I hope that you all have a great weekend.
This day in Naval History
1844—An experimental 12-inch gun explodes on board USS Princeton, killing Secretary of State (former Secretary of the Navy) Abel P. Upshur, Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Gilmer, and five other dignitaries and injuring 20 people.
1893—The first true U.S. Navy battleship, USS Indiana (BB 1), launches.
1942—USS Jacob Jones (DE 130) is sunk by German submarine U 578 off the Delaware capes.
1942— USS Houston (CA 30) engages the Japanese in the Battle of Sunda Strait and is sunk the next day.
1944—USS Balao (SS 285) and USS Sand Lance (SS 381) sink Japanese army cargo ship Akiura Maru, transport Shoho Maru about 90 miles northwest of Manokawari, New Guinea and transport Kaiko Maru just east of Musashi Wan, off Paramushir, Kurils.
1959—USS Strong (DD 758) rescues 13 Arab fishermen from Bahrain when their fishing boats flounders in a storm.
1987 - Guided Missile Frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) is commissioned.
Since there is no 29 February tomorrow here is what happened
This day in Naval History February 29
1944 - PB4Y-1s from squadrons VB-108, VB-109, and VD-3, conduct a low-level bombing raid on Japanese positions on Wake Island.
1968 - Four North Vietnamese trawlers attempting to simultaneously infiltrate supplies into South Vietnam were detected. Three of the trawlers were sunk in battle on the following day and one survived by turning back.
Monday Morning Humor from Al From last year
February 29th—the day where 'this time last year' and 'this time next year' do not apply.
Leap Day is like the Olympics, it happens every four years and nobody notices until it's over.
Leap Day is like a Kobe Bryant pass, it only occurs once every four years.
Lousy leap year—it makes you wait one more day for payday.
The government says I can't get my pension yet, as I am only 17½ . I hate being born on a leap year. All my friends are 70.
Shout out to all the people born on February 29th in 1928 celebrating their 21st birthday!
May the fact that your birthday comes once every four years be a passing excuse for your infantile behavior.
On the positive side, you are fortunate in that you only have to put up with incessant Facebook wishes every four years.
Smart men get married on 29th of February—they will only have to celebrate their anniversary every four years.
There have been 499 leap years since Caesar created it in 45 BC. Without the extra day every four years today would be July 12, 2017.
Leap days don't occur on century years unless they are divided by 400 (e,g, 400, 800…1600, 2000)
The chances of a leap birthday are one in 1,461 -- long odds for getting the short end of the stick. Imagine waiting four years for your real birthday and hearing endless jokes about being three when you're really 12.
The longest time between two leap years is eight years. The last time this happened was between 1896 and 1904 and it won't happen again until 2096 to 2104.
People born on leap year's day are called leaplings.
Besides Leap Day, February 29th is also called Femandnesday.
What year do frogs like best? Leap year.
Finally, I can't believe it's been only four years since I told the same leap year jokes.
Thanks to CHINFO
Today's national headlines include the President's response to Michael Cohen confessional testimony, first day assessments from the President's meeting with Kim Jong Un, and the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. CNO Adm. John Richardson and MCPON Russ Smith called on division chiefs and officers to be more proactive advocates for their sailors during a recent virtual all hands broadcast reports Navy Times. "In my vision, if any of our sailors have a problem, they should be able to go to their leader, their LPO, their chief, their division officer, whoever that person is and have 100 percent confidence that leader will take this on, advocate for the sailor and solve that problem," said Richardson. Jane's Navy International reported on the "Readiness Reform Oversite Committee: One Year Later" report that details the Navy's efforts to reform surface-fleet training, maintenance and operations to enhance safety following 2017's deadly collisions. Additionally, Rear Adm. John Tammen stated that the Navy is considering a block buy acquisition and is looking for other industry suggestions to accelerate the building and deployment of the Columbia-class strategic submarine reports Jane's Navy International.
On this day in history (February 28, 2006):
1953: In a Cambridge University laboratory, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.
1973: Bamboo Harvester, better known as "Mister Ed" the talking horse, dies at the age of 33. A corpse is a corpse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a deceased horse!
And today is:
National Chocolate Souffle Day
Westminster Abbey, the most famous church in England, opens its doors.
On the orders of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, two Englishmen and an Irishman are burnt for heresy.
Thomas West is appointed governor of Virginia.
Indians attack Deerfield, Mass. killing 40 and kidnapping 100.
Colonel Alexander Doniphan and his ragtag Missouri Mounted Volunteers ride to victory at the Battle of Sacramento, during the Mexican War.
The territory of Colorado is established.
After a 119-day siege by the Boers, the surrounded British troops in Ladysmith, South Africa, are relieved.
Four Union gunboats destroy the CSS Nashville near Fort McAllister, Georgia.
Haiti becomes the first U.S. protectorate.
U.S. troops are sent to Honduras to protect American interests during an election conflict.
The Japanese Army restores order in Tokyo and arrests officers involved in a coup.
U.S. tanks break the natural defense line west of the Rhine and cross the Erft River.
The U.S. Army declares that it will use V-2 rocket to test radar as an atomic rocket defense system.
Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia sign a 5-year defense pact in Ankara.
In Mississippi, 19 are indicted in the slayings of three civil rights workers.
A Los Angeles court refuses Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan's request to be executed.
The male electorate in Lichtenstein refuses to give voting rights to women.
U.S. warplanes shoot down four Serb aircraft over Bosnia in the first NATO use of force in the troubled area.
Watson and Crick discover chemical structure of DNA
On this day in 1953, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announce that they have determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes.
Though DNA–short for deoxyribonucleic acid–was discovered in 1869, its crucial role in determining genetic inheritance wasn't demonstrated until 1943. In the early 1950s, Watson and Crick were only two of many scientists working on figuring out the structure of DNA. California chemist Linus Pauling suggested an incorrect model at the beginning of 1953, prompting Watson and Crick to try and beat Pauling at his own game. On the morning of February 28, they determined that the structure of DNA was a double-helix polymer, or a spiral of two DNA strands, each containing a long chain of monomer nucleotides, wound around each other. According to their findings, DNA replicated itself by separating into individual strands, each of which became the template for a new double helix. In his best-selling book, The Double Helix (1968), Watson later claimed that Crick announced the discovery by walking into the nearby Eagle Pub and blurting out that "we had found the secret of life." The truth wasn't that far off, as Watson and Crick had solved a fundamental mystery of science–how it was possible for genetic instructions to be held inside organisms and passed from generation to generation.
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Watson and Crick's solution was formally announced on April 25, 1953, following its publication in that month's issue of Nature magazine. The article revolutionized the study of biology and medicine. Among the developments that followed directly from it were pre-natal screening for disease genes; genetically engineered foods; the ability to identify human remains; the rational design of treatments for diseases such as AIDS; and the accurate testing of physical evidence in order to convict or exonerate criminals.
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Crick and Watson later had a falling-out over Watson's book, which Crick felt misrepresented their collaboration and betrayed their friendship. A larger controversy arose over the use Watson and Crick made of research done by another DNA researcher, Rosalind Franklin, whose colleague Maurice Wilkins showed her X-ray photographic work to Watson just before he and Crick made their famous discovery. When Crick and Watson won the Nobel Prize in 1962, they shared it with Wilkins. Franklin, who died in 1958 of ovarian cancer and was thus ineligible for the award, never learned of the role her photos played in the historic scientific breakthrough.
Pilot Down... The Rescue of Roger Locher
Thanks to Billy ….and Dr. Rich
This has been around before. But, it is so darned good it had me spellbound again. Likely, it will swell your chest up, perhaps bring a tear. It is all about things too many American's no longer place the high value on that they should. At least I believe they should...
BGEN Steve Ritchie flew over 800 combat hours in the F4 Phantom during 339 missions. He is the only Air Force pilot "Ace" of Vietnam war. He is a captivating speaker and I assure you that the minutes spent watching this video will leave you feeling rewarded.
If you did not know Pink has always done things and supported veterans. This is pretty neat
It's difficult not to be impressed by Pink. The singer is not only a household name, having sold millions of albums around the world, but she's also a strong, redoubtable figure for women to look up to.
Over the course of her career she's always retained an independence that's to be admired, whilst often staying well away from what's 'conventionally' in-vogue.
On top of that – and take it from someone who knows – she's also an incredibly talented live performer. Which is why her audience were stoked when she announced she was inviting a special guest onto the stage during a New York show.
She announced the mystery person was a Vietnam veteran, but gave little else away …
What fans didn't know was that Pink's father, Jim Moore, was in the audience, and was ready to take to the stage with his daughter for the first time ever.
Now, Moore had served in Vietnam and had written a song whilst overseas called "I Have Seen the Rain". Naturally he had no idea that he'd be performing said track some 40 years later with his daughter.
Thanks to CArl
(Which principal would cover the abortion of innocent babies in the womb and the murder of new borns?? Ask a Democrat!)
Remembering What Matters from Winston Churchill
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill died 54 years ago, last month. He saw and did more in one life than most could do in a hundred. He once observed: "All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."
Today, we are missing leaders who understand these principles, or the history behind them. That is the danger of our time. Take them in order. Pause on these timeless, binding guides to a prosperous future.
Freedom is not about being unaccountable, reckless or irresponsible with lives of others – or your own. It has never been about indulgence, damning and endangering others, forcing others to do or think as we do, condemning differences that do no violence to our own.
What does this mean? Freedom is not about the right to distribute, promote or abuse drugs – marijuana, cocaine, heroin or opioids – for personal gain, gratification or escape, if doing this hurts others, creates a higher propensity for domestic abuse, drugged driving, emotional burdens, societal violence, or elevated health costs.
Likewise, freedom is not about asserting new rights or identities, pressing one's views on others through government coercion, violence, or even law suits, if this involves impairing constitutional rights to think, speak, worship, publish and associate freely.
Freedom is not about government at all – except in so far as guaranteeing personal freedoms limits government interference in our lives. Put differently, the freedom worth defending – that noble, simple sort – is about having fewer restrictions on life, only those needed to protect lives, liberty and happiness of other Americans.
Thus, any presidential candidate who advocates legalizing dangerous narcotics to "spread joy," who lumps people into identity groups instead of seeing them as individuals, who presses modern Americans to pay for ancestral sins, who denies "due process" rights during confirmation hearings, who spikes jobs to advance socialism or is silent as others do, who allows racism in their party but tags others without facts, who models hypocrisy – yet claims to support freedom – does not understand freedom.
Freedom – to speak, worship, associate, publish, and remain un-coerced by an all-powerful government – is what men died for at Yorktown and Saratoga, Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Marne and Verdun, Normandy, Anzio, The Argonne, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Make no mistake. And if you doubt, read their memoirs – there are thousands. They call it history.
They did not die to be told their families would finance luxuries, healthcare and the random obsessions of federal legislators, or those unwilling to work; they did not die to see their nation's proud moral fiber, historic commitment to personal liberty, freedom of worship impaired or targeted by self-aggrandizing secularists; they did not die to see federal control asserted over their progeny in energy, health care, transportation and education.
Honor – another idea out of style – turns on selflessness, sacrifice for others, risk taken for high purpose, not for personal gain. So, where is the presidential candidate who honors veterans daily, who honors those in uniform before themselves, who honors working class men and women by creating private sector jobs with lower taxes, fairer trade, higher growth, who honors parents by helping them prevent drug abuse not promoting it, who honors America's 250 million faithful by not penalizing them for their faith, who honors their antecedents by understanding history?
As for duty, mercy and hope – well, duty is another fading concept, yet one vital to our future. Candidates who fail to appreciate American history fail to understand that duty motivated much of our greatness. Hundreds of millions of selfless Americans placed duty to God, family, town and nation above themselves, in a life-and-death way not a will-o-the-wisp press release.
Mercy – is also vital. It is not welfare, Medicare-for-All, Green-New-Deals that bankrupt our future and salve an "aspirational" candidate's ego. Mercy is teaching people to work and creating conditions to grow their dreams and the economy – offering self-respect and income, decent jobs for a decent wage, self-respect not moral neglect.
Mercy is remembering the American kids, parents and families who are condemned to hell-on-earth when a candidate advocates legal drugs, open borders, rogue-ridden sanctuary cities, no walls (which means no rule of law) and "everything for nothing." Mercy is about accountability, responsibility and truth, not the reverse.
And hope? That is what this column means to offer – along with knowledge that deep in our past lies the key to a bright future. We need only remember how we got here, to resume the illuminated path forward. Our Founders, best American leaders, and Churchill knew – what we are intent on forgetting: "All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope." Now we must put those words, back into action.
A couple articles thanks to Paul
Fighter jock culture....
Who is this Rand Analyst and why is he is saying this?
The Geeks vs. the Infantrymen (pay wall)
Microsoft employees lament that a military system will 'help people kill.' Damn right it will.
Microsoft employees last week sent an open letter to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith demanding that they immediately cancel a Defense Department contract for the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, on grounds that IVAS is "designed to help people kill."
Damn right it is. Microsoft's employees should take pride that they have been entrusted with the privilege of providing a game-changing technology that will allow American soldiers and Marines, not the enemy, to do the killing.
In wars over the past 70 years, 90% of all uniformed military personnel killed by enemy fire were infantrymen, a cohort of some 50,000 who comprise less than 4% of all who wear the uniform. Outside the infantry, men and women in uniform stand a greater chance of dying from accidents than they do from enemy action.
One reason for this asymmetry of sacrifice is that for decades the U.S. has underfunded its close-combat branches. Jim Mattis, a combat-tested Marine infantryman, was the first defense secretary to attempt to overcome this record of neglect. Shortly after taking office, he inaugurated his Close Combat Lethality Task Force and appointed me a special adviser.
Before the task force began its work, infantrymen received less than 1% of the defense budget for training and equipment. The task force looked at many technologies that promised to make America's infantry dominant in battle and help prevent combat deaths. So far we've found only one technology that promises to be a game changer: IVAS. The innocuous device looks a bit like a pair of sunglasses.
The 1986 movie "Top Gun" depicts the Navy's Fighter Weapons School, which teaches pilots how to outfly the enemy by subjecting them to several bloodless air-to-air battles before facing a real enemy. Mr. Mattis challenged the task force to build a Soldier's Top Gun. We sought a means for every infantryman to "fight 25 battles before the first battle begins." IVAS will expose infantrymen to close combat virtually using its augmented-reality function.
To understand how IVAS will help infantrymen in combat, recall the October 2017 tragedy at Tongo Tongo, Niger, where four special-forces soldiers were killed in a three-hour firefight against an overwhelming force of heavily armed militants. Had these soldiers been equipped with IVAS, the fight might have turned out differently. The device will have several tiny, built-in sensors that give the wearer an ability to detect an enemy ambush. Its heads-up display will mark the soldier's surroundings and inform him of potential enemy positions. Later versions of IVAS will connect to a soldier's weapon, allowing him to see and engage a hidden enemy virtually using a Bluetooth link connecting the device to a weapon's integrated sight.
As I read the Microsoft letter, I juxtaposed the mental image of those four brave soldiers with that of the letter's geeky authors. "We believe that Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the U.S. Army's ability to cause harm and violence," they complain. IVAS, they write, "works by turning warfare into a simulated 'video game,' further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed."
In reality, the infantryman knows well "the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed." They call it "intimate killing." Soldiers may not feel comfortable in the quietude of the Microsoft campus. But those men died in Tongo Tongo defending Microsoft employees' right to enjoy their lattes.
I hope that enough of their colleagues appreciate how vital is the task to put in the hands of our intimate killers a device that will keep them alive in tomorrow's close fight.
A powerful, eloquent, non-denominational Eulogy delivered by Chaplain Rabbi Lt. Gittelsohn after the bloody fighting on Iowa Jima. Every American should read and remember the sacrifices made by our young men for the love of our country. It is especially timely to remember those sacrifices during today's turmoil in our Nation, which seems quick to forget our past. Please take the time to read it.
Rabbi Gittelsohn's Iwo Jima Eulogy
May 27, 2012
Rabbi Steven I. Rein
Rabbi Steven I. Rein
Shavuot 5772 – Yizkor
Memorial Day 2012
Memorial Day 2012
For the first time in recent memory, the festival of Shavuot, and more specifically, the recitation of Yizkor, coincides with Memorial Day. Today, we recall not only parents, children, siblings, friends, and family, but more than one million men and women who have sacrificed their lives for this great nation. On this Shavuot 5772, on this Memorial Day 2012, the story I would like to share is a story unknown to many, but a story whose message ultimately speaks to the memory of each of our loved ones. The year is 1945; the place was Iwo Jima.
The fight for Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest of World War II. A tiny island in the Pacific dominated by a volcanic mountain and pockmarked with caves, Iwo Jima was the setting for a five-week, nonstop battle between 70,000 American Marines and an unknown number of deeply entrenched Japanese defenders. The courage and gallantry of the American forces, climaxed by the dramatic raising of the American flag over Mt. Suribachi, is memorialized in the Marine Corps monument in Washington, DC. Less well-remembered, however, is that the battle occasioned an eloquent eulogy by a Marine Corps rabbi that has become an American classic.
Rabbi, LT Roland B. Gittelsohn (1910-95), assigned to the Fifth Marine Division, was the first Jewish chaplain the Marine Corps ever appointed. The American invading force at Iwo Jima included approximately 1,500 Jewish Marines, and Rabbi Gittelsohn was in the thick of the fray, ministering to Marines of all faiths in the combat zone. He shared the fear, horror and despair of the fighting men, each of whom knew that each day might be his last. Roland Gittelsohn's tireless efforts to comfort the wounded and encourage the fearful won him three service ribbons.
When the fighting was over, Division Chaplain Warren Cuthriell, a Protestant minister, asked Rabbi Gittelsohn to deliver the memorial sermon at a combined religious service dedicating the Marine Cemetery. Cuthriell wanted all the fallen Marines (black and white, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish) honored in a single, nondenominational ceremony. Unfortunately, racial and religious prejudice was strong in the Marine Corps, as it was then throughout America. According to Rabbi Gittelsohn's autobiography, the majority of Christian chaplains objected to having a rabbi preach over predominantly Christian graves.
To his credit, Cuthriell refused to alter his plans. Gittelsohn, on the other hand, wanted to save his friend Cuthriell further embarrassment and so decided it was best not to deliver his sermon. Instead, three separate religious services were held. At the Jewish service, to a congregation of 70 or so who attended, Rabbi Gittelsohn delivered the powerful eulogy he originally wrote for the combined service. I share his eulogy with you this morning.
THIS IS PERHAPS THE GRIMMEST, and surely the holiest task we have faced since D-Day. Here before us lie the bodies of comrades and friends. Men who until yesterday or last week laughed with us, joked with us, trained with us. Men who were on the same ships with us, and went over the sides with us, as we prepared to hit the beaches of this island. Men who fought with us and feared with us. Somewhere in this plot of ground there may lie the individual who could have discovered the cure for cancer. Under one of these Christian crosses, or beneath a Jewish Star of David, there may rest now an individual who was destined to be a great prophet to find the way, perhaps, for all to live in plenty, with poverty and hardship for none. Now they lie here silently in this sacred soil, and we gather to consecrate this earth in their memory.
IT IS NOT EASY TO DO SO. Some of us have buried our closest friends here. We saw these men killed before our very eyes. Any one of us might have died in their places. Indeed, some of us are alive and breathing at this very moment only because men who lie here beneath us, had the courage and strength to give their lives for ours. To speak in memory of such men as these is not easy. Of them, too, can it be said with utter truth: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. It can never forget what they did here."
No, our poor power of speech can add nothing to what these men and the other dead of our division who are not here have already done. All that we can even hope to do is follow their example. To show the same selfless courage in peace that they did in war. To swear that, by the grace of God and the stubborn strength and power of human will, their sons and ours shall never suffer these pains again. These men have done their job well. They have paid the ghastly price of freedom. If that freedom be once again lost, as it was after the last war, the unforgivable blame will be ours, not theirs. So it be the living who are here to be dedicated and consecrated.
WE DEDICATE OURSELVES, first, to live together in peace the way they fought and are buried in war. Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors, generations ago helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and [privates], [Blacks] and whites, rich and poor…together. Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews…together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudice. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy.
Anyone among us the living who fails to understand that, will thereby betray those who lie here. Whoever of us lifts his hand in hate against another, or thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and of the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this, them, as our solemn, sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the right Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of all races alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price.
TO ONE THING MORE do we consecrate ourselves in memory of those who sleep beneath these crosses and stars. We shall not foolishly suppose, as did the last generation of America's fighting, that victory on the battlefield will automatically guarantee the triumph of democracy at home. This war, with all its frightful heartache and suffering, is but the beginning of our generation's struggle for democracy. When the last battle has been won, there will be those at home, as there were last time, who will want us to turn our backs in selfish isolation on the rest of organized humanity, and thus to sabotage the very peace for which we fight. We promise you who lie here; we will not do that. We will join hands with Britain, China, Russia—in peace, even as we have in war, to build the kind of world for which you died.
WHEN THE LAST SHOT has been fired, there will still be those eyes that are turned backward not forward, who will be satisfied with those wide extremes of poverty and wealth in which the seeds of another war can breed. We promise you, our departed comrades: this, too, we will not permit. This war has been fought by the common man; its fruits of peace must be enjoyed by the common man. We promise, by all that is sacred and holy, that your sons, the sons of miners and millers, the sons of farmers and workers—will inherit from your death the right to a living that is decent and secure.
WHEN THE FINAL CROSS has been placed in the last cemetery, once again there will be those to whom profit is more important than peace, who will insist with the voice of sweet reasonableness and appeasement that it is better to trade with the enemies of mankind than, by crushing them, to lose their profit. To you who sleep here silently, we give our promise: we will not listen: We will not forget that some of you were burnt with oil that came from American wells, that many of you were killed by shells fashioned from American steel. We promise that when once again people seek profit at your expense, we shall remember how you looked when we placed you reverently, lovingly, in the ground.
THUS DO WE MEMORIALIZE those who, having ceased living with us, now live within us. Thus do we consecrate ourselves, the living, to carry on the struggle they began. Too much blood has gone into this soil for us to let it lie barren. Too much pain and heartache have fertilized the earth on which we stand. We here solemnly swear: this shall not be in vain. Out of this, and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come—we promise—the birth of a new freedom for all humanity everywhere. And let us say…AMEN.
[Rabbi Gittelsohn's sermon and history courtesy of the USMC archives]
A bit of news from around the world
Democratic Republic of the Congo—Militants Attack, Burn Ebola Treatment Center In N. Kivu Province Reuters | 02/28/2019 Suspected militants have attacked an Ebola treatment center in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, reports Reuters. Unknown gunmen opened fire on the center in Butembo on Wednesday, launching a gun battle with security forces, said the health ministry. At the time of the attack, the center was caring for 38 people suspected of having the disease and 12 confirmed cases. Four of the patients with confirmed cases fled during the attack, said the ministry. None of the patients who have been accounted for were injured in the fight. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Militants often target international aid groups, who are viewed with suspicion or as easy targets. This was the second attack on a Doctors With Borders Ebola treatment facility in North Kivu province this week. On Sunday, the facility in Katwa, east of Butembo, was attacked and set on fire, reported the Guardian (U.K.). The non-governmental organization was forced to close the clinic due to the damage. The country is currently battling the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak on record, with 553 people dead and 300 more currently infected.
USA—Talks With Taliban Paused After Extensive Discussion On Core Issues Reuters | 02/28/2019 U.S. and Taliban negotiators meeting in Doha, Qatar, this week have temporarily halted their talks after three days of "extensive discussion" on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and security assurances, reports Reuters, citing a Taliban statement. A source from the militant group told the news agency that an agreement assuring the U.S. that Afghanistan would not be used against it or its allies could soon be finalized. The U.S. envoy to the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, was cautiously optimistic, noting steady progress this week, reported the Khaama Press (Afghanistan). Participating in the meetings were Khalilzad and Gen. Scott Miller, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, as well as newly-appointed Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Baradar is a founding member of the Taliban and was released from a Pakistani jail last year to participate in the talks. After discussions on Wednesday, both sides agreed to hold the next session on Saturday to permit time for internal consultations.
Mali—17 Killed By IED Hidden In Corpse Agence France-Presse | 02/28/2019 At least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a funeral in central Mali, reports Agence France-Presse. On Wednesday, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded while family members buried the body of a local man in Gondogourou, Mopti region, killing 17 people, reported the Independent (U.K.). The victim was abducted a week before while getting food for his livestock, reported the North South Journal (Mali). The man was shot dead by militants, who placed explosives in his corpse, said a local official. The tactic is used by jihadists to inflict maximum casualties, said another source. Militants in Burkina Faso used the same tactic on Feb. 14 in an attack that killed two police officers and an army doctor. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Groups affiliated with ISIS and Al-Qaida are active in Mali.
USA—Pentagon Considering Early Retirement For Truman Carrier Breaking Defense | 02/28/2019 The Dept. of Defense is considering decommission one of its aircraft carriers decades ahead of schedule to free up funds for other priorities, reports Breaking Defense. Under the plan, the USS Harry S. Truman would not receive its planned refueling and complex overhaul in 2024. The ship would be retired once its nuclear reactor ran down, sometime in the mid- to late 2020s, said experts. Refueling the carrier's nuclear reactor would give it around 20 to 25 years of additional service life. The proposal is part of the 2020 to 2024 budget plan due in March. Retiring the Truman would shrink the carrier fleet from 11 to 10 and could save more than $30 billion over decades. The decision was part of a deal to fund the construction of two new Gerald R. Ford-class carriers, said former deputy defense secretary Robert Work. The move is likely to face significant pushback from Congress, which has established a law requiring the navy to maintain minimum of 11 carriers and called for increasing the fleet to 12. Some analysts say aircraft carriers are increasingly obsolete due to the short range of the fighter jets they carry. Adversaries such as China or Russia have anti-ship missiles with greater range than the aircraft in the current carrier air wing, requiring the ships to enter well within the range of such weapons to launch attacks.
Pakistan—Indian Pilot To Be Returned In Peace Gesture, Says PM Dawn | 02/28/2019 Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan says a detained Indian pilot will return home tomorrow, reports the Dawn (Pakistan). "In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian air force officer in our custody," Khan told Parliament on Thursday. Khan also expressed his desire to speak with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, raising the possibility of Turkish meditation, reported the Print (India). Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was taken captive on Wednesday after his MiG-21 fighter jet was shot down. Some observers criticized a video that circulated showing the bleeding pilot being held in captivity, reported Reuters. On Wednesday, Pakistan said it shot down two Indian military planes near the line of control and struck six targets on the Indian side of the border in Kashmir. On Thursday, the Indian air force identified wreckage seen in an image circulating on social media as part of a Pakistani F-16 jet that was downed during the clash, reported NDTV (New Delhi). Separately, the U.S., U.K. and France have advanced a motion in the U.N. Security Council to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, reported the Hindu (New Delhi). India blames JeM for a Feb. 14 attack that killed 40 paramilitaries. It has accused Pakistan of failing to take action against the terrorist group. Russia—New Tank, Air Defense Units Planned For Western Military District Tass | 02/28/2019
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has announced plans to establish a tank regiment and a coastal defense missile battalion in the Baltic region, reports Russia's Tass news agency. The deployment is part of 142 new organizational changes to be implemented in the Western Military District, he told the ministry's board on Wednesday. The formation of a mobile air defense missile regiment in the region will improve coverage for military and government facilities in the Baltic area by 40 percent, he said. The ministry also plans to set up two additional regiments in the 20th Army and the Western Military District's technical missile base and build new barracks for the newly formed 3rd and 144th Motor Rifle Divisions. The moves are intended to counter NATO's strengthened military presence in the region, where the alliance has deployed multinational battle groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, reported the Stars and Stripes.
China—Lawmakers To Review Veteran Benefit Bill South China Morning Post | 02/28/2019 Campaigners say the Chinese Parliament is set to review a bill that could increase benefits for veterans, reports the South China Morning Post. A draft law has been submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC), which begins its annual session on March 5, said a Chinese veterans' activist. The activist said the legislation, which contains 83 articles in 11 charters, could mean better protections and healthcare for veterans who find themselves injured or sick because of their service or have trouble finding work. Such legislation could be adopted within a year but questions remain over how much policies will change on the ground, said a Chinese analyst. Local officials could implement the law selectively, based on demands from their superiors, said the analyst. Beijing established a new Ministry of Veterans Affairs last year to help better support the country's 57 million veterans. The move was a response to growing calls for better treatment for China's veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars and those involved in the nuclear program. Last month, the new ministry promised to increase support for veterans, who can struggle to get adequate healthcare and find work after they leave service, reported the state-run PLA Daily. Some analysts have expressed particular concern about getting assistance for the 300,000 soldiers who lost their jobs in a major reform program launched by President Xi Jinping. Discontent among soldiers potentially poses a problem for Chinese stability. Chinese soldiers staged massive protests in October 2016 and February 2017 that were some of the largest in recent memory.
North Korea—Trump-Kim Summit Ends Without Agreement Wall Street Journal | 02/28/2019 The summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Vietnam has ended with no major breakthroughs, reports the Wall Street Journal. Trump and Kim ended their meeting abruptly on Thursday without signing a planned agreement. A joint dinner scheduled to follow the talks was also cancelled, reported the Yonhap news agency (Seoul). The White House previously suggested that the leaders might sign an accord officially ending the Korean War. North Korea offered to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex, where experts believe the North enriches plutonium, in return for the lifting of most sanctions, Trump told reporters after the summit. The U.S. sought a more comprehensive deal that included other parts of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, including undeclared sites. It "was not appropriate" to sign an agreement without further commitments from Pyongyang, said Trump. The president said that he understands Kim's position better after the summit, while noting that the two sides have different understandings of the term "denuclearization," reported NPR News. Prior to the summit, Trump said that there was no rush to reach an agreement immediately as long as missile and nuclear tests do not resume. President Trump did not rule out resuming military exercises with South Korea but called the exercises expensive and criticized Seoul for not shouldering more of the costs, according to a transcript of the press conference cited by Vox (Washington, D.C.). No further meetings between the two leaders have been announced. Trump has asked South Korean President Moon Jae In to "actively" help mediate future talks with the North.
Latvia—Military Infrastructure Funding Gets Significant Boost Baltic Course | 02/28/2019 The Latvian Ministry of Defense has announced plans to allocate additional funding for military infrastructure, reports the Baltic Course. About 50 million euros (US$44 million) will be invested in military infrastructure annually between 2019 and 2022, the ministry said. The new budget is a significant increase from the 38 million euros (US$33 million) authorized in 2018. Most of the funding will be invested in Camp Adazi in Riga, including the development of an airfield and construction of NATO's new Multinational Division North headquarters. Improvements at Camp Adazi will include additional barracks and warehouses, fire station upgrades, vehicle parking and maintenance facilities and new perimeter fencing. The budget also covers new battalion-level national guard bases and construction of additional regional ammunition storage sites to enhance military readiness. Training facilities will also be expanded and upgraded.
USA—Northrop Grumman Eyes New Platforms For SABR Radar Northrop Grumman | 02/28/2019 Northrop Grumman has announced plans to integrate its AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) radar system on additional platforms. The AN/APG-83 SABR system has been successfully integrated on multiple configurations of the F-16 fighter and the company is now moving to add it to the B-52H Stratofortress bomber, B-1B Lancer bomber and Marine F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters, a Northrop Grumman release said on Tuesday. The system is under consideration by Boeing for the B-52 Bomber Modernization Radar System, which includes engineering, manufacturing, development and delivery of an initial seven units, the release said. The U.S. Air Force has expressed interest in upgrading its entire B-52 fleet. A variant of the radar has also been developed for the B-1B. Northrop Grumman announced late last year that it had completed a fit check of the APG-83 on a Marine F/A-18C Hornet. The service is looking to replace the current mechanically scanned radars on the jet with electronically scanned systems.
United Nations—International Donors Pledge More Than US$2 Billion In Aid For Yemen At U.N. Conference Xinhua | 02/28/2019 The United Nations has received pledges worth US$2.6 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen at a conference in Geneva, reports Xinhua, China's state-run news agency. The United Nations is seeking to raise US$4.2 billion in aid pledges for all of 2019. The donations promised at Tuesday's conference totaled 30 percent more than at a similar conference in 2018, said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The conference marks the largest single country appeal from the U.N., noted the New York Times. Among the top donors were the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, pledging about US$750 million and $500 million, respectively. The U.K. pledged US$264 million; the European Union, US$183 million; and Kuwait, US$250 million, reported the Guardian (U.K.). The U.S. offered US$21 million, saying it had provided US$721 million in aid since October 2017. It is estimated that about 24 million people in Yemen, or around 80 percent of the population, need assistance, including 8.4 million on the edge of famine, reported Deutsche Welle. Separately, aid workers in Yemen gained entry on Tuesday to the Red Sea Mills, a major food storage warehouse near Hodeidah, where 51,000 tons of grain had been stranded since September. The food stockpile is enough to feed more than 3.7 million people for a month.
USA—Navy Cancels, Postpones Deployments Due To Sailor Shortage, New Readiness Requirements Military.Com | 02/28/2019 The U.S. Navy has cancelled or delayed ship deployments over the last year due to personnel shortages and new readiness requirements put in place after a pair of deadly accidents in 2017, reports Military.com. The service canceled the deployment of the destroyer USS Momsen to the South Pacific and elected not to send the amphibious ship USS John P. Murtha to the Rim of the Pacific exercise last year due to these ongoing concerns, Adm. John Aquilino, head of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, as cited by USNI News. On several occasions, officials have asked for additional time to prepare and train for missions because the sailors are not certified to do the job, said Adm. Christopher Grady, head of Fleet Forces Command. Grady said he had postponed the deployment of an unspecified ship for three weeks to allow it to complete necessary training. Aquilino and Grady testified before a special joint session of the House Armed Services readiness and seapower subcommittees on the effectiveness of recent personnel reforms implemented by the Navy after the 2017 mishaps. The admirals expressed satisfaction with the new policies, which require ships to have the necessary personnel, equipment and training before deploying. A shortfall of around 6,200 sailors in at-sea billets has created challenges, the senior officials said.
USA—Lockheed Wins Deal For Navy Hypersonic Weapon U.S. Department Of Defense | 02/28/2019 The U.S. Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colo., a contract modification for technologies for the intermediate-range conventional prompt strike (IRCPS) weapon system, reports the Dept. of Defense. The $846 million deal covers the design, development, build and integration of large-diameter rocket motors, associated missile body flight articles and related support equipment for the IRCPS weapon system flight-test demonstrations, said a Pentagon release on Tuesday. Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2024. The U.S. military services are each working to field a hypersonic capability to contribute to a conventional prompt global strike concept designed to enable any target around the world to be hit within around an hour, reported USNI News in November 2018. The Navy is developing the hypersonic glide body that all of the services will use as well as a booster to launch the weapon.
Australia—Boeing Australia Shows Off 'Loyal Wingman' Unmanned Aircraft Boeing | 02/28/2019 Boeing's Australian subsidiary has revealed a new unmanned combat aerial vehicle concept, reports the defense firm. On Wednesday, a model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (BATS) was publicly displayed for the first time at the Australian International Airshow in the southeastern Victoria state, said a company release. The BATS is being developed with the Royal Australian Air Force, with a prototype expected to be completed in 2020, reported Defense News. The project aims to develop the system for service with the RAAF and the other "Five Eyes" partners, including Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S. During the airshow, Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne said Canberra would provide Aus$40 million (US$28.7 million) for the program. Along with company funds, this is expected to support the completion of three prototype air vehicles, which should be enough to evaluate the loyal wingman concept. The airpower teaming system is a semi-autonomous multi-mission system that can carry weapons and be controlled from a ground station or aerial platform. No modifications would be required to the crewed platform, Boeing officials said The BATS, Boeing's first unmanned aircraft developed in Australia, is 38 feet (12 m) long and is expected to have a range of more than 2,000 nm (3,700 km). The aircraft will have "fighter-like" performance and be integrated with sensor packages to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and electronic warfare missions. Four to six of the aircraft could fly alongside an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter, said a Boeing official as quoted by Reuters. The initial prototype is being built by Boeing Defence in Brisbane. First flight is anticipated in 2020.