30 January 2016

Turmoil in the Islamic world

Jan 28 2016 G Parthasarathy
India must move swiftly to meet the new challenges
The global economy has been shaken in recent days by an unprecedented fall in oil prices. This is particularly so in our oil-rich Persian Gulf neighbourhood, from where a substantial share of global oil exports emanates. The economies of other major oil exporting countries like Russia and Venezuela have also been shaken by falling revenues from oil exports. Saudi Arabia, which hosts two million Indian workers and was till recently, our largest supplier of oil, has played a dominant role in determining global oil prices. Its economic growth has fallen from 7 per cent to 3.4 per cent in 2015. It is set to fall to 2.3 per cent in 2016. With half its population aged below 25 years, youth unemployment in Saudi Arabia is unacceptably high. Moreover, with 75 per cent of its budget met from oil revenues, Saudi Arabia has been forced to take harsh measures, which will spiral inflation, even as its foreign exchange reserves fall steadily. Other neighbouring oil-rich Arab Gulf States will face similar challenges.
There are signs of domestic discontent in Saudi Arabia, amidst this difficult economic situation. The Shia population located in the kingdom's oil-rich areas has been infuriated by the recent beheading of the influential Shia cleric, Sheikh Baqir al-Nimr. Worse still, the kingdom is now embroiled in an unpopular military intervention in neighbouring Yemen, to restore a former president to office. Saudi Arabia is being assisted by Sunni Arab States like Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE and Qatar, in this military intervention. It has mounted relentless air strikes in Yemen, resulting in the displacement of 2.5 million Yemenis. As much as 78 per cent of the Yemeni population is in desperate need of water, food and medical assistance. To add fuel to fire, American defence companies have reportedly supplied weapons and equipment to Saudi Arabia, at an estimated cost $1.29 billion, for precision bombing.
Iran has been blamed for supporting the opposition to the Saudis mounted by Yemeni Shia Houthis. Iran has partnered Shia-dominated Iraq, the Bashar al-Assad-led Shia-dominated government in Syria and the Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon, to challenge the Sunni armed opposition in Syria, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. These developments have followed the American invasion and ouster of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated government in neighbouring Iraq and its replacement by the Shia-dominated regime of Nouri al-Maliki. The Maliki dispensation disempowered Sunnis, triggering a civil war and the emergence of the ISIL. Moreover, ill-advised American support for the effort to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria has led to the exodus of millions of Syrians from their homes. It has also triggered a refugee exodus into the heart of the European Union. The ISIL has, meanwhile, emerged as a potent force, creating prospects for strife across the Islamic world, which threatens regional and global security.

Afghanistan Threat Assessment: The Taliban and ISIS

10 December 2015

This commentary assesses the threats posed by militant forces across Afghanistan as of December 2015. The authors specifically note that 1) Taliban factions and Wilayat Khorasan (the so-called Islamic State's putative Afghanistan-Pakistan affiliate) continue to control considerable amounts of territory, and 2) militant controlled areas now extend into numerous district centers. Given these truths, the authors conclude that Afghanistan's unity government will continue to face major internal threats, including the Afghan National Security Forces' (ANSF) limited ability to protect the state, and the Islamic State's efforts to recruit jihadists from the Taliban itself. 

© 2015 Institute for the Study of War 


*** The Arab Spring Five Years Later

Geopolitical Pulse 

George Friedman's take on the week in geopolitics. 
Jan. 28, 2016 
This week’s Geopolitical Pulse is written by Jacob Shapiro. 
Many Western observers misunderstood the 2011 uprisings across the Middle East. 
Five years ago, protests and unrest were spreading across the Middle East in what came to be called the Arab Spring. On Dec. 17, 2010, a Tunisian street vendor lit himself on fire to protest the government. It was not clear at the time that a single act of self-immolation would catalyze dissent across the region. But protests gathered momentum in Tunisia, and on Jan. 14, 2011, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who had been president since 1987, resigned and fled. On Jan. 25, protests began in Egypt that would eventually oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Unrest spread to Syria and Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain, Libya and Lebanon. Already by Jan. 6, Foreign Policy magazine had invoked the term "Arab Spring." By the middle of the month, before protests had even begun in Egypt, major publications throughout the world were using the term. The great liberal revolutions of the Middle East had at long last begun, or so the story was told. 

Fast-forward five years, and the dreams of an Arab Spring, of the organic sprouting of liberal democracy in the Middle East, have become nightmares. According to the UN, over 250,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war. Iraq has become a sectarian battleground on the verge of splitting into three parts. The Islamic State has evolved from a terrorist group to a budding totalitarian religious state that controls wide swaths of territory and has thus far withstood all the hot air and airstrikes that the West and Russia have thrown at it. Millions of refugees of the conflicts are pouring into Europe and wherever else they can find safe harbor. Just over two months ago, on Nov. 13, terrorists linked to the Islamic State carried out a sophisticated attack against multiple targets in Paris. The Western world was transfixed. Hundreds of people die every day as a result of horrific violence in the world. But Paris was personal for the West, and the outpouring of emotion and support was raw and widespread. In popular discourse, the Islamic State has become the Nazi Germany of the 21st century. Whenever the West is faced with evil, it inevitably seems to invoke Adolf Hitler.

The West often uses Western history to understand non-Western cultures. The term “Arab Spring” is borrowed from the “Prague Spring.” In 1968, Alexander Dubcek was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Dubcek attempted to implement a wide range of reforms, including decentralization of the economy and lifting restrictions on the press, but his efforts were short-lived. It took nine months for the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies to send half a million troops into the country to end the season.

“I Think Pathankot Was Assisted By A Sleeper Cell.”

Shashikant Sharma, a retired DGP of Punjab Police and now an anti-drug crusader on the prominent Punjab politicians and police officers involved in drug-smuggling.

It is said no one knows more about Punjab’s nefarious drug smuggler-politician nexus thanShashikant Sharma, a retired DGP of Punjab Police and now an anti-drug crusader. He claims that as the head of the int­elligence wing of the state police, he had in 2007 compiled a list of prominent Punjab politicians and police officers involved in the trade. The mysterious list has never been revealed by the government, despite persistent prodding by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Among the clutch of petitions currently being heard by the court on Punjab’s drug problem, one even seeks Sharma’s custodial interrogation to make him reveal what he knows. Now that cross-border narco-terrorism, with the alle­ged involvement of bent police officers, is in focus after the attack on the Pathankot air force base, Sharma speaks toChander Suta Dogra about his crusade to expose those at the top and where it has led him.

Exclusive: Inside India's Afghanistan - Malda

Opium trade, fake currency, illegal weapons and a mob running wild, no wonder security forces have started referring to Malda as India's own Afghanistan.

Not long ago, paddy used to be main crop for farmers in Malda. Now, poppy has taken it place. Every year, in February and March, farmers lance the poppy capsule and opium oozes from the vast fields of the region. In pics

Opium farming is the engine of Malda's economy. But it is far from being the only criminal activity here. Malda has become the nerve centre for the entry of fake currency into the Indian market, thanks to the district's porous border with Bangladesh. Intelligence agencies are stressed over the ease with which high quality fake Indian currency notes manage to permeate the local economy. Add to deadly cocktail of opium farming and fake currency, a flourishing illegal arms bazaar.

In the recent past, six illegal arms factories have been busted by the local police and BSF in this area. Opium trade, fake currency, illegal weapons and a mob running wild, no wonder security forces have started referring to Malda as India's own Afghanistan.

*** Did Some of the Leaked NSA/GCHQ Documents Come From Another Source Other Than Snowden?

December 26, 2015

Leaked documents that were not attributed to Snowden

Peter Koop


December 24, 2015

Since June 2013, numerous top secret documents from the American signals intelligence agency NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ have been disclosed. The overwhelming majority of them came from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

But what many people probably didn’t notice, is that some of these documents were not provided by Snowden, but by other leakers. Often, the press reports didn’t mention that very clear, and it was only by not attributing such documents to Snowden, that it became clear they came from someone else.

So far, the following secret and top secret documents have been disclosed without having been attributed to Snowden:

Document collections

*** U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/201

by SWJ Editors
December 31, 2015
U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/201

From today’s Department of State FOIA release of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Includes counterinsurgency discussion concerning Afghanistan strategy based on a historical perspective. Redacted portions are excluded.

UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/2015

Who served in the counter-insurgency program in Vietnam with John Paul Vann. He writes about Bernard Fall, the great French journalist and analyst, whom he studied with. His memo is a critique of COIN proposals and his own recommendations.

The other document consists of notes from my conversation with William Murray, former station chief of CIA in Pakistan. He was one of the members of a small CIA team, including Milt Bearden (whom you probably know and who is close to Richard Holbrooke), that directed the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation. Murray also served as station chief elsewhere, including Lebanon. His remarks focus on the lack of a clear mission and message in Afghanistan.

Meet China’s Killer Drones

From Iraq to Nigeria, countries looking for cheap, armed drones are increasingly turning to China — and leaving the United States behind.

Iraqi officials revealed last weekend that one of their armed drones carried out an airstrike which mistakenly killed nine members of a Shiite militia near Tikrit in a friendly fire incident. The news came as a surprise, mostly because many people didn’t know Iraq had armed drones.

Iraq, for the record, very much does. And so do a number of countries, especially in the Middle East, thanks to the rise of China as a prolific developer and no-questions-asked exporter of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Chinese exports are now helping to loosen the door policy of the once-exclusive club of countries with drones capable of destroying targets on the ground. Unmanned Chinese aircraft like the armed Caihong, or “Rainbow,” series of drones are fast becoming the Kalashnikovs of the drone world — entry-level alternatives for countries eager to achieve a basic unmanned strike capability quickly and cheaply.

Upholding the Asian Order

Brahma Chellaney A column internationally syndicated by Project Syndicate

China’s ambition to reshape the Asian order is no secret. From the “one belt, one road” scheme to the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, major Chinese initiatives are gradually but steadily advancing China’s strategic objective of fashioning a Sino-centric Asia. As China’s neighbors well know, the country’s quest for regional dominance could be damaging – and even dangerous. Yet other regional powers have done little to develop a coordinated strategy to thwart China’s hegemonic plans.

To be sure, other powers have laid out important policies. Notably, the United States initiated its much-touted strategic “pivot” toward Asia in 2012, when India also unveiled its “Act East” policy. Similarly, Australia has shifted its focus toward the Indian Ocean, and Japan has adopted a western-facing foreign-policy approach.

The Transnistrian Conflict in the Context of the Ukrainian Crisis

December 2015
This paper analyzes the status of Transnistria through the lenses of Ukraine’s faceoff with pro-Russian separatists in Donbass. The text’s author specifically explains 1) how Russia helped Transnistria break away from Moldova to become a de facto and little recognized ‘statelet’; 2) how Moscow uses the ersatz state to exert influence over Moldova and Ukraine; and 3) the critical role that Transnistria plays in defending Russia's geopolitical interests in several European sub-regions. The author closes the analysis by suggesting ways NATO should manage the Transnistria problem and assist Moldova to reform its defense, security and intelligence sectors. 

Israel’s electric authority hit by “severe” hack attack

Electricity Authority computers were paralyzed by attack and are still recovering. 
by Dan Goodin - Jan 27, 2016 
Israel's Electricity Authority experienced a serious hack attack that officials are still working to repel, the country's energy minister said Tuesday. 
"The virus was already identified and the right software was already prepared to neutralize it," Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told attendees of a computer security conference in Tel Aviv, according to this article published Tuesday by The Times of Israel. "We had to paralyze many of the computers of the Israeli Electricity Authority. We are handling the situation and I hope that soon, this very serious event will be over … but as of now, computer systems are still not working as they should." 
The "severe" attack was detected on Monday as temperatures in Jerusalem dipped to below freezing, creating two days of record-breaking electricity consumption, according to The Jerusalem Post. Steinitz said it was one of the biggest computer-based attacks Israel's power authority has experienced and that it was responded to by members of his ministry and the country's National Cyber Bureau. The response included shutting down portions of Israel's electricity grid. The energy minister didn't identify any suspects behind the attack or provide details about how it was carried out. 

Highly destructive malware creates "destructive events" at 3 Ukrainian substations.News organizations reporting Steinitz' comments gave no indication the attacks resulted in any power disruptions. A representative for Israel's Electricity Authority said some of its computer systems had been shut down for two days in response to the attack. According to The Times of Israel, Israel's Electricity Authority is a department in the country's Ministry of Energy and is separate from the Israel Electric Corporation, the country’s state-owned utility company. Contrary to a previous version of this post, there's no indication Israel's power grid was attacked.
The attack comes five weeks after Ukraine's power grid was successfully disrupted in what's believed to be the world's first known hacker-caused power outage. Researchers still aren't sure if the malware known as BlackEnergy was the direct cause of the blackout, but they have confirmed the malicious package infected at least three of the regional power authorities that were involved in the outage. Researchers have since said the attack was extremely well-coordinated
Post corrected throughout to reflect the hack reportedly hit Israel's Electricity Authority. At the moment, there's no indication the attack extended to the country's power grid.

Why Is Daesh Propaganda Not Shut Out Of The Internet?

Dr Noureddine Miladi 

The question of ‘Why is Daesh not shut out of the internet?’ seems so unpretentious, but the answer to such a question is certainly problematic and sophisticated.

In the US and Europe, openly and behind closed doors in the corridors of policy-making bodies, discussions warn against the use of social media networks by the so called ‘Islamic State’ (known in Arabic by the name Daesh) as an effective tool for recruiting fighters, to spread propaganda material and to gain support.

It is no secret that Daesh has succeeded so far in harnessing various Internet platforms to spread its propaganda messages around the world. It has become a reality partly through its effective YouTube videos, some of them even referred to as official sources by the mainstream international news media.

In the West free speech is sacred. Hence the argument in the US for instance has been whether to consider censorship of Daesh’s media platforms a contradiction of the basic rights of free speech enshrined in the country’s constitution. Contrary to what may be expected, many in the USA argue that the best method to fight hate speech is not to censor it but to widen the debate around it and to increase the voices of those who can counteract it.

Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US "Created" ISIS As A "Tool" To Overthrow Syria's President Assad


From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world's stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world's terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the "straight to beheading YouTube clip" purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one: use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal: depose of Syria's president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline, one which could dethrone Russia as Europe's dominant - and belligerent - source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war.

The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year:

The Red Line and the Rat Line Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels

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In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.​* Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Cyber Superpower: Netanyahu Reveals Bold Plans for Israel

Adam Segal,  January 27, 2016
Cybertech 2016 convened this week in Tel Aviv, and I was in the audience for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plenary address, courtesy of the America-Israel Friendship League and the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Israel has an ambitious domestic and international agenda designed to make it one of the world’s super cyber powers.
The prime minister has made cybersecurity one of his trademark issues and is a big promoter of the idea that better network defenses are essential for national security and that the information security industry is a driver of economic growth (Israel now has more than 300 cybersecurity companies, exports of $6 billion, and 20 percent of the world’s private investment in cyber). In his speech, Netanyahu stressed two large themes. First, there is a need for action now, and as a result some policies may be incomplete or eventually reversed, but the general direction has been decided and everyone needs to start moving. He returned to a metaphor from the army that he has used before of forces in the field changing direction even if every detail is not yet in place.
Second, Netanyahu highlighted a contradiction between the necessity of and the risks inherent in cooperation. The Israeli government is actively looking to partner with other countries and the private sector, but sharing information and capabilities will always be a calculated risk.
Four specific points in the speech were of interest. First, the standing up of the National Cyber Authority and the delineation of its authorities are running into some resistance, presumably primarily from the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. The Shin Bet is responsible for defending critical infrastructure, has much of the country’s cyber capability, and does not want to give up influence. The prime minister spoke of challenging vested interests, including the intelligence agencies; the officials I spoke with took the resistance as an entirely predictable outcome of bureaucratic politics and expected the turf battles to be resolved quickly.

The Days After a Cyberattack Strikes the U.S. Power Grid

Ted Koppel's new book shines a light on America's vulnerable infrastructure.
Kevin Reagan, January 27, 2016
In his new book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, ABC News veteran Ted Koppel concludes that America’s dependence on internet-connected critical infrastructure systems is making it increasingly vulnerable to a devastating cyberattack, and that the nation is completely unprepared for the aftermath of any such attack. The cover depicts America at night but with the eastern half of the country in darkness, evoking the memorable contrast of real-life nighttime images of the Korean peninsula. Indeed, after a clichéd opening describing the United States in a North Korea–like state (the first sentence of the book is “Darkness.”), the first chapter arrives at the focus of Koppel’s study: the centrality of the electrical grid in the United States, and what would happen if it went offline for an extended period of time, particularly as the result of a cyberattack.
After developing his cyberattack premise, Koppel then bizarrely teases readers with sparse details of other potential grid vulnerabilities of equal or greater interest, briefly acknowledging their existence before moving on with his argument. The second chapter of the first section, “AK-47s and EMPs,” details how electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks could be used to neutralize not only the power grid, but all electronics across the country. Without much further examination, Koppel leaves readers to ponder the somber conclusions of a2008 congressional report on the EMP threat—namely, the forecast of a 90 percent population reduction.
The chapter also details one concerning incident in 2013, in which a power substation in California wasphysically infiltrated and taken offlinein a coordinated attack by individuals armed with assault rifles. While the attack did not prove fatal or cause a widespread power outage, it highlighted the vulnerability of the grid to physical attack and the need for increased physical security at critical sites. Given the ease with which the tools used in this attack can be acquired in the United States, this threat merits much more in-depth discussion, but Koppel largely glosses over its significance in this chapter.

Wide Range of Ukrainian Industries Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks, Report

Exclusive - Hackers may have wider access to Ukrainian industrial facilities
Reuters, January 27, 2016
Hackers were able to attack four sections of Ukraine’s power grid with malware late last year because of basic security lapses and they could take down other industrial facilities at any time, a consultant to government investigators said.
Three power cuts reported in separate areas of western and central Ukraine in late December were the first known electrical outages caused by cyber attacks, causing consternation among businesses and officials around the world.
The consultant, Oleh Sych, told Reuters a fourth Ukrainian energy company had been affected by a lesser attack in October, but declined to name it.
He also said a similar type of malware had been identified by the Ukrainian anti-virus software company Zillya! where he works as far back as July, making it impossible to know how many other systems were at risk. 
“This is the scariest thing - we’re living on a powder keg. We don’t know where else has been compromised. We can protect everything, we can teach administrators never to open emails, but the system is already infected,” he said.
Sych, whose firm is advising the State Security Service SBU and a commission set up by the energy ministry, said power distributors had ignored their own security rules by allowing critical computers to be hooked up to the Internet when they should have been kept within an internal network.
This so-called “air gap” separates computer systems from any outside Internet connections accessible to hackers.
“A possible objective was to bring down some branches (of the Ukrainian energy system) and create a ‘domino effect’ to collapse the entire system of Ukraine or a significant part,” Sych said.
Ukraine has also been targeted in other cyber attacks, which included hacking into the system of Ukraine’s biggest airport and TV news channels. 

Operation Protective Edge: Ends, Ways and Means and the Distinct Context

Ron Tira

Between July 8 and August 26, 2014, Israel and Hamas engaged in hostilities known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. An analysis of the operation can provide valuable understanding regarding the orchestration of ends, ways and means – in a distinct context.

Politicians, strategists and campaign planners tend to survey experiences that resemble the current challenge. Yet often, the seemingly analogous case is characterized by different contexts, and may thus be misleading. Rather than seeking resemblance, the differences between the specific challenge ahead and the seemingly analogous precedents should be distilled. Extracting the distinctness of the challenge may provide the real guidance.

Operation Pillar of Defense - the Misleading Backdrop

Why Weaker Insurgents Survive or Beat Stronger Incumbents

By Omar Ashour for Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) 
26 January 2016

Since the 1970s, the number of victories by insurgents over stronger incumbents has risen significantly while the ability of incumbents to defeat much weaker insurgents has decreased. Today, Omar Ashour cites seven possible reasons for this phenomenon, two of which particularly apply to Syria and Iraq. 

The following extract is part of a larger report ("Why does the Islamic State [IS] Endure and Expand?") which the Instituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) published in December 2015. If you are interested in the broader text, which explores IS’ military capabilities, the strategy it’s pursuing against the West, and the current and long-term counter-strategies being employed against the group, go here

An Assessment of Known Drone Use by Non-State Actors

25 January 2016

Thus far, drones have been used by terrorist, insurgent, criminal, corporate and activist groups for two broad purposes – to stage IED-type attacks and gather intelligence. Today, Chris Abbott and others provide specific details on how “threat groups” have exploited drones in the past and how they might rely on them in the future. 

By Chris Abbott and Matthew Clarke and Steve Hathorn and Scott Hickie for Oxford Research Group (ORG) 

The following extract is part of a larger report ("Hostile Drones: The Hostile Use of Drones by Non-State Actors against British Targets") which the Oxford Research Group (ORG) published on 11 January 2016. If you are interested in the broader text, which additionally explores the attributes of many commercially available unmanned vehicles and how to counter the potential threats they pose, go here

Lights Out for the Putin Regime The Coming Russian Collapse

January 27, 2016 

Russian President Vladimir Putin used to seem invincible. Today, he and his regime look enervated, confused, and desperate. Increasingly, both Russian and Western commentators suggest that Russia may be on the verge of deep instability, possibly even collapse.

This perceptual shift is unsurprising. Last year, Russia was basking in the glow of its annexation of Crimea and aggression in the Donbas. The economy, although stagnant, seemed stable. Putin was running circles around Western policymakers and domestic critics. His popularity was sky-high. Now it is only his popularity that remains; everything else has turned for the worse. Crimea and the Donbas are economic hellholes and huge drains on Russian resources. The war with Ukraine has stalemated. Energy prices are collapsing, and the Russian economy is in recession. Putin’s punitive economic measures against Ukraine, Turkey, and the West have only harmed the Russian economy further. Meanwhile, the country’s intervention in Syria is poised to become a quagmire. 

Things are probably much worse for Russia than this cursory survey of negative trends suggests. The country is weathering three crises brought about by Putin’s rule—and Russia’s foreign-policy misadventures in Ukraine and Syria are only exacerbating them.

There Is no Plan B for Europe

by Kaj Leers 
January 27, 2016

As European leaders prepare for a mid-February summit -- just the latest such gathering to seek a solution to the Continent's refugee crisis -- the politics surrounding that crisis are intensifying. Under the aegis of Dutch leadership, the 28 heads of state must somehow compromise in order to save one of the fundaments of the EU: free movement across borders. Failing such a compromise, there is no Plan B.

Europe's attention is fixed for now on Amsterdam, as the Dutch government holds the rotating presidency from January until July 1. Within these six months, the European Union needs to find solutions to several daunting challenges at once. The refugee crisis is at present the number one problem faced by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, EU president Donald Tusk, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

What Happened When Ash Carter Crashed Davos

Defense Secretary Ash Carter with CNN's Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 22, 2016. 
January 27, 2016 By Kevin Baron 
The defense secretary's legacy may have been forged in the Alps, connecting economic elites to the Pentagon — and the war on terrorism. 
DAVOS, Switzerland — Past the luxury shops, black cars, and pop-up spaces opened on tiny ski-village streets by iconic banks and technology giants, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter came to the World Economic Forum with dual messages. One for world leaders on this global stage: get into the fight against the Islamic State. And a second for corporate leaders: join forces with the Pentagon and get into the business of fighting for something bigger. 
Kevin Baron is executive editor of Defense One. He is also national security/military analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Baron has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and politics for Foreign Policy, National Journal, and Stars and Stripes. He previously ran investigative projects for five ... Full Bio

In a way, Carter’s Davos mission encapsulates his probable legacy as President Barack Obama’s final defense secretary. The methodical technologist and government servant who rose through the political-appointee ranks has about one year left to make his mark on the job. Over the past few months, as Secretary of State John Kerry has focused on Iran, Carter has become Obama’s point-man for the war on ISIS. Ordered to “accelerate” the U.S.-led campaign, Carter has since September tried to cadge additional forces and finances from America’s allies. On this European swing, he stopped first in Paris, where attacks in November renewed the continent’s fighting mood. There he laid out his plan to key coalition partners: follow December’s liberation of Ramadi with one-two punch invasions of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. He also announced a Brussels conference next month where he expects at least 26 nations to come with additional offerings.
But Carter also wants to put the Pentagon on a firmer footing as a government agency for the new era of terrorism, massive employer of personnel, and driver of technology. His solution: lure the world’s most innovative minds, firms, and business leaders to work with the federal behemoth.

Israel’s Electrical Grid Hit by Major Cyber Attack

‘Israel’s electrical grid attacked in massive cyber attack’
Jerusalem Post, January 26, 2016
As Israelis cranked up their heaters during the current cold snap, the Public Utility Authority was attacked by one of the largest cyber assaults that the country has experienced, Minister of Infrastructure, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz said onTuesday. 
“Yesterday we identified one of the largest cyber attacks that we have experienced,” Steinitz said at the CyberTech 2016 conference at the Tel Aviv Trade Fair and Convention Center. 
Steinitz said that attack was dealt with by his ministry and the National Cyber Bureau and that it was under control. 
The incident occurred during two consecutive days of record-breaking winter electricity consumption, with the Israel Electric Corporation reporting a demand of 12,610 megawatts on Tuesday evening as temperatures dipped to below-freezing levels.
“I can tell you that the virus was identified and software was activated to neutralize it,” Steinitz said. 
“This is a fresh example of what we need to be prepared to face at any time,” he added. 
Hundreds of international delegations were attending the CyberTech 2016 Conference.
The third annual event drew state leaders, representatives of leading multinational and Israeli corporations and startups, investors and entrepreneurs in the field of cyber security.
A US delegation led by Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a large Japanese representation, a group of Canadian banking executives and a delegation organized by the International Monetary Fund from developing countries were among those expected to attend what is referred to as the largest exhibition of cyber technologies outside the United States.

Full Spectrum Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Cyber Operations Technology


Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) is soliciting white papers for various scientific studies, investigations, and experiments to increase our knowledge, understanding and capability in order to expand cyber operations technologies involving full spectrum signals intelligence (SIGINT) and Electronic Warfare (EW) within the Department of Defense (DoD). Areas of interest include the integration, better coordination of, and capability to conduct cyberspace operations. This includes integration research into operational and contingency planning, as well as technology and approaches to better equip the warfighter. Concepts at the intersection of the areas of SIGINT, EW and Cyber technologies are sought in this Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). Development proposals, specifically as applies to new ideas/concepts for practical application, are of interest.

Research efforts under this program are expected to result in experimental capabilities, concepts, theory, and applications addressing cyber operations problems involving SIGINT and EW to support the future needs of DoD including 24th Air Force, 25th Air Force and other government agencies. Broad topics of interest include applying machine learning, mission platforms, and spectrum issues to cyber operations, and improving cyber exercise technology. Projects specializing in highly novel, interesting, and applicable techniques will also be considered if deemed to be of "breakthrough" quality and importance.

High-Tech Execs in Silicon valley Seem Open to Going Back to Work With US Spy Agencies

Danny Yadron and Julia Carrie Wong
January 9, 2016

Silicon Valley appears open to helping US spy agencies after terrorism summit

Obama administration acknowledges ‘complicated first amendment issues’ after top counter-terrorism officials traveled to California to woo technology executives from companies including Apple, Facebook and Twitter

Technology giants appeared to be open to helping the US government combat Islamic State during an extraordinary closed-door summit on Friday that brought together America’s most senior counter-terrorism officials with some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful executives.

The remarkable rendezvous between Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and others and a delegation from the White House revealed a willingness on the part of tech firms to work with the government, and indicated that the Obama administration appears to have concluded it can’t combat terrorists online on its own.

Robert Steele: The Virtual Caliphate – Between Two (or More) Evils

** How to Be a Better Writer: 6 Tips From Harvard’s Steven Pinker

Nov. 14, 2014

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree. 

Good writing is often looked at as an art and, frankly, that can be intimidating. No need to worry. There are rules — even science — behind writing well.

Our brain works a particular way; so what rules do we need to know to write the way the brain best understands?

To find out the answer I gaveSteven Pinker a call.

Steven is a cognitive scientist and linguist at Harvard. He’s also on the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary.

Steven was recently ranked as one of the top 100 most eminent psychologists of the modern era.

The other side of the CGSC story: Some of our Army officers are functionally illiterate

JANUARY 5, 2016
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By “Flash Override”
I would like to take the discussion regarding CGSC even further. Yesterday you heard from the top of the class. But there is another side to this story. Unlike the other armed services, who only send 25 percent or fewer members of each year group to resident staff college, the Army sends almost 50 percent of each year group. This results in functionally illiterate Army majors coming to CGSC.
Think I’m exaggerating? Then you need to see the test scores from the Nelson-Denny Reading Exam. The Nelson-Denny, which has been around since 1929, measures the reading and comprehension ability of students. Approximately five percent of incoming U.S. Army students at CGSC each year score so low on the Nelson-Denny that they could fairly be classified as functionally illiterate.

Official History of the 1971 India Pakistan War

1971 Bangladesh War 
Created: 12 October 2006 

© History Division, Ministry of Defence, Government of India. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view these file. Two files (Introduction.pdf & Chapter 1.pdf) were received in a corrupted state from the original source and are included here only for the sake of completion.

Introduction.pdf: File Size - 1.6M

Foreword.pdf: File Size - 95k

Preface.pdf: File Size - 277k

Abbreviations.pdf: File Size - 393k

Appendix.pdf: File Size - 2.3M

Bibliography.pdf: File Size - 240k