Wednesday, March 15, 2017

TheList 4408


The List 4408


To All,
I hope your week has started well.
 
Regards,
skip
 
This Day In Naval History - March 14
1863: A squadron of ships led by Rear Adm. David G. Farragut passes the heavy batteries at Port Hudson, La., to establish blockade of Red River supply lines during the Civil War. USS Mississippi becomes grounded, catches fire and blows up, killing 64.
1929: During the Elba, Ala., flooding, Navy planes from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., make 113 flights carrying relief supplies and conducting rescues to flooded towns in southern Alabama and western Florida.
 
 
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Thanks to Chuck
Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMC - Medal Of Honor - You Just Ain't Gonna Believe this!! I verified!!
An AMAZING story.
 
 
Yet another WWII story I had not heard about….may we never exhaust our source of patriots like Lucas.
Jacklyn H. Lucas
Everyone with half a functioning brain knows that diving on a live hand grenade to save your friends is one of the single most selfless, balls-out heroic acts of valor that any human being can perform.  It takes a special, rare kind of person to come face-to-face with his own destruction, resist every natural impulse of self-preservation, and unhesitatingly give themselves up in a final, purely selfless feat of  bravery, trading in the most precious thing a human has to offer - their life - so that others might live.
It's such a paragon of ultimate selfless  human sacrifice that nowadays it's the standard go-to analogy for everything from taking all the blame for a team-wide corporate screw-up to unselfishly talking up the homeliest girl at the bar while your buddy tries to hook up with her best friend. It's such a heroic testament to the will of the human spirit that more Medals of Honor and Victoria Crosses have been handed out for this  single act than for any other deed in the history of combat.
Unfortunately, despite this being a universally-acknowledged feat of righteous heroic awesomeness, the fact that  the entire action is over in three to five seconds combine with some horrifically-tragic consequences for the hero to make grenade-hopping a  pretty tough subject to write a Badass of the Week article about.
Unless, of course, we're talking about Jack Lucas  of the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines.
Because Jack Lucas jumped on not one but two grenades to save his friends.
And lived.
Jacklyn H. Lucas was born on Valentine's Day,  1928, in some rural town in North Carolina with a population so tiny that if everyone in the entire county showed up at UNC for a basketball game they  probably couldn't sell out one section of the Dean Smith Center. Cursed with one of the most terrible first names in history, Jacklyn did the Boy Named  Sue thing and spent his entire life training to be so ungodly hardcore that anyone who referred to him by any name other than Jack would end up forcibly swallowing their own genitalia, eventually enlisting as a cadet at Edwards  Military Institute in Salemburg, NC.
Things were going fine for a while, but Jack's  life changed pretty dramatically on December 7, 1941, when he got news that  a super-secret ninja sneak-attack of Japanese fighter-bombers had just craterized the American battleship fleet at Pearl Harbor into a towering  inferno of twisted metal. 
He kind of took it personally.
So while Lucas' 13 year-old idiot classmates were all hanging around their school doing dipshit teenage-boy-stuff like slam-dunking M80s into public toilets and superglueing their friends'  lockers shut, Lucas just got pissed. Like, super pissed. Like King Kong stopping by on the way home from work after a miserable day at the office only to find that the badass frozen yogurt place down the street is totally out of banana sherbet so he just snorts a line of PCP and goes Falling Down on everyone pissed. He stormed out of his military school (the first of many times he'd be listed AWOL in his professional career), went across the  border to Virginia, bribed some notary public to swear he was 17, then  hitched a ride to the nearest Marine Corps Recruiting Station, marched his hefty 5'8", 200-pound frame through the front door like he owned the place, forged his Mom's signature on enlistment paperwork, and shipped out to Parris Island for US Marine Corps Boot Camp.
At thirteen.
Lucas made it through the most intense basic  training the United States military has to offer, was made a Marine at 14, and was subsequently assigned to work a crappy manual labor job as part of the Training Battalion on Parris Island.
Jack Lucas responded to this unsatisfactory posting by abandoning his station, hitching a ride to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, grabbing the first USMC officer he could find, and telling him there was a clerical error and he was supposed to be stationed on the front lines in a combat arms role.
They made him a truck driver at the Marine Corps base on Pearl Harbor.
Unsatisfied by his current status of "not blowing the shit out of the enemy at all corners wherever he could find them", and denied in all of his requests to transfer to a front-line infantry unit,  Jack Lucas spend the next couple of years raising hell across Honolulu. He was arrested for starting a drunken bar fight. He was disciplined for going AWOL so he could head into town and meet girls. He was busted by a Military Policeman for walking through the barracks with a case of beer, then was subsequently arrested for punching that same Military Policeman in the face when that power-tripping asshole tried to take the beer away from him.
Tired of spending his nights in the brig and worried that the war was going to end without him every hoisting a rifle in battle, Lucas finally decided, screw it, I'm going to go to war and I don't  give a shit who wants to stop me. He went down to the docks, snuck aboard a military transport ship headed for the front lines, then spent a month living off crumbs hiding from the crew because he was worried if they discovered him they'd ship his ass back to Hawaii for a court-martial.
Of the 40,000 Marines who hit the beach at Iwo Jima on or around February 20th, 1945, 17-year-old Private Jack Lucas of the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, was one of the only infantrymen who assaulted the beachhead without a weapon. He changed that pretty quickly. He grabbed one off a dead soldier in the surf, racked the slide, and charged into battle.
Rushing through the brutal, endless curtains of strafing machine gun and artillery fire that raked the beach, Lucas grabbed his newly-acquired weapon and charged ahead, undaunted by the explosions and bullets zipping all around. He ran ahead, reached the relative safety of the  treeline, and fell in with a four-man fireteam that had already started working their way through the dense jungle, trying to clear out one of the  most tenacious and ferociously-hardcore enemies the United States ever faced.
Lucas and his men were making their way through a ravine, fighting every step of the way, when suddenly some bad shit started to go down. It turned out that the Japanese had dug this ridiculously-intricate series of caverns and secret passages that ran  through the entire island, so just as Lucas and his buddies thought they were going to launch their final assault on a Japanese machine gun nest, they came to the horrible realization that all 11 men in that pillbox had gone into a tunnel, crawled underneath them, and popped up directly behind  the Marines.  The Marines turned to fire, and in Jack Lucas' much-awaited first moments of real battle his first round went through the helmet of an enemy soldier, killing him on the spot.
His second round jammed in the rifle. I guess that's what happens with rifles you pick up in ankle-deep water on blood-soaked sandy beaches. 
It was at this point that Jack Lucas saw the live  hand grenade that had just landed at his feet. He threw his body on it without hesitation, screaming for the other Marines to take cover.
When a second enemy grenade landed within arms' reach, Lucas grabbed it and jammed it under his body as well.
The Type 97 Fragmentation Grenade is a 16-ounce  metal ball stuffed with 65 grams of TNT and a 5 second timed-detonation mechanism. Now, a common misconception about hand grenades is that they create some huge fiery explosion that blows people into the next area code like they were launched out of a flaming death-catapult, then they proceed to ignite everything in the general vicinity up to and including the Earth's atmosphere. But, while the explosive power unleashed by a frag grenade is certainly not the sort of thing you want to wake up to every morning, what kills the majority of people isn't the bomb, but the flying bits of shrapnel. Basically, the explosion is just a catalyst that shatters the metal encapsulating the grenade and sends tens of thousands of tiny, razor-sharp metal splinters hurtling through the air in every direction, shredding anything in their wake, and killing or maiming anyone or anything within 100 to 150 feet. You ever wonder why some grenades look like pineapples? It's because  when the bomb goes off each little section of the pineapple morphs into a bullet firing off into some random direction. It ain't pretty.
And Jack Lucas just had two of those little bastards blow up straight into his torso. Sure, his friends survived thanks to his heroism, but all that metal has to go somewhere, and where it went was straight into Lucas' body.
The rest of the Marine fire team, pumped-up by Lucas' bravery and the fact that they weren't currently all dead, proceeded to fight like demons and push the Japanese back, driving them from the position and capturing that sector.
When they came back to take the dog tags off of their fallen brother, they noticed that not only was Lucas alive, he was actually still conscious.
I don't want to go on the cart.
The true unsung heroes of Iwo Jima, the Navy Corpsmen, were called in on the spot, hauling the severely-screwed-up Lucas out of there on a stretcher while simultaneously using their .45 pistols to fight off a Japanese banzai counter-attack. They fought through the warzone, got Lucas to a hospital ship, and it took 21 surgeries for them to remove 250 pieces of shrapnel from every major organ in his body.
Seven months later, Jack Lucas personally walked up to Harry S. Truman and received his Medal of Honor in person. He'd already made a complete recovery.
He was six days past his seventeenth birthday, the youngest Marine to ever receive the award.
After the war, Lucas went home and fulfilled his promise to his mother to finish school, attending his first day of ninth grade with his Medal of Honor around his neck. He finished college, went on a USO speaking tour, was married three times, survived his second wife's attempt to hire a hitman to murder him (she hadn't got the message from the Japanese that this guy was impervious to conventional weapons), and then, at age 40, decided to get over his fear of heights by enlisting in the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper.
On his first training jump, both parachutes failed to open. As his team leader astutely pointed out, "Jack was the last one out of the plane and the first one on the ground."
He fell 3,500 feet through the air without a  parachute. He attempted a badass commando roll just as he was about to splat on the earth Wile E. Coyote style.
He not only lived, he walked away unscathed.
Two weeks later, he was back in the plane on his second training jump.
That one went better. Four years later he finished his tour as a Captain in the 82nd Airborne Division.
His adventures in miraculously surviving death now complete, he ran a successful business selling beef to people outside Washington, DC, wrote an appropriately-named autobiography titled Indestructible, met every president from Truman to Clinton, had his original Medal of Honor citation laid out in the hull of  the USS Iwo Jima, and died in 2008 at the age of 80.
From cancer, of all things.
For more details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacklyn_H._Lucas - Or GOOGLE him!
 
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Thanks to Bill
Reminder of the nature of politicians
                                                            In 1952, Armon M. Sweat, Jr., a member of the Texas House of Representatives, was asked about his position on whiskey. What follows is his exact answer (taken from the Political Archives of Texas ):
                                                           
                                                            "If you mean whiskey, the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.
                                                           
                                                            However, if by whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life's great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into Texas treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.
                                                           
                                                            This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle."
 
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The Pilot Lounge...

 
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Thanks to Mike
Well, I flew ONE of them, The Bell 47! LOL
The 15 Most Important Helicopters
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ZEN
TEACHINGS
1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead.
Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow.
Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow.
In fact, just piss off and leave me alone.
 
2. Sex is like air. It's not that important unless you aren't getting any.
 
3. No one is listening, until you pass wind.
 
4. Always remember you're unique.Just like everyone else.
 
5. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
 
6. If you think nobody cares whether you're alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.
 
7. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
 
8. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
 
9. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
 
10. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again,
it was probably well worth it.
 
11. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
 
12. Some days you are the dog, some days you are the tree.
 
13. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.
 
14. Good judgement comes from bad experience .. and most of that
comes from bad judgement.
 
15. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
 
16. There are two excellent theories for arguing with women. Neither one works.
 
17. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
 
18. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
 
19. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our arse -
then things just keep getting worse.
 
20. Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a
laxative on the same night.
 
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Item Number:1 Date: 03/14/2017 AFGHANISTAN - IN FATAL ATTACK, BOMBER HITS MINIBUS IN KABUL (MAR 14/NYT)  NEW YORK TIMES -- At least one person has been killed and several others injured after a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a minibus in the capital of Afghanistan, say Afghan officials cited by the New York Times.   On Monday, a sedan slammed into a minibus carrying employees from Afghanistan's Roshan Telecom company during rush hour in the Taimani neighborhood of Kabul, according witnesses.   Other accounts blamed the explosion on a roadside bomb.   Casualties have been reported variously. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said at least one person was killed and 19 more wounded.   There was no immediate claim of responsibility.  
  Item Number:2 Date: 03/14/2017 AFGHANISTAN - TALIBAN COMMANDERS NOW BACK IN CROSSHAIRS (MAR 14/MILTIMES)  MILITARY TIMES -- The U.S. is again targeting Taliban commanders in Afghanistan, reports the Military Times.   In recent years, the Obama administration focused on efforts to reconcile the Taliban and Afghan government in Kabul. The U.S. also targeted high-profile Al-Qaida and Haqqani Network terrorists, while attempting to draw down U.S. and NATO forces.   The U.S. Air Force strike on Feb. 26 that killed Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Salam appears to be an indication that the service is once more focusing on militant leaders.   The change may be a response to significant Taliban territorial gains over the last few years. Kabul only controls about 57 percent of the districts in the country, according to some official estimates.   On March 1, the Taliban attacked police, military and intelligence targets in Kabul, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens.   These attacks "were meant to underscore to U.S. and Afghan forces that targeting Taliban leaders will lead them to intensify, not ease, their fight," said Michael Kugelman, an Afghanistan expert at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C
  Item Number:3 Date: 03/14/2017 BURMA - DOZENS OF SOLDIERS KILLED IN RECENT FIGHTING IN KOKANG, SAYS STATE PAPER (MAR 14/REU)  REUTERS -- Dozens of Burmese troops have been killed in recent fighting between government forces and ethnic rebels near the border with China, according to state media, as reported by Reuters.   Rebels from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) began an attack on March 6 on Laukkai, the capital of the northeastern Kokang region. Five residents and five traffic police were reported killed and 20 burned bodies found, according to local officials.   During military operations running from March 6 to 12, "there were at least 48 armed clashes with the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), resulting in the deaths of dozens of soldiers," said the Global New Light of Myanmar, Burma's state-run newspaper.   The exact number of deaths was not reported.   The newspaper said the MNDAA abducted about 270 staff from a hotel in Laukkai in the initial attack and took them to the neighboring Chinese town of Nansan for forced military training. The group had a different account, saying it safely escorted the staff in a move that was "supported and acclaimed."   The MNDAA is part of the Northern Alliance, a rebel umbrella group
  Item Number:4 Date: 03/14/2017 DEM REP OF CONGO - KIDNAPPERS STILL HOLDING AMERICAN, SWEDISH U.N. OFFICIALS (MAR 14/ALJAZ)  AL JAZEERA -- Unknown assailants are still holding two members of a United Nations panel of experts from the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports Al Jazeera (Qatar).   Michael Sharp, an American, and Zaida Catalan, a Swede, fell "into the hands of negative forces not yet identified," said the DRC government in a statement released on Monday.   The abduction took place on Sunday near the village of Ngombe in the central Kasai Central province. Four Congolese nationals, including three motorcycle-taxi drivers and an interpreter, were also abducted, said the statement.   U.N. peacekeepers are searching for the missing group, said a U.N. spokesman cited by Deutsche Welle.   The U.N. experts are investigating conflicts in the DRC that have occurred since the 1990s.   More than 400 people have been killed and 200,000 displaced in Kasai Central province since August 2016 after government forces killed a local militia leader.  
  Item Number:5 Date: 03/14/2017 IRAN - MASS PRODUCTION STARTS FOR KARRAR MAIN BATTLE TANK (MAR 14/FARS)  FARS NEWS AGENCY -- The Iranian government has announced the beginning of series production of an indigenously developed main battle tank, reports the semi-official Fars News Agency.   Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan presided over Sunday's ceremony marking the occasion in Tehran.   The Karrar tank is fitted with an electro-optical fire-control system; laser rangefinder; ballistic computer; and can fire at static and moving targets in both day and night conditions, the minister said. It can also fire missiles.   The Karrar "can compete with the most advanced tanks in the world in the three main areas of power, precision and mobility as well as maintenance and durability in the battleground," said Dehqan.   The Karrar features a fording capability and is equipped with navigation and telecommunication systems as well as protection against electronic attack, he said.   The tank was built entirely by domestic industry and is equivalent to the Russian T-90, maintains Tehran.  
 Item Number:6 Date: 03/14/2017 JAPAN - PENTAGON PUSHES BACK OSPREY DEPLOYMENT TO YOKOTA AIR BASE (MAR 14/JIJI)  JIJI PRESS -- A plan to deploy U.S. CV-22 Ospreys to Yokota Air Base in western Japan has been delayed, says the Pentagon, as reported by Jiji News (Japan).   Under the original plan, three CV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft were to arrive in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.   Yokota is the headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force.   On Tuesday, the U.S. Dept. of Defense announced that the deployment will be postponed until fiscal year 2020. No reason was given for the delay.   The base is supposed to eventually have a special operations squadron of 10 Ospreys by 2021, reported the Stars and Stripes. The aircraft would improve the ability of U.S. special operations forces to respond quickly to crises and contingencies, said the DoD.   Many living in near Yokota oppose the plan to base Ospreys
Item Number:7 Date: 03/14/2017 LIBYA - EASTERN FORCES BEGIN COUNTERATTACK TO REGAIN KEY OIL PORTS (MAR 14/REU)  REUTERS -- Forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar have launched a ground offensive to regain control of the northern Libyan oil port of Ras Lanuf, reports Reuters.   Haftar is the military commander of Libya's eastern government – a rival to the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk   The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) lost control of Ras Lanuf and the Es Sider oil terminals earlier this month to the rival Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB). In recent weeks, the LNA has been mobilizing ground forces and making airstrikes.   On Tuesday, the LNA began its ground offensive to retake Ras Lanuf. An LNA commander confirmed that a counterattack had begun.   The LNA first seized control of the ports in September, ending a blockade in the area and doubling oil output. The force still controls two other ports, Brega and Zueitina.   Since the BDB gained control of Es Side and Ras Lanuf, oil output has decreased from about 700,000 barrels per day to 615,000.  
  Item Number:8 Date: 03/14/2017 NORTH KOREA - MORE TUNNELING EVIDENT AT PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE (MAR 14/38N)  38 NORTH -- An analysis of commercial satellite photos of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea has revealed significant tunnel excavation, reports 38 North, a web-based project affiliated with the U.S.-Korea Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.   The imagery shows that the work is continuing at the North Portal (previously known as the West Portal), which supported the last four of the five declared underground nuclear tests conducted by Pyongyang, noted the website.   A complex horizontal tunnel network at Punggye-ri likely supported the previous tests and is in the same general location as the latest tunneling, according to analysts.   The North Portal is also the only one at the test site to have an encompassing security fence, indicating its likely role as the primary test portal, said two geophysics analysts.   The site is likely able to host tests with yields into the hundreds of kilotons using only horizontally excavated tunnels, said the researchers. Tunnels under Mount Mantap, which provides 2,620 feet (800 m) of overlying rock could contain a nuclear explosive test with a yield of up to 282 kilotons
  Item Number:9 Date: 03/14/2017 NORTH KOREA - PYONGYANG THREATENS 'MERCILESS' ATTACKS AS U.S. SHIP JOINS DRILLS IN SOUTH (MAR 14/AGE)  THE AGE -- North Korea has warned of potential "merciless" attacks if a U.S. carrier group infringes on its sovereignty, reports the Age (Australia), citing state media in the North.   The Carl Vinson carrier is expected to arrive in South Korea on Wednesday for joint drills that began earlier this month. The carrier group includes Carrier Air Wing 2 and the Wayne E. Meyer destroyer, noted the Korean Herald.   "If they infringe on the [North Korea's] sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater," said state news agency KCNA on Tuesday.   "On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of [North Korea] to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army," said the North Korean new agency.   Pyongyang has long opposed joint exercises between the U.S. and the South, viewing them as preparations for invasion. Last week, Pyongyang fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in part due to the drills, noted Reuters.  
  Item Number:10 Date: 03/14/2017 PAKISTAN - ARMY CHIEF TOUTS RESPONSE CAPABILITIES OF LY-80 AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM (MAR 14/DAWN)  DAWN -- A new Chinese-built air defense system is now in service with Pakistan's army, reports the Dawn (Pakistan).   The LY-80 low-to-medium altitude air defense system (LOMADS) formally entered service during Sunday's ceremony in the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi.   The LY-80 is a mobile air defense system that can track and intercept a range of aerial targets flying at low and medium altitudes, according to an army release.   The system improves the army's ability to respond to existing and emerging air threats, said Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army chief.  
Item Number:11 Date: 03/14/2017 PHILIPPINES - CHINESE PRESENCE IN TERRITORY AROUND BENHAM PLATEAU PROMPTS COAST GUARD PATROLS (MAR 14/PHILSTAR)  PHILIPPINE STAR -- The Philippine coast guard has decided to patrol waters off the nation's eastern coast for the first time after receiving reports of a Chinese presence in the region, reports the Philippine Star.   The area in question is called the Benham Plateau, also known as the Benham Rise. It is an undersea region in the Philippine Sea about 160 miles (250 km) east of the northern coastline of Isabela province.   Chinese survey ships have been conducting oceanographic research in the region, according to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.   The coast guard has been monitoring Chinese vessels near the Benham Plateau and the western seaboard, including the Recto Bank, said a spokesman for the service. The coast guard has a limited ability to patrol the region, he acknowledged.   The Philippines has not patrolled the region since the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf declared that it was part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone.   The U.N., through the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), recognized Manila's claim in 2012.   Beijing insists that Manila cannot claim the plateau since the Philippines' continental shelf rights do not affect the status of the airspace above it and freedom of navigation through the region
Item Number:12 Date: 03/14/2017 RUSSIA - KREMLIN DENIES ACCOUNTS OF RUSSIAN SPECIAL OPS TROOPS IN WESTERN EGYPT (MAR 14/TASS)  TASS -- The Kremlin has denied media reports about Russian special operations forces being deployed to Egypt, reports Tass (Russia).   U.S. and diplomatic officials told Reuters on Monday that Russia appeared to have recently deployed special operations troops to an airbase at Sidi Barrani in western Egypt, about 60 miles from the border with Libya.   The alleged Russian force could be part of an effort to support Libyan strongman Khalifa Hafter, whose forces lost control several key oil ports earlier this month, said the Western officials.   According to the wire service account, Egyptian security forces acknowledged that there was a 22-member Russian special operations unit, but did not discuss its purpose.   On Tuesday, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said there were no special operations forces in Egypt, calling the report "silly and ridiculous."  
  Item Number:13 Date: 03/14/2017 SOMALIA - AFTER 10 YEARS, AFRICAN UNION NEEDS NEW STABILIZATION STRATEGY (MAR 14/BD)  BUSINESS DAY -- The African Union's special representative for Somalia says the organization's peacekeeping mission to the nation needs a new approach, reports Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa).   Francisco Madeira reviewed the experience of the African Union Mission in Somalia last week during a high-level meeting of A.U. officials in Nairobi, Kenya.   The ongoing military operations against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia may not achieve its goal of bringing sustainable stability to the region, he said.   Somalia's security forces cannot exercise authority in those areas liberated by AMISOM.   The A.U. needs to help develop fully functional Somali security forces and emphasize that the peacekeeping mission cannot remain in that country forever, said Madeira.   The Somali government also needs to do more to address problems such as historical clan rivalry; land ownership and sharing; power sharing; and conditions that attract young people to Al-Shabaab.   AMISOM also needs more funding for non-military peacebuilding activities, said the special representative
Item Number:14 Date: 03/14/2017 SOMALIA - SOMALI PIRATES BELIEVED BEHIND HIJACKING OF OIL TANKER (MAR 14/AFP)  AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE -- Pirates have attacked a commercial ship off Somalia's coast, says a non-governmental organization, as reported by Agence France-Presse.   The crew of the Aris 13 sent out a distress signal on Monday while carrying fuel from Djibouti to Mogadishu, reporting that it was being followed by two skiffs, according to an expert with the NGO.   The oil taker, which is run by a company from the United Arab Emirates and flies the Sri Lankan flag, then disappeared, said John Steed of Oceans Beyond Piracy, an aid group involved in mediation efforts to free the hostages, as reported by the International Business Times.   As of Tuesday, a search was underway for the ship, which was reportedly forced to dock near the town of Alula, in northeastern Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland.   A military maritime patrol aircraft has been deployed, the E.U.'s anti-piracy naval force told the BBC.   If the incident is confirmed, it would represent be the first attack by Somali pirates since 2012.  
  Item Number:15 Date: 03/14/2017 SOUTH KOREA - DEPENDING ON TEST RESULTS, ARMY MAY DRAFT SWARMING DRONES (MAR 14/KT)  KOREA TIMES -- The South Korean army may develop a swarming drone capability for ground and naval operations, according to an unnamed army official cited by the Korea Times.   Research of such possibilities will focus on employing drones equipped with artificial intelligence and armed with explosives, the official said Sunday. Advanced domestic technology will serve as the foundation for the project.   The military will also analyze the effects of drone swarms on naval operations, including port defense, strikes and search-and-rescue.   The results of the studies are due later this year. If they are positive, the army will begin arming some of its drones.   South Korean scientists could use the Raytheon Coyote unmanned aircraft system in combat exercises. It has been successfully tested by the U.S., noted the Yonhap news agency (Seoul
  Item Number:16 Date: 03/14/2017 SOUTH KOREA - SEOUL OVERHAULS PUBLIC SAFETY MINISTRY TO FACE N. KOREAN THREATS (MAR 14/YON)  YONHAP -- The South Korean government has reorganized its public security ministry in an attempt to respond more effectively to North Korean missile and chemical weapons threats, say officials in Seoul, as reported by the Yonhap news agency (South Korea).   The emergency civil defense policy division, part of the Ministry of Public Safety and Security, was elevated and placed under the control of the vice minister's office, said officials on Tuesday.   In addition, a crisis-management support team assigned to prepare against low-intensity attacks from the North was created.   The changes came after it was revealed that Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed in Malaysia with a lethal VX nerve agent.   The ministry also expects to create a long-term plan to increase the number of gas masks available for civil defense staff and other citizens and to build more evacuation facilities, said officials.   The ministry says it also will enhance civil defense education on chemical, biological and radioactive threats and improve existing evacuation facilities to deal with such weapons
Item Number:17 Date: 03/14/2017 SYRIA - OPPOSITION AGREES TO FINAL EVACUATION OF HOMS DISTRICT (MAR 14/AFP)  AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE -- The remaining rebels in western Syrian city of Homs have agreed to evacuate under a deal backed by Russia, reports Agence France-Presse.   Under the agreement, rebels in the besieged al-Waer neighborhood will be allowed to leave beginning on Saturday. The process will take no longer than two months, according to Syria's state news agency SANA.   The pending evacuation will be supervised by the police and the Red Crescent, said Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs province.   A contingent of 60-100 Russian troops will secure the exit route and monitor the deal.   The rebels that leave al-Waer will go to rebel-held areas in northern Homs province, Jarablus in Aleppo province or Idlib province, according to a summary of the agreement that was provided by the opposition coaltion.   Three waves of rebels and their families previously left al-Waer under a deal reached in December 2015. The neighborhood, which is the only remaining rebel-controlled area in Homs, has been hit by heavy airstrikes in recent weeks, noted Al Jazeera (Qatar).  
  Item Number:18 Date: 03/14/2017 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - ARMY AWARDS US$661 MILLION CONTRACT FOR 700 RABDAN WHEELED ARMORED VEHICLES (MAR 14/OTOKAR)  OTOKAR -- The United Arab Emirates military has ordered 8 x 8 wheeled amphibious infantry fighting vehicles based on a Turkish design, reports Otokar, the Turkish manufacturer providing the vehicle design.   The decision to make the purchase followed a commercial/technical evaluation by the U.A.E.'s Tawazun holding company, including extensive all-terrain tests in the Emirate, the company said on Friday.   The vehicle is being developed by Al Jasoor, a joint venture between Tawazun's Heavy Vehicles Industries and Otokar Land Systems UAE, a fully owned subsidiary of Otokar in Turkey.   Al Jasoor will build the vehicles under a US$661 million contract in Abu Dhabi in existing Tawazun facilities.   The vehicles, based on the Otokar Arma design, will be known as the Rabdan in Emirati service. Approximately, 700 vehicles are to be built in different configurations weighing up to 30 metric tons, reported defense-aerospace.com.   The baseline variant will be fitted with the same turret as the Russian BMP-3 tracked armored vehicle, including a 90-mm low-pressure gun and a 30-mm coaxial automatic cannon.  
Item Number:19 Date: 03/14/2017 USA - AIR COMBAT COMMAND WELCOMES GEN. JAMES HOLMES AS NEW CHIEF (MAR 14/AFNS)  AIR FORCE NEWS SERVICE -- Gen. James Holmes has taken command of the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., reports the Air Force News Service.   Holmes succeeded Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle in a Friday ceremony at the 94th Fighter Squadron hangar.   Holmes most recently served as the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements at the Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C.   He is a fighter pilot with more than 4,000 flight hours, including more than 500 in combat, in F-15A/B/C/D/E aircraft, noted the service
Item Number:20 Date: 03/14/2017 USA - ARMY FUNDING TOP PRIORITIES: PREPOSITIONED STOCKS, MUNITIONS, SAYS LOGISTICS CHIEF (MAR 14/ANS)  ARMY NEWS SERVICE -- The U.S. Army's deputy chief of staff for logistics (G-4) says that the service has two major priorities for funding, reports the Army News Service.   Before the House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee on March 8, Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee said that the Army needs more money for prepositioned stocks and certain types of munitions.   Such stocks would be used by combatant commanders for early entry forces, he said. Filling Army Prepositioned Stock 2 in Europe is considered an immediate concern.   The general said the Army is also short of "preferred munitions," including interceptors for Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense air defense systems; Hellfire anti-tank missiles; and Excalibur guided rounds for artillery.   At the same hearing, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Army G-3/5/7, told lawmakers that the Army welcomed authorization to grow the service to 1,018,000 under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2017. The increases, if funded, would be used to fill gaps in existing formations, he said.   The Army still sees a force of 1.2 million as "the one that reduces us to moderate risk."

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