State of play on the drone downed in Iran

Dead drone.

The Iranians have put out a video of Iranian aviators in flight suits walking around the RQ-170 Sentinel, which appears to be intact, although the airframe is on a stand that obscures the underbelly, where the engines and wheel assembly would otherwise be visible.

According to Fox, a US official confirms the drone in the video to be the one reported missing by US operators.  A number of web commentators have suggested that the thing in the video is not an RQ-170, but a US official says, at least, that it’s the drone that is missing.

I would agree with some of the doubters that the drone in the Iranian video isn’t 100% identical to the images of the RQ-170 available on the web.  But Continue reading “State of play on the drone downed in Iran”

Send in the drones? Reflections on the troop deployment to Africa

Isn’t it bliss?

Obama’s decision to deploy 100 Special Forces soldiers to Uganda, as advisers in the regional fight against the homicidal Lord’s Resistance Army, has drawn criticism and concern across the political spectrum.  There are good reasons for that.

The basic criticism is that the move repeats the worst error committed in past deployments of US troops:  sending task forces too small to achieve anything decisive, and giving them vague, open-ended missions.  The grand debacle of Vietnam started out in precisely this manner. Continue reading “Send in the drones? Reflections on the troop deployment to Africa”

Drone warfare and “just war”

To the mattresses.

The US is enlarging its Middle East basing posture for unmanned aerial (autonomous) vehicles – UAVs, or in popular parlance, drones.  In addition to a long-operated base in Djibouti, where we maintain the headquarters of the Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa (JTF-HOA), drones will be based in the Seychelles, Ethiopia, and an unnamed nation on the Arabian Peninsula (possibly Yemen).

Bill Roggio at Long War Journal is concerned about our increasing reliance on drones.  So am I.  I concur with his reservations expressed here (don’t miss his whole piece, well worth reading): Continue reading “Drone warfare and “just war””

China, Gilgit-Baltistan (Memorize it Now), and the Balance of Power in Asia

“Middle Kingdom.”

The Hudson Institute has an article this week that provides an excellent summary of disquieting events in Pakistan’s remote northern province of Gilgit-Baltistan. Why should we care? Chinese troops. Regional analysts fear Gilgit-Baltistan is becoming a gateway for China to exert military and political influence in Central Asia. Exhibit A in their assessment is the presence of up to 11,000 Chinese troops in the province. (This MEMRI summary has additional details.)

The Chinese military deployment is of concern for two principal reasons: Continue reading “China, Gilgit-Baltistan (Memorize it Now), and the Balance of Power in Asia”

Adieu, Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan: Oy to the veh.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a good article today on the – shock, shock – “Russia connection” to this week’s uprising in Kyrgyzstan. An icky aspect of this tale is that the US is widely perceived to have been bolstering the cartoonishly corrupt regime of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiev, by paying him big bucks to lease the air base at Manas for support to NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Bakiev, who was approved by Moscow when he seized power in 2005, has been steadily disappointing Russians ever since.  Moscow gave him a long leash when it came to Kyrgyz debt and the inflow of much-needed natural gas, electric power, and infrastructure investment; but everyone has known Bakiev was pocketing pretty much anything in Kyrgyzstan that walked and talked like a commercial profit, and skinning the country’s people and independent businesses to service debt.

Still, he was Moscow’s S.O.B., Continue reading “Adieu, Kyrgyzstan”