Sea Control 57 – Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China

As you surely noticed, I had to skip the review of the last episodes due my work load. Dean Cheng, a Senior Research Fellow at the Asian Studies Center at the The Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation gives you in in this episode of Sea Control a brief and concise overview of some current Chinese topics. He explains the protests in Hong Kong and why – most likely – nothing will come out of it. But the Chinese crisis management in Hong Kong is followed very closely by other states like Taiwan, which sees it as an indicator of the Chinas seriousness of the “one country, two systems” approach.

 
 
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If you like this episode, you should probabily listen to episode 41, too, when Dean Cheng speaks about Chinas worldview.

• • •

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

Posted in China, English, Politics in General, Sea Control | Leave a comment

Trauer und Widerstand bei Peshmerga-Beerdigung

von Vager Saadullah. Vager Saadullah (Twitter / Facebook) ist ein kurdischer Journalist und Editor in Dohuk, Irak. Er absolviert einen Masterstudiengang in Internationale Beziehungen an der Girne American University in Zypern. Die Englische Version dieses Artikels wurde auf War Is Boring veröffentlicht.

Übersetzung: Alison Haywood. Alison Haywood (Twitter) ist eine US-amerikanische Journalistin, welche momentan einen Masterstudiengang in Journalistik in Aarhus, Dänemark absolviert. Sie schreibt und berichtet für Publikationen in den Vereinigten Staaten und in Deutschland.

Die Beerdigung des Peshmerga-Soldaten Sebri Bamerni in seinem Heimatdorf brachte Familienangehörige aus Deutschland und den Vereinigten Staaten zusammen und es war eine Erinnerung an all die verlorenen Menschenleben im eskalierenden Kampf gegen den IS. (Foto: Vager Saadullah).

Die Beerdigung des Peshmerga-Soldaten Sebri Bamerni in seinem Heimatdorf brachte Familienangehörige aus Deutschland und den Vereinigten Staaten zusammen und es war eine Erinnerung an all die verlorenen Menschenleben im eskalierenden Kampf gegen den IS. (Foto: Vager Saadullah).

 
Als sein Land ihn brauchte, ließ Sebri Bamerni sein Leben in Deutschland hinter sich und nahm den Kampf auf. Bamerni war einer von vielen pensionierten Peschmerga-Soldaten, die zurück ins irakische Kurdistan gekehrt sind, um gegen die eindringende IS-Miliz zu kämpfen. Bamerni starb während er die Mosul-Talsperre vor den IS-Kämpfern schützte. Er war 51 Jahre alt.

Bamerni wurde 1962 in Bamerne geboren. Er war noch ein Teenager als er sich 1979 den Peshmerga-Soldaten an der türkischen Grenze anschloss. Bereits 1984 war er verantwortlich für die Peshmerga-Kräfte in Sheikhan und Umgebung, die der Demokratische Partei Kurdistans (DPK) loyal waren. Zwischen 1984 und 1988 kämpfte er gegen das baathistische Regime Saddam Husseins.

“Ich erinnere mich daran, als wir Kinder waren haben wir uns nach Peshmerga-Helden benannt,” schrieb der kurdische Journalist Ayub Nisry auf Facebook nachdem Sebri Bamerni getötet wurde. “Einer davon war Sebri Bamerni, wegen seinem großen Engagement gegen das irakische Regime. Sein Ruhm und Mut sind bei uns hängen geblieben.”

Die baathistische Antwort auf den kurdischen Widerstand war die brutale Anfal-Operation, während deren die irakische Armee fast 3’000 kurdische Dörfer zerstörte und 182’000 Kurden tötete. Im Zuge der Operation kam es zum schlimmsten Chemiewaffenangriff der Geschichte – gegen das Dorf Halabja – sowie zu 1,5 Millionen Flüchtlingen.

Bamerni verließ den Irak und ging in ein türkisches Flüchtlingscamp, wo er kurz darauf kurdischer Camp-Manager wurde. Doch aufgrund seiner politischen Aktivität wurde er von der türkischen Regierung genauestens beobachtet und schikaniert. Er verließ deshalb die Türkei über Griechenland, bevor er sich vorübergehend in Deutschland niederliess.

Sebri Barmeni mit Waffe und Peshmerga-Uniform.

Sebri Barmeni mit Waffe und Peshmerga-Uniform.

Als US-amerikanische Kräfte 2003 in den Irak einmarschierten, kehrte Bamerni in seinen Heimatort Bamerne zurück. Er wurde stellvertretender Chef eines Zweigs der DPK in Mosul. Gemäss seinem Bruder Mustafa übte er diese Funktion bis 2006 aus. Aufgrund von Verletzungen und Operationen zog er sich anschliessend nach Deutschland zurück. Sein Bruder Mustafa, ein US-amerikanischer Bürger, war ebenfalls in den Irak gezogen. Er arbeitete bis 2009 als Dolmetscher für die amerikanische Truppen in Mosul und Baghdad. Mustafa war in Kurdistan als sein Bruder sich entschied, ein letztes Mal zu kämpfen.

“Als der IS Sinjar besezte, ist mein Bruder Sebri aus Deutschland gekommen,” sagte Mustafa. “Eines Nachts ist er in unserem Haus angekommen und am Morgen danach trat er den Peshmerga-Soldaten bei.”

Bamernis 24-jähriger Neffe Fawzi ist ebenfals Peshmerga-Kämpfer, und hat wie sein Onkel an der Mosul-Talsperre gekämpft: “Zwei Tage bevor er getötet wurde, war ich mit ihm an der Front,” sagte Fawzi. “Er befahl mir, ein Paar Dokumente nach Dohuk zu bringen. Ich habe ihn gefragt, ob ich bei ihm bleiben dürfe, aber er hat es abgelehnt und gesagt: ‘geh!’ Er sagte mir: ‘Niemand kann mich an der Front töten,'” so Fawzi. “Die Peshmerga-Soldaten, die bei Sebri waren als er starb, haben uns gesagt, es hätte einen schweren Kampf im Dorf gegeben,” erklärte Fawzi. “Es gab zwei Scharfschützen in einem Haus. Sie haben so lange gegen sie gekämpft, dass sie dachten, sie hätten sie getötet. Sie gingen ins Haus. Sebri war der Erste, der ins Haus eingetreten ist.” Die Peshmerga durchsuchten das Haus. Aber es gab noch einen verletzten Kämpfer im Haus – einen russischen Dschihadist. Als Sebri das Haus verlassen wollte, schoss er ihm in den Rücken.

“Eine Woche vor seinem Tod gab Sebri mir eine Patrone und steckte einen anderen in seine Tasche,” erinnert sich Fawzi. “Er sagte, ‘Wir sind Männer, wir sind hier um zu kämpfen und nicht um wegzulaufen. Wir werden so lange kämpfen, wie wir können, und wenn wir wissen, wir werden vom IS gefangen genommen, dann töten wir uns mit diesem Schuss.’ Er hat die Patrone in meinen Hand gelegt und gesagt, ‘Du nutzt diesen Schuss nur um dich zu töten.'”

Fawzi mit der Patrone, welche ihm sein Onkel gegeben hatte (Foto: Vager Saadullah).

Fawzi mit der Patrone, welche ihm sein Onkel gegeben hatte (Foto: Vager Saadullah).

Bamernis ältester Sohn Party Sebri, 22, wurde in Deutschland geboren und reiste nach für die Beerdigung Kurdistan. Sein Vater habe ihn beauftragt, sich um die Familie zu kümmern während er im Kampf sei. “Ich werde mich um die Familie kümmern, wie versprochen,” versicherte er. Bamernis 46-jähriger Bruder Idris wohnt in Nashville, Tennessee – der größten kurdischen Gemeinde der Vereinigten Staaten: “Ich war bei einem Bewerbungsgespräch,” sagte er. “Als ich nach Hause kam, sah ich meine Freunde vor unserem Haus in Nashville, und meine Familie benahm sich ungewöhnlich. Sie haben mir gesagt, dass mein Bruder sich aufgeopfert habe. Wir haben die Trauerfeier über vier Tage abgehalten. In unserer Kultur dauern Beerdigungen üblicherweise drei Tage, aber wir haben eine große kurdische Gemeinde in Nashville und unsere Familienangehörigen sind von weit entfernten Städten in den Vereinigten Staaten gekommen.” Doch nicht nur die kurdische Gemeinde unterstützte die Familie Bamerni. “Unsere amerikanischen Nachbarn sind gekommen und haben uns mit Essen, Wasser, Tischen und Parkplätzen für die anreisenden Angehörigen unterstützt,” sagte Idris. Nach der vier-Tage-Beerdigung in Nashville sind Idris uns seine Mutter nach Kurdistan geflogen, um Bamernis Grab zu besuchen und an seinem Begräbnis dort teilzunehmen.

Bamernis Abenteuer inspirieren seine Familie. “In den 80er Jahren, wurde ich von Saddams Regime festgenommen als ich noch Schüler war, weil ich ein Foto vom kurdischen Anführer Massoud Barzani in der Hosentasche hatte,” sagte Idris. “Das Regime hat uns schikaniert weil mein Bruder Sebri ein Peshmerga-Kommandant war und er viele Aktivitäten gegen das Regime durchgeführt hat. Ich wurde am 18 April 1987 aus der Haft entlassen, habe die Schule verlassen und bin in die Berge gegangen um bei den Peschmerga einzutreten.”

“Es ist schon lange her, dass sich mein Vater den Peshmerga anschloss, und er in vielen Gefechten gegen Saddams Regime kämpfte,” sagte Peiv Sebri, Bamernis 18-jährige Tochter, die in Deutschland geboren wurde. “Er hoffte darauf, nicht von den Arabern getötet zu werden, und wir waren stolz als uns gesagt wurde, dass der Terrorist der ihn getötet hat kein Araber war, sondern ein Russe. Mein Vater diente dem kurdischen Staat eine lange Zeit, aber leider hat die kurdische Regierung ihn ignoriert,” so Piev weiter. “Er kämpfte sogar dann gegen die Terroristen, als er über keine ausreichenden Waffen verfügte, aber erst jetzt kommen sie und erzählen uns, dass unserer Vater ein Held sei!”

Peiman Sebri, 23, wurde in Griechenland geboren bevor ihr Vater sich in Deutschland niederließ. “Mein Vater fürchtete sich vor niemand, außer Gott,” sagte sie, weinend. “Als manche Propaganda gemacht haben, dass der IS nach Dohuk kommt, hat mein Vater uns angerufen und gesagt, ‘Keine Angst, ich bin an der Front. Ich lasse sie nicht dorthin kommen’.”

Sebri's Söhne und Töchter mit Ausnahme eines Sohnes, welcher bereits nach Deutschland zurückgereist ist (Foto: Vager Saadullah).

Sebri’s Söhne und Töchter mit Ausnahme eines Sohnes, welcher bereits nach Deutschland zurückgereist ist (Foto: Vager Saadullah).

“Wir sind so stolz, dass mein Bruder sich für Kurdistan, die kurdische Ehre und Werte aufgeopfert hat,” sagte Idris. “Warum sollte ich über seinen Märtyrertod traurig sein? Er war 51 Jahre alt und als er gegen Saddams Regime gekämpft hatte, wurde er mehr als viermal verletzt. Wenn er im Krankenhaus gestorben wäre, würde niemand nach ihm fragen. Aber da er Märtyrer im Kampf gegen die IS-Terroristen geworden ist, sind wir stolz auf ihn. Und als Familie von Sebri sind wir bereit, gegen den IS zu kämpfen.”

• • •

Anmerkung von offiziere.ch
Da andere Staaten keine Bodentruppen einsetzen, tragen die verschiedenen kurdischen Einheiten in Syrien und Irak die Hauptlast des Kampfes gegen die IS. Manche der daran beteiligten kurdischen Organisationen werden von einigen Staaten als terroristische Organisation eingestuft (beispielsweise die PKK in der Türkei, der EU und den USA). Dies ist bei den Peschmerga nicht der Fall – es handelte es sich um die Streitkräfte der autonomen Region Kurdistan im Irak und damit um die bewaffneten Einheiten der anerkannten politischen Parteien DPK und Patriotische Union Kurdistans. Im Status einer Regionalgarde innerhalb Iraks werden die Peschmerga seit 2003 von den US-Streitkräften unterstützt und ausgerüstet. Seit anfangs September liefert auch die Deutsche Bundeswehr den Peschmerga Waffen und bildet sie daran aus (siehe “Deutsche Waffen für ‘kurdischen Sicherheitskräfte’“, offiziere.ch, 02.09.2014).

Der obige Artikel zeigt das Schicksal eines getöteten Peshmerga-Soldaten und seiner Familie auf. Im Gegensatz zu gefallenen US-amerikanischen oder europäischen Soldaten tauchen gefallene Soldaten der “verbündeten” Kräfte aus dem Nahen Osten kaum in den westlichen Medien auf. Es drängt sich deshalb etwas das Bild auf, dass momentan die kurdischen Kämpfer als Kanonenfutter missbraucht werden, denn “Boots on the ground” wird von etlichen Staaten kategorisch ausgeschlossen. Im Gegensatz dazu reisen Einzelpersonen in die Krisengebiete, um gegen die IS zu kämpfen. Alleine die PKK soll anscheinend bereits gegen 50 Personen in Deutschland zum Kampf gegen die IS rekrutiert haben. Mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit beteiligen sich auch einzelne Schweizer am Kampf gegen den IS, wie das Beispiel eines ehemaligen Berufsunteroffiziers der Schweizer Armee zeigt. Was Schweizer Staatsangehörige angeht, so ist der Eintritt in fremden Militärdienst verboten und wird gemäss Art. 94 Militärstrafgesetz mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu drei Jahren oder Geldstrafe geahndet.

Posted in Armed Forces, International, Iraq, Vager Saadullah | 2 Comments

Has Russia violated the INF-Treaty? And what could that mean for Europe?

By Danny Chahbouni. Danny studies History and Political Science at the Philipps-University of Marburg.

The year 2014 seems to be going down in history as “the return of history to Europe”. Russian troops annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and a Russian-backed Hybrid War is still going on in the eastern parts of the country. While western nations struggle to find an adequate answer to this unbelievable violation of international law, things could get far worse. Is Vladimir Putin willing to ban the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and challenge the unprepared West in the sensitive area of nuclear weapons?

Gorbachev and Reagan signing the INF-Treaty at the White House on December 8, 1987. Source: Wikipedia

Gorbachev and Reagan signing the INF-Treaty at the White House on December 8, 1987. Source: Wikipedia

A landmark treaty
The 1987 signed agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union marked the end of the Cold War arms race and was simultaneously an expression of a new era in East-West-relations. Since the massive deployment of Soviet SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) in the late 1970s, IRBMs had been hot-button issues for western governments. In fact, the USSR had challenged NATO’s superiority in the field of INFs by the deployment of this new class of missiles. The West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was the first NATO leader who warned, that the stability in Europe might be threatened by the appearance of the SS-20. After the NATO Double-Track Decision and the inconclusive arms reduction talks in Geneva, Pershing II medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) and Ground Launched Cruised Missiles (GLCM) were stationed in West Germany, Great Britain and Italy.

In 1986 arms reduction talks resumed, but the breakthrough was reached during the Reykjavik Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The talks were benefited by Chancellor Kohl’s decision to retire the older Pershing IA. These missiles were operated by the Bundesluftwaffe and would have been equipped with American W50 thermonuclear warheads as part of NATO’s nuclear sharing.

On December 8, 1987, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was finally signed in Washington. The treaty regulated which kind of missiles and delivery vehicles were to be banned (Art. II and III) and created a three-year period to implement these measures.

Article IV

  1. Each Party shall eliminate all its intermediate-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, and all support structures and support equipment of the categories listed in the Memorandum of Understanding associated with such missiles and launchers, so that no later than three years after entry into force of this Treaty and thereafter no such missiles, launchers, support structures or support equipment shall be possessed by either Party.

By 1991 it seemed that both parties had fulfilled their obligations and abandoned a whole class of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union and the United States collectively dismantled 2’692 missiles, formerly aimed at each other.

A new strategic environment
During the 1990s and early 2000s all issues considering nuclear weapons and arms control were more or less focused on non-proliferation measures and the nuclear programs of countries like North Korea and Iran. While America worked on it’s missile defense capabilities, nuclear arms weren’t an essential topic for Europeans at all, exempt some political initiatives to remove the remaining tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) from German soil.

The first public announcement that Russia was no longer comfortable with the permanent ban of INFs had been made in early 2005 by Russian officials. Internationally this was seen as a direct reaction to the American withdrawal out of the much older Anti-Ballistic-Missile-Treaty (ABM) in 2002. Two years later, in early 2007, chief of the Russian general staff, Yuri Baluyevsky gave a statement, saying that compliance with the INF-Treaty would mostly depend on American plans to build missile defense sites in Central European countries. Later that year, Putin told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates during their visit in Moscow, that the treaty should be expanded upon other countries. During the debate over the stationing of missile defense sites in Central Europe, Russian Federation’s Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) implemented an improved Version of the Topol-M ICBM (RS-24 equipped with MIRV / SS-27 Mod 2). The missile, according to Russian sources, is capable of counter-measures to protect the ICBM against interceptor-missiles.

Test-launch of the RS-24 Yars ICBM. Source: Wikipedia

Test-launch of the RS-24 Yars ICBM. Source: Wikipedia

Deterrence or Intimidation?
In 2009 Barack Obama abandoned the plans to deploy interceptor-missiles in Poland, Romania and other Central European countries. While New Start was negotiated and ratified in 2010, Russia continued to develop new missiles, also systems which were explicitly forbidden by the 1987 INF-Treaty. According to a New York Times report of January 2014 SRF test fired an ICBM which can be subsumed both as INF or long-range-missile and a ground launched cruise missile.

The ICBM mentioned above appears to be the two-stage RS-26, which is still shrouded in mystery. In fact the use of ICBMs in medium ranges is not a violation of the treaty at all. Entirely different and indeed a serious violation would be the test of a ground launched cruise missile. The system tested seems to be the R-500, a cruise missile launched from the well known Iskander-System. The cruise missile itself seems to be derived from the Russian Naval Force’s 3M-14 Klub cruise missile, but with a longer range than 300 Km. In terms of Article II, 6 of the treaty, R-500 would be counted as a short-range missile. According to Article V the possession of this systems is not permitted.

Regardless of the technical details, the questions what the aim of the Russian rearmament could be arises. Relating to an IISS-Blog article, there are indications that RS-26 missiles might be deployed to 29th Guards Missile Division in Irkutsk. The deployment of these missiles to Siberia could be seen as deterrence against China’s growing arsenal of medium-range systems. This estimate is supported by earlier statements of Putin and other Russian officials, who have argued for an expansion of the INF-Treaty. Despite these legitimate Russian interests, a unilateral withdrawal out of the treaty would be a highly problematic step.

Against the backdrop of Obama’s declared pivot to East Asia, the current crisis in Ukraine, and Russian Forces, exercising the first use of nuclear weapons against NATO during the maneuver-series “Zapad”, it is obvious that any violation of the INF-Treaty must be seen as a serious intimidation for European security and stability.

Iskander-K system. Source: GlobalSecurity.org

Iskander-K system. Source: GlobalSecurity.org

The conclusion for Europe?
Basically the INF-Treaty is a bilateral agreement between the United States and Russia, but a suspension could have immense implications on European security. Based on information provided by an unclassified U.S. State Department compliance report, the whole dimension of the incident is still not clear. This situation has created a controversy, whether Russia violated the treaty and how the U.S. should react to such an incident. Remain in strict compliance or retaliate by deployment of new INFs?

Although Europeans would be mostly affected, the issue is hardly publicly present, despite some minor news reports. Due to the fact, that a new Nachrüstung is neither an economical nor a political option for NATO-Countries, the best (and maybe the only) way for Europeans would be urging the United States for stronger arms-control efforts and increased on-site inspections. In general, the whole matter is an obvious sign, that European security is still strongly interdependent with the United States. The United States, for example, is still the only nuclear power in NATO, that provides warheads for NATO’s nuclear sharing. Therefore strong ties between Europe and the U.S., accompanied by an even stronger European commitment to defend its values and interests, might be the best way to deter Russian geopolitical desires in its neighboring NATO-Countries.

More Informations
Treaty Between The United States Of America And The Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics On The Elimination Of Their Intermediate-Range And Shorter-Range Missiles (INF-Treaty)

References

  • Joseph M. Siracusa, “Nuclear Weapons. A very Short Introduction“, Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Michael Paul, “Atomare Abrüstung. Probleme, Prozesse, Perspektiven“, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung 2012.
  • Ronald E. Powaski, “Return to Armageddon. The United States and the nuclear Arms Race 1981-1999“, Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Posted in Danny Chahbouni, English, History, Proliferation, Security Policy | Leave a comment

    The Instrumentalisation of History

    Comparative analysis is a popular qualitative method in the field of International Relations. There are generally two possible approaches with this method. In the case of “Most Similar Case Design”, similar cases with different variables (IV/DV) are examined (→ What is different in spite of all the similarities and why?). In the case of “Most Different Case Design”, different cases with similarly distinct variables (IV/DV) are examined (→ What is the same in spite of all the differences and why?). Such cases include, for example, states, organisations, procedures, time periods within the same research area, etc.. Historical comparisons are rather problematic, for example between 1914 when the First World War broke out and 2014 (see a critique by Felix F. Seidler in German). Nevertheless, one or two articles were published again this year on offiziere.ch, which were based on a historical comparison – for example, Jeong Lee and Stephanie Chenault comparedThe Fall of Saigon” with the ISIS offensive in Iraq in June of this year. This comparison provoked a critique from Joseph Trevithick: “The Iraq-Vietnam Comparison is Easy to Make But False“. In another article, Major Chad M. Pillai draws very interesting parallels between the 30-year war with the events in the Middle East.

    In the article published here, Dr. Huw J Davies (Twitter) from King’s College in London explicitly criticises this type of comparative analysis and cautions against instrumentalising history. This article was published on Defence-In-Depth at first.

    Battle of Waterloo 1815

    Battle of Waterloo 1815

    History is a dangerous thing. Parallels between contemporary events and history are all too easy to arrive at. In unskilled hands, historical events can be manhandled to seemingly deliver lessons and solutions to apparently intractable contemporary problems. This is instrumentalising history. In reality, history can be misleading, its so-called “lessons” proving counter-productive if their context is not properly understood.

    In the last decade, numerous such “lessons” have been bandied around as a means of resolving some of the more stubborn issues facing the West. Historians, armchair strategists and soldiers alike have looked to Britain’s long and turbulent history in Afghanistan as a means of suggesting solutions to the ongoing Taliban insurgency.

    Similarly, Lawrence of Arabia has been held up as a panacea of how to resolve the newly emerged threat from Islamic State. Imperfect parallels have been drawn between the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic era and the rise of IS. Hawkish politicians cannot help but draw ill-fitting analogies between the actions of Hitler toward Czechoslovakia and Poland in the 1930s, and Vladimir Putin and Russia’s recent entanglements in Georgia and Ukraine.

    In part, this is a media-generated hyperbole, as seemingly easy parallels lend themselves to sensational stories. But used as a means of detecting a way forward, as an influence on policy-making, history incorrectly understood is very dangerous. The first casualty of instrumentalising history is almost invariably the context in which that history occurred.

    The Radical's Arms, an English caricature by George Cruikshank, first published November 13, 1819. The tricolor ribbon is inscribed "No God! No Religion! No King! No Constitution!" Below the ribbon, and its Phrygian cap with tricolor cockade, are two bloody axes, attached to a guillotine, whose blade is suspended above a burning globe. An emaciated man and drunken woman dressed in ragged clothes serve as heraldic "supporters", gleefully dancing on discarded royal and clerical regalia... During the Reign of Terror, between 18,000 and 40,000 people were executed.

    The Radical’s Arms, an English caricature by George Cruikshank, first published November 13, 1819. The tricolor ribbon is inscribed “No God! No Religion! No King! No Constitution!” Below the ribbon, and its Phrygian cap with tricolor cockade, are two bloody axes, attached to a guillotine, whose blade is suspended above a burning globe. An emaciated man and drunken woman dressed in ragged clothes serve as heraldic “supporters”, gleefully dancing on discarded royal and clerical regalia… During the Reign of Terror, between 18,000 and 40,000 people were executed.

    Comparison of Revolutionary France with the rise of the Islamic State is an interesting proposition. Sure, it is fascinating to note the rise of a revolutionary organisation bent on the transformation and subjugation not just of one country but an entire continent, and which uses gruesome public beheadings as a means of creating terror and provoking war. But the extended argument is basically a call to arms, in favour of the use of Western ground forces in the developing campaign against IS militants. I find this a difficult thesis to agree with, and one that reflects the instrumentalisation of history for subjective ends.

    Britain’s strategy in the war against Revolutionary France and then Napoleon, so the argument goes, saw the British initially try to defeat France by means of seapower alone. But although British command of the sea was virtually unassailable after 1805, Britain was eventually forced to deploy ground troops in a war in the Iberian Peninsula. Britain also assembled no fewer than seven coalitions of the Great Powers of Europe in order to defeat Napoleon.

    The parallel invoked here is that the United States is the only power capable of, or willing to, assemble an international coalition to defeat IS. That coalition would lack moral backbone if the US, and by extension her western allies, did not deploy ground forces to Iraq and Syria. The only way to defeat a land-power, whether Napoleonic France or the Islamic State, is on land. The truth of this assertion is unchallengeable, but the context in which these decisions were taken is.

    But the parallel, and therefore the lesson, falls apart when the context in which Britain fought the Napoleonic War is understood. Until 1807, Britain hoped to contain Napoleonic France – hence the use of maritime power to isolate France economically. But in 1807, it became apparent to the British government that Napoleonic France represented an existential threat to the British monarchy. The serious deployment of troops to the continent was not really an effort to defeat Napoleon directly – the British Army was no where near big enough or capable enough to do that. Rather, the use of ground troops was a political tool to enable to construction of an international coalition, and to give Britain sufficient diplomatic weight for forthcoming peace negotiations.

    More generally, however, this was a European war, that required a European solution. The eventually peace negotiations – the famous Congress of Vienna – was not imposed by outside powers, but the coming together of the Great Powers of Europe in a settlement that would also see the creation of the Concert of Europe – the first attempt at international governance, and one that would essentially keep global peace for a century.

    So, when compared with the situation in Iraq and Syria, the parallels now seem threadbare. First, the Islamic State do not represent an existential threat to either the United States or her Western allies. Secondly, by leading an intervention in Iraq and Syria, the United States is not mirroring the British role of building an international coalition in the war against France, which was, in essence, a Western solution to a Western problem. Instead, the US is intervening in a socio-political conflict with a strong religious dimension – a Western attempted solution to a Middle Eastern/Islamic problem. A better (although still imperfect) historical parallel is the Peace of Westphalia, which saw the war-torn countries of Europe agreeing the principles of the nation-state that still persist to this day.

    Similarly, the actions of Lawrence of Arabia are usually spoken of with little regard for the context in which they occur. Lawrence was able to raise an Arab rebellion against the Ottoman Empire because of widespread discontent with Ottoman rule, set within the wider context of the global schism that was the Great War.

    Map presented by Lawrence to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet in November 1918.

    Map presented by Lawrence to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet in November 1918.

    Moreover, by focussing on Lawrence alone – and his famous Seven Pillars of Wisdom – the contribution of other, less media savvy – and Hollywood friendly – characters are overlooked. Indeed, Lawrence was not being particularly original. Similar pithy expressions have been uttered down the ages, from Sun Tzu to Maurice de Saxe, both of whom faced irregular threats during extensive military careers, and thought long and hard about how to capture their ideas for posterity.

    This issue speaks to a second problem with the instrumentalisation of history: namely the role and value of the great men of history. The two examples discussed here focus on the fame or infamy of two great historical figures: Napoleon Bonaparte and T. E. Lawrence. Yet the notion that individuals wield sufficient power to alter the course of history has been widely discredited. Rather their actions have greater impact because of the historical accident of living in interesting times. Napoleon took advantage of enormous socio-political currents that were transforming society and politics, as well as warfare, across Europe. The impact he had was certainly not all his own making, whilst many of the adaptations and innovations in warfare that Napoleon allegedly introduced were in fact devised by others, such as Lazare Carnot and Jacques Antoine Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert.

    Having illustrated the problems with instrumentalising history, how can history be of use in understanding contemporary events? The first victim of the instrumentalisation of history is also its first lesson. Historical study can provide valuable context. One does not really understand the strong-arm tactics of Vladimir Putin and his desire for a secure and strong buffer between Russia and the West without understanding Russia’s long and turbulent history.

    The societal and religious divisions that are coming to the fore now in Iraq and Syria are themselves products of a bygone colonial era.

    The nature of the international system, and the history of the norms and behaviours between Western states and the international community is the product of the West’s own turbulent history: from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 to the Concert of Europe in 1814.

    Contextualising events helps to unpack their causes and potential consequences. History provides the tools to understand properly contemporary events. Deploying poorly understood historical parallels in order to justify or argue for a certain course of action only degrades the value of history.

    Posted in Basics, English, History, Huw J Davies | 1 Comment

    Die Weiterentwicklung der Armee und die Infanterie

    von Irène Thomann-Baur. Irène Thomann-Baur ist Journalistin, Hptm aD, zuletzt im Info Rgt 1, ehemals Generalsekretärin der Schweizerischen Offiziersgesellschaft (SOG), Winterthur.

    Die geplante Unterstellung aller Infanteriebataillone (Inf Bat) unter die Territorialdivisionen (Ter Div) sorgt für Irritation. Gibt man damit die Verteidigungsfähigkeit der Infanterie preis? CHANCE SCHWEIZ – Arbeitskreis für Sicherheitsfragen lud Vertreter der Miliz, den Kommandanten einer Territorialregion (Kdt Ter Reg) und den Kommandanten des Lehrverbandes Infanterie zu einem klärenden Gespräch ein.

    Foto: Inf Bat 61

    Foto: Inf Bat 61

    Ziel des Anlasses war, wie Moderator und Vizepräsident von CHANCE SCHWEIZ, Eugen Thomann, eingangs mitteilte, der sicherheitspolitischen Kommission des Ständerates, – sie berät die Weiterentwicklung der Armee (WEA) zurzeit, – Ideen für flankierende Massnahmen zu unterbreiten, welche die befürchtete Schwächung der Infanterie auffangen könnten. Das sachkundige Publikum bekam interessante Lösungsansätze zu hören.

    Die Zweifel des erfahrenen Bataillonskommandanten
    Oberst i Gst Jean-Claude Brossard, ehemaliger Kdt einer Territorialinfanteriekompanie (Ter Inf Kp) und des Inf Bat 13, heute Chef Einsatz im Stab Ter Reg 3, fiel es nicht schwer, anhand von Zitaten zu belegen, woher die Zweifel herrühren. So liest man zum Bespiel in der Botschaft zur WEA: “Weil die Infanteriebataillone in erster Linie auf die Erfüllung von Sicherungsaufgaben ausgerichtet werden, wäre ihre Zusammenfassung in Brigaden und eine Führung über zwei Stufen (Territorialdivisionen und Brigade) nicht zweckmässig ….” – Der erläuternde Bericht zu den Rechtsgrundlagen der WEA hält fest, dass “…. insbesondere die Infanterie beschränkte Fähigkeiten zur Abwehr eines militärischen Angriffs haben muss.”

    Stellt man den Auftrag der Infanterie, — schützen, helfen und kämpfen — den geplanten Strukturen und Mitteln gegenüber, fällt zuerst auf, dass die vorgesehenen gemischten Kampfverbände (Mech Br) jeglicher Infanterie entbehren, da die Inf Bat wie gesagt ausnahmslos bei den Ter Div angesiedelt werden. Mittel zur Panzerabwehr mittlerer Reichweite fehlen dann der Infanterie ebenso wie die operative Feuerunterstützung. Andererseits verfügt die Infanterie über Radschützenpanzer oder das geschützte Mannschaftstransportfahrzeug GMTF, zu viel für den Einsatz unterhalb der Kriegsschwelle, zu wenig für den Kampf oberhalb der Kriegsschwelle, wie Brossard urteilt.

    In der Vernehmlassung fiel mehrmals die Forderung, es brauche eine kampfstarke Infanterie. Die Verteidigung sei und bleibe die zentrale Existenzberechtigung, die “Raison d’être” der Armee. Sämtliche Truppen seien für diese Aufgabe auszubilden und auszurüsten, auch die gesamte Infanterie. Auch 13 Kantone plädierten dafür, dass “die Infanterie, die primär für militärische Unterstützungseinsätze vorgesehen ist, auch in Zukunft die Fähigkeit zur Abwehr eines militärischen Angriffs hat.” Sowohl unterstützen als auch kämpfen zu können, ist für die Infanterie nichts Neues, wie der ehemalige Inf Bat Kdt in Erinnerung rief, aber die vorgesehenen Strukturen erschweren zumindest den Fähigkeitserhalt der Inf Bat zur Abwehr. Ohne entsprechende Ausrüstung kann die Infanterie weder halten noch sperren. Abschliessend stellte er die zentrale Frage: Wo bleibt die Ausbildung?

    Soldaten der Ter Reg 4, Rettungskräfte und Polizei simulieren einen Einsatz nach einem Flugzeugabsturz anlässlich der Übung "Aeroporto 10" (Foto: Steffen Schmidt).

    Soldaten der Ter Reg 4, Rettungskräfte und Polizei simulieren einen Einsatz nach einem Flugzeugabsturz anlässlich der Übung “Aeroporto 10″ (Foto: Steffen Schmidt).

    Auf das gemeinsame Üben kommt es an
    Mit dem Titel seiner Präsentation “Die Infanterie… eine verteidigungsfähige Waffengattung” setzte Br Lucas Caduff, Kdt des Lehrverbandes Infanterie und u.a. ehemaliger Kdt des Infanterieregiments 36, den Kontrapunkt. Er erinnerte daran, dass Verteidigung nicht einzig in der Abwehr eines militärischen Angriffs auf die Schweiz und ihren Luftraum besteht; vielmehr sind Land, Bevölkerung und Lebensgrundlagen gegen die Anwendung massiver Gewalt zu schützen, die Lage so rasch als möglich zu stabilisieren, damit Gesellschaft und die staatliche Verwaltung wieder funktionieren.

    Der Einsatz der Infanterie ist einzubetten in die Heeresaufgaben. Auch die klassische Verteidigung wird noch geübt und ist im Reglement “Einsatz der Infanterie” festgehalten. Gegenüber heute werde die Verteidigungskompetenz der Infanterie eher ausgebaut. Bis zur Stufe Kompanie sei das noch gut nachvollziehbar. Br Caduff nahm die Vorbehalte von CHANCE SCHWEIZ auf.

    Den Schlüssel zum Verteidigungserfolg sieht Br Caduff im Andocken der Inf Bat an die den Kampf führenden Verbände; dazu müssen die Inf Bat der Ter Div jeden 2. Wiederholungskurs in der Kampfkompetenz praktisch geschult werden. Dafür eignen sich die Gefechtsausbildungszentren (GAZ) Bure und Walenstadt. Weiter sollen die Stäbe der Ter Div mit Offizieren aus den jetzigen Inf Br alimentiert werden, die diesen Kampf noch kennen.

    Mit dem Ersatz der Panzerfaust 2017 erhalte die Infanterie eine wirksame Waffe, welche Stahl und Gemäuer durchschlägt. Für die Bedeutung des Gefechts der verbundenen Waffen zog er Zitate der Kdt der Panzerbrigade 1 und 11 bei, wie etwa “Auf Kompaniestufe ist der gemeinsame Einsatz verschiedener Gattungen absolut notwendig – ohne diesen Einsatz der verbundenen Waffen ist kein Erfolg möglich” (Br Yvon Langel). Die Unterstellung der Inf Bat unter die Ter Div macht für Caduff Sinn, da diese den Ersteinsatz bewältigen. Aber trainieren müssen die Inf Bat ebenfalls den robusteren Einsatz; denn die Lage kann sich jederzeit verschärfen. Dazu muss der künftige Chef Operationen sie dazu bringen, das liegt auch in seinem Interesse.

    Skepsis an der Wirksamkeit einer zusätzlichen Inf Br
    Trotz der numerischen Beschränkung des Bestandes auf 100’000 könnte eine Inf Br gebildet werden, indem man den Ter Div je ein Inf Bat wegnimmt. Br Caduff hält dem entgegen, dass diese Bat dann den subsidiären Einsatz nicht beherrschen und die den Ter Div verbleibenden Bat nie den Kampf trainieren würden. Diese Struktur schränkte die Multifunktionalität der Infanterie ein und erzeugte zwei Klassen von Infanterie, was dem Kdt des Lehrverbandes eindeutig missfällt.

    Mit dem Erhalt der Modulbausteine in der Grundausbildung und dem Andocken der Bataillone bei den Mech Br im Wiederholungskurs geht die WEA mit der Infanterie in die richtige Richtung, gab sich Caduff überzeugt.

    Die Replik des Ter Reg Kdt
    Was bedeutet nun für die künftige Ter Div die zusätzliche Aufgabe, die Verteidigungsfähigkeit der Infanterie zu gewährleisten, wie sie der Kdt des Lehrverbandes formuliert hat. Div Hans-Peter Kellerhals, Kdt der Ter Reg 4 und ehemaliger Kdt der Pz Br 11, wirkte 2010 mit an der Erarbeitung des Operationskonzept und der Zuteilung der Mittel. Prioritäten zu setzen, ist immer heikel, was heisst schon wahrscheinlicherer Einsatz? Selbstverständlich werden Stab und Kader die gestellte Zusatzaufgabe trainieren, so wie das Gesamtkonzept dies verlangt. In der Übung “STABILO DUE” schafften es der Stab der Ter Reg 4 und das Führungsunterstützungsbataillon, mit der zugewiesenen Kampftruppe selbst Grenztore zu schützen. Sein Stab übt regelmässig am ausgeklügelten Simulator. Die Lösung mit dem Andocken der Inf Bat an die Mech Br stuft er als realistisch ein.

    Im Zuge der Fluktuation kann sich Kellerhals vorstellen, seinen Stab mit Offizieren aus Inf Br Stäben zu alimentieren, um die Verteidigungskompetenz zu verstärken. Eine Aufstockung des Stabes komme jedoch nicht in Frage. Der Ausbildungsplan ist gemacht, das Training bis Stufe Truppenkörper gesichert.

    Foto: Inf Bat 61

    Foto: Inf Bat 61

    Primärauftrag der Infanterie
    Thomas Hugentobler, Milizoberst der Infanterie und Vorstandsmitglied der SOG, beharrt darauf, dass das Gros der Armee auf die gefährlichste Bedrohung ausgerichtet werden muss. Es ist die Infanterie, welche das Gros der Armee ausmacht; sie würde gemäss Darstellung der WEA ihren Primärauftrag vernachlässigen. Sie muss jedoch für den Einsatz auf allen Stufen ausgebildet und ausgerüstet sein. Es sei deshalb selbstverständlich, dass die Inf Bat bei den Mech Br andocken können müssen. Genau dafür sind die Voraussetzungen zu schaffen. Er verhehlt jedoch sein Misstrauen nicht; seit Jahren werden solche Fragen in Gesprächen, Beiräten usw. ohne sichtbare Ergebnisse erörtert, unberücksichtigt blieben die Vorbehalte der Vernehmlassung. Die Botschaft zur WEA enthält kein Wort über diesen vorgeschlagenen Mechanismus. Vielleicht funktioniert er so, wie dargestellt, aber bisher wurde er noch von niemandem thematisiert. Pläne, wie das Verkürzen der WK auf zwei Wochen, stehen ebenso quer in der Landschaft wie die Begrenzung der Diensttage auf jährlich 5 Millionen.

    Jean-Claude Brossard zeigte sich zufrieden mit der Aussicht, dass die Inf Bat regelmässig eine Kampfausbildung bei den Mech Br erhalten sollen. Der Schulterschluss mit den Kameraden der andern Waffengattungen ist wesentlich. Das Gros der Truppenkörperkommandanten weiss nicht mehr, wie Unterstützungswaffen einzusetzen sind. Dem gemeinsamen Training im Kampf der verbundenen Waffen sprach auch Br Caduff das Wort. Das Heer mit den beiden Mech Br ist gefordert, Lösungsansätze zu finden. Der Lehrverband Infanterie verfügt über eine eigene Zelle, welche die Bataillone im Kadervorkurs und im WK unterstützt, wie Caduff ergänzte.

    Div Kellerhals erinnerte daran, dass die Zentrale in Bern Dienstpläne und Ressourcen zuweist. Subsidiäre Einsätze beherrscht jede Truppe rasch, den Verteidigungsauftrag muss sie üben. Die Ter Div besorgt die Territorialverteidigung, die mechanisierte Division schiebt sich über die territoriale Platte und führt den Kampf der verbundenen Waffen. Die Miliztauglichkeit am Boden steht für ihn ausser Zweifel.

    Richtige Fragen führen zu Verbesserungen
    Mit auf den ersten Blick kleinen organisatorischen Änderungen können die Parlamentarier grosse Weichen stellen und die WEA optimieren. Voraussetzung ist, dass sie die richtigen Fragen stellen, bei Unklarheiten nachhaken und die Folgen ihrer Entscheide ermessen. Es geht nicht nur um die Revision einiger Artikel des Militärgesetzes, im Hintergrund ändert sich weit mehr.

    • • •

    Engagiert, reflektiert, differenziert – das ist die Stossrichtung von “Chance Schweiz – Arbeitskreis für Sicherheitsfragen“. Wir sind nicht allein der Tagespolitik verpflichtet, sondern wollen mit einer langfristigen Perspektive aktuelle Reformprozesse begleiten und fördern, und – wo nötig – auch dazu ermuntern. Dabei bringen wir eine ganzheitliche Sicht von Sicherheitspolitik ein.

    • • •

    Posted in Irène Thomann-Baur, Switzerland | Leave a comment

    A Saudi-Iranian Détente and the Bahrain National Dialogue

    by Brett Davis. Brett Davis is a U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer. He also runs the blog ClearedHot and occasionally navigates Twitter. He holds an M.A. in International Relations from Northeastern University. His opinions are his own and do not represent the views of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.

    Bahrain-001News outlets and commentators were abuzz regarding combat strategy against the Islamic State (IS) and the involved Middle East players. Analysis revolves around the United States, Iran, Syria, the Europeans and others and their role in defeating IS. To the south, traditional Sunni power Saudi Arabia recently held discussions with their Shiite foil, Iran, regarding regional security cooperation. You heard right: the Middle East’s two biggest rivals want to work together in a limited capacity. The Middle East’s focus has been on the battle against IS; however, a Saudi-Iranian détente could have an effect on the turbulent situation in Bahrain.

    A History of Influence
    Separated by less than 200 miles of water, Bahrain and Iran have been entangled since the former’s independence in 1971. With a Shiite population of roughly 75%, Bahrain has long been ruled by the Khalifa dynasty – Sunnis who represent a definite minority among Bahrain’s Muslim population. With Bahrain’s oil subsidies dried up by the late 1970’s and its Shiite population living in squalor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini selected Bahrain as one of the first targets for its exported Islamic revolution.

    Khomeini’s forces backed Bahrain’s Shiite revolutionaries as they attempted a coup in 1981, embedding indefinite suspicion in the minds of the ruling Khalifas regarding Bahraini Shiites and their supposed revolutionary backers. As a result, discrimination against Bahraini Shiites is commonplace, and since the suspension of the parliament in the mid 1970s, representation of Shiites at the national level, representing Shiite interests, is non-existent.

    Saudi and Iranian Hands in the Pot
    Such conditions make Bahrain ripe for discontent and protest. As a participant in the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, Bahraini Shiites declared a “Day of Rage” to protest their mistreatment and demand equal representation in the eyes of the law. In an act of solidarity to their monarchical compatriots, the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent reserve troops to the island to bolster the Bahrain Security Forces and maintain order and security in the kingdom. A National Dialogue was set up in order to create understanding between the government and protesters, with hopes that grievances would be solved and Shiites would gain some form of equality in Bahrain, but the talks have gone nowhere.

    Throughout the 2011 uprising and in the years since, the Bahraini government played the Iran card with reckless abandon. This tactic achieves several goals. Labeling Bahraini Shiites as Iranian proxies ensures support from the aforementioned Gulf monarchies, as they assuredly want to preserve the stability a long-term Sunni monarchy in the region provides. Also, it ensures support from one of the island’s biggest clients: the U.S. government. Bahrain is the home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, responsible for maritime security in the Gulf region and a longtime adversary of Iran and its military. Claiming Iranian involvement in their native insurgency ensures American support for the regime, as they also desire stability in a country housing thousands of service members and their families. Last but not least, blaming Iran takes pressure off the Bahraini government. Using Iran as a scapegoat takes the spotlight off the government’s longtime treatment of Shiites and their heavy-handed response to the protests, which left dozens dead and hundreds more behind bars for dubious reasons.

    Accusing Iran of meddling in the affairs of other Middle Eastern countries is hardly without reason. Iran has been trying to export the Islamic Revolution for 30 years, and their botched coup in Bahrain is reason enough for mistrust in the regime. Add that to decades of involvement in Lebanon via their proxy Hezbollah, and their support for the Assad regime during the Syria crisis, and it’s easy to see why Iran is such an easy target, especially in Bahrain.

    Saudi Arabia also has a vested interest in spreading influence throughout the region. They have always viewed Iran as a rival for influence, especially in states with large Shiite populations – hence Saudi involvement in Bahrain. They have also interfered regularly in Yemen, and tend to force influence in order to maintain the status quo and block any governmental change that is challenging to their regional hegemony.

    Bahrain-002

    Détente and Dialogue
    Once more, Iraq has become a Middle Eastern battleground. Saudi Arabia and other moderate Sunni states oppose IS, as does Iran, backing their Shiite neighbors against radical Sunnis. In a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Saudi Arabia and Iran find themselves fighting the same battle. In that light, Iran’s foreign minister arrived in Riyadh for meetings with his Arab counterpart on regional cooperation late August. The consequences of cooperation between these two states could be monumental, especially for Bahrain.

    As I’ve outlined above, Saudi Arabia and Iran are both vying for influence in Bahrain and backing parties on either side of the conflict. The National Dialogue, formed following the uprisings, is the government’s attempt to reach common ground with the opposition regarding their claims and grievances. The Dialogue, however, has been less than productive. In its first year, the Dialogue moved slowly, with no agreements reached. At the beginning of this year, and the government was criticized for basing discussions on a Sunni-Shiite divide, when opposition and outside entities claimed the discussions were based on grievances of the people with the regime.

    The government’s claim they are facing a Sunni-Shiite divide is a perfect example of Saudi-Iranian influence on the process. Multiple discussions within the dialogue have focused on Iranian influence on the opposition, despite a glaring lack of evidence. A Saudi-Iranian détente is the perfect opportunity to rid the Dialogue of talks of Iranian and Saudi influence in the process and focus on the issues at hand. With an agreement in place on Bahrain, the talks will no longer be marred by suspicion of outside actors and the government will be forced to negotiate from a place of legitimate grievances, not blaming stalled negotiations on a nonexistent Iranian invisible hand.

    Bahrain has dealt with outside influences on its internal politics for years, and it came to a head in 2011. Now, with the future and stability of the country at stake, the government continues to sing the same old song about Iranian influence. A Saudi-Iranian détente is the perfect opportunity to jump start the Dialogue and move forward with real reform.

    Posted in Bahrain, Brett Davis, English, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Security Policy | Leave a comment

    Islamic State Takes Former FOB in Anbar

    DG (Jan 2012) Hīt FOB, Iraq.

    DG (Jan 2012) Hīt FOB, Iraq.

    Islamic State has now taken over the Iraqi military outpost on the outskirts of Hīt, a former forward operating base (FOB) which previously housed the US military in Anbar province.

    Despite US-led airstrikes, Iraqi forces have found it difficult defending against Islamic State advances and recently abandoned one of the few remaining government outposts in Iraq’s largest province. In an embarrassing setback, an Iraqi military spokesman has called the action “a tactical retreat.”  Worse yet, the US has spent more than $20 billion training the Iraqi military, according to the Congressional Research Service.

    The latest capture of the former FOB represents the third Iraqi military position to fall in the last several weeks. Such advances continue to support Islamic State’s reach deep into Iraqi territory helping secure important ground lines of communication.

    Hit-FOB-Map

    The FOB, located approximately four miles to the northwest of Hīt, is also less than 20 miles southeast of the al Asad airbase, the Iraqi Army’s 7th Division Headquarters. Perhaps more importantly, the FOB sits along Highway 12 which connects nearby to Freeway 1, a short jaunt 20 miles to the south. Freeway 1, Iraq’s longest running road, connects to Syria and Jordan in the west via the Al Walid and Tarbil border crossings, both previously under Islamic State control. [1] Running east, it links to Ramadi, the province’s capital which appears to be the next target on Islamic State’s list. The militant group took Camp Saqlawiyah in late September, possibly in preparation.

    However, US Special Forces and advisors are already on the ground in Ramadi which may suggest Islamic State will be met with increasing amounts of resistance. In fact, recent reports suggest that Iraqi forces, probably with the help of US Advisors, successfully cleared parts of western Ramadi in mid-September.   Ramadi has become by all accounts more important as Islamic State attacks closer to Baghdad and seeks resupply and/or reinforcements.

    As we heard last month from Ahmed Abu Risha, a prominent tribal sheik who commands pro-government fighters, “If Ramadi falls, all of Anbar falls. Ramadi is the head. If you cut the head, the rest of the body will die, too.” His words echoed loudly earlier this month when Anbar’s top police commander, General Ahmad Sadak al Dulaymi was killed in an IED attack.

    In the meantime, the fighting in Anbar province has sent at least 180,000 people from their homes, according to a statement from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The rise of internally displaced persons goes hand-in-hand with the Islamic State offensive as well as increasing US airstrikes in the desert province.

    Militants took the town of Hīt on Oct. 2 and nearby Kubaisa (Kubaysah) on Oct. 4. Attacks on the 7th Division Headquarters at al-Asad have also been reported—though the airbase still remains under Iraqi control, at least for now. Satellite imagery from 2013 shows the airbase with at least four helicopters for air support. However, with the way Islamic State has been taking them out, they may provide little help.

    According to Iraqi officials, Islamic State controls 80% of Anbar province.

    Notes

    [1] Both crossings were at one point reported to be under Islamic State control. The Iraqi Army claimed to have retaken the crossings on 22JUN14.

    Posted in Chris B, English, Iraq, Terrorism | Leave a comment

    The U.S. Doesn’t Have Enough Marines to Defend Its Embassies

    U.S. Marines exit a MV-22 Osprey during an embassy reinforcement exercise at a training area near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Oct. 26, 2013.

    U.S. Marines exit a MV-22 Osprey during an embassy reinforcement exercise at a training area near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Oct. 26, 2013.

    by Robert Beckhusen. Robert Beckhusen is a freelance writer who contributes regularly at War is Boring. He’s also written for publications including C4ISR JournalWiredThe Daily Beast and World Politics Review. You can follow him on Twitter.

    More than two years ago, Islamist fighters swept into the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. They set the complex on fire, killing the U.S. ambassador and a foreign service officer. Two security contractors also died in the assault.

    The assault set off a veritable political war inside the United States–with Congress directing the State Department to add security at far-flung and vulnerable embassies and consulates. The U.S. also created a rapid-response Marine unit based at Quantico, Virginia to rush into crisis zones if it appeared another Benghazi might happen again. But according to a recent audit from the State Department’s inspector general, only a few diplomatic outposts deemed at risk of attack have seen much increase in armed security provided by the Marines. “The Department had made only limited progress in the critical area of adding new Marine Security Guard detachments to high threat posts that were most in need of additional security,” the report states.

    To put it another way, the most vulnerable U.S. embassies are–surprise–still vulnerable. This is a big deal because the U.S. has a large diplomatic presence. Washington has embassies, consulates and other diplomatic posts scattered around the world, and often relies on local security forces to handle protection. But local contractors are not always as reliable as soldiers wearing American uniforms. It’s also far from what the State Department planned after the terror group Ansar al-Shari’a assaulted the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Before the attack, the State Department had around 1,400 Marines assigned as embassy guards around the world. After the attack, Congress ordered the ministry to toughen its defenses by 1,000 Marines globally.

    U.S. Marines defend a simulated embassy at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 24, 2013. Marine Corps photo

    U.S. Marines defend a simulated embassy at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 24, 2013. Marine Corps photo

    The State Department was under orders to bolster its Marine guards at its highest-risk foreign posts. The Benghazi consulate–before the Islamists destroyed it–relied on private contractors and local militias for its defense. The new Marine detachments would help boost security at 50 diplomatic posts that previously had no Marine guards. But lack of funds soon whittled the number of reinforced embassies down to 25. For the outposts on the schedule to receive reinforcements, the State Department considers 15 of these posts–or 60 percent–to not be particularly vulnerable to attacks. Listings of specific posts in the report have been heavily redacted for security reasons.

    But the report praises the Marine Security Augmentation Unit, or MSAU. The Virginia-based force of 122 Marines–divided into nine squads–is now ready to deploy on short notice. But this still leaves a lot of the highest-risk posts weakly defended. One problem is that a lot of high-risk areas don’t have the infrastructure to support the Marines. It costs about $15 million–on average–to build the structures needed to house and protect a Marine detachment. However, the service also has a 550-strong SP-MAGTF force–or Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response–based in Spain tasked with a wider set of missions in Africa including embassy protection.

    The State Department was also under intense pressure to deploy Marines as fast as possible, “which may have detracted from prioritization of high threat posts,” the report states. But the rush to defend the embassies might not prevent the next attack.

    Posted in English, International, Robert Beckhusen, Terrorism | Leave a comment

    Personal Theories of Power: Joint Action

    by Rich Ganske. This article is part of the Personal Theories of Power series, a joint Bridge-CIMSEC project which asked a group of national security professionals to provide their theory of power and its application. We hope this launches a long and insightful debate that may one day shape policy.

    joint-001Despite the historical success of joint action, many professional warriors and strategists continually debate which military function is most decisive in the termination of war. Even today, some question whether it is indeed worth the effort to work through the complications of combining competing strategies into effective joint action. My personal theory of joint action proposes an artful blend of both sequential and cumulative strategies to conduct unified operations that most effectively achieve national objectives. Strategic effect is reduced when either cumulative or sequential strategies are parochially subordinated to the other, since there is no single, decisive function, service, or role in war.

    The Goldwater–Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 drastically changed how the US military operates. Most importantly, it required the military services to interact jointly by force of law. This legal requirement for joint operations is necessary; but is by itself insufficient to build a compelling basis for joint collaboration, integration, and interdependence. While there has been much ink spilt over the normative force of Goldwater-Nichols, few have explored the theoretical basis for joint interdependence since Sir Julian Corbett. This essay attempts to expand Corbett’s theoretical foundation that gives the law its conceptual footing.

    What is Jointness?
    Joint action, or jointness, is the creation of complementary strategic effect across all domains towards a shared political objective. Achieving a degree of physical or psychological control over an adversary creates strategic effect and requires an appreciation for the unique specializations and inherent difficulties of each domain-focused force. This appreciation acknowledges that institutional professionalism is hardly omnicompetent or transitory between varied forms of military power (Colin S Gray, “Modern Strategy“, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 209–211).

    Landing Craft Utility 1633, departs the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) with vehicles assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) after a stern gate marriage. Ashland is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is conducting joint force amphibious operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Raymond D. Diaz).

    Landing Craft Utility 1633, departs the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) with vehicles assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) after a stern gate marriage. Ashland is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is conducting joint force amphibious operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Raymond D. Diaz).

    Categorization of Joint Action
    In Military Strategy, J.C. Wylie [1] postulated that the “common factor” to all power struggles “is the concept of control, some form or degree or extent of control exercised by one social entity over another” (J. C. Wylie, “Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control“, New Brunswick, N.J.,: Rutgers University Press, 1967, 110). Wylie’s work offers a novel lens for viewing fighting, the solitary means of war (Carl von Clausewitz, Michael Howard, and Peter Paret, “On War“, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989, 95, 97). This combat-centric view turns our attention to questioning the best strategy for combat operations.

    Often, the territorial imperative quickly comes to the forefront. If land matters most, as some have correctly suggested (Gray, 212–216; Wylie, 85; Clausewitz, 377; Lukas Milevski, “Revisiting J.C. Wylie’s Dichotomy of Strategy: The Effects of Sequential and Cumulative Patterns of Operations“, Journal of Strategic Studies 35, no. 2, January 18, 2012, 234.), then our discussion of the best strategy comes to an abrupt conclusion if we assume that land is all that matters. If only land matters, then achieving the desired effect via the continental theory of war promulgated by some strategists answers our question. As Corbett suggested:

    Since men live upon the land and not upon the sea, great issues between nations at war have always been decided — except in the rarest cases — either by what your army can do against your enemy’s territory and national life, or else by the fear of what the fleet makes it possible for your army to do. — Julian Stafford Corbett, “Some Principles of Maritime Strategy“, Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1988, 16.

    Is this settled theory or should we concern ourselves with the nagging implications of Corbett’s fear of the possible? How should we properly understand the latter part of Corbett’s statement regarding the former’s pious and possibly sole finality? Wylie offers us insight when he suggests, “there are actually two very different categories of strategies that may be used in war” (Wylie, 26.). He categorized these strategies as sequential and cumulative:

    Normally we consider a war as a series of discrete steps or action, with each one of this series of actions growing naturally out of, and dependent on, the one that preceded it. The total pattern of all the discrete or separate actions makes up, serially, the entire sequence of the war. If at any stage of the war one of these actions had happened differently, then the remainder of the sequence would have had a different pattern. The sequence would have been interrupted and altered. But there is another way to prosecute a war […]. The other is cumulative, the less perceptible minute accumulation of little items piling on top of the other until at some unknown point the mass of accumulated actions may be large enough to be critical. They are not incompatible strategies, they are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite. In practice they are usually interdependent in their strategic result — Wylie, 23–24, 26.

    “[A] sequential strategy would utilize the ability of force to take and protect,” Lukas Milevski suggests, “whereas a cumulative strategy would utilize the innate capacity of force to inflict damage” (Milevski, 229). Sequential strategies strive for finality in achieving strategic effect, while cumulative strategies effectively deny such finality.

    Both strategies are best understood as complementary sides of the same coin, rather than inherently hierarchical or opposing inferior viewpoints. Sequential strategy promotes inherently offensive assertions of control, while cumulative strategy is an inherently defensive aspect of control that saps the strength of an adversary’s assertions for control (Milevski., 234, 235.). These categorizations are not exhaustive, but they are useful in explaining how merging sequential and cumulative strategies jointly enhance strategic effect.

    So, what aspects of joint action are typical of sequential and cumulative strategies? Conventional land power is a sequential strategy because of its unique ability to control political territory. Only conventional land power can assert control by seizing political territory, and only conventional land power can achieve control by protecting that valued territory. Alternatively, forms of power promoting cumulative strategies are sea power, air power, space power, and cyber power. Guerrilla warfare is also a cumulative strategy. All cumulative strategies, however, lack direct control upon the territorial imperative (Milevski, 232–234).

    U.S. Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division descend to the ground after jumping out of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft over drop zone Sicily during Joint Operations Access Exercise at Ft. Bragg, N.C. (Photo by A1c James Richardson, USAF).

    U.S. Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division descend to the ground after jumping out of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft over drop zone Sicily during Joint Operations Access Exercise at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
    (Photo by A1c James Richardson, USAF).

    Explanation of Joint Action via Sequential and Cumulative Strategies
    It would seem inherent in Wylie’s suggestion that the “ultimate determinant” of control “in war is the man on the scene with a gun” (Wylie, 85). However valid this point might be, as suggested above with the coin analogy, it illuminates only one part of the whole. War is a “duel on a larger scale” between opponents with varied capabilities and strategies at their disposal. There is room on both sides for misconceptions about the nature of the aforementioned coin.

    Zealots will always promise “decisive” war termination via either type of strategy, omitting the obligatory importance of jointness. Slogans such as “Victory through air power“, and “[land power] when specific outcomes matter” (Huba Wass De Czege, “The Hard Truth about ‘Easy Fighting’ Theories: The Army Is Needed Most When Specific Outcomes Matter“, The Landpower Essay Series, Association of the United States Army, April 2013), illustrate two such examples. Sometimes these are suggested as result of unwitting reductionism, but can also be the polemic tools of ideology or cynical competition for resources. The greatest barrier to joint action is parochial thinking that does not fully appreciate other strategic viewpoints, more precisely, a blend of sequential and cumulative strategies.

    Relationship of Jointness to the Interaction of Sequential and Cumulative Strategies
    While finality is possible with sequential strategies, hostility is always at play. War rarely allows for a single decisive blow, nor is the ultimate outcome of a war usually to be regarded as final. Additionally, lest we commit ourselves wholly to the lure of “decisive” strategies, one can never overlook the political constraints dictated by context in asserting control (Clausewitz, 75–89, 577, 593–594). Clearly, there is more to consider than a simplified perspective of “decisiveness”.

    Milevski illuminates the interplay between cumulative and sequential strategies further:

    Cumulative strategy is underappreciated, in part because it cannot be ‘of itself reliably decisive’ […]. Its effect is limited and only works over time, anathema to those strategists whose aim is short, decisive wars. Cumulative strategy can on its own only achieve a denial of control the result of which is to obscure the choices that really are available and the consequences they may have […]. Bereft of the ability to take, it cannot force a conclusion upon [an adversary] unwilling to accept it, as may be ultimately possible with sequential strategy […]. To those not trained to think in terms of control, denial of control as an operational method seems inexplicable as it does not fall into more popular categories of operations such as direct and indirect or attritional or maneuver. Bereft of an intellectual framework, however implicit, practitioners facing a cumulative strategy have no way of understanding the character of the threat they face. This lack of comprehension affects not only the strategy chosen to counter it, but also practitioners’ grasp of who is more strongly affecting whom. — Milevski, 235–236.

    The interaction of cumulative and sequential strategies is complex. As a result, it is useful to consider this interaction during the ongoing debate over war termination, counterinsurgency operations, and even resourcing of future military capabilities. In each of these areas, success will be secured by balanced use of cumulative and sequential strategies in a joint and thoughtful manner.

    Anticipation within a Positive View of Joint Action
    Wylie’s theory of control viewed through the dichotomy of sequential and cumulative strategies is not meant to be prescriptive nor mathematical. After all, the interplay between friendly and adversarial combinations must be tested in real war (Wylie, 29). Actual context requires the subjective blend of these strategies into unified action. By understanding the core of control as having two equally important strategies, sequential and cumulative, one grasps the fundamental basis of jointness as a principle in achieving a desired strategic effect.

    “One can sense a very real possibility that this concept of sequential and cumulative strategies operating in coordination,” Wylie suggests, “may help us form more valid judgments of the interrelationship between ground and air, ground and sea, and sea and air forces.” Since he wrote these words, technology has irrevocably changed the modes of warfare making this interrelationship more complicated. Nevertheless, Wylie grasped the most important element of the debate when he suggested that control was best achieved via an interoperable application of both cumulative and sequential strategies (Wylie, 27–29, 33–35). It is for this reason that strategists should willfully acknowledge and be driven by a holistic understanding of the necessity for jointness, rather than by force of law. My personal theory suggests that this approach to joint action will increase success in translating tactical action into strategic effects that promote our national interests.

    • • •

    Acknowledgements
    This essay is greatly indebted to the works of Carl von Clausewitz, Sir Julian Corbett, Colin Gray, Lukas Milevski, and especially J.C. Wylie as the means for developing a basis of joint action. The latter’s work in Military Strategy is especially useful in parsing out how cumulative and sequential strategies drive how we think about war. Also, the author would like to thank Jeremy Renken, Scott Shipman, and Nick Prime for exchanges that further illuminated Wylie’s theory of control to me.

    Footnotes
    [1] If Sir Julian Corbett is the first joint theorist, then J.C. Wylie’s insistence upon integrated sequential and cumulative strategies as a prerequisite for political advantage within a military context demands that he be held as a close second.

    • • •

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

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    Veranstaltungshinweis: Kommt der Balkan je zur Ruhe?

    Unter dem Patronat des Generalsekretariats Sicherheitspolitik VBS findet am Montag, 27.10.2014 zwischen 1800 bis 2030 das 20. Colloquium Sicherheitspolitik im Zunfthaus zur Waag in Zürich statt. Das Colloquium widmet sich fogender Frage: “Kommt der Balkan je zur Ruhe?” Anmeldetermin: bis spätestens Freitag, 17. Oktober 2014 – die Plätze sind beschränkt.

    Details zur Veranstaltung sowie Anmeldetalon:

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    Posted in Security Policy, Veranstaltungshinweis | Leave a comment