Toward a More Humane PLA

The PLA and International Humanitarian Law: Achievements and Challenges
Lt. Col. Wang Wenjuan
Institute for Security and Development Policy
October 2013

English: A Chinese soldier with the People's L...

English: A Chinese soldier with the People’s Liberation Army waits to assist with American and Chinese delegation’s traffic at Shenyang training base, China, March 24, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even leaving aside the tragic events of June 1989, speaking of the humanitarian record of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seems almost an oxymoron. We simply do not think of the PLA in those terms.

Wang Wenjuan does, though, and in her paper she makes a clear case that China’s military leaders are at least going through the motions. She documents the understanding international humanitarian law (IHL) at the highest levels of command, the degree to which it is integrated into PLA training and indoctrination programs, and the fact that the PLA is even engaged in “research” into humanitarian law.

What matters, of course, is the behavior of the force on the battlefield and in the administration of areas captured and occupied in combat, or areas administered under a peacekeeping mandate. In the two decades during which Wang suggests that the PLA has been in compliance with IHL, the force has never faced a true test of its resolve. And there lies the rub.

In language designed carefully not to place her career in jeopardy, LTC Wang makes clear that more effort is needed to ensure that the PLA behaves in the field according to its professed ideals. History has proven that this is a tall order even for the armed forces of democratic powers (Amritsar, My Lai, and Abu Ghraib, for example.) The PLA has much to prove, and Wang understands that the PLA has a long way to go before it can face such a test.

Free eBook of the Day: U.S. Global Defense Posture, 1783–2011

U.S. Global Defense Posture, 1783–2011
Stacie L. Pettyjohn

144 pp.

In a refreshingly thin volume, Stacie Pettyjohn offers us an overview of how the U.S. approach to its national defense evolved from a minimalism that could barely defend the national frontiers to global interventionism.

It is a thoughtful, largely apolitical study that points us to a future where the U.S. treads more lightly overseas, and as such will offer food for thought for all of us who debate U.S. foreign policy.

Today’s Free eBook: Crisis and Escalation in Cyberspace

Crisis and Escalation in Cyberspace
Martin C. Libicki

We are starting a new feature of The Peking Review today: our Free eBook of the Day.

While the books featured here will usually have a China hook (and we’ll explain it when it does), the primary purpose of this feature is to simply call your attention to a book we think our readers might find interesting that is available for the effort of a download.

Our first book is Martin Libicki’s examination of what the US Air Force would have to do if it found itself operating in the midst of a cyber-attack. As the most technologically-dependent of the US services, the Air Force makes a superb test-case of the rigors of operating in a hostile electronic environment.

As China is the implicit adversary in a conflict of this nature, it is a compelling read for those of us watching events both immediate and long-term unfold in the western Pacific.

China’s Uneven Rise

China’s Petroleum Predicament: Challenges and Opportunities in Beijing’s Search for Energy Security | Andrew S. Erickson.

Tip of the hat to Andrew Erickson for catching this excellent essay in Jane Golley and Ligang Song’s new Rising China: Global Challenges and Opportunities (PDF). Kennedy’s chapter focuses on the China’s growing dependence on imported energy, and stands out in this excellent compendium.

As for the book, Golley and Song have made it downloadable, and it is well worth it. Arguably, the most vexing challenges China faces are domestic, but Rising China focuses on the international points of friction that are likely to be exacerbated by domestic politics.

The list of international challenges generated by this work is by no means comprehensive: such an inventory would require a bookshelf, and a full review of China’s security challenges would occupy a wall. Nonetheless, the authors – both Chinese and foreign – have created a catalog of the most critical issues, and one that lacks the demagoguery and angst of less scholarly studies.

Preventing Childhood Obesity: China’s Next Great Health Challenge?

Crop of Children with various body composition...

Image via Wikipedia

Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies
Institute of Medicine
The National Academies Press
October 2011

As a nation that is still developing and remains largely poor, China has not yet had to contend with the challenge of early childhood obesity. A walk along the shopping avenues in Beijing or Shanghai during a national holiday, watching prosperous urban parents walking with their youngsters, is enough to make one realize that China’s reckoning with fat kids is coming, and right soon – at least for prosperous urban dwellers.

The United States is already dealing with a serious early childhood obesity problem, a matter that affects not only parents and health officials, but physicians, child care providers, and the folks in charge of providing children with lunches and meal programs. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science has produced a blueprint to prevent and reduce early childhood obesity.

China’s Ministry of Health would do well to tap this resource. As fast foods proliferate and diets in China get richer, children here will start to face the same challenges as their counterparts in the US.

The Air Force and the War on Drugs

Panamanian motor vessel Gatun during the large...

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The conflicts elsewhere in the world have cast the War on Drugs into something of a popular eclipse: it is just not something you hear about much, until the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, or a local police force captures a healthy-sized cache of drugs from someplace. The matter remains at the forefront of many minds, however, not least among those in the Pentagon, where the inter-agency effort to stem the flow of narcotics into North America remains an important, albeit not focal, raison d’etre.

In The Latin American Drug Trade: Scope, Dimensions, Impact and Response, homeland security expert Peter Chalk does offers a detailed update on how the drug trade operates in a day of Mexican cartels and mini-submarines. While the purpose of the study is to examine the role the U.S. Air Force might play in the War on Drugs, most of the book delves into the gritty detail of how drugs move from Latin American fields into American cities.

Smugglers have taken some innovative steps in the drug trade in response to more sophisticated U.S. efforts to stop it, but at its heart the interdiction battle is still a cat-and-mouse game that will get worse until either the entire supply – or most of the demand – dries up. There is no sense in making it easy for criminals, however, and ten years into The Long War, there have been technical and tactical innovations that can be readily applied in the War on Drugs specifically, and in homeland security more broadly.

Chalk’s work is a superb primer for those interested in the narcotics trade, in transnational crime, and in the role the armed forces should be playing in that effort.

Demographics and Global Security

Strengthening bonds between Indian, U.S. Soldiers

Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

When I was in high school, I had a European History teacher who explained to us how countries with an large cohort of breeding-age young men relative to the rest of the population were more likely to make war on their neighbors. The argument was simple: too much young testosterone lying around was a sufficient domestic political liability that it needed to be spent in the advancement of national interests abroad. Hence, war.

I have always found this a tad deterministic, so I was pleased to see Martin Libicki and his co-authors publish Global Demographic Change and its Implications for Military Power. While the authors stop short of a full debunking of the population pressure theory of war, they analyze it in a modern context, incorporating historic data and using data to call into question the prospect of a future (2011-2050) conflict driven by “too many boys.”

The examination is thorough and convincing, but I have to wonder whether or not India’s growing working-age population vis-a-vis China will not, at some point, offer India a manpower advantage over China in any trans-Himalayan conflict. China’s effort to control its population and put its young people to work in more productive pursuits has been admirable, but India has not kept up to the same extent by either measure. Left with lots of young people, would not India choose to reclaim disputed territories on the Chinese border versus allowing their frustrations to fester into sectarian violence?

An excellent and worthy read, especially for those of us focused on Asian security.

How to Bring Healthcare Home

New Integrated patient lift for use in home ca...

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Perhaps the single most important change that is taking place in health care in the United States is the effort to shift non-intensive patient care out of hospitals and back into their homes. Convalescence and long-term care are no longer cost-effective in a hospital environment, the thinking goes; patients recover more quickly in familiar and comfortable surroundings; and, at the macro level, as the nation ages we are going to find ourselves with a shortage of hospital beds unless we either a) spend the national treasure on building more and bigger hospitals, or b) shift care outside of the hospital.

America is not alone in this regard. Look at any society in the world that is aging, and you will find policymakers and medical professionals wrestling with the same issue, and the next major country to do so will be China.

For that reason, Health Care Comes Home: The Human Factors is not only timely, it is also relevant far beyond the U.S. In the book, the authors begin by shooting a commonly-held misconception: the success of in-home care does not hinge on technology as much as it does on the caregivers who must use it.

Preparing a new generation of caregivers as home caregivers is, therefore, essential, as is designing a new generation of machines. The success of home care means that the caregivers must be able to use the technology that will make the practice practicable, and the companies designing home-care equipment will have to take into account a series of factors vastly different from those they use to develop devices for hospital use.

As an example of one device where this has already happened, look at the automated external defibrillator, or AED. Forty years ago, defibrillators were used outside of hospitals only by doctors, nurses, or paraprofessionals with six months training. Today, anybody with a modest IQ and a calm disposition can use an AED. That type of change now has to be extended to dozens of complex medical devices in order to make home care both feasible and effective. The better the designers get at their work, the more care that can be moved outside of the hospitals.

This book is a fascinating look at the future of healthcare. All of us will be affected by its conclusions, so whether you are a medical professional, or if you pride yourself on being an informed consumer of medical services, this book is well worth reading.

After 9/11: Have We Come A Long Way, Baby?

In a few weeks, we will be marking the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The retrospectives have already begun, including one triumphalist piece I glanced in the Huffington Post this morning that suggested that Al-Queda is essentially collapsing. While I think the latter might be stretching things a bit, there is little question that we are on the verge of a milestone if not a point in what used to be called the Global War on Terror, and has since been renamed The Long War: the great bogeyman is dead, the U.S. is leaving Iraq, and attention is shifting back to southern Asia.

There are still unforeseen challenges and incidents ahead of us: whatever we have accomplished in the past decade, the level of discontent in what Thomas P.M. Barnett calls “the non-integrating gap” running from Northern Africa across to Eastern Indonesia remains high. Those regions are bound to produce individuals and groups who believe that their only course of action is to foment death and destruction.

For that reason, a retrospective at this point is fitting, and the RAND Corporation has crafted one in The Long Shadow of 9/11: America’s Response to Terrorism. The book probes how the U.S. as a government and as a nation responded to 9/11, and the effects that has had on the country and, to a lesser extent, the world. The essays in the book cover everything from military readiness to economic policy to health care implications of terrorism, and significantly warns against the government’s tendency to think too short-term.

They authors take especial aim at the government’s obsession with airline security, and note that the problem is not the increase in security, but the belief that better security (or even better intelligence) will stop the attacks. The aim must continue to be addressing terrorism at its roots, not at its fruits.

This is an essential read for anyone interested in U.S. domestic politics or international relations. While we are preoccupied these days by such mind-numbing sideshows as the budget crisis and the coming election, it is also time to hold up a mirror and look at what has happened to the country as a result of the attacks of September 11.

Saving the Kurds

House of Kurd family in Sheikh Jarrah.

Image via Wikipedia

If things go as currently planned, the U.S. military will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Regardless of the other issues facing Iraq as a nation, one that concerns the U.S. and most countries in the region is the matter of how to help the Arab peoples and the Kurds in the region find a modus vivendi.

In Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of US Troops, Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini, and Omar Al-Shahery point out that the modest pace of Iraqi reconstruction politics makes it unlikely that a domestic political solution will come in time. They make clear that the U.S. will need to maintain involvement in Northern Iraq to manage the issue until Iraq can craft a federalist system that will allow for a degree of Kurdish autonomy.

The authors advocate using a series of “Confidence Building Measures” (CBMs) to keep inter-communal tensions low enough in the interim to allow for a longer-term solution to come out of Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein’s solution to the problem of Kurds within his borders was to kill as many as possible and thrust the rest on Turkey and Syria as refugees. The authors are trying to save Iraq’s current government from having to go down that path simply because nobody was paying attention after the last American dogface was flown out of the region. They understand that failure to do so will have a polarizing effect on the politics of the entire region for decades to come.

Rethinking America’s Science Education

Logo of the Office of Science Education, part ...

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There is wide agreement that the future competitiveness of the United States, and more specifically of American children, rests on raising the quality of science and mathematics education in primary and secondary schools. Making that happen, in turn, requires that those students actually take to learning those subjects. There is considerable debate as to whether the right approach to getting the kids to do well in maths and sciences is to instill more discipline and focus in the students, add greater structure to education, or somehow craft the subject matter into more palatable forms.

In A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas, the authors dodge the philosophical arguments that frame the debate above. Instead, they begin with the levels of subject knowledge that high school graduates should possess, and from that build backwards, creating a framework of concepts, ideas, and best practices from which a unified primary and secondary curriculum can be developed.

Not satisfied with making recommendations in the basic theoretical sciences, the authors devote extensive coverage into introducing applied science fields like engineering and space science into the curriculum. From the point of view of this former student, who eschewed sciences after his first year in university, this approach looks like a winner – if followed. At a time when school systems in the US are struggling just to pay the bills, one wonders how many administrators will opt for a major revamp of their science curricula.

For the sake of the nation, I hope the answers is “a lot.”

The British Army and Modern Counterinsurgency

The attention given to failed efforts to contain insurgencies like Vietnam tend to drown out the cases of successful outcomes where insurgent groups were defeated. Of the successes, the one that proponents and practitioners of counterinsurgency continue to come back to is Britain’s defeat of Malayan communists between 1947 and 1960. Given the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, interest in the lessons of the Malayan Emergency is high again.

As a result, there is plenty of current literature on the topic, the best of which is probably John A. Nagl’s Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife. Contemporary accounts, on the other hand, drawn as they are from the context of the times, can often be more enlightening as they lack the additional haze that comes with the passage of time. Such an account is Riley Sunderland’s Army Operations in Malaya, 1947-1960.

Given unprecedented access to the files of the War Office in the United Kingdom, Sunderland made his study just as the U.S. was expanding its involvement in Vietnam. The intent, therefore, was to give the U.S. Army as much insight as possible into how to fight a successful counterinsurgency. The work is interesting not only because it provides some interesting perspective on what the Americans did and did not learn before escalating the Vietnam effort, but also because it informs the today’s conflicts without using Vietnam as a yardstick.

Even a superficial analysis suggests that the U.S. Army could have learned little from the Malayan experience. The British succeeded in their effort because they were able to contain the growth of the insurgency long enough to secure the countryside. By the time the U.S. showed up in Vietnam in force, not only was the guerrilla infrastructure well into its second decade of development, it had a sympathetic and supportive sovereign country next door to sustain it. Nonetheless, some of America’s more successful tactics in Vietnam (the USMC’s Combined Action Platoons, for example) were rooted in the Malayan playbook.

Sunderland’s account is a testament to the need to stop insurgencies early, and the futility of fighting them once they have reached a critical mass. For anyone interested in whether and how it is possible to quell an uprising with armed force, this book will provide much food for thought.

The Ripple Effects of “Collateral Damage”

If there is a single factor driving the U.S. armed forces and militaries around the world to explore airborne and surf unmanned combat vehicles, it is the growing political cost of battlefield casualties. What those technological marvels have been unable to do, however, is eliminate unintended casualties to civilians in wartime – a phenomenon commonly and somewhat coldly referred to as “collateral damage.”

As part of making a case for finding new ways to reduce or eliminate casualties among non-combattants in wartime, Eric Larson and Bogdan Savych wrote Misfortunes of War: Press and Public Reactions to Civilian Deaths in Wartime. In the book, the authors look at the communications aspect of the problem, not only assessing the different responses to the issue in Europe, the US, and elsewhere, but also urging military leaders to address the problem and specific incidents with the public in a more forthright manner.

This is going to continue to be an issue with all armed forces around the world, especially in an age where the Internet has altered the political and psychological effects of conflict. Indeed, the authors note that the challenge is likely to get worse with time, as incidents that would once have been buried in the scale of the conflict are magnified and twisted for the purposes of one side or the other. Part of the solution is finding ways to eliminate such damage altogether, but in a day of precision weapons and tactics, mistakes are still unavoidable.

Save eschewing “wet works” altogether, governments and non-state actors are going to find themselves enmeshed in a war of words over every mistake, and the states have the most to lose. The communications war will thus grow in importance, so this book is an essential read for anyone communicating – or being communicated to – such tragedies.

Bringing the Bad Boys Home

Kilcullen (Dept. of State) ecosystem of insurgency

Image via Wikipedia

One of the most important aspects of a successful counterinsurgency effort is how the government handles former insurgents once they have effectively switched sides. Simply letting them go leaves them susceptible to the same forces that put them into the insurgency in the first place, but relocation leaves them both disconnected and alienated, once again making them perfect recruiting fodder for the movements they had left.

In Reintegrating Afghan Insurgents, Seth Jones examines the experience in Afghanistan and comes up with recommendations for turning former insurgents into productive members of society, even as the insurgency continues.

Jones’ recommendations are operational rather than political or strategic: to a certain extent he assumes that the insurgency is on the wrong side of history. Nonetheless, what makes this a worthy read is that the conclusions apply not only to Afghanistan, but to any insurgency. Jones keeps his recommendations short and to the point, making this accessible to the layman as well as the expert. Free download.

Finding Stuff from Above

As the U.S. Armed Forces increasingly rely on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or “drones”) to gather information about current or potential battlefields, the time has come to remember that the skills that count among the people controlling those aircraft are not limited to remote-control airmanship. Equally important are the other abilities that give drones their value.

Most important among those skills is figuring out what you are seeing when you look down from above. For that reason, the RAND corporation has re-issued a series of papers from the early jet age about how to conduct aerial reconnaissance. This makes fascinating reading for the aviation buff, and would be fun for anyone who spends way too much time checking out Google Earth as well.

How to Fix a Broken Procurement System

If there is a better example of a procurement system run amok than that of the United States military, I would love to see it. The U.S. armed forces seem incapable of acquiring even the simplest items without turning the process into a money-waster, overpaying, or not buying the right thing in the first place.

But the Pentagon has no monopoly on complex and seriously messed-up procurement systems. Businesses around the world have these issues, and so do government organizations. That is why this book, Toward Affordable Systems II, is of interest well beyond the narrow confines of the military. In it, a group of analysts led by Brian Chow has developed a model for managing long-range procurement in the face of an uncertain environment.

Granted, this is not light summer beach pleasure reading, but if you deal with the issues involved in buying capital goods for large government organizations or complex, global businesses, this represents your state of the art.

Training YOUR Way

As a measure to improve and speed the training process, the US Air Force is looking at ways to customize training for each individual. After all, there is no sense teaching someone something he or she already knows, or training them in a subject before they have mastered the prerequisite material. The folks at RAND look at customized training, its implications, and ways the USAF could implement it in this fascinating study.

What makes Customized Learning: Potential Air Force Applications worth reading is that as with so many other innovations, the military frequently plays the role in developing the technology or methods to make them possible. What happens with the Air Force in this project could have far-reaching implications for education around the world, so it is worth watching.

Marshall’s Airman

Lieutenant General Frank Maxwell Andrews

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The history of war is written not only by the victors, but the survivors. How much better we remember those who made it through the fight than those who fell, even when the fallen fought on the side of the victors.

One of those soldiers who fell in the allied cause was General Frank M. Andrews, who died in a B-24 crash enroute to take command of the U.S. Air Force in Europe in 1943. Andrew’s most important role in his career predated the war, when he was the organizer and commander of the General Headquarters Air Force (GHQAF), and as such the man who pulled the U.S. Army’s U.S.-based aviation units into a single, integrated operational force. if General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold is the man best remembered as the commander of U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, it was Andrews who made Arnold’s efforts possible.

Andrews was the officer, arguably, who sold Army Chief of Staff George Marshall on both the concept of strategic bombing applied in Europe during the war, and on the primary weapon used in that effort, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.

In Frank M. Andrews: Marshall’s Airman, a brief but engrossing biography published by the Air Force History and Museums Program, historian DeWitt Coop goes further. He suggests that Andrews, in his advocacy of an independent air arm and the first commander of GHQAF, was one of the leading architects of an independent air force that came into being after the war. Coop thus places Andrews in that aerospace pantheon of air visionaries who, like Billy Mitchell, made an independent air force possible.

History has not been kind to Andrews or his vision. Andrews was virtually forgotten after his tragic death, eclipsed by Arnold, LeMay, and others who survived him. The ultimate benefits of the strategic bombing campaign he was to have led in Europe, once taken as a given, are now a matter of hot debate among historians. And the value of an independent air force, appreciable in a day when few non-aviators understood the role of aviation on the battlefield, is now much less so in an era of pervasive aviation, unmanned aerial vehicles, and combined-arms doctrine. But there was no way of knowing any of that then, and at no point has it been suggested that Andrews was anything but sincere in his beliefs.

I am a member of what I believe to be a small group of historians who think that we have more to learn from failed beliefs, doctrines, and strategies than winning ones. Understanding Frank Andrews, what he believed, and why he believed it offer us a mirror for our own passionately held beliefs, whether in war, in business, or in life.

Why It Is So Hard for the U.S. Military to Buy a Truck

Destroyed Humvee in Iraq

The U.S. military is looking for a few good trucks. Again.

In 1940 the United States armed forces needed to replace its sidecar motorcycles and Model-T Fords with something that could go anywhere on a modern battlefield. The result of a brief but thorough process was the Truck, 1/4 ton, 4×4, known commercially as either the Willys MB or Ford GPW, and known to the rest of us as the Jeep.

The U.S. manufactured some 650,000 of these vehicles during the war, and the design was so versatile that it remained, with modifications, in the U.S. military’s inventory for over 40 years. It was replaced in 1984 by the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV, better known as the Humvee, and older brother of the civilian Hummer.

Today, a quarter century after its induction into US service, the Humvee appears headed for the great convoy in the sky. Its  many virtues notwithstanding, the past two decades have revealed a list of battlefield shortcomings that argue for its replacement.

The U.S. Department of Defense, prodded by Congress, has turned to the RAND Corporation to help figure out how the U.S. Army and Marine Corps should rebuild their combat vehicle fleets. To us laymen, this would seem to be a simple proposition. Reading U.S. Combat and Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Fleets, however, offers offers a sickening glimpse into how hard it is today for the Pentagon to buy a truck.

Based a continent away from the Beltway, the analysts at RAND have the distance as well as the brains and chutzpah to tell the Department of Defense when it is asking the wrong damned question. So along with a superb analysis of which vehicles the military should buy, the RAND team unravels the ossified hairball of Pentagon procurement and makes bold recommendations for changing the system altogether.

The one person who must read this book is whomever replaces Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. The folks at RAND have delivered an emphatic message: if somebody does not fix the Pentagon’s procurement processes, and soon, the U.S. military will seize up like an oil-starved engine.

China would like that.

Rethinking U.S. Policy in Southwest Asia

Immediately before Richard Amitage passed away earlier this year, he chaired an independent task force on Southwest Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The result was U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, a book that provides both a nuanced look at the US policy choices in the region and recommendations to fix what is broken.

The book is not a meditation on whether the US and NATO have any business in the region, nor does it offer an endorsement to the Obama Administration’s policies. Instead, the report offers qualified support, suggesting that the problem is not the policy but how we are executing on the ground.

I pay attention to Pakistan and Afghanistan because China does. The next four years in Pakistan and Afghanistan will define the limits of U.S. power and its ability to influence events in Asia. As much as China would like to see American influence circumscribed, having the countries slide into a chaotic power-vacuum or serve as the cradle of a fundamentalist caliphate would threaten China’s stability more directly than it would harm U.S. security.

On his deathbead, Richard Armitage was haunted by fears of chaos in the region. What haunts me is the prospect of a new great game between India, China, Russia, and Iran, all focused on Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the anger of tribes sick to death of living on a battleground. Read this short book: it offers a narrow path away from that future.

How the U.S. Military Avoids and Deals With Nuclear Contamination

Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, a major concern was operating in and around a battlefield that had been contaminated with nuclear detonations. As a result, the U.S. military has built a considerable expertise on dealing with widespread contamination that it is now beginning to apply to civilian assistance programs.

These three manuals lay out the tactics, techniques, and procedures for the avoidance of, protection from, and decontamination from nuclear and radiological (as well as chemical and biological) contamination. Three worthy reads and references as the story in Japan grows.

U.S. Army Nuclear Accident Response Manual

Continuing our Atomic Cafe theme in deference to events in Japan, the U.S. Army has published the operational procedures that it follows when providing assistance after a nuclear accident or incident. My bet would be that the Japanese Self Defense Forces are working from a playbook not too dissimilar from this one.

Pamphlet 50-5 Nuclear Accident or Incident Response and Assistance (NAIRA) Operations (Free PDF book)

Nuclear Energy: Balancing Benefits and Risks

In 2007 Council on Foreign Relations fellow Charles Ferguson published this erudite and compact report on the global expansion of nuclear energy. As with the Carnegie report, Ferguson looks closely at the proliferation question, but also delves into some of the wider issues that would accompany a sudden spurt in global reactor construction. Given some of the operational challenges faced by the Japanese power companies that are coming to new light in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, Ferguson looks like he was right on.

To get a free copy of a report for which the CFR otherwise would charge you $10, simply click on the “DOWNLOAD THE FULL TEXT OF THE REPORT” link below the purchase button. The download is free.

PLAAF: Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth

j-10a seen at zhuhai airshow

Image via Wikipedia

Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth is a new RAND Corporation monograph that describes how the People’s Liberation Army Air Force has reached a turning point in its development. No longer a motley collection of weed-grown bases and Soviet hardware, the force is beginning to transform itself into a thoroughly modern air arm.

Keeping in mind that funding for this effort came from a U.S. Air Force that is determined to justify the skyrocketing costs of its new air-superiority fighters, the book offers important food for thought. China faces an expensive effort in modernizing both its air force and its navy at the same time, and the challenge of creating the training and doctrine to mould the new hardware into an effective fighting force should not be underestimated.

A good read for followers of Chinese defense policy.