Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The List 5224


The List 5224 TGB



To All,

I hope that your week has started well.

Regards,

Skip

This Day in Naval History

Feb. 25

§ 1861—The sloop of war Saratoga of the U.S. African Squadron captures the slaver sloop Express.

§ 1917—Marines and a naval landing force from USS Connecticut (BB 18), USS Michigan (BB 27), and USS South Carolina (BB 26) move into Guantanamo City, Cuba to protect American citizens during the sugar revolt.

§ 1933—USS Ranger (CV 4), the US Navy’s first true aircraft carrier, is launched.

§ 1944— USS Hoe (SS 258) attacks a Japanese convoy at the mouth of Davao Gulf, sinking the fleet tanker Nissho Maru and damaging the fleet tanker Kyokuto Maru, while USS Rasher (SS 269) sinks Japanese army cargo ship Ryusei Maru and freighter Tango Maru off the north coast of Bali.

§ 1991—During Operation Desert Storm, USS Wisconsin (BB 64) and USS Missouri (BB 63) provide naval gunfire support and other operations.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• Multiple outlets reported on the Navy’s response to the coronavirus in the Pacific.

• Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters that the United States and South Korea may scale back joint exercises due to the spread of coronavirus.

• USS Ross transited the Bosporus Strait on Sunday, the first U.S. Navy vessel to visit the Black Sea in 2020, reports USNI News.

Today in History: February 25.

1570 Pope Pius V issues the bull Regnans in Excelsis which excommunicates Queen Elizabeth of England.

· 1601 Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex and former favorite of Elizabeth I, is beheaded in the Tower of London for high treason.

· 1642 Dutch settlers slaughter lower Hudson Valley Indians in New Netherland, North America, who sought refuge from Mohawk attackers.

· 1779 The British surrender the Illinois country to George Rogers Clark at Vincennes.

· 1781 American General Nathaniel Greene crosses the Dan River on his way to attack Cornwallis.

· 1791 President George Washington signs a bill creating the Bank of the United States.

· 1804 Thomas Jefferson is nominated for president at the Democratic-Republican caucus.

· 1815 Napoleon leaves his exile on the island of Elba, returning to France.

· 1831 The Polish army halts the Russian advance into their country at the Battle of Grochow.

· 1836 Samuel Colt patents the first revolving cylinder multi-shot firearm.

· 1862 Confederate troops abandon Nashville, Tennessee, in the face of Grant's advance. The ironclad Monitor is commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

· 1865 General Joseph E. Johnston replaces John Bell Hood as Commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

· 1904 J.M. Synge's play Riders to the Sea opens in Dublin.

· 1910 The 13th Dalai Lama flees from the Chinese and takes refuge in India.

· 1913 The 16th Amendment to the constitution is adopted, setting the legal basis for the income tax.

· 1919 Oregon introduces the first state tax on gasoline at one cent per gallon, to be used for road construction.

· 1926 Poland demands a permanent seat on the League of Nations council.

· 1928 Bell Labs introduces a new device to end the fluttering of the television image.

· 1943 U.S. troops retake the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, where they had been defeated five days before.

· 1944 U.S. forces destroy 135 Japanese planes in Marianas and Guam.

· 1952 French colonial forces evacuate Hoa Binh in Indochina.

· 1956 Stalin is secretly disavowed by Khrushchev at a party congress for promoting the "cult of the individual."

· 1976 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states may ban the hiring of illegal aliens.

1964

Young Muhammad Ali knocks out Sonny Liston for first world title


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Thanks to Al…..We did get some relatively heavy rain for some time this weekend and even some lightning and thunder which was very unusual. But if you have been to the Philippines it during the rainy season it was just a drizzle,

Monday Morning Humor--California Rain

We Californians were very thankful for the rain on Saturday.

You know you’re from California when…

--It’s barely drizzling and the freeways are backed up because of the I-5 car pile ups.

--It’s barely sprinkling rain and there’s a report on every news station:: STORM WATCH.

--You consider 65 degrees and below-freezing.

--You don’t trust the weatherman.

Once it started raining, all my wife did was to look sadly through the window. Once it got worse, I had to let her in.

My favorite part of winter is watching it on TV from California.

NEWS ALERT: NASA confirms that Mars has more water than California.

Salt is used in other states to spread on icy/snowy roads. In California, we use it for margaritas.

Did you know there’s a technical term for a sunny, warm day which follows two rainy days? It’s called Monday.

Weather warning for the rest of winter in California—Bring an extra bottle of sunscreen.

Need an ark? I Noah guy.

Hopefully, we will get more rain or we will be back to telling these jokes.

California is so dry…

--that leaks are the new status symbol.

--the fastest growing crime is employee theft…by pool boys.

--a sprinkler store opened on Rodeo Drive (and have you seen those Prada canteens?!)

--the rain barrels have security guards.

--the Pacific garbage patch is now a landfill.

--there are red velvet ropes around the fountains.

--that people are flipping water towers.

--the longest lines at Disneyland are for the water fountains.

--someone snatched my bottled water but left my iphone.

Is there anything better than listening to the sound of heavy rain while you fall asleep?

Have a great week,

Al

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(Forgot he had two MOH! Phyllis Schlafly at the Eagle Forum always referenced and quoted Smedley Butler. Notice the highlighted number of general and admirals today! Several sources say we have more Navy admirals today than ships!)

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/no_author/where-have-you-gone-smedley-butler/


Where Have You Gone, Smedley Butler?

By Danny Sjursen
TomDispatch.com

February 24, 2020

There once lived an odd little man — five feet nine inches tall and barely 140 pounds sopping wet — who rocked the lecture circuit and the nation itself. For all but a few activist insiders and scholars, U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler is now lost to history. Yet more than a century ago, this strange contradiction of a man would become a national war hero, celebrated in pulp adventure novels, and then, 30 years later, as one of this country’s most prominent antiwar and anti-imperialist dissidents.

Raised in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and educated in Quaker (pacifist) schools, the son of an influential congressman, he would end up serving in nearly all of America’s “Banana Wars” from 1898 to 1931. Wounded in combat and a rare recipient of two Congressional Medals of Honor, he would retire as the youngest, most decorated major general in the Marines.

A teenage officer and a certified hero during an international intervention in the Chinese Boxer Rebellion of 1900, he would later become a constabulary leader of the Haitian gendarme, the police chief of Philadelphia (while on an approved absence from the military), and a proponent of Marine Corps football. In more standard fashion, he would serve in battle as well as in what might today be labeled peacekeeping, counterinsurgency, and advise-and-assist missions in Cuba, China, the Philippines, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, France, and China (again). While he showed early signs of skepticism about some of those imperial campaigns or, as they were sardonically called by critics at the time, “Dollar Diplomacy” operations — that is, military campaigns waged on behalf of U.S. corporate business interests — until he retired he remained the prototypical loyal Marine.

But after retirement, Smedley Butler changed his tune. He began to blast the imperialist foreign policy and interventionist bullying in which he’d only recently played such a prominent part. Eventually, in 1935 during the Great Depression, in what became a classic passage in his memoir, which he titled “War Is a Racket,” he wrote: “I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service… And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers.”

Seemingly overnight, the famous war hero transformed himself into an equally acclaimed antiwar speaker and activist in a politically turbulent era. Those were, admittedly, uncommonly anti-interventionist years, in which veterans and politicians alike promoted what (for America, at least) had been fringe ideas. This was, after all, the height of what later pro-war interventionists would pejoratively label American “isolationism.”

Nonetheless, Butler was unique (for that moment and certainly for our own) in his unapologetic amenability to left-wing domestic politics and materialist critiques of American militarism. In the last years of his life, he would face increasing criticism from his former admirer, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the military establishment, and the interventionist press. This was particularly true after Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany invaded Poland and later France. Given the severity of the Nazi threat to mankind, hindsight undoubtedly proved Butler’s virulent opposition to U.S. intervention in World War II wrong.

Nevertheless, the long-term erasure of his decade of antiwar and anti-imperialist activism and the assumption that all his assertions were irrelevant has proven historically deeply misguided. In the wake of America’s brief but bloody entry into the First World War, the skepticism of Butler (and a significant part of an entire generation of veterans) about intervention in a new European bloodbath should have been understandable. Above all, however, his critique of American militarism of an earlier imperial era in the Pacific and in Latin America remains prescient and all too timely today, especially coming as it did from one of the most decorated and high-ranking general officers of his time. (In the era of the never-ending war on terror, such a phenomenon is quite literally inconceivable.)

Smedley Butler’s Marine Corps and the military of his day was, in certain ways, a different sort of organization than today’s highly professionalized armed forces. History rarely repeats itself, not in a literal sense anyway. Still, there are some disturbing similarities between the careers of Butler and today’s generation of forever-war fighters. All of them served repeated tours of duty in (mostly) unsanctioned wars around the world. Butler’s conflicts may have stretched west from Haiti across the oceans to China, whereas today’s generals mostly lead missions from West Africa east to Central Asia, but both sets of conflicts seemed perpetual in their day and were motivated by barely concealed economic and imperial interests.

Nonetheless, whereas this country’s imperial campaigns of the first third of the twentieth century generated a Smedley Butler, the hyper-interventionism of the first decades of this century hasn’t produced a single even faintly comparable figure. Not one. Zero. Zilch. Why that is matters and illustrates much about the U.S. military establishment and contemporary national culture, none of it particularly encouraging.

Why No Antiwar Generals

When Smedley Butler retired in 1931, he was one of three Marine Corps major generals holding a rank just below that of only the Marine commandant and the Army chief of staff. Today, with about 900 generals and admirals currently serving on active duty, including 24 major generals in the Marine Corps alone, and with scores of flag officers retiring annually, not a single one has offered genuine public opposition to almost 19 years worth of ill-advised, remarkably unsuccessful American wars. As for the most senior officers, the 40 four-star generals and admirals whose vocal antimilitarism might make the biggest splash, there are more of them today than there were even at the height of the Vietnam War, although the active military is now about half the size it was then. Adulated as many of them may be, however, not one qualifies as a public critic of today’s failing wars.

Instead, the principal patriotic dissent against those terror wars has come from retired colonels, lieutenant colonels, and occasionally more junior officers (like me), as well as enlisted service members. Not that there are many of us to speak of either. I consider it disturbing (and so should you) that I personally know just about every one of the retired military figures who has spoken out against America’s forever wars.

The big three are Secretary of State Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson; Vietnam veteran and onetime West Point history instructor, retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich; and Iraq veteran and Afghan War whistleblower, retired Lieutenant Colonel Danny Davis. All three have proven to be genuine public servants, poignant voices, and — on some level — cherished personal mentors. For better or worse, however, none carry the potential clout of a retired senior theater commander or prominent four-star general offering the same critiques.

Something must account for veteran dissenters topping out at the level of colonel. Obviously, there are personal reasons why individual officers chose early retirement or didn’t make general or admiral. Still, the system for selecting flag officers should raise at least a few questions when it comes to the lack of antiwar voices among retired commanders. In fact, a selection committee of top generals and admirals is appointed each year to choose the next colonels to earn their first star. And perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that, according to numerous reports, “the members of this board are inclined, if not explicitly motivated, to seek candidates in their own image — officers whose careers look like theirs.” At a minimal level, such a system is hardly built to foster free thinkers, no less breed potential dissidents.

Consider it an irony of sorts that this system first received criticism in our era of forever wars when General David Petraeus, then commanding the highly publicized “surge” in Iraq, had to leave that theater of war in 2007 to serve as the chair of that selection committee. The reason: he wanted to ensure that a twice passed-over colonel, a protégé of his — future Trump National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster — earned his star.

Mainstream national security analysts reported on this affair at the time as if it were a major scandal, since most of them were convinced that Petraeus and his vaunted counterinsurgency or “COINdinista” protégés and their “new” war-fighting doctrine had the magic touch that would turn around the failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Petraeus tried to apply those very tactics twice — once in each country — as did acolytes of his later, and you know the results of that.

But here’s the point: it took an eleventh-hour intervention by America’s most acclaimed general of that moment to get new stars handed out to prominent colonels who had, until then, been stonewalled by Cold War-bred flag officers because they were promoting different (but also strangely familiar) tactics in this country’s wars. Imagine, then, how likely it would be for such a leadership system to produce genuine dissenters with stars of any serious sort, no less a crew of future Smedley Butlers.

At the roots of this system lay the obsession of the American officer corps with “professionalization” after the Vietnam War debacle. This first manifested itself in a decision to ditch the citizen-soldier tradition, end the draft, and create an “all-volunteer force.” The elimination of conscription, as predicted by critics at the time, created an ever-growing civil-military divide, even as it increased public apathy regarding America’s wars by erasing whatever “skin in the game” most citizens had.

More than just helping to squelch civilian antiwar activism, though, the professionalization of the military, and of the officer corps in particular, ensured that any future Smedley Butlers would be left in the dust (or in retirement at the level of lieutenant colonel or colonel) by a system geared to producing faux warrior-monks. Typical of such figures is current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley. He may speak gruffly and look like a man with a head of his own, but typically he’s turned out to be just another yes-man for another war-power-hungry president.

One group of generals, however, reportedly now does have it out for President Trump — but not because they’re opposed to endless war. Rather, they reportedly think that The Donald doesn’t “listen enough to military advice” on, you know, how to wage war forever and a day.

What Would Smedley Butler Think Today?

In his years of retirement, Smedley Butler regularly focused on the economic component of America’s imperial war policies. He saw clearly that the conflicts he had fought in, the elections he had helped rig, the coups he had supported, and the constabularies he had formed and empowered in faraway lands had all served the interests of U.S. corporate investors. Though less overtly the case today, this still remains a reality in America’s post-9/11 conflicts, even on occasion embarrassingly so (as when the Iraqi ministry of oil was essentially the only public building protected by American troops as looters tore apart the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in the post-invasion chaos of April 2003). Mostly, however, such influence plays out far more subtly than that, both abroad and here at home where those wars help maintain the record profits of the top weapons makers of the military-industrial complex.

That beast, first identified by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is now on steroids as American commanders in retirement regularly move directly from the military onto the boards of the giant defense contractors, a reality which only contributes to the dearth of Butlers in the military retiree community. For all the corruption of his time, the Pentagon didn’t yet exist and the path from the military to, say, United Fruit Company, Standard Oil, or other typical corporate giants of that moment had yet to be normalized for retiring generals and admirals. Imagine what Butler would have had to say about the modern phenomenon of the “revolving door” in Washington.

Of course, he served in a very different moment, one in which military funding and troop levels were still contested in Congress. As a longtime critic of capitalist excesses who wrote for leftist publications and supported the Socialist Party candidate in the 1936 presidential elections, Butler would have found today’s nearly trillion-dollar annual defense budgets beyond belief. What the grizzled former Marine long ago identified as a treacherous nexus between warfare and capital “in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives” seems to have reached its natural end point in the twenty-first century. Case in point: the record (and still rising) “defense” spending of the present moment, including — to please a president — the creation of a whole new military service aimed at the full-scale militarization of space.

Sadly enough, in the age of Trump, as numerous polls demonstrate, the U.S. military is the only public institution Americans still truly trust. Under the circumstances, how useful it would be to have a high-ranking, highly decorated, charismatic retired general in the Butler mold galvanize an apathetic public around those forever wars of ours. Unfortunately, the likelihood of that is practically nil, given the military system of our moment.

Of course, Butler didn’t exactly end his life triumphantly. In late May 1940, having lost 25 pounds due to illness and exhaustion — and demonized as a leftist, isolationist crank but still maintaining a whirlwind speaking schedule — he checked himself into the Philadelphia Navy Yard Hospital for a “rest.” He died there, probably of some sort of cancer, four weeks later. Working himself to death in his 10-year retirement and second career as a born-again antiwar activist, however, might just have constituted the very best service that the two-time Medal of Honor winner could have given the nation he loved to the very end.

Someone of his credibility, character, and candor is needed more than ever today. Unfortunately, this military generation is unlikely to produce such a figure. In retirement, Butler himself boldly confessed that, “like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical…”

Today, generals don’t seem to have a thought of their own even in retirement. And more’s the pity…

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Thanks to GBox

This is pretty profound. Ron

19 February 2020

The celebrated, oft-cited Iwo Jima sermon that was almost never preached

by Michael Feldberg
 
 
 



The fight for Iwo Jima in 1945 was one of the bloodiest of World War II. A tiny island in the Pacific dominated by a volcanic mountain and pockmarked with caves, Iwo Jima was the setting for a five-week, non-stop battle between 70,000 American Marines and an unknown number of deeply entrenched Japanese defenders.

The courage and gallantry of the American forces, climaxed by the dramatic raising of the American flag over Mt. Suribachi, is memorialized in the Marine Corps monument in Washington, DC.

Less remembered, however, is that the battle occasioned an eloquent eulogy by a Marine Corps rabbi that has become an American classic.

Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn (1910-1995), assigned to the Fifth Marine Division, was the first Jewish chaplain the Marine Corps ever appointed. The American invading force at Iwo Jima included approximately 1,500 Jewish Marines.

Rabbi Gittelsohn was in the thick of the fray, ministering to Marines of all faiths in the combat zone. He shared the fear, horror and despair of the fighting men, each of whom knew that each day might be his last.

Roland Gittelsohn's tireless efforts to comfort the wounded and encourage the fearful won him three service ribbons.

When the fighting was over, Division Chaplain Warren Cuthriell, a Protestant minister, asked Rabbi Gittelsohn to deliver the memorial sermon at a combined religious service dedicating the Marine Cemetery. Cuthriell wanted all the fallen Marines — black and white, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish — honored in a single, nondenominational ceremony. Unfortunately, racial and religious prejudice was strong in the Marine Corps, as it was then throughout America.

According to Rabbi Gittelsohn, the majority of Christian chaplains objected to having a rabbi preach over predominantly Christian graves. The Catholic chaplains, in keeping with church doctrine, opposed any form of joint religious service.

To his credit, Cuthriell refused to alter his plans. Gittelsohn, on the other hand, wanted to save his friend Cuthriell further embarrassment and so decided it was best not to deliver his sermon.

Instead, three separate religious services were held.

At the Jewish service, to a congregation of 70 or so who attended, Rabbi Gittelsohn delivered the powerful eulogy he originally wrote for the combined service:

Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor . . . together. Here are Protestants, Catholics and Jews together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men, there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy . . .

Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this, then, as our solemn duty, sacred duty do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of white men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price . . .

We here solemnly swear that this shall not be in vain. Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere.

Among Gittelsohn's listeners were three Protestant chaplains so incensed by the prejudice voiced by their colleagues that they boycotted their own service to attend Gittelsohn's.

One of them borrowed the manuscript and, unknown to Gittelsohn, circulated several thousand copies to his regiment. Some Marines enclosed the copies in letters to their families. An avalanche of coverage resulted.

Time magazine published excerpts, which wire services spread even further. The entire sermon was inserted into the Congressional Record, the Army released the eulogy for short-wave broadcast to American troops throughout the world and radio commentator Robert St. John read it on his program and on many succeeding Memorial Days.

In 1995, in his last major public appearance before his death, Gittelsohn re-read a portion of the eulogy at the fiftieth commemoration ceremony at the Iwo Jima statue in Washington, D.C.

In his autobiography, Gittelsohn reflected, "I have often wondered whether anyone would ever have heard of my Iwo Jima sermon had it not been for the bigoted attempt to ban it."

[Michael Feldberg, Ph.D. is executive director of the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom. From 1991 to 2004, he served as executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society, the nation's oldest ethnic historical organization, and from 2004 to 2008 was its director of research.]

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Daily news from around the world from Military Periscope

USA—Navy Confirms ODIN Laser Fitted To Destroyer Military.Com | 02/25/2020 Naval Sea Systems Command has confirmed that an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer has been fitted with a new laser dazzler system, reports Military.com. The Optical Dazzling Interdictor Laser, Navy (ODIN) was installed on USS Dewey in November, the command said last week. Its deployment on the Dewey will be used to inform the installation of ODIN on other vessels and future laser weapon development. The War Zone website reported in November that a laser weapon system, which it posited was the ODIN, had been installed on the ship’s forward close-in weapon systems platform. ODIN was developed, tested and produced by Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Va., noted Seapower magazine. ODIN is a lower power laser designed to target the electro-optical and infrared sensors of uncrewed aerial vehicles and anti-ship missiles, blinding them. Two more ODIN systems are scheduled for installation on destroyers in the near term, officials said.

USA—More Challenging, Complex Tests Planned For New Battle Management System Air Force Magazine | 02/25/2020 Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper has unveiled an ambitious set of goals for an upcoming Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) experiment, reports Air Force magazine. The experiment is scheduled for April 8 and will include live shots targeting uncrewed aerial vehicles and cruise missiles. A variety of platforms will be incorporated, including warships, submarines, ground forces and aircraft. Allied platforms will not participate in this ABMS experiment, but they are expected to join future iterations. The service will also test SpaceX’s Starlink communications constellation. Virgin Galactic’s Launcher One may also be included to examine the effects of having the ability to launch a satellite on demand. Roper said that he wants to take more risks to generate a 50 percent failure rate, which will identify areas for improvement ahead of the next round of trials. The 80 to 90 percent success rate of the previous experiment in December meant that not enough was learned, he said.

Canada—Modernized Aurora Patrol Aircraft Completes 1st Test Flight Ottawa Citizen | 02/25/2020 The first CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft to receive a new upgrade has completed its initial test flight, reports the Ottawa Citizen. The aircraft flew from Halifax to Greenwood in Nova Scotia as part of an Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment assessment, according to the military. This Aurora was the first to be modified to the Block IV standard, which incorporates beyond-line-of-sight satellite communications, a Link 16 tactical data link and a self-defense system. The Block IV upgrade is the last phase of the Aurora Incremental Modernization Project (AIMP). The upgrade is expected to reach initial operational capability in June, and full operational capability in September 2022.

Canada—Modernized Aurora Patrol Aircraft Completes 1st Test Flight Ottawa Citizen | 02/25/2020 The first CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft to receive a new upgrade has completed its initial test flight, reports the Ottawa Citizen. The aircraft flew from Halifax to Greenwood in Nova Scotia as part of an Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment assessment, according to the military. This Aurora was the first to be modified to the Block IV standard, which incorporates beyond-line-of-sight satellite communications, a Link 16 tactical data link and a self-defense system. The Block IV upgrade is the last phase of the Aurora Incremental Modernization Project (AIMP). The upgrade is expected to reach initial operational capability in June, and full operational capability in September 2022.

Greece—New Agreement To Strengthen Defense Ties With France Agence France-Presse | 02/25/2020 Greece is set to sign a wide-ranging defense agreement with France as tensions with Turkey continue to mount, reports Agence France-Presse. The agreement, scheduled to be signed in June, covers joint naval and land exercises, as well defense industrial cooperation and an increased French presence in the eastern Mediterranean, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said on Monday, following talks with his French counterpart. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said that French Rafale fighter jets would also take part in the annual Greek air force Exercise Iniochos in May. Greece is also in talks with Paris for the purchase of two Belharra-type frigates as well as modernizing its Mirage 2000 fighter jets and NH90 helicopters. Athens is seeking to strengthen ties with European Union and NATO partners amid growing tensions with Turkey over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean and other issues. Ankara signed a maritime border agreement in November with the U.N.-backed government in Libya, ignoring sections of the eastern Mediterranean controlled by Greece, adding to tensions.

Russia—Open Skies Observation Missions Underway In Russia, Turkey Tass | 02/25/2020 Western personnel are performing observation flights over Russia while a Russian team flies over Turkey under the Open Skies Treaty, reports the Tass news agency (Moscow). Canadian, Norwegian and U.S. personnel are scheduled to fly over Russian territory from Feb. 25 to Feb. 29, said the head of Russia's National Center for Nuclear Risk Reduction. Russian specialists will be onboard to observe the mission. At the same time, Russian inspectors will conduct similar flights over Turkey from Feb. 25 to Feb. 28. The Open Skies treaty provides for unarmed overflights of signatory countries to increase transparency into military activities.

Azerbaijan—Air Force Set To Buy M-346 Trainers From Italy Trend News Agency | 02/25/2020 Azerbaijan says it has signed an agreement for the purchase of M-346 trainer jets from Italy, reports the Trend news agency (Baku). President Ilham Aliyev announced that he had signed the agreement with manufacturer Leonardo during a recent trip to Italy. The size of the proposed order, value of the contract and delivery timeline were not made public. The Azerbaijani air force is known to have a growing requirement to replace aging Soviet-era jets, noted Jane's Defence Weekly.

South Korea—USFK Raises COVID-19 Risk Level As Cases Increase Yonhap | 02/25/2020 U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has raised its risk level for the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak to high after a family member of a service member was confirmed to have the virus, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul). The warning was raised from moderate after the widow of a retired soldier was found to have contracted COVID-19. She had reportedly visited the Camp Walker Post Exchange in the middle of December. The number of COVID-19 cases has rapidly increased in South Korea in recent days, with the number of confirmed cases reaching 833 on Monday. The outbreak has been linked to a religious group in Daegu and a hospital in a nearby county. Eight deaths have been reported. Accordingly, USFK has banned non-essential travel to and from Daegu. Although no cases have been reported among USFK personnel, 13 South Korean troops have contracted the virus, including 10 from the army and one each from the navy, air force and marine corps, reported the Korea Times. The military has quarantined 7,800 military personnel and their family members. The armed forces have begun actively supporting national and regional governments to stop the spread of the virus following the increase of the COVID-19 alert level to the highest “red” level, said a defense ministry spokesman.

Japan—Arms Export Group Agrees To Expand Controls On Cyber Tech Kyodo News Agency | 02/25/2020 The 42 member states of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies have agreed to expand the agreement to cover military-grade cyber technology, reports the Kyodo News. In December, an agreement was reached to expand the arrangement’s restrictions on the export of key military technologies to include military-grade cyber software and manufacturing technology for weapon-capable semiconductor parts. The members also affirmed the need to control “invisible weapons” such as communication surveillance technology and digital forensics systems for the retrieval of data, sources said. The Wassenaar Arrangement is a non-binding regime restricting the export of military and dual-use technology. Major nations including the U.S., U.K., Japan and Russia are signatories. China, North Korea and Iran are not. Some Japanese firms involved in the manufacturing of high-performance semiconductors are expected to face increased export regulations following the agreement. The new restrictions should not result in a disruption of the supply of semiconductors to China, unlike U.S. restrictions which had forced Beijing to develop domestic sources, said experts cited by the Global Times (China).

Philippines—Abu Sayyaf Leader, Militant Die In Sulu Gun Battle Philippine Daily Inquirer | 02/25/2020 Two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants have been killed in fighting with the Philippine military in the southwestern Sulu province, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer. On Sunday, the 15th Scout Ranger Company encountered around 40 ASG fighters in the town of Patikul, said a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command. Taullah Abduraras (aka Amah Olla), a subleader of an ASG faction under Radullah Sahiron, and another militant known as Baby Ollah were killed. Two rangers were injured in the fighting. The operation pre-empted terrorist attacks and reduced the freedom of action of the terrorists, the spokesman said. Sulu province is the main headquarters for ASG and is said to be the locus of ISIS-related activity in the Philippines, noted the Rappler.

Thailand—Chinese Detachment Arrives For Cobra Gold Exercise China Military Online | 02/25/2020 A delegation from China’s People’s Liberation Army has arrived in Thailand for the upcoming Cobra Gold joint military exercise, reports China Military Online. Twenty-five personnel from the 75th Army Group arrived on Sunday at the U-Tapao airport in Rayong province. They were flown by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force Y-9 transport. Before deploying, the personnel reportedly underwent “epidemic prevention and control measures,” due to the COVID-19 outbreak in China. This year’s Cobra Gold exercise is scheduled for Feb. 25 to March. 6. Approximately 8,900 personnel from 29 countries are expected to participate or observe. The exercise is scheduled to include several components, including high-level forums, amphibious landing operations and rescue and disaster relief drills as well as humanitarian engineering and construction aid.

Thailand—Chinese Detachment Arrives For Cobra Gold Exercise China Military Online | 02/25/2020 A delegation from China’s People’s Liberation Army has arrived in Thailand for the upcoming Cobra Gold joint military exercise, reports China Military Online. Twenty-five personnel from the 75th Army Group arrived on Sunday at the U-Tapao airport in Rayong province. They were flown by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force Y-9 transport. Before deploying, the personnel reportedly underwent “epidemic prevention and control measures,” due to the COVID-19 outbreak in China. This year’s Cobra Gold exercise is scheduled for Feb. 25 to March. 6. Approximately 8,900 personnel from 29 countries are expected to participate or observe. The exercise is scheduled to include several components, including high-level forums, amphibious landing operations and rescue and disaster relief drills as well as humanitarian engineering and construction aid.

Thailand—Chinese Detachment Arrives For Cobra Gold Exercise China Military Online | 02/25/2020 A delegation from China’s People’s Liberation Army has arrived in Thailand for the upcoming Cobra Gold joint military exercise, reports China Military Online. Twenty-five personnel from the 75th Army Group arrived on Sunday at the U-Tapao airport in Rayong province. They were flown by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force Y-9 transport. Before deploying, the personnel reportedly underwent “epidemic prevention and control measures,” due to the COVID-19 outbreak in China. This year’s Cobra Gold exercise is scheduled for Feb. 25 to March. 6. Approximately 8,900 personnel from 29 countries are expected to participate or observe. The exercise is scheduled to include several components, including high-level forums, amphibious landing operations and rescue and disaster relief drills as well as humanitarian engineering and construction aid.

Afghanistan—Taliban Attacks Continue Despite Reduction In Violence Agreement TOLONews | 02/25/2020 At least four Afghan security personnel and three civilians have been killed in Taliban operations in the northern Balkh province despite a reduction in violence agreement negotiated with the U.S., reports the Tolo News (Afghanistan). Early Monday, Taliban fighters attacked an outpost in the Chahar Kint district, killing at least seven people. Two security personnel were taken hostage, said local officials. The militant group did not immediately comment. More than 10 attacks on security forces have been reported across the country, including in the Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Balkh, Kapisa and Samangan provinces, despite the entry into effect of a reduction in violence agreement between the Taliban and U.S. troops on Feb. 22. Eight attacks were reported on the first day of the agreement and two on the second. The truce is seen as the prelude to a wider deal to reduce U.S. involvement in the conflict, noted Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. As part of the agreement, a Taliban spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that major cities, military corps, garrisons or bases belonging to international forces would not be attacked.

Iran—15 Deaths Confirmed In Coronavirus Outbreak Islamic Republic News Agency | 02/25/2020 The Iranian government has confirmed 15 deaths due to a coronavirus outbreak in Qom in northern Iran, reports the official Islamic Republic News Agency (Tehran). Qom, about 85 miles (140 km) south of Tehran, is a pilgrimage site for many Shi'ite Muslims. Pilgrims who traveled to Qom are believed to form the majority of those infected in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Lebanon. With at least 95 cases confirmed, there are fears that the virus could spread to neighboring countries, reported Time. Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey closed their borders with Iran on Monday, reported the Guardian (U.K.). At least one case has been confirmed in Najaf, Iraq, another Shi'ite pilgrimage site. Experts have expressed concern that the disease could reach vulnerable refugees in Iraq and Syria. The healthcare systems in both countries are ill-equipped to deal with such a crisis. On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it would send a team to Iran and Italy, where an outbreak is concentrated in the country's northern region.

Syria—Turkish-Backed Rebels Recapture Nairab From Regime Forces Reuters | 02/25/2020 Turkish-backed rebel forces say they have recaptured a key town in northwestern Syria, reports Reuters. The town of Nairab has been reclaimed from Syrian government forces, a spokesman for the Syrian National Army, an umbrella group of Turkish-backed forces, said on Tuesday. Dozens of Syrian troops and allied militia members were killed in the fighting, reported the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The rebels will now set their sights on Saraqeb, the city that sits on the M5 highway connecting Aleppo and Damascus, Syria's two largest cities. Turkish troops supported the operation with artillery fire and ordnance disposal teams, said a Turkish security official. There were no clashes between Turkish and Russian troops during the operation, said the source. Turkish-backed forces abandoned the town two weeks ago during a Syrian government offensive in Idlib province. Nairab is the first territory to be retaken since Damascus launched its latest offensive. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that talks were underway on a conference on March 5 to discuss on the situation in Idlib with French, German and Russian officials, reported Turkey's Anadolu Agency.

Libya—LNA Claims To Have Killed 16 Turkish Soldiers Middle East Monitor | 02/25/2020 The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar claims that it has killed at least 16 Turkish soldiers fighting in support of the U.N.-backed government in Libya, reports the Middle East Monitor. The troops died during recent clashes in Misrata,Tripoli and the town of al-Falah, south of the capital, reported Reuters. On Feb. 22, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged that several Turkish soldiers had been “martyred” during fighting in Libya but claimed that Turkish forces had neutralized nearly a hundred LNA fighters. At least one of the soldiers killed was a colonel, reported the Evrensel (Turkey). The current number of Turkish soldiers deployed to Libya is unknown but the Hurriyet Daily News (Ankara) reported earlier in February that 35 soldiers had been sent to Libya.

Haiti—2 Die In Clash Between Police And Soldiers In Port-Au-Prince Voice Of America News | 02/25/2020 At least two members of the Haitian security forces are dead and several more wounded following clashes between off-duty police officers and the military, reports the Voice of America News. On Sunday, members of the national police attacked the military headquarters in Port-au-Prince, reported CNN. One soldier and one police officer were killed and three officers and four civilians injured, said local media. Other reports indicated as many as a dozen were wounded. Police have been protesting for better pay and working conditions, as well as the right to form a union, reported Agence France-Presse. A coordinator in the movement, as well as several other officers, were fired last week, increasing tensions. On Tuesday, the Haitian government canceled Mardi Gras celebrations in an effort prevent further fighting. Haiti has been battling a protest movement against the rule of President Jovenel Moise and crime spurred by rivalries between criminal groups.


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