U235, 90%, 600 Kilos – Project Sapphire

Von Danny Chahbouni. Danny studiert Geschichte und Politikwissenschaft an der Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Schematische Darstellung der Operation “Project Sapphire”.

Der post-sowjetische Raum zu Beginn der 1990er Jahre: In einem kaum gesicherten Lagerhaus in Kasachstan liegen die nuklearen Hinterlassenschaften der ehemaligen Supermacht. Gleichzeitig durchstreifen Terroristen und die Geheimdienste diverser geächteter Regime die jungen Staaten – wie einen riesigen Trödelmarkt – und versuchen Teile der brisanten Überbleibsel aufzukaufen. Die perfekten Zutaten für einen Tom Clancy Roman? Durchaus, die folgende Geheimoperation, die der Öffentlichkeit später unter der Bezeichnung “Project Sapphire” bekannt wurde, ist allerdings keineswegs Fiktion. In Zeiten von ISIS und der Atomprogramme Nordkoreas und Irans könnte die Bedrohung auch 20 Jahre später nicht aktueller sein.

Kasachstan: abgelegen, doch bedeutungsvoll
Für die sowjetische Militärmacht spielte das Land eine gewichtige Rolle. Neben 104 SS-18 ICBMs mit 1’400 Sprengköpfen, befand sich auch das Atomtestgelände Semipalatinsk, quasi das sowjetische Alamogordo, auf dem Staatsgebiet der ehemaligen Sowjetrepublik. Daneben gab es noch zwei weitere Testgelände für Nuklearwaffen. Bis heute werden das Raketentestgelände Saryschagan und das Kosmodrom Baikonur durch Russland genutzt.

Nach dem Ende des Kalten Krieges richteten sich die Augen des Westens vor allem auf die Interkontinentalraketen, die neben Kasachstan, auch in der Ukraine und in Weißrussland stationiert waren. Sehr schnell wurde jedoch klar, dass die eigentliche Gefahr für die internationale Sicherheit nicht von den Raketen ausging, sondern von den Massen an Nuklearmaterial, die schlecht oder kaum gesichert über die ehemalige Sowjetunion verstreut waren. Daneben befanden sich eine große Menge an chemischen Waffen im Bestand der Roten Armee und die Sowjetunion forcierte bis in die Ära Gorbatschow ein ernstzunehmendes Biowaffen-Programm. Als das Ende der Sowjetunion absehbar war, bemühte sich Russland, vor allem aus politischen Gründen, taktische Kernwaffen und andere Sondermunition schnellstens auf das eigene Staatsgebiet zu schaffen. Die schiere Menge dieser Kampfmittel stellte sich allerdings als unlösbares logistisches Problem dar. In der Folge blieben insbesondere Abfallprodukte, vereinzelt aber auch überzähliges Nuklearmaterial, in verlassenen Forschungseinrichtungen und Fabriken liegen.

Cooperative Threat Reduction Program
Die Senatoren Sam Nunn (Demokrat, GA) und Richard Lugar (Republikaner, IN) etablierten sich schnell als eifrigste Fürsprecher eines Hilfsprogramms, um die Gefahr der unkontrollierten Verbreitung von ABC-Waffen bzw. Bauteilen oder sonstigen Stoffen, einzudämmen. Das als Nunn-Lugar-Act bekannt gewordene Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) bot den Staaten der ehemaligen Sowjetunion finanzielle Hilfen, um im Gegenzug die gefährlichen Hinterlassenschaften zu sichern und zu entsorgen. Gelder gab es auch dafür, die nötige Infrastruktur für die sichere Lagerung von Atommüll und Chemikalien, aufzubauen. In der Ukraine, Weißrussland und in Kasachstan lag ein besonderes Augenmerk darauf, die verbliebenen ICBMs außer Dienst zu stellen und zu zerstören, damit vor allem die Trägersysteme nicht in die falschen Hände gerieten. Seit 2003 konnten auch Staaten dem Programm beitreten, die nicht unmittelbar Teil der Sowjetunion waren. Auf diese Weise entledigte sich u.a. Albanien seiner C-Waffen Bestände.

Seltenes Bildmaterial der Geheimoperation. Kasachische Arbeiter und ein Soldat der USAF (erkennbar am N-3b Parka) verladen Uranfässer in eine C-5b Galaxy.

Seltenes Bildmaterial der Geheimoperation. Kasachische Arbeiter und ein Soldat der USAF (erkennbar am N-3b Parka) verladen Uranfässer in eine C-5b Galaxy.

Project Sapphire
Eine besondere Situation ergab sich 1994 in der Stadt Ust-Kamenogorsk, in Ostkasachstan, die seit 1947 durch die Metallindustrie geprägt war. Innerhalb der Industrielandschaft befanden sich auch die Ulba-Werke, die u.a. Beryllium für die Nuklearindustrie verarbeiteten. In diesem Industriekomplex wurde auch hochangereichertes Uran für die Reaktoren der sowjetischen U-Boote der Alfa-Klasse produziert. Die Alfa-Klasse wurde bis 1975 gebaut und nach dem Ende des Projekts blieben ca. 600 Kg hochangereichertes Uran, in Kanistern und Eimern, in einer Lagerhalle liegen, die nur mit einem einfachen Vorhängeschloss gesichert war. Wer zu diesem Zeitpunkt über das brisante Inventar der Lagerhalle Bescheid wusste, ist nicht genau klar. Überhaupt gab es in dem gerade souverän gewordenen Staat nur eine überschaubare Zahl an Offiziellen, die sich dem Problem der sowjetischen Hinterlassenschaften bewusst waren. Dazu zählte u.a. der Direktor der Ulba-Werke, Vitali Mette, der am Rande eines Besuchs von U.S. Vize-Präsident Al Gore im Dezember 1993 dem US-Diplomaten Andy Weber einen Zettel zukommen ließ, mit der folgenden Nachricht:

U235
90 Percent
600 Kilos

Das war genug hochangereichertes Uran um ca. 20 Atombomben zu bauen. Weber leitete die Nachricht umgehend weiter, aber eine schnelle Reaktion blieb zunächst aus. Erst am Rande des Besuchs von Nursultan Nasarbajew bei Präsident Clinton im Februar 1994 kam das Thema wieder zur Sprache. Nasarbajew wollte den Fall möglichst geheim halten und das Uran an Russland zurückgeben. Die Russen wollten es allerdings nicht nehmen, da sie selbst größte Probleme hatten, ihre Bestände zu sichern. Zwischenzeitlich war Weber mit einem Experten des US-Energieministeriums nach Ust-Kamenogorsk geflogen und hatte Proben des Materials zu sammeln. Dabei bestätigte sich auch ein von der CIA lange gehegter Verdacht: In einer anderen Lagerhalle der Fabrik standen Kisten, die mit Beryllium, welches als Neutronenreflektor in Atomwaffen gebraucht wird, gefüllt waren. Die Fracht war bereits abgefertigt und die Kisten waren mit Teheran, Iran beschriftet. Vermutlich hatte nur ein dummer Zufall verhindert, dass das Material noch nicht in den Iran gelangt war. Ab diesem Zeitpunkt war allerdings klar, dass schnelles Handeln von Nöten sei. Das war der Startpunkt für die “Project Sapphire” genannte Geheimoperation, um das Material zu bergen.

Erfolgreiche Abrüstung: Auf einem ehemaligen ukrainischen Raketensilo werden im Juni 1996 Sonnenblumen gepflanzt. v.l.n.r.: Der russische Verteidigungsminister Grachev, der ukrainische Verteidigungsminister Shmarov und US-Verteidigungsminister Perry.

Erfolgreiche Abrüstung: Auf einem ehemaligen ukrainischen Raketensilo werden im Juni 1996 Sonnenblumen gepflanzt. v.l.n.r.: Der russische Verteidigungsminister Grachev, der ukrainische Verteidigungsminister Shmarov und US-Verteidigungsminister Perry.

Airlift
Während im Hintergrund diplomatische Verhandlungen zwischen den Regierungen der USA und Kasachstans liefen, wurde im Pentagon ein so genanntes “Tiger Team” mit Vertretern des Verteidigungs-, Energie- und Außenministeriums gebildet, um die weitere Vorgehensweise zu beraten. Als wirtschaftlichste Alternative wurde eine Luftbrücke vorgeschlagen. Das Uran sollte durch die US-Air Force aus Ust-Kamenogorsk nach Oak Ridge in die USA geflogen werden, wo eine sichere Lagerung gewährleistet wurde. Bevor diese Operation beginnen konnte, musste allerdings noch eine Übereinkunft mit der russischen Regierung gefunden werden. Zunächst, weil der russische Luftraum benutzt werden musste und – auch wenn das Uran quasi vergessen worden ist – der russische Staat Eigentümer des Materials war. Die politischen Schwierigkeiten konnten schließlich bilateral durch die Präsidenten Nazabayew und Jelzin gelöst werden. Die operativen Vorbereitungen begannen im Sommer 1994. 32 Nuklearexperten des US-Energieministeriums wurden für den verdeckten Einsatz ausgewählt.

Die eigentlich Operation wurde am 07. Oktober 1994 mit einer “Presidential Directive” befohlen. Mit drei C-5B Galaxy Transportern von der Dover Air Force Base wurde das Team am folgenden Tag über die Türkei nach Ust-Kamenogorsk geflogen. Diese erste Phase gestaltete sich bereits äußerst abenteuerlich, da der kleine Flughafen nicht die nötige Infrastruktur für die riesigen Transportmaschinen bot und keiner der Fluglotsen englisch sprach. Mit einiger Improvisation konnte die Mannschaft abgesetzt werden und die Arbeit in der abgelegenen Industrielandschaft aufnehmen. Dabei wurde die gesamte Zeit unter Legende gearbeitet. Erschwerend kam hinzu, dass durch die Länge des politischen Entscheidungsprozesses, der Winter nahte und die Arbeiten möglichst vor dem ersten Schnee beendet sein sollten. Das Uran musste umgelagert und für den Lufttransport in sichere Behältnisse gefüllt werden. Dieser Prozess dauerte bis zum 11. November 1994 und die letzte Galaxy verließ Kasachstan am 19. November 1994, bereits in dichtem Schneefall. Insgesamt waren sechs Flüge notwendig, um 448 Uran-Behältnisse und das Team wieder in die USA zu fliegen. Dabei wurde aus Sicherheitsgründen kein Zwischenstopp eingelegt, sondern die Maschinen wurden zweimal in der Luft betankt.

Preventive Defense
Um das Projekt zu ermöglichen ist erwartungsgemäß eine Menge Geld geflossen: 27 Millionen Dollar wurden an Kasachstan gezahlt und drei Millionen an die Ulba-Werke, in deren Lagerhallen das Uran gelagert war. Am 23. November wurde die Operation in einer Pressekonferenz der Öffentlichkeit publik gemacht. U.S. Verteidigungsminister William Perry hob dabei in einem kurzen Statement besonders folgendes hervor:

We have just transferred approximately 600 kilograms of weapons grade highly enriched uranium out of Kazakhstan at the request of the government of Kazakhstan, and delivered the material to the Department of Energy’s Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge in Tennessee for safe and secure storage. In other words we have just placed in safe hands enough nuclear material from the former Soviet arsenal to make more than 20 nuclear devices. In fact, some of this material was in a form that could be used directly to make nuclear weapons.

By removing it from the Ulba Metallurgical Facility in Kazakhstan where it was stored, and placing it at the Y-12 plant, we have put this bomb-grade nuclear material forever out of the reach of potential black marketeers, terrorists, or a new nuclear regime. — William J. Perry et al, “DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, et al“, 23.11.1994.

“Project Sapphire” war nicht nur eine erfolgreiche Operation zur Bekämpfung von Proliferation, sondern vor allem Ausdruck eines neuen Denkens in der amerikanischen Sicherheitspolitik, das als “preventive defense” bezeichnet wurde. Die Doktrin der Abschreckung war zwar niemals gänzlich suspendiert, der Fokus der einzig verbliebenen Supermacht lag in den 1990er Jahren allerdings stärker auf einer Mischung aus präventiven und offensiven Maßnahmen. Eine Hinterlassenschaft dieser Zeit, die gesamte Bush-Ära und die erste Administration Obamas überdauerte, war das CTR. Im Jahr 2012 bekundete Russland das Abkommen auslaufen zu lassen, wobei im Jahr 2013 eine neue Übereinkunft zur Bekämpfung von Proliferation zwischen den USA und Russland getroffen wurde.

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Posted in Danny Chahbouni, History, International, Proliferation, Security Policy | Leave a comment

US foreign policy: muddling through, satisficing or boiling frog?

by Andrew Smith. He published the following article August 25, 2014 on The Strategist, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog. In the meantime, US President Barack Obama formulated, how he wants “to degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. Obama’s statement was meant as a strategic communication to the nation and not as a comprehensive strategy, which will address the root causes of the problem (see also Jean-Marie Guéhenno and Noah Bonsey, “To Stop ISIS in Syria, Support Aleppo“, The New York Times, 14.09.2014). Therefore, Offiziere.ch thinks that the main criticism on the decision making of the Obama administration in foreign policy, formulated in Smith’s article, is still valid. Do you agree or disagree with our view? Use the comment section below to express your own thoughts!

West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen briefs President Barack Obama prior to the United States Military Academy at West Point commencement (Photo: Pete Souza).

West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen briefs President Barack Obama prior to the United States Military Academy at West Point commencement (Photo: Pete Souza).

The last couple of months have provided an opportunity to see in action President Barack Obama national security strategy articulated in his 28 May speech at West Point which was elaborated subsequently, and less formally, with a complementary doctrine of “don’t do stupid (stuff)…“.

Considerable effort has gone into analysing that strategy, both in these pages and elsewhere. Policy tragics are honour-bound to try to place a stated approach within established theory. Early on, Joshua Rovner attempted to classify Obama’s foreign policy approach as “muddling through“, the alternative term for Charles E. Lindblom’sincrementalism” model of public-policy decisionmaking. Under that model, most policy is made in “baby steps”, embracing improvements at a rate the polity can handle—albeit one that never quite achieves the desired objective.

That approach is contrasted often with “maximisation”, in which expansive, rational examination of all possible options leads to the selection and bold implementation of the “best” one. Maximisation could describe some of the administration’s domestic policy initiatives, where it’s shown an appetite for strong, risky action: the Affordable Care Act was certainly bold, as are some of the ideas mooted for immigration reform. In this field, the president has led change aggressively—but not in foreign policy.

Some say Herbert Simon’s model of “satisficing” or bounded rationality may better describe Obama’s foreign policy approach. Satisficing involves making policy decisions that are simply satisfactory for an adequate number of interested parties at the time, rather than optimal for the whole over the long run. As Robert Kagan has pointed out, the president tends to aim for the “dead centre” of public opinion in foreign policy matters—to make decisions that minimise dissatisfaction in the electorate rather than produce the optimal long-term outcome. In this context, the “stupid stuff test” for foreign policy decisions is the extent to which they unsettle current public opinion rather than the danger they may add to a future situation. So far, the electorate hasn’t demanded more of this administration’s foreign policy.

Since the West Point speech, circumstances have certainly led Obama to do some things that weren’t anticipated then, both in Iraq and in relation to Ukraine. But among some shrewd commentators there is a growing sense that responses aren’t keeping pace with developments—that the circumstances require bolder action, even if most people don’t want it, and that the administration must inform the popular debate more effectively. And those voices are coming from close to—or within—the administration: Secretary of State John Kerry and retired General John Allen have said as much in relation to ISIS in Iraq, while Hillary Clinton has pointed out the inadequacies of “don’t do stupid stuff” as an organising principle for a great nation.

Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle. — Hillary Clinton in Jeffrey Goldberg, “Hillary Clinton: ‘Failure’ to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS“, The Atlantic, 10.08.2014.

A preference for satisficing decisions is particularly risky given a background of shrinking US defence capacity. Projected downsizing means America won’t be able to field as much force in the future, making it all the more critical to understand the opportunity costs of satisficing (or muddling through) and to seize chances to arrest deteriorating situations (like Iraq and Ukraine).

This rather pessimistic picture calls to mind the popular American metaphor of the boiling frog, swimming happily in its pot of gradually warming water until it’s too late to jump out. For a frog, with limited options, jumping out of the pot maximises the outcome. A great power like the US, leading like-minded but less powerful countries, should instead be looking for ways to turn down the heat. Satisficing might prevent the pot from boiling over, but the water is likely to be uncomfortably hot for a long time.

Posted in Andrew Smith, English, Politics in General, Security Policy | Leave a comment

Cartoon of the month: Terror Games

ISIS

Iranian cartoonist Mohsen Izadi sees ISIS (also known by the derogatory term “Daesh” in the Arab world) as a new political toy in the Middle East, without their own will or political ideology. This does beg the question: who is at the controls?

Mohsen Izadi is an Iranian artist who has been active in the field of cartooning since 2003.

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Sea Control 51 – Falklands War and 45 Commando

Alexander Clarke, Principal Researcher of the Phoenix Think Tank did a series of interviews and panels about the Falklands War. With Sea Control 51, he begins the series with an interview with Ian Gardiner, who commanded a rifle company in 45 Commando Royal Marines in the Falklands War. Before this mission, he fought in the Dhofar War in Oman from 1973 to 1975, where he was decorated with the Omani Distinguished Service Medal for Gallantry. Later, Gardiner commanded 40 Commando Royal Marines, which included his fourth operational tour in Northern Ireland from 1994 to 1996. He has also been the Royal Marines Equerry to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and, in 1997, graduated from the Royal College of Defence Studies. His final appointment was Secretary to the Military Committee at NATO Headquarters in Brussels where he was involved in the political and strategic direction of the Kosovo War. He left the Royal Marines in 2001 in the rank of brigadier.

This is a very interesting interview, especially for anybody, who is interested in military history and military leadership.

 
Published books by Ian Gardiner

 
Listen to episode #51 immediately

 
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CIMSECThe Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank. It was formed in 2012 to bring together forward-thinkers from a variety of fields to examine the capabilities, threats, hotspots, and opportunities for security in the maritime domain. Check out the NextWar blog to join the discussion. CIMSEC encourages a diversity of views and is currently accepting membership applications here.

Posted in English, History, International, Leadership, Sea Control | Leave a comment

ISIS: Here to Stay! – Part 2/3

by Sascha Bruchmann. Sascha Bruchmann studied International Law and International Politics in Germany and in the US. He worked as an analyst, covering the MENA region.

A geopolitical analysis of the larger situation in the Middle East reveals that the currently embattled ISIS will not be defeated like its predecessor Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The current environment in the region will allow it to prevail as the dominant actors are either reluctant or unable to crush it. ISIS will be contained and pushed back into Syria, where it will be allowed by most players to continue its role, primarily as a faction in the civil war dividing the Assad-opposition. The following analysis will highlighting the relevant actors’ strategies in today’s conflicts and is divided into three parts: The first part deals with ISIS itself and the US as an international power, followed by the dominant regional powers in the second part. The third part investigates Iraq, its subnational forces and concludes the series (Part 3 will follow in the next weeks).

Plotted above are the range rings related to NATOs PAC-3 deployment and the various refugee camps confirmed on satellite imagery. Interestingly, the refugee camp locations predominantly reside in the PAC-3s overlapping fields of fire (OFOF), i.e. the most effective kill zone for the patriots. Though not displayed above, but perhaps just as important, the Sarmada and Bab a-Hawa crossings, a key control area for FSA resupply, are also located in the OFOF (Source: Chris B, "Syria & NATO’s Patriots in Turkey", OSIMINT, 30.08.2013).

Plotted above are the range rings related to NATOs PAC-3 deployment and the various refugee camps confirmed on satellite imagery. Interestingly, the refugee camp locations predominantly reside in the PAC-3s overlapping fields of fire (OFOF), i.e. the most effective kill zone for the patriots. Though not displayed above, but perhaps just as important, the Sarmada and Bab a-Hawa crossings, a key control area for FSA resupply, are also located in the OFOF (Source: Chris B, “Syria & NATO’s Patriots in Turkey“, OSIMINT, 30.08.2013).

Turkey – Rising Profile In the Middle East
Turkey’s primary interest is to replace Bashar al-Assad. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP Party is itself an offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology. The AKP’s origins in the Turkish National Outlook Movement and its Welfare Party have already included elements of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egyptian and Tunisian and have facilitated ideological closeness. Turkey is thus hosting the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces with its strong Syrian brotherhood core. The MB is a third Islamist option in many countries, competing with the Wahhabist respectively Salafist ways of Sunni Islam often infuenced by Saudi-Arabia and with the Shiites often affiliated with Iran. Turkey has been trying to foster a MB block in the Middle East cooperating with Qatar, Egypt under Mohamed Morsi, developping ties with Hamas and even been accused of supporting MB elements in Libya’s post-Qaddafi struggle.

Turkey is no official supporter of ISIS which is Salafist and Jihadist but nonetheless not Saudi-backed. Yet, the real threats for Turkey are Syrian Scuds, since al-Assad is effectively resisting Turkey’s aspirations of reshaping Syria. Hence it has called on NATO to help protect its cities using Patriot Air Defense systems in order to deter al-Assad’s retaliation from the very beginning. Nevrteheless,throughout the last years, Turkey has often been accused of helping radical elements in Syria including Al-Qaeda affiliates and also ISIS fighters by leaving its borders open as safe space to retreat and medically assisting their wounded. Turkey’s calculations have only recently been changed, since ISIS has made territorial gains. ISIS is now a factor in Turkish calculations, but should Turkey be forced to choose then overthrowing al-Assad is more important. ISIS is no threat to the Turkish Army; Kurdish independence and Syrian Scuds are directly against Turkish interests and cannot be handled by its strong army. Turkey was content to see ISIS fight al-Assad and the Rojava-Kurds in Northwestern Syria. Thus, Turkey’s actions can be characterized as moderating support that indirectly also ended in ISIS hands through its changing balance of power calculations.

The bombings of Reyhanli and the hostage taking of Turkish staffers in Mosul are interpretated as ISIS way of blackmailing Turkey into keeping its borders open. Using ISIS has become a dangerous game for the Turkish government, but the absence of ISIS might strengthen al-Assad, and Kurds in Syria thus it is an important player that for now is indispensable. Another part of the calculation is that besides official rhetoric Turkish-Iranian relations are characterized by mistrust and competition and Turkey seeks to contain Iran.

Thus, ISIS serves Turkey in three ways: it fights al-Assad, it fights Kurds in Northeastern Syria and it is actively binding Iranian troops and assets in Syria and Iraq.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi Ambassador to Washington and from 2012-2014 head of Saudi intelligence.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi Ambassador to Washington and from 2012-2014 head of Saudi intelligence.

Saudi-Arabia – A Sunni View
Saudi-Arabia sees the recent events in Syria and Iraq through its own conflict with Iran. Two Iranian allies have come under fire from ISIS. Like the US, Saudi-Arabia sees the fall of al-Assad as a vital requirement for equilibrium in the region, but also wants to see Sunnis in Iraq empowered. Even the Saudi government does not support ISIS, the Saudis (and Qataris) have been unable or unwilling to stop the flow of money and recruits towards ISIS and other islamist factions around the world. Thus, on the one side private financiers from the Gulf states and Waqfs (a religious endowment, correct plural from Arabic: Awqaf) channel money to Salafist groups as ISIS or al-Nusra Front while on the other side Saudi-Arabia officially supports the Assad-opposition of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA). The Sauds compete for influence with Turkey that favors the MB elements in Syria, whereas they favor the Sunni tribal elements. Only recently has Saudi-Arabia acted, when ISIS came close to the Iraqi-Saudi border. As soon as ISIS is far enough it can be used as a player on the regional field.

However, there is a darker side to this story. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once Ambassador to Washington and from 2012-2014 head of Saudi intelligence is quoted as revealing to the former british MI6 chief Richard Dearlove:

The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally “God help the Shia”. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them. — Prince Bandar bin Sultan, cited in Patrick Cockburn, “Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country“, The Independent, 13.07.2014.

The Sauds have mastered their approach of suppressing Jihadism within their state and effectively encouraging it abroad to use it as a force against anything Shia. The problem for the Sauds is that ISIS is so tempting to use. ISIS is politically anti-Assad and anti-Maliki (or its successor from the same party), and ideologically anti-Shia while also anti-Al-Qaida, the Islamist group active in Saudi-Arabia and the most feared internal threat to the House of Saud. ISIS hates too many of the same people the Sauds dislike. Thus, Gulf states proceed on this hybrid approach: Officially they are against all the extremist groups, Al-Qaida affiliated or ISIS affiliated, but their people are able to channel money to them. Essentially, the funding is coming from Saudi-Arabia and the other Gulf states, but is not of those states. Riyadh will not support Iraq under Maliki or a similar successor. For example, King Abdullah refused to meet his neighbor as he perceived him to be an Iranian agent.

Iran – The Shia Response
Iran’s calculations are pinned against US interests in the region as well as a mirror of the Saudi perception – same terms and thougths but diametrically opposed perception. Tehran wants to keep the own allies in power, especially now as it has invested heavily into both wars. The amount of fighting forces invested into Iraq is hard to estimate, but as already three Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members have died there, at least one, Colonel Kamal Shirkhani, in the Shia-holy city of Samarra, it can be assessed as substantial for a force officially not deployed. Furthermore, Iran has invested into local Shia militias that it now mobilized to fight for al-Assad and protect Shia sites in Syria, and more recently to secure Baghdad, Samarra and the surrounding areas. There are estimates of up to 20,000 militiamen in Iraq alone. Iran has not only diverted militias and resources from Syria, but actively put large military forces into play. Iranian tanks of the 81st division were seen crossing into Southern Kurdistan which could help the Kurds as mobile artillery in the fight against highly mobile ISIS forces.

This photo reportedly depicts an Iranian 81st Division M-60A1 in Khaneghein, Iraq (via social media).

This photo reportedly depicts an Iranian 81st Division M-60A1 in Khaneghein, Iraq (via social media).

In Iraq ISIS is a direct threat to Shia power, even intra-Shiite unit has suffered throughout the crisis. In Syria, again, the situation is more complex. Here, ISIS is one of many anti-Assad factions rivaling for power. It effectively triggered fighting among the armed opposition as well as within the Islamist camp by challenging the al-Nusra Front. Currently it cannot reach Damascus. Thus, it is far more useful and less dangerous in Syria than in Iraq. It would be more beneficial for Iran to take on ISIS in Syria only once the other factions have been weakened or defeated. There is another difference between Iraq and Syria according to Karim Sadjadpour from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

The Iranians have seemingly calculated that they cannot preserve their interests in Syria without Bashar Assad. They have not made those same calculations about Maliki. — Karim Sadjadpour cited in Babak Dehghanpisheh et al, “Iran’s elite Guards fighting in Iraq to push back Islamic State“, Reuters, 03.08.2014.

This reveals how broad Iranian influence in Iraq is. It can choose among different politicians, support different groups (Shia, Kurds, minorities), set up militias and directly intervene with ease. Iran will protect this power at much cost. ISIS, among other Sunni forces in the region is a threat to Iranian interests, but by far not the pivotal one. Iran will mostly rely on Iraqi and Kurdish forces to push back ISIS away from its borders and into Sunni areas in Syria (Ar-Raqqa, Deir Az-Zor), where in Iran’s view it can wreak havoc on Sunnis that have a different interpretation of Islam, the FSA and Al-Qaeda affiliates such as the al-Nusra Front.

Syria – Ground Zero of the Geopolitical Rivalry
Syria essentially follows Iran’s “enemy of my enemy-logic”. Additionally, al-Assad can present the looming threat of Islamists in the country and himself as the least among evils to choose from. All players involved must now ask themselves, what comes after al-Assad and how to make sure it is not ISIS that gains from the civil war. The other alternative is the Saudi and Turkey backed National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, but as argued before it has a strong MB core that the West is deliberately overlooking right now. The MB could be one of the best organized groups once the country enters the post-Assad phase. The notion of a “moderate” opposition is such a convenient lie told by the West to the West to allow at least one course of action. Moreover, within the civil war in Syria ISIS has effectively divided the armed opposition groups involuntarily aiding the Assad regime. Especially, ISIS is a counterforce to the Rojava-Kurds aspirations of autonomy which they cannot effectively achieve as long as they have to fight for their survival.

Al-Assad and ISIS, although at war, have at times come to cooperate. The oil fields ISIS controls would be useless if they could not sell it. The Assad regime buys some of the oil it needs back or allowed this oil to be sold at government controlled ports. Thus they are both entrapped in a mutually dependent war economy. This also explains the often alleged soft approach of the Assad regime against ISIS. Right now the Assad regime, ISIS and FSA are at war with each other. Whereas the regime and the FSA battle over the population rich centers in western Syria, including Aleppo and the regimes stronghold around Latakia, ISIS is still relatively far off east and has just conquered the last Syrian army base in the Ar-Raqqah Governorate. ISIS understands its guerilla tactics require infiltrating population rich areas before striking. Thus, it has advanced along the Euphrates and Tigris in Iraq and conquered parts of eastern Syria. It cannot directly move through the Syrian desert, where it is openly attackable by Assad forces.

Military Bases in Syria  and ISIS' advance in Eastern Syria along towns on Euphrates river (Source: Jennifer Cafarella, "ISIS works to merge its Northern front across Iraq and Syria", Institute for the Study of War, 09.08.2014).

Military Bases in Syria and ISIS’ advance in Eastern Syria along towns on Euphrates river (Source: Jennifer Cafarella, “ISIS works to merge its Northern front across Iraq and Syria“, Institute for the Study of War, 09.08.2014).

ISIS’ way to Damascus leads throug Aleppo, where it will reach the stonghold of the FSA and the center of gravity of the Syrian Army. Through this complex interplay of government and opposition forces the Assad regime currently does not focus its forces on ISIS. To retake Syria, Assad must secure Damascus and the surroundings, and after it took the Lebanese border regions last June (Battle of al-Qusayr) it must now conquer Aleppo. Now, with Al-Taqba Air base taken ISIS’ way towards Aleppo is free. If it continues its advance it will meet the main forces of the Syrian Army, the al-Nusra Front and the FSA in and around Aleppo, where the battle for Syria’s future might rage soon.

The Syrian Vice Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told The Guardian when asked why the Syrian regime seemingly spared ISIS:

I know the rumours,[... b]ut to those who claim that Syria is not doing its best to combat this group, I answer that if these extremists – Jabhat al-Nusra, the Free [Syrian] Army and Isis – are killing themselves and fighting for more influence and expansion, do you think we are sad? But the Syrian army has its priorities and we shall decide what to do next. — Syrian Vice Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad cited in Ian Black, “Bashar al-Assad is west’s ally against Isis extremists, says Syria“, The Guardian, 14.07.2014.

Assad’s priority is to survive and regain control of Syria. Taking Aleppo is his best chance. In order to do so, he must defeat the opposition on the battlefield and ISIS has had a role in his considerations. Al-Assad’s survival depends on how well he keeps his own forces together and how effectively he divides his opponents. Additionally, he tried to use the abhorrent violence of ISIS to break the international condemnation of his regime. His narrative is that he is the only one truely fighting religious extremism in the Middle East while Turkey and even the West implicitly support it right now. In sum, the regime in Damascus and ISIS are at war with each other. However, al-Assad sees ISIS as one of three major enemy groups and not as his sole threat. This more complex interplay of groups explains al-Assad’s alleged complicity with ISIS as a sheer military-political consideration of perception and balance of power within the Syrian civil war. ISIS still is not number one on his list.

ISIS is at war with everyone. It is everyones enemy, but seen through the lense of war for regional dominance potentially more dangerous to one’s enemy. Even Iran and Syria believe it is better to have Ar-Raqqa and Dair Az-Zor with oil, population and strategically important borders controlled by ISIS than see the larger factions of the al-Nusra Front, the Kurds or the FSA strengthened by these assets. After analyzing the states involved, part 3 will assesses the intra-Iraqi factions (Part 3 will follow in the next weeks).

Posted in English, International, Iran, Iraq, Sascha Bruchmann, Saudi Arabia, Security Policy, Syria, Terrorism | Leave a comment

PLA tries its hand at transparency

by Simon Hansen. He is an intern with ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre where he works on cybersecurity issues and China’s strategic challenges. This article was published there at first.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan in Beijing, China April 8, 2014.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan in Beijing, China April 8, 2014.

The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) military modernisation programs are often criticised for their lack of transparency, with commentators citing an increased risk of regional insecurity as capabilities expand in the shadows. But in China’s perspective, transparency doesn’t automatically drive strategic stability. Transparency can display strength if you have it, or expose weakness if you don’t. For rising powers like China, displaying cards that show a weakish—albeit strengthening—hand could invite adverse responses from strong states. A stronger player may want to undermine the PLA and hinder its effectiveness, if it judged its own future security was threatened.

So transparency represents a dilemma for China’s security planners: they want—perhaps begrudgingly—to show enough of their growing capabilities to limit suspicion and hardening attitudes against them, but not so much that they would risk revealing their vulnerabilities.

In recent months, the PLA has attempted to resolve that contradiction. At the end of the RIMPAC exercises, Zhao Xiaogang, drill director of the Chinese fleet said “the Navy has shown an image full of openness and confidence and deepened mutual understanding between countries”. At the Ministry of National Defence, the monthly press conference was open for the first time to foreign journalists. In April, the US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was granted his request to step onto the flight deck of the PLAN Liaoning. And, at the anniversary of the founding of the PLA in early August, China’s military schools were opened to international media for the first time.

At face value, there’s a genuine effort to show off China’s military. But at the same time, as one commentator suggested, “if the PLA is serious about transparency, it will have to do more than allow Chuck Hagel to tour its symbolic aircraft carrier”. These attempts reflect China’s dilemma: how do you display an attitude of transparency, without actual transparency? And, importantly, how do you avoid perceptions that you are feigning transparency in lieu of real openness?

There’s much China refuses to discuss, such as its disruptive technologies like nuclear missiles and cyber. In those areas, the PLA’s programs remain a black box. Gregory Kulacki at the Union of Concerned Scientists explains that China’s refusal to discuss the size and capabilities of its nuclear forces is due to the US pursuit of a missile shield, as that “undermines Chinese confidence in US assurances that greater Chinese transparency would not undermine Chinese security”. In cyber, the Obama administration held an extraordinary briefing for the Chinese military leadership in April on the Pentagon’s emerging cyber doctrine. China didn’t reciprocate, despite an expectation on the part of the US that it would do so.

President Xi Jinping of China and President Obama in March 2014 in The Hague. They discussed the issue of computer spying (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times).

President Xi Jinping of China and President Obama in March 2014 in The Hague. They discussed the issue of computer spying (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times).

China believes that transparency benefits stronger powers and undermines its own policy of deterrence. Therefore it judges that greater transparency isn’t necessarily in its interest. And that means the PLA is likely to continue only token efforts of transparency until it perceives that it gains more from actual transparency. Arguably, that trend may have already begun. Benjamin Schreer has argued that a shift is already underway and “strategic ambiguity” in China’s regional strategy is looking increasingly obsolete. Part of China’s coercion, says Schreer, is to display its power. In China, Yang Xiyu, a senior researcher with the China Institute of International Studies recently spoke on the Chinese program “Key Insights” about increased PLA transparency and China’s emerging strategic self-confidence.

Importantly, the PLA’s symbolic efforts at transparency are not necessarily discouraging. China wants a favourable, open international image without prejudice to its defence posture. There’s a middle ground between revealing capabilities that show weakness, and revealing nothing and thereby implying a more worrying posture. The PLA’s behaviour in recent months suggest it is willing to find compromises and that’s a good sign. Perhaps China’s coming to the conclusion that it benefits from being more open about its capabilities. If so, that trend would help regional defence planners adapt with more certainty.

In the short term, the region should expect more from China. China’s strong military power make a transparent approach more appropriate. And there has been a pattern in China’s current leadership that appears to show increased accountability. President Xi Jinping is at the forefront of an anti-graft campaign within the PLA – and China writ large – and has shown he is keen to macro-manage the military, using the National Security Commission, the Central Military Commission (a position China’s leaders naturally assume), and the new leading group for deepening reform on national defence and the military.

Minister for Defence David Johnston pointed out at the Shangri-La Dialogue that transparency is key to promoting regional peace and security. And while most states would ostensibly share that sentiment, the picture is incomplete. Transparency can work against rising powers, even as it works in favour of their neighbours and of stronger powers. China is playing its cards close to its chest. But Beijing also understands that its military growth concerns others, and that it can sometimes gain more from being more open.

Posted in China, English, International, Simon Hansen | Leave a comment

First of Chad’s MIG-29 Arrives In N’Djamena

Image 1: DG (03JUL14) N'Djamena airbase.

Image 1: DG (03JUL14) N’Djamena airbase.

Satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe on 03JUL14 shows the arrival of Chad’s first MIG-29 at N’Djamena airbase.

Over the last decade, Chad and Sudan have been engaged in a serious proxy war to support armed opposition groups in their respective countries. This support intensified near the end of 2005. Since then, both countries have attempted to bring the various warring parties back under control—though with little success.

Despite cooler heads prevailing, Chad continued with the acquisition of more advanced aircraft like the MIG-29 multirole fighter, especially since neighboring Sudan had already acquired the platform from Belarus in mid-2008. Sudan’s MIG-29 can be observed on imagery at the Wadi Sayedna air base where they were recently joined by three Su-24 ground attack aircraft, also delivered by Belarus.

News of Chad’s pending MIG-29 acquisition surfaced in April 2009 when President Idriss Déby was quoted by the Chadian website Tchadactuel:

No African country except Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa has the weapons that Chad has today. In addition to what I have today, I am trying to acquire others. As I speak, my little brother Umar Deby, accompanied by the chief-of-staff of the air force, is in Ukraine, negotiating the acquisition of three MiG-29s, pilots, mechanics, and ammunition (Source: Stijn Mitzer, “First Chadian MiG-29 seen in the air“, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, 29.05.2014).

Afterward, little else was heard regarding Chad’s plans – that was until recently. Oleg Volkov, posting on the plane-spotting website airliners.net in May, showed African watchers their first glimpse of an airborne MIG-29 painted in Chad’s camouflage scheme. Volkov tagged his photo’s location in Lviv, Ukraine suggesting that the Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant (or LDARZ) overhauled the MIG-29 for export.

Image 2: DG (06APR14) Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant.

Image 2: DG (06APR14) Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant..

Located in western Ukraine, LDARZ is one of country’s oldest aircraft repair plants with services for fourth generation aircraft like the MIG-29 going back to the early 1990s. While it is currently unknown what variant Chad ordered, LDARZ is capable of upgrading the platform to the MU1 (FULCRUM C) standard, a capability it reportedly acquired in 2005. The MU1 upgrade includes the SN-3307 GPS/GLONASS satellite navigation system, overhauled Klimov RD-33 engines, and an increased aerial targeting range. If the aircraft is the MU1 standard, a small blister should be visible on the aircraft’s spine where technicians would have installed additions to the navigation system. Future handhelds may provide more insight.

In the meantime, satellite imagery indicates the initial aircraft was overhauled by the LDARZ with aircraft in existing inventory. A review of historical imagery over the past couple of years has consistently shown 15 MIG-29 in open storage at the plant. The latest imagery from 06APR14 (image 2) shows one aircraft missing, suggesting it was in a maintenance hangar or out conducting test flights. Not surprising, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has consistently ranked Ukraine as one of the 10 largest exporters of major conventional weapons for most of its years since independence. According to SIPRIs trade registry, Chad’s air force had already received six Su-25 (Frogfoot) ground attack aircraft from Ukraine between 2008 and 2010. Imagery from 03JUL14 confirms that they are based at N’Djamena.

Image 3: DG (09NOV13) Su-25 Abéché.

Image 3: DG (09NOV13) Su-25 Abéché.

Interestingly, imagery from 03JUL14 (image 1) also shows two more Su-25 on the parking apron at N’Djamena. With the platform often deployed out to Abéché (image 3), it is unclear who delivered the additional aircraft and when they arrived—though Ukraine may be a possible candidate (The Evpatoria Aircraft Repair Plant located in the Crimea had not been taken over by Russia at the time of initially delivery). Luckily for us, the new Su-25 have a different color camouflage scheme than those previously sent, making them easy to track. Imagery first captured these aircraft on Google Earth back in September 2013 (Historical imagery from June 2013 did not show any additional Su-25). A further dig into historical imagery has shown up to four Su-25 with this different camo pattern, suggesting that Chad now has up to 10 of the aircraft. At least two are known to be the UB trainer variant delivered from Ukraine in 2008.

While some things are still fuzzy regarding Chad’s arms acquisitions, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Chad is one of those growing African countries always looking to acquire more advanced military equipment. While the utility to which that equipment can be employed is questionable, Chad appears to be reacting to a regional arms race dynamic that shows no signs of slowing.

Posted in Chad, Chris B, English, International, Security Policy, Sudan, Ukraine | Leave a comment

India’s Project Varsha Gets Underway

OSIMINT (24MAR14) India Project Varsha.

OSIMINT (24MAR14) India Project Varsha.

As India expands its naval fleet, it looks to build additional navy bases to berth new warships. Satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe of Rambilli, a location 50km southwest of India’s East Fleet HQ Vizag, shows recent construction activity to support India’s new builds.

Imagery from 2013 and 2014 reveals new underground entrances, additional perimeter fencing, and substantial land clearing activity. This and other satellite imagery would suggest that construction on the new facility started between 2012-2013, a time-frame that fits well with public reporting. The base first made big headlines back in late 2011 when over 2,000 displaced persons marched in agitation of the government’s seizure of their land to build the new facility.

Code-named Project Varsha, the base is being built to house India’s proposed fleet of 5-6 nuclear powered SSBNs, support India’s indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (currently under construction in Cochin) and a host of other warships. When it is complete, INS Varsha will be the largest of India’s naval infrastructure to date, eclipsing previously touted projects like INS Kadamba.

OSIMINT (10JAN14) Karwar with INS Vikramaditya.

OSIMINT (10JAN14) Karwar with INS Vikramaditya.

Formerly known as Project Seabird and located in Karwar, INS Kadamba supports India’s latest and single most expensive foreign acquisition, the Russian-built and refurbished INS Vikramaditya. According to Indian Navy public statements, Kadamba was built primarily to relieve the congestion of ships berthed at India’s West fleet HQ in Mumbai. Like Project Seabird before it, Project Varsha is planned to do the same for India’s East Fleet HQ.

Of course that may not be the only reason. China’s construction of the massive underground SSBN facility on Hainan Island which allows China to deploy SSBNs undetected may have played a role in India’s decision-making. Like Indian defense writer Ajai Shukla points out, India hopes to acquire a similar capability. Unfortunately for India that capability appears to be far off.

Public statements from Indian Navy Vice Admiral Satish Soni, head of Eastern Naval Command, suggest the base will not be complete for another 7-8 years. That should hopefully provide plenty of time for India’s engineers to work through the cost and time over-runs in constructing Vikrant and India’s other SSBNs. In the meantime, imagery from April 2014 still shows India’s first SSBN, INS Arihant, under cover at Vizag.

OSIMINT (22APR14) Project Varsha.

OSIMINT (22APR14) Project Varsha.

Posted in Chris B, English, India, International, Sea Powers, Security Policy | Leave a comment

Die Ursprünge der Drohnen und die deutsche Debatte um eine alte Waffe

von Seka Smith. Seka Smith ist Politikwissenschaftlerin, lebt in Berlin und arbeitet im Politikbereich. Für Offiziere.ch schreibt sie unter Pseudonym.

Drohnen sind aus der modernen Militärtechnik nicht mehr wegzudenken. Wo einstmals Piloten gefährliche Aufklärungs-, Patrouillien- und Kampfeinsätze flogen, übernehmen zunehmend unbemannte Flugsysteme diese Aufgaben. Doch wie modern uns diese Maschinen auch anmuten, liegen ihre Ursprünge mehr als 155 Jahre zurück.

Franz Freiherr von Uchatius

Franz Freiherr von Uchatius

Während des 1. Italienischen Unabhängigkeitskrieges kam es im Sommer 1849 zur Belagerung von Venedig. Durch die Insellage der Stadt war es für die österreichische Artillerie nicht möglich, Venedig direkt vom Festland aus zu beschießen. Auf Vorschlag des österreichischen Artillerieoffiziers und späteren Feldmarschalleutnants Franz Freiherr von Uchatius versuchte man mithilfe von Ballonbomben die Verteidiger der Stadt zur Kapitulation zu zwingen. Die Ballons waren mit Wasserstoff befüllt und wurden mit 15 kg Sprengstoff bestückt. Der Abwurf erfolgte durch das Abbrennen einer Zündschnur. Als Venedig schließlich am 2. August 1849 kapitulierte, hatte das österreichische Militär bis dato etwa 110 Ballonbomben gestartet, doch nur die wenigsten hatten ihre Ziele überhaupt erreicht und diese verursachten auch nur sehr geringen Schaden. Taktisch als nutzlos bewertet, verzichtete Österreich daraufhin auf den Einsatz der Ballonbomben. Damit hatte der erste, primitive, Drohneneinsatz seine Wirkung verfehlt.

Während des Ersten Weltkrieges begannen erste Experimente mit motorgetriebenen, unbemannten Flugapparaten, wie dem Aerial Target von Archibald Low und dem Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, die aber alle keine Fronttauglichkeit erreichten. Auch der Zweite Weltkrieg förderte die Entwicklung von unbemannten Flugsystemen: die Vergeltungswaffe 1 war der erste militärisch genutzte Marschflugkörper und das Aggregat 4 durchstieß als erstes aus Menschenhand konstruiertes Objekt die Kármán-Linie.

firebees

Doch erst die Ausbildung der amerikanischen Luftabwehrkräfte nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wurde zur Geburtsstunde moderner, unbemannter Drohnen. Ab 1951 flog die Ryan Firebee, die erste strahlgetriebene Drohne, zur Zieldarstellung im Dienste der US Air Force (USAF). Der Erfolg der Firebee und die Konfrontation mit der Sowjetunion führten 1959 zu eigenfinanzierten Analysen des Unternehmens Ryan Aeronautical, wie sich aus einer Zieldarstellungsdrohne ein Langstreckenaufklärungssystem entwickeln lassen könnte.

The only reason we need (UAVs) is that we don´t want to needlessly expend the man in the cockpit. — General George S. Brown (Air Force Systems Command), 1972 zitiert in William Wagner, “Lightning Bugs and other Reconnaissance Drones. The can-do story of Ryan´s unmanned spy planes” (Fallbrook: Armed Forces Journal International, 1982), 208.

Der Abschuss von Francis Gary Powers über sowjetischem Territorium am 1. Mai 1960 sowie zwei Monate später einer Boeing RB-47 in der Nähe der sowjetischen Grenze führten schließlich zur finanziellen Förderung der Ryan-Forschungen durch das Pentagon. Unter dem Projektnamen “Red Wagon” (Ryan Model 147) entstand die erste leistungsfähige Aufklärungsdrohne. Zwischenzeitlich sollte das Programm wieder aufgegeben werden, aber der Verlust einer U-2 über Kuba am 27. Oktober 1962 führte abermals die Notwendigkeit einer unbemannten Aufklärungsdrohne vor Augen.

Der Vietnamkrieg und Einsätze über China wurden schließlich zur Feuertaufe der amerikanischen Drohnen. Die USAF nutze die Ryan Firebee als “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs) zur fotografischen Gefechtsfeldaufklärung. Allein das 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing flog während des Krieges insgesamt 3’435 Aufklärungsmissionen, bei denen 554 Drohnen verloren ginge (William Wagner, “Lightning Bugs and other Reconnaissance Drones”, 200, 212). Was wiederum bedeutete, dass das Leben von mindestens 554 Piloten durch die USAF nicht riskiert werden musste.

[W]e let the drone do the high-risk flying […] the loss rate is high, but we are willing to risk more of them […] they save lives!General John C. Meyer (Strategic Air Command), 1972, zitiert in William Wagner, “Lightning Bugs and other Reconnaissance Drones”, 208.

Die Drohnen bewiesen ihren Nutzwert für die amerikanischen Streitkräfte und allmählich entwickelte sich aus den UAV eine bewaffnete Variante heraus – die unmanned combat aerial vehicles(UCAVs), die schließlich während des Kriegs in Afghanistan und der Operation Iraqi Freedom einen wichtigen Bestandteil des taktischen Einsatzkonzeptes bildeten.

Wurden Drohnen in den Anfangstagen ihrer Entwicklung dazu eingesetzt, selbständig ein Ziel anzusteuern und zu zerstören, wird diese Aufgabe heutzutage von Raketen resp. Marschflugkörpern erledigt. Den Begriff des unbemannten Flugsystems kann man vielfältig be- und umschreiben. Beispielsweise sehr weit fassend: “The term UAV is a very broad and encompasses vehicles such as cruise missiles (which can be described as single mission UAVs), target drones, and decoys [...] (Kumar Rajesh, “Tactical Reconnaissance. UAVs versus manned aircraft“, Air Command and Staff College, March 1997, 8). Oder eng definiert: U(C)AVs sind wiederverwertbare, ferngesteuerte oder autonom fliegende Systeme, die über Kommunikations- und Sensorensysteme zur Aufklärung sowie Waffensysteme zur punktuellen Bekämpfung von feindlichen Zielen tragen. Durch ihre hohe Reichweite und Verweildauer befähigen sie die Einsatzzentrale zur s.g. Zerstörung bei Bedarf.

Der ökonomische Nutzen von U(C)AVs
Feindliche Jäger, Flugabwehrstellungen, technisches und menschliches Versagen bergen bei bemannten Einsätzen das Risiko des Besatzungsverlustes. Das ist menschlich, aber auch ökonomisch tragisch, denn die Ausbildung eines Flugzeugführers dauert mehrere Jahre und ist teuer. Gegenwärtig betragen die Kosten einer militärischen Pilotenausbildung bei der USAF mindestens 2,6 Mio. US-Dollar, je nach Flugzeugmuster auch mehr als 6 Mio. US-Dollar. Die Ausbildung eines U(C)AV-Operators kostet hingegen circa 135’000 US-Dollar (Thomas Ricks, “Cutting the Pentagon budget: Get rid of officer pilots, let enlisted fly drones“, Foreign Policy, 15.09.2010) und auch das Gehalt ist deutlich niedriger als das eines USAF-Pilote (Erik Bartos and Asad Hussain, “Boeing: Cleared for takeoff. Transforming military might to an emerging civilian market” Ivey Business Review, Spring 2013, 40). Ähnliche ökonomische Differenzen ergeben sich bei den Anschaffungskosten der Flugsysteme (“Top 10 Kampfflugzeuge nach Kosten in Millionen Euro“, Statista, 2014; “Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 President’s Budget Submission: Aircraft Procurement“, February 2012 and “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“, United States Government Accountability Office, March 2013):

Bemanntes System Stückkosten
B-2 Spirit 1000 Mio. Euro
F-22 Raptor 141 Mio. Euro
F-15 Eagle 105 Mio. Euro
Unbemanntes System Stückkosten
RQ-4 Global Hawk 75 Mio. Euro
MQ-9 Reaper 13 Mio. Euro
MQ-1 Predator 3 Mio. Euro

Drohnen benötigen keine zusätzlichen Lebenserhaltungs- und Steuerungssysteme für einen Piloten oder weitere Besatzungsmitglieder. Die Verweildauer am Einsatzort orientiert sich also nicht mehr an der Leistungsfähigkeit der Flugzeugbesatzung. Somit sind 24 h-Einsätze möglich. Auch das Gewicht und die Abmessungen des Flugsystems sind geringer und damit die Kosten einer Flugstunde.

Die deutsche Drohnen-Debatte
Die Beschaffung von bewaffneten Drohnen wird in Deutschland hitzig diskutiert, sei es die Frage um die militärische Notwendigkeit, die Kosten oder die Frage, ob es moralisch überhaupt zu rechtfertigen ist, eine Drohne im Krieg einzusetzen. Letztlich begegnet man aber in der Diskussion vier immer wiederkehrenden Annahmen:

  1. Drohnen sind etwas Neuartiges in der Bundeswehr: Falsch – Drohnen werden seit langem von der Bundeswehr genutzt. Zwar sind diese unbewaffnet, aber längst im Einsatz, wie z.B. Aladin, Heron, KZO, Luna, Mikado und bis 2009 CL-289.
  2. Drohnen sind “Killerroboter”: Falsch – die zu beschaffenden Drohnen sind keine vollautomatischen Waffen, die feindliche Ziele selbständig identifizieren und ohne menschlichen Einsatzbefehl zerstören. Dieses Fehlinterpretation kritisierte bereits Generalleutnant Hans-Werner Fritz, Befehlshaber des Einsatzführungskommandos der Bundeswehr in Potsdam, in seinem Sachverständigenvortrag im Verteidigungsausschuss des Bundestages (Deutscher Bundestag, “Stenografisches Protokoll der 16. Sitzung des Verteidigungsausschusses“, Sachverständigenberichte zum Thema bewaffnete Drohnen, 30.06.2014, 18-19).
  3. Drohnen lassen sich moralisch nicht rechtfertigen: Die moralische Frage nach dem Einsatz von Drohnen stellt sich überhaupt nicht. Waffen töten Menschen. Das ist eine grundlegende Eigenschaft dieser “Werkzeuge”. Will man eine moralische Diskussion führen, muss sie an einem gänzlich anderen Punkt anknüpfen und zwar, ob und wenn ja, wie Kriege geführt werden sollen. Ob es einen (un-) gerechten Krieg geben kann und des Weiteren inwieweit Deutschland bereit ist Menschen vor systematischen Kriegsverbrechen zu schützen (Responsibility to Protect).
  4. Der Einsatz von bewaffneten Drohnen senkt die Hemmschwelle zum Töten: Der Waffeneinsatz eines UCAV erfordert immer das Kommando des Operators oder des befehlshabenden Offiziers. Ob der Feind durch einen Messerstich, eine Pistolenkugel oder letztlich durch eine von einer Drohne abgefeuerten Rakete stirbt, macht die Last der Verantwortung nicht unpersönlicher. Man hat getötet (vgl. dazu Jean Otto und Bryant Webber, “Mental health diagnoses and counseling among of pilots of remotely piloted aircraft in the United States Air Force“, Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, Vol. 20, No. 3, March 2013: 3-8). Dieser Debattenpunkt verhält sich ähnlich zur einstigen Ächtung der Armbrust wegen ihrer Reichweite und Durschlagskraft auf dem Zweiten Laterankonzil (1193, Canon 29) durch Papst Innozenz II. Jochen Bittner, Europakorrespondent der ZEIT hat diesen Kritikpunkt bestens auf den Punkt gebracht:

Wer der Bundeswehr einen solchen Schutz vorenthalten will, wer glaubt, mit solchen Neuerungen werde die Hemmschwelle für Einsätze gesenkt, der plädiere bitte auch dafür, die Panzerung von Patrouillenfahrzeugen abzuschrauben. Die senkt nämlich auch die Hemmschwelle zum Ausrücken. Zutreffen dürfte eine Hemmschwellenwirkung eher in die andere Richtung: Aufseiten der Angreifer wird sie steigen. — Jochen Bittner, “Brauchen wir Drohnen?“, ZEIT Online, 17.02.2013.

Fakt ist, Drohnen schützen das Leben von Bundeswehrsoldaten, sei es durch Aufklärung oder durch den (zukünftigen) Einsatz ihrer Bordwaffen. Entschließt sich ein Feind zum Krieg, ist er bereit zum Töten. Die Ausübung militärischer Gewalt ist dabei ein Selbstzweck. Emphatie ist in dieser Situation fehl am Platz, ebenso die idealisierte Vorstellung eines auf allen Ebenen fairen Duells. In der Realität wird man jede Schwäche des anderen zum eigenen Vorteil ausnutzen. Alles andere kostet nur unnötig Leben.

 

Übersicht gegenwärtiger und zukünftiger Drohnen (Auswahl)

General Atomics MQ-1B Predator (USA)

MQ1B

Kennwert Daten
Länge 8,23 m
Höhe 2,10 m
Spannweite 14,84 m
Max. Startgewicht 1’020 kg
Höchstgeschwindigkeit 222 km/h
Dienstgipfelhöhe 7.620 m
Reichweite 3.704 km
Einsatzprofil Seit 1995 im Einsatz bei den amerikanischen Streitkräften. Zählt zum wichtigsten US-Bestandteil der taktischen Luftaufklärung.

 
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (USA)

Reaper

Kennwert Daten
Länge 10,97 m
Höhe 3,80 m
Spannweite 20,12 m
Max. Startgewicht 4’763 kg
Höchstgeschwindigkeit 482 km/h
Dienstgipfelhöhe 15’400 m
Reichweite 1’852 km
Einsatzprofil Aus der MQ-1 als reiner UCAV entwickelt. 2008 begannen F-16 Piloten mit der Umschulung auf den Reaper und formierten die erste UCAV-Attack Squadron der USAF.

 
Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk (USA)

GlobalHawk

Kennwert Daten
Länge 14,50 m
Höhe 4,63 m
Spannweite 39,89 m
Max. Startgewicht 14’628 kg
Höchstgeschwindigkeit 637 km/h
Dienstgipfelhöhe 19’811 m
Reichweite 22’780 km
Einsatzprofil Höhenaufklärungsdrohne mit hoher Reichweite. Global Hawk ermöglicht die tägliche Überwachung eines Gebiets von ca. 100.000 km2. 2013 kam es in Deutschland zur Euro Hawk-Affäre. Der Bundesrechnungshof stellte ein folgenschweres Organisationsversagen der Bundeswehr bei der Beschaffung der Drohne fest.

 
EADS Barracuda (Deutschland / Spanien)

Baracuda

Kennwert Daten
Länge 8,25 m
Höhe kA
Spannweite 7,22 m
Max. Startgewicht 3’250 kg
Höchstgeschwindigkeit 902 km/h
Dienstgipfelhöhe 6’100 m
Reichweite 200 km
Einsatzprofil UCAV-Technologiedemonstrator. Erstflug im April 2006. Nach dem Absturz des ersten Prototypen im September 2006 wurde ein zweiter gebaut und für weitere Tests verwendet.

 
Dassault nEUROn (Frankreich / Schweden / Schweiz / Italien / Griechenland / Spanien)

neuron

Kennwert Daten
Länge 9,5 m
Höhe kA
Spannweite 12,5 m
Max. Startgewicht kA
Höchstgeschwindigkeit 980 m/h
Dienstgipfelhöhe 14’000 m
Reichweite kA
Einsatzprofil UCAV-Technologiedemonstrator auf Stealh-Basis. Insgesamt wurden nEUROn 405 Mio. Euro an Forschungsgeldern zur Verfügung gestellt. Der Erstflug erfolgte am 1. Dezember 2012.

 

Weiterführende Literatur

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Fotos/Bilder: Teledyne Ryan, USAF (Tech. Sgt. Sabrina Johnson), USAF (Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.), USAF (John Schwab), Barracuda (Jean-Patrick Donzey, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license), Dassault Aviation (K. Tokunaga).

Posted in History, I robot, International, Seka Smith, Technology | 4 Comments

Sea Control 50 – Japan’s Defense Policy

In December 2013, Japan published its first National Security Strategy and established a National Security Council (NSC), which has its own national security advisor to the Prime Minister. The NSC is staffed by around 60 officials from the Foreign and Defense ministries. Proponent of these changes argues that regarding the security-political development in the region, Japan finally takes its responsibilities seriously (see also Peter Layton, “Japan’s first National Security Strategy“, The Strategist, 15.01.2014). Critics raise concerns that Japan could return to its militarist past. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s bold move in visiting Yasukuni shrine, on the anniversary of his first year in office didn’t really help to dissipate these concerns (see also J. Berkshire Miller, “How Will Japan’s New NSC Work?“, The Diplomat, 29.01.2014).

In the 50th episode of Sea Control, Natalie Sambhi, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), talks with Dr. Tomohiko Satake, a fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo and visiting fellow at ASPI, and Dr. Benjamin Schreer, a senior analyst in defence strategy at ASPI about the reinterpretation of the Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, which allows Japan to exercise the right of “collective self defense”.

(1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized. — Article 9 of Japan’s constitution.

Both analysts discuss the drivers behind this reinterpretation, the implications of Japan’s new white paper, and relations with China and Australia.

 
Listen to episode #50 immediately

 
Latest: Episode #50 – Archive: all episodes – Don’t miss any future episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

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CIMSECThe Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank. It was formed in 2012 to bring together forward-thinkers from a variety of fields to examine the capabilities, threats, hotspots, and opportunities for security in the maritime domain. Check out the NextWar blog to join the discussion. CIMSEC encourages a diversity of views and is currently accepting membership applications here.

Posted in English, General Knowledge, Japan, Sea Control, Security Policy | Leave a comment