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31 October 2015


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I continue to study the various blogs/news feeds I follow for reporting on the South China Sea and other Asian Rim tensions, working on another Ocean Tracks entry. My working title for that is "One Day, This Sh*t Is Going To Get Real".

As I learn from all of you regarding the MENA/Ukraine situations and the careful thought you all display on analyzing the goings on, I'm trying to apply that to this theater and the analogy for me is the ugly beginning to a really bad thundershower that you can see on the horizon.


Eventful day. Israel bombs near Damascus http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4718802,00.html and ISIS takes credit for downing Russian airliner http://www.timesofisrael.com/islamic-state-in-egypt-claims-it-brought-down-russian-plane/

ex-PFC Chuck

ISIS is taking credit for the downing of the Russian airliner en route from Egypt to St. Petersburg. There were no survivors and 200+ killed. AFIK there has been no official preliminary explanation of the cause.



http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.683394 The Beebster is testing the limits and having a frisson leading to Borgasm if he can get away with it.
Next move to the Rooshans. pl


However the airline company that operated the crashed flight had issues in the past. Think the "Baby-Flots" of the 90's. According to the Guardian, there were engine issues that required work prior to the flight's leaving Sharm el-Sheikh. Also the plane was old, having entered service in 1977.

From the Guardian:Crew members of the crashed airliner raised the issue of possible engine faults several times to airport technicians in Sharm el-Sheikh, a source at the airport has alleged in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“This aircraft appealed to the technical service in connection with engine start failure several times over the past week before this happened,” the source said.

In Moscow MP Vladimir Gutenev has told state news agency TASS he will seek to ban the use of planes that are more than 15 years old

Trey N

Interesting timing: IAF raids in Syria + Russian airliner crash in Sinai = pure coincidence ???

Russian airliner was cruising at 31,000 and is said to have reported technical problems and asked for clearance to land at Cairo. Altitude way too high for MANPADS. Is this really an accident, with ISIS falsely claiming credit -- or was a bomb placed aboard the plane ?

Black boxes have been recovered. I'll be that Russia has this figured out and reported to the world waaaay faster than the still-unsolved MH-17 "mystery crash."


Any CIA/State Dept. officers involved in the movement of MANPAD weapons to the jihadis and rebels is an accessory to the murder of these 200 civilians.

I have a new hero in the U.S. Congress. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI) is a member of the Armed Services Committee.. She's an Iraq combat veteran (two tours) and is a Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard. Congress members like Gabbard give me hope.

Here's a YouTube clip of her with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

CIA Must Stop Illegal, Counterproductive War to Overthrow Assad
Tulsi Gabbard


Trenches, tactics help rebels survive Syria onslaught

James Clapper says Putin winging it in Syria


Boston B

Clapper is an ass-kissing dummy. He always was. pl

William R. Cumming

Hoping you would agree with my opinion that US strategy [if there was one?] has largely failed in the Ukraine and MENA?

William R. Cumming

Could some explain to me how the Thump and the Doc understand how US FP [foreign Policy] relates to domestic policy?

Odin's Raven

It seems that the Syrians are receiving a little more help from their friends:


I think this post on a Yahoo news thread is noteworthy:

Just trying to keep my scorecard straight. Let’s see. The Americans are using a Turkish airbase to bomb ISIS and protect our allies the Kurds.
The Turks are bombing our allies the Kurds while we are using their airbase.
The Americans are supplying human shields for terrorist in Syria who are being bombed by the Russians.
On the Iraqi side, American air power is being used to protect and support the new Iranian puppet regime in Iraq installed by the Americans after the gulf war.
The Mahdi army that we fought in Sadr City are now advanced element of the Iraqi army we are protecting.
Officers of “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” the Iranians are standing next to Iraqi officers who are standing next to American officers all cooperating to kill ISIS soldiers who have been receiving weapons from Americans through American proxies we consider”moderate rebels”.
Meanwhile, our “enemies” the Iranians are supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen while our “allies” the people who destroyed the trade centers have involved the U.S. in yet another unauthorized war by aggressively attacking the houthis who were helping the U. S. fight Al Queda in Yemen before .
In the meanwhile “moderate rebels” are undoubtedly being furnish weapons capable of bringing down Russian war planes. So while Russia is bombing ISIS, we are encouraging our proxies to shoot down their planes.
Will someone tell me whose side we are on today?

Not bad at all, especially compared to the BS one finds on cable tv.


Or cyberwarefare?

Odin's Raven

Another aspect of the middle eastern mess seems to be conflict over control of drug manufacturing and distribution networks, especially for the Saudis.


vaguely a welcome topic, BF.

considering my initial surprise on the larger US foreign policy ground, I only got glimpses of. But for whatever reason they remained on one of my synapses. ;)


I certainly do! Both that past Secure The Oil, there has been no strategy since before Desert Storm and that what ever the Pre-Borg and now the full developed Borg have been thinking, the result has put the Titanic in the shade.



As near as the US has gotten to a confrontation with Russia, the prospect of having a serious military confrontation with China, in China's front yard (so to speak) continues to astound me. Given the amount of mostly one way trade they have with the US and how much of our debt they own, it beggars belief that we would trade blows with them.

I truly believe the Japanese are seriously upset they did not put themselves in a stronger military position in the past decades and are in a rush to create naval assets to push back on the Chinese. It appears that as many as 80% of US naval assets will be Pacific based in the coming years. And, our Marines are working hard to create effective capabilities in amphibious/air assault. The fact that the Marine version of the F-35 has been a large source of difficult for that program is a sign how seriously the capability it will be bring is valued.


All Blacks crushing Wallabies.


just don't know how i come across this stuff, had never heard of it before. the kingom of Ebla, close to Idlib and Aleppo


"Ebla (Arabic: إبلا‎, modern: تل مرديخ, Tell Mardikh), was one of the earliest kingdoms in Syria. Its remains constitute a tell located about 55 km (34 mi) southwest of Aleppo near the village of Mardikh. Ebla was an important center throughout the third millennium BC and in the first half of the second millennium BC. Its discovery proved the Levant was a center of ancient, centralized civilization equal to Egypt and Mesopotamia, and ruled out the view that the latter two were the only important centers in the Near East during the early Bronze Age. Karl Moore described the first Eblaite kingdom as the first recorded world power.[1]"


What I can read states the plane was at 31,000 feet when what ever happened took place. If so, the reasons I can think of are: 1) aircraft failure (including engines), 2) explosive device on board, either preinstalled or with a suicide passenger, 3) a SAM. The altitude precludes a 'Stinger' type of MANPADS as the topmost range for those types of weapons are usually stated to be about 16,000 feet. I've included a Wiki link that takes about all the different MAENADS in a table and don't want to get into the difference between 'slant range' versus max effective altitude for usage. I've read a quote that the plane was in service since 1977 (Airbus A300?) and had recent service issues with its engines.



Lmbo here at the gym while Fox News declares the Russians have found it tougher than expected because, it seems, they haven't won't the war yet.

Idiots. The same people who think inside every Middle Easterner is an Ohio Den/Repub ready to cheer for secular Western hedonism. I hate these idiots.



How about the FL? Yup, idiots lost in a haze of supposed machismo. They would all pee in their pants at the sound of the first round. pl



In regards to the IAFAF is Bibi trying to keep open an LOC to al-Nursa as it appears that area was on their supply line as far back to wary operations there in '13? This sends the clear message that Israel is on the jihadi side in this one, which seems a rather stupid position to continue given the RF's stated position and; to use one of Israel's favorite phrases, "the facts on the ground".


The Russian plane was made in 1997, not 1977. And was an A321-200.

Babak Makkinejad

I sincerely hope that an anti-aircraft weapon did not cause the destruction of this Russian airliner in Sinai.




I feel your pain. I am in Ann Arbor, Republic of; opposite spectrum hedonism, same stupidity gene.


Any suggestions for a good pork roast recipe?



On a different note did that gentleman you mentioned a while back ever write a book on surf fishing? I would like to put one on my wish list. )I could use some good tackle recommendations for my holiday travel plans later in the year and figured a good book would have some ideas to consider.)

Babak Makkinejad

I thought already Japanese have the second largest naval fleet in the world.

Is that incorrect?

J Villain

"In Syria, a newly formed US-backed rebel alliance launched an offensive against Isis in the north-eastern province of Hasaka. It was the first declared operation by the Democratic Forces of Syria, which joins a US-backed Kurdish militia and several Syrian Arab rebel groups, since it announced its formation earlier this month."

"Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Obama’s home state of Hawaii, said the latest escalation “is unlikely to succeed in achieving our objective of defeating [Isis] and instead threatens to embroil the United States in Syria’s civil war”."


I wonder if these are the guys we were reading about a day or two ago that couldn't pass vetting but just wanted to fight?

Interesting to see another politician from Hawaii with their head screwed on right. I wonder if it is the distance from Washington that helps?



Brine it overnight in fridge. Salt, pepper and garlic. Rotisserie for two hours basting it with juices and something like teriyaki. PL

J Villain

I wouldn't believe that report of Israel bombing. That was almost certainly Russia. While the Israeli media started with the story that Nutyahoo went to Moscow and told Putin how it is going to be. They have since walked that back and the story now is, the Russians bomb first and if they are in a good mood phone us after. That tells me the Israelis have gotten the message Putin isn't playing.


j villain

Russia would not be bombing SAA or Hizbullah. pl


Babak, you're right.


This is great Ryan, right on! This whole mess is impossible to explain without using a very heavy dose of irony, hypocrisy salad and a cynicism goulash. You have a George Carlin outtake, kudos.


Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A320_family

"The first member of the A320 family—the A320—was launched in March 1984, first flew on 22 February 1987, and was first delivered in March 1988."


Don't you love how Western media is quick to assert it was mechanical failure but with MH 17 they were so super quick to attribute it to pro-Russian rebels.



I wish I could claim credit for writing this post but I can't. This is another person's fine creation of truth merged with black humor. I did compliment him on it along with a number of other folks.

I'll relay to him your appreciation.

J Villain

More detail on what this group has been up to.


"Democratic Forces of Syria"

For the record no Arabic/Muslim or any thing else in the region puts the word democratic in their name on purpose so who knows who these people really are.

J Villain

Agreed. But some shmoe on the ground looking at a jet may not be able determine what nationality it really is and if it is close to the line may not be sure of what it is really targeting.


Fred, I have the tackle list scanned, if you would like to me to send it along.


In numbers, yes. Not sure about the capability quotient, which would be more to the point. Are they suitable for pushing back against the PLAN in the waters around disputed territory. They do have very effective submarines.

SAC Brat

The Airbus A319/320/321 series of airplanes transmit maintenance reports constantly during flight. If the airline was using this feature they would have these available for review. If it was brought down by an on board bomb I would expect a few fault messages being transmitted before AC power was lost on the airplane. The same if both engines were failing. "Engine start failure" could be a engine start valve fault requiring manual actuation by maintenance personnel to get the engine started, and is an allowable operating condition since the engines can be started in flight without this valve. The "engine start failure" could also be an ignition fault of one of the two ignition systems, but the start valve is more likely.

An example of an Airbus A330 without engine power to show emergency systems on the airplane, as both Airbus families of airplanes use similar design practices: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Transat_Flight_236

SAC Brat

Any spotting of Milo Minderbinder?




If I have to hear someone describe Putin as "KGB thug" one more time I might just kick down the door when Hannity or O'Reily is filming live and break their necks with my bare hands.



No kidding. I can't stand these coiffed low testosterone gamma males who want everyone else to go die for their inane cause of "democracy at bayonet point". Firing squads for everyone involved.


Not really a secret. The Italians have been excavating there for years. Ebla was an important kingdom, but didn't really match Egypt or Mesopotamia, because it was not what used to be called a "hydraulic civilization". Egypt and Mesopotamia won out because they got regular irrigation water every year from the rivers. Product 6 x the seed sown, every year. Ebla didn't have that, was dependent on irregular North Syrian rain. Archaeologists have a tendency to exaggerate, to justify themselves.


A BUK would have been needed to shoot down a plane at cruising height of 31,000 ft. More likely a bomb placed before take-off, if it's enemy action.

Chris Chuba

If James Clapper is really speaking his mind then Lord help us if this is the calibre of our military analysis. I have no military background but the Russian operation looks like it has been methodically planned and executed.
1. Preparations followed by strong, well organized attacks. Granted, Putin isn't giving press releases on where Assad's ground operations are going. Clapper interprets this as a sign of a lack of planning but even though I am a novice, I assumed that secrecy should be assumed in military operations.
2. Putin has been making the rounds on what he believes is an appropriate political solution, namely the expulsion of foreign fighters followed by a political transition dictated by the Syrians themselves.


They see the connection in saying things and getting attention.


Happy Halloween/Samhain/All Hallows Eve/ everyone!

Candidate jack-o-lanterns http://bit.ly/1kj89hh
Waiting for the Great Pumpkin http://bit.ly/1RkAQ8i
The situation is grave http://bit.ly/1RFFYUq

The Beaver


An edifying episode of the Fifth Estate on The Hidden War

The first 15 mins deal with ISIS in Deir ez-Zor and the remainder on Iraq.
I missed it last night and I am watching it this evening as it is on again .


Lordy, it's comments like this that bring me to SST.

But FWIW, Tyler some threads back mentioned a desire for an Amazonian Xena.
The comment vastly amused me. There is such a thing. Or was.

It would have been off-topic on the earlier thread, but his being an open thread, I'll observe: I was among the first... oh... 1,000 AMZN employees. In my work group was a woman named Xena. And whether she was a Warrior Princess, I have no clue. She was super smart and delightful, as I recall.

So Tyler, rest easy. At least once, there actually was an Amazonian Xena.
Hope that brightens your day.

At least back in the day, 'coiffed gamma males' wouldn't have lasted 24 hours at AMZN.
Probably not even 4, come to think of it.
As business environments go, it was ruthless. I hear it remains so, but now I only order from them.


SAC Brat
When last seen he was still trying
to unload the Egyptian cotton!
el-Sisi demanded a higher percentage.



I'ld love to get a copy.


Could ISIS have had access to the engines while they were being "repaired"?



Amazon seems to be doing alright for itself because it is "eating its own dog food" as it were. Not a fan of the social justice warrior BS that's sweeping through tech, but whatever. The revolution eats its own children.



Walking around overseas, you're expected to salute and sound off with something. My choice? "Scuba!" or "Bubble, bubble, Sir!"

Only person who called me on it was an SF Warrant who told me I was full of shit as he returned the salute.


John Wayne (Marion Mitchell Morrison) and the Pilgrims. See the youtube. Pilgrim, ultimately, from the Latin per-agra, outside the field. Stranger. Someone that comes from afar on a religious journey. A tenderfoot in the Old West? A newcomer to military intelligence and other military matters??

There was only three books in my house when I was growing up. One was Paul Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress." was fascinated by it.



Wayne wanted to be a spook, but the acceptance letter didn't get to him.

"U.S. National Archives records indicate that Wayne had, in fact, made an application [32] to serve in the OSS, that day's equivalent of the CIA, and had been accepted within the U.S. Army's allotted billet to the OSS. William Donovan, OSS Commander, wrote Wayne a letter informing him of his acceptance in to the Field Photographic Unit, but the letter went to his estranged wife Josephine's home. She never told him about it.[33] Donovan also issued an OSS Certificate of Service to Wayne."


William R. Cumming

Am I correct that Marc Rubio is being billed as the expert of the Republican candidates on US FP [foreign policy]?


OK. Will try to get it to you.


Ross-Ihlten (spelling?), the Zionist Cuban, was his political mentor. Alas, in these present United States, being a foreign policy expert means being an "Israeli Firster."

look at the billionaire donor he just racked up- hedge fund vulture Paul Singer. Norman Braman bagged Rube [sic] a long time ago.



" Given the amount of mostly one way trade they have with the US and how much of our debt they own, it beggars belief that we would trade blows with them."

The first glimpse I got of the "yellow threat" if I may put it thusly, was from within the--took some time to recognize--the more crazy American "skeptics" circles.

Anyway, there was this message spread that the Chinese are already on the Mexican border. Yes, nowhere else, but down there.

The second glimpse resulted from my limited grasp of Obama's foreign policy objectives, plus advisors I guess, something of an intended move from the ME further East?

But the trade deficit, surely rings a bell concerning Europe, with the usual firmly established images and "vermin", or more recently "ratzlla. Who do you think in Europe, may that be?

Maybe, I finally get a glimmpse of "national interests".

SAC Brat

Lot of ifs. The technique of taping a foreign object to a blade or inlet guide vane in the engine is most likely to cause engine damage during take off or climb. Since the engine has electronic control electrical connectors can be loosened, but if too loose a fault message will be generated during engine start or the wire harness can be stiff enough to keep contact. A fuel line can be loosened but the failure will often be during take off or climb due to high fuel flow at those times. The thrust reversers need two failures to be deployed in flight. Fuel contamination would show up in climb. Most of these faults would be seen on the transmitted maintenance reports.

Loss of oil is a fault that shows up in cruise if the leak is moderate.

Maybe twenty years ago there was a brief news article that an IRA member was found to be employed on the ramp at Heathrow airport in London.

Years ago a disgruntled technician of a south east Asian airline went to town with in an avionics compartment of an A330, cutting many wiring bundles. When the flight crew powered up the airplane the systems screens were full of fault messages, so the airplane couldn't be dispatched until all the circuits were repaired. The computers on the airplane are good at identifying faults in their systems and want their signals in a limited range of values, which makes me scratch my head at hacking stories which seem to be more Hollywood than engineering.

If it was a charter airline they would most likely use the available maintenance service at the airport and not likely to have their own staff. Sometimes there will be a maintenance person on the flight to handle irregularities or supervise local workers.


Saw a tweet that claims Erdogan' party headed to majority in Turkish parliament. Is this a case of "counting" the votes or a reflection of the current sentiment of Turks?


The AKP won a majority, so no coalition, but since HHP crossed the 10% threshold RT Erdogan does not have a super-majority to change the Constitution, as if he cares about scraps of paper.

William R. Cumming

IMO Deputy Secretary of State Blinker revealed today on FZ's GPS that the US has no real strategy in Syria or Iraq! Am I correct?



Between him and Haas we had a pretty clear description of the acceptance of defeat and chaos. Too bad Slaughter didn't have her usual input. pl


The real skinny on amazon online store. It's a front!

"The Amazons existed for thousands of years as a Matriarchal society founded by Otrera. They were fought by Hercules, Theseus, and Bellerophon. ..Amazon.com, run by the Amazons to act as a front on both the mortal world and immortal world. .... They ship a variety of goods and objects, both mortal and immortal, such as black rectangular objects that are Kindles, and even pegasi through their networks. Their boyfriends help do the lifting and are forced to wear orange jumpsuits and collars. ... . Amusingly, the Amazons are found to follow principles of their online store, like one-click ordering becoming the locks open with one click, and some Amazon guards read on small tablets that may be Amazon Kindles. "

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan



If its any balm, I think you have little to worry about with Rubio. Immigration is THE ISSUE right now, and Rubio's track record is so horrible that nothing less than an out and out open wreck of a nomination process which puts the GOP in the grave once and for all. Trump runs for President (possibly with Cruz or Webb as his running mate) as an independent and either wins, or we get Big Sister Hildog and then Kali Yuga begins in earnest.

Trey N

"Pilgrim's Progress" was written by John Bunyan. Paul Bunyan was the mythical lumberjack wandering the American frontier with his blue ox Babe. This slip sounds like one of my [sadly increasing] senior moments....


"Turkey's ruling party sweeps back to majority in parliament"

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's ruling party secured a stunning victory in Sunday's snap parliamentary election, sweeping back into single-party rule only five months after losing it.



Uh, oh.


A new idea on a possible Israeli foreign policy goal that I have not seen before from Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld


"The second would be to hope for the collapse of the Hashemite Kingdom and its occupation by Daesh or some similar organization. That would create an opportunity to repeat the events of 1948 and throw the Palestinians of the West Bank across the River Jordan. This is the “solution” a great many Israelis secretly favor. And the longer the present uprising lasts, the larger their number will grow."

William R. Cumming

I just watched [almost accidentally] a new docudrama on HBO entitled the DIPLOMAT about Richard Holbrooke by his son. Learned some things I think. Comments of others? About 2 hours long. Some interesting footage, commentary not so much.

William R. Cumming

It is of interest that neither Bush or Rubio has addressed what US policy should be post-Castros to Cuba!

William R. Cumming

A recently published book by Anne Jacobsen entitiled THE PENTAGON'S BRAIN looks interesting. An open source history of DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration]!

Apparently the CIA has now established an IARPA and wondering what that org accomplishing?

William R. Cumming

35 Members of Congress have written their colleagues asking for a new AUMF [Authorization of the Use of Military Force]! The 2001 AUMF under none of the draft language of various versions of a new AUMF and as sent by the WH to Congress would be rescinded or repealed.

ALL Presidential debaters should be asked about the need for a new AUMF IMO!

The current Constitutional design on war making is being evaded by both the Executive Branch and the Congress.

So far no War Powers message from the President on the deployments in Syria or Iraq.

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