18 August 2017

*** The Patterns in Global Terrorism: 1970-2016

By Anthony Cordesman

Terrorism has become one of the dominating national security threats of the 21st century. It is also one of the most complex — mixing the actions of states, extremists, and other non-state actors in a wide range of threats and types of conflicts. Terrorists range from individuals carrying out scattered terrorist acts, to international terrorist networks of non-state actors, to state terrorism including the use of conventional forces and poison gas to terrorize portions of a civil population. Terrorism has also become a key aspect of civil war, insurgency/counterinsurgency, and asymmetric warfare, as well as ideological, ethnic, and religious warfare.

There is no easy way to categorize the resulting patterns of violence, to measure their rise, or to set national security priorities. For more than a decade, the U.S. has focused on the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it has dealt increasingly with the expansion of the threat into North Africa, other parts of the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world. Key warfighting threats like the Islamic State and its affiliates, and the Taliban and Haqqani Network, are only a comparatively small part of the rising threat in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.

** We’re Holding Pyongyang To Account

Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson

The U.S., its allies and the world are united in our pursuit of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

In the past few months, multiple illegal North Korean ballistic-missile and ICBM tests—coupled with the most recent bellicose language from Pyongyang about striking the U.S., Guam, our allies and our interests in the Asia-Pacific region—have escalated tensions between North Korea and America to levels not experienced since the Korean War.

In response, the Trump administration, with the support of the international community, is applying diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a dismantling of the regime’s ballistic-missile programs. We are replacing the failed policy of “strategic patience,” which expedited the North Korean threat, with a new policy of strategic accountability.

The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea. We do not seek an excuse to garrison U.S. troops north of the Demilitarized Zone. We have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, who are distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang.

Pelting of stones by Chinese, Indian troops in Ladakh region surprises officials

Dinakar Peri, Vijaita Singh

One ITBP man sustained head injuries, according to officials who briefed The Hindu about the dramatic standoff that began around 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

While standoffs in the Ladakh region between Indian and Chinese troops are almost routine in the summer months, what surprised officials was the pelting of stones by the two sides on Independence Day.

A day after the incident, the two sides held a flag meeting at the Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point at Chushul in eastern Ladakh.

One ITBP man sustained head injuries, according to officials who briefed The Hindu about the dramatic standoff that began around 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

The pelting of stones took place when the two sides were retreating after a face-off at Finger Four and Finger Five near Pangong Lake on August 15. The standoffs lasted half-an-hour each.

The scuffle at Finger Four took place at 6 a.m., and the one at Finger Five at 7.30 a.m. The two sides took positions and the situation was defused by 9 a.m., officials said.

A top government source said the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh has been deteriorating since April.


Pravin Sawhney

Present stand-off is the result of India's tenuous hold on LAC. Unlike most times, when New Delhi downplayed Chinese transgressions, this time, with Bhutan involved, it is not doing so

As the Doklam crisis between India and Chinaenters its third month, two questions worth deliberation are: What is the future of this crisis/how will it end? How to diffuse future crises?

The good thing about this crisis is that neither side wants war. Both nations want peace to fulfil the grand agenda that each has clearly spelt out: China’s Belt and Road initiative, and India’s Act East policy and Think West policy. Notwithstanding the congruous peaceful upwards trajectory of both nations, if cooperation with strategic mutual trust is still not there, the reasons are not difficult to find. China does not assess India to be its rival in Asia. Instead it sees itself pitted against the United States for supremacy in the Eurasian landmass; and the Western-Pacific and Indian Ocean region. Since China believes that it can shape a unipolar Asia which India contests, geo-strategic rivalry becomes obvious. Matters are accentuated since both leaders have strong nationalistic images at home.

Moreover, China has deftly positioned itself much better — legally and militarily — on the disputed border. From the 1980s when China had offered a give-and-take solution to India to resolve the border dispute, it, today, wants it all. According to China, it now has a 2,000-km long Line of Actual Control [LAC] (as against India’s assertion of 3,488-km) with India, which excludes Ladakh. Moreover, the LAC, which comprises all of Arunachal Pradesh (called south Tibet by China) is claimed by Beijing. This is not all. Chinese President Xi Jinping has spurned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to mutually agree to the LAC alignment so that transgressions would minimise.

A Joint India-Pakistan Initiative on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

By Arka Biswas

Efforts under the international initiative on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (HINW) led to adoption of Resolution L.41 by the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on October 27, 2016 and Resolution 71/258 by the UNGA on December 23, 2016. This Resolution calls for a UN Conference to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”[i]These negotiations have begun. The first substantive session was held from March 27 to 31, 2017; the second is scheduled for June 15 to July 7, 2017 at the UN headquarters in New York.[ii] While India and Pakistan attended all three international conferences on the HINW that preceded this negotiation, neither endorsed the UN Resolution nor are they taking part in the parlays.

India abstained from voting on the Resolution by noting that the Conference on Disarmament, an established UN body, should have the mandate to negotiate a comprehensive instrument on nuclear disarmament. New Delhi also observed that the proposed negotiations for a Treaty banning nuclear weapons would not meet the longstanding expectation of the international community for a comprehensive instrument of nuclear disarmament, especially in the absence of endorsement by nuclear-weapon states. Adding that verification would be a key component of a comprehensive instrument of global nuclear disarmament, New Delhi argued that a Treaty banning nuclear weapons would not address such challenges to nuclear disarmament.[iii]


Ashok K Mehta 

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement in the Rajya Sabha regarding defence preparedness was generic but can be challenged on two counts: Operational readiness and learning lessons 

Unusually, both Prime Minister Narendra Modiand Defence Minister Arun Jaitley conspicuously skipped mentioning China or Pakistan in their traditional independence day speeches. Though speaking in the Rajya Sabha last week, Jaitley was less than accurate when he said that the Armed Forces were “strong enough to meet any challenge to the country’s security”, underlining that lessons have been learnt from the 1962 war. 

The statement is generic but can be challenged on two counts: Operational readiness and learning lessons. Incidentally, both these incomplete missions are for the political leadership to accomplish. Jaitley added that compared to 1962, the Armed Forces were stronger in 1965 and 1971 wars. He forgot to mention that in 1965, India was poised to make strategic gains in Pakistan but had to settle for the British-brokered ceasefire as it had run out of critical ammunition for tanks and artillery. He did not mention Kargil when Army chief, Gen Ved Malik said, “We will fight with what we have”. But for emergency help from South Africa and Israel, Kargil might have gone the other way. 

Brigadier Sher Jung Thapa, MVC - The Hero of Skardu Part 2

By Lt Gen H S Panag

Brigadier Sher Jung Thapa is that hero of Skardu who fought to prevent Pakistani forces from reaching Kargil and Leh.

By mid-November 1947, the Gilgit Scouts assisted by the Muslim troops of 6 Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Infantry, originally based at Bunji, had secured the entire Gilgit Agency. Sardar Mohammad Alam flew into Gilgit from Peshawar to take over its administration on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. Soon Pakistan Army officers arrived to coordinate further operations towards Skardu-Kargil-Leh and Dras. Local militias were raised to operate alongside the Gilgit Scouts. The onset of winter prevented any major operations towards Leh, Kargil and Dras, but Skardu at an altitude of 7000-8000 feet, was a low-hanging fruit, blocking the track to Kargil and Leh.

By early February, all the preparations had been made. Major Ehsan Khan and Captain Muhammad Khan (deserters of 6 J&K Infantry) and Lieutenant Baber Khan (erstwhile Subedar Major of Gilgit Scouts), mustered a mix force - Ibex Force of 600 (as per Pakistani accounts - 400) personnel which included elements of Gilgit Scouts, Chitral Scouts, deserters of the 6 J&K Infantry and local militia. With complete secrecy they marched up the Indus River and on the night of February 9/10, attacked the covering force positioned at Tsari as described in the previous column. The Muslim platoon on the right bank under Capt Nek Alam was won over and the Sikh platoon on the left bank of the river under Captain Kishan Singh was attacked. Surprise was total and the platoon was annihilated. There were only a few survivors including Capt Kishan Singh who were taken prisoner and killed in cold blood by their former comrades of 6 J&K Infantry. As mentioned earlier, there were no radio communications and none of the survivors made it back to Skardu, leaving the garrison oblivious of the happenings at Tsari. The attacking force then advanced to Skardu 32 km away. The Skardu Garrison had 40 Sikh and 31 Muslim soldiers. The first batch reinforcements -100 soldiers - under Captain Prabhat Singh had providentially arrived late on February 10 and were given a well-deserved rest after the arduous journey. The defences were in the form of a semi-circle with a radius of 1.5 km with the base resting on the Fort and the Garrison Barracks.

India Races to Revamp its Economy and Military


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well known for his massive Twitter following – roughly 32 million – and obsessionwith taking selfies at every occasion. But it was his promise to bring the economic success and clean governance of his home state of Gujarat to the rest of India that fueled Modi’s rise to power in 2014.

This Gujarat model is the driving force behind “Modinomics,” which focuses on rooting out corruption in the government and society, slashing the regulation and red tape that strangles foreign direct investment, and kick-starting Indian manufacturing through the “Make in India” program. In November of last year, the Modi government proved just how committed it was to pursuing radical reform when it suddenly removed two of the largest currency denominations from circulation in an effort to hamstring the black economy.

So far, these efforts have met with some success. The Indian economy has been growing at an annual rate of seven percent, the government has made real progress in slashing the fiscal deficit, and Modi has launched a military reform and modernization program that is boosting spending and bolstering the domestic defense industry. However, behind these successes lie a system still riddled with corruption and inefficiency. As he works through his third year in office and faces down China in a border standoff along the Himalayas, can Modi invigorate the nascent economic and military power of India?

Plan to Privatize U.S. War in Afghanistan Gets Icy Reception

Blackwater founder Erik Prince's controversial proposal to privatize a large portion of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is being met with growing opposition in Kabul and Washington.

President Donald Trump is reportedly considering the proposal as part of his monthslong review of the war in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is locked in a stalemate with the Taliban after 16 years of fighting.

Prince touts the plan as a cost-effective way to turn the war around. Under the proposal, about 5,000 contractors would replace U.S. troops currently advising Afghan forces. They'd be backed by a 90-plane private air force. The contractors would operate under Afghan control, Prince said.

"This is very much under the authority of the central government and the control of the chief of staff of the Afghan armed forces. This is not a local militia that's going to be raised," Prince said in an interview with VOA's Afghan service.


But a growing number of prominent Afghans fear that Prince's for-profit, private military would be unaccountable and say the move risks a repeat of the atrocities carried out by Blackwater guards in Iraq and Afghanistan during the 2000s.

Dereliction of Duty II: The Afghanistan Years – The Cipher Brief

There has been a lot of writing lately on Afghanistan as the new administration struggles with what do to there, just as the previous administration struggled mightily to define both the mission and the end game. In the absence of any good ideas, or any solutions, the last administration tragically kicked the can down the road for eight years, pursuing the status quo of a policy pretty much everyone knows has failed.

Obama’s advisors told him he faced two broad choices: 1) stay the course, which would cost $50 billion a year and probably continue to go sideways, or 2) pull out of Afghanistan and see it almost immediately dissolve into a problematic festering petri dish of terrorists, like the disaster which is Iraq and Syria. Unfortunately, many of President Trump’s current advisors are the same unimaginative military guys who have been suggesting the status quo for 16 years.

The bottom line is that there are no easy choices in Afghanistan.

There are no silver bullets but to keep kicking the can down the road, spending about $50 billion a year on the effort and accomplishing little to nothing, cannot be high on President Trump’s list of things he wants to do. The President is desperately looking for some alternatives and his military-centric cabinet seems incapable of coming up with anything other than to keep doing the same thing and to maybe surge another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. Really? 4,000 more troops are going to turn this around? The “troop surge” is a common military strategy when things are going bad, but it’s not too creative.

Is the Afghanistan Debate the Beginning of the End for U.S. Counterinsurgency?

Washington remains consumed by America’s long military involvement in Afghanistan. Many policy experts, members of Congress and government officials favor continuing the existing approach, while others—including President Donald Trump himself—are unconvinced. Whichever side prevails this time, one thing is certain: This is not an isolated debate. Rather, it is the beginning of a deeper reconsideration of the role that counterinsurgency should play in U.S. security strategy.

The United States first took on counterinsurgency, known by its military acronym COIN, in the 1960s out of fear that the Soviet Union was exploiting nationalist and leftist insurgencies to weaken the West. The U.S. military, along with other agencies, eventually developed elaborate counterinsurgency doctrine. After Vietnam, though, this hard-won knowledge was largely forgotten, only to be rediscovered in the 1980s as insurgencies threatened pro-U.S. governments in places like El Salvador. But after the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the U.S. military and the rest of the government lost all interest in counterinsurgency.

After the 9/11 attacks made Americans aware of the threat from al-Qaida and the transnational Islamist extremist network it led, counterinsurgency once again assumed a central role in American security strategy. As the United States became involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military and other government agencies developed new counterinsurgency doctrine and policies. But their thinking never strayed far from Cold War ideas. The process was more about refining old concepts than creating new ones. There was never a broad assessment of whether the precepts of counterinsurgency created to fight 20th-century rural insurgents remained valid in the very different security environment of the 21st century, or whether counterinsurgency should even be a component of American strategy. This oversight, as is now becoming clear, was a problem…


Claude Arpi

1890 Treaty: Beijing’s trick of yesterday and todayThe Chinese trick of hammering the 1890 Convention is very old. But it is mistaken. Beijing cannot justify ‘fixing' the tri-junction by quoting this ‘unequal' Treaty, when nobody knew where this place ‘Gipmochi' was

Two months into the confrontation with China near the tri-junction in between Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan, the time has come to look at the lessons New Delhi can learn from the stand-off which may continue for several months. There is no doubt that India has won a battle; there will be no Chinese road on the ridge and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may never be able to peep over into the Siliguri corridor.

Indeed, why should India back out from a legally and militarily strong position? Some in Beijing have started admitting the same, though the Government continues to shout that China’s territory has been invaded. Beijing’s violent reaction is due to internal factors such as the 90th anniversary of the PLA and the forthcoming change of leadership in the Communist Party of China (CPC).

One battle has, however, been lost by New Delhi — it has been unable to explain to the public some historical facts. The lack of a historical division in the Ministry of External Affairs has particularly ill-served India, letting Beijing have a field day. New Delhi did not point out to the Indian (and foreign) media, the Chinese trick about the 1890 Convention (known as the Convention of March 17, 1890, between Great Britain and China, relating to Sikkim and Tibet).

How ISIS harnesses commercial tech to run its global terrorist network

By: Mark Pomerleau 

When it comes to the cyber operations of the Islamic State group and other militant organizations, they have been aspirational in terms of discussing cyber activities almost from the start.

Most cyber operations by the Islamic State group and other militant organizations have been on a fairly low level and merely aspirational, according to the deputy director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.

John Mulligan was giving a keynote address at the DoDIIS Worldwide Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on Tuesday.

From a practical standpoint, cyber activity to date has been largely confined to doxing, where groups such as ISIS find available information and generate kill lists related to security or military personnel, then encouraging others to conduct attacks against those individuals, Mulligan said. This is done through some low-level hacking and the exploitation of low-hanging fruit.

The U.S. government has seen some low-level defacement of websites, he added, but nothing particularly substantial.

Hamas, ISIS and the Law of Armed Conflict

By Richard Natonski 

In an era of drones and precision munitions, our understanding of modern warfare is increasingly divorced from the reality of those waging it. War is still a brutal endeavor, requiring that our military remains true to our values, even in combat against adversaries shrewdly exploiting those same values to undermine our efforts. It is therefore essential that the public recognizes this phenomenon and how it depends on widespread misperceptions about what the law actually prohibits, and allows, in war.

Today’s conflicts necessitate action in locations crowded with civilians our illicit enemies like ISIS, Hamas, and others deliberately exposed to the mortal dangers of combat. Despite our best efforts to employ force discriminately and proportionally, this means civilians will suffer. But the enemy relies on illicit tactics to play upon misunderstandings of when attacks that place civilians at risk are lawful. This, in turn, allows our adversaries to discredit and potentially disrupt lawful military operations.

Criticism of the IDF’s Gaza campaign exemplified this phenomenon. Our 2014 assessment of that conflict, commissioned by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, highlighted the ironic disparity between the IDF’s commitment to comply with the law of armed conflict (LOAC), and Hamas’ intentional disregard of those obligations to delegitimize the IDF. Ultimately, this helped Hamas advance a broader information campaign by portraying IDF soldiers as callously and illegitimately causing civilian suffering. Today, ISIS is using the same playbook against U.S. and Coalition efforts.

North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say

By William J. Broad, David E. Sanger

North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program, according to an expert analysis being published Monday and classified assessments by American intelligence agencies.

The studies may solve the mystery of how North Korea began succeeding so suddenly after a string of fiery missile failures, some of which may have been caused by American sabotage of its supply chains and cyberattacks on its launches. After those failures, the North changed designs and suppliers in the past two years, according to a new study by Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Such a degree of aid to North Korea from afar would be notable because President Trump has singled out only China as the North’s main source of economic and technological support. He has never blamed Ukraine or Russia, though his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, made an oblique reference to both China and Russia as the nation’s “principal economic enablers” after the North’s most recent ICBM launch last month.

Analysts who studied photographs of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, inspecting the new rocket motors concluded that they derive from designs that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet. The engines were so powerful that a single missile could hurl 10 thermonuclear warheads between continents.

Thucydides Trap or Tug-of-War?

Parag Khanna

Today’s major powers are keenly aware that in tug-of-war, if the rope snaps, both teams stumble and fall; nobody wins.

AFTER STALIN, Churchill and Truman ratified what amounted to a spheres-of-influence deal at Potsdam in 1945, George Orwell was seized with a sense of inevitability about perpetual war between the world’s rival blocs—especially after the testing of atomic weapons. Orwell had already been influenced by James Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution, which appeared in 1941 and posited the development of a world in which three superstates carved up the globe between them. And so Orwell, a keen witness to the homogenizing rigidity of both European colonialism and Soviet communism, depicted all three of the megacontinental superstates in 1984—Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia—as totalitarian regimes.

There is a stunning prescience to the map corresponding to 1984. If we correct for continental Europe not having been conquered by the Soviet Union and cede it to Oceania (America), it accurately depicts the three-pillared Western constellation of North America, South America and the European Union (with London and New York as twin regional capitals). Meanwhile, Russia (Eurasia) retains sway over the “Mongolic” mass of northern Eurasia, while “death-worshipping” Eastasia (China) expands and subsumes Japan, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Orwell’s tableau conforms comfortably to the world neorealists take for granted. It is a multipolar world of perpetual stalemate, with no single power—or even alliance of two against the third—able to dominate the planet.

State Department quietly establishes new cybersecurity office


The State Department quietly established a new office earlier this year within its Diplomatic Security Service to safeguard against and respond to cybersecurity threats.

The State Department officially launched the new office, called the Cyber and Technology Security (CTS) directorate, on May 28, a department official confirmed. The establishment of the directorate was first reportedby Federal News Radio last week. 

The directorate “facilitates the conduct of global diplomacy by protecting life, property, and information with advanced cybersecurity programs and risk-managed technology innovation,” the State official told The Hill. 

“CTS provides advanced cyber threat analysis, incident detection and response, cyber investigative support, and emerging technology solutions,” the official said. 

The new directorate does not appear to have a place on the department’s website and was not accompanied by an official press release at the time of its establishment. 

A government official told Federal News Radio that the new directorate essentially gives the State Department’s chief information officer one point of contact to make sure that embassies, consulates and foreign affairs officers are adequately protecting against cyber threats. 

Is Trump Militarizing U.S.-Africa Policy?

‘The US is waging a massive shadow war in Africa … The war you’ve never heard of,’ the online journal VICE News recently announced. ‘Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time – in Africa alone.’

It was the latest sign of the military’s ‘quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent’, one that represented the ‘most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe’, it said. Donald Bolduc, the US Army general who runs Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA), says Africa’s challenges ‘could create a threat that surpasses the threat that the United States currently faces from conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria’, according to VICE News.

‘He went on to cite a laundry list of challenges with which he and his personnel must contend: ever-expanding illicit networks, terrorist safe havens, attempts to subvert government authority, a steady stream of new recruits and resources,’ says VICE News. ‘At the same time, Bolduc says the U.S. is not at war in Africa. But this assertion is challenged by the ongoing operations aimed at the militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia.’

In Race Between Turkey and the UAE, Somalia Wins

By Stratfor

The base in Somalia will be Turkey's second overseas installation, but it will be focused more on assisting Somalia than demonstrating Turkish military capabilities.

As Turkey expands its geopolitical and economic presence in the Middle East and East Africa, the projection of power through the military will be a key part of this growth.

The development of overseas military capabilities will lead Turkey into competition with other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, that have embarked on a similar path.

With a new military camp in Somalia, Turkey is strengthening its ties to the East African country while extending its reach as a regional power. Turkish forces are expected to get to the installation, which has been under construction for about two years, sometime this month. Their arrival comes soon after the deployment of Turkish forces to a larger base in Qatar. While Ankara has been operating military facilities in northern Iraq, the Qatari and Somali bases are the first of its military installations hosted by allied states. And as Turkey pursues its interests throughout the region, it no doubt will run into like-minded countries, such as the United Arab Emirates.

Unlike the base in Qatar, the facility in Mogadishu will be primarily occupied with military training, and the training of Somali soldiers, in particular. Current plans do not include the deployment of a Turkish contingent capable of conducting military operations. Instead, about 200 Turkish soldiers will train up to 10,000 Somali National Army troops.

A Short History of Biological Warfare: From Pre-History to the 21st Century


This monograph examines the history of biological warfare and related weapons development programs. The three sections of the paper focus on 1) the period between prehistory and 1900, highlighting how resort to biological warfare in this era was rare; 2) the years from 1900 through 1945, which saw the emergence of state biological weapons programs, the most significant use of such weapons and initial international efforts to control them; and 3) biological weapon development during the Cold War and uses of biological agents by state and non-state actors up to the present day.