29 November 2014

Is Russia's Cyberwar Heating Up Amid New Cold War?

Nov. 26 2014 

Yevgeny Razumny / VedomostiRussia's own capabilities for cyber-warfare and -espionage remain very much an unknown, but have not been shown to be very impressive so far.

A recent influx of reports about Russian electronic espionage activity has prompted fresh concerns that the Kremlin may be gunning for a cyberwar with the West

Not everyone is convinced: Russian IT analysts interviewed by The Moscow Times were more inclined to blame the spike in attack reports on media hype and cybersecurity companies exploiting clients' fears.

But Russia's leading expert on domestic security services, Andrei Soldatov, said the pattern of the attacks indicated that the Russian government may be mounting a covert Internet offensive.

Experts could not say, however, whether heavy guns with the FSB electronic espionage agencies have been deployed.

"All government-linked attacks so far have been carried out by people on the market: the cyber-mercenaries," Soldatov, editor-in-chief of the Agentura.ru website, said Wednesday.
From NATO to Webcams

The most recent reports emerged last week, when the head of the German domestic intelligence service spoke about an increase in hacker assaults on German targets, including governmental ones.

Russian and Chinese hackers accounted for most of the spike, Hans-Georg Maassen was cited by Reuters as saying.

Report: GCHQ Not Able to Process Much of the Data It Intercepts Off the Internet

James Temperton
November 26, 2014

GCHQ has more data than it can handle — but UK gov ‘needs more’

GCHQ has direct access to “major internet cables” and has systems to monitor communications as they “traverse the internet” an official government report has revealed. The spy agency, which has been heavily criticised in the wake of the Snowden leaks, also admits that it has more data than it can handle. Despite these capabilities the government is being urged to massively expand its surveillance powers.

The details come from the Intelligence Security Committee’s inquiry (PDF) into the murder of the fusilier Lee Rigby by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale in Woolwich, London in 2013. While crucial details have been redacted for security reasons, the report still reveals the scale of the surveillance powers at GCHQ’s disposal.

"Detailing GCHQ’s capabilities it notes that the spy agency has access to around "*** percent of global internet traffic"

Detailing GCHQ’s capabilities it notes that the spy agency has access to around “*** percent of global internet traffic and approximately *** percent of internet traffic entering or leaving the UK”. Despite the redactions the report does reveal that GCHQ is currently overwhelmed by the amount of data it has to process:

"The resources required to process the vast quantity of data involved mean that, at any one time, GCHQ can only process approximately *** of what they can access."

The inquiry, which was set up to investigate what could have prevented Rigby’s murder, clears both M15 and M16 of any fault. It reveals that both Adebolajo and Adebowale were known to British security agencies, but that no action was taken. As both men were seen as low priority targets they were not subject to any specialist surveillance by GCHQ or any other agency.

The committee was far more damning in its assessment of an as-yet-unnamed US internet company. In December 2012 an exchange between Adebowale and an individual overseas revealed his intention to murder a soldier. The exchange was not seen by UK security services until after the attack. The report intimates that all overseas internet companies risk becoming a “safe haven for terrorists”.

"This company does not appear to regard itself as under any obligation to ensure that its systems identify such exchanges, or to take action or notify the authorities when its communications services appear to be used by terrorists."

GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Which Submarine Cables Are NSA and GCHQ Tapping?

Richard Chirgwin
November 26, 2014

Snowden doc leak lists submarine’d cables tapped by spooks

Edward Snowden’s latest document dump has confirmed the extensive list of submarine cables tapped by the NSA, GCHQ and others.

A list of cables errily reminiscent to that The Register revealed in June has been made public by German broadsheet Süddeutsche Zeitung in a Google Drive dump here.

As The Register’s Duncan Campbell revealed at the time, access to cables under the programs called “CIRCUIT” (intercepting cables landing at Seeb in Oman), “REMEDY” (access to BT cable facilities) and “GERONTIC” (Vodafone) delivered up a huge amount of communications to GCHQ and NSA spooks.

Other cable owners whose identities remain a secret are referred to in the new documents: “DACRON”, “LITTLE”, “PINNAGE”, “STREETCAR” and “VITREOUS”. All up, the partner carriers provided access to a total of 62 international submarine cables in around 2009, the date of the document.

The documents also confirm the cooperation of Cable & Wireless (acquired by Vodafone in 2012) with the programs.

The cables claimed as “tapped” in the document aren’t just giant international systems: even apparently minor links such as from Guam to the Philippines, from Cayman to Jamaica, Latvia to Sweden, and Italy to Malta are included in the dragnet.

The Australia-Japan Cable and the Southern Cross Cable Network are both listed, along with the SEA-ME-WE 3 and SEA-ME-WE 4 networks. Telstra Endeavour, which went live in 2008, is not listed, and the PIPE Networks PPC cable was not in service at the time the document seems to have been compiled.

SZ also notes that the new leak details payments – in one case more than £20 million – to C&W and Vodafone for the cable access. The leaks confirm reports earlier this week that FLAG, owned by Global Cloud eXchange (formerly Reliance Globalcom) was also tapped.

The Buck Stops Here

November 25, 2014 

The sign "The Buck Stops Here" that was on President Truman's desk in his White House office was made in the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma. Fred A. Canfil, then United States Marshal for the Western District of Missouri and a friend of Mr. Truman, saw a similar sign while visiting the Reformatory and asked the Warden if a sign like it could be made for President Truman. The sign was made and mailed to the President on October 2, 1945.

Approximately 2-1/2" x 13" in size and mounted on walnut base, the painted glass sign has the words "I'm From Missouri" on the reverse side. It appeared at different times on his desk until late in his administration.

The saying "the buck stops here" derives from the slang expression "pass the buck" which means passing the responsibility on to someone else. The latter expression is said to have originated with the game of poker, in which a marker or counter, frequently in frontier days a knife with a buckhorn handle, was used to indicate the person whose turn it was to deal. If the player did not wish to deal he could pass the responsibility by passing the "buck," as the counter came to be called, to the next player.*

On more than one occasion President Truman referred to the desk sign in public statements. For example, in an address at the National War College on December 19, 1952 Mr. Truman said, "You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you -- and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here' -- the decision has to be made." In his farewell address to the American people given in January 1953, President Truman referred to this concept very specifically in asserting that, "The President--whoever he is--has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That's his job. (Emphasis SWJ)

The sign has been displayed at the Library since 1957.

The Future Economic War

November 25, 2014 

The Director of the National Security Agency said he expects a major cyberattack against the U.S. in the next decade. “It’s only a matter of the ‘when,’ not the ‘if,’” Admiral Michael Rogers said, “that we are going to see something dramatic.”1

Both China and Russia are suspected of having the capability to infiltrate U.S. computer systems that control the electrical grid, nuclear power plants, air traffic control, and subway systems. China routinely employs its hacking prowess.

“There are two kinds of big companies in the United States,” the Director of the FBI, James Comey, said recently. “There are those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese, and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.”2

The government of China is the world’s largest, most successful, and most public thief. Europe’s response? Silence. America’s response? Silence.

“You can just do literally almost anything you want,” Adm. Rogers said, “and there isn’t a price to pay for it.”

On President Obama’s recent visit to China, he triumphantly announced a diplomatic coup: Beginning immediately, he would impose upon American corporations penalties and restrictions to decrease carbon emissions, while China promised to do the same by the year 2030. So fourteen years after he leaves office, Mr. Obama will send a letter to the president of China, reminding him to shut down several thousand coal burning plants and turn out the lights in ten million Chinese homes.

Given this style of bargaining, it is no wonder that Mr. Obama did not insist that China desist from its global and systematic cyber theft. Nor have American and multinational corporations exerted any leverage to prevent the stealing. Perhaps they are terrorized by the prospect that China would retaliate by barring them from its consumer market.

In any event, economic sanctions historically have a poor track record, because they affect the whole population of a nation, while its leaders are less deprived. One exception was the American embargo of its oil exports to Japan. This helped motivate Japan to expand its war in Southeast Asia. The oil embargo imposed in the ‘90s against Iraq did not loosen the grip for Saddam Hussein. The financial strictures applied against Iran in 2011 did cause the regime great consternation, until relaxed when Iran agreed to interminable negotiations about its implacable quest to develop nuclear weapons. Certainly there are some restrictions upon Chinese exports that could be imposed in retaliation for its cyber theft. But so far, the administration has been content to issue arrest warrants for a few Chinese generals quite content to live in Beijing.

LCS Collects Another Soul

November 26, 2014

You can add this to your list of evidence that one of the most negative secondary effects of the dog’s breakfast program that is the sub-optimal LCS, is the impact it is having on the credibility of our senior uniformed leadership.

Everything they (not the royal "we" I disowned any defense of LCS a decade ago) serve up in defense of the Little Crappy Ship winds up being a thin gruel and weak cheese buffet that rarely survives the follow-up question. Each time they make the effort to fill in for an industry spokesman, the more they let their professional capital drain through the scupper.

The latest to wallow in, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michelle Howard, USN. Via Valerie Insinna at NationalDefense, let’s roll up our pants and get squishy with it;

“My biggest concern and challenge is whether or not we end up being sequestered. That is my biggest concern and challenge to the LCS and the mission modules and for us to be able to replace those aging mine countermeasure ships out there,” she saidIf that is your largest worry about LCS, then you've been in the Beltway too long. 

My largest concern with LCS is that it is going to force Maritime Component Commanders to order Sailors to go in to harm's way with an unnecessarily impotent warship with a glass jaw ... but ya'll know that.

Sequetor or not, if LCS is not funded, it is because it is not enough of a priority in the world's largest shipbuilding budget. It isn't a priority because there are things that are more likely to be of value ... because LCS is a fetish program, not a sound basis for a meaningful warship. Full stop. 

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert testified on Capitol Hill in September that if sequester is reinstated, the Navy will only be able to maintain a force of about 250 to 255 ships, she said. Today, it has a force of about 290, which means that “over the course of five years, we would have to reduce that force structure in order to keep other ships ready."Of course it won't, and it has been unrealistic to try to sell a 313, 300, 290 ship Fleet with the known macro-budgetary issues in addition with full knowledge of what was coming after the 2009 election. 

This has been a reality for half a decade for those who have seen the broader picture. In the face of a realistic budget, the Tiffany Navy pushed, planned, and built under CNOs Clark, Mullen, and Roughead set up following CNOs with the task of slowly walking the happy talk back, while they collected consultant fees from retirement. The last decade I warned of 240 - which was on the low end for even my estimates - well, 250 to 255 is now USN's worse case in the open? As Kaplan said with us seven years ago, American's Elegant Decline - indeed. All by choice.

Re-examining the Roles of Landpower in the 21st Century and Their Implications

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After 13 years of prolonged ground combat, a weary American public is leery of further interventions requiring land forces. Shifting geostrategic conditions, such as a revanchist Russia and a rising China, reinforce this reluctance. At the same time, technological innovation once more offers the chimera of war from a distance that does not endanger land forces. Nonetheless, at some point, a highly volatile international security environment will place U.S. national interests at risk, requiring the use of military power. Given the increasing rise of interdependence among all components of military power (air, cyberspace, land, sea, and space), a better understanding of Landpower is essential if national leaders are to have a full range of policy options for protecting and promoting those interests. Landpower, “the ability—by threat, force, or occupation—to gain, sustain, exploit control over land, resources, and people,” stems from a country’s geostrategic conditions, economic power, population, form of government, and national will. The military elements of Landpower include a country’s ground forces, the institutions that generate and sustain those forces, and the human dimension—intelligent, highly adaptable, and innovative individuals—so vital to the successful employment of Landpower. Landpower offers policymakers tremendous utility in peace, crisis, or war, because Landpower can defeat, deter, compel, reassure, engage, and support the nation. Within each of these roles, as well as across them, Landpower can carry out the broadest range of military operations. This versatility across the spectrum of conflict offers national leaders the greatest number of effective policy options.

What It Means To Kill in Combat

November 26, 2014

Last week, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the USJoint Chiefs of Staff, told a Congressional committee that his office was still considering whether or not the US should send ground troops to Iraq to fight ISIL (a.k.a. the Islamic State). Some in Congress and the military think the idea is past due, and that only American combat troops can neutralize the threat ISIL poses to Syria, Iraq, and beyond.

Phil Zabriskie, a writer living in New York, is the author of The Kill Switch. Previously, he lived and worked throughout Asia and the Middle East, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Full Bio

With Chuck Hagel’s resignation as defense secretary on Nov. 24—not to mention a move to slow the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan—a shift in policy may indeed be in the offing. But what everyone must understand is that if boots are put on the ground and a fighting war begins, American servicemen will not only likely be killed, but will also be killing.

That may sound obvious. Of course combat soldiers have to kill. And yet over the past year, as I’ve been reporting and writing about killing in combat—a project born from time spent covering the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and several other countries over the past decade—I’ve seen that this part of combat, obvious though it may be, remains one of the least discussed and most overlooked, despite the profound implications it has for all involved.

On some level, this is not surprising. Killing is a hard thing for civilians and leaders alike to address because it lays bare what war actually involves—something many would rather not know—and because it would make these wars far more disruptive, at least psychologically, than we were told they were supposed to be. Furthermore, many veterans themselves don’t know how or when to talk about it, particularly with people who have never fought. All they know is that they loathe the “hey-did-you-kill-anyone?” voyeurism they too often encounter.

Killing is a hard thing for civilians and leaders alike to address because it lays bare what war actually involves

The U.S. Army Has Quietly Created a New Commando Division 1st Special Forces Command brings together thousands of Green Berets

On Sept. 30, the U.S. Army unceremoniously stood up a new headquarters—the 1st Special Forces Command—at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The division-level unit brings together more than 15,000 Green Berets and other special troops in a single new organization.

Previously, the Army’s Special Operations Command had directly controlled all of these troops plus others on a wide range of missions. The idea behind the new HQ is to assemble a force specifically tailored for dealing with what the Pentagon calls “hybrid warfare.”

Simply put, hybrid warfare is a blend of straight-up traditional combat—with infantry, tanks and artillery—and secretive insurgency. Probably the biggest practitioner of hybrid warfare is Russia.

Just look at what’s going on in Ukraine, where Russian-supplied separatist insurgents are fighting alongside disguised Russian troops in an attempt to seize territory from the government in Kiev and bring it under Moscow’s sway.

Among other tasks, the U.S. Army’s new 1st Special Forces Command could help the ground combat branch counter hybrid warfare—by sending Green Beret advisers to train, advise and lead native troops in embattled countries.

“This is … a real requirement based on Russia’s hybrid warfare approach, as well as the need for partners in places like Libya, Syria and Iraq, where we want to help stabilize the chaos,” Navy captain Robert Newson, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said of the new Army HQ.

“This reorganization has been in the planning roughly a year,” the Army’s main Special Forces headquarters explained. “[The Command] will not be fully capable until July 2015.”

To be fair, training foreign fighters—“unconventional warfare,” the military calls it—has long been a main mission for Army Special Forces, albeit one that had fallen out of favor recently.

After 9/11, the Pentagon deployed Special Forces and Army Rangers, Navy SEALs and other Special Operations Forces all over the world to fight insurgents and hunt terrorists. They largely took “direct action”—hitting the bad guys on their own—rather than working through local forces.

But from the 1940s into the 1990s, the Special Forces mostly practiced unconventional warfare—indirect action, if you will, and the focus of the new 1st Special Forces Command. In that way, the new HQ brings Special Forces “back to its roots,” said Newson, a SEAL officer who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen.

This indirect method of warfare is ideal in situations where an American presence could be “too costly or be counter-productive,” Newson explained.

Above—American commandos during an exercise in 2012. At top—a Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan. Army photos

James Cook University experimental battlefield ‘hibernation’ treatment ‘fast tracked’ by US Special Operations Command

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

Fight for life ... Australian and Afghan troops race to evacuate the civilian victims of a Taliban roadside bomb in Oruzgan Province. A new combination of drugs to be administered in the first 10 minutes after sustaining serious injuries such as gunshots is intended to put victims into “hibernation”. Source: Defence Source: News Limited

WHEN a soldier gets shot, time is a killer: As the blood flows, the heart and brain starts to shut down. But a new battlefield treatment seeks to reprogram the body’s response — and save lives.

It’s the first 10 minutes after being shot that count most, says Dr Geoffrey Dobson of Queensland’s James Cook University.

Shock overwhelms the body. The heart can stop as blood-pressure levels fall below the minimum needed to sustain the vital organs.

But new techniques being investigated to kick-start the heart after cardiac surgery may evolve into a “hibernation” treatment to help save lives in the dusty fields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Along with Research Associate Hayley Letson, Dr Dobson and the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine have received $550,000 from US Special Operations Command to fast track their new emergency treatment.

“During the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 87 per cent of all deaths among allied soldiers occurred in the first 30 minutes, before they could get to a hospital,” Dr Dobson says. “Nearly a quarter of these, almost a thousand people, were classified as having potentially survivable wounds. Time was the killer.”

But US — and Australian — special forces teams will soon have new hope if wounded far behind enemy lines.

“The idea of our research is to save that thousand lives,” Dr Dobson says.

Rapid reaction ... Keeping soldiers alive long enough for help to arrive is the goal of a fast-tracked James Cook University program. Source: Defence Source: Supplied

“Our treatment cancels out the shock and puts them in a low-blood pressure, hibernation-like state. You want to dial-in the right blood pressure to prevent further blood loss but high enough to keep the major organs, including the brain, going.”

The new emergency drug treatment is delivered in two stages, directing about 100 mils of medication into the veins or blood marrow. This reduces the need for immediate hefty blood transfusions which can shock the body a second time.

Shot one is intended to kickstart the heart in the critical first few minutes after a severe wounded.

Shot two is aimed at reprogramming the soldier’s metabolism into hibernation mode, buying enough time to allow an emergency evacuation.

Armor: Kornet Clobbers Abrams

November 26, 2014: The American M1 Abrams tank suffered its first heavy losses in Iraq during 2014. Nearly a third of the 140 M1s Iraq had received between 2010 and 2012 have been destroyed or heavily damaged. Most of the M1 damage was done to M1s captured by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and then attacked by American aircraft. But over a third of the M1s were destroyed or damaged by ISIL fighters. The Iraqi troops using the M1s did not, as they were taught by the Americans, use their M1s in conjunction with infantry. This allowed ISIL fighters to get close enough to M1s during combat to place explosives and disable or destroy some of these M1s. A few were destroyed by Russian Kornet ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles). The Kornet E is a Russian laser guided missile with a range of 5,000 meters. The launcher has a thermal sight for use at night or in fog. The missile's warhead can penetrate enough modern tank armor to render the side armor of the Israeli Merkava or U.S. M1 tanks vulnerable. The missile weighs 8.2 kg (18 pounds) and the launcher 19 kg (42 pounds). The system was introduced in 1994 and has been sold to Syria (who apparently passed them on to Hezbollah and Hamas). ISIL captured some Kornets in Syria. 

Iraq had some in 2003 and four M1s were disabled, but not destroyed, by Kornets. In 2006 several Israeli Merkavas were destroyed by Kornet. By 2014 Israel had adopted anti-ATGM systems for their Merkavas which defeated over a dozen Kornet attacks. 

Before 2014 no M1s had been destroyed by enemy action, but that was in large part because they were used by well-trained crews and commanders. Moreover nearly all the American M1s that had been in combat had better armor. This impressed Iraq. Back in 2008 Iraq ordered 140 M1A1-SA Abrams tanks, along with over a hundred support vehicles (for maintenance and transportation, like 35 tank transporters). The request includes training and technical support, for a total contract cost of over $2 billion. The tanks began arriving in 2010 and all were delivered by 2012. 

Iraq received newly built tanks, largely equipped to the "SA" (Situational Awareness") standard the U.S. Army developed in 2006. The M1A1-SA includes the latest thermal (FLIR, or heat sensing) sights, a special engine air filter system developed to deal with the abundant sand and dust in Iraq, the telephone on the rear fender, which allows accompanying infantry to communicate with the crew, and numerous small improvements. 


November 26, 2014 
Then he almost fell flat on his face on the floor,

When I picked up the chalk and drew one letter more!

A letter he had never dreamed of before!

And I said “You can stop, if you want, with the Z,

“Because most people stop with the Z,

“But not me!”

– Theodore Seuss Geisel, On Beyond Zebra

On November 15th, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memothat established “The Defense Innovation Initiative.” The program is intended to determine new ways to sustain and advance American military superiority in the twenty-first century. The Secretary and Deputy Secretary Bob Work have determined that our dominance in some key areas is slipping and a new initiative is needed to maintain the military upper hand we have come to expect.

There has been foreshadowing of the announcement in the defense mediaand from think tanks. It has come in terms of the newest and most powerful of today’s Beltway catchphrases: The Offset Strategy. We have been educated on the history of the First Offset provided by nuclear weapons, and the Second Offset which was the result of precision-guided munitions. We have been shown the exciting possibilities of robotics and unmanned systems, as well as commercial technology’s role in speeding future development. Secretary Hagel’s memo tells us that we need a research and development program that looks far into the future to develop the breakthrough technologies that will be central to America’s future military dominance.

There has also been some good discussion of the downsides to the historical analogy used by the offset idea. The technological determinismembedded in the concept has been questioned. There are also some conceptual issues with equating procurement policy to military strategy. But there’s more to the Defense Innovation Initiative than this one concept.


“It’s great to be someplace where ‘boots on the ground’ is not an insult.” With these words, Secretary of the Army John McHugh kicked-off last month’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting. He continued, to raucous applause, that the United States is, as President Obama termed it, “the indispensable nation,” and that, “we are the indispensible Army of that indispensible nation.”

Good meat and potatoes stuff for an Army crowd, but Secretary McHugh’s words tend to fall on deaf ears outside the medal-bedecked battalions assembled within the AUSA convention hall. Does anyone else share Secretary McHugh’s views? As the Army defines itself for the future, how does it make sure “boots on the ground” is a compliment rather than an insult, and how does it remain “an indispensible Army”?

The answer is not where you expect it to be. It lies far from the plains of the Cold War’s Fulda Gap, the deserts and valleys of Syria and Iraq, and the mountains of Afghanistan. In fact, the answer lies in the Asia-Pacific region where nearly 80% of the area is water. This is hardly a place one would imagine “boots on the ground” making the case for an indispensible Army. We would expect “flippers in the water” to be a more relevant theme.

Thousands of miles from the Army’s traditional and more recent stomping grounds of Europe and the Middle East, and many time zones away from where Americans go about their day, the United States Army in the Pacific is training its soldiers under a new concept called “Pacific Pathways.” Pacific Pathways provides a model that smartly uses Army forces overseas. It is a model that assures Americans that their military is keeping them safe from threats abroad, shows commitment to our friends and allies overseas, and demonstrates U.S. resolve to confront our adversaries.

Pacific Pathways is the brainchild of General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC). He recognized that President Obama’s decision to “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region” presented the Army with a tremendous opportunity. Two decisions strengthened General Brooks’ hand. During the previous 12 years, departures of the 25th Infantry Division to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan left large holes in the number of sizeable ground forces immediately available to respond to needs throughout the Pacific. Aside from the very capable, but smaller U.S. Marine Corps, the commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, Admiral Sam Locklear, had few ground force options. In 2011, the Army made the decision to stop deploying the 25thInfantry Division to Iraq or Afghanistan, thus making the division’s soldiers, 16,000-strong, available full time to the Pacific. Quickly falling-in on the heels of that decision, the Army took I Corps, the 3-star headquarters based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside of Seattle, and provided it to General Brooks for his use. These two decisions gave General Brooks a 3-star headquarters and a division’s worth of soldiers with geographical proximity to the Asia-Pacific region. And thus, Pacific Pathways became a reality.

The Long Gray Online

A core group of mid-grade officers are changing the way professional discussions, doctrinal analysis, and institutional innovations take place in the Army. Like the famous interwar dialogue between Patton and Eisenhower that later found battlefield application during WWII, this group is attempting to foster a smarter, more relevant Army. Unlike those dialogues, they are using the internet and military blogging to drive change and new ideas, aligning with theculture of innovation that defense leaders hope will ensure advantage over potential future adversaries. Initially born of tactical-level information sharing on junior-officer message boards during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this movement is comprised of officers now working at the field-grade officer level—Major through Colonel—having traded tactical discussions for institutional ones.

‘Bridge’ to Somewhere

One fundamental aspect of this movement is its self-directed nature, with officers taking it upon themselves to foster robust discussion on Army initiatives, publications, and formal doctrine as they are released. For example, a blog run by Nate Finney, Rich Ganske, and Mikhail Grinberg, The Bridge, takes on junior to mid-grade leaders’ (and even civilian defense professionals’) perspectives on everything from the elements of national power to recent military service concepts.

The first series run by The Bridge asked a group of national security professionals to provide their theory of power and its application and started a conversation on its application in our current national security space. The discussions were collected into a compendium and have been used in professional military education courses for multiple military services. The second focused on the recently-published Army Operating Concept and invited comments from military professionals and members of the public on the merits and failures of one of the Army’s most important institutional document for developing the future force.

Army to Revamp, Simplify Mobile Command Posts

By Stew Magnuson 
December 2014 

To hear Army leaders describe it, assembling the typical mobile command post is organized chaos.

They comprise a mishmash of different operating systems and applications, most of which require their own monitors or servers. There is little interoperability. A small cadre of field service representatives — civilian contractors — have to stand by to ensure that everything runs smoothly, or worse fly halfway around the world just to install updates.

“We have an enormous amount of systems that fit into an Army command post. ... a huge amount of systems, resources and people that go in to setting them up and operating them,” said Phillip Minor, deputy director for the common operating environment at the office of the assistant secretary of the Army acquisition logistics and technology.

The Army now has a goal to revamp and simplify the posts by 2019 called the command post computing environment project, Minor said at the Milcom conference in Baltimore. That will require changing a system that has somewhere near 30 different computing systems for 30 different applications managed by about five different program managers.

To tackle this problem, the Army is in the beginning stages of radically changing the way it acquires, maintains and uses information technology and software. Part of this effort is creating the “common operating environment,” a streamlined and simplified software backbone that every application will ride on, Minor said.

The common operating environment will be interoperable, but divided into three categories: mobile handheld for dismounted troops, mounted for vehicles and aircraft and command posts. Each category will have its own program manager.

“If I develop IT for a dismounted soldier, I have different considerations than I would if I’m developing IT for a major command center,” Minor said.

The command posts are a ripe target for the Army to radically alter, other leaders said at the conference.

28 November 2014

Opening in the Valley

Written by H S Panag | Posted: November 28, 2014 1

THE high voter turnout in the first phase of elections in Jammu and Kashmir is hopefully indicative of the trend and provides a great opportunity for the Centre and the incoming state government to revamp political and military strategy. But military strategy must flow out of political strategy and not vice versa.

Two recent cases have put AFSPA back in the firing line. Earlier this month, two civilians were killed when soldiers fired at their car — a clear overreaction — when it failed to stop at a roadblock in Budgam. The GOC-in-C, Northern Command, has since apologised for the incident and a court of inquiry has indicted nine soldiers, recommending court martial proceedings.

Also, the court martial in the Machil case of April 2010 was concluded this September, though it only made headlines in November. Five army personnel, including the commanding officer of the unit, were cashiered or dismissed from service and awarded life imprisonment. The media coverage has implied that these cases are special, that most past instances of human rights violations have been brushed under the carpet by invoking AFSPA. But in fact, over the years, more than a hundred court martials have been held by the army in cases of human rights violations, with sentences ranging from dismissal to life imprisonment. The army’s track record in investigating and punishing human rights violations has been exemplary.

The Machil encounter was an open-and-shut case of rogue behaviour. By the end of May 2010, investigations had prima facie established that it was fake. This led to violent protests, to which security forces had to respond, which led to yet more violent protests — 112 civilians died between June and September. After initial denials, the army ordered a court of inquiry. By the end of December 2010, it was concluded that the case warranted disciplinary action against the accused. This delay was a serious lapse on the part of the brigade and division commanders. Most senior commanders can tell if an encounter is genuine. Its circumstances, the number of rounds fired, casualties, the type/ condition of weapons recovered, police and intelligence reports and press coverage leave little room for doubt. In Machil, the unit stood by its story, but the higher commanders were also complicit in trying to safeguard the reputation of the unit, the formation and the army.

Unfriendly neighbour - Stronger rule in Delhi has not changed Pakistan's attitude

Kanwal Sibal

With a tougher leader and a stronger government in Delhi, it would have been normal for our neighbours to examine whether they needed to review their India-related policies. In a positive scenario for us, we could have expected them to seek a better understanding with us, work to build greater trust, show more receptivity for our sensitivities, take greater cognizance of our security interests and avoid provocations that could invite a more robust response from a more self-confident government.

One could have also thought that, with the increased international attention that the Narendra Modi government was getting, the rising interest in the Indian market because of the prime minister's business-friendly credentials and the likelihood of the reforms process gaining momentum under his leadership, they would think of promoting greater economic links with India.

They might have concluded, too, that the Indian prime minister is very pragmatic in his thinking, that he wants good relations with all major countries irrespective of outstanding problems, including with China, and that this all-round bridge-building might require them to reassess whether they had the same external cards to play against India as in the past.

In actual fact, early signs are that in spite of the Modi government's emphasis on good-neighbourly ties and gestures in reaching out to our neighbours, not all of them are redefining their approach towards India. Pakistan, of course, stands out as a prime example of this and signals from Sri Lanka are not comforting.

Pakistan is a unique case. Unless it ceases to think that its national mission is to counter India with all means, including terrorism, our differences will defy reasonable solutions. Even now there is no sign that Pakistan has changed its basic thinking towards India. It continues to harp on Kashmir, feeling no need to rethink its sterile position even after 67 years. It is undeterred by the loss of Western support on the issue. The end of the Cold War changed the contours of international relations, but not those of India-Pakistan relations.

An Indian scholar dies in Oxford

Rudrangshu Mukherjee

Tapan Raychaudhuri


Tapan Raychaudhuri died peacefully in Oxford on the night of Wednesday, November 26. He was born in 1926 in Barisal in what is now Bangladesh. He will be mourned across the globe by his many students, his admirers and by all those who enjoyed his and his wife Hashi's outstanding hospitality and affection. The word 'affection' is used advisedly, since the Raychaudhuris in Oxford took under their wing innumerable students, visitors and their families from South Asia. Their home became a haven of fun, stories and good food.

The mourning will go beyond the level of personal memories and recollections because Tapan da - and this is how he was fondly known across generations - was a pioneering historian whose contributions to the writing of modern Indian history straddled various aspects of history.

Raychaudhuri was a legendary student of his generation. He joined Presidency College as an undergraduate in the 1940s and was taught by Sushobhan Sarkar. He finished his MA from the University of Calcutta and then went on to do his doctorate with Jadunath Sarkar. He was only 23 years old when he finished his PhD and this work was to become his first book, Bengal under Akbar and Jahangir. After teaching in Islamia College (now Maulana Azad College), he won a scholarship to go to Oxford where he did a second doctorate from Balliol College. This work was on the trade of the Dutch East India Company and was later published as Jan Company in Coromandel. For his first doctorate Raychaudhuri had taught himself Persian and for the second he learnt Dutch.

His interest in economic history continued after his return to India. He was a key figure in setting up the journal, Indian Economic and Social History Review. He taught economic history at the Delhi School of Economics and in the department of history of Delhi University. He edited with Irfan Habib the first volume of the Cambridge Economic History of India. In the 1980s, his interests shifted to the history of emotions and perceptions in 19th- and 20th-century Bengal. It was a massive project that began with a study of the ideas regarding Europe of certain key men of letters in Bengal. This was published as Europe Reconsidered.

Modi, US and Indian Interests


By Bharat Karnad

Published: 28th November 2014 
Banner headlines and over-the-top television anchors gushing about US president Barack Obama accepting prime minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to be chief guest at the 2015 Republic Day celebrations and frenzied prognostications of what this means for bilateral relations, etc. reveals the Indian media’s and the middle class’ gaga attitude to anything American and, in a nutshell, the problem India has in dealing with the United States. Circus is not conducive to diplomacy, which is precisely what visits by US presidents to this country turn out to be when not diplomatic eye candy.

It is usually domestically beleaguered US presidents who jump at such visits. George W Bush came hither in March 2006 when his star was on the wane, his failed military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan daily eroding his political standing in Washington. With a resurgent Republican Party and the Obama administration in second term funk, the US president needs a foreign policy bump to up his domestic ratings. So, what’s better than visiting “extraordinary” India guaranteed to capture the eyeballs at home?

Modi showed during his Madison Square Garden show that he had the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in the US massively behind him and can, if he chooses to, influence their vote for the Democratic or Republican Party in US elections. This is a completely new phenomenon—the power of the NRIs to push Indian national interest in Western countries, something Modi long ago discovered as Gujarat chief minister. Foreign leaders such as Tony Abbott in Australia are however only now beginning to grasp the importance of cultivating Modi, as did the phalanx of American legislators lining the stage at the New York event that it is not just good foreign policy theatre but courting the wealthy Indian-origin community makes domestic electoral sense.

U.S. plays hardball with India on nuclear deal



As nuclear negotiators and technical experts travel to India next week, the U.S. is taking a tough position on negotiations for the civil nuclear deal and putting the ball firmly in the Indian government’s court.

“India needs to come up with a solution that is workable for the companies to have a viable opportunity to work in India,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, speaking to The Hindu in her first comments since the announcement of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India as the Republic Day chief guest.

Asked if a breakthrough was possible ahead of Mr. Obama’s visit, Ms. Biswal said, “I see there is a lot of hard work ahead and I would not be sanguine about announcing any early breakthrough. What is required right now is not a lot of unrealistic expectations.”

India and the U.S. negotiators have been in a logjam over operationalising the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal of 2008, with objections from the U.S. mainly on the issue of liability to nuclear suppliers under India’s supplier’s liability law. In 2009, India even allocated two locations in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh for the U.S. companies Westinghouse and GE. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. in September, he and Mr. Obama agreed to set up a ‘contact group’ to work through the differences, and even named both private U.S. companies in their joint statement, hoping to “advance dialogue to discuss all implementation issues … for nuclear parks including power plants with Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi technology.”