4 May 2014

Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency Accused of Killing Journalists

April 30, 2014

Jon Boone

The Guardian, April 29, 2014

Pakistani journalists protesting the recent attack on Geo television journalist Hamid Mir in Islamabad. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Amnesty International says it has “credible concerns” that Pakistan's powerful military spy agency kidnaps, threatens and even kills journalists who cross it.

The allegations come amid an unprecedented public standoff between the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the country’s biggest media group over an attempt by unknown gunmen to kill Hamid Mir, a popular journalist on the Geo television network.

In a detailed report, the human rights group says journalists face extraordinary challenges in Pakistan, including deadly threats from banned militant groups and the armed wings of political parties. But Amnesty says it found that “no state actor is more feared by journalists than the ISI”.

Dozens of journalists complained to the rights group of “harassment, intimidation or attacks” they claimed they had experienced at the hands of the spy agency.

Many gave information about harassment on the understanding it would be made public only if they were killed or kidnapped, such is the prevailing fear of reprisals from an agency believed to be among the most powerful organisations in the land.

Amnesty says journalists are particularly at risk when exposing security lapses by the military, or the army’s alleged links to banned military groups such as theTaliban. Also highly sensitive are stories about abuses committed by security forces fighting separatist rebels in the province of Balochistan.

Posters Urge Pakistanis to Support Their Spy Agency

April 30, 2014

Why ISI spy posters are all over Islamabad

M. Ilyas Khan

BBC News, April 29, 2014
It looks like an election poster - but the man in the frame is ISI chief Zaheerul Islam

The banners and posters that went up on the central avenues of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, over the weekend have the aura of a political campaign.

But there are no elections in sight, the banners do not praise any political party, and the face painted on most of them is not that of a politician but of the once secretive ISI intelligence chief, Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam.

"We love [the] Pakistan army and the ISI, and condemn attempts to malign them," reads the message on the banners.

Bizarre as it may sound, the campaign is apparently a public response to recent accusations by Pakistan’s largest media conglomerate, the Jang group, that one of the top presenters of its Geo television channel might have been attacked by the ISI.

Hamid Mir survived a gun attack in Karachi on 19 April and is recovering in hospital.

Soon after the attack, his brother, Amir Mir, who is also a journalist, said in a statement that the TV anchor had earlier expressed fears the ISI might try to kill him.

Geo ran this statement for several hours against the backdrop of Gen Islam’s picture - a move that many interpreted as an indictment of the general before an investigation could prove him or the ISI guilty.The posters line central streets in the capital
Army chief Raheel Sharif (right) also figures prominently in the banners and placards

It was also unprecedented. While the role of the ISI has figured in public discourse in recent years, it has never been directly accused of any wrongdoing.

New Report: State Department Country Reports on Terrorism

April 30, 2014

Department of State

Country Reports on Terrorism 2013
On April 30, 2014, the State Department submitted Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 to the U.S. Congress as required by law. This report, available onwww.state.gov/j/ct, provides the Department of State’s annual assessment of trends and events in international terrorism that occurred from January 1 toDecember 31, 2013. It includes a strategic assessment, country-by-country breakdowns of counterterrorism efforts, and sections on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.

The following were among the most noteworthy counterterrorism developments in 2013:

The terrorist threat continued to evolve rapidly in 2013, with an increasing number of groups around the world – including both al-Qa’ida (AQ) affiliates and other terrorist organizations – posing a threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests.

As a result of ongoing worldwide efforts against the organization and leadership losses, AQ’s core leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers. Subsequently, 2013 saw the rise of increasingly aggressive and autonomous AQ affiliates and like-minded groups in the Middle East and Africa who took advantage of the weak governance and instability in the region to broaden and deepen their operations.
The AQ core’s vastly reduced influence became far more evident in 2013. AQ leader Zawahiri was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria, with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant publicly dissociating their group from al-Qa’ida. AQ affiliates routinely disobeyed Zawahiri’s 2013 tactical guidance to avoid collateral damage, seen in increasingly violent attacks against civilian religious pilgrims in Iraq, hospital staff and convalescing patients in Yemen, and families at a shopping mall in Kenya, for example.

Terrorist groups engaged in a range of criminal activity to raise needed funds, with kidnapping for ransom remaining the most frequent and profitable source of illicit financing. Private donations from the Gulf also remained a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly for those operating in Syria.
In 2013, violent extremists increased their use of new media platforms and social media, with mixed results. Social media platforms allowed violent extremist groups to circulate messages more quickly, but confusion and contradictions among the various voices within the movement are growing more common.

Syria continued to be a major battleground for terrorism on both sides of the conflict and remains a key area of longer-term concern. Thousands of foreign fighters traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Asad regime – with some joining violent extremist groups – while Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militias provided a broad range of critical support to the regime. The Syrian conflict also empowered the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to expand its cross-border operations in Syria, resulting in a dramatic increase in attacks against Iraqi civilians and government targets in 2013.

New Report: Pentagon’s Semi-Annual Report on “Progress in Afghanistan”

April 30, 2014

DOD Releases Report on Progress in Afghanistan, DOD Press Release 219-14

April 30, 2014

The Department of Defense provided to Congress today the April 2014 “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” a report to Congress in accordance with Section 1230 and 1231 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181), as amended; to include section 1221 of the NDAA for FY 2012 (Public Law 112-81); and sections 1212, 1223, and 1531(d) of the NDAA for FY 2013 (Public Law 112-239).

During the reporting period, Afghan security forces sustained the gains they made in the 2013 fighting season and successfully secured the presidential and provincial council elections on April 5, 2014. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and Afghan election institutions laid the groundwork for a successful election, registering millions of voters and securing thousands of polling sites, with minimal international assistance.

"The performance of Afghan security forces on election day stands as testament to their growing ability to provide stability and protect their fellow citizens, they’ve come a long way," said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Although the ANSF continues to make progress, four key high-end capability gaps will remain after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission ends on Dec. 31, 2014: air support; intelligence enterprise; special operations; and Afghan security ministry capacity. International funding and coalition force assistance will be critical to sustaining the force going forward.

While the Taliban retained influence in parts of the country and maintained their ability to carry out attacks, the nature of these attacks - which frequently target civilians indiscriminately - highlight the differences between the current situation and that which allowed the Taliban to come to power originally. “Even as the Taliban retain the ability to carry out attacks, they do so at the expense of any claim to significant popular support,” said Kirby.

The report is posted athttp://www.defense.gov/pubs/April_1230_Report_Final.pdf.

Afghan Opium Production Booming as U.S. Forces Prepare to Depart

Associated Press

May 1, 2014

MARJAH, Afghanistan — Pink-and-white poppy blooms stretch toward the horizon in this field in southern Afghanistan as laborers slice open the green bulbs swollen with raw opium, the main ingredient in heroin.

The opium from Marjah, a district in southern Helmand province, likely will make its way to drug addicts in the region and the world. Helmand’s harvest this year is expected to be one of the largest ever, mirroring trends in the rest of Afghanistan.

This year’s bumper crop, after the U.S. has spent $7.5 billion trying to eradicate opium in Afghanistan, represents one of the most tangible and visible failures as the American-led military force prepares to withdraw by the end of this year. And with Afghanistan’s emerging anti-narcotics forces vastly outnumbered both by Taliban brokers and corrupt officials involved in the trade, the opium trade likely will only grow.

"Poppy is like a virus that is already embedded in a sick body," said Ashita Mittal, acting country director for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Kabul. "It is going to impact the whole economy of this country. We do believe that in the absence of the growth of the licit economy, the illicit economy will take over."

Last year, 209,000 hectares (806 square miles) of poppy were planted across Afghanistan, up 36 percent over the year before and producing an estimated 5,500 metric tons (6,062 tons) of opium, according to the U.N. drug agency. By comparison, only a little over 7,000 hectares (27 square miles) of poppy field were eradicated.

The 2014 harvest is expected to match or even exceed last year’s record. In coming years, opium will grab an even larger share of Afghanistan’s already troubled economy, as money from U.S. military contracts and aid work dries up. The U.N. estimates that some 200,000 families in Afghanistan are involved in opium production already and that the country has some 1 million addicts.

Contractors Continue Flying CEASAR SIGINT Aircraft in Afghanistan

May 1, 2014

DoD extends CEASAR special mission aircraft in Afghanistan

Gareth Jennings

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, April 30, 2014

A US Army-operated C-12 CEASAR aircraft. Three such platforms will continue to operate over Afghanistan through to at least April 2015. Source: US Army

The US Army has awarded Dynamic Aviation Group Inc a USD22.4 million contract in support of the Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance And Reconnaissance (CEASAR) programme, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced in late April.

The contract covers the continued operations, sustainment, and integration of three Beechcraft King Air A200CT communications electronic attack (EA), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, currently deployed in support of Operation ‘Enduring Freedom’ in Afghanistan.

The CEASAR system mounted in these contractor-owned and government-operated (COGO) aircraft is based on the Raytheon AN/ALQ-227 EA system as fitted to the US Navy’s (USN’s) Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare (EW) aircraft. It is designed to provide both a communications jamming and an intercept/monitoring capability, and is capable of accommodating new signals intelligence receivers to meet emerging requirements. It is suitable for both manned and unmanned aerial vehicle applications. While the CEASAR aircraft were known to have an EA capability, they were not previously known to be fielded for ISR duties.

According to the DoD, the contract is set to run through to 30 April 2015. Although international combat operations in Afghanistan are set to conclude at the end of 2014, the DoD has identified four key high-end capability gaps for the country’s national security forces that will need to be bridged after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission ends on 30 December. These are air support; intelligence enterprise; special operations; and Afghan security ministry capacity. “International funding and coalition force assistance will be critical to sustaining the [Afghan security] force going forward,” the DoD said in a statement released on 30 April. The CEASAR programme would appear to be one of those capabilities that will continue.

Based out of Virginia, Dynamic Aviation Group Inc is a provider of a range of ISR solutions for the DoD. The company’s fleet comprises King Airs and Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft. Although the CEASAR aircraft are owned by Dynamic Avlease Inc (a member of Dynamic Aviation Group Inc), as COGO assets they are operated by the US Army under the general C-12 Huron designation.

How the U.S. Created the Afghan War -- and Then Lost It

The Unreported Story of How the Haqqani Network Became America's Greatest Enemy
By Anand Gopal


It was a typical Kabul morning. Malik Ashgar Square was already bumper-to-bumper with Corolla taxis, green police jeeps, honking minivans, and angry motorcyclists. There were boys selling phone cards and men waving wads of cash for exchange, all weaving their way around the vehicles amid exhaust fumes. At the gate of the Lycée Esteqial, one of the country’s most prestigious schools, students were kicking around a soccer ball. At the Ministry of Education, a weathered old Soviet-style building opposite the school, a line of employees spilled out onto the street. I was crossing the square, heading for the ministry, when I saw the suicide attacker.

He had Scandinavian features. Dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt, and carrying a large backpack, he began firing indiscriminately at the ministry. From my vantage point, about 50 meters away, I couldn’t quite see his expression, but he did not seem hurried or panicked. I took cover behind a parked taxi. It wasn’t long before the traffic police had fled and the square had emptied of vehicles.

Twenty-eight people, mostly civilians, died in attacks at the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice, and elsewhere across the city that day in 2009. Afterward, U.S. authorities implicated the Haqqani Network, a shadowy outfit operating from Pakistan that had pioneered the use of multiple suicide bombers in headline-grabbing urban assaults. Unlike other Taliban groups, the Haqqanis’ approach to mayhem was worldly and sophisticated: they recruited Arabs, Pakistanis, even Europeans, and they were influenced by the latest in radical Islamist thought. Their leader, the septuagenarian warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, was something like Osama bin Laden and Al Capone rolled into one, as fiercely ideological as he was ruthlessly pragmatic.

And so many years later, his followers are still fighting. Even with the U.S. withdrawing the bulk of its troops this year, up to 10,000 Special Operations forces, CIA paramilitaries, and their proxies will likely stay behind to battle the Haqqanis, the Taliban, and similar outfits in a war that seemingly has no end. With such entrenched enemies, the conflict today has an air of inevitability -- but it could all have gone so differently.

Though it’s now difficult to imagine, by mid-2002 there was no insurgency in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda had fled the country and the Taliban had ceased to exist as a military movement. Jalaluddin Haqqani and other top Taliban figures were reaching out to the other side in an attempt to cut a deal and lay down their arms. Tens of thousands of U.S. forces, however, had arrived on Afghan soil, post-9/11, with one objective: to wage a war on terror.

A Bigger, but Less Unified, al Qaeda

Iraqi security forces arrest suspected militants of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Hawija on April 24.
photo by Reuters/Yahya Ahmad

Al Qaeda's universe may be rent by centrifugal forces resulting from its own recent expansion, but that expansion itself reflects a remarkable achievement. 

Although thousands of volunteers had passed through its training camps in Afghanistan before 9/11, by the end of 2001, al Qaeda consisted of a few hundred fighters on the run. The camps' scattered alumni carried on a global terrorist campaign with attacks in North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe. 

These attacks prompted governments to rip up local jihadist networks. But the resilient terrorist enterprise was quick to exploit new opportunities created by the turmoil that accompanied the Arab uprisings, especially the civil war in Syria. The jihadist universe today — including its affiliates and allies across the Sahel and in the Levant, as well as the now renegade Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which al Qaeda expelled — consists of many thousands of armed men assembled from all over the world. The proliferation of al Qaeda's black flags is a dramatic resurgence, but this also unleashed unruly internal forces that could splinter the jihadist movement. 

Osama bin Laden remained suspicious of anything outside his immediate control. After prolonged negotiations with groups aspiring to the al Qaeda franchise, some lasting years, mergers happened because he was unable to stop them. Other aspirants were successfully resisted. Following bin Laden's death, Zawahiri, his longtime lieutenant, managed to stay in charge of the disparate al Qaeda enterprise, but he did not inherit bin Laden's moral authority and was viewed less as al Qaeda's commander than as its ideological commissar. Under Zawahiri's weakened command, the process of mergers and the creation of new affiliates accelerated. 

New Chinese AGI Intelligence Collection Ship Launched

May 1, 2014

In March 2014 China launched its third Dongdiao class AGI (Auxiliary General Intelligence, or electronic reconnaissance) ship. These 4,800 ton vessels are 119 meters (390 feet) long and with a crew of about a hundred sailors and technicians. The ships sports several domes protecting antennae and the ship is crammed with computers and signals processing gear. The Dongdiao class are replacing at some of older AGI type ships that entered service in the 1970s, even those these older ships have had their electronics and other information gathering gear upgraded.

China has about a dozen AGIs of varying sizes and ages. The Dongdiaos are the largest and most modern. AGI ships are mainly about electronic reconnaissance and collection. Just keeping track of the enemy’s electronic devices has become a major operation, especially since no one knows exactly how everyone’s electronic equipment will interact until there is a sustained period of use. Such use does not occur in peacetime, when the EW equipment is used infrequently for training and testing. All electronic equipment has a unique electronic signature. Even equipment that is not broadcasting will appear a certain way to various sensors like radar or sonar. Thus a critical peacetime function is to determine what these signatures are. For this reason navies and air forces devote a significant amount of their time tracking other nation’s capabilities.

As a counter to ESM (Electronic Support Measures), equipment is disguised where possible. Signals can be varied in some circumstances. For equipment that is detected by shape and composition, like aircraft and ships, their shape and substance can be designed to minimize detection. This is the essence of the stealth technology that the United States is applying to a number of vehicles, especially aircraft. Small ships, aircraft, helicopters and vehicles loaded with sensors do most of the collecting. Low flying satellites are useful for catching signals deep inside a nation’s territory. Drones and RPV aircraft are used also, plus robotic sensors that are left on the ground or sea bottom. Collection involves more than sensors. Recording devices, foreign language interpreters and signal processing equipment also come into play.

Computers are increasingly crucial in sifting through the ocean of data swept up. Huge libraries of signals are collected, analyzed and boiled down to manageable amounts of data friendly troops and weapons can use. ESM has been so successful that one entire class of sensors, active sensors, has become endangered. Active sensors detect things by broadcasting a signal. When this signal bounces off something, the sensor detects the bounce back and knows something is out there. This is the basis of radar, which broadcasts microwaves, and sonar, which broadcasts sound. Because of the signal being broadcast, a passive sensor can detect it.

China: Ready To Fight Anyone, Anywhere, At Any Time And Win

April 30, 2014

China has been energetically using nationalism and the promise of the restoration of lost imperial territories to distract the population from the corruption and mismanagement of government officials. This is an ancient political technique that depends on near-total control of information available to their populations. The Internet threatens that and this is a new risk for those planning to build and maintain an empire. That’s because empires are costly and inefficient. Britain realized that by the 1940s and this was the main reason they got rid of theirs so quickly after 1945 and why the United States never took advantage of its power to create one. But the allure of empire remains, sort of as the ultimate luxury a state can indulge. Again, the Internet spreads the bad news about the real cause and effect of empire. China tries to cope with this by concentrating on imperial ambitions (natural resource rights from the ownership of uninhabited rocks and reefs in the South China Sea and elsewhere off the coast) that have some practical appeal. However when empires involve conquered peoples the cost goes way up, as the Chinese are rediscovering in their northwest (Turks) and southwest (Tibetans). A growing number of Chinese are aware of these angles and are not happy about it. But China is still police states with state-controlled media. Holding anti-government opinions is dangerous, especially if you express these traitorous thoughts in public. That means even unauthorized protests against pollution can get prosecuted and convicted in China. 

In furtherance of the imperial dreams China announced in late 2012 that beginning in 2013 it would start enforcing new rules that allowed Chinese naval patrols to escort or expel foreign ships from most of the South China Sea unless those ships have Chinese permission to be there. China did not start doing this right away. But over the last few months the Chinese have become more aggressive about enforcing this decree, without resorting to deadly forces. China is not using grey painted navy ships for this but rather white painted coast guard vessels. White paint and diagonal stripes on the hull is an internationally recognized way to identify coast guard ships. This is much less threatening than warships. China also calls in civilian vessels (owners of these privately owned Chinese ships understand that refusing to help is not an option) to get in the way of foreign ships the coast guard wants gone. Thus if foreign warships open fire to try and scare away these harassing vessels they become the bad guys. 

The U.S. has been recently been more active in describing how far it would go in resisting Chinese attempts to take control of the South China Sea. The U.S. recently pointed out that the sanctions being used against Russia could also be used against China. A trade war with the United States is the last thing the Chinese government wants right now, because they are having lots of problems with their economy. But the Chinese have used the South China Sea claims as part of a propaganda campaign to distract Chinese from the looming economic crises at home and backing off is not really a good option either. 

Meanwhile China has some serious domestic threats. Chinese efforts to fight growing air pollution by replacing coal fueled power plants with nuclear ones is running into problems with inadequate infrastructure, poorly designed reactors and public resistance. There are no good choices here. Pollution is becoming a big issue with most Chinese and last November the government ordered an inspection of 25,000 industrial operations and nine percent were found to be violating anti-pollution laws. The way things work in China, most Chinese believe the actual percentage of violators is two or three times higher. 

Saudis Display Their Ballistic Missiles for the First Time

May 1, 2014

Saudi Arabia displays ballistic missiles for the first time

Jeremy Binnie

IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, April 29, 2014

Saudi Arabia’s DF-3 ballistic missiles were displayed for the first time in the parade marking the end of Exercise ‘Saif Abdullah’. Source: Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Arabia publicly displayed its Dong Feng-3 (DF-3) ballistic missiles for the first time in a 29 April parade marking the end of what was billed as its largest ever military exercise.

The parading of the missiles will be seen as the latest Saudi step to publicise its ballistic missile capability, which has included media coverage of the opening of the Strategic Missile Force’s new headquarters in Riyadh in 2010.

The DF-3 (US designation: CSS-2) is a single-stage, liquid-fuel ballistic missile that was developed by China in the 1960s. It is estimated to have a range of 2,500 km with a 2,000 kg warhead, but suffers from poor accuracy.

It was confirmed in March 1988 that China had transferred an unspecified number of DF-3 missiles with conventional warheads to Saudi Arabia. The estimates of the number of missiles delivered to the kingdom range between 30 and 120.

Saudi television footage of the parade at Hafr al-Batin Airbase in the northeast of the kingdom showed two missiles with DF-3 written on them in Latin script. The missiles were mounted on the same towed erector launchers that have been seen in photographs of Chinese DF-3s. These launchers can only travel on paved surfaces, but provide an adequate level of mobility for firing from the prepared launch pads at Saudi ballistic missile bases.

Speculation that Saudi Arabia is in the process of replacing its DF-3s was fuelled by the circulation of a photograph of Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Saud visiting the Strategic Missile Force headquarters in Riyadh during his brief tenure as deputy defence minister in 2013. The photograph shows senior officers presenting him with a display case containing models of three missiles, including one that looks like a DF-3. There has been speculation that one of the other two missiles in the case is a Chinese DF-25 (CCS-5) with a pointier nose for a conventional warhead.

Bases for America’s Asia-Pacific Rebalance

Part one of a two-part series evaluating the evolving network of US bases in the Asia-Pacific. 
By Carnes Lord and Andrew S. Erickson
May 02, 2014

The first part of a two-part series that evaluates the United States’ evolving network of bases in the Asia-Pacific and the opportunities and challenges each brings to the table moving forward.

The Asia-Pacific region, central to global economic and geopolitical development in the twenty-first century, is the logical focus of the Obama Administration’s ongoing rebalancing of capabilities, relations, and presence thereto. This effort is inspired by profound challenges and opportunities emerging in the region. Aspects of China’s rapid, broad-based development fall into both categories, with challenges including increasingly potent anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems that threaten the viability of potential opponents’ forces with long-range precision strike capabilities. Central to American presence and influence in the vital Asia-Pacific, but facing increasing vulnerabilities, is a complex network of bases and access points that has been too long neglected by both scholars and the American public. This two-part series addresses these timely and important issues, surveys present U.S. basing infrastructure, and examines key challenges and trends that Washington confronts as attempts to preserve its capabilities and influence in the Asia-Pacific.

In an address to the Australian Parliament on November 17, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that the United States, as part of a general upgrade of its security cooperation with Australia, would deploy up to 2,500 U.S. Marines at Darwin in northern Australia. Although the United States has long enjoyed a close military (and intelligence) relationship with Australia, not since World War II has any significant American military force been stationed permanently on the continent. This move, the president explained, reflected “a deliberate and strategic decision—as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.” Together with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s late 2011 visit to Myanmar (Burma), the first by an American secretary of State in more than half a century, this is the most striking manifestation of a new determination on the part of the Obama administration to reassert the United States’ traditional interests in the Asia-Pacific region, to reassure its friends and allies there of the long-term nature of its commitment to them, and to send an unmistakable signal to the People’s Republic of China that the United States is and intends to remain a “Pacific power” fully prepared to meet the challenge of China’s rise and its regional ambitions.

Leadership: Island War In The Pacific

May 2, 2014: Japan is expanding its military presence on and around Okinawa by building a radar station on Yonaguni Island. This is westernmost inhabited Japanese island, although it only officially became part of Japan in 1879 (along with Okinawa). Yonaguni island has a population of 1,500 and is a favorite tourist attraction for Japanese. The island is 2,000 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, 505 kilometers west of Okinawa, 300 kilometers southeast of China, 110 kilometers east of Taiwan (which China claims) and 144 kilometers southwest of the disputed (with China) Senkaku Islands. This new radar station produced a very loud protest from China who are not happy with Japanese hostility to Chinese threats over the Senkakus. 

The Japanese are becoming more alarmed at increasing Chinese military activity in waters and air space around Japan. It’s not just disputed areas, especially the Senkaku Islands, but around Okinawa and increasingly east of Japan, in the Pacific. Operating out there is what the Chinese would have to do for a blockade of Japan. As a result of all this Chinese naval and air activity there is growing support for expanding the Japanese military, especially obtaining long range UAVs for maritime patrol and ballistic missiles for hitting Chinese bases in the event of hostilities. This doesn’t bother China as much as constant Japanese chatter about developing nuclear weapons. But the Chinese believe that decades of anti-nuke militancy would prevent Japan from actually going down this road. If Japan did build nukes, it would make Japan once more dangerous to China and that could cause a really dangerous situation. 

Back in 2012 China became particularly angry after the Japanese government purchased the Senkaku islands from the Japanese family that had owned them since the 19th century. China and Japan were also increasingly sending small warships to patrol contested parts of the disputed Diaoyu (in Chinese) Islands (Senkaku in Japanese and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan). The islands are actually islets, which are 167 kilometers northeast of Taiwan and 426 kilometers southeast of Japan's Okinawa and have a total area of 6.3 square kilometers. Taiwan also claims the islands, which were discovered by Chinese fishermen in the 16th century, and taken over by Japan in 1879. They are valuable now because of the 380 kilometer economic zone nations can claim in their coastal waters. This includes fishing and possible underwater oil and gas fields. For China, the islands are a valuable source of fish, which Chinese fishing boats taking over 150,000 tons a year from the vicinity of the Senkakus. China fears that Japan might try to prohibit Chinese fishing in the area. A conservative Japanese political group built the lighthouse in 1986, to further claims of Japanese ownership. Currently, the Japanese have the most powerful naval forces in the region, and are backed up by a mutual defense treaty with the United States. China was long dissuaded by that, but no more. China is no longer backing off on its claims, and neither is Japan. So these confrontations are becoming more serious. Taiwan is not considered a serious contender in this dispute, but is showing up anyway. 

What Hawks and Doves Both Miss on the Military Rebalance to Asia

April 25, 2014 

A Philippine Navy patrol boat drives past the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier George Washington (L) docked after its arrival at a Manila bay October 24, 2012. (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters) 

President Obama’s long awaited trip to Asia has highlighted the ongoing debate about the military part of the “rebalance.” Criticism comes from all sides. Those who claim the Obama administration has not matched its verbal commitment to the region with real action or military investment are countered by others who worry that the policy is overly militaristic and provocative. Depending on the perspective, China is either going unchecked or being provoked, both of which would lead to instability if not corrected.

But this China-centric debate misses the bigger point about the role America plays in the region and the way that role is changing. The network of alliances and partnerships the U.S. has developed with over a dozen countries throughout the region represents the foundation of America’s Asia-Pacific policy – and is our most important asset. It is sustained multilateral engagement focused on promoting cooperative approaches to stability and security among these allies and partners, not swelling U.S. force deployments aimed at preparing for war against China, that will be the real benchmark of success for the rebalance.

Contrary to common misperception the rebalance was never designed as a zero-sum “pivot” from Europe or the Middle East to Asia. Rather it was meant to rebalance attention and resources back to Asia after a decade of large-scale counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. For instance, throughout the last decade, Marines normally postured in Okinawa, Japan were nearly perpetually deployed from the region to support operations in the Middle East. Air assets in the region and army units based in Korea were periodically pulled from their forward stationed bases to support the two wars.

Statement of Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on U.S. Pacific Command Posture

Solid-though-predictable content overall, but a few of the most interesting nuggets excerpted below. Great use of the term “Indo-Asia-Pacific”! This goes well with Admiral Locklear’s description of PACOM’s Area of Responsibility as ranging “from Hollywood to Bollywood.” It’s not as if we need too many more acronyms in the government-security studies lexicon, but I think “IAP” should make the cut.

25 March 2014.

p. 3: “We’ve seen encouraging examples of states using international fora to resolve disputes peacefully, such as the Philippines using the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to argue its case against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and Thailand’s and Cambodia’s pledge to abide by the International Court of Justice’s recent decision in their long-standing border dispute.”

p. 4: “North Korea remains our most dangerous and enduring challenge.”

p. 5: “Though we have not yet seen their ‘KN08’ ICBM tested, its presumed range and mobility gives North Korea a theoretical ability to deliver a missile technology that is capable of posing a direct threat to anywhere in the United States with little to no warning.”

p. 6: “The Indo-Asia-Pacific region is the world’s most disaster-prone with eighty percent of all natural disaster occurrences. It contends with more super-typhoons, cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes, and floods than any other region.”

“The primacy of economic growth, free trade, and global financial interdependency keeps outright inter-nation conflict at bay. The most likely scenario for conflict in this part of the world is a tactical miscalculation that escalates into a larger conflict. There is no more likely stage for this scenario than the complex web of competing territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. Competing territorial claims in East is a significant and growing threat to regional peace and stability. The use of Coast Guards and an implicit rule set imposed by Japanese and Chinese leadership signaled that neither country wants escalation.”

p. 7: “As Chinese and Japanese reconnaissance and fighter aircraft increasingly interact, and China flies unmanned aerial vehicles over the area the chances for miscalculation or misunderstanding remain high. USPACOM continues to watch this situation very closely.”

Japan to Conduct Island Defense Exercise on Uninhabited Island

Japan will conduct its first major island defense exercise, using a real uninhabited island. 
May 02, 2014

Despite heightened tensions with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, Japan will press ahead with a scheduled military exercise that will simulate the defense of an island from amphibious invaders. The Japanese Defense Ministry reaffirmed Tokyo’s intention to carry on with the exercise. The exercise demonstrates Japanese seriousness about preparing for a potential skirmish or broader conflict against China over the disputed islands.

According to Reuters, the exercises will run from May 10 to 27 on a “small uninhabited island in the Ryukyu chain, some 600 km (375 miles) northeast of the disputed isles.” Furthermore, some parts of the exercise will be held in Nagasaki prefecture, in southwestern Kyushu, and others will take place in waters off the coast of Okinawa’s eastern coast. Okinawa is also where the United States maintains a massive troop presence and military base.

While Japan has conducted similar exercises in the past, according to Reuters, this will be the first time that the Japanese military will use an actual uninhabited island as part of the island defense training exercise. The exercise will incorporate the Ground, Air, and Maritime Self-Defense Forces. ” About 1,300 troops, as well as several fighter jets and destroyers, will practice landing on and retaking the island,” according to Reuters.

A defense ministry spokesman declined to link the exercise to China, noting that “Boosting island defense is something that has been mentioned in the defense white paper in recent years.”

The exercise comes shortly after Japan raised China’s ire by stationing a radar system and 100 troops on its westernmost island, not too far from China’s coast. The radar installation on Yonaguni is Japan’s first western military expansion in over 40 years.

The Japanese announcement comes shortly after China announced plans to conduct naval exercises with Russia in the East China Sea, off the coast of Shanghai. Additionally, on Friday, three Chinese coastguard ships sailed into disputed waters in the East China Sea. According to the Japanese coastguard, the ships came within 12 nautical miles on the territorial waters surrounding the disputed islands. The incursion breaks with a recent Chinese trend to focus less on physically contesting the disputed islands and focusing instead on a war of words.

Boko Haram Slaving Is An Atrocity Too Far

May 1, 2014: The nation is in an uproar over an April 14 th incident in the northeast (the Sambisa forest where the borders of Borno, Yobe and Adamwa states meet) where Boko Haram raided a boarding school for teenage girls and kidnapped over 200 students and some of the young women on the faculty. Fears that the captives, aged 16-18, would be used for sex and slave labor (around the camps) were apparently realized. While being transported to the terrorist camps more than 40 of the girls escaped but over 200 remained missing and the army was criticized for the inept way they handed the search. Specific criticisms involved not interviewing all the escaped girls and not sending troops to guard the school as that was where some of the escaped girls were returning. 

The public is appalled that such a large Boko Haram force, travelling in over a dozen vehicles, could attack the school and then raid several more villages while driving back to their forest hideouts and not be detected or intercepted by the security forces. As a practical matter the military is in a tough position. If they establish a lot of checkpoints in the northeast, in areas where Boko Haram is believed to have camps in the mountainous forests, Boko Haram can mass enough gunmen to attack these checkpoints with a fair chance of success. That means highly visible “defeats” for the army and a blow to morale because of the dead and wounded soldiers. The army doesn’t like to discuss this very real conundrum they are in and are hoping that one of their field commanders will come up with new tactics that will speed up the detection and destruction of the Boko Haram camps and the Islamic terrorists who depend on them. Without these bases the Boko Haram cannot organize large raiding parties nor have a safe place to store their loot and slaves. Without their camps, many of them just across the border in Cameroon, Boko Haram is forced to operate in smaller, less effective, groups that are easier to deal with and destroy. 

Political and army leaders fear that the uproar over the kidnapped girls will persist and force the security forces to take desperate measures (and suffer lots of casualties) in order to “do something.” Meanwhile the outrage is hurting Boko Haram as well, with fewer new recruits seeking to join. The Boko Haram response has been to make deals with local criminal gangs wherein the gangs participate in some of the Boko Haram raids for a share of the loot. The gangs, who are usually based on tribal affiliation in a town or group of villages, are often smugglers and thus tolerated by the locals. Boko Haram does business with smugglers which is how they are able to connect with the gangs. These gangs won’t raid in the areas where they are from (and would be recognized and that would trigger reprisals) but most neighboring villages and towns are a different matter, especially if they are populated by people from another tribe. The gangsters are recognized (by mannerisms and accent) by survivors of the raids and this leads to more self-defense militias and calls to be allowed to possess legal firearms (there’s the lot of illegal stuff along the border). The security forces don’t want more legal firearms in the hands of people along the border, but may have to give a bit on that point if they want more effective cooperation from the locals. 

Crimea: A Silver Lining for the United States’ Asian Allies?

By Rory Medcalf
April 22, 2014

What does the 2014 Ukraine crisis mean for geopolitics and strategic risks in Asia? It is tempting to leap to doom-laden conclusions that Russia’s assault on Ukrainian sovereignty will spur China to show equal disregard for the independence of its neighbors, ushering in new risks of confrontation and conflict. According to this argument, China is emboldened and frontline U.S. allies like Japan and the Philippines are dismayed by Russia's blatant disregard for U.S. warnings against intervention in Ukraine. Even allies at distance from China, such as Australia, might quietly be wondering about long-term U.S. resolve, according to this logic. But all this overlooks the fundamental point that Ukraine—like Georgia before it in 2008—is not a U.S. ally. If anything, the value of alliances has been reaffirmed by recent events in Europe. 

That would change, of course, were the United States to fail to support a NATO ally, such as a Baltic state, against Russian intimidation, but there is nothing to suggest that will occur; indeed, Putin has given NATO an enormous and self-defeating relevance boost. Moreover, after having its bluff called over real or perceived diplomatic red lines in Syria and Ukraine, Washington may be even more determined to hold the line if an ally or a core principle such as freedom of navigation is coercively confronted in Asia. 

The ultimate lessons Asia and the rest of the world draw from the Ukraine situation will depend very much on what happens next. With President Obama due to visit Asia in April and ominous rumblings occurring again on the Korean Peninsula, now is the time for the United States to signal that its “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific is real and enduring—regardless of how bad the situation with Russia becomes. 

Russia’s Military Buildup for Possible War With Ukraine

May 3, 2014
Russia’s buildup on the Ukraine border
Gene Thorp

Washington Post, May 2, 2014

Russia has been conducting military exercises with some 45,000 combat troops on the eastern border of Ukraine since March 13, destabilizing the eastern part of the country and stoking fears in Kiev of an imminent invasion. The map below is based on a paper released by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in April that details which Russian units have been mobilized and where they are operating. Further analysis by The Washington Post shows where these Russian units have come from and what portion of their regionally available combat forces have shifted to the Ukrainian border. Related story.

SOURCE: RUSI, Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Ukraine White Book, International Institute for Strategic Studies, Global Security, National Defence University.

In Britain, Secularism Is Only Skin Deep

30 April 2014 

Prime Minister David Cameron regards Britain as a Christian country, but the retired archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, doesn’t. The former senior Anglican cleric described Britain as a post-Christian society, which he defines as no longer a nation of churchgoers, but a society still shaped by Christian ethics, culture, and laws.

The argument is a curious one in the only European country besides the Vatican in which there is no separation of church and state. And no, that’s not just because the queen is both head of state and head of the “official” Anglican Church, and can still use the old title inaugurated by Henry VIII, “defender of the faith.” It’s more because 26 Anglican bishops sit in the House of Lords by virtue of their office and, in the words of the Church of England’s website, “play a full and active role in the life and work of the Upper House” of Parliament.

In other words, the senior members of the church are active, voting members of the legislative body of the United Kingdom. They are referred to as the “lords spiritual” (the other two groups in the British upper house are the “lords temporal” and the “law lords,” members of the judiciary), and they include, ex officio, the archbishops of Canterbury and York, the bishops of London, Durham, and Winchester, and 21 other bishops from among the 42 Anglican dioceses, chosen by seniority in office.

Untouched by recent reforms of the House of Lords that have whittled down the hereditary peers to around 90 in a chamber of 760 members (the others are appointed by the government), the sitting bishops are not affiliated to a political party, but they vote on issues, so they are part of the political process, along with the “cross-benchers” or other lords who support no party.

True, in a chamber dominated by members of the three major political parties in the United Kingdom, their impact is limited. But they are among the most frequent speakers in the chamber’s deliberations, and they sit on parliamentary committees. Justin Welby, the present archbishop of Canterbury and a former senior financial executive before his late ordination, is a member of a panel looking into the behavior of British banks.

Cyberwarfare Goes Wireless

Cyberwarfare Goes Wireless

Soldiers from the Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit conduct a computer network defense exercise

photo by Virginia Guard Public Affairs/Flickr.com

Recent reports indicate that Russian forces used hacking to intercept a U.S. surveillance drone flying over the Crimea region of Ukraine in March. Allegedly, hackers were able to sever the connection between the drone and its operator using “complex radio-electronic technology.”

Additional coverage indicates a wide range of cyberactivities under way during the standoff, from primitive vandalism of Russian websites by Ukrainian hackers to more sophisticated operations, such as the possible Russian use of “Snake” malware to stealthily siphon information from various networks.

For American audiences and policymakers alike, reports like these provide chilling reminders that cyberspace is emerging as a 21st-century global battlefield. They also point to a critical need for the U.S. military to redefine “information warfare” for a wireless world to defend against such threats This is one reason for the recent U.S. budget increases for cybercapabilities.

Among the most significant challenges now facing the U.S. military is the increasingly blurred boundary between wired and wireless technologies.

In the military and commercial worlds, “cyberoperations” long referred to attacking and defending networks and connected devices. Nefarious hacking is typically thought of as an intrusion into remote computers through wired channels. But cyberoperators have gone “wireless.” Radio and other frequencies that span the electromagnetic spectrum are the new contested domain. Sometimes this contest involves keeping these wireless channels up and running. At other times, it involves seeking to shut them down through jamming.

The past decade has seen a proliferation of wireless technologies, such as those used to fly U.S. drones and those allegedly used to intercept one of them over Crimea. Stories of insurgents using smartphones to detonate improvised explosive devices have gone from the Hollywood script to the newspaper.

America's military and intelligence communities are grappling with these issues at all levels, but it's particularly important for the Army given the large size and expansive reach of Army networks, which are the largest among all the service and which extend down to the tactical edge. The Army is responding to these developments in numerous ways.

The Army is considering the formation of a new branch or corps of cyberspace operators that spans electronic warfare, cyber and signals, a recommendation made by RAND and others (PDF). Several years ago, the Navy moved to create an information dominance corps, which merges electronic warfare and information technology functions into new career fields. The Army should follow suit.

The Army's newly released field manual (PDF) is a nod to cyber's increasingly tactical nature across this span of functions. The manual creates cells at the tactical level that are filled with personnel trained in electronic warfare, cyber and signals. For example, these groups might be tasked with protecting drones that act as the eyes and ears of combat units, or with defeating enemy drones without hurting friendly systems in the process.

At the same time, the Army is astutely housing its doctrine writers for electronic warfare, signals and cyberoperations under one roof—literally—at Fort Gordon. TheCyber Center of Excellence, as this collective is called, went live on April 1, presenting an opportunity for the Army to retool doctrines to better coincide with evolving 21st-century threats.

This re-examination of established doctrine is critical. Traditionally, electronic warfare and computer network operations have fallen under the Army's broad information operations doctrine, which includes psychological (warfare) operations, military deception and operational security.

However, the rapid growth in the size and importance of cyberoperations has rendered them too immense and fast-paced to fit separately under the traditional definitions of information operations. Consideration should be given to new ways to accommodate emerging ideas in doctrine at the speed at which the field of cyberoperations is expanding, which is no easy task.

In a rapidly changing, increasingly wireless information ecosystem, maintaining security is truly a moving target. The Army's efforts are an example of what can be done and what remains to be done, both organizationally and operationally, across the services.

With cyber now playing a prominent role in international struggles like the impasse in Crimea, there is no shortage of real-world events to help inform its approach.

Isaac Porche is a senior researcher at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.

This commentary appeared on U.S. News & World Report on April 4, 2014

GCHQ Asked NSA for Free Access to NSA’s SIGINT Databases, Report

April 30, 2014

British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data Pools

Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept

April 30, 2014
A secret memo suggests GCHQ’s Sir Iain Lobban (pictured) wanted more access to the NSA’s PRISM data. PA Wire/AP

Britain’s electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency’s massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA’s vast troves of private communications and sought “unsupervised access” to its data as recently as last year – essentially begging to feast at the NSA’s table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb.

The document, dated April 2013, reveals that GCHQ requested broad new authority to tap into data collected under a law that authorizes a variety of controversial NSA surveillance initiatives, including the PRISM program.

PRISM is a system used by the NSA and the FBI to obtain the content of personal emails, chats, photos, videos, and other data processed by nine of the world’s largest internet companies, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Skype. The arrangement GCHQ proposed would also have provided the British agency with greater access to millions of international phone calls and emails that the NSA siphons directly from phone networks and the internet.

The Snowden files do not indicate whether NSA granted GCHQ’s request, but they do show that the NSA was “supportive” of the idea, and that GCHQ was permitted extensive access to PRISM during the London Olympics in 2012. The request for the broad access was communicated at “leadership” level, according to the documents. Neither agency would comment on the proposed arrangement or whether it was approved.

Data Flood Helping the Navy Address the Rising Tide of Sensor Information

PDF file 3.6 MB 

Research Questions 
What changes across four dimensions — people, tools and technology, data and data architectures, and demand and demand management — will best position the Navy to solve its "big data" challenge and exploit big data's opportunities? 


In the U.S. Navy, there is a growing demand for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data, which help Navy commanders obtain situational awareness and help Navy vessels perform a host of mission-critical tasks. The amount of data generated by ISR sensors has, however, become overwhelming, and Navy analysts are struggling to keep pace with this data flood. Their challenges include extremely slow download times, workstations cluttered with applications, and stovepiped databases and networks — challenges that are only going to intensify as the Navy fields new and additional sensors in the coming years. Indeed, if the Navy does not change the way it collects, processes, exploits, and disseminates information, it will reach an ISR "tipping point" — the point at which its analysts are no longer able to complete a minimum number of exploitation tasks within given time constraints — as soon as 2016.

The authors explore options for solving the Navy's "big data" challenge, considering changes across four dimensions: people, tools and technology, data and data architectures, and demand and demand management. They recommend that the Navy pursue a cloud solution — a strategy similar to those adopted by Google, the Intelligence Community, and other large organizations grappling with big data's challenges and opportunities.