Friday, February 13, 2015

Ukraine says rebels strengthened by tanks, missiles from Russia - Reuters

....As the talks in Minsk dragged on through Wednesday night, around 50 tanks, 40 missile systems and 40 armoured vehicles entered east Ukraine's breakaway Luhansk region from Russia via the Izvaryne border crossing, Lysenko said.
Russia denies supplying the rebels with arms and troops, despite what Ukraine and NATO say is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Separatists have strengthened their positions especially in Debaltseve, a strategic transport hub that has been the focus of heavy fighting in recent weeks, Lysenko said, stressing that government forces had not given up any ground.
But senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin said separatist forces had completely encircled Ukrainian troops in the town and their only option was to surrender. He said his side would honour the Minsk agreements....

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What This Video Of Jordanian F-16s Striking ISIS Tells Us Is Alarming - Foxtrot Alpha

What the widespread use of dumb bombs by Jordan equates to is a set of puzzlingly simple tactics being used, ones that are highly ineffective or highly risky, while trying to obtain a very complex outcome. If Jordan hit all high-priority targets on a targeting list, they are either doing so at great peril to any innocent people nearby, or to themselves and the coalition, or they are creating a target list based on their limited weapons stores and capabilities.
This would mean that they could be selecting a few high-priority urban targets for precision guided munitions and the rest of the targets would be those in rural areas with little potential for unintended casualties when dumb weapons are applied. Either way, dictating what targets you hit, especially on the first day of a highly invigorated air campaign, based on the limited munitions you have at hand is a poor way to fight a modern air war in 2015 and it could usher in either a large loss of innocent life, which could dangerously erode support for the operation as whole in the region, or Jordanian forces are mainly hitting very low priority targets that are located literally in the middle of nowhere....

Air Force Headquarters Declassified and Released Incomplete Data to Further A-10 Smear Campaign - POGO

Air Force headquarters is getting desperate to dump the A-10. Congress has demonstrated strong support for keeping the A-10 and is skeptical of the Air Force’s attempts to retire the platform. An Air Force general even accused any pilot who tells Congress why the A-10 supports troops so effectively in combat of committing treason.
Now, to further muzzle any honest debate about providing adequate close air support for our troops, Air Force headquarters cherry-picked and then declassified selected statistics for USA Today—all to tar the A-10 with having killed more American troops and Afghan civilians than any other plane. Those cooked statistics excluded—and kept classified—data that is essential for a basic understanding of the issue.
The key issue Air Force headquarters obscures is the rate at which these tragic losses occur. Obviously, some aircraft have flown far more attack missions than other aircraft. For instance, the A-10 has flown 4.5 times as many firing sorties as the B-1. However, the critical number is not the total soldiers and civilians killed and wounded, but the ratio of those losses to the number of sorties flown. Without this crucial rate, which the Air Force downplayed or excluded entirely, you can’t determine the likelihood of friendly or civilian casualties or which plane types are least likely to inflict these terrible losses.
Even when you look at the Air Force headquarters’ doctored statistics, it turns out the A-10 is significantly safer than most of the other planes. Only a total misreading would suggest that the A-10 is the plane most dangerous to friendly troops or civilians. For example, the data sheets the Air Force prepared for the press showed the A-10 had a “.3%” rate of incidents causing civilian casualties, which was the second lowest rate of any aircraft.....

Barrel Bomb


Monday, February 09, 2015

Ex-NATO chief Fogh Rasmussen says Russia likely to act in Baltics: Reports - The Economic Times

LONDON: Russia is highly likely to intervene in the Baltic states to test NATO's collective defence commitment, the former head of the Atlantic alliance was quoted as saying by Britain's Daily Telegraph on Friday.
"This is not about Ukraine. Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the daily.
"There is a high probability that he will intervene in the Baltics to test NATO's Article 5," he said, referring to the clause that commits NATO to respond collectively if a member is attacked.
"Russian President Vladimir Putin knows that if he crosses the red line and attacks a NATO ally, he will be defeated. Let us be quite clear about that. But he is a specialist in hybrid warfare," he said....

WaPo - Support for separatism in southern and eastern Ukraine is lower than you think

bth- below are the summary results of an excellent survey and analysis done which is worth reading in full from the original source.
The results of our surveys find little support for separatism.  Figure 1 summarizes responses to a question about the ideal government arrangement for Ukraine.  As you can see, fewer than 5 percent of respondents favored moves that would lead to the breakup of the country.  Also, contrary to the preferred outcome of the Russian government, the option of a federal system with powerful regions was the second least popular.  The majority of respondents favored maintaining the unitary system, albeit with more respondents supporting greater devolution. A sizeable number of respondents (18 percent) supported a federal solution to accommodate ethnic differences, but only if it preserved a strong central government.
Similar attitudes were expressed on the specific question of the solution to the crisis in Donetsk and Luhansk.  Figure 2 shows responses to a question about the ideal status of both regions.  Once again, these data provide little support for separatism.  As few as 6 percent and 4 percent of respondents believed that the rebel territories ought to be granted independence or join the Russian Federation.  There was again significant support for greater autonomy, but the large majority of respondents were in favor of retaining the status of both regions within Ukraine.
Furthermore, when asked about the Ukrainian government and what it ought to do in response to the demands of the rebels for independence, the option of separation was the least popular.  As Figure 3 shows, most respondents preferred the options of using greater military force or conceding more power to the occupied areas in preference to the two occupied territories splitting from Ukraine.
Therefore, our analysis of these survey data provides insubstantial evidence of support for separatism.  Interestingly, these patterns are replicated in those parts of Donetsk and Luhansk that are currently not controlled by the rebels and are the target of fighting.  In both regions, respondents were more likely to choose greater autonomy over separation, and this preference was particularly strong in Luhansk.  Hence any attempt to extend the conflict beyond the occupied zones will carry significant risks for the rebels.  Despite the deep and serious problems facing the Ukrainian government, there appears to be little support for the separatist option.

Донецк. Мощнейший взрыв! ( 08.02.2015 )

Maps of Ukraine