Wednesday, March 15, 2017

TheList 4409

The List 4409

To All,
A bit of history and some tidbits. Beware the Ides of March
This Day In Naval History - March 15
1943 - Numbered fleet system established
1947 - Ensign John W. Lee becomes first African American officer commissioned in regular Navy. He was assigned to USS Kearsage.
1957 - Airship ZPG-2 lands NAS Key West after 11 day non-stop flight across the Atlantic
1966 - Establishment of River Squadron Five in Vietnam
This day in History
44 BC
Julius Caesar is assassinated by high-ranking Roman Senators.
Henry the Fowler routs the raiding Magyars at Merseburg, Germany.
Christopher Columbus returns to Spain after his first voyage to the New World.
In command of two frigates, the Frenchman la Perouse sails east from Botany Bay for the last lap of his voyage around the world.
Maine is admitted as the 23rd state.
General John Hunt Morgan begins four days of raids near the city of Gallatin, Tenn.
The Red River Campaign begins as the Union forces reach Alexandria, La.
New York State unveils the new automatic ballot voting machine.
Bone Mizell, the famed cowboy of Florida, appears before a judge for altering cattle brands.
The British complete the conquest of Nigeria.
Three hundred Russians are killed as the Japanese shell Port Arthur in Korea.
Italy proposes a European conference on the Balkans.
General John Pershing and his 15,000 troops chase Pancho Villa into Mexico.
Henry Ford restores the $5-a-day wage.
Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda bans four Berlin newspapers.
Germany occupies Bohemia and Moravia, Czechoslovakia.
Cassino, Italy is destroyed by Allied bombing.
Almost four years after the end of World War II, clothes rationing in Great Britain ends.
French General de Lattre demands that Paris send him more troops for the fight in Indochina.
The U.S. Air Force unveils the first self-guided missile.
The first performance of My Fair Lady, starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, takes place on Broadway.
Ten nations meet in Geneva to discuss disarmament.
Gamal Abdel Nasser is re-elected Egyptian President.
President Lyndon Johnson names Ellsworth Bunker as the new ambassador to Saigon. Bunker replaces Lodge.
The U.S. mint halts the practice of buying and selling gold.
Four Los Angeles police are charged in the beating of Rodney King.
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.
Thanks to Andy
             2017 Detroit Auto-Ramma
Didn't make it to the Detroit Auto-Rama?  Don't feel bad...I didn't either, but check out this photo show for the next best thing.  Whoever the photographer was, he did a great job...a ton of pictures, and worth looking at all of 'em. 

Thanks to Marathon

Assembling the Mighty Eighth
I came across this in an old list and thought it would be interesting to send it again
All – a great lessons learned, WWII flying story on a part of the mission that I often wondered about, but had never read anything about,
Subject: FW: GREAT READ....impressive to say the least
It's also hard to believe that a heavy bomber pilot only had to fly 30 missions to return home. 74% didn't make it! They have less total flying hours after 30 missions that we had in pilot training. Absolutely amazing.
From Chuck Boedeker:
I've been asked to offer a tribute to Col. Les Lennox, but when I read of his accomplishments, I struggle to find the words which will reflect accurately the service, sacrifice and lifeblood that he and thousands of other veterans selflessly gave to our country. So, I thought I'd let Col. Lennox speak for himself.
Here is the first of two memoirs from the pen of Leslie A. Lennox - Lt./Col USAF (ret). The second will follow in another note.
Leslie A. Lennox
Lt./Col. USAF(ret)
Of all the stories that have been written, and movies that have been shown, about the 8th Air Force, very little attention has been given to what was involved in assembling 1200 B-17's and B-24's each day, to get them in formation to carry out a strike against Germany. Certainly showing bombers under attack by fighters, or encountering heavy flak, was a reality, and are interesting to watch. Also, stories about some of the rougher missions make interesting reading. But what was going on over England, each morning, could get just as scary to the crews as the time spent over some of the targets. The planning, and coordination, that had to be accomplished during the night, by the operations planners of each Group, so that the crews could be briefed, was unbelievable. If the planners had failed to do their jobs properly, there would have been a free for all among Bomb Groups, in the skies over England. The rendezvous points, altitude, and times had to be precise, and known by all of the crews, before the Eighth Air Force could get in formation. The success of the planners, in accomplishing their mission, enabled the Eighth Air Force to become the most powerful air armada ever assembled. In my view, how this was accomplished is one of the major untold stories of the war.
I was a pilot in the 95th Bomb Group, in late 1944 and early 1945, and what follows is a typical mission, as I remember it, from a crew member's perspective.
Early in the evening, our Squadron Operations would post the names of the crews that were scheduled to fly the following day. There were two ways we could be notified if the Group had been alerted to fly. One was by means of lights on the front of the orderly room, and the other with raising of colored flags. If a green light was on, the Group was alerted, if a red light was on we would fly, and if a white light was on, the Group would stand down. The light was monitored frequently throughout the evening to learn our status and, normally, we would know before going to bed if we would be flying the next day.
On the morning of a mission, the CQ (charge of quarters) would awaken the crews about four or five o'clock, depending on takeoff time. The questions we always asked were, "What is the fuel load?" and, "What is the bomb load?" If his answer was," full Tokyo tanks," we knew we would be going deep into Germany. Shortly after being awakened, "6-by" trucks would start shuttling us to the mess hall. We always had all the fresh eggs we could eat, when flying a mission. After breakfast, the trucks carried us to the briefing room. All of the crew members attended the main briefing, and then the Navigators, Bombardiers and Radio operators went to a specialized briefing. At the main briefing, in addition to the target information--anti-aircraft guns, fighter escort and route in--we received a sheet showing our location in the formation, the call signs for the day and all the information we would need to assemble our Group and get into the bomber stream.
After briefing, we got into our flight gear, drew our parachutes and loaded onto the trucks for a ride to our plane. We were now guided by the time on our daily briefing sheet. We started engines at a given time and watched for the airplane we would be flying in formation with to taxi past, then we would taxi behind him. We were following strict radio silence.
We were now parked, nose to tail around the perimeter, on both sides of the active runway, and extremely vulnerable to a fighter strafing attack. At the designated takeoff time, a green flare would be fired and takeoff would begin. Every thirty seconds an airplane started takeoff roll. We were lined up on the perimeter so that the 12 airplanes of the high squadron would take off first, followed by the lead and then the low squadron.
Each Group had a pattern for the airplanes to fly during climb to assembly altitude. Some would fly a triangle, some a rectangle and our Group flew a circle, using a "Buncher" (a low frequency radio station) which was located on our station. The patterns for each Group fit together like a jig saw puzzle. Unfortunately, strong winds aloft would destroy the integrity of the patterns, and there would be considerable over running of each other's patterns.
Many of our takeoffs were made before daylight, during the winter of '44 and '45, when I was there, so it was not uncommon to climb through several thousand feet of cloud overcast. Also it was not uncommon to experience one or two near misses while climbing through the clouds, although you would never see the other airplane. You knew you had just had a near miss, when suddenly the airplane would shake violently as it hit the prop wash of another plane. It was a wonderful feeling to break out on top, so you could watch for other planes, to keep from running into each other. To add to the congestion we were creating, the Royal Air Force Lancasters, Halifaxes, and Wimpys would be returning from their night missions, and flying through our formations. Needless to say, pilots had to keep their heads on a swivel and their eyes out of the cockpit.
After take off, the squadron lead would fire a flare every 30 seconds, so that we could keep him located and enable us to get into formation quicker. The color of our Group flare was red-green. The first thing you would see, when breaking out of the clouds, was a sky filled with pyrotechnics, so you had to search the sky for the Group flare, which would identify the lead airplane of your Squadron. Once you had it located, you could adjust your pattern to climb more quickly into formation with him. As each airplane pulled into formation, they would also fire a flare, with the lead plane, making it much easier for the following aircraft to keep him in sight. I think most crew members would probably agree that the pyrotechnic show, in the skies over England, in the morning when the Eighth was assembling, was a rare sight to behold.
The order of progression for assembling the Eighth Air Force was to first assemble the Flight elements, the Squadrons, the Groups, the Combat wings, the Divisions and, finally, the Air Force.
As soon as the four Squadron elements were formed, the high, low and second elements would take up their positions on the lead element, to form a Squadron. When the three Squadrons had completed assembly, it was necessary to get into Group formation. This was accomplished by having the three Squadrons arrive over a pre-selected fix at a precise time and heading. The high and low Squadrons were separated from the lead Squadron by 1000 feet and, after getting into Group formation, they would maintain their positions by following the lead Squadron.
Then it was necessary to get into the Combat Wing formation. We were in the 13th Combat Wing, which consisted of three Bomb Groups: the 95th, the 100th and the 390th. Whichever Group was leading the Wing that day, would arrive over a pre-selected point, at a precise time and heading. Thirty seconds later, the second Group would pass that fix, followed by the third Group, thirty seconds later. We were then in Combat Wing formation. The navigators in the lead airplanes had a tremendous responsibility, to ensure that the rendezvous times were strictly adhered to.
There were three Divisions in the Eighth, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The 1st and 3rd Divisions consisted of B-17s only, and the 2nd Division was B-24s. The B-24s were faster than the B-17s, but the B-17s could fly higher, therefore, the two were not compatible in formation. As a result the 1st and 3rd Divisions would fly together and the 2nd Division would fly separately.
Now that the Groups were flying in Combat Wing formation, it was necessary to assemble the Divisions. This was usually accomplished at the "coast out"--a city on the coast, selected as the departure point "fix." The Group leader in each Combat Wing knew his assigned position in the Division, and the precise time that he should arrive at the coast out departure point, to assume that position in the Division formation. The lead Group in the Division, which had been selected to lead the Eighth on the mission, would be first over the departure fix. Thirty seconds after the last Group in the first Wing passed that point, the second Wing would fall in trail, and so on, until all Combat Wings were flying in trail and the Division would be formed. One minute later, the lead Group in the other Division would fly over that point, and the Combat Wings in that Division would follow the same procedure to get into formation. When all of its Combat Wings were in trail, the Eighth Air Force B-17 strike force was formed and on its way to the target. At the same time the 2nd Division B-24s were assembling in a similar manner and also departing to their target.
Meanwhile, as the bombers were assembling for their mission, pilots from the Fighter Groups were being briefed on their day's mission. Normally, 600 to 800 P-38's, P-47's, and P-51's would accompany the bombers to provide protection against enemy fighter attacks. Fighter cover was not needed by the bombers until they were penetrating enemy territory, therefore to help conserve fuel. fighter takeoffs were planned to give them enough time to quickly assemble after takeoff, and climb on course up the bomber stream to the groups they would be covering. The combined strength of the fighters and bombers brought the total number of aircraft participating in a mission to approximately two thousand.
A major problem that presented itself, on each mission, was that the bomber stream was getting too stretched out. It was not uncommon for the headlines in stateside newspapers--in trying to show the strength of our Air Force--to state that the first Group of bombers was bombing Berlin, while the last Group was still over the English Channel. It made great headlines but was a very undesirable situation. It meant that the Groups were out of position, and not keeping the proper separation. Furthermore, it was almost impossible for them to catch up and get back into the desired formation. This made the entire bomber stream more vulnerable to fighter attacks.
Finally, our planners figured out what we were doing wrong. When the first Group departed the coast out fix, it started its climb to what would be the bombing altitude. Then, as each succeeding Group departed that fix, it, too, would start climbing. The problem with this procedure was that, as soon as the first Group started its climb, its true airspeed would start to increase, and it would encounter different wind velocities. Now it would start to pull away from the Group in back of it, and the "stretchout" of the bomber stream would begin. By the time the last Group had reached the coast out, to start its climb, the first Group would be leveled off, with a true airspeed approaching 250 miles per hour, and the bomber stream would be really stretching out.
The solution to this problem that had been frustrating the Bomber crews for so long was pretty simple. We would no longer start climbing at the coast out, but instead, at a designated time, all Groups would start climbing, irrespective of position. This meant that we all would have similar true airspeeds and would be influenced by the same winds aloft. That took care of the problem. It was still possible for a Group to be out of position, because of poor timing, but the entire bomber stream wouldn't get all stretched out.
When you consider the way our Air Traffic Control system operates today, and all the facilities at their disposal to guide each individual airplane through the sky to ensure its safety, it's almost unbelievable that we were able to do what we did. To think of launching hundreds of airplanes, in a small airspace, many times in total darkness, loaded with bombs, with complete radio silence, and no control from the ground, and do it successfully day after day, with young air crews, with minimum experience, is absolutely mind boggling.
The accomplishments of the Eighth Air Force have been and will be reviewed by historians from World War II on. There never will be another air armada to compare to it. I feel confident that they will never cease to be amazed by our ability to assemble hundreds of heavy Bombers, under the conditions we were confronting, into the devastating strike force we now fondly refer to as, "The Mighty Eighth."
Item Number:1 Date: 03/15/2017 CANADA - FOLLOWING 30-YEAR CAREER, INTEL CHIEF TO STEP DOWN SOON (MAR 15/CP)  CANADIAN PRESS -- The head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has announced that he will retire at the end of May, reports the Canadian Press.   Michel Coulombe told CSIS employees on Monday that he will leave the intelligence agency after more than 30 years of service.   Coulombe joined CSIS in 1986, two years after it was created. He became its director in 2013, the first agency employee to hold that job.   Coulombe held a number of posts prior to becoming director, including deputy director of operations from 2010 to 2013; assistant director of foreign collection; and assistant director of intelligence. He also served in CSIS regional offices.  
 Item Number:2 Date: 03/15/2017 CHINA - NEWLY INSTALLED RADAR ABLE TO MONITOR S. KOREA, JAPAN, W. PACIFIC (MAR 15/ARIRANG)  ARIRANG -- China's military has installed an over-the-horizon radar in Inner Mongolia, says Chinese state media, as cited by Arirang News (South Korea).   The Tianbo radar is designed to detect and track intercontinental ballistic missiles.   The system, which was said to have been installed in January, has a range of about 1,860 miles (3,000 km), allowing it to monitor Japan, South Korea and the Western Pacific, according to the Chinese media reports.   The Tianbo radar is also capable of detecting F-35B Lighting II stealth fighters operating from the U.S. Marine base in Iwakuni, Japan, the reports maintained.   The radar installation is apparently a response to the decision by Washington and Seoul to install a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense in South Korea.  
  Item Number:3 Date: 03/15/2017 CHINA - TO DEFEND ITS GROWING INTERESTS, BEIJING WANTS TO EXPAND ITS MARINE FORCE (MAR 15/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- The Chinese government is planning to significantly increase the size of its marine corps in order to protect its maritime and overseas interests, reports the South China Morning Post, citing several experts and "insiders."   The unnamed sources said the Chinese military will expand the service from about 20,000 to 100,000 personnel.   Some of these additional troops would be stationed in Djibouti at ports operated by China and Gwadar in southwest Pakistan, the sources said.   The marine buildup fits into Beijing's wider effort to refocus the military from ground operations and towards responding to a variety of threats through specialized units.   Two brigades of special combat forces have already been transferred to the marines, nearly doubling its size to 20,000 troops, the sources said. A total of six brigades are planned, which would total 100,000 personnel.   The navy is also expected to grow by 15 percent from its current size of about 235,000 sailors, according to the sources.  
 Item Number:4 Date: 03/15/2017 GERMANY - ISLAMIST GROUP BANNED IN HILDESHEIM, MOSQUE CLOSED (MAR 15/DEWELLE)  DEUTSCHE WELLE -- German police have raided a banned Islamist group in Hildesheim, reports Deutsche Welle.   The Islamic Circle in Hildesheim (DIK) was formally banned on Tuesday. The organization has been under investigation since July 2016 over concerns it was radicalizing Muslims and encouraging them to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq, reported Reuters.   Raids on Tuesday targeted several businesses, the apartments of eight individuals linked to the group and the group's mosque.   The mosque was closed on Tuesday.   Anis Amri, the perpetrator of the deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market in December that killed 12 people, has been linked to one of the DIK's mosques
Item Number:5 Date: 03/15/2017 IRAQ - GOVERNMENT FORCES KILL ISIS COMMANDER IN OLD CITY, TAKE 3RD BRIDGE (MAR 15/REU)  REUTERS -- Iraqi federal police say government forces fighting the Islamic State in western Mosul are continuing to advance, including taking a key bridge, reports Reuters.   The Interior Ministry's rapid-response forces and federal police seized Mosul's "Iron Bridge," said police on Wednesday.   Iraqi forces now hold three of five bridges that span the Tigris River. All five were destroyed after government forces launched its Mosul offensive late last year. The eastern half in Mosul was taken in January; an operation to retake the west began on Feb. 19.   The troops are advancing toward the city's Grand Mosque in the Islamic State-held Old City, said a police spokesman.   Separately, a commander of the Counter-Terrorism Service told Reuters on Wednesday that the force had taken control of the Dor al-Sikak and al-Nafut areas, the site of ISIS' main weapons stores west of the Old City.   Also on Tuesday, the Islamic State's military commander in the Old City was killed, said federal police cited by Reuters
Item Number:6 Date: 03/15/2017 ISRAEL - 13 ARRESTS MADE FOR CORRUPTION IN STATE-RUN ISRAEL AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES (MAR 15/TOI)  TIMES OF ISRAEL -- Israeli police have arrested 13 people as part of a corruption investigation at a government defense firm, reports the Times of Israel.   On Wednesday, police raided the homes of several suspects, private offices and offices of the state-run Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), noted Globes (Israel). Those detained include a former senior Israeli military official, IAI employees and employees of companies that provided services to IAI, reported Haaretz.   Charges include fraud and aggravated fraud, money-laundering, theft by public officials and breach of trust, said a police statement.   A lengthy undercover investigation "has so far revealed systematic criminal conduct and suspected deep corruption, which is apparently common within the Israel Aerospace Industries," said the statement.   The probe has focused on suppliers providing bribes to IAI for contracts, reported Ynet News (Israel
  Item Number:7 Date: 03/15/2017 ISRAEL - SECURITY FORCES RAID WEST BANK, ARREST 23 PALESTINIANS (MAR 15/JP)  JERUSALEM POST -- Israeli security forces have arrested 23 suspects in the West Bank accused of terrorist activities, reports the Jerusalem Post.   Personnel from the police, military and the Shin Bet internal security service made the arrests after raids overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.   Fifteen of the detained are suspected of involvement in terrorism, mass disturbances and violence toward citizens and security forces, according to authorities.   Some of the suspects are believed to be members of Hamas, according to the news account
Item Number:8 Date: 03/15/2017 LEBANON - IRAN'S REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS SAID TO BE BEHIND HEZBOLLAH WEAPON FACTORIES (MAR 15/HA)  HAARETZ -- The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has constructed weapon construction facilities in Lebanon and turned them over to Hezbollah, says a Kuwaiti newspaper, as cited by Haaretz (Israel).   The various factories reportedly can build different types of rockets and missiles, including some with a range of more than 310 miles (500 km); land-based anti-ship missiles; and anti-tank missiles, reported Kuwait's Al-Jarida newspaper, which cited an unnamed senior IRGC official as its source.   Armored vehicles and armed unmanned aerial vehicles can also be produced, said the account.   Hezbollah has tested some of these weapons in Syria, where they have proven successful, said the newspaper.   Tehran's move is said to be a response to attacks on a weapons factory in Sudan and convoys carrying arms to Hezbollah. Those attacks have been attributed to Israel.   To avoid detection, the facilities are said to be underground and each produces components for later assembly elsewhere
Item Number:9 Date: 03/15/2017 LIBYA - OIL PORTS BACK IN CONTROL OF HAFTAR'S FORCES (MAR 15/VOA)  VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS -- Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar say they have regained control of two key Libyan oil ports in Libya's east, reports the Voice of America News.   The Libyan National Army lost control of the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider oil ports earlier this month to a rival jihadist militia called the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB). The LNA began a ground operation to retake the ports on Tuesday.   After seizing the oil ports, the BDB reportedly handed over control to the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which is affiliated to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.   An LNA spokesman said Tuesday that its forces had recaptured the ports and were pursuing fighters toward the town of Ben Jawad, about 20 miles west of Es Sider, reported Reuters.   Haftar and the LNA are allied to the rival government in eastern city of Tobruk
  Item Number:10 Date: 03/15/2017 NIGERIA - FEMALE BOMBERS KNOCK ON DOOR, EXPLODE BOMBS IN RESIDENTIAL AREA NEAR MAIDUGURI (MAR 15/NAIJ)  NAIJ -- Suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers have killed at least two people in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, reports Naij (Nigeria).   Four females knocked on the door of a house in the Muna Garage area of the city on Wednesday before blowing themselves up, according to a statement from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).   In addition to the bombers, two people were killed and at least 16 wounded, said the agency.   Targeting individual homes is a new target, said officials cited by Reuters. Boko Haram's hallmark tactic has been to target crowded areas with its suicide bombers
  Item Number:11 Date: 03/15/2017 NORTH KOREA - HALF-SISTER OF DICTATOR SAID TO BE LEADER OF KEY MILITARY BODY (MAR 15/YON)  YONHAP -- An expert from a South Korean think tank says the older half-sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un may be the head of a key military organization, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul).   Kim Sol Song is apparently leading the body that makes decision for of the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army, said Lee Yun Keol, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seongnam City.   "The decision-making organ was said to have been created under the regime of Kim Jong Il, helping the current leader rule the country," Lee said. "Kim Jong Un is at the top of this body, but in reality, Kim Sol Song is the person in charge."   The role of the half-sister has been a matter of debate among experts. Some analysts said she had long been kept away from power.   The half-sister was born in 1974 to the late former leader Kim Jong Il and his second wife Kim Yong Suk. She has a different mother than current leader Kim Jong Un.   Lee said that Kim Sol Song could "be serving as chief vice chairperson of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK)." She might also be the first vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC).   The SAC was established last year in place of the National Defense Commission and is headed by Kim Jong Un and has three vice chairman, including top military official Hwang Pyong So.  
  Item Number:12 Date: 03/15/2017 RUSSIA - NEW DEAL ALLOWS S. OSSETIA'S TROOPS TO JOIN RUSSIAN ARMY (MAR 15/RFE/RL)  RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a plan that essentially incorporates military units from the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia into the Russian armed forces, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   On Monday, a draft agreement was published in Moscow that would allow separatists in South Ossetia to serve as contract soldiers in the Russian military. Putin ordered on Tuesday for the Foreign and Defense Ministries to conclude that agreement.   South Ossetian personnel will be able to transfer to the Russian military and serve at a Russian base in the region. The deal allows the Russian military to recruit them as contractors after they are dismissed from active duty in South Ossetia, reported Al Jazeera.   Moscow has controlled South Ossetia and nearby Abkhazia since a brief war with Georgia in 2008.   Georgia criticized the move, saying that "any agreement between the Russian Federation and de facto leadership [of South Ossetia] is illegitimate
  Item Number:13 Date: 03/15/2017 SOMALIA - PIRATES HIJACK TANKER OFF SOMALIA, DEMAND RANSOM, SAYS E.U. FORCE (MAR 15/NEWEEK)  NEWSWEEK -- Armed pirates who seized an oil tanker off the coast of Somalia earlier this week are demanding an unspecified ransom, says the European Union's anti-piracy force.   Somali pirates hijacked the ship on Monday; the Aris-13 is a Comoros-flagged tanker, noted Newsweek. Other reports listed different owners.   The tanker was en route to Mogadishu from Djibouti when it sent a distress signal on Monday saying it was being followed by two skiffs, reported Sky News (U.K.).   The E.U.'s Naval Force Operation Atalanta said in a statement on Tuesday that it had made contact with the ship's master and that Somali pirates had demanded a ransom.   The tanker is anchored off the Somali town of Alula, according to locals.   Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry confirmed that eight of its nationals were crewing the ship
  Item Number:14 Date: 03/15/2017 SOUTH SUDAN - AID WORKERS SAFELY RELEASED, SAYS GROUP (MAR 15/SUDTRIB)  SUDAN TRIBUNE -- Rebels in South Sudan denied reports that their fighters had kidnapped eight local workers of an international charity on Monday, reports the Sudan Tribune.   By Tuesday afternoon, local time, the workers had been released.   Eight workers with the U.S.-based Samaritan Purse charity were apparently abducted from a village near Mayendit, about 420 miles (680 km) northeast of the capital of Juba, South Sudanese military officials told Reuters.   What actually happened is unclear, with conflicting accounts.   The military claimed that the workers were being held for ransom in the form of food deliveries.   "We do not have any relation with this incident," a rebel spokesman told the Tribune. "This is a mere rumor spread by the government."   Shortly thereafter, the aid group announced that the workers had been released. "Samaritan's Purse is thankful to God for the safe release of our South Sudanese national staff, who had been detained by armed personnel in the Mayendit area of South Sudan. They were all released Tuesday afternoon local time," said a statement released by Samaritan's Purse, as cited by the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.   "There was no ransom request, and they are on the way to a safe location at this time. We are grateful for the World Food Program's support in helping us relocate our staff," said the statement.   The country is suffering from a famine. At least 5 million people, or more than 40 percent of population, are said to be in need of urgent food assistance, according to aid agencies.  
  Item Number:15 Date: 03/15/2017 SWEDEN - ADDITIONAL DEFENSE SPENDING EXPECTED TO GO TO READINESS, EQUIPMENT (MAR 15/RADSWE)  RADIO SWEDEN -- The Swedish government has decided to increase defense spending by US$55 million this year beyond previous plans, reports Radio Sweden.   The boost was announced on Monday by the government and three opposition parties within the "defense group" after two months of negotiations.   The additional funding will contribute to better readiness, additional exercises and more equipment, said Gen. Micael Byden, the head of the Swedish armed forces.   The funding will go to military and civil defense, said government officials. About US$8.3 million will be allocated to regional and municipal efforts to improve preparedness against cyber attacks.   Some of the military monies will cover the return of air defense systems to the strategic island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.   The defense group also agreed that a further defense spending increase will be needed in 2018, said Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist.   Sweden had already earmarked about US$5 billion for defense spending in 2017, according to a defense site cited by Al Jazeera.  
  Item Number:16 Date: 03/15/2017 SYRIA - 2 DOZEN DIE IN SUICIDE ATTACK AT JUSTICE PALACE IN DAMASCUS (MAR 15/REU)  REUTERS -- A suicide bombing at a courthouse in Syria's capital has killed at least 25 people, reports Reuters, citing state news media.   Wednesday's blast hit the Palace of Justice in central Damascus, close to the Old City, reported state news agency SANA.   Police tried to stop the attacker from entering, but he forced himself into the building and then blew himself up, reported CNN.   Perhaps 25 others were wounded, noted Al Jazeera.   There was no immediate claim of responsibility.   A double suicide bomb attack last week killed at least 40 Iraqi Shi'ite pilgrims at a religious shrine in Damascus. Tarir al-Sham, an Islamist coalition that includes former Al-Qaida affiliate Nusra Front (now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham), claimed responsibility for that attack
Item Number:17 Date: 03/15/2017 USA - ARMY NOW CARRIES ITS OWN GEAR FOR DEPLOYMENTS (MAR 15/DN)  DEFENSE NEWS -- In a change from recent practice, the U.S. Army no longer uses equipment caches, known as "activity sets," in Europe and South Korea for deploying units to use for exercises and other operations, reports Defense News.   The service is now focusing on how well it can deploy its forces and their equipment from the continental United States to other theaters, according to Gen. Gus Perna, the head of Army Materiel Command. The general made his comments Monday in an interview at the Association of the U.S. Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.   One example cited by the general is the fact that a new armored brigade combat team that is deploying to Europe with all of its gear will bring everything home when it rotates back to the U.S.   The activity sets that have been used of late were only intended as a bridging strategy in Europe and South Korea as operations ramped up in both regions.   However, this approach did not allow for units to practice deploying equipment vital to a U.S.-based Army, said Perna.   Pre-positioned stocks located in each combatant command for contingency and rapid-response operations will remain,
 Item Number:18 Date: 03/15/2017 USA - KITS HELP MARINES BLAST THEIR WAY INTO ENEMY-HELD BUILDINGS (MAR 15/MCT)  MARINE CORPS TIMES -- Select units in the U.S. Marine Corps are fielding the Military Enhancement Kit (MEK), say service officials.   The MEK transforms existing M500A2 pump-action shotguns into a more compact weapon for breaching operations, reports the Marine Corps Times.   The shotgun can be used to breach enemy-held buildings with a minimal amount of force.   The MEK is a ballistic tool that is used to safely shoot locks off doors. It has three interchangeable buttstock options and a shorter, vented barrel making it less cumbersome than the M500A2, according to a recent release by Marine Corps Systems Command.   The kit is designed to augment shotguns now used by Marine reconnaissance, security forces, military police, explosive ordnance disposal and special operations units.  
  Item Number:19 Date: 03/15/2017 USA - NEW INDICTMENTS UNSEALED IN NAVY SCANDAL; ACCUSED INCLUDE RETIRED ADMIRAL (MAR 15/SDUT)  SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE -- The U.S. Justice Dept. has indicted nine more U.S. Navy officials in connection to a major corruption scandal, reports the Sand Diego Union-Tribune.   The accused included an admiral who was the director of naval intelligence operations before retiring.   The Justice Dept. unsealed an indictment on Tuesday in federal court in San Diego, charging retired Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, several Navy captains, a retired Marine colonel and an enlisted Marine.   Federal agents conducted a coordinated operation to arrest the defendants across six states, said authorities.   Those indicted are accused of taking bribes in the form of gifts, prostitutes and luxury hotels from Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor, noted the Washington Post. Charges include bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators.   In exchange, those charged allegedly provided classified or inside information to Francis' Gelnn Defense Marine Asia (GMDA), allowing the firm to overcharge the Navy by US$20 million, reported NBC News.   The indictment noted that the defendants called themselves "the Cool Kids," the "Band of Brothers" and "The Lion King's Harem," among other names.   Twenty-five individuals have been charged in the case. Thirteen have already pleaded guilty, noted CNN
  Item Number:20 Date: 03/15/2017 USA - UNMANNED ARMORED COMBAT VEHICLE CONCEPT NOW BACK IN PLAY (MAR 15/DN)  DEFENSE NEWS -- BAE Systems is bringing back its Armed Robotic Combat Vehicle (ARCV) concept, which was originally developed for the terminated Future Combat Systems program, reports Defense News.   The company is displaying a mockup at this week's Association of the U.S. Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala. The decision to display the concept came after the Army's recent publication of its strategy on robotics and autonomous systems.   The ARCV was developed in cooperation with Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, which helped to integrate much of its autonomous capability, said BAE officials.   The robot uses a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor to navigate and is armed with a 30-mm cannon.   The concept calls for a soldier to control the ARCV from the back of a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, possibly in a wingman role. It could also be controlled by a soldier on the ground for reconnaissance or to attack a specific target, the officials said.


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