Wires Brief: Fort Trump proposed; Syrian Buffer Zone established; North Korea suggests denuclearisation plan

21 September 2018 – Cambridge, UK

by Robert Grayston

United Kingdom

BAE Systems will provide Qatar with 24 Typhoon fighter jets in a deal worth £5 billion in a move that will secure thousands of British jobs. It is the largest order for the Eurofighter in a decade, with Charles Woodburn of BAE saying the order was “a significant step in BAE Systems’ long-term relationship with the state of Qatar,”

Europe

The Austrian Defence Minister Mario Kunasek has said that the EU should be prepared to lend military assistance to the Western Balkans as part of ongoing efforts to manage refugees and migration. “The countries of south-eastern Europe are our immediate neighbours. This is why it is necessary to engage there in order to secure stability and security,” Kunasek said.

The US is considering a Polish request for a permanent military presence. Poland is prepared to pay up to $2 billion to help cover the stationing of US assets on Polish soil as a deterrent to Russian aggression, with the Polish President saying “I hope that we will build Fort Trump in Poland together” to US President Donald Trump.

German President Angela Merkel has spoken about boosting cyber capabilities in the face Russian hybrid warfare. “It is not for nothing that we built in Germany a special cyber unit within the German military in order to build capabilities in this area,” Merkel told German personnel deployed as part of the NATO force in Lithuania during a visit to the Baltic country.

North America

The US is gearing up to take a more proactive stance in the digital theatre, with the Pentagon deciding “to disrupt or halt malicious cyber activity at its source, including activity that falls below the level of armed conflict.” The new approach intends to “build a more lethal force” of hackers who will strike first.

Africa

The biennial Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition is taking place in Johannesburg, with the South African Defence Force showcasing its capabilities as one of the UN’s top 20 contributors and its role in anti-piracy activities off the Mozambique coast. President Cyril Ramaphosa opened the event by acknowledging the current “economic reality” but still pledging support for the defence industry.

A factional leader of the Islamic State in West Africa, Mamman Nur (who used to be Boko Haram’s third in command) was killed by his own men. This purportedly happened on 21 August, but the news is finally coming out. His lieutenants became disenfrachised with his leadership style and believed Nur was not as aggressive as Abubakar Shekau, the current leader of Boko Haram. Both groups have been fighting with one another since the splinter group formed.

Middle East

A Russian plane has been shot down by Syrian forces, although Russia is blaming Israel for the incident. The Russian Defence Ministry has said that Israeli jets were responsible for forcing the Russian surveillance plane into Syrian air defence systems, as not enough warning was provided to allow the Russian plane to avoid the situation.

Turkey and Russia have agreed on a demilitarised buffer zone between the last major Syrian rebel stronghold in Idlib and Syrian government forces. Turkish President Recep Erdogan said, “We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons… We will prevent a humanitarian tragedy which could happen as a result of military action.” This has paused the major offensive which was previously promised by government forces, at least for the meantime.

Asia-Pacific

Japan is struggling to recruit more personnel to its Self Defence Force, which means it is currently recruiting 23% below its target. A former parliamentary vice-minister said “Twenty years from now, unless we can replace a considerable number of people with robots, it’ll be hard to maintain the current level of war capability.” Conscription is considered unconstitutional and so there is a greater drive towards recruiting women, as well as a move to raising the age limit for new recruits.

North Korea has suggested it may be amenable to closing down its primary nuclear facility in a meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea. Both leaders signed a document stating, “The South and the North shared the view that the Korean peninsula should be a region without nuclear weapons nor nuclear threats, and have agreed to make practical progress.”

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of India has said “India has maintained its sovereignty as regards to its relationship with countries. We shall maintain it in all earnestness,” in regards to its purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia, despite the possibility of US sanctions.

Vietnam and France have signed a joint defence commitment until 2028, with particular focus on strategic views, training, and UN peace-keeping operation participation, defence industry, and military medicine.

Social media wires

Boko Haram, incorrectly, claimed that they took Damasak town, but were actually repelled by the Nigerian Army.

As Russia deploys a third S-300 in Crimea, it was blessed by a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church.

 

Feature photo – 2013 North Korean military parade  – Uri Tours, Flickr, 2018

The Wires Brief is a weekly breaking news report incorporating wire service news and social media updates. DefRep can not verify the authenticity of social media reporters nor the accuracy of social media updates.

Robert Grayston is DefenceReport’s marketing coordinator and occasional contributor. His most recent experience has involved security policy work for a member of the Shadow Defence team in the British Parliament. He can be emailed at rgrayston@defencereport.com