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Spc. Kristina Gupton, U.S. Army

Spc. Kristina Gupton, U.S. Army

Should strategy hinge on what one must do or on what one can do? Over the past decade, a lot of American military challenges have stemmed in Africa, and yet American military presence goes remarkably unnoticed on the continent. Even their choice of military investments seems to steer their tactical future away from Africa. European countries have therefore invested Africa, and if the US is intending to tackle the problem from their origin, it needs to re-think the type of equipment it uses.

It’s not to say that the US is not aware that Africa exists, or even that it contains a strategic problem for them. The Pentagon is fully aware that several states in Africa do not control their territory, such as Nigeria, Kenya, and may others: anything goes in those areas, where vast amounts of territory escape government control. In a 2013 listing (1) by Business Insider on failed states, 90% of the countries listed were on the African continent.

This situation is not exclusive to Africa: a few Asian states find themselves in the same category, with Pakistan (2) and Afghanistan (3) in pole positions. Even if both of those states contain elements which are more or less hostile to the US, it doesn’t mean they are in favor of loose cannons roaming and plotting in uncontrolled areas, as they hamper and disrupt government policies. And there seems to be little local governments or US forces can do to change the situation.

The American choice has been traditional: technological domination through extreme-high tech and getting their soldiers ever further away from the battlefields with intense drone capacity development. The F-22 and F-35 are state-of-the-art weapons, which would conveniently suit confrontation with developed armies (Western Europe, Russia (4), China (5)…) but are grossly oversized for fighting insurgents. A short scene in the CIA movie Syriana perfectly illustrates how billions of dollar worth of military power can be outplayed in seconds by nimble and clever insurgents. As a US observation drone tracks a car containing a hostage driving in the desert; the car is joined by 3 other identical cars, which drive in circles for 30 seconds, forming a large cloud of dust with the sand. They then part in 4 different directions, leaving a disoriented drone behind them America can keep pouring dollars into its hegemonic military equipment, but simpler would probably be better to fight the fights it needs to fight. A long-range, low-sound-signature, heavily armed nuclear submarine is a simple waste of money (and therefore military power) facing mujahedeen or Janjaweed tribes.

Other countries don’t make the same technological choices. Traditionally, Africa has been France’s area of influence (6). For decades, therefore, France has opted for simple, rugged, combat-proven equipment. In Mali, the Nexter systems VBCI (7) appeared to be the perfect choice: it is fast enough to catch up with nimble and speedy insurgent forces, and once it has established contact, it provides the necessary protection against AK-47s and RPGs (insurgents’ traditional weapons of choice), as well as superior firepower. The VBCI was built with all-terrain wheels, high-power engine, to thrust it up to 100 km/h (plenty to catch up with insurgent 4×4), and a 25- and 7-mm cannon to suppress enemy forces. Because it is so modular and independent in its operation, it enables the French army to work at a small scale, which other armies seem to find difficult doing, despite necessity for doing so. Michael Shurkin, from the Rand Corporation, says (8) “The US Army can operate “small,” but it is not designed to do so and appears to do so against its will, with all sorts of assorted inefficiencies. The French Army operates small by design and has made an art out of what the US Army does only when it has to.” In the key findings (9) of Operation Serval’s survey, was “The French Army in Mali operated using small, scalable, and task-organized combined arms forces and built them up or folded them into larger, scalable formations.”

The Caesar artillery system (10) was built along the same lines. Very piece of French equipment is built on the assumption that things will go wrong, once they are fielded and deployed. French military engineers assume logistics will be disrupted, that ammo will run short, and so on. Therefore, the new French cannon can reach ranges of 42 kilometers with standard NATO ammo, be fitted on standard chassis, and be transported by land, air or sea. It resists dirty bombs and IEDs.

The association of both weapon systems made a deadly trap for insurgents in Mali. Artillery positions denied entire areas to rebels, and in the little space left for them to operate, the high-speed motorized infantry would relentlessly track them down. In the words of the French narrative “The enemy could never catch its breath”, despite “the fact that one is perpetually outnumbered and under-resourced”. When one continually has the initiative on the enemy, something speed and visibility will give you, being outnumbered doesn’t matter. In addition, the highly modular characteristics of French equipment reduces the necessary logistics to a strict minimum, making movements swifter. In the Rand Organization report on Operation Serval, it is quoted that “The French use relatively lightly armored wheeled vehicles, which have smaller sustainment requirements compared with heavier, tracked vehicles.”

Globally, French armament is designed in a way that reflects French strategy. French strategy is military, not political. In other words, their equipment doesn’t aim at impressing with costly and fragile technological options, it aims at working and defeating the enemy and collaborating with allies. It aims at preserving their interests and the stability within the regions in which they lie, and it does it well. It needs to be said that this is not the result of necessity, but of choice. French Engineers are fully able, as are British, Germans, Danish and others, to build high-tech equipment. The Rafale and the Tiger helicopter come as proof of scientific capacity.

It would be in America’s interest to consider the “fluidity of the insurgency market”. Terrorists and insurgents go where they can exercise their “craft” in the best conditions. The French witnessed this phenomenon first-hand: when fighters were no longer at home in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi, they went simply went elsewhere, (11) which enticed the French to deploy in Mali. Though the American deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq can hardly be deemed victories, it must be said that it is no longer a safe haven for terrorists and insurgents, due to increased government control, through American assistance or not. Now, given that leeway is low and shrinking in Asia (Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly), it is very likely that the strategic heat will move towards Africa, where insurgents can operate in peace.

The fact is that the Vietnam War still weighs upon American policy: there is great fear within the Pentagon at the idea of getting “bogged down” in any theater of Operations. It happened in Vietnam, and in Iraq and then in Afghanistan again. With excessively elaborate military techniques, the US ran out, in a few years, of political will to continue despite the lack of traction, unable to achieve notable results quickly, the way it had against Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan in 1941. But whether the Pentagon likes or not, there are now high-level intensity conflicts on the horizon, and World War 2 is nowhere near returning. It needs to stop secretly wishing to return on a battlefield on which victory was granted and start from scratch again. The M-16 machine gun did the job perfectly well in the Vietnam Jungle, and so did Bell helicopters. The US needs to accept fighting simpler battles.

(1) http://www.businessinsider.com/the-25-most-failed-states-on-earth-2013-6?op=1&IR=T
(2) http://seeandsaynews.in/exclusive/7766-rohingyas-and-the-larger-question-of-population-control
(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durand_Line
(4)http://in.rbth.com/blogs/2014/10/12/why_the_f-35_is_a_sitting_duck_for_the_flankers_38959.html
(5)http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/f-35-in-new-dogfight-over-chinese-russian-stealth-fighter-advances/story-fnpjxnlk-1227181998650
(6) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/opinion/global/the-return-of-francafrique.html?_r=0
(7) http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/vbci-frances-wheeled-apc-04100/
(8) http://mars-attaque.blogspot.fr/2014/10/about-operation-serval-in-mali.html
(9) http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR770.html
(10) http://www.army-technology.com/projects/caesar/
(11)https://www.google.fr/search?q=lybian+fighters+go+to+mali&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&channel=rcs&gws_rd=cr&ei=Eka2VZieKsXiUZ7cjYAP

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Students' Column

Learn to Speak Spanish fluently step by step

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Learn Spanish Street

With a large Latino population in the english speaking countries and the booming Latin economies, employers are desperate for people who speak Spanish. There is a huge demand of Spanish-speakers in nursing, construction management and media, among many other positions. So, either if you want to promote or get a better position, If you’d like to travel to a Spanish-speaking country or you have been there for a long time but you have,’t managed to master the language perfectly, you are probably asking yourself the following question: What can I do to speak Spanish fluently?

Well, first thing you can do is acknowledge that learning a language is not the same thing than speaking a language. You can study grammar and read books for years, but when you travel and try to communicate, you are unable to understand the natives. On the contrary, there are people who can barely read in a language but who can talk with other people just fine. Why is that? Because, as it happens in music, we can play an instrument by ear without knowing a single thing about music theory. If you want to be fluent in Spanish, there is only one thing you can do: speaking Spanish. Sure, learning the basic grammar and vocabulary will help, but you will only master the language if you practise your speaking –and make the subsequent mistakes often.

Step 1: Sign up for an online course

To learn how to be fluent in Spanish in less time, the ideal would be to go to Spain or a Latin country and dive into the language immersion. However, this option is not available for everyone, so the closest you can get to that is by using the best learning tool of all times: the Internet. You will find endless tools and resources that will help you and facilitate the process. There are several online courses based on developing your communication skills such as the one offered by http://www.hablarespanol.com where you will be able to learn the basic grammar and vocabulary and learn how to use them in context.

Step 2: Learn all the vocabulary you are capable of

A part of the essence of a language is found in its vocabulary. Words are like bricks that allow us to build our discourse and make communicative exchanges. No matter what level of Spanish you are currently in, there are always new words to learn. Opt for a thematic approach. There are many vocabulary manuals composed of thematic cards. Learning 30 words a day, you will be able to cover 70% of the Spanish vocabulary in a few months. The idea is not to memorize the entire dictionary, but to find the necessary resources to learn the vocabulary you need based on your goals. You can start learning how to introduce yourself in Spanish, talking about everyday objects or adressing your professional skills

Step 3: Study the grammar basics

Grammar is what allows you to build and structure sentences. Sometimes it is the most complicated part of learning a language, but the good news is that you can use it even without understanding the mechanics of it. If you listen enough native speakers, you will mimic their structures when you speak without thinking about it –just as little kids do.

It is best to learn about 1,000 words before beginning to study grammar. You will need several days to get used to the main grammatical structures in Spanish –you can find them in an online course, textbooks or just searching online. But as soon as you have learn the basics, move on to speaking practice.

Step 4: Speak. Practice pronunciation. Speak again.

The ideal is that you get to speak at least 2 – 3 hours of Spanish per week. Find a language Exchange tandem or a tutor online to practice conversation. . In each session, focus on keeping the conversation flowing each other rather than on not making mistakes. You can also try to translate your thoughts or say them out loud. In any day-to-day situation, get used to ask yourself: How would you say this in Spanish? To improve your pronunciation, listen to native speakers. You can do so by listening to music, radio and podcast in Spanish and watching movies and TV series in Spanish (first with subtitles, then without them).

Step 5: Keep improving by learning and writing in Spanish

Reading will allow you to learn new words or structures and will encourage your memorization. After a few weeks, once you have acquired a solid foundation, start reading in Spanish: press articles, book, magazines, online articles, and so on. Any resource is good to read and improve your vocabulary and expressions. In addition, since when we write we memorize everything much better, it is also a good idea to keeping a diary in Spanish. Try to write a few paragrahps about how your day was every nigh. The more you write, the better you will assimilate the language.


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Students' Column

Why do people think that higher education is important?

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Why should you be well-educated to gain success nowadays?

It is probably not a secret that many people nowadays decide that they should not get a higher education. Are you one of these people? You probably think that studying in the university is useless and you can become a well-educated person without this institution. You can read specialized books and articles, watch special videos and get the same level of qualification at home. Well, we are going to dispel this myth. Continue reading if you are ready to change your mind forever. So, let’s start.

Bullying and free online services – the main reasons for this situation in the educational market

Fortunately, people in the US usually do not declare that there is no need to study. They understand that we live in the 21st century and only our intelligence can help us to gain success. It is a very sad but true rule: only smart people can overcome problems, find a good job and earn a lot of money. However, some people also think that there is no need to visit special institutions to become a smarter person and improve some skills.

Of course, we are not going to refuse the fact that you can become a well-educated person without visiting a special building five times a week. And it is really cool! We have an opportunity to study at home without any problems. There is no need to spend thousands of dollars to figure out something new. Just open the appropriate webpage and that’s all – you get unlimited access to useful information and knowledge. It is really impressive!

For example, if you do not want to waste your free time in the university, you can visit coursera.com and study the same subjects and courses online. And there is no need to pay for these courses. This possibility is extremely profitable.

Moreover, many students do not want to study in the university because of bullying. This problem is very serious and it causes obvious consequences – children do not want to visit schools, universities and colleges. Our government and educational system do not implement new rules and approaches to solving this problem and the level of our education decreases. To solve this problem, we should understand the reason for this situation. What forces people to do that? If you want to figure out more about bullying and the most popular causes of bullying, you should visit this website – https://scoobydomyessay.com/blog/causes-of-bullying-at-school/.

So, we have already understood why do people do not want to study in universities and discovered the most frequent aspects which cause bullying. Now, let’s consider 3 reasons which can convince you that high-quality education and studying in university is really important.

3 benefits of studying in the university or college

So, why should you study in the university?

  • Networking

It is probably not a secret that universities and colleges are something like big communities of smart people, who are united by one purpose – figure out something new and useful. These people are well educated and motivated. They understand what they want to get from their lives and what they should do if they really want to turn their dreams into reality. Students are smart and interesting people, that’s why we really think that it is one of the best platforms for networkers. If you want to find new friends or even business partners, you should enter the university right now. Networking is extremely useful because it can help you to overcome problems in the future and solve day-to-day questions. For example, you can find a good job or even your future wife. So, do not lose this chance!

  • Unlimited access to knowledge

Even despite the fact that you can study at home with the help of the Internet, we cannot declare that it is an equal alternative. There are many limitations if you choose online studying. In addition, universities give you an opportunity to communicate with wise teachers who are ready to help at any time of a day. This individual approach changes the whole situation. Finally, the fact is that students can use universities’ equipment and books.

  • Diploma

If you study at home, you will not get a special diploma. You cannot prove your knowledge and employers will not be interested in you at all. However, if you have a diploma, you can find a high-paid job without big problems.

Conclusion

Therefore, consider all pros and cons and choose your own way. Keep in mind that everything depends on your specialization. If you can become a real specialist without studying in the university, you should develop yourself at home. However, if the situation differs, choose another way. Do not hesitate anymore and create your own history!

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Culture and Lifestyle

Are You One Of The Many Millennials That Are Prone To Burnout?

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Burnout is real. It’s something that so many millennials are currently facing without really realizing it. Burnout is simply where your body (and mind) just cannot cope with the activity that you’re throwing at it any longer. When you’re working hard and a lot of hours, when you’re trying to lead a hectic social life, take care of your health, look after your home, and spend time with your family, something’s got to give. Of course, we don’t tend to slow down on work or social or home or family stuff, because it’s what we know we need to prioritize. So, our bodies tend to show signs of stress. And then burnout can set in.

Sometimes, you’ll just stop. You won’t physically be able to work any longer. Sometimes, you’ll start to feel a sense of depression that you just can’t shake. Sometimes, you’ll just realize that things aren’t worth harming your body over anymore, so you slow down and drastically change your lifestyle. Hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid the first two and land at the latter – for your own sake. But, if you do realize that you are probably on thin ice with your lifestyle and you’re worried about burnout setting in, you can stop it in its tracks without having to end up with any of those three outcomes. But how can you do it?

Well, let’s take a look at some of the signs of burnout and what you can do to make sure that you’re not one of the millennial victims.

Signs Of Burnout

Overworking

The very first sign that you’re on a downward slope to burnout is overworking. Even when you love your job, and you’re really happy to put in all of the hours possible to carve your career, you probably don’t even see this as an issue. But, it’s usually the effects of overworking and always being ‘on’ that are going to bring on burnout. We’re addicted to social media and being connected to the world, and this is also a huge influencer for bringing on burnout.

Raising Stress Levels

As both a by-product of overworking and just always being on, you will find that your stress levels are high. You may not feel stressed and angry as such, but your body will be stressed. The excess activity and overworking will always mean that your body will be suffering from stress, even if you feel mentally content. Your mind may be clouded, even though you’re happy too. But let’s also take a look at the physical symptoms.

Poor Health

Stress is such a huge killer. And you might not like to admit that you’re stressed, but your body will be showing the signs. Not only will you be suffering from sleep deprivation (even if you’re sleeping solidly, you might not be sleeping enough), susceptible to colds and other illnesses, not eating well (or enough, due to picking at food on the go), using up too much energy without replacing it. And all of this is then going to lead your body to break down.

No Free Time

The final indicator is that you have no free time. Maybe you think that you’re just an expert planner and that you’ve organized your life successfully. But, that’s not true. Everyone needs a release. If you schedule in free-time and restful moments, catch ups with friends, and just time for you, then great. But if not, this is the biggest warning sign yet!

Combating Burnout

Looking At Your Lifestyle

After reading through the signs, you may start to worry that you’re doomed, or that you are one of the many prone to burnout. But don’t panic. Because you can save yourself. You just need to know what to do to sort of reverse the effects and get yourself back into a healthy rhythm. And the best way to do that is to look at your lifestyle objectively and see if you do show any of the signs of burnout. If you do, now we know what you need to work on to change.

Slowing Down

From here, you’re going to want to slow down and enjoy life. It’s really that simple. You may have to break habits and change your attitude, but you really do have to just start taking it easy. When you do, you should find that you instantly feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. You can enjoy the smaller things in life, sleep well, and generally feel much healthier in yourself.

Taking Action

But next, you need to take action. It’s important that you prioritize your health and start putting things back together. So do the things you’ve been meaning to for a while. Book in with your doctor, call that personal injury attorney to seek advice, think about exercises classes. Whatever you feel is a health issue, you need to take charge and finally put it right.

Committing To Working Hours

A small step but a big one for you will be then to commit to your working hours. Work 40 or 20, not 60 or more. You need to be able to pull back if you’re going to get through this burnout-free.

Making Time For Relaxation

But it’s not enough to just slow down and cut back on your overworking, you also have to make time to rest and relax. When you’re not used to doing this, or you find it hard to switch off, these simple ways to relax are really going to help you to do that. But the important thing is, that you’re actually making time for it now.

Finding Your Ideal Balance

Finally, you need to make sure that you’re finding your ideal balance. Creating a balance in your life can be hard, but if you want to be healthy and happy, then you will do it. You’ll find the perfect balance between home and work and social and ‘me time’ so that you can avoid burnout for good and never become a statistic.

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