4 March 2017

India’s High Stakes in Kazakhstan’s Leadership Transition

Micha’el Tanchum

(Exclusive):In September 2016, India’s long-standing effort to deepen its strategic relations with Kazakhstan experienced an important breakthrough with an Indian-Kazakhstan joint military exercise conducted on Kazakh soil. The energy-rich regional giant is the key to India’s flagging “Connect Central Asia” policy that has placed its primary focus on the three post-Soviet republics that border China.

Although Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s summer 2015 tour of the five Central Asian republics signaled New Delhi’s commitment to promote a higher level of strategic engagement in the region, the upgrade in India’s defense relationship with Kazakhstan is due primarily to the visionary foreign policy of its long-serving leader, President Nursultan Nazarbayev. While the Kazakh president is likely to continue to deepen the level of his cooperation with New Delhi, the future of Kazakhstan’s strategic relationship with India may now rest on the success of the aging Nazarbayev’s bold domestic initiative to transfer power to the Kazakh parliament before he leaves the political scene.

On 25 January 2017, President Nazarbayev made a landmark televised address to the nation announcing a constitutional reform process that would devolve several powers of the presidency onto the country’s parliament. The 76 year old president has served for over a quarter of a century as the first and only head of state of the Central Asian republic located in the strategic heart of the Eurasian continent.

Spanning the western border of China and the eastern borders of Russia, Kazakhstan’s economic and security relationships play a strong role in defining the contours of Eurasia’s regional architecture. Kazakhstan’s stability and political autonomy in the post-Nazarbayev era will be key to the preservation of the fragile power equilibrium in the Eurasian landmass between the West, Russia and China. If Astana were to deviate from Nazabayev’s foreign policy orientation, particularly in the event that a power struggle to succeed the president left the triumphant contender beholden to either Moscow or Beijing, then the current relative balance among the global powers would be disrupted, with either Russia or China enjoying an inordinate advantage in the Eurasian strategic architecture. India’s ability to expand its strategic footprint in Central Asia and become a major actor in Eurasia could be significantly limited by such an outcome.

Sell India F-16s — and Build Them Abroad


It’s the right move for the United States, even if it makes the Trump administration uncomfortable.

Earlier this month, a delegation of U.S. government and business officials flew to New Delhi. Its mission: to reassure the Indian government that the U.S. really wants them to replenish its fighter fleet with F-16s. It’s the right move for a lot of reasons — some of them potentially uncomfortable to the new Trump administration.

The Indian Air Force is working to replace its aging fleet of third-generation, Soviet-era jets with up to 250 fighters that could defend its interests against China and Pakistan should a conflict arise. Late last year, India agreed to purchase 36 French Rafales, but most of its new fighter-jet orders will be filled through a competition between the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen and America’s F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Performance and cost will help determine the outcome, but the Indian government has also stipulated that the winner will also have to commit to producing the fighter in India. It’s a precondition that may not sit well with Trump administration officials focused on preserving American jobs. But sealing a fighter deal would be an important step in strengthening U.S.-India ties. That’s desirable because the two countries share both democratic values and a growing geopolitical concern about China.

Last year, President Obama declared India its first “Major Defense Partner,” the latest development in a defense relationship that grew steadily closer over the past two U.S. administrations. Selling them the F-16 would be another concrete demonstration of America’s commitment to this vital strategic relationship. And solidifying India’s role as a major defense partner will go a long way toward keeping that region of the world in balance. 

Performance and Cost

The original JAS 39 Gripen, designed by SAAB in the 1980s and initially fielded in the late 1990s, was a fourth-generation multirole fighter. The JAS 39E, which first flew in 2008, is a significantly improved version. The E-model boasts an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a robust sensor package that includes Infrared Search and Track (IRST), and a processor that allows real-time data fusion. The jet reportedly costs $85 million a copy, roughly the same as the projected price tag for the stealth F-35A when it enters full-rate production.

Despite Demonetization Doldrums, India Keeps up GDP Growth Rate

Source Link
By Ankit Panda

On Tuesday, India posted its quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth statistics for the period of October-December 2016. Growth came in at 7.0 percent for the period, falling short of the 7.4 percent that had been observed in the third quarter of 2016. As a result of the figure, India maintains its position as the world’s fastest growing large economy.

Tuesday’s figures notably outpace many estimates for fourth quarter growth in 2016, which analysts downgraded over fears that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s radical decision to remove 86 percent of currency notes in circulation as legal tender would have negative short-term effects. The International Monetary Fund, for example, had slashed growth expectations to 6.6 percent on account of the expected negative consequences of demonetization.

In early November 2016, Modi announced that all old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would be outlawed with little warning. The implementation of the policy caused widespread chaos as Indians scrambled to trade in their old notes for new notes. Indian equities fell by more than 6 percent in the aftermath of the announcement, but slowly recovered.

Tuesday’s GDP data vindicates the Modi government’s rationale for implementing the controversial policy. In an address on demonetization on New Year’s Eve 2016, Modi defended the policy, arguing that its stated goals of reining in so-called “black money” — untaxed or hidden wealth — and stemming the use of counterfeit cash that could be used to finance illicit activity would yield long-term benefits.

Would India Support a Post-ISIS Independence Push by the Kurds?

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By Kabir Taneja

The fight against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) over large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria captured by the terror group in its juggernaut expansion and declaration of the “caliphate” in 2014 will at some point be coming to a conclusion. And with that will come a new set of challenges for the region.

While the Iraqi Army along with its affiliates has orchestrated a major push from the south on the ISIS’s bastion city of Mosul, the Kurds have moved in from the north to close in amidst hope of permanently stamping out the structures of the Islamic State from the northern spheres of Iraq. The success of these operations, which have over the past few months started to show as ISIS dwindles, has also started to give the Kurds more impunity to push for one of their own long-standing demands, the declaration of the independent state of Kurdistan.

In the north of Mosul, not far from the capital city Erbil of the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, the Kurdish forces fighting ISIS have dug-in deep and built trenches well beyond the territory that they currently govern, stretching more than 1,050 km in northern Iraq into land that was under the Iraqi Arabs before ISIS took over. According to reports, the Iraqi Kurds have orchestrated the takeover of this land as a standing policy being pushed by officials of the Kurdish government in Erbil. This is seen as spoils for the sacrifices made by the Kurds, known to be the largest ethnic group in the world without their own state, who have fought ISIS through thick and thin for a stronger push in post-ISIS Iraq on their long-standing call on the formation of a fully independent and sovereign state of Kurdistan.

Currently, Erbil is used not just by the Kurds but various militias that are fighting ISIS as a place to rest and replenish before going back to the frontlines such as in Mosul, Al-Bab and elsewhere The Kurdish fighters believe that many of the insurgents currently fighting in battle-hardened areas such as Mosul are in fact crime syndicates that have adopted the veil of the so-called Islamic State. Older groups such as Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and Jaesh-al-Mujahideen, who were always known as Daesh (the Arabic term for ISIS) perhaps pose the biggest challenge for the Kurds, and indeed the people of Mosul and adjoining regions have been confronting this challenge since long before ISIS.

Indian Lawmakers Take Key Steps Toward Recognizing the Importance of Consent

By Padmapriya Govindarajan

Consent is an important theme governing today’s conversation in India regarding women’s safety in public spaces. As violence against women becomes more prominent in media reportage, the resultant dialogue and political demands go beyond just calling for harsher punishment for perpetrators and better grievance redressal overall. Allowing consent to seep into and become an important part of legislative and awareness campaigns is a key goal of welfare groups and activists. Two incidents in February 2017 can be read with hope as signs that such an attitude might be germinating in India.

The Bombay High Court, in a recent verdict regarding a plea for bail, established that a woman’s consent was not defined merely by the absence of a “no” or even the presence of a “yes.” This is a hallmark precedent when you look at the justice system’s approach to date toward cases of violence against women. In an overwhelming number of cases of sexual harassment, assault, or rape, the judicial process and the court of public opinion disproportionately place the onus upon female victims to prove that a crime has occurred and further that they had taken the necessary precautions to avoid it. This includes questioning not just the action(s) of the victim on the day(s) relevant to the case in hand, but also their clothing, behavior, habits, and proclivities.

3 Areas of Opportunity for the US-India Relationship

By Manpreet Singh Anand

The best strategy for U.S.-India relations may be to have no new strategy at all. Whether dealing with an ally or adversary, this White House has been unpredictable to say the least. Yet thus far, India has stood out for being largely unremarkable. This is a good thing. Success in the relationship might be best served by keeping India out of the headlines and just getting down to business. After all, making deals is something that President Donald Trump has touted as his forte.

Following the successive efforts of past administrations, the previous administration doubled down on the relationship with India, bolstered by strong bipartisan Congressional support. Calling it a “defining partnership for the 21st century,” former President Barack Obama saw that the United States’ future – both strategic and economic – will increasingly rely upon how we interact with the larger Indo-Pacific region. As one of the fastest growing large economies in the world that aligned with our interests and values, India would play a key role in that future.

As a result, the Obama administration (of which I was a part) made a number of strategic overtures, including committing to a Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region and calling India a Major Defense Partner, to lay the groundwork for both broadening and deepening our strategic ties. So far, Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have had a good, albeit modest, beginning to their relationship. With an invitation for the prime minister to come to the U.S., there is now an opportunity to identify the priority areas of cooperation that could form the basis of such a visit. In this context, crafting more of a transactional relationship with India to complement the strategic framework already in place would be a welcome approach – at least for the time being.

Pakistan, Afghanistan to Hold Counterterror Talks

Ayaz Gul 

FILE - Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani (R) talks with Pakistan's National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz (L) during a meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, August 13, 2015. The sides have expressed readiness to meet on the sidelines of a regional summit opening in Islamabad Sunday.

Pakistan disclosed Saturday that it is engaged in negotiations with Afghanistan on developing a joint “mechanism” to address mutual cross-border terrorism concerns, and both sides could formalize a deal next week.

Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on foreign policy, told reporters in Islamabad that he will hold further talks on the subject when he meets with Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on the sidelines of a regional summit opening in Islamabad on Sunday.

He said that Rabbani has confirmed his participation in the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organization, or ECO, along with other senior Afghan officials.

Aziz went on to say that both sides see terrorism as a “common enemy” and have agreed that there is a need for cooperation.

Will Afghanistan’s Air Force Soon be Without Vertical Airlift?

Franz J. Marty

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN—The Afghan Air Force is one focal point in efforts to develop strong Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, with air power one of the major advantages of government forces over the insurgency. However, the attention nearly always lies solely on the Afghan Air Force’s combat capabilities, seemingly neglecting also important airlift, which will most likely pose a significant problem in the near future.

Even though less obvious, airlift is probably at least as – if not even more – important than attack capabilities. Of course, the ability to not only strike insurgents directly from the air, but also to preventively deter them from massing in larger formations is a powerful enabler and should not be underestimated. However, insurgents often don’t present clear targets that can be hit from the air without causing collateral damage that threatens to drive the population towards the insurgency (in fact, civilian casualties caused by airstrikes is a common propaganda narrative of the Taliban). Therefore, it could be argued that tactical vertical airlift which allows to swiftly deploy ground forces even into remote areas to engage and pressure insurgents with less risk of collateral damage would in many situations be more effective. In addition, given Afghanistan’s rugged terrain there are numerous remote outposts that rely on air supply by helicopter. Furthermore, helicopters also evacuate wounded soldiers from otherwise inaccessible fronts, which, if not readily done, can have a devastating effect on the morale of ground forces.

Pakistan’s Pashtun Profiling

By Farooq Yousaf

When Donald Trump recently announced a partial ban on the entry of Muslims from certain countries, the Pakistani mainstream media, as well as political elites, engaged in scathing critiques of the Trump administration.

Yet within a matter of days, Pakistan has gone one step ahead of Trump. It is not only profiling its own citizens belonging to the Pashtun ethnic group, but also incarcerating them merely on the basis of their dress, eating habits, and physical attributes.

Pashtuns — also known as Pathans, Pakhtoon, or Pukhtoon — are an ethnic group based in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s northwest. They are also the second largest ethnic group in Pakistan. Historically, the Pashtuns have been associated with negative stereotypes, with the most common being the perception that they are war-loving, barbaric individuals.

These stereotypes came in handy for the bureaucracy of the Punjab government. After a recent spate of terrorist attacks in the country, especially in Lahore, there was a widespread crackdown against anyone who merely “looked Pashtun or Afghan.” Official and unofficial circulars and notices were distributed by the police specifically targeting the Pashtuns and portraying all of them as “suspected terrorists.” And thus, a campaign of profiling and crackdowns started against the Pakistan Pashtuns and Afghan refugees in Punjab.

Russia’s Policy Shift towards Taliban and Pakistan

Manabhanjan Meher

For the second time in the last few months, Russia hosted a Conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on February 15, 2017, this time with an expanded representation of six countries – Russia itself, Iran, China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Interestingly, a key player, the United States, which still maintains 9,800 troops to support the Afghan government’s counter-insurgency efforts against the Taliban, has been kept out of the meeting. But for its part, the US appears to be contemplating an increase in its military commitment, with its commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, advocating to the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that “a few thousand" more NATO trainers are needed to break the stalemate against the Taliban.1India welcomed the Moscow meeting which brought together countries that have stakes in Afghanistan’s peace and security. However, raising concerns on the Russia-led efforts for talks with the Taliban, External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup noted that “We underlined that it is up to the government of Afghanistan to decide whom to engage in direct talks.”2

The two regional meetings (the first was held in December 2016) represent Russia’s first post-Soviet attempt to replay the Afghan game and that too in a big way. However, in contrast to the Soviet motivation of propping up the communist government of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) against a growing insurgency in December 1979, the Russian interest in Afghanistan now is the prevention of the growth and influence of the Islamic State (IS), which, in turn, may have a negative fallout on the security of Central Asia. A further Russian motive in Afghanistan appears to be aimed at keeping the US out of the region.

This major shift in Russia’s Afghanistan policy came immediately after it expressed concerns about the possibility of Afghanistan turning into a safe sanctuary for the Islamic State militants fleeing from Iraq and Syria.3 Speaking at the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference held in Amritsar on December 5, 2016, Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, described the Islamic State as being more dangerous than the Taliban. And three days later, on December 8, 2016, the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan stated that “Our concern is that Daesh not only threatens Afghanistan, but it is also a potent threat to Central Asia, Pakistan, China, Iran, India and even Russia. We have ties with the Taliban to ensure the security of our political offices, consulates and the security of central Asia.”4

Donbas Blockade Exposes Political Fault Lines in Ukraine

By: Maksym Bugriy

It has been one month since a group of demobilized Ukrainian soldiers and veterans of the volunteer battalions took it upon themselves (starting on January 25) to enforce a trade embargo with the occupied territories of Donbas (region of eastern Ukraine encompassing the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces) (Euromaidanpress.com, February 6). Increasingly, this blockade of several rail and road routes leading into occupied Donbas is spilling over into political protests in Kyiv. The government is accused of profiting from the trade with the Moscow-backed separatist authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk, which simultaneously provides an economic lifeline to the separatists, thus prolonging the war (Realist, accessed February 22; Euromaidanpress.com, February 9). Some of the blockade’s organizers, Verkhovna Rada (national parliament) members Volodymyr Parasiuk and Semen Semenchenko, joined by the OUN and some other radical nationalist organizations, clashed with police in the capital, on February 19, as they attempted to set up a protest camp in front of President Petro Poroshenko’s administration building (Ukrainian News, February 20). But the police and National Guard forces swiftly broke up the crowd.

Meanwhile, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has exposed a series of subversive operations it says are being masterminded by Russia, which attempt to spark political chaos and potentially give rise to an insurgency in government-controlled areas of Ukraine. Subversive activities and legislative initiatives to promote a pro-Kremlin agenda were explicitly targeted at provincial groups, some of which have expressed clear separatist sympathies. Several of these groups were expected to smuggle firearms into the national capital. One recording published by the SBU quoted a Russian handler requesting that a known Ukrainian separatist use the campaign slogan “The Revolution of Dignity Continues” during public rallies in Kyiv, on February 20–23, commemorating the victims of the EuroMaidan revolution of 2013–2014 (LB.ua, February 21). Whereas, Ukrainian Military Prosecutor Anatoliy Matios posted photos of seized AK and SVD rifles that the so-called “Odesa People’s Republic” group was allegedly attempting to bring onto Kyiv’s central square (Anatolii Matios February 21).

Russia's Big 'Guns' are Firing a Very Different Type of 'Bullet' These Days

Dave Majumdar

Russia has developed a new artillery-launched small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that it is offering for export.

Under the Russian concept, the UAV would be launched via a 300mm rocket shot from a Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) at ranges of roughly 90 kilometers. Once the rocket is oaver the target area, the drone is released at a height of 500m. The aircraft has an endurance of 20 minutes and can survey area of approximately 25 square kilometers. 

“Technologically, at our own expense, we have already carried out such work,” Nikolai Makarovets, general designer for NPO-Splav told the TASS news agency. “We do not hide the hope that we will have customers in the near future.”

Researcher Sam Bendett at CNA Corporation, who specializes in Russian military affairs, said that the new system—which TASS did not name in its report—is inline with current Russian unmanned systems development.

“This type of UAV development is in line with Russia's diverse development of unmanned systems, from small tactical to large, weaponized platforms,” Bendett said. “This is directed at export markets. The Russians have been working on integrating UAVs into existing artillery systems for at least a decade.”

NATO's Enormous Arms Clutter

By Elisabeth Braw

In the past several weeks, NATO allies have been deploying troops to the Baltic States and Poland, where they are participating in the alliance’s inaugural Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP). The EFP, which involves some 1,000 NATO soldiers on permanent rotation in each of the host countries, is NATO’s answer to Russian aggression in the neighborhood. With the troops has come a wide assortment of equipment made in many different countries. Europe might have a common currency, but it most certainly does not have uniform military equipment. Today EU member states—most of which are also NATO members—operate 154 different weapons systems. The United States, by contrast, has only 27. (A weapons system is a major piece of military equipment, including aircraft, tanks, helicopters, and large naval vessels.)

“Since we don’t have an integrated European defense industry, each country invents its own equipment,” Vincenzo Camporini, a retired Italian Air Force general and a former chief of defense, told me. “As a result, the name of the game is reinventing the wheel.” The United States has only one fighter jet in production, the F-35, which will also be exported to other countries including Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. By contrast, EU member states have a total of three fighter jets in production: France’s Rafale, Sweden’s Gripen, and the Eurofighter, which is flown by Italy, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Likewise, the U.S. Army uses only type of tank, General Dynamics’ M1 Abrams, while EU member states operate 19 different types. Germany’s Bundeswehr, for example, drives the German-made Leopard, the French army drives the French-made AMX Leclerc, the Italian army drives the Italian-made Ariete, the British Army uses the U.K.-made Challenger tank, and the Swedish army drives the Stridsvagn 122, a Swedish version of the Leopard. The same lack of uniformity plagues every European weapons system.

No politician would argue that duplicating military equipment is a good idea. On average, NATO countries spend around 20 percent of their defense budgets on equipment. Using fewer models could make that money go farther. According to the European Commission, the lack of military cooperation costs the EU’s member states 25 billion euros ($26.4 billion) each year. Streamlining military equipment could result in significant savings, which would be very welcome given that the United States recently delivered an ultimatum to its NATO allies on defense spending. “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told NATO defense ministers at a summit in Brussels.

Not Wanted: A Permanent U.S. Presence in Iraq

Doug Bandow

If the American people liked the Iraq War, then they will love a permanent U.S. military presence in that dysfunctional state. Apparently, the Trump administration is considering that possibility.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a February 23 interview at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC: “We have, as has NATO, begun a dialogue about a long-term commitment to grow the capacity, maintain the capacity of Iraqi Security Forces, but no decisions have yet been made yet.” Doing so would be an awful start for President Donald Trump.

Defense Secretary James Mattis suggested the triumph of hope over experience when he declared that “the Iraqi people, the Iraqi military and the Iraqi political leadership recognize what they’re up against and the value of the coalition and the partnership, in particular with the United States.” He added: “I imagine we’ll be in this fight for a while and we’ll stand by each other.”

Actually, it would be hard for Iraq to stand by America, since the Iraqi state has been in crisis for years. Moreover, the mere possibility of Washington, DC taking on a permanent role in Iraq is a dramatic acknowledgement of past failure.

The United States first turned that nation into a military target almost twenty-six years ago after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. But Washington left Saddam Hussein in power. In 2003, the Bush administration invaded to oust him. American officials imagined the Iraqi people would warmly welcome their new overlords as the latter “drained the swamp,” created a pro-Western satellite, established permanent military bases and placed American-paid expatriates at the head of the new government. Iraq would become yet another military outpost enforcing U.S. military hegemony.

How Donald Trump Can Rebuild America’s Nuclear Arsenal

Michaela Dodge

President Donald Trump concluded last week by calling upon to the military to ensure that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack.”

This is a reasonable goal. The United States’ nuclear weapons are meant to deter large-scale attacks that could potentially end life as we know it.

They also serve a nonproliferation purpose. The United States prevents nuclear proliferation by guaranteeing the security of allies around the world who rely on our nuclear deterrent, rather than developing and creating their own.

We’d better make sure our nuclear arsenal is the best it can be.

During the Cold War, the United States designed and developed nuclear weapons that were at a “Ferrari” level relative to other nuclear weapon states. Our warheads were leaps and bounds ahead of those of our adversaries, particularly with regard to their safety and security features.

Despite deploying tens of thousands of these warheads, the United States has never experienced an accidental nuclear detonation.

Today, the nuclear picture is much different. Our nuclear warheads are aging and remain based on designs from the 1970s. The world is very much a different place than it was during the Cold War, yet the United States has completely barred itself from considering what kinds of nuclear warheads would best meet the challenges of today.


By RC Porter

Did Hitler Have A NUCLEAR BOMB? Newly Declassified U.S Documents Suggest Suggest The Nazi’s Successfully Tested A Nuke Before The End Of WWII; What If Hitler Had Successfully Developed The Atomic Bomb?


Allan Hall, Berlin correspondent for the Daily Mail Online, has an article on the publications website (February 23, 2017) with the title above. He writes that “recently declassified file APO 696 from the National Archives in Washington, suggest that Nazi Germany may have tested a nuclear bomb — before the end of World War II. In the file, obtained by the popular [German] newspaper Bild, the task of the academics who prepared the paper between 1944-1947, was the ‘investigations, research, developments, and practical use of the German atomic bomb.” 

“The report was prepared by countless American, and British intelligence officers, and also includes the testimony of four German experts — two chemical physicists, a chemist, and a missile expert.” The report concludes that Hitler’s scientists failed in their attempt to “achieve a breakthrough in nuclear technology; but — that a documented test may have taken place of a rudimentary warhead in 1944,” Mr. Hall writes.

“The statement of the German test pilot, Hans Zinsser in the file, is considered evidence: the missile expert says he observed — in 1944 — a mushroom cloud in the sky during a test flight near Ludwigslust,” Mr. Hall wrote. Zinsser’s “log submitted to the Allied investigation reads: ‘In early October,1944, I flew away 12-15km from a nuclear test station near Ludwigslust (south of Lubeck).” “A cloud shaped like a mushroom with turbulent, billowing sections (at about 7,000 meters) stood, without any seeming connections over the spot where the explosion took place. Strong electrical disturbances, and the impossibility to continue radio communication as by lighting turned up.” Zinsser “estimated the cloud stretching for 6.5 miles; and, described further ‘strange colorings,’ followed by a blast wave which translated into a ‘strong pull on the stick — meaning his cockpit controls An hour later, a pilot in a different machine took off from Ludwigslust — and, observed the same phenomenon.”



The slogans and pageantry following the rollout of the Trump Doctrine has left U.S. partners and allies in South Asia with much to be anxious about. What does an “America First” foreign policy look like for them? How will this change the currents of a 15-year state building project in Afghanistan? What does a war on “radical Islamic terrorism” really mean? While allies are in an anxious wait and see mode as the new administration generates its foreign policy, we wondered what Afghan professionals thought of the challenges ahead. To that end, we conducted phone and email interviews with a dozen current and former officials residing in Afghanistan and working at various levels of military, intelligence, and political affairs in the Afghan government. Not surprisingly, they paint a gloomy picture of security conditions in the country. They also express hope and optimism the United States will remain an “all weather” partner. At the same time, they are offended by the rhetoric and rumored policy changes coming out of the Trump administration. Like a bull in a china shop, Trump is shattering years of patient diplomacy and costly security assistance as Afghanistan enters yet another year of uncertain outcomes.

Growing distrust between U.S. and Afghan allies could not come at a worse time. Most of those we spoke with represent the new generation of emerging Afghan leaders. This generation was born into conflict, but they are eager to lead their country out of war, repression, and religious fundamentalism. They are modern, ambitious, and open to engaging with the Western world. This is why they are so disheartened to see the sudden shift in U.S. policy from inclusive to exclusive politics. At a time when their own state leadership is in question, our Afghan allies want reassurance of U.S. leaders’ commitment to the international order and ideals it has long stood for.



A downed pilot or dislocated friendly servicemember is sighted and being closed on by an overwhelming enemy force. Suddenly, coordinated airstrikes rain down to avert the enemy and protect the friendly position. This is the result of one of the most misunderstood and under-used military instruments of airpower — the airborne forward air controller. Distinguished from his ground-based brethren by an appended “(A)” for airborne, the FAC(A) is the airborne equivalent of a joint terminal air controller (JTAC). Both the JTAC and FAC(A) can nominate and mark targets, de-conflict airspace, relay critical ground schemes of maneuver, and authorize airstrikes — all for the purpose of synergizing the ground and air attack team. One does it from the ground, while the other performs it from the air.

The Air Force has the equipment, know-how, and no shortage of targets to use this skillset — yet this tool remains in its box gathering rust. With “far more mission than Air Force today” and a growing pilot shortage, some might conclude that this derivative mission should be retired. This is dead wrong.

The brewing idea by the Air Force to rapidly procure 250 to 300 two-seat OA-X aircraft to perform light attack missions could be a welcome springboard to rejuvenate the FAC(A) mission, but it also has the potential to wreak havoc on manning. Beyond the highly publicized pilot shortage crisis, there is an even worse shortage of fighter weapons system officers, those who fly in the backseats of the B-1, F-15E, and F-18D/F. It may be possible to kill three birds with one stone by simultaneously providing an increase in force structure tailored for irregular conflicts, alleviating the shortage of fighter aviators, and restoring FAC(A) capability to the combat air force.

State of Affairs

Today there are four main platforms that perform the FAC(A) mission: The AV-8B, A-10, F-16, and F-18. Since the A-10 focuses on ground missions, roughly half of the pilots in a typical Warthog squadron unsurprisingly maintain a FAC(A) qualification. However, multi-role F-16 and F-18 communities must delicately balance FAC(A) qualification, currency, and proficiency with other missions that compete for limited resources, such as counter-air, suppression of enemy air defenses, interdiction, close air support, and more. Because of these competing priorities and a longstanding aversion to use the skill-set, FAC(A) has fallen by the wayside.

Link Army, Navy Missile Defense Nets: Adm. Harris


SAN DIEGO: The Army and Navy must link their missile defense systems into a single network so Navy weapons can hit targets spotted by Army radars and vice versa, the chief of Pacific Command said today. That’s a daunting technical task but, if surmounted, it could dramatically improve defense against North Korean, Chinese, or Russian missile salvos.

“I believe that Army missileers should incorporate their air defense systems into the Navy’s integrated fire control – counter-air, or NIaaFC-CA, architecture,” Adm. Harry Harris told the AFCEA-USNI West convention here.

Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

“I want them to be able to deliver a missile on target, and I want them to be able to do it interchangeably,” Harris elaborated to reporters afterwards. “In other words, I want the Navy to be able to do the sensing and the Army to do the shooting, or the Army to do the sensing and the Navy to do the shooting.” A Navy E-2D Hawkeye radar plane might spot an incoming missile for a land-based Army Patriot battery, for example, or an Army AN/TPY-2 radar might send targeting data to an Aegis destroyer.

Getting data from any radar to any weapon this way is much easier said than done. The Army’s still working on making this happen among different Army systems, let alone with other services. Currently, for example, a Patriot battery gets targeting data from a purpose-built Patriot radar by way of a purpose-built Patriot command post. The Army’s developing a new network called IBCS to connect all its disparate air and missile defense systems, and it’s had some successful tests, but it’s years from entering service.

The U.S. Army Is Ready to Go to 'War' With What Could Be a Big Weakness

Kris Osborn

The Army has established a new “Software Solarium” program to discuss and address the growing dependence of tanks, infantry carriers, radios, artillery and other weapons on software improvements.

“No matter what weapon system -- whether you're talking about a tank and the amount code such as software code that’s now resident in our main battle tank or our newest troop carriers -- they're all very software-defined because of the platforms that we've integrated into their systems,”. said Major General Bruce T. Crawford, Commander of Communications Electronics Command (CECOM).

The Software Solarium II, which took place in early Feb. at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., brought together Army, academic and industry leaders into a single forum to address growing challenges in software governance, policy, sustainment and cyber protections, the Army said in a statement.

Army leaders attending this most recent Solarium, an extension of an initial forum in Sept. of last year, included flag officers and program managers from Army modernization, acquisition, information technology and cyberspace arenas.

Crawford explained that software has increasingly played a central role in the maturation and combat effectiveness of weapon systems over the last 15 years.

“The capability that we have today in our formation, especially at the tactical level, is night and day, to be honest with you, compared to what we had in 2003,” he said.

Emphasizing that there is not really a weapon system of relevance on the modern battlefield that does not heavily draw from software components, Crawford said the evolution of software applications has changed tactics, techniques and procedures in combat.

Defense at a Time of Strategic Transition

Ashton B. Carter

Abridged remarks by then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on receiving the CSIS Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize last month.

Thanks for that kind introduction, John [Hamre], and for the first-ever Nunn Prize. This is a particular honor for me because I have such respect for both CSIS and for Sam Nunn.

Few people over the past 50 years have made more lasting and forward-looking contributions to Americaa’s security than Sam Nunn. As a Senator, Sam was a serious and studious steward of our national defense in the last decades of the Cold War and thereafter. As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam was a leader in strengthening and reforming the Pentagon. And in the years since, he has been a true statesman, helping guide America’s relationship with the world, particularly on nuclear weapons.

Through it all, Sam has demonstrated that he understands that America’s defense is so vital that we, to whom it is entrusted, must ensure its continuity and excellence across the years, across the domains of armed conflict not just air and land and sea, but space, and cyberspace, across parties, from presidential administration to presidential administration—and in that connection, I’m committed to helping President-elect Trump and his team hit the ground running—and also across our government, and from strategic era to strategic era.

That last one is important and is the theme, I think, of what this recognition of Sam Nunn means. Sam and I worked closely together—a quarter century ago and with his friend and colleague Dick Lugar—to confront the unique challenges of another transition between strategic eras at the end of the Cold War.

Why Trump Needs to Make Strategic Investments in the U.S. Military

Lauren Fish

The seemingly shocking numbers are grabbing attention: a defense spending increase near 10 percent. But the reality is, increased spending is overdue. The global role of the United States requires a strong U.S. military with ready forces and modern equipment—a military that is prepared to counter multiple, simultaneous threats.

Since the Budget Control Act passed, Defense Department funding has been substantially reduced from the 2012 budget created by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. In that same five-year period, the international security environment has undergone significant changes. The continuing threat from the Islamic State, a revanchist Russia and a rising China have all placed pressure on the United States to maintain a high operational tempo, as well as sustain its technological superiority.

President Trump’s budget increase would pursue his proposed increase in military capacity: boosting Army active duty troops, Marine Corps battalions, Air Force tactical aircraft and dramatically rebuilding an undersized Navy. It would also go a long way to helping stabilize the currently unpredictable Defense Department budgeting process for long-term planning to address today’s challenges.

Readiness Challenges Abound

Lamenting the negative implications of sequestration has become a broken record in Washington, DC. It is a constant of any Department of Defense hearing before Congress. But the argument is not one of parochial interest in more funding or fewer strings, it’s a real concern. In 2013, the first year the Budget Control Act caps were in place, resulting cuts disproportionately impacted military readiness.

Why America Should Fear Russia's Bombers (And Their Cruise Missiles)

Dave Majumdar

The bottom line for the Russian military is that while its current bomber fleet is a fraction of the size of its Soviet-era predecessor, the Soviet Union’s investments in advanced cruise missile technology is finally paying off. Missiles such as the Kh-101 and Kh-102 likely would have entered service in the early 2000s had the Soviet Union remaianed intact. The new missiles afford Russia’s truncated bomber fleet a long-range precision strike capability that was until recently the sole purview of the Pentagon. Thus while the Russian bomber force of the future might utilize the same airframes as they have in decades past, those aircraft will carry ever more capable weapons as time goes on.

While the Kremlin makes grand pronouncements about developing a new PAK-DA stealth bomber, the Russian Air Force will likely continue to rely on its force of Tupolev Tu-95MS Bears for its long-aviation force for the foreseeable future. Eventually, the Bears will likely give way to new-build versions of the Mach 2.0 capable Tu-160 Blackjack, but the chances of the PAK-DA ever materializing are fairly remote.

Russians like to announce new programs because it’s cheap to make aspirational announcements that may never be realized, especially in fiscally austere conditions,” Michael Kofman, a research scientist specializing in Russian military affairs at CNA Corporation, told The National Interest.

Kofman noted that Moscow’s timeline for developing the PAK-DA is wildly optimistic given current fiscal constraints, and moreover, Russia has not started developing an adequate powerplant for the new bomber. While Russian media reports have cited the continued development work on an upgraded version of the Tu-160’s Kuznetsov NK-32 afterburning turbofan for the PAK-DA, that engine is more suited for a new, more refined version of the Blackjack.

The U.S. Army Wants Its Own "Stealthy" Weapon in the Air

Kris Osborn

Bell intends to build upon and advance existing tiltrotor technology such as that which is currently operation in the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft. The Osprey continues to perform well in a wide range of missions and has recently been selected by the Navy to perform the Carrier On-board Delivery or COD mission transporting troops, equipment and weapons on-and-off surface ships. 

The V-280 Valor is designed to be slightly bigger than an existing Black Hawk helicopter and use 24-inch seats to carry 11 passengers with gear, Tobin said.

“What Bell has done is taking its historical V-22 aircraft, and all the demonstrators before that, and applies them to this next-generation tilt-rotor. It is a straight wing versus a V-22 which is not straight. This reduces complexity,” Dan Bailey, JMR TD Program Manager, said in an interview with Scout Warrior last year. “They are also building additional flapping into the rotor system and individual controls that should allow for increased low-speed maneuverability.”

Bell Helicopter engineers and weapons developers and looking at innovative ways to reduce the radar signature of their new, next-generation V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft slated to be operational by the 2030s.

While developers stop short of calling the new project a “stealth” helicopter, they do acknowledge they are engineering “stealthy” characteristics -- such as infrared (IR) heat suppressing systems and various fuselage contour constructions as a specific way to make the new aircraft less targetable by enemies.

“We will definitely employ some passive measures in terms of how we shape the aircraft, to make it invisible. The key is not to be able to target it and reduce the signature passively so radar sweeps do not see anything. In the end, you do not want to get detected or engaged,” Vince Tobin, vice president of advanced tiltrotor systems, Bell Helicopter, told Scout Warrior in an interview. 

Integrating the Army Into the US Approach to the Pacific

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By Robert Farley

U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) Commander Admiral Harry Harris is the latest to call for increasing integration of the U.S. Army into battle network development in the Pacific. Last week at the West 2017 conference, Admiral Harris argued for integration of U.S. Army operated anti-ship cruise missiles into the Navy’s fire control network architecture. He also suggested tighter integration of the Army’s extensive air defense capabilities into the broader Navy network.

Admiral Harris’ comments accord with the concept of Multi-Domain Battle, which the Army and Marine Corps have pushed over the last year as an answer to concerns over their ability to contribute to a high intensity war in the Western Pacific. At its core, Multi-Domain Battle hopes to enable the U.S. military to do what China’s PLA has already done; integrate land-based assets into an A2/AD battle in which sea and air assets predominate. The United States has enough bases in the Western Pacific to usefully employ long-range missiles, sensors, and other assets in an A2/AD fight; it requires an operational concept, an organizational commitment, and a forward looking procurement strategy to turn the Army’s potential contribution into a reality.