Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

China-Pakistan: China Seeks Army Bases in Lawless Regions in Pakistan

ALEXANDRIA, October 27 - As MIL INT reported back in August after the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [that is also described as the Turkistani Islamic Party (TIP)] launched terrorist attacks in Kashgar, a city in Xinjiang province (Western China) killing 18, the Chinese have actively engaged Islamabad on options to address the separatist threat.
The explosions provoked senior government officials in Xinjiang to publicly claim for the first time in recent years that the attackers had been trained in explosives in ETIM/TIP camps run by Chinese separatists in the Waziristan tribal regions of Pakistan. The Chinese allegation was described by many in the diplomatic circles of Islamabad as a clear sign of the growing impatience of Beijing with Islamabad's failure to control radical groups operating within its borders.
Pakistani journalist Amir Mir claims in an Asia Times article that "Beijing is ... interested in setting up military bases either in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan or in the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) that border Xinjiang province." Mir does not directly substantiate that claim but provides considerable background to recent rounds of Sino-Pakistani engagement.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gaddafi's Riches and the Academics Who Adored him

ALEXANDRIA October 23 - As the first evidence of Gaddafi's ransacking of his country and people comes in from the LA Times 
New estimates of the former leader's assets — more than $200 billion — are called 'staggering.' If they prove true, he would rank among the world's most rapacious leaders. 

let's not forget how he was treated by the LSE. This blog explains the background but you can jump right to the video of the LSE 'academic' greeting "Brother Muammar" (just the introduction will suffice). Tony Blair did it too I know... but MIL INT is sickened by this video and they way this monster is treated. As argued in the related blog, it was not like his past activities were not well known. MIL INT wonders whether anyone at the LSE feels any shame about their activities here?

Update: SWJ found this gem - a life imitates art story - a video of a 1980s sitcom that guessed Gaddafi would be killed in 2011

Iran - Leaving Iraq Might Pave Way for Israel to Strike Iran

ALEXANDRIA, October 23 -  “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” President Obama said as he declared complete troop withdrawal from Iraq. In one of those ironies that only international relations can deliver, this moment of gratitude to our troops for all they have accomplished under such incredibly difficult circumstances and conditions, could pave the way to a much bigger crisis.

Afg - "We side with Pakistan in war with US" Karzai

Source: Political Carnival
ALEXANDRIA October 23 - The Afghanistan peace envoy to the Taliban is killed by the Taliban [hint?] and "President" Karzai who days ago sat next to Hillary Clinton and accused Pakistan of facilitating attacks on his country today says “Anybody that attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand with Pakistan,” he said. “Afghanistan will never betray its brother.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pakistan - Why You Will Soon Miss Washington

The A-Team's In Town
ALEXANDRIA VA, October 21 - The United States has sent the foreign policy A-Team to Islamabad to deliver a stark new message - renounce support of terrorist organizations or else. SECSTATE, DCIA, and CJCS traveled together and presented a united front to the Pakistani government and military.  
“This is a time for clarity,” Mrs. Clinton declared in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she met President Hamid Karzai before leaving for Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. “No one should be in any way mistaken about allowing this to continue without paying a very big price.”

Energy Security - A Rare Thing: New Ideas

The Great Walls [sic] of China
ALEXANDRIA VA, October 21 - In this age of extremes, the only way to make change is to incentivize it. This depressed, zero-sum world, is profoundly skeptical about the idea of a win-win. Critics of anything with even a hint of green scream that jobs will be lost - irrespective of whatever the idea might be.

If you think the idea of going green is for hippies and commies - think again. We are not talking Al Gore here, we are talking Admirals and Generals passionate about the national security consequences of climate change and the relationship between energy and national security. Indeed, the US DoD has been pushing green initiatives for some time now

IED Attacks in 99 countries including the US

Here is an interesting story from Army Times
From January to September, there was an average of 608 attacks per month in 99 countries. During that time, there were 367 homemade bomb attacks in the United States.
“It’s cheap, effective and readily available,” said Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.“If we think it’s going to go away after Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re dreaming,” he said. “It’s going to confront us operationally for decades and domestically. We need to come to grips with that. It’s an enduring threat.”

Gen McChrystal Stalks GEOINT2011

ALEXANDRIA VA, October 21, 2011 - Intelligence integration is a critical challenge for both the National and Military Intelligence Programs. One organization that is know to be at the forefront of this effort is SOCOM and its subordinate commands. Prior to Admiral McRaven, the greatest influence over the integration challenge has been Gen Stan McChrystal, USA Ret. While he was not in attendance at the conference (as far as general attendees could tell) he was everywhere - or at least, his ideas and influence among the combined IC and OPs communities.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

AQ and the US INT Budget

SAN ANTONIO - October 19, 2011 - Speaking of the budget crunch the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, criticized the peace dividend of the 1990s and the way it was implemented, repeating similar comments he has made before that "we cut too hard in the 1990s based just on money - at the same time that AQ was getting into position and started its program." He noted that the US had to completely rebuild its HUMINT programs that were "all but decimated" by the cuts in the 1990s. He noted that AQ is now on the run and this would be the absolute worst time to "pull back". He could not be more right - it would be like Meade not pursuing Lee after Gettysberg.


SAN ANTONIO - October 19, 2011 - Events like GEOINT are interesting for what officials sometimes say. One of the first things Chairman Rogers said was Russian loose nukes remain a credible threat, something that has largely slipped into the background of the national security debate. MIL INT got the impression from his demeanor when discussing this problem and the prominence he gave the issue in his speech that he has been thinking about this a lot recently. Now combine that datapoint with comments made in an earlier keynote speech by COMSTRATCOM. Gen Robert "Bob" Kehler said the issue he is most concerned about is WMDs falling into the hands of terrorists - he did not say in what context. Post Iraq, it is unusual to hear this scenario being raised again. The most credible way this might happen is if Pakistan falls to islamist radicals - a highly credible scenario.

Russian loose nukes and Pakistan collapse are not interrelated scenarios. The appearance of these two issues from highly placed speakers may be purely coincidental. But it may also suggest that the highest levels of government have a renewed focus on the broad domain of WMD terror due to new signaling being received around the IC. Perhaps there is more to the Libya story than meets the eye?


SAN ANTONIO - October 19, 2011 - The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee today accused China of widespread illegal cyber activity claiming that "$200b a year [is stolen] in IP and they steal to compete directly with US industry." He continued "I believe you can't steal your way to leadership of the world... we are going to ask you, our IC community, to make sure we are not going to find that out. Now is not the time to back off."

Perhaps he is referring to the recent private sector stats of $2 billion a year mentioned by COMCYBERCOM this week in San Antonio? - A call has been made to the Chairman's office seeking clarification - check back here for updates on this story.

UPDATE October 24, 2011

The House Intelligence Comittee responded to the MIL INT inquiry and provided the following sources in support of Congressman Rogers statistics. This puts COMCYBERCOM's statistical reliance on McAfree in an interesting new light.

House Intelligence Chair Confirms Hard Evidence of Iran Plot

The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee today confirmed that the Iranian Quds force was involved in the plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US. Mike Rogers said "the plot to commit assassination on US soil is real. I can tell you as a former FBI agent, that there is such a thing as intelligence and there is such as thing as evidence, and none of us should have a doubt that there is evidence that the Quds force and senior Iranian leadership gave... approval to commit assassination in the United States of America". Further specifics were not offered.

MIL INT has held back comment on this issue because the story did not add up. As DR has argued, if the story is anywhere near true, then it indicates that Iran's intelligence services have significant trade craft issues. MIL INT will not speculate at this stage as to why the plot was revealed when it was revealed. One thing is for certain, if it was intended to drive a wedge between the US and Saudi Arabia, it had the opposite effect.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MG Custer GEOINT 2009

MG Custer sporting "relaxed grooming standards"
according to MG (P) Legere USA the next G2
SAN ANTONIO, October 18, 2011

One of the stars of GEOINT2011 is MG John Custer USA Ret. He was the MC of today's plenary and managed it with aplomb. His 2009 speech is worth watching in its entirety. It would be good to see LTG Flynn get an opportunity to speak for a solid hour on all the issues on his mind. Based on today's performance MIL INT is pretty sure it would be one hell of a show.

LTG Michael Flynn IC Reform Challenge

SAN ANTONIO, Oct 18, 2011

Newly promoted LTG Mike Flynn USA, famous for his Fixing Intel paper, continued to provoke the IC today at the GEOINT2011 Conference. Flynn's opening statement was a clear shot across the bow of the techno-centric GEOINT crowd: "the major barriers to INT integration are cultural, not technological" he said. LTG Flynn spoke of the world being in a perpetual war with a related requirement for perpetual high quality intelligence, not just in combat but in anticipation of future crises. He went on to highlight one of the biggest issues facing the IC - how to get useful predictive strategic analysis in Phase 0 - in other words, before getting involved in international disputes in the first place. Notably no one had a response to his challenge. Questions by MIL INT on this issue were not selected for discussion. (See also the Integrating Intel Panel with future G2 MG (P) Legere).

Monday, October 17, 2011

DNI: Double Digit IC Budget Cuts and NSA: We Are Moving to the Cloud

SAN ANTONIO, October 17, 2011
Speaking at the GEOINT 2011 Conference in San Antonio today, Director of National Security James Clapper said that "we will all have to give at the office - cuts in double digit numbers with a B" for billion, will be needed. Spending on the NIP (National Intelligence Program) and MIP (Military Intelligence Program) in 2010 totaled $80 billion.

"We have been luxuriously funded over the last ten years under supplemental funding. We used contractors to rapidly expand the workforce. We were not as disciplined as we might have been and now we have to be. If contractors failed to come to work tomorrow intelligence would stop. I hate to say it to this group, but we are going to have to reduce our contractor profile."

GEOINT 2011 Day 1


SAN ANTONIO, October 17, 2011

Update: Watch the speeches here on GEOINT TV

One of the smartest generals I know, LtGen Paul Van Riper USMC Ret, once told me that the best way to do intelligence was to present the commander with a story. A picture to represent the story would be that much more useful again, he told me. By way of example, Gen Van Riper uses the metaphor of the morning weather report. In the military and aviation communities you can get a data report of pages of numbers to tell you exactly what is happening around you. In the civilian world you get a pretty girl in front of a moving map and depending on which station you watch she may or may not dance as she tells her story about the days weather.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

SECSTATE Clinton Answers MIL INT's Alert on Asia


Back in September MIL INT issued a wake up call to the US national security establishment to refocus on the 4.2 billion people of Asia in comparison to the 432 million of the MESA region that has so dominated Washington's attention over the past decade. "Wake Up DC the Asian Century is Here" has been answered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the November issue of FP. Secretary Clinton responds by outlining her vision for "America's Pacific Century".

[Ed: Madam Secretary, you are always welcome as a guest author on MIL INT :)]

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MIL INT to ATTEND GEOINT 2011, Oct 16-20

MIL INT wants to meet you!
MIL INT is pleased to announce that the organizers of GEOINT 2011 in association with the USMC is sponsoring MIL INT to attend "the preeminent event of the year for the defense, intelligence and homeland security communities". Check out the agenda here.

MIL INT looks forward to meeting readers and learning about how your community is enhancing intelligence integration - the subject of the conference and a book length report MIL INT is currently working on for the Intelligence Dept of HQMC. 


Monday, October 10, 2011

Rethinking Defense

In a recent article in the Atlantic John Arquilla; Andrew Bacevich; James Fallows; and Gary Hart urged POTUS to commission an "independent, nonpartisan investigatory commission to evaluate the military experience of the past decade".  
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has, unfortunately, already indicated that he prefers to protect existing programs rather than to entertain unorthodox ideas.  Congressional leaders, regardless of party, share this disposition. Too much money can be as destructive as too little; big budgets can inhibit rather than encourage introspection and original thought. Therefore, useful answers to the question "how's it going" will have to come from the outside.
MIL INT supports this recommendation particularly as the proposed lines of operation include investigating:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Red Team - Not Popular in 2001

The idea of Red Teaming in military and intelligence planning teams gained popularity in the wake of perceived intelligence failures over the past decade. In essence red teaming is about challenging in-house conventional wisdom on the one hand, and getting strategic planners to thinking like (and thus anticipate) an adversary on the other. Readers might ask - "don't military planners already do that?"

Afg - 10 Years On

With all the recent anniversaries MIL INT was thinking it might be useful to go back to the pre-invasion OpEds that warned Afg would be hard - the same OpEds that got scoffed at when Mazar-e-Sharif fell and AQ and the Talibs disappeared into the countryside and over the boarder into Pakistan.  

Checkpoint Washington had the same idea and ran this early story. Then  MIL INT remembered somewhere in the deep archive he might have had an OpEd that appeared odd to people at the time. Sure enough, this October 9, 2001 Afghanistan Combat Assessment was lurking in the file. As with anything an Australian defense analyst might produce, its quite parochial, but there are some salient points "this will be a long, complex and costly war fought on many fronts at home and abroad", the importance of homeland security, a comment on impact of ethnic divisions, and the use of SOF. The assessment that the US would not blindly lash out was right in the case of Afg. However it was wrong in general. In fairness, it was unimaginable to MIL INT at the time that Iraq might be rolled into the 911 narrative given the fact that Saddam had spent his life killing radical Islamists (albeit Shia abroad as opposed to Sunni at home). Funny how things turn out.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

General Hayden Joins Romney Team

MIL INT wonders how this might play out with the black helicopter crowd? Story here.

China - "The time to use force has arrived in the South China Sea"

On October 3, UPI reported that China's Global Times newspaper had this story:

"The time to use force has arrived in the South China Sea; Let's wage wars on the Philippines and Vietnam to prevent more wars. The South China Sea is the best place for China to wage wars," the article said. "Of the more than 1,000 oil rigs there, none belongs to China; of the four airfields in the Spratly Islands, none belongs to China; once a war is declared, the South China Sea will be a sea of fire [with burning oil rigs]. Who will suffer the most from a war? Once a war starts there, the Western oil companies will flee the area, who will suffer the most?" The article also argued that the United States wouldn't intervene, too preoccupied with its war on terror, its quagmire in Afghanistan and its own economic problems.

Friday, September 30, 2011

WAKE UP DC - THE ASIAN CENTURY IS HERE, Part 4 (CP-Counter Proliferation)

The Counter Proliferation (CP) challenge in the Asia Pacific (AP) region is more complex than at first meets the eye. A mix of state and non-state actors (NSAs) are engaged in proliferation activities across the many wide-open seams of ungoverned spaces that exist in the region and between the PACOM and CENTCOM AORs. These spaces are physical, ideological, political and temporal. Asia has been an afterthought compared to the Middle East in US foreign policy for the past decade. At the same time, the US security alliance system in the region is under challenge. Long removed from the Philippines and unlikely to be invited back, the US is under pressure to move units from Okinawa. The problems extend beyond military force posture. Both the US nuclear umbrella and the Non Proliferation Treaty appear weak at best, and a chimera at worst, thereby tempting legitimate states to consider developing their own nuclear deterrent. 



JUST THIS WEEK it was revealed that the Head of the Republic of China "command’s communications and electronic information department", Maj. Gen. Lo Hsien-che, has been sentenced to life for spying for the PRC. In an interesting side note AFP reports the honey trap operative who lured the general to give up Po Sheng was carrying an Australian passport.
Lo’s betrayal has stirred particularly acute alarm. His job gave him access to some of Taiwan’s most closely guarded secrets — involving a new command, control and communications system known as Po Sheng, or “Broad Victory,” long a target of Chinese espionage here and in the United States. [Po Sheng is ] built around sophisticated and highly secret American technology. Reported Andrew Higgins in the Post.

al-Awlaki - A VICTORY for SMART CT

Home run (again)!
A key driver of the Yemeni AQ threat against the US has been eliminated. al-Awlaki had become much more operationally significant than bin Laden. Many of the recent attacks against the US homeland over the past few years originated in Yemen. Instead of invading, installing a democracy and spending hundreds of billions on civic projects, the US followed a SMART CT strategy that targeted the worst of the worst and removed the threat. SMART CT has greatly improved democracy's chances in Yemen, by removing a key threat to democracy and stabilization, thereby opening a space for Yemeni's to choose their own path.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

FBI Foils Pentagon/Congress Plot

“I just can’t stop; there is no other choice for me.” Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen, was intent on killing the “enemies of Allah.” 

It was revealed today that the FBI has foiled a home-grown terrorist plot aimed at the Pentagon and Congress. The following is from the FBI's account:
Ferdaus described his expanded attack as follows:

...with this aerial assault, we can effectively eliminate key locations of the [Pentagon] then we can add to it in order to take out everything else and leave one area only as a squeeze where the individuals will be isolated, they’ll be vulnerable and we can dominate.

Once isolated, Ferdaus planned to “open up on them” and “keep firing” to create “chaos” and “take out” everyone. He also provided the expanded plan to the UC on a thumb drive.

The Hinsley Raid - A Video

MIL INT with The Cardinal 1994 St John's College, Cambridge
Professor Sir Harry Hinsley, is featured in the in THIS documentary on breaking the enigma code. For non US viewers, it is the "ULTRA Enigma" episode of the The Secrets of War documentary.

US-British SIGINT Agreement Revealed

Harry Hinsley, Sir Edward Travis and Brig Tiltman, who helped negotiate the intelligence sharing agreement between Britain and the US, in Washington in November 1945
MIL INT's PhD supervisor, Professor Sir Harry Hinsley, seen here on the left, was a 'behind the scenes' player in the establishment of the 'diamond in the allied SIGINT Crown' - the 1946 UK-USA Agreement. While the existence of the agreement has been public knowledge for years, the text of the agreement was only released in 2010. The NSA released the text along with a useful catalog of early primary documents from its secret archives. A joint effort to the very end, GCHQ also released a series of related documents on the same day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Click here for Part 1

THE CRITICAL QUESTION - How will China manage its "Great Leap Outward"?
Is China approaching its 1898 point in history? Given its vastly different political and cultural make up to the US, how might China manage its transformation to a global power? Will it be a benign hegemon or will the nationalist passions aroused by a century of 'humiliation' by the West (here I include 1930s Japan) and its sense of exceptionalism (Middle Kingdom narrative) drive it to assert itself in ways that will prove counter productive to world order?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dangers to the Republic!

“Those who think that they alone have the right answers, those who demonize those who think differently, and those who refuse to listen and take other points of view into account—these leaders, in my view, are a danger to the American people and to the future of our republic.”

Sounds like one of those crackpot conspiracy emails that circulate daily...

Saturday, September 24, 2011


(Picture Credit: BBC)
"China has indisputable sovereignty of the South Sea, and China has sufficient historical and legal backing" to support its claims, Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, a Ministry of Defense spokesman, told reporters.
--- And there it is.

This is the first part of a 4 part series that canvas a range of national security issues concerning US policy.

The US foreign and security policy community has to get back up to speed on Asia - and do so as quickly as possible - transforming it from a niche concern to a central focus of effort. It is a choice between the 'Middle East Decade' of the past, and the 'Asian Century', not of the future, but of the now. A global power shift has been in progress for some time. While Washington has been enmeshed in the intricacies of understanding myriad sub-cultures in the Middle East (and more recently, North Africa [MENA]), in an effort to hasten the kind of political and social change that took the West 500 years of bloody religious wars to master, two titans have emerged in Asia. During the past 'middle east decade', Asia has transformed from a comparatively benign and largely stable zone, to a rapidly growing fulcrum of issues spanning the power spectrum (soft to hard), for states and non-state actors (NSAs) alike. This is not just about China's rise, it is also about India's rise, economic competition, trade, energy, proliferation, terrorism, cyber security, and old fashioned nationalism and territorial disputes;  all set against growing military capabilities. 

Despite the best efforts of officials like Kurt Campbell at DoS for example, Washington is not as fully engaged intellectually, physically, politically, or diplomatically, as it needs to be to keep ahead of rapid change in Asia. For a simple but telling example, according to the DoD policy website the Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs is vacant. Can anyone but a few insiders even name the DASD? This is not an attack on the incumbent. Rather it is an indicator of the place Asia holds in official Washington. In private, intelligence and security officials routinely refer to Asia as a "backwater", an "after thought", it is as if Washington can only concentrate on one problem at a time. As the US starts to contemplate a post-2014 world order, it will need to quickly grasp the significance of Asia.  To get an idea of the extent of radical change in the global balance of economic, social and political power look at this excellent short video by Hans Rosling.

The really big meta-trends are coming out of Asia. For example, energy demand is expected to soar in coming decades according to the US Dept of Energy. Until now analysts have thought of energy security as supply driven, from here on out analysts should see it as demand driven. Looked at from that perspective, a whole new world opens up. Consider this projection from the NYT:
Global energy demand will increase 53 percent from 2008 through 2035, with China and India accounting for half of the growth, the United States Department of Energy said on Monday. China and India will consume 31 percent of the world’s energy by 2035, up from 21 percent in 2008, the department’s International Energy Outlook projected. In 2035, Chinese energy demand will exceed that of the United States by 68 percent, it said.
Despite the Fukushima disaster, analysts expect nuclear power to continue to be a focus of interest in SE Asia.


The US, China and Japan are the world's top 3 economies respectively (India is 9, Australia 13, S Korea 15, Indonesia 18). The US is still clawing its way out of recession while China is experiencing 10% growth year on year. If that rate were sustained China would double its GDP in seven years. The future of the US dollar as the global reserve currency will be determined in Asia. In March 2011, China held $3.04tn US dollars in reserves, Xinhua news agency reported. It is the largest holder of US treasuries, or government debt, with $1.166tn as of June 30, 2011. Ever wonder why Gold prices continue to soar? Part of it is due to general market uncertainty, but behind the scenes China has been buying gold to mitigate its exposure to the USD.  Following the downgrading of US credit to AA+, Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson at China Signpost blog observed:

Beijing is lecturing the U.S. to protect its investments. In a strongly worded editorial on 6 August 2011, Xinhua, one of China’s main state-controlled media entities, declared that “China, the largest creditor of the world’s sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States to address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China’s dollar assets." 
Chinas global investments provide the PRC with tremendous access and influence from Africa to Latin America. The People's Daily reported in March 2011
In 2009, China became the world's fifth largest ODI investor, rising from 12th in 2008. In 2010, China's ODI surged 36.3 percent to $59 billion, while its FDI rose 17.4 percent to $105.7 billion.
This FT graphic gives an idea of the global scope and reach of Chinese investments. PRC trade within  the ASEAN block is a useful example of the power of its economy. According to the China Post
China's trade with ASEAN has jumped six-fold since 2000 to US$193 billion last year, surpassing that of the U.S. China's share of Southeast Asia's total commerce has increased to 11.3 percent from 4 percent in that time, whereas the U.S.'s portion of trade with the bloc fell to 10.6 percent from 15 percent, ASEAN statistics show. During that time, ASEAN's trade deficit with China widened by five times to US$21.6 billion. The bloc reported a US$21.2 billion trade surplus with the U.S. last year, down 12 percent from 2000. 
But the story does not stop with economic power. From advances in medicine to green tech, China is surging ahead in science and technology far surpassing expectations. The Guardian reported that China is poised to overtake the US in scientific research output:
The Royal Society said that China was now second only to the US in terms of its share of the world's scientific research papers written in English. China could overtake the United States as the world's dominant publisher of scientific research by 2013.
The dominant language in many of the labs in the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC is mandarin. In a very smart move the Chinese are now engaged in the Thousand Talents Program - which is designed to take advantage of the exceptional education and training Chinese nationals have received around the world by luring them back home with money and state of the art labs to work on projects of national significance. Many top scientists and entrepreneurs sometimes referred to as "sea turtles" are taking the education and running: here is an example, and another and another.  For entrepreneurial examples see here. 


China has an advanced space program. It became only the third country to launch an astronaut into space in 2003; its first space walk followed in 2007; it has already launched 6 indigenous Beidou satellites to provide it with an independant GPS capability in the Asia Pacific region; and it is soon to send the first element of its own space station into orbit.  Scott Pace, an associate NASA administrator in the George W. Bush administration compared the US and Chinese space program thus:
Space leadership is highly symbolic of national capabilities and international influence, and a decline in space leadership will be seen as symbolic of a relative decline in U.S. power and influence.
Space is a vital enabler of advanced science, communications (including cyber), navigation, and war. Notably, it has also demonstrated an anti-satellite kill capability back in 2007 when it shot down one of its own old weather satellites. From a first manned space flight in 2003, to a GPS network and space station in 2011, is a frightening pace of advanced application of science and technology. 


Official Washington has spent the past decade concerned about around 432 million people of the MENA region, while Asia's 4.2 billion have been, quite frankly, an afterthought.  The terrorist threat posed by AQ is serious, but the global stakes in Asia are profound. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

China - Nationalism Trumps Smarts in Military Modernization

Since 1978 when it cleverly decided to engage in economic reform in order to avoid political reform - an ordering of change the Soviets probably regretted not following as their union collapsed under the pressure of instant political reform between 89-91 - the PRC has steadily risen from 3rd world backwater to regional power, and now global aspirant, completely unmolested.

All that time the United States provided the international good of securing the global commons. More recently, the US has secured Iraq and to a lesser extent Afghanistan. In both cases Chinese companies have secured business contracts for energy and rare earth goodies in each locale respectively. Of course US intent was not aimed at that outcome specifically, but the Chinese nevertheless seized the opportunity.

All of this raises the point - if the Chinese were the superior long range thinkers that many analysts fear they are, GO v chess and all that pap, wouldn't it make more sense not to build an advanced military?
For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

CT - AQ "On Ropes" Brennan

Army Times has a report with more strong words from top CT official John Brennan, echoing Secretary Panetta's assessment that AQ is in serious decline. It is interesting to see that Sec Panetta has backed away from the earlier strong language because of the fiscal need to keep the DoD drumbeat going, as opposed to the 'Attaboy' he rightly issued CIA as he left.
WASHINGTON — White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said al-Qaida is “on a steady slide” after the death of al-Qaida’s latest second-in-command in Pakistan.
Brennan told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it’s a “huge blow” in the first official White House comment since Atiyah Abd al-Rahman’s reported killing by CIA drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas last week.
“Al-Qaida is sort of on the ropes and taking a lot of shots to the body and the head,” Brennan said.

War Costs - $31 BILLION wasted

An ongoing interest of MIL INT is the strategic impact of the costs of war and related issues of mismanagement. DR has a story  on the recent Commission on Wartime Contracting report. This is in addition to the stunning Senate and academic reports on related topics previously noted by MIL INT.

Homegrown Terror Overblown

So argues a DR post that is well worth  a look. Here's a taste:
The prospect of homegrown terrorists keep U.S. security officials up at night. But although more homegrown jihadis have popped up lately, the so-called “lone wolves” aren’t always as solitary as officials fear; their plotting is amateurish; and they’re a meager fraction of America’s Muslim communities. To put it bluntly, these are the scrubs of international terrorism.

China - Consolidated List of Recent Work

A quick reference blog to recent China related work appearing out there in the world. Secrecy news has links to recent China related CRS reports - check out the China Naval Modernization piece in particular.

Friday, September 2, 2011

5 Myths of 911

As the 10th anniversary fast approaches there will be a lot of media hype and far too little serious re-evaluation. Brian Michael Jenkins has a piece in the Post on 5 myths of 911 - MIL INT does not agree with all of them but that does not mean they do not deserve considered thought.

CT - CIA in Wash Post

Today's Washington Post has an extended story on the CIA's greatly enhanced role in CT.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saudi Goes Nuclear

As reported by the energy collective
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) plans to build 16 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years spending an estimated $7 billion on each plant. The $112 billion investment, which includes capacity to become a regional exporter of electricity, will provide one-fifth of the Kingdom’s electricity for industrial and residential use and, critically, for desalinization of sea water.
and the ever subtle Turki al-Faisal makes the obvious observation

Saturday, August 27, 2011

China - DoD Annual Report to Congress

MIL INT has been busy lately and this is just a drive by listing for future reference

  1. Report is here
  2. Wired's DR analysis here - good summary of recent developments
  3. Army Times - China's overreaction
  4. Army Times summary here

Monday, August 15, 2011

Afg - Amrullah Saleh - Ex Spy Master

A piece in today's Telegraph of London worth reading
But since quitting his post last year, he now has even more reason to fear – after forming an influential new opposition group that has denounced the plans of President Hamid Karzai and the West for a political settlement with the Taliban. "Very simply, the Taliban are our killers, they are not our brothers," Mr Saleh told The Sunday Telegraph last week.
Mr Saleh was forced to resign along with his ally, the former interior minister Hanif Atmar, after the Taliban attacked a peace conference last summer – but while the official reason was because of the failure to prevent the assault, behind the scenes there had been growing tensions with Mr Karzai himself, whom Mr Saleh accuses of being not just corrupt, but also beholden to neighbouring Pakistan, the Taliban's chief sponsor.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PME: Thinking v Groupthink

MIL INT works in a double bureaucracy - it is both a military and an educational bureaucracy. As happens from time to time, such organizations think about their direction. PME has internal and external challenges as readers will know from earlier PME stories. To what extent will the administration allow new ideas? What will make the graduating officer capable of inspired leadership? Is it more important to make the trains run on time or is the direction of the tracks more important?

Afg - More Alternative Views

FP AfPak Channel has a book review of Sherard Cowper-Coles' Cables from Kabul that includes this gem:
The book is structured very much like a diary, and is at its freshest and funniest when describing events in Kabul -- including Afghan president Hamid Karzai's threat to invade Pakistan
The content of the book as presented in the review (MIL INT has not got it yet) is reminiscent of US Ambassador Eikenberry's famous cables back when the Obama Administration was conducting the long review of US policy in 2009. These join other alternative perspectives presented in this blog,  including Rory Stewart's recent TED speech and Gen Keane's assessment to HASC.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chinese Aircraft Carriers

Remember the old Varyag that the Chinese bought to be a casino? It puts to sea for trials this week. Now a series of "chinese businessmen" want to buy a British carrier - to be transformed into the "world's largest floating exhibition platform for high-end appliances and luxury products". You buying?  Andrew Erickson has pushed a lot of good analysis on this topic.

New Publication: Intelligence Adaptation

Of possible interest - summary only - a subscription or library database account will be necessary to read in full.

Intelligence Adaptation: The Bin Laden Raid and its Consequences for US Strategy

RUSI Journal, Aug 2011, Vol. 156, No. 4
By Adam Cobb

In the aftermath of the Bin Laden raid, Adam Cobb argues that the integration of strategic intelligence assets coupled to Special Operations Forces has created a new operational paradigm for the US. The intelligence-driven global counter-terrorism strategy provides the US with a long-term, cost-effective means to continue to fight Al-Qa’ida with a reduced military footprint.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An Incredibly Sad Day for America

If you read this on Saturday Aug 6, there are 31 families in states all around the Union that are opening their front doors this morning to find sailors and chaplains in dress uniforms on their doorsteps. Right now as you read this, somewhere in America a wife is screaming "NO" over and over again on her living room floor as her five year old daughter asks "what's wrong Mommy?". We will never know the agony these great American families face, but we owe them an incalculable debt. MIL INT is humbled by the sacrifice of this - our very own greatest generation - and offers its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the fallen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Abbottabad - New Yorker story challenged

This story could be subtitled: A Journey into Hackistan... This has become a juicy DC academic-policy wonk gossip mongers delight. At first it seems like a substantive debate and then on closer inspection it quickly slides into tweet v tweet. It will probably end there. However in the interests of giving readers an insight into the ramifications of that story the following is offered FYSA.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Afg - Opinion - Great Graphic

From Afg Study Group, hat tip to Checkpoint Washington for the find. Roll your cursor over names for more information.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Abbottabad - more details in New Yorker

New story in the New Yorker - Hat tip to DR for picking this up.

China-Pakistan: Troubles Ahead? Opportunities for America?

When Americans assess the relationship with Pakistan, one of the motivators for continued engagement is the idea that if the US withdraws, the PRC will step in and that such a development would be bad for US interests in the region. This line of thinking has always stuck MILINT as naive. The PRC has a long established relationship with Pakistan that remains close irrespective of what the US does. Pakistan has enjoyed that unique position of being in the middle of two great powers - a position ripe for manipulation and profit. It has generally played that hand quite deftly. Yet as normality continues to lose its grip in Pakistan, the potential for increased tensions with China exist.

America is having a hard time convincing Pakistan to get its house in order for a variety of reasons: distance (physical, political, cultural), economic crisis at home, comparatively small military footprint WRT Pakistani territory, questionable will to seriously confront Pakistan and so on. China does not have any of those problems. If China assesses that the Islamist threat in its west is getting out of control and emanates from sanctuary in Pakistan, its old ally better look out. The Chinese wont care if its reaction (read: use of force) offends anyone in or outside of Pakistan, it wont be limited to individually targeted strikes against specific high value targets, and it wont stop, for financial, political or moral reasons until the job is done. This is yet another area where US and Chinese interests are coalescing. The question is will Washington grasp the opportunity and use it creatively?

China - Microblogging and Internal Control

Xinjiang has long been challenged by Muslim Uigher separatist. Sporadic attacks happen with some frequency. The NYT has a good piece on a recent attack in the context of attacks within the last few years with links to related stories - good for researchers to get an all in one look at the issue in recent years. An interesting feature in this story, as with the recent MILINT post on assessing China in light of the peoples reaction to the high speed rail crash, is the degree to which micro-blogs as they are call there, are replacing traditional news media and are becoming harder and harder to control.

This morning the rail piece was updated thus: China imposed Media Blackout to Calm Anger- a hint of things to come?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Afg - Keane and West in HASC Testimony

General Keane is just back from Afg and Bing West has visited many times and written an important counter-orthodoxy book on the war. This 2 hour long youtube video of their testimony to the House Armed Services Committee is well worth a look.

Keane didnt pull any punches, here are some highlights:

Recognize our “soft” policy with Pakistan as it pertains to the
sanctuaries has failed. There is NO doubt that Gen. Kyani and Gen.
Pasha, the Chief of Staff and the Director of ISI are complicit in
supporting the sanctuaries.

Pakistan - 2nd CIA Chief in 7 months Leaves

VOA reports
The Central Intelligence Agency's station chief, who oversaw the intelligence team that found Osama bin Laden, is not expected to return.
The man cannot be named because he is undercover and the CIA has not commented on the matter.
It is the second time in seven months that the top U.S. intelligence officer has left the post in Pakistan. The previous station chief had to leave after a Pakistani official admitted that his identity had been leaked, causing a security breach.
Relations between the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, have been strained since bin Laden was killed in a secret raid by U.S. special forces last MayU.S. and Pakistani officials say the top U.S. intelligence official in Islamabad has returned home because of medical reasons.

1/3 in Garmser

Since the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment arrived in Garmser in mid-April, they have struck fewer than 10 roadside bombs, none of which have proved fatal. Just one grenade and “no more bullets than you could fit in your front pocket” have been fired their way, said the battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Sean Riordan.
See the rest here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Aspen Security Forum Interview Videos

Hat Tip to Checkpoint Washington for alerting MILINT to a series of videos of a star-studded national security conference at the the Aspen Institute. Former DNI Dennis Blair takes a remarkably critical look at CT spending and proportionality of the US response to terrorism versus say domestic violence (his example, not ours). Much has already been made of his take on drone attacks in the same discussion, but there is a lot more to his remarks than just that. Please check back for updates and commentary as MILINT checks through the speakers. Gen Lute and Adm Olson will likely be well worth watching.

China - Estimation and Related Analytical Challenges

What does a major train accident have to do with China's future as a strategic power?....

National debt crisis; nuclear Pakistan perpetually on the brink of implosion and radicalization; Iran seeking nukes and doing its level best to destabilize as many places as possible; Yemen going over a cliff providing sanctuary to AQ from which it can attack the US; wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and stalemate in Egypt; virulent narco-insurgency in Mexico; constant cyber attack from all points on the compass; proliferation of dangerous technologies unchecked; and then there is China.

The national security council has a lot on its hands. It is the nature of things that the closest gator to the boat gets the most attention. But chugging along in the background is China, enjoying record growth and a concomitant spread of its interests - both direct and indirect.

Competition with China is inevitable, war is not. Decision makers in Beijing and Washington have choices both now and into the future. This is the essence of Kissinger's On China thesis, that old school realists like MILINT have supported for years. Within that finely balanced set of political calculations, getting intelligence right is clearly a very important challenge.

US Debt in Charts

The NYT has a very useful set of charts with data on the US debt.
Update: Bloomberg analysis - Why the Debt Crisis Is Even Worse Than You Think

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New GAO Cyber Testimony & Report

Pakistan - New CJCS, New COA?

Admiral Mike Mullen was well known for his frequent visits to, and his close relationship with, his Pakistani counterpart General Kayani. In recent comments Adm Mullen's presumptive replacement, General Martin Dempsey, has taken a more cautious if not critical line on Pakistan - see this short note over on DR.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Defense Cuts - Deputies Start the Debate

From DR - good story on recent Congressional testimony on looming defense cuts - the Generals all seem amicable enough during this opening debate but expect it to get very ugly in the coming years.

Afghanistan - Absolute MUST Watch Speech

If you read or watch nothing else on this topic this year you MUST WATCH this phenominal speech by Rory Stewart. MILINT readers may be rubbed the wrong way by the speech because it is so different to almost all the narratives out there - and this is exactly why it is important to have exposure to it. Rory is not just an iconoclast for the hell of it - his Afghanistan knowledge and experience run deep. He is committed to the country, not as a contractor eager to make money from his 'assessments' that we need to stay the course indefinitely, but as a practitioner-scholar, who among other things established a foundation dedicated to the preservation of the arts (broadly defined) in Kabul. Yes he walked across Afghanistan and wrote a famous book about that experience, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of his commitment to understanding the culture, society and strategic dilemmas inherent to that fated country.

Stewart's speech is truly magnificent. First, the full 20 mins is delivered without notes but with a precision and logic of an essay. As someone engaged in the world of ideas, for that alone MILINT admires this work. But more importantly, second, he outlines in very clear, well reasoned, terms a completely different narrative than exists in most of the dominant discourse, in the US at the very least. He articulates how the West's reaction to AQ in Afghanistan went off the rails when it abandoned its small footprint strategy and adopted a much heavier footprint. Readers will be familiar with MILINT's position on large versus small footprints. Stewart touches on the negative consequences of over-spending - both well intentioned and unforeseen.

Critics will focus on one or two minor points and argue them to death, but its hard to ignore the overarching thesis Stewart presents to the audience. The question is, after a decade, we are still no closer to the kind of resolution that the US seeks. It is past time to try something different. No one has all the answers and no one is suggesting Afghanistan is easy - but we must at a minimum consider alternative viewpoints and Rory Stewart has done us all a service by presenting one.

[Disclosure, MILINT met RS at a conference once a few years back].

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Yemen - Much Worse Than You Think

Considering all the recent AQ attacks on the US have emanated from Yemen, from the underwear bomber, to the printer bombs, to the Time Square and subway bombers, if you are the least bit interested in what the US military is going to do next as a core focus of effort - keep reading.

Afghanistan is old news. The AQ center of gravity has gone critical in Yemen and is building towards a crisis in nuclear armed Pakistan. Deciding which is more important is dependent on a number of variables. Yemen is going over the edge, it does not have nukes but it is rapidly becoming about as perfect an example of an ungoverned space that is viable for a terror sanctuary as can be imagined. Amid the chaos, terrorists have already mounted several attacks on the US homeland.
The Saudis say Iran is financing the rebels — known as the Huthis — so as to create a pressure front against them, much the way Iran uses Hezbollah in Lebanon. .. “The Saudis are now putting strings on the money they give us,” I was told by Abdullah Rashid al-Jumaili, a tribal sheik from Jawf province, in the far north. “They want us to spread the Sunni faith, and to fight the Huthis.” ... “It seems there is now a struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in northern Yemen,” he said.
[from featured source below].
Pakistan has nukes, a large population and territory and sits at the center of a vortex of geostrategic issues that go way beyond Afghanistan to include India, China and Iran. In the next 5 years the two countries will be central to the future of AQ. The best antidote to AQ has come from within Islam - the Arab Spring. But the pressures for reform and the pathway to peaceful development has been different in each case. While the Arab Spring has found some purchase in Yemen, the countervailing forces seem to be with chaos, not better governance (democracy). Pakistan has completely missed the Arab Spring boat - because its socio-economic and political development is decades behind Egypt and the others, so noted an expert at a recent not for attribution event MIL INT attended.

On July 20, the NYT Magazine carried a very detailed and long story on whats really been going on in Yemen. It bears very close scrutiny: