Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fw: TheList 4387

The List 4387
To All,
A bit of history and some tidbits
This Day In Naval History - February 15
1856 - USS Supply, commanded by LT David Dixon Porter, sails from Smyrna, Syria, bound for Indianola, Texas, with a load of 21 camels intended for experimental use in the American desert west of the Rockies.
1898: The battleship Maine explodes in Havana Harbor and nearly three-quarters of the battleship's crew die as a result of the blast. Popular opinion blames Spain, and the Spanish-American war starts soon after.
1944 Allied Bombers level the abbey at Monte Cassino
Military Milestones from Old Ironsides to Fortress Corregidor by  W. Thomas Smith Jr.
February 15
The first serious fist fight occurs in Congress.
New Jersey becomes the last northern state to abolish slavery.
Union General Ulysses S. Grant launches a major assault on Fort Donelson, Tenn.
Charges of treason against Jefferson Davis are dropped.
The U.S. battleship Maine blows up in Havana Harbor, killing 268 sailors and bringing hordes of Western cowboys and gunfighters rushing to enlist in the Spanish-American War.
The British threaten to use natives in the Boer War fight.
The London Zoo announces it will install lights to cheer up fogged-in animals.
U.S. Congress passes the Civil Works Emergency Relief Act, allotting new funds for Federal Emergency Relief Administration.
Hitler orders that all British merchant ships will be considered warships.
British forces in Singapore surrender to Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
The Germans break the American Army's lines at the Fanid-Sened Sector in Tunisia, North Africa.
American bombers attack the Abbey of Monte Cassino in an effort to neutralize it as a German observation post in central Italy.
Royal Canadian mounted police arrest 22 as Soviet spies.
Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung sign a mutual defense treaty in Moscow.
Andrei Gromyko replaces Dmitri T. Shepilov as the Soviet Foreign Minister.
Eighteen members of the U.S. figure skating team are lost in an airplane crash in Belgium.
Canada's maple leaf flag is raised for the first time.
Thirteen U.S. helicopters are shot down in one day in Vietnam
U.S. gas stations threaten to close because of federal fuel policies.
This Week in American Military History:
Feb. 14, 1778:  The Continental sloop-of-war Ranger (the first of 10 so-named American warships) under the command of Capt. John Paul Jones fires a 13-gun salute to French Adm. Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte's fleet anchored in France's Quiberon Bay. The French return the salute with nine guns. It is the first time America's new flag – "the stars and stripes" – is officially recognized by a foreign power.
Feb. 14, 1814:  The American frigate USS Constitution captures Lovely Ann, a British armed merchant vessel, and HMS Pictou, a Royal Navy schooner, within hours of each other.
Constitution (known affectionately as "Old Ironsides") is the oldest ship in the American Navy. Launched in 1797, she serves today as a duly commissioned ship crewed by active-duty U.S. sailors and Naval officers in order to further public awareness of American Naval tradition.
Feb. 14, 1912:  USS E-1 (SS-24), the U.S. Navy's first diesel-powered submarine, is commissioned in Groton, Connecticut. The sub is skippered by an almost 27-year-old Lt. Chester W. Nimitz, destined to become the famous five-star fleet admiral of World War II.
Feb. 14, 1968:  As the bloody Battle of Hue rages (part of the broader Vietnamese TET Offensive), Capt. Myron Harrington and his Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines prepare to assault the city's Citadel with its commanding Dong Ba tower.
Harrington is ordered to attack, to which he responds simply, "aye aye, sir." Harrington's Marines take the tower and other objectives in fierce fighting. Harrington will receive the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism" in an action on the 23rd, and ultimately rise to the rank of colonel.
In a PBS documentary Harrington recalls:
"Throughout all of this, you constantly had this fear. Not so much that you were going to die, because I think to a certain degree that was a given.
This was combined with the semi-darkness type of environment that we were fighting in because of the low overcast – the fact that we didn't see the sun – gave it a very eerie, spooky look. You had this utter devastation all around you. You had this horrible smell. I mean you just cannot describe the smell of death especially when you're looking at it a couple of weeks along. It's horrible. It was there when you ate your rations. It was almost like you were eating death. You couldn't escape it."
Feb. 15, 1898:  A terrific explosion rips through the bow of USS Maine anchored in Havana Harbor, Cuba. Almost everyone in the forward third of the vessel is instantly killed. Black smoke and seawater begin pouring into the remaining spaces. The dying ship, its bulkheads groaning under the stress of collapse, is then rocked by a series of jarring secondary explosions. Capt. Charles Sigsbee, the Maine's skipper, orders "Abandon ship!" Within minutes, 260 U.S. sailors and Marines are dead.
Convinced that the explosion (the cause of which is still being debated) is the result of a mine or the work of Spanish saboteurs, American newspapers will demand vengeance. America will soon be at war with Spain.
Maine is the first of three so-named American battleships and one submarine.
Feb 16, 1804: U.S. Navy Lt. (future commodore) Stephen Decatur sails a captured Tripolitan ketch he renames USS Intrepid into the harbor at Tripoli. There, Decatur and a volunteer force of sailors and Marines board the frigate USS Philadelphia (the second of six so-named American warships), which had been previously captured by Tripolitan pirates. After a brief but violent close-quarters struggle – in which several pirates but no Americans are killed – Decatur orders the Philadelphia burned.
In time, Decatur will be referred to as "America's Lord Nelson," an affectionate comparison to Britain's legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson. In fact, when Nelson himself learns of Decatur's action at Tripoli, he says it is "the most bold and daring act of the age." And contemporary British historian John Keegan will describe Decatur as "the most dashing of the frigate captains whom the Corsair and 1812 Wars produced."
Destined to be killed in a duel with fellow Naval officer Commodore James Barron in 1820, Decatur is author of the famous aphorism, "Our country, right or wrong."
Decatur has had five American warships and numerous American towns and counties named in his honor.
Feb 16, 1945:  American paratroopers – members of the U.S. Army's famed 503rd Regimental Combat Team – jump over the Philippines' "fortress Corregidor" (also known as "the Rock") in one of the most difficult airborne operations of the war. Jumping in relatively high winds, the paratroopers hit the ground hard, fighting Japanese soldiers who had been ordered to fight to the death. For the next 11 days, the Americans will root out the enemy (deeply burrowed in a labyrinth of caves and tunnels) and beat back multiple banzai attacks before wiping out almost all of the 6,500-man enemy garrison.
Feb. 17, 1864:  The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley – a pioneering vessel designed to help break the Union Navy's blockade of Southern ports – sinks the Federal sloop-of-war USS Housatonic in Charleston (S.C.) harbor, becoming the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship in action.
It is a pyrrhic victory however: the submarine also sinking – either with its victim or soon after the attack – with the loss of all hands.
The submarine is named for its designer and builder, Tennessee-born engineer Horace Lawson Hunley, who incidentally was killed during one of the submarine's test dives.
Feb. 17, 1865:  Exactly one year to the day after Hunley's famous attack in South Carolina waters, S.C.'s capital, Columbia – site of the first secession convention – falls to Union Army forces under the command of Maj.
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Columbia is subsequently burned. Both sides blame the other for the destruction of the city, fueling a controversy that continues into the 21st century. Sherman will withdraw from Columbia within three days, and continue his march up through the Palmetto state. He will write in his memoirs, "Having utterly ruined Columbia, the right wing [of the army] began its march northward toward Winnsboro."
Feb. 18, 1944:  U.S. Marines land and quickly capture Engebi island, the first obstacle to seizing Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls. The following day, U.S. Army forces strike Eniwetok – a tougher fight – and soldiers and Marines seize the island in three days.
Feb. 19, 1945:  One year after the Eniwetok landings, the first two of three dispatched U.S. Marine divisions begin hitting the beach on day-one of the epic battle for Iwo Jima (one of the great U.S. Marine Corps victories which we will expound on over the coming weeks). Described as "throwing human flesh against reinforced concrete," the battle is best remembered by the dramatic photograph of the flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi and the 27 Medals of Honor awarded. But it will not be without great cost:
Of the 21,000 Japanese diehards defending Iwo, some 20,800 will be killed.
Almost 7,000 Marines will lose their lives. Another 26,000 will be wounded.
Aside from Marine losses, a handful of casualties will be suffered among the ranks of U.S. Army, Navy, and Coast Guard personnel who also were there.
Feb. 20, 1944:  U.S. Army Air Forces and Britain's Royal Air Force begin Operation Argument – also known as "Big Week" – a massive thousand-plus bomber offensive (with all of the bombers' supporting fighter aircraft) aimed at destroying the German Air Force in the air and the Luftwaffe manufacturing facilities on the ground in order to achieve irreversible air superiority before the Normandy landings. Allied losses will be high.
German losses will be staggering.
Feb. 20, 1962:  U.S. Marine Lt. Col. (future colonel) and two-war fighter pilot John H. Glenn Jr. becomes the first American to orbit Earth. Glenn orbits Earth three times in less than five hours in his spacecraft, Friendship 7.
Glenn will become a U.S. senator in 1974. In 1998, at the age of 77, he will return to space (becoming the oldest human in space) aboard Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-95) commanded and piloted respectively by U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonels Curtis L. Brown and Steven W. Lindsey.
Immigration thanks to Micro
The following report was forwarded to me by a friend whose daughter played on a lacrosse team with this family.  Last summer, they took a trip to Europe, traveling to many of the places they lived and visited while stationed over there.  Here is their report:
Europe was very enlightening.
In Italy we stayed in a villa that was overseen by a Philippino man who has struggled for over a decade to get Italian citizenship and may not bring his family to Italy until he becomes a full citizen.  The election was still 5 months away and lots of Italians were hoping Trump would be elected.
In Prague, the people were begging for Trump to get elected and not Hillary.  Do not listen to the media -- they aren't being truthful -- almost to the person, everyone I spoke to was begging us to elect Trump and stop the 'one world' madness.
Germany was the worst.  In Garmisch, a Bavarian town in the Alps where Lederhosen, dirndls, big beers, and pork sausages are the norm, the town has been overrun by Muslim refugees,  I saw more women in full burkas than in dirndls. Many of the restaurants no longer serve alcohol or any pork products.  The people were completely disgusted with Merkel.  Both France and Germany are so overrun with migrants (many not even from war-torn areas) that their national identities are falling away.  Crime is terrible.  As much as we love Germany and our years spent there, I am doubtful we will go back. We know lots of Germans, our age, who've worked all their lives and they are preparing to move to Switzerland.
France is lost...Germany is right behind.

Thanks to John
Begin forwarded message:
Subject: Fwd: FAST

This is truly amazing!!!  China has built the world's largest telescope1 

Subject: FAST
                                      Sit back and enjoy 10-15 minutes of a fascinating project

Thanks to Carl
Built to Last: The Secret that Enabled Roman Roads to Withstand the Passage of Time | Ancient Origins
Built to Last: The Secret that Enabled Roman Roads to Withstand the Passage of Time
With our thanks to THE Bear at
February 14, 2017Bear Taylor 
Good Morning: Day THREE HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN of a non-stop return to the skies over North Vietnam...
15 February 1967… HOME TOWN HEADLINES from The New York Times on a fair Wednesday in NYC…
Page 1: "Wilson Reports Peace Was Near During Weekend"... "He asserts it was almost in our grasp but for a simple act of trust by the foe…Says plan still exists but Hanoi insists there be no bargaining on demand to halt bombing… Wilson: 'One small move would have activated the whole proposal and continued the Tet truce until the parties were around the conference table…There is an initiative, a plan–that I can't tell the House about–which could bring peace tomorrow and requires a very, very small movement, to activate all the complicated machinery which would bring us to peace negotiations.' "... Page 4: "Hanoi Move Tied to Vote in South"..."North Vietnam appears eager to gain United States political recognition of the Vietcong before the South Vietnamese elections this summer. Hanoi's idea would be to undercut the importance of the elections and the victory of any non-Communist group by having the Vietcong accepted as a political force beforehand. If the Vietcong did not take part in the elections, they could  later claim that the polling was invalid."… Page 7: "Soviet Denounces Renewed Bombing"…"The Soviet Government newspaper Investia asserted tonight that the resumption of bombing raids against North Vietnam had boomeranged on the United States by bolstering the influence and authority of Hanoi in the world's attitude toward a settlement of the war…'The American generals can be satisfied. Their demands were acceded to at the too. And the world has seen once more who dictates the policies of the United States, at least as forces the Vietnam war is concerned."…
Page 1: "President Seeks to Abolish Housing Bias in Three Stages"… "President Johnson will ask Congress for a three-stage law aimed at ending discrimination in the sale or rent of private housing. sources close to the President confirmed today that he would ask for the law in a civil rights message to be sent to Congress tomorrow or later in the week… The first stage would last through 1967. The Administration will try to get public opinion…to get as much voluntary compliance as possible. In 1968 open occupancy would become mandatory for dwellings sold or rented by someone other than the occupant. In 1969 the law would apply to all housing."… Page 1: "U.S. Sets March Deadline On Talks to Reduce Tariffs"… "The United States has set a deadline of Easter, or a week either side, for conclusion of the four-year old Kennedy round of tariff cutting negotiations, although major issues remain to be resolved."
Page 1: "U.S. Minesweepers Sunk, 2 Damaged"… "A United States minesweeper was sunk today and two others damaged severely in two separate guerrilla attacks along the Longtau river , the main shipping channel into Saigon…13 United States Navy men were wounded and one was missing…one hit a mine and sank 22 miles from Saigon and the others were damaged by 57mm gun fire 15 miles south of Saigon"… HUMBLE HOST comment: The mines were Soviet made. How come this wasn't used to retaliate against the port of Haiphong? They get a free shot?…
15 FEBRUARY 1967… OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER…New York Times devoid of news of  air war in the North other than R.W. Apple report –see Ripple Salvo below… "Vietnam: Air Losses" (Hobson) There was one fixed wing aircraft lost in Southeast Asia on 15 February 1967.
(1) 1LT W.H. HEPLER was flying an F-100D of the 309th TFS and 31st TFW out of Tuy Hoa supporting Operation Junction City and attacked a target 10 miles northeast of Dau Tieng and was hit by ground fire. The battle damage was under control for all but the last ten miles back to home base. 1LT HEPLER ejected and was rescued to fly and fight again…
RIPPLE SALVO… #347… New York Times… Page 8: R.W Apple reporting…
"Bombs Fly From Decks of the Enterprise Again"… "The world's largest fighting ship went back to war today with her crew neither jubilant nor downcast. Long before dawn the word was flashed from Hawaii, Honolulu that the pause of nearly six days was over…The weather was forbidding…unseasonable Arctic winds blowing across the Enterprise's bow. The 90,000-ton ship shuddered and rolled as she plowed through the whitecaps of the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin…
*LCDR Eugene "Red" McDaniel, A-6A Intruder: 'I was disappointed, we'd all hoped that the truce would be extended–that they'd be able to workout some end to this thing. It's not much of a sport, getting shot at every day. After the layoff we were nervous. But once you get that first hop out of the way, it is just the same as before. It's your way of life.'
"Other pilots disagreed, asserting that they were glad to be back at work again.
*LCDR Pete Carroll, F-4 Phantoms: 'I thought about it and I decided that it was too bad we couldn't have started yesterday or the day before that if we had to start at all.'
"The reason, of course, is the fear of the pilots that they have to fly through heavier anti-aircraft fire than ever before. It happened after all the other cease-fires…but today the flak was light…
"Few of the fliers expressed any doubt that the war would end in anything but a negotiated settlement. The more reflective among them see their role as one of punishing Vietnam until it has no choice but to accept an armistice on terms favorable to the United States and South Vietnam.
*Commander Jimmie Rough, F-4 Phantom Squadron Skipper: …Told of having seen dozens of heavy North Vietnamese junks moving from Haiphong south into the coastal panhandle region…Over the weekend the Enterprise reconnaissance plane saw them heading north–empty. Rough: 'Usually you fly around for days without seeing an enemy ship. Then you see them all over the place and you can do nothing about them. It is not always easy to play by the rules over here but we have to. When you have been shot at a lot you have to remind yourself of all the subtleties of this war we are fighting.'.."
CAG's QUOTES for 15 February: VON MOLTKE: "Great successes in war are not achieved without great risks."… PATTON: "In war every man is expendable. Any man who starts thinking he is indispensable already isn't worth his weight in anything."…
Lest we forget…       Bear
Item Number:1 Date: 02/15/2017 AFGHANISTAN - ISIS HAS BEEN LOSING ITS TURF WAR, SAYS TOP U.S. GENERAL (FEB 15/MILTIMES)  MILITARY TIMES -- The Islamic State terrorist group has lost significant ground in Afghanistan over the last year, says the top U.S. officer in the nation, as reported by the Military Times.   ISIS previously controlled 11 districts in the eastern Nangarhar province, but now has just a few, Gen. John Nicholson told lawmakers in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 9.   The terrorist group wanted to create a "caliphate" in Afghanistan with its capital in Jalalabad, he noted.   The U.S. has conducted several major operations alongside Afghan forces since authority was granted to hit ISIS targets, the general said. Those operations have pushed ISIS into a handful of districts and reduced their "geographic space," Nicholson said.   However, ISIS still retains the ability to launch suicide attacks in Kabul, the Afghan capital, he said.   The total strength of ISIS is now estimated at less than 1,000 in Afghanistan, said a spokesman for the Afghan training mission
Item Number:2 Date: 02/15/2017 BAHRAIN - MARRIED COUPLE HURT IN 'TERRORIST BLAST' NEAR MANAMA (FEB 15/GULF)  GULF NEWS -- Two people were slightly injured in a "terrorist blast" late Tuesday in eastern Bahrain, reports Gulf News, citing the Interior Ministry.   A man and his wife were passing the Sitra Island area, about 5 km (3 miles) south of Bahrain's capital Manama, when a bomb exploded, said the ministry on Twitter.   A photo showed a damaged vehicle. The couple was not identified.   The blast took place on the sixth anniversary of the "Arab Spring" protests in Bahrain, noted Reuters. There were reportedly demonstrations nearby marking the anniversary at the time, according to AFP. There had apparently been clashes in Manama and nearby villages.  
 Item Number:3 Date: 02/15/2017 CAMBODIA - TRUCKING BATTALION OPENS MILITARY REPAIR FACILITY; GARAGE FUNDED BY CHINA (FEB 15/XIN)  XINHUA -- China's military aid to Cambodia took a new turn on Wednesday.   A military vehicle repair shop funded by Beijing was inaugurated near Cambodia's capital Phnom Pehn, reports Xinhua, China's state news agency.   The 5,400-square-foot shop was opened in a ceremony attended by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Tea Banh and China's Ambassador Xiong Bo.   The shop for the No. 99 Trucking Battalion will maintain and repair transportation vehicles for Cambodia's military, said Banh.   An agreement for the facility followed a request by Cambodia in May 2014.  
  Item Number:4 Date: 02/15/2017 CHINA - POLICE KILL 3 ASSAILANTS AFTER KNIFE ATTACK IN XINJIANG (FEB 15/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- Armed Chinese police have been deployed to China's restive Xinjiang province following a deadly knife attack, reports the South China Morning Post.   Three knife-wielding assailants attacked a residential compound in Pishan county on Tuesday evening. They killed five people and wounded five others before being shot and killed by police, said local officials cited by Xinhua.   The attackers were not identified, noted various wire services. Beijing generally blames such attack on extremists from the Uighur minority.   A statement posted on the local government website called the attackers "thugs."   The highest level of security alert was issued in the county, with some authorities describing the incident as a terror attack
Item Number:5 Date: 02/15/2017 DEM REP OF CONGO - U.N. PUSHES FOR PROBE OVER PERSISTENT VIOLENCE IN KASAI PROVINCE (FEB 15/IBT)  INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES -- A United Nations peacekeeping mission has called for an independent investigation into reports that more than 100 people have been killed in fighting between the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a local militia, reports International Business Times (U.K.).   The Kamuina Nsapu militia in the central Kasai province has been recruiting and using child soldiers while targeting symbols and institutions of state authority in the region, according to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).   The mission also said that disproportionate force has been used by government security forces in their response.   The latest violence in the Dibaya area of Kasai province involved Congolese troops who "opened fire indiscriminately" when they came across militia members wielding machetes and spears between Feb. 9 and Feb. 13, said a release by MONUSCO.   There were 39 women among the 101 killed, according to a U.N. spokeswoman.   Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in central DR Congo in recent months in battles between security forces and the militia, noted Reuters.  
  Item Number:6 Date: 02/15/2017 GERMANY - AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATE CLERICS SUSPECTED OF SPYING ON OPPONENTS OF TURKISH GOVERNMENT (FEB 15/DEWELLE)  DEUTSCHE WELLE -- Police in Germany have raided the apartments of four men suspected of spying for the Turkish government, reports Deutsche Welle.   Searches were made on Wednesday of the the residences of four imams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, said the federal prosecutor's office.   The men are suspected of passinginformation to a Turkish diplomatic mission in Cologne about followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, said German authorities. Ankara has accused Gulen of orchestrating July's failed coup, a charge he has denied.   The raids were aimed at finding evidence and no arrests were made, said officials.   The imams were believed to be following an order issued by the Turkish-based Diyanet religious authority to provide "detailed reports" on pro-Gulen organizations.   The imams are affiliated with DITIB, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs. The DITIB denied spying on Gulen supporters
  Item Number:7 Date: 02/15/2017 GERMANY - GROWING NAVAL COOPERATION WITH NORWAY TO INCLUDE MISSILES, SHIPS (FEB 15/GERMOD)  GERMAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE -- The governments of Germany and Norway have agreed to a comprehensive strategic partnership for their naval forces, reports the German Ministry of Defense.   Their goal is to jointly develop, procure and operate submarines and anti-surface missiles.   The cooperation will be based on the agreed and harmonized requirements of both navies, said releases. Both services will need to replace Harpoon anti-ship missiles over the next decade, for example.   Accordingly, Berlin plans to participate in a Norwegian-led program to improve the Naval Strike Missile. The resulting weapon will be employed by both navies, sharing maintenance, training and logistics burdens, noted the ministry.   The MKS 180 multi-role combat ship will be the first German vessel to be equipped with the missile. Germany plans to buy six of those ships, noted Reuters on Monday.   Earlier this month, Norway announced that it had partnered with Germany on submarine acquisition based on the Type 212 design serving in Germany and Italy, noted UPI.   Separately, Germany plans to set up a joint fleet of C-130J cargo aircraft with France and join the Netherlands-led fleet of A330 tanker-transports, Reuters reported
Item Number:8 Date: 02/15/2017 INDIA - PHAROS FIRE-CONTROL RADAR UNDER DEVELOPMENT (FEB 15/THALES)  THALES -- Paris-based Thales and Indian firm BEL-Thales Systems (BTSL) are making progress in the development of a new fire-control radar for gun and missile systems, according to the French defense firm.   In March 2016, Thales and BSTL signed a strategic cooperation to jointly develop the Pharos radar.   The first work package has passed its preliminary design review, with design and development work on other packages well underway, said Thales in a release on Feb. 13.   The jointly developed Pharos is intended for both the Indian and export markets. According to the release, the work fits into New Delhi's "Make in India" vision.   Overall system design is managed by Thales, with BTSL covering mechanical design and radar-processing modifications. Thales will also design and build the radar antenna, noted the release.   The radar's electronic beam-steering capability enables the tracking of multiple targets simultaneously and integrated guided ammunition control, said officials. The Pharos can control any medium-caliber gun from 30-mm to 76-mm for naval and ground applications, said Thales.  
  Item Number:9 Date: 02/15/2017 ITALY - CEREMONY MARKS START OF WORK ON NAVY'S 1ST MULTIROLE OFFSHORE PATROL VESSEL (FEB 15/FINCA)  FINCANTIERI -- Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has announced cutting steel for the first of seven planned multirole offshore patrol vessels for the Italian navy.   The ceremony took place on Monday at the Fincantieri shipyard in Muggiano, a district of Milan.   The first unit is scheduled for delivery in 2021 as part of a navy modernization program that was approved in 2015, the shipbuilder said on Feb. 13. All seven are slated to be delivered by 2026.   That project also covers a landing helicopter dock and a logistics support ship.   The patrol ships are designed to undertake a range of missions, from patrol, search-and-rescue, civil protection and combat. The combat system can be configured for different missions.   The vessels, measuring 435 feet (132.5 m) long, will be capable of speeds of more than 33 knots and carry a crew of up to 171. Rigid-hull inflatable boats will be able to be launched from the stern, said Fincantieri.   Two zones at the stern and in the center of the ship will accommodate various mission-specific containerized modules, noted the release.  
  Item Number:10 Date: 02/15/2017 MALAYSIA - MURDER CONFIRMED OF KIM JONG UN'S HALF-BROTHER; FEMALE SUSPECT HELD IN KUALA LUMPUR (FEB 15/CNN)  CABLE NEWS NETWORK -- A woman has been arrested in Malaysia in connection to the death of the estranged half-brother of the dictator of North Korea, reports CNN.   The chief of South Korea's intelligence agency on Wedensday confirmed that the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was murdered, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul).   Kim Jong Nam was killed with poison at Kuala Lumpur's international airport on Monday while heading to Macao, National Intelligence Service Director Lee Byong Ho told South Korean lawmakers on Wednesday.   Kim had asked for help after interacting with two "Asian" women. The suspects are presumed to still be at large in Malaysia, said Lee.   Whether a needle or chemical spray was used is still being determined, he said. The agency found out about the incident about four hours after it took place, he said.   Pyongyang has been attempting to assassinate the older brother since 2012, when the first attempt was noted, said the director. Kim had been under the protection of Chinese authorities, he said.   On Wednesday, Malaysian authorities said they had detained a woman holding a Vietnamese passport in connection with Kim's death. The 28-year-old woman was identified from CCTV footage, reported the Guardian (U.K.).   The Telegraph (U.K.) reported that there are two female suspects and four male suspects. A police officer cited by the paper suggested that the women were involved in spraying the victim.  
  Item Number:11 Date: 02/15/2017 PAKISTAN - SUICIDE BOMBERS STRIKE IN TRIBAL REGION, PUNJAB; BOTH ATTACKS CLAIMED BY PAKISTANI TALIBAN SPLINTER GROUP (FEB 15/ALJAZ)  AL JAZEERA -- A suicide bombing near the main gate of the administrative headquarters of Pakistan's Mohmand tribal region has killed five people, reports Al Jazeera (Qatar).   The blast occurred Wednesday morning in Ghalanai in the tribal areas, said a local government official. Three policemen and two passersby were killed. Many others were injured, noted GeoTV (Pakistan).   A gunman who accompanied the bomber attempted to storm the compound, but was killed by security guards, said the military.   Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban splinter group, claimed responsibility for the attack.   Separately, law enforcement agencies in Pakistan's Punjab province cracked down on banned militant groups after another suicide bombing on Monday, reports Dawn (Pakistan).   Jamaat-ul-Ahrar also claimed responsibility for that blast, which killed 13 people and injured more than 100.  
Item Number:12 Date: 02/15/2017 SOUTH KOREA - N. KOREAN MISSILE DEVELOPMENTS SAID TO THREATEN DEFENSE PLANS IN SOUTH (FEB 15/YON)  YONHAP -- A senior lawmaker says South Korea needs to revamp its planned missile defense system because of advancements revealed in North Korea's missile arsenal, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul).   The lawmaker pointed to the "kill chain" strike system and Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system, which are designed to rapidly detect and destroy incoming missiles. They are expected to be operational by the mid-2020s.   After being briefed on North Korea's latest missile launch, Lee Cheol Woo, the chairman of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee, said he asked about the effectiveness of the planned systems in defeating the solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile that was launched on Sunday.   "With the planned systems, it is impossible to pre-emptively strike solid propellant missiles (through prior detection). So the kill chain (and KAMD) systems themselves don't make an effective missile defense system," Lee told reporters on Tuesday.   Solid-fuel missiles require less preparation time than liquid-fueled rockets and can be fired faster and more easily from mobile launchers.   Pre-emptive strikes can be made against liquid-fueled rockets, since they can take from one to three hours to fuel, said military officials. Most North Korean missiles, such as the short-range Scud, medium-range No Dong and intermediate-range Musudan, use liquid fuel.   However, the new solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 only needs five to 10 minutes for launch, the lawmaker said.   The high speed of such North Korean missiles could also be sufficient to defeat planned KAMD systems, as well as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which is scheduled to be deployed in South Korea
Item Number:13 Date: 02/15/2017 SOUTH KOREA - REMAINS OF 20 CHINESE SOLDIERS TO BE REPATRIATED NEXT WEEK (FEB 15/YON)  YONHAP -- South Korea plans to return the remains of about 20 Chinese soldiers who were killed in the Korean War, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul).   The remains will be returned to China on Feb. 20, said the South's Defense Ministry on Wednesday.   Seoul returned the remains of 437 Chinese soldiers in 2014 and 36 in 2015, said the ministry.   More than 100,000 Chinese soldiers died during the 1950-1953 conflict, noted UPI.   Tensions have been elevated between the neighbors since Seoul's decision in July 2016 to deploy a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) air defense missile system
Item Number:14 Date: 02/15/2017 SYRIA - SEPARATE PEACE TALKS IN ASTANA, GENEVA BEING DELAYED (FEB 15/VOA)  VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS -- Syrian peace talks that were supposed to begin on Wednesday in Kazakhstan have been delayed for a day, reports the Voice of America News.   The talks in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital, will now be held on Thursday. The date change was for "technical reasons," said a spokesman for Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry, without elaborating.   Last month's indirect talks in Astana, which were backed by Russia and Turkey, showed little progress.   Several opposition members who took part in the previous talks said they had not received invitations to the upcoming negotiations, reported the Middle East Eye.   Separate peace talks in Geneva sponsored by the United Nations have also been delayed.   The U.N. envoy's office on Monday said that those talks, due to start on Feb. 20, will now begin on Feb. 23. That followed another delay, from Feb. 8 to Feb. 20, to allow the opposition more time to prepare, reported AFP.  
  Item Number:15 Date: 02/15/2017 THAILAND - WARMING RELATIONS WITH U.S. REFLECTED BY VISIT OF PACOM CHIEF FOR COBRA GOLD DRILLS (FEB 15/BANGPOST)  BANGKOK POST -- The head of the U.S. Pacific Command is in Thailand for the annual multilateral Cobra Gold drills, reports the Bangkok Post.   Adm. Harry Harris is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Thailand since the military coup in 2014.   On Tuesday, he met with Thai defense chief Gen. Surapong Suwana-adth ahead of the official start of the Cobra Gold exercises.   Harris was also expected to meet with Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwon and Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha.   "We look forward to Thailand's re-emergence as a flourishing democracy because we need Thailand as a strong and stable ally," Harris said on Tuesday, as quoted by the Stars and Stripes. "We need Thailand to get back to being the regional and global leader that it always has been."   Last year, Washington cut its participation in Cobra Gold from 8,000 to 3,300 personnel and reduced military assistance by US$3.5 million. This year, the U.S. sent 3,528 personnel.   A total of 8,333 were expected to take part, including 4,350 from Thailand, 57 from Singapore, 192 from Japan, 34 from Indonesia, 46 from South Korea, 99 from Malaysia, 13 from India and 14 from China.   As many as 29 countries are observing or taking part in this year's exercise, which runs through Feb. 24.  
  Item Number:16 Date: 02/15/2017 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - CRITICALLY WOUNDED AMBASSADOR DIES FOLLOWING JANUARY BOMBING IN AFGHANISTAN (FEB 15/ALJAZ)  AL JAZEERA -- The United Arab Emirates ambassador to Afghanistan died on Wednesday of wounds sustained during a bomb attack last month, says the government in the U.A.E., as reported by Al Jazeera (Qatar).   The bombing took place on Jan. 10 at Kandahar's governor's guesthouse, reported the BBC. At least 12 people were killed, including five Emirati diplomats   The Taliban denied responsibility, saying it was an "internal local rivalry."   Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi had returned to Abu Dhabi for treatment.  
  Item Number:17 Date: 02/15/2017 UNITED KINGDOM - NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY CENTER OPENS NEW HQ IN LONDON (FEB 15/NCSC)  NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY CENTER -- Queen Elizabeth II has inaugurated the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) in central London.   Opened officially on Tuesday, the center is part of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the U.K.'s signal intelligence agency. Its mission includes securing the internet in the U.K. and responding to and managing cyber incidents, said a release from the NCSC on Monday.   The NCSC has been operating since October and is moving into the new cyber center, reported Reuters.   The center works with key critical infrastructure providers to assess and improve their security. The improved incident management process has already helped victims better manage the impact of successful cyber attacks, the NCSC said.   The organization is also seeking to embed people from industry to identify threats, vulnerabilities and develop advice to combat cyber attacks.   The NCSC has delivered trial services that proactively discover vulnerabilities in public sector websites; help government departments better manage spoofing of their email; and taken down tens of thousands of phishing sites affecting the U.K.   The center is part of a 1.9 billion pound (US$2.4 billion) program to boost cyber defenses in the U.K
Item Number:18 Date: 02/15/2017 USA - ALTERNATIVE STUDY PROJECTS LARGE UNMANNED COMPONENT FOR FUTURE NAVY FLEET ARCHITECTURE (FEB 15/BREAKDEF)  BREAKING DEFENSE -- A U.S. Navy team has produced an alternative fleet study to meet a congressional request, reports Breaking Defense.   The Alternative Future Fleet Platform Architecture Study "does not represent any official Navy position," but does offer an innovative vision for the future of the service.   The document calls for a future "battle force" of 321 manned ships, about 10 percent smaller than the official Navy program of 355. It is also much less than the parallel studies that Congress commissioned from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) think tank in Washington, D.C., which calls for 340 manned ships, and MITRE Corp., which calls for 414.   The Alternative Future Fleet proposes 138 large seagoing unmanned vessels for the 30-year shipbuilding plan, compared to 10 in the Navy's 2017 plan and 80 proposed by CSBA.   The proposal includes a mix of 48 unmanned underwater vessels to supplement the Navy's nuclear-powered attack submarines and 88 unmanned fast attack boats derived from the Mk V special operations vessel or the Mk VI patrol craft.   This approach would build on ongoing Navy experiments with converting standard small craft for unmanned operations.   The fast boats would be armed with anti-ship cruise missiles, mines or torpedoes and used to attack much larger vessels, according to the plan.   The Alternative Future Fleet sees a shift from aircraft carrier-centered operations to scattered task forces with manned and unmanned surface ships. There would also be many replenishment vessels for support and connected by a robust network.   This "distributed fleet" would create 10 times as many independent units capable of offensive operations as the existing force, according to the study.   Such a fleet would give U.S. commanders more options and create more platforms for adversaries to track. The use of electronic warfare would make this more difficult, says the analysis
Item Number:19 Date: 02/15/2017 USA - MARINES WANT CYBERWARRIORS WHO CAN ALSO HANDLE TRADITIONAL COMBAT REQUIREMENTS (FEB 15/MCT)  MARINE CORPS TIMES -- A top Marine officer says the Corps is trying to determine the best way to train personnel for cyber warfare and other high-tech career fields at the same time as maintaining fitness and infantry skill standards, reports the Marine Corps Times.   The service is examining how to train cyber warfare, electronic warfare and information operations personnel in conjunction with the requirements of the operational force, said Brig. Gen. Jason Bohm, the head of the Marine Corps Training Command, in an interview with the paper.   Physical fitness will remain important for cyberwarriors, because experience shows that those who are physically fit are typically more mentally sharp and can endure physical and mental challenges, Bohm said.   The service is going to modify training for infantry Marines because drones are going to be integrated at the squad level, the general said
Item Number:20 Date: 02/15/2017 USA - RUSSIA DENIES VIOLATING TREATY; U.S. OFFICIALS POINT TO GROUND-LAUNCHED CRUISE MISSILES (FEB 15/BBC)  BRITISH BROADCASTING CORP. -- Responding to published reports, Russia has denied violating a Cold War missile treaty by deploying a banned ground-based missile, reports the BBC.   The New York Times, citing Trump administration officials, reported on Tuesday that the Kremlin had deployed a ground-launched cruise missile that violates a 1987 treaty that bans U.S. and Russian intermediate-range land-based missiles.   Unnamed U.S. officials said that Russia now has two battalions, with the weapons being called SSC-8 cruise missiles. One unit is said to be at the missile test site at Kapustin Yar near Volgograd and the other has reportedly been shifted to an operational base somewhere else in Russia.   The State Dept. has not confirmed the report. However, a senior military official told CNN that the deployment was an apparent violation.   A Kremlin spokesman said on Wednesday that Russia continued to uphold its international commitments. "Nobody has formally accused Russia of violating the treaty," he said.   The Obama administration accused Russia of developing and testing cruise missiles in 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also said in the past that the treaty no longer serves Russia's interests.


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