Robot Guns Guard the Borders of Some Countries, and More Might Follow Their Lead

by Darien Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh is a contributor for War is Boring and Reverb Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for Auntie Bellum

In 2007 Israel began deploying remote-operated sentry guns along the border fence separating it from the Gaza Strip. That same year South Korea announced it had plans to install sentry guns along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the no-man’s-land dividing it from North Korea. Those plans were delayed for a few years, but North Korea did begin using sentry guns along the DMZ in 2010. The use of these remote-operated weapons systems has stirred some controversy, and it’s also proved to be lethally effective.

The Common Remotely Operated Weapons System (CROWS) attached to an M-2 .50-caliber machine gun without the barrel mounted at the F Company, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) company area April 7 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense.

The Common Remotely Operated Weapons System (CROWS) attached to an M-2 .50-caliber machine gun without the barrel mounted at the F Company, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) company area April 7 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense.

From Remote Weapon System to Sentry
Most sentry guns currently on the market are basically adaptations of remote weapon stations (RWSs) like Kongsberg’s Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) and Rafael’s Samson. CROWS and Samsons can be outfitted with an array of machine guns, such as the M249, M240, M2, MK-19, MK-47, M134 and the M230LF, as well as automatic grenade launchers and hard- or soft-launch missiles like the Griffin, Javelin, Stinger and TOW. They can also be equipped with non-lethal weapons like smoke grenade launchers and laser warning systems.

RWSs are highly versatile and can be used on naval ships or fixed platforms on land, such as pillboxes or towers. They’re also mounted to Humvees, Strikers, Pandurs and numerous other vehicles. RWS are currently in common use, in one form or another, by the U.S. military and those of dozens of other countries.

The primary benefit of an RWS is that it allows operators to survey the terrain around them, recognize potential threats, and target and engage verified enemies while remaining within the relative security of a pillbox or armored vehicle rather than being exposed in an turret.

Visual information is fed to the operator via cameras, infrared sensors, thermal imagers, laser range finders or other sensors mounted with the system. The operator monitors the information on a screen and reacts, if necessary, using a control panel. Such systems have been referred to, sometimes derogatorily, as “a video game with real guns“.

As a report from Defense Industry Daily noted, the success of localized RWS raised an obvious question: “Why does the operator have to be so close?” For Israel and South Korea at least, the answer was “no reason at all.” The main difference between RWS and the sentries deployed by Israel and South Korea is simply a matter of distance. With most RWS, the operator is only a few feet away from the weapon system they control and within firing range of the enemy. The people operating the robotic guns like those guarding the Gaza fence and the DMZ are sometimes several hundred yards away. They’re basically using RWS with extension cords.

Israel Led the Way in Deploying Automated Sentry Guns Along Borders
Israel began constructing a security fence around Gaza in 1994, soon after the signing of the Oslo I Accord in September of 1993. The fence itself greatly reduced the number of attacks in Israel by members of Hamas and other militant organizations. However, attempts to infiltrate the border, by militants and civilians, continued—with periods of great frequency.

When Israel unilaterally withdrew its forces and settlers from Gaza in 2005, it gave Palestinian militants greater mobility within the territory. The fence became the only physical line of defense between Gaza and Israel. It was susceptible to breaches and militants could easily fire rockets over it and send sniper rounds through it. Instead of sending its soldiers out on patrol in a hostile territory, Israel chose to keep them in reserve on their side of the fence and turn to new technology to help deter attacks.

The new technology included the automated Sentry Tech weapons system, a modified version of the Samson RWS manufactured by the Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mounted Sentry Techs armed with .50 cal/12.7mm machine guns to hardened towers every few kilometers along the length of 60-meter Gaza fence. Retractable domes on top of the towers conceal and protect the sentries when they are not in use.

The sentry towers are linked together and connected to a command center by fiber optics. From there, operators — who are exclusively female IDF soldiers aged 19 to 20can draw information from cameras, long range electro-optical sensors, ground sensors, manned aircraft, and overhead drones, as well as radar. Women operate the sentry guns in order to avoid the cultural “taboo” of risking their lives in combat (see also the video below).

Though operating the systems has been compared to playing a video game, it is no easy task. It presents considerable intellectual, psychological, and ethical challenges. “From the advanced surveillance equipment in the operations room, each woman gains up-close knowledge of a certain block of land along the fence,” Anshel Pfeffer reports for Haaretz . “She also learns to recognize the Palestinians who live and visit there, and she must be able to distinguish between who is an innocent civilian and who, by their gait and what they are carrying, might be a terrorist.” That’s a lot to expect from a 19 year old.

“It’s very alluring to be the one to do this. But not everyone wants this job,” said one operator stationed at the Kissufim base on the Gaza border. “It’s no simple matter to take up a joystick like that of a Sony PlayStation and kill, but ultimately it’s for defense.”

To help avoid hasty decisions that could be a matter of life and death, a second person is required to authorize a kill. A battalion commander determines whether or not to authorize to fire on a suspected militant. The procedure to authorize a kill is supposedly “complex,” but nevertheless takes less than two minutes to carry out.

There are other options for the operators. Sometimes an order is given to fire warning shots or merely open the tower dome to expose the sentry gun in order to scare off anyone in the area who might pose a threat. As one operator explained, “The Palestinians have already learned what to expect afterward.”

For better or worse, the sentries effectively establish a nearly 1,500-meter-deep no-go zone around Gaza. And that distance might expand soon. In the past the IDF Southern Command has considered adding Gill or Spike anti-tank missiles to extend the no-go zones to several kilometers, which would substantially increase the range and lethality of its Sentry Tech system.

South Korea Has Deployed at Least Two Automated Sentry Guns Along the DMZ
The DMZ separating North Korea from South Korea is a sprawling, 2.5-mile wide no-man’s-land of barbed wire and minefields that stretches coast to coast across the peninsula, running roughly along the 38th parallel. Manned guard posts speckle both sides of the DMZ.

Despite the facts that the DMZ is intimidating to cross and that the two Koreas have not fought since the armistice of 1953, tensions often still run high for those tasked with securing the area. North Korea may be impoverished and its weaponry antiquated, but it still commands a formidable military headed by an impulsive dictator.

Patrolling a border as long as the DMZ is an expensive and labor intensive proposition. Perhaps taking a cue from Israel, South Korea announced plans to deploy sentry guns along the DMZ back in 2007. Those plans were delayed and Seoul didn’t actually do so until 2010, when the military installed two Samsung Techwin SGR-1s at a “central sector” of the DMZ on a “trial basis.” Samsung Techwin, formerly the security branch of Samsung Electronics, has since become part of the South Korean Hanwha conglomerate.

The SGR-1s cost $200,000 each and are remote-operated sentries equipped with cameras, radar systems, and heat and motion sensors. They can issue verbal warnings and commands via audio and video. If they must engage a perceived threat, they do so with 5.5-millimeter machine guns and 40-millimeter automatic grenade launchers (see also the video below).

If introduced more broadly, the weapons could reduce the number of soldiers needed to patrol the DMZ and cut down on human error. “Human soldiers can easily fall asleep or allow for the depreciation of their concentration over time,” Huh Kwang-hak, a Techwin spokesman, told Stars and Stripes in 2010. “But these robots have automatic surveillance, which doesn’t leave room for anything resembling human laziness. They also won’t have any fear (of) enemy attackers on the front lines.”

If Seoul does opt to expand its robot sentry force, the SGR-1 has some competition. Last year South Korean defense firm DoDaam Systems started pushing harder for its Super aEgis II to be introduced to the DMZ as well. The BBC described the Super aEgis II, first introduced in 2010, as “one of a new breed of automated weapon, able to identify, track and destroy a moving target from a great distance, theoretically without human intervention.”

DoDaam refers to the Super aEgis II as a “Total Security Solution.” The automated system can target and fire on a threat at a distance of 3 kilometers (1.8 miles). It uses a 35x CCD color camera, a dual field of view FLIR camera, and a laser range finder as sensors. It is capable of operating in low light and and can even identify a human target at distances up to 2.2km in complete darkness.

The Super aEgis II throwing fire down range. Image: YouTube/DoDAAM promotional video.

The Super aEgis II throwing fire down range. Image: YouTube/DoDAAM promotional video.

As with many traditional RWS, the Super aEgis II is highly versatile in terms of the weapons it can be fitted with. A 12.7mm machine-gun is standard, but the system is compatible with most weapons in the South Korean arsenal, including grenade launchers and surface-to-air missiles. It offers both a fully automatic mode, in which it can target and fire on humans without being commanded by an operator, or in “slave mode,” which requires a human operator to fire the weapon.

Despite all its features, the Super aEgis II it might be a tough sale. There are restrictions on the amount and types of weaponry that can be deployed along the DMZ, so it remains to be seen whether or not South Korea will deploy more robot sentries there. The Super eAgis II is also expensive, with each integrated defense system costing more than $40m apiece. That probably won’t help DoDaam’s case.

If the North decided to launch a full-scale assault, it’s doubtful whether or not the automated sentries would be much help anyway. “Stationary light-machinegun posts would be easily taken out by company or battalion-level weapons–let alone tanks, artillery, or air support,” one writer noted when South Korea first acquired the SGR-1s. “The SGR-1 would be useful principally as a sacrificial tripwire in the context of full-on combat, rather than as a warfighting system.”

Things Could Get Scary In The Not So Distant Future
The sentry guns being used by Israel and South Korea employ only machine guns as lethal weapons and are operated by humans, for now. As previously mentioned, however, they are capable of incorporating additional weaponry and being switched to a fully-automated mode.

In fact, when Israel first introduced Sentry Tech weapons to the Gaza fence, the idea was to ultimately have a “closed-loop” system that required no human intervention. In this scenario, the weapons themselves would spot a potential threat, assess it, and then determine whether or not to engage. The IDF appears to be waiting until commanders are satisfied the system can effectively and consistently distinguish between civilians and combatants before making the move to fully-automated.

The SGR-1 also has an automated mode that allows it to fire on perceived threats without an operator. It is even capable of verbally commanding a potential enemy to surrender and recognizing a person raising his arms as a sign of surrender. The Super aEgis II can theoretically act without human command as well.

Staring down the barrel of the Super aEgis II. Image: YouTube/DoDAAM promotional video.

Staring down the barrel of the Super aEgis II. Image: YouTube/DoDAAM promotional video.

This raises some serious concerns. At the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, delegates met for a panel hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (CSKR) to discuss the future of automated weapons systems and their potential risks.

Sir Roger Carr, chair of BAE Systems, a global leader of security and aerospace development, warned that fully automated weapons systems would be “devoid of responsibility” and have “no emotion or sense of mercy. […] If you remove ethics and judgement and morality from human endeavour whether it is in peace or war, you will take humanity to another level which is beyond our comprehension,” Carr said.

The discussion in Davos came in response to a recent open letter authored by CSKR calling for a ban on “killer robots.” Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and more than 3,000 other leaders in the fields of science and robotics signed the letter.

If history is any indicator, their concern may be justified. The Sentry Techs guarding the Gaza fence have already proven lethal, even with their human operators controlling them. In December of 2009 two Palestinians were killed and a third was wounded. In March of 2010 another Palestinian was killed and four more wounded.

Israel claims that only militants are targeted by the weapons, but Humans Rights Watch and other organizations have criticized the program, questioning whether or not some of those killed or wounded were innocent civilians attempting to harvest crops from farmlands in the area.

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, reports that “at least 284 Palestinians near the Gaza Strip perimeter fence. At least 117 of the fatalities were civilians (including twenty-three minors) who were not taking part in the hostilities.”

It’s difficult to determine how many Palestinians have been shot or killed by the sentry guns. Accounts vary by source. On the high end, it’s estimated that “dozens” of Palestinians have been “hit” by the weapons.

These shootings have occurred while procedures have been in place to require not one but two humans—an operator and a battalion-level commander—to confirm that a target is a threat. These individuals have the options of firing warning shots or simply leveling the guns at potential threats to scare them away. Without human operators, these options, which could potentially save lives, might not be in play. Considering that humans will program any automated systems to determine when to shoot and when not to, a good deal of the ethical weight of engagement would fall back on human shoulders anyway. That’s where the true problem may lie.

“For use on the DMZ, the sentry bot doesn’t need to distinguish friend from foe,” reads a report on the SGR-1 from Global Security. “When someone crosses the line, they are automatically an enemy.”

Some in the IDF command share a similar sentiment regarding the area around the Gaza fence. “Nobody has any business approaching our border fence,” said one unnamed Israeli official when questions were first raised about Sentry Tech. “It’s well-understood that this area is off-limits, and this new technology will make it easier for us to prevent the next kidnapping or terror event.”

If these perspectives prevail, and certain areas are considered “kill zones” by the humans who program the automated weapons systems guarding them, then the future of robotic weaponry could truly be frightening.

In the meantime, one thing is certain: Robotic warfare is going to play an increasing role in conflict. DoDAAM claims to have sold more than 30 Super aEgis II units, primarily to countries throughout the Middle East. The system is being used at three air bases in the United Arab Emirates, the Royal Palace in Abu Dhabi, an armory in Qatar, and “numerous other unspecified airports, power plants, pipelines and military airbases elsewhere in the world.”

There are also over 30 countries currently using human-supervised autonomous weapons, such as the Phalanx Close in Weapon System (CIWS), as a last line of defense against missiles and rockets. The US, UK, China, Israel, South Korea and Russia, currently developing automated weapons systems like Sentry Tech capable of identifying firing on targets without a human operator.

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Nigeria will die Größe seiner Armee verdoppeln

Nigerianische Soldaten bei einer Übung

Nigerianische Soldaten bei einer Übung

In einer Rede am National Defense College in Abuja verkündete der Oberbefehlshaber der nigerianischen Armee, Generalmajor Tukur Yusuf Buratai, dass der Personalbestand der nigerianischen Armee um 100’000 Angehörige aufgestockt werden soll. Damit würde sich die Truppenstärke in den nächsten acht Jahren auf 200’000 Soldaten verdoppeln.

Mit der Umsetzung wird es das zweite Mal in der Geschichte Nigerias sein, dass die Armee eine Stärke von mehr als 200’000 Soldaten erreicht. In den meisten Länder wäre eine solche Ankündigung ein Politikum, welches von den Medien zerpflückt, von Kritikern und Experten beurteilt sowie von Politikern diskutiert würde. Nicht aber in Nigeria — einzig die erste Berichterstattung über die Ankündigung wurde in mehreren Zeitungen aufgegriffen. Das Fehlen einer kritische Debatte über eine solche Entscheidung spricht dabei Bände über die fortlaufenden Spannungen zwischen dem Militär und den demokratischen Institutionen in Nigeria.

In den 1960er-Jahren, nach Erreichen der Unabhängigkeit, beschäftigten die nigerianischen Streitkräfte 18’000 Soldaten. Gleich danach blähte sich die Armee jedoch im Zuge des Biafra-Krieg von 1967-1970 auf 200’000 Soldaten auf. Mit der Rückkehr zu einer zivilen Regierung in den 1990ern fiel diese Zahl zurück auf weniger als 100’000 Soldaten, von denen die meisten als einfache Bodenstreitkräfte fungierten. Lediglich ca. 25’000 Soldaten wurden tatsächlich ausgerüstet und für Kampfeinsätze trainiert, was in gewisser Weise auch erklärt, warum der Konflikt mit Boko Haram so schnell aus dem Ruder laufen konnte. Die kaum trainierten und zum größten Teil aus gering qualifizierten Soldaten bestehenden Einheiten stellten über Jahrzehnte eine Gefahr für die demokratischen Institutionen und die gewählten Regierungen dar.

Es gibt ohne Zweifel gute Argumente für eine Aufstockung der nigerianischen Streitkräfte. Im Moment leistet sich Nigeria eine Armee, die in ihrer Truppenstärke vergleichbar ist mit den Bodentruppen Deutschlands (Heer und Streitkräftebasis zusammengenommen) – obwohl Nigeria bei Weitem existentiellere Sicherheitsprobleme hat. Zusätzlich zu den Aufständischen von Boko Haram, die über militärische Ausrüstung verfügen, gibt es nach wie vor die konstante Bedrohung erneuter Gewalt im Nigerdelta. Als Folge mangelnder Ausrüstung und genereller Inkompetenz ist die nigerianische Armee dabei in der Vergangenheit immer wieder von Söldnergruppen abhängig gewesen.

Aus historischer Perspektive hat Nigeria immer auch eine aktive Rolle für die Sicherheit der gesamten Region gespielt. In den 1990ern stellte Nigeria einen großen Teil der Friedenstruppen in Sierra Leone und Liberia. Seit 2013 wurden jedoch die meisten dieser Einheiten zurückgezogen, um sich den Herausforderungen im eigenen Land zuzuwenden.

Korruption im staatlichen Verteidigungsbereich (A = Very low; B = Low; C = Moderate; D = High; E = Very high; F = Critical).

Korruption im staatlichen Verteidigungsbereich (A = Very low; B = Low; C = Moderate; D = High; E = Very high; F = Critical).

Auch wenn die radikale Vergrößerung der Armee zahlenmäßig durchaus Sinn ergibt, sie beinhaltet gleichzeitig substantielle Risiken und lässt viele Fragen offen. Zum Einen hat das Militär in Nigeria einen generell schlechten Ruf. Eine Untersuchung der Anti-Korruptions-NGO Transparency International kam zum Schluss, dass der Verteidigungssektor in Nigeria ein sehr hohes Risiko für Korruption aufweist. Die Organisation verweist auf militärischen Raub an Zivilisten und staatlichen Einrichtungen, einen Mangel an Integrität der bewaffneten Streifkräfte und ein reelles Fehlen von ziviler Kontrolle über den Verteidigungs- und Sicherheitssektor.

Während der kürzlich gewählte nigerianische Präsident Muhammadu Buhari die Bekämpfung der Korruption als sein oberstes Ziel ausgeschrieben hat, braucht er die Armee dringend für sein zweites großes Wahlkampfversprechen: die Beendigung des Boko Haram Aufstands. Es ist deshalb zweifelhaft, dass er das militärische Establishment zu sehr unter Druck setzen wird, die Korruption bald zu beenden. Die in den letzten Wochen durch Buhari der Korruption beschuldigten Offiziere sind allesamt der Administration seines Vorgängers Goodluck Jonathan zuzurechnen und wurden schon kurz nach Buharis Amtsantritt von ihren Posten entfernt.

Zunächst einmal wird die militärische Expansion eine Menge Geld kosten. Im Haushalt für 2016 sind $2,2 Milliarden für das Verteidigungsministerium vorgesehen, die Kosten für Renten und Entschädigungen im Todesfall noch nicht mit eingerechnet. Das sind mehr als 7 Prozent des gesamten Regierungsetats. Die Armee zu verdoppeln bedeutet die laufenden Kosten substantiell anzuheben. Auch die Beschaffung neuen Geräts für die größere Truppe wird Milliardenbeträge verschlingen. Negativer Nebeneffekt: Jegliche Mehrausgaben für das Militär reduzieren gleichzeitig die Möglichkeiten des Staates in die Schaffung von Arbeitsplätzen und Wirtschaftswachstum zu investieren — und schicken das Land in eine Schuldenspirale.

Dieser hohe Finanzierungsbedarf kommt zu einem Zeitpunkt, in dem Nigeria eine echte Einnahmekrise erlebt. Der Handel mit Erdöl macht derzeit 90 Prozent der nigerianischen Exporteinnahmen aus und damit den Löwenanteil der gesamten Staatseinnahmen. Doch der Erdölpreis befindet sich im Keller. Die Planungen für den Haushalt 2016 gehen von einem Preis von $38 für einen Barrel Öl aus, was bereits die unrealistische Kalkulation von $53 pro Barrel aus dem letzten Jahr korrigiert (für den aktuellen Ölpreis siehe hier).

Die Regierung setzt auf umfangreiche Mehreinnahmen durch die Rückführung von Geldern, die unter den bisherigen Regierungen “verloren gegangen” sind. Korrupte Offizielle ließen unter dem vorherigen Präsidenten eine unglaubliche Summe von $6,8 Milliarden außer Landes bringen. Doch selbst wenn jeder einzelne Cent dieser verschwundenen Gelder den Weg zurück in die Taschen der Regierung finden würde (ohne dabei wieder veruntreut zu werden), würde die Summe nicht ausreichen um langfristig Militärausgaben und Investitionen in wirtschaftliches Wachstum zu erhöhen.

Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue, commander, U.S. Army Africa, reviews the Quarter Guard at the Nigerian National Defense College, an equivalent to the U.S. Army War College, before speaking to the current class of students (photo: Joanna Desmond / U.S. Army).

Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue, commander, U.S. Army Africa, reviews the Quarter Guard at the Nigerian National Defense College, an equivalent to the U.S. Army War College, before speaking to the current class of students (photo: Joanna Desmond / U.S. Army).

Und das ist noch nicht einmal das größte Problem. Bis jetzt hat das Militär nicht einmal eine Schätzung darüber veröffentlicht, was ein Anstieg der Truppenstärke für Kosten verursachen könnte. Von der Aufstellung zweier neuer Divisionen abgesehen, hat die militärische Führung keinerlei Details genannt, wie die zusätzlichen Soldaten trainiert, ausgerüstet und eingesetzt werden sollen.

Zwar hat sich Nigeria eine offizielle Verteidigungsstrategie gegeben. Doch diese wurde 2010 verfasst, bevor der Konflikt mit Boko Haram sein heutiges Ausmass erreicht hat und islamischer Terrorismus in der Region allgemein zur großen Bedrohung wurde. In jedem Fall sind diese Dokumente nicht öffentlich zugänglich. Wir können also nicht darüber urteilen, inwieweit diese Strategie Möglichkeiten bietet, den neuen Aufgaben gerecht zu werden.

Genau das zeigt das fundamentale Problem in der Beziehung zwischen Militär und Politik in Nigeria. Nach Aussage des nigerianischen Bloggers und Sicherheitsexperten Fulan Nasrullah hat das Militär die Entscheidungen über die Erhöhung der Truppenstärke getroffen, ohne die politische Führung zu konsultieren. “Soweit ich weiß wurde dem Präsident kein Dokument zur Bewilligung oder Verabschiedung übermittelt”, erklärt Nasrullah gegenüber Offiziere.ch. Und das wäre noch nicht einmal außergewöhnlich. Als im letzten Jahr der Konflikt zwischen dem Militär und einer lokalen Shia-Sekte eskalierte und mehr als 300 Menschen getötet wurden (darunter auch zahlreiche unbewaffnete Zivilisten), wurde der Präsident ebenfalls nicht vorher konsultiert.

Doch nach Aussagen Nasrullahs sind sogar innerhalb von Militärkreisen kaum Details über das ausgeschrieben Ziel von 100’000 zusätzlichen Soldaten bekannt. “Es gibt kein Papier, keine Strategie, nicht einmal eine grobe Richtlinie”, sagt er. “Die Verantwortlichen im Planungsstab des Militärs haben zum ersten mal aus den Medien von dem Plan erfahren.” Anstatt dass diese Entscheidung Teil einer umfassenden Strategie war, sind die Pläne zur Ausweitung der Truppenstärke wohl eher eine Taktik im Machtkampf zwischen dem Militär und der Polizei, behauptet Nasrullah. “Die Armee und die nigerianischen Polizeieinheiten tragen hinter den Kulissen einen Kampf aus, darüber wer die Kontrolle über den Konflikt mit Boko Haram hat. Die Armee hat nicht genügend Personal, um befreite Gebiete zu halten. Deshalb verbreitet sich die Idee, dass die Polizei die Lücken des Militärs füllen könnte, was der Polizei eine direkte Rolle in diesem Konflikt zusprechen würde. Doch das will die Armee nicht.”

Um es klar zu sagen: je nachdem welche Strategie man verfolgt, kann es in Nigerias aktueller Situation durchaus Sinn machen, die Armee der Polizei vorzuziehen. Doch das ist eine Entscheidung, die die Regierung treffen sollte. Die Probleme mit dem Alleingang der Armee sind offensichtlich. Dadurch, dass die Armee die politische Führung übergeht und nicht konsultiert, untergräbt sie genau die Institutionen, die langfristig den Konflikt mit Boko Haram und andere anstehende Probleme in anderen Teilen des Landes lösen muss. Indem der nationale Sicherheitsapparat monopolisiert wird, ohne vorher entsprechende Instrumente zu deren Kontrolle zu erarbeiten, wird das nigerianische Militär Teil des Problems und nicht der Lösung.

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This New U.S. Army Aerial Spy Is Actually Four Different Planes

by Joseph Trevithick, a freelance journalist and researcher. He is also a regular contributing writer at War is Boring and a Fellow at GlobalSecurity.org.

An apparent EMARSS spy plane that crashed in Iraq in March 2016 (Rudaw capture).

An apparent EMARSS spy plane that crashed in Iraq in March 2016 (Rudaw capture).

After a secretive spy plane crashed in Northern Iraq on March 5, journalists rushed to try and identify the aircraft. In addition to highlighting hidden parts of the fight against Islamic State, the accident focused new attention on a long-standing U.S. Army effort to improve their fleet of aerial spooks. Starting in 2006, the ground combat branch had rushed out to hire private companies to fly surveillance missions – mostly hunting for roadside bombs and other hazards – in Iraq and then Afghanistan. Looking to consolidate this increasingly diverse and complicated collection of so-called “quick reaction capabilities”, the service started its own internal program.

More than a decade later, the Enhanced-Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) is now actually at least four different systems, according to an official briefing. In total, the Army plans to convert 24 planes to one version or another. The four original prototypes will become “S models” focused on signals intelligence, missions like scooping up enemy radio chatter and locking onto to cell phones. On top of that, the planes will have powerful night vision cameras. The Army will turn another eight ex-U.S. Air Force MC-12W Liberty planes into a similar “M version”. While the details are classified, the two types will differ in the exact kind of listening gear on board. In addition, eight additional “G variants” will have infrared cameras, plus LIDAR gear and other equipment that can spot buried bombs and points of interest on the ground. The Army purchased these airframes from contractors. Lastly, the ground combat branch will turn four more previously private planes into “V types”. Northrop Grumman’s ground-scanning Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar – commonly referred to by the acronym VADER – is the key component on these final aircraft.

In each case, the aircraft carrying the various intelligence gathering setups is a version of Beechcraft’s popular Super King Air. Known as the C-12 at the Pentagon, this twin-engine turboprop has become practically an industry standard for small spy planes.

A briefing slide showing the state of the EMARSS program as of October 2015.

A briefing slide showing the state of the EMARSS program as of October 2015.

Regardless of variant, each EMARSS plane will have the same cockpit layout, satellite communications gear and data links, computers and defensive equipment, such as missile warning sensors and flare launchers. The Army hopes to have the conversions finished by 2019. The service will then rename all the aircraft MC-12S.

On top of that, the aircraft that went down outside the town of Kawrgosk in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region might not actually be related to the project. One contract document lists the civilian-registered plane – and a second similar aircraft – as an MC-12W EMARSS based at Hunter Army Air Field in Georgia. While this would suggest the spook could be one of the future “S models”, the table separately lists the eight planes the Air Force handed over to the Army almost two years ago. When asked, the shared public affairs office for both Fort Stewart and Hunter had no information available on either aircraft or what unit was flying them. On the surface, this plan seems to be at odds with the original idea of consolidating the total number of systems. However, the ground combat branch settled on a similar process when it adopted the older Guardrail/Common Sensor spy planes nearly 30 years ago.

One of the MC-12S EMARSS prototypes (U.S. Army photo).

One of the MC-12S EMARSS prototypes (U.S. Army photo).

The Army rushed the very first of these planes to South Korea in 1988. Due to demand, these aircraft arrived without many of the planned upgrades. After a decade of work, military intelligence soldiers were flying four slightly different variants. To make up for the limits of communications gear at the time, the fleet included three special RC-12Q satellite relay versions. After three decades of service, the Army finally plans to pare the Guardrail fleet down to just one type, the definitive and obtusely titled RC-12X+, sometime in the next two years. Of 28 older aircraft, the ground combat branch will keep just five on hand to serve as trainers.

And by choosing roll up various existing equipment into the EMARSS program, the Army finally gets the project moving after years of delays and confusion. As of June 2010, one manual described the planes as just another quick reaction capability. Six months later, the ground combat branch hired Boeing to build new production systems. But after competing companies protested the decision, the Government Accountability Office told the service to review deal. Soured on the project, when it proposed its 2013 budget more than year later, the Army announced it was cancelling EMARSS to help cut costs. The four MC-12S prototypes would go to the Air Force. The ground combat branch explained the deal would save them approximately $1.2 billion.

A Constant Hawk, one of the aircraft that will eventually become an EMARSS-G (U.S. Army photo).

A Constant Hawk, one of the aircraft that will eventually become an EMARSS-G (U.S. Army photo).

At a press briefing at the Pentagon on Feb. 13, 2012, a reporter asked how the ground combat branch could meet the demand for intelligence gathering without the planes. “I can’t really speak to anything further on recon aircraft”, was all Barbara Bonessa, Deputy Director, Army Budget, would say to reporters. As it turned out, the Army did need EMARSS. By March 2013, the service had changed tack again, asking defense companies to provide cost estimates and other information on what it would take to build as many as 12 of the airborne spies. After another year of wrangling, the Air Force decided not to take the existing test aircraft, either. Instead, the flying branch would send eight MC-12Ws to the Army as they cut that entire fleet from their inventory. By July 1, 2015, the Army had 26 different aircraft slated for the EMARSS project at three different bases across the United States. Initially, the ground combat branch had expected the first types to arrive at units sometime between the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.

In the face of those delays and with so much money and time already spent, making less radical modifications to this fleet definitely made more sense than trying to build even more planes. The upgraded Guardrails and improved, larger RO-6A Airborne Reconnaissance Low will round out this important fleet. And if EMARSS continues to progress like Guardrail did, the planes are likely to become more and more similar as the Army buys additional upgrades over the coming years.

Posted in English, International, Joseph Trevithick | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Hamas Is Hardline but Palestinian Islamic Jihad Is Even More Extreme

by Austin Michael Bodetti. He is a student in the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program at Boston College and a reporter for War Is Boring. He focuses on the relationship between Islam and conflict in Syria and Sudan.

Hamas chief Khaled Mashal waves to the crowd during a rally marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, in Gaza City, 2012.

Hamas chief Khaled Mashal waves to the crowd during a rally marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, in Gaza City, 2012.

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has fortressed itself in the Gaza Strip, expanding its authority over local rivals and autonomy from foreign allies. Regional powers such as Iran and Syria have failed to control Hamas while the second-strongest resistance movements in Gaza, namely Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), must challenge it or accept its power and defer to it. PIJ has proved potent and versatile, showing that it can challenge Israel on the battlefield and that, unlike the secularist and socialist Palestinian factions that followed the Arab–Israeli Wars, it can maintain its relevance in the ever-changing conflict. Nevertheless, until now, Hamas has managed to ensure its hegemony and supremacy in Gaza in particular and Palestine in general.

Hamas runs a police state in its territory. “The press is still heavily monitored and controlled, Fatah members are watched, and the sheer visibility of armed Hamas police and militia forces is intimidating,” wrote The New York Times. “After having confronted and disarmed significant Fatah-supporting hamullas, or clans, Hamas has a near monopoly on arms inside Gaza.” Unlike the Palestinian National Authority (PA), which must submit to Israel by controlling and limiting the paramilitaries operating in the West Bank, Hamas guides the resistance movements and terrorist organizations in Gaza toward jihad against the Jewish state. PIJ has worked with Hamas to attack Israeli territory. As PIJ has lost one of its few commanders in the West Bank, the paramilitary may come to depend more on Gaza and therefore Hamas to continue striking Israel. The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a coalition of a number of armed Palestinian groups and believed to be the third strongest faction active in the Gaza Strip, has allied themselves with Hamas after opposing the PA’s relationship with and submission to Israel. “The intifada will continue and will become the greatest strategic turning point in the history of the Palestinian struggle,” asserted a Hamas official. “Nothing will be able to stop this intifada. Not the occupying enemy and not its security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.” Hamas has sensed its superiority over other Palestinian factions, recognizing its leadership in fighting Israel. Because paramilitaries such as PIJ and the PRC cooperate with it rather than compete with it — while the PA has abandoned resisting Israel altogether — Hamas understands that it has succeeded where other Palestinian factions have failed. Few can pose a challenge to its rulership in Gaza and over the remaining anti-Israeli terrorist organizations in Palestine.

Palestinians of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, display a Gaza Strip made M75 rocket during a parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas’s creation on 14 December, 2014.

Palestinians of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, display a Gaza Strip made M75 rocket during a parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas’s creation on 14 December, 2014.

Hamas has struggled to lessen its dependence on foreign allies. The movement had allied itself with Iran and Syria in the Resistance and Deterrence Axis, which rejected Israeli and Western interventionism in the Middle East. However, the Arab Spring inspired revolutions that, in several countries, became civil wars between Sunnis and Iranian-backed Shias. Hamas, a Sunni movement in a Shia-majority alliance, withdrew from the Axis of Resistance because Iran supported a Shia-aligned government massacring Sunnis in Syria. The movement has refrained from siding with Iran in its many proxy wars with Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the Syrian government has ended its relationship with the Palestinian faction, citing its own lack of support from Hamas. According to some sources, Hamas has even helped the Syrian opposition. Though analysts might have expected these events to weaken the movement, Hamas’ refusal to work with Iran and Syria represents its autonomy from its foreign sponsors and their sectarian agendas, ambitions, and ideologies. Its leaders have searched for support from Sunni countries, such as the Emirates and Qatar. Free from the Axis of Resistance, Hamas can ensure that it focuses on Palestinian goals instead of foreign ones. The movement claims to represent Palestine, and, as far as its tactics and strategies have shown, this claim seems enough.

PIJ has avoided the difficulties that Hamas faces in governing Gaza by focusing on jihad against Israel. “Because Islamic Jihad has not participated in elections, it is difficult to determine its popularity in that respect,” wrote Al-Monitor. “The burden of governance has cost Hamas popularity on the ground as it struggles to steer Gaza through the hardships associated with the Israeli–Egyptian siege and a series of economic and political crises.” Two years ago, PIJ launched rockets to punish the Jewish state for killing some of its fighters. Hamas, meanwhile, refrained from fighting Israel because of the potential consequences for Gaza’s infrastructure, which it would need to rebuild. “The Palestinian Islamic Jihad wants to reestablish a sovereign, Islamic Palestinian state with the geographic borders of the pre-1948 mandate Palestine,” observed the Council on Foreign Relations. “The PIJ advocates the destruction of Israel through violent means; it approaches the Arab–Israeli conflict as an ideological war, not a territorial dispute. PIJ members see violence as the only way to remove Israel from the Middle East map and reject any two-state arrangement in which Israel and Palestine coexist.” Though hard-liners compose Hamas, analysts have viewed PIJ as more extreme, refusing to concede to Israel where Hamas or other Palestinian factions might. Whereas Hamas has become mainstream, PIJ prides itself on representing Israel’s fiercest Palestinian enemy, threatening to attack however, whenever, and wherever it can.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah (L) and Fatah leader Faruq Qaddumi (R), who runs the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Tunis-based political department, attend a conference in Tehran in support of Gaza and Palestinians on March 4, 2009 (Behrouz Mehri / AFP /Getty Images).

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah (L) and Fatah leader Faruq Qaddumi (R), who runs the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Tunis-based political department, attend a conference in Tehran in support of Gaza and Palestinians on March 4, 2009 (Behrouz Mehri / AFP /Getty Images).

PIJ’s capabilities stretch beyond the military and the political. It operates many social services for Palestinians, including schools, despite refraining from governance. “We teach the children the truth,” a PIJ teacher told Haaretz. “How the Jews persecuted the prophets and tortured them. We stress that the Jews killed and slaughtered Arabs and Palestinians every chance they got. Most important, the children understand that the conflict with the Jews is not over land, but rather over religion. As long as Jews remain here, between the [Jordan] river and the sea, they will be our enemy and we will continue to pursue and kill them. When they leave we won’t hurt them.” PIJ even sought to induct kindergartners into its anti-Israeli militancy, brainwashing a generation of Palestinians into its ideology. These social services would fail to compete with Hamas’ comprehensive, expansive goals in Gaza, yet they serve to strengthen the cult of personality around PIJ and its ideals. The movement has adopted tactics and strategies resembling Iran’s in general and Hezbollah’s in particular; Hezbollah has learned to balance helping its community and ruling it, leaving the worst difficulties of governance to the Lebanese government. PIJ has achieved a similar balance in Gaza. As the relationship between Hamas, PIJ, and the Resistance and Deterrence Axis grows more complex, PIJ may have to use its unique potency and versatility to adapt. The movement can position itself to outcompete Hamas as the premier faction in Gaza, or it can decline as Hamas has.

Posted in Austin Michael Bodetti, English, Gaza, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An African Arms Race: Full Speed Ahead?

by Paul Pryce. With degrees in political science from both sides of the pond, Paul Pryce has previously worked as Senior Research Fellow for the Atlantic Council of Canada’s Canadian Armed Forces program, as a Research Fellow for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an Associate Fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. He has also served as an infantryman in the Canadian Forces.

Ex U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin (WHEC 721), decommissioned in March 2014 and transfered to Nigeria will be soon commissioned under the name NNS Okpabana in the Nigerian Navy.

Ex U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin (WHEC 721), decommissioned in March 2014 and transfered to Nigeria will be soon commissioned under the name NNS Okpabana in the Nigerian Navy.

Across Africa, maritime forces are undergoing rapid development, ostensibly to address the threat of piracy in such crucial waterways as the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea. Thanks in part to vessels received through the United States’ Excess Defence Articles program, the Nigerian Navy has emerged as the leading maritime power in West Africa. Even small states, like Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, are acquiring new vessels. In many respects, this would seem to be a positive development, allowing African countries to share in some of the burden of securing international shipping lanes.

But there is some cause for concern. In recent years, African maritime boundary disputes have risen dramatically, both in terms of frequency and tension, creating uncertainty over the ownership of considerable off-shore oil reserves. In September 2014, Ghana brought legal action against Cote d’Ivoire regarding the status of the maritime boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Guinea. Meanwhile, Kenya and Somalia have been locked in a series of similar legal battles. Oil exploration in Lake Malawi has also sparked tensions between Malawi and Tanzania. It is in this context that the hurried armament of African navies takes on a disturbing character.

For much of its history, the maritime forces of Cote d’Ivoire consisted of a small collection of coastal patrol boats and 300 personnel at the most, although much of this navy was scrapped in the midst of a brief civil war in 2011. In January 2014, Ivorian authorities purchased 40 new patrol vessels for the stated purpose of fending off pirate groups. It is doubtful that Cote d’Ivoire would be able to win a sustained naval war with neighbouring Ghana, even with the boost to its maritime forces from this large-scale procurement project. But such a force could certainly be a deterrent to perceived Ghanaian incursions into the waters claimed by Ivorian authorities in the Gulf of Guinea. Such rapid armament by one of the two parties to the dispute also offers a much different context to the mainstream understanding of Africa’s naval procurements.

A HIS 32 Interceptor patrol vessel.

A HIS 32 Interceptor patrol vessel.

This could extend to riverine forces as well. The Mozambican Navy recently took delivery of three HIS 32 Interceptor patrol vessels from the French shipbuilder Constructions Mecaniques de Normandies (CMN) and a further order of three Ocean Eagle 43 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) is expected to be completed soon. This follows Mozambique’s acquisition of a patrol vessel from the Spanish Navy in 2012. Thus far, the Mozambican Navy’s procurement projects have been concentrated on offshore patrol capabilities and efforts to secure tuna fishing, but future attention will likely be paid to exerting sovereignty over sections of the Zambezi River, the longest east-flowing river in Africa. The Zambezi River also flows through Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe before reaching Mozambique and the waters of the Mozambique Channel beyond. Any of these countries could begin militarizing this important waterway.

In September 2014, Angola concluded an agreement with Brazil that will see the latter supply the former with seven Macaé-class OPVs. Efforts by the Angolan authorities to modernize their maritime forces could easily be expanded to include the purchase of inshore patrol vessels from Brazil or another supplier. The Namibian Navy acquired a Grajau-class patrol boat from Brazil in 2009 as well. The Zimbabwe Defence Force has no formal maritime branch, but the country maintains a significant paramilitary force that could interfere with riverine traffic if called upon to do so. Given the frenzy of fleet modernization and expansion among these states, the militarization of the Zambezi River is more a question of “when” not “if”.

Ocean Eagle 43 Offshore Patrol Vessel.

Ocean Eagle 43 Offshore Patrol Vessel.

In any case, as concerns grow that countries across Africa are engaged in maritime-focused arms races, it will be increasingly necessary for defence partners of African states to condition their military aid. The United States has instituted an African Partnership Station, through which US personnel provide training and other forms of assistance to the military forces of select African states. This is intended to improve the capacity of these countries to contend with organized crime, armed insurgencies, and other threats. In order for African states’ maritime forces to receive training assistance or excess defence articles, such as the decommissioned US Coast Guard cutters transferred to Nigeria in previous years, such countries should not be engaged in maritime boundary disputes. In order to address such disputes, the relevant states could be encouraged to pursue third-party arbitration or to embrace the idea of joint development areas. The latter enabled Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to settle their maritime boundary dispute in 1993.

The risk remains, however, that the unilateral enforcement of conditionality by the US will only limit American influence in the region and will have little to no effect on Africa’s arms races. In October 2014, Chinese maritime forces held joint exercises with the Tanzanian Navy; elsewhere in East Africa, China is working to establish a permanent naval base in Djibouti. There is substantial risk that China could simply replace the US as an aid provider should the latter pursue a policy of conditionality.

The optimum approach may be for the US and its NATO partners to pursue a case-by-case approach, employing creative diplomacy to bring the parties to maritime boundary disputes together in joint exercises as part of a strategy to secure agreements modelled on that enjoyed by Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. In the meantime, the prospects for a violent clash between Ivorian and Ghanaian forces at sea grow day by day.

Posted in English, International, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Paul Pryce, Sea Powers, Security Policy, Somalia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Urbane Räume der Zukunft: Sun Tsu und die Analyse des Geländes

von Oberstleutnant Alessandro Rappazzo, Berufsoffizier der Schweizer Armee, Gruppenchef am Kommando Führungslehrgang II / Stabslehrgang I in Luzern und Autor des Buches “Mein Weg: Vorwärts“. Dieser Artikel ist Teil des Buches.

Die potenziellen “Schlachtfelder” sind im Wandel begriffen, auch abhängig von geopolitischen Faktoren und globalen Bedrohungsmustern. Die laufende Entwicklung der Umwelt zwingt jeden Chef, neue Sichtweisen zu prüfen. Das ist uns allen bekannt. Die Grösse künftiger Trends, z.B. die Megastädte, die Demographie, die Technologie und eine neue Generation von Menschen, treffen zunehmend unsere Gesellschaft. Vertikalisierung, Verdichtung, Verletzlichkeit, Globalisierung, Kulturen usw. werden mehr denn je unsere Analysen beeinflussen. Dieser Artikel soll den Leser motivieren, bei der militärischen Lagebeurteilung — und darin insbesondere bei der Beurteilung der Umwelt — bewährte Denkmuster zu verlassen und neue “Denk-Wege” einzuschlagen.

Eine zerstörte fiktionale Stadt im

Eine zerstörte fiktionale Stadt aus dem “Fallout-Universum” — so könnte eine durch Krieg verwüstete Megastadt aussehen.

 

Ausgangslage

Geopolitik: Grund zur Beunruhigung
Es ist eine Tatsache, dass sich die Welt in ständigem Wandel befindet. Das geopolitische Europa sieht sich einem wiedererwachenden Dualismus gegenüber, zwischen einem zynischer werdenden Russland und einem immer chaotischeren Westen. Der strategische Antagonismus in der Politik, der Wirtschaft und dem Militär hat die Schwelle zu einer neuen Ära überschritten (siehe dazu “Sicherheit Schweiz 2015“, Nachrichtendienst des Bundes, Mai 2015, S. 7f). Heute hat sich der Terrorismus gewalttätig Zutritt zur Geopolitik verschafft, auch dank der gezielten Nutzung der sozialen Medien, die von einem sogenannten “Kalifat” instrumentalisiert werden. Wir erleben hier eine sich im Fluss befindliche Wirklichkeit, die sich ständig verändert.

Ein von diesen Veränderungen nicht zu trennender Bestandteil ist zweifelsohne der Terrorismus dschihadistischer Prägung, der den gesamten Westen in Mitleidenschaft ziehen kann. Diese geopolitische Entwicklung schliesst Terrorismus, latenten Extremismus, Formen der modernen Spionage sowie die Proliferation von Waffen mit ein. Auch für die Schweiz sind diese Faktoren ein Grund zur Beunruhigung. Nach dem Fall der Berliner Mauer rangierte die Sicherheitspolitik an zweiter Stelle. In der Schweiz wurden sicherheitspolitische Themen aufgrund der aktuellen geopolitischen Lage im Entwurf des Sicherheitspolitischen Berichts 2016 wieder aufgenommen und in den Vordergrund gerückt. Die Überarbeitung des Dokuments beruht auf der politischen, wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Entwicklung. Daraus geht hervor, dass sich die bisher stabilen langen Vorwarnzeiten tendenziell immer stärker verkürzen (“Sicherheit Schweiz 2015”, S. 8).

Realität: Die beiden Zwillingstürme "Momo" und "Uzeir" brennen in der Innenstadt Sarajevo's während des Bosnien-Krieges am 8. Juni 1992.

Realität: Die beiden Zwillingstürme “Momo” und “Uzeir” brennen in der Innenstadt Sarajevo’s während des Bosnien-Krieges am 8. Juni 1992.

Gelände: Faktor im Wandel
Die Beherrschung und die Kenntnis des Geländes ist heute noch fundamental im militärischen Denken verankert und kommt im Buch “Die Kunst des Krieges” häufig vor, wo Sun Tsu das Gewicht auf die Kenntnis und die Nutzung des Geländes legt. Heute sollte eine vertiefte Analyse des Geländes durchgeführt werden, welche auf der Unterschiedlichkeit der einzelnen Geländeformen und der Entwicklung dieser Räume beruht. Mit dem Bevölkerungswachstum, insbesondere in städtischen Gebieten und deren Vertikalisierung, verändern sich auch einzelne Analyse- und Beurteilungskriterien. Diese Kriterien sind nicht nur an die städtebauliche Entwicklung, sondern auch an die Entwicklung und den Fortschritt der Gesellschaft, der Lebensbedingungen sowie der wirtschaftlichen und politischen Ressourcen gebunden. Aufgrund dieser Analysen stellt sich die Frage, ob es nicht an der Zeit wäre, die alten Analysekriterien neu zu bewerten. Abgesehen von diesen Kriterien ist die Aufstellung der Kräfte, die in diesen Räumen eingesetzt werden, von Anfang an wichtig. Die Gesamtheit dieser neuen Analysen sowie das vertiefte taktische und technische Wissen der Akteure in diesen neuen Räumen müssen zu einer neuen Entwicklung des Kampfes in bebautem Gebiet führen.

Bedrohung: grundsätzlich hybrider Charakter
Heute wird die aktuelle Form der Bedrohung durch eine Komponente bestimmt, die als “hybrid” bezeichnet wird, nämlich: “Jegliche Bedrohung des Landes, bei der gleichzeitig und teilweise im gleichen Raum staatliche und nichtstaatliche Akteure alleine, koordiniert oder unter gemeinsamer Führung Ziele erreichen wollen und dazu reguläre und irreguläre sowie konventionelle und unkonventionelle Einsatzformen und Mittel miteinander verbinden und anwenden” (Schweizer Armee, “Mögliche Begriffsdefinition TF 17 / OF 17”, Mai 2015, nicht öffentlich verfügbar). Die militärische Analyse hängt von Faktoren ab, welche untereinander immer stärker vernetzt sind, wo die Unterscheidung zwischen “rot” und “blau” keinen Bestand mehr hat. Mit der hybriden Bedrohung muss heute im Falle eines Konflikts ein neuer Ansatz gesucht werden. Liang und Xiangsui schreiben in ihrem Buch, dass “zukünftige Kriege Dinge abverlangen werden, worauf der Grossteil der Soldaten nicht vorbereitet ist: unkonventionell geführte Kriege zu gewinnen und Schlachten ausserhalb der Schlachtfelder zu schlagen” (Qiao Liang und Wang Xiangsui, “Guerra senza limiti: L’arte della guerra simmetrica fra terrorismo e globalizzazione“, Libreria Editrice Goriziana, 2001, S. 25, Übersetzung durch den Autor). Dieses Zitat macht uns bewusst, dass es sich bei der hybriden Bedrohung tatsächlich um etwas Konsolidiertes in modernen Konflikten handelt. Die Lösung der Konflikte steht nicht mehr nur dem Militär, sondern auch anderen Kräften zu, welche in andere Sicherheitssysteme eingebunden sind.

Realität: Der strategisch wichtige Internationale Flughafen von Donetsk wurde während den Kämpfen zwischen pro-russische Rebellen und den Ukrainischen Streitkräften komplett zerstört.

Realität: Der strategisch wichtige Internationale Flughafen von Donetsk wurde während den Kämpfen zwischen pro-russische Rebellen und den Ukrainischen Streitkräften komplett zerstört.

 

Umgang mit dem “Gelände”

Hochhauslandschaften und Bevölkerung
Nach den obigen Ausführungen über die Faktoren und Analysen der neuen Entwicklung des Umfelds entsprechen diese Kriterien der Vertikalisierung und der Entwicklung der städtischen Gebiete auf
schweizerischem Territorium. Die Kontrolle von Städten wie z.B. Genf, Lausanne, Bern, Basel, Luzern, Zürich und St.Gallen kann nicht mehr so wie in Zeiten des Kalten Krieges erfolgen, sondern sie muss ständig an die neuen Formen der hybriden Bedrohung und an die kontinuierliche Veränderung der städtischen Gebiete angepasst werden. Faktoren wie die Globalisierung, die Technologie, die Entwicklung der Bevölkerung sind “fliessende Faktoren”, welche einen Einfluss auf die militärischen und zivilen Analyseelemente haben.

Militärischer Faktor
Die zukünftigen Territorialformationen müssen der Tatsache Rechnung tragen, dass die Hauptanstrengungen vor allem auf die städtischen Gebiete entfallen. In Anbetracht der Tatsache, dass die Schwerpunkte von militärischen Operationen hauptsächlich urbane Gebiete sein werden, wird die Entwicklung von Analyseinstrumenten, welche dieser Realität Rechnung tragen, notwendig machen. Schliesslich zeigen die folgenden Zitate deutlich auf, welcher der nächste Schritt bei zukünftigen Einsätzen und operativen Methoden in städtischen Gebieten sein wird.

Militärisch müssen wir so denken: “Megastädte zu ignorieren, bedeutet die Zukunft zu ignorieren.” (Chief of Staff of the Army, “Megacieties and the United States Army: Preparing for a complex and uncertain future“, Strategic Studies Group, Juni 2014). Zu unserer Sicherheit müssen wir folgende Überlegungen zur Kenntnis nehmen: “Ein Gegner kann seine strategischen Ziele auch durch eine Beeinträchtigung der für das Funktionieren der staatlichen Führung, der wirtschaftlichen Abläufe und des gesellschaftlichen Lebens zentralen kritischen Infrastrukturen erreichen. […] Ein solcher Angriff richtet sich nicht – wie in der Vergangenheit – […] primär gegen die Integrität des Staatsgebietes, sondern direkt gegen das ordentliche Funktionieren des Landes und seiner Institutionen bis hin zur Unterminierung der staatlichen Souveränität und des gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalts.” (Sicherheitsverbund Schweiz, “Auslegung des Begriffs Verteidigung”, Bericht der Arbeitsgruppe Verteidigung, innere und äussere Sicherheit, Entwurf vom 31.03.2015, S. 4, nicht online; siehe auch Oberst i Gst Markus van Wijk, “Operative Schulung (III): ‘Defense’ in einem modernen Szenario“, Allgemeine Schweizerische Militärzeitschrift 09, September 2015).

Der Blick auf ein modernes urbanes Gelände erfordert eine neue Perspektive und eine spezifischere Analyse als der Blick auf ein klassisches Gelände. Die Beschreibung des Geländes mit der detaillierten Aufzählung der verschiedenen Räume, wie es Sun Tsu tut, ist auch heute noch gleich, aber mit den urbanisierten Räumen von heute. Wenn wir die DNA der urbanen Zentren verstehen, können wir die Bedrohungsfaktoren, mit denen wir konfrontiert werden könnten, besser identifizieren. Diese Faktoren sind in verschiedenen Formen anzutreffen, als klassische Bedrohung, religiöse Bedrohung, als ideologische Dispute, als wirtschaftliche Einschränkungen, Machtkonflikte, Naturkatastrophen, als von Menschen verursachte Katastrophen oder einfach als Implosion einer Gesellschaft.

Sicht auf Tokio vom Dach des „SkyTree“. Tokio ist momentan mit seinen Agglomerationen (37,8 Mio. Einwohner; rund 4,5 Mal die Schweiz) die grösste der Megastädte. Dagegen ist Zürich ein Winzling. (Foto: Yodalica, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).

Sicht auf Tokio vom Dach des “SkyTree“. Tokio ist momentan mit seinen Agglomerationen (37,8 Mio. Einwohner; rund 4,5 Mal die Schweiz) die grösste der Megastädte. Dagegen ist Zürich ein Winzling (Foto: Yodalica, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).

Grosse Agglomerationen
Die Bevölkerungsdichte in der Schweiz ist hoch. Dabei gibt es nicht nur Städte, sondern auch Agglomerationen: Zürich (1,28 Mio Einwohner), Basel (823’000), Genf (819’000), Bern (398’614) und Lausanne (389’614; Bundesamt für Statistik, “Räume mit städtischem Charakter der Schweiz“, 2012). Die Agglomerationen von Basel und Genf weisen gewisse Besonderheiten auf: “Die Schweiz weist eine vielfältige urbane Struktur auf, welche grosse Agglomerationen mit internationaler Ausstrahlung, aber auch kleinere, mit eher regionaler Bedeutung enthält.” (Bundesamt für Statistik, “Raum mit städtischem Charakter der Schweiz 2012: Eine neue Dimension der Agglomerationen und weiteren städtischen Raumkategorien“, BFS Aktuell, 18.12.2014, S. 3). Die wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Besonderheiten der fünf bedeutendsten Agglomerationen bestehen in einem hohen Prozentanteil der dort arbeitenden (79%) und lebenden (73%) Bevölkerung, was in Zukunft im Einzelnen klare Antworten zum Resilienzgrad und zur Antifragilität erfordert (Bundesamt für Statistik, “Raum mit städtischem Charakter der Schweiz 2012”, S. 2). Um diese Antworten zu erhalten, muss die Vergangenheit erforscht, die Gegenwart verstanden und die Zukunft geplant werden. Es handelt sich also darum, die DNA zu bestimmen, das heisst die Besonderheiten und Charakteristiken einer jeden Stadt bzw. Agglomeration zu erfassen. Wenn die DNA einmal mittels eines Audits ermittelt wurde, sind Szenarien für die Zukunft auszuarbeiten. Diese Szenarien bilden die Grundlage, um daraus Konsequenzen für die verschiedenen Interventionsbereiche in einzelnen Konflikten zu entwickeln.

Beschränken wir uns darauf, einige der Hauptfaktoren aus den vorangegangenen Ausführungen näher zu betrachten und kurz zu erklären:

  • DNA: individuelle Ausprägung: Jede Stadt hat ihre eigene Geschichte, ihre eigene Dimension der Existenz und des Lebens. Das zwingt zu differenzieren. Ausgangspunkt ist die Fähigkeit, das Wesen, ja den Kern einer Agglomeration zu deuten. Dazu müssen wir ihre Gene analysieren, die aus folgenden Faktoren bestehen: Bevölkerung, Bewegung/Ströme, Bedrohung, Territorium, Raumdichte, Densität, Kultur und Freizeit, Stadtorganisation (z.B. Kreis, Quartier).
  • Urban Audit: Resilienz und Antifragilität: Die nächste Phase erfordert einen Vergleich der einzelnen Faktoren. Die zuvor festgelegten Audits Demografie, Wohlfahrt, Pendelströme, Umfeld, Wirtschaft, Infrastruktur, Mobilität und Verkehr, hybride Bedrohung, Bildung und Erziehung, Ressourcen, Wachstum, und soziale Aspekte, Umwelt, politische Führung, können sich je nach Lage verändern und helfen uns, den aktuellen Zustand der in Augenschein genommenen Agglomerationen festzustellen. Die Ergebnisse fliessen in eine Matrix ein (Spannungsfelder: Wertschöpfung – Gemeinschaft – Lebensraum – Identität), um ein allgemeines, den Umständen entsprechendes Bild der Lage zu erhalten.
  • Szenarien: Triebkräfte des Wandels: Die Analyse der DNA, die Ergebnisse aus dem Audit erlauben uns, mittels der Faktoren Resilienzfähigkeit und Antifragilität mehrere Szenarien zu entwickeln, um die einzelnen Konflikte zu bewältigen.
Realität: Zerstörte Gebäude in Beirut nach dem Libanonkrieg 2006.

Realität: Zerstörte Gebäude in Beirut nach dem Libanonkrieg 2006.

Dieser analytische Prozess (DNA, Audit, Szenarien) ist das Ergebnis der interdisziplinären Arbeit zwischen den verschiedenen operativ tätigen Akteuren im Bereich der integrierten Sicherheit. Auf der Grundlage dieser periodischen Analysen – beispielsweise alle fünf Jahre – ist es möglich, klare Konsequenzen für alle Bereiche der integrierten Sicherheit zu ziehen. In diesem Zusammenhang sind folgende erste Überlegungen zu machen (nicht abschliessen):

  • Territorialformation — regional, aber nicht lokal: Als Partner der Kantone bleibt die Territorialformation ein fixer Bezugspunkt. Im Vorfeld ist die Präsenz dieser Einheit, je nach Analyse des Geländes, ein entscheidender Faktor, wenn bedenkt wird, dass ihr Einsatz hauptsächlich auf städtische Gebiete und Agglomerationen konzentriert ist. Die Typologie des Geländes (urban) und des Konflikts sind bestimmend für die Wahl der einzusetzenden Formation zur Bewältigung der Lage. Schlussendlich sollte die Rolle der Territorialformation der Zukunft in der periodischen Analyse der grossen Zentren liegen und zwar in Zusammenarbeit mit den verschiedenen Akteuren, die auf dem Territorium präsent sind. Es geht daher um die Fähigkeit, Ziele zu erreichen, indem noch effizienter und innovativer als bisher interagiert wird. Die Analyse der drei erwähnten Elemente (DNA, Audit, Szenarien) ist der Faktor, der es einem kleinen Land wie der Schweiz, das immer mehr zur urbanen Vertikalisierung gezwungen ist, ermöglicht, künftige Konflikte vorwegzunehmen und zu bewältigen.
  • Verteidigung — teilweise neu zu denken: Schliesslich müssen wir uns darüber im Klaren sein, dass es sich um ein heisses Thema handelt, denn die Analysen dringen tief in die verschiedenen Aspekte unserer Gesellschaft ein. Die Entwicklung der Szenarien wird sicherlich Anlass zu Kritik von allen möglichen Seiten und aus verschiedenen Bereichen geben. Diese Wahrscheinlichkeit erschliesst sich auch aus dem bereits zitierten Bericht über das Verteidigungskonzept, wo es heisst: es gibt “primär staatspolitische und rechtliche Überlegungen, die zu Skepsis gegenüber einem neuen, erweiterten Verständnis von Verteidigung führen.” (Sicherheitsverbund Schweiz, “Auslegung des Begriffs Verteidigung”, S. 2).
  • Neue und alte Herausforderungen — Bereitschaft zu handeln: Wenn wir zukünftige Herausforderungen meistern wollen, müssen wir offen sein und intellektuell auf neue Szenarien des hybriden Spektrums vorbereitet sein. Wir müssen bereit sein, einen Konflikt auszutragen, der – gerade weil er auf jeden Aspekt des Lebens unserer Gesellschaft einwirkt – in einem Bereich angegangen werden könnte, der nicht vom klassischen militärischen Denken beherrscht wird: “Um über ihre Denkweise hinauszukommen, müssen daher die leitenden Militärs der heutigen Zeit in ihren Ansätzen auch tiefer gehen und präziser werden” (Liang und Xiangsui, “Guerra senza limiti”, S. 156, Übersetzung durch den Autor). Auch wenn der klassische Krieg nicht mehr im Zentrum unserer Ängste steht, so muss mit ihm immer noch gerechnet werden. Das bedeutet, dass jeder einzelne Brandherd (verschiedene Bedrohungsformen) zwingend unter Kontrolle gebracht werden muss: “Internationale bewaffnete Konflikte können auch mit Gewaltanwendung im Inneren beginnen.” (Sicherheitsverbund Schweiz, “Auslegung des Begriffs Verteidigung”, S. 2). Denn, wenn es richtig ist, dass der Krieg das Feuer ist, so stimmt es auch, dass ein Funke genügt, um es zu entfachen.
Realität: Aleppo im Oktober 2012.

Realität: Aleppo im Oktober 2012.

 

Fazit

Bei diesem Kurzessay geht es darum, die Bedeutung der neuen Räume zu definieren, deren DNA zu verstehen, mittels regelmässigen (Urban) Audits die Stärken und Schwächen zu identifizieren, um anschliessend Arbeitsszenarien zu entwickeln. Die Szenarien dienen später einerseits für die Ausbildung der verschiedenen Akteure und im schlimmsten Fall für die Bewältigung von ausserordentlichen Situationen. Als Zweites geht es darum, die Zusammenarbeit in den vorgeschlagenen Konzeptionen vermehrt mit allen beteiligten Akteuren festzulegen. Der letzte Punkt, der mir auch wichtig scheint, ist, die Menschen zu befähigen, die Veränderungen, welche durch die sichtbare Entwicklung der Gesellschaft entstehen, erfolgreich zu bestehen. Es geht nicht darum, sich neu zu erfinden, sondern unsere Standards auf die neuen Gegebenheiten zeitgemäss anzupassen.

Posted in Alessandro Rappazzo, Armed Forces, Security Policy, Switzerland | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Back to Diplomacy – But How and When? Question and Answer Session

by Stephanie Liechtenstein. She works as website editor for the quarterly journal “Security and Human Rights” (SHR) and has held several positions in the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna (among them senior political assistant to the OSCE Secretary General) between 2003 and 2008. This article was published on the SHR-blog” (SHR) first. SHR is a quarterly journal devoted to issues inspired by the work and principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

On the margins of the 52nd Munich Security Conference, Members of the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project explain the essence of their final report (see previous article). The essence of the report is summarized in its title: “Back to Diplomacy”. Yet, it seems that currently there is no clear strategy in place as to how this should happen. In order to clarify this point, the author used the opportunity of the question and answer session at the Munich Security Conference side event, to ask the Panel and representative of the German OSCE Chairmanship how and when a diplomatic process will be launched so that the momentum that has been created by the final report does not get lost.

Pro-Russian separatists ride on a tank in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, February 1, 2015.

Pro-Russian separatists ride on a tank in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, February 1, 2015.

Question by Stephanie Liechtenstein: The title of the final report of the Panel of Eminent Persons reads “Back to Diplomacy”. The report states very clearly that the return to a strategic, diplomatic dialogue with Russia can only be initiated once the Minsk Agreements are implemented. In this context, how can we make sure that the momentum that has been created by the report does not get lost? I ask this question also against the backdrop that currently the dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council and between the EU and Russia is suspended.

Answer by Gernot Erler, Special Representative of the Federal Government of Germany for the OSCE Chairmanship: There is no other roadmap out of the current conflict besides the Minsk Agreements. The implementation of all of the 13 points of the Minsk Agreements is essential. The question is where we stand at the moment. There is a partial implementation of the Minsk Agreements, and that is a challenge because without the full implementation of the major points of the Minsk Agreements, we have no chance to go ahead with the next phase of implementation. So far we try to find a solution to improve the security and political environment for the next steps of the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. We have to work together. It is impossible to do that without a common approach of the western countries and Russia.

At the moment, the key concern relates to the political points of the Minsk Agreements, including the amendments of the Ukrainian constitution, the election law in eastern Ukraine and the rights of the authorities in these areas. This is a huge problem, but we believe that without a better political and security environment, we have no chance to address the just mentioned political points of the Minsk Agreements. For that we need a fully implemented ceasefire. We need signals from Moscow that troops will be withdrawn from Donbass and that Moscow is prepared to restore Ukraine’s control of its side of the international border. I think that we have a common interest here. Our Russian partners are very aware about the linkage between the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and the lifting of sanctions. We hope for constructive cooperation to prepare an environment where we have a chance for the two thirds majority in favor of the amendments of the Ukrainian constitution. We are convinced that without this it will be very difficult to continue implementation of other points.

25-03_engAnswer by Oleksandr Chalyi, former Ukrainian First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and President of Grant Thornton Ukraine: It was a very delicate task for me to participate in the fantastic work of the Panel. I want to stress that we have disagreements. But discussions on the disagreements were very constructive. The sense of our report is to have constructive disagreements.

The Minsk Agreement is an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire. It is not about a sustainable peaceful settlement of the conflict in and around Ukraine. I am very proud that it emerges very clearly from both Panel reports that without a sustainable peaceful settlement of the conflict in and around Ukraine, it will be impossible to establish a European security architecture as it was proclaimed in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 Charter of Paris. We recommend a few very concert steps to reinforce the possibility to find a strategic and sustainable solution to the conflict in and around Ukraine. First of all, we need to reinforce the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to give it more powers and capabilities and to add a peacekeeping element to this mission. Secondly, we propose to create a Ukraine Contact Group with participation not only of the members of the Normandy Format but also of the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. This could create a broader format to discuss a sustainable political settlement of the conflict. To my mind, this is a very important idea. Finally, if we manage to establish a ceasefire and to create the conditions for a sustainable political settlement, we can convene an OSCE summit. This summit could confirm the final elements of a sustainable settlement of the conflict in and around Ukraine. We expect that the German OSCE Chairmanship and incoming Austrian Chairmanship will finalize this in a summit in Vienna in 2017. This is possible, taking into account that the new president of the United States will be in power in one year from now.

Answer by Sergey A. Karaganov (Russia), Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy: With a diplomatic process, you have to know where you are heading. We do not know that. We have no clear picture about this. That is why I believe that our report can only be a stepping stone. The future intellectual effort of politicians and experts from all over the Eurasian space should be to understand where we should be heading. My advice would be to forget about the OSCE. It is a joke. Start instead with Eurasian security with the involvement of countries such as India, China and Iran. Then solve the unsolvable problems that have been created. It might be that I am wrong, it might be that I am right. But we first have to understand where we are heading.

Answer by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Member of UK Parliament and former Foreign Secretary: The question that you raised actually addresses two separate issues. The first one is how we should go forward on Ukraine. On this, there is only one show in town and that is the Minsk Agreements. We must not give the Russians any reasons to believe that there is any alternative to the Minsk Process in order to resolve that issue. The second question that you raised concerns the dialogue with Russia. Our interest with Russia concerns not just Ukraine. I believe very strongly that while we must be very hard on the Minsk Process being fully implemented, it is about time we resumed very real dialogue with Russia on a range of other issues, such as counter-terrorism, Syria, nuclear weapons etc. Yesterday NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said that the Alliance is considering resuming the dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council, but then he immediately went on to say that this would not include any practical cooperation. To me, that seemed ridiculous, because both sides would greatly benefit from practical cooperation. To rule out practical cooperation seemed like a symbolic, macho act of resistance that to me is pointless and unnecessary. The whole point of the NATO-Russia Council was a means of dialogue to address big differences. If there are – it is an if – areas of practical cooperation that would benefit both sides, then there is no logical or sensible reason not to take them forward.

A member of the Ukrainian armed forces stands guard as a convoy of the Ukrainian armed forces including armoured personnel carriers, military vehicles and cannons prepare to move as they pull back from the Debaltseve region, in Paraskoviyvka, eastern Ukraine, February 26, 2015.

A member of the Ukrainian armed forces stands guard as a convoy of the Ukrainian armed forces including armoured personnel carriers, military vehicles and cannons prepare to move as they pull back from the Debaltseve region, in Paraskoviyvka, eastern Ukraine, February 26, 2015.

Answer by Barbara Haering, former Member of the Swiss Parliament and Director of econcept: We have heard from the German Chairmanship about the immediate follow-up of the report. We also heard that the diplomatic follow-up will be in the framework of the Minsk Agreements. That is the step that has to be taken before other discussions can be started. But as we have also heard from our Georgian colleagues, there are other issues between the West and Russia that do need to be addressed within the framework of a robust diplomatic approach, such as establishing the security status of the countries in-between.

Our Panel has produced two reports: A first report on the OSCE Mission in Ukraine and a second report on European security in a broader sense. Our third task is to do outreach. We have decided this morning that we will not stop to present our report. We will have a series of outreach events this year to try and keep up the momentum you were asking for.

Answer by Jean-Marie Guéhenno (France), President of International Crisis Group, former UN Under Secretary-General: The Minsk Agreements are the beginning of everything but they cannot to be the end. In this context, I want to make two points. Firstly, I do agree with Sergey Karaganov that there is a global dimension to the discussion as there are fundamental rules established by the United Nations on what is aggression, what is sovereignty etc. These rules are not specific to Europe but have been agreed in 1945 and need to be maintained. However, there is a second level and this is where I disagree with Sergey Karaganov. We don’t believe that the OSCE should be considered a joke. We think that the very idea of good neighborly relations in Europe is very important. There is a history that binds Europe together. This means that the relationship between European countries is not the same as the relationship between a European country and a Latin American country or India. There is something that Europe needs to preserve.

What are good neighborly relations? They are based on trust and that is why we attach great importance to the narratives in the report. Because of incompatible narratives, the trust has been eroded. When trust is destroyed, everything has to be written and legislated. If you turn from voluntary decisions that are not embedded in a treaty to something that needs to be negotiated, then you run into questions such as sovereignty and leadership. What is very important in this report is to suggest that the Minsk Agreements are the basis and that if one wants to repair the badly damaged foundations of European security, one has to go beyond it and look at what binds us Europeans together. As Robert Cooper said “How you disagree is the benchmark of a civilized society”, but I do admit that the divisions are deep. In this context, the diplomatic process needs to be given some time and it cannot start too soon.

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Back to Diplomacy – But How and When?

by Stephanie Liechtenstein. She works as website editor for the quarterly journal “Security and Human Rights” (SHR) and has held several positions in the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna (among them senior political assistant to the OSCE Secretary General) between 2003 and 2008. This article was published on the SHR-blog” (SHR) first. SHR is a quarterly journal devoted to issues inspired by the work and principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Members of the Panel of Eminent Persons at an event on the final recommendations of the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project, on the margins of the 52nd Munich Security Conference, 14 February 2016 (Photo: Stephanie Liechtenstein).

Members of the Panel of Eminent Persons at an event on the final recommendations of the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project, on the margins of the 52nd Munich Security Conference, 14 February 2016 (Photo: Stephanie Liechtenstein).

In 2014, the OSCE Troika decided to establish a “Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project“, and selected Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger to chair it. Back then, the OSCE Troika members hoped that such a Panel would support efforts on how to reconsolidate European security, as the dialogue among OSCE participating States on this topic had produced no concrete results in almost 6 years and came to a complete halt in 2014 because of the eruption of the crisis in Ukraine.

However, the 57 OSCE participating States disagreed on the usefulness of such a Panel and some questioned whether it could indeed support efforts by OSCE states to discuss European security issues. Some OSCE states believed that the Panel could distort the role of the OSCE as the main forum for political dialogue on European security. Others thought that the Panel would be perceived as too independent and disconnected from the OSCE, rendering its recommendations less relevant for OSCE states.

Although Russia was initially supportive of establishing a Panel of Eminent Persons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov characterized the results of the Panel as “unimpressive” at a news conference in Moscow on 26 January 2016. At that conference, he also stated that “Western experts were toeing their governments’ official ‘contain Russia line’, for which reason the Russian expert had to distance himself from that document”. In a similar vein, Lavrov stated at the 2016 Munich Security Conference that the final report by the Panel “turned out to be NATO-centric and the Western countries are presented in the documents as the ‘keepers’ of the internal system’s stability, which they apparently want to keep unshakable”. This remark by Lavrov once again underscores the long-held Russian belief that a new European and Euro-Atlantic security architecture should be negotiated. Lavrov stated this clearly in Munich, when he added that “a reform of the world order should be negotiated, because such NATO-centric egotism, which reflects political nearsightedness, does much damage to seeking solutions to real, not invented, threats”.

The fact is that one year after its establishment the Panel published its final report and has since undertaken a number of outreach activities. One of them took place on the margins of the 2016 Munich Security Conference, with Ambassador Ischinger introducing the Panel and explaining the essence of the final report.

The report suggests “the return to a robust diplomatic process designed to replace mutual recrimination with rebuilding trust.” Before presenting some concrete recommendations, the report lays out the different historical interpretations and narratives that have led to the current deterioration in East-West relations. The report thus reveals very clearly the stark differences in historical interpretations between the West, Russia and the ‘states in-between’ (for example Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.) To address this issue, the report suggests a research project, bringing together scholars and historians in order to understand better the historical differences and to help overcome them.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine is not over, yet. Since the beginning of the year, the SMM has monitored some half a dozen incidents where ceasefire violations, including the use of heavy artillery close to water supply infrastructure have endangered workers’ lives and suspended repair works. For example, the water filtration station in Yasynuvata (photo above) stopped operating on 4 March due to continuous active fighting, leaving about 400,000 residents of Yasynuvata, Avdiivka and parts of Donetsk city without water (Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/OSCE).

The conflict in eastern Ukraine is not over, yet. Since the beginning of the year, the SMM has monitored some half a dozen incidents where ceasefire violations, including the use of heavy artillery close to water supply infrastructure have endangered workers’ lives and suspended repair works. For example, the water filtration station in Yasynuvata (photo above) stopped operating on 4 March due to continuous active fighting, leaving about 400,000 residents of Yasynuvata, Avdiivka and parts of Donetsk city without water (Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/OSCE).

The report also makes a number of very concrete recommendations, such as the reactivation of the NATO-Russia Council in order to improve operational safety, a resumption of military-to-military contacts, reinforcing the operations and capabilities of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and the creation of a Ukraine Contact Group that would bring together the Normandy Group and the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum.

Once the Minsk Agreements are implemented, the report suggests that the OSCE Chairmanship should launch a diplomatic process to rebuild the foundations of European security. This diplomatic process should conclude with an OSCE Summit meeting (in Vienna). The report carefully highlights the elements that such a diplomatic process should include, first and foremost a discussion on the security status of the countries in-between (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia). Secondly, and connected to this first point, the report stresses the need to discuss the settlement of the protracted conflicts as well as the status of the disputed territories. As additional elements, the report highlights the need to focus the diplomatic process on the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments, on economic connections and trade questions as well as on enhanced relations with the Mediterranean and Asian regions.

The essence of the report is summarized in its title: “Back to Diplomacy”. Yet, it seems that currently there is no clear strategy in place as to how this should happen. Suggestions made in the final report could serve as a starting point for the German OSCE Chairmanship to devise such a process, especially against the background that dialogue has been suspended in the NATO-Russian Council as well as between the EU and Russia.

In order to clarify this point, the author used the opportunity of the question and answer session at the Munich Security Conference side event, to ask the Panel and representative of the German Chairmanship how and when a diplomatic process will be launched so that the momentum that has been created by the final report does not get lost. Read the answers that were provided by the representative of the German Chairmanship and a selected number of Panel members in the next article

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52. Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz – Teil 4: The Health-Security Nexus

Zwischen dem 12. und dem 14. Februar 2016 fand die 52. Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz statt. Es ist eine der wichtigsten sicherheitspolitischen Konferenzen während des Jahres. Sie wurde in einer umfassenden Studie der University of Pennsylvania erneut als beste “Think Tank Conference” der Welt ausgezeichnet. In einer mehrteiligen Artikelserie werden die interessantesten Panels und Diskussionen der Konferenz beleuchtet. Im ersten Teil fassen wir die Eröffnungsreden der deutschen Verteidigungsministerin, Ursula von der Leyen und des französischen Verteidigungsminister, Jean-Yves Le Drian zusammen. Im zweiten Teil, geht es um die Herausforderungen im Nahen Osten, im dritten Teil um die europäische Flüchtlingskrise und im vierten Teil um den “Health-Security Nexus”.

Operation United Assistance: U.S. Air Force personnel put up tents at the site of the 25-bed modular hospital (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images).

Operation United Assistance: U.S. Air Force personnel put up tents at the site of the 25-bed modular hospital (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images).

Die Verkoppelung von Gesundheit und Sicherheitspolitik ist umstritten. Einerseits kann eine sicherheitspolitische Auswirkung von Pandemien und Seuchen nicht von der Hand gewiesen werden. Mit der fortschreitenden Globalisierung, der hohen Mobilität und der Vernetztheit können solche gesundheitliche Ausnahmezustände einen direkten Einfluss auf die Stabilität von Staaten haben. Die Frage ist dabei nicht ob so ein Ernstfall eintrifft, sondern wann (David Quammen, “The Next Pandemic: Not if, but When“, The New York Times, 09.05.2013). Andererseits wurde von Patrick Truffer bereits im Artikel “Securitization of everything or how to lose the sense of security at all” anhand des US-amerikanische Unterstützungseinsatzes zur Bekämpfung der Ebola in Westafrika (Operation United Assistance) die Problematik der seit den 1980er-Jahren erfolgte Ausweitung des ursprünglich eng gefasste Begriff “Sicherheit” kritisch betrachtet (siehe auch Alex de Waal, “Militarizing Global Health“, Boston Review, 11.11.2014).

Der “Health-Security Nexus” war auch Thema der 52. Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz, wenn auch bloss im Rahmen des “Nacht-Panels”. Als Einführung sollte das unten angefügte Video den Zusammenhang zwischen Gesundheit und Sicherheit aufzeigen. Leider wurden anschliessend bei den Reden und Diskussionen die beiden Unterbereiche “Krankheiten als sicherheitspolitische Herausforderung” und “die Rolle des medizinischen Personals in modernen Konflikten” nicht säuberlich getrennt und besprochen — hier hat der Leiter des Panels, Robin Niblett, Direktor von Chatham House, nicht das volle Potential ausgeschöpft.

Die UN-Mission für Ebola-Notfallmassnahmen (UNMEER) war die erste UN Mission, welche aufgrund einer Krankheit zu Stande gekommen ist. Trotz der damit verbundenen hohen internationalen Aufmerksamkeit, habe dies gemäss Joanne Liu, Präsidentin von Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), zu keiner Verhaltensänderung der internationalen Staatengemeinschaft gegenüber einer drohenden Epedemie oder Pamdemie geführt. Das zeige der Ausbruch des Zika-Virus-Infektion Ende 2015 / anfangs 2016 demonstrativ auf: Industriestaaten, welche über die notwendigen Mitteln verfügen würden, hielten sich bei der zeitverzugslosen Bekämpfung am Entstehungsort zurück. Sie würden erst dann aktiv, wenn sie selber direkt durch eine solche Epedemie gefährdet würden, was aber die Bekämpfung durch die bereits verstrichene Zeit extrem erschwehre. Die Gelbfieber-Epedemie in Angola stelle ein weiteres Beispiel dar. Ende Februar wurden bereits 462 Verdachtsfälle und 99 Todesfälle registriert, ohne dass dabei viel dagegen unternommen wurde. Liu spricht sich weder explizit für oder gegen eine Versicherheitlichung gesundheitlicher Themen aus, weisst jedoch darauf hin, dass infizierten Patienten nicht als Sicherheitsbedrohung aufgefasst werden dürfen, sondern dass sie die adequate Behandlung erfahren sollten. Dies ist jedoch ein möglicher negativer Effekt bei der Versicherheitlichung neben anderen Restriktionen, wie beipielsweise eine Isolierung der betroffenen Staaten durch umfassende Reise-Restriktionen, wie sie beispielsweise im Falle der Ebola von einigen US-Politikern gefordert wurden.

Was das medizinische Personal in modernen Konflikten angeht, weist Liu auf einen sehr wichtigen Punkt hin. Für sie als Ärztin seien alle Patienten gleich, das schulde sie der medizinischen Ethik. Das heisst, dass sie auch jemand verarzten würde, der einer terroristischen Organisation angehört, ohne dass sie in irgendeiner Weise dessen Handlungen gut heissen würde: der Arzt meines Feindes ist nicht mein Feind! Gemäss humanitärem Völkerrecht sind alle Staaten an diese neutrale Stellung von medizinischem Personal und dessen Schutz gebunden (Genfer Konvention I-IV und das Zusatzprotokoll I an, welche im Falle eines internationalen bewaffneten Konfliktes gelten). Diese Regeln wurden grad in letzter Zeit wieder öfters verletzt: Zwischen dem Oktober 2015 bis zum Februar 2016 wurden medizinische Einrichtungen der Médecins Sans Frontières in Afghanistan, mehrfach in Yemen und in Syrien bombardiert. In diesem Kontext kritisiert Liu, dass humanitäre Hilfe zwar gerne im Kontext internationaler Sicherheit gesehen würde, sie jedoch angegriffen werde, wenn sie diese Hilfe ausserhalb dieses Kontextes geleistet würde.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Eliece Soebbing discusses proper use of a tourniquet with Botswana Defense Force medics as Army Major Pam Aitchison, officer-in-charge of the forward support hospital’s intensive care unit, tends to a simulated patient during exercise Southern Accord, August 8, 2012. Southern Accord is a joint, combined training exercise led by U.S. Army Africa to expand capabilities between the U.S. military and Botswana Defense Force and enhance their interoperability. (Photo: Donna Miles).

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Eliece Soebbing discusses proper use of a tourniquet with Botswana Defense Force medics as Army Major Pam Aitchison, officer-in-charge of the forward support hospital’s intensive care unit, tends to a simulated patient during exercise Southern Accord, August 8, 2012. Southern Accord is a joint, combined training exercise led by U.S. Army Africa to expand capabilities between the U.S. military and Botswana Defense Force and enhance their interoperability. (Photo: Donna Miles).

Kein Zweifel an der Zweckmässigkeit einer Verkoppelung von Gesundheit und Sicherheitspolitik liess der Kommandant des United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), US-Generals David M. Rodriguez. Seit Anfang an gehöre die Befähigung afrikanischer Staaten mit medizinischen Notfallsituationen umgehen zu können zu den Aufgaben von AFRICOM. Während der Operation United Assistance hätten die U.S. Streitkräfte in fünf Regionen innerhalb Liberias über 1’500 Personen des medizinischen Personals ausgebildet, logistische Unterstützung angeboten, 11 Ebola Behandlungszentren sowie 6 Labore aufgebaut und betrieben. Schlüsselfaktoren zur erfolgreichen Bekämpfung der Ebola-Epedemie seien die angemessene Information zum Schutz der Bevölkerung, die Kontaktüberprüfung bei infizierten Patienten, die Absicherung der Grenzen, die Ausbildung von Personal und der Betrieb der Labore gewesen. Nach dem Einsatz habe AFRICOM in 11 westafrikanischen Staaten einen gezielten Fähigkeitsaufbau im medizinischen Bereich verfolgt und die dabei gewonnen Lehren mit dem Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre geteilt. Diese Ausführungen sind natürlich recht positiv gefärbt, denn beispielsweise blieben die von den U.S. Streitkräften aufgebauten Behandlungszentren grösstenteils leer. Ausserdem stellt sich die Frage, ob das für die Operation United Assistance aufgewendete Geld nicht zweckmässiger in für medizinische Hilfe vor Ort spezialisierten Organisationen investiert gewesen wäre.

Der ehemalige General James L. Jones geht sogar noch ein Schritt weiter und sieht die internationale Staatengemeinschaft in einer Übergangsphase. Die klassische Auffassung internationaler Sicherheit werde durch eine ausgeweiteten Definition abgelöst wird, in der nicht nur medizinische Themen, sondern auch Energie-, Klima- und Cyber-Sicherheit ihren berechtigten Stellenwert hätten. Was die öffentliche Gesundheit angehe, so bestehe in einer globalisierten Welt eine Verbindung zur politischer Stabilität. Auf das Eingangsstatement über die Rolle des medizinischen Personals in modernen Konflikten von Liu äussert sich Jones kritisch: Früher hätten die Regeln internationaler Konflikte gegolten und dementsprechend standen Personal mit rotem Kreuz unter besonderem Schutz, doch heutzutage sei die Definition eines internationalen Konfliktes nicht mehr eindeutig. Ausserdem werde medizinisches Personal oftmals als Schutzschild genutzt, was bei einem “Unfall” von der Gegenseite propagandistisch ausgenutzt werde. Jone’s Standpunkt in dieser Angelegenheit ist nicht richtig, denn Patienten sind auch bei einem internen bewaffneten Konflikt unter der Genfer Konvention I Art. 3 und das medizinisches Personal unter dem Zusatzprotokoll II geschützt. Der Schutz des medizinischen Personals ist also unabhängig von der Feststellung ob es sich um einen internationalen Konflikt handelt oder nicht.

Unruhen und Gewalt nach dem Erdbebben in Haiti 2010 (Foto: (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters).

Unruhen und Gewalt nach dem Erdbebben in Haiti 2010 (Foto: (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters).

Auch Rüdiger Krech, Direktor Health Systems and Innovation der WHO sieht wegen dem globalen Ausmass einer Pandemie eine damit verbundene sicherheitspolitische Komponente. Wegen der Globalisierung würden Landesgrenzen heutzutage keinen Schutz vor Verbreitung mehr bieten. Damit würden Lösungsansätze, welche vielleicht vor 20 Jahren noch adäquat gewesen seien, heute nicht mehr funktionieren. Da habe insbesondere auch die WHO Nachholbedarf: Die Ebola-Epidemie habe aufgezeigt, dass die Kommunikation zwischen den von der Ebola betroffenen Gebieten und der WHO verbessert werden müssen. Auch die Vorbereitungs- und Reaktionszeit der WHO seien noch nicht adäquat. In ihren Ausführungen bestätigte Hanna Serwaah Tetteh, Aussenministerin Ghanas,diese Einschätzungen: Auch wenn gesundheitliche Themen bereits vor dem Ausbruch der Ebola mit regionalen Partnerstaaten besprochen wurden, seien die Staaten in der Region durch den Ebola-Ausbruch in Guinea komplett überrascht. Sogar als Ebola sich nach Liberia und Sierra Leone ausbreitete, wurde die Dimension des Problems noch nicht ernst genommen. Gemäss Krech seien Verbesserung wichtig, weil nicht die Frage zentral sei, ob eine Pandemie ausbreche, sondern wann sie ausbrechen werde. Er erwiderte Jones auch, dass der Schutz des medizinischen Personals in Konflikten von den Genfer Konventionen klar geregelt seien. Wenn diese internationalen Vorgaben nicht mehr eingehalten würden, dann werde es kein medizinisches Personal mehr in Krisengebieten geben. Dies sei bereits heute spürbar: Waren nach dem Erdbeben in Haiti 2010 noch 150 Ärzteteams vor Ort tätig, waren nur gerade zwei Ärzteteams bereit in die Ebola-Gebiete zu reisen (zur militärische Katastrophenhilfe in Haiti siehe hier). Leider hinkt Krech’s Vergleich etwas, denn vermutlich war die Bereitschaft der Ärzteteams im Falle Ebola tiefer, weil es sich im Gegensatz zu Haiti um eine schwerwiegende übertragbare Krankheit handelte. Schliesslich waren weder Haiti noch die Ebola-Gebiete Konfliktgebiete.

Weitere Informationen
Daniela Braun, “Health Security: Abwarten ist keine Option“, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik e. V., DGAPkompakt 10, 17.03.2016.

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U.S. Military Making Far-Reaching Changes in Preparation for Women Entering Combat

by Darien Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh is a contributor for War is Boring and Reverb Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for Auntie Bellum

The ban on women in combat was lifted Jan. 23, 2013. Though 99 percent of the careers offered in the Air Force were already open to women, the decision will open more than 230,000 jobs across all branches of the military. The DoD had has allowed women to serve as combat pilots for more than 20 years (Illustration by Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony, courtesy of the Air Force/DoD).

The ban on women in combat was lifted Jan. 23, 2013. Though 99 percent of the careers offered in the Air Force were already open to women, the decision will open more than 230,000 jobs across all branches of the military. The DoD had has allowed women to serve as combat pilots for more than 20 years (Illustration by Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony, courtesy of the Air Force/DoD).

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced last week that it has approved plans for women to be integrated into combat roles and all other roles previously reserved for men. The new plans apply to all branches of the U.S. armed forces, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

The Pentagon first lifted the ban on women serving in U.S. military combat units, including the Navy SEALs and other elite special forces, in 2013. To assuage skepticism from critics of the decision, the ban came with a stipulation that women seeking to serve in combat must pass all standard mental and physical tests and training.

Of course, bringing large numbers of women into roles they had previously been excluded from requires more than simply lifting a ban. Each branch of the military was given a deadline of January of this year to either complete plans to fully integrate women or request exemptions for specific specialties.

According to CNN, in order to develop plans for effectively introducing women into specialties newly available to them within the military, each branch explored the potential impact of thousands of new women recruits, evaluated possible cultural concerns and questions regarding the physical demands of combat service, and assessed the views of men who would be serving alongside women for the first time, particularly those in special forces units like the Rangers, SEALs and Green Beret.

The plans presented by the individual branches of the military varied greatly in length and detail. According to the Christian Science Monitor, which was among the first to cover the specifics of the individual plans, the Marines offered a 56-page plan with detailed guidelines regarding how to prepare to train and recruit women throughout its ranks, from the infantry to elite special operations command. In contrast, the SOCOM planning document made public consisted of only a few pages and was, perhaps predictably, rather skimpy on details.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley congratulates 1st Lt. Shaye Haver for graduating U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 21, 2015. Haver and class member Capt. Kristen Griest became the first female graduates of the school (Photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez, courtesy of the U.S. Army/DoD).

Whether or not any branches asked for exceptions to exclude women from specific roles, the DoD ultimately chose not to exclude women from any area of service. “There will be no exceptions,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said at a news conference in December. “[Women will] be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

Anticipating the new opportunities that would be offered to them, Women began signing up for combat positions and enrolling in special forces training before the plans to integrate them were even finalized. Last August, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver made history by becoming the first two women to graduate from the U.S. Army’s elite Ranger School. At least one other women, Maj. Lisa Jaster, completed Ranger School since then. With new plans and regulations in effect, these women should soon receive assignments. Likewise, the first female Navy SEALS could begin getting assignments in 2017.

The transition to include women in a broader range of roles is causing the military to undergo vast institutional changes. It requires major overhauls such as adapting recruiting and training practices, as well as simple but significant changes like making job titles and descriptions as gender neutral as possible. One crucial change concerns the design of the gear that will be worn by women assuming fighting roles.

Women have served the U.S. military in numerous non-combat capacities in war zones for years. In fact, roughly 200 women have died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many more have been wounded in those countries. However, because women have traditionally not served in infantry or other combat specialities, the Pentagon never bothered designing body armor and gear to specifically fit women. As a result, many women in combat zones wear armor that limits their range of motion or doesn’t effectively protect their bodies.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Elana Duffy served in intelligence from 2003 to 2013. She was on the front lines, interviewing insurgents, but her body armor didn’t offer her much protection. “My entire lower pelvis was exposed,” Duffy said in a recent report for Vice. A spokesperson for the DoD told Vice they have budgeted $150 million for a pilot program to develop new protective gear specifically for women. The program began as recruitment tool, but in a move that highlights the DoD’s commitment to making women an integral part of combat units for the long haul, retention became a key factor in assessing the program’s success. “We do believe … that this new benefit will have positive effects on women’s retention, over time,” the spokesperson told Vice.

The military is currently testing new gear that would increase coverage of the pelvic area with a set of chaps that clip on at the outside of the leg. Though, all the gear pictured in the poster won’t be available until 2019 (Image courtesy of PEO Soldier). Click on the image to enlarge it.

The military is currently testing new gear that would increase coverage of the pelvic area with a set of chaps that clip on at the outside of the leg. Though, all the gear pictured in the poster won’t be available until 2019 (Image courtesy of PEO Soldier). Click on the image to enlarge it.

While many have embraced the decision to welcome women into the combat lineup, there have been some critics. Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and West Point graduate who authored the book “Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women into Combat“, told Time in 2013 that he feared the Pentagon would lower standards to allow women to serve in combat roles. According to Maginnis, this would undermine the effectiveness of America’s fighting forces. “Pentagon brass are kowtowing to their political masters and radical feminists to remove exemptions for women in ground combat in defiance of overwhelming scientific evidence and combat experience,” Maginnis said in an interview with Time’s Mark Thompson. “This craven behavior is terribly dangerous for our armed forces, our national security, and especially the young women who will be placed in harm’s way.”

When Thompson pointed out that the Pentagon had insisted it would not be lowering standards for anyone, Maginnis replied, “I don’t believe them, and neither should the American people… Personnel policy, however, is driven by the ‘diversity metrics’ outlined in the 2011 Report of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. Diversity, not military readiness, is the highest priority.”

While Maginnis’s opinion may not be the most popular, and could arguably be considered archaic, he’s not alone. A recent poll suggested that two out of three male Marines and one out of three female Marines oppose women transferring into combat specialties. Another poll suggested that only 22 percent of women currently serving in the military were “moderately” or “very” interested in being part of fighting units.

The arguments against women fighting alongside men on the front lines tend to echo Maginnis’s assertions. They’re often based on the opinion that integrated units will perform worse than all-male units. Research on the topic has produced conflicting results. A November article from The Army Times suggests that the women graduating from Ranger School performed comparably to men during their training. However, a report published by the Marine Corps only two months earlier claimed that gender-integrated combat units fell short of their all-male counterparts. Both reports were based on a small sample group, which could skew results. For instance, The Army Times article is based on the results of only two women’s performances in Ranger School. And in 2 of the 5 categories of integrated infantry courses the Marine Corps studied for its report — the Tank Crewman Course and the AAV Crewman Course — only 7 women attempted the courses whereas dozens of men did. To get more definitive results related directly to performance in the U.S. military will take additional time and research.

In the meantime, there are more than a dozen nations where women can serve in combat roles. In many of those countries women having been serving in combat specialties for more than a decade. That could provide some insight into the matter, and there is considerable evidence that these nations have suffered no reduction in the effectiveness of their fighting units as a result of integrating women into them. Women also serve in combat roles in militias and other fighting units around the globe. The all-women Kurdish militia units fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq come to mind.

The ability to join fighting units in the U.S. armed forces is crucial to women’s opportunities beyond the battlefield. Service in infantry and other combat units can be vital to career advancement in the military. The plans from the individual branches of the military take this into consideration and seek to expand the path to promotion for female service members. The Marines Corps’ gender-integration plan, for instance, calls for every ground combat battalion to have at least two female officers or noncommissioned officers from the Marines or Navy staffed at least 90 days prior to junior female Marines arriving to the unit.

These women officers will serve their primary military occupational specialty in these units, but they’ll help ensure the units are being effectively integrated as well. “Their presence is also intended to help acculturate and socialize previously all-male units to working with female Marines. Finally, their presence will also create mentorship opportunities with female (and male) Marines,” The Marine Times reported.

Lt. Cmdr. Janet Pesane of NMCB 18 addresses a group of assembled Chief Petty Officers and Seabees during a meeting of Women Mentoring Women. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss professional development for females in the Navy. Intelligence Specialist Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Buitron first began holding the meetings in August 2010. Since that time nearly 70 female Navy personnel have participated in the program designed to address the specific professional challenges and needs of women. (Photo: Seaman Leif Herr Gesell U.S. Navy).

Lt. Cmdr. Janet Pesane of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18 addresses a group of assembled Chief Petty Officers and Seabees during a meeting of Women Mentoring Women. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss professional development for females in the Navy. Intelligence Specialist Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Buitron first began holding the meetings in August 2010. Since that time nearly 70 female Navy personnel have participated in the program designed to address the specific professional challenges and needs of women (Photo: Seaman Leif Herr Gesell U.S. Navy).

 
These are positive changes, but there is, of course, still considerable work to be done.

In January officials from the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) hosted forumon the integration of combat jobs and other cultural changes within the military in Washington, D.C. According to an article in The Military Times, the forum sought to provide military women with the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve their goals, both personally and professionally. “What we hear from our members is that they still don’t feel like they have a community where they belong,” Julie Patterson, the CEO of SWAN told The Military Times. “They don’t really know where to turn.” Patterson is working to build a supportive and empowering network for the new generation of women entering the military’s ranks. “We’re hoping that because we’re by women, for women, they’ll be more willing to look at what we’re providing,” she said.

Despite the massive overhaul the military is undergoing to become more gender-neutral and inclusive, it appears that there is at least one gender-specific rule that will remain intact for now. Women may be welcome to join fighting units, but they still don’t have to worry about being drafted into them anytime soon.

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