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Reassessing Maritime Dynamics of the Arctic Ocean

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The Arctic Ocean is defined by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), to consist of the circular portion of waters around the geographical North Pole. It does not encompass the surrounding seas, of the Barents, the Kara, and the Beaufort seas. The term ‘Arctic Ocean’ is used to describe all the waters of the North Polar Region that are above the North Polar Circle. States which have direct access to the Arctic waters are Iceland, Denmark (through Greenland), and Norway. During the Cold War, the Arctic involved hardcore security dimension involving nuclear and conventional competition. In the more contemporary times; economics, energy, and environmental aspects of security, have added to the already present conflict over sovereignty rights.

The Cold War era, involved the Arctic region to be perceived from the East–West hostility. In the 1950s, Arctic was the direct route from one superpower’s territory to the other. Since the introduction of nuclear submarines, it became a sanctuary and an outpost for the SSBNs. After the cessation of bipolar hostilities, the tensions gradually diminished and the risk of an all-out nuclear war with Russia was deemed rather less conceivable. Nevertheless, international developments indicating for a waning US power and emergence of a multi-polar order; has brought the states to once again strongly rely on submarine based nuclear deterrence. Added to that, the enlargement of NATO, has restricted the global maritime domain of the Russian Navy. Therefore, the northern waters provide the Russian Navy an access, which is likely to increase with anticipated melting of the polar ice caps. US similarly considers the region as strategically valuable in the context of their missile defense programme. The Thule radar located in Greenland have been upgraded to contribute to the early warning missile defence network.

NATO post-Cold War involvement and activities in the Arctic region decreased, as Russia was not perceived to be as great a direct threat as before. The discovery that the Arctic seabed conceals about 25 percent of the world’s remaining petroleum resources has transformed the region into a “top-of-the-agenda” strategic area. The melting of the polar ice cap will make the Northern Sea Route, along Russia’s northern coast and the Northwest Passage that is across Canada’s northern islands; valuable for trade between the Atlantic and the Pacific in the coming decades, engendering a significant reduction of the length of the route compared to the Suez–Malacca or the Panama routes. Moreover, the freeing of large portions of sea will allow exploitation of resources, including petroleum and fish, far away into the Arctic Ocean. Thus, the melting of the polar ice cap will open up new transportation routes as well as create new opportunities to exploit natural resources; this may in turn engender a militarisation of the Arctic.

In the Arctic region, the end of the Cold War opened the door to new processes of international, regional, or trans-regional cooperation. Thus, numerous initiatives fostering security and non-security cooperation have developed in the region: the Arctic Environmental protection Strategy (1991), the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (1993), the Arctic Council (1996), the CBSS (1992), the EU Northern Dimension (1997), and the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation (1996). As these forums were created in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union their aim was to provide forums outside the security arena, in order to foster cooperation in non-military fields. With ‘business as usual’ the EU’s energy import dependence will jump from 50 percent of total EU energy consumption today to 65 percent in 2030. Reliance on imports of gas is expected to increase from 57 percent to 84 percent by 2030, and of oil from 82 percent to 93 percent. Securing energy has not only an economic and an environmental dimension, but also a strong political, diplomatic, and security dimension. Competition for petroleum will increase, and the majority of the reserves are located in unstable countries and regions. It means that securing energy could require proactive policies, or even the use of force. Thus the Arctic commands a significant stature in the policy consideration.

Concluding, it can be said that Artic region predominates the hard security concerns. Although present situation cannot be compared with the Cold War escalations, the principles of realism based on an action and reaction strategy remain the cornerstone behind the relationship between US/NATO- Russia relationship in the Artic. The Russian Navy’s large exercises in the Barents Sea are documented to usually be followed by an increase in NATO presence and surveillance activities in the region. Moreover, the problems of sovereignty also illustrate the basic character of the frontiers in the Arctic region. China is the latest entrant in the power politics in the Artic. According to White Paper document it considers the Northern Passage as an “international strait”. The People’s Republic has plans to initiate what is called a “Polar Silk Road” to become an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative to make productive use of shipping routes. In an address, former Norwegian defence minister Strom Erichsen had stated:

“Here in the High North global warming may open up potential natural resources that until now have been inaccessible. New sea lanes will shorten long distance routes considerably. Exciting opportunities will present themselves. Yet, competition and potential conflicts may be lurking in a future that suddenly is not so distant any longer”

Zaeem Hassan Mehmood, is an alumnus of National Defence University, Islamabad. He is serving as Research Associate at National Centre for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR)

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Defense

A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces

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The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.

The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.

The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.

This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.

Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.

Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.

Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.

Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.

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Defense

Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS

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Islamabad: It seems like 2021 has been a good start for Pakistan specifically with regard to stepping up its missile testing. On the 7th of January, the Pakistan military has successfully conducted a purely indigenously developed missile test flight known to be Fatah-1. As stated by various reports, Fatah-1 is an extended-range Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which itself is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family.

According to the recent statement given by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the newly developed rocket, it was stated: “The weapon system will give Pakistan Army capability of a precision target deep in the enemy territory.” Director-General of Pakistan Army, Media Wing, major general Babar Iftikhar on 7th January tweeted: “Pakistan today conducted a successful; test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, capable of delivering a conventional Warhead up to a range of 140 km.”

Defense analyst Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali also stated in his capacity: “the new system was very fast, accurate, survivable, and difficult to intercept”. A video was also shared by ISPR on their official website, in which the missile launch can be seen while being fired from the launcher however, the details on when and where the test flight has taken place, along with the specification of the rocket system are yet to be announced.

Currently, Pakistan Army owns a wide range of Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Rocket Artillery, and Surface to Surface Cruise Missile (SSCM). In the previous year, Pakistan had also maintained prime success in conducting the Ra’ad-II cruise missile and Ghaznavi surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM). Besides, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 30thDecember made apt progress when it comes to the national air defense arsenal as it was announced that PAF is beginning the production of the State-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets, at the same time acquiring the 14 dual-seat Jf-17 aircraft.

According to various reports, the JF-17 Thunder Block 3 will be said to have a new radar operational capability which will be far better in the practical domain as compared to the Raphael aircraft acquired by India. Whereas, the exchange of 14 dual-seat aircraft, manufactured with Pak-China cooperation were also given to the PAF which will be used for extensive training.

The recent successful testing of Fatah-1 has been considered to be another milestone for Pakistan as it tends to be a fitting response to the recent developments in the conventional capabilities carried out by India and also to India’s Cold Start Doctrine.

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Defense

Aspects of the American maritime strategy

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Let’s start from a premise that should be completely obvious from a strategic point of view: Any maritime strategy, whether the English one – from the eighteenth century to the Second World War – or the American one, is necessarily a long-term strategy and therefore requires long-term investments by looking for where it is possible to anticipate future challenges. We think in this regard of the nuclear aircraft carriers of the Gerald Ford class whose first series should be put into place next year. If the United States has decided to invest substantial resources in the context of the projection of maritime power this depends on the need to consolidate its naval power, consolidation possible both thanks to the economic and financial power they have at least until today and thanks to technological innovation. (let’s think both of the fact for example that the USA is the only nation that builds catapults for flat deck aircraft carriers and to the fact that with the new class of Ford aircraft carriers the Navy will equip itself with electromagnetic catapults that will be able to increase by about one third the current capabilities of the catapults).

Of course, such large investments on the aircraft carrier front are certainly not accidental since these play a fundamental role of traditional deterrence – both in the sense of being able to threaten armed intervention in the event of a crisis – and of nuclear deterrence as long as the aircraft departing from the aircraft carriers being equipped with nuclear weapons, albeit with low potential, they play a very important deterrent role. In short, the aircraft carrier allows the use of gradual or flexible deterrence.

But in order for the US naval power to be effectively consolidated – especially in the context of the Indo-Pacific and therefore as a function of anti-Chinese containment – today as yesterday (we allude to the cold war) the American military infrastructures present in key strategic junctions on a global level allows it to exercise its naval power effectively: the strengthening of the military partnership with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines must be read just as a renewed interest on the part of the American in the fundamental role of naval power. all these reasons together can only lead us to define the United States as a real modern thalassocracy.

It is no coincidence, on the other hand, that the Obama administration has turned its attention to East and South Asia starting from the realization that the future of the world is at stake in these geopolitical contexts.

In fact, on the front of economic competition with China, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed in 2016, a treaty to which – among others – Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, excluding China. Barack Obama has spelled out his foreign policy program, called The Obama Doctrine, rejecting isolationism and supporting multilateralism. In other words Obama has explicitly pursued the tradition of realism embodied by “senior” Bush and by Scowcroft military interventions, too often supported by the State Department, the Pentagon, and think tanks, should only be used where America is under imminent and direct threat. In an environment where the greatest dangers are now climate, financial or nuclear, it is up to US allies to shoulder their share of the common burden. While agreeing that the relationship with China will be the most critical of all, his political program emphasizes that everything will depend on Beijing’s ability to take on its international responsibilities in a peaceful environment. If it did not do so and allowed itself to be conquered by nationalism, America will have to be resolute and take all initiatives aimed at strengthening its multilateralism in the function of anti-Chinese containment. It is therefore very likely that the current US president Biden will carry out a strategy of this nature.

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