Convicted Cold War spy John Walker dies in prison –

John Walker, a former U.S. Navy officer convicted of spying decades ago for the Soviet Union, has died in federal prison, according to the U.S. government.

Walker, 77, passed away Thursday at a federal correctional facility in Butner, North Carolina, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said. The agency’s website indicated Walker was scheduled to be released on parole within the year.

via Convicted Cold War spy John Walker dies in prison –

It’s hard to overstate the horrific damage Walker did to US security. Some speculate that the North Koreans seized the USS Pueblo as a proxy for the Soviets in order to secure the crypto hardware that Walker was providing the keys for.

Don’t forget that when Walker compromised our communications, the US Navy was relying on that commo to provide operational orders to the fleet for conducting airstrikes over North Vietnam. Who knows how many aviators were killed because their targets were known to the North Vietnamese beforehand.


Graham: Americans fighting with ISIS are enemy combatants | TheHill

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday all U.S. citizens who join Islamist militant organizations in the Middle East should be defined as enemy combatants and subject to capture or death.

Graham said he is preparing a letter asking President Obama if he agrees with that categorization of U.S. citizens who join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“All of these American citizens who are going to jihad for ISIS or any other organization should be considered as enemy combatants under the American law of war, subject to being killed or captured,” he said on Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”

At least 140 U.S. fighters have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight, according to intelligence officials cited in an NPR report Wednesday. One U.S. fighter linked with ISIS was confirmed dead over the weekend, with reports of a second.

“I don’t know if it’s 140. One is too many,” Graham said. “But if this war continues and ISIS continues to win and is seen as a conquering jihadist hero in the eyes of these disturbed people throughout the world, there’s going to be 1,400.”

via Graham: Americans fighting with ISIS are enemy combatants | TheHill.

URR and I tend to disagree on the approach to be taken when a US citizen fights for ISIS or other extremist organizations.

He posits that targeting them is an extrajudicial killing by the state.

I argue that they are legitimate military targets not protected by the need for due process.

One way or another, in this age of non-state actors gaining greater and greater influence, we as a nation will have to address this issue.

What are your thoughts?

ISIS Planning US Attack?

That’s what Judicial Watch is saying.

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued.  Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

A long holiday weekend seems a good time to grab attention. Alternatively, we’re less than two weeks away from 9/11.

And I certainly have no faith that the government, which has actively worked to make our southern border more porous, will be able to suddenly ramp up its ability to interdict any particular threat.

Having said that, any ISIS action at or near the border would likely require at least the passive tolerance of the cartels in Mexico. Which makes me wonder, what’s in it for them? Any surge in security would strike me as counter to the aims of the cartels. Smuggling of drugs and people are money makers for them. A certain low level of chaos helps them, but a high visibility attack that draws a significant US response would almost certainly be bad for them. Am I missing something here?

H/T to Ace and the flaming skull.

In Iraq, the B-1 Bomber Proves Enduring Value | RealClearDefense

As the air war over northern Iraq expanded earlier this month, Pentagon officials for first time acknowledged that land-based bombers have begun conducting strikes against the Islamic State, or ISIS, as it is formerly known. Though the specific bomber type was not named, B-1B Lancers are widely believed to be the bombers providing much needed air support to Kurdish forces that retook the Mosul Dam. The appearance of the B-1 in Iraq should come as no surprise, as its long-range, all-weather, day or night, and low- or high-altitude capabilities have made it one of the most heavily used strike aircraft in America’s air armada.

B-1s of the 7th Bomb Wing from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar earlier this month. The 350 service members and their B-1s replaced members of the 28th Bomb Wing, which also flies the B-1, as part of a routine six-month rotation, which both units have shared since the opening of the Afghan War in late 2001. With the U.S. still in Afghanistan and now returning to Iraq, the 7th will take on a challenge that only long-range bombers like the B-1 can meet: be on call to support operations in two different theaters while still based in Qatar.

via In Iraq, the B-1 Bomber Proves Enduring Value | RealClearDefense.

One irony is that in spite of Qatar being a relatively steadfast ally in our operations in the Mid East, they’re also a strong supporter of Hamas in its campaign of terror against Israel.

As to the B-1B, it wasn’t until it began to incorporate precision guided munitions such as JDAM, and more recently, laser guided bombs, that it finally became a productive member of the Air Force’s combat fleet. Now that it has done so, in many ways it is the preferred weapon for strike and close air support, with a monstrous bomb load, and great endurance.

Lineup of 36 aircraft on China's Liaoning carrier revealed|Politics|News|

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, can carry four Z-18J airborne early warning (AEW) helicopters, six Z-18F anti-submarine helicopters, two Z-9C rescue helicopters, and 24 J-15 shipborne fighter jets, the Chinese-language Shanghai Morning Post reported on Aug. 28.

Cao Dongwei, senior colonel and researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Naval Research Institute, said the aircraft carrier could gain the upper hand in any potential battle for air or sea supremacy. The lineup may differ for various missions, however. The full lineup of 36 aircraft shows that the “PLA Navy’s era of aircraft” has arrived, the report said.

via Lineup of 36 aircraft on China’s Liaoning carrier revealed|Politics|News|

That’s about as many aircraft as could be expected on Liaoning, and pretty much the lineup one would expect.

One key aspect of a carrier’s effectiveness isn’t so much the size of the airwing, but the number of sorties it can generate in a given time. For instance, due to the time it takes to launch and recover jets, coupled with the limited endurance imposed by their ski-jump take off system, they can’t really put all 24 jets in the air at once. A more likely scenario is somewhere between four and eight jets on a single cycle.  A US Nimitz class carrier can put a great deal more into the air at one time.

It will be interesting to see also how many sorties a day per jet the Chinese can learn to generate.

Mind you, the Chinese are using Laioning not so much as an operational carrier, but as a training tool to learn naval aviation, and to inform their plans to build a more conventional catapult equipped carrier with a larger, more capable airwing.

Don't mess with nuclear Russia, Putin says – Yahoo News

Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia’s armed forces, backed by its nuclear arsenal, were ready to meet any aggression, declaring at a pro-Kremlin youth camp that foreign states should understand: “It’s best not to mess with us.”

Putin told the assembly, on the banks of a lake near Moscow, the Russian takeover of Crimea in March was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence. He said continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate.

Ukraine, and Western governments, accuse Russia of sending troops and armor to back the separatists in a conflict that has already killed over 2,000 people. Russia denies the charge.

via Don’t mess with nuclear Russia, Putin says – Yahoo News.

Russia is consuming Ukraine one bite at a time. While the news currently is focused on the rather blatant use of Russian troops in the Donetsk region, you’ll notice the defacto annexation of Crimea has all but disappeared from the public consciousness.

And absent strong US leadership, our Western European allies have no great desire to confront Russia over its actions in Ukraine. So why shouldn’t Putin continue to wage a relatively low cost war? He has sufficient control over his domestic press to suppress any public anger over Russian casualties.

In addition, his willingness to act in Ukraine also sends a very strong message to other nations on Russia’s borders that Russian threats are real, and Western promises aren’t.

Strategical Thinking is Hard

We’re still sitting here stunned that our President straight up stated that we have no strategy for dealing with ISIS.

Look, that may be. But that leads me to two points.

1. It’s not that hard to string together some mouthsounds that may be gobbledygook, but at least can be pointed to as a strategy- “coalition, international partners, degrade, interdict, engage, kinetic,” whatever your favorite buzzword bingo entry is.

2. Strategy isn’t THAT hard. If you kill enough of them, they quit fighting.

Crew Quarters

Business Insider has a brief photo essay on one of my favorite topics, the hidden crews quarters on long haul jetliners. On really long flights, the pilots and cabin crew can rack out for a bit in these snug, but comfortable spaces. Submariners will find them familiar.

b Boeing 777 4

And while the BI post only shows the 777 and the 787, most large long haul jets have the option for quarters, including the 747, the A330, A340, and of course the massive A380.


Blacks Must Confront Reality – Walter E. Williams – Page 2

To put this violence in perspective, black fatalities during the Korean War (3,075), Vietnam War (7,243) and all wars since 1980 (about 8,200) come to about 18,500, a number that pales in comparison with black loss of life at home. Young black males had a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities.

via Blacks Must Confront Reality – Walter E. Williams – Page 2.

Even back in the 90s, before the Iraq and Afghan wars, I used to point this out to parents when I was recruiting in Gary, IN.

I’m tired of being told to check my privilege, and embrace and respect other cultures.

No, other cultures suck. They’re terrible. They cause nothing but misery, poverty, and early death.

I don’t want you to respect my culture. I want you to JOIN my culture.

Trench Food

Most of the US new is passing over the World War I centennial, but for Britain, it was such a powerful force in their history, their papers are covering it in somewhat continuous detail.

And one interesting piece was on the feeding of Tommy throughout the war.

They say an army marches on its stomach, so feeding the two million men who were in the trenches at the height of the First World War was some task. It was a great achievement that in the entire conflict not one British soldier starved to death.

Yet no one should think that the Tommies enjoyed the food that was served up by the military. According to the wags on the frontline, the biggest threat to life was not German bullets but the appalling rations.

Most despised was Maconochie, named after the company in Aberdeen that made this concoction of barely recognisable chunks of fatty meat and vegetables in thin gravy.

When served hot, as per the instructions on the tin, it was said to be barely edible. Eaten cold for days on end in the trenches, where a warm meal was usually no more than a fantasy, it was said to be disgusting.

It was the stated aim of the British Army that each soldier should consume 4,000 calories a day. At the frontline, where conditions were frequently appalling, daily rations comprised 9oz of tinned meat (today it would be known as corned beef but during the First World War it was called bully beef) or the hated Maconochie.

Additionally the men received biscuits (made from salt, flour and water and likened by the long-suffering troops to dog biscuits). They were produced under government contract by Huntley & Palmers, which in 1914 was the world’s largest biscuit manufacturer. The notoriously hard biscuits could crack teeth if they were not first soaked in tea or water.

Simply adding tinned beef that could be issued to individuals was something of a major advance in ration technology. On the other hand, the Brits have never been famous for their cuisine, and such a limited menu would quickly become very monotonous. Coupled with the difficulties in heating the food, it’s not hard to see why the average Tommy was disappointed with his rations.

Battle to feed tommy, ww1, world war one, world war one food, soldiers food, imperial war museum,

When we think of a military ration today, the MRE springs to mind. In fact, the term ration is a technical one, meaning all the food intended for one soldier, for one complete day. Back in the days before the MRE, the C-Ration or the K-Ration, when the Quartermaster delivered food to a troop unit, it was fresh or canned food in bulk. How much food to deliver was computed by multiplying the daily ration for, say, beef, by the number of troops in a given unit. For instance, if the ration called for 1-1/4 pounds of fresh meat per day, per soldier, and a rifle company had 150 troops, the Quartermaster knew to deliver 187.5 pounds of meat.

As the article notes, how the troops might be expected to cook such a ration was their problem, not the Quartermaster’s.  Obviously, that changed over the course of the war.  The US Army faced many of the same challenges in feeding its troops in World War I. As a result of the dissatisfaction with field feeding in the Great War, a truly massive effort was put into improving the Army’s field feeding in World War II, resulting not just in the aforementioned C-Ration and K-Ration, but improved methods of transporting fresh and frozen foods, a much improved Army wide methodology of procuring rations, increased numbers of cooks, vastly improved field kitchens, and means of transporting hot foods forward.