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Highlights Of OEWatch For December 2019

December 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. OEWatch’s year-ender runs 76 pages and the seriousness of Chinese and Russian competition versus US power is very apparent among the sections. Editorial duties are shared among Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and designer Thomas Tolare with broad input by a large pool of contributing writers.

The Eurasia section is preoccupied with Russia’s military equipment. The initial entries offer brief descriptions of new hardware such as a mobile VHF radar called the IL125 Niobium-SV (page 3) and the upgraded Onyx-M anti-ship cruise missile with a range of 800 kilometers (page 4). On page 6 is a very short update on Russia’s satellite-based anti-ballistic missile warning system. A welcome treat is an essay by Sergey Sukhankin on page 10 titled The Three Faces of Russia’s AI Strategy. An excerpt on page 15 gives details on a Russian plan to export coal mined in the Arctic Circle…to India!

Chinese topics almost encompass the Indo-Pacific section. Several entries make delightful reading for dedicated PLA observers. A particular standout is on page 25 where the entry explains the new focus on airborne electronic warfare. On pages 28-29 is a helpful briefing on China’s “maritime militia,” the troublesome organization that acts line a de facto naval force, with an accompanying map showing the locations of their bases. Because of the attention given China, South Asian topics are absent except for a very nice tidbit on page 35 about Pakistan’s efforts at developing a new battle rifle for its army. Yet so pervasive is China’s importance that it creeps into the MENA section. (As for the other geopolitical foe, Russia’s actions in Libya are assessed on page 36.) page 50 is an intriguing scoop about a China-Turkey joint venture for Boron carbide production. This has broad implications for the countries involved since Boron carbide is used for developing vehicular armor.

The Africa section delivers the expected mix of sobering news snippets on the continent’s troubles–all being internal. A notable entry is on page 61 where the author tries to measure Russia’s push for arms sales. Then on page 64 is a short backgrounder on West African integration as countries belonging to the ECOWAS bloc are contributing more in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel; a problem that’s not going away soon.

The Latin America section is now an interesting one. Gone are the dull news excerpts for organized crime and drug trafficking. In the span of a few months the continent has been rocked by unexpected political crises. Successive entries are devoted to the riots in Chile, Colombia’s fragile peace, the downfall of Bolivia’s Evo Morales, the recent elections in Argentina, and the everlasting ties between Havana and Moscow. An essay titled China Increases its Engagement With Brazil examines the trade deals struck by Beijing with the regional giant.

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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