2 October 2015

Asia’s Food Supply Weathers California’s Drought

By Asit K. Biswas, Matthew J. Kastner and Cecilia Tortajada
September 30, 2015

California is well known for its celebrities and tech companies. A lesser known fact is that California has more agriculture than any other state in the U.S., at almost $50 billion. The last time you ate an almond, artichoke, date, pistachio, or any of another eight crop commodities produced in the U.S., it probably came from California. With such a large market share for many specialty crops, one would think the drought that is now in its fourth year would send crippling supply shocks through Asia. Yet even though East and Southeast Asia import over $6 billion of food from California alone, the smart allocation of scarce water by Californian farmers has resulted in little change in food supply and prices.

California agriculture consumes 80 percent of the state’s water and so it is especially vulnerable to prolonged droughts. The state has had lower than average precipitation, as well as higher than average temperatures since 2011. The effects of this were not felt until 2014 when reservoir levels dropped on average to 50 percent of historical averages. This year, reservoir levels are even lower and the impacts of the drought are more severe. 2014 was the first year major changes in crop production were seen relative to previous years and those changes have continued through 2015.

The South China Sea Showdown: 5 Dangerous Myths

September 29, 2015

Myths about the South China Sea and related U.S.-China strategic interaction have been multiplying in Washington like fruit flies of late. There is the curious notion that China’s recent actions in the South China Sea portend a spasm of aggression spanning East Asia, spilling into the Indian Ocean and then through the Middle East, Africa and beyond. Almost as fanciful is the idea that Beijing is about to erect figurative toll barriers around the South China Sea, only admitting the ships of nations that agree to perform the infamous 磕头[kowtow]. Presumably, naval vessels requesting admittance would require either multiple prostrations or at least some very fat 红包 [red envelopes].

Some delirious neo-liberals may have actually thought that Beijing would go along with, or at least not react negatively to the decision of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas regarding the Philippines arbitration. Another all-too common analytical blunder has been the belief that China’s recent economic “hiccup” will cause it to soften its approach toward the South China Sea. Also comical is the now fashionable notion that U.S. aircraft or vessels patrolling ever closer to China’s reclamation projects would finally bring the Dragon to heel. All “Dragon Tamers” of the increasingly similar neo-liberal or neo-conservative stripe may cease reading at this point, but fellow realists are invited to press on to consider five really dangerous misconceptions regarding the evolving South China Sea cauldron.

The Trillion-Dollar Question: Who Will Control the South China Sea?

September 29, 2015

Recent developments in the South China Sea have lumbered U.S. strategic planners with a number of pressing quandaries. Should the United States send warships through sea lanes claimed by China as territorial waters? How can Washington signal resolve and reassurance to its allies in the region without unduly antagonizing China’s political and military leaders? What is the right mix of diplomacy, military, and political engagement?

These short-term decisions will rightly preoccupy teams of Washington-based Asia hands for months and, perhaps, years to come. But focusing on the short term alone risks obscuring the true nature of the strategic problem facing the United States. Properly understood, the future of the South China Sea is a long-term geopolitical question of perhaps unparalleled significance in East Asia. Policy should not be made in response to short-term exigencies but rather with long-term strategic objectives in mind. In turn, this means a full and frank understanding of what exactly is at stake in the South China Sea.

US CIA's Operations in China Take a Step Back in Wake of OPM Breach

October 01, 2015

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has pulled its officers from the U.S. embassy in Beijing. The move was undertaken by the agency a “precautionary measure,” the report notes, to avoid any possible retaliation against these officers in the wake of data acquired by Chinese hackers in a breach of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The OPM breach, announced earlier this year, resulted in the theft of over 20 million records, includingfingerprints and SF-86 security clearance forms. The source of the hack has been widely attributed to the Chinese government, though the United States has not officially said so.

The CIA’s move is necessary to protect officers who may be discovered by a simple cross-referencing of the State Department records obtained in the OPM breach against declared U.S. Embassy personnel records in Beijing. “Anybody not on that [State Department] list could be a CIA officer,” the Post report notes.

What US Experts Get Wrong About Economic Espionage

September 30, 2015

In reporting on the recent agreement between China and the United States not to undertake commercial espionage against each other, many leading commentators, such as those at the Washington Postand in Council on Foreign Relations blog, have referred to this as an agreement not to undertake economic intelligence collection. It is not.

The CFR blog went so far as to claim imminent global application of a norm against economic espionage. There is no international legal norm of any kind against economic cyber espionage if the act is confined to merely collecting of information. There are international legal agreements that apply penalties or redress options for unauthorized commercial applications of intellectual property (often called industrial espionage).

And there are norms against disturbing the peaceful domestic order of a sovereign state but no state interprets this to prohibit, in international legal terms, covert espionage where the domestic disorder that results is confined only to the theft of the information and unauthorised access to buildings or networks.

It's Official: China, Not Japan, Is Building Indonesia's First High-Speed Railway

October 01, 2015

After months of speculation, Indonesia has chosen China over Japan for a lucrative high-speed rail contract. The high-speed rail line, estimated to cost from $5-6 billion, will connect Jakarta and Bandung, the capital of West Java province. It will be Indonesia’s first high-speed railway.

Japan and China have been vying for the contract since Indonesia announced that China submitted a bid in April 2015, much to Japan’s dismay. Things took a strange turn in early September, however, when Indonesia scrapped the idea altogether. Minister Rizal Ramli said Jakarta had decided not to request a high-speed train at all, but a “medium-speed” one that allows for more stops along the route.

Ramli also said that the Indonesian government did not want to use any state funds for the project. According to Bloomberg, Japan’s bid was based on getting funding from Indonesia’s government and a low-interest loan offered by Japan; China offered to provide a loan and have Indonesian state-owned firms provide the remainder of the costs.

China Detains 2 Japanese Suspected of Spying

October 01, 2015

Japan announced on Wednesday that two of its citizens have been detained in China, and Beijing confirmed media reports saying the two Japanese citizens were suspected of being spies.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that two Japanese nationals were detained by Chinese authorities in May. The two citizens, both men in their 50s, according to Suga, were being held in Zhejiang and Liaoning provinces respectively. Suga said that neither man was a Japanese government official, but were both from the private sector. He denied that Japan sends spies to China (or any other country, for that matter).

“Absolutely, our country hasn’t done such a thing,” Suga said, according to Kyodo News Agency.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei briefly addressed the report in a regular press conference. “Relevant authorities of China arrested in accordance with the law two Japanese on suspicion of acting as spies in China,” Hong said. “The Japanese side has been informed of that.”

U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Islamic State’s Global Network

SEPTEMBER 29, 2015

Washington lays out new details on the Islamic State's reach as world leaders at the U.N. seek a winning strategy to countering extremism.





In its latest effort to choke an apparently rapidly expanding Islamic State, the U.S. on Tuesday slapped sanctions on 25 people and five groups associated with the Sunni extremist network in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The sanctions came right as 100 countries and 130 civil society groups huddled at the United Nations to try and better coordinate efforts to counter violent extremism.

The Su-34 Strike Fighter: Russia's Ultimate Weapon to Destroy ISIS?

September 29, 2015

Russia has deployed at least four advanced Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback strike aircraft to Syria as it works to shore up the besieged regime of Bashar Al-Assad and to combat ISIS terrorist. Pentagon officials have confirmed the deployment according to reports. The Fullback, which is a dedicated strike derivative of the Su-27 series, is the most advanced ground attack aircraft Russia has committed to its nascent Middle Eastern campaign. It is the jet’s first combat deployment outside Russia.

Originally conceived in during the last decade of Soviet rule, the Su-34 was designed primarily as a replacement for Russia’s increasingly decrepit fleet of Cold War-era Su-24 Fencer strike aircraft. Like the Fencer, the Fullback has side-by-side seating. Unlike the Fencer, the Su-34—taking full advantage of its Flanker lineage—is provisioned with a formidable air-to-air self-defense capability. In addition to short-range R-73 high off-boresight dogfighting missiles, the Su-34 carries the long-range radar-guided R-77 air-to-air missile. That means like its nearest Western equivalent, the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle, the Fullback able to conduct “self-escorted” strike missions. It also has an unorthodox rearward facing radar to warn the crew about an threat approaching from behind.

UNGA: Assad’s Coming Out Party?

September 29, 2015
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/unga-assad%E2%80%99s-coming-out-party-13963

This year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has been particularly colorful with presidents Hassan Rouhani, Raul Castro and Vladimir Putin all escaping the arctic winds of past diplomatic stand-offs and experiencing a diplomatic Indian summer in New York. Only North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un was left in the cold.

President Rouhani, a potential “shoe-in” for the Nobel Peace Prize, was eagerly courted by a number of European powers hoping to snap up commercial deals with Tehran. Meanwhile, a reunion of old friends occurred between U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif where they touched delicately on the subject of Syria. Despite this warm atmosphere,Rouhani and U.S. president Barack Obama were still not ready for a meeting (a highlight potentially of UNGA 2016).

After Washington’s attempts to keep Putin isolated in the north, the Russian president arrived with a certain spring in his step. He delivered a thunderousUNGA speech and held a direct meeting with President Obama, which neither man had ever imagined doing only weeks before. 

Anti-ISIS Coalition: Testing Russia’s Intentions in Syria

September 30, 2015

Decades of Cold War–era Soviet expansionism have conditioned Washington to recoil reflexively when Russia’s military strays outside its borders. Amid reports that Russia is expanding its military and intelligence role in Syria, President Obama had little choice but to meet with Russian president Putin on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York, but he made clear that the United States harbors deep reservations about Putin’s call for an “international coalition” to fight against ISIS. Before rejecting this call altogether, however, we should consider three important realities.

First, air power alone cannot defeat ISIS. Success requires ground operations. Who will supply the troops to destroy ISIS in Syria? The American public would rightly block sending U.S. ground forces, worried that we have already spent too much blood and treasure in the region. Plus, our entry would likely prove a rallying point for ISIS, which would relish the opportunity to fight Americans in Syria or Iraq.

AHRAR AL-SHAM’S REVISIONIST JIHADISM

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

Amid the bloodshed of Syria, one group, Ahrar al-Sham, has begun to challenge the premises of the Salafi-jihadist ideology that underwrites the actions of groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. What does it mean for the unceasing war?

War-torn Syria has become a battleground for competing ideologies as much as rival militias. The ultra-extremist Salafi-jihadism of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been the loudest and most visible of these ideological contenders, but Syria has also seen the birth of a revisionist trend within Islamist militancy. This trend has emerged as a reaction to the worst excesses of Salafi-jihadism and has been championed by the rebels in Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyyah (the Islamic Movement of the Freemen of al-Sham, usually just called Ahrar al-Sham). Ahrar al-Sham has by now emerged as not just a populist revolutionary force and the most powerful non-ISIL rebel faction in Syria, but also the vanguard of a revisionist school that is contesting the nature of the jihadist movement.January 2012 announcement of Kataib Ahrar al-Sham (Ahrar al-Sham Battalions)

Chuck Spinney: Saudi Arabian Collapse — Bad Rulers, No Water? A Case Study…

Chuck Spinney

I want to flag and discuss two articles. The first, Saudi Royal calls for regime change in Riyadh, is a report in the Guardian by Hugh Miles. He describes the four immediate factors that have stimulated the now famous letters by the anonymous 3rd generation prince calling for the replacement of King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: (1) the double tragedy at Mecca that killed 800 people, (2) the collapse of oil prices, (3) the war in Yemen which, according to Miles, few Saudis support, and (4) King Salman’s elevation of his young son, the inexperienced and impetuous Mohammed bin Salman to the peculiar but powerful post of Deputy Crown Prince, making him second in the line of succession.

The second is an op-ed analysis entitled The collapse of Saudi Arabia is Inevitable by Nafeez Ahmed. He takes a somewhat longer view, summarizing deep-seated long-term problems that threaten to destabilize and possibly destroy Saudi Arabia. While I think his discussion suffers from two weaknesses, it is nevertheless a very sobering analysis and well worth careful reading, although the conclusion implicit in his title is far from certain.

Chaos in Syria: Russian Warplanes Conducting Airstrikes on Rebel Targets

NEIL MacFARQUHAR and ANNE BARNARD
September 30, 2015

Russia Launches Airstrikes in Syria, Adding a New Wrinkle

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia ordered a round of airstrikes inSyria on Wednesday, adding an unpredictable and potentially destabilizing element to a complex sectarian war that has drawn in the United States and regional powers while creating millions of refugees.

While Moscow’s stated purpose in Syria is to fight Islamic State militants, Russian warplanes and helicopter gunships dropped bombs north of the central city of Homs, in an area held by rebel groups opposed to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally. The attacks were unleashed hours after Mr. Putin pushed a measure through the upper house of Russia’s rubber stamp Parliament authorizing the use of force abroad.

At a meeting of government officials in Moscow on Wednesday, Mr. Putin defended the Russian intervention as a broad stroke against terrorism. “The only right way to fight international terrorism — and it is gangs of international terrorists that are fighting in Syria and in neighboring countries — is to act preventively,” he said, “to fight and destroy militants and terrorists on the territories that they already occupied, not wait for them to come to our house.”

Western diplomats warned that Russia would be sending a dangerous message if its attacks were aimed primarily against opponents of Mr. Assad, rather than the Islamic State.

Revealed: China Can't Build Lethal Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carriers

September 29, 2015

China may have started construction on its second aircraft carrier according to new satellite imagery. The images—which were obtained by the British defense trade journal IHS Jane’s from Airbus Defence and Space—shows that a new ship is under construction in the same dry dock that was used to refurbish the former Soviet carrier Varyag during its conversion into China’s Liaoning. This would be China’s first indigenous flattop—if it were indeed a carrier.
The Jane’s analysis indicates that the ship might be between 558ft and 885ft long with a beam greater than 98ft. That’s a little small for a conventional aircraft carrier—and the Jane’s analysts note that they can’t conclusively say the new ship is a carrier. But that length—assuming the Jane’s analysts are correct—would be about the same as India’s Vikramaditya. The beam, however, is somewhat narrow—most carriers are much wider—which means this could be an amphibious assault ship or something else entirely.

It should be no surprise that Beijing might be building new carriers. Indeed, the Pentagon’s 2015 annual report to Congress on Chinese military power states: “China also continues to pursue an indigenous aircraft carrier program and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.” Indeed, Taiwanese and Hong Kong media have reported that China could launch its first indigenous carrier —the Type 001A—on Dec. 26 to mark the 122th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birthday. Chinese papers have also previously reported that an indigenous carrier is being built in Dalian.

The Birth of Military Strategy: Enter the Battle of Salamis

September 29, 2015

The dichotomy of strategy and tactics in war did not solidify as a concept until the publication of Carl von Clausewitz’ On War in 1832. Since then the relationship between the two has been hotly debated, along with the subsequent interjection of the operational level of war. What is not debated are the concepts themselves. Tactics and strategy are related but they are not the same thing. Strategy, of course, comes from the word ancient Greeks used for their generals, strategos. Clausewitz’s ideas were intended to be applicable for all of military history so it can be instructive to look into the past — at the genesis of strategy itself.

A strategos was not solely concerned with winning battles — the tactics. He was, in the later words of Clausewitz, concerned with the use of battle to further the political ends of his city. In other words, the strategos had to keep the long-term goal in mind and ensure that the tactics work to further that goal. A tactician would never abandon key terrain without a fight; it makes little tactical sense. But strategy may demand that very thing and tactics must be subordinated. This exact situation occurred during the Persian Wars in Fifth Century Greece. The first major Greek strategist, and perhaps the most gifted, was Themistocles.

A Cold War Nightmare Weapon: 'Manned' Nuclear Missiles?

September 30, 2015

The first American astronauts had to show their "right stuff" in Atlas and Titan ICBMs converted from lofting bombs on to Moscow into lofting people into orbit. By all accounts, it wasn't the most comfortable way to ride into space
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But in 1952, the U.S. military considered launching men on real ICBMs to bomb Moscow.

The Bell Aircraft Corporation's Bomi (Bomber-Missile) would have used a rocket to send a bomber into space, after which the bomber made an unpowered glide back through the atmosphere and over the target. If this sounds familiar, it's because 30 years later, the Space Shuttle used the same concept.

As with much of Cold War rocketry, the idea traces back to the Third Reich, which not content with trying to conquer the world, also wanted to conquer space. The proposed A9/A10 was a multi-stage rocket that used a flesh-and-blood navigation system. "After cut-off of its engine at 390 km [kilometers] altitude and 3,400 m/s[meters per second], the A9 would re-enter and begin a long glide to extend the range," notes the Encyclopedia Astronautica. "The pilot was to be guided by radio beacons on surfaced German submarines in the Atlantic Ocean. After reaching the target the pilot would lock in the target in an optical sight, then eject. Death or internment as a prisoner of war would follow."

The Next Phase Of European Power Politics


The recent battle over a plan to relocate asylum seekers across the European Union did little to appease the already deep fault lines among member states. The proposal was eventually approved, but only after a succession of threats, unilateral moves and violations of EU rules.During the negotiations Berlin was unusually uncompromising - an attitude it also showed during the discussions over Greece's third bailout program.

Although the economic crisis has made Germany the single most powerful country in Europe, Berlin is often unwilling or unable to completely shape the direction of the Continental bloc. Germany tends to lead its relatively weaker partners without having complete control of the process. In recent months, Berlin has decided to take a more visible role in decision-making in the European Union, increasing frictions with other member states.

Changing power relationships and polarities have defined Europe's geopolitical history; the Continent traditionally has had multiple power centers competing and sometimes cooperating with each other. Situations where a single power controls the rest are very rare. Berlin's recent behavior therefore raises questions about the future of the distribution of power in Europe.
Germany's Shifting Position

Australia: Change at the Top

September 30, 2015

Tony Abbott lost his job as Australian prime minister to Malcolm Turnbull in the fourth leadership “knifing” in a decade. Though media in Australia and worldwide reacted with shock, was it always inevitable? Abbott’s confusion and poor planning were responsible but so was his status as a figure of ridicule. It is his ridiculousness that people will remember most and it was that which often helped to drive down his ratings in opinion polls. Turnbull, the urbane millionaire, stands in contrast.

Before memes categorized and explained politics, people still kept track of George W. Bush’s varied and excitingly original aphorisms. Bushims, if you remember. How, so many in America and across the world asked, can this man be in charge of anything? The more cynical wondered whether the missteps and maladroit gargles were intentional: Distract the intelligentsia with a carnival of stupid and maybe they won’t notice what he’s really doing. They noticed both.

Beware Japan’s Coming Nuclear Problem: Report

September 30, 2015

A surplus of Japanese plutonium over the next few years could pose significant nuclear dangers for the region and the world unless it is addressed now, a new report released this week by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank has warned.

Japan is the only non-nuclear-weapon state which extracts plutonium from the spent fuel produced in nuclear reactors – a process called reprocessing – to fabricate more fuel, a controversial practice since the plutonium can also be used to make nuclear weapons. While Tokyo has pledged not to produce more plutonium than it consumes, the fallout from the 2011 Fukushima incident makes it likely that Japan will violate that commitment in the next decade, with a plutonium conversion facility still in the works and only a portion of its reactors that consume plutonium likely to be restarted before the reprocessing plant is at full capacity.

Japan’s resulting plutonium glut, argues James Acton, a longtime nonproliferation analyst, must be averted by Tokyo and its partners because it would set a damaging precedent, exacerbate regional tensions and increase the likelihood of nuclear terrorism.

Broadband is the key infrastructure for the 21st century


Broadband is coming to be seen as crucial infrastructure for the 21st century, as were roads and electricity for the 20th. But what does a genuinely 21st century broadband network look like?


Earlier this month, the US Broadband Opportunity Council declared that broadband is “taking its place alongside water, sewer and electricity as essential infrastructure for communities”.

Imp Papers

by Rana Banerji, Senior Fellow, DPG

1) Pakistan: Recent Political Developments (September 2015)
Rana Banerji analyzes the latest changes to Pakistan’s political scene and considers developments in its judiciary and the latest military promotions. 
The publication can be accessed here.

2) Issue Brief by Ambassador Jayant Prasad, Advisor, Foreign Policy Program and Sabika Zehra, Research Associate, DPG

Connectivity in South Asia: Transforming the Cooperation Discourse (September 2015)
Connectivity and infrastructure lie at the very core of regional cooperation and integration, their key enablers. This paper first assesses the state of South Asian economies, comparing relevant indices concerning trade and transportation relative to Southeast Asia, and the lacunae in their mutual connectivity, and suggests possible remedial action.
The publication can be accessed here.

DPG is also pleased to present two Issue Briefs on China's One Road, One Belt initiative:

3) Issue Brief by Ambassador Jayant Prasad, Advisor, Foreign Policy Program, DPG

One Belt and Many Roads: China’s Initiative and India’s Response (September 2015)

Analyzing China's One Belt One Road initiative, Ambassador Prasad explores whether there is a consonance between the respective visions of China and India about the future geo-economic and geo-strategic configuration of Asia, and whether the two countries can work together on this initiative. 

The publication can be accessed here.

4) Issue Brief by Ravni Thakur, Senior Fellow, DPG

One Belt, One Road: China’s New Strategic and Trade Policy (September 2015)
Surveying Chinese views, Ravni Thakur considers the goals and implications of China's One Belt, One Road initiative and takes a look at India's policy options in response to the changing geopolitical realities. 
The publication can be accessed here.

how the mysterious dark net is going mainstream


Jamie Bartlett: 

How the mysterious dark net is going mainstream 


There’s a parallel Internet you may not have run across yet — accessed by a special browser and home to a freewheeling collection of sites for everything from anonymous activism to illicit ctivities. Jamie Bartlett reports from the dark net.

A Dangerous Game: Responding to Chinese Cyber Activities

By Ryan Pickrell
September 29, 2015

Prior to last week’s summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama, much speculation centered on the possibility of American sanctions against China for state-sponsored, as well as unmanaged private, criminal activity in cyberspace. China has been accused of engaging in state-sponsored hacking, as well as corporate and political espionage. In many political and academic circles, there is a strong belief that the United States needs to punish China for espionage and cyber attacks against government agencies and American companies.

During the meeting between Xi and Obama last week, the two leaders agreed to work together to establish “international rules for the road in cyberspace” and to avoid engaging in state-sponsored criminal activities in cyberspace. Many wonder whether or not China will uphold its commitments; even Obama said, “We will be watching carefully to make an assessment as to whether progress has been made in this area.” He suggested that if China fails to make good on its word, the U.S. may choose to use sanctions to punish China. Many others believe that the time for talk has come and gone, and that disciplinary action is required now. Fair enough, but how will this play out in the long run?

US Air Force’s New Top-Secret Bomber Faces Further Delays

September 30, 2015

This Tuesday, during a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, the U.S. Air Force announced that it will delay awarding a contract to develop the top-secret Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B)military.com reports.

In his testimony, Lieutenant-General Arnold Bunch, military deputy for the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition said that “[t]his is a case, sir, where we need to go slow to go fast. We’ve got a fair, deliberate, disciplined and impartial process anytime that we do a competition. And we’ve been transparent and working with industry trying to get this thoroughly done and documented so we can make that decision. It’s coming soon. That’s about as good as I can give you.”

The hawkish chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Randy Forbes, however, was clearly not impressed with the general’s opaque answer: “Do we have any idea whether that’s going to be two months, 10 years? When what do we think?” To which Bunch replied that a decision will be made “within the next couple of months.”

Keep Talking, We’re Listening: Multinational EW Operations at JMRC

September 28, 2015 

Keep Talking, We’re Listening: Multinational EW Operations at JMRC

During a recent training rotation at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, I had the privilege and pleasure of leading the Observer/Coach-Trainer (O/C-T) team assigned to the Czech Electronic Warfare (EW) Company under the 7th Czech Brigade's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Battalion. The Czech 7th Brigade was the Multinational Brigade headquarters unit providing mission command for US, UK, and Czech Battalions. Units from Canada, Hungary, and Serbia provided additional forces and capabilities. The unique aspect of this rotation was the organic EW Company which enhanced situational awareness and targeting capabilities for the BDE. This can serve as a useful template for US Army EW systems acquisitions to enhance future BCT capabilities.

ALLIED SPIRIT II was a Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) exercise. The threat forces (OPFOR) included conventional, special purpose forces, irregular (militia) forces, insurgents, and criminal organizations. Civil considerations were extensive with internally displaced persons (IDPs), government corruption, fomenting insurgency, crumbling infrastructure and civil services. This allowed the decisive action doctrine of “Offense, Defense, Stability” to be fully trained with the assigned mission of restoring the international border and stabilizing fictitious area of Agjabadi province, Atropia. It is in this challenging and time constrained training environment that the Czech 7th Brigade led the coalition to good success.

South Sudan: Forgotten, But Still in Turmoil

September 30, 2015

It was 2011 and the world was preparing to welcome its newest nation. After a civil war that seemed interminable even by African standards, South Sudan declared its independence backed by the vote of 99 percent of its population. President Obama had made the referendum a priority, and the recognition of South Sudan by the United States was hailed as a major foreign-policy victory for his administration. “Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible,” he said.

Four years later, South Sudan has been ravaged by another civil war that’sdisplaced 2.25 million people and left half its population at risk of going hungry. Almost 200,000 South Sudanese are huddled in UN refugee camps, which are becoming squalid. Cholera has broken out and deadly cases ofmalaria are rampant. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in frenzied fighting that’s stretched on for nearly two years now. “There is no more country,” one South Sudanese recently told the New York Times.

HOW THE OSS SHAPED THE CIA AND AMERICAN SPECIAL OPS

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
http://warontherocks.com/2015/09/how-the-oss-shaped-the-cia-and-american-special-ops/

Six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Office of Strategic Services to collect and analyze intelligence and conduct special operations. Its formal existence lasted just three years. But more than 70 years on, the U.S. organizations charged with these missions today remain indelibly influenced by the OSS and its remarkable chief.

Wild Bill Donovan’s admirers and critics still argue over his legacy, but on one point they agree: His World War II Office of Strategic Service (OSS) became the Petri dish for the spies who later ran the CIA as well as the special operators who conduct some of the most daring raids the world has ever seen.

Four CIA directors — Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, William Colby and William Casey — learned the craft of clandestine warfare as operatives for Donovan’s OSS. Indeed, the daring, the risk-taking, the unconventional thinking, and the élan and esprit de corps of the OSS permeated the new agency.

WHY AMERICA IS TACTICALLY TERRIFIC BUT STRATEGICALLY SLIPSHOD?

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

American forces' tactical proficiency has repeatedly earned the United States gains on the battlefield. But those gains have too often been mitigated by a lack of comparable strategic proficiency.
Our men and women in uniform have made enormous sacrifices implementing the policies developed at the highest levels of our government. But those policies and the strategies to implement them have too often not measured up.

How can we do as well on the strategic level as our military units do on the tactical level? This is a puzzle I have always wondered about since I was a lieutenant on my first Vietnam tour and experienced consistent strategic failures through the several desert wars. How come the finest fighting force on the planet seems to be strategically bereft? In retrospect, we are always tactically overwhelming and strategically underwhelming.

The question was most recently forced on me by Sean Naylor’s detailed descriptions of the often brilliant performance of our special operations forces in Relentless Strike. In a sense, tactics are straightforward — and our military has done tactics well, whether in taking down the Taliban, ousting Saddam, killing Osama bin Laden, or taking out any number of other high-level terrorists. By contrast, getting the overarching political–military strategy right seems to have been much harder. Strategy requires hard thinking at the highest levels and is a serious “team sport,” encompassing not just the military, but multiple other departments and agencies, as well as, in many cases, partner and host nations. There’s nothing easy about that, and the challenges have been evident in a number of cases where significant initial successes by our military and partner nation forces have not been seen through.

Why the ‘New’ US Trilateral Dialogue With Japan and India Matters

October 01, 2015

On September 29, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the foreign ministers of Japan and India for the first ever trilateral ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The event was no doubt a significant development. While the United States, Japan, and India have been meeting at the assistant secretary level over the past few years, this meeting between their foreign ministers represents an official elevation of the trilateral dialogue.

For close observers of Asian security affairs, this was a long-anticipated development. Though the idea of elevating the trilateral dialogue has been discussed since 2011, the seventh iteration of the U.S.-Japan-India trilateral dialogue held in Honolulu in June was still at the assistant secretary of state level. But as I reported forThe Diplomat in July, Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech at a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that Washington was “looking to schedule a ministerial level trilateral” this fall (See: “US Will Hold Elevated Trilateral Dialogue with India and Japan”).

1 October 2015

Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir: The Future Trajectory

By Dr. Priyanka Singh
30 Sep , 2015

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) historically belonged to the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Soon after the partition of India in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession, thereby acceding to the Indian Union. Hence, POK is legitimately an inherent part of India. This territory has been under Pakistan’s unlawful control ever since the Pakistan Army orchestrated the tribal invasion of the territory in October 1947.

POK comprises the so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (earlier named as Northern Areas) and has remained an amorphous entity for six decades now. The Trans Karakoram Tract, comprising Shaksgam from Baltistan and Raskam from Gilgit, which Pakistan ceded to China in 1963, is also a part of POK. China promised to assist Pakistan in building the Karakoram Highway as a payoff.

The terrorist attack in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 added a new dimension to the existing discourse on the training camps in POK.

RMA in the Indian Context

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
30 Sep , 2015

Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) can be defined as “A major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of technologies, which combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of operations.” Transformation is essential to cope with these changes and most countries have put in place organisations dedicated to conceptualising and implementing transformation.

Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) can be considered a phenomenon that is some four decades old. Soviet Military thinkers during the period 1960 to 1970 first dabbled with RMA (though the term ‘RMA’ was not coined by them). The Soviet experiment was primarily with respect to the impact of nuclear weapons and Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Their focus was to dovetail the employment of nuclear weapons into their war-fighting doctrine, giving them the cutting edge in future wars. More than a decade later, in the mid-eighties, Chief of Soviet General Staff Marshall Nikolai Ogarkov revived the debate about RMA with reference to precision guided conventional weapons. The concept caught the fancy of the US much later, who actually coined the term RMA.

Boeing receives order from India for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook Helicopters

By IDR News Network
29 Sep , 2015

India to operate advanced AH-64E Apache and CH-47F Chinook Contracts will strengthen Boeing-India relationship
Includes training and support to the Indian Air Force

The India Ministry of Defence has finalized its order with Boeing for production, training and support of Apache and Chinook helicopters that will greatly enhance India’s capabilities across a range of military and humanitarian missions.

India will receive 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. Both are the newest models of those aircraft.

“This is a milestone in Boeing’s expanding commitment to India,” said Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India. “This acquisition enhances the Indian Air Force’s capabilities and offers us an opportunity to further accelerate ‘Make in India.’ Large sections of the Chinook fuselage are already manufactured in India and discussions are ongoing with our Indian partners to make Apache parts.”