Intel for me, but not for thee.

Summary translation: China demands freedom from the United States to collect intelligence in U.S. Exclusive Economic Zones in the name of U.S. principles and domestic laws. China denies the United States reciprocal freedoms in the name of China’s own domestic laws.

Such lack of reciprocity flies in the face of international legal principles and support for an equitable, well-functioning international system. However, Beijing’s emerging tool of choice to promote its interests in this and some other important areas is not international law, but rather high-level political rhetoric and relationship management.

via PRC National Defense Ministry Spokesman Sr. Col. Geng Yansheng Offers China’s Most-Detailed Position to Date on Dongdiao-class Ship’s Intelligence Collection in U.S. EEZ during RIMPAC Exercise | Andrew S. Erickson.

To be a bit fair, we’ve been flying intel sorties off China since about 1949, as well as driving ships and subs in the area to gather intel. You’ve probably seen the news that China, in addition to being invited to RIMPAC 14, also sent a ferret ship to loiter in the area, uninvited. It’s somewhat rude, but perfectly legal. To my knowledge, that’s about as far east as they’ve ever sent a dedicated intel platform.


Where's Preston Brooks When You Need Him?


Apparently, Nancy Pelosi forgot that the Dems controlled both houses of Congress for four years, and the White House along with it for two of them.  And when Pennsylvania Republican Tom Marino pointed that out in regards to the border crisis, Pelosi actually walked across the aisle to scold him.

A Pelosi staffer told us Nancy accepted Marino’s apology.  But Marino’s people said no such apology was given, and Marino had this to say via “twiddah”:

“Rep. Pelosi called me an ‘insignificant person’ on the Floor of the House. I’ll ponder that for a while driving to Williamsport tonight. Of course I’ll be driving myself, with no staff or security. And I’m just a country lawyer who worked in a bakery until he was 30,” he said in three separate tweets.

Of course, Minority Leader Pelosi seems to be mostly polystyrene these days.  So maybe going all “1856” on her wouldn’t do much.  Also, Brooks was a Democrat like Pelosi, the party of slavery and segregation, Dixiecrats and discrimination.  So maybe Pelosi would be Brooks and Marino would be Sumner.

U.S. Spy Plane Reportedly Violated Swedish Air Space to Escape Russian Fighters — War is Boring — Medium

A U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint spy plane reportedly violated Swedish air space in order to dodge Russian fighter jets, according to a Swedish media outlet.

According to, on July 18 the RC-135—a four-engine Boeing with sensitive receivers for detecting radar signals and other electronic emissions—was flying a surveillance mission over the Baltic Sea near Russia when Russian jets rose to meet it … and the American plane turned and fled across Sweden.

U.S. signals-intelligence aircraft from Mildenhall air base in the U.K. regularly have been flying sorties in international air space over the Baltic ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The SIGINT planes help Washington monitor Russian troops’ movements.

On July 18, the Russians twice sent fighters from Kaliningrad to intercept the RC-135.

via U.S. Spy Plane Reportedly Violated Swedish Air Space to Escape Russian Fighters — War is Boring — Medium.

Ordinarily, US and Russian warplanes intercepting each other isn’t a big deal.  Stay in international airspace, and both sides wave to one another and snap some pictures, maybe show a Playboy centerfold to the Russians.

But things haven’t always been so friendly, especially for electronic intel birds. There’s a long list of ELINT birds shot down, either by the Russians, the Chinese, or the North Koreans. The most recent incident that comes to mind is the mid-air collision back in 2001 that led to an EP-3E making an emergency landing in China.

But it has been a long time since that happened. As one wag on Facebook noted, it’s almost as if the Rivet Joint crew listened in on orders to the Russian fighters to engage.

Sweden will no doubt lodge a protest with the US, as is right and proper. And I’m sure the mission commander will have to answer some tough questions from the chain of command. On the other hand, the mission commander is ultimately responsible for the safety of his aircraft and crew. And he was the man on the scene.

Russia’s Military Is Already in East Ukraine. Will There Be a Full-Scale Invasion? – The Daily Beast

The troops, the tanks, and the artillery is in place. The shelling has begun. Is this just another skirmish? Or something much, much bigger?

Right now Russia is moving troops, armor, and advanced antiaircraft missiles toward the border with Ukraine. In the last 48 hours, dozens of videos have been uploaded to social-media sites that show Russian armor very close to the border, many of them confirmed to be within mere kilometers of Ukraine.

On Thursday, my team at The Interpreter definitively geolocated Russian armor only 2,000 meters (and closing) from the border and a Buk, the same type of missile that likely took down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, only a few hours from being within range of Ukraine’s air force. Columns of tanks, marked with the same painted numbers and flat, pale-green paint we’ve seen in Ukraine since (at least) June 20th, were spotted moving en masse toward a key border crossing. Some Ukrainian journalists are reporting that at least some of this armor has already crossed the border.

Russia’s helicopters held ground-fire exercises Friday on the border between Russia’s Rostov region and Ukraine’s Donetsk region. The head of Russia’s airborne units, which played a critical role in the conquering of Crimea, has pledged to expand operations beyond the boundaries of Russia (tanks marked with the insignia of Russian Airborne forces were captured by Ukrainian troops just yesterday). The Ukrainian government now says that its military has detected even more advanced antiaircraft batteries lined up on its border.

There is now significant evidence that Russia is openly supporting the separatists militarily and many experts now believe that Russia could invade and beat back the Ukrainian anti-terror operation.

An open war between Ukraine and Russia may have already begun. In the last 24 hours, there are reports of cross-border shelling in new locations and 17 new Grad rocket batteries digging in on the Russian side of the border, but within range of the Ukrainian military’s front lines. This is even more concerning when it is put into context. In the last two days, two different Ukrainian military convoys have been destroyed by Grad rockets south of the MH17 crash site, in Shakhtyorsk and near Torez. Russian paratroopers have even taken pictures with the bodies of the Ukrainian soldiers and have posted them to social networks (this isn’t the only time Russian soldiers have posted pictures from inside Ukraine, which has caused the Russian government to discuss banning their soldiers from posting to social media).

via Russia’s Military Is Already in East Ukraine. Will There Be a Full-Scale Invasion? – The Daily Beast.

Not good.

UPDATE: New images show details of new Army camo | Army Times |

Combat uniforms featuring the service’s newest camo pattern will be available for sale starting in the summer of 2015, the Army announced Thursday.

The Army is calling its new camo the Operational Camouflage Pattern, though it’s been referred to in previous tests as Scorpion W2. It is similar in appearance to Crye Precision’s MultiCam, but was developed by Army Natick Labs in Massachusetts.

Scorpion W2 uses a color palette of muted greens, light beige and dark brown.

The Army plans to transition to this new camo over time, phasing out the unpopular gray-green Universal Combat Pattern of the ACU. The Army, in a statement, said a phase-out of the older uniform was “fiscally responsible.”

via UPDATE: New images show details of new Army camo | Army Times |

It looks a heck of a lot better than the UCP pattern.

Master Sgt. Benjamin Owens models the Army Combat Uniform using the new Operational Camouflage Pattern.

Interestingly, the Army is looking to contract to have body army carriers and other Load Bearing Equipment in the UCP pattern dyed coyote brown as an interim measure. There’s a heck of a lot more brown in nature than green, so that strikes us as a pretty good idea until such time as such older stocks are worn out and are replaced with an OCP pattern.

A Stunning Rebuke of Our Current Defense Policies | National Review Online

Those familiar with the Constitution know that the federal government is given certain enumerated powers but in general is not required to exercise them. For example, Congress has the power under Article One to enact a bankruptcy code, but felt no urgency in doing so, and in fact did not pass a permanent bankruptcy statute until the end of the 19th Century.

Only one federal power is obligatory. Article IV, Section IV of the Constitution states that the United States “shall protect each of them (the States) from invasion.”

In other words, the only thing the federal government must do under the Constitution is provide for the common defense. So how is the government doing on that?

Every four years, the Department of Defense issues its “Quadrennial Defense Review” which is supposed to be a thorough evaluation of the state of the military and its plans for the future. The latest “QDR”, as it’s typically called, came out last spring. In the meantime, Congress passed a statute creating an Independent Panel to analyze the QDR and make recommendations regarding the armed forces.

That panel was co-chaired by Bill Perry, former secretary of defense under President Clinton, and retired General John Abizaid. There were eight other members appointed on a bipartisan basis by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. (I was one of them.)

The panel issued its unanimous report yesterday. It’s a stunning rebuke of the government’s defense policies over the last three years. The report is available at, but here are excerpts from its analysis:

via A Stunning Rebuke of Our Current Defense Policies | National Review Online.

At the institutional level, the services really, really hate war.

Not for the reasons the warrior does.

It really screws up the military.

Equipment gets used far more than in peacetime, driving maintenance costs through the roof. Personnel costs escalate (and they’re effectively a ratchet, and won’t go back down in peacetime, at least on on a per person basis).

Some big defense acquisition programs are deferred, delayed, or cancelled to pay for current operations. At the end of a conflict, the services find themselves with equipment a generation out of date, and badly worn at that.

Worst of all, at the end  of every conflict is the rush to eviscerate the defense budget in the name of a fictional “peace dividend.”

It’s not like anyone expected the Obama administration to be stalwart supporters of the defense budget.

And to be honest, the current mess has some GOP fingerprints on it as well. For the first time in well over a generation, the GOP was willing to hold DoD spending hostage in an attempt to curb the stupendous levels of non-defense related spending.  The primary problem with the sequester was more a matter of it being a blunt force trauma, rather than the actual dollar levels involved.

And the services themselves are also somewhat guilty of spending money poorly on quite a few acquisition programs.

And while I concur that the DoD budget, and more importantly, the force structure is too small for the security challenges we’ll face in the coming decades, it’s hard to link the budget to the National Defense Strategy, as the NDS is so much vaporware given that the administration has never been able to coherently state what our policy and goals are.


Busy day… so you get links




VIP Airborne Culture Kills


Low Frequency anti-stealth radar.

Mind you, using lower frequency isn’t without its own issues. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it already.


Wreckage analysis of MH17 via WSJ


Is that an EP-3E, or are you just happy to see me?


New kid on the block, The Greenie Board, talks about cat shots and anniversaries.


So much for the cease fire

So the UN and the US sponsored a 72 hour cease fire in Gaza to take effect at 8am local time. And it lasted a whopping 90 minutes before Hamas operatives surged from a tunnel into Israel, killed IDF soldiers, and kidnapped another.

Legal Insurrection, of all places, has a good roundup.

The US likes to say we don’t negotiate with terrorists. So why do we keep pressuring Israel to negotiate with Hamas, which the US recognizes as a terrorist organization?