Wednesday, March 1, 2017

TheList 4399

The List 4399

To All,
A bit of history and some tidbits.

This day in Naval History February 29
1944 - PB4Y-1s from squadrons VB-108, VB-109, and VD-3, conduct a low-level bombing raid on Japanese positions on Wake Island.
1968 - Four North Vietnamese trawlers attempting to simultaneously infiltrate supplies into South Vietnam were detected. Three of the trawlers were sunk in battle on the following day and one survived by turning back.
Monday Morning Humor from Al
February 29th—the day where 'this time last year' and 'this time next year' do not apply.
Leap Day is like the Olympics, it happens every four years and nobody notices until it's over.
Leap Day is like a Kobe Bryant pass, it only occurs once every four years.
Lousy leap year—it makes you wait one more day for payday.
The government says I can't get my pension yet, as I am only 17½ .  I hate being born on a leap year.  All my friends are 70.
Shout out to all the people born on February 29th in 1928 celebrating their 21st birthday!
May the fact that your birthday comes once every four years be a passing excuse for your infantile behavior.
On the positive side, you are fortunate in that you only have to put up with incessant Facebook wishes every four years.
Smart men get married on 29th of February—they will only have to celebrate their anniversary every four years.
Fun facts:
There have been 499 leap years since Caesar created it in 45 BC.  Without the extra day every four years today would be July 12, 2017.
Leap days don't occur on century years unless they are divided by 400 (e,g, 400, 800…1600, 2000)
The chances of a leap birthday are one in 1,461 -- long odds for getting the short end of the stick. Imagine waiting four years for your real birthday and hearing endless jokes about being three when you're really 12.
The longest time between two leap years is eight years. The last time this happened was between 1896 and 1904 and it won't happen again until 2096 to 2104.
People born on leap year's day are called leaplings.
Besides Leap Day, February 29th is also called Femandnesday.
Groaner Alert…
What year do frogs like best?  Leap year.
Finally, I can't believe it's been only four years since I told the same leap year jokes.
This Day In Naval History - March 1
1942 - U-656 becomes the first German submarine of World War II to be sunk by Naval air (VP-82).
1954 - 1st of 6 detonations, Operation Castle nuclear test.
1991: Following USS Missouri's (BB 63) bombardment of Faylaka Island during Operation Desert Storm, hundreds of Iraqi soldiers wave white flags and surrender to the battleships Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) flying overhead.
·         March 1
York, Maine becomes the first incorporated American city.
Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne and Tituba are arrested for the supposed practice of witchcraft in Salem, Mass.
French minister Charles Gravier advises his Spanish counterpart to support the American rebels against the English.
Pennsylvania becomes the first U.S. state to abolish slavery.
Ohio becomes the 17th state to join the Union.
In France, Napoleon creates an imperial nobility.
Napoleon lands at Cannes, France, returning from exile on Elba, with a force of 1,500 men and marches on Paris.
German troops enter Paris, France, during the Franco-Prussian War.
Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, which is invalidated by the Supreme Court in 1883.
Albert Berry completes the first in-flight parachute jump, from a Benoist plane over Kinlock Field in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Allies announce their aim to cut off all German supplies and assure the safety of the neutrals.
The Korean coalition proclaims their independence from Japan.
The Allies reject a $7.5 billion reparations offer in London. German delegation decides to quit all talks.
The Lindbergh baby is kidnapped from the Lindbergh home near Princeton, New Jersey.
Germany officially establishes the Luftwaffe.
Bulgaria joins the Axis as the Nazis occupy Sofia.
Japanese troops land on Java in the Pacific.
The British RAF conducts strategic bombing raids on all European railway lines.
1,000 Black students pray and sing the national anthem on the steps of the old Confederate Capitol in Montgomery, Ala.
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara is replaced by Clark Clifford.
Mickey Mantle announces his retirement from baseball.
A grand jury indicts seven of President Nixon's aides for the conspiracy on Watergate.
The Pentagon accepts the theory that an atomic war would block the sun, causing a "nuclear winter."
Bosnian Serbs begin sniping in Sarajevo, after Croats and Muslims vote for Bosnian independence.
Tom Weeks : Fighter Ace M. F. ' Kirby ' :  Five [ 5 ] Days After Pearl Harbor . .  We Got Our Fighter Pilot Wings . . And Headed For The Pacific —
    As the P-40s' rubber was still retracting into wheel wells . . the visiting Aussies' began shooting at the surrounding Japanese.  The pilots
held back their .50 calibers' triggers [ as the enemy returned fire . . point blank into the fighters from the edge of the airstrip] . . as they
were themselves being destroyed by newly airborne P-40's . . firing intermittently . . while weaving slightly above aircraft coming off the runway.
We had just moved to near Milne Bay, East New Guinea . . in early November 1942 . .
And because we were getting new airplanes . . Daly, Griffin, Helveston and myself were on R & R in northern Australia.

Our new campsite was in the largest coconut grove in the world, owned by Lever Brothers who needed it to make Palmolive soap.
    Our combat air strip was slashed flat out of a Lever Brothers' coconut grove with machetes and bull dozers. The Japs invaded a beach a short distance down the bay and worked their way toward  our strip. 
    Australian fighter pilots were a powerful force in turning back waves of Japanese troops. The Aussies quickly flew up in the their P-40's . . quickly took on fuel and ammo . . then pounced on the enemy.

    A few days later, bulldozers covered over hundreds of enemy bodies in the surrounding mud.  For each body the bull-dozers covered up, it seemed another one would ' pop ' to the surface.  The stench of the enemy's mortifying dead was horrible. The runways were [ PSP ] pierced steel planking with thousands of two inch holes lacing the interacting steel plates. 

When the Aussies'  P-40's landed, the jungle strip's  underlying mud would ' squirt up ' through thousands of holes to completely encrust the bottoms of their War Hawks. 

At the end of our runway was a protective anti-personal mine field.  And the whole mine field was . .
L-I-V-E  !
    So once any of us began a take off roll—after passing a certain number of feet down the runway—it was Katy Bar the Gate—for all of us would do anything to keep from
sliding into the explosive mines.
Either take off—or you and your Lightning would invade the mine field.  
    Coon Dog Conner was our CO at the time. He said our Atabrine tablets would guard against malaria. His words did not carry too much weight, so merrily we went our way with
the inevitable jungle disease coming around the corner. 
    Our recently constructed air base did not have search lights for its defense. So almost every night, Tokyo Joe would come over and circle around in the dark. Then circle again.  Each time, we were forced to run over, drop into a slimy slit trench,and hunker down to become bait for many thousands of malaria-laden mosquitos.
    Two or three nights a week, back in Australia, at Port Moresby, we had those night raids. But with the searchlights on them, with our drinks still in our hands, we could saunter outside the O'Club and just watch the show. There was nothing to worry about . . unless the Japanese bombers would hang a turn . . to head right into
But in this case, at our other airstrip at Milne Bay . . the Jap bombers throbbing engines' propellers . . always . . pointed at our pink bodies.
   It was not long before the malaria caught up with us. AndNWe were soon operating at 30% of personnel strength. And the remaining 70% of us—DID NOT
—FEEL . . too good.
On the 7 February 1943 we got the word that we were using the Goonie Bird . . South to Mareeba to pick up our new Lockheed P-38s.
Half of us went on leave, while the others stayed behind to check out in the new P-38s . . now being ferried in one or two at a time.
    We were all Second Johns . . We had been overseas since graduation [12 Dec 1941.] Our former Classmates who stayed in the States for a handful more weeks, would come over as Captains and Majors.  Here we were with our brown bars. There were vague rumors . . we might get promoted. 

Maybe there would be a chance for a miracle !

But while I was down in Australia on R & R, I decided that a promotion might be in order for us. 

    And I considered it a once in a lifetime opportunity—so I went over to the base  PX and I stocked up on every officer rank emblem in the PX's inventory.
I bought First Lt bars . . Captain tracks . . Major Leaf . . Lt. Col Leaf, ' Bull Colonel ' Eagle . . and a General's Star.
    There were three of us . . Ray Daly . . Noel Lundy and myself. We rode the train up to Mareeba [ the end of the train line ] got off and phoned the base for 

When our ten wheeler arrived, I handed Lundy the Lt Col Leaves, Daly became a full Colonel.

And I was Brigadier General for a day.

    We drove up to the sentry on the gate [this was the first gate sentry we had ever seen while overseas.] He came ' half-assin ' up to the truck and suddenly saw the
Lt Col in the front seat, he came to attention nearly knocking himself out with an attempted rifle salute.

    The he looked in the back of the truck and here was a Bull Kernal and a General Officer. He almost messed his uniform up. He could not get us through the gate soon enough.

    After we had traveled just a few yards, he was on the telephone—warning ahead about the rankest invasion. As soon as we hit camp, I walked by a tree and picked up a straight dead limb, every General has to have a swagger stick, and found out that our buddy, Johnny Roberts, was having a meeting with green  new pilots who had just gotten off a troop boat from the States. 

I went blustering in. Danny's eyes enlarged to saucer proportions.

    I gave them all "at ease", and started my little speech :  " I guess the first thing you notice is my youth. Well, it is hell up there [we had not seen an enemy for weeks ] and those of you that survive will also quickly climb the rank ladder, as I have.

ASSUMING that . . you . . survive ! "

I had one or two other smart remarks, then turned the meeting back over to Danny.

" What if you had gotten caught ? "
They would have sent me back to that nasty island—where they were going to send us back, in any case.
    A few days later, I came down with a spell of malaria, and I was taken off of flying status.  So I did not check out in the P-38 until we returned to Port Moresby.

My check-out was not routine.

    Check out pilot Cragg, met us at 7 mile air strip—a very long runway—one our heavy bombers used.  Runt Rundell and I drove over in a jeep. We crawled
up on a P-38 Lightning's wing, and Cragg showed us where the instruments were and their normal operating ranges.

So we crawled up in there, started up, taxiied out and took-off. 

    Each of us made a circle of the field in our new P-38s, when Runt developed engine trouble. Runt had been flying my wing when he had the problem.  And it jarred
my thinking . . that . . maybe I needed to check my own airplane.

 And sure enough . . some guage . . near my right flight boot . . was reading double what it should. So we both aborted.

    That was the only time I aborted during the many hours I flew the P-38.  And I never did find out what that instrument was, down there near my boot.
So in the future I simply ignored where it.  I figured if it was so damn important, ' they ' would have stuck it in a more obvious location.

    Just thought of something else. When maintenance would install a new engine or complete a major engine overhaul, the ship would have to be ' slow-

    One of the main duties of the pilot, while slow-timing an engine, was to be on the look-out for the herd of cattle running wild in the coconut plantation.
As soon as he spotted them, he would land and shout the cattles' position to ' Roughhouse ' . . who'd jump into an armament truck and try to locate them
out there . . ' hiding among the coconuts.'

    Pretty soon you would hear a carbine ' ring.'  And that night we would have fresh meat for supper. They were raunchy . . especially by our standards in
West Texas. 

But they beat the heck outta eating Spam.
M. F. Kirby

Several years ago, 90 year old M.F. Kirby demonstrated remarkable recall of odd ball experiences shaping his military career as a Fighter Pilot Ace.

To keep his stories from vanishing, a book, titled simply '  Kirby '  contains a collection of narratives shared by Kirby from his combat experiences as a combat fighter pilot.
     Edited by Larry Simpson, the book covers a several year period when Kirby posted stories to an online aviation group,' get togethers ' and e-mails exchanged with other Aces
and fighter pilot friends . . [ Tom Weeks : he didn't take-over conversations .  . because he was genuinely interested in listening to the unusual flying experiences of other pilots.]
     He said his interest in flying airplanes was piqued as a little kid when a Ford Tri-motor made a brief stopover near his house.  He said : ' I bedeviled a family friend into buying me
a ride . . posed as his kid ' cause you had to be with an adult ' . " That was my first experience flying. "
    Kirby later saved two dollars . . got a ride from a neighbor who was building up flying time . . of course, Kirby asked him if be could move the stick when airborne. 

And Kirby became hooked on flying airplanes ! 
    ' Flying came naturally to me . . didn't scare me too bad . . and it sure beat just walking someplace ! '

Sources :  M.F. Kirby . . and close friend Double Ace Hal Fischer
Thanks to Micro
Thought you might enjoy perusing this list.
Thanks to Mike
Cannibals were employed by the Navy
A bit of Naval history for you. To put in context, as a sea story it must begin: Now this is no s**t. 
Five cannibals were employed by the Navy as translators during one of the island campaigns of World War II.
When the Commanding Admiral of the task force welcomed the cannibals he said, You're all part of our team now. We will compensate you well for your services, and you can eat any of the rations that the Sailors are eating. So please do not indulge yourselves by eating a Sailor.
The cannibals agreed.
Four weeks later, the Admiral returned and said, You're all working hard, and I'm very satisfied with every one of you. However, one of our Chief Petty Officers has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to him?

The cannibals all shook their heads. After the Admiral left, the leader of the cannibals turned to the others and said, Which of you idiots ate the Chief?
A hand raised hesitantly, to which the leader of the cannibals replied, You idiot! For four weeks we've been eating Ensigns, Lieutenants, Lieutenant Commanders, Commanders, and even one Captain, and no one noticed a thing. And then YOU had to go and eat a Chief.
Item Number:1 Date: 03/01/2017 AFGHANISTAN - AMERICAN, AFGHAN OFFICIALS OPTIMISTIC LATEST MILITARY LEADERSHIP CHANGES WILL PAY DIVIDENDS (MAR 01/S&S)  STARS AND STRIPES -- Both U.S. and Afghan military officials predict that recent changes in the leadership of Afghan security forces should lead to battlefield gains this year, reports the Stars and Stripes.   Ineffective and corrupt commanders in the military and security forces has been widely blamed for poor performance against Taliban militants, who now hold more Afghan territory than at any time since 2001, officials said.   "In the Afghan National Army, we are looking at 15 Kandak (battalion) commanders being replaced over the last three months, at least three brigade commanders and one corps commander," Command Sgt. Maj. David Clark, the senior enlisted leader for NATO and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, told the newspaper.   The new leaders have already demonstrated improved performance, he said. "I see more of the platoons taking the fight to the enemy; the tactical failures are coming down," said Clark, as quoted in the paper on Monday.   At the Interior Ministry, "tens of people were changed," including several directors general and a number of provincial and district police chiefs, said a ministry spokesman.   Three senior leaders and several low-level commanders with the Afghan air force have been replaced since December, officials said.   Gen. John Campbell, the previous commander of the coalition in Afghanistan, last year told Congress that poor leadership was responsible for most of the issues plaguing the Afghan security forces.  
  Item Number:2 Date: 03/01/2017 AFGHANISTAN - RIVAL TALIBAN FACTIONS CLASH IN HERAT PROVINCE (MAR 01/KP)  KHAAMA PRESS -- A group of suicide bombers, apparently Taliban fighters, attacked a rival compound over the weekend in Afghanistan's western Herat province, reports the Khaama Press (Afghanistan).   Late Sunday night, at least two suicide bombers attacked the compound of a rival Taliban group led by Mullah Rasool in the Shindand district, according to provincial officials.   There was a gunfight that lasted at least 30 minutes before the suicide bombers were killed. At least three militants loyal to Mullah Rasool were also killed, the provincial officials said.   This is not the first time that rival Taliban factions in the region have clashed, said analysts.  
 Item Number:3 Date: 03/01/2017 AFGHANISTAN - TALIBAN HITS SECURITY BUILDINGS TWICE IN KABUL (MAR 01/RFE/RL)  RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY -- At least one person has been killed and dozens wounded in Afghanistan's capital in coordinated blasts on Wednesday, say Afghan officials cited by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   One attacker with a hidden car bomb caused a blast at the entrance of a district police headquarters in the western part Kabul, according to Deutsche Welle.   One person was killed and at least 37 wounded in that explosion and subsequent gunbattle, said a Public Health Ministry official.   Shortly thereafter, a suicide bomber hit an office belonging to the National Directorate for Security in eastern Kabul, said an Interior Ministry spokesman. At least two were reported injured.   Another attacker was shot by Afghan security forces, said a military official cited by Reuters.   The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks
  Item Number:4 Date: 03/01/2017 CHINA - COVERING REFORM COSTS, RESPONDING TO REGIONAL THREATS, INCREASE PRESSURE FOR MORE DEFENSE SPENDING (MAR 01/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- China should increase its defense spending to meet growing security challenges, according to a number of analysts cited by the South China Morning Post.   The National People's Congress is supposed to announce the 2017 budget for the People's Liberation Army next week.   Last year, the official Chinese defense budget was US$138.6 billion, a 7.6 percent increase over the previous year, and the first single-digit increase since 2010. (The lack of transparency in Chinese budgeting has led to outside estimates being significantly higher than those released by Beijing.)   The analysts cited by the paper, which included experts in Singapore and Hong Kong, believe a double-digit budget increase is needed this year to cover the extra costs of the major military reforms launched by President Xi Jinping. These include modernizing equipment; more live-fire exercises; advanced technology; and cutting 300,000 posts by the end of 2017.   Compensation for the 300,000 troops being cut will also add to the bottom line, said experts.   Additional spending is also needed to keep up with Western technological developments, they said
  Item Number:5 Date: 03/01/2017 CHINA - WING-LOONG II UAV COMPLETES 1ST FLIGHT; REAPER-LIKE AIRCRAFT FLEW 31 MINUTES (MAR 01/XIN)  XINHUA -- China has just conducted the maiden flight of its Wing-Loong II reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicle, reports Xinhua, China's state news agency.   The air vehicle flew for the first time on Monday from an airfield in western China. The flight lasted 31 minutes. the news agency reported the next day.   The Wing-Loong II is 36 feet (11 m) long, has a wingspan of 67 feet (20.5 m) and is 13 feet (4.1 m) high. It has a ceiling of 29,530 feet (9,000 m) and a top speed of 210 mph (340 kmh), said Li Yidong, the chief designer.   The air vehicle weighs 9,260 pounds (4,200 kg) and can carry an external payload of 1,060 pounds (480 kg) and fly for up to 20 hours.   The Wing-Loong II is equivalent to the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper, according to the designer
Item Number:6 Date: 03/01/2017 COLOMBIA - FARC DISARMAMENT PROCESS DUE TO START (MAR 01/AFP)  AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE -- FARC fighters are about to begin surrendering their weapons as part of peace deal with the Colombian government, reports Agence France-Presse.   In recent weeks, the rebels have been gathering at demobilization camps throughout the country. On March 1, they will begin to inventory weapons and destroy munitions under United Nations supervision, said the government on Tuesday.   "As a concrete first step in the process of laying down our arms and as a sign of our unconditional commitment to peace, FARC members' weapons... will be turned over to the United Nations," said rebel leader Ivan Marquez.   Under a revised peace deal signed in November, the guerrilla group is supposed to surrender 30 percent of its weapons to the United Nations by Wednesday.   All arms are supposed to be turned over by a deadline of June 1
Item Number:7 Date: 03/01/2017 FRANCE - ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS WITH JIHADISTS IN SYRIA PROVE COSTLY TO TEEN GIRLS (MAR 01/REU)  REUTERS -- French authorities have arrested four teenage girls suspected of communicating with jihadists in Syria and discussing possible violent attacks, reports Reuters, citing an unnamed judicial source.   Counter-terror police arrested the girls Tuesday morning in different parts of France, reported the Local (France). Three are minors, between 15 an 17; one is 18 years old.   According to French television, one of the girls had been in contact with French jihadist Rachid Kassim through an encrypted messaging app called Telegram.   Kassim, who is suspected of inspiring recent attacks in France, was killed in an airstrike near the Iraqi city of Mosul in February, according to the U.S. military. Kassim was known for his social media presence as an ISIS recruiter, noted the Washington Post at the time of the airstrike. He was a failed rapper
  Item Number:8 Date: 03/01/2017 IRAN - FOLLOWING AGREEMENT, REVOLUTIONARY GUARD NAVY WILL BE IN CHARGE OF SEIZING TRESPASSING VESSELS (MAR 01/PRESSTV)  PRESS TV -- The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) navy will now have the responsibility of seizing vessels that trespass on Iran's territorial waters, reports Press TV (Iran).   Following the signing of an agreement on Tuesday with Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, the IRGC navy will be authorized to seize all vessels intruding on Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf, said Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, the command of the service.   The seized vessels will be handed over to the organization, which oversees affairs related to Iranian sea ports and commercial shipping and is part of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.   The partners also agreed to set up new procedures to cooperate on maritime issues, including environmental damage and search-and-rescue operations, said the admiral.  
  Item Number:9 Date: 03/01/2017 IRAQ - ISIS NOW SURROUNDED IN WESTERN MOSUL; ARMY CUTS LAST EXIT ROUTE (MAR 01/MIDEEYE)  MIDDLE EAST EYE -- Iraqi army units have closed the last major road from the western part of Mosul that has been held by the Islamic State, reports the Middle East Eye.   As of Wednesday, the 9th Armored Division was within 1 km (0.6 miles) of Mosul's northwestern entrance, also known as the Syria Gate, a general from the unit told Reuters by telephone.   Residents from Mosul said they had been unable to use the highway since Tuesday. The route links western Mosul to the ISIS-held city of Tal Afar, about 60 km (40 miles) to the west.   Government forces seized control of eastern Mosul in January. They renewed the operations against the western half on Feb. 19
Item Number:10 Date: 03/01/2017 PHILIPPINES - ARMY EYES RECRUITING NEARLY 14,000 THIS YEAR (MAR 01/UPH)  UPDATE.PH -- The Philippine army has decided to recruit 13,910 new soldiers this year, reports Update Philippines.   That total will include 349 junior officers, 1,069 soldiers for the newly organized 54th Engineer Brigade, 8,892 soldiers for a special quota approved by President Rodrigo Duterte and 3,600 for annual replacements, said an army spokesman on Wednesday.   Most of the recruits will be with infantry, cavalry and artillery units, while others will take up engineering, communications, logistics and other administrative roles, the spokesman said.   Ten percent of the total will be allocated for women and 5 percent for indigenous peoples, he said.   A trainee candidate will receive a monthly salary of about US$334. That goes up to US$460 when the candidate becomes an enlisted private.  
  Item Number:11 Date: 03/01/2017 RUSSIA - HIGH-LEVEL TALKS IN MOSCOW WITH TOP BRITISH MILITARY OFFICIALS AIMED AT TAMPING DOWN TENSIONS (MAR 01/INT-AVN)  INTERFAX-MILITARY NEWS AGENCY -- Senior British and Russian military officials have been meeting in Moscow to discuss how to resume military cooperation and alleviate tensions, reports Interfax-AVN (Russia).   Col. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, hosted Gen. Gordon Messenger, the vice chief of the British Defense Staff, on Tuesday.   "The parties discussed the state of affairs and prospects of resuming military interaction and the situation in volatile regions of the world, as well as possible steps to ease tensions, elaborate bilateral confidence-building measures and prevent military incidents," said a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.   The two sides reached an agreement to "continue contacts," the ministry said.   Tensions spiked after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. The U.K. has also expressed concern about frequent flights of Russian long-range bombers near its airspace, noted Reuters. Moscow's intervention in Syria and deployment of troops to Eastern Europe have also been contentious issues, noted Outlook (India
  Item Number:12 Date: 03/01/2017 SERBIA - BLAST AT MILITARY DEPOT KILLS 1, WOUNDS 2 DOZEN; SEARCH UNDERWAY FOR MISSING (MAR 01/B92)  B92 NEWS -- An explosion at a military facility in Serbia on Tuesday killed at least one person and injured 25 personnel from the army and Interior Ministry, reports Serbian television network B92, citing the Defense Ministry.   The blast took place at a repair depot in the central town of Kragujevac, said the ministry.   At least three people were reported missing. The ministry said it was still searching for them, noted Balkan Insight.   Defense Ministry Zoran Djordjevic said on Tuesday evening that the fire had been extinguished, but that there was the risk of more explosions. Indeed, on wire service reported that there was a second explosion.   The incident started when a fire broke out in a section for decommissioning ordnance, reported the Tanjug news agency (Belgrade
  Item Number:13 Date: 03/01/2017 SOUTH KOREA - JOINT FOAL EAGLE EXERCISE BEGINS WITH U.S. FORCES (MAR 01/YON)  YONHAP -- U.S. and South Korean forces have just begun a major annual joint military exercise, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul).   Foal Eagle, a field training exercise that includes ground, air and naval forces, began Wednesday and will run through the end of April, said South Korea's Defense Ministry.   Another joint computer-simulated command-post exercise called Key Resolve will begin on March 13.   U.S. strategic assets, including the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, F-35B aircraft, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, are participating in the joint exercise, said a spokesman for U.S. Forces Korea. B-1B and B-52 bombers could also be deployed.   The strategic deployments are a response to the North's recent missile tests.   About 3,600 U.S. troops will take part in Foal Eagle this year, the U.S. spokesman said. Last year, the two drills included about 300,000 South Korean forces and 17,000 from the U.S., noted AFP.   As usual, North Korea has termed the exercise a rehearsal for an invasion
Item Number:14 Date: 03/01/2017 SWEDEN - AS RISKS INCREASE, MORE SPENDING PLANNED FOR CYBER DEFENSES (MAR 01/DN)  DEFENSE NEWS -- The Swedish government has plans to allocate additional funding for cyber defense, reports Defense News.   The increased budget will strengthen Sweden's cyber defense infrastructure and better protect critical infrastructure, said officials.   There is an increased risk of aggressive foreign cyber attacks on Swedish military installations, government IT systems and sensitive weapons development and research being conducted by domestic firms, according to domestic officials.   The National Defense Radio Establishment (FRA), Sweden's signals intelligence agency, warned in its 2016 report that more cyber attacks were coming from abroad, also noting that attackers were increasingly sophisticated.   The Defense Ministry recently confirmed that an extensive cyber attack forced the shutdown of the military's Caxcis IT system, which is used to plan, manage and monitor military exercises.   The goal is to provide the FRA and Swedish military with defensive and offensive tools to defend critical infrastructure, said officials
  Item Number:15 Date: 03/01/2017 SYRIA - TROOPS AIM TO TAKE PALMYRA BACK ONCE AGAINST FROM ISIS (MAR 01/AL-MASDAR)  AL-MASDAR NEWS -- Syrian soldiers appear to be poised to enter the Islamic State-held city of Palmyra, reports Al-Masdar News (United Arab Emirates).   As of Wednesday, the troops had taken control of a key road junction called the Palmyra Triangle a few miles west of the city, said the army.   "The army's entry to the city will begin very soon," said a military source cited by Reuters.   Government forces, backed by Russian air support, seized Palmyra from ISIS in March 2016, but lost the area in December. The city with its ancient monuments was first captured by ISIS in 2015.   Syrian soldiers are also said to be preparing to storm the al-Mahr gas field west of Palmyra after seizing the high ground overlooking the facility. Mines and booby traps disguised as rocks have reportedly been delaying the government advances
Item Number:16 Date: 03/01/2017 TAJIKISTAN - RUSSIANS STATIONED WITHIN TAJIKISTAN TO ASSIST WITH SECURITY ON AFGHAN BORDER, SAYS PUTIN (MAR 01/TASS)  TASS -- President Vladimir Putin has promised Russian assistance to help Tajikistan protect its border with Afghanistan, reports the Tass news agency (Moscow).   Putin met this week with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital.   Both countries are concerned about the spread of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, as well as the growth of drug-trafficking and other crime, Putin said on Monday. The threat includes the Islamic State, which is banned in Russia.   The leaders agreed to bolster joint efforts to protect the Tajik-Afghan border, using the assets of the Russian 201st Military Base in Tajikistan, in particular, according to Putin.   The agenda also included efforts to help restore peace and stability in Afghanistan, said Rakhmon.  
  Item Number:17 Date: 03/01/2017 TUNISIA - 6 HOTEL SECURITY GUARDS BEING CHARGE FOR NOT HELPING DURING SOUSSE BEACH ATTACK IN 2015 (MAR 01/GUARDIAN)  GUARDIAN -- Tunisian authorities have charged six security guards for failing to help tourists during a 2015 attack in Sousse, reports the Guardian (U.K.).   In June 2015, a gunman killed 38 people, mostly British nationals, at the beach resort. He was then shot and killed by security forces. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.   On Wednesday, a spokesman for judicial counter-terrorism investigations said that six guards from the Imperial Marhaba Hotel had been charged with failing to help people in danger in a way that resulted in their deaths, noted Newsweek.   Overall, 33 are being charged in connection to the attack, reported AFP. Seven are on the run and will be tried in absentia. Their identities and the charges they face have not been made public.   Earlier this week, a British inquiry found that Tunisian security forces had made "deliberate and unjustifiable" delays to reach the scene of the attack. Their response was "at best shambolic and at worst cowardly," said a British judge
  Item Number:18 Date: 03/01/2017 USA - $128 MILLION CONTRACT COVERS MOBILE SENSORS FOR TRACKING SHIPS (MAR 01/RAYTHEON)  RAYTHEON -- The U.S. Air Force has awarded Raytheon a contract to operate and maintain radars on two Navy ships, reports the defense firm.   The four-year Mobile Sensors contract, worth up to $128 million, covers the operation and maintenance of the Cobra King radar on the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (TAGM-25) and the Gray Star radar on USNS Invincible (TAGM-24), said a company release on Feb. 27.   The two naval vessels are involved in electronic intelligence as missile range instrumentation ships.   The shipboard radars are forward-deployed to support the U.S. Pacific and U.S. Central Commands.   Under the awards, Raytheon personnel deploy aboard the ships to operate and maintain the radars and their subsystems. The firm also provides engineering and logistics support. The Air Force depends on the sensor systems in the "digital battlefield," noted a company official
  Item Number:19 Date: 03/01/2017 USA - FLINTLOCK DRILLS, RUN BY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND AFRICA, BEGIN AT MULTIPLE SITES (MAR 01/S&S)  STARS AND STRIPES -- The U.S. Africa Command has kicked off a major exercise in West Africa, reports the Stars and Stripes.   The Flintlock drills, run by Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF), began on Monday. It involves around 2,000 U.S., European and African military personnel participating in three weeks of field training.   Chad is the main host for this year's exercises. Some training events will also take place in Cameroon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia, among others.   The exercise is focused on helping African militaries coordinate regional responses to terrorist threats, such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaida- and Islamic State-linked terrorist groups, said Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, the head of SOCAF.   A particular point of emphasis is defending borders and protecting against cross-border attacks, the general said. Improving coordination between the military and local police and other security forces is another aim
Item Number:20 Date: 03/01/2017 USA - NAVY ORDERS 7 GROWLER ELECTRONIC ATTACK, 5 SUPER HORNET FIGHTER JETS (MAR 01/DOD)  DEPT. OF DEFENSE -- The Naval Air Systems Command has awarded St. Louis-based Boeing a contract for additional electronic attack and fighter aircraft, reports the Dept. of Defense.   The $679 million deal covers seven Lot 40 EA-18G Growler aircraft and associated electronic attack kits and five F/A-18E Super Hornet fighters.   Work under the contract is scheduled to be completed in February 2019, noted a Pentagon release on Feb. 27.   NAVAIR awarded another $9.6 million contract to Boeing on Monday for an engineering change proposal for the design, development and structural analysis of the necessary modifications to the pre-cost reduction initiative aircraft wing structure in support of the Super Hornet service life-extension program.   Work under that contract is due to be completed in January 2020.


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