6 June 2017

*** Can Trump Come Up with a Comprehensive Strategy to Save Afghanistan?

Arif Rafiq

The last thing Trump should do is further escalate the level of violence in Afghanistan and fall into a long-term occupation of the country.

The Trump administration is in the final stages of a review of its Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. There appears to be a consensus in favor of a modest surge of U.S. and NATO forces, perhaps deployed at the brigade or even battalion level with Afghan forces as part of an expanded train, advise and assist mission. Other complementary options are being considered, including a tougher approach toward Pakistan, possibly involving a renewed drone campaign in the country and the option of, down the road, declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terror.

Mission Creep

The desired end state, it appears, remains unchanged: to halt or reverse the advance of the Afghan Taliban and open up an opportunity for peace talks. But President Trump may end up feeling that some career bureaucrats are trying a bait-and-switch approach on him: offering a winning strategy that requires a low cost in terms of initial troop deployments, while removing time limits on the U.S. engagement, with the result being that Trump owns the war and is compelled to raise troop levels as conditions in Afghanistan inevitably worsen. Indeed, the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that the strategy proposed by the Pentagon would actually require the deployment of fifty thousand U.S. troops—far more than the five thousand requested.

*** Different Visions for Europe

Source Link 
By George Friedman

Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe could no longer rely on others, by which she clearly meant that Europe could no longer rely on the United States. The statement undoubtedly arose in part from her personal friction with Trump. Part of it had to do with politics: Trump is unpopular in Germany, and the German public, particularly the left, has had doubts about the German-American relationship. The country has federal elections in September, and Merkel is under pressure. Her statement generated support from segments of the population that don’t normally support her. But underneath personality and politics, there is a geopolitical reality that has been in place since 1991 and is now emerging fully into view. This reality is that Europe is fractured and, as a whole, its interests have diverged from those of the United States.

Beneath his unusual demeanor during the trip, Trump was representing a view – a rational view – that is increasingly common in the United States. This view holds that NATO was created as a coalition of countries with identical interests: preventing the Soviet Union from invading and occupying Western Europe. NATO was successful because its purpose was clear, there was a deep consensus, and although the U.S. carried much of the burden of defense, other European countries, particularly Germany, carried a share of that burden proportionate to their ability – and would bear the brunt of a Soviet invasion. The alliance made sense.

*** Regional Security and the Islamic Military Alliance

By Kamran Bokhari 

Cooperation between Muslim-majority states has always been an aspiration that has failed to materialize. The fate of a Saudi-Pakistani initiative to form a NATO-style military organization for the Muslim world will not be much different. In fact, the “Islamic Military Alliance” is based on Sunni-versus-Shiite geopolitical sectarian logic that has produced intra-Muslim conflicts for centuries. This tactical alignment between certain Sunni Muslim nation-states is unlikely to come together in a coherent form, much less achieve its stated goal of successfully combating jihadists who have pursued a more strategic project of pan-Muslim unity.

Pakistan has asked Iran to respect its decision to play a lead role in Saudi Arabia’s initiative known as the Islamic Military Alliance, The Express Tribune reported on April 4. A day earlier, Tehran’s ambassador to Islamabad said that while the Pakistanis had taken the Iranians into confidence on the move, Iran maintains serious reservations on the matter. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s defense minister on March 29 confirmed speculation that the country’s recently retired army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, had been given permission to assume the post of commander of the 39-nation military coalition. The defense minister added that discussions were underway to deploy a Pakistani combat brigade in the kingdom.

** India's Projection of Power Through Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

By Sankalp Gurjar

Rescue operations abroad help the Indian military project the image of a responsible power. 

The Indian Navy (IN) is currently assisting the Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan governments in dealing with a devastating cyclone and flood, respectively. The IN has sent its personnel along with relief supplies to Sri Lanka. The situation is still developing with the arrival of the monsoon in southern and eastern India; it is possible that India may send more assistance to the concerned governments. India has rendered similar assistance in previous years, most notably in in April 2015, when Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake. Indian assistance teams were quick to reach interior parts of Nepal and help the citizens affected due to the earthquake.

In 2015, the Indian Air Force (IAF) was deployed in Yemen to bring back Indian and other nationals trapped in the war-torn country. During that relief effort, India rescued nationals from 41 countries apart from bringing home a large number of Indian citizens. Last July, India was quick to get its citizens out of South Sudan as well. In both these efforts, India’s deputy foreign minister himself was overlooking the rescue effort.

** Britain Must Ramp Up Its Fight Against Islamic Extremists

Last week, the United Kingdom’s terror-threat level was deemed critical and armed forces were deployed on British streets. It is difficult to see what further security measures the government could put in place beyond those it has already taken. Though London hasn’t instituted a state of emergency akin to that in place in France, it is moving in the same direction.

It should be noted that such extraordinary measures can’t be maintained as a long-term solution. At some point a threat level that goes up will have to be brought back down, even though the danger of terrorism is far from having gone away. Will Britain simply have to learn to live with terrorism, as the former French prime minister Manuel Valls told the French people they must following the Nice attack?

If an ever-present threat of terror attacks is the new normal, then what more can the government do to keep the public safe? Short of arming all police officers and installing multiple rings of airport-style security at every nightclub, cinema, shopping center and sporting event in the country, it is fast reaching the limits of what can be done to increase security on the ground. The same is probably now true of its surveillance. The government cannot expect its intelligence services to be infallible.

* The Dragon In The Indian Ocean Is Shaping Local Geopolitics; Does India Have A Counter?

Harsh V Pant

After commissioning its first aircraft carrier, a refitted Soviet-era vessel called the Liaoning, in 2012, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) launched its second aircraft carrier, the Shandong or CV-001A, last month. This first 70,000-tonne indigenously produced aircraft carrier of China is likely to be operational by 2020. The elaborate ceremony put on by the PLAN was to signal its arrival in the wider world as a serious naval power. And the world, of course, was watching, especially China’s neighbours who are already feeling the brunt of Chinese maritime expansionism.

There is nothing out of the ordinary in what China is doing. As a rising power, its military advancement is to be expected. Beijing wants to project power far beyond its shores, so a blue water navy is a prerequisite for Chinese ambitions. But it is entangled in maritime disputes all around its periphery from East to South China Sea. Chinese naval presence is growing in the Indian Ocean and the larger Pacific. Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched defence reforms which are taking away resources from land to air and naval power. And the Chinese defence ministry has been articulating the need for PLAN to gradually shift its focus from “offshore waters defence” to “open-seas protection.”

An Ambani On The Ropes Means Govt Has No Option But To Bail Out Telecom

R Jagannathan

The debt crisis of the telecom sector cannot be overlooked anymore. Anil Ambani’s RCom has been downgraded by agencies and the other players too are reeling under debt. If the industry defaults at large, banks already struggling will slide into further misery. 

Here are five steps the central government can take to mitigate the crisis. 

With telecom operators already knocking on the government’s door for relief, alarm bells should be ringing loudly in the finance and communications ministries. Thanks to the entry of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, which offered over six months of free services from last September to this March, the industry is staggering under the weight of debt, which has now crossed Rs 4 lakh crore. Profits are dropping like a stone. In some cases, cash flows are falling to levels at which debt can’t be serviced.

Telecom has linkages to two key areas of government concern: one is as a source of high revenues (both through one-time sale of spectrum through auctions and regular annuity incomes from gross revenue shares); the other is indirect cost – when things go bad in telecom, the debts held by government banks become government’s headache, as any default means banks need more capital.

Around The World, One Country At A Time: How Many Marks For Modi’s Foreign Policy?

Ashok Sajjanhar

How does one rate the Modi government on foreign policy in its 3 years in power?

Secondly, what is the road ahead for India’s foreign policy with Donald Trump in the White House and an increasingly belligerent China?

The last few weeks have seen a plethora of articles, commentaries, discussions and debates in print and electronic media about the achievements and perceived shortcomings in the foreign policy pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the last three years.

While most commentators have given high marks to the government for the vigour and energy as well as vision and direction Modi imparted to the pursuit of international relations, a few have been scathingly critical. They have argued that while relations with Pakistan and China have deteriorated, those with other countries have not witnessed any significant improvement. This assessment, to put it mildly, is flawed and inaccurate.

Having made this assertion, it needs to be admitted that a few policies of the government have not yielded the desired results, primarily because of the rapid and unforeseen changes in global, geo-strategic equations. The international situation continues to be in a state of constant flux and it would be advisable to suitably fine-tune these policies as circumstances demand.

How to share intelligence

M. K. Narayanan

The attack on Trump for sharing information is somewhat inexplicable, and has lessons for other democracies

The United States currently gives an impression of being at war with itself. This stems from a series of charges and countercharges levied against President Donald Trump and his advisers, including that of collusion with the Russians, who are accused of meddling with the presidential election.

Several probes have already been launched in this connection. Meanwhile, the kaleidoscopic nature of the changes taking place in the top echelons of the new administration is hardly helping matters. The peremptory actions of the President, such as the dismissal of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, has only aggravated this situation. Almost every step taken by the new administration is leading to partisan rows. The media and intelligence agencies are far from impartial in their behaviour. Leaks from within the administration, including the White House, have also created a piquant situation. Nothing comparable to this has been seen since the Nixon years.

What Xi Jinping Wants


China’s leader is determined to turn his country into “the biggest player in the history of the world.” Can he do it while avoiding a dangerous collision with America?

What does China’s President Xi Jinping want? Four years before Donald Trump became president, Xi became the leader of China and announced an epic vision to, in effect, “make China great again”—calling for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Xi is so convinced he will succeed in this quest that he has blatantly flouted a cardinal rule for political survival: Never state a target objective and a specific date in the same sentence. Within a month of becoming China’s leader in 2012, Xi specified deadlines for meeting each of his “Two Centennial Goals.” First, China will build a “moderately prosperous society” by doubling its 2010 per capita GDP to $10,000 by 2021, when it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. Second, it will become a “fully developed, rich, and powerful” nation by the 100th anniversary of the People's Republic in 2049. If China reaches the first goal— which it is on course to do—the IMF estimates that its economy will be 40 percent larger than that of the U.S. (measured in terms of purchasing power parity). If China meets the second target by 2049, its economy will be triple America's.

Economically Connecting the Arctic: A Belt, a Road, and a Circle

Welcome to the world’s newest blue water ocean: the Arctic Ocean. You are forgiven if you think the Arctic is a mostly frozen and forbidding place covered in darkness for most of the year. It still is. But this ocean is rapidly changing: since 1979 Arctic sea ice maximum extent has dropped by an average of 2.8 percent per decade; in the summertime, the ice cap declined at 13.5 percent per decade; and the Greenland Ice Sheet lost an estimated 9,103 gigatons or over 9 trillion tons of ice since 1900 and between 25 to 35 gigatons annually. On land, the near-surface permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere is projected to decline by 20 percent relative to today’s area by 2040, and it could be reduced by as much as two-thirds by 2080 under a scenario of high greenhouse-gas emissions. We may be at the dawn of a new Arctic Age.

If so, this dawn has been characterized by hype, hysteria, and hyperbole. Newspaper headlines have declared the Arctic to be the next energy frontier. At $100 per a barrel of oil, companies were interested and enthusiastic about Arctic energy exploration; but with energy prices below $50 per barrel, interest has cooled. The predicted international race for resources is currently a saunter. Sluggish commodity prices and global economic demand have chilled the most ambitious Arctic economic development plans. For example, the Chinese mining firm, General Nice, had announced plans to develop a $2 billion iron ore mine in Greenland, but low commodity prices have placed this investment on hold. And Russian president Vladimir Putin’s 2011 declaration that the Northern Sea Route (NSR) will become a rival shipping route to the Suez Canal is another example of hype distorting the reality of Arctic development. In 2016, approximately 18,000 vessels traversed the Suez Canal; only 19 vessels navigated the NSR.


by RC Porter

For years, the international community has grappled with the threat of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism. And although al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) [1] have demonstrated interest in and some capability to develop and use such weapons, there have been no successful mass casualty terrorist attacks involving them. Attempted attacks involving radiological dispersal devices or chemical and biological means have either failed or had a very limited impact. Experts such as John Parachini [2], Jeffrey Bale and Gary Ackerman [3], Adam Dolnik[4], and Rajesh Basrur and Mallika Joseph [5] argue that the reason is terrorists’ inability to weaponize chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material. Others, including Brian Michael Jenkins, believe that the lack of mass causality attacks [6] also has to do with self-restraint: perpetrators might not be able to control the consequences of such an attack. It could end up harming the members of the communities that the terrorists are purportedly fighting for and could therefore be counterproductive [7].

The recent WannaCry ransomware attack [8], however, could force the expert community to rethink such positions. Although available information suggests that North Korean hackers were behind these attacks, in which hackers took control of about 300,000 computers in over 150 countries and held the victims hostage in exchange for a payment of $300 in bitcoin, there is reason to believe that terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS could not copy the tactic. In doing so, they would cause as much damage (loss of data and equipment) and chaos (in hospitals and other public utilities) as possible, comparable to the chaos and panic that could be caused by a chemical or biological attack.



Orlando, Nice, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Würzburg, Ansbach, Munich, London—and now Manchester. The pattern is becoming depressingly familiar. The news breaks with blurry cellphone footage—pedestrians strolling on a seaside promenade, shoppers enjoying a Christmas market, excited kids leaving a pop concert. Then come the gunshots, a rampaging truck or the jolting explosion—followed by panic, people running, inert bodies. Within the hour, politicians are on the air with a litany of condemnations and condolences.

Even more familiar: the description of the killers—loners, misfits, members of poor Muslim immigrant communities, most of them followers of the death cult known as the Islamic State militant group. Like the attackers who shot up the Bataclan theater in Paris in 2015, the suicide bombers who hit Brussels Airport six months later and the perpetrators of at least 15 attacks against the West over the past three years, Britain’s Manchester bomber was an alienated, angry young son of immigrants who got wrapped up in ISIS and decided to vent at the world by murdering innocents.

Fortress Britain’s Coming Crackdown


In the wake of the Manchester attack, the U.K. government is stationing troops in cities and fast-tracking new laws to access encrypted messages. 

How do you tighten surveillance in a country that already has one of the highest levels of security monitoring in the world? Britain is about to find out.

In the wake of the horrific attack on Manchester on Tuesday, the U.K. government has raised the country’s threat level from severe to critical—a state of alert it adopts when a terrorist attack is believed to be imminent. Troops have also been deployed on Britain’s streets to provide extra security, a sight unseen since 2003, when armored vehicles were sent to Heathrow Airport in response to a terror threat.

The Manchester Terrorist Bombing

On Monday 22 May, at around 10.30pm, a jihadist terrorist suicide bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in the concourse between the Manchester Arena and Victoria train station killed 22 people, including several children, and injured more than 100 others. The attack followed a pattern that has become grimly familiar in Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States. A single terrorist with Middle Eastern roots but born in his host country – radicalised by travel to a ‘field of jihad’ as well as local events; known to counter-terrorism authorities but not considered a serious threat – chose a ‘soft’ target and caused mass casualties while taking his own life. He was inspired by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. As of the date of publication, it remained unclear whether the suicide bomber planned the attack himself.

Like the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Manchester attacker exploited the enjoyments and vulnerabilities of modern, middle-class urban life in an effort to destabilise public interaction and shatter public confidence in the government’s capacity to protect the populace. As ISIS comes under increasing military pressure in Syria and Iraq – which will probably culminate in its battlefield defeat – the group and perhaps al-Qaeda are likely to amplify their incitement of, and assistance in, terrorist operations against soft targets in the West in an effort to maintain their overall threat and political salience.

Washington Needs to Understand the Costs of Its Actions

Jacob HeilbrunnHarry J. KazianisDaniel L. Davis

Editor's Note: In our latest Facebook Live interview (please like our Facebook page to see more of these events) Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest, Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, and Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis (Ret.), a senior fellow at Defense Priorities, discussed the costs of America’s foreign policy.

Daniel Davis recently wrote an article on the war in Afghanistan and how it is no longer serving its purpose. An excerpt of the article can be found below:

Getting the Pentagon´s Next national Defense Strategy Right

By Shawn Brimley for War on the Rocks

What process will the Trump administration use to craft its first National Defense Strategy? It appears that Secretary of Defense Mattis will be personally involved in directing the efforts of a small staff that will provide ‘provocative’ interim products for widespread comment and debate. Here’s why this approach is music to Shawn Brimley’s ears, although he has four important recommendations of his own.

A small Pentagon team has started working on the next National Defense Strategy that, if properly scoped and staffed, will be an important tool for Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to positively shape the Pentagon’s strategy and spending.

For every first-term administration, the development of a cohesive statement of U.S. defense strategy and policy is among the most important steps a new Pentagon team can take. In addition to conveying the new administration’s strategic approach, a good strategic planning process will produce effective mechanisms for guiding the long-term evolution of the U.S. military, and can help shape healthy civilian-military relations along the way.

In late 2015 and early 2016, a series of hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee explored how the Pentagon develops strategy. These hearings ultimately informed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which replaced the legislative foundation of the Quadrennial Defense Review with a much clearer and well-defined set of expectations for a National Defense Strategy. The 2017 NDAA outlineswhat the strategy must include: 
The priority missions and key force planning scenarios; 

*** What Drives Terrorism Part 5: The Media

What drives terrorism? This series has strived to identify the forces that influence trends in terrorist tactics, targets and tradecraft. From them, observers can place attacks in context, and can even anticipate the next evolution in terrorism.

The first part examined the importance of ideology and terrorist theory. The second focused on how political and economic developments influence these dynamics. The third looked at how counterterrorism efforts make their mark on the terrorists they are trying to stop. And the fourth investigated how technology has made its impact on terrorists. These factors are distinct from the psychological and social forces that lead an individual to become radicalized, which will not be discussed here.

This final installment discusses how the media has long played a role in making terrorism what it is. And while it's an important function, especially when combined with the other four influential forces, it has the added benefit of amplifying the message and perceived power a terrorist group - and terrorism in general - has.
Propaganda of the Deed

How to rob a bank, according to economics

By:Corinne PurtillDan Kopf

Bank robberies are great case studies for the economics of crime. They’re premeditated affairs in which a perpetrator has evaluated (consciously or not) the rationality of proceeding. The gains are quantifiable. They also come with a built-in dilemma: every minute a robber stays in the bank increases both the haul and the chance of getting caught.

If you are an economist curious about bank robberies, there is no better laboratory than Italy. From 2000-2006, the last period for which comprehensive public data are available, Italy averaged nearly as many bank robberies each year than the rest of Europe combined. The Italian Banking Association also retains detailed records of every heist, including the duration, amount seized, and if and when an arrest was made.

Economists Giovanni Mastrobuoni and David A. Rivers studied nearly 5,000 bank robberies in Italy between 2005 and 2007. The average heist lasted 4 minutes, 16 seconds and yielded €16,000 (about $19,800 at the exchange rate of the time). Though each additional minute in the bank, on average, leads to about €1,400 more in earnings, the majority of robberies last three minutes or less because the risk of getting caught increases with time.

Countering Threat Networks: A Standard Lines of Effort Model

Understanding networked adversaries and countering threat networks (CTN) is an increasingly common challenge for joint force commanders. This challenge is likely to grow as asymmetric approaches and hybrid warfare become standard for those adversaries who are weaker and search for legitimacy in achieving their objectives. This implies that commanders must be armed with a generally accepted means to understand these threats and prepare plans to thwart them.

This phenomenon is not entirely new to U.S. and allied military forces, as joint force commanders have confronted terrorist networks in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world before and since 9/11. U.S. Southern Command has been fighting criminal threat networks for over 20 years through Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S). Insurgent threat networks are an even older phenomenon, as old as nation-states and those who have sought to overthrow them. These are all valid examples of threat networks; however, a critical, relatively recent development is the convergence of criminal, insurgent, and/or terrorist capabilities into hybrid networks that leverage their respective strengths to create a synergistic threat effect.[1]

With the release of Joint Publication (JP) 3-25, Countering Threat Networks, on 21 December 2016, the joint force now has official doctrine to guide joint force commanders and their staffs as they formulate plans to oppose these most challenging problems. JP 3-25 provides a number of operational level considerations including the importance of interagency integration, planning to counter threat networks, and assessing progress towards victory against threat networks. It also covers the finer details of CTN activities such as fundamentals and best practices for analyzing network structure, counter threat finance, CTN in a maritime domain, identity intelligence activities, and exploitation to support CTN. However, it provides very few specifics for a commander or staff considering how to develop an operational approach, and specifically what lines of effort (LOEs) best achieve operational and strategic end states against threat networks. Finally, JP 3-25 only briefly considers CTN outside of conflict zones, where the full range of friendly military actions will usually be severely restricted.

Private Defense Firms Are Here To Stay – What Does That Mean For National Security?

By Charles Mahoney

June 1 (UPI) — Share prices of many military and intelligence contractors have risen sharply since President Donald Trump‘s election.

Investors are betting that an increase in defense spending will provide a windfall for these firms. For instance, General Dynamics, a large contractor that develops combat vehicles and weapons systems for the U.S. military, saw its stock price jump by more than 30 percent in the months after the election. Likewise, Kratos Defense and Security Services, a smaller firm that builds drones for the U.S. Air Force, saw its shares soar more than 75 percent between November 2016 and May 2017.

This trend may be short-lived. Congress still must decide whether Trump’s proposed 10 percent increase in defense spending is practical given current budget constraints.

Three Rifles That Could Replace the Army's M4A1 Carbine

By Kyle Mizokami

In new comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Mark Milleyhas said the Army is "taking a hard look" at a new German assault rifle and other designs to replace its existing weapons.

The M4A1 carbine is currently issued to U.S. Army combat troops worldwide. A descendant of the original M16 rifle, the M4A1 has a 14.5" barrel, is chambered for the 5.56-millimeter round, and weighs approximately nine pounds when fully equipped with optics, lasers, foregrips, and other attachments. There are concerns in Congress, however, that the M4A1 could not penetrate modern Russian body armor, which is what prompted Milley's comment.

With those specifications in mind, what new weapons could replace it? One possible replacement weapon is the Heckler and Koch 416. Outwardly (and inwardly) similar to the M4A1, the 416 differs in using a gas piston system in which hot pressurized gas generated by burning gunpowder drives a piston that ejects empty brass casings, chambers a new round, and cycles the gun's action. The HK serves with the Marine Corps as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, with several issued to each squad and likes them enough to consider issuing them to all marine infantry. The HK416 is also the new official rifle of the French Army.



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The Trump administration is confronting a series of cybersecurity crises ranging from a global ransomware epidemic to a new wave of Russian cyber-attacks against NATO allies. It’s doing its best to respond to the myriad threats facing the United States, but vacancies in key cybersecurity slots are impacting its ability to do so.

After several months of delay, on May 11, President Donald Trump signed a long-expected executive order on cybersecurity. It commissions a variety of reports on key cyber policy priorities, including cyber deterrence, international cooperation, and workforce development. The order wisely requires those reports to gather input from a broad array of executive branch actors, ranging from the Intelligence Community to the Department of Commerce.

Australia's cyber security strategy: execution & evolution

By: Zoe Hawkins and Liam Nevill

The Australian Government’s Cyber Security Strategy was released on 21 April 2016. This report provides an accessible and critical appraisal of the government’s implementation of the strategy over the past 12 months. It addresses each of the strategy’s five themes, highlighting achievements and areas of weakness; evaluates issues of execution; and suggests ways to evolve the delivery and initiatives of the strategy to achieve its objectives.

The report also includes a table showing a detailed breakdown of progress against each initiative in the strategy’s Action Plan, and another that examines the funding provided to achieve the objectives of the strategy.

Execution and evolution: Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy

Source Link 
Liam Nevill 

In April, the government released their first annual update on implementation of the 2016 Cyber Security Strategy. We provided our assessment of that report on The Strategist shortly afterwards, and yesterday we released our own evaluation of the progress made on improving Australia’s cybersecurity over the past 12 months. ICPC’s new report, Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy: Execution & Evolution, is the product of our consultation with private sector, and academic and government stakeholders on the progress made towards the 83 outcomes listed in the Strategy. We also dug into the Budget figures to parse the true extent of government’s investment in new cybersecurity initiatives. While the progress made is a positive change, the work that remains is considerable, and greater speed and investment is required.

In the foreword to the government’s annual update, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote that the 2016 Cyber Security Strategy has been a ‘catalyst for change’. The government has undisputedly been active, filling the leadership roles created by the Strategy, standing up the first joint cyber security centre in Brisbane, and supporting the growth of Australia’s cyber security industry. Those are clear signs that government is committed to following through with the Strategy. But we think there are several areas in which improvements could be made to assure the success of the Strategy, and achieve better cybersecurity outcomes for Australia.

Are Terrorists Using Cryptocurrencies?

by David Manheim

Over the past few years, several experts have voiced concerns that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and other terrorist groups could use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as a new funding stream to further their operations. But in spite of these fears, the use of digital currencies among terrorists is not widespread—yet. Neither terrorist financing methods nor cryptocurrency technology is static, however, and the world could soon see the worst-case scenario unfolding. Greater pressure on existing terrorist finance methods coupled with easier-to-use cryptocurrencies that give users greater anonymity may well lead to a large-scale adoption of the technology by extremists.

At present, cryptocurrencies are hardly a go-to solution for terrorist financiers. Most types afford only limited anonymity, and it is difficult to quickly transfer large amounts of money through these systems. Moreover, there is limited acceptance of digital cash in regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, where many terrorist groups are most active.

Yet as the U.S. Treasury Department and its partners have increasingly denied terrorists access to other parts of the international financial system, new cryptocurrency technologies could provide an attractive alternative. To be sure, gauging whether these new technologies will be adopted, and if so, how quickly, is difficult. The answer depends on a host of unknowns, such as what other technologies are around the corner, how the public uses the new cryptocurrencies, and how useful or safe they prove to be. Digital currencies could be used for general funding; for money laundering; or to pay the personnel, associates, and vendors that keep the terrorist machine running. But there can be barriers to use as well, depending on the type of group and how its operations are financed.
The Current Landscape

What Talent Management Could Look Like

Source Link
Harlan Kefalas


The morning sun beat down on Staff Sergeant Alex Morgan as he hurried down the sidewalk towards the battalion classroom. He was running late and did not want to be noticed by the Command Sergeant Major. As he snuck into the room, his First Sergeant glared at him. The Command Sergeant Major was introducing the guest speaker, Mr. Evan Thompson, a civilian from Human Resources Command. They were rolling out a new assignment program soon, something called IC4AP—Individual Career Control and Commander’s Choice Assignment Program. “The goal of IC4AP is to provide individuals greater control of their career while allowing commanders increased freedom in choosing who is on their team,” Mr. Thompson began.

It is just like the Assignment Satisfaction Key, Alex thought. A few years ago, he tried to get back to Fort Lewis and set it as his top choice in that system. He studied for and passed the Defense Language Proficiency Test for Korean, hoping to get assigned to an Asia regionally aligned force on Fort Lewis. Despite this, he still received orders to Fort Bragg, which wasn’t even one of his choices. He could still hear his wife’s dismay, “The Atlantic Ocean is nothing like the Pacific Ocean.”