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U.S. Naval Update Map: Jan. 14, 2021
The U.S. Military Is a Helicopter Parent
Washington needs to trust partner forces to stand on their own feet.
Jerad I. HarperJanuary 13, 2022, 10:09 AM
An expert's point of view on a current event.
By , an active-duty Army colonel and assistant professor at the U.S. Army War College, and John Nagl, a retired Army officer and a visiting professor at the U.S. Army War College.
An Oct. 3, 2021, Foreign Policy article by Bret Devereaux argued the United States should change the way it builds partnered militaries and create them as “auxiliaries” along the lines of imperial Rome. Devereaux is a capable historian of ancient Rome, but the techniques of around 2,000 years ago no longer work. In fact, the United States has an unfortunate tendency to follow the Roman model when building host nation security forces, albeit unconsciously—with disappointing results.
In its most vital and heavily resourced overseas endeavors, the United States creates partner forces as appendages of its own military and intelligence services rather than as independent and capable structures able to stand on their own. Like the proverbial “helicopter parent”—and indeed, sometimes literally by using helicopters—the United States often sees situations as too important not to do the hard things itself and doesn’t allow its partners the opportunity to learn from failure. That produces partners that find themselves unable to stand on their own when the United States eventually pulls out. Instead, they become dependent on Washington—whether it’s for air support, logistics, communications, or other critical enablers—and incapable of achieving the autonomy they will inevitably need in the long run…
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
China, Bhutan, India: Beijing Ramps Up Construction in Disputed Border Areas
What Happened: Beijing has built more than 200 buildings and roads along Bhutan's disputed border near India's strategic Siliguri Corridor, Reuters reported Jan. 12.
Why It Matters: China's construction activity directly threatens India's Siliguri Corridor, which links India's major landmass to its northeastern states. Chinese activity in Bhutan, along with Beijing's ongoing standoff with India on both eastern and western fronts, will further exacerbate China-Bhutan tensions. India would likely intervene in Bhutan if a military conflict with China grows more likely, as it did in the 2017 Doklam standoff.
Background: In October 2021, Bhutan and China signed a framework agreement to expedite border resolution talks, which have been ongoing since 1984. Reports during the same time also suggested that Bhutan and China reestablished diplomatic relations, but those relations have yet to materialize.
UK military chief warns of Russian threat to vital undersea cables
The head of the UK’s armed forces has warned that Russian submarine activity is threatening underwater cables that are crucial to communication systems around the world. Adm Tony Radakin said undersea cables that transmit internet data are “the world’s real information system”, and added that any attempt to damage them could be considered an “act of war”. Speaking to the Times in his first interview since assuming the role, Sir Tony – a former head of the Royal Navy – said there had been a “phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and underwater activity” over the past 20 years. He said that meant Moscow could “put at risk and potentially exploit the world’s real information system, which is undersea cables that go all around the world”.
Lithuania accelerates rocket artillery buy amid Russian military buildup
Jaroslaw AdamowskiJan 12, 11:48 AM
WARSAW, Poland — The Lithuanian government has decided to accelerate its planned purchase of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) amid Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine.
The decision to buy the system in 2026, two years earlier than Vilnius previously planned, was taken by the State Defence Council, a body that comprises Lithuania’s president, prime minister, defense minister, parliament speaker, and the chief of defense…
…Local observers say the ministry plans to order Lockheed Martin’s M270 MLRS…
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
Taliban Religious Police Issue Posters Ordering Women to Cover Up
The Taliban's religious police have put up posters around the Afghan capital, Kabul, ordering women to cover up... the latest in a string of creeping restrictions. The poster, which includes an image of the face-covering burqa, was placed on cafes and shops this week by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Since returning to power in August, the Taliban have increasingly curtailed freedoms, particularly those of women and girls.
India, Iran, Afghanistan: New Aid Route May Help Alleviate Kabul's Crises
What Happened: Iran offered India the use of its Chabahar Port to transport humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Ariana News reported Jan. 10.
Why It Matters: There are no direct flights from India to Afghanistan, and Pakistan has blocked India's 50,000 ton wheat consignment to Afghanistan on the India-Pakistan border. India will thus explore Iranian options to deliver aid to Afghanistan, even though the Pakistan corridor is more cost-effective. By providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, India hopes to engage with the Taliban indirectly and open avenues of cooperation.
Background: India has pledged humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which is facing a harsh winter and an economic crisis. India recently sent medical supplies to Afghanistan via an aerial route through Dubai on Jan. 7 and previously supplied about 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines and other medicines to Afghanistan through Tehran on Jan. 1.
Biden Can No Longer Ignore Growing Iran-China Ties
Washington may be tired of the Middle East, but Beijing is just getting started.
Bradley BowmanJanuary 13, 2022, 3:48 PM
By , the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Zane Zovak, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian will visit China on Friday to deepen the “comprehensive strategic partnership” the two countries signed last year. Growing Sino-Iranian security cooperation represents a serious threat to core U.S., Israeli, and Gulf Arab security interests. To address them, the Biden administration needs to take several urgent steps now.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin confirmed Tuesday that Amir-Abdollahian will visit China on Friday, reiterating that “China is ready to work with Iran to further deepen the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership.”
The 25-year strategic partnership, which Beijing and Tehran signed in March 2021, offers major benefits for two U.S. adversaries united in their opposition to the United States and to the rule of law. By building relations with Iran, China strengthens its foothold in the Middle East, undermines the United States, and further secures access to Iranian oil and other important commodities. For its part, Iran will get billions of dollars in Chinese energy and infrastructure investment, undercutting the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions against the regime…
How Close Is Iran to Getting a Nuclear Weapon?
Why Tehran’s breakout time has shrunk—and the technological hurdles that remain.
The Biden administration has warned that Iran is on the brink of producing enough fuel for a nuclear bomb. But how close is Iran to actually having the ability to launch a nuclear weapon?
There are a number of critical technological hurdles Tehran must surmount first to acquire a fully functioning nuclear weapons program. Iran must develop enough highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium to fuel one or more nuclear bomb; construct a nuclear warhead capable of housing the fissile nuclear fuel; and develop a ballistic missile system capable of delivering a nuclear explosive to its target. Finally, it needs to conduct a test to see if the explosive actually works…
Middle East foreign ministers head to China for meetings
BEIJING (AP) — Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states are visiting China this week for meetings with officials from the world’s second largest economy, a leading consumer of oil and source of foreign investment.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday gave no details of the agendas for the visits, but said they were expected to “deepen relations between the two sides.”
The meetings running through Friday will include the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, along with the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Iraq’s new parliament holds 1st session marked by disarray
Iraq’s new parliament reelected its speaker for a second term Sunday, the first step toward forming a new government after a general election whose results have been contested by powerful Iran-backed factions. In a reflection of tensions, the meeting was marked by disarray, with the eldest member of Parliament who was leading the session being evacuated to the hospital apparently due to the stress. The chaotic meeting ushers in what is likely to be a lengthy period of political wrangling among rival groups to choose a new president and prime minister. As leader of the biggest bloc, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — a maverick leader remembered for leading an insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion — has the upper hand in forming a new government. But he will have to manage tensions with rival Shiite groups who continue to reject the election results and are demanding to have a say in the government formation process.
Iraq's Sadr says 'no place for militias' in new government
Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr said today said that there will be no place for militias in the country's new government, Anadolu Agency reports. His statements came on the eve of the first session of Iraq's new parliament following the Oct. 10 parliamentary elections, in which his bloc emerged winner. "Today, there is no place for sectarianism or ethnicity, but a national majority government where the Shias will defend the rights of minorities, the Sunnis and Kurds," al-Sadr said on Twitter.
Iraq: Two protesters shot in bid 'to prevent' Soleimani memorial service
Two protesters were shot by gunmen as they attempted to disrupt a memorial service for assassinated Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on Saturday. Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed on 3 January 2020 in a US drone strike in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. He was killed along with his Iraqi lieutenant, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy leader of the pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi, a coalition of former paramilitary groups now integrated into the Iraqi state security apparatus.
Iraqi Forces Capture 11 IS Members in Separate Operations
Iraqi security forces have captured 11 members of the Islamic State (IS) in separate operations, a military official said on Thursday. Major General Yehia Rasoul, a spokesperson for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, confirmed in a statement that seven of the jihadists were captured in the province of Anbar during an operation by the Counter-Terrorism Service. According to Rasoul, two more insurgents in Kirkuk, one in Salahaddin, and another in Diyala provinces were also captured.
More Cracks Emerge in Israel’s Fragile Coalition Government
Israel’s government, one of the most politically diverse coalitions assembled in the country’s history, is engaging in policy disagreements that could weaken it to the point of collapse.
On Dec. 28, right-wing members of Israel’s ruling coalition condemned Defense Minister Benny Gantz after he met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and announced a series of measures designed to boost the economy in the West Bank. Then, on Jan. 1, the Islamist Ra’am party threatened to leave the coalition over an otherwise popular tree-planting project in the Negev desert, where a large part of Israel’s Arab Bedouin population lives. In both cases, coalition members negotiated backroom deals, avoiding their seven-month-old government’s immediate demise. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assured right-wing lawmakers that Gantz’s meeting with Abbas would not see a return to the peace talks with the Palestinians. And the forestry project has also been paused until there’s a plan in place to ensure Bedouin communities aren’t displaced. Both incidents, however, highlight how the diverse political make-up of the eight-party coalitionmakes policymaking difficult, and how fractures may eventually lead to the government’s dissolution…
North Korea fires possible missile into sea amid stalled talks
North Korea on Tuesday fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile into its eastern sea, its second weapons launch in a week, the militaries of South Korea and Japan said. ... South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea likely fired a single ballistic missile from an inland area to its eastern sea, and that the South Korean and U.S. militaries were analyzing the launch. It didn't immediately say how far the weapon flew.
Putin’s Fixation With an Old-School U.S. Missile Launcher
Russia says the Pentagon’s European missile defense isn’t so defensive after all. Does it have a point?
Jack DetschJanuary 12, 2022, 5:53 PM
When top Russian officials huddled before whirlwind arms control talks with the United States this week, they weren’t preoccupied with fears of a state-of-the-art futuristic U.S. weapons system being developed in a clandestine Pentagon laboratory.
Instead, with Russian troops continuing to build up on the Ukrainian border, their minds were on a U.S. weapons system that was first deployed way back in the Reagan administration, on U.S. destroyers, to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The Mark 41 missile launcher, also known as the MK 41, has been fired more than 4,000 times since first entering service in the 1980s by the United States and its allies and over three decades has become the Defense Department’s weapon of choice for retaliatory strikes, used everywhere from Iraq and Syria to the former Yugoslavia. Now Russia is worried that it could be the next target…
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL
Iran Navy Port Emerges as Key to Alleged Weapons Smuggling to Yemen, U.N. Report Says
Thousands of rocket launchers, machine guns, sniper rifles and other weapons seized in the Arabian Sea by the U.S. Navy in recent months likely originated from a single port in Iran, according to a confidential United Nations report that provides some of the most detailed evidence that Tehran is exporting to Yemen and elsewhere. The draft report prepared by a U.N. Security Council panel of experts on Yemen said small arms wooden boats and overland transport were used in attempts to smuggle weapons made in Russia, China and Iran along routes to Yemen that the U.S. has tried for years to shut down. .... Iran has diplomatically supported the Houthis in their conflict in Yemen and abroad against targets in Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea, but has long denied providing the group with arms.
U.S., China: Governments Push Forward With Technology Investment Plans
What Happened: The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to progress on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which devotes major funding to industrial development, Bloomberg reported Jan. 13. On Jan. 12, China’s State Council released a plan to develop China’s digital economy by 2025.
Why It Matters: Both countries are planning to reinvigorate their industrial policies amid ongoing competition over strategic technology. The United States will continue to expand its bans on supplying and investing in certain Chinese technology companies, as it did recently with world-leading Chinese drone maker DJI. China will have a light touch on technology bans, as it needs U.S. tech to fuel its industries, but Beijing will also emphasize self-sufficiency in tech companies by encouraging local Chinese suppliers to replace foreign ones when possible. China will also continue to invest tens of billions of dollars in its "strategic emerging industries" like artificial intelligence, next-generation 6G cellular networks and new energy vehicles.
Background: The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act allocates $52 billion to bolster the U.S. chips industry. China plans to develop its digital economy by providing 60 million households with 1-gigabit internet speeds, connecting 45% of industrial enterprises to "industrial internet platforms," registering 800 million Chinese citizens for digital government services, and boosting supply chain security by producing more technology domestically.
Four Israeli Women Arrested For Providing Intelligence To Iran
Four Israeli women who sent pictures and other information to an Iranian operative have been accused of spying for Iran, Israel’s domestic intelligence service said. The women, who were all Jewish immigrants from Iran according to local media, were indicted for "serious crimes" over the past month, Shin Bet said in a statement on January 12. The Iranian operative, a man calling himself Rambod Namdar, originally contacted the women on Facebook posing as an Iranian Jew, Shin Bet said. Although the women suspected the man was an Iranian operative, they still provided him with intelligence in return for payment, according to the statement. In some cases, the contacts went on for several years.
Biden Administration Approves 5 More Guantánamo Releases
A U.S. government review panel has approved the release of five men who have been held for years without charge at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to a flurry of decisions released by the Pentagon on Tuesday, but they are unlikely to be freed soon as the Biden administration works to find nations to take them. The disclosure came on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the wartime prison, and President Barack Obama’s last special envoy on the task, Lee Wolosky, used the occasion to urge the White House to shut down the operation.
Roughly 18,000 Afghan refugees remain on US bases months after withdrawal
Five U.S. military bases are housing the roughly 18,000 Afghan refugees that have yet to be resettled within the United States, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told the Washington Examiner Tuesday. The refugees who are still on bases are being housed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Fort McCoy, Fort Pickett, Camp Atterbury, and Holloman Air Force Base. While there are approximately 18,000 refugees still on bases, roughly 57,000 have already resettled into various communities across the country. “Operation Allies Welcome has made incredible progress over the last four and a half months, and we are thankful for the support that veterans, faith groups, and people across the country have shown our Afghan allies as they join their new communities," the spokesperson added…