ASPI suggests

Headlining today’s round-up is a CTC Sentinel post by Andrew Zammit on new developments in Australian foreign fighter activity. Among the key changes, he notes that since November 2013 Australian fighters have preferred to fight with ISIS rather than with Jabat al-Nusra or other Free Syrian Army groups, and that Australian jihadists are now playing leadership roles. He also outlines changes in the domestic threat situation and state responses.

Over at The Bridge, Brandee Leon sheds more light on women and the Islamic State. While many women in the captured territory have been kidnapped and then married off, given as rewards or raped, she notes not all are victims: at least two female brigades in the Islamic State enforce sharia law and reports say over 50 British women have joined them.

Missed ANU’s Indonesia Update? New Mandala has uploaded ten YouTube videos of the conference, with our pick being session 8 with IPAC’s Sidney Jones discussing security developments in the country.

Turning now to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s five-day visit to the US. Meeting with many US political figures including aspiring presidential candidates, business and community leaders and delivering no less than seven speeches, the German Marshall Fund’s Dhruva Jaishankar says Modi’s visit has set the stage for a reset of US–India ties. On developments, he noted:

The most eye-catching related to counterterrorism, with specific commitment by India and the US to a joint effort to disrupt and dismantle terrorist and criminal networks such as al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis. This goes well beyond what the US has been publicly willing to commit to in the past.

Keep reading about Modi’s gains with US relations here.

Sticking with the subcontinent, David Brewster says that despite the burgeoning bromance between Japan and India, Japan might not be such an easy pushover on a nuclear deal. His East Asia Forum piece explains the ups and downs in bilateral relations due to political, institutional and cultural obstacles, particularly where nuclear-issues are concerned.

For an American perspective on army engagement in the Asia-Pacific, check out this speech by Commanding General of the US Army Pacific General Vincent Brooks (PDF) delivered at the Chief of Army’s exercise last week. In the speech, he emphasised that regional engagement makes it possible for armies to know the territory better, helps consolidate gains made in responding to crises, drives the US military to be present where it matters most, makes it possible to know about each other’s’ capabilities, and counters US isolationism. (Thanks to USARPAC for making this speech available to The Strategist.)

Lastly, for something quirkier, here’s a War on The Rocks piece by Adam Elkus on why the popular video game Call of Duty might not help us predict future wars, and an Al Jazeera app in which you, the player, accepts an assignment to track and combat African piracy.


CIMSEC’s Matthew Hipple discusses how the US military could use drones as countermeasures and decoys to protect ships and aircraft. He argues that drones provide more options as decoys and, being light and compact, save space in ship storage.

How do you rebuild a broken state? In 2005, while Chancellor of Kabul University, Afghanistan’s President-elect Dr Ashraf Ghani gave a TED talk on the necessity of economic investment and design ingenuity to rebuild broken states, and much of what he discussed can be applied to Afghanistan. It’ll be interesting to see how his views have evolved now that he’s in power (10mins).


Canberra: The Australian Institute of International Affairs will hold its National Conference at the Hyatt Hotel on Monday 27 October. Further information here. (If you’re 40 or under, you can also apply for one of six masterclasses to be led by AIIA Fellows. Applications close Thursday 9 October.)

The Kokoda Foundation’s Future Strategic Leaders’ Congress is coming up 7–9 November at ANU’s Kioloa campus. This iteration’s theme is Australia’s role in addressing global nuclear security challenges, with Prof Gareth Evans headlining the event. For more details and registration, see here.

Melbourne: Dr Swati Parashar will discuss how women participate in and experience insurgencies, with specific reference to the Sri Lankan Tami Tigers insurgency and the armed militancy in Indian-administered Kashmir. Her talk is at the Australian India Institute, University of Melbourne, on Thursday 9 October at 1pm.

Natalie Sambhi is an analyst at ASPI and managing editor of The Strategist. Penelope Czyzewska is currently completing a degree in national security, and is undertaking work experience at ASPI through the University of Canberra. Image courtesy of Flickr user leg0fenris.