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Highlights Of OEWatch For July 2019

July 20, 2019

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 issue runs 67 pages and conforms to the updated format established in August 2018 where the coverage is divided among five geographies: Eurasia, Indo-Pacific, MENA, Africa and Latin America. There are changes at the top as well now that Tom Wilhelm sharing editorial duties with Karen Kaya–a Turkey analyst–and the layout is taken care of by Thomas Tolare.

As expected, the Eurasia section is full of entries about Russian military affairs. Pages 3 to 5 features commentary and excerpted text from an interview with Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlev discussing the lessons learned from the army’s Syrian campaign. A shocking revelation–from an authentic Russian source, that is–reveals how great the impact urban warfare had on Russia’s officers in Syria. According to Zhuravlev, these involved “the bulk of formation and unit commanders…as well as the bulk of Army command-and-control officers.” His statements are a candid admission of how many Russian personnel did participate in the theater.

A fascinating entry is found on page 18 about a Russian effort at digging a canal to connect the Black Sea and the Caspian with the hope of Chinese funding. On page 23 is another entry about an “economic package” between China and Azerbaijan worth $800 million.

The Indo-Pacific section is full of China-centric entries with a few pages spared for other Asian states. On page 24 is a nice update on China’s control over its rare earth elements accompanied by a helpful map on page 25. A shocking contrast to Chinese military and technological advances covered by OEWatch is a short entry on page 33 about faulty large caliber ammunition manufactured by India’s state-owned munitions plant. To be fair, these past few months have seen minor breakthroughs for India’s military technology such as the successful test of an air-launched BrahMos cruise missile.

The MENA section is more varied and four pages are devoted to Turkey’s ongoing romance with Russia. After trying to make sense of the former’s stubbornness over the S-400 air defense system on page 40, the entry on page 41 mentions how Beijing and Moscow are now trying to sell Ankara stealth fighter jets. It’s speculated on page 43 if Russian security personnel could soon be cross-training with the Turkish armed forces. On page 45, however, is a helpful summary of the dispute over maritime boundaries now that Turkey and several other countries have proven offshore fossil fuel reserves near each other.

There are very nice entries shedding light on Iran’s eagerness to improve its IT infrastructure and IT education on pages 52 and 53.

The Africa section is quite rich. It starts with a short entry on page 55 that explains how Chinese company Huawei is doing great business in the continent. Three entries from pages 56 to 58 discuss aspects of the civil unrest in Sudan. The scale of the ebola outbreak in D.R. Congo is given some attention on page 59. Internal issues comprise the rest of this month’s Africa coverage. The Latin America section is meager and rightly so. Even if Venezuela has fallen to pieces the US military have no serious missions worth pursuing in the continent.

OEWatch often runs several dozen stories in a single issue. Readers should download their own copies and find content that’s most relevant to their curiosity and interest.

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