12 November 2015

Don't Mess with Nuclear-Armed China!

Written by Frank Li
11 November 2015

In response to the recent U.S. hostility (e.g. Ukraine), Russian President Putin famously said: Vladimir Putin: Don’t mess with nuclear-armed Russia. No Chinese leader has publicly taken a similar position, yet, despite the recent U.S. provocative actions (U.S. warship sails close to Chinese artificial island on South China Sea). But as a Chinese-American, I must warn my fellow Americans now: don’t mess with nuclear-armed China!

1. South China Sea

Taliban Infighting over Succession Turns Deadly

November 8, 2015

Taliban insurgents loyal to rival leaders have been fighting in a southeastern province of Afghanistan, where about 50 men on both sides have been killed in two days, an Afghan official said Sunday.
Fighters in a breakaway faction led by Mullah Mohammad Rasool have been joined by Islamic State militants, according to Mohmand Nostrayar, governor of the Arghandab district of Zabul province.



Pentagon Wants to Pair Troops with Machines to Deter Russia, China

More than a year in the works, Pentagon leaders are betting an ambitious effort to pair soldiers with machines to give the American military an edge on the battlefield of the future. 

SIMI VALLEY, CALIF. – Pentagon leaders believe pairing soldiers with machines in combat will give American troops an edge on the battlefield of the future.

Marcus Weisgerber is the global business reporter for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for nearly a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of ...Full Bio

China’s Year in Space and Manned Space Flight Predicted for 2016

Andrew Jones
November 9, 2015

China launches Yaogan-28 remote sensing satellite from Taiyuan 

China on Sunday launched its latest remote sensing satellite on a Long March 4B rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi Province in North China.

The Yaogan Weixing-28 payload blasted off at 15:06 Beijing time (09:06 UTC), making it China’s 14th orbital launch of the year so far.

The satellite was made by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for the Chinese space program, but little is known regarding the uses of the Yaogan Weixing series of remote sensing satellite.

Chinese media describe them generically as being mainly for scientific experiments, land resource surveying, crop yield estimates and disaster prevention and reduction and other fields.

However, western analysts believe the series of satellites are of a military nature, using electronic intelligence (ELINT), electro-optical and synthetic aperture radar sensing equipment.

China Tests New Anti-Satellite Missile

Bill Gertz
November 9, 2015

China Tests Anti-Satellite Missile

China recently conducted a flight test of a new missile capable of knocking out U.S. satellites as part of Beijing’s growing space warfare arsenal.

The test of a Dong Neng-3 exoatmospheric vehicle was carried out Oct. 30 from China’s Korla Missile Test Complex in western China, said two defense officials familiar with reports of the test.

A Chinese press report also provided details of what was said to be a missile defense interceptor flight test carried out Nov. 1. Photos of the missile’s contrails were posted online.

However, the defense officials said the DN-3 is primarily a direct-ascent missile designed to ram into satellites and destroy them, even if intelligence assessments hold that the weapon has some missile defense capabilities.

The DN-3 flight test was the eighth time China carried out an anti-satellite missile test. An earlier test occurred in July 2014, which China also asserted was a missile defense test.

State Department and Pentagon officials declined to comment on the anti-satellite test.

China Displays New 5th Generation Stealth Fighter

November 10, 2015

China’s first indigenously developed fifth-generation fighter jet had its international debut at this year’s Dubai Air Show, China Military Online reports. According to the website, this was the first time that the FC-31 “Gyrfalcon” (aka J-31) was exhibited overseas.

At the air show the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is trying to pitch the FC-31 as an alternative to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, however, with limited success so far.

As of now, only the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has expressed interest and is “in negotiations” with AVIC to buy the aircraft, according to an AVIC project manager. Other potential customers include Iran and Pakistan.

5 QUESTIONS WITH REP. RANDY FORBES ON FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

NOVEMBER 9, 2015

This is the latest installment of our “5 Questions” series, in which we feature an expert, practitioner, or leader answering — you guessed it — five questions on a topic of current relevance in the world of defense, security, and foreign policy. Well, four of the questions are topical. The fifth is about booze. We are War on the Rocks, after all.

We’re joined this week by Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

1. Was the recent Freedom of Navigation operation in the South China Sea too little too late? What should President Obama order the Navy to do next?

I would say better late than never, because these operations do send an important signal about U.S. commitment to freedom of the seas and international law. With that said, the failure of this Administration to conduct these operations between 2011 and last month sent precisely the wrong signal to both Beijing and America’s allies in the region. And by publicly deliberating and delaying for so long, I fear the White House has called into question both its commitment to the region and its ability to respond to provocations around the world.

Turkey’s Troubling ISIS Game

NOV. 7, 2015 
Kurdish protesters and Turkish riot police officers clashed in Diyarbakir on Nov. 1, after election results showed a clear victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party.CreditBulent Kilic/Agence France-

SANLIURFA, Turkey — ABOVE a restaurant specializing in sheep’s head soup, with steaming tureens of broth in the window, two young Syrian journalists took up residence in this ancient town in southeastern Turkey. They had fled Raqqa, the stronghold in Syria of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and devoted their time to denouncing the crimes of the barbarous jihadi group. Today, their second-floor apartment is a crime scene, with a red police seal on the door.

Islam Is a Religion of Violence

NOVEMBER 9, 2015

In the past few weeks, both Russia and the United States have escalated their military campaigns against the Islamic State. As the brutal jihadist group continues to wreak havoc in Syria and Iraq, Foreign Policy asked Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, and United States Institute of Peace acting Vice President Manal Omar, one of the foremost voices on peace and Islam, to debate what is behind this newest breed of extremism and how can it be defeated. In the age of al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram, is there a link between the violence these groups perpetrate and the faith they profess? (Read Manal Omar’s piecehere.)

In the 14 years since the attacks of 9/11 brought Islamic terrorism to the forefront of American and Western awareness and then-President George W. Bush launched the “Global War on Terror,” the violent strain of Islam appears to have metastasized. With tracts of Syria and Iraq in the hands of the self-styled Islamic State, Libya and Somalia engulfed in anarchy, Yemen being torn apart by civil war, the Taliban resurging in Afghanistan, and Boko Haram terrorizing Nigeria, policymakers are farther away from eliminating the threat of violent Islamism than they were when they began the effort. In fact, Western countries are increasingly witnessing domestic attacks such as the murder of British military drummer Lee Rigby and the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, the shootings at Parliament Hill in Canada in 2014, the attacks at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and at a Jewish supermarket in Paris this past January, and most recently the terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on a military recruiting center and naval compound.

Lessons Learned From The 1983 War Scare With the USSR and the ABLE Archer Nuclear Exercise

Sam Roberts
November 10, 2015

NATO War Games Unwittingly Put Soviets and U.S. on ‘Hair Trigger’ in ’83, Analysis Suggests

In December 1988, Jörg Winger was a West German Army radio operator eavesdropping on Soviet military channels when he overheard a startling message: The Russians wished him Merry Christmas by name.

“That was the moment where we realized that we had moles on the base,” he recalled.

Mr. Winger, now a television producer, and his wife, Anna LeVine Winger, an American author, later harvested that incongruous holiday greeting as grist for a retro series, “Deutschland 83.” They consulted a historian who provided an even more dramatic narrative arc: In 1983, according to recently declassified documents, the Russians apparently became convinced that a NATO nuclear training exercise code named Able Archer 83 was a cover for an actual nuclear strike against the Warsaw Pact nations.

Obama Shutters the Peace Process Shop

November 9, 2015


This week the Obama administration once again declared the peace process, and hopes for an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, closed for the season. White House officials stated that an agreement between the two sides "isn't in the cards" during what remains of the Obama presidency.

Having worked on the peace process for Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, I can't recall a single administration that ever made such a statement.

This was not the first time President Barack Obama authorized such a declaration; he made a similar statement in March this year. But the timing now -- just before the arrival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and with roughly a year to go in Obama's presidency -- is curious indeed. It's a stunningly honest admission, particularly for a president who set such high goals seven years ago. But was it a wise one? What is the Obama Administration up to?

What are the Shiites dying in Syria for?

5/11/2015 

The excellent report LBC aired on how Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has bought $22 million worth of real estate, since 2005, draws an unmistakable irony: While young Shiite men are dying in Syria — presumably defending minorities against a possible ISIS onslaught — minority charlatans like Bassil are busy accumulating wealth.

Bassil is not the only corrupt government official the Shiites are defending. Stories of the epic corruption of Bashar Assad’s cousin,Rami Makhlouf, were famous long before the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in 2011.

Corrupt Christian Bassil and Alawite Makhlouf are the leaders of the minorities that Shiite men — along with poor Alawite men and women — are dying to protect.

Perhaps it is time for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to come clean with the Shiites as to why he is sending their men into the Syrian inferno. Nasrallah himself has been so confused about Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war that his justifications to his supporters have often been contradictory.

WHY I FEAR THE DIRTY BOMB AND YOU SHOULD TOO

NOVEMBER 10, 2015

“It is hard to imagine a more terrifying prospect than an extremist group like ISIS armed with nuclear or radiological weapons.” I wrote that statement just a few weeks ago in a blog post for The Huffington Post after an Associated Pressinvestigation revealed that nuclear materials smugglers have been trying to sell highly radioactive compounds to the Islamic State for use in a radiological weapon or “dirty bomb.” It seems like a fairly obvious assessment to me.

But Al Mauroni, the director of the U.S. Air Force Center for Unconventional Weapons Studies, disagrees. In a recent piece on War on the Rocks he attacks me for this comment. In doing so, Mauroni also dismisses similar warnings from Sen. Sam Nunn, President Barack Obama, scores of intelligence officials and my fellow nonproliferation experts who all say that the threat of a dirty bomb attack on American soil is real. He writes:

The reason that Cirincione and his fellow arms control analysts want to beat the drum about the risk of nuclear terrorism is that it feeds the public fear of nuclear weapons. … Scaring the public about nuclear terrorism — even if it’s just in the form of a dirty bomb — benefits their agendas.

DRUGS, HUMAN RIGHTS, TRADE, AND DISTRUST: THE EVOLUTION OF U.S.–MEXICAN RELATIONS

NOVEMBER 10, 2015

Last month, citing human rights concerns, the United States quietly withheld about $5 million in counternarcotics assistance for Mexico. The State Department declined to certify that Mexico met conditions imposed on the aid by Congress under the Leahy Amendment, triggering the 15-percent reduction in funding for Mexican security agencies. Though more than $140 million of other U.S. funding will continue to flow, the decision — first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by a deputy spokesman at the State Department — was cheered by human rights advocates. A senior official at Human Rights Watch told The New York Times that the cut was “unprecedented.”

Russia’s FSB Security Service Ran the Security for Moscow’s Illegal Sports Doping Program, Report

November 10, 2015

Denials, conspiracy claims as Russia reacts to doping crisis 

MOSCOW (AP) — From reading Russia’s major newspapers Tuesday, it would be hard to know the country is facing a vast doping scandal.

Most of the country’s major dailies followed the government’s lead in playing down the accusations from the World Anti-Doping Agency commission, which Monday accused Russia of operating a state-sponsored doping program in track and field.

The scandal was typically confined to a small item in the sports pages, with only two business papers and the sports dailies giving it front-page space.

“Are they taking Rio away from us?!” read the headline on the front page of Sport Express, referring to calls to ban Russia’s track and field team from next year’s Olympics.

Russia has for years reveled in its re-emergence as a sports superpower, the pinnacle coming when it topped the medal tally at its home Winter Olympics in Sochi last year. Now that prestige is again in jeopardy, with the country’s internal intelligence service, the FSB, accused of running surveillance on the Olympic doping lab. Worse, it comes at a time when the country is already under pressure over its hosting of the 2018 soccer World Cup amid the scandals rocking FIFA.

Using Social Media Sources to Find Russian Soldiers in Syria

November 9, 2015

Russian soldiers geolocated by photos in multiple Syria locations, bloggers say

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Three serving or former Russian soldiers have been geolocated by photographs in Syria, including locations near Hama, Aleppo and Homs, Russian bloggers said on Sunday, suggesting the Kremlin’s operation stretches well beyond its air campaign.

Russia first launched air strikes to support President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s four-year civil war on Sept. 30 but has repeatedly said it has no intention of mounting a ground operation.

It has instead said it will limit its help to military trainers, advisers and deliveries of military equipment.

U.S. security officials and independent experts told Reuters last week that Moscow had increased its forces in Syria to 4,000 personnel from an estimated 2,000. A U.S. defense official said multiple rocket-launcher crews and long-range artillery batteries were deployed outside four bases the Russians were using.

Sunday’s report by Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), a group of Russian investigative bloggers, said that photos on social media had been used to geolocate three Russian serving or former soldiers in Syria.

U.S. Navy: Time to Bring Back the S-3 Viking?

By Ben Ho Wan Beng
November 09, 2015

The boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in the U.S. state of Arizona may offer the solution – an interim one perhaps – to two critical capability gaps that carrier air wings (CVWs) of the United States Navy are facing for the foreseeable future. A Hudson Institute report, Sharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force and High-End Conflict, which was released in October highlights, among other issues, the relatively short range of the CVW’s strike aircraft and its limited anti-submarine warfare (ASW) repertoire. Also released last month was Retreat from Range: The Rise and Fall of Carrier Aviation, a hard-hitting analysis by Dr. Jerry Hendrix of the Center for a New American Century (CNAS) that alludes to the CVW’s lack of deep-strike capabilities.

LRS-B, the Protest Edition

November 9, 2015

So Boeing, on behalf of its teaming arrangement with Lockheed Martin, has protested. Late last month, the US Air Force chose Northrop Grumman to develop and build its hoped-for Long-Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B), and the losing bidder is naturally unhappy. Two friends at the defense conference I’m attending this weekend expressed alternate but emotional reactions: well of course they protested said the writer; geez I was hoping they wouldn’t said the consultant. I wasn’t calling the odds, figuring that the nuances of corporate strategy and the degree of corporate indignation were unknowable. But that’s the problem with this episode of the drama—the unknowable knows inherent in this program are nearly inscrutable, but the policy implications of yet another protest are more clear.

NSA Says It Will End Bulk SIGINT Eavesdropping Program by End of This Month

November 10, 2015

U.S. spy agency to end bulk call data collection by end November - memo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency is ready to end later this month collecting Americans’ domestic call records in bulk and move to a more targeted system, meeting a legislative deadline imposed earlier this year, according to a government memo seen by Reuters.

The memo, sent on Monday from the NSA to relevant committees in the U.S. Congress, stated that the spy agency “has successfully developed a technical architecture to support the new program” in time for it to become operational as scheduled on Nov. 29.

In stating the programme’s progress and the NSA’s intent to use the new system, the memo appeared to rebut claims by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican security hawk, who told Reuters last week that he anticipated the new programme would never be used because it was overly cumbersome and slow.

A crisis without end

9 NOVEMBER 2015

Perhaps the greatest academic growth area over the past twenty years or so has been “European integration studies”, a field that has both analysed and boosted support for the European “project”. Almost all of its practitioners have proceeded from the assumption that the process of integration is – must be – “irreversible”. It is the intellectual equivalent of the principle of the Europeanacquis communautaire by which powers, once surrendered or pooled, cannot be retrieved. Or, more unkindly, one might see it as a “European Brezhnev doctrine”, by which socialism, being inevitable, could not be allowed to fail in any country in which it was already established.

But what if this is not so? What if, as the Croatian political scientist Josip Glaurdic, an expert on the collapse of Yugoslavia, once quipped, what we really need is a school of “European disintegration studies”?

The stark truth is that in the past century or so of European history there have been many more examples of disintegration than integration.

The NSA school: How the intelligence community gets smarter, secretly

By Susan Svrluga 
November 9 2015

A tool once commonly used by students at the National Cryptologic School to diagram communications networks. (Susan Svrluga/The Washington Post.)

Leonard Reinsfelder’s wife found a note on her car as she was leaving a shopping center one day: “Have your husband give us a call. We think we could use him.”

There was a phone number, and nothing else.

So began Reinsfelder’s career at the National Cryptologic School, which functions as a sort of college for the National Security Agency and the intelligence community.

Reinsfelder, a high-school Spanish teacher with multiple graduate degrees, took the job not knowing what it would be; they couldn’t tell him until he got inside and got security clearance.

Telecoms, Manufacturers Delaying Critical Patches for Classified Military Smartphones


US military personnel take photos of President Barack Obama after his remarks to US Forces Korea and Korean troops in Seoul.

You would think the nation’s military would move with lightning speed to patch cell phones vulnerable to hackers, particularly after recent disclosures that Chinese hackers harvested the personal information of 21.5 million U.S. government employees and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard broke into the Obama Administration’s social media accounts.

You would be wrong.

For nearly five months, military officials and officers have continued to use phones that can be attacked by the “Stagefright” bugs, a collection of flaws in the phones’ software code that gives attackers access to everything that flows through compromised devices. The bugs can expose those devices to hackers through a simple text message or a visit to the wrong web site.

NSA Says It Will End Bulk SIGINT Eavesdropping Program by End of This Month

November 10, 2015

U.S. spy agency to end bulk call data collection by end November - memo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency is ready to end later this month collecting Americans’ domestic call records in bulk and move to a more targeted system, meeting a legislative deadline imposed earlier this year, according to a government memo seen by Reuters.

The memo, sent on Monday from the NSA to relevant committees in the U.S. Congress, stated that the spy agency “has successfully developed a technical architecture to support the new program” in time for it to become operational as scheduled on Nov. 29.

In stating the programme’s progress and the NSA’s intent to use the new system, the memo appeared to rebut claims by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican security hawk, who told Reuters last week that he anticipated the new programme would never be used because it was overly cumbersome and slow.

Congress passed legislation earlier this year that brought an end to the NSA’s indiscriminate gathering of U.S. phone metadata, a practice exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden more than two years ago.

During Cold War the CIA Knew What Soviet Spy Satellites Were Monitoring

Steven Aftergood
November 9, 2015

In 1963, CIA Said It Had Copies of Soviet Spysat Images

In a newly disclosed memorandum from 1963, the Director of Central Intelligence advised the Secretary of State that the CIA had “good reproductions” of Soviet satellite imagery.

This puzzling remark appears to suggest a previously unrecognized capability of the CIA.

The declassified memo summarizes a July 3, 1963 telephone conversation between DCI John McCone and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. It was discovered by researchers David M. Barrett and Eric P. Swanson.

According to the memo, McCone said that the U.S. had “for some time tried to determine whether the Soviets were actually photographing and the extent they were from satellites.” The DCI said “it has been determined they have been and we have good reproductions of what they are getting.” The DCI was to brief the President on the subject the following week.

In an article discussing the memo in the journal Intelligence & National Security, Barrett and Swanson wrote that they found “no references in the intelligence literature to the United States having had the capability to see what the Soviet satellites were seeing, much less any treatment of how the CIA obtained the ‘good reproductions’.”

Bidders on Australian Submarine Contract Hit by Russian and Chinese Hackers

November 9, 2015

Bidders in Australian submarine project hit by hackers

SYDNEY – All three bidders competing for a 50 billion Australian dollars ($35.3 billion) submarine contract have been targeted by Chinese and Russian cyberattacks, according to local media reports.

The submarine builders in France, Germany and Japan have all been provided with the highly confidential technical requirements for the Royal Australian Navy’s new submarines, which will form the basis for each country’s proposal.

Manfred Klein, campaign manager of German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, told The Australian newspaper, “We have about 30 to 40 (hacking) attempts per night, that’s what our IT people say.”

The bidders declined to publicly say which countries were the source of the espionage, but sources privately indicate that China and Russia are responsible.

“They’re trying to get into everyone’s communications,” John White, chairman of TKMS in Australia, stated to the newspaper. “Espionage and breaches of security … you just assume it is happening. Everybody is in that game. It’s a space that people play in. We don’t suspect anyone, we suspect everybody.”

New Website Launched on the Soviet-Era Czech Spy Service

November 9, 2015

New website launched on Czechoslovak Communist secret service

Prague, Nov 5 (CTK) - The Platform of European Memory and Conscience (PEPS) opened yesterday a new web site on the Czechoslovak Communist secret service StB giving an insight into its structures and work between 1969 and 1989, PEPS executive director Neela Winkelmannova has said.

The interactive pages of iBadatelna, a documentation portal on the StB, are in the Czech-English version. They are to help understand the totalitarian history and its influence on present-day society, PEPS officials told journalists.

The web is both for the general and profesional public, Winkelmannova said.

One has to read the entries. They are quite detailed, targeting the professional public and the decision-makers who have, on the basis of the information, a better idea of how the state structures of eastern Europe ‘tick’, she added.

The portal is to show how the secret services of the Soviet satellite countries, established at a command of the Soviet KGB, worked.

It offers six icons, showing the structures of the StB.

NSA‘s Secret University

Susan Svrluga 
November 9, 2015

The NSA school: How the intelligence community gets smarter, secretly

Leonard Reinsfelder’s wife found a note on her car as she was leaving a shopping center one day: “Have your husband give us a call. We think we could use him.”

There was a phone number, and nothing else.

So began Reinsfelder’s career at the National Cryptologic School, which functions as a sort of college for the National Security Agency and the intelligence community.

Reinsfelder, a high-school Spanish teacher with multiple graduate degrees, took the job not knowing what it would be; they couldn’t tell him until he got inside and got security clearance.

The National Cryptologic School is a school unlike any other. It’s extremely carefully guarded, for starters, with a series of checkpoints to get to class.

Some of the students’ identities are secret.

Missing and Wanted

November 8, 2015

It is a question one expects to hear on Veterans Day, even though it is never asked by leading journalists or answered by the major candidates. But that basic question is: How will we now defend ourselves at home and abroad?

In this three-part series, I argue that the current political sweepstakes has failed to stimulate a national conversation on defense, much less a working consensus (Part 1); that this buy-in is an essential first step in any blueprint for defending our interests at home and abroad against a widening array of enemies and threats (Part 2); and, finally in Part 3, that this conversation should include a wide-ranging debate on our national manpower policies, including some form of national service.

There are two reasons why these issues have become so urgent. The first is that we are in serious difficulty, our once-proud foreign policy collapsing into a sea of troubles. President Obama recently boasted to the UN that he “commands the world’s most powerful military.” Yet skeptics contrast his failed red lines in Syria and temporizing over ISIS with Vladimir Putin’s quick dispatch of a robust Russian intervention force that instantly re-defined the Middle Eastern power calculus. Mr. Obama similarly promised a pivot to the Pacific while presiding over austerity measures that forced the US Navy to retire more ships than it is building. So when the Pentagon, recently disputing Chinese territorial claims, dispatched a guided missile destroyer to the South China Sea, the PRC obliquely threatened war. This increasing mismatch between words, means and ends carries the real risk of war-by-misadventure with Russia or China – citing only the short list of potential adversaries.

Air Force struggles to add drone pilots and address fatigue and stress


Deep in the 60,000 acres of desert on this desolate air base, past a billboard that shows a Predator soaring in the sky, lies a high-security compound where America's drone pilots learn to hunt and kill from half a world away.

But "the Farm," as the little-known Air Force boot camp is known, faces a crisis.

Experienced pilots and crews complain of too much work, too much strain and too little chance for promotion operating the Predator and Reaper drones that provide surveillance and that fire missiles in Iraq, Syria and other war zones. Partly as a result, too few young officers want to join their ranks.

The Air Force has struggled with a drone pilot shortage since at least 2007, records show. In fiscal year 2014, the most recent data available, the Air Force trained 180 new pilots while 240 veterans left the field.

U.S. Military Officials Aim to Bolster Troop Presence in Europe

JULIAN E. BARNES And GORDON LUBOLD
Nov. 8, 2015

Pentagon leaders propose rotating more forces to the Continent to deter Russia

SIMI VALLEY, Calif.—Senior U.S. military leaders have proposed sending more forces into Europe on a rotating basis to build up the American presence and are stepping up training exercises to counter potential Russian interference with troop transfers in the event of a crisis with Moscow.

The new steps would allow for the presence of multiple U.S. brigades in Europe at any given time, increasing that number above current limits.

They were outlined at a forum here over the weekend by military and defense leaders, who condemned military aggression and threats from Russian President Vladimir Putinand warned that the U.S. must not let Moscow’s cooperation with the West in Syria distract from the conflict in Ukraine.

IT’S TIME TO UPGRADE THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

NOVEMBER 10, 2015

The worldwide threats confronting our nation, now and in the future, have never been more complex, uncertain, and daunting. America will not succeed in the 21st century with anything less than the most innovative, agile, efficient, and effective defense organization. I have not met a senior civilian or military leader who thinks we have that today.

That’s why the Senate Armed Services Committee is conducting a major oversight initiative on the future of defense reform. The purpose of this effort is to ask what problems are impeding the performance of the Department of Defense, define these problems clearly, and rigorously consider what reforms may be necessary. Last month, we began a series of hearings to consider the strategic context and global challenges facing the United States, defense strategy, the future of warfare, the civilian and military organizations of the Department of Defense, and its acquisition, personnel, and management systems. Much of this is the legacy of the Goldwater-Nichols reforms that were enacted in 1986. These will be the subject of the committee’s hearing today.

11 November 2015

America Needs a New Afghanistan Strategy

November 10, 2015

On October 15, President Barack Obama announced a change in the plan regarding the U.S. troops that are currently in Afghanistan. The original planhad been to reduce their number by half before the end of this year and withdraw the rest by 2016, leaving only enough to protect the embassy. Now, as the President said, the U.S. will “maintain our current posture of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, 2016.” Critically, he also added that the troops’ “mission will not change.” That is regrettable. American efforts in Afghanistan, through two consecutive administrations, have resulted only in seeing the war worsen and American interests deteriorate. If ever there was a time to change the mission, it is now.

Who Are Southeast Asia's 'Lost' Generations?

November 10, 2015

The theme of ‘lost generations’ is relevant across Southeast Asia, a region besieged by decades of civil war, foreign invasion, military dictatorship, and economic underdevelopment over the past half century.

In Myanmar, the ‘missing’ generation refers to young people who were deprived by the military regime of the right to political participation in the 1990s. The junta shut down many universities after the 1988 student uprising which forced students either to quit school or seek refuge abroad. Political science programs wereremoved from the curriculum which the military blamed for the rise of activism in the country. After a decade, there was already a shortage of skilled labor. Furthermore, a new generation emerged with little or no exposure to democratic politics. The youth and first time voters in this year’s historic general election belong to this generation.

Reconciling China’s PLAN: Strategic Intervention, Tactical Engagement

By Sean P. Quirk
November 09, 2015

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing. Passing, harassing, and shadowing in the case of Chinese vessels meeting U.S. warships.

Such exchanges comprise the unfortunate core of U.S.-China military-to-military (“mil-to-mil”) engagement. China’s harassment of the USNS Impeccable in 2009 and USS Cowpens in 2013 are but the most prominent cases of its persistent belligerence in the South China Sea. This tactically aggressive behavior from the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) reflects a grander expansion strategy emanating from Beijing. From new Chinese passports with the infamous nine-dashed line, media trumpeting Chinese claims over Japanese-governed Senkaku Islands, and maritime occupation of Scarborough Shoal, China’s maritime expansion is the well-orchestrated foreign policy of the Chinese Communist Party through its national ministries.