20 January 2019

Preventing the Next 26/11: Intelligence and India's Security Apparatus

Alok Joshi 

There is a long-standing debate on the role, means, and end goals of intelligence. Is dissemination the purpose? Do ownership issues come into play between intelligence and law enforcement only in the event of success or failure? Such issues that bedevil the current debate are self-defeating and certainly not in consonance with the challenges that India faces. Across the world, intelligence agencies have restructured themselves to be embedded in operational work - it is no longer about 'them' and 'us'. Instead, they focus on building synergies, enhancing their technological wherewithal, and working out the best processes that can deliver the greatest advantages. For this to take place in India, there must be better dialogue between various arms of the security apparatus and serious thinking on how best to use available resources and anchoring new technologies.

The events of 26/11 provide an instructive backdrop to discuss the range of technologies that allow a state to prepare for similar security eventualities. Institutional changes are important, particularly in the interplay between intelligence and executive policing, to absorb and benefit from these technologies. This is not to critique the way events were handled in 2008, nor an attempt to cover every aspect related to it. Instead, it is a look at expanding the current discourse on the possibility of such a situation recurring, and India's preparedness to meet threats with all the resources at its command. This article will limit itself to the technologies that are available to India today, and will presuppose the development of advances in big data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

US demand for long-term military bases in Afghanistan sticking point in peace talks: Report


ISLAMABAD: The US' demand for maintaining long-term military bases in Afghanistan has emerged as a sticking point in talks with the Taliban to end the 17-year-long war in the country, according to a media report here.

The report came as the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, stepped up efforts to bring the Taliban to negotiations, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Russia and Iran involved in discussions with the Taliban over the past few months.

The Express Tribune reported quoting officials that the US in return of its demand would provide substantial financial assistance for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan in the post-peace deal.

Although the Taliban have repeatedly demanded complete withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, they showed an inclination to discuss the suggestion of the US maintaining certain bases in the recent negotiations held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Pakistan wriggles out of IMF clutches


The visit by Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid A Al-Falih on Saturday to Gwadar to inspect the site allocated for a multibillion oil refinery in the port city suggest that Riyadh and Islamabad are giving the final touch to reaching agreement for a Saudi Aramco Oil Refinery in Pakistan. Reports say that Saudi Arabia will be investing $10 billion in the proposed project.

Without doubt, this is a major development in the region. The Saudi-Pakistan relationship, which has been traditionally close and fraternal, is moving on to a new level of dynamism. The Saudi investment decision can be taken as signifying a vote of confidence in the Pakistani economy as well as in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership. It comes on top of the $6 billion package that Saudi Arabia had pledged last year (which included help to finance crude imports) to help Pakistan tide over the current economic difficulties.

PAKISTAN’S CONSOLIDATING CONVENTIONAL DETERRENCE: AN ASSESSMENT

Maimuna Ashraf

Before the overt nuclearization of South Asia in 1998, three major wars between India and Pakistan highlighted the latter’s struggle to bridge the conventional imbalance. During this time, Pakistan’s latent nuclear capability provided an effective deterrent, which served to offset the conventional and nuclear threats from India. However, twenty years since India’s entrance into the nuclear club, followed by Pakistan, conventional deterrence remains integral to the maintenance of strategic stability in South Asia. In view of these developments, this article aims to analyze Pakistan’s strategic direction since the nuclear tests, particularly in terms of its conventional military capabilities.

The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan: Getting History Right

By Seth G. Jones

In discussing the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan at a cabinet meeting on January 2, 2019, President Donald Trump drew a parallel between the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. “The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia,” he said. “They were right to be there.” President Trump went on to say that the war in Afghanistan helped trigger the collapse of the Soviet Union. “The problem is it was a tough fight,” he said. “And literally, they went bankrupt. They went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union.” The public outcry was immediate and animated. In an editorial titled “Trump’s Cracked Afghan History,” the Wall Street Journal responded caustically: “Right to be there? We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President … The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a defining event in the Cold War, making clear to all serious people the reality of the communist Kremlin’s threat.”

Don’t Repeat the Mistakes of Iraq: U.S. Should Continue Training Mission in Afghanistan

 by Luke Coffey 

There have been recent reports that the U.S. might pull out around 7,000 U.S. troops—half of the total—from Afghanistan. A capable Afghanistan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF) and a genuine political settlement with the Taliban, led by the Afghans, is the country’s best ticket to rise from poverty, and America’s best hope for regional stability and security. It is in America’s interest to continue the training, advising, and assisting mission for the ANDSF. Now is not the time to abandon the Afghans and repeat the mistakes of the Obama Administration when it abruptly removed all trainers from Iraq in 2011, paving the way for the invasion by the Islamic State.

Key Takeaways

Why the Afghan Taliban Are Ready to Talk

By Umair Jamal

It has been reported that U.S. President Donald J. Trump is considering withdrawing a significant number of troops from Afghanistan. Reportedly, Trump has directed the Pentagon to withdraw almost half of the more than 14,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country. While Trump’s sudden desire to withdraw has taken many by surprise, Afghanistan’s neighboring states are flocking to talk to the Afghan Taliban as the insurgent group appears to have gained more weight over the question of who controls the peace process in the country.

It remains unclear whether Trump’s withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is part of Washington’s wider policy for the country. What remains clear is this: the suggestion to withdraw troops has created a new situation that is apparently guiding policies in various capitals in Afghanistan’s neighborhood. Regardless of whether American troops leave in a month or in a year, Afghanistan’s neighbors are making plans to prepare for what comes next after the withdrawal.

China’s soft-power play: what will it take to get it just right and hit the Goldilocks zone?


Thus, like the bears’ porridge in the children’s story Goldilocks, China’s soft-power efforts have proven either too hot or too cold for some, whereas for others it is “just right”. Finding that “Goldilocks zone” of a “just right” soft-power strategy in the West is arguably one of China’s greatest foreign policy challenges for 2019 and beyond.

The essence of soft power is that one state can get another state to do what it wants through co-option, not coercion. And this is perhaps where China’s soft-power efforts have come unstuck so far in the West: far from relying on persuasion, China’s soft-power strategies have arguably been adopted with something of a hard-power logic, a phenomenon which Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig have termed “sharp power”.

Whether it stems from an ingrained Sinophobia or perhaps fear emanating from the uncertainty of China’s rise, there does seem to be an overreaction in the West to China’s capabilities.

China has some of world's most advanced weapon systems, Pentagon warns


China is on the cusp of fielding some of the world’s most advanced weapons systems – and in some cases already has surpassed its rivals, a Pentagon assessment found.

An unclassified report by the Defense Intelligence Agency says Beijing has made enormous military strides in recent years, thanks partly to domestic laws forcing foreign partners to divulge technical secrets in exchange for access to China’s vast market.

As a result of “acquiring technology by any means available,” China now is at the leading edge on a range of technologies, including with its naval designs, with medium- and intermediate-range missiles, and with hypersonic weapons – where missiles can fly at many times the speed of sound and dodge missile-defense systems.

Who is China targeting with its armed drones sales?

By: Mark Pomerleau 

China is cashing in on the demand for armed drones, according to a new Department of Defense report.

China was the fifth largest arms supplier in the world between 2012 and 2016, the report, titled “Assessment on U.S. Defense Implications of China’s Expanding Global Access,” said. The Chinese completed more than $20 million in sales with the country’s second largest arms sales going to the Middle East and North Africa “likely due to the demand for armed” unmanned aerial vehicles.

The report, dated December 2018 but made available Jan. 14, is mandated by law.

The report notes that the drone and armed drone market is a niche market but China is one of the world’s few suppliers.

China Has More Nuclear Subs Than the West Believed

BY PATRICK TUCKER

There’s an extra sub under construction, but no permanent nuclear deterrent at sea — yet.

Western observers have likely underestimated the number of Chinese nuclear submarines in development, but overestimated how many are operational, a new analysis suggests. In particular, only half of China’s nuclear-armed SSBNs appear to be in operation.

Photos of the Bohai Shipyard and the Longpo Naval Facility produced by Planet Labs suggest that “China does not yet have a credible sea-based deterrent,” said Catherine Dill of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Two of China’s four JIN (or 094)-class subs “appear to not be in operation and are undergoing maintenance or repairs at the Bohai shipyard, suggesting to us that credibility is still in question.”

China’s Military Is Getting Better at a Lot of Things at Once: Pentagon Intelligence

BY KEVIN BARON

The DIA’s first public report cites rapid advances, extended reach, and increasing confidence.

China’s military power remains limited and its leaders want no war with the United States, but its desire for regional hegemony, global reach, and advanced technology means the U.S. military has much more to watch out for in the years ahead, according to a new unclassified assessment by the Pentagon’s intelligence agency.

This is the Defense Intelligence Agency’s first public and unclassified report on the People’s Liberation Army’s arsenal and intentions; the agency released a similar report on Russia’s military last year. It arrives five months after the Pentagon’s own annual report on Chinese military power — and two weeks after Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan reportedlyinstructed senior leaders to remain focused on one thing: “China, China, China.”

Remote Military Outpost will Help Indonesia Resist Chinese Maritime Expansion


TAIPEI — Indonesia’s new military base on a remote island chain near the embattled South China Sea will help it deter Chinese fishing boats and their coast guard escorts from entering territorial waters as Beijing expands its maritime claims.

The Southeast Asian country, which has burned Chinese fishing boats in the past, opened its base last month in the Natuna Islands with more 1,000 personnel, Asian media outlets reported in December. The base near the existing port of Selat Lama has a hangar for drones and supports personnel trained for any kind of operation.

Indonesia’s House of Representatives budgeted for the base in 2016, with the house’s deputy chairman saying at the time that the construction should “ensure the country's sovereign right to exploit the area's natural resources,” the Jakarta Globe news website reported.

The Real Problem with China’s Fishermen

by Lyle J. Goldstein

Chinese trawlers are not the pointy tip of “Chinese maritime expansion,” but do present a genuine environmental challenge to the global community.

To believe the leading international media sources, Beijing is a giant, malicious “Death Star” of sorts, spreading environmental mayhem, political oppression, atheism, economic dependency, and increasingly wielding the coercive tools of a hegemonic power on a global scale. A rather typical rendering in this growing genre was an “in depth” investigation published on the front page of the New York Timesthat described a newly completed major Chinese dam project in Ecuador.

Israel’s Nuclear Weapons: The Worst-Kept Military Secret on the Planet

by Robert Farley

If a hostile power (let’s say Iran, for sake of discussion) appeared to be on the verge of mating nuclear devices with the systems needed to deliver them, Israel might well consider a preventive nuclear attack

Key point: There is no question that Israel could consider using its most powerful weapons if the conventional balance tipped decisively out of its favor.

Israel’s nuclear arsenal is the worst-kept secret in international relations. Since the 1970s, Israel has maintained a nuclear deterrent in order to maintain a favorable balance of power with its neighbors. Apart from some worrying moments during the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli government has never seriously considered using those weapons.

The most obvious scenario for Israel to use nuclear weapons would be in response to a foreign nuclear attack. Israel’s missile defenses, air defenses, and delivery systems are far too sophisticated to imagine a scenario in which any country other than one of the major nuclear powers could manage a disarming first strike. Consequently, any attacker is certain to endure massive retaliation, in short order. Israel’s goals would be to destroy the military capacity of the enemy (let’s say Iran, for sake of discussion) and also send a message that any nuclear attack against Israel would be met with catastrophic, unimaginable retaliation.

The Saudi Government’s Global Campaign to Silence Its Critics

By Sarah Aziza

Mohammed bin Salman’s effort to burnish his image as a modernizing force of liberal reform knows no boundaries.

On the morning of August 18, 2017, Rana deboarded her Saudia Airlines flight in Munich, Germany, bleary-eyed and clutching a small leather bag. Her husband, a near-stranger whom she had married two days earlier, in Riyadh, with the stroke of her father’s pen, marched ahead of her. As the couple approached passport control, he reluctantly handed Rana her passport, which he had taken before landing. Rana stole a glance inside to insure that the note she had scribbled in the airplane’s bathroom was still tucked between the newly minted pages. The line crawled forward. Rana’s heart pounded. A German officer processed her husband’s paperwork, then waved Rana over. Rana slid her documents to the official on the other side of the glass window. Inside, a short plea, written in English, read, “i want to apply for asylum.” And then, in shaky German, “mein Mann weiß nicht”—“my husband doesn’t know.”

What Changes Will the EU See in 2019?


The European Union in 2019 faces multiple pressures, including the controversial Brexit, or the U.K. plan to leave the EU; trade issues between the union and its partners; the migration crisis; the growth of populism across the region; and a shaky relationship with the Trump administration. Wharton finance professor Joao Gomes and Garret Martin, a lecturer at the American University’s School of International Service, shared their perspectives on the challenges the European Union faces this year for a series titled “2019: A Look Ahead” on the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on Sirius XM. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

The most urgent issue is Brexit, and on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s compromise proposal to leave the EU by March 29, 2019, all but collapsed as British MPs voted out her revised Brexit deal that aimed to smooth the exit process. It had already suffered a heavy defeat on Monday, when peers in the House of Lords rejected it in a 321-152 vote. May’s Brexit proposals have faced strong resistance from not just the opposition Labor Party but also within her own Conservative Party over the years, endangering the survival of her government on several occasions. Immediately following Tuesday’s vote, Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a no-confidence motion to debate the incompetence of May’s government on Wednesday. Meanwhile, May said that she will engage in talks with opposition parties about alternative Brexit solutions.

Pentagon warns of global power play behind Chinese projects such as Belt and Road Initiative


The Pentagon has said China is using its expanding military, trading and infrastructure network to pursue global leadership in a report that warned that its global ambitions could undermine the security of the United States and its allies and threatened international economic corridors.

Monday’s report assessed China’s military and non-military expansion efforts, such as the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the “Made in China 2025” industrial strategy, and their implications for America around the world.

It coincided with another detailed assessment by the US Defence Intelligence Agency on Tuesday, which said China’s drive to acquire cutting-edge weaponry – including nuclear bombers and a space-based early warning system – was intended to establish itself as a global military power.

In December 2017 US President Donald Trump shifted the focus of US national security policy away from terrorism to make “great power rivalry” with China and Russia his main concern.

What Kissinger Knew That Pompeo Does Not

BY MARTIN INDYK

In November 1973, at the end of the Yom Kippur War, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made his first visit to Cairo to meet Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s president. America was in the process of withdrawing from Vietnam and Richard Nixon was in the throes of the Watergate crisis that would soon drive him from office. The new secretary of state wanted to conceal the appearance of American weakness with effective Middle East diplomacy. To establish his credibility with Sadat and a broader Arab audience, Kissinger told him, “I will never promise you something I can’t deliver.”

Mike Pompeo would have done well to follow Kissinger’s example on his first visit to Cairo last week as secretary of state. Instead, in a speech to an Arab audience he promised the world—and will surely deliver much less.

What's Behind The U.S. Trade Deficit?


Running a trade deficit is not new for the U.S. It’s been mostly running trade deficits since the 1970s. However, this trade imbalance has recently become hotly scrutinized. Much of the concern stems from a fear that trade deficits lead to declines in manufacturing sector employment.

In a recent Regional Economist article, Assistant Vice President and Economist Yi Wen and Research Associate Brian Reinbold explored why the U.S. runs a trade deficit, why manufacturing employment is declining and how these two are related. They also looked at the trade relationship with China, which is the largest supplier of goods to the U.S. - and by extension, its biggest creditor.

The long-running U.S. trade deficits and the emergence of China as a major creditor nation are largely the result of two economic forces, they wrote:

The rise of the U.S. currency and U.S. government debts to become the world currency and a global form of liquidity and store of value following the collapse of the Bretton Woods system

How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

By Isaac Chotiner

On New Year’s Day, the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro took power in Brazil, posing an urgent threat to Brazilians and to the planet. Bolsonaro has promised to open up the Amazon to rapid development and deforestation, which would lead to the release of massive amounts of carbon into the air and the destruction of one of the earth’s most potent tools in limiting global warming. Like President Trump, Bolsonaro is making environmental decisions that could be calamitous far beyond national borders.

In “Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future,” Joel Wainwright, a professor of geography at Ohio State University, and Geoff Mann, the director of the Center for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University, consider how to approach a problem of such international dimensions. They look at several different political futures for our warming planet, and argue that a more forceful international order, or “Climate Leviathan,” is emerging, but unlikely to mitigate catastrophic warming.

The Art of Decision-Making

By Joshua Rothman
In July of 1838, Charles Darwin was twenty-nine years old and single. Two years earlier, he had returned from his voyage aboard H.M.S. Beagle with the observations that would eventually form the basis of “On the Origin of Species.” In the meantime, he faced a more pressing analytical problem. Darwin was considering proposing to his cousin Emma Wedgwood, but he worried that marriage and children might impede his scientific career. To figure out what to do, he made two lists. “Loss of time,” he wrote on the first. “Perhaps quarreling. . . . Cannot read in the evenings. . . . Anxiety and responsibility. Perhaps my wife won’t like London; then the sentence is banishment and degradation into indolent, idle fool.” On the second, he wrote, “Children (if it Please God). Constant companion (and friend in old age). . . . Home, & someone to take care of house.” He noted that it was “intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working. . . . Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire and books and music perhaps.”

Grameen Foundation: Using Data as a Lever to Combat Poverty


Mobile and data technologies can be powerful tools to help combat poverty. While data helps in understanding the needs of the poor and in designing solutions, the mobile channel makes it possible to reach the poor rapidly. At Grameen Foundation, CEO Steve Hollingworth, who has had more than three decades of experience in the social sector, is leveraging these technologies to expand the foundation’s work.

Grameen Foundation was founded in 1997. It was inspired by the work of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and a global leader in the fight against poverty. Yunus is a pioneer in the field of microfinance.

How the Blockchain Ushers in a New Form of Trust


Blockchain is one of the biggest buzzwords in technology today. But confusion exists about what it is exactly: The blockchain is often mentioned in the same breath as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but it encompasses far more than that.

Kevin Werbach, Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics and a blockchain expert, has written a book that explains this technology with great depth and precision. For example, he points out that bitcoin refers to the cryptocurrency, while Bitcoin comprises the bitcoin network.

He recently spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about his book, The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust. Following is an edited transcript of the conversation.

This year old enemies re-emerge, and sophisticated cyber-attacks are on the rise

By Michael Sentonas

Cyber-attacks and data breaches continue to increase in both frequency and in many cases complexity, and organisations can expect more of the same in 2019.

The threat landscape is expanding, attack techniques are constantly evolving, and nation-state attacks are increasing in terms of scope and sophistication. In 2018, OAIC reported that Australians have been targeted in more than 300 major data breaches - with hackers and criminals getting access to the private data of hundreds of thousands of people. Security and data protection will continue to be high on the agenda for many Australians.

With the start of a new year, CrowdStrike have shared their top six cyber security predications based on the trends and incidents tracked in 2018.

Navy reservists power a new cyber development unit

By: Mark Pomerleau

A new reserve cyber unit focuses on supporting the Navy cyberwarrior enterprise.

The Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group (NCWDG) Reserve unit was activated Jan. 4 at Fort Meade, Maryland.

The NCWDG provides technical research and development to create, test and deliver cyber and electronic warfare capabilities for Fleet Cyber and U.S. Cyber Command, serving as the Navy’s center for cyber warfare innovation.

The orders for the new unit started Jan. 1, the Navy said. Formerly, the unit’s personnel were operating as a NCWDG directorate within the Navy Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet reserve structure.

To improve supply chain risks, agencies should double-down on visibility

By: Ellen Sundra 

Government organizations cannot realistically cordon-off supply chain risk exposure with blacklists or procurement policies.

Headlines about cybersecurity threats to the IT supply chain rekindles fears of the government being exposed to unacceptable risk through the very technologies U.S. federal agencies depend on. Given the sheer size of global supply chains, it is easy to focus on the “what-ifs.” In reality, commercial and government organizations alike have already been handling the fallout from well-documented, high-profile supply chain dangers, such as the “Meltdown” and “Spectre” chip vulnerabilities in 2018, and learning a great deal in the process.

Entering the new year, it is clear that government organizations cannot realistically cordon-off supply chain risk exposure with blacklists or procurement policies. Agencies must instead plan for the supply chains they have, not the supply chains they want. They must seek to limit the amount of compromised hardware and software incorporated into networks – while still planning for compromise. They must seek ways to operate without interruption or degradation in spite of attacks. Agencies can increase their resilience in the face of supply chain risk by implementing confidence building measures, including continuous and complete visibility of all devices as the foundational element.

Services Wargaming Multi-Domain Consensus: Army 3-Star Futurist

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR

“All the services understand the need to move to Multi-Domain Operations,” Lt. Gen. Wesley said. “Second, we all agree that MDC2 [Multi-Domain Command & Control] is the most important joint problem that we have to solve. After that, the specifics of how you conduct MDO – that’s where the variance is that we’ve got to converge on.”

Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley talks to a fellow soldier at the AUSA conference on artificial intelligence.

PENTAGON: The four armed services have kicked off a series of ambitious wargames to thrash out what promises to become a common concept for future conflict, the Army’s three-star senior futurist says.

They’ve reached what amounts to a baseline consensus on their approach: a relentless, seamless, coordinated campaign to hammer the enemy from every angle – land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. They’ve even reached agreement on what the hardest part will be, Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley told reporters on Wednesday: exercising command and control (C2) of such disparate, fast-paced operations. How to solve that problem? Well, that’s a work in progress.

U.S. MILITARY IS BUILDING SMARTER ROBOTS AND THINKS INSECTS MIGHT BE KEY TO NEW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

BY TOM O'CONNOR

The Pentagon's research wing is investigating how certain insects could provide a key to developing new technologies related to artificial intelligence.

The U.S. military has long experimented with new AI applications, from missile systems to swarms of drones, but the latest focus may be about understanding how the complexities of nature could shape strategies in this field. In a research opportunity posted last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said it was "inviting submissions of innovative basic research concepts exploring new computational frameworks and strategies drawn from the impressive computational capabilities of very small flying insects."

"Nature has forced on these small insects' drastic miniaturization and energy efficiency, some having only a few hundred neurons in a compact form-factor, while maintaining basic functionality," the document read.

White House Missile Defense Review: Space Lasers, Weapons On Table

By PAUL MCLEARY

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon is studying options for putting lasers, directed energy weapons, and missile defense systems into space to protect against an array of increasingly advanced ballistic and cruise missiles being developed by China, Russia, and North Korea, a senior Trump administration official said Wednesday.

President Trump is set to announce the results of a sweeping review of the nation’s missile defenses on land, sea, air and space during a rare visit to the Pentagon Thursday afternoon, officially kicking off plans for the military to begin weaponizing space.

“Space is a very important point of emphasis for the president and vice president” the official told reporters Wednesday. “It’s something we want to invest in and is very important in going beyond the current capabilities we have…space is important to the next step of missile defense.”

19 January 2019

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Changing the Nature of War?

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The professional military body differentiates between an objective nature and a subjective character of war by drawing upon Clausewitz. Nature of war describes what war is and character of war describes how it is actually fought. Nature of war is violent, interactive between opposing wills and fundamentally political. War’s character is influenced by technology, law, ethics, culture, methods of social, political, and military organization and other factors that change across time and place. Character of warfare changes in concert with the tools that become available and how they influence the ways militaries organize themselves to fight wars.

In his book On War, Carl von Clausewitz highlighted how failing to understand the character of war leads to disaster. He chastised Prussian generals for using the old tactics of Frederick the Great against a Napoleonic army waging a new type of warfare. They had not appreciated the changes in how war was being fought or in the character of war. Future development and deployment of human-machine teams and autonomous weapons systems represents such a shift in the character of war.

A Cold Start to Nuclear War in South Asia

BY: Aaron Kliegman

The number of foreign-policy challenges facing President Trump is daunting—from a nuclear-armed North Korea to a revanchist Russia, from an imperialist Iran to an increasingly belligerent China. These global threats garner numerous headlines each day, and deservedly so. Amid this chaos, however, one conflict receives too little attention in Western media.

South Asia is home to the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan, the international dispute most likely to produce, in the near term, a war between two large, powerful countries in which the belligerents use nuclear weapons. Indeed, the neighboring countries, each with well over 100 nuclear warheads, have gone to war four times since 1947, in addition to several other standoffs, skirmishes, and crises that nearly escalated into war. A primary reason this bilateral tension is so concerning today is that both India and Pakistan have adopted military doctrines that make another war—a large-scale one with nuclear weapons involved—all too foreseeable. A new development from India just last week provides the latest reminder of this reality.

Why the Indian Ocean region might soon play a lead role in world affairs

Craig Jeffrey

In recent days, Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne announced efforts to strengthen Australia’s involvement in the Indian Ocean region, and the importance of working with India in defence and other activities. Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in Delhi – a geopolitical conference co-hosted by the Indian government – Payne said:

Our respective futures are intertwined and heavily dependent on how well we cooperate on the challenges and opportunities in the Indian Ocean in the decades ahead.

Among Payne’s announcements was A$25 million for a four-year infrastructure program in South Asia (The South Asia Regional Infrastructure Connectivity initiative, or SARIC), which will primarily focus on the transport and energy sectors.

She also pointed to increasing defence activities in the Indian Ocean, noting that in 2014, Australia and India had conducted 11 defence activities together, with the figure reaching 38 in 2018.

Trump Is Right to Seek an End to America’s Wars

By Jon Finer and Robert Malley

There is no shortage of policies and decisions made by President Trump worth criticizing, but since the earliest days of his presidential campaign, he has expressed at least one belief that deserves to be encouraged, not denigrated: the desire to disentangle the United States from costly overseas conflicts.

Mr. Trump’s noninterventionist impulse has always fit uncomfortably with the team he assembled, particularly the latest, more hawkish iteration in his ever-shifting foreign policy cast. For a time, the President grudgingly deferred, allowing conflicts to escalate in virtually every theater he inherited.

Recently, the president’s preferences seemed to prevail, at least momentarily, as he tweeted his decision to withdraw 2,000 American troops from Syria and suggested he would do the same with as many as 7,000 from Afghanistan.

Ringside Perspectives


In his foreword, Anatole Lieven, author of Pakistan: A Hard Country (Penguin, London, 2011), aptly describes General Durrani’s book as a ‘combination of memoirs and reflections’ by ‘Pakistan’s foremost military intellectual’, which he finds ‘enlightening, necessary but in many ways depressing.’

Asad Durrani was Director General, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) between August 1990-March 1992. Before then, he had been Director General, Military Intelligence (DGMI) for two years. He was brought into that post by the then Army Chief, Gen. Aslam Beg, shortly after Zia ul Haq’s death in the fateful air crash of August 1988, in which several other top Pakistani Generals and the American Ambassador to Pakistan were killed. After his ISI tenure, Durrani moved to a staff assignment in the Training and Evaluation Directorate. Thereafter, he was Commandant, National Defence College. He was abruptly retired compulsorily in May, 1993, three years before tenure, because he was found to be ‘dabbling in politics’. He never commanded a Corps, considered an acme of achievement for three star Generals in the Pakistan Army.

Pakistan's India Policy


On 21 December 2018, IPCS hosted Dr Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President of the Asia Centre at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) for a round-table discussion on Pakistan's India Policy. 

The discussion explored Pakistan’s foreign policy, politics and internal dynamics, involvement of third parties in the India-Pakistan equation, and the potential window of opportunity that is available for India and Pakistan to recalibrate bilateral ties.

A shift in trend since the 2013 general elections in Pakistan is noticeable: the country has moved from its so-called 'India obsession' to India being sidelined even as an election issue.

Pakistani youth have now actively started questioning the establishment on policy matters, and surveys show that the India factor as a point of obsession is missing in the younger generation. Greater cross-border physical mobility and freedom can be helpful in addressing whatever gaps in perception still remain. However, these positive domestic trends do not suggest that the bilateral relationship is on the mend or that there is a paradigm shift in Pakistan's political structure and policies with regard to India. 

Agonizing Over Afghanistan

Richard N. Haass

NEW YORK – After more than 17 years, the time has come to accept two important truths about the war in Afghanistan. The first is that there will be no military victory by the government and its American and NATO partners. Afghan forces, while better than they were, are not good enough and are unlikely ever to be capable of defeating the Taliban. This is not simply because government troops lack the unity and often the professionalism to prevail, but also because the Taliban are highly motivated and enjoy considerable backing at home and from Pakistan, which provides it critical support and sanctuary.

The second truth is that peace negotiations are unlikely to work. Talks have taken place on and off over the years, but diplomacy is never far removed from facts and trends on the ground. Both work against a negotiated settlement.

Taliban Suicide Bomber Kills 4, Wounds Over 100 in Kabul

By Rahim Faiez

A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least four people and wounded scores when he detonated an explosive-laden vehicle late in the evening in the Afghan capital, officials said Tuesday.

It was the latest in a relentless wave of near daily attacks by the Taliban, who now either directly control or are contesting about half of the country. The violence comes despite stepped up efforts by the United States to find a negotiated end to the country’s 17-year war.

Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said as many as 113 wounded were taken to different hospitals in Kabul after the Monday evening explosion near the Green Village compound, home to several international organizations and guesthouses.

Commentary: Are China, Russia winning the AI arms race?

Peter Apps

In October 31 Chinese teenagers reported to the Beijing Institute of Technology, one of the country’s premier military research establishments. Selected from more than 5000 applicants, Chinese authorities hope they will design a new generation of artificial intelligence weapons systems that could range from microscopic robots to computer worms, submarines, drones and tanks.

The program is a potent reminder of what could be the defining arms race of the century, as greater computing power and self-learning programs create new avenues for war and statecraft. It is an area in which technology may now be outstripping strategic, ethical and policy thinking – but also where the battle for raw human talent may be just as important as getting the computer hardware, software and programming right.

Consultancy PwC estimates that by 2030 artificial intelligence products and systems will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy, with China and the United States likely the two leading nations. But it is the potential military consequences that have governments most worried, fearful of falling behind – but also nervous that untested technology could bring new dangers.