Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fw: TheList 4617

The List 4617

To All
I hope that your week has been going well. Only a couple shopping days left for Christmas.
This Day In Naval History - December 21
Dec. 21
1821—The schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lt. Lawrence Kearny, captures and burns a pirate schooner off Cape Antonio, West Indies. A landing party destroys a shore base and burns five pirate prizes.
1859—The sloop-of-war Constellation captures the American slaver Delicia off Kabenda, Africa.
1861—Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor, the Nation's highest military award, for Naval enlisted personnel.
1942—USS Seadragon (SS 194) sinks Japanese submarine I-4 between New Britain and New Ireland while I-4 is engaged in a resupply mission to Guadalcanal.
1944 - Marines with support of naval bombardment and carrier aircraft secure Eniwetok atoll
1951—The first helicopter lands aboard USS Consolation (AH 15) during Operation Helicopter, where casualties are directly evacuated from the battlefield to a hospital ship for the first time.
1968—Apollo 8 launches with Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr. as the command module pilot. During the mission Lovell is one of the first two people to see the far side of the moon. The mission lasts six days and three hours and includes 10 moon orbits. Recovery is executed by HS-4 helicopters from USS Yorktown (CVS 10). 
1991: During Operation Desert Storm, AV-8B aircraft from Marine Attack Squadron 331 conduct the first of 243 sorties off the deck of USS Nassau (LHA-4).
Son of Quote of the Day
On this day in history (February 21):
1878: The first telephone directories issued in the U.S. were distributed
to residents in New Haven, CT.
1947: Edwin H. Land first demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which used
self-developing film that produced a black-and-white photograph in 60
seconds. Wildman Fischer sang about taking a picture of you with his
camera. It became an "instant" success.
1950: The first International Pancake Race was held in Liberal, Kansas.
In the annual event, contestants wearing dresses, aprons and head scarves
must run a 415-yard, "S" shaped course while flipping a pancake in a
skillet three times.
National Sticky Bun Day
February 21
The Jesuit poet Robert Southwell is hanged for "treason," being a Catholic.
Michael Romanov, son of the Patriarch of Moscow, is elected Russian Tsar.
The British blockade of Toulon is broken by 27 French and Spanish warships attacking 29 British ships.
As troubles with Great Britain increase, colonists in Massachusetts vote to buy military equipment for 15,000 men.
Trinidad, West Indies surrenders to the British.
The first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix is printed, both in English and in the newly invented Cherokee alphabet.
In the Second Sikh War, Sir Hugh Gough's well placed guns win a victory over a Sikh force twice the size of his at Gujerat on the Chenab River, assuring British control of the Punjab for years to come.
The Texas Rangers win a Confederate victory in the Battle of Val Verde, New Mexico.
The world's first telephone book is issued by the New Haven Connecticut Telephone Company containing the names of its 50 subscribers.
The Washington Monument is dedicated in Washington, D.C.
The Mukden campaign of the Russo-Japanese War, begins.
The Battle of Verdun begins with an unprecedented German artillery barrage of the French lines.
The Germans begin construction of a concentration camp at Auschwitz.
Hideki Tojo becomes chief of staff of the Japanese army.
Nicaragua and Costa Rica sign a friendship treaty ending hostilities over their borders.
The U. S. Eighth Army launches Operation Killer, a counterattack to push Chinese forces north of the Han River in Korea.
A grand jury in Montgomery, Alabama indicts 115 in a Negro bus boycott.
Havana places all Cuban industry under direct control of the government.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcom X) is assassinated in front of 400 people.
Richard Nixon arrives in Beijing, China, becoming the first U.S. president to visit a country not diplomatically recognized by the U.S.
A report claims that the use of defoliants by the U.S. has scarred Vietnam for a century.
For those not on the Bubba list
Thanks to Admiral Jay Campbell
The passing of Admiral Jack Batzler
Jack Batzler Final Cat Shot
After suffering the massive stroke last week, a scan over the weekend showed that RADM Jack Batzler had lost all motive and cognitive function and it was unrecoverable. In accordance with his wishes in an advance directive, his wife Carolyn and his 2 sons and daughter gathered today and allowed him to transition to palliative care.  I received a note early this afternoon from Carolyn, saying that Jack passed at 12:20 today, within 5 minutes of being released. Throw a nickel on the grass for a great aviator, surfer and leader.
In sadness,
Thanks to John
Native American Wisdom
Forwarded as a memory check- This a old one - Strongly recall hearing this at a play,titled Hiawatha sponsored  by the Boy Scouts and played by Eagle Scouts at a park near Elgin, IL - it impressed me then and still impresses me now.  It can be applied to many issues.
Which Wolf Do You Feed?
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his
grandchildren about life.
He said to them, A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight,
and it is between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride, and
The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity,
truth, compassion, and faith.
This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person
The children thought about it for a minute and then one child
asked his grandfather, Which wolf will win?
The old Cherokee simply replied: The one I feed.
Thanks to Gbox. A repeat but good read
A Speech by Stephen Coonts
Intruder Reunion Speech, San Diego,  April 16 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, shipmates:

Naval Aviation, which for me was A-6 Intruders, was the great adventure of my life.   It was one of those rare instances in life when the reality lives up to its advanced billing.  Actually, the reality was better than anything I dreamed it could be.  I have certainly had other great adventures, including marriage, the practice of law, fatherhood, civilian flying and writing.  Still, naval aviation was…

Well, let me tell you about it.  I was awe-struck by my instructors in flight school.  They were mostly fleet pilots doing an instructor tour, except for a few plow-backs who desperately wanted to get to the fleet, and many were combat veterans.  They were really old, positively geriatric, in their mid- to late twenties mostly, with a few old crocks in their early thirties.  

They were warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely guys.  I remember one flight I had in basic training in a T-2 Buckeye, with an instructor who was trying to teach me the nuances of basic instruments.  I was trying to make all those little needles behave and grossly over-controlling with a death grip on the stick when my instructor in the back seat grabbed the stick and started bucking the airplane.  "You don't have to be smart to do this," he said, and whack whack whack with the stick.  "If I had any goddamn brains I wouldn't be here." Whack whack whack.  "Now stop trying to squeeze the black juice out of the fuckin' stick. Use your fingers."  Whack whack whack.  "Your airplane." 
I thought those guys owned the ground they walked on, and I wanted to be one of them. 
After the west coast RAG, VA-128, I reported to VA-196, the Main Battery.   On our first cruise to WESTPAC aboard USS Enterprise, I realized that I had finally made it into this Band of Brothers, this fraternity of those who were willing and could and did.  It was a self-selected group.  All those who didn't want it or couldn't do it had dropped out, or been washed out or killed somewhere along the way.
A-6s were something special because they carried a crew of two.  That meant the A-6 squadrons were large, with many diverse personalities.   Later, when I tried to write a novel about the experience, that wonderful human zoo gave me plenty of inspiration.

No doubt your naval aviation adventures were very similar to mine.  The young nugget pilots and BNs, the old fart lieutenant commanders, and the fossil commanders were almost universally from blue-collar or middle-class families.  Naval Aviation was a step up in life for all of us.   To my delight, I fit right in.  I had grown up in a coal town in central West Virginia; I knew that no matter what happened, I didn't want to spend the rest of my days grubbing out a meager living in the coalfields.  That ambition kept me motivated all the way.  Not that we were making big bucks in the Navy, because we weren't.  Still, we were all a part of something larger than we were individually; we served in the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and we served our nation.
Truthfully, I feel blessed that life gave me that opportunity.   And I feel sorry for all of those young men who found a reason to take the easy course, who didn't see or appreciate the challenges of naval aviation that demanded the best that was in them every single day, from flying, counseling sailors, pretending to give guidance to chiefs, wrestling with the supply system and the paperwork, to horsing around with friends in the ready room and ashore.  Later, for me, came a flight instructor's tour at VA-128 and a tour as an assistant catapult and arresting gear officer aboard USS Nimitz.   Every day I was called upon to give the best I had.
I loved the Navy and would have probably stayed in until they kicked me out if I had only had a wife who was willing to share the adventure.  Mine wasn't.  So after nine years of active duty I pulled the plug, went to law school, became a lawyer and ultimately got into writing.

 It was in 1984, after a divorce, when I had plenty of spare time and absolutely no money, that I finally decided to put butt in chair and write that story of what naval aviation was like during my two Vietnam cruises.  The flying, the dying, the fear, the exhilaration I felt in a cockpit with the stick and throttles in my hands and the rudder pedals beneath my feet, the insanity of the Vietnam War, the truly marvelous young men I shared it with… all of it.  I only wish that I had been a better, more experienced writer, but I wasn't.  Still, I had lived it and tried to capture it.  I was willing to fail.  You can't be a writer unless you are willing to fail.
Like every first novelist, I wrote nights and weekends.  Unlike most, I then got lucky: The US Naval Institute was looking for a novel to follow Tom Clancy's The Hunt For Red October.  I had thirty-two rejections in hand when the Naval Institute accepted my little flying story, picked my manuscript from the 150 that had been submitted.  The original working title was For Each Other.  I thought that title worked rather well, because if we didn't know what we were fighting for, at least we knew we were fighting for each other.  The publisher thought that title smacked too much of a romance novel.  They retitled it Flight of the Intruder, and to my absolute amazement, the novel stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 28 weeks.

Fools occasionally ask me if I was Jake Grafton, the hero of the tale.  Of course not.  The book was the lore of the time and place, and the characters were amalgams of all the people I met in naval aviation.   I didn't want to tell my story—I wanted to tell everyone's story.  One perceptive reviewer noted that all the characters in the book were flawed in some ways and heroes in others.  Of course: they were human.
That is not to say I liked everyone I met along the way, because I am no saint and only a saint could do that.   I met some jerks and I met some fantastic officers who rose to very high positions in the Navy.  But most of the people I met were like me, serving their country, doing the best they could, and eventually, sooner or later, they left the service and got on with the rest of their lives.  They were the same type of men who served with George Washington, with U.S. Grant, who fought in the trenches of France, who manned the destroyers and destroyer escorts in the Battle of the Atlantic, who went ashore on Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, who manned SBDs and torpedo planes to hit the Japanese task force at Midway.  I am so proud that I was one of them.
All of us carry Naval Aviation with us everywhere we go, every day. 

Sometimes young men and women ask me if they should join the service.  Yes, I always say.  It isn't a lifetime commitment.  The experience will enrich your life if you treat every day as an adventure, not a career.  If you spend your days sucking up to the boss while worrying about your fittie, you won't enjoy the challenge and the people.   Do something else.  Go to truck driving school, or become a plumber, or a politician.  
The success of Flight of the Intruder allowed me to become a professional novelist.  I have been doing it for thirty years.  So far, I have published 36 books: twenty-one solo novels, nine co-authored tales, one work of nonfiction, and five anthologies.  One of my novels was published under a pen name, Eve Adams, The Garden of Eden.  Three of my novels were actually semi-sci-fi, the Saucer trilogy.  If you are a hard-core sci-fi fan, you will be disappointed.  The three Saucer tales are flying stories, chase books mixed with political satire.

I am always a bit skeptical when someone tells me they have read everything I ever wrote, because very very few people ever found The Garden of Eden, no doubt because the publisher slapped a pen name on it and refused to tell anyone who wrote it.  Like most of my old paperbacks, you can buy it on amazon for a penny plus shipping.  If you can't afford a penny for a really terrific book, you should probably get a job as a greeter at Walmart.
My latest literary crime is The Art of War, which was published in February in hardcover, audio and ebook formats.  The Chinese plant a nuclear weapon in Norfolk to destroy the Atlantic Fleet, sort of Pearl Harbor II.  Fortunately Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini manage to once again save the world as we know it from the forces of evil, which is the definition of a thriller.   

People ask me, "Of all the books you have written, which is your favorite?"  It's always the next one.  My next novel will be published just two months from now, on June 13th.   Liberty's Last Stand.   It is perhaps the most politically incorrect book yet to be published in this century.  Knowing naval aviators as I do, I think most of you are going to love it.  It's a big book, 178,000 words, a doorstop.   President Barry Soetoro declares martial law, and Texas declares its independence.  Texas is joined by a handful of other states, and what happens is another American Civil War.   You will be delighted to hear that Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini manage to save America from its president.  Liberty's Last Stand, available in all formats on June 13.  It's available for preorder now online from amazon and Barnes & Noble, and from your favorite bookstore.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that if you are a fan or disciple of Barack Obama, you should probably avoid this book, which will raise your blood pressure to unacceptable levels.

And since writers write, perhaps I should tell you a little about my next two projects, both non-fiction.   We are negotiating a contract for License to Kill, which I wrote with William B. Scott and Mike McDaniel.  The manuscript is complete, almost, and will probably be published later this year or early next year.  Unfortunately I can't tell you any more about it at this time.  We still have a few more people to talk to and don't want the buzz to turn them off.

Aviation historian Barrett Tillman and I are in the early stages of writing a book about The Dragon's Jaw: The Thanh Hoa Bridge.   I was very reluctant to emotionally go back to Vietnam, so this project dragged for a couple of years.  Finally I decided to suck it up and do it while I was still able and many of the men who flew the missions were still above ground to talk to. This evening I am soliciting your help.  If you flew one or more missions against the Dragon's Jaw, which wasn't dropped into the Ma River until May 10, 1972, or against the associated rail-yard, barracks, SAM or flak sites, we would like to hear from you.

The best way to help would be for you to send me an email detailing your experiences, the squadron, your pilot or BN, the date, other planes involved, basically everything you can remember.  I am especially interested in how the mission affected you.  Where in the cruise did it come, were you especially worried, how was the flak and SAMs?  What was memorable about the mission or missions?  In other words, tell me more than date and target.  Don't think this is an English essay: I'll write the story, that's what they pay me for, but I need your thoughts and input to do that. 

On every table tonight I have placed a stack of my cards.  Grab one.  It gives my email address and the website, which also has an email address.   If you lose the card, don't sweat it.  I am ridiculously easy to find., or if you can't remember that, and some of us pilots have trouble with the memory thing, which was why we flew with kneeboards and pencils and BNs, you can google me:  Stephen Coonts.  That will take you to the website, where you can hit the Contact Steve icon.  All you have to do is remember how to spell my name.  C-o-o-n-t-s.

I'd like to close by telling you about a telephone conversation I had with a former A-6 pilot, Captain Sam Sayers, who flew eleven missions against the bridge, in Alpha strikes and single-plane night missions as a member of VA-85.  Many of you will remember Captain Sam, who went on to command the Blue Blasters of VA-34, then the east coast RAG, VA-42.  He and his BN Charlie Hawkins were once shot up near Vinh.  He made it to the ocean, and when the plane, which was on fire, became uncontrollable, he and Charlie ejected.  They were rescued from the ocean by an HU-16 Albatross from Da Nang.  I met Sam when he was the technical adviser on the movie Flight of the Intruder and we became good friends and hunting buddies.   As he once told me about the movie, "Don't blame me.  I would tell them that they had something wrong and the director would listen respectfully, then say, 'Duly noted, but we're making a movie.  Now go find a chair in a corner and watch.'"

I suppose you have all seen the movie at one time or another.  At the publicity blast for the opening, the director, John Milius, asked me if I would have done anything differently than he did.  I would have opened the movie differently, I said.  I would have had Jake and Morg fly the mission, take the bullet, and after landing back aboard ship, I would have had the camera linger on the scene of the corpsmen lifting the BN's body from the cockpit as the opening credits ran, and I would have showed the blood.  A cockpit full of blood, rich red blood, all over everything.  The novel and the movie are about blood.  As is naval aviation.  As is war.  The Intruder crews were American warriors riding the hard, sharp, deadly tip of the arrow.  Some of them gave their lives, and some of them spent an early stint in hell as prisoners of the North Vietnamese.

I remember standing at my locker aboard Enterprise donning my flight gear for missions up north.  Taking off my wedding ring, putting my wallet in the locker, knowing that I might be shot down, killed or captured.  You had to be willing to die to do this.  I was young, and perhaps foolish, but I was one of those idiots who would rather die than look bad, one of those who would rather die than let my shipmates down, those whose luck was not as good as mine, those who had gone before and paid the ultimate price.

I didn't get shot down, and obviously I didn't die.   My luck was better than those who did, and believe me, it was only luck.  So I tried to tell their story, your story, our story, for all of us.  For Each Other. 

But I digress.

I ended my telephone call with Sam Sayers a few weeks ago with a question.  "Knowing all you know now about naval aviation and the political mess that was the Vietnam War, if you had it to do over again, would you do it?"
Sam spoke for me, and perhaps all of us, when he said, "Hell, yes!"

Thank you… and God Bless America.
Item Number:1 Date: 12/21/2017 BRAZIL - KEY MILESTONE REACHED BY KC-390 TANKER-TRANSPORT (DEC 21/EMBRAER)  EMBRAER INC. -- Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer has announced that its KC-390 military tanker-transport has achieved initial operational capability.   Reaching IOC means the aircraft has demonstrated the necessary capabilities to begin operations, Embraer said in a Wednesday release.   As part of the process, Embraer obtained a provisional type certificate for the KC-390 from the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC).   The KC-390 test campaign had racked up more than 1,500 flight hours with two prototypes at the time, in addition to more than 40,000 hours of laboratory testing of various aircraft systems, said the company.   A final type certificate is expected to be issued by ANAC in 2018. Flight-testing of various military functions will also be completed next year, including aerial refueling and cargo-dropping trials, Embraer said.   Deliveries to the Brazilian air force are scheduled to begin in 2018.  
Item Number:2 Date: 12/21/2017 BULGARIA - MIG-29 MAINTENANCE PROJECT STALLS AFTER COMPLAINT FROM UKRAINIAN COMPANY (DEC 21/SEEN)  SEENEWS -- A complaint by a Ukrainian company has delayed a planned fighter jet maintenance project for the Bulgarian air force, reports SeeNews (Bulgaria).   The Ukrainian arms company Ukrinmash filed a complaint with the Bulgarian competition regulator, forcing the Defense Ministry to suspend the US$49.3 million deal, Bulgaria's Defense Minister said on Wednesday.   This comes while Bulgaria was finalizing a deal with Russian Aircraft Corp. MiG to overhaul and maintain 15 of its MiG-29 fighters, Krasimir Karakachanov told reporters.   The Ukrainian firm would not be able to complete the work, said Karakachanov. He suggested other motives, including a regional rivalry, might be behind the decision, reported Reuters.   The timing of the suspension, at the end of the year, means that it will take three to four months to secure funds again for the overhaul, the ministry said.  
Item Number:3 Date: 12/21/2017 INDIA - AIR FORCE SEEKS 83 LIGHT COMBAT AIRCRAFT; DEFENSE MINISTRY CLEARS PROPOSAL (DEC 21/BUST)  BUSINESS STANDARD -- India's Defense Ministry has signed off on a proposal to buy 83 light combat aircraft, reports the Business Standard (India).   Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) confirmed on Wednesday that it had received a request for proposal (RfP) for 83 Tejas Mark 1A light combat aircraft.   The Defense Acquisitions Council approved the order earlier that day, said Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, as reported in Scroll (India).   The final contract is expected to be signed within five months, said the Hindu.   Production for the US$5.18 billion deal is expected for 2019 to 2020, she said.  
 Item Number:4 Date: 12/21/2017 IRAQ - ISLAMIC STATE STILL A THREAT DESPITE TERRITORIAL LOSSES, SAYS U.S. MILITARY (DEC 21/S&S)  STARS AND STRIPES -- Though U.S.-backed forces in Iraq and Syria have cleared Islamic State fighters from more than 97 percent of the territory it once controlled, the terrorist group remains a threat, says a U.S. military spokesman cited by the Stars and Stripes.   There are fewer than 3,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, with most of those confined to small pieces of land that the group still occupies along the Euphrates River south of Raqqa in eastern Syria, according to the U.S. military.   In Iraq, small groups of militants are still in several areas and continue to attack Iraqi security forces, a spokesman for the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve said on Tuesday.   ISIS resistance in Syria has required continued assistance from U.S. military advisers who remain embedded with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of primarily Kurdish and Arab fighters.   The estimated 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq have shifted their mission since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS on Dec. 9. The Americans are now focused on training Iraqi security forces and have mostly ceased advise-and-assist operations, said the spokesman.  
 Item Number:5 Date: 12/21/2017 NORTH KOREA - ANOTHER N. KOREAN SOLDIER DEFECTS; S. KOREAN TROOPS FIRE TO TURN BACK PURSUERS (DEC 21/CBS)  CBS NEWS -- South Korean troops have fired warning shots across the demilitarized separating North and South Korea, turning back North Korean soldiers apparently chasing a defecting comrade, say officials cited by CBS News.   The soldier, in his late teens or early 20s, crossed under heavy fog early Thursday, said South Korean officials. The defection took place in the northeastern province of Gangwon, reported South Korean broadcaster KBS.   The shots were not fired as the soldier fled, said South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. About 1.5 hours later, the troops fired about 20 machine-gun rounds at North Korean soldiers apparently searching for the defector.   Four soldiers have defected from North Korea this year, equaling the total from 2012 to 2016
Item Number:6 Date: 12/21/2017 POLAND - WARSAW PUSHES LEONARDO FOR DELAYED DELIVERIES OF M-346 TRAINERS (DEC 21/DN)  DEFENSE NEWS -- Poland wants Italian firm Leonardo to pay a financial penalty for delayed deliveries of fighter jet trainers, reports Defense News.   The Polish Defense Ministry told local media it was seeking up to US$28 million for late deliveries of M-346 Master jet trainers, said the Defense Ministry.   In February 2014, Poland signed a $330 million deal four eight M-346s, along with support and training.   Delivery was completed in December 2017, slightly behind schedule. However, the first two aircraft, delivered in November 2016, are unable to simulate certain weapons' effects, said the ministry. A request for upgrading by July 2017 apparently was unmet.   Warsaw will continue pushing the issue and could obtain one Bielik training jet for free as part of a final agreement, said a ministry spokesman
  Item Number:7 Date: 12/21/2017 SERBIA - PRESIDENT EYES RUSSIAN MILITARY HELICOPTERS (DEC 21/TASS)  TASS -- Serbia is in talks with Russia over six multipurpose helicopters and establishing a local helicopter repair center, reports Tass (Russia).   Discussions have begun "with the Russian side on purchasing up to six Mi-17 multipurpose helicopters. This would allow us to renew our aircraft fleet," Serbia's President Aleksandar Vulin said in a live broadcast on national television on Thursday.   Establishing a helicopter center would expand the nation's ability to repair rotorcraft locally, the minister added.   It is too early to discuss Serbia's purchase of the Russian S-300 air defense missile system, he said.   Belgrade had previously expressed interest in purchasing the system.   Serbia took delivery of six Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters from Russia in October. It is also expected to receive 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance and patrol combat vehicles from Russia at no cost
Item Number:8 Date: 12/21/2017 SOUTH KOREA - COAST GUARD FIRES 250 WARNING SHOTS DURING CONFRONTATION WITH CHINESE FISHING BOATS (DEC 21/KBS)  KOREA BROADCASTING SERVICE -- The South Korean coast guard says it fired nearly 250 warning shots Tuesday at dozens of Chinese fishing vessels that were attempting to fish illegally in South Korean waters, reports KBS World Radio News (South Korea).   A fleet of 44 Chinese vessels sailed around 6 miles (9 km) into South Korea's exclusive economic zone about 55 miles (89 km) west of Gageo Island. The fishing boats swarmed a patrol vessel and sought to collide with it, South Korean coast guard officials said Wednesday, as cited by the South China Morning Post.   The coast guard fired 249 warning shots at the fishing boats, the service said, as reported by Reuters.   The Chinese vessels involved were said to be equipped with iron bars and steel mesh.   The Chinese boats departed after 5.5 hours, said the coast guard. It was not clear if any Chinese vessels suffered any damage. There was no damage to the South Korean ships, said officials
  Item Number:9 Date: 12/21/2017 TURKEY - RETWEET LEADS TO TURKISH-EMIRATI SQUABBLE (DEC 21/BL)  BLOOMBERG -- Leaders of two influential nations in the Middle East are locked in a war of words that started with a Twitter post, reports Bloomberg.   On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates for retweeting a post accusing his Ottoman "forefathers" for mistreating Arabs and stealing manuscripts from the holy city of Medina, reported the Washington Post.   Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan shared a post that accused Turkey and Turkish leader Fahreddin Pasha of robbing and kidnapping inhabitants of Medina in the early 20th century.   "While Fahreddin Pasha was conducting the defense of Medina, you, the miserable one slandering us, where were your ancestors?" asked Erdogan on Wednesday during a meeting with local officials in Ankara.   Fahreddin Pasha is celebrated in Turkey for his role in opposing the Arab rebellion, orchestrated in part by T.E. Lawrence, noted Bloomberg.   Relations between Turkey and the U.A.E. are tense, in part due to Ankara's backing of Qatar during the ongoing blockade of that Gulf state.  
  Item Number:10 Date: 12/21/2017 UKRAINE - U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY DECRIES ONGOING VIOLENCE IN EASTERN UKRAINE (DEC 21/RFE/RL)  RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY -- The U.S. special envoy for Ukraine says 2017 has been the deadliest in the region since fighting in Ukraine began in 2014, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   "A lot of people think that this has somehow turned into a sleepy, frozen conflict and it's stable and now we have ... a cease-fire," Kurt Volker told the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 19.   "That's completely wrong. It is a crisis. This has been the most violent year," he said.   He spoke after international monitors reported intense shelling overnight near the town of Novoluhanske in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region. Eight civilians were injured and dozens of homes were damaged, according to U.N. officials.   The conclusion about the extent of the fighting is based on violations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's special monitoring mission in Ukraine cease-fire and civilian casualties since the Minsk agreements, clarified a U.S. State Dept. official to RFE/RL.   "The cumulative impact of three years of fighting has also created the worst humanitarian impact as well, according to the U.N.," the official said.   The OSCE mission later confirmed that Russia had withdrawn from the Joint Center for Coordination and Control (JCCC), undermining the organization's operations. This is seen to be part of the Kremlin's efforts to force the government in Kiev to negotiate with representatives of the Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine
Item Number:11 Date: 12/21/2017 UNITED KINGDOM - PLOTTING TERROR LEADS TO 10-YEAR SENTENCE; CONVICTED MAN SAID TO BE INFLUENCED BY SUICIDE BOMBER BROTHER (DEC 21/INDEP)  INDEPENDENT -- A British court has sentenced a 24-year-old man to 10 years in prison for preparing terrorist acts, reports the Independent (U.K.).   On Wednesday, Mohammed Awan was sentenced for 10 years and also ordered to serve three years of parole under strict conditions after his release.   The convicted man is the younger brother of a suicide bomber who killed 30 people in a blast in Iraq in 2016. The judge said he believed Awan was "to a very large extent radicalized by the actions" of his brother Rizwan Awan, noted the BBC.   Police arrested Awan in his West Yorkshire home in June after he purchased 500 ball bearings online. During the raids on his family home and an apartment, police recovered a "significant volume" of extremist material on computers, phones and USB drives, reported the BBC.   Awan maintained that he had purchased the materials to hunt rabbits.   The dentistry student was convicted last week
  Item Number:12 Date: 12/21/2017 UNITED NATIONS - SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS CROSS-BORDER AID DELIVERIES TO SYRIA (DEC 21/VOA)  VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS -- The U.N. Security Council has authorized cross-border aid deliveries to conflict-wracked areas of Syria for another year, reports the Voice of America News.   Tuesday's action will help the world body and its partners provide life-saving aid to more than 3 million people in northern and southern Syria.   Russia expressed concerns about the program, with Moscow saying it was intended as a temporary measure when it was implemented in 2014.   "Today the situation in the country has changed radically and the mechanism for cross-border deliveries remains a legacy of the past," said Vladimir Safronkov, the Russian envoy to the Security Council. "We think it is important to gradually roll down this rudimentary scheme which has worked for Syria's division."   The authorization vote was adopted with 13 in favor and abstentions by Russia, China and Bolivia.   U.N. humanitarian officials said the program is a vital part of providing assistance when 13 million in Syria need help.   Aid access continues to be challenging, erratic and insufficient, particularly in areas designated as besieged and hard to reach, experts told the Security Council.   "In November, only five cross-line convoys were able to deploy, reaching 200,250 people in hard-to-reach locations and 28,700 people in besieged locations out of a total besieged population of more than 400,000 people," said Mark Lowcock, the U.N. humanitarian chief. No aid convoys were able to make it to any of the besieged locations during the first half of December
  Item Number:13 Date: 12/21/2017 USA - IN SHIFT, WHITE HOUSE OKS SALE OF LETHAL ARMS SALES TO UKRAINE (DEC 21/WP)  WASHINGTON POST -- Reversing the Obama administration's stance, the Trump White House has approved the commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, reports the Washington Post.   The U.S. State Dept. earlier this month approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems. The deal was estimated at US$41.5.   The sale of heavier weapons, long-sought by the Ukrainian government, has not been approved.   Such sales were approved in the 2014 Ukraine Freedom Support Act, but the Obama administration declined to act on it, though it did provide "non-lethal" aid.   Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lobbied in favor of the move, said administration officials
  Item Number:14 Date: 12/21/2017 USA - KAZAKH CITIZEN, N.Y. RESIDENT, GETS 15-YEAR SENTENCE FOR HIS ATTEMPT TO JOIN ISIS (DEC 21/WSJ)  WALL STREET JOURNAL -- A U.S. federal court in New York has sentenced a Brooklyn, N.Y. resident to 15 years in prison for conspiring to join the Islamic State, reports the Wall Street Journal.   The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York said on Wednesday that Akhror Saidakhmetov, a 22-year-old Kazakh citizen, will be deported after serving his sentence.   In January, Saidakhmetov pleaded guilty to for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State, noted Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   Then 19, he was arrested with five others in February 2015 at New York's John F. Kennedy airport. Authorities said he was on his way to join the terrorist group in Syria. Officials also said he posed a danger to U.S. law enforcement officers.   The Kazakh man was one of three roommates – including two Uzbek men – arrested in 2015.   Abdurasul Juraboev, an Uzbek citizen who planned to travel to Syria with Saidakhmetov, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in October. Another Uzbek, Abror Habibov, is awaiting sentencing
Item Number:15 Date: 12/21/2017 USA - NEED FOR MORE PERSONNEL DRIVES NAVY'S POLICY CHANGES (DEC 21/NTIMES)  NAVY TIMES -- The U.S. Navy has just announced personnel policy changes intended to help the service add 4,000 enlisted sailors by the fall of 2018, reports the Navy Times.   In an attempt to meet this goal, the service has extended up-or-out limits for junior enlisted sailors and cancelled early out programs.   The changes were described in a service-wide message on Dec. 14.   The Navy wants to increase its active-duty force from 324,000 to about 328,000 by the end of fiscal 2018.   Effective Feb. 1, active-duty sailors at the E-3 pay grade must advance to E-4 by the time they hit the six-year mark, a one-year extension of the current policy that requires sailors to separate if they fail to advance in five years.   The Enlisted Early Transition program, which was launched in 2015, allowed sailors in overmanned ratings to leave the service up to two years early with the approval of the superiors.   In August, the Navy implemented a two-year extension of the high-year tenure limits for E-4, E-5 and E-6 sailors.   These extensions could allow as many as 3,000 sailors to remain on active-duty over the next few years, said Navy officials.  
  Item Number:16 Date: 12/21/2017 USA - PENTAGON SEEKS LIMITED AREAS TO WORK WITH PAKISTAN, SAYS REPORT (DEC 21/DAWN)  DAWN -- The U.S. Dept. of Defense says Washington will take unilateral actions in areas where it differs with Pakistan and try to expand cooperation where the nations' interests align, reports the Dawn (Pakistan).   A report to Congress, which was released to media over the weekend, also emphasized the need for a joint U.S.-Afghan platform for fighting the score of militant groups active in the region.   This is the Pentagon's first report concerning Afghanistan since President Donald Trump announced his new South Asia strategy on Aug. 21, which Islamabad found unfair. The strategy calls for more military involvement in Afghanistan and urges Islamabad to support U.S. efforts to defeat the Taliban.   There is a need for a "fundamental change" in the way Pakistan deals with terrorist hideouts on its territory, says the DoD report.   The strategy also calls for a whole-of-government, regional approach to isolate the Taliban from external support and to mitigate malign influences from outside actors, says the report
  Item Number:17 Date: 12/21/2017 USA - TRANSPORT SHIP NAMED FOR CITY OF BISMARCK IS TURNED OVER TO NAVY (DEC 21/BISTRIB)  BISMARCK TRIBUNE -- The U.S. Navy has accepted delivery of another Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport vessel, reports the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune.   The City of Bismarck was formally handed over at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 19.   The ship is the ninth in the class. Three more are currently under construction, noted the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command.   The transports are shallow draft vessels constructed of aluminum that are designed for intra-theater personnel and cargo lift.   The class enables rapid projection, agile maneuver and transport of personnel, equipment and supplies to areas with austere and degraded offload points, said the NAVSEA release.   USNS City of Bismarck will be owned and operated by the Military Sealift Command
Item Number:18 Date: 12/21/2017 USA - TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WARNS THAT AID COULD BE WITHHELD OVER U.N. JERUSALEM VOTE (DEC 21/REU)  REUTERS -- The U.S. has warned that it could be costly for countries to back a united Nations resolution condemning President Trump's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reports Reuters.   "They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care," Trump said on Wednesday, suggesting U.S. aid could be withheld.   The U.N. General Assembly will vote Thursday on the Egypt-drafted resolution. On Monday, the U.S. vetoed the measure in the Security Council.   "The U.S. will be taking names [of those who vote in favor]," wrote Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Wednesday to member states.   Several countries that receive considerable U.S. aid, including Egypt and Pakistan, have said they will support the measure
  Item Number:19 Date: 12/21/2017 USA - WITH ALL 3 VARIANTS TAKING PART, F-35 CONCLUDES WEAPONS DELIVERY ACCURACY TRIALS (DEC 21/AFNS)  AIR FORCE NEWS SERVICE -- U.S. military testers recently concluded the weapon delivery accuracy tests for the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, reports the Air Force News Service.   The trials began in July 2013 and ended earlier in December. Part of the F-35 development test and evaluation mission, the testing demonstrated that the aircraft's weapons system can effectively deliver air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance with the operational Block 3F software, the service said on Dec. 19.   All three F-35s were employed during the trials. The weapons tested including AIM-120 AMRAAM; AIM-9X Sidewinder; British Advanced Short-Range Air-To-Air Missile (ASRAAM); Paveway IV laser-guided bombs; GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb; GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb; GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition; and the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW).   The testing ended in December with trials of the GAU-22 25-mm gun, including the internal variant on the F-35A and the gun pods carried by the F-35B and F-35C versions, said the release.   The F-35 Joint Program Office analyzes data from the testing and deploys any necessary mission system software upgrades
Item Number:20 Date: 12/21/2017 UZBEKISTAN - SENATE DEFENSE DOCTRINE KEEPS NATION OUT OF MILITARY BLOCS (DEC 21/TASHKENT)  TASHKENT TIMES -- The Uzbek Senate has passed a new defense doctrine bill, which aims to restructure the armed forces and pave the way for an indigenous defense industry, reports the Tashkent Times (Uzbekistan).   The measure is designed to combine the existing Military Doctrine Law, which dates from 1995, and the defense doctrine approved by then-President Islam Karimov in 2000, Farrukh Dadakhodzhaev, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense and Security, said on Dec. 20.   The document opposes any overseas military missions or the deployment of foreign military bases and facilities on national territory. The doctrine also keeps Uzbekistan out of military-political alliances and coalitions.   The doctrine calls for modernizing military equipment, establishing defense industry and strengthening the organizational structure of the military, officials said. 

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