22 December 2012



Dated October 12, 2010 

(Keynote speech delivered by me on October 11,2010 at the inaugural session of an international workshop on “European Common Foreign and Security Policy – Implications for India” organised by the Department of Politics and International Studies, Pondicherry University) 

1. EU-India diplomatic relations started in the early 1960s. These relations continued without a comprehensive legal and institutional framework till 1994. The Co-operation Agreement of 1994 laid the foundation for such a comprehensive framework. A comprehensive political dialogue at regular intervals since 2000 imparted a new dimension to the relations. This comprehensive political dialogue has been in the form of annual summits since 2000 and other regular meetings at the ministerial and experts levels. 

2. There was value-addition in the subsequent years in the form of the concept of the EU-India Strategic Partnership launched in 2004, the adoption of the EU-India Joint Action Plan (the ‘JAP’) and the decision to initiate negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement. These negotiations have not yet culminated in an agreement. The 2008 summit laid down the following four priorities for the JAP— peace and comprehensive security, sustainable development, research and technology, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. 

3. A new addition has been the periodic EU-India Security Dialogue. Amongst the various subjects that have figured in the periodic political and security dialogues at the summit and sub-summit levels are: counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, crisis management, maritime security with special reference to co-ordinated action against Somali pirates and regional peace and security with specific reference to the developments in Afghanistan. India has not encouraged reported EU attempts to have the developments in Sri Lanka covered within the ambit of this dialogue. While there has been no attempt by the EU to have the Kashmir issue raised in the political dialogue, India was irked by attempts made by Mr.David Milliband, the former British Foreign Secretary, after the Mumbai 26/11 terrorist strikes to link the continuing use of terrorism by Pakistan against India with the so-called Kashmir dispute. 

4. Under the security dialogue, India’s main interest has been in India-EU co-operation in Counter-terrorism and against Somali piracy. This interest has been reciprocated by the EU. Counter-terrorism co-operation has acquired added importance due to the role played by members of the Pakistani diaspora in Europe in assisting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Recent reports of the plans of Al Qaeda and the so-called German Taliban to organize Mumbai-26/11 style terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany in protest against their role in Afghanistan have added to our concerns. Despite this, the scope for India-EU counter-terrorism co-operation has remained limited due to the following reasons: 


D.S. Rajan, October 27, 2011 

Coming to notice in the recent period is an authoritative Chinese language media comment, strongly supporting the maintenance of peace and stability along the Sino-Indian border and justifying the need for the People’s Republic of China(PRC) to avoid hostilities and seek cooperation with India, but raising at the same time the issue of threat to China coming from India’s military build-up in the border. When seen against China’s official welcome to the latest remarks of the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh recognizing the commitment of the Chinese leadership for peaceful resolution of disputes, the comment appears to be a significant pointer to the prevailing two mixed trends in China’s current policy course towards India- diplomatically benign, but strategically suspicious. 

A three -part article, written by one Wu Minjie, under the caption “India’s Border Blitz, Not to be Routine, with No Prior Notice to Beijing”, has been published on 21 October 2011 in the “Military Review” column of the website www.huanqiu.com, which is the Chinese language version of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-run Global Times Net. The article has also appeared on the same day in the “World News Paper” (Shijie Xinwen Bao), a publication of the Chinese Government’s “China Radio International”. 

The article has alleged that in very recent years, India, taking China’s strengthening of its troop deployment in Tibet as pretext, has all along been indulging in a continuous expansion of its troop strength in the Sino-Indian border region. It has especially noted the deployment of additional two mountain divisions, Arunachal scouts, Su-30 MKI fighters, T-72 main battle tanks and other advanced equipment in the borders. In elaboration, it has quoted from Indian press reports on New Delhi’s plans along the Line of Actual Control – to deploy a new Army, two armored brigades and one independent infantry brigade, four Su-30 MKI fighter squadrons by 2015 and additional 35 border posts for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. 

As per the article, in the eastern sector including in “Arunachal”, India has so far deployed 5 Armies, 240-300 fighter aircraft , 5 Mountain infantry Divisions and 1 Mechanized Division. More over, above 7 million Indian immigrants are currently in “Arunachal”, which number exceeds the total Tibet population. The article has invited attention to the ‘assessment’ of many military observers that the Indian military strategy with respect to border with China has undergone a shift – from ‘defensive’ to ‘offensive’. Giving its own evaluation, the article has said that India’s overall combat strength in the border region now actually exceeds that of the Chinese side. 


Ashok Tiku, June 8, 2011 

The Chinese language media have recently highlighted the beginning of night flight operations from Kunming (Yunnan) to Gongga (arrival Gongga, 2140 hrs. consuming 3.05 hrs of time, departure Gongga for Kunming, 2240 hrs.). It may be recalled that 24 hour night flight operations began in Gongga airport on 30 June 2008, as part of US $ 13.2 million “Gongga Renovation and Expansion Project” which provided for installation of runway lighting and construction of new terminal building. Gongga is now a buzzling Airport with flights to eight Chinese cities – Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Kunming, Shanghai, Xian and Xining. It is also air connected to Kathmandu. It has become capable of handling traffic involving Air bus A-330. 

There are now five civilian airports in Tibet – Gongga (Lhasa), Xigaze (Rikaze), Nyingchi (Linzhi, with night landing facilities), Changdu (Qamdo) and Gunsa (Ali). A sixth airport is coming up at a cost of US $ 260 million at Nagqu in the Himalayan region through which Qinghai – Tibet railway passes through. 

For obvious reasons, the civilian airports in Tibet will also militarily be useful. Mostly, military airports like that in Gongga, are situated along the civilian ones. There are reportedly about fifty airfields which the airforce units under Lanzhou and Chengdu military regions, can access. According to available information, no regular Air Force units are deployed in Tibet. However, the Chinese J-7fighter aircraft are reportedly being deployed in Gongga on an annual basis for training and area familiarisation during the fair weather period of July to October every year. According to a report (PLA Daily, 30 July 2010), China’s third generation fighter aircraft performed patrolling tasks for the first time in Tibet with a field occupation time of eight hours. Military analysts think that they could be J 11 fighters of 97th Regiment, 33rd Fighter Division of Chengdu Air Force Command (China – defense.blogspot.com/2010/08/j-11-over-tibet.html). The information given in the Chinese media ( August 2010) that combat readiness materials were transported to Tibet through the Qinghai – Tibet railway for the first time and holding of first live fire joint ground and air drill in Tibet(October 2010), may indicate Chinese plans to increase the involvement of the airforce in Tibet. 

Modernisation of air infrastructure in Tibet is part of China’s overall border strategies aimed integrating the regions with the Mainland economically, politically and militarily. In the five years 2006 – 2010, an amount of US $10 billion was allotted for completion of 188 infrastructure projects in Tibet which include the construction of 2143 kms long Xinjing – Tibet Highway. 

For India, the improvement of air, road and rail infrastructure in Tibet is no doubt strategically important. Whereas, China’s airports across the border are now fully modernised with night landing facilities, there is no matching situation in India particularly in Jammu & Kashmir and the northeast. Needless to say that such a gap should be filled up with no loss of time. 

(The writer Mr Ashok Tiku is an experienced China analyst based in New Delhi. Views expressed are his own. Email.: ashoktiku1@hotmail.com)


Jayadeva Ranade 

China’s veteran communist leadership has traditionally had close ties with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and ensured that they retain a tight grip over it. The role and importance of the PLA in communist China has grown steadily in importance over the years and its importance for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was brought into sharp focus during the Tiananmen ‘incident’ in 1989. As veteran cadres, most of whom had gained their initial experience and grown while in the communist Armies, began disappearing from the scene the need was felt for tightening the CCP’s control and grip over the PLA. This became more pronounced as Party apparatchiks with little or no experience of service in the PLA began entering the Party’s top echelons. The present day statements of senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders, that the “Party must firmly control the gun”, reinforce their view of the need for enhanced political control over the PLA. 

Deng Xiaoping’s farsighted move of establishing a Central Military Commission (CMC) under the Chairmanship of the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was with the objective of strengthening Party control over the PLA. The arrangement by which the prospective Party Chief was positioned as Vice Chairman of the CMC, so that he gains influence and establishes his authority before taking over as General Secretary of the CCP Central Committee (CC) usually five years later, effectively placed the PLA subordinate to the Party. 

CCP CC General Secretaries Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao both focused on the PLA, but Hu Jintao especially extended political control and expanded the CCP and Communist Youth League (CYL)’s presence in the PLA. There are presently at least 90,000 cells of the CCP, comprising five members each, in the PLA. Political Commissars in the PLA have simultaneously been given an enhanced role and authority and their inputs now impact significantly on the career prospects of the PLA’s operational officers. Political Commissars are now given training specific to the new kind of wars anticipated and their exposure to the different services and military regions/commands have been made more expansive. 

The CCP and PLA leadership has identified, with concern, new vulnerabilities in the PLA. As greater numbers of better educated personnel and college graduates join the PLA, their potential susceptibility to “hostile” foreign propaganda is considered to be greater. This “hostile” foreign propaganda, which was troublingly noticed to have been articulated in the run up to the recently-concluded 18th Party Congress by some of the more ‘liberal’ Chinese economists calling for political reform, argues that the PLA should be an army of the State and not subservient to the CCP. 

Chinese military power 'shifting Pacific balance', says defence white paper

December 21, 2012

Defence white paper wary of China

Cameron Stewart says the draft copy of the defence white paper he has witnessed is circumspect of China's growing standing in the region.

People's Liberation Army sailors on the Chinese warship Yiyang, which visited Sydney Harbour this week. Picture: John GraingerSource: The Daily Telegraph

CHINA'S military expansion is changing the balance of power in the Pacific, posing a direct challenge to Australia's strategic weight in the region.

And a draft of next year's defence white paper, obtained by The Australian, also warns that technological advances have reduced the warning time Australia would have against an enemy. "Despite the defensive advantages of our geography, the proliferation of long-range strike and power projection capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region, and emerging capabilities in areas such as cyber, increases the risk of a potential aggressor being able to directly attack Australia with little or no warning time," it says.

The 150-page draft blueprint, valid at December 11, makes no firm commitment for more defence spending, warning that future constraints on military spending will be "sustained and serious". It says Australia does not have to choose between the US and China, but that their relationship will determine Australia's strategic environment for generations. "The US-China relationship is critical," it says. "This relationship, more than anything else, will determine our strategic environment in the coming decades.

"Over the next three decades, Australia's relative strategic weight will be challenged as the major economies grow rapidly and modernise their militaries."

The government has promised to release a final version of the white paper before the next election, saying the rise of China and India coupled with the wind-down of military operations in Afghanistan and East Timor require a reappraisal of defence posture.

The draft document, which Defence claims is incomplete and undergoing substantial changes, makes no firm commitment to increasing defence spending, which was slashed in the May budget by 10 per cent, reducing it to 1.56 per cent of gross domestic product, the lowest proportion since 1938.

Tomorrow's Weapons Today

Five weapons to watch in 2013. 

Here at Killer Apps we are always on the lookout for new, um, killer apps, and this year we saw a lot. Here's a list of five of the most interesting weapons that came to our attention in 2012. These systems either were invented in the last year or achieved a significant milestone on the road to becoming operational weapons. Look out, 2013. 

Printed Guns 

First up: the printed gun. While today's 3D printers can only print guns capable of firing six shots before they fall apart, who knows there this technology will be in five or 10 years and what it will mean for worldwide conflict if anyone can print an assault rifle. As we reported recently, the U.S. military is already looking at 3D printing as a way of reducing the amount of gear carried by troops. While some 3D printer manufacturers are cracking down on customers who try to build weapons with its devices, the cat is already out of the bag. Gun enthusiasts have already set up an alternate website hosting instructions -- blueprints? -- for making guns via 3D printers. 

Wikimedia Commons 

Killer Drone Boats 

Next is the U.S. Navy's remote-controlled, missile-firing boat, formally known as the unmanned surface vehicle precision engagement module (USV-PEM). Right now, the system is made up of a 36-foot speedboat with night vision and infrared cameras and armed with a .50 caliber machine gun or six Israeli-made Spike missiles. In late October, the USV-PEM -- a collaborative venture between the U.S. and Israel -- successfully fired six Spikes. The unmanned boat is piloted by a crew sitting in a control station that's either ashore or on a mothership. The craft is pretty much designed to defeat swarms of small, explosives-laden speedboats attempting to overwhelm the limited defenses that large ships have against such vessels. Keep in mind that U.S. Navy planners are worried that Iran would use such "swarming" tactics against the sea service in any conflict in the Gulf. 

Gary McGraw: Proactive defense prudent alternative to cyberwarfare

Gary McGraw, Contributor Published: 01 Nov 2012 

In cyberwar, having a good offense is not the same as having a good defense. It is much more dangerous. The current call to cyber-arms permeating Washington is a serious problem. The purveyors of cyber-offense and "active defense" seem to not understand the role that proactive defense through security engineering can play in averting cyberwar. 

Cyber-information systems control many important aspects of modern society, from power grids, to transportation systems, to essential financial services. They sample air quality, spy on people, track movement of fissile materials, enable remote-controlled bombing, manage hardware and software supply chains, facilitate billions of dollars in fraud each year, form the core of massive botnets that can take giant corporations offline, predict weather events, and allow split-second financial trades that move world markets. Our dependence on these systems and their inherent complexity and interrelated nature is not well-understood by the "non-geeks" who make both policy and business decisions. This makes for a real and present danger of cyber-exploit. That's because a majority of these essential systems are riddled with security vulnerabilities. 

As such, our reliance on these vulnerable systems is a major factor making cyberwar inevitable. The cyber-environment is target-rich and easy to attack, and even weak actors can have a major asymmetric impact. Billions invested in detective and reactive controls do not seem to have measurablyation portfolio or hardened our national attack surface. The only viable solution to this problem is to improve our cyber-defenses proactively by greatly increasing our appetite for, and ability to design and implement secure software. 
Offense masquerading as 'active defense' 

When the Washington Post publishes a story hyping an ill-considered notion of cyber-retaliation misleadingly called "active defense" as a rational idea, we should all worry. 

Offensive security advocates 

Enterprises can disrupt cybercriminals and deter future attacks, explains Dmitri Alperovitch, CTO of CrowdStrike Inc. The approach has its critics. 

Active defense is normally a fairly innocuous and well-understood military term that refers to efforts to thwart an attack by attacking the attackers. In this nomenclature, "passive defense" would be protection through proactive security engineering. Strangely, this notion of passive defense (or protection) is completely ignored in the cyberwar debate. This is surprising, because proactive defense can serve as a differentiator and a serious deterrent to war. 

The false fear of autonomous weapons

December 20, 2012 

Last month, Human Rights Watch raised eyebrows with a provocatively titled report about autonomous weaponry that can select targets and fire at them without human input. “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots,” blasts the headline, and argues that autonomous weapons will increase the danger to civilians in conflict. 

In this report, HRW urges the international community to “prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons” because these machines “inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians.” 

While such concern is understandable, it is misplaced. For starters, as HRW concede in their report, no country, including the U.S., has decided to either develop or deploy fully autonomous armed robots. Shortly after the report was published, the Pentagon released a directive on the development of autonomy that called for “commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.” 

So if the Pentagon doesn’t want fully autonomous weapons, why is there such concern about them? 

Part of the reason, arguably, is cultural. American science fiction, in particular, has made clear that autonomous robot are deadly. From the Terminator franchise, the original and the remake of Battlestar Galactica, to the Matrix trilogy, the clear thrust of popular science fiction is that making machines functional without human input will be the downfall of humanity. 

It is under this sci-fi “understanding” of technology that some object to autonomous weaponry. However, the Pentagon directive shows that the military certainly doesn’t want total weaponry autonomy. A deeper look at this type of weapon reveals that the perceived threat may not be valid. In fact, re-examination might suggest more plausible alternatives to this technology than full-bore prohibition. 

Many of the processes that go into making lethal decisions are already automated. The intelligence community (IC) generates around 50,000 pages of analysis each year, culled from hundreds of thousands of messages. Every day analysts reviewing targeting intelligence populate lists for the military and CIA via hundreds of pages of documents selected by computer filters and automated databases that discriminate for certain keywords. 

In war zones, too, many decisions to kill are at least partly automated. Software programs such as Panatir collect massive amounts of information about IEDs, analyze without human input, and spit out lists of likely targets. No human could possibly read, understand, analyze, and output so much information in such a short period of time. 

When the network dies

The Army lacks the battle drills that would help it fight on 
By Lt. Col. Michael J. Lanham 

Unprepared soldiers are ineffective soldiers, and the rise of the networked battle space has made this ancient wisdom no less true. 

It is curious, then, that when the Army practices operating in contested cyberspace environments, it does so largely in echelons above corps and not throughout the force. What exercises do take place generally understate the likely effects of network outages and overstate our ability to adapt to them. 

If we continue to avoid rigorous rehearsal for cyber attack, or fail to implement it at all levels, we are training to meet incompetent adversaries and setting the stage for improvised, ill-coordinated and ineffective responses to competent ones. 

Just as the Army has done for every other aspect of combat, it needs to develop a set of battle drills for such environments and work them into the standard training regimen at each echelon of command. These drills must include individual and collective tasks of the sort that would prepare soldiers, commanders and units to face many varieties of cyber events: short- and long-duration, point and pervasive, man-made and natural. To make this practical, we must also give units at all levels the modeling and simulation capabilities they need to hone their defenses, responses and training efforts. 

What We Do 

What are our current capabilities and willingness to conduct rigorous rehearsals of operations in contested cyberspace environments? 

Before addressing that explicit question, we should acknowledge that there are certainly concerns with authority to conduct rehearsals — unlike tankers skirmishing at the National Training Center, cyber warriors often hone their craft on the actual Internet — but I’ll defer such a discussion and presume there are safe, legal, moral and ethical ways of getting better at our jobs. 

We should also properly frame what we wish to accomplish. I’m going to borrow an idea from Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, a past commander of the 24th Air Force, his service’s component of U.S. Cyber Command. His vision of his command was that he and his airmen will provide “mission assurance,” not “information assurance” — that is, that his main goal is not to defend computers per se but rather to assure commanders that they can continue their missions in contested cyber environments. The Army uses different vocabulary, but it’s apparent that these two Cyber Command service components share a view. 

Air Force Cyber Vision 2025

By Michael Donley and Mark Maybury 

Assured cyberspace is a foundation for global vigilance, global reach and global power. Essential to all Air Force missions, cyberspace is a domain in which, from which and through which missions are performed. Yet the domain is increasingly contested or denied, while our ability to address opportunities and threats is constrained by time, treasure and talent. 

The good news is that cyberspace science and technology efforts can help overcome those threats and provide systems and methods that are affordable and resilient. However, this requires intelligent partnering and better integration, and further development of doctrine, policy and research, development, test and evaluation processes. 

The recently completed Cyber Vision 2025 study provides the Air Force vision for cyber science and technology in the near, mid and long term, delineating where our service should lead, follow or watch in partnership with others. Championed by the Office of the Chief Scientist, Cyber Vision 2025 was created by operators and technologists from across the Air Force and drew upon experts across government, industry and academia. 

Our study looked at current and future threats, identified enduring principles of cyber operations and, finally, developed sets of recommended actions intended to assure Air Force missions in the domains of air, space and cyberspace and the realms of command-and-control and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. We have organized these actions into four cross-domain, integrating themes. 

Threats and Responses 

Cyberspace is increasingly competitive and contested. Malware signatures are expected to increase from fewer than 3 million to more than 200 million by 2025. Moreover, the appearance of worms such as Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame illustrate that cyber operations have moved beyond the virtual realm to touch the physical world. 

We anticipate that future threats will arrive along multiple fronts. Increasingly sophisticated adversaries can attack with a range of methods (e.g., social engineering, malicious insider, supply chain) against an array of interdependent layers with a diversity of effects on availability, integrity and confidentiality. They can undermine critical infrastructure (e.g., energy, water, fuel), mission support services (e.g., banking, transportation, communications), and C2 and ISR systems. They can directly attack mission systems; for example, via the computing capabilities embedded in air, space and cyberspace platforms. Finally, they can launch advanced persistent threats that can remain undetected in our cyber systems for long periods of time. 

Fixing Afghanistan

10 steps toward a lighter, better endgame 
By Daniel R. Green 

After 11 years of war, the U.S. military is applying a strategy in Afghanistan that works, based on gradually empowering the Afghanistan government to take charge of its affairs. The problem is that it isn’t appropriately resourced and is attempting to achieve results along a political timeline determined in Washington, D.C. 

In brief, the strategy runs this way: A fiscally supportable force of Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police forces, in partnership with Afghan Local Police trained by U.S. special operations forces, will fight the Taliban insurgency, holistically confronting its military arm as much as its political arm. It will be extremely difficult for the Taliban insurgency to defeat a security strategy that adopts a decentralized, village-based approach that seamlessly blends civil and military approaches and enlists the population in its own defense. With greater security provided to Afghanistan’s cities through conventional forces and the countryside protected through a mix of ANA, ANP and ALP forces, the Taliban will find it increasingly difficult to operate throughout Afghanistan. 

Yet current plans to withdraw most forces by 2014 make this unsustainable. As the Obama administration decides the size and scope of future U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, it is useful to consider a number of alternative approaches nested within current strategy. The following recommendations are made in the spirit of creating a lighter, leaner and hence more sustainable (fiscally, politically, militarily and politically) U.S. presence in Afghanistan that can prevent the country from either falling to the Taliban movement in the long-term or becoming a satellite state of another regional power. 

1. Reset the war narrative. The Obama administration must reset the narrative, which is at present focused on withdrawal and transition, not victory and stability. Even though the administration recently signed a 10-year agreement with the government of Afghanistan to provide sustained financial and other support after U.S. troops withdraw, Afghan security forces will still require direct U.S. military assistance such as combat support, logistics, medical care and intelligence. Additionally, a robust training and mentoring presence will also be required with our troops co-located with Afghan security forces in Afghanistan’s countryside where combat is likely. Current plans call for all of these assets to be gone by 2014, which will consign Afghan security forces to a less-than-optimal level of proficiency to combat the Taliban effectively. 

The quantified warrior

How DoD should lead human performance augmentation 
By Jack L. Blackhurst, Jennifer S. Gresham and Morley O. Stone 

A fifth-generation fighter takes more than 1,500 measurements a second over every conceivable aircraft parameter. Yet the most important part of the fighter, the pilot, doesn’t have a single measurement recorded during flight. This is in a day and age when nearly anyone can record a half-dozen physiological data streams in his quest to become fitter or healthier, including a log of alpha rhythms to diagnose sleep quality. For an elite athlete or corporate executive, the sky is the limit in terms of quantified physiological parameters. 

The Defense Department has flirted with the concept of human performance monitoring and augmentation over the last several decades, but the idea has never become a central tenet in either manpower or acquisition planning. Now, as the services prepare to reduce force strength over the next four years, they must find a way to do more with less. 

One solution is to take a page from the growing performance quantification in the civilian world to develop the vision of a “quantified warrior.” From preventing mishaps to increasing mission efficiency and effectiveness and spurring acquisition reform, the revolution this technology can realize is manifold. In this article, we lay the foundation for a sense-assess-augment framework for human performance augmentation and demonstrate how the DoD can realize its mission impact in both the near- and far-term. 

The Sense-Assess-Augment Paradigm 

Data has become a weapon in its own right in the 21st century, with the potential to harm friend and foe alike. In a drone attack that killed 23 Afghan civilians in 2010, the primary cause of the accident cited by Air Force and Army officials was information overload. Operators, who were monitoring the drone’s video feeds while simultaneously engaging in dozens of instant-messages and radio exchanges with troops on the ground, failed to mentally account for the children they acknowledge they saw in the video feeds. Additional research by the Army Research Laboratory showed that when soldiers operated a tank while simultaneously monitoring video feeds, they failed to see targets right around them. 

The danger of information overload can only be expected to increase. It’s also clear more manpower won’t be forthcoming, nor can technological advances in autonomy be expected to solve the problem, as we detailed in this journal in October 2011 (“The Autonomy Paradox”). The question is: Can human performance augmentation fill the gap? The Air Force Research Laboratory recently led a workshop on the topic. Participants noted that autonomy research has shifted some tasks from man-in-the-loop to man-on-the-loop, allowing the human to perform multiple tasks while still presumably providing supervisory control. This has been critical to cyber defense strategies and control of multiple unmanned aerial systems by a single pilot, for example. 

What’s needed now is to “close the loop,” where the physical and mental states of the operator are fed back into the weapon system, making the human a more seamless part of the overall system. Thus, a sense-assess-augment framework was developed to guide the application of the human performance augmentation into systems engineering across the services. 

Step 1: Sense 

Historically, real-time physiological monitoring wasn’t necessary. The most sophisticated piece of machinery a Marine took into battle was his rifle. The metric for successful flight operations was time of useful consciousness. But as mechanical systems have been replaced by information systems as today’s weapons of choice, the sensing of executive function, rather than mere consciousness, becomes central to mission success. 

Sensing is now the most mature piece of the paradigm, thanks to considerable commercial investment in athletics, health care and productivity. Sensors exist or are in development that can measure a huge range of parameters, such as brain activity, eye movement, skin temperature and biological performance markers (for example, blood glucose levels or molecules that indicate the onset of fatigue). To measure an individual’s capacity to multitask, problem-solve and reason, suites of sensors will be required. Measures might include sleep quality and duration, levels of stress biomarkers such as corticosteriods, heart rate, or even self-reported changes in dietary consumption or mood. In concert, sensor suites can act like a kind of “check engine light” for individual soldiers and operators. 

This is why the pulse oxygen sensor recently introduced to help diagnose what’s happening in the F-22, while a step in the right direction, will likely be disappointing. It’s not enough information alone to pinpoint the problem for investigators, which may in the end have a collection of causes. Without real-time data during the incidents, investigators can only infer a cause based on the symptoms described — a laborious process. In addition to measuring blood-oxygen levels, a sensor suite could capture breathing and heart rate, gas mixtures in exhaled breath, glucose monitoring and eye-tracking. This would provide a much better complement to the aircraft flight measures being used to aid investigators. 

Step 2: Assess 

Of all the steps, the ability to interpret data from multiple, individual sensors and merge it into actionable information in a timely manner is the most difficult. The first challenge is one of time scales. For example, sleep quality and duration are measured on a daily basis, while heart rate is reported as beats per minute. To get an accurate picture of executive function using these measurements, how do we integrate that information across minutes and days? What does real-time monitoring mean with this kind of data mismatch? The second challenge stems from the fact that different tasks will seek different outcomes. Some tasks will focus on efficiency, while for others, the main concern may be safety. These outcomes will in turn drive different types of assessments, suggesting that mass production of performance augmentation across missions will not be feasible. Instead, it will be designed for each task and desired outcome. Researchers will need to work closely with operational units to make progress, which could be difficult given current operational tempos. 

Performance assessments need to be quantified relative to an individual baseline collected over time. To say a soldier is tired or injured doesn’t reveal how likely it is he will complete or impede the mission. But if it were possible to know, for example, when a soldier’s ability to accurately shoot a target was decreased by 25 percent, a better decision as to how to address the symptom of fatigue could be made. Nor should these assessments occur only at the tactical level. Those higher in the chain of command are just as likely, if not more so, to be suffering from lack of sleep and exercise, poor nutrition and information overload that can impair decision-making. 

Finally, the results of such assessments should be objectively interpreted and incorporated into the relevant training, tactics and procedures. In essence, units would now be able to quantify operational availability and readiness for the human component as part of an overall assessment of the weapon system. A good deal of research, looking at both model and data-driven algorithms, is necessary before this is possible. 

Step 3: Augment 

Human performance augmentation isn’t new, but our understanding of how to apply it has advanced beyond merely creating exoskeletons for extra strength. For example, Stanford University researchers discovered that muscles don’t fail due to a lack of fuel such as glucose; instead, they get overheated. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency gave them money to create a glove for special operations units that pulls a slight vacuum while cooling the veins of the hand, what the researchers refer to as the “radiator of the body.” The vacuum prevents the veins from constricting while exposed to the cold temperatures, rapidly cooling the blood returning the heart and lungs. This rapid reduction of core body temperature after exertion provides a jolt of rejuvenation, allowing users to instantly double or triple their performance threshold. Tests showed that use of the glove provided performance enhancements that were the equivalent of taking human growth hormone for 18 months, without the undue side effects. 

The challenge is to create augmentation systems that don’t impinge on the ability to execute the mission. Many troops are already maxed out in terms of weight or power requirements. The glove for special operations forces, for example, is about the size of a coffee pot. This means the device cannot be worn continuously, but must be unpacked for use when needed. Given the kinds of situations where one might anticipate its greatest benefits, such as in the midst of battle, it might not be worth taking along on deployments. 

The possibilities for augmentation extend beyond physical enhancements. DARPA has explored the concept of “nutritional armor,” where food supplements improve resiliency and prevent suicides. Mild brain stimulation is being tested for its ability to accelerate learning and reduce training times, potentially allowing maintainers to morph into cybersecurity specialists within weeks. Electroencephalogram technology can pick up when intelligence analysts detect an object of interest, even before they are consciously aware of it, allowing them to process images more quickly. 

It sounds far-fetched, until you hear about USA Cycling’s covert operations in 1996 to improve performance in preparation for the summer Olympic Games. Nicknamed “Project 96,” it isolated and optimized eight crucial components of cycling performance. Some were features of the bike itself, but the majority concentrated on the rider, examining diet, psychology, aerobic capacity and lactic acid tolerance. What was revolutionary about the program was that it isolated and quantified each component individually, then optimized the set of parameters for each athlete. 

The result? The team won more medals than it had since 1984, a time when competition was reduced due to the Olympic boycott. Ten years later, one of the team members had traded the life of an elite athlete for that of stressed-out CEO. He began experiencing a range of health issues and was informed by his doctor he was at high risk for heart attack. Using the same sense-assess-augment strategies employed in Project 96, he not only reversed his health issues but in the process set a world cycling record at the age of 35 — a feat previously thought biologically impossible due to declining testosterone levels. 

The corollary for military acquisitions and operations should be clear. Stressed manpower, increased complexity and sustained operations mean the services can’t solve their problems through technology alone. A weapon system can no longer be evaluated or enhanced in isolation from its human operator. In the earliest stages of the acquisition cycle we need to start testing and designing for the critical parameters of joint human and machine performance. 

The Way Ahead 

Although the concept of human performance augmentation has been technically feasible for some time, it’s failed to deliver more than modest gains. Without the paradigm described above, the sensing and augmentation communities have largely worked independently and the assessment piece has lacked a research leader to make significant progress to bridge them. If there is one lesson from the decades of dabbling in human performance augmentation, it is the necessity and interdependence of the three pieces of the paradigm. 

Sensing without assessment is frustrating. It is, in fact, one of the most common complaints of consumers trying to make sense of the athletic, health and productivity data they are collecting. Many ask: What does the data mean and how do I alter my performance accordingly? Augmentation without the sensing and assessment components is not only potentially dangerous, but breeds distrust among the public and policymakers. For example, the Air Force pilots responsible for the friendly fire deaths of Canadian troops in Afghanistan in 2003 implicated “go pills” as the cause of the accident. Although the official investigation found no contribution of the drug to the outcome, the public and media were not persuaded. Physiological monitoring and assessment might have provided objective proof that the cause was poor judgment by the pilot, not a side effect of a widely used drug. 

What the sense-assess-augment paradigm offers is a data-driven feedback loop that can improve mission performance and inform personnel and acquisition decisions. In the near term, the DoD should use existing commercial sensors to explore operational assessment in defined and relatively controlled environments. Training missions offer the best access and control, without jeopardizing critical mission outcomes. 

In the far term, what’s needed is a concerted strategy by the services that looks beyond sensing or augmentation in isolation. To do that, we suggest the following: 

• Position the DoD laboratories as “owners” of the assessment piece through existing scientific communities of interest. The DoD can rely on industry for the sensing piece and potentially buy the augmentation piece, but assessment is uniquely a DoD mission. Existing communities of interest, established by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in areas like autonomy, should develop a strategy that sets broad technical milestones and allocates collaborative resources, both people and dollars, to achieve them. Given the constrained resource environment, this will likely require redirecting resources away from some existing sensing and augmentation projects, while building better collaborations with industry and academia on these topics. 

• Create a recursive, systems engineering view of sense-assess-augment in a weapons system demonstration that views human performance as an integral system parameter — not separate and foreign as it is done today. As already stated, assessment is task specific and can’t happen inside the laboratory alone. Ideally, the scientific communities of interest would identify acquisition programs that were at appropriate levels of technical maturity and stood to gain the most from human performance augmentation. Spiral developments of unmanned aerial systems, which are used by all the services, may serve as an appropriate test system. 

• Conduct a legal and policy review early to examine the ethical boundaries of this construct for U.S. armed forces, especially given the potential breadth of possibilities. In 2003, the President’s Council on Bioethics authored a report on biotechnology, saying, “Even in moments of great crisis, when superior performance is most necessary, we must never lose sight of the human agency that gives superior performance its dignity.” This is the crux of the concern for many. While it is deemed acceptable to heal the sick and wounded, the support for “beyond therapy” outcomes is more varied, especially in a military environment where voluntary participation is questionable. The DoD must embrace legal and ethical discourse and transparency early in the process to avoid public-relations nightmares that disparagingly equate such technology with turning a soldier’s body into “just another piece of equipment.” 

The challenges to human performance augmentation appear significant: declining budgets, stressed ops tempo and a history of negative public opinion. However, the world, and with it the nature of war, is changing at an ever-increasing pace. It is unlikely we can accelerate our acquisitions to effectively counter more nimble adversaries without investing in and augmenting the most critical weapon system in the inventory: the human. 


Jack L. Blackhurst is the director of the Air Force Research Laboratory Human Effectiveness Directorate. Jennifer S. Gresham is a visiting research scholar at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. She previously served 16 years in the Air Force and is a reservist for the Air Force Office of Scientific Management. Morley O. Stone is the chief scientist of the Human Performance Wing at the Air Force Research Laboratory. 

Command and accountability Charting the erosion of senior officer responsibility

Charting the erosion of senior officer responsibility 
By Joseph J. Collins 

Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling wrote in these pages that today a private who loses his weapon “suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war” (“A Failure in Generalship,” May 2007). This ground-breaking article and the issue behind it inspired Tom Ricks’ fifth, and perhaps most important, book: “The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today.” 

Ricks’ book is an important study on command and accountability in wartime. It is also a précis of much of American military history over the past 70 years. It will make many officers uncomfortable and some generals squirm. Its arguments can be disputed; they cannot be ignored. 

Ricks knows the armed forces as a journalist, a war correspondent, a blogger and a well-read amateur historian. His book — 460 pages of text and over 65 pages of notes — covers the period from 1940 to the present and looks in depth at more than a dozen high-ranking generals. 

His argument is fairly simple. In World War II, Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army chief of staff, was a critical strategic leader and, in Winston Churchill’s phrase, the “organizer of victory.” The cold, taciturn Virginian shaped the officer corps by retiring older officers, accelerating the promotion of the best and the brightest, and ruthlessly pruning the general officer ranks. Marshall’s men were mentally agile, broad-gauged thinkers, and a few, like Dwight D. Eisenhower, had an eye for strategy writ large. 

General officers who did not do well in combat or wore themselves out were promptly relieved by Marshall or his subordinates. Ten percent of division commanders were sacked. Five corps commanders were relieved, as well. A few of the division commanders made it back to command again, but most did not. Interestingly, Marshall, the epitome of prudence and regularity, tended to favor aggressive officers to help propel his team-player generals to success. In any case, strict accountability for results was the rule. Historians judged the Marshall team as “plodding” and at times unimaginative, but it was ultimately victorious in the most important war in the modern age. 

The Army faced its next test in Korea, where it flunked the first year of the war. Handicapped by postwar unreadiness, misdirection and low budgets, and led by the politicized, erratic and egotistical Douglas MacArthur, the Army in Korea initially had few of Marshall’s men and, worse, a shortage of experienced commanders. A brilliant amphibious landing at Inchon — wrongly dismissed by Ricks, in my view — turned the tide in the fall of 1950, but it enticed our forces to go north to the Yalu River, where they were surprised and routed by the Chinese Army. The main U.N. force on the western side of the peninsula, the U.S. Eighth Army, lost two divisions, the greatest battlefield defeat in the Army’s modern history. (Adding to the Army’s embarrassment, X Corps, dominated by the tough and well-led 1st Marine Division, did much better on the eastern side of the peninsula.) 

Head east Shifting U.S. units from Western Europe makes readiness, fiscal sense

By Maj. Michael Wise 

As the U.S. military prepares to trim its 80,000-strong force in Europe by 10,000 soldiers, it’s a good time to rethink a basing structure still yoked to Cold War needs. 

The Army’s two remaining conventional brigades — the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment — are based in Vicenza, Italy, and Vilseck, Germany, respectively, while the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is near Ramstein Air Base. These locations, set up as part of a tactical tripwire that Warsaw Pact forces had to cross to invade Western Europe, no longer reflect the best positioning for training, operations, cost-effectiveness or strategy. The 173rd ABCT, the 2nd CR and the Lanstuhl organization should be moved eastward, to Szczezin, Poland, and Constanta, Romania. 

Proposals such as this have been drafted in the past. In 2003, Gen. James Jones, then-commander of European Command, hinted at closing all bases in Germany, except Ramstein, and moving east. Opponents argued that his proposal was meant to punish Western Europe’s lack of support for Operation Iraqi Freedom and that its estimates of cost savings were unsound. The smaller number of troops involved in today’s force posture makes the proposed moves less controversial, the benefits clearer and the costs more predictable. 

In crowded Western Europe, U.S. and allied forces face restrictions on and even obstacles to training. Noise limits in Germany and Italy restrict various activities — firing live or even blank ammunition, setting off explosives, flying military aircraft, etc. — to certain hours of the week. The 173rd ABCT, for example, has inadequate training areas in its immediate area and must conduct most of its high-intensity training six hours north in Germany. 

The Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfehls, the crown jewel of U.S. Army European Command training areas, offers about 165 square kilometers, along with an additional 216 square kilometers at nearby Grafenwoehr. It is designed to serve as a central training area for all allied military forces on the continent. Yet it does not offer a high degree of freedom of maneuver, nor does it have the capacity to meet the continent’s needs. About 60,000 soldiers from 51 countries within USAREUR’s area of focus train at the center each year, a small fraction of the millions of active-duty soldiers eligible for training in Europe. 

These restrictions affect readiness. In 2002, the Government Accountability Office reported that U.S. combat units in Europe and the Pacific were more likely not to meet training requirements for maneuver operations, live ordinance practice, and night and low-altitude flying. 

By contrast, exercise grounds in Romania and Poland offer far more space with far fewer restrictions. The Babadag training area near Constanta, Romania, offers 270 square kilometers. Conventional forces in Europe, along with some U.S.-based units, have been training there for several years. Under the oversight of the Joint Task Force East, the U.S. built a combined base in the area, as well as one in Bulgaria, to house rotating units. The area offers one of the largest maneuver training areas in Europe and serves as an important sea and air logistical hub for operations in the Middle East. 

Similarly, the Drawsko Pomorskie training area, 100 kilometers east of Szcezin, Poland, has 350 square kilometers and has been in use by NATO troops for some years. 

The New Age of Exploration

Rain Forest for Sale
Demand for oil is squeezing the life out of one of the world’s wildest places.
By Scott Wallace 
Photograph by Steve Winter 

The leaves are still dripping from an overnight downpour when Andrés Link slings on his day pack and heads out into the damp morning chill. It’s just after daybreak, and already the forest is alive with hoots and chatter—the deep-throated roar of a howler monkey, the hollow rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker, the squeal of squirrel monkeys chasing each other from branch to branch. A strange, ululating chant starts up in the distance, fades out, then builds again. 

“Listen!” says Link, grabbing my arm and cocking an ear. “Titi monkeys. Can you hear? There are two of them, singing a duet.” He imitates the high-pitched, rhythmic cry of one of the monkeys, then the other. Only then can I distinguish the two separate strains that make up the counterpoint chorus. 

This raucous celebration is the daily background music for Link as he heads out on his morning commute through what may be the most biodiverse spot on Earth. Link, a primatologist from Universidad de los Andes, is researching the white-bellied spider monkey, and he’s on his way to a salt lick a half hour’s walk away, where a group often congregates. 

Giant kapok and ficus trees with sprawling buttress roots soar like Roman columns straight into the canopy, their bifurcating branches draped with orchids and bromeliads that sustain entire communities of insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Strangler figs coil around their trunks in a tightening embrace. There is so much life here that tiny killifish are wriggling in a shallow puddle created by animal tracks. 

Aviation Modernization

It may seem like ancient history to some, but the 2004 cancellation of the Army’s Comanche 
program was accompanied by a steadfast service commitment to reinvest savings to begin purchasing new airframes, fix equipment shortfalls, enhance survivability and begin modernization activities across the Army’s manned aircraft fleet.

That modernization commitment has continued to this day, with 2012 witnessing several milestones across an array of manned aviation platforms. Representative examples of these achievements can be found in the Apache, Chinook and Kiowa Warrior programs.

China ratchets up aggression

By Nayan Chanda | Dec 22, 2012

Unlike in democracies, where politicians vying for office first introduce themselves to their constituents, China's leaders take a rather different approach. Only after the Chinese Communist Party has chosen its top leader in secret does he begin the process of "introducing" himself to the people. The newly enthroned general secretary Xi Jinping has been busy firing corrupt officials, visiting factories and military leaders, boarding a battleship to dine with sailors. And in the process he has been defining his mission, which he calls "the great revival of the Chinese nation". To the world outside the goal of national revival looks more like an irredentist mission that challenges the resolve of its neighbours. 

In a way, Xi is following the time-tested path of achieving economic success at home and seeking legitimacy by riding on nationalism - but with ever greater vigour. Close on the heels of his rise to the top, an exhibition pointedly named "The Road toward Renewal" has opened in Beijing. It is a goal, Xi said, that would be achieved on the strength of "a prosperous country and a strong military". Xi, the son of a Chinese military veteran and now the chairman of China's Central Military Commission, has amply signalled the important role he reserves for the PLA. One of his first acts as the civilian boss of the military was to promote commander in chief of the PLA, Wei Fenghe, to full general. He visited with commanders of the Guangzhou military regiment that oversees the South China Sea and inspected a destroyer patrolling the contested waters. Xi has asked the PLA to use "battle-ready standards in undertaking combat preparations", and prepare to win "regional wars". 

China's creeping assertiveness towards its neighbours, evident since 2008-09, has become even bolder. Within weeks of his ascendancy, for the first time, four Chinese warships entered waters near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands that China calls Diaoyu. This was followed by a Chinese maritime surveillance aircraft flying over the contested islands, prompting Japan to scramble its own fighter jets. A confrontation was avoided as the Chinese plane had left the area before Japanese interceptors arrived. But the message was clear: China was ready to use force to change the status quo. Although the island has been under Japanese control for five decades, China's attempt to change the reality on the ground is perhaps based on calculation that a weakened and dispirited Japan would seek to avoid direct confrontation. China's aggressive moves also coincided with its submission of documents to the UN, detailing its claims to the continental shelf in the East China Sea. 

In Pakistan, Mixed Results From a Peshawar Attack

December 21, 2012 

By Ben West

The Pakistani Taliban continue to undermine Pakistan's government and military establishment, and in doing so, they continue to raise questions over the security of the country's nuclear arsenal. On Dec. 15, 10 militants armed with suicide vests and grenades attacked Peshawar Air Force Base, the site of a third major operation by the Pakistani Taliban since May 2011. Tactically, the attack was relatively unsuccessful -- all the militants were killed, and the perimeter of the air base was not breached -- but the Pakistani Taliban nonetheless achieved their objective. 

The attack began the night of Dec. 15 with a volley of three to five mortar shells. As the shells were fired, militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device near the perimeter wall of the air base. Reports indicate that all five militants inside the vehicle were killed. The other five militants engaged security forces in a nearby residential area and eventually were driven back before they could enter the air base. The next day, security forces acting on a report of suspicious activity confronted the militants, who all died in the resultant shootout. 

Pakistani security forces came away from the incident looking very good. They prevented a large and seemingly coordinated team of militants from entering the confines of the base and thus from damaging civilian and military aircraft. Some of Pakistan's newly acquired Chinese-Pakistani made JF-17s, are stationed at the air base, and worth roughly $20 million each, they were probably the militants ultimate targets. 

Another reason the militants may have chosen the base is its location. Peshawar Air Force Base is the closest base to the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan, where Pakistani and U.S. forces are clashing with Taliban militants who threaten Islamabad and Kabul. The air base is most likely a hub for Pakistan's air operations against those militants. The Dec. 15 attack killed one police officer and a few other civilians, but it did no damage to the air base, the adjacent civilian airport or their respective aircraft. Flights were postponed for only a couple of hours as security forces cleared the area. 

When Ravi Shankar was Comrade

Published: December 22, 2012
Robuda Sankar Ray 
AP Followers of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar carry his portrait for a prayer meeting to pay tribute to the muscian at his music center, in New Delhi. 

One of the maestro’s greatest contributions, the music for Saare Jahan se Achchha, brought him to the Indian People’s Theatre Association 

When Pandit Ravi Shankar and his disciple, Beatles guitarist George Harrison, performed at the 1971 ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ at Madison Square Garden in New York, I asked the Communist theorist of culture, the late Chinmohan Sehanabis why Ravi Shankar was the only maestro of Hindustani or Carnatic music to make this unique humanitarian effort in aid of Bangladesh’s war and famine victims 

Chinuda smilingly replied: “After all, he was with the Indian People’s Theatre Association [IPTA] in the formative years. Perhaps he still has some remnants of his sincere commitment.”