13 August 2017

*** China May Finally Be Ready to Work With the United States on North Korea


The United States and China appear to have reached accord over a draft U.N. resolution on fresh sanctions against North Korea. Anonymous diplomatic sources say that the United States aims to hold a vote Aug. 5. This has been the U.S. and Chinese approach for some time — to first engage in bilateral dialogue before formally proposing sanctions measures to the broader U.N. Security Council.

Washington handed over a new draft sanctions resolution to China shortly after an emergency July 5 U.N. Security Council meeting in reaction to North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test. The United States insisted that it wanted to avoid the watered-down sanctions leveled in the past, a specific allusion to China's pattern of playing defense in the United Nations to ensure that sanctions do not go too far in destabilizing North Korea.

Shortly after the July 5 meeting, China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jiey cautioned against rushing the measures and said an improvement of the situation might reduce the urgency, specifically noting his desire for further North Korean tests to be prevented by diplomatic means. On July 28, however, North Korea tested its second ICBM, ratcheting up pressure on China to act. The following week, the U.S. announced it would launch new investigations into Chinese trade practices — a sign that it will no longer allow hoped-for cooperation to limit it from firm action. The investigation could allow the U.S. administration to eventually unleash a slate of retaliatory trade measures against China — a prospect very much on Beijing's mind as it decides how to proceed regarding North Korea. 


India's Soaring Space Ambitions

By Neeta Lal

India’s space program is making giant strides on the world stage, but it can still do more. 

On February 15, 2017, the world watched in awe as the Indian Space Research Organization successfully blasted off a record-breaking 104 nano-satellites, along with a 714-kg satellite for earth observation, into orbit from a single rocket. The entire operation took around 30 minutes.

Of the more than 100 smaller satellites, weighing under 10 kg each, three were Indian-owned, 96 were from U.S. companies, and the rest belonged to Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UAE. The milestone launch, from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in south India’s Sriharikota, overtook the 2014 Russian record of launching 37 satellites in a single burst. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the accomplishment on Twitter as an “exceptional achievement.”

This wasn’t ISRO’s first brush with fame. In 2014, the state-run organization’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) waltzed seamlessly into orbit around the Red Planet. India was the fourth to achieve this complex feat after the United States, Russia, and the European Space Agency. But what made ISRO’s accomplishment unique was that it was the only organization to do so on its first attempt and that too within a budget of $73 million. Modi quipped that MOM cost less to make than the Hollywood movie Gravity.

Aligning India’s Look East Policy with development of Northeast states

By Anamika Shaivya

India’s thriving relations with nations in east and Southeast Asia, alongside its growing impact in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions since the 1990s, in general comprise the Look East Policy.

In the last two decades, the policy got official status and has been specified whenever India’s relations with these nations are discussed. The policy evolved as India’ fulcrum to its relations with the Southeast Asian nations from the 1990s, when it started as an initiative to enhance India’s financial connections with “tiger economies” in Southeast Asia.

Often alluded to as being in its “phases two and three”, and turned into “Act East Policy” by the Narendra Modi administration, the approach now plans to combine financial aspects with strategic concerns through a growing Indian Naval force, rework India’s relations with Asian powers in Southeast Asia and East Asia with a dominant China being the key concern. Also, the focus is to link up the development of India’s strategically salient but economically unsafe Northeast with the Look East Policy talk.

Tragically, India’s touted two-decade old Look East Policy till now had failed to consider the nation’s own east. A long way from savouring the products of government policy, the area and its occupants have, for a long time, been denied of even essential services. It came somewhat late, yet New Delhi’s acknowledgement that its ling disregard of Northeast had cost them both nation building and strategic advantage prompted a more proactive way to deal with the area in the most recent decade. These endeavours, however, are still nowhere close to what they ought to be.

India-China stand-off: The truth from the Dragon's mouth


A new book reproduces original Chinese maps that contradict Chinese propaganda.

The book reveals Chinese intelligence admissions that Beijing never maintained any army base, customs office or other government function in the disputed area until 1983.

Claude Arpi digs deeper.

On August 1, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, chairman of the Central Military Commission and president of the People's Republic of China, presided over a grand function to celebrate the 90th founding anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, PLA.

From the rostrum of the Great Hall of People, he solemnly affirmed: 'The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions. We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory from the country at any time, in any form.'

The message was probably for India.

He urged the PLA to focus on war preparedness and forge an elite and powerful force that 'is always ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win.'

'All thoughts must be put on combat, and all work should focus on combat so the military can assemble, charge forward and win any time,' he said.

Meanwhile, the standoff continues on the ridge near the tri-junction of Tibet-Bhutan and Sikkim; for nearly two months, Indian and Chinese soldiers have faced-off here.

Is India's Military Actually Ready for War With China?

By K.S. Venkatachalam

As India and China continued their standoff on the Doklam plateau at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, there is a possibility, if the Chinese media is to be believed, of imminent war. Both the print and the electronic media in China have gone ballistic with propaganda against India. Over 140 articles have appeared in the print media branding India as an aggressor, and warning it of unavoidable consequences if it fails to unilaterally withdraw its forces from the disputed territory.

The present dispute is between China and Bhutan, not India, but since New Delhi has a friendship treaty with Bhutan, which includes protecting its sovereignty, India had rushed troops to Doklam to remove Chinese soldiers from the disputed area. China is miffed with India as the disputed territory does not belong to India. India, on the other hand, is concerned that if China builds a road on the plateau, it could have serious security implications for India, as it will give it easy access to India’s northeast region via the Siliguri corridor. India has raised its security concerns with China and has offered a solution, where both the armies withdraw from the disputed area and maintain the status quo until a final resolution is found to the dispute.

China has not responded to India’s suggestion that both the countries push back their troops by 250 meters from the disputed territory. Instead, China has insisted that India unilaterally withdraw its troops from the Doklam plateau, while refusing to withdraw its own troops. China has also refused all diplomatic overtures from India to amicably resolve the issue.

Did the US Fight a 16 Year War in Afghanistan Only to Lose the Country to Iran?


FARAH, Afghanistan — A police officer guarding the outskirts of this city remembers the call from his commander, warning that hundreds of Taliban fighters were headed his way.

“Within half an hour, they attacked,” recalled Officer Najibullah Amiri, 35. The Taliban swarmed the farmlands surrounding his post and seized the western riverbank here in Farah, the capital of the province by the same name.

It was the start of a three-week siege in October, and only after American air support was called in to end it and the smoke cleared did Afghan security officials realize who was behind the lightning strike: Iran.

Four senior Iranian commandos were among the scores of dead, Afghan intelligence officials said, noting their funerals in Iran. Many of the Taliban dead and wounded were also taken back across the nearby border with Iran, where the insurgents had been recruited and trained, village elders told Afghan provincial officials.

The assault, coordinated with attacks on several other cities, was part of the Taliban’s most ambitious attempt since 2001 to retake power. But it was also a piece of an accelerating Iranian campaign to step into a vacuum left by departing American forces — Iran’s biggest push into Afghanistan in decades.

Trump’s indecision on Afghanistan leaves generals in lurch


U.S. and Afghan military commanders battling the Taliban and the Islamic State are encountering an obstacle they never expected, sources close to them say: months of indecision by President Donald Trump on whether to commit thousands of additional American troops.

Instead of approving their plan for more troops as anticipated, the president has caught his generals off guard by questioning whether the 16-year-long effort to stabilize Afghanistan is still worth it, according to current and former military officials familiar with the conversations. Meanwhile, news reports raise the prospects he might replace the top U.S. commander in the region or hand private contractors the day-to-day task of advising the flagging Afghan security forces.

Amid the uncertainty, the security situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. Deaths of Afghan security forces in the early months of 2017 were “shockingly high,” the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction recently reported, continuing a years-long upward trend. The Afghan government “controls or influences” only 60 percent of the country’s 407 districts as of early this summer, down from 65 percent the same time last year, according to the U.S. military headquarters in Kabul.

Is It a Good Idea to Privatize the War in Afghanistan?

by S. Rebecca Zimmerman

Several weeks ago Erik Prince, best known as the CEO of the Blackwater Corporation, wrote an op-ed arguing that the U.S. should privatize the war in Afghanistan.

The outcry has been voluble. Commentators have highlighted the moral qualmsassociated with private armies, the propensity toward violence and warlordism of mercenary forces, and the conflicts of interest that could be inherent in such a plan.

And yet, amid a deep frustration with current options, administration officials are reportedly giving the plan some thought. It is important not to dismiss this plan categorically, but to consider it on the merits, understanding how contracting for military services has been undertaken in Afghanistan to date.

Doing so highlights the risks of such a plan, not only to the Afghanistan mission, but to the nation's future military force.

First, contracting for Afghanistan has often been subject to “wishful staffing.”

During the bidding process, companies tend to highlight standout individuals who could work on the project. But the star résumés that win the bid don't always reflect the reality of the hiring process.

Consider the Human Terrain System, which billed itself as doctorate-level specialists in ethnography (PDF) and regional studies. While the original few teams were composed of such highly qualified people, as it expanded, later teams were staffed with less qualifiedmembers.

In Afghanistan, U.S. Exits, and Iran Comes In


By CARLOTTA GALL

FARAH, Afghanistan — A police officer guarding the outskirts of this city remembers the call from his commander, warning that hundreds of Taliban fighters were headed his way.

“Within half an hour, they attacked,” recalled Officer Najibullah Amiri, 35. The Taliban swarmed the farmlands surrounding his post and seized the western riverbank here in Farah, the capital of the province by the same name.

It was the start of a three-week siege in October, and only after American air support was called in to end it and the smoke cleared did Afghan security officials realize who was behind the lightning strike: Iran.

The assault, coordinated with attacks on several other cities, was part of the Taliban’s most ambitious attempt since 2001 to retake power. But it was also a piece of an accelerating Iranian campaign to step into a vacuum left by departing American forces — Iran’s biggest push into Afghanistan in decades.

President Trump recently lamented that the United States was losing its 16-year war in Afghanistan, and threatened to fire the American generals in charge.

There is no doubt that as the United States winds down the Afghan war — the longest in American history, and one that has cost half a trillion dollars and more than 150,000 lives on all sides — regional adversaries are muscling in.

Another Russia-U.S. Proxy War Looms Over Afghanistan

BENNETT SEFTEL

As the Trump Administration struggles to develop a strategy in Afghanistan, Russia has surreptitiously inserted itself into the mix. In late July, reports once again surfaced that Russia has been providing material support to Taliban militants battling U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces. In some respects, this seems as though a complete role reversal between the U.S. and Russia in Afghanistan has taken place over the last three-plus decades. During the 1980s, the CIA funneled weapons to Afghan rebels who were fighting Kabul’s communist government and the Soviet troops backing it. And now, by aiding the Taliban, Russia has seized an opportunity to inflict casualties on U.S. supported Afghan forces and extract revenge.

“The Russians probably look at this role reversal as a delicious irony and a payback for their own involvement in Afghanistan years ago,” Mike Sulick, Cipher Brief expert and former Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, told The Cipher Brief. “They have a long memory. I’m sure many of them still resent the U.S. provision of weapons to the Afghans and eventually, the Russians walking from the area with their heads held down.”

Russia’s interests in Afghanistan are longstanding, dating back to 19th century when the British and Russian empires vied for political and military control over the country in what came to be known as the “Great Game.” Today, Moscow views security along Afghanistan’s northern border with Tajikistan – a key Russian ally – as critical for its regional interests. Furthermore, Russian President Vladimir Putin may be chomping at the bit to expand his influence into a part of the world where the U.S. has gained little traction in cultivating capable partners or recruiting trusted allies.

Amid the Doklam Standoff, China’s Vice Premier Will Visit Nepal

By Charlotte Gao

More evidence has shown that China is trying hard to solve the Doklam standoff with India via some indirect channels, although China refuses to let the domestic Chinese audience know about its efforts.

On August 8, citing Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Nepal’s deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, Nepal’s English-language newspaper The Kathmandu Post reported that China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang will visit Nepal on August 14.

Although Mahara denied that Wang Yang’s upcoming visit has anything to do with the standoff between China and India, the sensitive timing together with Wang’s high-level official title indicate otherwise.

The other equally important information Mahara revealed during his press briefing was that Nepal vows to remain neutral in the dispute between China and India. Mahara said that Nepal will not be “influenced” either by India or China and will not “get dragged” into their border dispute. “Our policy on boundary dispute between India and China is clear,” he emphasized. As The Kathmandu Post noted, this is also the first time that Nepal made its position clear since the standoff between India and China broke out nearly two months ago.

It is obvious that Nepal’s geographic position puts it in an awkward situation in this dispute: it borders China in the north and India in the south, east, and west. Although Nepal does not border Bhutan, the disputed Sikkim area is located between Nepal and Bhutan. Thus, if any real conflict happened in the disputed area, Nepal wouldn’t be able to avoid the impact.

Has China's Rise Topped Out?

Michael Schuman 

The fall from grace of China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. continues to get steeper. Not long ago, the mysterious firm was chasing one foreign deal after another, becoming a symbol of China’s global economic ambitions. Now it appears the government may be pressuring Anbang to divest those prized foreign assets. If that proves to be the case, China will have given foreign businessmen yet another reason to be wary of working with Chinese companies: the uncertainty of an erratic, intrusive state meddling in private financial affairs.

But the Anbang case is also part of something bigger, and for China’s economic future, scarier. In just about every category, China’s rise into a global economic superpower has stalled. And the Chinese government sits at the heart of the problem.

Most people around the world still seem to believe China’s ascent is relentless and inevitable. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed that while more of those polled still see the U.S. as the world’s leading economy, China is quickly narrowing the gap. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been feeding that positive image by presenting his country as a champion of globalization, trade and economic progress.

Statistics tell a different story. The common perception is that China is swamping the world with exports of everything from mobile phones to steel to sneakers. In fact, the entire Chinese export machine is sputtering. Between 2006 and 2011, China’s total merchandise exports nearly doubled, powering the country through the Great Recession. Since then, they’ve increased less than 11 percent, according to World Trade Organization data.

Russia Is Continuing Its Cyberattack on America Right Now

BILL BUZENBERG

President Donald Trump trashed the Russia investigation once again last week at a rally in West Virginia, saying that “there were no Russians in our campaign” and denouncing “a total fabrication” to enthralled supporters. “Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania?” he asked mockingly. “Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?”

There may well have been, for anyone in the crowd scrolling through a smartphone.

As Trump spoke, Russian-linked social-media networks were busy attacking Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, using the same type of digital operations that the Kremlin deployed against the 2016 presidential election. Russian-linked Twitter accounts had for days been piling onto a growing campaign by the so-called alt-right to purge Trump’s national security adviser—who is viewed by some of the president’s base as a “globalist tool” and a threat to their hardline nationalist agenda. Meanwhile, recent content from Russian state media RT and Sputnik has included stories such as “What’s Behind Trump’s Striking Back at Washington’s ‘Russophobes’”—a piece that went on at length about McMaster “falling out of favor with Trump.”

Some of Russia’s digital efforts to continue to disrupt and influence US politics are now more in the open, thanks to “Hamilton 68,” a new dashboard tracing Russian-linked information warfare on Twitter. A project of the nonpartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy, Hamilton tracks 600 accounts in real time, analyzing “a network of accounts linked to and participating in Russian influence campaigns,” according to the site.“Here’s what #Putin wants Americans talking about.”

WAR OF THE WORDS: NORTH KOREA, TRUMP, AND STRATEGIC STABILITY

VIPIN NARANG AND ANKIT PANDA

North Korea continues to dominate the Trump administration’s energies on foreign policy, and matters do not appear to be improving anytime soon. Recent events have illustrated that even as the strategic situation worsens with North Korea’s steady march toward an operational nuclear strike capability against the U.S. homeland, the potential for a serious nuclear crisis lies just a few words away.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed resolution 2371 imposing a basket of new sanctions on North Korea after its two tests of the Hwasong-14 (KN20), its first missile capable of reaching the continental United States. North Korea responded by threatening “retaliation thousands of times” over and bluntly declaring to the United States that it should not believe “its land is safe across the ocean,” an obvious reference to its increasing ability to target the American homeland with an intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM). In the four days since the passage of the sanctions, the United States has entered uncharted waters, culminating in a direct threat from President Donald Trump. The president’s words either signified his real intent, committing the United States to taking military action against North Korea — which risks nuclear escalation — or they were mere bluster, which undermines America’s efforts to reassure its East Asian allies of U.S. extended deterrence commitments.

China, Russia and the Shifting Landscape of Arms Sales

By Siemon Wezeman

Following the end of the cold war and the break-up of the Soviet Union, there were rapid decreases in Russian military budgets. Soviet military expenditure had stood at almost USD $350 billion in 1988. However, by 1992 it had fallen to USD $60 billion and in 1998 was only USD $19 billion. The more flexible parts of the budget suffered the most, such as those for procurement and operations. At the same time, the Russian arms industry saw several major clients for its weapons disappear, chief among them the former Warsaw Pact members and Iraq. By 1992, the arms industry Russia had inherited from the Soviet Union was in serious trouble. Most of its internal market and part of its export market was gone.

In parallel with this development, China was embarking on a serious military modernization. Boosted by its rapidly growing economy, it began to implement a long-planned reorganization of its armed forces and the acquisition of advanced weaponry. (This modernization had been planned since the 1970s and was given extra impetus by the poor performance of China’s armed forces against Viet Nam in 1979.) Chinese military spending has increased almost every year since 1989, the first year of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data for China, from USD $21 billion in 1988 to USD $215 billion in 2015. With this surge, China overtook Russia’s spending in 1998 and within five years had become the second largest spender globally behind the United States.

Russia Finds a New Way to Wage an Age-Old War


War isn't what it used to be. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in Russia's ongoing struggle with the West for influence, which now seems to take place in the shadows as often as it does in plain view. With the dawn of the digital age, conflicts between great powers have spread from battlespace to cyberspace, something the Kremlin has embraced with open arms by honing its capabilities in hybrid warfare.

The term "hybrid warfare" may be in vogue these days, but it has been in practice for centuries. The Napoleonic Wars, revolutions across the Americas and the Cold War all featured it in one way or another by combining conventional and unconventional tactics. But the recent evolution of technology and mass media has reinvented the concept, changing its very nature with the introduction of elements like trolls, bots and hacktivists. Though there is some debate about the term's definition, hybrid warfare — at least for the purposes of this analysis — now can include the deployment of any number of tools in the cyber realm, in addition to traditional troops, paramilitary groups, punitive economic measures, political manipulation and the spread of propaganda and disinformation. And as the costs of conventional conflict have risen, so, too, has hybrid warfare's prominence as a tool in international relations.

A new missile crisis is here, and Trump is no JFK


This October marks the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the world ever came to thermonuclear war.

I’ve been reading about it this summer as the war of words between our president, Donald J. Trump, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un escalates, along with that country’s missile program. On Tuesday The Washington Post reported that North Korea can now miniaturize nuclear warheads that can fit in its missiles, which now may be able to reach California.

In response, Trump spontaneously threatened that North Korea would “be met with fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” Hours later Kim vowed to encircle the U.S. territory of Guam with “an enveloping fire.”

U.S. on North Korea: ‘We’re Speaking With One Voice’

To say the rhetoric is heating up is a huge understatement. We are quickly moving toward a crisis that has many parallels with the epic showdown in the Caribbean more than half a century ago. I’ve written here that a North Korean crisis — especially, God forbid, a second Korean War — would be the biggest threat to global stock markets. It also could become an existential threat to millions of human beings.

The Return of Marco Polo’s World and the U.S. Military Response

by ROBERT D. KAPLAN

AS EUROPE DISAPPEARS, EURASIA COHERES.
The supercontinent is becoming one fluid,
comprehensible unit of trade and conflict,
as the Westphalian system of states
weakens and older, imperial legacies –
Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish –
become paramount. Every crisis from
Central Europe to the ethnic-Han Chinese
heartland is now interlinked.

There is one singular battlespace.

What follows is an historical and geographical guide to it.


“I have rarely appreciated an essay as much. It is seminal.” – Henry Kissinger
THE DISPERSION OF THE WEST1

Never before in history did Western civilization reach such a point of geopolitical concision and raw power as during the Cold War and its immediate aftermath. For well over half a century, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) condensed a millennia-long tradition of political and moral values – the West, in shorthand – into a robust military alliance. NATO was a cultural phenomenon before it was anything. Its spiritual roots reach back to the philosophical and administrative legacies of Greece and Rome, to the emergence of Christendom in the early Middle Ages, and to the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries – from which the ideas of the American Revolution emerged. Of course, key nations of the West fought as an alliance in the First and Second World Wars, and those emergency contingencies constituted forerunners to NATO’s more secure and elaborate structures. Such structures, in turn, were buttressed by a continent-wide economic system, culminating in the European Union (EU). The EU gave both political support and quotidian substance to the values inherent in NATO – those values being, generally, the rule of law over arbitrary fiat, legal states over ethnic nations, and the protection of the individual no matter his race or religion. Democracy, after all, is less about elections than about impartial institutions. The end of the Long European War, 1914–1989, saw those values reign triumphant, as communism was finally defeated and NATO and the EU extended their systems throughout Central and Eastern Europe, from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south. And it categorically was a long European war, as wartime deprivations, political and economic, existed in Soviet satellite states until 1989, when the West triumphed over Europe’s second totalitarian system, just as it did over the first in 1945.

US intelligence: 30 countries building cyber attack capabilities

By Steve Ranger

Officials say Russia has "highly advanced" offensive cyber program, and that only its 'senior-most' officials could have authorized election-focused data thefts. 

More than 30 countries are developing offensive cyber attack capabilities, according to US intelligence chiefs.

They warn that cyber attacks against critical infrastructure and information networks will give attackers a means of bypassing traditional defence measures.

The warning came in a joint statement by US director of National Security James Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence Marcel Lettre, and NSA and US Cyber Command director Admiral Mike Rogers, at a hearing on foreign cyber threats by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Protecting critical infrastructure such as crucial energy, financial, manufacturing, transportation, communication, and health systems, will become an increasingly complex national security challenge," the written statement noted.

It also warned that nations equipped with similar offensive cyber capabilities could be prone to preemptive attack and rapid escalation in a future crisis, "because both sides would have an incentive to strike first".

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

by US Department of State

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the “Act”), which requires the Department of State to provide to Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act.

Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.


Chapters






Aerospace Combat Command Instead of Space Force?

By BILL BRUNER

Over the past two years, America’s near-peer competitors have reorganized and integrated their air, deterrent, missile defense, cyber and space forces to make them more effective.

But U.S. competitors aren’t just reorganizing; they are building and fielding capabilities that create new vulnerabilities for the U.S. in space. As Gen. Jay Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command said in recent testimony: “In the not too distant future, near-peer competitors will have the ability to hold every U.S. space asset in every orbital regime at risk.”

Dissatisfied with the speed of the Air Force’s response to these challenges, House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chair Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Jim Cooper have proposed (and the full House has adopted) a semi-independent Space Force within the Air Force Department in the House version of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

In a joint statement, Chairman Rogers and Rep. Cooper say: “There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding… We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems.”

Get Ready for the Silicon Military


by Andrew Apostolou

As the global defense industry embraces digital technology, it is creating a new type of warfare with different winners and losers.

The defense sector is going through a rapid technological revolution. The digital tools it is adopting are changing the way the military operates and how countries will fight. Many of the companies involved in this revolution are not originally from the defense sector; they supply software and high-tech hardware in the civilian world as well. However, they now find themselves facing some of the same challenges that traditional arms manufacturers do — for example, challenges regarding relationships with governments and the protection of their own civilian staff. Meanwhile, countries that do not have major high-tech industries, and thus that cannot fully participate in the new defense revolution, could find themselves at a significant disadvantage. They may become the “have-nots” in the next generation of conventional warfare.

The catalyst for this wave of change is the adoption of digital technology by defense contractors in the U.S., Europe, China, and elsewhere. The same long-term industrial trends that are producing autonomous vehicles and Industry 4.0 in the civilian world are also involved in military research and development: automated large-scale manufacturing, connected devices (including the Internet of Things), and artificial intelligence (particularly when combined with robotics). One early manifestation is the increasing development of autonomous military machines, without people onboard controlling them. In the near future, robots and robotic infrastructure will be used more, even on large-scale platforms such as aircraft carriers. There is a laudable goal in this, which is taking soldiers out of harm’s way. As the saying goes, robots do not have widows or widowers. They also do not return from wars with disabilities, resentment, pension expectations, or political ambitions. Removing people from these military machines and platforms also offers immediate practical benefits; it means more space for fuel, parts, and ammunition.

LONG WARS AND INDUSTRIAL MOBILIZATION: IT WON’T BE WORLD WAR II AGAIN

MARK CANCIAN

After a generation of absence, interest in long wars against peer adversaries has returned and with it, an interest in mobilization. Many observers — from Eliot Cohen to senior members of the Joint Staff to David Barno and Nora Bensahel — have warned about it. Long wars require industrial mobilization, and when strategists and planners think of these things, they think of World War II and all that came with it: conversion of civilian industry to military use, mass production, a long buildup of forces, and, finally, well-equipped, massive armies that overwhelm opponents.

But a long war today would be totally different. In fact, after about nine months of intense peer conflict, attrition would grind the U.S. armed forces down to something resembling the military of a regional power. The Army, for example, would be armed primarily with infantry weapons with heavy firepower coming from gun trucks and a trickle of modern equipment acquired from struggling domestic production and whatever logisticians could scrounge up on the world market. This state of affairs arises because the U.S. government has not thought seriously about industrial mobilization. It is far easier to bask in warm memories of World War II than to face the harsh choices that mobilization preparation entails.

The Problem Statement – What’s the Problem?

by Dale F. Spurlin


We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
-- Albert Einstein

Solving a problem is the driving reason for Army planning processes.1 Army doctrine requires problem identification in any problem solving process but that doctrine is silent on the format and design of a problem statement. This dilemma poses a challenge for inexperienced staff attempting to produce useful statements that do anything more than meet a doctrinal requirement. The articulation of the problem as a statement directly relates to the type and quality of solutions generated in the problem-solving process.2 To be meaningful, problem statements should express concisely and comprehensively the obstacles to mission accomplishment in a manner that supports solution generation and evaluation. This article draws on concepts used in management sciences and operations research to discuss approaches to military problem statement development and then proposes an approach on problem statement construction that will directly support solution generation and evaluation in Army problem solving.

Identifying the Problem

Problem statement development begins with identifying the problem. All too often, individuals and organizations oversimplify the problem to be solved and immediately move to addressing the “what to do?” and “how to do it?” within a problem.3 “A problem is an issue or obstacle that makes it difficult to achieve a desired goal or objective.”4 To identify the problem, ATP 5-0.1, Army Design Methodology, calls on commanders and staffs to ask two questions: “What is the difference between the current state of the [Operational Environment] and desired state?” and “What is preventing the force from reaching the desired end state?”5 FM 6-0, ATP 5-0.1, and Joint Publication 5-0, Joint Operation Planning make an explicit call to commanders and staffs to identify root causes for obstacles, which focuses on the question of “what?” when perceiving a problem’s elements.

The View From Olympus: Another Move Forward for Maneuver Warfare in the Marine Corps



In late June I attended a Marine Corps conference sponsored by Training and Education Command (TECOM) on the subject of how to teach maneuver warfare. This was the second conference in a series; the first was last fall. Both have been run on a civilian-clothes, no-ranks basis, which is necessary for frank exchanges. And both have been productive.

Last fall’s conference concluded unanimously, and correctly, that the Marine Corps has not institutionalized maneuver warfare. “Islands” of it form, based on commanders who get it. But when those commanders leave, the Second Generation sea usually sweeps over the island, obliterating it. The result is an eternal sine-wave and a Marine Corps that can talk about maneuver warfare but for the most part can’t do it.

This June’s conference addressed the question of what needs to change in training and education if Marines are to learn to do maneuver warfare. Training and education are not alone enough; the personnel system must also change in major ways. But TECOM has no control over that, so it rightly focused on what it can change.

One of the highlights of the conference was hearing from junior Marines, many of them Staff NCOs, what they are doing to teach maneuver warfare on their own initiative. Using case studies, tactical decision games, and field exercises, they are putting young Marines in situations where they have to make military decisions, then have their reasoning critiqued. Not surprisingly, the students love this approach to instruction–which all too often is still based on memorizing “learning objectives” and spitting them back on multiple choice tests–and they retain what they are taught.

The Proposed ´Digital Geneva´ Convention: Towards an Inclusive Public-Private Agreement on Cyberspace?

By Maria Gurova 

On 14 February 2017 Microsoft president Brad Smith addressed1 the participants of the RSA Conference in San Francisco with a passionate speech in which he called on all representatives of the private sector to unite their efforts to create a “digital Geneva” convention and digital “neutral Switzerland” regime. The initiative is inspired by the Geneva Conventions signed in 1949 in the aftermath of the Second World War and by Switzerland’s longstanding tradition of neutrality. Considering the initiative’s good intentions and the role Microsoft played in its creation, what lies behind this proposal, and has it emerged at the right time?

Key Points 

Microsoft president Brad Smith’s proposal that private sector entities should draw up and adopt a digital convention is timely, but risks being another exclusive coalition of like-minded actors without proper global outreach. 

In substance, the six principles of the proposed digital convention more closely resemble a mix of public and private international law than the principles of international humanitarian law, which are already applicable to the cyber domain, with some exceptions. 

Without support from the government sector and comprehensive outreach to the international community, any digital regime on a global scale will not be feasible. 

Cyberwar: A guide to the frightening future of online conflict

By Steve Ranger

With cyberwarfare, the battlefield is going online. Here's everything you need to know. 

What is cyberwar?

At its core, cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks by one state to disrupt the computer systems of another in order to create significant damage or destruction.

What does cyberwarfare look like?

Cyberwar is still an emerging concept, but many experts are concerned that it is likely to be a significant component of any future conflicts. As well as troops using conventional weapons like guns and missiles, future battles will also be fought by hackers manipulating computer code.

Governments and intelligence agencies worry that digital attacks against vital infrastructure -- like banking systems or power grids -- will give attackers a way of bypassing a country's traditional defences.

Unlike standard military attacks, a cyberattack can be launched instantaneously from any distance, with little obvious evidence in the build up. And it is often extremely hard to trace such an attack back to its originators. Modern economies, underpinned by computer networks that run everything from sanitation to food distribution and communications, are particularly vulnerable to such attacks.

How Tech Companies Are Fighting the Digital War Against ISIS


It’s an age-old debate playing out over modern technology: how to balance security and privacy.

With each ISIS-inspired attack in the West, governments put more pressure on Facebook, Google, Telegram, and Twitter to police extremist activity on their platforms. Despite tech companies responding to these calls, content used to recruit and radicalize attackers still finds its way online. Critics within the technology community say the platforms can do better, while civil libertarians wonder if it’s appropriate to task social networks with counterterrorism responsibilities in the first place.

In June, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube announced they had joined forces to create the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism to make their platforms “hostile to terrorists and violent extremists.” The forum is focused on technical solutions, research, and sharing information with law enforcement.

Information sharing, while a controversial topic, is the best thing the companies can do, according to Neil Shortland, who runs UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism & Security Studies. “It’s an inescapable truth that extremists use their platforms. Therefore they are part of the problem, but they’re also part of the solution,” he told RealClearLife.

Cyber threats prompt return of radio for ship navigation

Jonathan Saul

LONDON (Reuters) - The risk of cyber attacks targeting ships' satellite navigation is pushing nations to delve back through history and develop back-up systems with roots in World War Two radio technology.

Ships use GPS (Global Positioning System) and other similar devices that rely on sending and receiving satellite signals, which many experts say are vulnerable to jamming by hackers.

About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the stakes are high in increasingly crowded shipping lanes. Unlike aircraft, ships lack a back-up navigation system and if their GPS ceases to function, they risk running aground or colliding with other vessels.

South Korea is developing an alternative system using an earth-based navigation technology known as eLoran, while the United States is planning to follow suit. Britain and Russia have also explored adopting versions of the technology, which works on radio signals.

The drive follows a series of disruptions to shipping navigation systems in recent months and years. It was not clear if they involved deliberate attacks; navigation specialists say solar weather effects can also lead to satellite signal loss.