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Archive for June, 2012

From The Telegraph (available here), comes a story about how British Army units who have traditionally drawn much of their manpower from foreign and Commonwealth countries are likely to be decommissioned (a nice way of saying these units will no longer exist).

In my opinion, this is about as stupid a decision as the British government could have ever reached. I know economic times are bad, I know the British government needs to slash government spending, but cutting these units (or amalgamating them with other units) is tantamount in many cases to some very historic and storied units losing their identities altogether.

For instance, one of the units in the list of proposed cuts comes from the Royal Highland Fusiliers. The Royal Highland Fusiliers is already an amalgamation of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Highland Light Infantry. The Royal Scots Fusiliers has won over 200 battle honours in its history; it has fought against Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kruger, George Washington, The Kaiser, Hitler, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the IRA, the United States, various natives of Africa and Asia and Saddam Hussein. Losing such a heritage is like cutting the soul out of an armed forces that has thrived on this kind of heritage.

Another unit that is threatened with the axe is the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, with the proposal that this unit be merged with 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (aka The Welsh Cavalry). The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, however, is already an amalgamation of other older units, one of whom, the Royal Scots Greys, is the oldest surviving cavalry Regiment of the Line in the British Army. The component units that merged to form the Royal Scots combined have won 3 Victoria Crosses.

The proposed mergers and cuts will dilute further this kind of regimental heritage. And this kind of history and heritage is something that contains a value that is far beyond any money. Heritage of this kind confers upon the unit a moral force (and Clausewitz argued that moral force is three times more powerful than material force). It makes soldiers proud to know that they are joining a regiment with this kind of heritage, and this heritage serves as a rallying point, a source of great motivation, for new recruits to want to maintain the traditions and battle heritage of their regiment.

Do they (the British government) know what they are potentially losing???

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OK, even I will admit that this is cool technology!

From The Independent, comes a story about helmet-mounted aiming sights (accessible here). This technology allows the pilot to just maintain visual contact on a potential target to direct precision kinetic force against that target. In dogfight trials in the US, pilots wearing this helmet scored 20-for-20 kills.

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More on the recent stuxnet issue, this time via The new York Times (available here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/opinion/stuxnet-will-come-back-to-haunt-us.html?hp). Well worth a read.

The NYR is right – this one will almost certainly come back and bite all of us!

Military Studies at RSIS

Yet more offerings on the issue of cyber, security, this time a very sobering analysis of the extent of the vulnerabilities we all currently face. Makes me begin to wonder if Commander Adama might have had a point about not networking the Galactica’s computers. This analysis (available here) is from the BBC.

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In what I personally consider to be the worst of the three Godfather movies (obviously, the third!!!), Michael Corleone in a scene says something along the lines of “every time I think I have got myself out, they just pull me back in!” I wonder if the US is feeling that way. Or whether the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are thinking the reverse: “Just when we thought we got them out, they just come right back in!”

An interesting story, courtesy of The Washington Post (available here), for your reading pleasure.

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In a previous post, I blogged about the issue of drone strikes. How I personally feel about this ‘tactic’ is already clear.

Now, courtesy of The Guardian, comes an interesting read (accessible here) about the legality of such drone strikes. The claim made by the UN rapporteur about the possibility of drone strikes being classified as war crimes takes me by surprise, but I am no international law expert.

In the final analysis, I am still unconvinced about the strategic value of such tactics.

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In his Introduction to Robbert Strassler’s edition of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War, the American classical scholar Victor Davis Hanson wrote about Thucydides’ confident claim that the latter’s history of the Peloponnesian War was “a possession for all time.” Hanson argues that for Thucydides, “the nature of humankind was constant and predictable”. Hanson further wrote, “Nature and culture, word and deed, pretext and candour lead to larger corollaries of land power and sea power, oligarchy and democracy, commerce and agriculture, wealth and poverty – all for a purpose.”

Now, a really interesting piece comes via the BBC (available here), on resource scarcities in the areas of food, energy, and water. We call such concerns non-traditional security, but I have always wondered if these resources are very often precisely the reasons why countries have gone to war in the past. I am currently reading a fascinating study (Lizzie Collingham, The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food, published in 2011 by Allen Lane). As the cover notes to this book suggests, the author “establishes how control of food and its production was crucial to total war … the imperial ambitions of Germany and Japan – ambitions which sowed the seeds of the conflict – informed by a desire for self-sufficiency in food production … the issue of access to food was a driving force within Nazi policy …”

It is all eerily sounding all too familiar, it seems to my simple mind.

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An interesting story, from the BBC (available here) about the current trend of UN peacekeeping operations – deploying forces from the same continent. African peacekeepers deployed in Somalia seem to be working well. One can only hope that this approach will become a genuine solution.

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