Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Editor's Note

I have some personal stuff to do this morning. Blogging will return 14:00 EST.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Carter Talks About The Future of Warfare

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses U.S. military personnel during a meeting near an F-16 fighter jet at Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, South Korea Thursday, April 9, 2015. Reuters/Lee Jin-man/Pool

Wired: The Former Secretary of Defense Outlines the Future of Warfare

TO AN ENGINEER in Silicon Valley, the Defense Department can look a little old, a little slow, and a little fat. To the Defense Department, the smug confidence of young engineers doesn’t go unnoticed. Is it really better to work on an app for ordering sandwiches than it is to build submarines that can launch nuclear weapons?

Two years ago, Barack Obama appointed a new Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter—a technocrat physicist, an arms control veteran, and a professor at Stanford—to help close this divide. During his tenure, Carter set up a virtual outpost in Silicon Valley. He worked to make it easier for tech companies to sell things to the Pentagon, for their engineers to work there, and for their bosses to offer up advice. He even let WIRED tag along and write a profile of him. He also impressed the local royalty. “He’s been amazing,” Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, told me in an interview.

Read more

WNU Editor: I am sure he wishes he was back at the Pentagon.

This U.S. Navy Crew Have Been Marooned In Singapore For Eight Months And There Is No End In Sight

Photo Credit: MC2 Amy Ressler/Navy

Navy Times: LCS crew marooned in Singapore on an open-ended deployment

The embarked crew of the littoral combat ship Coronado, forward deployed to Singapore, was supposed to be home for Thanksgiving after a four- or five-month tour. But now the crew has been on board and overseas for eight months and there is no end in sight.

About 70 sailors compose Crew 204, which deployed in June for the Rim of the Pacific exercise and to replace the LCS Fort Worth at Changi Naval Base. But once the Coronado and her crew arrived in Singapore, the Navy’s top Surface Warfare Officer announced a sweeping overhaul to the LCS program's training standards that was spurred by a string of accidents, some of which were caused by crew errors.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Singapore is nice .... but expensive .... and it is still not home. I would not be surprised if most of these sailors will quit the Navy or seek reassignment when their tour is over.

Ukraine Invests Big In Drones

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ukroboronprom

Popular Mechanics: Ukraine's Drone Army Was Born In a Crucible of Conflict

Ukraine is building an unmanned air force for 21st-century warfare

On the eve of combat, Ukraine's unmanned aerial forces were woefully out of date.

Almost three years ago, when confrontation appeared imminent over Russia's annexation of Crimea, Ukraine's military relied on Soviet-era Tu-143 "Flight" drones, a technologically inferior warbird that didn't even have video cameras. These bygone drones shot stills on film that had to be developed afterward. Predictably, in the opening salvos of conflict, Russian-backed separatists easily shot them down.

Ukraine desperately needed replacements, for reconnaissance and, ideally, for attack. There was only one problem—money, or rather a severe lack of it. The country's defense procurement budget is about $500 million with nearly a quarter of that "disappearing" into the mire of political corruption. Considering only one U.S.-made RQ-4 Global Hawk costs nearly $130 million, Ukraine needed to get creative.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is interesting .... Ukraine company debuts tank-busting unmanned ground vehicle (Defense News).

Robots Are Taking Over The U.S. Military

Stephen Baack, U.S. Army Photo

San Diego Union Tribune: Robots poised to take over wide range of military jobs

The wave of automation that swept away tens of thousands of American manufacturing and office jobs during the past two decades is now washing over the armed forces, putting both rear-echelon and front-line positions in jeopardy.

“Just as in the civilian economy, automation will likely have a big impact on military organizations in logistics and manufacturing,” said Michael Horowitz, a University of Pennsylvania professor and one of the globe’s foremost experts on weaponized robots.

“The U.S. military is very likely to pursue forms of automation that reduce ‘back-office’ costs over time, as well as remove soldiers from non-combat deployments where they might face risk from adversaries on fluid battlefields, such as in transportation.”

Driver-less vehicles poised to take taxi, train and truck driver jobs in the civilian sector also could nab many combat-support slots in the Army.

Warehouse robots that scoot goods to delivery vans could run the same chores inside Air Force ordnance and supply units.

Read more ....

WNU editor: I can only imagine what the U.S. military will look like 50 years from now.

The Death Of Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin -- News Roundup

Foreign Policy: Putin’s U.N. Ambassador, America’s ‘Formidable Adversary’, Dead at 64

Vitaly Churkin, Moscow’s U.N. ambassador, died Monday of a possible heart attack in New York at the age of 64, marking an abrupt end to the career of one Russia’s most formidable diplomats, a man simultaneously admired and reviled in U.N. circles as a brilliant tactician and a cynical shill for President Vladimir Putin’s bullying foreign policy.

For more than a decade, Churkin deployed his considerable diplomats skills — and a masterful understanding of the U.N.’s byzantine procedures — to constrain the West’s military power, denouncing interventions from Iraq to Libya, while defending Russia’s own military adventures from Georgia to Crimea and Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I first met him when he was the Russian ambassador to Canada .... I needed his help on some business visas. And again when I started to do contract work/translation at the UN in New York City. I did not know him personally .... but from what I understood he was a person who loved foreign affairs/diplomacy/international relations .... and he especially loved the UN and the role that it plays. He spoke fluent English and French (which is rare for a Russian diplomat), but more importantly his mentor was Anatoly Dobrynin .... who helped open many doors for him. His passing away has surprised everyone (myself included). There is now a void in the Russian foreign ministry .... and I can only guess on who will be his replacement.

More News On The Death Of Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

UN honours 'outstanding diplomat,' Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who passed away at 64 -- UN News Centre
Russia's ambassador to United Nations dies in NYC at 64 -- AP
Russia's U.N. envoy Churkin dies suddenly in New York -- Reuters
Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies day before turning 65 -- RT
Vitaly I. Churkin, Russian ambassador to the U.N., dies at 64 -- Washington Post
Russia’s Ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies -- RBTH
Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin’s death is big loss for Russia, premier says -- TASS
Putin offers condolences over UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin’s death -- TASS
UN chief calls late Ambassador Churkin 'uniquely skilled diplomat' -- TASS
Analysis: What Vitaly Churkin's death means for the United Nations -- CNN
People bringing flowers to Russian Foreign Ministry in memory of late Ambassador Churkin -- TASS
‘Still looking for Iraqi WMDs?’ & other most memorable quotes from Vitaly Churkin -- RT

U.S. Navy Believes An Unmanned Drone Boat Filled With Explosives Was Used To Attack A Saudi Frigate In The Red Sea Last Month

Defense News: New Houthi weapon emerges: a drone boat

US admiral fears Yemen civil war widening into the Red Sea

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The Houthi boat that attacked and hit a Saudi frigate Jan. 30 in the Red Sea, reported earlier as a suicide boat, was instead carried out by an unmanned, remote-controlled craft filled with explosives, the US Navy’s top officer in the Mideast said.

“Our assessment is that it was an unmanned, remote-controlled boat of some kind,” Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet and head of US Naval Forces Central Command, told Defense News in an interview here Saturday.

The attack on the frigate Al Madinah appears to be the first confirmed use of the weapon which, Donegan said, represents a wider threat than that posed by suicide boats and shows foreign interests are aiding the Houthis.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This assessment is raising alarm bells throughout the Middle East.

More News On Reports That An Unmanned Drone Boat Filled With Explosives Was Used To Attack A Saudi Frigate In The Red Sea Last Month

Navy: Saudi Frigate Attacked by Unmanned Bomb Boat, Likely Iranian -- USNI News
Drone Boat Was Used in Saudi Frigate Attack -- Maritime Executive
Attack on Saudi Frigate off Yemen Was Made by Drone Boat -- The Drive

Tweet For Today

A Brief History Of US Intelligence

Picture Of The Day

Members of the Iraqi rapid response forces fire a missile toward Islamic State militants during a battle in the south of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

The Kremlin Has Put Together A Psychological Profile Of U.S. President Trump

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin © Reuters

NBC: Russia Compiles Psychological Dossier on Trump for Putin

MOSCOW — A dossier on Donald Trump's psychological makeup is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.

Trump "doesn't understand fully who is Mr. Putin — he is a tough guy," former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov told NBC News.

The file is being compiled by retired diplomats and some of Putin's staff, he added.

The attempt to get inside the U.S. president's mind is aimed at helping Putin plan for his first meeting with America's new leader, the date for which is yet to be decided.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: President Trump naive?!?!? For a person who won the Presidency with the establishment, the Clinton machine, the media, and much of the Republican Party against him .... I would not call him naive. This reminds me of 1980 when the Kremlin then thought President Reagan was a "cowboy", a dunce, and out of his league .... that turned out to be a surprise. On the flip side .... I am also sure that the White House has a psychological profile of Putin. But I am willing to bet that when both Presidents finally meet each other .... the last thing that will be on their mind is some psych profile done by a group of people who never met the man that they were profiling.

More News On The Kremlin Putting Together A Psychological Profile Of U.S. President Trump

Russia has compiled a psychological dossier for Putin on Trump saying his 'constant battle with the mass media' is 'worrying us' and that he doesn't understand the Kremlin strong man -- Daily Mail
Russia prepares psychological report on Donald Trump revealing his naivety and risk-taking -- The Independent
Russian report on Trump’s psychological makeup called him ‘naive’ -- NYPost
The Kremlin is reportedly compiling a psychological profile of President Trump -- The Week

Monday, February 20, 2017

Top U.S. General In Iraq: U.S. Forces Will Probably Stay In Iraq After Mosul Has Been Captured

AFP: US-led coalition expects to stay in Iraq after Mosul

The commander of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said Monday he expected its forces would be allowed to stay in Iraq after Mosul is recaptured.

"I don't anticipate that we will be asked to leave by the government of Iraq immediately after Mosul," Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said.

The US commander was speaking at a press conference in Baghdad wrapping up a brief visit by the new Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis.

"I think the government of Iraq realises it's a very complex fight and they need the assistance of the coalition even beyond Mosul," Townsend told reporters.

Read more ....

More News On Remarks By The Top U.S. General In Iraq That U.S. Forces Will Probably Stay In Iraq After Mosul Has Been Captured

US Defense Secretary Mattis: US will stay in Iraq a while -- AP
US-led coalition expects to stay in Iraq after Mosul -- AFP
US Defense Secretary Mattis: US will stay in Iraq a while. -- Washington Post
US Defense Secretary warns of "long-fought" battle in Iraq -- Euronews
Coalition expects to remain in Iraq after Mosul operation ends -- Middle East Online

U.S. Forces In Iraq Are Now Operating Closer To The Front Lines In Mosul

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, center right, and Iraqi Defense Minister Erfan al-Hiyali, left, meet in Baghdad on Feb. 20. (Reuters)

FOX News: US troops in Iraq operating closer to front lines

BAGHDAD – After three years of being told they could not go to the front lines, U.S. troops advising Iraqi forces as they evict ISIS from Mosul no longer face those tight restrictions, according to the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, as the new defense secretary stood by his side in Baghdad.

"It is true that we are operating closer and deeper into the Iraqi formation," Townsend told reporters travelling with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. "We adjusted our posture during the east Mosul fight and embedded advisers a bit further down into the formation."

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Forces In Iraq Now Operating Closer To The Front Lines In Mosul

U.S. troops in Iraq move closer to the front lines in fight for Mosul -- Washington Post
U.S. advisors are now fighting alongside Iraqi forces in the battle for Mosul -- L.A. Times
Mattis confirms US troops in Mosul operation -- AP

President Trump Has Named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster As His New National Security Adviser

Washington Post: Trump taps Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser

President Trump on Monday named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn — a move meant to help put the White House on firmer footing after missteps on multiple fronts.

Trump called McMaster “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience” while introducing him to reporters at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida before returning to Washington.

“He is highly respected by everyone in the military, and we’re very honored to have him,” Trump said of McMaster, a widely respected military strategist.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has been serving as acting national security adviser, will become the National Security Council chief of staff, Trump also announced.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump Naming Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster As His New National Security Adviser

General known for sharp questions will be Trump's new top security adviser -- Reuters
Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser -- AP
Trump names H.R. McMaster as national security advisor -- AFP
Trump selects Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser -- FOX News
Trump Names Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as New National Security Adviser -- NBC
Trump picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as new national security adviser. -- CNN
President Trump weighs options for next national security adviser -- ABC News
Trump names Lt Gen HR McMaster as national security adviser -- BBC
Trump picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be national security adviser -- Politico
Trump names McMaster new national security adviser -- The Hill
Trump just made a fantastic choice for his new national security adviser -- Paul Szoldra, Business Insider
Who is HR McMaster, Trump's new national security adviser? -- BBC
Who is Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump's new national security adviser? -- CNN

Vice President Pence: I Support The Dismissal Of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn

Washington Post: In Brussels, Pence says he ‘fully supported’ ouster of Mike Flynn

BRUSSELS — Vice President Pence said Monday that he “fully supported” Michael Flynn’s ouster last week as national security adviser, setting himself firmly against the former general, who told untruths about his contacts with Russian officials.

“I was disappointed to learn that the facts that have been conveyed to me by Gen. Flynn were inaccurate,” Pence told reporters during a visit to NATO headquarters in his first public comments about a scandal that has rocked the young Trump administration.

Pence pushed for Flynn’s ouster after learning from The Washington Post that the national security adviser had been captured on tape speaking to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak on the topic of sanctions. The conversation happened the day the Obama administration announced measures against Russia to retaliate for what U.S. intelligence services say was the Kremlin’s efforts to influence November’s presidential election. Flynn told Pence that he had not spoken about sanctions with Kislyak, an assertion Pence went on to repeat on television.

Read more ....

More News On Vice President Pence's Support For The The Dismissal Of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn

Pence 'disappointed' that Flynn misled him -- The Hill
Pence: 'I fully support' decision to dump Flynn -- USA Today
VP Mike Pence 'disappointed' Flynn misled him on Russia -- ABC News
Pence: I was 'disappointed' with Flynn -- CNN
Pence was ‘disappointed’ Flynn misled him about Russia talks -- NYPost
Pence says he was ‘disappointed’ by Flynn -- Washington Times

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 202, 107

ABC News Online: Mosul: The biggest battle anywhere on the planet

For three months a gruelling battle has been underway to take back the city of Mosul from Islamic State.

As government forces now push into the final Islamic State-held areas in the city's west, they find themselves locked in a brutal street-by-street fight.

Reporting under fire, Middle East correspondent Matt Brown and cameraman Aaron Hollett have been charting the battle for Four Corners:

Mosul is the Islamic State group's most important stronghold in Iraq and the battle will be key to fighting the broader threat of terrorism.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 207, 2017

In Syria, Turkey Finds Itself Boxed In: What's Next? -- Aaron Stein and Rao Komar, War on the Rocks

Why the assassination of Kim Jong Un's brother should terrify us all -- Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

China's Strategic Support Force: A Force for Innovation? -- Elsa Kania, The Diplomat

Why China is building islands in the South China Sea -- Sam Ellis, VOX

South China Sea: What's at stake -- Katie Hunt, CNN

Asia's Strongmen Aren't Strong Enough -- Michael Schuman, Bloomberg

Why Japan is relieved about Trump -- Julian Ryall, South China Morning Post

NATO Is the Key to Our Stability -- So Pay For It -- Telegraph editorial

Eastern Ukraine ceasefire begins -- but will it hold? -- Euan McKirdy and Emma Burrows, CNN

Why Russian Military Aggression Has Backfired on Moscow -- Nolan Peterson, Daily Signal

Vladimir Putin’s ‘puppet strings’ on Trump are an illusion -- Bart Marcois, the Hill

Can Trump and Putin, Despite Uproar, Still Make a Deal? -- Richard Weitz, RCW

Britain under Corbyn? Just look at Venezuela -- Jason Mitchell, Spectator

Trump may have been unclear, but Sweden experiencing a migrant crime wave -- Cody Derespina, FOX News

Trump's election has parallels to Andrew Jackson's presidency -- Jonathan Lemire, AP

World News Briefs -- February 20, 2017 (Evening Edition)

L.A. Times: U.S. advisors are now fighting alongside Iraqi forces in the battle for Mosul

U.S. military advisors are now fighting alongside Iraqi forces near the front lines against Islamic State, a sign of President Trump's willingness to grant more latitude to American commanders than they've had since Iraq’s ground war against the militants was launched more than two years ago.

The Trump administration has not yet granted new authorities, but have loosened the reins for U.S. generals running the war, allowing hundreds of U.S. troops to join advancing Iraqi forces as they embark on their most complex mission to date: liberating Mosul, their second largest city.

Read more ....


US Defense Secretary Mattis: US will stay in Iraq a while. US Defense Secretary Mattis: US will stay in Iraq a while. US-led coalition expects to stay in Iraq after Mosul.

Iraqi troops advance on western Mosul as Mattis holds talks. Mosul offensive: Iraqi army battles for outskirts of IS city. Iraqi troops push into IS-held southern outskirts of Mosul.

Aid groups brace for surge of displaced Mosul residents.

‘We’re not here to seize oil’: US defense secretary arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit.

Syria conflict: Rebels warns truce may collapse after attacks.

Rockets fired into southern Israel from Egypt's Sinai.

Iran 'will not instigate hostilities' - foreign minister.

Trial begins for 44 suspected of Erdogan assassination attempt.

Global arms sales surge driven by Middle East demand.


Families flee as Pakistan cracks down along Afghan border.

Kim Jong-nam death: Japanese network releases purported CCTV footage of assassination.

North Korea ambassador says Kim Jong Nam died of 'natural causes'. N. Korean envoy blasts Malaysians, calls for joint probe.

South Korea accuses North Korea of Kim Jong Nam assassination.

Cambodia changes political rules in 'triumph of dictatorship', critics say. Cambodia MPs back law barring PM Hun Sen's long-time rival.

Rodrigo Duterte accused of paying police to kill. Leader of Davao Death Squad says Duterte ordered killings.

Police in Sri Lanka arrest intelligence officers over journalist killing.

South China Sea: US carrier group begins 'routine' patrols.

Japan returns to trade deficit.

New Zealand court rules Kim Dotcom can be extradited to US.


Nigeria urges AU to intervene over 'SAfrica killings'.

Angola's heir-apparent vows to target corruption.

Famine strikes in South Sudan, as people in four countries face starvation.

Famine declared in parts of South Sudan as 100,000 face starvation. Famine declared in part of South Sudan's Unity state.

South Sudan military officials quit over 'war crimes'.

Six dead in violent protests in Guinean capital.

Suicide bomb in market in Somalia capital kills 39. Death toll in Somalia marketplace blast rises to 34.

Three killed in Boko Haram attack on Nigerian village.

UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj not hurt after convoy comes under fire.

Migrants in Morocco's north determined to reach Europe.

Egypt court upholds death sentences over football riot. Egypt high court upholds death sentence of 10 in soccer riot.


Russian diplomatic community mourns UN ambassador’s death - Zakharova.

Le Pen gains in French polls as security concerns win voters.

Donald Trump: MPs clash over UK state visit.

Mike Pence pledges 'strong commitment' to EU on Brussels visit. Mike Pence seeks to allay European fears on trip to Brussels.

Moscow slams ‘absurd accusations’ that Russia plotted Montenegro coup. Kremlin denies Montenegro assassination plot. Russia rejects claim of Montenegro plot.

Ukraine ambassador attacks Trump allies' secret peace plan.

Clashes over blockade of coal from eastern Ukraine.

Russian activist leaves Russia for treatment after suspected poisoning.

Greece: EU and IMF in 'common position'.

Ireland PM Enda Kenny expected to resign over police scandal.

Study looks at free-trade-with-Russia scenario.


Thousands of anti-Trump protesters say 'not my president'.

Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser. Trump picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as new national security adviser.

Trump seeks national security adviser, health care strategy.

Trump administration drafts plan to aggressively detain illegal immigrants.

Ecuador election: Moreno facing runoff as 40% vote looks out of reach.

Venezuela: 75% of population lost 19 pounds amid crisis.

Colombia's Farc rebels complete move to demobilisation zones.

Bomb near Bogota bullring injures more than 30.

California 'bombogenesis' storm pushes north.


Islamic State in Egypt: God wants all Christians dead, new ISIS video claims.

Pakistan says airstrikes have killed 'dozens' of militants.

'Islamic State' fighters rape and torture Sunni Arab women: Human Rights Watch.

New York bomb plot mastermind Omar Abdel Rahman dies in prison.


Oil exporter Saudi starts hunt for solar, wind firms.

World stocks mostly rise as US remains shut for holiday.

Gibraltar seizes Russian's superyacht over German debt claim.

Hitler's phone sells for $240,000 at auction.

Kraft walks away from 'friendly' bid for Unilever.

New Ukraine Ceasefire In Effect

VOA: Ukraine Cease-fire in Effect But Doubts Persist as to Sustainability

LONDON — A cease-fire in eastern Ukraine aimed at halting fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Moscow-backed separatists went into effect Monday. Ukrainian officials, however, warn it is at risk of falling apart.

Under the cease-fire announced in Munich by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, both sides are supposed to abide by the two-year-old Minsk agreement and withdraw heavy weaponry from the front lines.

Yet, just hours before the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany announced this latest truce, a separatist leader was issuing military threats.

Read more ....

More News On The Ukraine Conflict

Fresh ceasefire appears to hold for now in eastern Ukraine -- Reuters
Ceasefire set to take effect in eastern Ukraine -- International Business Times
New Ukraine Truce Begins Amid Fresh Push to Resolve Conflict -- Bloomberg
Ukraine accuses rebels of breaking truce as Western concern rises -- AFP
President Poroshenko: Ukraine is in urgent need of defense weapons -- Ukrinform
Canada set to renew Ukraine military training mission amid Trump fears -- Globe and Mail
Russia recognizes passports from Ukrainian separatists, stoking annexation fears -- ABC News
Russia Says Ukraine Passport Order Complies With International Law -- Reuters
Germany: 'Unacceptable' that Russia accepts separatist Ukraine passports -- DW
France decries Moscow recognition of passports issued by rebels in Ukraine -- Reuters
U.S. embassy in Kiev critical of Moscow order on Ukrainian documentation -- Reuters
On Maidan Anniversary US Demands Russia Honor Minsk Agreements -- VOA
Eastern Ukraine ceasefire begins -- but will it hold? -- Euan McKirdy and Emma Burrows, CNN