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Highlights Of OEWatch For June 2016

June 28, 2016

France Stormningen af Halle

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 featuring excerpts of 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 June 2016 issue of OEWatch runs 63 pages. The headline is MANPADS: A Game Changer with an accompanying pastiche of stock images featuring Russian-made missile launchers.

According to the OEWatch staff list the content is prepared by Editor-in-Chief Tom Wilhelm together with Editors Ray Finch and Harry Orenstein. The magazine’s layout is done by Design Editor Padric Hall. This issue’s commentary is provided by 24 “regional analysts and expert contributors.”

June’s OEWatch is divided into nine sections. The longest is Russia, Ukraine. The shortest is Europe with a single entry. The familiar Turkey section, although brief at just three entries, hogs the spotlight with last month’s news on Kurdish PKK fighters downing a Turkish Cobra attack helicopter with an SA-18 that could have been acquired from the regional black market. The incident is seen as the latest surprise in a civil war raging inside Turkey between Ankara and its Kurdish nemesis.

On page 5 is news of a Turkish base opening in Qatar that can accommodate 3,000 troops. The commentary tries to add context by mentioning how “…the United States is no longer seen as a reliable military counter to Iran’s considerable strength.” It’s worth mentioning how Turkey’s hard power is now spreading across the Arab world. Turkish troops are deployed in Northern Iraq, fighting in Syria, and training alongside the forces of Ankara’s newest ally, Saudi Arabia.

Half the Middle East/North Africa section is devoted to Iran-related content. Comments on the aimless crisis in Yemen and the Syrian civil war are included as well. Likewise the Africa section is preoccupied with terrorism in Nigeria and its immediate neighborhood.

In keeping with the current theme of MANPADS the Latin America sections begins with an update on a recent cartel bust in Mexico. Among the captured arms was a decommissioned Red Eye missile launcher. A very brief comment on Venezuela’s collapse is on page 18 with additional entries devoted to security issues in Central America.

Nicaragua’s recent arms deal with Russia for at least 50 T-72 tanks, helicopters, boats, and SAMs is a highlight since, according to the commentary, it can upset the region’s balance of power. Should the transaction be completed it also marks the biggest transfer of Russian weapons to Central America since the 1980s.

The Indo-Pacific Asia section has its usual emphasis on India’s technological advances. There’s a good deal on Southeast Asia as well, mostly on domestic security. Two entries, on page 25 and 29, are concerned with maritime piracy in regional waters. On page 26 is an interesting brief about a moderate Islamic movement from Indonesia called Nahdlatul Ulama.

The China, Korea, Japan section is once again a Beijing-centric treat touching on the PLA’s inner workings, hyperloop technology, and counterterrorism. The Europe section is inconsequential while Central Asia offers valuable updates on regional militaries.  Page 36 offers a glimpse on Kazakhstan’s domestic arms industry. It explains how foreign investments and joint ventures have allowed Astana to nourish a diverse manufacturing base. This spans soldier gear, small patrol vessels for the Caspian Sea, and maybe a fleet of armored vehicles in the near future.

The Russia, Ukraine section is tremendous. Its 24 pages runs a broad gamut on relevant developments in Russia’s armed forces and its technology. There are specific entries on the Russian periphery as well, i.e. the Caucasus and Ukraine.

OEWatch often runs several dozen stories in a single issue. Readers should download copies to find what’s most relevant to their curiosity.

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