USMC Gen. Dunford Urges Congress To Honor Russian Helicopter Deal for Afghanistan

Dunford urges Congress to approve Russian helicopter deal for Afghan air force

stars and stripes

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., testifies during a U.S. Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, July 17, 2014. Members of the Committee on Armed Services were considering Dunford’s nomination to be the next Commandant of the Marine Corps.

 

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford urged lawmakers on Thursday to back off plans to cut funding for Russian-made transport helicopters used by the Afghan military, arguing it would have a “catastrophic” effect on Afghanistan’s ability to conduct counterterrorism operations.

“The reason I use the word catastrophic, which I don’t think is hyperbole, is because the inability of the Afghans to have the operational reach represented by the Mi-17 will seriously deteriorate their ability to take the fight to the enemy,” Dunford said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “But the more important reason I use the word catastrophic is their inability to take the fight to the enemy will actually put young Americans in harm’s way in 2015 and beyond.”

He also said military commanders were uncomfortable with the Obama administration’s announced intent to pull all forces out of the country by 2017.

“All of us in uniform, including the Afghans, would have preferred that had been a bit more ambiguous.”

Dunford, who commands the war in Afghanistan, has been nominated to serve as the 36th commandant of the Marine Corps, replacing the retiring Gen. James Amos. Although Dunford was in Washington to testify at his confirmation hearing, most questions from lawmakers centered on the 13-year war in Afghanistan, which the general has led since February 2013.

As the U.S. military drawdown, Afghan forces will increasingly need the operational reach provided by the Mi-17 helicopter. Plans call for the Afghans to maintain a fleet of about 80 of these aircraft, 30 of which are to be used by Afghan special forces, Dunford said.

While the Pentagon has a $550 million contract with Rosoboronexport, a Russian supplier of the Mi-17s used by Afghan forces, Russian actions in Ukraine have prompted lawmakers in the House and Senate to consider scaling back that contract as a punitive measure. But without proper funding, the Afghans’ ability to maintain their fleet would be compromised, Dunford said, and “Afghan forces will not be successful in providing security in Afghanistan.”

The Mi-17 has proved popular with the Afghan air force because of its rugged design, ease of maintenance and low operating costs.

By the end of the year, the U.S. will formally end its combat mission in Afghanistan, and  U.S. troop levels are set to drop from roughly 30,000 today to  9,800. Most will be involved in training and advisory missions. About 1,000 of the forces will be focused on conducting counterterrorism operations. NATO allies are also expected to contribute an additional 4,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, Dunford said.

The general said he believes the Afghan security forces have proved to be effective fighters, though challenges remain, especially in areas such as logistics. On the political side, Dunford also said he was optimistic that disputes over the outcome of the recent Afghan presidential election would soon be resolved and that a bilateral security pact would be reached with the U.S.

Meanwhile, if confirmed as the head of the Marine Corps, Dunford will face new challenges, especially in balancing demands for more modernization while maintaining readiness and the Marine crisis-response capabilities.

“Balancing all those in a fiscally constrained environment,” Dunford said, “is going to be very difficult.”

vandiver.john@stripes.com

Putin’s Plane May Have Been Real Target, Over Ukraine, Lapping MH17

Report: Vladimir Putin’s Plane Lapped MH17, May Have Been Target

 

inquisitor

 

vladimir-putin
The tragic crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine today has sparked a flurry of speculation and some damning theories about how the plane may have been sabotaged, and RT published a report suggesting that Vladimir Putin may have been the target if a missile strike downed the craft.

Early information has suggested one possible and scary cause for the crash of MH17 — intentional interference using anti-aircraft weaponry on the ground in what was almost definitely a case of mistaken identity.

The speculation regarding Vladimir Putin’s plane, however, is a newer thread. Earlier audio recordings that circulated purportedly implicate separatists in the incident, and indicate that the plane that crashed was not a target — however, nothing conclusive has yet emerged to definitively indicate what happened to MH17.

RT.com cites Interfax, a Russian news agency, as quoting a source speaking on condition of anonymity regarding the fate of MH17 and how Putin’s flight may have been a factor.

The unnamed Russian aviation source says that Putin’s plane dovetailed with the doomed Malaysian jetliner, and that given the proximity in both timing and location, the targeting of Putin is a distinct possibility:

“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft – 15:44 Moscow time… The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical.”

As the official suggests, Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Airlines craft are visually similar, and indeed could be mistaken for one another at high altitudes from the ground.

However, RT also notes that not only is the claim unverified, but that others have said Putin’s flight path did not veer over Ukraine airspace.

A separate source, also anonymous, denied Putin had been onboard a flight with a similar path, and said:

“Putin has only one jet – Board One, he does not fly other planes. This plane always takes off from Vnukovo-3, but the presidential plane have not been flying over Ukraine for a while.”

Pentagon Confident That New Technology Can Identify Hostile or Disloyal Individuals

[More “pre-crime” thinking by the powers that be, planning for the eventual control of all individuals, either through predictive behaviorism or through more physical means, such as, forced psychological reconditioning, hypnosis, drugs and “psychotronic” disruption.]

Military To Scan Soldier’s Brains For Signs Of Disloyalty?

 

inquisitor

 

HandShake could potentially detect insider threats by scanning soldier's brains

A new system, dubbed HandShake by its developers, may scan the brains of U.S. soldiers and their allies in combat theaters to asses signs of disloyalty, potentially protecting them from insider attacks.

HandShake was developed by a company named Veritas, according to Activist Post, and is indicative of a larger trend in neuroscience that sees brain research applied in areas of predictive behavior. The technology utilizes specialized brain scans which can be used to monitor both U.S. troops and our allies for signs of disloyalty.

Though instances of insider attacks are statistically low in the U.S. Military, new interest is being taken in evaluating potential extremist threats from within. Veritas Scientific markets the HandShake technology, which was developed by a former U.S. Army counterintelligence agent, as a solution to the problem.

Using HandShake, a soldier would place a specially designed helmet on a subject, whether another military member or ally, who would then be shown a series of images. Electrodes fitted within the helmet are capable of reading electromagnetic signals in the brain while also scanning for blood flow changes. While most of the images shown would be benign in nature, some would be designed to trigger a reaction in the brain of a person who poses a potential insider threat, Defense One claims.

When a test subject recognizes an image of emotional significance to them, their brain reacts with a slight 200 to 500 millisecond “hiccup” that is detectable via EEG. In the HandShake system, scans of blood flow in the brain back up the EEG data. After being processed through an algorithm, the developer claims an 80 to 90 percent accurate reading of a subject’s threat potential.

No Americans Or Israelis On Doomed Flt.17, 9M-MRC

Upon close inspection of the photo, however, the letters “RC” are visible beneath the plane’s front wheel. That indicates the plane’s registration number was 9M-MRC. MH17’s number was 9M-MRD.

http://planefinder.net/data/aircraft/9M-MRC

Boeing 777 (9M-MRC)— Malaysia Airlines

 

“According to information provided by Kiev Air Traffic Control, the location of the plane’s emergency locator beacon is 48 degrees 7 minutes and 23 seconds North; and 38 degrees 31 minutes and 33 seconds East.”

http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/my/en/site/mh17.html

MH017 – Cargo Manifest 1

MH017 – Cargo Manifest 2

MH017 – Cargo Manifest 3

MH017 – Cargo Manifest 4

Friday, July 18, 08:20 PM GMT +0800 Media Statement 4 : MH17 Incident

Media Statement 4: MH17 Incident

1.    Flight plan

MH17’s flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol, who are solely responsible for determining civil aircraft flight paths over European airspace. Eurocontrol is the air navigation service provider for Europe and is governed under ICAO rules.

The route over Ukrainian airspace where the incident occurred is commonly used for Europe to Asia flights. A flight from a different carrier was on the same route at the time of the MH17 incident, as were a number of other flights from other carriers in the days and weeks before. Eurocontrol maintains records of all flights across European airspace, including those across Ukraine.

In April, the International Civil Aviation Organization identified an area over the Crimean peninsula as risky. At no point did MH17 fly into, or request to fly into, this area. At all times, MH17 was in airspace approved by the ICAO.

2.    Altitude

MH17 filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000ft throughout Ukrainian airspace. This is close to the ‘optimum’ altitude.

However, an aircraft’s altitude in flight is determined by air traffic control on the ground. Upon entering Ukrainian airspace, MH17 was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000ft.

3.    Nationalities

Following this afternoon’s press conference, Malaysia Airlines can confirm that a further 16 passengers’ nationalities have been verified. The latest breakdown of nationalities of those on board the flight is as follows:

·         189 Netherlands

·         44 Malaysia

·         27 Australia

·         12 Indonensia

·         9 UK

·         4 Belgium

·         4 Germany

·         3 Philippines

·         1 Canada

·         1 New Zealand

Four passengers’ nationalities remain to be verified.

4.    New flight route

Following this incident, Malaysia Airlines now avoids Ukrainian airspace entirely, flying further south over Turkey.

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Media Statement 3 : MH17 Incident

The B777-200 aircraft bearing registration no. 9M-MRD that operated MH17 on 17 July, 2014 had a clean maintenance record. The aircraft’s last maintenance check was on 11July 2014. The next check was due on 27Aug 2014. The maintenance was conducted at Malaysia Airlines’ hangar at KLIA. The aircraft had a clean bill of health.

The aircraft was manufactured in July 1997, and so had 17 years in service.

The aircraft had recorded 75322 hours with a total of 11434 cycles.

All communication system on the aircraft were functioning normally.

The B777-200 uses the Rolls-Royce Trent-800 engine and has a 282 seat capacity.

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Friday, July 18, 07:30 AM GMT +0800 Media Statement 2 : MH17 Incident

Media Statement 2 : MH17 Incident

With immediate effect, all European flights operated by Malaysia Airlines will be taking alternative routes avoiding the usual route.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines confirms that the aircraft did not make a distress call.

The usual flight route was earlier declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.

As opposed to the earlier statement, the flight was carrying a total number of 298 people – comprising 283 passengers including three infants of various nationalities and 15 crew of Malaysian nationality. Some of the nationalities of the passengers are yet to be determined.

List of number of passengers and crew according to nationality are as follows:-

Nationality

Total

Netherlands 154
Malaysia 43 (including 15 crew & 2 infants)
Australia 27
Indonesia 12 (including 1 infant)
United Kingdom 9
Germany 4
Belgium 4
Philippines 3
Canada 1
Unverified 41
Total 298

 

Malaysia Airlines is in the process of notifying the next-of-kin of the passengers and crew.

Our focus now is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support to provide all possible care to the next-of-kin. Malaysia Airlines is deploying its “Go Team” to Amsterdam  with a group of caregivers and volunteers to assist the family members of the passengers.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.

The airline will provide regular updates on the situation.

Families of passengers and crew may contact +603 7884 1234 (Malaysia) or +31703487770(Netherlands).

For media queries, kindly contact +603 8777 5698/ +603 8787 1276.

Please also log on to www.malaysiaairlines.com for updates.

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