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Highlights Of OEWatch For March 2017

March 8, 2017

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine as a free download.

The March 2017 issue of OEWatch runs 67 pages. The cover story features a stock image of a Chinese honor guard to accompany the special essay on page 55, The Strategic Support Force: Update and Overview.

Tom Wilhelm remains the Editor-in-Chief with further editorial duties shared with Karen Kaya. Keith French is still the Design Editor. The latest issue of OEWatch is divided into six sections. As usual, Russia commands the brunt of coverage.

The Middle East section offers a variety of entries on the conflicts sweeping the Levant. A clear highlight are the ones dealing with Iran on pages 6, 7, and 8. There are two commentaries on ISIS; page 10 is about the terror group’s use of decoys and page 11 discusses the risks of ISIS retreating into the Syrian desert. This move, the author argues, will pose a grave threat to the Jordanian border.

The Africa section is very substantial this month, with seven entries total. There’s an interesting discussion of the continent’s decreasing open warfare, with irregular combat now more pervasive, on page 17.

The Latin America section is remarkable for its obsession with security and law enforcement issues rather than armed conflict. A very strange addition is on page 25 discussing the arrival of East African economic refugees in Central America.

The Asia-Pacific section is a lot more serious. Four of the entries deal with China while two are concerned with the terrorism threat in the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Central Asia, Caucasus section is heftier than usual. The entries span Kazakhstan’s acquisition of helicopter gunships, the possibility of Armenian-Iranian arms sales, and ballistic missile proliferation in South Asia.

The Russia, Ukraine section is predictably stacked and deserves a serious reading.

The Special Essay from pages 55 to 60 is an eye-opening dissertation on the PLA’s newest branch–the Strategic Support Force. Its purpose is to encompass China’s orbital and electronic domains, fighting war in space and within the Earth’s telecommunications infrastructure. The author John Costello goes into excruciating detail to make sense of its organization and offers copious footnotes.

An even longer Special Essay by Michael Rubin follows. His Strategies Underlying Iranian Soft Power is an exhaustive survey of Iran’s foreign policy that doesn’t involve waging war or terrorism. 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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