Saturday, January 03, 2015

New U.S. Stealth Jet Can’t Fire Its Gun Until 2019 - The Daily Beast

... Another Air Force official familiar with the F-35 confirmed that the jet won’t have the software to fire its gun until the Block 3F software is released to frontline squadrons sometime in 2019. Neither Lockheed nor the F-35 Joint Program Office responded to inquiries about the status of the jet’s gun.
Right now, the F-35’s software doesn’t support the use of the aircraft’s GAU-22/A four-barreled rotary cannon. The weapon was developed from the U.S. Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II jump-jet’s GAU-12/U cannon, but it has one fewer barrel and weighs less.
It’s also supposed to be more accurate—when it can be fired, that is. The gun can shoot 3,300 rounds per minute, though the Air Force’s F-35A version can carry just 180 rounds for the gun....

-bth: a similar situation occurred in Vietnam when it was said that modern fighters might not need machine guns since there was no such thing as close air to air combat.  Of course this was total bullshit, then as now.  The F35 isn't fast enough to run away and its not stealthy enough to fully hide.  It will have to fight and with 180 rounds its an insult to the pilots sent to fight and the incompetence of the US military for cobbling this monstrosity together and calling it a fighting weapon. Shame on our military leadership and its corrupt political leaders that allow this to happen.  It will cost lives and diverts resources from more productive initiatives better than any foreign enemy could ever do.

Putin Signs Mercenary Law: Russian military takes in foreign fighters

Thursday, January 01, 2015

This Is The Way Afghanistan Officially Ends — With An Absolute Whimper - Task & Purpose war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, formally ended Dec. 28, 2014. Leaders of the International Security Assistance Force lowered and cased their flags in a quiet ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Should anyone wonder how the end of the war in Afghanistan impacts the American consciousness, they need look no farther than how the nation’s publication of record, the New York Times, covered the occasion.
The Times, which boasts a news department with more than 1,000 journalists, opted to syndicate the Associated Press piece on the end of the war. That in and of itself is not noteworthy, the Times and a multitude of other reputable and respected publications regularly publish Associated Press content, there’s nothing wrong with the practice. But perhaps more instructive is how the Times presented the story on its website.
I’m a big fan of the New York Times, my hometown paper. Its motto, “all the news that’s fit to print,” I find wonderfully principled and ambitious. Certainly the formal end of the war in Afghanistan is fit to print, but it was not given any sort of prominence on the site. Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, captured it through an Instagram post shortly after the story was published. According to Rieckhoff, the story on Afghanistan was 13 stories down the New York Times’ mobile site, two below a review of actor Terrence Howard’s new show “Empire.”
That’s how the war in Afghanistan formally ends after 13 years, with a whimper in the American media....

-bth: With a whimper as Jones and Eliot put it.  This pathetic ending to the Afghan war held in secret is surprisingly like the ceremony that closed the Iraq war where Iraqi politicians failed to show up.  Now some years later they are begging us to return.  I think the Taliban will take over Kabul in 2015. Hail and farewell.

Kabul was eerie and dangerous under the Taliban. It feels that way again. -WaPo

... Despite the superficial urban bustle, the atmosphere in the capital is tense and eerie. In the past several weeks, I have not seen a single Western face on the streets. Not in the brightly lit supermarkets where shelves are stocked with cornflakes, cat litter and blue cheese to accommodate foreign customers’ quirks....
... That’s probably just as well, and not only because such gatherings would be a natural target for the Taliban. Although a few officials are trying to put up a good front, there is little to celebrate at the moment. As the clock runs out on 2014, the new American-brokered government has failed to produce a cabinet, the last NATO combat forces officially depart at midnight, and the insurgents are howling at the gates of the city. Perhaps the spring will bring signs of change, but for now it seems wise to remain circumspect, lie low and huddle under thick winter clothing as invisibly as possible. "

-bth: worth reading in full. Hard to imagine this is what victory looks like.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Crimea's 'return home' shows love for motherland, says Putin

Denial And Disinformation Will Shape Future Warfare - Aviation Week

"...Once war broke out, social media played a major role in spreading what U.S. civil rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz calls Hamas’s “dead-baby strategy” (AW&ST Nov. 17, page DTI14), using Palestinian sympathizers to deliver images of destruction and casualties on the ground directly to the desktops of the Western population. The degree to which this destruction resulted from the location of weapons bunkers and tunnel entrances under civilian buildings was not part of that message.
In both the Gaza and Ukraine conflicts, an important and one-way channel for soft propaganda and disinformation has been media networks constructed over the last decade—Russia’s RT and Qatar’s Al Jazeera. Both have established locally staffed bureaus around the world and—unlike the Pravdas and Chinese media of the past—refrain from overt hard propaganda. But they are considerably more polished and, as the conflicts of 2014 have shown, can be mobilized to support political aims.
Defeating this kind of campaign—operating under information warfare conditions, to paraphrase a Chinese definition—takes different kinds of weapons. Israel’s Iron Dome counter-rocket system, for example, has given the nation room to avoid massive retaliation for attacks on its civilians, although the country has been pilloried in hostile social-media infographics for not having sustained sufficient casualties. A similar defense against tunnels has been studied but is costly. Perhaps this is one reason why Israel backs away from expensive major-war weapons such as fighter aircraft.
A contrast is seen in Iraq, where actions by the government against the Islamic State, using Russian-supplied weapons, are not criticized by Russian or mainstream Middle Eastern media. During the summer, Iraq took delivery of Russian-made TOS-1A Buratino rocket launchers, which are designed to launch a salvo of fuel-air explosive rockets that kill all humans inside the blast zone immediately and inflict complex internal blast-and-pressure-related injuries over a larger radius. Social media have not visibly reacted to that deployment.
The trend toward real-time public scrutiny of military operations will continue and most likely accelerate. Deniable operations—whether in the information sphere or in the urban battlefield—will become more important. Whether military professionals like it or not, this is the picture of future warfare. "

-bth: An article worth reading in full. Real time news and the difficulty of determining its source has been a major source of disinformation in the last decade.  The US uses it.  The Israelis use it heavily and so do the Russians with great effect.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Goodbye to one of the best years in history - The Telegraph

... A study in the current issue of The Lancet shows what all of this means. Global life expectancy now stands at a new high of 71.5 years, up six years since 1990. In India, life expectancy is up seven years for men, and 10 for women. It’s rising faster in the impoverished east of Africa than anywhere else on the planet. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, life expectancy has risen by 15 years....

Just over a century ago, a period of similarly rapid progress was coming to an abrupt end. The Belle Époque was a generation of scientific, medical and artistic advances, which, then, felt unstoppable. John Buchan summed up this mood in his 1913 novel The Power House. “You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilisation from barbarism,” one of his characters says. “I tell you: the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.” So it was to prove.
Nothing is irreversible. And there will be a great many people for whom life is tough, and looks set to remain so for some time. We still have a lamentably long list of problems to solve. But in the round, there’s no denying it: we are living in the Golden Era. There has never been a better reason for people the world over to wish each other a happy and prosperous new year."

U.S. Stockpiling Fighting Vehicles Near Iraq Ahead of Anti-ISIS Offensive - UNS&WR

... As of this summer, there was roughly $36 billion worth of equipment slated to return to the U.S. after being extricated from Afghanistan either by air and to nearby transfer facilities like the one in Kuwait, through a complicated land route north of Afghanistan, or through border crossings into Pakistan and on to one of that country's ports.
The latter two options have become less and less viable, says Schatz, whose command is tasked with moving military equipment and troops around the globe.
The U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan contributed to widespread political protests, prompting top leaders to occasionally close the main border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan at Torkham.
“We frankly found out at the start of the year we had major issues,” Schatz says. Delayed convoys coming out of Afghanistan also made for juicy targets for the Taliban, which has been conducting a surge in attacks as the U.S. withdraws its forces. “We had a backup early in the year of roughly 1,600 trucks waiting to get out.”
The land route to the north, known as the Northern Distribution Network, also is limited by some countries’ restrictions on combat equipment, such as armored vehicles, traveling over their land.
Transportation Command decided, as a result, to fly equipment from its main Afghanistan bases at Kandahar and Bagram to hubs in nearby countries like Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait for processing and ultimate shipment back to the U.S.
This year alone, the command has moved 140,000 people and 333,000 tons of cargo shipments that have included thousands of vehicles and 20-foot shipping containers – moves that would require the rough equivalent of 9,000 C-17 cargo plane flights or 36,000 tractor-trailer trips....

-bth: this article by Shinkman is one of the first actual news articles on the topic of vehicle transport out of Afghanistan, reconcentration near Iraq and the real life contingencies that IS is creating.  Plus without mention there is the whole Russian situation which is preventing practical use of the northern corridor and the shake down and hazards out of Pakistan leave airlifts to Kuwait as one of the few practical options available.  That all said, just because the vehicles are concentrated there doesn't necessarily mean they will be used by US troops in Iraq.  We might also sell them used to the Iraqi government.

Nightwatch assessment of NATO ending 13 year Afghan combat mission and ridicultous statement by Gen. Campbell about lifting it out of darkness

"Afghanistan: NATO formally ended its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan. Commanders lowered the flag during a ceremony in Kabul, raising the flag of the new mission named Resolute Support.
"We have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future," mission commander General John Campbell said.
Comment: An earlier ceremony marked the dissolution of the joint combat command. Today's marked the dissolution of the NATO mission.
The statements by General Campbell bespeak an astonishing absence of insight about Afghanistan. Kabul, Ghazni and Mazar-e-Sharif were centers of Islamic learning and culture up to five centuries before Columbus discovered the new world. Before that, Alexander the Great of Macedon founded Qandahar, which is named after Alexander.
    It is not clear what "darkness" General Campbell's speech writers thought they were referring to. Campbell's script shows that the US military leadership learned so little about Afghanistan in the past 13 years that the senior US general insulted the Afghan people on the day his primary mission ended. For old Afghan hands, the published remarks are shameful.
     The Pashtuns believe the US is the agent of darkness in Afghanistan, provided they even think in those alien terms, which are Greek and Christian. For Pashtun Muslim true believers, the US and NATO brought despair, but their departure is a ray of hope because it affirms the myth that Afghanistan is the graveyard of invaders. The invaders always lose and leave and the Afghan people always win. That myth glosses over the suffering that Afghans endure during the foreign occupations.
     Now the real struggle for Afghanistan begins. This is the struggle between Afghans, without Western meddling. The end of the westerners' combat mission marks the beginning of the period that Mullah Omar and his cohorts in Pakistan have waited for: the start of the battle to recapture Kabul.
     It is unclear what the residual 13,000 western forces will be doing, if they are not engaged in combat. The most important Western contribution has been air power. News agencies have not reported the status, capabilities and rules of engagement of residual Western air power in Afghanistan. Those capabilities count much more than advisors and trainers."