Sunday, May 20, 2018

More Changes Coming To The U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. George McArthur

Popular Mechanics: The Marine Corps Is Changing the Way It Does Business To Win the Battles of 2025

Changes will keep the USMC on warfare's cutting edge.

The U.S. Marine Corps is changing the size and makeup of the Marine infantry squad, making drone and counter-drone specialists a permanent part of the force structure, and bringing back tank and artillery units that had been deactivated to save money. It's a series of moves meant to keep the force as agile and deadly as ever.

Stars and Stripes reports that the changes are the result of two years of internal experimentation within USMC. Marine Corps Force 2025 and Sea Dragon 2025 were two forward-looking programs that studied the future of warfare, particularly with regards to unmanned systems, small unit lethality, and what it would take to prevail on the battlefields of 2025. The results will be implemented across all Marine infantry units, with a completion date of roughly 2024.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In a nutshell ..... they want units to be smaller, quicker, and more lethal.

These Are The Future Weapons That The U.S. Army Needs

(Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell, 210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

We Are The Mighty: 6 exciting future weapons the Army needs next

Within a decade, if not sooner, leap-ahead technologies like lasers, hypersonic weapons, mobile and secure networks, and unmanned/autonomous air and ground vehicles will likely reside in combat formations, said the Army's secretary.

Peer threats from China and Russia — nations also developing these technologies — make fielding these systems absolutely necessary, said Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, who spoke May 16, 2018, at the Center for a New American Security here.

The secretary provided a glimpse into some of these new capabilities that the Army is developing, in partnership with industry, as part of its six modernization priorities.

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WNU Editor: In a nutshell .... The U.S. Army already has all of these systems in their inventory, they just want to improve and modernize it to be even better.

The U.S. Army Wants to Improve And Increase It's Artillery And Missile System Range

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Gabrielle Weaver)

We Are The Mighty: How the Army will revolutionize long-range precision fires

In kick-starting its efforts to prepare for future high-end conflicts, in late 2017, the U.S. Army identified six modernization priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicles, Future Vertical Lift, the Network, Air and Missile Defense, and Soldier Lethality. To support this plan, the Army stood up Cross-Functional Teams (CFTs) for each of these areas focused on speeding up the process of developing requirements and ensuring that the programs in each of these areas are achievable, affordable and effective. The bulk of the Army's Science and Technology resources were refocused on these six priorities.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This has become a priority for the US Army .... How to Read the Army's Budget Request for More Precision Ordnance (The New York Times). On a side note .... the Russians have always regarded long-range precision fire as their advantage. There is very little in the public domain on Chinese efforts to improve their long range artillery.

The U.S. Marines Have Received Their First CH-53K King Stallion Helicopter

The Warzone/The Drive: The Marines Have Finally Received Their First Monster CH-53K King Stallion Helicopter

Now the service is looking for ways to trim back the massively expensive helicopter's costs as it works to get its first unit operational in 2019.

The U.S. Marine Corps has taken delivery of its first CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter. After years of setbacks and delays, and amid new concerns about schedule slips, the service is still hoping to eventually buy as many as 200 of the choppers to replace its fleet of aging and increasingly unreliable CH-53E Super Stallions.

On May 16, 2018, the initial Marine CH-53K touched down at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina. Sikorsky, now part of Lockheed Martin, built the helicopter, which is now set to begin a so-called "Supportability Test Plan" to help determine the logistical requirements to maintain and sustain the aircraft. The Marines expect to reach initial operational capability with the type by the end of 2019.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: At a cost of $122 million per unit ($80 million per unit when production begins to build 200 of them) .... they are not cheap. But something has to replace the increasingly unreliable CH-53E Super Stallions.

Democracy Continues Its Disturbing Decline

WNU editor: This trend has unfortunately been happening for a very long time.

This Is How The U.S. Could Be Drawn Into Intervening And Stabilizing Venezuela

Opposition supporters clash with riot police during a rally against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Veron

Michael Carvelli, RCD/The Bridge: How a Venezuelan Collapse Could Draw in the United States

It appears Venezuela is heading towards a political and economic collapse. President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party lost its majority in the National Assembly during the 2015 parliamentary election. In March of this year, Venezuela’s Supreme Court announced that it was taking over the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Maduro’s party is continuing to consolidate its domestic power. Meanwhile, the country is running out of food, hospitals are overcrowded, and electricity is not guaranteed. The results of this political and economic turmoil could plausibly create a destabilizing situation in the Western Hemisphere.

The history of Venezuela’s recent turn to turmoil is not a short tale. President Hugo Chavez’s election in 1999 marked the beginning of deep changes in the country’s ideology. His ideology, and that of his successor, President Maduro, have shifted the country’s government towards socialism, further fracturing the domestic balance of power. As perhaps the most unstable government in South America a collapse of the Venezuelan government, and the resulting uncertainty could draw the U.S. and its competitors into the crisis. The U.S. would face a complex situation if a collapse materializes.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The last thing that anyone wants to do is to send soldiers into Venezuela. When you break it you own it, and any intervention of Venezuela will not only break what little remains that functions properly .... but it will also guarantee a long term presence and the expenditure of tens of billions in aid. Unfortunately .... Venezuela is rapidly approaching that status of a failed state, and if the exodus of Venezuelans continue to grow, all bets are off. My prediction .... and it is based on what I personally experienced in the former Soviet Union before it collapsed .... is that it will take another 2 years (or more) before the people who run and manage the country say enough is enough. And when that day happens is when someone like President Nicolas Maduro will either send in the tanks and hope that most of them obey his orders, or he flees the country. My money is on him fleeing the country.

Venezuelan Soldiers Are Dissenting And Deserting

Soldiers stand in formation before the start of a ceremony to kick off the distribution of security forcers and voting materials to be used in the upcoming presidential elections, at Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas, Venezuela May 15, 2018. Pictures taken on May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Reuters: Exclusive: In run-up to Venezuelan vote, more soldiers dissent and desert

CARACAS/SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) - Arrests for rebellion and desertion are rising sharply in Venezuela’s armed forces, a mainstay of President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist government, amid discontent within the ranks at food shortages and dwindling salaries, according to documents and interviews with army personnel.

Internal military documents reviewed by Reuters showed that the number of soldiers detained for treason, rebellion and desertion rose to 172 in the first four months of the year, up three-and-a-half times on the same period of 2017.

Former military officials said the figures reflected a dramatic increase in the level of dissent within Venezuela’s once-proud armed forces. In the whole of 2017, a total of 196 soldiers were arrested on similar charges, according to the same documents.

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WNU Editor: It seems that the state of the Venezuelan military has become a major news story for the wire services. Only yesterday the AP was reporting on this .... Venezuela's Soldiers Are Going Hungry (AP)

Iran Prepares For Economic War Against The U.S.

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi//File Photo

The Economist: Iran braces for economic war with America

Will the coming crunch destabilise the regime?

TEHRAN’S grand bazaar, a weathervane of politics, is on strike again. Shutdowns there foreshadowed Iran’s 1979 revolution. In 2012 they pushed the government into talks that eventually resulted in a deal, signed in 2015, that restricted Iran’s nuclear efforts in exchange for sanctions relief. And Donald Trump’s pull-out from that deal on May 8th drew an instant reaction from traders, who sense something ominous. “Tehran feels like it did before...1979,” says Pejman Abdolmohammadi, an Iranian lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Iran’s business world was already glum. America’s continued curbs on dollar transactions had muted the effect of the lifting of global sanctions in January 2016. But now, merchants say, America is moving from containing the regime to trying to change it. Mr Trump has told firms worldwide that they have three to six months to cut ties with Iran or face sanctions, too. Oil exports, which rose as a result of the deal, are already falling. Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line, no longer takes orders for Iranian oil. South Korea has cut oil imports from Iran by 40%.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like the Iranian regime is about to get a big break .... Europe, China, Russia discussing new deal for Iran: newspaper (Reuters)

Russian President Putin Likes To Promote His Bodyguards

Reuters: Putin promotes ex-bodyguard to new cabinet

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin handed ministerial jobs to a former bodyguard and the son of an ex-intelligence chief on Friday, promoting trusted lieutenants with security ties at the start of what, under the constitution, will be his last term in office.

In a new Cabinet line-up approved by Putin, established big-hitters, such as veteran Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, kept their jobs, suggesting there would be little change of tack on policy in the new presidential term.

One new entrant to the Cabinet was Yevgeny Zinichev, 51, a former deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), who becomes head of the high-profile emergencies ministry.

A biography carried by state-run media said he was born in St Petersburg, which is also Putin’s home city. Then from 1987 to 2015 he served in the state security services, a similar career path to the one taken by Putin, himself a former KGB spy.

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WNU Editor: Another normal day in the Kremlin.

Watch This Low-Flying Saudi C-130 Buzz Right Over A Soldier On The Ground In Yemen

Warzone/The Drive: Crazy Low-Flying Saudi C-130 Buzzes Right Over A Soldier On The Ground In Yemen

When they're not hot-dogging, the planes are hauling troops, weapons, and even aid as part of Riyadh's campaign against Iranian-backed rebels.

For years now, the Royal Saudi Air Force has been heavily engaged in operations in neighboring Yemen as part of a controversial coalition effort to defeat Iranian-supported Houthi rebels and their partners. Though Riyadh's combat jets, such as its F-15S Eagles, Eurofighter Typhoons, and Panavia Tornados, have captured most of the media attention, its fleet of C-130H Hercules airlifters have been especially important for supporting operations on the ground – and the crews are apparently equally eager to show off their more extreme skills.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I've seen lower.

Tweets For Today

This Blue Angels Cockpit Video Is Amazing

We Are The Mighty: This Blue Angels cockpit video is terrifying and amazing

This cockpit video footage of Blue Angel 4 in the "slot" position shows F/A-18 Hornets flying INCHES from each other — even as they do advanced aerial acrobatics.

Oh, and it's a 360 degree video, so you can get the full picture of what these maneuvers are like (minus the 8's pulled during the demonstration).

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels showcase the pride and badassery of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Each year, they perform more than 50 flight demonstrations at more than 25 air show sites.

Read more ....

Picture Of The Day

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kiss on the steps of St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding. Ben Birchall/Pool via Reuters, May 19, 2018

WNU Editor: The above picture is from the following photo-gallery .... The royal wedding (Reuters).

This Map Illustrates China's Anti-Access/Area Denial Capabilities

WNU Editor: The Chinese are covering a lot of territory.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Mexico Presidential Frontrunner Vows To Respond To President Trump's Tweets

Leftist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is the front runner in Mexico's July 1 presidential election (AFP Photo/ALFREDO ESTRELLA)

AFP: Mexico presidential frontrunner vows to hit back at Trump tweets

Mexico City (AFP) - The fiery leftist leading the race for Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, vowed Friday to hit back at US President Donald Trump if he insults Mexico on Twitter.

"If he makes an offensive tweet, I'm going to take responsibility for answering him," said Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who has a double-digit lead in most opinion polls heading into the July 1 election.

"I think (Trump) is going to understand he has to get himself under control, that he can't go around offending the Mexican people. We don't want confrontations with him, but we are going to ask him to respect us," he said at a campaign rally in the town of Huajuapan, in the southern state of Oaxaca.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: He will have bigger problems being President (if he is elected) than responding to tweets from President Trump.

A Closer Look At North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un's Security Detail

Task & Purpose: What Kim Jong Un’s Crazy Elite Bodyguards Teach Us About Threat Deterrence

The recent diplomatic talks between North and South Korea, in advance of an historic Singapore summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, gave us a unique opportunity to observe Kim’s security detail. According to this article on Yahoo, the North Korean leader “was escorted by a phalanx of bodyguards carefully chosen for their fitness, marksmanship, martial arts skills and even looks.”

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WNU Editor: During the DMZ talks I noticed that the North Korean security detail were only focused on two people .... Kim Jong-un, and his sister, Kim Yo-jong.

North Korea Issues New Demands

North Korean soldiers chat as they walk on the banks of the Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, June 1, 2014. REUTERS/Jacky Chen

Yonhap News Agency: N. Korea demands return of defectors from S. Korea

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Saturday called for the release of North Korean defectors that it claims have been lured and kidnapped by South Korea, offering a possible reason for its recent suspension of dialogue with Seoul.

In a report by the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), an unidentified spokesman for North Korea's Red Cross Society insisted that it has been proven that the North Koreans were "forcibly abducted," citing a recent report by a South Korean broadcaster that suggested the former employees of a North Korean restaurant in China may have in fact been lured into defecting from their communist homeland.

Read more ....

Update: North Korea demands South Korea send back restaurant workers (AP)

WNU Editor: Repatriating these defectors would mean prison ... and all of this is happening on the day that two soldiers were successful in defecting from North Korea .... 2 North Koreans, including a military officer, reportedly defect to South Korea (Reuters). As I had mentioned in a commentary earlier today, it would be best to suspend the Singapore Summit until more progress is made .... because right now there is nothing to talk about.

U.S. Ends Aid For Northwestern Syria

US forces, accompanied by YPG militants, drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey on April 28, 2017. (AFP Photo)

CBS: Trump administration ends aid for northwestern Syria

The Trump administration has withdrawn all assistance from Northwest Syria, according to administration officials. This is the newest demonstration of the administration's intent to briskly exit the country once ISIS is fully defeated.

The decision, made through an inter-agency process over the last few weeks, will mean that tens of millions of dollars will be cut off from previous U.S.-backed efforts to strengthen and stabilize the local society. Projects included countering violent extremism, supporting independent society and independent media, strengthening education, and advocating for community policing. The region will become the first area of the country where, other than humanitarian aid, the U.S. is officially disengaging.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Ending Aid For Northwestern Syria

U.S. to withdraw assistance from northwest Syria: U.S. officials -- Reuters
US withdrawing aid from northwest Syria -- CNN
US ends aid for northwest Syria: report -- The Hill
Trump cuts assistance to US-backed forces in northern Syria -- New Arab
Trump pulling assistance from northwest Syria to focus on supporting SDF in northeast: report -- Daily Sabah
Washington Halts Financial Assistance in Northwest Syria – Reports -- Sputnik
US withdrawing assistance from northwest Syria: Reports -- Middle East Eye