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NightWatch 20100909


For the Night of 9 September 2010

China-Japan: A Foreign Ministry source said Beijing has deployed a "law enforcement ship" to the region in the East China Sea where a Chinese trawler collided with two Japanese coast guard vessels.

The action is an effort to protect Chinese fishermen, the Ministry said.

A ministry spokeswoman called Tokyo's intentions to apply Japanese domestic law to the case of the Chinese trawler that rammed a Japanese coast guard ship absurd and illegal. The spokeswoman suggested the case could have a serious impact on bilateral relations.

A Japanese coast guard spokeswoman said an inspection of the trawler has begun, as well as an interrogation of the 14 fishermen who were on board. The fishing boat is docked off Ishigaki Island in Okinawa prefecture.

Comment: Japanese commentaries about the event conclude the Chinese trawler deliberately rammed the Coast Guard ships so as to create an incident. The Chinese reaction seems to reinforce that Japanese conclusion rather than refute it, as might have been expected from an emerging regional leader, as the Chinese describe their nation.

The Chinese have responded with increased law enforcement capabilities instead of a statesmanlike appeal to maintain regional stability. The stationing of one or more law enforcement ships in a disputed maritime region of East Asia matches one of several Chinese tactics for asserting China's claims to the South China Sea  up to the limits of the territorial seas of Southeast Asian states.

India-Jammu and Kashmir State: During meeting on 8 September, Prime Minister Singh told Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) can be partially revoked in six areas. The AFSPA reportedly will be withdrawn from Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam in Kashmir region, and Jammu, Samba and Kathua in Jammu region, because they have experienced relatively less violence over the past year.

Comment: The significance of the federal action is to open a half dozen districts (\roughly counties in the US) in each part of Jammu and Kashmir State to normal tourism and commercial activity. It is good news, while reducing the profile and visibility of security forces.

This is a risky step by the Prime Minister in his program to try to restore civil normality in the state, because the announcement makes each district a potential magnet for separatist subversion and violence. Nevertheless it is a vote of confidence in the districts and the security forces. This is a study in democracy.

Iran-US: The government announced it will release on 11 September one of the three Americans who have been jailed for more than a year as spies.

Comment: Freeing of prisoners is a ritual associated with the end of Ramadan. The released captive also happens to be the one with the most fragile health conditions, of the three.

The death of an American in Iranian captivity would be a public relations disaster for the ayatollahs. Aside from avoiding the adverse consequences of a potential American death in an Iranian jail, the government move also conveys that Iran is more enlightened and forgiving than the US and that Islam is a morally superior religion.

Moral superiority is always the refuge of the militarily weak. The release of a criminal/enemy at the end of Ramadan is an Islamic custom not a conciliatory overture to the West.

Israel: Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have increased exercises in preparation for war, and approved live-fire training for a reservist brigade, IDF Ground Forces chief Major General Sami Turgeman told the press on 9 September. Israel's enemies, including Syria, Hezbollah and other groups, are currently arming themselves, and while a confrontation with Hezbollah would be very challenging, IDF is becoming an all-around more powerful force, Turgeman said.

Comment: Ignoring the public relations bravado, Turgeman divulged some of diagnostic information when he said a reservist brigade had been recalled to engage in live fire training. The language is ambiguous because all reservists must undergo annual training. Still this training seldom is reported, if ever.

Two data points stand out. First is the mention that a large reserve combat maneuver unit is training apparently as a unit. Most national forces train reserve units in thirds.

In India, for example, it will take three years for all units of an active duty division to accomplish the complete training regimen for a division. Reserve units take longer.

Training of a single reserve brigade as a brigade is worth noting and reinforces the propaganda objectives of General Turgeman of using action to back up warnings of the limits of Israel's patience.

The much more salient data point is the reference to live fire training by a brigade. Use of live ammunition always signifies serious intent because of the expense.

The data points do no indicate a general war, but the do point to some kind of serious ground force action against one or other of the targets mentioned in the press statement, backed by at least one trained reservist brigade.

NightWatch Special Announcement:

Kforce Government Solutions (KGS) is pleased to announce that it will sponsor the first ever short course entitled "NightWatch Concepts of Analysis" on the afternoon of 29 September at the AFCEA auditorium. The Instructor/Facilitator will be Mr. John F. McCreary, founder of NightWatch.

Please follow the link below to register for the course and to obtain further information about the course, the instructor, the location and the fee schedule.

End of NightWatch for 9 September.

NightWatch is brought to you by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.

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