Thursday, July 4, 2019

TheList 5037



The List 5037 TGB

I hope that your week has started well.

Regards,

skip

Today in Naval History
July 2

1926 The Distinguished Flying Cross is authorized by Congress. The first Naval Aviator to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross is Richard E. Byrd for his flight to the North Pole on May 9, 1926.


1937 Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappear over the Pacific. US Coast Guard cutter Itasca, USS Colorado (BB 45) and USS Lexington (CV 2) and PBY aircraft from Hawaii are dispatched, but the extensive search is unsuccessful.

1944 TBM aircraft from (VC 58) based on board USS Wake Island (CVE 65) sink German submarine U 543, southeast of the Azores.

1944 PB4Ys (FAW 1) sink Japanese sailing vessel Nishima Maru off Mokpo, Korea, and cargo ship No.12 Shima Maru.

1945 USS Barb (SS 220) bombards Japanese installations on Kaihyo Island, Japan in the first successful use of rockets against shore positions.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• Today's national headlines include lawmakers visiting migrant holding sites on the border and preparations for military displays during a 4th of July event in DC.

• Iran stated that it has exceeded the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, reports the Wall Street Journal. The White House stated it will maintain maximum-pressure on Iran.

• Jim Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, detailed the Navy's plan to fix the Advanced Weapons Elevators aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), reports Navy Times and others.

• Several outlets reported on the June deployment of USS Montgomery (LCS 8) after the ship pulled into Davao City.

History July 2

1298
An army under Albert of Austria defeats forces led by Adolf of Nassau.

1625

The Spanish army takes Breda, Spain, after nearly a year of siege.

1644
Oliver Cromwell crushes the Royalists at the  

1747

Marshall Saxe leads the French forces to victory over an Anglo-Dutch force under the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Lauffeld.

1776

The Continental Congress resolves with the Declaration of Independence 
that the American colonies "are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."

1822

Denmark Vesey is executed in Charleston, South Carolina, for planning a massive slave revolt.

1858

Czar Alexander II frees the serfs working on imperial lands.

1863

The Union left flank holds at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.

1881

Charles J. Guiteau fatally wounds President James A. Garfield in Washington, D.C.

1926

Congress establishes the Army Air Corps.

1937

American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappears in the Central Pacific during an attempt to fly around the world.

1961

Novelist Ernest Hemingway commits suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

1964

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law.

1967

The U.S. launches Operation Buffalo in Vietnam.

1976

North and South Vietnam are officially reunified.

1980

President Jimmy Carter reinstates draft registration for males 18 years of age.

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There are all kind of heroes. This article about Seaman Hegdahl is worth the repeat.

Skip,

After reading "The Military Aviator" in TL 4757, I found this important and interesting fact about Joe Crecca teaching Hegdahl mental gymnastics!

Carl


"THE INCREDIBLY STUPID ONE"
(SN HEGDAHL, USS CANBERRA – PRISONER OF WAR)

By Dick "Beak" Stratton, Captain, USN (Ret.)


Doug was shuffled around from pillar to post, since his captors didn't know where he would fit into their propaganda plans. One mistake they made was to put him in for a while with Joe Crecca, an Air Force officer who had developed a method of creating the most organized memory bank we possessed to record the names of pilots shot down and imprisoned in Vietnam . Joe took this young Seaman and, recognizing the potential, painstakingly taught Doug not only 256 names, but also, the method of memorizing, cross-referencing and retrieving those names. It was no easy task that Joe set for himself for it was not intuitively obvious to Doug the value of such mental gymnastics.


http://pownetwork.org/bios/h/h135.htm


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Another great piece of history thanks to Admiral Cox and the Naval Historical and Heritage Command.

There will be more in tomorrow's List

H-Gram 032: Operation Forager and the Battle of the Philippine Sea

75th Anniversary of World War II
The Invasion of the Marianas and Victory in the Philippine Sea

This H-gram covers Operation Forager, the invasion of the Marianas (initially Saipan on 15 June 1944) and the major components of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, specifically the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" and the sinking of two Japanese carriers by U.S. submarines on 19 June 1944, and the extreme-range "flight beyond darkness" on 20 June 1944.

Just after 0900 on 19 June 1944, in an action that typified the extreme bravery and utter operational futility of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Warrant Officer Sakio Komatsu deliberately crashed his Jill torpedo bomber into a torpedo heading for his ship, the aircraft carrier Taiho. Although Komatsu's courageous sacrifice destroyed the inbound torpedo, five others fired from submarine Albacore (SS-218)continued toward Taiho, the largest and newest carrier in the Japanese navy and flagship of Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's First Mobile Fleet. Four missed, but despite the failure of Albacore's target data computer, one torpedo hit the carrier, setting in motion a six-hour saga of struggle by her crew to save their ship even as she continued to operate, ultimately culminating in a massive explosion that doomed her and much of her crew despite yet another hour of valiant damage control.

In the time it took for Taiho to die, the carrier Shokaku fought and lost her battle to live. Shokaku was hit by three or four torpedoes from submarine Cavalla (SS-244), which narrowly escaped destruction herself. The crew of Shokakau, the battle-scarred veteran of Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, Eastern Solomons, and Santa Cruz, who had saved their ship twice before from devastating bomb damage, were this time no match for the torpedoes (which finally worked the way they were supposed to). They fought for over an hour to keep her from sinking, but, in the end, Shokaku took over 1,200 of her loyal crew to the bottom.

Meanwhile, just as the Pacific Fleet intelligence officer Edwin Layton had predicted (although, unlike at the Battle of Midway, this time he was one day off in forecasting the start of the battle), the Japanese force of nine aircraft carriers with 440 embarked aircraft had sortied to give battle for the first time in almost two years, their hand forced by the arrival of 127,000 U.S. Marine and Army personnel and 535 ships off Saipan. A successful U.S. landing on Saipan would put the imperial palace in Tokyo in range of the new U.S. B-29 bomber. In an attempt to prevent that from happening, the Japanese launched Operation A-Go, intended to be the "decisive battle" to determine the fate of the empire. Actually it was, but not the way the Japanese intended, for with the loss of Saipan everyone at the highest level of Japanese government and military (and for the first time amongst the civilian population) knew that there was no way that Japan could win this war. It was only a question of how many would die on both sides to prolong the inevitable. The land battle would be a taste of things to come, as determined Japanese resistance, practically to the last man (and suicide of thousands of Japanese civilians) would cost the U.S. Marines and Army 3,400 dead and missing, making Saipan the deadliest campaign of the Allied Pacific offensive to date.

As the two Japanese carriers struggled to stay afloat, their aircraft were already airborne and heading for the U.S. Fifth Fleet covering the landings at Saipan. In four raids from the nine carriers, 326 Japanese carrier aircraft threw themselves at the 15 carriers (seven fleet and eight light carriers) and seven fast battleships of Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's Task Force 58, running into a buzz saw of 450 Hellcat fighters. With the aid of early tactical warning from radio intelligence detachments, and radar-directed intercepts controlled by fighter direction officers in new combat information centers (CIC), the overwhelming numbers of technologically superior Hellcats, flown by much better trained pilots, cut the Japanese formations to ribbons. About 224 of the 326 inbound strikers (the largest Japanese carrier raid of the war since Pearl Harbor) fell to the guns of fighter aces like David McCampbell and Alex Vraciu, along with others who became "ace-in-a-day."

The great majority of the enemy pilots were hastily and inadequately trained rookies, poor replacements for the extraordinarily capable, but irreplaceable, pilots of Japanese naval aviation lost in the battles earlier in the war. The relative ease with which the Japanese planes, especially the bombers, could be brought down, earned the action the name "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," which, however, doesn't do justice to a few of the Japanese pilots who took some Hellcats with them.

However, also in a portent of things to come, and despite staggering losses, the Japanese aircraft that survived the fighter gauntlet kept coming. The inexperienced pilots expended themselves in futile attacks against the heavily armed and armored U.S. battleship force. For their sacrifice they achieved a few dents. Still, a handful of aircraft made it through to the U.S. carriers, but the aim of their bombs did not match their courage. These pilots still wanted to live, so damage was light. This would change in several months as desperation set in amongst the Japanese.

Late on the next day, the pilots and aircrews of TF 58 would prove their courage to be as great as the Japanese, as 226 planes launched on an extreme-range twilight strike at the remaining Japanese force. They knew that many would not have the fuel to make it a round trip and those that did would have to recover at night, for which almost none of them had trained. The results of the valiant strike were viewed as a disappointment for a number of reasons; one more Japanese carrier would be sunk (Hiyo) and four damaged. However, by the end of that day, Ozawa still had six carriers, but only 35 operational aircraft. The epic "flight beyond darkness" of the U.S. carrier aircraft culminated in Mitscher's bold action to risk his carriers and "turn on the lights," which saved many aviators from going into the water, although 86 planes still did. Fortunately, a massive search effort saved the great majority of those who didn't make it back to their carriers.

The Battle of the Philippine Sea was a catastrophic defeat for the Japanese navy, with the loss of three fleet carriers and about 476 aircraft destroyed in the air and on the ground (including scouts and land-based naval aviation), and about 3,000 dead, in exchange for 42 U.S. Navy aircraft lost in combat (about 123 total from all causes) and 109 pilots, aircrew, and ship's crew, an even more lopsided victory than the Battle of Midway. That didn't stop the recriminations on the U.S. side regarding Fifth Fleet commander Admiral Raymond Spruance's controversial decision to keep the carriers of TF 58 on a short tether to ensure the protection of the all-important landings on Saipan, rather than unleashing the carriers to roam in search of the enemy. Adherents of either position will find plenty of ammunition in attachment H-032-1.

I regret this H-gram came out a few days later than intended, but I was overwhelmed by the research for two massive amphibious invasions on opposite sides of the globe only a few days apart (Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy, and Operation Forager, the invasion of the Marianas). That the Unites States could pull off two such operations so close together, one of them across an expanse of thousands of miles, is a story in itself.

"Back issues" of H-grams, enhanced with photos and charts, can be found here, along with other interesting history on the NHHC website. As always, further dissemination is welcome, especially to the Fleet, so that our Sailors and commanders can better understand the legacy of valor that is their charge to uphold.

A VF-1 "Top Hatters" 


F6F-3 Hellcat fighter is launched from USS Yorktown (CV-10) to intercept enemy forces during the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", 19 June 1944. Note the target information board being displayed in front of the carrier's island beyond the aircraft's propeller (80-G-248440).
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Thanks to Glen

this ain't exactly what Hoser would have appreciated??..........


Meet The F6F Hellcat


DARPA announces AlphaDogfight Trials with simulated, AI-controlled, autonomous aircraft

By Sara Sirota

July 1, 2019

The Pentagon is hosting a demonstration of simulated, close-range combat exercises featuring autonomous aircraft controlled by artificial intelligence, as part of a larger effort to increase warfighters' trust in machines.

The AlphaDogfight Trials are intended to expand the base of potential algorithm developers for the Air Combat Evolution program, a new initiative of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to a June 28 notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities. The demonstration will be hosted by DARPA's Strategic Technology Office and supported by AFWERX.

A request for proposals will be posted in early July by the Autonomy Research Collaboration Network Consortium, a new partnership between industry, academia and the government intended to advance technology development for the Air Force.

During the AlphaDogfight Trials, participants will develop algorithms designed to control an autonomous aircraft capable of executing a series of maneuvers and defeating another autonomous aircraft in a within-visual-range engagement. The dogfights are set to occur in a simulation environment only.

The AlphaDogfightTrials will consist of three events of increasing complexity over a 24-week period. Participation in the AlphaDogfight Trials does not guarantee inclusion in the ACE program and is not mandatory for eligibility in the latter.

A broad agency announcement posted on Federal Business Opportunities in June describes the goals of ACE, stating it "will increase warfighter trust in combat autonomy by automating aerial within-visual-range (WVR) maneuvering, colloquially known as a dogfight, using progressively realistic platforms."

Starting with demonstrations in modeling and simulation, ACE will progress to small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles and then operationally representative aircraft. The idea is to help transition AI to operational use on the battlefield.

According to the BAA, three phases are expected to occur through fiscal year 2023, and multiple awards with a total value of up to $64 million will be made.

The program reflects DARPA's mosaic warfare concept, characterized as "an approach to combined arms maneuver, wherein capabilities traditionally provided to close a monolithic kill chain dependent upon a single, eminently capable platform are instead provided by a heterogeneous set of manned and unmanned systems," the BAA states.

"In the Mosaic Warfare vision, humans are expected to fight in close collaboration with autonomous weapon systems in complex environments (such as those described by coupled, nonlinear, heterogeneous, and adaptable agents) with tactics informed by artificial intelligence (AI)," the notice continues.

This involves a shift in a pilot's role from "sole operator to mosaic system mission commander" -- a progression that ACE aims to help facilitate by improving trust and creating a "hierarchical framework for autonomy."

According to this framework, "higher-level cognitive functions (e.g. developing an overall engagement strategy, selecting and prioritizing targets, determining best weapon or effect, etc.) may be performed by the human, but lower-level autonomy (i.e. details of aircraft maneuver and engagement tactics) is left to the autonomous system."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein spoke about the service's move toward human-machine teaming in kill chains at a Mitchell Institute event last week.

"We want to work towards continuing our experimentation where a space asset cues [an intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] asset, which cues a [command and control] asset, which cues a shooter from a list of options, and the first human in that kill chain is the shooter that decides yes or no," he said.

The Air Force is known to be experimenting with AI integration on aerial vehicles, such as with the Skyborg program -- intended as an autonomous wingman platform for fighter aircraft -- that Air Combat Command chief Gen. James Holmes said will "lead the way" for AI and machine learning.

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Some news from around the world

USA—Partner Nations To Replace U.S. Troops In Syria, Envoy Says Defense One | 07/02/2019 Troops from other nations in the counter-ISIS coalition will replace U.S. troops as they depart Syria, the top American envoy to Syria told Defense One in an interview on June 28. The unidentified nations will announce the deployments in the coming weeks, although Amb. Jim Jeffrey noted that some nations might not publicize their deployments. The ambassador also said that there had been some progress on the Geneva peace process for Syria a day after the acting ambassador to the U.N. said the process had failed. Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council last week that it was time to end the effort. However, the next day it was reported that Syria had agreed to the final six members of the constitutional committee under the Geneva peace process. The committee consists of 50 representatives each from the Syrian regime, opposition and civil society, with the goal of re-orienting the conflict away from a military solution, said Jeffrey. The ambassador expressed optimism that a ceremony standing up the committee could take place this year.

USA—Navy Considers New Missile Launchers, Radar Upgrade For Destroyers Defense News | 07/02/2019 The U.S. Navy is considering installing larger vertical launch cells and a variant of the AN/SPY-6 radar on its Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, reports Defense News. The larger launch cells would allow the destroyers to accommodate future hypersonic weapons. The larger cells would also be able to carry multiples of other missiles in cells where hypersonic weapons are not needed. The larger vertical launch cells are also planned for the future large surface combatant currently being designed to replace its aging Ticonderoga-class cruisers. In addition, the Navy is considering refitting older destroyers with a scaled-down version of the AN/SPY-6 radar that is being installed on the latest Flight III ships. The smaller array would consist of 24 radar modular assemblies, compared to 37 being installed on the Flight III vessels now under construction. The upgraded radar would increase performance against faster and more dynamic missile threats and reduce maintenance requirements, officials said.

USA—Air Force Stands Up New Osprey Squadron In Japan Stars And Stripes | 07/02/2019 The U.S. Air Force has activated a new special operations squadron to operate CV-22 Osprey tiltrotors at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, reports the Stars and Stripes. The 21st Special Operations Squadron is currently equipped with five Ospreys, with plans calling for it to receive another five of the tiltrotors. During the ceremony, the service also activated the 753rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron to maintain the aircraft. The Ospreys have operated as part of the 353rd Special Operations Group in Okinawa since arriving at Yokota in October 2018, two years ahead of schedule.

USA—Trump Complains About Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Calling It Unfair NHK | 07/02/2019 President Donald Trump says the longstanding security treaty with Japan needs to change, complaining that it is unfair to the U.S., reports NHK, Japan's national broadcaster. The president emphasized that the treaty obligates the U.S. to defend Japan should it be attacked but does not obligate Japan to do the same for the U.S. when speaking to reporters on Saturday in Osaka at the end of the G20 summit. Trump denied that he was considering withdrawing from the treaty, noted the Asahi Shimbun. Trump is believed to be attempting to use tough talk on the security treaty to gain concessions on other issues such as trade and defense purchases, said one Japanese Defense Ministry official. Japanese officials also noted that Trump had never officially informed Tokyo of his dissatisfaction with the pact. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also declared his intent in a debate on June 30 to push forward with a reinterpretation of Japan's pacifist constitution to allow the Self-Defense Forces to defend allies when attacked. Such a change could help assuage the concerns raised by President Trump.

Germany—Defense Spending Anticipated to Decline Through 2023 Despite Government Pledge Sputnik | 07/02/2019 German defense spending could fall from 1.37 percent of gross domestic product in 2020 to 1.24 percent of GDP in 2023, according to defense ministry estimates cited by Russia's Sputnik news agency. The German Parliament recently passed a budget bill for the next year, which includes financial planning until 2023, reported the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. The bill provides 44.9 billion euros (US$51 billion) for defense in 2020, with spending to decline from 44.1 billion euros (US$50.1 billion) to 43.9 billion euros (US$49.9 billion) beginning in 2021. A defense ministry analysis said that the spending plans for 2020 are short of what's needed by 6 billion euros (US$6.8 billion). The shortfall is expected to reach 10 billion euros (US$11.46 billion) in 2021, 13 billion euros (US$14.8 billion) in 2022 and 14 billion euros (US$16.4 billion) in 2023. The ministry said the shortfall would primarily effect NATO projects, which would be unable to be realized on schedule if at all. The budget is in contrast to previously announced plans to boost the defense budget to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2024.

China—Beijing Tests Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles In S. China Sea Nbc News | 07/02/2019 U.S. officials say China has conducted a series of anti-ship ballistic missile tests in the South China Sea, reports NBC News. The Chinese Maritime Safety Administration closed the area around Woody Island, part of the disputed Paracel Island chain, for military drills from Saturday to Wednesday, reported the South China Morning Post. At least one anti-ship missile was launched over the weekend, said a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak publicly. Further tests are expected, the official said. No U.S. ships were in the area at the time but the tests are concerning, said the official.

Burma—Cease-Fire In North Extended Through August Irrawaddy | 07/02/2019 The Burmese military is extending a unilateral cease-fire in two of the country's northern states, reports the Irrawaddy (Burma). On Monday, the military announced the extension of the truce in the Northern, Northeastern, Eastern, Central Eastern and Triangle commands in Kachin and Shan states until Aug. 31. The decision is intended to encourage peace talks with rebel groups that have not signed on to the Nationwide Cease-Fire Agreement, said the military. There has been significant less fighting since the cease-fire was first announced in December, said a military spokesman. The military hopes to reach agreements with remaining militant groups by 2020. The truce does not include the western Rakhine state, where the armed forces say troops continue to fight ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya groups. Several armed groups have called on the military to extend the cease-fire across the country, including Rakhine state.

Australia—Naval Construction Program Remains On Track, Defense Minister Says Australian Dept. Of Defense | 07/02/2019 Defense Minister Linda Reynolds says that the construction of shipyard infrastructure at the Osborne Naval Precinct in South Australia remains on schedule, reports the Australian Dept. of Defense. Shipyard upgrades at Osborne are on track to be completed next year, prior to the start of production of new Hunter-class frigates, which will be based on the British Type 26 design. Reynolds toured the shipyard along with Defense Industry Minister Melissa Price on June 27. Work at Osborne on Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels and the third Hobart-class air warfare destroyer, Sydney, also remains on track, Price said.

Iraq—Iran-Backed Militias To Join Armed Forces Or Disarm, Says Prime Minister Iraqi News | 07/02/2019 The Iraqi government has moved to curb the power and independence of Iranian-backed militias, reports the Iraqi News. On Monday, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi issued a decree declaring the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to be an indivisible part of the armed forces. As of July 31, PMF units will be subject to the same rules, restrictions and codes of conduct imposed on regular military units, reported the Rudaw (Iraqi Kurdistan). Groups that elect to join the armed forces must relinquish their old names and cut ties with political groups, reported Reuters. Those who choose politics will not be permitted to carry arms, according to the decree. Headquarters, economic offices and checkpoints held by the militias are to be closed down. Groups that do not abide by the new regulations will be considered illegitimate. The move follows several attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq. There were no claims of responsibility, but Iranian-backed groups were suspected. The PMF won support in Iraq during the fight against ISIS, in which they played a key supporting role. Concerns have arisen, particularly in the U.S., over Iranian support for the militants and operations outside legitimate structures.

Saudi Arabia—9 Injured As Houthis Again Strike Abha Airport The National | 07/02/2019 Nine people have been injured in another Houthi drone attack on an airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia, reports the National (Abu Dhabi). Early Tuesday, a Houthi-piloted unmanned air vehicle struck the Abha International Airport, reported the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Eight Saudi citizens and an Indian, all civilians, were injured in the attack. A Houthi spokesman said the attack targeted a military hangar near the airport, reported the Houthi-run Al Masirah television network . The airport has since resumed flights, reported Al Arabiya (Dubai). Houthis have repeatedly targeted Abha, including a June 23 attack that killed one and injured 23.

Syria—U.S. Strikes Al-Qaida Fighters In Aleppo U.S. Central Command | 07/02/2019 U.S. Central Command says it has attacked an Al-Qaida training camp in northwestern Syria. On Sunday, U.S. forces hit a training facility near Aleppo province, said a CENTCOM release. The attacked targeted Al-Qaida in Syria terrorists responsible for planning external attacks, the command said. The strike in a western Aleppo suburb targeted a meeting of commanders from the Huras Al-Din group, a Syrian militant group affiliated with Al-Qaida, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Six commanders, including two Algerians, two Tunisians, an Egyptian and a Syrian, were killed in the strike along with two fighters. Fourteen militants were injured. Huras Al-Din confirmed the attack in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse. While it fights alongside Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a rebel group that controls much of Idlib province and is dominated by fighters from former Al-Qaida affiliate the Nusra Front, Huras Al-Din is believed to seek closer relations with Al-Qaida central.

Lebanon—2 Killed In Attack On Druze Minister's Convoy Jerusalem Post | 07/02/2019 Two aides were killed in an attack on the convoy of a Lebanese Druze minister known for his support of the Syrian government, reports the Jerusalem Post. The attack on Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib's convoy occurred in the territory of a rival Druze faction that opposes the Syrian regime. The minister called the attack an assassination attempt. The rival Druze Progressive Socialist Party said shooting only began after al-Gharib's guards "randomly" opened fire at a group of people who were blocking the road, reported Deutsche Welle. The attack took place amid heightened tensions in the area after an attempt by the foreign minister, a Maronite Christian, to visit it on Sunday. Protesters had blocked several roads to halt the visit. Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab announced that the army had deployed to the area in response to the tensions.

Sudan—Opposition Calls For New Protests, General Strike Sudan Tribune | 07/02/2019 The Sudanese opposition has called for a new wave of protests and a general strike to pressure the military government to cede power to a civilian-led authority, reports the Sudan Tribune (Paris). On Monday, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) issued two statements calling for the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to hand power to a civilian government and for a campaign of protests, culminating in a general strike on July 14. The announcement came a day after protests in Khartoum, the capital, and Sudan's second city of Omdurman were violently disrupted, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 181. Witnesses said that the Rapid Support Force (RSF), a paramilitary that is the successor to the notorious Janjaweed militia, was seen disposing of bodies following the crackdown. The TMC said that unknown attackers fired on the protesters. Sunday's demonstrations were the largest since a sit-in near the defense ministry was forcibly dispersed by the RSF on June 3, killing an estimated 130 people. Since the ouster of former President Omar Bashir in April, protesters have been demonstrating for a civilian-led government. The TMC maintains that the military is required to ensure stability during a three-year transition period. The military council continues to pursue a political strategy designed to build support among tribal and traditional leaders in opposition to the mostly urban demonstrators, noted the publication.

Sudan—Opposition Calls For New Protests, General Strike Sudan Tribune | 07/02/2019 The Sudanese opposition has called for a new wave of protests and a general strike to pressure the military government to cede power to a civilian-led authority, reports the Sudan Tribune (Paris). On Monday, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) issued two statements calling for the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to hand power to a civilian government and for a campaign of protests, culminating in a general strike on July 14. The announcement came a day after protests in Khartoum, the capital, and Sudan's second city of Omdurman were violently disrupted, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 181. Witnesses said that the Rapid Support Force (RSF), a paramilitary that is the successor to the notorious Janjaweed militia, was seen disposing of bodies following the crackdown. The TMC said that unknown attackers fired on the protesters. Sunday's demonstrations were the largest since a sit-in near the defense ministry was forcibly dispersed by the RSF on June 3, killing an estimated 130 people. Since the ouster of former President Omar Bashir in April, protesters have been demonstrating for a civilian-led government. The TMC maintains that the military is required to ensure stability during a three-year transition period. The military council continues to pursue a political strategy designed to build support among tribal and traditional leaders in opposition to the mostly urban demonstrators, noted the publication.

Niger—18 Soldiers Killed In Coordinated Assault On Military Camp Reuters | 07/02/2019 At least 18 Nigerien soldiers have been killed and four others are missing after a coordinated militant attack in western Niger, reports Reuters. On Monday, militants detonated two suicide car bombs at a military encampment near Inates, near the border with Mali, the army said in a statement. Gunmen on motorbikes then opened fire from nearby positions. Partner forces responded with airstrikes, which pushed the militants back across the border into Mali, said the army. The attackers left with about a dozen stolen vehicles, said a security source. The base near Inates is used to train Nigerien troops for U.N. peacekeeping operations in Mali, reported Agence France-Presse. Attacks have increased in frequency in the run up to Niger's hosting of the African Union summit on July 6.

Mali—23 Killed, 300 Missing In Latest Round Of Ethnic Violence Agence France-Presse | 07/02/2019 At least 23 people have been killed and 300 are missing following another bout of intercommunal violence in central Mali, reports Agence France-Presse. On Sunday, armed men attacked the Fulani villages of Bidi, Sankoro and Saran, said the mayor of a nearby village in the Mopti region. After raiding Saran, the militants attacked Bidi. The villagers had fled, so they burned the village and attacked cattle, reported Reuters. Dogon hunters were suspected of perpetrating the attack. The incident is the latest in a series of tit-for-tat attacks between members of the two ethnic groups fueled by land and resources disputes and accusations of supporting militant groups. Elsewhere in Mali, 12 civilians, including a baby, were killed when their vehicle hit a land mine, a local mayor said. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Groups linked to ISIS and Al-Qaida affiliate JNIM are known to use mines in the area.

Mexico—National Guard Officially Begins Duties El Pais | 07/02/2019 President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has inaugurated the new national guard, reports El Pais (Spain). The national guard was formally activated in a ceremony on Sunday at a military base in Mexico City, approximately six months after Obrador launched its creation. Guardsmen have been deployed to problem areas since May, noted Agence France-Presse. The security force is intended to combat growing violence in Mexico, strengthen border security and perform other civil and military tasks. The force will consist of former police and military personnel. As of Sunday, the national guard had a strength of 70,000, with plans to grow to 82,000 in the next six months and to reach an end strength of 150,000 by 2023. The national guard will initially be deployed to the most violent 150 regions in Mexico as well as the southern border. The force is expected to replace the Federal Police, which has come to be seen as corrupt and unreliable. The creation of the national guard has been criticized by some groups who argue its use for internal security will blur the role of the armed forces in society. There are also concerns about whether it will respect human rights.

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