1 February 2015

Operation Sadbhavna has outlived its utility

Jan 31, 2015

For over 16 years, the Indian Army has conducted Operation Sadbhavna--as part of its WHAM (winning hearts and mind) doctrine--across Jammu and Kashmir spending something close to Rs 300 crore sanctioned by the Defence Ministry on running schools and orphanages, improving the living standard of the locals by constructing roads and bridges, installing hand pumps and electrifying villages and giving them free medical services. Excursion and education tours have also been organised during this period.

The Indian Army's doctrine of sub-conventional warfare released in 2007 in fact envisaged that Operation Sadbhavna would provide the healing touch during conflict and win over the alienated sections of people in the conflict zones.

The projects, according to a study done by a scholar at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) are identified and selected jointly with the state administration and the people at the grass root level. The Army actsq as a facilitator and catalyst and actively assists in planning, provides technical assistance, makes available specialized equipment and supervises it.


By Sameer Patil

In the recent defence technology cooperation deal with the U.S., India has prioritised the private sector over public sector units. If the government and business now work together productively, they can create a much-needed and robust long-term defence industrial base in India.

On January 25, India and the U.S. renewed their bilateral defence pact for 10 more years. The ‘2015 Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship’ strengthens cooperation between the two countries in the areas of defence technology, military exchanges, and counter-terrorism.[1]

For the first time, co-production and co-development are at the core of the defence engagement outlined in the framework, indicating the importance for India of technology transfers and indigenous manufacturing. The agreement makes India part of a group of nations that includes Japan, U.K., and Taiwan, with whom the U.S. cooperates on defence technology.

Specifically, four pathfinder projects for co-production and co-development were identified through the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative of 2012, which serves as the guiding principles for the framework for cooperation. All the projects are experiments in making simpler technologies and easy-to-produce equipment. If successfully executed, they will help India build advanced weapons systems in the future and co-develop other weapons technologies with the U.S.

Winning Hearts or Fighting Terror? Army's Kashmir dilemma

January 30, 2015

'All commanding officers and their superiors are sure to have taken note of the betrayal that killed Colonel Rai. Corrective measures will be taken quickly. And the Indian Army will continue to do its duty without rancour and remorse,' says Nitin A Gokhale.

The martyrdom of Colonel M N Rai, who died in Kashmir in terrorist firing, has once again opened the old debate on how the Indian Army should conduct its counter-insurgency, counter-terrorist operations under the changed circumstances in the border state.

Colonel Rai, a highly effective commanding officer, heading the 42 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, was killed in indiscriminate firing by two terrorists holed up inside a house in a village near Tral in South Kashmir even as he held back launching an operation after villagers requested him to wait for them to surrender.

Friends and relatives of the two local youth, who were hardcore members of a terrorist outfit, told Colonel Rai that they would prevail on the two men to surrender after the CO reached the village with his Quick Reaction Team following an intelligence tip off.

Pakistanis fleeing offensive find new dangers in Afghanistan

Jan. 30, 2015

KHOST, Afghanistan (AP) — Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have sought shelter at a sprawling refugee camp in a volatile region of Afghanistan after crossing the mountainous border to escape a military onslaught against insurgents.

For decades Afghans have fled into Pakistan to escape war and upheaval, but in recent months the tide has reversed, with some 60,000 Pakistanis — more than half of them children — taking refuge in the Gulan camp, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the border in the restive Khost province.

"We knew the military operations would last a long time once they started," said Malik Omardin, a tribal elder who came from the Pakistani town of Datta Khel. "It's a mountainous area and the insurgents are very strong on their own territory, so the government will have a hard time finding and destroying the Taliban."

More than 210,000 Pakistanis have crossed into Afghanistan from the neighboring North Waziristan province since the Pakistani military launched a long-awaited offensive in June against Taliban and other foreign militants, who have long used the lawless tribal region as a launch-pad for attacks in both countries.

Is China Moving to Control the Indian Ocean?

By Shannon Tiezzi
January 31, 2015

Your Friday China reading:

Two fascinating pieces on China’s military strategy emerged this week. First, Abhijit Singh takes up the question of China’s naval ambitions in the Indian Ocean as part of the PacNet series hosted by CSIS. Singh points to China’s recent naval deployments in Sri Lanka as “evidence that Beijing has its sights set on dominating the Indian Ocean.” Particularly worrisome for Singh is the fact that China’s submarine did not dock with the Sri Lanka Port Authority in Colombo, but chose instead to dock “at the Colombo South Container Terminal (CSCT), a deep-water facility built, controlled and run by a Chinese company.” That and other dockings at the Chinese-built port, Singh explains, have strengthened “Indian suspicions that PLA-N assets are being allowed privileged access to Sri Lankan ports funded by Chinese investments.” Given China’s major push to invest in ports throughout Southeast and South Asia (and even Africa) as part of its Maritime Silk Road, the question of how (if at all) the PLA Navy plans to use these assets will only gain in importance.

Second, writing for Washington Quarterly, M. Taylor Fravel and Christopher P. Twomey take aim at “the myth of Chinese counter-intervention.” Anyone who follows U.S. military strategy has likely heard it said that the Chinese military employs a strategy of “counter-intervention,” seeking to prevent foreign military forces (read: the U.S.) from being able to interfere in a conflict close to China’s territory. Thus, U.S. strategic planning has focused on countering counter-intervention. As Fravel and Twomey note, U.S. analysts almost invariably attribute the emphasis on counter-intervention to Chinese strategists – but that assumption is not borne out by actual Chinese sources. Thus, the authors argue, the focus on counter-intervention “sustains a flawed assessment of China’s military modernization, mistaking an operational concept for a military strategy or even a grand strategy aimed at pushing the United States out of the Asian littoral.”

Why Read Xi Jinping’s Book?

By Yang Hengjun
January 31, 2015

Whether you agree with Xi or not, reading his book is the best way to understand what’s next for China.
China’s Internet tsar, Lu Wei, recently visited the office of Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. Lu found the The Governance of China, a collection of speeches by Xi Jinping, on Zuckerberg’s desk, which caused great debate at home and abroad when a photograph of the meeting was made public. Overseas media, of course, mostly mocked Zuckerberg for “pandering” to China, and even some Chinese people remain unimpressed.

Shortly before this incident, I posted photos on my microblog showing that I bought this book in Nanchang and was reading it during my travels. Those photos also attracted sarcastic remarks from netizens. A friend asked me, why are you reading Xi Jinping’s book?

In November, in a strange coincidence, I happened to have separate opportunities to give a lecture before cadres from a Chinese government department and to meet with a group of foreign scholars to talk about China’s diplomacy. During both meetings, I asked the attendees the same question: “Have you read Xi Jinping’sThe Governance of China? Because in a moment I’d like to talk about this book.”

China’s Lawful Position on the South China Sea

By Greg Austin
January 31, 2015

Researchers at a key government-funded institute in China appear to have contradicted their director to lay out a moderate, or at least undecided, position for China on the so-called nine-dash line in a recent edition of Eurasia Review. This line, which was first drawn by the Nationalist government of China before 1949, appears to demarcate the entire South China Sea as subject to China’s jurisdiction — beyond the normal provisions of international law. The article appeared several months after President Xi ordered PLA hawks back into line in late September 2014 on three sets of issues: the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the India China border.

At the official level, China has not helped its case by refusing for almost seven decades to be totally clear on what maritime jurisdiction it is claiming with its nine-dash line. This has prompted anxieties and diplomatic ructions, culminating in a formal Philippines challenge to China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration on January 22, 2013. The Office of the Geographer in the U.S. Department of State also took up the issue in a December 2014 study, “China: Maritime Claims in the South China Sea”, in its long standing series, Limits in the Seas.

The new article from China, in fact just a short op-ed, was authored by Ye Qiang and Jiang Zongqiang, who are research fellows at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in China. They say that China wants no more rights than are accorded it under the Law of the Sea Convention as well as customary international law. They say that the government is still “evaluating whether or not to exercise each specific right, and the scope of the rights as well as the manner to exercise. The piece argues, “These are the reasons why China has not yet clarified the title of rights within the ‘dash-line.’”

Graft Busters Take Aim at China's Military

By Shannon Tiezzi
January 31, 2015

China’s Minister of National Defense held its first press conference of 2015 on Thursday. Aside from a brief detour to talk about Chinese naval deployments in the Indian Ocean (which my colleague Franz covered earlier today), the bulk of the questions and answers focused on a very different theme: corruption. Defense ministry spokesman Col. Yang Yujun fielded three separate questions on anti-corruption efforts within the PLA, giving lengthy responses each time.

PLA corruption has been an issue of pressing concern for some time now, but especially since Xi Jinping assumed power. Xi has identified corruption in general as an existential threat to the Chinese Communist Party, but military corruption is a threat not only to the CCP but to the country as a whole. As General Liu Yuan put it in an April 2012 speech, “no country can defeat China … only our own corruption can destroy us and cause our armed forces to be defeated without fighting.” For this reason, as I’ve argued previously, anti-corruption within the PLA is an important (but often overlooked) aspect of China’s military modernization drive.

The anti-corruption drive within the PLA has already claimed two high-profile “tigers”: General Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and General Gu Junshan, a former deputy chief of the PLA General Logistics Department. As Zi Yang noted back in November 2014, however, in general, the anti-corruption drive was not moving forward as vigorously within military ranks as it was within the civilian realm.

China's Navy to Send More Ships to the Indian Ocean

January 31, 2015

During a press conference on January 29, a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND), announced that China will step up its deployment of a range of warships in the Indian Ocean. IHS Jane’s reports that Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, after being asked a question on PLAN submarine movements in the Indian Ocean, tried to downplay Chinese naval activities in the region, characterizing them as “normal” and emphasizing that “there is no need to read too much into them.”

“[T]he Chinese military has sent various kinds of naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast to conduct escort missions since 2008. And in the process, we have notified relevant countries of the escort missions of the PLA naval ships, including the PLA naval submarines,” Yang said in his remarks. “In the future, the Chinese military will send different kinds of naval ships to take part in the naval escort missions in accordance with the situation and the requirement to fulfill the task.”

The presence of Chinese submarine forces in the ocean has the other great regional power, India, worried. Indian military officers have stated that the deployment of nuclear subs would cross a redline and trigger a naval arms race.

Destination Beijing: India to Test 'China-Killer' Nuke Missile

January 30, 2015

India is readying the first canister test of its so-called “China killer” long-range ballistic missile.

This week the New Indian Express reported that on Saturday the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO), India’s top defense technology agency, will conduct the first canister test of its Agni-V at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) on Wheeler Island.

According to the newspaper, over three hundred scientists from various government agencies are currently preparing for the test. The report said that “During the test, Agni-V will be fired from a sealed canister mounted on a launcher truck. With a dummy payload, the missile will be pushed out of the canister by a gas generator after which the actual stage separations will occur as per the coordination.” 

The test has been postponed twice since December owing to President Obama’s India trip and a scheduling conflict with Prime Minister Modi, who had expressed interest in watching the test in person. It’s unclear if Modi will attend the test on Saturday, however, the test is expected to proceed as scheduled in honor of outgoing DRDO chief Avinash Chander, who is widely regarded as the architect of the Agni missile class. Chander was fired earlier this month over scandals regarding Indian defense contracts.

Are Israel and Hezbollah About to Go to War?

Paul R. Pillar
January 30, 2015

An exchange of lethal attacks during the past fortnight between Israel and Hezbollah has raised the risk that escalation of fighting between these old antagonists might be added to the intractable mess that Syria already is. Israel and Hezbollah have a long history of tit-for-tat reprisals, with the most conspicuous examples involving Hezbollah titting in response to Israeli tatting. The two major car bomb attacks by Hezbollah in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s, for example, were each a direct response to deadly actions that Israel had taken back in the Middle East a month or six weeks earlier. The bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992 followed an Israeli airstrike that killed Hezbollah leader Abbas Moussawi and his five-year-old son. The attack in 1994 on a Jewish community center—recently back in the news as the Argentine government tries to dance around the mysterious death of a prosecutor who had been investigating how the original investigation of the attack had been handled—was a response to two Israeli actions in rapid succession. One was Israel's kidnapping of Mustafa Ali Dirani, leader of the Hezbollah-associated Amal movement. The other—possibly facilitated by information the Israelis extracted from Dirani—was an aerial attack on a Hezbollah facility that killed dozens of the group's members.

The pattern resembles some of the tit-for-tat that also has taken place between Israel and Hezbollah's ally Iran. Some not-very-successful attacks against Israeli diplomatic personnel a couple of years ago were clearly intended as retaliation—right down to mimicking the method of attack—for the assassinations of several Iranian scientists.

The Ultimate Nightmare: Why Invading the North Korea Is a Really Bad Idea

Robert E Kelly
January 30, 2015

Thankfully, the general response has been quite negative (here, here and here). Invading North Korea is a terrible idea, and it is worth laying out why in some detail. I do not intend this as a particular shot against Gobry – I do not know him personally – but rather against this general idea, as it does come up now and then.

In 1994, the Clinton Administration came close to launching a massive air campaign against the North (well-discussed here). Then in the first term of President George W Bush, regime change was the watchword and North Korea was on the “axis of evil.” If the Iraq invasion had worked out, it appears other states were on the Bush hit list. Neoconservatives (neocons) love to loathe North Korea.

I should note, however, that in my seven years working in Korea on Korean security issues, I have never heard a reputable Korean analyst argue for preemptive attack in an op-ed, at a conference, on TV, and so on. Nor have any of my hundreds of students over the years argued for this. This is a Western debate that has little resonance with the people who would mostly carry the costs – already a big problem for Gobry's argument.

1. Moral Revulsion Is Not Enough:

Gobry, and President Bush who placed North Korea on the axis of evil, both share an admirably strong moral revulsion towards North Korea which motivates their hawkishness.

Obama and Modi want to sell nuclear power to India that is too dangerous and expensive even for US

Hozefa Merchant, Sunanda Mehta
January 30, 2015 

Only two new nuclear plants are being built in the US and even they are way over budget.
The recent “breakthrough” in the nuclear talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama has raised more questions than answers. The biggest question of them all is the issue of the liability nuclear equipment suppliers will have to face in case of a nuclear disaster. There is word that an insurance pool will be created to indemnify foreign suppliers and cover the liability. So let us look at this issue of the nuclear insurance pool more closely and then examine the nuclear industry in the US.

Last year, before the Russian corporation Rosatom and Nuclear Power Corporation of India finalised the framework agreement for building two additional reactors at Kudankulam, the Department of Atomic Energy claimed that the General Insurance Corporation had offered an insurance package to the Russians. However, a Right to Information application to the GIC revealed that no such offer had been made.

Unidentified officers at the Department of Atomic Energy subsequently told the press that GIC’s initiative had not worked out and that the Finance Ministry had been approached to help with the formation of the nuclear insurance pool. Over the course of over one year, seven RTI applications were filed, three to GIC and four to the Department of Atomic Energy, United India Insurance and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. The replies to each only added to the mystery of the nuclear insurance pool.

Saving Global Order

Kofi A. Annan
JAN 29, 2015

GENEVA – As 2015 begins, the values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are under threat. Around the world, personal liberty, human rights, and democracy are at risk – even in countries that have embraced democratic ideals. The international community is deeply divided, blocking progress on a host of global challenges, ranging from the crises in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine to climate change and international trade.

Three factors – all likely to persist this year – are driving these unsettling trends.

First, globalization may have delivered many benefits, but it has also eroded the capacity of societies to determine their own destinies. Many modern challenges – including tax avoidance, organized crime, cyber insecurity, terrorism, climate change, international migration, and financial flows, both licit and illicit – have one thing in common: the traditional instruments of a sovereign state have become inadequate to manage them.

Second, failed military solutions in Afghanistan and Iraq have played a large role in undermining the international community’s unity, and eroding confidence in intervention in general, even as established powers cut budgets and emerging powers shy away from taking on new responsibilities. In 2014, leaders in my native Africa and elsewhere challenged the objectivity and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court, the creation of which was a major milestone in the struggle to end impunity for national leaders.

Russia, Ukraine, and U.S. Policy Options

By Jeffrey Mankoff, Andrew C. Kuchins
JAN 29, 2015 

Ukraine’s crisis has continued escalating since former president Viktor Yanukovych announced his decision to cancel the planned signing of an association agreement with the European Union in November 2013. Over the subsequent 15 months, what began as a debate over a relatively arcane trade deal descended into revolution, a Russian invasion, and a civil war in eastern Ukraine. Despite wholesale political change in Ukraine, repeated diplomatic initiatives, and billions of dollars in foreign assistance, the crisis shows no signs of ending. The effects of the crisis have also rippled across Europe, and across the Atlantic. Relations between the United States and its European allies on the one hand and Russia on the other have plummeted to levels not seen since the Cold War. 

A Proposal for the FY 2016 Defense Budget

By Diem Nguyen Salmon
January 30, 2015

As a first step toward rebuilding America’s military, Congress should increase the FY 2016 defense budget to $584 billion. Six years of defense cuts, totaling 25 percent reductions in annual spending, have degraded the U.S. military, and it needs to be rebuilt. At the same time, Congress needs to address out-of-control spending, mainly spending on entitlements, which is the real driver of debt. Instead of trying to fix the nation’s fiscal problems on the back of the defense budget, Congress should craft fiscally responsible spending legislation that addresses the growth in entitlement spending, cuts unnecessary non-defense discretionary spending, and increases defense spending.

U.S. foreign and defense policy has reached a critical juncture. In an astonishingly brief period of time, the world—and America’s place in it—has changed dramatically. During this period, presidential elections, the financial crisis, and government shutdown politics largely supplanted overseas engagements and foreign affairs in the minds of the White House and Congress. The swearing-in of a new Congress and a new majority party in the Senate provides an important opportunity to reassess the objectives of U.S. foreign policy and to align other policy priorities accordingly. The U.S. defense budget is the first among the items to reconsider in the context of a changing international landscape. While foreign policy matters cannot simply be solved with more money for defense, little can be expected to change without it.

Consecutive years of across-the-board budget cuts have significantly weakened the U.S. military. The military will likely need several years of reinvestment to return to a sound footing, and a higher defense budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016 would be an encouraging start.


By Dean Baker

A weak trade performance and a sharp reversal in military spending held GDP growth to 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter. This brought the full year growth (Q4 to Q4) to 2.5 percent, a modest slowing from the 3.1 percent rate in 2013. The growth rate of final demand in the fourth quarter was even weaker at 1.6 percent, as inventory accumulations added 0.82 percentage points to growth.

The slowdown in the fourth quarter was predictable as third quarter growth was driven in part by a 16.0 percent jump in military spending. Military spending is highly erratic and sharp swings are usually reversed, as was the case in this quarter. Military spending declined at a 12.5 percent annual rate, subtracting 0.58 percentage points from growth in the quarter. The general path for military spending is likely to be downward in the near future, although not enough to be a major drag on growth.

Other categories of government spending rose modestly in the quarter, with non-military federal spending rising at a 1.7 percent rate and state and local government spending growing at a 1.3 percent rate. We are likely to see continued modest growth in these sectors.

Trade was also a big subtraction from growth, as imports grew much more rapidly than exports. After adding 0.78 percentage points to growth in the third quarter, net exports subtracted 1.02 percentage points from growth in the fourth quarter. Trade is likely to be an ongoing drag to growth in future quarters as the higher dollar makes U.S. goods and services less competitive and austerity policies in Europe continue to depress growth in a major trading partner.


By Seyed Hossein Mousavian

Former deputy head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for foreign policy has recently taken part in a meeting of American elites in the northeastern state of Maine to discuss reasons behind the failure of the United States diplomacy toward Iran during the past 35 years.

The meeting was organized by Mid-Coast Forum on Foreign Relations and was attended by a large group of American elites.

During his speech, Mousavian mentioned the following reasons as the main factors behind the failure of diplomatic efforts taken by Washington to improve ties with Tehran:

1. US strategy of only trusting allies: The basis of the US strategy in the Middle East is the notion that countries in this region are either with the United States or against it. Therefore, any country that is not a US ally, or in better words, is not under the influence of the United States, is considered enemy and should be done away with. The past regime of Iran was an ally of the United States and was toppled through the Islamic Revolution. Since that time, the United States adopted a hostile approach to Iran, which it has continued up to the present time. This strategy has been wrong from the beginning because most regional allies of the United States have been either toppled during the past few years, or their governments are in an unstable and shaky position.

5 Russian Nuclear "Weapons" of War the West Should Fear

Dave Majumdar
January 31, 2015

Modern Russia is not the Soviet Union. While the USSR adhered to a no first use policy for nuclear weapons, modern Russia dropped that pledge in November 1993. In fact, Moscow reserves the right to use its nuclear arsenal during any conflict under a doctrine it paradoxically calls “de-escalation.”

The reason for that is because while the Soviet military was confident it could win a conventional fight against all comers, the modern Russian military is a shambolic mess. While some units are well equipped and well trained, much of the Russia’s conventional forces are composed of poorly trained conscripts using antiquated hardware from the Soviet-era.

Therefore, Russia has to rely on its nuclear forces to offset NATO’s overwhelming conventional military superiority. As such, Russia is investing heavily in modernizing its nuclear forces—strategic and tactical.

Here are five Russian nuclear systems— think not just nuclear weapons but systems that have a “nuclear component”— that pose a threat to the United States.

EU Energy Crisis: Russia Cuts Off Gas Supplies through Ukraine To Six European Countries

Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, according to The Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these “transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine,” Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis “within hours.”

Perhaps explaining the explosion higher in NatGas prices (and oil) today, gas companies in Ukraine confirmed that Russia had cut off supply; and six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas. The EU raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was “completely unacceptable,” but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey; and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated unequivocally, “the decision has been made.”

Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey, a surprise move that the European Union’s energy chief said would hurt its reputation as a supplier.

The decision makes no economic sense, Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president for energy union, told reporters today after talks with Russian government officials and the head of gas exporter, OAO Gazprom, in Moscow.

Gas Pipelines to Europe

Russia's gas giant Gazprom intends to completely abandon gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine after 2018 with the help of a new pipeline to Turkey. Infographics by TASS

ISIS Operative: This Is How We Send Jihadis To Europe

Mike Giglio, Munzer al-Awad
 Jan. 30, 2015

ANTAKYA, Turkey — An ISIS operative traveled across the Syrian border late last year, settled in a Turkish port city, and began work on a mission to sneak jihadis into Europe. It has been successful, he said, in an interview near the Turkey-Syria border: “Just wait.”

The operative, a Syrian in his thirties with a close-cropped black beard, said ISIS is sending covert fighters to Europe — as did two smugglers who said they have helped. He smuggles them from Turkey in small groups, he said, hidden in cargo ships filled with hundreds of refugees. He said the fighters intend to fulfill ISIS’s threat to stage attacks in the West. He views this as retaliation for U.S.-led airstrikes against the group that began in Iraq last summer and Syria last fall. “If someone attacks me,” he said, speaking with BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity, “then for sure I will attack them back.”

The Navy's Newest Linux-Powered Command Center Is Right Out Of Star Trek

Tyler Rogoway

The DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer could very well revolutionize the way the Navy does its surface warfare business. One of its biggest innovations is ditching the cramped, darkly lit Combat Information Center (CIC), a fixture for many decades on past USN combat ships, and replacing it with the state-of-the-art, spacious, Star Trek bridge-like Ship's Mission Center.

What looks like a miniature version of a war room at the Pentagon or a Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) near a combat zone overseas, the DDG-1000's Ship's Mission Center may look like its out of the movie War Games but it works in a similar fashion to the bridge seen on Star Trek The Next Generation.

Gone are the purpose-built heavy consoles used in a ship's dark and cramped Combat Information Centers (CIC), such as those still found today aboard AEGIS combat systemequipped cruisers and destroyers. In their place, the Ship's Mission Center (SMC) will be entirely re-configurable and will feature streamlined consoles and workstations running on an incredibly powerful array of custom-built software and advanced off the shelf hardware.

Dozens of individual three-screen work stations, called Common Display Stations, will fill the majority of the Ship's Mission Center, and much like Captain Picard's chair on his ship, commanding officers will have their Common Display Stations built right into their seats. From the SMC's Common Display Stations, the ship's guns can be fired, its sensors slewed, its missiles launched, its radios controlled and the ship's 'signature' profile can be changed. The DDG-1000 can even be steered from the SMC if need be.

When to Shoot a Nuclear Bomb With Your Gun


The year is 1960 and a congressional delegation is touring military bases in Western Europe to evaluate custody and safety issues associated with U.S. nuclear weapons.

With the delegation is a scientist named Harold Agnew—and he’s not just another congressional staffer. Agnew helped build the world’s first nuclear reactor, served as the official scientific observer during the mission that dropped the Hiroshima bomb and at the time was the science adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe—the military head of NATO.

While at an air base almost certainly located in what was then West Germany, Agnew saw little evidence that nuclear weapons were under strict American control, as Congress expected.

At best there was what he later called a “token custodial arrangement” that he witnessed when he saw nuclear bombs hanging under West German aircraft with only the supervision of a young, lone American G.I. on the flight line.

“What are you going to do if these guys come running out and they’re going take off and no one has told you that it’s all right?” Agnew asked the soldier.

The soldier said he didn’t know what to do.

“What you ought to do is just shoot the bombs,” Agnew told him, counting on the high probability that bullets would disable the weapons. “Shoot those things and don’t worry about it.”

What Do We Do About the Proliferation of Commercial Drones And The Threat They Represent?

Michael S. Schmidt and Michael D. Shear
January 30, 2015

WASHINGTON — As Major League Baseball’s top players took the field at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis in July, a covert radar system scanned the sky above the 40,000-seat stadium for what security experts said was an emerging threat to public safety: drones.

Using finely tuned detection programs brought in by the Department of Homeland Security, “Operation Foul Ball,” as it was known, identified several small, commercial drones flying in the area. Some were similar to the quadcopter that crashed on the White House lawn Monday.

But the drone detection system, which was considered one of the most advanced in the country and cost several hundred thousand dollars to operate for just that night, had no way of actually stopping drones from flying into the stadium. There was even confusion about whether one of the drones belonged to ESPN.

Confronted with the system’s cost and limitations, baseball officials decided not to use it for the postseason. But those officials had no warning before a drone hovered over at least one playoff game.

The National Football League will not say what type of system, if any, it will have in place at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, though the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning this week that anyone flying drones over an N.F.L. game could be “intercepted, detained and interviewed.”

Professional Education and the 21st-Century Military

Dr. Simon Anglim

Education is vital to the 21st century military, and likely to become more so. Whereas training aims at instilling, maintaining and improving skills, and, in the military, preparing personnel physically and psychologically for combat operations, professional education instills knowledge. Not just knowledge for its own sake, either — the aim is not just filling somebody’s brain with facts or figures, but to expand their understanding of the world, how it works and their place in it, with the hope — and often that is all there is — that this will influence the decisions they make when their training is applied in real life. This is why most professions have at least some ethical education as part of their induction process, to get people to think about why they do things beyond just how they do them, and how and why their actions might impact on others.

Samuel Huntington can be disputed on many things, but he is right in arguing that an important component of any profession is awareness that it is a profession, a group with specialist knowledge differentiating it from the rest of society, and that this specialism gives them a duty of service to society as a whole. It is the education they receive, the ‘why’ they are do things, which glues together the different bits of training professionals get into a coherent whole and informs them of their social role and duty.

Yet, a reading of these books shows many still trying to impose the old Maoist model of ‘revolutionary warfare’ on what the Taliban and ISIS are doing…

War and Booze: The Story of Veuve Clicquot, Napoleon, and the First Modern Champagne

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

I came across this fascinating story over the past week and couldn't resist running it down and sharing it with readers (in the same way I did several months back with landpower's role in the Rosetta Stone discovery). Much, much, much, more important, however: my wife is a huge Veuve Clicquot fan and so the truth is this really is just for her. What follows is the story of Madame Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin from Linda Rottenberg's book, Crazy is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags (pages 70-71):

"In 1813, during the Napoleonic Wars, Russia had just invaded France. When Russian troops occupied Riems, soldiers were given free rein to loot and pillage local vineyards, including one run by Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, the young widow of Francois Clicquot.

But Veuve Clicquot, as she was widely known (verve in French is for "widow"), was a cunning adversary, who also happened to have a sharp business mind. Born to prominent parents, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin had married the heir to the House of Clicquot. He died six years later, leaving the twenty-seven-year-old novice in charge of the family business, including banking, wool, and sparkling wine. At the time champagne was a small-time enterprise. Veuve Clicquot revolutionized the industry by storing the bottles upsides down in special racks, turning them, then freezing off the excess yeast. The new technique resulted in a shaper taste, less sweet, with smaller bubbles. Her 1811 vintage is said to have been the first truly modern champagne. 

The Decline of US Military Innovation

Dan Steinbock

NEW YORK – The United States is at risk of losing its military edge. America’s armed forces may still be the most advanced in the world; after all, the US spends more than twice as much on military research and development as major powers like France and Russia, and nine times more than China and Germany. But America’s continued technological leadership is far from assured.

Since 2005, the US Department of Defense has cut R&D spending by 22%. In 2013, as part of a deal to avert a showdown over the debt ceiling, the US Congress mandated some $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts. The move, which requires reduced spending in numerous programs, including many defense research initiatives, was described by US President Barack Obama’s administration as “deeply destructive to national security.” If US defense innovation continues to erode, not only will America’s defense capabilities suffer; the country will also risk slipping in terms of commercial innovation and competitiveness.

Budget limitations pose some of the greatest challenges to the US military’s efforts to maintain its technological edge. The Army and the Missile Defense Agency have been particularly hard hit, with R&D spending nearly halved since 2005. The Navy’s research budget has been cut by some 20%, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the organization tasked with keeping the US military ahead of the technological curve – has had to slash R&D spending by 18%. Even the Air Force, where research spending has traditionally been a congressional priority, has been forced to cut its budget by roughly 4%.

The Military Has a Bureaucrat Problem

January 30, 2015

Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the Pentagon’s civilian workforce has grown by 7 percent and the number of active-duty military personnel has been slashed by 8 percent.

Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon has a “growing army of bureaucrats,” and that the effect of this shift in personnel can already be seen on the world stage.

The decline in the size and capability of the armed forces has diminished the U.S. military’s forward presence and reduced Washington’s ability to shape world events and deter conflict. The remaining two Army brigades in Europe didn’t prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. Nor has the Pentagon’s “pivot” to Asia stopped China from establishing an air-defense identification zone, North Korea from sinking a South Korean warship, or Iran from pursuing regional hegemony.

Every dollar spent on the civilian workforce above what’s needed cannot be invested in other priorities. The block of defense civilians has grown so large that the Air Force’s civilian workforce is essentially at parity with the entire Air Force National Guard and Reserve combined. As for the Navy, civilians are the only employee group that has grown—by nearly 9 percent—since 2009.

Tank Arms Race: Introducing Russia's 21st Century Armata Tank

By Rich Smith | More Articles

Across Western Europe, factories that produce main battle tanks are closing their doors -- and the companies that run them are consolidating and scrambling to stay alive. Here in the U.S., tank maker General Dynamics (NYSE: GD ) recently laid off hundreds of workersdue to slack demand, forcing Congress to allocate $120 million to buying tanks the Army doesn't want just to keep the factory running.

But in Russia they're building a 21st century supertank.

Dubbed the T-14 Armata ("Армата"), this is the tank in which Russia will roll into the 21st century. While to date, the Russian army has purchased only 12 Armatas for testing, deliveries at scale are expected to begin this year. Assuming field tests over the next two years work out, Russia plans to replace 70% of its main battle tank force with Armatas by 2020.

What we know about the Armata tankThat works out to 2,300 Armata tanks produced over the next five years, a rate of more than 38 tanks per month -- nearly four times the last-reported production rate at General Dynamics' Lima, Ohio, Abrams production plant.

The tank you see up above is a computer-generated image of what Armata is believed to look like. But according to ITAR-TASS, we will get our first real-life glimpse when Russia unveils the Armata at the May 9 "Victory Day" parade on Red Square in Moscow. But reports are already filtering out about the tank's capabilities. Despite the Russian Defense Ministry's insistence that "no information about [Armata] can be revealed," multiple sourcesconfirm the tank boasts: 

You’re Doing it Wrong

Rule No. 13: “When in charge, take charge.” — General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Saturday, November 22 started as a day like any other day. Get up, let the dogs out, hit the gym. Feed the dogs, make a cup of coffee, turn on This Old House, and begin the morning social media ritual. ISIS? Still a problem. Afghanistan? Still unsustainable. Russia? Still in Ukraine. Then, from out of nowhere, a strange retweet from @USAFPABoss, the U.S. Air Force Chief of Public Affairs, Brigadier General Kathleen Cook.

I sat back, took a long drink of coffee, and thought to myself “What a monumentally stupid thing to do.” Forget the disclaimer ‘RTs & links ≠ endorsement.’ That’s just not true. If you’re active on social media, you own what you post. That’s why you’ll never see @CocaCola retweet anything negative about one of its competitors, no matter how tempting it might be to do so. You post it, you own it. It’s really that simple.

How to give someone a howling case of PTSD: The Army’s recipe in action

JANUARY 30, 2015

Much talk of post-traumatic stress disorder has come out of the Iraq War, but little is as striking as that of Lt. Col. Bill Russell Edmonds, a Special Forces officer whose memoir is scheduled to appear in a few months.

In the book, titled God Is Not Here: A Soldier’s Struggle with Torture, Trauma, and the Moral Injuries of War, Edmonds says in his first sentences, “I’m a good person forced to make many horrible choices.”

What especially makes it stand out is that it amounts to a textbook on how to develop a howling case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All the ingredients identified by the noted psychiatrist and veterans’ counselor Jonathan Shay in his two groundbreaking books on the syndrome are here.

If the Army in some perverse experiment had consciously wanted to try to induce PTSD in one of its officers, it could not have done a more effective job than it did on Edmonds.