Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram

Dozens of Nigerian state governors on Dec. 14 approved the transfer of $1 billion to aid the federal government’s fight against the deadly Boko Haram insurgency, signaling that previous announcements of victory over the Islamic extremists had come too soon.


Attacks have increased in recent weeks as Boko Haram turns to using women and children, often abducted and indoctrinated, as suicide bombers to target cities and towns in the country’s vast northeast.

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said 36 state leaders approved the transfer of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account, which is used to hold revenues from oil production and protect planned budgets from shortfalls due to volatile crude prices.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
Boko Haram captives.

The transfer makes up nearly half of the $2.3 billion held in the account. The $1 billion will be spent on purchasing security equipment, procuring intelligence, and logistics. The decision was made during a meeting of the National Economic Council.

Weapons procurement for the fight against Boko Haram has been marred by a massive corruption scandal in a country where graft is widespread. Nigeria’s former national security adviser faces criminal charges alleging that $2.1 billion meant to buy arms was diverted.

President Muhammadu Buhari a year ago announced that Boko Haram had been “crushed” after the military flushed the extremists from forest strongholds. A series of high-profile attacks this year, however, led to a military shuffle.

Read More: This Nigerian woman stopped hunting antelope to shoot terrorists

Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency has proven to be one of Africa’s more persistent threats, killing more than 20,000 people, spilling over into neighboring countries and displacing millions in a vast humanitarian crisis. Nigeria was part of a massive aid appeal by the U.N. secretary-general early this year for four countries, including Somalia, Yemen, and South Sudan, where mass hunger is fueled by conflict.

Aid groups have despaired that such appeals for Nigeria’s crisis remain underfunded.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Charlie DeLeo: Keeper of the Flame

If you’ve ever set foot in New York City at night and glanced across the Upper Bay at Lady Liberty, you’d see that her torch burns bright. From 1972 to 1999, you had Charlie DeLeo to thank for that awe-inspiring sight.

Known as the “Keeper of the Flame,” DeLeo was responsible for ensuring the light bulbs—some 22 stories up—were changed. He accomplished this every day, rain or wind or shine, so that when people see the statue they are left with a sense of hope. DeLeo believes this spirit embodies the best of what America offers.


In Vietnam

One might say that DeLeo himself is synonymous with the best of America: he has always endeavored to give whenever and whatever he can. He gave first when, at 17, he gained his parent’s permission to enlist in the Marine Corps. His poor eyesight required a waiver, and he was limited to duties as a cook.

In Vietnam, DeLeo was desperate for a transfer to the infantry. He believed in his heart that he was a rifleman, but learned quickly that, when in a war zone or combat situation, no task is menial and it takes the work of everyone to ensure success. He believed that honor comes from hard work, determination and devotion.

When eligible, DeLeo submitted for transfer, but soon found himself in a construction unit—not the infantry. But he found excitement there when, one night in Phu Bai, three Marines were killed and 52 were injured during a mortar attack. DeLeo was among the injured; he took shrapnel to his leg.

With Lady Liberty

During his recovery, DeLeo saw the bodies of dead Marines waiting to be transported back home. It was on the Khe Sanh airstrip when DeLeo decided that he had seen enough. He received a Purple Heart upon returning home, then—in uniform—went to visit Lady Liberty. The statue had always been special to DeLeo, ever since he took a trip there in fourth grade. He wanted to see the torch up close but wasn’t permitted when he got there.

About four years later, while between jobs, DeLeo again went to see the Statue of Liberty, and on impulse, asked about a job. He was told that they were looking for a maintenance guy and that he should ask about it. He did, and he was hired. But it wasn’t until a few months into his position that he took on his iconic role.

DeLeo’s boss had got wind that he was sneaking up into the torch, where no one ever went and weren’t supposed to go. Instead of being let go, his boss gave him the task of caring for the torch. From then on DeLeo became the “Keeper of the Flame.”

The “Keeper of the Flame” ensures the Lady’s torch is ship shape, changing out bulbs and cleaning the encasement when necessary. With this role, DeLeo became something of a celebrity, having several articles written about him, and one time appearing on a game show. In 1998 he won a Freedom Award from America’s Freedom Festival at Provo, and he’s even had a book written about his life, called Charlie DeLeo: Keeper of the Flame, by William C. Armstrong.

Thank you for your service, Charlie DeLeo!

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Nearly 900 sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp were “cleansed of their slime” Nov. 25 after participating in the age-old ceremony of crossing the equator.


The “crossing-the-line” ceremony is an exclusive maritime experience from the days of hardened sailors aboard wooden ships courageously venturing out into the unforgiving environment of the open ocean.

Also Read: These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

The tradition holds that when King Neptune, a mythical god of the sea, detects an infestation of “pollywogs” — those who have not crossed the equator before — he deems it necessary to take control of the ship to rid it of this plagued condition. A “shellback” is a sailor who has previously crossed the line, and the most senior shellback aboard the ship plays the role of King Neptune in the ceremony.

Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas Kreindheder, who earned the title of shellback in 1993, was King Neptune for the Nov. 25 ceremony.

Ceremony Has Evolved

“The ceremony has changed a lot since I went through,” he said. “Our ceremony lasted 48 hours, and it was more of an initiation than a camaraderie event. Our goal with this ceremony was to make sure the sailors were challenged both mentally and physically, but were also smiling and laughing the whole way through. The photos of the event prove that we accomplished that goal.”

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
Sailors participate in a crossing the line ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Sean Galbreath)

Wasp pollywogs were guided through a series of physically and mentally challenging obstacles, led by the 137 shellbacks aboard. Upon completion, pollywogs were summoned by King Neptune and his royal court and relieved of their slime, successfully completing their journey to shellback.

‘A Cool Experience’

“It was a cool experience,” said Navy Airman Apprentice Skyler Senteno. “I was skeptical at first. But there were a lot more events than I thought, and I really enjoyed it. It was an honor to be part of the tradition and become a shellback.”

The crossing-the-line ceremony traces its origin to a time when such a feat was a grave undertaking. Today’s technology allows sailors to be more at ease with their sea travels. Even then, the time away from family, especially around the holidays, can take its toll.

Also Read: Here are the meanings behind 19 classic sailor tattoos

“Ceremonies like crossing the line are invaluable for the crew. They instill pride and a sense of accomplishment that links Sailor to those that have gone before us,” said USS Wasp Command Master Chief Petty Officer Greg Carlson. “The ceremony has evolved to over the years to one of teamwork and unity, which allows sailors to craft memories that they will cherish forever.”

Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan, to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

Articles

France’s operators are reportedly hunting French militants in Iraq

France’s special operators in Iraq are collecting intelligence on their own citizens and then distributing it to Iraqi forces, according to the Wall Street Journal. The intent appears to be ensuring that as few French citizens as possible learn to fight under ISIS tutelage and then conduct attacks at home.


France has suffered many ISIS-sponsored and ISIS-inspired international attack, including the attack in Nice in July 2016 that killed 84 and the 2015 Paris attack that killed 130.

An estimated 1,700 French citizens have joined militant groups in Iraq and Syria, and France has little reason to want any of them back. Gathering intelligence on the most dangerous of them and handing it over to the Iraqis is a convenient way to reduce the threat without violating French laws on extra-judicial killings.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
French TV news has reported that France’s special operations forces are embedded with Iraqi units. (Screen Grab from France 24 News)

The U.S. has killed Americans in drone strikes and firefights, but only one of them was specifically targeted. Anwar al-Awlaki was a New Mexico-born Muslim cleric who preached a particularly anti-American and violent reading of Islam. He was targeted and killed in a drone strike in 2011.

France appears to be sidestepping the controversy that embroiled the Obama administration after the killing of al-Awlaki by outsourcing the dirty work.

Christophe Castaner, a French spokesman, responded to questions about the special operations with, “I say to all the fighters who join (Islamic State) and who travel overseas to wage war: Waging war means taking risks. They are responsible for those risks.”

Basically, the official spokesman equivalent of, “Bye, Felicia.”

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sails in 2009. (Photo: U.S. Navy

France was historically reluctant to join the wars in the Middle East, participating in the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan but protesting America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But the rise of ISIS drew France deeper into the fight and Paris currently has large operations ongoing in North Africa and in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, France’s only aircraft carrier was en route to the Persian Gulf when the ISIS attack in Paris killed 130. The carrier was rerouted to the Mediterranean Sea where it concentrated its air strikes against ISIS forces in Syria.

MIGHTY MONEY

DoD says military doesn’t spend enough taxpayer dollars on MWR

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Alexandria Hall poses for a picture with a camel during the Sunset Safari tour sponsored by USS Dwight D. Eisenhower’s (CVN 69) Morale, Welfare and Recreation office. (Photo: U.S. Navy)


The Department of Defense says the service branches aren’t spending enough taxpayer dollars to fund their morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) programs, according to a memo sent to each of the services last month.

Military Times reported this week that Todd Weiler, assistant defense secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, sent the memo to each branch to remind them that they were responsible for using a specific percentage of taxpayer funds to operate MWR programs.

“These standards are not optional and are not subject to Military Department waiver,” Weiler wrote.

MWR programs are required to receive a percentage of funding from Congress through either appropriated funds or non-appropriated funds, or a combination of the two.

The DoD requires that programs determined to be “Category A” must receive 85 percent of funding from taxpayer dollars. “Category A” are considered “mission sustaining programs” and “promote the physical and mental well-being of the military member,” according to Military One Source.

“Category B” requires 65 percent of operational costs to come from taxpayer dollars. Those programs consist of community support programs like child development centers, which charge families for use and therefore get some funding from customers.

“Category C” are programs that are nearly fully self-funded and include golf courses, base clubs, and recreational lodging. These programs are authorized some limited appropriated funds.

Weiler had previously sent a memo in June to remind the services to return their feedback on MWR funding by August, but both the Army and the Navy missed their deadlines.

Rather, the Army decided to cut $105 million from MWR funds, and the Navy only sent feedback on its Category A funding.

“I thought we needed to up our communication,” Weiler said in response to the Army’s planned slashing of the MWR budget.

The executive director of The National Military Family Association, Joyce Raezer, told Military Times that, due to budget cuts, sequestration, and changes to various other budgetary items, she believed families didn’t expect much from the services. “There are too many other worries,” she said.

Of the services, only the Marine Corps did not meet the 85 percent requirement, coming in at 77 percent of Category A program expenses funded by taxpayer dollars.

Every service fell short of utilizing the required percentage of taxpayer funding for Category B programs.

Weiler called out the Air Force specifically for not having met the requirements for four straight years, with no plan in place to correct the issue.

In the memo sent to the Army, Weiler asked Army Secretary Eric Fanning to halt the planned $105 million cut, a plea that was accepted and approved by Fanning. The Army plans to complete an analysis of its MWR programs and funding later this year.

Military.com reported that Colonel James Love told them that the $105 million cut would go into effect once the Pentagon approved the Army’s requested changes. He blamed a lack of “good business” practices, such as not raising prices for MWR programs, for the decision to cut the Army MWR budget.

“It’s good for families,” Love told Military.com. “But it’s not sustainable.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the Air Force vet who will kick off USAA’s free music festival

Miami-based DJ and Air Force veteran Rodrigo Arana – AKA DJ KA5 – is cooking up something special for his featured guest appearance in the USAA Lounge at BaseFEST this weekend. But don’t expect him to just cue up a list of Top 40 hits and fire them off, one after another. He approaches deejaying the way a trained specialist approaches a mission: he plans, he prepares, he drills, and then, when he’s got you captive on the dance floor, he executes.

Result: the beat drops and you lose your mind.


“I’m always about bringing those vibes that are taking you back to that certain time that was good for you [and] I’m always about trying to perfect my craft. That’s something that the military taught me: you can always do better.”

BaseFEST Powered by USAA kicked off in 2017 with two huge festival dates at Camp Lejune and NAS Pensacola, gathering over 20,000+ fans for each and creating a fun atmosphere of appreciation and support for servicemembers, their families, and friends.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
Miami-based DJ and Air Force veteran Rodrigo Arana u2013 also known asu00a0DJ KA5.
(Photo by USAA)

The mission of the festival is “to provide a platform to give back to family programs on base, boost morale for troops and their families, and build strong base communities that are the backbone of our military.” Musical acts like DNCE, Dustin Lynch, Ha Ha Tonka, and DJ KA5 provide a live and lively soundtrack to a wide variety of activities, games, exhibits, and dining.

This year, BaseFEST is back with four dates announced, starting with Fort Bliss, TX on May 12th.

For Arana, playing BaseFEST is a chance to reconnect with his veteran family, to celebrate the military education that helped set him on the path to doing what he loves.

“Deejaying is about creating a vibe and creating a feeling. You’re painting. A different song is a different color and you’re creating a masterpiece. So by the end of the night, you step back and you look at the whole paining and you realize how you did this for somebody else.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

Last survivor of group that killed foreign cyclists in Tajikistan dies in prison

DUSHANBE — The sole survivor of a group of attackers who killed four Western cyclists in Tajikistan in 2018 has died in a prison in the capital, Dushanbe.


Mansurjon Umarov, chief of the Main Directorate at the Tajik Justice Ministry’s Penitentiary Service, told RFE/RL on March 3 that prosecutors were investigating the cause of death of Hussein Abdusamadov, who was serving a life sentence for his role in the killing of the foreign cyclists on the Dushanbe-Danghara highway in July 2018.

“Abdusamadov’s body has been sent for an autopsy to exclude torture or violence as his cause of death,” Umarov said, stressing that Abdusamadov “was a dangerous terrorist.”

Abdusamadov’s relatives confirmed the report, telling RFE/RL that they received his body on March 2.

Four cyclists — an American woman and man, a Dutchman, and a Swiss man — were killed on July 29, 2018, when attackers plowed their vehicle into the group on a road and then stabbed some of them.

Two other foreign cyclists survived the attack, which occurred about 150 kilometers south of Dushanbe.

Four suspects in the attack, Zafarjon Safarov, Asomuddin Majidov, Jafariddin Yusupov, and Asliddin Yusupov, were killed by Tajik security forces.

Abdusamadov, who was named the group’s leader, survived, was found guilty of murder in November 2018.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after it occurred and released a video showing five men — at least some of whom appeared to resemble those identified by Tajik officials as suspects killed in a confrontation with security forces — pledging allegiance to the leader of IS.

The Tajik government, however, rejected the claim and instead blamed followers of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a political party that was banned by authoritarian President Emomali Rahmon’s government in 2015.

The leadership of the IRPT — which served for several years in the Tajik government — has denied involvement and called the authorities’ claims “shameless and illogical slander.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

This is the French aircraft carrier headed to Syria for payback

As French citizens deal with the emotions that surround the Paris attacks that killed 129 people and left many more wounded, the French military has come out swinging against ISIS. Land-based aircraft already deployed on anti-ISIS missions struck targets Sunday night across Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital. Ten jets dropped 20 bombs, striking a command center, a recruitment center, a munitions depot, and a training camp, according to the BBC.


Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
The Charles de Gaulle sails beside the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Mediterranean Sea in 2012. Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julia A. Casper

But France’s 10 planes in the region can only do so much. Resultantly, France was already sending an aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, to the region. It can host 40 aircraft and is expected to have 20 strike aircraft onboard when it arrives in the Gulf.

During a Feb. to Apr. 2015 deployment against ISIS in Iraq, the de Gaulle launched 10-15 combat sorties per day for months.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
A French Dassault Rafale performs a touch-and-go landing. Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Denny Cantrell

The carrier’s most advanced aircraft are its Dassault Rafales, multirole fighter aircraft that can fire a variety of precision bombs and rocket-boosted munitions at targets. They also carry 30mm cannons with 2,500 rounds for gun runs against enemy personnel and light vehicles.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
A French Super Etendard launches from the USS John C. Stennis during joint naval training. Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Denny Cantrell

In addition to its Rafales, the de Gaulle is bringing Super Etendard strike fighters. The Super Etendard brings two 30mm cannons, more GPS guided bombs, and laser-guided missiles to the fight.

Charles de Gaulle also carries a number of support planes to enable the strike aircraft.

The carrier is capable of launching a plane every thirty seconds. Since the carrier has strong catapults to assist the launch, the planes can take off with full fuel and weapons loads so they can strike plenty of targets.

U.S. and French intelligence sharing and military cooperation will be important as France steps up its campaign in Syria. The U.S. provided some of the intelligence that enabled Sunday’s strikes in Raqqa, and that partnership will surely lead to more French strike missions in the coming months. Luckily, the Charles de Gaulle already knows how to work with the U.S.

The French Navy in general and the Charles de Gaulle in particular have experience working with the U.S. The Charles de Gaulle supported America’s invasion of Afghanistan, was a hub for the strikes in Libya that ousted Muammer Qaddafi, and previously struck ISIS targets in Iraq.

Vive la France, et salute!

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

COVID-19 and the geopolitics of petroleum

Joseph V. Micallef is a best-selling military history and world affairs author, and keynote speaker. Follow him on Twitter @JosephVMicallef.

Of all the world’s commodities, petroleum best epitomizes the geopolitical consequences of natural resources. Countries that were fortunate to possess large reserves of hydrocarbons found themselves with incredible wealth and in control of a powerful driver of economic development. Countries that were unable to produce enough oil and gas for their needs found themselves vulnerable to supply disruptions and at a major geopolitical disadvantage.


The oil and gas industry had a significant Achilles heel, however. Oil and gas development had significant up-front development costs but, in many cases, relatively low operating costs. Once a well was brought into production, the cost of keeping it operating was relatively low, even if the revenue was insufficient to amortize the development cost. The result was that, historically, the oil and gas industry has been subject to volatile swings in pricing.

In 1919, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) was charged with setting production levels among Texas oil producers in order to control the supply and stabilize prices. From 1930 through 1960, the TRC was largely responsible for setting the price of oil worldwide.

In 1960, a group of oil-producing countries, led by Saudi Arabia, adopted the TRC model and formed the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to regulate oil production and stabilize prices. OPEC did not eliminate oil price volatility, but its willingness to regulate its production levels helped moderate some of the pricing instability. Between 2000 and 2020, average yearly oil prices varied from a low of .99 per barrel in 2001, to a high of 2.58 per barrel in 2011. The average price in 2019 was .92 per barrel. Currently, average oil prices are approximately per barrel.

Canada, Russia, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, all significant oil producers, were among the oil-producing countries that did not join OPEC. The U.S., a major producer, began to import oil in 1959. Although the U.S. still imports oil, it has been a net exporter of both refined petroleum products and crude oil since November 2019.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram

OPEC’s share of the global oil market peaked at slightly more than 50% in 1973. In 2019, it was approximately 30%. Energy conservation; new discoveries; improvements in drilling and production technology; and, most significantly, the development of horizontal drilling to open “tight” oil- and gas-bearing formations and the development of the Canadian tar sands, have all cut into OPEC’s market share. In addition, Asia, principally China, India and Japan, have now become the main market for OPEC’s exports.

In 2017, Russia, along with 10 other non-OPEC oil-producing countries, agreed to coordinate production cuts with the group in order to stabilize prices. The countries were referred to as the “Vienna Group” and the arrangement as OPEC+. The agreement represented a strategic alignment of Saudi Arabia and Russia to rationalize prices. It lasted through March 2020.

One of the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was a sharp drop of approximately one to two million barrels per day (BOPD) in world demand for petroleum. In early March, OPEC agreed to extend its current cutbacks of 2.1 million BOPD and to reduce production by an additional 1.5 BOPD to a total of 3.6 million BOPD.

OPEC requested that Russia and the other 10 oil-producing countries in the OPEC+ group decrease their production by an additional 500,000 BOPD. Russia refused to accept the additional production cuts, arguing that any production cutbacks would simply be made up by American shale oil producers.

In retaliation, Saudi Arabia declared that it would flood world oil markets in a quest to regain lost market share and indirectly punish Russia for its unwillingness to cooperate.

Within a matter of days, world oil prices cratered by approximately 60%. The collapse of oil prices, coupled with rising anxiety over the economic consequences of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, triggered widespread economic turmoil and a marked decline in financial markets.

U.S. Strategic Interests and OPEC

The governments of both Russia and Saudi Arabia are heavily dependent on petroleum exports to fund the bulk of their expenditures. In Riyadh’s case, oil exports supply 70% of its revenues; in Moscow’s case, the number is approximately 46%. Both countries have sovereign funds designed to cover shortfalls in government revenues from falling oil prices. Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund had 0 billion in assets, while Russia’s National Wealth Fund had approximately 4 billion at the end of 2019.

The Trump administration was quick to characterize the Saudi and Russian decisions to increase oil production as a thinly veiled attack on American shale oil producers. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 7.7 million BOPD, or about 2.81 billion barrels, of crude oil were produced from tight oil formations in the United States in 2019. This was equal to about 63% of total U.S. crude oil production last year.

This was not the first time that Saudi Arabia had tried to use low prices to force the producers of the more expensive shale oil out of the market. In response, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would buy up to 77 million barrels of oil from American producers for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Funding for these purchases was not, however, included in the recently passed 2020 Cares Act. In the meantime, the TRC announced that it would consider limiting Texas oil production to stabilize prices. Texas represents 40% of U.S. oil production.

Pundits were quick to take positions on which country, Saudi Arabia or Russia, would be able to hold out the longest in the ensuing price war. Meanwhile, television commentators pointed out that lower gasoline prices represented a boon for American consumers.

The more germane questions, however, are where does the U.S. interest lie? Is the U.S. better off from lower or higher petroleum prices? What are the consequences of lower oil prices on America’s strategic interests around the world?

From the 1960s through 2013, the U.S. was the largest net importer of petroleum in the world. Lower petroleum prices were in America’s interest as they decreased the balance of payments deficit created by oil imports and represented savings to American households. Today, gasoline costs represent around 2% of average household income. So even significant reductions in gasoline prices are not going to represent a major change in a family’s income — certainly not in respect to the current economic turmoil.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram

Moreover, given that the U.S. is now a net exporter of oil and natural gas, lower prices reduce its export earnings. Additionally, over the last two decades, the U.S. shale oil industry has emerged as an important driver of economic development and a source of high-paying blue-collar jobs. On balance, the U.S. economy would be better off if prices returned to their -to- pre-crash levels than if they continue at their current depressed levels.

From Washington’s standpoint, the strategic implications of low oil prices around the world are mixed. On the one hand, low oil prices are a significant constraint on the Russian government and on the Kremlin’s ability to fund the expansion and modernization of Russian military forces. Russia needs oil prices at around a barrel or higher to balance its budget, and closer to to finance the more ambitious social and military programs that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to implement.

On the other hand, low oil prices threaten to destabilize countries that are American allies and to create new areas of regional instability or aggravate existing ones. This is particularly true of the Gulf region, but also of countries such as Nigeria and Mexico. Roughly one-third of Mexico’s federal budget comes from oil exports.

The average cost of producing a barrel of oil in the world is around . It’s a difficult number to pin down because operating costs are typically in local currency and are affected by exchange rates, as well as each country’s relative market share. Costs per country, however, can vary dramatically.

The U.K., whose North Sea oil fields are mature and declining, has a production cost of per barrel. Norway, whose oil fields are in a similar position, has an operating cost of .10 per barrel. On average, the amortization of capital costs typically represents about 50% of operating costs. Direct production, overhead, taxes and transportation costs represent the other half.

The U.S., where oil shale production represents two-thirds of output, has an equally high cost at .20. Brazil and Canada, whose new oil production is particularly capital intensive, have costs of .80 per barrel and per barrel, respectively. Russia’s average production cost is around .20, although the cost of new production, especially in its Arctic oil fields, is much higher.

At the other extreme, Saudi Arabia has a production cost of .90 per barrel, while Kuwait has the lowest production cost at .50. Across OPEC, the average production cost is probably between and per barrel. That means, at current prices, most OPEC producers’ costs exceed revenues after they factor in capital costs.

Only Iraq, Iran and the UAE have costs comparable to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. In short, current oil prices are unsustainable long term. Even those countries that can produce oil profitably at these levels cannot produce enough to make up in volume the revenues they need to fund government expenditures. In the short term, prices may drop even lower but, in the long term, low prices are both unsustainable and extremely destabilizing politically.

The trends that produced the current instability in petroleum markets are not new. They have been in process for some time. The COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated those trends and brought them to a culmination faster and more dramatically than would otherwise have been the case. Ironically, instead of dealing with the consequence of “peak oil” and skyrocketing prices, today we are dealing with too much production capacity and insufficient demand.

For much of its existence, OPEC has been an American nemesis, a position underscored in 1973 when the Arab members of OPEC (OAPEC) embargoed oil shipments to the U.S. in response to American aid to Israel. Historically, as a net consumer of oil, the U.S. wanted lower prices, while producers wanted higher prices. Today, however, it’s a different world, one in which the interests of OPEC and the U.S. are more closely aligned.

Prices in the to range are sufficient to keep the U.S. shale oil industry economic and afford OPEC members a basis of financial stability. It’s also in Russia’s interest, as it stabilizes the Kremlin’s finances, even if it falls short of Moscow’s more ambitious goals. In the meantime, the U.S. petroleum industry will continue to innovate and to bring down its shale oil production costs, while continuing to expand its liquefied natural gas export capability. Moreover, the U.S. would likely get Canada, Brazil, the U.K. and Norway to participate, even if unofficially, in such an arrangement. The Alberta provincial government is already limiting oil production.

In light of the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. and the global economy, stabilizing the oil market and a key American industrial sector would be a first step in repairing the economic damage. It’s time for Washington to make a deal with OPEC and Russia to stabilize the oil market, even if that means the U.S. must agree to some production cuts or export curtailment to ensure price stability.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A walrus just attacked and sunk Russian navy boat

In a kind of odd man-versus-nature moment, a Russian navy boat was attacked and sunk by a walrus during an expedition in the Arctic, the Barents Observer reported Sept. 23, 2019.

The Altai, a tugboat of the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet, sailed to the Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic carrying researchers from the Russian Geographical Society.

“The polar latitudes are fraught with many dangers,” the research group posted in a recent press update.

One of those dangers is apparently walruses, a monstrously large animal that can weigh up to a few thousand pounds and can be quite ferocious when threatened.


To get ashore from the Altai, the researchers and other expedition participants had to rely on smaller landing craft.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram

The Altai sitting offshore as a landing craft appears to move in.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

During one landing, the “group of researchers had to flee from a female walrus, which, while protecting its cubs, attacked an expedition boat,” the Northern Fleet said.

The navy added that “serious troubles were avoided thanks to the clear and well-coordinated actions of the Northern Fleet servicemembers, who were able to take the boat away from the animals without harming them.”

The Barents Observer reports that a drone was being operated in close proximity to the walruses. It is unclear if this is what triggered the aggression.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram

A walrus.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

While the Russian military makes no mention of any equipment losses, the Geographical Society had a bit more to say on what happened.

“Walruses attacked the participating boat,” the research group explained. “The boat sank, but the tragedy was avoided thanks to the clear actions of the squad leader. All the landing participants safely reached the shore.”

This wasn’t the Russian navy’s first run-in with walruses.

This past May, photos believed to be from 2006 surfaced online of a large walrus napping on top of a Russian submarine.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mattis isn’t sure he can work with John Bolton

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is reportedly not happy about the new appointment of noted foreign policy hawk John Bolton as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor.


Mattis “told colleagues before the appointment was announced that he would find it difficult to work with Mr. Bolton,” according to the New York Times.

The reason, the Times reports, has to do with Bolton’s aggressive rhetoric when it comes to the US’s adversaries, especially Iran and North Korea.

Also read: 9 John Bolton quotes that prove he’s the worst national security ‘expert’

As a general in the Marine Corps, Mattis himself was aggressive towards Iran — so much so that former President Barack Obama replaced him as CENTCOM commander. His selection as Trump’s secretary of defense led some to worry that he would bring that attitude to the White House.

But since Mattis’ appointment, he has seemingly reversed his course. He argued in support for the continuation of the Iran deal in October 2017, something that Bolton has repeatedly said should be torn up.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
John Bolton. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The defense secretary joins prominent Democrats, as well as former Bush and Obama administration officials, who have reservations about Bolton’s hiring.

With the appointment of Bolton, Mattis looks even more like a moderate — and if the recent shake-ups in the White House are any indication, that may put him on the wrong side of the president.

More: These 3 active duty officers served as National Security Advisor before McMaster

Mattis was a close ally of now-fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, reportedly having breakfast with him every week. He has notably been reluctant to talk about military actions in North Korea.

“This is a diplomatically led effort,” Mattis told reporters asking for details on his plans regarding North Korea in early March 2018. “So I do not want to talk about Korea at all. I’ll leave it to those who are leading the effort, the State Department, and the NSC.”

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is also said to be unenthusiastic about Bolton’s appointment, reportedly because he is worried that Bolton will “behave like a cabinet official rather than a staff member.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

White House soldiers under fire for ‘improper contact’ in Vietnam

Three US Army noncommissioned officers in the White House Communications Agency were reportedly reassigned after they allegedly had improper contact with foreign women during President Donald Trump’s trip to Vietnam, The Washington Post reported Nov. 21.


The three soldiers reportedly broke curfew while Trump visited the country, one of several stops he made during his 12-day tour of Asia, earlier this month.

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram
Trump aboard the USS Iowa.

“We are aware of the incident, and it is currently under investigation,” Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright said in The Post.

Read Also: Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s trip to Asia

The White House Communications Agency is a multi-branch military unit “dedicated to providing … vital information services and communications support to the president and his staff,” according to the US Defense Information Systems Agency.

The news comes on the heels of similar allegations of misconduct from a White House Communications Agency detail assigned to Vice President Mike Pence during his trip to Panama in August.

Two soldiers and two Airmen on Pence’s communications team were reportedly caught on camera bringing women back to their hotel, a secure area, NBC News reported at the time. Pence was reportedly still in the US when the incident occurred.

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