Friday, 23 May 2008

The Soldiers Load
Scroll down the contents, and click on "The Soldiers Load" (PDF). A good write-up on how soldiers are carrying too much weight. opswarfare especially likes the portion where the individual weights are added up. It could come in useful for commanders to do some calculations to help tailor the weight carried to mission requirements. It would be great if the article could look at a section, or platoon, and compare the different weights carried, e.g. between a rifleman, a signaller, a medic, and a 84mm firer, etc.


Revolution in Military Affairs Programme
A regular digest of military/security news and updates by the RMA Programme in RSIS. opswarfare started subscribing to the mailing list a few months ago. You can also click on the link above to view the old issues.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

New coastal submarine concepts get ready to break the surface

Jane's Defence News
Haven't heard anything concrete about the SMX-23 concept since its announcement in 2006, perhaps it is waiting for funding from a potential launch customer. Anyway, a quick Google search reveals a potential competitor in the form of the 210mod by HDW. These 2 concepts sound like they want to be the "Eee PC" of submarines...

Saturday, 17 May 2008

News on the sidelines of the Cluster Munitions conference

In news related to the upcoming Cluster Munitions conference in
Dublin, it seems the British Ministry of Defence is trying to retain
the capability to use some cluster munitions.
Defence officials point out that last year Britain discontinued the use of "dumb" cluster munitions which could not be directly targeted and did not self-destruct. They insist the two remaining cluster weapons in the armoury are designed to minimize harm to civilians.

They include the M85, an Israeli-designed artillery weapon with "bomblets" designed to self-destruct, which British troops used in Basra during the invasion of Iraq. According to the MoD, they made a "direct contribution to saving the lives of UK service personnel".

The other is the M73 rocket, which contains nine submunitions, and is fired from pods from Apache helicopters or Harrier jets. Foreign office officials insist the M73 is non-negotiable but suggest the continued use of the M85, which Israel used in southern Lebanon last year, causing heavy civilian casualties, was a matter for negotiation. The MoD would fight hard against giving it up.
opswarfare recently "attended" an online seminar on cluster munitions, organised by Jane's, where both M85 and M73 sub-munitions were mentioned. The M85 is dispensed from MLRS rockets. The M73 is dispensed from 70mm Hydra unguided rockets.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Lebanon cancels anti-Hezbollah measures

Lebanon should be commended for trying something different, even though in this instance, it's disappointing that it is backing down on its initial actions. Asymmetry begets asymmetry.

Perhaps a little clarification is apt here. Hezbollah is an organisation that fights using asymmetric means. The Lebanese government tried to shut down Hezbollah's communications network and also sacked Beirut airport's security chief, who is close to the group.

The communications network helped Hezbollah retain command and control of its forces during the recent Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in 2006.

The airport security chief could possibly turn a blind eye to "questionable" items sent from Syrian and Iran via Beirut Airport.

So the Lebanese government tried not to fight Hezbollah directly, but "attack" it's (in military parlance) C4I assets and logistics tail.

Army and Navy colleagues in Exercise Joint Warrior

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Training and Adventure
A humanitarian scenario being thrown at the British troops in this training exercise, good for preparing for real operations. The SAF can learn by conducting more of such exercises...
3 Rifles are conducting exercises based around a NEO (Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation) scenario which sees the safe extraction of a vulnerable population from a potentially dangerous environment.

This is an operation that 3 Rifles are all too familiar with, having conducted one for real whilst they were at high readiness as the Army's 'Spearhead' in 2006, when the British Community in Lebanon were safely evacuated by ship to Cyprus and home to the UK. Coincidentally HMS Bulwark also took part in that operation.

The 'landward' training commenced early on Monday 28 April 2008 with a beach landing and 20 km insertion march along the roads and fields (with the local landowners' permission of course), followed by the NEO operation to evacuate a role-playing civilian population from a mock hostile presence.
By the way, photos of the exercise (including the one above) are available at the Rifles website. A newspaper report, linked via the website, also provides more insight.
Up until January, 3RIFLES (based in Edinburgh), was to conduct a six-week training exercise in Kenya called Exercise GRAND PRIX.

Unfortunately, given the tense political situation in Kenya at the time, the decision was taken to cancel the exercise. So it was back to the drawing board to try to create an equally challenging and interesting exercise a bit closer to home.
[EDIT] 21st May 2008
Good news. Looks like we are now also learning how to support humanitarian operations. Just noticed that Singapore's involvement in Cobra Gold has been stepped up for this year.
For the first time, a 35-man SAF team will also be participating in the field training exercise phase that simulates security operations in support of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief efforts. The SAF's participation in this phase, which previously involved only the US and Thai armed forces, marks a significant milestone in Singapore's involvement in the Exercise Cobra Gold series.
The above text from this MINDEF press release.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

German Deployment During Iraq War Ruled Illegal

Defense News
"Germany's highest court ruled May 7 that the decision to deploy German crews on NATO surveillance flights over Turkey during the Iraq war was illegal."
On one hand, this Court decision show the "checks and balances" at work. On the other hand though, the acknowledgement that
"The decision is unlikely to have any legal consequences for Schroeder or other members of his government..."
doesn't sound encouraging. (Note: photo above obtained via NATO)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

How Defense Research Is Making Troops More Effective in Wartime
4 tech products featured in this newspaper report. BTW, I was led to this report via Ares. Note: Above photo via Technology Review, features the Tactical Ground Reporting System (TIGR). The accompanying caption reads
Baghdad route planner: A new map-based application allows patrol leaders in Iraq to learn about city landmarks and past events and enter new data. In this mock-up provided by DARPA (the map does not reflect actual events), the purple line shows a possible Baghdad patrol route. Past events in a 300-meter buffer are noted. Hostile actions, such as IED attacks or shootings, appear as various red icons; friendly actions, such as visits to schools, appear as blue icons. Clicking the icons brings up text, photos, even videos.
Courtesy of DARPA

Monday, 12 May 2008

Conference on Cluster Munitions - Oslo Process

Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions
Similar to the Mine Ban Treaty, the Oslo Process seeks to prohibit the use of cluster munitions. There is an upcoming Jane's free online conference on 12th May (10pm, Singapore Time) on this issue. The link above goes to the website done up by the Irish hosts. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also has a related webpage on cluster munitions.