March 10, 2018


05 MAR 2018 - 11:05



The Peshmerga forces of Iraqi Kurdistan are a complex and multi-faceted security organisation, their loyalty divided between the Iraqi state, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), different political parties and powerful individuals. At different times – and sometimes simultaneously – they can be characterised as national, regional, party and personal forces. This report explores the dynamics and consequences of these various roles in the broader political context of the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad.

For relations within the KRG, as well as between the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) and Baghdad, to develop as constructively and as peacefully as possible, it is important that international partners currently supporting the Peshmerga and/or the Iraqi Security Forces take three recommendations to heart:

Develop an integrated security sector reform (SSR) strategy that considers support for the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Security Forces in relation to each other. An integrated strategy should take account of the political consequences of strengthening the different forces and address the need for joint command structures and operational mechanisms;

 Ensure that such an integrated SSR strategy is embedded in a broader political strategy for re-including Iraq’s Kurds in the Iraqi polity on favourable, inclusive and reconciliatory terms. This requires, above all, finding a satisfactory solution to the 'disputed areas' after the 2018 Iraqi elections;

 Consider the need for reform and reconciliation within the Kurdistan region to prevent further intra-Kurdish con´Čéict. International actors should use their leverage over the KRG to push for greater transparency, political neutrality and more democratic control over the Peshmerga forces, especially during the upcoming elections.

March 05, 2018

India Reaches the Top Spot for Economic Growth Again

Source: Aman Thakkar, Newsletter

India Reaches the Top Spot for Economic Growth Again

GDP figures released this past week show that India grew at an annual rate of 7.2% in the last quarter of 2017, narrowly beating China’s 6.8% growth to regain its spot as the fastest growing economy in the world. The news arguably reverses the recent slowdown in Indian economic growth, which analysts argue occurred as a result of the Goods and Services tax reforms and the demonetization decision. The uptick in growth also comes at an opportune time for Prime Minister Modi, who will likely tout the growth as campaigning for the 2019 General Election heats up in coming months.

Bigger Picture: Rising economic growth is something all governments tout as an achievement, as they should. But for India, it is important to look beyond the numbers to see if economic growth is translating into development for India’s poorest. One in five Indians continues to live in the most abject, gut-wrenching poverty anyone could imagine, and the jury is still out whether rapid economic growth (and any government measures to generate such growth) are actually enhancing the lives of these poorest individuals.

A Saffron Wave in India’s Northeast

This weekend saw results roll in for state assembly elections from three Northeastern states in India: Tripura, Nagaland, and Meghalaya. The results provided nothing but good news for the BJP, which has historically never been competitive in this region. Let’s take a look at the news from each state at a time.

Tripura: The BJP won a huge victory in this state, earning a decisive majority and dislodging the Community Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M), which had been power in the state for 25 years under the leadership of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who wasfamously known as the “poorest Chief Minister in India” and had a Mr. Clean reputation. Hindustan Times journalist Prashant Jha alsopointed out how far the BJP has come in this state, noting the contrast between the majority and its results in “the previous state elections in 2013...[where] the BJP secured just 1.5% of the vote.”

Nagaland: The BJP “emerged as both the king and the kingmaker” in Nagaland, where no single party won a majority. In addition to its own impressive performance in the state, the BJP is now beingcourted by, both, its local ally, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), and the local opposition, the Naga People’s Front (NPF). Whoever forms the government in the state, the BJP is clearly going to be the winner.

Meghalaya: While on the surface, the BJP may not have looked like the winner in the state, it was, indeed, victorious in Meghalaya as well. While the Indian National Congress won the most number of seats, it did not win a majority, and the BJP beat the Congress to announce an alliance with local parties on Sunday.Book Recommendation: I have been reading “How the BJP Wins: Inside India’s Greatest Election Machine” byPrashant Jha, who was recently named Political Editor/Chief of Bureau. The book is incredibly insightful, detailing into the BJP’s political machinery, strategy, and operations, and I’d highly recommend the book to those interested in learning more in light of these election results.

After India Trip, Justin Trudeau’s Nightmare Rages On

Despite leaving India on Feb. 25th, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gaffes on his trip continued to haunt him. Last week’s Indialoguecovered how Canadian diplomats had to rush to revoke a party invitation for Jaspal Atwal, a Canada-based Sikh separatist who convicted of attempting to kill an Indian Cabinet minister. However, after Trudeau returned to Canada last week, a Canadian official, later revealed to be Canada’s national security advisor, Daniel Jean, toldCanadian sources in a background briefing that certain factions within the Indian government were behind the move to invite Atwal to the Canadian high commissioner's reception in Delhi.Jaspal Atwal with then-Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at a South Asian Media Roundtable press conference  in May 2015.

When asked about the statement by the opposition in the Canadian Parliament, Trudeau said "Our professional, non-partisan public service does high quality work and when one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it's because they know it to be true.” India, meanwhile, called the allegation “baseless and unacceptable.” Atwal, the man at the center of all this, further complicated matters by sayinghe was friend with Trudeau and “withdrew himself to avoid embarrassing the PM.” Trudeau has denied that they are friends. He also went on to contradict Trudeau, saying the Government of India had “nothing to do with anything” in his latest visit to India. Well, with friends like these...

Why This Matters?: This is truly a ridiculous scandal, but it does highlight important concerns for the bilateral ties. The Khalistan movement, which calls for a separate Sikh state to be carved out of India, is a significant concern for the Indian government. A Canadian administration that is seen to be in support of such a movement would lead to worsening ties between the two countries, both of whom have expressed a desire to expand their trade relationship currently totalling $8 billion, as well as make progress on a long-pending free trade agreement that has been stalled.

Broken Procurement Process is Broken...

Reports emerged last week about a presentation made by Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, to the Prime Minister’s Office, where he admits that India’s defence procurement process is broken and stymied by huge delays. Bhamre reportedly said that, despite FDI liberalization and the launch of the Make in India initiative, India’s acquisition process continues to “languish at the altar of procedural delays and has failed to demonstrate its true potential.” In particular, the report pointed out how procedural delays led toan average processing time of 120 weeks to clear files after a tender or RFP (request for proposal) is finalized, with the worst cases taking almost eight years before progress is made. The report also pointed out the need for greater synergy between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as the need to break out of a siloed nature of working within the Ministry of Defence.

Union Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre

Insight: Prime Minister Modi has laid outa goal to modernize India’s military while also boosting domestic military production. Over and above the fact that sometimes these two goals come into conflict, a broken procurement process hurts both ambitions at a time when progress is becoming increasingly critical for India.

...But It’s Not All Bad News on Defence

Despite the report from Minister of State Subhash Bhamre, there was some good news this week. India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, successfully conducted a hot refueling trial. Hot refueling, according to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the manufacturer of the aircraft, “is a process by which a fighter aircraft is refueled (in between sorties) while its engine is in operation... This capability is highly desired in combat situation which basically puts aside the need for the pilot to park the aircraft, power down and exit the cockpit for refueling to begin.” The successful trial also puts the Tejas closer to operational clearance after a delay by multiple years.

A Brief Self-Promotional Interlude

Last week, The Diplomat published an article I wrote. In it, I analyze President Macron’s trip to China this past year, and make the case for an upcoming balancing act when he heads to India later this month. I also consider whether he will speak for the EU as he attempts such a balancing act. Read the article here.

Stories you might enjoy:

As Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang visited India late last week, Abhijit Singh writes “India must quickly come to terms with the fact that Vietnam’s concerns on the looming security crisis in the South China Sea will lead Hanoi to search for new partners. India has no option but to fortify its relationship with this key Southeast Asia state.”

Samir Saran notes that “The competition over values, norms, ethics and influence, both within Asia and around the world, will continue to exacerbate tensions between India and China.”

Arun Sukumar analyzes the consequences of the recent announcement that “the soon-to-be launched payments system from WhatsApp would integrate the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).”

Catherine Putz interviews Alyssa Ayres, who says “Indian leaders want to see their country counted as one among the world’s powers in a multipolar world. This ambition in fact is not new, as I chart in the book. But India is now closer to attaining that ambition than at any time in the past.”

Harsh V. Pant argues “India’s talk of an “Act East” policy or an Indian Ocean presence sound hollow when its ability to shape outcomes in its own neighbourhood is so palpably limited.”

Estimating the Global Cost of Cyber Risk Calculator

Estimating the Global Cost of Cyber Risk Calculator

by Paul Dreyer

Related Topics:Cyber Warfare,Cybercrime,Macroeconomics,Modeling and SimulationCitationView related products


Global Cost of Cyber Risk Calculator

FormatFile Size Noteszip file1.7 MB

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There is marked variability from study to study in the estimated direct and systemic costs of cyber incidents, which is further complicated by the considerable variation in cyber risk in different countries and industry sectors. This Excel-based modeling and simulation tool estimates present and future global costs of cyber attacks and incidents. Users can also alter assumptions to investigate a wide variety of research questions. Specifically, this tool (1) identifies the value at risk by country and industry sector; (2) computes direct costs by considering multiple financial exposures for each industry sector and the fraction of each exposure that is potentially at risk to cyber incidents; and (3) computes the systemic costs of cyber risk between industry sectors using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development input, output, and value-added data across sectors in more than 60 countries

March 04, 2018

Unabated aggression continues in Balochistan; Several abducted in month

February: Dil Murad Baloch

(Sangar News)

Baloch National Movement's Central Information Secretary Dil Murad Baloch disclosed the report of February 2018. While briefing on report, Dil Murad Baloch said Pakistani forces carried out 70 operations and raids in occupied Balochistan, in the month of February. During these operations and military raids 173 persons were forcibly abducted. He added, in this regard Pakistani forces themselves confirmed the abduction of 20 persons on 11th February and 11 persons on 24th February those were arrested as suspects, but none of them were produced either before the court or media.

He said that media as usual is playing the role of second pandal of state; despite the confirmation of picking up these 31 persons on two different occasions by security establishment, media is  trying to strangulate the truth. Local and international media houses did not bother to question the well beings of those abductions which law enforcement officials themselves confirmed. He added, media without wavering from its old norms kept promoting state sponsored narratives.

Dil Murad Baloch reported the death of 14 persons, in which 6 were directly killed by security forces in different operations in the month of February. Among the dead one is Fatima Baloch who suffered severe wound in previous year of aerial bombardment; whereas reason of other 8 persons are not reported.  Information Secretary informed, during operations Pakistani forces looted 80 houses, and 20 houses were burnt to ashes.

He further added, the Military personnel also looted herds, camels and donkey during operations. He also asserted that 3 houses and 4 schools were converted to military check posts; however overall 25 new check posts were established in the same month. Whereas 41 persons were released from torture cells who were abducted by intelligence agencies on various occasions.

While speaking on growing trend of religious fanaticism backed by Pakistani forces he said Lashkar-i-Kurassan and Pakistani military destroyed a Zikrana (worship place of Zikri community) in Shadikor. He also alarmed international community about shaping of such ugly religious terrorism backed by Pakistan in occupied Balochistan.

Dil Murad Baloch explained that Pakistan will continue its military operations and may relentlessly increase in the genocide of the Baloch people, if United Nations and other world bodies refrain from intervening in worsening situation of Balochistan. Pakistan is trying to crush Baloch issue unilaterally through use of military power and exacerbating its barbarities.

He reverberated that the existence of a nation and its geographic reality can't be destroyed by military aggression and barbarity and genocide. Central Information Secretary argued that history confirms the fact that a conflict between two nations would never be sort out with unilateral aggression and use of power. Sooner or later Pakistan has to accept Baloch nation as a negotiating party.  Dil Murad reiterated that a dream of peaceful continent of Asia would evaporate into smokes and the blood of innocent Baloch people would be spelled till Pakistan would not consider Balochistan as an occupied land and Baloch nation as a party.

While discussing about involvement of China in Balochistan, he said that the role of China is increasing in the mass murder of the Baloch people. China is an equal partner of Pakistan in war crimes committed in Balochistan. China along with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and other exploitive projects to their completion, is aiding Pakistan in genocide of Baloch people which would be destructive and an alarming situation for entire region. He further said, however, Baloch nation solely dueling these evil designs of China and Pakistan. Whereas, Pakistan is violating all international laws; worst of all, the responsible organizations are silent on brazen violation of International laws by Pakistan.

The information secretary stated that there is multifold increase in cruelties and barbarities of Pakistan in different parts of Occupied Balochistan through military operations. Most of the areas of Balochistan: Bolan, Mustang, Kalat, Sibi, Shoran, Khuzdar, Gresha, Jahoo, Mashkay, Kholwa Awaran, Gichk, Gwadar, Pasni, Turbat, Mand, Dasth, Porom, Panjgur, Bulida, Kohlu, Dera Bugti and majority of the areas undergoing military operations. Pakistani forces and intelligence agencies are involved in the abduction of Baloch political and social activists, women and children, and their extrajudicial killings and burning of the houses. These brazen aggression of Pakistan Army and other security forces are reflection of its frustration and the ultimate defeat. He stressed Pakistan wouldn't forget the ultimate success of oppressed nation in a lasting tug of war between oppressed and the oppressor.

Interwar Airpower, Grand Strategy, and Military Innovation: Germany vs. Great Britain

Michael Trimble 

 February 28, 2018

In discerning operational requirements, the conceptual difficulties of military science occur. If there is not rigorous thinking at this level, neither technology nor money can help.

                                                                                                            —Sir Michael Howard

Today’s senior defense leaders can’t get enough innovation. The United States National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the U.S. military service strategies all stress the capacity for innovation as an American comparative advantage. Clearly, there is great demand for military professionals who can innovate. But what does innovation look like in a peacetime or interwar military? How is it done?


In his book Winning the Next War, Stephen Peter Rosen offers an answer: innovators in a peacetime military must formulate “a new theory of victory, an explanation of what the next war will look like.”[1] To innovate for an uncertain future, political leaders and military strategists must prioritize threats, then formulate sets of options vis-à-vis the most significant threats. Because war must always be thought of as an instrument of policy, military innovation must be guided by a coherent strategy or at least a sense of what is politically desirable and feasible.[2] With an understanding of acceptable options, government and military professionals can work with industry and academia to define requirements and pursue relevant technology. Analyzing the development of the German and British air forces between the world wars reveals the importance of crafting strategy, identifying associated requirements, and marshaling the required resources to turn requirements into capabilities.

Factors beyond the state’s control often drive technological requirements. Structural factors demanding innovative responses include the technological progress of potential enemies and of civil society, as well as shifts in the state’s own geopolitical circumstances. Yet the task of responding to these structural factors—of translating the state’s desired security ends into military technological means—requires an intentional, collaborative, human effort.


Successful strategy is not simply handed down from on high; likewise, military innovation does not emerge from some laboratory in finished, war-ready form. The cases of interwar Germany and Great Britain feature individuals and teams with different political aims, military proclivities, and technological interests shaping strategy and innovation through a process of debate, bargaining, and experimentation.[3] Strategic innovators must engage in this messy, interdisciplinary process if they hope to develop and integrate new military technology.

The development of specific airpower capabilities in Germany and Britain during the interwar years illustrates this role of strategic innovators as “system builders” and doctrine entrepreneurs who brave the gauntlets of government bureaucracy, industry, and academia to turn theory into capabilities.[4] System builders in both nations prioritized requirements for airpower, steering technology in the directions their strategies demanded. The aircraft of the age serve as “crystallized moments of past human vision,” artifacts of the strategies that produced them.[5] Contrasting these two air forces will illustrate how the grand strategies of the two states shaped military innovation during the interwar years.


Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries was a growing land power surrounded by potential adversaries. These structural factors presented an enduring requirement to generations of Prussian and German strategists: the need to quickly seize territory, thereby securing a flank (or at least room to maneuver) at the outset of a conflict. The Germans responded by developing doctrine and capabilities to seek and win decisive land battles through mission command, maneuver, and concentration.[6] This continuity in German strategic thinking can be traced from Clausewitz to Helmuth von Moltke (the Elder) in the 19th century, to Alfred von Schlieffen and his infamous mobilization plan, to Reichswehr chief of staff Hans von Seeckt in the interwar period. Therefore, a new means of rapid army advance held great appeal to military-minded Germans in the 1920s and 1930s, especially after the stagnant slaughter of World War I. So, to understand the Luftwaffe, one must study the German Army.


The German Army experienced a revolution in military affairs during the interwar period, as the Prusso-German strategic culture converged with army officer Heinz Guderian’s operational innovations and Adolf Hitler’s expansionist aims. A motivated infantry and communications officer transplanted into the Motorized Transport Corps, Guderian sought out the latest writings from Britain, where theorists J.F.C. Fuller and B.H. Liddell Hart had spurred investment in mechanized warfare.[7] Guderian became a system builder, developing and popularizing armored operations in the 1920s and early 1930s as Germany began secretly building new tanks. Despite organizational resistance from the army itself, Guderian and a like-minded minority of officers built an innovative, yet distinctly Prussian armor doctrine that would become central to the Wehrmacht way of fighting in World War II.

Meanwhile, as Hitler rose to power in the early 1930s, he perceived France, Poland, and the Soviet Union as Germany’s primary strategic threats.[8] France was the most militarily powerful state in Europe from the end of World War I until Germany’s resurgence under Hitler and maintained a heavy presence on the French-German border.[9] On the other hand, Hitler conflated neighboring Poland and Slavic Russia with the imagined worldwide Jewish conspiracy central to his “long-established and unchanging ideological convictions.”[10]Nazi Germany was bound to invade Poland and the Soviet Union at some point.

To summarize, interwar Germany continued a strategic culture based on seeking the decisive battle, and Hitler had little trouble picking out enemies. With these continental adversaries in mind, Hitler enthusiastically supported Guderian and the emerging combined-arms doctrine journalists and others would later term “Blitzkrieg.” By 1940, the German Army could base its offensive against France on a main effort using 10 Panzer divisions, led by Guderian, and supported by an innovative new brand of airpower.[11]

How had this German airpower developed? The 1919 Treaty of Versailles forbade rearmament, limited the German Army to 100,000 soldiers, and dissolved their air force.[12] Given this imposed force posture, yet cognizant of the growing value of military aviation, Hans von Seeckt took several measures to secretly develop the nucleus of the future Luftwaffe. He championed the rapid growth of German civil aviation.[13]He also hid a core group of aviation officers in his army general staff, some of whom set up a secret military flying training program in Russia during a temporary thaw in German-Russian relations in the late 1920s.[14] The army von Seeckt rebuilt was “the most air-minded of the major armies” at the time—despite Germany’s ostensible lack of an air force.[15] These factors set the stage for the Luftwaffe’s rapid development in the 1930s.

The primary requirement for airpower in Germany’s new combined-arms scheme was to strike critical targets just ahead of the army’s advance. Though the nascent Luftwaffe had espoused some strategic bombing rhetoric, Wolfram von Richthofen (cousin to Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron of World War I fame), emerged in the late 1930s as a successful doctrine entrepreneur for combined arms, air interdiction, and an early version of close air support. Leading the famed Condor Legion in support of General Francisco Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Richthofen consistently disrupted the opposition’s rear-area communications and logistics using Luftwaffe dive-bombers. On the other hand, level-bombing against more distant targets provided fewer benefits, if any, to Franco’s campaign.[16]

Condor Legion Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers over Spain, May 30, 1939. (World War II Database)

With the Condor Legion experience in mind, Richthofen continued to advocate for tactical airpower upon his return to Germany, leading a buildup of attack squadrons.[17] The menacing Ju-87 Stuka dive-bomber would become the avatar of German interwar airpower innovation. This darling of the Luftwaffe leadership sported dive brakes to enhance its controllability and accuracy during the attack, and an outboard air-driven siren for increased psychological effect.[18]The innovative Stuka devastated critical targets ahead of German mechanized advances into Poland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and France in 1939 and 1940.

German Bf 109 fighters in flight, circa late 1944. (German Federal Archive/World War II Database)

Of course, the Luftwaffe boasted more than just Stukas, and other technological aspects of the force further emphasize its continental character. The Luftwaffe’s primary fighter was the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The Bf 109 was well-armed, fast, and maneuverable, but its limitations are telling.[19] Designed for localized air superiority and sweeps ahead of advancing ground forces, the Bf 109’s limited fuel capacity would become a significant issue during cross-Channel raids against Britain.[20] This design feature indicates a breakdown in civil-military dialogue—a mismatch between Luftwaffe requirements for localized superiority, and Hitler’s limitless appetite for conquest.

German He 111 bomber over Surrey Docks, London, England, UK at 1700 hours on September 7, 1940 (World War II Database)

Beyond the Stuka and the 109, the Nazis produced a number of serviceable two-engine bomber types. The Luftwaffe also commissioned a few four-engine strategic bomber prototypes, but production was problematic and expensive. As Reich Aviation Minister and overseer of German rearmament in the late 1930s, Hermann Goering chose to build greater quantities of medium bombers instead.[21] He and the other managers of the Nazi command economy set up their aircraft industry to produce large numbers of small aircraft, quickly—perfect for a short, decisive, continental war.[22]


Professor Barry Posen suggests the Luftwaffe never seriously prepared for a strategic air campaign against Britain.[23] This kind of mission was alien to the Luftwaffe’s nature. The German military’s combined-arms scheme made it the preeminent land force in the world at the time; it quickly conquered large swaths of Europe. Nevertheless, the Luftwaffe could not keep pace with Hitler’s unlimited political aims; it seems Hitler and his military leadership had failed to establish a shared understanding of “the kind of war on which they were embarking.”[24] The German theory of victory and its technology were innovative, but military innovation must align with a state’s grand strategy. If a state intends to be an aggressor, identifying threats and requirements becomes simpler, and the state should be able to perfect its technology for the campaign. What becomes more difficult in such a case, however, are the challenges of keeping strategic aims realistic, as well as planning for sustainment and potential contingencies.


The case of Great Britain further illuminates strategy’s role in interwar airpower innovation. Especially in democratic governments, political and military leaders shape defense policy and acquisitions through dialogue and bargaining.[25] Though this process is often messy and contentious, it also helps keep military means aligned with political ends.

Air Marshal Hugh Trenchard, Britain’s Chief of the Air Staff from 1919 to 1930, strove to develop the Royal Air Force (RAF) for strategic bombing. Like many at the time, Trenchard believed the combined destructive and psychological effects of strategic bombing would cripple an enemy’s industry and logistics while causing social upheaval.[26] In his zeal for building a bomber force, Trenchard advocated against purchasing pursuit aircraft, even after his retirement in 1930. But the RAF airmen who followed in the mid-1930s, chiefly Air Marshal Hugh Dowding, along with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Minister for the Coordination of Defence Thomas Inskip, and Chamberlain’s eventual successor—a hawkish Member of Parliament named Winston Churchill—all recognized the need for more advanced fighters to defend the island nation against a resurgent Germany.


Churchill had fallen out of the British political mainstream by the early 1930s, due in part to his frequent calls for robust national defense and his blunt pronouncements regarding the German threat—unpopular positions in a society still recovering from World War I. Yet, Churchill would be vindicated as Germany rearmed and Hitler’s belligerence became clear.[27] In particular, “the marriage of airpower to overall German technical, industrial, and military capabilities created a British vulnerability to direct attack of an order that had not been perceived for several hundred years.”[28] In response to this threat, Britain’s own rearmament programs gained political favor and resources, attracting some of the best minds from government, industry, and academia.

Chain Home: WAAF radar operator Denise Miley plotting aircraft on the cathode ray tube of an RF7 Receiver in the Receiver Room at Bawdsey CH. (Wikimedia Commons)

Inskip, a career bureaucrat, was entrusted with allocating funds for national defense beginning in March 1936, and he decided to purchase even more fighters than the RAF itself had requested. Inskip’s stated intent was to ensure Britain could “repulse a knock-out blow within the first few weeks, trusting thereafter to defeat the enemy by a process of exhaustion, resulting from our command at sea.”[29] Cost-benefit analyses also supported Inskip’s choice: fighters were cheaper and easier to produce than bombers. Britain’s industry, combined with substantial Lend-Lease war materiel from the United States, could sustain and replace fighter fleets through a long war if Britain could survive Germany’s initial assault.[30]

Air Marshal Dowding’s new Fighter Command raised its flag in July 1936. Dowding was a system-builder, a longtime advocate of fighter aviation in the bomber-dominated RAF. After standing up Fighter Command, Dowding wasted no time in building up a complex, resilient network of observers and command-and-control nodes that could vector his fighters to intercept enemy aircraft. Yet, we might never have heard of the Dowding System were it not for British civilians’ development of a new technology that revolutionized air defense.

A government-funded research team led by scientist Robert Watson-Watt developed the vital new radio direction-finding technology (later, radar, for radio detection and ranging), which Dowding would integrate into the air defense system over the next few years.[31]Watson-Watt’s work was underwritten by Henry Tizard, president and rector of Imperial College London, who headed a government committee directing air defense research.[32] Radar represents the synergy that is possible when government, academia, and industry align to find defense solutions.

A Royal Air Force Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC (BD867 'QO-Y') of No 3 Squadron RAF based at Hunsdon, Hertfordshire (UK), in flight. (Wikimedia Commons)

Of course, an effective air defense network must not only detect inbound attackers but intercept them. To this end, the RAF’s market of defense suppliers fashioned numerous fighter types, two of which would become the icons of the Battle of Britain. Sydney Camm and the engineers at Hawker produced the rugged Hurricane, an evolution of earlier fighters. The Hurricane’s simple design made it easy to mass-produce, operate, maintain, and rearm in a hurry.[33] Meanwhile, Supermarine’s chief designer Reginald Mitchell created a revolutionary, highly-effective, and by all accounts glamorous fighter in the elliptical-winged Spitfire. A match for any fighter produced in the interwar period, the Spitfire’s design was “so brilliant and so advanced” that “it was the only Allied aircraft to be in the front line when the war began and on the day it ended,” having defeated many a Messerschmitt in the interval.[34]


So, despite its strategic bombing origins, the RAF claimed its place in history as a defensive force in the Battle of Britain. A strategy for survival, dependent upon airpower, aligned the efforts of Britain’s government, military, and industry. Directed by the innovative Dowding System, pilots of the iconic Spitfire and her working-class cousin, the Hurricane, denied the Luftwaffe air superiority over the English Channel, making a German invasion untenable.


Interwar Germany and Britain prioritized different security requirements, and therefore developed different air power capabilities, with varying degrees of success. Germany developed a world-class air-ground team, whose aircraft and aviators supported their army’s advance to the very Western edge of the continent. Beyond that edge, Hitler found the Luftwaffe lacking. Or more fairly, Hitler’s grandiose strategic aims overshot the Luftwaffe’s physical limitations. On the other side of the Channel, the British created two legendary fighter aircraft and a system whose design remains foundational to air defense systems today. Even with such marvels to rely upon, defending Britain cost the RAF dearly, requiring great bravery and sacrifice.


Do these historical cases provide any relevant lessons to the contemporary strategist? If this article has emphasized one idea, it is the Clausewitzian imperative for political and military leaders together to prioritize defense requirements in terms of the state’s grand strategy. This can be a herculean task; having military professionals who can articulate a clear, forward-looking vision helps. If statesmen and soldiers together can discern future operational requirements, a military force stands a reasonable chance of marshaling the state’s brain power and resources to innovate defense solutions.

Motivated military personnel have historically played central roles in driving defense innovations forward.[35] Guderian, Richthofen, and Dowding provide three examples from the interwar period, and military officers must continue to serve as “system builders” today. It is not the system builder’s role to invent the next game-changing weapon, nor does one have to be a visionary to be an innovator. Richthofen did not invent the Stuka, nor did its utility appear to him in a dream. He put the new aircraft to the test, and it proved to be the answer to operational requirements. Dowding did not invent the radar; he recognized its potential and led the effort to integrate it into Britain’s air defenses. Today, just as in the interwar era, military professionals must discuss operational challenges with government, industry, and academia, recognize good ideas when they see them, and figure out how to integrate new capabilities.[36]

Opportunities abound for these discussions and partnerships, from traditional military research, training, and education venues, to newer constructs including DIUx, the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, and defense-focused new media. For a less structured setting, the author recommends any pub that pours a proper stout—let the bar-napkin diagrams fly. Whatever the medium, strategists, soldiers, and civilians must prioritize national security threats and soberly identify military challenges, in order to develop relevant innovations.

Posen found that in the battles of 1940 in Western Europe, “Each battle was won by the side that had prepared for it.”[37] This advantage is not reserved for the aggressor. Britain managed to innovate crucial new tools—the Dowding System and the fighters that gave it teeth—despite its myriad international concerns and its limited appetite for armed conflict. A state does not have to desire war to effectively formulate requirements, marshal resources, and attract the necessary talent to turn new theories of victory into capabilitiesthat can deliver it.

Michael Trimble is a U.S. Air Force officer and a student at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect official policies or positions of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government

Reviewing Churchill's Secret War with Lenin

#Reviewing Churchill's Secret War with Lenin

Timothy Heck 

 February 26, 2018

Churchill’s Secret War with Lenin: British and Commonwealth Military Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1918-1920. Damien Wright. Solihull, UK: Helion & Company, 2017.

Recent discourse about Russian-Western interaction over internal disputes has focused on Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014. One hundred years ago, the opposite was the case. From 1918-1920, British, Commonwealth, French, Japanese, and American troops all fought and died in the Russian Civil War. Damien Wright’s Churchill’s Secret War with Lenin: British and Commonwealth Military Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1918-1920, focuses on the United Kingdom’s role in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution.[1] Wright’s lively writing and mastery of primary and secondary sources, along with a wealth of period photographs from the Imperial War Museum and private collections, result in an eminently readable account of “one of the most ill-conceived and poorly planned campaigns of the twentieth century.”[2]Modern readers will readily find parallels to current Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.



The October Revolution, its impact on World War I, and the Russian Civil War are well covered elsewhere. Classic texts like Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution and John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, as well as recent works like Sean McMeekin’s The Russian Revolution: A New History and Laura Engelstein’s Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921, all cover the nuances of Russian political and economic life, the aims and ideology of the Bolsheviks, and the immediate chaos of post-Tsarist Russia.[3] Thousands of British and Commonwealth troops fought across Russian territory with a variety of shifting goals, allies, and ambiguous political objectives at a time when many more of their countrymen were fighting on the Western Front and in Italy.

The positions of the Allied expeditionary forces and of the White Armies in European Russia, 1919. (Wikimedia Commons)

While largely a sideshow at the time, intervention in the Russian Civil War holds a variety of parallels and warnings for modern strategists, tacticians, and politicians. Contemporary readers will see analogous situations in Civil War Russia to American involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan. Issues with combined warfighting, interaction with civilian populations, and locally raised forces all have echoes today. Though not intended to be read as an allegory for modern interventions, Churchill’s Secret War with Lenin ably serves as a reminder that the problems of foreign intervention in civil wars are neither new nor unpredictable. Across the theaters of the conflict including Northern Russia, the Baltic, Siberia, Southern Russia and the Crimea, and the Caucasus, British and Commonwealth troops were beset by a variety of problems and, in many ways, were waging different small wars in each place.

Contemporary coverage of the British and Commonwealth intervention was muzzled or overlooked in favor of coverage of the Western Front. Following the intervention, the actions and consequences were swept under the rug as “the British government attempted to cover up its military involvement in Russia…by classifying official documents relating to the campaign under the ’50 year rule.’”[4] This enforced silence, which was assisted by a war-weariness after the Armistice in November 1918, kept the Russian Civil War largely out of official histories and academic works. Slowly the curtain is being lifted on the failed intervention. Colonel John M. House’s Wolfhounds and Polar Bears: The American Expeditionary Force in Siberia, 1918-1920, and Benjamin Isitt’s From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada’s Siberian Expedition, 1917-19, are two recent examples of scholarship documenting Allied efforts in the Russian Civil War.

Captured British Mark V tank in Arkhangelsk. (Wikimedia Commons)

Combined operations with Allied forces struggled from the outset. In Murmansk, for example, the British were invited to land by the Bolsheviks themselves who believed peace with Germany had broken down. Later, these same troops were involved in combat against those same Bolsheviks, as well as Finnish forces, and German advisors at varying times. In Crimea, “the British were concerned that the French might gain too much influence on [White General Anton] Denikin and were keen to start delivery of supplies through Novorossiysk as soon as possible.”[5]American forces in Northern Russia had different mandates and objectives than their Commonwealth counterparts, initially making integration for combined warfighting difficult.


The Middlesex Regiment in Archangel. (Army Tigers)

Common across many of the campaigns, however, were the difficulties of dealing with civilian populations. The occupation of Archangel devolved relatively quickly as the British struggled to maintain order after dissolving the existing government and instituting martial law. Akin to the American situation in Baghdad nearly 90 years later, there was no clear plan to restore civil authority after removing the Bolsheviks.[6]As a result of poor or nonexistent pre-invasion planning, the British armed forces were left to run the city without civil support. Currency issued by the British occupiers in northern Russia was considered worthless by the locals, stalling economic recovery. In many areas, local populations were unwilling to take sides, unsure of who would eventually triumph between White and Red forces. For those who had supported the Commonwealth troops, “as the date of final evacuation quickly approached, the feeling among the local population and White Russian forces became increasingly anti-British. With some justification they felt abandoned and betrayed.”[7]

Interactions with the White forces also left much to be desired. In Southern Russia, British troops found supplies provided to the Russians for sale in local markets while White troops lacked basic uniform items. When pressed about this malfeasance, White officers claimed that most Russian soldiers were unaccustomed to having more than one tunic or a pair of pants in the first place. In Sarapaul, Siberia, the Red Army dug in their field artillery virtually within sight of the White Army HQ, and launched a surprise attack, “indictment on the White command….[and its] complete lack of military intelligence and situational awareness so crucial to a battlefield commander.”[8]Outright betrayals of British units, defections, and mutinies were not uncommon either, increasing the tensions between Commonwealth forces and the Whites. Distrust was common, further exacerbating efforts to work towards common purposes. In combat, green on blue incidents also occurred, echoing recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On 1 June 1918, Felix Cole, the American Consul in Archangel, wrote Ambassador David R. Francis:

Intervention will begin on a small scale, but with each step forward will grow in scope and its demands for ships, men, money and material... Intervention in the north of Russia will mean that we must feed the entire north of Russia…Every foreign invasion that has gone deep into Russia has been swallowed up...If we intervene, going farther into Russia as we succeed, we shall be swallowed up.[9]

Though an American warning, Cole accurately sums up the intervention and its costs for the Allies across all fronts in the Russian Civil War.[10] Poorly planned, inadequately resourced, and with an ambiguous endstate, the British and Commonwealth effort in Russia’s Civil War started small and ended largely in failure as more and more resources were pushed into the conflict without a decisive result. Indeed, everywhere but the Baltics, where the goal of preventing a German or Bolshevik occupation of the new republics was accomplished, the British failed to meet their ambiguous and shifting strategic objectives.

Overall, Churchill’s Secret War with Lenin is well-written and a balanced account of both the successes, often at the tactical level only, and the failures of the British intervention. Two minor critiques can be leveled against the book. First, the title is somewhat misleading. Winston Churchill, one of the towering figures of the 20th century, makes only a cursory and tangential appearance in the story despite his role as the Secretary of State for War starting in 1919. Readers looking for a study on Churchill or British politics will need to look elsewhere. Second, interactions with allies, especially at the operational level, could have been expanded to better inform readers of the planning process, constraints, and restraints the combatants experienced during the intervention. The Americans, Canadians, and French all appear in the narrative but the complications they pose to British and Commonwealth forces and leadership could be better explained though this expansion might have diluted the book’s focus.

Modern readers will find parallels and similarities between the intervention of a century ago and those more recent. Churchill’s Secret War with Lenin engagingly illuminates the history of a small war that served as both part of the Great War and the dawn of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West. Wright masterfully presents the history of a failed campaign in compelling human and strategic terms through his use of primary sources, synthesis of other works, and his own analysis. Strategists, planners, and tacticians will all take something away from the work.

Timothy Heck is a reserve Marine Corps officer. The views expressed are the author's and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government