Why is Qatar buying 180 main battle tanks?

Arabs, united.

Citing German reporting, Reuters related on Sunday that the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar plans to buy a total of 180 Leopard 2 main battle tanks from Germany.  An original buy of 62 Leopard 2s was announced in April 2013; the recent disclosure indicates Qatar will buy 118 more.

The total purchase would enlarge Qatar’s tank inventory by a factor of six.  The inventory currently consists of 30 French-built AMX-30s.  The Leopard 2 (Qatar is buying the 2A7+) is a modernized 61-ton tank suitable for heavy armor warfare (comparable to the U.S. M-1 series); the older AMX-30 is a lighter, 40-ton tank, less capable in the field and with some features optimized for urban warfare.  The 14 July report references the World Cup in 2022 – which Qatar will host – and seems to imply that the tank purchase is related to World Cup preparations.  But replacing 30 AMX-30s with 180 Leopard 2 MBTs is not what you would do Continue reading “Why is Qatar buying 180 main battle tanks?”

State of unreadiness

Degraded.

My Liberty Unyielding colleague Timothy Whiteman highlighted last Thursday the number of Air Force squadrons that will have to cease training later this year because the Air Force doesn’t have funds for the flying hours.  This is real, and it is astounding.  It will mean that, at a certain point in the near future – as early as this fall, if no additional funds become available – the cost of mounting an operation big enough to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons-related installations is likely to be too high.

This is because there will be no force depth to either sustain follow-on operations or overcome the geographic constraints U.S. forces are increasingly likely to face.  Assuming all of the Air Force’s stand-downs and readiness losses do occur, the available front-line forces would be maxed out with a moderately scoped strike package.  To meet the task, they would require the most favorable basing options that could be available in the Persian Gulf under today’s conditions – but which may not be.  If we don’t have those favorable basing options, and the Air Force squadron groundings remain on track, the Iran strike goes from all-but-under-resourced to impossible.

There will not, after all, be two aircraft carriers on station near Iran, Continue reading “State of unreadiness”

Iraq: Turkey makes a move

Diving right in.

Turkey’s efforts around Iraq are multidimensional and aimed at more than merely suppressing the Kurdish separatist group PKK.  The activity that has been in the news in August, of course, is the bombing of Kurdish targets in northern Iraq.  Early in the August campaign, the Turks announced their decision to establish a more permanent military presence in northern Iraq, a move that will obviously affect strategic calculations in the region.

Baghdad has been largely silent about the incursions on Iraqi territory, although the Turkish ambassador was summoned last week to hear a complaint from the Iraqi foreign ministry.  Iraq’s position is difficult:  both Turkey and Iran are bound to be concerned about the Kurds’ use of northern Iraq as a redoubt for their different factional campaigns against Iraq’s neighbors.  Iran began attacking Kurdish targets across the border as early as July Continue reading “Iraq: Turkey makes a move”