30 June 2017

*** 'Kashmiris are going nowhere'

'Their redemption is here. Definitely not in Pakistan.'

'They know if they step 20 steps on the other side of the Line of Control they will never return.'

'They will be ill treated.'

What do Kashmiri stone pelters mean when they shout 'Azaadi'?

What do the Kashmiris want?

What are the factors destablising the Kashmir valley? What are the solutions?

Did the September 28, 2016 surgical strikes serve their purpose?
Is peace possible in Kashmir?

As Northern Army Commander, Lieutenant General K T Parnaik was the man in charge of defending the Line of Control, supervising the security and anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir and guarding the China border.

How do you assess the situation in the Kashmir valley today?

There are 4, 5 influencing factors that are destablising the valley.

If we segregate them and handle them individually, then collectively we can bring the situation under control.

*** Realizing India's Tax Reforms

After three years in office, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has centralized power enough to give his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the leeway to pursue long-awaited reforms. Modi's administration achieved a victory on that front in the first quarter, when Parliament passed the Goods and Services Tax bill. But the task of introducing the changes prescribed in the law still lies ahead of the prime minister and ruling party. While India will likely manage to implement, at least in part, the sweeping tax reform by the government's July 1 deadline, lingering disagreements between state leaders and their national counterparts in New Delhi over tax classification will frustrate progress. In fact, the states of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, two of the strongest objectors to the tax scheme, resisted adopting local versions of the legislation until recently. Their success putting the laws into practice will serve as a test case for the overall efficacy of the measures in India. In addition, complications bringing the businesses in India's vast informal economy into compliance with the laws, as well as obstacles to getting the plan's information technology infrastructure system up and running, will hold up the implementation process.

In part because of the fitful progress of the tax reform, India's business climate is unlikely to improve in the third quarter as the central government hoped it would. India's $2 trillion economy will keep struggling to attract foreign investment into its manufacturing sector, the focus of Modi's "Make in India" initiative. Of course, in a democracy of nearly 1.3 billion people, change is a gradual process, and the tax reform package, even if only partially implemented, marks a landmark achievement for India. The measures' implementation marks the first of many steps toward unifying the country's fragmented economy, boosting interstate trade, streamlining supply chains and increasing gross domestic product growth.

** The World Is Even Less Stable Than It Looks


I’m normally leery of the pervasive threat inflation that tends to dominate discussions of foreign policy. Because the United States is so strong and in such a favorable geopolitical location, pundits and policymakers have to pretend the sky is falling to justify bigger military budgets and convince the public to keep meddling in distant lands. And whether the threat is falling dominos, “creeping Sharia,” the “axis of evil,” or even “violent extremism,” the actual threat these faraway dangers pose is usually exaggerated.

Right now, however, we’re at a moment when I think genuine concern is warranted. This is not to say that we’re on the brink of a major war, let alone a global clash of great powers. But flammable material is accumulating and it is hard to have high confidence in the political leadership in several key countries (including here in the United States). We would all do well to take stock of the global order: Is the world more secure than it was a year ago? Specifically, is the risk of war increasing or decreasing? Is the danger of a serious economic crisis higher or lower? Are the institutional arrangements and norms that help smooth and resolve conflicts of interest and enhance the prospects for international cooperation more or less robust than they were in June 2016?

** Could the Army's WIN-T Inc. 2 Survive a Russian or Chinese Electronic Warfare Attack?


Critics of the network are raising questions as to its ability to perform necessary combat functions amid jamming, electromagnetic interference and cyberattacks from a technologically advanced enemy.

An Army analysis of battlefield networks will likely closely assess the extent to which its flagship combat Satcom and radio network can be “hardened” and made more resilient against the kinds of electronic warfare and cyberattacks likely to occur in a major-power, near-peer type mechanized war.

The Army’s mobile Satcom and high-bandwidth communications network, Warfighter Information Network Inc. 2, has been fielded to at least 16 Brigade Combat Teams and has performed well in combat during ongoing ground wars.

Unlike WIN-T Inc. 1 which transmits combat relevant information between “fixed” command centers, the Inc. 2 network utilizes vehicle-mounted “High-bandwidth Networking Radio” and satellite-dish connectivity to enable mission-command on-the-move; with WIN-T Inc. 2, commanders moving through warfare in combat vehicles can view and share moving digital maps, battle-relevant intelligence information and fast-changing force-location information. 

** Kissinger, Thatcher and the death of Westphalia

By Robert Colvile

The world order that has lasted for decades is breaking down Nato has become a shield to hide behind, not an active strategic organisation 

Kissinger echoed and amplified Thatcher's warnings about the threats facing us 

Henry Kissinger’s speech today at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Security was framed as a tribute to Thatcher. In fact, it was a conversation with her.

Speaking to the conference – organised by the Centre for Policy Studies, CapX’s parent body – Kissinger shared a few memories of the former Prime Minister. Her lecturing him about how politics was about moving the centre, not moving towards it – while still a little-known education minister. Her splenetic response when he asked her which of the compromises suggested by the Foreign Office over the Falklands she favoured.

Way Forward on the Gorkhaland Issue

Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, particularly the hill portion excluding the southern tehsils of Phansidewa, Kharibari, Siliguri and Matigara, have been in a politically driven near-total civic upsurge since June 12. The provocation was the May 16 decision by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) controlled West Bengal government to institute a three-language formula in school education throughout the state. Under the formula, Bengali will be compulsorily taught up to Class X, although students would not have to take an examination in the subject. The Bimal Gurung led Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which wields substantial political influence over the nearly five lakh Nepali-speaking Gorkha people inhabiting the two districts, is spearheading the ongoing protests. It considers the West Bengal government’s decision a threat to the Gorkha ethno-cultural identity and socio-economic interests.

Exclusive Opinion Piece: Bolstering India’s National Security Space

By Vidya Sagar

India is taking dedicated steps to acquire space assets that can safeguard its national security and enable it safeguard global commons as a responsible leading power. Even as the existing capabilities were able to deliver during critical times, there are certain urgent requirements to be fulfilled. A dedicated roadmap could be developed for this purpose in addition to signalling to the adversaries that India is prepared to protect its space assets.

India had successfully launched another satellite in the Cartosat-2 series recently. This adds to the existing series of earth observation satellites providing operational pictures in different ranges that can be used for national security purposes. India placed in orbit dedicated communications and remote sensing satellites for defending its borders and maritime areas from impending threats. However, it is yet to secure certain space capabilities for ensuing foolproof national security.

Blockchaining India’s digital future

Pranay Ahluwalia

Almost as soon as he was elected, India’s “reformer-in-chief” sought to upend the inefficiency and corruption endemic to the country’s lackadaisical bureaucracy. Citing bureaucrats’ struggle to get in their usual round of golf, The Washington Post’s Annie Gowen wrote, “Babudom is now in peril”. Three years later, it seems the reports of Indian bureaucracy’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

While there is no denying that the Narendra Modi government has attempted to hold the babus accountable, these efforts have been misplaced. By targeting non-performing individuals in an archaic and defective system, Modi hopes to leverage his man-management skills to enable him to deliver on his campaign pledge of “minimum government, maximum governance”. Such an approach, however, only offers stop-gap solutions while systemic governance issues are allowed to persist. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “Digital India”, the government’s flagship initiative seeking to create an interface between the government and people. Though the initiative is often cited for its potential to realize the aspirations of 1.2 billion (and counting) Indians by bringing them into the 21st century, it betrays the lack of a sustained strategy and vision, particularly with respect to governance.

In Fixing the Afghan Army, We Need to Start with The Afghan Air Force

By Gary Anderson

President Trump has decided to allow the Pentagon to send in more American troops to reinforce the Afghan security forces which are faltering in the face of this year’s annual spring/summer offensive by the Taliban. This is a welcome change for the military which chafed under President Obama’s arbitrary timelines for the “Afghanization” of the war. It is easy to blame Obama for the sorry performance of the Afghan National Army (ANA) since 2012, but the military and Pentagon planners need to ask themselves some hard questions. The Pentagon has tried to build a competent ANA for nearly two decades now under two (now three) presidents; the results have been sub optimal at best. In planning its mini-surge the Pentagon planners need to ask themselves not what they did wrong, but what they didn’t do right. In my view, the primary answer is logistics. Combat arms officers (and I was one of them) have a tendency to roll their eyes when logisticians begin to pontificate, but I have spent enough time observing the ANA to be convinced that a better air supply chain is the answer to many of its problems.

To understand the problem, we need to understand the nature of the war. Afghans on both sides of the conflict know how to fight. Their natural instincts may run counter to western norms, but given proper support, they will fight effectively. The primary difference between the two sides in this conflict is that the Taliban are largely fighting on home ground and are able to use interior lines of communications (LOCs) for logistics. The ANA was built on western lines; it requires longer LOCs and most of its troops are fighting far from home. We have not adequately addressed those challenges.

Implementing the 2030 Agenda in Pakistan: the critical role of an enabling environment in the mobilisation of domestic and external resources

Ali, Murad 

This study examines the role of an “enabling environment”, an atmosphere of good governance and effective public financial management (PFM), in mobilising resources needed for the implementation of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires substantial financial resources, and generation of those resources is largely contingent on the presence of an enabling institutional and policy environment. If an environment of good governance with effective PFM institutions can be ensured, the domestic and external resources necessary for the achievement of the SDGs can be mobilised. In environments where PFM systems are ineffective, corruption is rampant, and transparency and accountability are minimal, it is unlikely that sufficient resources for sustainable development will be mobilised. There are four principal financing sources: domestic, international, public and private. While the sources have grown in recent years, they are still markedly less than adequate for successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This paper first assesses the centrality of enabling environments for sustainable development at the global level, then applies the framework to a Pakistan case study. The operationalisation and implementation of the 2030 Agenda is examined at the country level by analysing the implications of an enabling environment, or lack thereof, for domestic resource mobilisation (DRM) and for attracting foreign financing in the form of development cooperation and foreign direct investment (FDI). In view of the overall strong link between an enabling environment and its potential for resource mobilisation in developing countries, including Pakistan, there is a need for consistent locally-driven efforts and strong political will to improve the quality of governance and create an environment that is conducive to resource generation for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.



In the midst of Trump administration developing its policies on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the experts in Washington, are divided. The key question seems to be how to make Pakistan cease its support to the Haqqani Network and other militant groups that are destabilizing the region, especially Afghanistan. Moeed Yusuf and Stephen Hadley wrote an op-ed published by The New York Times offering some insights on the subject. In War on the Rocks, Christine Fair responded critically. Having myself been involved in Pakistan’s foreign and security policy both, as a state employee in a senior advisory role and a scholar, it seems to me the two articles misconceive not only Pakistan’s threat perceptions but also the ability of the United States to influence Pakistan’s behavior. Hence, the two articles offer the same old tried, tested, and failed approaches to handling Pakistan.

First, both opinion pieces re-package an archaic understanding on Pakistan’s strategic anxieties. Yusuf and Hadley drum up the old narrative peddled by the Pakistani establishment of its fear of being squashed between Afghanistan and India as a reason to resort to militant support. They write, “To get Pakistan to alter its approach in Afghanistan, the United States must understand and address Pakistan’s strategic anxieties.” Christine Fair, on her part, provides an equally dated response that the United States needs to “signal to Pakistan that it does not consider its Indian fantasies to be credible.”

‘Indispensable’ Palau Deal At Risk; Will China Get Access?


“Palau is indispensable to our national security and funding the compact is key to our strategic presence in the region.” That’s what the Defense Department’s 2018 budget request says — but the House Armed Services Committee disagrees, defunding a $123.9 million payment that gains us access to the islands.

Why is Palau indispensable? Look at the map. That will help. It commands approaches to the Philippines and to Indonesia, as well as Papua New Guinea. And, of course, they flank the Marshall Islands, as well as a wide range of Pacific islands flanking our ally Australia. Also, one source notes that the importance of Palau airfields have taken on “increased importance for PACOM/PACAF given Duterte and his rhetoric in the Philippines.” It provides “a more guaranteed form of access to airfields in the second island chain,” this source says.

And you can read what the head of Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 27:

China’s role in the next phase of globalization

By Jonathan Woetzel

The country could exert leadership in seeking to preserve globalization’s benefits while addressing its downsides. 

Globalization has been a powerful force for economic growth. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that the movement of goods, services, finance, data, and people across borders adds to GDP and fuels productivity growth—and China has been one of the world’s major beneficiaries. The nation’s period of double-digit GDP growth in the mid-2000s was fueled by even faster growth in the flow of goods in and out of China. As exports surged from just $257 billion in 2000 to $2.4 trillion in 2016, China became the world’s top exporter. 

But while globalization accelerates growth, it also amplifies inequality and disruption. Across 25 advanced economies, some two-thirds of households experienced stagnating or declining income from 2005 to 2014—all while watching the wealthiest few in their countries realize tremendous gains. This growing inequality has spawned a political backlash, with calls for protectionism and immigration restrictions gaining traction in many countries. This path could have damaging consequences in a world still struggling to jump-start growth. 

Iran Could Win Saudi Arabia's Qatari Gamble

By Meysam Tayebipour

The Qatar crisis flared up when the official Qatar News Agency quoted Sheikh Tamim, the Emir of Qatar, as saying that “there is no wisdom in harbouring hostility towards Iran”. These words not only effectively supported Iran, but criticised the US and Saudi Arabia’s policies towards it. Qatari officials quickly announced that the news agency had been hacked, and the report was “fake news” – but it was too late.

For Saudi Arabia, which views Iran as its main rival and is taking every opportunity to isolate it, these words were intolerable. It promptly corralled its allies in the Middle East (notably the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain) to collectively cut off their relationships with Qatar and impose a series of sanctions. These, Riyadh said, would be lifted if Qatar agreed to a list of 13 “non-negotiable” demands, including cutting diplomatic ties with Iran, shutting down the al-Jazeera news network, and ending “interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs”.

In doing so, Saudi Arabia took a gamble. Qatar has two options: accept Saudi Arabia as a “big brother” and comply with its diktats, as most of the Gulf states do, or continue with an ambitious and relatively independent foreign policy and further incur the Saudis’ wrath.

Mattis: After Raqqa, Syrian Battlefield Will Only Get More Complicated

by The Washington Post

As the fight against the Islamic State moves beyond its de facto capital in Raqqa, the Pentagon is readying itself for an increasingly complex battlefield in northern Syria, where U.S.-backed forces, pro-Syrian government troops and Russian jets will likely all be fighting near one another.

Speaking to reporters on his way to Germany Monday to meet with European allies, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis spoke broadly about the U.S. military’s future operations against the Islamic State in the Euphrates River Valley, adding that it will take “more precision” to stave off any incidents between the disparate forces operating there.

“You have to play this thing very carefully,” Mattis said. “The closer we get, the more complex it gets.”

Mattis also acknowledged that the U.S. would continue to supply Kurdish forces in the north with weapons despite objections by U.S. ally Turkey. “When they don’t need them anymore we’ll replace them with what they do need,” he said.



If you’re a Europe-based think tanker, policy wonk, or commentator, Donald Trump and Brexit are great for business. Just about every Brussels pundit is leading off his musings about Europe’s future with some sort of Trump or Brexithook. If you haven’t heard by now that either Trump, Brexit, or — ideally — both offer historical windows of opportunity for European defense cooperation, you’re way outside of the Brussels bubble.

Those invested in the notion that the European Union can become strategically autonomous interpret pretty much whatever happens out there as a catalyst for greater European defense cooperation. Every time there is some sort of global crisis or “external shock,” catalyst-related narratives pop up — there are just too many politicians, officials, and pundits in Europe who lust after such narratives.

Time for the Pentagon to Overhaul Drone Management, New Report Says


As the Pentagon writes a long-term drone plan, the former head of Air Force intelligence has some suggestions. 

The U.S. military needs to overhaul the way it buys and manages its larger drones, according to a new report from a retired general who used to oversee Air Force intelligence.

The push comes as the Pentagon puts the finishing touches on a new roadmap for unmanned systems, a plan that is expected to guide the military for the next 25 years.

“We have to treat the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise in a much, much more efficient and effective fashion than we have in the past,” said David Deptula, a retired lieutenant general who is now the dean of the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute think tank.

Deptula — who retired in 2010 as the Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — is also pushing to put one office in charge of all of the military’s drones that fly at medium and high altitudes with manned aircraft. In uniform and since his retirement Deptula has has pushed for Pentagon leaders and Congress to name the Air Force the executive agent for unmanned aircraft.

Stratfor Worldview’s 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast

June 27, 2017

Based on the principle that transformative world events are not random, but are in fact predictable, Stratfor develops decade, annual and quarterly forecasts. These forecast are built upon Stratfor’s geopolitical methodology, our framework for identifying and forecasting the fundamental trends shaping the international system. Below are the global trends highlighted in Stratfor’s forecast for the third-quarter of 2017. The complete forecast is available at Stratfor Worldview.

The U.S. Exits Stage Left?

When world leaders gather in Germany for the approaching G-20 summit, they will no doubt make a slew of assertions — some alarmist, others justified — about a U.S. retreat from the global stage. Talk of leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping stepping in to fill the void and uphold global governance on major issues such as free trade, climate change and security can be expected. But there is an underlying reality to that narrative that should be kept in mind.

Too Many Generals in the Situation Room?

Editor’s Note: The Trump administration, more than any of its predecessors, is relying on serving and retired military leaders to staff key civilian positions, including much of the National Security Council. Too often this is caricatured as a militarization of foreign policy, but the effects—for better and for worse—are probably far more complex. Loren DeJonge Schulman and Amy Schafer of CNAS assess the likely impact of the prominent role of military figures and argue that their perspective is a valuable one but that countervailing points of view are also necessary for U.S. foreign policy to be effective.

From the moment President Trump nominated James Mattis as his secretary of defense, the swamp has made hand-wringing over civil-military relations a fine art. There are veterans on the NSC staff! There are generals in the West Wing! There are no political appointees in the Office of the Secretary of Defense or the State Department! The president is delegating to the military!

Russia's Perpetual Geopolitics

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For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century, Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. By 1900, it was the world’s fourth- or fifth-largest industrial power and the largest agricultural producer in Europe. But its per capita GDP reached only 20 percent of the United Kingdom’s and 40 percent of Germany’s. Imperial Russia’s average life span at birth was just 30 years—higher than British India’s (23) but the same as Qing China’s and far below the United Kingdom’s (52), Japan’s (51), and Germany’s (49). Russian literacy in the early twentieth century remained below 33 percent—lower than that of Great Britain in the eighteenth century. These comparisons were all well known by the Russian political establishment, because its members traveled to Europe frequently and measured their country against the world’s leaders (something that is true today, as well).

Ukraine is Ground Zero in a New Global Malware Attack


The quick infection of nearly 300,000 computers worldwide is reportedly due to two software exploits released in April by the hacking group called the Shadow Brokers. 

A sweeping set of cyber attacks hit critical services in Ukraine this morning, and have so far shown no signs of slowing down. The attacks appear to be related to a new strain of the ransomware known as Petya, which Costin Raiu, director of global research and analysis at Kaspersky Lab, says is already spreading worldwide.

In the space of hours, Ukraine’s government, top energy companies, private and state banks, main airport, and Kyiv’s metro system all reported hits on their systems. The attacker was not immediately clear—Wired, in a recent story, described Russia as using its neighbor as a “test lab for cyber war,” but Moscow denies any part in past attacks. Its own state oil giant Rosneft also reported being hit by a cyberattack today; Rosneft’s website was unresponsive at time of writing. It’s unclear if the attacks are linked. Another Russian oil firm, Bashneft, has been hit too.


WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee’s markup. To view the mark and to watch the markup live click here.

“The Subcommittee meets today to markup H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

I want to thank the Ranking Member and all of the members of the subcommittee for their attendance and participation in the overall process this year. I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to Ms. Tsongas, as well as to her staff, for their support and cooperation in putting this mark together. Subcommittee Members have been actively engaged on the important issues facing the subcommittee in a bipartisan manner. This mark addresses the priorities of the Members on both sides. 

Throughout this year’s NDAA process the committee has repeatedly heard that the total force is strained as the Services continue to do more with less. We heard testimony from the service chiefs about lacking the capability and capacity they need to address current and future threats and the increased risk incurred meeting mission requirements. During subcommittee hearings we heard how air and land forces continue to face significant challenges in rebuilding full spectrum readiness from years of deferred modernization funding. 

Transforming How Troops Fight in Coastal Urban Environments

As nation-state and non-state adversaries adapt and apply commercially available state-of-the-art technology in urban conflict, expeditionary U.S. forces face a shrinking operational advantage. To address this challenge, a new DARPA program is aiming to create powerful, digital tools for exploring novel expeditionary urban operations concepts—with a special emphasis on coastal cities, where future such battles are deemed most likely to occur. The program will test the new tools and concepts in an integrated virtual environment, with the ultimate goal of developing fluidly composable force packages able to maximize tactical advantage in these complex, urban environments.

The program, dubbed Prototype Resilient Operations Testbed for Expeditionary Urban Scenarios (PROTEUS), seeks to deliver a software platform for use on a tablet or other personal device that would enable dynamic and adaptive composition of battlefield elements—including dismounted forces, vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), manned aircraft, and other available assets—simultaneously across multiple command levels as the fight is evolving. The second focus area of the program is to develop an entirely new interactive virtual testbed, using novel mechanics built around multiscale decision making, to evaluate operational concepts spanning multiple domains, such as ground, sea, air, and electromagnetic spectrum.

Bombers: Long-Range Force Projection in the 21st Century

By Jerry Hendrix 

On Christmas Day in 1914, three former cross-channel packet ships, the Engadine, Empress, and Riviera, stood off the island of Heligoland in the North Sea. Under the watchful eye of the Royal Navy cruisers Arethusa and Undaunted, the three ships pulled back the tarps erected on their sterns and forecastles to reveal nine seaplanes. The aircraft – three Short Folders (Short was the company name; Folder was the model and denoted the aircraft’s ability to fold its wings for storage), four Short 74s, and two Short 135s – were assembled and carefully lowered into the water. The Folders had a 67-foot wingspan, were powered by a 160-horsepower engine, and weighed 3,040 pounds fully loaded. The other two models were derivatives of the original Folder and had similar, if not exact, characteristics. Seven of the nine aircraft were able to get airborne (the other two were unable to break the dynamic tension of the water) and headed eastward carrying three 20-pound Hale bombs apiece, each of which contained 4.5 pounds of explosives within 13 pounds of steel guided by aluminum tail fins. Combined, the 21 bombs had less destructive power than one 13-inch shell fired from a British battleship, but these weapons could be taken directly to their targets and dropped precisely on top of them.

Coming soon: joint international cyberspace operations

By: Mark Pomerleau

As U.S. Cyber Command continues to mature its workforce, operations and tactics, so too are allied nations, some of which are also standing up cyber commands.

Just as the U.S. enjoys information sharing, intelligence sharing and cooperative battlefield integration with friendly international forces, the it is seeking to do the same in cyberspace.

CYBERCOM is currently working on a concept of operations draft about defensive cyber ops with the Five Eyes nations, which includes the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Brig. Gen. Maria Barrett, deputy of operations J-3 at CYBERCOM, at a June keynote address hosted by AFCEA’s Northern Virginia Chapter announced the development of the draft.

“This included a tabletop exercise with the participants to better understand the friction point when it came to how we might operate in defensive operations together,” she said.

Beginning with the Five Eyes partners made sense given the robust intelligence sharing information the already exists, Lt. Cmdr. Brian Evans, lead strategist and defensive cyber operations planner in the Defense Department Information Network Operations and Defensive Planning Division at CYBERCOM, told C4ISRNET on the sidelines of the Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 15.

Trends And Priority Shifts In Artificial Intelligence Technology Invention: A Global Patent Analysis

By Hidemichi Fujii and Shunsuke Managi*

Patent applications are a good indicator of the nature of technological progress. This column compares trends in applications for artificial intelligence patents in Japan and the US. One finding is that the Japanese market appears to be less attractive for artificial intelligence technology application, perhaps due to its stricter regulations on the collection and use of data.

The number of patents granted has rapidly increased. Figure 1 shows the number of artificial intelligence (AI) patents granted by application country and technology type and reveals that it has increased more than threefold (from 708 items in 2012 to 2,888 items in 2016). In particular, AI patents granted in the US increased by 1,628 items during this period (Figure 1a), accounting for approximately 75% of the increase worldwide.

Figure 1 Trend of AI patents granted, 2000 to 2016 (number of items)

a) Number of AI patents granted by country

The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak

In what is the largest known data exposure of its kind, UpGuard’s Cyber Risk Team can now confirm that a misconfigured database containing the sensitive personal details of over 198 million American voters was left exposed to the internet by a firm working on behalf of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in their efforts to elect Donald Trump. The data, which was stored in a publicly accessible cloud server owned by Republican data firm Deep Root Analytics, included 1.1 terabytes of entirely unsecured personal information compiled by DRA and at least two other Republican contractors, TargetPoint Consulting, Inc. and Data Trust. In total, the personal information of potentially near all of America’s 200 million registered voters was exposed, including names, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers, and voter registration details, as well as data described as “modeled” voter ethnicities and religions. 

This disclosure dwarfs previous breaches of electoral data in Mexico (also discovered by Vickery) and the Philippines by well over 100 million more affected individuals, exposing the personal information of over sixty-one percent of the entire US population. 

The data exposure provides insight into the inner workings of the Republican National Committee’s $100 million data operation for the 2016 presidential election, an undertaking of monumental scope and painstaking detail launched in the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012. Deep Root Analytics, TargetPoint, and Data Trust—all Republican data firms—were among the RNC-hired outfits working as the core of the Trump campaign’s 2016 general election data team, relied upon in the GOP effort to influence potential voters and accurately predict their behavior. The RNC data repository would ultimately acquire roughly 9.5 billion data points regarding three out of every five Americans, scoring 198 million potential US voters on their likely political preferences using advanced algorithmic modeling across forty-eight different categories. 

Petya ransomware slams Windows PCs shut in massive attack

by Alfred Ng

Another widespread ransomware attack is threatening to wreak havoc across the world. 

Businesses and government agencies have been hit with a variation of the Petya ransomware -- that is, malware that holds crucial files hostage. The malware is demanding $300 in bitcoin before victims can regain access.

The new ransomware, identified by security firm Bitdefender as GoldenEye, has two layers of encryption, researchers said. It locks up both your files and your computer's file system.

"Just like Petya, it is particularly dangerous because it doesn't only encrypt files, it also encrypts the hard drive as well," said Bogdan Botezatu, a senior threat analyst with Bitdefender. 

The malware forces an infected PC to reboot as soon as it finishes encrypting files, so you'll see the ransom demands as soon as possible. Researchers at Recorded Future said there's also a hidden Trojan on Petya that steals victims' usernames and passwords. 


A writer going by the ‘pen name,‘ Wagas posted an article recently on the website, HackRead.com,with the title above. Mr. Wagas writes that hackers are now using the heat/effluents, as a mechanism to insert malware, and/or, hack into mobile devices, and other Internet-connected ‘things.’ Cyber security researcher, Ross Bevington (@FourOctets on Twitter), recently demonstrated how to hack a computer/mobile device at the London B-Sides Conference on cyber security held on June 7, 2017 in London.

Mr. Bevington’s technique involved using the heat/effluents from the e-cigarette to “trick” the mobile device or computer into believing that “it” [the e-cigarette], “was a keyboard.” And, Mr. Bevington was also able to “interfere” with the targeted computer/mobile device’s “network traffic,” as well. Hackers are able to successfully utilize this technique, “because most of the e-cigarette’s come with a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery, which can be plugged into a cable, or directly connects to the USB port of a computer,” Wagas wrote.

Using Cyber War Games to Improve Incident Response

When the financial services industry undertook a cyber attack simulation called Quantum Dawn in 2013, the exercise shined a spotlight on the importance of cyber war games in helping organizations improve incident response.

Quantum Dawn is an example of how complex cyber war games can be. But not all cyber attack simulations need be so involved. Even a simple rehearsal can help organizations identify gaps in their incident response processes, key decision makers (and blockers of key decisions), and other issues they need to address to properly prepare for a real-world incident. Simple rehearsals allow even small security teams to benefit from the concept of cyber war games.

29 June 2017

Cabinet decisions on allowances of Government Employees: To be paid with effect from 01 July 2017

Here is a gist of today’s major cabinet decisions for allowances of Central Government employees based on recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission, in layperson terms:

1. Total number of allowances decreased from 197 to 128. To be paid with effect from 01 July 2017.

2. An additional Cell for Siachen introduced in the Risk and Hardship Matrix. The amount enhanced to Rs 42,500 for Officers and Rs 30,000 for ranks other than Commissioned Officers. The rates recommended by the 7th CPC were Rs 31,500 and Rs 21,000 respectively.

3. HRA rates decreased to 24%, 16% and 8% for X, Y and Z cities respectively. However the rates to go up to 27%, 18% and 9% and then 30%, 20% and 10% whenever the rates of DA touch 25% and 50% respectively. The HRA would however remain protected at 30%, 20% and 10% for the lowest possible pay under the Government and would not hence be less than Rs 5400, Rs 3600 and Rs 1800 for any employee.

4. Newly proposed Dress Allowance to be paid @Rs 5000, 10,000, 15,000 and 20,000 per year to employees of various categories. This subsumes all other uniform related allowances.

5. Ration Money Allowance (RMA) not abolished but will be paid directly with the salary in lieu of actual rations to officers posted in peace. Will update readers once there is more clarity on this issue.

6. Facility of One additional Railway Warrant extended to CAPFs and Coast Guard.

7. Field Area Allowances to be regulated @Rs 6,000-16,900. Counter Insurgency Allowance also at the same rates.

8. MARCOS and Chariot Allowance to Marine Commandos and also COBRA Allowance to CRPF personnel in Naxal areas to be granted @Rs 17,300-25,000.

9. Flying allowance @Rs17,300 to 25,000, also extended to BSF’s Air Wing.

10. Deputation Duty Allowance ceiling for defence personnel increased from ₹2000 - ₹4500 per month to ₹4500 - ₹9000 per month.

11. Fixed Medical Allowance for pensioners increased to Rs 1000 per month and Constant Attendant Allowance increased to Rs 6,750.

*** Technology Helps the Lawless Find Digital Safe Spaces

By Scott Stewart

Advancements in digital encryption will soon put the communications of terrorists and other criminals beyond the reach of law enforcement. And in the wake of the London Bridge attack on June 3, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to work with democratic governments on cyberspace regulations to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. The press and privacy advocates criticized her when she suggested that internet encryption was providing "safe spaces" for terrorists to operate.

During interviews with U.S., British and other media outlets after the attack, several journalists asked me what I thought of May's statement, half expecting me to pile on the criticism. Unfortunately, I couldn't, because in many ways I agree with what she's saying. Through digital encryption, terrorists and other criminals will soon have absolute privacy in the digital world — something they've never been able to enjoy in the physical world. The safe spaces, or dark holes, provided by encryption are helping organizations to recruit and equip grassroots terrorist operatives and to direct other operatives with an unprecedented level of security and impunity.

Origins of U.S. Privacy

*** Saudi Arabia Polishes Its Crown Jewel

It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow.

In the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the king is the ultimate decider. On June 21, King Salman implemented a significant decision by shaking up the line of succession to the kingdom's throne with the announcement that his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, would be removed from his role of crown prince in favor of his own son, Mohammed bin Salman. The elevation of his scion capped a two-year period during which Salman handed him successively greater power and more leadership responsibilities. While the shift marks a major change for the succession path, it follows a road the king has long traveled.

Several previous personnel and ministry makeovers since Salman took the throne in January 2015 have emphasized that economic reform is the kingdom's top priority. Amid the first major rounds of government streamlining, the king named bin Salman the head of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, adding to his other official titles such as minister of defense. In April 2016, the massive Vision 2030 economic reform plan was announced, and Mohammed bin Salman has been a public face for reform ever since.

** Military Areas of Control in the Waning Days of Islamic State

By Philip Issa

BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group is in retreat across Syria and Iraq, and the contours of a new conflict among the array of parties battling it are already starting to appear.

The U.S. military shot down a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, saying it had targeted an American-allied Kurdish force that is battling the extremists in their de facto capital, Raqqa. That led Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, to warn that it would target U.S.-led coalition planes flying west of the Euphrates River.

Another front is shaping up on the ground below, with Assad’s forces, which are also battling the Islamic State group, reaching the Iraqi border in the distant east. There they appear set to link up with Iranian-backed militias, establishing a vital land corridor from Damascus to Tehran.

The latest events are unfolding in Syria’s remote east, far from the main battles of the civil war, which is still raging despite a largely ignored “de-escalation” plan brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

** Russia Scuttles Its Grand Maritime Dreams

By Stratfor

A limited defense budget will force the Kremlin to make difficult decisions to prioritize its most critical defense needs. 

The Russian military will temper its maritime ambitions as it reinforces its continental capabilities. 

Russia will not entirely abandon the seas, however, as its greatest security concern will remain its nuclear deterrent, comprising land, air and maritime components. 

Russia's military modernization efforts are entering a critical stage. The state armaments program (GPV), covering 2018-2025, is due to be finalized in September. The plan will determine not only the country's weaponry capabilities well into the 2030s, but also the strategic direction of the Russian military at large. Early indications point toward a significant downgrade in Russia's maritime ambitions as Moscow amps up its focus on continental power.

* Setting up the defence industrial ecosystem

Last week was an interesting one for Indian defence manufacturing. On Monday, Tata Advanced Systems Ltd and US plane-maker Lockheed Martin Corp. signed an agreement at the Paris Air Show to produce F-16 fighter jets in India. On Tuesday, in Delhi, Reliance Defence entered into a strategic partnership with Serbia’s Yugoimport for ammunition manufacturing in India. On Wednesday, back in Paris, Reliance Defence joined hands with France’s Thales to set up a joint venture that will develop Indian capabilities in radars and high-tech airborne electronics.

In Moscow, on Friday, defence minister Arun Jaitley and his Russian counterpart signed off on a road map for strengthening bilateral military ties. Meanwhile, at home in India, the army rejected, for the second year in a row, an indigenously-built assault rifle after it failed field tests—a pointed reminder of how the country’s sub-par defence industry continues to damage the military’s operational preparedness.

A massive cyberattack is hitting organisations around the world

Danish transport and energy firm Maersk has confirmed that its IT systems are down across multiple sites due to a cyberattack, while Russian petroleum company Rosneft has reported a "massive hacker attack" hitting its servers.

Today's security threats have expanded in scope and seriousness. There can now be millions -- or even billions -- of dollars at risk when information security isn't handled properly. 

A number of firms around the world are reporting that they have been impacted by a major cyber attack which the UK's cyber security agency is describing as a "global ransomware incident." 

Many of the initial reports of organisations affected came from Ukraine, including banks, energy companies and even Kiev's main airport. But since then more incidents have been reported across Europe, indicating the incident is affecting more organisations more widely. 

New cyberattack wreaking havoc globally

by Raphael Satter

A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across the world, hitting companies and governments in Europe especially hard.

Officials in Ukraine reported serious intrusions of the country’s power grid as well as at banks and government offices, where one senior executive posted a photo of a darkened computer screen and the words, “the whole network is down.” The prime minister cautioned that the country’s “vital systems” hadn’t been affected.

Russia’s Rosneft oil company also reported falling victim to hacking and said it had narrowly avoided major damage, as did Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk.

“We are talking about a cyberattack,” said Anders Rosendahl, a spokesman for the Copenhagen-based shipping group. “It has affected all branches of our business, at home and abroad.”
The attack was confirmed to have spread beyond Europe when U.S. drugmaker Merck, based in New Jersey, said its systems had also been compromised.

The number of companies and agencies reportedly affected by the ransomware campaign was piling up fast, and the electronic rampage appeared to be rapidly snowballing into a worldwide crisis.
There’s very little information about what might be behind the disruption at each specific company, but cybersecurity experts rapidly zeroed in on a form of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.