Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Picture Of The Day

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a bouquet to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during their meeting in Sochi in May 2018. © Sputnik / Mikhael Klimentyev

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Power Blooming: What Flowers Global Leaders Prefer (Sputnik).

Army Lieutenant General Scott Miller Set To Be Picked To Lead The Afghan War

Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, then-commanding general of Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence, talks with soldiers before one of the Airborne School jumps in 2015. Patrick A. Albright/U.S. Army

Reuters: Elite U.S. special operations commander picked to lead Afghan war

WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - A three-star general who leads the Joint Special Operations Command overseeing some of the most sensitive U.S. commando missions has been picked to lead the nearly 17-year-old Afghan war, five U.S. officials told Reuters.

Army Lieutenant General Scott Miller would replace Army General John “Mick” Nicholson, who after more than two years has become the longest-serving U.S. commander of international forces battling the Taliban insurgency.

Nicholson was expected serve through most if not all of the summer months that historically have brought some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan, two of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon declined to comment on Nicholson’s successor.

“We have no announcement on any changes,” said Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner.

One U.S. official familiar with Miller said his past service showed a focused on addressing global militant networks that fuel insurgencies, which could be valuable in the fight against Islamic State in Afghanistan.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Army Lieutenant General Scott Miller Is Set To Be Picked To Lead The Afghan War

Joint special operations leader to be US commander in Afghanistan -- Army Times/AP
New US Commander in Afghanistan Emerges from Elite Units -- WSJ
Pentagon to name new US commander for Afghanistan: report -- The Hill
Pentagon set to nominate commando to head forces in Afghanistan -- AFP
Trump's Pick to Oversee Afghanistan Could Signal a New Approach -- Time

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

U.S. Secretary Of State Pompeo: Iran Carrying Out 'Assassination Operations' In Europe

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the Trump administration's Iran policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

The Guardian: Mike Pompeo claims Iran carrying out 'assassination operations' in Europe

The statement bewildered security experts and Iranian exiles, who say they are not aware of any evidence for the allegation.

Mike Pompeo’s claim that the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is carrying out “assassination operations in the heart of Europe” has bewildered security experts and Iranian exiles, who say they are not aware of any evidence for the allegation.

The new US secretary of state referred to the alleged assassinations in his first major speech on Monday, but devoted just a single line to it amid a litany of criticisms of Iranian behaviour, giving no further details.

“Today, the Iranian Quds Force conducts covert assassination operations in the heart of Europe,” Pompeo said, referring to the external operations arm of the Islamic revolutionary guards corps (IRGC).

Read more ....

Update #1: Mike Pompeo Says Iran Is Carrying Out “Assassination Operations” in Europe. What Is He Talking About? (Joshua Keating, Slate)
Update #2: Pompeo Says Iran Conducts Assassinations in Europe, Bewilders Experts, Exiles (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: The State Department has not responded to inquiries from reporters demanding a clarification. So did Secretary Pompeo reveal something that he learned when he was CIA Director and it is classified .... or was he referring to stories like this .... 'Iranian spies' targeted in German police searches (BBC) .... it looks like we are not going to find out.

Iran Has Rejected A Russian Call For Their Soldiers To Leave Syria

Photos released by Iranian Tasnim News agency shows Iran's Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, among Iranian forces in Syria's Aleppo, undated.

Newsweek: Iran Goes Against Russia, Says It's Staying in Syria as U.S. Military Threatens 'New Actions'

Iran has rejected its ally Russia's call for all foreign troops to leave Syria, saying it is the U.S. and Turkey who are deployed there illegally and should withdraw their forces.

In the wake of a 2011 uprising backed by the West, Turkey and Gulf Arab states, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appealed to Russia and Iran to support his embattled armed forces against rebels and jihadi groups, which have mostly been defeated. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Assad on his victories during a meeting Friday in Sochi and said that all foreign forces should eventually leave Syria, a remark that has opened a rare public rift between Moscow and Tehran.

"No one can force Iran to do anything, Iran is an independent country that determines its own policies," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told reporters at a daily press conference Monday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Iran is telling the Russians that the Syrians told them to stay .... Iran says to keep forces in Syria upon Assad’s request (Anadolu Agency).

More News On Iran Rejecting Russian Demands For Their Soldiers To Leave Syria

Iran Rejects Russian Demand To Withdraw Troops From Syria -- Radio Farda
Tehran rejects Russian call for Iranian forces to eventually leave Syria -- Times of Israel
Iranian FM spokesman says their forces will not leave Syria -- Al Arabiya/AP
Iran: No one can force us out of Syria -- Middle East Monitor
Disagreements begin to emerge between Moscow, Tehran regarding Syria -- Jerusalem Post
Did Iran Just Disown Russia’s Peace Process or Did Iran Sign Up For It? In Either Case Iran Must “Look East” Rather Than to The Arab World -- Adam Garrie, Eurasia Future

The Pentagon Is Running Out Of Bombs, Having Trouble Ordering More, And Is Not Able To Develop New Systems

Key suppliers for weapons such as the AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile are fleeing the defense-industrial base, which could have an impact on the ability of America to wage war in the future. (R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force)

Defense News: The US is running out of bombs — and it may soon struggle to make more

WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon plans to invest more than $20 billion in munitions in its next budget. But whether the industrial base will be there to support such massive buys in the future is up in the air — at a time when America is expanding munitions at increasingly intense rates.

The annual Industrial Capabilities report, put out by the Pentagon’s Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, has concluded that the industrial base of the munitions sector is particularly strained, something the report blames on the start-and-stop nature of munitions procurement over the last 20 years, as well as the lack of new designs being internally developed.

Some suppliers have dropped out entirely, leaving no option for replacing vital materials. Other key suppliers are foreign-owned, with no indigenous capability to produce vital parts and materials ― setting up the risk that a conflict with China could rely on Chinese-made parts.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: No planning. Start and stop production over the years. Who would want to invest monies in such a chaotic and uncertain environment.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 22, 2018

Navy personnel of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy take part in a military display in the South China Sea April 12, 2018. Picture taken April 12, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

Richard Javad Heydarian, Asia Times: A war footing emerges in the South China Sea

China's recent deployment of nuclear-capable bombers, missiles and jamming devices has drastically shifted the contested area's strategic calculus

China’s deployment of H-6k bombers to disputed land features in the South China Sea has provoked an uproar across the region and beyond while raising considerably the potential for armed conflict.

China’s bombers are capable of conducting nuclear strikes and have an operational range of more than 1,000 nautical miles. This places practically all other claimant states in the contested maritime area within their crosshairs.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 22, 2018

Is Xi Jinping the scriptwriter of the Trump-Kim summit? -- Nikkei Asian Review

First stop, Russia: why China’s new foreign policy supremo Wang Qishan is looking to Moscow -- Shi Jiangtao, SCMP

Pyongyang-Washington summit: Who is bluffing who? -- Robert McCoy, Asia Times

We Need to Test Our Assumptions About North Korea -- Ken Gause, National Interest

The Trump–Kim Jong Un Summit: Should It Be Postponed? -- Robert E. Kelley, National Interest

Philippines' lacklustre fight in the South China Sea -- JC Gotinga, Al Jazeera

Malaysians agog as tables turn on Najib -- Nile Bowie, Asia Times

Iran seen to hang on to nuclear deal amid US sanctions, threats -- Ted Regencia, Al Jazeera

Could America's hardline policies towards Iran be a dilemma for Arab countries? -- Wesley Dockery, DW

An Iran-U.S. Summit? -- Fabio Rafael Fiallo, RCW

Should Afghan Government Wait for Taliban Response? -- Mohammad Habibzada, VOA

Iran's Support for the Taliban Brings It to a Crossroads With Afghanistan -- The Diplomat

The Ukraine Model: The last time a country agreed to give up its nukes, it didn’t turn out well. -- Mary Mycio, Slate

Ukraine and Russia: Peace, War and the Future -- Volodymyr Dubovyk, Yale Global Online

If the Transatlantic Relationship Sneezes, Will NATO Catch a Cold? -- Azita Raji, War On The Rocks

Venezuela elections: What's next after Maduro's re-election -- Elizabeth Melimopoulos, Al Jazeera

Latin America’s New Authoritarianism -- Michael Albertus, Slate

World News Briefs -- May 22, 2018

ABC News Online: Donald Trump says 'substantial chance' summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un may be delayed

US President Donald Trump says there is a "substantial chance" his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not take place as planned on June 12 amid concerns that Mr Kim is not committed to denuclearisation.

Mr Trump raised doubts about the Singapore summit in talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who came to Washington to urge Mr Trump not to let a rare opportunity with reclusive North Korea get away.

If the summit is called off or fails, it would be a major blow to what Mr Trump's supporters hope will be the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency, and a huge disappointment for Mr Trump.

Read more ....


With capital 'secure', Syrians breathe sigh of relief.

'Severe damage' in Syria's Yarmuk makes returns unlikely: UN.

At least 30 killed in Islamic State attack on Syrian army near Palmyra.

Russia says Syria rejects new constitution diluting Assad powers.

US blacklists Iranians for allegedly providing missile tech to Yemen's Houthis.

Mike Pompeo claims Iran carrying out 'assassination operations' in Europe.

Lebanon's new parliament set to hold first session.

Israeli Security Cabinet convening in underground bunker: media.

Palestinians demand full ICC investigation into 'Israeli war crimes'.

Turkey coup trial: Court to jail 104 ex-military for life.


North Korea reverts to angry tone as foreign media gathers for shutdown of nuclear test site.

Foreign media arrive for North Korea nuke site closing.

North Korea publicizes nuclear dismantlement in state media.

UN asks oil traders to shore up sanctions on North Korea.

Mike Pence: It would be a 'great mistake' if Kim Jong Un believed he could 'play' Trump.

Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in Myanmar, says Amnesty. Amnesty: Rohingya fighters killed scores of Hindus in Myanmar.

Philippines has ‘serious concerns’ about Beijing bombers in South China Sea.

Julie Bishop raises objections to China's activities in South China Sea.

China tells Australia to remove its ‘coloured glasses’ to get relations back on track.

Nine people killed as Indian police open fire on pollution protesters.

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak interrogated by corruption commission as charges loom.

Chinese government 'considering scrapping limits on family size'.


Egypt army intensifies Sinai home demolitions: HRW. Egyptian army 'intensifies Sinai demolitions'.

Piracy on the rise off Somalia.

Children 'voluntarily join' armed groups in DR Congo.

Three dead in anti-terror operation in Burkina capital.

Guinea: Ibrahima Fofana named new PM amid political tensions.

U.S. official warns African countries against dependence on China.

Experimental Ebola vaccinations begin in DR Congo after outbreak.

South Africa land redistribution unlikely to mean constitutional change, analysts say.

White South African farmers claiming persecution at home seek refuge in Australia.


Furious protests break out in a 'Day of Rage' against President Macron's government – and even police officers get involved.

German court rejects call for Puigdemont to be rearrested.

Merkel visit a chance to press China to open up: EU's Katainen.

EU braced for trade war as US tariffs exemption to expire within weeks.

Russia adopts bill that could stymie trade with US.

Moscow says it will not comply with U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's state debt: Interfax.

Switzerland opens criminal probe tied to Angola fund.


Donald Trump meets South Korean President Moon at White House. Trump, Moon try to keep NKorea summit on track amid doubts.

Republicans, no Democrats, invited to see documents on U.S. election probe.

Venezuela expels two U.S. diplomats after election sanctions.

EU says Venezuela vote did not meet standards, considers steps.

Central Americans flee homes in record numbers: 'The level of violence is brutal'.

Cuba’s new leader breaks from past with public appearances.

Barbados leader faces tough election test with economy sluggish.

Hawaii volcano producing toxic lava haze plume called ‘laze’.


'They deserve no mercy': Iraq deals briskly with accused 'women of Isis'.

Terrorists may move from Afghanistan to Central Asian states — Russian defense minister.

Manchester marks first anniversary of concert attack.

Panama says new evidence shows 1994 plane crash 'terrorist' incident.


Stocks sink late as smaller companies and industrials fade.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg faces EU Parliament over data scandal. Zuckerberg's European Parliament testimony criticised.

Trump faces backlash over possible $1.3bn ZTE fine. US lawmakers denounce purported ZTE deal.

BP delays Rhum North Sea work over Iran sanctions clarity.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 22, 2018

Chinese servicemen gesture from the deck of a naval vessel, during the closing ceremony of the Pakistan Navy’s Multinational Exercise AMAN-17, in the North Arabian Sea, Pakistan, February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro​

SCMP: China’s navy and coastguard stage first joint patrols near disputed South China Sea islands as ‘warning to Vietnam’

Foreign ships expelled from waters off Paracel Islands in show of strength after Vietnamese subsidiary of Russian oil firm Rosneft started drilling nearby

China expelled at least 10 foreign fishing vessels in the first joint patrol staged by the Chinese navy and coastguard in the disputed waters of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, state media has reported.

News of the patrol, reported by the official military media on Sunday, came after China landed long-range bombers for the first time last week on an unspecified island reef in the South China Sea.

Beijing’s latest moves, according to Chinese analysts, are intended to serve as a warning to Hanoi following news that a Vietnamese subsidiary of a Russian state oil firm had started drilling in an area that China also claims.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 22, 2018

What China's First Strategic Bomber Landing on Woody Island Means -- The Diplomat

Report: US shifted planned B-52 flight due to South Korean security concerns -- Air Force Times

South Korea may ax arms purchases amid talk of peace -- Defense News

South Korea changes mission for its newly launched assault ship -- Defense News

Russian rotorcraft maker to showcase attack helicopters at arms show in Kazakhstan -- TASS

Russia’s nuclear submarine successfully test-fires Bulava missiles -- TASS

Russia developing exoskeleton for army engineers -- TASS

Russian Security Council chief focuses on joint anti-terror measures at Beijing summit -- TASS

Tank Renaissance: Germany Reportedly Reviving WWI-Era "Leopards" -- Sputnik

The F-35 Could Become a 'Navy' Killer (Thanks to Norway) -- National Interest

The F-35 just made its combat debut -- Defense News

UK F-35 pilots get in gear to bring the joint strike fighter to Britain -- Defense News

Navy’s Top-Dollar Stealth Fighter May Not Go the Distance -- Roll Call

Lockheed taps BAE for F-35 readiness support -- UPI

Boeing to redesign flight recorder technology for naval aircraft -- UPI

First wave of ‘Ironhorse’ troops from Fort Hood on way to Europe -- Stars and Stripes

Only a third of the Army’s BCTs are ready to deploy. Here’s how the service plans to fix that. -- Army Times

'Shot Down Day 1': Pentagon Fears Command Plane Vulnerable to Russian Missiles -- Sputnik

CentCom’s Votel: U.S. will stay in Syria to fight ISIS and keep an eye on Iran -- Tampa Bay Times

Watchdog finds little progress in Afghanistan, despite U.S. military optimism -- Reuters

C-17 Globemaster Makes 1st Airdrop in Afghanistan in More Than a Year -- Defense Tech

America’s industrial base is at risk, and the military may feel the consequences -- Defense News

That Fiery B-1B Lancer Landing In Texas Was Reportedly A Commander’s Worst Nightmare -- Task & Purpose

Social Media Photos Raise Questions About B-1 Emergency Landing -- Defense Tech

Shrinking the infantry squad: Why the Corps wants to fight with fewer Marines -- Marine Times

Trump Hints At Plan To Create 'Space Force' As Sixth Military Branch -- NPR

Indo-PACOM? Pentagon may rename US Pacific Command -- Military Times

NFL helmet maker partners with U.S. Army to help curb soldiers' head injuries -- ESPN

Families of Fallen Carry On Tradition of Resilience on Memorial Day --

Are Female Navy Commanders Fired For Behaviors That Male Commanders Practice All The Time? -- Task And Purpose

Amnesty International: Rohingya Militants Massacred Hindus In Myanmar

A Myanmar army helicopter is seen in September 2017 after transporting journalists to an area where the bodies of Hindu villagers were found near Maungdaw in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, September 27, 2017. Photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

The Guardian: Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in Myanmar, says Amnesty

Human rights group says accountability for atrocities is just as crucial as for security forces’ crimes.

The Rohingya military group Arsa carried out deadly massacres and abductions of the Hindu community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state last year, a new report by Amnesty International has revealed.

Testimony collected by Amnesty from dozens of witnesses and survivors of the attacks in Rakhine in August have detailed how up to 99 Hindu men, women and children were killed by Arsa militants armed with knives, swords and sticks. Only those who agreed to convert to Islam were spared.

According to the report, on 25 August last year, Arsa militants, aided by some local Rohingya, descended on the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, in the northern Maungdaw township in Rakhine.

They rounded up all 69 Hindu men, women, and children, before executing 53 of them. Some who agreed to convert from Hinduism to Islam were freed.

Read more ....

More News On The Amnesty International Report That Rohingya Militants Massacred Hindus In Myanmar

Rohingya insurgents killed Hindu villagers in Myanmar violence: Amnesty -- Reuters
Myanmar Rohingya militants massacred Hindus, says Amnesty -- BBC
Rights group: Rohingya insurgents massacred Myanmar Hindus -- AP
Report claims Rohingya militant group massacred nearly 100 Hindus -- CNN
Report Alleges Massacres Committed by Rohingya Militants Against Civilians -- The Wall Street Journal

Scores Killed And Wounded By Massive Explosion In The Afghan city of Kandahar

Al Jazeera: Heavy casualties as blast rocks Afghan city of Kandahar

Afghan forces accidentally detonate explosives in southern city of Kandahar, killing 16 and wounding 38 others.

At least 16 people have been killed in southern Afghanistan when security forces tried to dispose of a container full of explosives in the city of Kandahar, officials said.

Nematullah Barak, head of Mirwais hospital in Kandahar, said the latest figures "show 16 dead and 38 wounded people brought to the hospital".

"We still have two ambulances at the site because there might be more people under the rubble," he told AFP news agency.

Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial governor, confirmed the death toll and said four security forces were among those killed.

Read more ....

More News On The Afghan War

Car Bomb Explodes in Afghanistan, Killing 16, as Team Tries to Defuse It -- The New York Times
Heavy Casualties As Blast Rocks Afghan, 16 Dead And 38 Wounded -- NDTV/Reuters
Afghan official: Taliban kill 5 workers clearing land mines -- FOX News
19 killed, several wounded in multiple attacks in Afghanistan -- DAWN/AP
Afghanistan: Policemen killed in deadly Taliban attacks in Ghazn -- Al Jazeera
Taliban launch large scale attack on Ghazni districts -- Khaama Press
Taliban warn Kabul residents to 'keep away' ahead of attacks -- AFP
'You Didn't Take Action': Afghans Reject Official Narrative of War Against Taliban -- The Wall Street Journal

The Chinese Are Buying-Up ‘The Crown Jewels’ Of U.S. Technology

National flags of U.S. and China wave in front of an international hotel in Beijing February 4, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Politico: How China acquires ‘the crown jewels’ of U.S. technology

The U.S. fails to adequately police foreign deals for next-generation software that powers the military and American economic strength.

The U.S. government was well aware of China’s aggressive strategy of leveraging private investors to buy up the latest American technology when, early last year, a company called Avatar Integrated Systems showed up at a bankruptcy court in Delaware hoping to buy the California chip-designer ATop Tech.

ATop’s product was potentially groundbreaking — an automated designer capable of making microchips that could power anything from smartphones to high-tech weapons systems. It’s the type of product that a U.S. government report had recently cited as “critical to defense systems and U.S. military strength.” And the source of the money behind the buyer, Avatar, was an eye-opener: Its board chairman and sole officer was a Chinese steel magnate whose Hong Kong-based company was a major shareholder.

Despite those factors, the transaction went through without an assessment by the U.S. government committee that is charged with reviewing acquisitions of sensitive technology by foreign interests.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My brother works in the biotech field in the Bay Area and has been involved in a number of start-ups over the years. He tells me that Chinese venture capital is all over the place, and they are investing heavy.

U.S. Navy’s Deploys One Of It's Most Advanced Guided Missile Destroyers To Japan

The U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG69) arrives to join Forward Deployed Naval Forces at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Japan May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Reuters: U.S. bolsters Asia ballistic missile defense as Trump-Kim summit nears

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Reuters) - The USS Milius, one of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced guided missile destroyers, arrived in Japan on Tuesday to reinforce defenses against any ballistic missile attacks by North Korea, or anyone else in East Asia.

The warship’s arrival at Yokosuka Naval Base comes three weeks before an unprecedented meeting is supposed to take place in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The show of force is a reminder of the military pressure that can be brought to bear on North Korea as the United States seeks to press it to abandon its nuclear weapons and its ballistic missile program.

Read more ....

Update #1: U.S. Military Sends War Ship to Japan Ahead of Trump's North Korea Summit (Newsweek)
Update #2: US sends powerful warship to Japan amid looming Trump-Kim summit (FOX News)

WNU Editor: This deployment is "to reinforce defenses against any ballistic missile attacks by North Korea, or anyone else in East Asia".

President Trump: Summit With North Korean Leader Kim May Be Delayed

BBC: Trump says summit with Kim may be delayed

US President Donald Trump has said a historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un next month may be delayed.

He was speaking as he received South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the White House to discuss the summit.

Mr Moon is "likely tell President Trump what to expect and what not to expect from Kim", the South Korean news agency Yonhap reports.

Last week the North said it might cancel if the US insisted on it giving up nuclear weapons unilaterally.

"If it does not happen, maybe it will happen later," Mr Trump was quoted as saying by AFP news agency at the start of his talks with Mr Moon.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump to meet South Korea's Moon with North Korea summit hanging in the balance -- Reuters
Update #2: Can North Korea Talks Be Saved? Trump and Moon to Discuss Summit Conflicts at White House Meeting (Newsweek)

WNU Editor: I do not expect this meeting between President Trump and President Moon is going to go well. From my vantage point and from what I am hearing from my South Korean friends, it increasingly looks like the Moon administration overstated North Korea’s willingness to deal .... and when the North Koreans learned about this, they decided to cut ties with the Moon administration. As for the Trump administration .... they should have done their diligence. They trusted the Moon administration when they should have been suspicious and skeptical on what he was promising. To put it bluntly .... President Trump screwed-up .... and doubly so from his foreign and national security team. His instincts should have told him that South Korean President Moon was trying to tie him down to a diplomatic approach .... when there was really no movement from North Korea that they would give up their nuclear weapons. The only thing that I do not understand is the Chinese .... they are committed to these talks, and they did communicate to President Trump that these talks are real and viable. Hmmmm .... apparently they are not.

Israel Boasts That It Is The First Country To Use The F-35 Stealth Fighter In Combat

BBC: F-35 stealth fighter sees first combat, in Israeli operation

The US-made F-35 stealth fighter has seen its first ever combat action, flying in an operation for the Israeli air force.

The air force chief showed an image of jets over Beirut, Lebanon, and said the planes had "already attacked twice on two different fronts".

Israel recently carried out scores of air strikes in Syria.

The F-35, from the world's priciest military programme, has been criticised both for cost and combat effectiveness.

Last year, Defence Secretary James Mattis had to defend the programme after then President-elect Donald Trump tweeted criticising its huge price, said to be close to $100m (£74m) per plane.

Read more ....

More News On Israeli Claims That It Is The First Country To Use The F-35 Stealth Fighter In Combat

Israel says it is the first country to use U.S.-made F-35 in combat -- Reuters
Israel says first to use F-35 stealth fighter jets in combat -- AFP
Israel F-35 Airstrikes Are World First Test Of The 'Mighty One,' Top Commander Says -- Newsweek
Israel the first in the world to conduct strikes with F-35 jet, army says -- Times of Israel
IAF commander: Israel first to use F-35 jet in combat -- Jerusalem Post
Israel reveals secret: Used world’s first F-35 for strike on Iran in Syria -- Al Arabiya
Israel says it is 1st country to use U.S.-made F-35 in combat -- New China
Israel First to Conduct Attacks With F-35 Jets - Air Force on Syria Strike -- Sputnik
Israel brags it is 1st state to use US-made F-35 in combat & ‘attacks on different fronts’ -- RT

After Maduro's Election Win On Sunday, The Exodus From Venezuela Is Expected To Explode

Reuters: Venezuelans buy bus tickets out after Maduro wins re-election

CARACAS, May 22 (Reuters) - Betsabeth Casique saved for eight months for bus tickets out of Venezuela for herself and her three children. At 1.4 million bolivars each, they are worth what she earns in a month working as a nurse.

It is less than two dollars at the black market exchange rate.

When socialist President Nicolas Maduro won re-election to a six-year term on Sunday in a vote the opposition and foreign governments called illegitimate, Casique decided to leave, first for the western city of San Cristobal and from there to Cucuta, Colombia.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back, what pushed me to do it faster," Casique, 29, said while charging her cell phone outside the Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos terminal in Caracas, where she was planning to buy tickets for a bus leaving on Tuesday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The announcement that President Nicolas Maduro won re-election with a 68% margin .... is the straw that broke the camel's back. This blog has a reader in Caracus who is always updating me on what is happening there, and he was the first to tell me that the only ones who were at the polls on Sunday were a few soldiers and government officials. When I asked him yesterday on what was the reaction on the street when the announcement was made that Maduro had won re-election .... his answer was that in the past there was always celebrations, cars honking, cheers on the streets. This time .... complete silence.

Inspector General Report: US Strategy In Afghanistan Shows Little Result

Smoke rises from the site of a blast and gunbattle between Afghan security forces and a handful of militants in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan, May 13, 2018.

Reuters: Watchdog finds little progress in Afghanistan, despite U.S. military optimism

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy has shown few signs of progress this quarter, a U.S. government watchdog report said on Monday, despite public assertions by the U.S. military that Taliban militants were on the back foot.

An inspector general report said that there had been few signs of significant progress by Afghan security forces and the Taliban continued to carry out deadly attacks.

“Available metrics showed few signs of progress, and during the quarter, the Taliban and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria - Khorasan each launched high-profile attacks in Kabul that killed hundreds,” a statement accompanying the report said.

In August, Trump committed the United States to an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan, dispatching an additional 3,000 troops to the nearly 17-year-old war that has killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians.

Read more ....

Update: Watchdog says US strategy in Afghanistan shows little result -- AP

WNU Editor: The Pentagon has a different take .... Pentagon spokesperson doubles down on ‘desperate’ Taliban comment (Long War Journal). As to what is my take .... the Afghans are now slaughtering each other at a rate that has not been seen for a long time, and the Afghan Army is bleeding soldiers .... Afghan security forces suffer stark fall in numbers (CNN).

The Pentagon Wants More Robots

Zero Hedge: Pentagon Spends $1 Billion To Acquire More War Robots

According to a new report from Bloomberg, the Pentagon is spending approximately $1 billion over the next several years for a variety of robots designed to complement combat troops on the modern battlefield.

In addition to scouting and explosives disposal, these new war robots will reportedly be able to perform more complex tasks, including surveillance missions, detection of chemical or nuclear agents, and even have the ability to transport soldiers’ rucksacks.

“Within five years, I have no doubt there will be robots in every Army formation,” said Bryan McVeigh, the Army’s project manager for force protection. He applauded the efforts of the Pentagon to field more than 800 robots over the past 18 months.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am surprised that they are only spending one billion.

Editor's Note

WNU Editor: Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted later today.