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Highlights of OEWatch For May 2018

May 14, 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 May 2018 issue is 70 pages long and has a copyright free image of Chinese President Xi Jinping on the cover to accompany the title China’s Reach. The latest OEWatch is divided into six sections and all the entries related to China are highlighted on the table of contents.

There has been a slight change in this month’s editorial lineup. Karen Kaya is no longer listed as an editor. The magazine is now assembled by Tom Wilhelm, Matthew Stein, and Lucas Winter with help from a pool of contributors.

The Middle East section gets the ball rolling with nice overviews of Mediterranean affairs from a Turkish perspective. Judging by the number of entries in this issue, it seems two regional powers are now trying to shape the Arab world: Turkey and Iran. There are more entries about the former and the meatiest is on pages 4 and 5 which deals with natural gas exploration in the Levant Basin.

The sections for Africa and Latin America are tedious affairs and deserve to be skipped. Going by the issue’s main theme, a good part of the Asia-Pacific section is about China’s foreign policy in its far abroad. But the most ominous read among the selection is found on pages 38 and 39 where an op-ed by a PLA General is scrutinized for its subject matter. The author, the retired Lt. Gen. Wang Hongguang, claims that Taiwan can be annexed in just 72 hours. What makes this outlook so worrisome is how it fits with the PLA’s emerging doctrine for attacking the island with overwhelming firepower.

On page 42 is another gem: China’s rapid advances in quantum computing R&D and how this could revolutionize its military technology. The rest of the Asia-Pacific section deals with internal security among ASEAN members.

The extremely slim Caucasus, Central and South Asia section offers little more than a short summary on how India is turning away from its historic “defense partnership” with Russia. OEWatch can do its audience a favor by dropping an ambiguous section like “Caucasus, Central and South Asia”–there’s never enough real content to throw under it, anyway. Maybe it’s better if the Caucasus were assigned to Russia, Ukraine and two new sections, Central Asia and then South Asia, were established. This way more useful tidbits on Indian strategic matters can be offered.

But this month’s OEWatch has a final surprise. The familiar Russia, Ukraine section is now Russia, Ukraine and Europe. As expected, there’s a wealth of material about goings on inside the Russian armed forces. It’s on pages 66 and 67 where OEWatch’s analytical bent shines with a vital brief on the upcoming Yasen-M nuclear submarines. On page 68 are two short entries focused on automation in Russia’s military. These involve unmanned ships for plying the Arctic Circle and UAVs for troops deployed in mountainous areas.

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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