Recently in Military Category

North Korea's missles

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Damnable if true - from the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success
North Korea’s missile programme has made astounding strides over the past two years. An arsenal that had been based on short- and medium-range missiles along with an intermediate-range Musudan that repeatedly failed flight tests, has suddenly been supplemented by two new missiles: the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14. No other country has transitioned from a medium-range capability to an ICBM in such a short time. What explains this rapid progression? The answer is simple. North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine (LPE) from a foreign source.

Available evidence clearly indicates that the LPE is based on the Soviet RD-250 family of engines, and has been modified to operate as the boosting force for the Hwasong-12 and -14. An unknown number of these engines were probably acquired though illicit channels operating in Russia and/or Ukraine. North Korea’s need for an alternative to the failing Musudan and the recent appearance of the RD-250 engine along with other evidence, suggests the transfers occurred within the past two years.

And the possible source? Agents from an ally of ours - the Ukraine

The maiden appearance of the modified RD-250 in September 2016 roughly coincides with North Korea’s decision to halt Musudan testing. It is reasonable to speculate that Kim’s engineers knew the Musudan presented grim or insurmountable technical challenges, which prompted a search for an alternative. If North Korea began its quest to identify and procure a new LPE in 2016, the start of the search would have occurred in the same year Yuzhnoye was experiencing the full impact of its financial shortfalls. This is not to suggest that the Ukrainian government was involved, and not necessarily Yuzhnoye executives. Workers at Yuzhnoye facilities in Dnipropetrovsk and Pavlograd were likely the first ones to suffer the consequences of the economic misfortunes, leaving them susceptible to exploitation by unscrupulous traders, arms dealers and transnational criminals operating in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere.

A long and interesting read - the authors really did their homework with identifying the engine make and model.

Here is a transcript of General Matis' statement today from American Military News:

The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] poses a threat to global security and stability. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.

Can not get any clearer than that - Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man has a lot more to say on the subject:

Is war with North Korea inevitable?
Like many of my readers, I've been following developments in North Korea with great interest and growing concern. I think Kim Jong-Un is not so much deranged, as living in an alternate reality. He's surrounded by a party political apparatus that, through a bizarre cult of personality, seeks to semi-deify him in the eyes of the North Korean people, just as it did his father and grandfather. That means the only feedback he receives on a regular basis is fawning approval and approbation. He hears few, if any, voices that dare to "speak truth to power" - and those few that have tried, have died. He has little or no idea of US determination to prevent him putting his outrageous nuclear threats into action.

Perhaps the best summation of the current situation is provided by Larry Lambert.

The fat little dictator, Kim Jong Un, playing his 'mouse that roared' scenario is over-playing his hand, but there's nobody close to him who can explain it in a way that he will understand.

. . .

North Korean leaders have prepared for only one kind of warfare and have no experience fighting it. There is a grave danger that North Korea will misperceive or misinterpret US and Allied intentions.

. . .

Chinese leaders have fundamental differences with the US about the nature of the crisis, who must take the lead in a confrontation with North Korea and about the aims of sanctions. In short, the Chinese leaders do not trust the US leaders to behave in a way consistent with Chinese best interests.

The Trump Administration is not the Obama Administration and SECDEF Mattis is not some jumped-up political appointee. I still anticipate a kinetic war that will likely go nuclear on the Korean Peninsula within the next 5-6 months. The Norks are increasing hysterical and emotional and as stated above, their naive world view would likely cause them to react to something that is not intended as 'preemptive action'. When missiles are flying back and forth, China, on the border with North Korea has far more to lose than they do by sanctioning North Korea and starving them into backing down -- but they're still very slow to do that.

My own personal judgment is that the Norks themselves are past the point of no-return.

A good analysis - more at the site. Peter is ex-military and has a good sense of situational awareness.

From USA Today:

Trump White House weighs unprecedented plan to privatize much of the war in Afghanistan
The White House is actively considering a bold plan to turn over a big chunk of the U.S. war in Afghanistan to private contractors in an effort to turn the tide in a stalemated war, according to the former head of a security firm pushing the project.

Under the proposal, 5,500 private contractors, primarily former Special Operations troops, would advise Afghan combat forces. The plan also includes a 90-plane private air force that would provide air support in the nearly 16-year-old war against Taliban insurgents, Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm, told USA TODAY.

The unprecedented proposal comes as the U.S.-backed Afghan military faces a stalemate in the war and growing frustration by President Trump about the lack of progress in the war.

Makes a lot of sense - they don't win? They don't get paid. Finish the thing once and for all. The Afghani people have got to be sick of being a political pawn for the last 40 years.

Now this will be interesting to see

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From FOX News:

Iran poised to launch rocket into space, as North Korea readies another missile test, US officials say
Two enemies of America are poised for upcoming rocket launches, two senior U.S. officials told Fox News, with another North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile launch expected as soon as Wednesday night and Iran on the verge of sending its own vehicle into space.

Iran's Simorgh space-launch vehicle is believed to be carrying a satellite, marking the second time in more than a year that Tehran has attempted to put an operational satellite into orbit -- something the Islamic Republic has never done successfully, according to one of the officials who has not authorized to discuss a confidential assessment.

More at the site - my worry is not a re-entrant vehicle (ICBM), my worry is a satellite with an atomic bomb (however crude) in a polar orbit. The polar orbit revolves near each of the poles and every pass covers a different 'slice' of the planet. It is sometimes called a 'ball of string' orbit - looking at a wound ball of string gives you the idea. All Iran or North Korea has to do is detonate this bomb 200 miles over a large city and the resultant EMP will take out the power grid and most communications for a 500 mile radius.

Afloat again - USS Constitution

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Ready for another 200 years - from gCaptain:

America’s Oldest Commissioned Warship Refloated After Two-Year Restoration
America’s oldest commissioned warship, USS Constitution, was finally refloated on Sunday following a two-year, multi-million dollar restoration at the historic Charlestown Navy Yard, located at the Boston National Historical Park.

USS Constitution entered the yard’s Dry Dock 1 on May 18, 2015, and since then ship restorers and teams of Constitution Sailors have worked side-by-side to bring Old Ironsides back to her glory.

The restoration included the replacement of 100 hull planks and the required caulking, the re-building of the ship’s cutwater on the bow, as well as the on-going preservation and repair of the ship’s rigging, upper masts and yards. One of the biggest tasks in the restoration was the replacement of Constitution’s copper sheathing below the waterline. Copper sheathing has covered the lower hull since her launch in 1797, as protection against ship worms that could damage the wooden hull.

Quite the bit of American history. She was instrumental in the Barbary wars against the Muslim pirates and slave-traders.

Great story from Reuters:

Mattis bristles at Pentagon waste of $28 million on Afghan uniforms
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has criticized Pentagon officials for wasting as much as $28 million by making a questionable choice of forest camouflage-patterned uniforms for Afghan National Army soldiers.

The uniform pattern was selected without evaluating its effectiveness when only 2.1 percent of Afghanistan is covered by forests, the U.S. government's top watchdog on Afghanistan said in a report last month.

And the General's comments:

"Cavalier or casually acquiescent decisions to spend taxpayer dollars in an ineffective and wasteful manner are not to recur," Mattis wrote.

"Rather than minimize this report or excuse wasteful decisions, I expect all DoD (Department of Defense) organizations to use this error as a catalyst to bring to light wasteful practices - and take aggressive steps to end waste."

I would not want to be the person who ordered the wrong camo.

From the US Naval Institute:

Trump: Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford ‘100,000-ton Message to the World’
President Donald Trump made a case for continued American military dominance and congressional support for his pending defense budget against the backdrop of the entrance of the world’s largest warship into service on Saturday.

In a speech during the commissioning ceremony of the next-generation aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), Trump proclaimed the ship would be a message of strength and deterrence while praising the crew and Newport News Shipbuilding shipbuilders in the ceremony in Ford’s hangar bay.

“American steel and American hands have constructed a 100,000-ton message to the world,” Trump said. “American might is second to none and we’re getting bigger and better and stronger everyday in my administration. That I can tell you.”

Trump quoted the ship namesake President Gerald R. Ford’s position on military readiness and Ford’s belief that U.S. lack of preparation before World War II encouraged enemies to fight harder.

Yesterday's two hour ceremony can be watched here: VIDEO: Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford Commissioning Ceremony

Pork in the news

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First, it is the Joint Strike Fighter - the F-35 which is hamstrung because it was designed by a committee. It cannot do any one thing well because it tries to do too much of everything. More here, here, here and here.

Now, it seems that the US Navy is having its own share of problems. From Popular Mechanics:

The Navy Is Looking for a New Frigate to Replace the Troubled Littoral Combat Ship
The U.S. Navy has solicited industry for a new frigate design, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with the troubled, frigate-sized Littoral Combat Ships. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) fell victim to a combination of technological overreach and a changing geopolitical environment that made the ships minimally capable, unreliable, and obsolete in a world of variable global threats. In its place, the Navy wants a more traditional guided-missile frigate design capable of tackling larger, more complex roles.

I love that phrase "technological overreach" - translated, it means that this was designed - yet again - by a committee and cannot do any one thing well because...

We need to build our military but we should first start by cutting these pork projects.

Great news from Red State:

Military Judge Gives Bowe Bergdahl A Lot Of Bad News
When Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released by the Taliban in 2014 he was feted by the Obama administration despite ample evidence that he was actually a deserter. His parent were guests at a Rose Garden ceremony with Obama, himself. Habitual and reflexive liar Susan Rice took to the Sunday shows to reprise her bravura performance after Benghazi, in this case she told a lie so monstrous that even CNN’s Jim Acosta, who never saw an Obama-related knob shoe he couldn’t polish, was shocked:

RICE: I realize there has been a lot of discussion and controversy around this. What I was referring to is the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That in itself is a very honorable thing.
ACOSTA: But ‘honor and distinction?’

Because of the omelet sizzling on the face of Obama and Rice and others, there seemed to be an initial attempt to fix the case so Bergdahl could just go away.

The case was swept under the rug and out of sight of the mainstream media thanks to Obama's influence but last week:

Last week, the military judge overseeing the trial rendered two adverse decisions. First, he decided that Bergdahl will stand trial on all charges. Most damaging, though, was his decision that if Bergdahl is convicted that the jury would be allowed to hear about the injuries suffered by an Navy SEAL and an Army NCO while specifically searching for Bergdahl.

Serious wounds to a soldier and a Navy SEAL who searched for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can be used at the sentencing phase of his upcoming trial, a judge ruled Friday, giving prosecutors significant leverage to pursue stiff punishment against the soldier.

The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, ruled that the service members wouldn’t have wound up in the firefights that left them wounded if they hadn’t been searching for Bergdahl, so their injuries would be relevant to his sentencing if he’s convicted of misbehavior before the enemy at trial in October.

I suspect we are heading for a guilty plea and Bergdahl taking his chances with a military judge. Any court-martial panel Bergdahl draws will be composed of officers with combat tours. Bergdahl can demand that a third of his jury be composed of noncommissioned officers senior in rank to him–but he’d have to have a profoundly incompetent defense team for them to think that senior NCOs are going to be very sympathetic to his case.

Good - throw the book at the guy as a lesson to others.

From Popular Mechanics:

The U.S. Navy Is Considering Un-Retiring a Bunch of Old Frigates
The U.S. Navy is "taking a hard look" at reactivating decommissioned frigates to help it reach its goal of 355 ships. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates were retired in the 2000s in a cost-cutting move, but they could be returned to duty for another decade or more of service.

The Perry-class frigate was designed in the 1970s as an escort for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Although they weighed only 4,100 tons, the Perry frigates were excellent mixed-mission vessels. Their main weapon system was a Mark 13 guided missile launcher, capable of firing SM-1MR surface to air missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles and fed from a 40-round internal magazine. (Ironically this gave the frigates more potential anti-ship firepower than a modern U.S. Navy cruiser.) The frigates also wielded a single Italian-made 3-inch rapid-fire gun, six anti-submarine torpedo tubes, a Phalanx close-in weapon system for last-ditch defense, and carried a single SH-2 Seasprite or SH-60 helicopter.

All good, solid and upgradable weapons systems. What with North Korea acting stupid, we need to be able to operate on several fronts at once.

Serious cost overruns, tactical insufficiency, poor handling, the F-35 is how not to build an airplane. We could have purchased the Saab JAS 39 Gripen and come out way ahead for half the money. Now this - from Defense One:

US Air Force Grounds F-35s at Arizona Base
The U.S. Air Force has grounded 55 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Arizona’s Luke Air Force base following five incidents in which pilots experienced symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

The pilots “reported physiological incidents while flying” but a backup oxygen system turned on, allowing them to land safely, Capt. Mark Graff, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon, said in an email Friday afternoon.

Will this stinker ever fly correctly?

Talk about Cultural Appropriation

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From the military website Duffel Blog:

ISIS Condemns Kathy Griffin For Cultural Appropriation
RAQQA, Syria — The self-proclaimed Islamic State has issued a statement condemning self-proclaimed comedian Kathy Griffin, accusing her of “cultural appropriation” after she posed for a photograph with a mock severed head of President Donald Trump.

The group, which has been protective of its brand ever since taking over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria and establishing itself as the premier beheading agency in the Middle East, said it was deeply disturbed by Griffin’s “ignorant and offensive” use of a “sacred Islamic State tradition.”

“This is just another example of a privileged white woman culturally appropriating the proud custom of a marginalized people. Beheadings are our thing, not your thing,” said the statement, which was released on Telegram.

Duffel Blog is a work of satire - fun to read.

A great Mad Dog quote

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From Breitbart:

Mattis: Nothing Keeps Me Awake at Night, I Keep Other People Awake at Night
Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis was asked what keeps him up at night.

Mattis replied, “Nothing, I keep other people awake at night.”

Perfect answer.

From Defense One:

New Tactics, Quicker Decisions Are Helping to ‘Annihilate’ ISIS, Pentagon Says
President Donald Trump’s new war plan for the Islamic State is working well, said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.

In their first joint appearance since Trump took office, the Pentagon leaders characterized ISIS as a shadow of its former self and doomed to lose all of its territory. They credited looser restrictions on generals and a shift to surround-and-annihilate tactics.

Trump came into office this year pledging a new approach, promising to hit ISIS faster and harder, threatening to fire top U.S. commanders, and demanding a new war plan on his desk within 60 days. What’s new isn’t the strategy — the U.S. is still executing the Obama-era “by, with, through” approach in which direct assaults are conducted by local partner forces. But less than four months after Trump took office, Mattis said the operational and tactical difference has been clear.

“He made the decision. We took the decision and executed it for an accelerated campaign,” Mattis said. “No longer will we have slow decision cycles because Washington, D.C., has to authorize tactical movements on the ground.”

And by the looks of it, the Saudis will have skin in the game when we sell them billions of dollars of US made ordnance. Plus the repair and maintenence parts. And upgrades. They will be paying us money for the next 30 years. Win/Win

Fat-boy Kim is just asking for it - from the London Daily Mail:

Kim Jong-Un fires ANOTHER ballistic missile that lands 60 miles from RUSSIA - after months of threatening Trump with nuclear war and days after a new president took office in South Korea
Kim Jong-Un has fired a ballistic missile 500 miles into the Sea of Japan in the latest show of force amid tensions with the US.

The launch took place in a region named Kusong located northwest of the capital, Pyongyang, where the North previously test-launched an intermediate-range missile it is believed to be developing.

A US official told CNN the missile landed in water 60 miles south of Russia's Vladivostok region, home of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

More at the site. Everyone is watching, Kim is facing some economic powerhouses with China, Japan, Russia and the United States (with a hawk for President). Is he trying a Mouse that Roared scenario?

Due out July 21st - website - story: Dunkirk evacuation

Interesting preparations - China

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From The Korea Times:

'Don't move or I'll shoot' - China teaching Korean to soldiers on N. Korean border
Chinese soldiers stationed along the North Korean border are learning Korean in case North Koreans cross the border to flee any U.S. attacks, according to a Japanese news outlet Tuesday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun said the soldiers are memorizing phrases such as "Stop" or "Don't move or I'll shoot" in Korean, citing sources familiar with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).

"The PLA is teaching Korean to soldiers near the North Korean border in case North Korean refugees start flocking into China if a military conflict arises between the U.S. and North Korea," the newspaper said.

The moment the North Korean government is destabilized, there will be a flood of refugees. A united Korea would be an economic powerhouse.

Coming to a head in Nork

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Fat-boy Kim is making more threats. The USA just moved a THAAD missle system in to South Korea. Now China is pissed. From Yahoo News:

THAAD missile defense system initially capable in S.Korea - sources
The U.S. military's THAAD missile defense system in South Korea has reached an initial operating capability to defend against North Korean missiles, U.S. officials said on Monday, forging ahead with the system despite staunch objections from China.

Beijing has opposed activation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), arguing the system's radar could be used to spy into its territory, despite assurances from Washington that THAAD is purely defensive.

The United States is looking for China to use its influence with Pyongyang to rein in its advancing nuclear and missile programs, and it is unclear how Beijing will react to the development.

Heh - the THAAD is good - great kill rate in the latest round of testing and because it relies on kinetic energy to destroy the incoming missle, it is a lot safer than using conventional ordnance.

More claims from The Best Korea

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Fat-boy Kim is losing his marbles - from South Korea's Yonhap News Agency:

N. Korea threatens to sink U.S. nuclear submarine deployed to S. Korea
After the United States deployed a nuclear-powered submarine and an aircraft carrier to South Korean waters amid high inter-Korean tensions, North Korea on Sunday threatened to sink the underwater vessel, accusing America of stepping up military intimidation.

"The moment the USS Michigan tries to budge even a little, it will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming a underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface," the North's propaganda website Uriminzokkiri said in a posting.

"The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic," the website claimed.

Kim is stepping things up to where he can not back down while saving face. I hope he doesn't have any nuclear surprises in his satellite.

I did not write about their spectacular missile launch failure the other day as I wanted to wait and see what hard data shook out. This news report is unusual but plausible - a couple of links:

If we did hack their missiles, it would be an incredible feat - the hackers would have to break through the Korean firewall that isolates their country. More likely an inside job by a very brave soul.

About ten years too late

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From Defense Systems:

DARPA tasks BAE with workaround to secure the power grid in event of massive attack
The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and BAE Systems are working to forge alternative communication networks that would come into use in case of a cyberattack on the U.S. electrical power grid.

Although the aim is to ensure safe connectivity among all of the civilian nodes which depend upon the power grid, the program is particularly focused on securing defense networks and operational combat activities.

The program, called Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems (RADICS), consists of a variety of technical capabilities. These include an ability to recognize or provide early warning of impending attacks, map conventional and industrial control systems networks, ad hoc network formation and analysis of control systems, a DARPA statement said.

It is one thing to come up with an idea and a cool acronym. Another thing entirely to actually implement it in an effective way. They should have been thinking about this ten or twenty years ago. North Korea has a satellite in a ball of string orbit which covers the USA every couple of days. There is a reason why the world banned atmospheric testing back in the 1960's

The first use in combat - from FOX News:

US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan after Green Beret killed
The U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, just days after a Green Beret was killed fighting ISIS there, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox News.

The GBU-43B, a 21,000-pound conventional bomb, was dropped on an ISIS tunnel complex in Nangarhar Province.

The MOAB -- Massive Ordinance Air Blast -- is also known as the “Mother Of All bombs.” It was first tested in 2003, but hadn't been used in combat before Thursday.

And this comment:

"As [ISIS'] losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense," Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. "This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against [ISIS]."

As a wonderful person once said - Punch back twice as hard. More here, and here. A perfect response - you hurt one of ours? We will destroy 1,000 of yours. Next? Wonder if this was a practice run for North Korea - they use a lot of tunnels too...

Outsourcing the Syria problem

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Great idea from T. Rex - from The Duffleblog:

Pentagon awards contract to United Airlines to forcibly remove Assad
The Pentagon announced Tuesday it had awarded a sole-source contract to United Airlines for work related to the forcible removal of President Bashar al-Assad from Syria.

The contract, worth $2.1 billion, tasks the airline company with locating Assad, grabbing him from his seat in the presidential palace, and “dragging him out of Damascus by his arms.” The contract also notes that Assad should be “asked several times, politely” to give up his seat of power, though if he refuses, United workers should bloody his nose up a bit, according to the posting at FedBizOpps.

Heh - unfortunately, The Duffleblog is a satire site... Would have been fun to see.

From Popular Mechanics:

Putin Could Have Tried to Shoot Down Trump's Missiles. Why Didn't He?
Russia-watchers have spent a lot a time wondering: Just what would Vladimir Putin do if he were directly challenged on Syria? Well, now it's happened. Last night, the United States launched a volley of cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield.

This is not one of those situations where Putin had no options. He was warned of the strikes in advance—a good and smart move, given that Russian personnel are stationed at the targeted airbase. With that information in hand, Russia could have tried to intercept America's missiles. It did not. Here's what Putin might be thinking.

A lot more at the site - very good analysis. The Russians had about one hour of warning before launch and the flight time of the Tomahawks was another 30 minutes. Plenty of time.

Their storage dump at Balakliya went Ka-Boom - from Russia Today

Large munitions depot up in flames in Ukraine, nearly 20,000 evacuated
Thousands of people are being evacuated from Balakleya in the Kharkov region of Ukraine, as a massive fire has broken out at a munitions depot, which is said to be the largest in the country. There are reports of explosions and shattered windows.

Chaotic scenes with hundreds of vehicles stuck in traffic jams were reported on social media after the Balakleya city administration ordered an emergency evacuation of most of the city.

Great - I love this. From Associated Press:

Pentagon boss to NATO nations: Increase military spending
In an ultimatum to America's allies, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told fellow NATO members Wednesday to increase military spending by year's end or risk seeing the U.S. curtail its defense support — a stark threat given Europe's deep unease already over U.S.-Russian relations.

Echoing President Donald Trump's demands for NATO countries to assume greater self-defense responsibility, Mattis said Washington will "moderate its commitment" to the alliance if countries fail to fall in line. He didn't offer details, but the pressure is sure to be felt, particularly by governments in Europe's eastern reaches that feel threatened by Russian expansionism.

I love it! Europe is frittering its money away on social programs and letting us carry the weight on defense. Time to adjust to what it should be.

His work cut out for him - Trump

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One of President Trump's plans is to rebuild out military - here is an example of what he faces. From Defense News:

Grounded: Nearly two-thirds of US Navy’s strike fighters can’t fly
The U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group. But nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog.

Overall, more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them.

Additionally, there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Overhauls — “availabilities” in Navy parlance — are being canceled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit. Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.

One of the key reasons is the divisiveness in Congress:

Congress has failed for the ninth straight year to produce a budget before the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2017, reverting to continuing resolutions that keep money flowing at prior year levels. CRs have numerous caveats, however, and many new projects or plans can’t be funded since they didn’t exist in the prior year. There is widespread agreement that CR funding creates havoc throughout the Pentagon and the industrial base that supports it — often substantially driving costs higher to recover from lengthy delays. Yet, like the proverbial weather that everyone talks about but no one can change, there seems to be little urgency in Congress to return to a more businesslike budget profile. 

Time for them to do this - they are required by law to pass an annual budget but this has been stymied at almost every level by petty partisan infighting. Time to get their shit together and get to work.

President Trump took a little side trip today - no, not a golf game, something much more important. From Associated Press:

TRUMP MAKES UNANNOUNCED TRIP TO HONOR FALLEN NAVY SEAL
Assuming the somber duties of commander in chief, President Donald Trump made an unannounced trip Wednesday to honor the returning remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in a weekend raid in Yemen.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, a 36-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump took office less than two weeks ago. More than half a dozen militant suspects were also killed in the raid on an al-Qaida compound and three other U.S. service members were wounded.

A bit more:

The president met with Owens' family during a two-hour visit to the base. The sailor's family had requested that Trump's visit and the return of Owens' remains be private.

Former President Barack Obama lifted a ban on media coverage of the casualty returns, though families may still request privacy.

That is leadership - President Trump is our Commander in Chief. This action indicates that he is fully aware of what that job entails.

This guy is insufferable

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From Breitbart:

President Obama Awards Himself Distinguished Public Service Medal
On Wednesday, President Obama added another prestigious medal to his Nobel Prize collection when he had Defense Secretary Ash Carter award him with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Secretary Carter awarded his boss with the medal on January 4 during the Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Review for the President held at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

Carter is good people - I would hate to think of what he has to go through dealing with Barry's petulance and narcissism.

Ashton Carter and James Mattis - both highly intellegent and both very good people. One of them is the right fit for the job as it plays out in today's political world. Here is 1,000 words:

20161215-ash-maddog.jpg

From the US Naval Institute News:

USS Zumwalt Sidelined in Panama Following New Engineering Casualty
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is pier side following an engineering casualty the ship suffered transiting the Panama Canal, U.S. Navy officials told USNI News on Monday.

The guided missile destroyer will undergo repairs at a former U.S. naval station until its fit to complete its journey to Naval Station San Diego, Calif., U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry told USNI News.

The ship was in the midst of a southbound transit through the canal when it suffered the casualty, Under orders from U.S. 3rd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, Zumwalt is now stopped for repairs at the former U.S. Naval Station Rodman, he said.

The problem:

The ship lost propulsion in its port shaft during the transit and the crew saw water intrusion in two of the four bearings that connect to Zumwalt’s port and starboard Advanced Induction Motors (AIMs) to the drive shafts, a defense official told USNI News on Tuesday. The AIMs are the massive electrical motors that are driven by the ship’s gas turbines and in turn electrically power the ship’s systems and drive the shafts.

Large amounts of electricity next to salt water is a recipie for problems. The previous problem came last September: Next-Generation Destroyer Zumwalt Sidelined for Repairs After Engineering Casualty

My two favorites? SR-71 Blackbird and A-10 Warthog. Both at the acme of their intended design goals.

The F-35 fighter has been an amazing waste of money and it is unfortunately draining resources that need to go to other airplanes. They were looking at shutting down the A-10 - phasing it out of service. Fortunately - from Popular Mechanics:

U.S. Air Force Fires Up the A-10 Depot Line to Keep Warthogs Flying 'Indefinitely'
On paper, the Air Force plans to start mothballing the A-10 in 2018, with the last Warthogs sent to the boneyard by 2021. But last month Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said that the retirement of the A-10 would likely have to be delayed further as the military continues to rely on the low-and-slow attack plane for close-air support (CAS) missions flown against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Even more telling, the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) is bringing the depot line for A-10 maintenance and repair back up to full capacity, according to Aviation Week.

The Hawg isn't going anywhere.

"They have re-geared up, we've turned on the depot line, we're building it back up in capacity and supply chain," AFMC chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski recently told Aviation Week. "Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely."

Fun times ahead - a two-fer

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First - a long and well written article by John R. Schindler at The Observer:

Putin’s Activation of ‘Iskander-M’ Ballistic Missile Is a Message to Obama
It’s long been obvious that Vladimir Putin and his inner circle view Barack Obama with utter contempt. To the hard men in Moscow, who got their schooling in the KGB, our diffident, wordy Ivy League lawyer president is a weakling—almost a caricature of everything they despise about the postmodern West.

Here the Kremlin mirrors most Russians, who find Obama a puzzling and contemptible man. This is nothing new. I’ve heard remarkable put-downs of our commander-in-chief for years, going back to 2008, even from the mouths of highly educated Russians. Their comments are invariably earthy, insulting, and nowhere near politically correct.

It’s therefore no surprise that Russians view Obama with contempt—and so does their leader. As our president winds up his second term and prepares to move out of the White House, the Kremlin simply isn’t bothering to hide that contempt any longer, even in high-level diplomacy, where a modicum of tact is expected.

Take Syria, the foreign policy nightmare that hangs darkly over Obama’s legacy. The pathetic attempts of John Kerry, Obama’s sad-sack secretary of state, to assert America’s role in that sordid conflict have been rudely rebuffed by Moscow. The Kremlin has made it indelibly clear that it has no interest in further parley with Washington about Syria: We won, you lost, get over it.

And the missile?

Today’s biggest news, however, comes from Estonian reports that the Russian military is sending Iskander-M missiles to Kaliningrad on a civilian freighter. It’s expected to dock in Kaliningrad today with its alarming cargo.

The Iskander-M system, called SS-26 by NATO, is the replacement of the Scud missile of American Gulf War memory. It has a range of 300 miles and can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead. An Iskander-M based in Kaliningrad can strike targets deep in Poland and across the whole Baltic region. Make no mistake, this is primarily an offensive weapons system.

There’s a reason that the Kremlin promised to not ship this missile system to Kaliningrad back in 2009, in exchange for President Obama’s scuppering of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. Activating an Iskander-M unit in Kaliningrad, west of the Baltic republics, is rightly seen as destabilizing by NATO’s whole eastern flank which, despite security promises by the White House, remains vulnerable to Russian attack. For Warsaw and several other NATO capitals, this move resembles a Baltic version of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Talk about a poke in the eye with a sharp stick - as a member of NATO, we are bound by the treaty to defend fellow members including Poland and the Czech Republic. Our Secretary of State at the time - Hillary Clinton - made the deal to not deploy the shield if the Russians would not deploy their missiles. No accountability, no leverage. Her tenure started with a big reset that was more an overload of her diplomatic skills. Couldn't even get that one word correct.

It is worth your time to read the entire article above - John Schindler is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer. A specialist in espionage and terrorism, he’s also been a Navy officer and a War College professor. He’s published four books.

Second - our response from Sputnik News:

Pentagon Hyping Test of Two Fake Nuke Bombs in Nevada Desert
With the United States’ Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs) arsenal aging, the US Air Force has pushed the Pentagon to fund nuclear modernization programs.

To that end, the Air Force conducted successful tests with two B61 nuclear bombs. Neither carried a live warhead.

"The primary objective of flight testing is to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operational representative conditions," reads a statement released by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

We are rattling sabers, they are moving ordnance into place.

This does not bode well - Iran

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From the US Naval Institute:

Video: Destroyer USS Nitze Harassed by Iranian Patrol Boats
The following is Aug. 23, 2016 video of guided missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG-94) harassed by four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) patrol boats.

The destroyer was in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz when four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy high-speed patrol boats came at the ship without responding to hails or warning flares fired from Nitze, according to a video of the incident provided to USNI News.

The Nitze was operating in international waters. Time for another round of golf.

Cool new technology - Leidos Corp.

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Autonomous unmanned anti-submarine chaser. From Leidos:

LEIDOS PARTICIPATES IN CHRISTENING OF DARPA'S INNOVATIVE, HIGHLY AUTONOMOUS PROTOTYPE UNMANNED VESSEL
Roger Krone, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Leidos, a national security, health and infrastructure solutions company, joined senior officials from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the Department of Defense today to christen the prototype vehicle from DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. Leidos led the team that designed and built the vessel, named Sea Hunter, which embodies the program's goals to develop a highly autonomous unmanned vessel capable of operating over thousands of kilometers on the open seas for months at a time under only sparse remote supervisory control.

"ACTUV could enable future capabilities that would greatly extend our customers' ability to cost-effectively monitor the maritime environment while keeping our servicemen and women safe," Krone said. "This event showcases exciting advances in autonomous technology, and highlights our open architecture approach and extensive testing that has made ACTUV a reality."

Leveraging decades of naval architecture experience, Leidos began construction of Sea Hunter in 2014. With its modular trimaran design, the vessel is designed for enhanced stability in all kinds of weather. It incorporates a diverse sensor suite, including sonar, electro-optical, and short- and long-range radars. Through at-sea testing on a surrogate vessel, Leidos has proved ACTUV's autonomy suite capable of operating the ship in compliance with maritime laws and conventions for safe navigation—including International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, or COLREGS.

They are not posting high-resolution images for some strange reason :) but what we can see looks pretty spiffy: I would not mind spending an afternoon poking through its insides...

20160726-leidos.jpg

Our military readiness - missles

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Not so much - from the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. missile defense system is 'simply unable to protect the public,' report says
The system designed to defend American cities and towns against a nuclear attack by North Korea is “simply unable to protect the U.S. public” and will remain ineffective unless Congress exerts rigorous oversight, according to a new report.

The report, to be released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, recommends that the Obama administration halt the expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, known as GMD, until its technical problems have been solved.

“The story of this system is a cautionary tale about how the lack of appropriate oversight of a politically charged missile defense program has led to a system in tatters,” said the report, written by three physicists with expertise in missile defense.

“Despite more than a decade of development and a bill of $40 billion, the GMD system is simply unable to protect the U.S. public,’’ the authors wrote.

The testing process is rigged to produce favorable results:

The report notes that in “heavily scripted” flight tests that are “set up for success,” GMD interceptors have often failed to hit mock enemy warheads. In the seven most recent tests, interceptors destroyed their targets just three times, the report says -- a finding consistent with conclusions of the Pentagon’s operational test and evaluation office.

Personnel conducting the tests know the speed, location and trajectory of the target ahead of time, as well as when it will be launched – information they would not have in a real attack.

Emphasis mine and they still failed four out of seven times. The worse thing is that they will not just launch a missile from North Korea and try to nuke a West coast city. If they wanted to cripple us, all they would have to do is get a container ship within a hundred miles or so of the coast and fire their missile straight up. No time for defense and the goal would be an EMP, not an explosion. A nuke detonating at 300 miles altitude would kill the power grid over much of the continental United States - each substation would need new equipment and it would be six months minimum to get electrical power restored.

A great article on our Air Force tactics and equipment from Vietnam, through Desert Storm to present. It excoriates the Air Forces decision to put all of their eggs into one - as yet delivered - basket. From War on the Rocks.

Here are two paragraphs:

What really happened was that the Air Force dismantled a wildly successful “Electronic Combat triad,” consisting of the EF-111A, the F-4G, and the EC-130. The EF-111A Raven was an unarmed conversion of the F-111 fighter-bomber capable of jamming air defense radars. The F-4G Wild Weasel was the last of the Air Force Phantom conversions, intended to hunt down and kill radar-directed missile batteries and guns. And the EC-130 Compass Call was a powerful communications jammer. Not a single aircraft was lost to a radar threat in the Gulf War while an armed F-4G Wild Weasel or an EF-111 Raven was on station. F-4Gs alone fired a thousand anti-radiation missiles and took down over 250 radars, a hit rate unequaled before or since.

None of that mattered. Lured by the false promise of stealth aircraft, the F-4G and EF-111A were retired with no replacements. The EC-130 Compass Call fleet was downsized. The Wild Weasel school was closed and the decades of hard-won combat experience stored in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) community scattered to the wind. The Air Force placed all its chips on the Joint Strike Fighter and held tight to a vanishing mirage, even as the F-35’s costs spiraled and its initial operating capability date stretched further into the future. Worse yet, the Russian and Chinese systems designed to beat the F-35 have been fielded already, before the F-35 fully enters service. The Air Force has not only lost the capability to penetrate well-defended airspace with strike aircraft — with the loss of its electronic warfare expertise, it has lost the capability to know that it has lost the capability to penetrate well-defended airspace. If the United States is to continue to rely on airpower as a credible contributor to national defense, we will have to re-learn how to open a path for strike aircraft using tried and true methods.

Lockheed is making an obscene amount of money and nobody in Congress has the stones to hold their feet to the fire. (here, here and here)

Great A-10 Warthog story

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Readers will know that I am a big fan of the A-10 Warthog airplane - here is a video that helps to explain why:

From this article at Business Insider:

Watch one of the baddest A-10 pilots ever land after being hit by a missile
US Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul T. “PJ” Johnson is right up there with the best pilots to have ever flown the A-10.

While serving as a captain during Operation Desert Storm, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross for leading the rescue mission of a downed Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot deep behind enemy lines.

And the story:

A few days later, Johnson’s skills were on full display when he was hit by an enemy missile while trying to take out a radar site.

The explosion left a gaping hole on his right wing, which disabled one of the hydraulic systems. Still, he managed to fly back to safety.

This video shows how Johnson pulled through his “high pucker factor” experience, which he credits to a “wing and a prayer.”

The A-10 is one brilliantly designed airplane - everything just works.

It was an E-2 Hawkeye

20160408-E2-hawkeye.jpg

Twin engine with a smaller version of the AWACS radome on the top of the fuselage. More info here: E-2C Hawkeye

They are a Navy plane so probably Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island. A very cool airplane. I was living in Seattle while the original AWACS were being built and would see them parked by the runway at the Boeing factory - advancing technology makes everything smaller, better, and more geektastic.

Almost impossible to excerpt - just go here and read. Bring a bowl of popcorn and a few cold ones - this is funnier than s*it...

From Awesome Shit my Drill Sergeant Said:

OVERPROTECTIVE “NEW ARMY MOM” RUINS SON’S MILITARY LIFE AFTER COMPLAINING TO THE WRONG PEOPLE
So our friends over at 5Bravo have a history of posting hilarious exchanges between their page admins and people that message the page who are usually made and offended about one thing or another. While always good for a laugh or six, this one takes the cake for one of the greatest things I have ever seen on the internet. Be sure to visit the link and give their page a like.

Apparently her son is one of the only ones who doesn’t have a Combat Patch, and in true helicopter, “everyone gets a trophy”, new age touchy feely crap parenting approach she feels this isn’t fair because he will “feel left out”. She is determined to go all the way to the top to give someone a piece of her mind so her poor little baby doesn’t get his feelings hurt. She definitely picked the wrong people to get snippy with, and her precious son will be the one to pay the price.

This will definitely be an awkward Thanksgiving family dinner this year. Read on, and spread the word.

And Part Two can be found here.

Multiple drink alert...

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