Saturday, July 13, 2013

IDF 5 year reforms, Belfast rioting, Syria rebel hostilities, Moyes first game

1) The Israeli Military has announced plans to update their force posture over the next five years. The major elements of these proposals include a reduction in the IDF officer corps and a greater focus on highly mobile weapon platforms like the Spike NLOS. At the forefront of these developments is a focus on potential future conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah. Recognizing the relative immobility of Israeli forces during the 2006 Lebanon war, the IDF wants to ensure that this hindrance is reduced before another outbreak of violence. Israel understands that in order to defeat enemies like Hamas/Hezbollah - which rely upon small skirmishing groups of highly mobile rocket teams etc. the IDF must be able to employ its own weapon systems that allow for the timely engagement of their adversaries. Cognizant of the sensitivities with which Israeli military operations are viewed internationally, the Israelis also know that they need weapons that are highly discriminate - IE - mechanisms that minimize the likelihood of civilian casualties. In another sense, the IDF also seems to be building front line deployments around their most aggressive, operationally experienced units. That makes sense - the IDF recognizes the vulnerabilities of relying upon fresh forces in critical operations.
                However, on a more negative note, it appears that the IDF will cut spending on training operations. That's a risky proposition - dependency on technological assets cannot offset the loss of basic competencies. As a broader observation, I find it pretty staggering that the Israelis are willing to cut defense spending amidst ongoing regional instability.

2) Serious rioting broke out in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Friday. The problems arose when British loyalist marchers were prevented from walking through an Irish nationalist area of the city. This behavior is pathetic. As evidenced in footage of the scuffles, many of the aggressors were young men - probably drunk. They wanted an excuse for violence. It's deeply disappointing that occasional outbreaks of disorder like this one still occur in Northern Ireland. Though the situation is far more peaceful than it once was, sectarian hatred nevertheless remains a real problem. In a less serious but similarly interesting vein, it's worth checking out today's NY Times story on the challenges that top golfer, Rory McIlroy is forced to navigate in his home country.

3) Tensions between Syria's various rebel forces have reached a boiling point. Many will argue that these hostilities necessitate greater US detachment from the conflict. On the contrary, I believe the opposite is true. At one point or another, the US was going to have to face up to the Salafist extremist threat inside Syria. As I've argued before, the US must use all of our influence to support the nationalist minded elements of the rebellion. Such a course (though admittedly risky) would allow us to support those forces who would be best placed to replace Assad with a semi-stable, pro-western government. Disengagement is not an option. Supported by the Putin mafia and supplemented by forces from Iran and Hizballah, Assad's regime has turned the tide of the conflict. We must alter this strategic equation.

4) David Moyes has lost his first game in charge of Manchester United. It's a shame, but this game was largely irrelevant. I'm confident that Moyes will be a highly successful manager for Britain's biggest club. Regardless, I'm very much looking forward to the start of the Premier League season in a month's time. With Pellegrini at Manchester City, Mourinho back at Chelsea and Fulham under ownership of a major investor, this should be an exciting year of soccer. The battle for the top four spots will be fierce; from my perspective, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Tottenham (and of course Everton!) all have a good opportunity to reach the Champions League.

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