27 May 2014

Alleged Connection between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s Fulani Herdsmen Could Spark a Nigerian Civil War

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 10
May 16, 2014

A Fulani herdsman with his cattle

In recent weeks, Nigerian security forces have claimed that some groups of semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen engaged in bitter and bloody conflicts with farmers in several Nigerian states are actually composed of members of Boko Haram. A statement from Nigerian Director of Defense Information Major General Chris Olukolade claimed the potentially dangerous identification came during the interrogation of Fulani herdsmen arrested after a series of killings and arson attacks in Taraba State (Vanguard [Lagos], April 23; Leadership [Abuja], April 24; Nigerian Tribune, April 24). Reports of Boko Haram members (who are mostly members of the Kanuri ethno-cultural group) disguising themselves as Fulani herdsmen while carrying out attacks in rural Nigeria are common. Though many of these reports may be attempts to deflect responsibility from Fulani herders for attacks on sedentary farming communities throughout north and central Nigeria, even the perception that the Fulani herdsmen have joined forces with Boko Haram could propel Nigeria into a new and devastating civil war. 

Conflict between Fulani Pastoralists and Nigerian Agriculturalists 

With origins in the Senegambia region, the Fulani now stretch across some 20 states in West Africa and the Sahel belt, ranging from Guinea-Conakry to Sudan. Though the Fulani herders once existed in a symbiotic relationship with sedentary agriculturalists in this region (involving the fertilization of fields by cattle who fed on the vegetative debris left over after crops had been taken in and the exchange of meat and milk for grain and other agricultural products), this relationship has been disturbed in recent years by environmental changes that have driven the herders further south, massive growth in the size of Fulani herds, the growth of practices such as agro-pastoralism, the expansion of farmland into traditional corridors used by the herders and the general collapse of customary conflict-resolution methods. 

Many Fulani now tend to reach for automatic weapons to resolve disputes with agricultural communities. This has in turn led to the development of “self-defense” forces in the agricultural communities and the growth of cattle-rustling. Vigilante groups are often more trusted than the Nigerian security forces, which are often suspected of collusion with the herders and/or Boko Haram. Farmers routinely accuse the Fulani herders of allowing their animals to feed on still-growing crops and contamination of community watering-places. The rape of non-Fulani women by herders is also identified as a growing source of conflict and prevents women from carrying out traditional and necessary roles in gathering food and water. The herders in turn accuse the farmers of denying them access to grazing areas when alternatives cannot be found. 

The Curse of CAR: Warlords, Blood Diamonds, and Dead Elephants

The Curse of CAR: Warlords, Blood Diamonds, and Dead Elephants 

To end the hideous civil war in the Central African Republic, sanctions against leaders may help, but we also have to stop the trade in gems and ivory that’s funding the warlords. The rule of lawlessness in the Central African Republic, fueled with money from blood diamonds and poached ivory, has hardened religious identities, divided Muslim and Christian communities with murderous enmity, and allowed warlords to prevail in an atmosphere of impunity.

The state in CAR, which has never been strong, is now all but nonexistent. Make no mistake, even though the world is paying little attention, the crisis in the country demands a broad response to halt violence, establish order, and help hundreds of thousands of people at extreme risk.
The U.N. Security Council and the White House recently imposed sanctions on five key players in the conflict that is currently swallowing the country They target former presidents Francois Bozizé and Michel Djotodia, as well as strongmen from the anti-Balaka militia and Séléka rebels.

This is all well and good. Financial strangleholds are a step in the right direction because they address the political and economic dimensions of CAR’s crisis. But broadening the response to what is required and doing so competently means understanding the conflict’s broader dynamics and its distinct traits. Although the Séléka forces are largely Muslim, and the anti-Balaka largely Christian, the structural roots of the crisis and the forces that drive it are more complicated and have little to do with religion.

Those who are paying attention to CAR generally do so out of concern for the country’s violence. Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven from their homes, with many of them living in an airport-turned-wasteland beneath the wings of derelict jets.

What began as skirmishes between anti-Balaka militias and Séléka forces have expanded as fighters on all sides cast ever-widening nets around anyone guilty by association. Political manipulation of religious identity in CAR is nothing new, but it thrives in institutionally weak environments.

omalia Is at Peace—Somalia Is at War Embattled country’s politics are stabilizing, but terror and insurgent group Al Shabab is dangerously transforming

Somalia is the archetypal failed state. A nation that has fractured so completely that for 20 years no central authority was able to control more than a few square kilometers of the capital.

For many outsiders, the word “Somalia” evoked images of Black Hawk Down, pirates and Islamist rebels stoning civilians found guilty of adultery. An attack on the Somali parliament that killed 18 people on May 24 only reinforced the stereotype of a country gone to Hell.

But there are reasons to hope for Somalia. A robust intervention by the African Union, manned mostly by Ugandan troops, improved security and helped protect the fledgling government starting in 2007.

A complex succession of interim governments produced a new constitution and a new president in 2012. Now Somalia stands at a crossroads. And while the future holds considerable promise, there are grave threats, as well.

Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. U.N./Stuart Price photo

Great expectations

“Look at what Somalia is now” compared to a few years ago, says Andrews Atta-Asamoah, a senior researcher at the South African Institute for Security Studies. “It has come a long way.”

Somali and A.U. troops have pushed the Al Shabab Islamic militia out of the capital Mogadishu and many other strongholds. The Somali army and their allies today control larger parts of the country than at any point since the state collapsed into clan warfare in 1991.

But the real progress has been in the political realm, Andrews tells War is Boring. Especially notable was the inauguration of a new president and a new constitution in 2012.

The process was by no means democratic—president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected by a parliament whose members had been appointed by clan elders, rather than by the general population. But it was the most inclusive political process the country had seen in a long time.

According to Atta-Asamoah, Mohamud also represented a “clean break with the past” and therefore brought to his office an unprecedented level of credibility.

In contrast to the interim governments that preceded him, Mohamud has no links to any of the country’s warlords or militias. A highly respected academic, he seems to stand above the fray of clan politics.

The United States of Gas Why the Shale Revolution Could Have Happened Only in America

Made in America: a fracking site in Tioga, North Dakota, November 2013. 

Less than a decade ago, the future of American energy looked bleak. Domestic production of both oil and gas was dwindling, and big U.S. energy companies, believing their fortunes lay offshore, had long since turned away from the mainland. But then something remarkable occurred: a surge of innovation allowed companies to extract vast quantities of natural gas trapped in once-inaccessible deposits of shale. The resulting abundance drove down U.S. gas prices to about one-third of the global average.

Natural gas has been a godsend for the United States. Already, gas has spurred a manufacturing renaissance, with investors spending and planning hundreds of billions of dollars on new facilities such as chemical, steel, and aluminum plants. The shale boom has created hundreds of thousands of new high-paying, middle-class jobs, and now, more than one million Americans work in the oil and gas industry -- an increase of roughly 40 percent between 2007 and 2012. Moreover, because natural gas currently supplies about 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States (a figure that is rapidly growing), the boom is saving U.S. consumers hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Combined with the other benefits, those savings have given the United States a long-term economic advantage over its competitors and helped the country recover from the Great Recession.

As much as other countries may envy this catalyst for domestic growth, they will not be able to replicate it, because only the United States possesses the unique ingredients necessary to fully develop shale resources. A legal system that enshrines the private ownership of land and the resources below it, along with open capital markets and a reasonable regulatory system, has led to the growth of thousands of independent oil and gas companies, all of which are in intense competition with one another. As a result, nearly four million oil and gas wells have been drilled in the United States, versus 1.5 million in the rest of the world. The bustle of drilling activity in the United States has also led to increases in innovation within the industry on an order of magnitude that other countries can only dream of.

Although other places, such as China and Europe, have substantial shale resources, they don’t have the entrepreneur-friendly system needed to develop those resources quickly and productively. So long as politicians don’t get in the way, then, the United States will profit handsomely from the shale revolution for decades to come.

*** HBO History Makers Series With Robert M. Gates

Speaker: Robert M. Gates, President-elect, Boy Scouts of America; Author, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense; Former President, Texas A&M University; Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Presider: Fareed Zakaria, Host, CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS; Editor-at-Large, TIME Magazine; Member, Board of Directors, Council on Foreign Relations

May 21, 2014

Council on Foreign Relations 

ZAKARIA: So I will tell you something Bob Gates told me just as we were coming in. He said that he's here because he was doing an event a few weeks ago at the University Club, as a favor to John Whitehead and that Richard Haass noticed this and said, "what about the Council on Foreign Relations?" But I noticed that even to get him to the Council on Foreign Relations we still had to bring out John Whitehead. 

So, John Whitehead, it's a pleasure to see you. It's a pleasure to see all of you. Henry Kissinger says, "Those who need no introduction crave it the most."


GATES: That would be Henry.

ZAKARIA: I think that that might be more a reflection of the person who said it than a general statement about human beings. And the limited knowledge that I have about Bob Gates tells me that he is not one of those people, so I am going to do him the honor of assuming that everybody knows who Robert Gates is, just remind you that as we talk about these things, Bob Gates has been involved in the making of American Foreign policy for about 40 years, about 8 presidents. And so some of this will be based on not just his most recent term in office as Secretary of Defense, but Director of CIA -- Deputy Director of CIA and such.

Let me just say a few things before we being, which is that this is a serious put together by the council of course, but in association with HBO and Richard Plepler, the CEO in particular. And so we thank them for their generous support. And this is also an event open to CFR members around the nation and the world, because we have live stream and teleconferencing, and we will during the Q&A session will try and get questions from people outside.

Bob, let me start with -- we're meant to be talking about history, but history, past, present, future are going to all meld in inevitably. But I thought we'd talk a little bit about something you've spent your whole life studying, which is Moscow. And when you look at what's going on now, there are two sort of narratives that people have, one of which is if only we had tried harder to integrate Russia into the world order, if we had not expanded NATO, if we had given them more aid, we might have a very different Russia. 

And there's an alternative narrative that says, you know, this was a fool's errand in the first place. Russia is not a prototypical Western country. A Western country in the making, it defines itself by it's distinction, perhaps even by it's opposition to the West. And that this was an inevitable clash and Putin perhaps represents a more spirited example.

You were involved in American foreign policy centrally in that moment when the Soviet Union collapses, when NATO expands into West Germany and East Germany, though not in the expansion into Eastern Europe. Reflect a little bit about this debate and the trajectory of Russian history over the last 20 years.

GATES: I think that -- I think bot of those narratives are much too simple. There's some element of truth in both of them. I think, and as I wrote in the book, I think that we in the West, and in the United States in particular, dramatically underestimated the degree of humiliation on the part of the Russians with the collapse, not just of the Soviet Union which is a relatively recent phenomenon historically, but the collapse of the Russian Empire, a thousand years in the building. 

And then the hoards of Westerners, and especially Americans, businessmen, academicians, government officials, going to Russia in the early 90s and telling them how they should organize themselves. How they should organize their economy. What kind of foreign policies they should follow. And this at a time when Russia was -- was very weak mainly due to the nearly entire collapse of their economy.

Next Steps in Arctic Governance

David Runnalls, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation
May 14, 2014

Crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, in the midst of their ICESCAPE mission, retrieve supplies for some mid-mission fixes dropped by parachute from a C-130 in the Arctic Ocean (Kathryn Hansen/Courtesy Reuters) 

The Arctic has become a subject of greater strategic interest over the past few years, due in part to the overwhelming evidence of climate change and growing access to the region's natural resources. Scientists have long suspected that warming would be more pronounced closer to the poles, but until recently, the extent of this was unclear. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "Arctic warming is causing changes to sea ice, snow cover, and the extent of permafrost in the Arctic. In the first half of 2010, air temperatures in the Arctic were 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1968 to 1996 reference period." Some scientists are even worried about the possible melting of the Greenland ice cap or the thawing of northern permafrost, which would release massive amounts of methane, the most potent greenhouse gas, and could catalyze disaster on an unprecedented scale.

The Evolving Significance of the Arctic

To many, this is a looming calamity for the earth as a whole, and particularly for indigenous Arctic peoples, whose homeland and traditional way of life are under threat. U.S. scientists fear that the iconic polar bear could face extinction in the next few decades due to a loss of ice cover. 

But others are welcoming the changes. Warming in the Arctic has opened a vast treasure trove of energy resources. The United States Geological Survey estimates that about 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil may be found in the Arctic, mostly offshore and under less than 500 meters of water. Meanwhile, shipping companies, as well as big trading nations like Singapore, Japan and Korea, are keen to take advantage of emerging Arctic shipping lanes. Analysts believe that Russia's Northern Sea Route, in particular, has considerable potential, and is able to shave days off shipping times from Asia to Europe, depending on sea ice conditions. The Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic is much more problematic. Few believe that the Passage as a whole will be viable much before 2050.

A Pair of Red Herrings

By most expert accounts, Arctic governance has worked well, but two myths often cloud the debate:

Sovereignty Battles: Unlike Antarctica, the major Arctic territorial claims are settled, with the exception of the U.S.-Canada maritime border dispute in the Beaufort Sea, and competing extended continental shelf claims near the North Pole. There is a UN dispute resolution process that countries seem to trust, but, in spite of this, the domestic political games continue. For instance, the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper recently ordered his officials— amidst guffaws—to add the North Pole to its territorial claim. 

Security Risks: Throughout the Cold War, U.S. and Canadian submarines passed under the ice at will, and intercontinental bombers probed each other's airspaces. When President Barack Obama visited Canada in 2009, the Canadian defense minister announced, with alarm, that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) had spotted two geriatric Tupolev "Bear" bombers approaching Canadian airspace. They were seen off, as they always are, by two Canadian fighter jets. While it is possible that security will once more come to the fore in the Arctic as Russia proceeds with a new expansionist foreign policy, it is not currently a major issue. But it is receiving a great deal of attention in Arctic capitals in light of the situation in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.

The Arctic Council

The Arctic Council, which contains all eight Arctic states, was established in 1996. The council has a unique structure, with six representatives of indigenous peoples as permanent observers. Under the Swedish chairmanship (2011 to2013), China, Korea, Singapore and Japan joined seven European states as permanent observers in acknowledgement of the council's need to respond to evolving economic and shipping interests in the region. In further governance reform, the council now has a small permanent secretariat in Norway.

Information Warfare: Android Infiltrates The Army

May 19, 2014: The U.S. Army is developing a programming tool for its troops that uses Android to create apps for military battlefield wireless networks. Called MACE (Mounted Android Computing Environment) it is already resulting in really useful apps. For example, one of the first apps developed, called ODIN that automates the complex process that allows the software controlled wireless networks being used by different units to quickly mesh with each other. This is similar to the capability built into laptops and smart phones that automatically searches for available networks whenever the wi-fi app is used (or often automatically). Before ODIN it took hours, or longer, to mesh two or more networks unless it was done by prearrangement. In a combat zone that is often creates fatal delays. With ODIN it happens about as fast as with your smart phone. MACE also allows most Android apps to be quickly converted to operate on army combat communications systems. 

Things like MACE are part of the new army communications system (CS 13 or Capability Set 13) for combat troops. In 2013 four combat brigades successfully tested CS-13, which consists of several different technologies the army has been developing since the 1990s. This includes Nett Warrior (an effort to get networking down to the squad leader), Win-T (Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2, a battlefield Internet), BFT 2 (Blue Force Tracking 2 for tracking troop location in real time), Company Command Post (giving company commanders more data), and tactical radios like AN/PRC-117G, Rifleman Radio, and combat smart phones. CS 13 is the result of over a decade of effort to create better battlefield communications, including a combat version of the Internet. The final selection took place between 2012 and 2013 years as 115 systems were tested by troops and those found wanting (most of them) were dropped. 

WIN-T was designed to allow troops to simultaneously exchange text, data, video, and voice data using a new generation of radios. Personal computers and smart phones (including both off-the-shelf and "ruggedized" military models) can hook into WIN-T and use the future improved communications and networking. 

JCR (Joint Capabilities Release) is the latest version of BFT (Blue Force Tracker). JCR is part of an effort to link everyone in a combat brigade electronically while in the combat zone and, most importantly, while in combat. The new gear equips individual troops as well as vehicles. Commanders can use a handheld device or laptop to view BFT locations. The commanders’ app can also be used to take data from troops about enemy locations or where minefields or other obstacles are and post it, so that everyone else with JCR equipment can see and share it. JCR also includes better encryption and improved reliability. This all is part of an effort that began in 2003, when BFT was first used, and that turned into a larger project to perfect the “battlefield Internet”. All of this goes back to the American 1990s era Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below (FBCB2) project. After September 11, 2001 BFT evolved into JCR and became part CS 13. Back in 2003, parts of FBCB2 (mainly BFT) were quickly issued to the troops for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. BFT is a GPS/satellite telephone device that was suddenly in thousands of combat vehicles. Anyone with a laptop, satellite data receiver, the right software, and access codes could then see where everyone was (via a map showing blips for each BFT user). The spectacular success of BFT got the attention of generals everywhere. Since 2003, the U.S. Army built new versions of the BFT and this produced BFT 2 and now JCR. This single device has revolutionized the way commanders handle their troops in combat. 

Disrupt or Be Disrupted: How Governments Can Develop Decisive Military Technologies

May 13, 2014 
By James Hasik and Byron Callan 

U.S. Army/Spc. Steven Hitchcock. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Just what makes a military technology disruptive? How does one know who will disrupt, and who will be disrupted? How can we aim to develop disruptive technologies, and how can we spot them before others use them to disrupt our security?

In the latest issue brief from the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, “Disrupt or Be Disrupted: How Governments Can Develop Decisive Military Technologies,” authors James Hasik and Byron Callan explore these questions and consider the history and future of the military’s adaptation to groundbreaking technological advances. 

Hasik and Callan recommend that even in peacetime, US national security leaders must be willing to invest heavily in R&D and increase focus on prototyping and field experimentation in order to maintain its competitive edge in military technology.

This issue brief is part of the Atlantic Council’s conference Disrupting Defense: Dynamic Security in an Age of New Technologies. The conference hosts leaders from government, business, media, and the think tank community to explore technology’s disruptive impact on geopolitics, efforts by public and private investors to fund technological breakthroughs, the changing ways the United States and its allies equip their forces for wars of the future, and how best to leverage the creativity of artists to envision those wars and continue this important dialogue.

** DNI Clapper Teases ‘Revolutionary’ Intel Future; Big Cost Savings From Cutting Contractors

By Colin Clark on May 22, 2014

COLORADO SPRINGS: The intelligence community is on the verge of “revolutionary” technical advances. Spy satellites and other systems will be able to watch a place or a person for long periods of time and warn intelligence analysts and operatives when target changes its behavior. Satellites and their sensors could be redirected automatically to ensure nothing is missed.

“We will have systems that are capable of persistence: staring at a place for an extended period of time to detect activity; to understand patterns of life; to warn us when a pattern is broken, when the abnormal happens; and even to use ABI [Activity Based Intelligence] methodologies to predict future actions,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said today in remarks here at the Space Foundation’s annual National Space Symposium.

Imagine a satellite has been tasked to watch a village with several high value targets in residence. The satellite, probably working with other assets such as Global Hawks and Predators, would track perform what is today known as change detection. For example, the three people under surveillance etch the same rough pattern in the village for several weeks, going to the mosque, visiting a tea house and sleeping in several different houses. One day, two of the men go outside, get on scooters and drive in opposite directions. The ground station receiving the data would automatically note the shift in behavior and alert analysts or even special operations troops on standby.

I built that scenario after speaking with several of the 9,000 people attending this year’s event.

Clapper said the new spy satellite architecture — comprised of the spy satellites and the ground systems that receive data from them — “will be a system of systems,” Clapper said. They will be “fully automated,” he said, which means the satellites and perhaps other assets can be automatically redirected to new targets or to use new sensors from the ground. For most of the space age, a highly classified committee has met to decide tasking, i.e., which satellites would be redirected to which targets. Raytheon has built the current ground portion — called MIND (Mission Integration and Development) – of the NRO’s spy satellite system. That program has repeatedly been cited in recent years as an on-time and on-budget example of what the Intelligence Community can do.

Information Warfare: When Video Backfires

May 22, 2014: Palestinians thought they had scored another media triumph when they recently released a video of an Israeli soldier, guarding an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, being harassed by several young Palestinian men. The soldier eventually puts a magazine of ammo into his rifle and points it at the most threatening of the Palestinians and tells him to back off or else. Nothing happens and the Palestinian men retreat. The video was meant to show the brutality of Israeli security measures against Palestinians but, much to the consternation and disappointment of the Palestinians many (including a lot of Israelis) saw it as further evidence that the Palestinians do not want peace and only want to cause trouble. 

The reaction on the Internet was surprising to Israeli military leaders. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers left comments on sites where the video appeared and pointed out that it is the Palestinians who are the aggressors and that Israeli soldiers operate under a growing list of rules about what they can (very little) and cannot do in response to Palestinian threats and violence. Equally disturbing was the fact that soldiers were often breaking rules by discussing these matters on the Internet. But it was also obvious that there was a lot of anger and frustration among the soldiers who are reservists and regularly called up to spend a month or so providing security in the West Bank. 

Those for and against the Israeli presence in the West Bank used the incident to support their views, but the soldiers were mostly frustrated at being caught in the middle of a dispute that the Palestinians and Arabs have refused to settle for decades and blame everyone but themselves for their predicament.

Counter-Terrorism: The Electronic Jihad

May 19, 2014: In April 2014 a Moslem man (Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi) from Nigeria pled guilty in an American court to charges that he had participated in an al Qaeda operation in Yemen to promote Islamic terrorism via the Internet. Babafemi faces up to 30 years in jail for going to Yemen in 2010 and joining al Qaeda. He later returned to Nigeria and was arrested there and extradited to the United States in 2013. He is one of an increasing number of Islamic terrorist sympathizers who stay out of the battleground areas and provide support via the Internet. Terrorist leaders now recognize this sort of support is important for jihad (struggle) and it is encouraged. 

Babafemi responded to al Qaeda calls for supporters to help develop methods (electronic or otherwise) to promote Islamic terrorists and help solve difficult problems, like how to deal with the American UAVs that constantly patrol terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan (Waziristan), Afghanistan (the Pakistani border area) and southern Yemen. These aircraft constantly find and kill Islamic terrorist leaders with missiles, including several of those who, like Babafemi, worked on Internet based promotion and propaganda. This effort produced many English language efforts and a lot of the work was based in Yemen. 

In early 2013 the Afghan Taliban put out an appeal for help via the first issue of “Azan”, an online magazine similar to the earlier (2010) Inspire magazine based in Yemen. Created by American born (and Yemen based) Islamic terrorist Anwar al Awlaqi, the ten issues of Inspire gave wannabe Islamic terrorists guidance on what the main targets should be (according to senior al Qaeda leadership) and practical advice on how to carry out attacks. One issue advised going after prominent people, like retired politicians or those deemed to have insulted Islam, and kill them. Several articles provided more practical advice on various terrorist techniques. Anwar al Awlaqi was killed by a UAV launched missile in 2011, as have several other terrorists associated with Inspire. This is why Inspire was published irregularly. Azan was soon under similar pressure and has had only five issues so far. Inspire magazine has published twelve issues since 2010, including one in early 2014. 

Azan’s first issue was devoted almost entirely to the UAV problem. The terrible suffering of the Holy Warriors because of the relentless UAVs was described in great detail. The implication was that many clever ideas to counter the UAVs have failed and new and more effective ideas are desperately needed. The missile armed UAVs were a major threat to Islamic terrorist leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

The U.S. CIA UAV campaign against Islamic terrorists in Pakistan (mainly North Waziristan), 

Afghanistan and Yemen has led to al Qaeda being rendered much weaker by all the losses to leadership and technical personnel (especially bomb builders). This “decapitation” tactic was successful in Iraq and earlier in Israel (where it was developed to deal with the Palestinian terror campaign that began in 2000). The Israelis were very successful with their decapitation program, which reduced Israeli civilian terrorist deaths from over 400 a year to less than ten. American troops have used similar tactics many times in the past (in World War II, 1960s Vietnam, the Philippines over a century ago, and in 18th century colonial America) but tend to forget such lessons after a generation or so.

WWII’s Greatest Battle: How Kursk Changed the War


Perhaps the most important battle of World War II was a giant clash of tanks between Germans and Russians, but today it is largely overlooked in the West. Andrew Roberts on a new book that makes a convincing case for how it changed the war. The statistics relating to the Battle of Kursk—the great showdown between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in July 1943—still have the power to astonish, even 70 years later. Almost 3 million men, a full eight thousand tanks, and nearly five thousand warplanes broke all records for both the costliest single day of aerial warfare and the largest tank battle in the history of mankind. If the Germans had broken through the Russian lines in the Kursk salient and scored a decisive victory over the Red Army, it is perfectly possible that they might have turned back the tide of war in their direction, despite their defeats at Moscow and Stalingrad in 1941 and 1942, respectively.

Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk, The Turning Point of World War II By Dennis Showalter 368 pages. Random House. $28. ()

Yet compared with the battles of Guadalcanal, Midway, D-Day, Arnhem, and the Bulge, the great clash at Kursk is very little known in the West and hailed only by aficionados, despite its dwarfing each of those other battles in size and indeed in importance. The veteran historian Dennis Showalter, whose many excellent books on the war form a remarkable canon of military history writing, makes a convincing case in this well-researched and well-written book that Kursk should be seen as the key turning point of the war, even more important than Stalingrad in its long-term implications. “The battle of Kursk was the Eastern Front’s transition point,” Showalter argues with a conviction supported by well-deployed evidence, “and its point of no return.”

Kursk lies 315 miles south of Moscow and straddles the main Moscow-Rostov railway line. By the spring of 1943 it was the center of a Russian-held protuberance, or “salient,” jutting 120 miles wide and 90 miles deep into the German lines. Unfortunately for the Germans, even the most cursory glance at the map made it completely obvious where they would therefore attack. A pincer movement directly to the north and south of Kursk would have pinched off the salient, and lead to the destruction of Marshal Rokossovsky’s Central army in its north and Marshal Vatutin’s Voronezh army to the south.

Hitler flew to see Field Marshal Erick von Manstein on the front line for three days on Feb. 17, 1943, coming so close to the enemy that some Soviet T-34 tanks even got to within firing range of the airfield. Because the next move was so obvious to all, Manstein wanted to undertake it as early as possible, ideally in early March, but the go-ahead for Unternehmen Zitadelle (Operation Citadel) was postponed by the Fuhrer until the ground had thoroughly thawed. Hitler, who had put Manstein’s recapture of Kharkov largely down to the new Tiger tank, of which he thought one battalion was worth a division of other tanks, also wanted to wait until the Tiger had come fully on stream before launching Citadel. As only a dozen were being produced per week at that time, this was a major impediment to the early action for which Manstein was rightly pushing. Meanwhile, the Russians made the salient virtually impregnable.

Military Diplomacy – time to bridge the void

Issue Net Edition | Date : 23 May , 2014

Questioned ‘why do we need military officers to engage in diplomacy, Nitin Pai, founder and fellow for geopolitics at the Takshila Institute, had replied, “Not only does the nature of contemporary international politics call for it, but other important nations practice it. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US and the four-star generals that head its Theatre Commands are important players in operationalizing Washington’s foreign policy around the world. The Pentagon’s foreign policy resources are comparable to the State Department’s. Look around the neighbourhood. The armed forces are key players in politics and security policies of all our neighbours, from China to Indonesia, from Pakistan to Myanmar.”

China’s military diplomacy is based on security and geopolitical interests and calculation, which are driving the modernization of the PLA in an effort to improve China’s stature in the international security environment.

Military diplomacy can be defined as using the resources of the armed forces of a nation to promote its national security interests. This implies peaceful application of resources from across the spectrum of defence, to achieve positive outcomes in the development of a country’s bilateral and multilateral relationships. Viewing military diplomacy only in terms of defence attachés, personnel exchanges, ship/ aircraft visits, meetings / forums, training / exercises would not address the issue holistically. Military diplomacy is developed and implemented conjointly by the foreign and defence ministries and is often associated with conflict prevention and application of the military. It is distinct from the concept of ‘coercive diplomacy’ which is generally motivated by desire to intimidate potential adversaries. While application of national power should be through domains of diplomacy, information operations, military and economic, military diplomacy can contribute in all the four. When John F Kennedy said “Diplomacy and Defence are not substitutes for one another, either alone would fail”, this covered the necessity to synergize national security and military diplomacy as well.

US military diplomacy is visible through very senior officers accompanying the President, Defence Secretary, National Security Advisor etc on foreign visits. The military-diplomat construct is ensured by posting Ambassador level officers at Theatre Commands. All Commands are required to pursue roles and responsibilities of a traditional geographic combatant command including facilitating / leading military operations, to include broader ‘soft power’ issues like health, infrastructure rehabilitation, environment, economic development, security issues, conflict attention and other human security aspects. Africa Command (AFRICOM) based in Germany is typical example of military diplomacy aimed at strengthening US-Africa security cooperation. Creation of ‘Enabling Command’ is another example of military diplomacy.

Peacekeeping: Peacekeepers, Not Bodyguards

May 22, 2014: Responding to growing complaints of UN peacekeepers refusing to protect threatened (by bandits, rebels or terrorists) civilians the UN did a study of the issue and found that in 80 percent of 507 situations where UN peacekeepers were authorized to use force to protect civilians from these attacks the peacekeepers refused to act. This was just for activity between 2010 and 2013 and the problem goes back much further than that. Pressure to change this falls on the nations responsible to contributing most of the $8 billion a year peacekeeping budget (United States, Japan, France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Italy, Russia, Canada and Spain) and the nations contributing most of the peacekeepers (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Rwanda). The latter nations complain that they did not contribute troops to engage in the level of fighting (and casualties) that would be required to respond to every request to protect civilians. This would be considered peacemaking, not peacekeeping and the UN has recognized the problem by calling on nations to contribute troops expressly for fighting. 

In Congo the UN recently formed a combat brigade for explicitly aggressive combat operations, but most nations that contribute peacekeeping troops expect their soldiers to carry out relatively low-risk duties. The UN is often at fault when it orders civilians to be protected and ignoring the fact that the UN member nations providing troops had ordered their commanders in the area to limit the danger their soldiers would be exposed to. There is now pressure on the UN to get nations contributing peacekeepers to allow their soldiers to more frequently use force to protect civilians. This will make it harder (or more expensive) to get peacekeepers. It is already difficult to recruit the number of peacekeepers that are needed.

Soldiers of Misfortune?

Authored by Dr. Thomas R. Mockaitis
Added May 13, 2014 
Type: Monograph 
82 Pages 
Download Format: PDF 

Brief Synopsis

In examing the role of security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, the author draws broad lessons from which he provides concrete recommendations to improve the conduct of further missions. Rather than do away with contractors altogether, the author recommends limiting their roles, providing better oversight of their activities, and improving legal accountability for their wrong doing. This monograph will be of interest to soldiers and policymakers engaged in the difficult task of planning and conducting contingency operations.

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service

S that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following.


Maj. Matt Cavanaugh (USA), April 23, 2013, Foreign Policy

Capt. Jesse Sloman (USMCR), April 18, 2014, Foreign Policy

Col. Keith Nightingale (USA, Ret.), April 11, 2014, Foreign Policy

Capt. Adam Thomas (USMC), April 3, 2014, Foreign Policy

Maj. Daniel Leard (USA), April 1,2014, Foreign Policy

Matt Wilson, March 27, 2014, Foreign Policy

Matthew McClure, March 25, 2014, Foreign Policy

Puong Fei Yeh, March 21, 2014, Foreign Policy

John Byran, March 18, 2014, Foreign Policy

Kevin Black, March 17, 2014, Foreign Policy

Lt. Col. Dan Manning (USAF), March 13, 2014, Foreign Policy

Clark Barrett, March 12, 2014, Foreign Policy

Adrian Bonenberger, March 7, 2014, Foreign Policy

Capt. Michael Junge (USN), March 5, 2014, Foreign Policy

Paul Lewandowski, March 4, 2014, Foreign Policy

Maj. Daniel Sukman (USA), February 28, 2014, Foreign Policy

Maj. Daniel Sukman (USA), February 27, 2014, Foreign Policy

Sean Kelleher, February 27, 2014, Foreign Policy

Christopher Davis, February 25, 2014, Foreign Policy

Col. Chip Bircher IV (USA), February 21, 2014, Foreign Policy

MSgt. Bill Gawne (USMC, ret.), February 18, 2014, Foreign Policy

Jeff Williams, February 13, 2014, Foreign Policy

Patrick McKinney, February 10, 2014, Foreign Policy

Lt. Col. Douglas Pryer (USA), February 6, 2014, Foreign Policy

David Kilcullen, February 5, 2014, Foreign Policy

Col. Gary Anderson (USMC, ret.), February 5, 2014, Foreign Policy

Lt. Col. Douglas Pryer (USA), February 5, 2014, Foreign Policy