20 January 2015

Can’t build it? just import it

Jan 19, 2015 

Delay in its projects leading to a steep escalation in cost has proved to be the bane of the DRDO. The delays have led to the country being left with no option but to equip the armed forces with expensive foreign equipment.

A report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence tabled in Parliament just last month let the cat out of the bag.

“The committee notes that there are about 530 ongoing projects in different DRDO labs and out of them 136 are in mission mode. Some of these include Agni IV, Agni V, Nirbhay cruise missile, K-15, Nag, Astra, AWACS, Arjun main battle tank, Tejas light combat aircraft, etc. The committee also note that out of 44 major ongoing projects (more than Rs 100 crore), there have been cost revisions and time revision in case of eight and 12 projects respectively. Besides, 10 projects are more than five years old i.e. sanctioned before 2009. Eighteen major projects (more than Rs 50 crore) were sanctioned during the 10th Five Year Plan (April 2002 to March 2007) but none has yet been completed. Two of them have been closed, five are awaiting closure and one under evaluation.

Out of 43 major projects (more than Rs 50 crore) initiated during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) none has reached completion.”“The committee notes that many projects including development of cargo ammunition, development of GPS based system as an alternative to fire direction radar, development of 30 mm fair weather towed AD gun system, development of 30 mm light towed AD gun system have been closed thus wasting a considerable amount of public money.”

A few years ago, the then Parliamentary Standing Committee had observed, “The committee is of the view that the delays in development of weapon systems, MBT Arjun, LCA II, Integrated Guide Missile Development Programme i.e. Prithvi, Akash, Trishul, Nag and Agni, Kaveri engine for the LCA etc., not only has caused significant loss of revenue but also delayed the timely procurement of weapon systems from foreign sources that were needed to keep the forces fighting fit and modernised.”

The Arjun was one of DRDO’s main “indigenous” projects, cleared by the government over four decades ago, in 1974. But the inordinate delay in its execution meant that the cost escalated from about `15 crore in 1974 to `306 crore a decade ago, drawing severe criticism for the DRDO.

The Army too was unhappy with the tanks during trials, citing several flaws such as “failure of power packs, low accuracy and consistency, failure of hydropneumatic suspension units, shearing of top rollers and chipping of gun barrels. But in the past few years, the DRDO has made several improvements and modifications that has resulted in the Army accepting 124 Arjun MBTs. The DRDO is also developing the more improved Mark-II version of the tank.

INDIA-PAKISTAN RELATIONS: HOSTAGE OF RAWALPINDI GHQ – ANALYSIS

By Alok Bansal

2014 ended with India-Pakistan relations hitting a new low, there have been allegations of cross border firings and even worse, Indian security forces have alleged that there have been attempts by Pakistan to push in terrorists through the sea routes, a replication of Mumbai.

As the year was coming to a close, a boat carrying suspicious cargo was intercepted off Gujarat coast and destroyed itself when challenged to stop. Sources have claimed that the crew on board had been in touch with Pakistan’s security forces. It appears as though the ties have hit rock bottom with the year coming to an end.

India-Pakistan relations have gone through a rollercoaster during 2014, which began with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif firmly in saddle, with a new Army Chief and Chief Justice. Like all other political leaders in Pakistan, Nawaz knew that Pakistan’s salvation lies in good relations with India. It would also help him to reduce the salience of the Pakistan Army, in the body politic of the state. He accordingly tried hard to improve trade relations with India.

The first two months witnessed lot of discussions on trade, including importing electricity through Amritsar. To bypass the terminology “Most Favoured Nation”- offensive to hardliners, a new term Non-discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) was coined and it appeared as if NDMA would be granted to India by Feb 15. However, the army ensured that this step, which had the potential to permanently change the dimension of India-Pakistan relations, never came about.

AFGHANS UNCONVINCED BY GHANI, 100 DAYS ON

By Noorrahman Rahmani


One hundred days after Mohammad Ashraf Ghani came to power, Afghans feel betrayed and dissatisfied with his performance so far. They say the compromises their new president has made could be devastating for Afghanistan and the future of its fledgling democracy.

Most of the several dozen Kabul residents interviewed across the capital say that in his first 100 days in office, the new president has done the opposite of what he promised before he was elected.

As part of his election bid, Ghani set out an ambitious programme of actions he would take during his first 100 days. But as that expired, a web-based initiative called Sad Roz, which means “100 Days”, set up to monitor the Ghani administration’s performance, said that of the 110 election promises, only four had been fulfilled, 23 were in progress, and work on the remaining 83 had not even started.

“During campaigning, he said he would not create a ‘corporation’ where ministerial jobs and other senior posts were distributed to various political factions as was the case during his predecessor’s time; instead, ministers would be chosen based on merit and qualifications,” said Shapur Ahmad, 27, a Kabul university student. “But the recent announcement of the cabinet members, which took him more than 100 days, showed that he’s worse than his predecessor in terms of bringing unqualified people and those associated with war criminals to power.

Protesting in Pakistan

January 17, 2015

Mohammad Jibran Nasir is a young Pakistani activist from Karachi, leading the popular#ReclaimYourMosques campaign in Pakistan after the brutal Peshawar attack in which more than 130 children were killed in cold blood by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Nasir’s movement was initiated after the Lal Masjid’s imam, Abdul Aziz, refused to condemn the atrocity on a local channel. The staging of protests outside the mosque with Pakistan’s civil society was followed by the lodging of a First Information Report (FIR, a police complaint) against Aziz. Nasir vows to continue his campaign until Aziz is arrested. Jibran’s Abdul Aziz Challenge – in which Pakistanis urge the government to arrest the cleric – has gained momentum via social media.

In an exclusive with The Diplomat, Nasir speaks about the power of social media for change, his movement, and the way forward.

You were in the capital when the Peshawar attack took place; please run me through the day’s events leading up to your call of action for the Pakistani civil society to come together and protest outside the Lal Masjid [Red Mosque] in a bid to get Aziz arrested.

I was coincidentally in Islamabad a day before the Peshawar attack for a conference, and when I learned about the attack I thought I’d stay on in Islamabad because I wanted to go to Peshawar the following day and see if I could be a part of anything organized there. But the same night Abdul Aziz was on television saying the most absurd and perverse things. So the following day there was a vigil in Islamabad that I went to. I’d never been to the Lal Masjid before and I asked everyone at the vigil why not go to the Lal Masjid and have a vigil over there because you need to raise your voice and let those people know that those children who died in Peshawar are dear to us and that we don’t have any room for Taliban apologists. Only three women volunteered to come along with me in addition to a friend of mine, so the five of us went and held a small vigil there. I then posted a picture on Facebook and made a Facebook event for the following day. A lot of people showed up and that is how the movement started.

CENTCOM deputy gives grade of B+ to military effort against Islamic State

By Howard Altman
January 16, 2015


Speaking to an audience full of University of South Florida academics and students, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command was asked to grade military efforts to date against the Sunni insurgent group Islamic State.

"B-plus," said Mark Fox, the first of seven speakers addressing the issue of extremism in the Middle East at a conference put on by the USF Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies.

But Fox, who took the No. 2 slot at the MacDill Air Force Base headquarters command back in August 2013, offered a caveat during his conversation with Mohsen Milani, the center's executive director.

"We can be absolutely successful at the tactical and operational level, but let me go back," said Fox. "When the U.S. left Iraq, we had no forces in Iraq after 2011. That was a policy decision, driven by the Iraqi government, which did not want us to stay, and a political sense that it was time for us to leave. The military advice that was given was not implemented. That was the way it was."

Fast forward to the summer, said Fox.

"We went back and checked on a number of Iraqi Security Forces," he said. "Many had not had effective training since we left, so there was a lot of dry rot. And there was a lot of cronyism. So (former prime minister Nouri al-) Maliki was not effective in terms of creating a cohesive society."

EU ANTI-TERRORIST MEASURES GO IN ALL DIRECTIONS – ANALYSIS


(EurActiv) — EU member states have reacted in different ways to the security threat highlighted by the Paris terrorist attacks, pointing to how difficult it would be to put in place a common European response to the challenge. The EurActiv network reports.

EU ministers are devising ways to respond to the Paris killings, which range from the confiscation of travel documents of people considered dangerous, to speeding up agreements for the exchange of traffic data of passengers, and strengthening, or reforming the borderless Schengen Area.

The European Commission is reluctant to take a leading role, saying that only member countries are equipped with intelligence services and can assess the security threat. What follows is an overview of measures taken in across the bloc.
France

In France, military forces and police are “everywhere” since 7 January, when the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo took place. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that 122,000 law enforcement personnel were tasked with the protection of the French population.

The Ministry of Defense decided to deploy 10,500 soldiers to sensitive areas, with nearly half of them assigned to the protection of the country’s 717 Jewish schools. In front of each of these schools, military vehicles are stationed, along with several armed soldiers.

China stole plans for a new fighter plane, spy documents have revealed

Philip Dorling 
January 18, 2015 


Chinese spies stole key design information about Australia's new Joint Strike Fighter, according to top secret documents disclosed by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. 

German magazine Der Spiegel has published new disclosures of signals intelligence collected by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and its "Five Eyes" partners, including the Australian Signals Directorate. The intelligence reveals new details of the directorate's efforts to track and combat Chinese cyber-espionage. 

According to a top secret NSA presentation, Chinese cyber spies have stolen huge volumes of sensitive military information, including "many terabytes of data" relating to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) - also known as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. 

China’s New DF-21 Nuclear Missiles Deployed to Mountain Launch Sites in Northeastern China

January 18, 2015 

China’s Dong-Feng 21 ballistic missile may have been deployed at the Changbai Mountains in the northeastern region of the country as a deterrent against Japan and Taiwan, reports the International Herald Leader, a newspaper under the auspices of the official news agency Xinhua.

Before the New Year, state broadcaster CCTV aired footage of a major People’s Liberation Army winter drill which revealed a missile transportation vehicle of the Second Artillery Corps, the PLA’s strategic missile division. Military analysts believe the vehicle was carrying the DF-21, a two-stage, solid-propellant, single-warhead medium-range ballistic missile developed by the China Changfeng Mechanics and Electronics Technology Academy.

Based on other publicly available information, analysts speculate that the DF-21’s launch position is now situated in the Changbai Mountains, along China’s border with North Korea.

Photos released publicly by the PLA reveal that the DF-21’s current missile launch position lies in a place that recently experienced significant snowfall. This is believed to match up with cold weather warning reports in northeast China between Dec. 25 and 27. The types of trees depicted in the photos are also said to be found predominantly in the Changbai range.

More importantly, military experts say the Changbai Mountains is the only place in China from which the DF-21 can cover all key targets in Japan. In the event of a maritime conflict with Japan, Chinese experts say the DF-21 will be able to effectively seal off entry and exit points in the Sea of Japan, allowing the PLA to make up for relative weakness in naval power.

China in Africa One among many



ACROSS Africa, radio call-in programmes are buzzing with tales of Africans, usually men, bemoaning the loss of their spouses and partners to rich Chinese men. “He looks short and ugly like a pygmy but I guess he has money,” complained one lovelorn man on a recent Kenyan show. True or imagined, such stories say much about the perceived economic power of Chinese businessmen in Africa, and of the growing backlash against them.

China has become by far Africa’s biggest trading partner, exchanging about $160 billion-worth of goods a year; more than 1m Chinese, most of them labourers and traders, have moved to the continent in the past decade. The mutual adoration between governments continues, with ever more African roads and mines built by Chinese firms. But the talk of Africa becoming Chinese—or “China’s second continent”, as the title of one American book puts it—is overdone.

The African boom, which China helped to stoke in recent years, is attracting many other investors. The non-Western ones compete especially fiercely. African trade with India is projected to reach $100 billion this year. It is growing at a faster rate than Chinese trade, and is likely to overtake trade with America. Brazil and Turkey are superseding many European countries. In terms of investment in Africa, though, China lags behind Britain, America and Italy (see charts).

It’s On: Asia’s New Space Race

James Clay Moltz
01.17.15



While NASA and the European Space Agency gets most of the world’s attention, China, Japan and India are racing for the heavens.

The general public in the West largely views the exploration of space as dominated by the United States and perhaps Russia. Sometimes, as in the case of the Rosettamission, they may give thought to Europe’s capabilities. Few people think of India when it comes to missions to Mars, but popular joy erupted across India in September 2014 after its Mangalyaan scientific spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around the red planet. One Indian reader responded to the story on a major online news outlet by posting: “It is [a] moment of pride as India becomes [the] 1stAsian nation to reach Mars.” And understood to all Indian readers was the point that China had—after a series of Asian firsts in space—finally been surpassed. 

Since China’s first human spaceflight in 2003 and its threatening anti-satellite test in 2007, Asia has seen a surge in space activity, with budgets increasing rapidly across the region. While few officials admit to the term, a “space race” is emerging in Asia

China and Japan's Great Clash over the Senkakus

January 18, 2015 


Within the pages of the National Interest, I have had the privilege of being part of a recent discussion about the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea with Robert Manning and Ryan Scoville, two very accomplished and fair-minded scholars. After my earlier article, “A Six-Point Plan to Solve the Senkaku Island Dispute,” published on December 29 and summarizing an earlier essay that Akikazu Hashimoto, Wu Xinbo and I had penned, Robert Manning rebutted our argument in a post earlier this month. Ryan Scovillethen wrote an article partly in response to my earlier piece.

I would like to respond briefly to the central argument of both Manning and Scoville. I disagree fundamentally with neither. But I stand by my guns, and our earlier argument, that a balanced proposal for trying to solve the island dispute can be a constructive force in the current Japan-China relationship.

In brief, Manning argues that history, national pride, and honor of the type that Thucydides wrote about millennia ago in regard to Athens and Sparta would prevent Tokyo and Beijing from responding favorably to any rationalist plan that treated the island issue as a simple, straightforward disagreement over relatively small and unimportant land formations. Manning claimed that the difficulties in the complex Japanese-Chinese relationship, with all of its baggage and tensions today, would trump any analytical attempt to cleverly bridge the divide between these two countries through a form of arbitration. His advice was to manage the problem and try to cool it down rather than to go for a Hail Mary attempt at solving it.

ISIS Looks for Foothold in Central Asia

By Shawn Snow
January 18, 2015

A video has recently surfaced in Tajikistan of Tajik ISIS militants calling for jihad against the central government. The video has been condemned by the Islamic Center of Tajikistan (ICT), an organization that works in conjunction with the Tajik government and controls the country’s Imams. The ICT stated ,”How is it possible to wage jihad in a state whose population is 99 percent Muslim? With whom do they want to wage jihad?” The video is part of a series of efforts by ISIS militants to gain a foothold in the Fergana Valley.

The Fergana Valley represents a melting pot of Islamic militant groups, but this was not always the case. Sufism, a more moderate form of Islam, once dominated in the Central Asian region. However, oppressive tactics against Muslim groups by Soviet security forces eventually gave rise to Salafism, a more conservative form of Islam.

The power vacuum created by the collapse of the Soviet Union bolstered the rise of Islamic extremist groups. Aided by the mountainous geographic terrain, a natural buffer against Chinese and Russian influence and control, these semi-autonomous organizations were given the space to grow. Regional governments have had a difficult time reigning them in and maintaining a monopoly of force.

Is Corruption Within the PLA Diminishing China’s Military Preparedness?

January 18, 2015

On January 15, Chinese officials announced on China Military Online the names of 16 senior military officers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who were under investigation for “seriously violating party discipline,” a euphemism for accusations of graft. The Global Times notes that the officers under investigation are at the corps level and above and include one general, four lieutenant generals, nine major generals, and one senior colonel.

In July 2014, The Diplomat reported on the indictments of Chinese general Xu Caihou, the former Vice-Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, and Gu Junshan, Deputy Head of the PLA General Logistics Department, considered the most corrupt of all PLA departments. Xu so far, has been the most senior military officer investigated in President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign.

As my colleague Shannon Tiezzi pointed out, one of the reasons for this growing focus on investigating the PLA leadership is a genuine concern by Party officials that corruption can undermine the military preparedness of China’s armed forces. Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption efforts appear to be linked to overcoming parochial interests within the PLA leadership, and to (forcefully) garner support for much needed military reforms. However, as previously noted by The Diplomat, the Chinese president has to be careful not to overplay his hand.

In November 2013, during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Party, Xi Jinping announced the most sweeping and ambitious military reform plan in more than three decades. The principle objective behind these reform efforts is to increase the warfighting capabilities of the PLA. The PLA still lags other major military powers in many aspects, such as modern joint command systems, joint forces interoperability, modern unit training, and the modernization of military equipment.

CHARLIE HEBDO: SOME TOUGH QUANDARIES – ANALYSIS

By Boaventura de Sousa Santos


The heinous nature of the crime against the journalists and cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo makes it extremely difficult to offer a cool-headed analysis of what is entailed in this barbaric act, its context and precedents, as well as its impact and future repercussions. Still an analysis is urgently needed, lest we fan the flames of a fire that one of these days may well hit our children’s schools, our homes, our institutions and our consciences. Here are some thoughts towards that analysis.

THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM: TORTURE AND DEMOCRACY

One cannot draw a direct connection between the Charlie Hebdo tragedy and the fight against terrorism waged by the US and its allies since September 11, 2001. It is a known fact, however, that the West’s extreme aggressiveness has caused the death of many thousands of innocent civilians (mostly Muslims) and inflicted astounding levels of violence and torture on young Muslims against whom all suspicions of wrongdoing are speculative at best, as attested to by the report recently submitted to the US Congress. It is also well known that many young Islamic radicals claim that their radicalisation stems from their anger at all that unredressed violence.

In view of this, we must stop and consider whether the best way to bring the spiral of violence to a halt is to pursue the same policies that have driven it so far, as has now become all too evident. The French response to the attack shows that democratic, constitutional normalcy is now suspended and an undeclared state of siege is in place; that this type of criminal should be shot dead rather than incarcerated and brought to justice, and that such behaviour in no way seems to contradict Western values. We have entered a phase of low-intensity civil war. Who in Europe stands to gain from it? Certainly not the Podemos party in Spain, nor Greece’s Syriza.

Israel Targets Japan in ‘Look East’

By Alvite Ningthoujam
January 19, 2015

Israel has been busy of late, strengthening its ties with East Asia, and Japan is no exception. The flurry of diplomatic initiatives by both countries come after a period of prolonged silence. While the magnitude of cooperation with Tokyo is not on a par with that of Israel’s engagements with China and South Korea, emerging developments may well take the bilateral ties to a new level.

Israel’s rapidly rising importance to Japan has come at an opportune time for Tel Aviv, with an evident decline in the strength of its ties with the European Union and its major partner, the United States. In the Middle East too, there has been a further widening of Israel’s isolation, particularly after the Gaza crisis last summer.

How to explain the warming of relations between Israel and Japan? There are several factors. From Japan’s perspective, stepping up cooperation with Israel has been a priority for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Tokyo wants to benefit from Israel’s military industries in enhancing its defense capabilities, particularly against anincreasingly defiant North Korea. Another enticing factor is Israel’s continuing stability at a time of turbulence in the Arab world that began with the uprisings in late 2010. For Japan, Israel appears an attractive partner. The more positive sentiment towards Israel in East Asia has meanwhile encouraged Tel Aviv to give more attention to this part of the world, and particularly the world’s third largest economy.

World Bank Warns on Global Growth

January 17, 2015

The World Bank has cut its global growth forecasts again for 2015, warning of further downside risks despite the benefit of cheaper oil. However, mixed fortunes are seen for Asia’s biggest economies, with growth slowing in China but accelerating in Japan and India.

In its latest “Global Economic Prospects” report, the Washington-based lender said it expected the world economy to expand by 3 percent this year, up from a “disappointing” 2.6 percent in 2014. Growth is forecast to improve next year, rising to an estimated 3.3 percent, according to the twice-yearly report.

Developing countries expanded by 4.4 percent last year and are expected to post 4.8 percent growth in 2015, rising to 5.3 percent next year, the bank said.

Nevertheless, the latest estimates reflect another downgrade to the bank’s 2015 growth forecasts. In October, it predicted 3.2 percent global growth this year, itself another cut from its 3.4 percent forecast made in June.

Underlying the weaker forecasts is an increasing divergence between the global economy’s winners and losers. The United States is back in the box seat as the world economy’s major driving force, but the eurozone and Japan continue to move slowly out of recession.

Pro-Moscow Rebels Claim to Have Captured Donetsk Airport From the Ukrainian Army

New York Times
January 17, 2015

MOSCOW — Leaders of a Russian-backed rebel movement in eastern Ukraine claimed on Friday to have captured the Donetsk city airport, a symbolically important and long-sought prize, although central government officials denied this was the case.

A senior leader for the rebels, the pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic, described the fight as the start of a new offensive to push Ukraine out of the east.

Despite a cease-fire that was signed on Sept. 5, the sides have fought in the rubble of the airport terminals for months. The rebels have repeatedly claimed to have captured the site, even though Ukrainian forces have been able to hold onto pockets inside the terminal. A major escalation in shelling preceded the latest claim.

If the claim is true, it would signal the first significant territorial advance by the rebels since the signing of the cease-fire pact.

The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle

By Jacob Appelbaum


The NSA's mass surveillance is just the beginning. Documents from Edward Snowden show that the intelligence agency is arming America for future digital wars -- a struggle for control of the Internet that is already well underway.

Normally, internship applicants need to have polished resumes, with volunteer work on social projects considered a plus. But at Politerain, the job posting calls for candidates with significantly different skill sets. We are, the ad says, "looking for interns who want to break things."

Politerain is not a project associated with a conventional company. It is run by a US government intelligence organization, the National Security Agency (NSA). More precisely, it's operated by the NSA's digital snipers with Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the department responsible for breaking into computers.

Potential interns are also told that research into third party computers might include plans to "remotely degrade or destroy opponent computers, routers, servers and network enabled devices by attacking the hardware." Using a program called Passionatepolka, for example, they may be asked to "remotely brick network cards." With programs like Berserkr they would implant "persistent backdoors" and "parasitic drivers". Using another piece of software called Barnfire, they would "erase the BIOS on a brand of servers that act as a backbone to many rival governments."

French Prime Minister: 'I Refuse to Use This Term Islamophobia'

JAN 16 2015,

The prime minister of France, Manuel Valls, has emerged over the past tumultuous week as one of the West’s most vocal foes of Islamism, though he’s actually been talking about the threat it poses for a long while. During the course of an interview conducted before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, he told me—he went out of his way to tell me, in fact—that he refuses to use the term 'Islamophobia' to describe the phenomenon of anti-Muslim prejudice, because, he says, the accusation of Islamophobia is often used as a weapon by Islamism's apologists to silence their critics.

Most of my conversation with Valls was focused on the fragile state of French Jewry—here is my post on his comments, which included the now-widely circulated statement that, “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France”—and I didn’t realize the importance of his comment about Islamophobia until I re-read the transcript of our interview.

“It is very important to make clear to people that Islam has nothing to do with ISIS,” Valls told me. “There is a prejudice in society about this, but on the other hand, I refuse to use this term 'Islamophobia,' because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of 'Islamophobia' is used to silence people. ”

On Russia’s New Military Doctrine

Joshua Noonan
January 17, 2015 

On 26 December 2014, the Russian Federation released its newest military doctrine. This doctrine has shifted five times since the collapse of the USSR, changing twice in the first years of the country under President Boris Yeltsin seeing a simulacrum of Soviet military doctrine and then three times under the Presidency of Vladimir Putin with more dramatic changes following each iteration of policy showing the restoration of Russia’s initiative to act, the hubris that followed, and the nemesis of the current standoff and economic hardship.

In 2000, territorial integrity, Russia’s role in conflict mediation, a privileged sphere of influence in its “near abroad”, as well as the desire for Russia to participate as a pole in an emerging multipolar global order. In 2010, the focus shifted from a massive NATO-led attack to specific threats the of anti-ballistic missile systems to Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, NATO’s encroachment on Russia’s borders, color revolutions as a source of destabilization, and the violation of the UN charter in actions against states such as Iraq. These were driven by the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, theOrange, Rose, and Tulip revolutions, and the proposed placement of anti-ballistic missile systems inPoland and the Czech Republic. 2010 was the first time that the Russian federation stated that they reserve the right to use nuclear weapons against an existential conventional attack against the Russian Federation. The later of these policy developments was foreshadowed by the 2009 simulated nuclear strike on Warsaw by war-gaming Russian and Belorussian forces in “Operation West”.

The 2014 doctrine was published in light of the annexation of Crimea, the Ukraine conflict breaking-out again, and the paranoia of color revolutions continuing throughout the post-Soviet space. In the 2014 document, US military attempts to expand superiority via platforms such as global strike and space weapons were singled out as a threat to strategic stability. Another focus of the document was the highlighting of subversive elements seeking to undermine youth in Russia. Dovetailing with the Russian foreign agent act of 2012, foreign actors i.e. NGOs and military special forces via hybrid warfare were seen as a serious threat.

Tracking British Jihadis in Iraq and Syria by Monitoring Their Twitter and Facebook Postings

Mark Townsend 
January 18, 2015 

A Facebook posting by Collin Gordon, one of the 700 or so western fighters for Isis in the database at King’s College London. He is thought to have died last month with his brother, Gregory, during fighting in Dabiq. 

Another Briton had died in Syria, and back in London investigators were busy “scraping” through his online peer network for clues about fellow Islamic State (Isis) foot soldiers.

It was little surprise that Rhonan Malik knew two Canadian brothers, Gregory and Collin Gordon. After all, Twitter rumours suggested that all three had been killed in the same December air strike. More intriguing was the prodigious Facebookpresence of Collin Gordon which indicated that, shortly before becoming a jihadist, he had been “quite the party boy”.

On a labyrinthine upper floor of King’s College London is the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), the first global initiative of its type, whose offices are frequently contacted by counter-terrorism officers, hungry for information on the continuing flow of Britons to the ranks of Isis.

At 4.30pm on Thursday the centre’s researchers were assiduously examining social media “accounts of value”, noting the ongoing ripples of jubilation following the Charlie Hebdo and Paris attacks. A pseudonymous jihadist from Manchester, Abu QaQa, had said that the shootings had persuaded Isis and al-Qaida supporters to bury their differences.

Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

OLIMPIA ZAGNOLI 
JANUARY 16, 2015 

ENDLESS meetings that do little but waste everyone’s time. Dysfunctional committees that take two steps back for every one forward. Project teams that engage in wishful groupthinking rather than honest analysis. Everyone who is part of an organization — a company, a nonprofit, a condo board — has experienced these and other pathologies that can occur when human beings try to work together in groups.

But does teamwork have to be a lost cause? Psychologists have been working on the problem for a long time. And for good reason: Nowadays, though we may still idolize the charismatic leader or creative genius, almost every decision of consequence is made by a group. When Facebook’s board of directors establishes a privacy policy, when the C.I.A.’s operatives strike a suspected terrorist hide-out or when a jury decides whether to convict a defendant, what matters is not just the intelligence and wisdom of the individual actors involved. Groups of smart people can make horrible decisions — or great ones.

Psychologists have known for a century that individuals vary in their cognitive ability. But are some groups, like some people, reliably smarter than others?

Working with several colleagues and students, we set out to answer that question. In our first two studies, which we published with Alex Pentland and Nada Hashmi of M.I.T. in 2010 in the journal Science, we grouped 697 volunteer participants into teams of two to five members. Each team worked together to complete a series of short tasks, which were selected to represent the varied kinds of problems that groups are called upon to solve in the real world. One task involved logical analysis, another brainstorming; others emphasized coordination, planning and moral reasoning.

NEEDED: AN INTERNATIONAL CYBER TREATY

By Joseph R DeTrani
January 18, 2015

On August 1, 2013 I was invited to give the keynote address at the annual Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. What I presented 17 months ago, which wasn’t received too warmly, is relevant today, given the latest cyber hacking attack on Sony Pictures and the numerous previous attacks on JP Morgan Chase, Target, Home Depot and other civilian and government entities.

The reality is that in cyberspace there are many actors, from thrill-seeking teenagers to criminal gangs to more than one hundred nation states that have military and intelligence cyber warfare

units. The internet has over two billion users, traveling across a network owned by an array of businesses, with over 5,000 internet service providers that carry data around the world.

Thus cyberspace is a man-made domain of technological commerce and communications, with no operative international protocols and enforcement procedures to ensure that the internet is used for peaceful purposes and not for criminal, terrorist or warfare purposes.

The following is a condensed version of my August 1, 2013 presentation to the Def Con hacking conference, arguing for an international dialogue to establish a cyber treaty:

Cyber is a major national security threat, growing in scope, with direct impact to the economic, domestic and defense interests of the nation. From hacktivists with a politically or socially-motivated agenda, to criminals, to state and non-state actors who view cyber intrusions and attacks as means of economic advancement through theft of intellectual property, or espionage, or – in the most extreme case – as a potential weapon of mass destruction (WMD), the cyber domain now shares some of the same issues I have addressed in my years of working WMD issues.

Army Modernisation Plan Adversely Hit as Budget Cut by Rs. 5,000 crore

18 Jan , 2015


Modernisation of the Indian Defence Forces is a continuous process based on threat perception, operational challenges, technological changes and available sources. The process is based on a 15 Year Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), Five Year Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) and an Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP). Procurement of equipment and weapon systems is carried out as per the AAP in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has cleared a total of 41 proposals since June 2014, said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written statement in Rajya Sabha.

…the Army’s plan to modernise its arsenal with the latest weaponry has taken a beating as the Finance Ministry has recently cut the budget by almost about Rs 5,000 crore, leaving that much less money to make fresh purchases.

Unfortunately, the Army’s plan to modernise its arsenal with the latest weaponry has taken a beating as the Finance Ministry has recently cut the budget by almost about Rs 5,000 crore, leaving that much less money to make fresh purchases.

The 1964 Crash of a B-52 Bomber Carrying 2 Live Nuclear Weapons

Tom Demerly
January 17, 2015

0138 (Local) Romeo Time Zone (UTC-5:00). 13 January, 1964. USAF B-52D Stratofortress Callsign “Buzz 14”, Flight Level 295 over Savage Mountain, Maryland.

Major Tom McCormick, USAF, can barely see.

Whiteout conditions and buffeting winds at 29,500 feet are so bad he radios Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZOB) for clearance to change altitude to flight level 330, or 33,000 feet. He is trying to get his B-52 bomber above the freak winter blizzard.

“Cleveland Control, this is Air Force Buzz one-four, request climb to level three-three-zero. Weather, over…”

“Roger Buzz one-four, this is Cleveland Control. Ahhh… Please stand by.”

As with the tragic crash of the AirAsia Airbus A320 flight QZ8501 over the Java Sea two weeks ago McCormick’s big bomber must find clean, stable air or risk breaking up, stalling and falling out of the sky. But unlike an airliner over turbulent seas McCormick’s two passengers are far more crucial. And deadly.


Buzz 14 is carrying two live, 9 mega-ton B53 thermonuclear bombs. They are among the largest nuclear bombs in the U.S. arsenal. This warhead also rides atop the giant Titan II ICBM, a ballistic missile designed for smashing secret Soviet underground installations and wiping out Russian cities. And Buzz 14 is carrying them over the eastern United States.

Why Ukrainian Troops Are Calling the Donetsk Airport Siege ‘Stalingrad’

by ROBERT BECKHUSEN

There’s been a violent escalation in the battle for Donetsk International Airport in Eastern Ukraine. The fighting is terrible and carried out in close quarters—and it’s not clear who’s in control.


Russian-backed separatists have besieged Ukrainian troops inside the airport for months. On Jan. 16, the separatists claimed to have driven most of the remaining Ukrainians out of its vast terminal building. The iconic control tower—ridden with holes from artillery fire—collapsed during the recent fighting.

According to The New York Times, the separatists raised their flag over the terminal, and appeared to have largely won the battle. Only a few isolated pockets of “cyborgs”—a slang term for the Ukrainian defenders—remained inside.

But on Jan. 18, the Ukrainian army claimed it retook the lost territory up to a previously-agreed ceasefire line—although this ceasefire is hardly respected by either side.

Iran’s Air Defense Drones Probably Aren’t Very Good at Air Defense

 ADAM RAWNSLEY

Iran’s military is assigning a new and unorthodox mission to its fast-expanding fleet of aerial drones—air defense. That is, engaging enemy planes from the air.

Now, whether Tehran’s robots can actually do that job is an open question. The world’s other military drone operators have been reluctant to assign such a difficult task to unmanned aircraft.

Indeed, it’s likely Iran’s air-defense drones are mostly targets … or merely propaganda.

Iran’s armed forces have been using drones since the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Tehran’s Air Defense Force, however, is a relative newcomer to unmanned technologies.

The Air Defense Force stood up in 2009 to help defend a handful of strategic sites from foreign air power—a nod to the growing tension over Iran’s nuclear program and the looming threat of Western air strikes.

Officially, the Air Defense Force didn’t announce its move into unmanned technologies until three years later, when Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili—the ADF commander—told reporters covering the 2012 National Day of Air Defense that he planned to integrate drones into his force.

The Hazem drone, announced in October 2012, became the first public symbol of that move. Although Esmaili insisted that the Hazem drone was meant “for specific and strategic goals,” the aircraft is actually a modest tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

How the U.S. Army Plans to Defeat the Unthinkable: Drone Swarms

January 18, 2015 


Drones were great for a while, as long as it was only the U.S. military that used them. Now the Pentagon is waking up to the possibility that potential enemies like China, Iran and North Korea might use them against America.

But it's not just drones that are the threat. It's swarms of drones, perhaps tens or dozens or hundreds, spying or striking at U.S. troops. A poor man's form of asymmetric warfare capitalizing on the simple fact that you can strap a camera or a bomb to a $300 flying robot that a 10-year-old can operate.

China and Russia have drones. Iran claims to have developed a whole family of them, including an alleged stealth drone and a "kamikaze" drone. Iran also loves swarm tactics. It plans to swarm U.S. Navy warships with floating waves of armed speedboats or overwhelm American tanks withhordes of anti-tank motorcycles.

For U.S. forces spoiled by 70 years of unchallenged superiority, it will come as a rude shock that the skies are not friendly. Hence the U.S. Army is asking for ways to detect and destroy drones.

Creeping Fascism in the (un?)American Air Force?

by Tony Carr 
January 17, 2015 

Last week, a 2-star Air Force general reportedly accused some of his own people of treason. Not because they were cowardly in the face of adversaries or gave aid and comfort to the enemy, but because they dared to speak to their own congressional representatives about the direction of the defense budget. The comments, delivered in the midst of a failed, flawed, but relentless effort by the service to retire the A-10 against the best advice of many of its own people, raises an important question: does the Air Force see itself as an extension of a free society or an extremist and intolerant world apart?

Before we explore one possible answer to that question, a few propositions as to why this general’s actions are much more important and distressing than the Air Force’s languid response would indicate.

The United States Air Force cannot thrive if it doesn’t reflect the nation it serves. It can’t just be a badass warfighting service. That’s not enough and has never been enough. It must also uphold the values it fights to vindicate. Why? Because otherwise, we end up with war unmoored from the moral foundations that gave rise to it being fought in the first place. We know from our own history how slippery war’s moral slope can be. How easily we can slide into oblivion after having begun with a righteous cause.

But there’s an even more important reason: the Air Force is not a moral or ethical island, but a public agency of the United States, subject to its laws, and peopled by Americans. To expect that it could advance American interests without conforming to American traditions is to beg absurdity.

Tools of the Trade A Lieutenant’s Life Lessons in Leadership, Part II


“There I was, no shit… “

There’s an old adage that all good war stories begin with those five words. This story is no different. It begins on a summer day in 1989, in a maintenance shop on the far side of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where I was busy combing through a deadline report when a line of warrant officers filed by the shop counter, bound for the exit.

“Where are you guys headed?” I asked.

“WOLT,” the CW4 leading the group responded, moving on by as if this was an everyday occurrence.

As they passed through the exit and down the stairs into the hot morning sun, I looked over to my maintenance control sergeant, a newly-promoted master sergeant who until recently had been my platoon sergeant.

“WOLT?” I asked. “What the hell is ‘WOLT’?”

“Warrant Officer Lunch Time,” he replied flatly.

“It’s only 1100,” I answered. “Isn't that a little early?”

“They're warrant officers, L-T, what do you expect?” Good point.