24 April 2014


By Ayesha Khanyari

Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods agreement worth US$1.5 billion a month that would see Iran export oil to Russia in exchange for unspecified goods and equipment from Moscow. The deal would further enable Iran to raise oil exports substantially, undermining Western sanctions that helped persuade Tehran in November 2013 to agree to a preliminary deal to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for temporary and modest sanctions relief.

It is not surprising that the US government has been quick in criticising Russia for trying to seal an oil-for-goods agreement with Iran. If the deal materialises, it would raise serious concerns as it defies the terms of the P5+1 agreement with Iran. It could possibly trigger fresh US sanctions.

Though the oil-for-goods agreement has been rumoured for months, new reports highlighting positive developments towards the finalisation of the deal have emerged. These developments came as tensions between Russia and the West flared up after the US and the European Union enacted a series of sanctions targeting Moscow, in response to the Crimean crisis. By negotiating this agreement publicly, both Russia and Iran are sending a message to the Obama administration.

Iran’s Objectives

First, periodic reports have emerged ever since Hassan Rouhani’s election, discussing the possibility of Moscow’s interest in building new nuclear plants inside Iran – there have been negotiations over four new nuclear plants. While there has been no confirmation about the oil deal from either side, it is likely that the oil exports would be able to finance the new nuclear plants in Iran.

Second, the barter agreement could pave the way for Iran to gain access to the highly advanced Russian weapons industry, which Tehran has always been interested in. The trade deal has also sparked concerns that Russia will import sanctioned military hardware, capable of violating the terms of the interim nuclear deal signed by Iran. Iran could benefit from the transfer of items of significant value to Iran’s military and nuclear programme.

Third, the deal would ease the pressure on Iran’s battered energy sector and further help restore Iran’s links with Russia. It will ease economic pressure and benefit the Iranian economy.


Published on April 15, 2014

It’s time to start thinking strategically about how to deal with Vladimir Putin in a post-Crimea world. 

Whatever the ultimate outcome of Vladimir Putin’s Crimean Gambit, now threatening to become a Donbas Gambit, it reminds us that the United States still has some unfinished business in Europe. Putin’s dramatic move into Crimea, and his subsequent sporting with Ukraine like a cat playing with a wounded mouse, is devastating to liberal aspirations about the kind of Europe, and world, we would like to live in. It affronts our moral and political sensibilities, and it raises the specter of a serious and unfavorable shift in the regional balance of power. But so far, Western leaders have signally failed to develop an effective response to this, to them, an utterly unexpected and shocking challenge.

Since the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union, successor state to the old Tsarist empire, fell apart, the former Russian empire has been divided into eleven separate republics. The closest parallel, an ominous one to many of these states, would be to what happened the last time the Russian state collapsed, in 1917-1919. Then as in 1990, the former empire splintered into a collection of separate republics. Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Central Asian states and the Baltic republics set out on an independent existence. Then, as Lenin and his heirs consolidated power in Moscow, the various breakaway republics returned (in some cases more willingly than others) to the fold. By 1939, when Soviet troops invaded the Baltic Republics, from Central Asia to the Baltic Sea, almost all of the far-flung dominions of the Romanovs were once more under a single flag. Only Poland and Finland were able to resist incorporation into the Soviet Union, and the Poles were forced into the Warsaw Pact.

Lenin and Stalin were able to rebuild the tsarist empire first because they succeeded in creating a strong state in Russia, second because many of the breakaway states were divided and weak, and finally because a permissive international environment posed few effective barriers to the reassertion of Moscow’s power.

There should be little doubt in anyone’s mind today that the Kremlin aims to repeat the process, and from President Putin’s desk it must look as if many of the pieces for a second restoration are in place. Many of the ex-Soviet republics are weak, divided and badly governed. Many are locked in conflicts over territory or torn by ethnic strife. President Putin, whatever one may think of his methods or of the long-term prognosis, has rebuilt a strong Russian state that is able to mobilize the nation’s resources in the service of a revisionist foreign policy. And the international environment, while not perhaps as permissive as in the immediate aftermath of World War One (when Lenin gathered many of the straying republics back to Russia’s bosom) or the prelude to World War Two (when Stalin completed the project), nevertheless affords President Putin some hopes of success.

LNG Won't Save Europe

It is now common knowledge that horizontal directional drilling and “fracking” in the domestic oil and natural gas production industry have reversed a generation of production declines in the United States. But unlike Obama Administration accounting, which pretends it can save the same dollar it is spending twice, we cannot spend (i.e., combust) the same natural gas molecules twice. More specifically, the United States cannot both (a) become more energy independent and (b) save Europe from the Russian energy bear. Accordingly, substantial liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe are simply a politician’s pipe dream—one that will never even have an opportunity to go up in smoke. 

|April 23, 2014 

Why is that? In 2013, all European Union states plus Switzerland, Norway, Turkey and the Balkan states consumed 18.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 30 percent, or 5.7 Tcf, of this gas was supplied by Russia. Can the United States supply this amount of gas to greater Europe? 

Mr. Putin has access to the same energy facts as Mr. Obama. They both know that there is no chance that the United States can reliably supply 5.7 Tcf to Europe. Here is why: 

No Pipeline 

There is no pipeline to move natural gas from the United States to Europe. So all gas exported to Europe will have to be liquefied and shipped across the Atlantic. The natural-gas liquefaction process is extremely energy intensive. That means that huge amounts of energy (from natural gas) will have to be expended to compress and liquefy the export gas. In effect, to export 5.7 Tcf of LNG, more than 1.9 Tcf of natural gas will have to be consumed in the LNG liquefaction process. So 7.6 Tcf of U.S. natural gas production will have to be budgeted to provide Europe with the 5.7 Tcf needed. 

Insufficient Supply 

If the United States uses 7.6 Tcf of its natural gas to supply Europe, it will not have enough natural gas to meets its domestic requirements. Indeed this past winter witnessed the U.S. stored reserves of natural gas fall to a low of 800 billion cubic feet. If the United States had shipped all of that stored gas to Europe (a fifty-day supply for Europe), pilot lights all over the United States would have gone out, as the stored gas pressurizes the domestic natural gas delivery system. Without that pressure, gas-reliant industry, including more than 30 percent of domestic electricity production, would stop. 

America’s Last Task in Kabul

APRIL 18, 2014

WASHINGTON — Until now, fighting the Afghan war has been an American project, and Americans have feared most that their withdrawal will be followed by chaos. That’s why they have focused on handing over the fighting to Afghanistan’s military.

But the first round of the presidential election on April 5 opened a new prospect. Just by turning out in large numbers in defiance of Taliban denunciations, Afghans showed that they craved a stable future — and would need friends in the neighborhood to help broker their differences. That creates an incentive for every nearby country to collaborate on holding Afghanistan together after the Americans leave.

With that in mind, it might be best for the United States to focus first on handing over the peacemaking to Afghanistan’s neighbors, as the most credible strategy for ending the war quickly. Ever since 9/11, Washington demanded that the region’s powers support its strategy in Afghanistan. But the region was split: India and Russia were content to see America seek outright victory over the Taliban and pursue the war to its end; Pakistan and Iran, which share ethnic roots with groups in Afghanistan, have long wanted America to end the fighting by negotiating its way out.

Because the neighbors’ interests never coincided in clear support of America’s view, the region watched America experiment — with mixed results — at counterinsurgency and state-building, and later at peacemaking with the Taliban.

Now it will be up to the neighbors, who — despite all their differences — share an interest in seeing Afghanistan avoid a new bloodletting. They question the Afghan Army’s ability to defeat the Taliban in battle; the force is still largely made up of ethnic Tajiks and Hazaras from Afghanistan’s north and west, leaving it likely to provoke resistance among the Pashtuns of the embattled south and east, from whom the Taliban spring. The neighbors remember the collapse of an earlier Afghan army soon after the Soviets who had trained it left, as well as the decade of civil war that followed in the 1990s. No neighbor wants that experience repeated, and a regionally supported peace deal would be the surest way to dissuade outsiders from supporting any Afghans who did.

So how does the United States proceed?

It should keep reminding everyone that it is about to leave, and that it is in their own best interest to build a regional consensus for an Afghan peace. That means joining hands with the Americans to ensure that a strong president emerges from the messy election process.

On Election Day, the first reaction was relief at the turnout. But now there is concern that the final ballot count will prompt claims that the margin of fraud exceeds the margin of victory. The early first-round results point to a tight runoff race between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, and a need for America to help broker a fair outcome, since a disputed outcome could divide the country.

Canada: The Next Oil Superpower?

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
April 22, 2014

The Obama administration’s decision Friday, April 18 to delay yet again its final decision on the Keystone XL [3] pipeline shows the project may be too hot to handle politically. The irony, however, is that it’s hardly the most important pipeline battle in North America. Six other pipelines are being planned in Canada that collectively—and in some cases individually—have much higher stakes for international energy markets and the environment.

Like the Keystone XL, Canada’s proposed projects are intended to deliver to market oil produced in Alberta's tar sands. If all six were built, they would carry roughly 3.2 million barrels per day, four times the volume of Keystone XL. Fierce public debates are ongoing in Canada about these projects, yet with little attention in the United States because many of the issues are framed differently than south of the border.

It seems improbable that all these projects will get approved, but several appear highly likely to move forward in the coming years. Even two or three could transform Canada from a mere regional actor—a supplier of crude almost exclusively to the United States—to a significant player in oil geopolitics.

Canada’s unique brand of pipeline politics is driven by its strategic need to find new customers in Europe and Asia. Fully 97 percent of Canada’s oil exports go to the United States, where crude prices have been depressed by the U.S. shale-oil boom. As a result, Canada needs to sell on global markets, where the benchmark Brent crude typically sells far higher than the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate.

“There is a very real cost to Canada being linked to the United States and not to tidewater, to the global energy markets,” said Carl Kirst, an energy industry analyst at BMO Capital Markets in Houston. “Canada has a strategic necessity to diversify away from the U.S. … There’s no other developed nation whose most valued product is linked to just one customer.”

The new pipeline projects are intended to break this logjam and push Canada onto the world stage. Whether Canada is ready for the challenge is unclear, but a fundamental shift appears to be underway.

It's Time for a Backup to GPS.

APRIL 16, 2014
The recent failure of GLONASS and sightings of Russian navigation jammers in Crimea are cause enough for concern.


If you’re not a space geek, you probably didn’t notice the total failure of the Russian satellite navigation system early this month. And if you’re not an electronic warfare geek, you probably didn’t notice those Russian satellite navigation jammers driving around Crimea either. Both, though, should be a reminder of just how much industry and the armed forces depend on navigation and timing from space, and what should be done about. 

The failure two weeks ago of the Globalnaya navigatsionnaya sputnikovaya sistema (GLONASS) was frankly an unprecedented total disruption of a fully operational satellite constellation. At just past midnight Russian time (GMT + 4) on 2 April, every GLONASS space vehicle began broadcasting corrupt data. This rendered the system completely unusable to all receivers worldwide, and the system remained that way for about eleven hours. 

Given the events in Crimea and elsewhere across Ukraine, there was a little speculation that GLONASS had been hacked. More likely, some junior VKO officer simply uploaded some bad ephemerides—fine adjustments to the satellites’ positions on orbit, which are essential so that receivers can accurately fix their own locations on Earth. The sudden failure probably occurred with a routine cut-over of the whole constellation to the new data. And the half-day needed for restoring the system can be attributed to the limitations of GLONASS’s control segment; unlike the US GPS, the Russian system has only one upload dish outside the old Soviet Union. 

While the fellow responsible for this blunder is presumably now watching a radar screen in Siberia, the Russian Federal Space Agency has actually said little about the incident, except to deflate our expectations in two ways. 

Social media helping destabilize world, strategist says at War College

April 11, 2014

Security forces from Provincial Reconstruction Team Ghazni secure a landing zone while Polish medics arrive to provide medical care in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. Poles and militaries from other Eastern European countries participated in Iraq and Afghanistan with the hope that someday when they need military assistance, the U.S. would provide it, said Robert D. Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 11, 2014) -- Twitter, Facebook and other types of social media are contributing to global instability, said Robert D. Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor -- a team of intelligence experts.

The use of social media, he explained, has been shown to unite and rally demonstrators at a moment's notice, enabling them to focus their energies on toppling regimes in just a matter of days. An example would be the use of it during the so-called Arab Spring, which began in December 2010.

Kaplan was keynote speaker at the 25th Annual Strategy Conference in Carlisle, Pa., sponsored by the Army War College, in partnership with the Joint Staff/J7. His remarks and those of others are not official U.S. Army doctrine. Rather they are meant to inform the Army of possible challenges it faces in the coming years and decades, officials said.


Failed, collapsed or weakened states pose a regional security problem and even a national security threat for the U.S. and its Army, Kaplan said, defining a weak or failed state as one where travel outside the capital can be dangerous -- places like Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen.

Social media is not the only factor that will increasingly destabilize the world in the next 20 years, he said.

Ethnic and religious sectarian problems will continue to fester and create failed states in places like Africa and the Middle East, areas he compared to the post-Roman Empire Christendom in 4th, 5th and 6th-century Europe, where doctrinal battles and violence occurred between various sects.

Syria, Iraq and the Central African Republic area examples where that is occurring and Kaplan believes it will further spread as passions increase.


April 22, 2014 

Two weeks ago, I heard myself say “hope is a moral hazard” in response to someone else invoking the truism that “hope is not a strategy.” The setting was a discussion with graduate students focused on terrorism, non-proliferation, and related subjects. These were not my students, so they didn’t really know me, and I’d been asked what the U.S. should do when good people elsewhere are stuck in systems that they, and we, don’t like.

At the time, I was explaining the “sovereignty solution” rubric which ties together those two quintessentially American principles of “to each his own” and “don’t tread on me.” The example I had used, which provoked the question, was: say a population prefers Sharia to the rule of Western law. The U.S. government should stop wagging its collective finger, insisting that Sharia is bad. Indeed, if we stopped hectoring other people to give up their conception of what works best for them, we would be taking a lot of the sting – as in most of the violence – out of anti-Americanism. But does such a hands-off approach mean everyone everywhere will always be happy or feel sufficiently free? Of course not.

On further reflection, I would now say that, like so many things, hope is probably best thought of as a double-edged sword. Our offering others hope can work for people. But it can also cut against them. And too often these days the latter ends up being the case. For instance, didn’t political agitators in Darfur hope the world would come riding to the rescue once the government started cracking down on innocent civilians? Didn’t Syrian rebels expect to receive help as soon as President Obama and others publicly condemned Bashar al-Assad? Just like Ukrainians must now hope NATO will do something to assist their defense. The list goes on – which is both tragic and ironic since the international community, the European Union, and even a unitary actor like the U.S. have proved time and again that they cannot, and therefore should not, be counted on. This is what I mean by saying hope is a moral hazard (borrowing, but then somewhat twisting Alan Kuperman’s argument that the promise of armed humanitarian intervention can irresponsibly encourage people to rebel).

Because it is as dangerous as it is paralyzing to think that help is coming, people who don’t like their government, their fellow citizens, or their plight would be well advised to recognize that they have only themselves to depend on. It turns out rebels who commit to re-making their world on their own also generally do better in the mid-run.

Time to Think … and to Listen

Source Link
APRIL 2012

As the US military faces an “austere budget environment” in the coming years, senior officers have been quick to trot out the Winston Churchill’s quote “Gentlemen, we have run out of money, now we have to think.” It appears to be a line appropriate to today’s challenges. However, the fact that senior leadership has latched on to this quote is disturbing, primarily because it begs the question: “what exactly have we been doing for the past twenty five years?” 

Military affairs, and the conduct of war, are a thinking man’s profession. Brute force, attrition strategies, and the reality of death and destruction is, and will always be, a central part of the military profession. But to use another Winston Churchill quote, “Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.” Thinking does and always has mattered in the conduct of war. 

This past week Lieutenant Ben Kohlmann, an F/A-18 driver from the West Coast, wrote an article entitled “The Military Needs More Disruptive Thinkers” for Small Wars Journal that has garnered attention. MAJ Peter Munson and the beloved Superhero-of-Sanity Doctrine Man, and the comment sections in a number of blogs, have added to the debate. The discussion of “disruptive thinkers” and the apparent embrace of “thinking” by today’s senior leaders appears to be a natural combination. But that’s not necessarily the case. 

There are places and people that have a long tradition of creative thinking, problem solving, and innovation. A great deal of military innovation throughout history has come from junior and mid-grade officers. LCDR Claude Berube has documented the Naval Institute’s history of junior officer innovation and the rise of the Institute from a small group of officers on shore duty to a pre-eminent thought center. There is a movement within USNI that is growing to bring JO’s and mid-grade Officers back to the pages of Proceedings with their innovative thoughts. This is important, but not enough by itself. 

Ben Kohlmann brings up some very interesting points in his essay on “disruptive thinking.” I wholeheartedly agree with the overarching thesis of his piece: that the military services need to be more open to new ideas and need to figure out how to educate officers in critical thinking and innovation. However, there are a few areas where I differ with his details. Personally, I think the U.S. Navy’s focus on providing our officers graduate education in the field of business (MBA’s) and engineering rather than subjects like history, political science, and other social science fields is a net negative for our service. Most MBA curricula don’t really focus on innovation and new ideas, instead they teach number crunching and bureaucratic organization. Steve Jobs, used by Ben as an example in his essay, was a great innovator…he dropped out of college, never mind getting a graduate degree from any of the schools Ben suggests. Alfred Thayer Mahan warned us to “avoid the administrative mindset” and I don’t know that a Navy filled with people who have mastered business administration really makes us better or more innovative warfighters. Ben is 100% right, however, when he points out that we should be encouraging interaction between our officer corps and thought leaders from other fields, I just don’t believe the business field is the one we should be focusing on. 

A Navy that needs critical thinkers…those willing to share their ideas

MARCH 2014

Judging from the comments on social media and the notes I have received from active and retired shipmates, the buzz surrounding CDR Guy Snodgrass’ “Keep a Weather Eye on the Horizon” is real and I’m encouraged to see it. It’s no surprise why this paper has become a topic of discussion in wardrooms and ready rooms around the fleet, and passed electronically across warfare communities. 

Our Navy has a proud tradition of professional discourse, and this excellent paper lies squarely in that mold. Good arguments are typically dual-edged – one side passion, the other logic. Guy’s passion is evident and it appears many of you share it. More than that, he understands complete loyalty means complete honesty, and I know - personally – that he wrote this paper only to help make our institution better. It already has. Top naval leaders are aware of several of the issues he touches on. Many are being studied, budgeted for, or in the early stages of implementation. Others give us pause. 

I share many of the concerns and have similar questions to those detailed in Guy’s paper. A quick example – many of you have heard me on the road talk about how BUPERS (being self-critical) historically “swings behind the pitch”, unable to nimbly react to economic and early stage retention issues. It’s not neglect, good people here trying to do the best they can with limited tools, but the fact is it has cost us in both good people and money. We have to do better, and I must say that this discourse helps. 

We’ve all been JO’s and yes we can also fall victim to forgetting what it was like, but this is also the power of discourse. The idea that there is a perception that operational command is not valued and there is an erosion of trust in senior leadership bothers me…I want to hear more, learn more from you. 

Fostering an environment where folks feel empowered to share their thoughts on important issues is a core responsibility of leadership. Ideas, good and bad, have no rank. Yet the discourse can’t just stop there. We need thoughtful debate on how to solve problems, not just an articulate accounting of what’s wrong and who’s at fault. We need leaders willing to offer new and innovative solutions to problems that at times appear impossible or hopeless. Those kind of leaders inspire all of us to continue serving men and women in our charge. 

Guy has set an example for one way to ensure thoughtful debate has a voice. Please push your ideas forward — write about them, talk about them with your Sailors, up and down the chain of command. This is the only way we will overcome the challenges ahead of us – together. 

The Military Needs More Disruptive Thinkers

by Benjamin Kohlmann

Journal Article | April 5, 2012

Editor's Note: Ben's essay has sparked a great deal of discussion and debate. I plan to continue this debate in a series of essays from our contributors. I've attempted to frame the problem in this essay and you will be able to find all the "disruptive thinker" essays at this page as they are published.

For my generation, there is one profession that captures our imagination more than any other: Entrepreneur. This is especially true of those leaving the military and going to business school. It would seem logical for the military to find ways to blend the best of entrepreneurial and combat cultures in ventures like a joint Harvard Business School/Naval War College degree program. 

Yet, in reality, the very word entrepreneur is met with blank stares by career servicemembers– and in some cases, viewed as an anathema. This is primarily because entrepreneurs see a need and without consulting higher authority, simply go ahead and try to solve it. Their very nature inclines them to disrupt the status quo. And of course, the one thing a vertically integrated organization like the military hates most is change. Or at least, change that wasn’t decreed from on high.

Part of this stems from an antiquated, 1950s career model. A large bureaucracy thrives best when it can promote the average individual in a one-size fits all ascension program. This, however, necessitates sloughing off the highly talented instead of promoting them in accordance with their ability. For example, a younger, Marine reservist friend of mine can be a Vice President of Goldman Sachs, overseeing their Hong Kong branch by the age of 31, but would barely be commanding a Marine rifle company at the same point.

To be frank, and to use the words of Joshua Cooper Ramo, “we’ve left our future largely in the hands of people whose single greatest characteristic is that they are bewildered by the present.” This is mostly because our senior leadership grew up in a time when the internet was still a twinkle in DARPA’s eye. The only flag officer I know of that consistently and effectively uses social media is Admiral James Stavridis. He also created cells of innovation among his subordinates, and implemented their suggestions rather frequently. 

Mr. Lind, may we focus our rage please?

April 22, 2014

Many of you have by now have at least heard of, if not read, William S. Lind’s latest, “An Officer Corps That Can’t Score.” If not, give it a read and come back. A lot of people are taking a swing at it – and now what everyone is back from Easter doings, time for me to give it a shot as well.

Off the bat, Lind made a statement that needs immediate rebuttal; 

The most curious thing about our four defeats in Fourth Generation War—Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan—is the utter silence in the American officer corps.Well, I’m not sure where or who he is listening to – but there is not silence on any of these issues … and there is the problem I think. I’ll get to that in a second. First things first:

1. Lebanon? I assume he is referring to our ’82-84 Lebanon incursions. That was an aborted peace enforcement operation that was a fool’s errand to begin with. Good thing we left when we did. Mistake? Yes. Poor concept and design? Yes. Military defeat? No. Strategic bumble – absolutely.

2. Somalia a decade later? See above. This whole exercise in CNN-effect meets UN-fuzzy warfare was a political error from beginning to end. The military did what it could given the constraints and restraints that were put on it. This was a failure of the civilians in leadership of the military. Full stop. I’ll repeat. Mistake? Yes. Poor concept and design? Yes. Military defeat? No. Strategic bumble – absolutely.

3. Iraq? After fits and starts, like you always seen in complicated wars – I’m sorry - we got this about right in the end. We walked away with something we could call a victory here. Good people can argue if we should have left a small counter-terrorism force behind, but on balance we can walk away – due to President Bush’s determination to see this through BTW – with something we can accept. Of course, it is up to the Iraqi’s do make the best of the opportunity we gave them – and that is fine. You can try to make the argument that it was a defeat, but good luck with that, as no one has made that convincing argument yet. 


APRIL 18, 2014 

“Not a military voice is heard calling for thoughtful, substantive change.”

Will, “hello,” suffice? William S. Lind’s suggestion at The American Conservative Magazine that the Officer Corps is in a blind, intellectual death spiral is weighty indeed, but ignores the vast body of debate going on in the junior and senior ranks of our nation’s military. Rather than our officer corps living in a bubble, perhaps some of those discussing the internal debate of the military writ-large need to reach out of their bubble to see the rich discussion happening -right now-. 

“Even junior officers inhabit a world where they hear only endless, hyperbolic praise of “the world’s greatest military ever.” They feed this swill to each other and expect it from everyone else. If they don’t get it, they become angry.” 

Mr. Lind accuses our Officer Corps of a hollow, cavalier attitude that would suggest they neither recognize nor wrestle with the threats of tomorrow or the mistakes of today. Ask any moderately informed officer on their thoughts about cyber-war, the F-35, LCS, insurgency, the utility of carriers, the proliferation of anti-ship cruise-missiles, etc.. and the opinions will be heated and varied. The Center for International Maritime Security has featured an entire week debating the merits of the Navy’s,“Air Sea Battle,” concept. The United States Naval Institute archives decades of articles relating to the debate over carriersSmall Wars Journal is a running testament to the continued debate over insurgency and irregular ground conflicts. There are also sometimes-anonymous outlets, like theSailor Bob forum, Information Dissemination, or the wild wonderful world ofCommander Salamander’s blog; they are quite popular in -light- of the often unique and critical perspective taken by writers. 


B.J. Armstrong
April 21, 2014 

A recent opinion piece at The American Conservative had a number of military officers scratching their heads. In “An Officer Corps that Can’t Score,” William Lind purports to discuss how careerism in the military breeds “habits of defeat.” He tells us that: 

Defeat in Vietnam bred a generation of military reformers, men such as Col. John Boyd USAF, Col. Mike Wyly USMC, and Col. Huba Wass de Czege USA, each of whom led a major effort to reorient his service. Today, the landscape is barren. Not a military voice is heard calling for thoughtful, substantive change. 

This is quite a claim, and rather damning of today’s officer corps with a very broad brushstroke. But is it true? Based on my personal and professional experiences in the U.S. Navy, I would say no. Lind errs on the side of being insulting to some of the dedicated men and women in uniform, but that does not really worry me. They have thick skin. More seriously, he leads his civilian readers astray, leaving them with an inaccurate depiction of a military completely unused to debate. 

One needs only to start here at War on the Rocks to see that there isdebate by active duty and reserve personnel about the present and future of our armed forces and the use of military means in the 21st century. True, one publication certainly does not indicate a healthy state of discourse. But one need only look around a bit to find one. 

This past Wednesday, the U.S. Naval Institute held their annual meeting in Washington D.C. In an auditorium full of junior officers, mid-grades, and admirals, as well as civilians, academics, analysts and retirees, the past year’s writing in the institute’s flagship journal Proceedings was recognized. An award went to Rear Admiral Robert Wray, who advocated an unpopular position: a tiered readiness and forward deployment system for our naval forces that would fundamentally change much about our Navy. The institute also recognized Lieutenant Ryan Hilger, who wrote a prize winning article on reform of the NATO alliance and adjustments to the relationships between the United States and our overseas partners. These are just two recent examples, but they are not outliers. And they run counter to Lind’s claim that “not a military voice is heard calling for thoughtful, substantive change.” 

***** An Officer Corps That Can’t Score

How military careerism breeds habits of defeat 

The most curious thing about our four defeats in Fourth Generation War—Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan—is the utter silence in the American officer corps. Defeat in Vietnam bred a generation of military reformers, men such as Col. John Boyd USAF, Col. Mike Wyly USMC, and Col. Huba Wass de Czege USA, each of whom led a major effort to reorient his service. Today, the landscape is barren. Not a military voice is heard calling for thoughtful, substantive change. Just more money, please. 

Such a moral and intellectual collapse of the officer corps is one of the worst disasters that can afflict a military because it means it cannot adapt to new realities. It is on its way to history’s wastebasket. The situation brings to mind an anecdote an Air Force friend, now a military historian, liked to tell some years ago. Every military, he said, occasionally craps in its own mess kit. The Prussians did it in 1806, after which they designed and put into service a much improved new model messkit, through the Scharnhorst military reforms. The French did it in 1870, after which they took down from the shelf an old-model messkit—the mass, draft army of the First Republic—and put it back in service. The Japanese did it in 1945, after which they threw their mess kit away, swearing they would never eat again. And we did it in Korea, in Vietnam, and now in four new wars. So far, we’ve had the only military that’s just kept on eating. 

Why? The reasons fall in two categories, substantive and structural. Substantively, at the moral level—Colonel Boyd’s highest and most powerful level—our officers live in a bubble. Even junior officers inhabit a world where they hear only endless, hyperbolic praise of “the world’s greatest military ever.” They feed this swill to each other and expect it from everyone else. If they don’t get it, they become angry. Senior officers’ bubbles, created by vast, sycophantic staffs, rival Xerxes’s court. Woe betide the ignorant courtier who tells the god-king something he doesn’t want to hear. (I know—I’ve done it, often.) 

23 April 2014

Keeping the NSA in Perspective

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

By George Friedman

In June 1942, the bulk of the Japanese fleet sailed to seize the Island of Midway. Had Midway fallen, Pearl Harbor would have been at risk and U.S. submarines, unable to refuel at Midway, would have been much less effective. Most of all, the Japanese wanted to surprise the Americans and draw them into a naval battle they couldn't win.

The Japanese fleet was vast. The Americans had two carriers intact in addition to one that was badly damaged. The United States had only one advantage: It had broken Japan's naval code and thus knew a great deal of the country's battle plan. In large part because of this cryptologic advantage, a handful of American ships devastated the Japanese fleet and changed the balance of power in the Pacific permanently.

This -- and the advantage given to the allies by penetrating German codes -- taught the Americans about the centrality of communications code breaking. It is reasonable to argue that World War II would have ended much less satisfactorily for the United States had its military not broken German and Japanese codes. Where the Americans had previously been guided to a great extent by Henry Stimson's famous principle that "gentlemen do not read each other's mail," by the end of World War II they were obsessed with stealing and reading all relevant communications.

The National Security Agency evolved out of various post-war organizations charged with this task. In 1951, all of these disparate efforts were organized under the NSA to capture and decrypt communications of other governments around the world -- particularly those of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by Josef Stalin, and of China, which the United States was fighting in 1951. How far the NSA could go in pursuing this was governed only by the extent to which such communications were electronic and the extent to which the NSA could intercept and decrypt them.

The amount of communications other countries sent electronically surged after World War II yet represented only a fraction of their communications. Resources were limited, and given that the primary threat to the United States was posed by nation-states, the NSA focused on state communications. But the principle on which the NSA was founded has remained, and as the world has come to rely more heavily on electronic and digital communication, the scope of the NSA's commission has expanded.

The missed handshake of ’71

Published on The Asian Age (http://www.asianage.com)
The missed handshake of ’71
By editor
Created 23 Apr 2014

Pakistanis fancy themselves to be the descendants of Central Asian conquerors who repeatedly defeated Indian forces during invasions of India in the medieval period. They have a notion that they have inherited their martial superiority.

Pakistanis fancy themselves to be the descendants of Central Asian conquerors who repeatedly defeated Indian forces during invasions of India in the medieval period. They have a notion that they have inherited their martial superiority.

For centuries, India’s defence policy was managed exclusively by her rulers and Indians were nowhere in the loop. There was no tradition of strategic thinking in our country.

In 1947 we assumed responsibility for India’s defence. Neither our political nor military leadership had knowledge or experience of managing national strategy. Our military leadership was ill-equipped to do so. For a year-and-a-half after Independence we had British army chiefs, first General Lockhart and then General Bucher. The Navy and the Air Force had British service chiefs for much longer. Lord Mountbatten was the head of state.

The first priority for these top military officers was to serve British national interests. There were not more than one per cent Indian officers in the Army and hardly any in the Navy and the Air Force who had risen above the rank of major or equivalent. Very few Indians had served on staff at formation headquarters and almost none at the national level in Service Headquarters. The first Indian to be promoted major general was Brig. Cariappa on August 15, 1947.

Our political leadership of that time failed to take full cognisance of developments on our borders. The popular slogan during Partition was “Hanske lia Pakistan, Larke lenge Hindustan”. The origin and history of Pakistan has been of relentless hostility towards India. Sir Syed Ahmed, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, asserted, “Is it possible that two nations, the Mohammadan and the Hindu, could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. Our co-religionists from the hills in North will come down like locusts and make blood flow up to Calcutta” (Divide and Quit, by Sir Penderrel Moon).

Pakistan invaded Kashmir within weeks of Independence, unleashing tribesmen led by Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army along with Army personnel in civilian clothes to capture Srinagar and the Kashmir Valley. Timely intervention by the Indian Army rescued the people while the invaders lost two days in plunder and rapine of Baramulla, drenching it in “pools of blood”. Srinagar was saved and the people of the Valley rescued by the timely arrival of Indian soldiers. A decisive victory was won against all odds and the entire Valley was cleared by November 14, 1947. A golden opportunity was lost when the Army was at Uri and not allowed to pursue the fleeing enemy to Muzaffarabad and seal the border. This was a wrong political decision supported by the top military leadership at Delhi which was all British. The dream of “Larke lenge Hindustan” was duly foiled.

The Siachen Saga

April 21, 2014
A chapter from Nitin A. Gokhale’s new book on the Siachen Glacier conflict between India and Pakistan.
By Nitin A. Gokhale

The following is an extract from a new book by long-term Diplomat contributor Nitin A. Gokhale, Beyond NJ 9842: The Siachen Saga. The book details the history of Operation Meghdoot and the fighting between India and Pakistan on the Siachen Glacier. The extract is printed here with the kind permission of the author.

In April 2012, Pakistan’s then Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani suddenly called for demilitarization of the Siachen glacier for the “development of Pakistan and environmental reasons.”

“India and Pakistan must live in peaceful coexistence as defence without development is neither viable nor acceptable,” he declared. He saw all issues dividing India and Pakistan as capable of resolution and Siachen and Sir Creek as convenient starting points, low hanging fruit to be plucked as strong confidence building measures.

This was completely out of character and a departure from Pakistan’s position on the Siachen glacier.

So what prompted the change of heart?

In fact, it was the tragic death of 130 troops of the 6 Northern Light Infantry in a massive avalanche at Gayari on April 7 that year that triggered Gen Kayani’s new thinking. After visiting the site of the accident, Gen Kayani spoke at Skardu about the need to demilitarize Siachen. He said Pakistan was not manning those treacherous heights out of choice. “The world knows why we are in Siachen,” reiterating the Pakistani position that it was India that started the dispute in 1984.

But even while announcing his desire to make peace with India on “Siachen and Sir Creek,” Gen Kayani was being economical with the truth.

The reality is Pakistani troops are nowhere near the Siachen glacier. They are deployed on the western slopes of the Saltoro ridge, far from the glacier and at much lower altitudes.

Indian positions, on the other hand, are on absolutely dominating heights on the main passes of the Saltoro ridge, Sia La and Bilafond La. As far as the Indian Army is concerned it sees no need to withdraw from the commanding heights it controls given Pakistan’s perfidy in the past, especially in Kargil when it tried to cut-off Siachen in the summer of 1999.

What ails Indian Submarine Fleet?

IssueNet Edition| Date : 21 Apr , 2014

There been a spate of accidents in the recent past in Indian Navy’s fleet, particularly in the submarine arm of the Navy. One of the most unfortunate accidents of the Indian Navy, was the mishap with INS Sindhuratna, a Russian made Kilo-class submarine on 26 February this year. It was the tenth such incident in a series of such accidents involving an Indian warship in seven months. The incident led to the resignation of Navy Chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi from the high office of Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), first time in Indian naval history that a CNS had to resign.

The repeated accidents of this kind at the strategic weaponry can also hinder morale of its own forces and strategic aspiration of the nation.

Though the exact reason for the mishap is yet to be made public, the initial probe says that a fire extinguisher had become operational automatically in the sailors accommodation spewing out poisonous Freon gas which resulted in death of two officers and several injuries due to inhalation of the noxious fumes. There are also consistent reports from within Navy circles about the malfunctioning of the batteries. Each Kilo class Submarines like INS Sindhuratna, acquired from Soviet Union in late 1980s has 240 Lead acid batteries weighing around 800 kg. TheSindhuratna, commissioned into the Navy in 1988, was originally intended to have been phased out in 2013. Instead the submarine underwent a refit and was again inducted to the Navy in December 2013. It was reported that the batteries on board were not replaced by new ones when the submarine underwent a refit. The submarine was at sea on a training and inspection exercise post the refit. The trials were being supervised by the Western Fleet’s Commodore Commanding Submarines or COMCOS who was personally aboard the submarine when the accident had occurred.

Aspiring to become a maritime regional power, the Indian Navy had recognized the importance of submarines as early as 1947. However, owing to budgetary constraints, difficulties in operating the submarine fleet and sourcing procedures hampered the acquisition process and the submarine hardly featured in the Navy’s ten year plan of 1948-1958. Large parts of the Navy’s efforts in the early 1950’s were to counter the threat posed by Pakistan and the submarine hardly featured in the list of countermeasures. The border war with China in 1962 changed this, dramatically. The defense review following the border war, allowed the Navy to make its claim for the submarine arm once more. Eventually, a deal was signed in 1965, which allowed for acquisition of submarines from the Soviet Union (Hiranandani, G. M, 2000). Apart from the acquisition of submarines, the 1965 agreement also paved the way for a Dockyard, a submarine base, training facilities and submarine repair areas to be set up in India.

Foreign Funding of Indian NGOs

IssueNet Edition| Date : 21 Apr , 2014

Introduction to FCRA 

From time to time there is a furor over receipt of donations from abroad. In December 2013 the Supreme Court gave the Central Bureau of Investigation a further period of eight weeks to report on the actual of NGO’s in the country.

FCRA regulates the receipt of funds by NGOs and is managed by the MHA.

Does the Government know the total amount of money received under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)? How does GOI ensure that recipient organizations are working in national interest?

Using the 2010-11 FCRA report this article seeks to provoke thought by sharing data of donor countries, donors-their objectives, recipients etc.

First, a bit about the regulatory framework for NGOs who receive foreign funds?

FCRA regulates the receipt of funds by NGOs and is managed by the MHA. Any organization that wants to receive contributions from abroad has to apply and get approval from the Home Ministry. The associations could be religious, social, educational, cultural or educational organizations.

If an NGO, whether registered or not, receives a contribution in excess of Rs 1 cr during a period of 30 days, the Bank has to report this to the Central Government within 30 days of the date of such last transaction. The NGO has to annually submit audited accounts to MHA who scrutinize the returns to ensure that contributions received for a particular purpose are used for that purpose only. It does a detailed check of randomly picked associations and collates the data received to present the FCRA Annual Report.

Trends in Foreign Contributions

As on 31.3.2012, there were 41,844 registered associations under FCRA. As compared to 2004-05 (UPA came to power in 2004) the amount received in 2011-12 has gone up by 85% and their number 38%. See table.

Reported receipts by NGOs between 1993-94 to 2011-12 were Rs 1,16,073 crs. Only about 55% NGOs gave audited accounts so amounts received by them are included in this report. Actual receipts were much higher.

Infrastructure Development in Northeast India : Ushering Peace in the Region

Two seemingly insignificant events about northeast India received miniscule mention recently in the national media but are poised to make a significant impact on the development potential of the region in the coming years. The first was the completion of railway line from Mendipathar in North Garo Hills to Dudhnoi in Goalpara District in Assam signifying the connectivity of Meghalaya with Indian rail network. Though the 19.7 km long railway line was announced in the 1992-93 railway budget, it was integrated with the rail network on 27 February 2014. The activation of the railway line will increase trade and business opportunities for the local population apart from providing a cheaper and sustained means of communication. Ironically, the construction was stalled in the initial stages due to opposition from the Khasi Student Union, which claimed that the rail network would lead to increase in migrant population[1]. The second event was commencement of rail services to Itanagar on 07 April 2014, making it the second state capital in northeast to have rail connectivity. The daily services are proving a boon to the people of Arunachal Pradesh providing them a rail link to Guwahati via Dekragaon in Sonitpur district in Assam. The rail link will to lead to economic upliftment by improving transport efficiency, lowering cost of transportation of commodities besides increasing tourism in the state.

Indian Railways is pursuing an ambitious plan to connect all state capitals with a rail network. Presently, the rail network in northeast is 2602 kms long and 11 new projects will add 882 kms[2] of rail lines. The notable networks are construction of rail link from Jiribam to Imphal by 2016, extension of rail line from Dimapur to Kohima and feasibility studies to link other capitals. Three strategic railway lines are planned to provide a boost for faster movement of equipment in case of hostilities with China. Two railway lines, Missamari-Tawang and Murkongselek-Pasighat have been sanctioned for construction[3]. Detailed survey is in progress on Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai and North Lakhimpur-along-Silapathar routes. Similarly, a number of rail links are planned to be constructed providing connectivity with neighbouring countries. Rail link between Akhaura (Bangladesh) and Agartala was approved in 2011. Feasibility study is being conducted for connecting Sabrum (Tripura) to Chittagong to access Chittagong port. Also, a 252 km track is planned between Jawaharnagar (Tripura) to Darlong (Myanmar) via Kolasib (Mizoram)[4].

The road network construction and upgradation had received a boost with the implementation of Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SADRP) in 2006. The first phase envisages a 6500km network to be completed by 2016. Though only approximately 1000 km[5] of the proposed network has been completed till date, a 3723 km network is planned for the second phase. Uncertain security situation, threats of violence by local insurgent groups by demanding payoffs has resulted in slow progress. Another significant project under construction is the Kaladan Multi Mode Transportation Project (KMMTP) providing an alternate connectivity for the northeast states. The project envisages an 826 km route by sea, river and road connecting Mizoram to Kolkata. It includes improvement of Sittwe port in Arakan province, west Myanmar, construction of an inland waterway on Kaladan river and preparation of a highway transportation system linking upto Mizoram capital of Aizwal[6]. The work on the project commenced in November 2010 and is likely to be completed by 2016-17. Once completed, the project will provide a shorter route to Kolkata besides reducing dependence on a single national highway, NH 54. The Kunming-Kolkata road project is planned as part of Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Forum initiative to harness the economic potential of the member countries. Another important road connectivity planned is the 3200 km long highway linking northeast India to Thailand via Myanmar, which is slated to be completed by 2016.

India’s Increasingly Bloody Marxist Insurgency

April 21, 2014
India struggles with rebel threats during election
Associated Press

RAJNANDGAON, India (AP) — Indians cast ballots Thursday on the biggest day of voting in the country’s weekslong general election, streaming into polling stations even in areas where leftist rebels threatened violence over the plight of India’s marginalized and poor.

Nationwide voting began April 7 and runs through May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to be announced four days later. Among the 13 key states voting Thursday was Chhattisgarh, now the center of a four-decade Maoist insurgency that has affected more than a dozen of India’s 28 states.

With roadside bombings, jungle ambushes and hit-and-run raids, the rebels aim for nothing short of sparking a full-blown peasant revolt as they accuse the government and corporations of plundering resources and stomping on the rights of the poor.

But authorities say that, amid the bloodshed, there are signs that the rebels have waning support - including lines of voters shuffling into polling booths in rebel strongholds.

"I want a good life for my baby, security and peace," said Neha Ransure, a 25-year-old woman who was voting in the Chhattisgarh town of Rajnandgaon. "The rebels are bad. They kill our soldiers. I don’t go outside of town. It is too dangerous."

Rebels always threaten to disrupt Indian elections, and this year is no different.

While Rajnandgaon was peaceful Thursday, rebels set off a bomb near a group of polling officials and security forces in the neighboring district of Kanker, police said. No one was hurt. Another blast injured three paramilitary soldiers and a driver in the state of Jharkhand, where they also blew up railway lines.