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Highlights Of OEWatch For May 2020

May 31, 2020

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 May issue is longer than average at 89 pages divided among five sections spanning Eurasia, the Indo-Pacific, MENA, Africa, and Latin America. Editorial duties are shared among Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and designer Thomas Tolare with input by a large pool of contributing writers.

Of course, the Eurasia section opens this month’s issue. Readers are treated to a strong selection of entries detailing Russia’s military and strategic moves in several regions. On page 12 is a welcome update on the Russian army’s plans to introduce geomapping and geospatial tools supported by cloud-based technology. This is an ambitious goal as even infantry units will get the tools for studying their environment via a handheld device. Armenia’s recent purchase of Indian-made artillery-tracking radar is scrutinized on page 19.

The Indo-Pacific section puts China front and center–for good reason. On page 23 is a very useful introduction to “informatized warfare” or the new doctrine whose core tenet is “the side that’s able to mobilize faster will be at an advantage.” There are two lengthy entries from pages 34 to 36. The first is borrowed from the Jamestown Foundation and titled China’s Deepening Diplomatic and Economic Engagement in Afghanistan. On page 36 is a lengthy examination of Japan’s efforts to integrate its naval military technology.

The MENA section is quite rich. Its entries also reflect the emerging regional powers that are Iran and Turkey. Although a number of entries examine efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s role as a PPE donor. Entries connected with Syria are very interesting and on page 52 is a useful brief on how drones have shaped the conflict. Another drone related entry is on page 55, this time about anti-UAS countermeasures deployed by Turkey. On page 68 is an update on Iran’s shoestring budget naval expansion, with details provided on its Ghadir midget submarine.

The Africa section has some very good entries. On page 70 is a short update about military spending in Ethiopia and Kenya. Turns out Ethiopia just paid a hefty sum for Russian-made Pantsir mobile SAMs and their munitions. The author also noted that Russia enjoys an advantage of sorts in Africa because its military products are very familiar to its African partners. There’s a nice entry on page 72 discussing the problems faced by the “Great Green Wall.” This multinational projects seeks to reforest a 7,775 kilometer area and halt the spread of the Sahara desert but security problems and scheduling are complicating the task.

The Latin America section offers little in the way of geopolitics and is preoccupied with local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. OEWatch often runs several dozen entries 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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