20 August 2017

‘Drive Russians Bananas’ With Rockets In Boxes: CSIS On Hidden Missiles


“All warfare is based on deception,” Sun Tzu wrote 2,500 years ago. It’s a lesson the US military largely forgot after the Cold War, when we got in the habit of building huge, easily targeted bases. Now we must relearn deception as Russia, China, and other adversaries field, not only their own precision weapons, but the satellites, drones, and other sensors to find targets for them.

But what does deception mean in the 21st century? Once it required recruiting courtesans as spies and camouflaging troops with tree branches and green facepaint. Now it involves putting out fake news on Facebook and concealing missile launchers in commercial shipping containers.

“It’ll drive the Russians bananas,” said Tom Karako, missile defense director at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. CSIS made the video above to illustrate how a Patriot launcher might be removed from the standard-issue trailer and installed in a CONEX container. The Russians are already working on a similar concept for their Klub-K cruise missile.

Israel girds for next round of battle in Gaza Strip

By: Barbara Opall-Rome 

TEL AVIV, Israel ― Israel on Thursday released detailed intelligence on how Hamas is using newly constructed residential buildings in the coastal strip to disguise the expansion of underground tunnels and command centers from which the Jewish state says the group plans to wage urban war against it.

Israel released the intel to make its case for what it insists is an unwanted, yet potentially necessary new round of combat in Gaza.

Briefing reporters here, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, described two homes carefully mapped out by military intelligence ― complete with geolocation target coordinates ― that he insists prove “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.”

During the highly unusual briefing aimed at bolstering Israel’s case should it need to destroy the structures built in heavily populated residential neighborhoods, Zamir insisted Israel possesses “many more such targets beyond what we’re showing you.”

He repeatedly referred to the structures ― one a six-story building and private parking lot with access to a tunnel network, and the other a family home with an entrance to a tunnel that connects to a nearby mosque ― as legitimate targets. “I say these are legitimate military targets, and whoever is endangering himself and his family needs to hold Hamas responsible for what happens,” he said.

North Korea’s Dangerously Rudimentary Nuclear Command-and-Control Systems

Conventional wisdom tells us that because North Korea’s elites are rational actors, they will conclude that the benefits of employing nuclear weapons will be outweighed by the costs. Regime extinction is identified as the most compelling cost, and Kim Jong-un’s instinct for self-preservation is said to override all other considerations.

But the prospects of North Korea using nuclear weapons during crises, or in the initial stages of a conventional (that is, non-nuclear) conflict, are greater than generally acknowledged. This is not based on any assumption about the rationality or otherwise of the Kim Jong-un regime; rather, that nuclear first use may itself be seen as a rational option if a US first-strike is regarded as inevitable.

History shows that states in the process of building up their nuclear forces see themselves as vulnerable to preventive or pre-emptive first strikes because of the incipient nature of their command and control systems, coupled with the small size of their nuclear inventories. Yet instead of inducing caution, this vulnerability can encourage risk taking. Notably, the Soviet Union’s propensity to take risks during crises was strongest in the 1950s and 1960s when it was most susceptible to a disarming US first strike.

The Profexer: FBI Has Interviewed a Malware Expert in the Ukraine Who Wrote the Code Used by Russian Intelligence to Penetrate the DNC Computers

KIEV, Ukraine — The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the Dark Web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”

It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the D.N.C. hack and the heated debate it has stirred. The Ukrainian police declined to divulge the man’s name or other details, other than that he is living in Ukraine and has not been arrested.

Korean War 2.0? The Signs To Watch


After threatening to rain four missiles around Guam, North Korea’s pudgy leader, Kim Jong-un appeared to back off today. The (spoof) official North Korean News Agency issued a fabulous tweet describing it, declaring: “Esteemed General Kim Jong-Un reprieves US colony of Guam, citing concern for ocelots and sea turtles. Fate of Los Angeles remains unclear.”

Given that LA may remain under threat (not every much, but…), we decided to run this excellent piece by Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies describing the indications and warnings of war. Read on! The Editor

The duelling words between President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea has led to much speculation about whether war is looming.

War does seem unlikely, given that several observers have noted that the US forces in Korea and the Pacific remain in a peacetime posture, but what would be the tells that war is coming?

The Intelligence Community, our frontline observers, watch for indications and warning (I& W), specific actions that warn of an attack. What would I&W look like applied to our side to allow outsiders without security clearances to anticipate a possible conflict? The following list is based on preparations the United States took in conflicts over the last quarter century—Desert Storm in 1991, the bombing of Serbia in 1999, and the invasion of Iraq 2003— as well as what we know about the main Korean war plan, called OPLAN 5027.

America's Darwinian Nationalism

Robert D. Kaplan

While other states have survived and even prospered by a ruthless realpolitik of sorts, America, because it was born as a geographic bounty and also as an ideal, is nothing without both.

THE UNITED STATES, Russia and China are all losing, or have lost, their ideological and spiritual purpose. This is clear in the case of the Russian and Chinese regimes, which no longer possess their communist ethos and whose legitimacy is based on ethnocentrism and anxious economic pacts with their own people. But even the United States has less of a moral purpose. It is questionable whether Americans are willing to continue to provide upkeep for a liberal order in Europe and Asia, as they did for over seventy years. While American democracy thrived and was a shining example to the world in the print-and-typewriter age, it is uncertain whether that will continue in the digital-and-video era. Indeed, of late, American democracy has been less an inspiration than a tawdry spectacle. Congress has seen a degree of partisan dysfunction unknown since nineteenth-century frontier days. The president, by any account, simply lacks the decorum of all former modern presidents. The monied classes essentially run Washington, a process that has been maturing and abundantly commented upon for decades. Despite the quiet dedication of an often-maligned, policy-driven bureaucratic elite, America is less and less the “city upon a hill.” In all of this, keep in mind that it is less important how Americans see themselves than how others see them.

A Global Fish War is Coming

Nearly two decades into the 21st Century, it has become clear the world has limited resources and the last area of expansion is the oceans. Battles over politics and ideologies may be supplanted by fights over resources as nations struggle for economic and food security. These new conflicts already have begun—over fish.

Hungry World

The demand for fish as a protein source is increasing. The global population today is 7.5 billion people, and is expected to be 9.7 billion by 2050, with the largest growth coming in Africa and Asia. Fish consumption has increased from an average of 9.9 kilograms per person in the 1960s to 19.7 kilograms in 2013 with estimates for 2014 and 2015 above 20 kilograms. The ten most productive species are fully fished and demand continues to rise in regions generally with little governance and many disputed boundaries.

In 2014, there were 4.6 million fishing vessels on the world’s oceans: 75 percent were in Asia and 15 percent in Africa. High seas fishing capacity has grown significantly, and there are now 64,000 fishing vessels with lengths in excess of 24 meters, and Asia’s distant water fishing nations continue to add newer and larger ships.

The wild marine fish harvest remains steady at 80 million metric tons (MMT) while aquaculture or farmed fish now equals 73.8 MMT, with China responsible for farming 62 percent of that total. 1 Farmed fish is predicted to exceed wild capture as early as 2018, but the inputs to these farming operations require massive amounts of fish meal. 2 As a result, fishing vessels will scour the oceans going deeper and farther than ever before to try to feed the world.

The Ongoing Challenge of Irregular Warfare: Thoughts on Responses and Intelligence

by Noah B. Cooper

The range of irregular warfare challenges faced by the United States in the future will be extensive (e.g. non-state actors – terrorists, violent extremist organizations, drug traffickers – and state actors that adopt asymmetric tactics to negate U.S. military power – Iran, North Korea, and Russia). Currently, defeating the “hybridized” threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and eliminating its geographical span of control in Iraq and Syria is the priority of U.S. counterterrorism actions. As the U.S., the coalition of forces, and local allies, regain territory lost to ISIS and drive the group out from its urban redoubts, the sinking morale of foreign fighters is encouraging them to repatriate their home countries. Considerable portions of these fighters originate from nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, namely the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia and Malaysia. As they return, the sharing of their experiences, their promotion of the ISIS ideology, and their proliferation of irregular warfare tactics presents a serious concern to the security and stability of the region.

The Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a second front in the battle against not only ISIS, but also other transnational violent extremist organizations (VEOs), local separatist groups, insurgencies, and criminal organizations. Not surprisingly, the study of this area is lacking, but several facts are worth emphasizing to illustrate the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. First, the region has the world’s largest population of Muslims (approaching one billion) and, as noted by Admiral Harry Harris (Commander, U.S. Pacific Command), “If a very small percentage of the Muslims in the USPACOM AOR [Area of Responsibility] are radicalized, there could be deadly results.” Second, a negative consequence of the successful counter-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria is the return of foreign fighters originally from the Asia-Pacific to their home countries and the corresponding security implications for the region. The dangers of returning jihadists are manifold and include such activities as the proliferation of advanced terrorist practices, the spread of the volatile ISIS ideology, and of central concern, the coordination and launching of attacks in their home countries. Moreover, the growing association of VEOs in the Asia-Pacific with ISIS presents a threatening dimension for counterterrorism. These disparate groups are working together, often with deadly results.



It was the day after Suzy died. Congressman Ike Skelton’s dearly loved soulmate was gone, and Ike’s call to me that night was heart-rending. Our annual House Armed Services Committee battlefield staff ride was the next day so I assumed Ike was calling to cancel. After offering my condolences, I suggested that we might put off the event until the next year. Ike said no. We’d meet as usual in front of the Russell Building at 8 AM sharp. Then off to Antietam. At the time I wondered why.

Suzy died in the summer of 2005, a time when Ike became, by his own admission, a tortured soul. He was fearful that his signature military reform, the Goldwater-Nichols act of 1986, was failing. Ike’s passion for educational reform in the 1980s was born in the belief that the military had performed so poorly during the invasion of Grenada in 1983 because the services had not learned to fight together. To use the vernacular, Ike was convinced that the services had to learn to fight “joint.” He agreed that individual services were competent at fighting in their respective domains — land, sea, and air — but they failed when brought together to fight as a multi-service team. While others in Congress sought organizational solutions to the problem, Ike believed that true “jointness” could be achieved only by changing military culture and culture could only be changed by reforming how the officer corps was educated.

Air Force CISO says innovation key to future cyber defense


Securing cyberspace at the edge of the fight is not just about compliance, it is about agility and innovation, according to Peter E. Kim, Chief of Information Security Officer for the Air Force who spoke at the 2017 FCW Cybersecurity Summit. 

This new way of looking at cybersecurity implementation has been called the Cybersecurity Initiative, explained Kim. Essentially, it dictates that in the defense of cyber space, the Air Force wants to see its personnel thinking for themselves and innovating solutions, not simply checking boxes. This is particularly true for the airmen who are actually in the field, at the edge of the fight. 

“Compliance is necessary, but it’s okay if you can’t get through the 800 controls. It’s okay if you miss a patch. It’s good enough. Slap it on a network and let the warfighter conduct the mission,” said Kim. “What we are trying to tell the airmen…is think about and innovate how you secure your mission in, through, and from cyberspace.” 

However, while encouraging cyber warriors at the edge of the networks to think for themselves, the initiative does prescribe five strategic pillars. 

The first is situational awareness. 

“Attacks will be constant…and they are becoming more sophisticated,” said Kim. “If you don’t have rudimentary situational awareness of…the information, the data, the mission computers, the things that enable the Air Force, then we need to get there. We need to have situational awareness of the cyber battle space.”

The Weaker Foe – Part 3

By Jim Greer

The Finnish success in the Winter War case study suggests that it is possible to win as the weaker foe, but not if we fight in the same way as the stronger enemy. Since we don’t know we will remain the strongest military power, the U.S. Army must develop the attributes necessary to win as the weaker foe, as the near-peer. The good news is these attributes—cunning, risk-taking, problem-generating, and asymmetrical operations—are those that effective military organizations ought to practice anyway. Our challenge has been that because we have thought, acted, prepared, and resourced as the superpower that we are, those attributes have gradually atrophied out of our organizations, individuals, and culture. Still, all is not lost, and it is not too late to change.

Previous articles in this series explained how the U.S. Army must transform in order to win if confronted with a war in which we are the weaker foe. Part One of this analysis focused on the necessary characteristics a force must have to win as the weaker foe. Part Two followed with a historical case study of Finnish success in the Winter War to reinforce those characteristics. This article will explain how––if we take steps now––in the physical, mental, and cultural domains we can develop the leaders, organizations, and personnel needed to win future wars whether we are the stronger or the weaker foe.

Adarsh Committee Report: Oddities Galore

Major General Mrinal Suman

Adarsh Society has come back to haunt the services, causing severe damage to the standing and reputation of the higher leadership. Reaction of the environment varies from incredulous scepticism to outright condemnation of the concerned officers.

The inquiry committee, set up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), in its voluminous report of 199 pages, has blamed two former Army Chiefs, three Lt Generals, four Maj Generals and several other military and Defence Estates Office officers for various acts of omission and commission. The report also calls former Naval Chief Admiral Madhvendra Singh and Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh as beneficiaries but does not hold them accountable, as all land-matters in Mumbai are dealt-with by the army.

The enquiry committee has also recommended appropriate administrative action against the named officers to include conveyance of displeasure and debarring them from any future employment or contract with the government, or any of its bodies and committees.

As regards the genesis of the inquiry committee – it was set up by MoD pursuant to the orders of the Mumbai High Court. Vide Para 118 of the order dated 29 April 2016, the Court observed, “As noted earlier, building (Adarsh) is on the neck joining Colaba island. The petitioner has contended that GOCs between 1999 and 13 July 2010 and their family members were allotted flats in Adarsh building. We do not intend to comment on the role of these officers as they are not made party to the petition. It is, however, necessary to find out as to why the petition was not instituted at the earliest available opportunity. MoD is, therefore directed to hold an in-depth inquiry for finding out whether these GOCs compromised with the security of Colaba Military Station in lieu of allotment of flats in the building.” 

Thunder Drone: Best Name Ever, But What Is It?


HOLLOMAN AFB: We first heard about ThunderDrone from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who told a mystified audience that the Air Force would take part in an event none of us had ever heard of.

“In two months, we’re going to have a big competition. They’ve rented out a big warehouse,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said here during her Wednesday speech kicking off the Light Attack Experiment. “It’s a rapid prototyping event, and basically it’s to investigate swarms and platforms and effects and data science of small unmanned aerial vehicles. There’s even one (event) that says, ‘Ok, bring your stuff, we’ll see who the last drone standing is.’”

Wilson obviously considers ThunderDrone another example of the service’s pursuit of disruptive and useful technologies. So we kept asking three and four-star generals at the Light Attack Experiment here, what is ThunderDrone? They all deferred to the secretary.

Luckily, the Internet revealed all. OK, at least a bit. It’s being managed by an organization called SOFWERX on behalf of Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

SOFWERX was created by the Doolittle Institute, a Florida nonprofit with a license to use Gen. Doolitle’s name. The five-year-old institute was clearly created to help SOCOM push the technology envelope “and find solutions to the toughest Science and Technology challenges while championing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for all levels of society.” The goal of SOFWERX is “to assist with collaboration, innovation, prototyping and exploration with industry, labs and academic partners.” They’ve got two facilities in Tampa. One is a 10,000 sq. ft. facility “designed for collaboration, innovation and modest rapid prototyping,” and the other is a 4,000 sq. ft. “garage designed for rapid prototyping with modest collaboration and innovation capabilities.”

Big Data enters Indian policy

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha

Economists have now begun to use machine learning to extract information from satellite images

The second volume of the Economic Survey released by the Union finance ministry last week shows that innovative use of images has begun to make its overdue presence felt in India as well. Photo: iStock

The view from above as your plane lands in Mumbai during the monsoon months is a revelation. Some parts of the city are a sea of blue tarpaulins. Home owners apparently use them on terraces to prevent rainwater from seeping into living spaces. I often wonder whether the presence of tarpaulins is a proxy indicator of the poor quality of housing stock in Mumbai.

Economists have traditionally used numbers in their work. They have now begun to use images as well. The use of such satellite images is part of a broader shift towards the use of newer types of inputs for policymaking. There seems to be some change in India as well.

The second volume of the Economic Survey released by the Union finance ministry last week shows that innovative use of images has begun to make its overdue presence felt in India as well. 

The eighth chapter uses satellite data to see whether India is more urbanized than most traditional indicators suggest. There are two sets of traditional indicators. The administrative metric to define a town depends on whether it is governed by an urban local body such as a municipality. The census uses three metrics to identify a town—the population should be more than 5,000, the density of the settlement should be at least 400 people per sq. km, and more than three out of every four residents should have employment outside agriculture. Satellite images show that India is far more urbanized than metrics other than the traditional ones suggest. 

Defensive cyber teams take on more missions under new model

By: Mark Pomerleau 

Given the obfuscation afforded to actors in cyberspace and the low barrier of entry, cyber protection teams within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility were conducting no more than two missions a year, as they were becoming bogged down in preparatory intelligence for defensive operations.

In turn, CENTCOM developed a cyberthreat prioritization model to resolve the issues surrounding intelligence preparation of the environment, otherwise known as IPE, which is the work that comes before a cyber protection team, or CPT, heads out on a defensive mission.

A threat prioritization model serves as an analysis tool, combining information from cyber defenders and managers, said to Marlene Kovacic, a cyberspace branch senior intelligence analyst at CENTCOM and defensive cyber operations team lead, who spoke at the DoDIIS Worldwide Conference on Tuesday.

Moreover, these models are an “intelligence driven analytical matrix from a structured data model to characterize and prioritize adversary groups,” according to a slide from her presentation. “It is used in order to determine the weight of each intrusion set, enabling defensive operations to make planning decision on how to protect critical infrastructure with defensive cyberspace operations.”

Strategy Considerations Across the Spectrum of Warfare

By Vincent Dueñas

Today, warfare is characterized by low-intensity conflicts, nuclear deterrence, and emergent cyber conflicts, yet the United States military must engage in all three while simultaneously remaining prepared for high-intensity conflicts. For the U.S., the main character of conflict post-World War II has been in limited warfare. For example, the U.S. has not committed all its resources, such as nuclear weapons, into any specific conflict because a total war with a nuclear country would obliterate entire populations. The modern era has also seen the rise of compelling and effective non-state actors who have become influential by using social media to organize and resource their activities.

As a global superpower, the United States is forced to confront the entire spectrum of conflict. The U.S. government and the American people promote a free and democratic way of life, yet attract ever-increasing hostility as a result of extensive economic and military concerns abroad. In order to protect its interests, the U.S. government may need to engage in conflict as matter of policy. As the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted, “war is the continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means.”[1] Where diplomatic, informational and economic solutions have been exhausted, when leveraged, warfare remains a legitimate option that will need to be clearly articulated to the American public.

19 August 2017

*** How Not To Become A Target On Social Media

It's August and for much of the world that means it is vacation time. In recent days I've seen ample evidence of this as people have tweeted, posted on Instagram and otherwise announced their vacation plans to the world. In many cases they even provide play-by-play updates. While sharing this information with friends can be fun, these details are being broadcast to a wider audience that is not well known to vacationers, if at all. And this is where the danger lies: Crooks are increasingly finding social media to be a criminal intelligence gold mine.

Nobody's Home

Advertising one's vacation plans is like sending out a notice to criminals that your home may be unoccupied. You may have plans to have the mail picked up and even timers on the lights to make it appear that someone is home, but widely announcing that you will be gone for a week or two is an invitation for criminals to pay a visit. This can be compounded by people posting photos of all their nice belongings on other social media and by either listing their address or having loose privacy and location settings that reveal exactly where the photos were taken. These posts not only tell criminals that the house is vacant, but also show what is worth stealing and where the house is.

Unfortunately, with the explosion of social media, more people are increasingly, and unwittingly, providing this information to anyone who is watching. I have seen colleagues who have thousands of followers on Twitter (and certainly they do not know all of them) announce they are not home by posting that they have arrived in airport X or announce that they are going to attend a conference in city Y for a week. They even tag the locations they are posting from. When I see such a post, I grit my teeth because I imagine a criminal thanking them for the information that their house is vacant or that their wife and small children are now home alone. If one wants to share these details on social media, it is far better to do so after the fact rather than before or during travel.

*** The logic of India’s response to China

Harsh V. Pant

For India, there is only one option regarding the Doklam standoff: standing up to China resolutely to protect its core interests

Amid the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam area in the Sikkim sector, national security adviser Ajit Doval’s visit to China has come and gone. Nothing much has changed on the ground. Beijing continues to harangue and wage its psychological warfare, sometimes by reminding India of 1962 and sometimes by suggesting that countermeasures from Beijing would be unavoidable if the Narendra Modi government continues to ignore the Chinese warnings. Chinese officials even went to the extent of informing a visiting Indian media delegation that Bhutan has conveyed to Beijing through diplomatic channels that the area of the standoff is not its territory though, of course, no evidence for this claim was provided. Thimphu later denied these claims. 

China is also provoking India by asking what New Delhi would do if it “enters” Kalapani region in Uttarakhand or at some place in Kashmir. This is the first time that the issue of Kashmir has been raked up by China at the official level. “The Indian side has also many tri-junctions. What if we use the same excuse and enter the Kalapani region between China, India and Nepal or even into the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan,” Wang Wenli, deputy director general of the boundary and ocean affairs of China’s ministry of foreign affairs, said. 

*** China wants war with India, make no mistake


As the Doklam standoff drags on, China continues its sabre rattling against India. It has threatened to teach a bigger lesson to India than it did in 1962 when it carried out a surprise trans-Himalayan invasion just when the world faced the spectre of a nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis between the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Today, China’s warmongering against India is occurring at a time when another missile crisis is haunting international security — North Korea’s threat to target America’s Gaum island territory with ballistic missiles


But while China was not involved in the Cuban missile crisis, it is central today to the US strategy against North Korea. A US-North Korea military conflict could easily draw in China, which has vowed to support the hermit kingdom in the event of an American preemptive strike.

Consequently, Beijing confronts the possibility of war on two separate fronts — the Korean Peninsula and the Himalayas. This could be one reason why China thus far has not acted on its unremitting threats since June 26 to teach India a lesson.

India, however, cannot afford to be complacent. Just because Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime has not attacked India thus far does not mean that it won’t act even if it finds circumstances propitious for action.

Redrawing the arc of influence

M. K. Narayanan

Indian diplomacy needs to display higher levels of sophistication for New Delhi to play a global role

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s schedule of foreign visits has been extremely impressive, and he has managed to inject a degree of dynamism into a system accustomed to a more leisurely pace. Estimating outcomes from these visits is, however, more difficult.

Taking the two most recent visits, for example, one can easily see the contrast in outcomes. The U.S. visit was a carefully calibrated one producing few surprises, despite the U.S. President having a reputation of being highly unpredictable. For his part, the Prime Minister charted a time-tested course, concentrating mainly on counter-terrorism and the defence security partnership, avoiding contentious trade-related issues. The naming of the Hizbul Mujahedeen chief as a “specially designated global terrorist” and a “new consultation mechanism on domestic and international terrorist designations listing proposals” were the high points of the counter-terrorism agenda. Reiteration of India’s position as a major defence partner and confirmation of the sale of the Guardian Unmanned Aerial System to India, reflected the deepening security and defence cooperation.

In concrete terms, not much else took place during the visit, despite an oblique reference in the joint statement to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and reiteration of support for “freedom of navigation” in the Indo-Pacific. What was most obvious was the U.S. tilt towards transactional rather than strategic aspects.


Lt Gen SL Narasimhan (Retd)
The stand-off in Doklam is entering the third month. It is worrying to see the kind of coverage that this incident has generated. Practically, every analyst seems to have war on his mind and they have been taking lot of pleasure in painting various scenarios. Television channels have been running operational discussions and some analysts from the West have been painting war scenarios and working on games theory. It appears the whole world would be happy to see India and China go to war. Needless to say, most of the people, covering the issue, do not know the Doklam area well.

Some reporters and analysts have written about the three warfares. Readers would recall a series of articles on that subject published by Defence Aviation Post. It is quite likely that China has put into action the three warfares technique.

The frequent question that one hears everywhere in India these days is that whether there will be a war between India and China. War is a very serious business and it should not be thought of in a cavalier manner like this. Fates of countries and societies change due to wars. One does not have go far to realise this. Let us take our minds back to the 1962 War.

Though the Indian Armed Forces alone cannot be blamed for the outcome of that war, it worked on their minds in addition to that of politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats and people of India, for almost three decades. This affected the bilateral relations between India and China adversely. Thankfully, it is fading away. Similarly, the result of 1971 war is still hurting all Pakistanis. The century of fumiliation has been on the minds of the Chinese and that may be a reason for the present stand-off in Doklam.


Maj Gen Raj Kaushal (Retd)

We must not wish for a two-and-a-half front war. Let us first prepare for this eventuality and only then enter in brinkmanship

It is a matter of serious concern that senior members, representing our national security apparatus, have made some wayward statements in the recent past, which seems rather bizarre to say the least.

We have also seen the professional head of our Army talking about the present Indian stand-off with China in Doklam. He said that the Indian Army is fully prepared for a two-and-a-half front (China, Pakistan and internal security requirements simultaneously) war. What an astounding statement? But whom did the Army chief have in mind when he postulated this as a strategic dogma?

Three weeks after his statement, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesman, Col Wu Qian, called the Army chief’s statement “extremely irresponsible” and asked him to “stop clamouring for war”, and learn from “historical lessons” — an oblique reference to the 1962 war with China.

We got so peeved about the statement made by a comparatively lower rank officer that the Defence Minister entered the ring to take on Col Wu Qian. He did not let the Ministry of Defence spokesman respond.

One was also wonder struck when a very senior and sagacious leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) warned Pakistan against sponsoring terror and if not it should learn from “historical lessons” of 1971. In the prevailing geo-political and geo-strategic scenario, can we do a 1971 to Pakistan? ‘Unimaginable’ will be a short answer.

Doklam and beyond

Gen VP Malik (retd)

THE ongoing China-Bhutan-India confrontation at the Doklam grazing ground is characterised less by soldiers sitting eyeball to eyeball and more with bullying, threatening and disparaging language being used by China against India. With soldiers from both sides digging in, the consequences of this confrontation remain unpredictable.

On China’s India-specific attitude, I will start with the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Areas signed in1993. As a senior Army officer then, I was involved in discussions regarding military confidence-building measures with China, as well as advising Bhutan on the India-Bhutan-China border issues. 

Para 2 of the agreement stated: ‘The two sides agree to reduce their military forces along the LAC in conformity with the requirements of the principle of mutual and equal security to ceilings to be mutually agreed. The extent, depth, timing and nature of the reduction of the military along the LAC shall be determined through mutual consultations between the two countries. The reduction of military forces shall be carried out by stages in mutually agreed geographical locations sector-wise within the areas along the LAC.’ However, after the agreement, despite our best efforts, China backed out on the delineation or disclosure of its perception of the LAC, which had to be the start point for any troop reduction or relocation by either side. 

India’s FDI Reforms Under Modi: Once a Fountain, Now a Drip

In our July update, we reviewed the Narendra Modi government’s progress in completing a list of 30 important domestic reforms pending since May 2014. The government started fast, completing six reforms in its first year but only three more in the subsequent two years. This month we look at the Modi government’s progress in liberalizing India’s foreign investment regime. Since coming to office, the Modi government has executed 37 reforms easing India’s restrictive foreign direct investment (FDI) rules. The majority of changes to the FDI regime came in the second year of the Modi government, with relatively few reforms in years one or three.

Changes in India’s foreign investment rules are notified in two different ways: 

Press Notes: For the vast majority of sectors, FDI regulatory changes are notified through a Press Note issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). These Press Notes can also alter other types of regulations on centrally regulated sectors, such as extending the validity of industrial licenses. Some of these Press Notes, such as Press Note 12, 2015 and Press Note 5, 2016 liberalize multiple sectors simultaneously. 

Legislative Change: A small minority of FDI changes are the result of legislative action. This avenue really only applies to the insurance and pension FDI caps, which are set by legislation, and to the coal sector, where recent legislative changes allow private firms—including foreign-owned firms—to establish merchant coal operations. 

China and India are dangerously close to military conflict in the Himalayas

NEW DELHI — As nuclear posturing between North Korea and the United States rivets the world, a quieter conflict between India and China is playing out on a remote Himalayan ridge — with stakes just as high.

For the past two months, Indian and Chinese troops have faced off on a plateau in the Himalayas in tense proximity, in a dispute prompted by moves by the Chinese military to build a road into territory claimed by India’s close ally, Bhutan.

India has suggested that both sides withdraw, and its foreign minister said in Parliament that the dispute can be resolved only by dialogue.

Yet China has vociferously defended the right it claims to build a road in the Doklam area, territory it also claims.

Since the dispute began, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued an angry stream of almost daily denunciations of India and its “illegal trespass” and “recklessness,” along with demands that New Delhi withdraw its troops “if it cherishes peace.”

Incursions and scuffles between the two countries have long occurred along India and China’s 2,220-mile border — much of which remains in dispute — although the two militaries have not fired shots at each other in half a century.

Analysts say that this most recent dispute is more worrisome because it comes as relations between the two nuclear-armed powers are declining, with China framing the issue as a direct threat to its territorial integrity. For the first time, such a conflict involves a third country — the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

Analysis: Taliban propagandists release ‘open letter’ to President Trump

The Taliban has published an “open letter” to President Donald Trump, urging him to “adopt the strategy of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan instead of a troops increase.” The letter was clearly penned with the Trump administration’s ongoing debate over the war in Afghanistan in mind.

Senior administration officials have reportedly prepared several plans, ranging from a complete withdrawal to a small increase of several thousand American troops. Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, favors the latter while alternative scenarios have also been presented to the president.

President Trump has been reticent to commit additional forces, as he would then take ownership of the longest war in America’s history. The Taliban obviously knows this and is trying to influence the debate inside the US.

But readers should keep in mind that the new letter is propaganda and should be read as such. The letter is laced with erroneous and self-serving statements. And some of its key points, crafted for Western readers, are contradicted by the facts.

Allied with al Qaeda, which exports terrorism around the globe

The Taliban describes itself as a “mercy for Afghanistan, [the] region and the world because the Islamic Emirate does not have any intention or policy of causing harm to anyone and neither will it allow others to use the Afghan soil against anyone.”

Lashkar-e-Taiba Wreaks Havoc in South Asia, Threatens the U.S.


While much of the United States’ attention in South Asia has centered on battling al Qaeda, ISIS, the Haqqani network, and the Afghan Taliban, several other militant organizations, most notably Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), consistently wreak havoc in the region and directly threaten U.S. interests and security. Although LeT does not have the notoriety of ISIS and al Qaeda, it has previously attempted to strike the U.S. homeland and continues to keep America squarely in sights.

“LeT is arguably the most capable South Asia-based group when it comes to international terrorism,” Stephen Tankel, assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University, told The Cipher Brief. “Its ability to threaten the U.S. homeland directly, i.e. to execute its own terrorist attack, is probably higher than any other group in South Asia.”

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which literally translates to “army of the pure,” was formed in the early 1990s as the militant wing of the prominent Pakistani Islamist organization Markaz al-Dawa-Wal-Irshad – a group that was established in 1986 – and later sent fighters to aid the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. Under the guidance of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, known as the ISI, LeT shifted its focus to attacking Indian targets both in the disputed Kashmir region and in India itself. In essence, LeT operates as an extension of the ISI and has evolved into Pakistan’s proxy in Kashmir, similar to the role that the Haqqani network has assumed in Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, Vulnerability Is the Price of Independence

By Kamran Bokhari

There has been one geopolitical constant in South Asia since British colonial rule ended there in 1947: the bitter rivalry between India and Pakistan. On Aug. 14, Pakistan celebrated its 70th year as an independent nation state. India marked its own independence one day later. Both countries indulged in the usual festivities: parades, flags, fireworks and other expressions of patriotism. But when it comes to one another, patriotism bleeds into nationalism and suspicion of the other.

In some ways, this is the natural outcome of the cataclysm that was the partition of India. When the British Raj was split into the states that became India and Pakistan, it triggered a massive migration; 12 million people traversed the newly drawn border, in both directions, to reach their new country. Nearly a million didn’t survive, many falling victim to a terrible episode of communal violence.

Seventy years later, there are few people alive in either country who witnessed these events, but that hasn’t stopped the partition from shaping the national identities of both countries. Competing recollections of partition inform the national psyche and narratives that are taught to children on both sides of the border. Why partition happened is itself the subject of great debate.

Sri Lanka, China and Hambantota


Sri Lankans still hope to get jobs and incomes from Trinco development plans — it has not happened in the case of Hambantota.

In signing off around 70 per cent of the Hambantota Port holdings to a front company of the Chinese Government, as against the originally proposed 80 per cent, the Maithiri-Ranil leadership has done more than what predecessor President Mahinda Rajapaksa had done in his time. Whatever little might have been left open then have been sealed, and for good, and in China’s favour.

Incumbent Ministers defending the present ‘split-agreement’, with one company with controlling stakes for Sri Lanka in port administration and security continue to talk to and in the air as the Rajapaksa aides, if at all, did in their long years in office. The fact is that successive governments have surrendered before the emerging Chinese hegemony (?) in the region, replacing what India-baiters in Sri Lanka loved to call as ‘Indian hegemony’.

After presiding over the Cabinet meeting that cleared the twin-pacts, President Sirisena’s camp has claimed that he got a new, enabling clause for future amendment(s) incorporated and got it accepted by the Chinese side. He has also since claimed that the government will do nothing that would compromise the nation’s ‘sovereignty and dignity’.

Put China’s Intellectual Property Theft in a Larger Context

China competes unfairly in international trade, it has long-standing policies to extract intellectual property (IP) from Western companies, and its companies often show scant respect for IP protection. Confronting China over these practices is long overdue, but the central issue is not IP theft but the unfair treatment of U.S. companies in China.

Calculating the value of intellectual property is difficult. One way is to estimate what stolen IP would fetch on the market if offered for sale or licensing. Companies can value their intellectual property by estimating the income it produces or is expected to produce. The most common error is to value IP at what was paid to develop it. The real value (and hence the cost of IP theft) is how much a product made with the IP will fetch on the market. If I spend a billion dollars to develop a square car tire, its market value is zero, not a billion, and the loss from IP theft is zero. Similarly, if I steal IP and can’t figure out how to make a product with it, the loss from the theft is zero.

The most accurate measure is to look for competing products. If there aren’t any, the harm to the victim is zero. A country could steal “$600 billion” in IP and not gain $600 billion in value. Can we point to products made in China with stolen IP? This explains the difficulty China has faced in its efforts to create a domestic semiconductor industry. Making high-tech products requires “know-how” that can’t be obtained by stealing IP. At the high end, there are products in telecom hardware, high-speed trains, and solar power. Copies of designs for consumer goods—furniture, toys, clothing—do real damage to Western companies. However, these losses, while troubling and harmful are not the issue anymore, and IP theft does not explain China’s advances in technology.

A Powerful China Won’t Respect India

China’s harsh language over a border standoff shows it has no intention of treating India as an equal.

As India’s Himalayan border standoff with China enters its third month, one thing has become glaringly obvious: Beijing has no intention of treating New Delhi as an equal. Belligerent official statements and bellicose articles in Chinese state-run media suggest that, in “Game of Thrones” parlance, President Xi Jinping expects Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “bend the knee.”

The standoff dates to June when Indian troops entered a plateau claimed by both China and the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to block the Chinese from upgrading and extending a rudimentary road. From India’s perspective, China’s road building on disputed territory looks a lot like its construction of islands in the South China Sea—an attempt to create military advantage by building infrastructure.

Indian analysts fear that the roadwork would make it easier for China to cut off the so-called chicken’s neck, a narrow strip of land that links northeastern India to the rest of the country. Since India has a close treaty relationship with Bhutan, Indian officials play down the unusual step of intervening in a territorial dispute where technically India isn’t a disputant.