26 July 2017

America's Future Is with India and Israel

James Jay Carafano

The winds of change are blowing not from Beijing, but from Delhi. Trump should seize the initiative.

From the Indo-Pacific to the Mediterranean, a diplomatic transformation is underway. The winds of change are blowing not from Beijing, but from Delhi. President Donald Trump has an opportunity to harness some of that power to help fill the sails of America's global leadership.

Times are Changing

The White House is expected to unveil its national security strategy some time later this year. There is no question that it will differ from George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s strategies. Bush leaned well into the headwind with a muscular strategy that tried to fix big problems. Obama tried the opposite, disengaging from global conflicts and competition. Trump looks to land somewhere in the middle—disinterested in regime change and nation building, but willing to push U.S. influence forward to safeguard vital national interests.

The main thrust of Trump’s strategy will be to reduce the potential for large-scale destabilizing conflicts in parts of the world where those interests are greatest. This will require reducing friction among big powers in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The new strategy will also pay more attention to Central America, where pressure from transnational criminal networks and unregulated migration stress the U.S. southern border.

The World’s Most Dangerous Flashpoint

Pakistan and India's nuclear standoff contains potentially greater risks than the Cold War

With the world’s attention firmly fixated on North Korea, the greatest possibility of nuclear war is in fact on the other side of Asia.

That place is what could be called the nuclear triangle of Pakistan, India and China. Although Chinese and Indian forces are currently engaged in a standoff, traditionally the most dangerous flashpoint along the triangle has been the Indo-Pakistani border. The two countries fought three major wars before acquiring nuclear weapons, and one minor one afterwards.

This doesn’t even include the countless other armed skirmishes and other incidents that are a regular occurrence.

At the heart of this conflict, of course, is the territorial dispute over the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the latter part of which Pakistan lays claim to. Also key to the nuclear dimension of the conflict is the fact that India’s conventional capabilities are vastly superior to Pakistan’s.

Can Japan and India Counter China in the Caucasus?

By Areg Galstyan

Japan and India’s growing connections to Armenia could form a new factor of influence. 

The victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections led many Asia-Pacific countries to reconsider their foreign policy strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. Today, most of the Pacific Rim countries that had linked their hopes to Washington — including Japan — are in search of additional political options. In this context, the emerging relationship between Japan and Armenia is of much interest now.

In September this year, these two states will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship. However, the history of Armenian-Japanese ties has much deeper roots. Japan was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of the First Republic of Armenia in 1919. In July 1920, Diana Abgar was appointed the diplomatic representative and consul general of Armenia in Japan. Enjoying great respect among the Japanese elites, Abgar developed a number of programs that were to contribute to the development of political and cultural dialogue between the two countries and peoples. Unfortunately, the geopolitical processes in the region led to the loss of Armenia’s independence and its entry into the Soviet Union. Thus, the first experience of cooperation between Japan and Armenia was short-lived but extremely important.

The Importance of a Japan-India Amphibious Aircraft Deal

By Satoru Nagao

The conclusion of an India-Japan deal for the transfer of ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft will bear immense strategic importance. 

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan in November 2016, Japan and India concluded an agreement for cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Since the visit, it has been readily apparent that Japan-India relations have progressed very quickly. Consequently, one is prompted to ask: What will be the next steps in this relationship? Like the civil nuclear agreement another issue is pending: Japan has long sought a ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious plane deal with the Indian Navy. After the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, this deal is the most significant pending issue between Japan and India.

Why is this deal, merely for a rescue plane, such an important part of the agenda for Japan-India relations? It is highly probable that this trade is not merely for the provision of military equipment. It has a broader strategic significance. Below, I offer analysis of the strategic effects of the US-2 deal by answering three questions: What can India accomplish with the US-2; what are the implications of the sale for Japan-India relations; and what is the next step?

Neville Maxwell discloses document revealing that India provoked China into 1962 border war

"Mr Maxwell," said Zhou through his interpreter, "your book has done a service to truth, and China has benefited from that." Zhou called for a glass of mao-tai and offered him a toast.

"That moment at the banquet is deeply engraved in my memory, failing as it sometimes is," Maxwell said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

The 87-year-old Australian journalist and historian likes to make jokes about his supposedly fading memory. But he won't let India forget its past errors which, he says, led to the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

Beijing would welcome the revived attention to their India dispute


For nearly half a century he has been going against the grain of Indian collective memory that remembers the humiliating defeat in the month-long border war as an unprovoked act of aggression by a country it considered a friend.

This month he pulled a Snowden on India. He exposed a top-secret Indian war report that returned the spotlight to a period in history that still sours public opinion in India and bars normal ties between the two Asian giants.

In a specially created blog, Maxwell published a chunk of the secret war report that harshly criticised the highest echelons of power in India at the time for pursuing a flawed strategy of provoking China without the means to handle a backlash.

Afghanistan: Choosing Peace Over Justice

By Neha Dwivedi

In sidelining justice for peace, Afghanistan has wound up enjoying neither. 

Earlier this month, former warlord and Afghanistan’s first vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum met with the leaders of two Afghan mainstream political parties to discuss the need to reform the government. Another warlord and Balkh’s governor Atta Mohammad Noor accused President Ashraf Ghani of monopolizing power and political autocracy.

Against the the backdrop of a bloody offensive by the Taliban and a political crisis unfolding in Kabul, the key issue of justice has once again come under question. With the warlords now threatening the stability of the government, the Afghan government’s approach –using amnesty to achieve peace — has come to haunt Afghanistan’s transition toward democracy.

Limitless Amnesty

Amnesty has been a long-accepted strategy to end hostility and forge peace agreements. Providing amnesty for certain crimes is one of the elements of the disarmament process, meant for achieving peace and stability. The importance of amnesty is reflected in Article 6(5) of Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions, which talks about “granting the broadest possible amnesty to persons who have participated in hostilities.” The article, however, doesn’t specify what crimes are entitled to the provision of amnesty.

Can the Tiny Afghan Air Force Turn the Tide of the War Against the Taliban and ISIS?

KABUL (Reuters) - As the U.S. administration prepares its new strategy for Afghanistan, the Kabul government and its Western allies are working hard to develop an air force that gives government forces the advantage in their war against Taliban militants.

The level of equipment, training and assets falls far short of matching the air assets the Americans still maintain in Afghanistan, but billions of dollars are earmarked for the force which is being built up almost from scratch.

“That is what will provide the asymmetric advantage to break the stalemate on the ground,” Brigadier-General Phillip Stewart, commander of TAAC-Air, the Resolute Support mission advising the air force, told Reuters.

A four-year, $7 billion expansion plan is aimed at training more flight and maintenance crews and increasing the number of aircraft in the Afghan Air Force (AAF).

“In 2014, remember, we (NATO and the U.S. military in Afghanistan) had the best air force in the world and the coalition pulled out and we realized we hadn’t grown the Afghan Air Force,” Stewart said.

U.S. officers say the aim is to build a counter-insurgency force able to support troops fighting in remote and forbidding terrain with air strikes, supplies and intelligence.

US’ Afghanistan strategy

MK Bhadrakumar

ONE of the most significant foreign policy decisions taken by US President Donald Trump during the past six months must be the termination of the clandestine American programme to provide arms and supplies to Syrian rebel groups. Trump simply abandoned a four-year-old secret “deniable” programme by the CIA, authorised by his predecessor Barack Obama, flagging that the US has given up hope of toppling the government of President Bashar Al-Assad.

Trump’s decision was first reported last week by The Washington Post, but it is more than a month old and kept confidential presumably because of its sensitivity. Indeed, the decision signifies a parting of ways between the US and its regional allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia. More importantly, it “signals the death knell for Western efforts to roll back Iranian and Russian power in the Levant,” to quote Prof Joshua Landis who heads the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and is one of America’s highly regarded authorities on the Syrian question.

As Landis put it, “The cut-off of CIA funding for Syria’s rebels is the raggedy ending of America’s failed regime change policy in Syria and the region at large…President Trump called the wars in the Middle East ‘stupid wars’…He believes that by working with the Russians, the US will destroy ISIS more quickly…Many Western leaders have preceded Trump in coming to the conclusion that Assad is staying in power… [French] President [Emmanuel] Macron has articulated this position for the EU.” 



The tiny Himalayan state of Bhutan, portrayed as the happiest place in the world, is now caught in the middle between two Asian giants as Chinese and Indian soldiers stand eyeball-to-eyeball on a narrow, barren patch high up on the mountainous borders where Bhutan and China meet.

Rhetoric has been flying thick and fast on both sides, with Beijing reminding India about the “lesson” of 1962 and New Delhi retorting that it is not the same India that lost poorly to China in that short border war 55 years ago. The current situation is portrayed by India’s hyper-nationalistic media in terms of encirclement by China and Beijing’s designs on India. However, for the small Himalayan states and border regions, it’s not China that makes them nervous, it’s India.

The Indian press, calling it a border dispute between India and China, colourfully describes the disputed narrow valley leading into India’s northeast as the “chicken neck”. The valley is supposedly the “dagger” pointing at India, alluding to China’s strategic intentions. In reality, the issue does not have much to do with the border, and definitely not the China-India border. The area under contention, between Bhutan and Tibet, has never been cartographically demarcated.

China's Strategy in Asia Is Simple: Kick America Out

China, manifestly formidable, is still typically analyzed as a “rising power” or an “emerging power,” one challenging “established powers.” Connoted by these terms is a ridiculously unhistorical image: China-as-parvenu. A longer look back may better name—and explain—what the world now sees.

From the Portuguese in the sixteenth century to the Japanese in the twentieth century, Western and Westernized forces in Asia enjoyed an ever increasing advantage: firepower, first afloat and then also on land.​ Its invention of gunpowder and rocketry notwithstanding, China faced a firepower gap that had widened decisively by the 1830s. Yet China’s governments, native and assimilated, functioned competently enough as late as 1839, when the opium trade was being vigorously suppressed. Ironically, this very show of competence brought China into conflict with the drug-running British East India Company, whose own private forces, as supplemented by the Royal Navy, China could not match.​

China’s losses in the two Opium Wars, 1839–42 and 1856–60, were ruinous, shredding sovereignty and conceding to industrialized powers extraordinary territorial, mercantile and jurisdictional privileges. Arising in parallel, and largely in response, was the worst of all modern rebellions, the Taiping, 1850–64, a societal injury defying full recovery. The next century, while different, was not much better and was followed by the Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976, a denunciation not only of the “Four Olds”—customs, culture, habits, ideas—but of modernity, too.​

Russia Is Testing NATO in the Skies

Andrew Foxall

Last month, a Russian jet flew within five feet of a U.S. reconnaissance plane near the Baltic Sea. According to U.S. officials, the Russian Su-27 “rapidly” approached the U.S. RC-135 plane and acted “provocatively” by performing “unsafe” maneuvers. Russia’s Defense Ministry, for its part, blamed the U.S. plane for “making a provocative turn towards the Su-27” while being escorted away from Russia’s borders. Whatever the truth about this incident, it serves as a reminder of Moscow’s ceaseless belligerence toward NATO.

Earlier this year, NATO reported an increase in European Quick Reaction Alert aircraft ‘Alpha’ (Air Policing) launches in response to Russian military aircraft from 400 (of a total of 480) in 2014 to 780 (of a total of 807) in 2016. Admittedly, a change in the way that NATO records such events accounts for some of this increase. But there was, nevertheless, a marked increase in Russian military air activity being monitored and responded to across NATO’s two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) in Europe—at Uedem in Germany, which covers northern Europe north of the Alps, and at Torrejon in Spain, which covers southern Europe south of the Alps.

Airborne Fighting Vehicles Rolled Through Hell in Eastern Ukraine

In April 2014, a few months after Russian troops seized Crimea, a pro-Russian uprising broke out in Eastern Ukraine centered on Donetsk Oblast. The province had a substantial ethnic Russian population which supported the pro-Moscow government of Pres. Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country that February after the Euromaidan protests.

Though a significant minority in Eastern Ukraine had expressed support for reunification with Russia in the past, prior to 2014 there had not been any major episodes of violence.

That all changed when pro-Russian separatists began seizing police and military posts to loot them for weapons, then organizing into armed “People’s Republics” centered around the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. In mid-April, the Ukrainian army launched its first counter-offensive, with the “aluminum tanks” of the 25th Airborne Brigade leading the way.

Clashes in the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Operation” at first involved minimal loss of life, but soon escalated into a full-scale conventional war with tanks, artillery, attack jets, drones and anti-aircraft missiles, culminating in a poorly-disguised intervention by Russian tanks on behalf of the separatists in August.

Is Russia Really with Assad in Syria?

Moscow appears to be preventing a total Assad victory in a bid to boost its international standing.

With yet another round of Geneva talks on Syria concluded without meaningful results, Russia’s parallel diplomatic maneuvers continue to overshadow the UN’s efforts. Yet Moscow’s efforts—particularly its “de-escalation plan” to create safe zones for opposition groups backed by Turkey, Gulf states, the U.S. and Europe—are quite curious. Russia’s plan appears to be directly at odds with the stated objective of its client, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to reclaim “every inch” of the country. In trying to enact safe zones, Russia may in fact be deliberately preventing a total victory by Assad.

Russia, it seems, is not simply allowing external actors to keep a foothold in Syria; it is encouraging them to do so. Keeping global and regional powers at the table allows Russia to arbitrate their interests in Syria’s future and leverage its influence over Damascus. Driving competing powers out and securing the entire country for Assad would squander an opportunity for Moscow to elevate itself further on the international stage.

Russia's Secret Weapon: Armored Vehicles That Can 'Fly'

Sebastien Roblin

Since the 1970s, the Russian military has possessed a diverse fleet of armored vehicles it can drop out of airplanes … with parachutes, of course.

The BMD family of infantry fighting vehicles is armed to the teeth with autocannons, machine guns and anti-tank missiles. And despite being very much a product of the Cold War, the little fighting vehicles have continued to see combat — and the new BMD-4 variant is even packing a 100-millimeter gun.

How did an airborne assault tank even come about?

Following World War II, the Soviet Union expanded its elite air landing forces — a separate branch of the military known as the VDV, which at its peak consisted of 15 Guards Airborne divisions and 13 independent brigades. Soviet strategists foresaw deploying the VDV far inside enemy territory as part of their “deep battle” doctrine, with different airborne units dedicated to strategic, operational and tactical missions.

For example, an operational airborne regiment or division might drop 100 to 300 kilometers behind enemy lines to capture river crossings, enemy command centers, logistical bases and nuclear weapons facilities.

Pace of Change Complicates Signals Intelligence World, NSA Chief Says

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2017 — The National Security Agency has never seen the field of signals intelligence change as rapidly as it is right now, said agency director Navy Adm. Mike Rogers at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado today.

Washington Post columnist and best-selling author David Ignatius interviewed Rogers and Robert Hannigan, the former director of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, on the state of signals intelligence.

Rogers has worked in signals intelligence his entire 31 years in the Navy. He said technology is driving the rate of change in the field and enemies are embracing the advantages it provides. “I have never seen target sets change their communications profiles, to constantly upgrade their technology – whether it be a nation state or a group like [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] or al-Qaida,” he said. “The rate of change in our profession and the need for us to stay ahead of that keeps growing in complexity and speed.”

The measure of effectiveness for signals intelligence agencies is the ability to generate value, the admiral said. “If we focus on generating value for the citizens of the nation we defend [and] doing it within a legal and policy framework, that generates confidence in the citizens we support,” Rogers said.

The Rafale mirage

M. Matheswaran

The signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between India and France for the off-the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafale MMRCA fighter jets for the Indian Air Force has finally brought the curtains down on the long-drawn-out negotiations between the two countries. To the IAF, deeply worried by its depleting force structure, the conclusion of the Rafale deal will bring welcome, albeit insufficient, relief. The air force is already at a low of 32 squadrons, as against its requirement of 45 squadrons. The mismatch between obsolescence and modernisation, created by India's archaic acquisition process, has plagued the Indian Air Force for the past three decades. 

Till the 1990s, the IAF had been the critical factor in the Indian military, maintaining a qualitative edge over the military forces of Pakistan and China. This was set to change as China embarked on a rapid modernisation of its forces, the PLAAF in particular, with a consequent impact on the PAF as well. On the other hand, by the late 1990s, the IAF was struggling with huge operational issues stemming from factors such as technological obsolescence, ageing fleets, poor reliability and high maintenance costs.

Army's baffling inability to induct basic assault rifle points at a deeper malaise

Sandeep Unnithan

On July 15, troopers of the Jammu & Kashmir police, the CRPF and the army's Rashtriya Rifles closed in on three Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists hiding in a cave in the Satoora forest, in Tral, south Kashmir. All three terrorists were killed after a fierce firefight lasting over 11 hours. After the fight, AK-47 toting security personnel entered the cave to recover the terrorist's weapons, three AK-47s and 14 field magazines-bringing to a close yet another encounter. If few noticed the intriguing fact of both sides using the same assault rifle, it was because this has ceased to astonish. The AK-47 is a legendary weapon among soldier and guerrilla alike because of its rugged simplicity and effectiveness it has just nine moving parts. Its continuing use by security forces is also an indictment of the army's failure to equip soldiers with a modern assault rifle kitted with force multipliers like day and night sights (which can be used irrespective of light conditions), 'red dot' sights to pinpoint targets and underbarrel grenade launchers, which can toss explosives twice as far as hand-thrown grenades. (The majority of in-service INSAS and AK-47 rifles lack these.) Army officials also bristle at the glitch-prone INSAS's production quality, the breakability of its plastic magazines and its poor metallurgy. 

Artillery Survivability In Modern Combat

by Shawn Woodford

Much attention is being given in the development of the U.S. joint concept of Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) to the implications of recent technological advances in long-range precision fires. It seems most of the focus is being placed on exploring the potential for cross-domain fires as a way of coping with the challenges of anti-access/area denial strategies employing long-range precision fires. Less attention appears to be given to assessing the actual combat effects of such weapons. The prevailing assumption is that because of the increasing lethality of modern weapons, battle will be bloodier than it has been in recent experience.

I have taken a look in previous posts at how the historical relationship identified by Trevor Dupuy between weapon lethality, battlefield dispersion, and casualty rates argues against this assumption with regard to personnel attrition and tank loss rates. What about artillery loss rates? Will long-range precision fires make ground-based long-range precision fire platforms themselves more vulnerable? Historical research suggests that trend was already underway before the advent of the new technology.

In 1976, Trevor Dupuy and the Historical Evaluation and Research Organization (HERO; one of TDI’s corporate ancestors) conducted a study sponsored by Sandia National Laboratory titled “Artillery Survivability in Modern War.” (PDF) The study focused on looking at historical artillery loss rates and the causes of those losses. It drew upon quantitative data from the 1973 Arab-Israel War, the Korean War, and the Eastern Front during World War II.

'We are at war and people don't even know': Inside the divide between the military and the rest of America that's wider than it's ever been


A little more than a year after she married, Tiffany Smiley walked into a hospital room to tell her husband he was blind.

A car bomb in Mosul, Iraq, had sent shrapnel into Army Maj. Scott Smiley's eyes as he was serving as an infantry platoon leader and ultimately led him to this bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He had been deployed six months - six months that Tiffany endured catching glimpses of him in reports from an embedded Fox News journalist. She'd watch and wonder what reality she'd fallen into as explosions boomed in the background of the shots.

When she wasn't watching the news, Tiffany was working as a nurse. But as she went about life in the US, it felt like no one else was paying attention.

"At the time, I was shocked," she told Business Insider. "We are at war - and people don't even know or care."

Her experience isn't uncommon. The US military has become more isolated from civilian life than at any period in the country's recent history.

Today, less than half of 1% of the US population is active duty. In 1991, that percentage was twice as high, at roughly 0.8%. In 1969, at the peak of US involvement in Vietnam, almost 2% of the population was active duty, and in 1945, during World War II, it was almost 9%.
'Shallow' understandings

Army opens cybersecurity research laboratory

The collaborative space at the Army Research Laboratory's cyber-research analytics laboratory is expected to become increasingly important as wars shift to the cyber realm, Army officials said on Friday. 

July 21 (UPI) — A new laboratory that provides access to sensitive, live cybersecurity data has been opened by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the Army announced on Friday.

Access to the Army Cyber-research Analytics Laboratory, or ACAL , and it’s data will be the Department of Defense’s industrial and federally funded partners, including universities.

The Army Research Laboratory said the facility in Maryland opened earlier this week. It houses three distributed computation clusters, the largest of which is configured with over two petabytes of raw storage, over 20 terabytes of RAM, over 1,500 CPU cores and 10- to 40-gigabyte networking.

ACAL relies on technologies most familiar to researchers, analytic developers and data scientists, such as Hadoop, Elasticsearch, R, Spark, Storm, Accumulo and Kafka among them.

Akhilomen O. Oniha, lead of the Technical Architecture Team for the ARL project said in a press release that the “degree of high-performance computing and analytic development technology will facilitate the rapid development and deployment of cutting-edge analytic capabilities to meet the warfighter’s operational mission needs in the cyber realm.”

Why We Should Let Young People Enlist in a Year of Cyber Service

Jeff John Roberts

A version of this post originally appeared in the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. 

General Keith Alexander, the former NSA director, shared some smart thoughtsthis week about the line between espionage and cyber war. But it was the words of another famous military man, retired General Stanley McChrystal—who likewise spoke at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech event—that left the biggest impression on me. 

McChrystal, whose stellar career ended in scandal in 2010 over public criticism of his superiors, spoke candidly to Fortune's Adam Lashinsky about picking up the pieces to rebuild a life of pride and meaning. His redemption came about thanks to a one-day-at-a-time approach and the support of his wife, but that's only part of it. 

Another huge reason for McChrystal's ability to move forward, I suspect, lies in his worldview rooted in public service and community. He acquired this perspective in the military but, as McChrystal noted, other institutions—such as the Peace Corps and Teach for America—can also imbue people with a similar sense of purpose. 

Moscow's cyber-defense How the Russian government plans to protect the country from the coming cyberwar

Allegations that Russian hackers stole emails from top Democrats in the United States, in an effort to influence the results of America’s presidential election, are now more than a year old. Last November, Meduza published a detailed look at the operations of Russia’s cyber-soldiers. But a country’s cybersecurity is only as good as its cyber-defense, which is why Meduza’s special correspondent Daniil Turovsky returned to the subject, interviewing dozens of cybersecurity experts and studying different documents and reports, in order to learn what cyberthreats most concern the Russian government, and what Moscow is doing to protect the country.

Kirill (whose name has been changed at his request) first got interested in hacking websites when he was 13, in the early 2000s. Back then, his computer was too weak to play the latest games, so he needed to find something else to do. One of his classmates, meanwhile, had started creating websites. During lessons, his friend would pass him a notebook with design sketches, and Kirill would write out the HTML code by hand. “These limitations forced us to be inventive, and it wasn’t long before I got interested in hacking,” the programmer recalls today.

Spying or Cyber War? How to Tell the Difference

Jeff John Roberts

The idea of a hostile country hijacking computers deep inside the United States sounds frightening. But is it really so different from what countries—including the U.S.—have always done in the name of espionage? 

That was a question posed to Gen. Keith Alexander, a former director of the NSA, at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference on Tuesday in Aspen, Colo. 

Alexander responded by saying there's a clear distinction between countries using computers to spy and to attack. 

"It’s intent. Cyber war is to inflict damage while spying is to learn secrets," he said, adding that every nation engages in cyber-spying. 

As a examples of computer activity that rises to the level of cyber war, Alexander pointed to the alleged attack on Sony by North Korea, and to attacks in Ukraine aimed at the company's economy and infrastructure. 

The distinction between spying and cyber war is important since the latter has the potential to trigger military retaliation, or invoke responses under treaties like NATO, while espionage is considered less serious. 

Cyberwar: A Look at the Arms Race of the Future

Eric Olson

Russian meddling in elections, U.S. sabotage of North Korean missiles and shadowy hacker groups stealing secret NSA data: these acts of aggression were not carried out with conventional weapons like guns or bombs, but rather were the result of actions in the abstract world of cyberspace. Cyberwar is an increasingly significant threat on the world stage. It consists of offensive and defensive actions, such as cyberattacks, carried out by one entity against another’s computers or networks. These attacks can be aimed at gathering intelligence, disrupting computer function, or causing damage to critical infrastructure such as electric power grids.

Real-time world map of cyberthreats populated by data from Kaspersky Lab’s malware detection software. Image Credit: AO Kaspersky Lab

Nations develop cyberweapons to achieve their objectives in cyberwar engagements. These weapons consist of software, known as malware, developed to perform cyberespionage such as surveillance or theft, or to carry out cyberattacks directly. States that engage in cyberwar typically seek to obscure the nature and origin of the attack to hide their involvement by designing malware that conceals itself from protection mechanisms such as virus scanners.



DATA BREACHES AND exposures all invite the same lament: if only the compromised data had been encrypted. Bad guys can only do so much with exfiltrated data, after all, if they can't read any of it. Now, IBM says it has a way to encrypt every level of a network, from applications to local databases and cloud services, thanks to a new mainframe that can power 12 billion encrypted transactions per day.

The processing burden that comes with all that constant encrypting and decrypting has prevented that sort of comprehensive data encryption at scale in the past. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software encryption processing, though, IBM says that its IBM Z mainframe can pull off the previously impossible. If that holds up in practice, it will offer a system that's both accessible for users, and offers far greater data security than currently possible.

Encryption Conniption

According to IBM, hackers have compromised around nine billion digital data records since 2013, a third of them medical. A meager four percent of that data was encrypted, though, meaning those credit card numbers, user names and passwords, and social security numbers passed easily onto dark-web criminal exchanges.

25 July 2017

*** Simply put: Where things stand on the Dolam plateau

by Sushant Singh 

SUSHANT SINGH answers key questions on the India-China standoff at the Sikkim trijunction, and pieces together a detailed situation report

From the middle of last month onward, Indian and Chinese troops are arrayed face-to-face on the Dolam plateau, close to the Indian Army post of Doka La, located between Batang La to the north and Gymochen to the south. The standoff began after the Chinese started work on extending an unmetalled track in Bhutanese territory, and were prevented by Indian troops. Bhutan and India believe the Chinese have an eye on the Jampheri ridge to the south, a feature of enormous strategic significance. China has kept up a shrill rhetoric in official briefings and state media, demanding that Indian troops back off before talks on resolving the dispute can begin.

To begin with, where exactly is the standoff happening — is it in Doka La, Doklam, Donglang or Dolam?

The location of the standoff is Dolam plateau, which is in the Doklam area (as referred to in the statements of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Embassy of Bhutan in New Delhi). The Dolam plateau is different from Doklam plateau (which is a disputed area between Bhutan and China, but has no contiguity with India). The Doklam plateau lies around 30 km to the north east of Dolam plateau. Doklam is called Donglang in Mandarin.

Sikkim Impasse Explained: What Is The India-China-Bhutan Border Standoff?

The Doklam or Donglang area is close to the northern end of a funnel-shaped valley, called the Chumbi Valley. The valley opens out in the Tibet region of China. At its base (in Tibet), the Chumbi ‘funnel’ is 54 km wide. At its tip, the ‘funnel’ is just 11 km wide. This is Batang La, which lies to the east of Gangtok. The Chumbi ‘funnel’ measures 70 km from its tip in the south to its base in the north.

Where then, is the ‘trijunction’?

*** In Syria, the U.S. Reverses Course

Source Link

Forecast Highlights

The end of a CIA program for training and equipping rebels is a strategic shift by the United States in its approach to the Syrian civil war as it looks beyond the inevitable conventional defeat of the Islamic State. 

Such a shift, however, even if it leads to less violence in the short term, is unlikely to secure a stable Syria. 

Syria will remain a hotbed of unrest and conflict, a situation that the Islamic State will exploit to rebuild and other extremists will use to form new militant groups. 

Previous U.S. policies to influence the Syrian civil war haven't worked, or at least that's what the White House seems to believe. The Washington Post reported on July 19 that U.S. President Donald Trump decided a month ago to phase out the CIA's covert train and equip program launched in 2013 to support Syrian rebel forces opposed to the government of President Bashar al Assad. The end of the program points to a strategic shift by the United States in its approach to the Syrian civil war, acknowledging Washington's inability to force al Assad from power and its almost exclusive focus on the fight against the Islamic State over the past few years. But what happens in Syria after the militant group's inevitable conventional defeat can't be ignored. And unfortunately for the United States, no matter what it does diplomatically or militarily, even if its efforts lead to less violence in the short term, it won't secure a stable Syria.

Billions Could Die If India and Pakistan Start a Nuclear War

Zachary Keck

With the world’s attention firmly fixated on North Korea, the greatest possibility of nuclear war is in fact on the other side of Asia.

That place is what could be called the nuclear triangle of Pakistan, India and China. Although Chinese and Indian forces are currently engaged in a standoff, traditionally the most dangerous flashpoint along the triangle has been the Indo-Pakistani border. The two countries fought three major wars before acquiring nuclear weapons, and one minor one afterwards. And this doesn’t even include the countless other armed skirmishes and other incidents that are a regular occurrence.

At the heart of this conflict, of course, is the territorial dispute over the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the latter part of which Pakistan lays claim to. Also key to the nuclear dimension of the conflict is the fact that India’s conventional capabilities are vastly superior to Pakistan’s. Consequently, Islamabad has adopted a nuclear doctrine of using tactical nuclear weapons against Indian forces to offset the latter’s conventional superiority.

If this situation sounds similar, that is because this is the same strategy the U.S.-led NATO forces adopted against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the face of a numerically superior Soviet military, the United States, starting with the Eisenhower administration, turned to nuclear weapons to defend Western Europe from a Soviet attack. Although nearly every U.S. president, as well as countless European leaders, were uncomfortable with this escalatory strategy, they were unable to escape the military realities undergirding it until at least the Reagan administration.

The Challenge of Living next to China.


The ongoing Doklam standoff between India and China has to be seen in the larger context.

The ongoing Doklam standoff between India and China has to be seen in the larger context.

The ongoing Doklam standoff between India and China has to be seen in the larger context. The event was clearly precipitated by China’s sudden move to shift the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. There has been a long-standing dispute between Bhutan and China on the Doklam plateau. Tibetan and Bhutanese herdsmen have, for long, peacefully grazed their livestock on the grassy plain, till a few years ago, Chinese horsemen wearing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tunics and with military issue binoculars, started accompanying the Tibetan herdsmen. That’s when the Bhutanese objected and it became a dispute between their militaries.

The subsequent meetings between the PLA and Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) officials in Thimphu and New Delhi have always been in the presence of Indian military officers. India has always had a special relationship with Bhutan, which is underscored by a treaty. India stations a brigade in Bhutan and substantially trains, arms and funds the Bhutan military.

Talk Point: Is the proposed inter-agency review of American support to Pakistan different from such past exercises?

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has announced at a Congressional hearing that the administration is beginning an inter-agency policy review of continuation of American aid to Pakistan. This week, a key Congressional panel started hearing a proposal to make US civil and military aid to Pakistan conditional to Islamabad’s support to the fight against the Afghan Taliban. What will the implications of these moves be on Pakistan and on the South Asian region? We ask experts Alyssa Ayres, TCA Raghavan, Ahsan Mukhtar Zubairi, C Christine Fair, Rahimullah Yusufzai, Timothy Roemer, Arun Singh and Jayadeva Ranade.

US is viewing S. Asia region widely to include ties with India and New Delhi’s concerns – ALYSSA AYRES, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations

The White House has been leading a regional strategic review of US policy toward South Asia — not simply a review of US-Pakistan ties, but a review of American involvement in Afghanistan and strategy toward the region.

It is my sense, based on the public statements about counter-terrorism and Pakistan made during PM Modi’s visit in June, that the administration is viewing the region widely to include our ties with India and New Delhi’s concerns, not just through an Af-Pak lens.

Mattis decides to withhold U.S. cash from key Pakistani military fund

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Dan Lamothe 

People gather around a vehicle hit by a drone strike in which Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the head of the Taliban, was believed to be traveling in the town of Ahmad Wal in Baluchistan, Pakistan on May 21, 2016.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has decided that the Pentagon will not give Pakistan the remainder of a key U.S. military reimbursement fund allotted to the country for 2016, a move that could signal a burgeoning hard-line approach by the Trump administration toward Islamabad. 

The Pentagon announced the move to withhold $50 million in “coalition support funds” in a statement Friday, saying it had determined Pakistan had not taken “sufficient action” against the Haqqani network, the Taliban offshoot responsible for numerous attacks on civilians and military targets in neighboring Afghanistan. Reuters was first to report on the development. 

“This decision does not reduce the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over previous years,” said Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, in the statement. 

The move comes less than a year after Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter decided to withhold $300 million from the same fund for the same reason: that Pakistan was not going after the Haqqani militants. 

Pakistan’s Proudly Double-Dealing Intelligence Service


Pakistan’s intelligence organization, known as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has ensnared the U.S. in a double game for years.

Operating in the shadows of the Pakistani “deep state” – a term used to reference the country’s political system, which is dictated by unelected military and security officials – the ISI has strategically fashioned a mutually beneficial relationship with the U.S. since the late 1970s and 1980s, when it worked alongside the CIA to funnel money and weapons to mujahideen fighters battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan. In the aftermath of 9/11, ISI officials claimed to have aided U.S. forces in capturing or killing several top al Qaeda leaders, including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

At the same time, however, the ISI has never lost sight of its own agenda, which gives priority to counteracting the activities of India, and to ensuring that any government in Kabul owes no allegiance to India. To that end, the ISI supplied the Taliban with weapons and cash to help it rise to power in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Despite denials from senior Pakistani officials, many experts agree that the ISI continues to protect and assist the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), all designated as terrorists by the U.S. government, as part of its strategy to keep Afghanistan on unstable footing and advance its ambitions in the disputed Kashmir region bordering India and Pakistan.

China's Belt and Road Comes to Nepal

By Ashutosh M. Dixit
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The Belt and Road could help Nepal reduce its economic dependence on India. 

Thanks to a recently signed memorandum of understanding between Nepal and China, Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been discussed as a possible alternative gateway for Nepali access to China, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. Nepal, so far connected to world trade through the southern route and India, has not been able to fully utilize its potential due to infrastructural clogs across the border, including lack of road, rail, and port facilities.

Nepal faces an arduous challenge in uplifting itself from a least developed country status to middle income country by 2030. The priorities for the country are meeting need for connectivity, creating employment, and increasing trade. A World Bank study estimates that Nepal needs to invest 2.3 to 3.5 percent of GDP annually to adequately develop its connectivity alone, including strategic and local roads. The BRI, which is exclusively focused on bridging the infrastructure gap, can help fill the financial and material void of the Himalayan nation. Moreover, remembering trade obstruction at the southern border of Nepal in 2015, which choked the economy for three months, the situation demands that the country should start analyzing the pros and cons of joining the BRI.