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Highlights Of OEWatch For July 2018

July 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 July 2018 issue is 67 pages long and features numerous small changes. The cover story, for example, isn’t a “Special Essay” but an article titled China’s Drone Swarms.

This month’s OEWatch keeps the same five sections as before but these are now arranged in the following order: Eurasia occupies the first 20 pages, then the Indo-Pacific, MENA, Africa, and finally Latin America. The editorial trio of Tom Wilhelm, Matthew Stein, and Lucas Winter are still in charge with help from contributors.

The Eurasia section that replaced Russia, Ukraine in previous issues now commands the beginning of OEWatch. The entries form a useful selection of military developments in Russia. On page 4 is a critical assessment of the BMPT combat vehicle and its flaws. It turns out the much hyped platform has little use in ground combat even if it went to Syria for field tests. Multiple entries between pages 5 and 9 are devoted to Moscow’s efforts at securing the Arctic Circle. On page 8 is a snippet of recent news about an LNG terminal in the Kamchatka Peninsula.

A welcome addition to the Eurasia entries are assessments of what’s going on in Azerbaijan–expensive weapons were acquired–and Armenia, where a popular revolt forced its leader’s resignation. Another treat is a lengthy review of Anatoliy Serdyukov’s accomplishments as a civilian defense minister from 2007 to 2012 on page 16 that exposes how disorganized the Russian military was until sweeping modernization took place.

The Indo-Pacific section now covers the entirety of Southeast and East Asia with a strong focus on China–the entries this July are superb. On page 21 is an excellent scoop that reveals the scale of China’s experiment’s with drone swarms. Then on page 23 is an equally helpful briefing on China’s efforts to develop its own hypersonic aircraft. From page 25 to 26 is a deep essay that attempts to make sense of China’s approach to “cyber sovereignty” or controlling its own internet.

The MENA section holds its own with solid content spanning the Middle East’s current woes. A lot of entries are still devoted to what goes on in Iran. Yet on page 35 is a fascinating analysis of Russia’s peacekeeping effort in Syria. There’s now an obvious rift between Moscow and Tehran as the former attempts to demobilize pro-regime militias and rebuild Al-Assad’s regular army. The entries on pages 39 and 46 give useful glimpses into Iran’s missile technology and the doctrine behind it. When it comes to the Africa section, specifically pages 53 to 56, a clear trend is emerging across the continent–radical Islamists are gaining ground in a handful of countries where governments aren’t equipped to defeat them.

As noted, the Latin America concludes this issue of OEWatch with entries on the law and order situation across the continent. On page 67, however, is a very short commentary about China’s reliance on Brazil’s agricultural exports. So great is the demand, in fact, Beijing has directed up to $20 billion for building infrastructure that hastens transporting soybean deliveries.

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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