Monday, February 29, 2016

B-21 vs. The B-2 Stealth Bomber


Dave Majumdar, National Journal: America's Lethal New B-21 vs. the B-2 Stealth Bomber

With the U.S. Air Force revealing concept art and a designation for its shadowy Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) last week, there are many details that we can now glean about the new warplane.

First and foremost, the new B-21 looks very similar to its B-2 Spirit predecessor. In fact, the new aircraft look startlingly similar to the original Advanced Strategic Penetration Aircraft (ASPA) and the later Advanced Technology Bomber concept from the 1980s that ultimately resulted in the B-2. But the Spirit was redesigned late in the game to operate at low altitudes after Dr. Paul Kaminski’s—current chairman of the Defense Science Board—Red Team cautioned that the B-2 might have to resort to low-level penetration as the Soviets built new, more capable radars—as legendary Aviation Week journalist Bill Sweetman points out in his book “Inside the Stealth Bomber.” The redesign caused a decrease in range and payload, as well as a larger radar cross-section.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Some more details on the B-21 Bomber (maybe).

The Battle For Mosul Is Now Underway



Kevin Baron, Defense One: The Battle for Mosul Has Begun

ISIS is under air, ground, and cyber attack as Iraqi and coalition troops encircle the group’s final stronghold in Iraq, the Joint Chiefs chairman says.

WASHINGTON — The battle for Mosul ultimately will be the biggest U.S. operation in Iraq since the end of the last war.

That was Monday’s message from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who said multinational forces have begun to cut off the city’s supply and communications lines, and to encircle and isolate Islamic State fighters with cyber and air and ground attacks. Some coalition forces are already going after ISIS inside Mosul, and the final thrust to retake it should be expected sooner than the distant future, Dunford said.

Carter and Dunford spoke just a few days after President Barack Obama said he directed the military to continue to “accelerate” the war against ISIS “on all fronts.”

Read more ....

More News On The Battle For Mosul

Dunford: Counter-ISIL Shaping Operations Have Begun in Mosul -- US Department of Defense
U.S. says will ramp up support for Mosul fight (Video) -- Reuters
U.S. will expand, improve support for Iraq's Mosul operation -- AP
US troops to step up support for Iraqi forces in Mosul -- The Hill
US expects to give Iraq more support for Mosul fight: US defense chief -- Reuters
Over 30 ISIS jihadis killed in U.S. strikes near Mosul -- ARA News
US expanding its role in the push to retake Mosul -- Euronews

U.S. Army's Delta Force Has Started To Target Islamic State Targets In Iraq



CNN: Army's Delta Force begins to target ISIS in Iraq

Washington (CNN)The U.S. Army's elite Delta Force operations to target, capture or kill top ISIS operatives have begun in Iraq, after several weeks of covert preparation, an administration official with direct knowledge of the force's activities told CNN.

The official said the group has spent the last several weeks preparing, including setting up safe houses, establishing informant networks and coordinating operations with Iraqi and Peshmerga units. It's the same strategy that Special Operations forces have used in previous deployments to combat zones.

Several Pentagon and military officials declined to discuss specifics of the so-called Expeditionary Targeting Force with CNN.

But Defense Secretary Ash Carter seemed to confirm in comments made at the Pentagon on Monday that the Special Operations forces had begun missions.

Read more ....

Update #1: US steps up anti Islamic State operations in Iraq -- Times of Israel
Update #2: Looks Like A Tidal Wave Of Delta Is About To Hit ISIS -- Daily Caller

WNU Editor: I am sceptical that a few hundred U.S. special forces will have a significant impact on the course of this war .... but it makes the news and it shows to the American public that something is being done.

Growing Warnings That The Mosul Dam May Collapse



The Guardian: Iraqi PM and US issue warnings over threat of Mosul dam collapse

US embassy advises any citizens in Tigris flood plain to leave, and Baghdad government urges Mosul residents to move away from river

The Iraqi government and the US embassy in Baghdad have both issued urgent warnings about the possibility of the Mosul dam collapsing and sending a 20-metre-high flash flood coursing down the river Tigris, putting more than a million people at risk.

The embassy on Monday issued a call for people to evacuate the Tigris flood plain, saying “proper preparation could save many lives”. The embassy had earlier described the threat of collapse as “serious and unprecedented”.

Read more ....

More News On Growing Concerns That The Mosul Dam May Collapse

US warns of Mosul dam collapse in northern Iraq -- BBC
U.S. warns citizens to be ready to leave Iraq if Mosul dam collapses -- Reuters
Iraq's Mosul Dam faces 'risk of catastrophic failure,' U.S. says -- CNN
Mosul dam could collapse with 'very little warning' and kill hundreds of thousands in its path -- The Independent
Iraq's Mosul Dam faces failure, disaster, U.S. Embassy says -- UPI
Iraq's Mosul dam is at risk of 'catastrophic failure' and could collapse putting 1.5million lives at risk, officials warn -- Daily Mail
US Warning of 'Catastrophic Failure' of Iraq's Mosul Dam -- VOA
U.S. Plays Up Growing Risks at Mosul Dam -- WSJ
Iraq’s Mosul Dam Teetering on the Brink of Collapse -- Epoch Times

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 29, 2016



Emmanuel Karagiannis, Newsweek: Why The War in Syria is Only the Beginning

The Fog of War that Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz famously mentioned in his breakthrough book On War (1832) is visible in the Middle East. In 2011, when the Arab Spring reached Syria, most western policymakers and analysts underestimated the resilience of President Assad’s regime, mistakenly predicting a quick defeat of his forces. Their assumption was that Assad would suffer the same fate as the former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and become yet another hated dictator overthrown by his people.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 29, 2016

How the US and Russia Can Make the Syria Ceasefire Deal Last -- Patrick Smith, Fiscal Times

Erdo─čan’s fury at the Constitutional Court and the Ankara beltway -- Murat Yetkin, Hurriyet Daily News

Once I Saw Light in Iran. Now It’s Mostly Shadows. -- Azadeh Moaveni, NYT

China's Welcome Action Against North Korea -- Bloomberg editorial

Can Egypt and Ethiopia share the Nile River? -- Daniel Pipes, Japan Times

The Killing Fields of South Sudan -- Nicholas Kristof, NYT

With 'resignation' announcement, Chechnya's strongman woos Putin -- Fred Weir, CSM

Refugee Crisis Disunity: A De Facto Solution Takes Shape in the Balkans -- Spiegel Online

EU's Tower of Babel may fall while leaders distracted -- Paul Taylor, Reuters

Recognize Kosovo or Pay the Price -- Marc Champion, Bloomberg

The Guardian view on the Irish election: economic pain for no political gain -- Guardian editorial

Big economies are ill-equipped for next emergency -- Peter Thal Larsen, Reuters

Stopping America’s Federal Debt Explosion -- Martin Feldstein, Project Syndicate

Watch Five Years of Oil Drilling Collapse in Seconds -- Tom Randall, Julian Burgess and Blacki Migliozzi, Bloomberg

What’s Wrong (and Right) with the CIA? -- Michael Morell, The Cipher Brief

World News Briefs -- February 29, 2016 (Evening Edition)



NPR: On Day 3, Syria's Cessation Of Hostilities Still Largely Holding

Syria's cessation of hostilities is largely holding on its third day, even as the main opposition umbrella group accuses the Syrian regime of violations.

Riad Hijab, the opposition's general coordinator, wrote a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General detailing the alleged breaches of the truce, which was brokered by the U.S. and Russia. The letter reads, in part:

"Right from the onset of the truce, a large number of violations have been committed by the regime and its allies in several parts of Syria. The regime has continued to target populated areas using helicopter raids to using explosive barrels, resulting in a large number of fatalities and causing significant injuries, most of whom were innocent women and children."

Hijab said the opposition's main umbrella group recorded breaches of the agreement in 26 different areas of Syria.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.S.-led coalition discussed possible Syria ground incursion: Saudi official.

Syria’s cease-fire frays as Russia resumes airstrikes. UN chief says Syria truce holding despite growing breaches.

Thousands may have starved to death in Syria: UN.

U.S. leads 24 strikes against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria.

Suicide bombings kill 40 in eastern Iraq, eight west of Baghdad.

IS conflict: This weekends Baghdad bombings death toll rises to 70.

Iraq's Mosul Dam faces 'risk of catastrophic failure,' U.S. says.

Turkish military hits Islamic State positions inside Syria: broadcaster NTV.

Yemen conflict: air strike on market 'kills 30 people'.

Iranian hard-liners losers in parliament, clerical body.

ASIA

Pakistan says it needs F-16s from US for counterterror ops.

China bracing for North Korean response to new sanctions.

Pakistan not to blame for Afghan troubles, official says on U.S. visit.

Afghan police suspected of aiding Taliban killed, detained by army.

Pakistan braces for violence after execution of Governor’s killer.

Philippines asks China to respect sea dispute arbitration.

China fixes yuan at four-week low despite pledge.

Missing Hong Kong booksellers paraded on Chinese TV.

North Korea says U.S. student confessed to stealing item with propaganda slogan.

AFRICA

UK troops sent to Tunisia to bolster Libyan border.

Nigeria's Buhari orders investigation into Benue clashes.

At least 12 killed in eastern Congo by suspected Ugandan rebels.

Al-Shabab attack: 30 civilians killed in south Somalia.

Regional talks on al-Shabab urge resumption of military operations.

African Union plans to deploy military monitors to Burundi.

Crises give Eritrea routes for closer global engagement.

Police fire tear gas at supporters of Liberian anti-government activist.

Egypt migrant departures stir new concern in Europe.

EUROPE

Russia and Ukraine urged to live up to 2015 peace agreement.

Teargas fired as refugees try to breach Greece-Macedonia border. Desperate refugees riot at Greek-Macedonia border. Migrants charge through Macedonia fence on Greek border.

Merkel warns of `chaos' in Greece as refugees mass at border.

French authorities pull down homes in Calais 'Jungle' camp. France starts demolishing massive refugee camp known as the 'Jungle'.

Moscow expects no warming in relations with US after presidential elections — diplomat.

Irish rivals drag out stalemate, say both trying to form government.

Energy price slump sends eurozone into deflation.

Woman detained in Moscow carrying severed head of child.

AMERICAS

Argentina, 'vulture' funds end 15-year debt battle. Argentina and US creditors reach deal in longstanding spat.

Brazil's justice minister quits in internal row over graft probe.

Ex-President's brother arrested in Colombia death squad case.

Trump, Clinton heavy favorites going in to Super Tuesday. Poll: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have huge, commanding leads over their fields.

Racial feud erupts as Republicans fight 'unstoppable' Trump.

President Obama faces pivotal week in fight to replace Antonin Scalia.

Colombia: ELN rebels 'taking over Farc areas' ahead of peace deal.

Colombia's defense minister investigated over rebel visit.

Hard to find bread in shortage-stricken Venezuela.

Bolivian president's woes deepen as ex-girlfriend is held.

Zika outbreak concerns some athletes planning families.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

U.S. waging cyber war on Islamic State, commandos active.

Yemen: Al Qaeda controls more territory than Houthis, Islamic State

Nigeria's trouble with Islamist terrorism.

Boston bomber passed citizen test months before deadly attack: paper.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Google says it bears 'some responsibility' after self-driving car hit bus.

U.S. shale's message for OPEC: above $40, we are coming back.

Putin summons top Russian oilmen on Tuesday: sources.

UK EU exit would be global economy 'shock' - G20 leaders.

Commander of U.S. Special-Operations Forces In Africa: Libya Will Need U.S. Help To Defeat The Islamic State

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, right, with the commander of Senegalese special-operations forces at training exercises in in Thies, Senegal. PHOTO: YAROSLAV TROFIMOV/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Wall Street Journal: Libya Will Need American Help to Defeat Islamic State, General Says

Commander of U.S. special-operations forces in Africa says even unity government won’t be enough

Islamic State, which has spread across Libya by taking advantage of conflict between the country’s two rival governments, has become too strong to be rolled back without U.S. help, a senior American commander said.

Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, the commander of U.S. special-operations forces in Africa, estimated that American military involvement would be needed in Libya even if a unity government were formed.

“Our assessment, purely looking at it through the [special-operations forces] lens, is that our partners need our advice and assistance. They need our training and a certain amount of equipping in order to be successful. That is the gap,” he said in an interview in Dakar, Senegal.

Gen. Bolduc declined to discuss current or pending operations. But his comments, while limited to the special-operations arena, are more specific about possible action in Libya than those made previously by other high-ranking U.S. officials.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: He is stating the obvious .... much to the chagrin (I am sure) of his political masters in Washington who do not want the U.S. to be involved in another war.

U.S. Accelerates Its Cyber War Against The Islamic State

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter (L) and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford arrive at a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington February 29, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Reuters: U.S. waging cyber war on Islamic State, commandos active

The United States is waging cyber attacks against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and its newly deployed commandos are also carrying out secret missions on the ground, Pentagon leaders said on Monday, in the latest signs of quietly expanding U.S. activity.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the cyber attacks, particularly in Syria, were designed to prevent Islamic State from commanding its forces, and Washington was looking to accelerate the cyber war against the Sunni militant group.

"The methods we're using are new. Some of them will be surprising," Carter told a Pentagon news conference.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the cyber attacks were helping lay the groundwork for an eventual offensive operation to recapture the city of Mosul in Iraq from Islamic State.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Accelerating Its Cyber War Against The Islamic State

Pentagon Deploys Cyberweapons Against Islamic State -- WSJ
Pentagon admits it is 'looking to accelerate' cyber-attacks against Isis -- The Guardian
US Cyberattacks Can Expose Islamic State Communications -- AP
U.S. launches cyber attacks on Islamic State -- Washington Times
Pentagon mobilizes military hackers against Islamic State -- L.A. Times
Pentagon unleashes Fort Meade cyber warriors on Islamic State -- Baltimore Sun

Report: Turkey Bombing ISIS Positions In Syria

© Stringer / Reuters

AFP: Turkey 'shells Islamic State positions' in Syria

Ankara (AFP) - Turkish armed forces shelled positions of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria in coordination with the US-led international anti-jihadist coalition, local media reported on Monday.

Turkish artillery fired 50 to 60 shells from howitzers positioned in its southern Kilis region against IS targets in the north of Syria's Aleppo province, the private Dogan news agency reported.

A fragile ceasefire has taken effect in Syria, but jihadists are excluded from it.

It was the first attack in several weeks since Turkey, a member of the international coalition against the IS group, stuck jihadist positions in Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: NATO has concerns on where this may be heading .... Amid Russia-Turkey Ceasefire Violations In Syria, NATO Concerned About Wider Conflict With Moscow (IBTimes).

More News On Turkey's Involvement In Syria

Turkish military hits Islamic State positions inside Syria - broadcaster NTV -- Reuters
Turkish military bombs ISIS positions in Syria – local media -- RT
The Latest: Russia reports Turkish shelling of Syrian Kurds -- AP
Turkey bombs ISIS in Syria's Aleppo -- RUDAW
Russian TV crew films Turkish fortifications, tanks on Syrian border (PHOTOS, VIDEO) -- RT
Turkey to keep supporting armed groups fighting Assad regime in Syria – PM Davutoglu -- RT
Turkey denies hitting YPG positions in northern Syria -- Hurriyet Daily News
Russia says Turkish incursion in Syria will deal ‘irreparable blow’ to ceasefire -- Today's Zaman

Syria's Ceasefire Continues To Hold



Time: Syria’s Cease-Fire Holds in Face of Reported Violations

"The truce has positively surprised many people by lasting for a few days—let’s put it this way—so far"

A fragile cease-fire remained intact for a third day in parts of Syria on Monday, even as monitoring groups reported renewed Russian airstrikes on areas held by opponents of the regime of Bashar Assad.

The reports of shelling on Saturday and Sunday were the clearest sign to date of the erosion of the truce agreement announced a week ago by the United States and Russia. Syrian opposition groups had been deeply skeptical of the truce, which applies only to the Assad regime and its allies and an array of rebel groups fighting the government in Damascus.

The international agreement followed weeks of intense airstrikes by the Russia and the regime against rebel-held areas. The renewed offensive displaced 70,000 people in roughly two weeks in February and brought the regime close to surrounding a crucial rebel stronghold in the city of Aleppo.

Read more ....

More News On The Syrian Ceasefire

Syrian opposition says government wrecking truce deal -- Reuters
UN chief claims Syria cease-fire is holding despite growing breaches -- FOX News/AP
Syrian truce holding, UN chief says – as rebels threaten withdrawal -- RT
UN: Syria Cease-fire Largely Holding Despite 'Incidents' -- VOA
First test for Syrian truce after breaches reported on both sides -- The Guardian
Al-Nusra Front in Syria Plans to Provoke Russia, Disrupt Ceasefire -- Al Jazeera
Syria task force to meet to shore up fragile truce -- AFP
Syria ceasefire task force meets, France wants answers on violations -- Reuters
NATO chief says concerned about Russian military build-up in Syria -- Reuters
Saudi Arabia trying to destroy fragile truce in Syria, warns Assad regime -- The Independent
Syria accuses Saudi foreign minister of trying to thwart truce -- Reuters
As patchwork truce hangs on, Syrians see glimmer of hope -- CBS
CNN exclusive: In rebel-held Aleppo, residents suspect Syria truce a trick -- CNN
Syria truce allows UN to bolster aid -- DW
Syria conflict: UN steps up aid deliveries as truce holds -- BBC

President Obama Presents Medal of Honor To Navy SEAL Edward Byers



Washington Post: A SEAL Team 6 member steps out of the shadows to receive the Medal of Honor

In the darkness of a single-room building in Afghanistan, Navy Senior Chief Edward C. Byers Jr. had little time to react: A fellow Navy SEAL had just been shot in the head during a hostage rescue mission, and it wasn’t clear who else in the room wanted to kill the American team.

Byers burst in anyway, shooting a Taliban fighter who had an automatic rifle aimed at him. Another man scrambled to the corner of the room where another rifle was stored, so Byers tackled him and then tried to adjust his night-vision goggles to see whether he was the American hostage. The hostage, lying five feet away, called out in English, so Byers killed the insurgent he was straddling and then hurled himself on top of the hostage to protect him from gunfire. At the same time, Byers pinned another enemy fighter to the wall with a hand to the throat until another SEAL shot the militant.

Read more ....



More News On President Obama Presenting The Medal of Honor To Navy SEAL Edward Byers

Special: Medal Of Honor -- US Department of Defense
Navy SEAL receives Medal of Honor at White House ceremony -- AP
President Obama Presents Medal Of Honor To Navy SEAL Hero -- NPR
Obama awards medal of honor to Navy SEAL -- The Hill
SEAL receives Medal of Honor for valiant acts in Afghanistan -- FOX news
Obama awards Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL for daring hostage rescue -- USA Today
Navy SEAL Edward Byers Breaks Secrecy, Receives Medal of Honor -- NBC
Navy SEAL receives Medal of Honor for hostage rescue -- CNN
Member of Navy SEAL Team 6 receives Medal of Honor at White House ceremony -- New York Daily News

Migrants Storm The Greece - Macedonia Border



CNN: Migrants break through Macedonia-Greece border fence as backlog mounts

(CNN)Scores of migrants broke through a barbed-wire security fence on the Greece-Macedonia border Monday, as tensions over new restrictions along the key land route into Europe boiled over in violent scenes.

And more than 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) away in Calais, in northwest France, clashes erupted as authorities moved to dismantle structures at the "Jungle," an infamous migrant camp marked for partial demolition.

Crowds at a border camp near the Greek village of Idomeni on the Macedonian border, a main transit point for refugees traveling to western Europe, used a large pole to ram through the border gate, while authorities deployed tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to keep the chanting crowd at bay.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Winter is coming to a close in Europe .... I expect the migration crisis to start heating up in the next 4 - 6 weeks. What we are seeing right now on the Greece-Macedonia border is just a small glimpse on what to expect this summer.

More News On Migrants Storming The Greece - Macedonia Border

As Europe bickers, police fire tear gas on migrants storming border -- Reuters
Refugees Try to Breach Greece’s Border With Macedonia -- NYT
Migrants try to storm Greece-Macedonia border fence -- AFP
Europe's Crisis Worsens: Migrants Face Razor Wire, Tear Gas -- AP
Migrants break down Macedonia fence on Greek border -- BBC
Macedonian Police Tear Gas Migrants -- VOA
Migrants Are Being Tear-Gassed in Macedonia and France -- VICE News/Reuters
Anger boils over as EU nations block refugees' path -- CBS/AP

President Obama's Ukraine Policy Has Failed

President Obama meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko on Sept. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Michale Crowley, Politico: Obama's Ukraine policy in shambles

Distracted by ISIL, frustrated by infighting in Kyiv, the administration makes little progress against Putin in Europe.

President Barack Obama’s effort to rescue Ukraine from Russia’s military grip has stalled, and turmoil inside Ukraine's government may hand Russian President Vladimir Putin a victory in a conflict that Obama has said involves "the most basic principles of our international system.”

Two years after the pro-western protests that toppled Kyiv’s government, enraged Putin, and caused an international crisis, Obama’s Ukraine policy is foundering — the victim of Putin’s steely determination, the distractions of Syria and ISIL, and wavering support from European allies eager to move past the conflict.

Despite personal pleas from Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. officials fear that Kyiv's leaders are near a political implosion that would derail efforts to stabilize the country and eject Russia from its eastern territories.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Cannot say that I am surprised that current U.S. policy on Ukraine has failed .... and failed miserably. When you hitch your wagon to a bunch of Ukrainian politicians who are corrupt, nationalistic, and unwilling to compromise with their opponents .... grid-lock and tensions becomes the result, and in a place like Ukraine .... disastrously so. And while it is easy to blame Russia for all the ills in Ukraine .... and to advocate a more forceful response against Moscow .... bottom line .... this would not change one iota for the average Ukrainian who is facing social and economic problems that are getting worse with each passing day. The big crisis in Ukraine (right now) is the economy and their debt. Kiev needs money, reforms, and an environment that favours the small-time entrepreneurs. But no one wants to give Ukraine money, reforms are in chaos, and corruption kills the small-time entrepreneur. And the U.S. role in all of this .... sighhh .... they are still focusing on Putin.

China’s Military Expands Its Global Reach

Reuters

Daily Beast: Slowly, Relentlessly, China’s Military Expands Its Global Reach

With military bases and deepwater ports from Sri Lanka to Djibouti, and plans to build new aircraft carriers, China is looking to project power far beyond East Asia.

HONG KONG — On the horn of Africa, as you may have read, the tiny nation of Djibouti, home to American, French, German, Italian, and Japanese military bases, is about to welcome the Chinese as well.

Last November, China and Djibouti reached an agreement to set up a naval base in the Obock region in the north of the country, where an American outpost was evicted last August.

The U.S. base that remains, called Camp Lemmonier, costs the United States $70 million a year in lease fees and development aid.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China military expansion is still "minor" when compared to what the U.S. has deployed worldwide .... but they are expanding.

World News Briefs -- February 29, 2016



Reuters: Syria rebels say attacks by army and Russian planes threaten truce

The Syrian opposition warned on Sunday that attacks by the army, backed by Russian warplanes, threatened a U.S.-Russian deal for a cessation of hostilities with collapse and endangered future peace talks.

The agreement, which is in its second day and has drastically curbed violence but not stopped it entirely, is the first of its kind to be attempted in four years.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the opposition said violations would undermine international efforts to guarantee the continuation of the truce and lead to the collapse of the UN-adopted political process.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria’s cease-fire frays as Russia resumes airstrikes. UN chief says Syria truce holding despite growing breaches.


Thousands may have starved to death in Syria: UN.

U.S. leads 24 strikes against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria.

IS conflict: Baghdad bombings death toll rises to 70.

Iraq's Mosul Dam faces 'risk of catastrophic failure,' U.S. says.

Turkish military hits Islamic State positions inside Syria: broadcaster NTV.

Yemen conflict: air strike on market 'kills 30 people'.

ASIA

China bracing for North Korean response to new sanctions.

Afghan police suspected of aiding Taliban killed, detained by army.

Pakistan braces for violence after execution of Governor’s killer.

Philippines asks China to respect sea dispute arbitration.

China fixes yuan at four-week low despite pledge.

Missing Hong Kong booksellers paraded on Chinese TV.

North Korea says U.S. student confessed to stealing item with propaganda slogan.

AFRICA

Nigeria's Buhari orders investigation into Benue clashes.

At least 12 killed in eastern Congo by suspected Ugandan rebels.

Al-Shabab attack: 30 civilians killed in south Somalia.

Regional talks on al-Shabab urge resumption of military operations.

African Union plans to deploy military monitors to Burundi.

Crises give Eritrea routes for closer global engagement.

Police fire tear gas at supporters of Liberian anti-government activist.

Egypt migrant departures stir new concern in Europe.

EUROPE

Teargas fired as refugees try to breach Greece-Macedonia border. Desperate refugees riot at Greek-Macedonia border. Migrants charge through Macedonia fence on Greek border.

Merkel warns of `chaos' in Greece as refugees mass at border.

French authorities pull down homes in Calais 'Jungle' camp. France starts demolishing massive refugee camp known as the 'Jungle'.

Moscow expects no warming in relations with US after presidential elections — diplomat.

Irish rivals drag out stalemate, say both trying to form government.

Energy price slump sends eurozone into deflation.

Woman detained in Moscow carrying severed head of child.

AMERICAS

Poll: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have huge, commanding leads over their fields.

Racial feud erupts as Republicans fight 'unstoppable' Trump.

President Obama faces pivotal week in fight to replace Antonin Scalia.

Colombia: ELN rebels 'taking over Farc areas' ahead of peace deal.

Hard to find bread in shortage-stricken Venezuela.

Bolivian president's woes deepen as ex-girlfriend is held.

Zika outbreak concerns some athletes planning families.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Yemen: Al Qaeda controls more territory than Houthis, Islamic State

Nigeria's trouble with Islamist terrorism.

Boston bomber passed citizen test months before deadly attack: paper.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

U.S. shale's message for OPEC: above $40, we are coming back.

Putin summons top Russian oilmen on Tuesday: sources.

UK EU exit would be global economy 'shock' - G20 leaders.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 29, 2016



Sputnik: Has Russia's T-90 Tank Really Made TOW Missiles Obsolete in Syria?

New Russian tanks sent to Syria have been able to survive hits from US-made TOW missiles, although their anti-missile counter-measures have yet to be seen in combat.

In a report on the new weapons deployed to the Syrian conflict, Robert Fisk drew attention to tank-based anti-missile systems, as well as night vision and reconnaissance systems.

The new tanks supplied to the Syrian army have the ability to deflect TOW-like missiles, although their full implementation has yet to be seen. A video released by rebels showed the T-90 surviving a hit by a TOW missile, but an open hatch prevented the deployment of an aerosol screen used to deflect such missiles before they reach the tank.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 29, 2016

WATCH: U.S.-made missile goes up against one of Russia’s most advanced tanks -- Washington Post

Russian army to test-drive 20 Armata tank prototypes -- RT

Five Russian Weapons Which Made Their Deadly Debut in Syria -- Sputnik

Saudi Warplanes Arrive at Turkish Airbase -- Defense news

Latvia wants greater NATO presence to offset Russia -- Military Times

Military Drones Coming To The Royal Canadian Air Force -- Canadian Press

Trident nukes vulnerable to cyber-attacks, underwater drones – ex-defense secretary -- RT

The growing U.N. scandal over sex abuse and ‘peacekeeper babies -- Washington Post

Australia considers sending its own military satellites into space -- Sydney Morning Herald

China plans to launch 2nd space station, crewed mission -- AP

Cambodia Wants China Warships: Navy Commander -- The Diplomat

Japan to Supply Philippines With Military Equipment -- AP

Japan: The Next Major Player in the Taiwan Strait? -- Emily S. Chen, The Diplomat

South China Sea: Beijing Is Winning, But Here's How to Retake the Initiative -- Peter Layton, Lowy Institute

Could Military Buildup In South China Sea By China Lead To US Response? -- IBTimes

Indian Air Force Has Only 32 Squadrons - Lowest In A Decade -- NDTV

India, U.S. closer to pact to share military logistics: officials -- Reuters

United States Putting ‘Advisers’ On The Front Lines In Nigeria’s War Against Boko Haram -- Outside The Beltway

Decision to delay F-35 buy "incredibly difficult," Air Force general says -- Air Force Times

Reductions in Pentagon's planned F-35 orders not significant-Lockheed -- Reuters

Israel's Angst Over Qatar Sale Could End Boeing’s F-15 Line -- Defense News

Pentagon will decide future of two high-profile satellite programs by year’s end -- Space News

Pentagon Research Could Make ‘Brain Modem’ a Reality -- David Axe, Daily Beast

17 reasons why the M1 Abrams tank is still king of the battlefield -- Business Insider

Week ahead: Pentagon brass defends budgets -- The Hill

Combat jobs are opening to women. Should the draft? -- Courtney Mabeus, Virginia-Pilot

This is the Navy fitness test that MCPON wants -- Navy Times

Persian Gulf War veterans fume as a 25th anniversary goes unmarked by Pentagon -- Washington Post

Don’t Fall for Obama’s $3 Billion Arms Buildup at Russia’s Door -- Lawrence J. Korb and Eric Goepe, Defense One

America's Nuclear Shield: Time to Modernize? -- Robert Burns, AP

The next president's military -- Military Times

What Iranian Moderates?



Eli Lake, Bloomberg: Iran's Elections Are Magic

If you are following the Iranian elections, prepare to be dazzled. According to major news outlets from the BBC to the Associated Press, the reformists beat the hardliners.

But wait. Didn't Iran's Guardian Council disqualify most of the reformists back in January? Of course it did, but thanks to the magic of Iranian politics, many of yesterday's hardliners are today's reformist.

Take Kazem Jalali. Until this month, Jalali was one of those hardliners whom President Barack Obama had hoped to marginalize with the Iran nuclear deal. Jalali has, for example, called for sentencing to death the two leaders of the Green Movement, who are currently under house arrest. And yet, he ran on the list endorsed by the reformists in Friday's election.

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WNU Editor: The AP has a different point of view .... Iranian moderates win majority in parliament, clerical body (AP). What's my take .... if these are Iran's moderates, I hate to know who are the hard-liners who lost.

Why Low Oil Prices Are Here To Stay

The logo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is pictured at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, August 21, 2015. REUTERS/HEINZ-PETER BADER

Reuters: U.S. shale's message for OPEC: above $40, we are coming back

For leading U.S. shale oil producers, $40 is the new $70.

Less than a year ago major shale firms were saying they needed oil above $60 a barrel to produce more; now some say they will settle for far less in deciding whether to crank up output after the worst oil price crash in a generation.

Their latest comments highlight the industry's remarkable resilience, but also serve as a warning to rivals and traders: a retreat in U.S. oil production that would help ease global oversupply and let prices recover may prove shorter than some may have expected.

Continental Resources Inc (CLR.N), led by billionaire wildcatter Harold Hamm, is prepared to increase capital spending if U.S. crude CLc1 reaches the low- to mid-$40s range, allowing it to boost 2017 production by more than 10 percent, chief financial official John Hart said last week.

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Update: Why OPEC is Losing Control Over Oil Prices & How Shale Oil Controls It Indirectly (Alahdal A. Hussein, Oil Voice)

WNU Editor: So much for the theory of "peak-oil".

Why Are U.S. Special Operators Stuck Buying Their Own Equipment?

In a 2007 file photo, a U.S. Special Operations Forces member prepares his gear for an evening mission in western Iraq. Eli J. Medellin/U.S. Navy

Military.com/Stars and Stripes: Lacking Basic Gear, Special Operators Stuck Buying Their Own Equipment

WASHINGTON -- Sean Matson, who recently left active duty as a Navy SEAL, said the military measured his head four times -- each time before deployment -- with plans to provide him a more advanced ballistic helmet.

But the new helmet never materialized. During a deployment in Africa, Matson and six of his fellow SEALs each shelled out about $900 for updated helmets that held the lights, communications devices and batteries needed for their missions.

"There was never a clear solution to it, so guys were going out spending $800-$900 on their own ballistic helmet," said Matson, who is now CEO of the military supply company Matbock.

Elite troops such as the SEALs are more and more forced to dip into their own pockets to purchase basic military gear such as helmets, global positioning devices and medical supplies, according to Matson and others involved in the military's unofficial civilian-side supply network who came to Capitol Hill on Thursday.

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WNU Editor: With a Pentagon budget in the hundreds of billions .... you would think they would have enough money to properly equip a soldier .... especially those who are being deployed. Apparently not .... and this problem has been around for a very long time.

Should Kill Boxes Be Banned?

Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, October 18, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

Scott Beauchamp, The Atlantic: The Moral Cost of the Kill Box

The repurposed military tactic is both unethical and ineffective in today’s conflicts.

In laymen’s terms, “kill boxes” sound like torture devices. In military jargon, they are almost incomprehensible; as defined in the Department of Defense Dictionary, they are “a three-dimensional area reference that enables timely, effective coordination and control and facilitates rapid attacks.” But despite their ominous name and complicated technical definition, kill boxes are actually relatively simple in concept: They are three-dimensional cubes of space on a battlefield in which members and allies of the United States military are completely free to open fire.

According to the DoD, “there is no formal kill-box doctrine or tactics, techniques or procedures.” They require a sophisticated web of logistical, bureaucratic, and technological expertise to implement. Like most military tactics, kill boxes aren’t new—they’ve been around for nearly 30 years now. But they are constantly being reinvented for new conflicts. In recent years, kill-box strategy has shifted: They are now used in conflicts that are not between two states, but rather within states against terrorists and fighters who aren’t members of any particular country’s military.

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WNU Editor: This sounds more like a "kill-zone". And as to this tactic being an American one .... I am not sure. I read on how the Germans used it against the Soviet Army during the Second World War.

Expect Operational Hypersonic Missiles By 2020

The X-51A Waverider prepares to launch its historic fourth and final flight. The cruiser achieved Mach 5.1 traveling 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes, making this test the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bobbi Zapka)

Air Force Times: Hypersonic missiles could be operational in 2020s, general says

By 2020, the Air Force is likely to have operational prototypes ready for a program of record and testing to develop an operational unit, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello, the commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

By the 2030s, the technology could have expanded beyond delivering warheads at speeds faster than sound to also include hypersonic intelligence and reconnaissance flights, he said.

The Air Force, Masiello said is focusing on “deliberate, incremental progress towards maturing this technology.”

“We’re looking for more singles, base hits, versus trying to go for a home run,” he said.

Speaking at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida., Masiello described the efforts the service is undertaking to develop engines that could travel at or above the widely accepted hypersonic range of Mach 5.

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Update: Hypersonic missiles will be operational in the 2020s and hypersonic spyplanes in the 2030s (The Next Big Future)

WNU Editor: I guess they are optimistic in being able to overcome the technical problems that thye have had in developing this technology.

A Growing Call In South Korea For A More Aggressive Stance Towards north Korea

President Barack Obama is briefed by Lt. Col. Ed Taylor as he views the DMZ from Observation Post Ouellette at Camp Bonifas, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Asahi Shimbun: S. Korean scholars, politicians call for hard-line approach against Pyongyang

SEOUL--South Korean scholars and politicians, particularly military veterans, are joining a mounting call for a pre-emptive air strike against North Korea in a desperate bid to force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile development programs.

Although the use of force against North Korea could lead to an all-out war embroiling East Asia, Seoul may need to take a more hard-line stance against Pyongyang if public opinion in South Korea leans further toward such an approach.

At a public discussion held in Seoul on Feb. 16, Park Hwee-rhak, dean of the Graduate School of Politics and Leadership at Kookmin University, called for a pre-emptive attack on North Korea’s nuclear weapons facilities

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WNU Editor: I fail to see what a  pre-emptive air strike against North Korea will solve (except start a war) .... but definitely the cutting of all economic aid and working with China to isolate the North is the least that South Korea could do.

Remembering The Battle Of Cannae



Robert Bateman, Daily Beast: The Ancient Battle Generals Still Love To Copy

Cannae for Hannibal was the definition of winning the battle but losing the war. However, his brilliant execution of a double envelopment would obsess tacticians for a millennia.

I went to the most famous battlefield in Western History, and had a surprise. Not a good one.

It is a stomp, well off the path, to get to Cannae.

The main train lines in Italy run up and down the coasts. Going inland, particularly in southeast Italy, is somewhat more episodic. My train had two cars. At the fourth stop, “Battle”, I got off.

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A Map That Shows 4,500 Years of Global Conflict

© battles.nodegoat.net

Sputnik: Map of World War Shows 4,500 Years of Global Conflict

Users of Wikipedia have created an interactive map that illustrates where all the wars documented since 2500 BC have taken place around the world.

Data from Wikipedia has been used to put together a map of the world's wars since 2500 BC, that illustrates where and when the world's conflicts have occurred.

A group of researchers took information from DBpedia in a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and make it available on the web.

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Update: This Shocking Map of Battles Throughout History Isn't Even Close to Complete (Gizmodo)

WNU Editor: This is an excellent idea, but there are still a few bugs. The full version is here.

Massive Military Exercises Involving 20 Nations Launched In Saudi Arabia



Al Arabiya: 20-nation military drill launched in Saudi Arabia

A military drill named “North Thunder” was launched in northern Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Countries participating in the drill included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Turkey, Tunisia, Comoros, Djibouti, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, Egypt and Mauritania, in addition to the Peninsula Shield Forces, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

According to SPA, the drill is the largest military drill in the world in terms of the number of participating forces as well as the breadth of the maneuver area.

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More News On the Start Of Miltiary Exercises In Saudi Arabia Involving 20 Nations

'Thunder of the North' military exercise begins in Saudi -- AFP
Saudi Arabia hosts joint military exercise -- The National
Largest-ever military drill in region begins -- Emirates 24/7
‘North Thunder’ military drill begins in northern Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Gazette
UAE takes part in the largest military drill in the region’s history in Saudi Arabia -- The Gulf Today

Picture Of The Day

Harrier Takeoff
An AV-8B Harrier takes off from the flight deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard at sea, Feb. 23, 2016. The aircraft is assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 214. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cameron McCulloch

This Interactive Map Shows China’s Emerging Military Capabilities In The South China Sea



Fox Trot Alpha: This Map Visualizes China's Growing Military Capabilities In The South China Sea

This awesome interactive map shows China’s emerging area denial and anti-access military capabilities in the South China Sea. It is useful in visually tracking China’s progress towards creating an overlapping field of control over a vast majority of the area.

The map, which you can access here, is built by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

One of China’s highly developed islands in the northern part of the South China Sea, Woody Island, has been equipped with surface-to-air missiles and fighter aircraft. These moves have come just as many defense analysts have predicted for years and are likely an indication of things to come for China’s other island outposts throughout the South China Sea.

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WNU Editor: it looks like the Chinese have everything covered.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

How The U.S. Failed In Libya



Scott Shane and Jo Becker, New York Times: A New Libya, With ‘Very Little Time Left’

The fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton. Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge.

IT WAS A GRISLY START to the new era for Libya, broadcast around the world. The dictator was dragged from the sewer pipe where he was hiding, tossed around by frenzied rebel soldiers, beaten bloody and sodomized with a bayonet. A shaky cellphone video showed the pocked face of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, “the Leader” who had terrified Libyans for four decades, looking frightened and bewildered. He would soon be dead.

The first news reports of Colonel Qaddafi’s capture and killing in October 2011 reached the secretary of state in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she had just sat down for a televised interview. “Wow!” she said, looking at an aide’s BlackBerry before cautiously noting that the report had not yet been confirmed. But Hillary Clinton seemed impatient for a conclusion to the multinational military intervention she had done so much to organize, and in a rare unguarded moment, she dropped her reserve.

“We came, we saw, he died!” she exclaimed.

Two days before, Mrs. Clinton had taken a triumphal tour of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and for weeks top aides had been circulating a “ticktock” that described her starring role in the events that had led to this moment. The timeline, her top policy aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote, demonstrated Mrs. Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.” The memo’s language put her at the center of everything: “HRC announces … HRC directs … HRC travels … HRC engages,” it read.

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WNU Editor: A sobering review.

Some Ugly Truths About Ukraine's Maiden Revolution Are Becoming Public

Photo credit: Hromadske

Katya Gorchinskaya, Foreign Policy: He Killed for the Maidan

Here's why my news organization decided to shed some light on a dark moment in Ukraine's revolution.

My television station had a murderer on air last week — a self-confessed one. Ivan Bubenchik was calm and collected, his demeanor was open, and he spoke confidently of his actions on February 20, 2014, like he had known exactly what he was doing. After all, he was on the good side of the Euromaidan revolution, which was raging in Ukraine at the time, and which eventually swept a corrupt president out of power.

In telling Bubenchik’s story, we were breaking a taboo — it was the police, the popular narrative goes, that were the murderers. The protesters were heroes. But Bubenchik’s words were chilling. “To create a word of mouth effect, you have to shoot two or three [police] commanders,” he said to the camera. “I only picked two. And after that, there was no need to kill anyone else, so I aimed at the legs.”

Bubenchik said he was trying to scare the police away — they had started to dominate the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s central Independence Square, where the anti-government protesters had been camped for months. His tactic worked perfectly. His first sniper shot killed an officer, his second wounded another. The rest of the riot police scattered and ran up the hill away from the square.

This was two days before the end of the revolution. President Viktor Yanukovych had not yet fled to Russia, fearing betrayal of his faithful friends in the government. But the revolution was already in its final — and deadly — stage. 39 people had already been killed. Most were protesters killed by the police or by hired thugs. Some 2,000 more people had been wounded — again, mostly protesters, but also a handful of policemen.

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WNU Editor: I am not surprised by this revelation .... at the height of the Ukraine revolution my cousins's daughter was assisting protesters wounded by police sniper fire, and she told me at the time that many protesters were also armed and were firing back. It was when the firing started to intensify, that she and the other women were told to pull back to a safer area. Will Ivan Bubenchik's admission that he killed police officers during the height of the Ukraine revolution change anything .... sadly no. The simple fact is that most Ukrainians do know what happened during this time .... that both sides were killing each other.

Hat Tip to Jay for this link.

al-Shabab Violence Intensifies In Somalia



VICE News: Dozens Reported Killed by Bombings at Restaurant and Busy Intersection in Somalia

The Somali militant group al Shabaab bombed a busy junction and a nearby restaurant in the town of Baidoa on Sunday, killing as many as 55 people.

"The restaurant and the junction were very busy and the death toll may rise," Police Major Bilow Nurr told Reuters from Baidoa, which is located about 150 miles northwest of Mogadishu. Another police officer said a suicide car bomb blew up at the junction while a second blast, possibly a bomb that had been planted or a suicide bomber, struck the restaurant.

Ismail Olad told Reuters the two locations were full of civilians and security forces. "I heard a huge crash at the busy junction and as I ran, I heard another blast at a restaurant ahead of me. The whole place was covered by smoke," he said.

According to a journalist reporting live from the scene via Twitter, 55 people were confirmed dead and 60 were hospitalized. Police Colonel Abdi Osman said at least 17 were killed, mostly civilians, with 25 others injured.

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More News On Al-Shabaab's Attacks In Somalia

Twin Suicide Bombings Kill at Least 20 as Shabab Violence Intensifies in Somalia -- NYT
Somalia Baidoa bombings which killed dozens blamed on al-Shabaab militant group -- Independent
Al-Shabab suicide bombings kill 21 people in Somalia -- UPI
Deadly Explosions Rock Somali Town -- VOA
Bomb attacks kill at least 21 in Somalia -- Sky News

Islamic State Launches Two Suicide Bombing Attacks That Kill 70 In Baghdad



Al Jazeera: ISIL bombings near Baghdad kill scores of Iraqis

Roadside bombs near Iraq's capital kill at least 70 while military comes under assault in Abu Ghraib and near Fallujah.

Two bomb blasts have killed at least 70 people at a market just outside Baghdad and security forces have been targeted elsewhere in one of Iraq's bloodiest days in recent weeks.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsiblity for Sunday's attacks, the deadliest of which hit the predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City, just north of the Iraqi capital Baghad.

The explosions, caused by two roadside bombs, left 100 people injured in addition to the deaths.

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More News On Today's Suicide Bombing Attacks In Baghdad

Twin suicide bombing kills 70 in Baghdad's deadliest attack this year -- Reuters
Twin bombing attacks in Baghdad market kill at least 59 -- AP
Islamic State Launches Attacks in Baghdad -- WSJ
Over 70 feared killed, 100+ wounded in Baghdad blasts -- RT
Two Bombings Kill Dozens at a Baghdad Market -- NYT
At least 70 killed, dozens wounded in Baghdad market bombings -- PBS
Double attack shows Islamic State can still shake Baghdad -- Washington Post