Monday, November 30, 2015

30 Years War

On September 11th 2001 the world entered a new era of violence. In the end there will be less religion in the world, just like in Europe after 1648, when humanism and the Enlightenment unfurled their victory banners.

Before us lie bleak years.

The jihadis of Al Qaida, Boko Haram, and IS believe wrongly that they are in possession of a comprehensive truth. They enforce, so they claim, the will of Allah and his mission for us. In this truth chaos and decline are part of the equation. “They love life, we love death” writes the perfidious terrorists on their flags. It’s not just Christianity, not just the refrigerator or Coca Cola, they hate everything that does not bend to their wretched views and their apocalyptic furor. The largest victim group is still Muslims, who in the worldview of these radicals are an eye sore.

There is no mistaking: we, in the East as in the West, in land of the rising sun as well that of the setting sun, can only beat these twisted people through force, by the use of soldiers, drones, with the help of secret information gathered by intelligence agencies, and with the knowledge and sad understanding, that their will be many casualties, sadly including civilians. The greatness of our culture would survive, so long as it can retain its form, if it can put the brakes on, not meeting absolute terror with the absolute abandoning of its virtues. This hasn’t been successful in the US, and many countries in the West still struggle with moderating between the pulls of freedom and of security.

But it’s clear: there is an enemy, and this enemy wants to destroy us. “Us” is everyone who orients themselves in their lives with humanistic values. That is the majority, in Paris and Beirut, the latter of which in Europe is called “the Paris of the Near East.” We may have different cultural and religious heritages, but we are all still human.

This original humanity, treat others as you would treat yourself, the meaning of the Golden Rule, which not only can be quoted from the New Testament, but can be found in similar forms in all religious texts across humankind. Any form of categorizing people in order to discriminate against others, is a departure from the universal compassion that we have for one another. Tears cried for loved ones lost in an attack are universally understandable, tearing down our walls of separation. We are all human beings, in Beirut and in Paris.

Islamism is a malformed offspring of globalization: the fear of others who are coming ever closer to us through new means of transportation, the Internet, and real-time communication across the globe. Those who believe that the benefices and clerics hold exclusive knowledge in their hands must see now how their power is dwindling. Therefore violence breaks out everywhere in the world; there are desperate attempts to stop us from coming together. Because certain people have always had much to gain from discrimination.

The new growing humanism we are experiencing at the same time is, however, the most noble of globalization’s children: in seeing and recognizing others who are like me that live only a mouse click away, there is the potential that all the barriers of race, religion, and the rest can be driven from the world forever. Did we really believe that we could achieve this without a struggle? Did we really believe that the old and new representatives of exclusionary ideologies and worldviews would ignore our efforts?

At stake in this Thirty Years War is nothing less than if the modern world can remain a place of freedom, or if this final bemoaning performance of the intolerant will succeed in ending the freedoms of the Modern era, and bomb us back to the near-forgotten darkness of earlier times. In the end there will be, so we want to hope, a large space for empathy and coexistence, which will be determined by tolerance and by a social contract, esti Deus non daretur, as if there weren’t a God.
If we succeed in this, then we succeed in our modernity, by destroying the targets through which the jihadis today pull us into war.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Europa l'guerre


It turns out that at some point even those most reluctant to consider the use of force – or to pay for the means to defend themselves – have to decide whether it is better to fight on one’s feet or die on one’s knees.

European self defense, once considered by many a lost cause, appears to be making a comeback. The murder of innocents over the Sinai last month and in Paris nine days ago has served to focus the minds of Western politicians on the reality that some threats cannot be avoided, bought off or bribed. Nor, it is now apparent, can they be contained. They must be defeated.

Other factors have also influenced Europe’s decision to seek peace by preparing for war. Clearly, Russian aggression against Ukraine and Moscow’s increasingly bellicose military posturing created fertile ground for the muscular response by European nations to the threat from ISIS. But so too has been U.S. disengagement from Europe and the apparent inability to lead, follow or get out of the way when it came to the collapse of stability in the Middle East.

There may be a no more reluctant 21st century warrior than French President Francois Hollande, who came to power on a platform of fighting the rich, not Islamic terrorism, and increasing spending on social programs. But as he declared in his first speech to the French people after the Paris attacks, “France is at war.” Thus is the mind concentrated.

Fortunately, France is one of the few nations of Europe that retained the essential means to go to war. Moreover, the Hollande government saw the need to bolster national defense even before recent events. It had once planned to cut defense spending by some 7 percent between 2014 and 2019; this year it proposed increasing the defense budget by 4 percent in real terms over the same period and protecting the 2015 budget against austerity cuts. Although defense spending as a share of GDP is currently well below the NATO target of 2 percent of GDP, planned increases will push that figure to 1.8 percent by the end of the decade. The massacre in Paris could well propel that figure even higher.

France is not alone in seeing the need to up its game when it comes to defense spending and military capabilities. British Prime Minister David Cameron just announced an $18 billion increase in his country’s defense spending over the coming decade. Some of the increase will go to create two new rapidly deployable, 5,000-strong “strike brigades,” precisely the kind of units that will be needed in the global war on violent Islamists. But a substantial amount will support the procurement of capabilities such as nine P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. These are more clearly intended to deter potentially hostile states. The proposed spending increase will not entirely undo the damage caused by excessively deep defense cuts over the past five years but it is a start.

Germany too plans to increase defense spending, seeking to reach the 2 percent target by 2017. You can easily tell what threat most worries the German government by looking at what it intends to buy. On Berlin’s new shopping list is 100 additional Leopard 2 main battle tanks. This is not a lot when one considers that at the end of the Cold War, the German Army deployed some 3,000 tanks. But it is a start. So too is the procurement of the advanced and mobile Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). Poor management had caused problems with a number of programs that are now being sorted out by the new defense minister.

Even some of the smaller members of the European community are investing in enhanced capabilities. Lithuania this month made a request to Washington for some 80 Stryker infantry fighting vehicles with the new 30mm cannon. Greece, one of only two NATO countries to consistently maintain defense spending at 2 percent of GDP, is looking to replace its aging fighter fleet. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are members of the F-35 international consortium.

It is too soon to declare Europe out of the woods when it comes to the defense of the continent. But the relatively swift change not just in attitude but behavior, specifically the willingness to spend more on defense, is encouraging.

Given the nature of the threats facing the civilized world, it is time that Europe girded for war.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Thankful for being an American. Everything else just seems to fall into place.

Pic - "Almighty God - We totally thank thee for raising up this laughing race of free men, avatars of Thy divine deigns that "Whosoever will" - may. That fun and free choice shall not perish from the earth - we are eternally grateful for l'nom d'guerr "Americans" 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Spark!

Well, that was psychic!

“World War III” would, in effect, be the fifth World War in the history of the modern state system. What might spark such a war, and how would it escalate into a global conflict?

At the moment, ISIS has drawn the attention of most of the world’s most powerful countries, including France, the United States, and Russia. But the explosion of attention (not to mention air traffic) could complicate the next step in the war. On the one hand, an accidental confrontation between NATO and Russia aircraft could lead to bad tactical decisions, with one or more planes shot out of the air.

Turkey's Ottomanic nation state has been totally unhelpful in regards to the current chiz in the ME. Buying oil from ISIL, tormenting Kurds and acting callously towards refugees may have finally played out.

So as NATO hooks up for a yet to be seen profitable jaw flapping contest, as Commonwealth Russia reels under the influence of losing 3 aircraft in record time, as ISIL continues their drive backwards to the 7th Century - hang on to your hat! 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cooking With ISIL

Whistleblowers accused the US military of manipulating intelligence data on its operations against ISIL prompting an investigation regarding the assessments.

The US military may have manipulated intelligence reports to create a more positive picture of its campaigns in Afghanistan, as well as against ISIL, according to recent reports.

Many of the concerns appear to be coming from intelligence officials inside the Defense Department, including Gregory Hooker, who resigned after blowing the whistle on the reports.

"A lot of the analysts at Centcom feel the high command has been sugarcoating their assessments," former senior intelligence official Gregory Hooker told Foreign Policy.

Many of the documents investigated are classified and some are said to have been destroyed before being forwarded to investigators. According to Hooker, the manipulations may have been made to such an extent that they even crossed a customary boundary between the military and intelligence agencies.

The cited manipulations included labeling Iraqi army retreats as "redeployments," according to the New York Times. The Iraqi army suffered considerable blows in 2014, when it lost Mosul, the country's third-biggest city, in just six days.

Rebelling analysts said that the military assessments glossed over important factors in ISIL's rise, such as political and religious divisions in Iraqi society.

The investigation may also undermine statistics released by the US Defense Department on its campaign against ISIL. The US military began publishing infographics detailing its successes against ISIL after Russia began a major airstrike operation against the group in Syria after a request by the country' government.

The US military initially responded with warnings against the Russian operation against ISIL in Syria, although the two bodies now have a direct line to coordinate their operations.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Keeping A Lid On Things

44 has been inclined to reject options that don’t promise to “solve” the problems of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East. He doesn’t want to send troops only to put “a lid on things.”

In this respect, he is entranced, like most Americans, by the image of the decisive engagement followed by the victorious return home. But that happy picture is a myth. Even after the iconic American victory in World War II, the U.S. didn’t come home.

Keeping a lid on things is exactly what the U.S. has done these past 70 years. That is how the U.S. created this liberal world order.

In Asia, American forces have kept a lid on what had been, and would likely be again, a dangerous multisided conflict involving China, Japan, Korea, India and who knows who else. In Europe, American forces put a lid on what had been a chronic state of insecurity and war, making it possible to lay the foundations of the European Union. In the Balkans, the presence of U.S. and European troops has kept a lid on what had been an escalating cycle of ethnic conflict. In Libya, a similar international force, with even a small American contingent, could have kept the lid on that country’s boiling caldron, perhaps long enough to give a new, more inclusive government a chance.

Preserving a liberal world order and international security is all about placing lids on regions of turmoil. In any case, as my Brookings Institution colleague Thomas Wright observes, whether or not you want to keep a lid on something really ought to depend on what’s under the lid.

At practically any other time in the last 70 years, the idea of dispatching even 50,000 troops to fight an organization of Islamic State’s description would not have seemed too risky or too costly to most Americans. 

 41, now revered as a judicious and prudent leader, sent half a million troops across the globe to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, a country that not one American in a million could find on a map and which the U.S. had no obligation to defend. In 1989, he sent 30,000 troops to invade Panama to topple an illegitimate, drug-peddling dictator. During the Cold War, when presidents sent more than 300,000 troops to Korea and more than 500,000 troops to Vietnam, the idea of sending 50,000 troops to fight a large and virulently anti-American terrorist organization that had seized territory in the Middle East, and from that territory had already launched a murderous attack on a major Western city, would have seemed barely worth an argument.

Not today. Americans remain paralyzed by Iraq, Republicans almost as  much as Democrats, and 44 is both the political beneficiary and the living symbol of this paralysis. Whether he has the desire or capacity to adjust to changing circumstances is an open question.  
Other presidents have—from 28 to 32 to 42 —each of whom was forced to recalibrate what the loss or fracturing of Europe would mean to American interests. 44's case, however, such a late-in-the-game recalculation seems less likely. He may be the first president since the end of World War II who simply doesn’t care what happens to Europe.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Weimarer Verhältnisse!


In the early 1930s, Germany’s first parliamentary democracy, the “Weimarer Republik,” was put under fatal pressure by economic depression, unemployment affecting 6 million people, political violence on the streets and a dysfunctional parliamentary system. When the Nazi party was about to take over, democratic self-defense proved to be insufficient. A majority of average Germans sat on their hands, tacitly anti-democratic or pro-authoritarian.

In German, “Weimarer Verhältnisse” is just another way of saying the beginning of the end.

The public mood is turning sour these days in Germany and much of the summer’s euphoria has vanished. So far, the authorities haven’t got the refugee crisis under control on a European, national or regional level. Public debate is being vulgarized. Right-wing extremists draw more and more public support. So where is Germany heading?

This year the number of refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany may end up being four- to five-times higher than last year. The number of attacks on refugee shelters has more than tripled and each one is, in the words of Justice Minister Heiko Maas, an “attack on our democracy.”

If the number of refugees does not drop any time soon, Merkel will tighten up German asylum regulations as another government did almost 25 years ago. Some restrictions have already been put in place. It will surely entail a fierce political crisis. But there will be no “Weimarer Verhältnisse” because of refugees or some xenophobic reaction to them. There will be no collapse of public order or collective decency.

Unfortunately, something else which is equally important might fall apart instead.

Right now, Germans mostly blame the chancellor for what is happening, even though the breakdown of inner-EU regulation and solidarity bears at least as much responsibility. Merkel hasn’t yet joined in the type of “beggar-my-neighbor” policy that most other member states have opted for. But her reluctance to do so won’t last forever.

Soon the U.K. government will officially start negotiating a “new relationship” with the EU. This will bring up uneasy questions in Germany, too. Why are we the biggest net contributor to all Brussels budgets — but don’t get much solidarity in return when we need it? What does it say about Europe if neither France, nor the U.K., nor Poland, nor Hungary care much what a critical moment the Union is facing? Why should Germany keep on being the honest broker if all other member states just look out for their national interest?

We are not far from the point of no return when Germany will withdraw to the same pitiful level of strategic involvement as the U.K.

If Prime Minister David Cameron strikes what he thinks to be a good deal for his country, a significant number of German politicians might fall in love with the British way of doing Europe: no more ambitions of an “ever closer” political union, no more “European Germany” — just boundless business and some political cooperation only when there is an immediate payoff.

As an island in the sea, the U.K. is free to turn its back on the European Union and to dismiss the idea of a bloc of nations willing to pool a large part of their sovereignty. But what if Germany, right in the center of the continent, did the same?

Clearly, it would change Europe a lot more than a couple of million refugees from war-torn Syria. It would not bring back “Weimar conditions” in my country, but it would revive the “German question” in the heart of old Europe.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dancing With Devils

44 and other Western leaders desperate to resolve the conflict in Syria should keep in mind that the enemy of your enemy can also be your enemy.

 For the U.S. and the West, allying with Iran, Mr. Putin’s Russia and the Assad regime would be morally repugnant, strategically disastrous and entirely unnecessary. The immorality of such an alliance is self-evident: The U.S. officially designates Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terror.

The argument in favor of such an alliance cites the World War II precedent that the Allies joined Stalin to defeat Hitler. The comparison is inapt. First, NATO doesn’t need the help of Mr. Putin or Iran to defeat ISIS; NATO simply needs the resolve to do it. Second, such an alliance would only undermine the effort. Seeing the U.S. working with Mr. Assad and the Shiites of Iran—who essentially control Baghdad, too—would further convince the region’s Sunnis that they have no choice but to turn to ISIS for protection.

Americans above all should realize the importance of the Sunnis. The 2007 U.S. military surge in Iraq was so successful because it included the protection and recruitment of Sunni tribes to fight Sunni extremists. The Obama administration’s hasty exit from Iraq left the Sunnis at the mercy of a hostile Shiite government in Baghdad. Conditions were made ripe for the rise of Islamic State.

Even with France’s stepped-up bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria, and U.S. vows to intensify its own bombing effort, the fact remains: You can’t win hearts and minds from 30,000 feet. The problem with an air-power-only offensive is not only that you don’t always kill the right people, but that you can’t protect anyone. The people of Syria and Iraq need the protection and stability that will starve ISIS of its main source of recruits. No bombs, whether American or French, can provide that. Airstrikes will inspire as many ISIS volunteers as they kill, while also creating countless new refugees. Destroying infrastructure makes the refugees’ eventual return less likely.

“Boots on the ground” is the phrase that must never be mentioned, but mention it we must. Anything less than a major U.S. and NATO-led ground offensive against ISIS will be a guarantee of continued failure and more terror attacks in the West. It is immoral to continue putting civilians—Syrian and Western alike—instead of soldiers on the front line against terrorists.

Pacifying the region and protecting its people from the predation of terrorists and brutal dictatorships is the only path left. It is also the only way to ever repatriate the millions of refugees the Syrian civil war has created. We must support these people now, not watch from afar as they are slaughtered and enslaved, paying attention only when the horror makes its way into our capitals. Our fate is tied to theirs.

Heartfelt expressions of solidarity and candlelight vigils for the victims won’t stop ISIS unless that goodwill is turned to action. Playing defense is hopeless. The world today is too small, the threats too big. The only solution is to fight the problem at its source. You cannot have liberté, égalité, fraternité without sécurité.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

France, Alone

A properly mounted, properly manned, and properly equipped western army probably could dispatch Isil's caliphate reasonably quickly, if it were prepared to inflict and sustain the casualties normal in traditional warfare.

But if France has that in mind, the evidence suggests she'll be on her own.

•The Americans - and the British at least among their allies - want Isil to go but think it will take a properly trained ground force to get rid of it and are not prepared to commit troops, for domestic political reasons. 44, additionally, believes that there is no point defeating Isil while the conditions that led to its rise are in place, such as localised sectarian conflict, though he has no real notion of how to get rid of those conditions.

•Some elements in the Iraqi government may genuinely want to see the country reunited at all costs but others realise that if the Sunnis in Iraq return to the national fold the Shia majority will have to share power with them. Currently, Shia supremacist parties hold sway. These Shia parties are linked to the Shia militias that are fighting Isil on the ground - but signally failing to attack them in Sunni Arab strongholds like Fallujah and Mosul.

•The Assad regime's strategy presumably sees it eventually taking on Isil, but over most of the civil war its main enemy has been non-Isil rebels, who pose a more direct threat to regime heartlands. Having Isil fight them simultaneously has not been a bad thing.

•The Iranians don’t want Isil to gain ground but having a Sunni bogeyman, for whose existence they can blame their Sunni foes in the Gulf, has a certain use. The existence of Isil also prevents Sunni Arab states presenting a united face against their own ambitions.

•The Gulf states want to keep Isil down but they also see Isil as a lesser enemy than Iran, and certainly aren’t going to waste forces attacking fellow Sunnis that they could be using to fight Shia proxies in Yemen.

•Russia has ruled out sending ground troops, and has mostly targeted non-Isil rebels with its bombing campaign, since it believes the priority is to preserve the Assad regime. As these rebels are also fighting Isil, this has had the unfortunate effect of actually helping Isil advance in some areas, even as it cedes ground to Russian-backed regime forces in others.

•Turkey has made clear its main enemy is the Kurdish PKK, rather than Isil.

•The Kurds have a track record of success against Isil in both Iraq and Syria - thanks in part to their alliance with the US and other western air forces. But they have little interest in pushing beyond Kurdish territory. In Iraq, the Peshmerga took Sinjar last week, not Mosul.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Raqqa Roll!

Since 44's contained JV team acted out murderously in Paris is it time to go all out on ISIS/ISIL/IS?

 If this attack in the heart of a major Western capital represents the beginning of a new phase in the combat between ISIS and the civilized world, the question going forward is what kind of war will it be? What can be done not just to control and contain the threat? That approach by Washington and its allies clearly has not worked. There was nothing controlled or contained about what happened here.

Put together a force of 6,000 or 7,000 airborne soldiers and just take Raqqa. Don’t issue warnings. Don’t assemble tank columns. Train the force, then use it.

ROE's need to be liberally re evaluated even as ISIS is embedded among the civilian population....

They are representing the civilian population, at least those who have remained and sometimes profited from the group’s presence. They are not enslaving them. And a war is a war.

True enough!

Tactical delights are always open for free inquiry, sure Air Power is awesome no doubt, yet it's gon take American Joes in the hood to put paid to it.

Arab League is notorious for militaries that can torment unarmed populace and protesters (often the same thing, right?) yet can't fight a set piece battle. Bundeswehr, Armee de terre, IDF and British Army are 1st class cats yet haven't truly the depth in force and logistics to mount and maintain a 90 day blitz.

The strategic goal should be to annihilate ISIS, seize, hold and keep oilfields and at the same incredible instant fire up the PR machine to meet the new facts on the ground - a free and independent Kurdistan.

Other cats in the hood may howl with displeasure at such an imperial type action and that is all on them. Turkey especially.

Aegypt, Jordan, Whahabbi Arabia and the Ottomans could have hooked up eons ago to take out the trash, for whatever reasons - they didn't.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Viva la France

M'suer Presidente...

My dear compatriots,

At this moment, as I speak to you, terrorist attacks of an unprecedented level are underway in the Paris area.

There are dozens dead. There are many injured. It is a horror.

We have, on my decision, mobilized all forces possible so that we can neutralize the terrorist threat and secure all the areas that could be affected. I have also asked for military reinforcements in the Paris area to ensure that another attack can take place. I have also called a cabinet ministry meeting that will be held in a few minutes.

Two decisions will be taken: a state of emergency will be declared, which means that some places will be closed, traffic may be banned, and there will also be searches which may be decided throughout Île-de-France [greater Paris]. The state of emergency will be proclaimed throughout the territory [of France].

The second decision I have made is the closure of borders. We must ensure that no one enters to commit any crimes and that those who have committed the crimes that we have unfortunately seen can also be arrested if they should leave the territory.

This is a terrible ordeal which once again assails us. We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.

In these difficult moments, we must -- and I’m thinking of the many victims, their families, and the injured -- show compassion and solidarity. But we must also show unity and calm. Faced with terror, France must be strong, she must be great, and the state authorities must be firm. We will be. We must also call on everyone to be responsible.

What the terrorists want is to scare us and fill us with dread. There is indeed reason to be afraid. There is dread, but in the face of this dread, there is a nation that knows how to defend itself, that knows how to mobilize its forces and, once again, will defeat the terrorists.

French citizens, we have not completed the operations. There are still some that are extremely difficult. It’s at this moment that the security forces are staging an assault, notably in a place in Paris.

I ask you to keep all your trust in what we can do with the security forces to protect our nation from terrorist acts.

Long live the Republic and long live France.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


WoW - the Watchers Council- it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Friday, November 13, 2015

USS Massachusetts

Anchors Away!

US Navy is fixing to get the SSN 798 - the newest USS Massachusetts! 

The submarine will be named to honor the history its namesake state has with the Navy. This history extends to 1775, before the official founding of the United States, to the time when George Washington founded the Continental Navy in an effort to protect the 13 colonies from British attack. By 1800, six years after the establishment of the Department of the Navy, one of its first 14 ship yards was incorporated in Boston. And in 1836, The Boston Naval Hospital, one of the first of three hospitals dedicated solely to the care of naval personnel, opened.

The future USS Massachusetts will be the fifth Navy vessel to serve under that name; the first, a wooden steamer, was a privately owned ship built in Boston in 1845 and purchased by the War Department in 1847. It served as a troop transport for the Army before being transferred to the Department of the Navy in 1849. Before being decommissioned in 1852, it served by scouting potential sites for lighthouses on the West Coast. After being recommissioned in 1854, it transported guns and ammunition during the Puget Sound War. Five years later, it was transferred back to the Army to cruise the Puget Sound providing protection for the inhabitants of the region. In 1862, it was transferred back to the Navy and a year later was converted to a storeship serving in this capacity until its final decommission in 1867.

The second Massachusetts, built in 1860, also in Boston, was bought and commissioned by the Navy in 1861. She was an iron screw steamer whose service spanned for the entire Civil War. A day after joining her squadron in Pensacola, Florida, Massachusetts took her first British ship, Perthshire. Over the course of the next month, Massachusetts overpowered seven more ships of Mexican and Confederate origins. Her record continued along these lines until the end of the year when she worked at intercepting Confederate freight shipments in Ship Island's passage until early 1862 when she was decommissioned in New York. She commissioned again in April of that year and served as a supply ship until December when she decommissioned again. In 1863, she recommissioned and continued defeating Confederate ships until the end of the war in 1865.

The third ship to bear the name had a long history. A battleship commissioned in 1896, it spent the first two years of its service conducting training exercises off the Atlantic coast before being assigned to blockade duties in Cuba in 1898. There she bombarded a Spanish cruiser and multiple fortifications. A couple of months later, Massachusetts returned to her duties cruising the Atlantic Coast for about seven years before briefly becoming a training ship for the Naval Academy. Shortly thereafter she began a pattern of being decommissioned and recommissioned to serve as a training ship before moving to Yorktown, Virginia in 1918 to become a heavy gun target practice ship until the end of World War I. A year later, Massachusetts was decommissioned for a final time.

The final Massachusetts was a battleship commissioned during the middle of World War II, in 1942. Within days of being launched, she had joined the conflict off the coast of North Africa and sunk two French ships. In addition, she played a vital role during the war for her defense against the Japanese, largely through her participation in fleet and air strikes. She was decommissioned in 1947, but received 11 Battle Stars for her actions and has been preserved in Fall River, Massachusetts as a memorial for those who served in World War II.

Virginia-class attack submarines provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.

These submarines have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They are also designed for special forces delivery and support.

Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. They are designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The submarine will be built under a unique teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding division wherein both companies build certain portions of each submarine and then alternate deliveries. Massachusetts will be delivered by Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding.

Thursday, November 12, 2015



China’s first indigenously developed fifth-generation fighter jet had its international debut at this year’s Dubai Air Show, China Military Online reports. According to the website, this was the first time that the FC-31 “Gyrfalcon” (aka J-31) was exhibited overseas.

At the air show the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is trying to pitch the FC-31 as an alternative to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, however, with limited success so far.

As of now, only the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has expressed interest and is “in negotiations” with AVIC to buy the aircraft, according to an AVIC project manager. Other potential customers include Iran and Pakistan.
AVIC representatives at the air show praised the aircraft’s “outstanding situational awareness” and emphasized that the FC-31 is designed for “the demands of future battlefield environments,” Defense News reports.

The aircraft design is believed to have been stolen from the American-made F-35 in April 2009 when Chinese hackers breached the networks of U.S. defense contractor Lockheed-Martin and obtained access to the blueprints of the plane.

Indeed, the FC-31s airframe resembles that of the F-35. Like the F-35, the FC-31 also has two internal weapons bays that can carry guided and unguided weapons. Overall, the aircraft allegedly can carry 3.600 kilograms of payload–910 kilograms internally and 2,700 kilograms externally under its wings.

Other similarities are more subtle. For example, the FC-31s electro-optical targeting system, dubbed EOTS-89, resembles that of the F-35. “The similarity includes the use of two tracking mirrors and a flat-facetted optical window, with bottom fuselage placement just aft the radar radome,” according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

However, most aircraft experts believe that China’s stealth aircraft, billed as a fifth-generation fighter, cannot compete with the American fighter jet, although any unclassified assessment of the aircraft’s performance is highly speculative at this stage given the sparsity of information publicly available.

The prototype of the twin-engine aircraft is equipped with the Russian Klimov 8.29-ton thrust RD-33 turbofan. Some reports indicate that China is working on developing an improved version of the WS-13 Taishan turbofan, itself a derivative of the Russian-made Klimov RD-33 turbofan.

A prototype of the FC-31 first flew in October 2012. The aircraft’s first public flight demonstration occurred during the Zhuhai Air Show in China last year. The first flight of the production aircraft is slated for 2019. AVIC plans an initial operational capability by 2022. The stealth fighter jet is supposed to reach full operational capability in 2024.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day!

The 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Imperial Germany gave up the ghost. America's 1st regime change in the new century. Armistice Day for the War to End all Wars, entirely achieved by the addition of the Great Satan's spiritual fore fathers to an entente of desperate states.

Conscripting an army of free men, America deployed 2 million troops to save Europe from a Prussian military machine that was the world's best - until they hooked up with the Great Satan in combat. Places like
Chateau-Thierry and Bellau Wood decisively crushed Teutonicism. Deutschland screamed "GOD! PLEASE! STOP!"

extensive remixed v2.0 released 27 years later as Veteran's Day.

Americans should get on their knees and thank God Almighty for
raising up this laughing race of freemen.

Americans energetically pursue commerce, science, medicine, technology and the arts. When these designs are halted by conflict, they energetically pursue absolute, decisive, and ruthless destruction of their enemies. After visiting violence and securing victory they energetically return to the pursuit of commerce, science, medicine, technology and the arts.

One of Great Satan"s High Holy Days -
The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans' organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.
The Veterans Day National Committee also selects a number of regional sites for Veterans Day observances throughout the country. From stirring parades and ceremonies to military exhibits and tributes to distinguished veterans, these events serve as models for other communities to follow in planning their own observances.
Their name legion, for they are thousands. From Bunker Hill to Chickamauga, from Midway to Fallujah.

America's veterans put their lives on hold, deploy overseas, incinerate our enemies, return home and continue to build this awesome place.

and the world can never thank ya'll enough.

Pic - "America's Victories"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gitmo Gone?

Is the the administration fixing to do away with Gitmo? Specifically - the detention of creepy terrorist combatants?

The Pentagon's plan outlining the long-stalled effort to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, expected in the coming week, includes details suggesting that the Centennial Correctional Facility in Colorado is one suitable site to send detainees whom officials believe should never be released, administration officials said.

The plan represents a last-gasp effort by the Obama administration to convince staunch opponents in Congress that dangerous detainees who can't be transferred safely to other countries should be housed in a U.S.-based prison.

According to administration officials, the plan makes no recommendations on which of seven U.S. sites is preferred and provides no rankings. But it lists the prison sites in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas that a Pentagon assessment team reviewed in recent months and mentions advantages and disadvantages for the facilities. Those elements can include the facilities' locations, costs for renovations and construction, the ability to house troops and hold military commission hearings, and health care facilities.

The Centennial facility has advantages that could outweigh the disadvantages there, according to officials, but no details were available and no conclusions have been reached. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Any decision to select a U.S. facility would require congressional approval — something U.S. lawmakers say is unlikely. At the same time, dangerous prisoners are not new to Colorado. The Supermax in Florence, Colorado, which has been dubbed "Alcatraz of the Rockies," already holds convicted terrorists, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the conspirators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Pentagon plan also lays out the broader effort to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo, through transfers to other countries. The center now holds 112 detainees, and 53 are eligible for transfer. The rest are either facing trial by military commission or the government has determined that they are too dangerous to release but are not facing charges.

In order to approve a transfer, Defense Secretary Ash Carter must conclude that the detainees will not return to terrorism or the battlefield upon release and that there is a host country willing to take them and guarantee they will secure them.

The facilities reviewed by the assessment team were the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Midwest Joint Regional Corrections Facility at Leavenworth, Kansas; the Consolidated Naval Brig, Charleston, South Carolina; the Federal Correctional Complex, which includes the medium, maximum and supermax facilities in Florence, Colorado; and the Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City, Colorado, also known as the Centennial Correctional Facility.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Ard al-Akrad!

Ever since the Islamic State group began to lay claim to large stretches of territory in Syria and Iraq, conventional wisdom has dictated that the Kurds, even while relentlessly opposing the jihadist group, stand to benefit from the disintegration of state authority in the two countries.

During the summer of 2014, when Iraqi troops abandoned their posts in the northern city of Kirkuk, it was Kurdish peshmerga forces that stepped in to defend the oil-rich enclave from the advances of ISIS. "Six Iraqi divisions melted like the snow," said Masoud Barzani, president of the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in an interview later that year with The New Yorker. "I saw it in an opportunistic way."

Indeed, be it in Iraq, where the Kurds have served as the tip of the Iraqi spear against ISIS, or in Syria, where Kurdish rebel forces have become an invaluable American ally, it would appear that each ISIS defeat has created an opportunity for Kurds across the region.

"The Kurds, despite their large numbers (about 30 million worldwide), as well as their shared language, culture and identity, have never had a nation. But they're getting closer to one with every battle," wrote Time's Karl Vick earlier this year.

So, have the Kurds -- the largest ethnic group in the world still without a state -- altered the so-called facts on the ground? Has the Kurdish moment finally arrived?

Not so fast, writes Denise Natali of the Institute for National Strategic Studies. While the Kurdish government of northern Iraq appears to have laid the foundation for statehood, the region "remains a landlocked, quasi-state entity lacking external sovereignty." Natali goes on:

"This condition means that the degree and nature of Kurdish autonomy, including any potential for independence, is not determined by unilateral decisions made by Kurdish elites but rather by the demands, deals, and incentive structures brokered by powerful regional states and non-state actors."

Moreover, while Iraqi Kurdistan is rich in oil, it lacks the infrastructure to deliver crude to world markets, placing unilateral energy deals reached with neighboring Turkey, for example, on a shaky legal foundation:

"Because the Kurdistan Region is not a sovereign entity and continues to rely on Iraqi pipeline infrastructure, its exports are not fully independent. Baghdad retains international legal rights over oil flows and revenues from the [Iraq-Turkey Pipeline] based on the 2010 pipeline Tariff Agreement negotiated with Turkey -- and has already filed litigation against Ankara at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. It has also threatened to penalize [oil] and shipping companies that purchase Kurdish crude apart from [Baghdad], reinforcing the legal risks and opaque nature of KRG oil exports and sales. Moreover, Baghdad has cut the KRG budget (except for monthly food allocations), which represents 95 percent of the KRG's operating expenses."

Erbil's ongoing dispute with Baghdad over oil revenue sharing -- in addition to a growing refugee crisis -- has put a crunch on the flailing Kurdish economy, which had already been plagued by corruption and cronyism. A brewing succession crisis has only made matters worse within the KRG. Recent calls by rival political factions for Barzani to step down -- his presidential term ended in August -- have resulted in protests and violence.

The prospects for Kurdish statehood appear no better in neighboring Syria. While Kurdish YPG forces have taken on a key role in the United States' war against ISIS, there is virtually no chance that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- emboldened by his party's decisive victory in last weekend's parliamentary elections -- will allow any gains made by Syria's Kurds to evolve into a sovereign state. Turkish affairs expert Aaron Stein explains:

"Turkey's strategy is independent of the U.S. reliance on the YPG for operations east of Euphrates. This new AKP government is likely to continue with this program to provide rebels with weapons, particularly now that Russia has intervened on behalf of the Assad regime. The new Turkish government is also likely to continue to put pressure on the United States to adopt its preferred policy in Syria: the formation of a 110-kilometer-wide buffer zone extending up to 33 kilometers south into Aleppo province.

"This zone would provide a safe haven for refugees and a key area for the anti-Assad rebels to back-base. This proposed zone would also be free of the YPG, which Ankara accuses of indirectly bolstering the Assad regime by working at cross-purposes to the insurgency. Turkey has made one thing very clear: It will not tolerate a YPG presence west of the Euphrates, and will therefore not accept a Kurdish-led offensive on the ISIS-held city of Jarablus, or any YPG-led effort to unite its territory with the Kurdish-controlled enclave in Efrin in northwestern Syria."

The Kurds, in conclusion, may once again end up the victims of great power posturing, much as they did at the conclusion of World War I. Kurdish ambitions will continue to be tempered and curtailed so long as Ankara and Baghdad continue to play important roles in the plans of larger regional actors.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


WoW - the Watchers Council- it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Supreme Leader Explains "Death To America"

Rahbar-e enghelab!

Persia's illegit Supreme Leader for Life did a bit of 'splaining on his own web site about "Death to America"

The slogan "Death to America" is not aimed at the American people, but rather American policies.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed the slogan while meeting with Iranian students ahead of the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979. Militant students stormed the compound and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Khamenei says the "aim of the slogan is not death to American people. The slogan means death to U.S. policies and arrogance." The slogan has "strong support" In Iran, he said.

Khamenei and hard-liners in the Iranian government remain deeply suspicious of the United States and view its policies a threat to the country.

He reiterated his warning that the U.S. is not to be trusted despite the nuclear deal reached with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. The agreement promises Tehran relief from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Khamenei also expressed his apparent belief that the U.S. "will not hesitate" if given a chance to destroy Iran.

"The nature of the U.S. attitude is continuation of the same hostile aims from the past, and the nation will not forget this," Khamenei said.

However, anti-American sentiment is rife in Iran. As every year, ahead of the anniversary, the Tehran municipality displays anti-American posters and billboards along the Iranian capital's main squares and key streets.

One such billboard this year — at Tehran's Vali-e asr Square — represents a mock-up of the historic and Pulitzer Prize-winning 1945 "Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima" photo by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, one of the iconic images from World War II. Except in the billboard, the hands of the Marines are stained red from blood and instead of rocks and stones, the U.S. troops are standing on a pile of corpses.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Coming Indo - Pakistan War

Nishan E Haider!

The Indian subcontinent — home to both India and Pakistan — remains among the most dangerous corners of the world, and continues to pose a deep threat to global stability and the current world order. Their 1,800-mile border is the only place in the world where two hostile, nuclear-armed states face off every day. And the risk of nuclear conflict has only continued to rise in the past few years, to the point that it is now a very real possibility.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence in 1947, including one that ended in 1971 with Pakistan losing approximately half its territory (present-day Bangladesh). Today, the disputed Line of Control that divides the disputed Kashmir region remains a particularly tense flash point. Both the Kargil crisis of 1999 and the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament by Pakistan-supported militants brought both nations once again to the brink of war. Yet unlike earlier major wars, these two crises occurred after both India and Pakistan became nuclear-armed states. Quick and forceful diplomatic intervention played a pivotal role in preventing a larger conflict from erupting during each crisis.

These stakes are even higher, and more dangerous, today.
Since 2004, India has been developing a new military doctrine called Cold Start, a limited war option designed largely to deter Islamabad from sponsoring irregular attacks against New Delhi. It involves rapid conventional retaliation after any such attack, launching a number of quick armored assaults into Pakistan and rapidly securing limited objectives that hypothetically remain below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. In accordance with this doctrine, the Indian military is meant to mobilize half a million troops in less than 72 hours.
The problem is, unlike its neighbors India and China, Pakistan has not renounced the first use of nuclear weapons. Instead, Pakistani leaders have stated that they may have to use nuclear weapons first in order to defend against a conventional attack from India. Therefore, both to counter Cold Start and help to offset India’s growing conventional superiority, Pakistan has accelerated its nuclear weapons program — and begun to field short-range, low yield tactical nuclear weapons (TNW). Some observers now judge this nuclear program to be the fastest growing in the world. Pakistan will reportedly have enough fissile material by 2020 to build more than 200 nuclear warheads — more than the United Kingdom plans to have by that time.
It is not simply the pace of the buildup that should cause concern. Pakistan’s arsenal of short-range tactical nuclear weapons is a game-changer in other ways. Pakistan clearly intends to use these weapons — on its own soil if necessary — to counter Cold Start’s plan for sudden Indian armored thrusts into Pakistan. The introduction of these weapons has altered the long-standing geometry between the two nuclear powers, and increases risk of escalation to a nuclear exchange in a crisis.
Beyond the risks of runaway nuclear escalation, Pakistan’s growing tactical nuclear weapons program also brings a wide array of other destabilizing characteristics to this already unstable mix: the necessity to position these short-range weapons close to the border with India, making them more vulnerable to interdiction; the need to move and disperse these weapons during a crisis, thereby signaling a nuclear threat; and the prospects of local commanders being given decentralized control of the weapons — a “use it or lose it” danger if facing an Indian armored offensive. Furthermore, large numbers of small nuclear weapons scattered at different locations increases the risk that some will fall into the hands of violent extremists. A terrorist group gaining control of a nuclear weapon remains one of the most frightening potential spinoffs of the current arms race.
Perhaps the most dangerous scenario that could lead to catastrophe is a replay of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. In November 2008, 10 terrorists launched attacks that left 166 people dead before the last of attackers were finally killed by Indian security forces almost 60 hours after the attacks began. By that time, there was strong evidence that the attackers were Pakistani and belonged to a Pakistan-supported militant group. Indian public outrage and humiliation were overwhelming. Only through the combination of diplomatic pressure from the United States and immense restraint exerted by then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was an Indian retaliatory strike averted.
A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would dramatically alter the world as we know it. The damage from fallout and blast, the deaths of potentially millions, and the environmental devastation of even a few weapons detonations would suddenly dwarf any other global problem. There are no shortage of conflicts and crises around the world demanding the attention of policymakers in Washington and other capitals. But the stakes of a war between two of the world’s most hostile nuclear powers deserves attention before the next inevitable flare-up. Taking a series of modest steps now to try to avert the worst outcomes from this dangerous pink flamingo hiding in plain sight is an investment well worth making.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Syrian Dogfights!

Suriya al Kubra!

The U.S. Air Force is deploying to Turkey up to a dozen jet fighters specializing in air-to-air combat—apparently to help protect other U.S. and allied jets from Russia’s own warplanes flying over Syria.

Officially, the deployment of F-15C Eagle twin-engine fighters to Incirlik, Turkey—which the Pentagon announced late last week—is meant to “ensure the safety” of America’s NATO allies

That could mean that the single-seat F-15s and the eight air-to-air missiles they routinely carry will help the Turkish air force patrol Turkey’s border with Syria, intercepting Syrian planes and helicopters that periodically stray into Turkish territory.

But more likely, the F-15s will be escorting attack planes and bombers as they strike ISIS militants in close proximity to Syrian regime forces and the Russian warplanes that, since early October, have bombed ISIS and U.S.-backed rebels fighting the Syrian troops.

Russia’s air wing in western Syria is notable for including several Su-30 fighters that are primarily air-to-air fighters. The Su-30s’ arrival in Syria raised eyebrows, as Moscow insists its forces are only fighting ISIS, but ISIS has no aircraft of its own for the Su-30s to engage.

The F-15s the U.S. Air Force is sending to Turkey will be the first American warplanes in the region that are strictly aerial fighters. The other fighters, attack planes and bombers the Pentagon has deployed—including F-22s, F-16s, A-10s and B-1s—carry bombs and air-to-ground missiles and have focused on striking militants on the ground.

In stark contrast, the F-15s only carry air-to-air weaponry, and their pilots train exclusively for shooting down enemy warplanes. It’s worth noting that F-15Cs have never deployed to Afghanistan, nor did they participate in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. The war in Syria is different.

The dogfighters are part of a broader escalation of the air war over Syria. In addition to jets in Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, and Navy and Marine planes aboard aircraft carriers, the U.S. Air Force recently added A-10 attack jets and rescue planes and helicopters at Incirlik in Turkey.

Incirlik and its growing contingent of warplanes is the key to a new northern strategy in the U.S. campaign against ISIS, yet the Pentagon has not said it will enforce a no-fly zone over northern Syria in order to protect pro-U.S. rebels from Syrian—and Russian—warplanes.

Such a zone could compel F-15s and other U.S. planes to directly confront Russian planes, even though—in theory—both air forces are attacking ISIS. Russia and the United States do make efforts to steer their jets away away from possible collisions, but otherwise do not collaborate in their separate air wars in Syria.

Instead, American and Russian pilots and air controllers keep wary eyes on each other as they conduct independent and occasionally conflicting bombing raids.

And now the United States will have fighter jets in Syria whose main job could be to watch out for Russians.