Southern Partnership Station
The U.S. Navy amphibious ship USS Gunston Hall will wrap up its deployment to the Caribbean this month. The ship — embarked with sailors, Seabees and Marines — left Little Creek, Virginia in January for a tour of Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize and Jamaica: part of the Navy’s cornerstone “soft power” strategy. Last month, Marines trained with their Colombian counterparts in jungle warfare, drones, amphibious assaults and explosive ordinance disposal (IEDs being a serious threat in Colombia’s rural areas). In El Salvador, a Navy medical team visited the remote eastern island of Zacatillo to observe water filtration problems, and their logistics counterparts repaired several school buildings on the nearby mainland.
Archive of Feb 2011
Robert’s Latin America Round-Up
Southern Partnership Station
The era of big land wars is ending. Any senior official recommending a large-scale deployment of U.S. ground troops to Asia, the Middle East or Africa “should have his head examined,” to quote Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Instead, get ready for a new epoch of air and sea wars. Those were the surprising remarks Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered to an audience of U.S. Army cadets at West Point, New York, on Friday.
Editorial cartoonists may take their ability to freely respond to events in their own country for granted. For Egyptian cartoonist Sherif Arafa, his most scathing work was drawn only for his own amusement, then locked in a drawer where even his editor couldn’t see it. For years, Arafa worked at Rosalussef, a state-run paper in Egypt, where he carefully butted up against the line of acceptable criticism–a line that once crossed has had grave consequences for journalists and opposition members in Egypt.
Sam’s Southeast Asia Round-Up
The New People’s Army (NPA) killed three soldiers and wounded four others in an attack in the northern province of Ifugao on Saturday. The Filipino soldiers were unarmed. They had with them construction tools to assist in reconstruction after a recent typhoon. The NPA, with an estimated 4,700 guerrilla fighters, is the armed wing of the Filipino Communist Party.
Arrows and Bullets in China
How might China employ its new military capabilities? Maybe not the way Western minds think. A look into the different paths a particular weapon, the bow and arrow, took in China and Europe is instructive.
Peter’s Atlantic Round-Up
The situation is moving so fast that I’m finding it hard to keep up. What we do know is that a ferocious effort is underway to evacuate the tens of thousands of foreign expats who are currently trying to escape the chaos in Libya. Both the scale and the effectiveness of the efforts vary. While Greece and Turkey lead the way in the efficiency of its maritime evacuations — even offering to other countries like China to help evacuate their citizens — other nations like Canada and the U.K. have been criticized for slow reactions and incompetent handling of the situation on the ground. A Canadian chartered airliner had to leave Tripoli empty after officials overestimated the number of Canadian nationals in the area. Meanwhile, thousands more E.U. and American nationals are stuck deep in the desert far from the reach of charter planes and ferries. Rumors thus abound that as well as the two Royal Navy destroyers (Cumberland and York) in the area an SAS/SBS detachment backed up by 1 PARA SFSG are preparing to help safely evacuate those stranded. This is, I must stress, just a rumor.
The Art of War
Art has always been used as a visual cue for what kind of person the artist, subject, or buyer is. In the Renaissance, portraits were chock full of details that symbolized the traits and wealth of the sitter. These days, people often base their art buying decisions on what the pieces will say about them. Never was this idea more treasures and overblown than in the late 18th/early 19th century. Furthermore, I believe the paintings that came out of this era have greatly influenced the way war is shown today.
And the Winner Is …
After a decade of misfires, Boeing finally wins a $35-billion deal to build 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force. Will loser EADS protest?
I was at Rice University’s Baker Institute on Tuesday to speak on the topic of war philosophy and China. You can listen to my speech and the subsequent question-and-answer period in the Youtube clip above.
Congo Gold-Grab Mystery Deepens
Two weeks ago, officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo seized a Texas-registered Gulfstream jet with four passengers plus crew — and carrying $7 million in cash and gold bars worth $20 million. At first glance, it looked like a smuggling operation gone awry. Now details have emerged about the passengers’ identities … and it seems they were the victims of an elaborate scam, potentially involving a Congolese war criminal.