Department of Defense Head Ashton Carter Enlists Silicon Valley to Transform the Military | WIRED


Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is transforming the Pentagon—by introducing it to Silicon Valley

THE “DOOMSDAY PLANE” weighs 800,000 pounds when fully loaded and can withstand the effects of a nuclear bomb or asteroid blast while remaining aloft for 12 hours without refueling. First deployed in 1974, the Boeing E-4B has been the preferred mode of long-range transportation for US secretaries of defense ever since. But when Ashton Carter’s staff discovered the behemoth would literally crush the runway in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he planned to attend the annual gathering of tech elite at the Allen & Co. conference, the SecDef nimbly switched to a sleek Gulfstream V. He jetted in with just a few aides, his wife (the conference is something of a family affair), an overnight bag weighing less than 10 pounds—and the message that the US military has a new spirit of agile entrepreneurialism.

Source: Department of Defense Head Ashton Carter Enlists Silicon Valley to Transform the Military | WIRED

How Proxy Wars Work – By Lionel Boehner November 12, 2015


With U.S.-made antitank missiles finding their way to Syrian rebels and Russian fighter jets pummeling the same rebels and supplying the Bashar al-Assad regime with antiaircraft missile systems, it might seem easy to describe the battle in Syria as a proxy war. But that phrase gets tossed around too carelessly and comes with some dangerous myths.

First, describing the Syrian quagmire as a proxy war implies that the conflict is mainly about larger fissures in the region, especially the rift between Sunni and Shiite, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Second, it suggests that the conflict will be resolved chiefly by outside actors hashing out their differences at the table. Third, the phrase indicates that the conflict is an incredibly high-stakes game involving existential issues on which compromise is impossible.

As the history of past proxy wars teaches, though, all three assumptions are wrong. To bring the fighting in Syria to an end, all parties involved will need to get real about what a proxy war is—and what it isn’t. Proxy wars do not miraculously extinguish themselves without some measure of bottom-up attempts to make peace among local fighters or a fundamental shift in the conflict’s balance of power on the ground.

Smoke rises from what activists said was a military position of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after clashes with Army of Islam fighters, outside Douma, near Damascus September 13, 2015.

Smoke rises from what activists said was a military position of forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad after clashes with Army of Islam fighters, outside Douma, near Damascus September 13, 2015.

COLD WAR THINKING

The term “proxy war” conjures images of the Cold War, when outside powers—namely, the United States and Soviet Union, but also regional players—treated local combatants as pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of guerrilla conflicts in Latin America became de facto conflicts between the Soviet Union and the United States. Ditto wars in Angola, Chad, and Vietnam.

Just as it was unthinkable in those days that Washington and Moscow would get tangled in a conventional war, it is hard to imagine the United States and Russia going to war today. And, in fact, proxy wars are prevalent when the costs of traditional interstate war are high. And so, Hezbollah-backed Syrian forces and rebels from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIS) can go at each other’s throats with little risk of regional escalation.

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https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-11-12/how-proxy-wars-work

Embedded in Northern Afghanistan: The Resurgence of the Taliban – Vice News Published on Nov 6, 2015


In late September, the Taliban launched an offensive against Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, capturing key buildings and freeing hundreds of prisoners from the city’s jail.

American planes targeted Taliban positions, but at the beginning of October, a hospital run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) was hit, killing 22 hospital staff and patients, with many seriously injured. The Pentagon later admitted that the strike was a mistake.

Gaining exclusive access to the Taliban, VICE News filmmaker Nagieb Khaja spoke to fighters that briefly took control of Kunduz — the first major city to fall to the group since it was ousted from power in 2001.

Watch “Robert Grenier: The VICE News Interview” – http://bit.ly/1KTO5aw

The Most Militarized Universities in America: A VICE News Investigation – Vice News Published on Nov 5, 2015


While a tap on the shoulder by a campus recruiter at Princeton or Yale may have once led students down the path to joining the clandestine services, and a law degree may once have been a prerequisite to becoming a government special agent, those days, if they ever existed, are gone.

That’s just one of the findings from a VICE News investigation to determine the most militarized universities and colleges in America. These schools have the closest — and most profitable — relationships with the national security apparatus, producing the greatest number of alumni employed by the Intelligence Community.

Read “These Are the 100 Most Militarized Universities in America” – http://bit.ly/1GNa349

The Resurgence of the Taliban (Trailer)- Vice News Published on Nov 2, 2015


In late September, the Taliban launched an offensive against Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, capturing key buildings and freeing hundreds of prisoners from the city’s jail.

The offensive sparked a fierce battle between the militants and government forces, supported by US airstrikes. After several days of fighting, Afghan troops recaptured the city, and took down the Taliban’s flag from the central square.

American planes targeted Taliban positions, but at the beginning of October, a hospital run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) was hit, killing 22 hospital staff and patients, with many seriously injured. The Pentagon later admitted that the strike was a mistake.

Gaining exclusive access to the Taliban, VICE News filmmaker Nagieb Khaja spoke to fighters that briefly took control of Kunduz — the first major city to fall to the group since it was ousted from power in 2001.

Watch “Robert Grenier: The VICE News Interview” – http://bit.ly/1KTO5aw

U.S. to Send Special Forces to Syria – By Adam Entous,  Gordon Lubold and  Carol E. Lee Updated Oct. 30, 2015 7:35 p.m. ET


Deployment of up to 50 commandos would be first sustained U.S. ground presence in Syria

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at Oct 31, 2015 5.56

The Obama Administration on Friday announced the deployment of up to 50 Special Forces troops to Syria to advise on a new military campaign against ISIS. This is the first sustained U.S. ground presence in the country.

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is sending special-operations forces to northeastern Syria, a shift in strategy that establishes the first sustained American military presence in the campaign against Islamic State in the war-ravaged country.

Up to 50 U.S. special-operations troops will assist Syrian rebel units spearheading what the Pentagon says would be a new military offensive against the militant group, marking a sharp escalation in the level of direct U.S. involvement on the ground inside Syria. The American forces are to link up with local forces in Kurdish-controlled territory whose mission will be to choke off supply lines to Islamic State militants in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

The move marks a change for President Barrack Obama who had long promised not to send ground forces to Syria.

“They are not being deployed with a combat mission,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “The mission of our men and women on the ground has not changed.”

If the initial deployment bears fruit, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday that he would be open to deploying more forces.

“We are going to continue to innovate, to build on what works,” Mr. Carter told reporters on a military jet as it landed in Fairbanks, Alaska, for the first leg of a trip through Asia. “Our role fundamentally and the strategy is to enable local forces. But does that put U.S. forces in harm’s way? It does, no question about it.”

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-to-send-special-forces-to-syria-1446216062

US jets intercept Russian warplanes off Korean peninsula – BBC News 29 October 2015


A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter lands onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered super carrier, during a joint naval drill between South Korea and the US in the West Sea, South Korea, Wednesday, 28 October 2015

AP A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet lands on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan during a joint naval drill with South Korea

The US Navy scrambled four F/A-18 jets to intercept Russian warplanes which flew near a US aircraft carrier off the Korean peninsula, officials say.

A spokesman for the White House said the Russian planes flew close to the USS Ronald Reagan during a joint military exercise with South Korea.

Josh Earnest said the incident “did not result in significant confrontation”.

US-Russia relations have deteriorated, particularly over the conflicts in eastern Ukraine and Syria.

Mr Earnest said there were “vigorous disagreements” between the two countries, but that the chill in ties did not reflect the events of the Cold War.

Map

A US Navy official told Reuters news agency that two Russian Tu-142 Bear aircraft flew within a nautical mile of the Reagan.

The incident took place in international waters and air space in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, according to the White House.

Article continues:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34672611