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Highlights Of OEWatch For August 2019

August 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 latest issue runs 67 pages filled with snippets and commentary from the stable of analysts under the editorial triumvirate of Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and Thomas Tolare.

Considering its origins and history, OEWatch’s focus on “Eurasia” is understandable and even vital with a new Cold War poisoning relations between Russia and the US. Hence, the Eurasia section is the heftiest with a multitude of entries discussing Russian military topics. The most interesting are on page 12 and 13. The former touches on a recent undersea accident involving a Russian nuclear-powered submarine believed to be equipped for spying on other Arctic countries. On page 13, however, is a briefer on renewed attempts to build a drydock for overhauling the Russian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier.

On page 14 is a minor update on Russia’s ongoing attempts to secure its lucrative Northern Sea Route. Icebreakers equipped for carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) have sailed from the Siberian coast to reach China–quite a feat! The last entry of the Eurasia section on page 23 examines the ongoing Sino-Russian friendship and whether it can endure.

The Indo-Pacific section is dominated by China with multiple entries trying to make sense of its regional activities. On page 28 is a scoop on a recent PLA test where helicopter pilots managed to control a nearby drone. A far more controversial topic is on page 30 which details a training course for PLA officers that was mean to test their personal judgement. The commentary points out how Chinese officers are too reliant on rote learning and are largely unimaginative, among other limitations, in a sure symptom of widespread unpreparedness.

Remarkably, the MENA section takes a broad view of Turkish affairs. On page 47 is a short brief discussing a recent op-ed authored by no less than President Erdogan where he praises China and hopes Turkey will achieve the same world power status soon. A very nice update on Turkey’s homegrown ballistic missiles occupy page 49 while Ankara’s role in solving the Libyan problem is scrutinized on page 50.

The Africa section enjoys more entries this month. Two prevailing themes are internal disorder, one example being an ISIS revolt in Mozambique on page 61, and how this attracts meddling by foreign powers (such as Turkey in Libya) whether it’s Russia or a security obsessed Egypt. The Latin America section is slim pickings and understandably so. There are no countries in the region that pose a serious geopolitical threat to the US, nor can they even dream of doing so.

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. Owing to its breadth of coverage, OEWatch makes a great alternative to popular commercial magazines that cover “global events.”

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