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Highlights Of OEWatch For April 2018

April 16, 2018

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine as a free download on the APAN Community Network. The April 2018 issue of OEWatch runs 70 pages long and features a stock image of Vladimir Putin, with his defense minister almost obscured behind him, gazing through a pair of field glasses. Hovering above the Russian leader in bold caps is the title Russia’s Ambitions.

The magazine is divided between seven sections and editorial duties are shared between Tom Wilhelm, Matthew Stein, and Lucas Winter, with further input from a familiar pool of contributors.

April’s OEWatch starts with a section chronicling Russia’s foreign policy. Nine pages are devoted to scrutinizing Moscow’s different activities in its near and far abroad, including familiar stomping grounds like Syria and Ukraine. The most interesting entry is on pages 11 and 12, where excerpts and a photo reveal plans for a “technopark” that will host engineers and scientists working on new technologies. The goal, of course, is for innovations that enhance Russia’s military-industrial sector.

The Middle East, North Africa section offers little beyond the usual. A half dozen entries are preoccupied with the Syrian conflict and on page 16 is a detailed analysis of the “Tiger Force” militias who are propping up the Assad regime. A handful of other entries are concerned with Iranian military capabilities and domestic politics.

The Africa section is like a pocket guide to civil strife across the continent. It’s surprising to learn how peaceful Cameroon is on the brink of major unrest as its English-speaking minority could secede–this is discussed on page 30. China’s current role as a regional financier and patron for poor African states comes under scrutiny on page 35.

The entire Latin America section is a catalog of police issues with glimpses into national politics. The Asia-Pacific section is dominated by entries about China, with a particular focus on its scientific-technological advances, and only one entry on page 55 deals with another country. This is Vietnam’s military modernization. On page 52 is a lengthy essay on the possible strategic applications of blockchain that was originally published by the Jamestown Foundation. Perhaps the zealous scrutiny of China may have worked better this month in a separate section so that South and Southeast Asian affairs get better coverage.

On page 59 is an entry discussing whether or not the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia alliance is being tested by the arrival of 1,000 Pakistani “trainers” in the kingdom. The last 10 pages of this month’s OEWatch is occupied by the Russia Ukraine section. There are multiple entries on upcoming Russian weapon systems. These include a “glide bomb” called the PBK-500U Drel on pages 64 and 65 and the Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile on page 66. A very short take found on page 69 discusses China’s need for  a “Polar Silk Road” from Russia’s half of the Arctic circle to the Baltics. This poses a less risky and cheaper alternative to current maritime routes.

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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