Sea, air and land updates

Image courtesy of Flickr user NASA's Earth Observatory

Sea State

A new report (PDF) from CSIS has warned that Russian submarine activity in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas and the North Atlantic are at their highest levels since the end of the Cold War. It found that the Russian Navy and its submarine force had remained relatively insulated from the challenges that had severely impacted Russia’s broader military modernisation strategy, and that Russian submarines are generally very capable vessels when properly maintained. The report suggested NATO and partner nations wouldn’t be able to quickly counter Russian undersea challenge in the region, due to the inability of most NATO members to meet defence spending targets,  declining capabilities and a lack of integration among relevant allies. In response, it suggested NATO members and partners needed to pursue organisational reforms and a federated response to capability development.

US Vice President Joe Biden announced last Thursday that a US naval vessel would attend the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary in November. The visit will be the first time an American warship has visited the country in 33 years, after New Zealand introduced a nuclear-free policy in the 1980s. US warships were banned in NZ waters because the US wouldn’t officially confirm or deny if its ships were carrying nuclear weapons. NZ Prime Minister John Key made the invitation, stating it would appear odd if all of the nation’s other allies attended without the US, and noted that the ship would need to comply with NZ lawmeaning the ship won’t have any a nuclear weapons capability.

Flight Path

A new article on The National Interest has argued that the divestment of the A-10 communitynot the aircraft itselfposes the greatest threat to the future of USAF missions. Major Joel Bier, a former USAF Weapons School Instructor Pilot, said the move towards a multirole solution that includes close air support (CAS) responsibilities would see CAS expertise evaporate as multirole communities ‘return their focus to traditional air-minded missions’. Just last month, during his nomination testimony, USAF Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said the A-10 community is USAF’s ‘PhD force when it comes to close air support’. In more A-10 news, USAF officials briefed outside stakeholders in a meeting on 20 July, detailing the possibility that it may pursue two separate light-attack aircraftpotentially in parallelto meet both immediate and long-term needs.

USAF is heading further into the final frontier, with a new white paper recognising that US adversaries are actively fielding systems to deny the US use of space during a conflict. The Air Force Space Command released details of the newly implemented ‘Space Mission Force’, including a plan to train airmen to operate military satellites in a threat environment and to teach tactics to respond to threats. The initiative aims to ensure that a greater number of operators know how to act in a ‘contested environment’ and will see operators receive four to six months of intensive training before apply their skills to real-world scenarios.

Rapid Fire

Iraqi forces are employing the medieval tactic of digging a trench around Fallujah in order maintain control after recently recapturing it from Daesh. When completed, the trench will be 11 kilometres long, 12.5 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep with a single opening that will allow residents to enter and leave. In a slightly more modern security technique, forgery-proof ID cards will be issued to the 85,000 Fallujah residents who fled during the May–June offensive to retake the city.

In the wake of the failed military coup in Turkey, some 35% of all the Turkish Armed Forces generals and admirals are in detention. Turkish President Erdogan has promised to overhaul the army and give it ‘fresh blood’. However, given that Turkey is one of the leading members of the NATO alliance, there are concerns that those changes will disrupt its military readinessas the absence of experienced commanders could inadvertently heighten tensions between NATO and Russia.

As the Syrian war rages on, an article from Defence One provides an overview of the weapons used during the lengthy conflict. Featuring an interactive timeline that spans five years, the site shows that fighters in the conflict have used some of the most hi-tech weapons of the 21st century—but also some of the most basic…