23 August 2017

*** The PLA at 90: On the Road to Becoming a World-Class Military?

By: Dennis J. Blasko, Elsa Kania, Stephen Armitage

China recently celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with a parade and military exercises at the Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia (CCTV, July 30). Although the display was characterized as a demonstration of China’s growing military might—particularly new equipment and weapons platforms, including advanced missiles and aircraft—the event also provided important indications of the PLA’s approach to operations and the first-ever demonstration of an actual military operation during a parade. The PLA’s anniversary celebration thus reflected its progress toward becoming a “world-class military” and confidence despite remaining challenges related to the ongoing, historic reforms. Shortly after the parade, Xi Jinping announced: “The PLA has basically completed mechanization and is moving rapidly toward ‘strong’ informationized armed forces,” achieving the 2020 goal of its “three-step development strategy” (PLA Daily, August 2).

PLA Parades in Perspective

Traditionally, PLA parades such as those held in Beijing in 2009 and the 2015 Victory Day Parade—have tended to be highly choreographed displays that are counterproductive in terms of the force’s operational capabilities in actual combat (实战), taking considerable time away from training for the units involved (China Brief, September 24, 2009). For prior parades in Beijing, units from all over the country were required to send personnel and equipment to prepare for the drive down Chang’an Jie months in advance, losing the opportunity to train in a more realistic way for almost an entire training season.

** DOKLAM THEN AND NOW: FROM BRITISH TO CHINESE INTERESTS, FOLLOW THE MONEY

BY TSERING SHAKYA

A stalemate in the Himalayas, a three-way territorial struggle, fears of foreign hegemony and dreams of a commercial invasion involving the centre of world manufacturing ... sound familiar?

On February 16, 1768, the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London wrote to Warren Hastings: “we desire you to obtain the best intelligence you can whether cloth and other European commodities may not find their way to Tibet, Lhasa and the Western parts of China.” This spurred the British exploration of the Himalayas, an effort that has led today to the face-off between the two giant armies of India and China, who now stand on the brink of war.

During the 18th century, chambers of commerce in towns across Britain met and demanded the British government build roads to open up Tibet. They envisioned a future in which the people of Tibet would be “wearing clothes manufactured in Manchester and eating with cutlery produced in Sheffield, and the caravans bearing silk and tea of China [would] come saving half the time and expense through the passes of Sikkim and Bhutan”. The British dreamt merchants from Paisley, Dundee, Bradford and Aberdeen “shall dip their pitchers into the sacred stream, and deal out its bounty to the people of the land”. Captain G. Chenevis, the British trade agent in Leh, wrote that “in the direction of Tibet, a commercial invasion of that mystic country with riches of Szo Chan and Kansu and Shensi in China as the objective, would I believe, be profitable”. The Bradford Chamber of Commerce declared such an outcome would boost the wool trade, while the British-run Calcutta Chamber of Commerce spelt out the international implications of this thirst for wealth: “there should be no power vacuums, no border Alsatias, which could be filled by others.”

Doklam foretold


The Doklam stand-off was inevitable. It may be resolved peacefully but it is a manifestation of the larger geopolitical contest that is playing out in Asia between India and China. How do we respond? Economically, it is a no-contest because it is only in 2030 that India will reach the size of China’s 2014 GDP. Perhaps the answers lie in geography. Expanding from its peripheries, China has economically secured its borders.

Trade with the five Central Asian republics has risen from $1.8 billion in 2000 to $50 billion in 2013. Northward, the Han Chinese have moved into inner Mongolia and invested heavily in underground metals in Mongolia. About 90 per cent of Mongolian exports go to China. The Chinese population in its Northeast region is also slowly creeping across the border into the Russian Far East. In Southeast Asia, the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are closely tied to China. The total trade volume of ASEAN with China is projected to increase to $1 trillion by 2020.

Chinese presence in Afghanistan and its massive investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor has enabled China to effectively skirt the Himalayan barrier and come to India’s northwest, a region to which India has been historically sensitive because it was the main invasion route into the Subcontinent. Moving into South Asia, China has become the largest trading partner of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is developing the Gwadar port in Pakistan, has taken over the operation of Hambantota in Sri Lanka and operationalised the gas and oil pipelines from Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu port to Kunming. However, the Chinese also have major geographical weaknesses in the maritime domain.

How China gained from Partition

by C. Raja Mohan

The occasional reflections on the tragedies of Partition rarely include the consideration of its geopolitical consequences. The sundering of the political space in the Subcontinent gets a lot less attention in the narratives of independent India’s international relations than the sentimental accounts of Delhi’s non-alignment and moralpolitik.

Even today, it is not easy for the Indian elites to recognise that the geopolitical legacies of Partition remain the biggest drag on India’s larger global aspirations. None of it more important than the fact that China has turned out to be the biggest long-term beneficiary from the division of the Subcontinent.

Nothing illustrates the different geopolitical evolution of India and China since the mid 20th century than the simple question of territorial consolidation. Consider the following: India was divided in 1947 and China was united in 1949. The Subcontinent’s great partition locked the successor states — India and Pakistan — in a perennial conflict. China overcame an era of fragmentation to come together as a strong nation.

If the British Raj emerged as a powerful state by generating a measure of political and administrative coherence to the Subcontinent, its dissolution accompanied by division resulted in the strategic diminution of its successor states, India and Pakistan.

LAC ‘war-gamed’, no free run for China

Ajay Banerjee

In the past decade or so, India has “militarily tailored” its defences along the Himalayas and China could be surprised if an armed clash breaks out.

A repeat of the 1962 debacle, when Peoples Liberation Army of China, with a few exceptions, literally overran the Indian military defence, is just not possible in 2017, is an assessment in India.

In early 2004, India stepped up efforts to secure areas along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) — the de facto boundary. Every possible route of ingress is continuously “war gamed” by the Army. “War-gaming” is an art of predicting future outcomes of military postures of rivals, fine-tuned by regular military exercises with the IAF, study of satellite imagery and available inputs.

Since 2004, around 60,000 troops have been added along the LAC. This includes three new Army divisions and three additional brigades. Part of these form the newly raised Mountain Strike Corps. As of now, India has some 14 divisions (13,000-14,000 troops in each) — facing China that has 15-16 divisions facing India.

Over the past five years, a few regiments of tanks have been added to the mechanised forces at specific places in eastern Ladakh and northern Sikkim. In Arunachal Pradesh, India has added troops. It has converted six British-era mud-paved runways into fully paved landing grounds for the IAF. One of these can be a forward base for the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets. Leh has an airfield with abilities to launch 24x7 strikes. Kargil and Thoise in Ladakh have functional airfields.

Can Russia Keep Its Balance Between China and India?

By Charlotte Gao

Russia claims that its military drills with India are not against China 

When China and India have shown no signs of deescalating the tensions in the Doklam area, Russia is trying to keep its balance between China and India.

As The Diplomat reported, India and Russia are going to hold a large military exercise from October 19 to 29 in Russia. On August 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry told China’s national news agency Xinhua that the upcoming Russia-India exercise is not against China.

During the weekly briefing, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova replied to Xinhua:

Russia does not carry out military exercises or other cooperative events that may lead to worsening relations of a country we maintain multilateral ties with… Russia always provides all interested parties with comprehensive information, in order to stop any speculation on such issues as soon as possible.

On August 15, Sergei Yermakov, deputy head of the Military and Political Studies Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, said that the India-Russia drills “ have been held regularly since 2003. They are announced in advance and details are made known.” The expert also noted that the recent Russian-Chinese naval exercises took place in the Baltic Sea, which was far from Russian and Chinese “domestic bases.”

70 Years of the Radcliffe Line: Understanding the Story of Indian Partition

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri

On its 70th anniversary, a review of the Radcliffe Line. 

When the British partitioned India and departed the subcontinent 70 years ago, the delineation of the border between the new states of India and Pakistan — the Radcliffe Line — had not yet been released. That would have to wait two more days.

Although the boundary was finalized on August 12, it was published on August 17, 1947, ostensibly to avoid confusion on independence day itself, and in order to buy more time to manage the chaos that was sweeping throughout the provinces of Bengal and Punjab. The Earl Louis Mountbatten, the last British Governor-General of India, also allegedly did not wish for the question of the boundary to take precedence over the independence day celebrations he would preside over in Karachi and Delhi. As a result, when India and Pakistan became independent, some border districts incorrectly believed themselves to be one or the other of those two countries, when in fact, the opposite was the case.

How was the border between India and Pakistan decided? The basic principle underlying the border, and the decision to partition India itself, was the two nation theory, the main proponent of which was the All-India Muslim League, a movement that represented the Muslims of British India. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the movement’s leader, expounded on the theory in a speech in Lahore in 1940:

India Clear Purchase of 6 US-Made Attack Helicopters

By Franz-Stefan Gady

This is first time that the Indian Army will operate U.S.-made Apache attack helicopters. 

The Indian Army’s Aviation Corps (AAC) will soon operate six U.S.-made AH-64E Apache heavy attack helicopters following today’s approval of the purchase by the Defense Ministry’s top procurement body, the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Indian Minister of Defense Arun Jaitley.

The new helicopters for the AAC are expected to be delivered beginning in 2020, following the completion of an order for 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for the Indian Air Force placed in 2015. The 2015 contract contained a clause for a follow-on order of 11 extra Apaches and seven Chinooks at a fixed price that agreed upon in 2013 following over then American price validity extensions. As I explained earlier this year the purchase has caused considerable friction between the Indian Army and Air Force:

For a number of years, the Indian Army has been engaged in a tug of war with the Indian Air Force over who should operate this future fleet of Apache gunships. The Army initially asked for the gunships to be inducted into its ranks, or for the Air Force to at least share the helicopters with the ground forces. The Air Force, however, rejected both proposals.

Afghan decision ‘close’ as Trump gathers advisers


President Donald Trump will again consider his options for the 16-year-old Afghan War on Friday when key members of his Cabinet convene at Camp David — a discussion that his advisers and key lawmakers hope will bring an end to the administration’s drawn-out strategic review.

“We are coming very close to a decision, and I anticipate it in the very near future,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday of the meeting, which will also include Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other national security advisers.

In an earlier Pentagon appearance Monday, Mattis told reporters that “all options” are still on the table.

“We’re sharpening each one of the options so you can see the pluses and minuses of each one, so that there’s no longer any new data you’re going to get,” Mattis said. “Now just make the decision.”

The options the Pentagon is presenting are straightforward, and nothing the president has not seen before: Stay the course with the current strategy, which combines counterterrorism with a relatively narrow advise-and-assist mission to support Afghan government troops; add the several thousand additional American forces that the top U.S. general there has asked for; send in private contractors; or withdraw.

Can China Be Taken Seriously on its ‘Word’ to Negotiate Disputed Territory?

By Namrata Goswami

Beijing has a habit of signing, and then ignoring, “guiding principles” on maintaining the status quo in disputed areas. 

As the world witnesses the growing threat of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, China, which many hope can influence North Korea, is engaged elsewhere in an escalating crisis. China has been embroiled in a border standoff since June 16 in the Doklam area of Bhutan. The conflict started when People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineers crossed into Bhutan on June 16, and began construction of a motorable road from Dokola to Jampheri, which houses a Bhutan army camp. In a press release issued by the Bhutan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country asserted that such Chinese activities amounted to “a direct violation of the agreements and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between our two countries. Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained as before 16 June 2017.”

Significantly, China and Bhutan have no official diplomatic relations; yet both have held several rounds of talks on boundary demarcation and have pledged to resolve their border differences peacefully. In 1988, China and Bhutan signed an agreement on the “Guiding Principles” and in 1998 they signed an agreement on “Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility in the Bhutan-China Border Areas.” As per these agreements, both countries committed to resolve the border dispute peacefully through dialogue and consultation, and restrain from any activity that would threaten the peace. Both committed to uphold the status quo and not change either their borders or establish physical presence. In essence, both agreed to uphold their respective border positions established prior to March 1959.

Chinese luxury consumers: More global, more demanding, still spending


Even as growth slows, there’s a sizable, and sophisticated, pool of luxury shoppers in China. But brands need to take a new approach to keep them interested.

With luxury consumption dropping in 2016 to its lowest level since 2009, much attention has been focused on one of the biggest forces in global luxury spending: Chinese consumers. As the Chinese economy slows, and growth in luxury consumption cools in China and abroad, there’s a growing concern among industry observers that Chinese consumers are losing their passion for luxury goods.

Could luxury lose its appeal for Chinese consumers? And how will this weigh on the outlook of the global luxury market? These are some of the questions we address in our latest analysis of Chinese demand for luxury goods. For more than eight years, we have been monitoring the evolution of Chinese luxury consumers and their increasing influence on the global luxury-goods market. Our latest research focused on understanding the fundamental attitudes and behaviors of Chinese luxury consumers.

This article, based on our report Chinese luxury consumers: The 1 trillion renminbi opportunity, looks at some of our findings. First we consider the role of Chinese consumers in the global luxury market, then look at ways their buying behaviors have evolved, as well as at shopping patterns at home and abroad. Finally, we present some of the implications for luxury players trying to tap into this market.

China vs. America Managing the Next Clash of Civilizations

By Graham Allison

As Americans awaken to a rising China that now rivals the United States in every arena, many seek comfort in the conviction that as China grows richer and stronger, it will follow in the footsteps of Germany, Japan, and other countries that have undergone profound transformations and emerged as advanced liberal democracies. In this view, the magic cocktail of globalization, market-based consumerism, and integration into the rule-based international order will eventually lead China to become democratic at home and to develop into what former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick once described as “a responsible stakeholder” abroad. 

Samuel Huntington disagreed. In his essay “The Clash of Civilizations?,” published in this magazine in 1993, the political scientist argued that, far from dissolving in a global liberal world order, cultural fault lines would become a defining feature of the post–Cold War world. Huntington’s argument is remembered today primarily for its prescience in spotlighting the divide between “Western and Islamic civilizations”—a rift that was revealed most vividly by the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. But Huntington saw the gulf between the U.S.-led West and Chinese civilization as just as deep, enduring, and consequential. As he put it, “The very notion that there could be a ‘universal civilization’ is a Western idea, directly at odds with the particularism of most Asian societies and their emphasis on what distinguishes one people from another.”

IT’S TIME TO BRING BACK THIS COLD WAR AGENCY AND STOP CEDING THE PROPAGANDA WAR TO RUSSIA

Will DuVal and Adam Maisel

The United States has recently been ridiculed for losing the ongoing information war, and has fallen victim to successive propaganda and disinformation campaigns orchestrated by Russia without a significant response. Given Russia’s aggressive meddling in the 2016 US elections, along with other concerted efforts to delegitimize Western democracies and their institutions, it is imperative for the United States to adequately respond to Russian “active measures” in the information environment.

Information warfare—or information operations (IO) in US military doctrinal parlance—transcends any single leg of the Clausewitzian trinity (the soldier, the state, and the people) and requires a concerted approach across all disciplines to be coordinated and effective. Currently, these efforts remain stovepiped within the US government and lack the coordination and partnership necessary for success, as Curtis Kimbrell highlighted in a recent piece for MWI. Of the four instruments of national power (“DIME”—Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic), the “I” has often been obscured by its more tangible counterparts. But never before has the “I” been so significant than in the Information Age.

Optimizing efforts to deter foreign influence on the American public and conduct effective information operations requires an independent agency trusted with a more extensive task than existing government and military entities operating in the information environment. With adversaries and competitors continuing to demonstrate effective central planning in information warfare, it is increasingly clear that the US government can no longer let each of its components fight piecemeal. Creating an overarching agency to coordinate information operations across the US government is the only way to coordinate whole-of-government efforts and effectively utilize the array of US capabilities across the global information environment.

WHEN SHOULD THE PRESIDENT USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS?

REBECCA HERSMAN

In the United States, we do not just elect a president. We elect a commander-in-chief, and the Constitution grants that person tremendous power to protect and defend the nation. In doing so, the founding fathers entrusted an awesome responsibility to our electorate. No burden on the American president is greater than the authority to use nuclear weapons in defense of the nation. The U.S. nuclear arsenal, as well as the command and control system that surrounds and supports it, is designed to protect the United States and its allies from the most severe and catastrophic threats that are unresolvable through any other measure.

For this reason, the president is granted extraordinary authorities regarding the use of these weapons. But these authorities are not boundless, nor should they be. These authorities depend on context and are constrained by law and policy. Only the president can authorize the use of nuclear weapons, and a rigorous process and protocol exist to ensure that he or she can do so appropriately. These well-practiced procedures and mechanisms are designed to ensure that the president has all necessary information and the best advice from legal experts, military commanders, and civilian leaders, when these extraordinary circumstances arise.

Getting into your competitor’s head

By Hugh Courtney, John T. Horn, and Jayanti Kar

The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008 shows, with painful clarity, that we live in an interdependent business world. In bleak times and fair, the success of a company’s strategy often depends greatly on the strategies of its competitors. In periods of financial turmoil, for instance, the prospects—and even survival—of a bank often depend on the near-term M&A of its rivals. Similarly, the ultimate success of Boeing’s new commercial jet, the 787 Dreamliner, will depend on the way Airbus positions, markets, and sells its new and competing A380 and A350. Pfizer’s ability to sustain market share and profitability in the market for cholesterol-lowering treatments will depend on the moves of the company’s branded and generic pharmaceutical competitors, to say nothing of biotech and medical-product companies developing alternative treatments.

This strategic interdependence implies that the ability to anticipate your competitors’ strategies is essential. Yet a recent survey of business executives found that the actions and reactions of potential rivals almost never play a role in, for example, decisions to introduce and price new products.1 An important reason for this neglect, we believe, is that strategic-planning tools, such as game theory and scenario planning, are of limited use unless a company can correctly define the key elements of the strategic game, especially the strategic options and objectives of competitors. This is no easy task. Rare is the company that truly understands what its competitors and their decision makers care about most, how they perceive their assets and capabilities, and what all this means for their strategies. A company with such insights could reverse-engineer the moves of competitors and predict what they were likely to do. In a credit crunch, for instance, such a company would be well positioned to buy financial and nonfinancial assets at attractive prices if it knew that poorly capitalized competitors would avoid new risk and therefore not bid for these assets.

Former Commander: Here’s What Happens When the President Orders a Nuclear Strike

James Winnefeld

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen quickly this week on the heels of another long-range missile test, combined with public revelations that the Kim Jong-un regime may have miniaturized a nuclear weapon that can be mated to such a missile. If the North Koreans have also managed to solve the other significant challenges associated with a viable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—which is not at all certain—then they will have achieved an embryonic operational capability. 

We knew this was coming. Yet now that the rhetoric is running high, many are concerned that we are on the brink of nuclear war. Even though the possibility of such a war is remote, it has evoked understandable curiosity among the public regarding how the U.S. chain of command would function for ordering a nuclear strike, and whether or not sufficient checks and balances exist to prevent a costly mistake. 

On the face of it, it’s actually very simple: The president orders the strike, which is then passed to the secretary of defense, and directly to the appropriate four-star combatant commander (the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in the loop to provide advice and transmit orders, but he is not technically in the chain of command). In the case of a nuclear strike against North Korea, the commander of United States Strategic Command, based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, would likely be the responsible commander (a conventional strike would likely be conducted by the commander of United States Pacific Command). 

Anatomy of terror: What makes normal people become extremists

By Peter Byrne

It takes more than religious fanaticism or hatred to make someone take innocent lives, but recognise the true roots of ISIS-inspired terror and they can be addressed 

VERA MIRONOVA rides Humvee shotgun through Mosul’s shattered cityscape. It is late January 2017. Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has just declared east Mosul liberated from three years of rule by Islamic State, or ISIS. Most jihadist fighters are dead or captured, or have crossed the Tigris to the west, digging in for a final stand. Left behind, biding their time, are snipers and suicide bombers.

Much of the population has fled to refugee camps on the outskirts. Those who stayed look lost and dazed. Men pull corpses out of houses destroyed by air strikes. Others cobble together street-corner markets, selling meat and vegetables imported from Erbil, 80 kilometres and another world away.

Few women are visible. Mironova stands out, dressed in combat trousers and a Harvard sweatshirt, wisps of blonde hair escaping her blue stocking hat. Despite travelling in an armoured car, she’s clearly not a combatant. She’s a social scientist, and her job is not to fight, but to listen, learn and record.

US Army microsatellite heads to space to aid war fighters on the ground

By: Jen Judson 

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A U.S. Army microsatellite demonstrator is hitching a ride aboard a SpaceX Dragon on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Roughly the size of a minifridge, the satellite — along with 6,400 pounds of supplies and equipment on the spacecraft, which launched Monday at 12:31 p.m. EDT — will reach the station on Wednesday.

Kestrel Eye is a small, low-cost optical imaging satellite demonstrator that will test the utility of microsatellites in low-Earth orbit, providing images to war fighters on the ground at the tactical level during critical operations, according to Chip Hardy, the Kestrel Eye program manager at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, or SMDC, and Army Forces Strategic Command’s Technical Center.

While the objective system would provide images rapidly directly to the ground war fighter, the demonstrator will transmit images to a ground station at SMDC in Huntsville, Ala., and to a ground station in the U.S. Pacific Command, or PACOM, area of operation, Hardy told Defense News last week at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.

The images won’t be HDTV-crisp but will be transmitted at a “tactically useful resolution,” Hardy said.

Army Boosts Stryker Firepower, But Active Protection Lags

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND: The Army is rapidly upgunning its 8×8 Stryker vehicles to better deter the Russians in Eastern Europe, as we wrote yesterday. But soldiers are still figuring out how they’ll use the new vehicles. And the service as a whole is struggling to update the entire armored force, from the 20-ton Stryker to the 70-ton M1 Abrams, let alone develop all-new vehicles the way Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain would want.

This week, the focus here is on test-firing the new Strykers: the Dragoon variant with an unmanned turret holding a 30mm autocannon, and the CROWS-J weapons upgrade that adds Javelin anti-tank missiles to the rest of the Stryker force. The Army’s also looking to improve the Strykers’ defenses with Active Protection Systems to shoot down incoming missiles, but testing has just begun.

By contrast, the Army’s built eight prototypes of the 30mm Stryker Dragoon— two of them have already been destroyed to test their defenses — and the first of 83 production vehicles arrives this month. The last of 83 vehicles earmarked for the Germany-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR) will be delivered in May.

“It is a marked increase in capability,” said Lt. Col. Troy Meissel. “(But) we don’t know how directly it’s going to impact our tactics, our doctrine, and that’s what this next phase of the operation…is. How are we going to incorporate it into the 2CR formation and employ it in the European theater?”

New Army CIO/G-6: Network should support war fighter, not vice versa

By: Mark Pomerleau 

With the dual-hat responsibility of being the Army’s chief information officer and leading G-6, the Army’s communication and C4 division, its new head intends to focus heavily on the latter job.

"I want to make sure that I pay close attention to the G-6 role," Maj. Gen. (promotable) Bruce Crawford said at TechNet Augusta on Thursday in his first public remarks since assuming the role Aug. 1 from retired Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell.

“I’m of the opinion that one of the major lifts for me as the G-6 and chief information officer is ... I won’t call it a pivot because you’ve got both CIO responsibilities and you’ve got G-6 responsibilities, but I am going to orient and I am going to focus on the G-6 responsibilities because that’s where a lot of our people are,” Crawford added. ”That’s where the young, hungry captains and lieutenants are. That’s where the sergeant is, and that’s where the warrant officer lives.”

Following his remarks at the Augusta, Georgia-based conference, he told C4ISRNET there are several roles for the G-6 from a war fighter’s perspective. One involves ensuring the personnel with the proper skill sets are serving in the appropriate roles.

“One of the big jobs of the G-6 is to make sure — especially down through the grade of major and captain — that we are putting the right people in the right places,” he said. This will involve more than hosting a forum, he added — there must be a solid relationship.

The Global Top 10 Android Apps


The top ten Android apps in the world last month had a combined download figure of over 354 million.

According to Priori Data, at the top of the list was the ever popular WhatsApp with 104 million. In fact, apps developed by Facebook account for the lion's share of the list, with WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger/Messenger Lite and Facebook/Facebook Lite hauling in a combined 297 million downloads.

This Is Why Quantum Computing Is More Dangerous Than You Realize

Jason Bloomberg

I write and consult on digital transformation in the enterprise. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. 

Quantum computing may still largely reside in the realm of scientists, but assuming it’s too many years off to be relevant today would be a serious mistake.

In reality, quantum computers are now commercially available. The research has largely exited the pure science phase and is now focusing on resolving engineering challenges.

Furthermore, progress continues at an exponentially accelerating pace, extending Moore’s Law well beyond traditional semiconductor-based microprocessors.

But the real reason you should pay attention: quantum computing can – in theory – defeat all modern encryption. From secure banking transactions to confidential correspondence to, yes, Blockchain – quantum computing can crack them all quickly and simply.

One more thing: don’t let my ‘in theory’ caveat provide any comfort. Theory is well on its way to becoming cold hard reality, sooner than you realize.

Trump elevates U.S. Cyber Command, vows ‘increased resolve’ against threats


President Donald Trump on Friday announced that U.S. Cyber Command will be elevated to a “Unified Combatant Command,” putting it on equal footing with existing organizations that oversee military operations in the Middle East, Europe and the Pacific.

The move ends years of rumors, speculation and debate over when the right time would be to spin out the Pentagon’s cyber war unit, which has rapidly grown since its 2009 inception. The Obama administration reportedly came close to pulling the trigger in its final months, and Trump’s White House has reportedly also been on the cusp of making the move official for weeks.

In a statement, Trump declared that the new arrangement “will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our Nation’s defense.”

The long-debated boost, he added, “demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries.”

Before his inauguration, Trump vowed to bolster Cyber Command, potentially including the development of more cyber weapons meant to deter attacks on the United States.

California-Based Software Company Palantir Technologies Has Made Government Surveillance Big Business


Palantir has made government surveillance big business. It’s a multi-billion dollar company built mainly on government contracts. Its tech prowess and computing power have made it the go-to company for data harvesting and many of its most loyal customers are local law enforcement agencies.

Mark Harris of Wired has put together a fascinating expose of the company’s workwith US law enforcement based on documents obtained via FOIA requests. What’s uncovered does little to alter Palantir’s reputation as an enemy of personal privacy. What’s added to this rep isn’t any more flattering: the documents show Palantir handles data carelessly, ties customers into overpriced support/upgrades, and otherwise acts as though it has to answer to no one.

In one case, files marked as sensitive by a Long Beach drug squad detective were still accessible by other officers who shouldn’t have had access. Multiple emails to Palantir failed to resolve the issue. Making it worse was the fact the problem couldn’t be contained in-house. When agencies sign up for Palantir services, they’re given heavily-discounted rates if they allow their data to be shared with other law enforcement agencies. Detectives hoping to protect sensitive sources and undercover cops from outside access were finding out their employers had signed that option away in exchange for cheaper initial pricing.

Infographic Of The Day: Cybersecurity - The 6 Trillion Dollar Problem


As more of our personal information goes online, it becomes even likelier that we will be personally affected by some type of hack.


22 August 2017

*** Russia's Targets Hit Back


In its hybrid war against countries near and far, Russia has fought its share of losing battles. The country's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, for example, prompted Congress to redouble its sanctions against Moscow, even though the Kremlin's desired candidate won the race. Similarly, in the Baltic states, Russia hasn't managed to replicate the success of its disinformation campaign in Moldova, where voters elected a presidential candidate sympathetic to Moscow in November 2016. Hybrid warfare, after all, is not a one-sided game. In each of the three tiers of countries that Russia has targeted, states have responded in kind with a full range of countermeasures. 

Fighting Fire With Fire

Russia's military and paramilitary actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, a response to the Western-backed Euromaidan uprising in Kiev, met with an array of reprisals. On the ground, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization beefed up its presence and security commitments in Poland, the Baltics and Romania. The United States and NATO have increased security support to Ukraine, too, as the country retools and bolsters its military capabilities to meet the defense bloc's standards. Kiev, meanwhile, has worked to subvert the Russian-backed rebels in Donbas in retaliation for the protests and attacks Moscow and the separatists have sponsored on its territory.

** Spain a Fault Line Between Islam and the West

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BRUCE HOFFMAN

Thursday’s attack in Barcelona – and possibly today’s attack in Finland – are yet more tragic examples of how common objects such as vehicles and knives can be used as weapons by terrorists to generate an overarching sense of fear and inflict mass casualties. Western authorities and intelligence agencies have remained vigilant in thwarting these attacks, but it is nearly impossible to track every potential suspect or to guard every potential target. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with counterterrorism expert Bruce Hoffman, author of Inside Terrorism, now in its third edition, to discuss the recent events in Barcelona, how the U.S. and countries in the EU are working to combat the evolving terrorist threat, and if we should expect even more ISIS driven attacks as the group continues to lose territory in Syria and Iraq.

The Cipher Brief: Before yesterday’s attack in Barcelona, the most recent large-scale terrorist attack in Spain was in 2004 in Madrid. How effective has Spain’s counterterrorism strategy been over the years?

Bruce Hoffman: Spain, for at least a couple of years now, has been at the second highest level of national alert. So beyond any doubt, the country has been extremely vigilant and well prepared for a terrorist incident. This is a reflection of the fact, at least according to the research of the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid, that there have been nearly 200 arrests of persons in Spain with links to ISIS or al Qaeda between 2013-2016. Interestingly, there has been a similar number of either Spanish nationals or residents of Spain leaving to fight with ISIS overseas, which is even lower than the U.S. number. This strongly points to the fact that the challenge in Spain is very much of a homegrown phenomenon with radicalization occurring both online and throughout social networks in that country itself for operations in Spain and not necessarily elsewhere.

India Is Still Haunted By the Aftershocks of Partition

Michael Kugelman

Partition has left a deep, diffuse and damaging legacy across India, Pakistan and even broader South Asia.

This week marks the seventieth anniversary of Partition—one of the bloodiest and most traumatic events of modern times.

The basic history is well known. In August 1947, Great Britain granted independence to British India. The prized colonial possession was split into two new nations: Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Millions of Muslims fled India and millions of Hindus fled Pakistan to relocate to their new religious homelands. Horrific orgies of violence accompanied these mass migrations, producing—according to some estimates—up to two million deaths.

Partition, not surprisingly, has left a deep, diffuse and damaging legacy across India, Pakistan and even broader South Asia.

Above all, Partition has given India and Pakistan perpetual identity crises. Both countries have struggled to define the role of religion in the state. Independence leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah once spoke of Pakistan, which was established as an Islamic state, as a haven for religious tolerance and diversity. However, subsequent leaders Islamicized the country, helping give rise to the religious extremism that afflicts Pakistan today. Sadly, the Pakistanis most vulnerable to extremist violence are religious minorities—whose families, decades earlier, made the brave decision to stay put at Partition.

Stone-Pelting at Lake Pangong: India, China Border Tensions Under the Spotlight

By Ankit Panda

On August 15, an Indian border patrol in Ladakh intercepted an attempt by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers to cross the Line of Actual Controls in the Pangong Tso (Lake) area. The incident saw some escalation, with troops on both sides eventually resorting to shoving, pushing, and throwing stones at the other, causing injuries.

According to the Indian Express, PLA troops “tried to enter the Indian side in two areas — Finger Four and Finger Five — twice between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.” Indian border patrols were successful in preventing the incursion attempts, which fell on India’s independence day.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed the incident at Pangong Lake four days after it occurred. “I can confirm that there was an incident at Pangong Tso on August 15… Such incidents are not in the interest of either side,” an MEA spokesperson noted, without specifying the extent of injuries on either side.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, has not directly addressed the facts of the incident, with spokesperson Hua Chunying mentioning that she was not “not aware of the details” the day after the incident.

On August 17, Hua told a reporter that she was “not aware of the ongoing engagement or dialogue between the border troops of the two sides on the ground,” referring the question to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, which has yet to publicly comment on the incident.

Doklam stand-off won’t lead to “full-blown war”

Shankar Kumar

India and China are not prepared for a war over Doklam plateau in Bhutan, assessed JNU professor Srikanth Kondapalli, a well-known China expert who is back from Beijing and Shanghai after spending two months there. In a telephonic interview with Shankar Kumar, Kondapalli said both countries will not opt for war as it will be catastrophic and millions would die.

The continued stand-off between India and China at Doklam is leading to a rise in tempers in both sides. Do you think it may worsen with both countries resorting to war over it?
I don’t think the present stand-off at Doklam will escalate into a full-blown war. Neither India nor China is prepared for a war. China may attack Indian bases around Sikkim and India may retaliate, yet they will never go for a war because they know that results will be catastrophic. Both sides millions of people will die due to the war. And for merely 89 square km area, I don’t think India and China will allow so much bloodbath and killings.

You have been regularly visiting China and interacting with Chinese media, academicians and think tank experts. What is their outlook towards India over Doklam?

See, unlike India where we have free press with varied public opinions, Chinese media and think tanks are under the government’s control, where they can’t have any dissenting voice or adversarial comments (against the government). So everything remains state-sponsored there. We have to keep this in our mind. Under the Chinese state perspective, Doklam is its territory and in support of their claim they say they possess records of tax collections from graziers of the (Doklam) area. They make a similar argument with the South China Sea also. They say the Sea covering 3.2 million square kilometre fall under the Ming dynasty’s nine-dashed line. They say India has occupied their territory and Indian forces are occupying forces and hence they have to withdraw from it unconditionally and immediately. Their second argument is that in the 21st century, you can’t have a country in a vassal relationship. India is suppressing Bhutan and is violating its independence. 

Evolving Internet in India

Leslie D'Monte

Most digital natives, or those born with the word cyberspace hardcoded in their brains and lives, would perhaps not realise that compared to India’s 70 years of Independence, the Internet in the country is relatively young at 31. It even celebrates its public birthday on 15 August.

While the origins of the global Internet date back to the 1960s, India first went online only when the Educational Research Network (ERNET)—a joint undertaking of the Department of Electronics (DOE) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)—was launched in 1986. Back then, the Internet was only meant for the use of educational and research communities.

Even when cyberspace was first thrown open to the public in India on 15 August, 1995, by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL)—now known as Tata Communications Ltd.—we used to access the Internet using a modem (short for modulator-demodulator)—a device that enabled a computer to transmit data over telephone or cable lines by converting analog signals into digital ones.

The modem was not an easy beast to tame. It would emit a gargling sound and not connect easily with the telephone line. One had to repeatedly dial to make a connection with the bigger computer network of the Internet services provider (ISP). Moreover, there was no guarantee that you would get to surf the web without interruptions even when it connected finally.

4.1 million jobs that can change India

Osama Manzar

I have often discussed how the key to job creation lies in the utilization of information and digital technologies. While I don’t have a laundry list of the kinds of jobs that should be available, I do have a framework in mind for the kinds of skills we need for future jobs that will be dependent on a connected India. So allow me to elucidate on the kinds of skills needed to create relevant employment opportunities for the future and a scenario that can simultaneously uplift rural communities.

There are about 250,000 panchayats across India. The government envisions that all of them will be connected to the Internet in the near future under its ambitious National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) project. However, is merely connecting them enough? There is a need to have every panchayat that is online to have its own exclusive website, where members can share updates, notifications, roles and responsibilities, and budget allocations in a transparent manner. For this to be possible, there is a need to have at least one person from that panchayat or village who is trained in handling technology and another person who is trained in managing information. Together, at the panchayat level, these two people can manage the website, curate content for the website and disseminate local governance-level information to the public through digital tools. Further, a third person should be trained to manage and troubleshoot in case of basic issues related to network failures, rather than be dependent on a technician who will travel from the nearest town or city. This usually takes days, if not weeks, to solve the problem.

After clash in Ladakh, India braces for more 'shallow intrusions' by PLA


Rajat Pandit

NEW DELHI: The Indian forces are bracing for more "shallow intrusions" or "needling probes"+ from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in vulnerable spots along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), according to sources in the Indian defence establishment.

This assessment comes even as the two forces held a border personnel meeting (BPM) in eastern Ladakh on Wednesday to calm down tempers, a day after Indian and Chinese soldiers pelted stones at each other+ near Pangong Lake.

The PLA is unlikely to try anything near the already restive Sikkim-Bhutan-Sikkim tri-junction+ because Indian troops are militarily much better-placed there and can easily threaten China's narrow Chumbi Valley in the region, if required, the according to India's assessment. "But the PLA could try something in eastern Ladakh, as was seen on Tuesday, or eastern Arunachal Pradesh or Lipulekh Pass and Barahoti in the central sector (Himachal-Uttarakhand)," one of the sources said.

The Indian defence establishment, however, is sticking to its belief that China will not risk a full-fledged war despite its major build-up of troops, artillery, air defence, armoured and other units in the southern part of the Tibet Military District that falls under the Western Theatre Command (WTC) of the PLA, after the Doklamconfrontation erupted on the eastern front in mid-June.