Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Officer Down

Police Officer Nicholas Lee Reyna
Lubbock Police Department, Texas
End of Watch Saturday, January 11, 2020
Age 27
Tour 1 year

Police Officer Nicholas Reyna and Lieutenant Eric Hill, of the Lubbock Fire Department, were struck and killed by a vehicle while at the scene of a previous crash on I-27 near Drew Street.

Officers and rescue personnel were at the scene of an earlier single-vehicle rollover crash on the interstate when a second vehicle also crossed the median. As officers then dealt with the second crash a third vehicle left the travel lanes and struck Officer Reyna, Lieutenant Hill, and a second firefighter. Officer Reyna and Lieutenant Hill both suffered fatal injuries and the second firefighter was critically injured.

Officer Reyna had served with the Lubbock Police Department for one year.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

What's going on in the World Today 200629



U.S. Hypersonic Defense Plan Emerges, But Not Cash

A U.S. hypersonic defense system has evolved from wide-open concept studies two years ago into a densely layered architecture populated by requirements for a new generation of space-based sensors and ground-based interceptors.

Over the next two years, the first elements of the Defense Department’s newly defined hypersonic defense architecture could advance into operational reality if all the pieces can overcome various challenges, including the Pentagon’s so far ambiguous commitment to
long-term funding.

The Space Development Agency (SDA), with assistance from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), next year will start launching satellites into orbit with new forms of tracking technology optimized to perform the challenging task of remotely targeting hypersonic missiles as they maneuver in the atmosphere hundreds of miles below...

DIA Analyst Frese Gets 30 months in Federal Prison for Sharing Classified Information ...

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on June 18 that former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst, Henry Kyle Frese, would be spending the next 30 months in a federal prison having previously pleaded guilty to providing two journalists, Amanda Macias of CNBC and Courtney Kube of NBC with classified materials...

Russian Info Ops Putting U.S. Police in Their Crosshairs

Russia appears to be intensifying its focus on police enforcement issues in the United States, using popular reactions to protests that have gripped the nation as part of a larger propaganda campaign to divide Americans ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. For weeks Russia has used state-controlled RT and Sputnik, and social media posts, to spread. Misinformation about the protests. Only now, it seems that Russia, through the English-language RT in particular, is reaching out to U.S. police officers and union officials, in what some U.S. officials and lawmakers say is an effort to further inflame tensions.... Only now, it seems that Russia, through the English-language RT in particular, is reaching out to U.S. police officers and union officials, in what some U.S. officials and lawmakers say is an effort to further inflame tensions. “It is critical that Americans remain wary of state-sponsored and state-directed media platforms such as RT and Sputnik,” Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Republican Marco Rubio told VOA...

FBI arrests Texas man for racist video threat to kill 'at least 200' Black Lives Matter protesters

The FBI arrested a Texas man who allegedly threatened to kill Black Lives Matter protesters in a racist video posted online. FBI agents arrested Manuel Flores, a 42-year-old truck driver from El Paso, on Monday in the Dallas area on a federal charge of making a threat over the internet, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday night. Flores allegedly recorded and uploaded a video to YouTube in which he made threats to Black Lives Matter protesters, the
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas said citing a federal criminal complaint.

Rice University student group demands 'Black House,' better ID photos, statue removal [TX]

A student group at Rice University in Houston, Texas, is "demanding" the administration fund a "non-residential Black House" on campus, as well as remove a prominent statue of the university's founder -- and top student officials are deleting some comments disagreeing with those positions, Fox News has learned this week. The extraordinary demand, and apparent censorship, came amid rising left-wing sentiment on campuses across the nation after the in- custody death of George Floyd. In recent weeks, a UCLA lecturer was suspended for pointedly refusing to cancel his exam for black students; a Cornell Law School faculty member was threatened with termination for criticizing Black Lives Matter, before the school dean intervened on his behalf; and a top University of Chicago economist was demoted for questioning the wisdom of defunding all police...




Three U.S. aircraft carriers operating on doorstep of South China Sea

Jun. 21–For the first time since 2017, the U.S. Navy has positioned three of its aircraft carriers on the doorstep of the disputed South China Sea, as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to soar.

Analysts said the dispatch to the Western Pacific of the three vessels was likely intended to send a message to China that, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the United States military would continue to maintain a strong presence in the region.
On Sunday, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet said the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz carrier strike groups had begun dual carrier flight operations in the Philippine Sea.

The two strike groups were scheduled to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, long-range strike drills, coordinated maneuvers and other exercises, according to a statement.
“This is a great opportunity for us to train together in a complex scenario,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of Carrier Strike Group 9. “By working together in this environment, we’re improving our tactical skills and readiness in the face of an increasingly pressurized region and COVID-19...”

Japan confirms it’s scrapping US missile defense system

Japan confirms it’s scrapping US missile defense system

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s National Security Council has endorsed plans to cancel the deployment of two costly land-based U.S. missile defense systems aimed at bolstering the country’s capability against threats from North Korea, the country’s defense minister said Thursday.

Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.

Defense Minister Taro Kono said the country will now revise its missile defense program and scale up its entire defense posture.

The council made its decision Wednesday, and now the government will need to enter negotiations with the U.S. about what to do with payments and the purchase contract already made for the Aegis Ashore systems.

Kono announced the plan to scrap the systems earlier this month after it was found that the safety of one of the two planned host communities could not be ensured without a hardware redesign that would be too time consuming and costly...


U.S.-Polish Fort Trump project crumbles

WARSAW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fort Trump appears to have fallen. Poland’s grand proposal in 2018 to name a military base in honor of Donald Trump, in return for the U.S. president placing a permanent presence there, has crumbled amid disputes over how to fund the deployment and where to garrison the soldiers, sources say...

...A year on, government officials in Washington and Warsaw say they still cannot agree where the troops should be stationed, and how much of the multi-billion-dollar deployment Warsaw should fund.

Poland wants to put them close to its eastern border with Russia’s ally Belarus, but on past form this is certain to antagonize Russia, and Washington would prefer to deploy them further west, the officials said.

Warsaw initially talked of contributing $2 billion, already a challenge now that the coronavirus has dented its economy, but the United States wants it to pay more, the officials added.

Then there is the legal status of U.S. troops permanently stationed in Poland for the first time; currently, around 4,500 troops are regularly rotated through...

How Europe Fell Out of Love With China
EU officials speak increasingly of Beijing as a rival, not a partner. But unlike Trump, they don’t yet want a divorce.

After years of courting closer economic ties with China, the European Union is ratcheting up its rhetoric against Beijing’s heavy-handed approach to the economy and human rights, with many officials describing what they once saw hopefully as a partnership as more of a rivalry.

Relations between Europe and China got frostier this week, after a long-delayed leaders’ summit ended with no joint communique and prompted tough talk from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. For years, much as the United States did in the past, Europe has sought to nudge China to make reforms in how it trades and does business but has nothing to show for it. Now, European officials openly talk of China as a rival that needs to start making changes—or face increasing restrictions from Beijing’s biggest trading partner.

“We are committed to making swift and substantial progress,” said von der Leyen after the summit, ticking off a litany of unfulfilled Chinese promises on trade, investment, industrial subsidies, climate change, and human rights. “We count on the Chinese leadership to match our level of ambition...”


U.S. navy ship navigates near Venezuelan coast after Iranian cargo ship arrives

CARACAS (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy ship navigated near the Venezuelan coast on Tuesday in what the U.S. military’s Southern Command called a “freedom of navigation operation,” a day after a cargo ship from U.S. foe Iran docked at a port of the South American country.

In a post on its website, the Southern Command said the USS Nitze, a missile destroyer, sailed in an area outside Venezuela’s territorial waters - which extend some 12 nautical miles from its coasts - but within an area the Venezuelan government “falsely claims to have control over...”

Tearful Mexican Cartel Chief Threatens Government After Mother's Detention

One of the most wanted Mexican cartel leaders threatened the government and his arch-foes in highly unusual video messages, including one where he can be seen fighting back tears after his mother was detained over the weekend. Jose "El Marro" Yepez, leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, that has been a thorn in the side of the President Andres Lopez Obrador's government due to his gang's industrial-scale siphoning of petroleum from state-run oil company Pemex. In one of the videos widely shared on social media, Yepez can be seen lashing out against the government after his mother was allegedly arrested in a major security operation in the city of Celeya in Mexico's bloodiest state, Guanajuato...


US has hit agreed troop-cut target of 8,600 in Afghanistan

The United States has reduced its troop presence in Afghanistan to 8,600, fulfilling its obligation as part of a February deal with the Taliban, the general who oversees American forces in that region said on Thursday. Marine General Frank McKenzie gave no indication of when, or at what pace, US forces would be further reduced. He noted that the February deal requires the US to fully withdraw its forces by next May, but he called that an "aspirational" commitment that would depend on certain actions by the Taliban...


China further integrates coast guard into military

China has introduced a law that will further integrate its coast guard into the military. The amended law on the People's Armed Police Force went into effect on Sunday.... The coast guard became part of the armed police force two years ago. The law says the coast guard will conduct joint drills with the military. In an emergency, the coast guard will be put under the command of the Central Military Commission .... Chinese coast guard vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands...

China completes satellite navigation system

China says it has successfully launched the final satellite of its global-navigation system. The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System was developed to counter GPS of the United States. State-run China Central Television has reported the rocket carrying the satellite blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on Tuesday morning. The launch marks the completion of the 55-satellite system six months earlier than planned. Its operators plan eventually to integrate the system with 5G telecommunication technology, expanding its services.

China denies millions of lives at risk as catastrophic flooding threatens Three Gorges Dam

NOTE: The Three Gorges Dam in Hubei, China. Credit: TPG/Getty Images

As many as 400 million lives may be at risk as torrential rain in China threatens the world’s largest dam.

The Chinese government has moved to defend the structural integrity of the massive Three Gorges Dam, as a hydrology expert took to international media over the weekend to warn it could collapse at any moment.

The warning came as more details emerged over the drowning of eight children swept to their deaths in the swollen Fu River, upstream of the dam, on Sunday...


Iran: U.N. Adopts Resolution to Increase Scrutiny Over Nuclear Sites

What Happened: The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), adopted a resolution that calls on Iran to allow it access to two nuclear sites within the country, Reuters reported June 19. The resolution was submitted by the so-called E3 bloc consisting of France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Why It Matters: The IAEA resolution highlights Iran’s strained relationship with its European allies. Despite U.S. sanctions pressure, Iran has made steady progress in developing its civil nuclear program in recent years. Over time, Iran’s continued provocative nuclear actions risks pushing its European allies toward supporting the United States’ maximum pressure campaign.

Background: On June 18, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that Iran had allowed "more inspections [to its nuclear sites] over the past five years than in [the history of the IAEA]." China and Russia both opposed the new U.N. resolution against Iran, with the Russian ambassador to the IAEA calling it "counterproductive."

Iran says it successfully tests new naval cruise missile

Iran said on Thursday its navy had successfully fired a new locally made cruise missile during war games in the northern Indian Ocean and near the entrance to the Gulf. The test-firing comes as the United States is seeking an extension of a U.N.-imposed arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire in October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Washington withdrew from that pact...


Rumblings of an Islamic State Resurgence in Iraq


- The Islamic State has increased the scope and scale of its operations in Iraq due to its internal cohesion and strength, as well as a lack of significant pressure from the forces opposing it.

- The militant group will continue to build off of the momentum it has already gained and increase its operations in Iraq, and potentially elsewhere in the region, over the next several months.

- The developments will undermine Iraqi stability and energize grassroots militants to carry out attacks around the world, even though the Islamic State remains far from reestablishing its caliphate...

Rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone for the fifth time in ten days

Rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the US embassy, on Thursday, the fifth such attack in 10 days, security sources inside the high-security district told AFP.... There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. Like previous attacks, there was no claim of responsibility. ... It was the second rocket attack near the US embassy since June 8 while other attacks have targeted Baghdad airport, where US troops are stationed, and a base north of the capital.

Iranian proxy in Iraq targets US bases

In a recently published video, the Iranian-backed front League of the Revolutionaries (LoR) claimed responsibility for recent attacks including the crash of an American C-130 military cargo plane and several rocket attacks against American-led coalition bases in Iraq. The LoR publication begins by claiming the group was responsible for a June 8 Camp Taji crash of an American C-130 which led to the injury of 4 aboard including a Wyoming Air National Guard member. A night time recording of the incident shows two rockets being launched towards the Camp Taji runway....US officials as downplaying any link to hostile activity, but added that they were “investigating” the incident.

Iraqi forces arrest men suspected of attacks targeting US

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi security forces arrested over a dozen men suspected of a spate of rocket attacks against the U.S. presence in Iraq, the Iraqi military said Friday — the strongest action to date by the new government in Baghdad against perpetrators suspected of ties to Iran.

The arrests marked a bold move by the government to crack down on groups that have long been a source of tension for U.S.-Iraq relations. Two senior Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the 14 men who were arrested had ties to an Iran-backed militia group.

A series of rockets have struck close to U.S. installations inside the Green Zone and an Iraqi army base near to the airport in the Iraqi capital since Baghdad embarked on strategic talks with Washington on June 11.

The U.S. has blamed Iran-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah for orchestrating attacks against its embassy and American troops inside Iraqi bases, and criticized the Iraqi government for not identifying and arresting the culprits...


Israel's Annexation Plans Will Leave It in Need of New Allies

Israel's impending annexations in the West Bank will not spark immediate international backlash, but growing pro-Palestine sentiment in the United States and Europe will ultimately leave it politically and economically isolated in the long term. This will lead Israel to seek increased partnerships with countries whose citizens and politicians are less invested in the prospect of a Palestinian state, such as Russia and China, though doing so will come at the risk of further stoking U.S. ire.

Israel will most likely annex some major settlements in the West Bank on July 1, which the United States will acquiesce.

Israel's emergency unity government, which was formed in April in light of the COVID-19 crisis, hinges on a pledge made by the country's major political factions to begin the annexation process outlined in the White House's Middle East peace plan. The plan, which was unveiled in January, envisions a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Territories in which large parts of the current West Bank remain under permanent Israeli control, including the strategic Jordan River Valley. And since then, the United States and Israel have been cooperating on a mapping project to implement that vision.

The United States has signaled some displeasure with the annexation strategy's pace and scope, but not with annexation itself. This has manifested in mild U.S. pressure to adjust how much West Bank territory Israel will seize starting July 1, though Washington has yet to threaten any significant diplomatic, economic or military action.

Europe, for its part, will voice its diplomatic opposition to annexation, but the bloc's consensus-based policy-making process will make sanctions and other major penalties difficult to pass.

The European Union and the United Kingdom are both diplomatically opposed to annexation but have not signaled interest in a major isolation or punitive sanctions campaign.

But while the veto power held by pro-Israel EU states such as Czechia and Hungary will limit the European Union's ability to impose significant bloc-wide sanctions against Israel, Brussels may move to suspend its research and trade agreements with Israel that don't require consensus votes, as well as block future deals...

The Palestinians Move to Cut Security Ties With Israel: A Bluff or Something Bigger?

To protest Israel's aggressive annexation push, the Palestinian Authority is beginning to act on longstanding threats to cease coordination with Israeli authorities in the West Bank. On May 19, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to decades of security and intelligence cooperation with Israel and its main ally, the United States. The timing puts pressure on the Israeli government just before it's slated to begin annexing portions of the West Bank in July, and will raise the risk of violence and unrest in the area.

If this rupture deepens and endures, it will undo the coordination between Israeli and Palestinian Authority police and intelligence forces that has helped guarantee some stability in the West Bank since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords.

- Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs the Gaza Strip, will welcome the break in Israeli-Palestinian ties, which has impeded its ability to gain a strong foothold in the West Bank.

- Hamas has long advocated for the Palestinian Authority to take a harsher stance against Israel, and could use the break in relations to encourage grassroots attacks against Israeli settlements both within Gaza and in the West Bank.

- In 2017, the Israeli military said Palestinian security forces were crucial in thwarting up to 40 percent of militant attacks in the area.
Thanks to the construction of a border wall and tighter security surveillance, most Israeli territory is better protected now than it was during the Second Intifada in 2000, but settlements in the West Bank remain vulnerable to attacks if violence escalates.


North Korea suspends military action plans against South Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has decided to suspend military action plans against South Korea, the official KCNA news agency reported on Wednesday, as a report suggested North Korean troops were taking down loudspeakers recently reinstalled at the fortified border.

Political tensions between the rival Koreas had been rising over Pyongyang’s objections to plans by defector-led groups in the South to send propaganda leaflets into the North. Stalled negotiations regarding economic sanctions imposed because of the North’s nuclear weapons programme had also fuelled tensions...


U.S. seeks to widen nuclear arms deal with Russia

VIENNA (Reuters) - The United States wants to broaden its main nuclear arms control agreement with Russia to include all their atomic weapons, a U.S. envoy said on Tuesday after talks with Moscow on a new accord.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea also said Washington would keep pressing China to join the talks on replacing the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) which expires in February.

The two sides, who were rivals in the Cold War, agreed to set up technical working groups and to hold further talks, possibly in late July or early August, he said, but gave no details of the working groups.

Washington wants Beijing involved because it says China is secretly racing to increase the size and reach of its nuclear arsenal, but Moscow favours a multilateral accord, possibly including France and Britain, Billingslea said.

“We, the United States, intend and believe ... that the next arms control agreement must cover all nuclear weapons, not just so-called strategic nuclear weapons,” he told a news conference in Vienna that followed the talks there on Monday.

New START caps the countries’ deployed strategic nuclear weapons warheads at 1,550 each, far fewer than the thousands of atomic weapons they possess...

US, Russia to Start Nuclear Talks in Austria

Delegations from the United States and Russia are meeting in Vienna Monday and Tuesday to discuss their nuclear arsenals after more than a year’s pause. The delegations did not make any statements to reporters, when they arrived at the Niederoesterreich Palace in Vienna at 8:30 am local time. President Donald Trump has abandoned several U.S. treaties with Russia, including ones on overflights and on intermediate-range nuclear forces. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Ambassador Marshall Billingslea is leading the U.S. delegation for the talks with their Russian counterparts led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. They are to discuss mutually agreed topics related to the future of arms control, the State Department said in a statement last week...


New U.S. Sanctions Will Keep Syria Firmly in Russia and Iran's Corner

New U.S. sanctions against the Syrian government will likely leave Damascus dependent on Russian and Iranian support, while deterring aid from potential future partners such as China and the United Arab Emirates. On June 17, the United States sanctioned 39 individuals associated with the Syrian government, including President Bashar al Assad and his wife. Washington also indicated that more sanctions were to come in order to force the Syrian government back into U.N.-led peace negotiations.

With stronger U.S. sanctions now in effect, countries that have previously shown interest in providing Syria aid are unlikely to see many opportunities in the war-torn country's reconstruction...

Israeli PM announces 'cooperation' with UAE to fight coronavirus
Netanyahu says two countries will soon collaborate in different areas to improve region's health security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced Israel will join forces with the United Arab Emirates in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, despite the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

"This collaboration will be in the areas of research and development and technology, in areas that will improve health security throughout the region," Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday.

Netanyahu said a formal announcement on working together with the UAE on confronting coronavirus was imminent and would be made by the UAE and Israeli health ministers...


North Korean Malicious Cyber Activity

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Defense (DoD) have identified three malware variants—COPPERHEDGE, TAINTEDSCRIBE, and PEBBLEDASH—used by the North Korean government. In addition, U.S. Cyber Command has released the three malware samples to the malware aggregation tool and repository, VirusTotal. The U.S. Government refers to malicious cyber activity by the North Korean government as HIDDEN COBRA. CISA encourages users and administrators to review the Malware Analysis Reports for each malware variant listed above, U.S. Cyber Command’s VirusTotal page, and CISA’s North Korean Malicious Cyber Activity page for more information...

Russian Criminal Group Finds New Target: Americans Working at Home
A hacking group calling itself Evil Corp., indicted in December, has shown up in corporate networks with sophisticated ransomware. American officials worry election infrastructure could be next.

A Russian ransomware group whose leaders were indicted by the Justice Department in December is retaliating against the U.S. government, many of America’s largest companies and a major news organization, identifying employees working from home during the pandemic and attempting to get inside their networks with malware intended to cripple their operations.

Sophisticated new attacks by the hacking group — which the Treasury Department claims has at times worked for Russian intelligence — were identified in recent days by Symantec Corporation, a division of Broadcom, one of the many firms that monitors corporate and government networks.

In an urgent warning issued Thursday night, the company reported that Russian hackers had exploited the sudden change in American work habits to inject code into corporate networks with a speed and breadth not previously witnessed...


BlueLeaks: Data from 200 US police departments & fusion centers published online

An activist group has published on Friday 296 GB of data they claim have been stolen from US law enforcement agencies and fusion centers. The files, dubbed BlueLeaks, have been published by Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), a group that describes itself as a "transparency collective." The data has been made available online on a searchable portal. According to the BlueLeaks portal, the leaked data contains more than one million files, such as scanned documents, videos, emails, audio files, and more. DDoSecrets claims the leaked files contain more than ten years-worth of files belonging to more than 200 police departments and law enforcement fusion centers from across the US. According to DDoSecrets, most of the files are police and FBI reports, security bulletins, law enforcement guides, and more. Some of the files also supposedly contain sensitive and personal information, such as names, bank account numbers, and phone numbers...

W.Va. woman charged with mishandling classified information

A West Virginia woman who had already been accused of kidnapping her daughter faces a new charge of retaining top-secret information from the National Security Agency in a storage unit she leased, court papers show.... The document contains only sparse information about the allegations, but says that between 1999 and August 2019, Shirley had unauthorized possession of documents “relating to the national defense" and “failed to deliver them to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive them." Prosecutors say Shirley kept without authorization in a storage unit she leased a document relating to “the national defense that outlines intelligence information regarding a foreign government’s military and political issues." The charging document does not specify the information but says it was classified at the top secret level from the National Security Agency...


US Army soldier charged in plot to ambush his unit overseas

The new top federal prosecutor in Manhattan has announced her first case since the weekend’s upheaval: the arrest of a U.S. Army soldier charged with plotting a deadly ambush of his unit in Turkey by extremists. ... Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, “... plotted to let members of an extremist group descend on his unit by providing details about its location an security arrangements. She identified the group he tried to work with as the Order of the Nine Angles, also known as O9A, described in the release as an occult-based neo-Nazi and racially motivated violent extremist group. “Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal,” Strauss said...


The U.S. Looks to Mine the Moon on Its Own Terms

The Big Picture

With the United States and China gearing up to send astronauts back to the moon and beyond, the competition of space resources between Washington and its rivals will heat up, as will the race to define the international rules, standards, laws and regulations governing the final frontier.

The White House's attempt to lead the development of space resources with like-minded countries through an international pact will struggle, and ultimately fail, to gain global acceptance.

- According to leaks cited in a recent Reuters report, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump will begin formal negotiations with key allies over a U.S.-drafted legal blueprint for mining on the moon in the coming weeks.

- The Trump administration said the pact, called the Artemis Accords, will provide a framework of rules and regulations for companies selling resources produced in space.

- The agreement will also reportedly aim to set up "safety zones" around operations to prevent damage and interference from other companies' and countries' operations that could be seen as a claim to sovereignty.
The United States plans to start negotiations with its closest allies and partners with space exploration capabilities, including France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and the United Arab Emirates...

Russian and U.S. delegations meet June 22 in Vienna to initiate talks on a potential New START extension. The United States has long held off on negotiations over the nuclear arms control treaty, but recent leaks from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump and the move toward talks suggest that Washington may be considering extending the treaty before it expires in February 2021. Such an extension might only be for a shorter period of time than the five-year extension option the treaty itself provides, but the United States has been reluctant to sign off on this without China's unlikely inclusion in the treaty.

Canada Mimics Marine Corps Makeover For F/A-18C/D Fleet
As Canada’s CF-18 fleet enters an unexpected fourth decade of service, the details of a nearly $1 billion upgrade package are settled.

With operators in Europe, the Middle East and Asia looking on, an upgrade package approved by the State Department on June 16 for up to 36 Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) F/A-18C/Ds cements a new configuration aimed at keeping the Boeing-made jets in service decades beyond their planned retirement dates.

A group of Raytheon-made sensors and weapons—APG-79(v)4 active, electronically scanned array radars, AIM-9X Block II air-to-air missiles and AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapons—will be included in the RCAF’s newly defined Phase 2 upgrade to help keep a subset of the 94-member CF-18 fleet operating into the 2030s. The State Department previously cleared Canada to acquire 32 AIM-120D advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles for the CF-18.

- New radars, weapons for CF-18s

- Future Fighter contract bids due July 31...

Why Are GPS Signals So Vulnerable To Disruption From The Ground?

Ask the Editors: The Aviation Week Network invites our readers to submit questions to our editors and analysts. We’ll answer them, and if we can’t we’ll reach out to our wide network of experts for advice.

Why are GPS signals so vulnerable to disruption from the ground? And if GPS is so vulnerable, why haven’t actions been taken to remedy these vulnerabilities?

Jen DiMascio, Aviation Week’s Executive Editor, Defense and Space, responds:

It’s a perplexing question. The Pentagon has long known about the potential threat to GPS signals and is working to make the situation better for the military. Protecting the GPS signal for civilian users though is not as certain.

GPS signals are vulnerable to disruption because signals from satellites are weak by the time they reach receivers on the ground, Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee. They are easily drowned out by stronger signals from ground-based networks. Therefore, the government has assigned GPS an exclusive portion of the radio spectrum.

Government rules have protected GPS by surrounding that portion of the spectrum with something of a buffer for decades. “But the radio spectrum is valuable property, worth many billions of dollars when portions of it are placed for auction by [the Federal Communications Commission],” Griffin said in his testimony. “Thus, unfortunately, some have proposed dismantling the rules that protect GPS in order to allow earthbound operators to use frequency bands previously reserved for space communications in general, and those adjacent to GPS in particular...”

Friday, June 26, 2020

Imagine loving the weekend.....

I've been getting some mind worms recently from the 60s and 70s. Great song hit me this week, so I'll share it. From the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Imaginary Lover. Seems to come from VH1 Classic. Enjoy!

Going on a benefit ride for an officer who died in the line of duty Sunday morning. Weather should be decent (raining all week), but it's great to get back on the bike.

Have a great weekend.

Officer Down

Police Officer Paul Dunn
Lakeland Police Department, Florida
End of Watch Thursday, January 9, 2020
Age 50
Tour 18 years
Military Veteran
Police Officer Paul Dunn was killed in a motorcycle crash on Lakeland Highlands Road, south of Lake Miriam Drive, at approximately 5:45 am.

He was en route to the police station on his department motorcycle when he struck the raised median of the roadway. He was thrown from the motorcycle and sustained fatal injuries.

Officer Dunn was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He had served with the Lakeland Police Department for six years and had previously served with the Polk County Sheriff's Office for 12 years. He is survived by his wife, three children, and two stepdaughters.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Command is not a popularity contest!!!

In the recent issue with the captain of the USS Teddy Roosevelt, I've heard multiple persons show how popular the captain was with his crew. One friend of mine (not a veteran) posted a meme from Occupy Democrat, showing the "soldiers" applauding the captain leaving. It took a lot to explain to my friend his ignorance, there were no soldiers there, just sailors (and perhaps a few Marines). And another thing I had to explain, and he still didn't get. Command is not a popularity contest.

The US Navy is organized around eleven carrier strike forces, of which the carrier itself is the focal point. It has the 100 (+/-) fighters, bombers, etc, to strike our enemy as needed, or just to project power to avert force being needed. It is impressive that a aviation strike force the size of many small nation's air forces can be moved within 200 miles of the coast of our enemies.

The basics of Captain Brett Crozier's actions are known. He sent a message, in an open channel, to over 20 recipients, with knowledge this was going to get leaked. He has just let our enemies know that one of our carriers, and at the time the only carries in the Pacific, was not operational due to manpower issues.

Was this a critical issue that had to be handled, absolutely. That's what you have the US Navy Pacific Fleet Command to handle, not the NY Times. One of the worse kept secrets is the fact our carriers carry nuclear weapons, although US policy is to neither "confirm or deny." And last week the Chief of Naval Operations affirmed the relieve of Captain Crozier. I understand why Captain Crozier's did what he did, but did he screw up on the method. The Navy was working on quarters for his crew, and getting rooms for over 4,000 officers and men is generally not done in a day.

While reviewing this issue, I found a very interesting blog, Lawfire, hosted by USAF Major General (Ret) Charles J. Dunlap Jr. I'll highlight a few of his points, but I recommend you read the entire article, very enlightening.
Eight leadership lessons from the Navy carrier captain’s case

Charlie Dunlap, J.D.
Major General, USAF (Retired)
April 27, 2020

Last Friday the media reported that Navy leaders are recommending reinstatement for Captain Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (Roosevelt) who was relieved from command for the way he handled the COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship. This post examines a few leadership lessons that should be learned from his case.

Regrettably, the hagiographic narrative surrounding Captain Crozier is creating the very real risk that the wrong leadership lessons will be learned and propagated, irrespective of what does or does not happen to him personally. If that occurs, the success of future military operations is imperiled, and troops could die. Some things really can be that simple.

To be clear, everyone agrees military leaders have the responsibility for the health and safety of those entrusted to them. Accordingly, Captain Crozier is to be rightly commended for being so concerned about the threat of COVID-19 to his crew. That doesn’t mean, however, that he handled his responsibilities the right way.

In this case, it’s especially important that we remind ourselves that despite all the accolades showered upon Captain Crozier, “no one will ever objectively know,” as a Navy officer notes below, “whether Captain Crozier achieved anything for his crew” by his actions that led to his tumultuous relief...


Before we examine some of leadership lessons that might be learned, let’s take a look at some available information. The most useful re-capitulation of the series of events is in the timeline found here assembled by Defense One’s deputy editor, Bradley Peniston – and I encourage you to review it...
And if you want to review it, please do so. I'll start with MG Dunlap's excellent analysis.
...In moving forward, are there lessons to be learned? I think so. Although there is still much to learn about this situation, here are some possible lessons you might want to consider:

The lessons:

1) Senior military leaders should not assume a “peacetime” mindset in the midst of the risks intrinsic to 21st century “grey zone” conflicts.

The Roosevelt was operating in what most experts consider to be a precarious part of the globe where every action is scrutinized by opportunistic adversaries ready to exploit any apparent weakness on the part of U.S. forces. It is hard to know the extent to which Captain Crosier might have – or have not – appreciated this reality.

Despite the brevity of his email and letter, Captain Crozier repeatedly contended in them that it was “peacetime” and that “we are not at war” – in a way that almost made it seem like he was trying to convince himself. Inexplicably, he never even acknowledges any of the serious threats to what he calls “peacetime” in the Pacific despite the fact that they should have provided context for his decision-making that affected the readiness of the Roosevelt. His civilian superior, Secretary Modly, saw it differently than he did. Modly explained:

“[T]here is a larger strategic context, one full of national security imperatives, of which all our commanders must all be aware today. While we may not be at war in a traditional sense, neither are we truly at peace. Authoritarian regimes are on the rise. Many nations are reaching, in many ways, to reduce our capacity to accomplish our national goals. This is actively happening every day...”

See my comments above. We project our force via these carriers. If the only one in the Pacific is non-operational, that is something we cannot broadcast. If needed, we can move one carrier to the Pacific, or move a crew to man the Roosevelt until the medical crisis is resolved. But again, we cannot broadcast this to the entire world, especially our enemies.
2) Military leaders need to maintain situational awareness in a crisis.

Situational awareness (SA) has been described as “the ability to see what’s in the vicinity and anticipate what’s not — knowledge that can mean the difference between surviving or being killed in action.” In its most basic military form, “it is knowing what is going on around you” so as to avoid the many perils that inevitably present themselves to those in the armed forces.

SA is a principle every military member needs to nurture, but especially those in command. It is a challenge to maintain it when one’s own emotions are high. Unfortunately, that may have been the case when Captain Crozier exited his ship after being relieved of his command by the Secretary of the Navy.

It is supreme irony that an officer who so forcefully insisted that the close quarters of his warship was life-threatening to his crew nevertheless tolerated hundreds of them – as the video found here shows – to crowd together to applaud him as he left the ship...

3) In crises especially, military leaders need to be careful about the example they set in their civil-military relations.

Civilian control of the military was once thought to be so ingrained in the American psyche that few thought much about it. In this instance we may never know whether the way Captain Crozier handled his dispute with the Navy’s civilian leadership actually helped or hurt the well-being of his crew, but we do know his disagreement with that leadership set in motion events that led to the forced resignation of the Navy’s senior civilian...

...Decide for yourself: did Captain Crozier know (or reasonably should have known) that his unclassified email and memo deriding the Navy’s efforts to address the situation aboard his ship would reach the public? If so, is that the way we want senior leaders to handle disagreement with civilian superiors? In any event, the cascading effect of Crozier’s actions was to deny the Navy the opportunity to manage the crisis as its civilian leader thought best for the service writ large. Here’s how retired Navy Captain Kevin Eyer analyzed the the situation on the U.S. Naval Institute’s blog:

“Captain Crozier precipitated the removal of one of the Navy’s few, most powerful strategic assets from the playing board. This hole cannot be filled without machinations that leave other holes and drag thousands of sailors back to long deployments early. The Navy was not allowed to work to a strategic “soft-fall,” and our potential enemies were given a wrong signal. That, if nothing else, cannot be forgiven...”

...To reiterate, appropriate and productive civil- military relations won’t exist in a democracy if military officers begin to assume Captain Crozier’s methodology is the clever way of addressing differences with civilian leaders as to how to deal with a complex problem. We should not want a system where civilian leaders come to expect that military subordinates will seek to circumvent them by appealing to the public when they dislike the direction the civilian leadership has determined is best.

The underlined point of the last sentence is borderline insubordination. Another thing we cannot tolerate. We had a similar issue like this in the Korean War, and the civilian expressed his view of his insubordinate flag officer, "He can do that to Harry Truman. He can't do that to the president of the United States."
4) In crisis situations, leaders need to think inclusively in terms of the organization as whole and not about particular career fields.

The now famous memo Captain Crozier wrote complaining that the Navy’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak on his ship was, in his view, inadequate, was itself curiously unaddressed.

However, it was attached to an email that was, but didn’t use an inclusive address such as “Sailors,” but instead directed it only to a select sub-faction in the Navy: “Fellow Naval Aviators.” Notably, it omitted Vice Adm. William Merz, a career submariner, but the officer “who oversaw the Roosevelt as commander of the Navy’s 7th Fleet.”

To civilians this may not mean much, but within the Navy it has real significance. The Navy has long been divided into a “brown shoe” culture of aviation officers and a “black shoe” culture of surface officers. Increasingly, this divide is not serving the Navy well. Reflecting on the “surface navy’s catastrophes in 2017,” two Navy lieutenants wrote:

“We’ve had enough of the “brown shoe,” “black shoe” cultural conflict in our navy, and it’s not just a surface – aviation divide. The real travesty is that the Navy’s community culture has created silos of knowledge, and in fact, overt hostility to those who are nominally our brothers and sisters in arms. It is this culture that ultimately led to a surface community searching for answers after a terrible 2017, when in fact the answers sat literally across the street in the Navy’s own aviation community. It is a moral travesty that it took the death of seventeen Sailors to force a reckoning in the SWO [surface warfare officer] community, but we’re there.“

At that time, the lieutenants were criticizing the SWO community for excluding the aviation community in the search for answers to a crisis manifested by a troubling series of ship collisions. Crozier seems to have made the same mistake, but in reverse, that is, addressing the issue as if only “Fellow Naval Aviators” would be concerned about the lives of sailors and embarked Marines, and only aviators could provide answers.

The Navy has long sought to counter such a divisive approach by advocating a “one team, one fight” attitude, but the Crozier email indicates that at best, he did not internalize that mindset. Actually, in times of complex crises involving diverse persons especially, leaders need to be inclusive in their thinking as solutions may come from beyond their own discrete career field.

It is unknowable if this episode would have come to a better end if, for example, Captain Crozier had sought to address his concerns through his commander at 7th Fleet instead of omitting him in favor of a collection of “Fellow Naval Aviators.” Still, putting aside the specific issues as to the propriety of Captain Crozier’s actions in the first place, it is well worth remembering that siloed advice is almost by definition going to be inferior to that produced by a process that brings to bear a range expertise on complicated problems.

5) In crisis situations, leaders need to put aside concerns about their own careers.

Captain Crozier concluded his email to his “Fellow Naval Aviators” by telling them that he was taking his action “regardless of the impact on [his] career.” In point of fact, it was hardly necessary to tell experienced senior officers to whom he addressed his email with its incendiary attachment about the potential career fallout from the way he elected to deal with the crisis.

Circumventing what Captain Crozier derided as mere “normal staffing processes” (that would have included his immediate commander at 7th Fleet) in what was a sensitive and high-profile matter being personally worked by the SECNAV rather obviously could have highly-adverse personal consequences for any officer in almost any situation...

Any ensign/second lieutenant would know they were sacrificing their career by Captain Crozier's actions.
6) Senior leaders, especially in complex emergencies, need to communicate in an effective way, and understand their options if they believe their concerns are being wrongly ignored.

According to a thoughtful and rather detailed analysis of Captain Crozier’s memo by Navy Captain Anthony Cowden, “there are effective ways of ‘speaking truth to power'” but Crozier’s memo “was not one of them.” Cowden concludes his examination by saying:

“[E]ffective writing should achieve the desired results without contributing to the author being relieved of his command. While many will express opinions on the subject, the fact is that no one will ever objectively know whether Captain Crozier achieved anything for his crew in writing this memorandum other than THEODORE ROOSEVELT getting a new commanding officer....”

Well put sir.
7) Commanders (as well as the media and the public) shouldn’t confuse popularity with good leadership.

As noted above, the media has been quick to point out that after being relieved Captain Crozier was cheered by hundreds of fawning sailors as he left the ship and as they tHemselves were making their way to being ensconced in Guam’s tourist resorts and spas for quarantine. (In contrast, the Army quarantined troops returning from Afghanistan in field conditions.)

Regardless, it’s axiomatic that great leadership is not a popularity contest. ...

...In another fabulous leadership book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, General Jim Mattis makes this observation worth pondering in assessing the current case:

“Building trust and affection in units is not the same thing as chasing popularity, which relies on favoritism, nor does it replace the priority of accomplishing the mission. For this reason I came down hard on anyone who said, “Sir, my mission is to bring all of my men home safely.” That is a laudable and necessary goal, but the primary mission was to defeat the enemy, even as we did everything possible to keep our young men and women alive.”

Captain Crozier’s concern about his crew is likewise laudable and resonated with his juniors as well as with many other audiences but – again – the point is that popularity with subordinates (or, for that matter, with the public) is not necessarily the right barometer with which to measure effective military leadership.

In the drive up to Baghdad, General Mattis spoke having to relief the commander of RCT 1, something he did reluctantly, but without question. The commander was behind the other RCTs, and when asked, his answer was "he expressed his heartfelt reluctance to lose any of his men by pushing at what might seem to be a reckless pace." But General Mattis knew, the "mission must come first. Once you are committed, hesitancy in battle can expose other units to failure. I needed al hands in the fight, sharing the burden equally." (Mattis, Call Sign Chaos, pages 106-107).

Or in one saying I learned as a junior officer, "Mission First! People Always!"
8) Don’t trivialize potential civilian casualties as a mere “political” problem.

In his email, Captain Crozier declared that “at this point [his] only priority is the continued well-being of the crew and the embarked staff.” However, when civilian lives are also at risk, the well-being of his own unit can never be a military commander’s “only priority...”

Captain Crozier, sir, you have multiple priorities. But you primary mission, above all else, is the mission of your ship. And respectfully sir, you compromised that by your actions. And that cannot be without reaction.
It’s hard to know what Captain Crozier himself thinks as he reflects on what’s transpired. When Secretary Modly botched his visit to the Roosevelt, he concluded that his resignation would best serve the Roosevelt and the larger interests of the institutional Navy. Evidently, Captain Crozier has drawn no such conclusions about himself, or the value of his continued service.

Regardless of the disposition of Captain Crozier’s case, it’s imperative that the entire incident be evaluated to see what lessons can be learned. This post suggests some, but there are certainly more. If we can distill this episode to build better leaders in the future, it will serve to further strengthen the Navy, the Armed Forces, and our national security, particularly in times of crisis.

Still, remember our Lawfire">Lawfire® mantra: gather the facts, examine the law, evaluate the arguments – and then decide for yourself!

MG Dunlap, your mantra is very well put sir. I wish people would take those words in other issues of the day. Thank you for your excellent post, and I wish you the best.

Officer Down

Public Safety Officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler
Florence Regional Airport Department of Public Safety, South Carolina
Age 26
Tour Not available
Badge Airport 6
Public Safety Officer Jackson Winkeler was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop on Gilbert Avenue near the airport's terminal shortly before 6:00 am.

The man opened fire on Officer Winkeler during the stop. Over 30 shots were exchanged during the ensuing shootout. The man then stole Officer Winkeler's service weapon and fled the scene. He was arrested a short time later by members of the Florence County Sheriff's Office.

Officer Winkeler also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Latta Fire Department. He is survived by his parents and sisters.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Officer Down

Investigator Ryan D. Fortini
New York State Police, New York
End of Watch Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Age 42
Tour 16 years
Badge 4544
Military Veteran
Cause 9/11 related cancer
Incident Date Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Weapon Aircraft; Passenger jet
Offender 19 suicide attackers

Investigator Ryan Fortini died as the result of cancer that he developed following his assignment to the search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.

Investigator Fortini was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the New York State Police for 16 years and medically retired in 2015. He is survived by his fiancee, parents, brother, and sister.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, seventy-two officers from a total of eight local, state, and federal agencies were killed when terrorist hijackers working for the al Qaeda terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, crashed four hijacked planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

After the impact of the first plane into the World Trade Center's North Tower, putting the safety of others before their own, law enforcement officers along with fire and EMS personnel, rushed to the burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to aid the victims and lead them to safety. Due to their quick actions, it is estimated that over 25,000 people were saved.

As the evacuation continued, the South Tower unexpectedly collapsed as a result of the intense fire caused by the impact. The North Tower collapsed a short time later. Seventy-one law enforcement officers, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and over 2,800 civilians were killed at the World Trade Center site.

A third hijacked plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to re-take control of the plane. One law enforcement officer, who was a passenger on the plane, was killed in that crash.

The fourth hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, killing almost 200 military and civilian personnel. No law enforcement officers were killed at the Pentagon on 9/11.

The terrorist attacks resulted in the declaration of war against the Taliban regime, the illegal rulers of Afghanistan, and the al Qaeda terrorist network which also was based in Afghanistan.

On September 9th, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on September 11th, 2001, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush.

The contamination in the air at the World Trade Center site caused many rescue personnel to become extremely ill and eventually led to the death of several rescue workers.

On May 1st, 2011 members of the United States military conducted a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden.

Please click here to visit the memorials of all of the law enforcement officers killed in this terrorist attack.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

What's going on in the World Today 200622



Three U.S. Navy Flattops Sail Toward China As War Of Words Escalates

On April 3, a Chinese ship rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in the disputed waters of the resource-rich South China Sea.

Around the same time, China declared two archipelagos in the area as its own administrative districts, drawing a protest from Vietnam’s foreign ministry.

Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.

Meanwhile, Beijing announced it had established new “research stations” on Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef, two of the roughly dozen major island bases it has built across the region in recent years.

Two months later in mid-June, the U.S. Navy deployed three aircraft-carrier battle groups to the western Pacific Ocean. The groups together possessed around 20 surface warships, several submarines and nearly 200 aircraft...

German court sentences 'cyber jihadi' to 5 years in prison

A court in western Germany has convicted a 39-year-old man of providing support to Islamist groups in Syria. The Duesseldorf regional court on Friday sentenced the German- Tunisian defendant, whose name wasn't released for privacy reasons, to five years in prison. Judges concluded that the man had sent night vision devices, firearms-cleaning equipment and ambulance vehicles to the militia group Ahrar al-Sham. He is also accused of having provided propaganda support to the Islamic State group...

Police: Man arrested in NYPD stabbing yelled 'God is Great' in Arabic three times

Police say a man arrested for stabbing an NYPD officer in Brooklyn on Wednesday yelled 'God is Great' in Arabic three times, according to police bodycam footage. Dzenan Camovic was charged Saturday with offenses including attempted murder of a police officer. He could also face federal charges if the FBI determines the attack was an act of terrorism. Investigators say Camovic opened a Twitter account days before the attack and liked two dozen posts on police brutality. He remains intubated after being shot in a gunfight with police....


Russia Deepens Its Commitment to Libya’s War -- and Political Future

Russia's deepening support for the Libyan National Army (LNA) proves the Kremlin views LNA leader Khalifa Hifter as crucial to its greater North African and Mediterranean strategy, and could grant Moscow the upper hand in shaping the war-torn country's political future. The U.S. military, among others, recently released photos confirming the arrival of a fleet of Russian fighter jets at two LNA-controlled air bases in Libya. The deployment will make it more difficult for the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) to make further military gains beyond Tripolitania. But perhaps most importantly, Russia's growing involvement in Libya's civil war — alongside Turkey's continued support for the GNA — will leave Moscow and Ankara at the helm of any potential negotiations between Eastern and Western Libya, much to the dismay of those in Europe and the United States.

On April 13, the GNA took control of several cities along the coastal road between Tripoli and Tunisia, including Sabratha.
The GNA then seized Hifter's vital al-Watiya air base in Western Libya on May 18, and has since begun to prepare for an offensive on the LNA-controlled town of Tarhuna, which is located 65 kilometers or 40 miles southeast of Tripoli.
In response to these losses, the LNA recently announced it was withdrawing some of its forces from the front lines of Tripoli to launch a large-scale aerial campaign against the GNA...


Record wave of terrorists to be set free from Australian prisons in 2020

A fifth of Australia’s locked-up terrorists will be released from prison this year. It’s feared they haven’t been reformed behind bars. After serving 12 years behind bars, deradicalised terror plotter Mazen Touma is critical of anti-terror programs in NSW prisons. ...This year will see 11 convicted terrorists released from NSW and Victorian jails...


Coronavirus: Police warn of lockdown radicalisation threat [UK]

The coronavirus lockdown may have led more individuals to become radicalised as they spend more time online, a police chief has warned. The Metropolitan Police ... said the impact of the lockdown on the terrorism threat was not yet known. She urged the public to remain alert and vigilant as people return to crowded places closed in March. The current UK threat level is "substantial" meaning an attack is likely.... There are also concerns some of the mechanisms to spot the signs someone has been radicalised will not have been present during the pandemic.... The threat level comes from individuals supporting far-right as well as jihadist ideologies...

New Powers for U.K. Police to Tackle Hostile State Activity and Terrorism at Borders

Police at U.K. ports will be able to stop, question, search and detain individuals to determine whether they are a spy as part of a range of measures put before Parliament on June 8. The new Schedule 3 powers were introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, in response to the poisoning of five people in Salisbury using a military-grade nerve agent. ... The U.K. government is certain that the two suspects charged for the Salisbury nerve agent attack are Russian Military Intelligence officers and that the attack was almost certainly approved at a senior level of the Russian state. The British government has also updated its code of practice on the use of existing Schedule 7 powers, which give the police the power to stop and detain people at ports in relation to terrorist activity.

Yorkshire man appears in court over alleged leftwing terror offences

A man from West Yorkshire has appeared in court in connection with alleged leftwing terrorism offences. Dominic Noble, 32, from Huddersfield, was charged with a total of 14 offences, including possessing documents likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, after he was arrested at his home last week. Counter Terrorism Policing North East said Noble was arrested on 2 June as part of an “intelligence-led investigation into suspected leftwing terrorism”...

Germany: Man arrested over threat to attack Muslims

A man has been arrested in Germany after allegedly threatening an attack on Muslims, citing the assailant who attacked mosques in New Zealand last year, prosecutors said Monday. The 21-year-old from the northern city of Hildesheim is suspected of announcing his intention to carry out an attack "with multiple dead" in an internet chat on Friday.... Investigators found weapons at his apartment that he had apparently acquired to carry out an attack and "data files with radical right-wing contents," prosecutors said. ... A judge on Monday ordered him kept in custody on suspicion of disturbing the peace by threatening crimes and of financing terrorism, a count that prosecutors said stems from the weapons. The investigation so far indicates that the man had long considered carrying out an attack to garner worldwide media attention, according to prosecutors.

New Zealand drops plans for armed police patrols

New Zealand police on Tuesday scrapped plans for armed patrols prompted by last year's Christchurch mosque shootings, after criticism the change would lead to a U.S.-style militarization of the force. Police in the South Pacific nation usually operate without firearms but gave armed patrols a trial run after a lone gunman murdered 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch in March 2019.... The move was met with unease among sections of the New Zealand public who weren't used to seeing armed officers, particularly the Maori and Pacific communities, which argued they were the most likely to come into contact with firearm-toting officers.... "We only have to look to the United States to see how violent things can get under a militarized police force," she said in an open letter to Commissioner of Police Andrew Coster. "This is especially so for minorities and communities of color."




Taliban still haven't met conditions for US withdrawal from Afghanistan, US general says

The Taliban have not met the conditions agreed upon in order for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan in May 2021, according to Gen. Frank McKenzie Wednesday. McKenzie said that the U.S. is ahead of schedule in meeting the demands to reduce U.S. troops in the country in July, the initial phase of the U.S.-Taliban deal that was signed in February. But the General stressed that going to zero troops by next May is dependent upon Taliban conditions. “Those conditions would be: Can we be assured that attacks against us will not be generated there?” McKenzie said speaking in video conference for the Middle East Institute in Washington Wednesday...


China's Evolving Taiwan Policy: Disrupt, Isolate and Constrain


- Although China's official policy is still one of peaceful reunification with Taiwan, the island's political evolution and shifting international relations are pushing Beijing down a more coercive path.

- China has a variety of toolkits to draw from as it seeks to shape the political and social dynamics in and around Taiwan, but events over recent years are shifting China away from conciliatory tools and toward an expansion of coercive measures.

- Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen's continued refusal to recognize the so-called 1992 Consensus, and more overt U.S. backing for Taiwan, are testing Beijing's perception that it has time on its side.

- Should there be stronger political moves in Taiwan toward independence, or if U.S. military capability and political will appear significantly weak, Beijing may weigh the cost of inaction as exceeding the cost of unification by force...

China Reports Progress in Ultra-Secure Satellite Transmission
Researchers enlisted quantum physics to send a “secret key” for encrypting and decrypting messages between two stations 700 miles apart.

The world of artificial satellites, silent in the void of space, might seem pacific. In fact it’s a high-flying battlefield rife with jamming, snooping, blinding, spoofing, hacking and hostility among the planet’s growing array of spacecraft and space powers. Now, Chinese scientists report new progress in building what appears to be the first unbreakable information link between an orbiting craft and its terrestrial controllers, raising the odds that Beijing may one day possess a super-secure global communications network.

In the journal Nature on Monday, the team of 24 scientists describe successfully testing the transmission of a “secret key” for encrypting and decrypting messages between a satellite and two ground stations located roughly 700 miles apart...


Iran Appears Poised to Go on the Cyber Offensive

Continued U.S. sanctions and Israel's aggressive strategy against Iran in Syria and Iraq have backed Iran into a corner, forcing it to become more aggressive in its counterstrategy. In 2019, Iran made a significant shift in its asymmetric strategy in the Persian Gulf and on the Arabian Peninsula when it launched missile, drone and bombing attacks that inflicted significant damage on regional oil exports and Saudi Arabia's oil industry. Now it appears that Iran may be making the same shift toward inflicting physical damage using cyberattacks as well. Such a shift would entail a significantly higher risk of further cyberattacks on Arab, U.S., Israeli and other Western companies operating in the region, as well as for critical infrastructure worldwide.

In April, Iranian-backed cyber actors targeted Israeli water infrastructure in an attack that could have increased the amount of chlorine to dangerous levels. The Israel National Cyber Directorate stopped the attack when operators noticed that water pumps were malfunctioning. While few details about the incident have emerged, the hackers apparently deployed malware targeting the plant's industrial control systems' programmable logic controllers once they gained entry into the network.

Prior to April's attack, Iran's offensive cyber operations did not damage critical civilian infrastructure but rather focused on deleting data and records and on accessing information, but April's cyberattack was intended to significantly physically damage and disrupt Israel's water supply. Iran has spent years attempting to gain entry to critical infrastructure and developing the necessary cyber tools to target industrial control systems to damage infrastructure and economic targets...

Amid US tension, Iran builds fake aircraft carrier to attack

As tensions remain high between Iran and the U.S., the Islamic Republic appears to have constructed a new mock-up of an aircraft carrier off its southern coast for potential live-fire drills. The faux foe, seen in satellite photographs obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, resembles the Nimitz-class carriers that the U.S. Navy routinely sails into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz, its narrow mouth where 20% of all the world’s oil passes through. While not yet acknowledged by Iranian officials, the replica’s appearance in the port city of Bandar Abbas suggests Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard is preparing an encore of a similar mock-sinking it conducted in 2015. It also comes as Iran announced Tuesday it will execute a man it accused of sharing details on the movements of the Guard’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the U.S. killed in a January drone strike in Baghdad...

5 Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela amid US pressure tactics


Five Iranian tankers likely carrying at least $45.5 million worth of gasoline and similar products are now sailing to Venezuela as of Sunday, May 17, 2020, part of a wider deal between the two U.S.-sanctioned nations amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. Analysts say the gasoline they carry came from the Persian Gulf Star Refinery. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP, File)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Five Iranian tankers likely carrying at least $45.5 million worth of gasoline and similar products are now sailing to Venezuela, part of a wider deal between the two U.S.-sanctioned nations amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The tankers’ voyage came after Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicol├ís Maduro already turned to Iran for help in flying in chemicals needed at an aging refinery amid a gasoline shortage, a symptom of the wider economic and political chaos gripping Latin America’s one-time largest oil producer.

For Iran, the tankers represent a way to bring money into its cash-starved Shiite theocracy and put its own pressure on the U.S., which under President Donald Trump has pursued maximalist campaigns against both nations.

But the strategy invites the chance of a renewed confrontation between the Islamic Republic and America both in the Persian Gulf, which saw a series of escalating incidents often involving the oil industry last year, and wider afield.

“This is like a new one for everyone,” said Capt. Ranjith Raja, an analyst who tracks oil shipments by sea at the data firm Refinitiv, of the gasoline shipments. “We haven’t seen anything like this before.”

All the vessels involved belong to Iranian state-owned or state-linked companies, flying under the Iranian flag. Since a pressure campaign on Iranian vessels began, notably with the temporary seizure of an Iranian tanker last year by Gibraltar, the country’s ships have been unable to fly flags of convenience of other nations, a common practice in international shipping...

Mystery Submarine May Reveal A Major New Capability For Iran

It was only a matter of time before this happened. A new vessel, shown in public for the first time this week, is either a very small submarine or a very large Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (UUV). It appears to be the latter. If correct, this will add a new dimension to Iran’s systematic warfare capability. It will also mean that Iran joins an elite club with only the U.S. Navy and Britain’s Royal Navy having such large UUVs.

The vehicle is loosely comparable to the Boeing BA Orca extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicle (XLUUV), which is being developed for the U.S. Navy, in terms of size category and, crucially, diesel-electric propulsion, if not sophistication. The Iranian model is almost certainly a cheaper..!




Why the U.S. Can’t Get Israel to Break Up With China
For most Israelis, the deals are enticing and the threat seems remote.

Joshua Mitnick

TEL AVIV, Israel—U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s message to Israelis on a recent visit was blunt: Beware China.

After years of blooming Israeli-Chinese commercial relations and the awarding of a string of port and mass transit projects to Chinese building conglomerates, Israel must tread warily or risk cooperation with its most important ally, he said in an Israeli television interview last month.

“We don’t want the Chinese Communist Party to have access to Israeli infrastructure, Israeli communication networks,” he said, “the kind of things that endanger the Israeli people and the ability of the U.S. to cooperate with Israel...”




Russia's Newest Submarine, Khabarovsk, Could Redefine Underwater Warfare

Russia's Newest Submarine, Khabarovsk, Could Redefine Underwater Warfare

In a move that harks back to the Cold War, the Russian Navy is quietly developing a whole new category of submarines, and their unique capabilities could influence the nature of undersea warfare. The first of the new type, Khabarovsk, is expected to be launched this month. In my view, this is likely to be the defining submarine of the 2020s because it represents a novel and difficult adversary.

Other navies are unlikely to emulate it, but they will want to counter it. The underwater game of cat and mouse where U.S. Navy hunter-killer submarines stalk the Russians could be reinvigorated. But these new targets are not ballistic missile subs. Khabarovsk is instead designed to be armed with the gigantic Poseidon nuclear drone-torpedoes.

Russia has managed to keep many details about the submarine out of the public domain. Relatively little is known about this large nuclear-armed boat, certainly in comparison to Western types. So its launch is eagerly anticipated by defense watchers...

With a Satellite Launch, Russia Beefs up Its Nuclear Deterrent

Russia will continue to focus on developing space-based early warning capabilities, since its newly restored system lacks redundancy. The Kupol system, the collective term for Russia’s space-based warning capability, will eventually comprise at least six satellites. Currently, only four Tundra satellites have been launched beginning in 2015, though their combined orbits already provide around-the-clock observation of U.S. territory. Russia's previous early warning satellite constellation, composed of Oko satellites, became defunct when its last geosynchronous satellite to guarantee permanent visibility of the United States failed in April 2014. Two remaining orbiting satellites continued to provide some visibility after this, but only managed to provide a total of three hours of coverage of the United States per day, leaving Russia without the ability to detect potential launches in a timely fashion...

New Report Exposes Brutal Methods of Russia’s Wagner Group

How a shady network of operatives serves as the tip of the spear in Russia’s global influence efforts with almost no accountability.

Late last November, videos of a gruesome killing went viral on Russian social networks. The shaky cell phone footage taken at al-Shaer gas plant near Palmyra, Syria, shows a Syrian man, who was known to friends and family as Hamdi Bouta, lying on the ground, surrounded by Russian-speaking men in military fatigues. They beat his extremities with a sledgehammer before decapitating him, setting his body on fire and posing for photographs with his remains.

The perpetrators, who have not yet been charged, were identified by the Russian independent news outlet Novaya Gazeta as private military security contractors for the so-called Wagner Group. Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was indicted in the United States for attempted interference in the 2016 presidential election, is widely regarded as the driving force behind the mercenary group.

Bouta’s slaying is symptomatic of the accountability vacuum in which the Wagner Group operates. While mercenary groups are outlawed within Russia, they have served as the tip of the spear of the Kremlin’s proxy wars abroad...


Austerity Will Force Saudi Arabia to Revise Its Military Priorities


- Facing severe budgetary strain due to COVID-19 and low oil prices, Saudi Arabia will likely reduce its arms purchases, while avoiding spending cuts that could impede its internal security or the development of its defense sector.

- Riyadh will be careful not to trim spending that hampers the monarchy’s internal security or goal of building its domestic defense production capacity.

- Saudi leadership will calibrate its decisions and seek to limit damage to its Vision 2030 goals, as it keeps an eye on the U.S. presidential election and plans for increasing U.S. scrutiny of its human rights and security policies...


Chicago Police Scanner Jammed by Hackers Amid Riots [IL]

An investigation has been launched after hackers gained access to the emergency radio system used by the Chicago Police Department over the weekend. As officers worked hard to keep the peace amid riots and looting triggered by the death of George Floyd, hackers jammed their radio comms with slogans and music, endangering the safety of the public and those out protesting peacefully and lawfully. While reports of gun violence were called in, police scanners were blocked with N.W.A.'s '80s hip-hop track "F*** the Police" and Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain," which alludes heavily to institutional racism in the United States. Dispatchers struggled to communicate with police to determine where fires had broken out and find out where ambulances needed to be sent. ... “It’s a very dangerous thing that they’re doing,” ....

Israel and Iran Just Showed Us the Future of Cyberwar With Their Unusual Attacks
A shadow war fought largely in secret has reached a new, more open phase.

In late April, Israeli media reported on a possible cyberattack on several water and sewage treatment facilities around the country. Israel’s national water agency initially spoke of a technical malfunction, but later acknowledged it was a cyberstrike. According to Israeli officials, the event caused no damage other than limited disruptions in local water distribution systems. At the time, the reports went all but unnoticed amid the flood of pandemic-related media coverage. Israeli media later blamed Iran for the cyberattack, which had been routed through U.S. and European servers. Iran has denied involvement.
A closer look suggests that cyberwarfare is maturing into a new phase, where new rules of engagement and deterrence are in the process of being established.

Then, on May 9, a cyberattack targeted the computer systems at Iran’s busiest hub for maritime trade, Shahid Rajaee Port in Bandar Abbas near the Strait of Hormuz. According to Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, the attack did not penetrate central security and information systems but instead disrupted private operating companies’ systems for several hours. On May 18, the Washington Post cited unnamed officials who identified Israel as the author of what appeared to be a retaliatory attack. Contradicting official Iranian claims of negligible effects, the Post reported that the attack triggered serious road and waterway congestion for several days. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi didn’t directly acknowledge responsibility, but he alluded to the event when he declared that “Israel will continue acting [against its enemies] with a mix of instruments...”

Tech firms suspend use of ‘biased’ facial recognition technology

Microsoft has joined Amazon and IBM in banning the sale of facial recognition technology to police departments, the tech giants are also urging for federal laws to regulate the use of these solutions. “We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “The bottom line for us is to protect the human rights of people as this technology is deployed...”

U.S. Nuclear Contractor Hit with Maze Ransomware, Data Leaked

A U.S. military contractor involved in the maintenance of the country’s Minuteman III nuclear arsenal has been hit by the Maze ransomware, according to reports – with the hackers making off with reams of sensitive information. The company, Westech International, has a range of contracts with the military for everything from ongoing evaluation for the ballistic missile defense system in Colorado, to a role as a sub-contractor for Northrup Grumman. In the latter capacity it provides engineering support, repair and maintenance for ground subsystems components involved in the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program...




Report: Airman suspected of killing deputy wrote violent extremist messages in blood

Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, the Travis Air Force Base security forces airman charged with murdering a California sheriff’s deputy and multiple other crimes last Saturday, wrote phrases associated with a far-right extremist movement in blood on a car before his arrest.... Carrillo wrote the words “boog” and “I became unreasonable” in blood on the hood of a car shortly before he was arrested. NBC said “boog” is short for “boogaloo,” which is a term for an online anti-government movement that seeks to provoke a second civil war in America. “I became unreasonable” refers to a quote from anti-government extremist Marvin Heemeyer, which has become a meme on boogaloo-related social media sites.... Carrillo also wrote “stop the duopoly” in blood, NBC said, referencing a desire to break the system of two main political parties in the United States. Carrillo, who was arraigned in Santa Cruz Friday afternoon, faces at least 19 charges, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday. He is accused of ambushing and fatally shooting Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department, as well as wounding and attempting to kill other officers with firearms and pipe bombs...

Ex-Californian Pleads Not Guilty In Terrorism Case

A former California prison counselor pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges that he lied to the FBI during an international anti-terrorism investigation.... He was extradited from the United Kingdom last Friday after a 3 1/2-year legal battle, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement. Dempsey lived in Sacramento and from 2001 to 2012 he was a youth counselor for the juvenile justice division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Prosecutors said that in 2013, Dempsey, a convert to Islam, flew to Syria to join Islamic militant fighters in that country and stayed for less than two months before trying to fly home. He was detained by an FBI agent at an airport in Rome, where he was stopped because he was on a no- fly list. He is accused of lying to an FBI agent by falsely claiming he had gone to Syria to help refugees. He was arrested in the United Kingdom in 2017...


With U.S.-Russia Talks Ahead, New START’s Future Hangs in the Balance

The United States is seeking to buy time in upcoming arms control discussions with Russia, and could agree to a brief extension of New START in an effort to draw China into a longer-term discussion about its potential inclusion in the treaty. Washington may now be more willing to preserve core New START elements that restrict the number of strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems that each signatory can have.

- The White House’s arms control negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov are slated to finally meet in Vienna on June 22 to discuss the future of New START, which came into force in 2011 and is now set to expire in February 2021 unless both parties agree to a five-year extension provided within the treaty itself.

- Recent leaks from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have suggested that a shorter extension (i.e. less than the five years) may be on the table, but the upcoming meeting will not guarantee any final decision...