11 November 2016

DoD looking at alternative methods to train hackers

November 8, 2016

DoD looking at alternative methods to train hackers

As the military steeps itself deeper into the realm of cyberspace domain, leaders are realizing that they must modify existing practices. Hackers and IT workers have always been associated with hoodie-wearing teenagers sitting in their parent’s basement, but now the military is building its cyber forces, which recently reach initial operating capability. The effort requires training traditional soldiers to become “cyber warriors” with intimate technical knowledge, and as such, the Pentagon is undertaking a series of pilots and prototypes to better understand learning practices and teach cyber skills.

These prototypes are “designed to understand the best learning practices to teach someone the cyber effects skills that we need in the department,” both offensive and defensive, said Frank DiGiovanni, director of Force Training in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, who is spearheading the pilots. “So these aren’t training courses but the intent is to prototype different types of learning practices so we can get the” best approach to teach people this new skill set.

In an interview with C4ISRNET, DiGiovanni explained that the purpose of this training prototype is to develop better training programs by improving the way information is taught. He said the Defense Department is in a competition with the private sector to attract and retain top talent in the cyber field. “Really what this course is doing is are there efficiencies -- can we improve the speed as well as the level of competence of our graduates?” he said.

Part of the course was modeled after interviews DiGiovanni conducted, initially, with 21 of the nation’s top hackers, whom he asked one simple question: If you were going to hire someone to replace you at your company, who are you looking for?

When Joint is Not Enough, Is Multi-Domain the Answer?

October 7, 2016 

Joint has been the orthodoxy for military operations since the Second World War. It has proven an effective means to coordinate the assets of different services operating under a single commander. Yet, despite its centrality to the contemporary way of war, the days of joint operations are numbered. Technological advances now occurring will mandate the crafting of a new principle around which to organise for and conduct war. This is taking shape under the idea of multi-domain operations.

Transformative weapons and systems are behind the need for commanders to change the way they think about and prepare for war. These technologies include long-range precision strike platforms, swarming and intelligent robots, advanced sensors, offensive cyber, electro-magnetic manoeuvre systems and weaponised social media. In combination, they are likely to have two significant and far-reaching effects on how war is conducted. First, the reach of these weapons and systems will eliminate the already porous boundaries between the domains through their ability to compress both time and space. Second the expansion of the number of domains of war from the traditional three of land, sea and air to six, with the inclusion of space, cyber and social media, will require greater command integration in what promises to be a more chaotic environment.

It must be admitted that many weapons currently in use already have multiple domain capabilities. For example, long-range bombers can take off from a base on land, fly through the air above a maritime space and bomb a target on a different continent, thereby operating in one domain but traversing three. The epic flights of B-52 bombers during Operation Desert Storm are a case in point. Consequently, it would be reasonable to ask whether what is being argued here represents anything new or whether it is just an exercise in rebadging. No doubt some readers are doing so.

Can Smartphones and Privacy Coexist? Assessing Technologies and Regulations Protecting Personal Data on Android and iOS Devices

0.5 MB 

Technical Details » 

Research Questions 
What is the state of privacy with smartphones? What are the gaps and opportunities in addressing privacy and regulation in regard to smartphones? 

What are the privacy offerings on devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system? 

How does the users' use of smartphones affect privacy preferences? 

What are the different layers involved in hardware, apps, and networks that inform smartphone privacy (e.g., operating system manufacturer, app developer)? 

What technical and regulatory protections are available to protect privacy? 

As smartphones become more ubiquitous around the globe, policymakers inevitably have to grapple with issues related to the security and privacy of these devices. To aid in this understanding, in 2015, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) commissioned a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory and the RAND Corporation to assess smartphone users' privacy from both technical and regulatory perspectives. This report documents the team's approach and findings. On the technical side, it describes a literature review and experiments performed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory investigating the state of privacy of the two major smartphone platforms in 2015: Google's Android and Apple's iOS. On the regulatory side, this report describes a review by RAND of major federal regulatory mechanisms for protecting privacy in the United States and provides a tool to understand both privacy regulation and technology.

Digital Theft: The New Normal

October 10, 2016

The digital theft of just under 100 million records stolen from both the Office of Personnel Management and Anthem pales compared to the revelation that at least 500 million Yahoo accounts have been compromised—though one might argue that the impact is just as significant. Every time something like this happens, a familiar scene unfolds: There's a mad scramble to learn how it took place, determine the impact on the companies and encourage consumers (not always successfully) to change passwords, reset accounts, or perform some other security action.

In response to large breaches, the targeted company often reaches out to the affected individuals to let them know. Although data theft like this has become part of the modern digital landscape, and studies have examined the costs and causes of these incidents, as well as the financial impact to the companies, little is known about how consumers react—how the tens of millions of account holders whose data and personal, financial, or health information is at risk respond to the breached company, to the notification that data theft has occurred and to the company's subsequent actions.

Consumers whose personal data has been compromised remain satisfied with and loyal to companies that have experienced a data breach.

To try to understand consumer reaction to a data breach, RAND researchers recently explored the practice of sending out data breach notifications. The research suggests, perhaps surprisingly, that consumers whose personal data has been compromised remain satisfied with and loyal to companies that have experienced a data breach. For instance, 77 percent of notified victims reported being content with how the company handled the breach and its follow-up notification. Only 11 percent cut their ties with the company.

Fighting Tigers With Sticks: Fehrenbach’s Lessons on Military Readiness

September 29, 2016

But the abiding weakness of free peoples is that their governments cannot or will not make them prepare or sacrifice before they are aroused.

-- T. R. Fehrenbach

Military readiness is a paradoxical and multifaceted issue that remains largely esoteric to those unacquainted with the cruel nature of war. Arguably the most confounding principle of readiness is that it is most needed when it is least desired. In the mercurial political domain that war must occupy, this can be a debilitating characteristic. Tragically but valuably, past generations have suffered immensely so that current generations may benefit from the clarity of hindsight. T. R. Fehrenbach’s 1963 magnum opus of Korean War history, This Kind of War, offers its readers just this: a germane account of the cataclysmic impact that lackluster military preparedness has on a nation’s ability to fight and win the eternally brutal contest of wills known as war. His focus is not necessarily on the physical (tactical) realm of military readiness, but rather he concludes it is the sociopolitical and psychological state of the prewar nation that determines victory or failure. 

Fehrenbach suggests that such conditions dictate whether a nation’s citizens – and thus the members of its armed forces – possess the requisite fighting spirit to embrace the ugliness of war and enable the realization of positive political outcomes that may be opaque in the near-term. If nations do indeed “live or die by their people’s willingness to fight,” this form of readiness is linked directly to a nation’s vitality.[i] In the current operating environment, where the United States must contend with conventional state expansionism, ubiquitous cyber terror, nuclear aggression and WMD proliferation, and the transnational growth of decentralized non-state terror networks, continuous reflection on the history of preparedness remains a decisive endeavor.

Are some of the Army’s best soldiers being forced out?

By Scott Maucione
October 31, 2016

The co-founder of a successful professional development organization.

A special forces operator who speaks three languages.

Free webinar on best practices integrating cloud into your agency’s modernization efforts. 

A three-time champion on the game show “Jeopardy!”

These are four Army officers — three captains and one lieutenant — that any business would hire in the blink of an eye.

But these talented, highly educated leaders are on the cusp of being involuntarily separated, have already been released or have had their jobs saved in the nick of time by Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff.

8 takeaways from Army’s talent loss

Here’s a quick overview of the Federal News Radio’s special report The Army is Shortchanging its Future Force.

The Army is in a talent crisis. Its most recent study on the issue, in 2010, found only 6 percent of Army officers thought the service did a good job of retaining its best leaders.

The Army fights to keep private industry from leeching its best soldiers. With better pay, more comprehensive benefits and a stable location, the private sector seems tempting compared to military life.

10 November 2016

*** President-Elect Donald Trump

By George Friedman
Nov. 9, 2016

In lieu of today’s Reality Check, please enjoy this special election issue of Friedman’s Weekly.

This victory proves he – and the class of voters who elected him – cannot be overlooked.
Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. The extent of the bewilderment is significant. The pollsters were shocked. The media was surprised. The financial markets were stunned. Many in the Republican Party were astonished. And the Democratic Party was totally taken off guard. The thought that a man with Trump’s values and behavior could become president was, to many, unthinkable. I do not mean that they disagreed with him, or hoped that Trump would lose. They thought it inconceivable that a man like Trump could win.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

That is the reason Hillary Clinton lost. The Democratic Party that nominated her has moved far away from the party that Franklin D. Roosevelt crafted or that Lyndon B. Johnson had led. Their party had as its core the white working class. The liberalism of FDR and LBJ was built around this group, with other elements added and subtracted. Much has been said about this group having become less important. Perhaps so, but it is still the single largest ethnic and social group in the country.

This group, as I have argued before, is in trouble. The middle class, with a median take-home pay in California of about $4,300 a month, can buy a modest house and a car but certainly can’t afford to send their kids to college. Hence the massive student loans their children must take out. The lower-middle class has a take-home pay of about $2,600 a month. A generation ago the lower-middle class could buy a small house in a not-so-great neighborhood. Now they are hard pressed to rent an apartment. Liberals are concerned with inequality. People in the lower-middle class are simply concerned with making enough money to live a decent life. They are two very different things.

Donald Trump Defeats Clinton, Obama, Media, Pundits And History To Win White House

R Jagannathan 
November 09, 2016, 
Source Link

Donald Trump is the next President of the world’s oldest democracy.

The US has elected the first man who has never held public office, as its Commander-in-Chief. It has declined to elect its first woman President.

Now that a Donald Trump presidency is a reality from January 2017, it is worth asking what’s in it for America and the world.

The Outsider has won. The Establishment has lost. The “deplorables” of the United States of America under the wayward leadership of Donald Trump, the renegade Republican who was disowned by many in his party, is the next President of the world’s oldest democracy.

With nearly all US media houses calling it for Trump, pending any last minute miracle, it is now safe to say that the US has just elected the first man who has never held public office as its Commander-in-Chief. It has declined to elect its first woman President.

Trump not only defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but the entire Left-Liberal media, the pollsters, a White House determined to stop him (from President Obama to his wife Michelle and Vice-President Joe Biden), Wall Street, Hollywood, the Democratic Billionaire’s Club, the Republican aristocracy and assorted critics from all over the world, especially Europe.

But it was not Trump alone who did it. This vote has come from below, largely from the frustration of the white male voter who has been alienated from the elite. The white voter believes that party elites – both Democrat and Republican – have focused more on the minorities and the super-rich, leaving them high and dry. More important, Clinton’s expected women vote did not materialise. Not surprising, though, in hindsight. If the rust belt is angry, it hardly follows that the women of that belt will be unsympathetic to what their men care about.

*** Media in Hybrid Warfare

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
09 Nov , 2016

This is not only about the hullabaloo on the one-day ban on NDTV India and people shouting from rooftops about ‘freedom of speech’. To the irony of the country, similar minute by minute coverage went on for 60 hours during the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, to the joy of both the terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan; coverage including the photo-op of the then Home Minister how many NSG he was dispatching ex Delhi, when they would reach Mumbai, location and movement of our troops around the buildings occupied by terrorists, visuals of NSG boys slithering down helicopters and every other possible detail. It would be height of naivety to deflect this to mere hunger for TRPs. Little wonder then that Hafiz Saeed recently lauded select media of India so lovingly.

What we see in India is diagrammatically opposite to how China is securing itself not only against hacking and terrorism, but also hybrid warfare in which all type of media (electronic, print, social) and cyberspace play major role…

Certainly we are not China but the holy cows chanting ‘freedom of speech’ might get high voltage shocks discovering the new cyber security law China has recently adopted against growing threat of hackers and terrorists – a law that that may even require foreign companies to hand over intellectual property to help security agencies in return for market access. China considered this law necessary despite China’s Great Firewall and indigenous operating systems. Critical information infrastructure operators would be required to store personal information and important business data in China and provide unspecified “technical support” to security agencies, in addition to the requirement of passing national security reviews.

** Some Good News from the Border Front

By Claude Arpi
09 Nov , 2016

C-17 lands in Manchuka

First the Indian Air Force successfully carried out a test landing and take-off of C-17 Globemaster-III at Mechuka’s Advanced Landing Ground (ALG).

A couple of years ago, I visited Mechuka which is strategically located in Arunachal Pradesh just 29 km from the border. (See The last village in ‘our’ Arunachal)

After the upgradation of Mechuka’s ALG, the giant Boeing C-17 could land. It should eventually ensure transport of men and material in the remote border village of West Siang district of Arunachal, which was invaded by the Chinese in 1962.

Let us not forget that Dibrugarh the nearest air/rail head is located some 500 km away (practically 2 days drive).

India Today reported: “The aircraft was received by the Detachment Commander Fight Lieutenant S. Dixit on its maiden landing in Mechuka. The aircrew who, were part of this historic landing, included Group Capt TR Ravi, Wing Commander P Sisodia, Wing Commander AK Patnaik, MWO Tripathi and WO Nirana Ram. In the event of a disaster in the region, C-17 operations to the remote ALG can enhance the speed and quantum of national relief effort.”

This is a great step for the defence of the border in Arunachal and for the welfare of the local population.

The other good news

** The ‘how’ of transformation

By Michael Bucy, Adrian Finlayson, Greg Kelly, and Chris Moye 

In the consumer sector and in many other industries, transformation programs often fail. Creating a “performance infrastructure” can help ensure that yours won’t. 

Disruptive forces abound in today’s business environment. Technological innovation, regulatory changes, pressure from activist investors, and new entrants are just some of the forces causing disruption, even in historically less volatile business sectors. It’s therefore no surprise that many consumer-goods and retail companies are embarking on transformation efforts, sometimes in response to outside pressure and other times to get ahead of it. Regardless of why, these companies are introducing new ways of working to large numbers of employees, with the goal of producing a step-change, sustainable boost in business results.

However, the painful reality is that most transformations fail. Research shows that 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals. Common pitfalls include a lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor or nonexistent cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability. Furthermore, sustaining a transformation’s impact typically requires a major reset in mind-sets and behaviors—something that few leaders know how to achieve.

As practitioners in Recovery & Transformation Services (RTS), a McKinsey unit focused on supporting turnarounds and transformations across industries worldwide, we’ve observed that the most difficult part of transforming performance isn’t determining what to do but rather how to do it. In this article, we discuss an often overlooked component of the “how” of transformation: the establishment of a performance infrastructure, made up of the people, processes, and tools that enable successful execution and sustainability of results.
A holistic approach to performance improvement

** Under the Din of the Presidential Race Lies a Once and Future Threat: Cyberwarfare

NOV. 6, 2016

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The 2016 presidential race will be remembered for many ugly moments, but the most lasting historical marker may be one that neither voters nor American intelligence agencies saw coming: It is the first time that a foreign power has unleashed cyberweapons to disrupt, or perhaps influence, a United States election.

And there is a foreboding sense that, in elections to come, there is no turning back.

The steady drumbeat of allegations of Russian troublemaking — leaks from stolen emails and probes of election-system defenses — has continued through the campaign’s last days. These intrusions, current and former administration officials agree, will embolden other American adversaries, which have been given a vivid demonstration that, when used with some subtlety, their growing digital arsenals can be particularly damaging in the frenzy of a democratic election.

“Most of the biggest stories of this election cycle have had a cybercomponent to them — or the use of information warfare techniques that the Russians, in particular, honed over decades,” said David Rothkopf, the chief executive and editor of Foreign Policy, who has written two histories of the National Security Council. “From stolen emails, to WikiLeaks, to the hacking of the N.S.A.’s tools, and even the debate about how much of this the Russians are responsible for, it’s dominated in a way that we haven’t seen in any prior election.”

The magnitude of this shift has gone largely unrecognized in the cacophony of a campaign dominated by charges of groping and pay-for-play access. Yet the lessons have ranged from the intensely personal to the geostrategic.

The latest news and analysis of the candidates and issues shaping the presidential race. 

* Sino-Pak Collaboration – Military Aviation

By Air Marshal Anil Chopra
08 Nov , 2016

Sino-Pakistan ties create the threat of a potential two-front war. India thus needs to relook at its force structure. The PLAAF is the world’s second largest Air Force, with 2,500-plus aircraft. The PLAAF has been under aggressive modernisation. Combined with 450 aircraft of the PLA Navy, and the soon-to-be inducted state-of-the art aircraft carriers, makes it a great air power for the IAF to contend with. The IAF is down to 34 squadrons and reportedly at the bottom of the numbers curve.

China considers its close relations with Pakistan as a countermeasure against the rapidly developing close relations between the US and India…

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s very high profile fourth visit to USA in June 2016 brought the two largest democracies closer than ever before. Convergence of global strategic interests and US support to India for membership of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has been the lynchpin of the evolving relationship. End of the Cold War, by the early 1990s and the rise of China realigned the power centres. The international desire for dominance has now shifted to competing interests between the US and China. The Asia-Pacific region became the centre of global attention. Japan, Australia and India among many others are considered possible US allies to contain/compete with a rising China.

For a few decades, China had been working towards dominating Asia. It considered India a regional competitor and therefore, tried to befriend India’s neighbours to encircle it and keep it ‘Head-Down’. One key element in the Dragon’s game-plan, often termed as the ‘String of Pearls’ strategy, was Pakistan. China used Pakistan’s strategic insecurities to offer military and economic support. Hidden behind this was China’s own desire to find shorter logistic routes to the oil-rich Middle East and the still waiting-to-be-exploited markets of Africa. China’s strategy has been unequivocal. In return for economic support, military hardware and know-how, Pakistan ceded to China, 5,180 sq. km. of territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in the Karakoram.

How Successful Is Modi In Combating Corruption? – OpEd

NOVEMBER 8, 2016

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that his government has brought back Rs. One lakh crore of black money . It is reported that this, Rs. 36000 cr. was by preventing the siphoning of funds by the intermediaries, by the introduction of direct benefit transfer scheme. The other Rs. 65000 cr. of black money was by launching tax amnesty scheme and other measures.

The Prime Minister has further said in his inimitable style that this has been done “without launching surgical strikes”.

While the Prime Minister makes such claims, the common man still feels that there is no visible and effective fight against corruption in the country, as there is no visible reduction in the level of corruption at various levels in the government machinery , amidst the business houses and even educational institutions and hospitals.
Mr. Modi’s promise on corruption

Mr. Modi was voted to power as Prime Minister of India largely on the expectation that he would fulfill his promise to root out corruption in the country at all levels within a stipulated period. The fact is that this has not been done it yet ,though he is making efforts in variety of ways. It does not look that corruption in India would be rooted any time sooner.

One cannot see any fear of law generated amongst the government employees and business houses and even among educational institutions and hospitals about indulging in corruption and tax evasion.

How to be a world leader - Coming out of the doldrums

Writing on the wall: Ashok V. Desai 

The world has two big poor countries: China and India. Since World War II, they have had rulers focused on putting poverty behind and making their countries prosperous. Till the 1980s, neither had found the key to growth: China went through a long, painful ideological war; India's ambitious government had poor mastery of economics and kicked the economy into one crisis after another. When I was taken into that government in the early 1990s, I thought that the controls on India's external economic relations had to be removed if we were to avoid crises. That happened to some extent over the next few years. The economy was opened up, and we have not had an external crisis since 1991; even if the government tried today, it could not have one. But I was removed soon, and those who then ran the government did not find the key to steady, rapid growth. As a result, China grew enormously faster than India. In 1989, India's per capita income was $1100 and China's $900 at the same prices; India was 22 per cent richer. In 2015, the figures were $6265 and $13801; China was two-and-a-quarter times as rich as India. It saddened me, but at least I was relieved that I had no responsibility for our miserable performance.

Denis Medvedev was the World Bank's India economist for three years; he went back recently to become a lead economist in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship unit of the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice. As a farewell gesture, he and his colleagues did a report claiming that it was now South Asia's turn to lead global growth, and proposing policies that would turn it into the next export powerhouse. It is a long time since someone had the vision and the insight to propose something ambitious for India. Medvedev's team covered South Asia; here I will confine myself to India.

Have the Western Powers Decided to give up Afghanistan to the Taliban?

By EN Rammohan
08 Nov , 2016

I have been following the situation in Afghanistan for the last many years and I have written papers on the developing situation in Afghanistan from time to time. For the last few years, I had an uneasy feeling that the Western powers were going to concede the ground situation in Afghanistan to the Taliban. This feeling was confirmed after the surprise attack on Kunduz by the Taliban a year ago, when they overran the town. I think, that was a turning point, when the local people, who did not want an extremist group like the Taliban ruling them, lost confidence that the government could protect them.

Pakistan’s role in the Afghan Insurgency.

It is not that the West has reduced the aid to the Afghan Government. The Afghan Government has received one of the highest amounts of foreign assistance per capita on a par with the West Bank, Gaza and Liberia. The United States alone has spent five hundred billion dollars on its Afghanistan mission since 2002, most of it on military operations. About a fifth of this amount — one hundred and thirteen million dollars was on reconstruction. Yet, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world — more than ten million people live below the poverty line and three quarters of the population is illiterate, according to the World Bank.

In the beginning when operations started against the Taliban and the Al Qaeda, they fled in disarray. Thousands of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters surrendered in Northern Afghanistan. They had lost the support of the local population. All of them fled to Pakistan and there, they were allowed to regroup and the Pakistan Army trained the young Afghan men, in how to make pressure cooker bombs, filled with ball bearings and suicide belts and later truck bombs and sent them back to Afghanistan by the hundreds.

Despite years of denial by Pakistan, it is now widely understood that the Taliban has all this time been mentored and equipped by the Pakistan ISI. Yet the United States has failed to end Pakistan’s long flirtation with the Taliban and the Al Qaeda. Nearly a quarter of Afghanistan’s districts are under the control of the Taliban. Pakistan’s powerful army and Intelligence services have for years given support to the Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network and relied on them to protect Pakistani interests in Afghanistan and prevent India from increasing its influence there.

Pakistan’s Military Containment an Inescapable Indian Imperative

By Dr Subhash Kapila
09 Nov , 2016

Pakistan’s military containment becomes an inescapable Indian security imperative in 2016. Despite, contemporary geopolitics heavily loaded against Pakistan, surge in Pakistan’s India-centric military confrontation is visible.

Pakistan should have been militarily contained decades back but then successive Indian Prime Ministers from Nehru to even present PM Modi until recently, adopted flawed policy of ‘Engagement with Pakistan’ through direct unilateral initiatives, Track II dialogues and Special Envoys.

Pakistan’s unrestrained conflict escalation with India has not matched India’s efforts for peace and reconciliation with Pakistan for the last seven decades. Geopolitically the time is now ripe for India to shed its enfeebling policy of ‘Strategic Restraint’ and ‘Risk Aversion’ when it comes to taming Pakistan’s strategic delinquencies arising from borrowed external strengths.

All along, Indian National Security Advisers have viewed the Pakistan Army challenge to India in political terms and not in stark military perspectives. There are no political options to tame the Pakistan Army. This has distorted the pace of India’s war preparedness and creation of appropriate military force structures.

Pakistan’s India-centric military confrontation during decades under United States strategic tutelage had a somewhat strong temperance factor imposed by America. The picture drastically changed since 2010 when Pakistan emerged as ‘Front Line State of China’ while still lingering with a double-timing of the United States. China cannot be expected to impose temperance on Pakistan when both have an anti-India strategic convergence.

Pentagon Assessment That Taliban Control Only 2% of Afghan Districts Is Not Correct, Report

Bill Roggio
November 2, 2016

Analysis: US military assessment of Taliban control of Afghan districts is flawed

The US military says that the Taliban “influences” at least 25 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts and controls only 8 more. The numbers are at odds with an assessment by The Long War Journal of Taliban control in Afghanistan. The US military’s estimate does not explain how the Taliban is able to support multiple concurrent offensives across the country and threaten five provincial capitals.

The US military’s estimate of Taliban control and influence of Afghan districts was reported by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, in its quarterly report to Congress that was released on Oct. 30. The data are current as of Aug. 28, 2016.

“[O]f the 407 districts within the 34 provinces, 258 districts were under government control (88 districts) or influence (170), 33 districts (in 16 provinces) were under insurgent control (8) or influence (25), and 116 districts were ‘contested,’ SIGAR noted, based on discussions with US Forces-Afghanistan, or USFOR-A.

Can America Remain a Pacific Power?

November 07, 2016

This article was created in collaboration with the Wilson Center. Shihoko Goto is the senior associate for Northeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Michael Kugelman is the senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Wilson Center. The views expressed here are the authors' own.

Through his tough talk and shrill rhetoric, the president of the Philippines is giving voice to deep concerns quietly harbored by other leaders in the Asia-Pacific.

Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ shoot-from-the-hip president, has generated headlines for his withering and often profane anti-American views. He routinely insults the United States, and in recent days has suggested that such strident sentiment could translate to policy shifts. 

On Oct. 21, Duterte, speaking in Beijing, threatened his country’s “separation” from its long-standing alliance with the United States (a threat he later walked back somewhat). Then, on Oct. 26, this time speaking in Tokyo, Duterte called on U.S. troops to withdraw from his country within the next two years. Such a move would jeopardize a bilateral mutual defense treaty that is a cornerstone of the U.S. defense umbrella in Asia.

Coming from a leader in a region where the United States enjoys more friends than foes, this is all quite unsettling.

Yet Duterte is not necessarily an anomaly. 

Arson and Vandalism Rattle Hindu Communities in Bangladesh

NOV. 6, 2016

Protesters in Bangladesh during a rally against recent communal violence in the country, in Dhaka, the capital, last week. CreditA.M. Ahad/Associated Press

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Vandalism and arson directed at Hindu temples and homes continued over the weekend in Bangladesh, as crowds in various parts of the Muslim-majority country appeared to target its largest religious minority group.

Many of the acts were minor. Late Saturday or early Sunday, for instance, Hindu idols were defaced in temples in the north and south of the country, according to the police.

But Hindu communities are increasingly unnerved, said Anjan Kumar Deb, the vice chairman of Nasirnagar subdistrict, northeast of Dhaka, the capital, where an angry Muslim crowd ransacked 15 temples and scores of homes on Oct. 30.

Fifty-three people have been arrested in connection with those crimes.

India expressed “grave concern” over the attacks, with Sushma Swaraj, the external affairs minister, instructing Delhi’s ambassador to the country to visit the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina.

The violence in Nasirnagar, whose population is about 40 percent Hindu, was set off by a Facebook post published by a Hindu youth. The post included an image of the Hindu god Shiva appearing at a Muslim holy site in the Saudi city of Mecca.

Mr. Deb, a Hindu community leader, received a call on Saturday that unknown people had built a fire on the veranda of his home. “The attackers want to create a panic among Hindus,” Mr. Deb said, adding that the campaigns may aim to strip Hindus of their lands.