military

US Army by the numbers

The U.S. Army will celebrate its 243rd birthday on June 14, the same day as Flag Day. Here are some important figures and dates for the military branch. 1775: The year the Second Continental Congress established a Continental Army. “George Washington was unanimously elected Commander-In-Chief of the fledgling Army, and he would lead the colonies to victory and independence,” the Army says online. 468,579: The total number of “active duty military personnel” in the Army, according to the Defense Manpower Defense Center (DMDC). Of these, there are ten generals, 50 lieutenant generals, 121 major generals, and 133 brigadier generals. 336,619: The size of the Army National Guard. 190,350: The number of people in the Army Reserve. 69,872: The amount of active duty women (including commissioned officers, enlisted ranks and cadets) in the Army. June 14, 1956: The date the U.S. Army flag “was dedicated and unfurled to the general public,” the Army says on its website. November 11, 1956: The date “The Army Goes Rolling Along” was made the Army’s official song. 7: The number of core Army values. They are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. 1: The Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper.

Happy Birthday, and a big Army HOOAH to all my brothers and sisters who currently serve, and have served in any of the Army components (i.e. active, Guard, and Reserve)!!  I was honored to have served in all three components.   🙂

 

USS Pueblo still held hostage by North Korea as Trump, Kim meet

The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy, sits in Boston, revered by sailors and history buffs. The second-oldest ship, the USS Pueblo, floats at a river dock in Pyongyang, still a hostage more than 50 years after North Korea seized it in a January 1968 raid in the frigid waters of the East Sea off the Hermit Kingdom’s northeastern coast. Calls from the surviving crew to bring the ship back have amounted to naught. The Colorado legislature, protective of the ship named after one of its cities, also weighs in every year with a resolution calling for the ship’s return. After one version passed 10 years ago, a state lawmaker got a postcard, featuring a photo of a North Korean soldier smashing his rifle butt against the head of a Western-looking man in a blue uniform. The card had a North Korean postmark and on it, in flawless English, the writer urged the politician to “come and take it, you dirty American.” That’s actually the polite version of what was written, according to Republican state Sen. Bob Gardner from Colorado Springs, one of the sponsors of the “bring home the Pueblo” resolution this year. Mr. Gardner still marvels at the perfect, idiomatic English written on the unsigned card. “But it proved that someone in Korea was watching our resolution even if no one in America does,” Mr. Gardner said. As President Trump meets with in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, the possession of the USS Pueblo remains a sticking point between the two nations. The Pentagon declined to comment on any efforts to get the Pueblo back, and referred all questions to the White House. The White House, in turn, did not respond. Yet it wouldn’t be completely out of left field for Mr. Trump to mention the Navy ship, given the anniversary of its seizing in what the U.S. still insists was open ocean but North Korea says were its own territorial waters. “This year marks the 50th anniversary of North Korea’s seizure of the USS Pueblo and I like many others in our state want to see the ship returned home,” Republican Rep. Scott Tipton wrote President Trump last month. “The historic summit that is to be held… presents a rare opportunity to directly make this request.” The Pueblo was a spy ship, assigned to monitor North Korean communications and laden with top secret intelligence reports and machinery. The North Koreans detected it and sent a flotilla to surround it, assisted by MiG fighters overhead. They demanded surrender, and sent a boarding party which raked the bridge and decks with gunfire, wounding the captain and several others, and killing one crew member, Duane Hodges. Capt. Lloyd Bucher ordered his crew to smash the intelligence equipment and burn or shred the documents. There was so much that they even began to dump documents overboard, according to the USS Pueblo Veterans Association. The U.S. insists the Pueblo was in international waters at the time. North Korea says it was inside the country’s boundaries, and seized the ship and crew, who were held and tortured for 335 days. The Cold War crisis was finally resolved in vintage Hollywood fashion two days before Christmas 1968 when the gaunt prisoners walked, one by one, across the Bridge of No Return in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. They were finally released after the U.S. signed an apology of sorts – then quickly rescinded it once all the American personnel were safely returned. A National Security Agency analysis, declassified in 2012, described the scope of the intelligence disaster, saying North Korea was able to figure out which codes the U.S. had broken, which telecommunications systems the U.S. was able to monitor, and who in the North Korean hierarchy was of interest to the U.S. The Pueblo’s capture was such a coup for North Korea that to this day the ship is a tourist attraction in Pyongyang, currently floating in a berth along the Botong River, and it is replete with the kind of totalitarian English the postcard writer eschewed. “The myth of the mightiness of the U.S. was shattered again by the heroic Korean people,” reads some of the propaganda, which also calls the Pueblo “a witness of history and trophy” of the “century after century the crimes of aggression committed by the U.S. imperialists against the Korean people [sic].”

Hopefully, President Trump WILL raise the issue of returning the USS Pueblo with Kim Jong Ding Dong, when he meets him only hours from now.  For more, click on the text above.

U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State surge 300 percent

American warplanes are working overtime against Islamic State targets in Syria, with the number of combat sorties in May against the terror group surging over 300 percent compared to recent months, says new airstrike figures released by command officials Friday. U.S. and coalition combat aircraft flew 225 airstrikes last month, hitting 280 known Islamic State or ISIS redoubts in Syria, located mostly in the volatile Euphrates River Valley, said American commanders with the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission Operation Inherent Resolve. During a single six-day period in May, American and allied fighter jets executed 41 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, resulting in 49 enemy targets hit, coalition officials said in a statement. “This demonstrates a 304 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March and a 123 percent increase over the 183 strikes recorded in April,” according to Friday’s statement. The majority of the airstrikes were carried out in support of Operation Roundup, the ground campaign led by the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF — the American-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab paramilitaries — to eliminate remaining pockets of ISIS resistance in the Euphrates River Valley. “Operation Roundup will continue to build momentum against Daesh remnants remaining in the Iraq-Syria border region and the [Euphrates River Valley],” command officials said in the statement, using the derogatory Arabic term for ISIS. “The Coalition remains committed to the lasting defeat of Daesh here, increasing peace and stability in the region and protecting all our homelands from the Daesh threat,” coalition officials added. Kicking off in early May, the operation is the first major anti-ISIS operation by the SDF and the American-led coalition since the fall of Raqqa — the terror group’s de facto Syrian capital and the heart of its so-called caliphate — in 2017. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters aboard the U.S.S Harry S. Truman carrier strike group began bombarding Islamic State positions in May, linking up with the Navy’s Sixth Fleet — which is responsible for U.S. maritime operations in Europe and North Africa — late last April, as part of the Pentagon’s seemingly final push to eradicate ISIS from its Syrian enclaves. On Thursday, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said American advisers on the ground in Syria and their higher ups at the Pentagon were seeing good progress from the SDF. “We’re making progress, and, in concert with our SDF partners, I think that we’re beginning to clear out the final pockets of ISIS,” he told reporters during a Defense Department briefing. “We want to leave behind security elements that are going to be able to maintain [security] at the local level,” the three-star general said. “That’s sort of a long-term aim we have, as we push down the Euphrates River Valley, and that progress is continuing.”

‘Supersonic Tic Tac’ UFO stalked US aircraft carrier for days, Pentagon report reveals

A supersonic UFO shaped like a Tic Tac stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier for days before vanishing into thin air, according to a bombshell Pentagon report. The object, which could reportedly hover in midair and make itself invisible, bamboozled U.S. Navy fighter pilots during a training exercise in the Pacific Ocean. The leaked report, obtained by Las Vegas’ KLAS tv station, tells how the USS Princeton, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, had multiple radar contacts with what it dubbed a Anomalous Aerial Vehicle (AAV). In November 2004, the ship’s ultra-advanced AN/SPY-1 multifunctional phased-array radar caught the object hovering at 60,000 feet before nosediving to the ocean surface in a matter of seconds. It then sped off so rapidly that crew members thought it was a ballistic missile. It appeared again two days later, and a pair of high-tech F-18 jets were scrambled to intercept it, but pilots reported that the object had turned itself invisible. It could still be detected as it was triggering a a circular disturbance in the water “about 50 to 100 meters in diameter.” The craft was described as “solid white, smooth, with no edges… uniformly colored with no nacelles, pylons or wings”, and looked like “an elongated egg or Tic Tac,” according to one of the pilots. Days later, a second jet spotted the same disturbance — and this time saw the UFO hovering above it “like a Harrier [jump jet]”. When the two pilots returned to the ship, crewmates put on tin-foil hats to greet them and asked eager questions about their “UFO flight.” The report adds that the USS Louisville nuclear attack submarine was operating in the area but reported no disturbance. An E-2C Hawkeye surveillance plane managed to detect the object, but was unable to lock on, suggesting that it was able to dodge radar. It adds that the craft matches “no known aircraft or air vehicle currently in the inventory of the United States or any foreign nation.”

To see the video of this thing, click on the text above…and you be the judge.    🙂

North Korea Walks Out of Talks with South over Joint Drills with U.S.

North Korean state media reported on Wednesday local time that the nation’s senior diplomats would cancel scheduled high-level talks with South Korean counterparts, reportedly due to military drills Seoul had planned to execute with the United States. Pyongyang deployed high-level officials to both Seoul and Beijing this week. Ri Son-kwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, was scheduled to meet with South Korean officials on Tuesday. Another group of unnamed senior officials reportedly landed in Beijing on Monday to continue discussions in anticipation of a planned meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. On Wednesday local time (Tuesday afternoon in most of the United States), the South Korean outlet Yonhap reported that the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the government news outlet of the Kim regime, had published a report announcing that the inter-Korean talks would no longer occur. The report specifically cited the “Max Thunder” military drills being held jointly between South Korea and the United States as the reason for their backing out of the meeting. “This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea and targeting us, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” Yonhap quoted KCNA as saying. “The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.” Yonhap added that KCNA’s brief went on to call “into question whether next month’s summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump can go ahead as planned.” The meeting between Kim and Trump is expected to address “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” which Kim expressed a desire to see during his meeting with Moon on the border of their two countries. American officials have stated that they will not pursue regime change in North Korea and are open to giving financial incentives to the Kim regime to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program, which it uses to threaten nuclear strikes on South Korea, the United States, and Japan on a regular basis. A report using satellite images on the website 38 North Monday found that North Korea has made significant moves towards shutting down its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, the only such site in the country. Several buildings have been dismantled, and a new platform, perhaps to accommodate journalists, has been assembled at the site. KCNA announced Saturday it will invite international journalists to watch the shutdown of the site; skeptics believe the site is inoperable and a symbolic “shutdown” would cost Pyongyang little. Adding to confusion on Tuesday was the publication of a report by South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo revealing that North Korea has maintained a secret uranium enrichment facility independent of the supplies found at Punggye-ri. Joongang Ilbo reports that American intelligence sources are aware of the site and will demand that its contents be part of any deal to denuclearize the country, not simply the supplies currently known to exist. “Max Thunder” is the name given to two-week-long air drills by both militaries, which is typically a drill practiced as part of the larger Foal Eagle joint exercise but was removed from the schedule reportedly as a response to Kim Jong-un’s being open to meeting with both Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Both militaries openly stated they will hold this exercise in May, as they do every year. Yonhap reported on March 21 that the “Max Thunder drill will be held for two weeks from May 11, involving more than 100 Air Force jets of the allies,” leaving significant time between then and the Panmunjom summit with Moon Jae-in for Kim Jong-un to raise objections over these exercises. Yet this is the first major step North Korea has made to object to the exercises. Update: State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters during her regular press briefing on Tuesday that the KCNA report did not correspond to any private messages American officials have received: “We have not heard anything from that government or the government of South Korea to indicate that we would not continue conducting these exercises or that we would not continue planning for our meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un next month.”

We believe this is just posturing on the part of North Korea..  But, we’ll continue to monitor this developing story…

UFO mysteries unraveled: How the ‘real-life X-Files’ emerged from a top secret UK project

A former official at the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence has shed new light on the circumstances surrounding a secret government UFO study that was conducted during the 1990s. In 1996, the MoD commissioned a defense contractor to produce a comprehensive report on U.K. UFO sightings. The report was compiled at a time of huge public interest in UFOs fueled by the wildly popular “X-Files” TV series and 1997’s 50th anniversary of the purported UFO incident in Roswell, New Mexico. Careful to avoid using the term UFO, the report described sightings as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). Code-named Project Condign, the report analyzed a database of sightings between 1987 and 1997 and was delivered to officials in 2000. The study, entitled ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) in the UK Air Defence Region,’ found that that sightings could be explained by a variety of known phenomena, both man-made and natural. The incidence of relatively rare natural phenomena was also noted. “No evidence exists to associate the phenomena with any particular nation,” it said. Project Condign has been compared to Project Blue Book, a U.S. Air Force effort to investigate UFOs that closed in 1969. Nick Pope, a former MoD UFO investigator who is now an author and journalist, told Fox News that he was involved in setting up the study with his counterpart in the Ministry’s Defence Intelligence Staff. “The reason for the study was that while we’d been investigating UFO sightings on a case-by-case basis for decades, we’d done very little trend analysis,” he explained, via an emailed statement. “Project Condign was supposed to rectify this and be a proper intelligence assessment that would look for patterns in data we already had.” “We were trying to draw everything together and say in relation to UFOs: ‘OK, what’s our best assessment of what we’re dealing with, what are the threats, and what are the opportunities?’,” he added. Initial discussions about the study started in 1993, according to Pope, who was no longer involved in the Ministry’s UFO investigations by the time work on the report itself started. Pope, who left the MoD in 2006, has been quoted extensively in the media as a result of his links to what remains a highly controversial topic. His involvement in MoD UFO investigations lasted from 1991 to 1994, according to his website. “The study was highly classified and extremely sensitive, not least because the MoD consistently told parliament, the media and the public that UFOs were of limited interest and ‘no defense significance’,” Pope said. “Our concern was that if the existence of the study became known, it would have exposed an internal position on the phenomenon that was different from our public position.” The report only entered the public domain in 2006 following a Freedom of Information request from academic Dr. David Clarke. The identity of the report’s author has not been revealed. A new set of previously-unseen documents recently obtained by Clarke, a principal research fellow at the U.K’s Sheffield Hallam University, have thrust Project Condign into the spotlight once again. The records show how over-worked MoD officials were keen to reduce their commitment to investigating reports of UFO sightings. With its findings, Project Condign duly laid the foundations for the MoD to start scaling back its UFO-related operations. The Ministry’s DI55 department, which had secretly collected data on potential UFO sightings since 1967, closed at the end of 2000. The MoD’s UFO Desk closed in 2009. Pope found the final Project Condign report disappointing. “In places it looked like a conclusion-led study where data had been used to support a personal opinion,” he said, but acknowledged the challenges involved in compiling such a confidential report. “The problem with an intelligence study like Project Condign is that it’s so secret and sensitive that those involved don’t reach out to subject matter experts outside the intelligence community,” he explained, adding that consultation with the U.K.’s Met Office weather service, other scientists and academics would have been helpful. The report also suggested that atmospheric plasma may account for some UFO sightings, which Pope sees as confusing. “In speculating about exotic atmospheric plasma phenomena the report’s author had made the classic mistake of trying to explain one mystery in terms of another,” he said. The former MoD employee was also surprised by the discussion of “novel military applications” that could be supported by greater understanding of the UFO phenomenon. “This was essentially a reference to weaponization, including the construction of a directed energy weapon,” he said.

Israel ready to bomb Iran if necessary: Report

Israeli defense officials have told their American and Russian counterparts that if Iranian-backed forces attack Israel from inside Syria, Jerusalem will not hold back from retaliating with direct strikes against Tehran or other targets in Iran. The officials delivered the message ahead of a national security statement expected Monday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Iranian threats to hit Israel after recent strikes on Tehran-backed assets in Syria, according to a report by Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper. The developments come amid growing concern in Washington that Israel and Iran are on the verge of a clash that could spill dangerously beyond Syria, where there were reports Monday that missile strikes had killed more than two-dozen mostly Iranian forces supporting the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. While no outside power claimed responsibility for the strikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they were likely carried out by Israel. “Given the nature of the target, it is likely to have been an Israeli strike,” Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based monitoring organization, told Agence France-Presse. But the news agency reported that Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told a radio broadcast Monday that he was “not aware” of the missile strikes. However, Mr. Katz also asserted that “all the violence and instability in Syria is the result of Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence there. Israel will not allow the opening of a northern front in Syria.” Mr. Netanyahu, meanwhile, is expected to make a statement after an emergency security cabinet meeting in Israel on Monday. Haaretz cited unnamed officials as saying Israel, which enjoys robust support from Washington, is prepared to attack Iran broadly, both on Iranian soil, but also in Syria. The main target, the paper reported, would be bases where Iranian forces have been located since the Syrian civil war began — bases that serve as conduits to transfer weapons and gear up for further Iranian establishment in Syria. Israel has been sporadically bombing Hezbollah positions in Syria for the past three years. But the tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran reached new heights in February after what Israeli officials claimed was an Iranian armed stealth drone was intercepted and downed over Israel. An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was in turn shot down by anti-aircraft fire from inside Syria during an apparent retaliatory airstrike claimed by Iranian sources. Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement — Tehran’s most potent military proxy in the region — are seen to be emboldened by their success in working with Russian forces during recent years to uphold the Assad government in Syria while Washington has backed opposition forces against it. At the same time, Israel is seen to be growing more and more wary of being attacked by missiles not just from Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon but also from inside Syria.

This story is developing…