Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fw: TheList 4510

This is a resend of yesterday's list. Not sure why it did not go out. My apologies skip
The List 4510
To All,
I hope your week has been going well.
This Day In Naval History - July 27
1953 - Korean War armistice signed at Panmunjon, Korea and Korean cease-fire went into effect at 10:00 PM.
Today in History July 27
At the Battle of Bouvines in France, Philip Augustus of France defeats John of England.
Frederick II is deposed by a council at Lyons, which found him guilty of sacrilege.
Sir Walter Raleigh returns to England from Virginia.
The British Parliament passes a second Navigation Act, requiring all goods bound for the colonies be sent in British ships from British ports.
The Scottish Jacobites experience a victory over government-supporting clans at the Battle of Killiecrankie.
The Marquis of Lafayette arrives in New England to help fight the British.
British and French fleets fight to a standoff in the first Battle of Ushant.
Robespierre becomes a member of the Committee of Public Safety.
President Abraham Lincoln replaces General Irwin McDowell with General George B. McClellen as head of the Army of the Potomac.
The International Workers of the World found their labor organization in Chicago.
Orville Wright sets a world record for staying aloft in an airplane--one hour, 12 minutes and 40 seconds.
British troops invade the streets of Dublin, Ireland, and begin to disarm Irish rebels.
Canadians Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolate insulin at the University of Toronto.
U.S. troops complete the liberation of Guam.
Representatives of the United Nations, Korea and China sign an armistice at Panmunjom, Korea.
President Lyndon Johnson sends an additional 5,000 advisers to South Vietnam.
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran dies in Cairo, Egypt.
William Wyler, director of Ben Hur, dies.
Israeli guns and aircraft pound southern Lebanon in reprisal for rocket attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas.
The largest air show disaster in history occurs when a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashes during an air show at Lviv, Ukraine, killing 85 and injuring more than 100 others.
Thanks to GBox
The Hanoi Pickup You Didn't Hear About ...
Originator was a retired C-141 pilot …
WOW !!!  Yes, My Dear Friend, I last read of it "eons ago" - the Hercs (C-130s) were actually from the 90th SOS (MACV-SOG) at Nha Trang and had "covert weaponry" just in case. This story was Top Secret for a long time.
If you ever witnessed one Herc blow starting another Herc (that was parked directly behind the 'front guy') with a broken engine starter, you would realize the wind gale a Herc can produce - and you can imagine some NVA guards being blown ass-over-tea-kettle as the taxiing Hercs came to full take off power leaving the parking area.  (I once saw a Herc blow a GCA trailer over in a hurry to get out ahead of a mortar attack.)
The image is heart-warming, isn't it ???
Thanks much, My Dear Friend, for the heart-warming look back.

The following is a little known part of the saga of the ending of hostilities known as the Vietnam War. Most are aware of the return of the POW's in 1973 via the several timed C-141 airlifts out of Hanoi that became known as the "Hanoi Taxi". However, this is THE REST OF THE STORY, as Paul Harvey used to say. It's a story, earmarked by an even more realistic sadness, the retrieval of the LAST fallen American heroes of the Vietnam War. 
The Hanoi Pick Up You Haven't Heard of Before 
I'm sorry this has taken so long. I would be a great procrastinator if I ever got around to it!! 
I've been toying for years about writing the full story, but just haven't done it. May still do it some day.
I'll give you a down and dirty version so I don't waste too much of your time.  
A little background first: 
I had flown in and out of Hanoi twice before---flying out of U-Tapao AB, Thailand with the peace negotiating team. Both times we were ordered to wear civilian clothes and be nice to them. They took our pictures as we sat around a table for a briefing. The infamous "Rabbit" was in charge. At least that's who we thought it was. Big ears. They then took us to a hotel and fed us in a banquet room. 
The food was delicious and we were ordered to drink their beer when offered. It didn't taste too bad and was only about 2-3% so the brass weren't concerned about us being able to fly afterwards. Then they took us to museums---their War Museum on the first mission. They had parts of our warplanes that had been shot down and also showed us the gun where Hanoi Jane Fonda sat for that infamous picture. I don't know if it was the real gun or not---didn't matter---I think they just wanted a reaction. 
They got none from any of us. We were allowed to take photos of certain areas. They wouldn't let us take pix of their rail marshaling yard which was full of bomb craters and wrecked engines---I got some anyway with my little Minox spy camera. 
On the next trip they took us to their Peace Museum. Absolutely stunning!!! Lots of HUGE white jade figures. A beautiful museum. Our bombs never got close to it. Strangely enough they told us that the wrecked train yard was where they were fixing their engines. If you didn't know better it could have looked true. There was not a single bomb crater outside of the yard. All buildings were intact!!! A lot more happened there, but don't want to bore you with all the details. They were very proud of their many manhole covers in the sidewalks which they used to hide from our bombing raids. All three trips were interesting!! 
Anyway, that is was why I was chosen to lead a two ship formation of C-130's, to retrieve our fallen heroes. I just happened to be TDY at U-Tapao from Clark AB where I was stationed. That should set the stage A little too wordy, but it should help you to understand my involvement. 
I was one of only a few crew members on either plane to have been there before. Our Mission Commander was Col Novas and we had a one star on board with an open line to President Nixon. It was a fairly high priority mission. 
After stopping in Saigon for a final briefing in Saigon, our two C-130E's (with augmented crews) left Tan Son Nhut AB and went "feet wet" up the coast of Vietnam. We stayed about 30 miles off the coast so as not to bother anyone. We hit the mouth of the Red River and turned upstream toward our destination---Gia Lam Airport just east of Hanoi. 
We were encountering broken clouds which were getting worse. After going over Thuan Nghiep the river straightens out considerably so I requested we drop to about 1500 feet so I could better make out the landmarks---both on radar but mainly visual---when I could see the ground. I wasn't about to trust the radio aids from Gia Lam nor Hanoi. Before we descended we could easily make out Hai Phong harbor on our radar about 40 miles to the Northeast so we were on track. 
We made contact with Hanoi and advised them of our impending approach into their territory This had all been pre-arranged so no problem there. It was on up-river that they started screwing around with us and trying to subtly get us confused. 
They were trying to get us lost and force us to abort the mission so they could say we caused an international incident by not picking up those who died in captivity when everything had been arranged. That's another reason I had been picked to lead. They tried to spoof us on earlier missions by moving the ADF and VORTAC ever so slightly to locations which would cause us to fly into restricted airspace. In fact a crew a few weeks earlier bought the spoof and was threatened with a "shoot down" if they didn't abort the mission so that made this mission even more critical If you were watching closely enough, you could see the needles quiver a little each time they changed location. They were good at it though so I had the other nav continually watch for that in case we lost visual or radar contact. I had my head out the front searching for ground fixes. 
Then, they really tried to get us fouled up. The second plane was following closely, mainly by keeping us on their radar---depending on us to lead them in. Hanoi Approach Control called us and told us to take up a heading to final. The pilot started to turn and I virtually screamed into the mike "Negative, Negative--Maintain Heading". That was the first of three times they tried to get us to turn too soon After the second time, Col Novis told the pilot to ignore the tower and go by my direction only. I knew we were still about 30-45 miles out and they were doing their best to get us off course and lost in that bad weather with low ceilings and get us to an area with which we were not familiar. The weather was really bad---the cloud cover was closer to full than "broken". We would get a break in the undercast every mile or so. We descended to about 1000 feet, which helped some. 
Now---remember that bridge that they tried so hard to take down during the war? We lost a lot of F-105 Thuds & F-4's there. That bridge and a huge sand bar about 3 miles downstream were my aiming points. I was getting a little concerned when they weren't coming in view as fast as I thought they should. Guess I was just overly anxious. I checked the radar and found both about 15 miles ahead. I alerted the pilot to be ready to turn and he relayed to #2 that we would turn in a couple of minutes. 
Ground Approach had given up trying to get us to turn early after a few scoldings from them that we were ignoring their instructions. We did not answer. We descended a little farther so I could get a visual on both the sand bar and the bridge. I remembered where we had turned on my earlier approaches. We flew about 30 seconds past the sand bar and with the bridge in sight I told the pilot to turn to the appropriate heading.  I seem to recall it was 335 degrees---but not sure now. Descent was begun and both planes broke out at about 750 feet. There it was right in front of us. I strapped myself in. The other aircraft radioed a "Talley Ho" so we knew everything was fine or so we thought. 
After we landed Ground Control took over and marshaled us to the proper area to pick up the remains of our guys. There were two green tents and they were having us come in and turn so that our prop wash would flow directly on the tents---probably blowing them away. Our Aircraft Commander called for neutral props and warned the second aircraft to do likewise. Both planes coasted in to a nice easy stop in the right place.  I'm sure to the disappointment of the marshalling crews. 
Col Novas made the decision on the spot to set up an Honor Guard in front of each tent. This time we were in our Class A's and were not under ANY orders to associate with the enemy. We all felt better about that.  He sent us out two at a time at 15 minute intervals, each pair did facing movements to relieve the previous pair as time dictated. The first pair at our tent was Col Novas and our pilot. 
The tent flaps were tied wide open. What the first set of Honor Guards and ultimately all of us saw was several stacks of green boxes with a rock on them, with white painted names and dates. The sight was shocking and really ticked us off. Unfortunately, I do not remember any of the names. The boxes which in reality were coffins were about 30 inches by 18 inches by 18 inches. It tore us up to think that our guys who had suffered so much were in those tiny green boxes. We all decided individually and as a team, that the Vietnamese would never touch our fallen comrades again. 
The Honor Guard rotation was maintained for well over two hours while the final release papers were being signed at their government offices in downtown Hanoi. Obviously, the North Vietnamese didn't know what to think of the Honor Guard. We saw the guys who had been our escorts on earlier trips. They smiled and waved at us. We glared back at them. Some civilians tried to get close to watch and they were chased back over the dikes by armed guards. 
We were finally given the OK to load our precious cargo onto the waiting C-130's---their cargo ramps open as they sat waiting. As the word came that we could begin returning our guys to American soil---in this case our C-130's, the North Vietnamese moved in to begin loading. We immediately formed a cordon around the tents, though unarmed, we motioned for the NVA guards to stop, and basically dared the armed NVA to try us. They stopped with a puzzled look on their faces, but never tried to cross the line. They had touched our heroes for the last time. 
It was early evening by then and the General was back by then and became part of our new makeshift Honor Guard set up on both sides of the C-130 ramps. I was part of three pairs who tenderly picked up a "coffin," with it's "headstone" and proceeded up the ramp. Two more were inside the plane to place an American flag over each fallen hero as he came on board. We exited thru the crew door to go retrieve another hero The General led the others on either side of the ramps in a military "Hand Salute," as each box of remains passed on board. I don't remember exactly how many bodies we recovered---seems like 36, but each was treated with ultimate respect. We took our time to make sure all were properly honored. It took a considerable amount of time, but we didn't care. We did it right. 
We all finally boarded both C-130's and buttoned them up.  As we were getting all four engines turning I noticed the pilot had a wicked smile on his face. I listened on a discreet channel while he suggested to the other pilot to change prop pitch after they began moving and turn the planes so that the prop wash would now hit the two green tents and the Vietnam officials and NVA soldiers gathered around them. 
The turn was smooth, slow and graceful until the aircraft Loadmaster gave the word. Then suddenly eight turboprops from two stopped C-130E's, at full military power, at full forward pitch, for about 3-5 seconds, with brakes on, were on full display. They then changed the pitch back to the taxi setting, but we got turned around in time to see the tents flying and some of the folks we had just left were rolling on the ground. We received departure instructions from the tower and began an uneventful trip back to Saigon and on to U-Tapao to the Identification folks from Hawaii, stationed there. The General informed President Nixon that extraction had been completed successfully. 
Further ID would be performed at Hickam AFB as necessary. Our heroes were taken to Hickam AFB by C-141's. I have talked to many people about this extraction of our fallen comrades and to a man they thought that the C-141's did the entire mission. I hope someone will set the story straight someday. In fact, I have never seen anything about C-130's being involved with the extraction of the first of those American heros who died in captivity. Believe me I know C-130's were used.  I may have missed some story about it, because I had to get busy for my PCS stateside the next month. I have never heard anything about that mission since. Well, Bill, that's about it. As I said a lot more little things happened on all three trips---even some funny things on the first two, but that third mission was the best thing I ever did in my 24 year USAF career 
Sorry to be so wordy and focused on "I" & "me", but I'm not sure how else I could tell it with any conviction. 
PS: Somehow, I forgot to turn in my log and charts from the mission and no one else thought about it. I had them for a long time, but they disappeared---probably on my move to CO from AL. I sure wish I could find them again.  They are really historical documents. 
I did meet a woman at one of our OCS reunions whose husband was on board that day. I was completely speechless as she thanked me. 
xxxxxxxxxx, 48th ATS, USAF, Ret.
Thanks to Bill…..Watching the guards is very sobering. The site is quiet and is kept that way by the guards. When I was there the guard stopped and turned and made a statement to the effect that there will be quiet at the site as there were a couple of folks that were loud and disrespectful. They got the message.
Jeopardy Question:
On Jeopardy the other night, the final question was "How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns?" All three contestants missed it!   
This is really an awesome sight to watch if you've never had the chance.
Fascinating. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps:  It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign
2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1.
Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and, if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.
How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be
between 5' 10' and 6' 2' tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30.
They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot
drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way.
After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they
served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey
these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.
The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.
There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as
they come to a halt.
There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length
The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone nor watch TV.
All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in
ArlingtonNationalCemetery.A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are:
President Taft,
Joe Lewis {the boxer}
Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame.
Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.
 In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington,DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days
off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of
the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of
the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that
guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment,it was the highest honor that can be
afforded to a service person. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.
Item Number:1 Date: 07/27/2017 AFGHANISTAN - 5 MORE SCANEAGLE UAVS ORDERED FOR SECURITY FORCES FROM U.S. (JUL 27/DOD)  DEPT. OF DEFENSE -- The U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., has awarded a contract to Insitu, Bingen, Wash., for additional unmanned aerial vehicles for the Afghan security forces, reports the Dept. of Defense.   The US$19.6 million delivery order under a previously issued basic ordering agreement covers five ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems; spare parts; support equipment; and associated technical support, said a Pentagon release on Tuesday.   Work will take place in Afghanistan (95 percent) and Bingen (5 percent), and is scheduled to be completed in April 2018
Item Number:2 Date: 07/27/2017 AFGHANISTAN - SECURITY OFFICIALS RECOVER PAIR OF PAKISTANI DIPLOMATS KIDNAPPED IN JUNE (JUL 27/DAWN)  DAWN -- Afghan security forces have rescued two Pakistani diplomatic staff who were abducted last month in Afghanistan, reports Dawn (Pakistan).   Afghanistan's Foreign Office made the announcement about Wednesday's recovery, reported Pakistan's Express Tribune.   The Pakistanis are members of the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province. They were kidnapped on June 16 while heading to the Torkham border-crossing by road, said officials.   Afghan President Ashraf Ghani personally informed Pakistani authorities in Kabul about the rescue, according to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.   The officials were handed over to the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul. They are expected to return to Pakistan soon.   No details were given of the recovery of the officials, or who had taken them.   The development may ease tensions between the neighbor – who blamed each other for harboring terrorists.  
  Item Number:3 Date: 07/27/2017 CANADA - NORAD OVERHAUL STRESSES CRUISE MISSILE THREAT (JUL 27/CBC)  CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION -- The U.S. and Canada plan to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).   Doing that might put Ottawa in a position requiring difficult decisions, according to experts cited by CBC News.   For example, Canada might need to invest in technology able to defend against cruise missiles. However, Ottawa has long been hesitant to get involved with missile defense ventures.   At the same time, there is currently no bilateral political consensus on what elements of NORAD might be overhauled, said Andrea Charron of the University of Manitoba.   U.S. military commanders generally see defending against cruise missiles as a mission of growing importance for the command.   The potential need to act pre-emptively to prevent a cruise missile attack would be difficult for Canada, which has traditionally preferred less aggressive approaches.   As a compromise, Ottawa might agree to host anti-cruise missile batteries, said Charron.   The NORAD overhaul will also have implications for Canada's recently released defense strategy, elements of which were not included in the carefully costed document.  
  Item Number:4 Date: 07/27/2017 CHINA - NEW MILITARY AGENCY ASSIGNED TO DEVELOP ADVANCED EQUIPMENT, WEAPONS (JUL 27/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- The Chinese military has established a new agency that oversees the development of advanced weapons, such as stealth aircraft and electromagnetic guns, reports the South China Morning Post.   The Scientific Research Steering Committee was set up in early 2017.   However, it was only revealed this week in a documentary carried by state broadcaster CCTV, noted the Financial Times (U.K.).   The committee reports to the Central Military Commission, led by President Xi Jinping.   The new agency appears to be modeled after the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).   Xi has been pushing a major military overhaul since coming to power in 2012, with the goal of transforming the People's Liberation Army into an advanced combat force.   The new steering committee and the CMC Science and Technology Commission will drive military scientific and technological innovation, said CCTV
  Item Number:5 Date: 07/27/2017 DEM REP OF CONGO - WANTED FOR YEARS, WARLORD TURNS HIMSELF IN TO U.N. FORCES (JUL 27/ALJAZ)  AL JAZEERA -- A rebel warlord wanted for crimes against humanity has surrendered to U.N. forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports Al Jazeera (Qatar).   Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, the founder of Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC) (also known as Mai Mai Sheka), give himself up on Wednesday to peacekeepers in the DRC's North Kivu region.   Sheka had been wanted by Congolese authorities, reported Reuters.   He is accused of crimes against humanity, including mass rapes and hacking civilians to death, reported the BBC.   His forces, alongside two other armed groups, raped at least 87 civilians between July 30 and August 2, 2010, for alleged collaboration with Congolese government forces, according to the U.N.   Sheka handed himself in "in full awareness of the fact that he is wanted by the government ... to stand trial for alleged crimes," said the U.N. mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).   It was not clear why Sheka surrendered. He was transferred to Goma, the capital of the province.  
 Item Number:6 Date: 07/27/2017 GERMANY - INVESTIGATORS PROBE FATAL CRASH OF GERMAN PEACEKEEPING HELICOPTER IN MALI (JUL 27/DEWELLE)  DEUTSCHE WELLE -- Investigators from Germany are on the way to Mali to search for the flight data recorder of a helicopter that crashed on Wednesday.   The German attack helicopter went down in eastern Mali. The two pilots were killed, says the Bundeswehr, as reported by Deutsche Welle.   The Tiger helicopter went down about 45 miles north of Gao, said a military statement. The German pilots were the first killed in combat since 2013 in Afghanistan, said a military spokesman.   The Germans were part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA). U.N. forces have already been dispatched to the crash site.   The helicopter was monitoring ground "confrontations," said a U.N. spokesman.   A German military official cited by Reuters said that there was no evidence the helicopter was downed by an attack. Flights of other Tiger helicopters have been temporarily suspended.   Around 875 German troops are part of the 13,000-strong MINUSMA mission. Germany sent eight attack and transport helicopters to support the mission.  
Item Number:7 Date: 07/27/2017 IVORY COAST - SOLDIERS AMONG THOSE ARRESTED FOR RAID, ARMS THEFT AT ABIDJAN BASE (JUL 27/REU)  REUTERS -- Authorities in Ivory Coast arrested five people, including three soldiers earlier this week. The arrests were linked to an attack and a weapons theft at a base of an elite security unit, say senior officials cited by Reuters.   A number of gunmen, including some said to be in uniform, attacked the base on July 19, killing an officer and stealing weapons.   The base is located in the national police academy in Abidjan. The attackers later clashed with security forces in another part of the city.   Youssouf Kouyate, the head of the national police, announced the arrests late Tuesday on state television. Two active-duty soldiers and another one medical leave were among those detained.   The weapons that were stolen were recovered, he said.   The suspects, had allegedly made a similar attack on a gendarme base in the town of Azaguie two days earlier, said Interior Minister Sidiki Diakite.  
  Item Number:8 Date: 07/27/2017 JAPAN - F-15 LANDING LIGHT FALLS ON NAHA AIRPORT, AFFECTING BOTH COMMERCIAL, MILITARY FLIGHTS (JUL 27/S&S)  STARS AND STRIPES -- A mishap involving a Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15 temporarily shut down a runway at Naha airport earlier this week, reports the Stars and Stripes.   On Wednesday morning, a landing light cover fell off the F-15 while it was taking off from the airport, causing a 52-minute delay, said an airport official.   By the afternoon, four commercial flights had been canceled and 26 flights were delayed. Three commercial flights were diverted to Kadena air base and two to Miyako island airport, the official said.   Workers found broken glass on the runway, said a military spokesman. In addition to the commercial planes, nine other F-15s were diverted to Kadena, he added
Item Number:9 Date: 07/27/2017 JAPAN - SUSPECTED PEACEKEEPING COVERUP EXPECTED TO LEAD TO RESIGNATION OF DEFENSE MINISTER, TOP GENERAL (JUL 27/NHK)  NHK -- Japanese government officials say Defense Minister Tomomi Inada will soon resign over an alleged coverup involving military activity logs in South Sudan, reports Japan's NHK broadcaster.   An investigation has reportedly revealed that officials tried to hide information about the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, noted Reuters.   The activity logs apparently detailed the deteriorating security situation in Juba, South Sudan's capital, when fighting broke out there in July 2016.   The Defense Ministry initially said the records were discarded. However, media reports in March said that the information had been kept and that there had been a coverup. The ministry launched a probe that is expected to be made public on Friday.   Inada plans to resign as early as Friday, said the NHK on Thursday.   Gen. Toshiya Okabe, the head of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force, also intends to resign, said Defense Ministry sources
  Item Number:10 Date: 07/27/2017 LEBANON - REBELS, HEZBOLLAH AGREE ON CEASE-FIRE AT LEBANESE-SYRIAN BORDER (JUL 27/AFP)  AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE -- Lebanon-based Hezbollah and fighters from Al-Qaida's former affiliate in Syria have reached a cease-fire along the border between Syria and Lebanon, reports Agence France-Presse.   The news agency cited both Hezbollah and Lebanese media about Thursday's halt in fighting.   Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an offensive last week against Nusra Front (later renamed Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) in the mountainous Jurud Arsal region.   The cease-fire began at 6:00 a.m., local time, in the region, according to Hezbollah outlets.   The deal was brokered by Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon's General Directorate of Security intelligence agency, according to Beirut's official National News Agency.   As part of the deal, the remaining Nusra Front fighters are supposed to withdraw and head to Idlib province.   Hezbollah fighters said on Wednesday that the next phase will focus on Islamic State terrorists. "It won't be a difficult task. Its fighters are only a few hundred and spread out in this vast territory," said one commander.  
 Item Number:11 Date: 07/27/2017 RUSSIA - FIRING BACK AT CNN REPORT, MOSCOW DENIES PROVIDING ARMS TO TALIBAN (JUL 27/INT-AVN)  INTERFAX-MILITARY NEWS AGENCY -- The Russian Foreign Ministry has denied Western media reports alleging that it has supplied weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan, reports Interfax-AVN (Russia).   On Tuesday, CNN reported that videos in its possession suggested that the Taliban had received improved weaponry that appeared to have been supplied by Moscow.   The two videos showed sniper rifles, different variants of Kalashnikov rifles and heavy machine guns. Experts said the weapons had been stripped to disguise their origin.   Two separate Taliban groups, one in the north and one in the west, say they possess the weapons and claim they came from Russian government sources.   In April, senior U.S. military officials first indicated concerns that Russia was seeking to arm Afghan militants.   A representative from the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the standard-issue weapons could easily have been shipped to Afghanistan from Eastern Europe by Americans in the early 2000s.  
  Item Number:12 Date: 07/27/2017 RUSSIA - MOSCOW GETS 49-YEARD EXTENSION FOR BASE IN SYRIA; PUTIN SIGNS DOCUMENT (JUL 27/TASS)  TASS -- President Vladimir Putin has signed off on an agreement that gives Russia access to its airbase in Syria until 2066, reports Tass (Russia).   Russian and Syrian officials signed a deal in January 2017 to extend Russia's presence at Hmeimim air base. The base is located in Syria's Latakia province. The document set out the legal terms under which Moscow can use the base.   Putin signed the defense protocol on Wednesday, according to documents from the Russian government's official information portal. The agreement was ratified by Russia's Parliament earlier this month.   Russian forces can have access for 49 years, with an option to extend that for subsequent 25-year periods, according to the documents, as cited by the 21st Century Wire.  
  Item Number:13 Date: 07/27/2017 SOMALIA - TRANSITION ROADMAP BEING DISCUSSED; SOMALI FORCES TO TAKE OVER AFTER AMISOM PHASES OUT (JUL 27/GOOB)  GOOBJOOG NEWS -- Senior officials from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali government have been meeting this week in Mogadishu to prepare a roadmap to transfer security responsibilities from AMISOM to the nation's security forces, reports Goobjoog News (Somalia).   The four-day meeting began on Monday with the goal of determining how AMISOM and the Somali security forces are going to deal with the changes and what needs to be done to implement the decisions, said Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, the special representative of the A.U. Commission Chairperson for Somalia, noted Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu).   In April, Somali leaders agreed to establish a national security architecture, with the nation's security forces taking the lead.   The Somali-led forces would also open supply routes and provide security for the planned 2021 elections.   The transition to the Somali national security forces is anticipated in 2018, reported the Garowe Online (Somalia).  
  Item Number:14 Date: 07/27/2017 SOUTH KOREA - COAST GUARD BECOMES INDEPENDENT AGENCY AGAIN; PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW CHIEF (JUL 27/YON)  YONHAP -- The South Korean coast guard is again an independent organization after three years under the Public Safety Ministry, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul).   The coast guard was placed under the now-defunct ministry after the service failed to prevent or handle the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April 2014. A total of 304 passengers and crewmembers died in that disaster.   Shortly after the official reinstatement on Wednesday, President Moon Jae In appointed Park Kyung Min as the new head of the coast guard.   Park is a ranking police official and former spokesman for the National Police Agency.  
  Item Number:15 Date: 07/27/2017 SRI LANKA - NAVY RECEIVES INDIAN-BUILT PATROL VESSEL ALMOST 3 MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE (JUL 27/GOA)  GOA SHIPYARD -- Goa Shipyard in India has announced the delivery of a large offshore patrol vessel to the Sri Lankan navy.   The ship was handed over in a July 22 ceremony, 86 days ahead of schedule, according to release from the yard.   The keel of the vessel was laid on Sept. 10, 2014, and it was launched on May 5, 2016, the shipyard said. 
 Item Number:16 Date: 07/27/2017 SYRIA - ARMY STORMING ISIS-HELD TOWN IN HOMS PROVINCE; KURDISH-LED FORCES MAKING PROGRESS IN RAQQA (JUL 27/REU)  REUTERS -- Syrian government forces have been closing in on the last Islamic State-controlled town in Homs province, says a military source, as reported by Reuters.   Combat operations were expected to accelerate toward the town of al-Sukhna, about 30 miles from the border of Deir Ezzor province, which is an ISIS stronghold, said the source.   A subsequent report early Thursday from Al-Masdar News suggested that the army was then storming the town.   Capturing the town would open the door to moving directly into Deir Ezzor province. The military captured positions about 5 miles southwest of the town Wednesday evening, said the source cited by Reuters.   Separately, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighting groups, has seized control of about half of Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group.   The SDF began entering the city in early June, reported the Middle East Eye
  Item Number:17 Date: 07/27/2017 UNITED KINGDOM - ROYAL NAVY EYES EVENTUAL CARRIER DEPLOYMENTS IN S. CHINA SEA (JUL 27/GUARDIAN)  GUARDIAN -- The British Royal Navy's two new aircraft carriers may be sent for freedom of navigation exercises in the disputed South China Sea when they are operational, says Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, as reported by the Guardian (U.K.).   China claims most of the region; Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.   The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers could be deployed to the Asia Pacific region as one of their first assignments, Johnson said Thursday in Sydney, Australia.   The first carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, is now undergoing sea trials off the coast of Scotland and is expected to be accepted into service by the end of the year. The Prince of Wales is being fitted out in Rosyth dock in Scotland and will be officially named in September.   Defense Minister Michael Fallon also has said that the U.K. has plans to send a warship to the South China Sea next year for freedom of navigation drills, reported Reuters.   "We have not finalized exactly where that deployment will take place but we won't be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea," Fallon said.  
Item Number:18 Date: 07/27/2017 USA - AIR FORCE NARROWS BIDDERS FOR PLANNED HYPERSONIC WEAPON PROGRAM TO 5 FIRMS (JUL 27/FG)  FLIGHTGLOBAL -- The U.S. Air Force has selected five companies believed to be capable of meeting its requirements for the development of a new hypersonic strike weapon, reports Flight Global.   The service plans to award one engineering, manufacturing and development contract early in fiscal 2018. The bidders are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK and Raytheon.   The firms are the only ones deemed to be able to produce such a weapon within the Air Force's timeframe, according to a July 21 notice of contract action.   The selected hypersonic conventional strike weapon needs to provide a precision strike capability against static and mobile targets in an anti-access, area-denial environment using GPS and inertial navigation, said the notice.   The weapon is expected to be fielded with an unspecified, government-issued warhead and integrated with existing fighter jets and bombers
Item Number:19 Date: 07/27/2017 USA - FUTURE SOLDIERS SHOULD HAVE MORE FLEXIBLE ELECTRONICS, SAYS ARMY TRADOC CHIEF (JUL 27/D1)  DEFENSE ONE -- The head of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command says he wants future soldiers to be able to go into combat with their favorite smart phones equipped with a variety of applications, reports Defense One.   Such phones should be carrying communications apps, drone-piloting programs and potentially even offensive cyber weapons, although permission to use specific software and ad-hoc hardware would depend on the mission, roles and ranks, said Gen. David Perkins.   The Army will continue to depend on the networks that provide its military superiority, which will be protected by electronic noise and decoys on the battlefield, the general said this week at a Washington, D.C., event.   According to Perkins, the service also needs to look at a more modular approach to Army equipment, such as plug-and-play modules for combat vehicles. Such modules would allow the Army to more rapidly upgrade its gear without having to wait for major overhauls, as is this case with its Abrams tanks, he said.  
  Item Number:20 Date: 07/27/2017 USA - MATTIS ORDERS REVIEW TO GET RID OF UNNECESSARY TRAINING FOR WARFIGHTERS (JUL 27/MILTIMES)  MILITARY TIMES -- Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered a review of all administrative and training requirements that prevent personnel from focusing on their combat missions, reports the Military Times.   In a July 21 memo, obtained by the newspaper, Mattis directed the various services, National Guard Bureau and combatant commanders to determine what changes are needed to ensure flexibility to "organize, train and equip more ready and lethal forces."   This includes a review of the "requirements for mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks," said the secretary. These can take up many hours prior to deployment and sometimes have little to do with the requirements of a deployment, he noted.   Mattis also ordered a review of the retentions or separation of permanently non-deployable personnel; the civilian workforce hiring process; and asked for an increased emphasis on counterintelligence training for the law enforcement branches of each service.   The defense secretary ordered a working group to oversee the review, led by the Pentagon's undersecretary for personnel and readiness. That slot is currently being filled by Anthony Kurta, while Trump administration nominee Robert Wilkie awaits Senate confirmation.   All recommendations from the review are due by Dec. 1, 2018.

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