Rezension: „Die Rote Armee: Uniformen, Ausrüstung und Bewaffnung 1939-1945“

von Seka Smith. Seka Smith ist Politikwissenschaftlerin, lebt in Berlin und arbeitet im Politikbereich. Für Offiziere.ch schreibt sie unter Pseudonym.

In den Wirren des russischen Bürgerkrieges gegründet, wurde die Rote Armee (Rabotschi krestjanskaja krasnaja armija) zum bewaffneten Rückgrat der Sowjetunion im Vaterländischen Krieg.

RoteArmee_MotorbuchAm 22. Juni 1941 überschritten 121 deutsche Divisionen auf einer Länge von 2’130 km die Grenze zur Sowjetunion. Drei Heeresgruppen mit einer Stärke von mehr als 3,5 Millionen Soldaten der Achsenmächte, ausgerüstet mit 3’350 Panzern und ca. 2’000 Flugzeugen, wurden für das Unternehmen Barbarossa zusammengezogen. Die Heeresgruppen trafen auf einen unvorbereiteten, von den großen Säuberungen ausgemergelten und taktisch schlecht geführten Gegner. Allein am ersten Kriegstag wurden ca. 1’200 feindliche russische Flugzeuge am Boden zerstört und zig tausende Sowjetsoldaten gingen in Gefangenschaft.

Bis 1942 hatte die deutsche Armee einen erfolgreichen Bewegungskrieg geführt. Die Blitzkriegstrategie, bestehend aus aggressiven Panzer- und Luftwaffenvorstößen sowie großflächigen Umfassungen, hatte ihre Effektivität bereits im Polenfeldzug sowie bei der Eroberung der Benelux-Länder und Frankreichs erfolgreich demonstriert. Der letzte Vorstoß der Wehrmacht endete schließlich mit der Schlacht um Stalingrad. Der Bewegungskrieg hatte sich ab diesem Zeitpunkt für das Deutsche Reich zu einem unaufhaltsamen Rückzugskrieg entwickelt. Vier Jahre nach dem Einmarsch der Achsenmächte auf sowjetisches Territorium und nach vier Jahren erbarmungslosem Kampfes marschierte die Rote Armee in Berlin ein. In der Nacht des 30. April 1945 hisste schließlich Michail P. Minin die Rote Fahne auf dem Reichstag.

Der Vaterländische Krieg ist bis heute ein fester, kultureller Bestandteil des russischen Patriotismus. Ganze Heerscharen von internationalen Historikern befassten sich mit den politischen und militärischen Hintergründen des Deutsch-Sowjetischen Krieges. Unter der Vielzahl von Monographien, Dokumenten, wissenschaftlichen und populären Artikeln und der oftmals politisch gefärbten Erlebnisprosa von einfachen Soldaten und hohen Offizieren hat ein Sachbuch bisher vollkommen gefehlt: eines, das sich detailliert mit der Ausrüstung der sowjetischen Armee im Zweiten Weltkrieg befasst.

Russ_Rekruten

Russische Rekruten auf dem Weg zur Front, 1941 (RIA Novosti archive, image #662733 / Anatoliy Garanin / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Philippe Rio hat diese Lücke mit seinem Buch “Die Rote Armee: Uniformen, Ausrüstung und Bewaffnung 1939-1945” nun geschlossen – und er hat dabei überragende Arbeit geleistet, denn Rio geht ganz tief ins Detail. Nach einer kurzen Einführung in die Historie der Roten Armee seit 1917 beginnt das erste Kapitel dem Leser die militärische Ausbildung, politische Indoktrination und auch Regelungen zum Urlaub, zur Disziplin und zur Truppenverpflegung nahe zu bringen. Im nächsten Abschnitt geht die Detailtreue unvermindert weiter. Eine schier endlose Auswahl an Orden und Medaillen werden dem Leser vorgestellt. Wurden alle Auszeichnungen zu Anfang des Krieges noch spärlich verliehen, wurde die Stawka später mit der Verteilung deutlich großzügiger. Bestimmte Orden konnten nur an hohe Offiziere ausgegeben werden, andere Abzeichen hingegen ehrten gleich eine gesamte Einheit. So wurde beispielsweise der Siegesorden von 1943 bis 1945 nur insgesamt 17 mal verliehen, weil ausschließlich Armee-Befehlshaber ausgezeichnet werden konnten. 392 Offiziere wurden hingegen mit dem Suworow-Orden 1. Klasse geehrt. Den Orden des Vaterländischen Krieges bekamen indessen mehr als eine Millionen sowjetischer Soldaten unterschiedlicher Dienstgrade. Rio behandelt alles sehr ausführlich: seien es die zahlreichen Tapferkeitsorden, unterschiedlichen Feldzugsmedaillen, Dankes- und Ehrenurkunden, Garde-, Erinnerungs- oder Bestenabzeichen.

Insgesamt kann sich der Leser an sechs reich bebilderten und fachkundig erklärten Kapiteln erfreuen. Rio behandelt nicht nur den Bürger in Waffen, sondern neben den Abzeichen der Roten Armee auch umfassend die verschiedenen Bekleidungsstücke, Ausrüstungsgegenstände sowie die Bewaffnung des sowjetischen Soldaten. Der Autor ist so detailverliebt, im positiven Sinne, dass er ebenfalls die unterschiedlichen Waffenfarben der Infanterie, Artillerie, Panzereinheiten, Luftstreitkräfte, Kavallerie, Pioniere, Technischen Truppen, des Sanitätswesens, des NKWD, der Grenztruppen und der Milizen aufschlüsselt und nach Kragenplatten der Offiziere, Unteroffiziere und Mannschaften, Schiffchenbesätze, Besatzstreifen der Schirmmütze und des Mützenbesatzes in mehreren Tabellen farblich sortiert.

Der Detailgrad des Buches ist durchweg atemberaubend. Selbst die Uniformknöpfe erhalten eine eigene Seite im Buch und wir erfahren, dass es 15 verschiedene Blusenknöpfe im Durchmesser von 16 mm, fünf in 18 mm und zwei in 22 mm gab. Die verschiedenen Knöpfe für die See-, Luft- und Heerestruppen sowie die Sonderanfertigungen für Generäle und Marschälle nicht mit eingerechnet.

Ausbildung von russischen Rekruten, 1941 (RIA Novosti archive, image #640806 / Anatoliy Garanin / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Ausbildung von russischen Rekruten, 1941 (RIA Novosti archive, image #640806 / Anatoliy Garanin / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Blättert man durch das bildgewaltige Buch, blickt man erstaunt auf die Fleißarbeit des Autors, die auf jeder Seite nur zu deutlich zu Tage tritt. Jedes nur erdenkliche Detail von verschiedenen Ausrüstungsgegenständen, wie die Zeitvorgaben zur Erneuerung von Bekleidung und Ausrüstung, das Dutzend unterschiedlicher Leibriemen und Patronentaschen usw., wird auf 176 reich bebilderten Seiten beschrieben.

Ganz besonders interessant ist das sechste Kapitel des Buches. Moderne und großformatige Fotografien zeigen auf 67 Seiten die Bekleidung und Ausrüstung der sowjetischen Soldaten seit 1941 bis 1945. So bspw. die eines Mladschi Serschant der 8. Schützendivision (1941), eines Krasnoarmejez vom 5. Strafbataillon (1942) oder eines Desantik der 1. Garde-Luftlandedivision, der im August 1945 in der Mandschurei gegen die Japaner eingesetzt wurde.

Fazit
Das Buch ermöglicht mit 677 Farbbildern und 213 weiteren s/w-Fotos einen überaus vielfältigen Überblick über die Rote Armee und seine Soldaten. In keinem anderen Sachbuch wird der sowjetische Soldat und seine Ausrüstung so umfassend porträtiert und präsentiert. Das Buch “Die Rote Armee: Uniformen, Ausrüstung und Bewaffnung 1939-1945” ist ein Standardwerk zur sowjetischen Heeresuniformierung. Es wird lange dauern bis ein anderes Werk dieser Qualität erscheint, dass dem Buch von Rio den Rang ablaufen kann.

Rio, Philippe (2013): Die Rote Armee: Uniformen, Ausrüstung und Bewaffnung 1939-1945. Motorbuch Verlag. Preis: 29,90 Euro. 176 Seiten.

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To the Bitter End? Mediation in the Eritrean-Ethiopian Conflict

by Paul Pryce. Paul Pryce is a Junior Research Fellow at the Atlantic Council of Canada. With degrees in political science from universities on both sides of the pond, he has previously worked in conflict resolution as a Research Fellow with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and as an infantryman in the Canadian Forces. His current research interests include African security issues and NATO-Russia relations.

Ethiopian and Eritrean border conflict.

Ethiopian and Eritrean border conflict.

A seemingly intractable state of conflict has endured between Eritrea and Ethiopia for decades. These tensions find their roots in the Eritrean War of Independence in 1961, and in 1998 the conflict culminated in the bloody and costly Eritrean-Ethiopian War. Although a peace agreement was struck between the two parties in 2000, the prospects for renewed conflict remain high. In order to better understand why the conflict has yet to be successfully resolved or managed, it will be necessary to examine the history of Eritrean-Ethiopian clashes while attempting to answer a number of relevant questions. Does the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict qualify as a protracted or intractable conflict according to prevalent academic definitions? Can a lasting resolution to the conflict be found and what form might that resolution take?

Pursuing answers to these questions is vital to the security of the broader East African region. As Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld note in their empirical study of protracted conflicts, crises and incidents are considerably more likely to escalate into open warfare the longer resentments simmer. If Eritrean-Ethiopian tensions meet the definition of a protracted conflict, then this can only add to the urgency of its resolution.

As indicated previously, the conflict between the two parties began with the Eritrean War of Independence in 1961. As European colonial rule came to an end in East Africa, it was proposed that Eritrea be annexed by Ethiopia while British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland would be united to form Somalia. Objecting to the Ethiopian annexation, a number of Eritrean rebel groups formed the umbrella Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and began what was at first a low-intensity guerrilla campaign intended to compel the withdrawal of Ethiopian military forces and the recognition of an independent Eritrea.

An old tank from the Ethiopia-Eritrea war lies abandoned near the Eritrean border (Photo: Mark Haldane).

An old tank from the Ethiopia-Eritrea war lies abandoned near the Eritrean border (Photo: Mark Haldane).

However, the secessionist struggle soon escalated. By the time a peace agreement was reached in 1991, after nearly 30 years of war, it is estimated that approximately 60,000 Eritreans and a similar number of Ethiopians were killed as a direct result of combat operations. In addition, 2.3 million people were displaced by the fighting. It was the collapse of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s regime in Ethiopia in 1991 that finally created an opportunity for an external actor to foster a resolution to the 30 year conflict with Eritrea. In May 1991, the United States began to facilitate peace talks between the Ethiopian authorities and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF). A high-level delegation from the US followed up on these efforts when it arrived in Addis Ababa for a conference in July 1991. Primarily concerned with setting up a transitional government in Ethiopia, this delegation also convinced both sides of the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict to agree to a ceasefire and a timetable for an independence referendum in Eritrea (Ruth Iyob, “The Eritrean Struggle for Independence: Domination, Resistance, Nationalism 1941-1993“, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 175).

As per the July 1991 agreement, a provisional commission was formed to hold the referendum. The vote itself took place in April 1993, in which a reported 99.8% of ballots cast were in favour of Eritrean independence (cf.: Richard Dowden, “Eritrea’s referendum turns into a joyful party: Much of the country is in ruins, but Richard Dowden found the people in buoyant mood“, The Independent, 26.04.1993). However, soon after gaining its independence, Eritrea laid claim to the Badme district of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, which the Ethiopian authorities were reluctant to cede. On 6 May 1998, Eritrea abandoned the bilateral talks and deployed a large force of mechanized infantry, mounting an attempt to seize Badme by force. The Ethiopian military soon deployed to counter the Eritrean advance, and the conflict escalated from there until a ceasefire was declared on 25 May 2000. The two states subsequently signed the Algiers Agreement on 12 December 2000.

This dispute, known as the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, has been referred to by Eritrean officials as a “total war”. This demonstrates the power disparity between the two parties. By the end of the war, Ethiopia fielded an army of 450,000 troops, comprising barely 2% of the total population, while Eritrea fielded an army of 350,000, accounting for one-third of all able-bodied adult males in the country. The fighting itself was largely characterised by trench warfare. Eritrean forces sought to establish fixed, defensible positions which the Ethiopians would either attempt to outmanoeuvre or overwhelm by sheer force of arms. Some authors have gone so far as to describe the Eritrean-Ethiopian War as a “World War I-style” conflict.

As previously mentioned, the Algiers Agreement saw an end to hostilities in 2000. Yet, once more the peace between these two states proved to be only temporary. As per the terms of the agreement, a judicial body was formed in The Hague, known as the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), which ruled that Eritrea had commenced hostilities but that Ethiopia must accept a demarcation line that would see Badme ceded to Eritrea. Ethiopia has rejected the EEBC’s findings on the status of Badme and continues to occupy the disputed territory as of this writing.

Eritrean soldiers march during the country's Independence Day in Asmara in May, 2007. One of Africa's smallest nations has one of the largest armies in the region. But this is due to national service that continues for many years, sometimes indefinitely for both men and women.

Eritrean soldiers march during the country’s Independence Day in Asmara in May, 2007. One of Africa’s smallest nations has one of the largest armies in the region. But this is due to national service that continues for many years, sometimes indefinitely for both men and women (see also Human Rights Watch, “Service for Life: State Repression and Indefinite Conscription in Eritrea“, April 2009.

As this brief account of the conflict has demonstrated, the fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia meets Brecher and Wilkenfeld’s definition of a protracted conflict. It has a long duration, having begun in 1961 and continued with few interruptions. There is also a significant power disparity between the parties to the conflict; Ethiopia has demonstrated its capacity to hold onto Badme even against Eritrea’s mass mobilisation. Finally, there is a demonstrated frequency of high intensity clashes in the Eritrean-Ethiopian case, with at least 250,000 dead and many more displaced by the series of wars. Therefore, the ongoing tensions between these two states should be regarded as part of a protracted conflict

Given this status, conflict management efforts should be tailored accordingly. Where conflict is protracted, it is less likely that the parties to that conflict will be able to successfully resolve the conflict bilaterally and through traditional means. In such circumstances, alternative forms of conflict management are needed, such as mediation, which allows the parties to a conflict to retain their agency but also gain international guarantors for the process of negotiating a lasting resolution to the dispute.

Previously, third party arbitration has been the option of first resort in the pursuit of a resolution to hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Algiers Agreement to which both parties consented in 2000 was based almost entirely on a settlement proposal made jointly by the US and Rwanda roughly a week after the start of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War in May 1998. As in the original proposal, the Algiers Agreement designated a Boundary Commission as an arbitrator that would produce a decision binding for both parties. Ethiopia was also in the midst of a regime change and was hardly capable of agency in the negotiation process. Therefore, it would be more accurate to describe the 1991 talks that resulted in the Eritrean independence referendum as a hybrid mediation-arbitration.

Jacob Bercovitch and Scott Sigmund Gartner identify three fundamental mediation strategies: communication-facilitation, procedural, and directive (Jacob Bercovitch and Scott Sigmund Gartner, “International Conflict Mediation: New Approaches and Findings“, Routledge, 2009, p. 41). In the former two cases, the mediator adopts a decidedly more consultative approach, largely serving as an intermediary between the aggrieved parties while leaving the substance of any agreement to those directly engaged in the conflict. However, a directive strategy is a stronger form of intervention, in which the mediator may actively contribute to the search for common ground by proposing terms.

Dutch marines who are part of the peacekeeping mission UNMEE (2000-2008) take a look at the first discoveries of Ethiopian deminers.

Dutch marines who are part of the peacekeeping mission UNMEE (2000-2008) take a look at the first discoveries of Ethiopian deminers.

Given the active role of the US in negotiating settlements to the Eritrean War of Independence and the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, it may seem intuitive that it should continue as a mediator. However, it is doubtful that the US could exercise much influence over Eritrea at this stage; in August 2009, the US accused Eritrean authorities of supporting al-Shabaab. This accusation is vehemently denied by the Eritrean government. Under such conditions, it is doubtful that Eritrea would view the US as an impartial mediator.

With the US, African Union (AU), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) vulnerable to accusations of bias in the conflict, it may seem that there are no viable actors to assume the role of an impartial mediator in the dispute. However, the European Union (EU) may be well-positioned to convince both parties to comply with the terms of the Algiers Agreement. While regional actors and the US have pursued sanctions against Eritrea, the EU designated €122 million (US$ 157 million) in aid for 2009-2013 to promote food security, rural development, and good governance in Eritrea. Furthermore, in 2011, the EU was Ethiopia’s largest trading partner, accounting for 17.9% of all foreign trade with the country.

However, the current approach of the EU toward the Horn of Africa is not helpful. As of 1 January 2012, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has been supported by a Special Representative for the Horn of Africa. The mandate of this EU Special Representative (EUSR) encompasses Eritrea and Ethiopia, as well as Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda, though both decisions of the Council of the European Union pertaining to this EUSR focus primarily on Somalia. In fact, the original impetus for appointing an EUSR for the Horn of Africa was the need to better coordinate activities between the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and the EU’s own presence in the country – namely the EU Training Mission Somalia (EUTM Somalia), the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), and the EU Mission on Regional Maritime Capacity Building in the Horn of Africa (EUCAP NESTOR). The only reference to the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict in the EUSR’s mandate is the obligation to “follow political developments in the region […] including in relation to the Ethiopia-Eritrea border issue and implementation of the Algiers Agreement”.

A solution to this approach may be for the Commission to appoint an EU Special Envoy to Eritrea and Ethiopia as part of the European External Action Service, much like the current EU Special Envoy to Somalia. This Special Envoy would actively work to pursue a resolution to the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict through mediation, coordinating with the EUSR for the Horn of Africa in order to maximise the effectiveness of conflict management efforts in the region.

As has been demonstrated here, the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict qualifies as intractable, but there are opportunities to produce a lasting resolution. The Algiers Agreement is an existing basis, and an impartial third party could ensure the implementation of the terms reached in this agreement.

While US foreign policy toward the Horn of Africa has undermined its credibility as a potential mediator, the EU is uniquely positioned to pursue a directive strategy toward mediation. However, in order to ensure that EU mediation is successful and consistent, it is imperative that an EU Special Envoy to Eritrea and Ethiopia be appointed as soon as possible. As has been discussed here, the current mandate of the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa attaches such extensive responsibility for Somalia that the supplementary efforts of a Special Envoy for Eritrea and Ethiopia is evidently much needed.

More Information
‘Africa’s North Korea’: Why do people flee Eritrea?“, Channel 4, 28.08.2015.

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Military Ramp at Abu Dhabi International Is Operational

DG (08JUL15) Abu Dhabi International

DG (08JUL15) Abu Dhabi International

Over the last decade, the UAE has improved its transport capabilities with the acquisition of some of America’s best strategic and tactical aircraft.

The latest satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe shows a new operational military ramp dedicated to the country’s transport aircraft located on the north-eastern side of Abu Dhabi International.

The Directorate of Military Works Abu Dhabi commissioned the Dorsch Gruppe to construct the approximate 260,000 square meter apron, a parallel taxiway and maintenance hangar. According to work previously posted on the Dorsch Gruppe website, the hangar was built to support the C-17 and A330 MRTT — the latter imagery currently shows based at Al Ain. [1]

Space snapshots from July 2015 show seven Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, two Lockheed C-130 (one H variant, one J variant), 2 Casa CN-235 light transport and a DHC-6 Twin Otter. Previous imagery has shown up to five of the CN-235 and up to four C-130s parked on the apron.

Beyond transport, the Twin Otter is often associated with the UAE’s special forces Group 18 out of Sas al Nakhil. Along with the Air Force’s Cessna 208, the DHC-6 is used for reconnaissance missions.

In total, the UAE Air Force has six Globemaster III in its inventory which suggests the 7th pictured above is from one of the country’s allies. Currently, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. routinely use the platform to ferry troops and supplies back and forth to regional conflicts.

In February, the UAE announced the order of two more C-17 which will bring their total inventory to 8. The order comes as Boeing plans to close the C-17 assembly by the end of the year (cf.: Andrew Edwards, “Boeing has only one C-17 Globemaster II left to sell“, Press-Telegram, 17.06.2015).

In the meantime, deployments to the new area started in early 2015 — though major construction which began between late 2011 to early 2012, was already complete by 2013.

Note
[1] In 2013, the Dorsch Gruppe removed all work related to the UAE’s military from their website. The UAE is the company’s largest Middle East customer.

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Aufgeschnappt: Wann greifen endlich die Europäer ein?

Salhin sagt, es müsse jetzt bald eine Lösung geben. Nur eine zweite westliche Intervention könne uns retten. Der Westen müsse endlich auch unsere Vorstellungen berücksichtigen, sagt Ashour, falls sie kommen, müssten sie dauerhaft in Libyen bleiben und das Land von Grund auf reformieren. Nizar widerspricht: “Wir können uns nur selbst retten.”
“Die Europäer müssen irgendwann eingreifen,” argumentiere ich, “sonst steht das Tor nach Afrika Richtung Europa offen.” “Worauf warten sie dann?,” fragt Said Ahmed. “Darauf, dass wir alle tot sind?” — Farrah Schennib, “Eine Stadt unter dem IS-Terrorregime: Tagebuch aus dem Fegefeuer“, Eintrag vom Donnerstag, 4. Juni 2015.

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Das Phantom von Ouagadougou

von Peter Dörrie

Burkina Fasos Militär hat eine lange und nicht gerade ruhmreiche Geschichte der Einmischung in die politischen Angelegenheiten des westafrikanischen Landes. Mit der Ausnahme von Burkina Fasos erstem Präsidenten, Maurice Yaméogo, waren alle acht Staatsoberhäupter seit der Unabhängigkeit 1960 entweder selbst Armeeoffiziere, oder wurden von den Streitkräften ins Amt gebracht.

Paradebeispiel für diese besondere Spezies uniformierter Politiker ist Blaise Compaoré. Zweimal hat er eine Regierung weg geputscht: 1983, um den charismatischen Sozialisten, Freund und Waffenbruder Thomas Sankara an die Macht zu holen und dann nur wenige Jahre später, 1987, um sich selbst zum Präsidenten zu krönen.

Burkinabe soldiers of the 25th Regiment Parachutist Commando Counterterrorism Company learn reflexive firing techniques from trainers from U.S. Army Africa’s Regionally Aligned Force, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in May 2014. Classroom and field exercised were featured during train and equip events. <a href=

USARAF and Special Operations Command Africa worked together to support the event that is part of the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, known as TSCP (Photo: U.S. Army Africa).” width=”640″ height=”190″ class=”size-full wp-image-22746″ /> Burkinabe soldiers of the 25th Regiment Parachutist Commando Counterterrorism Company learn reflexive firing techniques from trainers from U.S. Army Africa’s Regionally Aligned Force, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in May 2014. Classroom and field exercised were featured during train and equip events. USARAF and Special Operations Command Africa worked together to support the event that is part of the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, known as TSCP (Photo: U.S. Army Africa).

27 Jahre blieb Compaoré an der Macht, bis ihn ein Volksaufstand im Oktober 2014 davon fegte. Wieder spielte dabei die Armee eine entscheidende Rolle. Die Demonstranten verlangten zu einem großen Teil nur den Verzicht Compaorés auf eine weitere Amtszeit, so wie es die Verfassung Burkina Fasos vorsieht. Doch die Militärführung fürchtete eine Eskalation und zwang Compaoré zum vorzeitigen Amtsverzicht und ins Exil. Bizarre interne Machtkämpfe blieben dabei nicht aus.

Zuerst erklärte sich Generalstabschef General Honoré Nabéré Traoré zum Interimspräsidenten im Nachgang zu Campaorés Rücktritt. Doch nur wenige Stunden später beanspruchte ein anderer Offizier, Oberstleutnant Yacouba Isaac Zida, stellvertretender Kommandeur der Präsidialgarde, den selben Posten. Trotz des offensichtlichen Unterschied im militärischen Rang konnte sich Zida am Ende durchsetzen und die militärische Führungsspitze, inklusive Traoré, erklärte am 1. November Zida zum Staatsoberhaupt.

“Es gab ein Kräftemessen,” erklärt Jean Baptiste Natama, ehemaliger Verteidigungsminister sowohl unter Sankara, als auch unter Compaoré und Präsidentschaftskandidat bei den kommenden Wahlen gegenüber Offiziere.ch die Vorgänge. “Die Seite mit dem besseren Equipment hat gewonnen.”

Palais Kossyam, official residence of the President of Burkina Faso.

Palais Kossyam, official residence of the President of Burkina Faso.

Zida musste unter dem Druck der Afrikanischen Union selbst einige Tage später weichen. Zusammen mit Vertretern politischer Parteien, der Zivilgesellschaft und Burkina Fasos traditioneller Könige einigte sich das Militär auf Michel Kafando als Übergangspräsidenten. Zida wurde unter dem ehemaligen UN-Botschafter Premierminister und die Interimsregierung bekam den Auftrag, bis zum kommenden Oktober Wahlen zu organisieren. Die wichtigsten Ministerien gingen an Vertreter des Militärs, wobei diese, genau wie Zida, offiziell den Dienst quittierten.

Seitdem befindet sich Burkina Faso in einer Art politischem Leerlauf. Präsidentschafts- und Parlamentswahlen sind für den 11. Oktober angesetzt. Und bis dahin scheint vielen Beobachtern ein erneuter Staatsstreich die größte Gefahr, die den Demokratisierungsprozess des Landes um Monate, wenn nicht Jahre, zurückwerfen könnte.

Insbesondere die Präsidialgarde, im Land unter ihrem französischen Akronym RSP bekannt, gibt dabei immer wieder Anlass zur Sorge. Das bestätigten Politiker, Journalisten, Analysten und Bürger gegenüber Offiziere.ch bei einem Aufenthalt des Autors Anfang August in Ouagadougou.

Das RSP ist, wie in vielen afrikanischen Ländern üblich, kein Teil der regulären Streitkräfte und deren Befehlskette. Stattdessen ist diese Elitetruppe direkt dem Präsidenten unterstellt, für dessen Sicherheit sie verantwortlich ist. Unter Compaoré wurde das RSP seine persönliche Miliz und privater Geheimdienst. Mit der Gefahr eines Putsches durch das Militär bestens vertraut, baute Compaoré die 1’500 Mann starke Einheit gezielt als Gegengewicht auf. Die Truppe bekam stets die beste Ausrüstung und die beste Ausbildung, während eine hervorragende Bezahlung und andere Vorzüge die Treue zum Präsidenten sichern sollte.

In den fast drei Jahrzehnten seiner Herrschaft wurde das RSP zum gefürchteten und verhassten Akteur der burkinischen Politik. Verantwortlich für den Tod mehrerer Regimegegner, war die Einheit auch am größten Skandal von Compaorés Amtszeit direkt beteiligt.

1998 wurden die kugeldurchsiebten und verbrannten Körper von Norbert Zongo, seinem Bruder und zwei Bekannten in Zongos Auto aufgefunden. Zongos Ermordung, von der Regierung zuerst als “Unfall” beschrieben, kam nachdem der investigative Journalist Recherchen zum Tod eines Chauffeurs von Blaise Compaorés jüngerem Bruder François begonnen hatte.

Die Hinrichtung Zongos führte zu den ersten Massenprotesten und der ersten Krise in Compaorés Herrschaft. Eine unter Druck der Straße eingesetzte Sonderkommission kam zu dem Ergebnis, dass mehrere Angehörige des RSP sowohl für den Tod des Chauffeurs, als auch Zongos und seiner Begleiter verantwortlich zeichneten. Es kam zu mehreren Anklagen, doch wurden die Verfahren entweder eingestellt, oder die angeklagten Soldaten freigesprochen.

Im Angesicht der massiven Proteste im Oktober 2014 hat das RSP Compaoré schließlich doch fallen gelassen. Ihre Privilegien wollen sich die Soldaten allerdings nicht so einfach nehmen lassen. Als Premierminister Zida auf öffentlichen Druck hin im Juni die Auflösung der Einheit ins Spiel brachte, drohten Offiziere des RSP offen mit einem Putsch gegen die Übergangsregierung. Diese stürzte daraufhin in eine politische Krise und stellte praktisch alle politischen Reformbemühungen bis zum Amtsantritt einer neuen Regierung zurück.

Gegenüber Offiziere.ch brachten verschiedene Quellen ihre Überzeugung zum Ausdruck, dass dem RSP primär am Erhalt ihrer hervorgehobenen sozialen Stellung, Straffreiheit für vergangene Verbrechen und ihrem finanziellen Wohlergehen gelegen ist. Und bis jetzt konnten die Elitesoldaten erfolgreich den Rest des Landes mit lautem Säbelrasseln bei der Kandare halten. Objektiv gesehen ist das jedoch eher das Ergebnis erfolgreicher Kriegspsychologie, als tatsächlicher Kräfteverhältnisse.

“Ich kann über [die Putschdrohungen des RSP] nur lachen,” sagt etwa Ralf Wittek. Der ehemalige deutsche Bundeswehroffizier ist heute Projektleiter für die CSU-nahe Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung, die in Westafrika in mehreren Ländern Projekte zur Reform des Sicherheitssektors durchführt.

Protesters pose with a police shield outside the parliament in Ouagadougou on October 30, 2014 as cars and documents burn outside (Photo: Issouf Sanogo).

Protesters pose with a police shield outside the parliament in Ouagadougou on October 30, 2014 as cars and documents burn outside (Photo: Issouf Sanogo).

“Diese Präsidentengarde hat realistischerweise 1’500 Mann. Das ist eine selbständige Einheit. Wenn sie eine selbständige Einheit von 1’500 Mann nehmen, dann kommen Sie maximal auf eine kämpfende, gut ausgebildete Einsatztruppe von vielleicht 500 Mann. Der Rest ist Logistik, Kommunikation, Transport. Und das ganze Land zittert vor dieser Präsidentengarde. Wie kann ein Land vor 500, auch gut ausgebildeten, Kämpfern zittern? Das ist völlig unrealistisch. Versuchen Sie doch mal mit 500 Soldaten, auch wenn sie gut geführt und ausgebildet sind, ein Land zu kontrollieren. Das ist doch völlig irre. Das kann gar nicht funktionieren.”

Angesichts der Tatsache, dass während der Revolution im vergangenen Oktober mehr als eine Millionen Menschen in Ouagadougou auf der Straße waren, habe das RSP keine Aussicht darauf, den Staat unter seine Kontrolle zu bringen, so Wittek.

Um den Einfluss des RSPs auf die burkinische Politik in Zukunft zu verringern, sollten die Verantwortlichen einen Deal machen, ist Witteks Meinung: “Wenn es uns gelingt den Jungs klarzumachen, pass mal auf, ihr werdet auch weiterhin eine Sonderrolle spielen, im Sinne von Eliteeinheit für Auslandseinsätze, UNO-Einsätze oder Peacekeeping. Ihr werdet auch einen Teil eurer Privilegien erhalten, aber ihr integriert euch bitte in den gesamten Sicherheitsapparat. Auf dieser Basis kann man mit den Jungs sicher reden, aber das hat bisher keiner gemacht.”

Die reguläre Armee ist aus Witteks Sicht eine mehr oder weniger kohärente Einheit, ohne größere politische Ambitionen. Sie sei von Compaoré systematisch geschwächt worden, sowohl im Sinne militärischer Kapazität, als auch im sozialen Ansehen. Nach einer Meuterei im Jahr 2011 habe Compaoré sogar alle Munition aus regulären Armeeeinheiten abziehen lassen.

Trotzdem kann auch die Putschdrohung einer militärischen Randgruppe Drohpotenzial aufbauen, besonders in Westafrika. 2012 eskalierte eine Demonstration meuternder Soldaten in Mali zu einem spontanen Putsch. Dieser führte zu einem Kollaps der Regierung und den Verlust des gesamten Nordteil des Landes an Tuaregs und islamistische Rebellen. Bis heute hat sich Mali nicht von diesem Schock erholt. Und in Guinea konnte sich 2008 nach dem Tod von Präsident Lansana Conté Hauptmann Moussa Dadis Camara aich an die Macht putschen, obwohl er nur geringen Rückhalt in den Streitkräften genoss. Camara profitierte dabei von Verwirrung und Streit innerhalb der politischen Klasse und der Armeeführung. Unter seiner Herrschaft kam es zu extremen Menschenrechtsverletzungen, darunter einer Massenvergewaltigung durch ihm treue Soldaten. Erst ein gescheitertes Attentat, bei dem er lebensgefährlich verletzt wurde zwang ihn ins Exil – ausgerechnet nach Burkina Faso.

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The U.S. Navy and Presidential Campaigns: Size Matters

by Brett Davis. He is a U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer, who also runs the blog ClearedHot and occasionally navigates Twitter. Brett holds an M.A. in International Relations from Northeastern University. His opinions are his own and do not represent the views of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) are pierside at Naval Air Station North Island while conducting a hull-swap. The force structure change allows George Washington to undergo its mid-life refueling complex overhaul and Ronald Reagan to support the security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young, August 18, 2015).

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) are pierside at Naval Air Station North Island while conducting a hull-swap. The force structure change allows George Washington to undergo its mid-life refueling complex overhaul and Ronald Reagan to support the security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young, August 18, 2015).

Another Presidential election cycle is upon U.S. citizens, and the chorus of inputs regarding national security and naval policy has already started. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Dr. Ben Carson, and former governor Mike Huckabee all advocated for an increase in naval assets as part of their potential national security strategy. And, as expected, critics point out the perceived uselessness of a large Navy. To summarize using the words of the current U.S. Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, “we also have less horses and bayonets […] It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s ‘What are our capabilities?'”. However, these arguments miss the point entirely. A larger Navy is necessary to reduce the strain on already overworked assets and maintain presence around the world.

A common critical reply to the call for more ships falls in the capability category. Many critics point to technologically advanced weapons systems in today’s fleet, able to fight their way through any battle and emerge victorious. With hundreds of missile tubes, embarked helicopters, deck guns, and the like, all the U.S. have to do is to top-load the current fleet with the latest and greatest weapons systems and America’s Navy is ready for war. Not even close.

With regard to weapons systems, the U.S. Navy fields some of the world’s most outdated equipment and is being outpaced by its potential enemies. Outgoing Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert recently predicted a shortfall in weapons systems in just five years – including torpedoes and several types of missiles. Also, the U.S. Navy fields one of the oldest and irrelevant anti-ship missiles in service, the Harpoon. It’s limited range and antiquated guidance system pales in comparison to Chinese “carrier killer missiles” (Dong-Feng 21D) and several fielded by Iranian forces.

Of course, it all comes down to size: “The U.S. Navy is bigger than the next 13 navies combined! Why do we need more if we’re already the largest in the world by such a big margin?” This argument is flawed in several ways. For one, the naval size argument is based on gross tonnage; China’s navy is more numerous than the U.S. Navy, but with smaller and lighter ships. Also, most navies lack a requirement to defend national interests around the world like the United States, and their ships are not built for ocean transits or strong sea states that accompany these deployments. A large number of them are tasked with defending their nations’ littoral areas and coastlines – so there is no requirement for worldwide deployments and large numbers of heavy ships. The rest of the world may have smaller, lighter fleets, but they are built for different purposes than the U.S. Navy.

bg-defense-spending-fy-2016-chart-2-825

The bottom line, however, is this: The Navy is stretched entirely too thin. The current fleet of roughly 285 ships conducts constant deployments to the South China Sea, Middle East, and Mediterranean. Deployments have already been extended for most Carrier Strike Group elements well beyond the normal 6-7 months, and extended and accelerated deployments put an added material strain on ships in desperate need of maintenance. Sequestration already forced the cancellation of two dozen ship availabilities, and these units continued to operate without the required upkeep. Advanced weaponry is definitely cool, but it doesn’t matter much when your unit is too broken to stay on station and use those weapons.

The Navy’s first responders, forward deployed forces in Japan, Europe, and the Middle East, fare the worst. Due to their high operational tempo in volatile regions, maintenance and upkeep are regularly pushed aside in order to add maritime security patrols. With limited numbers of ships in these locations, large numbers of ships with maintenance problems will create a gap in patrols in these locations – there is already a two month gap in aircraft carrier deployment in the Persian Gulf, severely hampering air operations against the terrorist organisation “Islamic State“. If forward deployed vessels in strategically vital areas are allowed to deploy until breakdown, what are the chances for the rest of the fleet?

“Doing more with less” is a shortsighted strategy that will only work in the short term. Very soon, the Navy will be forced to do less with less when skipped maintenance availabilities and rapid repeat deployments render the fleet non-mission capable due to degraded material condition. The fleet that is already stretched thin at 285 ships will be stretched even thinner when they are forced into emergent maintenance periods and endure long overdue repairs and upgrades. It’s time to shed the complacent attitude surrounding naval ship numbers – adding more vessels to the Naval Register is the only way to ensure constant naval presence in the world’s volatile regions.

More information

Posted in Brett Davis, English, International, Politics in General, Sea Powers, Security Policy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Commandos Use Niger for Training and More

by Joseph Trevithick, a freelance journalist and researcher. He is also a regular contributing writer at War is Boring and a Fellow at GlobalSecurity.org.

Soldiers from the Nigerien Army train during Exercise Flintlock 2014 (Photo: U.S. Africa Command).

Soldiers from the Nigerien Army train during Exercise Flintlock 2014 (Photo: U.S. Africa Command).

The Pentagon is looking to open up a new gas station for its planes in southern Niger. As terrorists and militant groups have cropped up across North and West Africa, Washington has turned to Niger as an important hub for military activates in the region (see also “US Expands African Drone Aprons“, offiziere.ch, April 6, 2015; Joseph Trevithick, “Niger is the New Hub for American Ops in North, West Africa“, offiziere.ch, May 20, 2014).

On August 13, 2015, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) announced its intention to preposition jet fuel at “Zinger Airport” in Niger. This is the third site now available to American troops in the country.

In response to our query, DLA confirmed that U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) made the request and that this is an airfield also known as Zinder Airport. In turn, the Pentagon’s top headquarters for the region explained that American planes would be able to use the facility as a pit stop.

This single runway affair is less than 100 miles from the Nigerian border. The airstrip could end up supporting the fight against the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram … or just provide a stopover for troops on their way to practice sessions.

DG (16JUN15) Zinder Airport, Nigeria.

DG (16JUN15) Zinder Airport, Nigeria.

“Niger has proven to be willing, capable and stable, and is recognized as a linchpin for regional stability in the Sahel and a reliable counter-terrorism partner,” U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. Anthony Falvo, the public relations branch chief for U.S. Africa Command, said in an Email. “On the front lines of some of the world’s most pressing security challenges, Niger continues to be a willing partner in the fight against violent extremist organizations and illegal trafficking.”

In February 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama announced his plans to set up a drone base in the country’s capital Niamey. Faster forward more than two years and the Pentagon has significantly expanded that facility and refurbished another airstrip in the fringe of the Sahara desert.

Niger’s strategic setting cannot be understated. The nation of nearly 20 million is sandwiched between conflict zones where militant groups such as Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda and Boko Haram operate, often with near impunity because of weak governments and porous borders.

The Sahel region is a semi-arid zone that stretches across the continent, separating the Sahara desert from true sub-Saharan Africa. And there are no shortage of security concerns in the area.

Today, IS is the newest game in town and has brought their brutal brand of violence with them. In August 2015, IS extremists beheaded at least a dozen captives in the Libyan town of Sirte.

Also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, the terrorist organization – or militants linked to it – had already claimed responsibility for two devastating attacks on western tourists in Tunisia earlier in the year. In March, terrorists killed nearly two dozen people at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis. Two months later, militants murdered nearly 40 vacationers on a beach in the Mediterranean city of Sousse.

DG (14JUL15) Niamey Airport, Niger.

DG (14JUL15) Niamey Airport, Niger.

The extremists jockeyed for space in a region full of other bad actors like al-Qaeda. The notoriously hard-to-kill Mokhtar Belmokhtar is now running al-Qaeada’s North African franchise. For nearly two decades now, Belmokhtar has had an on-again-off-again relationship with groups linked to the international terrorist organization in Algeria.

In January 2013, Belmokhtar’s fighters launched a spectacular raid on a French operated gas field in In Aménas in Algeria. Then calling themselves the “Those who Sign with Blood Brigade”, the group took more than 800 workers – including a number of foreign nationals – hostage. Algerian commandos eventually stormed the site, killing nearly 30 innocent civilians in the process. Belmokhtar’s men had already murdered nearly 40 hostages themselves.

To the south, Boko Haram militants continue their own reign of terror in Nigeria. Since 2009, the group has become infamous for decimating entire villages. When not killing innocents outright, the insurgents kidnapped women and children, threatening to sell them into slavery. The group briefly captured international attention after spiriting away more than 200 female students from the town of Chibok.

While Nigeria’s new president Muhammadu Buhari has given the military three months to finally end the insurgency, the country’s security forces generally suffer from poor morale after months of poor showings. One of Buhari’s first acts was to sack the country’s top officers over their poor performance (see Peter Dörrie, “Boko Haram is far from defeated“, offiziere.ch, July 20, 2015).

“Geographically, a quick look at the map shows that Niger is in an increasingly volatile area,” U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jason Nicholson, formerly the chief of the East Africa Regional Division in AFRICOM’s Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate and now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah, pointed out in an email.

A U.S. Air Force MC-130 sits on the flightline at Agadez (Photo courtesy Lt. Col. Jason Nicholson).

A U.S. Air Force MC-130 sits on the flightline at Agadez (Photo courtesy Lt. Col. Jason Nicholson).

But while these groups dominate headlines, this is hardly an exhaustive list. Splinter factions, militant nationalists, ethnic insurgencies and others all call the Sahel home.

“While surely al-Qaeda and ISIS are still a menace to the stability of the Sahel region and the Middle East, there are more localized examples of violent extremist groups operating in the region,” Sophien Ben-Achour, Sahel Team Leader at the non-profit “Search for Common Ground“, added in an email. “Unstable, disaffected zones of the Sahel are in fact vulnerable to violent groups, which may come in different form than those we are most familiar with.”

Seeing a reliable ally in a rough neighborhood, Washington has increasingly sent more military aid and other assistance to Niamey. American commandos and other troops make regular trips to train with Nigerien forces.

But this wasn’t always the case. The Pentagon has been helping countries in the region fight extremists for more than a decade. But Niger only came to the fore after violence in the Sahel flared up dramatically after the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. After months of fighting and with the help of an American-led bombing campaign, rebels captured and executed Gaddafi, creating a dangerous power vacuum. The enigmatic leader had ruled the country for more than 40 years. In the months that followed, the situation quickly devolved into chaos. Refusing to disarm or join the nascent national military, militias instead fought each other and actively challenged the new government in Tripoli. Foreign dignities weren’t safe. Fighters kidnapped diplomats and held them for ransom. Most spectacularly, just over a year after the overthrow of Gaddafi, terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed American Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens. Beyond Libya’s borders, terrorists and other militants that Gaddafi had harbored went on the offensive. Mali imploded. Al-Qaeda-linked groups surged in Algeria and Niger.

After treating the region like an unimportant backwater for years, the Pentagon completely shifted direction. At the same time, Niger appears to have jumped from one of the lowest priorities to the top of the list – and authorities in Niamey were fine with that. The United States and France both owed Niger and other countries in the region an “after–sales service” for the debacle in Libya, the country’s interior minister Hassoumi Massoudou told Radio France Internationale in February 2014. The next month, Niamey hosted a major practice session for American commandos and troops from almost 20 other countries. The Pentagon’s special operations task force for the region runs this exercise, nicknamed Flintlock, in a different Sahel nation each year.

Seven months after that, the Pentagon had set up a second drone base at the airport in the town of Agadez. While more than 500 miles from the Libya border, the small town is situated along the region’s few highways.

Niger Air Force Dornier Do-228 at Agadez (Photo courtesy Lt. Col. Jason Nicholson).

Niger Air Force Dornier Do-228 at Agadez (Photo courtesy Lt. Col. Jason Nicholson).

Washington doesn’t appear to be slowing down cooperation with the country either. In June 2015, the Pentagon renamed the commando unit responsible for the region as “Special Operations Command North and West Africa”. “The task force was renamed […] to represent more accurately the geographic area of responsibility for this command,” the public affairs officer for the group explained in an email.

And while Chad hosted the 2015 iteration of Flintlock March, American and African commandos trained in so-called “out stations” in Niger, among other locations.

According to a number of Pentagon contract announcements, American troops and private contractors will primarily use the sites in Niger for future training. But using funds set aside for fighting terrorists and stopping drug trafficking, the U.S. Navy has hired the AAR Airlift Group to be on call with small aircraft and helicopters in Niamey to search for downed planes or evacuate injured personnel in an emergency.

And technically, Washington refers to facilities in places like Agadez and Zinder as “temporary”, regardless of their obvious, long-term importance. Depending on their size, the Pentagon officially dubs the sites “forward operating locations,” “contingency operating locations,” or “cooperative security locations.”

But “the judicious use of the correct lever of military power at the right time and place can provide outsized returns towards achieving U.S. objectives,” noted Nicholson. “Bigger is not always better.” Of course, military power is only one part of the picture too. “Traditionally in these regions civilians do not have an entirely positive picture of armed soldiers,” Ben-Achour pointed out. “I think it is very important that the military approach […] puts community level partnership and development at the forefront of any engagement.”

In the end, Niger looks set to be an important hub in the region for Washington for the foreseeable future.

Posted in Drones, English, Intelligence, International, Joseph Trevithick, Niger, Security Policy, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Satellite Imagery Captures China’s Divine Eagle UAV

DG (22JUN15) Divine Eagle SAC

China’s enormous Divine Eagle UAV is larger than the U.S. Air Force’s Global Hawk, recently released satellite imagery suggests.

While China’s UAVs are getting better, if not bigger, little is known about one of its latest models.

Photos of China’s mysterious UAV appeared in May and June while a concept of operations along with payload specs was released earlier in February.

The Divine Eagle (or Shen Diao) is built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation’s 601 Institute and will operate as a high altitude long endurance surveillance drone helping defend China’s airspace against would-be adversaries.

China’s concept of operations suggests the drone will provide early warning against enemy aircraft and support the battle management mission directing friendly targeting of enemy carrier groups.

A recent space snapshot acquired by DigitalGlobe shows the twin-fuselage, single-engine drone parked on the south end of Shenyang’s runway, possibly indicative of pre-post flight activity.

Although, the activity could also suggest taxi trials, it was rumored that the aircraft’s first test flight occurred sometime in December, according to Chinese internet sources.

Imagery also confirmed details about the drone’s specific characteristics. Measurements taken in Google Earth would indicate a wingspan and length of approximately 40 and 15 meters, respectively.

With its large size and aft-mounted high aspect ratio wings, it’s suspected to have a take off weight over 15 tons, which would be larger than the Global Hawk, just over 14.5 tons.

SAC Divine Eagle

Divine Eagle at Shenyang released on the Chinese Internet in June 2015

Though little else can be confirmed, payload specs released in February of a similar variant appeared to suggest a variety of surveillance and targeting capabilities.

The graphic identified at least 5 radars integrated into the airframe including a 160 degree forward-looking X/UHF AMTI AESA radar, two 120 degree side-looking X/UHF AMTI/SAR/GMTI AESA and two rear-looking X/UHF AMTI AESA covering 152 degrees. In other words, the drone’s radars provide 360-degree coverage, identifying targets regardless of weather conditions and stealth characteristics.

Assuming the specs are correct, the Divine Eagle would represent a serious step forward for Chinese unmanned capabilities potentially bolstering China’s Anti Access/Area Denial strategy.

It’s this type of platform that would not only extend the reach of the country’s situation awareness but also help collect targeting information beyond the first island chain. Similarly in 2013, China began using UAVs to watch over the East China Sea with a previously renovated airfield.

Given China’s recent runway construction in the disputed Spratly Islands, it’s possible this drone may one day be deployed to watch over activity in the South China Sea.

Posted in China, Chris B, Drones, English, Intelligence, Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Aufbruch in ein Neues Nukleares Zeitalter? Modernisierungsprogramme der Neun Atomwaffenmächte

von Alexander Sami Lang, Politologe mit Fachgebieten Algerien, Naher/Mittlerer Osten und Massenvernichtungswaffen.

On 6 August 1945, during the final stages of World War II, the

On 6 August 1945, during the final stages of World War II, the “Enola Gay” became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb.

Vor 70 Jahren, am 6. und 9. August 1945 warfen amerikanische B-29 Langstreckenbomber die Atombomben “Little Boy” und “Fat Man” auf Hiroshima und Nagasaki ab. Über 200’000 Menschen kamen durch deren Explosion und Spätfolgen ums Leben. Für die USA gab es mehrere Beweggründe um die neuen Waffen einzusetzen: das Ziel der schnellen und bedingungslosen Kapitulation Japans, die Eindämmung eigener Verluste, eine Demonstration des Abschreckungspotentials gegenüber der Sowjetunion und die Möglichkeit beide Bombentypen (Uran/Plutonium) auf deren Auswirkungen im “Feld” zu testen. Jedoch gibt es bis heute keinen Konsens darüber, ob die Abwürfe tatsächlich ausschlaggebend für Japans Kapitulation am 15. August 1945 waren.

Fakt ist, dass nach den Abwürfen ein nukleares Zeitalter begann, in der die beiden neuen Großmächte, die USA und die Sowjetunion, durch eine Spirale der nuklearen Aufrüstung versuchten ein “Gleichgewicht des Schreckens” (Mutually Assured Destruction-MAD) herzustellen.

15’850 Kernwaffen weltweit
Auch nach dem Ende des Kalten Krieges haben Nuklearwaffen ihre sicherheitspolitische Rolle noch lange nicht eingebüßt. Mit den sich aktuell vermehrenden Krisen und kriegerischen Auseinandersetzungen in einer multipolaren Welt nimmt auch die nukleare Bedrohung wieder zu.

Dem aktuellen Jahresbericht des Stockholmer Friedensforschungsinstituts (Sipri) zufolge sind seit Januar 2015 15’850 Nuklearwaffen im Besitz von neun Staaten (dabei besitzen die USA und Russland ca. 90% aller Sprengköpfe). Etwa 1’800 befinden sich in ständiger Alarmbereitschaft. Zum Vergleich: In den Hochzeiten des Kalten Kriegs wurden die Arsenale auf mehr als 70’000 Kernwaffen geschätzt. 1991 gab es noch etwa 48’000 Kernwaffen weltweit, die bis 2010 (22’600) mehr als halbiert worden sind.

nuclear_warhead-001

Krise des Nichtverbreitungsvertrags
Trotz der signifikant gesunkenen Zahl der Atomsprengköpfe in den letzten Jahrzehnten und der erfolgsversprechenden Vereinbarung über Irans Atomprogramm stagniert das internationale nukleare Abrüstung- und Kontrollregime. So scheiterte im Mai 2015 die neunte Überprüfungskonferenz des 1968 geschlossenen Nichtverbreitungsvertrags (NVV) und führte zu keiner Verabschiedung eines Abschlussdokuments. Die zentralen Aufgaben des NVV setzen sich aus den sogenannten “drei Säulen” zusammen: nukleare Abrüstung, Stärkung der Nichtverbreitung und friedliche Nutzung der Kernenergie.

Obgleich auch in der Vergangenheit einige Konferenzen ergebnislos blieben, äußert sich aktuell ein zunehmender Unmut über den mangelnden Fortschritt bei den Nichtnuklearwaffenstaaten (NNWS), die unter der Regie Österreichs den offiziellen Kernwaffenstaaten (auch P-5 genannt) Bestrebungen zur Modernisierung und qualitativen Aufrüstung ihrer Arsenale vorwerfen. Unterstützt wird die sogenannte “Humanitäre Initiative” Österreichs durch kritische NGOs, die als Gefahr der vermeintlichen Modernisierungsprogramme eine Senkung der Hemmschwelle für den Einsatz nuklearer Sprengköpfe sehen.

Die Entwicklung von “smarten” und kleineren Gefechtsköpfen und ihren nuklearen Trägersystemen begünstige eine neue Form des nuklearen Wettrüstens. Moderne Nuklearwaffen hätten wieder Einzug in nationale Verteidigungsstrategien gefunden und deren Einsatzauswirkungen würden von Regierungsvertretern deutlich verharmlost. Die P-5 halten den Vorwürfen der NNWS ihre erzielten Erfolge entgegen: so hätten etwa die USA und Russland innerhalb der letzten zehn Jahre ein Drittel ihrer Bestände reduziert und sähen sich den Vereinbarungen und Zielen des NVV weiterhin zur Gänze verpflichtet. Statt die Errungenschaften und die Kohärenz des Vertrags zu unterminieren, solle man gemeinsam Schritt für Schritt dem Ziel “Global Zero” entgegen streben. Die erhöhten Ausgaben für die nächsten Jahre seien auf die Sicherung maroder Bestände, der Schließung gefährlicher Sicherheitslücken und den Erhalt von Arbeitsplätzen zurückzuführen. Zudem verlange die aktuelle Sicherheitslage, einen Mindestbestand nuklearer Waffen in Bereitschaft zu halten.

Undated handout graphic released by the US Air Force showing the X-51A Waverider, shown under the wing of a B-52 Stratobomber to demonstrate hypersonic flight.

Undated handout graphic released by the US Air Force showing the X-51A Waverider, shown under the wing of a B-52 Stratobomber to demonstrate hypersonic flight.

 
Weltweite Modernisierung der Arsenale
Entgegen der Beteuerungen auf Seiten der offiziellen Atommächte keine wirklich neuen Atomwaffen zu entwickeln, lässt sich ein eindeutiger Trend eines qualitativen Rüstungswettbewerbs ausmachen. Beispielsweise sollen die in Deutschland stationierten taktischen und luftgestützten B61-Atombomben der USA durch präzisere, lasergesteuerte B61-12 Modelle ersetzt werden.

Die modernisierte Bombe könnte den Unterschied zwischen taktischen (auf dem Gefechtsfeld) und strategischen (im Hinterland) Einsatzmöglichkeiten aufheben. Dabei steht auch die Frage im Raum, ob deutsche Tornados für das neue Modell umgerüstet werden müssen oder eine Nachrüstung für die neuen Eurofighters in Frage kommt (Deutschland hat eine “nukleare Teilhabe” und kann im Ernstfall seine Kampfflieger mit den Bomben bestücken).

Die technische Neu- und Weiterentwicklung der weltweiten Atomwaffenarsenale betrifft sowohl nukleare Sprengköpfe, als auch deren land-, luft- und seegestützte Trägersysteme, wie Interkontinental-, Mittel- und Kurzstreckenraketen, sowie Marschflugkörper, Bomber und U-Boote. Dabei kristallisiert sich ein intensiver Wettstreit um die Entwicklung moderner Hyperschallraketen und unabhängig zielfähiger Mehrfachsprengköpfe (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle-MIRV) heraus. Zu den Modernisierungsprogrammen kommen Ausgaben für Nutzungsdauerverlängerungen (life extension programs) alter Bestände und Infrastrukturprojekte (Fabriken, Forschungslabore etc.) hinzu.

Der finanzielle Aufwand für die Modernisierung und Instandhaltung geht hier in die Milliarden (in den USA wird für die nächsten dreißig Jahre sogar mit einer Billiarde US-Dollar gerechnet). Die Dynamik des qualitativen Aufrüstens betrifft keineswegs nur die offiziellen Kernwaffenstaaten, auch die restlichen vier Atomwaffenmächte (Israel, Indien, Pakistan und Nordkorea) halten an ihren Arsenalen fest und modernisieren diese.

Die Investitionen der Kernwaffenstaaten werden durch verschiedene Bedrohungen in unterschiedlicher Intensivität geprägt, wie etwa durch die Ukraine-Krise, das Wettstreben um die Vormachtstellung im Nahen und Mittleren Osten oder durch die neue Rolle Chinas und den indisch-pakistanischen Konfliktes im asiatischen Raum.

Ungefähre Anzahl der heutzutage bevorrateten Atomsprengköpfe

Ungefähre Anzahl der heutzutage bevorrateten Atomsprengköpfe

 
Machtpolitische Kalküle
Die Stärkung des eigenen Atomwaffenarsenals dient dabei unterschiedlichen Strategien, wie beispielsweise einer Veränderung der jeweiligen Mächtekonstellation oder der Bewahrung des Status-quo. Mittel zur Erreichung dieser Ziele sind z.B. rhetorische Abschreckung, der Ausbau der sogenannten Zweitschlagkapazität, die Simulation von Nuklearschlägen oder die Projektierung taktischer Nuklearwaffen.

Nukleare Risiken in Südasien
Letztendlich führen die Modernisierungs- und Instandhaltungsprogramme nicht zwangsläufig zu einer Erhöhung der Kernwaffenarsenale, da veraltete Systeme ersetzt werden. Dabei ist anzumerken, dass quantitative Abrüstung zum Etikettenschwindel werden kann, da Kapazitäten mit moderneren, vielseitigeren Bombern und anderer Trägermittel erhalten bleiben.

Die wahre Gefahr der Programme liegt in der Sicherung des Weiterbestehens von Atomwaffen für die nächsten Jahrzehnte. Durch eine Zunahme regionaler Konflikte besteht ferner das Risiko einer verstärkten Integration der Rolle nuklearer Waffen in nationale Militärstrategien. Als besorgniserregend ist in dieser Hinsicht insbesondere die Rüstungsdynamik Südasiens mit seinem “nuklearen Dreieck” (China, Indien Pakistan) zu betrachten. Dort ist keine Sicherheitsarchitektur etabliert, wie es sie zu Zeiten der Blockkonfrontation zwischen der Sowjetunion und den USA gab. Im Gegensatz zum weltweiten Trend ist hier ein eindeutiger Zuwachs an Nuklearwaffen zu verzeichnen.

Mittelfristig kein “Global Zero”
70 Jahre nach den Atombombenabwürfen in Japan finden außer in Nordkorea keine Atomtests mehr statt (wobei an dreidimensionalen Computer-Simulationen für Versuche gearbeitet wird), es wurden keine Kernwaffe mehr eingesetzt und es gibt mittlerweile eine ganze Reihe von Rüstungskontrollverträgen. Allerdings machen Modernisierungs- und Instandhaltungsprogramme eine komplette Aufgabe der Waffen in den nächsten Jahrzehnten so gut wie unmöglich. Für viele Staaten bleibt das Prinzip der nuklearen Abschreckung und der mögliche machtpolitische Gewinn durch den Besitz einer Bombe weiterhin attraktiv.

• • •

Visualization of nuclear detonations from 1945 to present:

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Oil Will Be Expensive Again – The Future Of Oil Prices And How We Risk To Get It Wrong Again

by Prof. Dr. Jörn Richert, Assistant Professor for Energy Governance at the Institute of Political Science at the University of St. Gallen. This article was published first on Richert’s blog “Future and Politics“.

Many people comment on low oil prices nowadays. At the 2015 Spring Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund too experts discussed the issue of falling prices and their implications (see video below). However, we should be wary of taking these discussions too seriously. Sure, oil prices are low and there are good reasons why they should stay low. However, if there is one proven fact of the history of oil prices forecasting then it is that such forecasting is almost always wrong. While oil prices are low at the moment, therefore, we should not take this for granted for the coming years.

At the 2015 Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as well as on many other occasions, experts, politicians and others have discussed falling oil prices. Indeed, the oil price has fallen tremendously throughout recent months (see chart below). Reading recent comments on the oil market, one might indeed get the impression that low oil prices might stay with us for a very long time. At the 2015 Spring Meeting, for example, the Kazakh Minister of National Economy Erbolat Dossaev expressed his hope that oil prices might stabilize at $US 60 by 2019. Low oil prices for many years!

Inflation-adjusted crude oil price

Inflation-adjusted crude oil price

 
Low oil prices are an important issue…
A lot of developments speak in favor of low prices. Apart from the already ample supply, for example, the lifting of sanctions targeting Iran might boost investment into the country’s oil industry, advances against the terror group “Islamic State” might help Iraqi production, and states such as Venezuela or Nigeria might opt to increase income by maximizing oil output. Moreover, the effects of falling oil prices are substantial. For oil exporters, falling prices mean decreasing state income. Particularly in oil states that are heavily reliant on such income to finance a variety of subsidies, this might put substantial pressure on governments. Importing economies, on the other hand, save money that might now be invested in other projects. Oil prices are also important for climate policy and renewable energy, since fossil energy prices are key to the opportunity costs of sustainable energy investments – in the case of oil this is particularly apparent in the area of electromobility. It is, in other words, legitimate and important to discuss falling oil prices and their effects.

…but they won’t last forever!
Nevertheless, we should not trust current price levels too much. History has proven that long-term oil price expectations are normally proven wrong by actual developments. Indeed, also at the IMF meeting, the President of Goldwyn Global Strategies, David L. Goldwyn, cautioned against low prices in the long term. “This is a price cycle”, so he argued, “and it will not last.” When thinking about rising oil prices over the coming two to five years, one should take into account some weak signals and wild cards that might send prices up. In the following, I have tried to collect some of these.

Weak Signals
We should be aware of taking low oil prices for granted in the medium or long term. We already see weak signals for future upward oil price pressure:

  • Low oil prices disincentivize energy efficiency measures, so future demand might grow faster than might be expected.
  • More importantly, low oil prices make investment in costlier production capacity less attractive. Much of today’s new capacity comes from costlier resources such as shale oil, oil sands, or deepwater drilling, for example in the Arctic region and at the Brazilian coast. In the calculation of products, project developers will have to prove the viability of their projects at much lower oil prices.
  • Oil companies are furthermore suffering from low oil prices, which substantially lower their profit margins. They need to cut cost, for example by reducing work force, reducing financing for education and research&development. Just as it happened in the early 2000s, we might soon encounter a situation in which demand picks up but supply response is hampered by severe bottlenecks in the value and production chain of the oil industry – including a lack of qualified engineers, exploration equipment and technology necessary for efficient production.
  • Moreover, economic sanctions against Russia and its main oil firm Rosneft have severely complicated the financing of future oil production in Russia. This will most likely have a mid-term effect on Russian oil production.
  • It also remains to be seen how the US shale gas sector, characterized by the activity of many small firms, responds to low oil prices. Small firms are much more dependent on external financing. Moreover, shale production normally has a lifetime much shorter than larger oil fields – one needs to drill more and more frequently. As a consequence, investment decisions need to be taken more frequently. Although the shale industry has significantly increased efficiency and lowered prices, it is not clear how it will react to low prices and the expectation of low prices in the long run (for an estimate of break even prices in the industry see chart below).
Oil profits are being tested. Crude prices have face-planted to their cheapest level since 2010, threatening the balance sheets of companies and the budgets of nations. Stocks of smaller oil companies, which tend to focus on supplies that are expensive to extract, are getting crushed. But maybe the biggest question remaining is whether the bounty of U.S. fracking, which made America the world’s biggest oil and gas producer, will wither in the field. Here’s a list of break-even points for some of America’s biggest shale-oil regions. The U.S. is producing unconventional oil with acceptable returns in the range of $70 a barrel -- but now the price is in the range of $50 a barrel!

Oil profits are being tested. Crude prices have face-planted to their cheapest level since 2010, threatening the balance sheets of companies and the budgets of nations. Stocks of smaller oil companies, which tend to focus on supplies that are expensive to extract, are getting crushed. But maybe the biggest question remaining is whether the bounty of U.S. fracking, which made America the world’s biggest oil and gas producer, will wither in the field. Here’s a list of break-even points for some of America’s biggest shale-oil regions. The U.S. is producing unconventional oil with acceptable returns in the range of $70 a barrel — but now the price is in the range of $50 a barrel!

 
Wild Cards
Wild cards are events that are less likely to happen, but would have tremendous effects on oil prices. They are low probability, high impact. Some wild cards remain possible that might send oil prices up much more rapidly in the future.

  • The most apparent wild card is a large scale conflict in the Middle East. Particularly the current situation in Yemen could lead to an increasing confrontation between Saudi-Arabia and Iran. While conflict has a much more extreme effect on oil prices when markets are tight, a large scale confrontation that involves Saudi-Arabia might have such effects even in the current situation.
  • Moreover, other producers might come under pressure when oil revenues and savings do not suffice anymore to uphold subsidies for their populations. It is less than unrealistic that such states might try to alleviate amounting domestic pressure by searching for new (or old) enemies in their neighborhood, thus provoking or fueling regional conflicts.
  • Another wild card concerns a rapid decline of the US-Dollar. Although there is not much talk about US economic problems at the moment, the problem of national debt is far from resolved. A debt crisis gone astray would probably result in a devaluation of the US-Dollar. Since most oil is still traded on the basis of the US-Dollar while being consumed in other regions, a significant Dollar devaluation would certainly result in a rise of oil prices.
  • Finally, a renewed global economic crisis remains a possibility. There has been recurrent talk, for example, about problems in the Chinese banking sector. The effect of such a Chinese banking crisis and its ripple on effects on oil prices would most likely be complicated. A prolonged economic crisis would result in reduced demand and thus falling prices. However, as we have seen in 2008, the initial effect of a financial crisis might be reverse. When the US housing bubble burst in 2007, economic turbulence might have been foreseen. In the short term, however, another effect of the burst was more important: Investors that anticipated falling notations for most investment products were searching for alternative investment opportunities. They found these opportunities in commodity markets and particularly in oil futures. Thus, even after (or more precisely: because) financial markets suffered substantial contraction and when economic performance began to slide, oil prices shot up to more than $US 140.

This list is by no means complete. One might add more arguments for medium- and long-term higher oil prices in the commentary below. Even in its incompleteness, however, it shows that low oil prices are not necessarily here to stay.

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