Submarine Matters provides an expanding database on submarines worldwide. Australia should contract in 2016 to only buy a batch of 6 Shortfins - then, in the 2030s, decide whether to buy: 6 more Shortfins or 6 Barracuda SSNs or 4 Virginia SSNs. With increasing numbers of Chinese, Russian and Indian SSNs in Australia's region Australia's Shortfins cannot attain any 2016 Defence White Paper goal of being "regionally superior". Australia would need to buy SSNs to be "superior".
June 23, 2014
Iraq: the ISIS crisis
Something I had published on Australia's ON LINE opinion on Friday June 20, 2014 http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16422 indicating "The US is neither all-seeing nor all-powerful. Australia, if it wants to be active in Iraq, cannot act alone so it must follow some country’s lead. With the US inevitably pivoting to Eastern European commitments (Ukraine) and Middle Eastern commitments (ISIS) Australia needs to contribute in some way to the shifting geo-political picture." :
The bloody progression of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rebel forces to the outskirts of Baghdad continues with a wide range of outcomes possible. The rapid expansion of ISIS (also known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)) has come as a shock. This article attempts to present some issues that have received inadequate attention in mainstream media reporting on the ISIS crisis.
Although Islamic Sunni-Shiite hatreds have existed for around 1,400 years the Sunni rebels of ISIS are an unusually violent problem. This map gives one idea of how central Iraq is in the region and of the refugee (internally displaced people (IDPs)) problem created by ISIS’ advance. This smaller map is of the ISIS advance itself.
ISIS’ presence in Syria and Iraq is probably boosting the risk of international terrorism. It is Iraq’s huge amounts of oil, however, that differentiate Iraq from Syria. Several years of frequent suicide bombings in Iraq have sparked little media attention but ISIS seizing Iraqi regional cities and oilfields has rattled surrounding countries and is driving up world oil prices.
Unlike Syria, with few Westerners, Iraq hosts a large Western foreign contractor-government employee presence due mainly to oil.The UK Daily Mailreports that the US embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone has around 5,000 personnel making it the largest US embassy in the world. This may indicate that that US embassy is part of a huge diplomatic cocktail circuit or perhaps it has other functional priorities?
Sunni dominated governments, including Saudi Arabia and smaller Arab Gulf states, are nervous that regionally powerful Iranian forces may combine with Iraq’s to present a large Shiite military threat. Hence ISIS is semi-openly recruiting in Saudi Arabia. Iraq’s neighbours and the international economy generally are also concerned about rapid fluctuations in world oil price and production levels caused by the ISIS crisis.
Baghdad’s location might make a Western evacuation by helicopter or road difficult. Baghdad is a 1,200 km round trip from the US fleet in the Persian Gulf and alternatively it would be a long trip by road south to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. Baghdad is however a short road or helicopter trip to the Iranian border, hence Western talks with Iran probably include evacuation scenarios.
It was unclear whether Abbott’s comments relating to Iraq (when he met President Obama several days ago) ran too far in advance of any consultation with the Australian public, Parliament or Abbott’s own party room (see this youtube). How Australia could aid any US military or evacuation effort is a question mark. Australian assistance might be in the shape of use of one of Australia’s new E-7A Wedgetail aircraft for force communication or one of our Orions to gather intelligence. If the Iraq crisis runs into weeks or months the deployment of one of our ANZAC frigates might contribute to the US fleet effort. Some Australian army special forces might also be sent to contribute to the protection force [written before the Australian Government announced it was sending 30 SAS to Baghdad as a protection force] for the Western community in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
In the last 48 hours Iraq has formerly asked the US to launch airstrikes against ISIS. Critics from the right and left will damn the US for anything it does or doesn’t do. The US is neither all-seeing nor all-powerful. Australia, if it wants to be active in Iraq, cannot act alone so it must follow some country’s lead. With the US inevitably pivoting to Eastern European commitments (Ukraine) and Middle Eastern commitments (ISIS) Australia needs to contribute in some way to the shifting geo-political picture. Pete