US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

The U.S. State Department has called on other nations to repatriate and prosecute their citizens captured by U.S. Kurdish allies in Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of militias dominated by the Kurdish YPG, “has demonstrated a clear commitment to detain these individuals securely and humanely,” the department’s spokesman, Robert Palladino, said in a statement on Feb. 4, 2019.

The alliance, known as the SDF, say they have detained more than 900 foreign fighters who had traveled to Syria to fight with the extremist group Islamic State.


They are also holding more than 4,000 family members of IS fighters.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Questions arose about what the SDF would do with the prisoners it is holding after President Donald Trump announced in December 2018 that the United States would withdraw all of its 2,000 troops from Syria.

Few countries have so far expressed any readiness to repatriate their citizens.

Washington is set to host a meeting on Feb. 6, 2019, of about a dozen coalition partners fighting against the IS group.

IS militants have lost virtually all the territory they once held in Syria and neighboring Iraq, but Palladino said it remains “a significant terrorist threat.”

“Collective action is imperative to address this shared international security challenge,” he added.

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

Articles

This is what it means to make a ‘Fini Flight’ in the US Air Force

The final day of work comes upon everyone. Some people take a long lunch with coworkers to hand out gifts and going away mementos. Others choose to quietly go out as they either prepare for retirement or moving on to their next job.


US military pilots take to the skies and soar one last time alongside wingmen from their unit.

Their emotional last day at a unit isn’t just celebrated like a last day at an office. Pilots stick to a tradition that’s as old as the Air Force itself: the final flight, known widely amongst aircrew members as the ‘fini flight.’

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel

The tradition was initially celebrated to accompany milestones in the career of Airmen of all ranks and positions. To find the first documented fini flight, one would have to reach back in history as far as Vietnam, when an aircrew commemorated the completion of 100 missions.

Since then, the way final flights have been celebrated has changed, but the sentiments have remained.

“Traditions such as this are great examples of esprit de corps throughout the Air Force community,” said Steven Frank, 27th Special Operations Wing historian. “It can also help create strong bonds of camaraderie and teamwork among past, current, and future generations of Airmen.”

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
USAF photo by Senior Airman Lauren Main

Today, these final flights are celebrated not for one Airman’s accomplishments but an entire crew’s across the Air Force. They’re used for all ranks and positions to honor their contributions to the unit.

Once the plane lands, it is acknowledged with a formal water salute, where two firetrucks shoot water over the plane creating an arch with plumes of water collapsing down on the plane as it taxis in.

Upon halting the plane, the pilot exits to an immediate barrage of water as their family, friends, and coworkers douse them with fire hoses. Celebratory champagne follows soon after (or whenever their peers decide they had enough water) and thus gives them time to reflect with friends and loved ones on the time they’ve had together at that unit.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
USAF photo by Senior Airman Tara Fadenrecht

Frank says it’s one of the many examples of military cultural institutions that Airmen are proud to participate in.

“Fini flights are just one example of over a hundred years of Air Force traditions and heritage that honors the sacrifices and victories previous generations of Airmen have made to secure our freedoms,” Frank said. “Every Air Force organization continues to make contributions to the Air Force story and the exploration and awareness of each unit’s past can help encourage a sense of increased pride and respect for every Airman’s career field and organization.”

Whether they’re pilots who’ve tallied thousands of hours in a particular aircraft or crew who man weapons that deliver air power, fini flights are a longstanding tradition that remain one of the most exhilarating ways to recognize the very best amongst the Air Force’s ranks.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Dennis Rodman might attend the world’s most important meeting

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman will reportedly be in Singapore when President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a landmark summit on June 12, 2018, according to sources cited in a New York Post report on June 5, 2018.

“No matter you might think about his presence. One thing’s for sure the ratings will be huge,” a source said in the report. “A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy, countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill and whether you agree with it or not Dennis Rodman fits the bill.”


Rodman has developed a rapport with Kim over the last several years, so much so that he made two trips to the reclusive nation and is one of the few American citizens to have met with its leader. Kim is widely believed to be a fan of the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Rodman was on the team from 1995 to 1998, playing alongside the legendary Michael Jordan.

Rodman has a connection to Trump, who hosted NBC’s reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” In 2013, Rodman was fired by Trump on the show, after misspelling Melania Trump’s name on a promotional poster as “Milania.”

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
President Donald Trump
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Rodman will reportedly arrive in Singapore on June 11, 2018, and could have some role in the upcoming negotiations, sources told the Post, but it’s unclear what that role could be.

Rodman, who fancies himself a sports ambassador to North Korea, said that he did not “want to take all the credit” for laying the groundwork for the summit.

“I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘I did this. I did that.’ No, that’s not my intention,” Rodman told the celebrity gossip outlet TMZ in April 2018. “And I’ve always asked [Kim] to talk to me because he wants the people of North Korea — and the government over there asked me to talk to Donald Trump about what they want and how we can solve things.”

The meeting between Trump and Kim will be held at the Capella Hotel in Singapore. It will be the first such dialogue between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

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

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5 reasons why troops dominate civilian obstacle courses

Troops and veterans often check their social media accounts to find their civilian friends from home posting photos of their latest foray into fun runs or obstacle courses.

This gives troops the idea of joining in on the fun — and why not? The troops may not always win, but you can be damn sure they’ll come out in the top ten percent. And it looks even more impressive when they do it while covered in enough mud to hide from the Predator.

Coincidentally, troops can put their awesome ass-kicking skills to the test when Spartan Race returns to military installations this summer.


US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

And we do it while hungover.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson)

Morning PT is much harder than most normal workouts

Barring any physical restriction, troops always keep themselves at peak physical performance. They’re not out there bragging about that one time they went to the gym (in early January), they’re out there every morning doing what they must to remain fit.

And while it may seem like the combat arms units are working harder than support units, the fact is that even the guys in, say, the motor pool, are still getting a much more difficult workout on a daily basis than most dudes collecting selfies at the gym.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Then, after morning PT, we go hard AF in the gym — meaning that civilians are screwed.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander C. Henninger)

Morning PT is well-rounded

One of the biggest mistakes of fitness newcomers is that they focus in on one aspect of training. They target one muscle and they go hard. Sure, it’s great that you can curl the bells on the bottom rack, but it’s laughable that you think you’ll look like Arnold by skipping leg day.

Obstacle courses don’t exclusively require lifting heavy things and putting them down. To find real success, you need to max out your entire body. It just so happens that much of what’s required to dominate an obstacle course is built into the morning PT schedule.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Despite what people with a fear of heights think, this tower is actually a rest opportunity.

(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. 1st Class Lisa M. Litchfield)

We’ve got the technique

Which brings us to the actual obstacle course itself. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a course that doesn’t include the classic “low crawl under barbed wire” and a sheer wall to climb. If you’ve never attempted either of these, prepare to be gassed.

The biggest secret about obstacle courses is that it requires brain more than it does brawn. Almost anyone can climb a rope if they know the proper technique (curl the rope onto one of your feet and step on it with the other, clinching it so you don’t fall). We know how to climb, crawl, and run with the best of them.

And when an obstacle calls for physical strength, well… see points one and two above.

Coordination without communication

Some obstacle courses require teamwork. Civilians, in general, will waste precious time figuring out how to approach a challenge while the troops just nod at each other and instinctively know.

This isn’t magic. This is because troops have worked for so long and so hard with their fellow troops that words aren’t needed. Years of training means that you know what your squadmates’ weaknesses are and who among you has the strength to negate them.

Take a look at the video below. You’ll see troops first lift the strong guys, followed by the weaker guys, followed finally by the two who can complete the obstacle themselves.

Failure is not an option

Typically, there isn’t some big cash prize at the end. Being the first to complete an obstacle course out in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to land you any product endorsements (probably). Most people are there test themselves and have a good time.

Troops, on the other hand, take everything as a challenge because, in our minds, second place really means, “first place loser.” Even if the grand prize is just some plastic trophy that’ll sit on the back of a shelf, you best believe that troops are going for it. To us, that piece of plastic spells victory.

If you feel like showing the world what you can do, check out the Spartan Race and see if it’s coming to your installation!

MIGHTY HISTORY

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

The USS America was a Kitty Hawk-class supercarrier first built in the 1960s and served through the Vietnam War, Cold War clashes, and on into Desert Storm. Decommissioned in 1996, the Navy decided the ship’s best post-service use was as a target. America would help design the newest fleet of supercarriers to be even less vulnerable to enemy fire than she was.

The America did not go down easy. For four weeks the Navy hit the ship with everything they could muster, short of a nuclear weapon.


Even today, the wreck lies in one piece at the bottom of the ocean near Cape Hatteras. Despite the Navy’s best efforts, they just could not sink the indefatigable carrier. The last time any carrier was lost to battle damage in combat was in World War II, where 12 such ships were sent to the bottom after heavy fighting. The America didn’t engage in combat, but the attacking forces were out to hit her as if she had. The sinking of America was a test run for vulnerabilities in American aircraft carrier designs.

The good news is that China is going to have a really hard time doing it, even if they use an intercontinental ballistic missile. The bad news is that it’s somehow possible to sink these floating behemoths, and if done could kill up to 6,000 American sailors. Still, good luck getting close.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

The wake left by America following her use as a live-fire target in 2005; the ship was used as a platform to test how the hull of large aircraft carriers would hold up against underwater attacks. Following the tests, America was scuttled, serving as a further test of the sinking of a large aircraft carrier.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Carriers traverse the waves with an entourage of submarines, cruisers, and other support craft, as well as potentially dozens of fighter and electronic warfare aircraft that would make even getting close to the carrier a nearly suicidal feat. Once in close, actually hitting the ship with any kind of accuracy is just as hard – and if you do, the chances of striking a death blow are virtually nil.

For the America, teams of scientists and military engineers targeted the ship repeatedly for a full month, both above and below the waterline using anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, and almost anything else they could think to throw at the old girl and still, she persisted. It wasn’t until a team of dedicated explosives experts boarded the ship and purposefully destroyed it that it gave way and sank to the bottom.

But even the Vietcong tried that move – and the USS Card was back up and fighting in no time. So maybe it’s just best to avoid a fight with an American carrier.

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This is what it’s like to fire an 81mm mortar

Artillery is the king of the battlefield, but the big artillery pieces can’t be everywhere at once – and sometimes their response time is pretty long. Thankfully, for the grunts of today, the mortar is available. Think of this as portable artillery – capable of providing some very quick-response fire support for grunts.


The M252 Medium Weight Extended Range Mortar fits right into a vital niche, especially for lighter infantry units like the 10th Mountain Division, 82nd Airborne Division, and Marine units. According to a fact sheet from the Minnesota National Guard, this system weighs 91 pounds and is operated by a crew of three. That said, usually there will be other guys assigned to help carry additional rounds.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
Spc. Scott Davis, mortarman with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, adjusts the sights of an M252A1 mortar system. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joshua Petke/released)

The system can fire up to 30 rounds a minute, but you’re more likely to sustain a rate of 16 rounds a minute. A wide variety of ammo is available as well – anything from high explosive rounds to illumination flares to smoke rounds to white phosphorous. In short, this mortar, usually held at the battalion level of the light units, can do anything from concealing friendly troops to marking targets to blowing bad guys to smithereens.

As is the case with Ma Deuce and machine guns, mortar crews need proper training and plenty of practice to make the most of these systems. The procedures can be rehearsed sometimes using the M880 short-range round, but other times, you need to go out to the range and do the live-fire “full Monty.”

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
U.S. Army soldiers fire mortar rounds at suspected Taliban fighting positions during Operation Mountain Fire in Barge Matal, a village in eastern Nuristan province, Afghanistan. (US Army photo)

You can see troops train on the M252 at the mortar range at the Grafenwoehr training area in the video below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is stealing American technology to grow its sub fleet

China has made marked advancements in its undersea-warfare capabilities and is using stolen US technology to further that progress, US Navy Adm. Philip Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 17, 2018.

Davidson, who was before the committee as the nominee to lead US Pacific Command, told senators in written testimony that while the US has a “significant asymmetric advantage in undersea warfare,” the Chinese navy “is making progress” and that Beijing “has identified undersea warfare as a priority, both for increasing their own capabilities as well as challenging ours.”


China has invested considerable resources in its submarine fleet. Since 2002, it has built 10 nuclear subs: six Shang I- and II-class nuclear-powered attack subs — capable of firing antiship and land-attack missiles — and four Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile subs, according to a 2017 US Defense Department assessment.

China also maintains a large fleet of advanced diesel-electric subs, which are heavily armed and allow Beijing to project power throughout the Pacific and into the Indian Ocean.

“They maintain investments in undersea warfare as one of their key priorities moving forward,” Davidson said when asked by Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal to assess Beijing’s progress.

Davidson called the US’s edge under the Pacific a “perishable advantage,” and when Blumenthal asked if China was working to eliminate it, he answered in the affirmative.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
Los Angeles-class attack sub USS Tucson prepares to moor at Yokosuka, Japan, December 1, 2017.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian G. Reynolds)

“They have new submarines on both the ballistic-missile side and the attack-submarine side, and they’re achieving numbers in the build of those submarines as well,” he told the committee. “They’re also pursuing other technologies to give them better insights into our operations in the undersea domain.”

According to Davidson’s written testimony, those technologies include “quieter submarines armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons, unmanned underwater vehicles, new sensors, and new fixed-wing and rotary-wing submarine-hunting aircraft.”

Davidson also told the committee that he believed China was “stealing technology in just about every domain and trying to use it to their advantage.”

“One of the main concerns that we have is cyber and penetration of dot-com networks, exploiting technology from our defense contractors in some instances,” Davidson said when asked what means China was using to steal technology. “And certainly their pursuit in academia is producing some of these understandings for them to exploit.”

Davidson said he thought there was more to be done across the Defense Department in order thwart such theft, and that the US “should insist on higher standards for the systems that we buy from the commercial” industry.

‘There is some opportunity there’

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
Lt. Christopher Ground, damage-control assistant aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard, gives a tour to sailors from the Indian navy.
(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Preston/Released)

Other countries along the Pacific rim and in the Indian Ocean are looking to bolster their navies— their submarine forces in particular — in response to China’s development. Many of those countries, unsure of the US’s commitment to providing security in a potential conflict, are also putting more effort into working together through bilateral and trilateral security agreements.

Davidson emphasized the need for a “whole of government” approach by the US to deal with China, but also underscored the importance of international partnerships.


“It’s very, very important to have network of allies and partners with us on this journey,” he told the committee. “The free and open international order has been dependent on free nations working together in that regard.”

Asked about the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad — which was first mentioned in 2007 as a partnership between the US, Japan, Australia, and India but has been on hold for much of the past decade — Davidson was optimistic.

“I think there is some opportunity there … absolutely to come together on areas where our interests converge,” he told senators. “I’ve traveled to Japan and Australia quite a bit. I’ve got good relationships in Australia, absolutely, and I look forward to building those relationships and see where I can find out where these interests converge and what the opportunity might be.”

Davidson noted that the US-India relationship “is potentially the most historic opportunity we have in the 21st century, and I intend to pursue that quite rigorously.

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

Articles

This Russian mobile Howitzer is a beast

The Russian Ministry of Defense released a statement on Sept. 4 saying that its new Koalitsiya-SV howitzer, which Moscow claims shoots farther than any western gun, will be ready for service by 2020.


While Russia is well known for making outlandish claims about its military hardware, the new 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV, by all accounts, may live up to the hype.

First unveiled in 2015, the Koalitsiya-SV, also known as “Coalition-SV,” is a 152mm self-propelled gun that can reportedly fire up to 15-20 rounds a minute, according to The National Interest.

This range of automation is far superior to western guns, like the US M109 Paladin, which fires 6 rounds a minute.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
A US Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq. US Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht.

The Coalition-SVs high level of automation also allows it to be operated by a two or three-man crew, while the Paladin requires six.

The Koalitsiya-SV can reportedly fire rounds up to 43 miles, much farther than the Paladin at 18 miles and Great Britain’s AS90 Braveheart at 24 miles.

It’s also capable of firing a variety of rounds, like standard and rocket-assisted, high-explosive, fragmentation projectiles, cluster projectiles, and jammer projectiles, according to military-today.com. These projectiles, however, unlike Russia’s new long-range precision-guided shell, have firing ranges of less than 43 miles.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
The Russian Koalitsiya-SV. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vitaly Kuzmin.

Given Moscow’s budgetary problems, we’ll have to wait and see if the Coalition-SV is mass produced.

In any event, the “introduction of … the Koalitsiya-SV [is] a significant boost to the Russian Ground Forces’ artillery forces,” Dave Majumdar wrote in The National Interest in June.

MIGHTY MOVIES

11 things you should know about the 25th James Bond film

More details about next year’s 25th installment in the James Bond 007 franchise were revealed on April 25, 2019, with one glaring omission: the movie’s title.

During an event at James Bond author Ian Fleming’s GoldenEye villa in Jamaica, the cast and filming locations for “Bond 25” were confirmed. The movie will take audiences to London, Italy, and more. Daniel Craig’s Bond will be joined by returning faces such as Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw’s Q, and a recent Oscar winner was revealed to be the movie’s villain.

“Bond 25” has had a rough journey to this point, though. The movie was pushed back from its original release date this November to next spring after director Danny Boyle exited the project over creative differences. Now, “Killing Eve” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has joined to polish the script.

It’s unknown when the movie’s title will be revealed, but for now, here is everything we know about “Bond 25.”


US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

(MGM)

1. Bond 25 comes to theaters April 8, 2020.

It was originally scheduled for this November.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

(Flickr photo)

2. It’s directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.

Fukunaga is known for directing the first season of HBO’s “True Detective,” the Netflix original movie “Beasts of No Nation,” and the Netflix limited series “Maniac.”

He replaced “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle, who was originally attached to direct Bond 25, but exited last year over creative differences.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

3. The movie is written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns, and “Killing Eve” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

It was confirmed Thursday that Waller-Bridge had joined.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

4. Daniel Craig will return for his fifth, and final, movie as Bond.

Craig will return as Bond despite saying in 2015 that he’d rather “break glass and slit” his wrists than play Bond again.

Variety reported last year that he’d be paid million for Bond 25.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

(20th Century Fox)

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Fiennes in “Specre.”

(Columbia Pictures)

6. Ralph Fiennes is returning as M.

He took over the title from Judi Dench for 2015’s “Spectre.”

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Harris in “Spectre.”

(Columbia Pictures)

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Whishaw in “Skyfall.”

(Columbia Pictures)

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
RAMI MALEK

(Disney)

9. Oscar-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody” actor Rami Malek has joined the cast, likely as the villain.

“I promise you all I will be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in this, his 25th outing,” Malek said in a video message on Twitter on Thursday.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

De Armas in “Blade Runner 2049.”

(Columbia Pictures)

10. Other additions to the cast include Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, and Dali Benssalah.

Magnussen is known for his role as Ryan in “Game Night”; de Armas was the AI Joi in “Blade Runner 2049”; Dencik will appear in the upcoming HBO mini-series, “Chernobyl”; Lynch recently starred in “Captain Marvel” as Maria Rambeau; and Benssalah has starred in the French film, “A Faithful Man.”

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

(Twitter)

11. Filming locations for the movie include Jamaica, Norway, London, and Italy.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Weird flex: Turkey doubles down on buying Russian S-400 missile system

The leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees warned Turkey on April 9, 2019, that it risked tough sanctions if it pursued plans to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense systems, and they threatened further legislative action.

“By the end of the year, Turkey will have either F-35 advanced fighter aircraft on its soil or a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system. It will not have both,” Republican Sens. Jim Risch and Jim Inhofe and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Jack Reed said in a New York Times opinion column.


Risch is chairman of Foreign Relations and Menendez is ranking Democrat. Inhofe chairs Armed Services, where Reed is ranking Democrat.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

President Donald Trump with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the UN General Assembly in New York, Sept. 21, 2017.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

As committee leaders, the senators have powers such as placing “holds” on major foreign weapons sales and major roles in writing legislation, which could include punishing Turkey if it goes ahead with the S-400 deal.

The senators said Turkey would be sanctioned, as required under US law, if it goes ahead with the S-400 purchase.

“Sanctions will hit Turkey’s economy hard — rattling international markets, scaring away foreign direct investment and crippling Turkey’s aerospace and defense industry,” they said.

Turkey is a member of the F-35 development program and produces between 6% and 7% of the jet’s components, including parts of the fuselage and cockpit displays. Turkey had planned to buy 100 of the advanced fighters; it has already received two of them.

The US and fellow NATO member Turkey have been at loggerheads over Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400s, which are not compatible with NATO systems. Washington also says Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s would compromise the security of F-35 fighter jets, which are built by Lockheed Martin and use stealth technology.

Concerns are centered on the potential for the S-400 system to gather data about how the F-35 and its advanced technology, including its stealth and radar, operate.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

A US Air force F-35 on display at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

At the end of March 2019, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would block the transfer of F-35 technology to Turkey “until [the US] certifies that Turkey will not accept deliver of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system.”

Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, one of that bill’s cosponsors, questioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the issue on April 9, 2019.

“The clear and resolute position of the administration is if Turkey gets delivery of the S-400s, it will not get delivery of the F-35s. Is that correct?” Van Hollen asked Pompeo during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

“I have communicated that to them privately, and I will do so again publicly right here,” Pompeo replied.

Van Hollen then asked if the .5 billion purchase of the S-400 would trigger action under the “significant transactions” clause of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.

Pompeo said he would not make a legal conclusion but acknowledged such a purchase would be “a very significant transaction.”

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

An F-35A on a test flight, March 28, 2013.

(Lockheed Martin photo)

CAATSA was passed 2017 and is meant as a response to Russian action abroad, including the 2014 incursion into Ukraine and interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The US has already sanctioned China for purchasing Russian military hardware, including the S-400.

However the bill includes a waiver that could be applied to some countries. India, which the US has worked more closely with in recent years, has thus far avoided sanctions for its planned purchase of the S-400 system.

Turkish officials have responded to the controversy by doubling down on their plans to buy the S-400.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on April 9, 2019, that Ankara may consider buying more units of the Russian-made air-defense system if it can buy the US’s Patriot missile system, which the US has previously offered to sell Turkey.

Cavusoglu also said that if the F-35s weren’t delivered, then he “would be placed in a position to buy the planes I need elsewhere.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said that Ankara could acquire the S-400s earlier than planned.

“The delivery of the S-400 missile-defense system was to be in July. Maybe it can be brought forward,” Turkish media quoted him as saying on April 10, 2019, after a trip to Russia.

Reporting for Reuters by Patricia Zengerle; editing by David Gregorio

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Russians are messing with global GPS

On May 15, 2018, under a sunny sky, Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a bright-orange truck in a convoy of construction vehicles for the opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge from Russia to Crimea. At 11 miles long, it is now the longest bridge in Europe or Russia.

As Putin drove across the bridge, something weird happened. The satellite navigation systems in the control rooms of more than 24 ships anchored nearby suddenly started displaying false information about their location. Their GPS systems told their captains they were anchored more than 65 kilometers away — on land, at the Anapa Airport.


This was not a random glitch, according to the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a security think tank known as C4ADS. It was a deliberate plan to make it difficult for anyone nearby to track or navigate around the presence of Putin, it said.

‘All critical national infrastructures rely on GNSS to some extent’ — and the Russians have started hacking it

The Russians have started hacking into the global navigation satellite system on a mass scale to confuse thousands of ships and airplanes about where they are, a study of false GNSS signals by C4ADS found.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

Putin driving two construction workers across the Kerch Strait Bridge.

GNSS comprises the constellation of international satellites that orbit Earth. The US’s Global Positioning System, China’s BeiDou, Russia’s Glonass, and Europe’s Galileo program are all part of GNSS.

Your phone, law enforcement, shipping, airlines, and power stations — anything dependent on GPS time and location synchronization — are all vulnerable to GNSS hacking. A 2017 report commissioned by the UK Space Agency said that “all critical national infrastructures rely on GNSS to some extent, with Communications, Emergency Services, Finance, and Transport identified as particularly intensive users.” An attack that disabled GNSS in Britain would cost about £1 billion every day the system was down, the report said.

The jamming, blocking, or spoofing of GNSS signals by the Russian government is “more indiscriminate and persistent, larger in scope, and more geographically diverse than previous public reporting suggested,” said a recent Weekly Intelligence Summary from Digital Shadows, a cybersecurity-monitoring service.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

This diagram shows GPS signals for a ship jumping between the accurate location at sea and a false location at a nearby airport.

(C4ADS)

Nearly 10,000 incidents of ships being sent bad location data

The C4ADS study found that:

  • 1,311 civilian ships have been affected.
  • 9,883 incidents were reported or detected.

Until the past couple of years, C4ADS thought the Russians used GNSS jamming or spoofing mostly to disguise Putin’s whereabouts.

For instance, a large area over Cape Idokopas, near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea coast of Russia, appears to be within a permanent GNSS-spoofing zone. The cape, believed to be Putin’s summer home, or dacha, contains a vast and lavish private residence — “a large Italianate palace, several helicopter pads, an amphitheatre, and a small port,” C4ADS said. It is the only private home in Russia that enjoys the same level of airspace protection and GNSS interference as the Kremlin.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria

C4ADS thinks Putin’s summer home is protected by a permanent GNSS-spoofing zone.

(C4ADS)

‘Russian forces had developed mobile GNSS jamming units to provide protection for the Russian president’

“The geographical placement of the spoofing incidents closely aligns with places where Vladimir Putin was making overseas and domestic visits, suggesting that Russian forces had developed mobile GNSS jamming units to provide protection for the Russian president,” Digital Shadows said. “The incidents also align with the locations of Russian military and government resources. Although in some areas the motive was likely to restrict access to or obstruct foreign military.”

Ships sailing near Gelendzhik have reported receiving bogus navigation data on their satellite systems.

“In June 2017, the captain of the merchant vessel Atria provided direct evidence of GNSS spoofing activities off the coast of Gelendzhik, Russia, when the vessel’s on-board navigation systems indicated it was located in the middle of the Gelendzhik Airport, about 20km away. More than two dozen other vessels reported similar disruptions in the region on that day,” C4ADS said.

An million superyacht was sent off course by a device the size of a briefcase

Most of the incidents were recorded in Crimea, the Black Sea, Syria, and Russia.

Perhaps more disturbingly, GNSS-spoofing equipment is available to almost anyone for just a few hundred dollars.

“In the summer of 2013, a research team from The University of Texas at Austin successfully hijacked the GPS navigation systems onboard an million superyacht using a ,000 device the size of a small briefcase,” C4ADS said. “The experimental attack forced the ship’s navigation systems to relay false positioning information to the vessel’s captain, who subsequently made slight course corrections to keep the ship seemingly on track.”

Since then, the cost of a GNSS-spoofing device has fallen to about 0, C4ADS said, and some people have used them to cheat at “Pokémon Go.”

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

Articles

Another US Navy ship dodges a rebel missile off of Yemen

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) transits through the Suez Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky)


While the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) dodged three anti-ship missile attacks in one week, and USS Nitze (DDG 94) sent a three-Tomahawk salvo in response, another American ship came under attack in the Bab el Mandab.

According to a release on the Facebook page of USS San Antonio (LPD 17), the amphibious vessel was targeted by anti-ship missiles on October 13. The attack failed, according to Commander D. W. Nelson’s post. The amphibious vessel was transiting the chokepoint between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, carrying the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The attack could prompt the Navy to act on proposals to fit two 8-cell Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems on to the San Antonio-class ships. The systems would then be able to accommodate the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile. With a range of up to 27 nautical miles and a top speed in excess of Mach 4, this would give the San Antonio-class ships another layer of air defense.

The San Antonio is the lead ship of a class of amphibious vessels and can carry up to 700 Marines, and has a crew of 28 officers and 335 enlisted personnel. The 25,000-ton ship has a top speed of 22 knots and is armed with two SeaRAM launchers and two 30mm Bushmaster II chain guns. The vessel carries two Landing Craft Air Cushion hovercraft and can also carry upwards of four helicopters or two V-22 Ospreys.

On 9 October, USS Mason was attacked while accompanying USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) in the Red Sea. The Mason was attacked again on October 12 and 15. The American naval vessels were deployed to the Gulf of Aden after HSV-2 Swift, a former U.S. Navy vessel now operated by a company in the United Arab Emirates, was attacked on October 1.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

While on the campaign trail, President Trump labeled the 2003 invasion of Iraq a “dumb war,” and the “worst decision” in American History. These statements should have received praise from Americans on both sides of the political aisle. Now, however, I’m not so certain that Trump is following through on his promises to avoid the next “dumb” war.

In May 2018, the president announced his intention to pull out of the Iran Deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal was, no doubt, flawed, but it did provide an inspections regime to limit and delay any Iranian attempts to go nuclear. Perhaps, being a creation of the Obama administration, the JCPOA was doomed from the start.


Iran is a mid-level menace. It aggressively pursues its interests through various proxy forces in the Mid-East — a sign of its weakness as much as power. The Islamic Republic has a burgeoning ballistic missile program (not covered by the JCPOA) and sometimes threatens Israel. This is all cause for concern and requires the U.S. military to balance and, perhaps, contain Iran. However, the Islamic Republic is decidedly not an existential threat to the United States. A more realist foreign policy must take this into account and avoid disastrous war.

Iran is nowhere near able to launch a (non-existent) nuclear weapon at Tel Aviv, let alone New York. Furthermore, as I have previously noted, Iran spends about as much on defense annually as the U.S. does on a single aircraft carrier. Iran’s GDP is about $427 billion, and it spent some $11.5 billion on defense in 2016. U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, spend $66.7 billion, and $19.6 billion, respectively. Standing behind them is the U.S., which plans to spend $716 billion on defense in 2019, or $300 billion more than Iran’s entire GDP.

Moreover, the U.S. military faces two significant problems: Iran presents a formidable obstacle to invasion, and American forces are already desperately overstretched.

Remember back when Americans were assured that the invasion of Iraq would be a “cakewalk?” We all know how that turned out. Iran is larger, more populous, and more mountainous than Iraq. It also has a fiercely nationalistic population, which, not-so-long-ago used human wave attacks to clear Iraqi minefields. Any U.S. invasion of Iran will require more troops and more years of patience than Washington or the populace have on hand.

US wants prosecution of foreign prisoners held in Syria
The April 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Square in in Baghdad shortly after the Iraq Waru00a0invasion.
(Department of Defense photo)

America’s formidable military is already spread thin, deployed in nearly 70 percent of the world’s countries. Our ground and air forces actively engage in combat in Niger, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The U.S. Army is also busy sending brigades to deter Russia in Eastern Europe and to shore up defenses in South Korea. Meanwhile, the Navy is patrolling the South China Sea, and ensuring access to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Bottom line: America’s warriors are quite busy.

The last thing Washington should do is take its eye off the ball in some seven ongoing shooting wars to start a new conflict with Iran. ISIS is not yet defeated, Iraq is far from politically stable, and — despite optimistic pleas to the contrary — the war in Afghanistan is failing. The best bet is for the U.S. military to cut its losses, avoid more counterproductive interventions, and cautiously disengage from the region.

The last thing American servicemen and women need is to fight a new, exhaustive war in Iran, with existing enemies to their rear. That would defy just about every sound military maxim on the books. Worse still, if we think Iran’s proxy forces are a problem now, imagine what will happen in the case of war, when Tehran would undoubtedly unleash them against U.S. bases and supply lines across the region.

Personally, this combat veteran trusts President Trump’s instincts more than those of his advisers. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser Bolton are well-known Iranophobes with an ax to grind. Ditching the Iran Deal was definitely a win for these two. Still, scuttling the JCPOA does not have to mean war.

Trump eventually saw the invasion and occupation of Iraq for what it was: an unmitigated failure. Let’s hope he applies that instinct and avoids what promises to be an even more costly war with the Islamic Republic.

Mr. President, hundreds of thousands of us, overstretched veterans of 17 years of perpetual war in the Mid-East, are counting on a new deal.

One that doesn’t include a new war.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

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