24 August 2016

Indian Army: Adopting ‘Deep Operations’ Doctrine

By Col JK Achuthan
22 Aug , 2016

In hostile interactions between nations, there are ‘no rules’ for the Victors till the status quo has been established. India is a continental country and should, therefore, have a realistic outlook and possess strong Land Forces, unlike other nations which maintain strong Navies and have sea barriers to protect them. Wars, if fought, should have decisive outcomes so as to ensure a century of peace thereafter, goes the old Clausewitzian dictum. The importance of restructuring Indian Army’s battle groupings to fight decisive “deep operations” in order to permanently achieve the strategic upper hand should, therefore, not be lost sight of. Our national war aim should not be the capture of territories or assimilation of hostile populations but to ensure the destruction of enemy forces, and a favourable outcome to neighbourly relations in the decades ahead. In the wars fought by India since Independence, this reality has been significantly lacking in decision making inputs.

India cannot wish away wars and live on the assurances of unpredictable neighbours, who do not have a democratic governing culture…

With the promulgation of ‘FM-100-5 Operations’ guidelines in 1982, the US Army finally bade farewell to the ‘Attrition Theory’, and transited to the ‘Manoeuvre Theory’ in order to win wars. Earlier in 1967, during Exercise DNIEPER, the Soviet Union had switched over to the ‘All Arms Battle Concept’ and fine-tuned its offensive doctrine based on successively coordinated and staged forward ‘Echelons’ in order to achieve “Penetration”, “Shaping of the Battlefield”, and the conduct of “Deep Operations” using Corps-sized mechanised Operational Mobile Groups (OMG), for maintaining the momentum of sustained unstoppable offensive operations under nuclear as well as non-nuclear battlefield conditions. This was the ‘trigger’ which led to the change in American military thinking, as NATO had no viable answers to counter the overwhelming threat posed by the finesse’ of Red Armour operations.

Restructuring the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)

By Col NP Singh
Issue: Vol. 31.1 Jan-Mar 2016 | Date : 22 Aug , 2016

If we seize this moment, reform may be accomplished in one fell swoop: if we let it pass by, we will lose a great opportunity. — PLA Daily, March 12, 2014

The one thing that caught the world’s attention besides all the impressive hardware at the 70th anniversary parade at Beijing was the announcement by President Xi Jinping on the reduction in the strength of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by 300,000 personnel. This has been followed up by Chinese media reports on the impending reforms in the PLA and has attracted worldwide attention.

A lot has been going on in China and in the PLA since Xi Jinping assumed office as President of China and as Chairman of CMC in November 2012. Three years since then, it is quite clear that he has easily become the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping or maybe Mao himself. The reduction of personnel is a part of wider reforms that have been undertaken within the PLA and will have far reaching impact on the organisation and its conduct of operations. This is only the fourth time such extensive reforms are being attempted; the first one being under Marshal Peng Dehuai in 1954, second under Deng in the early 1980s and then under Jiang Zemin in 1993. Each of the previous ones was either after a conflict or domestic political upheaval. It is also worth noting that each Chinese leader since Deng has reduced PLA numbers and attempted reforms.

Background of Reform

The PLA has undergone three stages of modernisation since its founding. The first stage which lasted till the 1980s was focused on a large conventional force which was prepared to fight the ‘People’s War’ leveraging China’s advantages of space, time and manpower. This was a predominantly Army-centric force as is evident from the name PLA itself.

Kashmir: Give Autonomy, Save Idea of India

By Lt Gen HS Panag, PVSM, AVSM (Retd.)
Date : 22 Aug , 2016

Kashmir is an exceptional situation and exceptions must be made 

It has been 34 days since mass demonstrations, most of which turned violent, erupted in the Valley following the killing of Burhan Wani, the poster boy of terrorism for the last few years. Fifty six people have been killed; approximately 3,000 have been injured and more than 100 have suffered serious eye injuries due the use of the now infamous pellet guns. Despite the fact that ‘intifada’ has been exploited by the separatists since the 1990s and the experience of benchmark demonstrations in 2008 and 2010, the spontaneity, magnitude and violence of this time’s unrest came as a complete surprise to the state and central government. This itself speaks for the lackadaisical political approach that has been notable for acceptance of status quo, absence of a strategy and focus on tactical responses to recurring crisis. More so, when the nature of demonstrations is political, with the death of Wani merely being a trigger.

An insurgency and a counter insurgency (CI) campaign are both driven by its political strategy on which terrorist strategy and military strategy of the state are contingent. We are at a critical juncture in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K ) The terrorist strategy has failed and political strategy is at centrestage to pursue their political aim and to revive terrorism. On the other hand, the military strategy of the state has been eminently successful despite the political disconnect. But sadly, rather than seizing the political initiative, the state — trapped by ideological political rhetoric, an excited jingoist media and public emotions — is suffering from inertia, and continues to focus on the military strategy. This crisis presents an opportunity to boldly pursue a political strategy to resolve the issue within the framework of our constitution.

China slams U.S.-South Korea military drills even as it stages naval war games of its own

By Simon Denyer 
August 22 2016

A missile is launched from a navy ship during a live ammunition drill in the East China Sea. 

BEIJING — China and the United States have been trading accusations as both sides conduct war games across East Asia, and tensions are rising from the South China Sea to the East China Sea to the Korean Peninsula in the midst of a regional arms race.

At the heart of the tensions lies the maritime territorial dispute in the South China Sea, as well as a growing divide on how to respond to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, infecting China’s relations with South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Yanmei Xie, senior China analyst with the International Crisis Group (ICG) in Beijing, says China’s relations with its neighbors have deteriorated significantly, as the region continues to engage in an arms race.

“Before, the region was in the process of economic integration, the building of multilateral institutions, and regional governance by consensus,” she said. “But in recent years, that has all been unraveling. In its place you have an arms race and the building-up of deterrents and the fracturing of multilateral institutions. It’s not good.”

Xie said Beijing and Washington have radically different explanations for the deterioration in the regional security environment. “If you ask China, it’s because of the U.S. pivot to Asia. If you ask anyone else, it’s because of the emergence of a more assertive China,” she said.

A Radical Solution for China and the Philippines: Share the South China Sea

August 22, 2016

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China regarding the South China Sea disputes. Undoubtedly, the Philippines scored a major moral victory. Yet the ruling will have little, if any, impact on the actual situation on the ground. After all, as Harvard’s Graham Allison has noted, none of the permanent members of the UN Security Council has ever respected rulings by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (which is not a UN agency) or even the International Court of Justice (which is a UN agency). And we can only expect China to disregard the ruling entirely, as it has done so far.

So what should the Philippines, China and the United States do now? War and escalation is not an option. With much of Europe in crisis management, and the whole Middle East and North Africa in flames, the world cannot afford to let a dispute over some rocks, shoals and islands to drag the world’s two largest economies into a major crisis, at least not now.

With a new president in charge of the Philippines, the U.S. presidential election only a few months away and Chinese president Xi Jinping entering his second term soon, perhaps it is time for all three actors to sit back, take a deep breath and think clearly about what they really want. Thankfully, China before the ruling, and the Philippines and United States since, have all signaled that they wish to avoid any further escalation of the situation.


AUGUST 22, 2016

Less than two weeks into President Jimmy Carter’s administration, the top China and Asia staffer at the National Security Council staff, Michel “Mike” Oksenberg, wrote a memo expressing concern about the quality of the government’s China experts and requesting a review of the human aspect of U.S. intelligence capabilities on China. One of the leading China experts of his generation, Oksenberg also wanted more educational programs for analysts to maintain and expand their knowledge beyond the narrow concerns of their day-to-day duties. Oksenberg’s 1977 memo to his boss, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, may not have gone anywhere, but the issue of whether the U.S. government possesses adequate knowledge of China and expertise sufficient to assess Chinese actions continues to linger.

Today’s concerns over the knowledge and competence of the U.S. government’s “China hands” come from a broad enough range of sources that they cannot be treated as simply politically motivated attacks. On the one side, those critical of U.S. policy toward China have complained about the competence and politicization of “panda huggers” who skewed analysis to fit an overly optimistic of U.S.-Chinese relations. On the other side, those who pride themselves on their professional, research-based perspective also have criticized the U.S. intelligence community for not paying sufficient attention to expertise and not addressing some key questions. One quiet commission investigating the state of U.S. intelligence analysis of China in the late 1990s reportedly concluded there was an institutional predisposition to misunderstanding Chinese developments.

China Scared of 17 Mountain Strike Corps?

By Claude Arpi
22 Aug , 2016

Yesterday Xinhua announced that Xi Jinping, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, presented honorary titles to two military units for their outstanding services.

One is Unit 77656, which is termed a ‘model plateau battalion’, was awarded for its outstanding performance “in safeguarding borders, ensuring stability and helping disaster relief”.

The other award winner is the PLA Navy Submarine Unit 372 which was honored as a ‘model submarine for performing marine missions with excellence’.

Xi said that the “whole armed forces should learn from both examples.”

Xi also awarded ‘merit citations’ to four military units and 15 persons for outstanding services.

Troop 66114 was given a first-class merit citation for its outstanding contribution to completing tasks, and units 91515, 94669 and 96261 were given second-class merit citations for their outstanding performance in strengthening fighting capacity.

PTI, with its poor knowledge of geography, commented that Xi Jinping “conferred special honours on PLA battalion posted near Arunachal.”

The PTI piece says: “Chinese President Xi Jinping bestowed special honours on a PLA battalion posted in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh for its “outstanding performance in safeguarding borders”, adding that: “While the news report has not identified the battalion, Indian defence officials and strategic think-tanks have said it is Gangba 2nd Independent Battalion.”

Capturing China’s $5 trillion productivity opportunity

It won’t be easy, but shifting to a productivity-led economy from one focused on investment could add trillions of dollars to the country’s growth by 2030. 

After three decades of sizzling growth, China is now regarded by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income nation, and it’s on its way to being one of the world’s advanced economies. The investment-led growth model that underpinned this extraordinary progress has served China well. Yet some strains associated with that approach have become evident. 

In 2015, the country’s GDP growth dipped to a 25-year low, corporate debt soared, foreign reserves fell by $500 billion, and the stock market dropped by nearly 50 percent. A long tail of poorly performing companies pulls down the average, although top-performing Chinese companies often have returns comparable with those of top US companies in their industries. More than 80 percent of economic profit comes from financial services—a distorted economy. Speculation that China could be on track for a financial crisis has been on the rise. 

The nation faces an important choice: whether to continue with its old model and raise the risk of a hard landing for the economy, or to shift gears. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, China’s choice: Capturing the $5 trillion productivity opportunity, finds that a new approach centered on productivity could generate 36 trillion renminbi ($5.6 trillion) of additional GDP by 2030, compared with continuing the investment-led path. Household income could rise by 33 trillion renminbi ($5.1 trillion), as the exhibit shows. 

Chinese Army's official mouthpiece warns India against deploying cruise missiles in Arunachal

21 August 2016

India's move to deploy BrahMos cruise missiles in Arunachal as a deterrent against China has provoked a sharp response from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). 

The NDA government had given the final go-ahead for the Army to induct and deploy an advanced version of the BrahMos missile for mountain warfare in the northeast earlier this month. 

The PLA’s official mouthpiece, the PLA Daily, has warned India that doing so could attract countermeasures from China and bring “a negative influence” to “stability” of border areas.

The 290km range BrahMos is a tactical or non-nuclear missile jointly developed with Russia, and has become the preferred precision-strike weapon for the Indian Armed Forces

“India deploying supersonic missiles on the border has exceeded its own needs for self-defense and poses a serious threat to China’s Tibet and Yunnan provinces,” said the commentary, published this weekend in the PLA’s influential official newspaper. 

The Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, had cleared this fourth BrahMos regiment at a cost of over Rs 4,300 crore. 

France Is at War in Yemen, Photos Indicate

Satellite imagery suggests that French war materiel, if not French personnel, is supporting the Saudi-led war in Yemen. If confirmed, it represents a previously unreported escalation of French support.

The satellite imagery, some of which Google Earth published recently, shows two unique hangars deployed on an expanded parking apron at the Eritrean airport of Assab. The hangars match those of other known French deployments.

How they ended up at the airport remains an interesting question. Given recent developments between France and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, it appears France is deepening its relationship with the region in a substantive way.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a military intervention in Yemen after the Houthi rebels forced Western-backed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, from the capital of Sanaa.

Despite numerous groups vying for influence — notably Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS affiliates — the Iranian-backed Shia movement remains the greatest threat to the regional power.

In response, the Kingdom enlisted a coalition of states including GCC members, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. Other states including Egypt, Jordan and Sudan also sent military support while the United States provided aerial refueling tankers and intelligence for targeting.

The Making Of A United Kurdistan – OpEd

AUGUST 22, 2016

Slowly, and much to the distaste of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the possibility of a united autonomous Kurdistan stretching across the northern reaches of Syria and Iraq is emerging.

The capture of the township of Manbij from Islamic State (IS) on 12 August 2016 produces along Turkey’s southern border an uninterrupted swathe of territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an alliance of Arab and Kurdish militias. Thisarea joins seamlessly with Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, the Kurdish populated area granted autonomy in Iraq’s 2005 constitution.

Just as the artificial boundaries and borders imposed on the Middle East by the victorious allies after the First World War are laughed to scorn by Islamic State (IS) in declaring its caliphate, so any united autonomous Kurdistan – if such an entity were ever to come into existence – would have to sit fairly and squarely across what now constitute the internationally recognised borders of Turkey, Syria. Iraq and Iran.

Iraq’s Kurdistan contains about 5 million of the world’s approximately 30 million ethnic Kurds; the liberated region in Syria about 2 million. Most of the rest reside in the areas immediately adjacent to Kurdistan’s northern and eastern borders, in Turkey and Iran respectively – both of which are deeply opposed to any suggestion of granting Kurds independence, or even autonomy on the Iraqi model.

America’s New Military Commander in Iraq and the Myriad of Problems He Faces

Andrew Tilghman
August 22, 2016

The ISIS war has a new commander — and ISIS may be the least of his worries

It’s going to be a long year for Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who on Sunday became the seventh American general since 2003 to assume command of war operations in Iraq. And his mission might be the toughest one yet. 

As the head of Operation Inherent Resolve, Townsend’s objective is to eliminate the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate while simultaneously diffusing the region’s Sunni-Shia conflicts that have metastasized into a proxy war, drawing in nearly every major country across Europe and the Middle East. He has to win the Battle of Mosul and stabilize northern Iraq. He has to pursue ISIS into Syria, where the U.S. has few allies on the ground, and negotiate a highly complex battlefield that also includes heavily armed and highly unpredictable Russian military forces. And back in Washington, Townsend will face historic uncertainty, the product of an unusual political landscape that — for better or worse — will produce in a new commander in chief come January. 

Military analysts say Townsend, by all accounts one of the Army’s most gifted strategists, will oversee a shift from conventional warfare to a mission that is far more ambiguous and political. “Things are about to get a lot more complicated,” said Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser for Gulf State Analytics, a geopolitical risk analysis firm. “The complexity of operations is going to speed up. And for General Townsend, trying to understand that quickly is going to be paramount.”

The Danger of War without Sacrifice

August 22, 2016

Donald Trump recently drew fire for his insistence that he had made sacrifices on a par with those of Khizr Khan, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention on July 28 and whose son Humayun was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004. Hillary Clinton praised Khan’s speech and “the ultimate sacrifice [Humayan] made for his country,” while Trump insisted that he had sacrificed by giving thousands of people jobs, by working hard, and by raising money for veterans.

Trump has rightly drawn ridicule for comparing his business deals to the loss of the Khans’ son, but one important thing has been lost among the guffaws emanating from the Democratic Party: the vast majority of Americans have sacrificed absolutely nothing in service of the great war machine that the United States has been running for the past fifteen years. This is no accident. Over the past four decades, the United States has chosen to build a model for the use of military force that minimizes as much as possible the costs that Americans must pay to deploy U.S. forces. Trump may not have sacrificed much, but neither have most Americans—and unfortunately, this is a necessary feature of the United States’ current foreign policy.

As I document in my book Cheap Threats, this low-cost model of American force started to take shape at the end of the Vietnam War. When the United States eliminated the draft in 1973, it did so in response to the deeply unpopular war in Southeast Asia and to criticism that the draft was unfair: young men who could afford to attend college, for example, were able to obtain deferments that allowed them to avoid military service. The movement to the all-volunteer force (AVF) has enhanced the training and professionalism of the United States’ military, but it has also insulated policymakers from criticism they would no doubt face for starting and maintaining two wars of choice in the Middle East while going after militants in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere. It is simply unimaginable that the United States would still have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and that a former Senator who voted for the Iraq War would be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee if the United States still drafted young Americans into military service.


AUGUST 22, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is intended as a follow-on to “Stealth is King, the World is Flat”, which called for renewed emphasis to evolve the fight in the low-altitude regime and to reduce what some surmise is an overreliance on stealth.

Commentaries regarding stealth on War on The Rocks may have left readers with the impression that there is a binary force structure choice between the “haves” and the “have-nots” regarding aircraft with stealth characteristics. While it is human nature to seek out binary decisions, this could not be further from the truth. Any current, competent, experienced warfighter knows that we commit a significant disservice when the subject of stealth is oversimplified. It’s not that simple.

Air Superiority

If there is one thing the U.S. Air Force should prioritize above all else, it is air superiority. Air superiority has consistently been a necessary prelude and continuous requirement for the joint force to meet military objectives. Simply put, air superiority permits the ability to maneuver, support, and fight at will on land, sea, and air. In wars of necessity, you don’t win without it.

US military commander warns Russia and Syria: 'We will defend ourselves'

Images of US special forces operating in Syria were published earlier this year Getty

A top US military commander has warned the forces of President Bashar al-Assad “we will defend ourselves” after Syrian planes and artillery launched operations in an area where American special forces are located.

The US dispatched a small number of special forces troops to northern Syria to assist Kurdish Pershmerga and support Syrian rebel groups seeking to overthrow Mr Assad. Yet last Thursday, two Syrian Su-24 ground-attack planes targeted an area close to where they are based.

The incident in the northern Syrian city of Hasakah, highlighted the complicated and perilous situation in Syria, where the US and Russia are on different sides of a civil war that has now raged for five years and killed or displaced millions of people. While in disagreement over Mr Assad, the two countries are seeking to cooperate in efforts to attack and destroy Isis bases in Syria. 

CNN:#US Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend:
...we will defend ourselves (against #Moscow\#Damascus) if we feel threatened," pic.twitter.com/jm4j3W9sOQ— Syria Today (@todayinsyria) August 21, 2016

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, who took control of US forces in Syria and Iraq last week, said he had voiced his concerns – passing a message to Syria through Russian intermediaries.

Obama’s Legacy Of Failure In The Middle East – OpEd

AUGUST 22, 2016

In order to create a semblance of objectivity and fairness, the American policymakers and analysts are always willing to accept the blame for the mistakes of the distant past that have no bearing on the present, however, any fact that impinges on their present policy is conveniently brushed aside.

In the case of the creation of Islamic State, for instance, the United States’ policy analysts are willing to concede that invading Iraq back in 2003 was a mistake that radicalized the Iraqi society, exacerbated the sectarian divisions and gave birth to an unrelenting Sunni insurgency against the heavy handed and discriminatory policies of the Shi’a-dominated Iraqi government; similarly, the war on terror era political commentators also “generously” accept that the Cold War era policy of nurturing the Afghan so-called “freedom fighters” against the erstwhile Soviet Union was a mistake, because all those fait accompli have no bearing on their present policy.

The corporate media’s spin-doctors conveniently forget, however, that the creation of Islamic State and myriads of other Sunni Arab jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq has as much to do with the unilateral invasion of Iraq back in 2003 under the previous Bush Administration as it has been the consequence of the present policy of Obama Administration in Syria of training and arming the Sunni militants against the Syrian regime since 2011-onward, in fact, the proximate cause behind the rise of Islamic State, al Nusra Front and myriads of Sunni jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq has been Obama Administration’s policy of intervention through proxies in Syria.

Eurozone Stability Under Threat Of A ‘Bad Shock’ – Analysis

By Stefano Micossi* 
AUGUST 22, 2016

Some economists are approaching a consensus that the Eurozone’s financial architecture is now resilient enough to withstand another shock similar to that of 2010-11. This column argues that such a view may be overly optimistic. Economic and financial instability persists in member states and the banking sector, and institutions to tackle a shock remain incomplete. While the Eurozone remains vulnerable to a bad shock, the blanket application of burden sharing without consideration of current economic and financial conditions is unwise.

On 25 June, Vox published a column – “Making the Eurozone more resilient: What is needed now and what can wait”, signed by an impressive list of ‘Resiliency Authors’ – arguing that the Eurozone now has an adequate financial architecture for coping with another ‘bad shock’, and that what needs to be done “mostly [is] to make sure that the rules in place can be enforced” (Resiliency Authors 2016).1 I would like to explain why I feel that this view may prove optimistic and, more importantly, that the careless implementation of existing rules may become the very source of a new bad shock.
Is the glass half-full or is it half empty?

Vlad Putin’s Circle of Cold War-Era Buddies Is Shrinking

William E. Pomeranz
August 22, 2016

Commentary: Putin’s ever-shrinking circle shows a return to Soviet politics

Russia’s search for greater international influence and respect continued its downward spiral this summer. Its Olympic experience was spoiled by charges of doping. Accusations of hacking dragged it into the U.S. presidential campaign, and military tensions over Ukraine and Syria showed no sign of abetting.

All this clamor and controversy is overshadowing Russia’s impending September 18 parliamentary elections. This might be exactly what President Vladimir Putin wants, however. The Duma elections five years ago sparked unprecedented protests over fraud and Putin’s unilateral decision to return to the presidency. He has been clamping down ever since.

But though electoral competition remains tightly controlled, elite competition is increasingly played out in the open. A changing of the guard is underway in Russia. It is occurring via presidential decree, however, not elections. Such an opaque process produces plenty of intrigue and speculation. What it lacks is real political options for voters and a chance for genuine change.

Reading the Russian tea leaves is a growth industry. But even among all the comings and goings, certain trends have become apparent. Most notably, the people who built Putin’s system are on their way out, replaced by people of the system.

America Must Be Ready to Nuke Back Fast

August 22, 2016

It’s time to recall September 26, 1983, what could have been the most consequential moment in history.

That day, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was the duty officer at the Serpukhov-15 early-warning center, south of Moscow. During the first hours of the morning Petrov heard successive alarms indicating that five Minuteman missiles from Montana were headed toward the Soviet Union. More than thirty reliability checks in Serpukhov-15 confirmed the attack.

Petrov, however, ignored the warnings that missiles were approaching at three miles a second. “I was drenched in sweat,” he recalled. “People were shouting, the siren was blaring. But a feeling inside told me something was wrong.”

The Soviet officer did not think the U.S. would begin a conflict with such a small salvo, and as it turned out, he was right. Sensors aboard satellite Kosmos 1382 misinterpreted sunlight bouncing off the tops of clouds as incoming missiles.

His reward for saving humanity? Stanislav Petrov was disciplined for a technicality and soon left the military.

The only thing that prevented a nuclear exchange that day was what Petrov later called “a funny feeling in my gut.” The world was fortunate: it was not his turn to stand duty. Petrov took over the watch for a friend.

The Petrov incident is not the only time the world came close to accidental Armageddon. In January 1995, Boris Yeltsin received his nuclear launch codes and had to decide whether to fire off his missiles when America and Norway sent a rocket into space to study the Northern Lights. A mistake in Moscow resulted in a failure to forward the advance notice of the launch to the appropriate military command.

Can America Share Its Superpower Status?

August 21, 2016

The United States is in long-term relative decline. In absolute terms, the America of the future will be richer. But because other countries like China and India, and other regions like Africa, are growing more rapidly, America’s share of global wealth will decline. So will America’s share of global military power, which, in the industrial era, is loosely rather than perfectly correlated with relative economic weight.

Primacy, as a concept in international relations, can refer either to polarity (a country’s share of global economic and military resources) or to hegemony (a specialized function within an interdependent international community). Whether defined as polarity or hegemony, American global primacy is coming to an end.

Projections of national shares in GDP in 2050 by think tanks, investment banks and consulting firms tend to converge at the prediction that the world will have three economic poles or cores—China, the United States and Europe—or perhaps four, if India enjoys rapid and sustainable growth. “The World in 2050,” a report by PwC, assigns 20 percent of global GDP (in purchasing power parity) to China, 14 percent to the United States and India, and a mere 12 percent to Europe as a whole in 2050. A 2015 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit paints a similar picture, concluding: “By 2030 the top three economies of the world will be the US, China and India. Such will be the growth of the two latter countries, in particular, that by 2050 they will each be richer than the next five (Indonesia, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and the UK) put together. This will represent a scale of wealth relative to the rest of the top ten that is unique in recorded history.” Indeed, to use PwC’s numbers, China, the United States, India and Europe together would account for around 60 percent of global GDP. Sub-Saharan Africa’s population will explode in the next few generations, but its successful development, if it occurs, will take a long time.

South Korean Arms Exports to Latin America

By Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj
Date : 21 Aug , 2016

In August 2016, the first photographs of the BAP Ferre (PM-211) appeared in the livery of the Peruvian Coast Guard. This sound, albeit decidedly unremarkable, ship would not have warranted a second glance even by the relatively modest naval standards of the region but for the fact that it was the latest example of the quiet penetration of the Latin American arms market by South Korea (or more accurately the Republic of Korea – ROK). Unheralded, the ROK has made remarkable inroads: securing contracts from countries in the region for the supply of assault rifles, aircraft, anti-ship missiles and warships, and entering into joint ventures with local shipyards for the design and construction of patrol vessels as well as with Peru’s fledgling aviation industry to assemble basic trainer aircraft. And it has ambitions for further sales in the years to come.

Placing a monetary value on ROK arms exports to the region is difficult as these exports are comprised of three discernible categories:
Outright sale of either weapons or military platforms such as ships and aircraft
Design and Co-production joint-ventures
Transfers of surplus naval vessels

Furthermore, many of these exports were done as part of government-to-government transactions – spearheaded by the ROK’s very active diplomatic missions – which may have involved cooperation in other spheres, thus making estimates of precise values somewhat inaccurate. What is known, however, is that the ROK has exported defence items worth USD 3 billion annually for three consecutive years of either weapons or platforms such as ships or aircraft.1

The Leaked SHADOW BROKER NSA Hacking Files Examined

Peter Koop
August 21, 2016

Is the Shadow Brokers leak the latest in a series?

Earlier this week, a group or an individual called the Shadow Brokers published a large set of files containing the computer code for hacking tools. They were said to be from the Equation Group, which is considered part of the NSA’s hacking division TAO.

The leak got quite some media attention, but so far it was not related to some earlier leaks of highly sensitive NSA documents. These show interesting similarities with the Shadow Brokers files, which were also not attributed to Edward Snowden, but seem to come from an unknown second source.

Screenshot of some computer code with instructions
from the Shadow Brokers archive

The Shadow Brokers files

Since August 13, the ShadowBrokers posted a manifesto and two large encrypted files onPastebin, on GitHub, on Tumblr and on DropBox (the latter three closed or deleted meanwhile).


AUGUST 22, 2016

Editor’s Note: This was originally published by The Interpreter, which is published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, an independent, nonpartisan think tank based in Sydney. War on the Rocks is proud to be publishing articles from The Interpreterweekly.

Last Wednesday, the Australian government announced its disappointment that the long-planned commemoration ceremony at Long Tan, in southern Vietnam, had been shut down at the last minute by the Vietnamese government. Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the battle that killed 18 Australian and possibly 245 Vietnamese soldiers. The shock caused by the late cancellation reached the highest levels with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling his counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, for an explanation. In the end, Vietnam allowed small groups into Long Tan, in an orderly manner.

Australia has been holding ceremonies there, one way or another, since 1989. This year’s event would have been the largest by far. Media outlets reported that more than 1000 Australians planned to convene at the Long Tan site, where a memorial cross marks what is now a corn field.

For a long time now it has been this way: Military uniforms (save for our military attache from the embassy in Hanoi), medals, flags have long been disallowed.

23 August 2016

The Original Himalayan Blunder: How India Lost Gilgit-Baltistan


The original Himalayan Blunder was with regard to the Gilgit Agency and the Wazarat, which many don’t even remember. Gilgit-Baltistan, as we know it today comprised Gilgit Agency and Gilgit Wazarat back in 1947.

A lot has been written about the Himalayan Blunder committed by India in 1962. Even more has been written about the blunders committed in the prosecution of the Kashmir War of 1947, notably thereference to the United Nations by Jawaharlal Nehru at a time India was gaining momentum in the war. Poonch had been secured. Enemy forces had been chased away from the outskirts of Leh and Kargil had been won back. The Poonch-Uri road had been secured. India only needed a last push to capture Skardu back and take Muzaffarabad and Mirpur.

History would also tell you that Jammu and Kashmir was also the only princely state which was not under the charge of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Kashmir was a separate Ministry under the Government of India and was directly under the charge of Prime Minister Nehru.

I would not labour the oft repeated events that pre-dated the accession of Kashmir to India.

I begin at the point of accession.

Field Marshal Manek Shaw

There is a fine account by Late Field Marshal Manek Shaw who was then the Director of Military Operations in the Army HQ in the rank of a Colonel. General Sir Roy Bucher, the C-in-C of the Indian Army sent him to accompany VP Menon who was flying to Srinagar to get the Instrument of Accession signed.

The Kabaili tribals were hardly 10-12 kms away from the Srinagar airfield. They came back on 25th Oct, and it is worth recalling in Manek Shaw’s own words what happened the next morning in a meeting of the Cabinet Defence Committee:

“At the morning meeting he handed over the (Accession) thing. Mountbatten turned around and said, ‘come on Manekji (He called me Manekji instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?’ I gave him the military situation, and told him that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn’t fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport.

Afghanistan, Between India and Pakistan

By Najibullah Noorzai
August 19, 2016

Afghanistan, a landlocked country, is located in a strategic location, connecting Central Asia to South Asia and East Asia to West Asia. For centuries, it functioned as the economic corridor for the Silk Roadand other ancient trade routes in the region. The political rifts and instability in Afghanistan are often attributed to its strategic location, since major powers have always tried to control Afghanistan in the interest of spreading their political, economic, and ideological hegemony in the region.

Despite being a member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, the confrontations between the two main power blocs had dragged Afghanistan into hostilities, turning it into a battlefield. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan was left alone, drifting into civil war among different guerrilla Mujahideen groups, supported by the neighboring states. Eventually Pakistan managed to nurture and sponsor the Taliban that then controlled most of the country until they were overthrown by the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan in 2001.

Since their independence, India and Pakistan have been engaged in a protracted mutual hostility, with each country seeking to enhance its security and self-protection. To this end, they have acquired nuclear weapons, purchased sophisticated military technologies, and partnered with powerful states. Moves by one of them would cause the other to feel suspicious and insecure. However, the main reason behind the escalation of a spiral of distrust and hostility is due to the misinterpretation of motives and intentions by the decision-makers in both countries. As a result, both New Delhi and Islamabad seem to be trapped in what international relations scholars would describe as a security dilemma. This has borne costs, such as direct military conflicts between the two countries or, more recently, smaller skirmishes.

Waging a war of words

Harsh V. Pant 

India and Pakistan celebrated their 70th Independence days recently, even as a war of words escalated between the two countries. As usual, Kashmir is the focal point. But this time, India has changed the terms of discourse rather dramatically. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that while his government was willing to talk to anyone with an "open mind" and was keen to normalize the situation, there won't be any major concessions in dealing with the protests in Kashmir. Strongly rejecting Pakistan's bid to present itself as an involved party, Modi has made the point that Islamabad's own human-rights record did not give it such leeway. He has also suggested that there was a need to track those who had fled Pakistan-occupied Kashmir so that their accounts could be publicized. PoK, he has said, is the fourth part of Jammu and Kashmir, along with Ladakh, Jammu and the Valley. The Modi government is also keen to bring to the attention of the world the plight of Balochistan. New Delhi is now clear that if Pakistan continues to meddle in Kashmir and incite violence and terror, India would be forced to expose the atrocities it continues to commit in restive Balochistan. India's approach was welcomed by activists in Balochistan who blame Islamabad for their plight.

In his address earlier this month to the home ministers' conference of Saarc countries in Islamabad, Rajnath Singh raised the issue of Pakistan's support for terrorism on foreign soil. "One country's terrorist cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone", said Singh. "I also speak for the entire humanity - not just for India or other SAARC members - in urging that in no circumstances should terrorists be eulogised as martyrs," he added.