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 ....

MIDDLE EAST

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.

ASIA

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.

AFRICA

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.

EUROPE

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.

AMERICAS

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.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

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.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

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

Japanese Network Releases Video That Shows The Moment Kim Jong Un’s Brother Is Attacked In Malaysian Airport



ABC News Online: Kim Jong-nam death: Japanese network releases purported CCTV footage of assassination

CCTV footage purportedly showing the deadly assault in Malaysia on the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by a woman, who is believed to have wiped a fast-acting poison on his face, has been released by Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV.

Kim Jong-nam died last Monday a short time after the attack in the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where he had been preparing to take a flight to Macau.

Malaysian police have detained four suspects — a Vietnamese woman, an Indonesian woman, a Malaysian man, and North Korean man — and are on the hunt for four other North Koreans who fled the country on the day of the attack.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Not a high-quality video. In fact .... it's lousy.

More News On The Assassination Of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un's Half-Brother Kim Jong-nam

Footage appears to show Kim Jong-nam attack as diplomatic row deepens -- The Guardian
N. Korean envoy blasts Malaysians, calls for joint probe -- AP
Video showing apparent poisoning of Kim Jong Un's half-brother surfaces -- FOX News
Kim Jong Nam Murder: Video Shows Moment Kim Jong Un’s Brother is Attacked -- NBC
Chilling video shows alleged assassins striking N. Korea leader's sibling -- CBS
North Korea Denounces Probe Into Murder of Kim's Half-Brother -- Bloomberg
N. Korean envoy blasts Malaysians, calls for joint probe -- AP
North Korea ambassador says Kim Jong Nam died of 'natural causes' -- UPI
South Korea accuses North Korea of Kim Jong Nam assassination -- UPI
Kim Jong-nam Killing Was 'Terrorist Act' by North Korea, South Says -- New York Times
Kim Jong-nam killing: Malaysia recalls envoy from North Korea -- BBC
Four suspects in Kim Jong-nam murder fled Malaysia, one North Korean man arrested -- Sydney Morning Herald
China Monitors Assassination Probe Of North Korean Kim Jong Nam -- NPR
Death, Diplomatic Spat Could Cost North Korea a Rare Friend -- AP

President Trump Has Chosen General H.R. McMaster As His Next National Security Adviser


WNU Editor: This is a breaking news story. More details later tonight. For more info on General H.R. McMaster, go here .... H.R. McMaster: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (Heavy).

Update: Last man standing: McMaster for NSA? (Thomas E. Ricks, Foreign Policy).

Update #2: Trump appoints McMaster his new national security adviser (USA Today).

Famine Declared In Parts Of South Sudan



The Guardian: Famine declared in South Sudan

‘Man-made’ food crisis threatens 100,000 people after war and a collapsing economy devastate agriculture in the country

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where UN agencies warned on Monday that war and a collapsing economy have left 100,000 people facing starvation.

A further 1 million people were classified as being on the brink of famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN bodies. Unimpeded humanitarian access was urgently needed to reverse “an escalating catastrophe”, they added.

Read more ....



More News On Famine Being Declared In Parts Of South Sudan

Famine declared in region of South Sudan – UN -- UN News Centre
Famine declared in part of South Sudan by government and UN -- AP
Parts of South Sudan suffering famine: govt official -- Reuters
South Sudan declares famine in Unity State -- BBC
Famine declared in parts of South Sudan as 100,000 face starvation -- DW
Millions in South Sudan in Urgent Need of Food, UN Warns -- New York Times
Famine declared in South Sudan, with 100,000 people facing starvation -- Washington Post
Famine declared in South Sudan; U.N. says more than 5M at risk -- UPI

President Obama’s Former National Security Adviser: Not Enforcing Syria Red Line Was a ‘Colossal Mistake’



The Hill: Former Obama national security adviser blasts decisions in Syria as a 'colossal mistake'

Retired Gen. Jim Jones, President Obama’s first national security adviser, on Sunday blasted the former president's decisions on Syria, saying “it was a colossal mistake to draw a red line.”

Jones told CNN's Jim Sciutto on "State of the Union" that the administration failed to follow up on the statement, which caused a “loss of confidence” in “a very important part of the world.”

"I think at the very least the penalty for [Syrian President] Bashar al Assad for having used chemical weapons on his own people should have been the forfeit of a piece of his territory for -- where refugees could have been handled and might have prevented the flow of refugees into Europe,” Jones said.

Read more ....

President Obama’s Former National Security Adviser: Not Enforcing Syria Red Line Was a ‘Colossal Mistake’

Obama’s Fmr. National Security Adviser: Not Enforcing Syria Red Line Was a ‘Colossal Mistake’ -- Washington Free Beacon
Obama National Security Adviser: He Made 'Colossal Mistakes' in Syria -- Newsmax
Obama’s 'Red Line' on Syria Was a 'Colossal Mistake' - Former Security Adviser -- Sputnik

Syrian War News Updates -- February 20, 2017



BBC: Syria conflict: Rebels warns truce may collapse after attacks

Rebel factions in Syria that backed recent peace moves say an intensification of government attacks has put the current truce in jeopardy.

They warn that they reserve the right to respond to recent bombings of areas around Damascus, Homs and the south.

The rebels describe the attacks as a "bloody message" from President Bashar al-Assad's government.

This comes just days before UN-sponsored talks are due to start in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has played down hopes for the talks on 23 February.

Read more ....

Syrian War News Updates -- February 20, 2017

Syrian government forces press attack on Damascus outskirts: monitors, medic -- Reuters
Syria army ramps up shelling near capital ahead of talks -- AFP
Syrian army and rebels trade rocket-fire in and around Damascus -- DW
Syrian forces attack rebel-held areas of Homs, Deraa, Damacus: monitors -- Reuters
Russia says 4 soldiers killed in roadside bombing in Syria -- AP
Four Russian servicemen killed by roadside bomb in Syria -- Washington Post
4 Russian servicemen killed in car blast in Syria – MoD -- RT
Turkish air strikes target ISIS in northern Syria -- Jerusalem Post
Turkey Continues Tough Battle Against IS in Syrian Town -- VOA
Turkey: Send US Special Forces to northern Syria -- Middle East Monitor
Trump insists Middle Eastern nations will pay for 'safe zones' for Syrian refugees -- Daily Mail
Le Pen Says Assad May Be Lesser of Two Evils for Syria's Future -- Bloomberg
Syria ceasefire opens door for political solution, UN says -- CNN

Russian Ambassador To The UN Vitaly Churkin Has Died

Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin © Brendan McDermid / Reuters

WNU Editor: I friend of mine who works in Russia's UN mission in New York City just called me to tell me that. Met him a few times in the past. My prayers go to his family and loved ones.

Update: Russian media is now reporting on it .... Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin Dies (Sputnik). More here.

Counter-insurgency Expert David Kilcullen's Analysis On The Battle For Mosul

Smoke rises after a rocket landed in the middle of the Iraqi rapid response forces' position during a battle against Islamic State militants in the south of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

ABC News Online: Mosul: Counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen says battle against Islamic State likely to take months

The battle for Mosul is unlikely to be over until at least the middle of the year, meaning many more months of hardship for hundreds of thousands of civilians still inside the Iraqi city, counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen says.

Iraqi government forces have now launched a large-scale operation to take the western half of Mosul city from Islamic State (IS) militants.

Mr Kilcullen told Lateline much of the fighting is centred on a hilltop near the city's airport.

"The Iraqis are now breaking into the southern part of the city, in the area near the airfield, which has been an [IS] headquarters for the past two years," he said.

"A lot of fighting right now is for a hilltop, a small hill on the southern edge of the airport.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:
This blog has been covering David Kilcullen's reports and analysis on Iraq since its beginning. An interview with him on the battle for Mosul can be seen here.

Iraqi Army Mi-28 Gunship Unloading Cannon And Rockets On ISIS Attackers in Mosul (Video)



Daily Star: Russian attack helicopter UNLOADS on ISIS fighters holed up in former stronghold of Mosul

INCREDIBLE footage shot from the frontline of the battle against ISIS shows a military helicopter unleashing its might on stranded fighters below.

The clip, shot by an Australian news crew embedded in the besieged city of Mosul, Iraq, has gone viral after shocked viewers circulated the footage online.

It begins showing an aircraft, believed to be an Mi-28 model helicopter, hovering above the city firing flares.

After a number of seconds, it begins unloading from a machine gun, raining gunfire down on the city below.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: That is something that you do not see everyday.

Update: Here is an interesting on the ground report from Australian broadcaster ABC News (they are also probably the ones who filmed the above footage) .... Confusion and contradiction as Iraqi forces push into west Mosul (ABC News Online).

The Battle For The Iraqi City of Mosul -- News Updates February 20, 2017



Reuters: Iraqi forces battle their way toward Mosul airport

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces fought Islamic State fighters on Monday to clear the way to Mosul's airport, on the second day of a ground offensive on the jihadists' remaining stronghold in the western side of the city.

Federal police and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response are leading the charge toward the airport, located on the southern limit of the Mosul, trying to dislodge the militants from the nearby hilltop village of Albu Saif.

The Iraqi forces plan is to turn the airport into a close support base for the onslaught into western Mosul itself.

Islamic State militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 750,000 civilians, after they were forced out of the eastern part of the city in the first phase of an offensive that concluded last month, after 100 days of fighting.

Read more ....

The Battle For The Iraqi City of Mosul -- News Updates February 20, 2017

Iraqi troops push into IS-held southern outskirts of Mosul -- AP
Iraqi forces push towards airport in bitter battle to retake west Mosul -- France 24
Mosul offensive: Iraqi army battles for outskirts of IS city. -- BBC
Iraqi forces push into southern outskirts of Mosul -- USA Today
Iraqi forces begin bitter battle for Mosul in effort to destroy Isis -- The Independent
Iraqi forces press on with Mosul operation to oust IS group -- DW
Iraqi forces push into ISIL-held southern Mosul -- Al Jazeera
2 000 IS fighters defending west Mosul: US official -- AFP
Britons fighting on both sides in the battle for Mosul: Elite SAS troops spearhead attack... while British ISIS fanatic carries out suicide bombing in retaliation -- Daily Mail
Iraq’s New Offensive to Retake Mosul 'Unlikely to Feature Lightning Advances' -- Sputnik
350 000 children trapped in west Mosul: Charity -- News24
Aid groups brace for surge of displaced Mosul residents. -- Al Jazeera
UN says civilians at extreme risk as west Mosul offensive begins -- The Guardian
Gritty clashes mark what Iraq hopes will be 'the dawn of a great victory' in Mosul -- Los Angeles Times
The Terrifying ISIS Sleeper Cells of Mosul -- Florian Neuhof, Daily Beast
The Fight to Retake Mosul From ISIS Reaches Perilous New Stage -- TIME
Battle for western Mosul will be toughest fight yet -- Renad Mansour, BBC/Academy Fellow, Chatham House

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis Lands In Baghdad: 'Not Here To Seize Iraqi Oil'



Al Jazeera: Defence secretary Jim Mattis: Not in Iraq to seize oil

Jim Mattis arrives on unannounced visit to Iraq as Pentagon considers acceleration of military campaign against ISIL.

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq's leaders.

Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday, as the battle to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Under the president's deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to ramp up the fight and defeat ISIL.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis's focus is on the war against the Islamic State .... not on how Iraq will pay for it. But for the media .... a golden opportunity to point out what President Trump said about Iraq's oil in the past .... Trump Says U.S. Should Have Stolen Iraq’s Oil, and ‘Maybe We’ll Have Another Chance’ (NYMag).

More News On U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis Surprised Visit To Baghdad

US Defense Secretary Mattis: No plan to seize Iraqi oil -- AP
Trump's defense chief, in Iraq, says: We're not here for your oil -- Reuters
Jim Mattis to Baghdad: ‘We’re Not in Iraq to Seize Anybody’s Oil’ -- NYT
Mattis: US 'Not in Iraq to Seize Anybody's Oil' -- VOA
Mattis: US not in Iraq to ‘seize anybody’s oil’ -- The Hill
Mattis to Iraqis: U.S. not in Iraq 'to seize anybody's oil' -- UPI
US Defense Secretary: We're not in Iraq to seize oil -- CNN
US defense chief plays down Trump comments on seizing Iraq oil -- DW
‘We’re not here to seize oil’: US defense secretary arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit -- RT
Mattis compliments Iraqis on rebuilding army after meeting PM Abadi -- RUDAW

World News Briefs -- February 20, 2017



Al Jazeera: Iraqi forces push into ISIL-held southern Mosul

Troops backed by jets battle their way to Mosul airport, as US defence chief arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit.

Iraqi security forces have pushed into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a new offensive to drive ISIL fighters from the city's western half, as US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit.

Iraqi forces backed by jets and helicopters battled their way to Mosul airport on Monday as they prepared to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group's stronghold in the city's west bank.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

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.

ASIA

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.

AFRICA

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'.

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.

EUROPE

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.

AMERICAS

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.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

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.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

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.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 202, 2017

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

DW: Arms trade hits highest level since Cold War: study

Demand from the Middle East and Asia has driven the transfer of arms to its highest level in decades, a study shows. The US and Russia produced more than half of the world's arms in the past five years, it says.

The worldwide arms trade rose to its highest level since the Cold War in the five years between 2012 and 2016, according to a study by a Swedish-based research institute released on Monday.

The volume of world arms trading increased by 8.4 percent compared with the 2007-2011 period, the study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 202, 2017

U.S., Russia Top List Of Global Arms Exporters -- RFE

Global arms trade highest since Cold War era with US and Russia top exporters -- IBTimes

US, Russia World's Largest Exporters of Weapons in 2012-2016, Study Shows -- Sputnik

Global arms sales surge driven by Middle East demand -- Al Jazeera

Saudi arms imports triple amid Yemen campaign, US & Europe top suppliers to Mid East – report -- RT

India is world’s largest arms importer: SIPRI -- India.com

Russia's Next Gen S-500 Prototype Launch Date Announced -- Sputnik

Russia’s new ICBMs can ‘rip apart’ US anti-missile systems – Deputy PM Rogozin -- RT

Russian ammo maker to develop AI-based grenade launcher munitions -- TASS

Russia holds talks on sales of T-90-MS tanks to Middle East states -- TASS

Russia, Turkey Negotiating Deal on S-400 Missile Systems Purchase -- Sputnik

US intel ‘routinely taps Russian ambassador’s communications’ – Lavrov -- RT

The U.S. Military's Next Big Worry: Invisible Russian Soldiers? -- Michael Peck, National Interest

NATO: Russia targeted German army with fake news campaign -- DW

NATO Officials Say Russian 'Fake News' Seeks to Undermine Alliance -- VOA

Iran launches 'advanced' rockets during military exercises -- AP

Underwater drones, border sensors are growth areas for Gulf nations -- Defense News

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se (File)South Korea Warns NK’s Nuclear Status Will be Solid in a Few Years -- Sputnik

Chinese fear US military 'tightening the encirclement' of their country -- RT

China's military is approaching 'near parity' with the West -- Business Insider

China Holds Massive Military Rallies in Xinjiang After Spate of Violence -- Sputnik

Philippine army to create task force to chase big drug syndicates -- Reuters

India's Real Military Problem (And It's Not Pakistan or China) -- Daniel darling, National Interest

Afghan training goes back to basics as Trump faces U.S. troop decision -- Reuters

U.S. Navy deploys aircraft carrier to South China Sea -- UPI

US Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Patrolling S. China Sea -- AFP

US to deploy 1000 troops to Poland -- DW

The M4 Carbine: The Gun the U.S. Army Can't Do Without -- National Interest

SSP’s Benedict: Time to Start Thinking About the Next SLBM -- Sea Power

Air Force official cautions against increasing F-35 buy rate -- Defense News

Trump Meets Finalists; May Expand Search For National Security Adviser -- NPR

U.S. defense secretary scraps Afghan trip due to weather -- Reuters

Mattis to decide soon on troop levels in Afghanistan -- AP

Defense Secretary Mattis disagrees with Trump, says he does not see media as the enemy -- Virginia Pilot/Washington Post

Mattis on rise in Trump administration -- The Hill

Spiraling internal costs threaten to make U.S. military a 'hollow force' -- UPI

Navy gives fleet commanders more control over who gets training — and when -- Navy Times

Flynn leaks ignite surveillance debate -- The Hill

The Former Secretary of Defense Outlines the Future of Warfare -- WIRED