21 July 2014

Finalise national security policy urgently

N. N. Vohra
21 Jul 2014

THE most urgent need for the Central Government is to secure appropriate understanding with the states for finalising an appropriate national security policy and putting in place a modern, fully coordinated security-management system which can effectively negate any arising challenge to the territorial security, unity and integrity of India. It would be useful, at the very outset, to state that, in simple language, the term “national security” could be defined to comprise external security, which relates to safeguarding the country against war and external aggression, and internal security which relates to the maintenance of public order and normalcy within the country.

External issues

The first generation of India's security analysts, who focused attention almost entirely on issues relating to external security, had found it convenient to distinguish issues relating to external and internal security. However, such a segregated approach is no longer feasible, particularly after the advent of terrorism which has introduced extremely frightening dimensions to the internal security environment. I would go further to say that issues of internal and external security management have been inextricably intertwined ever since Pakistan launched a proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir in early 1990 and Pak-based jihadi terrorists started establishing networks in our country.

Geopolitical developments

Our national security interests have continued to be influenced and affected by geo-political developments in our region and far beyond. In the context of the experience gained, it is extremely important that, besides all necessary steps being taken for safeguarding India's territorial security and establishing a very strong machinery to counter terrorism, close attention is also paid for effectively securing other important arenas, particularly those relating to food, water, environment and ecology, science and technology, energy, nuclear power, economy, cyber security, et al.

While evolving a holistic approach towards national security management, it would be relevant to keep in mind that our country comprises an immense cultural and geographical diversity and our people, nearly a billion and a quarter today, represent multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural societies whose traditions, customs and socio-religious sensitivities are rooted in thousands of years of recorded history. It is equally important to remember that in our vast and unfettered democracy the unhindered interplay of socio-cultural traditions and religious practices carries the potential of generating discords and disagreements which may lead to serious communal disturbances, particularly when adversary elements from across our borders join the fray.

While it may appear somewhat trite to cite school-level statistics, our security- management apparatus shall need to reckon that we have over 15,000 km of land borders, a coastline of about 7,500 km, over 600 island territories and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of about 25 lakh sq km. These awesome parameters and, besides, the extremely difficult geographical and climatic conditions which obtain in the various regions of our vast country present serious challenges to our security forces who maintain a constant vigil on our land, sea and air frontiers.

While it would not be feasible to recount the varied security challenges which India has faced in the decades gone by, it could be stated that the more serious problems in the recent years have emanated from Pakistan's continuing proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir; jihadi terrorism, which has been progressively spreading its reach; the destructive activities which the Left-wing extremist groups have been carrying out for decades now; the serious unrest created by the still active insurgencies in the North-East region; and incidents of serious communal violence which have been erupting in the various states, from time to time. Mention must also be made of the steadily growing activities of the Indian Mujahideen, a terror group which has its roots in Pakistan. Another phenomenon, relatively more recent, relates to the emergence of certain radical counter-groups which have been organised with the primary objective of countering the jihadi terror networks. It needs being noted that the activities of such counter-groups have the potential of spreading disharmony and divisiveness which could generate widespread communal violence and result in irreparably damaging the secular fabric of our democracy.

The detached Governor

July 21, 2014 

I believe incumbent governors would have done their offices a service if they had all, over May 16 and 17, written to the president offering to demit their office. Source: Reuters


We need to scrap the loyalty test, restore dignity to the office.

Budget signals change for those who voted in Modi: business and overseas investors, entrepreneurs and youth

Strange as it may seem, Gandhi quite regularly called on British governors when he toured the provinces. Change was in the air when he called on Bengal’s last British governor, Sir Frederick Burrows, on October 30, 1946. The Clement Attlee-appointee asked Gandhi, “What would you like me to do?” The question was remarkable. Here was a British governor, on his way out, asking the father of the new nation for instructions. The three-word answer Burrows received was terse. “Nothing, Your Excellency.”

Did Gandhi mean governors should be “doing nothing” and be mere figureheads? Not so. He meant now that India was free, elected chief ministers, not governors were in charge of running the government. The Constituent Assembly, meeting around the time, had discussed the role of governors in free India, amid suggestions for doing away with the office altogether, vesting its powers in the chief minister.

Gandhi wrote in the Harijan of December 21, 1947, on these discussions: “much as I would like to spare every paise [sic] of the public treasury, it would be bad economy to do away with provincial governors and regard chief ministers as a perfect equivalent. Whilst I would resent much power of interference to be given to governors, I do not think that they should be mere figureheads.

They should have enough power enabling them to influence ministerial policy for the better. In their detached position, they would be able to see things in their proper perspective and thus prevent mistakes by their cabinets. Theirs must be an all-pervasive moral influence in their provinces.”

One of the early governors’ conferences, on May 8, 1949, was addressed by Governor General C. Rajagopalachari, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel. Rajaji said to the governors: “You should not imagine that you are just figureheads and can do nothing… Our prime minister and deputy prime minister do not hold that view. They want you to develop your influence for good and they expect you to find means for achieving it without friction and without prejudice to the march of democracy.”

The “key phrases” on governors from Gandhi and Rajaji are: all-pervasive moral influence, detached position, proper perspective, influence for good, without prejudice to the march of democracy.

Move over, big brotherAmitav Acharya

Amitav Acharya
July 21, 2014 

APRISING CLOUT: Instead of expressing cynicism, the West could speed up the reform of the IMF and the World Bank so that they accommodate the growth of the emerging powers. Picture shows the BRICS leaders at the summit in Brasilia, Brazil.

The western media has been dismissive of the BRICS move to set up a bank, but such cynicism misses the larger picture — the end of western hegemony and the rise of the multiplex world 

For the first time since its creation in the aftermath of World War II, the structure of global economic governance established and dominated by the United States has some serious competition. At their summit in Brazil on July 15, 2014, the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) agreed to set up the New Development Bank with a capitalisation of U.S. $100 billion) and a contingency fund to deal with financial crises.

It is too early to say whether these mechanisms will challenge the role of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have been the bedrock of the Bretton Woods system under U.S. hegemony. But they at least serve as a reminder that the era of Western and American dominance of the world is ending, giving way to a more complex and diversified world order: the multiplex world. The move by BRICS, though outwardly economic in nature, has serious geopolitical undertones.

It comes after a speech last May to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point by U.S. President Barack Obama in which he declared: “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.” Such remarks would seem arrogant and dismissive of the ambitions of the emerging powers. The BRICS nations do not accept the view that the world is for America’s alone to lead or manage. The BRICS summit in Brazil also showed that the emerging powers do not buy the Obama administration’s move to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine by isolating it internationally.

Domination from the West

To compound matters, recent developments, including the deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations over Ukraine and U.S.-China relations over East Asian maritime disputes casts a shadow over cooperation among the major powers in advancing global governance. One potential victim could be the G-20. Created in 1999 in response to the Asian financial crisis, G-20 was upgraded to a summit-level conclave of established and emerging nations in 2008, to manage the unfolding global financial crisis. Representing 80 per cent of the world’s population, 90 per cent of the world’s GDP, 90 per cent of the world’s finance, and 80 per cent of the world’s trade, this institution describes itself (at its Pittsburg Summit in September 2009) as the “world’s premier forum for international economic cooperation.” There is little doubt that it is vital to the future of global governance. Javier Solana, the former NATO and EU foreign policy chief, has called the G20, “the only forum in which world powers and emerging countries sit as equals at the same table.”

HELPING HANDS- NGOs using foreign funds must be monitored, not hounded

July 21 , 2014

The media were agog when a “secret” report of the Intelligence Bureau was leaked a few days after the swearing-in of the Narendra Modi-led government. It, particularly, pointed to Greenpeace, to the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant (picture) and coal-based thermal power projects as having been funded by foreign agencies to hold back India’s development. The report, obviously, suits the suspicions about foreign funding in both the Congress, which initiated the report, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which received it.

Within India, there is not much funding for the activities of non-governmental organizations. It has grown since 1991, as companies have wanted information for a competitive economy. There is also the desire of some to “do good”. The activities of NGOs could range from social science and scientific research to conscience-raising movements for women, adivasis and other communities, support for the disabled, for clean environment, protection of wild life, promotion of nutrition programmes, health and immunization programmes, education and so on, and for propagating religion. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act requires all foreign funding to NGOs to be reported to the government, showing details of donors and the purposes for which the funds were used.

Propagating conversion from one religion to another is not encouraged under Indian laws and some states have stringent legislation to discourage it. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to profess, practice and propagate his faith in a way that does not disrupt public order and does not affect public health and morality adversely. Several Indian states have passed freedom of religion bills, primarily to prevent conversion: Arunachal in 1978, Gujarat in 2003, Madhya Pradesh in 2006, Chhattisgarh in 2006, Himachal Pradesh in 2007. This has not stopped religious conversions, especially to Christianity. Various benefits to the poor, such as good education and health services, tempt them to convert, apart from others who might feel an affinity for the religion. Foreign funding for conversion and propagation of religions — mainly Christianity and Islam — are believed to be rampant. The latter is said to be funded by hawala and does not feature in government statistics.

Between 1993 and 2012, the number of registered associations (NGOs) rose from 15,039 to over 41,844, but through all these years only 54 per cent to 64 per cent filed details of foreign remittances received. In 2011-12, 16,756 had not filed returns. Those that did had receipts climbing from Rs 1,865 crore to Rs 11,548 crore. The principal donors in 2011-12 were from the United States of America, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. There are reports that there are at least 40 charitable organizations in Saudi Arabia whose primary job is to raise money for funding terror in India. The government does not appear to use the information it gets (or does not get) effectively. There appears to be little monitoring and inspection of the activities of NGOs.

Foreign funding of NGOs is a complex subject. Many recipients carry out very useful activities that help the country. There are some with ulterior motives. For example, it was said that the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was funded by American sources that wanted to discredit Russian nuclear power technology. In the 1960s, the Congress for Cultural Freedom was reported to be funded by the Central Intelligence Agency. It produced a magazine called Encounter, edited by the famous British poet, Stephen Spender. The Congress for Cultural Freedom arranged many conferences. The magazine was beautifully produced and I remember it as having been very informative and educative.

India Fails to Meet Its 2015 Development Goals

July 19, 2014

India’s disturbing statistics cast a shadow on its growth story. 

According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report for 2014, which was released on July 7, 2014, India has the largest number of poor individuals out of any country in the world. The report defined extreme poverty as living on below $1.25 a day. The world has 1.2 billion people who fit this definition, of which one-third (400 million) live in India. South Asia as a whole has done poorly in accomplishing its 2015 MDG targets in reducing poverty, while East Asia and Southeast Asia have largely met their targets.

India’s failure at tackling poverty is not just limited to the average income of its population but includes numerous failures in tackling basic public health issues such as infant mortality and maternal health. Over a quarter of the world’s maternal deaths occur in India, for example. While this is shocking, it is not surprising for India watchers and experts. As one of them, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, warned in his book on development in India, India’s past governments have largely overlooked the necessity of basic human development.

Poorer countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have done much better than India on these counts because their development strategies have been much more focused on the basics. For example, Bangladesh has essentially stamped out the practice of open defecation while India still has 600 million individuals who defecate in the open. India’s situation can be attributed to the government’s hands-off, indifferent approach. As I noted in previous articles, this approach is due to the government and elite’s tendency to focus on pursuing global or prestigious agendas while neglecting the stark reality of life throughout most of their own country. Problems of this scale and complexity can only be solved if the government gets involved and not by private initiative alone. Perhaps the government’s attitude will change now that the more-in-touch Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come to power in India.

South Asia, including India, also has the greatest percentage of malnourished children out of any region in the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa. Among children under the age of five in South Asia, over 30 percent are underweight. Food security is a major problem in all of South Asia, including India, and is caused more by flawed policies than by a lack of food itself. India’s food consumption patterns are incredibly diverse, with people consuming either more wheat or rice in different states and in rural and urban areas, making it difficult to create a centralized strategy for combating hunger.

Perhaps one trend, though, will alleviate hunger and provide more calories for the average Indian. This trend is the rising meat consumption of the average Indian, which makes use of an additional, plentiful food resource that exists all over India. Contrary to popular belief, India has always been a meat-eating country, with 60 percent of the population eating meat. Vegetarianism has traditionally been limited to only certain castes and religious groups, and even this is changing. Today, India is home to the world’s fourth fastest growing market for chicken, and the seventh fastest growing market for fish. Chicken and fish are the two most popularly consumed meats in India, since there are no religious taboos associated with them, unlike beef and pork. Despite these changes, India still needs a comprehensive policy for increasing caloric intake so as to improve both public health and the food security of its entire population.

India’s government has acknowledged these problems and has admitted that the country has a long way to go. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah said that there was much work to be done but that the new government is committed to improving India’s record on basic developmental issues. Heptullah promised that “when the fifteen-year review of the millennium development goals is undertaken in 2030, India will present a very different and upbeat picture.” Prime Minister Modi is committed to poverty reduction, having coined the development mantra “सबका साथ, सबका विकास” (sabka saath, sabka vikaas) – “with all, development for all.”

Proclamation of Caliphate by ISIS: Challenges for India

July 18, 2014 

“The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khalifah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas”- Abu Muhammad al-Adnani

On June 29, 2014 at the beginning of the Holy month of Ramzan (Ramadan), a group called the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) (also known as ISIS), declared the establishment of an Islamic ‘Caliphate’ in the areas controlled by it in Iraq and Syria. The Caliphate was subsequently rechristened ‘Islamic State (IS)’ and their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed ‘Caliph’. The group’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in a statement, ‘He is the Imam and Khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere,’ and asked all Muslim groups around the world to pay allegiance to him. ‘It is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to (him) and support him…The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the Khalifah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas,’ the statement added. Earlier in June, in a lightening advance, ISIS had captured areas in western and northern Iraq and amalgamated them with areas of northern and eastern Syria that had been under their control for nearly two years.

Charles Lister, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Centre, considers the announcement of the restoration of the caliphate as the most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11. The rise of ISIS and the proclamation has raised serious concerns not only in the Middle East but also around the globe.

How do these events affect India? Do we need to be concerned? In this blog post I try to address these questions.

Nostalgia of caliphate and international jihad

The idea of caliphate evokes a deep nostalgia for Islam’s glory and power in the minds of Muslims around the world, Indian Muslims being no exception. This coupled with the present state of the Muslim Ummah characterised by political instability, economic and technological backwardness and perceived domination of Muslim regimes by the west, fuel a desire to ‘revert’ to the ‘golden’ age of the caliphate amongst many Muslims. Many Salafist theoreticians, prominent amongst them being Maulana Maududi and Syed Qutb in their writings have proclaimed the establishment of the caliphate as divinely ordained. They also lay down the ‘divine’ plan for the establishment of the caliphate. These Salafists divide history into two parts, the period of ‘jahiliyyah’ (ignorance) and the period of ‘Islam’. The present world is the world of ‘jahiliyyah’ which will be followed by the world of Islam. To achieve the world of Islam, ‘jihad’ has to be carried out in three stages, the first being the strengthening of one’s faith (adherence to Salafist Islam), the second ‘hijrat’ (moving from ‘infidel’ communities to ‘faithful’ communities) and third ‘jihad’. It is not surprising then that the ISIS has been using social media and YouTube as propaganda tools that show Muslims from around the world congregating in the areas controlled by it, burning their passports (hijrat), pledging allegiance to the caliphate (IS), and eulogizing jihad. The video posted shows these jihadis from foreign countries threatening their country of origin with jihad once they return.

The virus of international jihad has not affected Indian Muslims much to the chagrin of international jihadist organizations like the Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda has generally failed to win recruits in India; so much so that an Urdu video posted on As-Shabab (media wing of Al-Qaeda) featuring the militant cleric Maulana Aasim Umar, in June 2013 asked the Indian Muslims in frustration, ‘Why is there no storm in your ocean?’ As per a newspaper report (‘Al- Qaeda’s Indian dilemma’, Tufail Ahmed, 27 June 2013, New Indian Express), ‘in the years after 9/11 only three Indians reportedly got entangled in international jihadi networks: Kafeel Ahmed, a Bangalore-born Muslim who was raised in Saudi Arabia, died carrying out a car bombing at the Glasgow airport; Dhiren Barot aka Abu Musa al-Hindi, a Vadodara-born Hindu who got radicalized in Britain, converted to Islam and is imprisoned over his role in jihad; Mohammad Niaz, who was arrested in Paris and is believed to have ties to the Students Islamic Movement of India. These cases of jihadi radicalization occurred abroad (not in India).’ However, the situation may have changed recently with some Indian nationals having joined the Al-Qaeda. Indians have been seen training with other Al-Qaeda terrorists in the propaganda videos released by As-Shabab. Following the arrest of alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal last August, investigators found evidence of two youths from Azamgarh in UP having gone to Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda and ‘fighting in Afghanistan-Pakistan border’.

Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition

JULY 13, 2014 

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SHEOHAR DISTRICT, India — He wore thick black eyeliner to ward off the evil eye, but Vivek, a tiny 1-year-old living in a village of mud huts and diminutive people, had nonetheless fallen victim to India’s great scourge of malnutrition.

His parents seemed to be doing all the right things. His mother still breast-fed him. His family had six goats, access to fresh buffalo milk and a hut filled with hundreds of pounds of wheat and potatoes. The economy of the state where he lives has for years grown faster than almost any other. His mother said she fed him as much as he would eat and took him four times to doctors, who diagnosed malnutrition. Just before Vivek was born in this green landscape of small plots and grazing water buffalo near the Nepali border, the family even got electricity.

So why was Vivek malnourished?

It is a question being asked about children across India, where a long economic boom has done little to reduce the vast number of children who are malnourished and stunted, leaving them with mental and physical deficits that will haunt them their entire lives. Now, an emerging body of scientific studies suggest that Vivek and many of the 162 million other children under the age of 5 in the world who are malnourished are suffering less a lack of food than poor sanitation.

Poor Sanitation Linked to Malnutrition in India 

New research on malnutrition, which leads to childhood stunting, suggests that a root cause may be an abundance of human waste polluting soil and water, rather than a scarcity of food. 
Percentage of children under 5 who are stunted

Number of people who defecate outdoors
per square kilometer

Sources: Demographic and Health Surveys, USAID (stunting data, latest year available); World Health Organization, Unicef (defecation data, 2012) 

Outgoing Afghan war commander raises questions about counterterrorism plan

By Dan Lamothe 
July 17 

Gen. Joseph Dunford, nominated to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps, said Thursday during his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that U.S. and Afghan military commanders would have preferred that the United States’ military withdrawal from the country be more “ambiguous.” (Photo by by Staff Sgt. Dustin Payne/Marine Corps) 

The U.S. military’s outgoing top commander in Afghanistan highlighted improvements in the coalition-trained Afghan military on Thursday, but said the Obama administration’s plan to withdraw nearly all U.S. troops by the end of 2016 will weaken the United States’ ability to perform counterterrorism missions there. 

Gen. Joseph Dunford, up for confirmation to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he does not envision that the Afghan military will be “capable of conducting the kind of operations we’re conducting” to put pressure on al-Qaeda and others in the network of extremists threatening security before 2017 when virtually all U.S. troops are gone. 

The U.S. withdrawal calls for about 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year, with an additional 4,000 troops from other coalition countries. The U.S. force will include about 2,000 Special Operations troops. The overall number of U.S. troops will be cut in half by the end of 2015, and then reduced again to about 1,000 based at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2016, Dunford said. There will be virtually no U.S. commandos in Afghanistan by 2017, he said. 

“In accordance with the plan right now, we would have…a Kabul-centric approach,” Dunford said. “That would reduce our collections capability, our signals intelligence, our human intelligence and our strike capability. So it would be a significant reduction in our overall counterterrorism capability.” 

Dunford was called to testify about his plans and outlook for the Marine Corps, but spent a significant portion of the hearing answering questions about Afghanistan, and to a lesser degree, Iraq. He said he has confidence in the “regional approach” the United States has planned in Afghanistan in 2015, but sounded significantly less comfortable about the arrangement afterward. 

Currently, there about 7,000 U.S. Special Operations troops in Afghanistan, Dunford said. Some perform counterterrorism missions, while others work with and train Afghanistan’s growing cadre of commandos. By January 2015, Dunford said, the number of U.S. commandos will drop to 3,000. 

Under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.), the general said he does not see how al-Qaeda and groups affiliated with it that hide along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border will be contained so they do not threaten the United States at home. The United States, Dunford said, would be relying on Pakistan and Afghanistan’s military by 2017 to perform any counterterrorism operations. 

China’s Strategic Rocket Force: Upgrading Hardware and Software (Part 2 of 2)

July 17, 2014

Source: Huanqiu.com

Part One of this article covered the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force’s (PLASAF) conventional arsenal and the “conventionalization of deterrence”—the creation of doctrines that rely on advanced non-nuclear weapons to deter U.S. and other international intervention in a regional conflict (read the first part in China Brief, Vol. 14, Issue 13). While PLASAF has made these changes, it has also upgraded its nuclear capabilities, including discussions of ways in which nuclear weapons can deter conventional attacks despite China’s No First Use policy. But for upgraded hardware to achieve its goals, it must be commanded and operated by higher caliber, better-prepared soliders, a challenge that is increasingly important to this branch.

Enhancing Nuclear Deterrence Credibility

Deterrence is a moving target: To maintain its credibility, PLASAF must continue to improve specific conventional and nuclear capabilities. PLA publications highlight the growing importance of conventional deterrence capabilities, which continue to enjoy rapid qualitative and quantitative development. Meanwhile, Chinese military sources also emphasize the continuing relevance of nuclear deterrence. Even if only modest quantitative growth is pursued, this suggests a continual need to modernize nuclear forces and increase their sophistication to ensure that they outpace ballistic missile defense (BMD) and other potentially threatening developments.

The most recent edition of the Science of Military Strategy, published by the Academy of Military Science in 2013, underscores the importance of China’s development of a “lean and effective nuclear retaliatory force,” which it identifies as a key component of its “deterrence system” (weishe tixi). [1]PLA analysts see this as a challenge, because China faces a “complex nuclear security environment.” The main adversary China must deter is the United States, but China cannot ignore other nuclear-armed countries in its neighborhood, such as India, which is also modernizing its nuclear capabilities. PLA analysts also express concerns about technological developments they see as possible threats to the credibility of China’s nuclear deterrent, most notably missile defense and conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) capabilities. (SMS, p. 171). PLASAF nuclear missile force modernization plays a central role in China’s attempts to address these challenges.

From humble beginnings of uncertain capability, which relied on Mao’s risk-acceptant rhetoric and “first strike uncertainty” (an enemy’s inability to be completely sure it could successfully locate and destroy all of China’s nuclear missiles with its own first strike) for much of its effect, China today is securing a more credible nuclear retaliatory capability. China’s nuclear missile force currently consists of medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) for regional deterrence missions, and silo-based and road-mobile ICBMs capable of striking targets anywhere in the world. The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) estimates that China’s ICBM force will continue to grow by size and type, and that “the number of Chinese ICBM nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States could expand to well over 100 within the next 15 years” (Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat, 2013, p. 3). PLASAF’s fielding of additional, more survivable mobile ICBMs with improved countermeasures and command, control and communications (C3) capabilities offers potential for a secure second-strike capability. Of particular note are improvements in nuclear C3. According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), “Through the use of improved communications links, China’s ICBM units now have better access to battlefield information and uninterrupted communications connecting all command echelons, and unit commanders are able to issue orders to multiple subordinates at once, instead of serially, via voice commands.” [2]

Quality Over Quantity: A New PLA Modernization Methodology?

July 17, 2014

Figure 1 Plan for System of Systems Generation of Warfighting Capabilities (Transformation, p. 88)

China announced a renewed push on military reforms in November 2013. A theoretical People’s Liberation Army (PLA) publication titled “Transformation of Generating Mode of Warfighting Capability” (official translation of zhandouli shengcheng moshi zhuanbian) proposes an accelerated and focused methodology for modernization to implement a system of systems operational capability (integration of information/weapons systems and units—for a discussion of system of systems operations terminology, see China Brief,October 5, 2012 and March 15, 2013). Authored by Colonel Dong Zifeng, who has held numerous positions in the PLAAF and military educational institutes as well as serving as a joint operations expert at the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS), the book is intended to inform the PLA and specifically its effort at military modernization. The widespread adoption of the transformation concept by military publications suggests that the book may have influenced—or at least describes—an ongoing shift in the PLA’s approach to modernization.

In contrast to the current strategic modernization plan, which has a very general focus spread over a timeline out to mid-century, the author’s plan advocates a highly focused methodology and specific goals for accelerating and implementing the PLA’s transformational effort. This plan emphasizes the creation of improved command structures, operational methods and training methods, but also targeted equipment modernization, to achieve goals such as making effective joint operations possible. Unlike the ongoing plan emphasizing a broad approach to mechanizing and then “informationizing” the military with modern hardware, reforms to command structures appear to be bureaucratically difficult to achieve, with no real change to date. Recognizing these challenges, Dong argues that the PLA’s top modernization priority should be a focused effort to specifically develop system of systems operations with a flat command structure in order to enable integrated joint operations and other new operational methods.

In addition to the author’s association with the AMS, there are a number of reasons to think that his proposals reflect the direction of current policy. In last year’s defense white paper, the section on military modernization stressed the need to “speed up the transformation of the generating mode of combat effectiveness [warfighting capabilities],” the topic of the author’s book, while omitting reference to the official three-stage strategic modernization plan. President Xi Jinping has also associated himself with a high-profile campaign for military reform, prioritizing implementing system of systems operations, integrated joint operations and other new operational methods. Finally, the book’s topic—transforming the mode of generating combat effectiveness—is discussed regularly in the PLA press.

This does not necessarily mean that the author’s proposed plan is supplementing or supplanting the official strategic modernization plan, but China analysts should be aware of the possibility of significant change. [1] This article examines this proposal, as it contains a number of signposts for analysts to gauge possible ongoing or future changes in the PLA’s modernization plan and efforts to accelerate the transformation process that could provide China with enhanced military capabilities to respond to territorial disputes or possible instability on the Korean peninsula.


As with many PLA terms and phrases, the meaning of the transformation concept is opaque. When Dong and the PLA use the phrase “transforming the mode of generating combat effectiveness,” they are talking about an effort to shift the focus of modernization from quantity to quality, increasing the warfighting potential of the PLA by embracing the revolution in military affairs based on information technology; fielding high tech equipment; improving professional military education and unit training; and adopting new, modern doctrines and tactics. Dong views this shift as key to overcoming challenges facing the PLA.

These problem areas include the PLA’s fielding of multiple generations of weapons and equipment; contentious issues in theoretical research; concurrent development of mechanization and informationization; lack of recent combat experience; and a step-by-step development process which threatens to leave the PLA behind the world’s advanced militaries. The intent is to accelerate modernization by focusing the effort on the key transformational areas of system of systems operations, establishing integrated force groupings and conceiving new operational methods (operational art and tactics). [2]

Breaking Western Monopolies: Chinese Military Innovation Bearing Fruit

July 17, 2014

On July 10, several Chinese news outlets announced that China had taken an important step towards achieving “self-reliance” (zizhu baozhang) through the “breaking” (dapo) of a foreign monopoly on military-use computer airborne systems (People’s Daily Online, July 10). Many details of the two real-time operating systems (RTOS) have yet to be released, yet their implications for China’s national military industrial complex are nonetheless important, given it has long been criticized for its limited progress in indigenous innovation resulting from an over-reliance on foreign importation of technology and knowledge.

Details of RTOS

According the press release, the two RTOS are reported to maintain a high degree of “reliability” (gao kekao xing) and “security” (gao anquan xing), outperforming foreign equivalents when put through testing conducted by the Committee for the Finalization of Military Aviation Products. Cross referenced with details from the website the developer, Coretek, a subsidiary of the China Aviation industry Corporation (AVIC), both RTOS are assumed to comply with DO-178B guidance, an internationally recognized standard determining the reliability of software when used in conjunction with specific airborne equipment, including both commercial and military aircraft (Coretek, July 8). It has yet to be established which military aircraft have been the primary targets in the development of the two systems. However, China’s military defense system is reported already to have adopted the new RTOS, carrying important implications not only for the future of its combat capable force (currently estimated at 2,193: IISS Military Balance 2014, p. 236), but also for international export markets, where China is becoming an increasingly important player. China has, up to this point, lacked the capability to produce operating systems rivaling those developed by companies such as IRKUT (Russia) and Green Hills Software (USA), who have respectively developed RTOS for fighter models as the Su-30 and F/A-22. Moreover, while national research and development in China’s military industry remain primarily focused on support of the PLA and its procurement needs, it has already established niche export markets with some Asian and African countries with considerable prospects for growth, particularly if it can compete with Russian dominance in engine production.

Implications for Innovation in China’s Military Industrial Complex

Over the last sixty years, China has produced few truly “indigenous” innovations. Foreign acquisition, reverse engineering, coproduction and theft have proved more reliable ways to quickly close perceived strategic gaps. Even China’s more recent aircraft models such as the J-10B, which is promoted nationally for its indigenously developed engine (the WS-10A), required Israeli assistance for the design of its weapons systems and delivery platforms. Similarly, parts of the design of China’s much-anticipated fifth-generation fighter, the Chengdu J-20, are believed to have been stolen from the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II platform via a cyber espionage campaign dubbed “Operation Byzantine Hades” by U.S. intelligence agencies (Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2009). 

Cyber campaigns and reverse engineering offer a cost-effective means for fast development of modern technologies, particularly given the range of problems with domestic innovation efforts frequently cited by external observers: “inefficiency, redundant leadership and overlapping organization and bureaucratic structures” over the last two decades (The Chinese Air Force: Evolving Concepts, Roles, and Capabilities [2012], p. 257). However, the emphasis on foreign acquisition does not necessarily obstruct domestic innovation, and the latest development in avionics is likely to be part of a larger qualitative shift in Chinese indigenous production. China has undertaken a major overhaul of its entire military industrial base over the past 20 years, the results of which have been a quantum shift in quality production, approaching world-class standards in a multitude of arenas.

Undermining China, One Knockout at a Time

JULY 17, 2014 

Is Superman, depicted here in a mural in Beijing, a weapon being deployed to turn Chinese away from their own heroes?Credit Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

Tensions between the United States and China over cybersecurity have risen as the two countries continue to trade barbs over hacking. But according to an essay on the website of a state newspaper that was widely republished this week, there is, in fact, a longer-running cyberwar underway between the United States and China. And the weapons employed, the essay argues, are far more sophisticated than hacking.

Lei Feng, the Chinese soldier revered as a model of selflessness.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

“America has long used the Internet to poison Chinese civilization and manipulate public opinion to influence politics,” reads the essay posted on the website of Guangming Daily, a Communist Party-backed paper aimed at intellectuals. “Hackers are only the lowest level of this cyberwar.”

Pointing to “innumerable articles and writings” circulating online, the essay argues that the “highest level” of this cyberwar has been the insidious advance of American culture, which, it says, has had the effect of “eroding the moral foundation and self-confidence of the Chinese people.”

Titled “Nine Knockout Blows in America’s Cold War Against China,” the essay takes on topics including Superman and the American education system. At one point, it even compares the “indiscriminate smearing” of China in many “fabricated or exaggerated” American news reports to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews.

The man behind the essay is Zhou Xiaoping, an independent commentator and, in his words, “everyday Internet user.” Last year, Mr. Zhou wrote another widely distributed essay, in which he lashed out against Kai-Fu Lee, the former head of Google China, accusing Mr. Lee of faking a cancer diagnosis and favoring the sexual harassment of women. Mr. Zhou was also reportedlyinvolved in a website called Fenbei.com, but he says he left before that website became involved in a pornography scandal.

“As an Internet user living on my country’s online territory, how could I not sense, how could I not know, when another country’s culture has invaded my country’s online territory?” Mr. Zhou wrote, when reached by email on Wednesday to comment on his essay.

“This is like a real-life war,” he said. “I doubt that when Americans were fighting the Civil War, ordinary citizens on both sides didn’t know or couldn’t sense what kind of weapons or tactics were being used by the other side.”


Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
 A new Pew Research Survey indicates that the US still continues to be perceived in positive light; that a conflict between China and its neighbours over territorial disputes is likely; and that despite contentions over territorial issues, China’s economic standing is considered good even among Asian countries. Asia thus presents interesting pointers about the attitude towards the US and China amidst efforts to find a balance between strategic and economic compulsions.

In global terms, across 43 of the 44 countries surveyed, a median of 65% have maintained a favourable outlook about the US and a median of 56% hold confidence in Obama to take the right step in international affairs. Obama’s standing, while still good, has come down from 2008/2009. Significant declines, owing to Obama’s overseas surveillance, happened in Germany, with the ratings coming down from 88% to 71% and in Brazil, bringing down the points from 69% in 2013 to 52%.

Coming to Asia, one of the striking set of numbers relate to the rising Chinese power quotient and how that has the potential to translate into conflicts, particularly with the neighbours with whom China has border and territorial disputes with. It should be noted that most of the numbers from the survey have historical roots – past animosities and territorial disputes have had a determining say in how they perceive each other. Seven in ten interviewed in the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and India is concerned about the Chinese rising might. Interestingly, 62% of the Chinese themselves have similar concerns about the impact of a conflict.

Expectedly, on the likeability factor, China remains at a low in Japan at 7% and this is mutual given that only 8% Chinese like the Japanese. However, if one were to look at the general approach towards China, it is quite favourable. This is mostly due to the economic strengths of China that would accrue positive spin-offs for the regional and global economy at large. However, even on the question of economy, there is a majority still that see the US as the top economy – 55% in Asia, followed by 49% in Europe and 48% in Africa.


By Mitchell Prothero
July 19, 2014 

Islamic State Overwhelms Iraqi Forces at Tikrit in Major Defeat

Damaged homes due to clashes between fighters of the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Iraqi security forces in Tikrit, 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, July 1, 2014.


IRBIL, Iraq — Islamic State gunmen overran a former U.S. military base early Friday and killed or captured hundreds of Iraqi government troops who’d been trying to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, the worst military reversal Iraqi troops have suffered since the Islamist forces captured nearly half the country last month.

The defeat brought to an end a three-week campaign by the government in Baghdad to recapture Tikrit, which fell to the Islamic State on June 11. Military spokesmen earlier this week had confidently announced a final push to recapture the city.

Instead, Islamic State forces turned back the army’s thrust up the main highway Wednesday. Beginning late Thursday, the Islamist forces stormed Camp Speicher, a former U.S. military base named for a pilot who disappeared during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and overwhelmed the troops there.

Witnesses reached by phone, who asked not be identified for security reasons, said that by Friday morning the final pocket of government troops had collapsed, an ignominious end for a counteroffensive that had begun with a helicopter assault into Tikrit University but ended with troops trapped at Camp Speicher.

There was no comment from the Iraqi government. On Wednesday, the military had acknowledged that its forces had made what it called a “tactical retreat” to Ajwa, a town about 10 miles south of Tikrit, after the push into the city failed.

Interviews with Tikrit residents and statements on Twitter accounts associated with the Islamic State described massive government losses. One Twitter post said Islamic State militants had shot down or destroyed on the ground as many as eight helicopters, a number that if confirmed would be a catastrophic loss for the government. Another Twitter posting said Islamic State militants had set the base’s fuel storage tanks on fire and that a suicide bomber had attacked a “gathering” of government soldiers.

One resident said that as many as 700 government soldiers and 150 fighters he described as Iranians, but who may have been Shiite Muslim militiamen, had participated in the final battle. Sunni Muslims in central Iraq often inaccurately describe Iraqi Shiites as Iranians.

“They were being bombarded and mortared all night, and by Friday morning you could see burning helicopters everywhere and the fighting had stopped,” the resident said.

He said many of the captured soldiers had been executed. “They are parading prisoners through the streets of Tikrit,” the resident said.

Here’s What the U.S. Has to Do to Deal With the Mad Middle East


The Muslim world’s turned upside down. Washington must forge new alliances to meet the jihadi challenge. One of its partners should be Iran. 

Six hundred years of Mideast history are now fully and finally shredding. The political structures established by the Ottoman Turks in the 1500s, especially in Iraq and Syria, have crumbled. The colonial influences and Western ways that once widely pervaded Muslim societies now reside mainly in individuals. American power that succeeded the colonial constructs is largely sapped by wars and diplomatic failures, and by regional upheavals that bewilder and overwhelm even wise policymakers. 

The Mideast is being dismembered by fanatics who would enslave women and bind men’s minds to a nightmarish code of conduct, by the deeply embedded corruption and inefficiency of rulers and governments historically favored by Washington, and by the ancient battle between Sunni and Shia Muslims. 

There is no brilliant policy that can soon reverse these horrific tides. There is no way to foresee a future that still hides in turmoil. This period of bitter struggle among Muslims will persist for many years, well beyond the capacity of American military, economic, and diplomatic power to influence. Throughout this upheaval, Americans will have concerns about civilian suffering, but overshadowing this humanitarian impulse lies the potent fear that Muslim terrorists will export their jihad to the Western lands they despise almost as much as they do some of their Muslim brethren. 

The beginning of wisdom for Americans is to realize that the Arab world is tumbling through an earthquake, and that no mere policy can stop it, let alone shape it. At this stage, Washington can only prepare for the aftermath. The natural American impulse is to search for solutions, for policies that can prevail against these upheavals. But for years to come, Washington will have to lower its sights from solutions to more limited and defensive measures, in effect toward simply halting the jihadi menace. Even then, Americans should expect further jihadi triumphs. 

Over time, however, Washington can cultivate new cooperative arrangements with the few stable and similarly inclined or threatened nations—Kurdistan, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and, shockingly, Iran. And if the new Egyptian rulers can be encouraged to stabilize and somewhat democratize their ancient land, Egyptians too would be a key to a better future. 

At first and even second glance, this may seem an impossible collection of partners. On its face, Israel surely seems incongruous in this collection, but it could actually fill several important roles. First and foremost, Israel could bolster the Egyptian economy through increased trade and help the government there provide the goods and services demanded by a restive population. It is in Israel’s interest to help stabilize Egypt and make it once again a central anchor in the Arab world. Israel could play a similar role for Jordan. 

Israel is also an important supplier of arms and intelligence to the Kurds. While Kurdistan is not a full-fledged state and may never be fully independent, it is for now an important island of stability. Its Peshmerga troops can keep the critical Kirkuk oilfields out of jihadi hands, and should, sooner rather than later, join the general battle against the jihadis across the region.