Category Archives: Military

Ukrainian Plane Probable Downed by Iranian Missle

Given the timing, I doubt was intentional, but I bet Iran had a hand in it.

Evidence suggests an Iranian missile brought down a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed near Tehran, possibly in error, Western leaders say.

The leaders of Canada and the UK called for a full and thorough investigation into the crash, which killed all 176 people on board.

Iran has ruled out a missile strike by its air defences.

The crash came just hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.

Looking East

The news out of Iraq is disturbing, if not unexpected. Pray for the safety of our people and our allies.

Also, be very cautious about reacting to the news of the moment. We will know more tomorrow and even more next week. This could be a relatively empty show of force by Iran’s leaders for the benefit of domestic concerns. It could be the beginning of a full-scale attack (unlikely). It could be a hasty reaction with no clear strategic direction. It could be a lot of things. Time will tell. Right now, prayers and sober, thoughtful consideration is the order of the day.

U.S. Hits Back

Boom.

Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, has been killed in an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport, Iraqi TV and three Iraqi officials officials said Friday.

The officials said the strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which were responsible for the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

An official with the PMF blamed the U.S. military for the strike. ‘The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani,’ said Ahmed al-Assadi, a PMF spokesman.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that strikes had been carried out against two targets linked to Iran in Baghdad on Thursday but declined to give any further details.

American officials have made no public comments on the strike yet. The Pentagon and the White House did not immediately respond to inquiries from DailyMail.com. Soon after news of the strike spread, President Donald Trump tweeted an image of an American flag, offering no remarks or explanation.

The audacious airport strike is a potential turning point in the Middle East as U.S.-Iran relations teeter on the brink, and is expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and and its Shiite allies against Israel and American interests.

Experts say that the killing of Soleimani will be viewed by Iran as a massive military provocation. ‘The pressure to retaliate will be immense,’ tweeted Middle East scholar and John Hopkins professor Vali Nasr.

‘Soleimani had cult hero status within IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and among Shia militias in the region, and was personally the most popular regime figure in Iran,’ said Nasr.

Confirmed.

The Pentagon confirmed he was killed “at the direction of the president”.

It comes after reports of a strike at Baghdad’s international airport, which is said to have killed a number of people.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards also confirmed Gen Soleimani was dead, blaming an attack by US helicopters.

Iran has been escalating the pressure for a couple of years. This time, they pushed too hard by attacking American people on American soil… and we pushed back.

U.S. Beefs up Embassy Security After Attack

Things in the Middle East are not always as they seem and I am not convinced that we know the whole story here. It is exceedingly strange for Iranian militants to operate in Iraq as the Iraqis look on, but that appears to be what happened. Why? Who is really behind it? What was the purpose? What reaction are they trying to get out of the U.S.? In any case, beefing up security to make it clear that we will defend our people is a prudent course of action.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Charging that Iran was “fully responsible” for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, President Donald Trump ordered about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East as about 3,000 more prepared for possible deployment in the next several days.

No U.S. casualties or evacuations were reported after the attack Tuesday by dozens of Iran-supported militiamen. U.S. Marines were sent from Kuwait to reinforce the compound.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday night that “in response to recent events” in Iraq, and at Trump’s direction, he authorized the immediate deployment of the infantry battalion from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He did not specify the soldiers’ destination, but a U.S. official familiar with the decision said they will go to Kuwait.

“This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today,” Esper said in a written statement.

Additional soldiers from the 82nd Airborne’s quick-deployment brigade, known officially as its Immediate Response Force, were prepared to deploy, Esper said. The U.S. official, who provided unreleased details on condition of anonymity, said the full brigade of about 4,000 soldiers may deploy.

Another observation.

Tuesday’s crowds, which included militia leaders and Shiite politicians, did not breach the embassy compound itself, but they did make it past an outer wall, charging up to the embassy security gates, staring U.S. security personnel in the face and smashing and torching property outside.

How was that possible?

“Because it was planned,” said Ganyard. “Look at the overhead views of the protest. Carefully abiding by set limits. … It was staged and had the approval of the Iraqi government.”

“The Iraqi government was never going to let Iranian proxies take over the U.S. embassy,” he added. But they had to let them get far enough to let off steam and to dissipate some of the anger in those ranks.

Iran, however, doesn’t want things to go so far that the U.S. has a reason to strike its personnel.

Michigan Makes Bid for F-35s if Wisconsin Doesn’t Want Them

Good for them. The military should put their resources in communities that welcome them.

A bipartisan majority of Michigan’s congressional delegation members have signed a letter to Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, urging her to select Selfridge Air National Guard Base as one of the locations to host the Air National Guard’s next F-35A operational bases after the completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

In December 2017, the Harrison Township base lost a bid to be one of two preferred alternative locations for the F-35s.

Bases in Alabama and Wisconsin were selected instead of Selfridge, which was among five National Guard bases across the country competing to be one of the two homes to the new fighter aircraft. The aircraft are to go to the new bases beginning in 2023.

But there has been concern in Madison, Wisconsin, from officials and residents about the F-35s going to Truax Field Air National Guard Base, which is about 6 miles northeast of the city.

“We understand that last month, the City of Madison submitted a letter with 22 pages of public comments, tasking the Air Force with 25 questions to be resolved in the Final EIS, and requesting that if those questions are not satisfactorily answered, you, as Secretary of the Air Force, reconsider listing Truax Field as a preferred location,” according to the Michigan delegation’s letter dated Monday. “In addition to numerous complaints about the F-35 mission from individual Madison residents, the Madison Common Council also passed a resolution raising the community’s substantial concerns with basing the F-35A mission at Truax Field.”

It continued: “Macomb County, Michigan’s residents and elected officials welcome a potential F-35 mission and have consistently offered community support to Selfridge and its tenants. Selfridge offers the capabilities and facilities ideally suited to sustain F-35 operations.”

al-Baghdadi Dead

This is a man who perpetrated a terrorist regime and a genocide of non-Islamists. Thanks to our Special Forces for getting this job done.

The fugitive leader of the Islamic State (IS) group has been killed in a US military operation in northwest Syria, President Donald Trump has said.

Speaking from the White House, Mr Trump said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest after being caught at the end of a tunnel by special forces.

Baghdadi came to prominence in 2014, when he announced the creation of a “caliphate” in areas of Iraq and Syria.

10% Responsible for Genocide

What a fascinating case.

The Dutch supreme court has upheld a ruling that the Netherlands was partially responsible for 350 deaths in Bosnia’s Srebrenica massacre.

The court said the state had 10% liability, as this was the probability that its soldiers could have prevented the killings.

Bosnian Serb forces killed a total of 8,000 Muslim men in the town of Srebrenica in 1995.

The Dutch had been guarding a UN safe zone when it was overrun.

It is rare for a state to be held responsible for failures in UN peacekeeping work, but the court emphasised that the Netherlands bore “very limited liability”.

[…]

The court ruled that if Dutch forces had given 350 men hiding in the UN compound the chance to stay, there was just a 10% chance they would not have fallen into the hands of the Serbs, and so the Dutch state should be liable for only that proportion of the damages suffered by the bereaved.

The ruling did not give details on how it calculated the 10% chance of survival.

The final verdict draws a line under years of legal battles between the Dutch state and the plaintiffs – a group of victims’ relatives known as the Mothers of Srebrenica.

The case was escalated to the highest court because the state wanted to be cleared of responsibility, while the Mothers of Srebrenica wanted it to be held accountable for all 8,000 deaths in the genocide.

An appeals court had previously set the liability at 30%, but the supreme court’s ruling has drastically reduced that figure.

This is the Dutch court system ruling that their own people were partially responsible for failing in a UN peacekeeping mission that resulted in a genocide. While noble, war is incredibly ugly and I question the rationale of lawyers assigning percentages of blame decades after it happened – particularly for a NOT doing something. These soldiers didn’t commit a war crime. They merely failed to act to prevent one when they might have been able to.

Storm Area 51

It’s all fun and games until the military turns you into a fine red mist. They ain’t the docile Berkeley police.

As of Wednesday morning, over 1.5 million people said they were “attending” the event, called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” The event is scheduled for Sept. 20 at 3 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Another 1.1 million Facebook users indicated they were “interested.”

“We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” according to the Facebook page. “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets [sic] see them aliens.”

Admiral to Retire After Being Confirmed or Top Job

Rough times at the Pentagon.

The four-star admiral set to become the Navy’s top officer on Aug. 1 will instead retire, an extraordinary downfall prompted by what Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday called poor judgment regarding a professional relationship.

The sudden move by Adm. William Moran may add to the perception of turmoil in the Pentagon’s senior ranks, coming less than a month after Pat Shanahan abruptly withdrew from consideration to be defense secretary after serving as the acting secretary for six months.

The high price of liberty

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here you go:

In a bit of serendipitous timing, I found myself in the nation’s capital last week. With Memorial Day looming, I took the time to spend several hours in Arlington National Cemetery, reflecting on the terrible price that liberty collects from each generation of Americans.

There are over 400,000 men and women buried in Arlington. To walk among the dead is to walk through our nation’s history of bloody sacrifice for the cause of liberty. After paying my respects to two family members near the McClellan Gate, I walked through every section. The dignity and respect of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier set an example that we should all follow when honoring our heroes.

While some parts of the cemetery were loud with swarms of schoolchildren on their year-end field trips, some areas were peaceful, as one would imagine eternity to be. The silent Argonne Cross standing watch over our fallen heroes of World War I; the crypt at the top of the hill where 2,111 unknown Union soldiers gathered after the Civil War in northern Virginia; the silence of the stones for those killed battling communism in Vietnam was only disturbed by the whir of the electric wheelchair of one of their brothers still watching over his comrades.

Two thoughts imprinted themselves on my mind as I left the cemetery that day. First, we all have a responsibility to honor their sacrifice by protecting our liberties and fulfilling the responsibilities that go with those liberties. Exercising our liberties responsibly is not only respectful of the sacrifices made to protect them, it is a sure way to protect them from oppressive impulses to restrict them in the name of civil order.

We have a right to speak freely, but we have a responsibility to do so with respect for one another. We must not use our voices to lie, slander, or disparage. Instead, we must use our voices to educate, advocate, and debate.

We have a right to keep and bear arms, but we have a responsibility to do so safely. To own and carry the means to end someone’s life carries with it the responsibility to maintain the weapons, learn how to use them, store and handle them safely.

We have a right to vote, but we have a responsibility to know what we are voting for. We must educate ourselves on the issues and cast a vote for a candidate in accordance with our conscience. A vote cast in ignorance is not an act of self-governance. It is an act of disrespect to those who died to guarantee our right to vote.

When we exercise our rights in a responsible manner, we rob tyrants of excuses to infringe on our rights.

The second thought that lingered was that death humbles all. Under that grass and marble, great commanders who led legions into war lie yards away from the simplest private who never made it through his first battle. All of them are part of the same dirt now. Arlington reminds me of a missive penned by Stephen F. Austin that life is just a “speck between two eternities.”

While we all took some time on Memorial Day to reflect on the ultimate price paid made by so many American heroes for our liberty, it is what we do on the other 364 days of the year that truly honors their sacrifice. Make those days worth their sacrifice.

Some Gave All

U.S. Fights Terrorism in Africa

May God keep our special forces safe and effective in their efforts.

Juniper Shield and Obsidian Nomad II were not isolated efforts but part of a panoply of named military operations and activities U.S. forces have been conducting from dozens of bases across the northern tier of Africa. Many of these operations are taking place in countries that the U.S. government does not recognize as combat zones, but in which U.S. troops are nonetheless fighting and, in several cases, taking casualties.

Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. special operations forces saw combat in at least 13 African countries, according to retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who served at U.S. Africa Command from 2013 to 2015 and then headed Special Operations Command Africa until 2017. Those countries, according to Bolduc, are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia. He added that U.S. troops have been killed or wounded in action in at least six of them: Kenya, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Tunisia.

Yahoo News has put together a list of three dozen such operations across the continent.

The code-named operations cover a variety of different military missions, ranging from psychological operations to counterterrorism. Eight of the named activities, including Obsidian Nomad, are so-called 127e programs, named for the budgetary authority that allows U.S. special operations forces to use certain host-nation military units as surrogates in counterterrorism missions.

Used extensively across Africa, 127e programs can be run either by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the secretive organization that controls the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, the Army’s Delta Force and other special mission units, or by “theater special operations forces.” These programs are “specifically designed for us to work with our host nation partners to develop small — anywhere between 80 and 120 personnel — counterterrorism forces that we’re partnered with,” said Bolduc. “They are specially selected partner-nation forces that go through extensive training, with the same equipment we have, to specifically go after counterterrorism targets, especially high-value targets.”

Using documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, interviews, published reports and a Defense Department list of named U.S. military operations that leaked online, Yahoo News put together the following list of 36 operations and activities that are (or were until recently) ongoing in Africa.

Where possible, Yahoo News has also listed the bases that support these operations, relying mostly on information sheets about those locations obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Yahoo News does not claim that this list is comprehensive.

While the Defense Department has acknowledged the names, locations and purposes of some of these operations, others are far lower-profile. Almost all are unknown to the general public:

Federal Judge Rules Male-Only Draft is Unconstitutional

This was only a matter of time. The draft is more of an academic exercise for everyone born in the last 30 years or so, but including women just makes sense at this point.

A federal judge in Texas has declared that an all-male military draft is unconstitutional, ruling that “the time has passed” for a debate on whether women belong in the military.

The decision deals the biggest legal blow to the Selective Service System since the Supreme Court upheld the draft registration process in 1981. In Rostker v. Goldberg, the court ruled that a male-only draft was “fully justified” because women were ineligible for combat roles.

But U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled late Friday that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight. In 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in military service.

The case was brought by the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights group, and two men who argued an all-male draft was unfair.

Men who fail to register with the Selective Service System at their 18th birthday can be denied public benefits such as federal employment and student loans. Women cannot register for Selective Service.

Trump Open to Use of Military in Venezuela

While I support and pray for the opposition in Venezuela to succeed in casting off the yoke of oppression, I oppose direct military intervention by the U.S. Supplies, logistical support, aid… yes. Military on the ground… no.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump said that the use of US military force in Venezuela is still on the table amid its ongoing political crisis and that he turned down a meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro several months ago.

The President’s comments came in an interview taped Friday with CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” in which he also declined to say what would cause him to use the military in Venezuela, noting only that “it’s an option” for his administration.
When Brennan asked Trump what would make him use military force in the country and what the national security interest for such action would be, he said, “Well, I don’t want to say that, but certainly it’s something that on the — it’s an option,” according to the transcript of the interview.

Cole Attacker Killed

Justice

President Donald Trump confirmed that a U.S. military strike in Yemen last week killed Jamal al-Badawi, an al-Qaeda operative believed to be involved in the deadly 2000 attack on the USS Cole.

US Strategic Command Tweets About Readiness

Oh, fer cripes’ sake. Settle down, Nancy. We WANT our military to be combat ready. Thanks for keeping us safe, Strategic Command!

An official Twitter account run by the United States military posted and then deleted a video on Monday bragging about dropping massive bombs.

The tweet, which was posted as Americans get ready to ring in the New Year, noted that the ball was set to drop in Times Square when the clock strikes midnight late Monday.

The tweet by U.S. Strategic Command then goes on to brag: ‘If ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger.’

An official Twitter account run by the United States military posted and then deleted a video on Monday bragging about dropping massive bombs
[…]

Users on Twitter were angry for what they said was the military’s making light of the use of such a destructive weapon during a festive time.

Tim Miller wrote: ‘If you missed it since the tweet is now deleted, US Strategic command decided to tweet about war and death on NY eve with a ww3 masturbatory fantasy video.’

Robert Boyle thought it was inappropriate for the military to be tweeting ‘jokes about starting nuclear Armageddon on New Year’s Eve.’

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘Such an irresponsible tweet. Tweeting about a nuclear bomb drop.’

Russia Warns of New Arms Race

Let’s be clear… the only reason it isn’t a race now is because America hasn’t been racing. That hasn’t stopped Russia from running down the track. Russia is now upset because America is lacing up our cleats.

Russia says it will be forced to ‘respond in kind’ if America pulls out of a key nuclear weapons treaty and begins developing new missiles.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke out after Donald Trump threatened to quit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty on Saturday, accusing Russia of violating it.

If the US and Russia make good on their threats, it would mark the first nuclear arms race between world superpowers since the end of the Cold War.

Peskov’s comments came as National Security Adviser John Bolton met with Russian security chiefs in Moscow on Monday, ahead of talks with Putin on Tuesday.

Recruitment Issues

Here’s a stunning, if not surprising, bit of data in the Washington County Daily News:

According to a news release, 71 percent of the nation’s youth are ineligible for military service. The most common reasons for exclusion are obesity, drug use, low aptitude and physical and/or mental health issues. Muth said obesity is the “largest disqualifier” at about 31 percent.

On the other hand, I would question the need for physical fitness for many jobs. In an era where many military jobs – even combat roles -involve sitting at a computer, who cares how many sit-ups the person can do? Cyberwarfare is probably fought best by the Cheetos-eating basement-dwellers.

Trump Moves to Cancel $300 Million to Pakistan

Good.

The US military says it is cancelling $300m (£230m) in aid to Pakistan over what it calls Islamabad’s failure to take action against militant groups.

President Donald Trump has previously accused Pakistan of deceiving the US while receiving billions of dollars.

Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Koné Faulkner said the US military would aim to spend the money on other “urgent priorities”.

The move, which needs to be approved by the US Congress, is part of a broader suspension announced in January.

The US state department has criticised Pakistan, a key ally, for failing to deal with terrorist networks operating on its soil, including the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups,” Col Faulkner said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the $300m aid – which had earlier been suspended – should be used elsewhere due to “a lack of Pakistani decisive actions” in tackling the issue.

Foreign aid is a foreign policy tool like any other. It is to be used as leverage to advance America’s interests. If it’s not working, then look for another place to place the fulcrum.

Cannon Returned to Alamo

Gig ’em.

Texas A&M University’s Alamo cannon conservation project came to a historic conclusion Wednesday as the last of seven battle-used cannons were returned to the Alamo in a changing of the guard ceremony between living historians and members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets.

During the “Texas A&M and The Alamo Present: A Salute to Alamo Cannon Conservation” event at the Texas A&M System’s RELLIS Campus, Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp thanked Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) Director Donny Hamilton and Research Associate Jim Jobling and the students who worked on the project for their year of conservation work. He also recognized members of the Corps of Cadets on who participated in the changing of the guard ceremony.

“I’m also proud to be part of a place that has the men and women in the Corps of Cadets, who have the same attitude that the people in the Alamo had, and that is life is not worth living without liberty,” Sharp said.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose General Land Office manages the Alamo, called the event an “important milestone in preserving Texas history” and commended Texas A&M and the CRL for undertaking the conservation effort.

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