FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 19 through 22, 2017

New Sanctions for North Korea

I’ve stated before here in FOD, I don’t believe sanctions against North Korea will have the desired effect of divesting their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.  Kim Jong Un has consistently pursued a path of acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them in spite of the world’s desires for diminish his resolve to the point of allowing millions of his own people to die of starvation.  Lack of cash however, might have the effect of at least slowing North Korea’s efforts. China’s banks in particular have been willing to launder Kim Jong Un’s money for years.  Only recently, the Department of  the Treasury took actions against the Bank of Dandong over concerns that it was participating in illicit financial activities with North Korea — an early signal to Chinese financial institutions of U.S. willingness to increase pressure on entities that do business with Pyongyang.  On 21 September 2017, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he had signed an executive order authorizing additional sanctions against North Korea by targeting individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with what he called “this criminal rogue regime.”  Speaking before a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said his goal is the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea and added that the nation led by Kim Jong Un posed a “grave threat to peace and security in our world.”  Trump noted that he’d signed the executive order just as China’s central bank “has told their other banks … to immediately stop doing business with North Korea.” The president praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for the “very bold move.”  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (photo right) confirmed that he did call the People’s Bank of China early Thursday morning to alert them to this coming action, but skirted the question when asked if these sanctions were specifically aimed at China.  “This action is directed at everyone,” Mnuchin said, calling the executive order a significant expansion of Treasury’s power to target the Kim regime and those financial entities and individuals who seek to do business with it. The executive order is “forward looking,” meaning Treasury will consider new designations on a “rolling basis” from Thursday on.  So far, the administration has sought to pressure Pyonyang largely through forceful economic steps, including Thursday’s latest action and U.N. Security Council sanctions earlier this month. The President has this right.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 19 through 22, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 14th through 18th 2017

Friends of FOD

If you recall an event you believe the group might be interested in, drop me a comment and I’ll research it and add it to the blog.

I accomplished some good work on the ’31 Chevy last week: picked up the newly powder coated frame (it’s a grey color), installed 4 bar rear suspension, resealed differential, serviced it with gear oil, installed front and rear shocks, removed transmission from engine, serviced and installed torque converter, installed flywheel, reinstalled transmission and engine and installed on frame, installed gas tank, installed all fuel lines and brake lines, bled brake system, installed drive shaft, began installation of engine electrical harness, filled transmission with fluid, filled engine with oil, installed alternator and air conditioner compression belts, visited the body at the body guy’s shop (it’s coming along), sent the new hood out for primer coating and of course spent a bunch of money on other parts I’ll need in the near future.  It’s beginning to look like a car, well at least a completed chassis.

 

 

 

 

Russia Launches Operation Zapad in Belarus On Anniversary of Soviet Invasion of Poland

Russia and Belarus launched Operation Zapad, an ongoing joint strategic military exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus (the Union State) that began on 14 September 2017, conducted in Belarus as well as in Russia‘s Kaliningrad Oblast and Russia′s other north-western areas. According to the information made public by the Defense Ministry of Belarus prior to the exercise, fewer than 13,000 personnel of the Union State are to take part in the military maneuvers, a number that does not trigger mandatory formal notification and invitation of observers under the OSCE‘s Vienna Document.  Western analysts, however, believed in July 2017 that the total number of Russian troops, security personnel and civilian officials to be involved in the broader war-games will range from 60,000 to 100,000, which would make them Russia’s largest since the Cold War.  Since 2016, concerns have been voiced in a number of NATO countries over Russia’s suspected ulterior motives and objectives in connection with the exercise.  And on 17 September 2017, the mobilization for combat portion of the exercise will begin and will for the first time include participation by units of the Baltic Fleet.  Generally speaking it will be an opportunity for Russia and Belarus to practice a major exercise in rapidly mobilizing and deploying a combined force close to its Western frontier.  And this sword rattling will have the US and our allies in the region watching closely how and in what strengths Russia is able to move its troops.  Poland, who shares a border with Belarus, is particularly concerned with observing what the Russians will do in particular.  They have reason to be concerned as September 17, 1939 marks the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.  You’ll recall the German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939.  On September 3, 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany, but failed to provide any meaningful support for Polish army outnumbered, and vastly inferior to the German invading forces.  German began to pressure the Soviets to invade Poland from the east, but Stalin waited several days.  Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German ambassador to Moscow Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg exchanged a series of diplomatic messages on the matter but the Soviets nevertheless delayed their invasion of eastern Poland. The Soviets were distracted by crucial events relating to their ongoing border disputes with Japan.

They needed time to mobilize the Red Army and they saw a diplomatic advantage in waiting until Poland had disintegrated before making their move.  The undeclared war between the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in the Far East ended with the MolotovTojo agreement between the USSR and Japan which was signed on 15 September 1939, with a ceasefire taking effect on 16 September 1939.  (Why yes that’s the same Molotov as the Molotov cocktail).  On 17 September 1939, Molotov delivered the following declaration of war to Wacław Grzybowski, the Polish Ambassador in Moscow: On that morning, 16 days after Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. The Red Army entered the eastern regions of Poland with seven field armies, containing between 450,000 and 1,000,000 troops.  The invasion and the battle lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by both Germany and the Soviet Union.  The photo above shows the German and Russian commanders shaking hands after the defeat of Poland.  The joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly agreed to in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on 23 August 1939.  The Red Army, which vastly outnumbered the Polish defenders, achieved its targets by using strategic and tactical deception. Some 230,000 Polish prisoners of war were captured.  The campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas began immediately. In November 1939 the Soviet government ostensibly annexed the entire Polish territory under its control. Some 13.5 million Polish citizens who fell under the military occupation were made into new Soviet subjects following mock elections conducted by the NKVD secret police in the atmosphere of terror, the results of which were used to legitimize the use of force. The Soviet campaign of ethnic cleansing began with the wave of arrests and summary executions of officers, policemen and priests.  Over the next year and a half, the Soviet NKVD sent hundreds of thousands of people from eastern Poland to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves of deportation between 1939 and 1941.  Soviet forces occupied eastern Poland until the summer of 1941, when they were driven out by the invading German army in the course of Operation Barbarossa. The timing I don’t believe is coincidence.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 14th through 18th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 12th through 14th, 2017

T-45 OBOGS News – No News

In a FOD update from the last edition, Marine Times reports, After more than two months, the Navy still has no idea what is causing serious problems with the OBOGS (On-Board Oxygen Generating System) oxygen systems in its training aircraft and fighters.  “We’re not doing well on the diagnosis,” Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, Naval Air Systems Command , told lawmakers on Tuesday. “To date, we have been unable to find any smoking gun.”  In April, the Navy temporarily grounded all of its T-45 training jets after dozens of instructor pilots refused to fly, citing a spike in pilots suffering from dangerous symptoms caused by a lack of oxygen or contaminants in the oxygen system. FOD and Navy Times first reported in May 2016 that Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers also experience oxygen system failures with alarming regularity.

170320-N-QI061-024
ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the optimized fleet response plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

Worse: The potentially catastrophic failures have been becoming more frequent.  Most of the problems in the T-45s involve breathing gas, while the F/A-18s tend to have problems with cockpit pressurization, Grosklags told the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee on Tuesday.  The Navy has literally torn T-45s apart at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where investigators have tested every single component in the aircraft, yet the root cause for the problem remains elusive, he said.  “To date, we have not been able to discover a toxin or a contaminant in the breathing gas, despite our testing,” Grosklags said. And in a related story, the Air Force’s variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is also experiencing problems with its oxygen systems. Flight operations at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, have been suspended after five pilots from the 56th Fighter wing reported suffering symptoms from lack of oxygen.  In May 2012, F-22 Raptor pilots went public with their concerns about the aircraft’s oxygen system. Two months later, the Air Force determined the cause of the problem was a valve on the pilot’s Combat Edge life support vest, which improperly tightened, making it harder for the pilots to breathe. More news as FOD hears about it.

 

Senators Push Bill to Raise Military Pay

Frustrated over increasing issues with military salaries, a pair of senators on Wednesday June 14th will introduce new legislation to ensure “equal compensation” among senior enlisted service members and limit the president’s ability to reduce troops’ pay raises, according to Military Times.    Under the measure, the president would no longer be able to use “economic concerns” as a reason to decouple the military pay raise from the Employment Cost Index, which estimates private sector wage growth.  The bill — sponsored by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — could affect President Trump’s plans for the 2018 military pay raise, if lawmakers finalize the measure before the end of August.  But it faces an uncertain future, given the busy budget schedule facing Congress in coming weeks and the restrictions it would place on the executive branch.  Both Trump and President Barack Obama used that clause in recent years to offer smaller-than-expected pay raises for troops, redirecting the money to other readiness and modernization accounts. The bill sponsors criticized that as bad policy. “Our men and women in uniform serve this country with honor,” said Warren in a statement. “They know they won’t get rich in the military, but they serve with skill and dedication, and they are entitled to basic pay increases that will give them a chance to build some economic security.”  Trump’s suggested pay increase for 2018 is 2.1 percent, equal to the 2018 pay raise but 0.3 percentage points below the Employment Cost Index figure.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 12th through 14th, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 03 through 05, 2017

Grand Slam Record

On Saturday there were 7 grand slams hit in Major League Baseball.  That has never happened in the history of the game.  Albert Pujols joined the 600-home run club on Saturday night, and he did it in a way that’s never been done before: via a spectacular, 363-foot grand slam.  The Angels’ 37-year-old slugger delivered his record-setting blast in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game against the Twins, skying a pitch from Ervin Santana into the left field bleachers. No one begrudged him the long moment he took to admire the ball as it drifted back over the wall. It was a moment he — along with an estimated 40,236 Angels fans — deserved to savor.

 

 

Global Allies Call For Continued FON Ops in South China Sea

Defense News reports, speakers at an Asian security summit have called for a continuation of U.S. Navy freedom of navigation (FON) patrols in the South China Sea, with the dispute still on participants’ minds even as other regional security challenges have made the news in recent weeks. In their respective speeches, the defense ministers of Australia and Japan have supported U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ assertion that the U.S. military will continue to operate in spaces allowed by international law in their respective speeches at the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore.  Organized by the International Institute of Strategic Studies or IISS (Asia), the event brings together government and non-governmental defense and security professionals from Asia and around the world to discuss regional events, and is the biggest such summit in the region.   In his speech at the first plenary session on Saturday, Mattis said the U.S. military , “We will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows and demonstrate resolve through operational presence in the South China Sea and beyond,” adding that “our operations throughout the region are an expression of our willingness to defend both our interests and the freedoms enshrined in international law.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 03 through 05, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 24th through 26th, 2017

Congratulations to the Classes of 2017

A special congratulation goes out the future leaders of our armed services and our nation.  Today, as I’m drafting this, May 26, 2017, the senior classes of the US Naval Academy, the US Military Academy and the US Air Force Academy are receiving their degrees and their commissions as officers in their respective services.  Thank you for your dedication and your efforts to date.  Your work has just begun and more than ever we value and appreciate your leadership.

 

Memorial Day Weekend

As we observe and enjoy the unofficial beginning of summer (I thought it would never get here), let us take a moment to remember all those who gave their last full measure in defense of  our nation this Memorial DayThe holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers.  By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.  Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.  The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day,” which was first used in 1882.  Memorial Day did not become the more common name until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967.  On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.  The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.  After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted Congress’ change of date within a few years.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 24th through 26th, 2017”