26 July 2014

Hamas' Gamble: A Not-So-Inadvertent War

July 24, 2014
"Hamas’ rockets and tunnels were the last cards of a movement that rapidly ran out of options and became desperate."

As IDF ground operations continue in the Gaza Strip, along with increasing violence and death tolls, following several infiltration attempts and unprecedented salvos of rockets fired toward Israel by Hamas, the umpteenth escalation can no longer be described as an “inadvertent” war. Two instances of heinous killings, one by a rogue Hamas cell resulting in the death of three Jewish teenagers, the other involving Israeli extremists who killed one Palestinian youth, led to the assessment that the conflict was unintended, prompted by two unpredictable crimes. Yet, while the initial murder of the three Jewish teenagers and the subsequent killing of the Palestinian were not planned by either side, it is becoming increasingly clear that Hamas did indeed prepare this not-so-inadvertent war.

The Islamist organization ruling over the Gaza Strip has become increasingly desperate and seems to have run out of options: provoking an operation in Gaza is allowing it to regain lost prestige and diplomatic relations. When the Israeli “Operation Protective Edge” started, the Gaza-based movement appeared more isolated than ever. Despite the usual demonstrations of support and condemnation of the Israeli operation from the Arab League and several Arab states, Hamas remained in dire need of both political and financial support. While the political wing of the organization agreed to form a now living-dead unity government, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades—Hamas’ military wing—was likely preparing for a potential desperate attack against Israel, which they perceived as the only plausible way to restore the movement’s image.

A series of bold attacks via tunnels and the sea—all of which have been foiled by Israel—still reflect the group’s pre-prepared plans to conduct attacks on Israeli soil. Prior to the ground offensive, the firing of rockets during rush hour and dinner time, the sending of threatening text messages to thousands of Israelis, as well as a forewarned missile salvo in Tel Aviv on July 12 (which forced thousands into shelters) demonstrated Hamas’ experience in playing with Israeli public opinion and waging psychological warfare. At shelters across Tel Aviv, people did indeed request that the Israeli government enter Gaza, or at least understood this may be the upcoming result of the psychological warfare Hamas was waging. The Islamist group, for its part, had accepted that a ground operation was its best option to save it from despair. Such a choice has resulted from a rapid, yet largely unseen, deterioration of Hamas’ standing as the “true” Palestinian resistance.

Egypt’s unprecedented campaign against the smuggling tunnels that supplies arms and other products to the Gaza Strip has brought Hamas, formally the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, to its knees. Such tunnels serve as Hamas’ primary source of revenue, as it collects taxes on trade via these tunnels, while the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, collects taxes via Kerem Shalom, Israel’s land crossing to the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Gaza’s nearby Sinai Peninsula has traditionally been used by Hamas to “export” the strip’s most-extremist jihadist-Salafist groups, thus enabling the ruling Islamist organization to manage the pressure coming from more radical groups. The closure of the tunnels and the Egyptian counterinsurgency campaign have, as a result, returned these groups to Gaza and further prevented Hamas from expelling them. While they do not represent a direct threat to Hamas, such groups certainly play a role in heating up negotiations between Hamas and other factions and hindering the organization’s ability to implement a cease-fire.

Gaza Underground Infrastructure Photos

Like peoples in simplest caves from the beginning and high-technological cities and nations today, Gaza constructs underground infrastructure to evade undercover all-INT full-spectrum attack exhibited in the first pristine safely-bunkered military industrial media photo.

IDF Photos

IDF Photos

IDF Troops

IDF - Israel Defense Forces


The IDF is considered as one of the most skilled armies in combat, and for a long time it had been perceived both in Israel and abroad as one of the best armies in the world. However, the IDF's frequent participation in policing operations, a practice that began during the first intifada, has diminished its army combat abilities in the eyes of many

The Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) mission is to protect the existence, sovereignty and security of Israel's borders in times of war and in times of peace. Moreover, the IDF has a central role in a variety of civilian fields, including immigrant absorption and education. The IDF is considered as one of the most skilled armies in combat, and for a long time it had been perceived both in Israel and abroad as one of the best armies in the world. However, the IDF's frequent participation in policing operations, a practice that began during the first intifada, has diminished its army combat abilities in the eyes of many.

In the first decades after the establishment of the State of Israel, up until the Six-Day War, the IDF enjoyed the Israeli public's sweeping trust and admiration. The army's prestige peaked immediately after the 1967 war, but in the years that followed, as Israeli society grew increasingly polarized on policy and defense issues, the national consensus over the IDF and its activity weakened.

The Yom Kippur War, the Lebanon War and the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict marked additional milestones in the deterioration of the public approval of the IDF. The trust placed in its capabilities and morality faded and was replaced with criticism, and its status as an Israeli symbol waned due to ideological and political disputes. The Second Lebanon War dealt another blow to the IDF's standing.

IDF soldiers (Photo: AP) 

From Establishment of State to Six Day War 

The IDF was established on May 26, 1948 on orders of the interim government at the height of the War of Independence. The "IDF Order" declared the formation of an Israeli army that would be comprised of ground, air and naval forces, while outlawing any other armed force other than the IDF.

The IDF top brass was sworn in about a month later. The Haganah's General Command became the first IDF General Command, which established most of the divisions it required in its first days, based on the existing structure of the Haganah. In the following six months, the Lehi and Etzel merged with the IDF while the Palmah was disbanded, in light of the demand that the nation have only one military force.

A Tour of France

By Alexander Smoltczyk

Examining the New Sick Man of Europe

The TV images of the Tour de France show an idyllic country, but behind the gloss is a nation where fears of decline are prompting people to vote for the far right. A trip along the route of the world's most famous cycling race reveals the deep uncertainty ailing the French.

There is a new word in the French language: La mannschaft. It's the term used to define everything that is enviable on the opposite bank of the Rhine River -- in other words, Germany's success. It's a success that is the product of the collective and is free of any of the egocentrics, self-deluded, bling-bling divas and "general director presidents," as the heads of French companies are called, that can make France so stuffy.

A week ago Monday, on Bastille Day, newspapers across France sighed that it wouldn't hurt if the country were a bit more like la mannschaft. Instead, unemployment is twice as high as it is in Germany, growth and investments have fallen far and former President Nicolas Sarkozy was recently detained for questioning by police at dawn. La mannschaft is the polar opposite of the other word currently in fashion in France: le malaise. A deep gloom appears to have taken hold in France. A recent survey showed that two-thirds of the French are "pessimistic" about their country's future.

"Viewed from the outside, France under François Hollande is like Cuba, only without the sun but with the extreme right," the newsweekly Le Point recently wrote. The country is "impoverished, over-indebted, divided, humbled and humiliated and finds itself in a pre-revolutionary situation in which anything seems possible."

The only thing missing, it seems is the travel warning, because right at this moment, large numbers of vacationers from the rest of Europe are traveling in the country. Are these vacationers all francophone lemmings on their way to the cliff, blind to anything that doesn't involve a game of boule or finding a camping spot?

Something is adrift in France. Rarely has the public mood been this miserable and the sullenness as omnipresent as it has been this summer. A president currently resides in Elysée Palace who was mercilessly booed during the July 14th military parade. It doesn't seem possible for Hollande to get any less popular, and yet his popularity continues to fall from one low to the next.

But at least the country still has the Tour de France, the grand race that circles the country and serves as a prelude to the summer holiday season. Each year, it provides a long beloved view of a different, rural and idealized France -- one where local firehouses still host annual dances, where there's a memorial to those lost in the wars in front of every city hall and where the people know where they belong. But do they really?

This reporter recently traveled across France to take the country's pulse with the people on the ground. The route followed stayed true to the course of the 2014 Tour de France, taking in cities, towns and villages, and sought to observe signs of the crisis, decline, collective depression and other specters that are haunting Germany's most important neighbor.

Russia's Five Most Lethal Land Weapons of War

July 24, 2014

What Ukraine and NATO should fear the most if the unthinkable happens.

Editor’s Note: Please see TNI’s other articles concerning Russia’s military including Russia’s Military is Back, Five Russia Weapons of War NATO Should Fear, Russia’s Navy Rising and The Best Weapons of War From the Soviet Union.

Purists may argue whether they are better or worse than comparable U.S. or NATO equipment. In many cases, we can't and won't know unless there rival weapons meet in battle. But what is clear is that the Russian Army has weapons far more sophisticated than anything the West has encountered in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been decades since even the Israelis fought advanced Russian tanks.

What lethal weapons can Russia bring to bear in Ukraine? Here are five:

T-90 Tank:

The T-90 tank is the latest iteration of the T-72/T-80 family. Smaller and lighter than the U.S. M-1, it weighs about 46 tons versus 60 tons for the Abrams. But it is heavily armed with advanced fire control equipment and a 125-millimeter smoothbore cannon capable of firing armor-piercing depleted-uranium rounds as well as laser-guided AT-11 anti-tank missiles that can destroy targets out to 2.5 miles away.

Besides the expected thick armor, the T-90 is protected by Kontakt-5 explosive armor to destroy incoming anti-tank rockets. Its Shtora-1 defensive system contains laser warning receivers plus a suite of countermeasures that jam missile guidance frequencies, and even smoke grenades to blind infrared sensors.

However they would stack up against the U.S. Abrams, British Challenger or German Leopard, the T-90 is certainly more advanced than the decrepit T-80s, T-72s and T-64 fielded by the Ukrainian Army.

BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle:

Though the motto for the BMP-3 and its American counterpart the M-2 Bradley should be "We Are Not Tanks," these infantry fighting vehicles are still quite powerful. The BMP-3 is the descendant of the famous BMP-1, whose appearance in the 1960s shocked Western observers with the idea that an infantry carrier could be a weapons platform as well as a battlefield taxi.

The State Department’s Twitter Jihad Can a bureaucracy out-tweet the terrorists?

July 22, 2014 

The skirmish began like so many others: with a tweet. On June 26, a Twitter user with the handle @AboudouAbdallah, who identifies himself as living in Morocco and supporting the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), tweeted the following remark: “I just want to remind you … never forget what happens to your ’soldiers’ in #Fallujah #Iraq #CalamityWillBefallUS.” Attached to the tweet was a photo of the burned body of a Blackwater contractor hanging from a bridge. Abdallah has 535 followers, and the message accrued only two retweets and three favorites, but someone from the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), a division of the State Department, picked up on it.

The center then posted the following reply from @ThinkAgain_DOS, its English language-Twitter account: “@AboudouAbdallah I want to remind you what happens to terrorists who target us #CalamityWillBefallUS.” Attached to this tweet was a low-resolution photo of Osama bin Laden in his loungewear, watching television in his Abbottabad compound. Stamped on the photo, in text that for some reason alternates between black and purple, was a warning: “Would you throw away your life for those who hide far away?”

Not much about the State Department’s tweet made sense. Why use such a poor quality photo? Why did they repeat Abdallah’s hashtag, which was a threat toward the United States? And what gives with the black-and-purple font, which looks better suited for a placard scrawled by a high school kid running for class president?

But it was too late to debate aesthetics. The battle was on. A user with the handle @alisalehi1292 chimed in with a simple message: “Sh. Osama=2 USSR=0 USA=0,” the putative score in the war between superpowers and the late bin Laden. @alisalehi1292 added that the mujahideen will go to heaven, “while your rapists and torturers live a cursed life [PTSD] and then are thrown in hell.” Responding earnestly, @ThinkAgain_DOS asked, “why do u wish to reward those who murder innocents?” and linked to an article showing that al Qaeda’s attacks in Iraq have mostly killed civilians. Again, the State Department staffer invoked the #CalamityWillBefallUS hashtag.

The American effort appeared to amuse some of the Islamist tweeps who were engaged in the battle. “Your boss is going to fire you soon if these tweets don’t improve,” joked someone named Abu Ottoman.

This exchange wasn’t accidental or uncommon. It’s part of a larger State Department program to change how the United States deals with extremist communications online. For years, the government vacillated over how to respond to al Qaeda’s online broadcasts, from its martyrdom videos to Inspire, the terrorist group’s slick English-language digital magazine. Fighting back was considered beneath the office—we don’t negotiate with terrorists and all that.

Under the Bush administration, the government also believed it was fighting such a vast, communist-like ideological threat that there were simply too many jihadists to try to dissuade them one by one on social media. The better approach, the previous administration thought, was to campaign broadly for freedom. “For the longest time, there was total resistance in the State Department to badmouthing al Qaeda — as a job that the State Department should be engaged in — and that the real solution should be to sell America, to tell America’s story,” says Will McCants, who helped set up the CSCC when he served as a senior adviser for countering violent extremism at the State Department.

That has all changed under Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, who took a much narrower view of terrorism, confining his focus to al Qaeda and seeking to make it less a war than a law-enforcement and intelligence problem. Under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department began to a pursue a policy of what she called “twenty-first-century statecraft,” a broad designation that included anything from using social media to speak directly to people in the developing world to helping foreign dissidents set up secure communications networks. Now, the government is trying to go on offense, challenging terrorist propaganda all across the new digital battleground and seeking to wean would-be terrorists from the cause, recruit by recruit, using the hashtag #ThinkAgainTurnAway. The CSCC wants to “contest the space” that, in the words of State Department senior official Alberto Fernandez, who oversees the program, “had previously been conceded to the enemy.”

Iran's South Azadegan oil field

Iran holds some of the world’s largest deposits of proved oil and natural gas reserves, ranking as the world’s fourth-and second-largest reserve holder of oil and natural gas, respectively. Iran also ranks among the world’s top 10 oil producers and top 5 natural gas producers. Iran produced 3.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of petroleum and other liquids in 2013 and more than 5.6 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of dry natural gas in 2012.

The Strait of Hormuz, on the southeastern coast of Iran, is an important route for oil exports from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries. At its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz is 21 miles wide, yet an estimated 17 million bbl/d of crude oil and oil products flowed through it in 2013 (roughly one-third of all seaborne traded oil and almost 20% of total oil produced globally). Liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes also flow through the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 3.9 Tcf of LNG was transported via the Strait of Hormuz in 2013, almost all of which was from Qatar, accounting for about one-third of global LNG trade.

Effects of recent sanctions

Iran’s oil production has declined substantially over the past few years, and natural gas production growth has slowed, despite the country’s abundant reserves. International sanctions have stymied progress across Iran’s energy sector, especially affecting upstream investment in both oil and natural gas projects. The sanctions have prompted a number of cancellations and delays of upstream projects, resulting in declining oil production capacity. The United States and the European Union (EU) enacted measures at the end of 2011 and during the summer of 2012 that have affected the Iranian energy sector more profoundly than any previously enacted sanctions. The sanctions impeded Iran’s ability to sell oil, resulting in a 1.0-million bbl/d drop in crude oil and condensate exports in 2012 compared with the previous year.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Iran’s oil and natural gas export revenue was $118 billion in the 2011/2012 fiscal year (ending March 20, 2012). In the 2012/2013 fiscal year, oil and natural gas export revenue dropped by 47% to $63 billion. The IMF estimates that Iran’s oil and natural gas export revenue fell again in the 2013/2014 fiscal year by 11% to $56 billion. The revenue loss is attributed to the precipitous decline in the volume of oil exports from 2011 to 2013. Iran’s natural gas exports actually increased slightly over the past few years. However, Iran exports a small volume of natural gas, as most of its production is domestically consumed.

Nonetheless, international sanctions have also affected Iran’s natural gas sector. Iran’s natural gas sector has been expanding, but production growth has been lower than expected as a result of the lack of foreign investment and technology. The South Pars natural gas field is the largest hydrocarbon upstream project currently being developed in Iran and continues to encounter delays. South Pars, located offshore in the Persian Gulf, holds roughly 40% of Iran’s proved natural gas reserves. It is currently being developed mostly by Iranian companies as most international companies have pulled out. The field’s development entails 24 phases, of which phases 1-10 are completed, and phase 12 started production in February 2014.

On November 24, 2013, a Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) was established between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) plus Germany (P5+1). Implementation of the JPOA started in January 2014. Under the JPOA, Iran agreed to scale back or freeze some of its nuclear activities during the six months of negotiations in exchange for some sanctions relief. The period of negotiations was recently extended for another four months to November 24. The JPOA aims to reach a long-term comprehensive plan that ensures that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, which may lead to the lifting of international sanctions.

The JPOA does not directly allow for additional Iranian oil sales, although it does suspend sanctions on associated insurance and transportation services. However, Iran and the countries that are continuing to import Iranian oil have increasingly been able to find alternatives to European Protection and Indemnity Clubs (P&I) coverage from EU companies.

Iran’s crude oil and condensate exports increased in late 2013 and have maintained a level above the 2013 average. From January to May 2014, Iran’s crude oil and condensate exports averaged 1.4 million bbl/d, roughly 300,000 bbl/d higher than the 2013 average, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Exports to China and India account for almost all of the increase.

Total primary energy consumption

Iran consumed 9.6 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2012. Natural gas and oil accounted for almost all (98%) of Iran’s total primary energy consumption in 2012, with marginal contributions from coal, hydropower, nuclear, and non-hydro renewables. Iran’s primary energy consumption has grown by more than 50% over the past 10 years. In order to curtail wasteful energy use and to limit domestic demand growth, Iran has embarked on an energy subsidy reform to raise the prices of domestic petroleum, natural gas, and electricity. The first phase of the reform was enacted in late 2010, and phase two was initiated in early 2014.

Africa in the Wider World

By Richard Downie, editor 

Contributor: William M. Bellamy, Heather A. Conley, Jennifer Cooke, Talia Dubovi, Nicole Goldin, Sarah O. Ladislaw, Robert D. Lamb, Haim Malka, Carl Meacham, Sarah Mendelson, J. Stephen Morrison, Jean-Francois Pactet, Richard M. Rossow, Daniel F. Runde, Conor M. Savoy 

JUL 22, 2014 

The U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, being hosted by President Barack Obama in August 2014, acknowledges the increasing strategic, economic, and diplomatic importance of Africa and signals a desire by the United States to step up its engagement with one of the world’s fastest-growing regions. The summit provides a timely opportunity to take stock of some of the dynamic changes that have been taking place in Africa’s 54 countries and to examine the shifting contours of its relations with the rest of the world.

In this collection of essays, regional and functional experts from CSIS consider the main themes of the summit—and of Africa’s current place in the world—including trade and investment, peace and security, and democracy and good governance. The authors consider how Africa’s transformation is changing the way the continent is viewed externally and driving new types of engagement on security, development, and economic issues. 

Publisher CSIS/Rowman & Littlefield 

ISBN 978-1-4422-4026-1 (pb); 978-1-4422-4027-8 (eBook) 

Eurasia Is for Hugging

May 24, 2013

With the right cartography, the pivot isn’t the U.S. abandoning Europe for Asia but hugging Eurasia. 

My hero Mark Twain once quipped that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. The estimable humorist could've substituted "maps" for "statistics" and his joke would ring just as true.

Trouble is, it's hard to faithfully depict a globe on a flat surface like a printed page. That creates abundant opportunities for mapmakers to, if not lie per se, then at least to shape perceptions for aesthetic or political effect. The best way to keep an accurate view, short of keeping a globe handy, is to consult a variety of different maps that portray the world from different vantage points. The more perspectives the better.

The venerable Mercator projection is an egregious offender, if only because it's so ubiquitous. It distorts the size of geographic features in extreme northern and southern climes, exaggerating not just their dimensions but the landmasses' seeming importance. And where should the map be centered to catch the observer's eye? Patriotic American cartographers once inscribed the prime meridian through Philadelphia, New York, or Washington, DC, signaling that the new republic lay at the origin of a new, better political system. Maps sold in the United States long showed North America at the center while splitting Eurasia, and the Indian Ocean, between the extreme left and right sides of the page. That makes sense if you're a business selling maps to American customers. But it can mislead.

Sometimes the effort to mold opinion is overt, meant to serve present political needs. For instance, the artist Richard Edes Harrison published a series of maps during World War II with the aim of exciting elite and popular sentiment for the war effort. Harrison's genius was figuring out the right projection to send a political message. My favorite is his map of the North Atlantic. Viewed from the right angle, the broad Atlantic looks like a roughly diamond-shaped inland sea. Message: North America and Europe occupy the rimlands of the same inland sea, so transatlantic unity is a must. The idea of a North Atlantic community carried over into the Cold War, helping make the founding of NATO possible when America might have retreated back into splendid isolation.

Here’s One Way to Totally Reorganize the U.S. Military

Robert Farley 
23 Jul 2014

Efforts to abolish the U.S. Air Force seem to come around every 30 years or so 

My new book Grounded isn’t the first proposal aimed at totally doing away with the U.S. Air Force.

In 1982 John Byron—then a Navy commander and submarine skipper—argued that the United States should reorganize its military around three branches, eliminating the Air Force and creating a new Strategic Deterrent Force.

Reorganization of the U.S. Armed Forces” was the first strategic study co-published by the National War College and the National Defense University Press. It made the rounds among defense analysts at the time. It attracted some attention from the defense reform community and an audience in some of the professional defense journals, including Proceedingsand Early Bird, the much-beloved Pentagon news roundup that ceased publication in 2013.

Byron, a graduate of the University of Washington, argued for dividing the services into an army, a navy and a deterrence force that would encompass the Navy and Air Force’s nuclear missions.

He detailed the problems that mission-overlap created between the services and argued that inter-service divisions inevitably resulted in conflict. Byron used a memorable musical metaphor—one that I wish I’d stolen—to describe the problems of Army-Air Force collaboration.

“What I see is two drummers, two drums and two entirely different rhythms,” he wrote. “The organizations occasionally exchange sheet music or sometimes rehearse together, but the melodies—the doctrine and training and tactics—are service-specific.”

Now retired, Byron made time to chat with me about his proposal via e-mail. He detailed some of the key points and explained how the debate played out in the 1980s.

The plan’s most attention-grabbing element was the call to eliminate the Air Force. Byron told me he had little use for strategic bombing, pointing out that the ability of manned bombers to penetrate advanced air defense had declined dramatically since World War II—and that missiles had become a considerably more reliable means of delivering nuclear warheads.

Byron said that while the Army was glad to see the Air Force go in 1947, it would welcome its return today—and that this would lead to an organization more capable of balancing the contributions of different systems and branches.

The call for abolishing the Air Force was particularly interesting given that Air Force general Perry Smith, author of The Air Force Plans for Peace 1943-45, provided the foreword for Byron’s monograph. Smith’s book was extremely critical of the interwar Army Air Corps, as well as the Army Air Forces in World War II.

George Patton's Summer of 1944

By Victor Davis Hanson 
July 24, 2014

Nearly 70 years ago, on Aug. 1, 1944, Lieutenant General George S. Patton took command of the American Third Army in France. For the next 30 days they rolled straight toward the German border.

Patton almost did not get a chance at his summer of glory. After brilliant service in North Africa and Sicily, fellow officers — and his German enemies — considered him the most gifted American field general of his generation. But near the conclusion of his illustrious Sicilian campaign, the volatile Patton slapped two sick GIs in field hospitals, raving that they were shirkers. In truth, both were ill and at least one was suffering from malaria.

Public outrage eventually followed the shameful incidents. As a result, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was forced to put Patton on ice for eleven key months.

Tragically, Patton’s irreplaceable talents would be lost to the Allies in the soon-to-be-stagnant Italian campaign. He also played no real role in the planning of the Normandy campaign. Instead, his former subordinate, the more stable but far less gifted Omar Bradley, assumed direct command under Eisenhower of American armies in France.

In early 1944, a mythical Patton army was used as a deception to fool the Germans into thinking that “Army Group Patton” might still make another major landing at Calais. The Germans apparently found it incomprehensible that the Americans would bench their most audacious general at the very moment when his audacity was most needed.

When Patton’s Third Army finally became operational seven weeks after D-Day, it was supposed to play only a secondary role — guarding the southern flank of the armies of General Bradley and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery while securing the Atlantic ports.

Despite having the longest route to the German border, Patton headed east. The Third Army took off in a type of American blitzkrieg not seen since Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s rapid marches through Georgia and the Carolinas during the Civil War.

Throughout August 1944, Patton won back over the press. He was foul-mouthed, loud, and uncouth, and he led from the front in flamboyant style with a polished helmet and ivory-handled pistols.

In fact, his theatrics masked a deeply learned and analytical military mind. Patton sought to avoid casualties by encircling German armies. In innovative fashion, he partnered with American tactical air forces to cover his flanks as his armored columns raced around static German formations.

Naturally rambunctious American GIs fought best, Patton insisted, when “rolling” forward, especially in summertime. Only then, for a brief moment, might the clear skies facilitate overwhelming American air support. In August his soldiers could camp outside, while his speeding tanks still had dry roads.

In just 30 days, Patton finished his sweep across France and neared Germany. The Third Army had exhausted its fuel supplies and ground to a halt near the border in early September.

Allied supplies had been redirected northward for the normally cautious General Montgomery’s reckless Market Garden gambit. That proved a harebrained scheme to leapfrog over the bridges of the Rhine River; it devoured Allied blood and treasure, and accomplished almost nothing in return.

Meanwhile, the cutoff of Patton’s supplies would prove disastrous. Scattered and fleeing German forces regrouped. Their resistance stiffened as the weather grew worse and as shortened supply lines began to favor the defense.

Historians still argue over Patton’s August miracle. Could a racing Third Army really have burst into Germany so far ahead of Allied lines? Could the Allies ever have adequately supplied Patton’s charging columns given the growing distance from the Normandy ports? How could a supreme commander like Eisenhower handle Patton, who at any given moment could — and would — let loose with politically incorrect bombast?

We do not know the answers to all those questions. Nor will we ever quite know the full price that America paid for having a profane Patton stewing in exile for nearly a year rather than exercising his leadership in Italy or Normandy.


July 23, 2014 

Editor’s note: We’ve partnered with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) to publish a series of infographics based on data from their Global Terrorism Database and related START projects. Each week we’ll release a new set of graphics that depict trends in global terrorism activity. Sign up for the War on the Rocks newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of them!

These graphics were designed by Michael Jensen and William Kammerer.

Last week we published a series of graphics that combined to provide a picture of terrorism in Latin America. This week we look at another region that is often underrepresented in mainstream narratives about terrorism, but where terrorist violence represents a serious and pervasive challenge: Southeast Asia. Each of these five graphics portray a different aspect of terrorism in the region, and each is followed by a set of notes of particular interest. The first graphic is a snapshot of terrorism in Southeast Asia in 2013.

Incidents of Terrorism in Southeast Asia, 2013 (click to enlarge) 
Southeast Asia was the third most active region in the world in terms of terrorist attacks in 2013, with nearly 1200 attacks occurring in the region. 
The vast majority of terrorist violence in the region in 2013 took place in two countries — Philippines and Thailand. Violence in those countries accounted for 95% of the attacks the occurred in the region for the year. 
As the graphic shows, violence in Thailand was primarily isolated to the southern part of the country, where a number of groups have been waging a separatist war since the mid-2000s. 
Violence in the Philippines was dispersed broadly across the country, and was driven by a number of groups with various goals. Some, like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), are separatist movements based on ethnicity and religion, while others, like the New People’s Army (NPA), are broader nationalist organizations driven by leftist ideologies. 

Computer Models Show What Exactly Would Happen To Earth After A Nuclear War


Wasp Prime Test From Operation Teapot 

You've seen what a nuclear winter looks like, as imagined by filmmakers and novelists. Now you can take a look at what scientists have to say. In a new study, a team of four U.S. atmospheric and environmental scientists modeled what would happen after a "limited, regional nuclear war." To inexpert ears, the consequences sound pretty subtle—two or three degrees of global cooling, a nine percent reduction in yearly rainfall. Still, such changes could be enough to trigger crop failures and famines. After all, these would be cooler temperatures than the Earth has seen in 1,000 years.

Let's take a detailed look at some of these super-fun conclusions, shall we?
First, what happened?

The team imagines 100 nuclear warheads, each about the size of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, detonate over the Indian subcontinent. The team members are imagining an India-Pakistan nuclear war. It seems unfair to single out these nations, but I guess they're the poster children because they have relatively small nuclear stockpiles compared to countries such as the U.S., Russia and China. The idea is, If these lightweights can do this to Earth, imagine what the bigwigs can do.
After the Indian-Pakistani nuclear exchange… 
Five megatons of black carbon enter the atmosphere immediately. Black carbon comes from burned stuff and it absorbs heat from the sun before it can reach the Earth. Some black carbon does eventually falls back to Earth in rain. 
After one year, the average surface temperature of the Earth falls by 1.1 kelvin, or about two degrees Fahrenheit. After five years, the Earth is, on average, three degrees colder than it used to be. Twenty years on, our home planet warms again to about one degree cooler than the average before the nuclear war. 
Earth's falling temperatures reduces the amount of rain the planet receives. Year five after the war, Earth will have 9 percent less rain than usual. Year 26 after the war, Earth gets 4.5 percent less rain than before the war. 
In years 2-6 after the war, the frost-free growing season for crops is shortened by 10 to 40 days, depending on the region. 
Chemical reactions in the atmosphere eat away Earth's ozone layer, which protects Earth's inhabitants from ultraviolet radiation. In the five years after the war, the ozone is 20 to 25 percent thinner, on average. Ten years on, the ozone layer has recovered so that it's now 8 percent thinner. 
The decreased UV protection may lead to more sunburns and skin cancers in people, as well as reduced plant growth and destabilized DNA in crops such as corn. 
In a separate study, published in 2013, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War estimated 2 billion people would starve in the wake of a 100-A-bomb war. 

Okay, I know I've just made your day with this list. Still, there's a point to all this doom and gloom, the modelers write in their paper. The scientists want to motivate countries to destroy the estimated 17,000 nuclear weapons they still hold.

Multidecadal global cooling and unprecedented ozone loss following a regional nuclear conflict

Multidecadal global cooling and unprecedented ozone loss following a regional nuclear conflict

Michael J. Mills1,*, 
Owen B. Toon2, 
Julia Lee-Taylor1 and 
Alan Robock3 
Article first published online: 1 APR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/2013EF000205

© 2014 The Authors.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Earth's Future

Volume 2, Issue 4, pages 161–176, April


We present the first study of the global impacts of a regional nuclear war with an Earth system model including atmospheric chemistry, ocean dynamics, and interactive sea ice and land components. A limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan in which each side detonates 50 15 kt weapons could produce about 5 Tg of black carbon (BC). This would self-loft to the stratosphere, where it would spread globally, producing a sudden drop in surface temperatures and intense heating of the stratosphere. Using the Community Earth System Model with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, we calculate an e-folding time of 8.7 years for stratospheric BC compared to 4–6.5 years for previous studies. Our calculations show that global ozone losses of 20%–50% over populated areas, levels unprecedented in human history, would accompany the coldest average surface temperatures in the last 1000 years. We calculate summer enhancements in UV indices of 30%–80% over midlatitudes, suggesting widespread damage to human health, agriculture, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Killing frosts would reduce growing seasons by 10–40 days per year for 5 years. Surface temperatures would be reduced for more than 25 years due to thermal inertia and albedo effects in the ocean and expanded sea ice. The combined cooling and enhanced UV would put significant pressures on global food supplies and could trigger a global nuclear famine. Knowledge of the impacts of 100 small nuclear weapons should motivate the elimination of more than 17,000 nuclear weapons that exist today.

25 July 2014

Kargil panel: No checks & balances in Intelligence system


Status of KCR followup

The Kargil Committee Report (KCR) recommended sweeping changes in India's national security apparatus. While a few have been implemented, some critical requirements like having a Chief of Defence Staff are nowhere in sight.
The integration of the service headquarters with the MoD is not at the desired levels
A lot still needs to be done in the area of civil- military liaison

No headway in lateral induction of ex-servicemen into the para-military.
Defence Intelligence Agency created.
ON July 29, 1999, three days after the Kargil conflict officially ended, the then government, headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, set up a four-member, high-powered committee to analyse the situation. The terms of reference of the committee, headed by strategic analyst Late K Subrahmanyam, were to review the events leading up to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir, and to recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard national security against such armed intrusions. The other members were Lt Gen KK Hazari, former Vice Chief of Army Staff, senior journalist BG Verghese and Satish Chandra, then Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat. The committee had the authority to interview any person associated with the security establishment, including former presidents and prime minister and was given access to all classified documents and reports. The committee presented its findings and recommendations, christened From Surprise to Reckoning: The Kargil Committee Report (KCR), to Vajpayee in January 2000. Some of its key observations are:

Pakistan’s aggression came as a total surprise to the Indian government. Infiltration by armed irregulars was considered to be feasible in the area but not an intrusion and occupation of territory by Pakistani troops.

There were lapses in communication and dissemination of information between different intelligence agencies, which illustrate deficiencies in the system.

There were many bits and pieces of information about activities within the FCNA region. Most of them tended to indicate that Kargil was becoming a growing focus of Pakistani attention which had been clearly demonstrated by the marked increase in cross-LOC shelling in 1998. The reports on ammunition dumping, induction of additional guns and the construction of bunkers and helipads all fitted into an assessment of likely large-scale militant infiltration, with more intensive shelling in the summer of 1999. RAW assessed the possibility of "a limited swift offensive threat with possible support of alliance partners," in its half-yearly assessment ending September 1998 but no indicators substantiating this assessment were provided. Moreover, in its next six-monthly report ending March 1999, this assessment was dropped. In fact, its March 1999 report emphasised the financial constraints that would inhibit Pakistan from launching on any such adventure.

No specific indicators of a likely major attack in the Kargil sector such as significant improvements in logistics and communications or substantial force build-up or forward deployment of forces were reported by any of the agencies. Information on training of additional militants for infiltrating them across the LoC was not sector-specific. Indian intelligence appeared to lack adequate knowledge about the heavy damage inflicted by Indian artillery, which would have required Pakistan army to undertake considerable repairs and re-stocking. That would partly explain the larger vehicular movements reported on the other side. The Indian Army did not share information about the intensity and effect of its past firing with others. In the absence of this information, RAW could not correctly assess the significance of enemy activity in terms of ammunition storage or construction of underground bunkers.