Marines: No weapons surrendered to Houthis during #Yemen evacuation UPDATE: Retired Marines angry

February 12, 2015

Marine Corp emblem

“News” was flashing around the Internet yesterday that the Marines had surrendered their weapons to the Iranian-allied Houthis rebels who have seized control of Yemen, some saying it was on the orders of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, which would have been a humiliation for them and the United States.

The Corps is denying that happened:

“The Marine Security Force left the American embassy in Yemen for the movement to the airfield as part of the “ordered departure” with only personal weapons. All crew served weapons were destroyed at the embassy prior to movement. None of them were ‘handed over’ in any way to anyone. The destruction of weapons at the embassy and the airport was carried out in accordance with an approved destruction plan.

“Upon arrival at the airfield, all personal weapons were rendered inoperable in accordance with advance planning. Specifically, each bolt was removed from its weapons body and rendered inoperable by smashing with sledgehammers. The weapons bodies, minus the bolts, were then separately smashed with sledgehammers. All of these destroyed components were left at the airport — and components were scattered; no usable weapon was taken from any Marine at Sana’a airport.”

The weapons were destroyed because the Marines were leaving on a commercial flight.

UPDATE: Similar to what a commenter said below, retired Marines are finding it unbelievable, maddening even, that the Marines in Yemen were forced to destroy their personal weapons:

Some retired Marines took to social media and websites to express frustration with what they described as a “blatant blunder” of evacuation procedures.

“Whether a commercial flight or military flight, either way it does not add up,” said Yinon Weiss, a former U.S. Marine and the CEO of RallyPoint, a military community website. “I cannot think of any other time in recent U.S. history that any service member had to destroy their own personal weapons.”

To Mr. Weiss, the peculiar act indicates that the Marines were unwitting participants in “a hasty evacuation” and “under duress.”

“The fact that this happened indicates to me that something went terribly wrong,” he said.

Other former Marines took to his web site to complain.

“I guarantee every single one of those Marines was pissed off and swearing with every swing of those hammers,” one commenter said. “Chartered civilian airline or not, we traveled with weapons without issue.”


And…. North Korea shoots another general

February 5, 2015
"I've got some bad news, boss..."

“Who said I was wrong?”

“Pour encourager les autres,” (1) I’m sure:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un executed an army general last month in his latest purge of senior officials.

General Pyon In Son, one-time head of operations in the Korean People’s Army, was killed for expressing an opinion that differed to that of to MrKim’s, a South Korean official told reporters in Seoul on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official didn’t say what they disagreed on.

Mr Kim still mistrusts the military, the official said, adding that senior officers are growing increasingly uneasy. The “Supreme Leader” also removed Ma Won Chun, a National Defence Commission official overseeing construction design, from office in November for alleged corruption and a failure to follow orders.

Mr Kim has relied on purges to consolidate his grip on power since he took over North Korea, a country with a nuclear arms program and 1.2 million troops in 2011. After killing his uncle and one-time deputy Jang Song-thaek in 2013, he executed about 50 officials last year on charges ranging from graft to watching South Korean soap operas.

“The purge of Pyon sends a message that helps to discipline the military,” said Kim Yong Hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “The execution is a symbol that will help tighten loyalty.”

Well, that’s one way to put it, I suppose, though I’m not sure it’s their loyalty that “tightens” at the possible consequences of saying something Psycho III Kim Jong Un doesn’t like.

This kind of capricious tyranny often contains the seeds of the tyrant’s downfall: not only might his subordinates get rid of him to save themselves (as the Romans did with Caligula and Domitian, among others), but no is going to give this guy the bad-but-necessary information every ruler needs in order to make good decisions. Instead it’s “Yes, Dear Leader” and taking notes on his every word, while hoping he doesn’t decide you annoy him. In a regime dependent on one (pudgy, alcoholic) man, that’s a recipe for disaster. And that includes his neighbors, should a nuclear-armed Lil Kim decide that now is a good time to settle the Korean War.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder how many high-ranking generals Kim can kill before one of them decides to shoot first.

Footnote:
(1) Admiral Byng could not be reached for comment.


Confirmed: former French soldiers defecting to ISIS

January 23, 2015

France flag

From Canada’s National Post:

Several French former soldiers have joined the ranks of jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq, the country’s government confirmed on Wednesday, as it outlined a series of new anti-terrorism measures following the Islamist attacks in Paris.

Most of the ex-soldiers, reportedly numbering around 10 and including former paratroopers and French foreign legionnaires, are said to be fighting on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Most worrying is the reported presence of an ex-member of France’s elite First Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, considered one of Europe’s most experienced special forces units and which shares the “Who Dares Wins” motto of the SAS.

The unnamed individual, of North African origin, had received commando training in combat, shooting and survival techniques. He served for five years before joining a private security company for which he worked in the Arabian peninsula, where he was radicalised before heading for Syria, according to L’Opinion, a news website.

The danger is not just the fighters being trained for combat in the Middle East, though that’s bad enough. But consider that these defecting soldiers were born and raised –or immigrated to and grew up– “being French.” They understand French culture: how to behave, how to fit in, the right lingo, the perfect accent. With their military training, they can move around France and Europe without standing out, which makes them perfect for terrorist operations there in ways no Egyptian-born jihadi could ever equal.

And as I asked before, how many sympathizers do they have who are still in French ranks? It’s no wonder Paris is planning to spend a lot more on counterintelligence to monitor… their own troops.

They’ve got a real problem on their hands.


Comforting: French soldiers joining ISIS

January 22, 2015

France flag

The link from Breitbart to the original article is broken at the moment, but the idea isn’t unimaginable, not in a world in which a US Army officer can describe himself as a “soldier of Allah” and then murder over a dozen of his fellow soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” And Major Hasan was a psychiatrist acting alone; these former French soldiers represent a whole new level of threat:

A dozen former French soldiers have joined up with jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, a French official claimed this week, raising concerns about radicalisation of soldiers within the French Armed Forces.

A source within the country’s ministry of defence confirmed the news to AFP news agency after a French radio station, RFI, reported news of the soldiers-turned-jihadis, the Local reports.

“We estimate at around a dozen the number of former troops who have joined these networks,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous, adding that their concern “is not former soldiers…It’s preventing the phenomenon of radicalization with our forces.”

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian refused to comment directly on the issue, instead telling reporters at a press conference that cases of former soldiers being tempted by jihadism are “extremely rare.”

Rare (we hope), but it only takes a few to cause a disaster. The article goes on to illustrate some of the risks of professionally trained Western soldiers “going jihadi:”

News which will concern French and other European country’s interior security forces is the news that some of the men, who are mostly in their twenties are “explosives experts” opening up the possibility of the front line being moved from Syria to Europe’s doorstep, with bombs being added to the arsenal of techniques used by Islamic radicals.

L’Opinion newspaper reports that one soldier had served in the French 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment whose speciality is going behind enemy lines for sabotage or intelligence gathering.

The paper reports that after five years as a paratrooper the soldier joined a private security firm protecting oil fields in the Arabian peninsular, a lucrative option for former soldiers with experience and training.

Emphases added. The jackals who attacked Charlie Hebdo had training in Yemen, but these guys bring specialist skills sure to be in high demand with ISIS or al Qaeda… or other groups.

I’m not sure what can be done about this — we can kill these guys, but what about the loyalty of other Muslim recruits or those who convert after enlisting? Are there “soldiers of Allah” currently within French ranks in sensitive posts?

Whatever the answer, this is a worrisome development.


When science fiction becomes reality: US Navy deploys laser weapon

December 10, 2014
"Boom"

“Boom”

Say it after me, kids: “We have all the best toys!

A new laser gun mounted on the USS Ponce has been operational for months in the Persian Gulf, and it has exceeded expectations as far as its range and durability, senior Navy officers said Wednesday.

The Navy calls it the LaWS, short for laser weapon system. It was installed on the Ponce over the summer, and deployed this fall. Video released by the service on Wednesday shows it taking out an incoming speedboat in a test at a long, undisclosed range with directed energy. No laser beam can be seen, but the boat bursts into flames.

“It’s almost like a Hubble telescope at sea,” said Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, the Navy’s chief of naval research. “Literally, we’re able to get that kind of power and magnification.”

Video is available at the WaPo article. There’s no special-effect colored beam flashing across the seas, but the real is very real — the target bursts into flames.

The model on the Ponce is “only” 30 kilowatts strong, but the Navy has plans for models of up to 150 kilowatts. And it saves money on ammunition, each “shot” being far cheaper than a shell for a main gun. With work also underway on a shipboard railgun, the US Navy might give even Cthulhu pause.

Nah.

The impetus for developing this weapon was the perceived threat to our ships, especially our carriers, from explosives-laden Iranian speedboats on suicide missions: imagine dozens of small craft, each intent on reenacting the attack on the USS Cole. In the eternal dance between offense and defense, the new threat, which illiterate commenters thought overwhelming, is now being thwarted with new technology and tactics.

As, eventually these early laser will be countered. Max Boot wrote a great book on this very process.

Still… Lasers on warships! How cool is that?

(And how soon before the Chinese steal it?)

via Gabriel Malor

 

 


Good News! Iraqi Army has four “ghost divisions”

November 30, 2014
"Even the monkey is embarrassed"

“Even the monkey is embarrassed”

That is, they have 50,000 soldiers on the books who don’t exist. But what do you want to bet those “troops'” pay came from us? No wonder ISIS is winning.

AFP, via Jihad Watch:

Iraq’s prime minister Haidar al-Abadi has promised to crackdown on corruption after an investigation uncovered the existence of 50,000 “ghost soldiers”.

“The prime minister revealed the existence of 50,000 fictitious names” in the military, Mr Abadi’s office said in a statement.

The 50,000 jobs were equivalent to almost four full army divisions.

“Over the past few weeks, the PM has been cracking down to expose the ghost soldiers and get to the root of the problem,” Mr Abadi’s spokesman Rafid Jaboori said.

He said the investigation started with a thorough headcount during the latest salary payment process.

Soldiers confirmed that salaries were paid only recently after a two-month delay about which they were given no explanation.

“There are two kinds of fadhaiyin,” one experienced officer in the security forces said, using a word which, literally translated, means “space men”, and refers to the fictitious soldiers crowding the payroll.

“The first kind: each officer is allowed, for example, five guards. He’ll keep two, send three home and pocket their salary or an agreed percentage,” he said.

“Then the second and bigger group is at the brigade level. A brigade commander usually has 30, 40 or more soldiers who stay at home or don’t exist,” the officer said.

Given the Iraqi Army’s performance against ISIS, these were probably their elite troops, at that. smiley d'oh!


Naval officer punished for speaking honestly about China?

November 13, 2014
"A short, sharp war?"

“A short, sharp war?”

(Photo credit: AP)

This seems more like a chain-of-command discipline or “speaking out of turn” issue (in other words, don’t publicly contradict your bosses), but it is worrisome to think that Captain James Fannell may have been punished for holding an unpopular view of the threat from China:

A senior Navy intelligence leader whose provocative comments this year about Chinese bellicosity stirred an international controversy has been shelved in the wake of an investigation into his conduct, Navy Times has learned.

Capt. James Fanell, the director of intelligence and information operations at U.S. Pacific Fleet, has been removed from that position by PACFLT boss Adm. Harry Harris and reassigned within the command, Navy officials confirmed.

What did Captain Fannell say that landed him in hot water? Speaking at a naval conference earlier this year, he voiced his opinion that China was preparing for “a short, sharp war with Japan,” one that  would inevitably involve us:

“[We believe] the [People’s Liberation Army] has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected [as] a seizure of the Senkakus or even southern Ryukyu [islands],” Fanell was quoted as saying.

Fanell has also stated that China is at the center of virtually every maritime territorial dispute in the Asia-Pacific and that the Chinese were engaging in a blatant land-grab of islands that would enhance their exclusive economic rights to fishing and natural resources.

“I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent,” he said, adding that when Beijing described its activities as the “protection of maritime rights,” this was really “a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbors,” the Financial Times reported.

Fanell’s views have supporters inside naval intelligence, and he has become a high-profile spokesman for a more alarmist view of the rise of China than those espoused by Navy senior leadership, an intelligence source who spoke to Navy Times said. Fanell’s articles on China have been published by Hoover Digest, Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly and the U. S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings.

Trouble is, this time his remarks placed senior officers on the spot with China, at a time when the US Navy is trying to build better relations with its Chinese counterparts, part of the Obama administration’s Asia policy. Army Chief of Staff General Odierno, for example, was peppered with questions from journalists in China and had to disavow Fannell’s remarks. I’m sure he wasn’t happy. One hopes this is a case of an officer being reprimanded for a lack of command discipline, rather than for speaking uncomfortable but honest opinions his superiors don’t wish to hear.

That doesn’t mean he was wrong, however. Even if Captain Fannell overstates Chinese intentions, the thrust of their rearmament, including their naval buildup, is clear: they want to displace the United States as the preeminent power in the Western Pacific and bring the nations to its east and south, including its old foe Japan, into Beijing’s sphere of influence. Whether this involves a shooting war to seize the Senkakus and even the southern Ryukyus, or simply aggressive diplomacy meant to take advantage of a declining America, the point is that China is a powerful strategic competitor to the United States: the risk of conflict is real and we cannot afford to blind ourselves to it in pursuit of “building bridges.”

Especially when the other side may have an interest in blowing them up, someday.

via The Daily Caller


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