Thursday, 26 June 2008

International Workshop on Autonomy and Armed Separatism in South and Southeast Asia

Forgot to highlight this earlier. opswarfare just attended the first day of the above workshop. It has been very informative (discovered new stuff even after a quick google of the topics highlighted). A few quick comments of the proceedings of the first day.
  1. Professor Anthony Reid - was candid, highlighted straight off the bat that autonomy is not as "sexy" as independence to a lot of people, and that there are often connotations that autonomy is top-down driven as compared to grassroots-based independence movements
  2. Professor Kishore Mahbubani - was kind enough to throw a few "controversial" issues into the hat, e.g. that for the amount of effort put into resolving the Palestinian issue, the results have been dismal. He calls for a move away from looking at things from a Western context, and that "there is no monopoly on wisdom"
  3. Dr Michelle Miller - explained how the idea for the workshop came about during the writing of her book on Aceh. Also, with the number of separatist issues in Asia, she wondered if the Aceh model could somehow be used elsewhere.
  4. Panel 1 (on Indonesia) kicked off with Associate Professor Damien Kingsbury presenting on behalf of Associate Professor Bilveer Singh (who had an accident, and could not attend. best wishes to his recovery) on the situation in West Papua. Autonomy has not worked in Papua, as it should have been independent in the first place (the Dutch were going to grant it independence before the US stepped in to pressure a UN solution that ended in Indonesian occupation)
  5. Dr Miller's arc focused on Aceh, and highlighted that "windows of opportunity" could be a key for groups pushing for autonomy, e.g. the 2004 tsunami was the event that helped pushed the autonomy process along
  6. Panel 2 (on Timor Leste) had Adérito de Jesus Soares comparing Timor-Leste with Western Sahara (opswarfare notes that the comparison was not really fleshed out; perhaps he had insufficient time)
  7. Dr Douglas A. Kammen seemed to have spotted a 5-year cycle to events relating to Timor-Leste's independent struggle, which perhaps suggests that groups may want to take note of this type of influence. He also correctly points out that the Timor-Leste story is not autonomy, more of gaining back independence
  8. Panel 3 (on theory and practice) started with Prof. Kingsbury suggesting that most separatist movements stemmed from post-colonial countries and with ethnic issues often the spark point. He also considers that nationalism as a concept doesn't really work now
  9. Dr Davin Bremner introduced his organisation, and highlighted how negotiations can go wrong, and how to address this problems. He also introduced a internet tool on his organisation's website that allow anyone to compare between various separatist situations
  10. Panel 4 (on Burma) had Associate Professor Monique Skidmore highlighting the plight of the Karen people, where autonomy (more like enforced ceasefires) did not improve matters, but perhaps made things worst
  11. Associate Professor Karin Dean concentrated mainly on the Kachin people, and also suggested that new media was bringing the Burma issue to the fore
  12. Mr. David Scott Mathieson expanded on the issue of spaces in the context of rebel military leaders
  13. more to follow, especially on the interesting Q & A
A pity that opswarfare will miss the second day due to another prior appointment.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Eurosatory 2008

Coverage of upcoming weapon systems at Eurosatory 2008.

An example is the Loitering Munition concept, which could be useful for counter-insurgency operations. opswarfare has seen too many videos where Coalition forces go out on patrol, and then get pinned down by an ambush. Then, due to insufficient organic firepower (of the indirect kind), much time is wasted (and the initiative lost) in calling for air-strikes.

A Loitering Munition could be used in this scenario, with a quick call to artillery forces to fire one of these missiles in the general direction of the contact, and while the missile loiters, the enemy position can be confirmed (and properly identified) before guiding the missile towards the target.

Some of the competing products can be found on this Defense-Update page.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

How UK fights remote control war

A few new developments that opswarfare sees in this article
  1. UK Reapers are also controlled from Creech Air Force base in the US
  2. One Reaper has crashed
  3. UK Reapers have fired ordnance in combat
The above points leads to a few questions
  1. Is there some technical issue preventing the control station from being set up in the UK?
  2. What caused the crash?
  3. Was it a high-value target that they tried to hit?
Time to do some searching...

[Update: 15th June 2008]
  1. The MOD also has a short article.
  2. In "sort of" related news, Raytheon has just confirmed that a new missile is being developed for use on the Predator UAV (the Predator is the predecessor of the Reaper), but the customer details are currently unknown