15 April 2014

"Putin's Calculus"

Op-Ed, New Europe
April 10, 2014
Author: Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security

By most accounts, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been the winner in the Ukraine crisis, at least so far. His annexation of Crimea, which Nikita Khrushchev arbitrarily transferred to Ukraine in 1954, has been widely applauded at home, and he has largely shrugged off Western governments' responses. But, from a longer-term perspective, Putin's victory is not quite so certain.

The current crisis in Ukraine began with President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to reject a European Union Association Agreement, opting instead for a deal with Russia that included desperately needed financing. This outraged Ukrainians in the country's more pro-EU western regions, spurring protracted popular protests that ultimately toppled Yanukovych's corrupt but democratically elected government.

But not all Ukrainians were averse to pursuing closer ties with Russia. Indeed, Yanukovych's decision pleased many Russian speakers in Ukraine's eastern and southern regions. And it was to Russia that Yanukovych turned when, after months of peaceful demonstrations in Kyiv, violence broke out and demonstrators were killed, spurring him to flee Ukraine.

For his part, Putin not only provided sanctuary for Yanukovych and refused to recognize the new government in Kyiv; he began to help organize — and incite — resistance among Crimea's ethnic Russian majority. By deploying Russian troops (often masked and without insignias) from the Black Sea Fleet's base in Sevastopol, which Russia had leased from Ukraine, Putin was able to take control of the peninsula with no loss of life.

When Western leaders expressed outrage over the forced changes to European borders, Putin remained unfazed, citing NATO's use of force in Kosovo 15 years ago, and their subsequent support for its formal secession from Serbia, as an example of their hypocrisy. The West shot back with targeted sanctions against a few high-level Russian officials, to which Putin responded with sanctions of his own, barring entry to selected Western politicians.

"The Geopolitics of Russian Natural Gas"

Report Chapter
February 21, 2014
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: The Geopolitics of Energy Project

Part of a joint study by the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute and Harvard University's Kennedy School on the geopolitical implications of natural gas.

Tatiana Mitrova - Head of the Oil and Gas Department, Energy Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences

Click here for full study

The tension between global norms and national interests

Opinion Writer
Published: April 11

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has unified Western democracies, at least in their robust condemnation of the action. But farther afield, one sees a variety of responses that foreshadow the great emerging tension in 21st-century international life: between global norms and national interests. 

Consider the response of India, the world’s most populous democracy. New Delhi was mostly silent through the events of February and early March; it refused to support any sanctions against Russia, and its national security adviser declared that Russia had “legitimate” interests in Ukraine — all of which led Vladimir Putin to place a thank-you phone call to India’s prime minister

India’s reaction can be explained by its deep ties with Russia. From 2009 to 2013, 38 percent of major weapons exported from Russia went to India, far more than to any other country (and more than triple the next-highest recipient, China, at 12 percent). And 75 percent of the major weapons imported to India came from Russia (just 7 percent came from the United States). Over the same period, Russia delivered to India an aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine — the only one in the world exported anywhere in those years. 

In addition, as the United States withdraws troops from Afghanistan, India knows that Pakistan will try to fill that vacuum, using as its proxy the Taliban and other such groups that have often engaged in terrorism against Indian citizens. In this great game in northwestern Asia, Russia has historically sided with India, and China (and the United States) with Pakistan. Things are different now. The United States is the sworn enemy of the Taliban and has clashed with Pakistan on terrorism issues repeatedly, but old habits die hard. 

More curious has been the reaction of Israel, the most pro-American nation on the planet. Israel, which has tended to support almost all U.S. foreign policy initiatives, has been determined not to do so on this issue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was uncharacteristically circumspect: “I hope the Ukrainian thing is resolved, quickly, amicably, but I have enough on my plate, which is quite full.” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was more explicit, describing the United States and Russia in equal terms. “We have good and trusting relations with the Americans and the Russians, and our experience has been very positive with both sides. So I don’t understand the idea that Israel has to get mired in this,” he said. 

The NATO Panic

The alarmist claims that the alliance can’t defend Europe from Russia are preposterous. 

Swedish soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force are seen with their tanks in Afghanistan in 2010. The Western alliance is plenty strong enough to stand up to Russia’s faded military power.

Photo by Kazim Ebrahimkhil/AFP/Getty Images 

Granted, the crisis in Ukraine is worrisome, Vladimir Putin’s behavior is unpredictable, and the 30,000 Russian troops amassed on the Ukrainian border arouse a sense of dread and danger unfelt since the Cold War. That said, the alarmism is getting out of hand. Legitimate concerns are spiraling into war chants and trembling, a weird mix of paranoia and nostalgia, needlessly inflating tensions and severely distorting the true picture.

Fred Kaplan is the author ofThe Insurgents and the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

A bizarre example of this is a March 26New York Times story headlined “Military Cuts Render NATO Less Formidable as Deterrent to Russia.” The normally seasoned reporters, Helene Cooper and Steven Erlanger, note that the United States “has drastically cut back its European forces from a decade ago.” For instance, during “the height of the Cold War” (which was actually three decades ago, but let that pass), we had about 400,000 combat-ready forces defending Western Europe—whereas now we have about 67,000. In terms of manpower, weapons, and other military equipment, they write, “the American military presence” in Europe is “85 percent smaller than it was in 1989.”

Yet the article contains not one word about the decline of Russia’s “military presence” in Europe since that time. It only takes one word to sum up that topic: disappeared. The once-mighty Warsaw Pact—the Russian-led alliance that faced NATO troops along the East-West German border—is no more. And its erstwhile frontline nations—East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Poland—have been absorbed into the West, indeed into NATO. This is hardly an esoteric fact, yet its omission makes the Times’ trend lines seem much scarier than they really are.

Nor, even with its own borders, is the Russian army the formidable force it once. According to data gathered by GlobalSecurity.org, Russian troop levels have declined since 1990 from 1.5 million to 321,000. Over the same period, tank divisions have been slashed from 46 to five, artillery divisions from 19 to five, motorized rifle divisions from 142 to 19, and so it goes across the ranks.

In short, the United States “drastically cut back its European forces” because there’s no longer a threat to justify those forces. Nor does Putin’s seizure of Crimea augur a resumption of that threat—not to any degree that warrants anything like a restoration of NATO circa ’89.

Turkey: Return of the Generals

April 13, 2014

The Turkish military wasn’t supposed to matter anymore. Over the past three years, many of Turkey’s senior military officers were tried and imprisoned on charges of planning coups against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s democratically elected government. The trials came after Erdogan successfully moved to reduce the military’s role in political decision-making and put it under the firm control of civilian rule. Together, these actions not only reduced the threat of a coup against the Islamist-leaning Erdogan, but also helped the prime minister cement popular backing from other Islamic conservatives and Turkey’s liberals, all of whom were happy to see the armed forces pay for their past abuses.

The power struggle that broke out a few months ago between Erdogan and his former allies in the Islamist conservative camp, the followers of the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, changed the dynamic. Erdogan started to reconsider his moves to undercut the generals. He and his officials took steps and made statements that appeared to support a renewed role for the military as political actors, albeit hand-in-hand with him.

The March 30 local elections, widely seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic and anti-democratic rule, gave him the results he needed to continue to promote his own agenda. His Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials, AKP) won 43 percent of the vote nationally, with the strongest rival, the social democrat Republican People’s Party (known as CHP, for its Turkish initials), polling 26 percent nationwide. CHP was unable to wrest control of Istanbul from AKP and even in Ankara, where the incumbent AKP mayor appeared weak, the two parties’ candidates just about tied, and votes are still being contested.

Having scored a strong victory at the ballot box, Erdogan is now ready to move actively against the Gulen movement’s network. Members of Gulen’s movement dominate the country’s police force and judiciary, and they are believed to be behind the broad corruption probe launched on December 17, 2013 that seemed to target Erdogan by going after businessmen and the sons of politicians close to him. Gulen supporters are also suspected of being responsible for wiretapping Erdogan and others and then leaking the tapes that appear to implicate the prime minister in some of the alleged corruption. (Erdogan denies the veracity of the tapes and allegations.)

In his victory speech on election night, Erdogan made clear that his main concern was Gulen and his followers. “We’ll walk into their dens. They will pay for this,” he said. Erdogan, whose increasingly autocratic ways—including banning Twitter prior to the election—have led to a rift with liberals as well, is also likely to keep up the pressure on his opponents in the media, arts and business worlds. He won’t do this alone. He has indicated that he is planning to team up with his former nemesis, the military, to undercut forces that threaten his personal hold of the state. This gives the generals the opportunity to move back into a position of political primacy.

The new, de facto alliance between Erdogan and the Turkish General Staff was launched at the February 26 meeting of the National Security Council, whose members include the country’s five most senior military officers. The council unanimously voted to designate the Gulen movement—which they referred to as “the parallel structure”—as a threat to national security. They declared “total war” against Gulen activities in Turkey and approved a blueprint of action that includes identifying and purging Gulen’s cadres from the state.

America stands accused of retreat from its global duties. Nonsense

Naysayers allege that American influence is waning and cite Barack Obama's inaction on Syria and Ukraine as proof that its foreign policy has been reduced to watching the 'bad guys' do what they like. That is a complete fantasy
The Observer, 12 April 2014 

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov at the Russian ambassador's residence in Paris to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

A new word, it seems, has come to the fore to describe US foreign policyin the age of Obama: retreat.

The signs of alleged American fecklessness are everywhere: withdrawal from Afghanistan, which followed the ignominious departure from Iraq; negotiations with the mullahs in Iran rather than bombs over Tehran; an aimless and hollow pivot to Asia that is failing to deter a rising China; a newly assertive Russia seizing territory without consequence; cuts in defence spending while al-Qaida franchises pop up across the Middle East and perhaps the worst of all sins – failure to stop the bloodletting inSyria. It's a policy that Niall Ferguson calls "one of the great fiascos of post-World War Two American foreign policy". (Mental note: send Niall Ferguson a book about the Vietnam War.)

The charge isn't just being hurled in Washington. According to John McCain: "I travel all around the world and I hear unanimously that theUnited States is withdrawing and that the United States' influence is on the wane and that bad things are going to happen, and they are happening."

The charge of retreat is a potent one.

It's also a complete fantasy.

Those who argue that the US is retreating from the world stage don't understand the limits of US power, don't understand how the world works and, truth be told, don't appear to understand the meaning of the word "retreat".

China’s Growing Military Might Hides Vast Insecurity and Frustration

April 11, 2014
During Hagel Visit, China Showed Its Military Might, and Its Frustrations
Helene Cooper
New York Times

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — When Robert M. Gates visited China in 2011 as the United States defense secretary, the military greeted him with an unexpected and, in the view of American military officials, provocative test of a Chinese stealth fighter jet, a bold show of force that stunned the visiting Americans and may even have surprised the Chinese president at the time, Hu Jintao.

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited China this week, the military greeted him with a long-sought tour of the country’s lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in what many American officials interpreted as a resolve to project naval power, particularly in light of recent tension between Beijing and its neighbors over disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

The displays of China’s military power reveal some dividends from years of heavy investments, and perhaps a sense that China is now more willing to stand toe-to-toe with the Americans, at least on regional security issues.

But American officials and Asia experts say the visits also showed a more insecure side of China’s military leadership — a tendency to display might before they are ready to deploy it, and a lingering uncertainty about how assertively to defend its territorial claims in the region.

Mr. Hagel encountered both combative warnings in public forums and private complaints that Beijing felt besieged by hostile neighbors, especially Japan and the Philippines, which it asked the United States to help address. The impression for some American officials was that China still has not decided whether it wants to emphasize its historical status as an underdog or adopt a new posture as a military powerhouse.

On the tough side, China’s minister of defense, Gen. Chang Wanquan, announced that his country would make “no compromise, no concession, no treaty” in the fight for what he called its “territorial sovereignty.”

“The Chinese military can assemble as soon as summoned, fight any battle, and win,” he said.

But the tough stance belies a different reality on the ground, a military with little or no combat experience, outdated or untested equipment, and a feeling of being under siege. The Liaoning, according to American defense officials who toured the ship, still lags well behind the United States’ 10 aircraft carrier groups. While Mr. Hagel spoke expansively about how impressive he found the Chinese sailors he met aboard the ship in his public remarks, one American defense official who accompanied Mr. Hagel noted privately that the Liaoning was “not as big, it’s not as fast,” as American carriers.

Some experts on China were more dismissive. The Liaoning is “a surplus ship from the Soviet era that had been used as a hotel after it was decommissioned,” said Andrew L. Oros, an associate professor of political science at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and a specialist on East Asia.

“In my view this is about national pride, about being on the cusp of being able to challenge the powers that wrought such destruction and misery on China in the 19th and 20th centuries,” Mr. Oros said. “I think this leads them to over-flaunt, both out of genuine satisfaction in being able to do so, but also as a domestic crowd-pleaser.”

China’s Evolving Reconnaissance-Strike Capabilities: Implications for the U.S.-Japan Alliance

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is investing considerable resources into a military architecture that has the potential to alter the strategic fabric of the Western Pacific region. This includes the development of multiple redundant sensor capabilities for monitoring a vast maritime domain extending off of China’s coastline and deep into the Pacific. China’s expanding reconnaissance infrastructure is designed to support an array of precision strike capabilities for targeting ships at sea, command and control nodes, air bases, ports, and other critical facilities. The purpose of these reconnaissance-strike capabilities is to undermine the Unites States military’s ability to project power into the region during periods of crisis or conflict to meet its security commitments to its allies and coalition partners.

Ian Easton (2/19/2014)

"A Worst Practices Guide to Insider Threats: Lessons from Past Mistakes"

April 4, 2014

Authors: Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom,Scott Sagan, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1981-1982; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security

Insider threats are perhaps the most serious challenges that nuclear security systems face. All of the cases of theft of nuclear materials where the circumstances of the theft are known were perpetrated either by insiders or with the help of insiders; given that the other cases involve bulk material stolen covertly without anyone being aware the material was missing, there is every reason to believe that they were perpetrated by insiders as well. Similarly, disgruntled workers from inside nuclear facilities have perpetrated many of the known incidents of nuclear sabotage. The most recent example of which we are aware is the apparent insider sabotage of a diesel generator at the San Onofre nuclear plant in the United States in 2012; the most spectacular was an incident three decades ago in which an insider placed explosives directly on the steel pressure vessel head of a nuclear reactor and then detonated them. While many such incidents, including the two just mentioned, appear to have been intended to send a message to management, not to spread radioactivity, they highlight the immense dangers that could arise from insiders with more malevolent intent. As it turns out, insiders perpetrate a large fraction of thefts from heavily guarded non-nuclear facilities as well. Yet organizations often find it difficult to understand and protect against insider threats. Why is this the case?

Part of the answer is that there are deep organizational and cognitive biases that lead managers to downplay the threats insiders pose to their nuclear facilities and operations. But another part of the answer is that those managing nuclear security often have limited information about incidents that have happened in other countries or in other industries, and the lessons that might be learned from them.

In the world of nuclear safety, sharing of incidents and lessons learned is routine, and there are regularized processes for it, through organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO). Nothing comparable exists in nuclear security...

For more information about this publication please contact the MTA Project Coordinator at 617-495-4219.

Full text of this publication is available at: 

Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say

APRIL 12, 2014 

Edward J. Snowden, the N.S.A. leaker, speaking to European officials via videoconference last week.

WASHINGTON — Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.

But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the N.S.A. to continue to exploit security flaws both to crack encryption on the Internet and to design cyberweapons.

The White House has never publicly detailed Mr. Obama’s decision, which he made in January as he began a three-month review of recommendations by a presidential advisory committee on what to do in response to recent disclosures about the National Security Agency.

But elements of the decision became evident on Friday, when the White House denied that it had any prior knowledge of the Heartbleed bug, a newly known hole in Internet security that sent Americans scrambling last week to change their online passwords. The White House statement said that when such flaws are discovered, there is now a “bias” in the government to share that knowledge with computer and software manufacturers so a remedy can be created and distributed to industry and consumers.

Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the review of the recommendations was now complete, and it had resulted in a “reinvigorated” process to weigh the value of disclosure when a security flaw is discovered, against the value of keeping the discovery secret for later use by the intelligence community.

“This process is biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities,” she said.

Until now, the White House has declined to say what action Mr. Obama had taken on this recommendation of the president’s advisory committee, whose report is better known for its determination that the government get out of the business of collecting bulk telephone data about the calls made by every American. Mr. Obama announced last month that he would end the bulk collection, and leave the data in the hands of telecommunications companies, with a procedure for the government to obtain it with court orders when needed.

U.S. Government Has Warned Banks to be On Alert for Hackers Taking Advantage of “Heartbleed” Bug

April 11, 2014
U.S. government says hackers trying to exploit ‘Heartbleed’ bug

The U.S. government warned banks and other businesses on Friday to be on alert for hackers seeking to steal data exposed by the “Heartbleed” bug, as a German programmer took responsibility for the widespread security crisis.

On a website for advising critical infrastructure operators about emerging cyber threats, the Department of Homeland Security asked organizations to report any Heartbleed-related attacks, adding that hackers were attempting to exploit the bug in widely used OpenSSL code by scanning targeted networks.

Federal regulators also advised financial institutions to patch and test their systems to make sure they are safe.

OpenSSL is technology used to encrypt communications, including access to email, as well as websites of big Internet companies like Facebook Inc, Google Inc and Yahoo Inc.

The bug, which surfaced Monday, allows hackers to steal data without a trace. No organization has identified itself as a victim, yet security firms say they have seen well-known hacking groups scanning the Web in search of vulnerable networks.

"While there have not been any reported attacks or malicious incidents involving this particular vulnerability at this time, it is still possible that malicious actors in cyberspace could exploit unpatched systems," said Larry Zelvin, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, in a blog post on the White House website.

Unman Your Battle Stations!

By Commander Michael J. Dobbs, U.S. Navy (Retired)
2013 Unmanned Maritime Systems Essay Contest Winner

Unmanned maritime systems will decisively alter the future of warfare, and the naval profession must adapt to the military and cultural changes under way.

A specter is haunting the descendants of John Paul Jones, Dick O’Kane, and the “fighting” Sullivans. It is animated by Moore’s Law and abetted by practitioners of the American way of war who, as one U.S. Navy recruiting video boasted, now work feverishly “to unman the front lines” in order to reduce the human, monetary, and political cost of war. 1 The meteoric rise of unmanned systems over the last two decades has been breathtaking and presages additional expansion in the number, variety, and autonomy of intelligent fighting machines. Accompanying this increase are military and cultural implications as well as challenges that require immediate attention.

The Rise of the Machines

Unmanned maritime systems (UMS) have expanded exponentially. From 2001 to 2008, unmanned aircraft systems executed 500,000 flight hours, and unmanned ground vehicles conducted 30,000 missions. 2 Although off to a relatively slow start, the Navy is now rapidly developing fleets of unmanned surface and undersea vehicles, in addition to carrier-based unmanned aircraft (See Table 1). One ambitious project is the Large Diameter Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV), which will supplement nuclear submarines in covert mining; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and antisubmarine warfare (ASW). 3

There is clear evidence that unmanned systems will continue to replace humans at the tactical level of warfare (See Figure 1). Systems such as the Phalanx close-in weapon system, advanced-capability M-48 ADCAP, and the Aegis weapon system already operate at the highest level of the tactical observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop, including the use of lethal force. Developed by Colonel John Boyd to help describe the decision cycles used by individuals and organizations, OODA loop is one way to look at the sequence or hierarchy of tasks leading up to the ultimate task of acting. 5

The Navy is moving smartly toward increasing the role of unmanned systems in aviation, and trends in technology and real-world operations suggest the slow extinction of most naval aviators. Although the challenge of replacing a nuclear-powered attack submarine or guided-missile destroyer crew is a few orders of magnitude more difficult than replacing aviators in the cockpit, analytical and decision support systems are displacing some crew members in data-driven areas such as sensor employment, target detection, classification, and the generation of accurate fire-control solutions.

Thinking machines already support warfare at the operational level. Automated planning tools have dramatically increased the pace of strike operations while coordinating the employment of assets from cruise missiles to light and heavy aircraft. At the theater or operational level, a variety of automated tools are also being used to manage ASW (e.g., Undersea Warfare Decision Support System [USW-DSS]), including “recommending” where ASW-capable platforms will be placed and how they will conduct their searches. 6

Interestingly, there is evidence of an emerging phenomenon where combat professionals come to trust and rely on the ultimate wisdom of automated decision tools more than might be expected. Even when men have the ability to veto or override an automated weapon system’s decision, they tend to be loath to do so. Such was the case when the USS Vincennes (CG-49), a Ticonderoga -class cruiser, mistakenly shot down a civilian Iranian airliner in 1988, despite significant concerns the crew had that the automated air-defense system had inaccurately classified a radar contact. 7

Should mankind draw bright lines regarding what thinking machines should not do? It is certainly tempting to exclude them from the strategic level to form a fire-break against the “Skynet” scenario from the movie The Terminator , where the fictitious artificial intelligence system assumes the role of “National Command Authority” and becomes dedicated to the eradication of the human race. Respecting such prohibitions will not be easy, as machines with memories and reasoning power superior to those of the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are created. Human decision-making can be flawed, and a variety of studies have described how cognitive weaknesses such as cultural bias, tendency toward being a “satisfier,” and groupthink limit or bind human rationality. 8 With that in mind, what President or Secretary of Defense wouldn’t want to listen to the “advice” of a highly intelligent machine capable of running hundreds of simulations regarding a variety of response options against a model that factors in thousands of key quantitative and qualitative factors “validated” against scores of historical scenarios?

Stealth Technology in Warship Design

Issue Vol. 29.1 Jan-Mar 2014 | Date : 13 Apr , 2014

INS Shivalik

Providing stealth features in the design of a warship will entail additional costs. It has been reported that Visby stealth Corvette costs 50 per cent more than a conventionally built Corvette of the same dimensions. The projected cost of the future US Navy DD(X) Zumwalt is $2.8 billion which represents a significant increase. However, the DD(X) will offer full-spectrum signature management to cloak it from a variety of detection and targeting methods. In spite of the higher costs, stealth features are now considered amongst the key requirements around which a warship will be designed and built.

The primary aim of the stealth technology is to render the warship invisible to enemy detection systems…

There has been a significant shift in Warship Design in the past two decades to incorporate stealth. For example, the Shivalik Class frigates in India, Type 45 destroyers in United Kingdom, La-Fayette Class frigates in France, Visby Class corvettes in Sweden and many more. On the other hand, in case of DD(X) Zumwalt Class destroyers in the United States, the very cost of stealth led to decisions in favour of a more traditional tried-and-tested warship. It may be appreciated that a stealth warship cannot provide intimidating power projection off the coast to potential enemies if they do not find/detect that you are there. Moreover, stealth cannot guarantee platform safety and integrity, once the first salvo is fired. We cannot forget the threat from small stealthy fast boats manned by pirates/terrorists as in the instance of the damage done to the destroyer USS Cole.

The Exhausted Insurgency

Journal Article | April 11, 2014

“The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by a legitimate government.”[i]

The purpose of this essay is to enter into an ongoing debate regarding the definition of an ended insurgency, and systematically attempt to construct an informed answer for COIN scholars and practitioners seeking to define the end-state of an insurgency. In 2010 the RAND Corporation published a comprehensive study titled, .Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency. The monograph details thirty insurgencies that occurred in every region of the world from 1978-2008. Using what RAND refers to as the, “Good” and “Bad” factors” in COIN approaches, a scorecard was created in order to determine the causal factors that determined the outcome of each case study. While the RAND monograph is cutting-edge research, it falls under an all-too familiar category of COIN studies that focus on how to end an insurgent conflict without addressing the days, months, and years that follow the actual fighting. I argue that the actual end of an insurgency occurs if the restored government is both legitimate and politically competent. If those criteria are met the population will support the government, ultimately draining the insurgency’s support base, and leaving it utterly exhausted. This report is not determined to highlight a particular theory or justify the aforementioned ideas as the only way to approach a post-conflict environment. Instead, it will offer some new ideas and key phrases, such as exhausted insurgency, to the vast, but always changing literature regarding COIN operations. In the first part of the essay I will provide the reader with a detailed overview of the ongoing debate about what constitutes a successfully ended insurgency. In the second section I will survey the literature regarding political legitimacy. The third section of the report will focus on the case study of Sierra Leone. From an analytical perspective, Sierra Leone offers a substantial amount of information. Since 2002 Sierra Leone finds itself in a state of stability, and upward trending economic mobility. This paper will attempt to address why this country finds itself in that position following a very disturbing conflict. The last section of the essay will discuss suggestions for further research on this extremely important topic.

The Perfect Analogy

Counterinsurgent forces should address their insurgent enemies in a similar fashion to the medical world’s response against infectious diseases. Once a disease breaks out, the medical world is tasked with the challenge to create the best possible procedure to combat the life-threatening disease. At first, doctors try to treat the disease with drugs, but that does not sufficiently quell the virulent malady. Researchers continue to search for a better solution, a solution that ultimately suppresses the disease. Excruciating hours of work, testing and re-testing, leads doctors to believe they finally created a vaccine in order to prevent the pestilence from spreading any further. After substantial trial runs it is proven that the vaccine is a remarkable success. The vaccine is quickly introduced into society, and slowly the infectious disease disappears until it is eliminated or removed from that particular region. The disease may linger, but the presence of a widely accepted vaccine eliminates any possibility for the disease to emerge as a serious threat in the inoculated society ever again.[ii] Understanding this analogy is a useful exercise when studying counterinsurgency (COIN). A hypothetical insurgency breaks out, very similarly to the disease, and gradually infects the population. At first, the threat appears localized, not dangerous, and not long lasting. However, the insurgent is smart, and attentive to the needs of the local population. The insurgent exploits these needs, and gradually increases his or her credibility and support among the population. The government recognizes that the threat is real, and understands that something must be done. The government confronts the insurgency, and a protracted struggle ensues. The conflict subsides, leaving the government or COIN force successfully ahead of the insurgent. There is a restored sense of stability throughout the region. However, the government does not address the popular grievances. Former insurgents, living among the population, begin to sow the seeds of discontent throughout their communities, and try to recharge the population. The anger reaches yet another boiling point and again an insurgency ensues. This time the insurgent wins.

14 April 2014

Our leaders are not asking hard questions

First Published: 13/4/2014
In 1903 Gandhi went to Varanasi for the first time. As a Hindu, he wanted naturally to visit the Kashi Viswanath temple. He was unimpressed by what he saw. “The swarming flies and the noise made by the shopkeepers and pilgrims were perfectly insufferable,” he wrote, adding: “here one expected an atmosphere of meditation and communion, it was conspicuous by its absence”.

When Gandhi finally reached the temple, he “was greeted at the entrance by a stinking mass of rotten flowers”. The marble floor had been “broken by some devotee innocent of aesthetic taste, who had set it with rupees serving as an excellent receptacle for dirt”. He walked all over the shrine, “search[ing] for God but fail[ing] to find him” in the dirt and the filth.

Gandhi was back in the holy city 13 years later. He had been invited to the opening of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in February 1916. This was his first major public appearance after his return to India from South Africa. Gandhi was one of the less important invitees; the real VIPs were the Rajas and Maharajas whose donations had enabled the new university. Also present were important leaders of the Congress. Compared to these dignitaries, Gandhi was then relatively unknown. Characteristically, he did not let his obscurity or comparative lack of social status hinder his quest for the truth.

When his turn came to speak, Gandhi charged the elite with a lack of concern for the labouring poor. The opening of the BHU, he said, was “certainly a most gorgeous show”. But he worried about the contrast between the “richly bedecked noblemen” present and “millions of the poor” Indians who were absent. Gandhi told the privileged invitees that “there is no salvation for India unless you strip yourself of this jewellery and hold it in trust for your countrymen in India”. “There can be no spirit of self-government about us,” he went on, “if we take away or allow others to take away from the peasants almost the whole of the results of their labour. Our salvation can only come through the farmer. Neither the lawyers, nor the doctors, nor the rich landlords are going to secure it.”

The war of winning hearts

Published: April 14, 2014 

Rahul Pandita

The HinduPhoto: Rahul Pandita

Chhattisgarh’s first Maoist recruit and the lessons the Indian state needs to derive from his story

When former Maoist commander Badranna is not tending to plants at the public park in Chhattisgarh’s Jagdalpur town, he likes to spend time with his ten-year-old daughter Manisha and her pet parrot at their small house. Badranna’s wife, Latakka, once a Maoist guerrilla herself, works with the State police after the couple surrendered in the year 2000.

Badranna, now in his late forties, was among the first batch of men to be recruited in Chhattisgarh by the Maoists. He is from the Dorla tribe and comes from Bijapur district’s Pamed village, close to Andhra Pradesh.

In 1980, after the formation of the CPI-ML (People’s War), its Andhra-based leader Kondapalli Seetharamaiah sent Maoist squads to four areas in the State’s Telangana region: Khammam, Karimnagar, Warangal and Adilabad. Three other squads went across the Godavari river, one of them to Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, while two of them went to Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region (then a part of Madhya Pradesh). The idea was to create a rear base where safe guerrilla zones could be created.

One of these squads reached Badranna’s village. Badranna, a teenager then, recalls how the villagers would initially run away upon spotting the guerrillas. “We were all scared of them. Elders would caution us not to go near them; it was rumoured that the Maoists carried some potion that could make people follow them,” says Badranna.

Badranna’s family and others lived a difficult life. Most of them earned a pittance by collecting tendu leaves, used in the manufacture of beedi. For a pack of 100 leaves, the contractor paid them a few paise. “We would put the leaves in a string and the contractor used his head’s circumference to measure it,” says Badranna.A change in strategy.

Procurement: Why India Flails At Procurement


April 12, 2014

India imports more weapons than any other country. Over the last decade those imports have more than doubled. There are several reasons for this. India has one of the top five armed forces in terms of manpower (about a million troops) and needs a lot of stuff. Until the end of the Cold War in 1991 India had a lot of government control in the economy and did not develop companies that could produce modern weapons, or modern anything for that matter. So many of the more techy weapons (armored vehicles, warplanes, warships, artillery, missiles and the like) were imported. Russia offered the best prices and even allowed India to assemble many of the weapons (like MiG-21s and tanks) in India. This saved some money and allowed India to say these weapons were “made in India.” Actually they were just assembled in India because India could not produce most of the components, which had to be imported from Russia. 

In the 1990s India began to realize that their economy needed some fundamental reforms and many were implemented. China’s reforms a decade earlier, and the rapid growth of the Chinese economy ever since made a big impression in India. Freeing up the economy meant that suddenly there were firms that could develop and manufacture modern technology. But military technology had made great strides in the 1980s and Russia had fallen way behind. Worse, the rapid growth of the Chinese economy meant a lot more money and new weapons for the Chinese military. This played a part in a more powerful China reviving old claims on Indian territory. 

Suddenly buying Russian weapons was not good enough because the Russian stuff was not a lot better than what the Chinese were building themselves or buying from the Russians. India began to look West for weapons and redouble its efforts to develop weapons manufacturing capability. The Western stuff was more expensive and Western media tended to uncover the corruption that was so much a part of Indian weapons procurement. The Russians knew how to be discreet about the bribes and kickbacks. At the same time there was growing popular clamor in India to crack down on the corruption and the Western firms were much easier targets. This caused numerous delays in ordering new weapons from the West. Despite the delays, more and more foreign weapons were ordered, because the many state controlled weapons firms were unable to develop and manufacture what the military needed and were often a decade or more behind in contracts they already had. 

Need to Treat Naxalites with Iron Fists, not Kid Gloves

On 11th March 2014, Naxalites ambushed a Road Opening Party of the Chhattisgarh Police and the Central Reserve Police in Bastar Division of Chhattisgarh killing fifteen policemen and an innocent civilian. This happened in the Jhiramghati area, very near Darbaghati where last year much of the senior leadership of the Chhattisgarh Congress was wiped out in an ambush, which killed twenty-six people, including members of the police escort. Earlier still, when the Collector of Sukma was abducted and held hostage, the Naxalites shot dead in cold blood the two personal security officers of the Collector, one a Muslim and the other a tribal. This region saw the deadliest ambush on the police ever, when 75 jawans were killed in one incident alone. Even at the height of the Nagaland insurgency, this magnitude of casualties in one incident had not been suffered by jawans of the Army or the Police. In the fight against Naxalism, more than 3000 policemen have been killed, about 1500 in Chhattisgarh alone.

The Naxalite dominated districts have the local population, largely tribal, living in remote areas, with poor infrastructure and with considerable poverty. In old Madhya Pradesh, the southern part of which has become Chhattisgarh, there was always the Ryotwari system of tenure, which meant that there were no intermediaries between government and the agriculturist, who was the Bhoomiswami or owner of the land. In 1951 even the intermediaries for revenue collection and management of common lands, the Malguzars, were abolished. In Bastar, later extended to the whole State, the Aboriginal Tribes (Protection of Interest in Trees) Act was in operation and this ensured that the tribes would be protected from exploitation on account of timber standing on their bhoomiswami land, with felling being permitted only under strict control and that, too, only by the Forest Department, with the permission of the Collector. There was also a total ban on transfer of tribal land to non-tribals. In other words, the exploitative Zamindari system which prevailed in neighbouring Telangana, formerly a part of Hyderabad State and then Andhra Pradesh, did not prevail in Madhya Pradesh which, before 1956, included Chandrapur and Gadhchiroli Districts of what is now Maharashtra. As a result of this, whilst Bastar and other tribal areas may have been poor, they were not in ferment caused by iniquitous land tenure. In trying to understand Naxalism, it is important to bear this fact in mind.

Long before Naxalbari, extreme left violence prevailed on a large scale in Hyderabad State in the Telangana portion because the peasants, largely tribal, were mercilessly exploited by the Zamindars. The resistance movement became so violent that in 1943 the Government of the Nizam of Hyderabad banned the Communist Party. When Hyderabad State was taken over by India after the Police Action, Telangana was marked out for special attention in order to restore the rule of law there. V. Nanjappa was appointed Special Commissioner and with great vigour he pursued the extremists and brought the area under control.

Afghanistan Newspeak: 10 ways the US skews the narrative

NATO forces aren't 'leaving' but 'transitioning.' 

As the clock ticks down to the promised withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US military is trying to figure out how to market the idea that the international intervention has actually accomplished its core mission — bringing peace and stability to a nation that has known little of either for the past 35 years.

The solution: a little Newspeak.

As George Orwell described the wonders of this invention: “It means a loyal willingness to say that black is white … But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”

Welcome to the war in Afghanistan.

1. “We are not leaving, we are transitioning.”

These words belong to Gen. Joseph Dunford, NATO commander in Afghanistan, who was at some pains to explain why the beleaguered country would not sink into civil war after the NATO withdrawal, similar to the way conflict exploded after the Soviets left 25 years ago.

In an interview last weekend with the Financial Times in Kabul, the general brushed aside the comparison. “I don’t view what we are doing as withdrawing, so I reject the analogy with the Soviet days,” he said.

NATO now has just over 51,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 33,500 of them belonging to the US. At the height of the war, there were close to 150,000 pairs of boots on the ground. This means that nearly 100,000 troops have “transitioned” so far.

Point, Counter-Point: ‘Overlooking’ Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers

Research Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi
April 9th, 2014

Mark Fitzpatrick’s argument for “nuclear rehabilitation of Pakistan” in his bookOvercoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers reminds one of a scene from a famous Bollywood movie Sholey. Jai, one of the male protagonists goes to meet the female protagonist’s (Basanti) aunt (Mausi) to ask her consent for the marriage of Basanti and his friend Veeru. Upon enquiry by Mausi regarding Veeru’s character, Jai gives a very quirky response with numerous contradictions. He says that Veeru is a commendable person despite the fact that he does not win every time he gambles. Despite of this, Veeru will surely begin earning responsibly once his gets into a marital alliance. He adds that he is a nice guy but once he drinks he loses control; however if Basanti marries him, he will also stop such activities and would also put an end to his practice of going to brothel. Upon more enquiries regarding Veeru’s ancestral origin, Veeru says that he will inform her once he becomes aware of it. He periodically praises Veerudespite all bad habits he has. Mausi, shocked by the responds, retorts that it is surprising how Jai is appreciating his friend who seems to possess no great quality of a respectable groom. To this Veeru responds, “kya karu mausi, mera toh dil hi kuch aisa hai!” (What to do aunt, my heart is such).

Similarly, Fitzpatrick seem to acknowledge all the problems with nuclear Pakistan – track record of proliferation, a lowered nuclear threshold, command and control prone to human error, warheads not one-point safe, inability to control the terrorists – and still vouches for Pakistan to be recognised “as a normal nuclear state” especially when some may say that Pakistan itself is not a normal state. His compassion is discernible when he says “how long Pakistan must pay the price” for the Khan nuclear proliferation network – “a solitary event.” Drawing a parallel to India’s performance, Fitzpatrick argues that “the time has come to offer Pakistan a nuclear-cooperation deal akin to India’s”.

At the outset, his thesis suffers from the ‘India parity syndrome’, which has in fact drained Pakistan for more than six decades now. The author warns that preferentially accepting India’s NSG membership is “likely to drive Pakistan further away from the West”. However, he has overlooked the repercussions of rewarding Pakistan.

Most disturbing is how the author equates Pakistan’s proven nuclear proliferation record with baseless allegations against India’s without substantiating it with convincing facts. He further says, “India must realise that Pakistan does not control all groups that perpetrate terrorism”. In this context,an observation by George Perkovich is worth noting. He deftly states that in the larger context of deterrence stability, “a state cannot be a responsible possessor of nuclear weapons if it does not have sovereign control over organized perpetrators of international violence operating from its territory”.