Monthly Archives: June 2013

Afghanistan’s Opium Trade: Why Britain Aren’t Kick the Drug Habit after 2014

Posted on June 29, 2013 at 11:31 am

RUSI Analysis, 12 Jul 2013 By Charlie Edwards, Senior Research Fellow/Director National Security and Resilience

As British troops depart Afghanistan, increasing production of opium and heroin within the country remains a cause for concern. There’s a clear need for the British government to continue funding counter-narcotics programmes, and work with regional partners, including Iran.

Opium poppy growers

Afghanistan produces roughly 90 per cent of the world’s illicit opium.[1] In step with a up to date UNODC report, thrice as much opium was produced in Helmand in 2012 than in 2006. The 2013 Opium Risk Assessment for the southern, eastern, western and central regions of Afghanistan highlights further concerns. Poppy cultivation is predicted to expand into new areas where poppy cultivation was disrupted. This is often particularly the case in less developed areas, where farmers are planting poppy seeds within the wake of the departing coalition forces. Areas which were poppy-free for years risk resuming poppy cultivation.

The former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has stated that the medication trade was among the factors in his decision to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001, because it was component of the Taliban regime that ‘we should seek to destroy’. Twelve years on, the drugs trade continues to undermine the security of the country and wider region. While figures remain difficult to verify, it is estimated that the Taliban amasses a small fortune from the trade each year – with estimates of up to $150 million per annum. This money fuels the insurgency, sustains corruption within national and local government and creates the necessary conditions across Afghanistan for terrorists and insurgents to operate. The situation is now so bad in some areas of the country that American soldiers are now advised not to step foot in poppy fields or damage them in any way. Nor can they discourage poppy farmers, from growing their illicit crop, which is hardier and commands a higher price than alternatives such as wheat. Something has clearly gone badly wrong.

Fragile Gains

The truth is that the counter-narcotics campaign was always going to be a complex challenge for coalition forces. Politicians, military commanders and media commentators in the region are rightly concerned with what the increase in opium means for the drug trade and Afghanistan’s security in the future. The role of the US and its counter-narcotics strategy will also shape the UK’s response. Since 2009 the Obama Administration has scaled back on eradication efforts focusing instead on targeting Taliban-linked traffickers and alternative livelihoods efforts. Like the UK, the US has concentrated on implementing these programmes but with limited success. Should the current governance structures deteriorate post-2014 and corruption increase further, security will remain extremely fragile.

The challenge is not limited to Afghanistan. The impact of the drugs trade on Pakistan in particular is cause for concern. For the British government, Pakistan’s stability is likely to be a greater priority than Afghanistan in the future. As such, counter-narcotics work in the country – in particular supporting law enforcement activity may become a key priority for the government going forwards. 

For the British government there is another equally pressing issue as the 2014 deadline draws closer: what does this all mean for UK national security?  The fear, expressed by some analysts, is that 2014 will mark the point where the UK and other coalition governments quietly cut counter narcotic programmes, reduce resources and shrink their footprint in the country.

This would be a strategic error. While only 5 per cent of the total opium market in Afghanistan reaches UK shores (the rest is consumed in the region, with Iran netting eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all the other countries in the world combined), 95 per cent of the heroin in the UK comes from opium produced in Afghanistan. This adds up to approximately 20 tonnes of heroin being imported into the UK per annum.

As the drawdown in Afghanistan builds up, so the UK’s vulnerability to the drugs trade from the country and region will likely increase, though it is not necessarily inevitable. There are numerous factors that must be accounted for – such as the decline in the number of heroin users in the UK over the past decade, which now stands at 298,752 .The drugs trade comes with serious social and economic costs to the UK – some of which are hard to quantify though some organisations suggest that drug treatment programmes have prevented an estimated five million drug-related crimes a year, such as burglary, shoplifting and robbery.

Investing in the Future

Any plan to reduce the impact of the drug trade in the UK from Afghanistan will have to consider three mutually reinforcing strands of work. Support to the government of Afghanistan even if counter-narcotics becomes less of a priority for them; a renewed focus on disrupting and dismantling the supply chain which will require working with neighbouring governments; and continuing efforts at home.

In 2012, the government of Afghanistan launched the National Drug Demand Reduction Policy for the period 2012-2016. The policy addresses drug abuse prevention and the treatment and rehabilitation of drug-affected persons. It recommends the establishment of regional drug treatment centres and an increase in drug prevention and treatment capacity by up to forty per cent over the next five years.[2]

In February 2012, the Afghan government launched the National Alternative Livelihood Policy, which aims to tackle the root causes and drivers of dependency on illicit crops. It also published an Anti-Drug Trafficking Policy which concentrates on law enforcement resources on high-value drug traffickers and their organisations. The policy’s objectives include increasing the drug seizure rate from the current 0.5-1.5 per cent to a minimum of 12 per cent and increasing the precursors seizure rate to between 30 and 50 per cent within five years.

While the government of Afghanistan focuses on counter-narcotics in country – efforts will also have to continue to disrupt and dismantle the supply chain. Much of the heroin in the UK comes via a circuitous route through Baluchistan and the Makran Coast to South Africa (where it is then sent by numerous means to the UK and Europe).  Heroin traffickers rely on organised crime groups to assist them in trafficking the drugs so work must focus at the supply chain as well. Key to these efforts is supporting local law enforcement and rule of law capacity across the region especially in Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. Any work must build on the UNODC programmes in Iran on illicit trafficking and border management and crime, justice and corruption.

While there are genuine concerns that the drawdown in Afghanistan could lead to an increase in both heroin to the UK as well as an increase in purity levels too, it is worth reflecting on the actual impact this is having in the UK. Some experts argue that more poppy production in Afghanistan is likely to have a direct effect on the heroin trade in Britain’s streets while others are not so sure such ‘a cut-and-dry, supply-and-demand explanation is valid.’ There are also indications that heroin use is in decline. Successful seizures – increasingly upstream, at source, has reduced the supply and had an effect on the wholesale prices for heroin. According to the Serious Organised Crime Agency, in 2009/10, 1kg heroin cost around £15-17,000 at wholesale, while in 2011 organised crime groups were trading high quality heroin for around £40,000. An aging user population has also had an impact as people are more likely to seek treatment than in the past. However, data from England and Wales show that drug misuse is responsible for 10 per cent of deaths from all causes for those aged 20-39 in 2011 and heroin and morphine accounted for most of the deaths.[3]

A Future Priority?

As British troops depart Afghanistan and the related security and intelligence infrastructure is reconfigured for the future it is likely that counter-narcotics will become a lower priority for the Afghan government and the coalition community. It would be a disaster if past gains were squandered by incoherent planning for the future. Continued support to Afghan institutions including the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, Task Force 333, and other interagency centres must remain a priority.  

Given the complexity of this task, clear leadership within the British government is needed. There will be many competing demands for funding programmes in Afghanistan post-2014. The case for continuing counter-narcotics work must be made loud and clear.  The government may not have succeeded in destroying the drugs trade as Blair may have hoped but it should seek to control its impact on the UK. As the draw down from Afghanistan continues apace the British government’s strategy for counter-narcotics in the rustic matters greater than ever before. 

 Notes

1. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

2. Report of the International Narcotics Control Board, http://incb.org/incb/en/about.html

3. World Drug Report 2013, http://www.unodc.org/doc/wdr/Chp1_A.pdf

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China’s Air Defence Identification Zone and its role in Chinese Geo-Strategic Policy

Posted on June 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

RUSI Analysis, 4 Dec 2013

China’s sudden declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone covering the uninhabited Senkaku islands just isn’t intended to increase Chinese airspace as portion of a place-denial/anti-access strategy. China’s real aim is instead to reinforce their quasi-legal territory claims inside the future.

By Justin Bronk for RUSI.org

Senkaku Islands Aeriel view

Senkaku Islands The long-running territorial dispute between China and Japan over the uninhabited Senkaku islands (referred to as Diaoyu in China) within the East China Sea recently flared up using China’s sudden declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering the islands and the disputed Chunxiao gas field.

Although this announcement has created a storm of protests from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the usa, the imposition of an ADIZ is not at all novel and in reality is a well established tool for formalising claims to national security interests in a region without trying to expand territorial borders. Japan’s own ADIZ covers the Senkaku islands, the Chunxiao gas field and over half the complete East China Sea. South Korea has an ADIZ to the North and the united states has had one in place around Guam for decades.

Therefore, although the Chinese declaration has raised the diplomatic temperature within the region, the announcement of the ADIZ need to be seen within this wider context. The ADIZ have been portrayed in Japan and masses of the Western media as an ineffective attempt at area denial which greatly increases the danger of a miscalculation which may bring about a tremendous crisis. However, Chinese actions up to now suggest that this can be a misleading view and that the ADIZ should instead be seen as an extended term option to strengthen China’s quasi-legal claims to the Senkakus, and test the Obama administration’s willingness to risk a prolonged and dear stand-off over the East China Sea.  

Initial Reactions and the hazards of Accidental Escalation

Since the Chinese ADIZ was announced on 23 November 2013, USAF B-52 bombers, Japanese fighters, surveillance and AWACS aircraft, and South Korean P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft have all deliberately patrolled the zone without complying with the recent requirements to preserve radio contact, submit flight plans, and identify themselves to Chinese air controllers. Furthermore, Japanese airlines have refused to conform with the hot rules unless their destinations are in Chinese territory.

So far, despite Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke’s statement on 29 November that fighters have been scrambled to observe US and Japanese aircraft within the ADIZ, no actual aerial challenge was reported. The Chinese government has faced domestic criticism for not reacting to the incursions and has reacted by deploying early warning aircraft and jet fighters to patrol the disputed airspace.

This has ended in widespread media speculation in regards to the dangers of a miscalculation by all sides within the air leading to a much wider crisis, especially between China and Japan, which may attract the usa. Certainly, the ADIZ is having the effect of worsening relations in an already tense standoff that has seen multiple incursions by Chinese naval and airborne assets into declared Japanese waters round the Senkakus. However, it is very important consider that unlike other episodes within the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, which recently saw the Japanese government threaten to shoot down any Chinese unmanned aircraft violating its airspace and China warning that this type of move could be an act of war, the ADIZ has only been accompanied by vague warnings of ‘defensive emergency measures’ for violations. Essentially, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said it was ‘incorrect’ to indicate China would shoot down aircraft which entered the zone without first identifying themselves.

This Chinese declaration means that the dangers of military confrontation within the ADIZ will not be as high as some inside the media have suggested. Whilst the risk of miscalculation is definitely significant, it was already an element within the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute before the Chinese ADIZ was declared and is unlikely to greatly increase for this reason.

What Role Does the ADIZ Play in Chinese strategy whether it is Not Enforced?

The announcement that China is just not threatening to shoot down intruders raises the question of what role China actually assigns to its new ADIZ in national security policy. There isn’t a recognised legal justification for ADIZs however the extent to which they differ from no-fly zones could be seen in legal guidance at the subject that’s issued to the usa Military. Not like Chinese demands, the united states Navy Commander’s Handbook at the Law of Naval Operations states that:

‘The U . s . doesn’t recognize the precise of a coastal nation to use its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not meaning to enter national airspace nor does the us apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not desiring to enter U.S. airspace. Accordingly, U.S. military aircraft not aspiring to enter national airspace usually are not identify themselves or otherwise adjust to ADIZ procedures established by other nations, unless the us has specifically agreed to do so’.

It is very probable that the Chinese government views the ADIZ as largely symbolic, in preference to a device to noticeably expand the airspace under China’s direct control. Despite the united states Defense Secretary’s statement that the ADIZ was ‘a destabilizing try to alter the established order inside the region’, China’s actions don’t seem especially unreasonable if one considers that each one its neighbours inside the region have put ADIZs in place to hide territories to which they attach significant national interest.

Viewed on this light, Chinese claims that international protestations over the zone are hypocritical do have a hoop of truth to them. However, it also includes worth noting that the Japanese and US ADIZ’s within the region were announced well earlier than implementation and drawn up as a part of transparent processes. In contrast, China imposed its new ADIZ without prior warning or international consultation. This and the truth that China has demanded aircraft not destined for Chinese territory must comply are factors US criticism has specifically focussed on as Vice-President Joe Biden begins his Asia tour. The Chinese zone is likewise different from other ADIZ’s within the area because it covers territory that’s internationally recognised as being controlled by a foreign power (Japan).

The indisputable fact that up to now China has not taken any meaningful measures to truly enforce compliance with ADIZ requirements means that Japanese and American rhetoric painting it as a kind of area denial over disputed territories is off the mark. The Chinese military is well aware that it cannot expect to enforce the conditions of the ADIZ where it overlaps with the Japanese zone with no full scale military confrontation.

Given the Chinese Government’s sensitivity to national humiliation, it kind of feels odd for China to announce this kind of controversial measure without with the ability to enforce it, if that enforcement was required to complete the aims behind the policy. Needless to say, it’s possible that Beijing simply underestimated the united states and Japanese reaction to the ADIZ and are still debating find out how to respond. However, the shortcoming of enforcement efforts means that China’s aim seriously isn’t simple denial of access to the airspace above the Senkakus and Chunxiao gas field.

Alternate Chinese aims in establishing the ADIZ are inclined to include establishing a protracted-term quasi-legal basis for reinforcing their sovereignty claims to the Senkaku islands. The hope would presumably be that if the opposite regional powers may be able to continue to make use of the airspace without undue hindrance, protests against the ADIZ will slowly die down and in ten years time China can use the brand new ‘lines at the map’ to assert it has a protracted-term legal claim to the realm. The imposition of another framework for military/legal/diplomatic confrontation within the area will also serve to complicate and constrawithin the planning of future Japanese and US manoeuvres in the region.

The ADIZ can also be evidence of a deliberate policy of testing the U.S. commitment to its ‘Pacific pivot’ strategy within the face of continued problems for the Obama administration and American military exhaustion from the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. The immediate deployment of B-52s to fly in the course of the new ADIZ represents greater than a signal of refusal to recognize the zone at the portion of the united states.

In this light, it’s a signal to China that the Pentagon and the Obama administration are willing to risk a prolonged, tense and costly stand-off within the East China Sea, and completely comprehend the aptitude geo-strategic implications of China’s increasing assertiveness within the Pacific. It also suggests an apprehension in Washington that if this ADIZ isn’t met with a robust and immediate response, Beijing may repeat the strategy inside the South China Sea and elsewhere as component to its approach to force america and Japan far from the Chinese mainland.

Justin Bronk will also be contacted at j.bronk@hotmail.co.uk

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Abu Qatada Leaves the uk

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm

RUSI Analysis, 9 Jul 2013 By Raffaello Pantucci, Senior Research Fellow

Abu Qatada symbolised an era of British jihadism that trusted radical preachers to motivate a generation of terrorists. Alongside a general degradation of Al-Qa’ida’s capacity to launch large-scale plots, Qatada’s departure marks an end of an era that peaked in the course of the 7 July 2005 attacks on London.

Abu Qatada cropped The departure of Abu Qatada from British soil at the eighth anniversary of the 7 July bombings in London marks something of a marker for a period of British jihadism. From a coordinated threat directed by Al-Qa’ida that drew on a community of young British Muslims fostered by radical preachers resulting in plots just like the 7/7 attack, the menace has now evolved. Expressions inside the kind of attempted attacks or thwarted plots continue to look, but gone is both the straightforward and public coordination at home epitomised by the unconventional preacher community within the UK, and gone is ability of Al-Qaida core in Waziristan especially to govern large scale plots through this actual network to strike on British soil.

Radical Preachers

Abu Qatada was the last of 4 prominent preachers within the Uk around whom young radicals from all over the world gathered and who formed the nub of what was publicly derided as ‘Londonistan.’ A period within the 1990s when Britain became the house faraway from home for plenty of preachers and activists from around the Muslim world agitating for change, both violent and non-violent, of their home countries. A lot of these individuals presented (and continue to provide) no specific threat to the united kingdom, and are focused a great deal on events abroad.

Abu Qatada’s role within this community was a captivating one. Largely focused abroad, he nevertheless had authority over this sub-community within the UK. Particularly, he was reported to have told security services that he could ‘wield powerful, spiritual influence over the Algerian community in London.’ He also acted as a teacher figure to younger men Abu Hamza and Abdullah el-Faisal, either one of whom were characterised as his students at one time or another. He seems to have had a less direct relationship with Omar Bakri Mohammed, the fourth of the novel preachers, though it sort of feels clear the boys moved in similar circles in London. Abu Qatada’s credentials as a scholar and his links to 1 the fathers of contemporary Salafism, Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani set him aside from the opposite three who lacked such credentials. Unlike the opposite three, his impact seems to were more ideological, while the others fostered networks and communities from which a lot of terrorist plots emerged.

Al Qa’ida Orchestration

The most successful of those plots was 7/7 bombings finished by four men, a minimum of two of whom were trained by Al-Qa’ida in Waziristan. This plot, like lots of others that were disrupted before and because, involved Britons who have been radicalised partially under the tutelage of the unconventional preacher community, managed to determine connections with Al Qa’ida core and were directed to hold out attacks inside the West. Numerous other plots were disrupted from this network, including the August 2006 plot codenamed ‘Overt’ that aimed to bring down somewhere inside the region of eight flights on transatlantic routes with a possible casualty count higher than the 11 September 2001 attacks.

These plots drew their footsoldiers from the unconventional communities that the united kingdom-based preachers fostered. Recruiters for Al-Qa’ida or other extremists used this space  to search out funding and followers. Going abroad, all these men were initially trying to fight and die on foreign battlefields. However, once there, some were re-directed back to conduct attacks at home as Al-Qa’ida realised their potential as a community that may penetrate deep into Western society. Key individuals like British national Rashid Rauf became the connective tissue providing a link between the senior echelons of Al-Qa’ida and the British recruits, helping them get around Waziristan after which providing managerial control over operations.

Over time, however, this connection has come under increasing scrutiny as  Western intelligence services realised its magnitude and increasingly became ready to intercept its communications, penetrate its structures and take away key players from the sector. This ended in a gentle degradation of the network, though there’s evidence that the community of people wanting to travel to and fro to hunt training continues to exist.

Most recently this connection was seen in a case in Birmingham wherein multiple Britons travelled to Pakistan’s lawless provinces, trained alongside groups on the point of Al-Qa’ida before receiving loose direction to come home to hold out an incident of a few sort. It is a world aside from the Operation Overt cell from 2006 where multiple elements were in repeated contact with masterminds back in Pakistan who had provided specific training and targeting and helped them along the trajectory of the plot. By 2011, the extent of orchestration from afar was much harder to spot with Irfan Naseer – the plot leader of the Birmingham cell – giving little indication of being in regular touch with someone abroad. In a comment overheard by a safety listening device he said that his guidance was more rudimentary than that: ‘they said yeah, the information they gave us, they need that to spread to Europe.’ There has been little evidence offered in the course of the case (or any of the alternative cases associated with the core cell around IrfanNaseer) that anything was being orchestrated from afar. As was commented on the time, the approach appeared to be ‘fire and forget.’

Threat Shifting Overseas

But as groups in Pakistan particularly come under increasing pressure and lose their reach back to the united kingdom, the threat elsewhere abroad have been growing, and the prospective remains for foreign networks to apply the continued flow of British fighters to places like Syria to launch attacks back home. Currently, groups leading the fight in Syria have demonstrated no real interest in launching a terrorist attack within the UK (or anywhere else specifically for that matter – their interest seems involved in toppling Bashar al Assad’s regime), however it is an open question how it will develop at some point.

Beyond foreign battlefields, the net has helped spread radical ideas and made them more accessible. Lone actor terrorism is a singular phenomenon that has shown a capability to precise itself in a random and violent manner. And actions by extremist Islamist groups in Europe have ended in a counter-reaction by extremists at the other end of the spectrum. Now we have evolved, though not entirely passed, from a time when people sought out the community of radical preachers reminiscent of Abu Qatada, and from them were recruited by groups to head and fight abroad.

This evolution has turn up for several reasons. Primary amongst these was the removal of the unconventional preachers (Abu Hamza through jail after which deportation to the usa, Abdulla el Faisal through jail after which deportation to Jamaica, and Omar Bakri Mohammed through a self-imposed exile) and the removal of the open space within which they can operate. Abu Qatada’s departure from Britain for Jordan’s courts marks the realization of a protracted process by successive British governments that sought to expel these figures from the united kingdom. New charismatic leaders and preachers have since emerged, but current legislation signifies that they’re much more circumspect of their comments and openness in actively pushing people to head and fight abroad. Everyone is still drawing ideas from this ideological pool and a few are electing to head and fight abroad, however the direct linkages are actually much more discreet.

The other side to this coin is located in Pakistan where Al-Qa’ida’s ability to direct plots and plotters was substantially degraded. The pressure of drone strikes and a growing western intelligence footprint signifies that key figures like Rauf and diverse other Al-Qa’ida figures had been taken off the battlefield. People that are left are having to supply guidance and coaching in way more constrained environment, and once people have left the camps they’re largely being left to easily get on with trying to perform attacks. The age of enormous-scale orchestrated plots from Pakistan seems to have passed.

Additionally, the emergence of Al-Qa’ida affiliates and battlefields of competing interest has given individuals lots of different locations where they are able to seek to locate the journey and thrill of jihad or play their role in fighting to guard the ‘ummah.’ How these different battlefields will impact the threat picture within the UK is a developing story, but for the time being they don’t pose the identical variety of threat that Al-Qa’ida’s grand plans directed from Pakistan did.

Coming exactly eight years after Al-Qa’ida’s last successful attack at the west, Abu Qatada’s deportation marks the top of an era in British counter-terrorism. But as one era seems to return to an in depth, a brand new one could be being forged on foreign battlefields and the net marking an evolution of an issue many inside the UK may consider removed with Abu Qatada’s departure.

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The Iran Agreement in Geneva: a Limited but Valuable Breakthrough

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 9:43 am

RUSI Analysis, 25 Nov 2013 By Shashank Joshi, Research Fellow

The Geneva Agreement is an artistic, astute piece of diplomacy that puts Iran farther from nuclear weapons at within your budget. However the road to a last settlement is long and rocky.

Javed Zarif Cathy Action Iran Nuclear deal November 24 2013 [European Union photo]

(L to R) British Foreign Secretary William Hague, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry,  24 November 2013 (EU photo)

After a decade of on-off nuclear diplomacy and just over one hundred days of the presidency of Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, a deal have been done between Iran and the E3+3 (the united kingdom, France, Germany plus the usa, Russia, and China; in brief, the Six) in Geneva. Although the deal appears to have come rapidly, it’s clear that the groundwork was laid by a US-Iran backchannel going back to at the very least Rouhani’s inauguration in August, and maybe further.

The deal itself is a modest achievement that doesn’t completely freeze Iran’s nuclear programme, defers the various most challenging issues to subsequent diplomacy to occur over the following six months, and depends upon artful language to bridge differences over the most important point of contention, Iran’s claimed ‘right to enrich’ uranium by itself soil. But it surely is an astute and creative piece of diplomacy, putting Iran objectively and verifiably further clear of any nuclear weapon, imposing curbs that transcend those who were anticipated by most observers, and the entire while leaving essentially the mostsome of the most punitive sanctions entirely in place.  

The Geneva Agreement

The deal (whose reported text is on the market here) has about a important aspects worth determining.

All but a freeze

First, it freezes crucial parts of Iran’s nuclear programme, while rolling back those elements which have been doing most to shorten Iran’s breakout time (the time it will take to supply fissile material for a single nuclear weapon).

Enrichment of uranium to twenty per cent, nine-tenths of ways to weapons-grade, is frozen (including by dismantling ‘technical connections’ between cascades) and stockpiles of uranium enriched to that higher level are to be converted into reactor fuel or diluted to lower levels.

Iran will continue enrichment as much as 5 per cent, but, importantly, has agreed that its stockpile of this lower enriched uranium can not grow over the six month period of the deal: it is going to convert the excess into oxide form, which makes it less readily usable for weapons use. Iran would possibly not install additional centrifuges, must leave a big proportion of installed centrifuges inactive, and can not even manufacture new centrifuges rather then to interchange damaged ones. That is  something it’s to be verified through ‘IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities’ and ‘centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities’, measures that go way past Iran’s formal obligations to the Agency.

Iran’s heavy water reactor at Arak was never going to head operational in the course of the period of this interim deal anyway, however the agreement forbids Iran from transferring fuel or heavy water to the location – from testing or producing fuel, or installing ‘remaining components’ – easing the understandable concerns over how Iran may have used the deal to make progress towards activation of the reactor.

The implications of this are threefold: first, Iran’s breakout time has nearly doubled (from ‘no less than 1-1.6 months to at least 1.9-2.2 months’, consistent with ISIS’ David Albright); second, even the deal’s collapse will leave the West in a closer position than the pre-deal established order; third, the deal guards against Iran ‘buying time’ for 6 months after which, on the end of the negotiating period, installing enrichment capacity that it had built up and held in reserve. This increase in breakout time is very important, and it will be interpreted along side further provisions for ‘enhanced monitoring’ of Iran’s programme and daily access for inspectors (more than today). These upgraded monitoring rights are only a start – as portion of a last deal, Iran must ratify an extra Protocol, which supplies the IAEA wider powers – nonetheless it is a vital element, and one who, as Jeffrey Lewis explains, also modestly decreases the chance that Iran could conceal any secret nuclear facilities besides its declared, safeguarded ones.

In sum: not just wouldn’t it take Iran longer to provide the fissile material for a nuclear weapon, but its likelihood of having caught has also increased. The potential for undetected or unstoppable breakout has therefore diminished greatly. Counting on how the IAEA employed its new powers, the united states and Israel would have around two months after detecting any Iranian attempt at breakout to reply, greater than sufficient time for whatever response they deemed appropriate, including an army one (obviously, for those that believe that the united states would never use force against Iran, breakout times are irrelevant). Had a deal not been done, Iran’s breakout time would have shrunk over this same period to three weeks, long before sanctions compelled it to dismantle its programme.

Sanctions Relief

Second, the deal comes cheaply. Iran is being granted not up to $7 billion of sanctions relief interested by releasing frozen Iranian funds and relief on gold, petrochemical, and automobile sector sanctions. It is a small fraction of the fee being imposed monthly by the punishing oil and banking sanctions that stay firmly in place, including all EU-mandated sanctions. The deal also permits ‘Iran’s current customers to buy their current average amounts of crude oil’, which removes the specter of further export cuts and protects Iranian revenue. But Iran will still be forfeiting over thrice as much in foregone oil revenue because it will gain in relief.

There isn’t any logical explanation why these measures should subsequently weaken the remainder sanctions over the years, since the costs of noncompliance remain as high as ever. There isn’t any sanctions slippery slope. Moreover, if Iran is unwilling to comply with the further curbs and transparency measures of a last deal, new sanctions could greater than offset any gain it made within the six-month interim period.  

Compromise on enrichment

Third, the agreement is phenomenally carefully balanced at the issue of whether Iran is to be granted a ‘right to enrich’, something that Iranian officials had made a deal-breaker. US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted after the deal that ‘we don’t recognise a right to enrich’, whereas his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, declared the alternative.  This disagreement is a function of the language employed within the text:

This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment program with practical limits and transparency measures to make certain the peaceful nature of this system. This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

“The language on this agreement is an intelligent compromise”

Various UN Security Council resolutions have called on Iran to halt enrichment activity, and plenty of have taken the view that Iran should therefore only be granted sanctions relief upon perfect compliance – the so-called ‘zero enrichment’ position. P5+1 officials recognised that this was unrealistic, given the domestic prominence of the difficulty within Iran, but they were wary of agreeing that Iran had what it called an ‘inalienable’ right to enrichment, not least because this can set troubling precedents for civil nuclear cooperation and other cases of potential nuclear proliferation.

The language during this agreement is an intelligent compromise. America can argue that a ‘mutually defined’ programme is one who exists by consent, not by right, and that no such precedent is being sent; Iran can argue that any form of enrichment activity presupposes a right to enrichment, and that its right have been implicit recognised.

Moreover, the usa can claim that Iranian enrichment is just sanctioned under heavy curbs – without which the ‘integrated whole’ is incomplete and no enrichment programme could be ‘defined’ i.e., granted. Iran nonetheless will point to the clause specifying that ‘following successful implementation of the ultimate step of the great solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear program can be treated within the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT’, suggesting that each one limits on enrichment capacity and suchlike will disappear if and when Iran can demonstrate its alleged nuclear weapons work not continues. Here is prone to become some extent of greater contention in final status discussion.

Loopholes

It is understandable that every side will interpret the agreement to fit its own interests, particularly when the problem has domestic political resonance. It was crucial for Iran’s negotiating team that they had been seen to successfully defend Iran’s nuclear rights, not least since the Supreme Leader had emphasised this issue. But this matter can become a source of anxiety if each side is seen to be exploiting loopholes.

When america concluded a handle North Korea last year, it assumed that missile tests were banned. But Pyongyang then conducted a satellite launch, which amounts to an identical thing; even though it were verbally agreed that this will be forbidden, it was never formalised. The diplomacy in Geneva was protracted and painstaking precisely to tie such loopholes up, but in an agreement of such complexity, handling highly complex nuclear issues, more points of friction may emerge through the years. Critics will soon complain that Iran’s missile programme, which was bound up with its alleged pre-2003 weapons programme, has gone unaddressed.

The agreement does specify that ‘a Joint Commission of E3/EU+3 [the Six powers] and Iran may be established to observe the implementation of the near-term measures and address issues that will arise’, however the key test of this commission could be its ability to solve any disputes before they rise, as they might quickly, to the political level. It will become more important than ever that the international community holds Iran to those commitments, on pain of further sanctions, but in addition that the united states upholds its own promises, particularly those concerning its own pause inside the imposition of recent sanctions.

Final status

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Syrian Chemical Weapon Disposal: Confronting the Challenges

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 3:43 pm

RUSI Analysis, 3 Oct 2013

This week, a UN inspection team begins the onerous task of monitoring and dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons stock. A former UN weapons inspector charged with the destruction of Iraq’s stockpiles highlights the challenges ahead.

By Garth Whitty 

Chemical Weapons Inspectors Iraq

The Iraq Inspection Regime

In January 1992, the planning for the destruction of Iraq’s chemical weapons stockpile, bulk chemical warfare [CW] agent, CW agent precursor chemicals and associated infrastructure, including dual use facilities was commenced at UN Headquarters in Manhattan.

A cardboard box contained numerous uncatalogued photographs of weapons and facilities and despite inspection missions having made a variety of trips to CW sites in Iraq, there has been a dearth of information available. This was partly a consequence of the absence of a coherent filing system and partly because information garnered on UN inspection missions instead of being deposited and shared were taken back to inspector countries of origin. The UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) staff included UN staffers and individuals seconded by contributing nations a number of whom were fully committed to the UN objective while others were in place to collect intelligence for his or her nations or to forestall disclosure of the sources of the chemicals, equipment and expertise that had allowed Iraq to acquire a considerable CW capability. 

The following month, the 1st Chemical Destruction Group [CDG] mission to Iraq occurred and despite pre-mobilisation warnings on the contrary, and participant expectations, they didn’t encounter hostility from the Iraqi people nor the extent of obstruction from Iraqi government officials that may were reasonably anticipated.

Then and inside the following months, the operational security environment for those engaged within the work of the CDG was overwhelmingly benign. It’s true that cruise missile strikes in Baghdad, based on failure of the incumbent Ba’athist regime to handover documents or facilitate inspection missions, led to orchestrated ‘popular’ protests against the UN and minor hindrances.  However the CDG was largely unimpeded in its ability to continue with its mission.

Early CDG missions into Iraq included the recovery and field destruction of 122mm rockets that were in such poor condition that many were ‘weeping’ their sarin nerve agent payload. Despite the risk inherent in working with potentially lethal items that during addition to the CW agent included unstable high explosive and rocket fuel, strict operating protocols ensured the protection of the CDG; the greater health hazard being posed by working in temperatures of as much as 55 degrees centigrade while wearing protective respirators and chemical suits.

A visit to the 25 square kilometre Al Muthanna State Establishment for Pesticide Production near town of Samarra – which included production facilities, laboratories, bomb damaged storage bunkers and their chemical weapons content, and CW inventory recovered from other sites – signalled the requirement for an in-country based CDG presence until the duty was completed. While the CDG was taken with chemical weapon destruction, other UNSCOM missions continued to search out further undeclared weapons, facilities and knowledge.

The core elements in attaining success were diplomacy, operating environment and technical ability. Iraq have been defeated militarily, the realm powers stood together of their insistence that every one weapons of mass destruction should be put beyond use; and from the start, Iraqi personnel assigned to the destruction programme accepted the idea that the earlier the destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile was completed, the earlier the CDG and subsequently other UNSCOM personnel would depart.

The security environment was largely benign although the degree of comfort or discomfort experienced by team members was variable and depending on the extent of previous exposure to a potentially hostile or hostile environment. Although this was the primary time this type of programme were undertaken anywhere on this planet, where  none of the team participants had previously been subjected to such high levels of CW contamination and potential health threatening exposure, there has been a wealth of experience and great confidence within the equipment and fellow team members in ensuring individual and collective safety.  

Challenges for Syria

Syria though seriously is not Iraq and there were significant CW protection, detection and destruction technology advances during the last 20 years, which includes the formation of an organisation devoted to the overseeing of a chemical weapons free world, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. However, the Syrian diplomatic and security environments are vastly more complex than those experienced in Iraq. The time-frame for placing all Syrian chemical weapons beyond use can also be significantly truncated when compared with the work of UNSCOM and the successor UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring and Verification Commission) with the work of the Chemical Destruction Group being completed in 1994 however the seek unaccounted items continuing until 2002.  

The scale and origin of the Syrian chemical weapons programme is unclear, but it is cheap to imagine similarities with the Iraqi programme. This could suggest the embracing of chemical weapons by the Syrian Ba’athist government as ‘the poor man’s nuclear bomb’ within the 1970’s with raw materials, equipment and expertise coming from both the Soviet Union and the ‘free world’.

Agents are inclined to include those who attack the nervous system, sarin, VX and tabun, the lethality of in an effort to have reduced in the event that they were stored for long periods, and high grade mustard blister agent with a complete volume of 1000 tonnes having been suggested. chemical weapons precursors including those which can be dual use, folks that will also be used for non-weaponisation purposes, will add to the dimensions of the inventory. The carriers for the weaponised agent usually are predominantly 122mm rockets and 155mm artillery shells and small numbers of Scud missiles.  

It isn’t a considering the fact that when the OPCW goes to the UN Security Council they’ll receive the unanimous support essential to undertake their mission as they might wish and compromise might be dictated. Furthermore, the subtle health and safety regimes developed in the OPCW and externally because the Iraq destruction programme are inclined to shape operational delivery. The liberty of movement enjoyed by UNSCOM and UNMOVIC inspectors seriously is not repeated, and it isn’t clear what leverage the present inspection regime can have. In Iraq the specter of actual military strikes were the final coercion, but this would not be mandated in terms of Syria.   

Although peace negotiation overtures were made, it’s unlikely that peace may have been achieved in the agreed chemical weapons destruction time-frame. After all a peace agreement between the Syrian government and the intense elements of the opposition coalition seems unlikely under any circumstances. It could require the securing of chemical weapons sites or transportation to and concentration at one site under combat conditions.

Logistical Challenge

To do so would necessitate the commitment of a considerable military force, full co-operation of the Syrian government in declaring all sites and inventory; and pose significant logistic challenges. Cross referencing the Syrian government’s declared inventory with what other countries believe Syria possesses can be complicated and time consuming. Mission success can also be eluded if there’s a mismatch between both, or if the Syrians have destroyed weapons on their lonesome initiative, handed them over to sympathetic countries or groups akin to Hizbollah as have been suggested. . It really is probable that are meant to a ‘guard force’ be agreed, nations aren’t queuing to contribute and of these who did some will be blocked by the signatories for political reasons.

In the development these challenges are overcome, the chemical weapons would need to be destroyed on-site at storage facilities, at a central concentration site to which all CW have been transported  outside Syria. The latter option, while potentially the quickest way of denying further use of chemical weapons, would even be one of the most complex commencing with identifying a recipient country acceptable to the parties and willing to receive weapons of mass destruction. In 1992 it took six months to design, build and commission a destruction furnace and a caustic hydrolysis facility. And while there at the moment are portable plant chemical weapons destruction units available, it truly is likely that there’ll be a major delay from the passing of the resolution to commencement of destruction.

The technical elements of the destruction process are a sequence of heterosexual forward steps requiring location, securing, identification, accounting, rendering safe, transportation, disassembly and final disposal. All this while safeguarding the personnel involved, the local population, the national livestock herd and the broader environment.

The diplomatic and security challenges are far greater and undoubtedly there’ll be obstruction, obfuscation, difficulty in attaining the required staffing levels, an absence of consensus. Moreover, though we’d all wish otherwise, there’s the strong possibility that it can be a ‘mission impossible’ after which a return to the UN Security Council would be called for, with the opportunity of the sanctioning of air strikes which set off collateral damage including the discharge of chemical warfare agent into the ambience with a deleterious impact at the health of individuals whether pro or anti-Syrian government.

It can be in the bounds of credibility, in a rustic that has witnessed the overrunning of presidency facilities and members of the govt. forces changing their allegiance in favour of opposition groups (because the Syrian government claims), that the opposition do indeed now hold chemical weapons inventory beyond the reach of inspection and destruction teams. Meanwhile Islamic Jihadists and Christian fundamentalists prepare for Armageddon which consistent with their respective prophesises is centred on Damascus.

In 1992 Garth Whitty, a British Army Bomb Disposal Officer with extensive experience of chemical weapons disposal, was seconded to the UN Special Commission to Iraq and tasked with the establishment of a world team charged with the destruction of Iraq’s chemical weapon stockpile and associated infrastructure.  garthwhitty@yahoo.com 

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Army 2020: Reserves Integration

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 9:02 am

RUSI Newsbrief, 24 Jun 2013 By Sam Evans

The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) sees the British Army delivering a scale, range and duration of military tasks which can not be performed by a discounted regular component alone. In delivering these requirements from a future force of 82,000 regular and 30,000 trained reserve personnel and to be prepared for the challenges of an unpredictable future, the military has needed to adopt a fundamentally new strategy to the way it is structured to satisfy its tasks.

From first principles, the military 2020 project designed a totally integrated force in a position to fulfilling three main roles: contingent capability (for deterrence and defence); UK engagement and homeland resilience; and overseas engagement and capacity building. Most importantly, it concluded that the reserve could not be organised solely to supplement the regular force for giant-scale intervention. This represents a serious shift from the present configuration of the Territorial Army to a model where elements would typically undertake delivery of military outputs, in appropriate roles and readiness, generated and maintained by force elements, including:

  • Capabilities not requiring significant or complex collective training to keep readiness, comparable to sustainment roles in fuel support, transportation and the already well-established provision of medical services
  • Specialist capabilities which it’s not possible, necessary or cost-effective to preserve completely within the regular force structure (as an example, medical, cyber, intelligence and language specialisations)
  • Capabilities for longer-term institutional resilience, providing an important ability to regenerate a bigger army in times of need.

The British Army of 2020 will therefore have a better structural reliance on its reserves; they’ll become an indispensable component to the land force. This represents a fundamental shift within the purpose of the Territorial Army, which, to raised reflect this crucial change in role, is proposed to be renamed the military Reserve.

Recent operations have seen the military deploy some 23,000 reservists primarily as individual augmentees, specialist reserve capabilities (consisting of medics) and, from time to time, sub-units. One day there’ll be a demand to carry formed platoons, squadrons and now and again regiments from the Territorial Army at appropriate readiness, in order that the military can meet the tasks set within the SDSR. To deliver the military 2020 proposition, therefore, the assured availability of those capabilities, sufficiently trained and at a suitable level of readiness, is essential. That’s significantly more demanding than training individuals, particularly when a reservist’s time for training is restricted.

The requirement to routinely generate this level of collective capability represents a huge re-orientation for the Territorial Army and for the military as an entire; delivering the integrated army could be demanding.

The integrated force would be necessary to future success on operations at home and overseas. Delivering this force shall be depending on setting both the physical and conceptual conditions from the outset.

For the military to exist, it must train. This is applicable equally to the reserves, which may only deliver its contribution to the integrated force on a long-lasting basis whether it is trained, equipped and ready similarly to its regular counterpart.

Sustaining this contribution would require the Territorial Army to be routinely given tasks and operational deployments that experience genuine merit, relevance and appeal. Many will see reservists forming an integral section of a typical unit; equally, for less complex tasks, a reserve battalion could form the root of the deployed unit, with its regular partner providing augmentation. Such opportunities can play to a few of the innate strengths of the reserves, comparable to homeland resilience, overseas engagement and capacity building. There’s a natural tension with the standing forces; efficient and effective solutions might want to strike a balance that ensures prospects, professionalisation and opportunity around the force.

Underpinned by the army’s core values, future terms and stipulations of service will make sure the recruitment and retention of high-quality personnel – in line with a suitable balance between liability for and commitment to service – for a reserve that could expect greater routine use. The variety of tasks for which reservists may be mobilised might be better aligned with those in their regular counterparts. The chance of an entire career – balancing a field-focused force with broader prospects of employment around the integrated force – requires a more structured career-management model better exploiting the civilian knowledge, skills and experience of the reservist for the military. A comprehensive individual training and accredited education system might want to develop more appropriate knowledge, both to a reservist’s specific role and for wider employability. Additionally, the army education system for regulars must better understand the reserves as an integral part of the integrated force.

The Army 2020 future training model may even must accommodate the requirement to coach a single force with the time a reservist has, and is resourced, to coach.

Physical integration between reserve and regular units on a largely geographical basis, for training and for deployment on operations as a single force, is a necessary design principle and outcome of Army 2020. Formalised pairing between a customary and a reserve unit often is the important first step that sets the conditions to deliver integrated capability. It’ll facilitate coherent programmes of activity, deliver more efficient and effective training, and make sure better use of finite equipment, infrastructure and administration. It’s going to forge better links to local communities, to employers of reservists and to these leaving the regulars. Establishing the pairing arrangements, together with clarity of roles and locations, provides the conditions for the proper people to be recruited into the precise posts within the right portion of the rustic.

Pairing, and the revitalisation of the reserves, also offers an important opportunity to have interaction differently with the society from which the army recruits and to which it must consistently demonstrate relevance, utility and price.

The army is already conducting a sequence of pilot schemes to check the pairing and integration concepts. These studies may also help to raised define the army’s doctrine for the integrated force.

While noting the importance of a few of the changes required to generate this integrated force, two have to be viewed as fundamental to the successful integration of the reserves into Army 2020.

If the military is to genuinely operate within the fully integrated way envisaged by Army 2020, a cultural shift is needed by all parties – not just around the army, but around the defence establishment and more widely across society. This requires the interests of one or more key parties to be addressed and collectively managed and led. This has to be refrained from placing undue burdens on personnel – prejudicing the army’s outputs for defence and the nation, while continuing to retain the best reputation of the British Army. This would not be easy to reach. There’s the true risk that the myriad of change facing the military over the following couple of years – the top of combat operations in Afghanistan; redundancies of regulars; unit deletions and mergers; withdrawal from Germany; and basing changes – will disenchant and disenfranchise the very people required to deliver it.

The premium for increased reliance at the reserves is that their service ought to be enabled and enduringly supported in a method not previously done, including the availability of support to reservists’ families and employers. Society at large need to be given the means to higher understand, recognise and support this. While the reserves might be small as a proportion of the national workforce, employers must see greater equity of their relationship with the military. Currently, many employers don’t view the proposition as being balanced from their perspective. Benefits, inclusive of accredited skills and bigger predictability of educating and deployments, will go much of ways to re-balancing their view of the British Army’s taking advantage of very tangible and value-effective manpower gains.

The potential reward for achievement is awfully significant. Everyone within the army and wider defence establishment, whether regular or reserve, has a responsibility to make the fully integrated British Army a reality.

Brigadier Sam Evans
Assistant Chief of Staff Reserves, Army Headquarters.

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Rouhani, Obama, and US-Iran Diplomacy: A Nuclear Thaw or a False Start?

Posted on June 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

RUSI Analysis, 1 Oct 2013 By Shashank Joshi, Research Fellow

With the primary signs of a US-Iran thaw, there are great hopes – and great cynicism. Yet while the optimists might be overstating the scope of any deal, the cynics are wrong to dismiss Hasan Rouhani’s rhetoric.

Hasan Rouhani

In the top, there has been no handshake – but there has been a phone call. Iranian President Hasan Rouhani first rebuffed the White House’s offer of a historic meeting with President Barack Obama but, previous to departing the us, initiated a telephone conversation that was thin on substance but rich in symbolism. That decision, in addition to Rouhani’s relentlessly conciliatory tone, has prompted euphoria amongst some, who foresee a geopolitical re-alignment as significant as President Richard Nixon’s opening to China in 1971, and alarm in others, who see Rouhani because the mask behind which the Islamic Republic pursues its unchanged objectives. How should we assess his trip, and the prospects for nuclear and broader diplomacy? Below, I suggest four points that emerge from the past week’s diplomatic drama.

Has Rouhani Checkmated Iran?

First, the notion that Rouhani has ‘checkmated’ Obama – as Fouad Ajami put it  – is untenable. The Obama administration has not just given nothing away, but continues to impose upon Iran the foremost punishing sanctions ever applied to a would-be nuclear proliferator. Iran’s oil exports have more that halved in volume over the last year, inflation is around 60 percent, and over 1 / 4 of Iranian youth are unemployed. The concept Obama is all carrot and no stick is egregiously wrong. On this regard, the chance cost of discussion is negligible.

Is Rouhani All Talk?

Second, some suggest that Rouhani is offering nothing greater than empty words – a ‘smiley campaign’, as Israel’s intelligence minister put it – but no concrete actions. This view is usually mistaken. Rouhani has already freed greater than 80 political prisoners, lots of whom were arrested through the 2009 Green Revolution. The Islamic Republic remains an autocratic regime which holds large numbers of political prisoners and commits grave human rights abuses all the time. However the prisoner release is an indication that Rouhani is willing and ready to at the least partially follow through on pledges he made on his campaign trail.

With respect to the nuclear dispute, Rouhani most crucial action thus far have been to take away the nuclear file from the Supreme National Security Council – that’s more easily influenced by hardliners – and handed it to the more moderate foreign ministry, run by Mohammad Javad Zarif. Western diplomats see Zarif as reasonable and pragmatic, a much cry from previous nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Rouhani couldn’t have changed these arrangements without the approval of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Indeed, the Washington Post’s well-connected columnist David Ignatius reported last week that ‘Western intelligence reports’ confirmed Rouhani’s claim to be ‘fully empowered to finalize the nuclear talks’. Obviously, this claim can only be fully tested on the negotiating table.

Yet additionally it is important to recognise that Rouhani’s supposedly empty rhetoric – his praise for Americans, enthusiasm for dialogue, and exhortations to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to remain out of politics – shouldn’t be without domestic political cost. If this round of diplomacy involves nothing, Rouhani should be severely depleted of political capital and Khamenei will happily let him twist within the wind. Words are never enough to strike a deal, but nor should they be discounted too flippantly. They show that Rouhani is willing to anger domestic constituencies in pursuit of his agenda. That may be a positive sign.

Are the usa and Iran Reconciling or Accommodating?

Third, any deal that transpires may be a nuclear deal. Folks who envision a broader US-Iran rapprochement, including diplomatic normalisation and consensus on security issues around the region (e.g., Iran’s support for Hezbollah, or america military presence inside the Persian Gulf), could be sorely disappointed. The grand bargain that Iran proposed in 2003 is history, and regional events have rendered its terms moot. We must always recognise that Rouhani’s mandate from Khamenei is sort of certainly a circumscribed one.

Of course, any nuclear deal may widen the parameters of the potential and create spill-over effects onto other issue-areas. But this may be incremental and modest. Perhaps the likeliest area for such spill-over is Syria. Some officials – including the French foreign minister – have suggested that a US-Iran dialogue could facilitate Iranian participation in a Syrian peace conference (the so-called Geneva II). To the level that here is so, the method is unlikely to incorporate those most directly answerable for Iranian policy inside Syria i.e., the IRGC.

Is Obama Sacrificing Israeli Interests?

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International Defence Engagement: British and US Experiences

Posted on June 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

RUSI Newsbrief, 24 Jun 2013 By Scott Cline

Defence engagement, a catch-all term for non-operational military activity by which to succeed in influence internationally, is gaining momentum as a core military task for both the U.S. and the united kingdom. The explanation for this is often the will, in an age of fiscal constraint, to derive greater utility from the military: now not can a force simply drill in barracks while awaiting the following conflict. Furthermore, the largest lesson learned in Iraq and Afghanistan is that victory can’t be achieved through brute force alone, with defence engagement increasingly viewed as a prerequisite for understanding all aspects of a conflict. Indeed, by working proactively to deal with the roots of conflict, it’s hoped that this process can obviate the will for costly land campaigns.

To achieve such outcomes, numerous goals for defence engagement has been identified. These include demonstrating commitment to a partner country, establishing enduring relationships with military and political leaders, improving the host country’s ability to address its own internal security, increasing its willingness to take part in friendly coalitions, enhancing mutual understanding, reducing the opportunity of strategic surprise and the likelihood that aggressors miscalculate participating countries’ capabilities, and lengthening responsiveness to crises.

With limited experience to attract upon, whether these goals will be reached is still seen, and could mostly depend upon the extent of investment within the se processes. To this end, in the current fiscal context, the usa and British armies are exploring new ways of executing defence engagement, specifically by using dedicated military units and personnel, and by better aligning military outputs with strategic interests.

To satisfy the increased policy demand for defence engagement, america Army, for instance, has refreshed its Building Partner Capacity doctrine and established Regionally Aligned Forces as section of its force-generation model to support the US’s six Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) – the Africa, Central, European, Southern, Pacific and northerly Commands. Africa Command is the primary GCC to receive a dedicated army brigade, which it can direct in support of its Theater Security Cooperation Plan. Some 140 training events in thirty-four African countries are scheduled in 2013. Future force alignment will involve the alignment of brigades to Europe and the Pacific, of division headquarters to Latin America, North America, Europe and Africa, and of corps headquarters to the Pacific and Middle East. Anticipated activity in 2014 could exceed 5,640 discrete events in 162 countries.

Such engagement is simply not new to america Army. The National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP), for instance, has partnered all fifty US states with sixty-five countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America to conduct training over the process its twenty-two-year history. Though applauded by the GCCs, the SPP has not been without its problems. A 2012 congressional audit found systemic issues of goals and progress measures. Furthermore, the alignment of activity to strategic objectives needs refreshing: of the $7.1 million spent by the GCCs on SPP activity in 2011, $4.46 million was dedicated to Europe while only $225,000 (3 per cent) was directed to Africa.

In addition, america has no plans to habitually align brigades with specific regions, a measure which might contribute greatly to building relationships and extending understanding. The British Army, then again, is examining this sort of possibility.

Indeed, having laid out its International Defence Engagement Strategy alongside the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, in 2013-14 the British Army will conduct a pilot project involving the regional alignment of 1 of its existing brigades, the result of that may determine the way other brigades are utilized in the longer term. Such alignments should not as expansive as those of the united states: brigades can be assigned to particular African regions rather than the whole continent, for instance, potentially making an allowance for more targeted activity.

Yet decisions must still be made as to how long personnel should remain with these units to be able to build enduring relationships. And likewise, there’s the difficulty that these brigades will retain responsibility for standing commitments (for instance, in Cyprus), UK resilience and rotations on longstanding operations, potentially diluting their talk about defence engagement.

Furthermore, while Regionally Aligned Forces may allow the u. s. and UK to accomplish probably the most key goals of defence engagement – including building partner capacity, showing commitment to host states and lengthening responsiveness to crises – they’re unlikely to contribute to all of them. It’s because non-persistent activity, despite the fact that conducted regularly, will at best only achieve familiarisation with the objective regions; building lasting relationships would require greater depth.

Here the British Army has essentially the most ground to hide, with america Army making the most of its Foreign Area Officer (FAO) programme. FAOs are selected after eight to 10 years in service (following company command) after which follow the career stream with specific education and management on the topic of their region (for instance, as embassy attachés, in military equipment sales, as regional desk officers, or as provincial reconstruction team leaders) for the rest of their career. Indeed, in 2005, america Department of Defense (DoD), by now aware of the detrimental effect of the shortage of cultural and regional awareness in Iraq and Afghanistan, directed all services to extend FAO numbers and commenced monitoring the effectiveness of the programme in supporting strategic objectives. Since then, the army’s programme has grown from 1,414 to two,046 officers – a forty five per cent increase – with further growth expected, especially within the GCCs. A key to the programme’s success is the delineation of FAOs and other non-command track jobs within separate career streams, with occupants of those positions boarded separately for promotions with DoD guidance that selection rates must be equal to these for command track officers.

Though the British Army offers quite a number FAO-like positions (including the jobs of defence attaché and regional desk officer), recruitment is just not based upon a holistic view of the necessity for specialized officer development over the long run. Indeed, attaché positions are generally filled by those not selected for higher command posts; this must change. In recognition of this, UK planners are exploring new career structures which may offer similar benefits to the united states model. But for the British Army to draw its best officers into this programme, it must provide specialised training and guarantee promotion at comparable rates to basic arms officers.

Beyond this, the likely success of defence engagement is associated with several key enablers. The primary, and predominant, is that its outputs are associated with strategic interests. Indeed, with funding remaining scarce, it’s essential that both the U.S. and UK ruthlessly justify their engagement in certain activities, eliminating that that is now not relevant and expanding that that is most pertinent. Closely tied to it is the will for activities to manifest within an entire-of-government effort. For instance, if the UK’s long-term goal is to contribute to regional security, military training may be but one portion of the method, with targeted DfID aid, Foreign Office engagement with regional security fora, and Stabilisation Unit efforts to extend ministerial capacity likely also required.

Finally, though upstream conflict prevention is more cost effective than protracted combat operations, it’s still not free. Current UK plans acknowledge this, but state that any budget increases for engagement will come from existing MoD funds, thus potentially coming on the cost of contingent capability. A modest increase of £25 million over the following four years have been allocated to UK defence engagement, but is that this enough? Although defence engagement and war-fighting are complementary, they don’t seem to be fungible, with the chance cost of each dollar or pound spent on overseas flights to undertake training being one less round of ammunition at the training range. And because it’s British and American combat capability that makes other nations like to partner with them, trading this for increased defence engagement defeats the point. Clausewitz’s view that ‘the end for which a soldier is recruited, clothed, armed, and trained … is barely that he should fight on the right place and the fitting time’ remains valid, and the united kingdom especially must proceed cautiously given its already low numbers of dedicated combat troops.

As defence engagement matures, the united states and UK (in addition to the ecu) will inevitably find themselves working within the same places. Occasionally this could be unavoidable, because the goal of such engagement could be to acquire concessions from the partner nation, comparable to overflight rights. At other times, however, when the target is solely that of enhancing the partner’s security capacity, training must be rationalised to stop unnecessary duplication, with participating nations dividing their labour in step with comparative advantage and even melding their training teams together.

Although bilateral deconfliction between the united kingdom and US may well be sufficient within the short term, the possible long-term benefits of using NATO as a defence-engagement clearing house also needs to be explored. First, this might allow the united kingdom to exercise leadership within NATO – a stated policy goal. Second, it’s going to keep NATO countries working together post Afghanistan: the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan has evolved into a good example of firm capacity building and it’d be wasteful to lose this capability. Third, it will probably increase the forces available to undertake defence engagement: with such activity inherently built around small training teams, this may allow nearly every NATO country to take part, despite ever-decreasing force sizes. And eventually, it might optimise the sharing of information across NATO, as a precursor to future operations. NATO remains the popular alliance for the united kingdom and america and the notice gained by all members from defence engagement would only strengthen the Alliance’s utility.

Such optimism, however, has to be moderated and defence engagement ought not be viewed as risk-free. Domestic and regional balances of power are frequently highly unstable and any inputs into such dynamic systems could have unforeseen consequences. The upward push of Japan as an army power between 1859 and the second one World War was an instantaneous results of the learning and kit provided by the united kingdom and France. The alumni folks and British training programmes include such notables as Idi Amin (the despotic former president of Uganda), Amadou Sanogo (leader of the coup in Mali in 2012), and Manuel Noriega (the regional drug lord and previous military governor of Panama, deposed by US troops in 1989). Meanwhile, the upward push of the Taliban is directly associated with the arming of the mujahedeen to accomplish the near-term goal of defeating the Soviet Union in its 1979-89 war in Afghanistan. The history of defence engagement is replete with examples of the so-called ‘law of unintended consequences’.

Such experiences speak to the vital must treat defence engagement not as a brief-fix solution, but as an extended-term process requiring persistence and regularity. Within these parameters, a properly funded and structured army contribution to defence engagement can play a crucial role in shaping and understanding the international environment. The secret’s to prevent pushing the method too far and treating defence engagement as a panacea. While it can help to avoid crises, it’s far, unavoidably, a complementary approach that won’t preclude the necessity to react to contingencies or perform enduring operations when required.
 
Lieutenant Colonel Scott Cline
US Army Strategist (FA59), Exchange Officer to British Army General Staff.

The views expressed listed here are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the Ministry of Defence, the dept of Defense or the other institution with which the writer is associated.

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The Challenges and Opportunities in Developing an Indian Ballistic Missile Defence System

Posted on June 21, 2013 at 10:24 am

RUSI Defence Systems, 19 Sep 2013 By Avnish Patel

China’s aspirations for global power status and its military modernisation programme, in addition to other regional strategic alliances have given India’s missile defence programme greater credence.  Avnish Patel reviews India’s nuclear capabilities

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Sweden’s Defence-Policy Malaise and Why it Matters to Britain

Posted on June 21, 2013 at 10:13 am

RUSI Newsbrief, 24 Jun 2013 By Matthew WillisWhen it involves the viability of a country’s defence policy, there may be nothing unusual about disagreement between the analytical community and the govt.. Seldom, however, are the edges in as thorough disagreement as they’re in Sweden, where a transformation in strategic outlook, an intensive reform programme, a shrinking defence budget and a high operational tempo have all converged. While Defence Minister Karin Enström maintains that Swedish defence is under control, others – in Sweden and beyond – say it’s in meltdown. As is frequently the case, as a matter of fact somewhere in between.

Other countries are watching Sweden closely, especially Finland – its non-aligned neighbour – and the Baltic states, which still look to it for backing in an unpredictable neighbourhood. Britain must be watching too. London has identified the ‘like-minded’ countries of northern Europe as key allies in defence and other areas of policy. Within the broader strategic context of Europe’s dwindling defence capability, it cannot afford to work out a key regional stalwart lose its way.

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