3 July 2014


Like many nations whose armies disintegrated, the Iraqi government is looking to the sky for salvation.

As Sunni militants continue their mostly unopposed blitz across northern Iraq, Moscow has sold Baghdad a dozen Su-25 Frogfoot close air support aircraft—in essence, Russia’s equivalent to America’s A-10 Warthog—as well as trainers to teach Iraqis how to fly the straight-wing jets.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has blamed his army’s rout on Washington’s refusal to speed delivery of new F-16s, currently slated for handover this fall. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants “could have been repelled if Iraq had proper air defense,” Maliki said, according to Russian media.

“I’ll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the U.S.],” Maliki complained to Russia’s RT News. “We should have sought to buy other jet fighters—like British, French and Russian—to secure the air cover for our forces.”

“If we had air cover we would have averted what had happened,” Maliki griped.

Say what? The Iraqi army disintegrated before a numerically inferior force of lightly armed fundamentalists because Iraq lacked “proper air defense?”

In fact, Iraq’s air arms—including helicopter gunships and missile-armed Cessnas—have fought hard against the ISIS onslaught … and suffered heavy casualties.

A lack of air power is not the problem.

Coalition forces destroyed this Iraqi Su-25 during the 1991 Gulf War. Photo via Wikipedia

A handful of Su-25s is not going to make much of a difference to the Shia-dominated Iraqi government. For one, Iraqi rather than Russian pilots apparently will fly the Su-25s, thus raising the question of how long it will take to bring the Iraqis up to speed for the demanding task of providing close air support with what is, to them, a new warplane type.

Iraq deployed Frogfoots during the 1980s war with Iran, but that almost 30 years ago.

Let’s be optimistic and assume that Iraq can keep two-thirds of its Su-25s flightworthy. That’s eight Frogfoots providing air support at a time when entire divisions of Iraqi army troops are dropping their weapons and fleeing.

But the biggest reason why air power will have a limited impact is that it hasn’t had much affect in the neighboring conflict that most resembles the situation in Iraq. The Syrian government had ample strike aircraft and helicopters at the start of the country’s civil war.

No doubt their firepower was an asset. Yet the Syrian army nearly collapsed anyway. What saved it weren’t bombs from above, but rather boots on the ground as Hezbollah fighters intervened to stiffen sagging government morale.

ISIS is a force of fanatical ground troops. Only an equally determined Iraqi army can stop them. Air power can help, but it’s not salvation from the sky.

The End of Iraq as we know it?

Andreas Krieg, Lecturer Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, Qatar Armed Forces

Looking at the atrocities committed, the sable rattling on both sides, and the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, many have asked me in the past week whether recent events in Iraq might be the prelude to the end of Iraq as we know it. There is surely no easy answer to this question. When approaching the question one has to bear in mind the historical legacy of Iraq, its domestic sectarian dynamics and the arbitrariness with which France and Britain marked out their spheres of influence in the Middle East – ultimately defining the territorial integrity of Iraq today. The result of the Franco-British Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 was the shuffling together of sectarian groups not based on their cultural heritage but based on the strategic interests of the Great Powers. Thus, some might say that there is nothing natural about Sunnis, Shi’as and Kurds living under one rule in one country – particularly not when this country’s central government is dominated by either one of the groups. So the question of whether ISIS’ operational victories will translate into the effective end of Iraq as we know it can mean different things. For one, will Iraq’s territorial integrity seize to exist with all three groups seceding from the unified state of Iraq? And two, will the current American-built Shi’a dominated governance system under the leadership of Maliki disintegrate giving way to a more effective and inclusive governance system?

The short answer is, yes Iraq as we know has inevitably seized to exist. As territorial gains stand today, Iraq in the short-term is effectively divided into Kurdistan in the North, a Sunni heartland dominated by the propaganda machine of ISIS and a Shi’a South. Turning towards the north of Iraq, the Kurds are probably the great winners of the current state of anarchy. Ever since 2003, the Kurds have enjoyed a degree of autonomy from Baghdad that almost equals quasi-independence. With Kurdish territorial gains in the Kirkuk area, Kurds might now exploit the current situation to take another step towards independence uniting Kurdish majority areas under its green-white-red flag. Kurdistan will then control the significant hydrocarbon riches of Northern Iraq. At this point it seems unlikely that ISIS can rally the necessary support in the Sunni community to snatch these areas away from the Kurds. Equally, in the South, Shi’as will probably be able to withstand the advance of ISIS into its Southern heartlands where most of Iraq’s current hydrocarbon revenues are being generated. Iran, Hezbollah and even the US would not allow ISIS to advance on the Shi’a shrine cities of the South: Najaf and Karbala. Shi’as will put up a fierce fight to protect their oil-rich heartland. Considering the number of Western oil companies operating there and the number of private security companies securing these facilities, it would be a fight that ISIS cannot win. 

After Retreat, Iraqi Soldiers Fault Officers

By C. J. CHIVERSJULY 1, 2014

The remnants of the Ninth Brigade of Iraq’s border guards at Al-Ukhaidir fortress, far from the positions they once held. Credit Image by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
Until late June, this eighth-century redoubt in the Shiite south of Iraq had been a tourist and heritage site. Now the remnants of the Ninth Brigade find shelter within its walls.

These men have no pressing duties, even at a time of Iraq’s grave need. Instead, more than 300 miles from posts they had been ordered to defend, they huddled around visitors to describe an embarrassing retreat.

“We were sold, it was a sellout,” said one of the enlisted men, as a crowd of his fellow guards nodded in agreement. “Everyone here was willing to fight.”

Members of the Iraqi Parliament pointed fingers after an argument broke out on Tuesday in Baghdad.As Iraqi Violence Rages, Lawmakers Fail to Reach Deal on New GovernmentJULY 1, 2014
Saudi Arabia Donates $500 Million to Help Displaced IraqisJULY 1, 2014
Middle East Memo: ISIS Threatens Al Qaeda as Flagship Movement of ExtremistsJUNE 30, 2014
Iraqi refugees waited to be granted permission to enter the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq.A Reignited War Drives Iraqis Out in Huge NumbersJUNE 28, 2014
The account of the Ninth Brigade of Iraq’s border guards, confirmed by an official who witnessed many of the events, is a portrait of generals unfit to lead in war and of mismanagement, incompetence and ultimately treachery under the patronage of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

Ninth Brigade members, now at Al-Ukhaidir fortress, said they had been eager to fight but were undermined by commanders who failed to provide water and food. Credit Image by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

In early June, as militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, stormed through the north, Iraq’s security forces crumbled. Some soldiers and police officers shed their uniforms and bolted. Others were captured or changed sides.

But what was sometimes labeled cowardice or treason in the rank and file was often nothing of the sort, members of the border forces said in interviews in recent days. In the case of the Ninth Brigade, at least, its members insisted that they were eager to fight but were undermined by high commanders who failed to provide border forces with water and food, causing the brigade to abandon positions in the searing desert heat.

Two critical border crossings, Qaim and Waleed, slipped from government control last month, and large stretches of open desert along the Syrian border have not been patrolled since the Ninth Brigade withdrew over a week ago, border guards said. The collapse gave ISIS unchallenged cross-border movement.

A New U.S. Grand Strategy

July 01, 2014

The recent ISIS crisis is Iraq once again has American politicians arguing in favor of military intervention. Among the most vocal are those who led the United States into Iraq a decade ago, a decision that helped set in motion the events now playing out on the outskirts of Baghdad. There will always be such crises and such calls for the United States to deploy its military far beyond its borders.

The problem is that the United States has grown incapable of moderating its ambitions in international politics. Since the collapse of Soviet power, it has pursued a grand strategy that can be called “Liberal Hegemony,” which is unnecessary, counterproductive, costly, and wasteful. In my book, Restraint, I explain why this grand strategy works poorly.

Three major events affected my thinking—the enlargement of NATO to include the former vassal states of the Soviet Union, the war in Kosovo, and the war in Iraq. The first expanded U.S. obligations in ways that did little for U.S. security and needlessly antagonized Russia. Kosovo was an elective war, rationalized on the basis of information that was at best poor, and at worst deliberately mischaracterized by motivated policy entrepreneurs, and nearly bungled militarily due to the war’s founding illusions. The 2003 Iraq war echoed the mistakes of the Kosovo war, but on a larger scale and with much greater costs. Military spending has been excessive throughout this period, because the political ambitions that it serves have been greater than national security required. This is a track record. The United States needs a change of grand strategy.

The United States, like all other countries, must live in the world as it is—a world without a single authority to provide protection. Any state can resort to arms to enforce its claims, so the United States wisely remains prepared to enforce its claims, if it must. The most important claim is to sovereignty, territorial integrity, and safety. That said, the development of military force is expensive, and the use of military force is terrible. Great American generals from William Tecumseh Sherman to Dwight Eisenhower remind us that war is hell and that war is waste. The United States needs military power and needs to be prepared to use it. But this is no casual matter. Military power must be subjected to the discipline of political analysis. That is the purpose of grand strategy.

The United States has the luxury to be very discriminate in the commitments it makes and the wars it fights. 

An alternative grand strategy is “Restraint.” Restraint advises us to look first at the elemental strengths of the United States, which make it an easy country to defend. The United States thus has the luxury to be very discriminate in the commitments it makes and the wars it fights. Although the United States has been much at war since the end of the Cold War, only one fight was forced on us—the Afghan War. And even there, the United States was not forced to fight that war in the naïve and profligate fashion that it chose.

The United States is a wealthy and capable state. It can afford more security than most states. But the United States has extended the boundaries of its political and military defense perimeter very far. Taken separately, each individual project has seemed reasonable and affordable, at least to its advocates. Taken together, however, they add up to an embedded system of ambitious and costly excess. For these reasons, I have signed up with the advocates of Restraint. The United States should focus on a small number of threats, and approach those threats with subtlety and moderation. It should do that because the world is resistant to heavy-handed solutions. It can do that because the United States is economically and militarily strong, well-endowed and well-defended by nature, and possessed of an enormous ability to regenerate itself. It is not smart to spend energies transforming a recalcitrant world that we could spend renewing a United States that still needs some work.

Though it may seem inevitable that the United States took the path it did, there was much discussion in the 1990s about how to proceed. One can identify four different strands of opinion. Sadly, these have been reduced to two—the establishment consensus on Liberal Hegemony and Restraint. Four factors helped make Liberal Hegemony the victor. First, with the collapse of Soviet power the United States became the most capable global power in history. Nothing stood in the way. Second, the Western liberal model was triumphant. History vindicated the rightness of our system and made it in our eyes the appropriate model for others. Third, the Cold War ended with U.S. forces “manning the ramparts” around the world. Insecurity and disorder beyond the ramparts quickly created demands from within and without to move them outward. Fourth, the United States had built giant organizations to wage the Cold War and squadrons of national security experts to manage them. Most organization theorists will tell you that organizations never want to go out of business; if they succeed at their first task, they will try to find another. For these reasons, a more rather than a less ambitious strategy emerged after the Cold War, even before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States, which supercharged the whole effort.

At bottom, these policies run up against three problems, which will get worse. First, other countries want security as much as we do. When we define our security expansively, we encourage some of them to compete more intensely. Others welcome our help, and because they can count on the United States, are stingy with their own defense spending. They “cheap ride.” Second, global trends will make U.S. expansiveness ever more costly because other states are growing in power, as are peoples and groups, as the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council has been reporting for several years. More capable states are more able to push back and hence more inclined to do so, as are individuals and nonstate actors. Third, perhaps since the middle of the nineteenth century, ethno-nationalist, religious, and class identities have become heavily politicized. Globalization and modernity have the paradoxical effect of intensifying these identities rather than weakening them. These identities ease the way for the political mobilization of power—for street action, for voting, for civil and international war, for terror. They provide both purpose and motive force. Strong politicized ethno-national and religious identities dislike rule by other groups, or foreigners, above all else. Liberal Hegemony puts the United States in that role, or close to it, too often. Finally, although modern high-technology weaponry has created the impression that military power is a scalpel that can be used to excise diseased politics, in my view it remains a club, which in the end mainly allows us to beat problems into grudging submission at best, remission at worse. Liberal Hegemony is not only unnecessary, it will prove increasingly costly.

There are three important security challenges for the United States—the maintenance of a balance of power in Eurasia, the management of nuclear proliferation, and the suppression of international terrorist organizations that choose the United States as a target.

Restraint dictates that, in Eurasia, the United States would do best to conserve resources by correctly assessing the situation. The European allies are well able to look after themselves, and Russia is no longer a candidate for hegemony. China, on the other hand, may ultimately bid for regional hegemony. But other states in Asia have considerable capacity to balance China, and rather than rushing the net toward a new "Cold War," the United States should begin to energize these states to make reasonable contributions to their own security.

Zero nuclear proliferation will be difficult to achieve—among other things, it could require costly and ineffective preventive wars. The United States should do what it can to slow proliferation, and confine possession of nuclear weapons to states that can be deterred because they have something to lose, and keep them out of the hands of independent groups, who may not be deterred because they have little to lose. This requires much more active cooperation with those states that possess nuclear weapons to ensure the highest standards of control and safety. 

Finally, peculiar terrorist groups with vast ambitions, such as al-Qaeda, will arise from time to time. Global cooperation to improve defenses and collect intelligence is the best answer. Wars to secure ungoverned or poorly governed spaces and attempts to build strong democracies have foundered on nationalist resistance to outside forces, and inter-group enmities. Because invasion antagonizes local populations and generates new recruits for terror, kinetic solutions should be used sparingly.

I want to emphasize that the military strategy and structure of Restraint is essentially maritime—“command of the commons.” The United States should invest its scarce military power in the maintenance of an ability to access the rest of the world. It should reduce, however, its regular military presence in the rest of the world. The United States should avoid certain missions altogether, especially coercive state and nation building. Thus the United States can radically cut the ground forces that seem most apt for garrison duties and counterinsurgency. Major force structure cuts should allow the United States to save significant amounts of money, cutting the defense budget to perhaps 2.5 percent of GDP.

Unless the United States begins to recognize the limitations of its power and its resources—as well as the uncertain effects that such decisions can have—it will forever overreach, overspend, and overcommit.

Editors' Note: This article is an updated version of the preface to Barry R. Posen's book,Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy. His piece, "The Case for Doing Nothing in Iraq" appeared earlier this month in Politico.

America Broke Iraq: Three Lessons for Washington

"America should get out of the business of invasion and occupation."

July 1, 2014 

Colin Powell put it clearly and succinctly: “If you break it, you own it.” America broke Iraq. America owns Iraq. This is how the rest of the world sees it. This is also why the world is mystified by the current Obama-Cheney debate. Both these camps are saying, “You did it.” Actually both the camps should say, “Wedid it.”

The tragedy about this divisive debate is that America is missing a great opportunity to reflect on a big and fundamental question: why is America so bad at the simple task of invading and occupying countries? Surely, the American invasion and occupation of Iraq will go down in history as one of the most botched operations of its kind. America spent $4 trillion, lost thousands of American lives and millions of Iraqi lives, and at the end of the day, achieved nothing. Since the failure was so catastrophic, why not at least try to learn some valuable lessons from it? There are at least three lessons that scream for attention.

The first lesson is the folly of good intentions. Let’s be clear about one thing: Americans are not evil people.They do not conquer countries to rape, pillage and loot. Instead, they conquer countries to help the people. President George W. Bush’s goal was to set up a stable, functioning Iraqi democracy, not to set up an American colony in perpetuity. The British colonial rulers of Iraq in the early twentieth century would have been totally mystified by these good intentions. And they would have been even more flummoxed by the methods used to achieve these good intentions. For example, the British would preserve local institutions, not destroy them.

The last successful American occupation was the occupation of Japan. MacArthur wisely preserved Japanese institutions—including Emperor Hirohito, despite his role in the war. By contrast, America destroyed both Saddam’s army and his Ba’ath party at the beginning, thereby condemning the occupation to failure. Some Americans believed they could manage Iraq because American governance was inherently superior. Paul Bremer assumed he could rule Iraq effortlessly with his big boots, without ever being aware that his big boots were culturally offensive.

Maliki Isn’t The Problem. Oil Is.

June 22, 2014

During the past few days, the United States strategy for addressing the escalating violence in Iraq has emphasized diplomacy to achieve political reconciliation. The Obama administration and many members of Congress are blaming Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for having fanned Iraq’s sectarian flames. Maliki has indeed systematically concentrated power in his own hands, and has excluded Sunnis, Kurds, and even other Shiite groups wherever and wherever possible. It’s no surprise, then, that many Sunnis have rightly concluded that the current political system will never benefit them, and that some of them are taking up arms to help a Sunni extremist group overthrow that political system.

Nora Bensahel is senior fellow and co-director of the Responsible Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. Full Bio

But the fundamental political problem in Iraq isn’t Maliki himself. It’s the fact that Iraq is an oil state – and any new Iraqi leader, whether Sunni, Shiite, or Kurd – would likely govern in much the same way as Maliki has.

Oil states are almost always autocracies, and it’s easy to understand why. They don’t depend on taxing their citizens in order to generate revenue, the way that most states do. Instead, they generate tremendous revenues simply by selling oil. Controlling the state means controlling the oil, which means controlling oil revenues, which translates directly into political power. And that means that whoever controls the state will do whatever they can to maintain that control – by providing lavish benefits to their supporters while seeking to quash potential opposition before it arises. 

By their very nature, oil states are rarely politically inclusive. They often create government structures that seem to include other groups, but nominal opposition parties are usually fig leaves with no real political power. It is very hard for leaders of oil states to make credible commitments to share power with other groups, because oil is an indivisible resource – either you control it or you don’t. The oil sharing agreements that do exist, like the one between the Kurds and the central Iraqi state, often cause tension and instability because neither side believes that it benefits sufficiently. And that’s because more oil revenue means more power. Those who control the state rarely share that power voluntarily, because they know that every other group in the country wants to unseat them and take over the state – and the country’s oil wealth. 


July 1, 2014 · by Fortuna's Corner

Dragonfly: Massive Cyber Attack Has Compromised +1000 Power Plants Worldwide

The cyber security firm Symantec is reporting this morning (July 1, 2014) on their website blog, that “an ongoing cyber espionage campaign — against a range of targets — mainly in the energy sector — has given the attackers the ability to mount sabotage operations against their victims. The attackers, known to Symantec as Dragonfly, managed to compromise a number of strategically important organizations for spying purposes; and, if they had used sabotage capabilities [available] open to them, [they] could have caused [significant] damage or disruption to energy supplies in the affected countries.

Symantec notes that among the targets of Dragonfly:, were energy grid operators; major electricity generation firms; petroleum pipeline operators; and, energy industrial equipment providers. Symantec notes that the majority of victims were located in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Turkey.

Symantec adds that the group is well-resourced, with a range of malware tools at its disposal; and, is capable of launching attacks through a number of vectors. It’s most ambitious attack campaign saw it compromise a number of industrial control system (ICS) equipment providers, infecting their software with a remote access-type Trojan . This discovery prompted the companies to install the malware — when downloading software updates for computers running ICS equipment. These infections not only gave the attackers a beachhead in the targeted organizations network, Symantec notes, but, also gave them the means to mount sabotage operations against infected ICS computers.

The campaign follows in the footsteps of the Stuxnet cyber virus, which was the first known major malware campaign to target ICS systems. While Stuxnet was narrowly targeted at the Iranian nuclear program; and, had sabotage as its primary goal — Dragonfly appears to have a much broader focus — with espionage and persistent access as its current objective — with sabotage as a an optional capability, if required.

In addition to compromising ICS software, Dragonfly has used spam email campaigns and watering hole attacks to infect targeted organizations. According to Symantec, the group has used two primary tools, Backdoor Oldrea, and Trojan Karagany. The former, Symantec says, appears to be a custom piece of malware, either written by, or for the attackers.

Prior to the publication of this article, Symantec says it notified affected victims and relevant authorities, such as the Computer Emergency Response Centers (CERTs) that handle and respond to Internet security incidents.

Data Flood

Helping the Navy Address the Rising Tide of Sensor Information

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 3.6 MB Best for desktop computers.
Technical Details »
ePub file 7.4 MB Best for mobile devices.
Technical Details »
mobi file 13.3 MB Best for Kindle 1-3. 
Technical Details »

Research Questions
What changes across four dimensions — people, tools and technology, data and data architectures, and demand and demand management — will best position the Navy to solve its "big data" challenge and exploit big data's opportunities?


In the U.S. Navy, there is a growing demand for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data, which help Navy commanders obtain situational awareness and help Navy vessels perform a host of mission-critical tasks. The amount of data generated by ISR sensors has, however, become overwhelming, and Navy analysts are struggling to keep pace with this data flood. Their challenges include extremely slow download times, workstations cluttered with applications, and stovepiped databases and networks — challenges that are only going to intensify as the Navy fields new and additional sensors in the coming years. Indeed, if the Navy does not change the way it collects, processes, exploits, and disseminates information, it will reach an ISR "tipping point" — the point at which its analysts are no longer able to complete a minimum number of exploitation tasks within given time constraints — as soon as 2016.

The authors explore options for solving the Navy's "big data" challenge, considering changes across four dimensions: people, tools and technology, data and data architectures, and demand and demand management. They recommend that the Navy pursue a cloud solution — a strategy similar to those adopted by Google, the Intelligence Community, and other large organizations grappling with big data's challenges and opportunities.

Key Findings

  • The Navy Faces Barriers to Making Sense of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Data Being Collected
  • Challenges to the timely consumption of data include slow download times, shared communications pipelines, and large chunks of untagged raw data.
  • Challenges to the accurate integration of data include stovepiped databases and networks, and cluttered analyst workstations.
  • Dynamically Managing Analyst Workloads May Improve Analyst Productivity, but Only to a Certain Extent
  • Today's tasking arrangements are, in the main, fixed and geographically based. Intelligence specialists in one location can become quickly overwhelmed with tasks.
  • Tasking models in which tasks are automatically shared based on who is available to accept new tasking outperform today's model in terms of analyst productivity, but only in the short term.
  • A Solution to the Navy's "Big Data" Challenge Must Involve Changes Across Four Dimensions: People, Tools and Technology, Data and Data Architectures, and Demand and Demand Management
  • One potential solution involves adding more applications to analyst workstations, with the goal of helping analysts take advantage of the increased variety of data afforded by the proliferation of data types and databases.
  • A second potential solution involves the physical consolidation of applications and their corresponding data and databases, with the goal of enabling a high level of interoperability.
  • A third potential solution involves the virtual consolidation of databases, applications, widgets, services, and other elements into a cloud architecture, with the goal of limiting the transmission of raw data and of implementing a data strategy that includes the use of metadata.

The Navy should pursue the third solution — a cloud strategy similar to those adopted by Google, the Intelligence Community, and other large organizations grappling with big data's challenges and opportunities. Specifically, the Navy should adopt the Intelligence Community's cloud approach, designing its next generation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tools and systems to work with the National Security Agency's distributed cloud concept.

How Do We Deal with a Flood of Data?

Line handlers await the arrival of the Virginia class attack submarine USS Hartfordphoto by MC2 Peter D. Blair/U.S. Navy
by Isaac R. Porche III, Bradley Wilson, Erin-Elizabeth Johnson

U.S. Navy intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) functions have become critical to national security over the past two decades. Within the Navy, there is a growing demand for ISR data from drones and other sources that provide situational awareness, which helps Navy vessels avoid collisions, pinpoint targets, and perform a host of other mission-critical tasks.

Despite the battle-tested value of ISR systems, however, the large amount of data they generate has become overwhelming to Navy analysts. As the Intelligence Science Board wrote in 2008, referring to the entire Department of Defense, “the number of images and signal intercepts are well beyond the capacity of the existing analyst community, so there are huge backlogs for translators and image interpreters, and much of the collected data are never reviewed.” In the coming years, as the Navy acquires and fields new sensors for collecting data, this “big data challenge” will continue to grow. Indeed, if the Navy continues to field sensors as planned but does not change the way it processes, exploits, and disseminates information, it will reach an ISR “tipping point”—the moment at which intelligence analysts are no longer able to complete a minimum number of exploitation tasks within given time constraints—as soon as 2016.

How Big Is Big?
To understand how big “big data” is, think about the volume of information contained in the Library of Congress, the world's largest library. All of the information in the Library of Congress could be digitized into 200 terabytes, or 200 trillion bytes. Now consider the fact that the Navy currently collects the equivalent of a Library of Congress' worth of data almost every other day.

Technically, the amount of data that can be stored by traditional databases is unlimited. The more data being collected and shared, however, the more difficult mining, fusing, and effectively using the data in a timely manner becomes. In the Navy, where analysts use data to create information that informs decision making, this challenge is particularly troublesome. All data and information collected by the Navy is potentially useful, but processing this information and deriving useful knowledge from it is severely taxing the analytical capabilities of the Navy's personnel and networks. As the Navy acquires and fields new sensors for collecting data, this difficulty will grow.

Drones are cheap, soldiers are not: a cost-benefit analysis of war

26 June 2014

Wayne McLean does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Cost is largely absent in the key debates around the use of unmanned drones in war, even though drones are a cost-effective way of achieving national security objectives.

Many of the common objections to drones, such as their ambiguous place in humanitarian law, become second-tier issues when the cost benefits are laid out. For strategic military planners, cost efficiencies mean that economic outputs can be more effectively translated into hard military power. This means that good intentions concerned with restricting the use of drones are likely to remain secondary.

This pattern of cost-trumping-all has historical precedents. The cheap English longbow rendered the expensive (but “honourable”) horse-and-knight combination redundant in the 14th century. Later, the simple and cost-effective design of the machine gun changed centuries of European military doctrine in just a few years.

Drones are cheap

These basic principals are visible in the emergence of drones. For example, according to the American Security Project, unclassified reports show that the MQ-9 Reaper drone used for attacks in Pakistan has a single unit cost of US$6.48 million and an operational cost of close to US$3 million.

This latter figure is deceptive, however, as a full drone “system” requires a larger infrastructure to operate. Therefore, a typical reaper drone in a group of four on an active mission requires two active pilots, a ground station, and a secured data link. However, even with this significant infrastructure requirement the end cost is US$3250 per hour of flight time.

In contrast, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – which the Australian government recently announced it will buy 58 more of – costs nearly US$91 million per unit, almost US$5 million per year to operate and $16,500 per hour of flight.

While drones will never completely replace soldiers, this debate is becoming less important in the current strategic climate. The operating environments where drones are deployed – countries such as Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen – do not emphasise “hearts and minds” strategies where the human element has traditionally been valued as a force multiplier.

Recommendation: Hail to the Deep

A Strategy for Submarines

We don’t generally post articles from other blogs or news sources here onThe Bridge, but the recent editorial in the National Interest by James Holmes (a Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College and coauthor of Red Star over the Pacific) felt like a great addition to our recent Personal Theories of Power series.

While we had two great posts on sea power, neither dug into the undersea realm…Dr. Holmes does it for us. Here’s a quick excerpt:
  • Submarines, then, offer potent capabilities both during and after the fight for sea control. When fitted with systems enabling them to project force onto land, they become truly maritime platforms. “Naval,” explains Corbett, is a subset of “maritime.” Why? Because “men live upon the land and not upon the sea.” Land is where great matters are decided. Accordingly, maritime strategy is the art of determining “the mutual relations of your army and navy in a plan of war.” It’s about dominating the land-sea interface, the natural preserve of sea power.
  • So maritime strategy isn’t all about navies. To be sure, winning, denying and exploiting command are about stifling enemy commerce and naval operations. But these functions also open avenues into coastal zones through which joint land/sea forces can shape terrestrial events. No longer can navies be partitioned cleanly into a battle fleet, a swarm of cruisers and the flotilla. SSKs fit most closely into the flotilla, SSNs into the battle fleet. But submarines defy easy classification. Their capabilities span all three domains while adding missions of which previous sea-power theorists could never have dreamed.
  • All this only adds to the need for commanders to use sea-power theory to unlock the full potential of structureless fleets—including their silent services. Imagine what a Lucky Fluckey versed in sea-power theory could accomplish today.

I recommend you go read the rest here.


July 1, 2014 

If you read War on the Rocks regularly, you are aware that history has returned and that geopolitics are central to world events. A dozen years of war and two trillion dollars invested in trying to shape another people’s social system has distracted us, but now we need to become normal again. By normal I mean thinkingand acting strategically. Thinking strategically also means deciding about priorities and making tradeoffs, a competence that former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen suggested we lost a while ago when resources were seemingly limitless.

This call for true strategy is just in time. America’s so-called “Unipolar Moment” has quickly passed. Our uncontested preponderance was not a permanent condition. Geopolitical history suggests that multi-polarity is far more common. Some suggest we live in a Post-Pax Americana contextdescribed as “nonpolar” or “apolar.” Others suggest we prepare for aPost-American World, one in which American decline, absolute or relative, is inevitable.

I very much doubt that we will live a world ruled by China as Martin Jacques suggests, but we will live in a world in which our international system–a rule-based order that has benefited us and the global community–is contested by an alternative system with a different political format, a different set of values, and a different economic model. It remains to be seen how this emerging bi-polar contest plays out.

For those of you up on your Thucydides, the Melian Dialogue is being replayed in Mandarin in the South China Sea today—“the mighty do what they can and the small suffer what they must.” This crude realpolitikcoming out of Beijing is well understood in Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines.

American strategic thinking needs to adapt to the changes in the security environment, particularly China’s emergent power. Some folks do not think we need a strategy, while others bemoan the silent death of American strategy entirely. We have amply demonstrated over the last decade that our strategic thinking and implementation machinery are rusty and that we lack the cognitive discipline to sort out priorities, preferring to do everything and simply outspend our rivals.

Explained: Why We Must Negotiate With Terrorists

July 1, 2014 

The prisoner swap that brought Bowe Bergdahl home gave rise to an intense debate about the legitimacy and prudence of negotiating with terrorists. Those objecting to such deals have two worries: first, that negotiating with groups like the Taliban or Al Qaeda provides them with incentives to continue snatching soldiers; second, that the released operatives would go back to their old ways. Once out, they might devise new ways of harming us. 

The Israelis have been engaged in a similar debate - most recently after the release of 1027 Palestinian prisoners in return for Gilad Shavit, an Armored Corps soldier abducted by Hamas in 2006, and held in Gaza for more than five years. The worry there, too, was that the exchange would encourage further acts of terror and that the militants released would return to their dangerous activities. In the past few weeks those raising such concerns have been vindicated by events: three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas operatives who hoped to bargain for the return of their bodies. Around the same time it emerged that one of the Hamas prisoners released in the Shalit deal was involved in the recent murder of an Israeli Police Colonel.

Clearly, then, critics such as Ambassador John Bolton and Senator Marco Rubio, who raised these kinds of worries about the Bergdahl deal, have a point. But these skeptics are, ultimately, off the mark. Negotiating with terrorists does spur them on. And some of the militants we release will reoffend. And yet there is no choice but to conduct such negotiations.

Since the end of World War II, most conflicts involving western powers have been asymmetrical. They involve a modern, well-trained and well-equipped army, with an orderly chain of command on one side and, on the other, loosely affiliated paramilitary groups who do not wear uniforms, do not train or reside in clearly identifiable military bases, and do not answer to anything like a chain of command. To use a cinematic illustration, contemporary war looks far more like the Battle of Algiers than like Saving Private Ryan. There is a vast difference in conventional power and wealth between such fighting sides. The Taliban and Hamas cannot fight in the same way regular armies fight because they would not stand a chance if they did. Rather, such organizations tend to adopt two strategies: striking from behind civilian cover and selecting “soft” targets – noncombatants, off duty soldiers and so on. From Algiers to Bagdad to Tel Aviv, we have seen, in the past few decades, obscene and gruesome attacks on buses, clubs, travel agencies and schools. While morally repugnant, such attacks are not going anywhere because they are both tactically and strategically essential to those perpetrating them.


July 1, 2014 · by Fortuna's Corner


Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners – News from the Associate Director, Security Studies Program

Dave Maxwell:

This is quite an assessment of the situation. I would be interested in hearing from those who know more about Iraq as I do not know enough to judge the veracity of this. Seems to me that they are practicing some very sophisticated unconventional warfare techniques but have advanced to develop a maneuver warfare capability (or the 3d stage of Mao’s protracted war theory) something that Al Qaeda has never appeared to be able to do (or perhaps has not yet wanted to do).

How 2 Shadowy ISIS Commanders Designed Their Iraq Campaign

Mideast Syria Rebel Attrition

This undated image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marching in Raqqa, Syria.


Read more here:http://www.mcclatchydc.com/ 2014/06/30/231952/how-2- shadowy-isis-commanders.html# storylink=cpy


McClatchy Foreign StaffJune 30, 2014 Updated 14 minutes ago

Read more here:http://www.mcclatchydc.com/ 2014/06/30/231952/how-2- shadowy-isis-commanders.html# storylink=cpy


IRBIL, IRAQ – The attack in Mosul wasn’t particularly surprising, according to Wameed, an Iraqi soldier who’d been assigned to the city’s main highway that night. It began June 9 with suicide bombers in cars and machine gun fire directed at checkpoints leading to the main thoroughfares of Iraq’s second largest city.

“Daash,” he said, using the derogatory Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, “and before that al Qaida had always had a strong presence in Mosul and attacked checkpoints, or set bombs to hit patrols. They’d done these sorts of operations many times before, and we’d seen them do them in Samarra a month before and even in Abu Ghraib and Taji,” cities closer to Baghdad,

“Our commanders told us to stay in place and fight them off, that they were just trying for the prison or to make a big noise for the press,” he said.

The next day, however, the attacks continued, and Wameed and his fellow soldiers knew the commanders’ assessment had been wrong.

“All checkpoints were being attacked from all sides, and not just from Daash,” he said. “Then our commanders turned off their mobile phones. We knew this was big. . . . There were just 20 of us on the highway. What could we do alone? We ran.”

In the following days as much as half the Iraqi army drew the same conclusion and effectively disbanded; by some accounts less than half of the army remains combat effective. Despite its 10 to 1 numerical advantage, the army fled. Wameed, who asked not to be identified further for fear of prosecution, found refuge in the autonomous Kurdish zone, where he was interviewed recently outside Irbil.

Viewpoints: New coal plant rules need sustained support to succeed

By Robert J. Lempert and Steven W. Popper
Special to The Bee
Published: Saturday, Jun. 28, 2014

A key attribute of climate change policy is the large gap between practical near-term steps and the scale of action needed to address the challenge. How can we tell if current efforts towards eliminating greenhouse gas emissionswill prove sustainable over the long-term?

The new proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules aimed at reducing emissions from existing coal plants represent one of the most significant federal actions on climate change to date. If successful, these rules will help the United States meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

That is a worthy goal, but stopping climate change will require the United States and the rest of the world to virtually eliminate emissions over the course of the 21st century. Getting anywhere close to zero emissions demands sustained political and public support, driven by an energy production sector given enough incentives to make carbon reduction succeed.

Political scientists speak of policy sustainability. Imagine a policy put into place with great effort at a time of significant public attention. Once the hoopla dies down, the hard work of implementation begins. Some policies succeed over time, but others wilt. Those that succeed have several important characteristics; in particular, they create constituencies that favor their continuation.

Airlines vigorously opposed deregulation in the late 1970s, but once they had invested in the new hub-and-spoke system incentivized by the new rules, they became advocates for keeping those rules in place. In contrast, efforts at reforming the tax code have had only temporary effects. Once public attention waned, there was no countervailing group with a similar stake to prevent special interests from whittling away at reforms.

Thus, an important criterion for the new EPA plan is the extent to which it promotes significant constituencies that support its continuation and acceleration. Recent RAND work has looked at the political sustainability of greenhouse gas emissions policies. It finds that policies that reward firms based on market share create incentives to invest in carbon-reducing technology, generate a commercial interest in continued reductions and thus enhance the sustainability of carbon-reducing policies.

New Coal Plant Rules Need Sustained Support to Succeed

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy announces steps under the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from power plants during a news conference on June 2, 2014COMMENTARY(The Sacramento Bee)June 30, 2014

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy announces steps under the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from power plants during a news conference on June 2, 2014photo by Reuters/Joshua Roberts

by Robert J. Lempert and Steven W. Popper

A key attribute of climate change policy is the large gap between practical near-term steps and the scale of action needed to address the challenge. How can we tell if current efforts towards eliminating greenhouse gas emissions will prove sustainable over the long-term?

The new proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules aimed at reducing emissions from existing coal plants represent one of the most significant federal actions on climate change to date. If successful, these rules will help the United States meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

That is a worthy goal, but stopping climate change will require the United States and the rest of the world to virtually eliminate emissions over the course of the 21st century. Getting anywhere close to zero emissions demands sustained political and public support, driven by an energy production sector given enough incentives to make carbon reduction succeed.

The remainder of this commentary is available on sacbee.com.

Robert Lempert is a senior scientist at the RAND Corporation and director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition. Steven W. Popper is a RAND senior economist and professor of science and technology policy at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

This commentary appeared in The Sacramento Bee on June 28, 2014

2 July 2014

India among jihad targets of ISIS

Praveen Swami
Published: July 2, 2014

In Ramzan message, ISIS chief al-Badri calls on followers worldwide to wage jihad

Ibrahim Awwad al-Badri, commander of the insurgent group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), has vowed war against several countries, including India, in a Ramzan speech released online late on Tuesday.

The reference to India, the first in an ISIS manifesto, raises new concerns for the safety of the almost hundreds of its nationals trapped in Iraqi cities controlled by the Islamist group, which is battling the governments of Iraq and Syria.

The Ramzan speech by Mr al-Badri — also known by the pseudonym Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — calls on believers to take up arms during the month of penitence, and “terrify the enemies of Allah and seek death in the places where you expect to find it, for the dunya (worldly life) will come to an end”.

“Muslims’ rights”, Mr. al-Badri states in his speech, “are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Sham (the Levant), Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Ahvaz, Iran (by the rafidah (shia)), Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, in the East and in the West” [all text as in original released by ISIS].

“Prisoners are moaning and crying for help”, Mr. al-Badri continues. “Orphans and widows are complaining of their plight. Women who have lost their children are weeping. Masajid (plural of masjid) are desecrated and sanctities are violated”.

Thus, he says, “the ummah of Islam is watching your jihad with eyes of hope, and indeed you have brothers in many parts of the world being inflicted with the worst kinds of torture”.

Mr. al-Badri’s speech, released online in English, Russian, French, Albanian and Russian, apart from Arabic, appeared part of a campaign to reach out to violent Islamists worldwide.

Earlier this week, ISIS had declared Mr. Badri the amir al-mumineen, or commander of the faithful, and declared him the leader of the Islamic caliphate it seeks to create.

Printable version  http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/india-among-jihad-targets-of-isis/article6167595.ece