25 January 2017

*** Weaving the Threads of a Possible Trump Doctrine

When Donald Trump takes the presidential oath of office on Friday, he will have the chance to shape a new foreign policy path for the United States with both China and Russia. (DREW ANGERER/Getty Images)

At noon on Friday in Washington, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. He enters office at a time of dynamic change, not only in U.S. political and economic life but also in the structure of the international system. At this point, how Trump plans to manage and channel changes underway within the United States is somewhat clear, at least in its broad strokes. By comparison, how his administration will approach foreign policy — whether it will follow through on some of Trump's less orthodox suggestions — is unknown. There is, as yet, no Trump Doctrine. There are threads of a worldview, and there is an understanding that Trump is not bound by the same ideological commitments as his immediate predecessors. That means that while Trump will face many of the same political, institutional and geopolitical constraints as outgoing President Barack Obama, he will face them differently and, perhaps, achieve very different ends.

Of the many unanswered questions surrounding foreign policy under Trump, few are more significant than the future of the U.S. relationships with Russia and China. For all its social and economic difficulties, Russia remains a major military power and a key force in the affairs of the world's most strategically significant regions: Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. China has likewise entered a period of economic and political uncertainty marked by slowing economic growth and a political centralization effort under President Xi Jinping. But China has the world's second-largest economy and boasts military forces that are growing increasingly capable. Though China is both much weaker and far more geographically constrained than the United States, it is the only country outside America with a plausible path to regional hegemony in the not-too-distant future. How the Trump administration engages these countries will have important implications for such pressing issues as European fragmentation, the future of NATO, the emergence of a new political order in the Middle East, America's role in the Asia-Pacific and, not least, the fates of the current governments in China and Russia.

** Robert Steele: Fixing Intel II

Robert David Steele

For just under thirty years I have been striving to re-direct the craft of intelligence away from spies and secrecy promoting war and waste, toward open sources and decision-support – generally unclassified – useful not only to the President, but to all who need decision-support.

Until Donald Trump and Mike Flynn came along, and John Brennan over-played his hand with lies of a very grand scale, I have been successfully marginalized. It remains to be seen if Donald Trump can in fact defeat the Deep State, but I for one pray that he is successful.

In 2010 Mike Flynn, today National Security Advisor to Donald Trump, published Fixing Intel I with Matt Pottinger and Paul Batchelor. That report rocked the US Intelligence Community (US IC) and because Mike Flynn was too respected to be ignored, forced the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Jim Clapper, to go through the motions of listening, first by hosting Mike Flynn in the Office of the DNI, and then by giving him the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

In 2014 Mike Flynn reached out to me and I wrote On Defense Intelligence: Seven Strikes, delivered to Chuck Hagel at home, in an effort to save his job. Flynn’s honesty clashed with the dishonesty of the White House, the “leaders” in the Department of Defense, and the US IC. Among the 65 or so flag officers I have dealt with over the years, Mike Flynn is second only to Peter Schoomaker in understanding that Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is 80-95% of the solution for creating strategic, policy, operations, and acquisition intelligence. I am delighted, not only that Mike Flynn has ended up in the White House, but that John Brennan has over-played his hand with lies on a very grand scale, to the point that Donald Trump has every reason to embrace those of us who have been critical of the secret intelligence world for decades.

The forgotten rivalry between Patel and Bose


Before the 2014 elections, supporters of the BJP used Vallabhbhai Patel as a stick to beat Jawaharlal Nehru with. More recently, they have added a new weapon, the legacy of Subhas Bose. This raises questions of ideological consistency as well as historical accuracy. Can one simultaneously affirm both Patel and Bose while denouncing Nehru? 

Only if one ignores the evidence of history. For Vallabhbhai Patel’s relationship with Subhas Bose was shot through with tension. It rapidly deteriorated after the death of Vallabhbhai’s elder brother, Vithalbhai, in 1933. Bose had nursed Vithalbhai during his last illness. In his will, the elder Patel left three-fourths of his estate to Bose, to be used ‘preferably for publicity work on behalf of India’s cause in other countries’. Vallabhbhai now cast aspersions on the authenticity of the will. A long legal battle ensued, which ended in a triumph for Vallabhbhai, with Vithalbhai’s next of kin getting the money instead of Subhas. 

Five years later, Vallabhbhai opposed Gandhi’s decision to propose Bose’s name for the presidency of the Congress. Gandhi over-ruled his objection, and Bose became president anyway. In 1939, when Bose sought a second term, Patel opposed him again. In a public statement, he warned Bose that even if he were elected, his policies would be vetted and if required vetoed by the working committee (peopled by Patel loyalists). 

Indus Waters Treaty Revisited

Amb Satish Chandra, Dean, Centre for National Security and Strategic Studies, VIF

Recognising the need to impose costs on Pakistan for its relentless export of terrorism to India the Modi government is having a relook at the Indus Waters Treaty. This move, the first of its kind by any Indian government, is also eminently desirable as the Treaty, concluded in 1960, is heavily weighted in Pakistan's favour, has been systematically used by the latter to stymie Indian projects, and, has not contributed to improved India-Pakistan ties as originally expected.

That the Treaty is unfairly weighted in Pakistan's favour is obvious as it allocates 80% of the flows of the Indus Waters to Pakistan and only 20% to India which has 40% of the catchment area. Moreover, India's use of the three western rivers, notably the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum, is severely circumscribed by many onerous limitations including the conditionality that power generation thereon shall only be through run of river plants which are far less cost effective than conventional hydro power plants. Finally, India as per the Treaty had to pay Pakistan 62 million pounds sterling for construction of replacement canal works in West Punjab. So biased a Treaty in Pakistan's favour was concluded by Nehru in the hope that it would put to rest India-Pakistan water related differences and also promote better bilateral ties. The Treaty has clearly failed miserably on both counts and, therefore, merits a revisit.

While it is common knowledge that the Treaty has not had any positive impact on India-Pakistan relations, it is not so well known that Pakistan has deliberately used its provisions in order to stall even the limited utilisation of the western rivers permitted to India under it. It has thus been raising all manner of objections to Indian projects on these rivers, and since 2005 has taken them to a neutral expert and a court of arbitration which has further accentuated project delays and added to costs.

How the British stole the Kohinoor from a child

Dominic Xavier

'I can tell you the case that hurts me the most is the one in which the little boy is forced to sign the Kohinoor over.'

'You take a mother away from a child, you surround him with grown ups speaking a different language, you tell him he must sign this over or else...'

The Kohinoor has raised more controversy in history than any other gem.

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, authors of Kohinoor: The Story of the World's Most Infamous Diamond, tell Rediff.com's Vaihayasi Pande Daniel about the diamond's complicated history and what they have learned about the notorious stone while writing the book together.

Opt for The Short Read.
When television and radio journalist Anita Anand was a pigtailed girl of five, she and her family would often visit the forbidding Tower of London.

Like all well-knit Indian immigrant families settled in Britain -- her parents arrived from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after Partition -- relatives and family friends were always popping in from India to see them.

They, of course, had to be shown around London's Patel Points. The tour was almost always exactly the same. To Madame Tussaud's to say cheese with Mahatma Gandhi. Off to the Marylebone road London Planetarium (that no longer exists) to gaze curiously at the ceiling. And then to the Tower of London on the Thames "where everyone wanted to make rude comments in front of the Kohinoor diamond!" she recalls.

That diamond was usually impossible for the wee Anita to spot. Firstly, it wasn't all that large. Inversely, the excited crowd gathered to see it was huge.

When she finally got a chance to peek at it, invariably from an adult's shoulders, with her father giving the necessary instructions -- "Not that one. Down a bit. Not that one. Left a bit" -- she could never understand what the fuss was about, given in the same jewel case there was the tennis ball-sized Cullinan diamond.

Trouble for India as Pakistan terror groups join hands with Islamic State, Taliban in Afghanistan

Recent reports also indicate that Jaish founder Maulana Masood Azhar is unwell, and possibly dying. Image credit: IANS

When a militant attack on Nagrota in Jammu unfolded late in November, senior Indian intelligence officials were keeping a close watch on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The Army had been provided with intelligence inputs that the Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terror outfit, had planned simultaneous attacks against Indian targets. According to the intelligence, while one attack was planned on a “high value military target” in the “Jammu region”, the other target was the Indian consulate in Afghanistan.

When India received intelligence of the impending attacks, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval wrote to General Dalbir Singh, then the Army chief, asking him to alert the lower formations in the Jammu region. However, the exact details of the target were not known, and the attack went through. For reasons not known, the attack on the Indian consulate did not take place. However, both threats were a part of a larger and a potent new threat to Indian interests.

Danger ahead

The Nagrota attack, as well as the one on the Pathankot Air Force station last January, pointed to a worrying phenomenon never seen in the Indian sub-continent before.

Toward an Afghan End State

By Gary Anderson

As President Trump inherits the war in Afghanistan, the best piece of advice anyone can give him is that this is about as good as it is going to get. The government controls the major population areas and the Taliban controls some largely Pashtun dominated swaths of territory along the Pakistani border. Warlords of various ethnic origins control large areas in the north and the west. None of this is an immediate threat to the vital security interests of the United States. The Taliban will not overrun the major cities, nor will the government be able to exert true control over the more remote areas of the country due to its lack of usable roads and communications.

We got into the war in Afghanistan because we wanted transnational radical Islamists out. Al Qaeda is largely gone, and although ISIS would like in, there are no indications they are welcomed by any of the major Afghan players. This does not mean that we should leave Afghanistan entirely, but it does mean that the nation building phase of that war is over.

Our continuing military presence in the nation is about right-sized for a continuing counterterrorism campaign to ensure that radical transnational terror groups cannot use it as a base for another 9-11 type attack on the American homeland. We would make a mistake if we totally left Afghanistan at this point as we would lose any control over countering some kind of ISIS-like revival in the country. The Taliban themselves may be repugnant to many Americans, but they are not a transnational threat.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and them

hristophe Jaffrelot 

Pakistan does not systematically bow to Saudi Arabia. First, when the PPP is in office, the government is generally closer to Iran. In 2013, Asif Zardari — whom the Saudis described as a Shia — even promoted the building of a gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan.

Two weeks ago, a month and a half after retiring as Pakistan’s chief of army staff, Raheel Sharif was offered the position of director of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), a proposed coalition of 39 countries that will have its headquarters in Riyadh. No newly-retired army chief of a country had, till then, accepted such a position at the invitation of another country. This, a priori, reveals the deep affinities between the Saudis and (some) Pakistanis. But such an appraisal needs to be qualified.

Historically, South Asian Muslims have inherited a rich legacy from the Persian civilisation and Sufi traditions. The poet Muhammad Iqbal did place the Arabian homeland, Hijaz, at the centre of his poetry when he wrote, for instance, “What does it matter if my wine jar is Persian? At least the wine is Arabian (Hijazi). What matters if the song is Indian (Hindi)? The tune, after all, is Arabian (Hijazi).” But in the presidential address to the 25th session of the Muslim League at Allahabad on December 29, 1930, he presented the project of a separate homeland for Indian Muslims as an opportunity for Islam “to rid itself of Arab Imperialism”. In his book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Iqbal acknowledged the importance of Abd al-Wahhab but he described his movement as conservative.

General Sharif revives sectarian divisions in Pakistan to satisfy ego

By G Parthasarathy 

During my years in Pakistan, I met a number of its four-star generals, including Generals Musa, Zia-ul-Haq, K M Arif, Mirza Aslam Beg, Jehangir Karamat and Pervez Musharraf. General Musa, who commanded the Pakistan army during the 1965 conflict, was a charming oldschool soldier. Zia and his successors were, however, schooled in Islamist rhetoric and firm believers in using “low intensity conflict” to “bleed India with a thousand cuts”.

The antipathy of all these generals was evident in the execution of their professional obligations of keeping a measure of tensions with India alive, primarily to justify their dominance over the country’s national life. But, at a personal level, they were pleasant to interact with and capable of pursuing their professional contacts with India and Indians, while performing their professional chores.

General Raheel Sharif, however, had other distinct personal characteristics. He was also a megalomaniac, whose personal hatred for India was intense, among other reasons, because his uncle and his brother, whom he worshipped, were killed in conflicts with India in 1965 and 1971.

The changing age of war

Ayesha Siddiqa 

The end of the Cold War is remembered as one of the watershed moments in human history. Students of military strategy and history will remember it as a harbinger of a shift in modern warfare. The change in technology, increase in lethality, proliferation of weapons and addition in the nature of stakeholders have altered the entire scenario. Gone are the days of conventional wars where two armies fought against each other, a very different level of respect was shown towards the civilian population and the rules of the game were different as far as the enemy was concerned. Now heads are chopped brutally and there is far greater violence carried out against the enemy civilian. The enemy need not be a geographical adversary but part of your own population as well. Terrified of the new enemy in the shape of non-state actors, the soldier now kills with greater passion and tries to punish more than what the enemy might have deserved. But then your allies, too, can both be states or non-state actors.

Such a shift seems to have altered the perception of both victory and defeat. And thus in Pakistan, the Boys in uniform and their experts might not agree with Myra MacDonald’s analysis in her new book, published by Hurst Publishers, on the more recent decades of war between India and Pakistan – which she believes is lost by the latter. She draws out on several key moments in modern history – the hijacking of IA-184, the Kargil operation, the attack on the Indian Parliament in Delhi, the Mumbai attack and the ongoing nuclear stalemate – to build a case for “How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War.”

India’s Rohingya dilemma: A clash of interests and values

Prashant Jha

On October 9, 2016, there were attacks on Myanmar’s border posts in the Northern Rakhine state. This region is home to the Rohingyas, who are not recognised by the Myanmar regime as citizens and have been facing long standing discrimination. 

The attacks drew an iron-fisted response from the security forces. Various reports suggest that the forces engaged in shooting suspects arbitrarily, burning houses, looting property, destroying foodstocks, and even raping women, causing massive displacement. 

Rohingyas - Muslims of the northern part of Rakhine state - see themselves as an indigenous minority of Myanmar, but the Buddhist-dominated government labels them as Bangladeshi migrants. There is a history of restrictions on citizenship, free movement, work opportunities, access to government services and the right to vote on Rohingyas. In June and October 2012, there was acute anti-Muslim violence in the state, causing major despair among Rohingyas and forcing them to migrate. 

On the issue, both the Myanmar military and Aung San Suu Kyi, currently in a fragile partnership in Yangon, are on the same page. But events of the past few months indicate the crisis has entered a new phase. 


RC Porter

Great power relations seem to be in flux during the uncertain days since the U.S. election surprise. Some Washington strategists are examining the possibility that a “Kissinger move in reverse” that energetically breaks the ice with Moscow could throw a major wrench into Beijing’s calculations, causing it to adopt a more restrained and cautious outlook. The logic of reengaging the Kissingerian strategic triangle once again is not entirely without merit. However, the obstacles, not least U.S. domestic disgust with the Kremlin, are so apparent as to seemingly limit the chances of success.

Another significant obstacle to such a strategy is that Russia-China relations have been continuously strengthened over three decades, so that they no longer constitute the brittle “marriage of convenience” so often perceived from Washington. One need only point to the recent arrival of the long-sought after Russian-made Su-35 fighter aircraft into China’s air combat arsenal, not to mention the increasing scope and pace of Russian-Chinese naval exercises to realize this is the case. Yet, China-Russia cooperation often operates “below the radar” and this edition of Dragon Eye will examine one aspect of the partnership that is somehow usually missed: the Arctic. That is especially odd because, looking at a map, one immediately sees that between China and the Arctic lies the vast terrain of Russian Siberia, so that bilateral partnership may form the only viable path to actually develop these regions effectively. A 30-plus-page spread with eight serious research articles in one of China’s leading naval magazines Naval& Merchant Ships [舰船知识] at the end of 2016 suggests a new level of impetus in China’s focus on the North.

The first article by Su Han [苏涵], possibly (but not confirmed to be) a senior researcher in the international department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, is quite breathtaking in its candor. He opens his discussion with the bold claim that the Arctic is “not simply a geographic concept, but … is inseparable from our country’s future building and development …” He makes clear, however, that this line of thinking runs directly through Moscow: “…whether concerning use of the navigation route … or opening the development of resources, these [projects] are all closely connected with Russia. China-Russia ties form our country’s key link to participation in Arctic activities.”

China's Xi to head new commission for military-civilian development

Chinese President Xi Jinping will head a new commission overseeing joint military and civilian development, state media said, as the country continues with an ambitious military modernization program.

Xi has set great store on China's military modernization, including developing an ocean-going "blue water" navy, stealth jets and other advanced technologies to better defend the country's growing global interests.

The announcement of the new commission was made late on Sunday in a short statement released by the official Xinhua news agency following a meeting of the party's Politburo, one of its elite ruling bodies.

"The commission will be the central agency tasked with decision-making, deliberation and coordination of major issues regarding integrated military and civilian development," it said, without elaborating.

Xi already oversees the People's Liberation Army in his role as head of the powerful Central Military Commission, and in April was appointed commander-in-chief of a new joint command headquarters for China's military.

Facebook and China: There’s only one likely winner

By Phil Muncaster

There are strong rumours that Facebook may be about to make a dramatic return to China – the country where it was banned over seven years ago. If it happens, who benefits? Would it be another victory on the world stage for American technological supremacy? Or a propaganda win for Beijing? Ironically, those arguably least bothered about current machinations are the users themselves.

Facebook has been banned in China since 2009, when separatists in the western Xinjiang province used the platform to organise in defiance of Beijing. Its part in the so-called Arab Spring revolutions across the Middle East in 2011 only served to harden the resolve of the Communist Party. Banning the Silicon Valley giant was primarily a censorship play. But it had a very positive side effect for the Chinese government: allowing home-grown alternatives to spring up in its stead. This tactic also worked against the likes of Twitter and Google. Thus, Chinese firms like Alibaba, Tencent and Sina Weibo rose to become large companies in their own right.

But Facebook is now apparently plotting a return in earnest. Unnamed current and former employees have claimed it is working on new software designed to prevent certain posts appearing in news feeds in specific countries. It’s the kind of thing Twitter has been doing for a while, and will certainly make it a more attractive prospect for those in charge behind the Great Firewall. The idea would be for Facebook to hand over the job of monitoring and censoring content to a local third-party partner – another prerequisite for many firms doing business in China.

Ukraine Power Company Confirms: Cyberattack Caused Last Month’s Outage

By Tony Ware

A power outage that occurred in northern Kiev in late December 2016 was the result of a cyberattack on critical systems providing heat and lights to millions, investigators hired by utility company Ukrenergo have determined.

According to a report from Reuters, the blackout, which took place in the Ukrainian capital on Dec. 17-18, was influenced by “a premeditated and multilevel invasion,” Ukrenergo said.

While an exact penetration point and full spectrum of compromised workstations/accounts have yet to be determined, cybersecurity researchers at Honeywell, who assisted in the investigation, believe hackers breached Ukrenergo’s IT network and began usurping privileges and controls over six months ago.

Was Snowden a Russian Agent?

By Edward Jay Epstein 

One evening in the fall of 2015, the writer Edward Jay Epstein arranged to have dinner at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side with the director Oliver Stone. At the time, Stone was completing Snowden, an admiring biopic about the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, who disclosed a vast trove of classified documents about National Security Agency surveillance programs to journalists in June 2013 and had since been living as a fugitive in Russia. Epstein was working on a book about the same topic, which has now been published under the title How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft. As the writer recounts in that book, their conversation took a testy turn: 

Toward the end of our dinner, Stone told me that he did not know I was writing a book about Snowden until a few weeks earlier. He learned of my book from Snowden himself. He said Snowden had expressed concern to him about the direction of the book I was writing. “What is it about?” Stone asked me. 

I was taken aback. I had no idea that Snowden was aware of my book. (I had not tried to contact him.) I told Stone that I considered Snowden an extraordinary man who had changed history and was intentionally vague in my description of my book’s contents. Stone seemed to be reassured…. Edward Snowden; drawing by James Ferguson

Epstein and Stone had a history of rivalry when it came to interpreting another important historical event: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Early in his career, Epstein wrote three books about that topic. The first, Inquest (1966), poked holes in the rigor of the Warren Commission’s official investigation. The second, Counterplot (1969), brought a skeptical eye to the investigation by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who pursued the theory that the Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated the president’s murder. And the third, Legend (1978), pointed readers to the conclusion that Oswald’s image as a mixed-up loner with half-baked Marxist ideas was an operational cover story—a “legend”—and that he had been a Soviet intelligence agent. (After the Soviet Union collapsed, the opening of the KGB’s archives did not corroborate the theory that Oswald had actually been a trained intelligence agent.) 

The Czechs Have Created an Infowar Unit to Combat the Flood of Russian Disinformation

PRAGUE — The target of high-stakes Kremlin power plays during the Cold War, the Czech Republic is again on the front lines of a contest with Russia and its sympathizers — this time in the Information Wars.

Inside a mustard-yellow stucco building in northwest Prague, Benedikt Vangeli is a commander in that fight — leading a new SWAT team for truth. Armed with computers and smartphones, the freshly formed government unit is charged with scouring the Internet and social media, fact-checking, then flagging false reports to the public.

You’re all set!

Following the fake news barrage during the U.S. presidential race, the worried Czechs are not the only ones suddenly breaking into the fact-checking business. Nations including Finland and Germany are either setting up or weighing similar operations as fears mount over disinformation campaigns in key elections that could redefine Europe’s political map this year.

The stakes are high: If pro-Kremlin politicians win in an anchor nation like France, it could potentially spell the end of the European Union.


January 23, 2017
The battlefields in Eastern Ukraine represent part of a new era of warfare, or so we are regularly told. Analysts, pundits, and military leaders point to cyber warfare, hybrid warfare, and the gray zone. But look away from these shiny new concepts for a moment, and it becomes clear the Russian–Ukrainian war’s conventional character is far from new. In fact, it looks a lot like the last century’s World Wars. While the new aspects of this war have generated discussion within the defense industry as to the evolving character of war, an acknowledgement of the conflict’s conventional character is largely missing from the discourse.
To be sure, Russia’s actions in Ukraine have revealed several innovations, most notably the employment of the semi-autonomous battalion tactical group, and a reconnaissance-strike model that tightly couples drones to strike assets, hastening the speed at which overwhelming firepower is available to support tactical commanders. However, even these innovations are being used within a form of warfare that looks strikingly like that of a century ago.

Siege Warfare in Eastern Ukraine—the Modern Russian Way of War

The July 11, 2014 strike at Zelenopillya is perhaps the most noticeable example to emerge from the war of the combined effects of tactical drones with the battalion tactical group—a task-organized force designed to achieve tactical overmatch against opponents—and its organic fires capabilities. The attack was a preemptive undertaking against Ukrainian brigades, postured in assembly areas, which were preparing to conduct offensive action against Russian and partisan forces. The buzzing of tactical drones and cyber-attacks targeting Ukrainian communications preceded the strike. An onslaught of rockets and artillery fell on the Ukrainian position shortly after the drones arrived, leaving thirty Ukrainian soldiers dead, hundreds more wounded, and over two battalions’ worth of combat vehicles destroyed. This strike created anxiety within the U.S. Army, specifically in relation to the sophistication of Russian cyber capabilities and the effectiveness of the new Russian reconnaissance-strike model. This strike also highlights the disparity in artillery and rocket munitions between Russia and the U.S. Army. Russia still possesses and employs a variety of munitions, to include dual-purpose improved conventional munitions and thermobaric munitions, that the U.S. Army elected to eliminate from its arsenal.

We Have ‘Very Robust Defenses’: An Exit Interview with Obama’s Top Cyber Official


When Michael Daniel became White House cybersecurity coordinator near the end of President Barack Obama’s first term, he spent a fair amount of time convincing government and industry officials that cybersecurity was worth spending time and money on.

After four years that included major breaches at the Office of Personnel Management and other federal agencies, a destructive hack at Sony Pictures Entertainment and Russian cyber meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Daniel no longer faces that problem, he told Nextgov this week.

That’s one plus.

On the other side of the ledger, cybersecurity has become ever more complex during Daniel’s tenure as new threat actors and old adversaries use cyberspace to poke at U.S. institutions and as the internet itself becomes increasingly complex though no more secure.

Nextgov spoke with Daniel about the Obama administration’s cyber legacy as he began his final week in the White House. The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity. 

Revealed: How CIA tried to gather intel before 1971 India-Pakistan war

Appu Esthose Suresh

Soldiers investigate a Pakistani damaged tank during the 1971 war. At the time, India had neither confirmed nor denied crossing the border before the war broke out.(File Photo)

At 9:29 am on November 24, 1971, Henry Kissinger, the US National Security Advisor, convened a tense and confidential meeting of the Washington Special Action Group (WSAG) in the White House Situation Room. The WSAG, consisting of the US top brass, had come together to discuss the escalating conflict in the Indian subcontinent after India crossed into the erstwhile East Pakistan to join the New Delhi-backed Mukti Bahini rebel group. 

“Why do we have no independent intelligence?” Kissinger had to ask the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as lack of intelligence was stonewalling his diplomatic options. 

Contrary to the popular perception of the famed capabilities of the US spy agency, the CIA, or “Langley” as the agency is referred in the diplomatic and spy world after the location of its headquarters, had little intelligence or an accurate assessment of a crisis the American leadership was deeply interested in. 

A study of the declassified CIA papers by Hindustan Times reveals that the 1971 war remains the single most important episode of interest for Langley. These documents, posted online on January 17, were declassified after the mandatory 25-year period, but this is the first time the CIA has put more than 12 million documents on its website. 



In the early 1970s, a shrinking U.S. Army with a reduced modernization budget faced the possibility of overmatch by a much larger and increasingly capable Soviet military. In the wake of the Vietnam War, Army leaders realized they had to change the way the Army developed the future force. In a retrospective 1983 Military Review article, “To Change an Army,” Gen. Donn Starry, then-commander of what was U.S. Readiness Command and the second commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, examined successful and unsuccessful efforts to change military organizations prior to World War II.

 He identified four tenets associated with successful change: 

Institution or mechanism to identify need for change. 

Rigorous education to think logically about problems. 

Continuity among the architects of change. 

Rigorous trials to evaluate change. 

Starry then described that over the next decade, senior Army leaders remained determined to innovate, modernize and change the service. Successive Army chiefs of staff and leaders of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command pursued training and education reforms, developed AirLand Battle Doctrine, and modernized with emphasis on the “Big 5” systems. 

The result was a highly proficient, modern and professional Army that provided the foundation for U.S. joint force superiority.

A Dangerous World

More than 30 years after Starry’s article, our Army is in an analogous situation that demands a change in how the Army develops the future force. As in the 1970s, threats to national and international security are increasing. Due to the rise of revisionist powers on the European landmass as well as threats from other state and nonstate actors, the world today has become more dangerous than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

Don’t Be a “Water Bucket” Leader

By: Joe Byerly

Command in the U.S. Army, regardless of echelon, is one of the greatest privileges (and stressors) bestowed upon commissioned officers. Unfortunately, many of us seem to stumble through these small windows of our military careers. Even with all the early mornings, late nights, and family sacrifices that we endure, we don’t seem to make the impact or create the legacy that we originally envisioned. Usually, it’s after these windows of leadership are closed that we realize there was a lot of activity (and good intentions), but little progress. I call this “water bucket” leadership.

A “water bucket” leader is someone whose leadership approach can be likened to sticking a hand into a bucket of water and creating a stir by splashing it around. Eventually, the leader pulls their hand out, and when they do, the water quickly returns to it’s original state. It’s as if they never existed. Even though there was a lot of activity, in the end, the bucket of water looks no different than it did before

When we practice “water bucket” leadership, we are transactional leaders. Our commands are focused only on accomplishing tasks and keeping soldiers out of trouble, thus maintaining the status quo. Karl W. Kuhnert, a professor at Kansas State University, defines a transactional leader as one who “gives followers what they want in exchange for something the leader wants”. Transactional leaders are carrot (rewards) and stick (punishment) leaders, who earn compliance not commitment. While the Army’s field manual on leadership recognizes that this approach is sometimes required to accomplish tasks, it’s not the preferred approach to leadership. It will not get us any closer towards the adoption of mission command throughout the force. Examples of transactional leadership can be found across the Army every Friday at closeout formations. Many commanders focus their weekend safety briefs on illegal actions and consequences, missing great opportunities to inspire and motivate their units.

Three Observations on China's Approach to State Action in Cyberspace

By Michael Sulmeyer, Amy Chang

We just returned from 36 hours in Beijing as part of a small group of American academics and government representatives to meet with Chinese counterparts about contemporary issues in cybersecurity. This is the 10th round of this dialogue, led by U.S. think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Chinese think-tank China Institute for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR). (These so-called “Track 1.5” dialogues blend official Track 1 discussions between senior government leaders with Track 2 meetings of academics and other non-government individuals.) We were fortunate to have on the other side of the table a mix of representatives from various Chinese ministries and agencies (including the Cyberspace Administration of China, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its Ministry of Defense, China's national Computer Emergency Response Team, and its security services via think tank links), as well as a handful of independent researchers.

In exchange for candor, participants forfeit the ability to publicize details of these discussions. We will honor that arrangement. But we also think it worthwhile to share three observations from our recent interactions that shed light on Chinese thinking about recent cybersecurity-related events. 

First: The Chinese believe that attribution is nearly impossible. We were continually surprised by how pervasive this talking point about attribution being so difficult in cyberspace continues to be. From our respective experiences in government (Michael in the Department of Defense, Amy on Capitol Hill) as well as our experiences conducting cybersecurity research, perhaps we are biased with a greater awareness that it is indeed possible to determine who does what. The general thinking is that while public attribution of cyber intrusions has historically been quite challenging, today there are several reasons why it is possible for states (and private companies) to attribute hacks. The real question is not if states can attribute cyber attacks, but if they will publicly do so. 

FCC Warns of National Security Risks From IoT, Private Networks

By Tony Ware

The Federal Communications Commission has released a white paper on cybersecurity risk reduction that surveys the increasingly larger “exposed attack surface” created by connected consumer devices on privately owned and managed communications networks.

Issued by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, the report draws the conclusion that the country’s 30,000 private sector communications service providers and their vendor base operate under the pressure to prioritize profit over protective actions. The residual risk left from the market’s failure to supply and reinforce secure systems poses an increasing threat to emergency services and national security as more devices lead to co-mingled control elements for many service providers.

“Cyber-accountability therefore requires a combination of market-based incentives and appropriate regulatory oversight where the market does not, or cannot, do the job effectively,” the paper states.

The paper describes programs and puts forth several actions to address the gap between the low return on cyber investment and the safety and resilience of networks as factors such as the expanding internet of things increase potential attack vectors.

The Air Force is investing in deceptive cyber technology

Once an adversary successfully enters a network, the name of the game is damage mitigation. And this is why the Air Force is interested in deceptive cyber tools. 

The Air Force Research Lab in Rome, New York, recently awarded a $750,000 grant to Galois to develop advanced network cyber deception technology. 

“This topic seeks to provide new and novel approaches to delaying, disrupting and deceiving adversaries engaged in active network reconnaissance,” the Air Force’s three-phased Small Business Innovation Research proposal stated. “There is a need for secure, infrastructure agnostic, solutions designed for cyber agility and anti-reconnaissance." 

The Air Force requested a solution that: 

Effectively prevents traffic analysis. 

Implements evasive and deceptive techniques such as misreporting source and destination IP and/or MAC addresses, and intermittently changing those addresses. 
Prevents an adversary from determining the direction or volume of information moving within a network. 

NIST Issues Draft of Revisions to Cybersecurity Framework

"Just to be clear, we're not headed toward a version 2.0 right now. We're definitely not," Matt Barrett, the NIST program manager overseeing the cybersecurity framework updates, said in a recent interview. "We're headed to something that's more like a 1.1."

Indeed, the latest draft of the framework is titled Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, Draft Version 1.

What's new in the draft? 

A new section on cybersecurity measurement. According to the draft, measuring security status and trends over time - internally, through external audit and through conformity assessment - enables an organization to understand and convey meaningful risk information. "In the update we introduce the notion of cybersecurity measurement to get the conversation started," Barrett said. "Measurements will be critical to ensure that cybersecurity receives proper consideration in a larger enterprise risk management discussion." 

Types of Framework Measurements

  Note: Measures are concrete, usually measure one thing and are quantitative in nature. Metrics describe a quality and require a measurement baseline. Source: NIST 

A greatly expanded explanation of using the framework for cyber supply chain risk management purposes. An expanded section on communicating cybersecurity requirements with stakeholders, NIST contends, should help users better understand cyber supply chain risk management. NIST also added a supply chain risk management category to the framework core. "A primary objective of cyber SCRM is to identify, assess and mitigate products and services that may contain potentially malicious functionality, are counterfeit or are vulnerable due to poor manufacturing and development practices within the cyber supply chain," the draft states.