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Highlights Of OEWatch For October 2018

October 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 October 2018 issue is 76 pages long and divided into just five sections. The cover of this latest OEWatch depicts Russian soldiers fussing over drones. Below them, VOSTOK-2018 MANEUVERS is spelled out in all caps. The usual editorial team (Wilhelm, Stein, and Winter) and their contributors are responsible for the content inside.

This month’s OEWatch starts with the Eurasia section that’s almost entirely devoted to the massive Vostok-2018 exercises involving almost half of the Russian army’s active personnel. The entry on page 3 tries to ascertain why it took place and the likeliest reason is…complicated. On page 9 and 11 are separate entries for premium Russian missile systems. The former is about the Iskander and its uses as an anti-ship missile while the latter discusses a real anti-ship missile, the Bastion-P. An amusing entry on page 19 reveals the Russian army isn’t attracting enough volunteers and a new directive aims to stop commanders from holding conferences at night so their subordinates have more free time.

On page 22 is a short take on Russia’s emerging arctic passage, where commercial shipping traffic is beginning to grow. One reason why is because there’s absolutely no risk of pirate attacks. Then on page 23 is an update on a newly constructed Chinese icebreaker. But the focus moves to Russia again on page 31 that picks apart a mysterious disinformation campaign directed at Sweden just before its elections.

The Indo-Pacific section offers rich pickings this month. On page 39 is a short brief on “micro-bionic technology” that are being advocated by Chinese state media as a new field with military applications. The PLA’s advanced Type 99 main battle tank gets a lot of attention on page 41. This wonderful entry is followed by a description of Mianyang on page 43. The obscure metropolis is painted as an innovation hub specializing in technological breakthroughs for the PLA. There are two very nice entries on page 45 and 46. These are about the submarine deployments of Thailand and South Korea, respectively.

The Middle East, North Africa section is quite broad on its own. The first entry on page 49 analyzes Saudi Arabia’s efforts to seize the sparsely populated al-Marah region in Yemen. Doing so gives it access to the Arabian Sea. There are two nice entries on Turkey on page 55 and 58. The first explains why Ankara wants to set up a military base in Cyprus. The second is a quick glance at the military-industrial sector under President Erdogan. The Africa section that follows is confined to internal problems but a really alarming entry on page 68 examines the risks of Somalia breaking apart into stateless.

The entries in the Latin America section are unremarkable except for the summary on page 73 explaining why China’s presence in the continent will soon be dominant. 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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