The CSS Blog Network

The Pros and Cons of Drafting Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox

Ultra-Orthodox soldiers in Israel

Israel Defense Forces share a photo on flickr of Ultra-Orthodox soldiers finishing a course in 2010 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Many Israelis object to decades-old legislation that allows the country’s ultra-orthodox community to avoid military service. However, this may be about to change. For the first time in 18 years, an Israeli prime minister has formed a government without the ultra-orthodox parties and loyal coalition partners Shas and United Torah Judaism. As a result, Israel’s ultra-orthodox Jews may eventually be required to undertake national service. .

The reason for the surprising exclusion of the ultra-orthodox parties is the meteoric rise of the secular Yesh Atid party, headed by former TV personality and columnist, Yair Lapid. One of the main focuses of Lapid’s campaign was the demand for an “equal share of the burden” of military service. This would mean an end to the policy of allowing ultra-orthodox men to avoid army service if they continue their religious studies past the age of 18. » More

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US and South Korea: A Show of Force, But Running Out of Options?

US troops rendering honors to the Republic of Korea Navy destroyer (ROKS). Photo: US Navy/flickr

North Korea’s third nuclear test provided the ideal opportunity for the United States and South Korea to respond with their own displays of military muscle. Two days after the test, South Korea showcased a cruise missile that Seoul claims can hit targets anywhere in the North. This month was also the first time in almost two decades that an American nuclear submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles entered South Korean waters.

Thus, the endless cycle of North Korean provocation, joint military drills and verbal war continues. Yet it remains difficult to find to find good analysis on next steps that need to be taken to address the impasse on the Peninsula. » More

Iran’s New Stealth Fighter Soars Across Fake Sky

News photo of Iran’s Qaher-313 flying across a photoshopped sky.

Iranian bloggers revealed earlier this month that an official photo showing Iran’s recently unveiled stealth fighter, the Qaher-313, in flight is in fact a fake photoshopped image. Despite claims by the Iranian government that the aircraft is patrolling the skies, sharp-eyed bloggers spotted that the image was taken from the unveiling ceremony in Tehran and superimposed onto a different background.

While many Iranians (possibly including the military) have taken to Facebook to excitedly promote the Qaher-313,  many bloggers view the image as an opportunity to mock the Tehran regime.  Adding substance to their mockery are allegations that the photograph of a monkey that Iran supposedly sent into space is also a fake. » More

New Realities of the India-Russia Defense Partnership

BrahMos missile and launch canister on display at the International Maritime Defence Show, 2007, in Russia. The stealth supersonic cruise missile is a joint venture between India and Russia. Photo: One half 3544/Wikimedia Commons

A number of defense contracts are likely to be sealed when Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s visits India in November for annual summit talks with India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

India and Russia have a long history of defense cooperation, with Russia being India’s leading partner. According to Russia Today, between 1960 and 2000, Russia supplied India with about $35 billion worth of military equipment. Over the years, the relationship has evolved [pdf] from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research and development, production and marketing of advanced defense technologies, including missiles, rockets, fighter and transport aircrafts.

However, changing political landscapes may be forcing the allies to realign their interests. While India makes positive strides in its defense relations with the United States, Russia is once again keen to expand its role and influence across South Asia. Moscow’s initiatives include the Dushanbe Group of Four – a proposed collaboration between Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sensing ambivalence in the US-Pakistan relationship, Moscow has also warmed to Pakistan, much to India’s chagrin.

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Suicide-Bombs Without the Suicides: Why Drones Are So Cool

The MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle

The MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Photo: JimNtexas/flickr.

The final years of the cold war in the 1970s-1980s were dominated by nuclear issues, including the nuclear arms-race, Trident, the Soviet SS-20 missile and the cruise-missiles deployed at Greenham Common and elsewhere. Within that controversial period there were some remarkable technical developments that have a huge relevance decades later, one of them being the long-range cruise-missile itself.

Many of these were nuclear-armed, but even more were conventionally-armed. A great number was used in the attacks of January-February 1991 againstthe Iraqi forces that had occupied Kuwait. The crucial element was the production of small, super-efficient turbo-fan engines that could propel the craft over 1,500 kilometres or more. These also had advanced-guidance systems, including Tercom (terrain-contour-matching) that enabled remarkable accuracy of less than twenty metres over that range. They were, however, self-contained – their pre-programmed onboard computers did all the work, so the target coordinates could not be changed after launch. » More

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