Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fw: TheList 4655

The List 4655

To All
I hope that your week has started well
This Day In Naval History – February 13, 2018
Feb. 13
1854 - Admiral Perry anchors off Yokosuka, Japan to receive Emperor's reply to treaty proposal
1913—The Naval Radio Station, Arlington, VA, begins operations. The station is a pioneer in communications, most notably with ether wave experiments with the Eiffel Tower in France.
1917—Marine Capt. Francis T. Evans performs the first loop with a seaplane in an N-9 float plane at 3,000 feet, then forces it into a spin and successfully recovers. For this contribution to the science of aviation, he is later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
1943—Women Marines were reestablished as Marine Corps Women's Reserve. Col. Ruth Cheney Streeter, the first Director of the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve, serves until December 7, 1945.
1945 - First naval units enter Manila Bay since 1942
1945—USS Sennet (SS 408) is damaged by gunfire of Japanese gunboat (No.8 Kotoshiro Maru or No.3 Showa Maru), east of Tanega Shima, but then Sennett sinks No.8 Kotoshiro Maru after it had been shelled by USS Lagarto (SS 371) and USS Haddock (SS 231). Haddock then sinks No.3 Showa Maru, which had already been shelled by Lagarto and Sennett.
1968 - Operation Coronado XI begins in Mekong Delta
1945 Royal Air force Lancaster Bombers firebomb Dresden Killing 135,000
February 13
Polycarp, a disciple of St. John and Bishop of Smyrna, is martyred on the west coast of Asia Minor.
Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, is beheaded for adultery.
British Parliament adopts the Bill of Rights.
In the Glen Coe highlands of Scotland, thirty-eight members of the MacDonald clan are murdered by soldiers of the neighboring Campbell clan for not pledging allegiance to William of Orange. Ironically the pledge had been made but not communicated to the clans. The event is remembered as the Massacre of Glencoe.
The four day Battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, begins.
The Confederacy approves the recruitment of slaves as soldiers, as long as the approval of their owners is gained.
Jesse James holds up his first bank.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is founded.
First social security checks are put in the mail.
The Royal Air Force Bomber Command devastates the German city of Dresden with night raids by 873 heavy bombers. The attacks are joined by 521 American heavy bombers flying daylight raids.
A mob burns a radio station in Ecuador after the broadcast of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds."
At the Battle of Chipyong-ni, in Korea, U.N. troops contain the Chinese forces' offensive in a two-day battle.
The Pope asks the United States to grant clemency to convicted spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.
The United States sends 10,500 more combat troops to Vietnam.
General Motors is reportedly redesigning automobiles to run on unleaded fuel.
Enemy attacks in Vietnam decline for the third day as the United States continues its intensive bombing strategy.
Konstantin Chernenko is selected to succeed Yuri Andropov as Party General Secretary in the Soviet Union.
Thanks to CHINFO
Executive Summary:
National headlines cover Donald Trump Jr.'s wife, Vanessa, being taken to a hospital as a precaution after opening an envelope containing white powder; Amazon laying off hundreds of employees; and 17-year-old American Chloe Kim winning gold in the snowboarding halfpipe. reports that a new 30-year shipbuilding plan released by the Navy alongside its fiscal 2019 budget request Monday shows a path to its desired buildup that increases procurement of large and small combatants and leverages service-life extension programs to reach the 355-ship target sometime after 2050.  Additionally, the proposed budget calls for 7,500 more sailors to be added to the ranks over last year's request, reports Navy Times.  Bloomberg News reports on President Trump's $686 billion defense request for the coming fiscal year that would propel the Navy toward a new goal of 355 ships as well as boost missile defense spending.
With our thanks to THE Bear at
February 13, 2018   Bear Taylor  
RIPPLE SALVO… #710… THANK YOU HUNGARY… As a consequence of the Hungarian diplomats suggestion, as the exclusive go-between the US and North Korea, the USS Enterprise was ordered out of the Sea of Japan as "a gesture of conciliation to encourage the North Koreans to release the Pueblo and the 82 men in her crew."… at least, that's what they said… but first…
Good Morning: Day SEVEN HUNDRED TEN of a return to Southeast Asia and the air war over North Vietnam, when the weather permits…
13 FEBRUARY 1968…HEAD LINES… from The New York Times on a cloudy, cold Tuesday in New York…
TET OFFENSIVE/KHESANH: Page 1: "GI's AND VIETCONG FIGHT TWO BATTLES–95 OF ENEMY KILLED IN CLASHES–Rockets Hit Base In Bien Hoa–Foe's Goals Restudied–No Major Attacks Initiated By Enemy, But More Expected"... "American riflemen fought Vietnam guerrillas twice yesterday in widely separated regions of South Vietnam. about 350 men of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade reported having killed 78 Vietcong soldiers near the coastal town of Quangngai in the northern part of South Vietnam. One American was killed and four were wounded. In a suburb of Saigon, men of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade fought small groups of guerrillas and reported having killed 17 of them…. At 3 this morning the air base at Bien Hoa, 15 miles northeast of Saigon, was hit by 10 rounds of 122mm rocket fire. Two Americans were wounded, but damage to aircraft was described as 'very light.'… almost all the military planners here are agreed on is that  a major Vietnamese assault wil be launched against the big United States Marine combat outpost of Khesanh, near the Laotian border. In a sense the Tet Offensive began–after months of relative quiet–with the first heavy shelling on January 21, but it is still in the preparatory phase, the sources said… Khesanh was reported to be quiet today, but there is almost always some shelling there."… Khesahn Air Support: "To disrupt enemy operations United States aircraft continued a massive bombardment of the hills, gorges and forests around the camp. Jet fighter-bombers flew 261 bombing sorties–more than are sometimes flown throughout South Vietnam in less critical times–and used about 1.3 million pounds of bombs and napalm. Other unannounced bombing raids are taking place in eastern Laos to disrupt movement on the Ho Chi Minh Trail…
Another great H-Gram from Admiral Cox and the NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
H-Gram 015: "Take Her Down!" and "Remember the Maine!
6 February 2018 
75th Anniversary of World War II
"Take Her Down!"— Commander Howard Gilmore and USS Growler (SS-215)
"For distinguished gallantry above and beyond the call of duty." In the night of 7 February 1943, Commander Howard Gilmore, USN, sacrificed his life to save his boat and his men, becoming the first submariner in World War II to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Gilmore had already been awarded two Navy Crosses for his valor on the first two war patrols of USS Growler (SS-215), including sinking the Japanese destroyer Arare and damaging two other destroyers (and barely dodging their torpedo counter-attack) in one attack on his first patrol near Kiska in the Aleutians. Prior to the war, as executive officer of the submarine Shark (SS-174), Gilmore had survived having his throat cut while ashore in Panama. Gilmore's luck ran out on Growler's fourth patrol. While approaching a Japanese convoy for a night surface attack in the shipping lane between Truk and Rabaul, an alert Japanese ship (the food supply vessel Hayasaki) spotted and attempted to ram Growler. In the brief melee that followed, Growler actually rammed the Hayasaki instead, resulting in serious damage to the submarine's bow and disabling her forward torpedo tubes. At near-point-blank range, Japanese machine-gun fire hit Growler's bridge, killing the junior officer of the deck and a lookout, and wounding two other men and Gilmore. Gilmore's wounds were serious.  In the interval it took to get the wounded men and bridge team below, Gilmore realized he could not get off the bridge in time for Growler to escape, and gave the order to "Take her down!" with him still topside. The executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Arnold Schade, dazed as a result of falling from the conning tower, hesitated only momentarily before obeying his skipper's order and submerging the boat. Both vessels actually survived the encounter (Hayasaki survived the war and was turned over to the Soviet Union as reparations). Schade took Growler back at daylight to the scene of action in a vain attempt to find his skipper.
Growler made it back to Brisbane, Australia, where she was repaired with a refabricated bow decorated with two nickel kangaroos, earning her the nickname "Kangaroo Express." Schade was awarded a Navy Cross for his action in bringing the severely damaged boat to safety; he would go on to complete 11 war patrols, eight as commanding officer, earning a Silver Star and eventually retiring as a vice admiral. Thanks to Gilmore's sacrifice, Growler made seven more war patrols, sinking the destroyer Shikinami, the frigate Hirado, and several cargo vessels, and rescuing Allied prisoners-of-war from a sunken Japanese "hell ship." Growler's luck ran out on 8 November 1944 during her 11th war patrol, when she was lost while attempting to attack a Japanese convoy off Mindoro, Philippines. The submarine was probably sunk by the convoy's escorts, two coastal defense ships and the destroyer Shigure (a storied ship that had been sole survivor of several brutal battles, although her luck ran out on 24 January 1945, when she fell prey to Blackfin (SS-322)), although it is also possible that Growler was sunk by one of her own torpedoes.  Please see attachment H-015-1 for Commander Howard Gilmore's Medal of Honor citation.
Guadalcanal Campaign: Battle of Rennell Island and Operation Ke
In late January 1943, all the intelligence indicators strongly pointed to another major Japanese effort to retake Guadalcanal similar to the pushes in September, October, and November that had all resulted in horrific battles ashore, at sea, and in the air. In response to the Japanese build-up at Truk and Rabaul, Admiral Nimitz committed virtually the entire operational U.S. Pacific Fleet to Vice Admiral Halsey's South Pacific Force. Both operational carriers (the repaired USS Enterprise (CV-6)—and USS Saratoga (CV-3)) three modern battleships, additional cruisers (including three new-construction Cleveland-class light cruisers) waited south of Guadalcanal to counter, or preferably ambush, the reconstituted Japanese carrier force when it came. Three times in the first week of February 1943, a force of over 20 Japanese destroyers (the "Reinforcement Group") steamed to Guadalcanal, fighting off long-range U.S. air attacks at dusk, and the first night engaging in a vicious fight with U.S. PT-boats that resulted in the loss of three PT-boats and one Japanese destroyer. Intelligence provided to U.S. Army Major General Alexander Patch (who had relieved Marine Major General Alexander Vandegrift and the 1st Marine Division in command of U.S. forces on Guadalcanal) suggested the Japanese had landed at least a regiment of troops on the island (which wasn't much compared to U.S. troop strength that would soon reach 50,000). It wasn't until 7 February that advancing U.S. Army troops realized that they were only being opposed by Japanese troops who couldn't walk, armed only with a rifle, poison pills, and orders to do what they could to slow down the U.S. troops, with their names meticulously recorded by the Japanese so their sacrifice would never be forgotten. Only then did the Americans realize we'd been had by one of the most effective deception operations by any side in the war. Operation Ke was an evacuation, not a reinforcement, and the Japanese successfully withdrew over 10,000 troops without significant loss from the island, albeit leaving behind over 20,000 dead and a handful of dying (and another 10,000 who had been previously lost at sea, including about 3,800 Japanese Imperial Navy sailors.)
The weeks between the U.S. debacle at the Battle of Tassafaronga on 30 November 1942 and the start of Operation Ke were marked by several largely forgotten but bloody battles between the U.S. and Japanese navies. With the loss of a heavy cruiser and three more heavy cruisers put out of action for months at Tassafaronga, the U.S. stopped sending large ships into Ironbottom Sound, leaving the PT-boat squadrons (Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla One) based at Tulagi to oppose further efforts by the Japanese "Tokyo Express" to get supplies to their troops on Guadalcanal. On the next Tokyo Express run after Tassafaronga, on 3 December, the U.S. PT-boats accomplished the same thing as the U.S. cruisers had (preventing the resupply effort) at far less cost. The Japanese only attempted one more  supply run, this one more successful, on 11 December. In January, U.S. surface ships began to venture for the first time up "The Slot" toward the central Solomon Islands to bombard a Japanese airfield being constructed (and soon abandoned) on Munda. A Japanese air attack following the bombardment mission saw the combat debut of the highly secret variable-time (VT) fuze ammunition for the 5-inch/38-caliber guns aboard the new U.S. cruisers. With the 5-inch VT fuze and the Bofors 40-mm guns (which had made their debut at the Battle of Santa Cruz on October 1942), U.S. surface ships finally had reliable anti-aircraft guns that could knock down Japanese aircraft prior to weapons' release, while the increasingly dense thicket of Oerlikon 20-mm guns on U.S. ships ensured that many Japanese aircraft that got through the 5-inch and Bofors wouldn't come back a second time.
At end of January, the Japanese got in two more severe blows on the U.S. Navy. The Japanese deployed two elite squadrons of G4M Betty bombers that had been extensively trained to conduct night torpedo attacks, and on the night of 29 January, the Bettys hit the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29)—survivor of the Battle of Savo Island—with two torpedoes near Rennell Island, southwest of Guadalcanal. Through valiant damage control efforts by Chicago's crew, the crippled ship was kept afloat and was being towed from the battle area by USS Louisville (CA-28). However, a series of tactical blunders, which caused even the normally even-tempered Nimitz to blow his stack, left the Chicago vulnerable to air attack late the next afternoon. Despite heavy losses, Japanese bombers hit the cruiser with four more torpedoes, sending her to the bottom, and also damaged the destroyer La Vallette (DD-448) with a torpedo. On 1 February, Japanese dive bombers caught the destroyer De Haven (DD-469) off the north shore of Guadalcanal, hitting her in the forward magazine and causing a massive explosion that sent her to the depths of Ironbottom Sound with most of her crew, including her skipper, Commander Charles Tolman. De Haven wouldn't be the last; in April 1943, Japanese bombers would sink the destroyer Aaron Ward (DD-483)—survivor of the Battle of Friday the 13th—off Guadalcanal.
With the Battle of Rennell Island and the end of Operation Ke, the Guadalcanal campaign was effectively over (although the last Japanese holdout on the island didn't surrender until October 1947). After six months of some of most vicious combat in the history of naval warfare, the increasingly strong U.S. Navy was in possession of the waters around the eastern Solomons. The cost to both sides had been extremely heavy, and roughly even at sea and in the air. On land, Japanese army casualties greatly exceeded those of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army. The Battle of Midway stopped the Japanese advance, but the Guadalcanal campaign was the true turning point of the war in the Pacific. The cost to the U.S. Navy included two aircraft carriers, five heavy cruisers (plus one Australian heavy cruiser), two light cruisers, 15 destroyers, three destroyer-transports, and one transport, plus about 615 aircraft (of all services, including 90 carrier-based) and just under 5,000 Sailors killed (including 130 naval aviators and air crew, plus 92 Australian and New Zealand naval personnel, but not including 49 Marines embarked aboard ship). Almost three times as many American Sailors died at sea defending Guadalcanal as American Marines and Army personnel died on it. During the brutal six-month campaign, the U.S. Navy "abandoned" the U.S. Marines for a grand total of four days, yet that myth lives on. However, to the Corps' credit, they remember and venerate the extraordinary sacrifice and valor of the Marines who held that embattled disease-ridden island against repeated Japanese attacks, while the U.S. Navy has largely forgotten the extraordinary sacrifice and valor of those Sailors who enabled the Marines to hold fast. For more on the end of the Guadalcanal campaign, please see attachment H-015-2.
120th Anniversary of Spanish-American War
Remember the Maine!"
On the evening of 15 February 1898, in the harbor of Havana in the Spanish colony of Cuba, a forward magazine on the second-class battleship USS Maine exploded, sinking the ship. The catastrophic event killed 253 of the ship's 355 crewmen; eight others died later from wounds or shock. Of the 94 survivors, only 16 were uninjured. Despite multiple investigations, what caused the magazine to explode has never been conclusively determined. An internal coal fire is the most common explanation in modern literature, but there are some serious weaknesses in that explanation as well. Other U.S. Navy ships narrowly avoided such disaster from spontaneous combustion of bituminous coal during this time frame, but this was a well-known danger, with procedures in place to counter it. Regardless, U.S. newspapers immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Maine had been destroyed by a mine planted by the Spanish. Tensions between the United States and Spain at the time were very high, as American public opinion had been inflamed by reports of Spanish atrocities (some true, most not) committed against the Cuban population that was attempting to gain its independence. The Maine had been sent to Havana as a show of force in support of U.S. interests in Cuba during the rebellion. When the United States declared war on Spain two months later in April 1898, the destruction of the Maine was not listed as a cause for war. Nevertheless, the phrase "Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!", which accurately reflected widespread American public opinion, certainly affected the vote of Congress in favor of war.
Most investigations on the loss of the Maine have focused on the technical evidence to prove or disprove the mine theory, which generally remains inconclusive. Much less has been written on "what did Spain have to gain by such an action?" The Spanish clearly understood the technical and numerical inferiority of their navy at the time; they had no interest in getting into a war with the United States. After the event, Spain repeatedly offered to conduct a joint investigation into the sinking. No evidence has ever surfaced as to who would have mined the Maine, how they did it, and why they did it. If it was a plot by someone, they covered their tracks exceedingly well. Not surprisingly, the current communist government in Cuba claims that the United States deliberately blew up their own ship as a pretext to go to war with Spain and take over Cuba as an American colony. There is no actual evidence for this theory either.
In Naval Academy lore, the Maine is claimed to be the longest ship in the Navy because the mainmast is at Arlington National Cemetery (along with most of the crew) and the damaged foremast is at the Naval Academy. As it turns out, there are guns and other parts of the Maine scattered in cities all over the eastern United States, including at the Washington Navy Yard (currently undergoing conservation and restoration). For more on the sinking of the Maine, please see attachment H-015-3.
Published:Tue Feb 13 08:13:37 EST 2018
Item Number:1 Date: 02/13/2018 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA - SERB POLICE EXPECTING 2,500 AUTOMATIC RIFLES, STOKING ETHNIC TENSIONS (FEB 13/GUARDIAN)  GUARDIAN -- Police in Serbian areas of Bosnia are expecting major shipments of arms, stoking concerns of increasing ethnic tensions and growing Russian influence, reports the Guardian (U.K.).   The Republic of Srpska, the Serb-run part of Bosnia, anticipates receiving 2,500 automatic rifles from Serbia in March.   The move coincides with the opening of a new police training center, which Russian officers are expected to staff.   Recent E.U. efforts to develop the country's nascent democracy underlie lingering ethnic tensions and political parties that exploit ethnic grievances.   Some worry that a newly armed police force could be used to intimidate political opponents of Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik ahead of elections scheduled for October. The force could be used in a push for independence, which could launch a new conflict in the region, analysts said.   Serbian officials point to a 2015 attack on a Serb-Bosnian police station in Zvornik that killed a police officer and wounded two others as justification for a heavily-armed counterterrorism force
Item Number:2 Date: 02/13/2018 CHINA - J-20 ENTERS SERVICE WITH OLDER POWERPLANTS DUE TO ENGINE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES (FEB 13/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- The Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) fielded its J-20 stealthy fighter ahead of schedule last year, forcing the service to use older powerplants for the jets, reports the South China Morning Post.   The J-20 was equipped with WS-10B engines, a modified version of the WS-10 Taihang engine designed for the J-10 and J-11 jets, because the WS-15 powerplant designed for it suffered from "critical problems," according to independent military sources.   The WS-15 engine exploded during a ground test in 2015, the sources said. The issue had still not been resolved by March 2017, when the J-20 entered service.   There were a number of reasons for the explosion, including quality control of its single-crystal turbine blades, said one source.   The J-20 is supposed to have a supercruise capability, which means the jet can fly faster than the speed of sound without using its afterburner. With the less powerful WS-10B engine equipped, the J-20 lacks this capability.  
  Item Number:4 Date: 02/13/2018 INDONESIA - SEPARATIST MILITANTS KILL SOLDIER IN PAPUA (FEB 13/NETRAL)  NETRAL NEWS -- An Indonesian soldier has been killed by separatist militants in the nation's easternmost Papua province, reports Netral News (Indonesia).   The soldier was among several who went to the Sinak market in the Puncak Jaya region. He became separated and was attacked by the militants and killed, according to the Indonesian military.   Separatist groups have been active in Papua since 1969, when the region was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum, noted Reuters.   Indonesian security forces in the region have been accused of human-rights abuses.  
  Item Number:5 Date: 02/13/2018 JAPAN - TOKYO WILL NOT BE SWAYED BY N. KOREAN 'CHARM OFFENSIVE,' SAYS CABINET CHIEF (FEB 13/JT)  JAPAN TIMES -- The Japanese government says that it will maintain a firm position against North Korea regardless of its neighbors, reports the Japan Times.   Tokyo intends to keep its policy of "maximum pressure," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday.   The comments come amid rumors of a dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang, which appears to have some support in Washington.   Attempts by North Korea to engage with its neighbors and present a positive image of the reclusive kingdom amounted to a "charm offensive," said Suga.   "If North Korea is trying to use the Olympics for political purposes and ease international sanctions against itself, we must not be swayed," said Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.   On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae In reportedly welcomed an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit the North.   In an interview with the Washington Post, U.S Vice President Mike Pence said that while Washington would not reduce pressure on North Korea, it might endorse greater engagement to resolve tensions on the peninsula
Item Number:6 Date: 02/13/2018 LATVIA - DEAL INKED FOR ISRAELI SPIKE ANTI-TANK MISSILES (FEB 13/LATMOD)  LATVIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE -- The Latvian Defense Ministry has announced a deal with the EuroSpike consortium for Israeli-developed Spike anti-tank missiles.   The ministry signed a 108 million euro (US$132 million) contract with EuroSpike on Monday.   The missile systems will significantly enhance the capabilities of the armed forces and national guard, said Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis.   The Spike missiles will also be fitted to Latvia's CVR(T) tracked armored vehicles.   There are plans to involve Latvian subcontractors in the program, the ministry said.   Deliveries are scheduled to be completed by 2023
Item Number:9 Date: 02/13/2018 SYRIA - ISIS LEADER SERIOUSLY INJURED IN MAY AIRSTRIKE, SAY U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS (FEB 13/CNN)  CABLE NEWS NETWORK -- The leader of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) was seriously wounded in an airstrike in May last year, reports CNN.   Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was forced to relinquish control for up to five months while he recovered from his injuries, said unnamed U.S. officials.   The injuries were not life-threatening, but were severe enough to prevent him from leading the daily operations of the group.   U.S. intelligence agencies believe the strike occurred near Raqqa, Syria, as the terrorist group's control of the city waned.   The intelligence report is based on accounts from ISIS detainees and refugees who fled northern Syria.   It is unclear if Baghdadi was the target of the attack or if he was hit as collateral damage. The exact date of the strike was not known.   U.S. officials do not know who launched the strike in question. The time frame is close to a date on which the Russians claimed to have killed Baghdadi
Item Number:10 Date: 02/13/2018 SYRIA - KURDISH FIGHTERS SHOOT DOWN TURKISH ATTACK HELICOPTER NEAR AFRIN (FEB 13/ANADOLU)  ANADOLU NEWS AGENCY -- A Turkish attack helicopter has crashed during Ankara's military operation near Afrin in northwestern Syria, reports the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency.   Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that it was unclear why the T129 ATAK helicopter went down on Saturday, emphasizing that it was too soon to tell if it was shot down.   Both crewmembers aboard the helicopter were killed.   Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) sources told Reuters that their forces had shot down the helicopter.   Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 against Kurdish fighters in the Afrin region. The goal is to secure Turkey's border areas and fight terrorism, according to the Turkish military. Ankara considers the YPG part of the outlawed Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group
Item Number:11 Date: 02/13/2018 THAILAND - U.S. BOOSTS PRESENCE AT COBRA GOLD DRILLS (FEB 13/REU)  REUTERS -- Asia's largest multilateral military exercises have kicked off in Thailand, reports Reuters.   The Cobra Gold exercises began Tuesday with roughly 11,075 troops from 29 countries.   The figure includes 6,800 U.S. personnel, double the American presence in 2017.   U.S. troop contributions fell after a 2014 military-led coup in Thailand. Relations have improved since President Trump was elected.   This year's exercises were marked by the controversial invitation of Burma (Myanmar).   Burma is accused of numerous human-rights abuses against the Muslim Rohingya minority in the country's west.   A major from the Burmese army attended the opening ceremony but Burmese troops would not participate in the training, said a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok
  Item Number:12 Date: 02/13/2018 TURKEY - MILITARY OPERATIONS 'NEUTRALIZE' 1,439 FIGHTERS IN NORTHERN SYRIA (FEB 13/ANADOLU)  ANADOLU NEWS AGENCY -- Turkish operations in northern Syria have eliminated 1,439 suspected terrorists, says the Turkish military, as reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency.   Overnight airstrikes "neutralized" 70 suspected terrorists, the General Staff said Monday.   Turkey's military uses the term to describe those who are killed or captured.   The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias have liberated 52 zones, including 34 villages and 14 strategic mountains and hills, reported the Daily Sabah (Istanbul). On Tuesday, Turkish forces captured the village of Omer Simo in northwestern Syria.   The targets of Operation Olive Branch include members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), People's Protection Units (YPG) and, allegedly, Islamic State.   Turkey launched the operation on Jan. 20 to clear the area of Kurdish militants supported by Washington to fight ISIS.   Turkey accuses the YPG of direct links with the PKK. The latter is listed as a terrorist group by Washington and Ankara
Item Number:14 Date: 02/13/2018 USA - AIR FORCE AIMS TO REPLACE B-2, B-1 BOMBERS WITH B-21 RAIDER (FEB 13/AFNS)  AIR FORCE NEWS SERVICE -- The U.S. Air Force has revealed its bomber plans in its budget request for fiscal 2019, which was published on Monday.   The document calls for B-2 and B-1 bombers to be incrementally retired once sufficient B-21 Raider bombers are available, reported the Air Force News Service.   The service will continue to upgrade the B-2 and B-1 as necessary to keep them relevant until they are retired, said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.   Plans call for the B-21 to begin fielding in the mid-2020s.   The B-52 will continue to be modernized and the Air Force will fund the development of replacement engines for the bombers, Wilson said.   The decision to maintain the B-52 is based on a number of factors, including maintenance and sustainment metrics such as aircraft availability, mission capability and total cost, the Air Force said.   With the appropriate maintenance and sustainment, including new engines, the B-52 has a projected service life through 2050, said Gen. Robin Rand, the head of Air Force Global Strike Command.  
Item Number:15 Date: 02/13/2018 USA - FISCAL 2019 DEFENSE BUDGET REQUEST REACHES $686 BILLION (FEB 13/MILTIMES)  MILITARY TIMES -- President Donald Trump has submitted his fiscal 2019 budget request, which includes $686 billion for the military, reports Military Times.   The proposed budget includes roughly $3 billion to purchase 15 KC-46 tankers, $2 billion for 24 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and $10.7 billion to buy 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.   Trump's proposal also requests $7.4 billion for two Virginia-class submarines; $6 billion for three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; and $1.3 billion for one Littoral Combat Ship.   Included in the budget is funding for the U.S. State Dept.'s Foreign Military Financing program. The White House is requesting $5.3 billion for 2019, roughly $1 billion less than the expected funding from Congress, reported Defense News.   The last time Congress appropriated funds for the Foreign Military Financing it set aside $6.3 billion. A Senate proposal currently allots $6.3 billion.   The proposal includes $39.3 billion for the State Dept. and the United States Agency for International Development.   The U.S. Missile Defense Agency requested $9.9 billion, $2 billion more than in fiscal 2018, in part due to address North Korean missile threats. The funding will strengthen the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system with additional interceptors, add radars in the Pacific and invest in research to combat future threats, such as hypersonic weapons, reported Defense News
  Item Number:16 Date: 02/13/2018 USA - RICHARD SNYDER CUTTER DELIVERED TO COAST GUARD IN KEY WEST, FLA. (FEB 13/USCG)  U.S. COAST GUARD -- The U.S. Coast Guard has accepted delivery of its newest Sentinel-class fast-response cutter in Key West, Fla.   The Richard Snyder, the 27th cutter in the class, was handed over on Feb. 8, reported the service.   The cutter, scheduled for commissioning in April, will be the first fast-response cutter stationed in Atlantic Beach, N.C.   The vessel honors Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Richard Snyder, who was awarded a Silver Star for eliminating enemy resistance to an amphibious assault on the island of Biak, Papua New Guinea, in 1944.   The Coast Guard plans to acquire 58 Sentinel-class cutters, with 44 ordered and 25 already in service.

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