19 January 2017


Wednesday, 18 January 2017 | Deepak Sinha
The only viable option for the Modi Government is to go back to the status quo ante as it existed before the Third Pay Commission started tinkering with the issue of civil-military parity. But sooner or later, the Government must take initiatives to move ahead in this direction
When is a scam not a scam? The short answer obviously would be, when it is approved by the Government in power. But then, the question arises: Is that necessarily true?

Take the case of the Non Functional Financial Upgrade or NFFU. Introduced by the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC), it allows for the grant of a higher pay scale on non-functional basis to the All India and Organised Group ‘A’ Services till Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) and Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) level after a gap of two years compared to an IAS officer of the same batch, who is posted at the Centre at the SAG or HAG level.
This promotion was independent of organisational requirements, availability of vacancies and level of responsibility or span of control of a post.

In simple terms, it implied that when an IAS officer from a particular batch (a batch includes everyone who joins service the same year) was promoted to a certain rank, all batch-mates from Group A Central Services automatically started drawing the same pay scale two years after that individuals promotion.
Thus, even as those officials continue to discharge their earlier functions, they are upgraded to the higher pay grade of their IAS batch-mate. Effectively, this has meant that every central services officer makes it to top pay grades, albeit with a two-year time lag behind the IAS.
It goes without saying that such a system is contrary to all principles of management and completely without precedent anywhere in the world, in either the Government or the corporate sector.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017 | Ashok K Mehta |
Gen Bipin Rawat’s announcement of a grievance mechanism is unlikely to be a hit. Rather, the institutionalised feedback system of units must be gingered up and greater time and energy must be spent on feeling the pulse
Last Sunday, on the 69th Army day, All India Radio invited me to two back-to-back programmes, ‘Sandesh to Soldiers’ (S2S) and ‘Challenges facing the Army’. I was introduced as a veteran who had fought in the wars of 1965 and 1971, participated in peace-keeping operations in Congo and Sri Lanka and served on the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — this reflecting the uniqueness and versatility of the Army deployed from Siachen to Thiruvananthapuram and from Sopore to Car Nicobar.
Of the 87 martyrs in 2016, 60 belong to the Infantry and nine were officers from across the Army. These figures showcase the ground reality and that fighting forces are led from the front by officers. The S2S was an awe-inspiring inaugural launch whose centrepiece was the sacred pledge taken by a soldier on joining. It highlights command: Obedience of orders of the President of India or to whichever superior officer he delegates the authority, even if in carrying out the orders he has to sacrifice his life. No other Government servant similarly puts his life on the line.

I placed this oath of allegiance in the context of the epic Field Marshal Chetwode motto, guiding the officers graduating from the Indian Military Academy that: ‘The safety and honour of your country comes first always and every time; the safety, honour and welfare of the men under your command come next; your own safety, honour and welfare come last always and every time’. It is this time-tested officer-soldier bonding, the hallmark of the Indian Army, which as social media has shown last week, may be fraying.

Civic and policy lessons from Bandhan

‘Bandhan: The Making Of A Bank’ by Tamal Bandyopadhyay is an engrossing tale of detail, of transformation of a simple not-for-profit activity into a full-fledged bank

Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, founder of Bandhan, is a man worthy of emulation by the country’s political leaders. 

With much debate going on as to whether the currency swap exercise was an attack only on corruption or if it was directed at corruption and black money that included informal economic activity, it was a good time to read the engaging book Bandhan: The Making Of A Bank by Tamal Bandyopadhyay (consulting editor at Mint and adviser to Bandhan Bank). It was an engrossing tale of detail, of transformation of a simple not-for-profit activity into a full-fledged bank. Indeed, it is a Bengal success story of entrepreneurship, passion and, more importantly, of a “take no prisoners” attitude. Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, founder of Bandhan, is a man worthy of emulation by the country’s political leaders.

Two or three important personal and policy lessons come through rather well from the story of Bandhan. One is Ghosh’s insistence on performance and non-negotiability on certain parameters of discipline such as punctuality. The grace time of 10 minutes he had given for arrival in office after 9am was removed after it became the baseline. Through several instances, he comes across as a man who does not have much tolerance for non-performance or under-performance.
Taking a cue from Ghosh, the Prime Minister can drive home at least two civic messages in his monthly radio addresses to the nation. Maintaining discipline on roads—such as obeying traffic lights and rules—is one. The second is punctuality or, more generally, respect for others’ time. These simple things are the hallmarks of development—not gross domestic product driven by debt accumulation.

Why Russia must come clean on its Pakistan policy

Instead of boosting bilateral military cooperation, Russia and Pakistan should focus on less visible, but more important fields of partnership, to start with formulating the roadmap for bilateral relations, and facilitating trade between them.
Russian and Pakistani servicemen during Friendship-2016 joint military drills. Source: mil.ru
Since the collapse of the USSR there has been no reason for Cold War-era foes Russia and Pakistan to avoid each other. The decision to facilitate cooperation between Russia and Pakistan was long expected.
It was made only recently, and resulted in the visit of the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu to Islamabad in 2014. After that both countries passed a number of milestones.
Shoygu signed an agreement on military cooperation. The two countries agreed on delivery of four Mi-35M Hind-E combat helicopters.

On Sept. 26-Oct. 10 Russia and Pakistan held their first-ever joint tactical exercises titled Friendship-2016 at the special forces training centre in Pakistan’s Cherat located in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It has been already confirmed by the Russian Land Forces Command, that there will be a second joint exercise in 2017.
Economic ties between Russia and Pakistan are not so good. In their statistical data the governments of both countries mention each other under the word “others.” Bilateral trade volume between Russia and Pakistan decreased in 2015 by 13 per cent and reached $395 million (as compared to $453 million in 2014).
Yet in 2015, the governments of Russia and Pakistan signed an agreement on cooperation in the construction of the ‘North-South’ gas pipeline (from Karachi to Lahore). This agreement may help both countries to boost the bilateral trade with the Russian investment of $2 billion in the project.

Raheel’s Saudi role to backfire on Pak?

Published : Jan 18, 2017, 
The move to avoid joining IMAFT initially was driven by internal considerations.
In the background of the bitter slugfest between the politicos and military men in Pakistan, the ease with which former Chief of Pakistani Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif demitted office raised many eyebrows. Earlier, rumour mills were rife from a possible extension, “field marshalship” to even popular support for a military takeover for the then COAS. Defying the widespread public sentiments and the precedents of “extension” set in motion for the last 18 years with the previous two COAS extending their terms beyond the stipulated timelines — Gen. Sharif stepped down in a civil, unhurried and confident manner on November 29. The possible reason for the seamless “hanging up of boots” perhaps lay in the supposed Pakistani quid pro quo where the Saudi Arabia-grateful government of Nawaz Sharif bought peace with the general in return for sovereign acquiescence to the Saudi kingdom’s earlier request soliciting Gen. Sharif’s services in heading the 39-country Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT).
Gen. Sharif has impressive credentials in handling terrorism — he was leading the Pakistani establishment’s counter-fightback with its own Frankenstein monster, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban), while on the other hand as the overall head of the infamous ISI he was privy to machinations of its nefarious terror networks. From spearheading Operation Zarb-e-Azb in the lawless North Waziristan to his Atlas-like persona playing out on the mean streets of urban Karachi, to controlling rural banditry in the dustbowls of Sindh — the superhero of Pakistan’s fight against terror makes him a logical candidate to head such a coalition to fight international terror. Besides, Pakistan has the largest standing Army in the Muslim world (0.6 million, sixth largest in the world), arguably the most professional within the ummah, and nuclear to boot — not surprisingly, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi defence minister and founder of IMAFT, had sought the additional coronation of Gen. Sharif as head of IMAFT, to his concurrent responsibility as Pakistani COAS. This was earlier turned down by Prime Minister Sharif owing to the impracticalities of managing dual responsibilities and the initial scepticism of Pakistan towards the obvious “sectarian” construct of IMAFT.

*** Martin van Creveld warns us about Syria

Summary: Martin van Creveld is one of the top experts on modern war. That means non-trinitarian war, more commonly known as fourth generation war (4GW). Today he gives a typically brilliant briefing on the war in Syria, more similar to the Thirty Years War than anything in recent history. While a tiny and poor nation. Syria has become a focal point for the many conflicts twisting our world. We ignored his warnings about Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s not do so a third time.

“What you understand well, you can explain briefly.”

— Paraphrase from “The Art of Poetry” by Nicolas Boileau (1674).

Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the English Channel on 21 Oct 2016.

We Shall Win This War, and Then We Shall Get Out.

By Martin van Creveld.

Re-posted with his generous permission.

No, this is not Vladimir Putin speaking. This is Winston Churchill, not long after returning to power in 1951. The context? The conflict in Malaysia, which at the time had been ongoing for three years with no end in sight. The immediate outcome? The war came to an end and the Brits left. The ultimate outcome? To this day, whenever anyone suggests that brushfire war, alias guerrilla, alias people’s war, alias low intensity war, alias nontrinitarian war, alias fourth-generation war (currently, thanks to my friend Bill Lind, the most popular term of all) is beyond the ability of modern state-owned armed forces to handle, someone else is bound to ask: but how about the British in Malaysia?



The 21st century is still just a teenager, but we can already forecast with a fair degree of confidence what its demographic profile will look like by 2050.

Population growth will have slowed down. Global aging will have risen to unprecedented levels. Birthrates will drop. The working-age share of the world’s population will shrink. Poverty will ameliorate in poor countries; income inequality will worsen in wealthy ones. And for the first time ever, Islam will challenge Christianity as the world’s largest religion.

What’s notable about these disparate trends is how much they are interrelated. They’re driven not just by the traditional demographic triad of births-deaths-and-migration, but by myriad powerful new forces that define modernity — from the empowerment of women, to improvements in health care, to the information and technology revolutions, to the concurrent rise of secularization and religious fundamentalism.

However, the fact that they are connected does not mean they are universal. Beneath the broad umbrella of global demographic change, there will be sharp variances across regions (and sometimes within countries).

** Trump Might Cause ‘the Death of Think Tanks as We Know Them’

By The Washington Post

For decades, Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments and avenues of influence for sponsors of their research. Donald Trump’s incoming administration is bent on breaking that model.

Trump’s appointments have so far have been heavy on business executives and former military leaders. Transition sources tell me the next series of nominations — deputy-level officials at top agencies — will also largely come from business rather than the think tank or policy communities. For example, neither the American Enterprise Institute’s John Bolton nor the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass is likely to be chosen for deputy secretary of state, while hedge fund manager David McCormick is on the shortlist. Philip Bilden, a private equity investment firm executive with no government experience, is expected to be named secretary of the Navy.

The president-elect favors people who have been successful in the private sector and amassed personal wealth over those who have achieved prominence in academic or policy fields. Those close to him, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors.


Wikistrat, LLC

Background: Aleppo has fallen and with it the last shreds of credibility of President Obama’s policy on Syria. None of Obama’s policy goals for Syria since the Arab Spring revolt were achieved. In Syria, the Assad regime has crushed western-backed opposition fighters with direct Russian and Iranian military ground support; the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still controls swaths of Syrian territory[1] and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally Turkey has conspired with Iran and Russia to exclude the U.S. and UN[2] from Syrian settlement talks.

Significance: While Syria itself is of little strategic value to the U.S. beyond secondary implications for Israeli security, the utter failure of the Obama administration has brought U.S. diplomatic prestige to a nadir reminiscent of the Iranian hostage crisis or the fall of Saigon. Worse, defeat in Syria occurred in a broader context of successful Russian aggression in Ukraine, uncontested Russian meddling in an U.S. presidential election, and perceptions of U.S. strategic concessions to Tehran in the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA[3]). Should the next administration want to accomplish more than Obama, it is vital that they 1) address Syria within the context of increased Russian-U.S. competition and 2) seize the initiative in restoring the influence of U.S. leadership with substantive and symbolic policy changes in regard to Syria and Russia.

The integration of military and civilian development

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The integration of military and civilian development

I recently mentioned the new roads being built in Western Tibet (Ngari) towards the Indian border (G564 and G565).
But that is not all.
According to Kangba TV, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has created a basic integrated transport network, with a total road mileage of 82,500 km, five airports, 71 domestic and international airlines, as well as the Qinghai-Tibet and Lhasa-Shigatse railway lines.
During a press conference, Sonam Chophel, director of the TAR transport department asserted: “Transport is the key role in economic development. Therefore, in order to break the bottleneck of economic development, we need to have good transport.”
Sonam Chopel also said, “In 2016, TAR has attracted a total investment and bank loan of 54.6 billion yuan [for infrastructure]. 44 key road projects are under construction.”
The TAR has spent 8.5 billion yuan in railway projects in 2016, and 7.5 billion yuan were used on the Tibet section Sichuan-Tibet Railway.
With the arrival of Che Dralha at the helm of the TAR government, this trend will probably accelerate, as one of his objectives is to develop tourism on a large scale.
China Tibet Online further announced that “the highest ring road is being built”.
With six lanes, the road will circle around Lhasa city. It will have a total length of 100km; it will include seven tunnels and 27 overpasses.
Once the road is opened in June, the drive around the capital city will only take two hours.

Loyalty to the core
On January 11, Wu Yingjie, Secretary of the TAR Party Committee, met a delegation of senior officers of the People’s Armed Police on the side of the Regional People’s Congress. 
Lt Gen Xu Yong, the Commander of the Tibet Military Region was in attendance.
It is said that the atmosphere is very warm. 
Wu asked the officers to pledge “absolute loyalty to the party under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, with the unselfish support of the people of the whole country.”
He urged the attendees to “consolidate the good situation of sustained harmony and stability, to maintain sound and rapid economic and social development and to achieve the objectives of the 13th Five-Year Plan.”

* Invading China, One Trade Dispute At A Time

-- this post authored by Matthew Bey

The divide between domestic politics and geopolitics can be a hard one to bridge. Partisan politics and pageantry can get in the way of a country's underlying geopolitical imperatives, driving policies that undermine or contradict them outright. The tension between national and international politics is on full display as the United States prepares to inaugurate Donald Trump as its 45th president.
Throughout Trump's campaign and subsequent transition, voters, commentators and observers in the United States and beyond have scrambled to square his proposed policies with the geopolitical constraints they will encounter. Many of Trump's campaign pledges centered on retooling the United States' trade partnerships, for instance by renegotiating NAFTA or scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. The United States' trade ties with China have been the object of Trump's most vehement criticisms; the president-elect has even proposed a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese goods to correct the apparent disparity in the bilateral relationship.

Although Trump is unlikely to follow through with such a drastic measure, he is nonetheless poised to take a much harder line on trade with China. The next four years will almost certainly bring more investigations into China's export and domestic policies and more aggressive interpretations of World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations and U.S. law over Beijing's practices. But China and the United States are on diverging paths. While the United States is turning its focus inward, Beijing is trying to exert its influence as a global leader. In fact, on Jan. 17, President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. To achieve its desired results with China, the Trump administration will have to pry into and challenge Beijing's own economic policies.
Taking a More Aggressive Approach


Shantanu Mukharji

The Hindus in the neighbouring country reel under a sense of fear and insecurity. Their plight calls for urgent redressal involving political wisdom and mature judgement. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina must ensure their safety and security sooner than later

Recently, vandals desecrated at least 20 Hindu idols and three temples in Jamai bazar area in Tungipara of Gopalganj district of Bangladesh. Coincidentally, Tungipara is the spot where the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is resting, whose daughter Sheikh Hasina, is today, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, who is generally perceived to be secular and pro-minority.

Despite this, if the Hindus continue to incur the wrath of the fundamentalist majority community, it’s a discouraging trend, not only because Hasina has a massive Hindu vote-bank returning her to power each time, but also because the Hindus’ safety and security remains a critical concern with long-term implications, possibly adversely affecting India.

Other than this, the Tungipara incident of excesses on Hindus, from September 27, 2016, onwards, there have been consistent attacks on them and their temples. During Kali puja, in Habiganj district, many idols of godesses were smashed. There were reports of grabbing of Hindu property through the notorious Shahadat Vahini, terrorising the minority community, forcing them to abandon their estates and flee to India.

** Beijing Spins a Web of Chinese Infrastructure


BEIJING—As the U.S., U.K. and others hit pause on globalization, China is flexing its economic muscle with an ambitious infrastructure-building spree that would connect up to a third of the world’s people.

In recent years, Beijing has set up a range of institutions and groupings that are being mobilized to promote China’s interests—from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to separate regional development investment forums from Latin America and the Middle East to Central and Eastern Europe.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has pushed a more forward-leaning foreign policy than his recent predecessors, has used recent global summits to call for freer trade and urge against protectionism. He is expected to reiterate the message in a keynote speech Tuesday at the World Economic Forum.

Mr. Xi’s—and China’s—biggest calling card is the mega-infrastructure Silk Road initiative, also known in China as One Belt, One Road, which envisions building railways, ports, roads, dams, pipelines and industrial corridors across dozens of countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.

China's Very First Nuclear Attack Submarines Had Some Major Fatal Flaws

Kyle Mizokami

In 1974, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) accepted delivery of the country’s first nuclear-powered submarine. Long a cherished goal of Chairman Mao himself, the design was initially a disappointment. Despite their less than ideal performance, the Type 091 Han-class submarines will ultimately be remembered as Asia’s first indigenously produced nuclear attack submarines.

According to historian Benjamin Lai, author of The Dragon’s Teeth, China first expressed interest in developing nuclear missile submarines as early as 1958. The project then stalled for several years, a period coinciding with the Great Leap Forward, but was revived in 1965. Beijing ultimately decided on a more pragmatic approach, building an attack submarine first and only then a missile submarine. The reasoning was that to produce an attack submarine, China would only need to master the reactor technology to be successful, while a nuclear ballistic missile submarine required mastery of the reactor, a missile and the underwater launch system.

The Hunt for Russia's Next Enemy

Editor's Note: The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's board of contributors, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought. Their opinions are their own and serve to complement and even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.

Alexander III, the conservative Russian emperor who ruled from 1881 to 1894, once famously remarked to his ministers that Russia has only two allies: its army and its navy. "The others," he said, "will go against us at the first opportunity."
Russian President Vladimir Putin recalled these words in a 2015 speech, adding that he quite agreed with them. At the time, Putin held every card he needed to point to the West and proclaim that the world stood against Russia, leaving it with only its forces for protection. But as the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump moves to embrace Russia and question the West's assumptions about NATO — just as the Europeans have begun to look for warmer ties to the east — Russia's diplomatic environment has started to change. And one thing Putin certainly understands, as Alexander III did, is the Russian government's need for an external enemy. This raises the question: In the new strategic environment that is emerging, who will that enemy be?
Replacing a Longtime Rival
For a century, with the exception of a few brief moments, the United States has been Russia's main adversary. After all, blaming the Americans for all of Russia's woes was a matter of convenience: The Kremlin simply fanned the flames of hatred, keeping its population's attention fixed far from the problems unfolding inside its borders.
But for the most part, Russia considers Trump a friend — at least from my vantage point in Moscow. During the presidential primaries, Russia's state-run television stations enthusiastically praised him, almost as if we Russians were preparing to vote for him, rather than the Americans. Many parts of the country — including the Kremlin, judging by its forgiving response to Washington's recent expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats — have since celebrated his victory.

The pragmatist’s pivot to India

Shashank Joshi

While Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s death comes as a blow to Iran’s reformists, the template of Tehran-New Delhi ties established during his presidency is likely to endure geopolitical shifts

The death of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on January 8 was a landmark for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rafsanjani was a pivotal figure in the country’s path since the 1979 revolution: a founding father, a military leader in the war with Iraq, and twice President. More parochially, his presidency also saw a historic shift in ties with India, laying the groundwork for the cooperation that has unfolded, haltingly, over the past 20 years.

From radical to moderate

Rafsanjani’s two nicknames, “Akbar Shah” and “the shark”, convey his blend of power, cunning, and adaptability. His funeral last week drew more than two million people, comparable only to that of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. But in his most recent political incarnation, Rafsanjani was also a source of support for Iran’s beleaguered reformists. The man who had helped elevate Ali Khamenei after Khomeini’s death, presided over an assassination spree of dissidents at home and in Europe, refused to lift the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, and was famously, fabulously, corrupt — this same man became, in the final decade of his life, a totem of pragmatism, moderation, and reform.

*** Stratfor Predicts that the Islamic State Will Rot From Within

Summary: Remember the hysteria in 2014-15 about the Islamic State? Our geopolitical experts debated whether they would be stopped at Cairo, Paris, or Chicago. Fast forward to today, where Stratfor predicts the rapid decay of ISIS. But even after it fades to irrelevance, a Jihad 3.0 will arise.
The Islamic State in 2017: Rotting From the Outside In
By Scott Stewart at Stratfor, 12 January 2017.

The Islamic State has entered into a slow decline that will continue throughout 2017. After its inception, the group energized the jihadist movement and drew thousands of enthusiastic foreign fighters by announcing the creation of a caliphate and assuring its followers that the end of the world was near. This enabled the Islamic State to rapidly amass manpower and capabilities — at least at first. But both time and geography have worked against the organization since its initial proclamation of a caliphate and an impending apocalypse.

Despite the Islamic State’s frequent and pointed criticism of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the group has roughly followed the plan al-Zawahiri laid out in a 2005 letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was then the head of the Islamic State’s predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq. Nevertheless, there are significant differences between the timeline al Qaeda and the Islamic State have set for that plan’s execution. As we noted last week, al Qaeda argues that the caliphate can be established only after the United States and its European allies have been defeated so thoroughly that they can no longer interfere in Muslim lands, having lost either the ability or desire to do so.

Don’t let messengers shoot themselves

JANUARY 18, 2017 
How India treats its armed forces is rarely revealed by soldiers at the lowest ranks. Little attention is paid to serious concerns about the systems of military justice. While delays in the judicial system are notorious, delays for the armed forces can turn fatal in the form of suicide and fratricide (also called “fragging” — where a serviceman kills his brothers-in-arms). Answers in the Rajya Sabha and to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, from 2003-2013 (data for some years are missing), state that there have been at least 1,666 suicides in the armed forces and 109 cases of fratricide.

How to use superpowers

“THE world is a mess,” observed Madeleine Albright this week at a gathering of men and women who have, between them, witnessed every crisis to buffet American national security for 40 years. That crisp summary by the former secretary of state prompted bipartisan agreement at a “Passing the Baton” conference organised by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC, on January 9th and 10th.

The meeting featured future leaders of Donald Trump’s national security team, their predecessors from the Obama government and—gamely emerging from post-election seclusion—folk who would have filled some of the same posts under Hillary Clinton. However, once participants began to ponder the ways in which the world is messy, agreement gave way to revealing divisions. On one side stood Republican and Democratic ex-ambassadors, officials, generals and academics who do not cheer a world in disarray. They see the rise of iron-fisted nationalists in China, Russia and Turkey, and fear that democracy’s post-cold-war march is over. They contemplate the fragility of international pacts, organisations and alliances and wonder if the rules-based order founded by America after the second world war will survive. On the other stand leading members of Team Trump, who call today’s global turbulence an exciting chance to reshape international relations to suit America.

* The Intersection of Cyber and Nuclear War

January 17, 2017
Cyber technology is making the hunt for mobile missiles faster, cheaper, and better. This upsets nuclear stability because it opens the door to accurate strikes with conventional or nuclear weapons on the backbone deterrent systems of the second nuclear age, namely, mobile missiles. The consequences of this technological shift are many: an increase in the benefit of shooting first; more nervous, reactive intelligence tightly coupled to offensive forces; and arms races as attacker and defender go through cycles of measure and countermeasure.
The change also has far reaching consequences for stability and world order. It blurs the line between conventional and nuclear war, since even conventional attacks could disarm a country’s nuclear deterrent. It also undermines minimum deterrence strategies because states cannot have high confidence in the deterrent effect of small nuclear forces. The obvious counter is to get more missiles to ensure retaliation, and this means larger arsenals.

To understand the destabilizing consequences here all one has to do is surf the web to look at the weapon of choice in the second nuclear age: mobile missiles, mounted on trucks, trailers, and special launchers. Cyber war can make many routine military operations—like finding high value targets—more efficient. But the understandable desire for efficiency can produce strategic effects that are inherently unpredictable. They can also lead to changes in power balances. In business, for example, Amazon used cyber to streamline package delivery. But this led to shifting the balance of power in retail businesses more widely. Malls were shuttered as shoppers flock to web sites rather than crowded parking lots. Moreover, prices change much more quickly, as on-line sales give minute by minute sales data.

Squirrel 'threat' to critical infrastructure

17 January 2017 
The real threat to global critical infrastructure is not enemy states or organisations but squirrels, according to one security expert.
Cris Thomas has been tracking power cuts caused by animals since 2013.
Squirrels, birds, rats and snakes have been responsible for more than 1,700 power cuts affecting nearly 5 million people, he told a security conference.
He explained that by tracking these issues, he was seeking to dispel the hype around cyber-attacks.
His Cyber Squirrel 1 project was set up to counteract what he called the "ludicrousness of cyber-war claims by people at high levels in government and industry", he told the audience at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington.
Squirrels topped the list with 879 "attacks", followed by:
birds - 434
snakes - 83
raccoons - 72
rats - 36
martens - 22

*** Indian soldiers venting on Facebook: Are they failing the army, or has the army failed them?

Kamaldeep Singh Sandhu

I remember meeting a veteran officer at his course reunion at the Indian Military Academy a few years ago. Let’s call him Colonel Not Happy Singh. Besides the normal complaints about his stay, for which he rang up everyone, from the garrison engineer to the commandant, he also recalled, with a lot of pain, his time at the academy.

He had joined the academy as a direct entry officer cadet and many senior cadets (especially graduates of the National Defence Academy) routinely stole his swimming trunks, socks, and PT jersey. Many of his veteran course mates tried to make him understand the way the universe worked in a military academy and what larger cosmic act had conspired behind those mischiefs. He failed to understand and, thus, refused get over it. Military training is a social construct designed to break the civil routine of a recruit and re-mould him/her. 

Military training is a social construct designed to break the civil routine of a recruit and re-mould him/her according to the requirements of the armed forces. It comes as a culture shock to most recruits. They adapt at their own pace. Some get on with it rapidly; others take a little longer. Some like Colonel Not Happy Singh never do.



Over the last decade, would-be adversaries have been busy acquiring and fielding capabilities to preclude U.S. and allied forces from freely operating around the world. This buildup of military capabilities in the Pacific, Europe, and even in Syria and Iran, poses a complex operational problem for U.S. and allied forces across a range of missions, including in the fight for control of the air. Losing the ability to operate freely at the tactical and operational level has strategic-level impacts. If we do not respond to this trend, we will ultimately lose the ability to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries in conventional conflicts. Having a credible ability to attack an enemy – especially those enemy capabilities that threaten our homeland or our deployed forces – is essential to regaining and retaining the ability to achieve strategic success.

The second installment of this series explained how the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team (ECCT) attempted to solve this problem and bridge the air superiority gaps facing the U.S. Air Force in 2030. While none of our original four frameworks would suffice in the face of expected future threats, we did learn several key lessons from our analysis. We learned that while modernization of current forces alone could not solve the 2030 problem, key upgrades could keep this force relevant at the operational level and increase its overall fighting capacity. We learned that increased reliance on stand-off weapons would be technically feasible if we could figure out how to provide the right degree of targeting information. We learned that capabilities with persistence, range, and survivability were key. And, perhaps most instructively, we learned that the Air Force needs to move from an air domain-centric perspective to one that complements our air assets with cyberspace- and space-based capabilities.

HARSH TRUTH Inside Ike’s Farewell Warning: The Military Industrial Complex


With just days until he would hand over the reins of power to the young JFK, Dwight Eisenhower was faced with one final mission—to send his country forth with the proper guidance.

The speech had already been sent to the mimeograph machine to be copied and distributed to reporters. But sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, the president was still rewriting. Reporters who were used to Ike’s tendency to edit his speeches up until the very last minute had learned not to take the “official” version as final. Those tempted to file their stories before the actual speech risked waking up red-faced when Ike’s delivery veered off in another direction. 

At 8:30 p.m., millions of Americans would miss their Tues- day night episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Red Skelton Show, or Alfred Hitchcock Presents to watch the president bid goodbye. Earlier, some of his friends had urged him to give the address before Congress and make a big display of it. He’d replied, “No, this is the president-elect’s show. I’ll just do it quietly from the White House.” 

Ike had been at the final editing since before eight that morning, with a strong sense of purpose. In the background he could hear pounding and hammering as the inaugural parade viewing stand was erected outside. It was, he thought, like be- ing a condemned man in a cell listening to the scaffold going up. Now the hour was nearing when the final script would have to be handed to the technicians to set up the teleprompter. (As it turned out, he would bypass it that night, deciding at the last moment to keep a paper copy on his desk and to turn the pages as he read—while the teleprompter scrolled pointlessly along.) 

The Other Side of the COIN: The Russians in Chechnya

by Joss Meakins

Russian rule of Chechnya has been contested since before Pushkin’s time. The two most recent wars should be viewed in part as chapters in a historical narrative which stretches back more than two centuries. A great deal has been written about the terrible atrocities and human rights violations committed by both sides during the First and Second Chechen Wars but considerably less attention has been devoted to the study of Chechnya as an example of success in counterinsurgency. In 2014, there were 525 victims of armed conflict in the North Caucasus—341 killed and 184 wounded, while ‘the figures for 2015 are likely to be around 260 victims—about 200 killed and 50 wounded’(Vatchagaev 2016). Although such numbers are significant, they are a mere fraction of the death rate at the height of the war. According to statistics from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), 26,000 people were killed in armed conflict from 1994-1995, including 2,000 Russian servicemen (Izvestia 1995). Considering that the real figures may be much higher and that the Second Chechen War was declared to have ‘officially ended’ (BBC 2009) only in 2009, the relative peace of recent years is impressive.

Yet in spite of this, Western scholars have seemed reluctant to engage with Chechnya as a COIN success. Such hesitancy may be partly due to the extreme unpalatability of Russian tactics, as well as a sense of consternation and bewilderment at their efficacy. Russian counterinsurgency methods in Chechnya read like a checklist of ‘Bad COIN Practices’, as defined by the RAND Corporation’s ‘Counterinsurgency Scorecard’. The Russians used ‘both collective punishment and escalating repression, there was corrupt and arbitrary personalistic government rule’ (RAND 2016, p. 3) and much of the local population was swiftly alienated. These methods stand diametrically opposed to the Western fixation on ‘hearts and minds’, as framed by the 2014 US Military Counterinsurgency Manuel (FM 3-24, chapter 7.8). Numerous Western theorists have underlined the foundational importance of winning and retaining the goodwill of the indigenous population (Thompson 1966, Kitson 1971, Nagl 2005, Kilcullen 2009). David Galula presciently foreshadowed much of this theory when he stated that ‘The soldier must then be prepared to become a propagandist, a social worker, a civil engineer, a schoolteacher, a nurse, a boy scout’(Crandall 2014, p. 187).

Proposal for a Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications

The proposed Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications will increase the protection of people's private life and open up new opportunities for business. Other language versions will be available mid-February and will be accessible from this page.

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