Saturday, 26 April 2008
Friday, 25 April 2008
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Behind the drama of the most recent Dutch casualty, this incident highlights the many dangers facing troops in Afghanistan. A common tactic to reduce the IED threat is to change your route from Point A to Point B, and avoid common roads. But in this case, it was still not sufficient.
"...his son's unit was driving cross-country, staying away from the road on purpose in order to evade IEDs."It is possible that the deaths were caused by an old landmine.
"...indicated the IED (or mine) may have been there for a long time as there has been no evidence that it was placed recently."The battle to combat IEDs is one that will need a combination of solutions. RIP to the fallen.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Some of you may be thinking, "What if the chimney is attacked?". Well, the Israelis placed a 2nd system on a mobile platform nearby, for redundancy purposes.
10 March 2008
Men crept in darkness to plant a bomb. They moved in an area where last year I was helping to collect fallen American soldiers from the battlefield.
Terrorists. The ones who murder children in front of their parents. The ones who take drugs and rape women and boys. The ones who blow up schools. The ones who have been forcibly evicted from places like Anbar Province, Baghdad and Baqubah by American and Iraqi forces. Terrorists are here now in Mosul. They call themselves al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). AQI cannot win without Baghdad, and cannot survive without Mosul. The Battle for Mosul is evolving into AQI’s last great stand.
And there were the men planting the bomb. It is unknown if the men with the explosives were al Qaeda, but they were planting a bomb and that was enough. Many terrorists murder only for money. Like hit men. They might have nothing against the victim. It’s just business. Although understanding enemy motivations is key to winning a war, out on the battlefield, such considerations can become secondary, as divining the motives of a would-be killer is less important than stopping him.
The bombers were being watched. Invisible to them, prowling far overhead, was a Predator.
The Predator is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) whose eye sees through the darkness. The night sky is the jungle where it hides. The Predator strikes with more suddenness and force than any tiger. I often watch the live feed streaming down into the Tactical Operations Centers (TOC) around Iraq, while crosshairs track the enemy, and the screen lists data such as altitude, azimuth, ground speed, and the precise grid coordinates of the target. The Predator carries a deadly Hellfire missile, but also has other weapons, like the crosshairs on its eye, which links down to soldiers watching the video and data feed. The soldiers have radios to other soldiers with massive arrays of weapons. With that combination, every weapon in the US arsenal can be brought into action. Unarmed spy planes, like the Shadow, often allow enemies to escape—the difference between success and failure is often measured in seconds. The Predator can launch an attack with its Hellfire, but the most devastating attacks are usually the result of closely-coordinated teamwork between soldiers on the ground and in the air, using information provided by the Predator above. Combat at this level is an elegant dance under a burning roof.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Sunday, 20 April 2008
opswarfare is not really convinced by the response by Popular Mechanics (PM). Let's look at the paragraph in question.
This is how fragile the robotics industry is: Last year, three armed ground bots were deployed to Iraq. But the remote-operated SWORDS units were almost immediately pulled off the battlefield, before firing a single shot at the enemy. Here at the conference, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Forces, Kevin Fahey, was asked what happened to SWORDS. After all, no specific reason for the 11th-hour withdrawal ever came from the military or its contractors at Foster-Miller. Fahey’s answer was vague, but he confirmed that the robots never opened fire when they weren’t supposed to. His understanding is that “the gun started moving when it was not intended to move.” In other words, the SWORDS swung around in the wrong direction, and the plug got pulled fast. No humans were hurt, but as Fahey pointed out, “once you’ve done something that’s really bad, it can take 10 or 20 years to try it again.”Read the response below, and see if you agree. opswarfare finds that the original paragraph sounds misleading (in light of the clarifications below).
Friday, 18 April 2008
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
The M3 can be driven into a river and used as a ferry or, when a number are joined together from bank to bank, as a bridge, capable of taking vehicles as heavy as the Challenger MBT. A 100m river can be crossed in 30 minutes, using 8 rigs.
The percentage of those considered unfit and therefore exempt from service has been steadily rising, from eight to 12 percent until 1999 to 16.9 percent in 2002, 32.6 percent in 2004 and 41.9 percent in 2007.
Saturday, 12 April 2008
A few quick comments on possible tactics that can be utilised. A "persistent-stare" capability will be very useful in this scenario. This is normally done via the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The next possible capability desired will be a method to insert a boarding team covertly. Most likely to be done at night, a submersible can deliver boarding teams to overpower the pirates. One issue could be the carrying capacity (or lack of) of the submersible to carry enough troops to outnumber the number of pirates on the yacht.
On the matter of the waters near Somalia being a pirate hotspot, opswarfare recently came across a UN mapping website which incidentally has a detailed map showing how bad the situation is.
The file (PDF) is available on this page.
France has some advantage over other Western countries in dealing with this issue, as it has permanent military assets based in Africa, e.g. troops, aircraft, vehicles etc. This will stand it in good stead in the scenario that they are now facing. In this case, the nearest French presence is in Djibouti, with the 13e demi brigade de légion étrangère (13e DBLE) (13th Half-Brigade) of the French Foreign Legion based there.
UPDATE (11th April 2008): It seems the crew has been released. No further details at the moment.
UPDATE (12th April 2008): The plot thickens. It seems that ransom was paid and the crew were then released. After that, the French forces pursued the pirates ashore. Some of the pirates have been taken into custody. Part of the ransom was also recovered. 2 reports seen so far (Washington Post, Independent).
If the reports are true, then kudos to the French for ensuring the safety of the crew, and also discouraging further attacks with its strong action of apprehending some of the pirates involved.
Friday, 11 April 2008
Possibly another landmark ruling in the UK courts (after yesterday's ruling on the Al Yamamah corruption investigation). opswarfare will revert with more info.
UPDATE: The Guardian article has been updated, with the important summary below
The case followed an inquest into the death in 2003 of Private Jason Smith, a 32-year-old Territorial army soldier sent to Basra, southern Iraq, in June 2003. Two months later, he died from heat stroke in temperatures reaching 60C.Another recent case seems to contradict the above judgement. A quick blurb below.
At the inquest in November 2006, Oxfordshire's assistant deputy coroner, Andrew Walker, said Smith died because of "a serious failure to recognise and take appropriate steps to address the difficulty that he had in adjusting to the climate".
However, the coroner refused to consider whether the death breached Smith's rights under article two of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), covering the right to life.
Smith's mother, Catherine, challenged this in the high court, with the MoD listed as an "interested party" after Browne sought legal guidance on whether corners could talk of "serious failures".
While risk was inherent in a soldier's job, the judge ruled today, the MoD had to provide them with proper care.
The nine law lords who heard the case - an unusually high number reflecting the importance attached to it - said they sympathised with the families. But they unanimously ruled that the human rights convention did not apply to war.opswarfare will be looking for more information on this issue.
Friday, 4 April 2008
Lessons for human rights and humanitarian law in the war on terror: comparing Hamdan and the Israeli Targeted Killings case
A sort of counter to the blog post below. This article looks at 2 recent cases involving terrorism and human rights and humanitarian law.
A key portion to note (with relevance to the discussion on targeted killings) is on page 389, where the Israeli Supreme Court lays down conditions for targeted killings
- The state must possess well-based, thoroughly verified information regarding the identity and activity of the civilian who is allegedly taking part in the hostilities; the burden of proof on the state is heavy.
- A civilian taking a direct part in hostilities cannot be attacked at such time as he is doing so, if a less harmful means can be employed. Thus, if a terrorist taking a direct part in hostilities can be arrested, interrogated, and tried, those are the means which should be employed. In the words of the Court, ‘‘Trial is preferable to use of force. A rule-of-law state employs, to the extent possible, procedures of law and not procedures of force.’’
- If a civilian is indeed attacked, a thorough and independent investigation must be conducted regarding the precision of the identification of the target and the circumstances of the attack, and in appropriate cases compensation must be paid for harm done to innocent civilians.
- Finally, combatants and terrorists are not to be harmed if the damage expected to be caused to nearby innocent civilians is not proportionate to the military advantage directly anticipated from harming the combatants and terrorists.