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Highlights Of OEWatch For August 2018

August 25, 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 August 2018 issue is 81 pages long and on the cover is a stock image to accompany the bold title “Special Operations Forces.” A major overhaul of the contents has left five major sections and the longest is–predictably–the one devoted to Eurasia. Editorial duties are split between the contributor pool and the usual trio of Tom Wilhelm, Matthew Stein, and Lucas Winter.

The Eurasia section is always a rich trove of insight on Russia’s “strategic affairs.” On pages 6 and 8 are two entries discussing whether the lessons learned from Moscow’s campaign in Syria will be adapted to its conventional war doctrine. On page 9 is a real shocker revealing why Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members rejected forming a peacekeeping force to aid Syrian reconstruction. Another scoop is found on page 14 shedding light on a “science company” program offered to Russian college graduates.

A helpful overview of the Russian military’s next 10-year modernization program (from 2018 until 2028) is offered on page 17. The section also has snippets on Chinese affairs involving an alliance with Belarus (page 11) and Beijing’s plans for sending more nuclear-powered icebreakers to the Arctic Circle (page 25).

The Indo-Pacific section almost matches Eurasia for the depth of its coverage. China’s myriad activities are scrutinized and the entries from page 29 to 30 sift through the public intelligence about the PLA’s special forces. Then on page 32 is an entry about the role of private security companies in Chinese foreign investment projects. The lack of qualified operators from Chinese companies means that South Asian mercenaries are being sought to fill the skills gap. Aside from China, there are helpful entries on Singapore’s cybersecurity efforts on page 39 and Japan’s budding alliance with Indonesia on page 40.

China’s global activities even show up in the Middle East, North Africa section. On page 44 is a short analysis of a PLA delegation’s trip to Iran where they met their counterparts in the IRGC. But Iran almost hogs the section’s contents and on pages 45 and 46 are nice updates on its domestic space program. The risk of jihadis from Syria migrating to Central Asia is assessed on page 49 and the author’s commentary wonders if these terrorist will ever start a campaign against China.

Even the Africa section isn’t spared from Chinese influence and a short entry on page 62 offers a perspective on the spread of language schools. Another potential war is contemplated on page 63 between Somaliland and Puntland over territorial claims. Finally, the Latin America section has the familiar range of domestic issues although Brazil’s upcoming cruise missile is analyzed on page 70. More proof of looming Chinese global supremacy is on page 72 where Beijing’s FDI to Bolivia is covered.

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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