6 December 2012

In Pursuit of a Shield: US, Missile Defence and the Iran Threat

IDSA Monograph Series No. 9 , 2012 

The US has taken missile defence measures like the ‘Third Site’ plan and the ‘Phased Adaptive Approach’ in Middle East/West Asia and in Europe in order to counter and/or hedge against the threat posed by Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities and concerns generated by its nuclear programme. The US pursuit has had significant strategic consequences as well as repercussions for regional stability. The former include Russia’s unresolved strategic issues and its continuing ‘strategic defiance’ and China’s nuclear force modernisation driven in part by the need to overcome the presumed vulnerability of its ‘limited’ deterrent in the face of US missile defence assets. Among the latter include the complexity of Iran’s relationship with Turkey, enhanced US-Israel missile defence cooperation, and the procurement of sophisticated missile defence assets by countries of the GCC. 

Iran has pursued ballistic missiles development and procurement (as well as its nuclear weapons programmes according to critics) as part of its asymmetric strategy in order to counter the vulnerabilities posed to its strategic well-being on account of US encirclement, and as cost- and militarily-effective instruments to compensate for its shortcomings in force levels vis-à-vis its neighbours and its own resource constraints for building effective conventional forces. The Iranians have been developing these technologies for nearly three decades but they have still not acquired the capability of hitting the US homeland. Its capabilities to effectively target much of Europe are also constrained by the limitations of its current inventory of largely inaccurate and vulnerable liquid-fuelled intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Iran’s growing capabilities in short-range missiles particularly cruise missiles though constitute a ‘tactical nuisance’ for the US and its allies in the region. 
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Israel Confronts Iran: Rationales, Responses and Fallouts


IDSA Monograph Series No. 8, 2012 

This study examines Israel's changing perception of Iran and the underlying reasons for the current Israeli tension, anxiety, verbal acrimony and fears. In deconstructing Israel's fear's vis-à-vis Iran, the study looks at Israel's failures to revisit its erstwhile and to make adequate changes. Israel was unable to overcome the nostalgia of the past bonhomie and evolve a cohesive policy on Iran. Moreover, it was afraid of cost of such a radical shifts in its fundamental plank vis-à-vis Iran: the peripheral diplomacy. With the result, Iran soon became a nightmare for the Israeli foreign policy and security establishment. The nuclear controversy is just a recent addition. Given the growing importance of Israel and Iran to India, what are New Delhi's options vis-à-vis the Israel-Iran tensions. 
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China carrier not worrying Pacific commander, yet

Posted By Kevin Baron
December 6, 2012


The top U.S. commander in the Pacific said he is hopeful China’s new aircraft carrier will join the global security architecture already in place, but conceded what Beijing decides has yet to be determined. But should Americans worry about this ship, or not?

“My assessment is that if were China, and I was in the economic position that China is in, and I was in the position where I have to look after my global security interests, I would consider building an aircraft carrier. And I might consider building several aircraft carriers,” said Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of Pacific Command (PACOM). Locklear’s comments echo the Pentagon’s longstanding position that China’s recent military buildup should not be considered a surprise or, necessarily, a threat.

“If the issue is if they are not part of that global security environment, I think we have to be concerned about it.”

The Obama administration has aggressively engaged the Chinese military for the past three years, trying to demystify the intentions behind their buildup and working to integrate them into a larger sense of global security. Pentagon officials and documents constantly state that China is not an “adversary.”

Some China watchers, however, have continued to sound alarms about Beijing’s increasing military-technological pursuits, including the Liaoning (pictured above), a rebuilt Soviet-era aircraft carrier which this year began successfully test flying planes of its deck.

In Washington, there’s clear division over whether to treat the ship, and China’s other pursuits toward military improvements, as a threat or a natural buildup for a major power.

But Locklear, in a rare Pentagon briefing, took a decidedly optimistic view.

“Well, I think we’re hopeful that they are part of the security environment,” he said, “and we’re doing everything that we can possible with the Chinese, at least on the mil-to-mil, to try to bring them into the security environment.”

Obama’s open hand to Beijing appears to be working, as Locklear said U.S.-China military relations between the Pentagon and People’s Liberation Army have improved to “historic” levels in the past two years.

“They have endured diplomatic issues that, in the past, may have stopped them,” Locklear said. Instead, the two sides have been able to keep talking, planning exchanges and exercises, and carry them out.

On Wednesday, the deputy chief of the PLA Navy was at Hawaii’s Pacific Command headquarter talking about the coming two years’ worth of exercises, Locklear noted, including RIMPAC. The U.S. has asked China to participate in the next occurrence of the military’s huge multinational wargame, in 2014.

China, Taiwan and and the Dalai Lama

By Ketty Chen & Julia Famularo 
December 6, 2012 

The issue of whether to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama has emerged as a dilemma for many nations, including Taiwan. President Ma Ying-jeou's Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration lauds its policies as responsible for the most peaceful cross-strait relations in six decades. To welcome Tibet's spiritual leader — a man who China referred to as a “tricky liar skilled in double-dealing”– to Taiwan might appear a bit complicated. Yet, if Taiwan hopes for the world to view it as a nation that, as President Ma puts it, “[up]holds democracy,” “observes the rule of law,” and “protects human rights,” welcoming the Dalai Lama to Taiwan is both a natural and logical choice. 

A few months ago, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) invited the religious leader to its Asia-Pacific regional conference, which took place from December 1st – 3rd in Taipei. The president of BPW International, Freda Mirkilis, wrote to President Ma regarding the invitation on August 8th and again on September 10th. As Founding President of BPW Taiwan, former Vice President Annette Lu also personally called President Ma to ask for his help in facilitating the Dalai Lama’s visa to Taiwan. Ma told Lu that allowing the religious leader to come to Taiwan at this moment would prove to be "a complex issue,” and the KMT administration officially denied the request on November 16th. In a letter to BPW International President Mirkilis, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin stated that the Dalai Lama "is welcome to travel to Taiwan in due course; however, we need to arrange a more opportune time for his visit." Deputy Foreign Minister Simon Ko also said at a legislative hearing that “After an internal evaluation, we decided that now is not an appropriate time to have the Dalai Lama visit Taiwan,” while failing to provide any insight into the decision-making process. 

Opposition legislator Bi-khim Hsiao, who serves on the Legislative Yuan foreign affairs committee and was formerly the vice-chairman of the Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation, responded by stating that "The Taiwanese have a special sympathy for the people of Tibet and their struggle for freedom and human rights. The government's decision to deny a visa to their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at this time runs contrary to our values and reflects an alarming trend of China's growing influence over Taiwan." Ambassador Joseph Wu, Taiwan's former representative to the United States, also spoke to The Diplomat regarding the controversy. “[President Ma Ying-jeou] depends on China economically to the degree that now China can dictate his foreign policy. Ma has forgotten what Dalai Lama means to the world but has remembered well that he should not do anything to irritate China." 

More career advice

Posted By Paul Miller 
December 5, 2012

Will Inboden has kicked off an excellent discussion with his post on how to succeed in a foreign-policy career. I've been asked this question more than once, so I have a scripted answer ready to share. Herewith is my Advice to Aspiring Foreign Policy Wonks: 

1. Join the military. The proportion of the U.S. population who are veterans of the armed forces is something near an all-time low in the post-World War II era. If you want to stand out and be truly distinctive, serve your country in uniform for a couple years. You don't have to make it a career; just a two- or four-year stint will broaden your horizons, let you see a bit of the world, sharpen your mission focus and personal discipline, teach you a few of the military's innumerable acronyms, make you more credible when you work alongside active-duty personnel in the future, and get you some fresh air and exercise. If you are young, healthy, and single, I daresay the burden should be on you to explain why you haven't joined up yet. 

2. Get a Masters degree. In the 1940s, something like 5 percent of Americans had a four-year Bachelor's Degree. Today, that number is close to 40 percent-but only 5 percent of Americans have a Masters Degree. In other words, the Masters is today what the Bachelor's was two generations ago. I view a Masters as a basic requirement for advancement in a knowledge-oriented career: you absolutely must have one. That said, there really isn't a specific field you have to study. I think Will is right: study what you love. But mostly... 

3. Study history and philosophy. Henry Kissinger wrote somewhere that real statesmen don't study politics. They study history and philosophy. They steep themselves in the knowledge of the world and in the realm of ideas. I'd add that philosophy (and theology) is the best intellectual training ground I know. If you can master -- or even competently grapple with -- the toughest ideas and concepts in the entire range of human knowledge, then contemplating grand strategy begins to look easier. 

4. Learn a language. Along with studying history and studying specific regions and areas, learn a language. That makes you a serious expert that will distinguish you from those (ahem, like me) "experts" who are really just dilettantes. Speaking a language opens up a whole new world for you, lets you learn a culture with a depth simply unavailable to others, and gives you credibility with foreign interlocutors. 

Corruption Perceptions Index 2012

Governments must prioritise the fight against corruption 

Looking at the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, it's clear that corruption is a major threat facing humanity. Corruption destroys lives and communities, and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilise societies and exacerbate violent conflicts. 

The Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). While no country has a perfect score, two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating a serious corruption problem. 

Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or healthcare. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds. 

Corruption amounts to a dirty tax, and the poor and most vulnerable are its primary victims. 

So, how do we counter the effects of public sector corruption? 

Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all aspects of decision-making. They must prioritise better rules on lobbying and political financing, make public spending and contracting more transparent, and make public bodies more accountable. 

After a year with a global focus on corruption, we expected more governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index results demonstrate that there are still many societies and governments that need to give a much higher priority to this issue. 

Full table and rankings 

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 - 100, where 0 means that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 means it is perceived as very clean. A country's rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories included in the index. This year's index includes 176 countries and territories. 

In the table above, CI refers to Confidence Interval. The confidence interval reflects some of the uncertainty associated with a country's CPI score. It is calculated by looking at the range of scores given by all the data used to calculate that country's score, such that a wider interval reflects a wider variation in the data for that country. For more information on the CPI data, download our data set
Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 Brochure 

PacNet #81 - What Happens when Critical Infrastructure Defenses Fail?

By Clete DiGiovanni and David Hamon 

Dec 3, 2012 

Largely ignored in the public discussion of cyber sabotage has been the need for contingency planning should critical infrastructure defenses fail and community leaders suddenly have to manage and mitigate the consequences of a successful attack that disrupts electricity, banking, transportation, or other essential services. 

George Patton's reading list

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This is the note I sent yesterday to Fox's spokesman, who seems to be in charge of making stuff up: 

Mr. Clemente, 

To clarify my comments for you: I did not apologize. 

As it happened, I ran into Bret Baier as I emerged from the interview. We know each other from working at the Pentagon. He asked if I was serious in saying that Fox had hyped Bengahzi, and I said I was. We discussed that. It was a cordial exchange. (I wouldn't mention this private conversation except that you apparently are quoting my hallway conversations as part of your attack.) 

Later, as I was leaving, the booker or producer (I am not sure what her title was) said she thought I had been rude. I said I might have been a bit snappish because I am tired of book tour. This was in no way an apology but rather an explanation of why I jumped a bit when the anchor began the segment with the assertion that pressure on the White House was building -- which it most clearly was not. 


Mr. Clemente has not responded, as is his right. While he stews, I'm looking forward to heading northward and diving back into my books. Which brings me to today's subject. I've read a lot about Patton, but had never come across his reading list before. My ex-boss Nate Fick sent it along. 

It is a good one, even though it was compiled by Patton's wife after his death as a list of his favorites. It is as old school, as you'd expect, but reflects his deep study of war. Here 'tis: 
  • Maxims of Frederick the Great 
  • Maxims of Napoleon, and all the authoritative military biographies of Napoleon 
  • Commentaries, Julius Caesar 
  • Treatises by von Treitchke, and von Clausewitz 
  • Memoirs of General the Baron de Marbot, and de Fezansec, a colonel under Napoleon 
  • Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, Creasy 
  • Charles XII of Sweden, Klingspor 
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Vols 1, 2, 3) (Vols 4, 5, 6), Gibbon 
  • Strategicon, Marcus and Spaulding 
  • The Prince, Machiavelli 
  • The Crowd, Le Bon 
  • A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, Oman 
  • The Influence of Sea Power Upon History,, Mahan 
  • Stonewall Jackson, Henderson 
  • Memoirs of U. S. Grant, and those of McClellan 
  • Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, R. E. Lee, and Lee's Lieutenants, Freeman 
  • Years of Victory and Years of Endurance, Bryant 
  • Gallipoli, Hamilton 
  • Thucydides' Military History of Greece 
  • Memoirs of Ludendorff, von Hindenburg and Foch 
  • Genghis Khan, Alexander, Lamb 
  • Alexander, Weigall 
  • The Home Book of Verse 
  • Anything by Winston Churchill 
  • Kipling, complete 
  • Anything by Liddle Hart 
  • Anything by J. F. C. Fuller, especially 'Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure' 
  • The Normans in Sicily, Knight 
  • The Greatest Norman Conquest, Osborne 
  • The History of the Norman Conquest of England, five volumes by Freeman 
  • Caesar's Gallic War 
  • Infantry Attacks, Rommel

Is it Legal for the Military to Patrol American Networks?

Posse Comitatus meets the 21st century. 

Over the past couple months, the Pentagon has assumed an increasing role in defending American networks. In October, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced new rules of engagement for the Pentagon's cyber operations. "The new rules will make clear that the department has a responsibility, not only to defend DOD networks, but also to be prepared to defend the nation and our national interests against an attack in or through cyberspace." Panetta insisted that the Pentagon would play only a "supporting role," but as James Lewis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies pointed out, "When it comes to cybersecurity, the center of action just shifted." And, indeed, a few weeks ago, the Washington Post revealed that President Obama had signed a secret directive expanding the U.S. military's authority in cyberspace to include defense of non-military networks. 

It is a sign that efforts to develop the capacity of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to defend cyberspace have not kept pace with the perception of increasing threats. But it's also a sign that the United States is struggling to adapt to a world of transnational threats -- and risks eroding the fundamental distinction between the traditional roles of civilian and military forces in providing security. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 has restricted the deployment of federal troops in the homeland since the end of Reconstruction. It enshrined the idea that police forces are responsible for security within U.S. borders, while the military protects against threats beyond the country's borders. That is why only in extreme circumstances -- a natural or man-made crisis -- do we see troops in the streets. 

West Point: How about less engineering and more emphasis on negotiating skills and strategic and cultural studies?

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks 
December 5, 2012

By Luke Hutchison 

Best Defense department of military education reformation 

When West Point was founded over 200 years ago, it was created to fix a key problem in the Army, the lack of officers with engineering skills. Without officers who knew how to build roads, construct forts and fire artillery accurately -- the Army would be completely ineffective. With no engineering programs at other American universities and a problem that required more than basic training, Colonel Thayer set out to make a rigorous academic program based on an engineering curriculum. Today, West Point needs to assess just like Colonel Thayer did over 200 years ago, what is required of its graduates so that they will best contribute to the common defense. 

Today education in Strategic Studies -- understanding how to develop and execute strategy in complex and protracted conflicts that go far beyond just tactical symbols -- is seriously lacking. The U.S. Army in Iraq had to pull a complete 180 degree turn in strategy, scrapping up a "victory" by the skin of its teeth -- losing many more lives in the process and fixing American combat power in Iraq while the insurgency in Afghanistan regrouped. Today in Afghanistan, as over one hundred thousand ISAF soldiers fight on in their 11th year in that country, they find themselves in a much harder and far longer fight than anyone anticipated. How was a better trained, better equipped, and more numerous army ensnared twice in a decade and nearly defeated by poorly trained and equipped insurgents? A lack of Strategic Studies education at West Point certainly may be a place to start. Just as Colonel Thayer identified engineering as the key area of study graduates needed 200 years ago to provide for the common defense, today it is Strategic Studies that needs to be focused on. 

First Eurofighter Typhoon Meteor firing trial a success

Issue Net Edition | Date : 06 Dec , 2012 

Eurofighter Typhoon IPA 1 flies with a Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile. Credit: BAE Systems. 

The Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile has been successfully launched from a Eurofighter Typhoon as part of the Future Enhancements Flight Test Programme. 

The missile was eject launched from a rear fuselage missile station, which on Eurofighter Typhoon is semi-conformal for aircraft drag and radar signature reduction. The missile motor was fired, providing data that will allow the missile launch envelope to be expanded. 

This builds on an earlier series of flight trials, carried out by partner company BAE Systems on behalf of the Eurofighter programme, where unpowered missiles were used to demonstrate safe separation on the missile. 

This current package of work begins the full integration of the Meteor missile with all Eurofighter Typhoon systems. 

The flight trials were conducted with integrated support from QinetiQ and MBDA at a firing range in Aberporth, Wales, UK on the 4th December. 

After taking part in the Meteor trials, BAE Systems Typhoon Test Pilot Steve Long said: “By completing these initial Meteor flight trials, Typhoon has taken a significant leap forward in operational capability. As a fighter pilot, you ultimately want the best possible combination of aircraft and advanced weapons to ensure mission success and to get you home safely. The range and performance of the Meteor weapon goes a long way to achieving this – with confidence. A potent long range missile, coupled with a highly agile aircraft gives us a very potent and very powerful mix.” 

Meteor, a beyond visual range air-to-air missile manufactured by MBDA will provide the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft with the next generation of cutting edge weapons capability. Featuring advanced air breathing motor technology for maximum range and the latest electronics to deliver optimum combat performance, it will ensure that Eurofighter Typhoon remains the world’s most advanced multi role aircraft and will further complement its short and medium range air-to-air missile capabilities. 

The integration of the Meteor weapon is a game-changer on the battlefield; adding another layer to Eurofighter Typhoon’s swing-role capabilities and ensuring the pilot is able to engage hostile air threats at long range at the same time as identifying and engaging targets on the ground.

A Rough Road for Reform in Burma

By Luke Hunt 
December 7, 2012 

Burma’s rollercoaster reform ride is again sending mixed signals to the outside world. Within a few days, the country has been rebuked by a senior UN official for imposing “dire” conditions on the displaced Muslim Rohingyas, a former leader of the 2007 democracy protests has been re-arrested, and President Thein Sein has cancelled a trip to Australia and New Zealand citing domestic concerns. 

This stands in sharp contrast to just two weeks ago when Thein Sein was basking in the diplomatic limelight amid the first visit to his country by a sitting U.S. President, Barack Obama, followed by him attending the annual leaders’ summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

The Burmese leader won plaudits after he answered Obama’s call, freed political prisoners, presented a united national front alongside the pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and proved himself an able statesman on the international stage. 

But his reputation has been tarnished by his inability to deal with internal strife between hardline Buddhists and the Rohingyas, which has forced about 135,000 people to flee their homes over the last six months with thousands seeking shelter in camps that the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Valerie Amos, has described as “terrible.” 

Amos also complained that the UN in Burma was facing funding shortages, had trouble obtaining the correct visas and was unable to get into the camps where they had hoped to improve living conditions. 

Her comments were delivered as U Gambira – an organizer of the 2007 monk-led protests against the military government which became known as the Saffron revolution – went missing amid suspicions he was arrested due to his support for demonstrators opposed to a Chinese-backed copper mine. 

His family has told reporters that police arrested him on Saturday night at his brother-in-law's house, took him to a police station and indicted him. Police told his family that he would be detained at Burma's notorious Insein Prison, however, prison officials have denied he is there. 

U Gambira was released in January along with hundreds of others as part of Thein Sein’s political reform initiatives, which have been well received by the wider international community. 

No major reasons were given for the cancellation of his trip to Australia and New Zealand, announced after both countries dropped travel restrictions and economic sanctions. Canberra has also recognized the government’s preferred name of Myanmar. 

But Thein Sein obviously has immediate issues to deal with – not to mention the ethnic strife among other groups that continues elsewhere along his country’s borders – and next year will be pivotal to his reforms and in winning wider acceptance for his long troubled country. Without this, 2014, when his country will take on the chair of ASEAN for the first time, could be the most difficult of times.

American Airpower = Soft Power?

By Robert Farley 
December 5, 2012 

Last year on The Diplomat, Adam Lowther of the USAF’s Air University argued that the United States should focus on developing “airpower diplomacy” in the Asia-Pacific region. By Lowther’s account, the pursuit of airpower diplomacy mostly involved the development of strong relationships with regional states in order to facilitate the basing of U.S. air assets in critical areas. While the pursuit of bases surely demands deft diplomacy, this argument reveals that the Air Force remains substantially behind the Navy in how it conceptualizes its contribution to “soft” or “smart” American power. 

The distinction between the Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower and the 1991 Air Force White Paper Global Reach, Global Power is telling in this regard. The former proposes a broad-based coalition for the maintenance of the maritime commons, while reserving capabilities to deter or defeat peer competitors. The latter envisions a world kept in order by the flexibility and overwhelming threat of U.S. airpower. Both of these are visions of world order, with a linked conception between force and diplomacy, but we would not understand the Air Force’s contribution in traditional “soft” power terms. While Air Force doctrine has matured in some ways since the 1990s, it retains this focus on hard power. 

As Alex Vacca has argued, these different interpretations of force and the commons are bound up in the intellectual histories of airpower and seapower. While Mahanian theory clearly supports an imperial project, it also lends itself to the kind of positive sum conception of maritime power found in the Cooperative Maritime Strategy. Seapower enables commerce, and consequently maintaining the freedom of the seas has wide, if uneven, benefits for all nations. 

Preventing a Chemical Weapons Nightmare in Syria

December 06, 2012 
By Dina Esfandiary 

Fear that Syria will resort to the unthinkable is not so far-fetched. The international community must be clear in defining its "redline." 
The last several days have seen a dramatic rise in tension over the possibility that Syria’s embattled President Bashar Al-Assad might resort to using chemical weapons as the tide of the country’s civil war turns increasingly against him. But before we get carried away, it is important to note that the situation is far from clear. 

Given the latest developments in Syria, fear that Assad will resort to these weapons is not unreasonable. Pressure must be mounting for Syria’s ruler, as the rebels advance and his army proves increasingly unable to push them back. Logic dictates that if Assad truly fears for his survival, then the use of his most potent weapon may not be so far-fetched. 

But on the other hand, we should measure our alarm. A reckless assumption that Assad will use chemical weapons could get us in all sorts of trouble – remember what happened in Iraq? 

What do we actually know? 

It has been reported that Syria is moving chemical weapons precursors in a way that is inconsistent – although we are not told in what way – with merely moving them from one facility to another or securing them (one reason for moving stockpiles). The implication is that Syria is getting ready to deploy them. Wired's Danger Room reports that “Engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas,” according to “an American official with knowledge of the situation.” This is significant because under normal circumstances the precursors are stored separately. At the time, speaking about the weaponization of the chemical weapons, Danger Room’s source did add that, “They didn't do it on the whole arsenal, just a modest quantity…. We're not sure what's the intent." Other reports, also citing unnamed U.S. officials, said that the preparations were being carried out at multiple locations. 

We did cut generals, Pentagon responds

Posted By Kevin Baron 
December 5, 2012

Pentagon officials on Tuesday said that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta never abandoned a plan to cut the ranks of flag and general officers, rejecting a recent allegation by one budget watchdog.

Ben Freeman, of the Project on Government Oversight, said on Monday that Panetta “abandoned” Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plan to cut the ranks. Freeman was asked to name what Panetta would be leaving undone when he departs the job, as expected, in the next administration.

Elieen Lainez, a DOD spokeswoman, explained to the E-Ring that the efficiency program is on track to “eliminate” as planned 102 [general and flag] officer positions and “reduce” 23 additional positions to a lower rank. Of the 102 to be cut, 74 were to be slashed by March 2013. To date, Lainez said, DOD has eliminated 68 of those 74. Another 28 positions were related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and will be eliminated “as conditions on the ground warrant.”

DOD contends that rate shows Panetta has not dropped the ball on the General/Flag Officer Efficiency working group recommendations made to Gates in 2011. DOD counts the number of positions, Lainez said, instead of people on payroll because the latter includes retirees awaiting their departure or officers in between jobs.

“We are eliminating the positions as the incumbents depart, and reducing personnel through normal attrition processes (retirement, etc). Additionally, the services are simultaneously reducing their promotion selection rates to reflect the lower number of future authorizations,” she wrote in a follow-up email.

But Freeman stuck by his claim on Wednesday, calling the Pentagon’s pushback a case of apples vs. oranges -- or positions vs. actual people getting government paychecks.

“We've heard all this before, and it's fuzzy math. They're counting positions, I'm counting taxpayer dollars,” he said. “The primary goal of this initiative was to save taxpayer money and create a more efficient force structure. Gates was less concerned with positions than he was with eliminating waste. A general ‘between jobs’ is still on the payroll. He may not have all the chefs, drivers, and string quartets he's accustomed to, but he's still on the payroll.”

Freeman said the Pentagon’s rolls, as listed online, show they have not reduced the number of people they should have, by now.

“If they have dropped below 900 G/FOs, it's hard to imagine they would have not only kept quiet about it, but actively stopped updating their rosters. If they are in fact below 900 G/FOs and had made that information public, I would have been the first to commend the military for streamlining its top-ranks,” he said.

“So, again, my question for them stands: how many generals and admirals are on the DOD's payroll right now? And, why haven't they been reporting that number?”

2012 Was The Year of The Drone in Afghanistan


An armed MQ-9 Reaper drone taxis on an Afghanistan runway, Nov. 2007. The drones have been busier in Afghanistan in 2012 than ever before. Photo: U.S. Air Force
The soldiers and marines are packing their bags. The pilots are sitting on the tarmac. But the armed robotic planes are busier than they’ve ever been: revised U.S. military statistics show a much, much larger drone war in Afghanistan than anyone suspected. 

Last month, military stats revealed that the U.S. had launched some 333 drone strikes in Afghanistan thus far in 2012. That made Afghanistan the epicenter of U.S. drone attacks — not Pakistan, not Yemen, not Somalia. But it turns out those stats were off, according to revised ones released by the Air Force on Thursday morning. There have actually been 447 drone strikes in Afghanistan this year. That means drone strikes represent 11.5 percent of the entire air war — up from about 5 percent last year. 

Never before in Afghanistan have there been so many drone strikes. For the past three years, the strikes have never topped 300 annually, even during the height of the surge. Never mind 2014, when U.S. troops are supposed to take a diminished role in the war and focus largely on counterterrorism. Afghanistan’s past year, heavy on insurgent-hunting robots, shows that the war’s future has already been on display. 

Aayo Gorkhali! Cry that won us a war

Author: Ashok K Mehta 

Tales of valour of the 4/5 Gorkha Rifles during the 1971 war are legendary. The brave soldiers of the battalion fought so valiantly in Sylhet that the Pakistani forces actually believed that they had encountered a brigade 

With 15 days to go for Vijay Divas, India’s first comprehensive war victory in 1,000 years, it is appropriate to recall one of the epic battles of 1971 in East Pakistan, the battle of Sylhet which enabled it. Fought between December 7 and 15, it is the first ever heliborne operation resulting in the surrender of the 7,000-strong Sylhet garrison at the hands of just 500 johnnies of 4/5 Gorkha Rifles (FF). They have reason to celebrate the battle feat this week as also to usher in 50 glorious years of their raising in Dehradun on January 1, 1963. The battle record is not restricted just to Sylhet but also spreads to its sterling contribution in nailing the Pakistan Ghaznavi force in 1965, the IPKF in Sri Lanka, the counter-insurgency in Kashmir and the North-East and in Siachen, where it distinguished itself with zero casualties on the glacier. 

But Sylhet is the crown jewel in its ‘bahaduri ka khazana’. The khukuri attack at Atgram and the demolition job at Gazipur were warm-ups for the aerial insertion into the jaws of death — a 20th century version of the Charge of the Light Brigade: The charge of Aayo Gorkhali. The ferocity of Four Five at Atgram and Gazipur had preceded the battalion helidrop at Sylhet. 

On December 6, Eastern Command, Calcutta, intercepted a tele-conversation between the overall Force Commander in East Pakistan, Lt Gen Niazi and GoC 14 Infantry Division, Maj Gen Qazi, during which the latter was ordered to send 313 Infantry Brigade from Moulvi Bazar for the defence of Dacca. In earlier intelligence assessments, 202 Infantry Brigade was not found around Sylhet but elsewhere. The overall evaluation that Sylhet was without regular troops and with only 300 Razakars got confirmed after a satellite picture, courtesy the Soviets, had indicated no presence of troops. 

On December 7, when Commanders — Brig Quinn, Commanding Officer, Lt Col Harolikar and Group Captain Chandan Singh — carried out helicopter reconnaissance over Sylhet, they neither noticed troop movement nor drew any fire. In fact, Maj Gen Kazi was strengthening Sylhet into a fortress as part of the overall plan to block the advance of Indian forces. He disobeyed Gen Niazi’s orders by deploying 313 Infantry Brigade around Sylhet instead of dispatching it to Dacca, and was removed from command. 

India’s South China Sea Gambit

By Zachary Keck 
December 5, 2012

India more forcefully asserted itself into the South China Sea dispute on Monday, with a senior naval officer saying New Delhi is prepared to deploy ships to the disputed waters should its oil exploration interests come under threat. 

Indian Navy Chief Admiral D.K Joshi said that his country stands ready to intervene in disputes in the South China Sea if Indian state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s (ONGC) joint oil exploration venture with Vietnam came under threat. 

"Not that we expect to be in those waters very frequently, but when the requirement is there for situations where the country's interests are involved, for example ONGC Videsh, we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that," Joshi told reporters

The admiral went on to say that the Indian Navy has been holding exercises to prepare for such contingencies.

His comments came in response to Vietnam accusing two Chinese fishing boats of cutting the cables of a Vietnam vessel doing seismic oil exploration in the South China Sea on Friday. Vietnam has increased its own naval patrols in the disputed waters in response to the perceived threat. 

Last summer ONGC agreed to a Vietnam proposal to jointly develop oil in an area of the South China Sea that China also claims, and one that Beijing had said it planned to auction off exploration rights to.

In response to the Indo-Vietnamese joint ventures, an editorial in China’s official Global Times stated,“It’s clear that such cooperation between Indian and Vietnamese companies in the South China Sea is motivated more by politics than economic interests.” 

Work on Indo-Russian transport aircraft begins

Ajai Shukla / Bangalore Dec 04, 2012

The Indo-Russian project to jointly design a transport aircraft for militaries of both nations kicked off in Moscow on Monday, where 30 engineers from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) began working with their Russian counterparts from the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) on the $600-million project. 

India and Russia are also collaborating in a $6-billion project to build an advanced fighter called the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft.“Our team in Moscow informed us today they are now functional at the special design facility that Russia has set up,” confirms NC Agarwal, the Chief Executive Officer of the joint venture company, called Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd (MTA Ltd), which will design the aircraft. 

The MTA will be capable of carrying 15-20 tonnes of payload; or 80 paratroopers; or 60 stretchers and operate from airfields as difficult as Leh, in Ladakh, J&K. After completing the design and testing of the MTA in 60 months, during which five prototypes will also be built, Russia and India will join hands in building 205 aircraft: 100 for the Russian Air Force (RAF); 45 for the Indian Air Force (IAF); and 60 for export. 

For the IAF, the MTA would be a much-needed replacement for the already phased out AN-12 and the ageing AN-32 transport aircraft. The MTA will be a mid-way choice, being smaller than the AN-12, but bigger than the AN-32. Both those aircraft were propeller-driven turboprops; the MTA will have a turbofan jet engine. 

The choice of which engine to use, as also the various systems of the aircraft which would be bought off the shelf, would be decided jointly, based on economy as well as suitability. 

New Delhi and Moscow signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in November 2007; after which HAL, UAC and MTA Ltd signed a General Contract, an umbrella document that defines the broad framework of the contract. Then came a $35-million contract for the Preliminary Design Phase (PDP), signed on October 12, 2012, which provided for a joint HAL-UAC team to work for the next 10 months in Moscow. The team will formalize the MTA’s configuration, basic performance, its various systems, the engines, and identify alternatives as well. This will be done to ensure that the RAF’s and IAF’s requirements are fully met. 


The US is waiting for India to mess things up with the Maldives 
Diplomacy: K.P. Nayar

Salman Khurshid has discovered within a month in his new job that some things have not changed in India’s external affairs in nearly twenty years. When P.V. Narasimha Rao promoted Khurshid within a few days of the latter’s 40th birthday in 1993 from deputy minister for commerce to minister of state for external affairs, one of his first tasks was to read out the Riot Act to the Maldives. Last month, he found himself engaged in the same brief almost two decades after his first such encounter. 

Rao’s government was tipped off then that the Maldivians were secretly cosying up to Pakistan. India’s neighbourhood was already unfriendly: not far from the Maldives, the wily Ranasinghe Premadasa, who ruled Colombo, was deeply distrustful of India so soon after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, and, to both India’s east and west, the demolition of the Babri Masjid a few months earlier had made the environment tense and unpredictable. 

The president of the Maldives for three decades, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, had cultivated the reputation that he was a friend of India, but he was steadily allowing an undercurrent of Islamization to take root in his island nation of atolls with money from Arab Gulf states flowing in for building mosques vastly out of proportion with his country’s small population and for other religious activities. 

Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance

Kenneth Katzman 
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs 
November 30, 2012


The capacity and transparency of Afghan governance are crucial to the success of a planned transition from U.S.-led NATO forces to Afghan leadership by the end of 2014. The capacity of the formal Afghan governing structure has increased significantly since the Taliban regime fell in late 2001, but nepotism is entrenched in Afghan culture and other forms of corruption are widespread. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accepted U.S. help to build emerging anticorruption institutions, but these same institutions have sometimes caused a Karzai backlash 

when they have targeted his allies or relatives. At a donors’ conference in Tokyo on July 8, 2012, donors pledged to aid Afghanistan’s economy through at least 2017, provided Afghanistan takes concrete, verifiable action to rein in corruption. On July 26, 2012, Karzai appeared to try to meet his pledges to the Tokyo conference by issuing a “decree on administrative reforms”—a document of sweeping policy directives intended to curb corruption. 

Even though the government is weak, President Hamid Karzai has tried to concentrate authority in Kabul through his constitutional powers of appointment at all levels. Karzai has repeatedly and publicly denied assertions by opposing faction leaders that he wants to stay in office beyond the 2014 expiration of his second term, but there are concerns he plans to use state election machinery to support the election of a successor. International efforts to curb fraud in two successive elections (for president in 2009 and parliament in 2010) largely failed and Afghan efforts to improve election oversight for the 2014 election are behind schedule, although the issue is being closely watched by Afghan civil society groups. Organized opposition political parties are working together to ensure a fair election. 

No matter how the 2014 election works out, there is concern among many observers that governance will founder as the United States and its partners wind down their involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The informal power structure consisting of regional and ethnic leaders—who have always been at least as significant a factor in governance as the formal power structure—is expected to assert itself after 2014 should governing institutions falter. However, the reassertion of informal leaders might produce even more corruption and arbitrary administration of justice than is the case now. Karzai has thus fare been unable to marginalize these ethnic faction leaders, in part because they have large constituencies, but he relies more closely on the loyalty of several close, ethnic Pashtun allies, particularly those from the Qandahar area. The non-Pashtun faction leaders generally oppose Karzai’s willingness to make concessions to insurgent leaders in search of a settlement. There are fears that a reintegration of the Taliban into Afghan politics will further set back progress in human rights and the rights of women and boost Pashtun power.

Islamist vs. Secularists: The Post-Revolution Struggle for the Arab Soul


Daniel Steinvorth 

12/04/2012 -- The rise of political Islam following the Arab Spring has many worried that the democratic achievements of the revolution could be lost. In Egypt and Tunisia alike, citizens are once again taking to the streets. But this time they are opposing Islamism. Does secularism still stand a chance ? 

Egypt's strongman was sitting in the first row of the mosque. "Anyone who criticizes the president is worse than the heretics who attacked the Prophet in Mecca," the imam preached in his sermon. Then he handed the microphone to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, saying that he should address the faithful himself. But he never got a chance. 

"Down with Morsi! Down with the Muslim Brotherhood!" chanted hundreds of men who were now pushing their way to the front. "Enough is enough!" they shouted. "No to tyranny!" For them, it was intolerable to hear the president being compared with the Prophet Muhammad. Morsi, surrounded by bodyguards, had to leave the mosque on Friday. It was both a scandal and a first for Egypt. But it was only the beginning. Later, more than 100,000 people gathered on Tahrir Square again to protest the actions of their president. 

There are no signs that tensions will ease in Egypt, and it is difficult to predict the outcome of the current power struggle. The president, who gave himself dictatorial special powers, seems unimpressed by the storm he has unleashed among secular Egyptians. In rushed proceedings, he also held a vote on a new constitution, in which the Constituent Assembly, dominated by Islamists, clearly voted in favor of Sharia law. The draft constitution will soon be put to a referendum. But the opposition will not accept this, because it is determined to stop the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi. 

This says a lot about the most important country in the Arab world, which is only at the beginning of its democratization. It also says a lot about the emotional state of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which came to power as a result of a revolution that it had only halfheartedly supported. The Islamist movement has decades of experience in dealing with authoritarian rulers, but it knows nothing about freedom and pluralism. 

Islamists Met with Resistance 

It wants to demonstrate strength, especially in Egypt, the country where it was founded, because it knows that a fierce struggle is underway over the role of political Islam, especially in the Arab countries that drove out their dictators only recently: Tunisia, Libya and Yemen. In Syria, where the war is still raging, the question remains as to whether the secular state will be jeopardized if more radical forces within the opposition prevail. Two years after the beginning of unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, the Islamists seem to have emerged as the clear winners. Many are now claiming that the Arab Spring has been followed by an Islamist winter.