Saturday, March 31, 2012

India's Shrinking Military Capabilities

By Bharat Verma

ndian military capabilities shrink rapidly while the threats multiply.

Instead of removing poverty, the politician turned poverty into business of vote-bank-politics. Result: Sixty-two years later Maoists control forty percent of the Indian Territory and the insurgents in the border states have influence in another ten percent, both with explicit support of external actors.

While the Army is battling insurgents for decades in Kashmir and in the Northeast, in all likelihood, it will be drawn into conflict with the Maoists to reclaim territories under their control. This is a direct consequence to the demonstrated incompetence of the inept and crumbling Civil Administration. Resources of the Army, Air force and the Navy are already at an all time low and are over stretched, undermining the capability of the Indian military machine to fulfill its primary role of coping with the challenges of external threat.

MoD’s legendary inefficiency extends battle-winning advantages to the enemy.

Beijing and Islamabad are delighted with New Delhi’s clumsy response.

Couple the internal threat with burgeoning external threat. Beijing boasts of capability to create three-pronged mischief on the Indian Borders. First, China has built elaborate infrastructure and potent military capability in Tibet. Second, it not only synergized anti-India activities with Pakistan but has also positioned elements of the PLA inside PoK. Third, China quietly propelled their proxy Maoists (Nepal) to the centre-stage in Katmandu. Not to mention the advantage China gained in Sri Lanka while India lost some.

Beijing now influences almost 7500 kms of land opposite Indian borders.

The Indian Navy grappling with increasing incidents of piracy, securing the EEZ, the 7500 km of coastline and Sea Lines of Communications, now faces the prospect of confronting the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean. The competitive interests of the two rapidly growing economies for energy and transit can transform the Indian Ocean in to an area of bitter conflict in the near future.

MoD floats tenders and cancels them with an unbelievable regularity.

Apart from its wits, the Indian Navy will require a large and modern arsenal.

New Delhi’s indecisiveness, inconsistent and callous approach to modernization of the Armed Forces, ignorance, and enormous bureaucratic red tape keeps the Army, Navy and the Air Force under-equipped and devoid of adequate material and human resources to meet the growing threats.

In addition, the ill equipped military requires power projection capabilities to safeguard India’s strategic interests. Even as New Delhi’s weakness allowed India built Zaranj Delaram Highway to slip under Taliban control in Afghanistan, the Chinese lead the great game near Kabul by successfully mining copper.

The irony is that while Indian taxpayer’s money helps rebuild war torn Afghanistan, Beijing walks away with the riches.

...the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force are unequal to the task the nation expects them to execute incase push comes to shove.

To cope with a two-front war, the IAF requires 60 air-worthy combat squadrons. The professional assessment to tackle the challenge of a single front war and holding action on the other front requires 45 squadrons.

New Delhi sanctioned 39.5 squadrons, but has indicated intent to raise the squadron strength to 42 by the end of the current decade.

Of the sanctioned strength of combat squadrons, for the IAF only 28.5 remain air-worthy today. Discounting the obsolescent fleet of the MiG 21 as also other ageing aircrafts, the IAF is left with around 22 combat worthy squadrons.

At Aero India 2011, apart from the Su30 MKI display by IAF, rest of it turned out to be nothing more than a vintage aircraft rally!

When the NDA government was in power, India negotiated for forty Mirages 2000-V. After prolonged negotiations, when the time came to ink the deal, the then Defence Minister decided that he would sign it after the general elections. NDA coalition lost and the UPA government that came to power scrapped the deal. Similarly, a deal for In-flight Refuellers was negotiated over three years. When the deal was about to be inked, the Ministry of Finance suddenly declared that the tankers preferred by the IAF were too expensive. The tender was scrapped.

Moreover, after many years of trials and negotiations, the deal for 197 helicopters was thrown out of the window in the last minute. The tender for 126 MMRCA is languishing for the past eleven years and now runs into problems and complications with the unwieldy offset procedures and Transfer of Technology.

...without pausing for the mental lethargy of New Delhi, warfare technology has rapidly moved to pilotless or remote controlled vehicles and weapon systems on sea, land and in the air.

In the bargain, the vendors have lost millions of dollars on unproductive effort. Worse, the nation lost credibility in its international dealings and the Air Force its combat power.

With its overall capability severely eroded especially during the last decade, the IAF today no longer spearheads national military power. There is hardly any strategic or tactical airlift capability worth the name. The air defence cover supported by obsolete systems, is porous and there is only a token representation of force multipliers.

The state of the IAF prompted the Chief of the Air Staff to state publicly that fifty percent of the equipment in the IAF was obsolete. Clearly, the IAF is in no shape to support power projection by the nation or to confront its two main adversaries that are rearming and modernizing rapidly.

Beijing and Islamabad are delighted with New Delhi’s clumsy response.

On the other hand, DRDO and the indigenous aerospace industry continue to devour precious resources that the nation can ill afford but have proved totally incapable of making the nation self reliant in respect of contemporary military hardware.

Global tenders for even desperately needed military equipment remain bogged down in the complex bureaucratic labyrinth of the Defence Procurement Procedure. Ineptitude and apathy of the government is usually cloaked in fiery rhetoric that routinely emanates from the top echelons of national leadership and genuine modernization programmes continue to remain a distant dream.

For the past twenty-five years Ministry of Defence has found itself incapable of finalizing the induction of 155 mm guns for the Regiment of Artillery. The Kargil war was barely managed through extensive cannibalization just to have a few guns firing.

Beijing now influences almost 7500 kms of land opposite Indian borders.

MoD floats tenders and cancels them with an unbelievable regularity.

The Indian Army’s Combat Arms are in a state of crises because of obsolete equipment that was not replaced in the last sixty years.

Tanks and ICVs are night blind without night sights. The MoD is unable to decide between import of Thermal Imager Fire Control System (TIFCS) and Thermal Imager Stand Alone System (TISAS).

Pakistan forces equipped with night vision devices will be sitting behind blind Indian mechanized forces since modern wars will be fought largely at night.

Induction of trained manpower from the military and merger of the military skills with the Civil Administration can be the game-changer effecting increased efficiency.

The bewildering variety of antiquated artillery guns-120 mm mortars, 105 mm Field gun, 130 mm Medium gun, 155 mm Gun, 122 mm Howitzer, 122 mm Multi-barreled Rocket Launcher and now Pinaka and Smerch Long Range Systems are a logistician’s nightmare.

Ground based air defence practically is non-existent and devoid of Control and Reporting (C&R) System. Further, air defence is in shambles as L-60 and L-70 guns are of WW II vintage. On the other hand, the Schilka self propelled guns, SAM and OSA-AK missiles are of early 70s vintage. Not a single gun and missile has been acquired since then.

The Infantry soldier fights with a WW II carbine while the terrorist is equipped with AK-47. DRDO has been kept in business by funneling taxpayer’s resources but INSAS rifles and LMG have not proven successful. FINSAS (future infantry soldier as a system) is yet to take off. DRDO continues to copy ideas from the brochures of the western firms, guzzling huge defence budgets, but is unable to produce a simple CQB weapon like a carbine! Communications systems remain antiquated. Fifty percent of the infantry is yet to be equipped with Individual Combat Kit (ICK).

The Navy will be left with nine operational submarines by 2012 against the stated requirement of thirty. Keeping in view the precarious position, I wonder what stopped New Delhi from ordering in a single stroke twelve submarines from the French and simultaneously opening a second submarine manufacturing line with another vendor. The laborious and complicated process of vetting tenders and negotiations provided adequate data to replenish the dwindling submarine resources at one go. Once again, we start this time-consuming tedious process to appoint a second vendor.

The shambles in which the Army, Navy and the Air Force find themselves today tantamount to dereliction of duty by the State, which in turn poses threat to the unity and integrity of the Union.

MoD’s legendary inefficiency extends battle-winning advantages to the enemy.

Meanwhile, without pausing for the mental lethargy of New Delhi, warfare technology has rapidly moved to pilotless or remote controlled vehicles and weapon systems on sea, land and in the air. One can practically look inside the enemy’s house sitting in New Delhi and neutralize the emerging threat by firing a missile with the help of a remote controlled pilotless drone.

We are nowhere near use of such magnificent technologies in spite of the favorable opportunities that exist in the new geopolitical environment.

Technological innovation earlier took a decade to develop. Warfare technology now can be out of date within a year. It is a distinct possibility that with the rapid pace of technological advances in warfare, by the time 126 MMRCA deal is finalized, much of the technology offered by OEMs may be out of date.

With diminishing or ageing population, the West perforce depends more and more on technology. However, as in Libya or Afghanistan unless cutting edge technologies are employed together with sufficient boots on ground, the situation is likely to result in a stalemate.

Luckily, India boasts of young demographic profile in abundance that is sufficiently tech savvy. Yet there is huge shortage of young officers as the government is not willing to give that extra incentive to lure them for a spell of short service commission. This creates vacuum in cohesion at the junior level, so vital to lead the troops.

...with the rapid pace of technological advances in warfare, by the time 126 MMRCA deal is finalized, much of the technology offered by OEMs may be out of date.

When one adds equipment shortage to it, the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force are unequal to the task the nation expects them to execute incase push comes to shove.

China and Pakistan’s support to insurgents, Maoists, and dissident groups within India is well documented. Therefore, internal and the external threats are interlinked and require seamless integration between the Civil and the Military.

Despite the grave threat posed by external forces against the Union, the Civil Administration is unwilling to swiftly equip the military with requisite young human resources or the latest technology to cope with the growing security challenge.

Nor the Civil Administration is eager to beef up its own weakening sinews by lateral induction into the civil segment, forty thousand highly skilled young soldiers (and officers) released each year by the Armed Forces

Induction of trained manpower from the military and merger of the military skills with the Civil Administration can be the game-changer effecting increased efficiency.

Induction of personnel equipped with military skills will not only boost the ability to reclaim territory lost but also help to hold the ground subsequently, lest Maoists or insurgents attempt to stage a comeback. Simultaneously, it will dramatically lower the ageing profile of Army, Navy and the Air Force, which is an operational necessity.

This arrangement is a win-win for Civil and the Military.

IDR SubscriptionThe shambles in which the Army, Navy and the Air Force find themselves today tantamount to dereliction of duty by the State, which in turn poses threat to the unity and integrity of the Union.

Surrounded by authoritarian regimes, and located within the arch of Islamic terrorism, the Union of India is possibly the largest social experiment in diversity in the 21st century. To keep the Union intact, therefore, it not only requires reversing the swiftly shrinking military capabilities but a degree of militarization of the pacifist Indian mind as well.

About the author

Bharat Verma, a former Cavalry Officer is Editor, Indian Defence Review, frequently appears on television as a commentator, and is author of the books, Fault Lines and Indian Armed Forces

Thursday, March 29, 2012

5G is Here:How will we Test it?

The recent introduction of IEEE802.11ac standard poses a new testing challenge. The IEEE802.11ac will consume very high data rates in a 5.2 GHz frequency area while using a wide bandwidth (up to 160 MHz) and advanced MIMO technologies. On top of these, the IEEE802.11ac will require very high order modulation, like 256QAM. Considering these technological challenges, we already know that the conventional ways of testing may not work at all, due the fact that the test and measurement devices must always over perform the device under test.

In this presentation we discuss realistic throughput values obtained in the field and compare them to the theoretical values to offer insight as to how well wireless devices in general are performing in the field.

We also screen the requirements, specifically against IEEE802.11ac standard, of test and measurement equipment to identify the essential features. Finally, we shall list several public product announcements on IEEE802.11ac to illustrate how the industry is already working on 5G.


Brig R S Chhikara, Veteran

Every third day one hears or reads about morale of the defence forces being on the line. Every one gives his or her twist. Be it an incident of alleged excess by a soldier in Kashmir, An army officer commenting on the way Babus and politicians have systematically promoted their own interests over those of the soldier or for that matter the desirability of AFSPA being debated in Kashmir or Manipur, without actually having any idea about what constitutes a soldier’ morale and what impinges on it , national security and morale of the armed forces is cited as being under stress. Do our worthy commentators indeed have an idea of why and under what circumstance, will a soldier get seriously concerned or worried about himself / herself or the nation? That is when his morale can be said to be at risk.
Morale of the soldier is a function of two major factors. One, his level of confidence in his ability to fight and defeat the enemy in battle. A soldier deserves and demands a fair chance to face the enemy on comparable footing and not be exposed to unfair disadvantage in the matter of arms, ammunition and logistics. Given such superiority or even parity, he will attain an edge over his adversary through training and will power. This vital component was missing in 1962 when he was told that he is only a burden on national resource and was called upon to make himself more productive as farm labour or construction force. When he was deprived of a good rifle to shoot the enemy with or warm clothing to survive at Tawang and in Ladakh. When Air support was denied to him and he was ordered to move from Ambala to Sela without an idea of where he is going to be deployed and what odds he may be called upon to face.
The second major factor is his confidence in his leaders, commanders and countrymen. A soldier has every right to expect that his platoon, company or battalion commander will lead him from the front. He is entitled to expect that his commanders at higher levels will speak up and act to ensure that he has what it takes to win a battle. He rightfully expects the leadership of the nation to think carefully before putting his life on the line and that his countrymen will take care of his family and not leave them to fend for themselves; should he not come back.
The nation’s leadership and senior commanders did not give him that confidence or support in 1962. True; his countrymen came to his aid when the chips were down. That sustained him through 1965 and he fought well in spite of heavy odds but the political leadership let him down once again by returning what he had won with blood. In 1971, his senior commanders ensured that he had adequate resources and time to prepare for war. Mercifully, the Prime Minister of the day listened to their professional advice. In the case of Srilanka, he was, once again, at the receiving end of bad political and possibly a more than pliant higher military leadership. In this episode even his own countrymen did not stand by him. Tamilnadu, his launch pad and logistic base was overtly hostile to his well being. During the Kargill war, he was once again compelled to ‘fight with whatever he had’. His immediate military leaders, however, saved the day.
Over the past two decades or more, there has been palpable sense of concern at the way the nation’s civilian leadership has been conducting affairs of state security. There has been an even greater concern on how political and bureaucratic meddling had impacted the process of selection and appointments in higher echelons of military hierarchy. Senior officers started placing their personal career prospects above national or institutional interests. They would prefer to keep quiet rather than speak up for the service, lest the masters get upset. They would like to be seen as being more concerned about savings in defence spending overlooking non availability of essential armaments, housing and training infrastructure. They started know towing with the bureaucrats in matters of deployment in aid to civil authority at the expense of training for war. All this, to cover up serious political- bureaucratic mismanagement. Whenever there was a conflict of opinion, CYA (Cover Your Ass) became the preferred option. Senior defense officers ceased to be professionals and became careerists.
Over time, they had recognized the wisdom of obfuscation, seeking political patronage, even backstabbing colleagues if there was a chance to garner a smile from the bureaucrat or politician. Inter service and inter departmental rivalries were encouraged by the masters and were enthusiastically lapped up. Healthy inter service and peer rivalry yielded to outright hostility. Individual service interest started overshadowing national interest. They forgot that a weaker Army or Air force will not contribute to victory of the other. They forgot that their spaces were not mutually exclusive. They also forgot that the defence forces needed to fight war as a composite mutually supporting force. Promoting interests of Artillery over Armoured corps or of fighter pilots over technical services can only be self defeating.
They were now used to playing games at each other’s cost leaving the political bureaucratic combine to promote their sectional interests at the cost of those of the Forces or of the nation itself. They started to be seen as abdicating responsibility towards the nation’s defence and the soldier’ well being. Chiefs shied away from protecting post retirement interest of the soldier. They were told it was not their business and they fell silent. They forgot that a serving soldier today is an ex- serviceman of tomorrow and with today’s awareness levels he is not blind to these issues.
This phenomenon has been going on for over two decades. No wonder, senior officers were now looking at a flat in Adarsh, or a little bribe at Sukhna or a gubernatorial post on retirement. No wonder they left the matter of defence preparedness to politicians and bureaucrats. No wonder they allowed a soldier to be placed below a peon in governmental hierarchy. This is what has indeed affected the morale of the soldier, sailor and airman very adversely.
After a long time V K Singh came along. He fought against corruption and the corrupt in service. He brought out skeletons in bureaucratic cupboards. He exposed the skullduggery in the matter of promotions and placements of senior officers. He started speaking of voids in defence preparedness. He started speaking of India’s Strategic interests. He began to be seen as being favourably inclined towards legitimate interests of the soldier and of war widows, war wounded and the veteran. Worried as the soldiery was at sheer neglect of their interests they started to see hope. He is indeed popular and respected by the men in uniform and those who have hung their uniforms. But, he has created many enemies both within and outside the services whose toes he threatens to tread on.
Morale of the armed forces had recently started to look up. Hope is gaining ground. But, will it be allowed to fructify. Vested interests will give an arm to see these nascent efforts scuttled by fair means or foul. We know where the political establishment stands on this. We know that the Nehruvian suspicions of a strong Military still persist in spite of ample demonstrated proof to the contrary. Nehru died a heart broken man when he realized the folly of putting his faith in Chinese professions of Bhai Bhai and not in his own Generals. It is evident that his successors have not learnt that lesson. We know that for our bureaucracy, the only thing that matters is self preservation and self service. That leaves the Countrymen. Where will they stand or will they stand up at all? Armed forces morale does in fact have a serious bearing on national security and integrity.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Change of Guard at Pakistan’s ISI: Some Implications

by iftekhar ahmed chowdhury , Friday, March 23, 2012

(Originally published by The Institute of South Asian Studies on March 15, 2012)

In Pakistan, appointments to senior staff positions in the military often tend to acquire disproportionate political importance. This is also the case with the incoming head of the awe-inspiring Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s principal spy agency, Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam. He assumes office in March 2012. In direct contradiction of Clemenceau’s famous dictum, Pakistan is milieu where war is considered too important to be left to the civilians! The matrix that Islam will operate on is in constant flux, nationally and regionally. It will not be his responsibility to formulate state policies but given the prevalent culture of governance in Pakistan, he will certainly be in a position to influence, and even at times to shape, them. His contribution to strategy can be positive and constructive, depending on how dexterously he is able to play his cards in a challenging and scenario.
In most countries, military appointments, even to senior posts, are generally considered routine. They rarely generate discussions. They may merit media attention but ordinarily not academic analyses. Not so in Pakistan. In that country these are scrutinised with great care. Not just by its citizens, but also by foreigners who have interest in that volatile land. Theirnumbers are legion. For, Pakistan is high in the pecking order of interest of most analysts of contemporary global politics. It is one of the world’s largest Muslim countries. It is strategically located in one of the most troubled parts of the planet. Violence, even of extreme nature, is of regular occurrence in that turbulent democracy. Its institutions of governance are woefully fragile.
Yet, it is militarily one of the strongest powers that exist, with a rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal, and an army that is both large and proud. Sometimes though, it is hard-pressed to find feathers for its caps (or berets). Its combat credentials have not always been remarkable. Yet politically and traditionally, the proverbial "man on horseback," the soldier, remains powerful. And the most powerful component among them is the awe-inspiring Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI, the principal spy agency. That is why the recent placement at its head of Lt General Zaheerul Islam attracts such attention and provokes examination. He is due to assume office on 18 March 2012.
The Appointee’s Background
Lt General Zaheerul Islam’s background is impeccably military. He has been the immediate past Corps Commander of Karachi. This position is usually reserved for the army chief’s confidant. Also, for someone with a commendable professional record. One would expect, therefore, a degree of closeness between him and the Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. While the appointment of the Director General of the ISI is made by the Prime Minister, one would have to be na├»ve to believe that this can be done without the active consent or even without nomination by the Chief of Staff. Moreover, while Gen Islam will formally report to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, it is a safe bet that Gen Kayani will always be kept informed of all such communications. So the departure of Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and his replacement by Islam is not to be construed as an erosion of power of the Chief, or as the accretion of strength to the Prime Minister. Most things will remain the same.
Islam comes of an intensely military family. His father was a Brigadier General in the Pakistan Army. One of his uncles was the near-legendary Shah Nawaz Khan of India, a general in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj, aka the Indian National Army. As is well known, Bose wanted to liberate India from the British during the Second World War by force with aid and comfort from the Japanese. He assumed that the end would justify the means. But Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru preferred the British to the Japanese. Indeed, Nehru did not allow Shah Nawaz Khan and others of his ilk to rejoin the Indian Army when he was Prime Minister of the Dominion of India, and, as some have argued, still somewhat chary of cutting loose the British connection in its entirety. But the Indian people reacted differently, and returned Shah Nawaz Khan to the Parliament no less than four times. But the two, Khan and Islam, had never met. Also reported in the media now was a possible familial link between Islam and the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. The Pakistan Army denied it in decent haste. Some believe though, were it a fact, political bilateral relations would have been better served.
On a Sticky Wicket
In cricketing parlance, the wicket Islam is being sent in to bat on could not be stickier. In the best of times, the ISI chief confronts a stupendous task. At present, the difficulties are immense. At home, the civilian masters have grown deeply suspicious of the military in general and of the ISI in particular. And Pakistan’s American friends, if they can at all be described as such these days, are getting increasingly wary. These make for huge complexities. However, from some key quarters there are more pleasant signals. The Indians have wisely kept themselves aloof from any of the many intramural feuding in the Pakistan government, and the Chinese as a rule are non-interfering, offering ‘all-weather friendship’ to all and sundry in Pakistani politics.
Pasha, named by the Time magazine recently as one of the world’s 100 most powerful figures, should have heaved a sigh of relief at being reassigned, though the pang of parting from this office may have been palpable to his own person. In Pakistan, old soldiers never die, as the saying goes: but nor do they simply fade away, by the same token. They are usually transferred to another post, uniformed or otherwise. Luckier among them land themselves plum ambassadorial posts (Lt General Asad Durrani, for instance). Some others choose to be political activists or strategic commentators (one such, of somewhat fiery reputation, is Lt General Hamid Gul). Of the 17 Generals who have headed the ISI since its founding in 1959, only one has made it to the top in the Army; he is none other than Kayani himself. No one has been a head of State. So, from lessons of the past, undue ambitions, if any, on the part of the incumbent would not be warranted. Only for a job done well there may be a cushy reward at the end, but nothing overly attractive.
The Task Ahead
Any chief of ISI is likely to have the Sword of Damocles hanging above his head. Pasha, for instance, was sharply criticised for failing to detect the American raid on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden last year. Or for failing to discover in the first place that Osama was living in Abbottabad under the Army’s very nose (or had he known it and kept it secret?) For these the Parliament had put him on the carpet, and he had reportedly offered to resign. The Prime Minister might not have acted then, but would have taken note. Pasha was also suspected of having travelled to the Gulf countries to seek their support for a coup, an unlikely accusation. Then, though it could not have been his responsibility, 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a US-led operation during which the Pakistani side was bewilderingly passive. The Army was taking a lot of flak, and a major change was apparently called for. Pasha’s retirement date fell due, and not to renew his services would have seemed an advisable course of action without ruffling too many feathers. Islam was ready and much like Barkis in David Copperfield willing, with the right connections. There were other aspirants, as is wont to happen in such cases. One such was Major General Sahibzada Isfandiyar Ali Khan Pataudi (of blue blooded feudal lineage, a scion of that Indian Princely family). But Islam had a higher military rank and greater experience, and became the chosen one.
Islam has his work cut out for him. He will endeavour to gain back for the ISI the confidence of the country’s civilian, though some will say nominal, rulers. He is likely to remain in office till October 2014, when he is due to retire. This means he will see through the next elections, and almost certainly changes in political governance. The Americans have always proved a challenge for the ISI chiefs. While Pasha was at least generally acceptable to Washington, and often liked, his predecessor Lt General Nadeem Taj had very testy relations with the US. It saw him as being in cahoots with extremists (though it is not easy for any ISI head to evade this perception, as indeed it was not so for Pasha, and nor will it be so for Islam).
Right now, the Americans are in the throes of a deep crisis in Afghanistan, the latest being the burning of copies of the Holy Quran and the mindless shooting spree of a rogue soldier. By such actions they have well and truly shot themselves in the foot. Consequently, they are likely to leave that country sooner than later. So how does Pakistan position itself in that unruly land? Since much of the Pakistani public see the West as a bigger threat, is it, somewhat ironically, a good time to mend fences with India? Recently in Singapore the Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna has stated that India-Pakistan wars are facts of the last century; the present has brought with it promises of change of mindset. He spoke glowingly and warmly of his past and anticipated interactions with the new Pakistani Foreign Minister, Ms Hina Rabbani Khar. These are heartening sentiments. How can one take positive advantage of such changing moods?
This is the matrix on which the new Director General of ISI will operate. He will himself not formulate policies with regard to any of these issues. But he will doubtless be in a position to influence them. His contribution is likely to come, drip by drip, on a daily basis, in a tactical fashion, but eventually feeding into the stream of strategy. It is not always easy to drink the intoxicating draught of authority and yet keep a steady head. The French statesman Georges Clemenceau had said that war was too important to be left to the generals. In Pakistan, the exact opposite is felt to be true: war is seen to be too important to be left to the civilians and is expected to be conducted by generals. Yet even here, things may be in a state of flux, changing, albeit ever so slowly. Gilani of late has shown courage and commitment in facing up to the courts and critics. In any State every citizen has the opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the nation’s destiny. For Gen Islam it will be much more than that of an average citizen. One hopes that his contribution will be constructive and positive and point towards calm, and stability.
Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for South Asian Studies, an autonomous institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He was the (Foreign Advisor) Foreign Minister of Bangladesh from 2007-2009. He can be contacted at The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute

Think Like the Dragon

Adam Lowther, Panayotis A. Yannakogeorgos
March 26, 2012

The United States, Russia, Britain, France and other nuclear powers all regard nuclear weapons as the core function of strategic deterrence.”—Jiang Zemin (2002)
It’s difficult to understand China’s nuclear-weapons capability and strategy. Unlike the United States, China is not a signatory to most nuclear-weapons limitation and disarmament agreements. And it is certainly not forthcoming with information about its nuclear arsenal or development program. This leaves the world without any solid understanding of the capabilities of the Chinese missile command known as the Second Artillery Corps.

Thus, what we know about China’s nuclear weapons is incomplete and often speculative. But even with better empirical knowledge, understanding Beijing’s strategy—for nuclear weapons or other areas—requires a background in Chinese culture and history. Only then will U.S. policy makers be able to address the challenges of China’s expanding nuclear capability.

The Second Artillery Corps of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is in the process of developing a credible nuclear triad. This includes deployment of several ballistic missiles. Estimates of operationally deployed strategic weapons vary, but the most often repeated number is between one hundred and two hundred. It is also developing an arsenal of medium-range nuclear cruise missiles (between two hundred and five hundred in 2010).

In addition, the PLA Navy is growing its small number of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The PLA Air Force is growing its fleet of H-6K nuclear-capable bombers (between five and ten in 2010) and developing the H-8 stealth bomber.

Although it is difficult to determine current investments in the Chinese nuclear-weapons program, there is reason to believe that the Second Artillery Corps has seen significant increases in its budget. And with the theft of U.S. nuclear-weapons-design information, China has a strong foundation from which to advance the technological capabilities of its weapons.

Chinese Strategy

In the modern Chinese military treatise The Science of Campaigns, the essence of Chinese nuclear strategy is described as lying "in the ingenious selection of targets, ingenious choice of timing opportunities, ingenious use of forces and firepower, and the ingenious application of operational methods."

This prompts several questions: Who is targeted? What is the objective? When will it happen? Where will the Chinese deploy it? And why and how will they do it?

Who? China’s strategic nuclear weapons are designed to target the United States. The United States is China’s current and future strategic adversary—in spite of all the rhetoric of “competitive cooperation.

” Chinese tactical nuclear weapons, however, have a Russian or Indian address because of tensions on the borders of both nations.

What? China’s principal strategic objective for its nuclear arsenal is holding the interests of the United States hostage and deterring American leaders from using superior conventional or nuclear forces to coerce China into taking actions that “humiliate” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or constrain its freedom of action.

A strategy of deception reduces Chinese vulnerability to potential U.S. counter strikes since it is difficult to target unknown-unknowns.

The Central Military Commission’s principal fear has long been that the Second Artillery Corps does not have a credible nuclear force capable launching a retaliatory counterstrike.

In many ways, Chinese national and foreign-policy decision making is shaped by the country’s “century of humiliation.” The historical lessons learned during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when China fell under Western dominance, continue to shape leadership perceptions of how global powers wish to treat China. In its desire to overcome the past, CCP leaders and the PLA have been doggedly determined to never let the past repeat itself. China’s nuclear-weapons program is a reflection of that underlying historical insecurity.

When? Evidence suggests that China is on a pace to build an arsenal that is equal in size and capability to the U.S. arsenal—if not superior—by 2050. Where the United States is rushing headlong toward nuclear abolition, the Chinese are on a very determined path to build an advanced arsenal equal to that of the other great powers.

Where? With a highly distributed nuclear infrastructure and deployed force, China has long focused on resiliency—always a primary concern. And with an estimated five thousand kilometers of tunnels strategically dispersed across the country, the Second Artillery Corps maintains a limited ability to strike the continental United States but a much greater ability to strike within the first and second island chains with nuclear and dual-capable weapons. These limitations will disappear in the decades ahead.

Why? In their drive to reunite greater China, which began with Tibet and most recently Hong Kong, CCP leaders are now focused on Taiwan. Concern that the United States will intervene to stop a PLA invasion of Taiwan is viewed as an intrusion into China’s domestic affairs that could precipitate the use of nuclear weapons—on Chinese soil. This would not be seen as a violation of China’s no-first-use policy since Taiwan is seen as a rebellious part of China.

How? China’s dramatic economic growth is fueling a massive modernization effort that is spanning the breadth of the PLA Army, Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Corps. As American companies seeing terabytes of sensitive research and development data smuggled away can attest, the Chinese are always seeking to advance their capabilities and know-how. To suggest that China is engaging in a revolution in military affairs akin to our own is not far from the truth. But unlike the United States, nuclear weapons are central to China’s modernization effort.

Without understanding Chinese strategic culture, however, all of this is of little more than passing interest.

Strategic Culture

Modern Chinese strategic culture differs from that of the West in fundamental ways. While the influence of Hellenic philosophy, Enlightenment rationalism and American exceptionalism shape U.S. strategic culture, Chinese strategic culture remains heavily influenced by The Five Military Classics, Daoism and Confucian philosophy.
As Alistair Ian Johnston has pointed out in his analysis of three thousand years of Chinese military history, when China was at its weakest, it employed a strategy of appeasement. When it grew stronger but remained relatively weak, China employed a defensive strategy. When China was militarily superior, it took the offense.
However, in the minds of the Chinese, they have always acted defensively—never offensively. Thus, China has always acted to defend its territorial integrity and core interests, never to further or expand its interests.

With many in the West familiar with Sun Tzu’s Art of War, it should come as no surprise that Chinese nuclear-weapons strategy is characterized by ambiguity, disinformation and secrecy—all critical to good generalship, according to Sun Tzu. These characteristics are important because they have the potential to achieve victory through “acting without action”—a precept of Daoism.

In other words, China can achieve its strategic objectives—“winning without fighting”—by employing ambiguity, deceit and secrecy in such a way that the United States follows a path (the Dao) that is desired by China—pushing the United States out of East Asia.

While American strategic culture is characterized as: (1) determine the desired outcome (ends); (2) ascertain the methods to achieve those ends (ways); and (3) operationalize a strategy (means); Chinese strategic culture does not begin with the “ideal” (ends) and then develop a way to bring it to fruition.

Instead, Chinese strategic culture focuses on the path (Dao) taken by “the general.” By taking advantage of opportunities as they arise—exploiting the situation—the optimum outcome is achieved. In other words, the Chinese do not a have cultural imperative that leads them to establish a desired end state to which they orient their action. They are opportunity maximizers.

This may seem odd or difficult for the Western reader because it is, in fact, very different from our own cognitive approach. In Chinese thinking, understanding the potential of a situation leads the general to profit when advantageous circumstances arise. This is a critical skill and capability. Ambiguity, deception, secrecy and other methods are all tools for maximizing advantageous circumstances.

There is much less of a tradition in China of setting clear long-range objectives and then building a plan to achieve them. The importation of communism from the West, in some ways, institutionalized the approach, but communism in China has always been heavily influenced by a culture and philosophy that is much older and ingrained in Chinese thinking.
All of this may be interesting, but it leaves the “so what?” question unanswered. Understanding both China’s nuclear future and its approach to strategy matters for several reasons.

So What?

China’s long-stated no-first-use policy must be understood within the context of Chinese strategic culture, which acts to defend historic territorial integrity. China would not view its use of nuclear weapons in a Taiwan conflict as a first use because Taiwan is considered Chinese territory. Thus, the United States could be caught off guard by a Chinese nuclear strike against a carrier battle group in the Straits of Taiwan—admittedly a low-probability situation.

Consistent with the earlier historical pattern found by Johnston and others, China’s nuclear policy shifted from minimum deterrence (1964–1987) to credible minimum deterrence (1987–2002) to limited deterrence (2002–present); and when China develops the capability, it will shift to mutually assured destruction’s current iteration.

Although Chinese nuclear doctrine is premised on credible retaliation, China will develop a capability and doctrine for escalatory war fighting. This means that China is in the process of moving beyond the nuclear thinking of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Chinese leaders are learning from the United States and developing their own nuclear doctrine. Younger Chinese military officers in particular are more Western in their strategic thinking, but they can also be more bellicose in their nuclear views.

And don’t forget that China is building a nuclear arsenal of equal or greater capability to the United States with a principal aim of deterring U.S. freedom of action in the Asia-Pacific region—erasing all insecurity.

Finally, unfolding geopolitical events (seen as Daoism’s path) are carefully watched by the Chinese. America should expect China, consistent with its strategic culture, to take advantage of opportunities (perceived or real American weakness) when they arise. But do not expect this to occur with a clear end state in mind—remember that Chinese strategic culture teaches us that in this respect, Eastern and Western thinking are not the same.

If the United States is to “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region, it must realize that China has every intention of closing the nuclear gap and using its atomic arsenal to achieve its strategic interests. To be successful in the region, the United States must tame the dragon—but first it must understand how the dragon thinks.

Adam Lowther is a research professor at the Air Force Research Institute. Panayotis A. Yannakogeorgos is a cyber-defense analyst at the Air Force Research Institute. The views expressed are those of the authors.

Russia-China: Change of course?

22 March 2012
Fyodor Lukyanov

Fyodor Lukyanov is editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.

The final text of Russia’s Strategy-2020, published last week, contains a small but surprising sentence that has not been given the attention it deserves. From the foreign trade and foreign policy section: “The main risks for Russia, linked with the emergence of new centers of power, are rooted in the growth of China’s economic potential and international status.”
The authors believe that the impending conversion of the yuan into a “world currency for settlements, and later into an investment and reserve currency…may undermine the stability of the international currency system, and limit opportunities for the use of the Russian ruble in international transactions.”

“The highly competitive Chinese processing industry… will continue to squeeze out Russian counterparts from the Russian market and prevent the trade and investment expansion of Russian companies abroad,” the authors conclude. They believe that “the consolidation of China’s positions in Central Asia may undermine the prospects of the latter’s further involvement in Russia’s integration projects.” Finally, the authors warn that China’s more active negotiating and interventionist conduct typical of a “newly rich member of the world leaders’ club, the consolidation of the G2 format (the United States and China) in running global economic processes and China’s growing influence in the IMF and the WTO” will come at the expense of other countries, Russia included.

It should be noted, however, that the authors later acknowledge that the task of modernizing Russia, especially Siberia and the Far East, is not possible “without using the Asia-Pacific Region as a resource of national economic development. China is Russia’s number one partner in this region.”

Strategy-2020 is the result of the work of various experts over a long period of time. During the final stage, which took a year and a half, a large team consisting of two dozen working groups was set up on instructions from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It was led by two prominent liberal economists – Rector of the Higher School of Economics Yaroslav Kuzminov and Rector of the National Economy Academy Vladimir Mau. While this document is not exactly a program for the future president and the government, it describes in detail the current situation and what needs to be done.

The authority of the customer who ordered this strategy makes this product even more important. In such cases, the balance between the actual ideas of the authors and the wishes of the customer is always unclear.

In any event, no high-profile policy document in Russia has plainly stated that China’s rise is a threat. In his recent foreign policy article published a week prior to the election, Putin mentioned in passing the existing problems with China, like immigration, but was very positive about China otherwise. The president-elect wrote that Russia should “catch the Chinese wind” in the sails of its economy. Does the tone of Strategy-2020 suggest a change in Russia’s approach?

It would be wise not to make any far-reaching conclusions on the basis of this document alone. Its status is quasi-official, and Russian officials can always distance themselves from it, which is bound to happen when our Chinese comrades begin asking for explanations. Beijing never lets such statements go without comment. You can write anything about NATO and the United States without eliciting a response, but China is a different story.

At the same time, Russia is clearly apprehensive about the rise of China. For the first time in recent history, Russia is weaker than its neighbor, and the gap will continue growing. This should compel Russian policymakers to take a fresh look at the country’s approach to China. How should Russia co-exist with China today and in the next five to 10 years if the current dynamics persist? The search for an answer to this question will be a major item on the agenda of Putin’s presidency. Judging by everything, Putin is more interested in Europe and the West, which he understands, than in China, which is still largely an enigma for the future president.

For all that, it is unclear why it was necessary to voice such concerns in a high-profile document, especially as the authors were discussing the side effects of China’s development rather than a hostile policy towards Moscow adopted by Beijing. Some of these apprehensions have not yet been confirmed – the issue of a G2 was dropped a couple of years ago when it became clear that nothing of the sort was in the offing.

Russia is unable to do anything about this, and counteractions would be simply inappropriate, whereas such an obvious display of lack of confidence will more likely aggravate than alleviate the asymmetrical nature of bilateral relations.

To be fair, the document contains a number of specific proposals on how to achieve balance in Russia’s opportunities in Asia. Its authors write about the need to diversify economic partners to prevent China from remaining Russia’s main and only partner in the Far East, but the general alarmist tone remains.

These apprehensions are understandable, but making them public will not help Russia. Rather, Russia needs an active and positive program of action towards China with numerous proposals for joint development. This program should originate in Moscow and be preventative in nature. If Russia stands on the sideline, the agenda in Russia’s Asian part will be determined by China just for lack of alternatives. Then Russia’s apprehensions will be confirmed, and China will become a real economic threat. But in that case, Russia will have only itself to blame.

How Myanmar Liberates Asia, by Robert D. Kaplan

March 21, 12

By Robert D. Kaplan

Myanmar's ongoing liberalization and its normalization of relations with the outside world have the possibility of profoundly affecting geopolitics in Asia – and all for the better.
Geographically, Myanmar dominates the Bay of Bengal. It is where the spheres of influence of China and India overlap. Myanmar is also abundant in oil, natural gas, coal, zinc, copper, precious stones, timber and hydropower, with some uranium deposits as well. The prize of the Indo-Pacific region, Myanmar has been locked up by dictatorship for decades, even as the Chinese have been slowly stripping it of natural resources. Think of Myanmar as another Afghanistan in terms of its potential to change a region: a key, geo-strategic puzzle piece ravaged by war and ineffective government that, if only normalized, would unroll trade routes in all directions.
Ever since China's Yuan (ethnic Mongol) dynasty invaded Myanmar in the 13th century, Myanmar has been under the shadow of a Greater China, with no insurmountable geographic barriers or architectural obstacles like the Great Wall to separate the two lands -- though the Hengduan Shan range borders the two countries. At the same time, Myanmar has historically been the home of an Indian business community -- a middleman minority in sociological terms -- that facilitated the British hold on Myanmar as part of a Greater British India.
But if Myanmar continues on its path of reform by opening links to the United States and neighboring countries, rather than remaining a natural resource tract to be exploited by China, Myanmar will develop into an energy and natural resource hub in its own right, uniting the Indian subcontinent, China and Southeast Asia all into one fluid, organic continuum. And although Chinese influence in Myanmar would diminish in relative terms, China would still benefit immensely. Indeed, Kunming, in China's southern Yunnan province, would become the economic capital of Southeast Asia, where river and rail routes from Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam would converge.
Much of this infrastructure activity is already under way. At Ramree Island off Myanmar's northwestern Arakan coast, the Chinese are constructing pipelines to take oil and natural gas from Africa, the Persian Gulf and the Bay of Bengal across the heart of Myanmar to Kunming. The purpose will be to alleviate China's dependence on the Strait of Malacca, through which four-fifths of its crude oil imports pass at present. There will also be a high-speed rail line roughly along this route by 2015.
India, too, is constructing an energy terminal at Sittwe, north of Ramree, on Myanmar's coast, that will potentially carry offshore natural gas northwest through Bangladesh to the vast demographic inkblot that is the Indian state of West Bengal. The Indian pipeline would actually split into two directions, with another proposed route going to the north around Bangladesh. Commercial goods will follow along new highways to be built to India. Kolkata, Chittagong and Yangon, rather than being cities in three separate countries, will finally be part of one Indian Ocean world.
The salient fact here is that by liberating Myanmar, India's hitherto landlocked northeast, lying on the far side of Bangladesh, will also be opened up to the outside. Northeast India has suffered from bad geography and underdevelopment, and as a consequence it has experienced about a dozen insurgencies in recent decades. Hilly and jungle-covered, northeast India is cut off from India proper by backbreakingly poor Bangladesh to the west and by Myanmar, hitherto a hermetic and undeveloped state, to the east. But Myanmar's political opening and economic development changes this geopolitical fact, because both India's northeast and Bangladesh will benefit from Myanmar's political and economic renewal.
With poverty reduced somewhat in all these areas, the pressure on Kolkata and West Bengal to absorb economic refugees will be alleviated. This immeasurably strengthens India, whose land borders with semi-failed states within the subcontinent (Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh) has undermined its ability to project political and military power outward into Asia and the Middle East. More broadly, a liberalized Myanmar draws India deeper into Asia, so that India can more effectively balance against China.
But while the future beckons with opportunities, the present is still not assured. The political transition in Myanmar has only begun, and much can still go wrong. The problem, as it was in Yugoslavia and Iraq, is regional and ethnic divides.
Myanmar is a vast kingdom organized around the central Irrawaddy River Valley. The ethnic Burman word for this valley is Myanmar, hence the official name of the country. But a third of the population is not ethnic Burman, even as regionally based minorities in friable borderlands account for seven of Myanmar's 14 states. The hill areas around the Irrawaddy Valley are populated by Chin, Kachin, Shan, Karen and Karenni peoples, who also have their own armies and irregular forces, which have been battling the Burman-controlled national army since the early Cold War period.
Worse, these minority-populated hill regions are ethnically divided from within. For example, the Shan area is also home to Was, Lahus, Paos, Kayans and other tribal peoples. All these groups are products of historical migrations from Tibet, China, India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Cambodia, so that the Chin in western Myanmar have almost nothing in common with the Karen in eastern Myanmar. Nor is there a community of language and culture between the Shans and the ethnic Burmans, except for their Buddhist religion. As for the Arakanese, heirs to a cosmopolitan seaboard civilization influenced by Hindu Bengal, they feel particularly disconnected from the rest of Myanmar and compare their plight to disenfranchised minorities in the Middle East and Africa.
In other words, simply holding elections is not enough if all elections do is bring ethnic Burmans to power who do not compromise with the minorities. The military came to power in Myanmar in 1962 to control the minority-populated borderlands around the Irrawaddy Valley. The military has governed now for half a century. Myanmar has few functioning institutions that are not military-dominated. A system with generous power awarded to the minorities must now be constructed from scratch; peaceful integration of restive minorities requires vibrant federal institutions.
Myanmar, it is true, is becoming less repressive and more open to the outside world. But that in and of itself does not make for a viable institutionalized state. In sum, for Myanmar to succeed, even with civilians in control, the military will have to play a significant role for years to come, because it is mainly officers who know how to run things.
But given its immense natural resources and sizable population of 48 million, if Myanmar can build pan-ethnic institutions in coming decades it could come close to being a midlevel power in its own right -- something that would not necessarily harm Indian and Chinese interests, and, by the way, would unleash trade throughout Asia and the Indian Ocean world.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cyber and Drone Attacks May Change Warfare More Than the Machine Gun

By Ross Andersen

The new look of drone-enabled war. Reuters.
From state-sponsored cyber attacks to autonomous robotic weapons, twenty-first century war is increasingly disembodied. Our wars are being fought in the ether and by machines. And yet our ethics of war are stuck in the pre-digital age.
We're used to thinking of war as a physical phenomenon, as an outbreak of destructive violence that takes place in the physical world. Bullets fly, bombs explode, tanks roll, people collapse. Despite the tremendous changes in the technology of warfare, it remained a contest of human bodies. But as thedrone wars have shown, that's no longer true, at least for one side of the battle.

Technological asymmetry has always been a feature of warfare, but no nation has ever been able to prosecute a war without any physical risk to its citizens. What might the ability to launch casualty-free wars do to the political barriers that stand between peace and conflict? In today's democracies politicians are obligated to explain, at regular intervals, why a military action requires the blood of a nation's young people. Wars waged by machines might not encounter much skepticism in the public sphere.

We just don't know what moral constraints should apply to these new kinds of warfare. Take the ancient, but still influential, doctrine of Just War Theory, which requires that war's destructive forces be unleashed only when absolutely necessary; war is to be pursued only as a last resort and only against combatants, never against civilians.

But information warfare, warfare pursued with information technologies, distorts concepts like "necessity" and "civilian" in ways that challenge these ethical frameworks. An attack on another nation's information infrastructure, for instance, would surely count as an act of war. But what if it reduced the risk of future bloodshed? Should we really only consider it as a last resort? The use of robots further complicates things. It's not yet clear who should be held responsible if and when an autonomous military robot kills a civilian.

These are the questions that haunt the philosophers and ethicists that think deeply about information warfare, and they will only become more pertinent as our information technologies become more sophisticated. Mariarosaria Taddeo, a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Hertforshire, recently published an article in Philosophy & Technology called "Information Warfare: A Philosophical Perspective" that addresses these questions and more. What follows is my conversation with Taddeo about how information technology is changing the way we wage war, and what philosophy is doing to catch up.

How do you define information warfare?

Taddeo: The definition of "information warfare" is hotly debated. From my perspective, for the purposes of philosophical analysis, it's best to define information warfare in terms of concrete forms, and then see if there is a commonality between those forms.

One example would be cyber-attacks or hacker attacks, which we consider to be information warfare;

another example would be the use of drones or semi-autonomous machines.

From those instances, to me, a good definition of information warfare is "the use of information communication technologies within a military strategy that is endorsed by a state.

" And if you go to the Pentagon they will speak about this in different ways, they put it under different headings, in terms of information operations or cyber warfare, cyber attacks, that sort of thing.

Was Russia's attack on Estonia in 2007 the first broad-based state example of this?

Taddeo: The attack on Estonia is certainly one example of it, but it's only one instance, and it's not the first. You could, for example, point to the SWORDS robots that were used in Iraq several years prior to the attack on Estonia, or the use of predator drones, etc.

Remember information warfare encompasses more than only information communication technologies used through the web; these technologies can be used in several different domains and in several different ways.

But it's hard to point to a definitive first example of this. It goes back quite a ways and these technologies have been evolving for sometime now; remember that the first Internet protocols were developed by DARPA---in some sense, these technologies were born in the military sphere. Turing himself, the father of computer science, worked mainly within military programs during the Second World War.

Interesting, but do I understand you correctly that you distinguish this new kind of information warfare from pre-internet information technologies like the radio and the telegraph?

Taddeo: Well those are certainly information technologies, and to some extent information has always been an important part of warfare, because we have always wanted to communicate and to destroy our enemies' information structures and communication capabilities. What we want to distinguish here is the use of these new kinds of information communication technologies, because they have proved to be much more revolutionary in their effects on warfare than previous technologies like telegraphs or telephones or radios or walkie-talkies.

What's revolutionary about them is that they have restructured the very reality in which we perceive ourselves as living in, and the way in which we think about the concepts of warfare or the state. Take for example the concept of the state: we currently define a state as a political unit that exercises power over a certain physical territory. But when you consider that states are now trying to also dominate certain parts of cyberspace, our definition becomes problematic because cyberspace doesn't have a defined territory. The information revolution is shuffling these concepts around in really interesting ways from a philosophical perspective, and more specifically, from an ethical perspective.

In your paper you mention the use of robotic weapons like drones as one example of the rapid development of information warfare. You note that the U.S. government deployed only 150 robotic weapons in Iraq in 2004, but that number had grown to 12,000 by 2008. Is this a trend you expect to continue?

Taddeo: I expect so. There are several ways that the political decisions to endorse or deploy these machines are encouraged by the nature of these technologies. For one they are quite a bit cheaper than traditional weapons, but more importantly they bypass the need for political actors to confront media and public opinion about sending young men and women abroad to risk their lives. These machines enable the contemplation of military operations that would have previously been considered too dangerous for humans to undertake.
From a political and military perspective, the advantages of these weapons outweigh the disadvantages quite heavily.

But there are interesting problems that surface when you use them; for instance, when you have robots fighting a war in a foreign country, the population of that country is going to be slow to gain trust, which can make occupation or even just persuasion quite difficult. You can see this in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the populations have been slower to develop empathy for American forces because they see them as people who send machines to fight a war.

"Populations have been slower to develop empathy for American forces because they see them as people who send machines to fight a war."
But these shortcomings aren't weighty enough to convince politicians or generals to forgo the use of these technologies, and because of that I expect this trend towards the use of robotic weapons will continue.

You note the development of a new kind of robotic weapon, the SGR-A1, which is now being used by South Korea to patrol its border with North Korea. What distinguishes the SGR-A1 from previous weapons of information warfare?

Taddeo: The main difference is that this machine doesn't necessarily have a human operator, or a "man in the loop" as some have phrased it. It can autonomously decide to fire on a target without having to wait for a signal from a remote operator. In the past drones have been tele-operated, or if not, they didn't possess firing ability, and so there was no immediate risk that one of these machines could autonomously harm a human being.

The fact that weapons like the SGR-A1 now exist tells us that there are questions that we need to confront. It's wonderful that we're able to save human lives on one side, our side, of a conflict, but the issues of responsibility, the issue of who is responsible for the actions of these semi-autonomous machines remain to be addressed.

(The Samsung SGR-A1 is a South Korean military robot sentry designed to replace human counterparts in the demilitarized zone at the South and North Korea border.[1][2] It is a stationary system made by Samsung defense subsidiary Samsung Techwin. Please see details at
(In 2006, Samsung Techwin announced a $200,000, all weather, 5.56 mm robotic machine gun to guard the Korean DMZ. It is capable of tracking multiple moving targets using IR and visible light cameras, and is under the control of a human operator. The Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot can "identify and shoot a target automatically from over two miles away." The robot, which was developed by a South Korean university, uses "twin optical and infrared sensors to identify targets from 2.5 miles in daylight and around half that distance at night."
It is also equipped with communication equipment (a microphone and speakers), "so that passwords can be exchanged with human troops." If the person gives the wrong password, the robot can "sound an alarm or fire at the target using rubber bullets or a swivel-mounted K-3 machine gun." South Korea's soldiers in Iraq are "currently using robot sentries to guard home bases."[3]
Of course it's hard to develop a general rule for these situations where you have human nature filtered through the actions of these machines; it's more likely we're going to need a case-by-case approach. But whatever we do, we want to push as much of the responsibility as we can into the human sphere.

In your paper you say that information warfare is a compelling case of a larger shift toward the non-physical domain brought about by the Information Revolution. What do you mean by that?

Taddeo: It might make things more clear to start with the Information Revolution. The phrase "Information Revolution" is meant to convey the extraordinary ways that information communication technologies have changed our lives.
There are of course plenty of examples of this, including Facebook and Twitter and that sort of thing, but what these technologies have really done is introduce a new non-physical space that we exist in, and, increasingly, it's becoming just as important as the offline or physical space---in fact events in this non-physical domain often affect events in the physical world.

Information warfare is one way that you can see the increasing importance of this non-physical domain. For example, we are now using this non-physical space to prove the power of our states---we are no longer only concerned with demonstrating the authority of our states only in the physical world.

In what ways might information warfare increase the risk of conflicts and human casualties?

Taddeo: It's a tricky question, because the risks aren't yet clear, but there is a worry that the number of conflicts around the world could increase because it will be easier for those who direct military attacks with the use of these technologies to do so, because they will not have to endanger the lives of their citizens to do so. As I mentioned before, information warfare is in this sense easier to wage from a political perspective.

It's more difficult to determine the effect on casualties. Information Warfare has the potential to be blood-free, but that's only one potentiality; this technology could just as easily be used to produce the kind of damage caused by a bomb or any other traditional weapon---just imagine what would happen if a cyber-attack was launched against a flight control system or a subway system.

These dangerous aspects of information warfare shouldn't be underestimated; the deployment of information technology in warfare scenarios can be highly dangerous and destructive, and so there's no way to properly quantify the casualties that could result. This is one reason why we so badly need a philosophical and ethical analysis of this phenomenon, so that we can properly evaluate the risks.

Part of your conception of information warfare is as an outgrowth of the Information Revolution. You draw on the work of Luciano Floridi, who has said that the Information Revolution is the fourth revolution, coming after the Copernican, Darwinian and the Freudian revolutions, which all changed the way humans perceive themselves in the Universe. Did those revolutions change warfare in interesting ways?

Taddeo: That's an interesting question. I don't think those revolutions had the kind of impact on warfare that we're seeing with the Information Revolution. Intellectual and technological revolutions seem to go hand in hand, historically, but I don't, to use one example, think that the Freudian Revolution had a dramatic effect on warfare. The First World War was waged much like the wars of the 19th century, and to the extent that it wasn't, those changes did not come about because of Freud.

What you find when you study those revolutions is that while they may have resulted in new technologies like the machine gun or the airplane, none of them changed the concept of war. Even the Copernican Revolution, which was similar to the Information Revolution in the sense that it dislocated our sense of ourselves as existing in a particular space and time, didn't have this effect. The concept of war remained intact in the wake of those revolutions, whereas we are finding that the concept of war itself is changing as a result of the Information Revolution.

How has the Information Revolution changed the concept of war?

Taddeo: It goes back to the shift to the non-physical domain; war has always been perceived as something distinctly physical involving bloodshed and destruction and violence, all of which are very physical types of phenomena. If you talk to people who have participated in warfare, historically, they will describe the visceral effects of it---seeing blood, hearing loud noises, shooting a gun, etc. Warfare was, in the past, always something very concrete.

This new kind of warfare is non-physical; of course it can still cause violence, but it can also be computer to computer, or it can be an attack on certain types of information infrastructure and still be an act of war. Consider the Estonian cyber-attack, where you had a group of actors launching an attack on institutional websites in Estonia; there were no physical casualties, there was no physical violence involved. Traditional war was all about violence; the entire point of it was to physically overpower your enemy. That's a major change. It shifts the ethical analysis, which was previously focused only on minimizing bloodshed. But when you have warfare that doesn't lead to any bloodshed, what sort of ethical framework are you going to apply?

"When you have warfare that doesn't lead to any bloodshed, what sort of ethical framework are you going to apply?"

For some time now, Just War Theory has been one of the main ethical frameworks for examining warfare. You seem to argue that its modes of analysis break down when applied to information warfare. For instance, you note that the principle that war ought only to be pursued "as a last resort" may not apply to information warfare. Why is that?

Taddeo: Well first I would say that as an ethical framework Just War Theory has served us well up to this point. It was first developed by the Romans, and from Aquinas on many of the West's brightest minds have contributed to it. It's not that it needs to be discarded; quite the contrary, there are some aspects of it that need to be kept as guiding principles going forward. Still, it's a theory that addresses warfare as it was known historically, as something very physical.

The problem with the principle of "last resort" is that while, yes, we want physical warfare to be the last choice after everything else, it might not be the case that information warfare is to be a "last resort," because it might actually prevent bloodshed in the long run. Suppose that a cyber-attack could prevent traditional warfare from breaking out between two nations; by the criteria of Just War Theory it would be an act of war and thus only justifiable as a last resort. And so you might not want to apply the Just War framework to warfare that is not physically violent.

You also note that the distinction between combatants and civilians is blurred in information warfare, and that this also has consequences for Just War Theory, which makes liberal use of that distinction. How so?

Taddeo: Well until a century ago there was a clear-cut distinction between the military and civilians---you either wear a uniform or you don't, and if you do, you are a justifiable military target. This distinction has been eroded over time, even prior to the Information Revolution; civilians took part in a number of twentieth century conflicts. But with information warfare the distinction is completely gone; not only can a regular person wage information warfare with a laptop, but also a computer engineer working for the U.S. government or the Russian government can participate in information warfare all day long and then go home and have dinner with his or her family, or have a beer at the pub.

The problem is, if we don't have any criteria, any way of judging who is involved in a war and who is not, then how do we respond? Who do we target? The risk is that our list of targets could expand to include people who we would now consider civilians, and that means targeting them with physical warfare, but also with surveillance, and that could be very problematic. Surveillance is a particularly thorny issue here, because if we don't know who we have to observe, we may end up scaling up our surveillance efforts to encompass entire populations and that could have very serious effects in the realm of individual rights.

You have identified the prevention of information entropy as a kind of first principle in an ethical framework that can be applied to information warfare---is that right, and if so, does that supplant the saving of human life as our usual first principle for thinking about these things?

Taddeo: I think they are complimentary. First of all, a clarification is in order. Information entropy has nothing to do with physics or information theory; it's not a physical or mathematical concept. Entropy here refers to the destruction of informational entities, which is something we don't want. It could be anything from destroying a beautiful painting, to launching a virus that damages information infrastructure, and it can also be killing a human being. Informational entities are not only computers; informational entities identify all existing things, seen from an informational perspective. In this sense an action generating entropy in the universe is an action that destroys, damages or corrupts a beautiful painting or damages information infrastructures, and it can also be killing a human being. Any action that makes the information environment worse off generates entropy and therefore is immoral. In this sense the prevention of information entropy is consistent with the saving of human life, because human beings contribute a great deal to the infosphere---killing a human being would generate a lot of information entropy.

This is all part of a wider ethical framework called Information Ethics, mainly developed by Luciano Floridi. Information Ethics ascribes a moral stance to all existing things. It does not have an ontological bias, that is to say it doesn't privilege certain sorts of beings. This does not mean that according to Information Ethics all things have the 'same' moral value but rather that they 'share' some common minimal rights and deserve some minimal respect. Here, the moral value of a particular entity would be proportional to its contributions to the information environment. So a white paper with one dot on it would have less moral value than say a book of poems, or a human being. That's one way of thinking about this.

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China's 'Underground Great Wall' could swing nuclear balance

Staff Reporter

The Chinese military has reportedly built a huge underground tunnel network from which nuclear missiles can be deployed.
China's strategic missile squadron, the Second Artillery Division, has built an "Underground Great Wall" stretching for more than 5,000km in the north of the country, according to a report in Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao on Saturday. Citing the People's Liberation Army's official newsletter, the paper said the underground tunnel system has been built to conceal nuclear weapons to ensure the nation's second strike capability.
According to state broadcaster CCTV, the tunnel network, reportedly hundreds of meters underground, has been under construction since 1995 and can withstand several nuclear attacks. A documentary broadcast by CCTV in March 2008 revealed that the PLA had been building underground facilities enabling it to launch a counterstrike in case of a first strike scenario. The news has received very little attention both in the west and in Asia, despite the vast scale of the project.
"The early version of China's mid- to long-range missiles had all been deployed above ground and were vulnerable to detection by spy satellites and attacks by interceptor missiles. That prompted the Chinese military to move all of their missiles hundreds of meters underground," reported Taiwan's Asia-Pacific Defense Magazine. PLA squadrons deployed below ground would be completely undetectable.

For a country to convince potential opponents that it possesses a credible means of retaliation is a vital element of a nuclear deterrent. China has long had a minimalist posture in this regard, holding a small amount of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Previous estimates put the numbers of China's nuclear warheads at between 150-400. However, some military analysts have recently estimated the number could be much higher, even reaching into the thousands, which could be accommodated in the new tunnel network.
The New START accord signed by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last year limits US and Russian nuclear forces to 1,550 deployed warheads apiece. If the PLA has covertly departed from minimal deterrence then this balance could be overturned, with China on equal or near-equal terms with the United States and Russia in deployed nuclear weaponry.
Therefore, whether the news reinforces strategic stability between China and the United States or alternatively marks the start of a new arms race between the world's largest and second largest economies will be a source of much debate.

U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran

Matt Dunham/Associated Press
Published: March 19, 2012

WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.

At War
The officials said the so-called war game was not designed as a rehearsal for American military action — and they emphasized that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict.
But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policy makers over the consequences of any Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.
The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, according to officials who either participated in the Central Command exercise or who were briefed on the results and spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature. When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.
The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years. However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program — if President Obama were to decide on a full-scale retaliation.
The exercise was designed specifically to test internal military communications and coordination among battle staffs in the Pentagon; in Tampa, Fla., where the headquarters of the Central Command is located; and in the Persian Gulf in the aftermath of an Israeli strike. But the exercise was written to assess a pressing, potential, real-world situation.
In the end, the war game reinforced to military officials the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of a strike by Israel, and a counterstrike by Iran, the officials said.
American and Israeli intelligence services broadly agree on the progress Iran has made to enrich uranium. But they disagree on how much time there would be to prevent Iran from building a weapon if leaders in Tehran decided to go ahead with one.
With the Israelis saying publicly that the window to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb is closing, American officials see an Israeli attack on Iran within the next year as a possibility. They have said privately that they believe that Israel would probably give the United States little or no warning should Israeli officials make the decision to strike Iranian nuclear sites.
Officials said that, under the chain of events in the war game, Iran believed that Israel and the United States were partners in any strike against Iranian nuclear sites and therefore considered American military forces in the Persian Gulf as complicit in the attack. Iranian jets chased Israeli warplanes after the attack, and Iranians launched missiles at an American warship in the Persian Gulf, viewed as an act of war that allowed an American retaliation.
Internal Look has long been one of Central Command’s most significant planning exercises, and is carried out about twice a year to assess how the headquarters, its staff and command posts in the region would respond to various real-world situations.
Over the years, it has been used to prepare for various wars in the Middle East. According to the defense Web site, military planners during the cold war used Internal Look to prepare for a move by the Soviet Union to seize Iranian oil fields. The American war plan at the time called for the Pentagon to march nearly six Army divisions north from the Persian Gulf to the Zagros Mountains of Iran to blunt a Soviet attack.
In December 2002, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who was the top officer at Central Command, used Internal Look to test the readiness of his units for the coming invasion of Iraq.
Many experts have predicted that Iran would try to carefully manage the escalation after an Israeli first strike in order to avoid giving the United States a rationale for attacking with its far superior forces. Thus, it might use proxies to set off car bombs in world capitals or funnel high explosives to insurgents in Afghanistan to attack American and NATO troops.
While using surrogates might, in the end, not be enough to hide Iran’s instigation of these attacks, the government in Tehran could at least publicly deny all responsibility.
Some military specialists in the United States and in Israel who have assessed the potential ramifications of an Israeli attack believe that the last thing Iran would want is a full-scale war on its territory. Thus, they argue that Iran would not directly strike American military targets, whether warships in the Persian Gulf or bases in the region.
Their analysis, however, also includes the broad caveat that it is impossible to know the internal thinking of the senior Iranian leadership, and is informed by the awareness that even the most detailed war games cannot predict how nations and their leaders will react in the heat of conflict.
Yet these specialists continue their work, saying that any insight on how the Iranians will react to an attack will help determine whether the Israelis carry out a strike — and what the American position will be if they do.
Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events like a regional conflagration, widespread acts of terrorism and sky-high oil prices.
“A war is no picnic,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio in November. But if Israel feels itself forced into action, the retaliation would be bearable, he said. “There will not be 100,000 dead or 10,000 dead or 1,000 dead. The state of Israel will not be destroyed.”
A version of this article appeared in print on March 20, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Simulation Forecasts Perils Of Strike At Iran.

How to Save Cyberspace

March 21, 2012
By Panayotis A. Yannakogeorgos & Adam B. Lowther

The U.S. is increasingly dependent on the Internet for its well-being. It makes its lack of preparedness for cyber attacks from China, Russia and others all the more worrying.
The extensive press coverage regarding alleged Chinese involvement in cyber espionage, as well as Beijing’s high-profile Internet censorship efforts, have underscored a worrying reality for U.S. officials – U.S. cyberspace policies are still at an embryonic stage. Worse – this comes as the U.S. is faced with a dire threat to its own security.
A highly publicized report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission earlier this month observed that China’s “professional state sponsored intelligence collection not only targets a nation’s sensitive national security and policymaking information, it increasingly is being used to collect economic and competitive data to aid foreign businesses competing for market share with their U.S. peers.”
The report also noted that China is aware of gaps in U.S. cyber strategies, and may be exploiting gray areas in “U.S. policymaking and legal frameworks to create delays in U.S. command decision making.” Yet despite the magnitude of the challenge at hand being clear, the next president – whether it’s Barack Obama or Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney who wins the White House in November – will be faced with a frustrating but necessary challenge in tackling U.S.-Chinese cybersecurity engagement.

The Problem
After the White House published Cyberspace Policy Review: Assuring a Trusted and Resilient Information and Communications Infrastructure in June 2009, several initiatives were launched or announced by elements of the U.S. defense community. In 2010, declassification of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), enabled the timely development of a framework for international partnerships consistent with a common cybersecurity policy. In 2011, the White House released the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace. Subtitled, Prosperity, Security, and Openness in a Networked World,the document falls short of providing the solutions necessary to live up to its name. The simple fact is, without security there can be no prosperity or openness. This is where the new strategy is woefully inadequate – it lacks security strategies informed by technology rather than private sector lobbyists.
The sole purpose of cyberspace is to create effects in the real world. The United States’ high-tech sector leads the world in the innovation and development of computers, software and Internet services. These technologies are the backbone of the global information society. U.S. companies provide technologies that allow more and better digital information to flow across borders, thereby enhancing socioeconomic and human development worldwide. When markets and Internet connections are open, U.S. IT companies shape the world and prosper.
But leveraging the benefits of the Internet can’t occur if confidence in networked digital information and communications technologies is lacking. In cyberspace, security is the cornerstone of openness and prosperity. Cyber policies and strategies must therefore focus on promoting trust, network security, authentication, privacy and consumer protection.
In addition to benefits of free flowing communications, utility companies and industry rely on cyberspace to control critical systems. Electricity, water treatment, public health and financial services are at risk from operating specialized industrial control and embedded systems without appropriate security controls.
Today’s White House strategy prevents the federal government and the U.S. military from utilizing its expertise to protect private sector networks over which critical services flow – those that are often responsible for our prosperity.
To date, there hasn’t been a cyber event that has caused the destruction of critical infrastructure, but it would be poor strategy to do so right now anyway. Why? Because once such an attack is launched, defenders will learn from it, fixing weaknesses and preventing the same attack in the future. Thus, an American adversary is wise to avoid such an attack until a broader conflict between the United Staes and an adversarial nation is imminent.
For this reason, the majority of attacks against American networks have focused on exfiltrating intellectual property.
The skill required to assure confidentiality, availability, and integrity in our information systems requires a Ph.D. in applied mathematics with a minor in computer science – quite literally. Yet producing such highly educated and skilled experts is an area where the United States is falling behind China at a rapid rate. While meeting this threshold is too high for the majority of users, the nation can’t afford to allow the private sector and its critical infrastructure to fend for itself.
With profit margins guiding decisions on investments in cybersecurity, it may be time for the federal government and the Defense Department to work with the private sector to defend the cyber domain – just as it defends the space, air, land, and sea domains. Even when the private sector purchases cyber security software, it’s more than likely to be bypassed by hackers who may be supported by adversary governments with the time and resources to penetrate the networks of companies operating on thin profit margins.
Policies uninformed by technology seem to rule the day. This must change. Mitt Romney, as the presumptive Republican nominee, should focus on reviewing the technical realities on which cyber policy decisions are made. Not doing so will perpetuate strategies that are putting the United States at increasing risk of cyber attacks from China and Russia, among others.

The Solution
Romney has promised to conduct a review of U.S. cyber policy within his first 100 days in office. This is a good start if the end objective is to revise the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.
Improving interagency dialogue and creating a structure in which intergovernmental “deconfliction” of roles and responsibilities within the cyber domain will prove critical to this effort. Without implementing such a structure in a revised National Security Strategy for Cyberspace, any review of policy won’t be successful.
However, attackers won’t wait for the next president to complete a policy review and implement a strategy, which is why time is of the essence. Whoever wins in November, therefore, should on his first day as president issue an executive order authorizing the following changes in U.S. cyber policy and governance structures. These will be bold but necessary decisions that can’t wait for legislative wrangling.
First, it’s time to review cyber concepts that aren’t grounded in technical reality. This includes concepts such as cyber weapons, global cascading effects, and attribution theory. In these cases, policy wonks dabbled in a field about which they knew far too little, were guided by political ideology, or were subjected to a hodgepodge of consultant speak of which they didn’t have the expertise to debate.
Second, and related to attribution, we should diverge from law enforcement paradigms in the diplomatic and military contexts of response. Current strategies focus on knowing who an individual hacker was with absolute certainty. This is misapplied in the strategic context. Nation states should be held responsible for the behavior of malicious actors within their borders. International cooperation is key to stemming the tide of hackers. For countries that lack adequate technologies and policies, the U.S. should lead the international community in providing development aid. For uncooperative countries, diplomacy with teeth should ensue. For countries that harbor cyber-attackers, escalating sanctions and offensive countermeasures may prove necessary. Doing so would certainly remedy the Chinese ability to exploit the policy gap the USCES report noted.
Third, the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command should be given the authority to monitor the networks that operate the nation’s critical infrastructure. The programmable logic controllers and the SCADA interfaces that many utility companies and industrial plants operate on don’t take security into consideration for profit motivated reasons as well as the technical complexities of critical systems. Today, the administration has prevented a greater role for the Defense Department on ideological grounds. Further, waiting on Congress to pass a law that imposes fines on critical infrastructure providers only provides attackers more time to penetrate our networks and develop a better understanding of how to take them down. Given the power of private sector lobbyists in Washington, it’s also unlikely that regulation of critical infrastructure cybersecurity will ever come to pass as long as a hodgepodge of consultant speak rules the day on Capitol Hill, rather than technical realities.
Fourth, the NSA should come under the command of U.S. Cyber Command. Information assurance and cryptography are the NSA’s two main functions. Both are components of cyber operations. Reshaping the organizational culture and structure of a signals intelligence, cryptographic and information assurance organization established in an era of telephone, radio and facsimile, will allow it to leverage its cyber expertise, and permit the interagency to function with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
As more than one former director of the NSA has publicly stated, it’s the culture of unnecessary secrecy that impedes our capabilities in fighting our cyber-adversaries.
Fifth, make internet service providers (ISP) responsible for monitoring their clients’ Internet activity – looking for malicious behavior and infected machines. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it’s possible to do this without infringing upon user privacy. This is an important point.
The United States is the number one point of origin for spam and malicious cyber events worldwide. This reality diminishes our moral authority to lead the world and effectively combat state-sponsored attacks against government and private sector networks.
U.S. companies, such as Comcast, have technologies being considered by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that allow for the monitoring of malicious traffic and customer notification of infections on their computer without controversial deep packet inspection (DPI). Upon identifying an infected machine, the user would be put behind a safety zone. ISP personnel would then remotely assist the user in curing their machine. Teliasonera, a Swedish company, has had great success in implementing such a system without experiencing a backlash from one of the most privacy-sensitive populaces in the world. The results were impressive. Sweden has experienced a significant decrease in malware, infected machines, and now has a cleaner cyber ecosystem.
Monitoring, when ethically conducted, can significantly decrease the opportunity for hackers to threaten our critical infrastructure.
Sixth, refocusing diplomatic and developmental efforts toward existing global bodies – where norms of cyber behavior have already been articulated and accepted institutionally – will give the United States greater influence in shaping the future. Also, while unpopular, a reexamination of American strategy within the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is needed. Indeed, there are dark forces aiming to use institutions of diplomacy to extend political control over the Internet. However, our current strategy is only deepening suspicion and resentment on the part of those who we would like to partner with us on global cyber cooperation.
Instead of fighting the ITU, we need to work with our likeminded partners to shape the discussions within it.
While each of these points requires further discussion, failing to secure American cyberspace poses a threat the United States can’t afford. As China, Russia, and other real or potential adversaries look for asymmetric means for attacking the United States, cyberspace is increasingly becoming a domain of choice for stealing our sensitive corporate information, attacking critical infrastructures, and undermining the free flow of information. In the process, the global information society itself is seeing its very foundations undermined.
Panayotis A. Yannakogeorgos is a cyber defense analyst at the U.S. Air Force Research Institute. Adam B. Lowther is a research professor at the U.S. Air Force Research Institute. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. military or the U.S. Air Force Research Institute.