Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TheList 4646


The List 4646


To All
A bit of history and some tidbits.
Regards,
Skip
This Day In Naval History – January 31, 2018
Jan. 31
1944—The Marshall Island Invasion begins with U.S. Marine and Army troops landing at Kwajalein and Majuro atolls and then on Roi and Namur the following day. Vice Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, Task Force 50, commands the overall operation, while the landing force is under the command of Marine Maj. Gen. Holland M. Smith.
1945—USS Boarfish (SS 327) attacks Japanese HI 88 convoy and sinks freighter Enki Maru 50 miles southeast of Tourance, French Indochina. She also damages a cargo ship that runs aground and 14th Air Force aircraft destroys it the next day.
1961—Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. becomes first African-American to command a combat ship, USS Falgout (DER 324). By 1976, he attains the rank of vice admiral.
1968—The main phase of the Tet Offensive begins as Communist Vietnamese troops attack military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam, attempting to incite an uprising in the general populace that will topple the Saigon government.
1981—The era of Enlisted Naval Aviators comes to a close when the last enlisted pilot, Master Chief Robert K. Jones, retires after 38 years of naval service.
 
 
January 31
1606
Guy Fawkes is hanged, drawn and quartered for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up Parliament.
1620
Virginia colony leaders write to the Virginia Company in England, asking for more orphaned apprentices for employment.
1788
The Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart dies.
1835
A man with two pistols misfires at President Andrew Jackson at the White House.
1865
House of Representatives approves a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.
1911
The German Reichstag exempts royal families from tax obligations.
1915
Germans use poison gas on the Russians at Bolimov.
1915
German U-boats sink two British steamers in the English Channel.
1916
President Woodrow Wilson refuses the compromise on Lusitania reparations.
1917
Germany resumes unlimited sub warfare, warning that all neutral ships that are in the war zone will be attacked.
1935
The Soviet premier tells Japan to get out of Manchuria.
1943
The Battle of Stalingrad ends as small groups of German soldiers of the Sixth Army surrender to the victorious Red Army forces.
1944
U.S. troops under Vice Adm. Spruance land on Kwajalien atoll in the Marshall Islands.
1950
Paris protests the Soviet recognition of Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
1966
U.S. planes resume bombing of North Vietnam after a 37-day pause.
1968
In Vietnam, the Tet Offensive begins as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers attack strategic and civilian locations throughout South Vietnam.
1976
Ernesto Miranda, famous from the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda vs. Arizona is stabbed to death.
1981
Lech Walesa announces an accord in Poland, giving Saturdays off to laborers.
 
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This Week in American Military History:
 
Jan. 31, 1974:  The first of three U.S. Army Ranger battalions since World War II is activated.
 
Yes, there were post-war Rangers and Ranger units of varying sizes, but the modern battalion-organization is launched in 1974 by Gen. Creighton Abrams, who proclaims: "The Ranger battalion is to be an elite, light and [the] most proficient infantry battalion in the world; a battalion that can do things with its hands and weapons better than anyone. The battalion will contain no hoodlums or brigands, and if the battalion is formed of such persons it will be disbanded. Wherever the battalion goes it will be apparent that it is the best."
 
 
Feb. 1, 1800:  The frigate USS Constellation (the first of four so-named American warships) under the command of Capt. Thomas Truxtun defeats the French frigate La Vengeance under Capt. F.M. Pitot in a night battle lasting several hours. The engagement, fought during America's Quasi War with France, is -- according to Truxtun -- "as sharp an action as ever was fought between two frigates."
 
Feb. 1, 1862:  Julia Ward Howe's poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which begins "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord," is published in the Atlantic Monthly. It will become a Union Army ballad.
Today, the ballad is a martial hymn sung in American military chapels worldwide and by descendants of Union and Confederate soldiers alike.
 
Feb. 1, 1961:  The Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) -- the first three-staged, solid-fueled ICBM -- is launched for the first time in a successful "all systems" test.
 
Minuteman I is the first missile in the still-operational Minuteman family.
Minuteman IIIs are still deployed. The name "Minuteman" comes from the famous "minutemen" of America's colonial militia.
 
Feb. 1, 2003:  The doomed Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) disintegrates upon reentering the earth's atmosphere, killing all seven crewmembers,
including:
 
•    U.S. Air Force Col. Rick D. Husband, mission commander
•    U.S. Navy Commander William C. McCool, pilot
•    U.S. Navy Capt. David M. Brown, mission specialist
•    U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson, payload specialist
•    U.S. Navy Commander Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist
•    Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon, payload specialist
•    Civilian research scientist Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist
 
Feb. 2, 1848:  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo -- which begins, "In the name of Almighty God" -- is signed by representatives of the United States and Mexico, officially ending the Mexican-American War.  According to the Library of Congress, the treaty "[extends] the boundaries of the United States by over 525,000 square miles. In addition to establishing the Rio Grande as the border between the two countries, the territory acquired by the U.S. included what will become the states of Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming."
 
Feb. 2, 1901:  Congress authorizes the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps under the Army Medical Department.
 
Feb. 3, 1801:  Nearly one year to the day after Constellation's thrashing of La Vengeance, the U.S. Senate ratifies the Mortefontaine treaty, officially ending the Quasi War with France.
 
Feb. 3, 1961:  Two days after the Minuteman I test-launch, the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC) launches its EC-135 flying command post
-- codenamed "Looking Glass" -- in order to maintain seamless and secure command-and-control of U.S. nuclear forces in the event ground-based command-and-control is wiped out in a nuclear attack. "Looking Glass"
aircraft will be airborne 24/7 for the next three decades. According to the U.S. Strategic Command (which replaced SAC): "On July 24, 1990, Looking Glass ceased continuous airborne alert, but remained on ground or airborne alert 24 hours a day."
 
Today, the U.S. Navy's E-6B Mercury is America's "Looking Glass."
Feb. 4, 1779:  Continental Navy Capt. John Paul Jones takes command of the former French frigate, Duc de Duras, renaming her Bonhomme Richard (after Benjamin Franklin's pen name). It will be aboard the Richard -- badly damaged and sinking during the famous battle in the North Sea with the Royal Navy frigate HMS Serapis on Sept. 23 -- that Jones refuses a surrender demand, allegedly replying, "I have not yet begun to fight!" It has also been widely reported that when the Serapis' Captain Richard Pearson inquired as to whether or not Jones had lowered or struck his colors, Jones shouted back, "I may sink, but I'll be damned if I strike!"
 
Incidentally, Bonhomme Richard (the first of five so-named American
warships) does sink: But not before Pearson himself surrenders (believed to be "the first time in naval history that colors are surrendered to a sinking ship"), and Jones transfers his flag to his newly captured prize, Serapis.
 
Jones is destined to become "the Father of the American Navy," though -- in some circles -- it is argued that title belongs to Commodore John Barry.
 
Feb. 4, 1787:  Shays' Rebellion -- a short-lived Massachusetts uprising led by former Continental Army Capt. Daniel Shays and spawned by crippling taxes and an economic depression in the wake of the American Revolution -- is quashed by Massachusetts militia.
 
Feb. 4, 1944:  Kwajalein Atoll is secured by U.S. forces.
 
Feb. 4, 1945:  The Big Three -- U.S. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin -- meet at the Crimea Conference (best known as the Yalta Conference) to discuss among other points what was to become of soon-to-be conquered Germany and the nations the Nazis had previously defeated.
 
Feb. 5, 1918:  U.S. Army Lt. Stephen W. Thompson, a member of the American 1st Aero Squadron, is invited by French aviators to fly in a French Breguet bomber as a gunner on one of their missions. It is on that mission that Thompson shoots down a German Albatross fighter over Saarbrucken, Germany; making him the first American in uniform to shoot down an enemy airplane.
 
Today, the U.S. Air Force's 1st Reconnaissance Squadron traces its lineage back to the 1st Aero Squadron.
 
Feb. 6, 1899:  Nearly 98 years to the day after ratifying the treaty ending the Quasi War with France, the U.S. Senate ratifies another war-ending treaty: this one ending the war with Spain.
 
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Another great H Gram from NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND. Click on the H-Gram -14 below. It also give you access to all the H-
 
H-Gram 014: The Capture of USS Pueblo.
 

In his latest H-Gram, NHHC Director Sam Cox focuses on the seizure of USS Pueblo (AGER-2) by North Korean forces on Jan. 23, 1968. Director Cox discusses the courage and heroism of Pueblo's crew while being in captivity for almost 11 months and the incident's fallout for both the Johnson administration and the U.S. Navy. Pueblo is still a commissioned ship, and it is the second oldest in the Navy's inventory. The ship is on display today in Pyongyang, North Korea, and is used mainly for propaganda purposes by the North Korean regime. To learn more, read H-Gram 014
 
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From CHINFO
Executive Summary:
National news is dominated by President Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday evening, and the firing of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who triggered the false ballistic missile alert earlier this month.  According to New York Times, President Trump called for "steep investments to make the American military 'so strong and powerful'" in his SOTU address. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said that the United States is "redesigning the force" around the challenges of Russia and China, reports Defense News.  Selva stated that this presents a challenge because both countries represent "unique competitions that we have to deal with, and the elements are overlapping but not the same."  The Washington Post reports that Gen. Selva stated that the U.S. could destroy most of the infrastructure involved in North Korea's nuclear missile program, emphasizing that the infrastructure was more than just missiles. "Remember, missile infrastructure is not just the missiles. If you're the poor sergeant that has to go out and launch the missile, and I blow up your barracks, you're not available to go do your job," he said.
 
 
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With our thanks to THE Bear at http://www.rollingthunderremembered.com/
ROLLING THUNDER REMEMBERED… 31 JANUARY 1968… "A TIME OF STORM"…
January 31, 2018   Bear Taylor  
RIPPLE SALVO…#697… TO PARAPHRASE A NEW YORK TIMES OPED FROM 50 YEARS AGO… As President Trump leads the nation in the coming days through a full slate of foreign and domestic crises, he has no heavier responsibility than to look beyond self and beyond November. It is for him to evince independence of mind and courage to change course if need be, qualities which his critics fear are diminishing in his Administration but which alone can safely guide a great people through a time of intense and unrelenting storm…. but first…
Humble Host calls to attention the hot copy of Rear Admiral Denny Wisely, MiG Killer, Tailhooker, Carrier Skipper, and leader of warriors in his useful life of honorable and courageous service for our country. He has extended that extraordinary life by creating out of his unique set of adventures an autobiography he has titled GREEN INK: Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot. I have purchased same and added Green Ink to my Kindle as a priority read. I accessed the purchase through:
Good Morning: Day SIX HUNDRED NINETY-SEVEN of a trip back through a turbulent decade of American history that offers so many lessons for our leaders of today… or to ignore at our nation's risk…
31 JANUARY 1968… HEAD LINES  from The New York Times on a mild and sunny Wednesday in NYC…
TET OFFENSIVE: Page 1: "FOE INVADES U.S. SAIGON EMBASSY–RAIDERS WIPED OUT IN 6-HOURS–VIETCONG WIDEN ATTACKS ON CITIES–Guerrillas Also Strike Presidential Palace and Many Bases"… "A 17-man Vietcong squad seized parts of the United States Embassy in the center of Saigon and held them for six hours early today. The Vietcong, wearing South Vietnamese Army uniforms, held off American military policemen firing machine guns and rocket launchers. Finally the invaders were routed by squads of American paratroopers who landed by helicopter on the roof of the building…. The daring raid was the most dramatic of scores of attacks launched by enemy commando units that carried the Vietcong's Lunar Year offensive to the capital….At least five American military policemen and two United States Marine guards were killed in a wild night that saw the Vietcong terror squad overrun and then hold a section of the embassy grounds against initial attempts by rescue forces to fight their way in…. An initial count by military policemen said that there were 17 bodies of Vietcong after the fight ended... Page 1: "U.S. Aide In Embassy Villa Kills Guerrillas With Pistol"…Page 1: "Ambassador Safe–Guerrillas Also Strike Presidential Palace and Main Base"… Page 1: "Johnson Receives Flow Of Reports–He meets With Advisors On Saigon Raid, Viewed As New Step Up In War"..."…bold commando raid…viewed here a part of a well-planned intensification of the war by enemy forces took the Administration by surprise… Some officials termed the embassy raid and the attacks on seven provincial capitals, American airfields and scores of other allied facilities as the Vietcong's single biggest coordinated terrorist offensive in the war, apparently designed for shock effect. They said they expected more of the same."...
 
Thanks to THE Bear for passing news of RADM Wisely's new Kindle ebook
Denny... congratulations on the achievement... I have made you a few coins richer with a six-buck buy of Green Ink on Kindle AP... A review will take a week, but I will plug it on my blog tomorrow... well done, old fighter puke... Bear
 

On Jan 29, 2018, at 4:59 PM, Denny Wisely  wrote:
Bear,
I have launched my book on Amazon ebooks.  I would be honored if you read it and write a review.
All the best,
Denny
 
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Item Number:1 Date: 01/31/2018 CHINA - LARGE MILITARY AIRCRAFT GOES DOWN DURING TRAINING FLIGHT (JAN 31/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- A Chinese military aircraft has crashed during a training exercise in the southwestern Guizhou province, reports the South China Morning Post.   The unidentified aircraft crashed in Zhengchang township, Suiyang county, on Monday, reported the Beijing News.   "A plane from the air force crashed during a domestic flying exercise in Guizhou," the air force said in a statement. A rescue operation was underway.   Phoenix TV, based in Hong Kong, showed footage of a large twin-engine aircraft on fire in mid-flight on its website.   The military has stepped up the pace of training in response to President Xi Jinping's directive to mold the People's Liberation Army into a modern, combat-ready force.   Analysts have warned that increased training could lead to more accidents.  
  Item Number:2 Date: 01/31/2018 CHINA - MILITARY SEEKS TO BOLSTER NUCLEAR DETERRENT IN RESPONSE TO U.S. MOVES (JAN 31/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- A Chinese newspaper closely tied to the military has called for Beijing to grow its nuclear stockpile to enhance its deterrence and counter-strike capabilities, reports the South China Morning Post.   China has sufficient nuclear weapons to prevent "bullying" by other nuclear powers, but must respond to recent changes in U.S. strategy, said a commentary in the PLA Daily on Tuesday.   "To enhance China's strategic counterbalance in the region and maintain China's status as a great power, and protect national security, China has to beef up and develop a reliable nuclear deterrence capability," said the commentary.   China will retain its "no first use" doctrine, indicating that there are no circumstances that would lead Beijing to launch nuclear weapons first.   The move follows reports on a leaked draft of the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review earlier this month. The document calls for a major nuclear modernization as well as the deployment of more low-yield weapons.   Beijing may increase its nuclear warhead stockpile, but has no plans to try and rival the U.S., analysts said.   China has never publicized the size of its nuclear arsenal. The Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C., has estimated Beijing to have around 270 nuclear warheads.  
  Item Number:3 Date: 01/31/2018 FRANCE - SAFRAN TO DEVELOP GROUND ROBOT PROTOTYPES FOR MILITARY (JAN 31/SAFRAN)  SAFRAN GROUP -- The French defense procurement agency, DGA, has awarded Safran Electronics & Defense a contract to develop land robots for the French armed forces, reports the French defense firm.   The five-year "Furious" project is part of an effort to integrate unmanned ground vehicles with French military forces as part of the Scorpion modernization program, said Safran.   The program involves the development of three robot demonstrators, each of a different size and mission. The vehicles will then be deployed with an infantry platoon for testing.   The eRider autonomous vehicle, developed by Safran in conjunction with French vehicle firms Valeo and PSA, will be the largest of the demonstrators.   Safran is teaming with a variety of small and medium enterprises and academia to meet the program's requirements.   The first phase is scheduled to be completed in 18 months, said Safran.  
  Item Number:4 Date: 01/31/2018 ISRAEL - TOP HAMAS OFFICIAL DIES AFTER ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING (JAN 31/UPI)  UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL -- A senior official in the Hamas militant group who reportedly shot himself in the head earlier this month has died, reports United Press International.   Imad al-Alami's death was announced Tuesday.   Alami had been on life support at a hospital in the Gaza Strip since Jan. 9.  He reportedly shot himself in the head while examining a personal weapon in his home.   While many sources have circulated this account, independent confirmation has not been possible and rumors have suggested that he committed suicide or was assassinated.   Hamas stands by its account of Alami's death.   Alami, 62, was a founding member of Hamas, joining founder Ahmed Yassin and others in 1987, noted Al Quds Al Arabi (London).   He was active in Hamas' media efforts and considered a key representative for the group in Iran
Item Number:5 Date: 01/31/2018 NIGERIA - BAYELSA STATE OBTAINS NEW EQUIPMENT FOR SECURITY FORCES (JAN 31/DTRUST)  DAILY TRUST -- The Bayelsa state government in Nigeria has announced the acquisition of new vehicles and boats for various security forces protecting waterways in the state, reports the Daily Trust (Abuja).   Around 100 patrol vehicles and 16 gunboats have been acquired for the marine police and other agencies, state government officials said.   The government has also recruited and trained more than 500 people for a new special task force that will support state security agencies.   Security in the coastal state has been improving since 2012, officials said.  
  Item Number:6 Date: 01/31/2018 NORTH KOREA - PYONGYANG PLANNING TO SHOW OFF ICBMS AHEAD OF OLYMPICS (JAN 31/CNN)  CABLE NEWS NETWORK -- North Korea is planning to parade dozens of long-range missiles shortly before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, reports CNN.   The parade, scheduled for Feb. 8, the day before the Olympics kick off, is expected to include dozens of Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles, which were first test-fired in late November, two diplomatic sources said.   The sources also said a missile test "in the near future" is possible.   The parade is likely an attempt to scare Americans during a brief period of relative calm before the Olympics, said a source.   Foreign media will not be allowed to cover the event. North Korea previously invited media cover such parades.   Observers celebrated previous talks that led to a joint North-South Olympic ice hockey team. Missile tests, which escalated tensions through 2017 and 2018, have slowed but talks have stalled around other issues.  
  Item Number:7 Date: 01/31/2018 PAKISTAN - AFGHAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF, INTERIOR MINISTER IN ISLAMABAD TO DISCUSS TERRORISM (JAN 31/RFE/RL)  RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY -- Afghanistan's intelligence head and interior minister are in Pakistan to discuss security concerns with Pakistani officials, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   Masoom Stanekzai, head of the National Security Directorate, and Interior Minister Wais Barmak arrived in Islamabad unannounced on Wednesday.   The Afghan government requested the meeting to deliver a "a message from the Afghan president" and discuss cooperation, said a spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry.   The Afghan officials will share evidence pertaining to recent terrorist attacks in Kabul, said an Afghan spokesman. The information will show a link between the attacks and individuals located in Pakistan, reported Reuters.   A Pakistani delegation is scheduled to visit Afghanistan on February 3 to discuss issues including counterterrorism cooperation with Afghan officials.   Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan by the Islamic State and the Taliban have killed scores of people in January
Item Number:8 Date: 01/31/2018 PAKISTAN - NEW PHONE APPLICATION ALLOWS USERS TO REPORT EXTREMISM (JAN 31/VOA)  VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS -- The Pakistani government has launched a smart phone application that will allow people to easily report extremist content, reports the Voice of America News.   The application, Surfsafe, was developed by the National Counter Terrorism Authority, and is designed for both Android and iOS devices.   The application is part of the implementation of the 2015 National Action Plan, a comprehensive attempt to crack down on terrorism and extremism.   While the effort demonstrated an increasing willingness from Islamabad to deal with the problem, observers said many groups are more tech-savvy than government agents trying to counter them.   Some critics argue that focusing on cyber activities would be of limited use it the government is not willing to tackle extremist groups on the ground.   A report published by Dawn (Pakistan) last year found that 41 of 64 banned terror organizations in Pakistan operate openly on social media
Item Number:9 Date: 01/31/2018 SOMALIA - REGIONAL ARMY COMMANDER KILLED IN AMBUSH IN BAY REGION (JAN 31/GAROWE)  GAROWE ONLINE -- A high-ranking Somali army officer and three other soldiers were killed in an attack on their convoy in the Bay region in southern Somalia, reports Garowe Online (Somalia).   Lt. Col. Abdirahman Osman Abrone, the head of southwest regional forces in the Burhakaba district, was killed when he and his security detachment was ambushed by militants shortly after leaving Burhakabo for Baidoa city early on Monday.   The Al-Shabaab terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Andalus radio channel.   Seven Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the gunfight that followed, which lasted for several hours, said a spokesman for the southwest region cited by the Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu
Item Number:10 Date: 01/31/2018 SYRIA - SOCHI SUMMIT ENDS WITH PLANS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE (JAN 31/ANADOLU)  ANADOLU NEWS AGENCY -- A conference to promote dialogue among warring parties in Syria has ended with a proposal to form a constitutional committee to advise on changes to the current constitution, reports Turkey's Anadolu Agency.   The committee would involve the Syrian government and a widely representative opposition delegation to work on constitutional reforms, said a statement following the talks. The U.N.-led Geneva process would be used for final agreement on the mandate and composition of the committee.   The development has been viewed as a victory for Moscow, which has sought to change the focus of the discussions away from replacing President Bashar Assad.   Others say the lack of serious opposition participation prevented any real progress.   The two-day Syrian National Dialogue Congress ended on Tuesday with the proposal, despite an opposition boycott of the proceedings during the second day.   The outcome of the discussions was decided from the start, opposition figures alleged to the New York Times.   Participants from Damascus -- some of them members of tolerated domestic movements -- were given strict instructions, said opposition sources. These included not shaking hands with representatives from rebel groups, not discussing any changes to the country's security forces and no mention of removing Assad.   "We reject the establishment of any constitutional commission at this stage," said a spokeswoman for the Syrian Negotiation Commission, the main opposition bloc. The group seeks a transitional government first, reported Al Jazeera (Qatar).   Organized by Ankara, Moscow and Tehran, the summit was said to bring all the interested domestic and foreign parties to the table. More than 1,500 representatives, diplomats and leaders were scheduled to participate.   It was billed as an alternative to the U.N.-sponsored Geneva talks, which have been boycotted by Damascus and have failed to achieve tangible results. 
  Item Number:11 Date: 01/31/2018 SYRIA - TESTS LINK GOVERNMENT STOCKPILES TO CHEMICAL ATTACKS (JAN 31/REU)  REUTERS -- Laboratory tests have linked the Syrian government's chemical stockpiles to the largest chemical weapon attack of the civil war, reports Reuters.   The tests by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) supports claims that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad was behind the attacks involving sarin nerve agent, diplomats and scientists told the news service.   The tests examined soil samples taken from the site of three chemical attacks. The first came from Ghouta, where an attack on Aug. 21, 2013, killed hundreds of civilians.   The samples were compared with chemicals handed over by the Syrian government for disposal in 2014, said OPCW officials.   The second sample came from Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, where on April 4, 2017, at least 80 people were killed in a chemical attack.   The final sample was from Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, where a March 2013 chemical attack killed 26 people.   The soil samples contained a common marker between all three of the samples, bolstering claims that a single perpetrator -- the Assad government -- was behind the attacks.   Two compounds, one from sarin and hexamine (a stabilizer) and another that is a fluorophosphate byproduct of sarin, were found in the Ghouta and Khan Sheikhoun samples   The findings are the strongest evidence so far that Damascus carried out the Ghouta attacks, experts said.   It would have been exceedingly difficult for rebels to have carried out an attack with such a delicate and dangerous compound, observers said
Item Number:12 Date: 01/31/2018 TURKEY - ERDOGAN, PUTIN AGREE TO SET UP OBSERVATION POSTS IN IDLIB AMID ESCALATING OPERATIONS (JAN 31/REU)  REUTERS -- Turkey and Russia have agreed to increase efforts set up observation posts in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, reports Reuters.   Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, reached the agreement in a telephone call on Wednesday, reported Turkey's Anadolu Agency.   The announcement comes amid Turkey's continuing operation in Aleppo, north of Idlib, and a major push by the Syrian government and Russia into the province, one of the last rebel strongholds.   The competing operations have created the potential for conflict between the two sides. On Sunday, a convoy of 100 Turkish military vehicles came under government fire as they passed through al-Eiss in southern Aleppo province.   Less than 25 miles (40 km) away, Syrian government forces are fighting to retake the Abu Dhuhour airport from rebels led by Hatay Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). HTS reportedly provided protection for the Turkish convoy.   At least 100 airstrikes have been launched against rebel positions in Idlib in the last 24 hours, reported the pro-Damascus Al Masdar News
Item Number:13 Date: 01/31/2018 TURKEY - UPGRADED HURKUS TRAINER MAKES INITIAL FLIGHT (JAN 31/ANADOLU)  ANADOLU NEWS AGENCY -- The Hurkus-B training aircraft, domestically developed and upgraded by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), has made its first flight, reports the state-run Anadolu Agency (Ankara).   The Hurkus-B, an improved variant of the Hurkus-A trainer, completed its maiden flight on Jan. 30, according to a TAI release.   The upgraded trainer will complete 90 hours of flight-testing before entering Turkish air force service in mid-2018, the company said.   The Hurkus-B is about 220 pounds (100 kg) lighter than its predecessor and is faster and more powerful, TAI officials said. The trainer has been developed specifically for the Turkish air force
Item Number:14 Date: 01/31/2018 USA - NAVAIR SEEKS REAPER DRONE TO SUPPORT MARINES IN HELMAND (JAN 31/MIL)  MILITARY.COM -- The Naval Air Systems Command is moving forward with the lease of an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle to support Marine advisers in Helmand in southern Afghanistan, reports Military.com.   Plans call for leasing the Reaper for up to 12 months to support the Marine Corps Task Force Southwest, according to a pre-solicitation notice issued earlier this month.   The drone would allow the Marines to conduct more persistent overwatch in the region without having to coordinate with other services.   The capability will give the Marine advisers "more capacity to assist our Afghan partners as they conduct continuous offensive operations" in Helmand, said Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, the task force commander.   The Marines want the Reaper to be in-theater by March, the solicitation said
Item Number:15 Date: 01/31/2018 USA - PENTAGON RESTRICTS INFORMATION IN WATCHDOG REPORTS ON AFGHANISTAN (JAN 31/BLOOMBERG)  BLOOMBERG NEWS -- The U.S. Dept. of Defense has prohibited an official watchdog from providing certain unclassified data in his reports on the war in Afghanistan, reports Bloomberg News.   For the first time since 2009, the Pentagon did not allow the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to release his assessment of Afghan force strength or provide a breakdown of territory held by the government, lost to militants or contested, said John Sopko in his latest quarterly report.   The information is provided in an annex not being made available to the public, reported the Stars and Stripes.   "Historically, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the government has been falling," Sopko wrote. "The number controlled or influenced by the insurgents has been rising -- a fact that should cause even more concern about its disappearance from public disclosure and discussion."   Several other measures for monitoring development and strength of Afghan security forces were classified or restricted in the fall, including casualty and attrition rates, said the inspector general.   The Pentagon made public figures comparable to those the SIGAR is now forbidden to publish in December, Sopko noted in his report.   The Defense Dept. has said that about 64 percent of Afghanistan's population lives in areas under government control, with 12 percent under insurgent control and the other 24 percent in contested areas, Sopko said.   Areas under government control have been shrinking since the SIGAR staff began reporting the data in January 2016.  
  Item Number:16 Date: 01/31/2018 YEMEN - SOUTHERN LEADER SUPPORTS FIGHTING HOUTHIS BUT WON'T ANSWER INDEPENDENCE QUESTION (JAN 31/REU)  REUTERS -- The leader of secessionist fighters who have taken over Aden, the temporary capital of Yemen, says he will fight the Houthi rebels but will not give up on ambitions for a state in the south, reports Reuters.   In an interview with France 24, Aydaroos al-Zubaydi said that his forces are committed to fighting the Houthis who overran the northern part of the country in 2015.   This remains a shared goal between southern fighters and the Saudi-led coalition, he said.   Zubaydi also promised to work with the "Northern Resistance" led by the son of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The former president was killed in December after publicly switching sides against the Houthis.   He reiterated his support for the southern cause but declined to state whether he intended to establish an independent administration in Aden.   "We have tasks alongside the Arab coalition and its Decisive Storm (operation). But the people of the South have the right to their own state when the international community is ready for that," Zubaydi said.   On Tuesday, fighters advocating southern secession took over the southern city of Aden, placing the prime minister under house arrest.   Yemen was first unified in the modern era in 1991. Tensions between the north and south have persisted.
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