17 February 2017

*** China: Competitor or Adversary?

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By Brenton Ramsey

Chinese leaders have characterized modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as essential to achieving great power status and what Chinese President Xi Jinping calls the “China Dream” of national rejuvenation. They portray a strong military as critical to advancing Chinese interests, preventing other countries from taking steps that would damage those interests, and ensuring that China can defend itself and its sovereignty claims."[1] Accordingly, China is investing heavily in modernizing its military including the PLA(N), China’s Navy, the Coast Guard, and the Maritime Militia. China’s “little blue men,”[2] the Maritime Militia functions as a 3rd naval force to carry out a national policy to dominate the region at sea. Yes, China has three overlapping and complementary navies. China’s recent behavior is to promote its national interest by intimidating everyone in the region including the U. S.

The U. S. Navy’s presence in East Asia has a long history dating back to the early 1800’s. This presence is essential for promoting national strategic policy, assisting allies to whom we have treaty obligations, and most importantly protecting freedom of the seas for ourselves including vital international commerce. Trillions of dollars of the world’s commerce transit the waters of the western Pacific including the East and South China Seas, waters whose control is now hotly contested. The region also boasts massive oil and gas reserves. Competition to gain control over and exploit those precious resources has heated up in recent years and created an explosive and contentious situation. As the economic powerhouse of Asia, China seeks to rule the roost dictating terms in the region, many times flouting international law, and behaving contrary to accepted norms of civilized behavior. To counter the malign influences of China, a robust U. S. Navy presence in the region is an absolute necessity.

*** The Never Ending Story: The Morass of Afghanistan and Pakistan


The new administration must surely be thinking about the challenges of Afghanistan and Pakistan and what to do. The region has bedeviled outsiders for generations. Afghanistan perplexed Alexander the Great, got the best of the British, beat up on the Soviet Union, and now it’s befuddled U.S. Presidents Barack Obama for the last eight years and George W. Bush for most of the eight years before that. While Obama had originally hoped to end our long U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, he wound up going sideways over the last few years, grudgingly maintaining about 10,000 non-combat mission troops on the ground. 

What might the new Trump administration do? On the good side, you have Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the administration, and those two men have deep experience in the area. On the bad side, you unfortunately have a situation that frankly does not have any good answers. These are difficult foreign policy challenges for the U.S. (and the world), and ones where there are no real “solutions” to implement – only a slate of bad options from which you are going to have to choose something and try to make it work. 

In Afghanistan, we have now had U.S. military forces in the country for over 15 years. What is the plan? Is there a plan? Are we getting out? Staying forever? Combat operations ended at the end of 2014. 

There seem to only be two broad choices in Afghanistan for the new Commander in Chief – and both choices have serious downsides: 

Stay the course and continue to spend tens of billions of dollars on Afghanistan every year, paying billions to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and billions to Afghanistan to support the Afghan National Army and other institutions. The only real mission today is to stop the country from falling to the Taliban and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists who might plan attacks against the West. Meanwhile, if we stay, the death toll for the U.S. continues as the casualties dribble in. 

Pull out, save tens of billions of dollars, save some lives, but despite our best efforts to build an effective government and military in Afghanistan over the last 15 years, the country will probably fall to the Taliban in 30 days after we leave, causing a lot of people to wonder why we spent all that blood and treasure on Afghanistan. Then, the country will likely become a terrorist safe haven, too. 


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By Luke Mogelson 

A swat team of Iraqis, all of whom have suffered at the hands of terrorists, join the fight to retake Mosul—and plan to exact revenge.

Major Mezher Sadoon (right), the deputy commander of a swat team, in a village outside Mosul. Every team member either had been wounded by isis or had lost a loved one to terrorism. They wanted revenge.

When the campaign to expel the Islamic State from Mosul began, on October 17th, the Nineveh Province swat team was deployed far from the action, in the village of Kharbardan. For weeks, the élite police unit, made up almost entirely of native sons of Mosul, had been patrolling a bulldozed trench that divided bleak and vacant enemy-held plains from bleak and vacant government-held plains. The men, needing a headquarters, had commandeered an abandoned mud-mortar house whose primary charm was its location: the building next door had been obliterated by an air strike, and the remains of half a dozen Islamic State fighters—charred torsos, limbs, and heads—still littered the rubble.

The swat-team members huddled around a lieutenant with a radio, listening to news of the offensive. The Kurdish Army, or peshmerga, was advancing toward Mosul from the north; various divisions of the Iraqi military were preparing a push from the south. More than a hundred thousand soldiers, policemen, and government-sanctioned-militia members were expected to participate in the fight to liberate Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. It had been occupied since June, 2014, and was now home to about six thousand militants from the Islamic State, or isis. The swat-team members were desperate to join the battle. They called relatives in Mosul, chain-smoked cigarettes, and excoriated the war planners, from Baghdad, who seemed to have forgotten them. Major Mezher Sadoon, the deputy commander, urged patience: the campaign would unfold in stages. At forty-six, he had a flattop and a paintbrush mustache that were equal parts black and gray. He had been shot in the face in Mosul, in 2004, and since then his jaw had been held together by four metal pins. The deformed bone caused his speech to slur—subtly when he spoke at a normal pace and volume (rare), and severely when he was angry or excited (often). Many villages surrounding Mosul had to be cleared before forces could retake the city, Mezher told his men. Holding out his hands, he added, “When you kill a chicken, first you have to boil it. Then you have to pluck it. Only after that do you get to butcher it.”

** Defence services put forth grievances before the anomalies committee of 7 CPC

Man Aman Singh Chhina

The anomaly committee on allowances constituted for the 7th Central Pay Commission (7th CPC) has provided a direct hearing to the defence services for their grievances related to allowances recommended by the Pay Commission. This is probably the first time when an opportunity of hearing has been provided to the defence establishment by an anomaly committee. Sources say the hearing was provided recently by the Committee in a positive backdrop and the views of the defence services were fully supported by the Ministry of Defence.

3rd edition of Golconda Masters Golf Championship Kick Starts

The views of the three services have been entertained by the committee in compliance with the interim directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a writ petition filed by a serving officer, Col Preet Pal Singh Grewal.

MoD sources also point out that many issues affecting allowances of defence services were placed before the committee including the discriminatory hardship allowances wherein an IPS officer was eligible for approximately Rs 55,000 as hardship allowance in Leh, his military counterpart was entitled only for about Rs 10,000.

Similarly while the civil servants were entitled to the same amount of 55,000 in Shillong, the defence officers were denied any allowance in that area. It was also pointed out to the committee that while many beneficial military allowances were extended to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) over the years, the same reciprocity was not shown to the defence services when allowances admissible to CAPFs were found more beneficial.

** Is India still interested in developing Trincomalee port in Sri Lanka?

By N Sathiya Moorthy

At the annual Raisina Dialogue held in New Delhi from January 17-19, 2017, Sri Lanka’s Resettlement Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said the two nations would soon commence negotiations for an accord for India to develop the eastern Trincomalee port in his country. In July last, Fonseka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said a Singaporean company, Surbana Jurong, was to undertake the assignment. Sri Lanka and Surbana Jurong, an infrastructure major, had signed an MoU a month earlier, though the MoU was confined to preparing a master-plan for Trincomalee development.

More recently, there have been reports that the Sri Lankan Government has been talking to India and Japan for developing Trincomallee, as an industry zone. Earlier, when the Rajapaksa regime was around, a high-power industry team from India visited the country, a decision was announced for developing a ‘pharma hub’ in the East. But no forward movement has been reported, yet.

There is also nothing to conclude that the ‘choice’ for an overseas partner, if any, and especially of India for developing the strategically important Trincomallee town and port, had been made. For developing the town as an industrial zone implies the simultaneous development of the port. More importantly, there is nothing official to show that India has since accepted it. If anything, the New Indian Express has since claimed that India was not interested in the offer. Whether or not there was/is a communication gap within the Sri Lankan government -- that too on a sensitive issue involving an equally sensitive Indian neighbour -- neither government has since denied the New Indian Express’ claims.

Apt warning in J&K

Rawat knows Kashmir well, and over the years he has shown himself to be sympathetic to the people of the Valley.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Army Chief General Bipin Rawat during the ceremony for pays tribute to security personnel who lost their lives in encounters with terrorists in J&K. (Photo: PTI)

The warning by the Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat, on Wednesday to those in Kashmir who obstruct operations against terrorists by the security forces — as happened in southern Kashmir as well as in the northern part of the Valley earlier this week — is apt. The Army Chief has warned such recalcitrant elements that they will be treated as "anti-national" if they did not desist. He has just lost a clutch of soldiers. An officer of the rank of major was also killed fighting terrorists as the Army's action was obstructed by local residents.

Gen. Rawat knows Kashmir well, and over the years he has shown himself to be sympathetic to the people of the Valley. When an almost inside observer like him issues a note of caution, it is expected he would have done his homework and would have a fair idea of who the troublemakers are and how they find financial and propaganda sustenance.

It was a determined minority which kept up a tempo of protest, specially in rural areas, in the wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last year. This small but organised group hustled the others into falling in line.

The situation is unlikely to have deteriorated to this degree if the Centre had shown the slightest inclination to talk to Kashmiris about their grievances. The absence of any hint of dialogue has by now filled all of Kashmir with resentment. The government will strengthen the Army's hands if it can engage ordinary people in a conversation.

India’s Hardcoded Grand Strategy

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Manasa Venkataraman
The Indian Constitution is cleverly equipped with a means for India to achieve its grand geopolitical strategy.

It has been alleged, time and again, that India doesn’t have a clear strategic goal for herself in the subcontinent, even globally. In rebutting this contention, commentators have overlooked the Indian Constitution, which, like any other country’s constituent document, is the foremost indicator of India’s strategic goal.

The Indian Constitution empowers the Indian government to govern other territories

Traditionally, sovereign states are disallowed from interfering in the affairs of a territory beyond the limits of their own boundaries. Laws made by a sovereign nation’s legislature are, therefore, operable only within the boundaries of such nation.

While the above principle is expressed in Article 245(1) of the Indian Constitution, it is immediately countered by Article 245(2), which states that no law made by Parliament is invalid on the grounds that it has extra territorial application.

Even more surprising is Article 260 — it empowers the union government to undertake the executive, legislative and judicial functions of a territory beyond Indian bounds, by entering into an agreement with such foreign territory.

Fulfiling A Terrible Destiny: Why Pakistan Is A Failed State By Design And Not Accident

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Jaideep A Prabhu 

Mohammad left Mecca due to opposition to his beliefs and went to Medina to create a new Islamic state.

The creation of Pakistan was imagined as such which would be only the second Islamic state in history.

Its future was thus imagined to the masses in powerful Islamic imagery.

Dhulipala, Venkat. Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India. Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 544 pp.

By most accounts, Pakistan is a failed state: its inability to sustain a democratic process, oppressive treatment of minorities, regressive religious laws, and its developmental shortcomings certainly indicate a state that is not in congruence with modern -- Western? -- sensibilities. The prevailing consensus is that Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Pakistan project was hijacked soon after the Islamic state was cut out of British India and marked a sharp turning point in the trajectory and fortunes of the fledgling country. Venkat Dhulipala's explosive book, Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India throws the proverbial wrench into that hypothesis, arguing instead that much of what has been perceived to be flaws in Pakistan's national fabric is actually so by design and not accident.

Pakistan Army chief asks officers to read book on success of Indian democracy

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Rezaul H Laskar

File photo of Pakistani Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Change of Command ceremony in Rawalpindi after he was appointed to the post last year. (AP)

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had some unusual advice when top officers gathered for his first speech last year – read an American academic’s book on how India has succeeded in keeping the military out of politics. 

The army has no business trying to run the government, Bajwa told the gathering of army officers of Rawalpindi Garrison at the General Headquarters auditorium in the last week of December, according to The Nation newspaper. 

Bajwa’s first speech as army chief, described by the daily as “an articulation of his vision”, was delivered “in a poised manner” and his views were communicated “to his officers in unequivocal terms”. 

The general urged the officers to read Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence, written by Steven I Wilkinson, the Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies at Yale University. 

The 2015 book, which was well reviewed in India and the West, draws on comprehensive data to explore how and why India has succeeded in keeping its military out of politics when other countries have failed. It looks at political and foreign policies and strategic decisions that have made the “army safe for Indian democracy”. 

Why China Can’t Ignore Syria’s Rebel Factions

By George Marshall Lerner

International relations can shift depending on the scale. At the macro, geopolitical level, the ties between countries are often the result of general norms. In the case of Syria, it would make sense, as Stratfor has argued, that Russia will offer its allies in the Assad regime military supports and substantial economic aid in order to rebuild the country. Many believe China will also want follow suit and maintain its strategic interests in the region by helping Assad as well.

Yet if you zoom closer into the Syrian civil war, beyond the publicized public meetings between government officials, it looks more and more like China knows it will have to deal with factions other than the Syrian regime.

By 2016 almost all of the major operational energy infrastructure of Syria was under the almost exclusive control of the Federation of Northern Syria (a literal translation from the official Kurdish name, Federasyona Bakurê Sûriyê) and administered by its administrative arm, TEV-DEM (an abbreviated form of the Kurdish name Tevgera Civaka Demokratîk‎). China has significant investments in this region of Syria, creating an incentive to forge ties with TEV-DEM.

Before the war began in 2011, Chinese state-owned conglomerate Sinopec was a major investor in northeastern and eastern Syria. The New York Times reported Sinopec’s first major venture into country in 2008, through the acquisition of Canadian-based Tanganyika Oil.This deal gave Sinopec control of three oil fields, Sheikh Mansour, Oudeh (also called Rimelan due to its proximity to the town), and Tishrin — all located in Syria’s northeast.

How to Guarantee America's Aircraft Carriers Can Fight China in a War

Dave Majumdar

Along with a new air superiority fighter, the United States Navy must develop a new long-range unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) to counter rapidly emerging anti-access/area-denial threats, particularly in the Western Pacific. The Navy would also have to develop another separate unmanned aircraft for the aerial refueling tanker role. In a new report commissioned by the U.S. Navy, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments lays out the case for developing such capabilities.

“The worst-case scenario for a conflict under the proposed fleet architecture would be to have no indications or warning of imminent aggression with the Maneuver Force at the farthest reach of its Indo–Asia–Pacific area of operations,” the report states. “The Maneuver Force could start from the Western Indian Ocean or Central Pacific Ocean when conflict breaks out and arrive about 2000 nm from the Chinese coast when the Deterrence Force needs to withdraw after 2 days of combat.”

However, a 2000-mile mission would strain human endurance and an unrefueled range of more than 10 hours would require an enormous aircraft that might not fit on a carrier flight deck. Thus, the CSBA proposal calls for a smaller aircraft that would be supported by a tanker.

Trump Could Make an FDR-Style Grand Bargain with Russia

Carlo Jose Vicente Caro

In Syria and elsewhere, America needs Russia’s help.

Many have been critical of President Donald J. Trump's desire to cooperate with Russia. Yet, more than half a century ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt behaved in a similar manner towards Moscow and experienced similar forces.

The criticism towards both American presidents has been a natural response from the establishment in Washington, considering that since 1917, the behavior of the United States has been influenced by Woodrow Wilson’s idealism. Even Richard Nixon, the Cold War president who came closest to focusing on strategic interests, would recur to idealism from time to time, a seemingly inescapable part of “American nature.”

Henry Kissinger has written that the United States was raised in a faith system of good versus evil. Concrete examples are found in Truman’s administration, when it demonstrated that NATO was not a traditional alliance, because the United States was defending principles and not territories. With this, the old concept of the balance of power was reborn with American idealism.

Another concrete example is the participation of Washington, DC in the diverse conflicts of the twentieth century. The justification for U.S. involvement was based not on strategic measures, but on a moral obligation to oppose injustice and oppression. As a result, the United States has intervened in wars where the value extracted from fighting in them has been minimal.

Is ISIS Breaking Apart?

by Charlie Winter and Colin P. Clarke

With the Islamic State (or ISIS) facing setbacks in Iraq and Syria, most observers believe that the group is crumbling. Indeed, just last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared eastern Mosul “fully liberated” from the group. Evidently, the U.S.-led coalition tasked with countering ISIS, well into the third year of its ongoing military campaign, has made progress. As a result of efforts in Iraq and Syria in 2016 alone, several high-ranking leaders have been killed or captured, the group's finances have taken a serious hit, and it is hemorrhaging territory. Over the next few years, ISIS is sure to break apart further.

As it does, it will likely walk down one of two paths. In the first possibility, its disintegration could wind up giving more weight to the group's center of gravity, even as it becomes weaker overall. Alternatively, it could follow the example of al Qaeda in the 2000s and break down in a way that will diminish the influence of its core in Iraq and Syria while providing momentum to its provincial operations in such places as Afghanistan, Libya, the Sinai Peninsula, and Yemen.

Some analysts, such as Clint Watts, see ISIS' splintering as a potential win for counterterrorism, especially if it results in what he calls “destructive terrorist competition,” a dynamic that implicitly subverts the group's ideology by pushing affiliates into provincialism and rotting the central core.

Russia's Dangerous Nuclear Forces are Back

Dave Majumdar

The United States is claiming that Russia has secretly deployed two battalions of land-based nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in violation of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. According to the New York Times, U.S. officials claim that the Kremlin has deployed two battalions worth of SSC-8 cruise missiles—better known by its Russian designation 9M729—in the Kapustin Yar region.

The new cruise missile is likely part of the same family of weapons as the Kalibr-NK sea-based cruise missile. “I think the Kalibr and the 9M729 are all part of the same family,” Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told me. “The Klub is a reduced range Kalibr like the R-500 is a reduced range 9M729. But the Kalibr and 9M729 are likely pretty similar—just like the Klub and R-500—look almost the same.”

The new development comes on the heels of another Russian nuclear development—the RS-26 Rubezh intercontinental ballistic missile ICBM. But while the RS-26 is technically an ICBM, its range falls just barely inside the ICBM category. In reality, as Lewis explains, the RS-26 is a direct replacement for the RDS-10 Pioneer—known to NATO as the SS-20 Saber—which was banned under the INF treaty. “It's the RS-26—exact same concept,” Lewis said. “It's an SS-20 clone.”

But why would Moscow violate the INF treaty?

Ukraine Buffeted from East and West

Paul R. Pillar

A visit to Kiev reveals a Ukrainian national identity that has come a long way for a corner of Eurasia that once was known as Little Russia. Ukraine was a large part of the USSR and a major contributor to its economy and military strength, but now, conflict with Russia is a defining characteristic of Ukrainian national consciousness. Parliamentarians of various partisan affiliations, as well as other politically engaged people in the capital both inside and outside government, share a sense of unfair treatment at the hands of Russia. This involves not only the happenings in recent years in Crimea and in the rebellious Donbass region in eastern Ukraine but also an overall Russian presumption that Ukrainians should accept—consistent with old attitudes underlying the “Little Russia” label—being part of Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Ukrainians exhibit much pride in what their nation has accomplished in the 25 years since independence, and in the three years since the “Revolution of Dignity” that toppled former president Viktor Yanukovych. The paving stones that had been torn up in the blood-stained Maidan square during the latter uprising have been put back in place, but with the addition of memorials to those who died there. The memories of Maidan are still recent, and their impact on Ukrainian thoughts and emotions profound.

Somalia: A failed state?

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It will not be an exaggeration to say that almost all the countries in Africa face some form of conflict. Yet, most of them have managed to survive, and some—like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo—have even evolved into reasonably successful states. However, Somalia has not. What are the reasons for Somalia’s failure to survive? Did external interventions play a role? Was Islamophobia a contributing factor, and the inter-clan civil war, too? This paper finds that although there have been many reasons, such as unnecessary interventions—especially the case of Ethiopian in 2006—the failure of Somalia as a state is mostly because of a lack of an effective leadership.

In the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, colonialist countries divided Somalia into five parts—the United Kingdom (UK) took two parts while Italy, Ethiopia and France took one each. The Somalis fought for independence from all the colonial powers. Northern and Southern Somalia gained independence on 26 June 1960 and 01 July 1960, respectively. All parts of Somalia would eventually form a Greater Somalia.[i]

From 1960 until 1969, Somalia was a democratic state. Through a coup d’etat in 1969, Siyad Barre came to power. Barre forged close ties with the Soviet Union, which provided aid to Somalia throughout the 1970s. Trouble started when Barre attempted to take back the Ogaden Somali territory from Ethiopia and the Soviets decided to back Ethiopia. This enraged Barre, resulting in Somalia and the Soviet Union severing their ties. Consequently, the United States (US) became close to Somalia. The US gave Somalia foreign aid for military technology, amounting to US $163.5 million between 1980 and 1988, and four times that for economic development.

CSIS European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues 2016 Consensus Statement

Rebecca Hersman

CSIS The European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues, sponsored by CSIS in partnership with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), has convened senior nuclear policy experts from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States (P3) for the past eight years to discuss nuclear deterrence policy issues and to identify areas of consensus among the three countries. The majority of the experts are former U.S., UK, and French senior officials; the others are well-known academics in the field. Since the dialogues’ inception, high-level officials from all three governments have also routinely joined the forum and participated in the discussions.

CSIS has released the consensus statement from the trilateral working group for the 2016 round of the dialogues. To read and download the complete statement, click on the PDF link.DOWNLOADS

Director, Project on Nuclear Issues, and Senior Adviser, International Security Program 

Tel: 202.775.3242


Maladjusted, Part I: 21st-Century Attack

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Mike Pietrucha

Once upon a time, the Air Force was flush with attack aircraft. Late in the 20th century, the Air Force maintained large numbers of attack aircraft, peaking in 1983 with a total inventory of 1,115 attack aircraft in three different models. Today, most mentions of the attack aircraft relate only to the A-10 Warthog, and underappreciated aircraft perennially in danger of retirement. Even among Air Force officers who should know better, the A-10 is referred to as a close air support (CAS) aircraft, discounting the myriad other roles that the aircraft has performed. Attack aircraft are the elderly second cousin at the Air Force dinner table, rarely spoken of and relegated to the status of historical relic, banished even from the official Joint Dictionary. This unfortunate condition makes it exceedingly difficult to discuss the utility, role, and historical contribution of attack aircraft to combat airpower. And it makes it especially difficult to discuss the most critical aspect of all — the Air Force needs to bring them back.


Historically, attack aircraft were distinct. They were dedicated to the ground attack mission, focused on attacking things on the surface of the planet. Unlike fighters, they were not intended to mix it up with other aircraft. They were also not expected to haul large bombloads over long distances, which was the purview of the bomber. As attack aircraft numbers shrank, their classification fell into disuse. It is possible to look it up — because the Department of Defense has to have a regulation for everything — under AFI 16-401, which is also Army Regulation 70-50 and NAVAIRINST 13100.16, titled Designating and Naming Aerospace Vehicles

These regulations use the following definitions:


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Editor’s Note: This article differs from the regular format we use at Divergent Options per a request from Nate Freier of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College. This article has the writer imagining that they are a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SecDef). The writer is responding to a request from the SecDef for a two page memo that defines or describes strategic and military risk and identifies national security situations that may take place from 2017 to 2027 that would require the U.S. Department of Defense to surge personnel or capability to address. The entire call for papers can be found here

Nathan Wike is an officer in the U.S. Army and a member of the Military Writer’s Guild. The opinions expressed are his alone, and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group. 

INTRODUCTION: The Secretary of Defense recently requested a series of position papers that describe national security situations that may take place from 2017 to 2027 that would require the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to surge personnel or capability. This is a critical step in considering the potential threats to U.S. national interests that may arise within the next decade. However, it rests upon a key assumption: that the DoD is capable of surging personnel to respond to a contingency. This topic directly relates to all four components of risk, outlined on page 90 of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. This memorandum discusses the means by which the DoD can surge personnel to rapidly expand the joint force in response to a contingency, and the potential risks.

Enough Talk – How Do We Professionally Develop Our People?

Quick thoughts on practically applying professional development

How do we practically implement professional development instead of just talking about it? Having observed and contributed to various websites, blogs and professional forums, my key observation is that we tend to talk about professional development, but there is a distinct lack of ‘this is how we do professional development’.

There exists an opportunity, due to the current organisational focus on professional development, to change from ‘talking’ about professional development to practically implementing professional development for both officers and soldiers.

Firstly, there is one subject we must all become comfortable with; soldiers and officers are different and the professional development of both should be as well. I don’t think this view is too extreme as many share it. With this in mind, what is it that we need to do to professionally develop our people?

Officers. I will start with officers first. Senior leaders need to direct our attention to what is important and what the organisation needs the officer to know. Otherwise we embark on unguided professional development and this may not be an effective use of time. Guided professional development will likely incorporate professional reading, increasing knowledge on strategic issues and improving organisational knowledge. I think it is appropriate that officers objectively discuss issues such as the force generation cycle and modernisation initiatives, but what are the best ways to do this?

"Breaking the Norm": A New Acquisition Approach

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By George Landrith

It may have been easy to overlook, given the steady stream of news coming out of Washington of late, but one of the more significant developments for the defense industry in quite some time is currently unfolding in the acquisition policy sphere.

In the last month, two defense industry giants have pulled out of one of the few major new acquisition competitions the Pentagon currently has running – with an expected business opportunity north of $16 billion. The reason why may surprise you.

Defense Department procurement generally follows a well-worn path: one of the services identifies the need for a new or upgraded platform; contractors pour time and research and development dollars into their offerings without official guidance on the necessary capabilities and requirements expected; the service issues a formal Request For Proposal (RFP) late in the game; and the service eventually settles for whichever one of the offerings most closely resembles what they were actually looking for. Thus wasting a lot of time and money, without necessarily providing the best outcome.

The Air Force, to their credit, has taken a different path for their 2017 T-X trainer competition, which seeks to replace the existing and rapidly aging 1960s-era T-38 trainer fleet with an initial 350 new aircraft and accompanying ground-training systems. The new trainers, with an expected initial operating capability scheduled for 2024, will help future pilots learn to fly the fifth-generation aircraft that now populate fighter wings.

Internet of Things + Analytics = Opportunities

Manish Choudhary

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is clearly the most exciting invention since the Internet itself. Kevin Ashton coined the term IoT, 17 years ago, to describe the network connecting objects in the physical world to the Internet. Fast forward to the present day, IoT is about pervasive connectivity. This means everything and anything is connected to the Internet in some way. IoT, thus, gives businesses and marketers the opportunity to create, extrapolate and utilize actionable insights about consumers and trends that were unimaginable just a few decades ago.

Prediction is that by 2019, IoT will be the world’s largest device market—double the size of the smartphone, PC, tablet, connected car, and the wearable market combined. There will be reinventions in business models, helping them save millions of dollars in the next decade as the trend comes closer to reality.

A look at the next gen technologies that are imperative for successful IoT implementations, and to drive new business opportunities:

Cyber integral to hundreds of US kill/capture missions in 2016

by Mark Pomerleau

A version of this story incorrectly identified the number of U.S. kill/capture missions to which cyber was integral. This has been corrected.

The Air Force has conducted a multitude of cyber missions over the last year that have contributed to captured or killed terrorists.

According to written testimony provided to the House and Senate Armed Services committees this week, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said, “The Air Force conducted 4,000 cyber missions against more than 100,000 targets, disrupting adversaries and enabling over 200 High Value Individual kill/capture missions.”

An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed to FifthDomain that these 4,000 missions took place within the 2016 calendar year and that a subset of them were in direct support of the 200 HVI kill/capture missions.

The Air Force would not provide details regarding the commands or areas of responsibility for these operations and HVIs.

HVI is typically a term reserved for insurgent or terrorist individuals as part of ongoing campaigns and operations to degrade these groups.

The main campaign against such organizations currently is the global anti-Islamic State group coalition, or Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve, which seeks to “degrade and destroy” the group. Cyber forces have also been working against ISIS to disrupt its networks and finances.

Russian hackers pose increasing threat to UK's national security, GCHQ chief warns

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Rachel Roberts

The Independent Online The Government's new cyber security chief says attacks from Russian state-sponsored hackers are on the rise Getty

The Cold War may be over, but cyber war between Russia and the West is hotting up, according to the Government’s new cyber-security chief.

Britain is increasingly being targeted by Russian state-sponsored cyber attacks, including attempts to steal top-secret national security details and to intervene in the democratic process, claims Ciaran Martin, who heads up GCHQ’s new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Mr Martin made his comments in an interview with The Sunday Times, warning that Britain is being hit by 60 “significant” cyber-attacks each month, some of which attempt to undermine the democratic process as well as national security.

Concern has been growing about the amount of so-called fake news coming from Russian media outlets which is seen as being a concerted disinformation campaign by the Kremlin to disrupt world politics, including in the UK.

An attempt to disrupt the 2015 general election was thwarted by GCHQ in a cyber attack the security service said was the first of its kind.

US intelligence services have accused the Russian state of intervening in the Presidential election after Russian-sponsored hackers are believed to have targeted the Democrat headquarters and accessed thousands of emails.

“We’ve got some very capable adversaries, but we’ve done a good job in detecting and managing those sorts of attacks,” Mr Martin said. 

“However, the level of sophistication is such that we keep very vigilant and I expect that there will be a category 1 incident at some point in the future.”

And he claimed that as well as trying to uncover sensitive Government information, Russian and Chinese-sponsored hackers were going for “soft targets” including charities and local councils for personal data and universities for potentially lucrative research.

Ending America’s Defensive Cyber Posture

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By Steve King

I love Rudy Giuliani, but I have never understood his position on cybersecurity “offense verse defense.”

He recently stated in several interviews that our cybersecurity offense has gotten way ahead of our defense, and somehow it is tied to money. I am sure he has a good basis for his opinion, but in many ways the reality of the nation’s cybersecurity posture is the exact opposite.

Last year alone, Homeland Security responded to 245 cyber incidents reported by critical infrastructure operators.

If anyone is making money in cybersecurity, it’s the defense guys. Not that any of it is working, but that’s where the money is. We will see more than 400 exhibitors at this year’s huge cybersecurity conference (RSA in San Francisco this week) and all of them will be focused on defense.

We are now fighting a cyber war against very sophisticated and highly organized adversaries, yet we still approach cybersecurity with a strictly defensive mindset. Our insistence that having the best defense will keep us safe has resulted in more than $85 billion in venture capital funding for security technologies that are designed to defend against advanced adversaries. These are the same adversaries who continue to demonstrate their ability to break through any defense at any time and do whatever they want.

We need to start approaching security by thinking about how we can stop an offense, which is different from mounting a defense. Think about armed sentries standing at watch in a gated community. That’s defense. Now think about a supplemental recon force patrolling the grounds armed with intelligence and tracking tools, looking for intrusions and perimeter penetrations. That’s stopping an offense.

Instead of focusing all of our energies on our vulnerabilities as we have in the past, we need to organize in a way that seeks out the attacker's footprints, their behaviors, and their weaknesses so that we can start using the enemy's activities to our offensive advantage. We need to shift our mindset to view the corporate or government computing environment as a battlefield and begin to adopt classic military principles to gain an advantage and balance the asymmetry that is now killing us.

HAL’s Gamble – Will the “Advanced Hawk” break into the Export market?

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Sanjay Badri-Maharaj

On 5 February 2017, a version of the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) was unveiled. The aptly-named “Advanced Hawk” is a joint-venture between BAE Systems and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It has been developed using internal funds on an equal risk basis and offers significant enhancement of the capabilities of the basic Hawk AJT.1 The aircraft, besides being offered as an enhanced capability trainer to larger air arms – India with 123 Hawks in service being a prime candidate – is also being marketed as an affordable light-combat aircraft choice to smaller air forces. While the Hawk AJT was a global success story in the export market, the “Advanced Hawk” enters the market at a time when China has made significant inroads into the light combat aircraft market and would be a direct competitor to the “Advanced Hawk”.2

In choosing to create a new aircraft that goes beyond an upgrade of the existing Hawk AJT, HAL and BAE have gambled on being able to break into the export market. Indeed, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is reputedly not keen to order the “Advanced Hawk” as a combat aircraft and is at best lukewarm at this stage about its necessity for enhanced training.3 However, an examination of previous exports of the Hawk as well as an evaluation of possible customers suggests that sales of the “Advanced Hawk” may not be easily forthcoming due to a combination of fiscal and political constraints in addition to cost-effective competition from Chinese platforms.

The potential export market for the “Advanced Hawk” has to be divided into two segments – customers that want a capability enhanced trainer and those that want a cost-effective light combat aircraft-cum-trainer. It is submitted that the demand for the former is going to be less forthcoming than the latter as larger air forces may opt for upgrades of their Hawks’ avionics to meet future training requirements rather than purchase new aircraft. In fact, BAE Systems and HAL have already taken cognizance of this and are offering upgrade options to existing Hawk customers with various modules from the “Advanced Hawk”.4However, in respect of the latter requirement for cost-effective combat aircraft, the “Advanced Hawk” may be on firmer ground but will nonetheless face severe challenges in finding markets.