30 March 2016

The Role of Luck in Becoming a Successful Officer


If…

…you were born into 0.4% of the US population
…you avoided serious criminal offenses as an adolescent
…you can do push ups, sit ups, and run
…you stumbled upon worthwhile mentors who taught you the basics of leadership
…you were placed in a branch that at least mildly aligned with your passions
…you didn’t get a course-ending case of cellulitis in Ranger School
…you got orders to a unit with a legitimate operational future, where you could gain valuable experience
…you joined a unit with NCOs who cared about developing junior officers
…you didn’t get someone killed at your first live fire range…


Retired Lt. Col. Alissa Turner places the general officer rank on her husband, Brig. Gen. William Turner’s, Field Artillery School commandant and chief of FA, uniform during his promotion ceremony Oct. 9, 2014 on Old Post Quadrangle. Photo Credit: Ms. Marie Berberea

And if…

Military #Leadership in the 21st Century


Leadership is simultaneously the least expensive and the most expensive resource our military possesses. Its fiscal cost is minuscule in comparison to the acquisition budgets for high-end equipment, but its cost in terms of time is measured in decades and must be codified in consistent prioritization by our institutions. In the end, the price of failing to effectively resource the development of leaders can be enormous at both the personal and institutional level. No matter the domain in which a military service fights, leadership is the key to all successful military efforts. It is a factor that shapes organizational culture in ways that directly affect outcomes and the performance of both military units and their people.

We come to the issue of leadership at a time when the military services are reducing overall end-strength and consolidating programs. Simultaneously the military is re-focusing on its core missions of conventional, joint and combined arms combat after more than a decade of protracted warfare. Leadership will play a significant role in preparing both individuals and units for a future that will inevitably include combat and significant institutional change.

To assess the current state of leadership in the military and identify key elements that will be required of leaders in the future, we have collected dozens of articles from leaders across the services and from academics steeped in the theories of leadership. Over the next two weeks, The Bridge is proud to open our forum to these voices – from junior leaders to combat-tested general officers – to provide their analysis of issues and opportunities for leading men and women, on and off the battlefield. From the art of command to the science of control, developing subordinates to institutional education, our authors will delve into key aspects of military leadership that must be addressed to continue to improve our profession.

We are thrilled to welcome many new writers to The Bridge community with this first #series of 2016. The Bridge would love to see even more writers join our ranks. If you have responses or additional thoughts, please send them our way.

29 March 2016

Come clean on nuclear security

March 29, 2016 

“The need for heightened nuclear security has now become urgent.” Picture shows the Kudankulam power plant in Tamil Nadu.

If India is more open about discussing its nuclear weapons programme with a view to ultimately denuclearising the neighbourhood, it would be one of its most courageous contributions

This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will touch down in Washington, DC for the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, a biennial conference series initiated in 2010 by the Barack Obama administration. Mr. Modi will no doubt seek to showcase India’s nuclear regime as one that adheres to the highest standards of transparency and safety through rigorous regulation of nuclear products and institutions. Although that would be welcome, what Mr. Modi’s interlocutors in the U.S. may be hoping for is that he will break with India’s tradition of maintaining a masterful silence on two questions surrounding its nuclear policy. First, how can India address disquieting signals that have emerged in recent times, which point to growing concerns over the security of its nuclear materials? Second, at a time when India’s macro strategy of rapid economic development is premised on a climate of neighbourly peace and stability in the region, is it not appropriate that Mr. Modi call for an end to the nuclear arms race in Asia, and address environmental risks of India’s covert weapons plants?

Let us consider each of these questions in turn.

India’s nuclear security

*** Universities should ban PowerPoint — It makes students stupid and professors boring

Paul Ralph
Jun. 23, 2015, 
Source Link

Do you really believe that watching a lecturer read hundreds of PowerPoint slides is making you smarter?

I asked this of a class of 105 computer science and software engineering students last semester.

An article in The Conversation recently argued universities should ban PowerPoint because it makes students stupid and professors boring.

I agree entirely. However, most universities will ignore this good advice because rather than measuring success by how much their students learn, universities measure success with student satisfaction surveys, among other things.

What is so wrong with PowerPoint?

Overreliance on slides has contributed to the absurd belief that expecting and requiring students to read books, attend classes, take notes and do homework is unreasonable.
Courses designed around slides therefore propagate the myth that students can become skilled and knowledgeable without working through dozens of books, hundreds of articles and thousands of problems.

A review of research on PowerPoint found that while students liked PowerPoint better than overhead transparencies, PowerPoint did not increase learning or grades. Liking something doesn’t make it effective, and there’s nothing to suggest transparencies are especially effective learning tools either.

*** Open Letter to the Next President, Part 3

BY JOHN MAULDINMARCH 27, 2016

“The liberating army we need in the Americas today is one of leaders who come together in peace, in the spirit of cooperation.”
– Oscar Arias

“There are two Americas – separate, unequal, and no longer even acknowledging each other except on the barest cultural terms.”
– David Simon

Today we continue my series of open letters to the presidential candidates. In the meantime, we’ve drawn a little closer to knowing whom the two major parties will nominate. A few people are vowing to consider minor parties, too.

In any case, whoever replaces Barack Obama will face a world of challenges. The good news is that most (not all) of the challenges are manageable – given the willingness to make very difficult choices. Remember, in this letter we are focusing on the economic realities that the new president will face, and those realities will force stark choices in other arenas such as healthcare, defense, and geopolitics. The economic picture is unequivocal – more so than in any era since Roosevelt – and will compel the president to either choose among merely very difficult options at the beginning of his or her term, or to put off choosing and be left with only seriously bad choices toward the end of a first term. There will be no easy choices, and the process will be messy, but I think we’ll will muddle through.

In Part 1 we looked at China and Japan. Part 2 covered Australia, India, the Middle East and Europe. That leaves Africa, South America, and North America. Let’s dive back in.
Buying African Futures

Dear Presidential Candidates:

** A Picture Of Russian Patriotism

by Lauren Goodrich
27 March 2016

from STRATFOR

When the first Russian pilots returned to Voronezh air base as part of the recently announced military drawdown from Syria, they were greeted with a hero's welcome. Russian women in folk costumes offered loaves of bread with salt. Robed Orthodox priests gave the pilots icons to kiss. Crowds carrying balloons, flowers and Russian flags hoisted the pilots onto their shoulders and tossed them into the air. It was a picture of patriotism, broadcast live across the nation.
But that picture has changed throughout the years. The sentiment the Kremlin used to shape its interventions in Syria and Ukraine evolved from a kind of nationalism that was often used in the early years of President Vladimir Putin's government. Rabid and inspired, it was based mostly on civic patriotism and duty. Today's nationalism, on the other hand, taps into the deeper identity of the Russian people - their sense of moral virtue, their survival instinct and their belief in Russia as a global power.

In Good Times ...

Nationalism has rallied in tandem with popular support for Putin and his administration. At the beginning of 2016, Putin's approval rating was 81 percent, just shy of the all-time high of 86 percent. Social sentiment in support of the country is also at 82 percent. This comes as Russia remains mired in its second recession in seven years, it is under continuing sanctions by many global powers, and it has failed to prevent former ally Ukraine from shifting toward the West.

Early in his presidency, Putin laid a foundation of national support for himself and his government. He was seen as the savior of Russia, stabilizing the country after the chaos that followed the Soviet Union's collapse. He promised a future of stability and wealth, along with a return to global power. In return, the Russian people offered loyalty and a willingness to disregard the administration's heavy hand.

As the Russian state consolidated most major aspects of the economy - including energy firms, media outlets and the telecommunications industry - the Kremlin vilified the oligarchs who had previously run these industries. The state promoted the idea that it was taking over businesses to make Russia strong again, while the oligarchs were only in it for personal gain. In security matters, Putin blamed the failure of the First Chechen War on his predecessor, and Moscow clamped down on Chechnya, launching a second war. Today Chechnya is fairly stable, and terrorism in Russia is at its lowest level in decades. Moreover, the Chechen leadership is fervently loyal to Moscow, something unimaginable a decade ago.

Over the past 10 years, the Kremlin harnessed religion as an important tool to foster nationalism. Russian Orthodox affiliation under Putin has skyrocketed: At the start of the 1990s, less than a third of Russians considered themselves Russian Orthodox, as opposed to roughly 72 percent today. The Orthodox revival gave Russians an identity after the years of uncertainty that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. The Kremlin has used this to its advantage, so effectively portraying support for Putin's government as a religious duty that the church is now seen as part of the state apparatus.

Realizing that people born after the fall of the Soviet Union were growing up, the Kremlin started pro-government youth organizations in 2005 to instill a sense of nationalism in the new generation. These groups appealed mainly to lower-class ethnic Russians, giving them a sense of community and structure. The most notable group, Nashi ("Ours"), was created by current presidential aide Vladislav Surkov, who also helped design the plan for a stable Chechnya. At its height, Nashi alone boasted some 150,000 members.

These strategies all hinged on the principles that the state was only as strong as its people's support and that, therefore, support for the state was a civic duty. And Putin's system used them to such success in part because Russia benefited from years of economic plenty at a time when a global challenger - the United States - was distracted with two wars. But nationalism can grow stale, particularly in the face of challenges.
... And in Bad

No Place To Hide: Latest Developments in Air Defence Missiles

By Gp Capt Joseph Noronha
28 Mar , 2016

In air combat, numerical superiority generally wins over quality, meaning much larger forces of inferior aircraft may swamp even superior forces while suffering surprisingly small losses. That is why a blind quest for more technologically advanced AD aircraft without corresponding emphasis on their weapon systems is counterproductive.

…missiles are getting more accurate and deadly and combat pilots need to employ all the skill and resources at their command to counter them.

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was cruising from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur at an altitude of ten kilometres. The route of the Boeing 777-200ER happened to take it near the Ukrainian-Russian border. It is hard to say what the passengers and crew were thinking but it is unlikely they were troubled by the possibility of a missile strike. Yet that is what happened. A Russian-made Buk missile, a self-propelled, medium-range weapon probably launched by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, hit the airliner and caused it to crash with the loss of all 298 lives on board.

The downing of a civilian aircraft by a missile is reprehensible and thankfully rare. However, practically from the time a combat aircraft gets airborne during conflict, the pilot has to be alert to the threat of anti-aircraft missiles. These may be Air-to-Air Missiles (AAM) launched from another aircraft or Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) fired from land or sea. Either way, missiles are getting more accurate and deadly and combat pilots need to employ all the skill and resources at their command to counter them.

MBDA offering advanced technology transfer to India

By IDR News Network
28 Mar , 2016

MBDA’s stand at DEFEXPO 2016 will focus on a number of messages covering both the product as well as the industrial advantages that MBDA is offering to India. India’s defence forces need the very best and most advanced equipment to meet the many operational challenges facing the country. MBDA’s extensive product portfolio covering all three operational domains – air, sea and land is available to fulfil this need. Similarly, MBDA is striving to advance the government’s widely publicised Make in India policy. MBDA has the know-how, the experience of international cooperation and the latest guided missile and guided missile system technology which it is well prepared and eager to share with India.

Make in India can benefit and make major leaps forward in progress by having access to the levels of advanced technology that MBDA has developed over many decades of advanced research and development.

Capture of Dacca 1971

By Col Bhaskar Sarkar
27 Mar , 2016

Background to the Battle

Dacca the Capital of East Pakistan was a natural fortress well away from the borders with India. On the west it was protected by the formidable Jamuna, which after its confluence with Padma was a very formidable water obstacle indeed. On the east was the formidable Meghna. The northern approaches were guarded by the Bramhaputra, a distributary of the Jamuna and Turag, another distributary of the mighty Jamuna, which also provided depth from the West. The Balu and the Lakaya rivers provided depth to Meghna in the east. The shortest approaches were from the west via Calcutta – Bongaon -Jhenida – Faridpur – Goalondo Ghat and from the east from Agartala. Pakistan’s 9 Infantry Division was responsible for defending the western approach. It had two regular and one adhoc brigade.

The regular brigades, 57 and 107 Infantry Brigades were deployed in the Meherpur – Jhenida Axis and Bayra – Jessore Axis. Two infantry divisions guarded the eastern approaches. 14 Infantry Division in the north had two regular and one adhoc brigade. 202 Adhoc Brigade was located at Sylhet. 313 Infantry Brigade was located at Maulavi Bazar. The third, 27 Infantry Brigade, was located at Akhaura opposite Agartala. 39 Adhoc Division was responsible for the defence of the southern sector extending from Comilla – Laksham – Chandpur – Daudkhandi. This division had three brigades. Pakistan’s 16 Infantry Division held the area west of Jamuna and north of the Padma called the Northern Area with headquarters at Bogra. This division had three regular brigades, one adhoc brigade and four squadrons of armour. Though this area was not on the approach to Dacca, it had the maximum forces as it was appreciated by Pakistan that this was the area India would like to capture for setting up the Government of Bangladesh and resettling the refugees.

Defence Budget 2016-17: The Bigger Worry

By Laxman K Behera
26 Mar , 2016

The presentation of the Union Budget has often been an occasion for the broader strategic community to express its worries about the government’s so-called ‘apathy’ towards national defence. The 2016-17 budget, presented on 29 February, is no exception in this regard. This time, however, the worries are somewhat nuanced and focus on three major issues: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s break from the established tradition of saying a few words on defence services in the budget speech; defence’s historically low share as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and the sharp reduction in defence capital expenditure, most of which is incurred on the procurement of hardware such as tanks, fighters, radars, missiles, ships, and submarines, to name a few. A close examination of these worries, however, reveals that they are either emotive in nature or unreasonable on hard facts.

It is a fact that the Finance Minister did not mention defence allocation in his budget speech. Only the minister himself is entitled to defend why he did not. Pending his reply, it won’t, however, be unreasonable to say that he had enough justification to do what he did. Unlike past budgets, the 2016-17 budget has undergone a change in format for the purpose of resource allocations among the various ministries and departments. For the defence ministry, the change in format has resulted in consolidation of total allocations into four demands, in comparison to the eight earlier. Significantly, what has so far been commonly referred to as India’s defence budget, consisting of six out of eight demands, is now reflected in three demands, leaving defence pension as the only demand that remains unaffected in the realignment.

A Glimpse of Life in the Army

By Bharat Verma
25 Mar , 2016

Many of us wonder what the Army does in peacetime when there is no war on. Some people believe that they live a life of luxury, drink a lot and generally waste their time in playing golf or card games or hunting. This is far from the truth. As you know our army is deployed all along the Himalayan borders with China, and along the LoC in J&K. Most of these borders are inhospitable, uncongenial in climate, lacking in normal facilities. Even drinking water is not available in some areas.

The army formations not deployed on the borders have been busy combating insurgencies in J&K and the Northeast. It is evident that only a small portion of the army gets a chance to stay in a peacetime cantonment, that too for short periods.

This chapter deals with army activities in fields and peace areas, to enable the reader to fully visualize the lifestyle of our solider and officers and their daily activities in peace and field stations.

Life in a Peacetime Location

A military station is called a Cantonment. Here a number of units are billeted in peacetime.

You will notice that every activity of a jawan is regulated according to rules and parade timings.

Kautilya’s Moral Compass In Modern Times And Concept Of Better Society

Srinivas Thiruvadanthai 
March 22, 2016

Kautilya pointed out that dharma and the state are mutually inclusive, attainable through right means and ends

Writing about ancient India is fraught with the risk of igniting rancorous debate, especially when the subject is as controversial as Kautilya. So, at the outset, a few disclaimers are in order. Kautilya was no social reformer. He did not question thevarnashrama system, and he privileged Brahmins over others. No, Kautilya did not discover all modern economics and political science. He did not prove the law of comparative advantage, the existence of Nash equilibrium, the welfare theorems, or the median voter theorem.

Nevertheless, he was far ahead of his time in his understanding of economics, social contract, politics, and international relations mainly because he was a positivist, centuries before the term was invented. He took human beings for what they were and not what one wishes them to be. Although he did not go so far as Nietzsche in arguing that “there are no moral phenomena, only moral explanations of phenomena,” his writing and analysis are shorn of maudlin sentimentality or pious invocations of morality. Consequently, he was able to arrive at conclusions that foreshadowed developments in economics by more than two millennia, and many of his observations stand up remarkably to modern scrutiny.

India's Achilles' Heel

March 22, 2016

The United States has an enduring interest in India’s economic and military rise. Just last week, Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, called the U.S.-Indian relationship “the defining partnership for America in the twenty-first century,” encouraging India to step up its joint military activities with the United States as a signal to China. Yet India’s use to the United States depends, in part, on how it marshals its impressive economic growth to invest in new defense capabilities. And on that score, India’s new budget raises troubling questions.

New Delhi, which has the sixth-largest defense budget in the world, will spend at least $50 billion on defense this year. That is roughly 1.8 percent of projected GDP and up three percent (adjusted for inflation) from last year. But there is reason to doubt that such spending will boost itsmilitary power in the near term.

For one thing, the costs of military pensions have soared, crowding out badly needed investments in defense modernization. In the last decade, military pensions have grown, on average, by 12 percent each year. Pensions once made up only ten percent of the defense budget; they now represent a full quarter of defense expenditures.

Osama bin Laden’s Files: The Pakistani government wanted to negotiate

BY THOMAS JOSCELYN 
March 9, 2015

Recently released files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that parts of the Pakistani government made attempts to negotiate with al Qaeda in 2010. The letters were released as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted on terrorism charges by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month.

One of the files is a letter written by Atiyah Abd al Rahman (“Mahmud”), who was then the general manager of al Qaeda, to Osama bin Laden (identified as Sheikh Abu Abdallah) in July 2010. The letter reveals a complicated game involving al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, and Pakistan’s intelligence service.

“Regarding the negotiations, dear Sheikh, I will give you an overview, may God support me in this,” Rahman wrote. “The Pakistani enemy has been corresponding with us and with Tahreek-i-Taliban (Hakeemullah) for a very short time, since the days of Hafiz, may God have mercy on him.” Hakeemullah Mehsud was the head of the Pakistani Taliban at the time. The “Hafiz” mentioned is Mustafa Abu Yazid (Sheikh Saeed al Masri), who served as al Qaeda’s general manager prior to his death in May 2010. Rahman succeeded Yazid in that role.

“We discussed the matter internally, then we talked with Abu-Muhammad later once we were able to resume correspondence with him,” Rahman explained. “Abu-Muhammad” is the nom de guerre of Ayman al Zawahiri. As a result of these discussions, al Qaeda was willing to broker a deal in which the jihadists’ would ease off the Pakistanis so long as the military and intelligence services stopped fighting al Qaeda and its allies. 

“Our decision was this: We are prepared to leave you be. Our battle is primarily against the Americans. You became part of the battle when you sided with the Americans,” Rahman wrote, explaining al Qaeda’s position towards the Pakistani government. “If you were to leave us and our affairs alone, we would leave you alone. If not, we are men, and you will be surprised by what you see; God is with us.”

Al Qaeda’s negotiating tactic was simple. Either the Pakistanis leave them alone, or they would suffer more terrorist attacks. Rahman’s letter reveals how bin Laden’s men sought to convey their message. They relied on Siraj Haqqani, the senior leader of the Haqqani Network, which has long been supported by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.

Rahman summarized al Qaeda’s plan thusly: “We let slip (through Siraj Haqqani, with the help of the brothers in Mas’ud and others; through their communications) information indicating that al Qaeda and Tahreek-i-Taliban [the Pakistani Taliban] have big, earth shaking operations in Pakistan, but that their leaders had halted those operations in an attempt to calm things down and relieve the American pressure.”

“But if Pakistan does any harm to the Mujahidin in Waziristan, the operations will go forward, including enormous operations ready in the heart of the country,” Rahman explained. This is the message al Qaeda “leaked out through several outlets.” 
In response, “they, the intelligence people…started reaching out to” al Qaeda through Pakistani jihadist groups they “approve of.”

ISIS and Endlessly Expanding War

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/isis-endlessly-expanding-war-15545
Paul R. Pillar, March 20, 2016 
A couple of unfortunate ways of thinking about terrorism continue to plague discourse about the subject and create a political environment that encourages destructive policy responses. One is to conceive terrorism not as what it really is—a tactic—but instead as an identifiable group of bad actors: “the terrorists.” These bad guys are thought of as, if not having a permanently fixed number, then at least having identifiable limits that separate them from everyone else. Wipe out the bad guys, goes the thinking, and you've wiped out the terrorism problem.
The other common habit of thinking is to identify international terrorism with whatever named group has most captured our attention and elicited our fears. This used to be Al Qaeda; now Al Qaeda has been eclipsed to a large degree by the so-called Islamic State or ISIS. Once we become familiar with a scary name, invocation of the name anywhere triggers an impulse on our part to use force to wipe out more bad guys. This pattern of thought tends to confuse a name with an organization, and it reifies more of an octopus-like transnational organization than really exists.

We are seeing some of the impact on policy of such thinking in the American political sphere with an expansion of U.S. military operations, or planning for such expanded operations, against self-declared ISIS elements in Afghanistanand Libya. This is in addition to continuing U.S. military operations directed against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Where does such expansion stop? As long as the erroneous patterns of thinking prevail, there is no stopping point. If it's Afghanistan and Libya today, then tomorrow it's Cote d'Ivoire or Somalia or someplace else. If the impulse is to go after ISIS wherever we hear that name invoked, then there are no limits to the expansion of military operations.
And what does such expansion accomplish? A few more bad guys get whacked, but this does not constitute stopping some feared expansion of ISIS. The organizational connections, such as they are, do not work that way. Most of the energy and anger that drive violent radicals who invoke the ISIS name in far-flung places revolve around contests for power in those places. The name is invoked because it currently is the most prominent brand name in the radical Sunni world, invocation makes it appear the local elements are acting on behalf of some larger cause, and this sort of linkage might help bring some sort of external assistance to their fight.
Meanwhile, the expansion of U.S. military operations inevitably involves an increased drain on U.S. resources and attention. The expansion can be counterproductive in causing more of the collateral damage that stimulates more anti-U.S. anger that feeds anti-U.S. violence. The expansion also can upset efforts to bring some stability to conflict-ridden places where radicals have exploited the chaos. This is probably the case in Libya, where international mediation efforts are just starting to make some delicate progress in reconciling two competing factions that each have claimed to be the government.

China Is Getting Serious About Kicking Its Coal Addiction

BY KEITH JOHNSON
MARCH 24, 2016

After closing coal mines, Beijing is halting the construction of hundreds of coal-fired power plants. But is it too late?

The Chinese government is halting construction of hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country, a major move that highlights the sudden and accelerating death throes of the fuel that powered the creation of the modern world.

Beijing’s decision to build fewer coal plants than planned is the latest blow to the prospects of coal, which alongside crude oil remains the globe’s most important energy source.

Brussels Then, Now, and in the Future

by Joel Weickgenant
March 22, 2016
Source Link


My daily digest of reading this morning started on a troubling if relatively speculative note. As a naturalized Dutch citizen living in the United Kingdom, I take a personal as well as professional interest in Britain's June 23 vote on whether to remain in the European Union. This article in the Financial Times encapsulated the concerns of the 2.9 million EU citizens living here, as it described a rush on applications for British citizenship by long-time residents hoping to avoid their status being subject to "negotiations between the UK and Brussels" in the event of a so-called Brexit.
I'll come back to that topic in proper context. No sooner was that article digested than Twitter feeds, smartphone alerts, and front pages across the web began to blaze with the news of just the latest vicious attack on Europe's open forums. The details are still coming in now, three-quarters of a workday later, with the latest updates being the inevitable claim of responsibility by the Islamic State group, and the disarming, reported by AP, of a third bomb at Zaventem Airport.

Brexit suddenly mattered very little. What mattered, instead, was the safety of friends and colleagues in Brussels. Messages fly across WhatsApp, status updates on Facebook. The defiant face of the Je Suis social media emblem popularized when Paris was attacked last year turns to an acerbic grimace. This is the new normal, and it's sinking in. Projecting further down the line, we in Europe consider our daily commutes -- the trains connecting Utrecht to Amsterdam or Amsterdam to Brussels, or the Eurostar that flies the flag of white-collar European integration under the English Channel between Paris and London -- every journey, every day, is its own small risk. It is a secular reality that is not changing any time soon.

Could a Toll-Free Number Have Saved Brussels?

BY JULIA IOFFE
MARCH 24, 2016

All the surveillance and intelligence gathering in the world won’t matter if you can’t stop people from becoming terrorists in the first place.

Edit Schlaffer has been in Brussels this week for the graduation ceremony of one of her Mothers Schools, a network of seminars to train mothers as the first line of defense against radicalization. “We work with mothers because we believe that it is very important to start with those who are closest to the problem,” Schlaffer says. “They are the ones who register all the changes in their children, but usually they aren’t trained and equipped with skills and confidence to react so that it has an impact.” Schlaffer, who runs an NGO called Women Without Borders, has set up Mothers Schools in Kashmir, Indonesia, and Pakistan — everywhere Islamic radicalism has stolen children from their parents. Now she is starting them in Europe, and Brussels is the latest front, teaching mothers in Vilvoorde and Molenbeek how to deal with signs of extremism in their children.

But Tuesday’s graduation ceremony in Brussels was canceled because of the explosions at the city’s airport and the subway station in Maalbeek. The irony of it didn’t escape Schlaffer. “The reason why we traveled here is the prevention of terror,” she says.

Army crashes DoD’s Windows 10 party

http://federalnewsradio.com/defense/2016/03/army-crashes-dods-windows-10-party/
By Scott Maucione | March 24, 2016 
As the Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen stressed the importance of the department adopting Windows 10 earlier this week, the Army thinks the transition will take much longer than the Pentagon’s one-year mandate.
Despite the gloomy outlook, the service is doing its best to get its legacy systems ready for the move to the new operating system, said Army CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell during a March 24 speech.
The Army is also preparing for longer term plans by releasing a mobility strategy for industry in fourth quarter of this year, Ferrell said at the Association of the United States Army in Arlington, Virginia.
Halvorsen signed a memo in November directing the rapid transition to the Windows 10 operating system starting in January, with the goal of completing deployment by January 2017.
“Huge challenges in [moving to Windows 10],” Ferrell said. “The mandate is to move to that environment within one year. We are challenged with that. We think it’s going to be a lot longer than that.”
Ferrell said the biggest challenge the Army has in rolling out Windows 10 is the service’s legacy systems and making them compatible with Windows 10.
The Army has hired Microsoft engineers to do an assessment of the systems and develop a road map and governance process for the transition, Ferrell said.
Halvorsen told lawmakers in a March 22 House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing this week that the transition to Windows 10 is critical.

“Right now, when you try to look at the visibility of the networks, while we’re making improvements, you’re doing that across multiple operational systems, multiple baselines,” Halvorsen said. “It’s impossible to do, do well. Getting to a single baseline for Windows — and that’s about 80 percent to 85 percent of the DOD — will give us the ability to have better visibility. Windows 10 is the first operating system that really thought about security right from the beginning and has in-built features that we will take advantage of.”
While the Army may not be optimistic about its transition plans, it’s making other plans for future technologies.
Ferrell said the Army will release a mobility plan that will set a direction for unified action on mobility technology.
DoD currently does not have a mobility strategy, but Ferrell said he is working with the department and industry partners to develop one for the Army.
The mobility strategy will be similar in style to the Army data strategy, which was released earlier this month, and the Army cloud strategy released last year.

Who Will Become a Terrorist? Research Yields Few Clues

by Matt Apuzzo, New York Times

… What turns people toward violence — and whether they can be steered away from it — are questions that have bedeviled governments around the world for generations. Those questions have taken on fresh urgency with the rise of the Islamic State and the string of attacks in Europe and the United States. Despite millions of dollars of government-sponsored research, and a much-publicized White House pledge to find answers, there is still nothing close to a consensus on why someone becomes a terrorist.

“After all this funding and this flurry of publications, with each new terrorist incident we realize that we are no closer to answering our original question about what leads people to turn to political violence,” Marc Sageman, a psychologist and a longtime government consultant, wrote in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence in 2014. “The same worn-out questions are raised over and over again, and we still have no compelling answers.”…