Sunday, February 18, 2018

These Are Some Of The Planes, Ships, And Missiles That The Pentagon Wants To Buy

2000 lbs GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) are transported to the flight deck of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). US Navy

Business Insider: Trump's defense budget is a wishlist for a massive military buildup — these are the planes, ships, and missiles he wants

President Donald Trump's fiscal budget request for 2019 includes $686 billion for defense spending.

While Trump has pushed for a larger military since he was campaigning for president, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said more recently that the "real growth" in the military buildup begins with the now-unveiled fiscal 2019 budget.

With this behemoth amount, the military is setting up contracts that will help the US fight the next war against near peer threats. This includes vehicles, aircraft, ships, and hundreds of thousands of munitions, much of which was used up in the fight against ISIS.

Here are a couple purchases that stand out:

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Missile defense, nuclear weapons, etc. .... now that is another list.

Are Cyberattacks The Single Greatest Threat To Global Stability?

CNBC: Cyberattacks are the single greatest threat to global stability, German defense minister says

Recent cyberattacks have shown that sensitive and personal data have become the target to destabilize companies and governments worldwide.
According to von der Leyen, cyber security is going to be the main focus of this decade.

Cyberattacks are the greatest challenge threatening global stability, Germany's defense minister told CNBC Saturday.

Recent cyberattacks, namely NotPetya and WannaCry, have shown that sensitive and personal data have become the target to destabilize companies and governments worldwide — creating what's often described as a war, given the power of the information stolen.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The German defense minister is off script .... her government has always viewed climate change as the number one threat to global stability/security. But having said that .... IMHO the threats to global security are .... terrorism by non-state actors. Nuclear proliferation by countries like North Korea. The renewal of old historical conflicts (India - China, Israel and its neighbors, Russia and the West, etc.). A trade war. An arms race. And maybe tenth on my list .... cyber-attacks.

War. War Never Changes. Except When It Does

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says artificial intelligence could change the nature of warfare in a way unseen in human history. (DoD/Kathryn E. Holm)

C4ISRNet: AI makes Mattis question ‘fundamental’ beliefs about war

WASHINGTON – Over the years, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has cultivated a reputation for deep thinking about the nature of warfare. And during that time, he has come to a few conclusions about what he calls the “fundamental” nature of combat.

“It’s equipment, technology, courage, competence, integration of capabilities, fear, cowardice — all these things mixed together into a very fundamentally unpredictable fundamental nature of war,” Mattis explained Feb. 17. “The fundamental nature of war is almost like H20, ok? You know what it is.”

Except, that might not be true anymore.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The impact that artificial intelligence platforms may have on the nature of conflict and war has in the past resided in movies like "Terminator" or in TV series like "Person Of Interest". But advancements in computer hardware and in software is now raising the prospect that what was once science fiction may in time become very real. As to my own point of view .... I see developments accelerating, and I can easily foresee a day when many of these weapons platforms will be fully automated and functioning according to the software that they have been programed with. Will they work in cooperation with human soldiers .... or independent .... or both .... I do not know. But I do know that regardless on what happens, the nature of war is going to change dramatically.

US And Russia Trade Jabs On Nuclear Arms Use At The Munich Security Conference

Image source: MSC / Mueller

Defense News: Escalate to de-escalate? US and Russia trade jabs on nuclear arms use

MUNICH — If anyone had any doubt left, a panel discussion today at the Munich Security Conference showcased with brutal clarity that the United States and Russia have very little common ground for a rapprochement on nuclear weapons — or much else, for that matter.

Seated on a podium here at the stately Bayerischer Hof hotel, John Sullivan, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, found himself treading familiar waters with Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador in Washington and now first deputy chairman of the committee on foreign affairs in the parliament’s upper chamber.

At issue were the morbid intricacies of the circumstances under which each country would unleash atomic arms on the other. Specifically, exactly how close to the brink of destruction by way of a conventional attack must one country be before it would shoot back with nukes.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As this discussion revealed .... there is presently no common ground between Russia and the U.S. on nuclear issues. The panel discussion where these issues were brought up can be viewed here .... Panel Discussion "Nuclear Security: Out of (Arms) Control?" (Munich Security Conference).

Some Are Hoping That The Olympics Has Given Momentum For Talks Between The U.S. And North Korea

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9, 2018.

Sebastian Sprenger, Defense News: Is momentum building for talks between the United States and North Korea?

A Republican lawmaker said the United States is “of course” open to talk with North Korea in an effort to defuse an escalating conflict over that country’s nuclear weapons program.

Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, a member of the Armed Services Committee, made the comment at the Munich Security Conference in response to a question from a Chinese government delegate, who asked whether there was support in Congress to engage in a dialogue with the rogue regime.

A week ago, Vice President Mike Pence first opened the prospect for some form of bilateral engagement all the while continuing the international community’s sanctions in an interview with the Washington Post.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This push for talks is coming from South Korean President Moon Jae-in .... South Korean President Hopes Olympics Will Prompt US Dialogue With North (Wall Street Journal). But I do not see it happening. North Korea is not going to end its missile/nuclear programs, but they want the lifting of sanctions .... North Korea likely to seek weakening of global sanctions amid fuel crisis (UPI). The U.S. is not interested in lifting sanctions unless the North Koreans end their missile/nuclear programs. Where is the middle ground to even begin having discussions? There is none. In the end this is a crisis that only the South and North Koreans can resolve .... but South Korean President Moon Jae-in is even backing away from that because he knows too well on far apart all sides are .... South Korean President Moon Jae-in Says It Is Too Soon To Talk To North Korea (February 17, 2018)

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu Warns Iran To Not Test Israel's Resolve

ABC News Online: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatens to act against Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel would act against Iran, not just its allies in the Middle East, if needed, reiterating his country's position that Tehran is the world's greatest threat.

As tensions increase in the Middle East over Iran's role in Syria and Yemen, and as US President Donald Trump presses for a tougher approach on Tehran, Israel is seeking wider support to contain its regional nemesis.

Holding a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone after its incursion into Israeli airspace earlier this month, Mr Netanyahu told the Munich Security Conference: "Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck."

"We will act if necessary not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself," he said.

Read more ....

More News On Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Warning Iran To Not Test Israel's Resolve

Netanyahu Says Israel Could Act Against Iran's 'Empire' -- VOA/Reuters
Netanyahu brandishes remnants of Iranian drone shot down in Israel as he warns against 'dangerous Iran tiger' -- The Telegraph
Brandishing drone fragment, Netanyahu warns that Iran risks conflict -- Washington Post
'Do not test Israel's resolve,' Netanyahu tells Iran at Munich Security Conference -- FRANCE 24
Israel, Saudis Find Common Cause in Warning of Iran Expansionism -- Bloomberg
'Cartoonish circus': Iran, Israel trade barbs as Netanyahu brandishes Iranian drone -- Middle East Eye

U.S. Unsure Who Ordered And Directed The Syrian Attack That Left Scores Of Russian Contractors Dead In Syria

U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis addresses a news conference during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Reuters: U.S. still unsure who directed Syria attack, despite Russian dead

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is still unsure who directed a Feb. 7 attack on U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday, even as he acknowledged accounts that Russian civilian contractors were involved.

Reuters has reported that about 300 men working for a Kremlin-linked Russian private military firm were either killed or injured in Syria.

The U.S. has estimated about 100 pro-Syrian government forces were killed by U.S. strikes to repel the Feb. 7 attack.

Russian military officers told the United States during the incident that Moscow was not involved. The Pentagon has declined to comment on the exact makeup of the attacking forces and Mattis appeared at a loss to explain the incident 10 days later.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Many believe that Russian President Putin green-lighted this attack .... but I am not sure of that. Russian President Putin is focused on winning the Presidential election in a few weeks .... so why launch a military attack with no air support on a U.S. military position in Syria that would probably fail (which it did). My guess is that it is someone in Syria .... probably one of the top officials who run the Russian contracting company in Syria .... who saw an opportunity along with the militias that were involved in this attack .... to take a chance without appreciating the consequences on what may happen. Also .... the U.S. has excellent intelligence in the region, and they are monitoring all communications. If the Russian military ordered this attack .... Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would not be talking in the manner that he is now .... instead it appears that he is more focused on what the timeline and who were the people involved in this disaster .... in short .... he does not know. My prediction .... the U.S. will be finding out in the days and weeks to come on who ordered this .... I can only hope that they will tell us. As to what is happening on the Russian side .... the Kremlin does not want to talk about it .... The oil field carnage that Moscow doesn't want to talk about (Tim Lister, Mary Ilyushina and Sebastian Shukla, CNN). But while they are not talking about it publicly .... I am willing to bet that behind closed doors and in private there are a lot of angry people who do want to know what happened, and there is going to be an accounting for this.

More News On The U.S. Being Unsure On Who Ordered And Directed The Syrian Attack That Left Scores Of Russian Contractors Dead In Syria

Mattis: Unclear if Russia directed attack against U.S. allies in Syria -- Military Times
U.S. Vows Probe Into Syria Attack Involving Russians -- RFE
US Says Will Investigate Syria Attack Involving Russian Citizens -- Asharq Al-awsat
400 dead Russians and Syrians, yet no one knows who ordered them to attack US forces in Syria -- Middle East Monitor

Why Did The King Of Jordan Fly To Moscow To Meet Russian President Putin?

King Abdullah II of Jordan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. © Alexei Nikolskiy/Russian Presidential press service/TASS

Shehab Al-Makahleh, Al Arabiya: Did Jordan king visit Moscow to avert disaster in the region?

The moment his plane landed in Moscow on February 15, Russian media broadcast the king while saying: “I am always very delighted and warmed by the opportunity to see my dear brother, President Putin, as a friend, a dear friend of his as well as a friend of Russia ’, with this statement King Abdullah II started his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The wording is very important at this time as the king expressed the Jordanian fears of a comprehensive regional war with non-conventional weapons which some countries have and would use at certain points and areas if war breaks out.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The war against the Islamic State may be winding down, but the old rivalries and conflicts are coming back. Jordan does not want to be in the crossfire, and they know that at least in Syria the Russians have pull.

More News On The Putin - King Abdullah II Meeting In Moscow This Week

King of Jordan hails Russia’s role in Syrian settlement -- TASS
Russia, Jordan Have Grounds to Enhance Cooperation - Putin -- Sputnik
What’s at Stake for Jordan in Moscow? -- Eleanor Beevor, Al Bawaba
Russia plays kingmaker in the Middle East -- Maria Dubovikova, Arab News

France And Germany Push for The Establishment Of An EU Army

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen talks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle Reuters

US News and World Report/Reuters: Let's Work Together on Defense, France and Germany Tell Europe

MUNICH (Reuters) - The defense ministers of Germany and France pledged to redouble their military and foreign policy cooperation efforts on Friday, inviting other European countries to participate if they felt ready to do so.

In a speech to the Munich Security Conference, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said Europe's countries would not be able to respond nimbly enough to global challenges if they were stymied by the need to decide joint foreign policy approaches unanimously.

"Europe has to up its pace in the face of global challenges from terrorism, poverty and climate change," she said. "Those who want to must be able to advance without being blocked by individual countries."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This push for a EU Army has been around for a long time. The reason why it has failed .... and will continue to fail .... is that countries like Germany are not willing to put serious money in establishing it, and the smaller countries do not trust Berlin and Paris will make them a priority in such a pact .... especially the countries that share a border with Russia.

More News On France And Germany Pushing for The Establishment Of An EU Army

Defying US, Paris and Berlin stand firm on EU defence pact -- Channel News Asia/AFP
Germany and France lead calls for greater EU unity on defence --
Exclusive: Germany’s defence minister says EU defence pact will complement NATO -- France 24

Germany's Defense Minister Denounces President Trump's Military Spending

Washington Post: German defense minister slams Trump’s military-heavy approach to security

MUNICH — German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen denounced President Trump’s military-heavy approach to global affairs Friday, saying the United States is shortchanging diplomacy and soft power in favor of a dangerous overreliance on its military.

The tough criticism, made to an audience of the world’s security elite, including an unsmiling Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, was a European riposte to Trump’s ongoing push for Europe to spend more on defense. Even as von der Leyen acknowledged her nation’s need to boost defense spending, she said that Trump’s proposed deep spending cuts to diplomacy, development aid and the United Nations could threaten international security just as much as a failure to invest enough in weaponry.

Von der Leyen’s comments at the Munich Security Conference, which were echoed by French Defense Minister Florence Parly, came amid a deepening rift in the transatlantic alliance between the United States and Europe that helped underpin the post-World War II global order. At a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels this week, Mattis criticized many allies for failing to create plans to meet their military spending commitments, and said he was worried that European Union efforts to bolster security cooperation could lead to wasteful duplication.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When you are not meeting your commitments you blame and criticize someone else. That is exactly what the German defense minister is doing .... The German Military Is Not Capable Of Fielding An Effective Force For 'Collective Defense' (January 26, 2018). And this is embarrassing .... I have lost count on how many times Germany has made this promise .... Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen: Germany will spend more on its military (DW).

Update: The soon to be ex-German foreign minister also piles on in criticizing the U.S. .... Top German diplomat: 'We no longer recognize our America' (ABC News/AP), while refusing to fulfill Germany's previous promises to NATO .... Munich Security Conference: Germany REFUSES to spend 2 percent on Nato (Express).

More News On Germany's Defense Minister Denouncing President Trump's Military Spending

German defense chief denounces Trump-era focus on militarism (Defense News)
WaPo: Germany Rips US Military Spending Amid Aid Cuts (Newsmax)
Trump’s Focus on Military Over Diplomacy Slammed by World Leaders at Global Gathering (Newsweek)

These Chinese Military Innovations Threaten U.S. Superiority

Military vehicles carrying DF-21D ballistic missiles roll through Tiananmen Square in 2015. Damir Sagolj / Reuters file

NBC: These Chinese military innovations threaten U.S. superiority, experts say

BEIJING — The Chinese New Year began with the traditional lighting of firecrackers on Friday, but the country's military has been working on incendiaries on an entirely different scale.

Over the past year, the nation that invented gunpowder has been rolling out an array of high-tech weapons that some experts say could threaten the global superiority of the United States.

"The U.S. no longer possesses clear military-technical dominance, and China is rapidly emerging as a would-be superpower in science and technology," said Elsa B. Kania, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army "might even cut ahead of the U.S. in new frontiers of military power," she added.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A good summary on what China is focused on.

Most Homes In Puerto Rico Do Not Qualify For Disaster Relief

Miami Herald: Half of Puerto Rico’s housing was built illegally. Then came Hurricane Maria.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

Gladys Peña built a home the way many thousands of people in Puerto Rico, maybe most, did for decades: in makeshift fashion.

Every week for years, Peña, a cafeteria cook, set money aside until she had enough to buy a vacant wooden shack in a densely packed working-class barrio, a one-time squatters’ community a short stroll from the towers of San Juan’s Golden Mile financial district. She knocked down most of the flimsy house, bought building materials bit by bit and gradually built herself a concrete-block first floor with little more than a kitchen in it, and then a wooden second story topped by a corrugated zinc-metal roof.

Her builders were guys from the neighborhood. Her son salvaged a rusty steel stair from an abandoned building nearby and affixed it to the front of the tiny house so she could get from the kitchen to her second-story bedroom suite, which requires going outside. To hook up to electrical power, she took out a $2,000 bank loan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I cannot imagine how these people must feel that after spending years building their home .... they now must start all over again.

Tweets For Today

Saudi Arabia Wants China And Russia To Invest In Their Upcoming Aramco IPO

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak attend a news conference at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh on February 14, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Faisal Al Nasser

M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Time: Putin prefers Aramco to Trump’s sword dance

Hardly 10 months after honoring the visiting US president, the Saudis are open to a Russian-Chinese consortium investing in the upcoming Aramco IPO

In the slideshow that is Middle Eastern politics, the series of still images seldom add up to make an enduring narrative. And the probability is high that when an indelible image appears, it might go unnoticed – such as Russia and Saudi Arabia wrapping up huge energy deals on Wednesday underscoring a new narrative in regional and international security.

The ebb and flow of events in Syria – Turkey’s campaign in Afrin and its threat to administer an “Ottoman slap” to the United States, and the shooting down of an Israeli F-16 jet – hogged the attention. But something of far greater importance was unfolding in Riyadh, as Saudi and Russian officials met to seal major deals marking a historic challenge to the US dominance in the Persian Gulf region.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a huge shift in the Middle East, and what we are seeing is essentially an emerging Russia - Saudi energy alliance. And I predict that this alliance will lead to other things .... including Russia and Saudi Arabia making economic, military, and political deals in the near future. Am I surprised by this .... no. This blog predicted this when it became known that President Obama was secretly negotiating with the Iranians on a nuclear deal. In the eyes of the Saudis they felt that this was a betrayal .... and there was going to be blow-back. This is the blow-back. The Saudis are looking for new allies and new alliances, and with their oil wealth they will have get them. And while the U.S. will continue to play a role, the days of a strategic partnership between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are now coming to an end.

Picture Of The Day

Giant panda cubs play with decorations during an event to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Dog, at Shenshuping Panda Base in Wolong, Sichuan province, China. © REUTERS/ Stringer

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Lunar New Year Celebrations Across the Globe (Sputnik).

US Northern Commander: '100 percent' Confident She Can Defend North America From A North Korean Missile Attack

Gen. Lori Robinson, the U.S. Northern Commander, (pictured right) said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea's successful nuclear and missile tests over the past year "represents the most immediate threat to our homeland, and therefore remains NORTHCOM's highest priority." (US Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers Cox/Released)

The Hill: General: '100 percent confident' in North Korea missile defense

The military official in charge of the command that defends the United States from missile threats says she's “100 percent confident” in her ability to protect the country from a North Korean ballistic missile attack, while also calling for more improvements to U.S. missile defense.

“I want to assure this committee today that I am confident that I can defend the United States,” Gen. Lori Robinson told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

“While I’m confident that we can defeat this threat today, it is critical that we continue to improve the ballistic missile defense enterprise, with emphasis on the development of improved sensor networks combined with interceptor capability and capacity in reliability.”

Robinson noted that budget predictability is key to being able to continue to protect the nation.

Read more ....

Update: US Northern Commander is '100 percent' certain she can defend America from North Korean Missiles (Washington Examiner)

WNU Editor: 100 % confident ?!?!?!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

China's Donation Of A New Headquaters For The African Union Was Fitted With Hidden Microphones And Compromised Computers

The Next Web: ‘China’s gift to Africa’: How China spied on the African Union via donated computers

For a period of 5 years, China continued to spy on all electronic communications at the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Chinese spy operation continued throughout this period without being detected until some network administrators at the AU’s headquarters discovered it in January 2017.

This is according to an investigation conducted by Le Monde which has gone on to reveal how the Chinese, who donated and built the new AU headquarters in Adis Ababa, fitted the building with hidden microphones and transferred data every night from the AU’s data center to their servers in Shanghai.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Quite a donation I would say.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in Says It Is Too Soon To Talk To North Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks North Korea's Kim Young Nam and Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. Seoul, South Korea, February 10, 2018 © Yonhap via / Reuters

CNN: South Korea's Moon puts brakes on hopes for quick talks with North

Pyeongchang, South Korea (CNN)South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Saturday it was too early to talk about hosting a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, hinting he would not rush the matter.

A high-level delegation from the North invited Moon to Pyongyang for talks with his North Korean counterpart while in South Korea last week for the opening of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The delegation's unprecedented visit was hailed in some quarters as a diplomatic breakthrough, but Moon must now chart a way through tricky diplomatic waters.

"There are high expectations and our hearts seem to be getting impatient. It is like the old saying, seeking a scorched-rice water from a well," Moon told journalists in Pyeongchang after being asked whether he planned to hold a summit with North Korea.

Read more ....

Update #1: Moon says mood for inter-Korean summit not yet ripe (Korea Times).
Update #2: US, South Korea say too soon to talk weapons with North (NYPost)

WNU Editor: Key diplomats and officials from North Korea and South Korea will be talking with each other for the next few months to discuss the agenda and the points to be covered when these leaders meet. My prediction is that they will meet this summer. I am also expecting no nuclear or missile tests until then.