1 February 2013

There is no end game in Afghanistan

By Maj Gen Vinod Saighal
01 Feb , 2013 

The subject has become centre stage primarily because the USA has made clear its intention to pull out from Afghanistan. The countries that would view it as a positive development would be Pakistan and China along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE that were major backers of the Taliban prior to 2001. However, the latter countries might no longer be as sure as to how they should view the development. Naturally, the countries supplying forces for deployment as part of ISAF would be relieved as well. It is not yet clear whether the US would exit fully as it did in Iraq or whether a residual force would remain; nobody in the country, however, is going to claim success for Mission Afghanistan. 

There would be policy makers in Washington who would be unhappy at the turn of events that have obliged them to pull back and leave Afghanistan to its own fate in the sense that for them the fight is over without achieving their objectives. 
The Americans are pulling out of their own volition due to the unpopularity of prolonged deployment, high casualty rate as well as their economic difficulties. They have not been defeated as such. They have decided to cut their losses. Speculation is rife within Afghanistan and in the countries in the region most concerned as to what the post-pullout situation will be after the departure of foreign forces that were deployed primarily for stabilizing Afghanistan and preventing it from again falling into the hands of the Taliban. Before entering into a more detailed consideration on the future of Afghanistan it is necessary to have a look at the unfolding scenario within the country as also the likely fallout on the countries most affected. How these countries deal with the fallout also needs to be assessed. 

Pakistan Inducts China into Balochistan to Counter India

Paper No. 5381
By B. Raman 

1.Despite its continuing concerns over the freedom struggle of the Balochs which shows no signs of letting up, China, which originally constructed the languishing commercial port of Gwadar on the Mekran Coast of Balochistan, is reported to have agreed in principle to take over the responsibility for the operation of the port. 

2. The 40-year-old contract awarded by the Pakistan Government in 2007 to Singapore’s PSA international for the operation of the port has been a non-starter due to disputes between the Pakistan Navy and the PSA International over the free transfer of land to the PSA international for the construction of warehouses for containers and other infrastructure facilities and over the failure of the Pakistani authorities to improve the road and rail connectivity of the port as promised in the contract. 

3. The Pakistan Government agreed to the request of the PSA International to withdraw from the contract. Islamabad has now approved in principle the signing of a contract with the Chinese Overseas Port Holdings giving it the responsibility for operating the port. 

4. The problems created by the Pakistan Navy in the transfer of land for the PSA International indicated a lack of enthusiasm in the Pakistan Navy for the operation of the port by a Singapore company and its preference for handing it over to the Chinese company. 

5. In the eyes of the Pakistan Navy, the Chinese taking over the responsibility for the operation of the port will have two advantages. Firstly, the Chinese, with their reputation for the timely construction of projects, will be able to get the languishing operations revived quickly. Secondly, it could prove to be the first step towards China agreeing to a Pakistani request for upgrading the port into a naval base, available for joint use by the Pakistani and Chinese navies. 

6. Taking over the responsibility for the operation of the port, will have strategic advantages for China. It can bring oil and gas from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Gwadar and have them transported to Xinjiang through pipelines. Secondly, it will provide a port of call for ships of China’s Indian Ocean fleet for refitting and other purposes. At present Beijing has not shown any open interest in helping Pakistan by upgrading the existing Chinese-aided commercial port into a Naval base for joint use by the two navies. 

China’s Competitiveness: Huawei

By Nathaniel Ahrens
Jan 31, 2013 

CSIS and Japan’s 21st Century Public Policy Institute have looked at five Chinese firms (Huawei, Lenovo, Suntech, Shanghai Auto, and China South Locomotive), examining the factors that led to their rise, their current state of competitiveness, and the policy implications. In addition to the case studies, a report was also done on the Chinese industrial policymaking process. The policymaking report serves as a primer on the policymaking process and provides an in depth look at actual cases, including the strategic emerging industries policy development. This project was made possible by generous support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. 

Huawei, with offices in 140 countries, is the second-largest telecommunications equipment company in the world by revenue, and is poised to become the largest. Founded in 1988 as a distributor for phone switches, Huawei is now a comprehensive telecommunications company with network equipment, mobile broadband devices, handsets, and convergence devices. In addition to developing products, the company has moved into offering customer solutions. Its founder and current president is Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) technical officer who was able to parlay the skills he acquired in the military into laying the groundwork for this successful telecommunications company. Huawei is a private enterprise, ostensibly owned by employees, with Ren directly owning a 1.42 percent stake in the company. 

China’s Competitiveness: Lenovo

By Nathaniel Ahrens
Jan 31, 2013 

CSIS and Japan’s 21st Century Public Policy Institute have looked at five Chinese firms (Huawei, Lenovo, Suntech, Shanghai Auto, and China South Locomotive), examining the factors that led to their rise, their current state of competitiveness, and the policy implications. In addition to the case studies, a report was also done on the Chinese industrial policymaking process. The policymaking report serves as a primer on the policymaking process and provides an in depth look at actual cases, including the strategic emerging industries policy development. This project was made possible by generous support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. 

Lenovo Group Ltd. is a $21 billion personal technology company serving customers in more than 160 countries. It is the largest personal computer (PC) vendor in China and the second largest in the world, having recently surpassed Dell. Some recent data has Lenovo already taking the top spot from HP, which it will likely do in definitive manner by the release of its next annual report. Formed by Lenovo Group’s acquisition of the former IBM personal computing division, the company develops, manufactures, and markets technology products and services. Lenovo’s business as a producer of PCs, mobile Internet devices, and mobile phones is built on product innovation, a high degree of localization and customization in each country, a highly efficient global supply chain largely based in China, and strong strategic execution. Its product lines include Think-branded commercial PCs and Idea-branded consumer PCs, as well as servers, workstations, and a family of mobile Internet devices, including tablets and smart phones. Lenovo has research centers in Yamato, Japan; Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xiamen, and Chengdu, China; and Raleigh, North Carolina. Its strong showing internationally has been made possible by its dominant market position in China. It also benefited tremendously from its legendary and charismatic founder, Liu Chuanzhi, known as the “Godfather” of China’s information technology (IT) industry. 

China’s Competitiveness: Analysis and Policy Implications

By Nathaniel Ahrens, Kiyoaki Aburaki 
Jan 31, 2013 

CSIS and Japan’s 21st Century Public Policy Institute have looked at five Chinese firms (Huawei, Lenovo, Suntech, Shanghai Auto, and China South Locomotive), examining the factors that led to their rise, their current state of competitiveness, and the policy implications. In addition to the case studies, a report was also done on the Chinese industrial policymaking process. The policymaking report serves as a primer on the policymaking process and provides an in depth look at actual cases, including the strategic emerging industries policy development. This project was made possible by generous support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. 

This paper, by Kiyoaki Aburaki of Japan’s 21st Century Public Policy Institute, presents reactions to the case studies, as well as presents policy implications and recommendations for the United States, Japan, and China. 

Thoughts from the Chairman: Xi's Plea for 2013 "Cross the River by Feeling the Stones"

By Christopher K. Johnson, Bonnie S. Glaser
Jan 31, 2013 

2013 has already thrown the newly installed Chinese leadership team a few unexpected curveballs, and it’s only January. First there was the controversy over a local Chinese propaganda official’s heavy-handed censoring of the New Year’s message of a popular reformist newspaper in China’s southern Guangdong province. Then, just as the censorship row was abating, the onset of “smogageddon” in Beijing rekindled the public’s ire. Both episodes have put the new leadership’s self-styled commitment to “serving the people” by avoiding “formalism” and “empty talk” to an early test. 

New party chief Xi Jinping and his Politburo colleagues should be credited for crafting fairly astute responses. Media accounts in circulation, which seem plausible, suggest the newspaper spat was defused through a combination of helpful signaling from Xi—criticizing the party’s media watchdog at a key leadership gathering for possibly inflaming the situation with its knee-jerk response blaming “hostile foreign forces” for the furor—and deft on-the-ground management of the situation by rising star and newly minted Guangdong Provincial Party secretary Hu Chunhua. On the “airpocalypse” in the capital, even tightly controlled state print and broadcast media outlets were allowed to run pieces venting about the pollution problem, and Premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang addressed the issue directly, if somewhat uninspiringly, in public remarks—the first time a leader at that level has done so. 

And yet, fueled by the power of social media, the speed with which this month’s controversies gathered steam among Chinese intellectuals and other elites, and also with the broader Chinese public, was striking. After all, it is not as if state-controlled media like the Guangdong paper in question, Southern Weekend, are somehow unaccustomed to CCP propaganda barons’ meddling. Dangerously high levels of pollution in Beijing also are nothing new. So why the eruptions of discontent this time? One likely explanation is the widening gap between social expectations after a decade of perceived leadership inactivity on the country’s many pressing social problems and what the political structure as currently configured can actually deliver. Xi and his colleagues seem acutely aware of this problem and have tried to address it through walking a fine line between strongly signaling their commitment to a process of defining an economic reform program, while studiously avoiding, at least for now, attaching themselves to any specific reform proposals. 

The Reign of Rahul

Sumit Ganguly
January 30, 2013 

Why Making Gandhi Heir Apparent Is a Big Mistake 

There is little doubt Rahul Gandhi will succeed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Only, as he seems destined to inherit a political mess, is two years enough to prepare him for the challenge of a lifetime? 

The Hindu-nationalist leader Narendra Modi's recent election sparked a good deal of controversy. It also sparked an open and substantive debate about economics, liberalism, and social welfare in Gujarat and across all of India -- a rarity in developing democracies and a positive thing as India gears up for nationwide elections in 2014. 

Supporters of the Congress Party hold posters of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party chief Sonia Gandhi, and party vice president Rahul Gandhi. (Mansi Thapliyal / Courtesy Reuters) 

In late January, Rahul Gandhi, the grandson of famed former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was named vice president of India's Congress Party. No such position had previously existed. The role's creation -- and Gandhi's elevation to it -- was an effort to solidify his status as the party's second-in-command and heir apparent of Sonia Gandhi, the current party leader and his mother. It was also an effort to shore up the Congress Party's standing as national elections approach. In a maturing Indian democracy, though, such tricks may no longer work. 

State of the Republic

By Inder Malhotra
01 Feb 2013

Not a pretty picture this

PRESIDENT Pranab Mukherjee’s broadcast on the eve of Republic Day came as a breath of fresh air in the stifling aftermath of the monumental public rage, especially among the young and educated urban middle class, over the horrific gang rape in Delhi. His call to “reset our moral compass” was timely and much needed, as was his emphasis on “women’s rights as a civilisational principle”. And he bluntly told the “elected representatives” to “win back the confidence of the people”, adding that “the anxiety and the restlessness of the youth should be canalised towards change with speed, dignity and order”. Whether the utterly self-seeking and insensitive political class would heed the President’s sage advice is a moot question.

Another encouraging and welcome development — the submission of the report of the committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma, on hardening the laws and administrative procedures to curb sexual offences against women — followed quick on the heels of the President’s uplifting address. Remarkably, the comprehensive and thorough report was ready in a record time of 29 days, a day ahead of the deadline. I know of no other commission or committee in this country that has completed its work within the given timeframe. In former Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee’s words, the Verma committee — that included Justice Leila Seth, formerly Chief Justice of the Shimla High Court, and Gopal Subramaniam, a former Solicitor-General — deserves a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

Also it is no exaggeration to say that most of the committee’s recommendations are sound and have met with the public’s approval. There seem to be only two exceptions: the committee’s recommendation against lowering the age at which juveniles must to treated as adults, and its suggestion for the withdrawal of the immunity given to the military personnel under the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) in relation to crimes against women. The Manmohan Singh government and Opposition parties must do their duty to get the necessary legislation enacted speedily in the Budget session itself. After all, at its Jaipur conclave the Congress party was greatly worried about the alienation from it of the country’s educated youth. For their part, opposition parties had clamoured for the most stringent punishment to rapists. Yet there is uncertainty on this score.

Lesson on diplomacy, from an Iranian

February 1, 2013

Chinmaya R. Gharekhan 

A recent Track II discussion on New Delhi-Tehran ties was an eye-opener on the need for a foreign policy that is not based on the appeasment of any country 

Track II meetings can be useful when participants express their views candidly, without worrying about offending the sensitivities of others. When the event is held in India, visiting think tankers take pain not to upset their hosts. Since most foreigners have rightly concluded that Indians are not only flattery prone but credulous as well, they are usually complimentary about India’s role in various situations such as in Afghanistan, Syria, Middle East, etc. 

It is therefore refreshing when a visiting participant in a Track II meeting gives free rein to his views about India’s foreign policy as was the case when an Iranian expert, familiar with the official thinking of his government, spoke his mind at an event in Delhi some time ago. Other Iranian participants at the same meeting spoke in a similar vein. 

‘Inclined towards U.S.’ 

India, he said, was anxious not to make the United States unhappy. “Your ‘qibla’,” he said, “is Washington.” India was much inclined towards the U.S. and should reconsider striking a balance in its foreign policy; India had some shortcomings and should reconsider its relations with Iran; India was not being pragmatic but opportunistic. Traditionally, India enjoyed huge social capital in Iran; it was hugely popular with the Iranian people. All that had been destroyed for generations in one stroke because of India’s anti-Iran vote in the International Atomic Energy Agency. India could not vote against Iran and claim, at the same time, that Iran was important for India; it just did not make sense. A little later in the interactive session, he reiterated his view that India could not vote against Iran and, at the same time, say it wanted to work with Iran. “I repeat this because it was a very harmful act and it is very hard for any friend of India in Iran to accept this.” 

In Afghanistan, the U.S. Is in the Most Difficult of Maneuvers

By Nate Rawlings/Forward Operating Base Altimur, Logar Province
Jan. 28, 2013

 Yuri Kozyrev / NOOR for Time

Paratroopers from Bull Battery, 4-319 Airborne Field Artillery Battalion, carry machine guns from their combat vehicles after completing a patrol in Logar province, Afghanistan 

This is the second in a series of dispatches on Afghanistan in retrograde, stories documenting the logistical withdrawal of U.S. forces and matériel from the war-torn country. Retrograde is a military term for the dismantling of installations. 

Throughout history, one of the most difficult maneuvers to pull off in combat has been the fighting withdrawal. It’s an aspect of war that plagued battlefield commanders from Napoleon to Lee to Bradley. Getting into a fight is easy; getting out usually presents a challenge and particular dangers. 

Every infantryman and combat soldier knows the concept of breaking contact. It is a battle drill practiced over and over: one part of the unit fights on while the other part pulls back, and in a carefully coordinated (though often chaotic) leapfrog, the soldiers extract themselves from harm’s way. 

That’s how it has worked historically, at least, when armies met in uniforms on actual fields. After nearly every such battle, one could usually declare a winner and a loser. But today’s asymmetrical wars are messy, and for some time now, the U.S. mission in Afghanistan has shifted from a counterinsurgency fight to a partnership, preparing Afghan forces for when American troops go home. But as U.S. units break contact, a large component of leaving the battlefield is bringing back the myriad pieces of equipment the Pentagon has pushed out to small outposts over the past few years. 

China approaching the turning point

Growth and China
Jan 31st 2013
by A.C.S.

CHEAP Chinese labour makes the world go around. It supplies developed markets with cheap goods which, to some extent, make up for stagnating wages. It also keeps the Chinese economic model humming by providing the foundation for growth. But how long can it last? IMF economists Mitali Das and Papa N’Diaye, in a new working paper, reckon only about another decade.

When an economy first becomes industrialised it grows very fast by importing foreign technology and employing capital and plentiful, cheap, unskilled labour from the farm. But after a while the extra agricultural labour is put to work and wages start to rise. This makes firms less profitable and they have to come up with their own technology to keep growing. This shift is known as the Lewis Turning Point, named after Nobel-Prize winner Sir Arthur Lewis. According to the IMF economists China is not there, yet. But the glut of labour peaked in 2010 and, as the population ages, it’s all down-hill from here. They estimated that if things stay as they are, China will reach the Lewis Turning Point between 2020 and 2025.

Of course things might change. If China relaxed its one child policy and everyone there suddenly had lots of babies (they assume a very high fertility rate) the Lewis Turning point might be delayed by a few years (though not much because it takes time for babies to grow into workers and have more babies). Alternatively if there’s financial sector reform, interest rates will rise. In that case Chinese worker/savers will feel richer and may not want to work as much; this would speed up the turning point.

China’s New Militancy

By Gordon G. Chang
January 31, 2013 

Chinese leaders' repeated calls for the PLA to be ready to plan, fight, and win wars is an ominous sign. 

“We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully—not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear,” President Obama said in his second inaugural address

How exactly does the international community “engage” hostile states? Take China, for instance. 

Xi Jinping, named Communist Party general secretary in November, reflects a new militancy. On Tuesday, he delivered a hard-edged speech to the Politburo in which he effectively ruled out compromise on territorial and security issues. His tough words were in keeping with the ever-more strident tones of his messages to the People’s Liberation Army about being ready to plan, fight, and win wars. Chinese leaders have traditionally addressed the army and urged improvement in general readiness, but, as veteran China watcher Willy Lam notes, Xi has put a special emphasis on it. Moreover, his calls on preparing for conflict go well beyond those of his two predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. 

In the past, the military’s war talk contrasted with soothing words from senior civilian leaders. Now, with Xi, the aggressive comments from flag officers are consistent with what he, as top leader, is saying. Worse, as the Financial Times notes, Xi’s words of war are now “being bundled” with his rhetoric, which seems calculated to “fan nationalism.” 

In this environment, Chinese military officers can get away with advocating “short, sharp wars” and talking about the need to “strike first.” Their boldness suggests, as some privately say, that General Secretary Xi is associating with generals and admirals who think war with the U.S. might be a good idea. 

A Maritime Balkans of the 21st Century?

JANUARY 30, 2013 

East Asia is a tinderbox on water. 

These are no ordinary times in East Asia. With tensions rising from conflicting territorial claims in the East China and South China seas, the region increasingly resembles a 21st-century maritime redux of the Balkans a century ago -- a tinderbox on water. Nationalist sentiment is surging across the region, reducing the domestic political space for less confrontational approaches. Relations between China and Japan have now fallen to their lowest ebb since diplomatic normalization in 1972, significantly reducing bilateral trade and investment volumes and causing regional governments to monitor developments with growing alarm. Relations between China and Vietnam, and between China and the Philippines, have also deteriorated significantly, while key regional institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have become increasingly polarized. In security terms, the region is more brittle than at any time since the fall of Saigon in 1975. 

In Beijing, current problems with Tokyo, Hanoi, and Manila are top of mind. They dominate both the official media and the social media, and the latter have become particularly vitriolic. They also dominate discussions between Chinese officials and foreign visitors. The relationship with Japan in particular is front and center in virtually every official conversation as Chinese interlocutors probe what they identify as a profound change in both the tenor of Japanese domestic politics and the centrality of China within the Japanese debate. Beijing does not desire armed conflict with Japan over territorial disputes, but nonetheless makes clear that it has its own red lines that cannot be crossed for its own domestic reasons, and that it is prepared for any contingency. 

Burma’s Biggest Win: Its Legislature

February 01, 2013 
By Thomas Kean 

Burma’s legislature has been a boon for the country. But building a parliamentary house takes time 
The changes in Burma over the past two years have been startling. But what is arguably the most important development has gotten the least international attention: The country now has a vibrant, independent legislature. 

In Burma today, members of parliament are investigating land disputes and corruption, cutting ministry budgets, seeking justice for extrajudicial killings by the military and, most importantly, delivering tangible benefits to their constituents. Indeed, many parliamentarians find themselves in a state of disbelief at what they have been able to achieve since the first parliament session convened in January 2011. 

With so much changing so quickly, MPs’ desire to implement a system of political checks and balances has regularly brought them into conflict with government ministers who are more used to autocracy than legislative oversight. 

Expectations were low following a deeply flawed election in November 2010, in which the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won about three-quarters of the seats in the fledgling parliament, largely due to a boycott by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). The ethnic and opposition parties that contested the vote won around 20 percent of the seats up for grabs. 

Top 5 Naval Battles of the Asia-Pacific

By James R. Holmes 
January 31, 2013 

Ranking apples against oranges is always a slippery process. How does one maritime battle rise above others in importance? One benchmark is whether an encounter saw one fleet crush another. We could put Lord Nelson’s face on such a list. The Battle of Trafalgar (1805) delivered astounding tactical results. Yet the Napoleonic Wars raged on for another decade after Trafalgar, until Europeans finally banded together to put a stop to the little emperor’s marauding. It was indecisive. So why not rank battles by the magnitude of the issues they decided? Which sea fights yielded the most fateful results, reshaping the Asian order? 

Herewith, my list of the Top 5 Naval Battles of the Asia-Pacific: 

5. Battle of Yamen (1279). Sometimes dubbed “China’s Trafalgar,” this clash between the Mongol Yuan Dynasty and the beleaguered Southern Song determined who would rule China. It was far more decisive than Nelson’s masterwork. Over 1,000 men-of-war crewed by tens of thousands of men took part in the engagement. Yuan commanders deployed deception and audacious tactics to overcome at least a 10:1 mismatch in numbers. Most important, Yamen claimed the life of the Song emperor, clearing the way for Kublai Khan’s dynasty to rule for nearly a century. 

Lessons From Mali

By Robert Farley 
January 31, 2013 

The French-led intervention in Mali appears to be accomplishing some of its short-term objectives. However, just as with Libya, the inability of France to conduct a medium-sized operation in a nearby country without U.S. assistance is raising eyebrows . France is experiencing shortfalls in several areas, but most notably in air logistics, including in-flight refueling and air transport. The Obama administration has thus far lent measured assistance, recently backing away from a requirement that the French pay the Pentagon for services rendered. As Michael O’Hanlon has argued, the key to U.S. military supremacy lies in its system of global logistics, rather than in its most sophisticated weaponry . 

To be sure, France’s problems may be temporary. The long awaited arrival of the A400M should resolve many of these logistical difficulties, and the aerial refueling situation may also improve. Nevertheless, the French experience has some important lessons for Asia-Pacific players. Military capabilities mean little without the ability to transport forces across distance, and a major logistical commitment requires sealift, airlift, and aerial refueling. 

The development of the Y-20, assuming it goes into full production, demonstrates that the PLA is beginning to take airlift seriously. The Y-20 is expected to replace older Russian aircraft, and give the PLAAF a capability similar to that of the C-17 Globemaster. Indeed, the Y-20 may someday capture some of the emerging ASEAN market for large, advanced transport aircraft. 

The Consequences of Intervening in Syria

January 31, 2013 |
By Scott Stewart

The French military's current campaign to dislodge jihadist militants from northern Mali and the recent high-profile attack against a natural gas facility in Algeria are both directly linked to the foreign intervention in Libya that overthrew the Gadhafi regime. There is also a strong connection between these events and foreign powers' decision not to intervene in Mali when the military conducted a coup in March 2012. The coup occurred as thousands of heavily armed Tuareg tribesmen were returning home to northern Mali after serving in Moammar Gadhafi's military, and the confluence of these events resulted in an implosion of the Malian military and a power vacuum in the north. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadists were able to take advantage of this situation to seize power in the northern part of the African nation. 

As all these events transpire in northern Africa, another type of foreign intervention is occurring in Syria. Instead of direct foreign military intervention, like that taken against the Gadhafi regime in Libya in 2011, or the lack of intervention seen in Mali in March 2012, the West -- and its Middle Eastern partners -- have pursued a middle-ground approach in Syria. That is, these powers are providing logistical aid to the various Syrian rebel factions but are not intervening directly. 

Just as there were repercussions for the decisions to conduct a direct intervention in Libya and not to intervene in Mali, there will be repercussions for the partial intervention approach in Syria. Those consequences are becoming more apparent as the crisis drags on. 
Intervention in Syria

For more than a year now, countries such as the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and European states have been providing aid to the Syrian rebels. Much of this aid has been in the form of humanitarian assistance, providing things such as shelter, food and medical care for refugees. Other aid has helped provide the rebels with non-lethal military supplies such as radios and ballistic vests. But a review of the weapons spotted on the battlefield reveals that the rebels are also receiving an increasing number of lethal supplies. 

Is Cyberwar a Security Threat to Your IT Infrastructure?

By Jeff Clark 
January 31, 2013

As talk of imminent cyberwar crescendos, data center operators and company executives may wonder whether they are at risk for being targets. A proper attitude toward the threat, however, involves a balance between reasonable security measures and “que sera, sera.” 
Cyberwar Is On

Depending on whom you ask, you may hear that cyberwar is imminent or that it is already ongoing. Perhaps the most amusing statements come from military leaders in the U.S. who complain about the nation’s lack of readiness or its need to prepare for aggressive assaults. The reality, however, is that the U.S. government is possibly the biggest instigator of cyber warfare on the planet. According to The New York Times, cyber attacks on Iran have been taking place since the Bush administration, sometimes in conjunction with Israel. These attacks—not surprisingly—include Stuxnet. Regardless of whether the government has taken official credit for this malware (or Flame, another probably spawn of the U.S.), it ispursuing criminal action against the source of the leaked information. In other words, the federal government is indeed responsible. Although Iran has apparently responded, largely with rather ineffective attacks against financial institutions, the threat in this case is almost laughable: the entire gross domestic product (GDP) of Iran fails to reach even half of the U.S. military budget alone—to say nothing of the rest of government operations. 

In other words, cyberwar is taking place now. Larger countries, like China and Russia, are no doubt taking pot shots at the U.S. and others, just as the U.S. is doing to other nations. The main declared threat is not so much DDoS attacks against banks or even theft of password databases, but attacks on infrastructure, such as the power grid. But the U.S. government has all but invited such responses by inflicting similar attacks on others—most notably through the Stuxnet malware, which targeted Iran’s nuclear capabilities. (An attack of similar scope on the U.S. could conceivably cause a nuclear disaster a la Fukushima or Chernobyl, likely meeting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s standard for an act of war.) 

Wanted: Geeks to help fight Pentagon’s cyberwar

By: Kate Brannen
January 31, 2013 04:36 AM EST

The Pentagon is looking for more geeks to wage cyberwar. Problem is, they don’t exist — at least not enough of them.

While the Pentagon plans to add 4,000 troops and civilians to the U.S. Cyber Command, cybersecurity experts say the total need is much greater. Many people consider themselves cybersecurity professionals, but as for the truly advanced operators — sometimes called “hunters” and “tool builders” — there’s a real shortage, said Alan Paller, founder of the SANS Institute, a cybersecurity training school in Bethesda, Md. 

These are the people who can identify cyberattacks and then quickly build the tools needed to rewrite a network’s defenses, sometimes several times a day, said Paller, who last summer co-chaired the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Task Force on CyberSkills. 

There aren’t that many of them in the country and everyone wants to hire them, he said. “Every other critical part of the economy also needs the same people: the banks, the power and telecom companies, defense contractors, civilian and state government, hospitals — the hunger is real.” 

The bar is even higher for the Defense Department and other agencies doing clandestine work, since they need U.S. citizens who can get security clearances, which shrinks the pool even more, said Ernest McDuffie, head of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. 

Paller estimates the Pentagon has about 2,000 of these people in place but that it needs a total of about 10,000.

In other areas — whether it’s managers, policy analysts, auditors, counterintelligence or compliance specialists — DOD may be overstaffed by as many as 20,000 people, Paller said. But only about 15 percent of this group has the foundational skills to make the shift to become a hunter or tool builder, he said. 

Talking Past Each Other?

January 31, 2013

Talking Past Each Other? How V... Cover ImageHow Views of U.S. Power Vary between U.S. and International Military Personnel 

Type: Letort Papers 
74 Pages 
Download Format: PDF 

The 21st century U.S. military seldom operates alone. Except for initial entry and organizational training, it works almost always with and through foreign partners. Yet over the past decade, anecdotal evidence suggests that U.S. military organizations and personnel have trouble understanding, influencing, and cooperating with international partners. This evidence includes high-profile incidents from Iraq and Afghanistan: civilian deaths, Koran burnings, blue-on-blue or green-on-blue lethal attacks. It also includes more numerous, lower profile bits of friction that follow U.S. service members around the globe in the form of protests, lawsuits, criminal cases, and difficult military-to-military relations from Iraq and Afghanistan to Turkey and Pakistan. In some instances, the U.S. military may be entirely without fault, suffering friction driven by problematic local attitudes or political dynamics. On the other hand, it is possible that certain characteristics of thought or behavior within the U.S. military culture increase the likelihood of severe friction. Against this backdrop, the gap between the U.S. military’s self-image and its image in the eyes of an international military audience is examined. When considering U.S. power, do response patterns indicate great difference between how U.S. military officers view themselves, and how they are viewed by their international peers? If so, is there anything that the United States can do about it, or does a fundamental and pathological anti-Americanism predetermine outcomes? Based on a survey administered at the National Defense University, this study offers observations and recommendations about the increasingly central question of how U.S. forces can form better and stronger ties with partners.