20 June 2015

The Line That America Shouldn't Cross in the South China Sea

June 18, 2015 

"[I]f the United States insists on publicly denying and routinely penetrating the 12-nm lines, China simply cannot bear the costs of inaction."

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently proposed more-assertive military options for the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea (SCS). The new policy would dispatch U.S. naval ships to within 12 nautical miles (nm) of China-controlled reefs, currently being "upgraded" into islands, and conduct flyovers with navy surveillance aircraft.

Crossing the 12-nm Line: From Sinking Costs to Tying Hands

Several days later, a face-off between the two militaries occurred. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army/Navy (PLAN) issued warnings when a U.S. P-8 Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft flew over China-controlled artificial islands. It is not clear whether this will become a sustained pattern. It is particularly worth noting whether the U.S. naval vessels will cross the 12nm line. A warship cruising close to the man-made islands is a much stronger signal and a more real threat, at least in the eyes of the public, compared to a surveillance or anti-submarine plane flying over at 15,000 feet. Whatever the outcome, Secretary Carter's proposal demonstrates that the U.S. military is considering a critical shift in its SCS bargaining strategy, shifting from sinking costs to tying hands.

White-Coat Warriors: China's Heroic Fight against Ebola

June 18, 2015 

The news cycle has moved at a ferocious pace over the last several years as our attention has been sequentially riveted by predicament after unexpected predicament: from the Arab Spring to Putin’s annexation of Crimea, from the rise of ISIS to China’s extensive land reclamation on reefs in the South China Sea. As the pace of news, coupled with new social media technologies that further hype the new “trending story,” many foreign policy analysts can be forgiven for complaining of severe whiplash at the rapid turn of events. 

One storyline that seems to have been precipitously dropped by the media (with only few exceptions) concerns the Ebola Crisis in West Africa. It’s easy to forget that this issue was the dominant news theme last summer and fall.

In September 2014, the Centers for Disease Control offered the dire, worst case prediction that as many as 1.4 million people in West Africa could be infected by January 2015. Some have faulted the U.S. response as coming too late to help the approximately 11,000 victims of the terrible disease. 

WHY AMERICA’S DEMOCRATIC ALLIES ARE THE BEST BET AGAINST A RISING CHINA

June 18, 2015 

The perennial debate over how to deal with a rising China was recently sparked again following revelations that China is nearing completion of an airstrip in the disputed Spratly Islands. The construction of the airstrip, along with wider dredging operations in the Spratlys, is just one part of China’s attempt to assert its dominance over the South China Sea. American concerns regarding an increasingly powerful and ambitious China are certainly nothing new. Yet, developments like those in the Spratlys seem to have recently taken on an increased significance, as China continues to close the power gap with the United States. America’s democratic allies in the region, however, may hold the key to deterring future conflict with China.

'Active Defence': China’s Body Language is Aggressive

By Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal
16 Jun , 2015

China released its tenth biennial White Paper on National Defence in the last week of May 2015. Entitled “China’s Military Strategy”, this is the first White Paper that focusses on a specific aspect of national security unlike the previous ones that were about objectives, force levels, training and military modernisation.

According to the 2015 White Paper, China will follow a strategy of ‘active defence’. Clarifying the meaning of the term active defence, Senior Colonel Zhang Yuguo, from the General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said at the press conference during which the White Paper was released, “Some countries adopt pre-emptive strategies, emphasising preventive intervention and taking initiative in attack… Being ‘active’ is only a kind of means and ‘defence’ is our fundamental purpose.”

China Talks of Peace, but its Body Language is Aggressive

Economic Statecraft: American Economic Power and the New Face of Financial Warfare

Elizabeth Rosenberg, Zachary K. Goldman 
JUNE 17, 2015 


Energy, Economics, and Security Program Director Elizabeth Rosenberg and Zachary K. Goldman, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at CNAS, describe challenges associated with the increasing use of coercive economic measures to tackle security challenges. These challenges include both changes to the structure of international financial system that might make it harder to use these tools in the future and a degradation of these measures’ integrity and availability derived from court contests, among other factors. The authors recommend principles by which the United States and its allies can keep these measures sharp, nimble, and effective in countering adversaries and threats in the future. 

ISIS's New 'How to Survive in the West Handbook' is Really Dumb

June 17, 2015

There’s a book floating around social media called How to Survive in the West: A Mujahid Guide. The 70 page PDF details how a budding Western extremist can survive and thrive in hostile territory. It lays out advice on how to search the Internet privately, how to shoot and how to fight.

“This book is a guide for the Muslims who are living in a majority non Muslim land,” the book explained. “It will teach you how to be a secret Agent who lives a double life, something Muslims will have to do to survive in the coming years.”

Various news outlets such as Breitbart reported that Islamic State had released the guide. That’s terrifying, if true. The idea that Islamic State is training moles to move through the West and tear it down from the inside should frighten everyone. But a close reading of How to Survive in the West should calm those fears.

How to Defeat ISIS With Millennial Spirit and Service



Terrorism and other 21st-century challenges require sacrifice shared by all Americans. 

I know a better way to fight ISIS. It starts with an idea that should appeal the better angels of both hawks and doves: National service for all 18- to 28-year-olds.

Require virtually every young American—the civic-minded millennial generation—to complete a year of service through programs such as Teach for America, AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, or the U.S. military, and two things will happen:

1. Virtually every American family will become intimately invested in the nation's biggest challenges, including poverty, education, income inequality, and America's place in a world afire.

2. Military recruiting will rise to meet threats posed by ISIS and other terrorist networks, giving more people skin in a very dangerous game.

This may seem like a radical plan until you compare it with two alternatives: the status quo, which clearly isn't working, or a military draft, which might be the boldest and fairest way to wage the long war against Islamic extremists.

Why ‘decapitation’ strikes have killed terrorist leaders, but not al-Qaeda

June 16 

Nasir al-Wuhayshi, leader of al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, was killed in a CIA drone strike last week. He also had been designated second in command of al-Qaeda’s global network. 

In separate strikes last week on veteran al-Qaeda leaders, the United States demonstrated again the extent to which it has perfected an almost eerie capability to find the world’s most wanted terrorism suspects in some of the world’s most chaotic environments and deliver lethal blows from above. 

But the continued spread of al-Qaeda’s ideology and the emergence of brutal new offshoots, including the Islamic State, have underscored the limitations of a U.S. strategy that remains largely reliant on “decapitation” strikes. 

As Hezbollah weakens, Iraqi Shiites step up


Abu Jaafar al-Asadi is Iran's rising Shiite star in Iraq and the region, and he is not alone: Iran now runs a dozen Shiite militias in Iraq and has many budding leaders like him

Abu Jaafar al-Asadi is a young and rising Shiite star. Leading the charge against the ISIS in Iraq, Asadi is the secretary general of Jund al-Imam and the spokesperson of Popular Mobilization, the coalition of Shiite militias sponsored by the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

A former student of the Iranian religious seminary in Qom, Asadi visited the US last week and delivered a speech at the Mobilization Is our Dignity Conference in Dearborn, Michigan.

Born in 1971, Ahmad Jassim Saber joined the 1991 Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein in southern Iraq while still in college. He was arrested and later released. He joined the Islamic Movement founded by an Islamic Daawa Party defector by the name of Mahdi Abed Mahdi, aka Abu Zaynab Al-Khalisi.

ISIL makes the US wake up and smell the coffee

June 17, 2015

ISIL fighters during a parade in the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria. AP Photo

What makes ISIL a lot like Starbucks? Both are expanding on account of their franchises. And both are doing so without much hindrance on the part of the US government and others.

This does not matter much when it comes to a coffee chain with no more insidious an aim than to persuade 65 countries its brew is a sophisticated part of the cultural backdrop. It is of huge concern when it is an extremist group with ambitions to enshrine its brutal ideas in a state, complete with a ban on Apple products and buses that run from its so-called capital Raqqa to Mosul.

The ISIL and Starbucks analogy comes straight from a devastatingly honest memo that Richard Stengel, the US state department’s under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs wrote to his boss, secretary of state John Kerry.

INSIDE ISLAMIC STATE GROUP'S RULE: CREATING A NATION OF FEAR

BY ZEINA KARAM, VIVIAN SALAMA, BRAM JANSSEN, AND LEE KEATH 
Jun 18,2015

ESKI MOSUL, Iraq (AP) -- When the Islamic State fighters burst into the Iraqi village of Eski Mosul, Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim knew his wife was in trouble. 

Buthaina Ibrahim was an outspoken human rights advocate who had once run for the provincial council in Mosul. The IS fighters demanded she apply for a "repentance card." Under the rule of the extremist group, all former police officers, soldiers and people whose activities are deemed "heretical" must sign the card and carry it with them at all times. 

"She said she'd never stoop so low," her husband said. 

Buthaina Ibrahim was an outlier in her defiance of the Islamic State. It would cost her dearly. 

Terror in the Happiest Place on Earth

June 18, 2015

The Nordic region may be the happiest place on Earth. Of the 10 top-ranked countries in the World Happiness Report, half are Nordic nations. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark rank third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in The Economist's "Where to be born index," with Finland not far behind.

But beneath the picture of bliss lurks a malicious and difficult societal problem: An alarming number of Nordic citizens are involved with the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS. Many have traveled to the Middle East to fight for the terrorist group. Others commit their violence at home.

This February, a Danish terrorist of Palestinian ethnicity killed two and injured five in twin attacks against a cafe and a synagogue in Copenhagen. Though he never set foot in Iraq or Syria, the attacker, who was killed in the act, had sworn allegiance to ISIS in an online post.

Where ISIS Has Directed and Inspired Attacks Around the World

By KAREN YOURISH, DEREK WATKINS and TOM GIRATIKANON
JUNE 17, 2015

Major events: Attacks directed by/linked to ISIS Attacks inspired by ISIS Arrests of suspected ISIS militants or supporters

The arrest on Saturday of a Queens college student on charges of conspiring with the Islamic State is just the most recent example of the group’s global strategy, which began about one year ago and has resulted in attacks or arrests in more than a dozen countries.

Late last June, the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, declared a caliphate, or Islamic state, on the territory it controlled — and started to focus on three parallel tracks: 
inciting regional conflict with attacks in Iraq and Syria;
building relationships with jihadist groups that can carry out military operations across the Middle East and North Africa;
and inspiring, and sometimes helping, ISIS sympathizers to conduct attacks in the West.

DISA rolls out new 5-year strategy


Amber Corrin
June 16, 2015 

The Defense Information Systems Agency has released its 2015-2020 strategic plan, laying out core agency missions and objectives in getting IT services to Defense Department users.

Providing global infrastructure for the delivery of IT services and communications; 
Enabling cyber operations and sovereignty with a focus on speed, agility and access; 
Reducing costs by cutting redundant capabilities and production. 

"We are at an operational crossroads," DISA Director LTG Ronnie Hawkins writes in the opening pages of the strategy. "We continue to operate in a contested battlespace, where the barrier to entry is low and oftentimes unchallenged. We must recognize that mission success is defined by our ability to pre-emptively disrupt, degrade, or deny our adversaries, both internal and external, unimpeded access to the information and capabilities of the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN). We must sustain our operations and defenses before, during, and after an attack by reducing the attack surface, continually improving defensive cyberspace operations, and effectively commanding and controlling the DODIN."

Peace Protests Erupt in East Ukraine While Unrest Rises in the West


MAD AS HELL 
06.17.158:15 PM ET 
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/17/peace-protests-erupt-in-east-ukraine-while-unrest-rises-in-the-west.html 

Exhausted by war and rising poverty, demonstrators demand to know why it continues.

ODESSA, Ukraine — What seems to be a war without end has filled the hearts of many in Ukraine with anger. The national currency, the hryvnia, continues to collapse and the average salary in this European country has melted down to $150 a month. Many doubt their lives will improve any time soon, and many, mad as hell, are taking to the streets. Waves of protests have erupted from Lviv in the staunchly nationalist west to, importantly, Donetsk in the insurgent east

An American Strategy for Making the Iran Deal Work

June 18, 2015 

"The main focus of American policy in the aftermath of a deal should be to leverage the opportunities presented by the nuclear agreement while reducing the downsides and risks."

For the past eighteen months as representatives from Iran and the P5+1 have negotiated a potentially historic nuclear agreement, a debate has raged on the contents of the deal. While the document itself is critical, what will be more decisive for the success or failure of the agreement is the set of regional, global, and non-proliferation policies that the United States pursues in the aftermath.

If the deal is achieved, in ten to fifteen years the world could see a more moderate Iran, reduced instability in the Middle East, and a stronger global non-proliferation regime. But with poor execution and the wrong policies, the United States could face a very different world in 2025: a more hostile and aggressive Iran on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons; a Middle East still drowning in sectarian violence and civil war; and an international perception that the nuclear agreement with Iran was a historic mistake.

Newsflash, America: Ukraine Cannot Afford a War with Russia

June 18, 2015 

Arming Ukraine would only fan the flames of tension between the West and Russia, leading the United States into a conflict it doesn't, and shouldn't, want.

The lobbying for arming Ukraine has been underway for several months, but the passage of time has not increased the quality of what passes for a debate on this topic. This is particularly lamentable because the parties involved (Ukraine, Russia, Moscow’s Donbas allies, the United States and the EU) could soon start down a road that leads to a deepening of the conflict.

On one side of the debate stands a disparate coalition that blames Russia for everything that has gone wrong since the February 2014 uprising that deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Some within this camp insist that Vladimir Putin has transformed Russia into a neofascist state that is determined to resurrect an empire and trample global norms and international law along the way. To them, any effort to explain why Russia might have viewed the steady movement of the EU and NATO toward its borders with apprehension amounts to blessing Putin’s domestic and foreign policy and betraying democratic principles to boot. Explanation, in this view, is equivalent to endorsement. No lack of moral certitude here.

The Top Secret (Fake) Memo to Putin on How to Counter NATO’s Latest Move

JUNE 16, 2015 

1. Let me begin by congratulating you, Mr. President, on our outstanding series of strategic moves in Europe. We have consolidated our annexation of Crimea, which now finds its rightful place back as part of Mother Russia. Your series of “snap exercises” all around the periphery of our country have clearly frightened NATO. Additionally, the brilliant concept of “hybrid warfare,” combining the deployment of Spetsnaz special forces, additional Russian troops and trainers in unmarked uniforms, vigorous propaganda, information warfare, and cyberattacks has everyone’s attention. And NATOfreely admits it is not ready to face our new mix of tactics.

Pentagon Clearing Final Hurdles to Spend All Iraq Training Funds

June 17, 2015

The Pentagon is clearing the final congressional hurdles in the way of spending the entire $1.62 billion lawmakers approved last year to train and equip the Iraqi and Kurdish military.

The first dollars from the fund were spent in the week of May 18, when an Iraqi brigade was equipped with rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, assault packs and protective masks, according to the U.S. Central Command. Kurdish Peshmerga units will receive similar equipment within weeks with money from the fund, the command said.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey likely will be asked about the status of the expenditures Wednesday when they testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the Obama administration’s strategy to counter-Islamic State.

Expenditures so far have been limited to incremental steps initially proposed by the Pentagon last year, including a cost-sharing agreement with Iraq and allies that’s being met, according to a military spokeswoman. The required steps also include submitting reports and certifications to Congress.

NATO and Russia Are Playing a Risky Game (Op-Ed)

Jun. 16 2015 

Both Russia and the West continue to stage all kind of major military exercises and demonstrations, even while both accuse the other of provocation and aggressive intent. Are the drums of war beating? No, they're not — but we need to understand the real point behind these martial maneuvers, and the risks.

At present, the NATO-led BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) exercise is seeing ships and men from 17 countries in the Baltic Sea, including non-NATO nations such as Georgia and Finland, wargaming joint operations such as a beach assault. This month and the next, Exercise Saber Strike sees NATO forces training in the region, too, while the Noble Jump exercise tests the capabilities of the new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.

A New Era of Turkish Politics

June 17, 2015

Turkish politics has entered a new era. The outcome of the Turkish elections on June 7 was a milestone in the history of Turkish politics as the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) entered the parliament for the first time, exceeding the 10 percent threshold with 13.12% of the votes. Moreover, the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP's) loss of majority has prevented the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, furthering his authoritarian and Islamist ambitions. Hence, the results have created the grounds to end decades of civil war, address the Kurdish predicament and stabilize Turkey and the greater region.

Undeniably, the ruling AKP has been accredited with strengthening the economy and making a number of democratic advancements. Most importantly, it embarked on a new path to resolve the Kurdish question in Turkey as it announced "the Kurdish opening."

However, the nature of the Kurdish opening has been contradictory.

DISA: Cost to do cyber battle with US must rise


Amber Corrin
June 17, 2015 

Treating the cyber domain like the battle zone it is will help fight growing cyber threats, said DISA Director Lt Gen Ronnie Hawkins.

"It's culture, conduct and capability," Hawkins said. "The cyber domain is both an administrative and a warfighting capability…we have to change our conduct."

In a newly released five-year strategic plan for DISA, Hawkins described the cyber domain as "a contested battlespace, where the barrier to entry is low and oftentimes unchallenged."

That low barrier to entry is an often-cited problem. It doesn't take a lot of resources for hackers to make attempts to penetrate networks. And in areas where there may be security gaps, those attempts can escalate into massive breaches like those recently seen at the Office of Personnel Management.

The unbearable ease of planting false information

ISAAC BEN
June 18th 2015 

China, Israel, Iran. Fingers are pointed at them all. International experts to meet in Israel on cyber warfare

We have yet to digest the meaning of the reports that China allegedly broke into databases with information about millions of federal workers in the United States, and a new affair has already emerged in which Israel is accused of planting a sophisticated computer virus (called Duqu 2.0) in hotels which hosted the Iranian delegation for the nuclear talks with the US and Europe.

This time too, the report arrived from Eugene Kaspersky's Moscow-based information security company. In his special art of publicity, he immediately caught the global media's attention without explicitly accusing anyone of the attack (it was only the press which attributed it to Israel). One has to be amazed by his speculative skills. He says the virus attacked several million computers in the world. Who can guarantee that those were the actual targets?

What The Pentagon Has To Do To Recruit Silicon Valley’s Nerds

JUNE 17, 2015

Defense Department and national security political leaders are eager to attract tech minds. But are they willing to change enough? 

Last week, Sen. John McCain took to WIRED to explain how various provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, orNDAA, would help bring young tech minds to bear on the military’s various problems. “By removing barriers to new entrants into the defense market. By adopting commercial buying practices,” by adding protections for intellectual property and technical data that contractors develop at their own expense, the Arizona Republican wrote, the Defense Department will attract the services of fast-moving Silicon Valley companies and the people who work in them.

Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The ...Full Bio

DoD falling short in insider threat efforts: GAO

Amber Corrin

The Defense Department is instituting some efforts to curb insider threats, but those policies don't go far enough beyond the bare-minimum standards, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

DoD components have instituted six minimum standards mandated in an executive order aimed at protecting classified information and systems, such as providing training in insider threat awareness. DoD components also have implemented some recommendations from GAO, the White House and internal DoD guidance, but the components have been inconsistent, to the detriment of better insider-threat protection.

For example, only three of six components reviewed have established baselines of normal activity, a foundational part of any anti-insider threat problem. DoD officials also have failed to analyze program gaps or incorporate risk assessments into their existing programs, the report noted.

The AIG Case and the Rule of LawThe AIG Case and the Rule of Law

June 18, 2015 

"Eight years of official, media-sanctioned cover-up of the U.S. government’s trampling of the rule of law may be coming to an end."

Eight years of official, media-sanctioned cover-up of the U.S. government’s trampling of the rule of law may be coming to an end. Federal Judge Thomas C. Wheeler ruled Monday that U.S. government officials and their Wall Street advisors acted illegally in nationalizing American International Group (AIG) during the financial crisis in 2008. The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought on behalf of AIG’s 275,000 shareholders who opted to join the company’s former leader, Maurice R. (“Hank”) Greenberg, (who is currently the chairman and CEO of the C.V. Starr and a member of the board of the Center for the National Interest) alleging that government expropriated equity control of AIG and then used AIG to funnel capital to Goldman Sachs and a coterie of Wall Street banks. 

Navy Considers Laser Weapons for Carriers

by Kris Osborn
Jun 16, 2015

The Navy may outfit is new Ford-class aircraft carriers with a wide range of laser weapons to shoot down incoming missiles and eventually provide offensive fire power, senior service official said.

With this future in mind, the Ford-class carriers are built with three times the electrical power generating capacity compared to Nimitz-class carriers, Moore said.

The USS Ford is able to generate 13,800 volts of electrical power, more than three times the 4,160 volts that a Nimitz-class carrier generates, said Rear Adm. Thomas Moore, Program Executive Officer, Carriers.

As the technology matures, Navy leaders anticipate using a number of lasers to assist existing missiles designed for carrier defense.

NATO Gets its Biggest Defense Boost Since Cold War

June 17, 2015

Thousands of NATO troops are on the move this month in Poland and the Baltic states, practicing sea landings, air lifts and assaults. The massive maneuvers on NATO's eastern flank that began in early June include the first-ever training by the new, rapid reaction "spearhead" force, and are NATO's biggest defense boost since the Cold War.

Polish and Baltic state leaders have made it clear that they want to host large numbers of U.S. and NATO forces as a deterrent in the face of a resurgent Russia, and are welcoming the thousands of allied troops to their land and sea test ranges. Polish and Romanian leaders are even seeking more of a permanent allied military presence ahead of next year's NATO summit in Warsaw.

"We must know how to defend ourselves. It is our goal is to assure a stable order," Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said.

Senate Defense Debate and Subterranean Threats

June 17, 2015

The Senate is expected to pass its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016 this week, and shortly thereafter to bring the Appropriations’ Committees defense bill to the floor. Although media attention on these bills has understandably focused on disputes such as the proposed use of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund to evade sequestration-imposed spending limits and the fate of weapons systems such as the A-10 Warthog, one smaller provision merits attention for its potential effect on both future U.S. military operations and the security of Israel. 

Why Are We Ignoring a Cyber Pearl Harbor?


What if a team of Chinese agents had broken into the Pentagon or — less box office but just as bad — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and carted out classified documents?

The next day, the newspapers and morning TV shows would show pictures of the broken locks and rummaged filing cabinets. And if we caught the Chinese spies in the act, perp-walking them for the world to see? Boy howdy.

My hunch is that the airwaves would be full of people talking about how “this was an act of war.” And I have no doubt that if the situation were reversed and we had sent our team to Beijing, the Chinese would definitely see it as an act of war.

Countering Islamic State Exploitation of the Internet


The use of social media and other Internet-enabled communications by the self-proclaimed Islamic State is pushing the United States and other democracies to react to the abuse of liberal freedoms by illiberal forces. A leading response—fosteringmore online speech against extremism—relies on the "marketplace of ideas" and raises few problems with respecting the right of free expression, but questions about its effectiveness persist. By contrast, content-based measures, such as taking down violent videos and suspending social-media accounts, generate concerns about free speech, as well as skepticism about the contribution such measures make in the fight against the Islamic State. 

The U.S. government and companies can counter the Islamic State's online onslaught through policies anchored in important liberal principles, namely protection of free speech, transparency, and accountability. Such policies include two main steps: 

What Successful Military Strategists Read

June 17, 2015

Every two weeks or so here at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, a small group of officers and civilians gets together over lunch to discuss strategic-level topics. This gathering is a low overhead and informal event, where one officer gets the conference room and selects the topic of discussion. Sometimes, there is a book to read ahead of time, other times, there is a brief movie to watch and discuss. The dialogue that unfolds is usually lively, and there never seems to be a shortage of things to talk about. Generally, the people involved find the sessions very valuable and come back again.

…they had never really thought deeply which books were really the most important to them as strategists.

THE FUTURE OF CLOSE AIR SUPPORT IS NOT WHAT THE AIR FORCE THINKS

June 18, 2015 

Bullets pelt the armored plating of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle as insurgents surround the small convoy. A rocket-propelled grenade ravages the lead vehicle, forcing the occupants to dive for cover from the flames and shrapnel. The convoy is outgunned and outnumbered by the well-coordinated insurgent attack. The Joint Terminal Attack Controller is unavailable and no one can precisely locate the enemy. Fast moving fighters soar past but cannot identify enemy targets. So the pilots come low into the valley to provide a show of force until a lucky burst from an insurgent machinegun hits a wing and causes the fighter pilot to crash. A more proficient pilot might have coaxed the damaged plane home but reduced flight hours have reduced pilot proficiency overall and especially on Close Air Support (CAS) — a second priority. The bombers fly circles overhead with 40,000 pounds of bombs hoping someone will provide the enemy’s location before they get danger close to the MRAP. Unfortunately, coordinates never arrive and the enemy kills half the convoy and spirits equipment and prisoners into caves, securing a great propaganda victory.

Has India's contribution to WW2 been ignored?

By Yasmin KhanHistorian
17 June 2015 
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-33105898?ref=yfp

The numbers are staggering: up to three million Bengalis were killed by famine, more than half a million South Asian refugees fled Myanmar (formerly Burma), 2.3 million soldiers manned the Indian army and 89,000 of them died in military service.

South Asia was transformed dramatically during the war years as India became a vast garrison and supply-ground for the war against the Japanese in South-East Asia.

Yet, this part of the British Empire's history is only just emerging. By looking beyond the statistics to the stories of individual lives the Indian role in the war becomes truly meaningful.

Has the massive South Asian contribution to the World War Two been overlooked?

In some ways, it hasn't.

19 June 2015

Ernie Pyle, still telling the stories of soldiers, 70 years on

By STEVE PADILLA

In Ernie Pyle's words, World War II museum staff members find inspiration for sanctifying soldiers' sacrifice

"Here in a jumbled row for mile on mile are soldiers' packs.

"Here are socks and shoe polish, sewing kits, diaries, Bibles and hand grenades.... Here are toothbrushes and razors, and snapshots of families back home staring up at you from the sand."

The words appeared in American newspapers on June 17, 1944, contained in the last of three reports war correspondent Ernie Pyle filed depicting the aftermath of D-day.

In his signature style, detailed and deceptively simple, Pyle described the "human litter" that extended in "a thin little line, like a high-water mark" along the beaches of Normandy after the June 6 landing.

Writing paper and air mail envelopes constituted the most common debris, after cigarettes.

Is India's Main Battle Tank Finally Doomed?


The Indian Army may be finally giving up on the indigenously developed Arjun main battle tank. 
Last week, the Indian Army released a global request for information (RFI) inviting responses by 31 July to develop a multi-purpose Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) in order to replace older license-built Soviet-era main-battle tanks (MBTs).

“The Indian Army is planning to design and develop a new generation, state-of-the-art combat vehicle platform for populating its armored fighting vehicle fleet in the coming decade. This vehicle, which will be called the future ready combat vehicle (FRCV), will form the base platform for the main battle tank which is planned to replace the existing T-72 tanks in the Armored Corps,” the RFI reads.