3 September 2015

Time for a Reevaluation of ASEAN’s Role

By Benny Teh Cheng Guan
September 01, 2015

At the ASEAN’s Foreign Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur early last month, the Joint Communiqué provided in a single sentence a fine definition of an ASEAN Community: “people-oriented, people-centered and socially responsible with a view to achieving enduring solidarity and unity among the nations and peoples of ASEAN by forging a common identity and building a caring and sharing society which is inclusive and harmonious, and where the well-being, livelihood, healthy lifestyle, access to healthcare and welfare of the peoples are enhanced.”

This, I believe, has long been and continues to be the aspiration of the peoples of ASEAN. Yet, to achieve such a Community requires a reevaluation of ASEAN’s role and the subsequent changes deemed necessary.

Should Japan Fear China's Stock Market Crash?

By Paul Nadeau
September 02, 2015

Drawing conclusions from the stock market’s ups and downs can lead to overreactions when things are going well. But when they start to go badly, as they have recently, then everything gets an exclamation point. Even with the drama of China’s economy in the past few weeks, there are plenty of reasons to follow familiar advice and avoid panicking. However, there are also reasons to think of the more troubling scenarios that could result from China’s slowdown.

It’s not hard to create such a scenario: Investors turn to the yen in the search of safer holdings, leading the yen to rise and offset the devalued yen via the Central Bank’s quantitative easing and postponing the goal of two percent inflation even further. Firms remain reluctant to put profits into the Japanese economy, compounded by the stronger yen making Japanese exports less competitive than they were before. Wages stagnate and already-frugal household budgets adjust to the recent (and, for now, forthcoming) consumption tax hike. Japanese voters, frustrated with the stalled economy and with the cabinet’s focus on security legislation relative to economic concerns, let their displeasure show in approval polls, which eventually fall far enough for the government to wonder whether it’s time for a change at the top. The opposition, meanwhile, begins to wonder if it’s time to strike.

Can Kazakhstan Learn to Fight Corruption from China?

September 02, 2015

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is in China until September 3, meeting with Chinese leaders, settling deals and joining the more than 30 heads of state attending China’s military parade commemorating the end of World War II in Asia.

On August 31, Nazarbayev met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and the leaders of a handful of important Chinese corporations–settling a batch of deals worth $23 billion.

The trip is also serving as inspiration for the Central Asian leader, as Kazinform reports, with regard to anti-corruption initiatives. Despite China’s recent economic wobbles, its overall economic progress is undeniable and certainly serves as inspiration for Astana.

The Chinese government has spent the last three years in a deliberate fight against corruption–arresting big-name “tigers” and squashing countless “flies.” The debate continues to rage among China watchers about the intentions and ultimate impact of the country’s anti-corruption campaign, but the Kazakh president, for one, sees China as an example to be emulated.

Would America Lose the Great Naval War of 2020 to China?

September 1, 2015

Back in the Winter 2010 edition of Orbis, the always smart James Kraska, at the time an investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, presented his readers with a terrifying prospect: the possibility that China would be able sink a U.S. Aircraft Carrier—virtually at will. In professional publications, the possibility had been raised before. However, thanks to various mentions in more-mainstream media, the rise of China’s military might—and specifically advanced missile technology—would soon become a dominant topic of conversation in national-security circles around the globe.

America now faces a very real threat to its ability to project power in the Asia-Pacific; and it’s a problem—considering how fast Beijing’s missile technology is progressing—that will likely only get worse as the years go by.

A Frightening Scenario

Beware: China Has Opened an Economic 'Pandora's Box'

September 1, 2015

There's a rule in economics called Goodhart's law: when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a useful measure. If a government chases a particular economic variable, then it becomes influenced by policy, and so loses its meaningfulness as an input. 'Information value' is lost in the interference. Because managing economies is hard and good information is scarce, that's a big problem.

The last few tumultuous weeks of action in Chinese financial markets shows Beijing struggling with Goodhart's law. 

First, state institutions are actively supporting equities, reportedly on Chairman Xi’s personal order to push prices up. Second, after long controlling the exchange rate, policy-makers briefly let it go, only to rush back in days later to fix it again. These panicked interventions have cost Beijing dearly in both money and credibility and jeopardies its entire reform process.

About a year ago, it became apparent that policymakers were aiming to boost the stock market, presumably to raise consumer confidence and hopefully some new equity along the way. It's understandable that leaders viewed share prices as a signal of their good stewardship. But by manipulating those prices—either through boosterish or direct intervention—they distorted the rationality of the market.

The Effort to Destroy the Iran Agreement: Chapter Two

September 1, 2015

Anyone tired of hearing about the agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program is not going to get relief soon, despite the Congressional voting this month that is supposed to decide the matter. It now appears likely that even if the Republican-controlled Congress enacts a resolution of disapproval, any such resolution would not survive a presidential veto, which means the agreement itself will come into force. It also is possible that opponents will fail to get the 60 votes needed to get such a resolution through the Senate in the first place, in which case the outcome would be decided even earlier. If the Iranian nuclear issue were one that people with honestly expressed substantive differences had been addressing consistently in a sober and well-reasoned fashion, one might expect that those on the losing side of that outcome would accept the result and turn their attention to how they can participate effectively in vigorous oversight of the agreement's implementation. There are indeed substantial opportunities for Congress to exercise such oversight. But debate on this matter has had a deficit of sobriety and honesty. Some of the principal sources of opposition to the agreement have involved wanting the Iranian nuclear issue to fester indefinitely or for the Obama administration to fail in its efforts to do something about it.

America's Big Opportunity to Lower Tensions in Asia

September 2, 2015

The confluence of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War with theupcoming Xi-Obama Summit provide the opportunity for musings on the state of the all-important China-Japan-U.S. triangular relationship and its pivotal role in the future of global security. A pattern in this triangle has been visible for some time. Tokyo hems and haws about objectionable Chinese deployments or statements. Washington then sends high-level envoys and dutifully begins planning ever larger joint exercises to yet again reinforce the strength of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Beijing views these measures as an anti-Chinese conspiracy and proceeds with military programs and new initiatives to cast the Alliance in doubt--setting this vitriolic spiral off all over again. Occasionally, this tedious, and yet perilous geopolitical brew receives an injection of spicy kimchi from the ever volatile Korean Peninsula, but the general triangular dynamic has been in place for well over a decade.



The killings of Ali and Sa'ed Dawabshe are not just a human tragedy with a potential to spark a broader clash. They are also a manifestation of a decades-old internal conflict over the nature of Israel.

The horrific killing of 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe and his father Sa’ed in an arson attack on the last day of a hot Middle Eastern July brought fear and loathing in the West Bank and Israel to new heights. Not just between Arabs and Jews, but also between two competing political cultures, each offering a different vision for the Jewish state. Though the perpetrators have not yet been caught, the Israeli Internal Security Agency (ISA) has suggested that the attack represents a significant change in the pattern of settler violence against Palestinians.

At first glance, the ISA seems to be correct. As we have recorded in our original dataset on the phenomenon, the July 31 attack on two houses in the Palestinian village of Duma was the first “price-tag” attack that killed anyone since the trend began in 2008. The name “price-tag” reflects its perpetrators’ desire to extract a “price” for actions taken by Palestinians or the Israeli state that they dislike.



Accusations were recently levied at CENTCOM for cooking the intelligence on its campaign against the Islamic State. What do we know? One year after it started, is the anti-Islamic State campaign any closer to victory?

A little over a year ago, thousands of Yazidi refugees huddled at the top of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. They faced extermination at the hands of the Islamic State, or ISIL, and their plight was grave enough to trigger the United States to launch a humanitarian rescue mission to deliver food and protect the refugees. The United States military started dropping food to the refugees on August 7 and on August 8 started dropping bombs on Islamic State fighters.

August 2014 was a watershed month in the battle against ISIL. It represented the moment that ISIL burst into American national consciousness. It was also the month that ISIL first beheaded American captives, and the month that the group reached its greatest territorial expansion as its forces invaded parts of Iraqi Kurdistan and appeared to threaten Baghdad.

Aftershocks of the Iran Deal: Why Middle Eastern Conflicts Will Escalate

Stratfor, 28 August 2015

Summary: What lies in the future of the Middle East once the specter of an nuclear-armed Iran disappears (said tobe imminent every year since 1984)? Not peace, unfortunately. Stratfor describes what to expect in the next chapter of this misgoverned region.


Tehran’s competitors in the region will not sit idly by without attempting to curb the expansion of Iranian influence. This will not manifest in all-out warfare between the Middle East’s most significant powers; Iran is not the only country well versed in the use of proxies. But the conflicts that are already raging in the region will continue unabated and likely only worsen. These clashes will occur on multiple fault lines: Sunni versus Shiite, for example, plus ethnic conflicts among Turks, Iranians, Arabs, Kurds, and other groups. The Iranian nuclear deal in the short term thus means more conflict, not less.




Accusations were recently levied at CENTCOM for cooking the intelligence on its campaign against the Islamic State. What do we know? One year after it started, is the anti-Islamic State campaign any closer to victory?

A little over a year ago, thousands of Yazidi refugees huddled at the top of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. They faced extermination at the hands of the Islamic State, or ISIL, and their plight was grave enough to trigger the United States to launch a humanitarian rescue mission to deliver food and protect the refugees. The United States military started dropping food to the refugees on August 7 and on August 8 started dropping bombs on Islamic State fighters.

August 2014 was a watershed month in the battle against ISIL. It represented the moment that ISIL burst into American national consciousness. It was also the month that ISIL first beheaded American captives, and the month that the group reached its greatest territorial expansion as its forces invaded parts of Iraqi Kurdistan and appeared to threaten Baghdad.

Thanks to Libya, North Korea Might Never Negotiate on Nuclear Weapons

September 2, 2015

The Obama administration’s success in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran has led to hope that a similar agreement might be reached with North Korea. Halt your program, dismantle some of your capabilities and accept intrusive inspections in return for “coming in from the cold.”
Unfortunately, there’s virtually no chance of that happening. The North already has a nuclear capability and views preservation of a nuclear arsenal as critical for domestic politics as well as international policy. Moreover, the West’s ouster of Libya’s Moammar Khadafy is seen in Pyongyang as dispositive proof that only a fool would negotiate away missile and nuclear capabilities.

Many, if not most, Korea experts long ago lost hope that the North was prepared to dismantle its nuclear program. In word and action, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had demonstrated its commitment to being a nuclear state. While none of its neighbors desires that outcome, the North has ample reason to be well armed.

D.C. and Delhi: Dysfunctional Democracies?

September 2, 2015

When I was in India recently, the political landscape seemed oddly familiar. Whether inside Washington’s Beltway or New Delhi’s Ring Road, the political countrysides bore remarkable similarities. In India and the United States, charismatic, forceful national leaders were trying to move forward with programs for economic change. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Modi, not unlike President Obama, had run squarely into a large dose of legislative politics as usual. What is it about these two important democracies that seems to produce dysfunction in law making?

In an Indian version of “those living in glass houses throwing stones,” the opposition in the Indian legislature had taken up the hue and cry of alleged corruption. In the Rajya Sabha (upper house), where the Opposition holds a significant majority, the Opposition simply used its numbers to block consideration of legislation. This was particularly ironic in regard to key legislation for creating a single market in India, the Goods and Services Tax bill. The G&ST measure had been drafted and supported by the Opposition when it was in power only a little over a year ago. In the Lok Sabha (lower house), where the Opposition is in a distinct minority, it simply stormed the well of the house and, with a continuous show of placards and shouting, refused to allow business to proceed.

Pondering Hitler's Legacy


-- this post authored by George Friedman

Happenstance has brought me today to a house on the Austria-Germany border, just south of Salzburg. That puts me about 3 miles from the German town of Berchtesgaden, on the German side of the border. Adolf Hitler's home, the Berghof, was just outside the town, on a mountain in the Bavarian Alps. To the extent that Hitler had a home, this was it, and it was the place where Hitler met with many notables, particularly before the war began.

As it happens, today is the 76th anniversary of the start of World War II in Europe. It is always a strange feeling to be here. There is a sense of history present here, but it is mostly a sense of the mind, since Berchtesgaden is an attractive but ordinary place. It always feels as if towns like this should have a patina of extraordinariness sticking to everything. But that isn't how history works. There is a patina of mind, but not of place. On Sept. 1 of any year since 1939, and at a place like this, there is a sense of urgency to extract the real meaning of the man who lived in a house on the mountain I am looking at.

We’re at Cyberwar: A Global Guide to Nation-State Digital Attacks

EVERY MONTH, it seems, a mammoth cyberattack sponsored by a nation-state comes to light. In recent years, more than 20 countries have announced their intent to launch or beef up their offensive cyber capabilities. The result is a burgeoning digital arms race that presents a major threat to the security of our data. Here’s a look at the countries that have garnered the most headlines in the past few years and a comparison of how their cyber-offensive capabilities stack up. Our assessment is, of course, based only on known attacks. And attribution is often tricky. It’s difficult, forensically, to distinguish nation-state attacks from those of independent groups—even more so when China and Russia use state hackers and also pay freelancers when they gain access to useful systems. Amid the intrigue and mystery, one thing is clear—the online world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place.

United States

2001–2015: Target: the world. Seriously, the NSA’s reach appears to be limitless, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, which describe a vast hacking operation aimed at subverting the Internet’s infrastructure. OUTCOME: Global paranoia and a reduction in security for all.

The Israeli Defense Industry Is Advertising Its Expertise in Cyber Security

Perter Suciu 
September 1, 2015 

Why Israel dominates in cyber security 

Historical, political, and societal factors have turned Israel an epicenter of security innovation, attracting companies like Microsoft 

In recent months, and especially since the nuclear deal with Iran, there has been a strain between the U.S. and Israel. Despite this, one area where the ties remain close is cyber security, with the two parties even cosigning a statement committing continued cooperation on that front last month. 

A regional power devoted to ensuring its own survival, Israel has burgeoned into a high tech epicenter built around Internet security, anti-virus software, and other cyber defense technologies. Much of this is an extension of its self-reliance, and the added fact that since the creation of modern Israel, the nation has faced enemies on its borders. “The challenging environment Israel faces in the Middle East in the physical world has reflections also on the cyber world,” says Dudu Mimran, CTO of the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University, located in Beer Sheva, Israel. “Security is a subject that can be taught theoretically, but nothing is a substitute for a real hands-on experience and we’ve got lots of it.” 

The NSA-AT&T FAIRVIEW Global Fiber-Optic Cable Intercept Program Based in the U.S.

Peter Koop 
August 31, 2015 

On August 15, The New York Times and Pro Publica published a story in which the big US telecommunications company AT&T was identified as a key partner of the NSA. 

Interesting details about this cooperation and the cable tapping were already in the 2008 book The Shadow Factory by James Bamford, but with the new story, also a number of clarifying documents from the Snowden-trove were disclosed. 

Among them are some powerpoint presentations that contain the slides which had been shown on Brazilian televion two years ago. They were first discussed on this weblog in January 2014. 

Here we will combine these new and old documents to provide a detailed picture of this important collection program, that was previously misunderstood on various occasions. 

- Context - Legal authorities - Tapping points - 

- Dataflow - Results - Domestic metadata - Conclusion - 

The AT&T switching center at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco,

As the Taliban’s 2015 Fighting Season Comes to an End, Where Do Things Stand on the Afghan Battlefield

Afghanistan: Defeat, Despair And A Murky Future

September 1, 2015

The Taliban Summer Offensive has largely been a failure. The Taliban lost far more men (dead, captured, deserted) than the security forces and failed to gain lasting control of any territory. Moreover the recent announcement that Taliban founder and leader Mullah Omar had died in a Pakistani hospital back in 2013 caused long-standing disagreements among Taliban leaders to turn violent. In the last month there have been several known gun battles between rival Taliban factions. There may have been some assassinations as well because this is a common weapon in such internal disputes. It is believed that one reason for keeping Omar’s death a secret was to keep the peace within the Taliban. The post-revelation splits have caused some factions to switch allegiance to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and become even more violent and reckless. This is particularly true of some Taliban and al Qaeda groups who feel restrained by defeat or growing calls for peace from many long-time Islamic terrorist leaders. Going ISIL means more suicidal violence and less regard for killing Moslem women and children (traditionally something Afghan warriors avoided). If Islamic terrorism is a disease ISIL appears to be the terminal phase. Afghanistan is particularly hostile to this sort of thing and one side effect of that is more tips from rural Afghans about where the newly declared ISIL members are. This in turn led to more effective UAV surveillance and more ISIL leaders being found and killed by UAV missile attacks. 

Report: What is the U.S. Government’s Role in Cybersecurity?

AUGUST 31, 2015

As the Internet evolves, so do the threats lurking within it. But this ongoing evolution raises a larger question: Who is really responsible for bolstering private and public defenses? Is the Wild West approach to the Web going to cut it in the long run, or will someone have to take to take the lead when it comes to a national cybersecurity game plan?

As it stands, it could be argued that cybersecurity in the United States boils down to an “every man for himself” approach. For the most part, companies operate independently of one another and the government; and the same is true in reverse. But has this approach been effective? Recent large-scale data breaches of the Office of Personnel Management and the IRS have prompted renewed consideration of the topic.

Alan Webber is the lead researcher behind an International Data Corp. (IDC) 2015 report, Business Strategy: Defining the U.S. Government Role in Cybersecurity, which tackles whether the government needs to drive modernization into the next generation of national cybersecurity.

The future of land warfare

Michael E. O'Hanlon 
August 31, 2015

In my new book, "The Future of Land Warfare" (Brookings Institution Press, 2015), I attempt to debunk the new conventional wisdom (which began with the Obama administration but also permeates thinking beyond): Messy ground operations can be relegated to the dustbin of history. That is a paraphrase and dramatization, to be sure—but only a modest one, since the administration’s 2012 and 2014 defense plans both state that the U.S. Army will no longer size its main combat forces with large-scale counterinsurgency and stabilization missions in mind.

This is, I believe, a major conceptual mistake, even if not yet one that has decimated the Army. But it will cause increasing harm with time if we buy into the idea. The active-duty Army is already below its Clinton-era size and only slightly more than half its Reagan-era size. Reductions to the Army Reserve and Army National Guard have been almost as steep. None need grow at this juncture, but the cuts should stop.

September 2, 1945: When Japan Surrendered

September 02, 2015

The Second World War formally ended on this day seventy years ago when Imperial Japan’s foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri, a U.S. Iowa-class battleship which was at the time in Tokyo bay. The events leading up to that fateful moment had seen Imperial Japan’s position in the Pacific Theater of the war deteriorate considerably. Japan’s loss at Iwo Jima in March 1945, compounded by the firebombing of Tokyo, led into a bloody summer skirmish at Okinawa, where Imperial Japan also suffered defeat at the hands of the United States. The war reached a crescendo in early August 1945, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were struck with atomic bombs. On August 15, Japanese Emperor Hirohito accepts the terms that the allies had outlined for Japan’s surrender in the Potsdam Declaration, and finally, on September 2, Japan surrendered formally.

F-35 vs. A-10: Which Plane Should Defend America's Soldiers?

September 1, 2015

Politico Pro and Bloomberg have been reporting of late that the Pentagon’s Office of Test & Evaluation (OT&E) is planning a series of head-to-head close air support tests between the A-10C and the F-35A. USAF Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh had previously called that “a silly exercise”; the Lightning II, he insisted, is a combat aircraft for the “entire battlespace,” not just close air support, or CAS, for short. POGO shortly thereafter took advantage of its Google search engine to play gotcha with his “conflicting statements” on the issue. Fairly, though, the general might have used an analogy from the 1920s. In a competitive gunnery exercise between a battleship and an aircraft carrier, the battleship will win. But that doesn’t tell us to buy the battleship—just not to wind up like HMS Glorious. Unless designed carefully, such tests may not tell us much at all. So, if we were going to design such a field experiment, build a model, or hold a wargame, what would we want to know?

A Little More Money, A Lot More Problems: Japan's Defense Dilemma

September 2, 2015

Recent news accounts announce with great fanfare that Japan’s Ministry of Defense is asking for a boost in spending, primarily to fortify the country’s outlying island chain in the East China Sea that is the focus of a bitter territorial dispute with China. The budgetary request confirms that Tokyo has no intention of compromising regarding the feud over those Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

But the fine print in the news stories also suggests that Japan isn’t very serious about creating a more robust military capability to enforce its territorial claims. The requested increase is a mere 2.2 percent, and it would bring Tokyo’s annual military outlays up to $42.38 billion. That is less than one-third of China’s official defense budget of $145 billion—which almost no one believes fully accounts for that country’s actual military spending. Both the Pentagon and independent estimates place the real figure at $180 billion or more.

This underscores a dangerous disconnect between Tokyo’s increasingly strident geostrategicambitions and its military capabilities. Not only has Japan taken a hard line on the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has moved to “reinterpret” article nine of the country’s pacifist-leaning constitution to permit Japanese involvement in collective defense efforts. The reinterpretation also broadens the definition of what constitutes a threat to Japan’s security. It would no longer be confined to an attack on Japanese territory.

'Game-Changing' Weapons: What the U.S. Military Needs to Know

September 2, 2015

Who isn’t fascinated by the prospect of "game-changers"—unprecedented technological breakthroughs that provide military advantages that leave competitors scratching their heads over how to keep up? Game-changers can increase leverage, so pursuing them makes sense—but only if the game-changer supports the overall security strategy.

Game-changers are not a substitute for fielding conventional and strategic capabilities. But game-changing ought to be part of U.S. military strategy.

Game-changers in warfare are as inevitable as a Kardashian on a red carpet. Sooner or later one of them is going to show up. The cavalry of the Mongol Golden Horde caught the world by surprise. Englishman bowman spoiled the French day at Agincourt. Artillery toppled the great fortifications of Europe. Everybody dreaded the Dreadnought. Quick-firing field and machine guns changed the face of battle during World War I. Throughout history, new weapons and tactics have popped up, forcing all sides to rethink how they fight. Such disruption is part of war.



Don't look back to 2014, 2010, or 1916 for cues on how big the U.S. Navy should be. Read why American navalists should focus on 2007.

Debates about naval force structure are in the news again, as a number of Republican presidential candidates are calling for a larger fleet, just as Mitt Romney did in 2012. As in 2012, references to having a Navy that is as small as it has been since 1916 are greeted with healthy skepticism, as today’s ships are considerably more capable than those of a century ago. Such skepticism is then countered with the undeniable truth that a ship cannot be in two places at one time, and that our position of world leadership demands naval presence in more places to more effect than was the case in 1916. Both sides have good points.

The F-35 And A-10 Warthog Will Go Head To Head In 2018

August 28, 2015

The gauntlet has been thrown down between the military’s long-standing close-air support platform, the much loved A-10 Warthog, and the Pentagon’s next-generation Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35. After months of debate over which aircraft is better suited to the role of close-air support, the Pentagon confirmed on Aug. 27 that it intends to put both aircraft to the test.

A series of evaluations will be used to “reveal how well the F-35 performs and whether there are gaps or improvements in capabilities compared to the A-10,” said J. Michael Gilmore, the director of the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office, the Washington Post reports.

“You can’t guess at what the capability gaps are,” Gilmore said. “It’s really not wise to guess. You have to go out and get data and do a thorough and rigorous evaluation.”

The central lesson from the 1965 War

September 02, 2015 

The 1965 war teaches us that war by escalation is a real possibility. Despite clear threats, Pakistan never believed that India would ever cross the international border.'

'In the age of nuclear deterrence, this failure to deter Pakistan is the central lesson of 1965,' says Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

Continuing our series on the 1965 War, 50 years Later.

The India-Pakistan war of 1965 is the least commented and remembered conflict of post-Independence India. This year, 2015, is the 50th year of that event and it is worthwhile recalling those events as the root cause of that conflict, the Kashmir dispute is still unresolved and there are many useful lessons that can be learnt by an in-depth assessment of that conflict.

Pakistan for long time has been celebrating this as a 'defensive victory' and September 6 is observed as 'Defence of Pakistan' day. There are two reasons why this war was sidelined in India -- the prime minister at the time, Lal Bahadur Shastri was not from the ruling dynasty and any prominence to him would have dimmed the lustre from the ruling family's image.


AUGUST 10, 2015

Before engaging military leaders on issues of policy and strategy, spending some time on the basics can pay terrific dividends for civilian academics.

In a conversation a few years ago with one of us, a senior political scientist from a prominent Ivy League university asked for insights on how to offer defense policy advice on a contemporary Middle East security issue. It quickly became clear that this academic had no idea of the overall structure of the defense policy community, much less specific ideas about who to approach or how best to offer advice. Specifically, this individual wanted to approach the military leadership but did not know the difference between the service chiefs and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, much less understand the unique roles of the Joint Staff, combatant commands, or Special Operations Command. Moreover, this person was uncertain what was actually under the purview of the military leadership when it came to selecting and implementing policy recommendations. As the conversation went on, it became clear that this expert lacked the most basic understanding of the defense policy world and especially of how the military fit into it. The academic’s opportunity to offer advice, unsurprisingly, never materialized.

Killing People The American military must not succumb to intellectual shortcuts concerning its purpose.

Wreckage in Gaza, following the most recent eruption of violence in which Israel killed many terrorists and lost much international support. Photo Credit: Zuma Wire, Associated Press. 

About a month ago I sent my mother an unsolicited late-night phone call. I consider it the mark of adulthood that one can provide for oneself at the bare minimum, so I had to swallow a little bit of my pride in asking my parents for a favor. Of the many worst-case scenarios that could have passed through my mother’s mind as she answered her cell phone, I’m sure that the last thing she expected me to ask was, “Mom, what’s your cable account information? I’m stuck in a hotel and need to stream the Fox News GOP debate.” As a conscientious objector to cable television, I had never needed an account before.

From my admittedly unprofessional analysis of the debate, peak applause was achieved in response to Governor Mike Huckabee’s comment, regarding the handling of transgender troops that, “The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.” Although he would later add “protect[ing] every American,” to that job description, it was clear which statement resonated with the audience.

Effectively Managing the Navy’s Talent (Guest Post)

I have consistently stated, to include many times on this blog, that the difficulties that accompany life in the Navy are easily overcome by a rewarding and fulfilling workplace. Deployments, dreadful Physical Readiness Tests, and silly policies are no match for the joy of being in an awesome squadron (ship, Team, etc.).

Naturally, the converse is also true. A great 401K and a splendid maternity leave policy will never entice someone to stay when they dread coming to work each day. It’s simply not worth it.

In spite of their original intentions when signing on the dotted line, military service is not for everyone. Many will walk, and that’s okay. The trick is getting the most out of all your people, regardless of whether they plan to serve for 4 or 25 years.

Below, Jack Curtis shows us the way, and he reminds us that great ideas matter little if they aren’t followed by dutiful execution and necessary adjustments. Remember, it’s not so much taking the reservation that matters, it’s holding the reservation.

“Get off your phone, sir”

Leadership in the Digital Age

Angry Staff Officer is an officer in the Army National Guard and a member of theMilitary Writers Guild. He commissioned as an engineer officer after spending time as an enlisted infantryman. He has done one tour in Afghanistan as part of U.S. and Coalition retrograde operations. With a BA and an MA in history, he currently serves as a full-time Army Historian. The opinions expressed are his alone, and do not reflect those of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

It goes without saying that the digital age has brought both pros and cons to being an Army leader. It has streamlined reporting requirements and given us access to training aids, as well as making communication instantaneous. However, it also gave us the Multi-Source Assessment, the online Officer Evaluation Report, Army Knowledge Online, and PowerPoint, so there are some definite drawbacks. With the digital age comes social media, and along with it, the site of the tops of Soldiers’ heads as they bow their heads in homage to the small device in their hands.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m one of those Soldiers. In garrison, I am an obsessive phone-checker. I am connected to both Facebook and Twitter, as well as my email accounts, all providing me a steady stream of information. I also have connected myself to the great Google Machine and have documents and presentations all available at the click of a button. I once had an NCO approach me and say, “Get off your phone, sir, Facebook can’t be that important.” To which I have responded with a robust turning of my phone towards him so that he saw I was viewing the slides for the training meeting that afternoon. But that NCO had a valuable point: it appeared that I was on social media. As a leader, appearances are everything.

“I Want to Develop My Lieutenants, But….”

In the numerous conversations I have had with current and former company commanders, the phrase “I want(ed) to develop my lieutenants, but…” comes up a lot. As always, the intention is always there. Most company commanders want to set time aside on a recurring basis, but the burdens of command gets in the way. Many feel that there are so many competing requirements that there is never enough time to develop a quality program or session that young officers will feel is valuable. To help current and future commanders avoid the word “but” in conversations about leader development, the team behind Company Commandand Platoon Leader professional forums has created mini-digital LPDs that commanders can quickly incorporate into their development programs with little effort. Here is a quick explanation from their website:

The CC/PL Team has developed a “Hip pocket” digital LPD to support leader development programs at the company/platoon level. The concept is to provide a ready to go, mobile friendly LPD that can be executed anywhere providing the user has a smartphone or tablet, and has wifi access or a data plan.

Hashtag(#) Leader Development: Using Twitter to Develop a Professional Learning Network for Leaders

The QuadShot Warrior Blog: Dedicated to Leader Development, connecting leaders in conversation, and sharing my experiences from the classroom. Leadership Counts!!!
(#) Leader Development: Using Twitter to Develop a Professional Learning Network for Leaders

Time is a limited resource for leaders. While many leaders are passionate about leader development, they don't always have time to study for self-development or plan development sessions where participants sit around and discuss an article, book or other topic. Both avenues of development are easily disrupted by competing priorities. Social media and mobile technology platforms are great resources for leaders to interact with others and build relationships that will lead to learning and development. One platform that works well is Twitter. The capabilities of Twitter combined with mobile platforms allow both self-development and leader-led professional discussions to take place in any location, at any time, and not be restrained by time and location. This post is about using Twitter for self-development and leading professional discussions as part of a leader development program. 

Twitter 101 (Skip ahead to Leader Development if you are familiar with PLNs, self-development and Twitter)

2 September 2015

Looking towards new prosperity

Bangladesh is heading for an economic boom that can benefit the Indian states around it, writes Subir Bhaumik 

The back-to-back one-day international series wins against Pakistan, India and South Africa in the summer of 2015 has made Bangladesh emerge out of its self-image as minnows in world cricket. But its cricketing success is no fluke. Bangladesh's success in outpacing India and Pakistan in social and human development has already been documented - specially the progress it has made in areas of female education and empowerment or in bringing down infant and maternal mortality. Its success in fighting terrorism has been recognized by both the United States of America and India - the latest arrests being that of the Bangladesh coordinator of al Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, Maulana Mainul Islam, and his advisor, Maulana Zafor Amin. The AQIS had claimed responsibility for the murders of secular bloggers, Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das, and the security agencies have been on their trail for a while. As one Muslim majority nation which rejects the idea of an Islamic State, Bangladesh is considering a new counter-terrorism policy that may serve as a model for other Muslim-dominant nations. An extensive dialogue is on with experts in the region to integrate elements of 'soft power' and 'use of Bengali culture' in the counter-terrorism policy, alongside the usual hard options.

We need to declassify our war records

Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)

In spite of many anxious moments, the Indian Army was able to successfully crush Pakistan’s offensive capability

lessons learnt: There were serious disparities in the capabilities of the two armies

As we mark the 50th anniversary of 1965 War with Pakistan, we need to reflect on the genesis of this conflict and on our successes and failures. The Indian Army had suffered a humiliating defeat in 1962 and Pakistan was under the impression that it would perform no better against it as well. 

To divert India’s attention away from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan first made some moves in the Rann of Kutch.

Some months later, it undertook large-scale infiltration into the Valley. Pakistan’s assessment proved wrong as the locals did not cooperate with the infiltrators while the Indian Army reacted with alacrity to effectively deal with the infiltration by striking at some of their bases and capturing the Hajipir Pass.

A victory that wasn’t

Dinesh Kumar

A tough war for both India and Pakistan, it was inconclusive with neither side gaining a decisive military advantage

Reality Check: The Indian Army had used only 14 per cent of its frontline ammunition and still possessed twice the number of tanks as compared to Pakistan

The August-September 1965 India-Pakistan War will go down as one of the country’s most significant wars. The war, which occurred at a critical juncture in India’s military history, took place less than three years after India’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese (October-November 1962). 

Furthermore, Pakistan had begun cosying up to China and had only less than two years earlier in 1963 illegally ceded an occupied portion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to Beijing. Then again, just 10 months earlier, China had flexed its nuclear muscle by exploding an atomic bomb in October 1964. On the eastern front, an assertive Indonesia was laying claims to the Great Nicobar Island, seeking renaming of the Indian Ocean to Indonesian Ocean.