Category Archives: Military

Stories about the US or other militaries and their soldiers, civilians and equipment or policies

Local Police Dept ‘s look for Trump to lift ban on military equip purchases…

Several local police chiefs hope President-elect Donald Trump will keep his campaign promise to rescind restrictions on a program that provides police with surplus military equipment, even though they have no interest in the big-ticket items affected.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2015 that placed a number of restrictions on the 1033 Program in response to concerns, following the protests in Ferguson, Mo., that police were overly militarized.

Obama banned the program from providing police with tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, firearms of .50 caliber and higher, grenade launchers, bayonets and camouflage uniforms, and imposed a variety of new restrictions on other items in the program.

During the campaign, Trump pledged to rescind that executive order, and police nationwide are now waiting to see if he’ll keep that promise.

Local police chiefs expressed support for rescinding the order, but also say they have no interest in obtaining tracked armored vehicles, aircraft or similar items….

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The Trump Admin is owning a Drone war with collateral damage in retaking Mosul, Iraq

President Obama grew wary of drone attack’s civilian casualties…..

He drastically cut back drone operations…

The Trump Admin has brought them back ….

Bringing to them the same issues Obama faced….

Dozens of Iraqi civilians, some of them still alive and calling out for help, were buried for days under the rubble of their homes in western Mosul after American-led airstrikes flattened almost an entire city block.

At the site on Sunday, more than a week after the bombing runs, reporters for The New York Times saw weary survivors trying to find bodies in the wreckage. Iraqi officials said the final death toll could reach 200 or more, potentially making it one of the worst civilian tolls ever in an American military strike in Iraq.

The fighting against the Islamic State here has grown more urgent, with Iraqi officers saying the American-led coalition has been quicker to strike urban targets from the air with less time to weigh the risks for civilians. They say the change reflects a renewed push by the American military under the Trump administration to speed up the battle for Mosul.

American military officials insist there have been no changes to its rules of engagement that lessen the risk for civilians. They say the reports of greater civilian casualties have come at a time of more intense operations both by Iraqi forces in Mosul and by forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria. Starting with the surge into Mosul in December, they say, American military advisers have been given more authority to call in some airstrikes that do not have to be approved through headquarters…..

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Def Sec Mattis wants his own team…

And that  means mostly people who served under President Obama…

Trump people ain’t happy….

Mattis isn’t political…But he’ll HAVE to learn to be….

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Defense Secretary James Mattis’ unconventional choices for top Pentagon posts and his reluctance to aggressively push for dramatic increases in the defense budget have rankled Republicans on Capitol Hill who say he’s burning through political capital he needs as he begins reshaping the Pentagon.

Mattis was widely embraced on both sides of the aisle when President Donald Trump nominated him. Republicans and Democrats alike expressed hope that the retired four-star general would be a moderating force on the volatile commander in chief.

But Republican lawmakers and senior congressional aides said in recent interviews they’re running out of patience with Mattis’ staffing decisions, which have disappointed Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee hoping to see their ideological allies elevated to senior levels in the Defense Department. Others are grumbling about Mattis’ refusal to advocate a bigger increase in the defense budget, which defense hawks believe was gutted disastrously under President Barack Obama.

“He certainly has got a tough job, but it sometimes feels like he forgets that we won the election,” said one aide to a GOP senator on the Armed Services Committee, who declined to speak on the record for fear of publicly alienating the defense secretary….

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image…Sl;ate

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American and Russian Military Top General’s meet twice in the last few months…

Quietly away from the Media the two top military guys in uniform for America and Russia have met face to face, something that has NOT happened in a long time….

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with Gen. Hulusi Akar of the Turkish army, center, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov of the Russian army in Antalya, Turkey, March 6, 2017.

Over three years had passed without direct senior-level contact between the world’s preeminent nuclear powers.

The military leaders of the world’s most lethal nuclear-tipped states met in February, the first such meeting in three years. The two generals got together again earlier this month, once more in relative obscurity that belied their meetings’ tremendous importance.

Long projected, but politically and geographically difficult to finalize, the Feb. 16 meeting was a personal first for Gen. Joseph Dunford and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, respectively the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Russia’s chief of the General Staff. They met in Baku, Azerbaijan, and frankly but cordially discussed the overall diminished state of U.S. and Russian military relations, the need for better communications between key leaders, and ways to deconflict military activities that could inadvertently put both countries at risk.

Then, — remarkably, considering the overall difficult state of U.S. and Russian relations — Dunford and Gerasimov met again on March 7. This time, their two days of talks were hosted by the Chief of the Turkish General Staff, Gen. Hulusi Akar, in scenic Antalya. Serious discussions ensued in a conducive environment where the three senior generals also shared meals together. Their positions reflected the varied perspectives and hence different strategies their states pursued with a contentious array of regional allies, proxies, and adversaries that placed their forces in ever-closer, increasingly dangerous proximity in northern Syria, near the cities of Manbij and al Bab. This array includes Russians backing the Syrian government, the U.S. backing the Syrian Democratic Force comprising Arabs and Kurds, and Turks supporting Assad regime opposition while combating Kurdish fighters. All recognize the need to destroy ISIS and capture its de facto capital in Raqqa….

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image…Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/U.S. Navy

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Trump Admin follows Obama script in African military policy action…

This should be NO surprise since just about the all the  Trump Admin Pentagon bosses served under President Obama….

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American Special Ops ‘advisors’ are on the ground in more than seven countries and those and other countries have asked more…

The global reach of special operators is widening. During the peak of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 13,000 Special Operations forces were deployed on missions across the globe, but a large majority were assigned to those two countries. Now, more than half of the 8,600 elite troops overseas are posted outside the Middle East or South Asia, operating in 97 countries, according to the Special Operations Command.

Still, about one-third of the 6,000 American troops currently in Iraq and Syria are special operators, many of whom are advising local troops and militias on the front lines. About a quarter of the 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan are special operators.

In Africa, about one-third of the nearly 6,000 overall troops are Special Operations forces. The only permanent American installation on the continent is Camp Lemonnier, a sprawling base of 4,000 United States service members and civilians in Djibouti that serves as a hub for counterterrorism operations and training. The United States Air Force flies surveillance drones from small bases in Niger and Cameroon.

Elsewhere in Africa, the roles of special operators are varied, and their ranks are small, typically measured in the low dozens for specific missions. Between 200 and 300 Navy SEALs and other special operators work with African allies to hunt shadowy Shabab terrorists in Somalia. As many as 100 Special Forces soldiers help African troops pursue the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony. And Navy SEALs are training Nigerian commandos for action in the oil-rich delta.

The United States is building a $50 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, that is likely to open sometime next year to monitor Islamic State insurgents in a vast area on the southern flank of the Sahara that stretches from Senegal to Chad.

Mr. Trump’s tough talk on terrorism has been well received here in Chad, where American Special Operations and military instructors from several Western nations finished an annual three-week counterterrorism training exercise last week.

Many African soldiers and security forces said they would welcome an even larger United States military presence to help combat myriad extremist threats. “Of course we’d like more,” said Hassan Zakari Mahamadou, a police commissioner from Niger. “U.S. forces enhance us.”

The Pentagon has allocated about $250 million over two years to help train the armies and security forces of North, Central and West African countries.

But American aid and training alone — along with occasional secret unilateral strikes — will not be enough to defeat groups like Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Islamic State, officials say…..

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image…The Huffington Post

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The US Military footprint in the Middle East East and Africa is Growing…Mission Creep Again?…

President Obama worked hard at bringing the troops back home…

But his promise to get rid of ISIS continued by Trump  is causing US Military commanders to ramp UP the number of comabt troops and advisers  along with air support and fire power these days….

So far there has been few casualties …

But in thes sort of actions they WILL come…

And then what will Trump & Co. do?

President Donald Trump’s pressure on the military to “demolish and destroy” the Islamic State is raising anxiety inside the Pentagon that the United States could end up in another open-ended ground war, according to current and former military officials.

The U.S. has quietly sent hundreds of additional troops to Iraq and Syria since Trump took office, and is considering dispatching thousands more to counter ISIS, fight militants in Yemen and stem a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan. But the deliberations are testing Trump’s promise to steer clear of foreign entanglements, and has his military commanders questioning whether they can maintain their meticulously drawn line between supporting local forces and leading the fight.

“How much more blood do we want to shed for Iraq?” asked one senior officer who recently returned from the war zone.

The escalating risk of U.S. casualties is shadowing the Pentagon’s internal strategy sessions, the officials said in interviews. Trump’s demand for a more aggressive strategy also raises concerns among commanders about whether they can accomplish the mission without turning U.S. troops into a substitute for local fighters, which until now have depended only on U.S. military advisers, special operations forces and air strikes.

“Some call this accelerating the campaign; some call it mission creep,” said one military officer involved in the discussions who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Some lawmakers say the U.S. military role in the region is steadily expanding with little if any debate about the implications.

“What we see happening is the classic definition of mission creep,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat and leading anti-war voice on Capitol Hill. “A few hundred here, a couple hundred there, a few more hundred here. You see our military footprint expanding ever more.”

Trump has straddled the issue — speaking out about the urgent need to defeat ISIS and criticizing former President Barack Obama’s “leading from behind strategy,” but also expressing wariness about large-scale military involvement in the Middle East….

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Syria fires missiles at Israeli warplanes on bombing run IN Syria…

Wait?

America has troops IN Syria helping efforst against ISIS?

The Russian’s have troops in Syria also?

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The US is tight with Israel which sometimes quietly makes bombing runs INTO Syria to blast stockpiles for the ­Lebanon-based Shiite militia Hezbollah, an Iranian group fighting alongside troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad….

Confusing?

The sounds of two distinct booms could be heard in Jerusalem soon after the arrival of the Syrian projectiles. The incoming missiles also set off warning sirens in the Jordan Valley, home to the ancient city of Jericho as well Palestinian farming villages and Jewish settlements.

Over the past five years, Israeli jets have from time to time struck what Israeli military analysts describe as weapons caches and convoys of arms being transferred from Syrian stockpiles to the ­Lebanon-based Shiite militia Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy fighting alongside troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Israel fears that as the Syrian civil war possibly winds down, Israel fears that as the Syrian civil war possibly winds down, Hezbollah could receive a windfall in sophisticated arms from Assad and Iran. Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war along the Israel-Lebanon border in 2006, and both sides say they are prepared for another.could receive a windfall in sophisticated arms from Assad and Iran. Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war along the Israel-Lebanon border in 2006, and both sides say they are prepared for another.

Israel also occupies two-thirds of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Israeli officials say they will never return the territory to Syria.

Israel reported no injuries or damage to its pilots or aircraft. The Israeli army did not reveal the target of its overnight airstrikes. Israel’s Channel 10 said the mission was to destroy a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah.

Syria’s military and media said the Israelis hit sites in central ­Syria near Palmyra, and claimed that Syria’s antiaircraft batteries had downed an Israeli jet. “Our air defense engaged them and shot down one warplane over occupied territory, hit another one, and forced the rest to flee,” the Syrian army said in a statement reported by state news agency Sana….

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image….The American Conservative

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Is Trump slow walking America into a war with North Korea?

There IS No doubt that North Korea is the number ONE danger point on the planet….

The country HAS nukes….

The country is testing ballistic missile ‘s….

The country IS POOR….

But saber rattling against North Korea is a VERY HIGH stakes gamble….

Seoul, South Korea (20 Million people) is well within range of North Korea’s missile range….

North Korea has a large military….

American has 50,000 troops in South Korea….

And a large military campaign into North Korea would put America BACK to the latter part of World War II, in a two front war situation….

NOT a GOOD LOOK….

The Trump administration gave its clearest signal yet that it would consider taking military action against North Korea, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that “all options are on the table” to deter the threat from Pyongyang.

Tensions are running high in Northeast Asia, with North Korea making observable progress toward its goal of building a missile that could reach the U.S. mainland and China incensed over South Korea’s decision to deploy an American antimissile battery.

Tillerson’s remarks, ruling out diplomatic talks and leaving the door open to military action, will fuel fears in the region that the Trump administration is seriously considering what Washington euphemistically calls “kinetic” options.

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said at a news conference in Seoul with Yun Byung-se, the South Korean foreign minister. He was referring to the Obama administration policy of trying to wait North Korea out, hoping that sanctions would prove so crippling that Pyongyang would have no choice but to return to denuclearization negotiations.

“We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson said. While the United States does not want military conflict, threats “would be met with an appropriate response,” he added.

“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson said.

Hours later, Trump decried North Korea’s defiance and also took aim at China, the North’s main patron. “North Korea is behaving very badly,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “They have been ‘playing’ the United States for years. China has done little to help!”….

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German Chancellor Merkel meets with Trump….

Angela Merkel has been office since 2005, longer than ANY Western head of state…..Not bad for a woman born in EAST Germany….

Germany IS Europe’s strongest nation….

Her term in office will probably be extended during the next German elections for a fourth term….

And since Donald Trump was elected?

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She has been called the Leader of the Free World…..

In the next 24 hours she will get to spend some time with a guy who is  180 degree’s from what she IS and has done in office….(She got alone fine with President Obama)

Donald Trump doesn’t do too well with strong females….

And Trump will have his friend /side Stephen Bannon looking over his shoulder whispering ‘America First ‘…..

Angela Merkel has displayed a pragmatic view of the world and good enough political sense to steer he country to a good place, leading Europe….

We’ll see how things go….

There IS a LOT riding on their first meeting…..

Their styles reflect their vastly different backgrounds. Merkel, Germany’s first and only female chancellor, was raised by a pastor in communist East Germany, where she earned a doctorate in physical chemistry. Although she is the longest-serving and most powerful leader in Europe, she is unfailingly modest, competent and consensus-oriented. Trump’s all-about-me mentality, Queens upbringing and brash, tabloid-and-reality-TV personality couldn’t be more different.

The contrast in substance is just as stark. From the Eurozone meltdown to the refugee surge, Merkel has been through multiple crises. She has no illusions about Vladimir Putin and the spy-ridden Kremlin team running Russia, and places a high value on quiet diplomacy, free trade, international law and the institutions of the European Union.

Trump is untested, unable or unwilling to criticize Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, determined to judge U.S. foreign policies by the trade balance involved or the extent to which the costs of U.S. military deployments are reimbursed, and happy to talk up the possibility of other EU countries following Britain out the door.

With his alliance diplomacy facing intense scrutiny following reports of tense phone conversations with the leaders of Australia and Mexico, Trump will be on his best behavior. Likewise, Germany’s government has no interest in playing up controversy and hopes to declare the session a diplomatic success.

Nevertheless, Merkel will try to persuade Trump to reverse his cheerleading for the collapse of the EU and put a stop to his ignorant critique of NATO. And why not? Such reversals have become a regular feature of the Trump foreign policy. In the Middle East, despite a lot of talk, the U.S. Embassy in Israel has not moved, nor has the administration taken steps to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran. In Asia, the Chinese government humbled the new president by insisting he shelve the idea of reconsidering Washington’s support for the “One China” policy.

Considering that Trump went out of his way to criticize Merkel just ahead of his inauguration, saying her decision to admit hundreds of thousands of refugees was a terrible mistake and that he intended to treat her and Putin in roughly the same way, expectations for the meeting are modest. No diplomatic breakthrough is envisioned, and a general meeting of the minds between two longstanding allies before the world’s media should be sufficient to avoid further diplomatic damage.

Behind the scenes, however, the evolution of the Trump-Merkel dialogue will shape the direction and strength of the Western alliance…

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image….Daily Express

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The CIA rejoins the US Military in drone warfare…

President Obama had come down against the CIA continuing to use Predator drone’s to take out suspected terrorits….

That policy has been over turned  by the Trump Admin recently as the US military and CIA ramp up their efforts against ISIS and Al Qaeda targets….

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The CIA has reportedly been given the power by President Trump to launch drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

The new authority is a change in drone policy from the Obama administration, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing U.S. officials.

Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones to find suspected terrorists. But the military then launched the strikes.

That policy created more transparency, because the Pentagon is required to publicly report most airstrikes.

The CIA’s new authority, which was reportedly provided by Trump shortly after his inauguration, was used in February in a strike against a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.

Spokesmen for the Pentagon and CIA declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. officials said that the new authority under Trump is only for the CIA’s operations in Syria. But according to The Wall Street Journal, the CIA may be able to conduct drone strikes in other areas as well….

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image …Business Insider

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Democrats try to find their sea legs….

The New York Times does a pice on the internal search the Democratic party has gone thru after the Presidential Election….

With a focus on the party’s defacto leader Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)….

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The piece points to how the party and supporters first dealt with a sense of shock with Trump’s wholly unexpected win…..Then moved a hard ‘NO’ movement in the streets supported by Sen. Warren and Sanders…..

But the piece points out that Democratic politicians  are NOT like the ones of the American Right….

They believe in NOT going at things by saying ‘NO’ to EVERYTHING….

They understand that precarious place they are in with the huge loses they have experienced during Obama’s run and want to be very careful not to shut themselves completely out in the USA Senate….

So while Chuck Schumer might be called out in the streets for voting for some Trump people…

He will continue to do so while working hard to make sure other Trump cabinet picks are held up…..

In Schumer’s defense?

The piece points to Trump calling Schumer early on to promise a working relationship, but Schumer being smart enough to name terms that he knew Trump could not hold as he worked more and more with the likes of House Speaker Paul Ryan …..

The seesaw between the party of ‘NO’ and pragmatics by Democratic lawmakers will continue ….

But the lawmakers have  joined chorus against Trump and the Republicans in the Media and in their own ways at work in Congress…..

The Tea party way has become the New Democratic templete to some extent…..

Who knew?

By mid-February, spirits in Democratic Washington had palpably lifted. You wouldn’t have described the mood as triumphal; it was more as if everyone had emerged from the basement after a tornado to discover that, while the car was upside down somewhere, at least the house was still standing. The travel ban remained marooned, at least temporarily, in the courts. (A redrafted executive order was issued on March 6, but it was unclear if it had fully resolved the legal issues of the first.) Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, the fast-food C.E.O. Andrew Puzder, backed out of consideration for the job in mid-February after the Republicans concluded that they did not have the votes to confirm him. The project of doing away with the Affordable Care Act was still tied up in committee amid disagreements among the Republicans themselves — an inevitable consequence, perhaps, of their eight-year all-or-nothing opposition effort that the Democrats were now studying. And the infrastructure bill that had threatened to divide Democrats against themselves never materialized; there was talk now of it being pushed back to 2018.

On Feb. 28, a few hours before Trump was due to give his first speech to Congress, I went to see Schumer in the minority leader’s chambers in the Capitol. The senator was sitting in a leather wingback chair in his shirt sleeves, and he seemed to be in a genuinely upbeat mood. “Things look much better for us and much worse for him than I ever imagined based on the first month,” he told me. The day before, three Republican senators — Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul — had held out for nothing less than full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “That’s the three votes they need, even with 52!” Schumer crowed. (The following week, a replacement bill finally began to advance through committees in the House of Representatives, but Paul declared in a Fox News interview that it would be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.) He pointed to the crowds that Indivisible and other groups had turned out in the thousands at town halls across the country the previous week. “Trump is the enemy, and his Republican acolytes — not Democrats,” he said. “We’re already beginning to coalesce around that. It was very positive. They throw a few brickbats, fine. This energy is enormous…

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image….Politico

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The General’s want State Dept assistance for worldwide terrorist campaign…

Contrary to how the White House guys Trump Aides Bannon and Miller feel?

The General’s running the miliotary side of the government realize that they NEED diplomatic assiatnce to balance their military actions in the fight across the Middle East and Africa….

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Right Now?

The State Dept under Rex Tillerson is understaffed and just about invisible ….

‘Soft Power’ IS needed to compliment the military ‘iron fist’…..

Know your history….

If President Donald Trump wants to “start winning wars again,” he would do well to fund the State Department’s non-military work in the Middle East and Africa and plan for long-term political solutions, the two top U.S. commanders leading the fight against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups those regions told Congress .

One week after Trump released his first budget request — which would shift $54 billion to the Pentagon’s budget next year with a commensurate slash in foreign aid and domestic non-defense spending — Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, of U.S. Africa Command, offered a robust defense of soft power engagement before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“We could knock off all the ISIL and Boko Haram this afternoon; but by the end of the week, so to speak, those ranks would be filled,” said Waldhauser, in a Thursday hearing. “Many people, especially those in uniform, have said we can’t kill our way to victory here.”

“The short answer is no, we cannot [win the war without soft power],” he said.

Since releasing his budget request for fiscal year 2018, Trump has pledged to “totally obliterate” ISIS, and said “we don’t fight to win,” and “we have to start winning wars again.” But in the hearing today and in other public remarks senior U.S. generals have said the same thing previous top war commanders have said for many years about fighting terrorism — they believe that success requires more than a quick military campaign.

“A solely military response is not sufficient,…

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image of  Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command…military.com

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Air Force to extend KC-135’s in addition to KC-46 buys….

Like the B-52 US Air Force Bomber?

The KC-135, Aerial tanker which is based on the old B -707 will be carrying crews that are younger than the airplane itself…..

Money and time for the newer KC-46, Aerial tanker, which is baased on the B-767……means that the 135’s are ATILL needed for at least another 20+ years….

‘If it ain’t broke, eh?’

Boeing to miss deadline on KC-46 tanker, no delivery till 2018

Retiring KC-135s would not automatically mean more cash for KC-46s because the Defense Department cannot easily transfer money between its operations and maintenance (O&M) and procurement accounts, Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, points out.

“The fundamental conundrum of Defense Department procurement is [that] procurement and O&M accounts don’t talk to each other,” says Aboulafia, adding that Gen. Everhart “is just being realistic.”

Modernizing the KC-135 instead of buying more KC-46s also allows the Air Force to add capacity in the near term, notes Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. If the Air Force needs more tankers right now, adding KC-46s will not help because the additional aircraft will not be available until near the end of the current production schedule in the 2020s, he says.

Boeing’s next-generation KC-46 assembly line
The Air Force will begin to field Boeing’s next-generation KC-46 Pegasus by the end of 2017. Credit: Boeing

In the meantime, the Air Force wants to make sure the KC-135 workhorse can survive on a dynamic future battlefield…

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Note…..

As one of the commenters said to this Avuiakltion Week piece ?

Upgrading the KC-135 will probably cost the same as buying  new KC-46’s…

But the 135s are already physically here…

B-52’s will be around for another 20 years probably….

image….Boeing KC-46 tanker (left) flying alongside the older KC-135 © / AFP

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More American Combat Troops arrive in Syria…

The new arrivals are NOT just military advisers ….

They are US Army Rangers combat troops.and US Marine artillery  fire units…

They are there to help in the final fighting against ISIS forces in last hold out cities….

The mission of the additional troops will be to help Syrian fighters prepare for the offensive on Islamic State forces in Raqqa. They will provide artillery support, training and protection for improvised explosives, among other efforts, Colonel Dorrian said.

The decision to deploy artillery mimics the approach taken in Mosul, Iraq, where American and French artillery have been supporting the Iraqi offensive to take the western half of the city.

In the case of Raqqa, the idea is that Syrian forces will do the bulk of the fighting on the ground but that Americans will assist them by providing advisers as well as firepower.

The United States is already carrying out airstrikes in Syria and has deployed surface-to-surface rockets in the northern part of the country. Before he left office, President Barack Obama approved the use of a small number of Apache attack helicopters, and they are expected to be part of the Raqqa operation, as well. Now, Marine artillery is being added to the mix….

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Trump Budget plan would cut the Coast Guard, TSA and FEMA….

First of all?

Congress is NOT gonna entertain these drastic cuts….

But the idea that Trump & Co. wants to hire thousands of Border Cops  while drasticly cutting back on other search, rescue, flying security and disaster help IS disturbing….

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The Trump administration wants to gut the Coast Guard and make deep cuts in airport and rail security to help pay for its crackdown on illegal immigration, according to internal budget documents reviewed by POLITICO — a move that lawmakers and security experts say defies logic if the White House is serious about defending against terrorism and keeping out undocumented foreigners.

The Office of Management and Budget is seeking a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget, the draft documents show, even as it proposes major increases to other Department of Homeland Security agencies to hire more border agents and immigration officers and construct a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The budget numbers mark the most detailed breakdown yet about how President Donald Trump envisions restructuring DHS to meet his pledge to halt illegal immigration and deport some of the millions already here.

Overall, DHS would get a 6 percent boost to its budget, to $43.8 billion. But to help pay for that, the administration would slice the budget of the Coast Guard and cut 11 percent in spending from the TSA — reductions that critics say would weaken safeguards against threats arriving by sea or air.

OMB also wants to cut 11 percent from the budget of FEMA, which oversees the national response to disasters such as floods and hurricanes.

The budget gambit is sure to meet fierce opposition at the hardest-hit agencies and on Capitol Hill, where a leading Republican is accusing White House budget officials of living in “la-la land.”

“It is ignorant of what constitutes national security,”….

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image….Coast Guard

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J-Stars could be going smaller via a GulfStream 550….

The Israel’s and Brits have similar sized military aircraft working in the business jet configuration doing the surviance work….

Image result for Grumman JStars

Northrop Grumman has settled on a Gulfstream G550 business jet proposal for the U.S. Air Force’s J-Stars recap competition, and submitted its bid to the service March 2.

Northrop, along with its partners Gulfstream and L3 Technologies, is the first of three potential teams to publicly acknowledge that it has submitted its bid for the J-Stars recap. Proposals were due to the Air Force March 2. Lockheed Martin is working with Bombardier on a proposal based on the Canadian company’s Global 6000 business jet; meanwhile, Boeing is offering a modified version of its 737-700 commercial airliner.

Northrop had been considering basing its J-Stars bid on the G650, a slightly bigger airframe, but decided the G550 was the “right-sized” platform for the program due to its performance and maturity, Northrop J-Stars lead Alan Metzger told Aviation Week March 2.

“We believe the G550 is the best-performing aircraft with the best balance of cost schedule and risk to go with that,” Metzger said.

The launch of the $6.9 billion competition for 17 J-Stars aircraft has been a long time coming. The industry solicitation was held up due to statutory language that would have compelled the Air Force to pursue a fixed-price contract; the service finally issued the request for proposals in December after the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer waived the language. Meanwhile, the competitors have been working to mature their proposals under risk reduction contracts for several years now.

Northrop settled on a business jet rather than an airliner because a smaller airframe allows operations in more locations around the world, while at the same time affording substantially less fuel burn than other platforms and subsequently lower life cycle cost, Metzger said….

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