May 2007


People’s Liberation Army

One of the most powerful military forces in the world, China is an intense process of modernization, currently spending approximately 4.3% of its GDP on defence (according to CIA World Factbook).

Although much of the PLA equipment is outdated, it is believed that this will not last for long. In a direct conflict, China will always have an advantage not through its technological superiority but through the shear number of its forces.

Rough numbers regarding its forces:

Land forces

1.6 million army manpower
7,580 tanks
2,000 light tanks
3,500 APCs (excluding light tanks)
3,600 self-propelled artillery and MRL(rocket lunchers)
17,700 other artillery pieces

453 helicopters

More than a half of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) tanks (7200) are composed of the aging Type 59 and Type 69, which are the Chinese versions of the Russian T-54/55 tank, and outdated model that entered service in 1951.

T-55 is still in use in Russia, but as a reserve force, the Russian MBT (Main Battle Tank) is the T-72 and T-80, which are far superior.

In the 80s, Chinese have developed new types of tanks, the Type 80, which lead to the Type 88, and Type 85, which was further improved into the Type 96. Type 96 has been made in a series of versions, each one being an improvement of the other (Type 96, 98, 99). The Type 9x series is capable of competing with the tanks of other modern armies. However, only about 1000 Type 80/88 are now in service and the numbers for the Type 96 are unknown but believed to be around 2000, still even considering these numbers their force should not be underestimated.

The Type 96/99:

Air forces

400,000 personnel
1,250 jet fighters
222 bombers
1,169 ground attack jets
80 helicopters
296 transport aircraft

Most of the Jet fighters are composed of J-7 and J-8, which are Chinese versions of the Russian MIG-19 and MIG-21. These are old models dating from the 1960s and 1970s. They are in a desperate need of change if China wants to have any say concerning air power.

Currently there are about 100 J-11 which are almost the same as the Russian Su-27, a challanger to the American F-16. They are part of the modernization of Chinese Military forces.

Naval forces

250,000 sailors
37 submarines (7 Nuclear-Powered and 30 Diesel-Electric)
21 destroyers
42 frigates

As with the other Chinese forces, most of the naval forces are based on Russian weaponry or have been purchased from Russia. They are also out-dated, but new equipment that is more modern has been lately on the shopping list, including a Chinese-built aircraft carrier and new ballistic missiles submarines. The Navy has about 600 fighter jets (F-4, F-5, F-6, F-7), Chinese versions of vintage types of Russian MIGs.

Strategic forces

China has about 46 intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the US after suffering a first strike. Apart from this, China has about 800 short and median range ballistic missiles and its currently developing more accurate and improved-range missiles. China’s cybernetic warfare capabilities are not very well known, yet it is suspected that they have been testing them in series of “virtual” attacks.

type-96.jpg

source for most information on numbers is http://www.csis.org/

In the next few days, I will start posting some videos and info about some of the world’s most powerful military forces. I would like to say that most of the videos are from youtube and are meant to show off the countries military might, so the true strength of these powers may not be as impressive as it seems.

If any of you guys decide to join the military after seeing these posts, do not blame me.

This is the list of countries I will be posting about (alphabetic order):

China

Russian Federation

United Kingdom

United States of America

Other European countries: France, Germany.

If you know any other country that deserves to make the list, please let me know.

fire.jpg

The first round of the French presidential elections was 2 weeks ago, and as expected, the top tow candidates: Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy made it to the second round, which takes place this weekend. The struggle between the two has been fierce, with both not only having their pride and ambitions at stake, but also the future of their parties and the future of their country. The winner will undoubtedly influence France’s position in the world and in the global economy, and give a new direction to the policy of EU.

The Basics

Royal, as the candidate of the French Socialist Party (PS), promised to roll back some of the reforms put in place by the current government (greater worker flexibility for companies, diminished social nets and more openness to trade and world competition), and revive the moribund welfare state (a type of economy that most of the world abandoned 15 years ago). She is also more attuned to improving education, healthcare, and encouraging tolerance in public institutions.

Sarkozy on the other hand, whom was Minister of the State and Minister of the Interior in the current government, has supported neo-conservative solutions for France. As member of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), he is known for having a tough response on the riots of 2005 and being quite intolerant to immigrants. He has supported the dismantling of the welfare state, a neoliberal approach similar to that of Margaret Thatcher, more openness to the international markets and encouraging firms to be more competitive.

However, as the election campaign advanced, their initial electoral programs started to change and slowly move towards the centre. Broadly speaking, Sarkozy tempered his initial economic reforms and Royal gave up on some of the promises for a powerful welfare state. Yet, no one can be sure what they will actually do if elected, in an election campaign candidates tend to do whatever it takes to get more votes, what happens next… well, I think we all know that by now.

Going International

In the past years, under the lead of President Jacques René Chirac, France has fallen to some degree in an international shadow cone.
It distant itself from US and UK, it has tried to improve its ties with Germany (although Germany now likes to go more on its own) and kept on showing to the world that France is still important and that it can be an alternative to the “mean’ol Americans”. France fuelled this idea of an alternative into the European Union, but the Union does not have that power to challenge US hegemony; ironically, it was France’s “NO” to the European Constitution that gridlocked the European project.
Ségolène Royal wants to continue the legacy of Jacques Chirac, it wants to make EU a sort of peaceful alternative to US (although I do not really know how that might go along with UK). She wants a strong and better-coordinated policy in EU and a better emphasize o social and environmental issues. Sarkozy on the other hand is more realistic, he understands that France has a lot to win from its friendship with USA, and playing a counter-American role will only encourage national pride but not a better and important role on the international stage. He understands that EU has its problems and understands the need for a rethinking of its role and powers, but how well he actually understands this can be debatable.

The outcome?

Initially the two candidates were pledging for almost opposite policies but as the election campaign advanced, they both started to fall more to the centre in order to gain more votes. However, this slide has not provoked critical turns or changes in their initial promises, just a milder version of their original program.
Its all to the French to decide wants better for them, and fortunately, they will make the right choice. The last polls show that Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy (Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa) has a small lead against Ms. Ségolène Royal (Marie-Ségolène Royal), the outcome is still mostly undecided, but in roughly 24 hours, it will be all over.

Nicolas SarkozySégolène Royal

Yesterday, a friend from USA showed me this video, it appears to be made by Germans as a tribute to the US Army. Even so, it is still amazing, and in many ways catches the essence of what the US Army is right now in the world, or at least what it is supposed to be.

Enjoy it!

In the past few months, things have been unfolding in a quite peculiar way for Russia. After the assassination of the former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in November 2006 (a case with many ups and turns) and the anti-American remarks of President Vladimir Putin in early February this year (2007), this April we had a clear sign from Moscow that Russia will continue with more surprises. Russia is tired of listening to the rhetoric of the Western-Russian “friendship”, Russia is tired of just going with the American lead West that, while advocating friendship, it pursues its own interests. It would be naïve to think that Russia will forever keep its head down because it lost the Cold War. It has been 20 years since then, obviously, things have changed…

The problem – What is it this time?

USA, has been planning in building a radar and an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic, apparently these plans are about to become reality and Russia is not happy about it. America is arguing that these anti-missile facilities are to protect NATO from possible new threats of ‘”rogue states” like Iran’ (Condoleezza Rice). However, Russia “claims” it is not that stupid in believing this American non-sense. If US wants protection from Iran, it would build such facilities in Hungary, Greece, Romania or Bulgaria, which are closer to Iran and more on its hypothetical ballistic missiles trajectories. One should also take in consideration that it would not make any sense for Russia to be upset about these facilities if it did not consider them a threat. After all, Russian intelligent service probably knows more than we will ever do and there is little doubt that they would not know precisely why NATO needs anti-ballistic missiles in the heart of Poland.

But what can you do?

On the 26th of April, Vladimir Putin, in his address to the nation, not only criticised NATO for its practices and disregards towards its big and powerful neighbour but he also suspended a key treaty with this organization (The Conventional Forces in Europe [CFE]). “A major 1990 agreement limiting troop deployments in NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries” – AFP. However if you look in depth of this treaty, questions arise…

Why has this treaty only been ratified by Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, none of which are NATO members? Why is NATO asking for Russia to retreat troops from Moldova and Georgia in exchange for ratifying the treaty? If Western countries want to encourage peace, why does Russia have to retreat troops that by no means are a threat to Western security?

Even this treaty does not seem like credible evidence to support the idea of equal partnership between Russia and the Western world. It is clear that Russia is being disadvantaged and any rational being realizes that Kremlin will not put up with this forever.

How about the future?

Fortune-tellers say they can tell the future, but in reality, little is known about the future. USA will probably continue to defy Russia, at least officially, but Russia will not tolerate this forever. However, at a more subtle level, there are attempts by Washington to use its diplomacy in order to solve any misunderstandings. It is all up to the wisdom of both actors to come to a solution, if not, one can only expect the worse.

News sources:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6172700.stm

http://www.afp.com/english/news/stories/070426200606.tezpacmb.html

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=2046393742348211186

Putin