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Congress Seeks U.S. Military Response to Russian Treaty Violation

Congress Seeks U.S. Military Response to Russian Treaty Violation

Administration ignores Moscow’s illegal nuclear cruise missile

Vladimir Putin

BY:

The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation last week that would require the Pentagon to deploy new weapons in two years to counter Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

The fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill considered by the committee last week contains language that directs the president, secretary of defense, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to evaluate and develop new U.S. and allied weapons in response to Russia’s failure to explain its new intermediate-range cruise missile.

The legislation, contained in the $604.2 billion authorization bill, states that the U.S. government has been negotiating with Russia since 2013 on the violation and to date “the Russian Federation has failed to respond to these efforts in any meaningful way.”

“For years, we’ve been urging the Obama administration to get serious about Russia’s violation of the INF treaty,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces.

“Its response: we’re talking to Russia,” said Rogers, who sponsored the provision. “While Obama talks, Putin cheats on treaties and invades his neighbors. We must take Russia’s actions seriously, and this authorization of DOD funding does just that. The United States will not be unilaterally bound by any treaty.”

Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO commander, said the Russian INF violation “can’t go unanswered.”

“We need to first and foremost signal that we cannot accept this change and that, if this change is continued, that we will have to change the cost calculus for Russia in order to help them to find their way to a less bellicose position,” Breedlove said. His remarks, made in April 2014, were quoted in the bill.

Additionally, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that the United States must make clear to Russia that there will be political, diplomatic, and “potentially military costs” for the treaty violation. “It concerns me greatly,” Dempsey has said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated during his Senate nomination hearing in February that options were being studied. He warned Russia that treaty limits were a “two-way street” and suggested the U.S. military could build missiles that it agreed not to build under the 1987 accord.

The bill would require the president to submit formal notification to Congress within 30 days on Russia’s testing and deployment of missiles that violate the treaty and on whether Moscow has begun to take steps for full compliance and verification to correct any violations.

If Russia fails to return to full compliance, with inspections and verification, the Pentagon should begin preparing “military response options,” the legislation states.

The options include “counterforce” capabilities that could prevent intermediate-range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missile attacks, including weapons acquired from allies.

Additionally, Congress wants the Pentagon to begin developing unspecified “counterforce capabilities” and “countervailing strike capabilities”—presumably similar or asymmetric nuclear strike capabilities “to enhance the armed forces of the United States or allies of the United States.”

The legislation authorizes using funds for research, development, testing, and evaluation, noting that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs can prioritize those weapons that will be fielded within two years.

The INF treaty bans ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 310 miles and 3,417 miles. The United States eliminated all its Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Russian officials have said the INF treaty has constrained their defenses and noted concerns about the large buildup of Chinese INF-range ballistic and cruise missiles as one reason for Moscow apparently jettisoning the INF accord.

The Obama administration has sought to play down the INF violation, first disclosed formally last year in a State Department arms compliance report.

Russia’s INF missile banned under the accord has been identified in published reports as the Iskander M ground-launched cruise missile. The missile, also known as the R-500, is a cruise missile variant of the Iskander short-range ballistic missile.

Moscow has denied violating the treaty and countered U.S. charges by claiming the United States has violated the treaty through a target missile and drone – both of which are not covered by the treaty. The U.S. has denied Moscow’s counter charges.

Critics on Capitol Hill, however, said State Department arms control officials, led by Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, have sought to play down or ignore the INF violation in order to try to preserve the arms control agenda with Moscow.

Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told the congressional hearing in December that there were no plans to withdraw from the INF and that efforts were being undertaken to bring Russia back into compliance.

The House bill will need to be reconciled with a Senate version in the coming months. Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain (R., Ariz.) said during a hearing March 19 that the new INF weapon is a “a nuclear ground-launched cruise missile.”

In March, Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that one option for the United States would be to deploy a ground-launched cruise missile in Europe and that such a deployment would require withdrawing from INF.

“What we are looking at in terms of options, countermeasures, some of which are compliant with the treaty, some of which would not be,” he said.

The options ranged from bolstering defenses of NATO and U.S. sites in Europe, preventive measures and then “countervailing strike capabilities to go after other Russian targets.”

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon arms control official, said the legislation is very useful.

“There must be a congressional push for a response to Russian violation of the INF Treaty or there won’t be any,” he said.

“While I believe that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is sincere when he talked about the need for a U.S. response, I do not believe that this is the case within the Department of State arms control bureau.”

Schneider stated that in addition to the illegal cruise missile, Russia cheating is much broader.

“In particular, there has been a recent development on the issue of whether Russian ABM systems and surface-to-air missiles have the prohibited capability to attack ground targets with nuclear warheads at INF range,” he said.

For example, Russian military analysts have reported that Russia’s S-300 anti-missile system has a ground attack capability close to INF range.

“With the Russian sale of the S-300 to Iran, this issue takes on greater significance,” Schneider said.

David S. Sullivan, a former Senate arms control specialist and former CIA analyst who first exposed Moscow’s cheating on the SALT arms treaty in the 1970s, said effective arms control treaties require effective verification and compliance.

“Violators must pay a price,” Sullivan said. “The Reagan defense build-up was the price the U.S. paid to deal with Soviet arms control cheating, and it ultimately caused the Soviets to bankrupt themselves in response.”

The U.S. response today to several confirmed INF treaty violations should also be programmatic, Sullivan said, including deployment of “offsetting cruise missile deployment to NATO and more strategic missile defenses.”

“Neither would cost very much, but they would be effective bolsters to deterrence,” he said.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the legislation. A spokesman for the Russian Embassy did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

According to the bill, other treaties that Russia appears to be violating include the Open Skies Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Vienna Document, the Budapest Memorandum, the Istanbul Commitments, the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Moscow also recently withdrew from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, raising new doubts about its arms control commitments.

Other Russia-related provisions of the bill call on the Pentagon to notify Congress of Russian transfers or sales of Club-K cruise missiles, weapons disguised in launchers that appear to be shipping containers. The military also would be required to develop a strategy to defeat the Club-K.

Another measure calls for the Pentagon to provide quarterly notifications to Congress of Russian preparations for deploying nuclear weapons in militarily occupied Crimea.

Congressional notification of any U.S. approval of Russia’s plan to upgrade intelligence-gathering aircraft under the Open Skies Treaty is included in the bill.

99% Of Names On Secret Federal Gun Ban List Are US Military Veterans

99% Of Names On Secret Federal Gun Ban List Are US Military Veterans

With as busy as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was walking guns across the border to murderous Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to stem the flow of firearms into Mexico, Barack Obama’s most loyal minion still found the time to come up with ways to prevent American citizens from legally owning firearms.

Although Obama’s executive orders successfully kept roughly 64,000 incriminating documents from being released, the U.S. Department of Justice was soon ordered to hand them over, and since then, the revelations just keep on coming, including one that would be too ridiculous to believe if it wasn’t for the Obama administration.

FrontPage Magazine’s Daniel Greenfield captured the Obama administration’s sentiment towards our veterans when he wrote that if the Japanese had conquered American in WW2, we would still probably have a more pro-veteran government than we do now.

This claim was backed up when veterans’ healthcare and U.S. soldiers’ meals were significantly cut to spend on other failed liberal programs, but a recently exposed list has gone too far at targeting our vets, especially with the dangers they face by Islamic jihadists here in the U.S.

According to The Washington Times, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants Holder to explain why the DOJ gun ban list has a “mental defective” category, consisting almost entirely of veterans and their dependents.

“According to the Congressional Research Service, as of June 1, 2012, 99.3% of all names reported to the NICS list’s ‘mental defective’ category were provided by the Veterans Administration (VA) even though reporting requirements apply to all federal agencies,” wrote Sen. Chuch Grassley (R-IA) in a letter addressed to Holder.

“It’s disturbing to think that the men and women who dedicated themselves to defending our freedom and values face undue threats to their fundamental Second Amendment rights from the very agency established to serve them,” Grassley continued in his statement Wednesday. “A veteran or dependent shouldn’t lose their constitutional rights because they need help with bookkeeping.”

Federal agencies are required to report names of individuals who are considered a danger to themselves or others to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s “mental defective” category so that they may be prevented from obtaining a firearm.

This means that veterans “are particularly singled out,” Grassley argued, adding that veterans should not be forced by the Department of Veterans Affairs “to prove that they have the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

“Instead VA reports individuals to the gun ban list if an individual merely needs financial assistance managing VA benefits. Although the VA process is not designed to regulate firearm ownership, it results in veterans and their loved ones being barred from exercising their fundamental, Constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment rights,” he explained.

Only in the West are we so tolerant that we are quick to criminalize the very individuals who protect from the truly intolerant. We have imams preaching hundreds of violent verses of the Quran that incite hate and violence against us, yet they are free to warmonger completely unmonitored for fear of offending them.

Our men and women return from defending Western democracy only to be met with less pay and benefits than illegal drug runners and criminals who sneak across our borders.

We have Muslims returning from slaughtering unbelievers with the Islamic State in Syria, and they are welcomed back into the welfare system with open arms, yet the soldiers who’ve risked everything and sacrificed much return to find that the weapons they were worthy enough to fight with for our nation’s benefit, but not worthy enough to protect themselves and their own families.

Video: Armed National Guard Troops Conduct Exercise in Virginia Park Near Children’s Playground

Video: Armed National Guard Troops Conduct Exercise in Virginia Park Near Children’s Playground

116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team on the move next to public park

by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON

military troops guard playground Virginia

“This was a Sunday morning exercise. They appeared to be heading to carry out PT (physical training) at some other location,” the man who shot the video tells us. “This was in a city park and people were walking, jogging, and enjoying the playground with their children.”

“What struck me were the M1As or M16s they were carrying (whether real or plastic) I could not tell the difference. I drove up as close as possible to them as they turned to my left onto the sidewalk,” he adds.

One of the soldiers confirms that they are part of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which is currently assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard and is based out of the Thomas Howie Memorial Armory in Staunton, Virginia. The troops were filmed at Gypsy Hill Park, which is situated next to the Armory.

The Guard troops behave in a friendly manner and are willing to engage in casual conversation, but some have expressed concerns about armed personnel conducting maneuvers in public, suggesting that such activity should be done on base.

Others insist that the activity is perfectly routine and nothing to be worried about.

Last week, we featured a video out of Ontario, California which showed National Guard troops marching down a residential street while chanting military cadence and performing traffic control drills. Some locals claimed that such public drills were not commonplace.

Concerns about military personnel operating in public places are heightened in anticipation of the nationwide Jade Helm military exercise, a drill which will revolve around soldiers operating “undetected amongst civilian populations,” to see if they can infiltrate without being noticed.

A National Guard exercise based around dealing with civil unrest after a dirty bomb attack in Richmond, California which took place earlier this month featured role players acting as angry Americans yelling ‘right-wing’ rhetoric.

Footage captured by a local shows Guard troops pushing irate citizens away with batons before one of the protest group states, “I’m a sovereign citizen, I refuse to recognize you guys, I refuse to recognize you.”

Disturbing video out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida last month also showed military and law enforcement practicing the internment of citizens during martial-law style training.

Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/paul.j.watson.71

US Warship Headed To Yemen Waters To Block Iran Weapons

US Warship Headed To Yemen Waters To Block Iran Weapons

By  Lolita C. Baldor, AP

A helicopter takes off from a Jinggangshan warship to search the waters suspected to be the site of the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.   STRINGER/CHINA/REUTERS
A helicopter takes off from a warship.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.

The deployment comes after a U.N. Security Council resolution approved last week imposed an arms embargo on leaders of the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote with Russia abstaining.

Navy officials said Monday that the Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea. A massive ship that carries F/A-18 fighter jets, the Roosevelt is seen more of a deterrent and show of force in the region.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea in response to reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis. Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ship movement on the record.

Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, mainly Gulf Arab countries, have been trying to drive back the rebels, who seized the capital of Sanaa in September and have overrun many other northern provinces with the help of security forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The U.S. supports the Saudi campaign.

Western governments and Sunni Arab countries say the Houthis get their arms from Iran. Tehran and the rebels deny that, although the Islamic Republic has provided political and humanitarian support to the Shiite group.

The U.S. has been providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi coalition launching airstrikes against the Houthis. That air campaign is now in its fourth week, and the U.S. has also begun refueling coalition aircraft involved in the conflict.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest would not comment specifically on any Navy movements in Yemeni waters, but said the U.S. has concerns about Iran’s “continued support for the Houthis.

“We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other armed support to the Houthis in Yemen. That support will only contribute to greater violence in that country. These are exactly the kind of destabilizing activities that we have in mind when we raise concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”

He said, “The Iranians are acutely aware of our concerns for their continued support of the Houthis by sending them large shipments of weapons.”

The expanded U.S. Navy activity in the region comes at a sensitive time, as the U.S. and six world powers have reached a framework deal with Iran to control its nuclear program. Since the preliminary deal with reached on April 2, Iran and the U.S. have been disputing the details of the deal. And on Monday, a lawyer for Tehran-based Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian said Tehran had charged Rezaian with espionage and three other crimes. The Obama administration dismisses the charges as “absurd.”

The U.S. Navy generally conducts consensual boardings of ships when needed, including to combat piracy around Africa and the region. So far, however, U.S. naval personnel have not boarded any Iranian vessels since the Yemen conflict began.

Officials said it’s too soon to speculate on what the Navy ships may do as the Iranian convoy approaches, including whether Iran would consent to a boarding request, and what actions the Navy would take if its request was refused.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been pushed to the brink of collapse by ground fighting and the Saudi-led airstrikes in support of current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia. Observers say the fighting in the strategic Mideast nation is taking on the appearance of a proxy war between Iran, the Shiite powerhouse backing the Houthis, and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia.

Iran marks Army Day with cries of ‘Death to Israel, US’

Iran marks Army Day with cries of ‘Death to Israel, US’

Military parade near Tehran features truck carrying banner calling for destruction of Jewish state; Rouhani sets out ‘strategy of deterrence’

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND AP

Iran parade military guard

Iran on Saturday marked Army Day with a military parade featuring new weapons systems, as well as a truck carrying a massive banner reading “Death to Israel.”

A televised broadcast of the parade was punctuated by repeated cries of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

“If Israel makes a mistake,” the announcer on Iran television said during the broadcast, as heavy trucks carrying armored personnel carriers rolled past, “those in Tel Aviv and Haifa will not sleep at night, not one person.”

Broadcast on national television, military brass and political leaders, foremost President Hassan Rouhani, attended the procession south of the capital Tehran, which showcased the country’s military technologies.

Among the weapons systems paraded past dignitaries was a domestically produced version of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile, the Bavar 373.

Speaking at the event, Rouhani said Iran was adopting “a strategy of deterrence in order to prepare for peace and security in Iran and the Middle East.”

“Our method of action is defense and not offense,” he said.

Russia announced earlier this week that it would supply the S-300s to Iran shortly, having delayed delivery for several years. The announcement prompted bitter protests from Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned President Vladimir Putin, in vain, to ask him to cancel the deal.

Israel fears the S-300s would complicate any military intervention as a last resort to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. It also fears Iran could supply the missile defense systems to Syria or Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s air supremacy over Syria and Lebanon.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said he was surprised the Russians had held back from going through with the deal for as long as they had.

Rouhani also harshly criticized Saudi Arabia Saturday, warning that the Saudi royal family in Riyadh will harvest the hatred it is sowing in Yemen through its airstrike campaign.

Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has been attacking Shiite rebels known as Houthis and allied fighters loyal to Yemen’s ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran supports the rebels but denies providing any military support.

“What does bombing the innocent … Yemeni people mean? What goals are you pursuing? Will killing children bring power to you? You planted the seeds of hatred in this region and you will see the response sooner or later,” Rouhani said. “Don’t bomb children, elderly men and women in Yemen. Attacking the oppressed will bring disgrace … for the aggressors.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already called the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen “genocide” and a “major crime.”

Iran has presented a four-point plan to end the conflict that includes humanitarian aid, dialogue and the formation of a broad-based Yemeni unity government after a proposed cease-fire was already rejected by Saudi Arabia.

Rouhani also accused Saudi Arabia of providing weapons and funding to terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“What does providing financial assistance and weapons to terrorists in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq mean,” he asked.

Iran is supporting both Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Iraqi government in its fight against Sunni Muslim extremists, including the Islamic State group. Tehran says Saudi Arabia and several other Middle East governments support the Islamic State group.

Prominent lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who heads the parliamentary national security and foreign policy committees, predicted that Saudi Arabia will find itself trapped in the Yemeni “quagmire.”

“We are so sorry that today Saudi Arabia and (its allies) have placed themselves in a quagmire and leaving it will definitely not be an easy task,” he told reporters Saturday.

Intent of Russian military aircraft near U.S. shores remains unclear

Intent of Russian military aircraft near U.S. shores remains unclear

Russia Russian bomber fighter airplane plane aircraft

The air is frigid and the wind is howling as Air Force Col. Frank Flores lifts a pair of foot-long binoculars and studies a hazy dot about 50 miles west across the Bering Strait.

“That’s the mainland there,” he shouts above the gusts.

It’s Siberia, part of Russia, on the Asian mainland.

Named for an old mining camp, Tin City is a tiny Air Force installation atop an ice-shrouded coastal mountain 50 miles below the Arctic Circle, far from any road or even trees. The Pentagon took over the remote site decades ago and built a long-range radar station to help detect a surprise attack from the Soviet Union.

At least from this frozen perch, America’s closest point to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the Cold War is turning warm again.

U.S. F-22 fighter jets scrambled about 10 times last year — twice as often as in 2013 — to monitor and photograph Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers and MiG-31 fighter jets that flew over the Bering Sea without communicating with U.S. air controllers or turning on radio transponders, which emit identifying signals.

The Russian flights are in international airspace, and it’s unclear whether they are testing U.S. defenses, patrolling the area or simply projecting a newly assertive Moscow’s global power.

“They’re obviously messaging us,” said Flores, a former Olympic swimmer who is in charge of Tin City and 14 other radar stations scattered along the vast Alaskan coast. “We still don’t know their intent.”

U.S. officials view the bombers — which have been detected as far south as 50 miles off California’s northern coast — as deliberately provocative. They are a sign of the deteriorating ties between Moscow and the West since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March of last year and its military intervention to support separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Similar Russian flights in Europe have irked leaders in Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Norway and elsewhere. In January, British authorities were forced to reroute commercial aircraft after Russian bombers flew over the English Channel with their transponders off.

In all, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization says its jets scrambled to monitor Russian warplanes around Europe more than 100 times last year, about three times as many as in 2013. Russian air patrols outside its borders were at their highest level since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, NATO said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a statement in November, as tensions heightened over Ukraine, that Russia’s strategic bombers would resume patrols in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

“In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.

Although the Arctic draws less attention, Russia is flexing muscles there after years of decline. President Vladimir Putin’s government has announced plans to reopen 10 former Soviet-era military bases, including 14 airfields, that were shuttered along the Arctic seaboard after the Cold War.

A shipyard in Severodvinsk, the largest city on the Russian Arctic Coast, has begun building four nuclear-powered submarines for the first time in decades, according to Russian news reports. The Pentagon says the reports are accurate.

The Pentagon has responded by spending $126 million last year to upgrade Tin City and other coastal radar stations in Alaska. It also has added military exercises with northern allies — including flying U.S. strategic bombers over the Arctic for the first time since 2011.

Last week, four B-52s flew from bases in Nebraska and Louisiana on simultaneous, round-trip sorties to the Arctic and North Sea regions, the Air Force announced. Along the way, the bomber crews engaged in “air intercept maneuvers” with fighter jets from Canada, England and the Netherlands.

The Air Force has said it may base the first squadrons of next-generation F-35 fighter jets at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska starting next year.

The buildup comes as melting ice caps are opening valuable new sea lanes, sparking a scramble for oil and other untapped natural resources by the eight nations with territorial or maritime claims in the far north.

“We’re experiencing a reawakening of the strategic importance of the Arctic,” said Navy Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of the Pentagon’s Northern Command and of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

“Is this a second Cold War? It doesn’t matter what we think,” Gortney said. “Maybe they think the Cold War never ended.”

Analysts say Putin’s government may be ordering the bomber flights as a morale booster for a military that saw its ships turned to scrap, its aircraft grounded and its bases closed after the Cold War.

“The ability to project military power from bases in the Arctic region is one area in which they are still capable,” said Christopher Harmer, a military analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, a nonpartisan public policy group in Washington.

“This is much less compared to what they were doing in the Cold War,” said Dmitry Gorenburg, a research analyst at the nonprofit Center for Naval Analyses in Washington. “I don’t think they’re threatening anyone. They just want to make sure that no one comes into the Arctic and messes with them.”

The U.S. military downsized but never fully disengaged in the Arctic after the Cold War.

If an alarm sounds, fighter pilots still sometimes slide down gleaming fireman poles at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage and run to F-22 Raptors kept idling in small hangars. The jets, in “hot-cocked” condition, carry fully armed cannons and missiles.

In an underground room on the base, rows of radar technicians sit at glowing screens watching small crescent-shaped blips, each representing an aircraft moving in Alaskan airspace. On the wall, four large screens track aircraft across the Arctic, including Russian airspace.

The wall also holds 261 plaques with red stars. Each represents a successful U.S. intercept of Russian aircraft. A total of 424 Russian planes have been detected since 1983, mostly during the Cold War.

“If they come this way, we’re going to track them, determine who they are and what their intent is,” said Maj. Carrie Howard, an officer in charge of the air defense squadron.

Most of the time, the blips are commercial planes that identify themselves by emitting transponder codes or communicating with regional air controllers. But some aircraft stay silent.

If commanders here decide to respond, they grab a tan telephone marked “scramble” in red letters. It rings in a wardroom by the runway where F-22 pilots are always on duty.

“When the phone rings, it stops your heart, it rings so loud,” said one pilot, who asked not to be named for his security.

Once airborne, the pilots are supposed to get a visual identification of the other aircraft. But the F-22 can fly nearly three times as fast as the lumbering Tu-95 bomber, so slowing down is the challenge.

“You want to go fast,” the pilot said. “The jet wants to go fast. But you just have to ease up alongside of them.”

On Sept. 17, he scrambled in pursuit of radar blips that turned out to be two Russian “Bears,” two MiG-31s and two refueling tankers. The American pilot drew close, radioed his sighting back to Anchorage and returned to base.

“Our presence was felt,” the pilot said. “That’s all that’s needed.”

It was difficult to feel much of anything but cold at Tin City on a recent afternoon, where the temperature was far below zero, the wind was bone-chilling and the world faded into a blinding white of snow, ice and fog.

Vance Spaulding, 53, and Jeff Boulds, 52, two contractors, spend up to four months maintaining the radar site before they fly out on break.

While here, they hunt musk ox, a long-haired, long-horned animal known for its strong odor, and Arctic hare, which they claim can grow to 20 pounds or more, on the surrounding coastal plain.

“We get cooped up here, so we try to get out in the open whenever we can,” Boulds said. “But I never seen no Russkies. Not yet anyway.”

Army Diversity Training Features Slide About ‘White Privilege’

Army Diversity Training Features Slide About ‘White Privilege’

REUTERS/SAAD SHALASH

Army soldiers at Fort Gordon, GA, were inappropriately shown a slide about “white privilege” during a diversity training briefing, according to an Army spokeswoman.

Army spokeswoman Capt. Lindsay Roman said that Army officials are investigating the Equal Opportunity (EO) briefing, USA Today reports.

The slide, which contains bullet points about “white privilege,” is titled “The Luxury of Obliviousness.”

“Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans or to how white privilege affects them. ‘To be white in America means not having to think about it,’” states one item.

Capt. Roman claimed that the presentation, which took place on Thursday, was not authorized and is not part of the standard Army briefings that are typically shown to soldiers.

“The unit (Equal Opportunity) instructor deviated from the authorized topic and content which was provided,” said the Army spokeswoman. “To prevent further instances, all unit instructors will receive additional training on the importance of following Army EO training requirements.”

“We are committed to equal opportunity by all members of the unit. The Army reflects the diversity of American society. We are all members of one team,” she added.

Nearly 400 soldiers of the Army’s 67th Signal Battalion attended the briefing, according to the report.

A picture of the slide was posted on a Facebook page and generated a barrage of negative comments, notes USA Today. 

“The Army has struggled with diversity in its ranks for decades. It is of particular concern among the service’s top leadership,” adds the article. “Last year, [USA Today] reported the command of the Army’s main combat units had only a few black officers. Less than 10% of the active-duty Army’s officers are black compared with 18% of its enlisted soldiers, according to the Army.”

According to Army spokesman Wayne Hall, the slide appears to reflect the work of Allan Johnson, a sociologist and author.

Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83.

Obama Paid Taliban $5 BILLION For Bergdahl AND Traded Five Taliban Terrorist…A Deserter!

Obama Paid Taliban $5 BILLION For Bergdahl AND Traded Five Taliban Terrorist…A Deserter!

rp_709f83e846f6c015550f6a706700c3bfjpg.jpg

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who was part of the Bowe Bergdahl negotiations, told Bill O’Reilly the U.S. paid out $5 BILLION and traded five top Taliban detainees for Bergdahl.

Barack Obama knew Bergdahl was a deserter. So what was the point of Obama deciding to honor this man in the Rose Garden?! What was the point of allowing Bergdahl’s father in Taliban beard to invoke Allah in Pushtu, and to pledge that “God would repay the death of every Afghan child” ?!

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Dad at White House

What was the point of the President of the United States embracing such a Taliban sympathizer at the White House? What was the need to hold such an intimate photo-op?

What was the point of Obama sending out Susan Rice to tell us that Bergdahl “served the United States with HONOR and distinction“?? She surely knew, as did Obama, that that was a LIE.

The Five Taliban Released by Obama for Bowe Bergdahl
The Five Taliban Released by Obama

Obama didn’t just trade five high-value Taliban leaders for one American deserter, he chose to HONOR that deserter as an American hero. And, in so honoring him, dishonored all the comrades he deserted. Obama gave away five war criminals who are already pledging to get back to killing – PLUS $5 BILLION, and the U.S. got NOTHING in return. WHY?

If Obama were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?

Iranian aircraft buzzed Navy helicopter in Persian Gulf

Iranian aircraft buzzed Navy helicopter in Persian Gulf

Washington (CNN)An Iranian military observation aircraft flew within 50 yards of an armed U.S. Navy helicopter over the Persian Gulf this month, sparking concern that top Iranian commanders might not be in full control of local forces, CNN has learned.

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter approaches the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in November 2014.
An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter approaches the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in November 2014.

The incident, which has not been publicly disclosed, troubled U.S. military officials because the unsafe maneuver could have triggered a serious incident.

It also surprised U.S. commanders because in recent months Iranian forces have conducted exercises and operations in the region in a professional manner, one U.S. military official told CNN.

“We think this might have been locally ordered,” the official said.

The incident took place as the U.S. and other world powers meet with Iran in Switzerland to negotiate a deal limiting Tehran’s nuclear program. At the same time, Iran has been active in supporting proxies in several hotspots in the Persian Gulf and neighboring regions.

The Navy MH-60R armed helicopter was flying from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson on a routine patrol in international airspace, the official said.

An unarmed Iranian observation Y-12 aircraft approached. The Iranian aircraft made two passes at the helicopter, coming within 50 yards, before the helicopter moved off, according to the official.

The official said the helicopter deliberately broke off and flew away in a ‘predictable’ manner so the Iranians could not misinterpret any U.S. intentions.

The Navy helicopter was in radio contact with the ship during the encounter, but there was no contact between the two aircraft and no shots were fired.

The Navy crew took photos of the incident but the military is not releasing them.

The U.S. administration is considering a potential demarche protest against Iran, the official said.

CNN has reached out to Iranian officials but has not received a response.

This type of Iranian observation aircraft generally operates over the Gulf several times a month. But after the recent incident, U.S. naval intelligence did not see it again for two weeks, leading to the conclusion that the incident may have been ordered by a local commander who was then reprimanded by higher-ups.

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The Pentagon has noted for the last several years that most encounters with the Iranian military at sea or in air are conducted professionally, but that some missions run by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forces have been too aggressive against U.S. forces in the area.

The U.S. military’s concern has been that one of these incidents could escalate into a military encounter.

This incident “might have been buffoonery” the official said, but there is always a risk from such actions.

The incident comes as the Navy patrols the Gulf of Aden to watch for Iranian ships the U.S. believes are trying to bring weapons to resupply the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Navy would share such intelligence with Saudi Arabia, a second U.S. official told CNN.

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