News of the Force: Thursday, February 1, 2018 - Page 1

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Feb 1, 2018, 2:21:44 PM2/1/18
                                            NEWS OF THE FORCE: Thursday, February 1, 2018 - Page 1

Poll shows significant rebound in President Trump's approval rating
A recent poll from Monmouth University shows President Trump is rebounding from the record low approval numbers he received just a month ago. Forty-two percent of the roughly 800 participants said they are in favor of the job Trump is doing, while 50 percent indicated they are not. Though Trump is still shy of showing net positive numbers, the latest poll, which was conducted Jan. 28th to 30th, is a vast improvement over the 32 percent approval versus 56 percent disapproval reported in December.

Executions on the rise in North Korea
orth Korea has been executing corrupt military officials more frequently as pressure from sanctions rise, the commander of U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula revealed recently. "We’re seeing some increase in executions, mostly against political officers who are in military units, for corruption," General Vincent Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, said, adding that the North Korean regime’s brutal actions "are really about trying to clamp down on as much as possible on something that might be deteriorating and keeping it from deteriorating too quickly."
     North Korea is facing intense pressure from tough international sanctions imposed on the rogue regime for its ballistic missile and nuclear tests. Last year, North Korea tested five previously-unseen missile designs, including two inter-continental ballistic missiles and a staged thermonuclear bomb.
     A number of executions and purges were reported in 2017. For instance, Park In-young, a senior defense official in charge of the nuclear test site in North Korea, was reportedly executed in December 2017 for testing delays, a North Korean defector revealed. And Gen. Hwang Pyong-so, who disappeared in late 2107, is believed to have been executed for corruption, specifically taking bribes.

U.S. president vows a 'muscular America'
     U.S. President Donald Trump sketched out an ominous view of America's international role on Tuesday, emphasizing adversaries over allies, threats over opportunities, and a world to be pacified rather than elevated.
     President Trump in his State of the Union speech hailed the family of Otto Warmbier as "powerful witnesses" to North Korea's horrors - as the Warmbier family watched from a guest box in the U.S. Capitol Building.
     Just as Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night - in which he claimed that we had entered a "new moment for America" - a consortium of prominent analysts and economists studying democracies around the world ranked the U.S. as a "flawed democracy." The Economist's Democracy Index finds that the gradual erosion of democracy around the world continued last year, with 89 of 167 countries in the rankings considered less democratic than the year prior.

Carnage in Kabul
In little more than a week, the Afghan capital suffered three brutal terrorist attacks that killed at least 130 people and injured hundreds of others.

Australia's domestic intelligence service takes possession of secret files left at thrift shore
Australia's domestic spy agency today took possession of thousands of classified documents that were left at a second-hand furniture shop as the government struggles to contain an embarrassing security lapse.

North and South Korea report flu outbreaks
     As athletes and tourists arrive in South Korea ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, health officials on the Korean Peninsula are battling two strains of influenza.

Indian Air Force officer held on espionage charges
An Indian Air Force (IAF) group captain, posted at the IAF's headquarter, has been taken into custody by the force for alleged involvement in espionage and a possible attempt to access sensitive documents.

Arrested reporters brought to court
Two Reuters journalists accused of violating Myanmar's colonial-era Official Secrets Act were brought to a district court today where, according to a defense lawyer, the judge is due to rule on a bail request.

Poland's foreign minister sees 'no reason' to modify bill criticized by Israel
By Lisa Levine, News of the Force Tel Aviv
     Poland's foreign minister yesterday said he saw "no reason" his country should modify a proposed law that could mean a jail term for anyone who accuses the nation of being complicit in Nazi German crimes during World War II.
Polish lawmakers approved draft legislation today penalizing suggestions of any complicity by Poland in the Nazi Holocaust on its soil during World War II, defying criticism by Israel and the United States.
     Israel's defense minister said yesterday that Lebanon would "pay the full price" for Iran's entrenchment in any future war, the latest in a series of Israeli warnings about Tehran's growing presence in neighboring Lebanon and Syria. "There won't be pictures like the ones from the Second Lebanon War showing people on the beach in Beirut while Tel Aviv residents sat in bomb shelters," he said.
     Israel described as "very provocative" yesterday a Lebanese offshore oil and gas exploration tender in disputed territory on the countries' maritime border, and said it was a mistake for international firms to participate.
     Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday Israel will retain security control over the Palestinians as part of any future peace deal, deepening Palestinian fears that Israel and the Trump administration are "colluding."
     The Trump administration announced yesterday a slate of new sanctions on an Iranian-backed terror organization and its top allies in the Hamas movement, according to an announcement that is being viewed as part of an effort to disrupt the Islamic State.
     The Israeli security forces have detained Bassam Abd al-'Aziz al-Hajj Muhammad, 42, from the village of Beit Furik (Nablus region). He attempted to enter the community of Itamar in Samaria while in uniform (not an IDF uniform). He was detained and taken for interrogation.
     A member of the Hamas terror group was killed while working on a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, the organization said yesterday.
     And Palestinian protesters disrupted a meeting between American officials and a Palestinian trade group in the West Bank on Tuesday, shouting at the American participants and pelting their vehicles with tomatoes.

     Couzin Gym's Thought for the Day: Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest of them bad names.

Homeland insecurity
     The Trump administration said yesterday that it would allow nearly 7,000 Syrians to remain in the United States for another 18 months, but won't let more Syrian citizens apply for the special protection program. The TPS decision rests with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who granted the full 18-month extension - the longest allowed under the law -  to Syrians who were in the U.S. as of Oct. 1, 2016, and are unable to return home because of unrest.
     A top Russian spy official under sanctions by the U.S. met with his counterparts in Washington, D.C., just days before President Donald Trump decided not to issue any extra sanctions for now against Russian politicians and oligarchs.
     St. John's University's School of Law and College of Professional Studies (CPS) invited Jeh Charles Johnson, J.D., and more than 400 members of the St. John's community to the event "A Guardian's Memoirs: Fifteen Years after the Creation of the Department of Homeland Security" yesterday.
     A detained immigrant activist freed by a judge's ruling said this week that U.S. immigration officials are engaging in
"psychological warfare" by targeting him and other activists for detention and deportation.
    The Department of Homeland Security doesn't have central system to track contractor suspensions and debarments, and it doesn't adequately update what it has, according to a recent inspector general's report. The report, issued on Jan. 25th, was requested in 2016 by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
    And USCIS has decided to give precedence to the most recently filed asylum applications in a bid to stem its backlog. The agency announced it will return to a "first in, last out approach" to interviews, an approach that was used routinely until 2014.

Mattis wants to ban cellphones from the Pentagon
     Secretary of Defense James Mattis is reportedly considering banning personal cellphones from the Pentagon. Mattis wants to prohibit all U.S. military and civilian personnel from bringing their phones into the Defense Department's head- quarters, which is the largest office building in the world housing approximately 23,000 military and civilian workers.
     Mattis' request is under review, and a final decision has not yet been made. Three Defense officials tasked with reviewing the issue said the recent security breach of remote military bases by the fitness app Strava emphasized the need for the review, and it was ordered after Mattis communicated his goal of banning personal cellphones in the building.

U.S. Coast Guard
The Coast Guard will continue to evolve in response to natural disasters and threats to our national security. This service places significant emphasis on homeland security operations and intelligence analysis, and the further development of Intelligence Fusion Centers and the Coast Guard's deployable assets.
er around 1:15 p.m. "We received a request for assistance from Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Trenton regarding two individuals who were walking on the ice just north of the Ambassador Bridge who appear to have fallen through," said Lt. Ben Chamberlain, the Command Center Chief for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit. "It appears they did recover one person unresponsive and the other person is still being searched for at this time," he added. Windsor Police Const. Andy Drouillard confirmed one person was pulled from the water by Windsor fire crews and transported to a hospital. "Officers were responding to a call of two people in the Detroit River - one body was recovered in the area of California and Riverside, just down the river, and we believe there is still one person still outstanding," he added. Emergency crews searched the water with the help of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and ice rescue team for several hours yesterday afternoon.
     The United States Coast Guard has expressed satisfaction at the compliance level of Nigeria with the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) Facility Code at that nation's ports.
     The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this month assessing progress the U.S. Coast Guard has made since terminating its EHR contract with Epic in 2015. In February 2016, the Coast Guard began the process to acquire a new EHR system, however, it has not made a final decision. The U.S. Coast Guard wasted five years and nearly $60 million on a failed electronic health records system without anything to show for it and currently relies on paper records to document its health services, the GAO says. The U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing on Tuesday on the project and the military branch's ongoing efforts to find a new electronic medical records vendor.
     The United States Coast Guard has been an instrumental player in Florida's annual Bradenton Area River Regatta through the permitting process and on-site protection of the Manatee River waterway. And now it will be a more visible participant. U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg will actively participate in this year's regatta.
     The U.S. Coast Guard is advising all mariners to exercise caution after a large marine debris field was last observed in the Ka Iwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu, Hawaii. A fisherman first reported the debris on Saturday, which at the time was about 9.5 miles south of the Koko Crater and stretched over two miles long.
      Coast Guard crews rescued five fisherman who had to abandon their ship due to flooding west of Cape Alava, near Neah Bay, Wash., yesterday, the Coast Guard said. There were no injuries. The Coast Guard said it received a report at 1:14 p.m. that the 87-foot fishing vessel Sunnfjord was flooding and that their pumps were unable to keep up with the rising water. While responders were en route, the fishermen reported they had their survival suits on. The crew of USCGC Cuttyhunk readied their rescue swimmer, but the Motor Lifeboat (MLB) from Station Quillayute River arrived and was able to pick up the fishermen instead. "The crew of the Cuttyhunk remained on scene to observe the condition of the Sunnfjord, which sank approximately six miles offshore in an estimated 300-feet of water with a about 800 gallons of diesel reported aboard," the Coast Guard said.
     And within the Coast Guard Auxiliary, there are four cornerstones that help direct its functions: Member Services, Recreational Boating Safety, Operations and Marine Safety, and Fellowship. These are the foundations from which all of its activities evolve.

U.S. House Republicans retiring in droves
Forget running for re-election. House Republicans are running for the exits instead. Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy - the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee - became the third GOP lawmaker in just the last week to announce plans to retire.

U.S. Air Force
The U.S. Air Force recently awarded Lockheed Martin an $81 million Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) contract to provide a design and functional prototype to replace the aging Airborne Launch Control System aboard the E-6B Mercury Airborne Command Post.
     The Air Force has selected 467 active duty officers for promotion to colonel in the Chaplain, Line of the Air Force (LAF) and Nurse Corps, and to lieutenant colonel in the Chaplain and LAF-Judge Advocate competitive categories.
     An active duty member of the U.S. Air Force faces charges of felony hit and run and obstructing an investigation after hitting a 5-year-old boy with his vehicle and fleeing the scene, the police n Goldsboro, N.C. say. More charges are expected against 23-year-old Russell Charles Dinkins, of Best Street in Goldsboro.
     The 19th Air Force commander has issued an operational pause for all T-6 Texan II operations to ensure aircrew safety after a cluster of unexplained physiological events occurred at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., Vance AFB, Okla., and other bases.
     Red Flag is the Air Force's top air war training exercise, bringing together USAF fighter, bomber, tanker, and ISR squadrons with select allies for coordinated training over the 5,000 square-mile Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). Red Flag 2018 kicked off last week.
     The US Air Force has released a request for information (RFI) for industry proposals for a "fixed-wing small UAS (SUAS) of less than 3 lbs."
      Great power competition is back, and its emphasis in the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy is a recognition of something "we should have recognized 10 years ago," the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast this week. Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva said the strategies recognize that competition among the United States, Russia and China will dominate foreign relations in the coming years. "We have spent the last 10 years observing a world where China is ascendant and Russia is accumulating wealth and influence across the Asian and European continents," he said. "And the United States is engaged with both." If there were no conflict or friction points among the nations, then it would be "just normal commerce," Selva said. But that is not the case, he added. Russia took two provinces from the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 2008. It illegally annexed Ukraine in 2014 and continues to support insurgents in the eastern part of the country. Russia supports the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. China is building artificial islands in the South China Sea and proclaiming extraterritorial claims, Selva said. The Chinese also are investing heavily in defense capabilities and not being transparent, he added. "There have been and there remain friction points between Russia, China and the United States," the general said. "So, to say it’s not a great power competition, to say that we are not all vying for a place on the world’s economic stage, on the world’s political stage, and even on the national security stage is actually ignoring what’s real." The National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy have explained what should have been obvious, the general told the group. "Our relationship has to be defined by the way we are conducting ourselves, not the way we wish we would conduct ourselves," he said. China, Russia and the United States are competing for influence globally, the general said. "If that doesn’t define a great power competition, I don’t know what does," he added. "That doesn’t presume we will have a global war. That doesn’t assume that the competition ends in violence. But if you don’t understand the competition at the front end that strength actually matters in competitions - economic, political or military strength - then you’re ignoring history." The great power competition will last years and will be fundamental in how national security policy and foreign policy are debated and formed for decades to come, Selva said.
     Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, the commander of the Air Force Reserve Command, posthumously presented the Meritorious Service Medal  on Jan. 27th to Albert and Shirley Adams, the family of the late Master Sgt Sophia Gibbs.
     Klamath County, Oregon, Circuit Court Judge Dan Bunch has been selected to serve as an assistant to the Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG). Bunch has been with the Oregon Air National Guard since 2000 after spending time in the Air Force Reserve since 1998, and the Air Force since 1994.
     In DeKalb County, Ga., a mother accused of leaving her child in a hot car to die while she got her hair done pleaded guilty and was sentenced yesterday. Dijanelle Fowler, the 25-year-old mother of 1-year-old Skylar Fowler, was in court on yesterday morning, pleading guilty to second degree murder and other charges. "I will admit that I made a poor decision," she told the judge while in court. "If I could trade my life right now, to have her here even just for a day, I would. And any person, inside or outside this courtroom, that tries to deny the love that I have for my daughter did not know me and did not know the relationship I had with her." Fowler was charged with second degree murder, child cruelty and concealing the death of another. She faced a maximum of 40 years in prison. After hearing witness impact statements from a number of family relatives, the father of Skylar, Louis Williams, stood before the court to deliver an emotional statement. Williams had been deployed to the Middle East with the Air Force Reserve at the time of his daughter's death. "There's no way it could have been an accident," Williams said in court, as he requested that the court follow the District Attorney's recommendation and sentence Fowler to the maximum possible sentence of 40 years. Judge Linda W. Hunter sentenced Fowler to a total of 15 years to serve, plus 5 years of probation. Police said the mother left the child in the car for about six hours on June 15, 2017, when she was at a hair salon in Tucker, Ga. The mother says she left the engine running and the air conditioner on. But the car cut off, the air conditioner shut down, and officers say Fowler likely hid the child while someone helped her to restart the car. They say she went to an Emory medical facility and called 911 from there, saying she was having a seizure. Skylar's body was found in the back seat Louis Williams, Skylar's father, had been deployed overseas with the Air Force Reserve at the time of the death.
     The sun is setting on the Colorado Air National Guard's 200th Airlift Squadron located at Peterson Air Force Base. The Pentagon plans to dissolve the 30 person unit at the end of May.
     Yesterday's mid-air refueling between two F-16s from the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth and a KC-135R Stratotanker, from the Wisconsin Air National Guard in Milwaukee, was one exercise in a yearlong process to secure the skies above the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis during the Super Bowl. The two F-16 jets with the Minnesota Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth practiced a flyover over downtown Minneapolis just before 3 p.m., yesterday. The planned U.S. Air Force training exercise sent reverberations so loud that it set off some car alarms, witnesses said. And a rogue airplane in yesterday's training was played by a Cessna flown by the Civil Air Patrol. Kevin Dunlevy, a Civil Air Patrol pilot, said the training ensures that Air National Guard pilots are comfortable flying slow and low with a small plane.
     In a message received though our website today: "Please report on what is happening in the Civil Air Patrol's Illinois Wing with the former wing commander and vice commander resigning and a group commander being put in suspension this week. The interim wing commander needs to be held to high standards of cleaning up. He was heard last night saying he could kick out anyone he didn't get along with. That type of attitude is what has the CAP being the mess it is. Anyone who speaks up is kicked out or retaliated against."
     A woman is dead and her husband injured after a plane crashed in in Scott County, Tenn. Erin Patton, an Ohio woman, posted on Facebook that her parents, Vicki and David Maxwell, and their dog, were flying from Florida to Ohio on Tuesday when their plane disappeared. An aircraft from the U.S. Air Force's Civil Air Patrol flew over the region during the overnight hours and was able to ping the missing plane but was unable to determine its exact location due to the rugged terrain. However, the ping gave rescue workers a starting point.
     A family that serves together learns together. Lydia Anderson was so excited about what she was learning in the Civil Air Patrol she encouraged her mom, Jill, to sign up as an adult cadet. The mother-daughter duo serve with the CAP's Mercer County (Pa.) Composite Squadron 122, and both are learning to lead. Lydia serves as cadet captain in the squadron and recently earned the Amelia Earhart Award through a series of mental and physical tests. She also received a citation from State Rep. Chris Sainato. "That is a major accomplishment," Sainato said. "That is amazing for a local student in Lawrence County to receive that prestigious award. I think it tells you that she is very dedicated to the CAP. We work with the CAP in Harrisburg. Our committee, we have had a great working relationship and the work they do." Lydia said a lot of hard work went into earning the milestone. "I had to take a comprehensive leadership test, a comprehensive aerospace test, and participate actively in instructing and mentoring younger cadets," Lydia said. "There was a lot of character development type things, information-wise, as well as attending sessions of character, teaching character. I had to meet a lot of standards the squadron sets for me. We base test results off the Presidential Fitness Test. Then with our end achievement it is based off the United States Air Force Officer Candidate School requirements." While Lydia hasn't ruled out serving in the military, the Shenango High School senior is planning to attend Westminster College and study biology with a concentration on a pre-medical track. Lydia found the Civil Air Patrol when she was a freshman and it has provided her with an opportunity for personal growth. "The more I stuck with it, the more I figured out it was a really good program and I could do a lot of things in it," Lydia said. "Now, I am not the little kid going into it looking at stuff. I am the one showing little kids what it is all about. So that is really nice.” Lydia said she has gone through different schools on her path to leadership. "I went through a basic encampment and a couple leadership schools," Lydia said. "From the time I joined I have moved from squadrons to squadron. So it has worked out that I met a lot of people, gotten to experience different kinds of leadership and learned. "I know how to do public speaking, which a lot of kids in my class don't even know how to do. I know how to write all sorts of memorandums, pamphlets, action reports and paperwork. I know how to do work and not complain about it. I know what time management is now. I am not failing all my AP classes, so it is invaluable." As a cadet captain, Lydia learned how to communicate effectively with other cadets and superior officers. "I know how to complete a bunch of paperwork for all the different events I am in," Lydia said. "I continue leading and learning. I've been to two different leadership schools, a leadership development course, and a regional cadet leadership school. I have learned all the aspects of leadership and the different styles of leadership, and how to compensate if you are not doing well in one with another." Lydia plans to remain active in the Civil Air Patrol while in college and into her adult life. "I will be a cadet until I am 21,” Lydia said. "At that point, I transition to being an adult member to where I have more abilities to help cadets. I can more effectively plan things because I won't have the restrictions of being a kid in the program. I am not just going to be getting thrown in blind to it. I will be able to really understand what my work entails and do it thoroughly and effectively." Lydia believes that everything she is learning in the Civil Air Patrol will help her when she starts her career. "I want to go into the medical field," Lydia said. "That is a lot of knowing when you need to make a call and knowing when to listen to someone. I really know how to do that very well, weigh my options and make an effective choice. I will be able to respectfully dissent if I know something is wrong rather than just saying 'You are wrong.' I can spell out my reasons and effectively do that."
     And the unit flag was passed from the outgoing Sevier Valley Unit commander, 1st Lt. Barry Willden, to the Utah Wing commander, who then passed it to the incoming unit commander, 1st Lt. TeriLee Hammond. The ceremony symbolized the change of command for the Sevier Valley unit of the Civil Air Patrol. Willden has been involved with the CAP for the past eight years, the last four of which as the unit commander. "I had two sons join," Willden said. When he saw the positive benefits the CAP cadet program offered his boys, Willden said he decided to join as a senior member. The CAP cadet program offers youths many opportunities to develop and have experiences they otherwise wouldn’t, Willden said. He said the senior members supervise the cadets, but the cadets follow a military rank system among themselves. This allows youths to develop leadership skills and discipline. Cadets also have opportunities to go on flights and learn about aerospace technology. Willden said both of his sons went on to join the Utah Air National Guard, so the time invested as cadets was well spent. "It’s a good youth supporting program," Willden said. "It helps them develop leadership and teamwork. That’s the big thing." Willden will continue to be a senior member, as Hammond takes up the reigns of unit leadership.

News from the Department of Veterans Affairs
      While many veterans receive good mental health care through the VA, it's inconsistent across the system, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps
     As the weekend concluded for most Navy Reserve members, it had just begun for members who remained on orders to begin the four-year process of coordinating reserve support for the next presidential inauguration.
     Joe Cardona is a highly-disciplined guy who played college football at the U.S. Naval Academy. He will play in Sunday's Super Bowl, just he played in the last one, only after receiving permission to reschedule his weekend duty with his U.S. Navy Reserve unit.
     The top U.S. defense and aerospace company, Boeing, yesterday announced the start of modification of MV-22 Osprey aircraft for U.S. Marine Corps under a multi-million dollar contract.
     Antonio "Tony" Colmenares, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps who worked under former Miami, Fla., Mayor Tomas Regalado, was arrested yesterday after he and a friend were accused of stealing $300,000 of donated items meant to help military veterans in need.
      The Japanese government has decided to send in a group of specialists to check the safety and maintenance of U.S. helicopters stationed in Japan. The decision comes after a series of emergency landings and other safety incidents involving U.S. Marine Corps helicopters stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps base on Okinawa.
      "Nordic Frost" is an annual two-week exercise conducted by Reserve Marines to train in cold weather in the midst of the mountainous terrain at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho, Vermont, to ensure that they are ready to "fight tonight" and respond to the nation's calls.
      And Reconnaissance Marines with the 4th Force Reconnaissance Company hosted amphibious training events as part of a preparation course for prospective reconnaissance Marines at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 22nd-23rd. The preparation course runs from Jan. 3rd-Feb. 2nd, and aims to prepare Marine Corps Reserve students for the stresses of the Basic Reconnaissance Course by offering a broad, realistic curriculum, challenging them both mentally and physically.

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