Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fw: TheList 4611

The List 4611

To All
A bit of history and some tidbits.
This Day In Naval History - December 13
Dec. 13
1775—The Continental Congress provides for the construction of five ships of 32 guns, five ships of 28 guns, and three ships of 24 guns at an estimated cost of $866,666. The ships are Hancock, Randolph, Raleigh, Warren, Washington, Congress, Effingham, Providence, Trumbull, Virginia, Boston, Delaware, and Montgomery.
1941—Cmdr. William A. Sullivan is designated the first Supervisor of Salvage.
1943—USS Osmond Ingram (DD 255), USS George E. Badger (DD 196), USS Clemson (DD 186), and FMs VC-19 from USS Bogue (CVE 9) sink German submarine U 172 west of the Canary Islands.
1943—USS Wainwright (DD 419) and British destroyer HMS Calpe sink German submarine U-593 150 miles northeast of Algiers.
1943—USS Sailfish (SS 192) sinks Japanese cargo ship Totai Maru east of Tokara Strait while PBY aircraft sink Tokiwa Maru in the Bismarck Sea. 
Today in History December 13
The National Guard is created in France.
The last remnants of Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Armeé reach the safety of Kovno, Poland, after the failed Russian campaign. Napoleon's costly retreat from Moscow
General Andrew Jackson announces martial law in New Orleans, Louisiana, as British troops disembark at Lake Borne, 40 miles east of the city. The Battle of New Orleans
The Battle of Fredericksburg ends with the bloody slaughter of onrushing Union troops at Marye's Heights. Maine's Colonel Chamberlain at Marye's Heights.
The Committee of Imperial Defense holds its first meeting in London.
The Dutch take two Venezuelan Coast Guard ships.
The Japanese army occupies Nanking, China. Boeing's Trailblazing P-26 Peashooters.
Adolf Hitler issues preparations for Operation Martita, the German invasion of Greece.
British forces launch an offensive in Libya.
France and Britain agree to quit Syria and Lebanon.
After meeting with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, President Harry S Truman vows to purge all disloyal government workers.
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mexico's President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz meet on a bridge at El Paso, Texas, to officiate at ceremonies returning the long-disputed El Chamizal area to the Mexican side of the border.
Astronaut Gene Cernan climbs into his lunar lander on the moon and prepares to lift off. He is the last man to set foot on the moon.
Great Britain cuts the work week to three days to save energy.
Polish labor leader Lech Walesa is arrested and the government decrees martial law, restricting civil rights and suspending operation of the independent trade union Solidarity.
France sues the United States over the discovery of an AIDS serum.
Terrorists attach the Parliament of India Sansad; 15 people are killed, including the terrorists
Deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein captured; he is found hiding in near his home town of Tikrit.
This Week In American Military History
Fredericksburg to Bastogne
by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Dec. 11, 1941:  Four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, isolated and embattled U.S. Marines – and a few good sailors, soldiers, and civilian contractors – put up a heroic defense of Wake Island in the Pacific, beating back an attempted Japanese landing with heavy losses to the enemy.
Wake will fall by Christmas. But the heroics exhibited by the American defenders – basically two companies of Marines holding off the Japanese Navy for two weeks – will be compared to the heroic nearly-two-week defense of the Alamo in 1836.
Dec. 15, 1862:  Union Army Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside ends his disastrous series of frontal attacks against Gen. Robert E. Lee's well-entrenched Confederate forces along Marye's Heights during the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is during the battle that Lee – emotionally moved by the valor of the Federal Army, which, despite terrible losses, attacks his impregnable position time-and-again – says, "It is well that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it."
Dec. 16, 1944:  A massive German Army force — composed of SS Panzer (SS armored units), Volksgrenadier (infantry), Panzergrenadier (armored infantry), and Fallschirmj√§ger (paratroopers) — burst through the snow-covered Ardennes Forest and smash headlong into the weakest stretch of the Allied frontlines in Belgium.
The attack — which will become known as the Battle of the Bulge (because of the temporary bulging salient the German thrust will create in the Allied lines) — is a last ditch gamble on the part of the Germans, a surprise counteroffensive aimed at cutting American and British forces in half; crossing the Meuse River; encircling, isolating, and destroying Allied armies west of the Meuse; and perhaps reaching the North Sea.
It is not to be.
Despite the initial shock along a 60-to-70-mile front – and a 50-mile-deep penetration – German forces will quickly find themselves running up against giants of men like Gen. Anthony McAuliffe's diehard paratroopers of the crack 101st Airborne Division, who – though surrounded, outnumbered, outgunned, freezing, and nearly starving to death – refuse to surrender the strategically vital highway hub at Bastogne.
The battle, which will last until Jan. 28, 1945, will prove to be the largest land battle in western Europe during World War II, and it will be a decisive American victory. But it will not be without heavy losses: 19,000 American soldiers will be killed out of 81,000 total U.S. casualties in five weeks
Guadalcanal: Forgotten Valor—USS Alchiba (AK-23)
If ever there was a ship that lived up to Captain James Lawrence's dying words, "Don't give up the ship," it was the unlikely cargo vessel USS Alchiba (AK-23). Alchiba, under the command of Commander James S. Freeman, USN, arrived off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, for yet another resupply run, to off-load a critical cargo of gasoline, bombs, and other ammunition destined for the U.S. Marines on the island, where fierce fighting was still raging. On the morning of 28 November 1942, the Japanese midget submarine Ha-10, launched from submarine I-16, penetrated through a screen of five destroyers and hit Alchiba with a torpedo in a forward (number 2) hold. Ha-10 did not survive the U.S. counterattack, but the damage to Alchiba was severe. With the forward hold area burning out of control and his ship sinking with a 17 degree list, Freeman rang up flank speed to get Alchiba into shallow water off Lunga Point, where he ran her aground. Despite the potential for imminent catastrophe and exploding machine-gun ammunition, the crew of Alchiba, led by the executive officer, Commander Howard H. Shaw, USN, fought the fire forward while other members of the crew commenced off-loading all the supplies and ammunition they could from aft. They fought the fire for over five days, and got almost every salvageable bit of cargo on to Guadalcanal, and then set about salvaging the ship.
Astonishingly, throughout this ordeal only four of Alchiba's crew were wounded and none killed.  However, on 7 December, the midget submarine Ha-38, launched from I-24, fired two torpedoes at Alchiba. One passed right under her stern without exploding, but the second hit in her engineering spaces, killing three and wounding six men. Ha-38 was never seen again. The damage this time was also severe, and the Navy Department announced to the press that Alchiba had been lost. This came as a surprise to her crew, who were still aboard and fighting to save their ship—which they did after many more days. Alchiba ultimately survived, was redesignated as an attack cargo ship (AKA-6), and served throughout the Pacific for the rest of the war (although she was prone to engineering casualties). Like the Sailors on USS Canopus (AS-9) and other valiant auxiliaries of the doomed Asiatic Fleet (see H-Gram 003), the crew of Alchiba proved that American Sailors would exhibit the greatest of bravery, regardless of whether they were on the newest warship or an "expendable" cargo ship. For the crew's valor, Commander Freeman (a future rear admiral) was awarded the Navy Cross, Commander Shaw was awarded a Silver Star, and the Alchiba became the only cargo ship to be awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
Operation Torch: The Naval Battle of Casablanca, 8–10 November 1942
As the French naval forces in Casablanca, Morocco sortied to oppose the U.S. landings on the morning of 8 November 1942, the U.S. flagship USS Augusta (CA-31), opened fire. The shock wave from a main battery salvo blew out the bottom of a boat in a davit that had been loaded with the gear of Major General George S. Patton, sending it into the ocean below. Patton's experience was hardly unique. By the end of the day, almost half of 347 landing craft participating in the landings near Casablanca had been wrecked, mostly due to operational causes rather than French action. The landings had been opposed as an unnecessary diversion by both CNO Admiral Ernest J. King and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army General George C. Marshall, and Torch demonstrated that the Allies still had a lot to learn about conducting large-scale amphibious operations. From the days of the Athenian invasion of Syracuse, the Mongols' attempt to invade Japan, the Spanish Armada, and Gallipoli, these had a long and distinguished history of not ending well.
Because France has been such a great ally of the United States, the Naval Battle of Casablanca, the largest surface action in the Atlantic since the Napoleonic Wars, is rarely mentioned in polite company.  But I'm a historian, so, so much for that. The conventional narrative is that the French put up a token resistance, with minimal casualties, to the U.S. and British invasion of French North Africa (the French protectorate/colonies of Morocco and Algeria) in November 1942 before quickly switching to the Allied side. The reality is that the French, and in particular the French navy, fought —and fought hard—and paid a high price for their loyalty to the Vichy French government, then in power in the part of southern France not occupied by Nazi Germany.
It is now regarded as traitorous and collaborationist, but under the terms of the surrender agreement with the Germans, the French government with its capital in Vichy was seen by most of the surviving French armed forces as the legitimate government of France (and was at first recognized as such by the United States for that matter, and former CNO Admiral William Leahy was for a time the U.S. Ambassador to Vichy France). The terms of the surrender also demanded that Vichy France remain "neutral" for the duration of the war. Originally, the French navy was required to keep its ships immobile and unarmed. However, the British Royal Navy preemptively attacked French naval units in port at Mers el-Khebir, Algeria, in July 1940, killing almost 1,300 French sailors, to keep French warships from falling into German hands. In response, the Germans changed the agreement, allowing the French to keep their ships in readiness and armed to fight, with the stipulation that they were to aggressively defend Vichy France's "neutrality" against the Allies by armed force if necessary. Feeling they had been knifed in the back by their own ally (the British), the French navy complied, and the result was its resistance to the U.S. landings in Morocco and the Allied landings in Algeria. In fact, by numerous accounts, the great majority of French sailors who sortied on 8 November from Casablanca had no idea who they were actually going out to fight—British, Germans, or Americans. They received orders to fight, and that's exactly what they did.
On 8 November, the French naval forces in Casablanca, commanded by Vice Admiral Felix Michelier, consisted of the non-operational new battleship Jean Bart (although her forward main battery turret, quad 15-inch guns, worked fine), one light cruiser, two large destroyers (flotilla leaders), seven destroyers, eight sloops/corvettes, 11 minesweepers, and 11 submarines. By the time the battle was over, the Jean Bart was sunk at the pier, the light cruiser was grounded and burned out, the two destroyer leaders were grounded, four destroyers were sunk, seven submarines were sunk, numerous freighters and liners were sunk in Casablanca harbor, and almost all other French ships damaged. The French ships fought valiantly against great odds, and none of them surrendered, gave up, or shirked their duty until they were finally ordered to surrender after several days by Michelie—and only after he got orders from higher up in the Vichy government. None of them ever hauled down a French flag. Over 460 French sailors were killed and at least 200 wounded.
The U.S. Navy force supporting the U.S. Army landings in Morocco consisted of over a hundred ships, commanded by Rear Admiral Kent Hewitt, embarked in Augusta , and included the aircraft carrier Ranger (CV-4), the new fast battleship Massachusetts (BB-59), the old battleships New York (BB-34) and Texas (BB-35), four new converted escort carriers (CVE), and numerous cruisers and destroyers. The force was divided to support three separate landings: the main landing just north of Casablanca, another farther north at Port Lyautey, and one to the south of Casablanca at Safi. The Texas covered the northern landing and the New York covered the southern, and Ranger's aircraft engaged wherever needed.
The main landing at Casablanca was covered by the Massachusetts, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser and 14 destroyers.  Massachusetts engaged in a gunnery duel with the immobile Jean Bart and won, knocking out her forward turret. The French managed to repaired, but concealed the repairs until Jean Bart opened up again a couple days later, at which point she was bombed and sunk at the pier by aircraft from Ranger. The formidable French shore battery at El Hank repeatedly straddled U.S. warships, with several hits. French submarines nearly hit several U.S. ships with torpedoes. In the end, Massachusetts, Augusta, a light cruiser, and two destroyers were lightly damaged, although four transports were sunk by German U-boats that arrived in the area on 10 November, accounting for most of the 174 U.S. service members killed at sea (one of the German subs was sunk, too). For more on the Operation Torch landings and the Naval Battle of Casablanca, please see attachment H-013-3.
Thanks to Bill
Aviation Week 2017 Photo Contest Winners
Item Number:1 Date: 12/13/2017 AFGHANISTAN - AMERICAN SOLDIER KILLED IN VEHICLE ACCIDENT IN NANGARHAR (DEC 13/WASHEX)  WASHINGTON EXAMINER -- One American soldier was killed and two were injured in a vehicle accident in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, reports the Washington Examiner.   Officials described Monday's incident as "non-combat related" but did not provide details.   Nine soldiers were in the vehicle, Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, the chief of future operations at the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, told reporters during a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. "One died of his injuries, two were taken to a medical treatment facility for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, and six are being evaluated for possible TBI [traumatic brain injury]," he said.   On Tuesday, the Pentagon released the name of the deceased soldier, Staff Sgt. David Thomas Brabander of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, reported the Stars and Stripes.   The incident is under investigation.  
  Item Number:2 Date: 12/13/2017 AFGHANISTAN - U.S., AFGHAN SPECIAL OPERATORS TAKE AIM AT ISIS-K STRONGHOLDS (DEC 13/S&S)  STARS AND STRIPES -- The Afghan Defense Ministry says Afghan and U.S. special operations forces have been readying an offensive against territory held by the Islamic State in northwestern Afghanistan, reports the Stars and Stripes.   Operations against Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) have mostly focused on eastern Afghanistan, where the group first appeared in 2015.   The growing ISIS-K presence in the northwest could be targeted as soon as this week, said a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, as noted by the newspaper on Dec. 11.   Meanwhile, there are reports that experienced ISIS fighters might be infiltrating northern Afghanistan from Iraq and Syria.   ISIS-K has a presence in the Jowzjan and Faryab provinces, Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in late November.   At that point, U.S. special tactics airmen and Afghan air force officials were reportedly surveying airfields in Faryab province that could accommodate special operations and conventional aircraft.  
Item Number:3 Date: 12/13/2017 CHINA - WITH REGIONAL TENSIONS RISING, RUSSIA, CHINA IN MIDST OF JOINT AIR DEFENSE EXERCISE (DEC 13/SCMP)  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST -- China and Russia are in the midst of a joint anti-missile exercise, reports the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).   The drills highlight their growing strategic partnership, noted the Washington, D.C.-based National Interest.   The six-day air force drills, which began on Monday in Beijing, are also designed to counter developing U.S. alliances in East Asia in response to the tension on the Korean peninsula, said analysts cited by the Hong Kong paper.   The Aerospace Security computer-based drills are intended to strengthen bilateral cooperation against ballistic and cruise missile threats in the region, said the Chinese Defense Ministry. The two sides will work together to repel threats in the region from third countries, said the ministry.   The participants "will drill various possibilities of interaction between command bodies using the Russian and Chinese air defense and missile defense forces and equipment," according to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry cited by Interfax-AVN (Russia).   The exercises are a follow-on to similar training held in Russia in May 2016.   They also coincide with two days of ballistic-missile tracking and information-sharing drills between the U.S., Japan and South Korea, which also began on Monday.  
  Item Number:4 Date: 12/13/2017 EUROPEAN UNION - COUNCIL OF THE E.U. COMMITS TO JOINT DEFENSE COOPERATION (DEC 13/CEU)  COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION -- The Council of the European Union has just adopted a decision establishing the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) plan for E.U. member states.   The council, which represents the governments of the member states, adopted the decision on Monday, less than a month after receiving a joint notification by member states of their intention to participate, said a council release on Dec. 11.   On Nov. 13, 23 member states signed a joint notification and delivered it to the council. On Dec. 7, Ireland and Portugal made their notification to join PESCO.   All E.U. members are participating, with the exception of Denmark and Malta, as well as the U.K., which has decided to leave the E.U., noted Agence France-Presse.   The PESCO program, outlined in the Lisbon Treaty that was agreed in 2007, is designed to allow a number of E.U. member states to work more closely together in the area of defense and security. The permanent framework will enable such groups of states to jointly develop defense capabilities, invest in shared projects and enhance the operational readiness of their armed forces, said the release.   The council will next establish a list of projects to be developed under PESCO (anticipated in early 2018); a set of rules for projects, which could be adapted for individual programs; and the conditions under which third countries may be permitted to participate in individual projects, said the council release.   An initial batch of 17 projects includes a Belgian-led program to develop unmanned underwater vehicles for mine countermeasures missions; Lithuanian-led project to create cyber rapid-response teams; and a German-led "crisis response operation core" aimed at accelerating the deployment of troops to crisis situations, said AFP.  
  Item Number:5 Date: 12/13/2017 GERMANY - PROSECUTORS CHARGE SOLDIER WITH PLOTTING ASSASSINATIONS OF POLITICIANS (DEC 13/DEWELLE)  DEUTSCHE WELLE -- A 28-year-old lieutenant in the German armed forces has been charged with planning acts of violence and violating weapons and explosives laws, reports Deutsche Welle.   The indictment on Tuesday came after the prosecution's initial case, which included more serious charges, was struck down by the Federal Court of Justice due to lack of evidence.   The soldier, identified only as Franco A. in media, falsely registered as a refugee, prosecutors say. He then plotted to kill politicians and public figures thought to be close to refugees and refugee-friendly causes.   Prosecutors allege the "far-right nationalist" wanted the attacks to appear to have been committed by a refugee, turning the public against the roughly one million refugees who have arrived in the country since 2015.   Franco A. allegedly stockpiled firearms, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and dozens of explosive devices. Some of the weapons were taken from Bundeswehr stores, according to the prosecutors.   He was first arrested in April.  
  Item Number:6 Date: 12/13/2017 ISRAEL - MILITARY STEPS UP ANTI-TUNNEL DEFENSE BARRIER AGAINST HAMAS; COMPLETION EXPECTED IN 2018 (DEC 13/HA)  HAARETZ -- The Israeli army has had recent success in its efforts against tunnels built under its border with the Gaza Strip by the Hamas terrorist group, reports Haaretz (Israel).   On Sunday, the army discovered a new tunnel dug into Israeli territory in the Western Negev Desert, the second such find in the last six weeks, said military officials.   Hamas has built tunnels underneath the border as a way to conduct surprise attacks against Israel. The strategy was used successfully in 2006 to kidnap an Israeli soldier and with more limited success in the Gaza war of 2014.   Last summer, Israel began building an anti-tunnel defensive barrier along the entire border with Gaza at an estimated cost of US$1.14 billion. The system is designed to block any future tunnels from being built, cut off existing passageways and assist in the location of tunnels.   Construction of the barrier is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.   The latest tunnels discovered near Kibbutz Kissufim and Kibbutz Nirim were located in border areas where construction has not yet begun, said officials.   Israeli intelligence believes that there are multiple border tunnels that have not yet been identified
  Item Number:7 Date: 12/13/2017 ITALY - COAST GUARD, CUSTOMS SIGN CONTRACTS FOR 8 HELICOPTERS TO BOOST SAR, BORDER PATROL CAPABILITIES (DEC 13/LEONARDO)  LEONARDO -- The Italian government has ordered eight more AW139 helicopters for its coast guard and customs and border protection service, reports Leonardo, the firm that builds the aircraft.   The coast guard will receive two helicopters and the customs and border protection service six under the 112 million euro deal (US$132 million), according to a company release on Dec. 11.   The coast guard aircraft will be used for search-and-rescue missions, with deliveries to be completed by the end of 2018.   The customs helicopters will conduct border patrol operations, with deliveries to be completed by 2020, said Leonardo   The AW139s will replace aging AB 412 aircraft in both services
Item Number:8 Date: 12/13/2017 NATO - ALLIANCE GIVES STOLTENBERG ANOTHER 2 YEARS AS SECRETARY-GENERAL (DEC 13/RFE/RL)  RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY -- The member states of NATO have extended the term of Jens Stoltenberg as secretary-general of the alliance for another two years, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   The former Norwegian prime minister has been the top NATO official since October 2014.   Following Tuesday's action, he will now continue in that role until Sept. 30, 2020, according to a NATO release.   "Allies congratulate the secretary-general and have full confidence in his ability to continue his dedicated work to advance NATO's adaptation to the security challenges of the 21st century," the statement said.  
  Item Number:9 Date: 12/13/2017 NIGERIA - BOKO HARAM SUSPECTED IN SUICIDE ATTACKS IN NORTHEAST (DEC 13/NANIGERIA)  NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA -- Separate attacks in northeastern Nigeria have killed two civilians and two soldiers, reports the News Agency of Nigeria.   On Monday, two suicide bombers infiltrated the small town of Pulka, Borno state, said an army spokesman on Tuesday.   Security forces killed one attacker before the second detonated their explosives, killing two people and injuring two more, he said.   Separately, a military vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on Sunday as the vehicle traveled Damboa Road in Maiduguri. Two soldiers were killed, he said.   There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Boko Haram is active in the region.   Previous reports of a suicide attack on an internally displaced persons camp in Pulka and an ambush that killed six Nigerian soldiers on the Damboa Road were erroneous, the spokesman said
Item Number:10 Date: 12/13/2017 POLAND - INDIGENOUS SOLUTION FOR SHORT-RANGE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM REQUIREMENT UNDER CONSIDERATION (DEC 13/DN)  DEFENSE NEWS -- Poland plans to create its own solution for short-range air defense (SHORAD) using domestic radar systems, reports Defense News.   Warsaw might also consider developing its own command-and-control capability as part of the air defense system, Bartosz Kownacki, the secretary of state in the Polish Ministry of National Defense, told the newspaper earlier this month.   The secretary called the acquisition of a SHORAD system an urgent need, reflecting concerns about Russian aggression.   Poland is currently considering interceptors for the system, including two proposals from British firm MBDA, said the secretary. A lower-cost option would involve the SkyCeptor interceptor that it plans to buy as part of its medium-range air defense program. The SkyCeptor is a variant of the U.S.-Israeli Stunner.   Development of the SHORAD system is expected to begin once a deal is reached with the U.S. for its long-awaited medium-range air defense program, according the Defense News.   Poland is nearing a final agreement with the U.S. to purchase Raytheon's Patriot air and missile defense systems with Northrop Grumman's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) and Lockheed Martin's Patriot Advanced Capability—3 (PAC-3) missiles.   However, talks recently stalled as Poland balked at the upfront price of the systems
Item Number:11 Date: 12/13/2017 RUSSIA - MOSCOW LOOKING AT LIFTING ARMS EMBARGO ON LIBYA (DEC 13/INT)  INTERFAX -- Russia is considering easing an arms embargo imposed on Libya, according to a senior Russian Foreign ministry official cited by Russia's Interfax news agency.   Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov made the announcement on Wednesday. It was not immediately confirmed by other Russian sources.   Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj made statements earlier this month expressing hope that parts of the embargo would be lifted.   Libya needs the approval of the U.N. Security Council to import weapons. The restrictions have been in place since the 2011 war that led to the ouster of former leader Muammar Qaddafi.  
  Item Number:12 Date: 12/13/2017 SOMALIA - U.S. AIRSTRIKE DESTROYS CAR BOMB SOUTHWEST OF MOGADISHU (DEC 13/VOA)  VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS -- A U.S. airstrike has destroyed a car bomb near the Somali capital, reports the Voice of America News.   The strike occurred on Tuesday about 40 miles (65 km) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, according to a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) statement. A local official said the strike occurred in the town of Mubarak, in the Lower Shabelle region.   The attack was reportedly coordinated with the Somali government, noted Africa News.   The vehicle belonged to the militant group Al-Shabaab and posed an imminent threat, said the statement.   Pro Al-Shabaab media denied that the vehicle was a car bomb, saying that the vehicle was a mini-bus carrying fruits and vegetables.   U.S. military and Somali government officials did not disclose how many fighters might have been killed in the attack. No civilians were killed, according to U.S. military sources
Item Number:13 Date: 12/13/2017 TUNISIA - 1 SOLDIER KILLED, 6 INJURED IN CLASH WITH TERRORISTS NEAR MOUNT CHAAMBI; AQIM CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY (DEC 13/TUNISAP)  TUNIS AFRIQUE PRESSE -- A Tunisian soldier was killed and six others injured in a mine explosion and firefight in the western governorate of Kasserine, reports state-run Tunis Afrique Press (TAP).   The soldiers were tracking terrorists in the area of Mount Chaambi on Monday when their vehicle hit a landmine, injuring five, said a Defense Ministry spokesperson.   In the ensuing gun battle, one soldier was killed and another injured.   A social media post credited to the Uqba Ibn Nafi Brigade, a local branch of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, said it was behind the attack.  
 Item Number:14 Date: 12/13/2017 UNITED KINGDOM - DESTROYER ENGINE ISSUES EXPECTED TO BE FIXED BY 2021 (DEC 13/PORTSMOUTH)  PORTSMOUTH NEWS -- A top British Royal Navy officer says that engine problems with the Daring-class destroyers will be fixed before the service's newly commissioned aircraft carrier is ready for her first deployment in 2021, reports the Portsmouth News (U.K.).   A number of the destroyers in the class have suffered propulsion system failures while on deployment. Earlier this month, HMS Diamond was forced to end her deployment to the Persian Gulf early because of engine issues.   "The propulsion challenges we are facing with them are understood. Plans are in place to rectify them," said Commodore Andrew Betton, the commander of the British carrier strike group.   The engines have been overheating in the warm waters of the Middle East, leading to power blackouts.   A refit plan to address the problems is slated to begin next year, according to the navy.   The Daring-class air defense destroyers are a key part of the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier strike group
Item Number:15 Date: 12/13/2017 USA - AIR FORCE UPDATES DEPLOYMENT POLICY, STRESSING TEAMS (DEC 13/AFNS)  AIR FORCE NEWS SERVICE -- The U.S. Air Force has announced changes to its deployment policy, reports the Air Force News Service.   Airmen being deployed on "individual taskings" will now be sent in teams of three or more, the service said in a release dated Dec. 12.   The change will provide those deploying with mutual support throughout their time overseas, said a service directive, effective Nov. 13, 2017.   Under the concept, airmen from the same duty location, deploying to the same place, during the same cycle will be sent in teams. Team members will conduct pre-deployment training, travel to and from the deployment area and reintegrate together, the Air Force said.   Leaders will be appointed to guide their teams during the deployment process, said the service
Item Number:16 Date: 12/13/2017 USA - MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY AWARDS 3 CONTRACTS FOR UAV-BASED LASERS (DEC 13/DN)  DEFENSE NEWS -- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded contracts to three companies to develop initial designs for an unmanned aerial vehicle-based multi-kilowatt-class laser to demonstrate beam stabilization technology, reports Defense News.   Lockheed Martin and General Atomics received contracts for the project in October and November, while Boeing was awarded a deal on Dec. 11. Each contract is worth about $9 million, the paper reported this week.   The MDA has been incrementally working on directed-energy technologies, focused on "scaling laser power levels in the laboratory, demonstrating precision tracking from unmanned airborne platforms and investigating the feasibility of operating a multi-kilowatt class laser on an airborne platform," Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the agency director, told Defense News in a statement.   The Low Power Laser Demonstrator program began in 2015, when the MDA awarded concept design projects to five firms: Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.   The demonstrator is to consist of a tracking laser, defensive laser and a beam-control system integrated onto an unmanned aircraft that can fly at high altitudes, according to the agency.   The participating companies will be responsible for choosing an air vehicle and completing an initial design for the lasers and beam-control system, Greaves said.   A second phase, focused on final designs, is expected to begin in late 2018 and run for about a year. It will end with a critical design review, said the general.   Phase 3, scheduled for 2019 to 2023, will involving building and flight-testing one or more of the designs, said the MDA chief.   The project is part of the agency's efforts to develop and demonstrate directed-energy and laser technologies that could be integrated into the Ballistic Missile Defense System, Greaves said
Item Number:17 Date: 12/13/2017 USA - NAVY TO RETURN TO SOUTHCOM ANTI-DRUG OPERATIONS (DEC 13/NTIMES)  NAVY TIMES -- The Navy will return to U.S. Southern Command's (SOUTHCOM) anti-drug mission in 2018, reports the Navy Times.   The service will contribute at least four ships to the effort, according to a letter by Navy Secretary Richard Spencer cited by the newspaper.   The expected contribution is below the amount requested by SOUTHCOM, admitted Spencer.   The Navy will contribute littoral combat ships and Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport vessels to the effort, the secretary said.   Notably, Spencer did not endorse proposals to resurrect retired Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates for the mission. An internal memo from the chief of naval operations found that the cost to reactivate the frigates could reach hundreds of millions of dollars per hull, funds that would be better spent on modernization accounts and the development of the next-generation frigate program, reported USNI News.   The service ceased providing warships to SOUTHCOM in 2015, when the last Perry-class frigate was retired
  Item Number:18 Date: 12/13/2017 USA - NEW DOCTRINE FOR ARMY, MARINES FACTORS IN PUBLIC MONITORING IN URBAN OPERATIONS (DEC 13/FEDAS)  FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS -- The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have published a new doctrine taking into account the increased public scrutiny of military operations in urban areas, reports the Federation of American Scientists.   The increased transparency surrounding such operations must be anticipated and factored into plans, says the document ("Urban Operations"), which was published on Dec. 7.   "Soldiers/Marines are likely to have their activities recorded in real time and shared instantly both locally and globally," the new doctrine says. "In sum, friendly forces must have an expectation of observation for many of their activities and must employ information operations to deal with this reality effectively."   Urban operations present a number of challenges to military forces, in many cases reducing the relative advantage of technological superiority, weapon ranges and firepower, says the document (designated ATP-3-06 and MCTP-12-10B, by the Army and Marines, respectively).   Commanders are also generally required to protect civilians, render aid and minimize damage to infrastructure, potentially reducing the resources available to go after the enemy, notes the doctrine.   "Destroying an urban area to save it is not an option for commanders," the document emphasizes.  
  Item Number:19 Date: 12/13/2017 USA - TILLERSON SAYS U.S. READY TO TALK WITHOUT PRECONDITIONS IF PYONGYANG CAN PROVIDE 'QUIET' (DEC 13/CNN)  CABLE NEWS NETWORK -- The U.S. is ready to talk to North Korea without preconditions if missile and nuclear testing stops, said Rex Tillerson, as reported by CNN.   "We've said from the diplomatic side, we're ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk," Tillerson said at an event held by the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.   The only necessary element to begin talks would be a period of "quiet" with no nuclear tests, said Tillerson. Notably, Tillerson seemed to distance the U.S. from Pyongyang's denuclearization as a precondition.   Until talks begin, the existing diplomatic campaign to further isolate North Korea will continue, he said.   While the comments appeared to indicate a shift in State Dept. policy, questions remain about if they represent the Trump administration. A White House spokesperson said that President Trump's views towards North Korea have not changed.  
  Item Number:20 Date: 12/13/2017 USA - TRUMP SIGNS 2018 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL; LAWMAKERS STILL DIVIDED ON HOW MUCH TO APPROPRIATE (DEC 13/MILTIMES)  MILITARY TIMES -- President Donald Trump has signed into law the annual defense policy bill, putting the onus on lawmakers to pass an appropriations measure guaranteeing the requested funding, reports Military Times.   The law, signed by Trump on Tuesday, authorizes almost $700 billion for fiscal year 2018, including a base budget of $626 billion, reported CBS News.   The bill sets annual critical benefits authorities for the armed forces and outlines spending priorities. However, the Pentagon will not be able to move forward on new procurements and program starts until lawmakers finalize a fiscal 2018 appropriations measure.   Measures currently under debate in the House would give the military close to $600 billion.   Defense officials say that figure would not sufficiently fund the force to maintain readiness.   Military personnel are set to receive a 2.4 percent raise in 2018 as under the new law.   The authorization bill calls for recruiting more than 20,000 additional servicemembers and allocates $66 billion for overseas operations and upgrading missile defense systems. The law also calls for purchases of new aircraft, ground combat vehicles and ships.   The bill exceeds the spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act by about $80 billion, noted the Hill (Washington, D.C.). Congress continues to debate whether to raise the caps and by how much.

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