15 July 2016

The Strategic Implications of the South China Sea Tribunal’s Award

July 13, 2016

On July 12, the tribunal hearing the case issued its ruling that can only be described as a huge win for the Philippines. Digesting all 507 pages of the award will take time, allowing only for preliminary judgments to be made. Below, I discuss several strategic implications.

The Scope of Lawful Maritime Claims in the South China Sea

In assessing the Philippine submissions, the tribunal greatly reduced the scope of maritime entitlements that states can claim in the South China Sea. First, the tribunal concluded that China lawfully, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, claims historic rights to resources within the nine-dash line that appears on Chinese maps. Although China has not clarified the nine-dashed line or even explained officially what it means, the tribunal indicated that one potential explanation, as a claim to historic rights, was inconsistent with the convention. The tribunal reasoned that whatever historic rights or high-seas freedoms China enjoyed were “extinguished” when it acceded to the convention.

Second, the tribunal interpreted Article 121 of the convention, which outlines the “regime of islands.” In particular, the tribunal offered a four-part test for determining what constitutes an “island” and not a rock. This matters greatly because under the convention islands are entitled to a two-hundred-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, while a mere rock is entitled only to a twelve-nautical-mile territorial sea. The tribunal ruled that none of the naturally formed land features satisfied its four-part test and that no “islands” exist in the Spratlys from which China, or any other claimant state, can claim a two-hundred-nautical-mile EEZ.

The Obama-Clinton Legacy: A More Aggressive China

July 14, 2016

If shots are fired in the wake of the decision of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration to categorically reject China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, Beijing will have only itself to blame. However, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama must also share responsibility.

The Clinton-Obama culpability seems to have been totally lost in the current debate over this issue—virtually every pundit focuses on how to respond to China’s next aggressive move. However, this regrettable situation is a poster child of weakness inviting aggression—with all the unintended consequences such aggression can bring—so it is important to frame this crisis in its appropriate historical setting.

This crisis began with China’s forcibly taking Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012. This shoal is a triangular-shaped chain of reefs, rocks, and small islands barely thirty-four miles in circumference and about 115 nautical miles off the Philippines’ Zambales Province on the western side of Luzon Island. It is well within the Philippines’ two-hundred-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, where an EEZ entitles a country to natural resources like fish and petroleum with it; and only one of its land features, South Rock, is above water at high tide.

China’s taking of Scarborough Shoal began in April of 2012 with an incursion into the shoal by a flotilla of Chinese fishing vessels. Manila attempted to arrest the fishermen. A tense standoff involving paramilitary Chinese Coast Guard vessels ensued.

Why the South China Sea Verdict Is Likely to Backfire

July 13, 2016

On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague issued a decision that could greatly impact the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea. Ruling on a case brought by the Philippines in 2013, the decision of the five-judge panel represented an emphatic victory for Manila’s position and a near total repudiation of China’s claims. In its most significant finding, the tribunal flatly rejected China’s argument that it enjoys historic rights over most of the South China Sea. Such a claim, the panel ruled, had no legal basis. The ruling was a sweeping rebuke of Beijing’s conduct, especially its seizure of uninhabited reefs and its construction of artificial islands. Such actions, the tribunal concluded, violated China’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Philippine leaders were ecstatic about the decision. “It’s an overwhelming victory. We won on every significant point,” stated Paul Reichler, Manila’s chief counsel in the case. The overall decision was not that much of a surprise, but the categorical nature of some of the language was surprising even to seasoned regional observers. “It goes much farther than most people expected that this was going to go. It’s really devastating to China,” concluded Bonnie Glaser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Beijing’s reaction was swift and ferocious. President Xi Jinping reiterated that the waters had been Chinese territory since ancient times and this ruling could not invalidate such history. Foreign Minister Wang Yi was more succinct and caustic. “This farce is now over,” he stated. “China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards.”

China loses to Philippines in South China Sea: What lies ahead?

By Dr Rajeev Kumar
14 Jul , 2016

The United Nations’ arbitration court, in a landmark ruling, has dismissed China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying it has “no historic title” to the vast maritime region which is valuable because of $5 trillion worth of global trade passing through it. The court declared that “although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other states, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources”[i]. The tribunal “found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by

Interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration,
Constructing artificial islands and
Failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.

The tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels”[ii].

Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling comes as an answer to a complaint filed by the Philippines in 2013 which had accused Beijing of violating the Annex VII of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) with its aggressive overture on the Scarborough Shoal, a reef located about 225 kilometres off the Philippine coast. Manila asserted that China’s maritime map of the South China Sea was of dubious pedigree. The Permanent Court of Arbitration said Beijing’s claim of virtual sovereignty over nearly all the South China Sea under a so-called “nine-dash line” that stretches from the southern China coast runs contrary to UNCLOS[iii]. It declared large areas of the sea to be neutral international waters. The Hague court also ruled that none of the Spratly Islands granted China an exclusive economic zone, and that its construction activities on Mischief Reef caused “irreparable harm” to the reef’s ecosystem[iv].


Russia And China Learn From Each Other As Military Ties Deepen

by: Charles Clover in Beijing
July 11, 2016 

Analysts detect increasingly common strategy as Moscow and Beijing intensify co-operation

Chinese troops march past a mural showing Moscow’s Red Square: Russia and China’s military leaders are co-operating increasingly closely © Getty

Russia and China staged a bold new series of military manoeuvres last month. Not a single ship left port, nor did any tank fire up its engine. Instead, a team from China’s People’s Liberation Army sat with their Russian counterparts in Moscow, running a five-day computer simulation of a joint response to a ballistic missile attack.

Held in the Central Research Institute of Air and Space Defence in the Russian capital, the drill “was not directed against any third country”, according to Russia’s defence ministry. But few were under any illusion that the “aggressor” in the simulation was anyone other than the US.

The exercise — which analysts note involved sharing information in an extremely sensitive sphere — was highly significant because it indicated “a new level of trust” between the two former adversaries, says Vasily Kashin, an expert on China’s military at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Law Of The Sea: US In, China Out? Dems Push Ratification

China’s new airstrip built over Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea (CSIS image)

WASHINGTON: Leading legislators from both parties welcomed today’s UN tribunal ruling against Chinese claims in the South China Sea. But while Republicans focused on China’smisdeeds, Democrats consistently brought up an American omission: The United States has never ratified the very treaty empowering the tribunal to stand up China, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

UNCLOS has been in contention since the Reagan era. Republicans rejected it primarily for imposing UN bureaucracy, and potentially even taxation, over US activities such as seabed mining. President Clinton signed the implementation agreement in 1994, and the US military abides by it religiously, but the treaty itself has never been ratified by the Senate.

“We are limited in our ability to strengthen international law… if we cannot lead by example,” said Sen. Jack Reed, top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a rare public divergence from SASC chairman John McCain. ”The United States has not yet ratified UNCLOS, despite calls from our top military leaders who agree it will strengthen our national security. The treaty is the foundation for today’s ruling, and U.S. support for UNCLOS will be critical if we are to be successful in advocating for the rule of law throughout the region.”

Now for the Hard Part: Converting Law into Order in the South China Sea

Declaring the law is one thing, upholding it another thing altogether.

After Tuesday’s landmark ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding the South China Sea, the gulf between China and the region has widened. China has busily staked out a position that will be hard to climb down from, while the United States and its allies and partners are hoping to elevate diplomacy backed by defense to help enforce a rules-based order. Whether polarization crowds out integration will hinge largely on responses undertaken by China, the United States and Southeast Asian claimant states in the coming weeks and months.

The South China Sea poses multiple challenges for China: domestically, as a sovereign interest; regionally, as an issue of relations with neighbors; and internationally, as a contest to displace American primacy. Geography, history, rapid military modernization, a centrally controlled narrative and enviable financial clout provide Beijing with several natural advantages.

Yet rather than marshalling these attributes toward soft power and a peaceful way forward, China has instead managed to upset just about every actor in and out of the region. For a nation that arguably invented strategy, China’s foreign policy can appear remarkably obtuse.

Inside ISIS: Quietly preparing for the loss of the ‘caliphate’

By Joby Warrick and Souad Mekhennet 
July 12 2016

This June 26 image — made from Associated Press video — shows Iraqi troops turning the Islamic State flag upside down in Fallujah, Iraq. (Uncredited/AP)

Even as it launches waves of terrorist attacks around the globe, the Islamic State is quietly preparing its followers for the eventual collapse of the caliphate it proclaimed with great fanfare two years ago.

In public messages and in recent actions in Syria, the group’s leaders are acknowledging the terrorist organization’s declining fortunes on the battlefield while bracing for the possibility that its remaining strongholds could fall.

At the same time, the group is vowing to press on with its recent campaign of violence, even if the terrorists themselves are driven underground. U.S. counterterrorism experts believe the mass-­casualty attacks in Istanbul and Baghdad in the past month were largely a response to military reversals in Iraq and Syria.

Such terrorist acts are likely to continue and even intensify, at least initially, analysts say, as the group evolves from a quasi-state with territorial holdings to a shadowy and diffuse network with branches and cells on at least three continents.

Indeed, while the loss of a physical sanctuary would constitute a major blow to the Islamic State — severely limiting, for example, its ability to raise money, train recruits or plan complex terrorist operations — the group’s highly decentralized nature ensures that it will remain dangerous for some time to come, according to current and former U.S. officials and terrorism experts.

It All Started With the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s

Christopher Knight
July 13, 2016

How the International Community’s “Blind-Eye” Towards the Iran-Iraq War Paved the Way for Violence and Conflict in the Region

SWJ Note: The following article has been taken from a 65 page thesis on the same topic discussed below. Naturally a decent amount of material needed to be removed in order to allow for a reasonable sized article for publication. While a good portion of the research and background information has been removed, what remains is what, hopefully, will present the facts and data necessary to show the connection between the International Community’s actions and responses in the face of the Iran-Iraq War and the current state of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Since the audience of this journal most likely would already have a detailed understanding of the Iran-Iraq War as well as the current situation in the Middle East following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the focus of this article is more the intermediary time period from the late 1980s to the late 1990s.


For years it has been said that the violence in the Middle East is based on historical religious and ethnic differences between the many groups that inhabit the region. This is true…to a point. Historical differences and perceived differences have led to conflict in regions across the globe for as long as history can remember. But is that the only reason? There are many other factors that can lead to violence and conflict in regions, even where it has been a historical norm. The Middle East is one of these regions. The Iran-Iraq War played a major role in the violence we see today and it is time to recognize just how much of an impact this conflict actually had in the 30 years since.

The Iran-Iraq War

Suppose America Gave a Proxy War in Syria and Nobody Came?


JULY 7, 2016 
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The New Syrian Army (NSA) is America's latest partner in Syria, serving as a proxy force against Islamic State. The NSA suffered a staggering defeat at the end of June, raising troubling questions about U.S. strategy against Islamic State.
The United States has struggled to navigate the politics of Syria's civil war and transform the country's local conflict into the anti-jihadist proxy war Washington would prefer to fight.
U.S. attempts to recruit and back Syrian Arab forces to fight Islamic State have repeatedly stumbled due to factional and personal politics of Syria's rebels, as well as the basic disconnect between the U.S. priority of combating Islamic State and most rebels’ aim of toppling the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Last Wednesday, the New Syrian Army—America’s best, maybe only, hope to challenge the self-proclaimed Islamic State in its east Syrian stronghold—launched a daring attack on the heart of Islamic State territory.

By Thursday, it had gone wrong.

Islamic State had been waiting, and the New Syrian Army only barely avoided being annihilated by circling jihadists. On Twitter and in an interview with me, the group’s commander, Khaz’al al-Sarhan, railed against his American backers and speculated that his own group may have been infiltrated by Islamic State.

For the United States, it was just the latest in a series of mostly unsuccessful attempts to field a Syrian Arab proxy force against Islamic State. Even after the conspicuous failure of other U.S.-trained units, the United States seems no closer to figuring out how to get Syria’s rebels to fight America’s war.
Near-Disaster in Albukamal

U.S. Missile Defense System to be Placed in South Korea Farm Town

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — An advanced U.S. missile defense system will be deployed in a rural farming town in southeastern South Korea, Seoul officials announced Wednesday, angering not only North Korea and China but also local residents who fear potential health hazards that they believe the U.S. system might cause.

As words of the location for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, spread even before the government's formal announcement, thousands of residents in the town of Seongju, the site for the U.S. system, rallied and demanded the government cancel its decision. A group of local leaders wrote letters of complaint in blood and gave them to the Defense Ministry.

"We oppose with our lives the THAAD deployment," one of the letters said, according to Seongju local council speaker Bae Jae Man, one of the 10 people who wrote the letter.

Seoul and Washington officials say they need the missile system to better deal with what they call increasing North Korean military threats. On Monday, North Korea warned it will take unspecified "physical" measures once the location for THAAD is announced.

Seoul's Deputy Defense Minister Ryu Je Seung told a news conference that Seongju was picked because it can maximize the THAAD's military effectiveness while satisfying environmental, health and safety standards. He said the defense chiefs of the countries approved the decision.

Russia's Next Military Game Changer: Microwave Weapons?

July 12, 2016

Russia will arm its sixth-generation combat drones with microwave weapons.

These weapons, which disable an aircraft’s electronic equipment, already exist today “and can hit targets within a radius of tens of kilometers,” said Vladimir Mikheev, a director of state-owned Russian electronics firm KRET, in aninterview with TASS.

However, Mikheev suggested that microwave weapons can be as dangerous to the user as to the target. While Russia is developing manned and unmanned sixth-generation aircraft, which are predicted to first take flight in 2025, only the unmanned version will be armed with a microwave weapon. “The electromagnetic pulse fired by the microwave weapon is so powerful that it is extremely difficult to protect the pilot from his own weapons,” Mikheev said. “No matter how well we may shield the cabin, this electronic pulse will get through. And as a human is also, to some extent, a ‘device’ operating on the basis of receiving and transmitting electromagnetic signals, such weapons can cause heavy damage to the health of the pilot.”

“Protection is already in place today: shielding, special goggles and a glass canopy covered with gold plating to reduce radiation. However, it is so far impossible to ensure 100 percent protection.”

Echoing the same debates in the United States over manned versus unmanned combat aircraft, Mikheev said that only the unmanned version of Russia's sixth-generation aircraft will have “full technical capabilities.” He predicted these drones will be hypersonic, with a speed of Mach 4 to 5, and will be capable of flight through near space (sixty-five thousand to 328,000 feet).

Russia's Regional Master Plan Stretches from Turkey to Indonesia

July 14, 2016

The political earthquake of the Brexit referendum has already changed international relations in many ways. While the majority of experts in the United States dwelled on the parallels between the anger of British and American voters and the possible negative consequences for the global economy, only a few considered the referendum’s implications for American foreign policy, naming, as an example, a possible end to the American “pivot” towards Asia. At the same time, several events showed that Russia, proclaimedby the same experts as one of the biggest winners of the Brexit vote, does not have to rush to any pivots: the Eurasian vector of Russia’s foreign policy is already present, and becoming more significant with every year.

Yet, one thing should be made clear from the very beginning: this Eurasian policy has little to do with the very amorphous ideology of Eurasianism, whose influence is constantly overestimated by Western experts. Having had a not-so-positive experience with foreign policy influenced by ideology (initially by communism during the Cold War and, later, by liberalism during the last decade of the twentieth century), Russia’s foreign policy is rather pragmatic. It treats Eurasia as the macroregion where Russia is located and, for centuries, a natural priority area for Russia’s international relations.

It so happened that, exactly after the Brexit referendum, several events provided more grounds to analyze Russia’s diplomatic efforts in this space. Some of them, like Putin’s visit to Uzbekistan for the anniversary meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Heads of State Council and visit to China, were planned, while others—such as Turkey’s apology for shooting down the Russian plane in November 2015—definitely were not. However, all of them gave reasons to argue that Russia’s diplomacy delivers results in establishing Moscow as a powerful player with a truly Eurasian outreach.


JULY 13, 2016

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced an ambitious plan to reform its defense industry as part of its overall vision to wean itself off oil revenue dependency, with a goal of producing 50 percent of its military equipment domestically by 2030. The plan calls for the development of an advanced manufacturing apparatus that would replace the need to purchase state-of-the-art military hardware from outside and provide Saudi citizens with more jobs. While this plan demonstrates that the new Saudi prince understands the problems of relying too heavily on foreign military providers, it is an unrealistic plan that fails to acknowledge what causes this reliance in the first place. In short, the kingdom’s complete dependence on volatile oil revenue to jumpstart its domestic defense sector will ultimately lead to this plan’s demise so long as this dependence still exists. Saudi’s defense reform cannot succeed in parallel to its economic reforms, only as a result of it. So long as its budget is still reliant on oil, any attempts at reform will be abandoned once global oil prices change dramatically, either up or down, as happened for numerous other oil exporting states in similar cases.

Today, only two percent of Saudi Arabia’s military spending goes to domestic suppliers, making the kingdom almost wholly reliant on foreign hardware. In addition to contributing to increased levels of military spending, this reliance serves to impede Saudi Arabia’s capabilities on the battlefield. Studies have shown that militaries lacking capable local manufacturing industries experience difficulties in adopting foreign weaponry to local conditions, are less able to maintain their equipment during battle, are less able to introduce innovation to their ranks, and are more vulnerable to weapon embargos.

How technology disrupted the truth

12 July 2016

Social media has swallowed the news – threatening the funding of public-interest reporting and ushering in an era when everyone has their own facts. But the consequences go far beyond journalism

One Monday morning last September, Britain woke to a depraved news story. The prime minister, David Cameron, had committed an “obscene act with a dead pig’s head”, according to the Daily Mail. “A distinguished Oxford contemporary claims Cameron once took part in an outrageous initiation ceremony at a Piers Gaveston event, involving a dead pig,” the paper reported. Piers Gaveston is the name of a riotous Oxford university dining society; the authors of the story claimed their source was an MP, who said he had seen photographic evidence: “His extraordinary suggestion is that the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal.”

The story, extracted from a new biography of Cameron, sparked an immediate furore. It was gross, it was a great opportunity to humiliate an elitist prime minister, and many felt it rang true for a former member of the notorious Bullingdon Club. Within minutes, #Piggate and #Hameron were trending on Twitter, and even senior politicians joined the fun: Nicola Sturgeon said the allegations had “entertained the whole country”, while Paddy Ashdown joked that Cameron was “hogging the headlines”. At first, the BBC refused to mention the allegations, and 10 Downing Street said it would not “dignify” the story with a response – but soon it was forced to issue a denial. And so a powerful man was sexually shamed, in a way that had nothing to do with his divisive politics, and in a way he could never really respond to. But who cares? He could take it.

Then, after a full day of online merriment, something shocking happened. Isabel Oakeshott, the Daily Mail journalist who had co-written the biography with Lord Ashcroft, a billionaire businessman, went on TV and admitted that she did not know whether her huge, scandalous scoop was even true. Pressed to provide evidence for the sensational claim, Oakeshott admitted she had none.

Will Brexit bring down NATO?

Reports of NATO’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

In all the Brexit backlash, with suppositions of celebration in the Kremlin, it seems that many have conflated the European Union’s fate with the world’s largest military alliance, perhaps forgetting that the horse came before the cart.
Not as dire as predicted

Before the referendum, the US was actively encouraging this view, delivering dire warnings about a weakened NATO facing Russia in a post-Brexit world. But these were campaign words. No doubt the UK’s decision to leave was a severe body blow to the EU and to the European project generally – which in the long-term will have consequences for NATO. But in terms of raw military power, the Alliance’s strength relative to Russia remains unchanged. In the medium-term, its position may grow even stronger as UK assets earmarked for EU security projects are redirected to NATO.

In a practical sense, the UK’s departure from the bloc is probably the least helpful to Russia. Of all the EU member states, Washington’s stalwart ally is the most unlikely to look eastward. An exit by Hungary, or even Austria, would come with a much greater risk of those nations turning away from Brussels and Berlin, and towards Moscow. Despite the Little England, isolationism talk, Pew polling last year found that the UK was, in fact, the most likely of the Big Four (UK, France, Germany, Italy) to support using military force to defend a NATO ally in the event of a Russian attack. This was in stark comparison to other three, where more than half the populations were against such support.
Common Security and Defense Policy to become less important

The Terrifying U.S.-Israeli Computer Worm That Could Cause World War III

by Nick Schager 
July 9, 2016 

Alex Gibney’s new doc ‘Zero Days’ chronicles the Stuxnet worm, a piece of malware the west used against Iran, and its even more dangerous sister virus: “Nitro Zeus.”

In 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard, Timothy Olyphant’s evil cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel initiates a paralyzing attack on the nation’s technological infrastructure-seizing control of its transportation, communication, military, and power systems-which Justin Long’s nerdy hacker dubs a “fire sale” due to the fact that in such an assault, “everything must go.” As befitting an entry in the popular action franchise, this catastrophe concludes with Bruce Willis’s cop John McClane saving the day through acts of superhuman physical heroism. Replete with Gabriel using his high-tech gadgetry as a way to soothe his damaged ego and steal lots of money, it’s a familiar Hollywood saga, albeit with a modern digital twist. Except that, accordingto Alex Gibney’s new documentary, Live Free or Die Hard is anything but outlandish fantasy.

In Zero Days, Gibney provides a comprehensive overview of the Stuxnet worm-a sophisticated piece of malware that, on June 17, 2010, was found by a Belarus security expert on one of his client’s machines in Iran. Though it was immediately apparent that the virus was deadly, it would take considerably more analysis-including by Symantec security response professionals Eric Chien and Liam O’Murchu-before its true potential was revealed. Those revelations were at once awe-inspiring and unsettling, as Stuxnet turned out to be a complex program designed to infiltrate, target, and sabotage the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. It was equipped to do this even though Natanz’s systems were disconnected from the internet. And it was to perform its mission without “command and control” input-meaning that its groundbreaking code would initiate and carry out its tasks wholly on its own (or as Chien says, “There was no turning back once Stuxnet was released”).


JULY 11, 2016

I certainly did not say that I would be proved wrong [about the threat from Iraq’s WMD]. On the contrary, I said with every fibre of instinct and conviction that I believe that we are right

-Prime Minister Tony Blair in a press conference with President George W. Bush, July 17, 2003

Sir John Chilcot, as chair of a U.K. inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq, released a long-anticipated report on the British development of intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program and associated policy decisions. This report, initially commissioned in 2009, has 12 volumes and 17 sections. At this time, I cannot offer a good assessment of all of its findings. Of particular interest, however, is section four, titled “Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” which offers an analytical report that runs over 600 pages — a book in and of itself. This is a very detailed discussion and worth reading, if not just to understand the faulty logic that led to war. In the report’s executive summary, Chilcot states: “The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — WMD — were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”

Taiwan Creates Its Own Cyber Army to Combat China

Po-Chang Huang
July 11, 2016

(source: Military News Agency Taiwan- Tech soldiers from the Information and Electronic Warfare Command of Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense)

Taiwan’s new Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) recently confirmed the intention of the new government to create a “Cyber Army” (網軍) as the fourth branch of Taiwan’s armed forces. The announcement followed the plan outlined in the Defense Policy Blue Papers published earlier by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which specifically called for the “[Integration of] existing military units and capacities of IT, communications, and electronics to establish an independent fourth service branch alongside the current Armed Forces consisting of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.”[1] Looking ahead, it will be fruitful to observe what the new Cyber Army can add on top of Taiwan’s existing cybersecurity and cyberwarfare structure.

It is easy to see where the impetus for establishing a Cyber Army came from; for many years Taiwan has been on the frontlines of the battle against the ever-intensifying cyber attacks from China. This has reached such an extent that observers and even Taiwanese officials acknowledged Taiwan as a “testing ground” for China’s cyber army and state-sponsored hackers. The case of the 2015 hacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) further illustrates the ambitions and capabilities on the part of the Chinese hackers and the dear consequences of failing to stop such an attack.

Similar organizations dedicated to cybersecurity and combined defensive and offensive cyberwarfare capabilities have been established in other countries, such as the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and South Korea’s National Cyber Command (NCC). Moreover, President Obama ordered the creation of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity earlier this year. Though the Commission serves only as an advisory role, it is yet another move by the administration to address the ever-more prominent issue of cybersecurity. Taiwan’s plan for a Cyber Army however, will make it the first country to assign equal importance to cybersecurity as to the other branches of the armed forces.


JULY 11, 2016

Alexander the Great had Bucephalus, from whose back he could survey his phalanxes. Frederick the Great typically sought out the vantage point of a tall hill. A forward commander in World War I had a sandbagged trench bunker, a periscope, and a hand-cranked telephone. And the Cold War had its iconic blue room.

You’ve seen its rendition in films like Dr. Strangelove and War Games: a cavernous space, giant glass-mounted world maps and cobalt-tinted screens animated by data glowing amid the gloom. Look a little closer though at the actual historical antecedent to the movie sets: the hulking AN/FSQ-7 terminal that was the cornerstone of the SAGE air-defense system, with its distinctive circular display. Next to the holster for the space-age light-gun that was used like a modern day mouse was a cigarette lighter and an ashtray, both built right into the console. They are quaintly amusing design details — and markers of a moment captured in a very different milieu by Mad Men — but they also represent a telling concession to the need for artificial stimulation (nicotine) coursing through the biological circuitry of the human operator who was expected to sit and service the terminal for hours on end.

SAGE’s blue room, with its high-tech systems for communication and control of the atomic battlespace, is a quintessential artifact of cybernetics, the loose, messy social philosophy and engineering paradigm that King’s College War Studies professor Thomas Rid presents in his ambitious new book. The cigarette lighter and the ashtray are the irreducible material signature of cybernetics; mute reminders that we have met the machines and they are us.

Can gaming integrate cyber, traditional military forces?

Mark Pomerleau
July 8, 2016
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The U.S. and its allies face a regional dispute over territory claims with another major nation state. An increasing number of cyberattacks probe both the Department of Defense Information Networks (DoDIN) and U.S. critical infrastructure, successfully leaving millions without power and shutting down West Coast ports. The still-nascent forces of Cyber Command must prepare to support joint forces to de-escalate the situation or, if necessary, prevail if full-scale conflict breaks out.

This scenario played out during the last two weeks in June at the annual Cyber Flag exercise. The simulation piggybacked on the annual Cyber Guard exercise, which tests DoD’s ability to support to civil authorities in the event of a domestic cyberattack. Cyber Flag, on the other hand, is a classic military exercise that tests participants to the point of failure because that is where learning occurs, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, CYBERCOM director of exercises and training, told a small group of reporters during a briefing on the exercise hosted at Fort Meade, Maryland, July 6.

“The purpose of Cyber Flag is for U.S. Cyber Command and our key allies – Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand – to exercise full spectrum cyberspace operations, [defend] our own networks, [and] also to support joint force commander objectives by integrating operations in cyberspace with simulated operations in air, land, sea and space in response to that joint force commander in the regional crisis scenario,” Lunday said.

Bell Pitches Naval Variant of New Tiltrotor Attack Chopper

JULY 12, 2016
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FARNBOROUGH, England — Designers with Fort Worth’s Bell Helicopter are about 60 percent into building a prototype of a tiltrotor aircraft that they say will outperform the V-22 Osprey and increase its potential.

The V-280 Valor concept has the attention of Army brass, who are helping to fund its development through the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Demonstrator program as a solution for the Defense Department’s future vertical lift requirement. A full-sized demonstration model on display at the Farnborough International Airshow had Army designators on the side as an indication of the intended future customer.

But Bell’s vice president of advanced tiltrotor systems, Vince Tobin, told reporters at the show Tuesday that the company had already begun designing a V-280 variant that would fit aboard ships’ hangar decks in hopes of luring the Navy into buying the aircraft as well.

In the Navy variant, the wide wings rotate to better fit on a ship and the tail is anhedral, facing down, in contrast to the Army variant’s dihedral tail, Tobin said. “The purpose of the anhedral tail is not to have to fold the tail to get it out of the way of the folding wings,” he said.

The prospective Navy design is just a concept for now, but Tobin said it points to the flexibility available to the service.


JULY 13, 2016

Lost amid the attention devoted to FBI director James Comey’s July 5 announcement that the FBI would not bring charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was his broader criticism of the “security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to the use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular.”

Assessing Comey’s assertion that State is lax when it comes to email security is not possible without reviewing the evidence that the FBI developed. It must be borne in mind, however, that the State Department, far more than any other agency dealing with classified information, must deal with foreign officials and publics to fulfill its basic mission of carrying out the foreign relations of the United States. While most diplomats are aware of the need to protect classified information, their culture is not — and should not be — one of secrecy, but of discretion.

Following Comey’s statement, even President Barack Obama weighed in on the email habits of State, confirming that he, too, was “concerned” about security at the department. He explained that “the advent of email…is just generating enormous amounts of data…putting enormous pressure on the department to sort through it, classify it properly.”

14 July 2016

Living in denial on Kashmir

July 14, 2016

The HinduA woman requests a policeman cross the road in Srinagar on Tuesday. A curfew remained in place in most parts of Kashmir for the fourth consecutive day as authorities struggled to contain protests following the killing of top militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. 
There is a return to home-grown insurgency, with religious radicalisation acting as a force multiplier this time. Delhi needs to open a result-oriented dialogue with the Valley’s dissidents

The latest uprising in Kashmir, triggered by the encounter killing of the young Kashmiri militant, Burhan Wani, was waiting to happen for some time. The writing on the wall has been clear to those who cared to read it: that Kashmir would soon bounce back to the days of home-grown insurgency, with religious radicalisation acting as a force multiplier this time. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in New Delhi, in its impatient race for power in Srinagar, did not care to read the signs, and when told, it didn’t care to listen.

The Kashmiris knew that things were not going to be easy for them if the BJP were to come to power in the State, and so they voted in large numbers to keep it out. But they were in for a rude surprise when BJP interlocutors sweet-talked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into believing that the “Agenda of Alliance”, that the two parties put together after months of negotiations, would be an inviolable document for political action. The PDP has since been silenced and the so-called guiding document has been cast to the winds. We are perhaps one last stop away from the Valley slipping into another full-blown insurgency: with Rawalpindi aiding and abetting it, disaffected Kashmiris being hopeless and edgy, and clueless New Delhi playing with fire throwing all caution to the winds.

A decade of follies