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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Pentagon’

Obama Holds Up Weapons Transfer to Israel

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

An imminent delivery of Hellfire missiles set to arrive in Israel from the US has been held up by the White House.

Moreover, the transfer of any weapons and other military hardware to Israel, even routine munitions requests, is now being blocked by the State Department and the White House.

In clear language, it means that any form of American military aid – once a ‘given’ by Israel’s “closest friend and ally” – is now being scrutinized by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, at a time when Israel is facing an enemy supplied by Iran and Syria, and intent on its destruction.

The move has only served to further wind up an already tense relationship between the White House and Israel.

According to an Israeli government official quoted by the Wall Street Journal, “We’ve been there before with a lot of tension with us and Washington. What we have now, on top of that, is mistrust and a collision of different perspectives on the Middle East. It’s become very personal.”

Specifically, the Pentagon blocked delivery of the Hellfire missiles because officials at the White House and in the State Department were worried about the reaction of Palestinian Arabs in the US and abroad, according to the report.

The WSJ article cited a number of past conflicts between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government. It then went on, however, to say the straw that broke the camel’s back had to do with the attack near the UNRWA school in Gaza.

“The watershed moment came in the early morning in Gaza July 30. An Israeli shell struck a United Nations school in Jabaliya that sheltered about 3,000 people. Later that day, it was reported in the U.S. that the 120-mm and 40-mm rounds had been released to the Israeli military,” WSJ reported.

A US diplomat complained about being “blindsided” and officials at the White House and State Department were disturbed by what they considered a risk to regional stability and Israel’s interests due to a “humanitarian catastrophe,” according to the report.

However, no one was blindsided. The Israelis filed a routine request for munitions as they always did. Israeli bureaucracy is famous for its automated mentality, which is set in motion months in advance. Even the draft notices for upcoming 18-year-olds begin two years earlier – at age 16 – and then are sent out six months before the actual appointment.

A US defense official also said there was nothing unusual about the request.

“There was no intent to blindside anyone. The process for this transfer was followed precisely along the lines that it should have,” the official said.

But with regard to the July 30 attack, the information was reported from Gaza inaccurately from the start, deliberately manipulating and inciting American officials.

Pallywood wins again – but it is a bit odd that top government officials could so easily be misled, unless it’s an active choice on their part.

That’s not the fault of American media but rather due to the Hamas propaganda machine and the willingness of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to collaborate.

It’s also due to the need for journalists to stay alive; there have been more than a few reporters who have managed to leave Gaza and later were courageous enough to admit they were threatened with death if they were to photograph, let alone report, the truth of what they were doing to their own civilians there.

The lone shell that was fired struck outside the school compound, as was already admitted by at least one UNRWA official in a tweet several hours after the event.

Too Little, Too Late? US Special Forces Arrive in Iraq

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

A U.S. contingent of 150 special forces has arrived in Iraq as part of its promised military aid in the fight against terror there.

Washington told the Iraqi government it would help the country fight the Sunni Muslim Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) guerrilla forces who have taken over nearly a third of the country.

The American special forces are intended to help the Iraqi military fight the terrorists, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, who said they had already “begun their work in the field.”

However, it’s questionable whether the aid sent by the U.S. will be adequate to deal with the situation at this point. ISIL forces have taken over nearly the entire northern region and much of the central area as well, in addition to a large swathe of territory along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Pentagon Defends Jordan Valley Pullout: No Worries When ISIS Invades Jordan

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Israel maintains that American military training did not help Iraqi forces fend off the Al Qaeda-linked ISIL takeover in the northern and central part of the country.

The take-away lesson: Israel cannot and will not hand over the defense of its nation to a third party in the Jordan Valley – not now, not ever.

The Pentagon is upset by that, because the United States wants to advance a plan formulated by U.S. General John Allen to replace the Israel Defense Forces in the Jordan Valley with an international force.

Allen, an expert on counter-terrorism with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, contends that Israel faces completely different threats than those in Iraq.

The Pentagon and State Department both insist that Israel should trust American military officials to know what they are doing.

But Israeli officials said bluntly in a report published Monday night – speaking on condition of anonymity – that the Americans are misreading the signals and possibly the map, much as they did in Iraq.

And they don’t want to see a repetition of that disaster here on home ground.

More than 1,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, have died in mass murders by radical Islamists in the last three weeks, the United Nations reports, calling the figure “very much a minimum.”

Terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) – or as it is called in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams or Syria (ISIS), seized nearly the entire northern section of Iraq. The group captured the largest city in the north – Mosul – and the hometown of former dictator Sadaam Hussein, Tikrit, among others.

ISIL is now threatening Iraq’s border with Turkey, and earlier this month kidnapped a Turkish Consul and 80 Turkish contractors and workers from an eastern city. Turkey immediately evacuated its staff from the Turkish Consulate in Basra, located in southern Iraq.

The group’s forces are also threatening Iraq’s eastern border with Iran.

In addition, ISIL has captured a wide area in Iraq’s central region and is rapidly advancing to the west, having already captured one border crossing into Jordan, in addition to two border crossings with Syria. The group’s forces are beginning to move south towards Baghdad.

The group’s goal is to create an Islamic state, a Caliphate, run entirely by Shari’a (Islamic) law.

At present, ISIL has managed to blur the border between Iraq and Syria – with members of the group on both sides of the boundary – and is presenting a real and present danger to Jordan.

It is this threat to another American ally that Israel is pointedly referring to in its discussions with the United States, which blithely assured the Iraqi government it would “help push back this aggression” even as it pulled its forces out of Iraq two and a half years ago. Despite the infusion of billions of U.S. dollars, Iraqi security forces were inadequately trained and completely unable to meet the challenge of fending off the ISIL guerrilla fighters.

Pentagon Allows Kippa and Beard If They Don’t Endanger a Mission

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

The Pentagon made clear in an order that troops may accommodate religious beliefs in their garb or grooming as long as it does not frustrate their mission.

“The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members unless a request would have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion and good order and discipline,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan J. Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

The requests will be decided on a case-by-case basis, Christensen said.

Under the order, Jewish servicemen could be permitted to wear a kippah or a beard.

Among the factors that would influence a decision, a Pentagon statement listed, are “safe and effective operation of weapons,” and health and safety hazards to the personnel wearing the apparel.

 

Pentagon Official: U.S. Still Considering Drone Sale to Turkey

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

U.S. sales of drones to Turkey are still under consideration.

“The United States continues to work through our approach to exporting unmanned systems to our closest allies, including Turkey,” a Pentagon official told JTA on Tuesday.

The official would not comment directly on reports originating in the Turkish press that the Obama administration had canceled the sale of 10 Predator drones to Turkey in retaliation for Turkey’s alleged exposure to Iran of 10 operatives working for Israeli intelligence.

A spokesman for the State Department, which finalizes such sales, also would not comment, citing the policy of not making such sales public until Congress had been notified.

The drones each cost at least $4.5 million.

US Suspends Delivery of F-16s to Egypt Due to Political Turmoil

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

The United States was prepared to deliver four F-16 Fighter jets to Egypt as recently as last week, but on Wednesday, July 24, the U.S. administration announced that there would be no delivery at this time.

The move is one that surprised few, as the U.S. administration had been far more favorably disposed to the recently ousted President Mahmoud Morsi than it has been to either President Hosnai Mubarak who was removed in the Tahrir Square Revolution in 2011, or to the current government leaders whose tactics have been viewed as heavy-handed.

“Given the current situation in Egypt we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters on Wednesday.  Little explained that the decision to delay delivery of the warplanes came from U.S. President Barack Obama.

The delay was relayed to Egypt’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a telephone call by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier in the day.

Under a $2.5 billion deal signed in 2010, the United States is committed to providing 20 F-16 fighters to Egypt. Eight jets were delivered earlier this year and four more F-16s were due to be shipped over in coming weeks.

The Pentagon’s announcement that the F-16s would not be delivered at this time followed a decision made on July 19 by the British government to suspend arms exports to the Egyptian military.

Despite the decision to delay delivery, the United States plans to go ahead with a planned joint military exercise with Egypt known as “Bright Star.”

Egypt receives $1.3 billion in U.S. aid each year.

Meanwhile, the current Egyptian leadership continues on the path it began by ousting Morsi.  The public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Wednesday on charges of “inciting violence.” And army chief al-Sisi called for nationwide protests, the purpose of which is to oppose “violence and terrorism.”

State of Unreadiness

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

My colleague Timothy Whiteman at Liberty Unyielding highlighted recently the number of Air Force squadrons that will have to cease training later this year because the Air Force doesn’t have funds for the flying hours.  This is real, and it is astounding.  It will mean that, at a certain point in the near future, as early as this fall, if no additional funds become available, the cost of mounting an operation big enough to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons-related installations is likely to be too high.

This is because there will be no force depth to either sustain follow-on operations or overcome the geographic constraints U.S. forces are increasingly likely to face.  Assuming all of the Air Force’s stand-downs and readiness-losses do occur, the available front-line forces would be maxed out with a moderately scoped strike package.  To meet the task, they would require the most favorable basing options that could be available in the Persian Gulf under today’s conditions – but which may not be available.  If we don’t have those favorable basing options and the Air Force squadron groundings remain on track, the Iran strike goes from all-but-under-resourced to impossible.

There will not, after all, be two aircraft carriers on station near Iran, with their combined eight squadrons of Navy strike-fighters (more on that below).  It will in theory be possible to deploy a second carrier, but doing so is pretty much certain to require more money from Congress.  (Doing so would also enlarge and accelerate the readiness snowball for the Navy’s carrier force, a snowball that will inevitably become an avalanche of carrier unreadiness in the next three years, if world problems require unplanned operations during this period.)

The Air Force will have to carry the load of a strike on Iran, if there is to be one in the foreseeable future.  The Air Force’s forward-deployed squadrons will continue to train and conduct operational flights.  The B-2s and some of the B-52s, which can deploy immediately and/or operate globally from their bases stateside, will remain combat ready.  But the strike-fighter squadrons at their home bases in the States, which would be called on if a major operation had to be ordered, will be in an impaired state of readiness.  The aircrews will fall out of combat qualification when they haven’t been able to get their training hours in (and some aircraft maintenance will be deferred as well).  If the president wanted to order a new operation, beyond our current military commitments, it is not clear what would happen.

Geography rules

This is a good time to briefly review the features of the hole we are backing into, with respect to an Iran strike.  (I wrote more about some of them in February).  The features of this hole can be grouped geographically and in terms of military resources.

Geographically, the potential axes of approach to Iran for a nuclear-facilities strike have been whittled down significantly, through political attrition and strategic disuse.  Five years ago, U.S. forces might have approached from multiple axes, including possibilities like operating intelligence or refueling aircraft out of Turkey, or inserting special forces from Iraq.  These were at least political possibilities at that time; today, they fall between unlikely and not happening.

Moreover, it is no longer guaranteed that we would be able to launch the Air Force’s strike-fighter aircraft from Qatar or Kuwait, still less from a base in UAE or Oman.  We don’t normally operate Air Force aircraft from Bahrain, but even Bahrain – long our closest partner in the Gulf – may not be a fallback option.  Iraq will not be an option at all, and Afghanistan would object to being used as a base for launching attacks on Iran.  The same can be said of Pakistan.

If the Air Force has to launch most of the aircraft for this operation, we have a serious problem.  B-2s and B-52s launch from elsewhere, of course, but for certain types of bombing, they will require fighter escort protection while over Iran.  Refueling tankers orbiting over the Gulf will require fighter protection as well, as will the EA-3 Sentry airborne command and control platform.

We may or may not have the use of other nations’ air space to approach Iran (e.g., Kuwait’s, Jordan’s, Saudi Arabia’s, or Oman’s); if we don’t, there will be one way in and out of the Persian Gulf air space through which manned bombers will have to transit.  That in itself is a significant vulnerability.  Geographically, there is a real possibility that the U.S. would be limited to bringing aircraft in through the air space over the Strait of Hormuz.  If there is nowhere local for aircraft to recover – e.g., Oman – that limitation would effectively knock the Air Force strike-fighters out of a small operation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/state-of-unreadiness/2013/04/23/

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