16 February 2016

Now India is growing fast it’s time to update our tired image of the country

There is no immediately obvious reason why a colony that was exploited for 200 years before winning its independence should align itself with western powers

Indian tanks at the Republic Day parade. 

It is an annual ritual for tens of thousands of residents of Delhi: the sumptuous sight of floats, soldiers, tanks, dancers and dromedaries. Overhead roar jets. In the stands lining the path of the Republic Day parade , thousands cheer and wave. The visiting dignitaries – France’s François Hollande this year, Barack Obama last year – nod, smile and try not to let their envy at the latest set of topline figures about their host’s economic growth show too obviously

For that growth is as impressive as any of the displays of traditional arts or freshly painted armoured vehicles. It is certainly more important to India than either. New figures released by Indian authorities last week put economic growth in the emerging power at 7.5% in 2015, the highest in the world, and up from 6.9% the year before. Growth in China is heading in the opposite direction – predicted to be only 6.3% in 2016 – while the US will expand by a mere 2.6%. To spare Hollande’s blushes, let’s not even mention the predictions for France.
So, after several disappointing years, the elephant has once again begun to dance. And, in a world shaken by a series of rolling crises, anything remotely cheerful gets noticed. India’s economy is the 10th or 11th biggest in the world and is forecast to reach third, after the US and China, in less than 15 years.

*** The Ones to Watch: A Net Assessment of the Global Future

Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous. Pick your euphemism. The world can be both rich with culture and diversity and at the same time violently unforgiving. From nuclear-ambitious despots to resurgent Cold War adversaries, from refugee crises to climate change, threats and challenges exist in every corner of the globe. The question most often posed each year is which of these threats and challenges deserve our utmost focus? Where should we target our effort? What truly awaits us over the horizon?

Four writers, thinkers, and strategists have joined forces with The Bridge to widen our aperture and offer a glimpse into the security issues that confront us today and are likely to confront us tomorrow and into the future. With responses broken down by region, they present how a view of the most concerning of these issues. Perhaps this discussion will prompt an expanding discourse.

Four writers...four opinions...four global thinkers.


*** The new red army

February 11, 2016

India should worry about Xi Jinping's overhaul of the Chinese military.

Since Xi Jinping took over as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China and became president of the republic in November 2012 and March 2013 respectively, perhaps the most marked difference from his predecessor Hu Jintao has been his dealings with the military. Under the terms of his succession as head of the party and as president, Xi was also given his third post-chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC)-putting him in the unique position of commanding the party, government and military all at once.

Tough, Tortuous Road Ahead of Clinching Rafale Deal

By Radhakrishna Rao
15 Feb , 2016

With a view to meet the immediate, critical needs of the Indian Air Force (IAF) ,which is up against the problem of “squadron depletion” and coinciding with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s April 2015 visit to France, a government to government agreement was announced to acquire 36 Rafale multi role fighter aircraft in a flyaway condition. In one fell swoop, this deal brought to an end the nagging uncertainty over boosting the combat fitness of IAF in the backdrop of the phasing out the Soviet era Mig-21 and Mig-27 fighter jets from the frontline fighting formations. As it is, the home grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, taken up for development by the Bangalore based Aeronautical Development Agency(ADA) ,was originally conceived of as a replacement for ageing Mig fighters. However, the inordinate delay in the developmental schedule of Tejas nudged the Indian defence establishment to announce Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contest under which 126 fighters were to be acquired.

The Strategic Importance of the Siachen Glacier for India

By Zainab Akhter
13 Feb , 2016

The death of nine army jawans belonging to the Madras regiment on the Indian side and the miraculous survival of one of the brave Indian soldier (who unfortunately died in hospital in Delhi) has once again prompted a debate on whether to demilitarize the glacier or to maintain the status quo. This article is an attempt to understand the strategic importance of the Siachen glacier for India and tries to make a scenario of what it means for India in general and the people of Ladakh in particular if (in case) troops are withdrawn from the glacier? 

The eastern Karakoram Range where the Indian interpretation of line beyond NJ9842 (where the Cease Fire Line and later Line of Control was terminated), effectively divides the Indian Kashmir and the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) is claimed by both India and Pakistan. The Indian troops have been deployed on the Siachen glacier since 1984 in a befitting reply to the deployment of the Pakistani army on the other side of the glacier. But India dominates the heights and thus is in a strategically advantageous position vis-à-vis Pakistan. A ceasefire has been holding since November 2003, and most of the deaths on both sides of the glacier have been due to the extreme climatic conditions on what has been dubbed as the ‘World’s highest battle field’. Both countries maintain permanent military personnel at the glacier at a height of over 7,000 metres and is a prime example of mountain warfare. For the Nubra valley, the main source of the Nubra River is through the melting of the glaciers waters which then joins the Shyok River. The Shyok River then ultimately joins the Indus River which finally winds to Pakistan and is important for both India and Pakistan. “The roots of the conflict over Siachen lie in the non-demarcation of the cease-fire line on the map beyond a map coordinate known as NJ9842. The 1949 Karachi agreement and the 1972 Simla Agreement presumed that it was not feasible for human habitation to survive north of NJ9842. Prior to 1984 neither India nor Pakistan had any permanent presence in the area”.[1]

Northeast: The Threat Posed by External Actors

By Brig (Dr) SP Sinha
14 Feb , 2016

The extent of moral and material support by an external power(s) is one of the crucial factors for the success of any insurgency. The North-east insurgents have been particularly fortunate in having found sanctuaries or support in Bhutan and China in the North, Bangladesh in the South and Myanmar in the East. The insurgents have received moral and material support from China, Pakistan and Bangladesh at some time or the other.

The sanctuaries in Bhutan and Myanmar have, however not been the outcome of any adversarial or hostile relations between them and India, but because of the inability of their governments to adequately administer the border areas or deal effectively with the hostile activities of the Indian insurgents inside their respective borders.

The Idea of A Crown Colony

Former Army officer recounts a failed Siachen rescue operation and a fallen soldier

IBNLive.com 11:53 AM IST Feb 09, 2016

Since 1984 when the Indian Army pre-empted the Pakistani Army from occupying the glaciers and its dominant peaks by just a few hours, Siachen remains the world's highest and most inhospitable battlefield. Living under extremely harsh weather conditions, the Indian Army has over the years, lost over 850 soldiers in the icy expanse of the glacier.

Serving under unforeseen circumstances, the officers and soldiers often face the dilemma of taking decisions which may seem cruel, even when they know that it is the best possible call for the team. As brave as these men may seem while giving out the orders, taking such calls gives them the chills which haunt them even years after those words were said.

One such bone-chilling account is of Captain Raghu Raman. Captain Raman was posted in the Siachen Glacier for a year. Below is his article that was published in 1995 in the Infantry Journal.


Chandigarh. The last link between madness and sanity. I arrived in the late hours of the night. It was bitterly cold. Usually is, this time of the year. Clear sky though. They told me there was a confirmed flight next morning with my name on the manifest.

Pakistan’s Militant Genie may not go back into the Lamp

By Brig Atul Nagpal (Retd)
15 Feb , 2016

As Pakistan and the world come to terms with the Bachha Khan University (BKU) carnage, there is a realisation, now more than ever, of the persisting gaps and vulnerabilities in Pakistan’s security infrastructure, which terrorists have time and again exploited quite easily. The brutal attack also highlights the threats to the internal security of the country that have become complex and extensive over the years.

Militants have certainly been put on the back foot by the ongoing military operations in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), but their operational capabilities are still intact.

The main reasons behind this situation are firstly, the relocation of militant infrastructure to the Afghanistan side of Af-Pak and secondly, the presence of their support networks inside Pakistan.

Counterinsurgency Scorecard Update Afghanistan in Early 2015 Relative to Insurgencies Since World War II

0.8 MB 

Research Questions 
Which factors that have been identified as key contributors to success (or defeat) in insurgencies since World War II were present or absent in Afghanistan as of early 2015, according to a panel of experts? 
Where was there disagreement among the panel of experts on the presence or absence of these factors? 
Where did the COIN effort in Afghanistan in 2015 rank in comparison with historical wins and losses? 
In what areas will the COIN effort in Afghanistan need to improve to be on a more likely path to success, and what is the most promising path to ending the conflict? 

Previous RAND research examined 71 insurgencies begun and completed worldwide between World War II and 2010 to analyze correlates of success in counterinsurgency (COIN). A key finding was that a case's score on a scorecard of 15 equally weighted good and 11 equally weighted bad COIN factors and practices corresponded perfectly with the outcomes of the cases analyzed. That is, the balance of good and bad factors and practices was always positive when the outcome was a COIN win (insurgent loss) and always negative when the outcome was a COIN loss (insurgent win). Using the scorecard approach as its foundation, a RAND study sought to apply the findings to the case of Afghanistan in 2015. The effort involved an expert elicitation in which experts were asked to make "worst-case" assessments of the factors to complete the scorecard for ongoing operations in Afghanistan. It was the third Afghanistan-focused exercise conducted with the scorecard, allowing rough comparisons with scores assigned by expert panels in 2011 and 2013. The 2015 consensus results indicated that Afghanistan continues to have a positive score, though its score is tied with the lowest-scoring historical wins. Two factors remained absent in Afghanistan in 2015 but essential to success in historical COIN campaigns: disrupting flows of tangible support to the insurgents and a demonstration (and improvement) of commitment and motivation on the part of the Afghan National Security Forces, the primary COIN force since the coalition drawdown. Despite some potentially positive developments resulting from the 2014 election of a new government in Afghanistan, it appears that the most promising end to the conflict will be a negotiated settlement in which the Afghan government makes some concessions to the insurgents and in which external powers, including the United States and Pakistan, help broker a satisfactory power-sharing agreement that brings greater stability to the country.

Pakistan’s Hand in the Rise of International Jihad

FEB. 6, 2016 

The funeral of Saeed Jawad Hossini, 29, who was killed in a Taliban suicide attack in Kabul in January. Credit Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

TUNIS — PRESIDENT ASHRAF GHANI of Afghanistan has warned in several recent interviews that unless peace talks with Pakistan and the Taliban produce results in the next few months, his country may not survive 2016. Afghanistan is barely standing, he says, after the Taliban onslaught last year, which led to the highest casualties among civilians and security forces since 2001.

“How much worse will it get?” Mr. Ghani asked in a recent television interview. “It depends on how much regional cooperation we can secure, and how much international mediation and pressure can be exerted to create rules of the game between states.”

What he means is it depends on how much international pressure can be brought to bear on Pakistan to cease its aggression.

Hacktivism: India vs. Pakistan

Posted by RFSID
February 11, 2016

Floodlit international border between India and Pakistan, as seen from the International Space Station. 

When India gained independence from Britain in 1947, a new, predominantly Muslim nation of Pakistan was created during what was called the “partition.”

During this partition, about 15 million people were displaced and a million more died. The “hastily drawn” border by the departing British, which separated Pakistan from the mostly Hindu India, never fully resolved all the issues.

Several wars between the two nations ensued and tensions continue to this day. A floodlit, 1250-mile portion of the current international border (a.k.a. the Line of Control) is visible in a photo taken from the International Space Station

Why India Transferred Attack Helicopters to Afghanistan

India’s attack helicopter transfer to Afghanistan suggests a new era in ties between New Delhi and Kabul. 

Earlier this month, the Afghan Ministry of Defense inducted three Mi-25 attack helicopters into the Afghan Air Force (AAF). The helicopters were supplied by India and mark the first time that New Delhi has transferred lethal military equipment to Afghanistan. The AAF inducted three of four scheduled Mi-25 helicopters. The Mi-25s will replace Afghanistan’s aging Mi-35 attack helicopters and provide a much-needed boost to Afghanistan’s air support capabilities in the ongoing struggle against the Taliban across the country.

On January 20, Afghanistan confirmed that three multirole Mi-25 had been assembled and were ready for operational use. The Mi-25s will likely see their first use in the ongoing struggle against Taliban fighters in Helmand province. “We have always been helped by India. The helicopters donated by India to Afghanistan have been assembled and will help us fight terrorists,” Ghulam Sakhi Ahmadzai, deputy chief of procurement at the Afghan defense ministry, told Tolo News.

A Brief History of Balochistan How did the Baloch nation come to be?

February 12, 2016

The arid region of Balochistan, situated at the eastern end of the Iranian plateau, is split almost evenly between Pakistan’s Balochistan province and Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province (a small portion of the southern parts of Afghanistan’s Nimruz, Helmand, and Kandahar provinces are also part of Baluchistan). Balochistan is today at the forefront of major geopolitical events. Pakistan has faced almost constant turmoil in Balochistan since its independence, even as it struggles to secure and develop the region with Chinese help.

The port access offered by Gwadar in Balochistan is an important component in China’s emerging transportation network across Asia. Right across the border in Iran, India is struggling to complete Chabahar, its attempt to answer Gwadar and link to Afghanistan by going around Pakistan. Iranian Balochistan is Iran’s soft underbelly, a restless Sunni region in a mostly Shia country, a place where Saudi Arabia can make mischiefusing groups like the radical Sunni Jundallah.

Spectre of China’s Artificial Islands

By Prof Swaran Singh & Dr Lilian Yamamoto
14 Feb , 2016

Although the UNCLOS is far from being adhered to even after ratification of the states involved in the South China Sea dispute, it is a case where international law alone might provide a pragmatic start even while it may not promise to provide the full necessary response to these enormous geopolitical challenges. Based on reports on the nature of naval strategy of China in recent years, the construction of artificial islands is more likely to be guided by China’s military strategy rather than claims on EEZ stipulated by the UNCLOS. Since China’s rise in general and its artificial islands in particular have gradually been altering the status quo of the region, this may continue to add to tensions and further reduce the possibility of resolving the dispute.

The construction of artificial islands by the Chinese government has been receiving protests from all the neighbouring countries…

China’s military might, now for Africa to see

11 February 2016

China is rapidly expanding its footprints across Africa, and its latest moves are in Djibouti where it is planning to construct its first overseas naval logistics support outpost. The West and India must keep a sharp eye 

Was it a coincidence that, as China prepared to celebrate its Spring Festival, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing announced that China’s first overseas naval logistics support outpost, is going to be constructed in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa? A few days earlier, Djibouti’s Foreign Minister, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told Reuters, “We understand that some Western countries have worries about China’s willingness to have military outposts outside of China”, and added that they should not be too concerned.

Beijing asserted that the outpost was “essential to implement highly efficient logistical support”, as China needs to regularly send escort fleets to the Gulf of Aden and Somalia. In December, the Ministry of National Defence had already announced that China and Djibouti had reached a general agreement.

Every two years or so, the State Council (the Chinese Cabinet) publishes a White Paper on defence; each new WP has distinctive characteristics. In May 2015, Xinhua released its Ninth White Paper on National Defence, the theme being ‘active defence’. China Military Online, a website affiliated to the PLA, then explained: “The WP systematically expounded on the Chinese military’s missions and strategic tasks in the new era, and pointed out that the basic point is in making preparation for military struggle.” Is Djibouti naval base linked to this military concept?

Can China Really Save Central Asian Economies?

February 13, 2016

Beijing may not, after all, provide the economic deus ex machina Central Asian governments have hoped for. 

Ever since the Eurasian recession began in earnest — or, predating that, when it was clear that Russia’s economic engine would stall under Vladimir Putin’s third term — there has nonetheless been a source of hope for Central Asia’s economies: China. On the backs of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) platform, Beijing has stepped in to provide Central Asian economies with the necessary trade, transport, and internal investment to offset a reeling Russia and sinking hydrocarbon prices. For the past few years, China has stood as the region’s economic trump card — a rising Chinese tide would, as the regional governments assumed, raise their fortunes as well.

Despite China’s recent economic troubles, there was little outward sign that this prognostication would change anytime soon. The OBOR’s schematics proceeded as planned, and the recent rail transit from China to Iran further illustrated the potential integration Beijing can provide.

Look, what China's navy is up to!

February 14, 2016

'China's moves are of direct significance to India, which will closely monitor Chinese naval activity in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean not least because of Chinese maps depicting claims over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,' says former senior RA&W official Jayadev Ranade.

IMAGE: Chinese citizens from Yemen board the naval ship Linyi at a port in Aden, March 29, 2015. They were transported across the Red Sea to Djibouti to be flown home. Photograph: Reuters

On January 21, 2016, China took a big stride towards fulfilling its almost decade-long quest of getting port facilities for the People's Liberation Army Navy -- PLAN -- in the Indian Ocean.

In a little publicised comment, US African Command, AFRICOM, Commander General David Rodriguez said, 'They are going to build a base in Djibouti, so that will be their first military location in Africa.'

The Role of Technology in Modern Terrorism

The Role of Technology in Modern Terrorism 

Ethical Hacking Boot Camp 

Our most popular course! 

Technology is a foundation of modern society, it governs its dynamics, and therefore, it is normal that also the terrorism will benefit from it. 

We are living a very difficult period, the terrorism is threatening the society and cultures on a global scale, and differently from the past, it has reached a global dimension. 

We are facing a global alert. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies worldwide are warning about possible terrorist attacks in the major cities. 

Parigi, Istanbul, Jakarta are last locations in order of time where the terrorist threat has demonstrated its strength, where terrorists have hit the defenseless population with a military strategy. 

The modern terrorism is instantaneous and unpredictable, a global threat that hit its targets, but that at same time hits a wide audience thanks to the technology, it is bringing the terror into our homes. 

Judy Asks: Can the West Regain Its Influence?

February 13, 2016 

Carnegie Europe is on the ground at the 2016 Munich Security Conference, offering readers exclusive access to the debates as the unfold and providing insights on today’s most urgent international issues. 

A selection of experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

Katinka BaryschDirector of political relations at Allianz SE

Much of the Western alliance’s global clout will depend on the economic strength and inner social peace of participating countries.

Emerging markets now produce more than half of the world’s output. But they do so with four-fifths of the world’s population. China’s economy is sputtering, while Russia and Brazil are in deep recession. The ascent of the BRICS—these three nations plus India and South Africa—is far from linear. In any case, these countries have not formed a body that can act. The only non-Western club that could, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is now also defunct.

Russia in Review

February 12, 2016

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism


Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for February 5-12, 2016

I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda.

Nuclear security: 

In the FY2017 budget request, submitted to the U.S. Congress, the Obama administration proposes to terminate construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility near Aiken in South Caroline. The plant is being built to comply with an agreement with Russia in 2000, when both countries said they would eliminate 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium from their nuclear arsenals. (New York Times, 02.09.16, IPFM Blog, 02.10.16). 
Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev and U.S. president Barack Obama can possibly meet on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, US Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol has said. (Interfax. 02.11.16). 

Iran’s nuclear program and related issues: