Friday, September 30, 2016

Russia Has Now Been Waging War In Syria For One Year

Reuters: Russia sending more warplanes to Syria as world anger grows over 'barbarous' strikes

Russia is sending more warplanes to Syria to further ramp up its campaign of air strikes, a Russian newspaper reported on Friday, as Moscow defied global censure over an escalation that Western countries say has torpedoed diplomacy.

In a statement issued by the White House after the two leaders spoke by telephone, U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the Russian and Syrian bombing of Aleppo as "barbarous".

Fighting intensified a week into a new Russian-backed government offensive to capture all of Syria's largest city and crush the last remaining urban stronghold of the rebellion.

Moscow and its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, spurned a ceasefire this month to launch the offensive, potentially the biggest and most decisive battle in the Syrian civil war which is now in its sixth year.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What's my take .... after one year the momentum of the war has shifted in Syria to favour the regime. Has Russia helped in achieving this .... definitely. But while the regime and its allies are winning the battlefields, winning the war is still a long way off. And even if rebel strongholds in Aleppo and elsewhere fall, this conflict is far from over ... something that Moscow itself has conceded will take time with no guarantee of success. What's my prediction .... Russian media and the Kremlin are boasting of success .... but what I see is a quagmire, and I would not be surprise if Russia slowly starts to disengage from Syria at the beginning of next year.

More News On Russia Passing The One Year Mark of Fighting The War In Syria

Russia fighting in Syria for a year, still at odds with US -- Salon/AP
Russia says it will continue with air strikes in Syria -- IBTimes
Year passes since Russian military operation in Syria -- Vestnik Kavkaza
Kremlin says no time frame for Russia's military operation in Syria -- Reuters
Russia 'Killed Close to 10000' After Year in Syria: Monitor -- Newsweek
Monitor: Over 9,000 killed in Russia’s air campaign in Syria -- RUDAW
Russia dismisses Syria campaign death toll allegation -- AFP
Russia Rejects John Kerry’s Demands on Syria, Accusing U.S. of Promoting Terror -- NYT
US protecting Syria jihadist group - Russia's Lavrov -- BBC
With Limited Means and One Year Russia Achieved More in Syria Than US and Allies -- Sputnik
A year of Russian anti-ISIS ops in Syria: 5 key milestones -- RT
How Putin's high-risk Syria gamble is paying off -- Oleg Kashin, The Guardian
Putin is making a mistake in Syria — and Russia will pay the price -- Philip Gordon, Washington Post
Key dates since Russian intervention in Syria -- AFP

The Battle For The Syrian City Of Aleppo Rages On

Reuters: Syrian army, rebels wage fierce battles in Aleppo

Syrian government forces and rebels fought battles in the center of Aleppo and north of the city on Friday, a week into a Russian-backed offensive by the Syrian army to take the entire area, a war monitor and sources on both sides said.

There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of Friday's fighting. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a Syrian military source said government forces had captured territory north of Aleppo and buildings in the city center.

Rebel sources however denied there had been any additional advances north of the city by government forces that seized the Handarat camp area north of Aleppo on Thursday. A rebel official said government forces had advanced in the Suleiman al-Halabi district of central Aleppo, but were then forced to withdraw.

Read more ....

More News On The Battle For Aleppo

WHO says 338 killed in eastern Aleppo in past week -- Reuters
'A giant kill box': Death toll in the hundreds as Syrian army storms Aleppo -- Middle East Eye
Syrian troops capture hospital north of Aleppo -- AP
Syria military says it retook hospital, refugee camp in Aleppo -- USA Today
Syrian Army Takes Control of Kindi Hospital in Northern Aleppo -- Sputnik
Regime forces amass around Aleppo as diplomacy falters -- CNN
Assad is assembling 10,000 troops for final assault on Aleppo -- VICE News
Syrian Military Video Shows Destruction of Aleppo as the Besieged City Awaits Aid -- ABC News
UN: Up to 600 wounded in Syria's east Aleppo, evacuations needed -- NRT
Syria regime advances in Aleppo, MSF decries 'bloodbath' -- AFP
"Catastrophe" in Aleppo, says U.N. humanitarian chief -- AP
White Helmets Video Shows Toll in Idlib, Aleppo of Syria Offensive -- NBC

Saudi Arabia Tried To Cut A Deal With OPEC To Limit Iran's Oil Production

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Wall Street Journal: Economics Drove Saudi OPEC Move

Behind the kingdom’s decision to agree to production cuts was a recognition of the consequences of low oil prices.

Scanning the latest intelligence on oil markets, Saudi Arabian officials came to an upsetting conclusion this month: the kingdom’s oil policy wasn’t working.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih’s attention was drawn to an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ prediction that a global glut of oil would persist well into 2017, said people familiar with the matter. The data suggested that economic pain from low oil prices would last longer than the ministry first believed, as the Saudis fought an expensive war in Yemen and middle-class living standards eroded.

“The pressure was mounting,” said a person close to the Saudi oil ministry. “Falih and the government realized they need to show they are not just watching their economy and others suffer.”

Mr. Falih didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Read more ....

Update: Saudis tried to cut secret deal with OPEC – WSJ (RT)

WNU Editor: This is why I believe these recent moves by OPEC to limit production and raise the price of oil will fail. No one is interested in cutting production, and what Saudi Arabia is proposing will not make a dent on the current price of oil. In addition .... the technology of fracking is improving, and it will offset any cuts that OPEC member states may agree to. Bottom line .... the days of $100/barrel oil are gone for at least the medium term.

Editor's Note

Because of time constraints Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted at 17:00 EST and 18:00 EST respectively.

A $100 Million U.S. Drone Base In Africa

Image: BBC

The Intercept: U.S. Military Is Building a $100 Million Drone Base in Africa

FROM HIGH ABOVE, Agadez almost blends into the cocoa-colored wasteland that surrounds it. Only when you descend farther can you make out a city that curves around an airfield before fading into the desert. Once a nexus for camel caravans hauling tea and salt across the Sahara, Agadez is now a West African paradise for people smugglers and a way station for refugees and migrants intent on reaching Europe’s shores by any means necessary.

Africans fleeing unrest and poverty are not, however, the only foreigners making their way to this town in the center of Niger. U.S. military documents reveal new information about an American drone base under construction on the outskirts of the city. The long-planned project — considered the most important U.S. military construction effort in Africa, according to formerly secret files obtained by The Intercept through the Freedom of Information Act — is slated to cost $100 million, and is just one of a number of recent American military initiatives in the impoverished nation.

Read more ....

More News On A New U.S. Drone Base In Africa

US Building '$50 Million Drone Base' in Niger -- Newsweek
The US put a $100 million drone base next to a world heritage site -- VICE News
Pentagon Confirms Plans to Build Drone Base in Africa's Poorest Country -- Sputnik
US invests $50m in Niger drone base for counterterrorism -- BBC
US Agadez Drone Base In Niger To Cost At Least $50 Million -- IBTimes
Key US drone hub in Africa doubles in price to $100mn – report -- RT

U.N. News Agency Calls On Americans Living Abroad To 'Defeat Trump'

Politico: U.N news agency scrubs tweet calling on Americans abroad to 'end Trump'

The United Nations News Centre — the official U.N. news service — tweeted, then quickly pulled, a post that called for "8 million Americans abroad" to "stop Trump."

The tweet, published at 9:14 p.m. ET on Thursday, urged American expats to share a voter registration tool on the website of the activist organization Avaaz that states, "U.S. Citizens abroad could defeat Trump ... if they voted."

The Web page, titled "The October surprise that will end Trump," allows users to sign up for help registering to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election and encourages them enlist their friends as well.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: So much for being an impartial news service. As for this promised UN investigation .... I have seen how these investigations are conducted when I was working at the UN .... my prediction (and it is an easy one) .... is that this is going to be swept under the rug.

Pentagon: US To 'Sharpen Military Edge' In Asia

Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, Sept. 29, 2016. Carter is on a trip to discuss rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region and ongoing security challenges there. DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

CNN: Defense Secretary Ash Carter: US to 'sharpen military edge' in Asia

(CNN)The US will "sharpen our military edge" in the face of Chinese territorial expansionism and other regional threats as it embarks on the next phase of its pivot to Asia, the US defense secretary said Thursday.

The "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific region would ensure that the US "remains the region's strongest military and security partner of choice," Pentagon chief Ash Carter told US Navy sailors in a speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.

The declaration comes as China, the region's other superpower, continues to make neighbors nervous by unilaterally developing what most analysts agree are military installations on disputed reefs in the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping channels.

Read more ....

More News On Defense Secretary Ash Carter's Remarks That The U.S. Is Going To 'Sharpen It's Military Edge' In Asia

Ash Carter: U.S. will sharpen 'military edge' in Asia -- Military Times
US will 'sharpen military edge' in Asia Pacific, says Pentagon chief -- The Guardian/AP
On USS Carl Vinson, Carter Highlights Asia-Pacific Rebalance -- US Department of Defense
Defense Secretary Ash Carter Discusses Priorities in Asia Pacific on USS Carl Vinson -- NBC San Diego
US to sharpen ‘military edge’ in Asia Pacific with more subs, undersea drones – Pentagon chief -- RT
‘Pivot’ Prompts US to Send Newest, Best Weapons to Asia-Pacific - Carter -- Sputnik

U.S. Airforce Now Conducting Tests In Comparing The A-10 And F-35 When It Comes To Providing Close Air Support

Photo: Air Force

Scout Warrior: Pentagon Advances F-35 vs A-10 Close Air Support Testing

Will the F-35s current and future line up of weapons, coupled with its sensors and ISR technologies enable the aircraft to out-perform the A-10 warthog when it comes to Close Air Support Missions.

Flying close to ground troops in combat in hostile and high-threat conditions requires a host of unique attributes for an aircraft -- such as flying slow and low to the ground, absorbing some degree of small arms fire and having an ability to quickly maneuver in response to fast-changing ground combat conditions.

These, and many more, are among factors now being analyzed as proponents of both the A-10 Warthog and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter assess their respective abilities to perform the crucial and highly valued Close Air Support mission. The Pentagon and the Air Force are now conducting a thorough examination of each plane's capability for this role - including extensive analysis, simulated tests, flights of both aircraft under combat-like conditions and a range of tests, Air Force and Pentagon officials have explained. While many of the details of the ongoing evaluation are not now being discussed publically, the results are expected to bear prominently upon the visible ongoing debate regarding the future mission scope of both the A-10 and the F-35.

Read more ....

Update: The F-35 and A-10 are finally going head to head to see which is better for close air support (Business Insider).

WNU Editor: I am looking forward to their conclusions, and more importantly .... the parameters that were used in conducting these tests.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Likens Himself To Adolf Hitler

Sydney Morning Herald: Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte likens himself to Adolf Hitler, wants to kill millions of drug

Manila: Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has likened himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the latest of a series of rash outbursts that are alarming his country's allies in Asia, including the United States.

In a rambling speech in his hometown of Davao, Mr Duterte told reporters that he had been "portrayed to be some cousin of Hitler" by critics.

Noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, Mr Duterte said: "There are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them."

The 71 year-old firebrand president then said "if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…" before pausing and pointing to himself.

Read more ....

Update #1: Philippines' Duterte likens himself to Hitler, wants to kill millions of drug users (Reuters)
Update #2: Philippines President likens himself to Hitler (CNN)
Update #3: Jewish leaders react to Rodrigo Duterte Holocaust remarks (BBC)

WNU Editor: He is now trying to clarify his remarks .... Duterte decries Hitler comparison, but 'would be happy to slaughter drug addicts' (CNN).

Is The Islamic Satte Becoming More Dangerous As It's Defeat On The Battlefield Becomes More Likely?

A member of Iraqi army stands near weapons that belonged to Islamic State militants, at an Iraqi army base in Camp Tariq near Falluja, Iraq, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily

Mohamad Bazzi, Reuters: Islamic State is becoming more dangerous as it weakens

By many measures, Islamic State is a weakened and demoralized force. After months of U.S.-led bombing and defeats by local troops in Iraq and Syria, the group lost thousands of its fighters, was forced to relinquish significant territory and has been cut off from routes it used to move weapons and reinforcements.

But the group remains a potent threat in other ways, especially in its ability to inspire self-radicalized militants to carry out attacks in the West and elsewhere.

The man accused of carrying out a bombing in New York on Sept. 17 appears to have been inspired – if not directed – by the leaders and ideologues of al Qaeda and Islamic State. The 28-year-old suspect, Ahmad Rahami, wrote admiringly in a journal about al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, American-born radical Islamic preacher Anwar al-Awlaki – who was killed in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike – and leading Islamic State strategist Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I disagree with this analysis. If the Islamic State could .... it would unleash all the terror attacks possible against the West. But it cannot, and as it weakens its capabilities of doing so will weaken also.

U.S. Pushed To Lift UN Sanctions On Iranian Banks On The Same Day That Four American citizens Were Released From Prison

A Bank Sepah branch in Tehran. The U.S. agreed to lift United Nations sanctions on Bank Sepah and its London affiliate on the same day in January that Iran released four Americans from prison. PHOTO: SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Signed Secret Document to Lift U.N. Sanctions on Iranian Banks

Administration backed measures on the same day Tehran released four American citizens from prison.

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration agreed to back the lifting of United Nations sanctions on two Iranian state banks blacklisted for financing Iran’s ballistic-missile program on the same day in January that Tehran released four American citizens from prison, according to U.S. officials and congressional staff briefed on the deliberations.

The U.N. sanctions on the two banks weren’t initially to be lifted until 2023, under a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers that went into effect on Jan. 16.

The U.N. Security Council’s delisting of the two banks, Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International, was part of a package of tightly scripted agreements—the others were a controversial prisoner swap and transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran—that were finalized between the U.S. and Iran on Jan. 17, the day the Americans were freed.

The new details of the delisting have emerged after administration officials briefed lawmakers earlier this month on the U.S. decision.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have said ot more than once in the past few months ... but with each passing day we are learning more about this Iranian nuclear secret deal.

Tweet For Today

WNU Editor: This hits me home. I have always enjoyed playing chess .... but forcing women to wear a hijab in a chess tournament?!?!?!?!

Comparing U.S. And Russian Nuclear Weapons

Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system drives during Victory Day parade to mark end of World War Two at Red Square in Moscow. Thomson Reuters

Alex Lockie, Business Insider: How the US's nuclear weapons compare to Russia's

At Monday night's debate, Republican candidate and businessman Donald Trump said "Russia has been expanding their" nuclear weapons, adding that "they have a much newer capability than we do."

But according to Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, the founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, although Russia may have updated its missiles and warheads more recently, the idea that Moscow has better capabilities is "almost certainly not true."

On paper, newer, more complicated, more fearsome weapons comprise Russia's nuclear arsenal. Russia's RS-24 Yars Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), introduced in the mid 2000s, can strike anywhere in the US with what some report to be ten independently targetable nuclear warheads.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is now a race to modernise nuclear weapons .... and any talk about cutting back the number of nuclear weapons is now long gone. And to think that almost 8 years ago President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize on the promise that he would help stop this nuclear proliferation.

Picture Of The Day

Sunset Parking
A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft sits on the parking ramp before a mission during Exercise Cerberus Strike 16-02 at Fort Carson, Colo., Sept. 16, 2016. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford

Chinese Navy Wants To Copy How The U.S. Launches Its Carrier Fighters

Photo taken in May 2012 shows a Chinese aircraft carrier cruising for a test on the sea. China's first aircraft carrier was delivered and commissioned to the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army on Sept. 25, 2012. The carrier, with the name "Liaoning" and hull number 16, was officially handed over to the Navy at a ceremony held in a naval base of northeast China's Dalian Port. (Xinhua/Li Tang)

Popular Mechanics: China Wants to Launch Carrier Fighters Just Like the U.S. Navy

Here's what that could mean for the western Pacific.

For nearly sixty years, U.S. Navy fighters have launched from aircraft carrier decks with steam-powered catapults. These catapults were created for carriers because they can safely accelerate large aircraft with big payloads. Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) operations soon became the norm for the U.S. Navy and a handful of its allies.

Now China is looking to get in on the action. Growing evidence suggests that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy is mimicking the U.S. Navy's launch methods, and the change could have big ramifications for the western Pacific.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I suspect that this is not the only thing that they are copying.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The U.S. Navy Has A Plan To Save Its Aircraft Carriers From Multiple Torpedo Attacks

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transits up the Elizabeth River as it passes the downtown Norfolk waterfront after completing a successful and on-time six-month Planned Incremental Availability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Folnsbee/Released)

Kris Osborn, National Interest: The US Navy's Master Plan to Save Aircraft Carriers from Lethal Torpedo Attacks

The Navy is arming aircraft carriers with a prototype high-tech torpedo defense technology able to detect, classify, track and destroy incoming enemy torpedoes, service officials said.

The Anti-Torpedo Defense System, currently installed on five aircraft carriers and deployed on one carrier at the moment, is slated to be fully operational by 2022.

The overall SSTD system, which consists of a sensor, processor and small interceptor missile, is a first-of-its-kind "hard kill" countermeasure for ships and carriers designed to defeat torpedoes, Navy officials said.

The emerging Surface Ship Torpedo Defense technology includes the Anti-Torpedo Defense System, or ATTDS and an SLQ-25 Acoustic Device Countermeasure; the ATTDS consists of a Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo program and Torpedo Warning System.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The US Navy has obviously gone out of its way to keep the details of this technology secret .... but it must be very impressive for them to sound this confident on what these counter-measures are capable of doing.

After 241 Years The U.S. Navy Drops "Man" And Other Historic Job Titles To Achieve Gender Neutrality

Sailors on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan © Mike Blake / Reuters

USNI News: Navy Eliminating 241-Year-Old Rating System in New Enlisted Rank Overhaul

After more than 200 years, the Navy is making a fundamental change in how it will address its enlisted sailors, according to a notification on the new policy obtained by USNI News.

Starting today, the service will shelve the rating system it adopted from the U.K. Royal Navy, stop referring to sailors by their job titles and adopt a job classification in line with the Army, Marine Corps and the Air Force.

For example, under the new rules The Hunt for Red October character Sonar Technician Second Class Ronald “Jonesy” Jones – ST2 Jones for short – would be Petty Officer Second Class Jones or Petty Officer Jones. Machinist’s Mate First Class Jake Holman – MM1 Holman– from the novel and film The Sand Pebbles would be Petty Officer First Class Holman or Petty Officer Holman.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As I have said more than once in the past few years .... this is no longer your grandpa's Navy.

More News On The U.S. Navy Eliminating It's 241-Year-Old Rating System

Navy scuttles sailors' enlisted rating titles in huge career shake-up -- Navy Times
Navy ditching traditional enlisted rating system -- Stars and Stripes
No more 'Boats:' the Navy does away with referring to sailors by rating in favor of rank -- Virginia Pilot
Navy Removes All Historic Job Titles After Study On Gender Neutrality -- Daily Caller
U.S. Navy drops "man" from job titles -- Ottawa Citizen
Tradition’s end: US Navy overhauls ranks for gender-sensitivity & simplicity -- RT
Document: Outline of Changes to U.S. Navy’s Enlisted Personnel Management -- USNI News

Pentagon Orders A Review Of The $12.9 Billion Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford

The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier (file photo)

Bloomberg: Pentagon Opens Review of Costly Carrier Over Navy Objections

* Navy’s Mabus accepts review after it was delayed for a month
* Carrier’s troubles risk breaching $12.9 billion spending limit

The Pentagon will start a review next month of the U.S. Navy’s costliest warship after resolving Navy objections to the inquiry aimed at determining why the aircraft carrier has faced years of delay.

Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, ordered the review of the $12.9 billion USS Gerald R. Ford that’s being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. in part to see what lessons can be learned for production of the two other ships to follow in its class. Kendall agreed to delay the review’s start by a month to defuse a mini-mutiny of sorts by Navy officials who said the timing would be too disruptive.

The carrier’s increasing cost over the years caused Congress to set a $12.9 billion ceiling that might be breached by problems that have surfaced more recently. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s testing chief, warned in June that the Ford may struggle to launch and recover aircraft, mount a defense and move munitions, requiring costly improvements after it’s delivered.

Read more ....

Update #1: Pentagon orders review of $13B USS Gerald Ford (NBC)
Update #2: Navy’s Troubled New Carrier Undergoing Long Overdue Review (The Drive)

WNU Editor: This review is waaayyyy overdue. Bottom line .... this aircraft carrier is going to cost more than the $12.9 billion that has been allocated for it.