Situation Report: Baltimore is burning, IEDs and drones in Ukraine, the F-35 gets dinged again, and lots more
By Paul McLeary and Ariel Robinson RED SIREN Up to 5,000 armed Maryland National Guard troops are currently on their way to patrol the streets of Baltimore after a series of rolling street fights between rioters and a disorganized and mostly ineffective Baltimore Police Department. The rioting comes in response to the funeral of Freddie ...
By Paul McLeary and Ariel Robinson
By Paul McLeary and Ariel Robinson
RED SIREN Up to 5,000 armed Maryland National Guard troops are currently on their way to patrol the streets of Baltimore after a series of rolling street fights between rioters and a disorganized and mostly ineffective Baltimore Police Department. The rioting comes in response to the funeral of Freddie Gray, the African-American man who died in police custody.
“We are going to be out in massive force, and that basically means that we’re going to be controlling the streets” of Baltimore, Maryland National Guard Adjutant General Linda Singh said at a news conference Monday night, insisting that “this is not martial law.” Her troops will roll into town in uparmored Humvees for their own protection, she said.
It also looks like Maryland officials are preparing to adopt a pretty serious “clear and hold” strategy over the coming days, with Guard troops holding areas where local and state police have already tramped down the violence.
This matters too. On April 29, National Guard and Reserve leadership heads to Capitol Hill to testify about budgets before the House Armed Services Committee. Baltimore will matter. But will the “National Commission on the Future of the Army?”
The congressionally-mandated panel is looking at the ways that Big Army will have to play with the Guard and Reserve in the coming years, in particular the Army’s plan to take away the Guard’s Apache attack helicopters, replacing them with Blackhawk utility birds. The Guard hates the idea, but ask yourself what would be more effective over Baltimore? Apaches, or helos that can evacuate the wounded? No judgments here.
We’re from the U.S. government, and we’re here to help. As SitRep reported last week, about 300 U.S. soldiers from the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade are in Western Ukraine training Ukrainian National Guard troops in a variety of small unit tactics. They’re also conducting some counter-drone and counter-IED classes….which is something that piqued our interest.
Details have been hard to come by but Maj. Mike Weisman, a spokesman for the 173rd emailed SitRep that the instruction was “asked for by the Ukrainian government.” Weisman also said that Ukrainian troops are seeing drones “flown by Russian-backed separatists in East Ukraine. Our training focuses on understanding and operating in this environment, and how to minimize their effectiveness.”
Similarly, Weisman confirms that Ukrainian forces have been getting hit with IEDs, though declined to provide more details about what they look like, how they’re being made, and if they represent more evidence of Russian involvement. “What we’re doing terms of counter-IED is basically taking our very real and recent experiences over the past 14 years in Iraq and Afghanistan and helping them in terms of identifying and responding to the threat,” he wrote.
The Situation Report is back for another round. Hope you’re enjoying it. As ever, if you have any concerns, comments, or tips/notices to pass along, give us a shout at email@example.com or on Twitter: @paulmcleary.
Break out the red pens and prepare yourselves for a series of “smart takes” on what that State Department is doing wrong, because Secretary of State John Kerry is releasing the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) report today at 4:00 pm.
On April 27, the House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) unveiled his $611 billion version of the 2016 defense spending bill that would obligate a whopping $89.2 billion in supplemental war funding — $38.3 billion of which would fund programs and activities that normally live in the Pentagon’s base budget. (The Defense Department had asked for $51 billion in its request.)
President Obama has said that he will veto any bill that comes from the Hill that tries to work around the budget cuts that Congress itself enacted, but since the numbers in the bill actually, in the end, equals the Defense Department’s original budget request, it’s unclear what might happen next.
While the numbers might be there however, the intent sure isn’t. The GOP-penned document moves money all over the place, outlining an agenda very different from the one set forth by the Defense Department in its original request. The document also “challenges the White House because it includes lethal weapons for Ukraine,” while also making it harder for the president to empty the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and blocking a round of base closures that the White House and defense leadership wants, Reuters reports.
The Committee also proposed to block the A-10 retirement in their authorization. In fact, the GOP is all about aircraft, this year, providing additional funding for F-18s and F-35Bs and new helicopters for the National Guard. More from John T. Bennett for Defense News here.
Ah, yes. The F-35. The chronically troubled $391 billion program that will eventually produce 2,457 warplanes has been dinged again. The Government Accountability Office reported on April 27 that it found 61 violations of quality management rules in its inspection of engine maker Pratt & Whitney’s work. “More than half of the problems were deemed major” the report said, according to Reuters’s Andrea Shalal. Read the rest for all of the other big-dollar issues involved.
And in other news of ‘things Congress wants that the Pentagon doesn’t,’ Jen Judson and Jeremy Herb set the scene in Politico for what they write may be one of the most partisan issues this budget season: a new ICBM interceptor site on the Eastern Seaboard.
Coming in 2016: The U.S. Navy confirmed that two Littoral Combat Ships will be deployed to Singapore in 2016. It plans to operate four of the ships out of Singapore by 2018, reports Ridzwan Rahmat for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.
The Israel Navy’s “cyber warriors” are “engaged in an intensive and rapidly developing technological arms race,” reports Yaakov Lappin for the Jerusalem Post.
Lappin also provides some analysis on Israel’s recent air strikes against the “Axis of Resistance and Deterrence,” and the implications of Hezbollah’s response. A “high-stakes covert war,” could erupt into violence, he writes, although all parties have an interest in avoiding such a situation.
Finland is the latest country to beef up its defense budget in light of Russian aggression, writes Gerard O’Dwyer for Defense News. Don’t get too excited, though — their current budget is less than half of either Norway’s or Sweden’s annual defense spending.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen has become catastrophic,” Reuters reports. “Relief officials said on Monday, as Saudi-led aircraft pounded Iran-allied Houthi militiamen and rebel army units for a second day, dashing hopes for a pause in fighting to let aid in.
Finally, “how do you like them apples?” The U.S. Air Force has awarded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a contract that could be worth $3 billion contract to operate a research and development center in Lexington, Massachusetts.
The lab, which will work on a variety of national security projects is being funded by an initial award of $600,000, “will apply advanced technology to problems of national security,” the service said on April 27. “Research and development activities focus on long-term technology development as well as rapid system prototyping and demonstration” the announcement read.
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