US military leaves E. Syrian base at Zaqaf, Hizballah moves in

The US military folded its tents at Zaqaf, its last base in eastern Syrian Zaqaf base near the Iraqi border and Hizballah and other pro-Iranian militia moved in, without a pause. The changeover was accomplished Wednesday when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived home after a speech informing the UN General Assembly: ”Israel will defend itself with all its military strength and act to prevent Iran establishing itself in Syria… and establishing new bases along our northern border.” Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott in his New Year message elaborated on this pledge. Continue reading

Germany spied on the White House over years: report

The White House. Photo: DPA

Germany’s foreign intelligence service long spied on numerous official and business targets in the United States, including the White House, Spiegel weekly reported Thursday.

The magazine said it had seen documents showing that the intelligence service, the BND, had a list of some 4,000 so-called selector keywords for surveillance between 1998 and 2006.

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Iran boat beams laser at U.S. helicopter over Strait of Hormuz

CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopter. / U.S. Navy photo

 

An Iranian missile boat shined a laser at a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter flying over the Strait of Hormuz on June 13 in what the U.S. military called an “unsafe and unprofessional” action.

The Iranian vessel also turned its spotlight on two Navy ships that the helicopter was accompanying as they transited the strait, according to U.S. Navy Commander Bill Urban, a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman. Continue reading

Mattis Is Punting the Military Buildup to 2019

In accord with the president’s budget, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told committee members that the military buildup will start in fiscal year 2019. (Photo: Ken Cedeno/Zuma Press/Newscom)

 

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has news for Congress and for the nation: The military buildup will have to wait until next year.

Mattis delivered that message in a back-to-back series of appearances before Congress, one of them taking place in a rare prime-time hearing on Monday night. Continue reading

US Marines in Syria to defend Kurds against Turkey

The US has sent a group of US Marines armed with eight-wheeled Stryker armored carriers to northern Syria as a buffer between Syrian Kurds and Turkish forces, after Turkish air strikes killed 20 members of the US-backed Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia, injured 18 and destroyed the local Kurdish command headquarters. Clashes broke out between Turkish and Kurdish forces after the air strikes.

It was the second time American armored troops had stepped in to separate Turkish and the Kurdish YPG militia that leads the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), to which the Americans assign a major role in the offensive to capture Raqqa from ISIS. On March 17, US Marines advanced towards the northern Syrian town of Manbij when the Turkish army was on the point of fighting the Kurdish militia for control of the town. Continue reading

Japan scrambles jet fighters at record pace as Chinese military activity rises

FILE PHOTO: A Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-15 fighter scrambles at the Air Self Defense Force Naha base in Naha, Okinawa prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 13, 2015. Kyodo/via REUTERS

 

Japan worries that China’s probing of its air defences is part of a push to extend its military influence in the East China Sea and western Pacific, where Japan controls an island chain stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) south towards Taiwan.

“Recently we have seen Chinese military aircraft operating further south and that is bringing them closer to the main Okinawa island and other parts of the island chain,” Japan’s top military commander, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, told a briefing in Tokyo. Continue reading

Navy’s Depleted Aircraft Will Take Years to Rebuild After Obama-Era Defense Cuts

A U.S. Navy fighter jet takes off from the deck of the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier / AP

 

Nearly two-thirds of Navy strike fighters unable to fly

The Navy’s aircraft arsenal is so depleted it would take several years to rebuild the fleet even if the Trump administration allotted the funding needed to repair inoperable aircraft, according to a policy expert and former Air Force pilot.

John Venable, a senior research fellow for defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, cited a report released Monday that found two-thirds of the Navy’s strike fighter jets are unable to fly due to maintenance problems exacerbated by several years of military budget cuts. Continue reading

Ralph Peters: Iranian Leadership ‘Should Be Very Afraid’ of Mattis

 

Retired. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters appeared Monday on the Fox Business Network to discuss President-elect Donald Trump’s pick of Marine Gen. James Mattis (ret.) for secretary of defense and how he would respond to Iran threatening action against the United States if it extends sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Host Connell McShane asked Peters what he thought of the Iranians threatening the United States government with “strong action.” Continue reading

China Flight-Tests 10 DF-21 Missiles

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DF-21 salvo launch

Show of force comes amid transition to Trump

China’s military conducted a salvo of 10 missile flight tests late last month in a show of force during the transition to the Donald Trump administration.

Chinese state media reported Thursday that the simultaneous flight tests of 10 DF-21 intermediate-range ballistic missiles were carried out in China. Continue reading

World War 3 Update: US Deploys 6K Troops on Russia Border?

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US is set to deploy more than 6,000 soldiers along the NATO frontier in Eastern Europe in a bid to scare off Russia, reports say. US military officials say that the soldiers will help reassure European allies against a possible Russian invasion.

According to the Inquisitr, the US plans to establish its 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade in European countries, which include Latvia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany and Romania. The US military plans to ship UH-60 Blackhawk choppers, the M2 Bradley counter infantry vehicles, the M1 Abrams tanks and the M109 Paladin howitzers. Continue reading

Washington is Quietly Reinforcing Europe’s Northern Flank

Norwegian soldiers, U.S. Marines, Dutch and U.K. Royal Commandos do an integrated air insert during a training event for Exercise Cold Response 16, March 3, 2016, around the city of Namsos, Norway.

Norwegian soldiers, U.S. Marines, Dutch and U.K. Royal Commandos do an integrated air insert during a training event for Exercise Cold Response 16, March 3, 2016, around the city of Namsos, Norway. (U.S. Marine Corps / Master Sgt. Chad McMeen)

 

 

Much is being done to counter Russian ambitions in the High North, and yet much more remains to be done.

The recent stream of senior U.S. defense officials to Nordic countries underlines American concerns about potential friction in northern Europe, and Washington’s efforts to boost defense and deterrence there. Defense Secretary Ash Carter stopped in Norway in early September, while his deputy Bob Work, who has been to the region three times over the last two years, paid an early-October visit to Finland’s capital, Helsinki. Shortly thereafter, Air Force Secretary Deborah James made her own trip across the region. (Go back to last year, and Senate Armed Services Committee chair John McCain was in Norway and Sweden to discuss regional security.)

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Did the White House Declare War on Russia?

(ANTIMEDIA) This past week, America’s oldest continuously published weekly magazine, the Nation, asked the question: has the White House declared war on Russia?

As the two nuclear powers sabre-rattle over conflicts within Syria, and to some extent, over the Ukrainian crisis, asking these questions to determine who will pull the trigger first has become more paramount than it was at the peak of the Cold War.

The Nation’s contributing editor, Stephen F. Cohen, reported Vice President Joe Biden’s statement that the White House was preparing to send Vladimir Putin a “message” — most likely in the form of a cyber attack — amounted to a virtual “American declaration of war on Russia” in Russia’s eyes. Biden’s threat is reportedly in response to allegations that Russia hacked Democratic Party offices in order to disrupt the presidential election. Continue reading

F-35 May Never Be Ready for Combat

The F-35’s cannon door causes the plane to pull to one side, reducing the accuracy of the gun. (Photo by http://www.jsf.mil)

 

Testing Report Contradicts Air Force Leadership’s Rosy Pronouncements

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive procurement program in Pentagon history. It’s been plagued by schedule delays, gross cost overruns, and a slew of underwhelming performance reviews. Last month the Air Force declared its variant “ready for combat,” and most press reports lauded this as a signal that the program had turned a corner. But a memo issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official, based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data, showed that the Air Force’s declaration was wildly premature.

Dr. Michael Gilmore’s latest memorandum is damning. The F-35 program has derailed to the point where it “is actually not on a path toward success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion.” The 16-page memo, first reported by Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg and then by others, details just how troubled this program is: years behind schedule and failing to deliver even the most basic capabilities taxpayers, and the men and women who will entrust their lives to it, have been told to expect.

The Pentagon’s top testing office warns that the F-35 is in no way ready for combat since it is “not effective and not suitable across the required mission areas and against currently fielded threats.” (Emphasis added) As it stands now, the F-35 would need to run away from combat and have other planes come to its rescue, since it “will need support to locate and avoid modern threats, acquire targets, and engage formations of enemy fighter aircraft due to outstanding performance deficiencies and limited weapons carriage available (i.e., two bombs and two air-to-air missiles).” In several instances, the memo rated the F-35A less capable than the aircraft we already have. Continue reading

Service Chiefs: Troops Will Head for Exits if Budget Cuts Persist

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Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, testify on Capitol Hill, Sept. 15, 2016. (AP/Susan Walsh)

 

Caps on defense spending limit training, force service members to use old gear and may lead to an exodus of troops from the armed services, the four service chiefs told lawmakers Thursday.

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps warned that a return of sequestration budget caps would promote fiscal uncertainty and take a deep toll on rank-and-file morale.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 put a temporary stay on a half-trillion dollar tranche of defense budget cuts, but the armed services must plan around the reductions for five more years if Congress does not again act to avert them. Continue reading

US Air Force Grounds F-35s It Just Declared Ready for War

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A U.S. Air Force pilot conducts preflight checks inside an F-35A Lightning II before a training mission April 4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 4, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by senior airman Brett Clashman)

 

 

On Aug. 2, the Air Force said 10 F-35s at Hill Air Force Base in Utah were ready for war. Forty-four days later, those planes have been grounded in the latest embarrassing setback for the most expensive project in Pentagon history.

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