Highlights Of OEWatch For December 2015
Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine. It’s a superb brief that features excerpts from the latest news about ongoing wars and crises. These snippets gathered from various media outlets are accompanied by informed commentary that’s strong on context and analysis.
The FMSO releases OEWatch, together with its vast library of research papers on geopolitical issues, as free downloads.
The December 2015 issue of OEWatch runs 62 pages with a stock photo of a Russian Su-24M bomber on the cover. The headline is Focus On: Syria Intervention and it follows the previous issue‘s emphasis on dissecting Russia’s presence in the Levant. According to the OEWatch staff list the content is prepared by Editor-in-Chief Tom Wilhelm, Editors Ray Finch and Harry Orenstein, and the magazine’s layout is done by Design Editor Keith French. This issue’s commentary is provided by 23 “regional analysts and expert contributors.”
This month’s OEWatch is divided into nine sections. The longest are Russia, Ukraine and Africa. The shortest is Central Asia with just three entries. OEWatch’s features begin with three articles on Turkey about R&D for a long-range missile defense system, the national elections in November, and further advances in wearable soldier technology called CENKER.
The focus on Turkey’s indigenous SAM program was inspired by a controversial deal between Turkey and China for the acquisition of the HQ-9, a missile complex analogous to the Russian S-300. Apparently this $3.44 billion buy got cancelled in mid-November and replaced by an unspecified project of the Turkish military-industrial complex to build an indigenous SAM complex.
The Middle East section has six entries and half of them concern Iran: A recent speech by Supreme Leader Khameni to the Iranian diplomatic corps demonizing the US, a rumored aerospace deal between Tehran and Beijing a month after the successful P5+1, and a rare occasion where an Iranian general discussed the army’s readiness to fight proxy wars, i.e. Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
The remainder of the Middle East section discusses Egypt’s renewed ties with Putin’s Russia, the proliferation of the stimulant called Captagon in Syria, and a final short article about the UAE’s troop rotation in Yemen.
The Africa section is the second longest in this issue of OEWatch. Five of its seven entries are about Boko Haram, the militant group whose influence has spread to neighboring countries like Senegal and Cameroon. According to OEWatch Boko Haram have embraced the DIY manufacturing ethos of militants in Gaza and Syria by establishing their own rocket making facilities–one of which was overrun by government forces.
The Latin America section is still preoccupied with the intersection of drugs and organized crime. The pages devoted to Indo-Pacific Asia are very interesting. They begin with an article that highlights the advancement of Thailand’s domestic arms industry. The next brief discusses neighboring Malaysia’s shrinking defense budget. OEWatch devotes a page to the Philippines’ legal victory in the Hague over China’s encroachment on its maritime borders. The section ends with another page devoted to Cambodia’s decrepit government.
China, Korea, Japan is not very remarkable, having just four entries that involve aspects of Chinese power. It begins with a long article about the ongoing reforms in the PLA, then an analysis of the Japanese writer Shingo Kaya’s own op-ed about the PLAN’s capabilities for an amphibious assault, followed by commentary on PLA propaganda, and ends with an essay length take on Chinese foreign investments.
The Europe section deals with security concerns and the highlight of the Central Asia section are two pages discussing a jailbreak in Kyrgyzstan by Islamist militants and their subsequent deaths.
The Russia, Ukraine section is thick and features multiple entries on Moscow’s ambitious long-term rearmament. There are four entries connected with Russia’s current adventure in Syria. The first excerpts a lengthy interview where political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky claims Russian ground troops will eventually deploy and fight in Syria, a development that another brief article on page 54 suggests may involve Russian “fighters” in Donbass.
OEWatch often runs several dozen stories in a single issue. Readers should download copies to find what’s most relevant to their curiosity.