The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

Mohammed bin Salman’s elevation to crown prince of Saudi Arabia in 2017 set the stage for him to pursue aggressive policies that included confrontations with many rivals around the region.

But changes to the royal line of succession and decisions by the 32-year-old crown prince at home and abroad have undermined the kingdom’s longstanding stability and left him in doubt about his own safety, according to Bruce Riedel, the director of the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project.

Prince Mohammed is reportedly aware of the growing enmity.


“Fearing for his security, the crown prince is said to spend many nights on his half-billion-dollar yacht moored in Jeddah,” Riedel wrote for Al-Monitor, where he is a columnist.

Prince Mohammed reportedly dropped a half-billion dollars on the 440-foot-long yacht, named Serene, in late 2016 after spotting it while vacationing in the south of France.

He bought it from a Russian billionaire who moved out the day the deal was signed, and the vessel includes two helipads, an indoor climbing wall, a fully equipped spa, and three swimming pools.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

(DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett)

But Prince Mohammed bought it as he helped push severe austerity at home, including major spending cuts and a freeze on government contracts. Such spending is often used to quell dissent.

“It’s a floating palace longer than a football field and with many perks,” Riedel wrote of the yacht. “It is also a potential escape hatch.”

‘A foolish and dangerous approach’

The main foreign-policy issues that have raised ire toward Prince Mohammed are the now four-year-old war in Yemen — his signature initiative — and the blockade of Qatar.

Criticism of Prince Mohammed’s bloody and disastrous war in Yemen, which has subjected many Yemenis to famine and disease, has been brewing inside Saudi Arabia for months, according to Riedel.

A video of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz — the half-brother of King Salman, the father of Prince Mohammed — publicly blaming Prince Mohammed for the war went viral in the kingdom in September 2018.

Saudi Arabia’s turn on Qatar reportedly came as a surprise to many US officials, frustrating them even as US President Donald Trump castigated the Qataris. The blockade has been unwelcome within Saudi Arabia — one cleric has been arrested and faces execution for criticizing it — and has split the Gulf Cooperation Council, Riedel wrote.

Prince Mohammed’s roundup of powerful business executives and members of the royal family in 2017 may have been his biggest domestic miscalculation. It spooked investors and led to capital flight, diminishing confidence in Prince Mohammed’s ability to manage economic issues.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and members of his delegation, March 14, 2017.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Among the dozens of businessmen and princes who were arrested was Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, the leader of the Saudi national guard, the kingdom’s premier fighting force, which, along with the campaign in Yemen, may further alienate Prince Mohammed from the military.

The removal of Prince Mutaib was seen as likely to stir discontent, and Salman’s moves, particularly the roundup, have fed the impression inside the kingdom of Salman “as someone who has disturbed the status quo for the sake of massive personal enrichment and political aggrandizement,” according to Rosie Bsheer, a history professor at Yale.

Salman remains the most likely heir as long as his father is alive, but his actions have helped make the kingdom the least stable it has been in 50 years, according to Riedel. Should King Salman, now 81, die in the near future, succession could be disputed, and the process to appoint the next king could turn violent.

“The Trump administration has given Saudi Arabia a blank check and supports its war in Yemen,” Riedel wrote. “The crown prince has been touted by the White House. It’s a foolish and dangerous approach.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mattis may see himself as the president’s ‘babysitter’

Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly views himself as President Donald Trump’s “babysitter,” and his efforts to restrain the bombastic leader apparently created tensions with former White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

McMaster sought to provide Trump with an array of military options against North Korea, but the defense secretary allegedly refused to put all the options on the table in front of Trump, McMaster aides told The New Yorker. Meanwhile, the president reportedly did not pick up on Mattis’s alleged attempts at stonewalling, and McMaster declined to expose his colleague.


One senior National Security Council official told The New Yorker that Mattis felt like he had to play “babysitter” to Trump.

What’s more, McMaster’s aides claimed the widespread reports that he was specifically pushing for a so-called “bloody nose” strike against North Korea were false. A bloody nose strike would involve an attack against North Korea strong enough to intimidate and embarrass Kim Jong Un’s regime, but not serious enough to spark a full-blown conflict. Many experts have warned such a strike could have catastrophic consequences and would not go as smoothly as its proponents believe.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
H.R. McMaster
(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist James E. Foehl)

There is limited intelligence on the location of North Korea’s military assets — including its nuclear weapons. Moreover, in November 2017, the Joint Chiefs of Staff determined that a ground invasion would be necessary to fully dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program. In short, a bloody nose strike would risk allowing North Korea to retaliate against the US or its allies with any number of military options, not excluding its nuclear arsenal.

The Trump administration’s discussions surrounding military options against North Korea largely came as the rogue state conducted a series of long-range missile tests in 2017. These tests — part of Pyongyang’s larger goal of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the mainland US — resulted in harsh economic sanctions being leveled against the reclusive nation and led to a war of words between Trump and Kim.

But North Korea’s relationship with the US appears to be shifting in 2018 as Trump and Kim are set to hold a historic meeting about denuclearization. On April 20, 2018, North Korea announced it would cease its long-range missile and nuclear tests and close its primary nuclear testing site. Trump celebrated this development on Twitter, describing it as a sign of “progress being made for all!”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How troops could get to keep destroyed gear as a memento

That shrapnel-scarred flak jacket or battle-blasted Kevlar might not have much use to the military by the time they’re turned in to an equipment issue facility for reset following a deployment.

But for the service member who wore them and lived to tell the tale, the items’ value just might be immeasurable.

A small provision in the fiscal 2019 defense budget bill aims to make it easier for the military to donate protective gear deemed no longer fit for military use to the service members who wore it during combat and other military operations.


The provision, first reported by Army Times, would grant formal permission to the military to do something that has from time to time been done informally — presenting old gear to the troops it protected as a keepsake — and tacitly acknowledges that the equipment these troops wear tells a story of its own.

“The Secretary of a military department may award to a member of the armed forces… and to any veteran formerly under the jurisdiction of the Secretary, demilitarized personal protective equipment (PPE) of the member or veteran that was damaged in combat or otherwise during the deployment of the member or veteran,” the provision reads. “The award of equipment under this section shall be without cost to the member or veteran concerned.”

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes stands with the helmet that saved his life. During a mission with his platoon, Snipes was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. The only thing that saved his life was the Kevlar helmet he wore.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander)

The stories of troops whose lives have been saved because their Kevlar helmets stopped an enemy bullet have become a genre of their own in reports from the battlefield. Photos showing Marines and soldiers mugging with shredded helmets highlight the importance of the stories these protective items tell.

One Marine Corps news release from 2005 recounts how Lance Cpl. Bradley Snipes, an anti-tank assaultman with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, was hit squarely in the head by a sniper round during a deployment to Iraq. He came away uninjured, thanks to his Kevlar.

“I was really surprised. It’s supposed to be able to stop a 7.62mm round at long distances. Well, it did,” he told a Marine combat correspondent at the time. “The gear works, don’t doubt it. This is proof.”

The story added that Snipes wanted to petition to keep his helmet as a memento. It’s not clear from the story or follow-on reports if he was given the chance to do so.

“I want to put it in a case with a plaque that says, ‘The little bullet that couldn’t,'” he said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

popular

How to start a fire with only one hand

Heading out into the wilderness for a camping trip is exhilarating and refreshing. Starting a campfire and roasting some marshmallows under the stars is a great way to get in touch with Mother Nature. Although the idea of spending a night in the great outdoors sounds incredible, campers should always remember to bring specific tools and learn important survival skills in the event they sustain an injury and help is far, far away.

It gets cold out there at night, so it’s important to know the basics of starting a fire to keep warm — even in the dire circumstance that you’ve been injured. Do you know how to start a fire with just one hand? You never know — this skill might just save your life.


The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
It’s difficult to start a fire if your arm is in a splint…

With your arm in a sling, place narrow log on the ground and then angle a knife up against it. Now, under the knife’s blade, place some dry kindling. Since you only have one-hand, squarely set your foot on the knife’s handle to secure it in place.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
Just like this.
(Black Scout Survival)

Once the knife is nice and snug, take a ferrocerium rod and strike it up against the knife’s blade. This will create a spark and, as long as your dry kindling is close enough, it will catch the spark and ignite.

Like always, provide oxygen and add kindling to feed the fire.

Note: Please remember to always create fires in a safe area regardless of your physical injuries. You don’t want to become a burn victim as well.

Check out Black Scout Survival‘s video below to get a complete breakdown on this single-handed fire starting technique.

popular

The first inspiration for ‘Rosie the Riveter’ dies at age 95

The poster of Rosie the Riveter is iconic — the red and white bandana, the bright yellow backdrop, the rolled up sleeve and “We Can Do It!” proclamation. The World War II heroine is a household name. But did you know before the art came the song? And while the identity of the woman who inspired the poster was debated for years, there was never any doubt who inspired the lyrics of ‘Rosie the Riveter:’ Rosalind P. Walter. After a long, incredible life, Walter passed away on March 4 at the age of 95.


The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

upload.wikimedia.org

For decades, the identity of the woman who inspired the poster was in question. Geraldine Hoff Doyle was largely credited as the “real Rosie,” until a deep dive into the research by scholar James Kimble proved that it was another woman: Naomi Fraley. But before any of that could happen, Walter’s time as a maintenance worker was immortalized in song.

According to PBS’s flagship station WNET in New York City, Walter spent a year as a night-shift welder at the Sikorsky aircraft plant at Bridgeport, Connecticut, which inspired Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb to write their 1943 song “Rosie the Riveter.” Walters was just 19 at the time.

“Roz,” as friends called her, was a long-time supporter of PBS and trustee for WNET. According to PBS’s Inside 13, “Walter gave crucial support to countless programs and series through the Rosalind P. Walter Foundation, including American Masters, which she helped to launch; Great Performances; NYC-ARTS; Treasures of New York; PBS NewsHour Weekend; Amanpour and Company; ALL ARTS, and the work of Ken and Ric Burns.

We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved trustee Rosalind P. Walter, who cared deeply about the value of public television and gave extraordinary support to a countless number of our programs. Our sincerest sympathies to her family.pic.twitter.com/B7sFCmGK77

twitter.com

Walter cared deeply about the quality and educational value of public television and understood the importance of reaching the broadest possible audience. She was an inspiration to the millions of viewers who benefited from her generosity — and who saw her name every evening in connection with their favorite programs.

In addition to WNET, over the years, Walter served on the boards of the American Museum of Natural History, The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television and Radio), Grenville Baker Boys Girls Club, International Tennis Hall of Fame, North Shore Wildlife Sanctuary, Long Island University, and USTA Serves.”

Roz Walters was more than just an inspiration for a song. She was a role model for generations of a tireless work ethic, unwavering patriotism and dedication to her country.

www.youtube.com

All the day long, whether rain or shine

She’s a part of the assembly line

She’s making history, working for victory

Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage

Sitting up there on the fuselage

That little frail can do more than a male can do

Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Rosie’s got a boyfriend,

Charlie Charlie,

he’s a Marine

Rosie is protecting Charlie

Workin’ overtime on the riveting machine

When they gave her a production ‘E’

She was as proud as a girl could be

There’s something true about, red, white, and blue

about Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Doo-doo-doo-doo

Ev’ryone stops to admire the scene

Rosie at work on the P-19

She’s never twittery, nervous or jittery

I’m Rosie, hm-hm-hm-hmm, the riveter

What if she’s smeared full of oil and grease

Doin’ her bit for the old lend-lease

She keeps the gang around, they love to hang around Rosie (Hm-hm-hm-hm, that’s me, the riveter)

Rosie buys a lot of War Bonds That girl really has sense Wishes she could purchase more Bonds

Putting all her extra cash in National Defense

Oh, when they gave her a production ‘E’

She was as proud as a girl could be

There’s something true about, red, white, and blue

about Rosie the riveter gal

While other girls attend their favorite cocktail bar

Sipping dry Martinis, munching caviar

There’s a girl who’s really putting them to shame

Rosie is her name

Oh, Rosie buys a lot of War Bonds

That girl really has sense

Wishes she could purchase more Bonds

Putting all her extra cash into National Defense

Oh, Senator Jones, who was in the know

Shouted these words on the radio

Berlin will hear about, Moscow will cheer about Rosie (Hah-hah-hah-hee-hee-hee),

Rosie (Hee-hee-hee-hee) Rosie the riveter gal

Rest in peace, ma’am.

Articles

Microsoft’s co-founder just helped find this long-lost Navy cruiser

Billionaire Paul Allen is known for founding Microsoft alongside Bill Gates, but after the events of the past week, he’ll also be known for helping to find an American warship missing since the end of World War II.


That vessel is none other than the storied USS Indianapolis, a Portland-class heavy cruiser which served the Navy for just under 15 years before being torpedoed on its way to Okinawa in July 1945.

The wreckage of the Indianapolis was discovered in the Philippine Sea, where it was lost upon completing a top secret mission to deliver parts for the “Little Boy” atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima. On its homecoming voyage, the cruiser was attacked by a Japanese submarine, caught completely unawares.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

At the time of its loss, the Indianapolis was, for all intents and purposes, a “ghost.” Due to the secrecy of its mission to run nuclear weapon components to the Northern Mariana Islands, it was left out of rosters and no return or deployment was scheduled on paper.

Thus, its whereabouts of the ship where wholly unknown to all but a handful of ranking officials and officers outside the vessel’s crew.

It sank rapidly in deep shark-infested waters, taking hundreds of its crew with it before they could escape the sinking ship. The surviving crew were left adrift at sea without rations or enough lifeboats to hold them. Further complicating matters was the fact that no Allied vessel operating in the area received the ship’s frantic distress signals, meaning that help was definitely not on its way.

The survivors were picked up four days later, entirely by luck. A Ventura patrol aircraft on a routine surveillance flight happened upon clumps of the sailors floating around the Philippine Sea, with no ship in sight. Of the 1196 crew aboard the cruiser, only 321 were pulled out of the water, four of whom would die soon afterward.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
Survivors of the USS Indianpolis being treated in Guam (Photo US Navy)

Exposure to the elements, starvation and dehydration were some of the primary causes of death for the survivors adrift at sea, as were shark attacks. In fact, rescue pilots were so desperate to get sailors out of the water upon seeing shark attacks happening in real time, they ordered the survivors to be strapped to the wings of their aircraft with parachute cord once the cabin was filled to capacity.

Over seven decades after the Indianapolis went missing, Paul Allen’s research vessel, dubbed the “Petrel,” found the lost ship in 18,000 feet of water, resting silently on the ocean floor. The search has been years in the making, and was ultimately successful thanks to advances in underwater remote detection technology.

This isn’t the first lost warship found by Allen’s team. In 2015, they were also responsible for discovering the Japanese battleship Musashi  — one of the largest battleships ever built — sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

The Indianapolis is officially still considered property of the U.S. Navy and will not be disturbed as it is the final resting place for hundreds of its deceased crew. Its location will henceforth only be known to Allen’s search team and the Navy.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A small bureaucratic change at the Pentagon hints a major shift for US special-operations units

If you can’t destroy the mountain, go around it.

Despite spending the past 20 years focused on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in the Middle East, the US military still outmatches its Chinese and Russian competitors. The US is the only country that can effectively respond to a military contingency anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.

Understanding that they are conventionally overpowered, China and Russia have been using irregular warfare to achieve their goals without matching the US military’s might. And they have been quite successful.

In Africa, China has been handing out development aid and infrastructure loans like candy, with the dual purpose of securing geopolitical influence and resources for its growing economy. In Asia, Beijing has been bullying its neighbors on its way toward regional supremacy.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
A US Army Green Beret and multinational Special Operations Forces disembark an MH-60S helicopter during the Rim of the Pacific exercise, July 5, 2018.
US Navy/Chief Mass Comm Specialist William Tonacchio

Russia has used social media to influence election outcomes in the US and Europe. Moscow has also been using private military companies, such as the infamous Wagner Group, to achieve strategic goals in Ukraine, Libya, and Syria, among other places.

Both countries understand that in an era of renewed great-power competition — a race between the US and Russia and China for geopolitical influence, economic advantages, and resources — irregular warfare is the ideal strategy against the US.

Now the US Department of Defense is trying to counter that threat by investing in and expanding its own irregular-warfare capabilities.

The Pentagon heralded this shift with its recent decisions to turn the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office into the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate and to release the irregular-warfare annex to the National Defense Strategy.

The creation of the directorate was included in a November memorandum signed by acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, which elevated the Pentagon’s civilian official overseeing special operations to the same level as a military service chief. The annex was released in October.

Struggle in the gray zone

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A US Special Forces soldier discusses tactics with a Latvian Zemessardze officer during a small unit exercise near Iecava, June 7, 2020.
US Navy/Lt. Rob Kunzig

The US military defines irregular warfare as a “violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s).”

Irregular warfare doesn’t necessarily mean open warfare, but it can take place in the gray zone between competition that’s below the level of armed conflict and a war that’s formally declared. It can affect all traditional and non-traditional realms of geopolitical struggle, such as the economic, diplomatic, military, intelligence, law enforcement, and cyber domains.

The difference between irregular warfare and counterterrorism is that the former is a strategy that aims to defend US global supremacy against state and non-actors, whereas the latter is a mix of activities and operations against terrorist groups and state-sponsored terrorism.

Same game, different name

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
Lithuanian National Defense Volunteer Forces members and US Army Green Berets conduct mission planning during an exercise, September 8, 2018.
US Army/Sgt. Karen Sampson

Irregular warfare isn’t new to the US military. Indeed, the US campaign against terrorist organizations over the last two decades has included elements of it. But now, the irregular warfare “target deck” has been officially updated to include near-peer adversaries, such as Russia and China.

Irregular warfare against a near-peer adversary isn’t new either, but now the Pentagon recognizes that the strategy’s utility isn’t seasonal but enduring. Previously, the US would use irregular warfare against an adversary, such as the Soviets in Afghanistan, but would then let the capability and resources dedicated to it atrophy.

The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) already has potent irregular-warfare capabilities. Army special operations, in particular, take the lead on that front.

The Army’s Green Berets specialize in foreign internal defense, which means training local troops, and in unconventional warfare, which consists of creating and leading guerrilla campaigns. Both are squarely within the gray zone of irregular warfare.

Additionally, the Army’s Civil Affairs teams help create the necessary civil and political conditions for US diplomacy and political influence to be more effective. The Army’s Psychological Operations teams also help shape the geopolitical environment to favor the US.

Other special-operations units, such as the Marine Raiders or Navy SEALs, can contribute to an irregular-warfare campaign but perhaps not as effectively as their Army counterparts.

But to ensure a robust and effective irregular-warfare capability, US military has to understand and embrace it as a whole.

The conventional side of irregular warfare

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
Cadets talk with actors playing locals during West Point Irregular Warfare Group’s Unconventional Warfare Exercise in April 2019.
US Military Academy

Policymakers have relied on special-operations forces for almost everything for years, but conventional forces also play a big role in irregular warfare.

For example, if a US aircraft carrier cruises through the South China Sea, it sends a message to China by physically contradicting Beijing’s territorial claims in the disputed region.

Similarly, when an Army mechanized brigade deploys in Eastern Europe and trains with local forces, it sends a dual message: A psychological one to the US partners and allies about American commitment in the region, and a geopolitical one to Russia, illustrating the US’s reach and influence.

Ironically, it is the conventional might of the US military that encourages adversaries to invest more in their own ability to wage irregular warfare.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The A-10 vs. F-35 showdown could happen this spring

As the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program barrels toward its final major testing process before full-rate production, program leaders say a much-discussed comparison test between the beloved A-10 Thunderbolt II and the new 5th-generation fighter is very much still in planning and could kick off as soon as April 2018.


In a roundtable discussion with reporters at the F-35 Joint Program Office headquarters near Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28, the director of the program said the final test and evaluation plan is still being constructed. That will determine, he said, when the A-10 vs. F-35 test begins, and whether it happens in the main test effort or in an earlier, more focused evaluation.

Also read: Mattis wants the F-35 to be part of the US nuclear triad

“The Congress has directed the [Defense Department] to do comparison testing, we call it,” Vice Adm. Mat Winter said. “I wouldn’t call it a flyoff; it’s a comparison testing of the A-10 and the F-35. And given that the department was given that task … that is in [the] operational test and evaluation plan.”

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht
The F-35A performs a test flight on March 28, 2013. (Lockheed Martin)

Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, or IOTE, is set to begin for the F-35 in September 2018. But two new increments of preliminary testing were recently added to the calendar to evaluate specific capabilities, Winter said.

The first increment, which was completed in January and February 2018, took place at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska and evaluated the ability of the aircraft to perform in extreme cold weather conditions, with a focus on the effectiveness of alert launches. The results of those tests have yet to be made public.

The second increment, set to begin in April 2018, will focus on close-air support capabilities, reconnaissances, and limited examination of weapons delivery, Winter said. The testing is expected to take place at Edwards Air Force Base in California and other ranges in the western United States.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

Questions surrounding the F-35’s ability to perform in a close-air support role are what prompted initial interest in a comparison between the aging A-10 “Warthog” and the cutting-edge fighter in the first place.

The requirement that the two aircraft go up against each other was included as a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 amid congressional concerns over plans to retire the A-10 and replace it with the F-35.

Related: This pilot landed her shot-up A-10 by pulling cables

In an interview with Military.com in 2017, Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, then-director of the F-35 program’s integration office, said he expected the A-10 to emerge as a better CAS platform in a no-threat environment.

But the dynamics would change, he said, as the threat level increased.

“As you now start to build the threat up, the A-10s won’t even enter the airspace before they get shot down — not even within 20 miles of the target.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Despite Russian shoot down, U.S. planes will remain in Syria

U.S. officials expressed sorrow over the shoot-down of a Russian military surveillance plane off the Syrian coast and said it would not affect the U.S. campaign against Islamic State (IS) fighters.

The comments on Sept. 18, 2018, came as Russian officials said that Syrian antiaircraft forces brought down the Il-20 plane inadvertently, but also blamed Israel for conducting a fighter jet raid on Syrian forces at around the same time.


U.S. officials said U.S. forces were not involved in the incident.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement expressing sorrow for the shoot-down, which killed 15 Russian servicemen. He also criticized Iran, which has reportedly shipped sophisticated weaponry to the Hizballah fighters in Lebanon.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

Israel has struck targets in both Lebanon and Syria, seeking to thwart Hizballah’s ambitions.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, meanwhile, told reporters that the shoot-down complicates relations between Syria and Russia but would have “no effect whatever” on the U.S. campaign to defeat the extremist group IS in Syria.

Mattis also said the incident was a reminder of why the United States supports the United Nations’ effort to end the seven-year civil war.

President Donald Trump also expressed concern about the downed Russian plane, calling it a “very sad thing” and “not a good situation.”

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Israel against conducting air raids on Syria.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Putin to express sorrow over the plane’s loss but insisted that Syria bore responsibility.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s next move in the trade war could threaten US F-35s

China is threatening the US with the possibility that it may withhold rare earth elements critical to the production of a number of different US products, including missiles and stealth fighters.

The US has been turning up the heat on China in the ongoing trade war. Now, Chinese media is warning that China can up the stakes.

“United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back,” the People’s Daily, the paper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, wrote May 29, 2019, according to Reuters.

“Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on for no reason at all? The answer is no mystery,” the newspaper explained in a commentary, ominously adding, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you!”


Other Chinese media outlets released similar articles.

Rare earth elements, of which China produces the overwhelming majority, play an important role in the production of defense systems. For example, a US Navy Virginia-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine requires 9,200 pounds of rare earth metals, while an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer needs 5,200 pounds.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class RJ Stratchko)

US defense contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin use rare earth metals to make high-end guidance systems and sensors for missiles and other military platforms, Reuters reported.

An F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth-generation stealth jet built to give the US an edge over rivals like China, requires 920 pounds of rare earth materials, according to Asia Times, which reported that the US has an almost nonexistent ability to produce rare earth materials.

“The US side wants to use the products made by China’s exported rare earths to counter and suppress China’s development,” the People’s Daily argued May 29, 2019. “The Chinese people will never accept this!”

The paper’s rhetoric suggests that China would intentionally take aim at the US defense sector, which Beijing believes is working to contain China’s rise.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

An F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The US relies on China for as much as 80% of its rare earth materials, according to Bloomberg. “Rare earths are a niche specialty and critical to the Defense Department,” Simon Moores, managing director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, told the outlet.

“Rare earths are essential to the production, sustainment, and operation of US military equipment,” a 2016 Government Accountability Office report explained, adding that “Reliable access to the necessary material, regardless of the overall level of defense demand, is a bedrock requirement for DOD.”

Were China to pull the plug, it could certainly lead to complications, although there is the possibility that the department could turn to alternative sources given that its requirement is only 1% of the total US demand for rare earth elements.

Beijing has not yet said that it will take this step, but is certainly troubling that Chinese media is threatening this move as a potential response to US actions in the trade war.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This miniatures game helps you re-fight World War II

World War II has always been a popular subject for wargamers. On land, sea, or air, this conflict has an extensive library of options, whether it be a board game, a computer game, or miniatures rules. But all games are not equal. There are also tradeoffs – each type of game has its pros and cons.

One miniatures game for the World War II era (and about a decade beyond) is Command at Sea, part of the Admiralty Trilogy of wargames designed by Larry Bond. Bond’s most famous wargame, Harpoon, is notable for its use by author Tom Clancy in the development of Red Storm Rising.


Command at Sea is now in its fourth edition since 1994. This version has been harmonized so that its simulations are in the same format as the other games in the Admiralty Trilogy, Harpoon and Fear God and Dreadnought. This means that those who have these games could cover a war from 1989 to 2018 with very little difficulty.

The Saudi crown prince is hiding out on his superyacht

Can you, as America, did, turn back the Japanese in the Pacific, despite having power ships like the heavy cruiser Takao and the battleship Kirishima?

(Imperial Japanese Navy photo)

A substantial number of additional modules, supporting every major combatant and theater of the war, are available. One that came with earlier versions of the game is The Rising Sun in the Pacific, which covers the first half of the Second World War in the Pacific Theater, where pivotal battles like the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, and the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal can be re-fought on one’s own tabletop, along with possible battles that could have taken place had history gone differently.

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USS Enterprise (CV 6) preparing to launch planes against the Japanese.

(US Navy photo)

Other modules include American Fleets, which covers just about every ship class and aircraft the United States used during the war, and a few, like the Montana-class battleships, which didn’t make it to the fleet. Another module is Steel Typhoon, which covers the second half of World War II in the Pacific with 36 scenarios of both historical and hypothetical battles. The system doesn’t just cover World War II. The Spanish Civil War, fought before World War II was seen as inevitable is covered in a module.

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With Command at Sea, USS Tuscaloosa (CA 37) could have a very different service career during World War II.

(US Navy photo)

Since this is a set of miniature rules, it has some advantages over computer simulations. The online store Wargamevault.com has this game and the modules in both downloadable PDF and hard-copy versions.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How Florent Groberg earned his Medal of Honor

Just shy of twenty years ago, Florent Groberg was getting ready to graduate from high school. He was a newly-minted American, an immigrant from France. Like many Americans, he went on to college and studied things he was passionate about while playing college sports in his spare time.

Unlike many Americans, Groberg didn’t go off to work in the civilian sector after graduating. Groberg joined the U.S. Army and became an officer in 2008. That decision would alter the course of his life forever.


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President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor to retired U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg

Since entering the Army in 2008, Groberg has had some 33 surgeries and was retired from the service. His time in the Army was, of course, consequential for many, not just himself. His second tour in Afghanistan would be the defining event of his service.

He was a Personal Security Detachment Commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province in August 2012. One day, while escorting high-ranking senior American and Afghan leaders to the provincial governor’s compound, Groberg noticed one person making a beeline for their protected formation. Noticing a significant bulge in the man’s clothing, the Army officer didn’t just shout at the man, he ran toward him.

Before anyone else could react, Capt. Groberg used his body to push the would-be suicide bomber away from the formation, not once but twice before he could detonate his vest. The blast killed four members of the formation but it could have been a lot worse – Groberg managed to push the man well outside the formation’s perimeter, limiting the damage to the group, while taking the brunt of it himself. The blast detonated a second vest nearby, which blew up almost harmlessly.

For Groberg, the first explosion was anything but harmless. The blast took off half of his calf leg muscle while damaging his nervous system, blowing his eardrums, and delivering a traumatic brain injury – but it could have been a whole lot worse.

You can catch Florent Groberg speak at the 2019 Military Influencer Conference in the Washington, D.C. area on Sept. 8-10, 2019, courtesy of Caliber Home Loans.

Articles

Satellites show N. Korea is amping up nuke program

In a revelation that has strategic implications for Japan, analysis of satellite imagery shows the existence of North Korea’s second submersible test-stand barge — a sign that the nuclear-armed country could be ramping up development of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.


According to the analysis released May 1 by the 38 North website, a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the barge was identified in commercial satellite images taken April 19 of the Nampo Naval Shipyard on the country’s west coast.

The isolated nation already operates one barge on the country’s eastern coast, at the Sinpo South Shipyard, from where it has conducted at least four — but as many as six — test-launches of the Pukguksong-1, or KN-11, SLBM since 2014, when that barge was first seen.

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According to the report, the newly detected barge appears to be identical in size and layout to the original. Such barges are used by navies to test underwater new and modified submarine missile launch tubes and systems, and to conduct initial test-launches before the systems are installed in submarines.

“The discovery of a second missile test barge may have a number of implications for the future of North Korea’s SLBM program that appears to be an important priority for Kim Jong Un,” the report said, adding that the timing of the barges’ acquisition could help reveal the direction of the program.

Also read: The tension between North Korea and the US is not good

If both were acquired at the same time, the report said, it would imply that Pyongyang is planning a more extensive test program than it has conducted so far.

It is unclear if the new barge was acquired or manufactured by the North, but since there have been no indications of barge construction work at the North’s west coast naval shipyards over the past year, that suggests the vessel had been acquired from abroad.

“Since the second barge seems to have been acquired three years after the first, this could mean that North Korea is planning to accelerate its SLBM test program to include a west coast component or develop new SLBM designs, or that it may deploy a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet,” the report said. “None of these possibilities are mutually exclusive.”

The Pukguksong-1 would give the reclusive state a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent since the threat of a retaliatory second-strike would throw a wrench into any scenario where the U.S., South Korea, and Japan attempt to preemptively destroy North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Related: US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

According to David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Pukguksong-1 has a maximum range similar to the North’s Rodong missile of about 1,250 km, allowing it reach most or all of Japan from a submarine located near the Korean coast.

However, the North’s submarine fleet remains limited in range as it is undergoing a modernization revamp, and would currently be easily detectable by superior U.S., South Korean, and Japanese anti-submarine warfare technology.

Experts say any scenario involving an attempted firing of a Pukguksong-1 from the Sea of Japan by submarine would effectively be a suicide mission for the North.

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