* Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s Minister for Defence, presented a full-spectrum vision of what his country’s defenses might look like in 2030. In a nutshell: highly technological, and highly integrated.
North Korea Still Bad to the Bone Marrow
* Russia to Crimea: you’re welcome.
* The US and Europe seem to think they have significant leverage on Russia. First question: does Putin really care about the type of financial and travel impediments discussed so far? Second question: how would NATO finish its Afghan drawdown were the Northern Distribution Network to be unavailable, given how unreliable the Pakistani option has proven to be? Russia has a few things the West wants too…
* Surely the timing is a coincidence, part 1: Russia wants the IMF to move ahead on reforms that would diminish the USA’s sole gatekeeper role in the fund.
* Surely the timing is a coincidence, part 2: The mysterious US Navy ship reported to have been authorized through the Turkish straights on its way to the Black Sea is the USS Truxtun (DDG 103) destroyer. For routine exercises scheduled long ago, of course. And the US is going to beef up its participation in an exercise in Poland next week.
* Surely the timing is a coincidence, part 3: Russia is starting a large scale air defense drill in its Western Military District near Ukraine.
* China continues to project studied ambiguity about its position on Ukraine, despite what Foreign Policy or the Council for Foreign Relations would have you believe. But if 10 days from now, a Crimean snap referendum were to report 70% support (maybe with a little help) for reattachment to Russia, expect the Chinese to keep looking the other way.
China’s Momentous Internal Challenges
* The Chinese may be boosting their defense budget, but they are also starting to acknowledge the depth of their very serious environmental issues, from air quality to water scarcity. China is engaged in water infrastructure work of unprecedented scale, but this type of project often backfires. Water rights are an ongoing cause of tension throughout Central Asia, among the “Stans” as well as between China and its Western neighbors.
Supply Chain Risk Management
* The latest issue of CrossTalk [PDF] is dedicated to the mitigation of risks posed by counterfeit and tainted components. They note that in the absence of proper “hygiene”, software can become a serious liability even in the absence of a malicious act.
Defense and Aerospace Workforce Challenges
* Today’s video comes from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)’s workforce development panel from their SciTech 2014 in January: