Security Conflict Defense

An Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter for Tomorrow’s Conflict

Marine attack helicopter landing aboard ship

This article was originally published April 18 2014 by Small Wars Journal

In January the Army Aviation Center of Excellence announced its plan to divest the army inventory of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior in favor of an attack and reconnaissance aviation force consisting of the AH-64 Apache and unmanned aircraft systems. The announcement drew both criticism and praise from various blogs and media sources. Most of this commentary centered on questions of the ability of the Apache helicopter and UAS to fulfill the aerial scout role,
and whether or not the Kiowa Warrior is truly obsolete. It is arguable however that the decision was driven as much by fiscal austerity as battlefield requirements.

Government Security Humanitarian Issues

Somalia: Why Orthodox Aid Policy Must Give Way to Battlefield Reality

Mogadishu in May 2013, courtesy of TEDxPhotos/flickr

This article was originally published 17 April 2014 by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS)

Jens Mjaugedal, Special Envoy of Norway to Somalia, is frustrated… which is hardly surprising given his mission to try to turn Somalia, which has officially been the world’s most failed state for many years, into a success. The biggest problem in Somalia is how to keep the deadly al-Qaeda-affiliated, Islamist militant group al-Shabaab at bay.

The African Union’s robust peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) expelled al-Shabaab from Mogadishu two years ago, and is now engaged in a major offensive to try to rid the country of the scourge altogether. AMISOM claims to have liberated 10 strategic towns so far, though the war is very far from won.

Government Security Foreign policy

Barack Obama, The Peacemaker

Jagland and Obama. Source: Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

This article was originally published April 21 2014 by World Policy Blog.

Less than two weeks after Barack Obama assumed the Presidency of the United States, he was nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Several months later, primarily on the basis of his eloquent speeches rather than his accomplishments, he was awarded that coveted recognition.

In his acceptance speech, Obama said he was “surprised” and “deeply humbled” by the award, but didn’t really feel deserving of the honor.

Now, after nearly six years of pursuing his strategy of reaching out a friendly hand of accommodation to adversaries, rather than what he considered George Bush’s menacing fist, and of disengaging the United States from increasingly unpopular wars and entanglements, has he lived up to the hopes and expectations of the Noble Prize Committee or of American voters?

Government Security

A New Plan to Halt the Downward Spiral of the SA Defence Force

Roodewal Weapons Range 09/05/13
Image: Flickr

Editor’s note: This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies on 7 April 2014.

After being in limbo for almost 16 years, with no review of its role since 1998, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) now has a new blueprint for the future. The 2014 Defence Review was approved by cabinet and has been cleared for publication, following a lengthy process that started in mid-2011. It takes into account South Africa’s increasing role in peacekeeping in Africa and will form a basis for funding allocated to the military. However, the strategy should be implemented soon to stop the decline of the defence sector that has resulted from a lack of funds and overstretching of its capabilities.

Years of under-spending and a mismatch between missions and funding have had dramatic consequences. For example, where the 1998 Review provided for one battalion to be deployed externally for a year, the SANDF has had at least two battalions deployed for peacekeeping since 2001 – three for a decade and briefly four – along with smaller elements. Today it has a battalion group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), plus a battalion in Darfur and a frigate in the Mozambique Channel. In the interim, the government also changed its mind and instructed the SANDF to again take over responsibility for border safeguarding.

Government Elections Regional Stability

Kosovo: Time for a Restart between Pristina and the North?

Young Kosovo. Source: Tony Bowden

It was hoped that the Brussels Agreement would lead to the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and stabilize the situation in Northern Kosovo in the process. Yet, while it’s true that ties between Pristina and Belgrade have improved, the same cannot be said about the Kosovar capital’s relations with its restive northern territory. Indeed, Pristina still lacks a dialogue with the Serbian minority in the north. Will a change of government help to rectify this situation?