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Here's an interesting article (with pics) for those who like to read.

A Middle East Monarchy Hired American Ex-Soldiers To Kill Its Political Enemies. This Could Be The Future Of War.​

Cradling an AK-47 and sucking a lollipop, the former American Green Beret bumped along in the back of an armored SUV as it wound through the darkened streets of Aden. Two other commandos on the mission were former Navy SEALs. As elite US special operations fighters, they had years of specialized training by the US military to protect America. But now they were working for a different master: a private US company that had been hired by the United Arab Emirates, a tiny desert monarchy on the Persian Gulf.

On that night, December 29, 2015, their job was to carry out an assassination.

Their armed attack, described to BuzzFeed News by two of its participants and corroborated by drone surveillance footage, was the first operation in a startling for-profit venture. For months in war-torn Yemen, some of America’s most highly trained soldiers worked on a mercenary mission of murky legality to kill prominent clerics and Islamist political figures.

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From Kurdistan to K Street​

Inside Washington’s covert foreign policy apparatus, middlemen like Shlomi Michaels are key.

The routine of Washington foreign policymaking is straightforward and, well, a little boring. Presidents and secretaries of state issue pronouncements in speeches. Diplomats have discussions in ornate ceremonial rooms. That’s the official version, anyhow, and even if we’re well aware that reality departs from the C-Span, Foreign Affairs version of things, the rhythm, pomp, and ceremony shape our understanding of how countries relate to each other.

This is a story of the other world, the one whose real power players never show up in the CNN headline crawl. It’s the story of a man with a habit of popping up, Zelig-like, at the nexus of foreign policy and the kinds of businesses that thrive in times of war—security contracting, infrastructure development and postwar reconstruction, influence and intelligence brokering.

It’s also the story of how this entrepreneur and middleman, in the shadowy environment created by the 9/11 attacks and Washington’s advance on Iraq, seized the opportunity to propel himself from small-time businessman into global player. The trajectory of Shlomi Michaels is testament not only to one man’s driven intensity, but also to the opportunities the war on terror has presented to those with the information, connections, and ambition to seize them.

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Millennia After Leonidas Made His Last Stand at Thermopylae, a Ragtag Band of Saboteurs Thwarted the Axis Powers in the Same Narrow Pass​

Thermopylae, the narrow pass above Greece’s Malian Gulf, is most famous for the legendary last stand of King Leonidas and his storied band of 300 Spartans in 480 B.C.E. But the site has seen dozens of crucial battles since then, owing largely to its strategic importance as a choke point for imperial powers hoping to gain access to critical Mediterranean ports or the rich cities of Greece. Perhaps the most daring and least known of these actions took place in 1943, when Brigadier Eddie Myers led a team of British Special Operations Executive officers who parachuted into Axis-held Greece, determined to disrupt the enemy by any means necessary. The rugged, mountainous terrain that Leonidas had used so well nearly 2,500 years earlier quickly drew the eyes of these audacious saboteurs.

Among their primary targets were two bridges that held up a vital railway across Greece. In late 1942, the officers launched Operation Harling, attacking the first bridge; with the help of Greek rebels, they succeeded in putting the railway out of commission for six weeks. The following year, as successes in North Africa led the Allies to seek ways to distract the Axis from a planned invasion of Southern Europe through Sicily, the men set their sights on the second bridge, called the Asopos Viaduct. It carried train tracks across a deep gorge that emptied into the valley through which the Persians had outflanked Leonidas long ago.

Myers knew that destroying the second bridge could hamper the Axis leaders’ response to the Allied advance. But the bridge was protected by a garrison of 50 German soldiers with machine gun nests and searchlights, making it unassailable from the valley below—or even from the railway tracks themselves.

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**Best to watch on youtube for complete synopsis and links. 27 mins long.

Laos Secret War Pilot: Lee Gossett​

In this video you’ll see very rare Lao War photos from Lee’s collection, listen to his stories, and hear about his flying an NBC documentary crew around Laos during the war and a quick clip from the documentary flying his Pilatus Porter. Gossett flew 5,000 accident-free hours and had over 9,000 landings.

 

Drone Warfare’s Terrifying AI-Enabled Next Step Is Imminent​

The next major advance in the realm of drone warfare is being rapidly incubated and could flood into war zones, and become a huge security problem in non-combat environments too, in the near future.

What I am going to describe here is not really new to our readers. I have been talking about it for over a decade and Hollywood has portrayed it, often poorly or unwittingly, but we are now approaching the threshold of it becoming a widespread reality, with all the implications that come with it.

It's not even a major challenge to accomplish, but that's the point. In fact, it's already being used to a limited degree on the battlefield today.
Spurred by rapid technological evolution due to conflicts abroad, this capability could also leapfrog academic debates on weaponized artificial intelligence and the ethical need to keep humans 'in the loop' when making deadly decisions.

Simply put, comparatively inexpensive 'lower-end' drones, both longer-range and short-range types, will soon be choosing their own targets en masse. The downstream impacts of this relatively simple-sounding revolution are massive and also often misunderstood. Furthermore, the technology is already here and could soon be obtained by non-state actors and nefarious individuals, not just nation-states. Any claims that state-to-state international arms treaties or traditional regulation can stop, or even significantly slow, it from happening are debatable at best.

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Podcast here, nothing to see. You know the drill. 36 minutes long.

Inside the secret world of Defence Intelligence | Sitrep podcast​

Feb 8, 2024
Sitrep gets unprecedented access to the heart of the UK’s military spying operation.

Sian Grzeszczyk tells all, including the crashed Russian drones being disassembled by Defence Intelligence, how it’s analysts uncovered an arms-for-horses deal between Moscow and North Korea, and how the place really does all look like a James Bond lair.

As MP’s say we must choose between more money for the forces or limiting their workload, former National Security Adviser Lord Ricketts tells Sitrep training foreign forces and Cyprus peacekeeping could be cut to concentrate on better warfighting capability.

And we meet Turbo, the RAF’s new Typhoon display pilot, to talk negative-G, slow passes, and wowing the crowds.

.Kate Gerbeau presents, with expert analysis from Professor Michael Clarke.

 

Secrets Of War, The Cold War 01 Eisenhower's Operatives​

Vid shows Ike wasn't a grandfatherly old dude, but a calculating, shrewd cat who responsible for some pretty wild black ops.


44:54
 

Six Oilers: The Epic History & Founding of the Supply Line Between America and Australia in 1942​


1:05:56
 

Threats In Space “Extremely Concerning”: Space Force Boss​

The U.S. Space Force's top officer says the scale and scope of Russian and Chinese threats to American assets in orbit, including demonstrated abilities to conduct very close proximity operations, is "of paramount concern."

Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman's comments came today ahead of the disclosure of a still largely unknown serious national security threat, which still-unconfirmed reports say may involve a Russian space-related capability. You can read more about what is known about that threat now in The War Zone's earlier reporting.

"Very concerning. Extremely concerning. ... give me another adjective, you guys are the writers," Saltzman said in response to a question about Russian and Chinese threats from The War Zone's Howard Altman at a media roundtable on the sidelines of the Air & Space Forces Association's 2024 Warfare Symposium. "It's of paramount concern."

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Alarm Raised Over Destabilizing New Russian Threat In Space: Reports​

The Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has turned heads with a public plea for President Joe Biden's administration to declassify information related to an unspecified "national security threat" that has been described as "serious" and "destabilizing." Multiple reports now say the matter has to do with raw intelligence on a Russian space-related capability of some kind, although we cannot independently confirm that at this time.

Representative Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican who currently chairs the House Intelligence Committee, ignited something of a firestorm over this still nebulous issue with a brief and cryptic statement earlier today.

"Today, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has made available to all Members of Congress information Concerning a serious national security threat," the statement from Turner reads. "I am requesting that President Biden declassify all information relating to this threat so that Congress, the Administration, and our allies can openly discuss the actions necessary to respond to this threat."

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Podcast, nothing to see, can listen in one tab, play around the forum in a different tab. A little over an hour long.

DEBATING THE NEW NATIONAL DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY​

Chris, Zack, and Melanie sat down to talk about the new National Defense Industrial Strategy. Is this document really a strategy? What are the biggest problems we need to fix with respect to our defense industrial base? Considering the state of where we are now, is it even possible to get our industrial house in order in the near term to deter or prevail in a conflict with an adversary?

Chris has a grievance for those who couldn’t believe Donald Trump’s recent NATO comments (where have they been for the last eight years?), Zack thanks Rep. Mike Gallagher for his service, and Melanie is unhappy with the response to legislators trying to come to an agreement on the difficult issue of immigration reform.

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478. Rapid Adaptation​

Indeed, the ability to adapt is probably the most useful to any military organization and most characteristic of successful ones, for with it, it is possible to overcome both learning and predictive failures. In the interim, however, the cost of such failures will be… high, in terms of blood, treasure, and time.” — Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War
[Editor’s Note: In Other People’s Wars, Dr. Brent Sterling provided a longitudinal evaluation spanning the 19th and 20th centuries on what the U.S. military learned from foreign conflicts. Exploring the Crimean, Russo-Japanese, Spanish Civil, and Yom Kippur Wars as use cases, Dr. Sterling identified how effectively the U.S. assimilated key lessons from each of these conflicts and either rapidly adapted across doctrine, organization, training and education, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P); drew erroneous conclusions; or failed to act altogether.

Ian Sullivan sagely pointed out that a “learning organization requires institutional humility, an organizational open mind, and a decisive willingness to ‘disrupt yourselves before you are disrupted.‘” To put it bluntly, an effective organization must overcome its cultural resistance to change — the tyranny of its “old guard“ — and rapidly adapt, or face the ignominy of defeat on the battlefield.

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Red Sea Rivalries​

Egypt, Ethiopia, and histories of maritime war​


Every few years, a crisis in the Red Sea makes global headlines. In 2014, the Yemeni Civil War spilled into the Red Sea after the Houthis captured the capital Sana‘a and dissolved the parliament. As a warning, the Houthis allegedly conducted two missile strikes on US Navy ships, prompting a swift but limited retaliation from a US warship. In 2021, a malfunctioning commercial vessel was left stranded in the Suez Canal for six days, obstructing the trade of an estimated $9 billion in commercial goods passing through the Red Sea each day. The scale of the economic impact was so severe that the Egyptian government, which profits from tolls on Suez transport, initially demanded close to a billion-dollar settlement from the Japanese owner of the vessel.

Since October of 2023, the Houthi organization, the de facto governing authority in Yemen backed by Iran, has launched a barrage of attacks on several commercial ships in response to the war in Gaza and US support for Israel. The goal of these attacks has been to undermine US military presence in the area as well as to restrict the passage of Israeli commercial ships.

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Navy Introduces New Robotics Warfare Specialist Rating​

The Navy is looking to build up its workforce of sailors who can operate and support robotics via a new rating announced Thursday.

The Robotics Warfare Specialist, previewed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti during her keynote speech at WEST 2024 conference, cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA, was announced via NAVADMIN 036/24.

“The RW rating is a major milestone in our Navy’s relentless march to achieve a truly hybrid Fleet,” reads the NAVADMIN. “This dedicated robotics rating will accelerate development of deep expertise in rapidly advancing autonomous technologies.”

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479. Thoughts on AI and Ethics… from the Chaplain Corps​

[Editor’s Note: With our sights trained on a rapidly evolving Operational Environment (OE), Army Mad Scientist continues to track emergent trends affecting the U.S. Army’s ability to deter aggression, or failing that, decisively defeat any adversaries in the Twenty-first century battlespace. Recently featured trends include battlefield autonomy, increased lethality, and rapid adaptation.

Last July, we sat down with Dr. Nathan White, Associate Dean, Graduate School, U.S. Army Institute for Religious Leadership, to explore opportunities for collaboration. One mutual topic of interest was Artificial Intelligence (AI), another trend affecting the OE — our The Convergence podcast recently featured a series of episodes exploring how AI could revolutionize the future of warfare and Professional Military Education (PME), while this page explored how China, our pacing threat, is embracing AI in its drive for modernization as an “intelligentized” force.

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The Extraordinary Journey of Chris Cassidy, From the Grit of a Navy SEAL to Space Exploration​

Feb 27, 2024
The incredible journey that goes from the precision of a Navy SEAL right into the vastness of space. You won't believe the extraordinary life of Chris Cassidy – a childhood dream turned into a powerful story of passion and dedication.

Chris shares the challenges and triumphs of his dual roles as a Navy SEAL and an astronaut. From the intense fear experienced during launches to the tense moments of spacewalks, he unravels the secrets that have fueled his remarkable success.

Chris attributes his ability to confront the unknown in space to the invaluable lessons learned in SEAL training, his journey underscores the significance of teamwork, cooperation, and accountability as integral parts of a larger team dynamic.

His career is awe-inspiring, and the takeaway is crystal clear: throw in commitment to your passion and a collaborative spirit, and you're set for exceptional heights.

You don't want to miss out on this inspiring story, a guiding light for anyone out there navigating their own uncharted paths!


39:49
 
Podcast here. Nothing to see, can listen in one tab, surf the forum in a different tab. It's 1 hour, 4 mins long.

ARE THE U.S. AND EUROPE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER?​

Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss an article on the concept of unbalanced multipolarity by Emma Ashford and Evan Cooper. They debate what might happen if the United States pulls back from its leadership role in Europe and the rest of the world. Would America’s absence lead to global or regional disorder? Would allies step up to take some of the burden off Washington? Or would competing regional blocs emerge? Melanie laments the lack of progress on funding the Compacts of Free Association, Chris criticizes a publication decision by the New York Times, and Zack questions JD Vance’s approach to addressing defense industry shortfalls.

 

Navy LT attempting world record run from LA to NYC in 40 days​

They say you can’t run from your problems, but for ultramarathoner and Navy Lt. Paul Johnson, running is the perfect escape.

“Running gives me a chance to turn off my brain and not think about a lot of the things that are bothering me day to day,” Johnson told Military Times. “It’s almost like a meditation to me, a chance to relax and reflect.”

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Göring's Hero Nephew - Mercenary in Ethiopia, Finland & Biafra​

Mar 3, 2024

Hermann Goring's nephew Count Carl Gustaf von Rosen led an extraordinary life - he was a Red Cross pilot in Ethiopia in 1935 and a bomber pilot in Finland in 1939. He helped create the Royal Ethiopian Air Force in the 1950s, and was a UN pilot in the Congo. He created a mercenary squadron in Biafra in the 1960s, battling Nigeria, and flew aid into Ethiopia after the Communists took over. Find out his full story here!


8:19
 

Operation Gunnerside: The Daring Norwegian Commando Raid that Ended Nazi Atomic Dreams Without Firing a Shot​


At the start of World War II, Nazi Germany had a long lead in building atomic weapons. It was German scientists who discovered nuclear fission and its energy potential. The United States only began its nuclear program, the Manhattan Project, in earnest when it entered World War II. The U.S. had no idea how far along the Germans were, but assumed the Nazis were pursuing a nuclear weapon as well.

Neither side would end up completing an atomic bomb while the war in Europe raged, but the Allies were determined to stymie Nazi projects at every opportunity. One critical installation to the Nazi atomic bomb effort was the Vemork Norsk Hydro hydrogen electrolysis plant in occupied Norway. Vemork was producing heavy water, a critical component for nuclear chain reactions -- which meant Vemork had to be destroyed.

To neutralize the Vemork plant, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) would send two gliders filled with commandos into Norway as part of Operation Freshman in November 1942; tragically, those men would be captured, tortured and killed. But in February 1943, the Allies tried yet again to sabotage the Nazi’s atomic bomb effort in a mission known as Operation Gunnerside.

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