Archive of Oct 2008

Human Intelligence for Human Security

This summer I got caught in the crossfire during a two-hour gunfight in Abeche, Chad, that killed at least one person. It never was clear who was shooting at whom, or why. The Chadian army said rebels had invaded Abeche. The Chadian government said the battle was actually just celebratory fire. One element of the [...]


“Human Security” Strategy in Africa

“About two years ago to the day, I was asked to give a presentation to Army staff in the bunker on African security,” said U.S. Army Major Shannon Beebe (pdf!), now Army Intel’s top Africa analyst. “At that time, the chief of staff of the Army was General Peter Schoomaker. And I started off the [...]


Somali Peace Deal Impresses No One (Updated and Bumped)

“Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia on 26 October renewed a ceasefire agreement originally signed in June and agreed to form a unity government,” Jane’s reported today. Yawn. I’m going to take a nap. Wake me up when the shooting stops and there’s REAL progress in Somalia. Truth [...]

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World Politics Review: Iraq’s Christians Flee “Religious Cleansing,” and Arm Themselves

In early October, news and rumors spread through the city of Mosul in northern Iraq that insurgents were targeting the area’s Christian population. The attacks were apparently aimed at driving the Christians out of town — a sort of “religious cleansing.” Christians have responded by arming themselves. The anti-Christian campaign reportedly began in September, with [...]

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U.S. Navy’s Soft-Power Strategy: “Perception is Reality”

The U.S. Navy’s emerging “soft-power” strategy in Africa and Latin America has been hugely controversial. The Navy’s aim is to win friends and allies by handing out medicine, engineering assistance and military training, all for free. But many Africans and Latin Americans view the squat gray shapes of U.S. naval vessels as the vanguard of [...]


Coast Guard’s Billions

The Coast Guard’s recently approved budget for next year totals nearly $10 billion — a modern record. The spike in funding is necessary to pay for more than a thousand new personnel for the lifesaving service. But cost increases in the Coast Guard’s Deepwater shipbuilding scheme also are a factor: * The first two National [...]


Robo-Cannon’s Manpower Problem

Two weeks ago the Army’s semi-robotic Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) prototype, the first major weapon in the $160-billion Future Combat Systems program, fired its first round. NLOS-C reduces the current four-man howitzer crew to just two. While that will mean savings in manpower costs, there are potentially huge (and negative) implications on the battlefield, according to [...]


Insurgents’ Motorcycles of Doom: Bombed!

On October 22, “in the vicinity of Morghab, [Afghanistan,] an Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped Guided Bomb Unit-31s and GBU-38s onto a group of enemy fighters on motorcycles firing against coalition forces,” the Air Force reported last week. “A JTAC [air controller] reported the mission successful.” This is not the first time insurgents have tooled [...]

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Royal Navy: Sunk! (Corrected)

It takes a profound institutional meltdown to make the Pentagon look like a tight-run ship in comparison. Leave it to the British Ministry of Defense to allow just such a catastrophe in the U.K.’s senior service. In the roughly 15 years since the end of the Cold War, the Royal Navy — once one of [...]


Cholera Strikes Somalia

The world’s most dire — and largely unreported — humanitarian crisis has claimed more victims. “At least 32 people have died due to hunger and cholera in Somalia, most of them children and old people, according to doctors,” PressTV reports. With the Islamic insurgency growing in strength (even shutting down the international airport), aid workers [...]

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War Stories: The Herk Ride from Hell

Reader Brian Smith writes in with a classic war story: In 1982, I was with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. I had the worst flight ever on a C-130 coming back from Canada. We were up there doing winter training with the Hussars, at 40 below and six feet of snow, and came [...]

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Will Russian-Indian PAK-FA Fighter Challenge F-35?

Some analysts predict the Lockheed Martin F-35 will dominate the $15-billion-a-year global fighter market for decades, overshadowing rival fighter designs from established aerospace firms in the U.S. and Europe – and from one upstart alliance of Russia and India and junior partner Brazil. But problems deep inside the F-35 program might open the way for [...]