Wednesday, March 14, 2018

TheList 4677

The List 4677

To All,
A bit of history and some tidbits.
This Day In Naval History – March 14, 2018
March 14
1863A 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.
1929During the Elba, Alabama, flooding, Navy planes from Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, make 113 flights carrying relief supplies and conducting rescues to flooded towns in southern Alabama and western Florida.
1945USS Cotten (DD 669) and USS Dortch (DD 670) sink the Japanese guardboats Futa Maru and No.17 Kaiko Maru off the Bonin Islands.
1945USS Bream (SS 243) sinks the Japanese auxiliary submarine chaser Kihin Maru in the Java Sea, south of Borneo. Also on this date, USS Trepang (SS 412) sinks the Japanese guardboat Kaiko Maru off Inubo Saki, Japan.
1945During the Battle for Iwo Jima, Marine Pvt. George Phillips and Pvt. Franklin E. Sigler each perform acts of "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life." Both are awarded Medals of Honors, Phillips receives his posthumously.
1964USS Sacramento (AOE 1) is commissioned at Seattle, WA. She is the first-of-class Combat Supply Ship that combines the characteristics of an oiler, ammunition and supply ship.
Thanks to CHINFO
Executive Summary:
Top national headlines include the special election for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met with senior U.S. and Afghan officials in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss the military campaign and "peeling off" members of the Taliban to pursue a peace deal with the Afghan government reports the Washington Post. "All wars come to an end," Mattis said. "You don't want to miss an opportunity because you weren't alert to the opportunity. So, you need to have that door open, even if you embrace the military pressure." Multiple outlets report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been fired by President Donald Trump, with CIA director Mike Pompeo being selected to replace Tillerson. Additionally, USNI News reports that Electric Boat has been awarded a $696.2 million contract modification for long-lead materials for the next block of Virginia-class submarines.
Today in History March 14
A Royal charter is granted to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
First American town meeting is held at Boston's Faneuil Hall.
British Admiral John Byng is executed by a firing squad on board HMS Monarch for neglect of duty.
Inventor Eli Whitney receives a patent for his cotton gin.
United States currency goes on the gold standard.
The Senate ratifies the Hay-Herran Treaty, guaranteeing the United States the right to build a canal in Panama.
An anarchist named Antonio Dalba unsuccessfully attempts to kill Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III in Rome.
The British Navy sinks the German battleship Dresden off the Chilean coast.
An all-Russian Congress of Soviets ratifies a peace treaty with the Central Powers.
President Warren G. Harding becomes the first U.S. President to file an income tax report.
Adolf Hitler tells a crowd of 300,000 that Germany's only judge is God and itself.
The Nazis dissolve the republic of Czechoslovakia.
The Germans reoccupy Kharkov in the Soviet Union.
The United States signs a 99-year lease on naval bases in the Philippines.
U.N. forces recapture Seoul for the second time during the Korean War.
The Viet Minh launch an assault against the French Colonial Forces at Dien Bien Phu.
A Dallas jury finds Jack Ruby guilty of the murder of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
John F. Kennedy's body is moved from a temporary grave to a permanent one in Arlington Cemetery.
An Israeli force of 22,000 invades south Lebanon, hitting the PLO bases.
Mikhail S. Gorbachev becomes president of the Soviet Congress.
The "Birmingham Six," imprisoned for 16 years for their alleged part in an IRA pub bombing, are set free after a court agrees that the police fabricated evidence.
Japan's Little-Known Second Surprise Attack on Hawaii.
Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was a huge triumph for the Japanese Navy that nearly wiped out the U.S. Pacific Fleet's battleships and most of Oahu's air defenses. Just three months later, Japan planned another bombing raid on Hawaii using its newest long-range aircraft, the "flying boat" Kawanishi H8K. Soon after the attacks, Japanese war planners realized they had missed critical targets such as the shipyards, maintenance ships, and fuel reserve facilities. When America used the virtually untouched facilities to mobilize, the Japanese hoped to stymie the salvage effort with Operation K—a bombing raid using the H8K. "The H8Ks, with a 124-foot wingspan and a top speed of nearly 300 mph, took off from Wotje Atoll in the Marshall Islands on March 3 and set down in the calm waters of French Frigate Shoals about 560 miles northwest of Honolulu. There they were refueled by two waiting submarines. They then flew in the dark toward Oahu, each plane carrying four 550-pound bombs." To find out what happened, read the article in the Stars & Stripes. Also read the blog The Plan to Attack Pearl Harbor—Again by Daniel Garas at The Sextant.
Military Milestones from Guilford Courthouse to Iraq by  W. Thomas Smith Jr.
This Week in American Military History:
Mar. 14, 1951:  United Nations forces under the command of U.S. Army Gen.
Matthew B. Ridgeway recapture Seoul, Korea.
Mar. 15, 1781:  British Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis march toward a pyrrhic victory over Continental Army and militia forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Greene at Guilford Courthouse (near present-day Greensboro), N.C.
Once engaged, the two armies fight for less than two hours. Tactically, it ends in a victory for Cornwallis, who drives Greene's forces from the field. But British losses are heavy.
Cornwallis will purportedly say, "I never saw such fighting since God made me. The Americans fought like demons." When word of Guilford Courthouse reaches London, Parliamentarian Charles James Fox will declare: "Another such victory would ruin the British army!"
Cornwallis' entire army will surrender to the combined American-French forces of Generals George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau at Yorktown, Virginia, Oct. 19, almost seven months to the day after Guilford Courthouse.
Mar. 15, 1916:  As World War I rages in Europe, a U.S. Army expeditionary force under the command of Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing crosses into Mexico in pursuit of the bandit, Pancho Villa.
Though Villa will not be captured (he will be assassinated in 1923), the expedition will serve as both a proving ground for new American weapons systems and a combat-campaign prep school for many of the officers and men destined for European fighting in 1918.
Pershing – nicknamed "Black Jack" because of his command of black soldiers in the late 19th century – will ultimately command the American Expeditionary Force in World War I.
Mar. 16, 1802:  Pres. Thomas Jefferson signs into law the establishment of a corps of engineers, which "shall be stationed at West Point in the State of New York and shall constitute a Military Academy."  The United States Military Academy is born.
George Washington, Henry Knox, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and others "desiring to eliminate America's wartime reliance on foreign engineers and artillerists, [had] urged the creation of an institution devoted to the arts and sciences of warfare," according to the official West Point website.
Mar. 16, 1945:  Though Japanese resistance will continue for several more days, Iwo Jima is declared secure.
The following day, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander-in-chief of the U.S.
Pacific Fleet, will issue his now-famous communiqué:
"The battle of Iwo [Jima] Island has been won. The United States Marines by their individual and collective courage have conquered a base which is as necessary to us in our continuing forward movement toward final victory as it was vital to the enemy in staving off ultimate defeat. … Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
Mar. 17, 1776:  British forces under the command of Gen. Sir William Howe begin evacuating Boston after Howe reluctantly concludes that the American artillery positions atop Boston's commanding Dorchester Heights are "impregnable."
Mar. 18, 1945:  Some 1,250 American bombers and their fighter escorts roar toward Berlin in one of the U.S. Army Air Forces' "heaviest" bombing raids on the German capitol.
The Nazis are finished. In six weeks, Adolf Hitler will commit suicide.
Mar. 18, 1945:  Adm. Marc A. Mitscher's Fast Carrier "Task Force 58" begins a several-day series of attacks on Japanese bases at Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku in preparation for the forthcoming Okinawa campaign. The enemy will mount a counterattack, but with only moderate effect. Japanese losses of shore facilities, aircraft, and men will be heavy.
In less than two years, Mitscher will die of a heart attack. Adm. Arleigh Burke will remember him as "the preeminent carrier force commander in the world. A bulldog of a fighter, a strategist blessed with an uncanny ability to foresee his enemy's next move, and a lifelong searcher after truth and trout streams, he was above all else – perhaps above all other – a Naval aviator."
Mar. 19, 1916:  Four days after "Black Jack" Pershing crosses into Mexico, the U.S. Army's 1st Aero Squadron under Capt. (future major general) Benjamin D. Foulois joins the hunt for Pancho Villa. Though Foulois'
aircraft will be used primarily for observation and delivery of dispatches, the squadron will be the first to test tactical air support of ground forces.
Today, the U.S. Air Force's 1st Reconnaissance Squadron traces its lineage back to the 1st Aero Squadron.
Mar. 19, 2003:  U.S. and coalition air and sea forces fire the opening shots in the invasion of Iraq.
Mar. 20, 1863:  Confederate cavalry under the command of the famous – some might argue, infamous – Kentucky raider, Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan, strikes a sizeable Union reconnaissance force under Col. Albert S. Hall at Vaught's Hill, Tennessee. Though outnumbered and surrounded, Hall's hilltop position enables the colonel to beat back a series of attacks until Morgan – learning that Hall is to be reinforced with additional U.S. troops from Murfreesboro – is forced to disengage.
Though Vaught's Hill was a defeat for Morgan, he was far from whipped. His colorful exploits will inspire Constance Fenimore Woolson, a grandniece of James Fenimore Cooper, to pen the lines:
"Morgan, Morgan the raider, and Morgan's terrible men, With bowie knives and pistols, are galloping up the glen."
Mar. 20, 1922:  America's first aircraft carrier, USS Langley, is commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia. Converted from the coaling ship USS Jupiter, Langley will see action in World War II. But she will be so badly damaged in an action off Java in 1942, her escorts will be forced to scuttle her.
Langley, the first of two so-named carriers, is named in honor of aviation scientist Samuel Pierpont Langley.
Mar. 20, 1942:  U.S. Army Gen. Douglas McArthur – ordered by FDR to leave his besieged soldiers in the Philippines (where their capture is
inevitable) and make his way to Australia – delivers his famous "I shall return" speech. In April he will receive the Medal of Honor (as did his father, Arthur MacArthur, Jr., for heroism during the American Civil War).
McArthur will return to the Philippines in Oct. 1944.
From the List archives. It just is worth repeating
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: - Or GOOGLE him!
With our thanks to THE Bear at
March 13, 2018   Bear Taylor  
RIPPLE SALVO… #739… HUMBLE HOST CONCLUDES: THE UNITED STATES IS IN THE GRIP OF A 21st CENTURY "DREYFUS CASE." We know it as "THE CHRISTOPHER STEELE DOSSIER," or "DNC Dossier" or "Clinton Dossier" or "Russian Dossier," if you will. During the years of ROLLING THUNDER the VIETNAM WAR was America's Dreyfus Case as argued by William Shannon of The New York Times editorial staff in today's Ripple Salvo… Dreyfus Case?…a historic event that takes hold of public opinion in a way that creates hate and discontent between countrymen and women to the extent the nation becomes divided against itself. Shannon writes: "As an objective event, the war in Southeast Asia obviously resembles in no way the case of the Jewish army captain (circa 1890s) who was mistakenly convicted of espionage and, after a long bitter struggle, exonerated. But these two historic events are alike in their obsessive hold over public opinion, in a way in which they torment contemporaries and divide a nation against itself."…. but first…
GOOD MORNING: Day SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY-NINE of a return of fifty years to the days and nights of Operation Rolling Thunder and the Vietnam air war…
HEAD LINES from The New York Times on a sunny Thursday, 14 March 1968…
GROUND WAR and KHESANH: Page 1: "LARGE NORTH VIETNAMESE UNIT SIGHTED IN DELTA"… "A force of 300 North Vietnamese has been identified by allied intelligence officers in the Mekong Delta about 60 miles west of Saigon. It was the first large North Vietnamese unit whose sighting in the area was confirmed. The presence of small groups of North Vietnamese infantrymen was reported by South Vietnamese rangers in Longan in the early days of the Tet Offensive….Further north in the Central Highlands 13 Americans were killed and eight wounded yesterday in an ambush nine miles north of Pleiku. Allied reinforcements rushed in and 48 enemy soldiers were reported killed…Enemy shelling of Khesanh came nearly to a halt Tuesday, with only 35 rounds fired. But yesterday on the 14th anniversary of the battle of Dienbienphu, the Marines mounted a 100-per cent alert. Five B-52 bomber missions were staged in support of the surrounded base, which is 14 miles south of the western end of the demilitarized zone on the border of North and South Vietnam…The bombers also struck at North Vietnamese supply routes and fortifications in the Ashau Valley southwest of Danang…. A total of 139 Vietcong soldiers have been reported killed in an operation centered near Mytho, about 45 miles southwest of Saigon in the Mekong Delta. The Ninth Division lost 18 killed and 107 wounded in the operation….Heavy fighting continued at the eastern end of the demilitarized zone. The Third Marine Division said that two of its companies had killed 30 North Vietnamese soldiers in the scrub and sand six miles north of Dongha, the division base, in a two and a half hour fight that began at dark yesterday. One Marine was killed and 33 wounded, 25 of whom were evacuated."… North Vietnamese infiltration rate, which shot up near 20,000 men in January with the dispatch of heavy reinforcement to compete the siege of Khesanh returned last month to its normal level of about 6,000 men per month. About 40,000 enemy are believed to be maneuvering in Quangtri and Thuathien, the two northernmost provinces of South Vietnam."... Page 1: "KHESANH DISTURBS MANY IN MARINES–Some Voice Objections To A Static Defense But Doubt A Dienbienphu Parallel"... "The United States marines' position at Khesanh passed a relatively quiet day yesterday… Many Marine officers in this country and in South Vietnam dislike the static defensive position in which some 6,000 of their comrades have been placed. Few of them believe that the Vietcong and North Vietnamese can overrun Khesanh. If they do and destroy the 6,000-man garrison, it is clear to these officers that we have lost the war."….
Item Number:1 Date: 03/14/2018 AFGHANISTAN - MATTIS MAKES UNANNOUNCED TRIP TO KABUL, ADVOCATES RECONCILIATION WITH TALIBAN (MAR 14/VOA)  VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS -- U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday to discuss the war effort and Taliban reconciliation with top U.S. and Afghan officials, reports the Voice of America News.   This was the first trip to Afghanistan by a Trump administration official since President Ashraf Ghani proposed peace talks with the Taliban. The Taliban have not officially responded.   Mattis said that he looks forward to achieving a political reconciliation in Afghanistan.   The defense secretary cautioned that the Taliban reconciliation efforts would have to be done piecemeal with individual elements, as there is not broad consensus within the Taliban to negotiate with the American-backed government, reported the Washington Post.   The current effort is to reach "those who are tired of fighting" and build out from there, Mattis said.  
  Item Number:10 Date: 03/14/2018 SYRIA - TURKISH AIRSTRIKE KILLS 8 PRO-GOVERNMENT MILITIAMEN NEAR AFRIN (MAR 14/SPUTNIK)  SPUTNIK -- At least eight members of a pro-government militia have been killed and six wounded by a Turkish airstrike near Afrin in northern Syria, reports Russia's Sputnik news agency.   The airstrike on Wednesday hit a checkpoint set up by the fighters between the towns of Nubl and Zahraa, about 18 miles (29 km) north of Afrin.   The checkpoint was established on the only road leading from Afrin to regime-controlled territory to the southeast, reported the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.   Forty-eight pro-government fighters have been killed in fighting with Turkish forces and members of allied militias, said local officials.   On Tuesday, Turkey announced that it had surrounded the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in Syria's northeastern Aleppo province.   After Turkey launched an operation to clear Kurdish fighters from Afrin on Jan. 20, fighters loyal to the government in Damascus began entering the area.  
Item Number:11 Date: 03/14/2018 TURKEY - CUTBACKS BEING CONSIDERED AT INCIRLIK AIRBASE AMID TENSIONS (MAR 14/MILTIMES)  MILITARY TIMES -- U.S. military leaders are looking at reducing operations at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey amid strains in relations with Ankara, reports Military Times.   Washington has cut back flying operations at Incirlik and permanent reductions may be planned, reported the Wall Street Journal.   U.S. air operations out of Incirlik were crucial during the height of Operation Inherent Resolve. Meanwhile, Turkey has hindered operations at the airbase, while shifting its focus from the anti-ISIS fight in Syria to battling Kurdish forces in Afrin in Syria's northern Aleppo province.   In January, the U.S. Air Force moved a squadron of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Incirlik to Afghanistan, ostensibly to fight the Taliban. The timing coincided with Turkey's shift to fight the Kurds.   The U.S. military is working to resolve the dispute, according to U.S. and Turkish officials cited by the Washington Post
Item Number:13 Date: 03/14/2018 UNITED KINGDOM - 23 RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS EXPELLED OVER POISONING (MAR 14/GUARDIAN)  GUARDIAN -- British Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of former Russian double agent, reports the Guardian (U.K.).   Speaking to the House of Commons on Wednesday, May said the 23 diplomats had been identified as "undeclared intelligence officers" and would be given one week to leave the U.K.   This represents the largest expulsion of Russia spies in 30 years, she said, as reported by the Independent (U.K.).   Moscow treated a British request to explain how the military-grade nerve agent Novichok was used in the attack on Sergei Skripal with "sarcasm, contempt and defiance," and had offered no credible explanation, the prime minister said.   It was an "unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom," she said.   May also proposed new powers to hold suspected spies at the border. New sanctions and stepped up checks on private jets will also be considered, she said.   British government ministers and members of the royal family will not attend the upcoming World Cup in Russia, May added. Top-level ties with Moscow have been suspended.   NATO's 29 member states issued a joint declaration, condemning the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter on March 4. The two were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, England.   Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning of the alleged spy, who moved from a Russian prison to the U.K. in 2010 as part of a prisoner swap.  
  Item Number:14 Date: 03/14/2018 USA - NAVY LAUNCHES WORK ON 1ST BLOCK V VIRGINIA-CLASS SUBS (MAR 14/DOD)  DEPT. OF DEFENSE -- The U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded General Dynamic Electric Boat, Groton, Conn., a contract for long lead items for four Virginia-class submarines, reports the U.S. Dept. of Defense.   The $696 million contract covers long lead-time material for steam and electric plant components; the main propulsion unit and ship service turbine generator; and miscellaneous hull, mechanical and electrical system components for the boats, the Pentagon announced on March 12.   The deal supports two fiscal 2019 and two fiscal 2020 Virginia-class submarines, designated SSN 802 through SSN 805.   These are the first four Block V subs, which are longer than earlier boats in the class to accommodate four Virginia Payload Module tubes, which each contain seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, noted USNI News.   The Block V boats are intended to replace the Ohio-class guided-missile subs as they are decommissioned.   Work under the contract is scheduled to be completed by January 2019
Item Number:15 Date: 03/14/2018 USA - TRUMP FIRES TILLERSON; CIA CHIEF POMPEO NAMED AS REPLACEMENT (MAR 14/HILL)  THE HILL -- President Trump has removed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from his post, reports The Hill (Washington, D.C.).   Tillerson was fired on Tuesday by Trump, who said he made the decision himself and did not speak to the secretary before letting him go.   Mike Pompeo, Central Intelligence Agency director, was name as the new secretary of state. Pompeo's deputy at Langley, Gina Haspel, will be elevated to become the first female director of the CIA.   Tillerson was not aware of the reason for his removal, said a statement from the State Dept.   The timing of the personnel changes may add further strains at State amid an ongoing exodus of senior personnel and high stakes diplomatic efforts with North Korea. The timing is also vexing for the CIA, which is involved in the ongoing Russia investigation.   The appointments of Pompeo and Haspel must still be confirmed by the Senate. Pompeo's hearing is set for April, reported CNN.  

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