Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Editor's Note

I mentioned this yesterday, but for the next few weeks blogging will sometimes be absent for about 10 to 12 hours (like today). But this is temporary .... I am right now shedding away a number of my business responsibilities so that I have more time to read, write, consult, and to blog. My deadline is this Christmas Eve .... and by the looks of it I will be successful in achieving this goal. But until then .... sorry for those who need their regular and (hourly WNU) fix .... but blogging will on some days be sporadic.

Did The Soviet Union Have A Chance To Win The Cold War?

For one of the last times, the Soviet flag flies over the Kremlin at Red Square in Moscow, on Saturday night, December 21, 1991. The flag was replaced by the Russian flag on New Year's. (AP Photo/Gene Berman)

Robert Farley, National Interest: Did Russia Ever Have a Shot at Winning the Cold War?

Could the Soviets have won the Cold War? In retrospect, Soviet defeat seems overdetermined. The USSR suffered from a backwards economy, an unappealing political system, and unfortunate geography. But even into the 1980s, many Cold Warriors in the West worried that Red Victory was imminent.

We can think of Red Victory in two ways; first, if the fundamental rules of the competition between the United States and the USSR had operated differently, and second if Moscow and Washington had made different strategic decisions along the way.

Changing the Rules

The idea of socio-political “rules” that dictate how the world works runs counter to a lot of work in the social sciences. Still, certain social and political experiments initiated at the start of the Cold War ran aground on the shoals of social and human capacity. If we imagine the loosening of some of these “rules” then the Soviet and American experiments might have performed differently.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  I never believed that the Soviet Union had a chance to win the Cold War .... nor did anyone else that I knew at the time in the Soviet Union. If there was a conventional war .... no invading army would succeed in conquering the Soviet Union .... that was universally believed in the Soviet Union (myself included). But the Cold War evolved into an economic and ideological conflict .... a conflict that President Reagan accelerated .... and one that I knew that the Soviet Union could not hope to win for the simple that at the time I was one of the few Soviet citizens who had the opportunity to really know what the West was all about .... its strengths and its resilience .... and not what the Soviet media was trying to portray. And when the lines of communication between the West and Russia opened up even further under Gorbachev .... when the people in the Soviet Union could finally compare their standard of living to those in the West .... I knew that the ideological battle would be lost. The only surprised that I had from the Cold war was at the end .... when I stood with my father in Red Square and we saw the Soviet flag brought down from the Kremlin, and the Russian flag put in its place. We both knew that the Soviet Union had to change ..... it is that we never thought it would happen so quickly.

This Russian Submarine Was Built To Sink U.S. Aircraft Carriers

Russian submarine Tomsk in Vilyuchinsk. Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Konovalov/Mil.ru

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: This Russian Nuclear Submarine Has a Very Special Mission: Kill American Aircraft Carriers

Russia’s enormous Oscar-class nuclear attack submarines, known as the Project 949A, were designed during the Cold War with a specific mission in mind: to go hunting for American aircraft carriers, the pride of American naval power.

Because each U.S. flattop is protected by its own little fleet of escorting warships—many of them specialized in antisubmarine warfare—the Oscar’s primary game plane isn’t to creep up close for a torpedo attack.

Instead, it’s designed to lob enormous anti-shipping cruise missiles (ASCMs) from hundreds of miles away.

Cruise-missile submarines, designated SSGs and SSGNs by the U.S. Navy, were not a new concept. The earliest missile subs were adapted from more conventional submarines in the 1950s, and the Soviet Echo class, commissioned in 1961, were the first ones designed to employ cruise missiles as their primary armament.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is one big sub.

Russia Is Laughing At Recent British - NATO War Games In Estonia


Daily Mail: Russia MOCKS British war games, saying: ‘Polish-assembled T72s are a poor replacement for the real stuff’

* The exercise, involving Nato, took place on Salisbury Plain at the weekend
* It was intended to simulate President Putin’s forces invading Estonia
* Taking part were troops due to be deployed early next year in the Baltic
* But the Russian Embassy in London said it was 'bizarre and delusionary'

Russia has mocked a British war games exercise at the weekend in which Nato forces posed as invading 'Russian' tanks rumbling across the border into a Baltic state.

The exercise, on Salisbury Plain, involved an army of imaginary Russian tanks and troops advancing onto the territory of a Nato ally in an act of naked aggression by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Under the North Atlantic Treaty Britain, the US, France and Germany would be obliged to come to their defence, like the Allies were when Poland was invaded by Hitler's forces in 1939.

Read more ....

Update #1: 'Not the REAL stuff' Russia MOCKS British Army over 'poor' war drills on Salisbury Plain (Express)
Update #2: Russia mocks Britain’s tank drills preparing for Vladimir Putin invasion warning ‘it’s a poor replacement for the real stuff! (The SUN)

WNU Editor: OK .... these T-72s are not exactly front-line Russian tanks .... but the Russians should not underestimate these NATO war games .... they are being done to send a political message, not a military one.

There Are Only 5 Russian Language Speakers In The British Army

Reuters

RT: British Army has just 5 Russian language speakers… despite Tory warnings of war

Despite frequent warnings by the government of an impending Russian threat, cuts to Britain’s defense budget have left its military with just five Russian interpreters, according to the latest figures.

The Labour Party’s defense spokesman has blasted the Tory government over the shortfall. However, some experts say the current practice of relying on private contractors is justified.

The Foreign Office has 163 employees possessing Russian language skills ranging from basic to advanced levels, while 637 people in the military can speak languages such as Arabic, Pashto, and Mandarin.

Labour Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffiths said the shortfall is the result of years of Tory-led defense austerity and “repeated failure to give our Forces the resources that they need.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This number is down from 15 earlier this year .... Lost in translation: British military down to just 15 Russian speakers (RT). How many English translators in the Russian Army .... I would say thousands .... English has become the second language of choice for many Russians. But in the event of a major conflict this will not be a problem for the West. There are many Russian speakers in the West (this blogger included) .... and I know only too well that we will be conscripted to act as translators if we become needed.

Poll: Americans And Westerners Are Becoming 'More Comfortable' With The Policy Of Using Torture And Harsh Interrogation Techniques

Shane T. McCoy / Reuters

Kimberly Dozier, Daily Beast: Red Cross Poll: Americans Warm to Torture and Indiscriminate Bombing

An International Red Cross poll shows more Americans and other Westerners than ever before are OK with harsh tactics, yet those under fire still hope the laws of war apply to them.

Bombarded by President-Elect Donald Trump’s election rhetoric promising to step up the campaign against the so-called Islamic State, Americans are more likely to accept torture and indiscriminate bombing of suspected terrorists than they were two decades ago, according to a poll by the International Committee of the Red Cross released Monday.

The majority of those surveyed across more than a dozen countries including the United States still think bombing of populated areas and torturing detainees is wrong, according to the WINS/Gallup International poll, released by the ICRC. But rising numbers of people, especially Americans and Britons, said they are willing to accept less humane practices if it means winning the fight faster.

Yet the survey also showed that people in places like Syria and Yemen believe the laws of war are needed, in an almost wistful expression of hope for a humanity that is absent in two conflicts that have killed civilians by the hundreds of thousands.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These are the poll numbers now .... but all that it will take is one major terror attack .... 9/11 or worse .... and these poll numbers will overwhelmingly shift to "do what it takes" to bring to justice on those who committed such a crime. I recall too well after 9/11 how many of my American liberal friends shifted their altitudes on what will need to be done to get Osama Bin laden .... shocking even me with what they wanted to do .... and how these same American liberal friends shifted a few years later back to their default position in regards to torture and harsh interrogations.

Internal Pentagon Audit Reveals $125 Billion In 'Waste'



Washington Post: Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Only $125 billion ?!?!?!? I figured that the number would be higher.

More News On An Internal Pentagon Audit Revealing $125 Billion In 'Waste'

Pentagon buried study that found $125 billion in wasteful spending: Washington Post -- Reuters
Pentagon reportedly buried study exposing $125 billion in waste -- FOX News
The Pentagon reportedly buried a report showing it wasted $125 billion of taxpayer money -- Aol.com
Report: Pentagon buried audit that exposed $125 billion in bureaucratic waste -- The Week
Pentagon Finds $125B in Internal Waste, Kills Report -- Newser

Monday, December 5, 2016

China Is Seething Over President-Elect Trump's Recent Tweets On China

The People's Republic of China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly along Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol in Washington during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit, January 18, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

James Palmer, Foreign Policy: China Really Isn’t Joking About Taiwan

Beneath Beijing’s seemingly mild criticism of Trump’s phone call are currents of raw, public nationalism the government can’t control.

Tere’s a reason Donald Trump’s impetuous conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has left foreign-policy experts tearing their hair out by the roots. The fussy diplomatic protocols Trump flouted, in this case, are not a mere formality. They are a finely honed coping strategy for Chinese emotions that are very raw and potentially explosive. Although the Chinese reaction has been surprisingly — perhaps hopefully — muted, there is no more sincerely sensitive issue in China, among politicians and the public, than Taiwan.

Taiwan, or the Republic of China, was founded by the fleeing Kuomintang (KMT or “Nationalist Party”), the modernizing but corrupt, authoritarian, and incompetent rulers of China in the 1930s, after they lost the mainland to the Communist Party, the modernizing but corrupt, authoritarian, and incompetent rulers of China from 1949 to the present. They fled to the conveniently defensible island on China’s southern margins, once famous as a haven for pirates and later a Japanese colony.

Read more ....

Update: Beijing grits teeth in face of Trump's tweets (The Guardian)

WNU Editor: The Chinese have always been nationalistic .... but what I have seen in just the past few years is unprecedented .... and in many ways it has been nurtured by the central government to divert people's attention away from the country's economic problems and the imbalance between those who are doing well .... and those who are not. In regards to Taiwan ..... many Chinese regard Taiwan as part of China .... as well as much of the South China Sea an the East China Sea. And in regards to what the people in Taiwan may feel .... or what do the countries that border the South China Sea and the East China Sea may claim .... China's reaction has always been the same .... derision, threats, and simply using their military to enforce their claims. In regards to the U.S. .... their behaviour has always been predictable. They always pull something off in the first six months after a new U.S. President has been sworn in .... to gauge how he reacts, and to what limits can China push him on issues that are central to China. But the Achilles Heel of China has always been its economy, and the expectations of its population that they will benefit from continued Chinese economic expansion. This is the social contract that the Central Communist party in Beijing has with its people .... and as long as the economy continues to grow .... much of the population will be content with this arrangement. But the problem is that much of this growth has been fuelled by the export of Chinese goods around the world with a devalued currency, while restricting imports via through tariffs and other ridiculous bureaucratic measures. President-elect Trump has made it very clear to the Chinese that "business as usual" is not going to be his policy .... and this in turn has put China in a bind. The Chinese Central government is dependent on running huge trade deficits with the U.S. to fuel its growth .... and no one else can even come close to replacing the U.S. should the China choose to diversify their export markets. And that is the "rub" of it all. Upset the White House .... then expect tariffs and other trade restrictions from the U.S. .... and while it may hurt certain businesses and make the cost of Chinese products more expensive for Americans .... people will adjust their spending habits and other countries and companies will step in. But for the Chinese .... they would have lost their number one export market .... and for an economy that is already experiencing severe debt and financial mismanagement problems .... this will hurt them hard. My prediction still holds .... they will bite their tongue and take it .... and they are not going to test President-elect Trump when he is in the White House .... they now have a very good idea on who and what he is.

Libyan Pro-Government Forces Have Capture The Islamic State Stronghold Of Sirte



Al Jazeera: Libyan forces claim control of ISIL stronghold of Sirte

Hundreds of loyalist troops and unknown number of ISIL fighters killed as pro-government forces seize coastal city.

Forces aligned to Libya's UN-backed national unity government have gained full control of Sirte after months of fighting, in a major blow to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in the country.

"Our forces have total control of Sirte," Reda Issa, a spokesman for pro-government forces, told AFP news agency on Monday. "Our forces saw Daesh totally collapse," he said referring to the Arabic name of ISIL.

The battle for the coastal city, which was the last significant territory held by ISIL, also known as ISIS, in Libya, cost the lives of hundreds of loyalist troops as well as an unknown number of ISIL fighters, Issa said.

Read more ....

More News On Libyan Pro-Government Forces Capturing The Islamic State Stronghold Of Sirte

Libyan Forces Claim Full Control of Former Islamic State Stronghold Sirte -- WSJ
IS loses Libya bastion in major blow to jihadists -- AFP
Libyan pro-government forces say they have seized IS-held Sirte -- DW
Isis loses control of Libyan city of Sirte -- The Guardian
Libyan forces close to securing last Islamic State holdouts in Sirte: officials -- Reuters
Libyan forces capture 32 IS militants as they comb through last holdout in Sirte -- Libyan Express

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 5, 2016

Residents wave as the caravan carrying the ashes of Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro arrives in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, December 3, 2016. CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / REUTERS

Ian Bremmer, Time: After Castro—5 Nations Where Dictators Still Rule

Fidel is dead, and now, buried. Some will call him the last of the Cold Warriors. But there are still plenty of regimes that have been in power for decades. Are they frozen in time, or is change bubbling beneath the surface? In each case, the answer may depend on how long political power can be kept within the family. A look at five of the longest-ruling regimes in the world, and where they go from here.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 5, 2016

How ISIS Returned to Syria -- Roy Gutman, Daily Beast

Matteo Renzi resigns after Italian referendum rout -- Giulia Paravicini and Jacopo Barigazzi, Politico

Italy’s referendum is Europe’s next test in its fight for survival -- John Lloyd, Reuters

Europe's Populists Aren't Going Away -- Bloomberg editorial

Why Russia Is Using the Internet to Undermine Western Democracy -- Maria Farrell, Slate

European attitudes towards Brexit are hardening -- Paul Gillespie, Irish Times

In Europe, the center is not holding -- Michael Curtis, The Commentator

Why Raul Castro Is Happy Fidel Is Gone -- Brian Latell, Politico

Donald Trump's Middle East Promises: Can He Keep Them? -- Aaron David Miller & Richard Sokolsky, RCW

Why the fuss? Trump, the US, Taiwan and China -- a guide -- AFP

So, Why Can't You Call Taiwan? -- David Graham, The Atlantic

Worry not: the US-Japan alliance is safe in Trump’s hands -- Harry J. Kazianis, Asia Times

Trump Showing Signs of Changing U.S. Security Relationships in Asia -- John Grady, USNI News

China pressures Singapore with seizure of military hardware -- Euan Graham, Nikkei Asian Review

OPEC Production Cuts and the Illusive Power of Dealmaking -- Peter Kaznacheev, Moscow Times

Opec doesn’t hold all the cards, even after its oil price agreement -- Phillip Inman, The Guardian/Observer

World News Briefs -- December 5, 2016

Smoke rises after air strikes on rebel-controlled besieged eastern Aleppo, Syria December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Reuters: Russia says to start talks with U.S. on Aleppo rebel withdrawal

The Russian government said on Monday it would start talks with Washington on a rebel withdrawal from Aleppo this week as Russian-backed Syrian forces fought to seize more territory from rebels who are struggling to avoid a major defeat.

The latest army attack, which saw fierce clashes around the Old City, aims to cut off another area of rebel control in eastern Aleppo and tighten the noose on opposition-held districts where tens of thousands of people are trapped.

Advances in recent weeks have brought Damascus, backed militarily by Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, closer to recapturing Syria's second largest city before the nearly six-year war and a prize long sought by President Bashar al-Assad.

The rebels are now reduced to an area just kilometers across.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Status of main battle fronts in Iraq and Syria.

Army advances in Aleppo as Russia blocks UN truce plan.

Air strikes kill 73 in rebel-held Idlib province: war monitor.

Russia, China veto UNSC resolution on Aleppo ceasefire.

2 Russian paramedics killed, 1 gravely injured in militant attack on hospital in Aleppo – MoD. Second Russian female doctor dies of wounds after Aleppo shelling — ministry.

Aleppo tweeting girl Bana Alabed 'is safe'.

West Mosul shelled as Iraq steps up fight against Islamic State.

ISIS vows ‘victory’ in Iraq and Syria: Islamic State fighters urged ‘not to flee’ by new spokesperson.

Mosul residents 'won't leave' despite dire conditions.

Qaeda militants blow up Yemen gas export pipeline: local officials.

Erdogan calls for protection of Turkish Lira during crisis.

Netanyahu to discuss 'bad' Iran deal with Trump, Kerry stresses settlements. Kerry takes harsh tone on Israel, suggests opening for action at UN.

Kerry says Iran nuclear deal has made world safer, rejecting Trump criticism.

ASIA

U.S. seeks to reassure Beijing after Trump call with Taiwan leader.

Afghan President urges Pakistan to spend aid money on fighting terrorism.

Rohingya in Rakhine state suffer government retaliation.

Fiji's police and military using torture with 'near impunity', Amnesty says.

New Zealand prime minister John Key resigns.

A new president for Uzbekistan.

Philippine vice president quits Cabinet in tiff with Duterte.

Pakistan hotel fire: Eleven killed at Karachi's Regent Plaza.

Pearl Harbour: Shinzo Abe to become first Japanese prime minister to visit site of 1941 attack.

AFRICA

Isis loses control of Libyan city of Sirte. Libyan pro-government forces say they have seized IS-held Sirte.

Several dead in DR Congo clashes.

U.S. worries about spiraling violence in South Sudan: State Department.

Egypt advisory council says Red Sea islands should remain Egyptian.

UN inquiry into CAR abuse claims identifies 41 troops as suspects.

Fake US embassy in Ghana shut down after 10 years issuing visas.

Nairobi striking doctors tear-gassed as patients 'walk out'.

EUROPE

Italy PM Matteo Renzi delays resignation until budget is passed. Renzi due to formally submit resignation as Italy ponders what next. Italian president asks PM Matteo Renzi to delay resignation until after budget.

Italy faces political, economic uncertainty after referendum.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announces presidential bid. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigns; announces bid for presidential election. French PM Valls launches presidential bid, quits government.

Austrians roundly reject far right in presidential election.

Trial of 'Butcher of Bosnia' Ratko Mladic enters final stage.

Russia's arms sales rising while America's drop.

Ukraine court whacks Russia's Gazprom with mega lawsuit.

Brexit: UK Government begins legal fight against ruling that could derail Theresa May's EU exit strategy.

Greece central bank chief wants more debt relief.

Afghan's murder-rape arrest reignites Germany refugee debate.

AMERICAS

Suspense builds over Trump secretary of state search.

Al Gore meets Donald Trump and Ivanka for climate talks. Trump nominates Carson to lead U.S. housing, urban policy.

Peru's ex-leader Fujimori leaves prison for brain scan.

UN ‘concerned’ about increase in murders of Colombia community leaders.

Venezuela is printing a 20,000 bolivar note.


Standing Rock Protest: Trump to review Dakota pipeline ruling.

Death toll climbs to 36 in Oakland warehouse fire.

Snowden does not expect pardon from Obama.

Cemetery bearing Fidel Castro's ashes opens to public.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Islamic State identifies Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer as new spokesman.

Islamic State urges supporters to stage new wave of attacks.

White House: 9/11 law permits US attacks on extremists.

GOP senator calls on Obama to halt Guantanamo detainee transfers.


ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Dow Industrials close at fresh record.

Oil retreats on doubts OPEC cuts can ease glut.

Amazon working on several grocery-store formats, could open more than 2,000 locations.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 5, 2016

Wikipedia

CNN: Joint Chiefs prep military strategy plans for Trump and top commanders

(CNN)The Joint Chiefs of Staff are finalizing a classified military strategy they plan to present to President-elect Donald Trump detailing the military challenges to the US, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Saturday.

The classified report has been underway for months, and is spearheaded by General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Key commanders such as General Joseph Votel, head of Central Command and others have also been involved. The report was not created specifically ffor Trump, but for whomever the next president would be.

The five threats -- posed by Iran, North Korea, China, Russia and violent extremism -- are detailed in annexes to the classified report. There are no formal military responses and options detailed. The idea is that this will lay the groundwork for key decisions on spending, size of the military and readiness that Trump will have to make. The report was being prepared regardless of whom won the election.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 5, 2016

Joint Chiefs Preparing New ISIS Strategy for Trump: Chairman -- Military.com

Joint Chiefs preparing new plan to defeat Islamic State -- Washington Examiner

Carter: US, Partners Need to Stay in Iraq after IS Defeat -- AP/Military.com

Russian Su-33 Skids Off Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier, Pilot Unharmed -- Sputnik

Sukhoi-33 jet crashes while landing on Admiral Kuznetsov carrier -- TASS

China Tests Nearly a Dozen Missiles Since Trump’s Surprise Victory -- Sputnik

China Preparing For War? Chinese President Xi Jinping Wants World's Largest Military To Modernize -- IBTimes

Pakistan Is About to Buy a Half-Million New Rifles -- War Is Boring

War chest: UK arms giants return to profit after 2yr fall in sales -- RT

Weapons business booming despite decline in sales: SIPRI report -- DW

Denmark: Onboard with NATO Missile Defense? -- RCD

Polish Defence Ministry Unveils $14.5B Modernization Program -- Defense News

Carter looks to shore-up US-Japan military alliance -- CNN

US Air Force Looking Into Increase of Suicides at Japanese Base -- Sputnik

US Assault Ships in Mediterranean Might Mean Soon Ground Operation -- Sputnik

U.S. Navy, shipbuilders ready for Trump's expansion plan -- Reuters

Work: Munitions, Strategic Capabilities Office Boosted in FY18 Budget Plan -- Defense News

Marines Corps Test Fires New Precision-Guided 120mm Mortar Round -- Scout Warrior

1st-Ever Electronic Warfare Strategy Headed For SecDef’s Desk -- Breaking Defense

US Air Force Faces Shortage of Fighter Jet Mechanics -- VOA

Trump Defense Plan Still a Guessing Game -- Sandra I. Erwin, National Defense

Trump's Promises on Defense Spending Draw Praise but Questions Linger -- L.A. Times

Congress blocks funds for key military intel program, calls for Pentagon-wide investigation -- Washington Times

U.S. Military Capabilities Must Be Changed for Future, Dunford Says -- US Department of Defense

Mattis signals a new, better way forward for the military -- The Hill

Don't ‘Ram Through’ Mattis Confirmation, HASC’s Top Democrat Warns GOP -- Defense News

Dem lawmaker won't support waiver allowing Mattis to serve as defense secretary -- The Hill

Here's why officers can't easily become defense secretaries -- Lolita C. Baldor, AP

Petraeus on His Mishandling of Classified Information: 'I Made a Serious Mistake' -- ABC News

Confronting the LCS Myths -- Steven Wills, RCD

Secretary Carter Preparing to Pass the Baton to Successor -- National Defense

An Open Letter to the CIA Director Nominee -- Douglas Wise, Cipher Brief

Why Were We Caught Napping at Pearl Harbor? -- James A Warren, Daily Beast

Is The U.S. Military The Best In The World?

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif., Dec. 3, 2016. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

Col. Gary Anderson, USMC (Ret.)/Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy: Here’s why Ash Carter should stop saying we have the best military in the world

Ash Carter, the current secretary of defense, has been beginning his recent speeches with the statement that today’s American military is the best the world has ever seen.

That kind of chest beating breeds complacency. History is replete with civilian and military leaders who have made similar claims. The French king said something very similar before the debacle at Agincourt during the Hundred Years War. Numerous French ministers of war, including the infamous Andre Maginot, made similar claims in the 1920s and 30s prior to the humiliating French defeat at the hands of the Germans in 1940. The reality is that Carter currently has no idea how good or bad the American military really is. President-elect Donald Trump and James Mattis, his pick for secretary of defense, have a narrow window to judge how much, if anything, needs to be done at the Pentagon. If they wait too long, any problems will be theirs. Carter has done a good job of looking to the future, and he should be applauded for that. His “Third Offset” strategy is a good blueprint for 2025. But, what about today?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A sober warning.

Pentagon: 'Russia Is The No. 1 Threat To The U.S.'

Russia has deployed its fleet of Su-33 warplanes to the Mediterranean for Syria operations

Reuters: U.S. reshaping budget to account for Russian military threat

Russia's increasing military activities around the world have unsettled top U.S. military officials, who say they are reshaping their budget plans to better address what they now consider to be the most pressing threat to U.S. security.

"Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. We have a number of threats that we're dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States," Air Force Secretary Deborah James told Reuters in an interview at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum.

James, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson and Pentagon chief arms buyer Frank Kendall, all voiced growing concern about Russia's increasingly aggressive behavior in interviews late on Saturday.

Read more ....

Update #1: Pentagon says Russia ‘No. 1 threat’ as Putin presides over frenzied defense spending (Washington Times)
Update #2: Russia is ‘No. 1 threat’ to United States, Air Force secretary claims (RT)
Update #3: US-Russia War? Moscow’s Increasing Military Activity Forcing US To Reshape Budget (IBTimes)

WNU Editor: Let us see if the Pentagon will be saying the same thing when President-elect Trump is sworn in.

Russian Ministry Of Defense: 'At Least 8 NATO Ships Monitored The Russian Naval Group As It Made Its Way From Russia To The Coast Off Syria'

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov © Norwegian Royal Airforce / Reuters

TASS: At least eight NATO ships monitored Russian naval group on way to Mediterranean

A task force of the Northern Fleet left on a mission for the northeastern part of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean in October

MOSCOW, December 5. /TASS/. Up to eight ships of NATO’s member-countries were accompanying the Russian naval group on its way to the Mediterranean, but not violations of international laws of the sea occurred in the process, the Russian Navy’s Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Vladimir Korolyov, said on Monday.

"This is the first time that we use our naval aircraft in combat conditions since the moment the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser was built. Naturally, this draws attention, first and foremost from the NATO countries. Up to eight ships were accompanying us when we reached the area of Britain. But there were no violations of international laws of the sea," Korolyov said told the Rossiya-24 television news channel.

Read more ....

Update: 8 NATO ships shadowed Russian aircraft carrier ‘Kuznetsov’ (RT)

WNU Editor: This is the first time that a Russian aircraft carrier is involved in military operations .... so no one should be surprised that interest on how the Russians will handle these operations will be a priority for NATO and other countries.

Second Russian Navy Jet Crashes Into The Mediterranean While Attempting A Carrier Landing

The Sukhoi Su-33 (pictured) is a variation of the Su-27, adapted for use on aircraft carriers

Daily Mail: A SECOND jet crashes into the Mediterranean while attempting to land on Russian aircraft carrier as it returned from Syria

* A Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker jet crashed into the Mediterranean on Saturday
* The plane was coming in to land on the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
* It is believed to have been on a bombing mission in Syria, pilot survived
* The arrester wire, which is designed to catch the landing plane, snapped

A Russian Navy jet has crashed into the Mediterranean while operating from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

The Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker jet reportedly crashed on Saturday, the second such incident involving Russian forces deployed in Syria.

The Aviationist reported the plane crashed at its second attempt to land on the aircraft carrier in good weather conditions.

The Russian Ministry of Defence said the arrester wire, which is designed to catch the aircraft as it comes into land on the carrier's short runway, snapped.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Russian press is reporting on this accident .... Russian Naval Aviation Learns Valuable But 'Bitter Lessons' in Syria (Sputnik). Also here .... Kremlin comments on Su-33 bomber jet crash in Mediterranean (TASS).

More News On A Second Russian Navy Jet Crashing Into The Mediterranean While Attempting A Carrier Landing

Less than three weeks after losing a MiG-29, it looks like the Russian Navy has lost another aircraft during Admiral Kuznetsov operations: a Su-33 Flanker. -- The Aviationist
Second Russian fighter jet crashes attempting aircraft carrier landing -- UPI
Russian jet crashes in failed carrier landing near Syria -- Times of Israel/AFP
Russian Su-33 Jet Crash: Aircraft Crashes In Mediterranean While Landing On Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier -- International Business Times
Second Russian Carrier-based Fighter Crashes, Pilot Safe -- USNI News
Russian jets keep crashing — and it may be an aircraft carrier’s fault -- Washington Post

China Flew Nuclear-Capable Bombers Around Taiwan For The First Time



FOX News: China flew nuclear-capable bombers around Taiwan before Trump call with Taiwanese president

Less than a week before President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwan’s president over the phone, China flew a pair of long-range nuclear-capable bombers around Taiwan for the first time, two U.S. officials revealed to Fox News.

On Nov. 26, two Chinese Xian H-6 bombers, along with two escort planes, a Tupolev Tu-154 and Shaanxi Y-8, around the island of Taiwan from mainland China, taking off and landing from two separate Chinese military bases.

The escort jets were used to collect radar information and conduct other surveillance on American allies such as Japan, Fox News is told. The Chinese bombers stayed in international airspace, according to officials.

Read more ....

Update: Chinese aircraft circled around Taiwan for first time: MND (Focus Taiwan)

WNU Editor: It looks like this is going to be the new normal .... China likely to conduct regular military flights near Okinawa: deputy minister (Taipei Times).

Chinese Foreign Ministry: 'U.S. President-elect Trump Is Clear About China's Position On The Taiwan Issue'



Reuters: China says Trump clear about Taiwan, in touch with his team

U.S. President-elect Trump is clear about China's position on the Taiwan issue and China has maintained contacts with his team, the foreign ministry said on Monday, as Trump took to Twitter to complain about Chinese economic and military policy.

Trump's unusual call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday prompted a diplomatic protest on Saturday, though U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence played down the telephone conversation, saying it was a "courtesy" call, not intended to show a shift in U.S. policy on China.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang would not say directly who China had lodged "stern representations" with about Trump's call, repeating a weekend statement that it had gone to the "relevant side" in the United States.

"The whole world knows about the Chinese government's position on the Taiwan issue. I think President-elect Trump and his team are also clear," Lu told a daily news briefing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In the past .... the Chinese Foreign Ministry's response on the issue of Taiwan has always been blunt, non-compromising, and threatening. But in regards to the Taiwanese President calling President-elect Trump to offer her congratulations .... the Chinese Foreign Ministry's response has been as "muddy and ambiguous" as it can get .... with no direct condemnation of President-elect Trump. They are not even responding to his Tweets .... President-Elect Trump Criticises China Over Their Reaction To His Phone Call With Taiwan .... which I suspect that they are still trying to figure out. I will admit that I am surprised by this. Chinese leaders have always tested new U.S. Presidents within six months after they assumed the office .... but this time around it appears that it is the President-elect who is testing and pushing China ... even threatening a trade war. This is definitely an interesting turn of events .... and I am definitely curious to know how the Chinese will respond when they get their bearings straight. My prediction .... they will stay quiet because their massive trade surpluses with the U.S. is something that they cannot risk right now.