21 January 2017

** The Debate Over Brexit

James McBride

For decades, the United Kingdom has had an ambivalent and sometimes contentious relationship with the European Union. London has kept its distance from Brussels's authority by negotiating opt-outs from some of the EU's central policies, including the common euro currency and the border-free Schengen area. Even still, the EU's faltering response to recent crises has fueled a renewed euroscepticism. Advocates for a British exit, or Brexit, from the union argued that by reclaiming its national sovereignty, the UK would be better able to manage immigration, free itself from onerous regulations, and spark more dynamic growth.

The victory of the Leave campaign in a June 2016 referendum on the UK's future in the bloc led to tumult in financial markets and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. Now led by Prime Minister Theresa May, the UK must negotiate a new relationship with the EU. With May committing in January 2017 to leaving the EU Single Market, the UK may face the loss of preferential access to its largest trading partner, the disruption of its large financial sector, a protracted period of political uncertainty, and the breakup of the UK itself. Meanwhile, Brexit could accelerate nationalist movements across the continent, from Scotland to Hungary, with unpredictable consequences for the EU. 

** Thinking About Propaganda

By Jacob L. Shapiro

On Jan. 6, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency released findings about Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election. One of the report’s conclusions is that Russia used “overt propaganda” in an influence campaign designed to destabilize the American election and put Donald Trump in the White House. This type of psychological warfare is not novel. Opposing sides in conflicts have tried to use information to weaken their opponents for millennia. The advent of newspapers, radio and television increased the potential potency of propaganda to such an extent that it became one of the key instruments that nation-states used in the 20th century to achieve foreign policy goals, alongside diplomacy and military force. The emergence of the internet and social media have cast that net even wider, and with so much concern about the potential deleterious effects of propaganda and “false news,” it is worth taking some time to understand the inherent complexity around this battlefield for hearts and minds.

MOUNTAINS OF TROUBLE


Brahma Chellaney, Nikkei Asian Review

Whie it has become fashionable to pair China and India as if they were joined at the hip, it is often forgotten that the two have little in common politically, economically or culturally.

Comparatively speaking, the countries are new neighbors. The vast Tibetan plateau, encompassing an area greater than Western Europe, separated the two civilizations throughout history, limiting interaction to sporadic cultural and religious contacts.

It was only after China’s annexation of Tibet in 1951 that Chinese army units appeared for the first time on India’s Himalayan frontiers. This was followed 11 years later by a war in which China’s battlefield triumph sowed the seeds of greater rivalry.

Today, Tibet remains at the center of the China-India divide, fueling territorial disputes, diplomatic tensions and feuds over river-water flows. For example, Beijing was harshly critical of New Delhi in December for allowing the exiled Dalai Lama — who has lived in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959 — to visit the presidential palace for a public event and meet President Pranab Mukherjee, India’s head of state.

How to Win in Afghanistan

Dana Rohrabacher

Fifteen years, thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars later, the United States has failed to meet most of its key objectives in Afghanistan. Mission failed.

Now what? Our current approach, if allowed to continue, guarantees a chaotic future for Afghanistan and an open door for radical Islamists in Central Asia.

Such a state of affairs would herald a major strategic defeat for the United States. Islamists ultimately seek to seize control in both Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and then expand into Central Asia.

A debacle in Afghanistan means we may face another global conflict. Turkey has morphed into an Islamic state, and the Gulf states are financing radical Sunni terror groups meant to encircle and contain the mullahs in Iran—including extremists in Afghanistan.

Will the Islamists achieve their objectives? No, and we do not want to find out. They need to be defeated now, while the situation is still manageable. An alternative strategy can avert a strategic catastrophe later.

India-Pakistan Winter Preparation-Strategy Is Not a Plan

By Prateek Kapil 

After an eventful year for India-Pakistan relations, the Governor of J&K delivered[1] the address to the budget session of the J&K assembly, contents of which could prove critical for the coming year. The address covered all areas of governance. He insisted on holding the Panchayat elections by March 2017 followed by election for local urban bodies as soon as possible. The initial issues around elected panchs indirectly electing the sarpanch delayed the passing of the bill. But the Governor gave his consent to the bill and the matter is now for the government to implement. Therefore, successful conduct of elections is a priority.

“A worrying concern is that the younger generation, especially in the Valley, is less engaged civically, exhibits less social trust and confidence and, consequently, have a weaker commitment to the inherited value systems,” Mr Vohra said[2], adding that addressing this serious issue had to receive very high priority and they needed to urgently go forward to engage the youth. “While it is important that the Indo-Pak dialogue gets resumed early, it is equally important that conversations happen within families, across villages, in towns and cities to build a social and moral consensus so that a congenial atmosphere is created for the government to take the required initiatives for securing peace and development,” he said[3]

Sustained Optimism

S. Binodkumar Singh

Articulating new hopes of prosperity, coexistence and reconciliation, President Maithripala Sirisena, in his New Year message on January 1, 2017, declared, “The year 2017 dawns with new hopes of prosperity, coexistence and reconciliation in our hearts. It is imperative that we overcome the challenges ahead of us. The progress of the human race was pioneered by people who faced challenges with confidence, utmost courage and determination amidst obstacles. Our goals could be achieved if we manage our work efficiently and productively, and do the right thing at the right time with unwavering commitment to serve the greater good.” Similarly, the Leader of the Opposition and of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan, in his message of greetings for the New Year, noted, “2017 will be a crucial year in the history of our country. Our expectation is that we should find a permanent and lasting solution to the national question. The new Constitution in the New Year should bring about this achievement.”

On March 9, 2016, the Sri Lankan Parliament unanimously and without a vote, approved the change of the Parliament into a Constitutional Assembly (CA) to draft a new Constitution for the island nation. The new Constitution is expected to replace the current executive President-headed Constitution adopted in 1978 and to replace it with a Parliamentary system. It could also partially replace the Proportional Representation system by the First Past the Post System. District-wise constituencies are also likely to be partially replaced by smaller constituencies and preferential votes for candidates in a party list could be abolished entirely.

*** The battle for Mosul in maps

By Paul Torpey, Pablo Gutiérrez and Paul Scruton

In June 2014, when the leader of Isis, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a global caliphate, he did it from Mosul, Iraq’s second city. Isis rapidly expanded its territory in Iraq and Syria throughout that year, but has since been gradually pushed back, partly due to US-led airstrikes. Losing Mosul now could spell the end of the jihadi group’s ability to control large swaths of Iraq.

The long-awaited operation to take back Mosul began on 16 October, involving a coalition of more than 30,000 troops drawn from Iraqi army forces, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shia militias, supported by airstrikes from a US-led coalition. Turkish forces are also involved despite Iraqi government opposition.

Independent Russian Analysts Argue Moscow Secretly Cooperating With the Islamic State -


In seeking to extract benefits from a disaster, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly been willing to actually manufacture such disasters so that their time, place and nature give him maximum advantage for action. Indeed, he has repeatedly demonstrated this tendency since 1999, when the Russian security services allegedly orchestrated the Moscow apartment bombings that brought him to power (John B. Dunlop, The Moscow Bombings of September 1999: Examinations of Russian Terrorist Attacks at the Onset of Vladimir Putin’s Rule, Stuttgart: Ibidem, 2012; David Satter, Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State, Yale University Press, 2003; Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky, Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within, London: Gibson Square Books, 2007; “Putin’s Way,” Frontline, PBS, January 13, 2015). The West’s collective unwillingness to recognize this pattern has prevented many from seeing Putin for who he is or recognizing why it would be entirely out of character for him not to be actively involved with the Islamic State terrorist organization, a group he claims he is fighting. This controversial Kremlin–Islamic State connection is being increasingly asserted by various Russian analysts (Gordon, September 11, 2016; Graniru.org, December 30, 2016; Nv.ua), December 31, 2016).

The Simple Reason Russia and America Keep Inching towards Crisis

Ted Galen Carpenter

Tensions between the United States and Russia rose rapidly during the final months of the Obama administration. Symbolizing that trend is the new deployment of three thousand U.S. troops along with tanks and other military hardware in eastern Poland, directly on that country’s border with Russia. That decision drew an angry rebuke from Moscow.

Long gone was the hope Obama expressed early in his presidency for a “reset” of relations with Russia. Equally obsolete was the president’s ridicule of GOP nominee Mitt Romney for stating that Russia was America’s principal adversary. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” Obama mocked his opponent in a presidential debate.

Since then, bilateral relations have deteriorated rapidly. The United States led the charge to impose economic sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for rebel forces in eastern Ukraine. In its waning weeks in office, the Obama administration imposed a new round of sanctions for Russia’s alleged cyber hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Vice President Joe Biden epitomized Washington’s hard-line attitude when he branded Russia as the most serious threat to the global order.

Populism is reshaping the West. Here’s what we can expect to get.


By Timothy Garton Ash.

Summary: Suppressed for generations, the greed and incompetence of the West’s elites allowed populism to re-emerge. But few understand it. Many confuse it with progressivism. Elites consider it “the bad thing”, when the proles slip their leash. Populism is reshaping western nations. We should understand it. To help us, here is a clear introduction in which a professor at Oxford reviews a new book about populism by a professor at Princeton.

I have used the word “populist” several times without pausing to define it. But isn’t it just a woolly, catch-all term for parties, movements, and presidential candidates we don’t like? What is populism? This is the question addressed in an excellent short book by Jan-Werner Müller, a German scholar who now teaches at Princeton. Müller recalls that Richard Hofstadter once gave a talk titled “Everyone Is Talking about Populism, but No One Can Define It” {at the London School of Economics, 1967}, yet he makes the best effort I have seen to give the term a coherent contemporary meaning.

Populists speak in the name of “the people,” and claim that their direct legitimation from “the people” trumps (the verb has acquired a new connotation) all other sources of legitimate political authority, be it constitutional court, head of state, parliament, or local and state government. Donald Trump’s “I am your voice” is a classic populist statement. But so is the Turkish prime minister’s riposte to EU assertions that a red line had been crossed by his government’s clampdown on media freedom: “The people draw the red lines.” So is the Daily Mail’s front-page headline denouncing three British High Court judges who ruled that Parliament must have a vote on Brexit as “Enemies of the People.” Meanwhile, Polish right-wing nationalists justify an ongoing attempt to neuter Poland’s constitutional court on the grounds that the people are “the sovereign.”

Trump Might Cause ‘the Death of Think Tanks as We Know Them’

By The Washington Post

For decades, Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments and avenues of influence for sponsors of their research. Donald Trump’s incoming administration is bent on breaking that model.

Trump’s appointments have so far have been heavy on business executives and former military leaders. Transition sources tell me the next series of nominations — deputy-level officials at top agencies — will also largely come from business rather than the think tank or policy communities. For example, neither the American Enterprise Institute’s John Bolton nor the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass is likely to be chosen for deputy secretary of state, while hedge fund manager David McCormick is on the shortlist. Philip Bilden, a private equity investment firm executive with no government experience, is expected to be named secretary of the Navy.

The president-elect favors people who have been successful in the private sector and amassed personal wealth over those who have achieved prominence in academic or policy fields. Those close to him, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors…

Pageviews by Countries ; 9 Jun 2015


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Russia, military modernisation and lowering the nuclear threshold

Malcolm Davis

Russia faces real challenges in sustaining its military modernisation efforts, given low oil prices, Western sanctions and the cost of operations in Ukraine and Syria. Despite that, Moscow looks set to continue the program. At its heart is nuclear weapons modernisation. Russia’s most recent military doctrine, released in 2014, continues to emphasise the primacy of nuclear weapons in Russian defence policy, stating:

‘Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against her and (or) her allies, and in the case of an aggression against her with conventional weapons that would put in danger the very existence of the state.’

Three developments suggest a willingness by Russia to use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear attacks in a manner that lowers the threshold of nuclear war. First, the concept of preventative de-escalation is important. A recent IISS analysis explained de-escalation in which limited nuclear war could be used to:

What Is The Relationship Between Rate of Fire and Military Effectiveness?


By Shawn Woodford

Rate of fire doesn’t seem to be important in today’s militaries. I mean, everyone can go “full auto.” Rather, the problem seems to me firing too much and running out of ammunition.

I wonder if this affects how contemporary military historians look at the tactical level of war. Throughout most of history, the problem, it seems to me, was how many rocks, spears, arrows or bullets you could get off. Hence the importance of drill, which was designed to increase the volume of infantry fire (and to reduce people walking off the battlefield when they moved back to reload).

There are several ways to address this question from a historical perspective, but one place to start is to look at how rate of fire relates historically to combat.

Rate of fire is one of several measures of a weapon’s ability to inflict damage, i.e. its lethality. In the early 1960s, Trevor Dupuy and his associates at the Historical Evaluation Research Organization (HERO) assessed whether historical trends in increasing weapon lethality were changing the nature of combat. To measure this, they developed a methodology for scoring the inherent lethality of a given weapon, the Theoretical Lethality Index (TLI). TLI is the product of five factors: 

THE FUTURE OF AIR SUPERIORITY, PART IV: AUTONOMY, SURVIVABILITY, AND GETTING TO 2030

BRIG. GEN. ALEX GRYNKEWICH

We will require fresh thinking to control the skies of the future. Gaining and maintaining air superiority in 2030 will require new concepts of operation. It will require a rejection of platform-based thinking that yearns for a “silver bullet” solution. And it will require airmen and joint leaders able to apply operational art across domains. While these intellectual foundations are certainly the most critical aspects of success in 2030, it is also true that concepts of operation dependent on outdated technology will fail. Any family of capabilities able to solve the 2030 problem will ultimately be comprised of platforms across all domains and from all services. If airmen and joint leaders in 2030 lack key capabilities, it will not matter how skilled they are in warfighting or operational art. The most brilliant commander today, equipped only with the technologies of yesterday, is doomed to fail in combat.

With that in mind, this final installment of this series expands on previous discussions regarding the key attributes of the air superiority 2030 family of capabilities. It will also discuss some of the recommendations our team made with respect to force development and acquisition methodologies.

One of the attributes discussed in the last installment of this series was autonomy. The ECCT saw several uses for autonomous systems in assisting with data and network management. Many readers likely noted that I did not discuss autonomy more broadly, nor did I discuss whether or not our team foresaw future platforms in our air superiority force structure being manned or unmanned. The reason for this is relatively simple: Whether something is manned or unmanned does not provide capability in and of itself. Sometimes it makes sense to have a human present, sometimes it does not. In short, we were agnostic on the topic. If having a human onboard a particular platform makes it more effective, it should have a human on board. If humans limit the capability of a platform, they should be engineered out. Detailed analysis prior to and during the development of each particular capability within the air superiority family should determine the answer to the manned versus unmanned question. Nonetheless, some broad considerations and perspectives on this topic are worth discussing in slightly more detail to inform future assessments.

McCain’s Excellent White Paper: Smaller Carriers, High-Low Weapons Mix, Frigates, Cheap Fighters

By JERRY HENDRIX

Sen. John McCain issued a provocative and comprehensive alternative budget for the Pentagon on Monday, Restoring American Power: Recommendations for the FY 2018-FY 2022 Defense Budget. Jerry Hendrix, a strategy and naval expert at the Center for New American Security, crunched the numbers from McCain’s White Paper and authored this analysis for our readers. Read on. The Editor.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s new White Paper positions the committee as a leader in the Pentagon’s effort to rebuild and reform. The SASC offers a road map with key decision destinations for the new Trump Administration to follow as it pursues its goal of strengthening the nation’s military. The document is both broad and deep in its treatment of defense issues, ranging from the need for a new national grand defense strategy to recommendations on needed investments in cyber security.

Of particular interest and importance is the SASC’s advocacy for the U.S. to buy a high-low mix of weapons systems, a concept that I have advocated for years, as a means of advancing the force technologically for the high-end fight, while also buying cheaper systems in bulk to keep the force size up while addressing day-to-day threats.

Moscow Pursues Enhanced Precision-Strike Capability - See more at: https://jamestown.org/program/moscow-pursues-enhanced-precision-strike-capability/#sthash.V45mcuu6.dpuf

By: Roger McDermott

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin at the defense ministry collegium, December 22, 2016 (Source: kremlin.ru)

Moscow’s defense establishment annually reflects on achievements in modernizing and enhancing combat capability and readiness levels in the Russian Armed Forces. Late last year (December 22, 2016), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu offered such detail with an upbeat message on the Russian military’s operations and exercises as well as the defense ministry’s targets for modernization and improving the personnel system. President Vladimir Putin’s own statement to the defense ministry’s collegium, where Shoigu was speaking, also conveyed this sense of renewed confidence in the military (Kremlin.ru, TASS, December 22, 2016). Public statements by Russia’s top brass and political leadership increasingly link future force development and perspectives on defense requirements to lessons drawn from the country’s involvement in military operations in Syria. And Shoigu confirmed the fruits of such thinking the following month by highlighting plans to boost Russian conventional strike capability by 2021 (see below). The significance of these comments should not be underestimated, reinforcing the idea that Moscow has used the Syria conflict to experiment with various assets and recast some of its future defense plans on this basis.

Shoigu additionally set out the priorities for the Russian defense ministry in 2017. Center place will involve continuing to raise the combat capabilities of the Armed Forces and strengthening the military in all strategic directions. Shoigu said the target for the state defense order will be fully implemented to reach 60 percent modern within the table of organization and equipment (TOE). The strategic rocket forces (RVSN) will receive three missile regiments equipped with modern systems; strategic aircraft will be modernized; while the ministry will procure an additional two brigade sets of the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system. The Army will receive more tanks and armored vehicles; air defense will be strengthened by adding S-400 sets; and the Navy will see eight surface ships enter service (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, January 11, 2017).

Swarming the Battlefield: Combat Evolves Toward Lethal Autonomous Weapons

LEVI MAXEY

War, often rationalized as an extension of policy by violent means, has always been a deeply human experience. It defines much of human history and, unsurprisingly, changes in technology accompany—and are often driven by—adaptations in the conduct of warfare. Battles are increasingly fought at distance, progressing from the thrust of a spear to the click of a button that launches a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone flying thousands of miles away.

Already, decisions of war are reliant on fixed lines of code marching to the tune of predetermined algorithms, swaying the perceptions of military commanders and soldiers alike with their outputs. New advances in artificial intelligence and deep machine learning are further pushing limits of augmenting command and control toward autonomous robotics capable of their own decision-making.

But what has spurred the military development of these autonomous systems and at what point does their advancement create dangers that outweigh the strategic opportunities they present?

Scaling Up the Defence Budget Will Not Make India Combat Ready or Fix Systemic Inefficiencies

BY NIRUPAMA SOUNDARARAJAN AND DNYANADA PALKAR 

The Shekatkar committee report represents a starting point and makes a valuable suggestion – non-combat organisations must be reviewed and restructured. 

Capital expenditure utilisation doesn’t always translate to capital acquisition. Credit: Reuters 

The recommendations of the Shekatkar committee, constituted in May by the defence ministry, were presented in a report to defence minister Manohar Parrikar on December 21, 2016. The report is said to be voluminous, clocking in at over 500 pages and has supposedly made 120 recommendations. 

The 11-member committee, headed by Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar, was meant to provide recommendations for rebalancing the revenue and capital expenditure allocations for defence, for the current budget cycle, and while it is certainly in time for the penultimate Budget of the current government, it may come perhaps a tad too late for implementation in this Budget. 

The committee was set up with the objective of making India’s armed forces combat ready and to specifically “cut the flab” in the revenue expenditure so that more money can be spent on capital expenditure and capital acquisition. 

The State of Economic Decision Making Within India’s Armed Forces is Deteriorating

BY NIRUPAMA SOUNDARARAJAN AND DNYANADA PALKAR 

An analysis of the country’s defence budget allocations not only suggests a lack of integrated planning, but worse, a deterioration in coordination. 

Indian army officers stand on vehicles displaying missiles during the Republic Day parade. Credit: Reuters 

India’s security concerns mandate a strong army, navy and air force where the three wings work cohesively for maximum tactical and operational efficiency. The three wings of India’s armed forces began operating in synergy, owing to the willingness of the respective chiefs, since the war of 1971. The then capability to engage in hybrid warfare gave India the edge that led to victory. However it was only after the Kargil war that the immediate need for an integrated defence staff, chief of defence staff and for a long-term integrated perspective plan (LTIPP) was felt. The establishment of all three was recommended by the Arun Singh Committee in 2000. Despite this, it took twelve years for the first LTIPP (2012-2027) to be drafted. 

In this LTIPP, the armed forces have laid out a 15-year plan for modernisation, strategic engagement and procurement. The technology perspective and capability roadmap (TPCR) is a summary document of the technology and capability requirements of the forces as laid down in LTIPP. The TPCR acknowledges the need for self-reliance in the defence sector and technological development that will help maintain military capability at desired levels. In fact, its focus is on “newly emerging areas of warfare that have been identified as essential for joint war fighting”. The TPCR details the necessity for advancement of joint war technologies and lists the products and weapons platforms that would be required by the different services. Notwithstanding these reports and plans, an analysis of the defence budget allocations not only suggests a lack of integrated planning, but worse, a deterioration in coordination. 

Public Diplomacy and National Security in 2017

Throughout the world, citizens are increasingly flexing their muscles and shaping their governments’ decisionmaking on domestic and foreign affairs. Expanded access to information, facilitated by new media and communication technologies, has greatly empowered nonstate actors and strengthened their role in international politics. In this environment, the U.S. government cannot afford to engage solely in state-to-state diplomacy. The new global landscape requires foreign ministries and diplomats to go beyond bilateral and multilateral diplomacy and broaden and deepen relationships with a broad and diverse range of actors. The public diplomacy (PD) toolkit of informational, educational, and cultural programs is central to this objective by creating and maintaining relationships with influential leaders and opinion-makers in civil society, commerce, media, politics, and faith communities worldwide. This paper attempts to capture the lessons that the U.S. government and PD experts have learned over the past eight years in applying PD tools in order to chart an effective course for the incoming 

administration.Download PDF file of "Public Diplomacy and National Security in 2017" 

Entering the Era of ‘Unmanned Terrorism’


By: Scott N. Romaniuk, Tobias J. Burgers

Over the past four decades, suicide attacks has become the weapon of choice for terrorist organizations from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the Islamist fundamentalists of Islamic State (IS). However, with the advent of consumer drone use by terrorists groups in the Middle East – which has risen significantly in the past year, particularly on the part of IS militants – that may now be on the brink of changing.

Data collected by the Chicago Project on Security & Terrorism (CPOST) on suicide attacks over the past 40 years shows how more than 100 militant groups have experimented with and adapted this form of assault. The data shows how, at different times, different methods have found favor among terrorist groups. Crucially, it also demonstrates a willingness by militant groups to experiment. [1]

Adaptation and Experimentation

Suicide attacks have been undertaken by individuals using various types of devices and methods of delivery. Some examples include wearable devices such as belt bombs, car bombs and other vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs) and explosive devices taken on board airplanes.

India Tackles Terror Financing

By: Roger McDermott

Moscow’s defense establishment annually reflects on achievements in modernizing and enhancing combat capability and readiness levels in the Russian Armed Forces. Late last year (December 22, 2016), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu offered such detail with an upbeat message on the Russian military’s operations and exercises as well as the defense ministry’s targets for modernization and improving the personnel system. President Vladimir Putin’s own statement to the defense ministry’s collegium, where Shoigu was speaking, also conveyed this sense of renewed confidence in the military (Kremlin.ru, TASS, December 22, 2016). Public statements by Russia’s top brass and political leadership increasingly link future force development and perspectives on defense requirements to lessons drawn from the country’s involvement in military operations in Syria. And Shoigu confirmed the fruits of such thinking the following month by highlighting plans to boost Russian conventional strike capability by 2021 (see below). The significance of these comments should not be underestimated, reinforcing the idea that Moscow has used the Syria conflict to experiment with various assets and recast some of its future defense plans on this basis.

Pair of Air Force cyber weapons systems ready for war

By: Mark Pomerleau, 

Late last year, the Air Force declared one of its newest cyber weapons tools initially operationally capable. The tool, the Automated Remediation Asset Discovery (ARAD), is a modification to the Air Force Cyber Security and Control System (CSCS), which was itself declared IOC by Air Force Space Command in 2014.

CSCS, according to an Air Force fact sheet, is a weapons system that is designed to provide 24/7 network operations and management functions enabling key enterprise services within both classified and unclassified Air Force networks as well as supporting defensive cyber operations on those networks.

As outlined in a recent release from 24 th Air Force – home to Air Force’s Cyber – ARAD leverages leading-edge technology to comprehensively modernize and efficiently improve vulnerability management execution, defensive cyber operations, system health, asset management and situational awareness capabilities.

“ARAD brings improved speed and precision across the enterprise. We are excited about the potential ARAD holds to improve our situational awareness and cyberspace defense,” said Brig. Gen. Mitchel Butikofer, 24th Air Force vice commander.

Modern Science: Cooperative Swarmboats


Back in the day, port and harbor defense units were a cooperative venture between manned surveillance units (Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Units or MIUWUs) and manned boats - sometimes Coast Guard Port Security Units (PSUs), sometimes Navy Inshore Boat Units. While the manned boats have proven their worth, they do expose crews to the variety of dangers of both normal operations as well as risks posed by an aggressor.

Now this mission may be assigned to elements of the Naval Maritime Expeditionary Force. In any event, as as been noted here before, the Navy's Office of Naval Research has been pursuing the use of unmanned platforms to take on part of the water work and the capability seems to be getting smarter, as reported by ONI in "Autonomous Swarmboats: New Missions, Safe Harbors":

Using a unique combination of software, radar and other sensors, officials from the Office of Naval Research (ONR)—together with partners from industry, academia and other government organizations—were able to get a “swarm” of rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and other small boats to collectively perform patrol missions autonomously, with only remote human supervision, rather than direct human operation, as they performed their missions.

“This demonstration showed some remarkable advances in autonomous capabilities,” said Cmdr. Luis Molina, military deputy for ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Dept. “While previous work had focused on autonomous protection of high-value ships, this time we were focused on harbor approach defense.”

20 January 2017

*** NATO and the United States

By George Friedman 

President-elect Donald Trump deeply upset the Europeans by raising the possibility that NATO is obsolete and that the European Union is failing. This is not the first time these issues have been raised. Many in the United States have raised questions about Europe’s commitment to NATO and to its relationship with the U.S. Many Europeans also have made the observation that the EU is failing. What Trump has done is simply bring into the open the question of Europe’s relationship with the U.S.

This question has been on the table for 25 years, since the Soviet Union collapsed. NATO was an alliance with a single purpose: to protect Western Europe from a Soviet invasion. That was a clear and understandable goal in the interest of all concerned. The military structure that was created was directed toward that end. And it reflected the relative economic and military strength of each party at the time of NATO’s founding. The Europeans bore the geographical risk. Any war would be fought on their territory, and their forces would face the first wave of an attack. In the long term, American reinforcements, air power and, in an extreme case, nuclear weapons would protect Europe. The foundation of the relationship was that Europe, with the best will, could not afford to build a sufficient defensive force. The U.S. was the indispensable force that could deter and defeat a Soviet attack. 

In this photo illustration, a copy of the Jan. 16 issue of German tabloid Bild Zeitung that features an exclusive interview with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump lies on a table in a train in Berlin, Germany. In the interview, Trump branded German Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal refugee policy a mistake, the NATO military alliance obsolete and threatened German carmakers with 35 percent import tariffs. Sean Gallup/Getty Images 

** How did the US Army’s leadership problem grow so bad?


Summary: The US spends $600 billion on the US military (narrowly defined; almost a trillion broadly), yet repeatedly fails to defeat our poorly trained and equipped foes. In this chapter of our series asking “why”, Don Vandergriff points to ways the Army selects and promotes officers (its problems are usually about people; seldom about hardware). Tomorrow he discusses solutions.

Vandergriff (Major, Army, retired) is a long-time co-author on the FM website and one of America’s foremost experts on ways to reform the military’s personnel systems. See his bio here. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Seeing leadership as Chess: it’s a path to defeat.

The US military has a leadership problem. It’s visible in the deterioration of soldiers’ confidence in the leaders, shown by the 2014 Military Times survey asking 2,300 active-duty soldiers about their lives. Over only 5 years their answer grew much darker.

There is much more evidence. Such as “Pentagon investigations point to military system that promotes abusive leaders” (WaPo, 28 Jan 2014). This article in the Jan-Feb 2013 Military Review made waves: “Narcissism and Toxic Leaders“, Joe Doty (Lt. Colonel, US Army, Retired) and Jeff Fenlason (Master Sergeant, US Army). Also see these two posts about the recent scandals in the officer corps: looking at the scandals and asking why so many.

There is a lot happening in the Army’s culture below the visible surface.
A diagnosis of the problem

I have been writing since 1999 that the Army — in fact, all the services — has an antiquated personnel system, the deep cause of their many disparate problems.

** Trump Might Cause ‘the Death of Think Tanks as We Know Them’

By The Washington Post

For decades, Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments and avenues of influence for sponsors of their research. Donald Trump’s incoming administration is bent on breaking that model.

Trump’s appointments have so far have been heavy on business executives and former military leaders. Transition sources tell me the next series of nominations — deputy-level officials at top agencies — will also largely come from business rather than the think tank or policy communities. For example, neither the American Enterprise Institute’s John Bolton nor the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass is likely to be chosen for deputy secretary of state, while hedge fund manager David McCormick is on the shortlist. Philip Bilden, a private equity investment firm executive with no government experience, is expected to be named secretary of the Navy.

The president-elect favors people who have been successful in the private sector and amassed personal wealth over those who have achieved prominence in academic or policy fields. Those close to him, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors…

** Pathankot attack: Questions that were never asked about the terror strike

By Lieutenant General Prakash Katoch (retired)

Much has been written about the recent terror strike in Pathankot and more such material will be produced. The discovery of US Army military binoculars used by terrorists makes it obvious that they were trained and equipped by the Pakistani army. The discussion in media has veered toward massive deficiencies in equipping National Security Guard (NSG) commandos. Some of these shortcomings stood out during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Following the blasts at Zhaveri Bazaar in Mumbai, and Delhi High Court, the focus was on CCTVs not working.

This time, it is equipping the NSG; will we then forget Pathankot till the next terror strike? Ironically, among the many questions about command and control, coordination and time taken in responding to the Pathankot attack, some fundamental questions were never asked and some systemic deficiencies remain unaddressed.

Following reports of infiltration across the International Border (IB) and indications of terrorists heading towards Pathankot, the Indian Air Force base was correctly assessed as the prime target and the strategic assets moved out before terrorists entered the base on 1 January, which merits high commendation. The mechanics of our response with NSG as the lead force is public knowledge by now but some facts would still be of interest, like:

1. On the fourth day of the operation, a journalist rang up army headquarters to ascertain the ground situation in the IAF base. He was told that he should ring up the Ministry of Home Affairs which controlled the operation through the NSG.

* North Africa’s Next War

By HANNAH ARMSTRONGJAN.

TIFARITI, Western Sahara — Uninhabited and less than three miles long, the rocky, flat area known as Guerguerat falls under no formal government rule. It lies near North Africa’s Atlantic coast, some 40 miles north of Nouadhibou, a thriving Mauritanian port city. The main industry — if you can call it that — is smuggling. And it could be the place where Africa’s next war begins.

Since August, this remote area has been the site of a standoff between two enemies that have been at an impasse for more than two decades: Morocco and the Polisario Front. Not since 1991 have they been closer to war.

The United Nations uses the sanitizing term “non-self-governing” to describe the Western Sahara, and has since 1963, when it was still a Spanish colony. When Spain withdrew its territorial claim in 1975, Morocco annexed the territory. After some 16 years of war, the two sides signed a cease-fire and a de facto border emerged. Morocco controls two-thirds of the Western Sahara, which it deems its “southern provinces.” The Polisario Front, a movement of indigenous Western Saharans that first formed to fight for independence from Spain, controls the remaining third, which it calls the “free zone.”

I recently traveled to the free zone. There is no phone service, no GPS and not a single paved road. To navigate, drivers rely on memories of where rocky outcroppings and dried riverbeds stand in relation to one another. The ground is mainly granitic, with waves of petrified forests, meteorites and land mines.

Creating a ‘smart city’ from the ground up in India

By Abhishek Lodha and Subbu Narayanswamy

Abhishek Lodha is managing director of the privately held Lodha Group, one of India’s largest real-estate developers. It is currently building Palava, a 4,500-acre greenfield city near Mumbai. Construction started in 2010, and the first residents arrived in 2014. In an interview with Subbu Narayanswamy, a Mumbai-based McKinsey senior partner who leads the firm’s work in real estate globally, Lodha spoke about India’s rapidly evolving real-estate sector and what it takes to build a city of the future.

McKinsey: How do you see India’s real-estate market evolving? Where is the greatest potential for growth?

Abhishek Lodha: India is among the fastest-growing major economies in the world, but organized real estate has a small base. Any projections on India’s population and likely GDP growth over the next 10 to 15 years automatically imply growth for real estate. No major economy has grown without this happening. Real estate is a feeder to the consumption cycle because it allows wealth to grow on the asset side. As people become affluent, one of the most important things they want to upgrade is where they live and work. If India grows, real estate will do well. The big question is: how fast and sustainably can India grow?

** Pakistan: A Conditional Saudi Ally


Despite the countries' similarities, Saudi Arabia is struggling to persuade Pakistan to increase its participation in the Islamic Military Alliance, a loose coalition of Muslim countries that Riyadh formed in 2015. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have much in common. Each country considers itself to be at the vanguard of the Muslim world, and both are home to predominantly Sunni populations. In spite of their similarities, however, the two countries are struggling to forge closer military ties. When Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced in December 2015 that Riyadh would lead a military alliance of dozens of Muslim nations, most of them Sunni-majority countries, Pakistan was surprised to find its name on the list. Even so, it agreed to participate in the alliance, short of committing its troops to fight for a foreign cause. On Wednesday, Islamabad made a surprising announcement of its own: It was reported that Pakistan's former chief of army staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif, refused to accept his appointment to lead the alliance unless Iran was included in the group. Though Pakistan lies to the east of Saudi Arabia and Iran, over the years it has often found itself caught between the two poles of Islamic power. The country exemplifies the difficulty Muslim nations face in maintaining neutrality between Riyadh and Tehran, and Saudi Arabia's Islamic Military Alliance is just the latest complication in that struggle.

Afghanistan cannot be abandoned to China-Pakistan-Russia Troika in 2017

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Afghanistan seemed to have disappeared from the United States radar in the months to the run-up to US Presidential Elections resulting in a void which the China-Pakistan-Russia Troika has exploited to US disadvantage.

Strategically the United States invested heavily in Afghanistan in terms of billions of dollars and thousands of US soldiers lost to Pakistan Army duplicitous double-timing the United States while professing to be a trusted ally of long-standing. In 2017, the United States would be well-advised not to let the China-Pakistan-Russia Trilateral muscle into what rightly deserves to be called United States strategic turf.

The US incoming Trump Administration’s highest priority task on assumption of office on January 2017 should be not to abandon Afghanistan .On the contrary the United States should ensure that the machinations of the China-Pakistan-Russia Troika by what initially appears only as a ‘pious’ political intervention is not allowed to morph into an eventual some sort of quasi-military Troika intervention.

Let's Face It, China's Military Now Dominates ASEAN

By Peter Layton

Over the last year, there has been a sharp regional strategic shift. In the South China Sea, China has built six large islands, three substantial air bases and three sizeable electronic surveillance installations. China has effectively moved some 1100km closer to Australia, deep into the geographic heart of the ASEAN region. 

Such territorial expansionism is particularly worrying given recent Chinese military developments. Chinese airpower is being rapidly transformed through a major decade-long modernisation program that, as President Xi Jinping directed in 2014, is now accelerating. China’s air force has moved from having obsolete 1950s technology to today operating modern combat aircraft and highly-advanced surface to air missile systems. 

With its new air bases and leading-edge air power, China now has the strategic initiative in South East Asia. Whenever it chooses, China can deploy to its South China Sea airbases an air combat force larger and more capable than any ASEAN air force. 

Of ASEAN’s air forces, Singapore’s is the most capable, operating some 100 modern fighters, albeit many are normally located offshore at foreign training bases. Given typical maintenance processes and adequate warning, some 50-75 fighters could be surged in a crisis. In contrast, China operates more than a 1000 modern fighters and could deploy 75-100 aircraft across the three islands. China has some further advantages in having sophisticated, readily-deployable surface-to-air missile systems for high-quality island air defence while its fighter aircraft operate elsewhere. Singapore is less well equipped and would need to retain a sizeable fighter force for home air defence purposes. Moreover, China has a variety of long-range land-attack missiles; Singapore does not. 

India’s diplomatic moves on Tibet

HARSH V. PANT

India recently announced that it will welcome the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has lived in exile in India since 1959, at an international conference on Buddhism in the state of Bihar in March. Ignoring protests from the Chinese government, India will also allow the Dalai Lama to visit the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of its own territory and calls South Tibet. This represents a gradual but significant change in India’s Tibet policy, and it flows directly from China’s refusal to acknowledge India’s security concerns.

When Narendra Modi took office in 2014, his government hesitated to openly acknowledge official interactions with the Dalai Lama, ceding some ground to Chinese sensitivities. But by last month, President Pranab Mukherjee was hosting the Dalai Lama at a summit held in his official residence, the first meeting in decades between a serving Indian president and the Tibetan leader.

China reacted strongly to this meeting, saying New Delhi was disrespecting one of Beijing’s core interests. New Delhi retorted that the Dalai Lama was a revered spiritual leader and it was a nonpolitical event. China has also objected to the planned visit by the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, saying it would damage bilateral ties.

Why India – Vietnam Military Relation Disturbs China

By Bhaskar Roy

The Chinese official newspaper, the Global Times (January 11) in an article entitled “Indian arms same to Hanoi disturbing if aimed at China”, warned New Delhi that India must desist from doing to China what China does to India. 

The Chinese official article was in response to Indian media reports on discussions between Indian and Vietnam on supplying India made Akash surface-to-air missiles to (25 Km range) to Vietnam.

Some Indian media speculated that this agreement could be a reaction to China arming India’s neighbours especially Pakistan which has fought at least three wars with India, and engaged in regular terrorist attacks against India, sometimes with China’s blessings.

China’s propaganda establishment must understand how the free Indian media functions. They attack the government and criticise even the prime minister. In China, this is unthinkable. The print media, television channels and radio have to follow the line laid down by the communist Party and the government. Any perceived misdemeanour is treated harshly. Therefore, the Chinese commentators must listen to what the Indian government says.

ISIS IS DROPPING BOMBS WITH DRONES IN IRAQ

By Kelsey D. Atherton 

This artillery crew is providing indirect fire for Iraqi Security Forces as they fight to retake Mosul from ISIS.

The latest bomber to make its debut over Iraq has four engines, no cockpit, and a flight time limited by the length of its battery. ISIS, the radical insurgent group holding territory in both Syria and Iraq, is fighting for its life in Mosul, the large city in Northern Iraq it has held since 2014. Most of the weapons ISIS uses are are familiar, if still horrific: rifles and mortars, artillery and suicidal car bombs. To that arsenal, ISIS recently added commercial drones, converted into tiny bombers.

Previously, we’ve seen ISIS scratch-build drones, and as Iraqi Security Forces retook parts of Mosul, they discovered a vast infrastructure of workshops (complete with quality control) for building standardized munitions, weapons, and explosives. In October, Kurdish soldiers died dismantling a booby-trapped ISIS drone. These drone bombers recently captured by Iraqi forces and shared with American advisors appear to be commercial, off-the-shelf models, adapted to carry grenade-sized payloads.

Why No One Remembers the Arab Spring of 2010

By Ehsan M. Ahrari

The sixth anniversary of The Arab Spring (aka Arab Awakening) has come and gone, but not many people noticed. One of the main reasons underlying this was its utter failure to create either a stable, democratic, or secular Arab world. However, that was not the intent of that movement. In fact, no one really knew what the young Arab protestors wanted when they overthrew President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, and President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, except that they wanted to replace those autocratic rulers. So, it is hard to pinpoint why the Arab Spring failed. However, because it generally failed to change the quality of at least two countries—Egypt and Libya—an informed discussion about its failure may help us get ready for such future turbulent developments in the Arab world.

In the West, the Arab Awakening was expected to spawn an era of liberal democracy (something that was alien to the Arab world). However, there were no established political parties in the Arab world to shape the modalities of future change. There were a few Islamist parties; even they were banned or had an underground existence. Thus, about the only known political group (if it were to be loosely labelled that) were the Islamists. Even they were shocked by the intensity of demands for political change in those three countries, but they had no plan to establish an alternative government. The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and the Ennahda Party of Tunisia were two Islamist parties; yet, each produced starkly different results.

* THE MOSCOW SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS: KEY PILLARS OF RUSSIAN STRATEGY

MICHAEL KOFMAN

The scandal over Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election is only the latest in a series of geopolitical contests with Russia in which Moscow has often gotten the better of the United States. The “new Cold War” isn’t going all that well for anyone besides Vladimir Putin. Washington certainly has the least to show for it. Following public outcry, the Obama administration released intelligence on the Russian hacking operation, but the clumsily written disclosures only made Vladimir Putin look bigger and badder. Meanwhile President Obama’s ambiguous threats to respond at a “time and place of our choosing” obscured what costs, if any, Russia paid for such chicanery. One suspects that there was little pressure beyond what is publicly known. If anything, this exchange of accusations only highlighted America’s vulnerabilities while encouraging Russia and other states to try harder next time around.

The Russians earned yet another political victory with audiences at home and abroad. Meanwhile, Washington is in the midst of self-immolation. When the next peer adversary comes knocking, the United States must be better prepared. The United States can’t return to the past, but it can certainly learn from it.

As Mark Twain once said, “good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment.” After Ukraine, Syria, and this latest episode, America has been on the receiving end of some good experience. Step one in learning is admitting that Vladimir Putin has been on a winning streak, arguably as far back as March 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Based on observing Moscow’s interaction with our policy establishment, I expect the Kremlin to continue “winning” this year, whether or not U.S. foreign policy changes dramatically in the coming months.