can livestream the world outside. Photo: Koozoo

If you’ve ever wanted to scope out the line at your favorite restaurant before you get there, or enjoy the same view that someone high up in a skyscraper sees, it’s worth checking out Koozoo. The San Francisco-based startup is assembling a network of live video cameras from cast-off smartphones to stream everything from the basketball court in the park across the street to a seascape halfway around the globe. 

The setup is simple. Using an old smartphone (how about that iPhone 3G you have in the drawer?) with the Koozoo app loaded, and a suction-cup window mount and a power cord, you point the little sucker at something outside your home or office that others might find valuable or interesting. Tap record in Koozoo, and you’re streaming live to the Koozoo website where fellow streamers can choose among the video feeds. 

“You can see what’s going on near you or around the world through your phone,” says co-founder Drew Sechrist. “I can see if there is line at the coffee shop around the corner, so I can avoid it or wait for a lull.” 

Lines at the coffee shop are just one of the use cases that Sechrist and his co-founder Edward Sullivan have discovered since they launched Koozoo’s private beta earlier this year. The 100 or so people in the beta group have been using Koozoo streams to check the weather at the Marina Green (a notoriously foggy part of San Francisco), share views of their apartments with family, and witness the neighborhood celebrations that followed the San Francisco Giants winning the 2012 World Series. 

Number 1 on Army’s Shopping List: Wireless Broadband

By Spencer Ackerman

A paratrooper plays with his phone while waiting to board a C-17. Photo: U.S. Army

The most important element of the Army’s effort to modernize itself doesn’t shoot. You can’t ride in it. You can’t wear it for protection against homemade bombs. And it doesn’t spy on an enemy. You transmit data on it. 

“The network,” says Lt. Gen. William Phillips, the Army’s acquisitions chief, “is our number one program going forward.”

Yes, a data network for dismounted soldiers. Since the war in Afghanistan began, officers have been frustrated by the difficulties in sharing timely, relevant tactical information with small units and infantrymen. 

The Army definitely wants to buy better blast-protected trucks, upgrades to its rifles, and other gear. But 10 years of war taught the soldiers that a data network needs to come first — and the light at the end of the Afghan tunnel that President Obama promises provides the soldiers with their opportunity. 

“We haven’t always gotten it right,” Phillips conceded. “In many cases, we’ve taken systems downrange to our warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan and they’ve had to work out the bugs in those systems.”

That’s why the Army is pulsing its new data networks in semi-annual tests called Network Integration Exercises. They’re buying Android smartphones off the shelves of big-box stores to see how they play with the network, and checking how the nets hold up as more and more devices come online. They’ve even got their own app store built and ready to go. 

Army Taps Android Phones for ‘Wearable Computers’

By Spencer Ackerman

Officials running the Army’s long-awaited program to equip soldiers with a wearable computer system are sick of hearing about smartphones.

Smartphones embarrass them: The Nett Warrior program and its predecessors have spent two decades trying to give soldiers tools for communications and mapping that smartphones currently offer. The results? Mixed, at best

Back in April, the officer then overseeing Nett Warrior, Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, sounded irritated when Danger Room brought up the subject of smartphones. “Every kid’s going down to whatever local store they want, and they’re buying some smart device and saying, ‘Well, this is modern, and it lets me know where I am, where my friends are … it gives me all that capability, how come I can’t get that?’” 

Of course, it’s not as simple as that: Civilian smartphones rely on billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure to work, and they don’t have to be built to survive Afghanistan. But now, with little choice, Nett Warrior is taking the plunge and embracing the smartphones it once tried to avoid. 

In late July, the Pentagon’s acquisitions overseers put Nett Warrior on ice while they reviewed whether it made any sense to make soldiers wear eight pounds of gear to do less than what a phone weighing a few ounces (plus a tactical, encrypted radio) can offer. Evidently, the answer is no. A new solicitation from Nett Warrior is basically preparing to go shopping for smartphones. 

It’s a spree that’ll make Google happy: The Army is insisting that the phones be powered by Android.