13 November 2015

Obama stresses country's debt to veterans

November 12, 2015

President Barack Obama delivers the Veterans Day address during a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2015.

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va., Nov. 11, 2015 -- Americans must do more than simply recognize what veterans mean to the country one day a year, President Barack Obama said here today.

While it is right and proper to recognize veterans on Veterans Day, "our tributes will ring hollow if we stop there," the president said after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

"If tomorrow, after the parades and the ceremonies, we roll up the banners and sweep the veterans' halls and go back to our daily lives, forgetting the bond between the service of our veterans and our obligations as citizens, then we will be doing a profound disservice to our veterans and to the very cause for which they serve," he said.

Veterans Day "is also a reminder of all that they still have to give to our nation and our duty to them," Obama said.

There are 21.5 million veterans today and the country is in the midst of a new wave of veterans, the president said. Since 9/11 more than a million service members have completed their military service and returned to civilian life. Each year another 200,000 transition to veteran status. The 9/11 generation - tested in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - deserve the care they were promised, Obama said.


"The good news is that in recent years, we have made historic investments to boost the VA budget, expand benefits, offer more mental health care and improved care for our wounded warriors, especially those with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury," the president said.

The disability claims backlog is slashed by nearly 90 percent. There has been tremendous progress in "reducing the outrage of veterans' homelessness," the president said. "Still, the unacceptable problems that we've seen, like long wait times and some veterans not getting the timely care that they need, is a challenge for all of us if we are to match our words with deeds."

Despite the progress, Obama is not satisfied. "We are going to keep investing in the facilities and the physicians and the staff to make sure that our veterans get the care that you need when you need it," he said. "That is our obligation, and we are not going to let up."

Veterans also need the skills needed to compete for 21st century jobs. More than 1.5 million veterans and their Families are using the post-9/11 G.I. Bill for education. "That's why we worked to make sure that every state now provides veterans and their Families with in-state tuition," Obama said. "That's why we're fighting to make it easier for our veterans to get the licenses and certifications to transition the outstanding skills they gained in the armed services to civilian jobs. That's why we're helping more veterans and military spouses find jobs."

Veteran unemployment is 3.9 percent - even lower than the national average, which is 5 percent.


Government alone can't do it all, nor should it, the president said. "I realize that with less than 1 percent of Americans serving in uniform, the other 99 percent of folks don't always see and appreciate the incredible skills and assets that our veterans can offer," he said. "On this Veterans Day, here's what I want every American to know. Our veterans are some of the most talented, driven, capable people on Earth."

Leaders tested on the battlefield have no fear of making decisions in a corporation. Specialists using cutting edge technologies can apply those skills in the civilian sector. Veterans demonstrated the ability to adapt, and while primarily warriors, also have performed humanitarian work and recovery operations. "They've managed large-scale projects, they've learned how to work on teams, how to stay committed to a mission, how to solve seemingly intractable problems," the president said. "They get stuff done, and they are selfless, and they are brave and they are qualified. And America needs folks who know how to get stuff done."

Service members who come home are not done serving. They are the ones volunteering for Scout troops or service organizations or at religious institutions.

"Our veterans are moms and dads, they are teachers and doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs, social workers and community leaders," he said. "They are serving in statehouses across the country, they are serving in Congress. You've got a proud veteran, retired Navy Capt. Scott Kelly, commander of the International Space Station, who is up there right now."


The president pointed out the journey of one veteran - Jennifer Madden. "Jen joined the army at 17 years old. She wanted to be just like her grandpa, a Korean War veteran," he said. "Her very first day of basic training was Sept. 11, 2001."

Madden deployed to Afghanistan where she pulled security details during attacks, and lost friends. "When she came home she tried to get back into her old life but she found she simply couldn't stay focused in school or at work," the president said. "She was struggling to relate to her Family and her friends. Soon she was self-medicating and became homeless.

"Jen felt like she had lost her mission, her sense of purpose," the president continued. "But then, thanks to an organization that connects veterans with therapists who donate their time, Jen was able to get counseling at no charge."

The young veteran began dealing with her post-traumatic stress, and she put her life back together. Today, "Jen and the love of her life, Josh, are raising two beautiful children," Obama said. "She is a licensed nurse. She works at a rehab facility helping folks who are just like her, including veterans, get back on their feet."

Madden is also working with the Joining Forces initiative, sponsored by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

"I tell Jen's story because, like all our brave men and women in uniform, Jen represents the best of who we are as a nation," the president said. "She has sacrificed for us and has the scars - seen and unseen - that are part of that sacrifice. And she is an example of what is possible when we express our gratitude not just in words, not just on one day, but through deeds every day when we open our hearts and give hope to our returning heroes."

India and the 21st Century’s Great Game

By Francis P. Sempa
November 11, 2015

The U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute recently published a monograph by Roman Muzalevsky on India’s strategic role in the 21st century’s “Great Game” in Central Asia. Titled “Unlocking India’s Strategic Potential in Central Asia,” Muzalevsky’s work analyzes the complicated relationships between, and rivalries among, India, China, Iran, Russia and the United States in the heart of the Eurasian landmass. He concludes that India and the United States can best advance their interests in the region if they develop a “strategic partnership” that allows them to both compete and collaborate with the other powers vying for influence in Central Asia.

1962 Sino-Indian War: The Occupation of Tibet by China and the American Secret War

By Brig Amar Cheema
12 Nov , 2015

This is the second of the series and is aimed to present details of the occupation of Tibet by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), followed by the American Secret War in Tibet, both events which preceded the Sino-Indian war of 1962. It is recommended that this be read in continuation with (1962, The Sino-Indian War: Reflections of the Past) which provides an overview of the war and sets the stage.

F-Insas Programme: Future Infantry Soldier As A System - A Reality Check

By Brig BS Chauhan
11 Nov , 2015

The future of the F-INSAS today is at the crossroads where the Weapons Sub-System and Body Armour and Individual Equipment Sub-System have made tangible progress and gradually, the basic weapons and BPJs, Ballistic Helmets along with other accessories over a horizon of two to five years would find their way in to Infantry Battalions. But the same may not be true for its Night Enabled Operations capability and its ability to operate seamlessly in a net-centric operational scenario; which is still a distant reality. The progress of Project F-INSAS is being carefully monitored by most advanced armies and it needs to be pursued by the Indian Army as an integrated, not piecemeal, effort.

Pursuance of the Soldier Modernisation Programmes is necessitated as the modern battlefields are becoming more and more multi-dimensional…

Slice of Outer Space for the Indian Military

By Maj Gen AK Chadha
11 Nov , 2015

India and China commenced their respective journey into space piggy back on the Soviet Union about six decades ago. But within a decade, China broke off from the Soviets and commenced her solo journey into space. China’s resolve and intent were clear and publicly stated by Mao,“…to make China an equal with the superpowers with the objective of placing a satellite in orbit by 1959 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the founding of the PRC.”1China trusted and placed the space program under People’s Liberation Army with military intent. China achieved what it stated and is a space power to reckon with today. India, on the other hand, made a modest beginning under civilian establishment with no military intent. India took baby steps and made modest gains and today is a space power in her own right.

Herat Calling: Region is set for the Great Game

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
12 Nov , 2015

The Fourth Herat Security Dialogue (HSD IV) held in Afghanistan on 2-3 October 2015 under aegis of Afghan Institute of Strategic Studies (AISS) saw participation by 17 countries including US, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Central Asia plus UN, NATO and OIC. Mr Salman Khurshid, former EAM India and Chief Guest at HSD IV spoke of inter regional civilization influences in the region, particularly India-Afghanistan and India-Persia, and explained that Hinduism is a way of life that embraces all and that India has Muslim Hindus, Christian Hindus, Buddhist Hindus, Jain Hindus etc; which is common phenomenon. Later, Dr Ali Akbar Shah, Professor, Delhi University addressing the audience in fluent Pashto said that the Islamic countries should learn from India where mysticism of all religions including of Islam have been amalgamated and absorbed, adding that India has taken in Islam brought by invaders as also by Muslim sages like Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. He spoke of Din-e-Ilahi introduced by Mughal Emperor Akbar and Sufiism, and that there was need to revive the true spirit of Islam, emphasizing that while everyone knows what has gone wrong, there was collective need to act to set it right.

An Afghan speaker stated that Pakistan had some 83,000 madrassas producing radicals by the millions and if only 10,000 of these specialized in suicide bombings, there could be 50 suicide bombings every day.

When Will TAPI Construction Begin?

November 11, 2015

For all of the issues buffeting the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline – from price disagreements to construction concerns to the violence expanding throughout northern Afghanistan – the project just won’t quit. Despite its continued delays and ballooning costs, the affiliated governments behind TAPI continue to push the project, regardless of the issues extant. Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov confirmed earlier this week that construction on TAPI – slated to run some 1,800 km and transit Turkmen gas to its three southern neighbors – would push past the struggles remaining and begin this December. Berdymukhamedov ordered Turkmengaz and Turkmengazneftstroi, as the Pakistan Tribune noted, “to begin building [Turkmenistan’s] section of the pipeline.” The decree, as the Tribune added, came following a high-level meeting in Istanbul with representatives from the four countries, and hews to the planned completion by 2018.

China's Great South China Sea Challenge: What Next and How to Respond

November 11, 2015

China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea has generated concern across Asia about China’s challenge to U.S. strategic primacy in the Western Pacific. The U.S. has belatedly responded to this challenge with a single ‘Freedom of Navigation’ operation (FONOP) that saw the deployment of the USS Lassen within the 12nm limit of Subi Reef on 27 October. So what might happen next?

The U.S. has indicated further FONOPs will occur at roughly the rate of two every quarter, which hopefully will send a clear message that clarifies mixed signalsemerging from the first deployment. Australia must choose whether it will jointhis effort by deploying its own vessels to reinforce a collective message that China’s claims to maritime rights under UNCLOS around artificial islands are not accepted by the region. Japan must also consider its response, given that Chinese assertion of control over the South China Sea—through which vital Japanese sea-lanes of communication run—would be an intolerable threat to Japan’s economic stability and national security.

China's Potential Pitfalls #3: Core Values

By Xue Li
November 12, 2015

After enjoying rapid development for nearly 40 years, China is at a turning point in terms of both economic growth and social development. In this series, Dr. Xue Li examines the five most critical challenges and potential pitfalls China faces today. See his previous pieces on Pitfall #1 and Pitfall #2 as well.

China lacks core values – values that are widely believed in by both officials and the people and reflected in their actions. Core values can also be understood as a system of cultural and political beliefs.

In place of core values, we see the ‘religion’ of worshiping money and material things widely manifested in China. As an example, when Chinese people make pilgrimages to temples throughout the country, they often throw coins to supplement their requests. We see piles of coins on the back of dragons, on the feet of Buddha, and thrown into pools. These sparkling coins are reflected in popular sayings such as “If you have money you can gets ghosts to act” and “Celestial beings can also be bribed.”

The Xi-Ma Meeting: Why Singapore?

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom
November 11, 2015

Much has been written already about last Saturday’s Singapore summit between Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party leader, and Ma Ying-jeou, the leader of Taiwan. Not surprisingly, the focus has tended to be on classic who, what, why, and when questions. Less has been said, though, about the where — and that’s too bad, as the way the location and event fit together is plenty interesting to ponder, too.

Pragmatic considerations led to Singapore serving as the site for this first-ever get together between a pair of presidents, one selected and the other elected, who are based on opposite sides of the Taiwan strait. There were also intriguing symbolic factors that made this unique Southeast Asian city the perfect venue for a summit that, due to all the fancy diplomatic footwork that made it possible, was nothing if not unusual. To cite just one unusual feature, each leader had to agree to be called “Mr.” rather than “President” throughout the meeting, a needed bit of rhetorical gymnastics since the Communist Party does not recognize the legitimacy of the government currently run by Mr. Ma, while the Nationalist Party or KMT does not recognize the legitimacy of the government currently run by Mr. Xi.

Setting the Record Straight on US Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea

November 11, 2015

The headline to this article promises a lot, especially since U.S. officials have been unwilling to publicly clarify the precise circumstances of the USS Lassen‘s operation in the South China Sea, near Subi Reef, on October 27, 2015. Fortunately, after more than two weeks of considering various public reports, citing mostly anonymous U.S. official sources and, notably, the skipper of the Lassen itself, experts have determined that the first U.S. freedom of navigation operation near Subi Reef was not an assertion of high seas freedom by the United States. Rather, the USS Lassen transited within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in compliance with theinnocent passage provisions outlined in Part II, Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In essence, the October 27 U.S. freedom of navigation patrol asserted that ships – both civil and military – had the right to sail near Subi Reef without notifying Chinese authorities as long as they complied with innocent passage regulations.

Revealed: China Tests Secret Missile Capable of Hitting US Satellites

November 11, 2015

China has conducted a flight test of a new anti-satellite missile, the The Washington Free Beaconreports. The test of a so-called Dong Neng-3 missile occurred on October 30 at the Korla Missile Test Complex in western China. Details surrounding the launch of the missile remain murky and it is unknown whether the test was successful.

According to the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao the “final-phase missile interception test had been conducted in the upper atmosphere.” However, in the past, China has repeatedly tried to disguise anti-satellite tests as missile defense interceptor tests. Since 2005, China has conducted eight anti-satellite tests. Tests conducted in 2010, 2013, and 2014 were labelled “land-based missile interception tests.”

China's Oppression, Inc.

By David Dawson
November 11, 2015

In all the media proclamations of the “end” of the one child policy, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that an altered version of the policy still exists – two children, rather than one. Of course, there are still multiple exceptions to the policy for minorities, and fines vary depending on location and income. But still, it’s worth asking why the government would restrict citizens to two children, when the response to the alteration of the policy has been so tepid.

Logically, one would think, that with an aging population and demographic crisis looming, many parents anxious about having more than one child due to high costs, and a government seemingly trying to exhort parents to have two children, having this restriction would be counterproductive – not to mention the fact the policy has caused horrific numbers of forced abortions and a staggering cost in terms of public outrage.

So why restrict people to two children, when the government clearly wants more people to start having children? There is an answer, but it has very grim implications for other aspects of society as well – money.

Iraqi Kurds Launch Offensive to Recapture Town of Sinjar From ISIS

November 12, 2015

Kurds Launch Offensive to Retake IS-Held Iraqi Town Sinjar

SINJAR, Iraq — Kurdish Iraqi fighters, backed by the U.S.-led air campaign, launched an assault Thursday aiming to retake the strategic town of Sinjar, which the Islamic State group overran last year in an onslaught that caused the flight of tens of thousands of Yazidis and first prompted the U.S. to launch airstrikes against the militants.

A statement from the Kurdish Regional Security Council said some 7,500 peshmerga fighters were closing in on the mountain town from three fronts in an effort to take control of the town and cut off a strategic supply line used by the Islamic State militants. The statement also said the operation, dubbed Operation Free Sinjar, is aimed at establishing “a significant buffer zone to protect the city and its inhabitants from incoming artillery.”

Peshmerga fighters and the militants exchanged heavy gunfire in the early hours Thursday as Kurdish fighters began their approach amid heavy aerial bombardment. An Associated Press team saw a small American unit at the top of a hill along the front line calling in and confirming airstrikes.

Accident Reveals That Russia Intends to Deploy Nuclear Torpedoes on Subs, Russian State TV

November 12, 2015

Russian TV stations broadcast secret nuclear torpedo plans 

The Kremlin has admitted that Russian television accidentally showed secret plans for a nuclear torpedo system on air.

Two Kremlin-controlled channels, NTV and Channel One, showed a military official looking at a confidential document containing drawings and details of a weapons system called Status-6, designed by Rubin, a nuclear submarine construction company based in St Petersburg. 

The nuclear torpedoes, to be fired by submarines, would create “zones of extensive radioactive contamination making them unsuitable for military or economic activity for a long period”, says the document, which is clearly visible in the footage for several seconds.

The images were filmed during a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with military officials in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Monday.

The footage was aired on Tuesday and later deleted by the channels, but several websites still published screenshots from it.

Fox Business Network GOP Debates: The Winners and Losers

November 11, 2015

The one thing that is clear from yesterday’s GOP debate in Milwaukee is that the race itself isn’t any clearer. If no one scored a slam-dunk, it’s also the case that no one flamed out.

Donald Trump went to his signature immigration issue. Florida Senator Marco Rubio was his usual polished and slick self. And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, for the first time, displayed some real passion by reverting to his signature libertarian credo and shaking up the political correctness that surrounds the GOP’s discussion of foreign affairs.

The Paul who had back in September blasted Obama’s Iran deal disappeared. He’s morphing back into his old self, sounding like Dwight Eisenhower warning about an encroaching military-industrial complex. When the moderators asked about tax plans, Paul used it as an opportunity to single out defense spending. Paul’s line is as clear as it is basic: lavish military outlays are incompatible with traditional conservative fiscal prudence. He’s suggesting that it’s a neoconservative, not Republican, approach to foreign affairs.

GOP Candidates Sparred Over Wealth, War and Washington Itself

November 11, 2015

After the Republicans’ presidential-nomination debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday, the focus of the pundits was almost exclusively on who won and who lost, who performed well and who didn’t, who met expectations and who fell below. That’s understandable. After all, as Mark Twain said, it’s difference of opinion that makes horse races. And I’m not inclined to ignore that aspect of the event; hence, more on that below.

But perhaps a more significant exploration would focus on what the debate tells us about the Republican Party. It tells us that the GOP has coalesced behind a strong antipathy toward what has become known as crony capitalism.

This is no small matter. The country is in crisis, as Senator Ted Cruz said in his closing remarks, and each party must establish a credible narrative outlining the nature of the crisis and an approach to attacking it. For the Democrats, the narrative is clear: The problem is an unequal distribution of money and power. The enemy is rich people. The answer is European-style democratic socialism, with the managerial elite taking on more and more power and pushing more and more programs designed to redistribute wealth and societal prerogative.

Big Security Leak Investigation in The Netherlands Over Who in Parliament Leaked SIGINT Secrets to Press

November 12, 2015

Which MP leaked security info? MPs to decide whether to investigate

One or more Dutch MPs have leaked confidential information about security matters to the media, the public prosecution department said on Wednesday evening. However, no legal action can be taken against the MPs concerned by the department because it is considered to be a ‘crime of office’ and it is up to parliament to decide what should happen next. The leak focuses on the government’s repeated denial in 2013 that details about 1.8 million phone calls and internet messages made in the Netherlands were passed to the US security services. Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk was later forced to backtrack after claims were made in the media he had told a parliamentary committee which deals with confidential security issues about the information agreement with the US. Confidential Most party leaders are members of that committee but its work is supposed to be completely confidential. Broadcaster Nos says parliament is faced with a serious dilemma. If MPs decide not to follow up the report, it will damage the reputation of parliament and the committee itself. The committee was set up to give MPs some semblance of ‘control’ over the security services. If it does decide to investigate, there is a real risk that a prominent MP, possibly a member of the coalition government, could be involved, the broadcaster says. That person would then have to appear before the high court and could face up to a year in prison or a fine of €20,250.


NOVEMBER 12, 2015

What Sun Tzu teaches us about Turkey's power politics.
Only a couple of weeks ago, spectators of Turkish politics — almost unanimously — were convinced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice Development Party (AKP) were about to face yet another electoral defeat. In June, the AKP failed to achieve a majority in a general election for the first time since 2002. Its share of the vote dropped to little more than 40 percent, all the way from close to 50 percent from the elections of 2011. The June elections showed that Erdogan, long thought to be invincible by many, could actually bleed. Now that Erdogan was wounded, it would not take much to knock him out. Or so they thought.


NOVEMBER 12, 2015

More than once in the past decade or more, I guarantee that you have heard — or read — someone declare the United States would be better off today if the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) were still around and how without it, the United States was robbed of the ability to properly engage in information warfare today. Some of these discussions have been in Congress and at least one bill was introduced in recent years to try to recreate a limited USIA. However, laments about USIA are really a coded way of saying that we lack a strategy, an organizing principle, and empowered individuals to execute information warfare today.