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March 22 2014

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The Pentagon Needs A New Way Of War

Robert Haddick

March 18, 2014 ·

http://warontherocks.com/2014/03/the-pentagon-needs-a-new-way-of-war/

 

Can the Pentagon do the same with less? That seems to be what the White House expects. The U.S. Department of Defense recently released the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Pentagon’s latest attempt to explain its global military strategy for the medium term. But far more revealing than the QDR itself was the “Chairman’s Assessment” of the QDR, written by General Martin Dempsey and appended to the end of the report. Dempsey’s tepid and qualified endorsement of the QDR (also discussed by WOTR’s Bryan McGrath) and his candid accounting of geostrategic risks that will compound over the next decade, provide a bracing contrast to the main text. In his second paragraph, he warns, “With our ‘ends’ fixed and our ‘means’ declining, it is therefore imperative that we innovate within the ‘ways’ we defend the Nation.”

Dempsey is more honest than the QDR at noting the yawning gap between what policymakers want the military to do around the world and what capacities the military possesses and will possess to achieve these goals. Bridging the chasm will require new thinking about how to use military force, which may result in some disruptive and unpleasant conclusions for established doctrine, organizations, and military cultures.

The new QDR maintains the same expansive ends that the U.S. has sought since World War II. In addition to protecting the U.S. homeland, the QDR calls for the U.S. military to “build security globally” and to “project power and win decisively.” The document projects a smaller military force by 2019, but a force that leaders in the Pentagon still believe will be capable of accomplishing its assignments, albeit with some additional risk in a few areas.

Missing from the QDR is an analysis of why the reduced military force structure for 2019 will be adequate for the expansive goals assigned to it. This missing analysis is frustrating for both dovish and hawkish military analysts. Doves see a huge defense budget (nearly as big as the next fifteen largest military budgets combined), the world’s most advanced military technology, and the most experienced soldiers, all operating in a world they believe lacks plausible military threats to the U.S. The QDR does not explain to the doves why the envisioned force for 2019, with the same ambitious goals, is necessary.

Hawks are frustrated that the authors of the QDR were largely unwilling to identify major geostrategic competitors like China and Russia by name, and that the authors were similarly afraid to describe in detail innovative adversary military approaches, such as missile-based theater anti-access strategies, because to do so would reveal a Pentagon that has been largely unresponsive to such growing threats for over a decade. Pentagon leaders will plea that they don’t want the QDR to raise unnecessary tensions or to reveal military secrets. But the result for both dovish and hawkish observers is a loss of confidence in whether the Pentagon is capable of effective strategy, a perception reinforced by the results from the last decade.

The QDR’s authors admit that the Pentagon is taking increased risk with its defense drawdown. But the document doesn’t say clearly what these risks are, only that they’ll get worse if the return of sequestration in 2016 cuts the budget even more. Dempsey’s assessment letter by contrast is refreshingly honest. He forecasts,

the risk of interstate conflict in East Asia to rise, the vulnerability of our platforms and basing to increase, our technology edge to erode, instability to persist in the Middle East, and threats posed by violent extremist organizations to endure. Nearly any future conflict will occur on a much faster pace and on a more technically challenging battlefield. And, in the case of U.S. involvement in conflicts overseas, the homeland will no longer be a sanctuary either for our forces or for our citizens.

Strategy is about setting priorities. The QDR doesn’t want to do this too explicitly because it is too embarrassing to cut allies adrift. And as Secretary of State Dean Acheson could explain after the Korean War broke out in 1950, being too explicit about your defense priorities can have regrettable consequences. But as a result, the QDR doesn’t give much guidance on what adversaries and contingencies U.S. military forces should prepare for.

Here again, Dempsey’s assessment letter does much better. He gives a rank-order list of missions, starting with “Maintain a secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” and ending with “Conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response.” It is with point three on Dempsey’s list, “defeat an adversary,” that the gap between what the U.S. military needs to be able to do, and what it will be able to do, may first appear.

How specifically will policymakers define “defeat an adversary”? Does this mean destroy the adversary’s armed forces in the field? With the exception of Panama in 1989, the United States arguably hasn’t accomplished that task since 1945. In Dempsey’s view, conventional military fights will be even more challenging in the future. For example, destroying mobile, land-based, long-range missile launchers in Iran or China—a necessary condition for reopening critical sea lanes during a conflict—will be an immensely frustrating task. And after more than a decade of intense effort, the United States and its partners still aren’t sure whether they have decisively defeated the amorphous non-state terror networks they have targeted.

Bridging the gap between what the U.S. military needs to do and what it will be able to do will almost certainly require more funding than current plans call for. But more money alone will not be a competitive strategy. Many adversaries—be they China or an al Qaeda affiliate—will be able to add incremental military capacity at lower costs than will the Pentagon. It won’t be competitive for the Pentagon to engage in an arms race with adversaries with lower marginal costs.

This means first starting from principles that explore new ways—new tactics, doctrines, organizations, and technologies—to directly target an adversary’s organizational capacity, its incentives, and will to fight. These have been critical “centers of gravity” since the beginning of time. But recent changes in technology and culture provide new opportunities to attack these factors directly, in some cases bypassing traditional forms of military power.

The Pentagon needs a new way of war. The traditional American ways of employing military power against an adversary’s military forces have fallen short of strategic success for many years, a deficiency that will not get better in the decade ahead. Military strategists need a fresh appraisal of the logic linking military force to the achievement of strategic goals. When done honestly, the result will likely be some revolutionary and disruptive changes in military doctrine, organizations, procurement policies, and culture. Dempsey’s frank assessment of the QDR is a start down this path.

Robert Haddick is an independent contractor at U.S. Special Operations Command. He writes here in a personal capacity. In September 2014, U.S. Naval Institute Press will publish Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific, Haddick’s book on the rise of China’s military power and U.S. strategy in East Asia.

 

Pentagon Asks Air Force About Russia Rocket Engine

By Tony Capaccio

Mar 20, 2014 12:10 PM ET


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-20/pentagon-asks-air-force-about-russia-rocket-engine.html

 

Pentagon officials have asked the Air Force to review whether the use of Russian engines on rockets from a Lockheed Martin Corp.-Boeing Co. (BA) team creates a national security risk.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week at a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing that a review was needed after Russia’s incursion into the Crimea and threats to the Ukraine prompted a reassessment of U.S.-Russia relations.

United Launch Alliance LLC, the Lockheed-Boeing joint venture, uses Russian engines on Atlas V rockets the Pentagon depends on to launch military satellites. Tensions over Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region has sparked questions about that supply connection.

The Pentagon purchases launch services from United Launch Alliance, including the Atlas and Boeing Delta models that use different engines. Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed used the Russian-made RD-180 engine for years on its Atlas V rocket before joining Chicago-based Boeing in the alliance.

“The department had recently completed an assessment of the use of foreign components” including the RD-180 engine, Maureen Schumann, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in an e-mail statement.

“In light of the current situation, we have directed the Air Force perform an additional review to ensure we completely understand the implications, including supply interruptions, of using foreign components” in the program, she said.

Pentagon officials estimate it would cost U.S. companies as much as $1 billion to produce the engine domestically and take as long as five years, Schumann said.

 

Security Interest

Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., a company that’s trying to break into the military launch market, said at a March 5 congressional hearing that launches may be at risk because of Boeing’s and Lockheed’s dependence on the Russian engine.

Musk, who also is chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), said the Atlas V rockets should be phased out for the “long-term security interest of the country.”

In her statement, Schumann said since the beginning of the program in 1995 “there has been concern about the use of foreign components in the launch vehicle, particularly the Russian RD-180 engine.”

“The Air Force regularly reviews and analyzes various components” of the program to include “any potential risks associated with the use of RD-180 engines,” she said.

The joint venture “has stockpiled about a two-year supply of the engines” based on the current planned satellite launch schedule.

If the RD-180 supply is restricted, the Defense Department “would prioritize” the engines’ use for the highest value satellites, she said.

 

 

Pentagon’s Gamble on Getting More Money Questioned

By Roxana Tiron and Tony Capaccio

Mar 20, 2014 10:30 AM ET

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-20/pentagon-s-gamble-on-getting-more-money-questioned.html

 

The Pentagon is betting that Congress will roll back $35 billion in automatic defense cuts scheduled to begin in fiscal 2016.

That may prove wishful thinking, with little consensus among lawmakers over eliminating the looming defense cuts that were part of the across-the-board reductions, known as sequestration, embedded in the 2011 agreement to lift the federal debt limit.

“I hope there is nobody naive enough to believe that we can just end it for defense,” Dick Durbin, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat and chairman of the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said of sequestration in an interview. “It’s going to be ended for both defense and non-defense if it’s going to work.”

A congressional budget agreement reached in December, P.L. 113-067, partially eased the cuts for the current year, fiscal 2014, as well as the coming fiscal year, which begins this October and for which appropriators are now developing spending plans.

With the deeper spending reductions set to resume in succeeding years, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Pentagon planners are lobbying Congress to head off such cuts to military forces and equipment.

The 2016 fiscal year “will be a critical inflection point,” Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox wrote March 5 in a memo to all military service chiefs. “We will look for a signal from Congress that sequestration will not be imposed in FY 2016.”

 

Ukraine Crisis

The crisis in relations between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine may produce public support for more defense spending, said Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole, a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

“People begin to see the consequences to lowering our military profile,” Cole said in an interview.

If sequestration isn’t replaced in 2016, the Pentagon will be forced to reduce its proposed $535.1 billion request for fiscal 2016 to about $500 billion. That’s on top of the $37 billion in defense cuts for fiscal 2013 and $25 billion for the current fiscal year. About $45 billion is to be trimmed in the fiscal 2015 request from the $541 billion projected last year.

The bipartisan support for the current two-year budget plan may not hold in future negotiations, when previous differences in how spending should be allocated could resurface.

 

Non-Defense Cuts

Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said she opposed continuation of sequestration for both defense and domestic programs. The New York lawmaker said cuts to defense are “very damaging to preparedness, and cuts to the National Institutes of Health, among other areas, in the non-defense part of the budget would be a disaster,” she said in an interview. “I would hope that thoughtful Republicans would prevent that from happening.”

Rodney Frelinghuysen, who leads the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee, said he would like to see the sequester, “undone, absolutely.”

 

“We’ll show the critical mass of people on our side of the aisle that regular order is better than continuing resolutions and the sequester,” the New Jersey Republican said in an interview.

Some Republicans want to increase defense spending at the expense of domestic programs, while others aligned with small-government groups such as the Tea Party back keeping sequestration in place to ensure federal spending is reduced.

 

Sacred Cows

“Sequestration should be used as a tool for us to get actual spending cuts,” Representative Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican backed by the Tea Party, said in an interview. “Everybody has to put their sacred cows on the table.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, also a Tea Party favorite, said that “unsustainable debt” is one of the greatest “national security threats.”

“We should address our national defense needs but do so in combination with responsible fiscal restraint on the non-defense side,” Cruz said in an interview.

Popular defense programs and personnel would be hit if sequestration isn’t rolled back by Congress. The Pentagon says it would have to cut the number of aircraft carriers to 10 from 11 and adjust the number of helicopters and fighter jets such as F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets made by Chicago-based Boeing Co. (BA) and possibly F-35 Joint Strike Fighters made by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)

 

Paring Forces

Instead of the currently planned reduction to about 450,000 troops by 2019, the active Army would have to pare its force to 420,000. The Marine Corps would have to be prepared to reduce personnel to 175,000 from an initial reduction to 182,000, the Pentagon says.

Pentagon officials say they would like an answer sooner rather than later about Congress’s intentions on sequestration.

“The sooner that we can get a firm indication that sequestration will no longer remain the law of the land, the better, but I can’t sit here” and “put a date on the calendar and say we have to have it by April 1st or May 15th,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Defense Department spokesman, said.

 

Early 2015

For the Pentagon to devise a budget request for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, 2015, that avoids the automatic cuts, Congress and President Barack Obama would have to reach an agreement by early next year.

With the midterm elections in November, Congress is unlikely to handle controversial budget issues this year.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, plans to submit a budget blueprint for fiscal 2015 that would increase defense spending while keeping the $1.04 trillion cap agreed to in last year’s deal. That would mean cuts in domestic spending, which would almost certainly be rejected in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republicans hope to win a Senate majority in November, which they say could lead to more support for boosting defense funding.

 

“We might have some more willing partners across the way,” Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview.

If Republicans win both chambers of Congress in 2014, “defense really is going to be a Republican priority,” Republican Cole said. “It’s achievable.”

 

DOD delays rulemaking on rapid reporting of cyber penetrations

http://insidecybersecurity.com/Cyber-General/Cyber-Public-Content/dod-delays-rulemaking-on-rapid-reporting-of-cyber-penetrations/menu-id-1089.html

Posted: March 20, 2014

 

The Pentagon needs more time to develop highly anticipated draft regulations that would require defense contractors with security clearances to rapidly report penetrations of their networks and information systems.

An ad hoc committee, tasked in January 2013 by the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council director with developing the statutorily required procedures, was due to report back to the director on Wednesday.

But the interim Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation System rule, known as DFARS case 2013-D018, remains under development and was not submitted to the director on Wednesday, meaning the deadline will be extended, a defense official told Inside Cybersecurity.

This marks the latest in a series of delays in the rulemaking process. The fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, enacted in January 2013, originally called for the Defense Department to develop the procedures within 90 days.

The official said the department had not yet set a new deadline in light of this week’s delay. Once DOD issues the interim rule, a formal process of soliciting public comments would begin.

Section 941 of the FY-13 National Defense Authorization Act requires the department to develop the new regulation. The law calls for cleared defense contractors to rapidly report penetrations of networks and information systems, and allows DOD personnel access to equipment and information to assess the impact of reported penetrations.

That has attorneys asking what a penetration is, whether investigations will be disclosed, whether such incidents are “material events,” whether this will extend to unclassified networks (the law’s language leaves open this possibility) and what impact this might have on trade secrets and sensitive data, according to a presentation by the law firm Dickstein Shapiro.

Also unclear is how rapidly contractors will have to report penetrations. The law does not specify, but DOD’s implementation procedures are expected to include such detail. – Christopher J. Castelli (ccastelli@iwpnews.com)

 

 

How Western Bureaucrats Stirred Putin’s Petulance into a Cold War Crisis

Defense One

James Kitfield

March 20, 2014

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2014/03/how-western-bureaucrats-stirred-putins-petulance-cold-war-crisis/80962/?oref=d-topstory

 

In recent days Russia has revealed the gambit that opened with a $15 billion bailout for a client in Kiev and morphed into the seizure and annexation of Crimea, all part of Vladimir Putin’s risky defense of what he sees as Moscow’s privileged “sphere of influence.” Putin’s bellicose rhetoric proclaiming a right to intervene militarily wherever ethnic Russians are threatened suggests that the territorial integrity of Ukraine and other neighbors remains at serious risk. As the Western alliance inevitably responds with tougher sanctions and further efforts to draw Kiev westward, leaders must now decide if 21st century soft-power and economic sanctions trumps 19th century hard power and Putin’s decidedly zero-sum worldview.

It’s instructive to remember how the tug-of-war over Ukraine’s orientation escalated into the worst East-versus-West crisis in more than three decades. From the beginning all sides have been guilty of faulty assumptions and strategic miscalculation. Putin has made clear that his proposed creation of a Russian-led trading bloc called the “Eurasian Union” is a legacy issue, a milestone in his long project to restore Russian prestige and regional power. He has publicly admitted that such a union is largely meaningless without Ukraine’s participation, given that country’s size and close business and cultural ties to Russia. And yet Putin seems oblivious to the fragility of an economic edifice built more on naked coercion and bribes than on shared business interests.

With Putin distracted in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, and the United States focused on crises in the Middle East and a “pivot” to Asia, European Union bureaucrats saw an opportunity to steal a march on Moscow by concluding ambitious “Association Agreements” with Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia. These agreements seem benign to Western sensibilities, but buried in the minutia of their “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area” language is the essence of democratic capitalism, with its emphasis on transparency, the rule of law and protection of minority rights. They are the chief instruments of European soft-power, and Putin unsurprisingly views them as a threat to the Russian model of authoritarian capitalism, with its focus on centralized state power, cheap energy bribes and crony kleptocracy.

In the run-up to an “Eastern Partnership” summit in Vilinius, last November, European Union officials reportedly made clear to the expected signatories that the “Association Agreements” were incompatible with Putin’s proposed Eurasian Union. They thus played into Putin’s zero-sum mindset and the fear of encirclement of someone who lost an older brother in the German siege of Leningrad during World War II. When Putin, the former KGB case officer, cut a $15 billion deal with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to scuttle the EU agreement, he was predictably outraged that violent street protests in Kiev forced his very expensive client to flee for his life.

In danger of being outmaneuvered, Putin looked West and saw an initially disengaged and war-weary America, and a pacifist Europe weakened by the monetary crisis yet meddling in Russia’s near-abroad. Fiona Hill, a Brookings Institution scholar and coauthor of the recent book Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” notes that at that point Putin fashioned a hard-power response that plays to type and resonates deeply in an aggrieved Russian psyche. The essence of his message to the West, she writes: “We thought we made it very clear in Georgia in 2008 that we are prepared to stand up for our interests, take the risks of military intervention. We can suffer sanctions…[and] have a higher threshold for pain than you do. Have you forgotten our national narrative and the siege of Leningrad? Do you want to go to war over Ukraine? We don’t, but we’re ready to if you don’t back down and back off!”

 

With Russia’s annexation of Crimea, President Barack Obama had no choice but to ratchet up the sanctions pressure to exact a higher price, and hopefully force Putin to eventually seek an off-ramp in the escalating crisis. In fashioning an economic bailout of a cash-strapped government in Kiev, Brussels expects Ukraine to finally sign its “Association Agreement” as early as Friday, continuing to draw Ukraine closer to the economic bosom of Europe. In determining whether to remain a somewhat neutral country or fling itself into the arms of the West, however, Ukrainians should understand there are tens of thousands of Russian troops on their border, a Russian red line that runs roughly down the center of their country, and a revisionist strongman in the Kremlin echoing his forebear Joseph Stalin, who was once warned that the Pope objected to Russia’s repression of Catholics.

“The Pope?” Stalin asked. “How many divisions has he got.

 

Drone Warfare Is Why We Can’t Find Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2014/03/drone-warfare-why-we-cant-find-malaysian-airlines-flight-370/80983/?oref=d-skybox

Patrick Tucker

March 20, 2014

 

The long and frustrating hunt for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 might be a sign of what’s to come, thanks to our growing obsession with drone imagery at the expense of the quaint technology of satellite radar data.

While today’s high-resolution image satellites can take very detailed pictures of relatively small areas, old-fashioned radar satellites are the best solution for finding lost objects at sea, says Kurt Schwoppe, manager for imagery solutions for the company Esri. Radar satellites don’t see the world. Rather they get a sense of objects in somewhat the same way that a bat does. As bats use sonar to bounce signals off of prey to determine the location of targets and other objects, radar satellites take detailed scans of the planet by bouncing electromagnetic signals off the earth’s surface. Military officials won’t publicly disclose what assets they are using in the search for the missing aircraft. But militarily speaking, these sorts of satellites were great for seeing over large areas where there was cloud cover or finding ghost ships that had turned off their transponders. They’re also useful for spotting anomalies at sea.

“If there’s any oil slick that stands out well because there’s these flat dark spots where there are no wave ripples at all. If there’s an angular thing, like maybe a wing floating on the surface or some type of debris, that stuff stands out brightly” says Schwoppe.

It’s a technology that NASA led in the development of in the 1970s. Today, space-based radar is an area where other countries are out-innovating the United States, at least commercially. The main private players are AirBus and a Canadian public-private program called RADARSAT (which includes Lockheed Martin but is run out of Canada by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates or MDA). “From a commercial company standpoint, we have not flown a radar satellite ourselves,” says Schwoppe.

That’s a problem because the U.S. continues to rely more on commercial satellites for our imaging data. “Right now to buy this data from the Canadians or the Europeans is just very, very expensive. So then it never gets acquired,” says Schwoppe. “The U.S. has invested a lot in this technology and the question is, can we get some of these commercial vendors up and start making a commercial business out of this and get it more and more readily available for different use cases. It seems we’re great at developing technology. Then others adopt it and put it to good use and for us it sits on the shelf a little bit.”

Lagging space-based radar imaging has bitten us before. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, in which 4.9 million barrels of oil were leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, high-resolution satellites took volumes of pictures but could not get a comprehensive sense of the entire spill area. The RADARSAT II satellite, conversely, was able to provide daily coverage of the entire area. You think the U.S. would have learned.

To understand how the U.S. got to this point, consider the last decade’s evolution of reconnaissance tools. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we brought high-resolution satellite imagery to bear on the task of getting snap shots, at a resolution as fine as 50 cm, of insurgents hiding among the dusty hills of the Pakistan border.

Today, high-resolution satellite imagery is playing a role in the search for Flight 370. U.S. company DigitalGlobe has opened up its image satellites to aid in the search and launched a crowdsource campaign to enlist volunteers to analyze the images. “Users can go to Tomnod, and zoom in on each satellite image from DigitalGlobe’s satellite constellation and drop a pin if they see signs of wreckage. Its algorithm, CrowdRank, will find where there is overlap in the tags from people who tagged the same location. Then, DigitalGlobe’s expert analysts will examine the tags to identify the top 10 or so most notable areas and share the information with customers and authorities,” a company official explained, in an email.

But the crowdsourced solution may not be ideal and can produce false positives, as evinced by the singer Courtney Love’s fleeting but ebullient conviction that she had found the phantom Malaysian flight based on satellite imagery.

Schwoppe is skeptical of the tactic. The necessity of crowdsourcing speaks to the fact that high-resolution imagery doesn’t offer wide enough coverage. DigitalGlobe’s satellites can only see an area that’s 18 kilometers wide. RADARSAT’s synthetic aperture radar can cover 500 kilometers.

U.S. reliance on high-resolution imaging is surpassed only by the military obsession with unmanned areal vehicles or UAVs, which have proven relatively useless in the current search for Flight 370. UAVs were an ideal solution for an environment like Afghanistan or Iraq where the military wanted the ability to follow a target from house to house to roadside, or perhaps loiter over a key area where insurgents might be gathering. “From a tactical perspective in actually fighting ground operations, UAVs were extremely powerful and they met that niche,” Schwoppe observed. “We had the luxury to do that because we totally controlled the airspace over Iraq and Afghanistan and you know we won’t have that same luxury in other areas.”

As previously mentioned, the most-recent budget request cuts spending for Navy satellite communications to $41,829,000 from $66,196,000 and the Navy Satellite Control Network $20,806,000 from $35,657,000.

Schwoppe believes that military spending on radar satellites is probably safe, but can’t be sure. “I can tell you, the reconnaissance community understands and knows the value of radar, especially as targets change.” But he acknowledges that broader cuts in military satellite programs are disturbing.

Also, European and Canadian groups have found civilian uses for radar technology in environmental monitoring, another area where the U.S. lags.

If the U.S. and allies don’t give this old technology some better attention, the next Flight 370 might be even harder to find.

 

How the U.S. Outsmarted Everyone by Giving Up the Internet

Patrick Tucker

March 17, 2014

 

The U.S. may have kept China and Russia from gaining influence over the Internet by announcing a plan to keep less control for itself.

On Friday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, quietly announced that it is giving up remaining U.S. control of the Internet’s domain naming system to the broader international community.

Critics quickly expressed concern that the handover could make the Internet less secure. Former House Speaker New Gingrich took to Twitter to ask: “What is the global internet community that Obama wants to turn the internet over to? This risks foreign dictatorships defining the Internet.”

But Matthew Prince, co-founder of the company Cloudflare, said that giving up control of DNS — in the way that NTIA did it — was actually a savvy move that will keep the Internet more open to citizens and less controllable by dictatorships.

“I think the general story is completely wrong,” he said.

The shrewdness of the move rests in a little-noticed section of the Friday press release, which states: “NTIA will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution.”

That one caveat is key, Prince says, to making sure that the Internet continues to operate in the way that it does, bottom-up and user-driven — and not according to the whim of Beijing or Moscow.

“The real story is that the U.S. has pre-empted the argument that any government should have control of the Internet. Instead, it says that the Internet is a network defined by a collection of different stakeholders that must be governed by the bottom up rather than a traditional top down approach. I think it was a brilliant move to make sure that the Internet stays what it is,” Prince said.

The form that the transition, planned since 1997, will take has yet to be determined, but the California-based Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN will be running the process

Here’s what’s specifically up for grabs: the ability to make changes to the domain name system or DNS and the database containing the world’s top-level domains. The domain name system is essentially how you find every web site and email on the Internet. It’s what links an IP address to a specific URL, so when you type in a web site, you are taken immediately to the numerical address of the computer where that web site is hosted.

Russia and China have led a strong effort to put more control of the Internet under the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, which would effectively give those governments greater say in how the Internet is run. The ITU is the United Nations agency for information and communication technologies. Internet watchers expected Russia, China or the UN to make a big push for more ITU control during an upcoming ITU meeting in Busan, South Korea. By making this move now, Prince said, the U.S. renders that strategy unworkable.

“Now, when China stands up and says we want a seat at the table of Internet governance the U.S. can say ‘no. The Internet should be stateless.’ They’re in a much stronger position to make that argument today than they were before,” Prince said.

 

Kremlin says Crimea is now officially part of Russia after treaty signing, Putin speech

 

By Will Englund,

Published: March 18

MOSCOW — Invoking the suffering of the Russian people and a narrative of constant betrayals by the West, President Vladimir Putin declared Tuesday that Russia was within its rights to reclaim Crimea, then signed a treaty that did just that.

Putin, defiant in the face of U.S. and European pressure, dispensed with legal deliberation and announced a swift annexation of Crimea, as if to put Europe’s most serious crisis in decades beyond the point where the results could be turned back.

Crimeans vote to join Russia: Residents of the Ukrainian peninsula turned out in large numbers for the referendum.

In a speech to a joint session of the Russian parliament, he compared the move to the independence declaration of Kosovo in 2008 and the reunification of Germany in 1990 — but, in reality, this is the first time that one European nation has seized territory from another since the end of World War II.

“Crimea is our common legacy,” Putin said. “It can only be Russian today.”

In Kiev, Ukrainian officials said they would never recognize or accept the loss of Crimea. Western leaders, including Vice President Biden during a visit to Poland and Lithuania, talked about further sanctions against Russia on top of those announced in the past two days. Russia is also facing expulsion from the Group of Eight leading industrial nations as relations between Moscow and the West reach their lowest level since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In Crimea, where celebrations were held to mark the Russian annexation, a Ukrainian lieutenant was fatally shot in an incident that immediately set nerves on edge.

Putin declared that Russia has no interest in expanding its hold within Ukraine. “Don’t believe those who say Russia will take other regions after Crimea. We don’t need that,” he said.

But Putin also said that Russia would always be ready to stand up for the rights of fellow Russians living in other countries. He mentioned, seemingly in passing, that Russians in eastern Ukraine, in the cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk, had been subject to the same sort of abuse at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists that he said had led him to act on Crimea.

Putin’s speech, nearly 50 minutes long, catalogued 20 years of Russian complaints about the West. He touched on the Soviet Union’s downfall, Kosovo, NATO expansion, missile defense, Libya, Iraq and Syria. He said the West has been backing Ukrainians responsible for “terror, murder and riots,” including neo-

Nazis, anti-Semites and Russophobes.

“Our Western partners have crossed a line,” Putin said. “We have every reason to think that the notorious policy of confining Russia, pursued in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today.”

He said the challenge presented to Russia by the Ukrainian crisis couldn’t be ducked.

“We have to admit one thing — Russia is an active participant in international affairs,” he said. “At these critical times, we see the maturity of nations, the strength of nations.”

One factor that forced Russia to act, he said, was the threat that Ukraine, under its new leaders, might join NATO — which would have left Russia’s Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea, in an untenable position.

 

Derision toward sanctions

Putin insisted that Russia is acting within international law. He complained that leaders in the West, led by the Americans, “believe they’ve been entrusted by God to decide the fate of other people.”

The sanctions already announced by the United States, the European Union and Canada were treated with derision by the members of the Russian parliament Tuesday. They passed a unanimous resolution calling on the West to include every member of the Russian legislature on the sanctions list.

The speaker of the upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, who is on the U.S. sanctions list, was defiant.

“These days we are feeling a huge amount of pressure — pressure from the so-called authorities in Kiev and pressure from the West,” she said as she met with Crimean leaders. “Threats, announcement of sanctions, banned entry — all this comes from the helplessness when there is no legal argument.”

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian armaments industry, said Moscow needs to take up the cause of ethnic Russians in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, which has been outside Moldova’s control since the early 1990s. Now that Moldova is moving to sign an agreement with the E.U., Rogozin said, it is time for Russia to act. Rogozin is one of 11 Russians and Ukrainians named on the U.S. sanctions list announced Monday.

Putin traced Russian roots in Crimea to the baptism there of Vladimir, who converted the Russian people to Christianity just over 1,000 years ago. Putin mentioned that the bones of Russian soldiers who fought the British and French in the 19th century, and of Soviet soldiers who fought the Germans in World War II, are buried all across the Crimean Peninsula.

“All these places are sacred to us,” he said. After noting that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev assigned Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, Putin argued that Russia by rights should have gotten back the peninsula in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved.

Russia was not “simply robbed, it was plundered,” he said.

He also touched on Russians’ roots in the Ukrainian heartland, in a way that many Ukrainians may not have found reassuring. “We sympathize with the people of Ukraine,” he said. “We’re one nation. Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities.”

He described today’s Kiev as a city where a legitimate protest was overtaken by those plotting a coup, backed by “foreign sponsors,” and where government ministers cannot act without getting permission “from the gunmen on the Maidan” — a reference to Independence Square, the heart of the protest movement that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. “We have no one to negotiate with,” Putin said.

Ecstatic Russian lawmakers watched as Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty of accession as soon as the Russian leader was done speaking, and the Kremlin said afterward that it considers the treaty to be in force though it awaits ratification by parliament.

The city of Sevastopol also entered the Russian Federation, as a separate entity — a status it traditionally enjoyed as an important military center.

 

Putin’s talk of betrayal

In the early evening, Putin addressed a large celebratory rally on Moscow’s Red Square. “After a difficult, long and exhausting journey, Crimea and Sevastopol have returned to Russia — to their home harbor, their home shores, their home port,” he said.

 

In Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk gave a nationally televised address Tuesday — pointedly using the Russian language — in which he seemed to recognize the limits of the situation. He pledged that Ukraine would not join NATO and sought to reassure ethnic Russians and the government in Moscow.

Putin’s words were freighted with a sense of betrayal, said Samuel Charap, a senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. Putin portrayed the United States and the West as using Ukraine and other countries as a battlefield on which they could prevail over Russia — and he got two standing ovations for doing so.

 

“I think it’s a trap we’ve gotten ourselves into about whether the sense of betrayal is rational or not,” Charap said. “The question is: Do they believe it or not? I think we underestimate the power of the grievance narrative by narrowly attributing it to a propaganda campaign or paranoid fantasies of a ruthless dictator. If this is what influences the decision-making climate, we have to deal with it.”

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Is anyone in Washington, D.C., listening to voters?

Just 18% of voters believe most members of Congress care what their constituents think. That helps explain why only 29% believe their local representative deserves reelection this November, a new low in surveying going back to November 2009.

One political analyst suggests adding 100 to 200 new members to the U.S. House of Representatives to lower the voter-to-member ratio. But just 17% favor that idea. Instead of being more responsive to voters, 77% think a bigger House would just be more inefficient and bureaucratic.

Meanwhile, President Obama is proposing $55 billion in new government spending and higher taxes in 2015 despite the fact that only 25% of voters think government spending increases help the economy and just 21% say the same of tax increases.

It doesn’t help that 69% believe middle-class Americans currently pay a larger share of their income in taxes than wealthy people do.

The president also has ordered the Labor Department to revise federal rules to allow more workers to qualify for overtime pay. Just 37% of voters believe increasing the number of people eligible for overtime pay will help the economy. Only 25% think it will help businesses.

At the same time, 53% expect the nation’s health care system to get worse under the new national health care law passed by Congress and signed by the president, a finding that has ranged from 48% to 61% in regular surveys since late 2012.

Republicans have taken a one-point lead on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot, but both parties earn less than 40% support, which indicates a high level of voter unhappiness with both camps.

Many voters express concern about the partisan battling in Washington, but a closer look at what America thinks about taxes and government spending makes it clearer why the political parties disagree so strongly.

Obama has been pushing for bigger government and more spending throughout his presidency, which may be one reason why his daily job approval rating has been in the negative teens for most of his time in office.

But 52% of voters now favor U.S. diplomatic action, including economic sanctions against Russia over the latter’s annexation of Crimea. That’s up from the high 30s earlier this month.

As tensions with Russia escalate, voters give the president his best marks in the national security area in several months. Forty-five percent (45%) now rate his handling of national security issues as good or excellent, while 36% still think he’s performing poorly in this area.

The GOP needs to pick up six seats in November to take control of the Senate. We took our first look at two more races this past week.

Republican Congressman Steve Daines is well ahead of interim Senator John Walsh and fellow Democrat John Bohlinger in the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Montana.

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown announced recently that he is exploring a possible challenge against incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, but Shaheen leads Brown 50% to 41% in the possible Senate race in the Granite State.

At week’s end, consumers continued to have a negative view of the economy, with just 21% who rated the economy as good or excellent and 38% who described it as poor. Investors were only slightly more confident.

Fifty-two percent (52%) of all Americans do not think the economy is fair to those who are willing to work hard.

Still, 36% of homeowners expect their home’s value to go up over the next year, the highest level of optimism since October. A year ago, only 30% expected their home to be worth more in the short term.

Twenty-four percent (24%), however, say the interest rates they are paying now are higher than last year at this time, the highest finding in nearly two years.

Most Americans remain concerned about inflation, with 84% who say they are paying more for groceries than they were a year ago. That’s the highest finding in over a year.

Just 51% of Americans are at least somewhat confident in the stability of the U.S. banking industry, with only 10% who are Very Confident.

In other surveys this week:

— Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

— With less than a month left until Tax Day, 51% of Americans have filed their income taxes, and nearly that many expect a refund.

The U.S. government announced recently that it is giving up its last bit of control over the Internet and turning it over to an international organization. But most voters think that’s a bad idea and expect countries like Russia and China to try to censor Internet content.

— Just six percent (6%) of Americans consider St. Patrick’s Day one of the nation’s most important holidays, and adults under 40 are much more likely to celebrate it than their elders.

— Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Americans say the arrival of spring puts them in a better mood.

 


 

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