10 December 2017

Are Turkey and Europe seeking a new kind of relationship?

Turkey’s EU membership bid has reached an impasse, but cooperation between Ankara and Brussels continues in key areas of mutual interest.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hold a news conference at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, July 25, 2017. 

Turkey-EU ties are currently marked by mutual resentments and appear to be going nowhere. In a sign of the times, Brussels is withholding 175 million euros ($206 million) in pre-accession funds for Turkey, which on paper remains a candidate for EU membership.

Ankara, however, continues to defiantly say it doesn’t need EU money or membership. It is, nevertheless, trying to develop ties with individual EU members, which seems to represent a search for another kind of relationship with Europe.

The Hwasong-15: The Anatomy of North Korea's New ICBM

By Ankit Panda

On November 29, at 2:47 a.m. local time, North Korea carried out the first-ever launch of what is to date its largest and most powerful ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15. The launch ended a more than two-month pause in North Korean ballistic missile testing and refocused attention on the country’s rapid advances in ballistic missile technology in 2017.

Designated the KN22 by the U.S. intelligence community, the Hwasong-15 is North Korea’s second-ever liquid-fueled intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) design to see flight testing. Prior to its November 29 launch, the missile had never been seen publicly.

How to win the Long War

Summary: Yesterday’s post explained why our Long War has produced so few gains at such a high cost in money and blood. It did not explain why our military — led by the best-educated officers in history — repeats the tactics that have failed in so many similar wars? This leads to a second question: after that problem is fixed, how do we win the Long War? Winning the Long War requires answers to both questions.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

The most plausible reason for our failure to learn, as so many have explained since 9/11, is that the leaders of our national security apparatus run it for the money. They run wars to keep the funds flowing and build the power of the Deep State. Victory is nice but optional. “War is the health of the state.“ That is as true today as when Randolph Bourne wrote those words in 1918.

Pentagon Building Wish List for New Technology Spending

SIMI VALLEY, CALIF. — The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer is drafting a list of desired technologies as part of a new effort to coordinate the Defense Department’s research and development, including at U.S. laboratories and government-funded research centers.

“We think that we have to make choices and focus in a limited number of areas and put our funding on it,” Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual gathering of defense industry and government leaders here.

The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower

Spurred by the digital revolution and pressured by Western moral standards about protecting innocent life, advances in battlefield technology have fundamentally changed the way we fight wars. Armies can now use pinpointed weapons to minimize civilian casualties. They can fire missiles at a single apartment in a crowded building, can identify the car of a terror cell leader and monitor it until it passes into an isolated area and be destroyed with a drone, and can use cyber tools to remotely disable weapons systems without ever dropping a bomb.

Okay, Say Someone Hacks into the USPower Grid. Then What?


A joint research project between the Department of Energy and a geographic analytics company is mapping just how far the repercussions could spread.

“On a scale of 1 to 10,” the threat of a cyber attack on U.S.critical infrastructure is “a 7 or an 8,” the Department of Homeland Security warned lawmakers last week. And indeed, someone has been probing the defenses of utilities, key manufacturers, and others. So what happens if hackers launch a network attack that, say, causes a rolling blackout in the Midwest?

How far will it spread, and what about the second-tier effects? What happens to regional chemical manufacturers or nuclear power plants? How long until municipal utilities cannot provide potable water? What would all this do to hospitals, local businesses, and communities?

Outing Spooks: “Doxing” in the Cyber-Hack Era


Revealing the identities of intelligence officials – a practice known as doxing – could become more common among nation-states, directed in particular at the clandestine cyber-spies who operate overseas. Doing so undermines an unspoken norm of confidentiality among even adversarial intelligence services – where they allow each other to operate intelligence networks in their country, within limits. It also opens individuals and their families up to violent acts by non-state actors such as terrorists and criminal groups as well as retribution by on-looking governments. 

Spies have long relied on a level of anonymity or cover to operate effectively and safely in foreign lands under the watchful eyes of host-nation counterintelligence units and paranoid terrorist and criminal organizations. Should their identities become known, their country could face political blowback and they themselves could be confronted with prison or even violence. 


Ron Deibert

THROUGHOUT 2016 AND 2017, individuals in Canada, United States, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, and numerous other countries began to receive suspicious emails. It wasn’t just common spam. These people were chosen.

The emails were specifically designed to entice each individual to click a malicious link. Had the targets done so, their internet connections would have been hijacked and surreptitiously directed to servers laden with malware designed by a surveillance company in Israel. The spies who contracted the Israeli company’s services would have been able to monitor everything those targets did on their devices, including remotely activating the camera and microphone.

Americans Voice Support For Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs), regardless of the content that is delivered or who it was created by.

The new proposal, named the Restoring Internet Freedom order, would no longer classify ISPs as public utilities but rather as information services, meaning that telecommunication companies such as Comcast or Verizon would be legally allowed to create so-called fast lanes for content by providers that either pay for preferential treatment or that the ISP itself has a financial stake in, such as Comcast has in NBC Universal.

While the FCC argues that scrapping net neutrality rules would boost investments and innovation by limiting government regulation, advocates of net neutrality argue that the concept creates a level playing field for content providers and fear that getting rid of net neutrality would stifle competition and further increase concentration in the online media landscape.

9 December 2017

India’s 'Carrier Killer': The Air-Launched BrahMos Missile

By Dinakar Peri

Last week, a modified Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet took off from Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal and fired a BrahMos supersonic, nuclear-capable cruise missile at a target ship in the Bay of Bengal. Flying over a distance of 260 kilometers, the missile effectively destroyed the vessel. This test is a game changer for Indian offensive prowess in the Indian Ocean region as the missile will act as a potent aircraft carrier killer due to its speed, range, and launch platform.



From reminiscing on his relationship with India, to highlighting how the American national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key aboard a ship built in India, to expanding on the vision for an Indo-Pacific order driven by the U.S.-India partnership, there was no dearth of optimism in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent speech highlighting Washington’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. No potential area of cooperation between New Delhi and Washington was missed:

America Can't Win the Drug War in Afghanistan

Ted Galen Carpenter

As if the United States needed more evidence that its sixteen-year mission in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility, a new United Nations report provides an additional reason for depression. The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, released on November 15, confirms that Washington’s effort to curb illicit narcotics trafficking in the country has failed.

Almost every aspect of the report contains bad news. Overall opium production reached nine thousand metric tons, compared to 4,800 tons in 2016. That was a record level since the UN began keeping statistics on the product in 1994. Some 328,000 hectares were used to grow poppy (the source of opium), an increase of nearly 50 percent from the previous record set in 2014. Poppy cultivation also spread to provinces that were previously free of such cultivation. That development means that twenty-four of the country’s thirty-four provinces now are directly involved in illicit drug production. Despite a 14 percent drop in price per unit, the overall value of the crop increased by 55 percent because of the sheer overall volume. An evaluation of the UN report from the Afghan Analysis Network aptly concluded that opium is “a low-risk crop in a high-risk environment.”



Geopolitical rivalry between big powers sometimes yields odd results. The latest development in growing strategic competition across the Indian Ocean region is India’s purchase of what has become known as the “world’s emptiest international airport” in Sri Lanka, maybe just to keep it empty.
Hambantota Dreaming

The small fishing town of Hambantota, near the southern tip of Sri Lanka, has long been Exhibit A for those who worry about the strategic impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Hambantota burst into international consciousness around a decade ago when Chinese companies were contracted to build a big new port, an international airport and, of course, an international cricket stadium – all connected by Chinese-built multi-lane freeways.

U.S. Third Offset Has Profound Implications for Indo-Pacific

America’s military-technological advantage, an aspect of its strategic power since the end of the Cold War, is eroding. In response, the Pentagon launched the third offset strategy in 2014—a department-wide effort to find new ways, both technological and institutional, to leap ahead of its competitors. In a new report for the United States Studies Centre, I argue that for the U.S. the third offset is partly an answer to matching its stagnating defence budget with its strategic ambitions.

Chinese Newspaper Publishes Nuclear Attack Survival Guide

By Charlotte Gao
Source Link

On December 6, Jilin Daily, the official state-run newspaper of China’s Jilin province, near the border with North Korea, published a page of articles discussing how to protect against injury in the case of a nuclear attack.The full-page nuclear attack survival guide — which included information on nuclear weapons, protective measures, and the difference between various disasters — was published one week after North Korea launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile on November 29. The article immediately alarmed the Chinese public as well as foreign media, as the public couldn’t help worrying about the subtext behind the newspaper giving the advice at such a sensitive time.

China’s actions risk creating a coalition of democratic powers

Brahma Chellaney

The United States, Japan, India and Australia have renewed efforts toward a strategic constellation of democracies in the Indo-Pacific region, with their diplomatic officials meeting jointly on the sidelines of the recent East Asia Summit in Manila. The future of this currently low-key quadrilateral initiative (or “quad”) will be shaped largely by China’s actions, which are acting as a spur to establish what Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once called a “democratic security diamond.” If China moderates its behavior by respecting international law, the quad is unlikely to gain traction. But if Beijing continues to flout established rules and norms on territorial, maritime and trade issues, the apparition of what it sees as an “Asian NATO” might eventually come true.

Don’t listen to the calls for more killing in the WOT

Larry Kummer,

As Trump and his general-dominated foreign policy team expand and intensify our wars, the calls for more killing rise again. As in an article in the respected journal of the Navy Institute. We should just say no. “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

No said by Einstein but by Alcoholics Anonymous, people who know everything about dysfunctionality.

In Proceedings of the US Naval Institute, December 2017.

By Lieutenant Colonel David G. Bolgiano — a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division who served in Operation Desert Storm and as Command Judge Advocate for Special Operations Command Central in Iraq and Afghanistan, and

U.S. officials warn of ISIS' new caliphate: cyberspace

Doina Chiacu

The collapse of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate has not diminished the militant group’s ability to inspire attacks on Western targets via the internet, U.S. national security officials told senators on Wednesday. the Sunni Muslim extremist group has been building its external operations over the past two years and has claimed or been linked to at least 20 attacks against Western interests since January, said Lora Shiao, acting director of intelligence at the National Counterterrorism Center. “Unfortunately, we don’t see ISIS’ loss of territory translating into a corresponding reduction in its inability to inspire attacks,” she told a U.S. Senate committee.

US Must Bolster Its Presence In MidEast As ISIS Falls


The last ISIS-occupied towns in Syria and Iraq fell recently, but not to the U.S.-led coalition. While the United States and its allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of Kurds and Sunni Arabs were liberating Raqqa, the Syrian regime and its backers launched an ambitious cross-country offensive into the neighboring resource-rich province of Deir ez Zour.  Assad’s ground troops included Iranian, Hezbollah, Iraqi and other Shia forces – reportedly under the direct command of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force – backed by Russian air power. Even before Raqqa officially fell, Soleimani and the SDF were racing each other through Deir ez Zour province, that last ISIS holdout and the final missing piece of Iran’s envisioned land bridge connecting Tehran directly to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The One North Korea Threat The World Has Forgotten About

Dave Majumdar

North Korean intelligence apparatus is one of Pyongyang’s strong suites. Indeed, Pyongyang’s security services have demonstrated their ability to strike far from home as was shown during the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam—elder half-brother to the North Korean despot—in Malaysia. The Kim regime’s intelligence apparatus is ruthless and effective and could be used to good effect during any conflict on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea maintains an extensive intelligence collection and security apparatus—as might be expected of a totalitarian regime such as the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The Death of the INF Treaty Could Signal a U.S.-Russia Missile Race

Steven Pifer

The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty marks its thirtieth anniversary on December 8. That could be one of its last. Russia has violated the treaty by deploying a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile. Congress has set the Department of Defense on a course to follow suit. Meanwhile, the silence of U.S. allies in Europe and Asia abets the agreement’s demise.The end of the INF Treaty will make the world less safe. Can the Trump administration and U.S. allies preserve it?

What Will Happen if the FCC Abandons Net Neutrality?

Few issues in the technology world elicit such passionate — and at times angry — reactions as network neutrality, or the idea that internet traffic must be treated reasonably equally. Death threats, racist slurs, protests and millions of emails have descended on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as consumer groups, activists and tech companiesmobilized the public to stop the agency from purportedly “destroying the internet as we know it.”

Why Syria Could Become the Black Hole of the Middle East

Daniel R. DePetris

Last week, representatives of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and members of the Syrian opposition met for the eighth time in Geneva for what UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura billed as the best opportunity the parties have had to discuss a political transition for the country. Unfortunately, there is very little—if anything—to talk about; both sides remain so attached to their absolutist demands and negotiating positions that even mild compromise on Syria’s political future is beyond reach.

Struggle Over Scripture: Charting the Rift Between Islamist Extremism and Mainstream Islam

There must be greater consensus among policymakers and thought leaders that the battle against the extremism of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda is not against Islam, but against a perversion of the religion. Concerns about Islamist extremism are growing both in the West and in Muslim-majority countries as it continues to kill tens of thousands each year around the globe. Yet there is a deficiency in evidence-based research into how the supremacist ideology that drives this violence warps mainstream religious principles. There must be greater consensus among policymakers and thought leaders that the battle against the extremism of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda is not against Islam, but rather against a perversion of the religion. This report aims to clarify the nature of that perversion, to enable a religiously grounded response to Islamist extremism, in both its violent and its nonviolent forms.

Army launches direct commissioning program for civilian cybersecurity experts

The Army has approved a program to recruit experienced cybersecurity experts directly into the service as cyber officers in an attempt to bolster a growing field that military leaders see as vital to national security. U.S. Army Cyber Command will directly commission five civilians in the coming months, aiming to bring its first batch of officers into military training by February, said Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the Army’s Cyber Command chief. The pilot program, approved by the Pentagon and Congress, seeks to bring in five new officers each year for five years.

RBI reiterates warnings about trading in Bitcoins

The price of a single Bitcoin, which is not regulated by any monetary authority, skyrocketed to up to $11,000 last week. "Huge volatility in the value of VCs has been noticed in the recent past. Thus, the users are exposed to potential losses on account of such volatility in value," the had RBI said. Citing its earlier warnings on the subject, the central bank said, "in the wake of significant spurt in the valuation of many VCs and rapid growth in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), RBI reiterates the concerns".

US Must Rethink Space Policy In Face Of Enormous Change


In the vast swirling enterprise of global security space, the United States must come to terms with the tectonic shifts occurring as commercial companies come to dominate launch, the building of satellites and the sensors and software on which they depend, and figure out how to lead the way. That’s the conclusion of what may become a touchstone study by two of the brightest lights in national security space, Jim Vedda and Pete Hays. Vedda is a space strategist with the Aerospace Corporation and Hays works with the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. They surveyed more than 30 experts on major areas of concern within the U.S. space enterprise to help leaven the study’s guidance.

The Next Revolution In Military Affairs: Multi-Domain Command and Control

A Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) is a theory about the evolution of warfare over time. An RMA is based on the marriage of new technologies with organizational reforms and innovative concepts of operations. The result is often characterized as a new way of warfare. There have been a number of RMAs just in the past century.

An example of an RMA is the mechanization of warfare that began in World War I with the introduction of military airpower, aircraft carriers, submarines and armored fighting vehicles. Out of these advances in technology came independent air forces, strategic bombardment and large-scale amphibious operations. Another occurred with the invention of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles leading to the creation of new organizations such as the now-defunct Strategic Air Command and new concepts such as deterrence. In the 1970s, the advent of information technologies and high-performance computing led to an ongoing RMA based largely on improved intelligence and precision strike weapons. The 1991 Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 are considered to be quintessential examples of this RMA.



It is 2024. During the Russian presidential election, Russian-nationalist proxies attack Latvian forces with surplus equipment from the conflict in Ukraine. NATO responds, preventing nuclear escalation and blocking larger Russian conventional involvement through a combination of military and diplomatic threats, while U.S. airborne forces deploy to reinforce a NATO battlegroup outside of Riga. Artillery units deploy swarms of munitions, cheap hunter-killer drones that act as armed scouts using machine-learning to find, fix, and finish targets. Soldiers with occupational specialties that did not exist just several years ago take the field — like maintainers who fabricate their own drone repair parts with 3D printers and data technicians who help optimize predictive algorithms, integrating intelligence data with open-source information. These technologies are available today, but the U.S. Army has trouble reaching them, owing to a broken modernization enterprise.

8 December 2017

America Can't Win the Drug War in Afghanistan

Ted Galen Carpenter
Source Link

As if the United States needed more evidence that its sixteen-year mission in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility, a new United Nations report provides an additional reason for depression. The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, released on November 15, confirms that Washington’s effort to curb illicit narcotics trafficking in the country has failed.

The Achilles Heel of China's Air Force

By Robert Farley

The Achilles Heel of China’s Air Force (PLAAF) has long been its lack of practical experience, both in combat and in deployments distant from Chinese borders. For the time being, a concentration on regional defense has served the PLAAF well. But as China’s interests and responsibilities grow, the air force may need to spin up the capabilities necessary to send its people and aircraft far away, for a long time.

The Coming Conflict Between China and Japan

By Jacob L. Shapiro
Source Link

It is easy to forget that as recently as the 19th century, China and Japan were provincial backwaters. So self-absorbed and technologically primitive were East Asia’s great powers that German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, “The extensive tract of eastern Asia is severed from the process of general historical development.” His description seems laughable today. China and Japan are now the second- and third-largest economies in the world. Japan’s failed quest for regional domination during World War II and its subsequent economic reconstruction profoundly affected the world. China’s unification under communism and its pursuit of regional power in the past decade have been no less significant.

The Achilles Heel of China's Air Force

By Robert Farley

The Achilles Heel of China’s Air Force (PLAAF) has long been its lack of practical experience, both in combat and in deployments distant from Chinese borders. For the time being, a concentration on regional defense has served the PLAAF well. But as China’s interests and responsibilities grow, the air force may need to spin up the capabilities necessary to send its people and aircraft far away, for a long time.

Saleh and the War in Yemen

By Anthony Cordesman

Few are likely to mourn the assassination of Yemen's former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh. His rule over Yemen presided over decades of failure to deal with his country's desperate levels of poverty and its steadily growing problems with overpopulation, a lack of water, and a dependence on Qat—a drug so unrewarding that the only country that would import it was the even poorer nation of Somalia.

North Korea boats off Japan spark spy scare; but some suspect just luckless fishermen

An increasing number of fishing boats from North Korea has been appearing off Japan - some in distress, some abandoned and some with dead bodies on board - raising fears about infiltration by spies as tension with North Korea surges. The coastguard has beefed up patrols in response to the boats - including one labeled military property - just off the coast, or even grounded on Japanese beaches. The coastguard and analysts of North Korea have played down the fears, attributing the surge in boats to more mundane reasons, such as a North Korean drive to increase winter fish catches.

But the worries persist.

How to Save Trump's State Department

Ronald Neumann
Source Link

For ten months the State Department has been nearly immobilized between staffing cuts that are shredding its expertise and a reform process that has put lives and decisions on hold for almost a quarter of the administration’s term while it seeks to discover some holy grail of reform. Most press discussion has focused on what is happening at the moment, little has been on what reform might mean for the departement. Yet multiple studies of departmental reform already exist with common elements that suggest both the broad lines that reform should take and the fact that it could be managed without the agony of the current process.

Pentagon Acknowledges 2,000 Troops in Syria

The Pentagon on Wednesday acknowledged that 2,000 American troops are on the ground in Syria, the first time the military has admitted that it deployed well more than the Obama-era limit of 503 troops. And it was recently even higher: The new number reflects the withdrawal of 400 Marines who had been providing artillery support to U.S.-backed Syrian rebels. The issue of just how many American troops are quietly deployed to conflict areas around the world has taken on a fresh urgency after the October ambush of U.S. forces in Niger that left four soldiers dead. Before the firefight, there had been no public acknowledgement that there were were 800 U.S. troops in the country, part of a growing U.S. presence battling Islamic extremists in Africa.

Trump Just Sabotaged His Own Peace Process

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as a prelude to moving the U.S. Embassy there, has thrown a wrench into an already moribund peace process and could well mean the end of U.S. efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. Despite near-unanimous global opposition from Arab, European, and other world leaders, all of whom have cautioned that such a move could have dire consequences, Trump’s decision overturns 70 years of U.S. policy while undermining the basic international norms that have undergirded the peace process for decades. The Palestinian leadership has condemned the move, which it said effectively disqualifies the United States from serving as peace broker, and warned it would throw an already volatile region into chaos.

Why America Must Learn to Live with North Korea's Nukes

Yu-Hua Chen

President Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping announced in a November 9 joint press conference at Beijing that “the U.S. and China both agreed not to replicate failed approaches of the past.” A week later, Xi sent Song Tao to North Korea on his behalf, but Kim Jong-un seemed to refuse to meet with the Chinese president’s special envoy. On the day Song returned to China, the United States redesignated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. In response, North Korea tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile. Such a development makes some people start to wonder: would the United States ultimately initiate a war against North Korea to remove its nuclear weapons? Or would China fully suspend its financial, energy and food support to North Korea to pressure North Korea to give up the weapons? In the end, would North Korea be denuclearized by either or both of the efforts of these two countries? The situation of the first North Korean nuclear crisis in 1993–1994 could provide some thought for the answer. Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is probably “no,” and the world may need to accept a nuclearized North Korea as it has been.

Is America Headed toward War with North Korea?

After the 2016 election, President Barack Obama told President-elect Donald Trump that North Korea would be his biggest foreign policy challenge. The warning has proved prescient. Though Trump, as a candidate and president, has been more open than many top U.S. politicians to direct talks with the North Korean leadership, he has also ratcheted up the personal invective against leader Kim Jong-un to unprecedented levels, most notably calling him “Rocket Man” on the floor of the UN General Assembly.

The Global Oil War Rages On With OPEC Cut Deal Extension

By Catherine Putz

Last week, OPEC and non-OPEC major oil producers agreed to extend production cuts that have prompted the recovery in oil prices through the end of 2018. With the cuts in place, oil prices have risen to above $60 per barrel from early 2016’s low of below $30. But as oil prices rise, market watchers are concerned that U.S. shale production will again hit a stride capable of knocking the entire Saudi Arabian-led market off kilter.

Countering Russian Information Operations in the Age of Social Media

Russia's information warfare operations, aimed to weaken adversaries' social cohesion and political systems, are complex and adaptive, but Western governments can take steps to guard against them. A Russian flag and a 3-D model of the Facebook logo is seen through a cutout of the Twitter logo in this photo illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on May 22, 2015. Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Vladimir Putin Isn’t as Russian as He Seems

Source Link

At a recent event, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell asked a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin: Is Putin better understood as product of a long history of Russian leaders, Morell asked, or is he something new on the Russian stage? It’s a good question. To what extent can we explain Putin’s motives and actions based on his unique personality? And how much of his behavior should we ascribe to cultural and historical patterns of past Russian tsars and Soviet leaders?

How “Cyber” Sidelined “Development” at the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference

Samantha Dickinson

Cybersecurity has made the World Telecommunication Development Conference another political battleground for digital policy, threatening to sideline the very real problems that developing countries need to solve. Every four years or so, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) holds the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC), and this year’s conference was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. You would be forgiven for thinking that discussing information and communication technologies (ICTs) and how they can contribute to social and economic development would be relatively uncontroversial. However, contentious issues like cybersecurity have made WTDC another political battleground for digital policy, threatening to sideline the very real problems that developing countries need to solve. 



I was largely disappointed in Cyber Command’s effectiveness against ISIS. It never really produced any effective cyber weapons or techniques. When CYBERCOM did produce something useful, the intelligence community tended to delay or try to prevent its use, claiming cyber operations would hinder intelligence collection. This would be understandable if we had been getting a steady stream of actionable intel, but we weren’t. The State Department, for its part, was unable to cut through the thicket of diplomatic issues involved in working through the host of foreign services that constitute the Internet. In short, none of our agencies showed very well in the cyber fight.

How to Save (Or Destroy) the Royal Navy

James Holmes

Talk about role reversal. A long century ago, starting in 1909, Great Britain entreated its Pacific dominions—Canada, New Zealand, Australia—to construct “fleet units” to supplement a Royal Navy that confronted multiple challengers in multiple theaters. A fleet unit was a modular task force composed of a cruiser and its coterie of destroyers. Naval potentates such as Adm. Jacky Fisher expected each dominion to construct and maintain one. It would serve as the national navy while doubling as a module in an imperial navy. In peacetime each fleet unit could perform routine functions on its own, acting as a standalone armada. Or dominion navies could merge into a grand Pacific fleet alongside Royal Navy forces when storm clouds gathered. Having massed for action, the imperial fleet would face down some predator—presumably the Imperial Japanese Navy, a force casting covetous eyes on maritime Asia.

Deja Vu All Over Again: US Military Toying With the Already Tried-and-Failed Idea of Setting Up Another Pro-Afghan Government Militia to Fight Taliban

Suzanne Schmeidl

For long-time observers of Afghanistan, déjà vu happens with such frequency that one feels trapped in a never-ending farcical nightmare. This is why news of a mid-September visit to India by a joint US-Afghan military delegation to see whether the model of the Indian Territorial Army could work in Afghanistan was met with horror and disbelief. Surely standing up yet another militia was not being seriously considered? Afghanistan already has, and has had, several versions of such a force to support the struggling Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), among them the Afghan Local Police created in 2010 by US Special Forces after toying with several prototypes since 2005, and the more recent ‘National Uprising Groups’ set up in 2015 by Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security (NDS). The mandate of the proposed new force seems identical to these groups: to provide security in areas where the ANSF has not managed to do so.

Why the AK-47 is the World's Most Feared Firearm (75 Million Guns in Nearly 100 Nations)

Blake Franko

The AK first saw widespread military use in Vietnam. American soldiers saw its effectiveness firsthand, as farmers armed with the rifle proved a tenacious foe. Washington would take this experience to heart and go on to design the AR-15 (what would become the M-16) with such lessons in mind. In doing so, the United States ended up arming its troops with a rifle that was lighter and capable of suppressing fire as well. In effect, America was saying goodbye to large-caliber rifles like the M-14 as standard infantry rifles, moving closer to the Soviet model. The reach of the AK and weapons inspired by it would go on to provide the fuel for much of the violent encounters of the Cold War.

The Army's plan to stop soldiers from staring at their tablets

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The tablets, known as Nett Warrior systems, often provide the location of friendly forces and other mapping data. Now that information is being moved to a heads up display available with a soldier’s helmet. This would allow soldiers to look forward and on alert as opposed to focusing, head down, on a tablet. What the Army wants to prevent is what is sometimes pejoratively termed the “Nett Warrior stare.”. “Anytime you’ve got a potential shooter looking down, when he’s looking down he’s not lethal,” Lt. Col. Ray Gary, Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate military deputy, said during a visit to its Fort Belvoir facility.

The US Army Knows It’s Vulnerable to Space Attack. Here’s What They Want to Do About It


The Pentagon is well aware that its modern way of war is vulnerable to disruption, thanks to its reliance on satellites for communications, navigation, and timing. This has led the Army to reintroduced training with paper maps, and the Navy to break out its sextants. (Even Russian forces reportedly practiced map-based land navigation during the large-scale Zapad-17 exercise that simulated a full-scale conflict with the West.) But the U.S. military’s efforts to harden itself against space-based disruption hardly end with folded-up charts, said Col. Rick Zellmann, the commander of the U.S. Army’s 1st Space Brigade.

7 December 2017

Andaman and Nicobar: Vital Islands, Vanishing Tribes

By Sudha Ramachandran

India’s plans for “development” on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are threatening the survival of the archipelago’s already endangered indigenous populations. One of the projects that has been approved for implementation in the archipelago is a railway line linking Port Blair, the capital of the island chain, with Diglipur, the largest town on North Andaman Island. The 240-kilometer-long railway line will cut through a protected forest reserve where the native Jarawa live. This would increase the exposure of the Jarawa to outsiders – mainly non-tribal settlers and tourists – and impact their culture, health, and way of life, even their survival as a group.

Digital China: Powering the economy to global competitiveness

By Jonathan Woetzel, Jeongmin Seong, Kevin Wei Wang, James Manyika, Michael Chui, and Wendy Wong

China, already a global force in digital technologies, is set to experience huge shifts in revenue and profits as businesses digitize, boosting the economy’s international competitiveness. China has become a force to be reckoned with in digital technologies at home and around the world. As a major worldwide investor in digital technologies and one of the world’s leading adopters of the technologies, it is already shaping the global digital landscape and supporting and inspiring entrepreneurship far beyond its own borders.