Monday, February 24, 2020

The List 5222

The List 5222 TGB

To All,

I hope that you all have a great weekend.



This day in Naval History

Feb. 21

1942—USS Triton (SS 201) sinks Japanese merchant cargo vessel Shokyu Maru in the East China Sea, 60 miles south of Quelpart Island.

1944—SBDs and TBFs bomb anti-aircraft positions at Lakunai airfield and shore installations at Rabaul and sink Japanese guard boat No.2 Yawata Maru.

1945—Japanese kamikazes sink escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea (CVE 95) while off Iwo Jima with 318 men killed or wounded. USS Saratoga (CV 3) is struck by five kamikazes but survives, although 123 men are killed.

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).

1952—During the Korean War, USS Symbol (AM 123), is conducting a routine check sweep in the vicinity of Mayang-do in company with USS Murrelet (AM 372), when she observes four splashes from an estimated 75mm shore battery. The ships return fire, which silences the enemy guns.

2008 – The United States Navy shoots down USA 193, a spy satellite in a decaying orbit, over the Pacific Ocean. USA-193, also known as NRO launch 21 (NROL-21 or simply L-21), was an U.S. military spy satellite launched on December 14, 2006. It was the first launch conducted by the United Launch Alliance. Owned by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the craft’s precise function and purpose were classified. The satellite malfunctioned shortly after deployment, and was intentionally destroyed 14 months later by a modified, SM-3 missile fired from the warship USS Lake Erie, stationed west of Hawaii. The event highlighted growing distrust between the U.S. and China, and was viewed by some to be part of a wider “space race” involving the U.S., China, and Russia.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• Multiple outlets reported on the Navy’s FY 2021 Unfunded Priorities List.

• Multiple outlets report that the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group deployed earlier this week after completing its Composite Unit Training Exercise.

• Navy Times reported on new base access procedures developed in the wake of the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting that apply to all foreign nations.

• The United States and allies accused Russia’s military intelligence of a cyberattack against the republic of Georgia in October, multiple outlets report.

This Day In Naval History – February 21, 2018

Feb. 21

1942—USS Triton (SS 201) sinks Japanese merchant cargo vessel Shokyu Maru in the East China Sea, 60 miles south of Quelpart Island.

1944—SBDs and TBFs bomb anti-aircraft positions at Lakunai airfield and shore installations at Rabaul and sink Japanese guard boat No.2 Yawata Maru.

1944 - Marines with support of naval bombardment and carrier aircraft secure Eniwetok atoll

1945—Japanese kamikazes sink escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea (CVE 95) while off Iwo Jima with 318 men killed or wounded. USS Saratoga (CV 3) is struck by five kamikazes but survives, although 123 men are killed.

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).

1952—During the Korean War, USS Symbol (AM 123), is conducting a routine check sweep in the vicinity of Mayang-do in company with USS Murrelet (AM 372), when she observes four splashes from an estimated 75mm shore battery. The ships return fire, which silences the enemy guns.

Feb. 22

1909—The Great White Fleet returns to Hampton Roads, Va., following its 14-month round-the-world cruise.

1943—USS Iowa (BB 61), the lead ship of the last class of American fast battleships, is commissioned.

1944—U.S. Navy Task Group (TG) 39.4, commanded by Capt. Arleigh Burke, bombards Japanese airstrips, pier area, and anchorages at Kavieng, New Ireland Island, while DESRON 12 shells Rabaul.

1945—USS Becuna (SS 319) sinks Japanese merchant tanker Nichiyoku Maru off Cape Padaran Bay despite the presence of two escort vessels.

1974—Lt. j.g. Barbara Ann (Allen) Rainey becomes the first Navy-designated female aviator.

Feb. 23

1795—The U.S. Navy Office of Purveyor of Supplies is established.

1919—The first ship named for an enlisted man, USS Osmond Ingram (DD 255), is launched.

1944—In an overnight raid, Task Force 58 planes bomb the Japanese at Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam in the first raid of the Mariana Islands.

1945—Four days after landing on Iwo Jima, an invasion “where uncommon valor was a common virtue,” the United States flag is raised on Mt. Suribachi.

But there was still a lot of fighting and dying left to do

1916 Battle of Verdun begins »

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

This day in World History

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.


Later today we will have a celebration of life for Jim "Wick" Barwick, at the Miramar O'Club, at 1300

The words below are appropriate thanks to Ed Beakley from one of his Remembered Sky notes
Let me leave you with this from the friend of Jim Horsely and I, Michael Norman:

I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted their best, men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped raw, right down to their humanity.

I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate and the Military. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life.

They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another. I cannot say where we are headed. Ours are not perfect friendships; those are the province of legend and myth. A few of my comrades drift far from me now, sending back only occasional word. I know that one day even these could fall to silence. Some of the men will stay close, a couple, perhaps, always at hand.

As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades…..such good men.

Today we will think of Wick


Thanks to Clyde

: The Saufley Screamer w/photos

This is funny IMHO.

USN Flight Training in the 50s.

Occurred 1953 it says, but they still played it in the hanger at Saufley years later on bad weather days...

I think that everyone that took formation flying at NAS Saufley has heard of this story but I never heard the tapes until today. I could only hear a minute or so at time because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. When I went through Saufley, it was both formation and night flying. When it was time for the night syllabus I drew the night flying screamer, Delmanowski. One night he told me that most people that died night flying were victims of an accident. He told me that I didn’t fall into that category because I was doing everything possible to kill myself.

This is right up there with the “What the Captain really means” Classic from Vietnam

Screaming Formation Flight Instructor (1953 Naval Aviation Classic)

This has to be the greatest "practical joke" in the history of Naval Aviation. It involves the classic 1953 Saufley Field "screaming instructor" tape. Saufley, near Pensacola, was where formation flight instruction then occurred. The key characters were apparently WW ll veteran pilots bred in the pre-NATOPS environment far less encumbered by prohibitions than today. Their equipment (SNJ airplane) was also the WW ll "advanced" trainer.

In 1963 one of the pilots I worked with on a staff in San Diego asked me if I had ever heard the famous tape of the screaming flight instructor at Saufley Field in Pensacola. That tape was played for every class before they started their formation flight instruction. I said yes, I had heard the tape and that instructor had to be some kind of an irrational idiot. The name of the pilot I worked with was Monty Nichol and Monty told me that he was that instructor. I was amazed as Monty was a good staff safety officer and we became friends. Perhaps he mellowed out after this incident because I never detected any abrasiveness in him nor did I ever hear him scream.

Cdr. Bill Richards (Ret.)

The recording captures radio transmissions of a flight in which four instructor pilots replaced four (unsuspecting) student pilots who were dutifully heading to their airplanes for their formation flight check ride ("final exam" in formation flight). Lieutenant Nichol, their assigned check ride instructor, was renowned for his abrasiveness such as the way he screamed at his students on the radio. Thus his fellows singled him out for a little "life lesson."

On this occasion his fellow instructors drove him "nuts" while the proceedings were taped by the Saufley Field tower (note background laughter). It seems LT Nichol may have been the ONLY person in the Basic Naval Air Training Command NOT in on the joke, as his four fellow instructors royally screwed up everything imaginable. Note it takes LT Nichol only about 3 minutes to correctly diagnose his problem as hopeless and order the "students" back to base. That's when the "fun" begins and it takes over 15 minutes to get them back.

Legend maintains that LT Nichol, an officer of considerable administrative skill, later exacted retribution on the "ringleader" of this caper, a Marine major. In revenge, he created fake orders transferring the major to a west coast assignment, thus causing the major to put his house up for sale.

After listening, you'll realize this is a unique classic from a bygone era, which many younger Naval Aviators have never even heard about it. Maybe you'll want to pass it around.

It's in two parts since it's the entire flight and is therefore quite lengthy. (9 minutes each segment)


Thanks to Denny

MiGs attack Red Crown

This is from an old “Shoe” friend retired RADM Ray Witter. I was on Yankees Station probably the “off” CV on 19 July’72 and do not remember this. Really interesting.


Were you there on 19 July 1972 when the NVA’s Attacked RED CROWN

at PRIAZ? I had CG-34’s 48 Radar focused on KEP airfield and saw 5

MIGs take off ~Midnight. 3 headed down the river in a half diamond formation. They were at 1500 ft altitude. I had the fire control radar locked on and I fired two Terriers. One MIG immediately turned for Shore the other two were hit. Then I shifted the BIDDLE radars to Surface Search, locked on the lead MIGs in trail right on our port beam. I fired two Terriers, but they had already crossed the minimum range. They were at 75 ft altitude, I opened up with 5in 54, and 3in 50 rapid fire using VTSD warheads.

The lead MIG pulled up and flew right over the fantail. He was pulling over 3g’s so his bomb release racks were locked. The MIG in trail flew into the guns and exploded. I was credited with three shot down.

Several years later, the Director of Naval History in the Washington Navy Yard told me that the MIG that flew into the guns was the Senior Pilot in the NVA.

Warm Regards,



Another from Denny with a story of Iwo Jima

Navajo Code Talkers

Great message. There is no sound until you click on the face of the Navajo Code Talker.


And the Band played on Thanks to NHHC

On Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, bandleader Oden McMillan and his 23 musicians were in position on USS Nevada to play the “Star Spangled Banner” as they had done every morning. When the clock hit 8 a.m., McMillan struck up the band, and that is when they noticed something strange. As hundreds of planes began to appear over the horizon, the band thought at first it was just another exercise. Astern of USS Arizona, Nevada was a favorite target for the Japanese, which dropped bombs on Arizona and repeatedly strafed Nevada’s decks. Yet the band played on. The band finished the national anthem and then ran for cover. A scene in the classic World War II film Tora! Tora! Tora! immortalized the event. For more, read the article.

I remember this scene in the movie and it made an impression on me at the time. It was not in the new one.

On Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, bandleader Oden McMillan and his 23 musicians were in position on USS Nevada to play the “Star Spangled Banner” as they had done every morning. When the clock hit 8 a.m., McMillan struck up the band, and that is when they noticed something strange. As hundreds of planes began to appear over the horizon, the band thought at first it was just another exercise. Astern of USS Arizona, Nevada was a favorite target for the Japanese, which dropped bombs on Arizona and repeatedly strafed Nevada’s decks. Yet the band played on. The band finished the national anthem and then ran for cover. A scene in the classic World War II film Tora! Tora! Tora! immortalized the event. For more, read the article.


Another from NHHC
Graveyard Ceremony Commemorates Russia’s Role during the Civil War

Just down the road from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, is the grave of Nikolay Demidoff, a Russian Sailor who died on U.S. soil more than 150 years ago. Recently, a contingent from the Embassy of the Russian Federation and other Russian citizens gathered near Demidoff’s grave to commemorate an incident that occurred when Russia and Washington were the closest of allies. During the American Civil War in 1864, most of Europe—though sympathetic to the Confederacy—vowed neutrality. France and Great Britain, however, relied on cotton from the South, and there were fears they would support the rebels with their militaries. Demidoff was in the United States with two squadrons dispatched to demonstrate Russia’s support for the Union. On Jan. 29, 1864, steam corvette Variag and steam clipper Almaz sailed up the Severn River and dropped anchor near the academy. To learn what happened next, read the article at USNI News.


Thanks to Rob….No comment

The Navy has punished several sailors who wore patches bearing President Trump's likeness that read "Make Aircrew Great Again" on their uniforms while attending his May 2019 speech aboard a ship in Japan, according to an official.


Note all from Iwo Jima

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division. Place and date: On Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 and 21 February 1945. Entered service at: Illinois. Born: 19 October 1920, Abingdon, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 20 and 21 February, 1945. Defying uninterrupted blasts of Japanese artillery, mortar, rifle and machinegun fire, Capt. Dunlap led his troops in a determined advance from low ground uphill toward the steep cliffs from which the enemy poured a devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets, steadily inching forward until the tremendous volume of enemy fire from the caves located high to his front temporarily halted his progress. Determined not to yield, he crawled alone approximately 200 yards forward of his front lines, took observation at the base of the cliff 50 yards from Japanese lines, located the enemy gun positions and returned to his own lines where he relayed the vital information to supporting artillery and naval gunfire units. Persistently disregarding his own personal safety, he then placed himself in an exposed vantage point to direct more accurately the supporting fire and, working without respite for 2 days and 2 nights under constant enemy fire, skillfully directed a smashing bombardment against the almost impregnable Japanese positions despite numerous obstacles and heavy marine casualties. A brilliant leader, Capt. Dunlap inspired his men to heroic efforts during this critical phase of the battle and by his cool decision, indomitable fighting spirit, and daring tactics in the face of fanatic opposition greatly accelerated the final decisive defeat of Japanese countermeasures in his sector and materially furthered the continued advance of his company. His great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice throughout the bitter hostilities reflect the highest credit upon Capt. Dunlap and the U.S. Naval Service.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: August 1920, Marvel Valley, Ala. Accredited to: Alabama. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Platoon Sergeant attached to Company A, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 21 February 1945. Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation when his platoon was held up by a sudden barrage of hostile grenades while advancing toward the high ground northeast of Airfield No. 1, Sgt. Gray promptly organized the withdrawal of his men from enemy grenade range, quickly moved forward alone to reconnoiter and discovered a heavily mined area extending along the front of a strong network of emplacements joined by covered trenches. Although assailed by furious gunfire, he cleared a path leading through the minefield to one of the fortifications, then returned to the platoon position and, informing his leader of the serious situation, volunteered to initiate an attack under cover of 3 fellow marines. Alone and unarmed but carrying a huge satchel charge, he crept up on the Japanese emplacement, boldly hurled the short-fused explosive and sealed the entrance. Instantly taken under machinegun fire from a second entrance to the same position, he unhesitatingly braved the increasingly vicious fusillades to crawl back for another charge, returned to his objective and blasted the second opening, thereby demolishing the position. Repeatedly covering the ground between the savagely defended enemy fortifications and his platoon area, he systematically approached, attacked and withdrew under blanketing fire to destroy a total of 6 Japanese positions, more than 25 troops and a quantity of vital ordnance gear and ammunition. Stouthearted and indomitable, Sgt. Gray had single-handedly overcome a strong enemy garrison and had completely disarmed a large minefield before finally rejoining his unit. By his great personal valor, daring tactics and tenacious perseverance in the face of extreme peril, he had contributed materially to the fulfillment of his company mission. His gallant conduct throughout enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division. Place and date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 21 February 1945. Entered service at: Illinois. Born: 10 August 1911, Chicago, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of a rifle company attached to the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 21 February 1945. Determined to break through the enemy’s cross-island defenses, Capt. McCarthy acted on his own initiative when his company advance was held up by uninterrupted Japanese rifle, machinegun, and high-velocity 47mm. fire during the approach to Motoyama Airfield No. 2. Quickly organizing a demolitions and flamethrower team to accompany his picked rifle squad, he fearlessly led the way across 75 yards of fire-swept ground, charged a heavily fortified pillbox on the ridge of the front and, personally hurling hand grenades into the emplacement as he directed the combined operations of his small assault group, completely destroyed the hostile installation. Spotting 2 Japanese soldiers attempting an escape from the shattered pillbox, he boldly stood upright in full view of the enemy and dispatched both troops before advancing to a second emplacement under greatly intensified fire and then blasted the strong fortifications with a well-planned demolitions attack. Subsequently entering the ruins, he found a Japanese taking aim at 1 of our men and, with alert presence of mind, jumped the enemy, disarmed and shot him with his own weapon. Then, intent on smashing through the narrow breach, he rallied the remainder of his company and pressed a full attack with furious aggressiveness until he had neutralized all resistance and captured the ridge. An inspiring leader and indomitable fighter, Capt. McCarthy consistently disregarded all personal danger during the fierce conflict and, by his brilliant professional skill, daring tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, contributed materially to the success of his division’s operations against this savagely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His cool decision and outstanding valor reflect the highest credit upon Capt. McCarthy and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


Daily news thanks to Military Periscope

USA—Network Security Agency Reports Breach Reuters | 02/21/2020 The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) says some personal data within its networks may have been compromised, reports Reuters. Between May 2019 and June 2019, personal data on a DISA system may have been compromised, according to a Feb. 11 letter that the agency sent to those potentially affected. The information exposed included names and social security numbers, reported BBC News. DISA maintains secure communications networks for the national security community, including the president, Secret Service and high-level military commanders at home and abroad. The letter did not indicate what parts of the network were breached or who might have been affected. It was unclear if the network was actively penetrated by a hacker or inadvertently exposed. There have been no reports of misused data arising from the leak.

USA—Pentagon Orders 6 More Presidential Helicopters Dept. Of Defense | 02/21/2020 The Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Sikorsky a contract modification for additional presidential helicopters, reports the Dept. of Defense. The $470.8 million deal covers six low-rate initial production Lot II VH-92A helicopters, associated interior modification kits and interim contractor support. Work under the contract is scheduled to be completed in December 2022. The award is a follow-on to a $542 million contract let in June 2019 for an initial six VH-92As, reported United Press International. Work under that deal is slated to conclude by April 2022. The U.S. Navy expects to purchase 23 VH-92As to replace 19 VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns currently in service with Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1).

USA—Sikorsky, Boeing Show Off Defiant Chopper To Army Secretary Breaking Defense | 02/21/2020 Boeing and Sikorsky say they their SB>1 Defiant high-speed helicopter is demonstrating increasing maturity despite minimal flight hours, reports Breaking Defense. On Thursday, the companies touted extensive ground and component testing during a visit by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to Sikorsky’s flight test center in Florida. The Defiant prototype has currently completed 24 hours of testing, including 13 hours on the ground and 11 in the air. The latter have demonstrated the Defiant's ability to fly backwards, sideways, bank at a 45-degree angle and reach speeds of 130 knots (240 kph). The aircraft is expected to demonstrate its top speed in a few months. The Army has set a requirement for a maximum speed of at least 280 knots (520 kph). The prototype has been flying about once a week since the start of 2020, officials said. The company says it has reduced the risk of surprises during flight tests through extensive testing with its Propulsion System Test Bed, a nearly complete Defiant prototype that is bolted to the ground. The test bed has currently completed more than 90 hours of testing, in addition to another 400 hours of wind-tunnel testing with subscale models. Another 7,000 hours of component-level ground tests have also been completed. The Defiant is more than a year behind its competitor, the Bell Helicopter V-280 Valor, in terms of overall testing due to difficulties in manufacturing the helicopter’s rotors and the need to replace a gearbox bearing. Boeing and Sikorsky are due to deliver a final report on the Defiant to the Army in September.

USA—Sikorsky Launches Production Of Raider X Prototype Ahead Of Army Selection Decision Defense News | 02/21/2020 Sikorsky officials say they have begun building a prototype of the Raider X helicopter for the Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, reports Defense News. The project is intended to fill a capability gap following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter. The Army awarded contracts to five teams under the FARA program, including funding to build aircraft. The service plans to select two teams to move forward with the construction of prototypes in March. Those teams that are not selected for the next phase will no longer receive funding. Sikorsky officials appeared confident that the Raider X would move forward, noting that years of investment in X2 technology and the S-97 Raider prototype had demonstrated the capabilities of the system. The Raider X was unveiled in October of last year as Sikorsky’s FARA submission. It is an upscaled variant of the S-97 Raider. The program anticipates the prototypes entering flight testing in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, with trials to run through 2023. The engineering and manufacturing development phase is slated to follow in fiscal 2024.

Norway—Government Rejects Russian Allegations That It Violated Svalbard Agreement Reuters | 02/21/2020 Norwegian officials have denied Russian accusations that it has violated a treaty regulating activities in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, reports Reuters. On Feb. 4, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent a letter to his Norwegian counterpart, Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide, urging Oslo to lift restrictions on Russian activities in area, reported the Tass news agency (Moscow). On Friday, Norwegian officials denied there were any such restrictions. Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jense told public broadcaster NRK that the territory was Norwegian, while adding that all parties who agreed to the treaty are being treated equally. Under the 1920 agreement, Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard but all citizens of its signatory countries have the right to settle and conduct business there. Russian Foreign Ministry officials say they do not dispute Norway's sovereignty but believe that Oslo is placing restrictions on Russian commercial endeavors, including unnecessarily wide conservation areas

Japan—Another Round Of Trade Talks With S. Korea Set For March 10 NHK | 02/21/2020 The Japanese government says it will hold talks next month to break the trade and diplomatic impasse with South Korea, reports national broadcaster NHK News (Tokyo). The discussions will be held in Seoul on March 10, the government confirmed on Friday. The South Korean Trade Ministry confirmed the planned talks, report the Yonhap news agency (Seoul). Negotiations in December, the first since 2016, ended without an agreement. Relations have been strained since Japan imposed tighter restrictions on South Korea for the export of certain materials needed to build semiconductors and flexible displays. Seoul says the trade move was a response to Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese companies to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule. The move led South Korea to threaten the cancellation of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), an intelligence-sharing agreement.

Australia—RAAF Tindal In Line For Expansion Australian Broadcasting Corporation | 02/21/2020 The Australian government has announced that it will spend Aus$1.1 billion (US$725.9 million) to upgrade and expand RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp. On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the project during a visit to nearby Katherine. About Aus$737 million (US$486 million) will be used to extend the base's runway and construct new fuel storage facilities to accommodate larger aircraft, including American bombers and Australian aerial tankers. Another Aus$437 million (US$301.5 million) will cover critical infrastructure, including power, water and sewage, as well as 108 housing units for Australian military personnel, reported Australian Aviation. RAAF Base Tindal, strategically located to provide access to the Indo-Pacific region, will be home to some of the air force's 72 F-35 fighter jets. The upgrade "will be integral to our alliance with the United States and increase the reach of air force capabilities in the Indo-Pacific," said Morrison. The prime minister emphasized that the move was not aimed at China, reported Reuters. The project is expected to conclude by the end of 2027.

Malaysia—Attorney General Drops Charges Against Suspected LTTE Supporters Straits Times | 02/21/2020 Malaysia's attorney general has dropped charges against 12 suspected supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers, reports the Straits Times (Singapore). In October, counterterror police arrested suspected supporters of the Sri Lankan militant group, the Star (Kuala Lumpur) reported at the time. These included a man who plotted attacks against Sri Lankan officials visiting Malaysia and members of the Democratic Action Party (DAP). On Friday, Attorney General Tommy Thomas said that it was not in the country's interest to prosecute the suspects at this time, despite evidence that indicated at least six of the suspects were likely guilty. Too much time had passed since the crimes were committed in 2014, Thomas said. There was also insufficient evidence to ensure a "realistic prospect of conviction," he said, as quoted by the Malay Mail. Prosecutors had gathered evidence that included details of large money transfers between the suspects and LTTE fundraisers, as well LTTE propaganda in the suspects' possession. The decision could impact future efforts to prosecute suspected terrorists, security analysts told the Times.

Vietnam—ASEAN Defense Ministers Discuss COVID-19 Outbreak In Hanoi Singapore Ministry Of Defense | 02/21/2020 Defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have been meeting in Hanoi, reports the Singapore Ministry of Defense. During talks on Thursday, the ministers discussed regional and global security issues, as well as the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The ministers adopted a Joint Statement on Defense Cooperation Against Disease Outbreaks, which was co-sponsored by Singapore and Vietnam. During an informal meeting with Australian representatives, Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds shared her views on regional security challenges and reaffirmed Canberra’s commitment to working with ASEAN. Also on Thursday, a special meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers was held in the Laotian capital of Vientiane to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak, reported Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency. During the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi provided an update on China’s efforts to combat the outbreak and provided a four-point proposal to strengthen regional cooperation against the virus.

Iran—Parliamentary Elections Expected To Boost Hardliners Al Jazeera | 02/21/2020 Iran is holding parliamentary elections that are expected to boost the conservative leadership, reports Al Jazeera (Qatar). On Friday, polls opened for voters to elect representatives to the country's 290-member Parliament and choose replacements for the seven deceased members of the Assembly of Experts, which appoints the supreme leader. Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei urged citizens to vote amid fears of a low turnout, which could dent the credibility of the vote. Critics of the regime have urged a boycott after thousands of potential reformist candidates were blocked from running, reported BBC News. High turnout could grant legitimacy to the government's current approach, while a significant boycott would signal discontent. The legislature has limited power, but gains by hardliners could weaken pragmatic efforts to strengthen economic engagement with the West. It might also position conservative factions to win the next presidential election in 2021, noted Reuters. The day before the vote, the U.S. announced sanctions on five members of the Guardian Council, which vets the candidates, on allegations of impeding free and fair elections, reported the Guardian (U.K.).

Syria—2 Turkish Soldiers Killed In Airstrikes Amid Heavy Fighting In Idlib Anadolu News Agency | 02/21/2020 At least two Turkish soldiers have been killed in an airstrike on their outpost in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, reports the Anadolu Agency (Ankara). Five soldiers were wounded in Thursday's attack, said the Turkish Ministry of Defense. Fifty regime soldiers were neutralized and five tanks, two armored vehicles, two armed trucks and a howitzer were destroyed in reprisal attacks, the ministry said. The Turkish government uses the term neutralized to indicate enemies who were killed, injured or captured. A Turkish government spokesman blamed the Syrian regime for the deaths of the soldiers. The strike came hours after Turkish and allied Syrian fighters attacked the village of Nayrab, near the city of Idlib, in an effort to drive off regime forces, reported the Financial Times (U.K.). Moscow said its forces responded to a series of "large-scale attacks" on Nayrab, destroying a tank, six infantry fighting vehicles and five armed trucks belonging to "terrorist groups" linked to Ankara. Several Su-24 attack aircraft conducted strikes in support of Syrian units under attack by “terrorist armed formations,” according to a release from the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria.

Israel—Netanyahu Approves More Housing Units In Jerusalem Times of Israel | 02/21/2020 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lifted a construction freeze on a new settlement in East Jerusalem that would cut off several Palestinian communities from the West Bank, reports the Times of Israel. On Thursday, Netanyahu announced that he had lifted restrictions for the Givat Hamatos neighborhood. The prime minister had frozen construction after its proposal in 2012 under international pressure. This appeared to be the first time that Netanyahu had acknowledged freezing the plan. Planning for the neighborhood began in 2012 and approval was granted in 2016. The location of the housing blocks would cut off the Palestinian communities of Beit Safafa and Sharfat from the West Bank. Critics have warned that construction of the community would likely end any chance of a two-state solution that adheres to Israel's pre-1967 borders. The announcement appears to be tied to the upcoming Israeli elections, which are scheduled for March 2.

Libya—Haftar Says Cease-Fire Conditional On Turkish Withdrawal Russia Today | 02/21/2020 Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar says he will agree to a cease-fire if Turkish forces and allied Syrian militia members withdraw, reports Russia's RT. In an interview with RIA Novosti, Haftar said that the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and its Turkish backers had exploited a recent truce to deploy troops around the city. Terrorist groups must also be eliminated and Turkish weapon shipments stopped, he said, as reported by Bloomberg News. GNA officials have accused Haftar's forces of numerous cease-fire violations, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey and entered force on Jan. 12. The Tripoli-based government broke off talks with Haftar in Geneva on Tuesday after strikes on the capital, Al Jazeera (Qatar) reported at the time. Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), an umbrella of armed groups based in the east, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli last year.

Morocco—Navy Begins Ops With New Maritime Patrol Aircraft Defence Web | 02/21/2020 The Moroccan navy has begun operations with two recently delivered maritime patrol aircraft, reports Defence Web (South Africa). Italian defense firm Leonardo announced on Feb. 17 that two King Air 350ER patrol aircraft had entered service with an unidentified African navy. Morocco ordered the two aircraft in July 2016. The planes arrived in France for conversion work in 2018. The maritime patrol configuration includes Leonardo’s Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance (ATOS) system, Seaspray 7300 radar, identification-friend-or-foe system, Link 11 data link, EOST-23 electro-optical sensor, ventral fins and bubble observation windows.

Kenya—Al-Shabaab Ambushes Bus Near Somali Border Shabelle Media Network | 02/21/2020 Al-Shabaab militants have attacked a bus leaving the city of Mandera along the Kenyan border with Somalia, reports the Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu). On Wednesday, at least 10 gunmen opened fire on a bus traveling to Nairobi that was carrying at least 60 people, shooting out the tires and spraying the passengers with gunfire. The surviving passengers fled into the bush, where locals helped them hide. At least three passengers were wounded in the attack. The bus driver, who was wounded during the encounter, is believed to have survived but was missing immediately after the ambush. The bus did not have a police or army escort. Following the attack, the Kenyan government ordered that all buses traveling in northeastern Kenya must have a police escort, reported the Daily Nation (Nairobi).

South Sudan—Deal Reached For Unity Government Sudan Tribune | 02/21/2020 South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have agreed to form a coalition government, reports the Sudan Tribune (Paris). Under the agreement, Machar would be sworn in as first vice president in on Friday. The Revitalized Transitional National Unity Government would be officially established on Saturday, the last day the parties had to form a unity government under the Entebbe agreement reached in September 2018. As part of the deal, Machar and Kiir compromised on an effort to reduce the current number of states from 32 to 10, reported Agence France-Presse. Under the agreement, South Sudan will have 10 regional states in addition to three administrative areas: Pibor, Ruweng and Abyei. All three have been the site of ethnic violence, while Abyei is a border zone rich in oil whose ownership is disputed by Sudan.

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