25 October 2015

Civil-military relations Who will fight the next war?

Oct 24th 2015 

CRUISING a Walmart in Clayton County, Georgia, with Sergeant Russell Haney of US army recruiting, it would be easy to think most Americans are aching to serve Uncle Sam. Almost every teenager or 20-something he hails, in his cheery Tennessee drawl, amid the mounds of plastic buckets and cut-price tortilla chips, appears tempted by his offer. Lemeanfa, a 19-year-old former football star, says he is halfway sold on it; Dseanna, an 18-year-old shopper, says she is too, provided she won’t have to go to war. Serving in the coffee shop, Archel and Lily, a brother and sister from the US Virgin Islands, listen greedily to the education, training and other benefits the recruiting sergeant reels off. “You don’t want a job, you want a career!” he tells them, as a passer-by thrusts a packet of cookies into his hands, to thank him for his service.

Southern, poorer than the national average, mostly black and with longstanding ties to the army, the inhabitants of Clayton County are among the army’s likeliest recruits. Last year they furnished it with more soldiers than most of the rest of the greater Atlanta area put together. Yet Sergeant’s Haney’s battalion, which is responsible for it, still failed to make its annual recruiting target—and a day out with the unit suggests why.

The National Commission on the Future of the Army Needs to Answer Two Simple Questions

October 22, 2015

The impetus for the creation of the National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) was the proposal by that Service’s leadership to move all Apache attack helicopters from the National Guard into the Active Component and replace them with some 110 new Black Hawk utility helicopters. Because of the political storm that ensued it was decided to create the NCFA to address the proposed transfer of the Apaches but also, and more important, to make an assessment of the size and force mixture of the Active and Reserve (the National Guard and Army Reserve) Components of the Army and make recommendations on changes to the structure of the Army.


OCTOBER 23, 2015

The famous and often reprinted portrait of the West’s most influential military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, was painted by Wilhelm Wach in early 1830s. One of Prussia’s most fashionable artists of the era, Wach portrayed the officer as a serious man with melancholic look and penetrating but sad eyes.

Wach’s painting, made either in the last years of Clausewitz’s life or even postmortem, casts the military theorist as rather gloomy in demeanor. This image seems to confirm the unfavorable perception that many people hold: an unhappy staff officer disenchanted with the turbulent world around him who scribbled his thoughts in long, complicated, dejected sentences. But would our perception of Clausewitz and his seminal work, On War, change if we could see him as a young, ambitious, and energetic officer? If, instead of a withdrawn and reticent character, he appeared as a sympathetic, adventurous man with a tendency for self-depreciating jokes and sassy comments about his superiors? Would a more likable image of its creator make On War an easier read?

When it Comes Military Capabilities, Can Uniformed Officers Tell 'the Truth'?

October 21, 2015

Senior uniformed officials have an obligation to tell elected political leaders—and the public—the unvarnished truth about the country’s military capabilities. Further, those leaders should be able to tell the truth without fear for their careers—that was the central theme of an event hosted by the Hudson Institute.

“You will not make chief of naval operations in this country, you will not make First Sea Lord in the United Kingdom if you tell the truth, it’s as simple as that,” retired U.K. Royal Navy aviator Rear Adm. Chris Parry told an audience at the influential think-tank on Wednesday. But that’s not acceptable—senior officers must be able to speak candidly without fear for their careers or political retribution. “They should be able to say, short of resignation, ‘we can’t deal with this.’”

Arthur Herman, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, also reiterated the point that it was “incumbent” upon senior officials to tell the political leaders the truth about the capabilities of their forces and equipment. “The political pressure to do the opposite are intense, even overwhelming,” Herman added.

24 October 2015

Return of Kashmiri Pandits: How Long ?

By Prof.A.N. Sadhu
Date : 23 Oct , 2015

In an interactive session organized by some Kashmiri Pandits, discussion was held on the following questions facing the community. The first question was, “How long will it take the powers that be to address the genuine concerns of the displaced community? The second question was, “How long will the Govt. of India and the State Government take to come out with concrete plans regarding the return and rehabilitation of the displaced community in the valley of Kashmir? The third question was,” How long will it take for the displaced community to realize their responsibility towards their progeny for safeguarding their identity and heritage?

How long will it take to the Govt. of India and the state government to formulate definite plans of return and rehabitation.? Twenty five years is not a small time. It is almost one generation.

Letter by Maharaja Hari Singh to Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten

By Danvir Singh
22 Oct , 2015

Appendix – A

Dated: 26 October 1947

My dear Lord Mountbatten,

I have to inform your Excellency that a grave emergency has arisen in my State and request immediate assistance of your Government.

As your Excellency is aware the State of Jammu and Kashmir has not acceded to the Dominion of India or to Pakistan. Geographically my State is contiguous to both the Dominions. It has vital economical and cultural links with both of them. Besides my State has a common boundary with the Soviet Republic and China. In their external relations the Dominions of India and Pakistan cannot ignore this fact.

I wanted to take time to decide to which Dominion I should accede, or whether it is not in the best interests of both the Dominions and my State to stand independent, of course with friendly and cordial relations with both.

Single point advice on military matters

By Harsha Kakar
22 Oct , 2015

The recent announcement by the defence minister to the air force, that it cannot have any more Rafale fighter aircraft but should plan to induct the modified and indigenously developed Tejas due to paucity of funds, was logical. The current financial year has seen the ministry of defence approving military hardware for all the three services, not only from abroad but also from domestic producers. The procurements are presently in the pipe line; to be inducted over the next couple of years, thereby enhancing the capabilities of the services. These capabilities would be best employed when the services are employed jointly in operations as one force.

…all futuristic planning and procurements should be based on a common platform of joint threat and joint capabilities.

In the present system of procurement, each service carries out its own assessment of the future battle field milieu and emerging threats, as it pertains to that service and its present capability shortfalls to deal with them. This is then projected as procurement requirements over the next five years. Therefore each service plans and projects what it requires for itself. However, what is missing in the entire system is that the future environment is common for all and would entail joint employment. Therefore all futuristic planning and procurements should be based on a common platform of joint threat and joint capabilities. Ideally therefore all procurement planning should be done under the aegis of one central organization. This should be an organization of service personnel but by protocol senior to the service headquarters and a part of the ministry.

Do the BRICS Still Matter?

By Marcos Degaut 
OCT 21, 2015 

The report provides a critical account of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) as an analytical category, examining some of its constitutive dimensions, to see whether the possibilities of an effective intra-group cooperation could lead to a major change in world power distribution, or whether social disparities, diplomatic divergences, and political and economic differences could prevent the BRICS from forming a coherent and effective strategic alliance. It examines some of the group’s common features and their differences, putting into perspective their relative weaknesses and strengths, their strategic culture, and how it has shaped their foreign policies.

Marcos Degaut is a political adviser at the Brazilian House of Representatives and former intelligence officer at the Brazilian Intelligence Agency. He is also co-president of the Kalout-Degaut Institute for Politics and Strategy, a private consulting firm in Brazil. 

KPS Gill: Why obvious religious provocation has succeeded in bringing Punjab to the boil

An analysis of why cycles of violent protest in the state have been quickening over the past few years.

There is an enveloping atmosphere of political mischief across the country, an active effort to polarise communities for partisan political gains. This is deepened enormously by growing perceptions of the failure of governments to deliver on their promises, and efforts, on the one hand, by parties in power to distract attention from their own deficiencies and malfeasance, and on the other, by those who seek to destabilise the wider political and security situation, by orchestrating incidents that are intended to cause communal strife. This is particularly the case in Punjab, where the Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine has been enormously discredited by years of non-performance and corruption.

The sequence of events in the present desecration crisis in Punjab clearly demonstrates that these have been planned and coordinated. Seven such incidents have abruptly been conjured virtually out of the blue, in a situation that manifested no precedent indicators. There have, of course, been rare isolated incidents of alleged desecration of the Granth Sahib in the remote past, but these were explicable in terms of individual wrongdoing or specific local factors. There was nothing in the present manner, where the pages are intentionally torn out of the holy book and strewn in highly visible public places in obvious acts of provocation.

Where is India's fracking revolution?

Siddharth Singh 
October 21, 2015

Shale oil and gas revolutionised the energy economy in the USA. Is something similar possible in India

There’s an important conversation we are not having right now. There are screaming headlines we have not had to read over the past few years. Iran, Mexico, Norway and Venezuela, four of the ten largest producers of oil until a decade ago, have seen enough production drops in the past decade to have alarm bells ring among traders and analysts, leading to oil prices spikes and supply shortages. 

In such circumstances, news TV channels and newspapers would have normally hosted heated debates on energy security, energy independence and the impact of high oil prices on macroeconomic fundamentals – but none of it happened. An unlikely ‘saviour’ emerged in the form of the American ‘Shale Revolution’. Oil (and gas) production in the United States from ‘shale deposits’ has spiked since 2008, matching one-for-one the drop by other countries, ensuring the stability of global supplies. In this process, the US has become the world’s largest producer of crude oil. That’s correct, the United States now produces more oil than even Saudi Arabia. The availability of oil and gas from shale formations has permitted the US to reduce oil imports and to move from coal to gas (which is far cleaner) for electricity production. 

India: Why Modi’s Small Steps May Add Up

here’s the beef? Modi has returned to the hurly-burly of Indian politics where the beef catchphrase – an advertising slogan for Wendy’s fast-food franchise in the U.S. and Canada — has acquired a dangerous life of its own.

It started in the western state of Maharashtra, where members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) met the President of India to seek his assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill. The bill was cleared by the state assembly in 1995 but has become law only two decades later. Under it, consumption and storage of beef is a crime punishable by up to five years in jail. Several other states have introduced their own beef bans.

Consuming beef is an emotive issue in India, where the majority regards the cow as a holy animal. Soon there were beef vigilantes out on the streets. In Bisada village, Dadri district, right next to Delhi, a mob broke into the house of a man suspected to have stored beef and consumed it. They battered him to death. Politicians of all hues have taken one side or the other. This is what has come to be known as beef politics.

There are no elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) where Bisada is situated. But neighboring Bihar is in the midst of a poll to the state assembly. The second-largest state in the country after UP, it has 50 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s Parliament (UP has 80). The five-phase elections started on October 12 and will end on November 5. The counting is on November 8.

Deepening India-U.S. Cooperation on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific Regions

By Richard M. Rossow, C. Raja Mohan 
OCT 21, 2015 

This paper summarizes the discussion and recommendations arising out of a workshop organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 27, 2015. The workshop included officials from the governments of India and the United States, though the views are not considered “official policy” by either government. The paper presents both governments with a possible path forward to strengthen cooperation on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR).

Nuclear Pakistan – Incessant Tail Wagging

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
Issue: Net Edition | Date : 23 Oct , 2015

As Nawaz Sharif began preparations to travel to Washington to meet Obama, it was certain that Pakistan will start wagging her nuclear tail furiously, much to the delight of indigenous Pakistan media and that of the West. So you first had Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary stating that Pakistan needed tactical nuclear weapons because of India’s ‘Cold Start’ doctrine. Then you had the well timed release of the report on ‘Pakistani nuclear forces 2015’ from the Nuclear Notebook by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists coinciding with Nawaz Sharif’s US visit.

The Evolution of Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal

in 'A Transatlantic Pakistan Policy', German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2014.

The roots of Pakistan’s nuclear program go back to the 1950s, when the country was one of the early beneficiaries of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. [1] Pakistan, like India, was also an early recipient of civilian assistance from Canada, which helped it establish a nuclear power plant in Karachi. [2] The seeds of a weapons program came about in the 1960s, well before India declared its capability with a test in 1974. Anticipating the fact that India would eventually follow China’s successful 1964 nuclear test, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — who was later to become prime minister — famously stated in 1965 that Pakistan would produce a bomb “even if we have to feed on grass and leaves.” [3]

Pakistan’s nuclear efforts accelerated in 1972, after its defeat at the hands of India and the loss of its eastern wing (which became the newly independent country of Bangladesh). The initial effort, under the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), focused on plutonium production, an enterprise that initially experienced limited success and some setbacks. Then, in December 1975, A.Q. Khan — a scientist working in the Netherlands for nuclear engineering company FDO — stole designs for centrifuges to be used in uranium enrichment, and returned to Pakistan to establish a parallel program. [4]

Can Afghanistan Hold On?

Afghan National Police on patrol in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, November 2009

President Barack Obama’s decision last week to break his promise and keep thousands of US forces in Afghanistan when he leaves office is a stark indication of how quickly the country has slid back into crisis. The White House’s reassessment has been prompted by the Taliban’s dramatic gains of territory in recent weeks and the Afghan government’s inability to stop it. 

But Obama’s plan to retain 5,500 troops beyond 2017 will do little to address those severe military setbacks. Nor will it be able to end the acute economic and political paralysis of the leadership in Kabul, which has already caused tens of thousands of Afghans to flee to Europe, and a steady erosion of support for President Ashraf Ghani. Can the Afghan government hold on? 

On October 1, the Taliban captured their first city since losing the country to US forces in 2001. Kunduz, with a population of 300,000 and strategically situated on the border with Central Asia, had been under siege by the Taliban for much of this year, but a surprise attack by a few hundred Taliban just after a religious holiday overran its defenses and the security forces needed two weeks to retake the city. 

Afghan Government Names Notorious Former Warlord to Lead Effort to Oust Taliban From Northern Afghanistan

October 20, 2015

Afghanistan Looks to Former Warlord to Drive Out Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government has tapped a notorious former warlord to lead a mission to retake a remote northwestern district captured by the Taliban over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has no formal position in the military, but has a “bodyguard” of 640 men. He and other former warlords are assuming a larger role in the battle against the Taliban as troops have struggled to take on the insurgents without the aid of U.S. and NATO combat troops.

Dostum’s spokesman, Sultan Faizy, said he would assess the situation in Ghormach district, in the Faryab province, and submit recommendations to President Ashraf Ghani and the National Security Council. He will then implement their decision, only leading men into battle with their permission, the spokesman said.

Dostum, a prominent mujahedeen commander who fought the Soviets in the 1980s and took part in the civil war that erupted after their withdrawal, is expected to lead a combined force of army, police and his own militiamen. Government reinforcements are already being dispatched to Faryab.

Washington Doesn’t Help Pakistani Democracy

OCTOBER 20, 2015

U.S. policy toward Islamabad exacerbates Pakistan’s widening civil-military imbalance.

Back in October 2013, I argued in an op-ed that President Obama should use a visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to bolster the Pakistani government’s role relative to the military. The imbalance in civil-military relations, I contended at the time, was indicative of an incomplete democracy. I called on Washington to help strengthen civilian institutions such as Parliament and the police. “In a true democracy,” I wrote, “no institution, no matter how essential, should enjoy such unchecked power.”

Two years later, Sharif is back in Washington. Unfortunately, democracy in his country not only remains incomplete, but has also grown increasingly imperiled. In Pakistan, the idea of any semblance of a civil-military balance is a sham — and U.S. policy, unfortunately, helps widen the divide.

From FATA to Kunduz: The Pakistani Taliban’s new northwards orientation

OCTOBER 19, 2015

Vigil (left) with members of his team and members of the Northern Alliance west of Konduz Afghanistan in late 2001. 

On 28 September, 2015, the Taliban launched a major offensive in northern Afghanistan, capturing the city of Kunduz. The fact that some hundred Taliban fighters took over a major urban centre, an area which was held by 7,000 regular Afghan troops, in less than 24 hours, is not only a military debacle for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and an embarrassment for the provincial authorities, it also marks the greatest success for the Taliban at an open battlefield and an extraordinary ‘propaganda coup’.

The accidental circumstance that the temporary fall of Kunduz coincided with the first anniversary of the inauguration of Presidency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the creation of a joint government with Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah underpins the political paramountcy and dramatic exposure of the security dimension of this event. Subsequently, the Afghan Army supported by NATO special forces comprised of US, British, and German troops, spent tremendous effort to regain control over Afghanistan’s sixth largest city with its 300,000 inhabitants. As one of the provincial capitals in the country’s north, Kunduz is of major geostrategic importance. The city is linked by highways to Kabul in the south, with Mazar-e-Sharif in the west and Tajikistan in the north, Afghanistan’s most significant gateway to Central Asia. Controlling Kunduz means controlling not only formal trade but also the most lucrative informal one: the smuggling of drugs. But even if the Taliban are not able to hold Kunduz for long, the ongoing battle over this important city and its hinterland points at various new developments on Afghanistan’s battlefield.

Nuclear tango in Afghan shadow

A 2013 file photo of U.S. President Barack Obama meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office at the White House.

The discussions over a possible U.S.-Pak. nuclear deal reminds us of the 1980s, when the Reagan administration deliberately overlooked Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear activities. Notwithstanding its current troubles in Afghanistan, Washington should steer clear of repeating past mistakes.

As Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visits the U.S., it is clear that the U.S. and Pakistan are looking for some kind of a ‘nuclear deal’ and that the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan once again provides the strategic justification. There is a sense of déjà vu, this exercise is reminiscent of the time of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The outcome then proved to be counterproductive in the long run: by the time Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan and the U.S. re-imposed nuclear sanctions in 1990, Pakistan was already in possession of nuclear weapons, U.S.-Pakistan relations had gone into a downward spiral and, within Pakistan, thejihadi-sectarian virus was taking root.

Pakistani nuclear forces, 2015


Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 110 to 130 warheads, an increase from an estimated 90 to 110 warheads in 2011. With several delivery systems in development, four operating plutonium production reactors, and uranium facilities, the country’s stockpile will likely increase over the next 10 years, but by how much will depend on many things. Two key factors will be how many nuclear-capable launchers Islamabad plans to deploy, and how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows. Based on Pakistan’s performance over the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapons deployments, the authors estimate that its stockpile could realistically grow to 220 to 250 warheads by 2025, making it the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapon state. Pakistan appears to have six types of currently operational nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, plus at least two more under development: the short-range Shaheen-1A and medium-range Shaheen-3. Pakistan is also developing two new cruise missiles, the ground-launched Babur (Hatf-7) and the air-launched Ra’ad (Hatf-8). 

Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal and is growing its fissile materials production industry. Since our last Nuclear Notebook on the country in 2011 (Kristensen and Norris, 2011), it has deployed two new nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and a new medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), and is developing two extended-range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and two new nuclear-capable cruise missiles.