Saturday, March 31, 2018

Russia Tells The U.K. To Cut Its Diplomatic Staff By 50

The National/AFP: Russia demands UK cut over 50 diplomats in new tit-for-tat move

The call is seen as Moscow's retaliation to the mass coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomatic staff by the UK's allies following a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England.

Russia demanded on Saturday that Britain further slash its diplomatic presence as a crisis in ties between Moscow and the West escalated over a nerve agent attack on a former spy.

The call came after 23 British diplomats were kicked out of Russia earlier this month and is seen as Moscow's retaliation to the mass coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomatic staff by the UK's allies.

It is the biggest wave of tit-for-tat expulsions between Russia and the West in recent memory and has seen relations plunge to new post-Cold War lows.

Read more ....

More News On The Growing Diplomatic Crisis Between Russia And The West

Britain and Russia lock horns as Moscow cuts UK diplomats -- Reuters
Russia demands UK cut diplomatic staff -- The Hill
Russia to expel over 50 British workers, deepening tensions between Kremlin and London -- Washington Post
Russia diplomats, families, leave US embassy -- AFP
Spy case: Russia, US envoys leave Washington, St. Petersburg -- AP

News From Russia

Moscow confronts London with 14 questions on ‘fabricated’ Skripal case -- RT
Moscow sends note to London listing questions on Skripal case — ministry -- TASS
US Diplomats Expelled from Russia Leave Consulate General in St. Petersburg -- Sputnik
US expulsion of Russian diplomats from UN HQ violates all international deals – envoy -- RT
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Antonov says embassy will continue to work on stabilizing bilateral relations -- TASS
‘US expelling America’s friends’: Russian Ambassador decries Trump’s move as diplomats leave DC -- RT

Israel Loses A Drone In Lebanon, The Fourth This Year

A photo on local media claims to show the crash site of an Israeli drone that went down in Lebanon, March 31, 2018 (screenshot)

Times of Israel: Israeli drone crashes in Lebanon due to malfunction

Army says no sensitive info lost in incident; according to Al-Manar, spy plane was destroyed by second aircraft after going down in country's south

An Israeli drone on Saturday crashed in Lebanese territory due to a technical malfunction, the Israeli army said.

The IDF said the incident was being investigated, and added that no sensitive information had been lost due to the crash.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television had reported on the crash earlier. It said the unmanned aircraft went down between the villages of Beit Yahoun and Baraachit in southern Lebanon.

Read more ....

More News On Israel Losing A Drone In Lebanon

Israeli Drone 'Armed With 4 Missiles' Crashes in Southern Lebanon -- Haaretz
Israeli drone crashes in Lebanon -- Arutz Sheva
Israeli drone crashes in southern Lebanon -- Reuters
Israeli military says its drone crashes in Lebanon -- AP
Israel loses recon drone in Lebanon, the fourth this year -- RT

Another Violent Day On The Gaza - Israel Border

Daily Mail: Palestinians prepare for fresh protests as funerals begin for 16 people killed by Israeli forces in Gaza's bloodiest day for four years - as Israel threatens to target 'terror organisations'

* Protesters are preparing for further demonstrations near the Israel-Palestine border following violent clashes
* Thousands of Palestinians have gathered in tent encampments set up across five sites for the six-week protest
* Israel has defended its soldiers who opened fire on demonstrators, killing 16 and injuring more than 1,400

Palestinians are preparing for further protests after 16 people were killed in the Gaza's bloodiest day in years.

Protesters are returning to a tent city near the Israel-Palestine border to resume a demonstration planned to last six weeks.

Funerals for those who were killed saw mourners chanted 'revenge' while holding Palestinian flags.

Israel has defended its soldiers who yesterday opened fire on Palestinians who had strayed from the tent city protest.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Israel - Gaza Border Violence

Israeli troops wound dozens on Gaza border as Palestinians bury dead from earlier violence -- Reuters
At Gaza Fence, Violence Fades as Israel Warns of Broader Response -- NYT/AP
Israel says it will expand response if Gaza clashes go on -- Los Angeles Times
Gaza-Israel violence: Israel warns of action inside Gaza -- BBC
Israel prepares for weeks of military and international tension -- The Jerusalem Post
Benjamin Netanyahu praises Israeli troops day after they 'kill 16 Palestinian protesters' in border clashes -- The Independent
Netanyahu praises Israeli army after killings of Palestinians -- The Al Jazeera
EU calls for probe into Gaza protest -- Deutsche Welle
UN calls for inquiry after Gaza's most violent day in 4 years -- CNN
UN leader calls for investigation into deadly Gaza clashes -- AP
Israel, Palestinians Debate Use Of Force Over Deadly Friday Demonstrations -- NPR
US blocks UN resolution condemning Israel for deaths in Gaza clashes -- The Times of Israel

The U.S. Army Wants A Better Protection For Its Tanks

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ason Forsyth

WNU Editor: Two articles that outlines how the U.S. Army wants to better protect its tanks ....

The Modular Active Protection System will be able to run multiple types of protection systems and could pave the way for networked defenses.

The U.S. Army has hired Lockheed Martin to continue development of a universal control system that will be able to run current and future active protection systems to defend a variety of vehicles. The goal of the Modular Active Protection Systems program, or MAPS, is to craft a common system that can rapidly accept upgrades in response to emerging threats, and could open up the possibility for a networked arrangement that links systems on multiple platforms.

Read more ....

The composite material offers dramatic weight savings and increased protection from shock, fires.

Researchers have discovered that composite metal foam offers greater protection than traditional armor steel plate at a third of the weight. The discovery has broad implications for armored vehicles, and could result in stronger, lighter vehicles better able to protect occupants from the impact of kinetic weapons, explosive shockwaves, and fires.

Read more

The U.S. Military Has 3,822 Nuclear Weapons

Michael Peck, National Interest: The U.S. Military Has 3,822 Nuclear Weapons. (Enough Firepower to Kill Billions)

In a more peaceful universe, the fact that the United States possesses almost 4,000 weapons that can destroy entire cities would be horrifying.

But in our universe, it is actually an encouraging sign of how much America's nuclear arsenal has declined since the Cold War.

As of 2017, the U.S. had 3,822 nuclear weapons, according to data just declassified by the Department of Energy. That's down from 4,018 in 2016. That number does not include weapons that have been retired but have yet to be dismantled by the Department of Energy.

The figures show just how deep America's nuclear arsenal has been cut since the height of the Cold War. In 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States had 25,540 nuclear weapons. That number grew to a peak of 31,255 nuclear weapons in 1967.

From 1967 on, that number gradually declines. In the 1970s, the stockpile ranged from 24,000 to 28,000 weapons. In the 1980s, it hovered around 23,000.

Read more ...

WNU Editor:
The above video shows a rare glimpse inside a US Nuclear Missile Silo & Launch Facility of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

For The Past Five Months China Had Completely Cut-Off North Korea From Petrol Products And Other Vital Supplies

China's President Xi Jinping (R) shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing on March 27. Data suggests China might have used its economic clout to ensure it remained at the heart of international negotiations involving North Korea Credit: AFP

The Telegraph: China turns the screw on North Korea by cutting its petrol supply, report says

China has turned off the tap on crucial goods for North Korea in a bid to pile on economic pressure as South and North Korean leaders prepare for an unprecedented diplomatic summit this April, and hopes for May talks between the US the isolated country mount.

The leaders of North and South Korea are to meet on April 27 for the first time in more than a decade, the two countries announced on Thursday after preliminary talks between senior officials.

An analysis of Chinese customs data from Aberdeen Standard Investments has revealed that China’s exports of refined petroleum to North Korea have collapsed in the last five months, to as little as 3.7 per cent on the previous year.

Other products have also been hit. North Korean steel imports from China have fallen dramatically, along with car imports. Economists believe that the data may explain the recent dramatic shifts in North Korean policy.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un provoked widespread international attention this week with a trip to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. This followed the country's attendance at the Winter Olympics, and was another highly unusual step for closed-off state, known for its efforts to proliferate nuclear weapons an oppressive regime.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Now we know why North Korea offered to enter into talks with South Korea and the U.S. during and ater the Olympic Games, and why North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un scurried to China this past week when Beijing gave him an invitation to visit the capital and to discuss the upcoming talks. He is being squeezed, and we now to what extent he has been squeezed. The big question that I have right now is that since Kim Jung-Un's visit, will China open the borders to export these products, or will they keep on squeezing him?

China Will No Longer Financially Support Venezuela

China's President Xi Jinping (L) and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro shake hands during a signing ceremony in Caracas July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

Nick Cunningham, Did Venezuela Just Lose A Key Ally?

Venezuela’s debt crisis is only expected to grow worse this year, and the government could be without one of its most important benefactors, raising the odds of yet another default.

China has sent around $50 billion to Venezuela over the years, loans that were repaid in oil shipments. China needed oil and Venezuela needed cash, and the relationship worked for a period of time. But as Venezuela’s economic situation took a turn for the worse, China slowly backed away. Or, more accurately, China allowed Venezuela more lenient repayment terms while at the same time slowly closing the door on new loans.

According to a new Reuters report, with an agreement expiring this year, China will likely extend a financing arrangement that has already been in place that stretches out Venezuela’s debt payments. With little to no cash on hand, China is allowing Venezuela to only pay interest on its debt.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Venezuela owes both China and Russia tens of billions of dollars .... and they can no longer repay these loans. What we are now seeing is a picking of the carcus from both Russia and China .... which was predicted by many (including yours truly) years ago.

Russia's New Patrol Boat Is Extremely Deadly

The Warzone/The Drive: Russia's New Little Missile Packing Patrol Ship Is A Pretty Genius Design

The ships can carry containerized missile systems and can be outfitted with vertical launch surface-to-air missiles, but are half the size of an LCS.

Russia is constructing half a dozen Project 22160 patrol boats that leverage an innovative and compact design that provides a lot of capability and potentially a huge amount of combat punch in a relatively small seaframe. The concept is innovative enough that it should be studied by western navies as a source of inspiration for their own future multi-role combat vessels.

Displacing just 1,300 tons, and at 308 feet long, these vessels sport stealthy features and have a range of 6,000 miles. They can stay at sea for 60 days while housing a crew complement of approximately 80 people. They aren't slowpokes either and can hit speeds of up to 30 knots.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In short .... this patrol ship can challenge the U.S. Navy's LCS fleet, and it packs everything that this new U.K. patrol boat does not .... Royal Navy Has Received the First Of Five New Gunboats Built To Protect Britain's Fishing Waters (March 27, 2018). And although the cost of this Russian patrol boat has not been disclosed, my gut tells me that it is cheap.

DARPA Wants A Program That Can Predict An Opponent's Strategy And Then Recommend Strategies To A Commander

Michael Peck, National Interest: DARPA's Mad Scientists Have a Sneaky Plan to Win the next Big War

The art of generalship is to get inside the enemy's head. From Caesar to Napoleon to Rommel, the best commanders have a knack for deducing the enemy's plans and then moving to exploit that insight.

At the same time, a staple of science fiction is the omniscient computer. DARPA wants to merge these two phenomenon into software that will determine an opponent's strategy and then recommend strategies to a commander.

Collection and Monitoring via Planning for Active Situational Scenarios (COMPASS) will focus on "gray zone" warfare, that nebulous not-quite-war mixture of cyberoperations, special forces, insurgents, information operations and other ways of waging war without actually going to war. Its most practiced practitioner today is Russia, which has used the technique to good effect in Crimea and Ukraine.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: People are creatures of habit .... so maybe it can be predicted, even on a battlefield. But as to when such a platform will be applied .... that is far in the future.

The U.S. Marines Are Gettings A New And Improved M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW)

The latest M-72 rocket launcher on display at the Urban ANTX-18 exercise held March 22 aboard Camp Pendleton, California. (Shawn Snow/Staff)

Task & Purpose: This Iconic Vietnam-Era Rocket Launcher Just Got A Major Upgrade, And Marines Say It’s A ‘Game Changer’

First adopted by the Army and Marine Corps at the height of the Vietnam War, the M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW) has remained a staple of infantry arsenals and action movies for over a half-century. Lightweight and reliable, the 66mm rocket system has a reputation for fantastic results. When Dirty Harry and Rambo are in the mood to make an explosive entrance, they lay down the LAW.

Now, Marines may get their chance to test a new and improved version of the tried-and-true M72 round. Defense News reports that arms maker NAMMO is working on an upgrade that wouldn’t just offer a suite of adjustments to fire control but purportedly all-but eliminate backblast, the heat and overpressure created by each round that can limit the use of anti-tank weapons like the M72 in combat.

Read more ....

Update #1: US Marines Might Soon Get New Versions of The Vietnam-Era M72 Rocket Launcher (The Warzone/The Drive)
Update #2: Vietnam-era rocket launcher may get a new lease on life as Corps ponders a deadlier M-72 (Marine Times)

WNU Editor: One cannot help but be impressed on how a weapon that has been used ofr years can be (and is) improved upon.

This Island Has Been Key To Launching China's Claim And Presence In The South China Sea

CNBC: China has been quietly perfecting a key military outpost in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Here's a look at how it developed

* Beijing has quietly been building up a rugged power projection platform on Woody Island in the South China Sea.
* China first took possession of Woody Island in 1955 and has since equipped it with airstrips, hangars, ports and surface-to-air missile systems.
* Here's a look at how China developed this key strategic military outpost.

The numerous overlapping sovereign claims on islands, reefs, and rocks — many of which disappear under high tide — have turned the South China Sea into a virtual armed camp. And China has been quietly perfecting one of its key military outposts in the disputed waters.

The South China Sea, which is home to more than 200 specks of land, serves as a gateway to global sea routes through which approximately $3.4 trillion of trade passes annually.

China, the second-largest economy in the world, links its economic security closely to these waterways since more than 64 percent of its maritime trade transited through the region in 2016. The South China Sea is also a vital trade artery for Vietnam, Japan and South Korea.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese are definitely giving the impression to everyone that they are here to stay in the South China Sea.

A B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber Patch Appeared On eBay

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Business Insider/The Aviationist: A curious looking B-21 Raider Stealth bomber patch just appeared on eBay

* Shortly after the Air Force announced that the B-21 would soon be tested, a B-21 Combined Test Force patch popped up on Ebay.
* Members of the Combined Test Force formulate the test program, develop the criteria for flight test missions, execute flight test missions, analyze data from the test flights, and report on the results.
*The Ebay seller said that he purchased the patch from Edwards AFB personnel who are standing up the testing of the new aircraft.

At least officially, there are no existing prototypes of the B-21 Raider, the U.S. Air Force's next stealth bomber built by Northrop Grumman and destined to replace the B-1 and B-2 fleets.

In 2016, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first artist rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, that showed a concept quite similar to the B-2's flying wing design; then, more recently, on Mar. 3, 2018, Brigadier General Carl Schaefer, Commander of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, publicly announced that the aircraft will be tested at Edwards: "the B-21 is coming to Edwards and we will be testing it here in the near future," he said in his address at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade and Business Outlook Conference.

Read more ....

Update: Mysterious B-21 Raider Combined Test Force Patch Emerges (The Warzone/The Drive)

WNU Editor: The patch has been sold, and the winning bid was $250.00 !!!!!

Russian Spies In Seattle

Seattle Times: Russian spies in Seattle: Black ops, Soviet subs and counter intel in the Pacific Northwest

Russian intelligence gathering in Washington state stretches back for decades — long before the 1992 opening of the Seattle consulate.

Wanted — FBI recruits for a career in surveillance. Must be comfortable tailing subjects by foot, vehicle or on public transportation, use electronic equipment, and work nights and weekends as necessary.

The online job post at gives a glimpse into the shadowy world of espionage that continues to unfold between the United States and Russia. The Trump administration cited the risk of such clandestine activities in its decision Monday to close the Russian Consulate in Seattle.

The Cold War spy craft that was the stuff of John le Carré thrillers may have taken a back seat in the popular imagination in the age of post-9/11 terrorism, but for FBI agents trying to identify Russian consular staff who are using their positions as cover for intelligence gathering, the work never stopped, and it may have intensified amid growing tensions between Moscow and the West.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I do not know about the spying, but I do know that there is not much of a Russian community in Seattle to justify a Russian embassy.

A Look At Nine Media Pictures And Events Of Russian President Putin That Are Not Impressive When You Look Very Close

Business Insider: 9 over-the-top, macho Putin stunts that were nowhere near as impressive as they seemed

Vladimir Putin is keen to portray himself as a patriotic strongman who will lead Russia to greatness on the world stage. To achieve this, he's taken part in various over-the-top, macho photo ops, many of which are reportedly his idea.

Putin hopes these images, cultivated since he became president in 1999, will "create connections" with his constituents in Russia, said Fiona Hill, who wrote a biography of the Russian president.

However, many of them don't really stand up to scrutiny — scroll down to see what they are.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I did see him play in a hockey game .... and I was underwhelemed. No bodychecks or pushing .... just everyone skating around (slowly). But for his age he is in good shape, and while some of his media events are over the top .... there are some (when he is fishing and spearfishing) that are not.

The A-10 Is Going To Be Around For At Least The Next Decade

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot flies over Afghanistan after completing aerial refueling operations with a KC-135 Stratotanker on March 12, 2018. DVIDS

DoD Buzz/ New Wings for A-10 May Keep it Flying Past 2030: Air Force Secretary

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Friday that new wings for the workhorse A-10 Thunderbolt will keep the close-air support aircraft in the inventory for another dozen years or more.

Last week, Wilson told the House Armed Services Committee that funding for the re-winging of the A-10s in the fiscal year 2018 budget would keep the "Warthogs" flying at least to 2030.

At an Air Force Association breakfast Friday, Wilson extended the potential retirement date for the A-10, whose first production model was delivered in 1975. She said the A-10s would remain in the fleet to 2030 "and possibly beyond."

Read more ....

Update: The A-10 Warthog Just Got The Money It Needs To Stay Alive -- Tast & Purpose/Business Insider

WNU Editor: No mention on how many A-10s will be flying, but this is a positive sign. And speaking of the A-10 .... The Air Force just released a bunch of crazy photos of A-10 Warthogs over Afghanistan (Business Insider).

What Would Happen If A Sino-Russian War Broke Out Because Of North Korea?

John T. Kuehn, Task & Purpose: No One Saw It Coming: How Russia Went to War Against China in 2020

August 30, 2020

From: U.S. Ambassador, Tokyo

To: Secretary of State Pompeo

Mr. Secretary,

I am writing this to you, after the fact obviously, to review the last several months of operations in the war none of us foresaw just two years ago.

Background and Discussion: As you recall, we were in some disarray after the departure of your predecessor, Mr. Tillerson, and you asked all of us for our own take on the situation in Korea, especially with the appointment of Mr. Bolton coinciding as it did with your own appointment and the President’s initiation to meet with Mr. Kim.

As we all know, Kim met with President-Chairman Xi in March of that year and there was much speculation as to what passed between them. Reality only became clear, however after the President’s earth-shaking meeting with Kim and President Moon of S. Korea in Seoul. This was followed, not long after, by the Pyongyang Protocol in August, wherein all three leaders announced the demilitarization of the peninsula with the withdrawal of all US forces and the institution of a UN-led mission with a regime of inspections to ensure the dismantling of Kim’s nuclear weapons programs.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Talk about wild specualtion. Bottom line .... Russia will not engage in a massive war over North Korea.

This CIA-Linked Spy Plane Is Looking For Ships That Are Busting North Korean Sanctions

Warzone/The Drive: Shadowy CIA-Linked Spy Plane May Be Scouring The Sea For North Korean Sanction Busting

Since February 2018, the essentially unmarked surveillance aircraft has been flying orbits over the East China Sea between North Korea and China.

For weeks now, plane spotters on the ground and those using online flight tracking software have watched the curious activities of a highly modified and effectively unmarked de Havilland Canada Dash-8 surveillance plane as it flies missions from U.S. Air Force bases in Japan. It’s not clear who is operating the aircraft or what it’s doing, but it is reportedly tied to the CIA, and from the plane’s routes and overall configuration, it may be involved in enforcing sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The aircraft, which carries the U.S. civil registration code N599XQ, but it otherwise overall white in color, first began appearing in Japan at Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo in February 2018. It has since flown out of Kadena Air Base further south on the island of Okinawa, as well, primarily into the East China Sea. Units assigned to Pacific Air Forces, or PACAF, the Air Force’s top command for operations in the Pacific theater, manage operations at both of the bases.

Read more ....

WNU editor: The technology behind these planes must be very impressive .... and they have been busy .... UN blacklists dozens of ships and companies for North Korean smuggling operations (Business Insider/Reuters)

U.S. Army Is Set To Test Its First Augmented Reality System Sometime In 2019

Popular Mechanics: U.S. Troops to Test Augmented Reality By 2019

The device, called, HUD 3.0, will project critical data onto a soldier’s field of view.

The U.S. Army is set to test its first augmented reality system sometime in 2019. The system, called HUD 3.0, will allow soldiers to quickly figure out where they are, where the rest of their unit is, and where the enemy is. The heads-up display (HUD) is designed to allow soldiers in combat to orient themselves in the fight and rapidly come up with a plan to defeat their enemies.

According to Breaking Defense, the U.S. Army is developing a helmet-mounted system designed to project important data onto a soldier’s field of view. The augmented reality concept is based on the heads-up display used on fighter planes. Introduced in the late 1970s, HUDs project key information such as speed, altitude, heading, radar mode, and available weapons onto a fighter pilot’s field of view, allowing the pilot to keep his or her eyes on the skies.

Read more ....

WNU editor: What has only been seen in science fiction movies and shows will soon be an integral tool for US soldiers when they are deployed to conflict zones in the next few years. This will definitely make commanders aware on what is happening on the ground and the position of their forces .... while having a better understanding on the who/what/and where the enemy is (at least in theory). For more details on this tech go here .... HUD 3.0: Army To Test Augmented Reality For Infantry In 18 Months (Breaking Defense).

Should We Believe What U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford Is Claiming In Afghanistan?

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with Army Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 15, 2016. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

Paul Szoldra, Task & Purpose: Does Gen. Dunford Actually Believe His Own Bullsh-t?

I often wonder whether four-star generals actually believe their own bullshit.

That thought has crossed my mind more than once after reading quotes from Gen. Joseph Dunford, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You see, old “fightin’ Joe” has been in the news quite a bit lately, since he recently took a trip over to Afghanistan to learn firsthand how everything is shaping up.

Predictably, he returned and told us that, yes, there are a few issues here or there still to be worked out, but he’s “encouraged by the progress” in Afghanistan, some 17 years after the first American boots were on the ground.

Does Dunford actually buy this sales line of “progress” that has been offered ad nauseam by just about every general in Afghanistan for the past 10 years?

Or how about another DoD news item from a week ago, when Dunford talked up the “fundamentally different” strategy of advising and assisting Afghan security forces that was recently implemented by the Trump administration? He told reporters traveling with him that 2018 was “not another year of the same thing we’ve been doing.”

Really, Joe? I’d like to fact check you for a moment here if I could.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Paul Szoldra from Task & Purpose has been a harsh critic of the U.S.-Afghan military strategy and its leadership for a long time, and he does not disappoint here.

In Afghanistan The U.S. Military Want To Prove That They Can Reverse Gains Made By The Taliban

A U.S. Army crew chief aboard a Chinook helicopter observes a successful test of flares during a training flight in Afghanistan on March 14. (Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook/Air Force/Reuters)

Washington Post: In Afghanistan, U.S. military sprints to prove it can reverse insurgent tide

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — The U.S. military is racing to demonstrate it is making progress in Afghanistan during a critical period that will test President Trump’s strategy and, potentially, political support for the war.

Military leaders say the arrival of new troops and aircraft, along with a renewed mission to advise local operations more closely, will help reverse a Taliban resurgence that has exposed the fragility of the long American project in Afghanistan.

“This is not another year of the same thing we’ve been doing for 17 years,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a tour of military facilities across Afghanistan last week. “This is a fundamentally different approach.”

With an increased U.S. force of about 15,000, focused largely on efforts to ensure Afghan troops can launch offensives against the Taliban, Dunford said that “the right people at the right level with the right training” are in place ahead of the 2018 fighting season, a sentiment repeated by other commanders.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The parts of this story that caught my eye are the following ....

.... The Afghan forces would have to become “so capable and lethal” they could defeat the Taliban in battles with little help, said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, who commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. “I am not optimistic we are going to see that happen anytime soon.”

.... But the Taliban has a stronger grip in southern strongholds, vast parts of which remain no-go zones for security forces.

.... Whether Afghanistan can hold parliamentary elections without major violence will help Pentagon officials gauge the strategy’s success in coming months, as will the number of Afghan military casualties. While the Afghan government does not disclose exact figures, U.S. officials say combat losses remain in the thousands each year.

.... David Sedney, a top Pentagon official for Afghanistan during the Obama administration and now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said important Taliban figures in Pakistan continue to believe that military victory is possible.

Bottom line .... this war is far from over.

Turkish Media Have Published A Map Of French Military Positions In Syria

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

France 24: Turkey's Anadolu news agency publishes map of French military positions in Syria

A map reportedly detailing the location of French military bases in northern Syria was published Friday by Turkish press agency Anadolu, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron assured the Syrian Democratic Forces of France’s support.

The visit by Syrian Kurdish representatives to the French presidential palace on Thursday was watched closely by the Turkish government who were anything but happy.

A map purportedly showing French military positions in Syria published by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency on its website Friday could be seen as a direct response to Thursday's visit.

The five military bases are believed to be mostly located in the north of the country in regions controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. According to Anadolu, close to 70 French soldiers may currently be operating in the northeast of Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The link (in english) to the story from Turkey's Anadolu news agency that published this map is here .... French military cooperating with YPG/PKK terrorists (Anadolu Agency). When one considers how accurate the map is, it is obvious that the Turkish military and/or intelligence agency provided it, and with the A-OK of Turkish President Erdogan's office. as to the rason why .... the Turkish government is clearly still steamed about this .... France Offers To Mediate Turkey-Kurdish SDF Talks, Turkey Warns France Could Become A 'Target' For Backing The Kurds (March 30, 2018), and they have now painted a big bulls-eye on the French forces in northern Syria.

A Look Behind The Scenes Of The U.S. Military’s Cyber Defense

PBS News Hour: An exclusive look behind the scenes of the U.S. military’s cyber defense

At U.S. Cyber Command, cyber protection teams defend the Pentagon's networks from adversaries like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, and fight thousands of non-state actors like terrorist groups and professional hackers. Special correspondent Mike Cerre got exclusive access to a new generation of cyber warriors.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: You know this command is now very important when you have admirals and top generals running the show.

Tweets For Today

U.S. Army Leaders Are Calling For A Tougher And Longer Basic Training Program To Prepare Troops For Combat

FOX News: Army mulls tougher basic training for out-of-shape, undisciplined recruits

Citing a disturbing trend of new soldiers lacking both proper discipline and physical fitness, senior U.S. Army leaders are calling for a tougher and longer basic training program to prepare troops for combat over the next decade.

“We have every reason to get this right, and far fewer reasons not to,” Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said at the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium in Alabama on Monday. “That’s why we are considering several initiatives — from a new physical fitness regime to reforming and extending basic training — in order to ensure our young men and women are prepared for the rigors of high-intensity combat.”

While Esper didn’t divulge any details of what an extended Basic Combat Training (BCT) might look like, the Army has already floated the idea of adding two weeks to its 10-week program. A redesigned BCT is expected to be implemented by early summer.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Americans .... like like much of the developed world .... are not as physically able as they use to be. It only makes sense that today's training programs reflect this change.

Picture Of The Day

A Sukhoi Su-30SM Flanker-C fighter during the Aviadarts 2018 international competition in Krasnodar Territory. © Sputnik/ Vitaliy Timkiv

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... This Week in Pictures: March 24-30 (Sputnik)

Friday, March 30, 2018

President Trump Tells Advisers He Wants The U.S. Out Of Syria. Freezes Funds for Syrian Recovery

Wall Street Journal: Trump Freezes Funds for Syrian Recovery, Signaling Pullback

Order to State Department to hold off on spending jibes with president’s call for an early exit

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump froze more than $200 million in funds for recovery efforts in Syria as his administration reassesses Washington’s broader role in the protracted conflict there.

The White House ordered the State Department to put the spending on hold, U.S. officials said, a decision in line with Mr. Trump’s declaration on Thursday that America would exit Syria and “let the other people take care of it now.”

Mr. Trump called for the freeze after reading a news report noting that the U.S. had recently committed an additional $200 million to support early recovery efforts in Syria, said the officials. Departing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged the money in February in Kuwait at a meeting of the coalition to defeat Islamic State.

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More News On Reports That President Trump Has Told His Advisers That He Wants The U.S. Out Of Syria

Trump freezing Syria funds in signal of US pullback, report says -- FOX News
Trump Orders State Dept. to Suspend Funds for Syria Recovery -- NYT
Trump tells advisers he wants U.S. out of Syria: senior officials -- Reuters
Trump told advisers he wants US to withdraw from Syria soon: report -- The Hill

What Does ‘Denuclearization’ Mean To North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets Chung Eui-yong, head of the presidential National Security Office, in Pyongyang, North Korea, March 6, 2018. (The Presidential Blue House/Yonhap via REUTERS )

Uri Friedman, Defense One/The Atlantic: What Does ‘Denuclearization’ Mean to Kim Jong Un?

A close reading of what the Korean leader reportedly told Xi Jinping in Beijing.

One of the oddest things about the current flurry of diplomacy with North Korea is that it has played out like a game of telephone: South Korean officials dined with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang and then flew to Washington, D.C., bearing a message that Kim was willing to discuss “denuclearization,” which inspired Donald Trump to agree to an unprecedented summit this spring with the North Korean leader, which motivated the North Korean leader to hop on a train to Beijing this week, which prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to update Trump on how the visit went, which led the American president to tweet this morning that he’d heard the meeting “went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me.”

Through it all, North Korea itself has remained conspicuously silent, at least in public. Hopes for a resolution to the North Korean nuclear crisis have thus largely been pinned on a stream of whispers. As of this writing, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency features news of Kim’s trip to China and dialogue with South Korea, of the issuing of tea-themed postage stamps, and the invention of a fancy new “automatic meteorological observation device,” but no mention of any North Korean commitments to denuclearization.

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WNU Editor: We have been down this path before .... This isn't the first time Pyongyang has flirted with denuclearization (CNN). More here .... Kim family has made denuclearization vows in China before (Matthew Pennington, Military Times/AP).

China Sends A Message With A Massive Display Of Naval Power

© Planet Labs via Reuters

Kris Osborn, National Interest: China Just Challenged America in the Pacific With a Massive Naval "Live Fire" Show of Force

A U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group has arrived in the Pacific in a show of force as U.S.-China tensions rise, China conducts a massive military exercise and U.S. warships sail within 12 miles of territory claimed by China.

The arrival of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group in the region comes shortly after the USS Mustin, a U.S. Navy destroyer, sailed within 12 miles of a Chinese-claimed artificial island chain as part of ongoing U.S. Freedom of Navigation (FONOPs) exercises.

“The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group will conduct a variety of operations, including addressing shared maritime security concerns and building relationships with partners navies,” Lt. Liza Dougherty, Navy spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.

Although South China Sea territorial disputes have been lingering beneath the radar amid growing tensions with North Korea, U.S. military officials confirmed to Warrior Maven that the Freedom of Navigation exercise did take place - and that the issue of China’s “excessive maritime claims” has by no means gone away.

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WNU Editor: This was not only a message to the U.S. .... but to every country in Asia.

More News And Analysis On The Latest Chinese Naval Exercise

Satellite Photos Reveal Gigantic Chinese Fleet of More Than 40 Ships -- Popular Mechanics
China's aircraft carrier spotted in huge naval drill -- AFP
China offers show of naval force in South China Sea -- Financial Times
Beijing just flexed its navy in the South China Sea, but in a ridiculous way that the US could quickly smoke -- Business Insider
China says South China Sea drills routine, no word on carrier -- Reuters
US challenged by China's navy in South China Sea -- CNN
Photos Show Massive Chinese Naval Exercise in South China Sea -- The Diplomat
What's behind Beijing's South China Sea moves – and why US patrols are making things worse -- South China Morning Post
US-China War Possible over South China Sea Dispute? -- EurAsian Times
How Beijing is winning in the South China Sea -- Reuters

Tonight's Movie Is 'Jump Into Hell'

WNU Editor: 1955 Hollywood version of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Has The Canadian 'Love Affair' With Trudeau Coming To An End?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier pose for photographers during their visit to the holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple in Amritsar, India February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

SCMP/Washington Post: It looks like Canada’s love affair with Justin Trudeau is over, as Conservatives pull ahead in polls

Blame may lie with Trudeau’s disastrous tour of India, featuring a dinner invitation to a convicted terrorist and the Canadian PM in traditional Indian clothing.

After showing a steady lead in public opinion surveys for more than two years after his surprise October 2015 election victory, Trudeau appears to be politically vulnerable. And that is despite a buoyant economy, what’s seen as a steady hand in Nafta trade talks with President Trump, and a weak political opposition.

“All of a sudden, we saw this drop,” said David Coletto, chief executive of Abacus Data, an Ottawa polling firm, referring to his company’s latest poll, completed in early March. “It’s the first time since Trudeau became prime minister that we have results showing the Conservatives slightly ahead.”

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WNU Editor: I live in the Canadian province of Quebec, and this is one of Prime Minister Trudeau's poltical strongholds. He has always enjoyed favourable media coverage here .... particularly from the french media in this province .... and he has also been blessed with having no serious opposition in the province. But his India trip changed everything .... and it was surprising to see him ridiculed and laughed at on french media. Does this mean the end of PrimeM inister Trudeau .... definitely not. The Canadian general election is still a year and a half away .... and a lot can happen between now and then. But he no longer has the support that he use to have .... and this is being revealed in these polls. On a side note .... Prime Minister is head of the Federal Liberal Party, and while his re-election campaign is next year, his provincial counterparts in Ontario and Quebec are facing elections this year. My prediction. The Ontario Liberals are going to be wiped out when they go to the polls in the coming weeks, and the Quebec Liberal Party will (I predict) be defeated when they go to the polls this fall.

A New Interactive Map Simulates A Nuclear Blast In Your Neighbourhood

The new tool from the Outrider Foundation allows you to enter any location to simulate a nuclear blast. You can also select between a surface blast or airburst, and four different bombs: the 15KT ‘Little Boy,’ North Korea’s 150 KT Hwasong-14, the US’s 300KT W-87, and the 50,000 KT Tsar Bomba, the largest USSR bomb ever detonated. The example above shows New York

Daily Mail: Terrifying interactive map reveals what would happen if a nuclear bomb were dropped on YOUR hometown

* The interactive tool from Outrider Foundation shows the extent of fireball, radiation, shock wave, and heat
* It allows you to enter specific cities around the world, and choose between four different types of bombs
* Includes 15KT ‘Little Boy,’ North Korea’s 150 KT Hwasong-14, US’s 300KT W-87, and 50,000 KT Tsar Bomba

It’s a situation you’d hope to never experience – but, one that may have crossed your mind in light of recent world events.

What would happen if a nuclear weapon were detonated over your city?

While it might seem obvious that the initial blast would wipe out everything in its immediate path, just how far the effects could reach might surprise you.

A new interactive map reveals the terrifying scope of a nuclear blast for any given area, showing the extent of the fireball, radiation, shockwave, and heat spawned by different weapons, from the 15 KT ‘Little Boy’ dropped on Hiroshima to the USSR’s 50,000 KT Tsar Bomba.

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WNU Editor: The Outrider Foundation's website that simulates a nuclear blast is here ... Experience the power of a nuclear blast in your area ( My only criticism of this useful tool is that the map in the background is hard to distinguish.

Another site that simulates a nuclear blast is Nukemap. Nukemap's 'classical' version is here. It's new version is here.

France Offers To Mediate Turkey-Kurdish SDF Talks, Turkey Warns France Could Become A 'Target' For Backing The Kurds

BBC: Syria war: France offers to mediate between Turkey and Kurds

France has offered to mediate in the conflict in northern Syria, where Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish fighters in January.

Ankara is battling to drive out the Kurdish YPG militia, which it sees as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The French offer was swiftly dismissed by a Turkish presidential spokesman.

Ibrahim Kalin said countries should instead take a "clear stance against all types of terrorism".

Separately on Friday, Turkey said five soldiers were killed and seven wounded in an attack by the PKK in the south-eastern province of Siirt.

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WNU Editor: I guess this French offer for mediation is dead in the water.

More News On France's Offer To Mediate Turkey-Kurdish SDF Talks

French President Emmanuel Macron offers to mediate in Turkey-Kurdish SDF talks -- DW
France says not planning unilateral Syria operation -- AFP
France denies troop moves in Syria, as Turkey lashes out -- AP

Turkey's Response To France's Mediation Offer

Turkey says France could become 'target' for backing Syria Kurds -- Reuters
Syria war: Turkey's Erdogan rejects French mediation offer -- BBC
Turkey snubs French mediation offer with Kurdish militia -- AFP
Turkey: French terrorist mediation offer 'unacceptable' -- Anadolu Agency

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 30, 2018

Ian Bremmer, Time: Despite the Apparent Bromance, Trump Has Been Tough on Russia

We don’t yet know why Donald Trump seems so fond of Vladimir Putin. Maybe we never will. But the expulsion from the U.S. of 60 Russian diplomats and the shuttering of the Russian consulate in Seattle reminds us that the media obsession with the Trump-Putin bromance hides the reality that U.S. government policy remains as tough on Russia as it was under President Obama (and potentially would have been under Hillary Clinton).

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Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 30, 2018

America Must Drop Its Delusions about Dealing with Russia -- Nikolas K. Gvosdev, National Interest

The More the West Pressures Putin Over Spy Poisoning, the More Russia Believes Him -- Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast

Vladimir Putin -- Bloomberg Quicktake

Putin's Secret Plan—Divide And Conquer Europe -- Michel Eltchaninoff, Newsweek

Don't Expect Trump's New Hawks to Save the War in Syria -- Eli Lake, Bloomberg

North Korean military efforts can be traced far off home base -- Robert E. McCoy, Asia Times

How Beijing is winning in the South China Sea -- Peter Apps, Reuters

Fewer Checks, More Balancing: How Xi Jinping’s Consolidation of Power Changes the Risk of War -- Stephan Pikner, RCD

How the Taiwan Travel Act Could Start a U.S.-China War -- Paul Smith, National Interest

China Is Filling the Africa-Sized Gap in US Strategy -- Marcel Plichta, Defense One

The US, Europe are yet to fathom the Chinese challenge -- Arun K Singh, Hindustan Times

History tells us South Africa’s land expropriation debate has no easy solution -- Fred Morton, quartz

Here lies danger. Hungary is on the verge of full-blown autocracy -- George Szirtes, The Guardian

Mexico elections: Why are they important? -- Al Jazeera

Why Apple and Microsoft Are Healthier Than Facebook -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- March 30, 2018

CNN: Gaza protests: 15 Palestinians killed in confrontations with Israeli forces

At least 15 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,400 injured in confrontations with Israeli forces during protests at the Gaza border on Friday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The Health Ministry said 1,416 people were wounded as protesters marched toward a fence that separates Gaza from Israel on the first day of demonstrations scheduled to take place over six weeks. The dead included one 16-year-old, the ministry said.

In northern Gaza, CNN witnessed at least two dozen people being taken away by ambulances in the span of half an hour. Injuries varied from rubber bullets, tear gas and live rounds fired by the Israeli military. The majority were young men -- one woman was among the injured.

Read more ....


Deadly clashes in Gaza mark start of Palestinian campaign.

Israel declares ‘closed military zone’ around Gaza as Palestinians ‘killed’ in mass border protests.

Syria bomb kills 2 coalition troops from US and UK. Two members of US-led anti-ISIS coalition killed in Syria blast. British soldier killed by explosion in Syria.

Trump tells advisers he wants U.S. out of Syria: senior officials.

Syrian rebels deny Russian deal to leave Douma. Syrian rebels deny Russian deal to leave eastern Ghouta.

For evacuees from Ghouta 'hell', Syria's Idlib like 'heaven'.

French President Emmanuel Macron offers to mediate in Turkey-Kurdish SDF talks.

Turkey says France could become 'target' for backing Syria Kurds.

Trump: US coming out of Syria ‘very soon’.

Iranians use visa-free travel to Serbia to flee to EU.

Israel denies Easter travel permits to Gaza Christians.


China envoy tells Moon all sides must advance talks on Korean peninsula.

Report: Xi Jinping may visit North Korea for armistice anniversary.

South Korea, Japan to cooperate on North Korea despite friction.

Seoul flays Tokyo over disputed island claims in textbooks.

Afghanistan sets October date for much-delayed elections.

Thai junta vows to lift politics ban in June.

Russia, Taliban 'laughed' at US claims of Moscow arming fighters.

Myanmar president pledges to amend army-scripted constitution.

Malala tells Pakistani media she will return for good 'after education'.


IS claims car bomb attack in eastern Libya, 6 killed.

Somalia calls for UN action against UAE base in Berbera.

Gunmen kill one, wound others in central Mali hotel attack.

Egypt's Sisi wins second term with 96.9% of vote: state media.

South Sudan an unlikely haven for many Sudanese refugees.

DR Congo opposition party set to choose its champion.

Oil’s rise gives Nigeria some good news after its budget gets delayed ... again.

Deported Kenyan opposition figure says ‘marooned’ in Dubai.

Grace Mugabe's farm invaded by Zimbabwe gold diggers.


Russia expels scores of diplomats, including four Germans. Russia retaliates in spy case by expelling diplomats from 23 nations.

Kremlin: Trump did not speak about US readiness to win arms race in talk with Putin.

Russia pursuing multilateral North Korea talks in Moscow.

Czech Republic defies Russia, extradites 'hacker' to United States.

UN to host informal meeting of split Cyprus’ rival leaders.

Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj sacks top officials over extraditions to Turkey.

Thorny issues remain in Greece-Macedonia name dispute.

Azerbaijani exile shot, wife murdered in France: police.

Vatican scrambles after pope appears to deny existence of hell.


After being pent up for days, Trump lets ’er rip.

US, Mexico team up on new front in drug war.

Russian ambassador to Australia says US surveillance equipment gave Washington embassy staff cancer.

US visa seekers will have to disclose social media.

Dozens of Central American children rescued from sweltering truck in Mexico.

Venezuela fire: Relatives want answers after 68 die.

Diabetes cost America $327 BILLION last year as the rate of diagnoses rockets to record-high.

Florida jury acquits widow of Pulse nightclub shooter on all counts.

Arnold Schwarzenegger 'stable' after heart surgery.


2 notorious British IS members say fair trial is impossible.

Can foreign 'Islamic State' fighters' kids return to Europe?

A peek inside Houthi Rebel’s recent missile strikes in Saudi Arabia.


Coffee sold in California must carry cancer warning, judge rules.

Elon Musk's SpaceX gains formal approval for satellite broadband network.

Facebook 'ugly truth' growth memo haunts firm. Facebook 'ugly truth' memo triggers new firestorm over ethics.