News of the Force: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - Page 1

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Jan 31, 2018, 9:25:17 PM1/31/18
                                        NEWS OF THE FORCE: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - Page 1

                                             We will not be using graphics for the foreseeable future.

Renewed push for Australia to develop nuclear weapons
      A discussion has begun over the past month in Australian strategic and military circles about the necessity of building nuclear weapons, or developing the capacity to do so, against the alleged threat posed by nuclear-armed powers, above all China.

'No more time for excuses on North Korea,' U.S. State Dept. says
     The U.S. State Department has warned Russia that "there is no more time for excuses" after it reportedly failed to enforce sanctions restricting its exports from North Korea.
     The White House's original choice for U.S. ambassador to South Korea is no longer expected to be nominated after he privately expressed disagreement in late December with the Trump administration's North Korea policy.
     According to The Atlantic, the more closely you read Donald Trump's comments about North Korea in his State of the Union address, the more plausible it becomes that he is preparing for war.

Trump's 'axis of evil': Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea
     U.S. President Donald Trump targeted four “communist and socialist dictatorships” in his first State of the Union address last night, creating his own version of former President George Bush's "axis of evil."

Saudi official says all detainees in corruption probe released
A Saudi official said yesterday all detainees were released from Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel, where they were held as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

Britain's PM on visit to China
     British Prime Minister Theresa May today called for expanding the "global strategic partnership" between the United Kingdom and China, at the start of a visit to the world's second-largest economy focused on hashing out new trade deals.
     Meanwhile, according to secret papers produced by the Tory government, the U.K.'s economy will be worse off under every possible Brexit scenario.

Taliban threatening 70% of Afghanistan, BBC says
Taliban fighters, whom U.S.-led forces spent billions of dollars trying to defeat, are now openly active in 70% of Afghanistan, a  new BBC study has found.

Yemeni separatists seize southern military base
Separatist forces in Yemen seized a vital military base in the southern city of Aden yesterday in clashes that exposed a widening division among Yemeni factions allied with Saudi Arabia in its war against Houthi rebels.

Home of Kenya's former vice president attacked
Former Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said today gunshots were fired at his home and a grenade detonated in what he described as "an assassination attempt."

Russia will target U.S.' mid-term elections, CIA chief says
The director of the CIA expects that Russia will target the U.S.' mid-term elections later this year. Mike Pompeo told the BBC there had been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the U.S.
     Meanwhile, the Trump administration says it won't impose any of the sanctions that Congress overwhelmingly voted to level at Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

U.S. State Department clears sale of F-35As to Belgium
     The U.S. State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale of 34 Lockheed Martin F-35As to Belgium worth an estimated $6.53 billion, the agency announced this week.
Lockheed still needs Congressional approval, but the State Department blessing moves Lockheed once step closer in its bid to replace Belgium’s aging fleet of 59 F-16A/Bs. The export package includes 38 Pratt & Whitney F135 engines, including four spares, plus the full suite of electronic warfare and command and control systems, along with Lockheed's "autonomic" sustainment and logistic services.
     Last spring, Boeing bowed out of the $4 billion fighter competition in Brussels, saying "We do not see an opportunity to compete on a truly level playing field with the F/A-18 Super Hornet." The list of possible candidates for Belgium narrowed down further in July, when Saab withdrew its Gripen E. Saab citing Belgium’s need for extensive operational support from the delivering nation, a feat Sweden would not be able to deliver under existing foreign policy today. That leaves Lockheed, along with the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. The latter submitted a proposal to the Belgian government in October. Meanwhile, the French government offered an economic return of $24.4 billion over 20 years to Belgium in exchange for purchasing the Rafale, The Brussels Times reported.

China says 'plenty of space' separates Taiwan flights during route row
China rebuffed Taiwan's objections in a deepening row over the opening of new flight paths in the Taiwan Strait, saying today that the space separating routes over the waterway was more than is mandated by international rules.

French Coast Guard searching for American businessman lost at sea
The French Coast Guard is searching for Pierre Agnes, the chief executive of U.S. surfwear retailer Boardriders, Inc., after his 36-foot sailboat was found washed up on the country's Atlantic coast.

Canada secretly wants of out of NAFTA
     Publicly Canada and Mexico have both expressed a desire to continue NAFTA. U.S. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, has been critical of the agreement saying it isn't a good deal for the United States. On Monday, Jan. 22nd, Trump stated, "I happen to be of the opinion that if it [new negotiations] don't work out, we'll terminate it."
     If Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. are unable to come to terms on NAFTA, there is little doubt that Trump will be blamed for it and less doubt that Trump would embrace the blame. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how Trump would be able to spin a dead NAFTA on the campaign trail in 2020. However, Canada may have willingly forced Trump's hand this week by signing on to the Transpacific Partnership (TPP).

Kremlin unfazed by Syria's opposition
By Lisa Levine, News of the Force Tel Aviv
     The Kremlin shrugged off a Syrian opposition decision to boycott a peace conference in Russia this week, saying the event would go ahead regardless and make a meaningful contribution to a political solution.
     The Trump administration wants U.S. troops to stay in Syria for the foreseeable future to ensure the Islamic State doesn't regroup.
     Intense clashes erupted on Monday on a strategic hilltop in northwestern Syria as Kurdish forces tried to enter the area a day after it was captured by Turkish troops.
     U.S. President Trump told Congress last night he wants to restrict U.S. foreign aid to "America's friends" following a United Nations rebuke of his policy towards Israel.
     While Iran's regional allies have assured their supporters that the recent protests in the country are not a threat, the reality is that groups such as Hizbollah are highly vulnerable to any change in Iranian foreign policy.
     An Iranian woman who removed her headscarf in public to protest the theocracy's Islamic dress code apparently has sparked a bold trend in Tehran, the capital.
     And the co-founder of Hamas has died after accidentally shooting himself. Imad al-Alami was important not only as a co-founder of Hamas, but also for his close ties to the Iranian regime.

     Couzin Gym's Thought for the Day: Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

Homeland insecurity
     U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol agents have stopped and seized a semi-trailer carrying 76 illegal immigrants, inside the state of Texas. The immigrants and the truck's driver are all in federal custody.
     In two separate incidents, recipients of former President Barack Obama’s DACA program were arrested on suspicion of committing the same crime - human smuggling. Federal officials say border agents were sent to look into a report of what looked like human smuggling. When they pulled over the suspect’s car, they discovered two persons who were in the country illegally from Mexico. The driver was a 20-year-old DACA recipient whose status had expired. They admitted to police that they were involved in human smuggling. Last Thursday morning, two border agents followed one of two suspicious vehicles they had seen after arresting two people they suspected of being in the country illegally. When they searched the vehicle, the 22-year-old driver admitted that he and his passenger were scouting for a group of smugglers. The DACA recipient lived in Riverside County in California, and was from Mexico. Federal officials indicate that the suspect is in custody and will be deported, pending the proper legal procedure. Many advocates for "Dreamers," a class of illegal immigrants who were brought into the country as children, argue that some studies show they are much less likely to commit crimes than the native born populace. President Donald Trump has presented a plan that calls for amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million "Dreamers," in return for $25 billion for the border wall and greater border enforcement. The deal is still being negotiated.
     Last night, just before beginning his State of the Union address to Congress, President Trump signed an executive order requiring that the U.S. military's terrorist detention camp at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remain open.
     Christiana Coleman, a spokesperson for CBP, explained that the agency's Office of Training and Development (OTD) CBP Canine Program delivered a Fentanyl Detection Canine Pilot Course in June 2017. That course included training officers and staff on how to handle fentanyl. But now, the DHS says fentanyl is a danger to its officers and its K-9s.
     Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced this week additional security procedures and recommendations for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The additions include additional screening for certain nationals of countries identified as high-risk and periodic reviews of their status.
     And a U.S. senator plans to introduce legislation giving the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security responsibility to notify the public of incoming missile attacks - instead of state agencies.

CDC's leader resigns
     The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brenda Fitzgerald, resigned today, one day after Politico exposed purchases she had made in tobacco stocks after taking over as the head of the department.
     As CDC director, Fitzgerald was responsible for leading the charge on food safety, health threats, and other issues, including reducing the use of tobacco use, which is one the leading causes of preventable disease and death. Many observers saw her purchase of tobacco stocks as an ethical conflict of interest.
     The newly sworn-in Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar accepted Fitzgerald’s resignation, according to a statement issued today by HHS spokesman Matt Loyd. Fitzgerald had been in her role since July.
     After Fitzgerald took over as director of the CDC, she invested between $1,001 and $15,000 in one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, Japan Tobacco, Politico reported. "Like all presidential personnel, Dr. Fitzgerald’s financial holdings were reviewed by the HHS Ethics Office, and she was instructed to divest of certain holdings that may pose a conflict of interest," a HHS spokesman told Politico. Politico reported that it obtained records under the Stock Act that showed she waited more than four months to divest her shares. A spokesman for HHS said that "the potentially conflicting" stock purchases were "handled by her financial manager and that she subsequently sold them."

U.S. Army
     World War II veteran Millie Dunn Veasey turned 100 years old today. Veasey served in the Women’s Air Corps as a member of the "Six-Triple-Eight," an all female and all African-American unit which deployed to both England and France.
     The U.S. Army will evaluate a 6.5-mm Cased Telescoped Carbine System during its upcoming Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE). U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley has said he wants a roughly "10x capability improvements" in a range of areas, including infantry weapons.
     A U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan could be deported from America as soon as this week after a federal court denied his appeal to remain in the country, his lawyer has said. Miguel Perez, Jr., 39, a green-card holder and Chicago resident, recently finished a prison term on a narcotics charge.
     The ManTech International Corp. in Herndon, Va., today announced a $133 million award from the U.S. Army Intelligence & Security Command to support INSCOM's central mission of counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.
     Faced with a growing number of missile threats, the Pentagon is looking to the U.S. Army's field artillery to shoot down those incoming threats. An innovative system called the Hyper Velocity Projectile would allow the Army's heavy howitzers and the Navy's deck guns to fire projectiles that can down them.
     A three-year-old saga over a U.S. Army plan to buy more Airbus UH-72A Lakota helicopters has opened yet another potentially lengthy chapter after Leonardo filed a new legal challenge just as a federal appellate tribunal rejected the last one.
     The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems an $8 million contract to develop modernized precision-guidance kits that ensure the accuracy of its 155-millimeter artillery munitions. These kits enable munitions to make in-flight course corrections even in GPS-jammed environments.
     Lt. Col. (Dr.) Lionel Hector Herrra has died in Omaha, Neb. Herrera was recommissioned as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 2004 and held that rank until his retirement in 2010 when he commanded the 388th Medical Battalion, an Army Reserve Unit in Hays, Kansas.
     Leaders of the Georgia Army National Guard were highly esteemed visitors as House Resolution 902 recognized Jan. 25th as National Guard Day at the state capitol.
     A Utah Army National Guard helicopter chased a truck on Monday night after the vehicle allegedly pointed a green laser at it. According to Lt. Col. Steven Fairbourn, with the Utah Army National Guard, the incident occurred on Monday night at around 7:30 p.m.
     Army medical leaders said his week that a rash of North Carolina troops are being hospitalized for serious medical issues believed to have been caused by vaping oils is a priority. The remarks come one day after the U.S. Army Public Health Center issued a public health alert stating that approximately 60 soldiers and Marines in the state experienced serious medical issues after using e-cigarettes or vaping products that were marketed as containing cannabidiol, or CBD, oil. The cases occurred over the course of a few weeks. "We consider this emerging public health threat a top priority, and the Army Public Health Center continues to monitor this issue and provide updates as new information becomes available," said Chanel S. Weaver, a spokeswoman for the center. "Consumers must be extremely vigilant if they are going to use vaping oils and should seek medical attention immediately if they feel they are having an adverse reaction to one of these products." The Army Public Health Center, based at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, is tasked with promoting health and preventing disease, injury and disability in the Army community. Most of the hospitalized troops have been treated at the Naval Medical Center at Camp Lejeune, officials said. Nine of the suspected cases have been treated at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg.
     And in a combat environment, the knowledge of where a threat is could mean the difference between life and death. The Army gains the upper hand in identifying where threats are with the use of a lightweight small unmanned aerial system, sUAS, called the RQ-11 Raven. Military policemen with the 287th Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, based at Fort Riley, Kansas, are putting the Raven to use during the Allied Spirit VIII exercise held here from Jan. 15th-Feb. 5th at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, and enhancing their skills from prior training. Soldiers who operate the Raven go through a training course that teaches them how to conduct day and night operations with the equipment as well as how to perform basic maintenance on the system. "I went through the training back in Fort Riley, Kansas," said Army Spc. William Ritter, a military policeman with the 287th MP Company. Ritter and other soldiers in his unit are taking their knowledge learned from their training and applying it to the simulated situational training exercises they are conducting in Hohenfels. "Being able to use the system during Allied Spirit is a great advantage," Ritter said. "I am able to identify possible hazards or threats in the area almost instantly."

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy announces retirement
     U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced today that he will not seek re-election when filing begins in six weeks and instead plans to leave politics altogether when his current term ends.
     Gowdy, a former prosecutor, also led the Benghazi Committee which investigated the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as well as the response by the State Department, which was under the leadership of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the time.

Department of Veterans Affairs news

     Due to a Frontier Communications outage the Tampa, Fla., VA is today experiencing phone outages at some facilities and clinics. Hillsborough County 911 is affected as well. Other reports are coming in. Please let VA know if you experience problems connecting at one of its other locations. Either email them at: or on their Facebook page: . For emergencies: (Hillsborough County) call 813-231- 6130. For fire or medical services, call 813-232-6805. For unincorporated Hillsborough County call the non-emergency number: 813-247-8200 for ALL emergencies.
     Rebecca Golden was diagnosed with lung cancer and given a terminal prognosis. A dream trip to Hawaii appeared as if it would only be that: a dream - until a VA social worker stepped in.
     The three things all military veterans should highlight on their resume and in an interview are leadership, ability to follow and being a team player.
Over the last two years, 12-year-old Preston Sharp has organized the placement of more than 40,000 flags and red carnations at cemeteries, including Virginia's Quantico National Cemetery in September 2017 and the Eagle Point National Cemetery in December 2017.
     And u
nder President Trump's leadership, VA is engaged in the largest transformation and modernization effort in decades.

U.S. Air Force
      A man accused of killing a U.S. Air Force veteran has faced a judge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Forty-two-year-old Nakia Simmons appeared in court on Tuesday after he was accused of shooting 33-year-old Roy Brockington in the head.
     Officials are currently accepting nominations for the 2018 Air Force Sergeants Association's Pitsenbarger Award. The award is presented annually to an Air Force enlisted member who has performed a heroic act, on or off duty, which resulted in the saving of a life.
     Federal officials are testing the government's ability to identify gyrocopters and other small aircraft over Washington, D.C., nearly three years after a Florida mailman flew undetected past the White House before landing his 350-pound rotorcraft at the U.S. Capitol.
     Flight simulation experts at the L-3 Technologies Link Simulation & Training Division in Arlington, Texas, will upgrade the communications capabilities of 40 crew simulators designed to help unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots practice their skills and perform mission rehearsals.
     Gerhard Harder, the chairman of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service,  has presented the German Medal of Honor on Ribbon for Rescue Missions at Sea in Gold to Senior Master Sgt. George Taylor, the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 920th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's lead production superintendent.
     Robert Adler, a new recruit to the 910th Security Forces Squadron, held up an Air Force Reserve sign after taking the oath of enlistment to become a reserve citizen-airmen at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, on Jan. 29th. Col. Joe Janik, the 910th Airlift Wing's vice commander, adminstered the oath.
     The U.S. Army's
Fort Sill, Okla.'s Falcon Range surpassed 3,000 sorties in each of the past two fiscal years to become the busiest training range in the U.S. Air Force, according to Mark Kessens, the range operations officer.
     Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.'s physical therapist clinic is now open. Available times are 7:30 - 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In order to be seen by the clinic, you must have a referral from your primary care manager. For more information, contact the Peterson Air Force Base physical therapy clinic.
     The Minnesota
Air National Guard is planning on helping defend the site of the Super Bowl on Sunday. Those participating locally say the day will be a memorable one due to the idea that they will be protecting their home state through a massive coordination effort.
     Six instructors from the New York Air National Guard's 152nd Air Operations Group qualified 24 Air National Guard officers from across the United States to serve as members of Joint Air Component Coordination Elements (JACCE) during a two-day class at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 9th-10th.
     507th Air Refueling Wing Air Force Reserve citizen-airmen from Tinker AFB, Okla., flew 10 aerial refueling missions in a KC-135R Stratotanker, Jan. 10th-24th, in support of Exercise Sentry Aloha, hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
     A squadron of A-10 Warthogs from the Indiana Air National Guard are visiting to train at MacDill AFB, Fla., and the Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range.
     And Warrensburg Composite Squadron No. 139, of the Civil Air Patrol's Missouri Wing, has announced that Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Timothy D. Richner has received the squadron's Cadet of the Year Award for 2017, while Capt. Bradley D. Walker received the squadron's Senior Member of the Year Award.

Utah lawmaker wants death penalty option for those who kill ambulance drivers, private security officers
     Killing an ambulance driver or a private security officer could result in an aggravated murder charge eligible for the death penalty under a proposed law a Utah legislative committee backed on Monday.

U.S. Coast Guard
     U.S. Coast Guard crews had a busy couple of days after several rescues on Saginaw Bay. They're training to help people who fall in getting out. From quads falling through Saginaw Bay to trucks, it's been a busy time for the United States Coast Guard in Hampton Township, Mich.
The U.S. Coast Guard's new icebreakers will have the space, displacement and electric power for weapons when they enter service starting around 2023, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft has said. The coastal law-enforcement agency hasn't decided yet whether to actually add the weapons.
The U.S. Coast Guard has halted its latest round of efforts to break up the ice on Maine's frozen Kennebec River, as the thick sections of ice that have formed over the waterway haven't seemed to budge after contributing to destructive flooding in downtown Hallowell and Augusta two weeks ago.
     L3 Technologies announced today that it has delivered the first production HC-130J aircraft integrated with a next-generation Minotaur Mission System Suite (MSS+) to the U.S. Coast Guard for improved long-range surveillance capabilities.
The United States Coast Guard was called in to rescue not one, but two different women from the same Carnival cruise ship yesterday. Within about six hours, Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., crews were called on twice to rescue a woman from the same cruise ship. "It doesn't happen every day," Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton said.
     The Coast Guard rescued two boaters today after their vessel caught fire on the Indian River, near Titusville, Fla.
     The U.S. Coast Guard has medevaced a 50-year-old man with heart attack-like symptoms from the Port Canaveral, Fla.-based cruise ship Carnival Sunshine.
     Following an investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard has identified the vessel responsible for a Jan. 21st Cape Cod, Mass., oil spill that killed 29 seabirds. The Ocean King, a tugboat owned by Boston-based Patriot Marine, was deemed the responsible party for the incident.
     And the Coast Guard began chipping away on Monday at a dilapidated pier that likely holds the source of an oil sheen on the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon, in what is expected to be a multi-day effort.

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