Wednesday, March 13, 2019

TheList 4946

The List 4946     TGB
To All,
I hope that your week has started well
This day in Naval History
March 12
1864—During the Civil War, Union screw gunboat Aroostook captures the schooner Marion near Velasco, Texas and the screw steamer Massachusetts captures the sloop Persis in Wassaw Sound, GA.
1904—The Marine detachment from USS Cincinnati (C 7) provides protection and assistance during the evacuation of Americans from Chemuplo (Inchon) and Seoul, Korea, when they are endangered by the Russo-Japanese War.
1942—President Franklin D. Roosevelt designates Adm. Ernest J. King to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations, as well as the Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet (he was appointed on Dec. 30, 1941).
1943—USS Champlin (DD 601) sinks German submarine U-130, which had previously sunk 25 Allied vessels, including three US Navy ships during Operation Torch.
1956—The first missile firing aircraft squadron, Attack Squadron 83, is deployed overseas aboard USS Intrepid (CVA 11).
Thanks to CHINFO
Executive Summary:
Leading today's national news headlines are reports that the U.S. plans to withdraw remaining staff from the embassy in Venezuela amid turmoil, and President Donald Trump released his $4.72 trillion FY20 budget plan to Congress on Monday. Of the $718 billion directed to the Department of Defense in the budget proposal, the request includes adding a third Virginia-class attack submarine, a third Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and additional money toward improving aviation and ship readiness and recruitment activities. Pacific Partnership 2019 officially began on Monday with an opening ceremony in Tacloban, Philippines. Additionally, Navy Times reported on VCNO Adm. Bill Moran's visit to Norfolk last Thursday.
Today in History March12
The Jews are expelled from Syria.
Cesare Borgia dies while fighting alongside his brother, the king of Navarre, in Spain.
The Bermuda Islands become an English colony.
New Jersey becomes a British colony.
The United States Post Office is established.
Great Britain signs a treaty with Persia forcing the French out of the country.
President Jefferson Davis delivers his State of the Confederacy address.
The British Zulu War begins.
Mississippi establishes the first U.S. state college for women.
Coca-Cola is sold in bottles for the first time.
The Czar of Russia issues a decree providing for nominal freedom of religion throughout the land.
British Parliament increases naval appropriations for Great Britain.
Dr. Fletcher of the Rockefeller Institute discovers the cause of infantile paralysis.
Juliet Low founds the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia.
Russian troops mutiny as the "February Revolution" begins.
Gandhi begins his march to the sea to symbolizes his defiance of British rule in India.
President Paul von Hindenburg drops the flag of the German Republic and orders that the swastika and empire banner be flown side by side.
President Roosevelt makes the first of his Sunday evening fireside chats.
German troops enter Austria without firing a shot, forming the anschluss (union) of Austria and Germany.
Pius XII is elected the new pope in Rome.
Great Britain bars all travel to neutral Ireland, which is suspected of collaborating with Nazi Germany.
Diarist Anne Frank dies in a German concentration camp.
The U.S. House of Representatives joins the Senate in approving the statehood of Hawaii.
Lebanese President Gemayel opens the second meeting in five years calling for the end to nine-years of war.
The United States and the Soviet Union begin arms control talks in Geneva.
The Church of England ordains women priests.
Thanks to NHHC.   Click on the Battle of the Sundra Strait below to learn  more

U.S., Australian, Indonesian Sailors Commemorate WWII Battle of Sunda Strait

To commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, Sailors from mine countermeasures ship USS Chief attended a wreath laying ceremony aboard Indonesian navy ship Kri Usman Harun, March 1. The ceremony honored the crews who lost their lives on USS Houston and HMAS Perth during the World War II battle. "It is important to remember the sacrifice of the Sailors that have gone before us to pay tribute to shipmates who have made the ultimate commitment while personifying the essence of duty," said Lt. Cmdr. Fred Crayton, commanding officer of Chief. "It is events like the commemoration of the Battle of Sunda Strait that captures the fighting spirit and significance of Sailors who chose obligation over existence. These were heroes that embodied honor, courage, and commitment and who should always be remembered." To learn more, read the article. Also read H-Gram 003: The Valor of the Asiatic Fleet, Lest We Forget at NHHC's website, and Lost but not forgotten: Ocean relics of WWII battle that discusses efforts to preserve the wrecks.
Thanks to Dr. Rich
March 10-11 in aviation history are speed days.
In 1948 – NACA test pilot Herbert Henry Hoover becomes the first civilian to fly faster than the speed of sound, reaching 703 mph (Mach 1.065) aboard the No. 2 Bell XS-1.

In 1956 – The British-built Fairey Delta 2 research aircraft flown by Lt Cdr Peter Twiss sets a new world airspeed record of 1,132 mph, becoming the first plane to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight. The new mark bests the previous record by 300 mph, set a year earlier by a North American F-100 Super Sabre.

In 1957 – The prototype Boeing 707 jet lands after a press demonstration flight from Seattle, Washington to Baltimore, Maryland during which it covers 2,350 miles in a record time of 3 hours 48 minutes, an average speed of 618 mph.
And this notable sunset:
In 1960 – The last flight by a United States Air Force-operated North American B-25 Mitchell takes place, when TB-25 J-25-NC, 44-30854, the last Mitchell in the U. S. Air Force inventory, lands at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for preservation.
Thanks to Doctor Rich
Yeager won't be happy w. this announcement (below) … or did he change his name …
Actually, I believe a North American test pilot, broke the sound barrier before Yeager … twice I think, before they forbid him to retract his gear during flights until Yeager flew the X-1 … sonic booms heard clearly at Happy Bottom before Yeager made the attempt ...
Thanks to Ed
A-10... Unsung Hero? Low & slow -With..... firepower
Low & slow-with Firepower.   The A-10 is a great defender.
Thanks to Carl
Air Force Gets First Upgraded 'Ghostrider' Gunship
8 Mar 2019
The Air Force has received an upgraded version of its Ghostrider gunship.
The 4th Special Operations Squadron, 1st Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, Florida, received its first AC-130J Ghostrider Block 30 gunship this week during a ceremony at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Florida, Air Force Special Operations Command said in a news release Thursday.
The 4th Special Operations Squadron currently operates and maintains the AC-130U Spooky.
The Block 30 model marks "a major improvement in software and avionics technology" over the original Block 20 software AC-130J, the release states.
Related content:
"The Ghostrider is the newest and most modernized gunship in existence, fulfilling the same mission sets as the Spooky but with upgraded avionics, navigation systems and a precision strike package that includes trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons," according to the release.
The first Block 30 model will remain in a testing-only status for a year before it can deploy for battlefield operations, officials said.
Along with the 105mm cannon the U-models sport, the AC-130J is equipped with a 30mm cannon "almost like a sniper rifle. ... It's that precise, it can pretty much hit first shot, first kill," Col. Tom Palenske, then-commander of 1st Special Operations Wing, told last May at Hurlburt.
The model achieved initial operational capability in September 2017.
The J-model also has improved turboprop engines, which reduce operational costs with better flight sustainability, the service has said.
It has the ability to launch 250-pound, GPS- or laser-guided small-diameter bombs (SDB). The aircraft is expected to carry AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, interchangeable with the SDBs on its wing pylons, AFSOC has said.
Palenske said last year that airmen have been waiting to see the aircraft in action.
"It's going to [be] the most lethal, with the most loiter time, probably the most requested weapons system from ground forces in the history of warfare. That's my prediction," he said.
The fourth-generation J is slated to replace the AC-130H/U/W models, with delivery of the final J- model sometime in 2021, according to the Air Force. The service plans to buy 37 of the aircraft.
Crews expect the J to be deployed in late 2019 or early 2020.
"It's our big gun truck," Palenske said. "It's going to have more powerful engines, a more efficient fuel rate. ... You can keep the sensors on the bad guys longer ... [and] it's also going to have AGM-176 [Griffin] missiles on the back, so you can put 10 missiles on the back of them.
"It's going to be awesome," he said.
Thanks to Carl
A Friday Afternoon in Dallas: Two Murders that Shook the World & Analysis of the Weapons Used
Thanks to Mugs
Tuskegee Airmen - Truths
Interesting, if true. I tried to check Snopes and Truth or Fiction, but nothing there. I think the guy makes too big a deal about the "missions vs sorties" thing, which may be true, but most non-airmen wouldn't know the difference anyway. Also, if you look at the math, 15,000 sorties for 311 missions equates to about 48 sorties/mission, which is about what he says the 8AF Groups flew. If the TA flew 64 sorties per mission as he claims, the math says that for 311 missions, that's closer to 20,000 sorties. Seems to be some errors on both sides of the argument here.


Subject: Red Tails Movie....Read about the Fiction

A letter written by a WW II fighter pilot regarding articles about the Tuskegee Airmen which seems to deviate from the truth.

From: Bob Powell Date: July 3, 2008

This letter was not written for publication, but to enlighten you and you and your staff about some of the errors and misleading information you continue to publish, Perhaps it should be published  to set your readers straight.  As a WWII Historian and former 8th AF fighter pilot flying 87 missions over Europe during WWII, I am dedicated to factual reporting about the air war in Europe and aviation in general, and I take issue with the media (and not with just Atlanta Journal Constitution( AJC) continuing to publish untrue and/or misleading statements about the Tuskegee Airmen (T/A).

Although I have great respect for the pilots and achievements of this WWII Fighter Group, I do not appreciate the continuing repetition of myths and untruths about their military record, the latest example in the obit on Lt. Col Charles Dryden in today's paper, repeating the same errors which appeared in his obit story a few days ago.

For more than 60 years the myth that they "never lost a bomber they were escorting to an enemy fighter", was their primary claim to fame!  Then, several months ago, their Historian, William E. Holten, announced that his research proved that this was not true, that they had, indeed, lost some 25 bombers to enemy fighters. This myth still gets published occasionally, but far less frequently since he made this disclosure, thank goodness.  Lies told often enough tend to become truths in the minds of many.  However, it now seems to have been replaced by another false claim, i.e. that the Tuskegee Airmen flew more than 15,000 combat missions. ALSO NOT TRUE!

Their own official records indicate that the T/A only flew 311missions. Their so-called 15,000 "missions" were actually 15,000 "sorties.".  Apparently, none of your reporters know the difference between a "mission" and a "sortie," so let me define these for you and them. Combat Mission is an assigned flight to accomplish a military objective. This can be flown by one pilot or a squadron or group of pilots flying together. It is recorded as one mission. Combat Sortie. When, for example, 48 or 64 pilots fly together on a combat mission it is recorded as 48 or 64 combat sorties.

The T/A did not fly 15,000+ combat missions - as stated in your articles about the demise of Col. Charles Dryden. They flew 15,000+"sorties".  To have flown that many "missions" during the time they were in combat in the MTO, they would have had to fly about 25 missions a day everyday they were in combat.  Do the math. That's one mission every hour, everyday they were in combat. Impossible! Weather alone would have prevented this, not to mention the problem of keeping all of their aircraft flyable everyday over that period of time.  FACT: Their official records indicate they flew only 311 missions, a far cry from 15,000 claimed. Please advise your reporters of the difference between a mission and a sortie so that another T/A myth is not appearing in every mention this Fighter group.

The Dryden story also stated that the 99th Squadron of the T/A was "the most successful squadron in American history."  NOT SO!      It would be more correct to say they have been the most publicized squadron in American history, however, thanks to a fully-paid public relations staff in Washington, D.C., the only such office of any military unit other than the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard..

Although I do not have complete combat statistics on all the fighter groups flying out of Africa and Italy (the MTO), I do have the stats on all of the 16 fighter groups flying in the Eighth Air Force over western Europe. And, when these records are compared, the Tuskegee Airmen rank at the bottom of the list despite the fact that they had four squadrons to only three for the 8th AF groups. FYI, and one of the reasons the T/A exploit their 15,000+ sorties (which they call missions) is that on a normal mission they would put up 64 fighters compared to only 48 for the 8th AF groups. And, since they did mostly ground support missions rather than bomber escort missions, the average length of their missions was about half that of the time in the air flown by the 8thAF fighters. Re the above mentioned stats, I would be delighted to provide these for your information if requested.

Another gross error in your first story on Colonel Dryden is that the implication that he was, individually, awarded the Congressional Gold Medal recently. ALSO NOT TRUE. Through the efforts of the New York Senator, this medal was awarded to the Tuskegee Airmen, authorizing all Tuskegee Airman to receive this award. It was not awarded for individual achievements, as implied, but for the role played by the T/A in breaking the color ban for pilots, a civil rights accomplishment, not for their military achievements. Had this award been given for their military achievements alone, it should also have been awarded to each and every other fighter group in WWII whose records exceeded those of the Tuskegee Airmen. In my opinion, this was a "political award" instead of a military award.  No other bomber or fighter units have been awarded this Medal, only Unit Citations. These are facts. Check them out, and here's to more factual reporting and a better AJC.

Most sincerely,

Robert H. Powell, Jr. Author/Editor/Historian/Pilot 352nd Fighter Group
1545 Rainier Falls Dr Atlanta, GA 30329

This email was cleaned by emailStripper, available for free from
Things You Might Not Know About Daylight Saving Time:
·        Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea (but it was a joke in a satirical letter).
·        The idea wasn't taken seriously until 1907.
·        Daylight Saving Time became law during World War I.
·        It gained renewed popularity during the energy crisis 0f the '70s.
·        It may actually be an energy waster.
·        More sunlight equals more sales.
·        Candy makers have a lot at stake, they lobbied heavily to ensure Halloween would be under DST.
·        The number of accidents and heart attacks increases.
·        But the rate of crime goes down.
·        In the U.S., Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Saving Time, but the Navajo Nation (parts of which are in three states) does. However, the Hopi Reservation, which is entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation, doesn't observe DST. In effect, there is a donut-shaped area of Arizona that does observe DST, but the "hole" in the center does not.
Thoughts on Daylight Saving Time:
·        "I don't mind going back to Daylight Saving Time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I've saved all year." Victor Borge
·        I actually don't mind losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time because I chose the one where I go on the treadmill.
·        Once again we are nearing the time where the clock in my car displays the correct time.  This will take some getting used to.
·        If we just stop saving all this daylight, we could end global warming forever.
·        Trying to explain Daylight Saving Time to an awakened toddler takes way more than an hour.
·        Arizona doesn't participate in Daylight Saving Time because no one in Arizona knows how to reset a watch or clock.
·        Daylight Saving is when everyone complains about losing one hour on Monday, like Sunday never even happened.
·        Daylight Saving yields as much interest as my actual savings account.
·        My heart goes out to the guys at Stonehenge who have to change the stones for Daylight Saving Time.
·        If you think people will have a rough Monday because of Daylight Saving Time, wait until next week when Monday is the day after St. Patrick's Day.
·        I need some help.  I just heard that the clocks go back this weekend.  I can't even remember where I got them from and I don't have any receipts.
·        Someone tell the genius of Daylight Saving Time that my child is now standing at the bus stop in the dark but going to bed while it is still light out.
·        If it wasn't for spring forward and fall back, I'd never do any exercise at all.
·        For parents of small children, Daylight Saving Time is cruel and unusual punishment.
When told the reason for Daylight Saving Time, the old Indian said, "Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket."
Don't forget early on Sunday morning to 'spring ahead',
Thanks to Dutch
How about we just pick one and stick with it?
Trump says he's 'O.K.' with 'permanent' Daylight Saving Time
Under the Sunshine Protection Act of 2019, Americans would set their clocks ahead one hour and keep them there, creating an extra hour of sunlight even in winter.
President Trump apparently is tired of switching clocks just like everyone else.
Coming off a universally sleep-deprived weekend during which America set the clocks to spring forward an hour, Trump tweeted that he's "O.K." with making Daylight Saving Time "permanent" -- in other words, enough with the clock changing.
"Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!" Trump tweeted Monday.
The president's tweet came at the start of 2019's Daylight Saving Time, which begins each year on the second Sunday in March, starting at 2 a.m. Changing the clocks forward means everyone loses an hour of sleep but gains an hour of evening daylight through the fall, when the clocks are turned back.
The law was first established during World War I as "a way of conserving fuel needed for war industries and of extending the working day," according to the Library of Congress. But it was only temporary – the law was repealed as soon as the war was over.
But the issue of daylight saving emerged again during World War II. On Jan. 20, 1942, Congress re-established daylight saving time.
More than 20 years later, in 1966, former President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Uniform Time Act, declaring daylight saving time a policy of the U.S. and establishing uniform start and end times within standard time zones. The policy is regulated by the Department of Transportation.
But not all states participate. Hawaii, most of Arizona and several U.S. territories—including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands—do not observe daylight saving time.
The president would need to work with Congress in order to repeal the 1966 Johnson-era law. Republican Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott filed a bill last week to extend daylight saving time for the entire year, called the Sunshine Protection Act. The Florida legislature voted last year to adopt the measure, but in order for it to take effect, Congress must change the federal law, and Trump must sign it.
His Monday morning tweet seemed to signal that should such a proposal make it to his desk, he would do so.
The topic has caused a nationwide debate since its inception, with many arguing the policy is unnecessary and disturbs sleep patterns. Supporters say it saves energy because people tend to spend more time outside when it's lighter out. The DOT claims it also "saves lives and prevents traffic injuries," because visibility is better.
Some items from around the world
Syria—SDF Says Battle For Baghouz Nearly Over  Reuters | 03/12/2019 The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say that at least 25 ISIS fighters have been killed as fighting in the last town held by the terrorist group winds down, reports Reuters.  The operation to retake the town of Baghouz is "as good as over" but requires a bit more time to be fully concluded, an SDF spokesman told al-Hadath television on Tuesday.  Reports suggested that rockets and artillery fired on the group's remaining territory -- less than half a square mile -- had stopped.  ISIS continues to put up some resistance with car bombs and other weapons, said the SDF spokesman.  SDF representatives provided casualty figures that ranged between 25 and 38 ISIS fighters killed in the latest offensive. Three SDF fighters died in the operation.  The advance on the town has slowed, as the fighters inside retreat into a network of tunnels and SDF troops seek to minimize losses from snipers and landmines.  U.S. defense officials say ISIS leaders have likely fled elsewhere as the group shifts towards an insurgency. ISIS still operates in remotes areas and is expected to continue to pose a security threat.   
USA—Pompeo Announces Withdrawal Of Remaining Diplomatic Staff From Caracas   Guardian | 03/12/2019 The U.S. says it will withdraw the remaining diplomatic staff from its embassy in Venezuela, reports the Guardian (U.K.). "This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.  The announcement came amid an ongoing blackout that began on March 7 and continues to affect much of the country. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the blackout on a Wasleader Juan Guaido called for mass demonstrations after the crisis entered its fifth day, reported Agence France-Presse.  Guaido, who leads the National Assembly and has won the backing of many countries as Venezuela's legitimate leader, helped usher through a declaration of a "state of alarm" on Monday that would set stage for the delivery of international aid.  It is unclear if the decision will have any effect, since much of the army remains loyal to Maduro.   
USA—White House Seeks $750 Billion For National Security In 2020  Defense News | 03/12/2019 The Pentagon is expected to request $718 billion for its fiscal 2020 budget as part of an overall $750 billion proposal for national security, reports Defense News. The budget request includes $545 billion in base defense spending; $164 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding; and $9 billion in emergency funding, said unnamed sources. The overseas funding will be divided into $66 billion for traditional OCO needs and $98 billion for "OCO-for-base funds," namely money that could be in the base budget but is classified as OCO to circumvent statutory budget caps, the sources said. The budget caps limit defense spending to $576 billion. Democratic lawmakers in the House have called it a "gimmick to prop up defense spending." Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said last week that the massive OCO was not a serious idea and that Congress would have to negotiate a realistic deal. About $2 billion of the emergency funding would be allocated for repairs and assistance following a spate of natural disasters last year. That number is expected to increase, said one source.  The remaining $7 billion would cover funding gaps in military construction as the result of President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund a wall on the southern border. Research and development funding will be set at $104 billion, a $9 billion increase from fiscal 2019. The increase would largely focus on accelerating the development of hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence programs and space-based technologies. Funding is expected to fall for the European Deterrence Initiative, which was set up in 2014 to increase the U.S. presence in the region following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.  Top-line budget figures are slated to be revealed on Monday, with more specific numbers to follow on Tuesday. The detailed numbers for individual programs are not expected to be made public until March 18.  
Algeria—President Says He Will Not Seek 5th Term In Face Of Massive Protests  Algeria Press Service | 03/12/2019 Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced he will not seek a fifth term, reports the official Algeria Press Service (APS).  On Monday, after three weeks of sustained demonstrations against his continued rule, Bouteflika said he would not run for a fifth term and that elections scheduled for April 18 would be postponed.  The move came after more than 1,000 judges said that they would refuse to oversee the election if Bouteflika were a candidate. Lt. Gen. Gaed Saleh, the military chief of staff, has also expressed sympathy with the protests, reported BBC News.  A national conference to amend the constitution and organize new elections is scheduled to be held in 2019, after which Bouteflika would step down, reported the Wall Street Journal.  Shortly after the announcement, APS reported that Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia had resigned and been replaced by Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui.  Ramtane Lamamra was appointed deputy prime minister, a position that does not appear to have previously existed, noted Al Jazeera (Qatar).  Many protesters have called for continued demonstrations to maintain pressure on the security forces and business elites, who are seen by many as wielding much of the influence in the country.  Bouteflika returned to Algeria on Sunday after receiving medical treatment in Switzerland. He has made few public appearances since suffering a stroke in 2013.   
China—2 Pilots Killed After Navy Jet Goes Down During Training Flight Over Hainan   South China Morning Post | 03/12/2019 The crew of a Chinese navy jet has been killed in crash off the southern island province of Hainan, reports the South China Morning Post.  The aircraft went down in the southern Ledong county on Tuesday during a training exercise, according to a military statement.  The two pilots were killed. There were no reports of casualties on the ground, reported Agence France-Presse.  The military did not identify the type of aircraft involved in the incident. Unconfirmed witness accounts suggested it was a twin-seat Xian JH-7 attack aircraft.  Chinese air components have come under increasing pressure in recent years as Beijing works to rapidly increase its combat readiness.  
USA—Work Set To Begin On New Ground-Launched Cruise Missile  Reuters | 03/12/2019 The Defense Dept. has announced initial production of parts for new conventional ground-based cruise missiles, reports Reuters.  The components will support developmental testing of the weapon systems, a Pentagon spokeswoman said on Monday.. The work is designed to be reversible and could be terminated if Russia returns to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty before the U.S. formally withdraws in August, she said. Washington announced that it was suspending its participation in the INF on Feb. 2, citing Russia's Novator 9M729 cruise missile, which Washington believes violates the 1987 agreement.  Moscow soon after said it was suspending the treaty and accused the U.S. of violating the pact.  The treaty bans the testing and deployment of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 310 miles (500 km) and 3,420 miles (5,500 km). Russia denies that the 9M729 cruise missile violates the accord.   
USA—Air Force Secretary To Step Down To Return To Academia  Air Force Times | 03/12/2019 Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has announced that she will resign from her post later this year and return to academia, reports the Air Force Times. Wilson will officially step down on May 31 once the University of Texas Board of Regents officially votes to approve her as president of the University of Texas at El Paso, said an Air Force release on March 8. Wilson has served as secretary of the Air Force since May 2017 and is scheduled to assume her new role on Sept. 1.  The resignation leaves another senior Pentagon position vacant following the departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis in December, noted Reuters.  Recent reports indicated that Wilson could have been nominated to fill the top post. Her resignation adds to the speculation that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan will remain in the position.   
NATO—Conversion Work Underway For NATO Aerial Tanker Fleet  Defense-Aerospace | 03/12/2019 Airbus has begun converting the first two of eight A330 passenger aircraft ordered by NATO into multirole tanker transports (MRTT), reports The aircraft are being reconfigured at the Airbus Defense and Space facility in Getafe, Spain, near Madrid, the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a release on Friday. The A330s will be completely stripped and then equipped with a boom at the rear featuring a 46-foot (14-m) rigid tank tube and 360-degree cameras; two air-to-air refueling pods under the wings; an armored cockpit; and a directed infrared countermeasures system. The aircraft were ordered as part of the Multinational Multirole Tanker Fleet, which was launched by the European Defense Agency in 2012, according to Airbus. The initiative is funded by five nations -- Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway -- who will have exclusive rights to use these NATO-owned aircraft.  The Dutch Ministry of Defense, in cooperation with Luxembourg, ordered the first two aircraft for the NATO fleet in July 2016. The first A330 MRTT is scheduled for delivery to Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands in May 2020, with deliveries running through the summer of 2024.  The Dutch air base will be home to five of the eight aircraft. The balance will be stationed at a forward operating base in Cologne, Germany.   
United Kingdom—Defense Ministry To Set Up New Gurkha Battalion, Support Units  U.K. Ministry Of Defense | 03/12/2019 The British army is increasing the roles for its Gurkha units, reports the U.K. Ministry of Defense. The 3rd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles will be established as a Specialized Infantry Battalion and begin recruiting this year, said a ministry release on Monday. The unit is the fifth and final specialized infantry battalion called for by the 2015 defense review. The battalions are designed to provide expert capacity building and training skills with a focus on niche capabilities or parts of the world. The ministry also plans to establish additional Gurkha engineer and signals squadrons, as well as enhance the support other Gurkha units provide, including to the U.K.-led NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. The new units will give Gurkhas more career opportunities, including promotion and chances to serve a full 24-year career within the Brigade of Gurkhas, the ministry said.  
Afghanistan—Kabul Rejects Report Saying Taliban Founder Died In Afghanistan  Voice Of America News | 03/12/2019 Afghan officials have rejected a recent report that the head of the Taliban took refuge in Afghanistan where he died in 2013, reports the Voice of America News. According to a new report published by the Zomia Center, a New York-based research institute, Mullah Mohammad Omar, the founder of the Taliban, remained in Afghanistan in 2001 after the U.S.-led military coalition dislodged the Taliban from power. Omar lived in Afghanistan's southern Zabul province, just a few miles from a major U.S. base, for nearly 13 years until his death, says the report. The Taliban confirmed the findings. Omar conducted all of his activities from his home in Zabul and American forces once raided it, a Taliban spokesman told the news site. In July 2015, the Afghan presidential office announced that Omar had died two years previously in Karachi in southern Pakistan. Omar refused to go to Pakistan because of his "deep-seated mistrust of that country and his involvement in the insurgency was minimal," the report says. "We strongly reject this delusional claim and we see it as an effort to create and build an identity for the Taliban and their foreign backers," an Afghan presidential spokesman said on Monday.   
India—JeM Leader Killed In Shootout With Police In Kashmir  Times Of India | 03/12/2019 Indian police in Kashmir say they have killed the Jaish-e-Mohammed leader responsible for last month's deadly attack in Kashmir, reports the Times of India. On Sunday, police conducted a cordon-and-search operation in the Pulwama district in southern Kashmir after receiving intelligence about militant activity in the area, said police officials quoted by Asian News International. Two militants, including Mudasir Ahmed Khan, were killed in a shootout with police, the officials said. Khan is believed to have been the mastermind behind the suicide bombing in Pulwama on Feb. 14 that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) paramilitaries.  He was in regular contact with Adil Ahmed Dar, who blew up his car full of explosives next to a bus carrying CRPF personnel, and had arranged for the vehicles and explosives used, police said. Khan is also thought to have been involved in an attack on an army camp in Sunjawan in February 2018 and an assault on a CRPF camp in January 2018, reported NDTV (New Delhi). On Monday, the Indian army said that 18 terrorists, including six from JeM had been killed in counterterrorist operations since Feb. 14.
Yemen—22 Civilians Killed In Airstrike  U.N. News Center | 03/12/2019 At least 22 civilians have been killed and 30 wounded in airstrikes in Yemen's northwestern Hajjah province, reports the U.N. News.  At least 10 women and 12 children have been killed and 30 others wounded in two days of air attacks in the province's Kushar district, according to sources from the office of the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen quoted by Reuters.  The wounded were transferred to Abs district and Sanaa for medical treatment, said the U.N. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. A source told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya (U.A.E.) that the Houthis carried out the attack. The Houthis blamed the Saudi-led coalition, reported Agence France-Presse. Some parts of Hajjah are held by the government. Others, including the Kushar district, are controlled by the Houthis.  The Houthis have accused a local tribe of accepting arms from the Saudi-led coalition, noted the International Crisis Group.  The coalition fighting the Houthis came under increasing scrutiny in 2018 after several high-profile incidents involving civilian casualties.   
Uganda—President Threatens To Pull Troops From Somalia  East African | 03/12/2019 President Yoweri Museveni has threatened to completely withdraw Ugandan troops from the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), reports the East African (Nairobi, Kenya). Uganda would withdraw its entire 6,400-troop contingent if the U.N. orders a reduction in the size of its contingent, Museveni said during a high-level meeting on refugees in the Great Lakes region in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, last week. Museveni said he had informed the Security Council that he would pull all of the Ugandan troops if forced to downsize the mission. Uganda is the largest troop contributor to AMISOM. Participants in the mission say the 21,626 soldiers assigned to the force are too few to defeat Al-Shabaab and secure Somalia. The move comes in response to the U.N.'s 2017 proposal for a phased drawdown of peacekeepers in Somalia as part of efforts to gradually remove foreign troops and rebuild the Somali military. The plan calls for a full pullout by 2020. Late last month, the Burundi government issued a similar warning, citing safety concerns. Officials expressed concern that a reduced contingent would endanger the remaining troops.  
Malaysia—As Malaysians Abandon ISIS, Government Prepares For Their Return   Al Jazeera | 03/12/2019 Malaysia plans to allow citizens who traveled to Syria to join ISIS to return home under certain conditions, reports Al Jazeera (Qatar).  Potential returnees must undergo interrogation and a one-month rehabilitation program that includes evaluations by religious officials and psychologists and continuous monitoring, said Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, head of counterterrorism for the Malaysian police intelligence service.  Anyone involved in the terrorist group's militant activities would face criminal charges, he said.  So far, 11 Malaysians have returned from Syria. Eight have been convicted of crimes.  The government has identified 51 Malaysians, including 17 children, who remain in Syria and who are likely to attempt a return.   
Philippines—Army Targets BIFF In Mindanao   Philippines News Agency | 03/12/2019 Nearly two dozen militants have been killed during a military operation on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, reports the Philippine News Agency.  On Monday, the army launched an operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group, which has been linked with the Islamic State, in Barangay Inaladan, said Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejna, the commander of the 6th Infantry Division.  Attack helicopters and artillery fire hit militant positions in the area, he said.  An estimated 20 militants were killed in the fight, including at least three local commanders, reported the GMA News, citing the Philippine military. The number of casualties was still being evaluated, officials said. At least one soldier was killed and seven injured in the operation.  About 16,000 people were displaced by the fighting, in addition to those already in camps from other operations, said Raisa Jajurie, minister of social services of the Bangsamoro region, as reported by the Minda News (Philippines).  The military has increased its pressure on the ISIS-linked group after an attack last week in Cotabato City killed five soldiers.                                                                          

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