Monday, February 8, 2016

World News Briefs -- February 8, 2016



CNN: Syrian refugees: We did not flee for tents

Syria-Turkey border (CNN)Tantalizingly close to Turkish soil, thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing an upsurge in violence have gathered at their neighbor's border.

They can see Turkey's flag fluttering in the distance, the safety they long for painfully near but closed to them.

Long lines of tents provide some shelter from the elements but there is nothing to protect the refugees from the brutal war tearing apart their homeland.

Turkish authorities continue to insist they have an open door policy but that most certainly doesn't seem to be the case.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria refugee camps set up as Turkey limits entries.

Russian firepower helps Syrian forces edge toward Turkey border.

U.S., allies conduct 17 strikes against Islamic State: U.S. military.

Iraq deploying thousands of troops to retake Mosul.

Saudi Arabia shoots down missile fired from Yemen.

Iran awards medals of honor to nuclear team.

Syria Assad: President's mother Anisa dies at 86.

ASIA

North Korean patrol boat crosses to South, retreats after warning shots. South Korean navy fires warning shots at North Korean patrol boat.

North Korean rocket puts object into space, angers neighbors, U.S.. UN condemns NKorea launch, pledges significant new sanctions.

Taiwan earthquake death toll likely to exceed 100.

Suicide bomber in Afghan city kills three, wounds 14.

Myanmar expected to announce new president within weeks. Myanmar presidential vote to start on March 17 as transition talks drag on.

China's currency reserves plunged in January.

No escape? China's crackdown on dissent goes global.

India growth slows to 7.3% in the fourth quarter.

AFRICA

Somali jet suspect 'checked in on Turkish Airlines'.

Burundi grenade attack kills four, including boy.

Libya's political chaos slows response to Islamic State.

Nigeria army probes recent Boko Haram attacks.

Algeria adopts landmark constitutional reforms.

Tunisia completes barrier along Libya border.

South Africa's Desmond Tutu defends reconciliation process.

EUROPE

Over 68,000 migrants entered Europe in January as Syria war intensifies.

'22 migrants' drown off Turkish coast.

Hollande, Merkel stress migrant crisis needs EU solution.

Netherlands launches probe into civilian deaths during Dutch airstrikes in Iraq.

Chechen leader posts threatening messages online.

Russia says arrests seven Islamic State militants over attack plot.

Top bankers urge closer ties to solve euro's problems.

AMERICAS

Manning's Super Bowl dream comes true! Quarterback, 39, finally wins another championship in fairy tale Broncos victory over Cam Newton's Panthers - but Peyton won't say if he is retiring.

North Korea's new satellite flew over Super Bowl site.

Exclusive: U.S. athletes should consider not attending Olympics if fear Zika - officials.

Haiti's mood grim as president leaves with no replacement, Carnival delayed. Haiti's president leaves office to make way for interim government.

Venezuela shopping centres halve opening times as crisis bites.

Argentina makes offer to foreign creditors.

Decrying graft, Pope to tour poor, violent corners of Mexico.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

ISIS forced to cut fighters' pay 50 percent because of airstrikes, says Glaser.

Second member of ISIS execution cell identified as Briton: report.

Spain breaks up 'IS jihadist cell'.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

European stocks plunge as Lunar New Year offers no cheer.

Google pushes further into virtual reality with new headset.

Crude oil slips as Saudi, Venezuela meeting yields little.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 8, 2016



Nikkei Asian Review: South Korea and US to begin formal talks on missile defense system

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Dow Jones) -- Hours after a North Korean long-range rocket launch, Washington and Seoul said they were in consultations over the deployment of an advanced missile defense shield in South Korea.

The potential deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, system on the Korean Peninsula is strongly opposed by China. Wary of closer cooperation between the U.S. and South Korea, Beijing has warned Seoul that the introduction of Thaad could hurt their bilateral ties.

The move by Seoul and Washington to begin formal talks comes after informal discussions between the two sides over Thaad increased following North Korea's nuclear bomb test on Jan. 6.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 8, 2016

Gamechanging U.S. Missiles May Transform North Asian Geopolitics -- Sam Kim & Ranjeetha Pakiam, Bloomberg

North Korea Launches Rocket; US, South Korea Consider THAAD -- The Diplomat

US, South Korea to Discuss Deployment of Missile Defense System -- Military.com/FOX News

Newest Russian Su-35 jets on 24-hours alert in pairs at Hmeymim base in Latakia -- TASS

China, India hold joint military exercises on border -- BRICs Post

In Demand: Why China Purchases Russian Su-35 Fighter Jets -- Sputnik

US, Israel to hold joint military exercise on ballistic missile defenses -- i24 News

Podcast: Surprising changes underway for Israel’s military -- Jason Fields, Reuters

Israel’s Arab Alliance: A Counter to ISIS and Iran? -- Bennet Seftel, The Cipher Brief

Ukraine plans stealth military draft as recruitment plummets -- RT

Russian Aggression Drives Swedish Defense Spending -- Defense News

Ecuador Sacks Military Top Brass Over Questioned Land Deal -- VOA

The United States May Share Carrier Tech With India -- War Is Boring

Navy’s New Unmanned Warfare Chief Wants Faster Technology Delivery -- Defense Tech

F-35: This is what regret looks like for the Pentagon -- Amanda Macias and Armin Rosen, Business Insider

What Agreement? Congress Drawing Battle Lines in '17 Defense Budget Fight -- Defense News

New Army Directive Officially Opens All Positions to Women -- Military.com/Tacoma News Tribune

Military's move toward women in combat signals a major paradigm shift -- Shawn Snow, Special to Marine Corps Times

Cruz: ‘Nuts’ to draft women into the military -- Washington Post

DOD plans to invest $600M in unmanned underwater vehicles -- Defense Systems

LCS Milwaukee Breakdown Likely Due To Software Issue -- Defense News

U.S. Air Force Arsenal Plane Could Help Outgun China -- War is Boring

Navy ‘Chasing Ghosts’ in Search for Cause of F/A-18 Pilot Dizziness -- DoD Buzz

Army Testing New Weapons to Combat Weaponized Drones -- Defense Tech

Bipartisan bill would speed DOD's cyber warfare efforts -- The Hill

Hacker Plans to Dump Alleged Details of 20,000 FBI, 9,000 DHS Employees -- Motherboard

US military to cover costs of egg and sperm freezing -- Al Jazeera

BAE Systems Looks to Cash in on Railgun Research -- A. Tovey, Telegraph

iRobot sells off military robotics business -- USA Today

Navy, Air Force lag behind in professionalism, top Pentagon official says -- Military Times

Leaders of Senate Armed Services Committee urge Navy to torpedo promotion of Special Ops commander -- Washington Post

New Documentary Explores What Drove Fort Hood Shooter to Extremism -- Military.com

The Sobering Truth About the Pentagon’s Acquisition Failures -- Daniel L. Davis, National Interest

New Activity Spotted By Satellites At Iran's Top Secret Military Site Long Suspected For Doing Nuclear Work

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Kim Dozier, Daily Beast: Satellites Show Mystery Construction at Iran’s Top-Secret Military Site

A series of images, taken from space, show furious construction at a key Iranian facility. Was it to hide nuclear weapons work?

Newly released satellite images of Iran’s top-secret Parchin military complex reveal that even as Iran was working to negotiate a nuclear deal, it was apparently working to hide its atomic work of the past and hedge its bets for the future.

Forecasting site Stratfor.com says the images published Monday show Iran building a tunnel into a heavily guarded mountain complex inside the Parchin facility, some 20 miles southeast of Tehran, while also working to erase signs of alleged high-explosive testing at another area on the site.

“We’re not saying they’re cheating on the nuclear deal,” Stratfor analyst Sim Tack told The Daily Beast. “The images show Iran was going through the motions to hide what it’s done before, and it is still…developing facilities that the IAEA may or may not have access to,” Tack said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Concerns on what has (and is) happening at Iran's Parchin site have been ongoing for a long time .... No Mention On Iran's Nuclear Site At Parchin From Last Weeks Framework Nuclear Agreement.

Indian Report: 'F-35 Loses to Russian Su-35 in ‘Tactical Capabilities’


India Defense Forum: American F-35 Loses to Russian Su-35 in ‘Tactical Capabilities’

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Fighter Jet has become the most expensive military project in the US history to date, but still can’t meet the Pentagon’s initial requirements and loses in capabilities to Russian Sukhoi Su-35 aircraft.

The Russian Sukhoi Su-35, acknowledged to be one of the best contemporary fighter jets, beats the American F-35 in “tactical” capabilities, a former US Department of Defense’s senior expert Michael Maloof revealed in an interview with the Iranian news outlet Press TV.

“They’ve discovered the stealth capability of the F-35 is not foolproof, that there are radar systems being incorporated in other aircraft… that can actually pick up the stealth-like aircraft,” Maloof said of some of the flaws in the American jets.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This report is from India, and sometimes tell me that the Indians are not impressed with the F-35.

The Syrian War Is Shifting In Favour of The Assad Regime

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Bloomberg: Advantage Assad After Five Years of War in Syria

* Turks, Saudis have few options to aid embattled rebel allies
* War heads to shootout with Islamic State as `moderates' wilt

After five years of war and a quarter-million dead, President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now have the upper hand in Syria, and they’re seeking to drive home a growing battlefield advantage rather than negotiate.

In the past week, the United Nations has tried to get peace talks under way in Geneva, European leaders met in London to seek ways to halt a refugee influx that’s playing political havoc across the continent. But those events looked like sideshows to the action unfolding in northern Syria, where Assad’s forces -- backed by pro-Iranian fighters and reinforced from the air by Russian planes -- are moving closer to recapturing Aleppo and winning the most decisive victory of the war.

Gains by Assad and his allies in the past month have squeezed overland supply lines to Turkey that may represent the last bulwark against defeat for the rebels in northern Syria. Tens of thousands of refugees have already fled toward Turkey, which is hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday to discuss the crisis. To the west, another opposition stronghold in Idlib is also under threat from government forces.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is hard to believe that this conflict has been going on for 5 years.

Is The U.S. War Against The Islamic State Helping Al Qaeda?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi vs. al-Zawahiri. (AFP)

Nancy Youssef & Shane Harris, Daily Beast: America’s ISIS War Is Helping al Qaeda

U.S. intelligence and defense officials are increasingly worried their fight against the self-declared Islamic State is benefitting al Qaeda, ISIS’ jihadi rival.

U.S. strikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State have had an unintended beneficiary: al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda has exploited the strikes and gained strength, and that has created a growing rift within U.S. national security circles about where the coalition should aim its strikes. Some American intelligence and defense officials and counterterrorism experts worried that the intense focus on defeating ISIS has blinded the U.S. to the resurgence of al Qaeda, whose growing potency has become more apparent as ISIS becomes weaker.

The American air campaign has notably not targeted al Qaeda in Syria, known as Jabhat al Nusra. With its foe, ISIS, under daily coalition bombardment, al Qaeda has been thriving, continuing to re-align itself with local forces, and re-emerging as the world’s enduring terror group.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It appears that the U.S. has made the decision that Al Qaeda is the lesser of the two evils.

Getting Ready For The Robot Wars


Geoff Dyer, Financial Times: US military: robot wars

More money must go to technology to confront China and Russia, say some people in the Pentagon

When historians come to write about technological innovation in the first half of this century, they are likely to pay special attention to a US Navy drone called the X-47B — otherwise known as the Salty Dog.

Two years ago, the autonomous drone created aviation history when it landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier by itself — that is, without the help of a pilot operating it remotely. Last year the unmanned aircraft marked another first when it refuelled from a tanker while airborne. It went a long way towards demonstrating the potential for semi-autonomous drones to conduct bombing missions over long distances.

For the Pentagon leadership, innovations like the X-47B are centrepieces of a new wave of military technology that officials hope will keep the US ahead of China and Russia, whose heavy investments in recent years has closed the gap.

“We must be prepared for a high-end enemy,” Ashton Carter, the defense secretary, said in a speech last week.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My must read post for today.

The Afghan District Of Sangin Is On The Verge Of Falling To The Taliban


BBC: Sangin 'on verge of falling back into Afghan Taliban hands'

The key district of Sangin in the southern Afghan province of Helmand is once again on the verge of being overrun by the Taliban, according to an Afghan army commander.

The commander, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC that most of the district had already been taken.

He said the Afghan government now controls just a few square kilometres of Sangin city.

The Afghan army and local governor's office dismissed the claims.

A spokesman for the Helmand governor acknowledged there had been security problems in the past but said there was no "serious threat" that could lead to the fall of Sangin.

Read more ....

More News On The Afghan District Of Sangin Being On The Verge Of Falling To The Taliban

Taliban 'close to capturing Sangin' as militants step up assault on Helmand -- The Guardian
Losing Afghanistan: Taliban close to re-capturing key city -- UPI
New threat to Afghan district where 106 British troops died: Sangin region again on the brink of falling to the Taliban -- Daily Mail
Helmand Province District 'On Verge' Of Being Overrun By Afghan Taliban -- RFE

The Pentagon Is Building An 'Arsenal Plane'

It's not known if the Pentagon will revive old B-52 bombers to create an unmanned flying bomb truck, or perhaps recall retired C-130s for a turboprop approach. Past candidates for this concept included the Boeing B-1R. US Air Force

Popular Mechanics: The Pentagon Is Building the "Arsenal Plane," a Giant Flying Battlewagon

The Arsenal Plane will carry a tremendous punch a long, long way​​.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has revealed the existence of a program to develop a so-called "Arsenal Plane." Designed to back up fifth generation fighters such as the F-35 with a large number of conventional weapons, backing up the high-tech fighters with tried-and-true ordinance.

The Arsenal Plane actually has its roots at sea. During the 1990s, there was an effort to create so-called "Arsenal Ships"— large boats packed with hundreds of missile silos that would rely on the targeting data of the rest of the fleet. The Arsenal Ship was never built, but four Ohio-class submarines were converted to carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles each, platforms now recognized as extremely important in providing stand-off, precision firepower.

Read more ....

Update: The Air Force Is Finally Getting The Flying Arsenal Ship It Badly Needs (Foxtrot Alpha)

WNU Editor: No details on the type of plane/numbers/or costs .... but it looks like the Pentagon wants one anyway.

Tweet For Today

Blue Angels At The Super Bowl

Picture Of The Day

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a long range rocket launched into the air in this still image taken from KRT footage and released by Yonhap, Feb. 7, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS/YONHAP

Why Would Russia Invade The Baltics?

Image from The Economist

Doug Bandow, National Interest: Why on Earth Would Russia Attack the Baltics?

When the Cold War closed many people believed that history had ended. Peace had descended upon the earth. The lion was about to lie down with the lamb. The Second Coming seemed on its way. Europe was certain to be free and undivided.

Alas, it hasn’t worked out that way. But no worries. At least NATO officials are happy. Following Russian intervention in Georgia and Ukraine the alliance rediscovered a sense of purpose through its old enemy, Moscow. The Obama administration just announced a multi-billion dollar program to bolster U.S. forces in Eastern Europe. Now a Rand Corporation report warning that Russia could easily overrun the three Baltic members of NATO is raising additional alarm.

Read more ....

Previous Post: If Russia Invaded The Baltics, NATO Forces Would be Overrun In 3 Days

WNU Editor: Doug Bandow's analysis is on the money. There is no need for Russia to invade the Baltics .... the costs would be too high. But I would add a caveat .... Russia would invade the Baltics if it felt that the Russian minority in these countries were facing danger. Russians make up a significant portion of Estonia and Latvia .... and they are faced with language and cultural laws that any other society would call bigoted and racist. But having said that .... it will still not be enough for Moscow to order an invasion.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

North Korean Patrol Boat Retreats From South Korean Waters After Warning Shots


The Guardian: South Korean navy fires warning shots at North Korean patrol boat

Tensions rise further after North Korean patrol boat strays over disputed maritime border one day after rocket launch

The South Korean navy has fired warning shots at a North Korean patrol boat, further heightening tensions already raised after Pyongyang’s launch of a long-range rocket over the weekend.

The defence ministry in Seoul said the North Korean vessel crossed the disputed Yellow Sea border just before 7am (2300 GMT Sunday). It “quickly retreated” at 7.15am after five warning shots were fired by a naval gun, a ministry official said.

Read more ....

More News On A North Korean Patrol Boat Retreating From South Korean Waters After Warning Shots

North Korean patrol boat crosses to South, retreats after warning shots -- Reuters
S.Korea Fires Warning Shots as N.Korean Boat Crosses Maritime Border -- Sputnik
After Rocket Launch, South Korea Fires Warning Shots At North's Navy -- RFE
S. Korea navy fires warning shots at North vessel -- AP
South Korea navy fires warning shots at N Korean patrol boat -- First Post

Pentagon Orders Top Officials To Consider The Impact Of Climate Change On All Military Actions

An Air Force reserve pararescueman from the 920th Rescue Wing scans the ravaged Texas landscape in the aftermath of hurricane Ike. Photograph: Tech. Sgt. Paul Flipse/U.S. Air Force photo

Matt Smith, VICE News: The Pentagon Just Issued Marching Orders on Climate Change

A bit over a year after identifying climate change as a "significant challenge" for the US military, the US Department of Defense has given its top officials orders for handling the hazards posed by a warming world.

The boring-but-important 12-page document issued in January tells the armed service chiefs and top civilian officials to identify how climate change will affect their missions, figure out how to manage any risks it poses, and factor those into their planning. It gives specific tasks to various Defense Department offices and regional commands, from determining how higher sea levels or longer droughts affect US bases to what new gear might be needed to work in a thawing Arctic.

"Although this looks very bureaucratic in nature, I would actually give the department full credit for it," said David Titley, a retired rear admiral who served as the Navy's top oceanographer. "I think this is one of the more significant steps they've done, because they've linked that high-level strategy down to a daily to-do list."

Read more ....

Update: Pentagon orders commanders to prioritize climate change in all military actions (Washington Times).

WNU Editor: This directive only means one thing .... the creation of a new and powerful bureaucracy in the Pentagon.

The End Of Open Borders Within The EU


The Telegraph: The EU's €110bn problem: slow death of Schengen risks new crisis for Europe's battered economies

One of EU's harshest critics calls on Brussels to preserve passport-free travel at all costs to stop the continent from descending into economic turmoil.

The collapse of the Schengen system of open borders risks plunging Europe into fresh economic turmoil, Hungary’s foreign minister has warned.

Europe’s escalating migration crisis - which saw over a million people pour into the continent last year - has led to the re-introduction of temporary border controls in the EU for the first time time in two decades, threatening to reverse one of Brussels’ landmark integration projects.

A full blown dismantling of the borderless zone - where people and trade can move without restriction between 26 countries - would cause “unforeseeable damage” to continent’s beleaguered economies, Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s foreign minister has said.

“If the Schengen zone is going to be demolished or destroyed, then it will cause such serious economic damage that I don’t know how Europe is going to handle it", Mr Szijjarto told The Telegraph.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Predictions are that the flow of refugees will be a minimal five times greater in 2016 than in 2015. If the EU is fragmenting right now .... one can only imagine what it will look like at the end of the year. And while German Chancellor Merkel thinks that going to Turkey will stop the flow .... Merkel Returns to Turkey as Syria Offensive Brings More Refugees (Bloomberg), the reality is that Turkey does not care .... they will just take the money and continue to let these migrants through.

Some Super Bowl Info


WNU Editor: I am watching the game with some friends. For the latest score highlights, go here.

Update: Some more Super Bowl info .... Super Bowl 50 - What Has Changed In The US Since 1967 (Zero Hedge).

If Aleppo Falls Will This End The Syrian War?



Nancy A Youssef, Daily Beast: Is This Game Over For Assad’s Enemies?

If Aleppo falls, the Syrian war could quickly turn in President Bashar al-Assad’s favor—and spell the end for the rebel bid for freedom.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could make his biggest gains in the country’s long civil war—and potentially tip its outcome in his favor in a matter of weeks—by wresting control of the city of Aleppo from opposition forces, two U.S. military officials told The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

If government forces are able to successfully encircle the city and hold it, and control the province around it, “the war is essentially over,” said one of the senior defense officials.

Under assault from hundreds of Russian airstrikes over the past week, Aleppo increasingly is falling out of rebel hands. As many as 40,000 Syrians fled the city toward Turkey’s border over the past two days, walking up to 60 miles to get to safety. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Friday that 15,000 people had already arrived at Turkey’s border from Aleppo.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The battle for Aleppo may take some time ... but the dye has been cast, and unless the dynamics on the ground change in the next few weeks/months, the "moderate rebels" are doomed for defeat and/or to become a marginalized force. There are also going to be geopolitical implications from such a defeat. U.S. prestige and reliability will take a hit in the Middle East, and the world will now see Russia as the more dependable ally of the two.