Be careful when you follow the masses. Sometimes the M is silent.
Russians Supplying Arms To The Taliban
In the 1980’s insurgent groups known collectively as the mujahideen, as well as smaller Maoist groups, fought a guerrilla war against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan government, mostly in the rural countryside. The mujahideen groups were backed primarily by the United States and Pakistan, making it a Cold Warproxy war using the infrared-homing surface-to-air “Stinger” missile. Between 562,000 and 2,000,000 civilians were killed and millions of Afghans fled the country as refugees, mostly to Pakistanand Iran. By mid-1987 the Soviet Union, now under reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, announced it would start withdrawing its forces after meetings with the Afghan government. The final troop withdrawal started on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989, leaving the government forces alone in its battle against the insurgents, which continued until 1992 when the former Soviet-backed government collapsed. These actions certainly weakened and led to the fall of the Soviet Union. The US failed to assist the new Afghanistan government with schools or hospitals or a rebuilding effort that could have assisted Afghanistan to become a more modern nation. Move to the present day. In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Gen John Nicholson said he’d seen “destabilizing activity by the Russians.” He said Russian weapons were smuggled across the Tajik border to the Taliban, but could not say in what quantity. Russia has denied such US allegations in the past, citing a lack of evidence. Does anyone see an irony here?
Sorry for the delay in getting this edition out. I had a lot of stuff goin’ on!
How About Those Yankees!
I wrote and then rewrote Yankee win stories three times this week, because I didn’t get around to publishing the next edition of FOD. Home field has diffidently had its place in this year’s American League Championship Series, as every game was won by the home team.
The Yanks certainly had opportunities along the way to win another game, but that’s baseball. At the beginning of spring training no one imagined Aaron Judge would have the success he and the Yankees enjoyed. In fact he didn’t make the team until the last few days. Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird contributed mightily down the stretch and we had good pitching. The team has excellent prospects in their minor league system and likely we’ll see new names and new faces next spring. Until then there’s a good World Series to watch and comment on.
A lot of FOD to pick up. Comments welcomed of course.
Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts
We’re just beginning to grasp the scope of the devastation to Puerto Rico. This American territory has been holding on by a thread for years and has been on the verge of bankruptcy several times. Its infrastructure was already substandard and in need of major overhaul prior to Maria. Military Times is reporting, two U.S. Navy ships, National Guard, Air National Guard, Reserve troops and Army helicopters are providing aid to Puerto Rico. But questions are mounting over whether the U.S. is doing enough for its territory and people, who are American citizens. To date, the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and dock landing ship Oak Hill have “conducted eight medical evacuations, 148 airlifts and delivered 44,177 [pounds] of relief supplies and cargo to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement. U.S. forces have also restored a mobile communications tower at St. Thomas International Airport to enable the airport to receive additional aircraft to evacuate residents. The amphibious assault ship Wasp has been conducting similar rescues in Dominica, but that ship will be departing the region to head to the Pacific, where it will eventually relieve the Bonhomme Richard, a Navy official said. Approximately 2,600 U.S. military personnel and National Guard members are currently involved in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, the Pentagon said. Currently, more than 700 Air National Guard airmen are deployed to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support relief efforts. Most of Puerto Rico has no electricity or cell phone capabilities because of Hurricane Maria’s damage to the electrical grid and cell towers. There are long lines for food and water. Likely we’ll need to do more and the more is likely to continue for years.
USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain Take Another Top Officer
Friends of FOD – How did you observe the solar eclipse? All the best photos are on the internet, but I enjoyed seeing the solar eclipse in Boise, ID, thanks to Friends of FOD Roger and Glorie. Thanks to both of you! And I also got to do some fishing on the Boise River. Notice I said fishing and not catching. But a good time was had by all. Good stories appreciated.
Another Collision At Sea
USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) an Arleigh Burke-classdestroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flaggedAlnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing and five were injured following the collision, which happened at 5:24 a.m. Singapore time (5:24 p.m. ET Sunday), according to the Navy’s latest update issued around nine-and-a-half hours later. And the search continues as of August 21st. After the collision the ship, which sustained damage to her port side aft, was able to return to port under her own power. According to United States Navy press release, the breach “resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Initial casualty reports indicate ten sailors missing and five sailors injured. Admiral John M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations (below left) has ordered an “operational pause” or safety stand down for a day to “include,
but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment.”
The Strait of Malacca is one of the most heavily transited bodies of water in the world, with more than 80,000 vessels moving through it annually, roughly one third of all oceanic transits. US Naval vessels usually have their best bridge team on duty for the transit. I noted in the 11 through 15 August edition of FOD that a military band is standard for that all important change of command. I would venture to say the yet unannounced, change of command for the McCain and perhaps even Commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 will not need a band. As you’ll recall, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was involved in the June 17 with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, a container ship, off the coast of Japan resulted in the death of seven sailors. Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief have been relieved of their duties aboard Fitzgerald. I’m thinking the commanding officer of Destroyer Squadron 15, CAPT Jeffrey A. Bennett II might be looking for another job.