The commander of U.S. forces in Latin America told Congress Wednesday that the military is developing plans to be immediately ready for any contingency if Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó ousts dictator Nicolás Maduro from power. Adm. Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, told the House Armed Services Committee he believes it is only a matter of time before Guaidó, president of the country’s National Assembly, takes control. Guaidó encouraged Venezuelans to take to the streets starting Tuesday, saying that the final phase of “Operation Freedom” had begun. “[T]here is going to be a day when the legitimate government takes over, and it’s going to come when we least expect it,” said Faller. “And it could be right now, so we are calling it ‘day now’ planning.” Faller told the committee that repairing Venezuela’s dilapidated economic and energy infrastructure after years of corruption and mismanagement won’t be a sample task. “[T]he magnitude of the misery is going to require every element of international unity that currently exists,” he said. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., asked Faller if military planning includes contingencies involving the aftermath of a U.S. intervention in the country. Faller said the military is preparing for anything the president has said is on the table, adding that “we are on the balls of our feet.” He said he would prefer to disclose the details in a closed session of Congress. Trump has kept military options on the table since Venezuela’s political crisis began. In January, the United States and dozens of other Western nations recognized Guaidó as the country’s interim president. “The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today in an interview on Fox Business Network. Venezuela’s political turmoil has been exacerbated by mass food shortages. The average Venezuelan has lost 20 pounds in the last year, Faller said, with 90 percent of people suffering from malnutrition. Responsibility for the continuing crisis “squarely rests on Cuba, Russia, and to some extent China,” the admiral told the committee. The Pentagon has estimated as many as 20,000 Cuban forces are supporting the Maduro regime. An unknown number of Russian military personnel and mercenaries are also believed to be in Venezuela, with 100 special advisers flying in recently. “It’s significant, and it’s contributing to the devastation,” said Faller. Trump threatened an embargo against Cuba yesterday. “If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete … embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba,” the president said in a pair of tweets. Government officials and experts have warned that the conflict in Venezuela could create an immigration crisis larger than that caused by the Syrian civil war. The United Nations estimates that about 3.5 million Venezuelans have fled the country, with 1.8 million leaving in 2018 alone.
The U.S. military is looking to develop and test more weapons it can blast into space to fire at targets on the surface of the earth. According to Defense One, the first plan on the agenda is a space laser that could be used to blow up enemy missiles “coming off the launch pad”. A study to see if this is feasible should wrap up within six months, but only takes up $15m of the total budget. Much of the rest of the cash is going to a project to develop space-based “particle beam” weapons. While lasers fire high-energy light at targets, particle beam weapons would accelerate a stream of subatomic particles to ludicrously high speeds and direct them at the target. While each particle only has a tiny mass, enough of them moving fast enough would be able to impart a serious amount of energy in a very short space of time. The U.S. first tested particle beam weapons in the late 1980s to some success, but the designs for a functional weapon were huge, with some reportedly over 70 feet long. “We now believe we can get it down to a package that we can put on as part of a payload to be placed on orbit,” according to a senior U.S. military official quoted by Defense One. The idea is that such weapons could be used to take out missiles very shortly after they launch, when they’re blasting up from their launch pads into the atmosphere. The current plan has such weapons being ready for testing in 2023. Some worry that if the U.S. developed and deployed these sorts of weapons it would push the likes of Russia and China into developing both missiles that would be resistant to the technology and weapons to take down the satellite weapons. The development of those new weapons result in “greatly increasing the threat to U.S. assets in space,” according to Kingston Reif, of the Arms Control Association. No country currently has any official space-based weapons, but plenty have been theorized. China has upgraded its space technology recently, with U.S. analysts suggesting they already have laser-based weapons capable of crippling American defenses.
Leaking pipes. Moldering walls. Condemned offices and balconies. Plumbing that can’t handle its load and a stormwater system dumping unfiltered rainwater into the Severn River. These aren’t the issues of a long-abandoned factory. They describe the current condition of the Naval Academy. Infrastructure at the naval institution in Annapolis has degraded to the point of threatening the school’s ability to train and educate midshipmen, according to a report by the Naval Audit Service. The 2018 audit, obtained by The Capital Gazette through a Freedom of Information Act request, details failing buildings, classrooms and athletic facilities — which in some cases actively leak, overheat and threaten user safety. Buildings including Nimitz Library and Macdonough Hall were built decades ago but never fully updated, causing critical systems to outlive their usefulness. Auditors fear the conditions jeopardize academy accreditation, endanger midshipmen and visitors, and violate several federal laws. The report took stock of 13 unfunded maintenance or renovation projects spread among 15 facilities between March 6, 2017, and April 26, 2018. Ten of these facilities are highly important to the academy mission, according to its internal rating system. But of those 10, four rated “poor to fair” and five rated “failing to poor” at supporting the academy’s ultimate goal — to ready midshipmen for naval service. The auditors found a maintenance backlog exacerbated by steep funding cuts after the Naval Academy lost its Flagship Institution designation to the 2013 federal budget sequester. The designation promised the academy funding for both regular repairs and major renovations. To dam the deluge of problems, the Navy restored the Flagship Institution designation for the academy, Naval Postgraduate School and Naval War College. The academy will get $15 million every other year, beginning in fiscal year 2020. The Navy will also support the maintenance budget at a higher level. “USNA concurs with the findings of the audit,” Cmdr. David McKinney, a Naval Academy spokesman, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to addressing the discrepancies in the report and with additional funding look forward to ensuring the Naval Academy remains a modern Flagship Institution for the Navy.” The Naval Academy continues to do emergency maintenance — including recent repairs to the Bancroft Hall roof and the Leahy Hall roof that was blown off during a wind storm last year, said Ed Zeigler, a spokesman for Naval District Washington. But to fund large-scale infrastructure projects, the school competes for money against other projects in the Washington, D.C., Naval District. The academy submits projects to the district, which prioritizes and passes them on to Shore Mission Integration Group, a Navy body responsible for balancing priorities at sea and on the shore. Even with the new money, it would take years to address all of the problems listed in the audit.
Indeed.. For more, click on the text above.
Generation Z is proving to be a tough nut to crack for the U.S. Army. Recruiters are racking their minds for ways to convince Americans born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s to sign on the dotted line. The situation is so challenging that they are turning to e-Sports video game tournaments. “It is incredible, the amount of coverage that you get and the amount of the Z Gens that are watching these games,” Gen. Frank Muth, the head of Army Recruiting Command, recently told NPR. The move (coming after the Army fell short of its 76,500 recruitment goal by 6,500 people last fiscal year) is part of a broader strategy requiring recruiters to leverage social media platforms such as Instagram to reach potential troops. “Calling the Z generation on the phone doesn’t work anymore,” Gen. Muth told NPR’s Leila Fadel. “We’re really giving the power back to our recruiters to go on Twitter, to go on Twitch, to go on Instagram, and use that as a venue to start a dialogue with the Z generation.” The media organization noted that a recent e-Sports event featuring an Army recruiter as an announcer netted 2 million views. “Half [the views] were from people aged 17 to 24,” NPR reported. “Here’s what we’re finding different as we’ve shifted from the millennials to the Z Generation. Z Generation, they do want to be part of something bigger,” the officer added. “They do want to give back. They do want to serve, and they want to get out there and be part of something other than just being about themselves.”
A sign of the times… Gone are the days where Army recruiters met you at fairs and campuses. That’s how I was approached back in the day.
The strategic American military system for moving troops, weapons, and supplies over long distances has decayed significantly and needs rapid upgrading to be ready for any future war with China or Russia, according to a report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board. A special task force on survivable logistics evaluated the military’s current airlift, sealift, and prepositioned equipment and supplies and found major problems with supporting forces during a “high-end” conflict. “Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not fought an adversary capable of the catastrophic disruption of military supply chains and deployment of personnel and materiel,” an unclassified summary of the report states. “As a result, the [joint logistics enterprise] has suffered neglect and chronic underfunding relative to other DoD priorities.” Additionally, the ability of strategic competitors to threaten military supply lines has increased with new and advanced weapons and missiles, as well as “gray zone” capabilities such as cyber attacks and space warfare. “Competitors and adversaries have already disrupted commercial logistics information technology systems,” the report said. “Military and commercial networks are at risk.” “Conflict against a strategic competitor will demand a dispersed and survivable logistics structure and robust IT systems capable of not only defending against cyber-attacks, but also safely sharing logistics information across military and commercial elements,” the report said. The task force concluded that a logistics system for the military that can survive a future war will be essential for continued American power projection and for readiness to deal with threats from China and Russia. “Without a demonstrably resilient and survivable logistics capability, U.S. deterrence will suffer and the ability of the U.S. military to operate globally will be at stake,” the report said. The report warned that American military readiness in recent decades “has severely decayed” as the result of budget cuts, misaligned funding priorities, a lack of incentives to protect the defense industrial base, and insufficient wargaming. The task force urged reversing course immediately to address one of the highest priorities of recently departed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who sought to rebuild military readiness in pursuit of more lethal forces. The 29-page report was made public in November and is the executive summary of a longer, classified study.
Interesting… For more, click on the text above.
A federal appeals court gave President Trump a win Friday in a case defending the administration’s policy limiting certain transgender people from serving in the military. The federal circuit court in D.C. ruled the lower court erred in issuing an injunction against the president’s policy, saying the plan wasn’t a “blanket transgender ban.” The court said former Security of Defense James Mattis’ plan had been developed with the help from military officials and medical professionals. It focused on limiting the service of transgender people who suffer from gender dysphoria and refuse to serve under their biological sex. “Although today’s decision is not a final determination on the merits, we must recognize that the Mattis Plan plausibly relies upon the ‘considered professional judgment’ of ‘appropriate military officials,’” the court ruled in an unsigned opinion. There are still other injunctions in place that had been issued by lower courts against the administration’s policy, so the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to step in. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter formally lifted the ban on transgendered citizens serving openly in the U.S. military last year. Under that policy initiated by Mr. Carter, transgendered individuals would have been able to enlist into the services by July. Those plans came to a halt when Mr. Trump announced plans to ban all transgender citizens from enlisting and separating all transgender troops currently in uniform. The announcement came as Mr. Mattis was in the midst of a six-month review of the Obama-era policy. Since the August announcement, federal courts have ruled the White House’s ban as unconstitutional while the transgender ban policy continues to face other challenges in the judiciary. Transgendered recruits were allowed to enlist beginning Jan. 1 after being subjected to a slew of physical, psychological and medical requirements before being considered for military service, pending the release of the military’s recommendations to the White House. The new standards for transgendered enlistment include certification that a recruit has been deemed “clinically stable” in their preferred sex for 18 months, and do not suffer from marked stress or impairment tied to their selected gender during certain scenarios tied to military service. The first transgender recruit officially signed up for the U.S. military last February, little over a month since the White House’s call for a ban on service for those citizens. The issue has become a cultural touchstone between proponents of the ban who argue the military has been repeatedly subjected to progressive social engineering efforts.
Which is exactly what has been happening ever since then-President Bill Clinton issued his “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the mid-’90s. I was in the military then, and vividly remember the s_it storm that started…and it went downhill from there, especially under Obama. What so many liberal Dems (who have never served in the military), and their equally ignorant accomplices in the dominantly liberal mainstream media down want to accept is…that nobody has a right to serve in the military. There is no constitutional right to serve. It’s a privilege. Secondly.. The military discriminates all the time, and has been doing so for generations. If you’re too tall, you can’t fly fighter jets. If you’re too fat, you can’t join. If you’re disabled and/or in a wheelchair, you can’t join. And, on and on.. The mission of the U.S. military is to WIN wars. Period! Anything that undermines that mission, including all of the politically correct social engineering bs imposed on it by Democrat presidents and lawmakers, puts our troops’ lives in jeopardy, and undermines our ability to WIN.
The US Air Force conducted two bomber flights this week into areas considered sensitive by the Chinese military, missions that have come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. Earlier this week, US B-52 bombers flew from Guam and transited through the South China Sea, an area where the Chinese government has built islands and established military facilities on disputed features. “That just goes on, if it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday when asked about the bomber flight. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it,” Mattis added. On Tuesday, US B-52s also “participated in a regularly scheduled, combined operation in the vicinity of the East China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told CNN. A US defense official told CNN that the bombers were escorted by Japanese fighter jets and flew in proximity to the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands which China lays claim to. The bombers also flew into the Chinese military’s unilaterally declared Air Defense Identification Zone which extends over the area. The two missions comes amid heightened tensions over a series of issues in the last week. Earlier on Wednesday, President Donald Trump accused China of attempting to interfere in the 2018 US elections and the countries are involved in a high profile trade dispute. In the last week, the Chinese government denied a US Navy warship permission to visit Hong Kong, the US sanctioned a Chinese defense entity over its purchase of Russian-made weapons, the State Department approved a military equipment sale to Taiwan and a high-ranking Chinese naval officer canceled a meeting with his American counterpart. “We’re sorting out obviously a period with some tension there, trade tension and all, so we’ll get to the bottom of it but I don’t think that we’re seeing a fundamental shift in anything, we’re just going through one of those periodic points where we got to learn to manage our differences,” Mattis said when asked about the tensions.
Well said, Sec. Mattis. That’s exactly right. Nothing really newsworthy about this military flight. It’s just in the context of the other areas where we’re having some differences with China, that it’s somewhat relevant.