For the Night of 20 January 2010
South Korea: Defense Minister Kim Tae Young today chief called for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea if there is a clear indication the country is preparing a nuclear attack, The Associated Press reported on 21 January. During a seminar in Seoul, Defense Minister Kim said South Korea should "immediately launch a strike" on the North if there is a clear intention of a pending nuclear attack.
This is the doctrine of Launch on Tactical Warning (LOTW). It means that South Korea has no intention of riding out a first strike by the North and then retaliating, which is India's announced nuclear policy, for example. Another option would be to launch while under attack, that is when enemy missiles are in the air but before they have hit their targets.
The success of an LOTW policy hinges on the fidelity and detail of intelligence on enemy missile activities, so as to avoid strategic error because of a misinterpretation of enemy activities. On the other hand, LOTW tends to throw caution to the wind and puts the burden on the enemy to clarify his activities as non-threatening.
LOTW is a fail safe doctrine that forces the enemy to try to launch while under attack, if he can. Not mentioned are the complex issues associated with working with US intelligence. The implication is the South Koreans would make their own decisions for their national safety, but would certainly inform the US. If it adopts an LOTW strike doctrine, the South would not be looking for American approval or agreement.
China: On 20 January, senior government leaders honored eight Chinese peacekeepers who died in the Haitian earthquake. Haiti is one of the first peacekeeping missions to which the Chinese contributed policemen.
Pakistan: The Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan Agency has agreed to a set of government demands in order to return responsibility to the tribe, a senior government official said today, according to Bloomberg. A senior Mehsud official said the tribe accepts the government's demands in principle, but it will need time because members are currently not in the region.
Government demands include the handing over of 382 wanted militants and an agreement that the tribe not facilitate terrorism.
On the surface, the agreement with the Mehsuds looks a lot like all the other failed agreements with tribal groups in the northwest since Musharraf's time. The significant point implied is that the government apparently has no intention of altering the autonomy of the tribal agencies.
The insertion of federal security forces thus has been an expedient but temporary measure to restore order, with limited goals and duration. Responsibility for good order in the Agency reverts to the tribes.
Some analysts opined that the Pakistan Army and security force operations in South Waziristan portended a fundamental change in the political relationship between the Center and the tribes. Thos opinions seem to have been premature. The Pakistan Army did what the British during the Raj: marched a column in; shot a few Mehsuds or Wazirs; cleared the roads; put down the rebellion; sort of; and declared victory. This looks more like a movie script than a serious effort to end attacks by Mehsud militants.
Afghanistan: For the record. The Afghan government announced its goals for expanding its security forces in the next three to five years. The plan calls for security force levels to reach 400,000, including 240,000 soldiers and 160,000 national police, the Associated Press reported today.
At present Afghanistan claims to have 94,000 police officers and 97,000 soldiers. A British Colonel who is a member of the planning team for the security forces said that the team would be asked to approve a goal of 134,000 soldiers and 109,000 police by the end of this year. That would increase to 172,000 soldiers and 134,000 police by the end of next year.
The numbers are mainly on paper. The purpose of this entry is to update readers about the official numbers.
The literacy rate and level of familiarity with technology are so low that the goal of adding 40,000 soldiers this year is not credible and can only be a paper drill. In the past 8 years, the annual average increase has been just over 11,700 soldiers and more than half desert. What would make anyone think an increase of 40,000 soldiers, regardless of their lack of capability, was achievable this year? Moreover, while Afghanistan needs more police, it urgently needs paramilitary police.
Iran: Eerie. President Ahmadi-Nejad said today Iran plans to drop "zeros" from its currency, the rial, Mehr News Agency reported. Iran plans to knock three zeros from the rial so it can recover value it has lost in recent years. The President said, "We are due to remove zeros from the currency... because for some reasons the rial has depreciated and we should bring its real value back."
The rial has dropped on international exchanges from 70 to the US dollar at the time of the Islamic revolution in 1979 to around 10,000 rials to the dollar today. Central Bank chief Mahmoud Bahmani told reporters on Wednesday that he expected "one dollar to become even more expensive in the next year." The country's inflation rate stands at 13.5 percent and has been slowly falling since October 2008 when it hit a peak of around 30 percent.
This action is uncannily similar in effect to North Korea's currency reform. Expect Iranians to react negatively, at least as strongly as the North Koreans who staged money riots.
Poland-US: US Patriot missiles, arriving soon, will be located in Morag, Poland, rather than the outskirts of Warsaw, DPA reported, citing a Polish Defense Ministry spokesman. The town was chosen because it provided appropriate accommodations and technology for the missile battery, the spokesman said. The daily Wyborcza was told the decision was not of a strategic nature.
Morag is about 60 miles (100 km) from the border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad rather than near Warsaw, the Polish defense minister said. Polish Radio cited Bogdan Klich as saying, "In Morag we could offer the best conditions for American soldiers and the best technical base for the equipment."
Ria Novosti reported the Patriot unit will be manned by some 100 U.S. soldiers, and will comprise up to eight missile launchers. The first U.S. troop rotation is expected to arrive in Poland by the end of March. Russian opposition to the missile defense system culminated in a public threat to deploy Iskander-M tactical ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave. Last September President Obama shelved the proposed Central European missile shield and Russia said it would not place its missiles near the Polish border. The Russian government has not yet reacted to today's announcement.
The basing decision has several not so obvious implications. First, the Patriot battery will be Poland's hostage to guarantee a NATO and US response, in the event of trouble on Poland's eastern frontier that NATO or the US chose to play down. US ground forces in South Korean perform the same function.
Whereas the Czechs intend to clarify that the members will honor Article V to defend its eastern European members, the Poles have taken a hostage. The Czech Republic is supposed to contain the base for the radars.
Second, the battery will be directly opposite Kaliningrad, which is where Russian leaders announced last year they would base a theater missile battery to target Poland and the Czech Republic.
Third, it appears to rely on bilateral agreements to skirt the alliance issues about which President Obama assured the Russians. They are likely to see this basing action as a bait and switch sharp practice.
Note to new analysts: When national leaders deny the strategic significance of an action such as missile basing, they are dissembling to reinforce the opposite conclusion. Actions that have no strategic significance tend to be self-evident. Denials always confirm the opposite conclusion. That seems to be their primary purpose.
UK-Yemen: The United Kingdom has suspended direct flights from Yemen until security measures are improved, Reuters reported, citing a statement today by British Prime Minister Brown. Brown said the decision was reached after consulting with Yemenia airlines, and that it is effective immediately.
The problem with this measure is that security in some European and South Asian international air hubs that do fly directly to the UK is not any better than that in Yemen. The trip from Yemen to, say, Pakistan is longer and not direct for a would-be bomber, but the result is the same.
Honduras-Dominican Republic: Honduran President-elect Porfirio Lobo said today that he would allow ousted President Manuel Zelaya and his family safe passage to the Dominican Republic, La Prensa reported. Zelaya reportedly might leave the country on 27 January as a distinguished guest of the Dominican Republic.
This arrangement offers the promise of closure, provided Zelaya stops his incitement to insurrection against the government of Honduras.
Concerning the Dominican Republic, one news source warned that the Haitian crisis is draining the Dominican Republic of medical resources for its citizens. Readers might hope that US officials have foreseen this obvious ripple effect and has plans to help the Dominican Republican government maintain stability and public health. Price gouging for everything must be out of control in the Dom Rep and all nearby countries.
End of NightWatch for 20 January.
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