29 March 2018

US Army’s Futures Command sets groundwork for battlefield transformation

By: Jen Judson  

WASHINGTON — It’s the beginning of a new era in Army acquisition in which soldiers might not have to wait 10 years or longer to see a new weapon or capability in the field, but instead could get modern, new systems in their hands within just a few short years. That’s at least what service leaders tasked to come up with new road maps for the Army’s top modernization priorities are thinking is possible. The newly vigorous pace is fueled by the frustration created by years of painful acquisition blunders, sluggish bureaucratic processes and wasted dollars, all on top of the fact that near-peer adversaries like Russia haven’t waited to develop weapons systems that would create serious dilemmas for the U.S. Army and its Middle East-tuned equipment if it had to face off in a conflict.

Army, Struggling to Get Technology in Soldiers’ Hands, Tries the Unconventional

By HELENE COOPER

WASHINGTON — The platoon of Army Special Operations soldiers was on a routine night patrol in eastern Afghanistan when one of them suddenly opened fire on what looked to the others to be a bush. The bush, it turned out, had been obscuring a militant fighter. He was detectable only to the one platoon member wearing prototype night vision goggles that could detect heat signatures — a happenstance that Army officials say probably saved many lives. That incident took place in 2015. Three years later, soldiers in the field still do not have the new night vision goggles, and that is just one example of a process that can take a decade to get new weapons from the lab to the hands of troops. Worried about that lag, the Army is creating a new and decidedly unconventional department to address it: the Futures Command.

28 March 2018

In a Rare Move, Pakistan Army Chief Likely to Visit the Maldives


The projected visit is being perceived as a ‘political signal’ directed at India.
Devirupa Mitra, 26/MAR/2018

New Delhi: Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa will travel to the Maldives this week, probably making him the highest-ranking foreign visitor to the island nation since President Abdulla Yameen’s announcement of a state of emergency – which was lifted after 45 days on March 22.
According to diplomatic sources, Bajwa will be reaching Malé on March 31 for a short trip. There has, however, not been an official announcement from the Maldives government on the visit.
The Wire contacted Ahmed Mohamad, the Maldives ambassador to India, to get a confirmation. “I am not aware,” he responded.
Sources said that Maldivian leadership had been keen on a visit from the Pakistan army chief “for some time,” but the timing of this proposed trip has raised eyebrows.
The Maldives has just emerged from a 45-day state of emergency, which has seen a further fraying of ties with its largest neighbour, India. There has been public disagreement over the direction of political developments, with the latest being over India’s statement to mark the end of the emergency.

If the trip fructifies, this would be the first visit by Bajwa to the Maldives since his appointment as the Pakistan army chief in November 2016. The last visit by a Pakistani service chief to the Maldives was by the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila in October 2013. He was awarded one of Maldives’s top-ranking honours by the then President Mohamed Waheed Hassan for his role in providing relief during the devastating 2010 Indian Ocean tsunami.
With Pakistani naval ships making regular port visits, the Maldives defence establishment has had comparatively more interaction with the country’s naval forces. In fact, the current Pakistan high commissioner and his predecessor are retired naval officers. In contrast, there have been limited links between the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and the Pakistan army.
In 2016, the Maldives, along with Sri Lanka, took part in the two-week trilateral counter-terror exercise ‘Eagle Dash-1’ in Pakistan.

Tibetan Uprising Day: Why The CIA Aborted Its Mission In Tibet


by Kamalpreet Singh Gill

Behind the Tibetan Uprising and the Dalai Lama’s flight to India lies a Cold War tale of spies, intrigue and a long forgotten CIA mission to foment rebellion in Tibet. On 10 March, Tibetans in exile observe the Tibetan Uprising Day. On this day in 1959, armed Tibetan fighters clashed with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Lhasa in a desperate last ditch attempt to maintain their independence. By the time fighting ended on 21 March 1959, thousands of Tibetans had been massacred by the PLA, and the Dalai Lama was found missing from his residence at the Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Is Abdulla Yameen Handing Over the Maldives to China?

BY ROBERT A. MANNING, BHARATH GOPALASWAMY

Remember the good old days, when China proudly proclaimed the principle of noninterference in other nations’ internal affairs and pledged never to build military bases overseas? That now seems like a long-forgotten past. The current crisis unfolding in the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives is a grim reminder of just how much times have changed: China has emerged in recent years, because of its economic ascent, as a neocolonial practitioner of predatory economics, which is sparking a new Great Game in the Indo-Pacific. In the words of former Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem, “What is happening in the Maldives is not just about democracy, it is about peace, security, and stability in the entire Indian Ocean neighborhood.”

Facebook’s Hate Speech Problem

Chintan Girish Modi

There is a fine line between removing hate speech and protecting free speech. Facebook needs to learn where that boundary lies. Mark Zuckerberg is in the news again. This time he is not receiving an honorary degree from Harvard, selling Free Basics, or donating another chunk of his large fortune towards setting up a charity. Facebook, the company he co-founded, is in troubled waters. The sharp currents are being felt not only in the United States of America, where he lives, but all the way across in India as well.  

Beijing’s Anti-Satellite and Missile Defense Systems: A Threat to Its Neighbors

By Davis Florick

Davis Florick is a James A. Kelly non-resident fellow with the Pacific Forum and a senior fellow with the Human Security Centre. Chinese criticism of United States (US), ally, and partner missile defense investments is highly self-serving and ignores China’s own significant expenditure on missile defense and anti-satellite systems. Particularly over the last decade, Beijing has gone to great lengths to expand and modernize these capabilities. It has been aided by missile defense imports from Moscow, particularly the S-300 and S-400 mobile systems. As the US Department of Defense’s 2015 Report to Congress on Chinese Military Power states, “[China] possesses one of the largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems in the world.” In parallel, China is developing a range of anti-satellite capabilities including ground-launched satellite interceptors. Taken together, China’s missile defense and anti-satellite capabilities are intended to prevent the US, its allies, and partners from responding to Chinese aggression. In response, Washington must enhance its missile systems and complicate China’s ability to degrade US satellite capabilities.

The World Should Take China's War Threats Seriously

Gordon G. Chang

Taiwan’s national-security and counterespionage chief, in a question-and-answer period at the national legislature, this week warned that China might invade the island republic. “Beijing is prepared to retaliate forcibly once senior U.S. officials touch down on the island,” the National Security Bureau’s Director-General Peng Sheng-chu said, referring to visits encouraged by the Taiwan Travel Act, which recently became U.S. law. Peng’s warning came at about the same time Taiwan’s defense ministry reported that its ships and planes tailed China’s only operational aircraft carrier and its escorts as they transited the Taiwan Strait. The Liaoning group, the ministry announced Wednesday, left Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone on a southwesterly course.

Why America Is So Scared of China’s Biggest Tech Company

By Max Chafkin and Joshua Brustein

U.S. politicians may not be able to pronounce “Huawei,” but they’re convinced it’s a threat to national security. On March 12, fresh off his Twitter proclamation that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” President Trump issued an executive order blocking the biggest tech merger in history. The plan had been for Broadcom Ltd., a Singaporean chipmaker, to acquire San Diego’s Qualcomm Inc., the leading maker of cellphone modems, for $117 billion. Trump said he canceled the deal for fear that Broadcom “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the U.S.”

China is winning because it can fill a 'black hole' that other countries have left behind

TARA FRANCIS CHAN

China's influence operations have flourished because the US, Australia, and other leading nations have left a void that Beijing was easily able to fill, according to a former Australian government adviser. President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative to link 70 countries filled a gap of loans and infrastructure to poorer nations, particularly in Southeast Asia. Hundreds of controversial Confucius Institutes, which are run by the Communist Party, also fill a "black hole" of education on Chinese language and culture that countries failed to provide themselves. The influence of these institutes is so large that US legislators announced this week a draft law to force them to register as foreign agents of the the Chinese government 

More Than A Nuclear Threat: North Korea’s Chemical, Biological, and Conventional Weapons


North Korean development of biological weapons both poses a serious potential threat to the United States and its strategic partners, and illustrates the broader dangers of proliferation. Biological weapons pose dangers that are growing steadily with the proliferation of the civil, dual- use, and military technologies that can be used to develop and manufacture biological weapons – such as genetic engineering and drones. Figures One to Three show that some estimates indicate that Cold War biological weapons could be even more lethal that nuclear weapons, and they have always far cheaper. Such weapons can also substitute for nuclear proliferation. They also do not require and high cost delivery systems like large ballistic missiles that are relatively easy to detect and locate, although they can supplement them. Moreover, they can act as a powerful threat and deterrent on their own, or act as compensation for inferiority in nuclear forces.

Trump announces tariffs on $60bn in Chinese imports


The White House said the actions were necessary to counter unfair competition from China's state-led economy. It said years of talks had failed to produce change. China said it was ready to retaliate with "necessary measures". Beijing also said it would "fight to the end" in any trade war with the US. US stock markets closed lower on Thursday, as investors responded to the announcement. The Dow Jones ended the day at 23,957.89, a fall of 2.9% or 724.42 points - making it the fifth biggest points fall ever.

Nobody Knows Anything About China

BY JAMES PALMER

As a foreigner in China, you get used to hearing the retort “You don’t know China!” spat at you by locals. It’s usually a knee-jerk reaction to some uncomfortable modern issue or in defense of one of the many historical myths children in the mainland are taught as unshakeable facts about the world. But it’s also true. We don’t know China. Nor, however, do the Chinese — not even the government.

Who Will Buy Treasuries If China Does Not? Lots Of People

from Jeff Miller

There are multiple reasons, but the most important is rarely mentioned. Stories ask, “Who Will Buy Our Bonds?" as if China is the only market. The (overly) simple heuristic is a market with a handful of participants. Country A borrows from B. B calls the debt. Party A must now, hat in hand, go to C or D or E to ask for a loan. This analytical error comes when we focus on the result of building and liquidating positions instead of daily market dynamics. What is the correct answer to the “who will buy" question?

One Morning in Baghdad

ANDREW EXUM

One morning in October 2003, I was shaken out of bed by an explosion. I was in Baghdad, leading a platoon of Army Rangers as part of a special operations task force that was hunting down the famous “deck of cards”—the last of the Ba’ath Regime loyalists, and Saddam himself. Because we did all of our work at night, I had only been sleeping for a few hours. When I first felt the explosion, I rolled out of bed, grabbed my M4 carbine, and ran out of the house we were living in on the southern tip of Baghdad’s so-called Green Zone. Improbably, my giant grizzly bear of a platoon sergeant remained asleep, snoring away in the cot next to mine.

At the Pentagon, theories abound as to why H.R. McMaster didn’t get a fourth star

By Jamie Mcintyre,

As the news leaked last week that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster would soon be replaced as President Trump’s national security adviser, speculation swirled about whether the storied military officer would be given a four-star command somewhere, a soft-landing after a hard run at the White House. Instead, the only active-duty service member in the president’s Cabinet is ending his distinguished 34-year Army career with an inglorious firing. “I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service,” McMaster said in a farewell statement released by the White House. So why no fourth star after a stellar career? Theories abound, based on conversations with people at the Pentagon on Friday.

Joseph Stiglitz: The WTO 'is getting hamstrung' by Trump

Nyshka Chandran Martin Soong

The Trump administration's blocking of the appointment of new World Trade Organization judges is worrying, said renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz. The "WTO appellate body is getting hamstrung," he said, referring to the seven-member panel in charge of international disputes. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz sounded a warning on President Donald Trump's resistance to appointing new judges at the World Trade OrganizationPrevious trade skirmishes "were always done in the framework of the WTO, within international rule of law," Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist, told CNBC on Saturday at the China Development Forum in Beijing.

South Korea’s Civilian Vulnerabilities in War

By Anthony Cordesman 


The Broader Range of North Korean Threats 

Any effort to look beyond North Korea’s nuclear threat must address the fact that we live in an age of unconventional and asymmetric warfare, and one in which that warfare may take a political and/or economic form or be prolonged and a war of attrition. It must also consider the grim lessons of recent wars. The cost to civilians may go far beyond the number of dead and wounded from direct military attacks in some relatively brief, intense conflict. It may be economic, it may be the impact of being turned into refugees and displaced persons, and it may be a tremendous loss of national wealth, security, and the services that support modern urban life, education, and health. 

Section 301, Tariffs, and Chinese Trade and Investment


On March 22, the Trump administration released the findings of its Section 301 investigation into China’s practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property (IP), and innovation. Responding to the finding, President Trump directed his administration to take a range of actions including additional tariffs of 25 percent on certain Chinese imports; investment restrictions in key technology sectors; and a new World Trade Organization (WTO) case. Among the critical items still to be decided are the Chinese products that will be subject to additional tariffs, as well as the exact nature of investment restrictions. Although China has already signaled its intention to respond, the exact nature of the retaliation is another key unknown.

Who Will Buy Treasuries If China Does Not? Lots Of People

from Jeff Miller

There are multiple reasons, but the most important is rarely mentioned. Stories ask, “Who Will Buy Our Bonds?" as if China is the only market. The (overly) simple heuristic is a market with a handful of participants. Country A borrows from B. B calls the debt. Party A must now, hat in hand, go to C or D or E to ask for a loan. This analytical error comes when we focus on the result of building and liquidating positions instead of daily market dynamics. What is the correct answer to the “who will buy" question?