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08 October 2015

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Fredw

Not sure of the details of UX CBUs, but many years ago I interrogated a Vietnamese whose job was to cut open unexploded bombs with a blowtorch and remove the insides. Apparently you can actually do that.

Fadi Aghs

White Helmets.
Georges Sorros' boys ..

Matthew

The Anti-Assad forces are getting nervous. See https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/652225065212334081

I would have thought that Sunni support for ISIS would inflame sectarian tension to a "fever pitch." Apparently, not.

Thomas

Wherever there is death and destruction Georges always seems to be there.

BostonB

Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani had a big part in planning the ground game with Russian planners. He was also very instrumental in helping the U.S. military's initial blitzkrieg success in Afghanistan in 2001 only to bitten in the ass by the perfidious neocons and Bush with their "Axis of Evil" nonsense. Relatedly, I find it a little strange that it is hard to come by references on the web to Soleimani's Jewish background. Military Wikia refers to it (http://military.wikia.com/wiki/Qasem_Soleimani#cite_note-alfonehjan11-4) but AEI deleted their bio with this information in it. Curious. The power of Hasbara editors.

Patrick Bahzad

it is still very early to tell how things are developping on the ground, but ground operations seem to have begun although it is difficult to assess if this is the real beginning of a majore ground offensive or just the first step towards it.
What seems clear, as had been forecast on SST about a week ago already, is that:
- there is an operation going on in the "rastan" enclave (between Homs and Hama) aimed at cutting the rebel held territory in two and then reduce the remaining rebel areas,
- north of Hama, SAA is attacking or at least probing rebel defenses, with support of Russian attack helicopters, probably as part of the coming offensive, once the M5 highway will have been entirely retaken aroung Rastan
- further to the north-west, in Ghab plain and Jabal al-Zawayia, fighting has also been reported, but it is hard to tell if this is meant more as a diversion or if it is going to be a major point of attack already for Russians and SAA.
The crucial part of the fighting take place at the moment is around the rebel held enclave of Rastan, as control of this area (and the stretch of M5 highway that goes through it) will condition ability of SAA and Russians to conduct the major ground offensive they've been preparing to launch against rebel territory furhter to the North and West.

confusedponderer

I can't help wondering about the odd naming of the group. Since blue helmets are neutral, what are white helmets (except, of course, not being blue)?

Particpants? More neutral? Something else? Blank slates on which everbody can project whatever wants to see in them?

ex-PFC Chuck

This is interesting; from Reuters via Asia Times: "Four Russian cruise missiles aimed at Syria crashed in Iran: US officials"

http://atimes.com/2015/10/four-russian-cruise-missiles-aimed-at-syria-crashed-in-iran-us-officials/

Is it possible or likely that the USA hacked a Russian satellite navigation system?

VietnamVet

Walrus,

I hope the people on the ground will keep us up to date and correct any nonsense coming from the rear echelon.

Right now there has not been an international incident. The real question is what happens when the Syrian and Russian forces seize traditional Sunni homeland; especially if Iranian Quds Force leads the way. Senator John McCain will be livid. War Hawks, Israel Firsters and the House of Saud will place incredibly pressure to do something, anything. Turkey will not stand by as the Shiite Crescent is again stabbed through the heart of Islam.

A coalition of sovereign nations to encircle and seal off radical Islam won’t happen. Money is made selling arms, privatizing government and pumping oil.

The radical House Republican who want to shut down the federal government have revolted against the GOP establishment. Democratic government by and for the people is withering away. All that is left is one’s family, tribe and religion. War engulfs the world.

gemini33

Transcript of Sec Def Carter's press conference today from Brussels. A link and some excerpts.
http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/622454/press-conference-by-secretary-carter-at-nato-headquarters-brussels-belgium

-------
"We have not and will not agree to cooperate with Russia so long as they continue to pursue this misguided strategy. We've seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces. They violated Turkish airspace, which as all of us here made clear earlier this week, and strongly affirmed today here in Brussels, is NATO airspace.

They've shot cruise missiles from a ship in the Caspian Sea without warning. They've come within just a few miles of one of our unmanned aerial vehicles. They have initiated a joint ground offensive with the Syrian regime, shattering the facade that they're there to fight ISIL. This will have consequences for Russia itself, which is rightfully fearful of attack upon Russia. And I also expect that in coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer casualties in Syria."

The United States' approach in Syria is going forward -- excuse me -- the United States' approach in Syria going forward is as follows. We will continue to prosecute the counter-ISIL air campaign at the same pace and in the same battle space as we have since it started in Syria. We will continue to support the moderate Syrian opposition. We will seek an agreement with the Russians on professional safety procedures for coalition pilots. And we will leave the door open for Russia to rejoin the track toward a political transition in Damascus.

We will also continue to make it clear that if Russia wants to end its international isolation, it must stop its aggression in eastern Ukraine, end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, and live up to its commitments under the Minsk agreements. We must not let ourselves be distracted by Russian activities in Syria at the expense of holding them to task under Minsk. This was also the strong sense of the NATO meeting earlier today.

-------

"SEC. CARTER: We did discuss NATO's cooperation with the European Union. And in fact, Federica Mogherini joined us for lunch today. And I think there's widespread consensus in the alliance, and I think the secretary-general said as much, that NATO should be supportive of the EU-led effort. That includes a maritime dimension, which is very important, a maritime surveillance dimension that's very important. So there are ways in which military instruments can compliment the EU-led effort in the Mediterranean and to help the continent to deal with this really terrible and heart-wrenching refugee issue in a humane and practical way.

So there is a NATO view that it can compliment the EU-led mission in the Mediterranean. We're discussing exactly how we can do that, but I think the fundamental strategy is to align ourselves with the EU strategy and to bring military instruments where they can appropriately compliment that strategy to strengthen and reinforce it."

---------


Degringolade

If someone could be so kind as to offer an opinion as to the quality of information put out by Institute for the Study of War.

I am becoming quite a frequent "lurker" on Sic Semper Tyrannis and am trying to do a little side research to spin my rusty skill set (circa 1976) up to the quality of thought found here. But there is so much out there that trying to vet the information is problemmatic at best.

Thanks everyone. I do appreciate what goes on here.

D

The Beaver

If you look at the CV on their founder/trainer, you will understand:

http://www.zoominfo.com/p/James-LeMesurier/1321474360

Degringolade

This was a subject of conversation today in my world. Working at the VA, one gets into all kinds of interesting discussions with all kinds of folks. One of the squids stated that the Harpoons used by the Navy had a failure rate.

I went trolling around and found this:

http://www.g2mil.com/SSGN%20Scandal.htm

If the numbers are accurate, sounds like four failures might not be out of the realm of the possible.

I would be more interested in the damage caused by the 22-26 that didn't fail.

Valissa

John Helmer has some interesting tidbits here...

Burying The Doctrine Of One More Helicopter – Us Strategy In The Middle East Is Dying, Along With Its Authors, Jimmy Carter And Zbigniew Brzezinski; Vladimir Putin, Bashar Al-Assad Get To Dance On Their Graves, David Ben-Gurion Too http://johnhelmer.net/?p=14288
So the question becomes — how much time is there for the time being? That’s to say, how long must the US army on the ground wait before Carter’s extra helicopter will arrive, plus Bzrezinski’s “disarming” cavalry? Or, to put the question more urgently, how much time do the men on the ground have before they must run away to save their lives? The question received its answer overnight from Alexander Goltz, the Moscow-based military analyst for the NATO Defense College: “Russia has asked [the US] to remove all American instructors [in Syria], and I suspect that it will be done.” For Goltz’s record as the NATO military observer on the ground in Moscow, read this.

Goltz’s acknowledgement means that unless the NATO defence ministers decide this afternoon and evening to go to war with Russia, an allied expeditionary air, naval and ground force with a multiple large enough to challenge the Russians is impossible now. This was also conveyed when the New York Times was called in yesterday for a briefing by “an official with the alliance [of Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah], who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military strategy”. Dispensing with the Financial Times, the Economist, and Der Spiegel, mouthpieces of militaries which don’t exist in the Middle East, the Russian strategic objective is now delivered directly to the US. “No more questions. Not at any level,” the Times reports being told.

... What if the Saudis shift their forces from bombing southward and eastward in the Yemen towards the west, and they invite US forces to defend their sorties from Saudi airfields or from carriers in the Persian Gulf? An Egyptian military source comments: “The king [Salman] has Alzheimer’s, and his son [Mohammad bin Salman], the real ruler of the kingdom, is too young; too insecure in the royal succession; and too vulnerable domestically. If either of them makes so much as a nervous twitch towards the Syrian frontier, the oil price will return to the level Russia wants, and needs.
---------------

The Russians are now dealing directly to the NYTimes to deliver their messages to the US. Gotta love the ironic poetic justice there.

To those here who have more knowledge of the Saudis... any thoughts on the credibility of the information from his Egyptian source?

Amir

What is this whole business of being obsessed with someone's "Jewishness". In the Middle-East, there have been wars of conquest since the advent of history (please look up the definition of history and prehistory, it actually started here) and only God knows who has which clarity/purity grade & wavelength in the Ethnic Background Calorimetric Scale. The same story of being a Jew was being said about Ahmadinejad. A curious European obsession.

Paveway Mk IV

According to the various UXO commenters who know these things - These are AO-2.5RT submunitions designed to be dispensed above a thousand meters AGL. They are armed centrifugally from the spinning imparted by the vanes. An impact fuze blows the two halves of the submunition apart, followed by a short pyrotechnic delay before detonation.

An intact one means it hasn't been armed or the impact fuze failed. If split and enough time has passed (and they're not smoking) the pyrotechnic fuze probably failed. For ghetto EOD in a Syrian battle zone, you could move them if you had to. Gently. Probably not safe for soccer practice though. 'If you had to' means they're sitting in your bombed-out Syrian house, your backyard or along your town's residential street after an attack and there's kids running around. I don't think al Nusra has an EOD team with a toll-free hotline for civilians, so you're pretty much on your own. If you do call them, they will come out and disarm the bomblets - but then they'll chop your head off. So 'suicidal' to handle is relative in a place/situation like that.

Slightly better video of the same submunitions:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgvrJ-5Dxew

You can make out the halves, intact ones with and without the vanes. They didn't land together like that. This is a pit where they're being collected for detonation.

That vid was posted on this guy's twitter page:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgvrJ-5Dxew

No idea what 'side' he's on - he just collects a lot of interesting pictures and videos. He also had a tweet about this Daily Beast article:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/08/russia-s-giving-isis-an-air-force.html

I generally steer clear of the Daily Beast, but found this little nugget in the article interesting:

"...Hasan Hagali, the top commander for Suqour al-Jabal and a former captain in the Syrian Arab Army, explained via Skype to The Daily Beast: “Yesterday, at 5:30 p.m. a base belonging to Suqour al-Jabal was targeted in two air raids in Mansoura... ...That’s our main arms depot, where we supply all our units. At the same exact time—5:30 p.m.—ISIS sent a car bomb against us in Deir Jemal, against our base. This is about 130 kilometers away from Mansoura.” An earlier ISIS attack against a Suqour al-Jabal frontline position, he added, occurred in Ehres, also in western Aleppo, at around 3 o'clock. But ISIS locations in the province, no doubt equally visible from the air, were left unscathed by the Russians..."

The interesting part (if any of it is true) is that Suqour al-Jabal is one of those ex-FSA outfits that quit and pledged allegiance to the Islamic Front head-choppers almost two years ago. So these Idlib Civil Defense guys were apparently clearing UXO from a head-chopper ammunition depot, not a schoolyard or anything like that. Unless the ammunition depot was in the schoolyard.

The humorous part is the 'top commander' of a head-chopper outfit is whining in the quote about how those darn Russians didn't attack ISIS (who was attacking him a couple of hours earlier) even though ISIS would have been just as good of a target visibility-wise. That's just not fair!

Ishmael Zechariah

VV,
re: "Turkey will not stand by as the Shiite Crescent is again stabbed through the heart of Islam".

We will cheer on all tayyiban who wish to go and die, but TSK will NOT fight in Syria. Want to bet? Bottle of Lagavulin, 16yr?
Ishmael Zechariah

ex-PFC Chuck

Although there are some hard core neocons affiliated with it, our host has pointed out that they do have some quite level headed people on staff. To wit:
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/06/httpwwwunderstandingwarorgsitesdefaultfilesisis20coas20finalpdf.html

You can probably find more with a google search on "sic semper tyrannis" and "institute for the study of war".

Paveway Mk IV

Degringolade re ISW (my opinion): informative and nicely packaged information, but driven by a strong undercurrent of what people describe as neoconservatism and Syrian pro-rebel, Ukrainian pro-government bias. Founded by Kimberly Kagan and related to a group of similarly-themed think-tanks. ISW focuses much of it's material on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts because it's only a few years old, i.e, it wasn't around during the Iraqi war.

Most of the young authors are a step above the superficial analysis of the average grad student and write better, but you're not going to find much critical thought or seasoned reasoning there. The articles and reports are sprinkled with the occasional nugget of what seems like 'inside info' that lends their work some sense of authority, but the bulk of it seems like buckets of academic facts hand-picked to (weakly, IMHO) support their assertions or conclusions. I'm sure it has it's fans on Capitol Hill and it's undoubtedly loved by the MIC. Maybe may here - I'm not sure.

I don't mean to disparage it as much as I probably sound - I try to read everything there even though I disagree with many of their positions or conclusions. The internet is the most superb confirmation-bias enabler ever invented, but it's also the antidote. And they may be right about everything - I don't know.

For a much more decidedly antagonistic description of ISW, you can read how the haters describe it in this article regarding the Elizabeth O'Bagy affair a couple of years ago. I link it because it lays out most of the behind-the-scenes connections and people that supposedly influence it:

http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/09/12/why-is-kim-kagan-throwing-young-analyst-under-the-bus/

Castellio

Now that's a serious prize.

Babak Makkinejad

Ottomans - being fellow inheritors of the Seljuk culture & civilization - were closer to Shia Iran in their love of the Household of the Prophet than Sunni Arabs were in more than a millennia - in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, Turkey will do nothing overt in Syria.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, I have noticed that as well, an obsession it is and has been for 200 years and you & I are not going to be able to alter it. It is just the way they are.

ztommixx

Or another party/parties fired "4" objects of some sort opportunistically into Iran under cover of the "26" verbiage.

But failure rate, as you say, is an oh-so real but too often neglected news item.

If all these tales of recent days comprise substantial misdirection, yours truly would not be surprised.

Brunswick

Given that it's two "unnamed officials", and CNN,

It's probably as valid as the drawings of Mobile Chemical Weapons Factories.

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