Archive for February, 2014

US warns Russia to stay out of Ukraine

In a direct challenge to the Russian Government, the Obama administration warned Vladimir Putin and the Russian military to stay out of Ukraine while the new Parliament restored order to the country. National Security Advisor Susan Rice  went as far as to say that and Russian armed intervention would, “be grave mistake.” Other Western Countries are following suit in warning Russia that there will be no toleration of intervention. Currently, Ukraine is one state. However, there is international concern that Russian involvement would split country in two. The best option for the Obama administration going forward would be to financially support the Ukrainian government with the help of the EU, and to continue to ward off any Russian aid for Yanukovych.

Papa Kim

The summary of this article is that Kim Jong-un’s wife is pregnant again, if true this’ll be their second child. No doubt he’s trying to have a boy to carry on they dictatorship.

Now, what does this have to do with security and conflict? Not much on the surface, but it has meaning. Number one, because it’s one of those rare events that points to Kim Jong-un actually being a rational human being. It is disturbing, however, to know that already having a child, Kim has acted the way he has, offing his uncle and that side of the family. That usually isn’t the actions of a man with a child and another one up and coming. Though I would hope that when the little bundle of joy comes into this world and Kim Jong-un holds him/her for the first time and decides he’s going to change his ways…I don’t see that happening. The logical, and based of all his prior actions, thought process is that Kim Jong-un is going to keep having kids until he gets a boy to take over for him when he dies. In that case, I don’t things getting any better in North Korea, in fact, only worse. What, however, will happen if Kim does not succeed in having a baby boy? What then? It’s a long time down the road, and a lot will happen even within that time to even try put money on an outcome, nevertheless it is interesting to contemplate the implications it would have should Kim not be able to have a successor from his own seed.


Iran to sell arms to Iraq

Reuters is reporting that Iraq plans to buy $195 million worth of arms and ammunition from Iran. Currently the deal has not been acknowledged by the Iraqi government, and knowledge of the deal is being denied by the Iranian government. However, the Iraqi government has said that such a deal would make sense considering the countries current security problems. The article also states that some Iraqi officials have stated the deal was made out of frustration with delays in arms shipments from the United States. If these reports turn out to be true it would also be a violation of UNSCR 1747, which embargoed arms trades with Iran.

This growing relationship between Iran and Iraq has worried U.S. officials, but I find it hard to believe that any of it comes as a surprise. As stated in the article Iran continues to supply power to Baghdad, and Iraq has sought arms from Russia, as well as the United States. The Iraqi government is more concerned with securing the northern territory, and the upcoming elections. I believe that this relationship with between Iran and Iraq is inevitable. An intelligent move would be to anticipate this further, and use this to further open negotiations with Iran.

– Ian Heinz

T.S. Eliot called April the cruelest month, Defense contractors would pick January

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 12.53.03 PMDefense contract awards dropped by 66% to $8.44 billion this January, reports Bloomberg, the lowest in almost two years. January is apparently always a slow month for defense contractors, but this January was especially low, and none of the contracts topped $1 billion. Here’s why:

  • January’s awards tend to fall because the Pentagon pushes out more agreements at the end of its first quarter
  • The have ben substantial reductions in the defense budget recently, partially due to the recession, as well as sequester cuts
  • The DoD has been working on a temporary spending bill for the month that’s limiting new contacts and projects, which ended with mid-January’s $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill
  • The omnibus spending bill set spending levels through Sept. 30, 2015, which should help alleviate the sequestration cuts

Defense spending has become a sticking point for government defense contractors, who have been playing budget decreases as a minor slump leading only to a temporary decrease in profit. Lockheed Martin, a top defense contractor, will spend about $15 million in lobbying for this year. General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic said “The major slide is behind us. … I think we’re getting close to the bottom.” While there’s some relief over the mitigation over sequestration cuts, defense contractors anticipate a continuing trough in contract awards. Cuts in defense spending have potential to hurt U.S. innovation and capabilities. Worries over defense spending seem to be at odds with the Pentagon’s plan to boost missile defense spending for 2015, after the omnibus spending bill ends. It seems that 2015 will bring on a new fight in Congress over defense spending cuts while contractors should continue to worry about ever lowering contract awards. Defense budget hacks aren’t pleased by the current optimism coming from defense contractors. Pentagon industrial base chief Elana Broitman noted that “For us to be able to tell the story of what the sequester does to the defense environment, it’s harder when there are good profits at some of the larger companies.” 

I’ll write about today’s Pentagon budget proposals next week, this has been in my drafts all weekend. After that will probably be lots of enthusiastic QDR blogging.

The titular joke is on Jonathan D. Salant at Bloomberg Politics.


Problems inside the German-Israel marriage?

Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel on Monday with her full cabinet as part of the German-Israel consultation meetings. Merkel’s second term was titled as a “special relationship” filled with disappointments and encouraging security commitments to Israel. In 2008, Merkel declared in the Knesset speech that Israel’s security interests were integral to those of Germany.

From Israel’s perspective, Merkel is engaging in a kind of “War of the Roses” dispute in the diplomatic realm. Merkel’s government abstained during a UN vote to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization as a non-observer member state, something Canada and the Czech Republic rejected.

For Israel the flip side of the dangers that come with the special relationship is that Germany serves as a schoolmaster ready to crack the whip when Israel transgresses. Germany acts as Israel’s probation officer to prevent “their victims” from relapsing”, according to Wolfgang Pohrt.

I don’t think the German-Israeli relationship will end anytime soon. If the relationship with the US start to get tumultuous than Israel will have Germany to turn to.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

Chad Troops Killing civilians and Possible Al Qaeda Involvment

With the number of troops now numbering at 6,000 there are mixed speculations about the success of their objective for a stable C.A.R. nation. General Francisco Soriano, the commander of French forces, claims that the violence has subsided since their timely arrival in December. However, it was recently reported that Chadian troops fired upon and killed christian civilians and now the anti-Balaka has claimed that Chadian troops are supporting the Seleka militia force whom for the most part have disbanded. To add to the bad news, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a statement blaming France for the killing of Muslim civilians on the premise that it was France who disarmed the Seleka militia making Muslim civilians defenseless. AQIM made statements encouraging Muslims in C.A.R. to begin a Jihad and for Muslims within the continent of Africa to attack French interests.

Whether or not these claims are legitimate or will even carry any weight is still unclear. It does however raise an interesting question, could this be a resurgence of Al Qaeda in Africa and does it represent a threat to French as well as foreign interests in the area? With the addition to the killing of civilians by Chadian forces this will cause future doubts for stability in the C.A.R.



Russia Looks To Modernize Its Airpower

yabhon-40ITAR-TASS, a Russian news agency claims that Russia will spend close to $9 billion on a new drone program by 2020. According to the Defense Minister Sergie Shiogu, the objective is to increase Russian communications and reconnaissance abilities of the Russian military. Currently, the country has over 500 drones with 43 different variations of drones, which is one of the largest drones fleets in the world. Vladimir Putin said that “UAVs are vital to Russian development in modern aviation, and that it was essential that Russia developed a wide-range of drones, including reconnaissance and combat drones.” Last week, I believe it was Josh, discussed Russia’s military movements in the Arctic. Russia’s recent movements in the Arctic and now a proposed plan to build a massive drone fleet on top of their existing top tier drone fleet, should and does raise some concerns. Why is Russia advancing their military so rapidly? Russia’s expansionistic military efforts will ultimately alter the security balance in Asia and Europe as the country expands its military range further and further away from the homeland. Drones are designed to be stealthy and undetectable military weapons and with one of the largest fleets in the air surveying Asia and Europe (most likely – due to range) will certainly cause tensions amongst governments in the regions.

-Andrew C.

“Eagle” Wan

“Eagle” Wan, or Wan Tao, was the “king of China’s hackers.” He ran China Eagle Union, an independent hacking group, from 2000-2005. Wan did not want to work for the Chinese government and stated that he funneled his frustrations with China into anger towards other countries. This attitude made him want to hack any country that threatened China’s greatness. Essentially, Wan hacked for his country but was not working directly for the government. He was responsible for hacking the White House website and posting the Chinese flag. Wan denies any accusations of recent attacks on the United States. China Eagle Union shut down in 2006 and Wan is now working as a cybersecurity consultant for Chinese corporations. Wan claims that he would like to be a “force for good.”

The significance of Wan and China Eagle Union, especially since they stopped in 2006, rests in the shaping of the U.S. and China cyber relationship. After China Eagle Union hacked the White House page, relations between the two countries over cyber issues deteriorated. With the heightened level of suspicion and lack of trust between China and the U.S., it is likely that cooperation will continue failing and tensions will rise. Both countries are strengthening their offensive and defensive cyber capacities and are probably heading for a cyber arms race. China has advantages, especially the level of censorship and a hacker king protecting businesses, while the United States appears to be falling behind.


-Emma Goodacre

“El Chapo” BUSTED

This weekend Joaquin Guzman, “El Chapo” was arrested in a resort town. The Mexican marines were able to quickly seize “El Chapo” due to the intelligence gathered by the DEA and other law enforcement agencies. “El Chapo” was the leader of the Sinaloa cartel and has eluded capture many times in the past. This event is a very positive step in reducing the influence of the drug cartels in Mexico. Mexico has had lots of trouble fighting the cartels due to corruption within the Government and law enforcement and the superior weaponry of the cartels. Recently the mexican public has began to fight back against the cartels in the form of vigilantism. With the help of the public, US intelligence gathering, and intervention of the mexican military, I believe the Mexican Government can now successfully fight back against the Mexican cartels.


Andy Sanz-Guerrero

Taliban Aggression Continues

I one of the deadliest attacks this year, Taliban fighters assaulted an Afghan security checkpoint in the Kunar province.  The battle lasted for several hours and left 21 Afghan police dead.  Afghan President Karzai had to cancel a visit to Sri Lanka because of the attack.  Afghan officials claim that hundreds of Taliban fighters were involved in the attack which took place on Sunday morning.  Military officials also claim that they believe the Taliban has infiltrated Afghan security forces.  This incident further indicates that the Afghan police are nearly helpless against the Taliban.  The fact that they are experiencing infiltration from insurgent forces bodes horribly for the Afghan force’s future security.  It is no coincidence that Taliban aggression has escalated as Afghan elections have approached.  The Taliban are using this increased aggression to send a message to the Afghan government that they are the ones actually in control.  I expect Taliban attacks to increase even further as the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country approaches.  The Afghan government needs to seriously rethink its strategy in dealing with the Taliban threat.  The fact that attacks are increasing in both severity and audacity indicates that the Taliban does not feel threatened by the government and that they do not plan on stopping anytime soon.


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