28 July 2016

Steps to prevent fire at ammunition depots

Jul 20, 2016 

Steps to prevent fire at ammunition depots

Due to delay in procurement / recruitment, the deficiencies of 23 fire fighting trucks and 362 personnel exist in ammunition depots of Indian Army.

Ammunition is stored in permanent accommodation. However, due to operational and other local exigencies, some ammunition is stored in temporary sheds. The only major fire incident in ammunition depot during last three years has occurred in Central Ammunition Depot, Pulgaon on 31st May, 2016. There were 19 fatal and 17 non-fatal casualties, and the total loss of equipment and stores as per preliminary estimation is approximately Rs.7.90 crores. On the basis of the recommendations of Court of Inquiry and subsequent deliberations with all stakeholders, the following has been approved by the Government in order to prevent recurrence of such incidents:-

• Disposal of all defective segregated mines (Anti-Tank Mines 1A ND) for exudation of TNT, held at various locations will be undertaken by Army Headquarters (AHQ).

• Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will replace or repair the defective ammunition within three months.

o Army Headquarters in consultation with all stakeholders will finalize the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs’) for:

Deadlines for completion of strategic road projects

PIB Press Release
Jul 20, 2016 

Deadlines for completion of strategic road projects

73 roads are identified as strategic Indo-China border roads (ICBR), out of which 61 roads have been entrusted to Border Roads Organisation (BRO) with a length of 3417 km which were planned to be completed by 2012. Out of which 22 roads of length 707.74 km are completed. The revised completion schedule of 39 ICBRs is as under:

• 2016 - 5 Roads

• 2017 - 8 Roads

• 2018 - 12 Roads

• 2019 - 8 Roads

• 2020 - 6 Roads

Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal agency for the fencing along the border regions. The status of fencing works is as under:

• Indo-Bangladesh border (Phase-I): 857.37 km of fencing in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram has been completed in 2000.

• Indo-Bangladesh border (Phase-II): Out of 2468 km of fencing, 1872 km has been completed. The completion schedule is March 2019 for ongoing works.

• Indo-Myanmar border: Out of the 9.12 km fencing, 2.79 km has been completed.

Government has taken following measures to expedite the pace of road projects:

• States of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura have constituted the Empowered Committee to resolve issues related to land acquisition, forest / wildlife clearance, allotment of quarries etc.

Afghanistan: In The Grip Of Spiraling Instability – Analysis

By Lt. Gen. Kamal Davar*
JULY 26, 2016

Violence-stricken Afghanistan continues to find itself being helplessly crushed under the weight of spiraling political instability and mindless killings, which are often sponsored from across the border, with no peaceful end in sight. Just two days ago, the Islamic State – a Sunni terrorist outfit – targeted a peaceful procession of the minority Shia Hazaras, killing over 80 and injuring over 200
That the masterminds behind most of these attacks remain in neighbouring Pakistan is universal knowledge; a country that zealously seeks an elusive “strategic depth” against India for itself in the land of Hindu Kush.

Pakistan, in its undying obsession for a pliant regime in Kabul, continues supporting the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network (HQN), whilst also giving to leaders of these Afghan terror networks safe havens in North Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. For the first time since the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2001 (now dubbed as Operation Resolute Support after the NATO troops drawdown in December 2015), American drones targeted Afghan Taliban leaders inside Pakistan in May 2016 killing their leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, generating a flicker of hope for the beleaguered Afghan government in Kabul.

Pakistan, apart from some not so obvious rumblings and not overtly protesting the maiden US intrusion into North Waziristan, showed the double dealings of the Pakistanis. In the Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, the US State Department had also administered a scathing rebuke to Pakistan for its failure to police various terror groups in the Waziristan region, opining that “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan”.

Which Sharif runs Pakistan

By Sumit Walia
26 Jul , 2016

Except for few years of its history of 68 years, there are only two ways Pakistan Army (and not Pakistan Air Force or Pakistan Navy but just Pakistan Army) ruled the country. One when Pak Chief of Army Staff is on the front seat holding the wheel and second, when he is sitting on the back seat but pulling the strings of the democratically elected Prime Minister who is allowed to sit on the front seat.

History repeats itself when men repeat their mistakes. Perhaps PM Nawaz Sharif expected Gen Sharif to be more compliant.

No one knows this fact better than current PM of Pakistan – Nawaz Sharif. It is his third term as the Prime Minister. During 1980s, he was supported by ‘Internal Wing’1 of the infamous ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) that gave rise to his political career. He became PM on 1st Nov 1990 but developed some differences with President Ghulam Ishaq khan, who attempted to dismiss him (Nawaz Sharif) on corruption charges. When the situation worsened, the then Pakistan Army Chief Gen Abdul Waheed Kakar persuaded both gentlemen to step down.2

During his second term as PM, he dared to assert more civilian control and on 6th Oct 1998, he asked for resignation of the then Pakistan Army Chief Gen Jahagir Karamat because the General was making public statements advocating giving greater role to Pakistan Army in policy making. After Karamat’s resignation, PM Sharif appointed Gen Parvez Musharraf as COAS over heads of two senior general officers. Perhaps PM Sharif hoped to have more compliant COAS but it did not happen. Gen Karamat’s resignation and appointment of his chosen candidate gave a false sense of confidence and security to PM Sharif. He dared to initiate peace process with India and invited PM Vajpayee to Lahore. This did not go well with Pakistan Army and what followed was the Kargil war.

‘New Wars’ In Contemporary China? – Analysis

By Kunal Mukherjee* 
JULY 27, 2016

The post Cold War period has witnessed the rise of a new group of conflicts, which well known academics such as Mary Kaldor has called ‘New Wars’1 to differentiate the current group of conflicts from earlier wars that are in keeping with the classical definition of warfare. Kaldor’s thesis, although originally formulated in an East European context at an earlier period, has considerable explanatory power and it is without doubt that the theory still travels far and wide. Scholars have had a tendency to use the ‘New War’ argument within the context of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the aim of this article to go beyond these conventional case studies and use the ‘New War’ theory to understand conflicts in different parts of contemporary China, and to see to what extent this ‘New War’ theory fits in with the Chinese context and helps us to understand those conflicts. Thus, this article introduces a new set of case studies: Xinjiang and Tibet.

Conflicts that are classified as ‘new’ or ‘post-Cold War’ are not really ‘post-Cold War/post-1990s’ in the strict sense of the term, since there are always short term factors and long term factors that lead to the outbreak of a conflict, and some of the long term factors can actually be traced back to pre-Cold War, or even earlier times. Thus, the case studies chosen for this article are ‘new’ or ‘post Cold War’ conflicts in the sense that the levels of violence in some cases have escalated more than ever in the post-1990s phase, although the long term causes can be traced back to earlier times. In Tibet, for instance, we saw a huge uprising that took place in the year 2008. In relation to Xinjiang, Dr. Michael Clarke, a China expert and an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the National Security College, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, writes, ‘China became more concerned regarding the security of Xinjiang with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.’2 Furthermore, these conflicts have gone on to acquire the characteristic features of what Kaldor calls ‘New Wars’. This article is not so much interested in looking at the intricate details of the individual conflicts, but to what extent does the Kaldor thesis fit in within the Asian context. In this article, I have placed an emphasis on China’s contested borderland regions, Xinjiang and Tibet. Also, I have chosen China as my chief case study because it is one of the two new rising economic giants on the Asiatic mainland, the other one being India. After the Asian Tiger economies reached near industrialised/miracle status, much attention has shifted to the mainland of Asia, with a special focus on China. In a world of increasing interconnectedness, developments in a rising Asia will invariably affect our lives in the west in one way or another. Thus, in an era of globalisation, the problems in Inner Asia or what may seem to be a remote part of Asia could have a profound impact upon our lives in the western world.

‘New Wars’ and Kaldor

China Talks about Harmony, But Feeds Global Disorder

July 27, 2016

Anyone familiar with the foreign policy rhetoric emanating from Beijing for the past three decades or more has heard talk of China’s “good neighbor policy,” its “peaceful rise” and its aspirations to contribute to a “harmonious world,” by way of “a new type of great power relations.” China pledged under Deng Xiaoping to pursue a “good neighbor policy,” and China arguably followed through on that for the next three decades. China’s modus operandi during this era was what Deng called a policy of “taoguang yanghui,” literally “avoiding the [spot]light, nurturing obscurity,” or more colloquially, “biding one’s time and lying low.” Under Hu Jintao, the foreign policy mantra was “peaceful rise”—later changed to “peaceful development,” perhaps so as to avoid associations realists might make with rising powers and the complications this might bring).

Xi Jinping has ushered in a new initiative, suggesting “a new type of great power relations,” which could be read to say: Don’t worry—we won’t rise like 1930s Germany! Or, put another way, today’s China does not seek to repeat the past in terms of the “normal” historical pattern of great-power rise as leading to great-power conflict. In 2007, perhaps the high tide of “the peaceful rise” strategy, China was quite successful, for as David Kang and others pointed out, China’s neighbors did not appear to be balancing against a rising China, but seemed quite optimistic about China’s role in the region. China had then perhaps the best security environment it has ever enjoyed.

A New Guerrilla War With ISIS Is In the Offing in Iraq and Syria

July 25, 2016

As ISIS Loosens Grip, U.S. and Iraq Prepare for Grinding Insurgency

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State’s latest suicide attack in Baghdad, which killed nearly 330 people, foreshadows a long and bloody insurgency, according to American diplomats and commanders, as the group reverts to its guerrilla roots because its territory is shrinking in Iraq and Syria.

Already, officials say, many Islamic State fighters who lost battles in Falluja and Ramadihave blended back into the largely Sunni civilian populations there, and are biding their time to conduct future terrorist attacks. And with few signs that the beleaguered Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, can effectively forge an inclusive partnership with Sunnis, many senior American officials warn that a military victory in the last urban stronghold of Mosul, which they hope will be achieved by the end of the year, will not be sufficient to stave off a lethal insurgency.

“To defeat an insurgency, Iraq would need to move forward on its political and economic reform agenda,” Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, the top American commander in Iraq, said in an email.

A return to guerrilla warfare in Iraq, while the United States and its allies still combat the Islamic State in Syria, would pose one of the first major challenges to the next American president, who will take office in January. American public opinion has so far supported President Obama’s deployment of roughly 5,000 troops to help Iraq reclaim territory it lost to the Islamic State in 2014, but it is not clear whether political support would dissipate in a sustained effort to fight insurgents.

Iraq’s Elite Counterterrorism Combat Division Has Become the Star of the Iraqi Army on the Battlefield

Loveday Morris
July 26, 2016

From ‘Dirty Division’ to golden boys: the Iraqi force leading the country’s fight against ISIS

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Iraq’s counterterrorism forces, known as the Golden Division, were once so loathed that they were nicknamed the “Dirty Division.”

They were accused of running secret prisons and carrying out extrajudicial killings. Some lawmakers called for them to be disbanded.

But the country’s war against the Islamic State has restored the reputation of the elite forces, which have spearheaded nearly every major fight against the militants in Iraq. Their commanders have become battlefield celebrities, while popular songs praise the troops’ prowess.
1st Sgt. Malik Jaber, from Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces wears green cloth from the revered Imam Abbas shrine on his body armor, at a front line position on the southern edge of Fallujah in June. (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

The force of about 10,000 men is a small bright spot in an otherwise lackluster legacy of American efforts to rebuild Iraq’s military in the 13 years since the invasion. U.S. officials say it is their most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State on the ground, while the Iraqi army struggles with corruption and mismanagement.

But with hundreds of casualties over the past two and a half years and few breaks for the men from the grinding war, Iraq may be slowly degrading its best weapon to fight the militants.

Terrorist attacks and security lapses fuel fears for Jordan’s stability

Ian Black
July 25, 2016

Terrorist attacks and security lapses fuel fears for Jordan’s stability

King Abdullah II of Jordan, looking regal in army dress uniform, gazes down from a poster on the General Intelligence Department office near the Palestinian refugee camp at Baqa’a, where guards man new watchtowers flanking the metal gate and high wall across the front of the unmarked stone building.

Security has been tightened since the first day of Ramadan when a young man arrived at the local branch of what all Jordanians call the mukhabarat in the early morning andgunned down five employees before fleeing. The suspected killer, Mahmoud al-Masharfeh, was captured later that day.

And then, two weeks later, hundreds of miles away on the border with Syria, seven border guards died in a suicide mission claimed by Islamic State. Video footage showed a white pickup truck speeding across the desert and trailing a cloud of dust, before a huge explosion. It was Jordan’s worst terrorist incident in more than a decade. Thousands of Syrian refugees trapped in no man’s land suffered further misery when the Rukban crossing point was summarily closed.

There were significant differences between the two attacks. Masharfeh was apparently a lone wolf – though one with past form. Rukban was a sophisticated assault on an Arab country playing a frontline role in the US-led coalition fighting Isis – its stance hardened by the immolation of the captured Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh in 2015. And both have undermined the kingdom’s security and raised troubling questions about present performance and future prospects.

A New Guerrilla War With ISIS Is In the Offing in Iraq and Syria

July 25, 2016

As ISIS Loosens Grip, U.S. and Iraq Prepare for Grinding Insurgency

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State’s latest suicide attack in Baghdad, which killed nearly 330 people, foreshadows a long and bloody insurgency, according to American diplomats and commanders, as the group reverts to its guerrilla roots because its territory is shrinking in Iraq and Syria.

Already, officials say, many Islamic State fighters who lost battles in Falluja and Ramadihave blended back into the largely Sunni civilian populations there, and are biding their time to conduct future terrorist attacks. And with few signs that the beleaguered Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, can effectively forge an inclusive partnership with Sunnis, many senior American officials warn that a military victory in the last urban stronghold of Mosul, which they hope will be achieved by the end of the year, will not be sufficient to stave off a lethal insurgency.

“To defeat an insurgency, Iraq would need to move forward on its political and economic reform agenda,” Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, the top American commander in Iraq, said in an email.

A return to guerrilla warfare in Iraq, while the United States and its allies still combat the Islamic State in Syria, would pose one of the first major challenges to the next American president, who will take office in January. American public opinion has so far supported President Obama’s deployment of roughly 5,000 troops to help Iraq reclaim territory it lost to the Islamic State in 2014, but it is not clear whether political support would dissipate in a sustained effort to fight insurgents.

Morocco’s Indignation With Ban Ki-Moon: Is The Western Sahara An ‘Occupied’ Territory? – Analysis

By Khadija Mohsen-Finan*
JULY 27, 2016
The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, has incurred the wrath of Morocco by referring to the ‘occupation’ of the Western Sahara and recalling the uncertainty that has surrounded the status of this territory for over 40 years.
Morocco’s anger remains palpable. Ban Ki-moon carried out a visit –the first of its nature– to the Tindouf camps in Algeria, where thousands of Sahrawi people claiming independence for the Western Sahara have lived since 1975. The UN Secretary-General also went to Bir Lehlu, a town in the north-eastern part of Western Sahara, in the region controlled by the Polisario Front and deemed to be a ‘liberated zone’ by the Tindouf Sahrawis. This is the same town where the Polisario Front proclaimed the creation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on 27 February 1976 and from where the National Radio of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is broadcast. The Moroccan press talked about provocation.


Apart from the visit itself, Morocco has described as ‘unacceptable’ the comments Ban Ki-moon made at places that are so heavily loaded with symbolism. The highest-ranking representative of the UN, who normally exhibits exemplary restraint, expressed his great compassion for the Sahrawi refugees he met in Tindouf: ‘I was very saddened to see so many refugees and, particularly, young people who were born there. The children who were born at the beginning of this occupation are now 40 or 41 years old. So 40 years of a very difficult life. I really wanted to give them a sense of hope that this is not the end of the world for them’. The response from Rabat was that the Secretary-General crossed a red line when he explicitly used the word ‘occupation’ to describe the control exerted by Morocco since 1975 in the Western Sahara, a territory whose status the UN has not made any ruling on.

Banning Of Islamic State’s Al-Fatihin: Is This Enough? – Analysis

By Mohamed Bin Ali* 
JULY 27, 2016

The authorities in Singapore recently banned Al-Fatihin, a newspaper published by an Islamic State-linked media agency. Will this be enough to reduce the lure of jihadism?

The Singapore government recently gazetted Al-Fatihin, a Malay language newspaper published by Furat Media, an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliated media agency as a prohibited publication, making it an offence to possess or distribute the paper.

On the banning of the document, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said: “ISIS is a terrorist group which poses a serious threat to the security of Singapore. The newspaper is yet another step by ISIS to spread its propaganda abroad, with a clear intention to radicalise and recruit Southeast Asians to join ISIS. The Singapore Government has zero tolerance for terrorist propaganda and has therefore decided to prohibit Al Fatihin in Singapore.”
The Challenge of Self-Radicalisation

The decision to ban Al-Fatihin is a timely move to prevent the paper from falling into Singaporean hands. Singapore takes a strong stand against terrorist propaganda and will embark on decisive measures to counter it. However, the banning of Al-Fatihin newspaper alone will not prevent individuals from being self-radicalised as such materials abound online and offline. The threat of self-radicalisation is far more complex and challenging.

The use of propaganda materials like Al Fatihin by extremist groups is not a new phenomenon either. Many Muslim youths have been radicalised and influenced by extremist messages they receive largely from the Internet which is the primary medium for their radicalisation and recruitment purposes.

Why Is Iran Shaking Up Its Military Leadership?

July 27, 2016

In an unexpected development late last month, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei announced the promotion of Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri as chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces. A shadowy figure from the country’s vaunted Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammed Bagheri has been tasked with overseeing all branches of Iran’s armed forces, including the IRGC, the regular military (Artesh), and the police.

The previous chief of staff, Hassan Firouzabadi, had been in the position for twenty-seven years. A veterinarian by background, he was credited for significant developments to Iran’s military forces, but his lack of military pedigree remained a stain on his reputation.

Mohammad Bagheri, on the other hand, boasts a strong military pedigree: the brother of a war hero, hespent the entirety of the Iran-Iraq War on the front lines, utilizing his strategic acumen to become the IRGC’s chief of intelligence and information operations. He transferred to the General Staff immediately after the war, continuing his work in intelligence. He holds a PhD in political geography and geopolitics, and teaches at the General Staff’s officer school, the Supreme National Defense University.

Importantly, Mohammad Bagheri belongs to a clique of IRGC officers who form the organization’s core leadership, sitting alongside the likes of Mohammad Ali Jafari, the current commander of the IRGC, and Qassem Soleimani, the famed general directing the IRGC’s expeditionary wing, the Quds Force. Composed of just a few members, this clique shares deep ties dating back to the Iran-Iraq War, and is hugely influential in shaping the organization’s trajectory. Neither is it averse to intervening in domestic politics: members of this clique, including Mohammad Bagheri, signed a letterin 1999 to then president Mohammad Khatami, threatening a military coup if Khatami did not crush a growing student rebellion.

Last Russian Terrorist Detainee Released From Guantanamo Bay

Carol Rosenberg
July 25, 2016

Parole board OKs release of Guantánamo’s last Russian captive

The inter-agency parole board announced Monday that it approved the transfer of Guantánamo’s last Russian prisoner, a one-time Red Army ballet dancer whose lawyers are trying to help him resettle in Nottingham, England.

Ravil Mingazov, 48, “did not express any intent to reengage in terrorist activities nor has he espoused any anti-U.S. sentiment that would indicate he views the U.S. as his enemy,” the federal Periodic Review Board wrote in a brief statement. It added that he got along well with his guards.

The decision means 32 of the detention center’s 76 captives are cleared for release to arrangements that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

Lawyers for Mingazov, an ethnic Tatar who was captured in Pakistan and brought to Guantánamo in October 2002, wrote to the British Foreign Office last year seeking family reunification for Mingazov with his now teenaged son and ex-wife in Nottingham. The Muslim family got there in 2014 from Russia and has asylum, said his attorney, Gary Thompson, who added that the couple might remarry once reunited.

Mingazov is a former ballet dancer with the Red Army who argues that he fled anti-Muslim persecution in his homeland in 2000. He went first to Tajikistan, then on to Afghanistan and finally Pakistan, where he was captured by security forces in a raid on a suspected al-Qaida safehouse — and handed over to the United States.

Nuclear Weapons Have Now Become the Centerpiece of North Korea’s Military Doctrine and Strategy

Rodger Baker
July 26, 2016

Facing North Korea’s Nuclear Reality

After announcing that it would cut communications with the United States, North Korea launched three missiles (two Scuds and a No Dong) last week. In some ways, there is little unexpected in North Korea’s actions. Since the early 1990s, the North Korean nuclear and missile programs have been a focus of greater and lesser international attention, and there is no reason to predict that a resolution satisfactory to the United States (or North Korea) will emerge any time soon. Similarly, the United States followed a familiar script in its reaction to the recent launches, threatening additional sanctions and further isolation. 

But that doesn’t mean nothing has changed. North Korea once treated its nuclear weapons programas a bargaining chip — a way to raise the stakes with the United States to wheedle concessions and aid. Now, however, nuclear weapons development is no longer something Pyongyang is willing to trade away for economic support and promises of nonaggression. North Korea has ramped up the testing cycle for its various missile systems, and it may be preparing for another nuclear test. If Pyongyang has no intention of stopping or reversing its nuclear weapons program — the two outcomes that U.S. policy has been geared to achieve — then perhaps it is time for Washington to reconsider its strategy for dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

From Bargaining Chip …

North Korea launched its nuclear weapons program in earnest in the 1980s. After the Soviet Union collapsed, and amid social and political instability in China, Pyongyang rapidly expanded the program, fearing that its two primary backers could no longer provide the economic and security guarantees that North Korea had previously relied on. The United Nations’ recognition of both Korean governments as legitimate reinforced those concerns, and when South Korea began to engage politically and economically with China and Russia, Pyongyang’s worries mounted.

NATO’s Largest Nuclear Storage Facility In Turkey Carries Risks – OpEd

By Jonathan Power*
JULY 27, 2016

The Incirlik air base in southeast Turkey – from which U.S. pilots launch bombing raids on ISIS forces in Syria – is home to about 50 B-61 hydrogen bombs. That makes it NATO’s largest nuclear storage facility.

Each bomb has a yield of up to 170 kilotons, nearly a dozen times more powerful than the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima. The bombs are stored in underground vaults within aircraft shelters that in turn are protected by a security perimeter.

Recently, Incirlik was in the headlines because it appears it was one of the command centres of the attempted coup, meant to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After the coup had been put down the commander of Incirlik was arrested and charged with complicity in the overthrow attempt.

Jonathan Marshall of Consortium News, who has been researching this year the inner workings of the base, reports: “The security of the bombs is premised on them being defended by loyal NATO forces. In the case of Incirlik that loyalty proved uncertain at best. Power to the base was cut after mutinous troops used a tanker plane from the base to refuel F-16s that menaced Ankara and Istanbul.”

He goes on in his latest report to observe, “One can easily imagine a clique of Islamist officers in a future coup seizing the nuclear bombs as a bargaining chip with Ankara and Washington or, worse yet, to support radical insurgents in the region.”

Will TTIP Survive Brexit? – Analysis

By Geethanjali Nataraj*
JULY 27, 2016

June 23, 2016, will forever be a sad day in the history of the EU. Nearly 52% of the British population decided to leave the EU, reversing the decision taken in 1975 to join the common market. The ‘leave’ campaigners are exulting; they called the referendum a sort of reform to save the UK from an unstable EU grappling with migration, security and financial stability issues. The repercussions of Brexit are serious. One wonders if the British voter even understood the consequences of exiting before voting. A country that believed in divide-and-rule has just had one stuck on its backside. Whether they like it or not, the fact is that it is a lot of East Europeans and Asians who work hard to keep the British economy growing. The local guys, instead of upping their game and remaining competitive, have decided to keep the EU guys away who actually work to make a living.

Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intention to withdraw, sets a two-year clock running. After that, the treaties which govern membership would no longer apply to UK. The terms of exit will be negotiated between the UK’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions. Two vast negotiating teams could be created, far larger than those seen in British renegotiation. The EU side is likely to be headed by one of the current Commissioners. The negotiations would be tedious, as it would be hard agreeing to a new trading partnership, establishing what tariffs and other barriers to entry would come into play, and agreeing to other important issues such as restrictions on free movement of persons between the EU and the UK. According to the EU, the complete exit would take about five years or more, because the EU wants to make the conditions for exit really difficult to discourage others from following suit.


JULY 26, 2016

There is a certain irony to insinuations that the latest Democratic National Committee (DNC) email hacking scandal reflects a Kremlin plot to put Donald Trump in the White House. It was only five years ago, in the midst of controversial Russian parliamentary and presidential elections, that Vladimir Putin accused then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of orchestrating a mass protest movement against his regime. Now the shoe seems to be on the other foot.

Allegations that hackers linked to the Russian government have broken into DNC servers and leaked emails are consistent with the current dire state of U.S.-Russian relations. But not all of the implications that have been drawn, including about the Kremlin’s likely motives, ring true. Let’s take the key questions raised one at a time.

The first question is one of attribution and forensic evidence. Courtesy of cyber security scholars and analysts such as Thomas Rid, we already have persuasive evidence in the public sphere that hackers linked to the Russian government are involved in this. Based on the record of previous successful Russian government linked hacks on high profile U.S. targets, such as the State and Defense Departments, we should not be surprised.

Second comes the motive question: Why might the Kremlin have done this, if they did? That’s complex because it cuts two ways. On the one hand, the Russians have long argued that the United States meddles in elections and domestic politics around the globe. Their complaints have been particularly loud about U.S. actions in the post-Soviet space, where the Russians have been acutely sensitive about “color revolutions” bringing anti-Kremlin forces to power and compromising Russian influence in its near abroad. The Russians certainly accused the United States of intervening during the so-called “white” protest movement at the time of Russia’s 2011 Duma and 2012 presidential elections. Since then, the Kremlin has created riveting political theater for its domestic base by rooting out alleged “foreign agents” among Russian NGOs and media.


JULY 26, 2016

Attention all defense nerds! We know you. We are you. You are getting ready for your August vacation, when normal people take a break from work. You, however, are not normal people. Your vacations are really just a chance to surreptitiously catch up on juicy work reading while pretending to relax with family and friends (or to escape them entirely).

So before you grudgingly flee your keyboards and cubicles and take your pasty bodies to the beach, here is our list of top reads (and looks and listens) that you may have missed during the past year. Catch up and keep those brain cells energized after slathering on the sunscreen! Not all of these are obviously about defense and national security, but all will sharpen your thinking and help you think more creatively about future as well as the world we live in now.

The Recent Wars

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger. The best-selling author of War and co-director of the striking Afghan war documentary Restrepo (which is an absolute must-see), Junger wrestles in this book with the vast discontinuities between the surprisingly uplifting experience of bonding in combat and the reality of coming home to a fractured nation lacking any sense of solidarity. He finds that the veterans of today’s wars “often come home to find that, although they’re willing to die for their country, they’re not sure how to live for it.” This unusual meditation is not so much about veterans as it is a reflection upon the deep divisions in American society today and what to do about it, drawn from the lessons of those who have fought.

Women Combatants: The Gender Narrative – OpEd

JULY 27, 2016

In quick succession over the past few weeks, the political leadership in some major countries have indicated their commitment to bringing women in frontline combat roles in their armies. There have been statements to this effect by the US, the UK, and India. These have evinced in turn a slew of articles debating how women would affect operational efficacy and efficiency.

For the record, about three dozen countries around the world have women in their armed forces, though not necessarily in combat roles. The roles assigned to women differ from country to country, with some having passed legislation for equal rights and therefore equal roles within the armed forces, Norway and Sweden being in the forefront; while others have steadfastly held back from assigning combat duties to their women intake, notable amongst these being France and Turkey.

By virtue of its acute requirement for defence forces right from its inception, Israel has always had women employed in combat duties, and has legislated equality of women in any role in the IDF to that of men. The form of recruitment varies from the voluntary to conscription in all these countries. Similarly, they have each charted their own course for the training requirements, physical standards, mandatory term of service, roles and duties assigned to women, and inevitably the laws on sexual harassment. Given the wide spectrum of issues which likely affect and govern the intake of women in armed forces, a logical debate arises about the recent declarations by the US, UK and India. Have certain realities been overlooked? What is it that compels these leaders- is it simply a race for gender equality while disregarding facts based on reality? This analysis seeks to examine both sides of the argument to decide what the right course of action should be.

Killing With Robots Increases Militarization Of Police – OpEd

JULY 26, 2016
As in many cities around the country, Black Lives Matter held a demonstration in Dallas to protest the police shootings of two more black men, Alton Sterling of Louisiana and Philando Castile of Minnesota. During the demonstration, Micah Xavier Johnson, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, mounted his own personal, deadly protest by shooting police officers guarding the nonviolent rally. Five officers were killed and seven wounded.

After negotiating for some time with Johnson, who was holed up in a community college parking garage, police sent in a robot armed with explosives and killed him. Dallas police chief David Brown said, “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the subject was,” adding, “Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger.”

The legal question is whether the officers reasonably believed Johnson posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to them at the time they deployed the robot to kill him.

Johnson was apparently isolated in the garage, posing no immediate threat. If the officers could attach explosives to the robot, they could have affixed a tear gas canister to the robot instead, to force Johnson out of the garage. Indeed, police in Albuquerque used a robot in 2014 to “deploy chemical munitions,” which compelled the surrender of an armed suspect barricaded in a motel room.

But the Dallas police chose to execute Johnson with their killer robot. This was an unlawful use of force and a violation of due process.

Securing The Third Offset Strategy: Priorities For Next US Secretary Of Defense – Analysis

By Timothy A. Walton* 
JULY 27, 2016

Following a process of examining strategy, scenarios, and assessments, this article identifies for the next Secretary of Defense eight capability statements that merit attention as the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) top new investment priorities as part of the Third Offset Strategy in the fiscal year 2018 budget and beyond. Additionally, this article recommends that reforms to the analytical processes informing force planning decisions in general and the Third Offset Strategy in particular be guided by increased selectivity, transparency, and commonality.
Setting the Course

In November 2014, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new Defense Innovation Initiative, which included the Third Offset Strategy. The initiative seeks to maintain U.S. military superiority over capable adversaries through the development of novel capabilities and concepts. Secretary Hagel modeled his approach on the First Offset Strategy of the 1950s, in which President Dwight D. Eisenhower countered the Soviet Union’s conventional numerical superiority through the buildup of America’s nuclear deterrent, and on the Second Offset Strategy of the 1970s, in which Secretary of Defense Harold Brown shepherded the development of precision-guided munitions, stealth, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems to counter the numerical superiority and improving technical capability of Warsaw Pact forces along the Central Front in Europe.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has built on Hagel’s vision of the Third Offset Strategy, and the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget is the first major public manifestation of the strategy: approximately $3.6 billion in research and development funding dedicated to Third Offset Strategy pursuits.1 As explained by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, the budget seeks to conduct numerous small bets on advanced capability research and demonstrations, and to work with Congress and the Services to craft new operational concepts so that the next administration can determine “what are the key bets we’re going to make.”2


JULY 26, 2016

On October 24, 2006, the first Angela Merkel government issued its first white book on defense and the future of the German Armed Forces. Four years later, on May 31, 2010, the president of Germany and official head of state, Horst Köhler, resigned. He stepped down over harsh criticism, after alluding to the fact that Germany should consider military force abroad in order to guard maritime supply routes and to combat regional instabilities. These were precisely some of the key policies of the 2006 White Book, yet the outcry in the German public four years later was so tremendous that it forced the president’s hand. Although the role of the head of state in Germany’s parliamentary system is more ceremonial in nature, this was highly significant because Köhler was the first president to resign in the history of the Federal Republic.

Earlier this month, the most recent German white book (the first since 2006 and only the third since the end of the Cold War) was issued by the current and third Merkel government. And in February 2017, the 12th President of Germany will be elected for a new five-year term. Should he or she be more careful when commenting on security and defense policy, and perhaps even order a moving van for the year 2021? Well, not so fast. Germany’s coming-of-age since its reunification a quarter of a century ago and the tectonic shifts in the international security environment have contributed to a sobering but ultimately necessary ‘normalization’ of the German strategic mindset. Most recently, this was symbolized by the resurgence of Russia and military conflict on European flanks, more than 1.14 million immigrants in 2015 alone, the E.U. crises, and the rise of Islamic extremism.. It appears that the international order, from a central European point of view, is eroding (including a cooled off relationship with the United States in the wake of transatlantic turmoil over the NSA affair). Indeed, the West as a whole has lost much of its global soft and hard power projection capabilities. The 2016 white book seeks to reflect much of that. The process to which the document is but an outcome informally builds on a debate that has been going on in informed German think tank and academic circles since 2013. That year, two leading think tanks came together to publish an influential paper on the future of German defense and security policy. Some of that language found its way into speeches at the Munich Security Conference 2014, where Secretary of Defense Ursula von der Leyen (a conservative), Secretary of State Frank-Walter Steinmeier (a Social Democrat) and — low and behold — current German president Joachim Gauck (a former pastor and opposition member in East Germany during the division of the country) all underlined that requirement for more military engagement in the world should the need arise. This set the scene for the new German capstone document.

The Hawks’ Election Strategy: Pushing a New Cold War

July 25, 2016

Begin with what is obvious: no responsible citizen ought to support in any way the presidential aspirations of Donald Trump. But in a wild election season, intelligent discussion cannot afford to end there. The past few weeks have cemented an extraordinary alliance to defeat Trump that joins two foreign-policy sects that were never entirely distinct: the neoconservatives who commandeered the Bush-Cheney foreign policy of 2001-2006, and liberal interventionists who supported the Iraq war, the Libya war, an expanded program of drone killings, and military intervention in Syria beyond what the Obama administration has allowed. With a spate of recent articles and op-eds, these people are preparing the ground for Hillary Clinton to assert that the Russian government is in league with the Trump campaign, and that Russia has intervened in the election by releasing hacked Democratic National Committee emails to embarrass Clinton.

In Slate magazine, for example, Franklin Foer explained that “Putin has a plan for destroying the West—and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump.” The Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum echoed this verdict: “we finally have a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, with direct and indirect links to a foreign dictator, Vladimir Putin, whose policies he promotes.” Foer and Applebaum have written earlier about Putin, in articles that had a stronger factual basis, and their stances are not surprising. A more telling measure of the efforts in the mainstream media to project a sinister association between Trump and Moscow may be found in a column by Paul Krugman entitled “The Siberian Candidate.”

27 July 2016

*** The day cars drove themselves into walls and the hospitals froze

byR. Kikuo Johnson

The day cars drovethemselves into wallsand the hospitals frozeA scenario that could happen based on what already has.

On December 4, 2017, at a little before nine in the morning, an executive at Goldman Sachs was swiping through the day’s market report in the backseat of a hired SUV heading south on the West Side Highway when his car suddenly swerved to the left, throwing him against the window and pinning a sedan and its driver against the concrete median. A taxi ran into the SUV’s rear fender and spun into the next lane, forcing a school-bus driver to slam on his brakes. Within minutes, nothing was moving from the Intrepid to the Whitney. When the Goldman exec came to, his driver swore that the crash hadn’t been his fault: The car had done it.1

Moments later, on the George Washington Bridge, an SUV veered in front of an 18-wheeler, causing it to jackknife across all four lanes and block traffic heading into the city. The crashes were not a coincidence. Within minutes, there were pileups on 51st Street, the southbound BQE, as far north as the Merritt Parkway, and inside the Midtown Tunnel. By nine, Canal Street was paralyzed, as was the corner of 23rd and Broadway, and every tentacle of what used to be called the Triborough Bridge. At the center of each accident was an SUV of the same make and model, but as the calls came in to the city’s 911 centers in the Bronx and Brooklyn, the operators simply chalked them up to Monday-morning road rage. No one had yet realized that New York City had just been hit by a cyberattack — or that, with the city’s water system, mass transportation, banks, emergency services, and pretty much everything else now wired together in the name of technological progress, the worst was yet to come.2