14 July 2014

Ukrainian Warplanes Launch Dozens of Airstrikes on Separatist Postions in the Eastern Ukraine

July 12, 2014

Reuters

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian war planes bombarded separatists along a broad front on Saturday, inflicting huge losses, Kiev said, after President Petro Poroshenko said “scores and hundreds” would be made to pay for a deadly missile attack on Ukrainian forces.

In exchanges marking a sharp escalation in the three-month conflict, jets struck at the “epicentre” of the battle against rebels near the border with Russia, a military spokesman said.

The planes targeted positions from where separatists, using high-powered Grad missiles, bombarded an army motorised brigade on Friday, killing 23 servicemen.

Warplanes also struck at targets near Donetsk, the east’s main town where rebels have dug in, destroying a powerful fighter base near Dzerzhinsk, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the “anti-terrorist operation” said.

"According to preliminary assessment, Ukrainian pilots … killed about 500 (rebel) fighters and damaged two armoured transporters," Lysenko told journalists.

In an earlier air attack on a base near Perevalsk, north of Donetsk, two tanks, 10 armoured vehicles and “about 500” rebel fighters were destroyed, he said.

Rebel representatives, quoted by Russian news agencies, denied they suffered big losses and said the Ukrainians were using outdated intelligence on where separatist forces were deployed.

"There were no volunteers (rebels) where the Ukrainian aviation was active yesterday," said a spokeswoman for the Luhansk-based separatists, referring to the Peravalsk attack.

Earlier, the border guard service said jet fighters were scrambled to strike at the pro-Russian separatists after they resumed missile attacks on government forces deployed near the frontier with Russia, south-east of the city of Luhansk.

In the military action, which began on Friday evening and continued well into Saturday, five Ukrainian servicemen were killed, Lysenko said. There were 16 overflights by Ukrainian fighter jets in all, he said.

The surge in violence on Ukraine’s border with Russia, south east of Luhansk which is controlled by separatists, sparked fresh Ukrainian accusations against Russia of involvement in the border fighting.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry demanded Russia stop supporting armed groups in its eastern region, and end “provocations” on the border.

Ukrainian Separatists Resume Missile Attacks; Ukrainian Air Force Scrambles Warplanes

Reuters
July 12, 2014

Ukraine Scrambles Fighter Jets Above Rebel Positions as Missile Attack Resumes

KIEV — Ukraine scrambled jet fighters to strike at rebel positions early on Saturday, after separatists resumed missile attacks on government forces near the frontier with Russia, the border guard service said.

In a night of violence in several areas of eastern Ukraine following a missile strike by separatists on Friday that killed at least 23 government servicemen, Ukrainian forces also used artillery to respond to rebel fire, the military said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had pledged to “find and destroy” the pro-Russian rebels responsible for the missile attack at Zelenopillya, which also wounded nearly 100.

At least two more Ukrainian soldiers were killed and about 20 injured on Saturday in a mortar and missile bombardment by the rebels of army checkpoints at Dyakove and Nyzhnoderevechka near Luhansk, the government’s “anti-terrorist” operation said.

Luhansk, like the main industrial city of Donetsk, is controlled by pro-Russian separatists who set up ‘people’s republics’ in Russian-speaking areas and declared a wish to join Russia in response to a pro-Western revolt in the capital Kiev.

Rebel fighters meanwhile said that Ukrainian fighter planes had carried out air strikes on Saturday in the eastern town of Horlivka.

"There were a series of powerful explosions. Details are being clarified," a separatist representative, Konstantin Knyrik, was quoted as saying by Russia’s interfax news agency.

The Grad missile strike on Friday on a motorized brigade at Zelenopillya was one of the deadliest against government forces in three months of fighting since the separatist rebellions erupted following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Poroshenko, whose forces had recently seemed to be prevailing over the rebels, said they would pay for the strike in their “scores and hundreds”.

The border guard service in a statement said army and border guard units had again come under missile attack in several areas near the border just after midnight.

"The Ukrainian armed forces returned artillery fire. On the defense minister’s order, fighter jets went up to patrol Ukraine’s air space and be ready to deflect further possible attacks," it said.

NEW SENSE OF URGENCY

Friday’s military setback at Zelenopillya took the gloss off the government’s recapture of the rebel stronghold of Slaviansk last weekend, and seemed likely to add a new sense of urgency to diplomatic attempts to end the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Ukrainian Military Offensive to Recapture City of Donetsk Is Coming

Hal Foster and Tatyana Gorychova
USA Today
July 12, 2014

Ukraine’s next battle is Donetsk, but no bombs, please

BERDYANSK, Ukraine — The decisive campaign in Ukraine’s separatist rebellion — the battle for Donetsk — is imminent, and the looming question is how much damage the jewel of the country’s economy will suffer.

Fearing that the faceoff between 30,000 Ukrainian military troops and about 10,000 pro-Russian separatists will destroy much of the city of 1 million people, tens of thousands of residents have fled Donetsk.

The Ukrainian military used different strategies to recapture two other key cities in the eastern provinces of the country.

One was a small-arms attack on the separatist headquarters in Mariupol in early June, inflicting little structural damage on the port city of 480,000. The other strategy was a weeks-long artillery assault on Slovyansk in June and July that damaged about 60% of the infrastructure in the city of 110,000.

Afraid that the military will use the artillery approach, billionaire Donetsk industrialist Rinat Akhmetov went on television July 6, the day after the separatists fled Slovyansk, to plead: “Donbass (the Donetsk and Lugansk regions) must not be bombed. Cities, towns and infrastructure must not be destroyed.”

President Petro Poroshenko’s administration is well aware that Donetsk contributes more to the Ukrainian economy than any city in the country. It is a bastion of heavy industry that includes shipyards, coal and iron mines and steelmaking and other metals works, much of which Akhmetov owns.

The president recently pledged to use restraint in the Donetsk campaign, but the military must balance the structural damage it would inflict from air and artillery strikes against prospects for higher casualties from relying mostly on small arms.

One thing’s for certain: The government wants to retake Donetsk in the worst way.

The city’s capture would probably break the back of the separatist movement, although the military would still have to take Lugansk, the rebels’ secondary stronghold, which has a population of 426,000.

Another reason the military is itching to fight in Donetsk is personal: to even the score with Igor Strelkov, the Russian national who has headed the separatists’ combat effort.

Strelkov — a former Russian intelligence officer named Igor Girkin, according to Ukraine and the West — led the rebel campaign in Slovyansk.

He has been high-profile, appearing on Russian and separatist television networks and on Internet videos and writing a provocative daily blog about the conflict. Even the pseudonym he chose — Strelkov, meaning “shooter” — was calculated to portray him as a swashbuckler.

The defiant tone taken by Strelkov against the government in Kiev and the military has made him a hated figure in Ukraine’s non-separatist world.

When government forces prevailed in Slovyansk a week ago, he and the 1,000 rebels he led retreated to Donetsk, which they vowed to hold. They began setting up defensive positions the moment they arrived.

Donetsk will be “much easier to defend than little Slovyansk,” Strelkov said.

He has said in recent days that he needs about 8,000 more combatants to mount an effective defense of the city.

Kiev-based military expert Dmitry Tymchuk said he thinks the government will use the Mariupol strategy, seeking to do less damage in the Donetsk campaign.

British Combatants of a Different Religious War


JULY 10, 2014 


The memorial to the victims of the London terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005.CreditPhilip Toscano/Press Association, via Associated Press

LONDON — It was nine years ago on July 7, 2005, that four suicide bombers killed 52 people on the London transit system during the morning rush hour, introducing Britons to a kind of terrorism that Americans had confronted on Sept. 11, 2001.

This week, the memory conjured grief and defiance in uneven measures: In Hyde Park, just hours before survivors gathered on Monday to recall the bloodshed, the steel pillars that form a monument to the dead were defaced with stenciled slogans redolent of that era: Blair Lied, Thousands Died; 4 Innocent Muslims.

Britons probably did not need what one survivor called this “immature act” to grasp that Islamic militancy has not gone away, and may indeed have intensified, its focus widened to the highways and deserts and battered cities of Iraq and Syria, drawing ever more young Britons to the black banner of far-flung jihad.

The police in the northern city of Manchester, for instance, said that twin 16-year-old girls of Somali descent who disappeared in June were probably en route to join a brother fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — the fierce militants who have spilled from Syria into Iraq and declared an Islamic state.

That disclosure came after intense news coverage of a group of young British Muslims — three from Cardiff, Wales, and one from Aberdeen, Scotland — said to have traveled to Syria to join militants who now include an estimated 500 British Muslims.

In court this week, two women from London denied a charge that they had tried to help finance terrorism. One of them, the prosecution said, had been found carrying 20,000 euros, or $27,000, in high-denomination bank notes in her underwear when she tried to board a plane to Turkey — the conduit to Syria — in January.

Time has woven the July 7 bombings into the national memory, dulling the shock that flowed from the realization that the assailants were not citizens from some exotic, distant society, but, mostly, British-born Muslims who had grown up in a land that prided itself on tolerance and inclusion.

Since the so-called Arab Spring, however, a new militancy has arisen, beckoning young Muslims in Britain and many other parts of the West to join its ranks. It has become axiomatic to conclude that some of them will return to wreak havoc in their own lands.

Indeed, in an online posting showing what appeared to be homemade bombs, one Briton in Syria, Nasser Muthana, 20, declared: “So the U.K. is afraid I come back with the skills I have learned.”

There is, however, a counternarrative, evoking the fine balance between national security and civil liberties, and to the ever-more strident calls for tighter security laws such as those introduced in recent days by France and the United States. On Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to enforce stricter electronic surveillance laws.

*** 15 Things the Next War Will Tell Us About America


What will tomorrow's wars be like, and is the United States prepared to win them? PM canvassed experts to glimpse military trends to find answers.

By Joe Pappalardo

More than 1000 US and Philippine Navy participate during a mock beach assault as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training.

The next war will expose our gaps.

There is no doubt that the U.S. military is the best equipped and trained and most experienced force on the planet. Pundits like to point out that it’s better funded than any 10 other nations combined. But just because a nation spends more money than its adversaries doesn’t mean it will win a war, especially far from home. 

As the U.S. cuts defense spending, other nations like China and Russia have increased theirs. Their focus is on areas such as air defense and ship-killing missiles—the exact places where they can blunt America’s ability to project power. That’s why, despite a half-trillion dollars in spending, the United States military might face gaps in its capabilities during the next war. 

"The United States has relied on a Department of Defense that has had technological superiority for the better part of the post–World War II era," says Lan Shaffer, principal deputy for the assistant secretary of defense for defense research and engineering. "[That] technological superiority is now being challenged." The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, a review of Department of Defense strategy, acknowledges that a leaner U.S. military will see some of its advantages eroded. Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in the document: "Our loss of depth across the force could reduce our ability to intimidate opponents from escalating conflict . . . Nearly any future conflict will occur on a much faster pace and on a more technically challenging battlefield." 

Some gaps are already appearing. Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told Congress this year that he does not have enough landing craft to conduct amphibious operations. The Marine Corps will shrink to 175,000 if the law that mandates 2016 sequestration is kept in place. If not, that number will dip to 182,000, a loss of 8,000 Marines. The Army is shrinking its active-duty members by about 22 percent, shedding 125,000 soldiers. Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told Congress that, by 2016, he "doubts that we could even execute one prolonged, multiphase operation that is extended over a period of time." 

U.S. Navy Discovers That Sailors Need Sleep


Undermanned and overworked crews can’t keep Littoral Combat Ships running

Did you ever work a job that required two people, but your stingy employer insisted that one was enough? Then you understand the problem with the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship.

One of the LCS’s supposed advantages is its much smaller crew compared to other vessels. Where a Navy frigate might have 200 sailors, the frigate-size LCS has just 40—although, to be fair, two different 40-person crews take turns running the ship.

LCS is a jack-of-all-trades warship that can carry different modules for various missions—anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare or mine-hunting.

The idea was that automation would enable fewer sailors to operate the $400-million LCS for all these missions. This saves on manpower costs as well as on precious shipboard space for crew accommodations.

But a new Government Accountability Office report proves what any Burger King worker already knows—cutting your workforce by 80 percentwithout also decreasing its workload … isn’t always a great idea.

When the GAO studied USS Freedom’s recent 10-month deployment to Singapore, the auditors found that crews worked too hard. “Freedom crews averaged about six hours of sleep per day compared to the Navy standard of eight hours,” the GAO stated.

“Some key departments, such as engineering and operations, averaged even fewer.”

And this happened despite the Navy temporarily adding 10 extra sailors to the crew and sending contractors aboard.

Missing sleep isn’t exactly a new problem for Navy sailors. But the sailing branch has workload standards for a reason. “Crew members told us that their sleep hours decreased significantly during major equipment casualties, particularly those affecting the ship’s diesel generators and other engineering systems,” the GAO explained.

USS Independence. Photo via Wikipedia

Warships naturally have to periodically return to port for replenishment and repair. But with its small crew and limited on-board maintenance capability, the LCS is particularly dependent on shore-based support. If something needs to be fixed, the LCS either returns to port or maintenance teams—supplied by private defense contractors—fly out to the ship.

U.S. Intelligence Community’s Chief of Counterintelligence Says Chinese Hackers Getting Smarter and Faster

J.J. Green
July 12, 2014

NCIX says Chinese hackers ‘getting faster and smarter’

WASHINGTON — “The average computer, fresh out of its packaging, can become infected within minutes of being plugged in. It can take longer to download software that protects a computer system than for a hacker to gain entry,” the National Security Agency says.

Millions of times a day, hackers linked to the Chinese and Russian governments and cyber criminals infiltrate U.S. government and business networks. And the new National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX) says it’s getting worse with each passing day.

"With the exponential increase in cyber capabilities, electronics and tradecraft, they’re getting faster and smarter about how they seek to steal our information, and we need to be faster and smarter about how we defend it," William Evanina said in an exclusive interview.

Evanina, a career FBI special agent who most recently served as the chief of CIA’s Counterespionage Group, became the NCIX on June 12.

Chinese hackers, he said, “are more active than they’ve ever been and they’re after whatever they can get.” Recent evidence shows they’ve targeted everything from blueprints for jet fighters to formulas for making windows.

"They want to be an economic world power, so anything that has to do with their economy, they will steal — from factory information, to bio-products, to manufacturing products to thermal engineering. Recently there was a case from Pittsburgh Corning Glass where they tried to steal (information on) thermal insulation in the windows," said Evanina.

In February, “Department of Defense networks were scanned, probed, spearfished and attacked with malware 41 million times,” said Joint Chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey during the retirement of former NSA director Keith Alexander in late-March. Each one of those attacks was repelled.

But just days earlier, in mid-March, the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center “became aware of a potential intrusion of the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) network,” a DHS official told WTOP Thursday.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told WTOP, “We had the systems in place to detect the intrusion, we notified agencies with a range of capabilities to assess exactly what occurred and devised an immediate action plan to further secure the network with both short and long-term solutions.”

The hackers allegedly were after the records of employees applying for high-level security clearances. The number is estimated in the tens of thousands. The DHS official said, “At this time, neither OPM nor the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team have identified any loss of personally identifiable information.”

But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told WTOP the prognosis for the future is ominous, unless something changes.

@ISIS Is #Winning

JULY 9, 2014

Why is a barbaric medieval caliphate so much better at social media than Washington?

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is running a brilliantly effective social media campaign. With the group rebranded as the Islamic State (IS), its grisly messaging gets attention and discourages resistance to its military operations, both where it is fighting and among countries that might be inclined to intervene against it. After it took Mosul, IS streamed video of its men executing dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers -- which very likely helped encourage the choice of Iraqi security forces to quietly desert their posts. IS live-tweeted its military advance through Iraq, showcasing the bravery of its fighters and what little resistance Iraqi security forces offered. It threatened decapitations in London's Trafalgar Square. And as the United States was busy playing its World Cup round-of-sixteen game, IS tweeted a picture of a decapitated head with the caption that it was the Islamic State's ball.

The Islamic State is not making the same mistake that its al Qaeda predecessor did: choosing the "far enemy" instead of the "near enemy" of Middle Eastern governments. The radical Islamists now rampaging through Iraq are fighting on both fronts, taunting us for our indecision and unwillingness to fight them while gaining ground where conditions favor them in Syria and Iraq. They surely overestimate their strength should we choose to engage the battle, but their shrewd use of modern communications is helping prevent that from happening. The Islamist radical group's ability to craft sensational messages that support the objectives of its military campaign is superb: The Islamists' barbarity discourages enemies from being willing to fight them and reinforces the hesitance of Western publics to get involved in another Middle Eastern war. Sun Tzu would give them a standing ovation.

By contrast, the U.S. government's efforts at hashtag diplomacy are pathetic. Just take first lady Michelle Obama's maudlin-looking pictureof her holding a handwritten sign reading "#BringBackOurGirls" -- a public appeal for someone, anyone, to do something to effect the release of the Nigerian students kidnapped by Boko Haram. As if she didn't sleep at night with the person who has the greatest ability of anyone in the world to free these captive girls. But once the picture fluttered out into the world, the first lady returned to other pursuits.

Offerings by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki have been particularly cringe-inducing, the worst being a smiling picture of her giving a thumbs-up with a sign reading, "#UnitedForUkraine," part of atweet encouraging Russia to "live by the promise of hashtag." The effort was widely ridiculed, both by the Russian government and by Americans, and surely was dispiriting to the Ukrainians whom U.S. diplomacy is supposed to be supporting.

The Duffel Blog satirized the Obama administration's ineffectualness with an article highlighting "7 Hashtags The White House Used To Solve Major World Problems." It concludes with a picture of Secretary of State John Kerry looking forlorn with the hashtag #BringBackOurForeignPolicy (which includes a funny, gratuitous slap atForeign Policy's paywall).

Deep in Thought: Chinese Targeting of National Security Think Tanks

Dmitri Alperovitch, Co-Founder & CTO
Jul 7, 2014
Source Link

For some time now, Crowd Strike has been working with a number of national security think tanks and human rights organizations on a pro bono basis to help them with their security posture. These organizations face some of the most advanced nation-state adversaries -- China, Russia, and Iran, just to name a few. The individuals who are typically targeted at these institutions tend to be former senior government officials who still have lots of contacts within Western governments and, as such, their private correspondence is of extreme interest to these attackers. The intelligence services of these nation states are always on the lookout for any clues they may extract from such private communications that may give them an advanced insight into what options government policy makers are considering on particular issues of interest. At the same time, with access to the victim email mailboxes, the adversaries can craft very realistic spear-phishing lures to the government contacts of targeted think tank personnel by piggybacking on ongoing real conversations and increasing their chances of a successful compromise of an official government email account.

Despite this high threat level, these think tanks are organized as non-profits and often do not have the budgets of commercial organizations to afford cutting-edge security technologies that can help them effectively detect these threats. For this reason, Crowd Strike has provided our Falcon Host endpoint security technology to many of these organizations at no charge to them to help detect and attribute these attackers on their networks in real time, as well as to receive instantaneous full forensic visibility into their behavior to help with full remediation of any incident.

Recently, Falcon Host has detected multiple simultaneous compromises at several national security think tanks from an actor we call DEEP PANDA, one of the most advanced Chinese nation-state cyber intrusion groups. For almost three years now, CrowdStrike has monitored DEEP PANDA targeting critical and strategic business verticals including: government, defense, financial, legal, and the telecommunications industries. At the think tanks, Falcon Host detected targeting of senior individuals involved in geopolitical policy issues, in particular in the China/Asia Pacific region. However, last week the unprecedented real-time visibility provided by Falcon Host into this actor’s escapades allowed analysts to observe a radical change in targeting.

This actor, who was engaged in targeting and collection of Southeast Asia policy information, suddenly began targeting individuals with a tie to Iraq/Middle East issues. This is undoubtedly related to the recent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) takeover of major parts of Iraq and the potential disruption for major Chinese oil interests in that country. In fact, Iraq happens to be the fifth-largest source of crude oil imports for China and the country is the largest foreign investor in Iraq’s oil sector. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chinese government is highly interested in getting a better sense of the possibility of deeper U.S. military involvement that could help protect the Chinese oil infrastructure in Iraq. In fact, the shift in targeting of Iraq policy individuals occurred on June 18, the day that ISIS began its attack on the Baiji oil refinery.

The Attacks

CrowdStrike’s Falcon Host technology used by these think tanks consists of a tiny (under 5mb in size) kernel sensor that is deployed on Windows and Mac servers, desktops, and laptops and is able to do real-time detection and recording of all adversary activities taking place on the system. In addition, by matching the detected activities against our vast Adversary Intelligence repository, Falcon Host can automatically attribute the attack to a known adversary group and provide details about their motivations, capabilities, and key Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs).

Mitchell Test for Cyber


U.S. NAVY SHIPS MOVING TO WATCH BILLY MITCHELL'S PROJECT B BOMBING DEMONSTRATION. IMAGE COURTESY OF U.S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

FRIDAY'S LAST WORD - PULL PIN, THROW GRENADE, RUN AWAY: A PROVOCATIVE THOUGHT TO KICK OFF THE WEEKEND...
BY MAJOR MATT CAVANAUGH

I'm a little tired of the back-and-forth between cyber "experts" (an overused superlative when one considers how early it is into this domain's usefulness in security affairs), particularly the deliberately provocative expressions about a potential "cyber Pearl Harbor." In my mind, Richard Clarke's 2012 book adequately represents the hype about the threat, while Thomas Rid's 2013 book might be read as a response or a bucket of cold water to the keyboard. Why doesn't the cyber community put up or shut up? Frankly, Stuxnet was not enough for proof of concept. Show us the money - especially with respect to cyber's ability to create physicaldestruction in a useful or meaningful way. Or, as I'd put it: pass the "Mitchell Test."

During the dawn of military aviation, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell of the U.S. Army Air Corps was instrumental in setting up testing to ascertain whether airplanes could make for cost effective coastal defense tools; could they sink a naval ship? So in February 1921, a series of joint Army-Navy exercises known as "Project B" were established using surplus or captured (German) ships as targets. Though the conditions were hotly debated, in the end the German ship Ostfriesland sank - providing Mitchell a very strong data point suggesting the utility of airpower.

What's interesting is the impact that a single success can have in driving development. There's actually a related case I just happened to be reading about on a long flight in Bill Bryson's recent book, One Summer: America 1927 (British paperback edition). The book's central storyline is that of Charles Lindbergh's flight to Paris and subsequent air industry-supporing barnstorming tour across the United States. Bryson writes about the "galvanizing" (p. 407) impact of the cross-Atlantic endeavor - particularly that the $25,000 prize and flight had "spurred as much as $100 million in aviation investments in America." (p. 569) Later in the summer, on August 1st, an aviator named Clarence Chamberlain even became the first person to take off from a ship at sea. (p. 409)

Again we find ourselves at the dawn of a new potential military domain, with proponents and critics shouting each other down. Will cyber go the way of airpower? Or will it go the way of non-lethal munitions? Instead of wasting so much energy with the debate, why don't we just subject the cyber community to a Mitchell Test: set a bunch of surplus vehicles or airplanes somewhere, create some ground rules and safety measures, and tell our cyber "warriors" to destroy them by utilizing their digital and electronic means. DARPA (or the West Point Cyber Research Center) could run it if the services didn't want to get directly involved. Maybe I'm missing something here, but someone has to have proposed this somewhere, right? While not definitive, this would be a very useful demonstration and would likely spur innovation and investment like what was seen in the air domain in the 1920s. 

1921 CARTOON FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE. IMAGE COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA.

8 Potentially World Ending Nuclear Scares

November 28, 2010

For more than 40 years, the two great superpowers of the world (America and the USSR) and their allies were locked in a nuclear confrontation known as the Cold War. Both sides were on a hair-trigger to launch massive nuclear strikes which would have global consequences, due to MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). If one side launched its missiles, it would surely be destroyed as well by the retaliatory attack. With so many devastating weapons, and such high tensions, the threat of a nuclear accident, or starting a global war was very real. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, nuclear war still remains a risk, as more and more countries (such as India, Pakistan, China, and North Korea) develop the technology, and means, to deliver nuclear weapons. This list looks at a few of the many instances when there was a real danger of either starting a nuclear war, or accidentally detonating a nuclear weapon. 

Duluth Air Base Intruder

In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, on October 25th, 1962, a guard at an air base in Duluth, Minnesota, spotted an intruder scaling the perimeter fence. He fired on the intruder, and raised the alarm, which also activated alarms at all bases in the area. However, at Volk Field air base in Wisconsin, the alarm had been wired incorrectly. Instead of sounding a sabotage warning, the alarm ordered F-106A Delta Dart interceptors armed with nuclear missiles to take off. As there are no practice alert drills when DEFCON 3 is in force, the pilots believed a nuclear war with the Soviet Union had begun. As the aircraft were about to take off, a car from the air traffic control tower rushed towards them and signaled the aircraft to stop. The intruder had been identified as a bear. 

Thule Air Base Crash

A B-52 carrying 4 hydrogen bombs was flying over Baffin Bay near Greenland on the 21st January, 1968, as part of a “Hard Head” mission. This is where bombers armed with nuclear weapons loitered outside Soviet airspace, so that they could deliver either a rapid first strike, or an immediate retaliatory attack should war break out. However, on this flight, a fire broke out onboard the aircraft. Six of the crew managed to eject, but the last was killed as he tried to bail out. The plane crashed onto sea ice, causing the high explosive component of the nuclear bombs to explode, sending radioactive material over a wide area. There was no atomic explosion as the bombs had not been armed. A huge cleanup operation was launched, with the base camp situated at the crash site. Eventually, 6700 m3 of contaminated ice and snow were removed and transported to the United States. After obtaining a number of documents under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC claimed that one of the four nuclear weapons had not been accounted for during the cleanup operation. However, the Danish Institute for International Studies launched their own study in 2009, which refuted the BBC’s claims.

The curious case of nuclear studies

By Alexandre Debs 
July 10


June 3, 1961: Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, left, and U.S. President John F. Kennedy sit in the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Vienna, Austria, at the start of their historic talks. (AP/Wide World Photo) This is the fourth contribution in our mini-symposium on what policymakers can learn from recent academic research into nuclear weapons. Alexandre Debs is an assistant professor at Yale University and received his Ph.D in economics from MIT. Here he reflects on some of the methodological battles that divide the field of nuclear studies.

In his presentation at Yale University in the spring of 2013, Henry Kissinger admitted that he preferred reading history to political science. The lack of enthusiasm for political science, by a former political scientist and former policy-maker, now determined to build a nuclear-free world, should be concerning for political scientists interested in nuclear studies. 

Early on, nuclear studies played an important role in the development of international relations and the social sciences more generally. Efforts to analyze potential nuclear crises with the Soviet Union generated important insights for the study of international security, game theory, and political economy. 

More recently, the field of nuclear studies has rather been the recipient of insights and methodologies from other branches of social science. The current H-Diplo roundtable discusses two quantitative papers in nuclear studies. I urge anyone interested in understanding international relations to join this fascinating conversation, as it touches on important questions of methodology, standards of evidence, and the promises and challenges of multi-method approaches. 

In my view, the new wave of quantitative studies has not lived up to its promise because it has focused too much on questions of methodology. In order to move forward as a field, nuclear studies should pay greater attention to theory, history … and politics. 

The State of the Art 

Until 10 years ago, qualitative methods were the preferred approach in nuclear studies. While such an approach was very fruitful, it risked generating a proliferation of theories, each built upon a small number of cases, with no unifying framework. The quantitative studies of the last decade can generate useful insights in documenting general correlates of nuclear outcomes, yet it is also important to think about the next steps. 

America’s War on WMDs

July 08, 2014

How to think about the fight to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. 

The U.S. Department of Defense just released the latest version of its Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, replacing the 2006 document put out by the Bush administration. This was far from the usual cheery Fourth of July. A hurricane was bearing down on New England. So in keeping with a dismal day, why not get some kicks reviewing the nature of the struggle to stanch the spread of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) arms?

Doing so is hardly an idle project. After all, Clausewitz, that patron saint of strategic thought, tells us no one in his right mind gets into an endeavor unless he grasps its nature, neither mistaking it for something else nor – wittingly or unwittingly – trying to change it into something alien to its nature. One hopes the framers of the Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction heeded Clausewitz’s wisdom while assembling it, rather than doing the bureaucratic thing and writing laundry lists of problems and solutions. Surrendering to listmania is seldom helpful when designing strategy.

First of all, a point about the language used in the strategy. Back in 2005, a team at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace denounced the term WMD. They argued that, however useful as shorthand, the acronym conflates very different types of weaponry that inflict damage very different in scope and magnitude and demand very different countermeasures. Only nuclear weapons, they opined, qualify as true weapons of mass destruction. Chemical, biological, and radiological armaments create effects that are far less dire. It only makes sense to address them separately.

As an old CBRN instructor from way back, and as a committed Orwellian, I agree wholeheartedly with the Carnegie folks’ verdict. The language we use shapes how we think about, debate, and execute strategy. For the sake of precision, it is sensible to disaggregate WMD into its components. In straitened times, combating nuclear proliferation should command more analytical energy and scarce resources than, say, squelching the spread of mustard agents. Nevertheless, their effort evidently didn’t take in the hallowed halls of the Pentagon. The strategy is chock-full of WMD mentions. (It’s also rather vague about specific initiatives against proliferation, and the resources these initiatives will demand. In this sense the document is more of a strategic concept than a strategy.) In any event, the prospect that applying the term WMD to disparate threats amounts to trying to transform the counterproliferation fight into something alien to its nature should give us pause.

Second, counterproliferation isn’t a war per se. It’s more of a constabulary enterprise with warlike characteristics and methods. To borrow from Clausewitz, it is a series of acts of force to compel proliferators to do our bidding. The strategy vows, for instance, to “Prevent Acquisition, Contain and Reduce Threats, and Respond to Crises.” But like all effective unconventional, asymmetric challenges, weapons proliferation straddles the war/peace divide while exploiting the seams between organizations with unlike mandates, bureaucratic cultures, and geographic areas of operation. And, like all wicked problems, the problem can morph from one thing into another and back again – eluding efforts to thwart it. This is a war only in a loose sense, then, much like the war on drugs and other murky ventures.

The 35 Most Powerful Militaries In The World

JUL 11, 2014

There's only one true way to compare military strength, and thankfully we haven't had the opportunity to compare powerful countries in recent decades - though with a powder keg in the South China Sea, standoffs in Ukraine, and pproxy wars throughout the Middle East, we are alarmingly close.

For a simpler evaluation of military power, we turn to the Global Firepower Index, a ranking of 106 nations based on more than 50 factors including overall military budget, available manpower, and the amount of equipment each country has in their respective arsenals, as well as access to resources.

The index focuses on quantity, ignoring significant quantitative differences (North Korea's 78 submarines, for instance, aren't exactly state of the art). It also does not factor in nuclear stockpiles - still the ultimate trump card in geopolitics. It also does not penalize land-locked nations for lack of a standing navy.

We've created a chart to compare the top 35 militaries according to the Global Firepower Index. The ranking, released in April 2014, involves a complex set of data that is subject to ongoing adjustments and corrections.

Here are key findings from the index:
America's Investment In Being The World's Police Force

The United States clearly leads the world in military spending at more than $6 billion. China is the closest nation to follow the US at nearly $130 billion - which is still less than a third of America's overall spending.

According to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US has reduced its defense budget by 7.8% chiefly due to America's gradual withdrawal in overseas military operations, like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Russia has increased its arms spending by $88 billion and plans to 'modernize' its current weapons arsenal.

Return of Haji Pir Pass in 1965 – Myth and the Reality


11 Jul , 2014


In 1965 war, Indian Army had captured the strategic Haji Pir Pass. During the Tashkent talks between Indian and Pakistan, held through the good offices of Soviet Union, India agreed to return Haji Pir Pass, Pt 13620 which dominated Kargil town and many other tactically important areas. To add mystery to the whole process, Prime Minister Shastri died on 10th January, 1966 after signing the Tashkent Declaration with President Ayub Khan of Pakistan. He was denounced by all and sundry for caving in to the Russian pressure and made to return Haji Pir Pass to Pakistan, resulted in two grave disadvantages to us: One- had the pass been held by us, the distance from Jammu to Srinagar through Poonch and Uri would have been reduced by over 200 Kms. Two – later on Pak commenced its infiltration into J & K in 1965, through the Uri – Poonch Bulge which continues even today. They why did we commit this error of judgement?

Haji Pir Operations:

Following failure of Operation Grand Slam, the infiltration attempt in J & K in August, 1965, Pakistan decided to launch its offensive operation in Chhamb in order to capture Akhnoor, thus cutting off lines of communication to Poonch Sector. Subsequently operations were to be progressed to Jammu to cut off the Valley from the rest of the country. Selection of Chhamb – Jauriyan Sector conferred many advantages on Pakistan. The area is bound in the west by the Ceasefir Line, which is the South and Kalidhar Range in the North.

thrust in this area was launched by Pakistan on 1st September, 1965. After crossing Munnawar Tawi which is fordable in winters by tanks, Pakistan forces started moving eastwards and were halted at Fatwal Ridge, only 4 Km. from Akhnoor when Indian offensive in Lahore sector forced Pakistan to thin out Chhamb Sector and thus its momentum was halted.

Chhamb – Jauriyan Battle

13 July 2014

Ukrainian Military Offensive to Recapture City of Donetsk Is Coming

July 12, 2014

Ukraine’s next battle is Donetsk, but no bombs, please

Hal Foster and Tatyana Gorychova

USA Today, July 12, 2014

BERDYANSK, Ukraine — The decisive campaign in Ukraine’s separatist rebellion — the battle for Donetsk — is imminent, and the looming question is how much damage the jewel of the country’s economy will suffer.

Fearing that the faceoff between 30,000 Ukrainian military troops and about 10,000 pro-Russian separatists will destroy much of the city of 1 million people, tens of thousands of residents have fled Donetsk.

The Ukrainian military used different strategies to recapture two other key cities in the eastern provinces of the country.

One was a small-arms attack on the separatist headquarters in Mariupol in early June, inflicting little structural damage on the port city of 480,000. The other strategy was a weeks-long artillery assault on Slovyansk in June and July that damaged about 60% of the infrastructure in the city of 110,000.

Afraid that the military will use the artillery approach, billionaire Donetsk industrialist Rinat Akhmetov went on television July 6, the day after the separatists fled Slovyansk, to plead: “Donbass (the Donetsk and Lugansk regions) must not be bombed. Cities, towns and infrastructure must not be destroyed.”

President Petro Poroshenko’s administration is well aware that Donetsk contributes more to the Ukrainian economy than any city in the country. It is a bastion of heavy industry that includes shipyards, coal and iron mines and steelmaking and other metals works, much of which Akhmetov owns.

The president recently pledged to use restraint in the Donetsk campaign, but the military must balance the structural damage it would inflict from air and artillery strikes against prospects for higher casualties from relying mostly on small arms.

One thing’s for certain: The government wants to retake Donetsk in the worst way.

The city’s capture would probably break the back of the separatist movement, although the military would still have to take Lugansk, the rebels’ secondary stronghold, which has a population of 426,000.

Another reason the military is itching to fight in Donetsk is personal: to even the score with Igor Strelkov, the Russian national who has headed the separatists’ combat effort.

Strelkov — a former Russian intelligence officer named Igor Girkin, according to Ukraine and the West — led the rebel campaign in Slovyansk.

He has been high-profile, appearing on Russian and separatist television networks and on Internet videos and writing a provocative daily blog about the conflict. Even the pseudonym he chose — Strelkov, meaning “shooter” — was calculated to portray him as a swashbuckler.

Why India is the key to the world's climate future

If the nation can leapfrog fossil fuels, the benefits would be enormous
By Ryan Cooper | July 11, 2014

Technologies such as solar panels could help India leapfrog other countries on the energy front. 

The future of climate change is largely about China and India. Their populations are gigantic, their economies are growing fast, and their potential emissions growth could completely swamp anything else that happens in the world. The United States must act as well, but as I've argued before, it's mainly in the service of obtaining an international climate agreement.

Therefore, choices that policymakers in those countries make today will have enormous climate effects over the next few decades. New coal-fired power plants, for instance, will last for many years, and it will be hard to avoid using them. But should these nations manage to leapfrog the traditional fossil-fuel-driven stage of the economic growth path, the climate benefits could be enormous.

China is substantially ahead on the industrialization curve (its policy will be more about reducing emissions than avoiding them), so the choices India is making right now are correspondingly more important for future climate effects. That's the light in which you should read this fascinating report from Andrew Satter on solar-based rural electrification in India:

Yet it is here, as I watch employees of one of the country's many fast-growing clean energy startups install solar panels on a local villager's roof — their sixth installation of the day — that I realize I am witnessing something transformational. It is a glimpse into the future of how the world's rural poor could access electricity: off-grid, distributed, renewable, and most importantly, affordable. It's happening all over rural India and in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and is turning the entire narrative around energy and development on its head. [Climate Progress]

Ironically, the janky and unreliable nature of the country's energy grid (a couple years ago India witnessed the largest power failure in history, leaving over 700 million people without electricity) is something of an advantage to these solar installers. Cheap individual installations are more useful to people whose regular grid power goes down all the time, or who don't have a grid connection at all – of which there are roughly 400 million.

Know Yourself and Your Enemies

12 Jul , 2014


Two books titled ‘Deception – Pakistan, The United States and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy’ by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott- Clark and ‘Military Inc.- Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy’ by Ayesha Siddiqa are valuable reading for scholars of national security and indeed all those responsible for formulating national foreign and security policies in India.

US and some European authorities were fully aware of transfer of nuclear warhead technology and missiles from China to Pakistan…

The first book reveals that every US administration starting from Jimmy Carter was not just aware of the unfolding of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, but turned a benign blind eye to it and even supported it indirectly through aid injection. Concrete evidence available from both US and Western intelligence sources was not only subverted but even kept from the Congress. Assessments and reports were either destroyed or tampered with and in one case an important official whose factual reports were not palatable was sacked and falsely framed.

US and some European authorities were fully aware of transfer of nuclear warhead technology and missiles from China to Pakistan and the A. Q. Khan network that was selling nuclear know how and hardware to North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Libya. This illicit trade was being financed amongst others by Libya and Saudi Arabia as also through US aid money! Authors of the book state that ‘In reality, Khan’s confession was a ruse. It takes more than one person to make a mess of this proportion. Khan was the fall guy and his performance papered over the true nature of what many now believe was the nuclear crime of all our lifetimes and undoubtedly the source of our future wars. The nuclear bazaar Khan claimed to have orchestrated certainly existed ,but where the public and private stories diverged was that the covert trade in doomsday technology was not the work of one man, but the foreign policy of a nation, plotted and supervised by Pakistan’s ruling military clique, supposedly a key ally in America’s war on terror. The true scandal was how the trade and the Pakistan military’s role in it had been discovered by high-ranking US and European officials, many years before, but rather than interdict it they had worked hard to cover it up.’

The deception in the book cuts across nations and within nations across institutions and individuals. What really emerges is that in the harsh world that we live in today morality, trust or chemistry between leaders in diplomacy is of little consequence. At the altar of perceived national interest, anything goes! While the comprehensively researched book chronicles the intricacies of clandestine nuclear proliferation, missile proliferation, illegal international trade in nuclear components and materials and internal and international subterfuge, what really stands out is the huge gap between what national governments preach in public and what they practice in private.

Today, the world watches with bated breadth at the events unfolding in Pakistan and irony is writ large on this unfolding drama. Those that were trained to bleed India are likewise training their guns on Pakistan as well.